“Now this is the story all about how my life got flip-turned upside down. Now I’d like to take a minute, just sittin’ right there to tell you how I came to love my hair”. Congratulations if you recognise this most famous of opening lyrics. Jokes aside, this really is the story of how my whole outlook on hair, beauty and identity changed. Not just part 6, but the entire journey.
Since Part 5 of my natural hair journey (essentially my hair in April 2013), so much has happened. I think the main thing is that I have so much more confidence and I understand my hair so much better. I talk more about this in my post about abandoning length checks. I have settled on a regimen and overall haircare routine for my hair. I know what products and ingredients my hair likes and I know the consequences of neglecting certain things. I have more or less figured out my hair goals as well. One of the big lessons has also been returning to basics and many of the things that I did when I first went natural.
I will cover all these points in more detail in specific posts later, but briefly, here is what I almost know for sure:
1. Why do I say almost?
I have learned that my hair is growing and evolving and at each stage I must adjust something about what I do. I cannot treat it in exactly the same way throughout the year. Seasons (weather) matter. Also, certain styling techniques, methods and tools no longer work because my hair is now much longer than it was a year ago. As each year passes I am reminded that learning never stops. I may never have my hair completely figured out and that is just fine with me.
2. The importance of moisturising and then sealing. Ever since I began practising this more intentionally, especially sealing the bottom two inches of my hair with lashings of shea butter, I have observed fewer tangles and less breakage.
3. As my hair has grown longer, I find that I can do more with it, but I am also learning the limitations of finely textured hair. This is why sealing the ends is so important as they are prone to weakness and dryness if not treated with care. This is far much more of an issue now that I have gained more length. It also means that my goal to use African threading to stretch my hair has been largely dropped. I actually find braiding to be most effective. This is huge for me as I absolutely love the simplicity of installing and taking down two strand twists. But braiding is just more effective.
4. We naturalistas often get quite excited and end up as product junkies, using every new thing that comes on the market. In the past year I have found myself reverting to a more simplified regimen with fewer steps and fewer products.
5. I also managed to complete a whole year (and now plus two more months), without using any extensions. It has been amazing and so worth it. Without extensions to fall back on, I have been forced to get to know my hair, spend quality time up close and personal with it and just generally enjoy it. I had no choice but to learn more styles, or else I was going to crazy with boredom at wearing two strand twists day in and day out.
6. I have probably not retained as much length this past year because I wore my hair ‘out’ so much — and I loved it. Going forward, I will still wear my hair out, but I am experimenting with more interesting protective styles beyond just doing two strand twists.
7. I finally learned how to flat twist. I also conquered the flat twist and curl hair style. I learned how to RTP (roll, tuck and pin). So many other styles too.
8. I think I have settled on my main products and favourite ingredients too. Tresemme Naturals Conditioner and Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner are my two favourite store bought products. I don’t have a favourite shampoo, so I alternate between Kinky Curly Come Clean and The Body Shop Rainforest Moisture. With regard to natural ingredients, my hair cannot do without shea butter, honey and aloe vera juice. I also love bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar, tea tree essential oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil and Jojoba oil. A few months ago I started using Moringa powder for protein conditioning. I also use it to exfoliate my face. So far so good.
9. Recently, I have begun experimenting with African products and oils. I started with Moringa and have just introduced Mongongo Oil. Apart from Mongongo, I hope to transition away from Coconut, Olive, Jojoba and Grapeseed in favour of other African oils like Baobab and Marula. I am currently researching the mineral content of local clays in a bid to eliminate Bentonite. I am also looking at other ingredients and practices based on indigenous knowledge. The fact that I have mentioned these research efforts a number of times is probably why many people believed my April Fools’ day article on so called Acacia Tree Hair Food (LOL!!!). More on this soon.
10. Did I mention that I love my hair? I did? Well let me say it again just in case it wasn’t clear. I LOVE MY HAIR!