I am very excited to share with you today’s Hairspiration! Her hair is amazing, and it is all thanks to her careful, patient and consistent healthy care practices! I hope you’re inspired! 🙂
Hi there, my name is Preye!
It means God’s gift and yes, I am a child of God. I am purely Nigerian by birth and heritage as both my parents are Nigerians (Ijaw and Urhobo). I have spent half of my life schooling, living and now working in the United Kingdom. I am an aspiring project manager. I currently work in the financial service sector. I studied International Relations for my first degree and then International Business Management for my second degree.
When did you go natural and how did you do it?
I cannot give you an exact date for going natural as my case is slightly peculiar as it has been more of a journey (was a mixture of big chops at different points and finally great thought involved). Hence, my most recent big chop (2009) for my healthy hair journey did not require that much thought but a whole lot of research!
Unconsciously, I loved the thickness that comes with natural African Hair. I guess you could say my new found love for natural hair truly began in 2009 (start of my current healthy hair journey). September 2009 marked the start of my healthy hair journey and me cutting off (big chopping) my hair as it had been damaged from hair dyeing. I only left just about enough for it to be plaited and covered with weaves. For almost a year my friends and family did not see my hair when they finally did they realised I had cut my hair. I was very self-conscious in the first year so avoided people seeing it this period because of the negative feedback but I was determined regardless.
Researching led me to begin changing bad habits, learning new hair handling techniques, experimenting with products to find what would work for me, eradicated chemicals and stopped using heat tools like blow dryers and hair straighteners for a long time.
Tell us about your hair
I am not much of a hair typing person nor into terminologies but I would say my hair is a mixture of 4a,b and c (*laughing* well, it is a 4 for those who like to give it a number). I see the beauty of my hair and texture when I keep it conditioned, moisturized and oiled (sounds normal right?). People tend to say my hair texture looks manageable but that is because I do not play when it comes to the three things I just mentioned. Before I had knowledge on caring for my hair it used to break combs constantly! My hair is thick, coarse with very tight curls (or should I say coils) almost like o’s staggered on top of each other. Last time I straightened it was round about the bra strap region.
Are you a less is more girl or a product junkie?
I am a less is more kind of lady when it comes to hair because I do not switch products unnecessarily. If it works I do not see any reason to change up a product and I find certain products effective for particular uses and specific hair styles. In the last two years I have definitely consciously created some sort of regimen/pattern for caring for my hair.
What are your staple products?
When it comes to products, my staples based on categories I use them:
– Leave-Ins: I use Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends Split End Protection Cream or Cantu Shea Butter Leave in conditioning repair cream as leave-ins.
– My Go To Oils & Butters: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Castor Oil and Unrefined African Shea Butter.
– Pre-poo/Deep Condition: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO) OR Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) mixed with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner and Mayonnaise from the kitchen.
– Wash: 1st 2yrs of my hair journey I used Herbal Essences Hello Hydration but now I use Elasta QP Crème Conditioning Shampoo or mud wash because our textured hair can never get enough moisture and I noticed it adds to the softness of my hair. One constant though that I swap with is my African Black Soap (prefer the liquid form) from Ghana. Before every hair wash, I pre-poo.
What is your hair regimen like?
I wash when necessary, so if my hair is left loose/free I tend to wash it once in a week (I ALWAYS do a deep condition/pre-poo treatment and detangle just before every wash which is the only time I comb through my hair from roots to tip). I recently started swapping between a protein based deep condition with yoghurt and more moisture based version with a bit of mayonnaise but more of herbal essence conditioner. So, when my hair is out if I focus on protein by the next hair wash I would focus on moisture based deep condition. Still experimenting with the yoghurt because I recently neglected my hair and currently baby-ing it back to life J.
I always use a heat protectant before blow drying or flat ironing (hair straightening using heat). I only straighten my hair one to two times in a year. The current heat protector of my choice is Cantu Shea Butter Grow Strong Strengthening Treatment.
Anything in particular your hair cannot do without?
It has to be MOISTURE! MOISTURE!! MOISTURE!!! This is why my texture gives the illusion of being so manageable and easy to deal with but believe me that you only get to see the end results in pictures! This is the reason I do not play when it comes to pre-poo/deep conditioning, using leave-ins or simply spraying water and ensuring I seal with a good oil or butter. My hair experience is a lot less painful and crying-free unlike my childhood memories (thank you Jesus for deliverance! Of a truth, people perish for lack of knowledge). So, glad I have laid my hair-nemies of progress to rest!
What are your hair Do’s and don’ts?
Never handle your hair when you are short for time because the last thing you want to do is handle your hair whilst you are in a rush. You will most likely be tugging and breaking your hair in the process, patience is a key ingredient (scarfs are usually my back up plan lol). Avoid handling your hair dry if you have similar hair texture to mine. Run! I Repeat *in Nigerian accent* RUN OH!! From tight braiders like a plague! My 3 do’s are: deep condition, moisturize and seal (oil) your hair will sing Halleluyah! Believe me!!
How do you wear your hair?
My schedule is tight and though I love my hair I do not have the time to handle it every single day so I major in longer term protective styles like fixing a weave/wig and alternating with getting braids done. Even when my hair is left loose it tends to be in an updo of some sort or a messy bun. So, I definitely favour Protective Hair Styles and Low Manipulation Styles. I do not disturb my hair unnecessarily and I do enjoy different style options based on my mood and personality as I love some kind of rotation. As a result, I do not have a favourite style because I style my hair based on how I feel and the look I want to achieve.
I would say my constant style staples are weaves, wigs, braids, plaits, updos, buns, etc. My braids tend to last 4-6weeks.
I give my hair a break in-between and rock my natural hair loose at times. I would sleep in chunky plaits, loosen it (they call that a braid out lol) and am out the door but no more than a week as I will deep condition and wash it by the end of the week (maximum 2weeks – I recently experienced major breakage when I left it for 3months plus loose without sticking to my regimen. Let’s just say never again!). I moisturise with either water or a leave-in and seal (butter or oil) daily routine is a must this period! On very rare occasions (twice in a year), I do straighten my hair to enjoy my hair in a different state (usually curl my straightened hair using bendy rollers over night not use to bone straight hair).
I style my hair in as I normally would to work and I personally do not think it hinders me in any way at work (either that or I am just oblivious to anyone’s opinion of my hair lmao). They actually like the variation of style I am able to enjoy; I think they look forward to my next hair style than I do. I rocked my full afro to work once and it got all the attention because a lot of my colleagues had never seen or touched afro hair. In fact my manager directed her sister to my blog because her sister was having a tough time caring for her mixed race daughter’s hair. I see myself as adding some chocolate to my milky work environment and it’s delicious!
Are You on your Natural Hair Journey for any particular reasons?
My natural hair journey was spurred on by curiosity and research. Being Nigerian (and surrounded by a lot of Nigerians) I always wondered why Nigerian ladies (African women) with afro textured hair never seemed to have long hair like our European and Asian counterparts. I began researching online, reading books, watching shows and asking questions to know what some of my Caucasian and Asian friends were doing that I wasn’t.
Plus, I had experienced it all and was at my wits end. I was on a mission to see if my hair would grow because it seemed stagnant. My hair CV had everything from from rocking a twa as a teenager to rocking African thread to university when mum visited *smiles* to texturizing (it is classified as a chemical) to those ‘aunties’ almost every Nigerian child born in my era will remember that put your head in between their thighs *ewww* in the name of making your hair for school to stylists in salons who would blow dry my hair to oblivion and half the hair on my head would be on the floor (they might have been good at styling but definitely not at maintaining my hair’s health). Lest I forget the way they man-handled my hair and called it combing of my hair whilst giving me a migraine to the ones that would plait my hair so tight and I would end up with what looked like boils on my scalp and of course dying my hair almost all colours of the rainbow and as a Pastor’s daughter you definitely get judged for that *straight face*.
Okay, let me rewind to the very beginning. I was natural from when I was a toddler till I was about 8 or 9 years old when I begged to get a relaxer. I loved it but after about a year my hair looked so limb and lifeless from the full natural mane I was used too! By secondary school (a year after relaxing), I had to cut all of my hair and I guess you could call this a compulsory big chop for boarding school in Nigeria lol. I cried my eyes out and my cousin Karina was so touched she also cut her own hair to show some moral support even though she did not have to. Now, that is real love right there! Until I was about 16, I rocked a teeny weeny afro (TWA). I decided using texturizers was the way to help manage my hair better but I had no knowledge whatsoever on the effects of chemicals. It did not even occur to me that a texturizer was just a mild version of a relaxer. Well, I learnt the hard way because by the time I was in university my hair was not as thick as it ought to be and to make matters worse I dyed it different colours of the rainbow! Back to square one right?
Have you received any negative comments about your hair? How did you deal with it?
At that time when I decided to begin my healthy hair journey, it was rare to see a natural talk less of one with long hair past shoulder length and here I was projecting that my goal was to achieve waist length afro hair by December 2014. So expectedly I got mixed reactions well mostly negative from my Nigerian paddies things like “for your mind abi”; “you don start shey”; “free that thing”; ), “shey na beans abi na potato” meaning impossible in Nigerian pigin. Let’s just say the reactions were not particularly encouraging so I decided to keep quiet after a while and begin my mission of doing instead of just talking. I had reached a phase in my life where the only opinion that truly counted (still counts) to me is that of God. You honestly cannot please human beings even if you tried. I was very comfortable in my own self and disregarded negative comments. After a while, with patience and time the adjustment has actually been from others who are now used to seeing my hair for what it is and has led to a lot of people around me to also go natural or simply pay more attention to their hair’s health (yes, including my critics). It’s a hair crusade so I am happy with the effect and end result.
What is your hair to you?
I see my hair as an accessory, a style, my culture and a display of my African heritage. All these things can change and it is about my choice on how I choose to rock it. It is the versatility that comes with having natural hair and being able to buy any other hair of my choice without affecting the health of my afro hair that I enjoy.
Have you experienced any difficulty being natural in Nigeria or where you are?
Well, I experienced being singled out a number of times including friends and family asking what I was thinking talking about “wanting waist length afro hair”. In terms of reactions especially from Nigeria and people who have not met me in person, it tends to be more of disbelief that it is in fact my hair or that Nigerian hair can grow this long. Apparently, to grow long hair you must have blood/genes from non-Nigerian forefathers but thank God people are gradually moving away from ignorance as knowledge is becoming widespread when it comes to hair. But I am thankful I stood my ground and now that they can see results some have done the big chop and I am officially their unofficial hair consultant now.
Have you learnt anything new? Has it changed you?
I have learnt a lot about my hair and also learnt to love me just as I am. I know it may sound cliché but if you can accept and love yourself in your natural state it is contagious to everyone around you when it is genuine. Being natural has not changed my personality it just feels natural being natural *cheesy grin*
At present, what are your challenges?
When it comes to my natural hair the major issue I struggle with is extreme shrinkage although I have learnt to embrace it. I tend to stretch my hair most times by either plaiting it or blow drying but more recently threading it. At present I am battling from recovering from major breakage on my ends. In the last six months I have been unable to retain length partly due to leaving my hair loose but majorly due to neglect from lack of time. It is on its way to recovery now.
Any Hair Goals?
I am currently bra strap length as a result of the breakage experienced but my hair goal is to be waist length by December 2014. My long term goal however, is to maintain healthy afro hair.
Any last words to the person thinking about going natural or the new natural?
For those considering going natural, please please and please do your research first because no one will spoon feed you when it comes to your own hair growth. Also, please do it for you and not because you think you need to join a revolution or you simply want to follow a trend.
For those who are already natural, it is normal to have set backs in your hair journey. Do not let it get to you, remember it is hair and it will grow back. Also, avoid comparing your own journey to someone else instead focus on you. However, it is okay to be inspired and motivated by someone else.
For everyone, the best advice I can give to you is to dedicate time to learn about hair generally then more specifically your own hair. Try out products to find what your hair responds to, this process took me probably 2 years to find my staple products. What works for one person may not work for your own hair due to different factors like hair density, texture, environment (e.g. the effect of hard water) etc.
Do you write a blog or have a twitter or instagram or any other social media you’d like people to connect with you on?
Thank you SO much Preye for taking the time to do this feature! I thoroughly enjoyed reading and posting this, I hope you did too!
If you’d like to be our natural hair inspiration on the blog, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to feature you!
Till next time,