Fashion model cum makeup artist and model trainer, Mrs. Otobong Smart Usanga, CEO of Otis Makeup Artistry,takes us through her own experience keeping and grooming her natural hair for 2 years and how it make her feel more African.
Find out her regrets, hair care routine and more on #Naturalista.
Hypestation Nigeria: Why natural hair?
Otobong Smart: I had always had issues with relaxers. They used to burn my scalp down before my hair gets relaxed so a friend of mine who was already natural motivated me to do so too but then it sounded awkward because natural hair was not really in trend here in Nigeria (she stayed in the US). I decided to try and I really had peace with that so I made it permanent.
Hypestation Nigeria: Looking at how long and hard it is to maintain natural hair, what motivates you to keep going with the decision?
Otobong Smart: Long, yes considering the fact that I have stunted hair. It really takes a while for it to grow long but it’s never been an issue for me. Hard? I wouldn’t say it’s hard for me. Depends on how one looks at it. I mean if it’s something you really want to do and you set your heart to it then you will not see it as hard.
Hypestation Nigeria: What is your natural hair care routine like?
Otobong Smart: I wash every other week, deep condition once or twice a month depending. I spritz every day. My spritz spray bottle contains water and few drops of essential oils (I use olive and coconut oils). Spritzing helps my hair retain moisture which is very essential for natural hair so that it doesn’t break.
Hypestation Nigeria: Are there any special products for natural hair? If yes, what are they?
Otobong Smart: Special products? No and yes. There are a wide variety of natural hair products. You have to discover what works well for you so you have personalized products for your own hair. Now that’s special… I personally use raw Shea butter mixed with my essential oils and sometimes I use my oils when I’m doing the LOC method (LOC – Liquid, Oil, and Cream). I also use Shea Moisture JBCO Leave in Conditioner and Beauty Moisture Olive instant Conditioner. Any shampoo without Sulphate would do as Sulphate strips natural hair of moisture.
Hypestation Nigeria: Would you advice a friend to go natural? And what would be your reasons?
Otobong Smart: Going natural is by choice. I can only encourage by sharing my hair journey story, it might inspire the person to start theirs.
Hypestation Nigeria: How does natural hair influence your personality?
Otobong Smart: Being natural makes me feel more African. Like yeah, am black and am proud. So I would hold my head up high and take the compliments with pride.
Hypestation Nigeria: How long have you been keeping it?
Otobong Smart: I have been keeping this hair for 2 years now. Before this, I lost my one year hair to my wedding. Then nobody knew how to style natural hair especially for brides. So my hair stylist insisted I should relax my hair. It’s something I still regret to this day.
Hypestation Nigeria: Are there any health or hygiene hazards involved in growing natural hair?
Otobong Smart: Not to my knowledge.
Hypestation Nigeria: What is the biggest challenge when it comes to natural hair?
Otobong Smart: Having to style it when you are not on protective style (braids, weaves or twists)
Hypestation Nigeria: Your advice to people out there growing their natural hair.
Otobong Smart: Don’t give up too soon. Just find out what works best for you and put your mind to it and you’ll see it’s easier than you thought. Good luck on your hair journey.