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The 4 Laws of Natural Hair Care

Contributed by Anel Hamersma and Renee Nicolai

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Renee Nicolai calls herself a Natural Hairdresser.

“But what does that actually mean?” I ask over tea. “Natural… how?” We’re sitting in her garden in Plumstead where streams of women come to see her. Some have even dubbed her the “Hair Whisperer”. She laughs uproariously when I mention it.

“It’s really not that difficult to go natural. Actually, anyone can do it,” she says. “Natural hair-care is an approach to hair. There are a couple of simple laws you need to follow, and if you do the condition of your hair will improve dramatically. The First Law is: you have to accept it.

About 90% of the people who pass through my salon hope and pray for the exact opposite hair to what they’ve got. Women with beautifully curly hair would kill to have it straight. Women with dead straight hair want nothing more than a couple of curls and some body.

Accept your flaws and the things you’re always trying to get away from. Accept that they are part of you and therefore deserve the same level of respect that you would want from someone else.   Accept that perfection is an idealized version of humanity, not reality. Accept that true beauty comes from the things that put us apart and make us unique – not looking the same as everyone else. Accept that nothing stays the same, and that the things you love about yourself today won’t necessarily be there tomorrow.

If you’re always trying to get your hair to do something that’s not intrinsically part of its true nature, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of hair-hatred.

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The Second Law is: learn to make the most of what you’ve got. If you understand the basics about your hair you’ll understand why it behaves the way it does.Then you can grow hair styles that allow those curls to bounce and breathe! You can give them their dues and make them part of your personality. You can work with them instead of always trying to negate them. If you have knowledge, you can enhance rather than fight against. Bring out the beauty rather than pretend to be something completely different.

Getting to grips with your hair is just like any other relationship: the more you know about a person, the better are your chances of understanding their needs and why they tend to act the way they do. If you want to make the most of your hair you have to know what it is, how it works and what it likes. My goal is to show people how to make the most of their hair without poisoning themselves halfway into oblivion, and with the least effort. That’s what natural hair-care is all about.

The Third Law of Natural Hair is: less is more. Traditionally this is a tricky one for us modern folk to get our heads around. In an age of consumerism we’ve been bred to believe that we can only achieve happiness by pursuing more, making more and hoarding more. Yet we live in an age where people are probably unhappier than in any other.

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My humble hair dressing opinion is that we’ve forgotten the beauty of getting along with less. There’s something very powerful about knowing that what you have is enough, and having a limit to how far you are prepared to go. In hair-care this translates into a simple equation:

less toxic ingredients + less product + less heat +

less color work = better, healthier hair.

The Fourth Law is: keep it real. More and more people feel very passionately about steering clear of all chemicals, which is wonderful. We are slowly waking up to the reality of what’s inside the products that we so gleefully purchase day in and day out. But very few people understand how critical chemicals are in hair-care. I cannot do what I do daily as a hair stylist without chemical intervention of some kind. It’s just not possible. Well, not yet, anyways.

What I’m trying to say is: in your pursuit for better products you have to remain realistic. You’ve got to keep it real. If you want fantastic hair in your target shade, chemicals will be involved. If you want to continue buying shampoos that come in a bottle and that you purchase at your local store or stylist, chemicals will be involved. There is no way around it.

Instead of saying: are there chemicals in this? Rather ask: what kind of chemicals are they putting in this? And what kind of effect will they have on the condition of my hair? That is what it means to keep it real.”


Renee’s book, due for release end September, is a beginner’s guide to cleaner, greener hair. “I want to educate people,” she says as the bell rings and the next client arrives. “I want them to see what I see – that having beautiful hair doesn’t have to be a battle. With a little bit of love and a gentle approach miracles can happen.”

To find out more about Renee, Gentle Approach and Naturalmente please visit:

For our review on our visit to the Gentle Approach Salon last year, please see: