Why, hello Friendship!
How are you today? So by now you know that Kurly Kichana is all about those natural kinks and kurls. We love natural hair and, by virtue of you taking the time out of your busy day to read our posts (and for that we couldn't thank you enough... you rock), we figure you do as well.
At Kurly Kichana, we believe in choice; what is life without choice and the freedom of self-expression right? Well, a little while back we met with a few of our girlfriends and the topic of natural hair vs. relaxed hair came up. We were a table full of curls and locs so the argument was pretty much one-sided... To make a long story short, at the end of the conversation, we found that some people in the natural haired community hold some harsh views on women who choose to keep their hair relaxed.
Before we met up with our girlfriends we had a shared opinion on natural hair - it's BANG-UP BRILLIANT and if you aren't natural, you need an intervention. Upon further reflection, we realized that it's no one's place to judge other people on their lifestyle choices... We are allowed to hold our views, but not instill them upon others (we would love to hear your thoughts on this).
And so we decided to hear it from a bonafide member of Camp Relaxed. We reached out to a fellow blogger Sharon of this is ess. And this is what she had to say about her relaxed hair journey..
1. Tell us a bit about yourself!
Haha, oh the pressure of making it “sweet”.
My name is Sharon Mundia and I'm a 23 year old girl living in her hometown Nairobi, Kenya. I run the site This Is Ess which is a fashion and beauty blog that has quickly become a great passion of mine. My favourite TV Shows include Suits, Modern Family, Sherlock Holmes and Touch (to name a few) and I can’t go a day without lip balm, my glasses and breathing (ha!). Oh and I never go a month without at least one slice of Dormans Red Velvet Cake!
2. When did you have your hair relaxed? Was it your choice or that of an authority figure? What are your hair goals and what regimen do you follow?
I believe I was 13 years old when I finally relaxed my hair and I had basically done everything in power to convince my mother to let me do it! I so desperately wanted my hair to be relaxed because of all the pain I had gone through while I had natural hair. I never really understood how to take care of my hair then and in fact it has taken me 10 years since to put together a decent hair regimen.
My long-term goal is to have healthy hair that reaches my waist while my short-term goal (till December 2013) is to have healthy hair that reaches my bra strap (the horizontal section at the back).
I only started my real hair journey on October 17th 2012 so there’s a good chance my regimen might change as I get to understand my hair needs. I say ‘real’ hair journey as there were times in my past when I thought I knew what my hair needed but after all the research I’ve been doing lately, I realise how wrong I was! As for my current regimen: I wash my hair once a week, use shampoo only when I feel like my hair needs to get rid of all the product that’s built up, co-wash my hair, use a moisture based treatment and/or a protein based treatment depending on my hair needs, moisturise and seal daily, oil my scalp using castor oil once a week and only use heat once a month. Trimming off the split ends regularly is also part of this regimen.
3. In the wave of the current global movement towards natural hair among women of colour, what has prevented you from being "swept away" by the movement?
To be honest I didn’t realise there was a movement until I started getting into my hair regimen and doing my research and that’s when I saw just how many women out there are going natural! I like my hair relaxed because I think that it’s more convenient that way plus sometimes I just like having bone-straight hair. If ever I want to go natural though, it won’t be because I want to move with the crowd but because for one reason or another, I feel that that’s the best thing for my hair.
4. Some women with natural hair claim that women who chose to relax their hair are "less African" than those who maintain natural hair. What are your thoughts on such sentiments and what would you say to this?
If my African status was partly based on whether my hair was natural or relaxed then yeah, they’d be right! But I believe that’s a very shallow point of view – declaring someone to be “less African” based on how they treat their hair is very judgemental, not to mention a baseless accusation. I mean, what’s African? And how does hair fall into this definition? And to which extent do you consider manipulation of one’s hair dependent on their African status? Would colouring my hair make me less African? Blow drying? Using a straightener? How about if I texturized my hair, am I “more African” than the lady who’s relaxed her hair but still “less African” than the one who’s natural?
See where I’m going? Being African is not dependent on your hair!!
5. Do you associate with the health implications of relaxing hair? If so, what precautions should someone who chooses to relax their hair follow?
The only problems I know that come from using relaxers are scalp burns which occur when the relaxer literally burns your scalp and you’re left with a scab a couple days later. I’ve suffered from this a few times as my scalp is rather sensitive but I’ve learnt that:
a) You should always wait about a week (maybe even more) after washing your hair before you relax it. Your scalp needs to have built up some natural oils as a means of protecting itself.
b) Don’t sit with the relaxer in your hair for too long – this is disaster waiting to happen
c) Understand your hair needs. If you can’t stay with relaxer on for too long then go with the mild option. If you’re scalp is less sensitive then you can go for the stronger options
d) Avoid vigorous scratching of your scalp before going to get your hair relaxed as it only makes it more susceptible to burns.
6. Would you ever consider going natural? Y/N kindly explain
At this point, no! I find that my hair is much easier to style when it’s relaxed plus it’s a little easier to deal with I guess (even though it needs that much more care to prevent breakage).
7. Who are your "hair idols"?
I am absolutely obsessed with Megan from U Love Megz, she’s the one who inspired me to start a proper hair regimen for my hair journey actually! And my friend recently introduced me to Chime Edwards who has gorgeous natural hair!
8. We love your sense of fashion! Tell us about the look that defines Ess and what elements you cannot do without!
Aww thanks ladies :) To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve really explored fashion enough in order to truly discover my sense of style but if I had to put it into words I’d say my look is usually simple, cute and a little adventurous! The items that I reach for the most in my wardrobe are my nude pumps and my black blazer – they almost always go with anything I put on (a dress, skirt, jeans) which makes it very convenient for me. I’m also really getting into accessories as I’m finding that they add the little extra to an otherwise ordinary outfit. So start building your accessories ladies!
9. Any closing sentiments?
I think with any hair journey the two things that will almost always help you realise your goals are consistency and patience. But if I happen to come across a miracle healthy hair growth formula, you can rest assured I’ll give you a shout ;)
Thank you so much for allowing me to do this interview!