Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Natural vs. Relaxed: How We're the Same

I’ve been thinking a lot about relaxed hair lately. 

No, I’m not reverting.  I just realized that amongst all the debate about natural vs. relaxed – what’s good hair and what’s not, what’s easier to take care of, what’s more socially acceptable – there are a lot of similarities we share.  I discovered this while trying to help my (relaxed) sister take better care of her hair.  She started asking questions about why her hair isn’t growing, what products work best, how to keep her hair straight in between relaxers, etc.  And then I was like LIGHTBULB!

A lot of naturals have been relaxed before.  My natural journey actually began with me trying to improve the health of my relaxed hair. My first lessons were about the importance of moisture, protein and protective styling – all taught by YoutTube Guru Ateeya. 

So here are some practices that natural and relaxed girls share in the never ending quest for long, healthy hair.

Cleansing – A clean scalp paves the way for growth.  It clears product buildup and debris (i.e. dust, dirt, dandruff, etc.) so that new hair has a better chance to grow.  And while an actual shampoo every now and then certainly does the job, co-washing works wonders for both the natural and relaxed. 

Conditioning/Deep Conditioning --  When I was relaxed, I never really believed in conditioners like I do now.  I know it helped turn my relaxed hair around and depend on them now to feed my natural hair.  I also began regularly deep conditioning, which honestly revived my hair no matter what I had done to it. 

Protein(ing?) – Now even though I learned a lot about protein from Ateeya, I realized I sort of already knew its benefits.  Years ago, I worked at a job that stressed me to the point of affecting my health.  I began losing my hair…actually balding.  My mom took notice and recommended I get a beautician to look at it.  She suggested I cut it all off and start fresh.   In the coming months, I learned that protein treatments were going to help rebuild my hair and it did.  I grew back my former length in less than six months after having all but an inch or two of my hair cut off.  Protein rebuilds.

Moisturizing – Healthy hair craves moisture.  It brings it to life in my opinion.  And although products may differ, moisturizing your natural or relaxed hair is important. 

Oiling – African-American hair is typically dry, so oiling is another important step in moisturizing.  It also adds sheen.

Protective Styling – This is the main one.  As much as I try to fight it, I know protective styling is the truth if you want healthy long hair.  

Think back to the days of old when you were relaxed.  What practices do you still follow?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mini Twists

These are the results from trying mini twists.  I've tried this style before, but it was a fail.  After learning that this style can last for up to four weeks, I tried again under the guidance of Nappturality85 (YT).  Perfect results!

Banana + Oil Deep Conditioner

The banana clumped my curls like no other product I've used.
Banana + Oil Deep Conditioner*

Tired of wasting bananas that get ripe too soon?  Put ‘em in the freezer and next time you’re looking for something new to try in your regime, try this!

1-2 Bananas
1 tbsp. of oil per banana

11. Prepare mixture by mashing bananas and mixing it with the oil into a smooth mixture. Set aside.  Note:  The smoother the mixture, the easier it will be to rinse from your hair.

22.Thoroughly rinse hair and scalp with warm water.

33.      Divide hair into workable sections. 

44.      Apply mixture to hair, from root to tip, and smooth in, detangling as you go.

55.      Put on a shower cap and let the mixture sit for no more than 20 minutes.

66.      Thoroughly rinse mixture from hair.  Note:  You may even want to add a rinsing conditioner to help remove the banana mixture.

77.   Thoroughly rinse mixture from hair.  Note:  You may even want to add a rinsing conditioner to help remove the banana mixture.

88.      Air dry and style.

Close-up of banana residue


1.    One banana is plenty.  I have thick, coarse hair and one banana worked better.  While it was easier to get the banana out of my hair, one banana didn't clump my curls as well as two.  But that really done banana didn't clump my curls as well as two.  But that really doesn't matter since it’s going to be rinsed out. 

2.     The more you mash your bananas the better.  Large chunks WILL cling to your curls, resulting in multiple rinses.  The first time I tried this, I rinsed at least three times and began air drying only to realize I still had a lot of banana in my hair. 

3.     Be prepared to have a few banana remnants in your hair.  Good news is it won’t do much harm if you co-wash regularly.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Won!

A while back, I entered a contest hosted by makeup artist Terry Alabata on YouTube.  Well, guess what?  I WON!!  My prize packet included products from WEN and 100% Pure.

I’ve wanted to try WEN for a long time, so I was really excited to try it.  I have to say I was skeptical at first.   I have this terrible idea that my hair is going to look exactly like the models on TV, which is always a mistake when trying new products.

During my first attempt, I followed the directions exactly.  I didn’t pre-twist my hair or anything.  I just applied, waited, rinsed and re-applied.  At that point, I considered it a fail.  But one thing I’ve learned on my healthy hair journey is that you have to give products a chance and that may involve using it in a different way.  So, on attempt number two I used the curly girl method – I applied conditioner to my hair and twisted it into large sections before getting into the shower.  After the first rinse, I  un-twisted, applied more WEN and re-twisted.  After my final rinse, I got rid of excess water, did the same un-twist/re-twist using the WEN leave-in and let my hair air dry.

I was going to do fancy things to it, but it was late, so I just converted the twists into Bantu Knots and called it a night.  The reveal?  Well, I have to say this method worked better because my hair was so soft and light!  My curls weren't defined much, but that was my fault for not taking the time to do a proper twist out.  All in all, I loved the results.

Now the 100% Pure products were a special treat from Terry.  I hadn't heard of the product line, but was excited to give it a try.  She included a body lotion, hand lotion, eye cream and bar soap.  All of the products (except for the Mango Shea bar soap) were in a vanilla bean scent.  The first thing I tried was the soap. Loved it!  It left a soft, light coating on my skin and the scent was so luxurious.  It was a huge bar of soap that Terry said would probably last a year.  But since my sister got a whiff of it, it has been dwindling quickly.
The body lotion has a coffee bean scent, which starts out strong but mellows out.  But hey, I love the smell of coffee!  Since going natural, I’ve become an ingredient reader, so I checked out the ingredients and instantly wanted to put the stuff in my hair!

The hand cream is a mellower, sweet scent and works well.  Now the eye cream, though small, packs a punch.  The directions say that it is infused with caffeine to give you that wide-eyed look…which it certainly did…and almost immediately.

So, I just wanted to make a post letting everybody know how much I appreciated my prize packet from Terry.  Go check out her videos and Facebook page, subscribe and like because she is an amazing artist who specializes in the eco-friendly.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cool Beans: Dem Dormtainment Boys in "The Big Chop"

I Love Dormtainment!  If you don't know them, check them out (DormtainmentTV) on the YT.  These guys always make me laugh with hilarious skits.  "The Big Chop" is light and takes a stab at an age old debate in the natural hair care world.  I'm sure you'll find it amusing.  I especially liked Tay's PSAs, the wig reveal and the white girl perspective.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CosPlay Wigs?

While perusing Ebay for future wig purchases, I came across a number of cheap Asian (as in located in China) wigs and was intrigued by the possibilities.  

Cosplay wigs are different from regular ‘ol wigs in that they are modeled after characters (usually anime) and designed to be used as part of a costume.  However, I found many of them to be day-to-day wearable. Now, some of the cosplay wigs are … exotic at best.  If you search for them, you’re likely to see something like this:
Magi Sharrkan Long White

Long Black Cosplay
Dark Red Vocaloid
But others seem quite wearable for day-to-day style.
7" Middle Part

Fashion Black Short

Long Dark Brown and Copper Red

 And if you’re bold enough, some of the colors are pretty cool too.  

New Long Charm Lolita
Smoke Pink

Dark Red Curly Wavy

Here’s the best part.  If you’re familiar with shopping products from China, they are often cheap 
and many with free shipping.  I’m currently doing an experiment to see if someone can actually win 
an auction paying less than $5 for these wigs with free shipping.  Most of them start at pennies, but 
you know how auctions work.  I’m convinced that if my experiment proves favorable, I’m going to 
start purchasing cosplay wigs to add to my collection.    What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Hair in 5 Faces -- The Jheri Curl

The Jheri Curl, circa 1989
I once read an article called "My Story in 5 Faces"  by Connie Schultz in Parade magazine.  The article began with a quote by George Orwell.  It stated, "At age 50, everyone has the face he deserves."  I found this to be an interesting inspiration.  So, I decided to take the same concept and use it to capture my healthy hair journey.  Enjoy!

Here I am in the second grade.  This was my first professional style -- The Jheri Curl.  I can remember details about getting this style.  It was done by a family friend, who I guess was licensed.    She would later be the same person who relaxed my hair on the cheap in later years.  Anyway, I remember going to her home and having her wash my hair in the kitchen sink!  I can remember the perm rods and the end papers being rolled into my hair.  I don't think I even realized what was happening.  I do remember the finished product -- a head full of curls that moved!  It was dark when we left her home, and I remember getting as far as the front yard before I had to shake my head from side to side and feel my hair move for the first time.  I also remember her and some of her family members standing on the front porch laughing at me.  I didn't care.  Even as a tomboy, having flowing hair at that age was a dream come true!  I think my mom had the process done, as a lot of mothers do, to make doing my hair a lot easier.  I can remember the big ol' jars of curl activator....I love the smell of curl activator for some reason.....and sleeping in the shower caps.

 I don't really remember what happened to my Jheri Curl.  I do know this was the year my sister was born, and I had to rely on the men in my family to do my hair for school.  When my mother went into labor, I remember someone putting that brown old chair in the middle of the den.  I sat in it with no feeling as curl activator was gooped onto my hair.  I never looked in the mirror...I was a tomboy.  Who does that??  But, I would get all the feedback I needed from the adults I encountered that day.  I remember the bus driver looking at my head and asking if I was okay.  When I got off at my school, I walked past my teacher who said, "April, you okay?  Your mama must be in the hospital getting ready for that baby, huh?"  I wondered how she knew.  I guess my hair told her all she needed to know.

I even remember visiting my mom after she gave birth to my sister.  I had on a Christmas sweater (this was late January mind you) and my hair was crazy.  Before I could get a look at the baby, she was hauling me off to the bathroom talking about how terrible things must be at home without her for me to come to the hospital looking like this.  Thus, my Jheri Curl experience had come to an end.

Soft hair and headaches

In the ongoing quest to find products that leave my hair soft and shiny, I decided to give glycerin another go.  When I was transitioning to natural hair, I read the stories and watched the videos about making your own glycerin leave-in and how it was a miracle worker for people with naturally curly hair.  Glycerin was a complete fail during transitioning, but I've learned that some products are worth another try.

Google Images
Google Images
So, a year and a half into my natural hair journey, I decided to try it again.  It worked beautifully.  My hair was soft and shiny, and I didn't have to re-moisturize my hair for at least three days.  Usually, I have to put something on my hair each night in order for it to look like something the next day.  Unfortunately, I learned that glycerin has side effects.  During my two week re-test of the product, I suffered from headaches every day.  Now I know most naturals say use a vegetable based product like the one on the left, but I chose to go with one like the one on the right.

I knew it had to be the glycerin, since it was the only change I had recently made to my regimen.  Research later revealed that glycerin may, in fact, cause headaches particularly when it is consumed.  Consumed???  Obviously, I wasn't drinking the stuff.  So, my next thought was that it was seeping through the pores in my scalp.  But guess what? I was eating the stuff...in a sense.

I'm often doing two or three things while doing my hair and realized that my glycerin laced fingers probably touched my face at some point.  It could have been a simple nose rub or scratching an itch on my face or touching things and forgetting to wipe them off after having products on my hands.  Oh well, lesson learned.

Hair Gardening Tip:  Always wash your hands after applying fertilizer to your garden.  Even though it is a natural product that will eventually lead to a stronger, healthier yield, it's not always meant for ingestion and may be toxic to the rest of the plant.  Think about it.  Just because manure is good for your plants doesn't mean you should eat it.