Vol. 04 Hair Diaries X No Knot Co
Happy New Year and welcome back to Hair Diaries X No Knot Co! This is a blog post that aims to inspire as we explore the natural hair journeys of our favourite influencers and their advice to other wavy, curly and coily babes. We interviewed the inspiring Alpha Ngana, who made her own rules when she embarked on her natural hair journey! She gives us an insight into her simple hair routine pre and post motherhood, and how self-acceptance is the key to enjoying your hair journey. Are you ready to learn and discover new tips and tricks from @alfangana's hair journey? Then keep on reading!
What is your hair type?
I think within the natural hair community, we tend to divide into types A, B, C, but I believe the most productive way is to just stick to type 1,2,3 and 4. This is simply because I have all kinds of super coily strands, I've got some curly ones, and I even have some straight ones. So, it becomes hard to differentiate A, B or C. But I reckon I'll be an A or B. But again, I'd rather just say type four.
How would you describe your relationship with your hair growing up, in comparison to now?
I didn't have a very positive relationship with my hair, in the sense that the days that we had to do our hair, [it felt like] a long process. It was so painful because there was that lack of knowledge. My parents didn't do my hair, I used to go to hair salons. Going there for hours, I had the hairdresser combing my hair whilst it was DRY. At that point, I was so young and my scalp was so tender, I could not bear that pain. It was one of those things that I dreaded [the most]. [After that] you have to then come home and you've got one whole day or even three where you can't sleep properly because your braids are so tight. It wasn't a great experience.
Now we are in an age where [there are] resources online or you can go on YouTube. That's the good thing about the digital era we live in, people are educated. So today the relationship that I have [with my hair], is no longer a chore.
I no longer [dread] wash days. I think life is simple. Why complicate it with just hair? I already have a whole day of having to take care of my child and trying to sustain my home. I don't want to take another whole day trying to deal with hair. So I simplify my routine.
Did you ever feel pressured to straighten your hair or relax it?
So growing up [for me] relaxing hair was the norm. You would never see people with their hair in a non-relaxed manner. Those that I saw with their natural hair; their hair wasn't “kept.” They didn't know how to care for their hair. So, if I didn’t have relaxed hair, I didn't know what to do. So I got a relaxer every three months at least. That was as a young child and that burns; as a young child your scalp is so tender it is not good for your hair. But I'm glad that things are changing now, young girls are looking at natural hair'd influencers online and I think that's amazing!
What is your go-to hair product at the moment?
At the moment it's my conditioner. I love it, it is key. For type 4 hair I need a conditioner because it just gives me that slip feel for detangling. It just makes life easy and sometimes I can use it as a leave-in conditioner as well and just add a little bit of water so it is not as thick, that works well for me. Shea Moisture leave-in conditioner is the one for me. And my Cantu curling cream I love that too! I had it when I first went natural and it's one of those things I always have somewhere in my bathroom so it is easy to get a hold of.
What natural hair tips or advice would you give to your younger self?
I discussed this with my husband; within the natural hair community, there are a lot of dos and don'ts. We don't understand why exactly, or we just take them and we don't test them out. For example, the whole concept of not washing your hair every day. I believed those things, but what would happen if I washed my hair every day? Now that I have tried it, it is the best thing I ever did. Honestly, it has kept my hair well moisturised. I do love the freedom of not having to run away from water. Every natural hair girl will tell you to run away from water!! But for me, that has helped me out [a lot].
It is a self-acceptance journey!
Just like we as brown people can struggle to love our skin colour because of the history that we've gone through... once we begin to accept our hair, I think there's so much freedom that comes with it. Believing that there is beauty in it, changing the narrative that a relaxer is a norm, changing the narrative that brown people cannot grow their hair, you can grow your hair!! I've grown my hair with a very simple routine, and my hair grew to my waist. I've cut it a couple of times in the process as well. So it's very, very possible.
Fall in love with your hair!
Listen, you are not your hair. I know a lot of people will say oh your hair looks a certain way, therefore, you must be like this. This is not the case! That's a big mistake because you are anything you want to be in life. It doesn't matter whether you're type three, or B or whatever type you may be because the truth is even within different types there is still “hair type discrimination.” The truth is you can do so much with your hair.
Don't pursue that curl pattern!
This pursuit for the curl pattern, this thing where we're constantly pursuing to define our curls. It's one of those things that we need to let go. So, I would tell my younger self, don't pursue that curl pattern. Your hair is your hair. Just love and work with it. Experiment with it. See what works for you. Don't just take the “natural hair do's and don’ts rules," don't follow any of that, see what will work for you!!
When growing up, did you have any hair role models?
Straight up no. [Natural] hair wasn't a thing. But as a teenager, [my hair role models] would be like Beyonce and Rihanna, I would think oh her hair is nice, but it’s a wig, I can't even be inspired by that because I would have to go find that [exact] wig or weave.
It's very important for me, now that I'm a mother, to think long term for my son, and maybe I’ll have a daughter at some point. I want him to know that this is what [real] hair looks like, and not think that straight hair, or Caucasian hair or type 2 B is the norm. It's very good that we live in a generation with social media, where people can see themselves, they have a representation of who they are.
What steps do you take to keep your hair healthy?
How long does it take you to typically wash your hair? Can you talk us through the steps?
It takes one hour, I don't believe it should take you a [whole] day. Why is it that I never hear our Caucasian counterparts say “Oh, it takes a whole day to wash my hair.” We don't hear this. I usually wash every two weeks. I moisturise once a week, I just spray a little bit of water in with product.
During my wash day, I finger detangle quickly, take away all the dirt, shampoo, condition, deep condition, all of that is done in the shower. The reason I don't take long is that I style in the shower. I have long hair, I have to finger detangle and do all the beautiful things in the shower. I love water, so it may take me two hours including styling in the shower. It's easier because my hair is well saturated with water. I can put the product in my hair and get it into a bun or do a flat twist and problem solved.
Then I let it air dry, I find that working on damp hair makes the process much easier. There is no better moisturiser than water. I sometimes four-section my hair- the four sections will give me the same definition as if I did eight twists and this is because I styled on damp hair.
Since having my baby I wash my hair every two days or every other day. I won't [always] use shampoo. I just use a conditioner. But if I were to go out, I would just underpin my twists, finger detangle with my conditioner and rinse it out. I put my leave-in conditioner, then my Cantu, Shea Butter, put oil in my hair. That takes me about 20 minutes and I'm done. This works better since I am finger detangling every other day, not only is it helping with my postpartum shedding, but it also means that when it's time for me to do a shampoo, the shampooing takes me less [time]. So, that's it, that's me with waist-length hair.
What advice would you give to a fellow curly sister starting their new hair journey?
Don't be led astray by Hair Types, everyone's hair is different. Enjoy your journey. Don't let washday be a chore, don't let it be the sort of thing that you dread.
So go out and try your own thing. See what works for you and your time. How much time do you want to spend washing your hair? If you have a whole day then, sister, take the whole day doing it. Gaining knowledge is key.
If your hair journey was a song, what would it be?
It may be very hard because I'm a Christian. So I don't listen to anything but Christian music, so people may not even know it. But for me, the song that is speaking to me right now is Promises by Maverick city.
It just summarises everything about life. God is faithful in every single way; if you’re a Christian, then what can't God do? Do you think growing hair is a problem for God? It's not! It is the least of his worries. So surely your hair shouldn’t be a problem [for you].
MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW ALPHA ON @alfangana ON INSTAGRAM!
- No Knot Co x