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#BNFroFriday: Medical Doctor Idorenyin Akpabio talks to BN Beauty about Her Kinky Curly Top, “Uyai”

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Today’s #BNFroFriday interview features a natural hair vlogger and blogger, a medical doctor and an all round lover of life, Idorenyin Akpabio. This Ibibio lady is currently based in South Africa and she enjoys travelling, fashion, writing and singing.

Idorenyin documents all her adventures on Instagram with @idorenyinakp and you can find out more about her style and natural hair on her blog Naturalhaired9jachick.wordpress.com and her YouTube channel afro’d 9jachick.

Braid Out

Braid Out

BellaNaija: Tell us about your hair
Idorenyin Akpabio: My kinky, curly top is called Uyai (Uyai means beauty in Ibibio). She’s primarily 4c (with a bit of 4a/b in the center) and black. I’ve never attempted to dye it for fear of damage so I usually use hairpieces of different colours when styling (e.g. box/crochet braids). I had my hair relaxed at an early age, sometime before age 7. One of my earliest memories is having sustained burns to my lips after a bad relaxer experience (I think I was 6).

Roller Set on Relaxed Hair

Roller Set on Relaxed Hair

BN: Why did you decide to go natural?
IA: My relaxed hair did quite well actually; it was just above bra strap when I thought about natural hair. My reason for going natural was not about trying to discover my inner black self or that usual story; I was just curious about what I would look like with an afro. Also, I usually did roller sets with my relaxed hair as I loved the volume so I knew I could cut out the middleman by going natural.

BN: How did you make the change?
IA: I wasn’t ready to immediately go short so I decided to transition for a period of 1 year. As I got closer to that mark however, I started feeling apprehensive and decided to push to 18 months.

One evening however, around 21h30, I found myself in the bathroom with hair shears and the next thing I knew, I started snipping.

My big chop was done over 2 nights, the 29th and 30th Nov 2014, to reveal 1 year of growth. I loved my hair immediately; God had bestowed a crown of glorious curls on me yet all this while it had been hidden.

December 1 2014, Day 1 as a Naturalista

December 1 2014, Day 1 as a Naturalista

IA: While transitioning, I encountered much opposition and unwarranted comments. I had friends who kept commenting that I should relax my hair; colleagues who insisted that I had money and as such, had no reason to keep my hair natural (you see, natural hair was associated with being unkempt and poor).

After having big chopped, while rocking a twist out, an uncle commented that having natural hair was unsuitable for a doctor and that I should get a hairstyle befitting of my title if I wanted people to respect me. Let me not get started with the comments from my mom lol. My brothers however, were very supportive and would defend my decision whenever mom was negative.

BN: Are you tempted to go back to having relaxed hair?
IA: No, so far no temptation.

Roller Set progression, Day 1- 7

Roller Set progression, Day 1- 7

BN: Ever hidden your natural hair?
IA: Not exactly, though there was an incident in my first week of being natural. My first wash day, about 2 days after my big chop, was a disaster. Deciding that my hair wasn’t long enough to wash in sections, I washed it loosely plopped on my head. What resulted was a mass of knots and tangles. I was so discouraged/frustrated and decided I would tackle the tangles the following morning before work (I usually wash my hair in the evening).

I’d forgotten that natural hair shrunk and became more compact as it dried. The following morning, my hair was so tight & the knots seemed to have multiplied. There wasn’t enough time to sort out my hair and I went to work like that. The whole morning I felt uncomfortable because I felt my hair was unkempt plus it was so short, I wished I could hide it.

Funnily enough I received quite a few compliments from colleagues who loved my hair and it helped to lift my mood plus my view of my natural hair. Since then, I have embraced my natural hair in all states, I absolutely love it now.

Picked out Afro

Picked Out Afro

BN: How long have you kept your natural hair?
IA: August 2016, I will have 2years 9 months’ worth of natural hair growth on my head (transition included). I have no schedule for trimming and trim as I see fit.

BN: How does climate where you live affect your hair?
IA: I haven’t really taken note of the effect on my hair.

BN: Do you have any other hair problems?
IA: Chai, 4c hair tends to knot a lot o – single strand knots (especially the hair at the back of my head).

BN: How do you deal with this?
IA: I just embrace it, no matter how much I moisturize my hair, it will knot up somewhat. I can’t stress over a characteristic that is part and parcel of my hair.

Shrunken Afro

Shrunken Afro

BN: What’s your stance on natural vs. chemical products?
IA: I use whatever works on my hair. For example, I tried to jump on the “almighty Coconut Oil” bandwagon and my hair hated it, meanwhile, products containing mineral oil that are shunned by the natural hair community seemed to work well for me. It’s all trial and error really.

BN: What’s your daily, weekly and/or monthly hair routine?
IA: When my fro is out (from a protective style), I usually wash it once every 10 – 14 days. Wash day consists of a hot oil treatment (a mix of Avocado, Olive Oil and Jamaican Black Castor Oil), wash (Tresseme Shampoo or Bentonite Clay wash) and deep condition (homemade or store bought; I particularly love the Hair Mayonnaise by ORS).

I use the LCO method for moisturizing after wash day and thereafter, whenever I feel my hair needs it.
L: water or Olive Oil Leave-in Hair Conditioner (by Ultimate Organic Therapy) and Aloe Vera Gel
C: olive oil cream therapy (by ultimate organic therapy)
O: shea butter and my JBCO mix
I avoid using heat on my hair, though I hope to do a blowout for my 3 year anniversary.

"Stretching out my hair before a protective style"

“Stretching out my hair before a protective style”

BN: What advice would you give to people thinking of going natural?
IA: Patience is key: your hair will grow but it won’t feel like it if you’re constantly watching it and doing
length checks etc.

Don’t compare your length and rate of growth to any other natural.

Break the “rules” and get to know what works for your hair, not everything will work for everyone.

Once natural, remember that natural hair generally takes longer to handle than relaxed hair so you have
to be in the right mindset when tackling your hair (e.g. don’t try detangling before work lol)

BN: What do you like best about your hair and being natural?
IA: I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten even more confident since going natural; I feel the natural hair just compliments my features perfectly. I also love that I get to have both long and short hair because of shrinkage.

BN: What are your favourite styles to rock and why?
IA: My afro just as is – undefined and kinky. I still love doing rollers sets and also like a good braid out.

Watch one of Idorenyin’s Hair Videos

4 Easy Ways to Style your Box Braids

See more Photos of Idorenyin’s Hair

"I call this style hot cross buns"

“I call this style hot cross buns”

Afro Puff

Afro Puff

Twist Out with Jumbo Crown Flat Twists

Twist Out with Jumbo Crown Flat Twists

Updo

Updo

Updo

Updo

Braided Bantu Knots taken down

Braided Bantu Knots taken down

Thanks for sharing your journey with us Idorenyin!

If you’d like to be featured, send an email to [email protected]!

Eki is the Editor for BellaNaija Style and Lifestyle Editor for BellaNaija.com She has a Vogue Fashion Certificate from Conde Nast College of Fashion & Design and also attended Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion and the University of Kent. Eki headed the Design Operations at a top Nigerian womenswear fashion brand before finding love at BellaNaija Style. Eki loves all things creative. Follow her on Instagram @ekiogunbor BellaNaija Style: [email protected] | @bellanaijastyle BellaNaija Beauty: @bellanaijabeauty BellaNaija Living: [email protected] | @bellanaijaliving

15 Comments

  1. Bimbo

    September 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Her natural hair is beautiful on her. Just beautiful.

  2. Mz Socially Awkward...

    September 2, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Girlllll, you make me just want to whip these braids off my ‘fro this very minute! Your hair is lush…. and I hope certain members of the family are all eating their negative predictions, now. 🙂

    Plus, did you say this is 2 years 9 months of growth?? I’m so mad at you, in ways you can’t imagine 😀

    Gorgeous mane.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 2, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      BN, warris this? Haff you migrated me to a new avatar in my “absent”?

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      September 2, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Biko, BN of days, why has you sange my avatars? E reach to follow ask.

    • ATL's finest

      September 2, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Thank U!!! I’m asking the same question too. Like I have the new one I’ve got smh.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      September 2, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      My henvy out races yours. 2.9 and looking so lush. She even wrote that she trims. Nne, my first trim was two weeks ago after all these years. Initially I was very excited but the kain depression wey follow, eh, na to think say somebody die. I stared at the mirror for hours…

      My sister in the ministry, may your mane continue to wax curly. Every arrow of tangelments be straightened. Yep. Tis done.

      Beautiful name, by the way…

    • Idorenyin Akpabio

      September 2, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      Lol sorry o, to trim is not easy, can be painful to lose some length but it must be done now and then to maintain the health of the hair.
      Thank you my sister?

    • Idorenyin Akpabio

      September 2, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      Lol lol, thank you Ms Socially Awkward
      Mommy doesn’t bother me anymore eh, ? she quite likes it and is sporting a little fro of her own these days .
      Thank you. Lol, whip the fro out o, let’s see?. How far with your own?

  3. Mahka

    September 2, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Luscious mane, beautiful name too…
    How can I figure out my hair type?

  4. tamunotonye

    September 3, 2016 at 12:22 am

    I have never trimmed my hair b4, don’t have the guts. The way she sheds tho, now I know I need to.

    • Idorenyin Akpabio

      September 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Just be trimming little by little Tamunotonye, if it’s needed, so at least it’s not too shocking to your system lol

  5. Naijatalk

    September 3, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    You, and your hair are beautiful. I love to celebrate African natural sisters

    • Idorenyin Akpabio

      September 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you Naijatalk. We appreciate the love ☺

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