Life has been a lot less crazy since my decision last month to take the back seat and give nature a freer hand in my hair journey. I can’t believe how peaceful things have been! I keep expecting my hair to act out spontaneously, perhaps by biting at me like a ferocious puppy or something but instead it’s been so calm, so tame. So well behaved. Unbelievable! My hair? calm? This type of behaviour is so highly unsusal that sometimes I’ve gotten a little suspicious becasue the hair that I know is very often disobedient, unruly and ill-mannered.
Seriously, it is so strange that my hair has not bothered me at all. Washing? No wahala. Breakage? The hair gurus say that a normal human being may lose on average about 50- 100 strands of hair per day. I’ve been losing 1-2 random curls per day so except there’s a massive heap of breakage just waiting for me when I take down my twists I’d say I’m perfectly happy with being abnormal. Not even detangling has been a problem for me. It’s as though allowing nature to direct the course of this journey has made it one plain and easy sail. My hair and I are finally collaborating well together. We both see now that we want the same things. A major part of that being-no stress. So far, things have been awesome. And now I’m wondering why it wasn’t this way from the start.
Why did we always have to fight? Just why? Why was wash day always mortal combat day? Why did I always have to tug and pull and sometimes even rip this hair out?My hair’s level of evilness was just beyond me. It had so many mischievous way of working me up like grabbing onto my comb and refusing to let go. I’d just want to scream at it,
‘Let go *****! I’ m trying to detangle you! Arrggh!’
I’m sure you can figure out what pejorative slang I’ve used there. I’ve found such words come out on the brink of explosion. Anyways, sometimes this witch of a hair would refuse to dry out when I need ed to do a twist out and I had somewhere important to be. If I stubbornly went ahead with the twist out, curl definition would be next to 0% and replaced by nearly 100% frizz depending on the weather. Yes sometimes the weather was in on the hair conspiracy too. Sheesh! Talk about making enemies in high places!
I remember these battles like they only happened yesterday…
‘Erm, maybe because they did happen yesterday or last month. Whatever. Same difference.’ My hair decided to chip in.
‘Shut up! Who asked you? Kmt’ was my reply.
As you can see my hair hasn’t lost it’s smart mouth. We still banter every now and again but more like that old married couple that finally understand each other. I have to admit though that I kind of miss all that craziness. I mean, that’s all I’ve known. I miss all the anger and the frustration. The arguments and the reconciliations. But I’m slowly learning to adjust to the idea that natural hair doesn’t have to be a struggle.
Just up until last year, the struggle with my hair was literally wearing me out. I was getting tired and I was starting to loathe my hair. I didn’t understand what level of insanity drove me to even want natural hair in the first place. But I also didn’t want to chicken out a second time and return to the creamy crack so I started accepting that perhaps it was a black natural’s fate to struggle with hair. I said to myself, ‘My hair is this texture and it is by natural law going to be very hard to deal with.’
These were the times when I felt like I finally understood why my family thought it was necessary to start me on chemical treatments as early as age 5. I grew sympathetic towards them. I felt grateful for the chemical help. It finally made sense. There was a good reason behind all that scalp burining torture. They were only trying to protect me. They were actually doing me a favour so I wouldn’t have to deal with nappy and uncontrollable hair. During the start of this journey, my perception of my hair could be summed up as, ‘A burden. A real pain in my backside.’ It was a curse I was born with and the only way to deal with it was to simply- deal with it. I started to accept that it would always be a permanent tug of war between girl and nature. I thought nature was cruel and I thought God did not favour girls with my hair type at all but that because it was still a gift from Him I had a duty to embrace my hair and love it regardless. Now I know this was the totally wrong attitude to have and I’m sorry I ever thought that way. I could never think this way again now that I realise my hair would be so much less troublesome if I took the time to understand it.
Once I learned my hair enough to know what it liked and what it didn’t, my old wash routine was thrown out the window. I thought I had this DIY hair care ting on lock down. I obviously did not with my hair always falling out not to even talk of how time consuming the whole process was. And boy was it time consuming! Don’t believe me? Let me break it down:
MY OLD WASH ROUTINE
- Take down old mini-twists and finger detangle (2 hours)
- Wash hair in 8 sections (30mins)
- Wrap hair in towel and prepare homemade conditioner (5mins)
- Apply conditioner (5mins)
- Wrap hair in shower cap and towel then find something to do that does not involve stepping outside my front door (40mins)
- Rinse out conditioner and rewrap in towel (10mins)
- Allow to air dry while I find more things to do that definitely don’t involve being seen in public (3 hours)
- Apply moisturiser to each section, detangle and re-do mini-twists (4 hours)
Total Time: 10hours 30mins
Over ten hours people! Ten hours! This amount of time for DIY haircare makes 4 hours in a salon a piece of cake. Do you know how much a girl can achieve in less than 10 hours? How many episodes of Scandal I could finally catch up on? How many pots of Jollof rice I could cook? I could spring clean my entire flat, I’m talking nooks and crannies too in less than 10 hours. I could jump in a car right now and I would get to England in less than 10 hours. And I don’t know if any other naturals can identify with this lengthy process but that’s how long it used to take me till I started experimenting and cutting steps out of my routine to simplify it.
Now if I need to wash my hair, I do it on an evening, in my chunky twists while in the shower. I get rid of excess water by wrapping my hair in a towel for like a minute then I moisturise and keep my hair wrapped under the towel the rest of the night while I continue with my life. Usually my twists are nice and soft by the morning. I only detangle when I need to re-do my twists. No hassle. I just go with the flow and its so much easier. No more ridiculously long wash days. No specific timeframes. No more every 7 days or every two weeks or every month. When I notice my hair needs to be cleaned, I clean it. when I notice my edges are rough, I re-do them. Taking the rigid structure of routines out of the equation and allowing more flexibility makes me feel like my hair is more manageable and it totally works for me.
Early on in my journey I assumed that it would always be a battle between me and my hair. It was a bush and my job was to tame it. My task was to control it and make it submit to my demands. My hair has not casued me any grief or any pain lately. No taming or controlling has been required. Maybe that’s because I’ve kept my demands minimal, ‘Stay healthy and grow. I can live without super sleek and shiny hair for now as long as you grow. Just grow. Abeg, that’s all I ask. Biko, grow.’
I’m not saying I totally understand my hair just yet but at least I understand enough for the both of us to get by without stressing each other out. I realise nature is not the enemy. It’s like a river and right now I’ve stopped swimming against the current and instead I’m flowing with it. Not to say this journey will always be smooth but maybe this time I will actually start to enjoy the ride!