Happy Saturday beauties! I’m glad to bring you another #chocolatynaturals feature on my dearest friend from primary school Joan, a.k.a Joey. She has been natural for about 3 or 4 years now and loved every minute. I can’t remember her ever not having her natural hair, which is why she was one of the people I that encouraged me to big chop when I was toying with the idea. So who better to share her natural hair journey!
She had planned on growing her natural hair then straightening it, but realized that her natural hair texture was not bad at all and the versatility of natural hair changed her mind. She however didn’t have a chance to enjoy the stage I’m at right now, Teenie Weenie Afro (TWA) because she rushed to grow it out and missed out on the crazy (sponge) Afro which she sometimes wishes could go back to. She keeps telling all the natural newbies she knows, to enjoy every stage of their hair.
Name: Joan Nyamugasira
Dream Job: Heading an NGO specialising in women and children’s rights.
Fave spots In Kampala: Endiro coffee, the Lawns and Fuego.
Passionate about: Life, music and natural hair
Currently listening to: Bailando- Enrique Iglesias Ft Sean Paul
How it all begun…
First, I was natural in school (O’Level) back then when natural hair was only about blow drying and hot combing. We even had one of those hot combs you would heat up on a ‘sigiri’ (charcoal stove) and I got so many burns from that. I cut off my hair when I was joining A’Level and surprisingly it wasn’t that hard to do. When I later started growing my hair and relaxed it, it was really not what I expected. I must have gone to so many saloons that were recommended by friends. The chemicals always burnt my scalp and yet the hair was as natural as ever (especially my tips), my hair was breaking and the constant dryers. Everything was going wrong, so I decided to cut my hair and start a fresh. The decision to cut my hair was so easy because at the time I was just planning to start a fresh, grow my hair to an acceptable stage then relax. So I did not do any research or read about going natural, I just did the big chop. I am happy I did not go through all that because knowing myself it would have taken me longer to take that step.
Falling in Love with Her Natural hair Texture
It took me a while to fall in love with my natural hair texture. I spent a lot of time trying to duplicate other textures. I spent a lot of money on products because that is what worked for someone else’s hair and most time it didn’t work for my hair. I think that is all part of the natural hair journey, until you find the products that work for you and how best to manage your hair, you keep trying. After all the trials and errors, I finally figured out that twist outs work best for my hair. I have never worn my hair as a wash and go because I never like the results on my hair. The same goes for bantu knots. I know many naturalistas who know the type of hair they have and their hair porosity levels but I do not. I love that my hair is thick enough to accomplish all these hairstyles and I am in love with the colour (been a year now).
Her hair regime and How she keeps it healthy
I used to try so many products, it was ridiculous but my rule now is to keep it simple. I wash my hair once a week (Sunday), sometimes twice depending on how hectic the week has been or the weather. On wash day, I first finger detangle slowly and that’s the one day I comb with a wide tooth comb (I do all this while watching a series).
I shampoo/condition (co-wash) and I usually finish it off with a vinegar hair rinse (apple cider vinegar- with equal amounts of water) which helps remove build up. I do DIY deep conditioning every other week. For the DIY deep conditioner I usually mix some ingredients which I have around the house (using recipes from blogs and Natural Hair UG. I have used avocados, mayonnaise, eggs, honey, yogurt, ghee, different types of oils (not all at once).
I try a different mix each week depending on what I feel my hair needs. I also love the hot oil treatment; it leaves my hair so soft. I realised a huge difference when I stopped using a towel to dry my hair and started using an old t-shirt which absorbs the excess water without taking most of the moisture. I then use the LOC method (Leave-in, oil and cream) to moisturize my hair.
Currently, I am using the African Pride Olive Miracle Leave-in conditioner which I love. I have tried other leave-in but I always come back to this one. I also found that coconut oil works best for my hair as opposed to olive oil so that is what I use (Silika) and I finish it off with Shea butter (Shea butter mantra made by the shea shop). I then do the twist “tuts” (threes) depending on the style I will be wearing for that week.
Simple and easy! My products can be found almost anywhere in Kampala. I also do have a spritz bottle where I mix water with a little of the products I listed above and I just spritz this on my hair every night before bed or in the morning as I style. This helps keep my hair moisturized.
Her top 5 frustrations about natural hair
- The perceptions people have of natural hair.
- The saloon visits (the few times in a year I actually get my hair done at the saloon, which always starts out as a pedicure visit) are torture. The stylists never listen to instructions, they are constantly trying to convince me to relax my hair, the blow drying is like a mission to get the hair as ‘relaxed looking’ as possible. I always end up regretting why I decided to visit the saloon.
- Always explaining why I chose to go natural, why I choose to remain natural and that I am not part of any anti-relaxer movement but rather promoting healthy hair and appreciating and loving our hair in whatever state you choose to have it.
- Having to plait my hair every night (Arggghhhhh), even after a long day when all you want to do is fall on the bed. It is easier now because when I am tired, I just do a middle parting and plait 2 big tuts (threes) but when my hair was shorter…
- The shedding (WHAT!!). I do not mean the big ball of shed hairs; I mean the annoying little bits and pieces of hair. Every time I style or unplait my hair in the morning there is bound to be some pieces flying all over the place. I have made peace with that but the constant cleaning gets to me.
Perception of natural hair in Uganda…
I must say that we have come a long way with natural hair in the world (including Uganda). We see a lot of blogs, Vlogs, forums for natural hair, natural hair brides, Ugandan based products, and saloons with a natural hair focus etc. So we have come a long way but that is just a small piece of the puzzle. Some people do not understand why someone would choose to have natural hair. When I first cut my hair I was asked why I was stresseed. I get so many people telling me to relax my hair, “Why are you insisting on natural hair”. “Is that how you are going to wear your hair, why don’t you plait?” Even boda-boda men with comments about not having money to go to the saloon… Of course, for job interviews you consider plaiting to get the more ‘professional look’. I have so many comments/stories about my natural hair to share. Lol!
On whether there’re any moments of doubt about her natural beauty…
I think we all do at one point or another in our natural hair journeys. A few years back when the pixie cut was trending, I thought a lot about it. Now, I have fewer doubts. When I start doubting, I just braid my hair for a month or so and by the time I un-braid, I’ve missed the feel of my hair.
Lessons from her natural hair journey…
- You do not have to have all the answers especially for new naturals. You can never have all the answers; I learn something new about my natural hair every day. Some styles will not be what you expected but that is how new styles are created. Go with the flow and enjoy the journey.
- People ask me how I comb my hair every morning. I learnt not to comb my hair except on wash day and that has made my life easier, made it less painful and more manageable. All I need are my fingers.
- Be creative and accessorize. There is a lot you can do with natural hair, you just have to think outside the box and do not be afraid to try.
I hope you’re lovin’ your locks ladies, check-in next week for another feature from another beautiful naturalista 🙂