WATCH: Before and after I straightened my natural hair

straightened natural hair, be whole, robyn ruth thomas

Aaargh! I did it.

I straightened my natural hair.

It feels more like I was getting a tattoo of a design that I wasn’t absolutely certain of.

If the hairstylist makes the wrong move, the entire hair journey goes to shit. It’s not even funny. You can’t recover from heat damage. The only way to treat heat damage is to cut it off.

This is what was looming in the back of my mind on the way to Style Studio in Canal Walk, where I got my hair flat-ironed for the first time in two years.

It’s a really long time for someone who’s lived by straightening her fronts before school e-ver-ry morning. My Vegas portable straightener was heated every morning before school and I had a ritual. I’d switch on the flat-iron, go and brush my teeth, make some tea, come back and the straightener would be hot enough for me to get started.

“You must suffer for beauty,” my aunt would say. And heaven knows that I did – having to sleep with rollers at night, getting some scabs from relaxer burns, and… oh the things we go through to fit in… I had to re-train my brain to think and remember that beauty isn’t one shape, size, or hair texture. And I’m so glad that I stood firm in maintaining my natural hair.

Straightened natural hair feels so different

The old office ladies weren’t joking when they said that your twenties go really quickly.

Time is flying.

I’ve been natural for more than two years already and in September (2017), I’ll be celebrating three years of change, three years of unconditioning my mind from one version of beauty, and celebrating the growth of my healthy mane.

At the end of my natural hair growth challenge in June 2017, I opted for an official straight length check to see how long my hair had grown.

My goal was to get to bra-strap length, which I’m happy to say that I achieved! Take a look at what the experience was like, and how Zaidah turned my hair from afro to sleek in over an hour, below:

What do you think of my straight hair look? I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave me a comment below.

Let’s connect on social during the week: chat to me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY! Win one of two Tresemmé Botanique Hampers

tresemme botanique, robyn ruth thomas,

Natural hair or not, Tresemmé has always been a favourite.

I was a big fan of the Tresemmé  Moisture Rich range before I went natural and continued to use it after my big chop. Since they’d launched the Botanique range – which includes a shampoo that has lowered sulphates and a conditioner that really seeps into your hair’s follicles – I haven’t been using any other shampoos or conditioners.

HAMPER INCLUDES: Tresemmé  Botanique Nourishing and Replenishing shampoo and conditioner, a trendy African print headscarf, and a pair of stylish wooden afro comb earrings.

How to enter:

Chatting to some curly girls recently made me realize how little our natural hair journeys had to go with switching up our hairstyles. Yes, the movement is trending right now, but I have learned so much about myself and so have you, If you’re a natural, I’m sure.

To enter simply comment on the giveaway post below, telling me what your natural hair journey has taught you. Use the hashtag, #longlivenaturalhair, and tag three friends.

E.g. My hair journey has taught me that there isn’t one definition of beauty.@definitelydonnalee @carissacupido@roxcizzle #longlivenaturalhair

Click on this photo to enter 

A post shared by Alchemist (@robynruththomas) on


  • Make sure  that you follow me –@robynruththomas and @tresemmesa on Instagram.
  • Two winners will be announced on 19.06.2017 at 20:30pm CAT.
  • Valid for South African entrants only.

More about Tresemmé Botanique:

Watch my full review of the Botanique range, here. The highlights would have to be that the conditioner affords my hair enough slip to finger detangle after shampooing.

I usually cleanse my hair twice, first to lift any build-up, and secondly to make sure that I’ve removed all dirt before applying conditioner.

I noticed that this shampoo lathers really quickly and generously even though I used about an almond size amount of shampoo. I can tell that it’s going to last me a really long time since I don’t use a lot of shampoo. My hair also didn’t feel stringy after my second wash which would normally happen even if I was using a sulphate-free shampoo.

The conditioner wins – obviously. I go through a lot of conditioner because I finger detangle my hair instead of using a comb and WOW. I’m still on the first bottle because it’s a 750ml. This is after five washes, two of which were co-washes. The bottle is less than half-way. This is a miracle to me, and also a gold star for my budget. The shampoo and conditioner are available for R79.99 at all major retail stores.

Have you already tried this range? I’d love to know what you thought of it. Comment what you think of the range below or chat to me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
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Hair Growth Challenge finale: Six months done and dusted!

natural hair growth, robyn ruth thomas

I can’t believe that it’s already been six months.

Three years ago, sitting in a kitchen, having lunch at my job, I decided that I was going to cut out everything that didn’t feel worthwhile in my life. One of them being the effort that I’d made to get my hair straight and looking appropriate.

“To hell with that,” I said to myself.

And here I am, now, writing to you about a natural hair growth challenge that I’ve just completed!

What an experience.

I’m nervous and excited about my final length check. I’ll be having my hair blow dried and flat ironed for the first time in years.

The gentle blow dry and flat iron will give me a more accurate idea of how long my hair has grown since I started my challenge in January 2017.

Where you can see my hair growth results:

I’ll be getting my hair done at Style Studio, one of the few hair salons who know how to care for natural hair in Cape Town.

I’ll be sharing the results in a vlog style video which you won’t miss if you subscribe to my blog.  If you aren’t subscribe yet, simply enter your email on the right-hand side  of this post so that my next blog will be delivered straight to your inbox.

I’ll also be posting photos on Instagram.  You can check out Iive instastories as I’ll be posting snippets of the results there first.

Has my hair grown at all?

In January 2017,  my hair was 45 cm (16 inches) long, and my hair growth goal was to reach bra strap length. I haven’t trimmed my hair in 6 months, which has been a bit tricky since trimming is highly recommended for avoiding single strand knots. However, I didn’t want to compromise my official length check and will be getting a trim at at Style Studio as well. The growth results will be shown in the video.

Looking back at where it all began:

I recently matched-up a photo taken before my transition (in 2012) with a newer photo shot in 2017,  and many people were stunned. They couldn’t believe how much has changed; even my posture was different. What do you think? Here’s that pic:

natural hair growth, robyn ruth thomas

I began my transition from chemically treated hair to my naturally puffy roots, just to see if I could cope with what my hair really looked like.

I’d never actually worn it in it’s natural state before transitioning, even when it was wet – it didn’t curl because of the Brazilian treatment that I had continually done.

This journey is phenomenal. The more I nurture and embrace my hair’s natural state, the more I feel that this journey is not only about hair. In changing my mind about my hair, I’ve changed my perception of myself and  improved my entire life in the process.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Please show some love by commenting below. Also chat to me during the week by connecting on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you. 

Rob x

Can a gluten free diet really improve my health?

gluten free be whole

If you ever feel bloated, tired or need to go to the loo after having a few slices of bread, you may be gluten intolerant.

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. You can’t tell whether there’s gluten in food by just looking at it. But if you scan the labels of sauces, salad dressings, cereals, breads, milkshakes, and pastas, you’ll see that many of them contain gluten. You may even find that some cosmetic products and supplements are made with gluten.

How a gluten free diet can affect your body

People who are sensitive to gluten but still consume it may suffer from diarrhea, tummy aches, and bloating. This happens because when they consume gluten, the lining of their stomachs become inflamed, which makes it difficult to digest food properly.

There’s been many studies on the benefits of gluten free diets. According to an article by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, adopting a gluten free, casein (dairy) free (GFCF) diet may improve the development of autistic patients.

The article notes that while the intervention improved the development of some autistic patients, a lot of research still needs to be done before this can be conclusive.

Cutting out gluten doesn’t mean saying goodbye to delicious food.

Here’s a list of some gluten free foods :

  • Fruit
  • Veg
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Soy
  • Teff
  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Legumes
  • nuts

I’ve been gluten free for a month now and my body is happy. After seeing a homeopath to help me clear my skin, I was advised that there was a much greater problem happening inside my body. It made a lot of sense when she explained that my acne was my body’s way of warning that something wasn’t working well internally.

Without realizing that I was sensitive to gluten, I satisfying munched on the freshest breads, saucy pastas, and those wonderfully seasoned salty cracks. My taste buds were in heaven but my digestive system was in turmoil. I had been maintaining a healthy diet for years to my mind, but my body wasn’t able to absorb all of the nutrients because every time I would consume gluten, I would damage my stomach lining.

I immediately stopped eating gluten based foods (I also don’t consume dairy) and haven’t have a breakout since.

Have you considered going gluten free or are already maintaining a gluten free diet? I’d love to know your thoughts. Drop me a comment in the section below 🙂

4 struggles that every kinky curly girl can relate to

kinky curly hair be whole

When I chatted to big-time hair blogger, Carly-Robyn about her hair journey, it turned out that I’d experienced the same problems that she’d faced after her big chop.

If you’re a kinky curly girl also working through a natural hair journey, read some of the points she listed below and let me know if you can relate?

“In 2016, I was invited to a natural hair event, where hair bloggers like Own By Femme and Fro Girl Ginny from the UK, shared their natural hair journeys.

I’d been planning to get a Brazilian treatment but decided to wait until after the event.

When my sister and I walked into the venue, I was basically the only woman in the room with pin straight hair and that was rather uncomfortable.

As the ladies began to share their stories, I felt a connection. I had to make a change. They spoke with such boldness and confidence about themselves and that made me realize that I no longer have to hide behind the straight hair or go by what society wants me to be. I could finally be myself and embrace the real me.”

Post Big-chop:

“Being natural for just over a year now, I wouldn’t change a thing because my journey has been nothing but rewarding. Not only has my hair journey changed how I look on the outside but more of what I feel on the inside.”

Can you relate to these four kinky curly girl struggles?

kinky curly hair be whole

1.     So much frizz

To combat frizz, Carly usually uses low-manipulation hairstyles like flexi rods that are only untied once they’re absolutely dry. Flexi rods will give beautiful bouncy curls without any frizz if you make sure that your hair is completely dry before removing the rods.

2.     Going through tons of products

Hands up if you use A LOT of product. Our hair needs moisture and we’re always on the lookout for better, more hydrating products.

To avoid being a product junkie, Carly and I both rely on product reviews from other kinky curly girls to determine what will work best for our hair. It’s best to try products yourself because your hair is unique but learning about what your hair’s needs, will help you narrow down the products.

3.     Struggling to maintain that day-one hair

This is literally the worst feeling if you’ve washed and styled your hair but you’re not going anywhere! Your hair always looks a little less bomb the following day.

Using a sleep cap when your hair is short, or a head scarf to pineapple your hair if it’s long are great ways to maintain definition and protect your hair from cotton’s drying effects when you’re sleeping.

4.     Sticking to a full maintenance routine

Sometimes your sleep cap slips off during the night or work deadlines cause you to miss that full wash-day routine that gets your curls popping. The best way to make sure that you’re always looking after your hair is to jot down your reasons for going natural as well as your hair goals. This will motivate you to keep up the routine even when you’re too tired to put on that satin head scarf.

Johannesburg based blogger; Carly Robyn from You Me Naturally has been busting out natural hair videos since 2015. She’s a fashion and natural hair blogger who recently started her own You Tube Channel. Follow Carly on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube  to watch her natural hair tutorials and product tips.


On learning to embrace your fro – Life as Leslin

leslin jones bewhole natural hair journey

When I met vlogger, Leslin Jones of Life as Leslin at a hair event in Cape Town, I  was naturally drawn to her flare for adventure.

She recently went skydiving and by the look of her photos, you can tell that the experience was exhilarating.

I’ve left a link for you to check out her skydiving experience at the the end of this post.

She says, “I love adventure and life! I love travel so much that I decided to travel the world for 10 years. Through my journey I’ve seen amazing places and met amazing people. I was also a dancer and that’s how I’d met Nelson Mandela.”

She stirs a whirl of inspiration for things that she’s truly passionate about, and natural hair is one of them.

She notes that her natural hair journey allowed her to discover the woman that she could be and to her mind, was supposed to be.

“I have never felt more beautiful and confident. Growing up, I’d look at other girls and wanted long, straight hair. I always wondered why my hair was so different – why I was so different.”

And then she started relaxing (chemically straightening) her hair. She said that she felt beautiful for a while until she’d have to fork out more money to relax her re-growth.

“When a colleague pointed out to me that my hair was falling out, I knew that I had to do something about my hair… It wasn’t healthy; it was breaking off, thinning, and not growing.

That’s when I decided that I’d had enough. Why was I doing this to my hair? For what? For who?” So she transitioned to her natural hair. It wasn’t a tough decision at all because she’d always been fascinated with curls. And now that she’s learned how to maintain her own hair, she’s determined to share her knowledge with or aspiring naturals. Take a look at her tips tips below:

Leslin Jones from Life as Leslin natural hair journey
Leslin Jones from Life as Leslin

Leslin’s Top 5 Tips for starting a natural hair journey:

1. Protect your hair

Get a satin bonnet, sleep cap, head wrap and/or satin pillow case. This will help to prevent breakage and tangling your hair.

2. Welcome more water

Invest in a water based moisturizer and eave-in conditioner (petroleum/mineral oil free). Water is the key ingredient to moisturized hair.

Start by applying a water-based moisturizer to wet hair. By the way, a good conditioner can do the job of a shampoo.

3. Know your oils

Your hair needs oil, just like your car. My favourites are,olive oil and coconut oil. These types of oils are great for dry hair, especially because it’s nourishing but doesn’t weigh the hair down.

4. Be patient with your process

The longer your curls get the more care they’ll need. Think washing, detangling, and then styling.

For your ideal look we’re talking patience and commitment. A lot of the time you only see the successful wash and go’s, braid outs and twist outs. What you don’t see is that in the beginning there will be more fails than successes, so patience is key.

Try not to manipulate your hair too much and stay away from heat. Have regular trims and keep your hair moisturized.

5. Develop a winning wash and go routine:

I co-wash (conditioner wash) once a week and use a sulphate free shampoo when needed. On shampoo days I use a scalp massager and then condition (using my wide tooth comb to detangle).

A wash day is never complete without a weekly deep conditioning treatment. My favourite treatment is Dr Miracles Deep Conditioner.

I always follow with a leave–in conditioner. My favourite is the Cantu Leave-in Conditioner. I then finish off the look by applying a curling cream and a light oil.

Did you find these tips useful? Drop us a comment in the section below to show Leslin some appreciation 🙂

Click here to watch Leslin’s skydiving experience and other natural hair, travel, and beauty endeavours from her blog, Life as Leslin. 

ByLungi’s 4C big chop story

Lungi was one of the first South African natural hair bloggers that I’d followed when I began my natural hair journey.

Like me, she’s a big DIYer. She enjoys creating blog and Youtube content; she loves getting dolled up, and making things from scratch.

She also recently gave birth to a baby girl.  I’ve included a link to her birth story at the end of this post if you’d like to watch it.

The journey to amazing 4c hair:

“I currently live in Durban,” she says. “Since discovering the world of healthy hair, I had always wanted to grow my natural hair but I didn’t know how to maintain it and ended up causing a lot of damage.

I also believed that 4c hair was hard to manage and that it was impossible to have soft natural hair. When I eventually went natural, I wanted to see the potential of my natural hair once it’s been cared for.”

4c hair by lungi be whole

She said that one of her biggest challenges was maintaining moisture in her hair. “No matter what I did, my hair always seemed dry.”

It took some time, but eventually with consistency, she was able to retain moisture. “Styling short natural hair was also a challenge for me, when I had a TWA [teeny weeny afro], I felt that I could only rock my hair in a few styles.

Products that work well for 4c hair

Lungi swears by the following products and the results are evident in her photos:

  • AfroBotanics Repairing and Strengthening Treatment: I use this as a protein treatment once a month. I love how it makes my hair feel strong without making it too hard.
  • Design Essentials Naturals Curl Stretching Cream: this is my go to for twist outs; it gives my hair definition, hold and moisture.
  • Garnier Ultimate Blends Conditioner Nourishing Repair: I love this product for detangling my hair, it does a great job.

    4c hair bylungi be whole

Two things to know if you have 4c hair and you want to go natural:

  1. Be patient with your hair.

Natural hair needs a lot of moisture especially 4c hair.

  1. Develop a simple hair regimen

Your hair regimen does not have to be complicated and long.

To see how 4c hair can be styled, head over to or search for @bylungi on all social media platforms. You can also watch her birth story, here.

Natural hair chat: Amanda Cooke from Cape Town Curly

Proudly Capetonian, dedicated to her family, and committed to helping others return their hair to its natural state, Amanda Cooke co-hosts the fast-growing Cape Town Naturally Facebook group, blogs at, and helps to organize natural hair events within the Mother City.

Her journey began in 2012, while doing her final relaxer.

Applying the chemicals to her hair, she recalls asking herself: why are you doing this Mandy? “The next day I walked through Cape Town station with my freshly relaxed hair and every. single. woman of colour looked exactly like me. I needed to break free. To know the true pattern of my hair. To accept myself for who I really was. And return to my natural roots for myself, and for my daughter’s benefit. It’s sad to think that at that time, I was pushing 40 with no clue as to what my natural curl pattern was.”

She transitioned for a year and then big chopped  on 4 December 2013.

I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

She remembers following a few international vlogs and blogs, but couldn’t find anyone local with whom she could relate, so she started her own blog, recording her  return to natural hair.

What you must know before you go natural:

“It’s a lifestyle change so do your research before taking the plunge,” Amanda says. “Talk to other naturals who have been on the journey for a while. It’s always good to turn to a curlfriend in times of need. And listen to your hair – you may think this is crazy but trust me, your hair is constantly telling you what it needs.”

Amanda’s top 4 hair products:

  1. Water – Water is one of the top two things that actually moisturize your hair (the other being glycerine).
  2. Aloe juice – assists with hair growth, alleviates itchy scalp and is a natural conditioner.
  3. Avocado oil – penetrates the hair and locks in moisture. It makes detangling hair relatively easy because it softens your hair making those nasty knots a breeze to work through.
  4. The Mandy Mix  – a recipe I concocted based on an old South African hair growth remedy. It helps with hair growth and all round hair health. (Ooh, we’ll have to pop over to her blog to find out what’s in it.)

Learning about Amanda’s story and the experiences of so many other women who’ve begun to embrace their hair, it’s clear that chopping off those treated ends is so much more than getting a new hairstyle or even gaining confidence, it’s breaking away from societal views that have boxed and stunted personal growth.

To find out when the next natural hair event will be hosted in Cape Town, or simply to admire Amanda’s beautiful mane,  visit or @capetowncurly on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

How to make overnight oats in a jar

I eat oats for for breakfast everyday of the week. Sometimes I’ll skip having oats over a weekend because I’m either away from home or going for breakfast. But this really is my favourite breakfast recipe. It’s filling but doesn’t make you feel sluggish, it’s nutritious, and best of all, easy to make.

I usually prepare my oats in a glass jar since it’s the safest container to use today. Plastic containers, especially those that don’t have the BPA free label on it, contain chemicals that transfer to your food when you’re heating food in the container or the plastic begins to wear. has an in-depth article on glass versus plastic – if you’re interested in finding out more about that, click here.

I also prepare (at most) three jars of overnight oats on a Sunday night to make sure that I have breakfast for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Wednesday’s jar is always the tastiest.

Meal planning for breakfast saves me a lot of time and money because I’ve had to calculate exactly how much ingredients I need and once I’ve made the oats on Sunday and Wednesday night, I can just hop over to the fridge to enjoy my already-set creamy oats.

You’ll definitely enjoy this if you’re on a tight schedule and don’t want to have to worry about what you should have for breakfast.

overnight oats


1 cup rolled oats

1 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 banana

1 cup almond milk

Preparation time: five minute 🙂

Optional (add):

a pinch of salt

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Pour all the dry ingredients into a glass jar or container of your choice. Add the container lid and shake to mix the contents.
  2. Remove the lid to add milk. I use almond milk because of my dairy-free diet but you can use any milk or water since almond milk is actually only 25% almonds, and 75% milk.
  3. Once you’ve added the milk, seal to make sure that all your dry ingredients have been coated with milk and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Enjoy in the morning!

That’s it. Quick and easy. I never get tired of this breakfast recipe because there are so many different ways to make it.


Try to get rolled oats and not instant oats because the texture of the oats is quite different. Rolled oats are the larger white flakes that take a while to lose it’s crunch.

Also, this is my go-to recipe but you can add any of your favourite fruit, seeds, or milk.

I’ve love to know if you’ve tried this recipe or already prepare your own overnight oats. Drop my a comment in the section below and let’s connect on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.

VIDEO: Super defined curls – my wash and go routine

define curls - bewhole

Before sharing the method I use to define my curls, I want to stress the importance of understanding that each of our hair types are different.

Some of us don’t have curly hair. The goal of a natural hair journey should be to embrace your hair in its natural state – not obsess about getting your hair to form a certain type of curl.

With that said, if you’ve recently begun your natural hair journey or find that your hair has curls when it’s wet but is frizzy once it’s dry, this video will be quite helpful.

There are many ways to enjoy wearing your natural hair and a wash-and-go is one of the most popular styling methods. I’ve put together a quick tutorial to help you achieve super defined curls:

For this style, I used my old-faithful, DIY flaxseed hair gel for curl definition and hold, but made sure that my hair was clean and hydrated before applying any products.

I start off on freshly washed hair. I allow my hair to partially air dry to retain length because if I apply product to wet hair, my hair takes forever to dry and shrinks quite a lot.

My hair has grown quite quickly by simply applying the methods that I’d mentioned in my hair growth challenge post. I’m excited to see how long my hair will grow within the next three months (when the challenge ends in June.

Step 1

Once my hair is 70% dry, I apply a leave-in moisturiser. For this tutorial I decide to use the My Natural Hair leave-in moisturiser. I quite liked the results of my twist-out after using this product so I was eager to see whether my wash-and-go would be super defined as well. It was.

Step 2

After applying a leave-in moisturiser, I usually apply an oil to seal in the moisture. This time I’ve used the My Natural Hair strengthening oil instead of my go-to (olive oil) since the strengthening oil contains a mixture of several nutrient-rich oils such as grape seed oil, almond oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.

I apply each product starting at the ends and then working the product through my hair from the root. The ends of my hair are the oldest which means that it needs the most moisture and care.

Step 3

Finally, I apply my DIY flaxseed hair gel liberally to eight sections of hair. I apply the product to my ends, work the product through my hair from the roots and ensure that my strands are fully coated by clasping my hands through my hair from roots to ends.

Once I’m satisfied with the results of applying my gel, I allow my hair to air dry or use a hairdryer on cool or medium heat to make sure that I’m not leaving home with wet hair.

If you liked this video, share the link with someone you know would enjoy watching a natural hair video. And let’s keep in touch on social media. Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you.