the naturalista: chocolaty naturals

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Name: Charlyn Kentaro

Dream Job: Helping people and hand-making things 🙂

Fave eat-out spots In Kampala: Yujo Izakaya

Passionate about: Serving God, spending time with family, my work

Currently listening to: President Obama’s final “Nerd Prom” speech. He’s hilarious!

Photography: Tweny Benjamin

 When did you fall in love with your natural hair texture, what do you love about it?

My hair is a multitude of personalities. It is perfectly compliant on some days, and stubborn on others. It never quite lays how I want it to. It can shrink into a small afro, or I can stretch it down to my chest. It is thick, dark, cotton soft and BIG. It’s one of God’s many many gifts to me. I love my hair! I fell in love with it in 2013 after deciding to cut off my relaxed hair and “go natural” as they say.

 How long have you had natural hair and why?

Of course, like most people growing up in Kampala and attending boarding school, I wore short natural hair up to my A’ Level. But I never cared for it, and relaxed it at the first chance I got. We are never taught to appreciate our hair – it’s not on the syllabus 🙂 Hair was just something to cut down to an inch, wash, comb, repeat.

After wearing chemically-relaxed hair for 7 years, I decided to cut it and start afresh in 2013. I had never really “seen” my hair in its natural state until then. It’s been an exciting, rewarding journey of learning why I have this hair on my head, accepting its uniqueness and figuring out how best to take care of it.

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What is your hair regimen? What do you do to keep it healthy?

First off, this natural hair journey has taught me so much about holistic health. If your body is not healthy, it will show in your skin, nails and hair. Making healthy lifestyle choices is a must for great-looking hair. There is NO supplement, pill or product that will give you great hair overnight! So healthy food, plenty of water, exercise and rest are all things I try to get in (easier said than done, sometimes, though!)

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Now, on to the regimen: I generally like to keep it simple. I wash every two weeks, at home and occasionally at a good salon. I wash in 3 sections with The Good Hair Collective product range: tea tree shampoo, follow with the Berry Smoothie moisturising conditioner, let it sit for 30minutes at least, then detangle. I’ll rinse out with warm water, and finish with either cool water, apple cider vinegar (ACV) or both. I’ll squeeze out the excess water, use a leave-in conditioner (Dr Miracles curl care for now) and seal with our Good Hair whipped butter then let the hair air-dry.

I choose this product range not just because it’s my baby, but because the products are made with natural hair issues in mind, especially problems of scalp health and dryness.

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For maintenance I prefer large twists, buns or any such low-maintenance style. Even when I rocked a shorter afro, I wore a twist out with a bow on the side. I try my best to stay away from heat – ain’t nobody got time for heat damage! Not after all the work I’ve put in!

Her top 5 favorite things about her natural hair

  • You know how they used to say blondes have all the fun? Well, naturalistas have all the fun! You can manipulate this hair in so many ways. My fiancé calls me “a hair chameleone”!
  • It has taught me about total body health as I said earlier.
  • It has taught me about body acceptance, or in this case, hair acceptance. Natural African hair is still not fully embraced around the world. But the negative perceptions can either force you into chemical relaxers or you can choose to love and accept what God gave you.
  • Stuck in the rain with no umbrella no longer leaves me looking like a drowned cat!
  • Learning about hair science and products, and eventually, starting my own haircare line, The Good Hair Collective!

Bonus: No more spending a fortune on relaxer kits and salons 😉

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Her perception on natural hair In Uganda

Natural hair in Uganda (more accurately Kampala) is a mixed bag. We have people who think it’s merely a trend. Then we have this amazing movement of women who are saying no to chemical treatment, embracing their natural hair and supporting each other with advice and ideas. Just look at Facebook groups like Natural Hair UG and the Fab Lane, or events such as the Kinks & Curls expo.

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On the other hand, I speak to women who often say that they struggle to keep their hair natural because it’s not acceptable at their workplace, or they have received negative comments. Of course this shouldn’t be the case – no one questions how Caucasian or Asian hair grows. It’s just accepted. And so should Afro-textured hair.

I would love for us to get to a point where women in Uganda are making informed decisions about their hair care, where natural hair is not just tolerated at the workplace, but embraced and unquestioned.

What would you say to ladies contemplating their big chop or transitioning to natural hair?

Go for it! And don’t look back! Natural hair really is the healthier option, no doubt. Do your research, find out what works for you (your lifestyle, workplace, hair texture and type) and then do your best to take care of it. If you love your hair, it will grow long and healthy.

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Do you ever experience any moments of doubt about your natural beauty?

I did, in the beginning. I had about 3 inches of hair on my head, no idea what to do with it and I kept waking up with matted, coarse dry hair. To make things worse, I was fielding negative comments from family about what my hair looked like. It wasn’t easy! So yes I did have those doubts, and considered relaxing my hair once again. But more than discourage me, the comments fueled my passion for natural hair and beauty. I mean: this is MY hair. If I didn’t learn it, and love it, who would??

More than 3 years down the road, I can’t even look twice at a relaxer kit! I love my hair. It is still sometimes difficult to take care of, and there are mornings when I wake up and have brain farts about how to style it. But that’s why God created braids and headscarves, no?

Charlyn’s naturalista-wisdom;

We really are fearfully and wonderfully made.  When I look at a hair strand, that Bible verse rings so true. I could get all science-y about how hair grows and all the differences between us and other races, just from a hair strand, but I won’t. Just know that the hair that grows out of your head is such a trademark, such a symbol of how intricately we are made and known and loved. That makes me happy and super proud to be a naturalista.

Stay beautiful,

Karen

 

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