Posts Categorized: Going Natural

June 18, 2013

“Love What You Got”

This is an awesome video all around, but Lady Ross hit it on the head when she implored us all to really just accept & love the hair that we already have.

That is all you must do to love. Accept all of you.

And if you’re asking that quiet question of, “well, how do I do that?!” The answer is simpler than you thought. You must choose to love.

Now it may not come right away, but it begins with the commitment to follow the journey to exploring & discovering the many facets of your hair. But you have to do the work.

& along the way, what you will discover is something so much more than hair innuendoes and compliments. Eventually, you discover a part of you that was meant to be uncovered & untwisted & revealed for not just the world to admire; but for you to cherish as wholly you. Begin to accept the grime & dirt & good as what they are, a part of you.

In it’s purest form, this is all quite relative – and depending on the conversation, we just may all agree that ‘hair is just hair,’ but over the years I’ve quietly learned to discard that argument. Since putting my heart and the care of my hands into nurturing my FRO, I know that what I have today is a relationship that is rooted in love. No doubts there. And it’s been my experience thus far that there simply is no fairness in limiting my experiences over the years to ‘just‘ moments. I can never ‘just‘ love my hair. I go in.

I do secretly have this great wish that we may, at some point or another – all come to this empathic understanding – a moment where all that our hair is to the world is something that is uniquely a part of us, belongs to us, can only be defined by a sole undeniable truth. A truth that can never falter bend or break when presented with another person’s reproach or dismay at what our hair means, sounds or looks to them.

But until then, I have chosen to love without abandon.

As of today, what I know of my Fro is this: It is ever-changing. Stubborn. Soft-hearted. Has a quiet ego. Loved.

How about you…what’s to love about your hair?

May 24, 2011

If you don’t try, you’ll never learn

Over the past few years I’m sure many of us in our respective cities and neighborhoods have noticed a slight influx in women proudly wearing their newly natural coifs. In my own personal life, I’ve seen what can only be described as a growing coalition of Fro-Action in and around my city….and I live in Brooklyn! Even a few close friends have chosen the natural route, BIG CHOPPED and are now finding their own way along this journey.

For many years I felt as if I was the only young Fro-in rockin & styling her own hair, figuring out this natural hair ish, not a single relative, BFF or co-worker to share & discuss product info, hair styles etc. Ironically, this imposed isolation I was in really did help to instill within me a strong sense of confidence, especially when it came to the reaction of those who simply could not understand my choice.

But I did not run out of the gates knowing much…if anything about dealing with my hair, and I understand firsthand that this is the most defining common factor facing many newly naturals. Where do I start? What products do I use? How much time do I have to spend on my hair?!

Here’s the deal. You have to TRY.

I’m not talking about seeking advice from you natural hair peers, stalking your favorite Youtube gurus and asking a bevy of questions on the Twitter #naturalhair hashtag (…these certainly do have their place). Nope. I’m saying that you must put forth the effort to  manage your own hair the best way you now how. Get your hands dirty,  attempt to know something about the strands that run through your own fingers as opposed to someone else.

Sounds simple, yah? But what I’ve continued to notice is this need for immediacy when it comes to caring for our hair. This instant need to figure it all out within one single breath or one hyperactive episode of Glee.

“How long do you spend on your hair?! 3 hours…WTH!”

I’ve been natural for well over ten years, and continue to receive off handed comments about how long I dote on my Fro. Truthfully, it’s of no consequence. But if you’are seeking advice from me or any other natural haired gal who cares for her strands with a dedicated approach, yet refuse to transfer it into action…it’s a disservice to how much you could in fact learn.

Time really shouldn’t be the issue here, nor the type of product or styling tool you use, because with practice, patience and a better understanding of what it means to nurture textured hair…that is when you’ll see results that you are most proud of.  What was often a 4 hour ‘ordeal’ mixed with detangling & shingling, can realistically be cut in half with the right apporach. And practice, no matter the intended style!

In reality many of us live busy, structured lives with families and friends to hold our attention from day to day, and for the most part cannot fathom spending anywhere from 2-4 hours on our tresses. But all of us need to start somewhere. Whether you’re natural for 10 years or 6 months, it’s often about the approach heading in. If you’re on this journey, you have to abstain from standing still. Give it a go!

March 18, 2011

How To Overcome a Curltastrophe

Is there a better word out there to describe what many natural haired curly femmes go through when hair tragedy strikes? The term Curltastrophe instantly brings me back to some of the worst experiences I’ve had over the years caring for my natural hair, the most curl altering one being my most recent heat damage fiasco.

Pantene along with NaturallyCurly.com are hosting a nifty giveaway asking ladies to spill their most embarrassing moments over the years. Prizes include a years supply of the Pantene Curly Hair Series along with a Flip Camera!

Thanks to an old PC crashing a few years ago, I lost many of those embarrassing pictures chronicling my ups and downs with frequent Curltastrophes, yet in hindsight what helped me to overcome those moments was this almost insatiable desire not to let my hair have the last word. I often pledged each time a roller set did not turn out the way I’d envisioned, or a flat twist bombed before it was properly unveiled, that I’d keep trying or learn enough to push forward. In this regard, I’d say the ol saying “Hair is Just Hair…” truly applies.

There are countless triggers helping to form some of our worst hair memories, a lot linked back to those early days during transitioning, that first BIG CHOP experience or even outside influences brought on my friends/family members who often sling anything but praise for the ‘new look.’

SMILE… BREATHE…ACCESS….BE THANKFUL. REPEAT

Realistically, you can do any of the aforementioned in any order and still feel triumphant. Trust me, that when you smile in the face of an ignoramus trying to ruin your stride with a rude comment, it’s easier to breathe…take a few counts and access where you are. You’re a curly hair’ed natural femme who’s dared to be authentic, has defied societal standards and turned old tired conventions of beauty on their head. Under your belt is the freedom to set your own rules, inspire others to do the same and still be thankful. So many of us are gifted each day to try again…try a new style, cut off those fried damaged ends or stand up to an assholic who thinks it’s his business what they think about YOUR hair (this part’s often fun!)

Now, if none of this works I implore you to check out these 8 Simple Affirmations penned by Ev’Yan over at her new venture, Sex, Love & Liberation, or this wonderful salute to natural hair by PBG over at Dirty Pretty Thangs. If you have to…take notes. Then repeat…

February 27, 2011

Top Tools Used to Detangle Natural Hair

 

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A few months back I put together a few tips & methods I’d learned over the years for properly detangling natural hair, the majority of which I still practice today. The basics still apply especially after embarking on this year’s hair challenge,  but after reading the flurry of regimes YOU guys recently posted I thought it’d be helpful to add to the pile of goodness.

Now, while I’m happy to proclaim that my detangling routine is no longer as arduous a struggle as say…three years ago, it’s still my least anticipated part of my weekly routine. With that said, I still think it’s always important to learn & improve on caring for natural hair no matter if you’re newly natural or 10 years in. Implementing and evaluating hair’s needs on a consistent basis will no doubt save you not only time, but increase overall hair health.

Finger Combing

This was by far the most mentioned method to detangling & after my first attempt last week while in the shower I can understand why. After pre-pooing and sectioning hair into quadrants, I began finger detangling & loosening up small & large tangles. According to Miss Priss, you’re able to catch more knots & believe it or not our fingers are in fact “The Original Tool!” So true, but often when fingers aren’t enough hand held tools can be called in to finish the job.

Ouidad Comb

Whenever I think hair reviews for Natural Hair I instantly think EmpressRi, and sure enough she reviewed this comb early last year. This is a great alternative  for those who abhor the use of a brush of any kind when detangling or styling hair, the Ouidad according to Isabelle is “kind of like using two shower combs at once in quick succession.” If you’re endowed with thick/dense hair, my guess is this would be ideal. Fine Haired curlies might be safer with a more gentler tool.

Jilbere Comb

Even I have a special place in my heart for this comb & the reason why I stopped using it was simply because I’d failed to carry it with me during my most recent move. This tool works wonders while in the shower using a steady stream of water when hair is soaking wet. Not great for overall curl definition, but gentle enough on hair to free up previous tangles. Ideal for use during the Summer for those wash-n-go’s or when you want an easy no fuss routine, without worrying about excess breakage. Whether you fall into line with the 2a’s or 4c’s, it seems to work well across the board.

Modified Denman

This method is popular amongst naturals who love their original Denman brush for detangling & defining, yet prefer a gentler tug when smoothing and eliminating tangles. This is great no matter your hair’s texture & especially if you notice excess breakage or split ends caused by over manipulation. A great how-to on modifying the Denman brush is a vid from A Grl Can Mac.

What We All Agree On…

  • Sectioning is essential
  • A great detangling conditioner with adequate slip helps tremendously (think Aussie Moist, Suave Condish, Herbal Essences)
  • A wide toothed comb will always have your hair’s back…
  • Patience, Prayer & some Good Music will lead you to still waters tangle free hair…

*Please fill me in! If there are any tips I might’ve glanced over or completely left out,  drop em in the comments or check out the original post for more ideas!*

 

February 21, 2011

Is it Possible To Fail at Natural Hair?

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Recently I attended another wonderfully organized Natural Hair event hosted by Karen of Karen’s Body Beautiful here in Brooklyn, NY and was amazed at the sheer volume of women who came out. I mentioned to a friend who also attended, that the amount of natural women in the room left me a tad overwhelmed, and this was not due to any personal inadequacies, but more so to do with the undeniable warmth and camaraderie that filled the air. If you’ve secured a Natural Hair meetup under your belt already, you may have an inkling as to what I mean.

In a matter of minutes after walking into the event & even before I could grab a drink or a slice of red velvet cake, I was exchanging tips, routines and encouragement with  ladies I’d never met before, women I’d only seen for a little over 8 minutes on the Youtube screen & even a chance meeting with the young woman who’d inspired the tail end of this post.

After coming home with a raspy voice & a few hair goodies richer, the thought of some Natural Haired women not having access to this kind of inspiration & motivation led me to question whether some do in fact give up the journey due to insuffiicient support & encouragment from friends, family & loved ones.

The failures most of us experience along the journey are often learning curves & small setbacks allowing us to reevaluate what it is we’ve done wrong, which direction to head in and what advice we could finally kick to the curb. Ironically, it’s the handful of failures more so than the successes that enable many of us to share & emphasize with others who are on the same journey.

If you’ve found yourself saying “natural hair might not be for me” or feelings of failure have annoyingly crept in, do realize that most successful journey’s whether they’re hair or heart oriented require constant changes in perspective & learning.

How To Stay On Track:

  • Try different methods of caring for your natural hair. If you’ve exhausted all avenues, stayed up until 3 a.m. watching Youtube vids and trolling  forum boards searching for the ultimate hair game plan. Stop. Reassess & head for the mirror. Nothing beats hands on experience and learning from the almighty touch. Take it slow, practice & take mental note of what you could do better. i.e. detangling, deep conditioning, nightly routines.
  • Place the ‘look game’ on pause and focus first on hair health. Too often we prioritize on achieving the right ‘look’ while forgetting the health of our our hair is just as important & often contributes to the overall feel, texture of our strands. The right ‘look’ comes after you put the appropriate amount of ‘work’ in.
  • Reach out to fellow naturals, plan to attend a Natural Hair Meetup in your area and challenge yourself to think further outside the box than what you’re normally used to.
  • Build your own pillar of support. Tear down negative walls (even the ones you’ve built) and accept only positive & supportive people into your life. If Negative Nancy happens to be a family member or a close friend, reevaluate your own reasons for going natural & don’t be afraid to reaffirm & stick to those reasons.
  • Challenge Yourself! The start of the new year is apropos for this kind of thing, but change is always on it’s own continuum, and ‘now’ is always the perfect time to start.

* If you’ve recently attended a natural hair event in your city, would love to hear your experiences!*

March 23, 2010

Reader Question: Fairy Knots

I hate that I don’t have much to update as far as my hair goes, and I will… without shame blame it solely on my new devotion to the twist. I have been on a two-strand twisting binge for the past few weeks, & each glance in the mirror further deepens my love for them. Alas, I can’t quit my twists, so instead my brain is nudging me to answer a reader questions that I’ve neglected for much too long;-).

liberalheart writes:

I am looking for some information on how to avoid or tame the little knot kernels at the end of my TWA. They are driving me crazy!!! I don’t know if I am the only person that suffers from this or not, I have been looking for info on the matter to no avail.

This is a tricky question for me simply because I never experienced knots at the end of my TWA many moons ago. I did however experience them a few months back when my hair was in dire need of a good trim. The ends of my hair were brittle, dry to the touch even after an adequate deep conditioning making the only option a snipping session.  Over time, you learn to rely on your instincts as far as when or how often to trim your hair, yet being forced into a trim due to knots and snarls is a whole other story.

During my TWA years, I rarely wore my hair out and about. My fro was, and still is naturally prone to dryness and while it was readjusting to a new texture…well, essentially it battled its own state of confusion as far as retaining moisture &  relating to its new environment. I was also on the fast track to obtaining length. I was obsessed with reaching a hair goal similar to my relaxed days. I was routinely fixated on all the natural haired pictures I came across while flipping through pages of Essence or Honey because in all honesty, they were few and far between. To protect my ends & to abstain from foreseen knotting, I wore protective styles for the majority of TWA years, prolonging the styles until my hair was well past shoulder length. I never endured snarls at the ends of my hair because they were always well hidden or protected from environmental elements.

Bottom line, if you & your hair are going through a period of frustration, it’s time to take a step back & evaluate your regimen.  Or, if you haven’t developed one, time to treat your hair to a regimen based on consistency.  No two heads of natural hair are the same. Ever, and this goes way beyond the surface & the look of one’s style, therefore no matter the length of your hair, knots are a part of a natural haired person’s life, & subsequently the factors attributed to these knots will vary from fro to fro.

One of my favorite bloggers, Alice of Diary of a Kinky Curly Transitioner, devoted a post to this sometime last year:

Fairy knots are tiny, single strand knots in your hair. They got their name from the fact they are so small only a fairy could have tied them! These generally appear on the ends and then work their way up if you don’t take care of them ASAP. If you wear your hair out a lot (wash and gos, wild and loose, etc.) you’re going to be more prone to them because your ends aren’t protected and when you add the nature of curly hair (curls on itself) you’re asking for some trouble.

There are two ways to take care of them:

1) Snip them off. Easy. Breezy. Beautiful.

2) DETANGLE them out. This can be time consuming, I’ve had some luck with a heavy co-wash conditioner and olive oil. I gently combed the ends with my Denman to get them out. It took FOREVER and I snapped most of my hair off at the knots while detangling them so you’re REALLY better of with option 1.

Prevention is easy. Keep your hair relatively snag free (watch your collars!), condition and wear protective styles so the fairies won’t get you!

If you decide to detangle them out of your hair, be sure to use a wide enough comb, a conditioner with a variable amount of slip (a good cheapie is VO5’s Moiture Milks line;-), or be sure to add/use a penetrating/nourishing oil such as coconut or olive oil.

Figuring out which products work best for your hair is also quite important during TWA stages, though arming yourself with the knowledge of what your hair inherently needs is very different from shopping willy nilly for a whole host of twisting creams & gels. Determining your hair’s porosity, texture & moisture balance are all key to determining what products will work best on your hair. Marsha, from the fab Curl friendly line, Curl Junkie wrote a very detailed & informative post on this a few weeks back:

First let me say that we all have to remember that there are many factors that go into determining whether or not a product works for you. Here are just some things to consider (assuming you haven’t found your perfect combos yet):

1)Outside Weather – including Dew points, temperature, relative humidity, wind, rain, snow, etc…

2)How you treat your hair – Do you use heat regularly? Do you color your hair? Do you sleep on a cotton pillowcase vs. satin vs. whatever… Is it damaged or generally healthy?

3)Inside Environment – Humidity – is it relatively dry or most in your home or office?

4)Hair Texture – Fine through normal through Coarse (For the sake of this article, on a 1-10 scale, I’ll say that the very finest of hair is a 1 and the coarsest of hair is a 10). I find that most people who think they have really coarse hair don’t. This is mainly due to frame of reference. You’d need to feel truly coarse hair (which is typically given as Asian/Native American, although I have felt variations there as well and have seen the coarsest hair in my life on a Caucasian head…2 actually…and they were both red-heads…humm…). This isn’t to say that you aren’t right, but it is likely that your hair is in the 6-9 range. Just as with fine hair, you’ll be in the 2-4 range. It turns out, when I compare my hair strands with other folks hair, that I fall in the normal to fine range (about a 4)…that was a surprise to me!

5)Hair Porosity – Low-normal-high (which most people will not have unless their hair is damaged/bleached/etc). For the sake of this article, low porosity hair will feel smooth moving your fingers up and down the shaft and also has problems absorbing water/product/chemicals (you may see water beading up on the hair). High porosity hair will feel bumpy or a little rough (due to the cuticle layer not laying very flatly) and absorbs almost too much of everything (and will release it easily too, including moisture!).

6)Hair Density – Do you have a lot of hair on your head or very little (so you see your scalp easily)?

7)Wave/Curl Pattern – I think this a factor, although not the major one. For example, generally speaking, I think that if you have a weaker wave/curl pattern with fine-normal hair you may want to use a hard holding gel with your products to support your pattern.

8)Products you use on your hair – again, the quality, gentleness or harshness of the products you use regularly on your hair. Sometimes you can do damage with a harsh shampoo, sulfate or sulfate-free. Sometimes you need some protein and sometimes not. Sometimes you need a particular type of protein (like say the protein in an ingredient like Lecithin which even coarse heads seem to be OK with…).

9)How many times per week do you wash/condition/style your hair?

10)The temperature of the water you use to wash your hair…think about it, if you shower in hot water (like I do), then you create a great moisture rich environment for your hair to soak up moisture…you almost turn your conditioners into Deep Treatments! I find that even folks who normally avoid say glycerin in products, could use it in this environment and rinse it out (making sure not to use glycerin in their stylers). The glycerin helps to soak up the moisture in the shower air (this is not scientific, just what I’ve found! :-P)

Before giving into the frustrations of the fairy knots, try deep conditioning with a non-drying, silicone free conditioner that won’t cause an excess in buildup. Clarify your hair/scalp at least once a month ( Apple Cider Vinegar is a great option!), try protective styling! I used to LOVE wearing my hair in tiny two-strand twists which always produced the cutest curly fro, or moisturized single coils which are often easier to maintain and style than two-strands.

Hope this helps & you find a solution to those stubborn knots;-)!