Tuesday, 31 March 2015

So You're Thinking Of Going Natural: 7 Common Questions Answered

I get lots of questions about going natural. Some are just out of casual interest but many are from people who have been considering going natural for a while but are too scared to commit. I'm going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions or dispel some common misconceptions.

1. Natural Hair Seems Like SUCH Hard Work!


I'm not going to lie. It is hard work. The main reason for this is because you end up doing a lot of the basic maintenance and styling yourself and if you were a salon queen, this is quite a shock. Although there are more and more salons coming up that deal with natural hair, there are still a great many who are completely rubbish at natural hair so do your research before you try one. It is also virtually impossible to go to a hairdresser every day to do simple things like twist or moisturise or style your hair. Plus some salons charge extra for natural hair. Don't even get me started on that one. 

Like anything, though, you only do as much or as little as you want. Some people twist their hair every night, moisturise daily or cowash multiple times a week. Then there are the lazy naturals who swear by low manipulation and only wash and deep condition once or twice a month. It is really up to you.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Casual Racism In Kenya And How We Have Enabled It

I don't normally write social commentaries simply because a) I'm not very good at them b) they are very hard to articulate without polarising or offending and c) I like to believe in the good of the world and bad things make me sad so I tend to lurk on the sidelines of any social, economic or political issues.

But racism in Kenya is something I am becoming increasingly aware of and increasingly outspoken about, in conversations with friends, strangers and on social media. I've lived in a few countries in Africa, Europe and Asia and when you live abroad, you are hyper-aware of racial nuances. I have perhaps been super fortunate because I can't say I ever had any racist encounters in any of the countries I lived in. I had a lot of ignorant ones of the 'Do you have tigers in your garden?' and 'Oh you're African, you must be healthy and strong' variety but those are usually more funny than anything else.

Is Laziness Hurting Your Hair?

The other day I wrote about how so many naturals are doing too much to their hair. Then on the other end of the spectrum are the lazy naturals. It's all: 'I wash my hair only once a month'. 'Oh yeah?! Well, I don't even sleep with a scarf.' 'Scarf schmarf. I use sulphates AND grease!' #OKyouwin

I'm not knocking the lazy brigade, hell, I'm slowly joining the ranks (no, that's a lie but I do subscribe to low manipulation because that works for me too). Lazy is the new black. But if your hair is hard, dry or breaking, then your laziness is more likely than not also your undoing. When lazies ask me why their hair isn't growing, my first question is always, 'Whats your regimen?'. And their answer is almost always: 'Oh, I'm too lazy for all that maneno, I just shampoo my hair, apply some oil and go. But by evening it's so dry and hard and painful to comb. What can I put to make it soft?'. Or, 'I'm so lazy, I usually braid/weave for 2 months, undo, treat (always a cholesterol treatment in the salon), blow dry and rebraid.' Or, 'Please, who can be bothered with doing nightly matutas, I'm too lazy, I just sleep. On my cotton pillowcase. Without a scarf'. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

How Modifying The LOC Method Saved Me From Dry Hair

My LOC Trio
I've been natural for about two and a half years so when I tell people that I only just figured out the LOC method, they look at me like, 'And you call yourself a blogger?!' To clarify, it's not that I didn't know about it, it's just that it never worked for me, no matter how much I tried. And goodness knows I tried!

For those who don't know, the LOC method is a method of applying product to your hair in layers to help seal in moisture. 

First apply:

L = Liquid. This can be water, aloe juice or a water-based leave in (first ingredient should be aqua).


O = Oil. Any natural oil will do although I see a lot of debate about whether to apply a penetrative vs sealing oil or a light vs heavy oil.

and finally:

C = Cream. This should be an emulsified base.  Or, in plain English, a product that has a liquid and a butter mixed together. It needs an emulsifier for the two to properly mix.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Can White People Use The Word 'Nappy'?


I recently joined a Facebook group about biracial hair and the majority of the group members are white women based in the US. I have seen the word 'nappy' used several times in discussions about hair care and hair typing; 'nappy hair with knots on the end', 'coarse and nappy' and 'unkempt, nappy hair' are just some of the examples. And these are women describing their own children's hair.

The trouble with words is that their intent is often open to translation and while I can not speak for these ladies and why they chose to use this word, I can say that it is the first time I have felt deeply offended by it. Could this be another dreaded N word, that black people are allowed to say but white people aren't? Because I have seen the word nappy being used by black people and never really paid it any mind. I ask myself, am I only so offended because it has been used by white women to describe their biracial children's hair and if so, is that fair? 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Are You Doing Too Much To Your Hair?

I do NOT know any black woman who's bathroom looks like this...
Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Cultura/Getty Images

When you first go natural, you're like a crazy person. Your hair becomes a living, breathing, entity. You give it a gender and a name and talk about the things 'she' likes and doesn't like. You read everything, watch everything, buy everything, try everything. All you think about is your hair. Or some other chick's hair that you want your hair to look like. You eat, sleep, drink hair. You'll be slicing up a nice fruit salad and think...should I try some of that on my hair? You'll be mixing up some guacamole for your lunch or blending baby food and you'll make extra so you can put some aside for your hair.

You move all the good stuff from your kitchen to your bathroom; your hair deserves nothing but the best, the extra-virgin-organic-cold-pressed best. Meanwhile, your family is living off bleached, deodorised, hydrogenated, vegetable fat, aka Kimbo. And you're taking the bus because you spent all your fuel money on hair products.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Pros & Cons Of Mini-Twists on 4C Hair

I love two strand twists. They are my go-to because they are quick to install and take down and easy to style and remoisturise. They are a great two-for-one because after you've worn your twists for a while you can wear your hair in a twist out. Win-win. 

I decided to try mini-twists because I wanted to break out of the '4C Hair Is Boring' rut but still wear a style a low manipulation style that would would help with my length retention goals. Plus I wanted a break from walking around looking like Da Brat. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Product Review: Hercules Sägemann Magic Star Jumbo Rake

Fancy name for a comb :)

Y'all know I don't comb my hair. Ever since I started my finger detangling challenge in 2013, I have combed my hair probably twice, and both times I regretted it so much it just reinforced my resolve not to return to combs.

So I was as surprised as anyone when I bought this comb. I had seen a few reviews on it but I really only started paying this comb any real attention when it got a rave review from Natural Haven. I was just kind of like..if it's good enough for her...lol. But seriously, the reason I considered it at all is because, quite frankly, finger detangling is exhausting! It just takes so bloody long! And yes, I see less breakage yadda yadda but it really takes quite some mental effort to prepare for a detangling session, so I took the plunge and ordered one online.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Is There Such A Thing As 'Mixed-Race Hair'?

*For the purpose of this post, I will be discussing people of mixed black and white heritage.

Before I get on my high horse, I just want to say that most of my life, I assumed that all mixed-race* people had a certain type of hair. I assumed they all had hair with a looser curl-pattern (read curly), that was easier to manage and that could grow long with seemingly no effort. Well, I say all but.. there were the 'backfired' ones. The odd ones here and there who'd end up with a head of kinks just like mine. Long kinks, yes, but kinks nonetheless. How we derided them! What was the point of being mixed if you didn't have 'good' hair?! And it wasn't just me who thought like that. These were all commonly upheld beliefs when I was growing up. Go on, admit it.

My daughter was born with dark, straight hair but as she got older, it started getting lighter-coloured and curlier. One day someone said to me, 'She's getting that .5 hair'.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Product Review: Shea Moisture JBCO Strength, Grow & Restore Treatment Masque

Phew! What a mouthful that name is!

Anywho. Shea Moisture have introduced three new product lines but this is the one that I have been most excited to try because I am making a concerted effort to DC regularly this year. That plus I've been on the hunt for a natural-friendly protein DC for a while! So I was super stoked to be able to buy one locally.

Whats In It:

  • Water (Aqua)
  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate
  • Glycerin

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

5 Natural-Hair Tips and Tricks To Save You Time And Money

Being natural does not mean having to spend a ton of time or money on your hair. Here are a few shortcuts that will keep your pockets fatter and save you time to watch trash tv read a book.

1. Mix Henna In Large Batches
I love henna but laziness means I don't henna as often as I'd like to. Often, I'll have an unexpected free day and I'll think 'woohoo! I'll henna my hair!'. Then I think of the time it will take to brew tea, mix the henna and let it sit 4 hours, all before I apply it and I'm like 'Nah! Maybe next time.'

The easiest way I have found around this is to make up a large batch of henna (I make enough for 3-4 applications), separate it into single-use portions, and freeze it as soon as the dye releases (about 4 hours). I store it in plastic containers or ziploc bags and when I feel the urge to henna it's a simple matter of defrosting, adding conditioners or oils of your choice to make a henna gloss and whacking it on. Voila. 

I freeze henna in takeaway containers