So on Fridays I will be posting stories about different people's natural hair journey's. Be it natural hair or dreadlocked hair, its all about embracing your hair journey and loving the hair you have.
Hope these stories inspire you as they have me.
Our first Hair Queen is the my former school mate and friend the beautiful and talented Julliet Opondo. Her amazing locks are a testament that locks can be looong, healthy and gorgeous!!!
1. When did you decide to go natural?
It was 12 years ago when I was in Uni. I was surviving on a shoe string budget with no source of income but what my folks gave me as pocket money. I had a beautiful haircut, way before the whole of Nairobi caught on to the craze of keeping short relaxed hair. Problem was I would have growth in 1 inch growth in like 2 weeks and I could not get the money to keep maintaining the hair style.
At the time keeping a fro was not an option as my hair was too tough, so I realised dreadlocks would be best suited for my type of hair texture.
So I started doing my homework. No real access to the internet back then. I then decided to talk to those who had been in the game longer and they gave me tips about how they started and how they maintain their hair.
You see going to get it done at the salon was not an option because that was the one thing I was trying to eliminate, the salon expense. I then swore, if I was not going to be able to maintain the dreads I would go really short and have the hair maintained at the barbers...
2. How did you start your dreads?
From the information I gathered I needed to at the very least have about 2 inches worth of natural hair. So at the time my hair was in braids and after about 2 month(don't ask) I cut off all the relaxed bits
I had then been advised that to make the hair extra kinky I would need to do the first was with detergent to give it that steel wool effect and remove all the natural oils, making it easier for the hair to be twisted and lock faster. So I proceeded to do that. I was not to treat or put conditioner, as this way soften the hair again . These days there are better ways of starting dreads that dont involve detergent :-)
I then sat in front of a mirror and started parting my hair in rows and twisting while it was damp. In about 2 hours I was done. All the dreads were twisted in the same direct and I opted for anti clockwise. I was then told I needed to wait at least 2 months before I washed it....So not going to happen. So after about 3 weeks I had to get it washed, problem was they had not started locking. So I came up with a way to do it. I took three strands and braided them together. I then proceeded to lather my scalp with a cloth and literally worked in the shampoo around the scalp to remove all the dandruff and dirt....Proceeded to rinse it out. By the 3rd rinse the braids had slowly started untwisting but they were still intact. This routine continued for about 3 months. By this time the dreads had started forming buds, so I was well on my way....12 years later and here I am :-)
3. What reaction did you get from family and friends?
Not the best. Gosh, I was threatened and told how people will confuse me for being a thug and a hoodlum, because at the time they were the only ones who had dreadlocks, but I hang in there. I remember one time we were set to take family portraits and my dad was like "When are you going to get your hair done." to which I replied "But its been freshly done." The look on his face was priceless...hehehehehe
4. What’s your maintenance routine?
Technically to maintain the hair I need to get it shampooed and treated every 4 weeks. And yes I said treated. This ensures that the hair remains healthy and does not break. I also like to colour it at least twice a year as the direct sunlight tends to tint the hair to a weird brown that makes the hair look dirty.
5. What products do you always use?
I recently discovered about 2 years ago how wonderful detangling shampoo is for dreads as it makes it easier to retwist the growth without pulling the hair apart and causing thining. Absolutely fantastic for hair that has already locked
I also use a good treatment...Especially enjoy anything with mint or menthol in it as it leave my scalp feeling so nice and fresh after a good rinse
To twist the dreads I like to mix Dreadlock gel with Indian hemp hair oil. I use this to retwist while the hair is still damp as it locks in the moisture and keeps my scalp well oiled thus avoiding episodes of dandruff occuring.
6. What is your hair goal?
Lol....hair goal....Don't think I have one. Its been 12 years to the month since I started keeping dreadlocks, and they have become such a major part of my image. Though I have toyed with the idea every now and again I am looking to cut them and start over. But I guess I am waiting for the right buyer to come along. I have been told I can make a pretty penny from selling these ones.
Keeping dread locks is a labour of love and I urge everyone donning this style should learn how to maintain them on their own. You get to appreciate the labour that goes into it. Besides the more you show your hair love, the longer it grows.