Connect with us


Berry Dakara: Going Natural Won’t Make Your Hair Longer or Stronger



Berry-Anita-Kesiena-Cakes-BellaNaija-Wedding-Natural-Hair-Bride-Outdoor-Beach-Lagos-Wedding-0AnitaKesFinalEdit_092-600x399If you’ve taken a good look around in the past couple of years, you may have noticed that more and more ladies are either transitioning to natural hair, or have “gone natural.” There have been many debates on different platforms about natural hair versus relaxed hair versus texlaxed hair versus who-cares hair. Note because, THIS is not one of those articles. I’m not here to tell you to ditch your relaxer, so calm down before you get ready for Hair War #275.

Using myself as an example, I daresay that many new naturalistas or transitioners have made the switch because they believe that having natural hair will be a cure for breaking, weak, or short hair. The reasons why I stopped relaxing my hair in 2006 were because I saw that my relaxed hair was not growing; in addition, the little that was growing was quite thin and weak. I naively thought that once I removed relaxers from my life, I would have a gloriously gorgeous set of curls coils springing from my head. Can you say WRONG?!?!?!?!?!?

After I mistakenly BC’d (I went for a trim, and the scissor-happy stylist decided to cut off all my relaxed ends), I patiently waited for the length to come. Year 1 passed – not too bad. Year 2 passed – okaaay. Year 3 – isi, how far na? Year 4 – maybe I’m doing something wrong. EUREKA! That was the problem! You see, when my hair was relaxed, I wasn’t taking care of it properly. Hair care regimen? What’s that? Enh, shey all I needed to do was have braids for like 3 months and it would grow abi? No need to wash, condition, or moisturize. Well, I continued that behavior well after all my relaxed hair was gone. Suffice it to say, my natural hair wasn’t progressing as magically as I originally thought it would.

Honestly, it’s only been in the past year and a half, that I’ve tried to maintain a biweekly hair care regimen. I started contributing weekly to the African Naturalistas blog, and this forced me to take better care of my hair (Practicing what I was preaching). And even though my hair’s not growing at the rate I see with others on Instagram, hair blogs or YouTube, there has been a marked difference between my hair now and just 2 years ago. The only thing I’ve done is just take [better] care of my hair. I daresay if I had adopted these healthy hair care practices when I had relaxed hair, I would have seen a very big difference with time. You don’t have to go far to see our fellow Nigerian ladies with long, healthy relaxed hair.

Some of the tips you should adhere to in creating your healthy hair regimen include:
• Regular washing and/or co-washing (weekly, twice a week, or biweekly for most people)
• Keeping hair moisturized at all times (remember oil is NOT moisture, WATER is).
• Using healthy hair products
• Keeping hair protected (protective styles that aren’t done too tight, and covering hair with a scarf or bonnet while sleeping)
• Knowing what works for your own hair

So what’s the point of all this? If you’re relaxed and thinking about (or already transitioning) because you want your hair to grow, going natural might not necessarily be the answer! Take stock of your current hair care routine, do a little research, and then make your decision on what’s next and best for you.

Berry Dakara is a Lifestyle blogger ( who shares her thoughts on anything and everything from marriage to friendships to faith, and other random topics. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook - @berrydakara. She's also a weekly contributor to the African Naturalistas, a natural hair website and consultancy dedicated to teaching healthy hair care practices.


  1. Changing Faces

    December 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Very well written! I always assumed going natural helps with receding hair lines and all hair issues, but I’ve seen so many naturalistas with no hair in front and unhealthy looking hair. The most important thing is taking care of your hair; natural or relaxed. I jumped on the transitioning band wagon at a point but as I no patient, gladly back to my relaxed easy hair regime.

    • Shandi

      December 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Speak for yourself. If your natural hair had a receding hair line and if you saw some people with natural hair with receding hairlines, it doesn’t mean that’s the same for people with natural hair. I have natural hair and I don’t have that problem, I also know thousands of people without that problem and they have natural hair.
      In retrospect, I’m not a team natural or team relaxed, the most important thing is keeping your hair healthy, and allowing others to enjoy theirs (whether natural or relaxed) without giving/making pesky comments about people’s hair type(s).

    • jay

      December 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      @Shandi, thousands?? Mehn u do know a lot of people :\

    • aurora

      December 4, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      thank you o. i see them naturalistas with receding hairline and im confused like didnt they swear it was the ‘chemicals’ that was chopping their front hair? LOL.. do what you can manage. if you can manage natural hair then by all means, if not, biko relax your hair and enjoy yourself. my own is those naturalistas should stop disturbing us with their hair progress and hair routines. we do not care.

  2. Ross

    December 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    You’re absolutely right you know. We african women pay such little attention to our real hair (natural and relaxed) and then wonder why our hair isn’t long or full. We use creams, oils and all kinds of fake hair and traumatise our scalp and hair so badly, they rarely recover. Mothers should already raise their girls with the awareness that the hair theyre born with is right for them. Berry’s advice above works.

  3. tripsy

    December 4, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    thanks for this piece,was about scraping off mine

  4. ThatAbiribaBae

    December 4, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Tell them o, in fact thank you! The rate of transitioning abi na big chop and all dem natural hair geeks is becoming alarming!

    In 2012 I had a horrible hair because I wasn’t taking care of my hair (it was not even up to neck length sef). In 2013 I had just relocated and my Nigerian flatmate had very long (if I remember correctly, the last time she measured it, it was like 16″) relaxed FULL and HEALTHY hair. She takes care of her hair VERY well and avoids allowing every hairdresser on her hair . She initiated me and boom! within 1 year, my hair is past bra length, full and healthy and VERY relaxed o.

    Bottom line, know what works for your hair and stick to it. Relaxed hair is even easier to maintain, I kinda always want to cry for my sweet friends (including my sister) when I see them struggle every night with hair… The headache I face with maintaining my relaxed hair is nowhere close to what they experience and I’m complaining, I just can’t with natural hair o. If no be say I fit resemble ‘monkey’ I for don opt for mallam look since (not gathered enough confidence yet)


    • Idomagirl

      December 4, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      LMAO @ ‘natural hair geeks’. Before anyone goes natural I usually advice them to do plenty of research. Thank God that there’s a lot of information out there now so people should research properly before giving up the creamy crack.

      And true-true sometimes I envy those who can just shave it all off…

    • Hauwa

      December 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Please share .

    • Blackbeauty

      December 4, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Would you mind sharing your tips darlyn?

    • PurpleiciousBabe

      December 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      HI Blackbeauty,

      I can share mine but even better would be to write an article and display it on BN.(HOPEFULLY)
      I would like to add that natural hair demands more time and energy.
      I have learnt loads and still learning and would be happy to share. xoxox

    • oj

      December 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      @thatabiribababe, pls share your knowledge. Would have loved to go natural but my natural hair …..

    • Sho

      December 5, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Some tips please:-)

  5. Aproko

    December 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    @thatabiribabae ……..Please initiate us too na :d

    • Naija Hair Can Grow

      December 5, 2014 at 4:40 am

      Get Initiated at NAIJAHAIRCANGROW.BLOGSPOT.COM! Hee Hee!! Great Post Berry!

  6. Idomagirl

    December 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Very well said. It’s all about your regimen. I went natural because I was tired of relaxing and I wanted to see what my natural texture looked and felt like, lol, after transitioning for a year and doing the BC I was expecting to have a gorgeous mass of curls over night. Anyway, I had to learn and learn and find what products and routine works best for my hair.

    And to make matters worse I have like 3 different textures on my head, the hair infront is straight, the one behind close to my nape are more tightly coiled then the one in the middle is some sort of mix. So as you can imagine, curling the hair infront takes more effort than the rest, but I’ve finally figured out what works *phew*

    Bottomline: relaxed or natural, healthy, wonderful hair involves a lot of time, effort, care, the right products and diet (this is so important).

  7. you know

    December 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    she doesn’t know what she is talking about! I have been natural for three years and my hair has never looked better. it is fuller and longer. Relax hair was a nightmare on me, i could literally count the stands on my hair and don’t get me started on my temples.

    • Mama Ethan

      December 5, 2014 at 2:49 am

      Same here…….,cant believe my hair is full and thick now. I did the BC in February and my hair is longer than it had been for the last 10 years when stretched. So I will say natural hair is working for me. I wish I could have long relaxed hair but I’ve come to the conclusion it just wont work for my hairJjust like you, I could count the strands on my head when I was relaxed……..To each it own….know what works for you and stick to it.

  8. bim

    December 4, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I think, whether it’s relaxed or natural, unhealthy/healthy hair practices will affect your hair either way, too much manipulation, too tight hairstyles, heavy hair extension (they tend to pull on your strands) will obviously impact your hair growth. For me I’ve had really healthy relaxed hair/ long and then really thin/limp relaxed hair, same with my natural hair, it all depends on how you treat it, also there’s this misconception that using “all natural” products is always better for your hair, just because the natural movement says so, and it isn’t always the case.

    For example I’ve tried aloe vera, and glycerin in my hair and it dried it our severely, I’ve used coconut oil in my hair and it just stayed on the surface without penetrating the strands of my hair, long story short is do what works for you men

  9. itsjusme

    December 4, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    i have transitioned a good 4 times now. i don’t like the look of my natural hair and not confident enough to wear it out. but what i must say is when i was perming my hair i looked after my hair by using treatments and perming every 6-8 weeks. but my edges were going…going…gone! i could not dare to put my hair up…so i decided to grow my hair natural and i haven’t turned back since. Nope, no rapid growth, but it has grown, i got my edges back(used emu oil/castor oil) !! and thickness is here! so for me natural hair has helped my hair grow healthily plus a good ol’ diet (sometimes)lol.

  10. Anon

    December 4, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Team Natural is a cult! Look around.. Resist it. *gollum eye*

  11. Florence

    December 4, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Thank you very much.. I have always believed it is more about the time and car you give to your hair.. And some people take more care of thier natural hair than they would do for relaxed hair.

  12. missrouge

    December 4, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    oh great! thanks, you just saved me from making a grave mistake *runningtogobuyrelaxer*

  13. tee

    December 4, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I have to give it to Nigerians and trends , i went natural after i saw my sister inlaw do million braids with her natural hair .

    I usually cut my hair to look different so going natural was no big deal its about four or maybe five years now , but i am going to relax my hair a bit .Why????? I am bored !!!!!!!

    I want to wear human hair extensions , i want to wear the sophisticated all back look again .

    Have i enjoyed going natural , yes , have i regretted it …No

    A lot of people have switched to Au Naturel because of me but i am tired of the look .

    It worked for me ,my hair used to be hard hence i use Super relaxer but after two years ,my hair has been so soft , its amazing also my hair is black like colour 1 not the colour 4 i had thought my hair was most of my life.

    In all , i think people should do what makes them happy , i didnt know it would be a trend when i went natural . people will soon drop the trend , its not easy going natural especially if you cut your hair bald like i did .

  14. Spesh

    December 4, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Well written, Berry.
    It is good that people realize there is no express road to long,healthy hair. Consistency is key.

  15. TCP

    December 5, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Thanks Berry for this insightful piece. I won’t lie, sometimes I feel like joining the naturalistas but thankfully, I”ve been there and done that, as a growing girl. My mother didn’t let relaxer come near my hair and I had a huge mass of natural hair which was nicknamed sigidi.
    The hairdressers used to post me in boarding school because I used to break their combs and all. Won’t dare loosen my current hair-do if there was no one to help- on top my money o.

    One year into uni, I relaxed (na wa o- those days they used to call me sister) and I still maintain the same healthy regimen- relaxing twice a year(my hair sure needs more) but I stick to it. Steaming bi monthly etc.

    Am sorry, I love my weaves- Funmi especially and closures ain’t nice on Funmi hair. My natural permed hair- you will lust for, what else do I need?

    • Blessmyheart

      December 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Wow! This is me except that I don’t do weaves. I relaxed my hair after NYSC and it’s been so much more manageable especially since my hair is practically my only accessory. I lost my hair to braids and Ghana weaving. I’ve been maintaining just my hair for about a year now, wash every two weeks, don’t relax so often, keep moisturized and I can see the difference – full, looking healthy and retaining length.

  16. Anonymous

    December 5, 2014 at 1:40 am

    I just had to comment as a person who has had both types of hair and for the sake of common sense. I’m pro do whatever the hell you want, but let’s call a spade a spade, relaxers are comprised of harsh and potentially damaging chemicals, so you cannot compare whatever hair care you would need to keep your natural, un chemically manipulated hair healthy and your chemically manipulated hair healthy, both can be kept healthy and beautiful but best believe you need double to effort to restock you relaxed hair with proteins and nutrients because of all the harsh chemicals, not to mention that we all know the effect of relaxers fade with every wash and most people; reluctant to lose the silkiness, are less likely to wash and condition, talk less of adding moisture with water, all fundamental part sof hair care. So yes I just had to say that, in effect it is easier to attain long hair with your hair in it’s natural state with proper hair care than it is to achieve long hair with relaxed hair and proper hair care, for most people.

    • Blessmyheart

      December 5, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      I don’t agree and I’ve also had both types of hair. Maintaining my relaxed hair is so much more easier. I don’t understand the part of the hair losing silkiness with every wash as I’ve not experienced that. Every time I come out of the salon, random people meet me on the street to tell me my hair is beautiful and it’s not even very long.

  17. chi-e-z

    December 5, 2014 at 2:05 am

    I don’t know I saw drastic change just from BC and no relaxer. But I had already discovered cowashing before my BC. But one thing that I’ve noted is most Nigerian 4c hair bloggers with long hair I’ve seen wash their hair only 1-2 times a month and keep in twists so that’s what I’m trying to start since I only used to wash and fro before. Have a hair-spiration book of naija girls it helps you know it’s possible on mine are Yagazie Emezi, Naila, Justlostjc, Ty Bello, Nneka, Chinwe (LHDC)

    • chi-e-z

      December 5, 2014 at 2:13 am

      Oh and I only use apple cider vinegar, conditioner and olive oil now nothing else on my hair. So Acv on hair 40mins rinse, condition rinse and put in 6 sections, olive oil on hair as twist that’s it.I’ll tell y’all how this works out by next semester.

    • chi-e-z

      December 5, 2014 at 2:14 am

      Whoops meant next december

  18. Shaf

    December 5, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Everybody just gotta have something to say. Stick to your blogs and speak for yourself

  19. ibkgeorge

    December 5, 2014 at 4:10 am

    @thataribiriba please tell us what you used for your hair

  20. Chy

    December 5, 2014 at 5:40 am

    The point is, Nigerian women take care of your hair like African American women do. Be it in braids, weaves, all out with no chemical or chemically treated, take good care of it.

  21. Chinma Eke

    December 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

    I’m team natural-processed-hair ie; I prefer carrying my natural relaxed hair to weaves, braids I can manage. One thing I’ve discovered is; you take care of your hair, it’ll bloom. I had long, full, coarse, comb breaking hair that even Super relaxer couldn’t relax. My hair could and still grows for Africa, I would cut it today and have shoulder lenght hair by June 2015. It was very painful to manage and I was considering going on natural dreads and funny enough; dandruff saved my hair.

    My response to developing dandruff was to stop going to salons for washes, I bought hand dryers, hair straighteners and curlers, etc, I began to relax and wash my hair myself athome (believe me, its possible) I made my own natural conditioner and improved on the store bought shampoo with acv. When I need to visit the salon, I make sure I go with my kit, and be vigilant to ensure the stylist isn’t transferring dirt and offcourse I won’t let you pull my hair. Now I have next to no breakages, no dandruff and soft silky hair. And the growt rate is even more amazing.

    It isn’t about the relaxer or not, its about the care.

  22. Chinma Eke

    December 5, 2014 at 8:09 am

    And to add to that, I was washing my hair myself with an 8-5 hectic schedule. Its doable, you find that in the time you’ll need to wait your turn at the salon, you’ve washed, dried and straightened your hair at home, you can even let it air-dry while you do other things which is better for your hair.

    This isn’t to knock salon owners hustle, I just dealt with the issue the way I felt was best and it worked for me.

  23. spoonfullofsugar

    December 5, 2014 at 9:03 am

    good hair is mostly about your genes

    • Idomagirl

      December 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      And diet plays an important role as well….

  24. Ola

    December 5, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Please where can I get ‘castor oil’ in Abuja? And what other oils/ingredients help in growing thin hair edges?

    • Idomagirl

      December 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Check Perfect Trust in Wuse 2, they should have it.

    • Anonymous

      December 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Castor oil can be got at any decent pharmacy.

  25. @GabrielShaze

    December 5, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Damn. Never knew the hair game was so deep.

    Thank God I get to have a haircut every week.

  26. NneKide

    December 5, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I had a natural long relaxed hair that everyone couldn’t believe was real but because I hated extentions it was a chore because what people do not know is that its very difficult to maintain long hair. On Oct ist I shaved my hair clean and started growing my natural hair. I must say its growing faster than I thought it wud. Natural hair is liberating. I miss my long hair but not my long relaxed hair. Take care of you hair and it would grow. Relaxed or not!. I am looking forward to my natural hair journey. I love the challenge too!

  27. Those Natural African Curls

    December 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Really well written post Berry!

    To be honest if you don’t take care of your hair, it won’t grow. Going natural won’t suit everybody’s lifestyle, and not everybody has the time or patience to learn about their natural hair. I’m natural and I chose to stop relaxing because of constant burns and thinning edges, but I love my hair now, it’s almost up to my bra strap and fuller than it’s ever been.

    The best thing you can do for your hair is eat healthily, exercise and don’t do too much, you don’t need a new style every 1/2/3 weeks. Take care of your hair under your braids or weaves, check your product ingredients, don’t let your hair dresser pull on your edges etc

    There’s nothing that’s mutually exclusive to either relaxed or natural hair, good hair care is simply that, good hair care.

  28. Aundrea

    May 11, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I’m natural now and my hair is the longest and healthiest if had ever been. I was relaxed for as long as I could remember, but now I can actually get a ponytail or of my hair. So you can’t really say won’t to everyone because everyone is not the same

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tangerine Africa

Star Features