Hair Story: Saidah

Hair Story: Saidah
Obviously everyone starts off natural. I entered the world natural. *laughs* You know, by birth, we all enter the world “au natural.” Of course, it’s a very intimate relationship with your hair and if you’re lucky enough to have a mom who is always staying up late with you and helping you braid your hair before school it’s great but it’s also time consuming.  It’s something that I’ve learned to reconcile with like planning out the time to get my hair done. I permed my hair when I was about 14 years old. I think I had texturized my hair when I was younger but I fully permed it for the first time when I was 14. That was complicated because sometimes my hair would grow and sometimes it would be cut short and I was always comparing my hair to my mom’s hair because she had thick, long healthy hair and my hair is really high maintenance. And her hair was relaxed so I just assumed when I relaxed my hair it would just look like that but it obviously didn’t. My mom says I take my dad’s hair. I tried working through it while I was in college and luckily I was living in Philly so I had black hairstylists at my disposal. I never really thought of going natural because I thought it would be too high maintenance and I just didn’t really think I would do that until I studied abroad in Australia. It was 2016 and I was about to turn 20. I felt like there were only like 5 black people on the continent *laughs* and I was one of them. So I wouldn’t let anyone perm my hair and it was really hard because I just had to watch it go natural for 6 months in the most remote place in the world. Luckily I had a couple of black friends who were there with me that would help me comb it out. They were really patient with me but it was super frustrating. I never did the “Big Chop.” I was just watching all of the undergrowth and trying to comb it out with all of the perm parts. I remember my friend helped me wash my hair. We were in our dorms in the Student Village. And while she was doing it, all of my hair got super matted and she had to take it out painstakingly. I was literally crying, washing all this hair – I didn’t know what to do for months. I forget if I was taking out braids at the time – because I came to Australia with the braids and I kept them in for a minute. So we had like put a lot of conditioner in it but it got too loopy so by the time we were washing it out it was super matted and I was so stressed out. That’s just crazy – it’s about self esteem, not knowing what to do, feeling helpless, watching YouTube tutorials frantically. But also trying to just enjoy studying abroad and luckily I was still able to – I was able to find little pockets of black or African Australian places that I could get my hair done. So that was when I officially went natural. And I’ve been natural ever since and it’s been a really crazy journey. And I’ve found more products that can handle my hair and all of the undergrowth is now my whole hair. And it’s so nice to be able to see my curl pattern for the first time and buying all the cool curl products and trying twist outs and discovering what conditioners work and stuff. I find products through a lot of word of mouth and friends. It’s important to have black girl friends in your life. And YouTube tutorials. Those are my main things. Even my mom is not really as aware of the whole natural – but she’s learned more as well because she’s helped me with my hair. If I do a wash and go or wash and blow at the hair salon, they’ll have different products I can try. So it’s all just trial and error – just seeing what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been learning about doing cowashing and not using shampoo that takes out all of the natural oils in your hair and making sure that when you do twist outs that you take them out when they’re dry, not while they’re still a little wet. Patience is key. It really will take 48 hours. Using different oils – I’ve tried black castor oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil. That’s been really good. My cousin told me about a banana avocado conditioner. You make sure everything’s super blended and put it in as a conditioner, braid it up and take it out and your hair is just revitalized. I use a three part thing from Aphrogee and it’s like a shampoo and then like a neutralizer then your hair gets really hard and you rinse it and put moisturizer in afterwards and it revives your hair. Just things I’ve done along the way but I’m still learning, as we all are. Finding things everyday. I have waves where I’ll only wear braids back to back. Now that I’m in Nigeria I just got my hair done because it’s cheaper and it’s really fast. They just know what they’re doing. It can be so unsustainable to pay $150 every month just to get your hair braided. But that’s been me the past few months. It’s just so much easier because time is super valuable and when you have to go to work and think abutting how your twist out might look in the morning it can be really stressful. So it’s something I go back to especially in the winter. Instagram is super helpful. I follow a lot of different instagrams. It’s really nice because if you see a hairstyle you like from an influencer or from different braids accounts, you can just save it. I have a collection called “hair looks” and whenever I need inspiration I’ll just scroll through and say “Oh – I want to get Goddess braids or half cornrow half whatever” I’m able to rely on that. Social media is great. I did a weave once or twice but I’m more of a wig person. It’s funny all the things you say you would never do – like I’ll never go natural, I’ll never do wigs and then you’re just like “fuck it” I do all of that. Wigs are great. I find my wigs by word of mouth. My friend’s sister (or was it my friend’s friend’s sister) made wigs so I ordered the bundles on Alibaba and she made them for me. Thank you for giving us a platform to talk about our hair journeys and experiences! No one ever asks or wants to know. I would tell 2010 Saidah that her hair is beautiful and it’s going to take a while and it’s a process but definitely just love yourself, love your curl pattern and watch it thrive. Because you are going to thrive and be a bad bitch so you might as well just lean with it, rock with it. *laughs*

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