Archive for the curly/kinky hair Category

3rd Anniversary

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care on September 30, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

So my third anniversary natural passed on September 19th without a peep from me. It honestly slipped my mind. A lot of things have been going on at my job of late so that explains why the anniversary went by unnoticed. Also, I’m just so used to being natural that it ceased being “weird” or “alternative to me a long time ago.

I’ve gone from this:

to this (as of May of this year) :

I don’t have a really strict regimen these days, as my life has gotten a little too hectic to have one. I still try to do a protein treatment and a deep conditioning treatment once a month (operative word is try). One thing about my hair that is an absolute must is that it cannot go more than 7 days without being washed. I can’t be one of those naturals that can wash her hair every two weeks or once a month. My hair won’t stand for it as my scalp will itch incessantly otherwise. It’s not a huge deal as I don’t spend an inordinate time on my hair on wash day as I neither have the time or the inclination. I didn’t want to stop spending 5 hours in a salon every few weeks only to start spending 5 or more hours doing my hair at home every week as I don’t want to be a slave to it. I have way more things in my life that I’d rather spend time on, so I don’t pre-poo, do all day or overnight deep conditioning or a couple of other things that other naturals do as they are way too time consuming. Many people think that caring for my hair must be this time sucking chore because it’s so coily and rough looking, but as I’ve stated in the past, it really isn’t. I’ve chosen not to spend an inordinate amount of time on it so that it doesn’t become a chore. It’s on par with showering and brushing my teeth for me. Basically, I use a lo-poo once or twice a month and co-wash all other times. I rotate products as I read years ago that if you use the same product for more than 90 days, it stops being effective. Right now, I’m loving the Shea Moisture Restorative shampoo. With co-washing, I rotate between Suave, Trader Joe’s Tree Tea Tingle and Curl Junkie Daily Fix. With leave ins, I rotate among KCKT, Curl Junkie Smoothing Lotion and this new product I discovered recently, Nubian Heritage Repair and Extend Detangling Leave-in Conditioner. With stylers and gels, I rotate among SM’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Curl Junkie’s Honey Butta or the Coco Creme, Curl Junkie Pattern Pusha and Ecostyler. After washing and plopping my hair for about 15 minutes, I will put it into about 12 braids or twists and let it set overnight. As far as twists go, I often do three strand ones or flat twists as those give my hair more definition. I only do regular two strand twists when I want to do a chunky fro, which is about once every two weeks. I also did do a number of wash and goes over the summer, but with the weather changing, I may be doing them less often as I don’t like to leave the house with wet hair in cold weather. I do have a diffuser, but I’ve realized that I don’t like to use heat on my hair too much as it makes it too dry and it can feel like straw. I can count on two hands the amount of times I used the diffuser last winter.  From start to finish, it only takes me about two hours to do my hair on wash day, depending on whether I’m doing any treatments to it or not. On other days, when I’m just retwisting or rebraiding my hair to preserve a set, it only takes about ten minutes. And there you have it.

To kind of illustrate how ubiquitous natural hair is becoming, I was grocery shopping today and as I was about to push my cart into the checkout line, this woman behind me exclaimed, “Hey! Do you remember me?”

My mind was a total blank. I could swear that I had never laid eyes on the woman before. So I shook my head.

“Well, I remember you. I used to work at Millenium salon (a beauty salon in my neighborhood). I remember Nikki used to do your weaves.”

I still could not place the woman that was talking to me, but I did remember the stylist who used to do my weaves. She moved back to Trinidad over 4 years ago and I remember not liking the two other stylists who did my weaves after her. I find it hard to believe that I would spend 5 hours in a salon getting those done every six weeks, even though it wasn’t that long ago. It’s like it happened to a complete stranger.

“Yeah. It’s a shame Nikki moved away,” I said.

“Who does your hair now?” the woman asked.

“I do.”

The woman smiled. “You’re doing a good job.” Then she walked away, bobbing her platinum blond fro to the music that was playing in the store. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she no longer even does relaxers or weaves or has started only doing natural hair. The revolution won’t be televised.




Random things

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Traveling natural on September 9, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

This might be somewhat incoherent but this is mainly just catching up on some stuff from the past couple of weeks.

That vacation in Cancun was great. I’m missing it already. I mainly wore puffs and wash and goes while I was there as I did not have the inclination to manipulate my hair a lot. Some pics:

Had to blur and smudge my friend’s face, sorry.

My hair didn’t suffer as badly as I’d feared. I left the swim cap at home and I didn’t walk out of the suite with a buttload of conditioner in my hair. I just jumped in the pool and went about my business. It also helped that I didn’t go in the pool every single day-just three out of the seven days I was there. I had gone to the beach on another day. The day I went to the beach, I just co-washed with CJ Smoothing Lotion afterward. The other times I did go in the pool, I washed with KC Come Clean, then followed with the CJ Smoothing Lotion. Then I styled with KCKT (Kinky Curly Knot Today) and sealed with grapeseed oil or used the KCKT and the KCCC, followed by air drying. That’s it. It was very warm and humid there, so my hair didn’t take as long to air dry as it would if I were in an air conditioned environment all day. My hair didn’t have any adverse reactions, which I was glad to see.

Also, I think I finally found a lo-poo that I like. For the nearly three years that I’ve been natural, I’ve tried several different lo-poos and never liked them-Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa, Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle (still love the conditioners though), Kinky Curly Come Clean, Deva No Poo and one or two others I can’t remember right now. I found all of the previously mentioned lo and no poos just as drying as any sulfate shampoo, which curlies are advised to avoid as they strip out all of the hair’s natural oils and make our naturally dry hair even drier. I wouldn’t use shampoo on my hair often for this reason-just once or twice a month. The rest of the time, I’d co-wash. I’d seen positive reviews in the past for the Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo and just happened to pick it up at Target on Friday, as I’d run out of the Kinky Curly Come Clean. Well actually, I’d left Cancun with about a third of a bottle left of the Kinky Curly Come Clean, but it somehow spilled in the bag during the flight home. Luckily it was in a separate compartment and it didn’t get on my clothes, but it was still annoying. That lo-poo only costs about $12 in the store, so it’s not such a small matter that some of it got wasted. The thing I really am coming to hate about traveling these days is the fact that the products I have to take with me often get wasted in this manner. If anyone has any suggestions on how this can be prevented in the future, please comment!

Well, anyway, I got the Moisture Retention shampoo and used it today. I immediately fell in love with it. It is the first shampoo I’ve ever used that did not strip my hair and leave it dry. If  I didn’t know better I’d think it was a conditioner because that’s how moisturized and soft it left my hair. It does lather, so it does have some strong surfecting agents that conditioners usually don’t have, but dang! I just may use this every week and not just once or twice a month. My holy grail regimen is now complete! I now have a trusted shampoo, some rinse-out conditioners I rotate, trusted leave -in and stylers. So happy.

Vacation ramblings

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care, Traveling natural on August 24, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

So, my birthday was on the 19th of August. My hair looked stunning! I got a lot of compliments on it. I wore it in a in flat twist out. Since I’m posting from my job right now and don’t have my camera, the picture will have to wait until later. But I had great hair.

Also, I’m going on vacation to Cancun tomorrow for a week. Something I’ve been waiting all summer for. The thing that always vexes me about traveling is how many and what kind of hair products to bring. I didn’t have this issue when I was relaxed. I often didn’t even bring hair stuff with me when I traveled back then. I just wouldn’t wash it when I was away. Now that I know better, I can do better, but it can be difficult. I’ve written about this issue before but it does bear repeating. I can’t use those little containers of shampoo and conditioner that hotels provide for you as both would be too harsh for my hair. And you can’t take more than 3 ounces of liquid in a carry on or it’ll get confiscated. I’ve had that happen before. However, taking hair products in checked luggage has proven to be problematic for me in the past as well. Two years ago on a trip to Cananda, the top of the container of hair gel I had in a checked bag somehow came loose and the gel spilled all over inside the bag. It was real fun to clean that up. And I can’t leave the hair products behind as we’ll be by a pool all week. And the chlorine is supposedly really damaging on curly and kinky hair, so going all week without washing it out is not an option. And I still have no idea how I’ll be wearing my hair all week, though doing a wash and go seems like the best option. I won’t have the time or inclination to retwist or rebraid it all week. Some naturals would get braid extensions and I’ve done the same in the past, but in hindsight, they often did more damage to my hair than not by stylists braiding it too tightly which caused  thinning to my hairline, so those are no longer an option for me.    

One of the reasons why I and other women choose to go natural is so that we can go to the pool or the beach without fear of messing up our hair. But I’ve seen a number of articles over the last couple of years over what you should do to protect your kinks from salt water or pool water and the suggestions often seem time intensive and depending on your particular situation, they can also seem impractical, so it some ways, they can kind of defeat the purpose and you may as well have kept the chemicals in your hair.  The common suggestions are dousing your hair with water and conditioner and slapping on a swim cap before getting in the pool or the lake or the ocean so that you won’t get as much salt water or chlorine in your hair. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find swim caps attractive. Not a good look for lounging around the pool or even being in the water. Also, some naturals with very thick hair complain that those caps don’t fit their heads, as they are designed for those with straight or thin hair, so they don’t have that option. Going out by the pool with conditioner in my hair, without that swim cap? Um, no. I really am not in the mood to explain to everyone at that resort all week as to why I have to go out there with white stuff in my hair. So yeah. #naturalhairproblems. Or you think this is particularly annoying #firstworldproblems. I’m prepared to just jump in the pool without any protection and suffer the consequences. I’ll see how my hair does.

Hair and introversion

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Intoversion, life on August 15, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

I just want to put this out there, because I’ve never really seen this subject addressed before. Certain points pertaining to this subject have been addressed before, both here and elsewhere, but not everything.

I happen to be introverted, a personality trait that isn’t understood or liked very well in our society. Western culture in generally is geared toward extroversion and our institutions extol and praise extroverted traits. Our offices mainly have open floor plans where people sit on top of each other in small cubicles, working in teams is often highly emphasized both in the workplace and in school, etc. Introverts are stereotyped as shy and anti-social but that’s not the case for many of them. Shyness and introversion are not one and the same thing, though a lot of people think they are because of the fact that shy people and/or introverts tend to be less social than what extroverts consider to be “normal.” So what is a shy person? What is an extrovert? What is an introvert? Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Extroverts draw their energy from being around other people and hate being alone. Introverts draw their energy from within themselves and usually are fine with being alone, as being around other people for long stretches drains them. Extroverts tend to like being the center of attention and don’t mind huge crowds, things which tend to make introverts cringe. Introverts prefer to deal with others one on one or in a small group. There isn’t anything wrong with being one or the other, it’s just how our brains are wired. Yet because introverts aren’t as readable or easy to know, extroverts try to convince them all the time that something must be wrong with them and if they were only like their extroverted selves, they would be happier. This assumption makes me furious, because for a good part of my life, I was deemed arrogant, snotty or just plain weird and told that I was “too quiet” and I assumed that if I were more outgoing, I’d be more well liked and accepted. My attempts to change an intrinsic part of myself failed of course, because behaving in ways that weren’t natural to me was awkward and people sensed that. I even contemplated suicide over the issue when I was younger because why would I want to go through the rest of my life as a freak and an outcast? It wasn’t until a little over a decade ago that I began accepting my introversion and now I have no desire to change whatsoever. I may not have as many friends as extroverts do but the ones I do have are close and meaningful, something that can’t be said for a lot of extroverts, who tend to have a lot of shallow relationships and few deep connections with anyone.

As far as it relates to hair, I see profiles of newly natural and long time natural women all the time who remark that one of the reasons they went natural is because their voluminous hair seemed to suit their personality better because they are so outgoing. Where does that assessment leave me? Even though I have fine hair, it’s still fuller than it ever was when it was relaxed. But because I don’t have a gregarious personality to go along with my hair, I have to wonder if a number of people think that natural hair just doesn’t suit me as people sometimes equate big or curly hair with a big personality. Not that I care what other people think. My hair never really took to relaxers well and fake hair also damaged my strands. So for both practical and emotional reasons, being natural is the only way for me to go. However,  it took a few months for me to adjust to it and there were times when I nearly went back to relaxers because I wasn’t sure if I was confident enough to wear my hair the way it grew out of my scalp. Ignorant comments from people who don’t understand natural hair can easily wear a person down if they aren’t prepared. It didn’t take long for me to learn that in order to be successful as a natural, you have to transition your mind and well as your hair. Confidence isn’t reserved for people with just one personality trait. It’s something that can be learned and built upon no matter where you are on the personality spectrum. Honestly, if it were not for sites like Naturally Curly and Black Girl with Long Hair, where I saw people flourishing with their natural hair, I doubt I would have developed the confidence and the skills to continue on this journey.

I also have to say that being introverted with the kind of hair that isn’t widely accepted can draw attention to yourself that you may not necessarily want. Speaking only for myself, it can be draining to answer questions about how I got my hair to look the way it does because I either get blank stares or exclamations that the person asking could never go natural because they don’t have good hair. It can be threatening and violating to have people just reach out with their grubby hands to touch it, often without asking permission. It’s not in my nature to want to be in the spotlight, but introverted naturals sometimes are because our hair is a novelty in a lot of circles. I still haven’t found effective ways in order to deal with this issue. Which makes me wonder if natural hair is best suited for extroverts. Do you really think that certain textures or hairstyles suit certain personalities more than others? I’d like to know.

The talk, Part II

Posted in Beauty standard, curly/kinky hair with tags , on July 11, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

I actually had an entire paragraph written out yesterday that preceded the post I shared from another site, but WordPress ate it. Here is yesterday’s post.

That post really hit a nerve because 35 years ago, I was that child. A child who was reared in a predominantly white neighborhood and was envious of the long, straight hair that her white classmates possessed. A child who felt that her kinks and coils were ugly. A child who dreaded having to explain why her twists and braids were able to stay in her hair without unraveling while the braids and twists her white classmates attempted to put in their hair unraveled within seconds. And so on. All these years later, I realize that I dreaded having to explain my hair to people who didn’t look like me because at the time, I actually didn’t really understand it. No one in my family understood it either. Neither did friends of the family. Basically, many of us were taught that it wasn’t acceptable and that it needed to be hidden with wigs or weaves or “fixed” with chemical or thermal straighteners. When I begged my mother for a relaxer at the age of 9 or 10, all she said at the time was that I was too young. She didn’t have the tools nor the self esteem to instill the kind of pride in my hair that the mother in that post did and by the time I was in high school, I was allowed to get the perm. I’d love to say that what that little girl experienced was an isolated incident, but I can’t. Unfortunately, similar incidents like that are played out among numerous little black girls all the time.

That post also segues into a major pet peeve that I have. Now, what grown women do to their hair is their business. However, when I first started posting on hair boards, I soon discovered that my first perm at 14 was at a fairly late age. I was shocked to see a number of people admitting that they had gotten their first relaxers at the age of 3 or 4. Those caustic chemicals can damage the hair of grown women, resulting in burns, scabs and hair loss. You can imagine how much more damage they can do to a small child. I personally don’t remember girls getting perms before around the age of 10 when I was growing up and a number of them weren’t allowed to get them until puberty, like me. Perms were a rite of passage in my day. Now mothers are slapping chemicals into their daughters’ heads before they even reach kindergarten. The reasons go beyond the mainstream media. They’ve brainwashed black women into accepting the European standard of long, straight hair for decades. It’s partly due to the fact that we live in a faster paced world where people want instant gratification. Today’s mothers don’t have the patience or the time to care for their daughters’ natural hair in the way that it needs to. So their solution is to slap a relaxer, regardless of the damage they can do, because they think straight hair is easier to care for. However, a lot of women don’t have the knowledge to care for relaxed hair properly and are unaware that it needs protein treatments, deep conditioning and the like just as much as natural hair. If anything, relaxed hair needs those treatments a lot more frequently than natural hair. Besides laziness though, the message the mothers are sending to their daughters’ is damning by perpetuating the belief that their hair is ugly and that in order to be accepted or even loved, it needs to be straight. They should accept the burns and scabs as a badge of honor because”beauty is pain.” I wish we could banish that phrase from the language. Being beautiful shouldn’t have to be painful by doing things to your body that it was never meant to tolerate. I also think the push to perms our girls’ hair at younger ages is partly due to our society sexualizing our children at younger ages. It’s not uncommon for parents to go to Children’s Place to find clothes more suitable for a prostitute than for an 8 year old. Straight hair is regarded as sexy in our culture. Black girls in general aren’t regarded as beautiful but we can easily change their hair so that they won’t be ignored in the very least. It’s kind of sad, really.

The mother and daughter in yesterday’s post are the epitome of strength and confidence, something more people in our community need. Will we ever get to a point where “the talk” won’t be necessary, because our hair would have been fully accepted as normal and not a curiosity? I hope the answer is yes, but who knows.

Natural nod

Posted in curly/kinky hair, life, Racial/ethnic stereotyping, Styling, White privilege on June 26, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

I know it’s been awhile, but work has been crazy of late and I’ve been too tired and frazzled to put together anything resembling a coherent post. It’s supposed to slow down by next week, so hopefully, I’ll be able to post more regularly soon. As far as my hair has gone, I’ve been doing a lot of wash and goes and curly fros of late because they don’t take a lot of time to do nor do they require a lot of maintenance. I’ve just been too tired to do certain styles. I don’t have a recent curly fro picture, but here is a wash and go I did about a week or two ago:

Not bad, eh? I think it was either first or second day hair. I used the Jane Carter Curl Defining Cream and the pink Ecostyler for some hold. I also used a leave in underneath everything, but  I can’t remember if it was the Giovanni Direct Leave In or the Curl Junkie Beauticurls or the Curl Junkie Smoothing Lotion. I did scrunch the excess product out of my hair so it wouldn’t dry crunchy. I know I got at least three days out of the style but I can’t remember anymore if I was able to get more days out of it than that. That’s what happens when I don’t update consistently.

Anyhoo, on to the point of this post. A topic came up last night on a board I frequent that was interesting. It wasn’t related to hair but it actually can be. I’ll get to how it can be in a moment. Anyway, the person stated how some white classmate at her college asked her why she always nods to the other black students there and why they do likewise and wondered if there was any historical reason for it. She also pointed out that less than 5% of the student body consists of black people. I was never aware that the nod had any major social or political significance before that question was asked on the board. I always thought it was simply a greeting. The fact that the white classmate noticed only the black students doing it probably says a lot about the social climate at that particular school and probably a lot about that person themselves. It’s human nature for people to gravitate toward those that look like themselves, share a common heritage or share something else in common. The poster who asked the question is black and may at times feel awkward and out of place being a minority in a predominantly white school. I definitely speak from experience. It can be comforting at times just to see another person that looks like you, so you (general you, just so no one thinks I’m singling any particular person out) acknowledge their existence by nodding. There’s nothing that deep about it. However, some whites feel threatened when they see nonwhites do this or when they see a group of blacks, Asians or members of some other racial or ethnic group hanging out together. This causes them to think that nonwhites purposefully isolate themselves and make themselves out to be victims. Never mind that systemic racism and discrimination perpetrated by whites is a major reason why nonwhites may associate only among themselves. Also, what are people of color supposed to think about White people who only interact with other White people? I personally could give a rat’s ass, but there are whites who believe nonwhites shouldn’t say anything about it because “White” is the default in our society and because they are the preference, why shouldn’t they do whatever they want? Everyone else is deemed inferior.

“The nod” isn’t just a racial thing. It can apply to any group of people who share a common interest. Sometimes bikers do the nod. Sometimes, people who drive Jeeps do the nod. And yes, people with curly or kinky hair do the nod too. There have been occasions where I’ll nod to a natural in the room and they do likewise-not because we were the only two black women in the room but because we were the only two naturals in the room. Remember, straight hair is still the default in our society. If you happen to live in a place that doesn’t have a lot of people that look like you and/or where many of the women are still brainwashed into thinking that straight hair is “good” hair, it can be mighty comforting to come across somebody else that dared to step outside the box. So you acknowledge their existence and nod. It’s an expression of a common bond. Nothing more, nothing less. Will there come a time when the “natural nod” won’t be necessary, because it will have been the norm? I can’t answer that. Speaking only for myself, even if natural hair ever did become the norm, I’m not sure I’d want the nod to go away entirely. Technology is making it easier for people not to connect and interact in person and we’re becoming a poorer society for it. Something as simple as a nod establishes a connection to another person, if only for an instant.

Did I do that?

Posted in curly/kinky hair, relaxed hair practices on May 20, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

I was kind of lazy with my hair the last few days. I basically have had it in curly fro. It’s fairly easy. You just put your hair into 6-8 two strand twists, tuck the ends under or use rollers, undo the twists the next day and fluff your hair. I didn’t take pictures this time, but this picture from last summer is representative of the style. It’s one of the few that automatically makes my fine hair seem thick and full. It usually takes at least two days for my hair to appear to have any volume.

Anyway, a post I saw on a hair board got me thinking about some of the things I used to do when I had relaxed hair. In taking this trip down memory lane and reliving some of the things I used to do, even though my hair was damaged, I don’t know how I didn’t end up totally bald. Here are some of the offending things I used to do:

  • After getting a fresh perm, I’d go stretches where I’d use a curling iron every. single. day. On a medium-high setting. I didn’t like bone straight hair so I figured I’d give my flat, limp and lifeless hair some oomph by curling it. The end result was fried hair. And naturally, it would break off.
  • I hardly ever covered my hair up at night unless I wrapped it, which wasn’t often as I never got the hang of it since I was (and still am to a small extent) styling challenged and it would look crazy. I’d lay my uncovered head on my cotton pillowcase. It was not until recently that doing this zaps your hair of moisture. Now, most of the time I cover my hair with a satin scarf or satin bonnet without fail. Silk or satin trap moisture and those materials are less likely to let it evaporate. During those times when I don’t want to use a scarf or a bonnet, I’ll use a satin pillowcase.
  • Going three weeks between washes. There were times I’d go even longer if I wanted to preserve a particular style, because I operated under the common perception that water was bad for my hair as it would just dry it out. Just reading those sentences makes me want to gag (and probably you too). These days, I can’t imagine going more than seven days between washes. I have now learned that it’s not water that dries out your hair. It’s the products you use to wash and style your hair that can dry it out. Once you know what kind of products to use and moisturize your hair regularly, dry hair ceases to be much of an issue.
  • Until I was in college, I’d have my scalp greased with Dax, TCB, etc as it was believed that they’d moisturized my hair. From college until I BC’d, I used Pink Oil to do the same thing. I had major dandruff issues until I went natural. It was worse in childhood, but the problem never was fully resolved until I went natural. It wasn’t until I went fully natural that I learned that mineral oil and petroleum, the main ingredients in Dax, Pink Oil and products of their ilk, do NOT moisturize the hair. At most, they are sealants and are supposed to lock in whatever moisture you put in your hair. Using that stuff without previously adding in any moisturizer only seals in dryness, which in turn can lead to hair breakage. Also, those products can be akin to Saran Wrap on your hair and scalp in that they may not allow either to breathe. Looking back, I’m convinced that those products may have contributed to the dandruff issues I had in that they may have suffocated my hair and scalp. I ditched them when I went natural and I haven’t had dandruff since then either. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
  • Many years ago, I once got a touchup and a semi-permanent color on the same day. As both chemical processes can be damaging to your hair, it is usually suggested that you do not do them both on the same day. It is highly suggested that you do just one chemical process, then wait at least two weeks to do the other. But I was young and definitely not wise then and I had no knowledge of this until much later. The stylist who committed this offense did not care one iota about the health of my hair. She only thought about all those benjamins she’d get after she was done. Within a couple of days, my hair was coming out in clumps and I developed a bald spot on my crown. It took several years to grow back in. Needless to say, I never went back to that heffa.
  • As a child, a fine toothed comb was used on my tender head and the person detangling my hair (usually a friend of the family) would practically rip it out. It was not until recently did I discover that fine tooth combs aren’t big enough for kinky hair to be detangled with. Now I only use wide tooth combs.

All I can say to all these things now is that now that I know better, I do better.

What crazy things did you use to do to your hair?