The natural hair movement, where women of colour choose to keep their hair kinky and curly, has boomed over the years in South Africa. They have chosen to put the relaxers down and embrace the way their hair grows out of their scalp.
But it’s tricky getting it right, especially if you joined the movement in its early days when the only information and products you could get were for the African American context. That’s why Janine Jellars, founder of TRUE Content Marketing Services and rocker of the afro, wrote a guide ebook on natural hair. The Newbie Natural Guide is based on her journey and decade long experience with own hair.
HUNDREDS of people have downloaded #TheNaturalNewbieGuide! Thank you for the support
— Janine Jellars doesn’t even go here! ✨ (@janine_j) October 26, 2017
Jellars wrote The Natural Newbie Guide for all the women who have asked her what she does to get and maintain great natural hair. “People email me, they get in my DMs, they stop me at the mall; people are always asking me and it gets tiresome,” she told The Daily Vox. So she created the guide so anyone in need of hair care guidance had a one-stop source.
The Natural Newbie Guide breaks everything down for you – whether you should cut off the processed hair or just grow it out, key ingredients you should be looking for in your hair care products, popular hair care techniques, protective styles, and weighs out the pros and cons of each.
Jellars decided to grow her natural hair when she realised she no longer had to keep her hair straight. “We are so socialised into thinking that straight hair is what we should want or how we should look,” she said about why she used to relax her hair. Like a lot of black women, Jellars started getting her hair relaxed when she was seven years old. She hated the experience. “I wasn’t one of those people who looked forward to going to the salon,” she said.
Like the hair growing on our heads, Jellars said the reasons why people opt to go the natural route are varied. It could be for health, aesthetic, or identity reasons. “People have their own various reasons and I don’t think we can boil it down to some kind of consciousness raising. There are a lot of people with natural hair who don’t really even think about their blackness.”
Jellars thinks that the move to natural hair is also a part of the global move towards “chemical free consumption”. People are taking into consideration the health effects the chemicals we consume have on our bodies. “This is part of a global consciousness around what we’re putting in our bodies and what we’re putting on our skin. I don’t want us to see it in isolation from that global trend.”
And relaxer sales have declined. According to a report by Mintel, the sale of relaxers in the United States dropped by 18.6% from 2013 to 2015.
From when Jellars made the change to natural until now, there has been a boom in haircare products that aren’t only designed for natural ethnic hair, but also ones that are made from natural ingredients. “Now you walk into a Clicks and the shelves are bursting with products. But look back seven, eight, nine years ago and that was not the case,” she said.
With the plethora of available products, you don’t have to throw all your money at the makers. Jellars said a lot of people get fooled by “price brag” and branding. She said some of her favourite products are inexpensive. “You need to think about what works for your hair. That should be the marker of success for your natural hair care regimen.”
I’m such a lucky woman! Thank you @nilotiqa and @mmujahair for the #naturalhair spoils. I can’t wait to dig into these goodies 😋 BTW the stylists at @mmujahair used this @nilotiqa butter on my twists and it is so bomb. Also re-upped on some of my fave @theperfecthairtaryn products. This is one of the things I love about #mmujahair – you can get some of your fave local natural products there too 😊🙏🏽
This is something she emphasises a lot in the guide: what might work for someone else’s hair might not work for yours. “Our hair is so individualised that you can’t really have a blanket statement that says the most expensive thing is the best [and] will definitely work for your hair. It’s not true,” Jellars said.
Jellars also touches on how you can mix your own hair conditioners and moisturisers in Newbie Natural with easy-to-find essential oils.
Jellars said it was hard letting go of the straight-hair-is-beautiful-hair myth but she still battles myths about what the ideal natural head looks like. “The natural hair community has its own set of pathologies too. Sometimes you graduate from one and fall into the other.” It’s either you want your hair to be longer or you wish you had a different curl pattern. She is constantly working on checking herself and questioning why she thinks certain things are beautiful.
She has however fully conquered the temptation to relax her hair; that is something she would never do. In her mind it would be like taking up smoking regardless of what we now know about it. “I’m a grown-ass woman. If I pick up a cigarette now it just wouldn’t make any sense. I look at it the same way I look at relaxing my hair.”
You can download a free copy of Jellars’ The Newbie Natural Guide here.