Issued by: Staff writer Joan Hendricks
Q&A with Tarryn Matthei – Going Natural Has Become A Labour Of Love.
Last year it was reported that relaxer sales have dropped almost 20% in SA as women were starting to move away from straightening their hair, choosing to embrace their natural hair.
As a result, the market has been flooded with products specifically made for natural hair and natural hair festivals and influencers have been popping up everywhere online. We wanted to find out more and spoke to Tarryn Matthei, who lives in Cape Town about her natural hair journey and how it has changed the way she views her hair since she’s transitioned.
When did your natural hair journey start and why did you decide to take the step?
My journey started in December 2017 right after I attended my first Cape Town Natural Hair Festival. It was amazing to see so many women wearing their natural hair with pride. But I wasn’t ready yet. I was afraid of what my natural hair looked like. So, I tentatively started transitioning for six months and then I did the big chop. I just felt ready to embrace all of me.
What does your hair routine entail and did you do any research before settling on this specific routine or did you just wing it?
I Googled everything. I also watched dozens of YouTube clips because going natural felt like a daunting experience. My wash day routine includes pre-pooing my hair for 30 minutes with conditioner, olive oil and avocado oil. Shampoo tends to strip the hair of its natural oils; therefore, I like oiling up my hair so that the shampoo strips the excess oil and leaves my natural oils.
Next, I deep condition. I have low porosity hair which means my hair doesn’t easily absorb moisture. After applying my deep conditioner, I put a shower cap on and apply heat to my hair. It usually only takes 10 minutes under the dryer for the conditioner to penetrate my hair shaft. I rinse off and then style. I made the decision not to blow dry or flat iron my hair and it’s been one year since I’ve used direct heat on my hair. I usually flat twist my hair, let it dry naturally, undo the twists the next day and wear my afro like that.
How important is products and how do you choose the correct products for your hair?
I became a product junkie at the beginning of my natural hair journey. Each time Clicks threw a 3 for 2 special I would be there. But I quickly learned what works for one naturalista might not work on my hair. It’s important to know your hair type. Do you have high, low or medium porosity hair? And it helps to know your curl type as well: 3C, 4a, 4b or 4C. I’m have 4A low porosity hair. This informs the type of products that are ideal for your hair. So, for me that means my hair needs lots of moisture.
How has switching things up change your hair and overall lifestyle?
I spend a lot more time on my hair now that I’m natural, but it has truly become a labour of love. Natural hair also fits with my lifestyle more. I’m a salsa dancer and it often felt like a constant struggle between keeping my hair straight and being active.
What challenges did you face making the change?
There is a lot of hair discrimination and I’ve experienced it first-hand. Everyone has an opinion about your hair when you go natural, even the bergie on my street had something to say. I get called Rasta often and I’ve had guys tell me my hair looks crap. At first it use to get to me, but now I focus on self-love and self-acceptance.
Who are some of the natural hair icons you look up to?
I follow Lyasiainthecity from New York, Naptural85 and the naturalista I most identify with is MissKenK. These women have all taught me so much with their tutorials on YouTube. And they inspire me to step out of my comfort zone and try new styles.
What advice can you give other women transitioning or contemplating making the change themselves?
Get a support group and surround yourself with other naturals. I often had moments where I just wanted to blow my hair just to fit in with everyone around me. I also joined the Cape Town Naturally group on Facebook and these group of ladies are a welcome source of information, support and inspiration.