Hair Story

My decision to return natural was not influenced by media or a trend because, as at that time there wasn’t as much hype about natural hair as there is now.

I hope my bumpy journey to healthy hair will help and inspire you to embark on yours. 🙂 

RELAXERS

I have a fuzzy memory of not wanting to touch my freshly relaxed hair when I was about 7years old. I can’t quite remember if, that was the first time I got a perm or if that occasion was one of many. All I remember feeling at that time was that if I touched it, it may lose its greasy feeling and sleek straightness. I was simply amazed at how my hair could look so sleek like the people I saw on television. So from then onwards, my hair was continually relaxed until I moved to a boarding school (Adesoye College Offa) in Nigeria.

There, all the girls were required to keep their hair in a short crop (TWA) till they were in their final years. I remember being completely dumbstruck because I had become so attached to my hair that cutting it off seemed like a nightmare. Sadly, I joined the system and had to obey the rules. I was very upset and self conscious because I felt like I literally had no hair on my head anymore and I had no clue how to take care of it.

Thankfully, things began to look soon after the school session began. I started to feel more comfortable with my TWA because I wasn’t the only one rocking it. My mates and my seniors wore theirs with beauty and elegance and it motivated me more. However, neither of us seemed to know anything about caring for natural hair. It was just a simple logic of comb your hair when it’s wet because it feels softer and it will hurt less.

Fast forward to university where I was completely on my own for the first time in another country. I had to think of how to manage my hair after I took out the Kinky braids I wore for two months plus. Fortunately/Unfortunately for me I found a black hair salon and this is where my addiction to weaves began…

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The longest my relaxed hair was

This was the longest my relaxer hair ever was before I encountered chronic breakage a few months later as seen in the picture below.

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Slowly breaking off
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Uneven Ends 2011

 

 

WEAVES

This is where I got addicted to weaves…

It seemed like every girl, (yes both black and white), was wearing a weave and it appeared to be the best available option other than braiding my hair so, I installed weaves in different styles every few weeks after getting my hair permed and it became a habit. In my final year of Uni, I saw a documentary by Chris Rock called, ‘Good Hair’. This documentary shows the toxic contents that are used in making relaxers and where human hair is gotten from. I was so terrified and disgusted by the time I was done watching that I indefinitely put off relaxing my hair.

At the time, I had my hair in a braided style called ‘touch and leave’ or ‘pick and drop’ so I didn’t bother to learn anything about natural hair.

I also left this style in for about 3months without any proper care so when it was time to take it out, my hair was a tangled hot mess. (You have no idea.) My hair had started loc-ing itself and had sustained a significant amount of breakage.

So I decided that yanking the knots out with a comb and washing it will help make all the knots and tangles disappear crying face(I don’t need to tell you that this was absolutely the worst idea ever!). I got out of the shower defeated with wet knots piled on my head.

I even got my brother and a male friend of mine to help me take out the knots and by the time we were all through, I had a headache and this was what my hair looked like.

 

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My damaged hair
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My damaged hair in 2011

 

A few days later, I was still trying to stick to abstaining from relaxers so I decided to re-wash my hair (I’m not sure I used a conditioner, haha! Ignorance is the Devil!). Once I was done, I used a blow dryer on high heat to cook my hair dry.

I vividly remember wincing in pain in front of the mirror as I combed my hair from root to tip and it was at the moment that I spontaneously decided to revert back to relaxers.

“I can’t take this anymore” I told myself and then I hopped on a bus to the nearest Black Salon.

Me: Hi

Salon attendant: You’re welcome.

Me: I need a perm but I washed my hair this morning, I heard it’s not good to relax ones hair on a clean scalp.

Salon attendant: That’s alright, we’ll just put some talc powder in your hair to make it dirty.

Me: Umm…okay.

Salon attendant: What relaxer do you use?

Me: Beautiful Beginners by Dark & Lovely

Salon attendant: Okay, sit in that chair.

As I sat in the chair, I silently watched her as she mixed the ingredients and parted my hair in four sections. She started routinely while I sat there waiting for the process to be over. However, what I did not expect was the ridiculously painful burning sensation that occurred before she had gotten to the middle of my head. I cried. Yes, I actually had tears in my eyes at the salon because the pain was quite unbearable. I recall pleading with the salon attendant to stop because I couldn’t take it anymore. I told her I was okay with walking around with my hair half permed but she insisted she’ll be quick to put the relaxer on the undone parts of my hair and we’d rush off for a quick rinse. (Ha! She wasn’t quick enough because that burn is almost impossible to forget till today).

When she was done applying the relaxer, I literally jumped and ran to the to the basin to have it rinsed out. It was while she was rinsing my hair that we found an open wound on the right lower side of my scalp (this was where she first applied the relaxer). I also lost most of the hair on my nape (but that was majorly due to lack of moisture, wearing tight weaves and using wool scarves). Thankfully, the perm had only eaten away some skin on my scalp. It would have gone a lot deeper had I not rinsed it at the time I did.

Needless to say, that was the moment I decided NEVER to use a relaxer again…
My very first weave at University.

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The ‘touch and leave hairstyle’.

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After I finally managed to take out the braids

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Scalp Burn 2011

After the relaxer, you can see the scalp wound if you look closely.

Battling with breakage.

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Breakage 2011
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Breakage 2011

 

 

NATURAL HAIR

Needless to say, that was the moment I decided never to use a relaxer again…

So, for the first time, when I got home, I Googled ,’how to take care of natural hair’.

I personally preferred visual explanations but at the time there were only a handful of YouTubers dedicating their channels to natural hair. However, as time went on, I researched further and found;

Torrianda7 (now known as Jungle City)- She taught me how to braid my hair myself and her mane, Lawd have mercy!
JcGrace- She is absolutely fun to watch and her hairstyling videos got me through my transitioning phase.
Kimmatube- Her tutorials were very detailed and extremely helpful. It was through her I learnt about the book, ‘The Science of Black Hair’ by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy.
My other favourites were: AfricanExport, WhoisSugar, Toni Daley, Nikkimae2003, NaturallyCandi, Alicia James and UrbanBushBabes.
These Vloggers helped me through my first year with natural hair.

I transitioned for seven months and impulsively cut my relaxed ends off when I noticed how limp and lifeless it looked. At this stage, my new obsession became products. I wanted to try every organic or close to natural product I could lay my hands on. I even purchased luxury brands like Ojon & L’occitane and although they lived up to expectations, they left holes in my pocket (haha). Thankfully, in time I found affordable products that worked wonderfully on my hair.

Currently, my hair has been natural since June of 2011 and it has honestly been one of the best journeys towards self-awareness and purpose in my life. I have been questioned by strangers and even looked at interestingly and weirdly but I continue to be a source of inspiration to some.

So far, I have also educated myself by reading books written specifically on black hair such as;

If you love it, it will grow by Dr Pheonix
Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
Better than good hair by Curly Nikki and counting…
My advice to anyone seeking to grow their natural hair, is to learn and educate yourselves, Natural hair is 100% beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Peace & Blessings,

Chinwe Juliet N

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14 comments

  1. Omg you got me all emotional Igbocurls. Such a touching journey. I went natural in 2014 but stopped relaxing my hair in 2013. Like you I didn’t go natural because of the trend. I had long relaxed hair but I started experiencing dryness and breakage cos I dyed my hair and i was using flat irons. My mum was my inspiration to return natural. I created a hair page on instagram @diibarbiehhj in February to inspire others.

    Reply
    1. That’s wonderful! I’ll check out your page now. I’m so happy for you! Let me know if you need any help with your journey and I’ll try my best for you!

      Reply
  2. Wow…I really needed this…my relaxed hair seemed to have stopped growing on reaching a certain point…I traveled abroad during the Christmas period and it happened to be Winter…wo..if I had known I’d have done braids or something but no it didn’t click. I fixed weavon…side parting and I brought out my hair both in front and at the side…over there I noticed I literally had nothing left…only to return to Nigeria and after losing the hair I was almost bald in those areas….that was when the decision of transitioning came to me…I really hope it works for me…am yet to trim off the relaxed part tho..nice one @Chinwe

    Reply
    1. Omg! I remember when that happened to me. I was like where did all my hair go? **crying face** but you know, every disappointment is a blessing in disguise and look at my hair now. When I chose to grow my hair natural, I never knew it’ll be this long or I could inspire and help so many people. Keep it up dear and let me know if you need any help!

      Reply
  3. Oh my days I totally understand where you’re coming from. I went to ACO as well and I’m have now been transitioning for a little over a year. I’ve really flirted with the idea of cutting off my relaxed ends but I like the feeling of having something to “pack” LoL. Your blog has really inspired because I’m so excited about my natural hair prospects (my curls are gorg) but I’m super impatient!

    Anyway, I’m so excited that you went to Adesoye too; everything on your blog seems a little more relatable haha!

    Reply
    1. Yaaaaay ACO babes unite. LOL! We are automatically school sisters now and don’t worry I’ll try my best to help you on your journey but yes, you have to be patient. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Well, i’ve been natural at least 5 years. i’ve did the big chop and then just sew-ins and braids. the last time i decided to wear my natural hair daily, i perm rod it daily. needles to say my hair slowly broke off. i then began pressing it and guess what? now i have tremendous heat damage! ugggg…..your site has encouraged me. i won’t cut the heat damage off because my hair is kinda long. I’ll ensure to continue to follow you as i’m on my journey for continued support….tears….

    Reply
  5. Hi, am so glad I found your blog, am a Nigerian and all your stories are quiet relatable. I have been on relaxer since I was young probably 7years of age, and I had a big chop before secondary school, before I started and continued relaxing, I’ve had many relaxer gone wrong but my hair managed to grow back until in 2011 when I had massive breakage from relaxer that I decided to search online on how to grow long hair, I’ve managed to grow my hair long with relaxers since then, now I’ve decided to transition into natural hair, am currently 7month post relaxer. You are quite an inspiration, because most naturalista av found are not Nigerian, so am glad to meet you. I would visit your blog more frequently now, and I actually need help in learning how to style my hair myself, considering am a medical student and am always busy. Thank you for inspiring me.

    Reply
  6. Which products do you use to make your hair grow healthy and long? Because i think im using the wrong products and i need help, im so confused

    Reply
    1. Hi, Cheryl!

      The products you use need to have water as the first ingredient and should not have parabens, petroleum and silicones among a few. Send me an email with your hair type and current product you use so I can help you better.

      Reply
  7. Hi Chinwe, compliments of the season! I was inspired by your story! Thank You! Please I have a question. How can I stop my ends from breaking. I have been Natural for a year and 7 months (started with a twa) and I try to really take care of my hair, but my ends keep breaking off and I’m afraid I won’t be able to retain lenght (my hair is currently touching the end of neck). Please help
    Thank you!

    Reply

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