7 ways to retain moisture and shine in natural hair

I am really in love with my hair right now. If you’ve been following my natural hair journey, you’ll know that I’ve come a long way from being conditioned to hate my hair (and holding hundreds of scarfs and beanies captive) to now flaunting my thick, puffy curls.

One year, while working at a student magazine, our editorial team managed a photo shoot for Jeannie D. We were preparing her for hair and makeup when she’d said to Angie – the hair stylist, “honey, the bigger the hair, the closer to God.” Now, embracing my naturally thick hair, I swear by that quote.

One tiny problem, this puff is high maintenance. It’s not just a matter of get-up-and-go when creating the bed-head style, especially when you’re working with a hair texture that is naturally dry and fragile.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve learned to manage my hair, ensuring that it maintains a super defined curl and healthy shine. Take a look at how you can do the same with these 7 tips below:

Research your hair type
Most people have more than one hair type. Let me know what your hair type is the comment section.
Most people have more than one hair type. Let me know what your hair type is the comment section.

The last thing I want to do is to reinforce more labels to your hair but It’s helpful to know what your natural hair type is so that you can find suitable products and hair care styles. According to the Andre Walker hair typing system, I have a mixture of type 3C and 4A hair. With this information, I can determine which parts of my hair need more product moisture, and which parts don’t. Find out what your hair type is, here:

Stop combing your hair

No joke. There’s no need for a comb unless you’re using a wide-tooth afro comb to create volume. I prefer to finger detangle my hair. This reduces breakage, frizz, and promotes curl definition.

Find out which products work for you

There is a coconut oil craze for all hair types right now but unfortunately, it doesn’t do much for my hair. However, extra virgin olive oil works wonders for me. There are also certain gels that are too harsh for my hair and cause breakage while other women swear by it. Test a range of products to see what works best for your own hair as your hair texture may not receive products in the same way as someone else.

In the past, I’d wasted so much money on curl creams and conditioners, and now have a cupboard full of half-used products.  When you’re trying a new product, wait at least a month to see results.

My go-to hair products are:
  • Lush American Cream Conditioner
  • Lush Curly Wurly Shampoo
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • Perfect Touch alcohol-free gel (Dischem Pharmacy)
Get a satin sleep cap

The Satin Sleep Cap (which you can find at selected Clicks stores) has been such a game-changer for me. I wear it to bed at night or even when I’m lounging around the house with my head rested. Cotton strips your hair and even your skin of moisture and can cause dehydration and breakage. If I really need to dry my hair, I will usually use an old t-shirt instead of a towel or dry my hair with a diffuser nozzle on medium to low heat.

Use sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner to wash your hair

Any products with sulphate components are harmful, even toothpaste – that’s why you’re not supposed to swallow the toothpaste. I prefer to co-wash my hair using my go-to conditioner rather than shampoo, and this really does clean my hair. People with normal to oily hair should not co-wash.

Protective style as much as possible

Thank the heavens for braids. When I’m having a busy month or travelling, I love having my hair braided or twisted into chunky Havana twist braids (also known as Marley braids). Chunky braids aren’t too tight or damaging to the hair. They don’t last as long as the three-strand braid or small strand braids but I personally prefer this style.

Trim your hair often

Pay special attention to the ends of your hair as this is your oldest hair. Once your ends begin to look dry and dull, it is better to consider having it trimmed to avoid higher split ends or worse, having your hair break off. I dread having my hair cut and I usually avoid having to trim for as long as possible but I get it done eventually.

Do you know of any other ways to retain moisture and shine in natural hair? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment in the comment section below or connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook 

Feature photo/ Donna- Lee Dekock



DIY hair gel that promotes moisture and shine

This do-it-yourself flaxseed hair gel is easy to make, easy to use, all natural, and really good for your hair.

Sound too good to be true? That’s exactly what I thought until I tried the recipe which I discovered on Youtube via Naptural 85. She’s my go-to Youtube personality when it comes to sourcing tips and tricks on how to maintain my thick, natural afro hair. Check out her channel, here.

I love my hair. This kind of statement doesn’t come easily from a woman with ‘kinky’ hair or hardly any woman in this day and age for that matter. The world is so conditioned on perceptions of what is deemed beautiful that we forget we are the world create those perceptions ourselves. You’re beautiful if you think you are. It’s as simple as that.

Back to the gel recipe – made with only two ingredients. The first is flaxseed or linseed as we call it in South Africa, and the second is water. You can add an optional third ingredient like an essential oil (I usually add 1 tbsp. of olive oil) but for first-time *DIYers, it’s not necessary.

What you will need:

  • 4 tbsp. Flaxseeds/ 3tbsp. flaxseed powder
  • 3 cups of cold water
  • Spoon for stirring
  • 1 small cooking pot
  • 1 sealable container
  • 1 stocking (that you’re not planning to reuse)
  • Scissors
  • A heat source (stove)
How using flaxseed gel will benefit your hair

I’ve been using flaxseed gel for months and personally prefer it because my hair has never had such a healthy shine in its natural state before. My hair texture is softer and doesn’t break off as easily as it used to. Previously, I used Revlon‘s alcohol-free gel to style my wash-and-go and stocked up since I would use two tubes of gel per month; now I swear by Flaxseed gel. If anyone wants to buy some Revlon gel from me, please feel free to email me. Even the alcohol-free gel was drying my hair.

Flaxseed offers quite a few health benefits and not surprisingly so since the 3 major components of this seed includes Omega-3 essential fatty acids, Lignans, and fiber.  There are also different ways to consume its nutrients; sometimes I will have flaxseed powder and yoghurt for breakfast as a cereal. Take a look at Tips for Flaxseed, here.

Hair gel

If sealed and refrigerated, the flaxseed gel lasts for up to three weeks. The only drawback of using this gel is that it goes off quickly since it’s a natural product. Other than that, it rarely flakes, it’s really cost-effective, and helps to give my curls optimal definition.

Would you like me to share more hair tips? Chat to me in the comment section below or email me directly to robyn@bewhole.co.za. I’d love to hear from you.

Related: Excited to announce my collaboration with beauty bulletin


Excited to announce my collaboration with Beauty Bulletin

Here’s to all the women who’d admire another woman from across the room, wondering which hair products she uses, how she gets her skin looking so smooth, or how much time it took her to perfect that look…

I am happy to announce my collaboration with Beauty Bulletin, South Africa’s largest beauty community and review club. I’ve always had an interest in beauty culture, and given that I’d spent a couple of years working as a beauty consultant during varsity, I know a thing or two about the industry. Sharing reviews on products comes easily. It’s a great cue for conversation and exciting when you’re sharing useful information. I love Beauty Bulletin’s concept of creating a large community of real women who embrace that they’re all equally beautiful and distinctly different.

Is this you?

I walk into public bathrooms and often smile at the ladies beside me – who are touching-up mascara, re-applying gloss, neatening stray hairs, or other small things that we go to the bathroom for, other than to pee. If I discover something beautiful about another woman, even if I’m standing in a shopping aisle, I won’t hesitate to compliment her. I’ve learned some of the most helpful beauty and hair tips from other women in public bathrooms and shopping aisles, and in the comment sections of blog posts, not in magazines, and much less from TV. Real women who don’t have on-hand make-up teams and in-house hair stylists, taught me tips and tricks just because they’re also women, and like me, they felt compelled to share something that could be useful for interest’s sake and self-esteem.

Tell me if you agree

There’s a desperate need for women in South Africa to break away from warped ideas of what it means to be beautiful. The latest Dove Real Beauty Survey conducted for South African women in 2013, showed that 45% of women agreed that their greatest beauty pressures came from themselves. Do you do it too? A lot of the time, when I become overly conscious about something like my hair not being in place or my face looking shiny, everyone else hadn’t even noticed until I’d brought it up.

“But how does it look? Are you sure?” “Yes. You look amazing”. – *Friends

Beauty emanates from a woman who feels it. As long as you feel beautiful, you are. This was validated for me when Clarins USA recently featured an Instagram photo of me, taken by photographer, Tony Maake. It wasn’t anything extravagant. My make-up was quite basic and I’d let my fluffy hair out of its usual, tight bun. I felt a little apprehensive during the photo shoot because, well, I’m not a model and I didn’t rehearse any kind of pose. Days after the shoot, when I saw the photo, I thought, “God, that’s actually me. No front.” And I love it so much that I’d asked Beauty Bulletin to update my existing photo to the one below:

Related: The Truth About Going Natural

#fangram: @bewhole_ wears Clarins, makes us feel both jealousy and excitement… ❤️? #ShowUsYourClarins

A photo posted by CLARINS (@clarinsnews) on

Visit wwww.beautybulletin.com to read and/or view exciting beauty reviews by South African women. You may spot a familiar face 🙂

You may also want to read:

Have a question or a comment? Leave a reply in the comment section below. Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or email me directly to robyn@bewhole.co.za. I’d love to hear from you. 

The Truth About Going Natural

If you thought that straightening treatments and perms are high maintenance, wait until you go natural. If you have 1A to 3C hair (you can check your own hair type, here), a natural hair transition may be a walk in the park for you, but women with 3B to 4C hair have their work cut out.

This has truly been one of the most difficult challenges that I’ve ever faced with my appearance. I’ve written about my natural hair complex, growing up with the perception that only straight hair can be beautiful (read about it here). But now that I’m finally comfortable stepping out with an afro, I’m more myself than ever. I feel as if there’s been so much unnecessary time and money wasted to present myself in a way that was not meant to be in the first place. I mean, I like the sleek haired look, but I love big hair even more now.

My transitioning hair – curly roots and straight ends.

It’s been over a year since my last Keratin straightening treatment; I last blow-dried my hair two months ago for a length check and I’ve been wearing Havana twist braids for about four weeks now. Once these braids come out, it’s back to the drawing board with managing my own hair. It’s been a very liberating process, which is what every other natural hair transitioning woman will tell you. I’m loving the growth process and finding comfort with the hair that I was born with. And I’m not even all natural yet – my ends are chemically treated, and I haven’t cut it away because I am attached to my length. Brazilian (Keratin) treatments gradually wash out, so I am hoping that I won’t have to chop much off and simply get regular trims.

I’ve researched other people’s natural hair journeys before embarking on my own. Most women talk about how liberating the process is but they rarely go into depth about how much hard work it can be. So I thought that I would shed some light on things you’d need to consider before going natural:

Are you doing it for the right reasons?
The natural hair journey is trending in the Western World, while most African women are still hiding behind weaves and braids. I say hiding, not because we’re ashamed of our hair, but because braids and weaves just seem like the neater, more presentable alternative. Afros are quite eye catching and it always seems as if the woman wearing one is trying make a statement, or that she is a bit of a diva. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had my hair straightened. I’d reached the point where I thought, “I already know what I look like with straight hair, why not see if my natural hair would suit me.” I’d revert to straightening my hair if I didn’t like the way it looks. Thus far, I’m not giving up on my hair texture, and neither are my friends and family. They’re all supportive.

Know your hair type
This is really important. Before going natural I didn’t know anything about hair types and co-washing, which is washing without shampoo. I assumed that my hair would turn out like one of the other girls’ in those YouTube videos but it isn’t. From what I can tell, I have type 4 hair. There are different ways to manage different hair types for instance, type 4 hair is the driest of all hair textures due to the coils being so tight. The moisture from your roots don’t gets to the ends fast enough to hydrate it, so it’s important to moisturise all the time, twice a day if need be. Women with 3A hair which looks like soft curls, may not need such intense moisture treatments.

Don’t become a product junkie
In the first two months of my hair transition, I bought different hair products at least once a week – anything that looked like it would be curl enhancing, sulphate free, hydrating and had a good holding duration. I’d spent so much money on products that I don’t think I’ll ever use again. There was one product called the Curl Enhancing Smoothie by Shea Moisture that I really liked, which I bought in the UK, and just my luck, it’s not readily available here in Cape Town. I’m looking into buying it online, otherwise I mostly inexpensive DIY products like Flaxseed gel, coconut oil treatments, and honey hydrating masks. They’re amazing! If you’d like me to share my DIY recipes, please leave a comment below.

The wash-and-go isn’t really wash-and-go
There are hundreds of YouTube tutorials on how to perfect a wash-and-go. And what all of them have in common is that it takes at least 20 minutes to an hour to get the right look. Natural hair must be washed, rinsed, detangled carefully, rinsed again, hydrated, styled with a gel, and then air-dried or blow-dried with a diffuser nozzle. One does not simply wet your hair and go. If you want to go natural because you love the wash-and-go look, know that it’s not going to take you five minutes if you do it properly.

Natural, Donna Lee De Kock and I (transitioning) at a birthday party.
Natural, Donna Lee De Kock and I at a birthday party.

Since I still have chemically treated ends, I use the Bantu Knot method to give me that wash-and-go look. I follow the same process that I mentioned above, and then simply separate my hair into small sections to form tiny knots. Once my hair is dry, I untie the knots, and carefully tease/pick at my roots. The Bantu knot method ensures that my straight ends look curly and that my hair looks like it’s one hair type. Watch this video by Alyssa Forever, on how to do Bantu knots, here. If you’d like me to post a step-by-step video tutorial of my own wash-and-go process, please feel free to post a comment in the space below.

Research protective styles
My go-to hairstyle is chunky Havana twist braids – in box shapes. Once you step into transitioning hair life, you’ll learn about easy style tips like Bantu knots, flat twists, wigs, braids and sleeping on silk pillows to protect your hair. I’m not really into wigs and I don’t sleep on a silk pillow but I take special care when washing and drying my hair. I don’t use a towel anymore – I use a cotton t-shirt that causes less friction and damage to my hair.

Chunky Havana twist braids. Photo/ Ashley Craig Brandt
Chunky Havana twist braids. Photo/ Ashley Craig Brandt

Do you have any questions or comments related to my natural hair journey? I’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment in the section below.

Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or email me directly to robyn@bewhole.co.za

5 ways to maintain twist braids.

If you’ve been looking for a manageable solution to avoid heat damage, Twist braids are one of your best options.

I’ve received lots of questions about how and where I get my twist braids done. They’re low maintenance, affordable, and requires NO HEAT. Can I get an amen? Here are five easy ways to maintain twist braids:

1. Dedicing on the size of your braids:
Size matters. They say, “the bigger the hair, the closer to God.”

But two things will determine the size of your twists:

A) How long you want to keep them, and
B) The length of your hair.

Be careful not to have your braids twisted too thick as large-sized twists tend to unravel faster. The shorter your hair is, the easier it will be for fibre to slip from your hair, so ensure that you have finer twists installed to compliment the length of your hair. A good way to determine how long you can extend your braids to, would be to measure the length of your own hair, and not to extend to further than double that length. Your stylist should be able to direct you to a suitable size of braid if you’re still not sure.

2. Where to get your braids done:
Depending on your desired length, braids can cost anywhere from R300 to R1500. And there are tons of specialised salons in the country. I usually go to a salon in Claremont that doesn’t exactly have interior design appeal, but the hair stylists are top-notch. If you’d like me to recommend a stylist, feel free to post your email address in the comment section below.

I love having my Havana twist braids done professionally but it’s pretty easy to do them yourself, once you get the hang of it. Watch DIY HAVANA TWISTS for Beginners (Step-by-Step) for a quick tutorial on how you can twist your own braids.

3. Washing and drying:
I swore that I would never be one of those women tapping at her braided head because it’s itching. And thankfully I’m not.
The itching sensation usually occurs when your braids have been twisted tightly or when your scalp is dry.
I use an affordable Dreadlock shampoo and conditioning spray from Clicks which leaves my braids feeling soft, clean, and smelling fresh. I shampoo once a week and condition as much as possible. It seems like a difficult task to be washing twist braids but it’s pretty simple once you know how. I wash them while I’m in the shower, using a parting method (of four), similar to the one you’ll find in this youtube video.

Try not to use a towel when drying your hair, to avoid frizz. Use a damp cotton T-shirt instead, or sun dry at best.

4. Sleeping with twist braids:
Wear a silk scarf to bed to avoid the unravelling of your twists during the night. Clicks conveniently also sells silk scarves and pillows, but you can also use the leg of an old pair of stockings aka a swirlkous.

5. Play with different hairstyles:
Twists are pretty on their own but they can become a bit boring to wear if you’re the kind who likes to switch up hairstyles. Google is your best friend at this point – there are so many Youtube tutorials on how to style every type of braids ever created. For starters, if you go to therighthairstyles.com, you’ll find 50 Exquisite Box Braids Hairstyles To Do Yourself, among other cool hairstyling tips.

For more questions, tips, or suggestions on how to maintain twist braids, please leave a comment in space below, or email me directly by clicking on the contact tab.

Cover photo by Sive Nyanda for Jeo photography.

I went out with my natural hair and nothing happened

After mustering up the balls to step outside with my hair not blow-dried or flat-ironed, I thought that I was going to feel really ugly and uncomfortable, or worse, people were going to imply that my hair is ugly and make me feel uncomfortable.

This is a really big thing for me. I felt emotional when a friend told me that she loves my sun-dried hair because I never thought anyone would. I’d been having my hair straightened since my first memories and that’s no exaggeration. At school, if you had straight hair, you were absolutely beautiful, and that’s pretty much the consensus within my family as well.

So, I’ve decided that I want to do the ‘Big Chop’ as soon as spring arrives (September 2014). It may seem a bit radical to chop my hair off but I think that I need to be smacked with the realization that my beauty doesn’t lie in my hair. And this will also be a way for me to grow the hair that was given to me.
I’m interested to know your thoughts so feel free to post a comment of whether or not you’re in support of my big chop.

Last night, friends and I went to a restaurant. A tall buff-looking guy walks in to sit at the table behind us. Not too long after, a friend leans in to whisper that this guy had been staring at me for some time while waiting to be seated. I shrugged and gave a little sigh because to my mind, who would actually find me attractive with this big hair. Our meals arrive; more friends join; we have some wine; squeeze in dessert, and then leave for some living room dancing and sing-alongs. Later that night, before going to bed, I checked my phone and saw that the same guy, who was sitting at the table behind me, had managed to find my Instagram profile and liked several of my photos. Super creepy! l was stunned, to say the least. Here I am, in the dead of winter, sporting a natural hairdo (resembling a lion’s mane), and this guy thinks I’m hot. Never mind the great lengths he went to, to show it…

This is what I look like with sleek hair:







And this is me with natural Bantu knot hair:






Major difference right? I am so ready to let go of the straight-hair-is-beautiful hype. I mean, of course straight hair is beautiful but curly and wavy hair can be just as lovely. This is a way for me to accept myself as I am, and to become who I want to be. If I decide somewhere along the line, that sleek hair suits me better, I will probably revert. I just need to be sure that my image represents my brand – the person I aspire to be, and not a copy of what is socially acceptable around me.