That’s a picture of my natural hair. This was a bantu knot-out and I used only Eco Styler Gel for styling. Before we get started, I have 4b/4c hair like most Nigerians. I don’t live abroad, have never gone abroad, I don’t have a high-paying job yet, I jump in and out of Lagos buses and I actually make most of my stuff so I don’t spend much on products. All it gets is some tender-loving care from yours truly with organic kitchen ingredients.
Before some will start attacking me with stories of how stubborn their hair is and how it can never get soft and shiny, my hair never got relaxed when I was a kid no matter how much my mother tried. It was a comb-breaker, arm toner and got rejected by hair stylists also so much that my inexperienced mother had to be my stylist. My mates cried when they got into secondary school because they were asked to cut their hair. I cut my hair when I was in primary 5. It was solely my idea. I was fed up and my mother finally agreed to let me after years of pleading.
I was loosening my braids, it got tangled (as usual), I went into my mother’s room and got her scissors. She cut my hair off with the braids on (it was ghana braids). I got teased but I’ve always been comfortable in my skin and nobody will massage my cramped neck with Shea Butter (which was a rare commodity then) every two weeks after styling.
In June 2015, I couldn’t hold anyone’s or my hair strands together. My hand co-ordination was zero. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted that bonding time with my daughter where I can be her hair stylist. I felt I was going to depend on professional hair stylists all my life. Fast-forward to July 2016 and I had already mastered bantu knot-outs and perm rod sets. The secret? I was interested and I researched like a crazy person.
My university made me learn how to do that. I saw vloggers on YouTube styling their hair and I rearranged my thinking from “nne, this is impossible” to “I can do this.” It was the end of a deep insecurity of not being female enough (crazy, I know but I was a tomboy). My hand co-ordination went from 0-100 real quick. It’s very possible to style your own hair. All you need is time and patience. Don’t rush it.
I rocked my failed styles with pride for months before it became perfect. I’ve always been hopeless when it comes to anything hair-related so just know that if you are determined to, you can do it.
There is this widespread belief among Nigerian naturals that their twist-outs and protective styles in general cannot look as good as Naptural85‘s or Mini Marley‘s and basically the 3B/3C hair type clan. That is a lie! A huge fallacy! You see a YouTuber or anyone with 4C hair post a picture of her stretched style and a Nigerian confidently and boldly comments that it’s not her hair and that 4C hair can’t be like that.
4C naturals have formed the habit of watching only 3B/3C naturals on YouTube. They use a pinch of leave-in conditioner as a styler for their soft curls and you go ahead to use a pinch of leave-in for your coarse kinks. Of course, that’ll work. What do you hope to gain from them? Wash and go tips? Your focus should be on 4A-4C hair type YouTubers.
99% of Nigerian naturals have blatantly refused to wear a satin bonnet or scarf or even an ordinary silk church scarf to bed, deep condition or even moisturize and I’d be fine with it because I can’t force a grown woman to do anything but when they start reaping the fruits of their lack of effort, the complaints are just frustrating because I get to hear it and I’m expected to proffer solutions which is when it becomes my business.
They even go ahead and blame their natural hair and then the overly used phrase, “natural hair is not for everyone” becomes an unofficial anthem. How can your hair not be for you? If you outline the simple things they should do, they give you the excuse, “I don’t have strength jare.” Even if you can’t tie the scarf because it slips off, knot the ends around your pillow to make a pseudo satin pillowcase.
The Indians we see and admire their hair have devised means and ways to take care of their hair with herbs. Good hair doesn’t come about by casting a spell. This isn’t Merlin. If you don’t take care of your hair, it will keep breaking off, looking scraggly, frizzy, feeling dry and hard and boy, does that give the Nigerian natural hair community a bad reputation.
Natural hair does not magically treat itself. Love your hair and it will love you back. 4C hair can be shiny. I can attest to that. There is also nothing wrong with styling your hair in one protective style for three to six months. Perfect a style and move on to the next. Well, that is my modus operandi since I knew literally nothing about styling so I start from scratch. There is no rush, there is no destination in this journey. Calm down, breathe and enjoy your hair.
In my next article, I’ll be sharing tips on how to prepare your hair for styling as a second part of this article on tips for styling 4B/4C hair and getting perfect results. Preparations is just as important as the styling process so watch out for that!