Hello there !!
Welcome back to selfacre Tuesdays!
We are going to be talking about hair today.( yeah, yeah, yeah..again!) We will do this till this month ends.
The last series on hair will be a Q&A so you can already start asking questions and I shall respond to them on the last post on hair.
For today we have a guest writer. She is Milka Amakobe. You are gonna love her story!
This is her life with locs….
THE HAIR JOURNEY.
First off, I should point out I am not that knowledgeable about hair products and all jazz!
For me, if hair is not growing we just can’t live like that… My hair, for as long as I can remember, seems to have something against growing past the shoulders(I am convinced it’s a vendetta). Things would be going great and then just when we are about to close that threshold, rebellion sets in and growth comes to a screeching halt. My hair, to put it succinctly, is tough and makes miniature steps when it comes to growth. (Yeah I know, growth isn’t everything; health is just as important, but could we be healthy and grow at the same time yeah?). Let me not even start on my hairline! It is the kind that hardly withstands any braids. What pains me most however is the fact that my hair is one of those that ties itself into round knots and forms ‘tu-ndengu’.(a moment of silence)
I cannot remember the last time I didn’t have to brush those knots into submission every morning and at periodic intervals during the day.
Growing up, in Kayole, my mum swore she would not throw away money to salonists when she could do it herself. (her own words). School required that we plait simple cornrows or maintain short neat hair hence my mum ensured that she did our hair every weekend without fail. Sunday afternoon after church, she would sit outside with this wooden comb she considered ideal (I am not sure if they still exist). We (my two sisters and I) would then take turns on the hot seat; our heads firmly secured between her thighs as if banishing any possibilites of bolting. The process usually lasted less than 30 minutes, thirty really painful minutes! and ended with four or five tight lines that proceeded courageously from front to back. She, my mother, was a believer that no hair should be left straying( all about snatching those edges.)We had to be careful on how we handled our heads for days after the plaiting to avoid unsolicited pain.(Beauty is pain or so I hear)
In high school I could not possibly survive with my hair. The school required we keep our hair neat and pushed back,otherwise you had to shave. It is during this period I was introduced to hair relaxers. The very first term, I merely blowdried my hair. I didn’t know the horrors that were to come. My hair became a puffed tough mass of pure evil after two days of showering without a shower-cap; never mind I made deliberate efforts towards ensuring my head was turned away from the stream of shower water. It insisted on standing on all fours meanwhile other girls would hold theirs in neat robust buns.
Every morning, we would have a go at each other; me with a hair brush whose services I employed and my hair defiantly shooting up after each stroke as if daring me to actually put it down. After sometime, I gave up and walked around school looking like a dejected mother hen. I had a few strands of hair form a tiny piggy tail at the centre of my head. This was mostly hair from around the centre of my head. The rest of my hair would generally face the piggy tail’s direction. During mid-term I relaxed it without second thought, opening an entirely different can of worms. I had to cut my hair twice during highschool.
Campus came and braids became the norm. These however made matters worse and led to a further recession of my already shaky hairline. I had to hold those braids in a manner that covered my hairline which didn’t leave much room for experimenting. I tried shaving again, twice, but came up with the same problem. Braiding had proven slippery. After sometime I decided my hand, or in this case hair, at dreadlocks. For two reasons; one because guys with dreads can get away with shabby hair and second because why the hell not? Dreads might just be what my hair needed. So dreadlocks it was. I have had them for a little over a year. The steps made towards growth still leave a lot to be desired but at least there is something tangible on my head now. So here are a few general things guys need to know about dreads, purely from my perspective; I definitely stand corrected.
- Dreads are probably the easiest to maintain. No, really. You wash once or twice a month for the sake of keeping bad smell at bay. You retouch them when you feel they have become too roguish for your own good. (For me, a definite sign is when touts get too familiar and start calling me “Ras”). Also, you need not worry about swimming and rain, because the worst that can happen is you having to treat it sooner than planned.
- If you are all about heritage and natural hair, then dreads are probably as natural (read African) as can get. History can prove this. Back in the day when dark skin equated slavery, guys had dreads. The Mau Mau who fought for independence had dreads. Furthermore, you fail to comb your hair from its growth stages, their natural inclination is to form locks. (And at this point I should probably point out that I do not speak about guys with the soft smooth hair that is not able to form afros. I mean tough kinky hair, the kind that does not leave room for questioning whether you have some Somali or Ethiopian blood).
- You need to find someone who actually knows how to do dreads. How do you know if the person is good enough? They need to have dreads themselves, hehe. Seeing is believing right? Also, they get to say fantastic things like “Hata yangu ilikua hivi..” or “Mimi vile nilianza nilifanya hivi…”. Seriously though, find someone who knows how to do them properly so that incase things do not work out, then you know they actually did not work out and not because the person handling you did shoddy/destructive work.
- You can actually add extensions onto the dreads to make them longer and look like your hair.People really are out here with extended locks masquerading as their very own hair. I have extensions for example, and recently I decided to increase the length. Previously, some people assumed the extensions were my hair. So, yeah, incase long bulky hair is your preference, you can always add extensions.
- You can plait while having dreads. People think dreads pronounce death on plaiting. Not so. You can plait practically anything apart from lines ( so Kenyan huh). And I mean anything. It would help immensely if you had someone experienced in hair matters to let you know the options you have. Braids, weaves, crochets, anything really. Hell, you can even do lines using your dreads if they are so important. Dreads are more flexible than most people think.
- Is it costly? For me, it is not. The maintenance part counts considerably. I retouch my dreads 2 times in three months usually depending on how I feel and the level of growth that has occurred. What helps is that my dreads are at an all time best when slightly shabby. I think they look better then. The guy who does them for me is also helpful and flexible in terms of costs so I can safely say I am not required to dig too deep in my pockets to facilitate my dreads.
PS: Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone with dreads loves reggae or Bob Marley (may he continue resting in peace). No sir. I, for instance, did not come into some form of revelation that pushed me into dreads. I don’t love reggae; I don’t hate it either though. I am not attached to my locks any more than the next person loves their hair. My locks don’t symbolise anything and there is no deep meaning to my hair. Also, just so we are clear, I don’t pepper my speech with spontaneous “Jah rastafarian” exclamations.
So there you go, me and my locks. Different locked-sisters (that would be sisters with dreadlocks) may have different experiences and versions of maintenance. Personally, that is how I have been coming along.
Mini Products Review
Well I thought that I’d share some of the basic products I have been using which I have loved / have been working for me in their own right .
First of all I’m not saying coconut is my holy grail when it comes to hair ! Far be that thought from your head!
I’ve come to think that as hair grows it outgrows some products due to change in texture among other changes.
My hair for instance, no longer appreciates coconut oil as my go to. However, for prepoo it is excellent !
And for this I have been using this
Unfortunately it’s over now and it was gotten in India 😅😅 so now I’m thinking of other alternatives but should you ever get access to this it’s amazing. And it smells nice too!!
Coconut oil and olive oil
Available at your nearest supermarket this has been doing an amazing job as a daily spritz. I previously used only olive oil as part of my spritz but this combined option is great!
If you are weary of strong smells then this is not for you . But if you’re willing to bear with that and get the benefits this is for you . This has helped my scalp struggles. This is most especially when I’ve just installed braids especially from places like kenyatta market ! Also after undoing them , for a sort of recovery routine I use this oil !
It’s availability in the market I don’t know but if you come across it tell me . It was bought in India.
Mega growth products
This one is over. I have also used the leave in conditioner and it has been the best leave in conditioner I have used. I have been struggling to find the leave in though but I’ll keep looking.
As a naturalists I was skeptical about using these products at first because well it’s built for relaxed hair too and the brand has relaxers. But I gave it a chance and I was pleasantly surprised.
I am definitely buying them the next couple of times till I find a new love .
Alberto Balsam Conditioner
At first I bought the mandarin and papaya scent and it was okay. Well it did the job! But if you’re chasing good scents while at it this is for you !!
It smells amazing and it’s great for co-washing!
Shampooing numerous times isn’t good because it may strip your hair or rather scalp of natural oils. So when you feel like you me scalp has gotten dirty or you love in hot areas where you are likely to be sweating or it’s dusty or just for some reason you feel to have a clean scalp always then co-washing is your best option!
That faithful friend ! That’s castor oil for me. Some people are off by the greasy feel of this and I don’t blame them . The first time I used it I was of that thought. It’s thick , it’s sticky etc
But it adheres to my strands and when I us this I really have no need to straighten my hair.
All of the above may not work out for you as well as it does for me but it’s all about learning your hair and its needs.
Also when deciding to see what product aren’t working use one at a time so that you can note where the difference is . If it’s oils for example use them individually then you can try and mix with conditioners or other oils then decide whether to dispose them off or not!
Don’t hold on to products just because it works for others . Always pay special attention to your hair!
See you next week !