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 capetowncurly.com, 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 www.capetowncurly.com or @capetowncurly on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

How to choose natural hair products that work for you

Finding the right natural hair products is a top priority of any natural.

It can also be the most frustrating and expensive process, since there are so many options available on the market today.

Here are some quick tips to choosing the right natural hair products, the first time:

Know that expensive doesn’t always mean quality

When I began my natural hair journey, I’d spent my first year just testing products. I bought every sulphate-free shampoo on the market, and experimented with several conditioners, hair butters, and gels. By the end of 2014, I’d accumulated a cupboard full of half-used products that didn’t work for my hair, and was just wasting away.

Let’s try to avoid you having to go through the same process.

Find out what your hair type is

  1. Straight
  2. Wavy (2a, 2b, 2c)
  3.  Curly (3a, 3b, 3c)
  4. Kinky (4a, 4b, 4c)
natural hair type natural hair products be whole
Chart by hair.knowfacts.org

If you don’t know what your hair type is, you can take this quick quiz by Blacknaps.org: Know your hair type

Learning the name of your hair texture is helpful to determine which products will suit you. Chances are that you will have more than one hair type. I have two – tight, thirsty 4a curls in the front, and looser 3a curls throughout the rest of my head.

Use products according to your styling method

You get out what you put in. If you wash your hair more than twice a week, you’ll need to replenish your hair with a moisturizer as frequently.  If you’re using a gel that isn’t made from organic products, ensure that you pay special attention to hydrating your hair. Low-manipulation hair styles like twist-outs and braid-outs are great ways to wear your hair untied but still retain moisture.

Read the labels on your products

It makes sense to choose a rich hair butter for thick, dry hair, or a light leave-in conditioner for curls that already retain a lot of moisture. Stay away from alcohol-based products. Choose gentle, clarifying shampoos, and pop into the food isle for some DIY moisturizers that may surprise you (olive oil is my go-to).

Don’t just buy products that other naturals are using

Your hair type is unique. I can recommended 1000 products that work perfectly for my hair but they may not give you the same results if your hair texture is different to mine.

Which products are you using for your hair type? I’d love to hear from you. Perhaps something you’ve been using is the product that’s lacking in my routine. Let me know below 🙂

FAQs:

What is my hair type?

3c, 4a

natural hair - robyn ruth thomas - be whole
Photo/ Luc Haupt

Which products do I use?

  • Shampoo:

Lush Curly Wurly Shampoo/ Dark and Lovely Moisture Replenishing Shampoo

  • Conditioner:

Tresemme Moisture Rich Conditioner/ Dark and Lovely Knot-out Conditioner/ Lush American Cream Conditioner

  • Mask:

Pantene Pro-V Intensive Hair Masque (Daily Moisture Renewal) /DIY honey and Olive oil mask

  • Leave-in Conditioner:

Dr. Miracles Leave-in

  • Daily Moisturiser:

Olive Oil (I swear by it. Also use as a daily moisturiser on my hair, body and face. It absorbs really well and leaves my skin glowing.

  • Styler:

For wash-and-go:  My DIY Flaxseed gel/ Perfect Touch Alcohol free gel (available at selected Dischem Pharmacies)

For Twist-outs, braid-outs, up styles: Dark and Lovely Afro Moisturising Butter, Cantu Curling Cream/ Auntie Jackie’s Curl Custard

Do you have natural hair and would like to retain length? I’m starting a hair growth challenge and would love you to join me. Leave me a comment in the space below for more information about my hair growth methods.

Feature photo/ Clay Simelane

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

 

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:

sleek_hair

 

 

 

 

 

And this is me with natural Bantu knot hair:

natural_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.