What is the African natural hair? In other terms, what is the Afro look? Tell me please, I implore you. I ask because of the different styles I see and all are nowadays called The Afro Look. Well, I love my look totally natural. No make-up, no additives, not even a comb touching my hair. These make for them times when I thank God every day for specialy creating me. For my hair in particular because unlike my mothers, mine can be styled right after a wash.
Afro hair, however, is a lot of work. Let no one tell you otherwise. It is a cry for less manipulation but more pampering and spoiling than it takes to maintain otherwise treated hair. I love mine on the wash and go. This entails, just washing it with shampoo, maybe applying the treatment and finishing off with a leave-in conditioner. For the longest, while I have had Pantene products and hair carrot mayo as my to-go-to package. Nonetheless, I am known to be an experimenter and thus everything goes.
There are times I opt for self-plait cornrows or twist outs. Other times, like at this moment, I want a different look. Therefore, braids do it for me, at times neatly done styles at the saloon take the day. But with my worst trait being impatience…. Hahaha… you know what takes the day. Not to forget that I am a fan of Fitz Grant who happens to be in Nairobi as we speak or of Captain Tom Chandler and the USS Nathan James crew. So, I would rather be sitting in front of a TV than listening to gossip at the saloon.
My worst natural hair experience is with pain. Ladies, we all know what I mean. I promise you I have zero tolerance for pain as a result of plaited hair. That is reasoning enough for me to unplait overnight and adorn my wash and go tomorrow. My girl, Miss Paul will tell you. There are instances when, we have traveled miles in the hunt for a great hair expert and you should just see her loathing when the next morning, my hair is unplaited. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, they said. And who is this beholder?
Every morning I wake up, after a shower, even if there is no wash, I have to sprinkle some water on it. That is discipline; because as long as I want to style it, it has to be well hydrated. It also takes patience – I mean, imagine, every styling is premeditated,and water is a must have experience. Not to forget the rigorous push of oiling, low manipulation, silky scarves for the night or even carrying a sprinkler bottle. What about the tender care and loving it calls for? It is not for the lazy or weak hearted. It is a hairstyle that can backfire on you, you won’t realize how you got to the barbershop.
Please, I implore you. Whatever we are putting outside there is not what the afro look is all about. We need to take care of our hair. The dry, almost turning brown hair (unless naturally brownish) that is assumed as great is instead dying. You know the disgust we harbor when we see a mzungu journalist post pics of malnourished children from Northern Kenya and they are telling about poverty. That is the same reaction our hair receives when not well taken care of. It is time we adorn ourselves like the Queens that we are.
Not to forget the overstayed and smelly braids that we pretend to all call the natural look. That is nowhere close to natural. They repulse whatever attention we had hoped we are calling. To tell it plainly, the grand aura you hoped to impose is no longer there. Please, ladies, let us wash our hair. It doesn’t call for expensive shampoos and the lot. Nope. Just simple bar soap and then some nice oil massage and you are good to go. Just as you go for the weekly manicure and facial, your hair speaks volume about the person that you are.
Beauty is about you, my dear. It is about the person you see staring back at you in the mirror every time you want a reminder. It is about your soul and what you carry. It is the story of your character and your persona. Clothes and looks just cover up on the real you. Beauty is more than just looks, expensive clothing, and well-done hair. And this is what we should always strive for. A beautiful African soul. And what’s more, your hair always defies gravity! What more can you ever ask for? You are the beholder, always remember that.
It never matters what the other person thinks, says or even imagines. Just do you. Smile, don’t comb your hair, don’t standardize yourself to others and never, I repeat, never please another soul if you are not as happy. If you spray perfume on others, you always sprinkle some on yourself too. Take care of yourself first, starting with your hair… your afro hair journey will teach you equally a lot like it has taught me. It is a link to your soul. Because tell me. If you cannot take care of your hair, who else will?
To the shower now, time for some hair love.