How I learnt how to style, and what my experience has been like?
I think styling is very texture dependent. The first time I went natural I had very healthy hair. I would do very easy washes, mostly because I didn’t know a lot about managing natural hair. I used kitchen-based products such as; olive oil to oil my hair and do bantu knots. I honestly never used to research a lot about natural hair but I would see a few things online every now and then. I felt really disconnected from a lot of naturalistas at the time, because I didn’t think my hair would ever do what theirs did. So, I stuck to bantu knots. For a while, I would do the pineapple puffs, it was really just to ensure that I kept the stretch longer since I was really crazy about that the first time I cut my hair. It was also the pressure of being “neat”, because Ugandans are so obsessed with “neatness”, and so, if your hair is not combed out then you are looked at as a ‘rebel’.
However, two years ago, I cut my hair when I came back to Kampala because I had significantly damaged my hair through the application of colour. I have always wanted to color my hair but because I was not open to bleaching it first, my several attempts at coloring it ended with me having very weak browning strands. So, I relaxed it for a few weeks before cutting it since cutting my hair was my intention anyway.
I started styling it with a lot of short haircuts, plenty of gelling (really sleek back hair styles). Since I have a round head, I think that short hair looks good on me or perhaps I’m simply comfortable with it. After I had cut my hair off completely around August 2017, I started being more intentional about styling especially. I learnt through several communities online about how to maintain my hair. I also found that my edges were suffering because I continually tagged at them, or held my hair back too tight. So, I am trying to limit the strain on my edges and how often I tag at my hair.
As it grows longer, I have come to realise that it takes a lot more time to dry completely. It is only when it is in that state that I will be able to have proper curl definition and so after wash day, I will wear twists/ bantu knots for a few days before I take them out for styling. I love plaiting the flat twists towards the edges because then there is less strain.
I use my leave in conditioner from Kentaro cosmetics which I mix with water as I style. I also use a growth oil from the same brand. Finally, the Auntie Jackie’s curl defining custard really helps to hold the curls for a while once I have unplaited the bantu knots or twists.
I recently got twists done by Uzuri Curls spa and these usually take a month before taking them out. Sometimes, I will browse the internet for hairstyles I like, then identify a salon that can achieve the style. I found that some people have thick hair, so some styles may work for them but may not work for other people.
Just like many naturalistas, I spend hours watching videos online and looking for oils that work for me. Many times, we try to impose oils onto our hair. For example; people praise the miracle works of coconut oil and unfortunately some people’s scalps are allergic to coconut oil and in more severe cases hair might be lost. I personally do not use coconut oil because of my history with eczema, so those with eczema, coconut oil is not recommended.
For some naturalistas, styling can be about getting curl definition while others prefer straight looking hair. I think it is also influenced by your job. In the cooperate world, there are some boundaries you can’t cross when it comes to hair styling. They tend to be a strict and intentional about ‘decency’. I am more of a creative, so I would say I have a bit more leeway, although there are still people who make comments like “HAHAHA, OH GUYS, CAROL NEEDS A COMB”. I don’t use combs, I mostly use my fingers.
*Remember, you are marked by flawless craftsmanship*
Meet the Author
Carol Kagezi is a writer, broadcaster and editor. She currently works at Sooo Many Stories as an editorial assistant and as a presenter at a Christian radio station in Kampala, Uganda. She is passionate about God, people achieving their fullest potential by falling in love with themselves. She advocates for a lot of that. Carol is crazy about people loving themselves for who the creator made us to be.