Africa

In pictures: My natural hair journey

Fify Loewen in August 2009, October 2012 and February 2015 Image copyright Fify Loewen

When Fify Loewen, a photographer from Botswana, decided to stop putting chemical relaxant on her hair, she had to confront the perception that natural hair is unkempt. But she also found that she couldn't even buy the products for natural hair in her country.

Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption Here I am 12 years ago. My first memory of getting my hair relaxed was aged four. I cried and hated the whole process but natural hair was seen as untidy and hard to maintain.

'Creamy crack'

Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption Some people call relaxants creamy crack. I don't, as I don't feel like I was addicted to them. I just used them because I didn't know there was another option.

'The Big Chop'

Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption I cut all my hair off after having my first baby. When people decide to stop relaxing their hair, most cut it all off and start again. This is called "The Big Chop" or the BC.

The long wait for hair to grow

Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption This is how fast my hair grew in the two years after The Big Chop. Some people see going natural as a political statement. For me it's just what I wanted to do.

The moisture retention challenge

Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption On Sundays I do a treatment using a blend of banana, avocado, raw honey, olive oil and coconut oil and put my hair in twists. I tried to buy commercial products for natural hair but they are hard to find in Botswana.
Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption Another way to stop the tips from drying out is to wear braids. Moisture is a big issue with natural hair. Moisture doesn't travel from the scalp to the ends so by hiding the tips they are protected.

'The length check'

Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption My hair is way longer than it looks because it shrinks. So I do the length check to get a sense of how long it has grown.

Pressure to look 'professional'

Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption I'm a photographer and I've been told I have exactly the hair you'd expect for someone who does a "creative" job like mine. But my friends with office jobs say they can't go to work like this as it isn't deemed professional.
Image copyright Fify Loewen
Image caption There's a perception that natural hair is unkempt. A bit of education needs to be done here. I know that natural hair can look neat too. People started asking me how I did my hair so I started a Facebook group. Over 1,000 people have joined.

And just in case you haven't had enough photos of Fify's hair journey...

Image copyright Fify Loewen

Tell us your homemade hair product recipes by commenting on Facebook or tweeting us using the hashtag #HairTalks.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani refuses to be judged by her hair

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites