UK Natural – Janese Samuels

Proving that you can be natural whatever your age 

Tell us about yourself
I am a 40++ mother of 2 grandma of 3. I have been chemical free now for 11 years having “processed” my hair for 22 years. Mother always asked why we, my twin sister and I, relaxed our hair, but I guess we were just following the crowd.

Our origins are Caribbean, from Jamaica although we were born here. Our mother combed our hair which was shoulder length from about 5 years old. At 9 I started combing my own hair and learned to plait it myself in two or three or four plaits.

Then my friends moved into the area and we discovered Cornrow. So I learned to cornrow my hair inside, but didn’t know how to plait it outside, Until I had my daughter and practiced on her hair.

When did you go natural?
I was fed up one Saturday having sat in the hairdresser watching the hairdresser’s friends and family come and go despite my 9:30am appointment, I decided when she called me to her chair, at 1pm so she could ‘baste’ my scalp, that I had had enough.

I told her I didn’t want my roots done anymore but could she just cut the whole lot off! The length at this time was just coming down to my shoulder blades at the back. She was surprised and thought she had misheard me until I said it again that she was not to ‘baste’ my scalp but to cut it all off all the relaxed hair, get rid of it.

By the time she and the other women in the salon had had their say I took the scissors myself and cut off a huge chuck and then asked her to tidy it all up. I went shorter and shorter and shorter until I had about a inch left all over my head. When she had finished the women were vexed!! One even said I must have swallowed mad cat’s p!ss to make me do such a foolish thing when woman are crying out for hair like mine.

When I looked in the mirror I saw my natural hair for the first time in 22 years and asked myself why I had ever put chemicals in it. It was beautiful. The stylist put a little gel in it and it curled beautifully like I had a curly perm!!

My children were shocked but loved it as they thought I looked like Jada Pinkett-Smith, whilst my Husband was so shocked when I arrived at his 40th Birthday party that evening, he didn’t say anything to me about my hair for 3 months!! Then his only comment was he didn’t like it.

Short hair was very liberating. I kept it short for 4 years before I gave in to the pressure and let it grow back. When it did it was even longer than ever before because I was now caring for it rather than just styling it.

How do you take care of your hair?
I do not have a special regime I wash it once every two months unless I am going out then I will wash it if I want to do something special like twists or use ceramic tongs to straighten it.

I use a medicated shampoo a good conditioner and that is it. I do not scrub my hair as it will only get knots like you would not believe so I wash it in the shower gently massaging my scalp in all areas before rinsing and repeating the process. I then apply large amounts of conditioner and then comb it through. I place a shower cap on my head then leave this for about 10 minutes before rinsing.

I then plait it in one and then wrap my head in a towel before applying oil or cream, then I either comb it though again and twist it or plait it in several sections. Or blow dry it and plait it or blow dry it and my daughter will straighten it for me.

If my ends need a trim I will plait or twist it in small sections then cut about and inch of each section.

What’s your favourite product and where do you buy it?
Kemi Oyl I used to have an online supplier but I think they have gone out of business. If I cannot get Kemi Oyl I use shea butter blended myself or anything my daughter has left in the bathroom. :0)

I Shampoo with Nutrogena T/Gel Theraputic Shampoo and any good conditioner at present I am using Men’s Stock by Aubrey Organics recommended by a friend as my hair is slightly thinner at the front due to my centre part. I also use AfriCare Shampoo and conditioner because it was on offer not for any other reason.

Your words of wisdom?
DO NOT BE AFRAID OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN ALL BEAUTIFUL BLACK WOMEN… Our hair is for us, we should not be a shamed of it. It is not difficult or bad, it is what our mother’s passed onto us, wear it with pride.

I do not worry now that I am natural about getting caught in the rain, swimming, or anything as I used to when I had processed hair.

I do not worry about what people say about my hair or the styles I choose to wear. In fact a white male colleague asked me if I was in a competition, when I asked him to explain he pointed out that I had not worn my hair the same way more than once the entire week!! I replied ‘I can do so many things with my hair but you cannot’. (He is bald) :0)

I know that people think that I am lucky because the texture of my hair is soft and can be straighter and less curly when dry but we should all embrace our own image and love ourselves because wearing someone else’s hair is not in my opinion a thing of beauty. Work with what you have and it will pay dividends in the end. Liberate yourselves from mental slavery.

Inspiring huh?? Loving the picture above, taken in 1978!


  1. Wow that must have hurt when her husband acted like that. Does he like it now?

  2. Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for your comment.

    As India Irie says ‘I am not my hair’. I told my husband at the time if I knew you loved my hair so much I would have asked if I could take it home and I would have stuffed a pillow with it so you could sleep with it! He wasn’t impressed. :0)

    I resisted his moans and groans for 4 years before I grew it back. Now he is happy and I? well I don’t worry about my hair. I wear it any way I like no matter what he or anyone else thinks. Janese

  3. Janese I love the way you think so inspirational!

  4. What a fab story. Loved how you took control in the hairdressers! Good on you!