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Tonkabelle: Relaxed Hair or Natural Hair – All Hair can be HEALTHY



TonkabelleI remember when I was younger and I was called various names because I had natural hair and a lot of people teased me about it, like I had committed some sort of crime in not relaxing my hair. Anytime I would go to the salon to get my hair done they would refuse to touch it saying that I should go to get my hair relaxed or some others would tell me that they did not know how to style natural hair, so I would have to leave the salon without getting my hair done. Fast forward to the new age and there are actually salons where people with natural hair can go to get their hair done, I couldn’t be happier.

Slowly but surely natural hair is becoming something that a lot of ladies are turning towards. I am absolutely delighted for them as I think it is important for you to embrace your identity and whatever that means to you. However, what I don’t understand is why there are some people who after deciding to become natural suddenly believe that relaxed hair is unhealthy. There is truly no reason for anyone to ever fathom the notion that all relaxed hair is unhealthy because a chemical has been put in it when the truth is that relaxed/texlaxed hair can be just as healthy as natural hair.

I also don’t understand why there is such a divide between those with relaxed and natural hair. Why are there salons which are mainly for natural hair? What is wrong with a salon being for every type of hair, as long as the person wants to achieve healthy hair? I have also noticed that there are some hair events that are targeted towards only people with natural hair, organised by people with natural hair. What is wrong with lovers of healthy hair coming together and learning from one another regardless of their hair type?dreamstime_xl_40496631

I am a hair blogger who has relaxed/texlaxed hair and the reason for my blog and everything I do relating to hair care is because I truly believe that all hair can be healthy hair. Hair is just hair, if you take care of it, it will grow. Granted there may be some minor differences in how relaxed and natural hair should be cared for but the truth remains that both sides of the divide can learn from each other. As females we should come together to work towards a common goal whether it is something like healthy hair or world peace, there is no need for us to create a division between ourselves which need not exist in the first place. The segregation between us as a people be it religion, ethnic, tribal, complexion, hair, really needs to stop (believe me I don’t want to get too deep before this article turns into something else)

We should learn to embrace all sorts of hair and that it is why I educate myself on relaxed and natural hair because the premise for all healthy hair is the same. I will therefore be sharing tips on what everyone regardless of whether your hair is relaxed, texlaxed, natural, texturised, color treated, etc, can do to achieve longer, healthier hair:

  1. Wash and Deep Condition Hair Regularly:
    It is important to wash your hair as often as you can. This can be once or twice a week, once in two weeks or even monthly depending on the state of your hair and your hair type. If you are trying to achieve longer, healthier hair I would advise washing it more often to help get your hair to a healthier state. You may wash your hair with sulfate shampoos (especially when you do a clarifying wash which can be done once a month), non-sulfate shampoos, rinse out conditioners or cleansing conditioners. For sulfate shampoos, please note that it is important to go through product labels as not all sulfates are created equally. The lauryl sulfates are harsher than the laureth sulfates with the harshest being ammonium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate. Then sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are the least harsh.It is important to always deep condition your hair after washing it especially when you use shampoo to wash your hair. For deep conditioners there are basically two kinds, protein and moisturising deep conditioners. Each time you want to deep condition, choose which sort of deep condition to do. You can decide to go with a light protein such as the ORS Replenishing Conditioner or you can use a moisture based deep conditioner such as Elasta QP DPR-11 Remoisturising Conditioner or a heavy protein deep conditioner such as ORS Hair Mayonnaise. However after doing a heavy protein treatment it is recommended that you follow up with a moisturising deep conditioner or alternatively you can mix the heavy protein and moisturising deep conditioners and use them that way. If you are natural you may not need to do as many protein deep condition treatments as someone with relaxed hair.
  2. Moisturise and Seal your Hair Daily:
    It is very important to moisturise and seal your hair daily or every other day. You may find that those with thicker hair need to moisturise more frequently than those with fine to medium hair. Moisturise simply means applying a water based moisturiser to your hair. It is necessary to look at the label of the hair moisturiser to ensure that water (aqua) is listed as the first ingredient; you may also want to avoid moisturisers with mineral oil or petrolatum. When moisturising your hair it is important to apply the moisturiser to your hair in sections, please note that moisturisers should not be applied to your scalp. After that, follow up with an oil to seal in the moisture. To seal simply take about a dime sized amount of oil such as coconut oil in your hands, rub your hands lightly and apply on your hair making sure to concentrate on your ends. It is important to always seal your hair after moisturising it as this will retain moisture in your hair.
  3. Always Wear Protective Styles, Avoid Heat Tools and Protect your Hair at Night:
    Our hair does not take too kindly to being exposed to the elements that is why it is important to always wear protective styles. A protective style is any hairstyle which keeps your ends protected and decreases over manipulation. If the ends of your hair are constantly being exposed it is only a matter of time before they break off. However protective styles keep your hair protected and prevent hair breakage, dryness, split ends and so on. There are two types of protective styles there are longer term protective styles where the hair is left in the said hairstyle for at least a week such as weaves, wigs, braids, twists, corn rows (with your own hair or with extensions).It is however important that you still continue caring for your hair and not neglect it while it is in a longer term protective style. Also the longer term protective style must not be done too tightly neither should a drying gel or glue be used on the hair as this may hinder the health and length of your hair. You can also opt for a shorter term protective style such as buns, chignons, french twists, updos (any hairstyle where the ends are not exposed). It is however important to take the style down daily or every other day, to moisturise and seal. Also make sure the hair style is not done too tightly as this will hinder the health and length of your hair.To improve the health and length of your hair it is also important to minimise the amount of heat you use on your hair, instead of drying it with heat, you can air dry it. Also avoid using curling tongs, hair straighteners, etc to style your hair. To achieve curly styles there are other healthier alternatives like bantu knot outs, twist outs and braid outs. It is also important that you protect your hair at night with a silk/satin scarf/bonnet to ensure your hair stays moisturised and protected throughout the night.

If everyone can do these things you would be well on your way towards achieving longer and healthier hair. Please share if you have any other tips that have worked for you.

Editor’s note: A great example of healthy texlaxed hair is Enitan Agidee and her . See her #BNFroFriday feature here.


  1. Meah

    June 21, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    This read like a ph.d thesis in part but it was a good read. I dont care much for all the noise and song about team natural or team relaxed, i just want good, healthy hair. Thanks for pointing out how this can be achieved. God bless.

  2. @edDREAMZ

    June 21, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Is gud to be a man…..

  3. Ha1rlov1ng

    June 21, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    I wouldn’t use that deep conditioner she mentioned if I were you #justsaying

    • Leah

      June 21, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      I absolutely agree! I used ORS conditioners when I was relaxed and at the beginning of my natural hair journey and it was terrible in both cases. They did more harm to my hair and they smelled just awful. But I know people who swear by their products, so I guess it depends on your hair type.

  4. Halima

    June 21, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    I haven’t relaxed my hair and you can say it’s ‘natural’ Right now, I just hate all the noise about team natural. It’s like a cult and it’s just annoying. My friend’s hair is so relaxed and fine! It’s straight and she takes care of it. Enough of all the noise, it’s getting so boring. I follow some natural hair groups on facebook and the way some ladies criticise relaxed hair is so annoying

    • Anon

      June 22, 2016 at 5:11 am

      Lol calm down please. I actually bet with someone that someone would find a way to insult team natural because of this article. Any hair article and someone MUST bring up team naturAl- why so defensive over people in a movement they love? Team relaxed are always feeling slighted as if someone is judging them. People stating facts about the sociocultural history and effects of relaxed hair isn’t affecting you. Your hair isn’t it still on your hair? On this blog, the hair bullies are actually team relaxed. The same way someone will state their love for gender equality and someone who doesn’t believe will take it personally and feel insulted. Calm down abeg

    • Kariba

      June 22, 2016 at 10:56 am

      @Anon, actually people bring up the team natural issue because #teamnatural are the ones who actually judge others, note her comment “and the way some ladies criticise relaxed hair is so annoying”. The reason you feel ladies with relaxed hair are defensive is simply because someone has thrown an insult or criticism their way when it’s none of their business. Yes, it’s our hair and that’s why it’s irritating to have someone judge you for your choices. I don’t see anything wrong with Halima’s comment as she is simply stating what she has experienced.

  5. Pink

    June 21, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    I have always had good hair, maybe not extremely longgg but definitely full hair, and it was this whole debate of relaxed hair is unhealthy that made me decide to actively grow my relaxed hair. One year in and i have moved from the usual Nigerian neck length to bra length. So yes relaxed hair can grow and be healthy too.

  6. Bey

    June 21, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    As much as natural hair is d latest craze now, I just canttt.
    I love seeing on people ( my 2 best friends are natural) but it isn’t for me. D stress combing out d texture, d care, nahhhhh.
    I’m fine with my relaxed hair, I love that slick look of newly relaxed hair, d baby hairs when it’s still slick etc. Iv always had long hair, it’s hereditary in my case and my mum is a trained hair stylist so Iv always known abt caring for my hair.
    Iv been relaxing my hair since d age of 3 and nothing has happened to my hair thru d years. Always remained full and long.Iv only cut off my whole hair when I was in jss1 in a federal school, but afta I left d sch a yr later, started growing my hair till now.
    I wouldn’t relax my baby’s hair dat early thou, wait till she’s atleast 11 and is old enuf to care for her hair.
    Team relaxed or Team natural. It’s a personal choice

  7. Bandwagon effect/ Follow follow

    June 21, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    I think she just spoke my mind. I have always had gorgeous relaxed hair but because of the texture of my hair, I could pass for a 2010 while trying to research on how to grow my hair longer than it was,I stumbled on the natural coily hair that seem to be the ‘thing’ in europe. Dat being said I still did not go natural because I am proof that u can have healthy, curly,thick textured,full and long relaxed hair. Not that I didn’t consider it, it just wasn’t popular then, and I felt I could achieve same with my relaxed hair if I imbibed the practices. I remember telling a friend of mine and she told me it could never work and today she’s all about the “team natural” lol. I smile when I see people go on and on about it. You may have relaxed or texlaxed Hair and still style your hair naturally, and also enjoy the beauty of your hair with little or no manipulation or stress that naralistas are known for and yes I may have relaxed hair I do still have natural hair , which means I too am a naturalista u can’t have monopoly of that too.

  8. Tunmi

    June 22, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Madam, really!?????!!!!
    The answer to your third paragraph is in the first paragraph. It’s called a safe space. And don’t try too hard to demonize those who work to maintain those spaces.

  9. Winnie

    June 22, 2016 at 5:21 am

    People just love to fight superiority. That is why there is this division between ladies with unrelaxed hair and those with relaxed hair. But just as the writer said, both hairs are healthy. Currently my hair is relaxed, but I was once on unrelaxed hair all tru my secondary school days. And I can bodly say that it was not easy or funny to maintain at all. and having an unrelaxed hair does not guarantee a full and healthy hair. It all depends on how well the hair is cared for.

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