Find out how a Korean lady persuaded Mary to go natural!
Name: Mary Mkhonto
When and why did you go natural?
I went natural after a long hesitation but it took life changing journey to South Korea and hair disaster to change my mind. I had moved to Asia with my shoulder length healthy relaxed hair and I expected since my hair was already doing so well and I had a great hairdresser at home who kept it in check that everything would be smooth sailing in Korea once I found a good hairdresser. Little did I know that I would end up in the country in the middle of nowhere with no black hairdressers or products. I did get a friend who did save me a month later and take me into the big city and to so-called “hair dressers” who after 5 months of trusting them with my hair I ended up with short, damaged and excessively shedding hair. I was in tears about my hair and was out of options on how to fix especially because I had never fixed or done my own hair ever, repeat EVER. I always paid and trusted professionals to do that. On a random day in the city I bumped into a lovely South African girl at a hair product shop who told me she had a solution for me. She told me firmly that “I had to learn to take care of my own hair and stop relying on other people” because not knowing is what got me into the mess in the first place. She also suggested some online hair gurus that I could follow and not using chemicals in my hair anymore, at this time I still didn’t want to hear it. I did do my research as she suggested and watched the videos and started out looking after my hair better when after New Year ’s Day I bumped into a “hair vision”. It was an American girl with the most AMAZING flowing hair, nothing short of a walking L’Oreal Hair advert. Of course I stopped her in McDonalds and asked her how in the middle of Asia of all countries did she have such fabulous hair? She laughed and gave me the address of her Korean (believe it or not) hairdresser in another town. A few weeks later I was on a bus heading to this strange town to look for this miracle Asian hairdresser. Got so lost but ended up finding the place and I literally walked into a hair salon full of African American army wives with AMAZING mid-waist long healthy hair. I knew in that moment that I had found hair heaven in the middle of Asia. Ms. Kim is the owner and on that first day she gave me a full hair assessment and I explained my troubles where she informed me on how she would restore my crown back to its glory. After the best hair session filled with yummy fruity hair products, a miracle “special treatment” and a super sexy Victoria Beckham hair cut, my HAIR WAS BACK with a vengeance. After the best service I had ever had at a hair salon I obviously kept going back to Ms Kim religiously and she later proposed me going natural and trusting her to help me through it. She would blow dry my hair straight to make it manageable and promised if it didn’t work out I could always change my mind. It was on that day that I took that leap and went natural. It took a hair nightmare and having someone taking the time to walk me through it that made me brave enough to try it out. After months with Ms Kim I had to move back home and do it all on my own. Since she gave me all the wisdom I took another leap once I got home to lose the heat and just embrace the afro for the first time, most importantly embrace myself without all the gimmicks. It took lots more research but I am almost 2 years natural now and still heat free. I have healthy hair I can look after and manage on my own. It was a journey that began with me taking ownership of my own hair and then luckily meeting someone along the way who gave me what I needed to do something that in my heart I felt like I should have done long ago as together with the hair journey I found myself on a unexpected inner journey to stay true to myself.
Did you transition or big cop?
What is your hair type?
A very soft 4B/4C combination
How did others (friends, family, and colleagues) react to your decision to go natural?
My friends embraced it but my family resisted it the most as they grew up seeing natural hair as nappy and messy hair. I get the best response of all from total strangers on the street who aren’t afraid to let me know how amazing I look or how I have inspired them just by rocking my hair as it is. This makes my day every time.
What is your current regimen?
My regime has gotten simple over time. I simply pre-poo with a homemade treatment mix (Commercial treatment of choice, honey, amla, black castor oil and Olive / Avocado Oil ) co-wash with Tresemme Naturals weekly and do an alternative protein, avocado, coffee or tea rinse monthly. I ensure that sleep in bantu knots (seal with an oil elixir and twist with Camile Rose baobab and shea butter, Body Shop Moisture Butter or a homemade Aloe shea butter ) I protective style over winter or when I need a break with braids or a wig.
What are your holy grail products?
Tresemme Naturals Avocado Conditioner
Camile Rose Baobab and Shea Butter – it’s pure heaven on your hair, softens and moisturizes like no bodies business and best of all smells divine and has no chemicals in it at all.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil
What do you like the most about natural hair/being natural?
That I feel most free and most myself when I have my natural hair out. I am not trying to be any Beyonce or JLO, I am rocking what God blessed me with. I am rocking me. I feel most proud when I look at myself in mirror, my hair always reminds me of the journey, what is most priceless is the effect I have had on other people because I have gone natural and have healthy hair. Inspiring others to feel brave enough to do it and to have healthy hair is most priceless.
About the Author
South African. World citizen. Currently based in Paris.
Traveler. Writer. Model. Teacher.