When I told people I wanted to go natural, a lot of people said I was crazy and I wouldn’t last because my hair texture was too coarse, says beauty blogger Aboyowa Adjuah Wood.
The 23-year-old Nigerian born has been creating videos on YouTube since 2014 to showcase the beauty of natural hair especially the 4c hair texture because according to her there are a lot of negative stereotypes and connotations surrounding it. Till this day, there are people that are still ignorant when it comes to 4c hair. They think it doesn’t grow, it’s always dry, you can’t style it, – but Westafricanbaby, as she is known on social media, aims to debunk all fallacies about that hair texture.
With no plans of ever relaxing her hair again, Aboyowa tells us all about her natural hair journey so far for #BNFroFriday.
BellaNaija Style: Tell us about your hair
Aboyowa Adjuah Wood: My hair curl pattern is 4c, the kinkiest curl pattern. With regards to texture, my hair is pretty coarse because my strands are super thick. I’ve never tried the artificial colour on my hair so it’s still in its natural black colour. I’ve never tried a texturizer but I have used relaxers in the past before I went natural.
BNS: Why did you decide to go natural?
AAW: Well, I’ve always loved the look of an afro or really big hair. In my freshman year of college, I started getting into beauty supply store wigs because of YouTube. I really found some nice wigs and most of the wigs I loved were in curly afro styles, especially the famous Creta girl (I had that wig in like 3 different colours). Anyway, because they were beauty supply store wigs, they obviously didn’t last long and the human hair versions of those wigs weren’t really common at that time. If you found any, they were super expensive. So one day, I stumbled unto natural hair YouTube and I was amazed by what I saw, different hair textures and hair lengths. Although, initially, the hair textures I saw didn’t really look like mine but then I found Laila from Fusion of Cultures (she’s 3c,4a and 4b I believe) and she gave me hope because her hair is mostly in the type 4 range. I also found Joulezy, she inspired me the most to go natural, she has 4c hair like me. After I watched her videos, I was sold (she doesn’t do natural hair videos anymore but thank you Joulezy!). I then realized I was wasting money on all the wigs I was buying, I could simply grow my own hair out to do those exact same styles. That was the beginning of my natural hair journey, I’ve never looked back since then.
BNS: How did you transition?
AAW: I initially planned to transition for a year and then cut off all my relaxed ends but by the 8th month, I was so ready to be fully natural. I couldn’t wait any longer so I just took a pair of scissors, sat in front of a mirror and chopped off all my relaxed ends. I was too happy while I was cutting my hair lol, I was finally natural, I finally had my fro.
When I told people I wanted to go natural, a lot of people said I was crazy and I wouldn’t last because my hair texture was too coarse. A couple people said I didn’t have the hair for it but look at me now! I wasn’t really offended to be honest because I understood where they were coming from. Most people do not know how to take care of natural hair, because of slavery and colonialism, we were never taught how. We just tried to conform to the standard of beauty that was forced on us. The further away from that standard, your hair was, the more problematic it was deemed. Seeing as my hair is 4c, the furthest from straight hair, people have this mindset that it is the ‘ugliest’ hair type and the most difficult to manage.
The reactions I get from my hair now are really interesting, mostly good. Sometimes people stop me to admire it and they try to touch it. But I think the craziest reactions I get are when people ask me if I’m mixed because my hair is waist length lol. I’m always so confused, I don’t look anywhere near mixed. Race and nationality do not determine your hair growth rate. The only reason it seems like black girls can’t grow their hair long is that we are the only group of girls that were conditioned to alter and damage our hair at young ages. Another crazy reaction I get (mostly online) and I think this is the craziest is when people (that have never touched my hair or seen it in real life) try to tell me my hair is not 4c because it’s long and I can style it. How will you use your chest to tell me about what is growing from my own head? You haven’t touched my hair before, you weren’t with me when I was breaking combs in secondary school, you weren’t there when hairdressers charged my mother extra to do my hair because my hair was “too hard”. Let me just use this opportunity to give my mother a shoutout because if I don’t, I will not hear the end of it lol: I love you, mummy!. You weren’t there when they had to use Dark and Lovely super for me sometimes when I was a child because the regular didn’t work, you weren’t there when after the relaxer finished burning my head, somebody will still come and ask me, that same week, “when are you relaxing your hair? it’s due”. Some people are just not used to seeing long 4c hair in different styles and because it shrinks they think it doesn’t grow. Generally, though, my hair has really changed a lot of negative perceptions people have about 4c hair. People love my hair because it’s beautiful. My hair is very thick and it’s long and I style it in so many different ways and people love that.
BNS: Are you ever tempted to go back to relaxed hair?
AAW: Nahhhh. I’m never getting a relaxer again. Relaxers used to always burn me because of how thick and coarse my hair is. I always had to leave it on for some extra time so it could look relaxed and even then, it still never looked straight. It always looked like a blowout. I’d honestly sit in front of a big fan or stick my head in the freezer with the door open so I could endure the burns. I’m laughing as I type this, I can’t believe I ever did that! It got to the point where if I got a relaxer and it didn’t burn, I’d know my hair didn’t relax at all. The stress is not worth it, never again.
BNS: Did you ever hide your natural hair?
AAW: For the first 3 months, after I cut off all my relaxed ends because I didn’t know what to do with it. At that time, there wasn’t that much online hair care information for people with 4c hair. That was part of the reasons I started my youtube channel. After those 3 months, I started getting used to it, started figuring out ways to take care of my hair and since then, I’ve never hidden my hair. There is no reason to hide good natural hair.
BNS: How long have you kept your natural hair?
AAW: I’ve been natural for about 5 and a half years and my hair is about waist length but I’ve trimmed it a lot of times. I don’t have a set schedule for trimming, I just trim whenever I feel like I need it.
BNS: How does climate in Illinois affect your hair?
AAW: The only time I struggle with the climate when it comes to my hair is during the winter. Illinois gets so cold and that really dries out my hair, especially my ends. Dry hair leads to breakage. My African hair is not made for this struggle American weather *tears*.
BNS: Do you have any other hair problems?
AAW: Hmm, well at the moment, not really…but I’ve had hair problems in the past. I’ve dealt with a scalp injury from when someone did my hair too tight. I actually had a scab on my head and there was no hair there when I took out my weave. Miraculously it grew back because God did not want my enemies to laugh at me. I’ve dealt with breakage from over styling in my second year of being natural. I was so obsessed with trying different styles and it was putting too much pressure on my hair that resulted in breakage.
I do struggle with dry scalp issues though so I use Nizoral shampoo and tea tree oil for that.
BNS: How do you deal with it?
AAW: What I do to remedy the effects of terrible winter is, I use a lot of thick butter and creams in my hair like the CocoSheanut butter. They are hair and body butter so they work well for my hair and skin, who doesn’t love a multitasking product?
BNS: Natural vs chemical products?
AAW: I really don’t have a strong preference, different stuff works for different people. If the chemical products work for you, I’m not gonna tell you not to use them. Personally, most of the products I use are natural because a lot of black-owned natural hair companies like to keep their products as natural as possible. There are a number of product lines that are actually at least 97% vegan. Just use what works best for your hair.
BNS: What’s your regular hair routine?
AAW: I don’t really have a set routine because I’m a lazy natural but I try to wash, detangle and deep condition my hair every two weeks. I moisturize and trim when I need it. I also sleep with a satin pillowcase to prevent breakage. Cotton can break and dry out your hair.
BNS: What advice would you give to people thinking of going natural?
AAW: Ask yourself why you want to do it. If you’re doing it for yourself, because you really want to be natural, then do it. However, if you’re doing it because you feel pressured to do it, then don’t. The people that go natural because they really want it tends to last longer and have a better experience than people that feel pressured. I went natural because I like afros and I think natural hair looks better than relaxed her from what I’ve seen. That is my own perspective, another person will see things differently. At the end of the day, it’s just hair, if you want it natural, relaxed, constantly in wigs or weaves, it’s up to you. it’s your head. Do what works for you. I’ve had friends that went natural and told me they wanted to get a relaxer like a year later and I saw no problems with it. it’s not a big deal.
Also, do your research before you go natural. When I was starting out, I did tons of online research and watched countless videos on youtube so I could have as much information as I needed and prepare myself for what I was getting into. People seem to forget that we have to learn how to take care of our natural hair and it’s a process. Unfortunately, it’s not something many of us were taught from birth. Hardly anybody goes naturally knowing exactly what to do and how their hair is going to behave. Initially, there will be days you will be confused on what to do, there will be days your hair won’t look the way you want it to look. I went through it too but that is what happens when you’re learning something new. It’s part of the process. You will make mistakes, some people have had to do a second big chop and start again. That’s why I said if you’re doing it for yourself, you won’t mind the minor setbacks and moments of confusion. It will all be worth it in the end. Also, block all negativity concerning your hair. There will be people that will make slick rude comments, don’t let it phase you. They are just ignorant. If you really believe that your hair is beautiful, nobody’s opinions will ever make you think otherwise.
Another major tip, do not chase length. Almost every new natural makes this mistake. I stopped doing length check videos because of this. I noticed some of my subscribers were more focused on comparing their length to mine instead of focusing on making sure their hair was healthy. They were comparing their length to mine and getting frustrated. This brings me to another point, avoid hair envy. Never compare your hair texture, growth rate or length of other people’s hair. Everyone’s hair is unique and behaves differently. Pay attention to your hair and find out what works for you. Be ready to accept your hair for what it is. it’s ok to not have curls, it’s ok to not have edges that lay flat, it’s ok to have hair that shrinks, it’s ok to have hair that is not soft. It’s ok to wear wigs here and there if you feel like it, heck I make wigs too (even though I only wear them for like 2 days and get tired of them lol), but nothing should ever be more beautiful to you than your natural hair. It is part of who you are.
Length will come with healthy hair. If you focus too much on the length you will be easily frustrated. Just make sure your hair is healthy, deep conditioned and moisturized. Trim it if it needs to be trimmed and don’t hold unto dead ends. I specifically have a video on my YouTube channel where I give you my top tips for keeping healthy hair and retaining length.
BNS: What do you like best about your hair and being natural?
AAW: I love the thickness #TeamThick. As for being natural, I just love all the amazing styles my hair can do. I do a lot of styles with my hair, all my style tutorials are on youtube.
BNS: What are your favourite styles to rock?
AAW: When I wanna wear my hair out, I love a good curly fro. I just twist my hair and roll it up in perm rods and when it dries, I unravel it. when I wanna keep my hair in a more protected style, I just put my hair in about 30 to 40 twists or I do chunky flat twists. I love twists, my hair is twisted up a lot, that’s one of the ways I get a lot of length and prevent breakage.
BNS: Do you have any hair crushes?
AAW: Naturallytemi and Dayelasoul, I love them.
BNS: Are you particular about sleek edges?
AAW: Nah, not at all. I rarely feel obligated to sleek down my edges. I actually don’t understand the whole “laid edges” obsession. My natural hair texture is kinky, 4c, obviously my edges are gonna be the same way. Why should I have to make my edges look straight and silky? I’ve seen too many people trying to force their edges to be laid with different gels and brushes and they end up thinning out or ripping out their edges and developing bald spots. I’m not about to do that to myself to make someone else feel comfortable, Abeg I cannot come and kill myself. If your edges can be slicked down, fine, do it but if not, don’t force it. I always say, if anybody doesn’t like seeing edges that are not slicked down and laid, please close your eyes when you see me lol.
BNS: What hair accessories can you NOT live without?
AAW: Definitely Bobbi pins and big hair bands. I think every natural girl needs to have those.
BNS: If you were stuck on an island, what 3 hair products would you take with you?
AAW: Oh wow, this is a little difficult lol, my Taliah Waajid protective styles leave in conditioner, CocoSheanut Hair and Body Butter (the almond one) and Camille Rose Moisture Milk because I love the smell. My hair has to be smelling nice on that Island, maybe somebody that is passing will smell it and rescue me.
BNS: What’s your remedy for a bad hair day?
AAW: A bun, simple quick and easy.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Aboyowa!
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