Archive for the Natural hair care Category

Style save

Posted in Natural hair care, Styling on October 24, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

So, back to regularly scheduled programming.

I went to a wedding a few weeks ago. Initially, I had intended to wear my hair in a flat twist out. The thing was, I had washed my hair the night before and it had not fully dried by the time I needed to leave for the wedding and I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to sit under the dryer. Did I despair, although my hair was a hot mess? No. Because I simply put it in a different style. Instead of wearing it out, I simply rolled and tucked most of it, leaving some of it out in the front for a bang. Frankly, I think the backup style suited my outfit and occasion a lot more than wearing it out would have and it looked way better and more elegant. If your intended style doesn’t come out the way you intended it to, style it a different way. It just may turn out better than you think.

Here are the results:

 

Not bad, eh?

Advertisements

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.

 

 

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.

Summer hair

Posted in great outdoors, Natural hair care with tags , , on June 27, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

We’re in my favorite season-summer! Which means long days, barbeques and the beach to name a few things that can be fun this time of year. This time of year can be a double edged sword for naturals, though. On the one hand, with the increased humidity in many places, it means that the air is rich with the moisture that our hair desperately needs. On the other hand, all that moisture may cause our hair to swell, meaning that controlled, defined hair like this (which was the result of a flat twist out I did over a month ago) :

could turn into BAA (Big Ass Afro) like this within minutes of stepping out the door:

https://i1.wp.com/strawberricurls.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/aevin-dugas-main-3_497x280.jpg

Regarding the woman in the above picture, she’s Aevin Dugas. Last year, she made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the biggest fro. It measures more than 4 feet and is bigger than a disco ball. I only wish my hair can get as huge as this.

Some naturals don’t care about their hair starting out one way and then changing into something else, but if you’re the type to spend considerable time styling your twist/braid/bantu knot out and you get upset about the elements turning your hair into a style you didn’t intend, here are a few things to consider:

1. Simply don’t try to fight nature: Sometimes prepping for twist-outs and roller sets will only end in futility. Once the humidity gets ahold of your hair, those styles can become fro-outs real quick. If you do not intend to rock one of these styles only to end up with another, you can opt for a wash-n-go or other styles that won’t fight with your texture.

2. You can try protective styling to keep your hair off of your face and neck. I gave up on protective styling awhile ago as my hair isn’t thick or dense enough for certain styles to look good and my edges are too fragile for others, but a lot of naturals swear by it as the key to length retention.

3. You can try hats. Curly and kinky hair can be unpredictable, especially in humid conditions and hats are a great accessory. They have the added benefit of keeping your hair protected from the elements (wind, sea, sun, etc.). I’m not a big hat person myself, though I do have a big collection of baseball caps.

4.Forget heat styling. All the time and effort it would take to get your hair straight will only be undone once you step out the door. Your hair could resemble Ms. Dugas’s within 5 minutes. Not that it would be a horrible thing as she has great hair, but if you don’t intend for your hair to turn into a fro, save yourself the hassle and keep your hair curly.

5. Don’t use products containing humectants in high humidity, especially if they are listed within the first five ingredients, which means they are in high quantities. Humectacts attract the moisture in the air and draw them into your hair, causing it to swell. The most common humectants are glycerin and propylene glycol, but there are a few others.

I do have a caveat to all these tips though: If your hair is fine and thin like mine, there are times when you may actually welcome the frizz and the swelling as your hair will appear fuller. For those times when you don’t mind hair that’s undefined or uncontrolled, feel free to disregard the whole post. 😀

Happy summer, everyone!

 

 

Experimenting

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care, Styling on May 14, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated, but this thing called life got in the way.

I trimmed my hair last week. It was long overdue as I’d been getting a lot of single strand knots for awhile and my ends were starting to look and feel rough, but I hate losing length. #BadNaturalDiva. I can’t give definitive advice on how often you should trim because everyone’s hair is different. I can say that the standard 6-8 week timeframe that many  hairstylists give people isn’t often feasible for those with curly and kinky hair because it can take longer for our hair to get worn down due to all our bends and coils. Some people think it’s a racket that salons do in order to get more money from you. Getting your hair trimmed that often is usually a guarantee that you won’t gain length. Think about it. Hair grows an average of about 1/2 inch a month. When you’re getting your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks, that’s usually the amount of hair a hairstylist will cut off and they often cut off more than that. When I was relaxed and had my hair trimmed on that schedule, I’d wonder why it didn’t grow. Those caustic chemicals broke my hair off and I often had split ends. Those can’t be repaired, so trims were imperative to prevent further damage. However, the end result was that my hair was often the same length year after year. Since I’ve been natural, I’ve trimmed my hair about 5 times over a 2 and a half year period, or approximately twice a year. I haven’t really needed to trim more frequently than that. I haven’t gotten any split ends since I’ve been natural and it usually takes about that long before my ends get ragged, so that’s the schedule that works for my particular head of hair. Other naturals only trim once a year. Some never trim at all. I think I trimmed about 1/2 inch off, but I didn’t really measure. It wasn’t a whole lot. Here’s a wash and go I did about 6 or so weeks ago at my old length:

Here is a flat twist out I did last weekend. It looks so fluffy at the ends because I used satin covered rollers on them. The hairstyle was actually 2 or 3 days old at that point, so my hair actually had some volume. I used Curl Junkie Coco Creme and the pink Ecostyler gel. It turned out great. I went to a friend’s birthday party and somebody complimented me on my hair. I don’t often hear anything positive or negative about my hair from people, so I never really know how to respond. Lame.

This morning, I tried a wash and go using just conditioner. Well actually a conditioner and a finisher, since I didn’t think using a conditioner by itself would provide enough hold and it was supposed to rain today. I used Curl Junkie Smoothing Lotion and Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle. That’s it. This was how it looked this morning just before I headed out the door for work. It was still damp, so it looks kind of flat. The slightly shorter length is more noticeable here than in the picture above since my hair wasn’t stretched:

Not quite liking how the sides are laying here. Also, I don’t know if it’s the combination of products or what, but my hair was very itchy today. I usually do use the Smoothing Lotion as a leave in but I also usually put a styler and/or gel over it and I haven’t had the itchiness problem. I usually use CIAB over a gel to give my hair extra protection from frizz. Maybe the combination of the two is a no-go. My hair is softer and it doesn’t have the cruchiness that a lot of gels have, so that’s a good thing. I’m thinking about arranging my hair differently tomorrow so that the sides look better. We shall see.

Coily Manifesto: I Don’t Have The Time

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care on April 20, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

Coily Manifesto: I Don’t Have The Time.

I decided to share the link above because I agree with most of what it has to say. I often lead a fairly busy life which means that I don’t have the time or the inclination to spend hours on my hair. A lot of people think that I do though, because of all its coils and they think it’s thick, coarse and hard to handle, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It would be more difficult if I were to handle it as you would straight hair, which I’ve learned not to do. Let me breakdown the list of things that I won’t do that the link mentions, while adding a couple of more things:

Pre-pooing

I’ve never understood the point of this. Supposedly, some women do it so that their hair doesn’t get stripped as much when they shampoo. Pre-pooing for the uninitiated, involves applying some oil and/or honey and conditioner to your hair, letting the mixture sit for awhile, then rinsing and shampooing. Shampoos (particularly those containing sulfates) strip your hair of all its natural oils, leaving it extremely dry and prone to matting, which is why it’s recommended that those with curly and kinky hair don’t use them.  However, I view pre-pooing as a waste of resources and time because whatever oils get stripped away from shampooing can always be put back in by using, guess what? Conditioner. That’s why it was invented to begin with. I don’t see the point in prolonging the washing process a few minutes by pre-pooing when I can just let the conditioner soak in my hair while I do other things in the shower.   

Layering products

Some naturals slather on 7 different products in their hair in an attempt to keep it well moisturized. Yes, kinky hair is naturally dry, because the oils from our scalp have trouble traveling down the length of our hair due to all of its coils and bends. However, it doesn’t need 7 products either. Slathering on all those products just prolongs your styling session and extends the time it takes for your hair to dry. Also, all those products are more likely to lead to buildup. You really only need 2 or 3 products-a leave in or moisturizer that contains water as one of the first three ingredients, a styler and an oil or butter to seal in the moisture and prevent it from dissipating from your hair. That’s it. To avoid having to re-wet hair that has long since dried during a styling session, try to find products that are heavy enough to keep it moisturized so you don’t have to use multiple products in one sitting.

All Day (or overnight) Deep Conditioning 

There is a school of thought in the natural community where some people believe that deep conditioners are a waste of money altogether, but I’m not one of them. My hair certainly notices when I’ve gone too long without a deep treatment. However, I don’t believe in doing it for longer than 30 minutes either. The ingredients in many deep conditioners are designed to work within the first 5 or 10 minutes. Leaving it on your hair for another 8 hours during the day or overnight isn’t going to make it do anything extra. Personally, walking around with conditioner dripping from my neck or having my damp conditioning cap get my pillows wet would irritate me. Once the 30 odd minutes are up, my deep treatment gets rinsed out of my hair and I move on.

Not mentioned in the above link but another thing I refuse to do is:

Wash in twists or braids 

Some women wash their hair while in twists or braids to avoid having their hair retangle during the process, but I personally don’t see the point. I tried it one time early on in my journey and the 6 twists I had in my hair kept unraveling during the wash, which meant that I had to keep stopping to retwist them which only added to the time I spent washing it. Utter fail. Plus, my hair didn’t feel all that clean that time either. The conditioner and/or shampoo isn’t able to get to the entire length of your hair while it’s braided or twisted. Other naturals will twist or braid their hair up into 4, 6 or 8 twists or plaits, then undo the twist or braid, wash the section, retwist or rebraid, then move on to the next section. It’s time-consuming just reading about it. Imagine actually doing it. Personally, I found that as my hair got to shoulder length stretched that it wasn’t possible to continue washing it loose, as I had been. My hair retangled too much and I got too many single strand knots to my liking that way. So I had to start washing it in sections. I part my hair into four sections, secure them with duckbill clips, then wash each section before moving on to the next. I do not twist or braid in the shower at all. For some, what I do sounds time consuming but I have to wash my hair this way or else I won’t retain length. It is what it is.  

What I will do is:

Finger-detangle  

This is the only part in the above link that I don’t agree with. Since my hair is very fine and fragile, it’s easy for it to sustain breakage with combs and brushes alone. I’m not the most patient person so it’s only too easy for me to take out tangles by ripping out my hair with a comb when I’m rushing. Which isn’t the business when you want to retain length. I actually don’t use brushes at all now since they tend to snap my hair. However, I haven’t given up combs entirely. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m able to find all tangles with my fingers and I don’t usually have the time it would require to do finger detangling thoroughly, so what I do is I finger detangle first, then follow up with a comb. Detangling both ways ensures I detangle as thoroughly as possible.    

For those that have the time to spend an entire day on their hair, more power to them. For me, one of the reasons why I went natural was so that I could avoid sitting in a salon for most of the day getting my hair done because they overbooked and the stylist had to tend to three other people’s heads before even touching mine. Doing the same thing while natural, albeit in the comfort of my own home, would kind of defeat the purpose of why I ditched chemicals in the first place.

Stereotypes of natural haired women

Posted in Beauty standard, Natural hair care, Racial/ethnic stereotyping on March 28, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

Since recent events have made me hyper aware of race and stereotypes, I’d figured I may as well discuss those issues as they relate to hair, since that is the main reason why I created this blog in the first place.

But first, here are some styles I’ve worn during the past week or so:

The first two pictures are a wash and go, the second two pictures are a flat twist out. I’ve been having a string of good hair days of late, so I’ve been fairly pleased.

As I’ve stated during the whole time I’ve had this blog, the way I’ve chosen to wear my hair is not the norm in the black community. Although more black women are ditching chemical straighteners and are choosing to go natural, we’re still a minority. Natural hair isn’t understood nor accepted by a number of blacks. Due to systemic racism and brainwashing, we are taught to believe that our curly and kinky hair are ugly and that straight hair is beautiful. The pressure to conform to this BS beauty standard can be so strong that women risk hair loss, burns and breathing problems just so they can fit in. From where I sit now, it’s pathetic, but at the same time it’s understandable given how heavily stratified race is in this society.

Here’s a breakdown of common stereotypes about natural hair and the women who wear it:

  • Natural hair is dirty. Because natural hair can have a rough, wiry appearance, some believe that naturals don’t wash their hair frequently. Speaking for myself and many other naturals that I’ve encountered through hair boards and in real life, that assumption is simply not the case. I often wash my hair twice a week, as do some other naturals. Some wash their hair every day. Naturals are advised that water is their friend and is the best moisturizer there is, so as a result, it leads many of them to wash their hair frequently. In contrast, many relaxed women are told that water is the devil because it dries out their hair and makes it frizzy, so they are advised not to wash it frequently. That’s right, I said it. When I was relaxed, I could go weeks without washing my hair in order to preserve a style, especially if it was initially done at a salon, because it would have been impossible for me to duplicate the style at home. Other formerly relaxed women on the hair boards have said the same thing. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some naturals who don’t wash frequently because they do exist, but in general, to say that our hair is dirty doesn’t have much basis in fact.
  • Natural hair is unmanageable. It’s only unmanageable if you handle it as you would straight hair. We naturals literally have to research how to handle our hair because many of us had mothers who had us use perms at an early age and as such, we never learned how to care for the hair texture we were born with. Which means never combing our hair while it’s dry. Which also means only using wide tooth combs and combing our hair when it’s wet or damp and full of conditioner. Any hair handling technique that is used for straight hair is death to curly and kinky hair.
  • All natural women are militant. The qualifying word all is particularly bothersome when it comes to discussing stereotypes because painting everyone with the same brush diminishes their humanity and uniqueness. As far as this stereotype goes, it has its roots in the 1960’s, when women went natural mainly to make a political statement. A lot of women today don’t decide to go natural to say “fuck you” to “The Man,” nor do they all wear dashikis, raise their hands in the black power salute nor shout “Black power!” and “Kill Whitey!” A lot of women decide to go natural for the same reasons I did-because they were sick of running from rain, humidity and pools, they were tired of caustic chemicals burning their scalps and they were tired of broken off hair. I personally am not a militant person, though some may disagree because of my posts about race the last few days. However, that still does not make me a militant person. I am not demanding that all white people be put to death since I have white friends. I’m merely discussing a topic that a number of people would rather avoid and I don’t feel that I can afford to run away from it. I don’t have the luxury of forgetting that I’m a black woman every day. So I have to deal with race because I’m directly affected by it.
  • All natural women are vegan/vegetarian. That qualifying word, “all,” again. There are some naturals that are vegan or vegetarian; however that does not describe yours truly. I do eat poultry and seafood the majority of the time, but I do enjoy a good burger every now and again. The idea that natural haired women are all Mother Earth types and health food nuts is interesting. Just because we’ve chosen not to put caustic chemicals in our hair doesn’t mean that we all extend that to the rest of our bodies.
  • Naturals don’t bathe or use deodorant. This one is hysterical. Refusing to use chemical straighteners doesn’t mean that we eschew all manner of personal hygiene nor does it mean that we need to go from one extreme to another. I’m not a fan of smelling other people’s funk, so I don’t feel the need to embrace mine.
  • Naturals only listen to neo-soul music (Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, India Arie, etc). The thought that all of us only listen to the music of other naturals like ourselves is hysterical. We listen to whatever music we like, just like anyone else. While I do listen to Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and India Arie and am a fan of all of them, I do like other people too. For instance, I’m a huge fan of Sade. Seeing her in concert last year was the ultimate experience for me. I also like Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Musiq and John Legend. Not to mention the old school, like Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle. I like hip hop. I like disco.  I like jazz. I even like (gasp!) some white artists like Sting and Adele. I just like music, period.
  • Naturals hate relaxed women. I can somewhat understand how this natural hair stereotype came about. You see, lurking in hair forums and out there on the streets, there are women who have made it their life’s mission to convert the world to natural, much like former smokers and alcoholics who make it their life’s work to denigrate smoking and drinking every chance they get.  Again, this isn’t all natural women. Just some. Personally, life is too short for me to denigrate the hairstyle choices of my friends and family. While I would be overjoyed if they gave up relaxers and other chemical straighteners, browbeating them into it wouldn’t work and may cause them to do the opposite, which is cling to the chemicals more tightly. They have to come to the light in their own time, like I did, if they ever do. Besides, generally, what other people do to their hair makes no nevermind to me. As naturals are a minority, we are bound to interact with relaxed women at some point during our everyday lives. Many of our mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends and co-workers are relaxed and to ignore them because they have yet to see the light is silly.

I must also add that the above listed beliefs are often held by people of color, not white people. I’ve found that a lot of whites really don’t care about our hair. Much of the negativity and disdain surrounding it comes from our own people. Whites have no monopoly when it comes to stereotyping and prejudice. Anybody of any stripe can harbor stereotypes about anything. The difference is how we choose to handle them.