NATURAL HAIR AROUND THE WORLD

My black is beautiful. Her black is beautiful too. If you know me personally, you know that I love black beauty in its various forms. I appreciate displays of melanin-deficient beauty as well, but in this post my aim is to highlight what has been overlooked globally for far too long: afro-textured natural hair. Thankfully in the past decade or so there has been a resurgence of ladies, from the caramel to the copper to the blue-black skin toned woman, wearing their hair in its natural afro-textured state.

Throughout my time in France and short trip to Nigeria I met dynamic, intelligent Black women from all over the world who had all chosen to wear their hair naturally. I had the privilege of chatting with a few (in February and March 2015), and thought I would share their stories with you all. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


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What is your name?

Viviane

What is your nationality/background?

I am a dual French and Nigerian citizen. I spent a majority of my life in France and England.

Your residence (at the time of this interview)?

I currently work in Lagos, Nigeria.

How long have you been natural?

I have been natural since August 2014.

What was your inspiration and/or reason for going natural?

After seeing beautiful low-cuts, such as those worn by a few characters in Sister Act 2, I decided I wanted to follow suit. My hair had been recently damaged due to bleaching and I wanted a fresh start.

Tell me a bit about your natural hair journey.

My elder brother completely shaved my hair for me. I had originally wanted to relax my hair after it grew out a bit, but I ended up liking it natural, so I decided to remain chemical-free. I have grown into loving my hair, and I have enjoyed learning how to do low maintenance styles.

Do you have any favorite or “go-to” styles?

I like to wear my hair in an afro. I have also done kinky twists and really liked finger coils.

Any favorite hair products?

I like to use olive oil and castor oil on my hair. I have also used the Dr. Miracle leave-in conditioner and the Mizani conditioning hair dress.

Some people try to attain a certain length. Others just want healthy hair. Do you have any natural hair goals?

My goal is really just to enjoy my hair the way I was naturally blessed with it. I like it healthy and free from trauma!

Are there any natural hair icons that you follow?

No particular icon, I don’t really look into it. A natural style on anyone can inspire me.

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What is your name?

Anastasia

What is your nationality/background?

I am Trinidadian, born and raised.

Your residence (at the time of this interview)?

I currently work in Montpellier, France.

How long have you been natural?

My last relaxer was in September 2014 and I had 2 big chops, the first was done by Chineme in early April after about 7 months, and I loved it. Then a couple weeks later, someone told me I should cut it in a “style” and I got half of it chopped off by a barber in France and I bawled my eyes out. 😥

What was your inspiration and/or reason for going natural?

I had been considering going natural for a couple years actually but too afraid to do it. After arriving in France, I started seeing relaxed hair as an imitation of Caucasian hair and I wanted to discover my own unique natural hair texture.

Tell me a bit about your natural hair journey.

I started off by doing a lot of research about natural hair, and I also had some friends who were embarking on the same journey. I stood strong against the “creamy crack”, but at the six-week benchmark following my last relaxer, my hair started to become difficult to comb. So I had a friend put in box braids for me, which I kept for two months. Once I took my braids out, I was unsure of what to do with my hair next. One of my friends helped me decide to cut off all my relaxed hair. I started by cutting off both sides, but then I got cold feet. This was an emotional time for me as a lot was going on in my life. In the end, another friend came to my house to cut off my relaxed hair. I felt so happy, liberated, and beautiful after my big chop. I sent pictures to my friends, and their responses were varied. Some said they were proud of me, others thought I was crazy, and there were those who really liked it. There are still highs and lows when it comes to my hair. I enjoy buying products and trying them out. In the end, I’ve learned that hair is just hair. Different doesn’t mean bad, just unique. I’m beautiful no matter what length my hair is.

Do you have any favorite or “go-to” styles?

I usually just rock a wash and go. I also like to do a braided hair band when I sport my TWA (tiny weeny afro). Box braids are a style I wear from time to time. I tried finger coils…maybe one day I will have the patience to do it again. 🙂

Any favorite hair products?

There’s a product called Pro-Line Comb-Thru Softener that a lot of us Caribbean naturals swear by, it’s affordable and it really works. I also like Aunt Jackie’s Curl la la, it smells amazing and really defines my curls.

Some people try to attain a certain length. Others just want healthy hair. Do you have any natural hair goals?

I want to grow my hair as long as possible and maybe even eventually get dreads.

Are there any natural hair icons that you follow?

IG girls are my inspiration! I follow quite a bit of them: Loana Novaes, Miccheckk12, Paula Almeida, and Taz’s Angel AB. Celebrities with gorgeous natural hair are Janelle Monaé, Lauryn Hill, and Erika Badu.

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What is your name?

Bianca

What is your nationality/background?

I am South African, born and raised.

Your residence (at the time of this interview)?

I currently work in Montpellier, France.

How long have you been natural?

My last relaxer was in 2007 (I can’t remember the month).

What was your inspiration and/or reason for going natural?

I wanted to learn how to take care of my hair. The last time I relaxed my hair, I got burns and scars, so I refused to do it again. I enjoyed my curls, but started getting Brazilian keratin treatments.

Tell me a bit about your natural hair journey.

In September 2014, I got a Brazilian keratin treatment at a different salon, and my hair did not revert back. I started getting new growth, which contrasted with my thin ends. I cut off my straightened ends in January 2015. This was a big deal for me, because I never had hair this short before. I was pleasantly surprised, but of course I had to get used to my short hair. There are still days of confusion where I feel that I look like a man. Lol. Overall, I’m happy with my decision. I wanted to cut my hair to challenge beauty perceptions and show that in the end it’s only hair.

Do you have any favorite or “go-to” styles?

I like my long fro, and when I was younger I liked to wear my hair in plaits. Now I rock a TWA.

Any favorite hair products?

I use water and the Au Naturale anti-shrikage curl defining crème glaze.

Some people try to attain a certain length? Others just want healthy hair. Do you have any natural hair goals?

I’m enjoying my short hair and will probably let it grow out.

Are there any natural hair icons that you follow?

No.

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**The following interview was conducted in French, so I’ve decided to include both the English and the French version.

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What is your name? / Comment tu t’appelles?

Manuéla

What is your nationality/background? / C’est quoi ta nationalité? 

I’m Gabonese.

Je suis gabonaise.

Your residence (at the time of this interview)? / Tu habites où?

I’m a Master’s student in Montpellier.

Je suis à Montpellier pour mes études.

How long have you been natural? / Combien du temps as-tu tes cheveux naturels?

My last relaxer was in November 2012, and I did the big chop in May 2013.

J’ai fait mon dernier défrisage en novembre 2012 et on m’a coupée tous les cheveux en mai 2013.

What was your inspiration and/or reason for going natural? / Pour quoi as-tu decidé de laisser pousser tes cheveux naturels?

In Gabon, I wanted to cut my hair for a long time, but I was hesitant because I was insecure. Once I arrived in France it was harder financially to get relaxers every month. My decision was also linked to my spiritual growth. I realized God made me free in Christ and created me the way I am, so I no longer wanted to be a slave to relaxers. Seeing more ladies with short and natural hair also gave me courage to go natural. I’m not “nappy” but rather “simply”: simple and happy 🙂

Au Gabon je voulais me couper les cheveux depuis longtemps mais j’hésitais à cause de la honte. Lorsque je suis allée en France, ce n’était pas évident de faire les défrisages chaque mois vu que ça coutait cher. Au niveau spirituel, j’ai réalisé que Dieu m’a donné la liberté en Jésus et m’a créé comme je suis donc je ne comprenais pourquoi être esclave des produits défrisants. J’ai vu plusieurs filles avec des cheveux courts et naturels ce qui m’a encouragé à faire le big chop et à laisser pousser mes cheveux naturels et simples. Je ne suis pas « nappy » mais « simply » : simple and happy 🙂

Tell me a bit about your natural hair journey. / Dis-moi de tes trois années naturelles.

It’s been a wonderful adventure going natural again. My hair type is 4C or 4B, very kinky and thick. Sometimes it’s hard for me to style my hair, so I usually just rock my fro (because I’m super lazy). I spend a lot less money on maintaining my hair since I don’t need any special hair care procedure. I also try not put too many products in my hair to avoid damage.

C’est une très belle aventure de recommencer à garder mes cheveux naturelles. Ils sont de type 4C ou B , donc très crépus et touffus. C’est parfois difficile de les coiffer alors je suis souvent en afro (parce que je suis une grosse fainéant). Mon budget pour l’entretien de cheveux à considérablement été baissé parce que mes cheveux ne nécessitent pas des soins particuliers, en plus j’évite de trop en mettre pour ne pas les abimer.

Do you have any favorite or “go-to” styles? / As-tu des styles cheveux préférés?

After shampooing my hair I usually just rock my afro, but sometimes I like to wear my hair in a bun or in braids.

Je suis très souvent en afro parce que c’est plus facile après le shampooing. Mais j’aime aussi le chignon et les nattes.

Any favorite hair products? / As-tu des produits cheveux préférés?

My favorite hair product is water. It works as a great detangler for my hair. Even if I don’t detangle my hair before it dries or if I wait weeks before combing it, all I have to do is wet my hair and thread it to stretch it out. For my scalp, I use a mix of oils including olive, coconut, and shea butter as well as the occasional essential oil (lemon, tea tree, etc).

Mon produit cheveux favori est l’eau. Ce n’est pas une blague car l’eau me permet non seulement de laver mes cheveux mais en plus de les démêler. Quand j’ai laissé sécher mes cheveux sans les démêler, même après des semaines sans peigner, il me suffit de les mouiller ensuite je fais des tresses au fil pour les lisser. Sinon pour hydrater mon cuir chevelu, je mélange différentes huiles que je teste. Des huiles végétales : olive, coco, avocat, beure de karité ; et parfois des huiles essentielles (citron, tea tree ,etc.)

Some people try to attain a certain length? Others just want healthy hair. Do you have any natural hair goals? / As-tu des buts pour tes cheveux naturels (par exemple, celles veulent les cheveux qui vont jusqu’à la taille)?

Not really. I’m just trying to take care of my hair as simply as possible without overusing hair products even if they are tailored to natural hair or have natural ingredients. It would be nice to reach waist length in order to show my sisters and friends that one doesn’t need a relaxer, dreadlocks, or weave to have long hair.

Je n’ai pas vraiment de but pour mes cheveux, sinon les entretenir le plus simplement possible sans les étouffer avec plusieurs produits même s’ils sont spécial nappy ou bio. Avoir de longs cheveux jusqu’à la taille me plairai bien aussi, ainsi mes amis et sœurs verront qu’on n’est pas obligé de défriser, lockser ou mettre des tissages pour porter du long.

Are there any natural hair icons that you follow? / Y a-t-il les filles naturelles que tu suis?

I’ve seen quite a few, but there are none that I follow regularly.

J’en ai regardé plusieurs mais non je n’en suis pas forcément régulièrement.

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I hope these ladies have inspired you as much as they have me. Feel free to share your own experience or thoughts about natural hair in the comments section. And don’t forget to include your country (or countries)!

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