Ludo Mosebi unconsciously began her natural hair journey in 2007 while studying overseas. Her reasons were simple… She was now dealing with a change of weather and the lack of available hairdressers in the area where she resided meant that her hair was breaking and increasingly becoming shorter every day. At the end of her first year in April 2007, she cut her tresses and embraced short hair.
With little knowledge of how to take care of natural hair she kept her hair under weaves and braids. Fast-forward to 2013, she wanted a straight hair piece where she would leave the front part out and her hairdresser told her to do a blow out so that her hair would blend in. “Little did I know she was applying relaxer to my roots and this would alter my natural curl pattern. I was hurt and angry and decided to transition for a whole year and chopped off the relaxed ends in Dec 2014,” she says. She researched ways of taking care of natural hair. Her motivation, she says was that she wanted to embrace what God gave her and celebrate her Blackness and African hair. “I have no problem with relaxers only that they burned my scalp and my hair was straw thin, so having natural hair gave the illusion that I had fuller hair,” she says. Another naturalist, Tapiwa Gachala, embarked on her journey in October 2013. She says that at one point, she felt that her hair/scalp was fed up with chemicals. Her scalp was extremely sensitive to a point where even the mildest relaxer would not last for more than a minute without burning her.
“So on that day, I decided to go for the big chop and began my amazing natural hair journey,” she explains. Both Gachala and Mosebi are amongst a growing number of local women who are embracing natural hair and have said no to chemically processed hair.
Some experts believe that the blue print of a natural hair is divided onto three pillars namely foundation, products and styling and maintenance. They also advise that one needs to understand their hair types, and that one needs to drink lots of water, reduce stress, wear protective styles and limit the amount one puts on their hair as well as wash regularly.
Singing praises about natural hair, Gachala notes that the great thing about natural hair is that it is so versatile and that she can do a lot with her hair. Her go to style is the Afro puff, also commonly referred to as the pineapple up-do. “It is super easy to do but also looks good plus you can play around with it to get different versions. And on top of this it is the type of hairstyle that you can prepare the night before and all you will need to do the next morning is brush it on the side and fluff it out and you are good to go. I also love flat-twists, twists out, bantu knots and stretching out my hair to get a huge lovely fro,” she says proudly. Mosebi explains that last year she experimented with different styles and regimen but that sadly it didn’t work for her hair. She points out that she learnt then that her hair wanted low to no manipulation.
“This year I’ve been protective styling a lot,” she says. Her regimen still remains the same when her hair is out or when she has braids/crochet/wig on. Her care regime revolves around cleansing with African Black soap or any sulphate free natural shampoo twice a week, then following up with a store-bought moisturising deep conditioner. “The ones I have used since I slowed down my product junkiness are Shea Moisture Raw, Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque and Dr Miracle’s Double Deep Treatment Masque. “The latter one I add olive oil and honey into just to make the consistency a bit runny,” she says. Once a month she performs Protein Conditioning with ORS Hair Mayonnaise and Moisture deep conditioning. “A protein deep conditioner strengthens the hair while a moisturising conditioner adds moisture to the hair. It is necessary to have a balance of both.
Then again you need to listen to how your hair feels and learn its needs,” she explains. She also has a daily spritz which she uses every time to detangle her hair. The spritz, she explains, is usually a mixture of previously boiled water, argan/jojoba oil, glycerin, peppermint/carrot/rosemary/tea tree oil. She also uses it when she takes down her style so that she does not manipulate the hair when it is dry. “Every three days I apply hair food to my scalp and gently massage for about 10-15 minutes to stimulate blood flow and hair growth.” Mosebi’ advice to everyone whether they are into relaxed or natural hair is that they must embrace it all. And that one should not be forced to go natural just because everyone is doing it, and that at the same time naturals should not be judgmental to those who relax their hair. “Everyone works with what they are comfortable with and if it works for them, let it be.
Above all love who you are, there is only One you and its so hard and a lot of work being someone you are not, or living up to society’s standards,” she says. Gachala’s secret to maintaining her ‘fro’ is that she cherishes her hairline. So she uses preventative measures such as regularly applying and massaging Jamaican black castor oil along her hairline as it strengthens the hair and promotes growth. “When I get a protective hairstyle I make sure the style is not tight so it does not pull on my hair line. In most cases I will brush the front hairs aside so they are not touched at all. Thereafter I use edge control to tame them and blend them in with the hairstyle. Do not be afraid to tell your hairstylist if your hairstyle is too tight, even if it means she/he has to undo and start again - It is your hair and you’re paying,” she cautions.
It is widely believed that maintaining natural hair is time consuming. Gachala says that this is not the case but that for the majority of those who go natural, they go in blind and as a result they end up spending more time on figuring out what to do with their hair. “That was me when I started off and it was so frustrating! Through trial and error I had to develop a regimen that worked best for my hair and it took time. Be that as it may I feel it is a rite of passage, it helps you develop, understand and nurture your relationship with your hair,” she says.
She insists that once you get the hang of things and have your ideal regimen it becomes a walk in the park, says Gachala. She encourages all her fellow naturalistas to ride out the storm, and that it gets better over time. “The ironic thing is I think I spend even more time on my hair now because I have so much fun trying out new treatments and hairstyles because I have mastered the basics. I have observed that a lot of us we get to a point where we look forward to ‘wash-days’ and styling our hair because we enjoy it! It is actually therapeutic for me, stress-relieving even,” she highlights.