The third in the series of Our Natural Hair Story is with Tayo Ikumelo who decided to cut her hair and remain natural after it was badly damaged by years of using relaxers. She has now found her happy place with her hair and wishes to keep it forever natural.
Be inspired by her experience!
S: Please introduce yourself!
T: I’m Tayo, 23 years old and recently graduated from the University of Sussex where I studied Law with American Studies. I’m currently pursuing a career in the Education sector, with aims to become a Teacher in the near future. My interests lay heavily in the Charity sector- Project Afrique(a charitable organisation which I founded two years ago alongside a very good friend of mine, Bernadette Nartey), is one of my top priorities. We have many plans for Project Afrique, all of which we’ll work to achieve by God’s grace!
My favourite thing to do is travel. I love meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and just having fun. Of course, the beautiful weather and scenery add to the whole experience too.
S: Why did you do the big chop?
T: I cut my hair because it was breaking and I wanted a fresh start.
S: Why did you decide to keep it short and natural?
T: Because I like it like this and feel comfortable. It’s like I’ve found my signature hairstyle. Everyone tells me not to grow my hair. I feel like when I wore weaves, it wasn’t me, but because I didn’t know any better I just kept doing it. And now I’ve found this, it’s like I’m coming into myself.
S: Would you say you’re part of the natural hair movement?
T: 100%! I always encourage girls to cut their hair and go natural. As Black people, our hair is naturally curly, so why force it to be straight? That’s one of the reasons my hair started breaking, because I was trying to get it to be something it was not.
S: Do you think you’re perceived differently now your hair is short and natural?
T: I am actually. A lot of people now think I’m East African. I never got that before. Some think I model, but I don’t. A lot of people say I remind them of other celebs that have their hair short, which I think is a compliment. I think I get more attention now my hair is short. When I had my hair in weaves, no one really used to comment.
Also, lots of strangers comment on my hair, like asking where I got it done or saying they’re also contemplating cutting their hair; and I tell them to do it.
S: Will you ever go back to relaxers or texturisers?
T: Never! No way.
S: How do you style your hair regularly?
T: I use a gel and products like Dark and Lovely, Cantu. I wash my hair in the morning, and then apply oils like castor oil or coconut oil, then other products. Finally, I use a DIY sponge for the curls.
S: What’s your process for keeping healthy hair?
T: Moisturise every day, eat well, and drink lots of water because what goes into your body will be seen on the outside.
S: What are your favourite products?
T: I like the Cantu range, Taliah Waajid and Shea Moisturiser. I try to stay away from products with lots of chemicals as much as I can.
S: What do you think of the natural hair community and do you follow any online groups?
T: I just support the movement and encourage girls to cut their hair, but I wouldn’t say I’m strongly part of it. For me, this is just how my hair is, this how my hair was when I was born, and this is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life. I don’t think of it as a movement.
I’m not part of any groups but I like watching people style their hair on You Tube and follow a lot of pages on Instagram.
S: What advice will you give to someone contemplating going natural?
T: Just go for it and not let anyone talk you out of it, because when I was going to cut my hair, lots of people tried to talk me out of it, and now, it’s the same people that say it looks very good. So don’t listen to anyone. If you want to do it, do it. If you don’t, don’t! You make the decision, and if you don’t like it at first, that’s fine.
When I first cut mine, I didn’t like it at all. You’ll have to grow into the hair style. Like when I first cut it, my hair was black but I’ve dyed it to so many different colours and experimented a lot. So don’t be afraid to experiment with colours and cuts.
Just go for it!
Cheers to another inspirational experience on going natural! Most times in the natural hair community, we’re obsessed with how long we can grow our hair, so it’s refreshing to see another natural who is fine with her short curls and loving it like a house on fire!
We salute you Tayo, keep on inspiring many a naturals to come 🙂
Follow Tayo on Instagram
Check out Project Afrique and support their drive to help orphans in West Africa.
Photography by A Oguns Photography
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