photo courtesy of Andrew Rich — Getty Images

I knew Winnipeg would be…cold.

However, being Jamaican born and bred, my concept of cold was far from the Canadian experience. Winnipeg gets colder than you can imagine, unless you can imagine -35oC. I couldn’t. Prior to moving to Canada, tropical temperatures of above 30oC were my day to day norm. Anything approaching 20oC was unbearable for me and I abhorred air conditioning. Since Jamaica is warm and humid, stretched styles never stay stretch for long and shrinkage was real.

Natural hair products are readily available in Jamaica.

There are a number of quality brands–from Jamaica and elsewhere–that are available on the ground. Shipping products from the US is also very easy if you’re in Jamaica. In addition, to ease of access to quality natural hair products, Jamaica also has quite a few hair meetups and expos that help make a natural hair journey that much more enjoyable.

Months before my move to Canada, I started hoarding hair products.

I had done some online research but still couldn’t figure out what the natural hair scene would be like in Winnipeg, so I figured I’d better come prepared. I didn’t want to have to worry about taking care of my hair or my six-year-old daughter’s hair while we were adjusting to our new environment–it’s a good thing I did.

I quickly realized the natural hair scene was barren here in Winnipeg.

Most of the women with natural hair seem to wear braids more often than not. There were no beauty supply stores anywhere. Sometime later, I came across a Sally Beauty supply store–but still, the selection of products for my type 4 hair is sparse. I realized their online store didn’t ship one of my fave brands, SheaMoisture, to Canada. In addition to that, some online retailers on try to offer a single Curl Enhancing Smoothie for $70! Needless to say, things did not appear very promising in the beginning.

My new environment wants my natural hair to be dry.

As I mentioned before, Winnipeg is cold. This has resulted in my hair experiencing less shrinkage, thus shortening my detangling time because my hair tangles less. But I also have to be diligent about moisturizing at least twice each day.

Being a lazy natural has actually worked to my advantage in protecting my hair from this cold climate. I wasn’t always a lazy natural, but as my hair has grown longer, I find that I spend less and less time on styling.

How my wash day has changed

On wash day I do the whole shebang: pre poo, wash, deep condition once a month.

I keep my hair mostly in medium-sized twists that I wear in a ponytail, I really don’t have time to do more than that because I have my daughter’s hair to maintain as well as well as all the duties that come with taking care of a household and holding down a full time job.

I couldn’t figure out what the natural hair scene would be like in Winnipeg, so I figured I’d better come prepared.

When going to work my head is always covered for warmth and many times my hair is covered indoors as well. Working as a paint chemist in an industrial manufacturing environment means jeans and t-shirts under a lab coat and head gear is not frowned upon. That’s been a huge relief because in Jamaica, I was still required to dress like the administrative office staff, which means I had to be more concerned about my hairstyle. There, a beanie would not have met with the dress code, but now I can pretty much roll out of bed, put a beanie or a wool cap over my satin cap, and go.

I’ve kept my hair healthy and moisturized the first six months in Winnipeg by doing the following:

  • Washing less frequently–on average every 3 to 4 weeks

  • Consistent deep conditioning–I deep condition with every wash

  • Moisturizing twice daily.

  • Reduced manipulation–I style my hair no more than twice week.

  • Wearing protective styles and covering my hair to protect it from the cold climate.

How did you adjust to a different climate with natural and curly hair?  

Vanessa Osbourne

Vanessa Osbourne

A type 4 naturalista born and raised in Jamaica who is currently adjusting to keeping her natural hair healthy in the cold and beautiful city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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