I will start my hair story around circa 2011. I walked into my hairdresser’s salon on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I relaxed in what I knew was no less than a 4 hour wait until my turn for a perm/retouch. She told me she had a new perm and insisted I try it, being the adventurous one, of course I obliged.
When it was my turn, she proceeded to apply this amazing new perm to my hair, she sung it praises. I was optimistic. Not long after applying I noticed it started to burn, ‘quicker than normal’ I thought. I told her, she asked where it burned, then proceeded to spray the section with oil sheen, as she advised, ‘it wasn’t processed yet’. ‘A little longer’ I thought, under the weight of the burning sensation. Not even five minutes later, I felt like Mount Vesuvius was erupting from my scalp, I demanded she wash it out right then or I’d do it myself. When the process of washing, drying, and straightening had finished, I had the most silky hair I had ever experienced in my life. I fell in love. Like childbirth, I completely disregarded the pain I encountered only a couple of hours ago, I had found my perm!
Fast forward a few months, I permed my hair once ever 6 weeks, I noticed my hair getting thinner and thinner, but, it was nice and straight, like bone straight! I didn’t care, it looked like what I thought I wanted!
One day, about 6 months later, as I sat in the chair for yet another perm session, I took the container and started reading the ingredients. I had gotten really interested in what I used on my skin around that time, and I was reading every ingredient label I could get my hands on. On this momentous day, I noticed that one of the ingredients was the same ingredient I saw on a drain unblocker (I told you I was reading every list I could get my hands on…) ammonium thioglycolate.
Now, why in the name of all things purple was the active ingredient in a drain unblocker, the same active in my hair perm? The drain unblocker dissolves grime, melts it so that it can pass through the pipes. Is my hair being melted?
The fact that the person applying the perm to my hair needed to wear gloves and a mask never occurred to me that this is a potentially dangerous product being applied to my hair and scalp (I’ll chalk it up to young naivety and societal pressure to conform).
I consulted cousin Google, it wasn’t looking good for the perm. After my protracted session at the hairdresser I didn’t feel so bright eyed and bushy tailed. My source of hair satisfaction for the past few months was now a source of discontent. What have I been putting on my hair? What damage have I done to my brain? It’s been years since I’ve been perming, what am I going to do now? Now that I know, I have to do something about it, but what?
I got home and started consulting research sites such as PubMed and Google Scholar. I was horrified. There and then, I went cold turkey. From that day in late 2012, my hair never had to undergo another perm torture again.
That was when the real wake up call came.
Returning to my natural state was a total mind-fuck. I had no idea what I was doing. Yes, I could wash my hair, but barely could I do much else. For years, I was in the hairdresser weekly, washing, drying, manipulating. Since I was thirteen someone else was paid to look after my hair, prior to that, my mom braided it weekly, it was never my responsibility. As a black woman reading this, I’m sure you can relate. Caring for our hair has always been someone else’s problem. Returning to its natural state was now on me, my responsibility.
I was on my own.
I had to learn and I had to learn fast, how to take responsibility for what’s on my head and how to care for it. I turned to cousin Youtube. The information was overwhelming, and of course I gravitated to the hair bloggers with wispy, defined curls because that’s what I wanted. Here I go again…
You see, I’d been manipulating my hair for so many years, I felt that I could still carry on that toxic behaviour with my now unprocessed hair. Oh she wasn’t having it! Nothing worked, no product, no style advice, nothing. I was straddling two textures at the time (perm and natural), imagine my predicament!
One day, after spending hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on hair products, none of which worked, all piled up in my bathroom and any other space I could find to stash them, I said enough was enough. No more products, no more trying to make my hair into someone else’s idea, time to listen to my natural and give it what it needed, that was around late 2012 to early 2013.
I had been making my own skincare products by then, my daughter had sensitive skin and I didn’t trust what was in baby products so I made products for us to use. I thought, I make skincare products, I should try making my own haircare products and see if that makes a difference. They weren’t the best, to be honest, but they helped me manage my hair at that stage.
In early to mid 2013 I went through a bad patch, I felt like things were out of my control and the only thing I could control was my hair, I didn’t want to deal with it, so I cut it. For me it wasn’t just a big chop, it was a massive life change, my hair had never been that short, ever! It was a new start and I loved it! For the first time, I met my true texture, ooh baby! Who knew I had curls!
Short hair was easy, I washed it daily, moisturised and off I went! I experimented with colour and because it was so easy, I kept cutting. I wore a short tapered cut for about 3 years, then decided to let it grow.
Whilst it was short I must admit, I didn’t take much care of it. I was busy being a mom, working full time and keeping house. I proceeded to bleach and colour my hair to an inch of its life. This resulted in It becoming dry, damaged and parched.
When I decided to regrow my hair, I knew I had to do it from a different mindset. I now knew my texture, yes it was very damaged, but I knew I could return it to glory. This time round I worked from a place of patience and acceptance. Instead of wanting the curls of the YouTube stars, I nurtured my own.
I got better at making my own hair products and I continued using them as I couldn’t find anything on the market that helped me retain moisture. I protective styled my hair once per week, wore box braids on occasion and that made a difference. I still had my bleached ends that I was clipping as I go but that wasn’t enough, I had a lot of split ends from the damage. It felt like my hair was stagnant and wasn’t growing, but I hadn’t realised it was due to the breakage.
I eventually cut the bleached ends off but as I had held onto the damaged ends in the name of length for so long, the rest of my hair was also experiencing the damage. I was so frustrated I decided to cut my hair again, another big chop, start afresh.
On a visit to my mom in the US, I told her I was poised to shave it all off, go bald, she suggested I didn’t and offered that I should find another way.
You see, in the summer of 2018 as I sat at my mom’s dining table, I came up with an idea to make an oil that will help my scalp to stimulate growth and make my hair generally healthier. As the list of oils poured through my brain, I wrote them down then started researching, you must understand how shocked I was to find that those oils were actually potent food for the hair and scalp.
I bought the oils, made a batch and started using it. By the first week I was in love. It made combing my hair a breeze as it felt so much softer. I made a batch for my mom and sister and they were in love! They noticed hairs growing in parts of their head that was long thought to never regrow due to damage.
I truly had no intention to, but I thought, this has to be shared with others like me, if I had this issue, others will too, and this oil could be just what they need to get their hair back on track to great health. That was the birth of Holpura.
I felt like my formulation skills needed a bit of upgrading so I enrolled in a Natural Cosmetics formulating course with one of the top schools in the world. It has been an amazing journey thus far and I am at the emergence.
Creating haircare is a challenging task. It is challenging because we have a myriad of textures and all have their own needs. What has made it even more challenging is my insistence on ensuring the products are made from plant-based ingredients. I chose to do this because we’ve tried the other options and for the most part they don’t work, so why keep doing the same thing whilst expecting a different result?
The products offered throughout Holpura whether for hair or skin has the same ethos, premium quality ingredients from nature, full transparency, free from animal testing, being mindful of the planet and I offer nothing I wouldn’t use on myself or my family. Actually, my family are usually my testers!
I experience what you experience, and I will use my knowledge to make better products to help you take better care of your hair and skin.
If you want to connect with me, leave a comment below or find me on our Facebook page. I offer hair consultations, using the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years to help women who find themself in a similar position to where I was. You don’t need to struggle alone like I did, I am here to help you, book a session with me here.
Until next time,
Be Great x