Feel like a natural woman

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  • Natural Hair Snob Lennette Warner with her favourite natural hair products made locally by Charmaine Russell (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Natural Hair Snob Lennette Warner with her favourite natural hair products made locally by Charmaine Russell (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

  • Lennette Warner with her natural hair grown out (Photograph supplied)

    Lennette Warner with her natural hair grown out (Photograph supplied)

  • Lennette Warner's daughter DeZhane West also let her hair go natural (Photograph supplied)

    Lennette Warner's daughter DeZhane West also let her hair go natural (Photograph supplied)

Lennette Warner’s hair was long and thick when she was little.

Nobody wanted to touch it.

Her family eventually tasked hairdressers with the job. First it was straightened with a hot comb and chemical relaxing came a few years later.

When she decided to “go natural” nearly a decade ago, the 45-year-old couldn’t remember what her unprocessed hair was like.

“It had been so long since I’d seen it,” she said.

Still, she moved ahead with her plan after being inspired when reading about the natural hair movement on social media.

“I was very interested,” she said. “It’s about more than just hair. For so long, black women were told natural hair wasn’t good enough.

“I’ve seen stories where a journalist in the United States was told she had to hot-press her hair because the natural look wasn’t appropriate for television.

“Now a lot of women are embracing their natural hair, and they’re feeling more self-confident as a result.”

Although cutting her hair short would have made the transition easier, she resisted. Eventually she got tired of maintaining the two textures and gave in.

“I didn’t want to do that because I’d always had long hair,” Ms Warner explained. “The hardest thing about going natural is just figuring out what works for you. There are so many different textures of hair.

“Mine is quite curly, but some people’s hair is thick and almost straight. Some hair has a Z-shape to it or a slight wave.”

She kept a journal that first year to document her process and friends urged her to start a Facebook page to share what she was learning.

“I was just learning, but I had advice for everyone else with natural hair,” she said. “My friends jokingly called me the ‘natural hair snob’.”

She officially took on the moniker in 2011, starting Hair Nette (The Natural Hair Snob) on Facebook. She also started an Instagram page @hairnettebda.

Her nearly 600 followers are eager to see how she maintains chemical-free hair and learn about hairstyles and natural products.

At her day job, People’s Pharmacy, she’s known as ‘the natural hair guru’ and customers frequently ask for her advice.

She’s quick to point out that when she first tried going natural, about 20 years ago, it didn’t stick.

“Back then, there was very little information about it and very few natural hair products on the market,” she said.

“I think I used conditioner and brown gel, that’s it.”

With the natural hair movement going strong, the opposite is true today.

“There are so many products out there, it can be overwhelming,” she said. “Most people find a product that works and stick to it.

“I am constantly combing the internet for good reviews of products. I look for women with different hair textures. What works for one person may not work for another.

“I take things home to try. If my customers buy something I haven’t tried, I urge them to come back and tell me how they used it and whether it worked for them.”

Sometimes her customers are a little suspicious of her advice because they have a different hair texture from hers.

“My daughter, DeZhane West, is my guinea pig,” Ms Warner said. “She has much straighter, thicker hair than I do so I use different products on both our hair to see how they work. My hair takes lighter products, but hers takes heavy butters and creams to keep it moisturised.”

The one downside to natural hair is that it’s not necessarily a moneysaver. Keeping natural hair properly moisturised is a challenge and the products can be expensive.

A favourite of Ms Warner’s is the Surishae Co line by Bermuda’s Charmaine Russell.

“She started with shea butters for the skin and now she has moved into hair,” she said. “She has a shampoo and conditioner, and a hair oil I haven’t tried yet.

“I like that you can use her conditioner as a deep treatment. The products to take care of your hair can cost money too,” she said.

Her biggest mistake, so far, was when she tried to colour her hair this summer.

“I was experimenting with bleach,” she said. “I wanted to lighten the ends of my hair and add colour.

“I wanted to use the colour stripper before using the bleach. I’d seen a woman do it on YouTube and her hair was fine afterward.

“It turned into a disaster because my ends went completely straight. It looked like I was transitioning out of a relaxer.”

She had to go through the big chop all over again.

“It’s growing out now,” she said. “It wasn’t a big deal. I’m not as attached to my hair as I used to be.”

Ms Warner is also a contributor to the Good Curls Club Facebook page run by Davika Hill.

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Published Sep 13, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 7:07 am)

Feel like a natural woman

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