Its Friday and time for another MHM Feature Today I’m excited to share TafaraMav’s journey. She’s another MHM’er that I consider a virtual sister and friend. I have really enjoyed following her journey through instagram. She has been great at documenting her journey and advocating for MHM. Throughout her own highs and lows with the regimen. Not only is her hair absolutely gorgeous, she also has a fierce sense of style and her makeup is always on Fleek
TafaraMav is a natural based in South Africa, which is a huge inspiration to international naturals, especially those based in Africa. International naturals usually have the hardest time finding good products for their hair as unfortunately the market hasn’t caught up and caters primarily to relaxed, caucasian and other looser textured hair. Also, unfortunately there is still this mentality especially in Africa that “African” hair has some limitations and for the most part is still regarded unprofessional, not presentable or “beautiful”. But that’s a whole other story in itself.
I hope you enjoy her journey as much as I have :)
How long have you been natural?
I cut off my relaxed ends in October 2012, so I’ve been natural for approximately 2 years and 4 months. I don’t consider myself to have transitioned per se although prior to the chop, I had stopped relaxing my hair when I found out I was pregnant at about 4 weeks. My hair was in protective styles until 5 months after I gave birth.
Why did you decide to go natural and what are your experiences being natural?
My reasons for going natural are no different to many naturals out there. I was tired of limp, fried hair that wouldn’t grow past my shoulders and kept breaking particularly along the perimeter of my hair; hairline, nape and sides. I had been toying with the idea of going natural for quite some time, but at the time I believed going natural meant getting locs and I just couldn’t see myself starting at the twa stage with those tiny little stumps all over my head, lol! It just wasn’t me. It had never occurred to me that I could grow out my own free natural hair. I started doing some internet research into natural hair and came across the blog, BlackGirlLongHair. From then on, I was hooked! I lived on that blog just drinking in the thousands of pictures of women rocking their natural hair. From then on my mind was pretty much made up. On the day of my big chop, I had washed my hair with regular shampoo and the relaxed ends had matted so badly. That was the push I needed and off they came!
I loved the short hair look! I had no idea how to take care of my natural hair, however, and had to learn from scratch. Blogs were a great learning tool for me and although the beginning of my journey was made of faltering steps and a whole lot of fumbling around and experimentation, I kept at it and have never looked back since. My sister told me it was a phase and it wouldn’t last. The one woman at a salon told me the same, but I’d just smile in response because I knew deep down this was a lifelong decision I had made. It`s now been two and some years and I can honestly say I have become a more authentic version of myself since the day of my decision. I`m still loving it.
Tell us a little bit about your hair, like your hair type, porosity, texture and length.
My hair is now armpit length and probably a little way past that. I last did a blow out for a length check six months ago on account of the max hydration method I am currently on. I don’t want to set myself back by using that kind of heat on my hair and also I want my new hair length to be a surprise and a gift to myself once I have reached maximum hydration. Weird, I know, lol. My hair is low porosity and the perimeter of my head has type 4a-b hair I believe; it doesn’t shrink as much as the rest of my hair and has a looser curl pattern, also it feels “silky”. The rest of my hair is type 4c and I identify myself as a type 4c natural. It is medium density and the texture is somewhere between fine and coarse, it`s not super fine nor super coarse.
So I want to share a little funny story. For the longest time, I did not want to know anything about hair porosity. The term intimidated me and I had decided, it was enough that I knew about my hair type and all these other crazy hair acronyms, I wasn’t about to concern myself with another term. And so despite coming across blog posts in which fellow naturals tried to tell me that knowing about hair porosity was more important than knowing about hair type, my eyes would just glaze over the text and I’d keep it moving. It`s a real shame because had I stopped to really give this topic some consideration, I would have come across the maximum hydration method sooner or at least taken some positive steps in the right direction of helping my hair really absorb moisture. Oh, but the folly of youth?!
What are some of your struggles (if any) being natural before MHM
To be honest, I never really had any real struggles before coming across the MHM as a natural. I am a Do-It-Yourself kind of person, I last stepped into a salon years ago and I’m fairly experimental so I was always willing to try new things. I mostly did protective styling with my own hair; twists, mini twists, loose twists, flat twists, updo`s etc. I can only count two times that I had Marley hair and one of those times, I installed the twists myself. I didn’t have any dryness issues or anything like that, I felt like I had reached a point where I knew how to manage the moisture levels of my hair.
The one thing that frustrated me, however, but that I refused to give up on until I got it right was the wash and go. Try as I might, I could just never get it right! I knew my hair had a curl pattern judging from how it looked when wet but I could just never lock that curl pattern in when it dried. I completely chose to disregard the notion that 4c hair can’t wash and go and I kept trying. Lord knows I would still occasionally be attempting to get it right and failing had my search on how to do a wash and go not led me to come across the, quite frankly, revolutionary awesomeness that is the MHM method! Can you tell that I’m a huge fan?
How did you find out about MHM and why did you decide to give it a try?
Like I said above, I came across it quite accidentally. I was researching on how to do a wash and go on 4c hair and came across a forum where PinkeCube mentioned the method and had posted before and after pictures of her own hair. After looking at those pictures and many others from different people on the method, you included, and even before reading the literature and science behind the method, I knew I wanted to try the method. When I did finally get around to reading up on the literature, it was like so many light bulbs came on for me. The method was scientifically sound and I just could not figure out why I had not across it sooner.
How long have you been doing the maximum hydration method?
I started the method on 12th August 2014 so just a little over 6 months now.
What are your experiences with MHM so far?
It`s been quite THE journey. I didn’t know I had the stick-with-it gene in me until I started on this method. Seeing the progress of my hair has been the one thing that has spurred me on to continue doing it. In the beginning I was mostly doing twist outs as I did not like the way my wash and go`s looked and honestly I still suffered from performance anxiety from the many failed attempts in the past. I decided just a month and half ago to fully commit to doing the wash and go as it was the only way I would learn and overcome the fear of failure and I’m happy to report that I have grown in leaps and bounds since making that decision.
I am determined to achieve maximum hydration despite the many challenges someone residing in South Africa like myself faces. We do not have any of the MHM approved conditioners or gels here and I have had to make do with what`s available. I`ve never let that stop me even from the beginning, although I suspect that a lack of use of the right products is the major reason why my progress has not been as fast as it “should be”. Don’t get me wrong, I am past the 50% point in terms of reaching maximum hydration and I am getting there but I do believe I could be seeing so much faster progress if I was strictly using the MHM approved products. As it is I have to make compromises and use conditioners with some of the “no-no” ingredients. For example we only have the new formulation of the Tresemme conditioner available here and you know what ingredients are in that bottle but it`s what I usually use. The one “botanical” conditioner I came across was so watery with no slip, I discarded it as it did absolutely nothing for my hair. I also came across an all-natural gel made from guar and xanthan gum and they must have paid absolutely no attention to the essential issue of percentages when it comes to xanthan gum in that formulation as my hair was a flaky mess. I also threw that in the bin.
On the plus side, isn’t it great how necessity is the mother of all invention? I had been using flaxseed gel throughout most of my MHM journey (I love this stuff by the way. It`s absolutely amazing for twistouts, I get such incredible shine and hold, no need to retwist overnight for me) but I found that once I started doing wash and go`s it was not giving me the desired hold nor shine. This led me to start creating my own all natural gel in my very own kitchen. It has great hold and I’ve managed to reduce the flaking to bearable levels but it`s still a work in progress. I`m quite excited about the possibilities with a product like that in a market starved of an all-natural gel that works for our hair type so hopefully something will come out of my kitchen mixing.
What are your views/experiences and maybe other people`s view of your hair before and after MHM.
I don’t remember who said this but someone mentioned how a lot of successful naturals who have not come across the MHM method and are pleased with their hair are actually really only managing their hair dryness levels. This resonated greatly with me. I was that natural believing I had a great hold on how to moisturize my hair as long as it felt soft. Since starting on the MHM however, I have realized the true meaning of moisturizing or hydrating my low porosity hair. Finally, I’m not just piling product onto my hair and having it just sit there, but I’m able to infuse moisture deep into the cortex. It is evident on the outside too; my hair is starting to absorb product much easier, it stays moisturized for longer, I have reduced frizz, my curl pattern is constantly being revealed and the curls hang more as the cortex becomes heavier from absorbing that hydration not to mention, my hair is slowly starting to exhibit a natural shine the more it gets hydrated. It`s really quite incredible especially when I compare my hair as it is now to how it was going in.
People`s response to my hair has been very positive, I get emails all the time and messages on my social media from women who want to know more about the method which is great. I am always willing to advise or refer wherever I can because a lot of naturals on this method have done the same for me. People like you Ms Deekay, PinkeCube, ProtectivePrincess and DubaiDee4c and more locally, my good friend FatsaniB also known as MixtressInTheKitchen, to mention a few. I`d honestly like to see a future where beautiful hydrated, type 4, hair is the norm and not just the exception.
I say if you are considering the method, go for it! Your hair will surprise you as you begin to unlock curls/coils you never thought you had or could have naturally and a very healthy natural shine. Don’t feel held back because you can’t find the “right” products. Just start from where you are with a good hold of the concepts behind the method and your hair will respond regardless. Remember it`s coming from a thirsty environment and being introduced to more moisture or hydration more frequently and it WILL respond positively to that.
And anything else you would like to add?
I’m so excited to announce that I am currently working on a few projects related to hair which my sisters in South Africa the diaspora will appreciate. I have a hair and beauty blog coming out soon and so if you follow me on any of my social media pages you`ll be able to witness the big reveal and hopefully join and interact with me as I take you on my journey.
Stay blessed guys and happy hydrating!
Thank you so much for sharing your story TafaraMav and I definitely look forward to your upcoming projects
Have a blessed weekend,