This week I’d thought that I would share some of the crazy things that have happened since I ‘went natural.’ My friend, on the other hand, was busy planning, packing and buying my ticket for the guilt trip she was about to take me on. Hehehe. (I still love you though). She said people with TWAs (teeny weeny afros) are sidelined: that we don’t cater to them. So, in my haste, I said I’d dedicate this week’s post to people with short hair. Let’s just say that I instantly regretted it….. Don’t give me that side eye.
I try to be honest. Therefore, in the spirit of honesty, I should say that I’ve not had super short hair for a while so I’m not an authority on what to do or avoid. However, you know how when people are in a relationship they often only see their version of things? On the other hand, someone who’s on the outside looking in is able to see some aspects that the two people in the relationship might not see or choose to overlook? Sometimes perspective from an ‘outsider’ helps. So perhaps this won’t be a waste of time and you’ll learn something you can use after your big chop, whether you’ve already done it or you’re thinking of doing it.
If you’re not new to the blog, then you already know that I’ve become a hair regimen advocate of late. I preach it anytime I get the opportunity. I mentioned it here as we copped up to the trends that we need to leave in 2017. The first thing that you definitely need, if you want to see any progress, is a regimen. It doesn’t need to be complicated. You only need to have some sort of simple ‘timetable’ on how you take care of your hair. For those who may feel out of depths about the regimen, don’t sweat it. I will be sharing mine soon and hopefully you can borrow a few things, sio?
The second thing that you need to prioritize is moisture. People with a TWA, or at least those that I have interacted with, tend to ignore the fact that hair needs moisture. Jumping in the shower without a shower cap every day, drying your hair and being on your way isn’t acceptable. I know it’s convenient and reminds me of the no-maintenance boyish haircut during our primary school days but it isn’t beneficial. It definitely won’t encourage healthy hair growth. If you choose to wash your hair daily, rub some oil (coconut, olive, argan, etc) on the palm of your hands and run it over your hair. This will lock in the moisture for the day. For an even better experience, throw in a gentle two-minute massage for your scalp once every few days. This applies to those who have a few inches of hair as well as those with Lupita-length hair back when she won the Oscars. Kwanza do you know ladies back here in the ‘motherland’ started walking into barber shops and saying “Ninyoe Lupita?” Sometimes I’m tempted to give up on Kenyans but such uniqueness makes me love us even more.
On the same note, if you plan to wash your hair frequently, please, I beseech thee by the mercies of God to have the right products. Otherwise, you’ll end up stripping your hair of essential oils or even irritating your scalp with all the cleansers and scrubbing. Get something that’s good for your hair, like sulfate-free shampoo. Use it sparingly. If possible, do the water-only method of washing your hair and cleanse at most twice a week; include clay masks as alternate cleansers once in a while; use moisturizing conditioners. Basically, pay mind to the products that you use. They could make or break your hair growth.
In my (perhaps naïve) opinion, the TWA stage is the best. With a clean-shaven head or a few inches of hair, you have a world of possibilities. You haven’t yet been sucked into the endless search for the next best product. You haven’t yet turned your pantry into a salon…or is it your salon into a pantry? You still have so much to learn and you get to choose the path you want to take. This means that you can learn from the mistakes of others. In light of this, you don’t have to be a product junkie. Pace yourself. I think I’ve said this before: not everything works for everyone. Slowly try out different shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, DIY remedies and see what your hair agrees with. Take time with each to monitor how your hair and/ or scalp reacts before tossing it out and buying the newest holy grail according to everyone on the internet. This way, by the time you have longer hair, you know a lot about your mane. You’ll be like friends – knowing the likes and dislikes. It will save you a lot of money and come in handy now and in the future. Finally, when it comes to products, always remember that it’s not the product that grows your hair. Hair growth is a function of hair health and hair health is determined by a number of factors. For my fellow geeks:
Hair growth = f (hair health)
Hair growth = f (diet, moisture retention, healthy ends for length retention, blood circulation, manipulation)
For those who hate Maths, here are some not-so-random photos of Bella to help you forget the equations above.
This is back when I was still blowdrying my hair every three to four weeks. I’d also taken to flat ironing it often in 2012. That combination caused heat damage and breakage. It explains how thin it was.
This is just after I quit heat and hair salons. I decided to take care of my hair so it could look like Tabitha’s from Craving Yellow. My goal was simple: I wanted curls. Unfortunately, at the time it had so much heat damage that it couldn’t hold curls. In fact, this was my default hairstyle (a high puff and rolled bangs) every time my twist outs came out straight. #TheStruggleWasReal
This is December of last year. I’m grateful for the volume, length and that my hair is actually kinky-curly. It’s such a big deal for me because hairdressers had convinced me that my hair was straight and couldn’t curl; I later learnt that it was actually heat damage.
Basically, my point is that it always takes TLC, time and patience.
Finally, one thing that may come as a surprise for you as your hair grows is how much work it can be. Most of the times we want long manes but we are not willing to put in the work. The truth is that the longer, thicker or more voluminous your hair gets, the more time it will take to do the same things you still did before, i.e. , washing, styling, etc. You will also need more products: shampoos, conditioner, your favorite oil mixture, bobby pins, you name it.
So if you’re not prepared psychologically, the thing you wanted (thicker and longer hair) will become a nuisance. You will dread wash days and constantly toy with the idea of relaxing your hair or chopping it off again. We all know that the thanks of donkey is kicks. Yaani, asante ya punda ni mateke. So: have your goals, adjust your expectations, put in the work and be patient. This way, you won’t give up on your TWA. Plus, you get to enjoy every part of the journey which makes it worthwhile. Donge?
Feel free to share more helpful tips for people with TWAs in the comment section. No one has a monopoly on knowledge or life experiences. So let’s build each other up with information and encouragement. 🙂 Aaaaaaand on that note, let’s interact on the gram @njeriegitau. Tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend to read, share and sub. #NaturalHair254