Friday, March 21, 2014

NO, I DO NOT HAVE GOOD HAIR

Recently, I came across a Natural who I had met during one of our meet ups. My hair was up in a bun and she was excited to finally see it loose. (I'm almost always in loose twists or braids with my ends tucked in)
As she came closer, she noticed my thin hair line and I could see the confusion on her face.
 "You too?" she said and I smiled.
 "Yes o, haven't you seen my improved iya iyabo on my blog?" I asked. And she replied with a "NO''. Lol... I took down my hair band and she saw that there was a huge difference between what grows in front and the rest of them.
After giving her a brief history of my hair, she was shocked to hear that my hair line was much thinner some years ago.

Going through my blog I see that I never fully discussed my hair and its short comings. So if you are a  reader and you have not noticed what I call my improved-iya-iyabo hair line here's what it looks like.

A Little History
 For the most part of my life, I have been natural. Mom, my precious Aunty E, and a few other ladies (I cant remember all of them now) took care of my hair until I got into secondary school. My first year in boarding house saw me taking care of my hair myself because I had not yet found a plaiting patner. In JSS3 (Junior Secondary School) I permed my hair and almost everything in front fell off. In SS1 (Senior Secondary School) I transitioned and by SS2 second term I had my hair back. After graduation, I decided I was going to relax my hair just to show that 'me sef, don age"  and by my 4th year in University, I was back to where I started from but with a difference...
  Ms Natural Hair with no edges.
2009-2011
By the time I started growing my Natural hair again, I noticed that my edges were nearly gone. I worried about it for a while but then I started ignoring it. Every now and then a natural would tell me what remedy she found,I would salute her but never follow up on her advice. I might start applying whatever oil she asked me to use but after a week I would get bored and stop.
Hair Blogs,my favourite places to be when I started my journey, sort of encouraged me to take care of it but then I found that if I left it alone, it 'seemed' to get better.

During my NYSC it improved but then I passed out and life happened.
     
The picture to the left was taken during my NYSC...look at my hair line can you see the difference?

2012/2013
Last year was a transition period for me. Fresh out of NYSC I started to see that life after school was more adventurous than I expected. Finding myself in the midst of all the well meaning advice I was getting plus all that I wanted to do was not easy. Juggling a job and my many other interests left me exhausted with little time to care for me as a person not to talk of my hair. There was a month when I could not get myself to eat even when I thought I was hungry. The crashing point was when I had to close my nose to force food down my throat. But before it  got to my stomach, I was running to bring it back out. With goose bumps all over my skin I fell down sobbing. I knew then and there that some things had to give.

2014
I am still learning to find balance and I'm getting better at saying N-O. Farida of Lumo Naturals has also been very supportive. I have added and deleted some steps in my regimen as my hair is sort of longer and my ends tend to get dry very fast.
My poor diet and neglect caused me some breakage early this year but fingers crossed, things would get better. 12 months is how long I have given myself to see if I can solve the problem that 4 years of relaxing and tight braiding has caused me. If my edges get fuller, fine, if not...we continue as we began-with scanty edges :)
All in all, I am very grateful to God, that I did not end up bald after all the damage that relaxers caused me... but now you know, I don't have a perfect head of hair.

 
 2009
2013...shrinkage is your friend :)

 

                        Style name: My hair must pack :)

       
                                                 Hair pins save the day

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HAIR TALK: THE EXTREMELY LAZY NATURAL II (YOUR RESPONSIBILITY)

Picture from CN2

After reading the first Part I some of you might ask...
What exactly is my hair care responsibility? 
The fact is that most of us grew up with other people taking care of our hair. In Nigeria where labour can be cheap, getting someone to wash and style your hair can be easy. Our mothers might have been the ones to wash our hair  but most times than not the responsibility of styling and maintenance was someone else's job. This sort of slipped in as a habit and now that we are  older, a lot of us are still over dependent on hair stylists who sometimes know very little about afro-hair care. 
I have met women who think it is tight fisted or broke ladies who wash their hair by themselves. Its no wonder why a lot of us actually rock severe 'iya iyabo' like it is a style that has always being in season.
If you can give yourself a bath each day, then please work up liver to take some responsibility for your hair. 
Since we all know that a lot of our hair stylists know next to nothing about kinky or permed hair it is our responsibility to:
1. Educate them or direct them on what to do with our hair, and
2. Take proper care of our hair first before letting them style it.

To elaborate more on this, two extremely laid back naturals have given me the permission to share the error in their ways. 

ELN #1: Ms P

I met Ms P in 2012 and we have stayed in touch since then (you know how naturals connect easily). 
Three weeks ago, she called me to come style her hair. We agreed on a date, which was tight for both of us, but knowing how our schedules where we decided to stick to the plan. On our appointment I was so disappointed to find her with damp hair that was tightly coiled at the roots because it was not properly stretched. We met at 12:00pm and she was to go to work by 2:00pm!! Her excuse was that she came back very late from work the previous day and could only wash her hair early that morning. Harmattan had gone so there was no way she could have air dried her hair and be ready for our appointment by 12:00pm.
We attempted to quickly blow dry her hair but when I started braiding, the
roots did not look neat at all (sorry, I forgot to take a picture)

Solution:
Instead of braiding and leaving her with rough hair, as it was not my fault (na so our hair stylists dey reason na) I decided to smooth her hair and thread it so that when next we meet styling would be easier on both parties.

         RESULTS
Ms P wanted the style I had recently done for EnKay so we did hers with a slight twist :)


ELN #2: My Sister


Believe it or not this really is my sisters hair. Yes, all four of us seem to have different hair textures but that is no excuse for why her hair looks the way it does.
Now, this yeye girl  decided to wear her hair out like Resane Babalwa of Sisterhood. When she got back home, she did not moisturise and braid or even thread to keep the kinks protected....no....not my sister, she went straight to bed like that. I refused to wake her up because I have this suspicion that I make my sisters hair lazy. They take care of their when in school but when they are around me, its like they don't even try. Its seems like my 'hair talk'  is only to be applied in school and never at home.
Back to my madam, by the next morning, I had to restrain myself from telling her what to do but by evening I couldn't take it any more. I sat her down, sprayed on some water, patiently detangled, and braided her hair. The funny part is that detangling was not as difficult as I expected. I then proceeded to give her the LumoNaturals henna mix treatment I had promised her. 
This child needs to start paying me, because she keeps saying "when you are here nko? why should I bother?" 
No be her fault sha, there are dishes I do not eat until she is around:)
Why are my stressing both ladies?
Simple, I have told them times without number to take care of their hair before sitting down for me or anyone else to style their hair. Why?

1. Time: When we refuse to take proper care of our hair, we spend a lot of time trying to smoothing out kinks that could have taken us a few minutes to stretch.

2. Knots and Breakage: The results of poorly maintained natural hair. Keep the knots away by properly detangling and stretching natural hair after washing and before sleeping (when you wear the fro out)

3. Slow growth: Your hair would take a longer time to get to your desired length if it keeps breaking off due to neglect.

4. Wastage: I had to take four trips to Ms P's, no thanks to her care free attitude towards her hair. I mean, she could have washed her hair days before I came. Abi? (one love Ms P :))

5. Frustration: Unkempt natural hair can frustrate both you and the hair stylist - who might know very little about your hair type and its needs. Keep those tears at bay, take care of ya hair ya self :)

6. Cost: Both of this ladies are my people, but if they were clients best believe I will charge them double for their negligence.


My Opinion...
While it might be someone else's job to style your hair, it is your job to take proper care of it. Know your hair texture and what it responds to. With the knowledge at your finger tips it will be easy for you to tell others what you want instead of complaining.

HAIR TALK: THE EXTREMELY LAZY NATURAL I


          Nigerian Hair styles in the 60's
Hi People!
First of all let me start by setting the record straight: I am not a professional hair stylist o, I just know how to braid natural hair. That said, lets proceed to the topic at hand.
When most of us hear about going natural, the first thing that comes to mind is "hard work". Some of us get past this thought while others battle till they give up. For an intro, I will describe both ladies mentioned under 2 categories: The Enthusiastic Natural and the Extremely Lazy Natural

Enthusiastic Natural
These category of ladies have decided to go natural but they dread the time, energy and resources that go into the process. Instead of dumping the idea and/or sticking to what they have always known, they discuss their hair problems with friends who started their journeys before them, visit natural hair blogs, and try out styles and products, so they can find the regimen that works just right for their life style.

Extremely Lazy Natural
The others, who I'm focusing on in this post, have decided to go natural but can't really be bothered with anything apart from the vision they have of themselves with big hair. They admire natural hair styles, can not wait to spot that big fro... but the wahala of learning about hair textures and techniques is just too much for them. After many frustrations, they finally learn to wash their natural hair properly and maybe learn a few easy dc treatments along the way but that is where their adventure stops. They can't be bothered with stretching,they get frustrated with styling and sometimes resolve to weaves/wigs for the most part of their short journey. Lastly, they can be  the biggest critics of salons and stylists.
While their assessment of some hair stylists might be true (to some extent) the cause of their hair troubles rests on their shoulders.

End of Part One 

Part 2 coming up later in the day

NatM Asks: What Category do you belong to? Do you have friends or relatives that are extremely laid back? And how do you encourage them to be independent?


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hair Talk & Hair Inspiration

Remember what I told you about threading before visiting the salon? Here is an example.
 The lady in the pictures has a very sensitive scalp so pulling on her hair to create straight lines was definitely out of the question
  
 To reduce the pain she usually experiences during plaiting she...
  • Sprayed water on a section of her hair
  • Applied Natural Nigerian Leave in Detangling Conditioner
  • Combed and
  • Threaded
By the next day her hair was soft and ready for plaiting.
  
Don't be fooled into thinking she has fine hair o...She has tight curls and what some of you call 'stubborn hair' (the type that breaks combs). But with proper preparation sectioning was not a problem at all.
Did I mention that I absolutely love her hair color?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

HARMATTAN HAIR CARE II


Head Wraps for the dry dusty weather
STILL ON WASHING....
 I recently over heard 3 ladies talking about rocking a style for all of harmattan and getting another for the rest of dry season. Hm! I know its hard to keep our hair soft and moisturized during the harsh dry weather  but is it wise to leave a style in for that long? Here are somethings you should consider before keeping that style in....
  • Dust in the air:  During this season,  there is a lot of dust in the air and the oils/butters you have applied hold on to it until you wash. So,what we should aim for is clean healthy hair and not dirty oily 'protected' hair. 
Tip: If you can not wash your hair as frequently as you will like, learn to tie head wraps. They are time savers for busy naturals in these dry/dusty times.
  • Dry Scalp: Just as your skin gets dry during harmattan so also can your scalp get dry. A sign of dryness can be seen as flakes of dead skin on the scalp or attached to the roots of your hair. Instead of oiling your scalp to hide the flakes wash  it off regularly and oil the scalp after wash day.

    Tip: To wash your hair/scalp remember to use mild shampoos, bars, clays or apple cider vinegar in place of harsh shampoos that tend to strip off  natural oils from your scalp.
    Oils like olive oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil are great for oiling the scalp.
     
  • Mama Iyabo: The easiest way to prevent chop-chop (breakage) is by moisturizing your hair frequently. Oiling your hair might make it feel soft but that doesn't mean it is moisturized. By the time you loosen and attempt to detangle, you'll rip the results of your neglect...
Tips: Want to avoid daily styling and breakage while keeping hair clean and moisturized? Simple, plait styles that don't take time loosen e.g Chunky braids and or twists (see my huge braids below). You can carry these styles for 2 weeks or less. What I love most about simple styles is that they allow  you...
1. Monitor your edges and
2. Have access to your scalp for proper oiling and washing
Most importantly, chunky braids and twists, if properly done, can be less harmful to your edges (especially when you use extensions) 
 Noble Dreadlocks was used for both styles above...can you tell that it isn't kanekelon hair?
 If you prefer Ghana-braids or medium twists as seen in the pictures above go for kinky extensions like Noble Dreadlocks and Royal Silk (see pics. below). Both brands blend beautifully well with  type 4 hair so you can wash often without worrying about your hair looking old too soon.
   
                                                                                                      Source

DEEP CONDITIONING
This is one step that can not be overlooked. Dry hair (even when in protective styles) will definitely cause breakage during harmattan. Some of you have sent me mails asking for the best deep conditioners in the Nigerian market and my response, I think,  should be very disappointing for the lazy new naturals.
Truth is, my favorite DC treatments come from the kitchen so I hardly ever buy anything in a bottle that is strictly for deepconditioning. See below for some of my favorite harmattan DC treatments:

1. Coconut Milk : Buy 2 or 3 coconuts, take the meat of the husk and blend it with some water. Separate the chaff from the milk and let it seat in a see through container. I usually do this a day before wash day so I keep the milk in the refrigerator. By the next day, you will notice that the milk has separated from the water. Pour out the water and use the milk as a deep conditioning treatment.
I use this mix when my hair is very dry and before doing a roller set. It always gives me good results afterwards.

2.Aloe DC Mix: Aloe vera juice helps reduce breakage. For this recipe, I prefer using gel/juice straight from the plant.
How To:
  •  Cut a leaf that grows towards the bottom of the plant.
  • Wash leaf and let seat it in a bowl for 10 minutes so the sap can drain from the leaf.
  • Using a knife, cut open the leaf and scoop out the gel using a spoon. I sometimes use a knife to scrape out the gel. 
  • Mix the gel with your favorite conditioner (so it does not drip all over you) and olive oil.
3.Lazy Day DC 1: On those lazy hair days when I do not feel like whipping anything up for my hair, I apply Natural Nigerian Leave in conditioner to my freshly washed hair, braid, cover hair with a plastic shower cap and top that with a steaming cap. After 30 minutes, I put off the steamer and let my hair air dry. When almost dry, I apply my Shea mix to each section of hair and go on my merry way ^_^. The last step is to help seal in moisture.
Lazy Day DC 2: In a little bowl,  mix Vo5 moisture milk conditioner (or any other conditioner that is handy) with olive oil or coconut oil, and a few drops of peppermint oil (for the effect). Leave on hair for 30mins or more, rinse and then style. Shikena!

If you have a DC mix or two that you would love to share with us, leave a comment in the box below.

SEALING & MOISTURIZING
This is a very important step in getting soft manageable natural hair during harmattan. Immediately after applying your leave in, follow up with your shea butter mix, or carrier oil.

Tips: Again, please note that oils and butters do not moisturize the hair. Instead of 'pouring' oil on your hair strands when they feel dry, take the time out to...
*Spray on  some water,
*Smooth some shea butter or oil on it to seal in the mositure, and 
*Thread or braid.
Tip For Your Edges: Spray on some water and then apply your favorite oil to seal in the moisture. This should protect your baby hairs from falling out due to dryness. For me, I apply the oil and then massage it into my scalp as well.

STYLING
My chunky braids.
We used kinky extensions to braid/twist 13 fat rows
Protective styles like kinky braids/twists are great but if not done properly, can cause more harm than good.
Keeping your ends tucked in is not a bad idea but you can go ahead to be very creative during the harmattan season. There is very little moisture in the air so styles like twist outs and roller sets will last  longer than they do during rainy season. Remember that what comes after February is
heat!! So enjoy the few weeks of dry but not very hot weather.

Tips: Before heading out to the salon (whether  a natural salon or not) take the time out to properly moisturize and detangle your hair. I have noticed that the longer type 4 hair gets, the curlier it gets at the ends. When braiding, this can be a problem for the stylist as the hair will keep coiling and sometimes begin knotting at the ends.
To avoid this, spray on some water a day before going to the salon, and comb/detangle hair properly to separate clumped hair strands and take out shed hair. Smooth on some of your favorite oil and then braid or thread.
If your hair is properly detangled it should be much more easier for the stylist  to separate your hair at the ends without much of a problem- using just his/her fingers.

After washing my hair and leaving it in braids for some days, it clumps together like in the picture above. Sectioning it in this state can be painful so I moisturize, comb, seal, and thread to make it easier for the stylist and I. 
(Hi, Lumo Naturals!!)
 For me, it is easier to section and braid type4 hair when it is stretched out.




 Remember my little sister who did a BC? Yes o, she has gained some length.Yay!! 
(more on building regimens for your young ones in secondary school later). 
During the holidays, washing and combing everyday was breaking her hair so we decided to do chunky twists. Her hair was clean but very dry so we sprayed water on each section, smoothed on some gel and shea butter, then twisted. She wore this style for a week.
        
 Little sister #3 wanted an updo so I gave her one :). Thanks to gel, a brush and satin scarf, she was able to wear this style for a week. *Sorry, I forgot to take day 7 photos.    
That is all for now, feel free to leave any questions you have in the box below.
Note that most (if not all) of the points shared above were picked up while  taking care of type 4 hair in Nigeria (different hair types and different weather conditions might give different results to different people). If you have looser or tighter coils, and any of  these tips does not work for you, please go on to learn more about your hair, be creative this season. Remember to share your secrets with us though because a lot of Naturals (especially in Nigeria) are still very confused on what to do with their hair :)
 Bless!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

HARMATTAN HAIR CARE: PRODUCTS, TOOLS & TECHNIQUES


Harmattan haze in Abuja
 (Picture taken in Jabi District on the 15th of  January 2014)

We are in the middle of the harmattan season and I'm sure that a lot of us are rocking protective styles to protect our manes. Natural or permed, most Nigerian sisters are scared of the dry season. To hear some of you complain, one can almost conclude that the dry harmattan winds blow in and out, taking all our hair strands away with it. Harmattan can either be your best friend or worst enemy, it all depends on how well you know and  treat your hair/skin.
Now, a lot of us think that the best way to take care of black hair in this season is to rush to a salon and get some mean protective style. But is this really the solution or a sure recipe for rocking Iya Iyabo?(no edges)

African Hair & Harmattan
After loosing a lot hair from neglect, I think I'm in the best position to tell you that protective styles can not guarantee mane-protection from the harsh weather. Your hair does not just need braids and  twists to stay healthy but the right regimen, techniques, tools and products. With this four, we should have a  healthy head of hair after harmattan goes away. Lets begin with....

PRODUCTS

What you need....
 Washing: Instead of using shampoos that can strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils, get some black soap. One of the most common soaps in the market is Dudu Osun. 
For ignorant Africans who think black soap is a voodoo soap, read this post by Jc of Natural Haven: "What is African black soap? "

Cowashing: To keep the hair clean without it feeling dry, you'll need a lot of conditioner. My best friends are Vo5 and TopKlass (see pic. above). They can easily be found in markets, supermarkets and salons. 

Sealing/Styling: To keep your hair moisturised you will need oils and butters like ;
coconut oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil, castor oil and shea butter mix (that contains some of the above oils). These oils/ butter helps seal in moisture,give shine and slip when necessary.
Manshanu (left) and Whipped shea butter mix (right)

Leave in Conditioners: Amongst other benefits, leave in's help with styling and can be used as a moisturizers when the hair feels dry. My favs are Natural Nigerian Moisture and detangling leave in conditioner and Cantu Shea butter leave in conditioning repair cream.

Deep Conditioning Treatment:  Like I said, moisture is your best friend in the harmattan. Without your hair having some moisture it will feel dry and can easily break off. Before braiding or styling make a simple DC mix, apply to your hair after washing, wear plastic shower caps, tie a towel (for heat), seat for 30mins and above, then rinse off. You can ignore regular DC treatments during rainy season but during harmattan, NO WAY!!

Tools: All you might need during this season is a wide tooth comb for detangling, a spray bottle and  plastic shower caps for deepconditioning.

MY TECHNIQUES
  
Before and after washing...see shrinkage abeg ^_^

 #1 WASHING: When natural hair grows, it takes a longer time to wash, dry and style. After complaining to a fellow Natural about my woes of breakage and the time I spend washing my hair every week here's a new technique I was taught:
  • Section hair as seen above. Patiently detangle using your fingers. 
Loosely braided hair ready for washing
*I added hemani zait jadayl hair formula and mustard oil to this step. Instead of detangling alone, I use the opportunity to do a pre poo treatment. After applying either hemani zait jadyl oil or mustard oil to my hair and detangling, I apply some to my scalp and massage. The oil seats on my hair for 30mins or more before washing.
  • Loosely braid hair so that water and products can easily be rinsed out.
  •  Proceed to wash, cowash, deep condition etc
 How to wash hair in loose braids:
Wash hair as usual but do not loosen the braids.
 Apply shampoo or conditioner to section, hold up the braid and wash scalp as usual.
Note: If the braid is too tight at the roots, you might not be able to properly wash your scalp.

Deep-conditioning hair in loose braids:
Liberally apply your DC mix to each braid. Wear plastic shower cap as usual, tie towel and let it seat for the preferred amount of minutes/hours  before rinsing.

After washing and deep conditioning...
  • Dab hair with a  cotton tshirt or towel to take out excess water.
  • Patiently loosen a braid
  • Detangle using your fingers and/or a wide tooth comb. (I used both)
* Because you had properly detangled your hair before braiding and washing, this should be very easy to do. Yes, there would be shrinkage (see pic above) but there would be very little knotting and tangling. 
  • Apply leave in and oil/ butter to section of hair, smooth and rebraid or thread.
After detangling all my hair, this is all I lost. I could not and still cannot believe it!

That's all for now,I will stop here so I don't bombard you with too much information, .Harmattan hair care continues in the next post, stay tuned.

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