Hey, I’m Teju Onabajo, a student at Mount Holyoke College. I spend my time between Lagos, Nigeria and Massachusetts, where my school is. I am Nigerian through and through!
When did you go natural and how did you do it?
I’ve only relaxed my hair once in my life, and that was in 2011 for high school prom. I relaxed it because the hairdressers that were brought to do our hair refused to do hair that was not relaxed. Before that my mum never allowed me to relax my hair.
When I relaxed my hair, I felt like my hair took longer to grow back than it usually did when it was natural. So I knew I wouldn’t relax it again (or at least until it grew to a length I was happy with), and I haven’t relaxed it since.
Tell us about your hair
Well, I don’t really know much of hair science and its corresponding terminology; but I have always had a full head of hair. My hair is extremely thick. It’s also coarse and has very tight curls that make it extremely painful/difficult to comb. When it’s straightened it comes to the end of my neck.
Are you a less is more girl or a product junkie?
I think I have to be the worst natural girl ever *covers face*. Very much a less is more girl. I have no solid hair care regimen. I just let my hair take care of itself for the most part. I only do the basics—wash, condition, moisturize and comb when it’s out.
What are your staple products?
Staple products are Cantu shea butter and natural shea butter for day to day moisturizing. Once a week, I use aloe vera gel and Dr Miracle Hot Gro hair conditioner for additional moisture, and to grow my hair.
What is your hair regimen like?
To deal with natural hair like mine requires patience and dedication, and I don’t think I’m as dedicated to my hair my fellow naturals. So I rarely have my hair out. When it is, I get my hair wet every morning so I can comb it. I wash it weekly and I try not to straighten it as much. Some parts of my hair (middle part that I used to cover my weaves) have changed texture—softer and looser curls—because of repeated heat, which makes my ‘fro a bit awkward.
But basically I adopt a basic regimen of wash-condition-moisturize-comb for my hair.
I wash my hair with regular Tresemme moisturizing shampoo, and then with the accompanying moisturizing conditioner. I try to keep my hair as moisturized as possible; because that’s the only way I can possibly handle it.
I try to get keratin treatments every so often, but I’ve only succeeded in doing it a few times.
I try to always use heat protectant gel and spray before setting out blow-drying and then flat ironing. I use the gel when my hair is damp and pre-blow dry. Post-blow dry and pre-flat iron I use the heat protectant spray. And then I section my hair, spray another coat of heat protectant, and then flat iron.
I use either John Frieda Frizz-Ease Heat Protectant Spray and gel or Tresemme Therma Guard on my hair.
Anything in particular your hair cannot do without?
WATER!!! I cannot touch my hair without water because of how coarse it is. Growing up I always cried when people combed my hair, and I still scream till now. So my hair cannot do without moisture!
Hair Do’s and don’ts?
For me there are only two main things:
-DON’T attempt to style hair when dry, as it causes unnecessary breakage.
How do you wear your hair?
My hair is usually in braids or in a weave because I honestly don’t know what else to do with my hair. I’ve tried to repeat the things I see on some YouTube channels, but they hardly ever work for me. I welcome any suggestions please! My favorite hairstyle is definitely braids, kinky or regular. It’s just so easy to manage!
When it’s out I always have it in a ‘fro just because I don’t know how else to wear it. I’ve tried to do bantu knots but it just never comes out right! So afro all the way 😀
How do you wear your hair to work? Do you think it hinders you in the work place?
This summer when I had an internship, my hair was in a weave throughout. But I think being natural wouldn’t really hinder me as much as it would attract attention—seeing as I was at a place where most people were of the Caucasian flavor.
Are you natural for any particular reason(s)?
I went to boarding school where I had to cut my hair all the time, so coming out of school, all I wanted was for my hair to grow back to how it was pre-secondary school. When I felt like the relaxer stunted my hair growth, I decided to go back to natural at least until it grew to a length that I wanted.
Have you received any negative comments about your hair? How did/do you deal?
No, thankfully. I’ve just had people wanting to touch it and I usually get great comments about my ‘fro ^_^
What is your hair to you?
To me, my hair is just hair. It’s an accessory just like clothes and shoes! I love it because it’s healthy and resilient. My resilient accessory!
What do you love most about being natural?
I think it’s mostly feeling that my hair is healthy and they’re so many things I can do with it if I can ever get the hang of it.
Have you experienced any difficulty being natural in Nigeria or where you are?
I’m not in Nigeria too much nowadays, so I haven’t had any real difficulty. But even when I’m in Nigeria, I’ve had a few people comment negatively on my hair but I got and still get more compliments than negativity.
At present, what are your challenges?
I’m trying to tame my hair, it’s so difficult to manage! I need to get it more malleable. I’d love any tips on this, btw, because I have no idea how to go about this.
Any hair goals?
I want my hair to remain healthy, and grow long like it was before I had to cut it.
Any last words to the person thinking about going natural or the new natural?
Well, good luck! I admire natural girls who really take care of their hair because I don’t know how they do it. Natural hair is beautiful and so you will definitely enjoy how you look but you should also know it won’t be easy or cheap taking care of your hair!
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 Teju, for sharing!
If you’d like to be our hairspiration sometime, just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Till next time,