As controversial as the idea of the growing hair care and weave business in Africa is, it has also thrown light to another side of the hair, while weaves might never fade away from our markets, the natural hair also will never leave our heads; someone has to take care of it no matter what. The eruption of blogs of all kinds, did not only promote the hair weave business but have also helped in stressing the need to appreciate and treat the hair with some compassion and care. Recently a lot of women are going on their natural looks which never used to be the case – braiding resurrected (and became more expensive to make); low clean cuts and a variety of other ways of protecting the hair without missing out on trend.
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This deserves an applause considering the fact that these kinds of hair were tagged as ‘low-class’, and even if every other person were low-class, we’d still hate to be called by that description. Everybody more often than not goes for the in-thing so to say but this one of a kind switch has been made possible because people are coming to terms with the pros and cons or mishandling the hair.
This is the result of extreme handling and pulling of the hair. It can be due to constant tight weaving/braiding of the hair or holding the hair tightly in one spot over a period of time. Sometimes bleaching and dyeing the hair can cause just as much damage. Across Africa, this is a growing problem with the ladies, both young and old, and that should not be so. To avoid hair situations like this, this article celebrates a more healthy way of loving, accepting and treating our hairs via natural hairdo(s).
These hairstyles are tagged protective because they all use no, low or under natural temperature; no/less chemicals (as too much processing of the hair kills it); less pulling from combing; low manipulations and in the end the hair is as healthy as you hopefully are. Do you know nothing fits you more than your natural hair if well maintained? The bid to be trendy has made us forget the most important thing of all is having a good health; and even though the natural hair seems to be the most neglected part of the African Woman’s body, it still demands that we attend to them. A healthy hair gives you twice the beauty you hope cosmetics will give you. This is the trendy time for compassionate conditioning and caring for the hair; the time to cling tightly to the goodness of humectants, oils and the almighty Shea butter which has emollient qualities and helps your hair to grow healthier and faster.
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That notwithstanding, people try out a whole lot of hairstyles for very many reasons – manageability and just for fashion. The African hair is generally known to be more difficult to manage, if not why else will African ladies be spending a huge sum of $7 million on relaxers and hair weaves? This might be one of the fallacies that has kept us from rocking that natural Afro look but I dare to say that’s all in the past now, because quite a lot of options are available and affordable for your natural hair, relaxed or not, long or short, of lesser or fuller density and most definitely, less expensive. Generally speaking the African hair is undoubtedly delicate, so in order to have a healthier and much more beautiful hair, it is advised that the hair is washed and cleaned regularly, dry with less or no heat as it will damage your hair, treat with natural hair oils and say no to indiscriminate stretching.
Just in case you have not noticed, the African society is gradually getting tired of the hair extensions, thanks to Africans in diaspora and resident patriotic African ladies and celebrities who are making a statement with their natural Afro looks; proudly advocating contentment with the curly African hair, unadulterated. First, it was old-fashioned, then it was unmanageable, today it is the latest trend and for all the good reasons.
1. Natural Afro
What do I do with all of that? some will ask, but trust me there is a lot that you can do with all of that. Most ladies who have tried going the Afro way, seldom complain of the manageability of the hair? Well there is something you can do, but first you have to understand your hair and what works for it. While some hairs are naturally soft, others are not; while some tolerate a huge amount of heat, some others do not. However, there are alternative ways to soften and condition your hair from time to time. The most effectively popular way is the use of Shea butter or diluted glycerin to soften the hair; and healthy hair oils tea tree, castor, jojoba, argan, olive and coconut oils to make the hair glossy and rich; before you know it the hair good for an up-do, parted for braiding or ready for a stylish bun. You can style to your choice or simply rock it the free way. As tough as the African hair can be, it can also be delicate in itself, so letting it get some moisture and natural air is not a bad idea. The hair needs to breathe sometimes you know; needs to be pampered.
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Short or long; bold or tiny, all to your discretion. The braiding attachments which come in different colors can save you the harmful mission of dyeing your hair. Dreadlocks keep your hair safe and gives it time to grow. Styling it makes the locks more adventurous and fun to have on. Dreadlocks is an affordable protective style for your nappy hair, low maintenance but great effect on the growth and richness of your hair. It is a chemical free way of adding length and volume to your hair. ‘Going greener’ is not just an environmental concept, the idea is fast taking over every sphere of life, the health aspect more importantly. The lesser industrial chemicals in your system, the better health for you and your hair. It is just about time we said no to Alopecia (hair loss) due to harmful relaxers, dyes and hairstyles that tamper with the growth of the natural hair. And just in case your hair is on the loose side, you can start all over with the dreadlocks.
3. Straw Curls
Straw curls are the next big thing for both natural and relaxed African hair. This is done with the normal straws that you know, washed, rolled with the straws and left to dry under room temperature – no heat. The look is gorgeous either when rolled out or left rolled in without the straws. It’s all trendy, protective and natural. The adorable Afro kinky couldn’t have been better treated and loved, glamour on a plate.
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4. Bantu knots
In the past someone would have called it archaic but now it’s a trend that can give you different looks at so cheap a price. You can have it on natural and relaxed hair. The hair is twisted in a two-way pattern(two strand twists), rolled down to form bumps and then pinned to the base of the hair portion. Bantu Knots is a traditional African hairstyle that has been recycled into present day spicy styles because of its protective and glam features. In some parts of Africa it is called the ‘Zulu’ knots or the Nubian knots.
5. Bantu Roll-outs
Can you beat that? The roll-outs of the Bantu Knots. It can come in a two-way spiral curl or further separated to give a fuller density. This can work for both long and short hair. Bantu/Zulu knots can be done on your dreadlocks or braids too.
6. Low Cuts
If you are tired of it all, like really tired of the industrial chemicals that are obviously doing a very bad job on your hair, feel free to go on low clean-cut, let’s start all over again. Sometimes, our styling pattern and the hair care products that we use affect the hair negatively by clogging the pores and limiting hair growth. When this is the case and the hair is looking nothing close to healthy, perhaps it’s time to try out this remedy (amongst others). Except you are certain this is going to be a long-term look, will be wise to let the hair be without the temptation of using dyes on them, but if I may, black is just delectable.
Braids are protective ways of growing your hair with the luxury of not bothering to comb or style in a way that is harmful to the hair. Just like dreadlocks, it locks the nappy hair inside and lets it grow without undue disturbance. It is worth it if you ensure the cleanliness of the scalp for as long as the braid lasts. The braids, especially the base and the scalp can also be moisturized and oiled; just keep a spray water bottle of diluted glycerin handy for the mission. As a matter of locality and creativity there are a variety of braids that you can try to give your different looks and not same old look for a long time.
8. Twists and Twist-outs
Twists and twist outs are normal routines for ‘naturalistas’; they could be tiny or bolder as to your preference. For trendy looks the twist outs might be partly done and even alternated with corn rows to achieve the desired effects.
9. Corn Rows
Say hello to bold corn rows. This is the comfy and beautiful way of having that natural African look and protecting the hair from harshness of all sorts. Like braids and dreadlocks, it tucks the hair away, protecting the edges of the hair strand.
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10. Natural Straight Hair
For your straight natural hair, say good-bye to hair relaxers. The latest uproar about relaxers and their possible health hazards has opened the search into possible alternatives that can serve the same purpose in a better and healthy way. Research has found that there are a number of ways to stretch your hair without damaging them. Did you know that the traditional African threading can stretch your hair till your next wash?
Some Afro hair care and growth enthusiasts have devised the ‘Tex-lax’ method – that is the use of the relaxer cream for shorter time than the description says. It is usually washed off instantly, to give a stretched but a still curly hair texture. Some others go for the keratin hair treatment or direct flat ironing (less damaging than relaxers).