Tag Archives: ijeoma

The Future of Natural Hair Care

Hi Loves,

I cannot believe that it is already mid-November and the year is almost over! Where does the time go? I had so many plans at the start of the year for my hair and my blog, but I’ve realized that sometimes life has a different plan for you and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. I apologize for my absence. The fire in my heart was raging today, so I had to post!

Where have I been? Basically, I’ve been in the same place physically, but in a new space mentally. I spent most of the year reflecting on what I really want to do in life and trying to better understand my larger purpose. Though I’m not 100% sure yet, gaining some clarity has put my mind at ease. Then, I spent the second half of the year training for the New York City Marathon, an experience that was life changing for more reasons than one. I still can’t believe that I ran 26.2 miles and I am so thankful for my amazing team, Athletes to End Alzheimer’s for supporting me each step of the way. They say if you want to learn about yourself, run a marathon. I dare you.


As for the main purpose of this post, how is my natural hair? This past weekend I had the opportunity to “play” with my natural hair for the first time in 2-3 months and my emotions went from 0 to 100; the process went from feeling fun to frustrating almost immediately. Wash day has literally become wash weekend – a nightmare. For context, I kept my hair in a protective style for 12 weeks. Underneath my clip-in extensions, my hair was braided in cornrows. I spent Friday night taking out the cornrows and washing/ detangling/ deep-conditioning my hair. I spent Saturday blow-drying and trimming my hair. I spent Sunday getting my hair re-braided at the salon and prepping my new clip-ins for the installation (dyeing, washing, and conditioning). That was my whole weekend in a nutshell. The longer my hair grows, the more difficult it becomes to manage. In regards to the health of my hair, I cannot complain because it has been thriving. I no longer have any dyed pieces of hair, heat damage, or noticeable breakage in my crown. Blowing out my hair allowed me to see how much my hair has grown and how healthy it is! See pictures below!

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Despite this amazing progress, more recently I’ve found myself ranting about my natural hair to my girl friends, guy friends, family members… basically anyone who will listen to me speak or give me a platform, with more passion and higher frequency. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on my hair, an investment that has not generated any monetary reward for myself, but has the potential to inspire, uplift, and empower women all over the world. I even called my mom this weekend to semi-apologize for giving her a hard time about relaxing my hair when I was only five years old. Being six years natural and shedding real tears as an adult while trying to comb my hair finally made me realize why she did what she did. It even made me wonder how my future self can raise a daughter with 4c, afro-textured natural hair and still maintain my sanity. Moms are the real MVPs! But does that make my Mom’s actions and those of other Black women who follow suit justified? No. How companies can justify selling hair products with the same chemicals used to unclog drains is beyond me. And the fact that we turn to these products out of convenience is disheartening.

I’ve spent the last few months asking myself why my hair matters so much to me. My passion for natural hair is not in vain, but stems from the impact my hair had on my self-esteem growing up and how the lack of role models with hair like mine affected the opportunities that I pursued. Like many other African American women, I grew up in hair salons. I spent 15 years of my childhood and adolescence hiding behind chemical relaxers, braids, extensions, and hair that wasn’t mine because I was afraid and didn’t know how to take care of my hair. Anyone who thinks the discourse surrounding Black hair is simply about hair is missing the main point. The conversation is not about hair at all. In fact, it’s about identity, confidence, and acceptance, among other things. It’s about a marginalized group that was born into a situation that it cannot change but tries to figure out how to make the best of that situation with limited resources.

Six years ago I made a bold decision to cut off all of my hair and go natural on my quest to attain long hair of my own, backed by the support system I gained through the online natural hair community. My pursuit to obtain long hair is less about length and more about achieving a goal I was conditioned to believe was outside of my reach. As a young girl, with damaged, relaxed hair, my hair broke off faster than the rate at which it grew. Growing up, Black girls “didn’t have long hair.” I’ve been following several natural hair YouTube gurus on their journeys over the last few years. Many have taken similar paths, concluding the road to achieving long natural hair is not desirable or sustainable. So instead, some reverted back to relaxers or now maintain shorter hairstyles. I on the other hand, am not ready to call it quits.

Though the natural hair trend has surged in recent years, many women remain uneducated about hair care or simply do not have the time to dedicate to such care. Seeking convenience, they have become heavily dependent on weaves, wigs, and extensions. But, by increasing demand for these items, they’ve created a marketplace that, in my opinion, does more harm than good by charging African American women exorbitant fees for products that they’ve been taught are central to their identities. I’ve conducted some research of my own, and though it’s not conclusive, it does shed some light on an imbalance in the hair care industry: Black women are willing to spend more on their hair. In one example, an ethnic hair conditioner by a multinational brand costs $9.99 for a 13.5oz bottle ($0.74/ oz) from Target; meanwhile a similar hair conditioner by a mainstream brand costs $2.67 for a 13oz bottle ($0.21/ oz). Black hair care is not only more time consuming, but in most instances it is also more costly.

Do we really need another natural hair product line on the market with a new oil unknown to mankind? – Absolutely not. What we need is a hair care company that is sensitive to the Black hair experience. A company that can create innovative solutions to deliver the most value to the vast community it serves in the form of high quality products and hair extensions at a low cost. A company that views solving this challenge as its ethical duty. A company that realizes it cannot change how our hair grows out of our heads, but sees a unique opportunity to facilitate a less burdensome experience rooted in research and compassion. We need to change the narrative around Black hair care for women. We need to create programs that support and teach young girls how to care for and maintain their natural hair from an early age. We need to build businesses that capitalize on the opportunity without serving as a detriment to our wallets or our communities.

I dream of a day when the Black hair care experience is more manageable, commoditized and normalized, not costly, exploitative and time consuming. Nowadays, I try to spend less time styling my natural hair and more time understanding how to solve our problems. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Thank you for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts.


Ijeoma ❤

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Heat Free Hair Extensions Review

Hey loves!

Apologies for the extended time away from my blog and the lack of hair updates. I cannot believe it has been over a year since I wrote on here… I am definitely still passionate about natural hair. I’m not even sure if anyone actually reads this blog in real life, but I owe a special shout out to all of my wonderful friends who reminded me that I have a blog and who have been encouraging me to post more and keep my passion for natural hair alive. I love you all and thank you for inspiring me each day! 🙂 

So much happened in 2015! I traveled to Ghana & Dubai, switched jobs and my brother married the love of his life, among many other blessings.

59Photo taken on a Desert Safari in Dubai.

60.jpg Photo taken in Macola Market in Accra, Ghana.

53.jpgPhoto of my siblings and I at my brothers wedding. (Green, white, green for Naija)


2015 was also a struggle year for my natural hair. I quietly celebrated my 5 year post-big chop natural hair anniversary back in July and although my hair has grown a lot over the last 5 years, it is still not where I expected it to be (in terms of length and health). In the beginning of the year, I experienced serious breakage in my crown area following an extremely cold, dry winter. I still cannot pinpoint the exact cause of the breakage, although I’m convinced that it was either due to dry hair from the cold weather or too much manipulation from my self-installed Havana twists and my failed attempt at crochet braids (which I will never do again). As I result, I decided to keep my hair in protective styles for the rest of 2015 to give my hair a chance to grow back. I spent the first half of the year with my hair in box braids (which sadly, I will probably never do again… at least not any time soon. I love my edges too much to deal with the wahala that comes with braids and African hair braiding salons that do not know how to work with natural hair). I spent the second half of the year wearing my hair in extensions (clip-in extensions and a straight weave sew-in). There is so much I want to share with you about my hair, but the rest of this update will focus on my experience with the Heat Free Hair extensions.


Over the summer I decided I wanted to try a new protective style that would give my hair a much needed break. In the past, I always had the most success with my hair when fully protected, so I was torn between a wig, a sew-in, and clip-ins. I decided not to purchase a wig because I was scared it would appear too fake. I also wanted to be able to wash the hair often and reach my scalp easily which is why I chose the clip-ins over the sew-in. I sought clip-in extensions that matched my natural hair texture, so that I could easily blend my leave out with the hair. A friend recommended the Heat Free Hair company to me, which was founded by a fellow Nigerian, Ngozi Opara. Since I love supporting everything Nigerian, especially Nigerian women entrepreneurs, I decided to give the hair a try.
I am not going to lie to you, this hair is extremely expensive. As in, my bank account cried real tears after purchasing this hair. I would go on my rant about how the black hair care industry charges unconscionable prices, but I’ll save that conversation for another time. I could not find many YouTube videos reviewing this hair, so I was definitely hesitant to buy it. But after a few weeks of researching I decided to purchase two packs of the “For Kurls Clip-Ins”, both in 24 inches (130g). Click here for more information on the hair. (I won’t write how much I paid on here in case my mom is reading this) What I like about Heat Free Hair is that they give you a few different hair texture options through their different collections, “For Kinks,” “For Koils,” and “For Kurls.” Even though my hair is 4c, and super coarse, I bought the 3c – 4a hair since I wanted a looser hair texture. The hair shipped immediately and arrived via USPS mail in 7 days.
Below is a picture of the hair I received.
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Each pack of clip-ins was packed in a box which included a card with detailed hair care instructions. I cannot remember the exact number of clips in each pack… It is probably between 5-7 pieces of all different widths. After opening the package, I washed and conditioned the hair… even though the hair did not smell, I figured this was standard practice. Because the hair was brown and did not match my hair color, I dyed it black with Revlon box dye and re-washed/ conditioned it days later. I got my hair natural hair cornrowed at a hair salon, left a little bit of leave-out in the front and along the sides, and installed the clip-ins. At first it was very difficult to blend my natural hair with the clip-ins. I tried two-strand twisting the leave out with Shea Moisture’s Curl & Style Milk, but realized that because this product is a water based moisturizer, my natural hair became frizzy quickly and would not stay defined. I had better luck blending my hair when I used an oil based/ butter product like Carols Daughter Loc Butter or As I Am Double Butter Cream, which I highly recommend. Below are a few pictures of me doing shakara with the hair.
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To maintain the hair, I usually spray it with water and conditioner (I mainly use 3 conditioners: Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In, Aussie Moist, and Organix Coconut Milk) and put it in 3-5 large twists every night. When I am feeling lazy, I pack the hair into a low bun and sleep with a satin scarf. I do not recommend this since the hair gets very dry and the curls lose their definition after a few days. On most nights,  I either finger detangle or use a Denman brush and re-twist. Every two weeks, I remove the clip-ins and wash/ detangle them. Sometimes I only use shampoo, sometimes I only use conditioner. The hair tangles and it sheds a lot (as with most kinky hair textures). I am hoping the hair can last me at least a year, although due to the shedding and the constant loss of hair, I am not sure if it will. The hair is definitely less full than it was when purchased, and I have been wearing the hair consistently for the last 4 months.
To blend my leave out, I put my hair in 4-5 two strand twists each night using the products mentioned above. I let them dry over night, unravel with some oil and blend with the hair which is relatively simple. Re-twisting my hair and the clip-ins every night is what I dislike most about this hair style. It is definitely tiring, time consuming, and high maintenance.
Below you will find a quick summary of my pros and cons:
– Easy to blend
– Curls are soft and easy to define
– Clip-ins easy to attach and remove (do not snag your hair)
– Beautiful texture
– High quality hair
– Versatile (Apparently you can also straighten, blow dry, and curl the hair, although I have never tried it)
– Unreasonably expensive (clip-ins range from $189 – $239)
– Hair gets dry very easily
– Needs constant moisture
– Hair sheds significantly with every wash
My final thoughts on the hair is that while it is not gold, it definitely makes me feel like Beyoncé.
In all seriousness though, it is definitely an investment that requires careful thought before purchasing. I love the way the hair looks and I have received so many compliments. My natural hair is definitely thriving underneath this protective style. But, as someone who is gainfully employed, this hair is way too expensive. My next protective style for the beginning of 2016 will most likely be a wig… but more to come!
As always, thanks for reading and for all of the support! Happy New Year!
Miss Ije ❤
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Nigerian Natural Hair Tag

Hi Loves,

I decided to use some of my free time over the holidays to film a few natural hair videos. Check out the Nigerian Natural Hair Tag below! More videos and posts coming this week!

Miss Ije

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Wash Day Regimen

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to post about my hair regimen and I planned to post this sooner… sorry for the delay.

Before I tell you about my regimen, I will tell you a little bit about my hair. I am 100% Nigerian and my hair is extremely coarse, nappy, kinky, coily, and wiry in its natural state. If you follow the hair typing system, I would describe it as 4c with 50%-75% shrinkage. Both my mom and my sister have thin, fine, soft hair… but somehow, I ended up with the polar opposite. I have a full head of hair; my hair is thick, dense, and super dry. Whenever I go out, people (Nigerian guys especially) ask to touch my hair. Its softness surprises them, which is a good indicator that my moisturizing techniques/ products work well for my hair. Below are two old pictures that help give you a sense of my hair’s thickness and texture.

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Regardless of what stage of your natural hair journey you are in, you should develop a hair regimen that works for you and maintain it for a few weeks or months to assess your results. Like any good experiment, you must conduct multiple tests over time. When I first big chopped, I laid out a few simple hair rules and followed them religiously. For newly naturals who recently big-chopped and are feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret. Natural hair is really easy to manage if you keep things simple. Less is definitely more. As long as you understand a few basic concepts about how hair grows and what it takes to retain length, you will have long hair before you know it.

Tips for Newly Naturals

1. Carve out a few hours every 1-2 weeks to dedicate to “Wash Day.” For me, this day is usually a Friday evening after work and usually takes 2-4 hours from start to finish. Dedicating one day to do your hair helps eliminate unnecessary manipulation during the week and promotes consistency, which leads to results. I generally wash my hair every week, or every other week depending on my schedule.
2. Find products that work for your hair. I think every regimen should contain 6 essential products: a cleansing shampoo, a detangling conditioner, deep conditioner, liquid moisturizer/ leave-in, styling product, and an oil. It is okay to be a product junkie… the only way to determine what works for your hair is to try a bunch of products. Natural hair care is all about trial and error. And what works for one person may not work for you, which is why it is important to learn your own hair.
3. Only comb your hair on wash day with a wide tooth comb when it is wet/ saturated with conditioner. Combing hair dry leads to breakage. If you must detangle during the week, gently use your fingers. It is good to develop habits that keep your hands out of your hair as much as possible.
4. Always sleep with a satin bonnet, scarf or pillow case. This will help your hair retain moisturize and prevents friction which can break your hair.

My Natural Hair Care Routine

Being natural for four years has taught me the importance of not only maintaining a consistent regimen, but also adapting it periodically to account for change. Although my hair is at a decent length now, I probably could have retained more length if I adjusted my wash regimen sooner.

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The night before wash day,  I unpin my twisted undo and finger-detangle each two strand twist using coconut oil from tip to root. I combine two smaller twists into one twist, so by the time I finish this process, I have a total of 8 large twists (4 on the right side, 4 on the left). It generally takes me about 1 hour to section off my hair and detangle. If your hair is still short, you can probably skip this step.

I only recently started washing my hair in sections last month, instead of piling my hair on top of my head and massaging my scalp. Because I used to wear my hair in box braids quite often, I never had to worry about this. However, I quickly realized that once your hair passes a certain length, washing your hair stretched and in sections is essential if you want to retain length. I shampoo my hair in the shower using a lower sulfate shampoo. Although sulfate shampoos strip moisture from your hair, I prefer shampoos with sulfates because I like my scalp to be squeaky clean. Since I have acne prone skin, I do not like product buildup or residue left from co-washing (“washing” hair with conditioner) lingering on my face. I use a quarter sized amount on each section and massage it through my scalp. I let the shampoo run through the entire length of the twist as I rinse and repeat for all 8 twists.

After shampooing, I step out of the shower to condition my hair. I unravel one twist, lather with conditioner, finger-detangle and re-twist. Because I also finger-detangle the night before, this step lets me catch any shed hairs I may have missed during the pre-poo. It is important to detangle your hair thoroughly and remove all shed hairs, so that they do not snag other hairs and cause tangles/ breakage. I repeat this process for all 8 twists, then rinse thoroughly in the shower.

I use either a moisture or protein based conditioner depending on my hair needs… sometimes I rotate weekly. I apply the deep conditioner to each twist and then sit under my Heutiful Hair Steamer for 20-40 minutes. In my opinion, this step is not necessary, however, I love the way it makes my hair feel… whether or not it actually makes a difference is questionable. Days when I do not feel like steaming my hair, I simply cover it with a shower cap and let it sit for an hour before rinsing.

After rinsing the deep conditioner out, I proceed to style my hair. I start by blotting my hair with a t-shirt instead of a towel (there is definitely a difference. I didn’t believe it at first, but the t-shirt method does not snag my hair or create frizz). I use the L.O.C Method to moisturize my hair. If you’re not familiar with this method, there is a ton of information about it online, so I won’t describe it in detail. In summary, it stands for liquid or leave-in, oil, cream and helps to maximize moisture retention. First I apply my favorite leave-in to damp hair, then I apply coconut oil, and lastly, I apply my cream, which is usually a hair milk or butter. I split each of the 8 sections into 2 two strand twists so that I end up with a total of 16 twists. I also apply a dime sized amount of castor oil on the ends of each twist. I pin the twists into an up-do that protects the ends and repeat the entire process weekly. (This is part of my “No Puff September Challenge”)

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I’m hoping that this new regimen helps me minimize breakage on wash day while maximizing length retention during the week. If you are feeling discouraged or need help creating a regimen, feel free to email me at ije.curltivate@gmail.com and I’ll gladly help!

Happy growing!

Miss Ije ❤

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First of all… introduction!

Hello my fellow naturals, non-naturals, thinking of becoming naturals, Naija Babes, and African Sistas! Thank you for visiting my new blog, Curltivate. My name is Ijeoma (Miss Ije) and I am an American born Nigerian from Imo State, Nigeria– Igbo Kwenu.

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I am a twenty-something year old young professional currently residing in NYC. I recently graduated from New York University and work within Finance at a Fortune 500 Company. In my free time (which is limited), I enjoy travelling, running, learning languages, graphic designing, drawing, mentoring, and connecting with other Africans in the Diaspora. When I am not listening to Naija jams or dancing Azonto, my family members would say that you can most likely find me locked in the bathroom styling my natural hair.



In its purest form, my natural hair is very dry, fragile, coarse, brittle, and prone to breakage. As a tender-headed child, my hair struggled mainly because it was non-malleable, difficult to comb and over manipulated. Struggle perms, braids, fake ponytails, and weaves cloaked my adolescence which led to severe damage to my hair and scalp and insecurity throughout high school. Thankfully, college is the perfect time for exploration and self discovery. After completing my freshman year, I decided to try something new. My friend Brittney formally known as Ms. Beauty Blogger on YouTube and my cousin Nneka both inspired me with their beautiful afros. So on July 4th, 2010 while most people celebrated America’s Independence Day, I locked myself in the bathroom, cut off all of my hair and finally gained emancipation from the creamy crack.

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I big-chopped right before my summer vacation to Nigeria and assumed that I would fit in since most young girls carried low cut afros while in boarding school… But, as a newly natural who last visited Nigeria ten years ago, what I saw and heard surprised me. I did not expect to see so many women wearing wigs, weaves and extensions and I hardly saw anyone with natural, unpermed hair; I also did not expect to hear so many Aunties asking, “When are you going to fix your hair.” See insult. Though the natural hair movement was growing in the U.S., at that time it did not have much traction in Nigeria.

Fast forward four years and I am impressed to see how much has changed. On my most recent trip to Nigeria in July of 2014, I received drastically different reactions from locals. This time, my natural hair fascinated the same Aunties who repeatedly asked if I was going to “fix my hair.” Instead, they greeted me with compliments (still mixed with some shade), “Chai this your hair dey too much oh,”  “you tried sha”, and they even thought that my natural hair was “attachment.”

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Hearing and witnessing changing attitudes and perceptions toward natural hair in Nigeria warms my heart. I created this website as a means to help promote and improve healthy, natural hair growth. I want Nigerian women and women with afro textured hair similar to mine to know that they can grow a healthy head of hair and feel omalicha (beautiful). Although I am a late contributor to the online natural hair community, I have been researching, learning, and documenting my experience over the past four years offline. I am finally ready to share my journey globally.

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No two journeys are the same… but I hope this blog teaches you something about natural hair care, inspires you to transition from relaxed to natural, encourages you to fully embrace your kinky fro in any environment, or simply keeps you entertained. I hope that you will join me on this mission to “Curltivate” natural hair in Nigeria, Africa, and the larger world!


Miss Ije

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