Thursday, 14 August 2014

Natural hair-care: Three years into my minimalist approach.

Rocking twist-out on 3 years natural hair growth while soaking in the Cameroonian sun... In the shade mostly!
Twist-out on 3 years natural hair growth

White asymmetric button front tank - H&M (old)
Green/ecru print shorts  -  Zara (similar)
Nude leather crystal encrusted ankle-strap flats  -  Next (gift)
Silver hoop earrings with braid motif -  Unknown (gift)
Silver bangles - Accessorize (old)

This month is my 3rd anniversary of starting the natural hair journey. I have not been very keen to document my hair-care because quite frankly, the way I go about it is rather basic and there never seems to be much to talk about.  I did an introduction and rundown of my minimalist attitude towards natural hair-care a year into it here. I've pretty much stayed faithful to a simple routine and 3 years into it, I haven't had a reason to change. I've managed to retain 15 inches at the longest point, though I went through a period of obsessive trimming. I've now decided to only trim once every six months.

My routine falls into these four sections of care: Protective styling, moisturising, detangling and washing while paying attention to hair and scalp needs. I've discovered this routine works really well for me, considering my lifestyle and personal preference.

Protective styling:

Medium two-strand twists

Now that my hair has gotten longer, I find that I can't easily manage wearing it out as much as I used to and I tend to live in two-strand twists, ranging from mini ones and medium ones, to Jumbo ones.  After a wash and condition, I usually put my hair in twists right away. The size depends on how much time I have to work with. When I don't have a lot of time, I usually go for jumbo twists and leave them in overnight. When I can find some time the next day or whenever, I gradually undo the twists and re-twist them into smaller sections (great for finger detangling and a chance to moisturise between washes). I really like two-strand twists because they never feel too tight on the scalp, they keep hair stretched thus reducing tangles, and they are very versatile... I found that while I have twists in, I can still do all sorts of pinned up-does for dress up, or high untidy buns.

Jumbo twists styled in an up-do
Medium twists pulled into a high bun. My everyday style.

The last time I got braids put in, I only had them in for about a week. I've always had a difficult time dealing with the discomfort of braids with extensions and I've noticed some hair loss along the hairline when I've had extensions. I no longer braid my hair with extensions as a protective style. I can't say I'll never do them again, but I might try putting them in myself if I decide to wear them again.

Jumbo box braids a la Poetic Justice

When I do wear my hair in twist-outs, I always pull all the hair up into a high puff before I go to bed at night. This keeps the hair stretched, prevents tangling and prolongs the twist-out for a few days.

Second day twist-out on 2 and a half years natural hair growth


Coconut oil and Naked Style's Little Miracle leave-in conditioner

Aside from using a moisturising conditioner after shampooing, I always use a leave-in conditioner and a natural oil like coconut oil, olive oil, Jamaican black castor oil or palm kernel oil. I try to spritz water and seal with oil on particularly hot and dry days between washes. The rainy season is in full gear now so I've gotten even more lazy and hardly spritz at all. My morning jog or a walk to the corner store is usually enough to get a little drizzle into my twists.


Re-twisting damp natural hair after shampooing, conditioning and moisturising with oil and leave-in

I've found that in order to retain the hair that is always growing, I have to be gentle. I wash my hair in twists so detangling is even more simplified. I hardly ever comb my hair anymore and just use my fingers to detangle. When I use my fingers I can feel where a knot has begone to develop and I take extra care detangling it or cutting it out with scissors. I only detangle on wash days when my hair is moist and I try to pick days when I have time and don't need to rush over my hair. When I do run out of time, I just pull everything up into a puff of some sort (both twisted hair and loose hair together), till I have more time, then I spritz with water before I continue detangling. I detangle each twist and re-twist into bigger, smaller or the same size two strand twists.

Paying attention to hair and scalp:

Garnier Fructis' fortifying shampoo and TESemme's nourishing moisture conditioner for naturals

I soak my scalp in diluted apple cider vinegar for ten minutes before each wash

It is important to keep hair clean, paying attention to hair and scalp needs while avoiding styling practices that can damage hair. I wash, condition and moisturise about once a week. Sometimes when I get really busy, I push it into the second week when I can find the time. I try not to leave it for too long as I have a problem with itchy scalp and regular washing with an apple cider scalp treatment gives me enough relief for about a week.

Hair-care bad habits:

I read all those natural hair-care blogs and watch a lot of videos, but for the life of me, I can not believe how disciplined some women are with their routines. I happen to have two bad habits that I can think of. I mean some real don'ts, such as:

-I don't wrap my hair with a silk scarf or cover it with a bonnet before I go to bed. I can't seem to keep them on through the night and I'll be damned if I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night to turn on the lights and go looking for the scarf that has migrated from my head to who-knows-where! So I might be loosing valuable moisture and causing more tangles by not covering my hair when I go to bed.

-I don't deep condition regularly. When I have done it, it has been more for the benefit of relaxation after a long day, with soothing scented ingredients like coconut oil and honey. The thought of something like bananas, mayonnaise or avocado in my hair just makes me think of how much longer I have to spend in the bathroom trying to get it out.  

Hair goals:

My goals for the next year are as follows: To fix this problem with the scarf at night. I should be able to make a few satin pillowcases. Deep condition more often. I will be reading up about deep conditioning to find the best combination for my natural hair. I hope to grow at least 4 inches in the next year and I think some slight adjustments might help in that aim. I'm presently looking for a remedy for itchy scalp that will actually work. If anyone has tips, I'll be very grateful if you can leave a comment. 

That's the run down of my 3rd year of natural hair-care. What is your approach to natural hair-care? What are your product/styling preferences? What are your goals and how do you plan to achieve them? Sharing our individual tips for successful natural hair-care makes for continued fun and enjoyment on this journey of self-discovery. Information from all the talented women who share their different stories online, a lot of patience and a little bit of experience have helped me embrace my own natural hair more fully. My advise to anyone who is just starting out is to try and figure out what works for your own Afro-textured hair, keeping in mind that your hair does not have to look, feel or behave like anyone else's. It is very easy to feel discouraged by having expectations that are based on standards that are not realistic for one's own hair. Just because your hair does not do what A or B can do does not mean that it is not perfectly fabulous. I know it is very encouraging to find people with similar hair texture who are totally rocking their do. If you can't find anyone who's hair is similar to yours, then maybe you can fill in that gap and help others like yourself if you begin to share your own story. For some people, it takes time to get comfortable with wearing hair naturally, but once you find your own potential, all you have to do is... Enjoy...


  1. love the natural hair, you look beautiful

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey and the details of your hair care routine. It helped me a lot. I'm really impressed that more and more African women are embracing their natural hair. I still feel self conscious at African events where there might be only me and 1 or 2 other sisters wearing a natural style in the midst of the endless weaves & wigs. I guess I'm still learning to love what God gave me and not try to conform to other people's standards. I plan to teach my daughter to love her hair from day one. Love your blog and your encouraging posts. God Bless.

  3. Thank you so very much. I know how you feel at African events. Many people give compliments but still ask when I'm going to get a perm. Change is slow, but I've noticed that it really is happening. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.


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