Natural hair in Miss Fizzy!

Hi all!

Sorry, I know it has been ages. Life has been totally hectic, I'm travelling at the moment... for work, not play, so I have a number of things on the go and an extremely chaotic couple of weeks coming up. Rest assured that I have been continuing with my style challenge, and photographing my hair every day, it's just been a matter of finding the time to upload the pictures. I will try to do this tomorrow (and also have a whole load of Kinky Hair 101 posts to cram in, and a rather exciting "How the rest of the world does it" feature), so you have lots to look forward to on the blog over the next few days.

Until then, let me introduce you formally to someone most readers of this blog are already familiar with... Miss Fizzy! Many of you already read her awesome blog that she writes with her BFF Z (who I will also be trying to rope in to doing a feature). A few of you will also have met her at our first birthday party in December, where she demonstrated her styling skills on a very lucky guest.

But enough of my harping on, read what she has to say yourself...

Photo courtesy of subject

My natural hair journey
I have been natural since February 2009. Hmmm.... I wish I had some deep moving story of self discovery and realization but the truth is that I thought I would look cute with a fro so (with the encouragement of my BFF Z), I cut off about 10 inches of hair to grow it out natural. There was obviously the anxiety that comes with losing the curtain of hair that I used to hide myself (and my huge forehead) behind but the joy of being natural overtook that anxiety and now I can't imagine ever having relaxed hair again. It did start off superficially, but I fell in love with my hair and everything that goes into being natural... and that was it. I'm a hundred percent certain that being natural will be a lifetime commitment for me.

Photo courtesy of subject
Like most big decisions in my life, my big chop was done without much thought. I had initially planned to transition long term, but one night I was looking at photos for inspiration and saw pictures of women who had big chopped and they looked so beautiful. I thought "hey I could rock that", totally forgetting how oddly shaped my head is. Then I got some scissors and systematically cut off the microbraids that I had just spent three days doing. I took a look in the mirror when I was done and freaked out. I haven't had hair that short since I was 6! I quickly put it in kinky twists... which I left in for exactly a week before I took them down again and decided to rock my own hair. From then on, it's been me and my fro on this fabulous adventure. (I do my hair myself before y'all start thinking I have money to burn on changing styles every week).

On being natural in Nigeria
Ugh... well Nigeria, Lagos especially, can be a stressful environment (physically, emotionally, mentally etc) and this stress has definitely taken its toll on my hair. In the time I've been back, I've retained very little length and this has severely retarded my hair growth. There just never seems to be enough time for hair or anything when you're dealing with insane traffic and inhumane work hours so my hair has definitely suffered from the lack of TLC, the heat, lack of rest, my diet and many other factors. As a result, I've recommitted myself to making time for the TLC that my hair needs (who needs sleep huh?). I've also changed my diet and I now eat much healthier (my siblings call it rabbit food) and work out a lot. I've seen a big improvement in the health of my hair and skin and my energy levels (and my abs look amazing... just saying).

Photo courtesy of subject
I do get lots of stares and (polite and impolite) questions about my hair. The most common being what type of weave I'm wearing... and the most annoying being "why don't you relax your hair so it will be long?" That's just the normal everyday stuff. Few people outside of work are brave enough to approach me with negative comments and most of the reactions I get are neutral or positive. My guy friends like playing in my afro and trying to see if they can feel my scalp through all the hair. They also dig the fact that my hair looks different every time they see me and that I'm not afraid to jump in the pool or walk in the rain.

The only place I've lived in where natural hair seems almost taboo is Nigeria. It is pretty sad that that's the case. I have turned a lot of people natural or had them considering it though and I'm not the only natural in Nigeria. If every natural helps 5 people change their way of thinking, we could really be moving forward. I've never actually set out to convert anyone because I don't care what anyone does with their hair, but people see my hair and decide they want that for themselves and make the decision. And this is great. (Note to relaxed women who keep trying to convert me, how would you like it if natural women went around trying to forcefully convince you to big chop? Just saying).

How my hair is received by others
My family thinks my hair is cool... my mum and several of my cousins have gone natural because of me. There was never any major kind of reaction to my hair. I had been away for a few years and I came home with short hair and it was just like "oh, she's home, hair's different". And that was it. 

Photo courtesy of subject

I work in a bank which is possibly the most conservative place to work and I wear my hair naturally most of the time. It's usually in small twists worn in an updo or bun or something but I still get told that I look unprofessional or messy and that "it's just not done". I get told to get weaves and relaxers on an almost daily basis with people even offering to pay for my hairdo. The few times I've worn braid extensions I've gotten comments such as "oh they've finally paid you enough money to do your hair".  I've gotten comments from higher ups, lower downs, hr staff, cleaning staff... mostly negative. But I'm a pretty confident person so it's easy for me to shrug them all off and continue on my fabulous way. It's also easy to ignore when the people offering this "friendly advice" have severely damaged relaxed hair or bird's nest weaves. I wore my hair straightened once and had to laugh at the way their jaws dropped when they saw how long my hair actually was and I told them it grew because I kept it natural. But then of course they went on to tell me to relax it so it will always look long. *rolls eyes and moves on* When I ask why I should relax my hair, no one can give me a straight answer other than "that's just what is done". So why is it done? *Silence*
My views on natural hair before I went natural
I will admit that my views were not always positive... I always wondered why they just didn't get a relaxer. The Nigerians I saw with natural hair wore their hair in such unattractive ways and styling it always looked so painful that it just didn't appeal to me. It wasn't until I moved to America and saw and researched natural hair that I understood the versatility and variety present in natural hair. 

Photo courtesy of subject 
My regimen
I don't really have a regimen because it really depends on what style my hair is in. If it's loose I wash once a week, if it's in twists or braids, then maybe every other week. I try to deep condition once a month, shampoo twice a month and co-wash once a week. I seal my ends every other day and trim every few months. I have gone up to a month without doing anything to my hair because of lack of time and my hair definitely suffered. I'm trying to grow my hair out now so I'm protective styling as much as possible (with loose twists) and deep conditioning weekly. I'll be using no heat, wearing my hair up 99% of the time and sealing, moisturising and cleansing as needed. If I can keep this up, I should see the results I want. 

Photo courtesy of subject
Well, I think I'm at a stage where I've fully accepted my hair. I've adopted a less is more attitude and I'm also over the hand in fro stage (kinda). The problem is finding the time to stick to a routine with everything else going on. But we make it work. 

Photo courtesy of subject
Thanks for featuring me :) 

And thank YOU for agreeing to be featured without too much cajolement.

Have a great start to the weekend, peeps!

30 days, 30 ways...Day 8

With today's style, I'm finally up to date with posting these. Not much to say here. My hair had lost most of its definition this morning, from not twisting with a product with hold, and it was starting to shrink. I just pulled it into a simple high puff with a scarf.

I had wanted to try something with a banana clip but my hair ate it.

30 days, 30 ways...Day 7

Been trying all day to get these out, but keep getting distracted by really insignificant things, like work.

Style inspired by the first picture on Lola’s feature.

I kept my hump from the day before, did 3 ponytails at the back and rolled and pinned the ends.

Not quite as tidy as I’d have liked, but I’m sure it will come with practise. Next time I’ll also accessorise with a bow or flower or something.

Natural hair in the Nigerian Diaspora... Joanna

Hey peeps,

Another "Natural hair in the Nigerian Diaspora" feature, and another forum friend of mine. Joanna's comments and responses never failed to crack me up on the hair boards. Read on and you'll see why!

Photo courtesy of subject

Hello! Ekaaro eveyone! I am Joanna. I am just your regular UK natural, 20-something years old, physiotherapy student at Nottingham. I love food, often have my nose in a book, am a Japanophile (language, anime, culture, food), a massive GOONER and I have a thing for natural hair.

I am a Londoner born and bred, but left my city to go to University in Nottingham. Both cities actually have good natural hair scenes. In Notts, it's usually the non-student, older population that tend to be natural. The Black students I see around often have weaves or extensions (possibly natural underneath).

I am Nigerian, repping Edo State.

I haven't been to Nigeria since I went natural. I wish! I was meant to go last Christmas, but flights were too expensive by the time we started looking. I WILL go sometime next year.

My big chop
Photo courtesy of subject
My last relaxer was early September 2010 and I big-chopped May 2011. I transitioned by wearing my hair in small braids (no extensions) for 3-4 week stretches. I was meant to transition long-term, but boy! That breakage and tangling was not something I could handle! I toyed with my scissors many times, but I told myself I wasn't allowed to chop until graduation, then I said not until 1-year post-relaxer, then I said I should at least learn to flat twist or cornrow first, then I said bugger it!

I found I was always dreading wash days and was probably neglecting my new growth in order to avoid my relaxed ends. They needed to go and just like that, on a random Wednesday evening, they were gone! I phoned my sister to tell her and went to get myself some Haribo sweets to celebrate.

I chopped really unevenly because I couldn't see the back so went to a barbers who (ignoring my quiet, bashful protestations) blew out my hair and clipped off enough to make it even. I had thick, coarse but soft naps on naps on naps. I loved my hair immediately.

Why I decided to go natural
It was so weird! I wasn't even thinking about changing my hair, but I have skin issues (dryness, excessive shedding and flaking) and I was on a random forum when someone advised me to use shea butter on my skin. Shea butter sometimes seems to be the mascot of the natural hair 'movement', so in my research I happened to come across sites where people were talking about using shea on their natural hair. Kini??? Natural hair?? Adults?! My heart skipped a beat, pearls were clutched and as well as buying some shea butter and black soap for my skin, I started investigating how people were managing the natural thing. 

I have always loved afro hair! When I was in primary school I was one of the few Black girls who didn't have natural hair (*cough*jheri curl*cough*), and I was always jealous of the other girls. My hair has been the sworn enemy of combs throughout its metamorphosis from natural to jheri to relaxed, and the sound of hairbands snapping and comb-teeth breaking and flying must surely feature on the soundtrack of my life! I remember once sitting ashamed in a salon as one of the hairdressers ventured out to the shops to buy a new hairdryer since my FRESHLY RELAXED HAIR had just destroyed one. I didn't hear anything about 'good hair' or 'bad hair', but my hair was always described as tough or stubborn or difficult; so I therefore believed I, personally, would never be able to go natural. 

But I continued to read blog after blog, forum after forum, story after story and many people were saying they too were sure natural hair wouldn't work on them. Others had thick, coarse hair that broke combs too! I was determined to at least try given that I loved afro hair so much, but I still kept putting it off as I wasn't sure how to transition at Uni when I was meant to be finding a husband, ermm, I mean, getting a degree!

It was a trip to Wales with my friends that did it. We all swam in the pool, we all relaxed in the steam room/sauna yet I was the only one that came out looking like a hot mess! No more. I got one more relaxer because I already had an appointment and that was the last time I entered a salon. 

Photo courtesy of subject
Natural hair challenges
I haven't encountered any personal challenges really. My dad was shocked when I told him on the phone at first, but I sent him a photo and he thought my little afro was cute. Everyone else has either been positive or silent which is fine by me!

I have serious shrinkage, but I quite like shrinkage. It fascinates me. What I don't like are tangles, single strand knots (SSKs) and dryness. 

For tangles, I keep my hair stretched after detangling and use conditioners with slip.

For SSKs, I know I must not wear wash and go's, but I bet you can guess what style my hair is in now... 

For dryness, my hair needs to be moisturised daily and prefers not to be 'out'. I'm still battling this one tbh, and my hair will occasionally be dry and I won't be able to put my finger on why. The LOC method (using a Liquid/Leave-in, then Oil, then Cream) seems to be helping.

Oh! Another challenge is that with my baby-face, natural hair makes me look young. I don't wear make up which doesn't help. A few weeks ago someone guessed that I might be about 15. She told me that guys would be scared to talk to me unless I got a weave (she liked my hair, so it wasn't spite). What a dilemma, eh?!

My regimen
Ooooh lawd! A routine?? Moi?! Error, error! Does-not-compute! I am a self-confessed product junkie. I have many brands I like and like to experiment so I'm always changing what I do. 

Photo courtesy of subject
However, in these 13 months I've been fully natural, I wash my hair around every 5-14 days (depending on hairstyle, lifestyle and environment) with one of the various BoBeam shampoo bars. I love these bars and they have made my washing experience enjoyable. They will forever be in my arsenal. I wash my hair in sections.

Conditioners are my boo thang and I couldn't tell you I always or even usually use a certain one. I have liked ones from Curl Junkie, Qhemet Biologics, cheap £1 shop ones (VO5), regular drugstore brand ones (Herbal Essences, Tresseme Naturals), Darcy's Botanicals, Mozeke, Aubrey Organics... etc. I will detangle in the shower while my rinse out condish is in either with my fingers or a wide-tooth comb. Sometimes I detangle with an oil pre-poo.

I won't use a rinse out conditioner if I'm deep conditioning (about twice a month), of which my faves are from Curl Junkie, Shea Moisture (Purification Masque) and Bee Mine.

For some reason, even though I detangle with my rinse-outs, my leave-in conditioners tend to be slippy. Faves here are from Koils By Nature, Qhemet Biologics, Curl Junkie, Kinky Curly, Darcy Botanicals and BASK.

My hair loves aloe vera, so my daily moisture spritz features aloe and water and sometimes Taliah Waajid's Protective Mist Bodifier.

I also love oils and butters and am too ashamed to list all the ones I've tried. I need to use them up before they go rancid!! If I spilled them all, the fall out would rival BP's oil spill! Lol! I will say though that coconut oil as a protector (i.e. for a pre-shampoo, pre-henna, pre-swimming) cannot be beaten and I'm particularly fond of Koil's By Nature's butter, Qhemet Biologics' Amla and Olive Heavy Cream and their Castor/Moringa oil.

Sometimes I use oils to do the Green House Effect overnight and my hair loves this. It's moisture city afterward!

Stylers I'm a bit iffy about. I don't use gels although I have a few samples of gels/gel-type things that I've not gotten into yet. My issue is I wear smallish twists 70% of the time and I don't do twist-outs with them, so I don't really need definition and my twists don't unravel. I have twisting butters/creams from Qhemet (wonderful), Mozeke (ok) and Darcy's (ok), but I believe I would get similar results with just a leave-in topped with oil or butter (or Darcy's Coconut Cupuacu pomade).

I also love Ayurvedic type hair treatments. I strengthen, condition and dye with Henna, condition with Amla, Brahmi and Maka and cleanse with Tulsi and Shikakai. I make hair masks out of clays like Rhassoul and Bentonite and ready made masks like one from SheaButter cottage. I like special herbal tea rinses too (BoBeam and Chagrin Valley) and when I'm back home from Uni I will buy some dried herbs to use as teas for the bath and for my hair. There are also a few UK brands I want to try buying products from. Because I need more stuff obviously...

As I said, I'm usually in twists that are small enough to wear for 2-3 weeks. I wash while in those twists and will take them out when I miss my hair or it looks rough from the washing.
I have tried more interesting styles involving flat twists, but my hands and brain are not wired up properly so I end up failing. I do and will keep trying though!

I also wear yarn braids/genie locs when I have a physio placement and I know I will be busy. I'm thinking that I will wear these over winter too, since last winter which was my first as a natural my hair struggled with being out in the cold. Poor baby! *strokes her head*

However, nothing is as glorious as my afro whether picked-out or naturally curly (wash and go). If only tangles didn't exist. My hair is now long enough to wear puffs, but is too thick to be contained by any one hairband I've tried (unless I style when wet or really coax it into the hairband using a brush - not things I'm prepared to do), so I sometimes wear it in two afro-puffs.

I trim my own hair when I please. I was scissor happy at one stage and was trimming every couple of weeks (=zero growth), but luckily I've lost my scissors in the jungle of my room. Also, I've discovered my hair is quite badly lopsided, so maybe I should get a professional to trim it! I never straighten my hair. For trims or styles.

Photo courtesy of subject
Natural hair idols
Oh dear. This could be as embarrassing as trying to pin down my regimen. Ok, I probably couldn't count on all my fingers and toes the number of Fotki ladies I follow. If I add in blogs, then someone else needs to provide their digits for the count. Bring up youtube and you lose me in a forest of fingers and the stench of cheesy toes becomes too much. Let's not count. Let's preserve my dignity by saying my idol is anyone I see with pretty hair (if they have a means to follow them), regardless of texture or with knowledge to impart and that is a lot.

I am disorganized, not photogenic and not possessing of a camera so I don't have a blog or Fotki. I'm around, stalking people on forums, Fotki and blogs going by the name of Jo Somebody. So if you see a comment by someone by that name, it's me! If the comment is stupid, it's not me. It's an impostor!

Just one more thing...
Re-reading my answers I realise it sounds like I have a *ahem* little bit of a 'problem', but I love natural afro hair and I am enjoying my hair 'journey'. I don't wear make up, nor do I like shoes or bags, so I use that excuse whenever I add some conditioner to my basket. Hehe! Natural hair really is beautiful, you can have fun with it and change it up as often, as easily and as cheaply as someone changes up their weave. It can be professional, simple, outrageous and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. If you have spent 20 years of your life wearing relaxed/pressed/weaved/wharreva hair, then give the natural hair a fair chance and be patient with it. But enjoy it too! If it turns out to not be for you, pele... but it's cool! Shebi you are beautiful if you love, are loved and are happy? And if you're happy, I'm happy!

Thanks for reading! Now, can anyone give me any advice as to how I'm gonna sneak all my stuff back home from Uni without getting a rollicking...?

Photo courtesy of subject

Don't worry Jo, we won't be staging an intervention just yet. Thanks again for doing this. Literally loved every word you had to say (except for that "unphotogenic" comment. Tut!)

NB: Joanna mentioned Ayurvedic treatments and the Green House Effect in her interview, and I will be doing posts on both of these soon.

30 days, 30 ways... Day 6

Yesterday I attempted to "Cinnabun", a style I have seen many-a-time, and actually done successfully on other people.

It didn't turn out QUITE right on myself (probably because I couldn't see what I was doing at the back), but I actually still really like it.

To achieve the style, I had rinsed my deep conditioner out of my fat twists the day before, squeezed my leave-in to the twists without undoing them, and then applied my oil to seal. When I took them out yesterday morning, my hair was moisturised and stretched, but not defined enough to wear had I planned to wear a loose twistout.

I'm definitely going to use this method in future as a way to simplify my wash day even further: if I'm in updos for most of the time, I don't require my twistouts to be particularly defined, as long as they are stretched. I therefore skip the stage where I am smoothing my hair, applying my styler and waiting for it to dry, and go straight from the leave-in to the updo.

I just gave myself a pomp in the front and the failed cinnabun in the back:

For what the "Cinnabun" hairstyle should ACTUALLY look like, I actually included a tutorial in the useful videos post. Check it out.

Today's style later. This whole uploading pics thing is just long!

30 days, 30 ways...Day 5 (and Deep Conditioning on the go)

This is a bit of a 2-for-1. A little bit of entertainment, a little bit of Kinky Hair 101.

Sunday was (a VERY public...but more on that later) wash day. I've talked about how I like to deep condition for hours at a time, but believe me, this doesn't mean I'm sitting at home or in a hairdressers under a steamer for 8 hours. I apply my deep conditioner, cover with plastic cap (well, these days its cling film or a Shoprite plastic bag, as everyone on Sunday seemed to find amusing), wrap whatever piece of cloth I can find around my head as artistically as possible, and go about my merry way.

I'll have clearer pictures when I do my post talking more about the day, but here's one for now:

Towards the end, I undid the front and tied it a different way to demonstrate versatility. Here's a shot of the back (with clingfilm shining through!):

I find this especially useful if I am working out (in which case I would just tie a simple head scarf), as the body heat from exercising speeds up the conditioning effect, and acts as an on-the-move steamer.

For headwrap and turban ideas, head to Turbanista.

Stiffer materials like Ankara tend to yield much better results, but I was in a pinch, and this black cotton shawl was all I had to hand that day.

If you're just wearing a turban for aesthetic purposes, and don't have plastic protecting your conditioner-laden hair, it is a good idea to tie a small silk or satin scarf underneath, or wear a satin bonnet, so that your hair is protected from the drying effects of the turban/headwrap material.

Day 6 coming up!

Addendum: Spurred on by Curious Kinks' comment below, I realise I should point out that, as with everything, deep conditioning for long periods does not work for everybody. Some people mention getting headaches, especially if deep-conditioning overnight. People can also end up with over-conditioned or "mushy" hair. So again, it is all about figuring out what works for you and what doesn't.

30 days, 30 ways... Day 4

I'm still going strong on my styling challenge, my main problem being uploading pictures, but I will get them all on.

On day 4, my twistout had shrunken and lost most of its definition, so I decided to pull it into a bun.

I do high buns quite often, but try to vary them with accessories.

This time I tied a long rectangular scarf round my edges, knotted it at the front, twisted the ends together and then rolled them round into a sort of rosette and tucked the end in to secure it, as inspired by Geri, from Geraldine The Great. You need to check out her blog and her AMAZING hair! (And yup, she's Nigerian too)

I probably should have tidied up my edges, but I couldn't be bothered, to be fair.

I'll post Day 5 up later today, and today's as soon as I've had a chance to take pictures.

Have a good week!

30 days, 30 ways... Day 3

2nd day of twistout, fluffy from humidity, but still a lot of definition (the original twists were done wet, but I was still quite surprised because I hadn't used anything with much hold).

Sideswept and accessorised with a flower.

PS: If I am to complete this challenge with any semblance of success, someone really has to teach me how to take pictures of my hair. I've tried on camera, phone, laptop. All nonsense. I can never get the angles right and nothing really captures what the hair really looks like. Any tips would be most welcome!

30 days, 30 ways... Day 2

I was all set to try some sort of updo, but took down my twists, looked at that definition, and loved it so much that I couldn't bring myself to do anything to it. Not even twist or pin the front.

I normally just grab sections and twist, but this time decided to brush each section first, hence the smoothness and definition.

Day 3 coming up. Uploading the pictures just takes SO long!

Natural hair in Nigeria... Meet Lola!

Hi Peeps, I'll be posting my styles from yesterday and today as soon as I've had a chance to upload the pictures. In the meantime, I still have all the other regular blog features to post.

So here's this week's Nigerian naturalista, my beautiful cousin Lola.

Photo courtesy of subject

I realised recently that most of my family - my sister-in-law, her sister and all my cousins but one who recently fell off the wagon in a fit of delirium (naming and shaming, Funke. Naming and shaming! Just kidding, love you really) - are natural, and most have been for a while. I like to think that it is in no small part due to me (oh, I'm so modest).

Of course, this gives me a huge pool of people to feature in this series, and we'll start with Lola, biggest Kinky Apothecary supporter and almost as obsessed with hair as I am.

Here's her journey so far:

Photo courtesy of subject
My name is Lola, My friends call me Flo. 9-5 I work in corporate travel, every other breathing moment, I write poetry and make art. I love animals, horses and dogs especially.

Photo courtesy of subject
I am NIGERIAN! A cultural hybrid of sorts, haha. Born in Lagos, but grew up in London, and spent many of my formative years in Hertfordshire. I moved back to Lagos just over 3 years ago. and love it here- despite a lot of madness.

Why I went natural
Photo courtesy of subject
I've been Natural since I was about 15 or 16. My mother sent me to boarding school with relaxed hair and I came home with it shaved off and new growth sprouting. It was usually covered in braids so she didn't notice for a little while. My elder sister went natural first, she used to rock a bright red TWA. We always used to giggle at her hair permanently dying our cream leather sofas with splodgy circles of pink!

I have two sisters, and Mum used to relax all our hair. I hated it- it burnt, smelled and turned my hair brittle and brown! My hair isn't the thickest or the strongest so the chemicals really were bad for it. The limper it looked the limper I felt. So I went natural. Getting my curls back liberated me and made me feel more bold. I looked more like "me", not trying to fit in or mimic all my caucasian friends with straight light hair that waved in the breeze- mine was kinky and coily and bounced as I moved.

Photo courtesy of subject

My natural hair in Nigeria
Before I moved back to Nigeria, I had absolutely NO idea about how to take care of my hair. I'd buy all sorts of "Afro friendly" products loaded with junk, drag a fine toothed comb through from the roots, lop bits off indiscriminately and pay extortionate amounts to clueless hairdressers. But when I did have my hair out, people thought it was cute or kitsch so I felt encoraged. 

Back in Nigeria, inspired by The Kinky Apothecary and other Naturalistas and Kinksters, I have a much better idea of how to take care of my hair and it's flourishing. Public opinion on natural hair is.... somewhat different here though.

How other people view my hair
Haha! One of my extended family members never tires of telling me "relaxer was invented for a reason". Some people get it, and appreciate me and my hair- some people don't. 

Photo courtesy of subject
Usually at work, I'm fine as long as my hair is plaited, twisted or up-done neatly. People tend to wince when I'm in full fro mode. Most often on a Monday morning when 'amebo' and nosey co-workers are fresh form their own salon torture they assault me with questions on when I'm going to "fix my hair" and don't find it funny when I reply that ... I don't think it's broken....

Before I went natural, I thought...
Photo courtesy of subject
...It looked like a heckuva lot of work! 
...That natural indigenous Africans and Nigerians did not have manageable hair that coiled instead of knotted unless they were mixed race. 
...That for natural hair to be manipulated, it needed to be drenched in oil and hair creams- seen the jerry-curl jenks family in "Coming to America"? I was petrified of being seen in public with a greasy oil spot halo.

When I did the big chop...
At first I was relieved. Then I was nervous wondering how long it would take my mother to notice.... 
It was more of a subtle transition than a big chop. I rocked afro kinky extensions for so long that by the time my natural hair was long enough to let out, she was used to seeing kinks and curls. Phew!

My “natural hair journey” 
I have definitely fully accepted my natural hair- and I have the most wonderful supportive cousin who has my back/ curls at every turn! 

I love my hair. I really do. I don't have aspirations of super long hair that reaches my bottom, but I do want healthy luscious soft hair that's a cute and manageable length.

Photo courtesy of subject
I am sooooo lazy with my regimen, I must do better! I aim to wash once a week (sometimes I go to 2 weeks).

Every two washes I deep condition, this could be anything from a mix of my favorite products or a blend of banana, avocado, lavender and coconut/ palm oil depending on what my hair needs (or what I've got in my fridge that's about to go off!). If I've twisted my hair away in a funky, yet protective, style or wrapped it up in braids, I'll spray it daily (ok, ok, whenever I remember and I'm not rushing off to work) with a mix of bottled water, leave in conditioner and melted shea butter. I learnt how to make banana oil and banana water  from cleaning boiling and cooling banana skins (lots of these in the freezer thanks to my 3 year old nephew Josh) so I use that too- it has a lovely yummy smell.

The natural hair scene in Nigeria
Photo courtesy of subject
The Natural hair scene in Nigeria has definately hit a "tipping point"! There are more and more of us running around everyday! It seems that the Kinky Apothecary and co have inspired people to be bold and show what they've grown! There were so few at first, and the whole "educated and cultured ladies have straight hair" society mentality now seems to be falling by the wayside. 

Kinksters are inspiring and emboldening each other. I have a friend whom up until last week I had NEVER seen without a full weave. Both her and her sister keep commenting on my hair and how much they love it (and keep trying to touch it). I bumped into her last week- in full fro mode accessorised with an adorable scarf! She said she's been natural for years- didn't  see the need to relax her hair with a full weave, but never felt bold enough to "show her hair in public in that natural state". Not bold enough, until recently.

Natural in Nigeria vs the world
There is most DEFINITELY a difference between being natural in Nigeria and other places I've lived, worked and visited- but it's more to do with the Nigerian mentality and lack of "boundaries"! Nigerians are very willing to foist their own personal opinions on you. It's not always just about my natural hair, people tell me what they think of the way I dress, about my weight- lack of weight or weight gain- marital status, accent and just about anything else that pops into their head. In England people are a lot more.... polite with their opinions and accepting of things that may not necessarily be the norm. 

Photo courtesy of subject

Thanks Flo for doing this without too many threats. I'll send you the N5k later for name-checking us! :)