Every devoted naturalista is aware that not all hair products are created equal. Specific products and brands work better on certain types of natural hair (I took a quiz and apparently I have 3C hair), however it is also true that there are universal standards that must be met across all hair textures.
Since moving to Cape Town from New York City last month, I realised very quickly that several of my U.S. distributed haircare products were not readily available. This made it difficult and expensive to maintain my traditional haircare regimen (importing haircare products is very costly). So just as I embarked on an exhaustive, but in the end, rewarding search for an apartment, I searched for products that would meet, if not exceed, the standards of haircare products I had grown accustomed to in the U.S.
In addition to my Nancy-Drew-like search for products, I took into consideration external factors that could dramatically change how I style my hair. Drastic changes in climate and in lifestyle, were definitely things I considered (a twist out could turn into an unruly fro, real quick). So I set out to discover new styles and maintenance routines that would benefit my never ending hair journey and correspond with the lifestyle I plan to engage in while living in Cape Town.
Here’s how I adjusted my U.S. natural hair care regimen to fit my new life in South Africa.
Step 1: Establishing My Goal
Prior to beginning my search, I thoroughly read all the ingredients for my favourite American haircare products. Products that contained various natural oils, organic goods, and no sulfate, were at the top of my list. Even though I’m almost seven years removed from the addictive application of creamy crack (perm products), I am still engaged in the never ending journey of restoring and maintaining my natural hair texture and health. I decided to adjust my primary goal to find new routines and products that would aid in hair growth, increased thickness, moisture retention, and defined curls. Additionally, I hoped to support local entrepreneurship through finding products that were proudly South African made.
Step 2: Researching Products and Experts
The internet is truly a beautiful thing. Youtube and Google were my go-to sources for information on South Africa’s natural hair movement. I spent hours watching videos, reading snappy, yet, hilarious comments, and searching for retailers that carried the products I was interested in. Blogs like NaturalHair.co.za and Youtube channel, You Me Naturally, provided valuable insight on everything from wash day routines to colour safety tips. I also gathered suggestions through drilling women with natural hair I spotted out and about.
Step 3: Sourcing Products
Although I managed to find my favorite American shampoo and conditioner at a local salon in Cape Town (Mizani True Textures), I found that many of their ingredients were not as natural or organic as the products I’d come across in my new research. This inspired me to start from scratch. I placed all of my American products (aside from my magical detangling leave in, Kinky-Curly Knot Today) on the shelf. Then I purchased shampoo, conditioner, and a curling cream from Curl Chemistry, and hair strengthening oil from My Natural (both South African brands). Between ordering online and visiting my local Clicks, the process of sourcing was surprisingly easy.
Step 4: Testing Products & Styles
Because of Cape Town’s windy climate it was important that I keep moisture in my hair to prevent the wind from drying it out. In conjunction with my new moisture retention products, I adopted a more disciplined approach to spraying my hair with water daily, washing my hair every two weeks, as opposed to every week, and eating healthier meals to promote hair strength. Protective styling was also a major key. Braiding was my go to method of protective styling. My first experience with braiding in Cape Town was very pleasant. Through a friend I found a hair dresser who had a touch so light that if I allowed people to touch my hair (which I don’t), I would not have suffered the scrutinising pain of the 48-72 hour post-hair braiding trauma.
Step 5: Living with My Choices
Looking at myself in the mirror after adopting new products in to my regimen is always an intimidating process. I over analyse and critique every noticeable difference in my hair to the point of exhaustion. Over the years I’ve learned to give newness a chance to settle in before I measure a product’s true success. As I’m only a month in to settling into my new home and haircare regimen, I’m still waiting to discover what both Cape Town and its products have in-stored for me.