If you can't take care of your own hair, how do you expect another person to know how to treat it?
By Clavia Okoli
PUBLISHED: September 21, 2023
There's nothing as beautiful as a head with long and full hair. As Africans, we take pride in wearing out the Umbrella hair that God blessed us with. But taking care of such voluptuous and strong textured hair can be very difficult and painful. And because of that reason, we tend to look for a way to make the pain bearable by relaxing our hair.
The decision to keep natural hair is personal because of these reasons. Nobody should be made to do it. One thing I constantly struggle with to date is finding a stylist who can handle my hair with gentleness and know-how. It's not too much to ask but it is hard to find. My encounter with a stylist who mistakenly used scissors to Shedd my hair led me toward salvation.
I had been on dread extension for three months. It's one of the long-term protective styles I do when I want to grow out my hair inches. It was supposed to last for two months but carried on to the third month because I couldn't find any good stylist to help me take down the dread without shedding my hair. And I couldn't risk doing it myself to avoid a disastrous outcome.
I was chatting with my friend on a Friday when she excitedly told me that she found a natural hair stylist at last. I asked her where and she said it was in her area which is the mainland. We already had plans for me to visit that weekend so I just added it to my list as one of the first things I would get done when I got there.
I left my place on the island as early as 6 a.m. on Saturday to beat Lagos traffic and make it to Festac early enough to take down my dread, wash it, and do a short-term protective style like loose twists. I got to my friend's place by 10 a.m. and hurriedly left for the saloon without eating the Abacha and fried fish she made for me. It was hard to leave the Abacha but I pleaded with her to help me cover it as I would love to savour it without any distractions. On getting to the saloon, the shop was filled with kids who wanted to make their recommended hairstyle for school. The stylist urged me to wait till her staff resumes. 1 hour passed and just when I was about to query her for wasting my time, an Hausa lady with a baby on her back walked and greeted her.
Good morning, the stylist responded. Abeg, help me loosen this hair and wash am. She don dey wait since. The Hausa lady nodded and walked towards me. Immediately she touched my hair, I could tell it was going to be a long day with a lot of hisses and frowns. I usually don't complain but I could sense an outburst in my gut. One thing about natural hair is that it's very easy to tell when someone is good or not from their grip. She gripped my hair like she was getting ready to drag a bull to a slaughterhouse. I should have spoken up but waited till half of my hair was on the floor. Even a cancer patient wouldn't lose all that hair in a sitting.
I blamed myself heavily for not saying anything when I knew it was going to go wrong and also for burying my head deep in Netflix. My first instinct is always to flee from confrontations even when it comes at a dire cost.
My anger boiled so much that it melted my words and shut my mouth. I got up from the chair and walked out. I prayed that the stylist would not even dare to ask for payment unless all hell would break loose. And she didn't. She allowed me to leave. I made it a priority to learn how to take care of my hair by watching Instagram and YouTube videos and trying a bunch of routines and styles until I developed my own routine.
In all of that pain and struggle with my natural hair, I learned that if you could do 3 things yourself, your hair would grow exponentially.
It sounds stressful but it's not at all. Knowing how to care for your natural hair is a big bonus for your natural hair growth. It helps in avoiding the pain and the botch job most stylists who are not skilled in taking care of natural hair makes.
Washing and treating your hair can be a handful. The easiest way to have a clean and stress-free wash is to section your hair into four and twist each section.
Hydrate your hair and apply shampoo to each section. Making sure every section gets a good massage. Use preferably a hand shower or overhead shower to rinse it off. Repeat the process with the shampoo for the second time and rinse off
Untwist each section gently and apply your conditioner. Allow the conditioner a few minutes on your hair whether it's ordinary conditioner or deep conditioner before rinsing it off. Don't comb your hair immediately after rinsing off the conditioner as your hair is without any products, so it's susceptible to breakage. Apply a leave-in conditioner to each section, then detangle with your fingers before going in with your wide-tooth comb.
Sounds too much? Hear me out. If you are someone like me who likes to keep her braids longer than one month, then you need the help of water or hair moisturisers to take down the braid. The moisture in your hair tends to dry out the more you leave your braid for too long. Taking the attachment out with all that dryness will lead to easy breakage of your hair strands.
Rather, mix a small amount of leave-in conditioner with more water. Spray the mixture using a spray bottle on your braid. That way, it softens every strand and gives room for you to gently detangle without shedding a lot of hair. And you retain the inches that your hair added. If it's cornrow or twist you are taking out, spray the same conditioner + water mixture before untwisting. Makes the hair softer and easier to work with.
Unless you don't want that Rapunzel hair length and volume, then you don't need to stress yourself. But if you do, you need to learn one.
As I said before, most stylists are not skilled in managing natural hair. Hell! They even hate it. The ones that possess the know-how are very expensive.
To avoid making trials and errors with your hair while your edges keep inching closer to the middle of your head, start doing your protective styles yourself. Until you find someone you can trust with it or continue to take care of it yourself.
If you are confused about the best products that can help you achieve a softer texture, strengthen your hair, reduce breakage, and increase hair growth, I advise you to get yourself an Amari Hair Care kit. It is a miracle in a bottle.