In this very frank discussion, she lets you in on her healthy hair journey. Enjoy!!
Let’s meet you, please …(as my Nigerian folks will say, lol!)
My name is Tito; I’m a natural hair enthusiast. I mostly share information on my natural hair on my Instagram (@pweetywings) from time to time. I’ve been natural for two years and I’m learning to love my hair with each passing day.
Have you always worn your hair natural?
No I haven’t. I had to go natural because I started having a really terrible allergic reaction to relaxers. The skin on my head used to get really inflamed and at some point it’ll start to weep. Also my skin started to peel. This happened twice after I relaxed my hair in 2013. I had to see a dermatologist and I was advised to stay away from chemicals like relaxers. So I had to stop and transition into natural hair.
I didn’t do a big chop, when my natural hair got to a certain length I cut off the relaxed ends. And I’ve been natural for 2 years now.
Has it been difficult maintaining it?
At first I found it extremely challenging. My hair is really thick and coarse which made transitioning very difficult. Now I’m used to my natural hair, so although it is still challenging, I’m more equipped to handle it because I have information and I have some level of experience.
For example, I know that I can’t just wake up and have a hairstyle, I have to plan for it beforehand and work out how long it will take. Sometimes I even have to practice it beforehand because I know that the style might not turn out the way I expect it to.
I have a sister that is natural as well, and some of my friends are natural so we all talk a lot and share tips with each other. In Nigeria, it’s not been particularly easy finding particular products that I want. I mostly have to order them online but I also purchase many of my hair products from Fig Health Store.
I became natural because of my scalp reaction; I don’t think I’d have gone natural if I didn’t start reacting that way to relaxers. The decision wasn’t borne out of a new lifestyle change, it was purely because I didn’t have any other choice, and I just had to. So to answer the question, I haven’t incorporated a more natural/healthy approach in other aspects of my life. I use more natural products in my skincare regime (e.g. shea butter & coconut oil) but I don’t particularly eat healthy.
Do you think that there is a link? Would you have incorporated those changes if you had not gone natural?
I think it depends on the context of each individual. Sometimes there’s a link, other times it doesn’t apply to everything else. Many people I know have gone natural purely because they have/had damaged relaxed hair and some have done it because they think it’s trendy. I even know people who have grown out their natural hair to a desired length and then gone back to relaxing it.
Incorporating natural products into my skincare regimen was purely because some of the products I use have beneficial effects on the skin as well as the hair. It’s quite expensive to maintain natural hair (especially with the purchase of products and tools), so I think it’s nice that some of the products (shea butter, coconut oil) can be used in multiple ways to save a few bucks.
I’m an advocate for protective styling so I usually have weaves/wigs and braids done to protect my hair. When I have braids in I moisturize my scalp with a shea butter mix once a week, I use castor oil on my edges every other day. In between protective styles I leave my hair out for about 2-3 weeks.
With my natural hair, I try to wash my hair once every two weeks. I co-wash my hair once a week. And between washes, I use my spritz mix to keep my hair moisturized and to make it more manageable for styling. I also use my shea butter mix on my scalp about three times a week because I have very dry scalp. I try to twist my hair every night before I go to bed if I’m not feeling lazy. Sometimes I’ll have a style in that I want to carry for a few days (like a bun or a crown braid) so I just put my hair in a satin bonnet to sleep.
How do you balance natural hair and the need to be/look professional?
I just do a crown braid or a bun to work. My workplace dress code is corporate casual so that allows me a certain level of freedom with my hair. When my hair was shorter I could go in with my afro but now it’s longer so I can’t always get away with it. I don’t think my natural hair takes away from my professional look in any way.
Do you have a healthy goal (hair, nutrition, exercise)?
No I don’t, this is a life change, I’m not working towards a particular goal. Relaxing my hair is out of the question. Sometimes I get tired and frustrated and I want to relax my hair but I know that if I take that risk I’ll be back to square one.
Based on all you know now, what would you do for your children (males & female in terms of hair, nutrition, and natural living as opposed to the way you were brought up?)
I will leave their hair natural until they are old enough to make the decision by themselves. I believe they’ll be old enough to know that they have the option of staying natural or using chemicals in their hair.
Any words of wisdom or advice for others?
It takes a great deal of patience for you to properly maintain natural hair. It’s not a quick solution to damaged hair; it won’t be a quick fix. It’s very important to know your hair and know what it likes and dislikes. Comparing your hair to someone else’s might not always be a good thing because some people have fast growing hair, or thicker hair. The important thing is to be as patient as possible and learn to love your own hair.