Keeping my hair natural was not something that I always knew I wanted to do, yet grow very much fond of. It was more of an inescapable solution to the frustrating inconvenience and pain that braided hair put me through. And, more interestingly, I never thought I would be here writing handy tips and methods on how to grow and keep African natural hair ever black and clean, smooth, and enduring.
I had short hair from the first grade in primary school up to Advanced level in high school, and when I had the chance to be braided I was really super excited. You know how it goes.
But that excitement was short-lived and replaced with exasperation: Every time I would be late for church (yep, I’m such a church-lover) because of trying to tie my braids in a high pony; or the fact that I had to stay with the braids and not wash them. Something I deeply felt contradicted all my wishes regarding my hair choices.
And I vividly recall how my hands would hurt after five tries and how failing to tie my hair properly always dampened my mood. This gave birth to my beloved locs (oh, how I love them).
Rue’s Natural Hair Journey Starts – My Deep Love With Locs
My hair is that type which is so soft, proper black, and beautifully smooth. So when I first sat for the crotchet late 2019, the locs came out fine – but they were soon soft and mushy they looked like mopane worms. But my then locktician, Jah P, assured me that they would getter remarkably better with time. Patience time it was.
I remember sleeping well that night – I slept so well that when l woke up my hair just looked like bed hair; so I went back and got crocheted again, and the next day, and the next day.
After the first few months, my hair started looking fine but every time after a retouch the hair would not fall into desirable locs so I had to stay for a week looking like I have 68 tiny tree stumps. Yes, l know how many locks l have and l always count them after l have a bad dream (see, a lot of people want my hair, l should probably insure it).
During my first year of college, l used to wash my hair a lot. And that is everyday because it was so short and easy to dry, naturally of course.
I was working during those days and l would tie my drying towel on whilst I lotioned, and when I left the house my hair would be semi dry; and it would fully self-dry on my way to work.
Natural Hair Care Facts and Misconceptions
When I was home, I would just sit in the sun for an hour and baam. Whenever l told people that I wash my hair a lot, I would be told that, “rasta harigezwe shaa harizokure” (do not wash your natural hair locks, they won’t grow).
This is an egregious lie. Most people have bought and refurbished in their minds, such a rather ugly lie if you ask me.
Another lie is that natural hair is just super expensive to keep. Well, maybe this is not a lie (perhaps it’s too subjective), but I have never been a fan of dirt. In the entirety of my existence. I detest, to the core, any type of dirt; and it logically follows that I also guard what gets in my hair jealously.
This has me applying liquids only in my hair. I do not apply semi-solids – that is, your hair foods and whatever conditioners you use. I have (fervently so) tried such semi-solids; but it dawned on me (much like an anticipated epiphany) that all that stuff is simply dirt. Yes, it’s all dirt. And with locs this has a way of manifesting one way or the other.
As my hair grew longer, the washing became less frequent to once a week. My hands are now get pained whilst I wash and I have to sit longer in the sun because I’m just not a fan of the dryer. I have an unconfirmed but strong belief that it makes my hair weak and brown. Haha.
Natural Hair Upkeep/Maintenance – Why I Hate Saloons
Now, you could be wondering why I do not go to the saloon to get my hair washed and my concrete reasons for this are:
(1) The saloon is painfully frugal with water. They want to save it by all means possible.
(2) Just as with water, the saloon is economical with shampoo.
(3) The saloon steals shampoo. If you carry your own, I hear they half it whilst your eyes are closed. After all you won’t be seeing anything. Zero accountability.
(4) The saloon could cut some of your hair.
(5) The saloon does not wash hair properly because they want as many customers as they can get; and they can’t spend two whole hours washing your hair, Rue. Capitalist basics.
Some Random Facts About Me and My Glorious Hair – Why I Love My Hair
One of the best things I love and obsess about my hair is that l can sleep peacefully without any wrap, and not worry about the locs looking bad fast.
Locs are more beautiful when they have a bit of growth; and they are so hot you should all see me sleeping with my hair spread out on the pillow. Even when I turn in my sleep, I make sure my hair is all on the pillow but this is not all about the heat. I am extremely and helplessly scared of snakes and whenever I wake up in the middle of the night for whatever reason and feel my hair on my neck or arm, my first thought Is always, “a snake is on me!” Talk about irrational but grounded inner voices.
I also love how my hair never inconveniences me at all. Well, except for the few times when I let it loose all day then I settle to eat, and my hair also wants to eat. Like, dear hair, could you please chill for a bit? Sometimes I’m so busy that I forget to tie it and when I’m about to eat, trust me it’s a WrestleMania fight you don’t want to witness.
Rue’s Trusted Methods For Natural Hair Maintenance
When I want to go out, after my bath, I take my water which is in a spritz bottle and l energetically spray the water; the end result becoming more lively hair.
When I feel my scalp is dry, I apply coconut oil or tissue oil or whatever oil is there (l just hadn’t tried cooking oil but I bet it works too). My shampoo has never depleted on me but l heard some people use dishwasher (but l wouldn’t advice that, totally against such an idea).
There are many styles for natural hair but my hands are too weak and I’m allergic to pain, so I rarely style my hair. I just tie it differently, on a frequent basis.
I keep my natural hair as locks and perhaps you want to keep yours as it is.
Well, I met a very fine guy at one of my clubs on campus and this guy has great A-star hair – his hair is just so smart and so soft that you would want to touch it all day. That is how magnificently splendid his natural hair is.
He allows me to touch it but afterwards he takes his comb and, of course, combs his beloved hair. A well mastered habit. When I asked him what he uses for his hair he found the question a tad funny.
After all is said and done, I trust that the secret to keeping natural hair would be: Washing frequently, taking care of your scalp, and a bit of shine. A bit, not too much.
Remember, treat your glorious African hair with love and kindness. Don’t forget your oil treatments. Moisturize. Know and listen to your hair.
Now is that expensive?
And, if you have other tips on how to keep natural hair in it’s perfect state, do share below in the comments.