This post is loosely split into three parts. The beginning is a brief overview, the middle is about protective styling, and the end is to do with how I take care of my natural hair. I list all the products I use as well as many things that I have learnt along the way.
Going to university away from home comes with many challenges; hair being one of them. It’s probably not at the top of the list of things to worry about but there will come a time when you have to figure out what to do with it, especially if you have natural hair.
Coming from Kenya and going to university in the U.K., my hair has been one of the biggest things I’ve had to struggle with. In Kenya I’ve been getting my hair done by the same person (Instagram @elizabethmoraa_hair) for the past three years, and the most I’d spend on braiding my hair is 4,500 KES (approximately £34) including hair extensions, which would be considered relatively cheap in the U.K.
I have a mixture of 4b&4c hair, but it’s mainly 4c. Winter is terrible for natural hair, as type 4 hair requires a lot of moisture, and the cold strips your hair of this moisture. It is therefore advised that you keep your hair in a protective style of some sort: braids, wigs, twist-outs, etc.
- To get the same type of braids I get done in Kenya in the U.K. I would have to spend a ridiculous amount of money. Last term I came to uni with braids, took them off and stayed with my natural hair for a week, then a friend braided my hair. I have been learning how to braid hair, and my goal is to be able to braid a full head, be it mine or someone else’s, by the end of this year.
- HACK: ask around if anyone knows how to braid hair. Chances are, someone will say they do, or they’ll know someone who does. I was lucky that my friend needed a head to practice on (sounds scary, I know) so she did mine for free.
- Wigs, wigs, wigs. Everyone will tell you that a wig is a good investment, but there’s so much pressure that comes with wigs. Is it human hair? Does it have a frontal? Does it look natural? A part of me wants to get one, but it’s such a commitment so I’d have to be completely sure. If you are looking to get a wig, do your research.
- My hair has been in twists under a head wrap for a week. I managed to stretch it out but it was rained on the next morning. I was back to square one. I managed to stretch it out again and wore it in a high puff.
One of my friends told me that I have to have my hair open for at least two weeks from when I took it out, so until March 8th, to prove that I know how to take care of my hair. It’s been both difficult and frustrating, as I’ve never been into hair. I hate having my hair open, simply because it is extremely difficult to maintain. However, I’m trying to change my attitude towards my hair. The longest I’ve ever stayed with my hair 100% natural, i.e. not straightened or in braids, has been a few days. Uni is making me learn how to take care of my hair, and every day I interact, so to speak, with my hair I realise how beautiful it is.
This is my current routine:
- Wash day
- I finger detangle my hair with conditioner, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler, on my fingers
- I try to avoid combs as much as possible
- I do everything in sections just to make sure that I am very thorough
- I wash my hair with the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey and Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo
- After washing my hair, I towel dry it, then do a rice water treatment
- For the rice water treatment, I soak rice in water before I start step one. After I’m done washing my hair, I pour half of the water (I put the remaining half into a spray bottle) on my hair and massage it into my scalp. I wear a shower cap and let it sit for half an hour. Then I rinse it off
- I towel dry my hair, then apply the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler all over my hair
- I split my hair into four sections, then begin twisting it
- I part my hair using my fingers, then apply the Cream of Nature Twist and Curl Pudding and twist
- When my whole head is in twists, I oil my scalp using the Blue Magic Organics Super Sure Gro Hair and Scalp Conditioner
- After twisting my hair, I stretch it out. This is a very simple process. You simply stretch each twist, or a few twists at once, as much as possible and bobby pin the ends to wherever they reach on your head
TIP: use products from the same line/brand as much as possible. Also, don’t use too many products on your hair.
You could choose to either style the twists, or keep them under wraps (pun intended). I chose to wear a scarf for the duration that I had twists in.
- Styling my hair
I let my hair stay in twists for as long as possible. For the first two days I remove the bobby pins, spray them with the rice water from step 3, then stretch them. From the third day I use normal water, also in a spray bottle. When I’m ready to take the twists out, I put some Blue Magic Organics Super Sure Gro Hair and Scalp Conditioner on my fingers, then untwist and separate them. I do this to avoid frizz, and to make sure my hair isn’t dry. My go-to style is a puff (see photos above).
- After removing my twists, I lightly comb the roots of my hair to give it my volume. I don’t comb the ends in order to avoid breakage
- I put some Eco Styler Gel (the green one) around the perimeter of my head and brush it in to make sure that my edges are secure
- When using Eco Styler Gel I make sure to wash it off at night in order to avoid it flaking. I do this by making a towel damp with warm water and rubbing the product out of my hair
- I take a clean shoe lace and, starting at the perimeter, start tying my hair
- Side note: this post has really tested my ability to explain things. I have written step 3 over and over again trying to explain how to do it exactly but I’ve officially given up
- After tying my hair, I do my edges again, this time using a smaller brush (about the size of a toothbrush)
- I fluff out my hair using my fingers and some hair oil. If my hair isn’t as defined as I’d like it to be, I use some of the Cream of Nature Twist and Curl Pudding to bring some life back into my hair
At night, I re-twist my hair. The size of the twists depends on one, how tired I am and two, how much time I have.
One of the most important things that I have learnt is plan early. If you know you need to take your braids out in a week, buy all the products you need beforehand. Know what is is that you want to do with you hair. Find out what the weather will be in the week that you want to undo your hair. Will it be raining? If so, buy an umbrella early enough. The last thing you need is hair stress because trust me, there are bigger things to stress about in this phase of your life called uni.
The next thing I want to do is buy more scarves and learn different ways to tie them. I plan on doing an updated post about my hair in a few weeks’ time. Until then, feel free to ask me any questions regarding hair, or give me any tips because we’re all in this together.