Posts Categorized: natural hair

December 27, 2011

SELF DEFINED NATURAL – APRIL!!

With 2011 quickly coming to a close and most of us reflecting on prospects of 2012, I couldn’t think of a better person to exemplify how we should all live our lives no matter the season or place. I came across April’s blog several weeks back and immediately was drawn to her positive spirit, strong desire to experience life’s adventures on her own terms…but most of all her willingness to share those adventures so that other’s could feel inspired enough to create a path to their own journeys. A brown girl traveling cross continents is oddly treated as a rarity these days, but it’s always exciting to see those who defy those tired standards.

Where did the idea for The Absolute Travel Addict come from? How do you maintain the passion for what you do with the blog?

After deciding not to go to get an MBA, I really started to work on changing my mindset and pursing my interests and passions. I started traveling more and more. Once I got back from one trip, I was already thinking about where I would go next. I was constantly searching for great fares and how to travel for free using loyalty points and mile. It’s an addiction, hence the name Absolute Travel Addict. Every amazing experience and person I meet on the road and everyone who reaches out with questions or shares how I’ve encouraged them to do something new is motivation to keep doing this.

Tell us how you discovered your sense of self while traveling? When did it happen?

It would definitely be the 6 weeks I spent in South Africa in 2005. I was on an independent research trip and spent my time traveling around the country learning more about the impact of the Bantu Education system on students interested in engineering education and careers. In South Africa I reconnected with who I was at the core and really internalized how similar we are as a human race. It made me fully realize the power I have as an individual and potential I was yet to harness. And though it sounds cliché, this trip was another reminder of all the many things I am thankful for and often take for granted.

What’s been the reaction from foreigners while traveling? Are they surprised?

It really depends on where I travel. It’s not uncommon to get stares and photos snapped when they think you don’t see them. Thankfully I’ve never been grabbed or pulled on, which seems to happen quite frequently in some places. The worst stares for me surprisingly were in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And I don’t really know why because there were people that looked liked me that live there. Maybe it was the hair? Who knows? It’s sad that many people are surprised to find out I’m American. They assume I’m not because I’m traveling outside of the United States, a black female, usually travel alone and not afraid to connect with people.

Other than lugging around clothes and basic essentials, what of importance do you carry with you while traveling? Why?

I typically have my Flip cam, Nikon DSLR, Droid 2 Global and laptop because I’m somewhat of a tech nerd. I like to stay connected and try to share my experiences in real time. My phone’s GPS has helped me navigate foreign cities and helped me get un-lost a handful of times. I also keep a small notebook to jot down thoughts or notes about specific place I visit or person I meet.

What aspect of living this life brings you the most joy?

It absolutely warms my heart to connect with new and interesting people on a truly personal level. People not concerned with where I went to school, what care I drive, where I work or how much money I make (or don’t make). It is amazing to see how much you have in common and how easily you can connect with someone who speaks a different language and has lived a life which seems to be a complete 180 from yours.

Any advice you’d give to women who aren’t yet motivated to step out & see the world?

If you don’t have a passport, get one now! You never know when an opportunity to travel will arise and you should be ready. I recently won a trip to the Bahamas and since I had my passport, I was ready to go 2 days after notification of winning. A passport is good for 10 years, so you have plenty of time to pick a destination, plan your trip, save and go! Having a passport and getting out and exploring the world can be an amazing and life altering experience. And, given the competition in the global market place, having international experience makes you more marketable professionally.

Any favorite discoveries/revelations made while traveling?

One of the biggest revelations is that I really prefer to travel alone. It’s really difficult to find people who like to travel the same way you do. I found myself wandering off from friends to do things I wanted that others weren’t interested in. For more of my revelations while traveling, check out my list of 7 travel truths.

What’s your source of inspiration for being natural (going natural)?

I have really fine hair. It grows long, but when chemically treated it just looks a sad, flat mess. I would keep it cut short and layered to bring body and volume. I finally just decided to stop relaxing my hair and enjoy its natural state. There are so many natural woman who have inspired me to keep going, especially the natural hair bloggers and bloggers out there and amazing stylists Aliah at 2-SWAG in Atlanta and Carole at Mahogany Hair Revolution in Los Angeles.

What styles do you rely on while traveling? Favorite products?

When traveling, I typically started with some style of twists and end up rocking a twist out and wash and go if the trip is extended. On my last trip to Jamaica, I had my twists interlocked at the roots and patiently waiting for my air to loc. As of late Shea Moisture Retention shampoo and the Coconut hold and shine moisture mist are all I use on my hair when on the road.

Explain your idea of the self-defined woman today & where do you hope to be in five years?

I think Maya Angelou sums up my idea of a self-defined woman in one of my favorite quotes.

A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination, prepared to be herself and only herself. ~Maya Angelou

Fives years from now, I hope to be a woman totally in harmony with my spirit, still exploring the world and making a difference in other people’s lives.

 Favorite quote that’s made an impact on your life?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Any projects, collaborations you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

I’m a huge supporter of the Passport Party Project, an initiative started by Tracey Friley of OneBrownGirl.com that gifts passports to teen girls ages 11-16. I would encourage you all to check out the site and see how you can help give girls a world view.

This year should be another great year in travel. I’m excited to spend the first quarter of the year abroad and have a few projects that I’m working on to help people set and achieve their travel dreams. For more information, you can subscribe or connect with me through the following:

 

December 19, 2011

Hydrate Your Natural Hair | Huetiful Steamer Review

It’s been a long time coming for this particular review, but after coming home from an impromptu trip to the grocery store and mumbling under a few breaths about how truly cold it’s gotten in the past week or so…I just knew it was time.  Winter is finally here and I’m sure a lot of us are already searching for products and devices to help keep our natural hair moisturized, healthy and safe from the harsh weather.

The goal is to do a pretty thorough review based on my experiences using the steamer, though if you have any questions about usage, how to assemble etc., please reference the incredibly useful video posted below or the operational manual. Still have questions? Pop them in the comment section & I’ll do my best to answer!

And much like you guys, I’ve been following the rise of the hair steamer within the natural hair community over the past year or so, but decided to invest when the lovely folks behind Huetiful landed here in my backyard of Brooklyn, right at the Karen’s Body Beautiful Store. I scored the gem at a pretty discount, managed to bite fingers for a about two weeks before it was finally shipped!

So here’s what you get!

  • Main Unit
  • Hair Hood + Water Drain
  • Bracket (used to connect the hood to main unit)
  • Facial Steamer (comes at an additional cost of $19.95)
  • Huetiful Spa Band (used to trap condensation once under the steamer $4.95)

The assembly process is thankfully a no brainer, so onto the good stuff. What does the steamer actually do for the health of natural hair?  Like most heat treatments, this works to lift the top layer of the hair cuticle allowing deep conditioners to penetrate the hair shaft more effectively. The steam hydrates your coils, replenishes any lost moisture and according to the product claim’s, works 5 times more effectively than deep conditioners alone.

The entire process is fairly easy with a simple on/off switch along with what I think is the defining feature, the Ozone option. While purchasing the steamer at the KBB store, I had the chance to ask the President & Founder, Ken Burkeen how it benefits the hair. Now, if you’re a gal with sensitive scalp issues…time to perk up! The Ozone feature essentially targets the scalp more effectively for a deeper cleanse, riding it of any buildup, freeing the area of potential bacteria and allowing for a clean slate. This was the kicker for me, and honestly the only reason I would have invested in a steamer. Scalp health is sooo very important when you’re what I’d call an ‘at home natural.’ A lot of my hair care stays within the four walls of my apartment, therefore it’s a must for me to cover ALL bases, and the scalp is always the best place to start.

Things to consider:

Important not to overfill the max line. Slowly add your water to the top of the main unit, paying attention to the line mark. The steamer will not work if your cup runneth over for safety reasons. An overflowing boiling cup of liquid is not cute.

The steamer has it’s own built in self-timer which runs for 18 minutes, so grab a magazine, favorite book and chill for a bit. Once you’re done, wait a good 10 minutes before emptying the spout underneath the hood. If careful, the remaining liquid should not be too hot. Try to have a small cup or bowl underneath to catch

Tips & Tricks:

  1. Make sure your ends are able to fit under the hood of the steamer. Trust me, once the device gets going, there’s good enough coverage to cover the entire head. I find the best way to do this is to use duck clips to secure hair on top of the head.
  2. I’m a fan of the whole ‘spa process’ and always think, ‘why not go the extra mile?’ Adding in a few of your favorite essential oils like lavender, tea tree or peppermint  can be very beneficial to the scalp. Try just a few drops to start so the aroma is not too overwhelming. My favorite addition during each steam treatment is rose-water. Hair feels incredibly soft afterwards, and the smell is divine! So calming.
  3. **Important to make sure the cup is securely fastened and not lose. The best way to test this is to pay attention to how the steamer acts once it’s fully up & running. The only area where steam should be escaping is under the hood. Noticing steam coming from the main unit? Definitely want to start over for a more effective treatment.

What Kind of Conditioners to Use for a Steam Treatment?

The Huetiful line comes with it’s own deep treatment system, which is available for purchase through their site, though using some of your favorite deep conditioners work just as well. Favorites to use include the Anita Grant Rhassoul Clay treatment, Shea Moisture’s Balancing Conditioner or any cream based product that you can leave in the hair for 15-30 minutes.

Using the right DC can really make or break your steam treatment, so pick carefully and go with Holy Grails, tried & true’s or favorite at home mixes that always get the job done. The end result should be softer more manageable hair that’s easier to detangle. Long term results? You should see a decrease in breakage, split ends, dry hair & an overall increase in hair’s moisture.

Final Thoughts:

No doubt this is an investment for most naturals, but one I think makes a big difference in your hair’s overall health. Starting at $114.95 you get a 45 day money back guarantee, one year replacement warranty should certain parts go awry, and great customer support.

This video is an awesome intro to the steamer:

Click here for more videos on how to assemble the steamer & Trouble Shooting Tips. Itching for a sale? Stay up to date by visiting their Facebook Page which is where I scored my discount tip!

Overall I’ve loved the benefits of using the steamer. Because it’s table top, it fits right into the corners of my small BK apartment, & I’m able to pull it out about twice a month when FRO needs some extra love. I’d recommend the steamer to those who truly want to invest in their routine, or who simply enjoy the at home spa experience…seriously, nothing beats it!

December 16, 2011

Well, Hello Twist-Out

It’s been forever and a day since I updated you guys on the weekly hair shenanigans (remember those?!). Now, if I were to be honest…I’d have to divulge a bit of truth & say that FRO & I have been winging it as far as when we get down to wash & even what we’ve been using. I won’t even try to blame it on the hustle & bustle of the holiday season. Nope. I’ve simply been chalking it up to ‘bad blogger syndrome,’ & kept it moving. But this week I realized that FRO has really made some significant progress in terms of length & just overall appearance. There were …more than a handful of grey hairs found a few weeks ago on the eve of the big 3-0 (which are sooooo very amusing!), as well as an impromptu length check (bra strap length…!!!). So what have I been doing? 

Products Used:

There haven’t been major change made to the routine, except the yearly switch to more winter friendly products that won’t leave FRO parched. The scalp is still numero 1 priority, and adjusting the routine by using a scalp friendly treatment has done wonders. Traditionally I apply the serum in sections, issue a 2-3 minute scalp massage & sit under a heated cap for 15 minutes. Once rinsed, I follow the rest of the Process accordingly.

Last week found me at a holiday party where I did don the twist-out, something I’ve rarely done lately. Definitely one of those gals who does not mind keeping the natural hair under wraps until the occasion calls for it.

I’ve also been battling a pretty nasty cold which grossly morphed into a bad case of bronchitis this week, just the worst. Incubating my life over the past week has been annoying at best. But hopefully back on the mend & should have a couple posts up next week. Lord knows I’v been trying to do a length check vid/post for the longest evah!! But will have to get down to it, because this past week I finally measured in at bra-strap length. That little voice in the  mirror hinted that this might be epic…so here’s to bringing you guys actual proof in a non-clutzy maner.

I’ll be updating the FB page with a few more pics this weekend as well, & would love to know how you’re rockin the do this Holiday? Let me know in the comments below or share a pic on the FB Fan Page! Next months marks Back To Curly’s 3 year anniversary & there will be special treats for my FB peeps;)

December 9, 2011

Back To Curly’s Curl Crush NYC Event Recap!!

Happy Weekend, All!! I really couldn’t wrap up this week without bringing you the awesomeness that was the Curl Crush event here in NYC this past week! Put on by the immensely inspiring team behind Curly Girl Collective, THIS really was just the start as to how natural hair femmes get down in the Big Apple! The amount of love, inspiration, SMILES, admiration, positivity that was filling up the beautiful space was pretty remarkable. The who’s how in the blogoshpere were all present & accounted for, as were many of the amazing natural hair brands and names we follow, including Dickey from Hair Rules & my favorite peeps behind Essence Streetstyle!

There’s nothing but fierceness amongst these ladies, all of whom I admire

I’m always in awe of a yummy treat and had the pleasure of sampling thee most decadent velvet cupcakes I think I’ve ever had from bakery Sydney’s Sweets. The vanilla buttercreme was…!!!

…Had fun hangin & catching up with the girls after a long day at work

Finally had the pleasure of catching up with BK Maven and blogging friend Miss Moon!

There were a ton of games and prizes to win, including the night’s themed event…speed dating!! I must admit, I was NERVOUS, lol!! Thankfully, the ladies did provide ‘cheat’ sheets to break the ice, and everyone managed to have the best time.

Dickey made it more fun by participating and answering all our questions, LOVE!!

I really didn’t get through half the night before my camera died, yet it’s safe to say I’d love nothing more than to attend another event like this one!! The benefits of attending a well put together event to celebrate the dopeness of natural hair can only be measured once you attend and experience that high level of inspiration. No. joke.

For even more pics from the event, check out Nicole’s awesome spread over at Essence Online. 

If you haven’t made plans to attend a natural meetup in the near future…do it NOW!! Do it once…but just do it!! There’s nothing like being in a room filled with enough women to keep you motivated along your natural hair journey. Huge thanks to the incredible team behind Curly Girl Collective...but most of all, besos to all the women who came out in the pouring rain to mingle, date, cheese and be each other’s source of inspiration!

December 6, 2011

Wish Lists & Berries

I always have a tough time widdling down the Christmas list each year, and I’m beginning to believe its just gotten even longer considering the amount of time spent on the internets browsing, bookmarking and adding to wish-lists. Few weeks ago I discovered Evernote a nifty online app that’s pretty much been a saving grace helping me keep track of all the crazy lists, links and notes that tend to pile up. Yes, I’m a link hoarder…but goodness, so are sooooo many other folks! Seriously, if you’re like me and misplace your keys along with a million different sticky notes, give this a go. The fact that you can access your lists via your smart phone is just…!

And yeah….I know I’m probably late to the game, but I’m in lurv with this thing, lol. In my downtime I finally started to pull together something that resembles a holiday wish list.

  1. The Oyin crew have decided to KEEP the super popular Sugar Berry Pomade that up till now was a limited release goodie. I’ve yet to do a review on this….but if you need a refresher course on my complete adoration for this product, click here. It’s epic. (Sugar Berry Pomade, $12)
  2. This one’s a guilty pleasure…or maybe just an ode to my childhood…? At any rate, if you’ve yet to meet a thirty-something woman who still loves to color within the lines….literally. *Waves*. I’ve had this book in the get-list for some time, and think it’s absolutely gorgeous! Coloring for me is often therapeutic and tends to put my mind at ease when there’s ultimately one too many distractions in the air. I’ve scored some beautiful ones in the past & would love to add to the collection. (The Matta Indian Coloring Book, $12)
  3. It’s always hard to pick a favorite print from this shop, but Ellie is rocking that up-do somethin proper! I’ve long since put a halt on decorating my BK pad, but there are some great new prints in the Pairabirds collection. Tabitha Brown has not only made beautiful portraits that would look snazzy on any wall…but they are easily affordable. (Yearbook Ellie, $20)
  4. My accessory game has fallen off lately, and the hunt is officially on for something new. While rocking mostly twists & protective styles in the colder months, there’s a tendency to spruce things up with a cute scarf like this one. Traditional headbands often leave me with headaches and can sometimes rip the baby hairs at the base of my neck (no joke…), so I’ve always been a head/wrap/band kind of natural. (Retro Chic, $7)

I’ve come to think of this as the ‘preliminary list’ just to get the ball rolling, but also made promises not to go overboard! Still haven’t added books to the list;). Have you guys started shopping? What’s made it to your Holiday Lists so far?