Friday, July 30, 2010

Blogger Interview: Katie from Happy Girl Hair!

It's my first blog interview! Yay! And I'm so glad to have snagged this interview with Katie, mom and blogger of HappyGirlHair. Katie is the adoptive mommy of 2 gorgeous Ethiopian twin girls, Little B and Little R. Although twins (fraternal), these girls have hair that's almost at the opposite end of the spectrum! Little R has beautiful, loose, shiny curls and Little B has strong, gorgeous, versatile kinky hair. I have previously posted some of Katie's YouTube videos on how to properly detangle kinky hair, and since Nubian Tresses is the blog devoted to kinky hair, I decided to interview Katie on what it is like to care for Little B's hair and the joys and pains of styling kinky tresses!


The interview follows......Please note: All photos are copyright and property of Happy Girl Hair. They were used with permission and are not to be copied or distributed. Thank you.



1. What was it like for you initially to be faced with caring for Little B's hair, which has a texture so unlike your own?

When we picked her up in Ethiopia, we found that her head had recently been shaved. That is very common in group care settings; it reduces both lice infestations and ringworm outbreaks and makes treatment much easier. Since her hair was just a bit of fuzz at first, we were able to gradually ease into care. When her hair started to grow in, I used some great products. It got expensive, so I experimented with some not so great products. I made a whole lot of mistakes with care at first. When her hair started to look a little dull and she seemed afraid of the comb, I realized something was terribly wrong.
I started to read and research proper, gentle hair care for curls and tight coils. I learned about gentle handling and which ingredients worked for us and which didn't. I paid close attention to what I was doing and the results. A new world opened to me and I learned to care for all the other curls in our house - including my own.


2. What are some ground rules when it comes to detangling kinky hair?

I think the best detangling tools are our own fingers and lots of time. I've had great success detangling damp hair in small sections, adding detangler for slip and using my fingers to gently separate the hair. I always work from the ends and slowly move toward the scalp. When I'm sure the section is as tangle-free as I can get it with my fingers, I add a little more product and use a detangling comb, again starting at the ends and working toward the scalp.
While this takes some time, it's actually pretty relaxing for everyone. The more thorough the finger-detangling, the less combing we need. I've also found that the better moisturized the hair through the week, the easier the detangling. My firm rules are go slowly and be gentle.


3. What are some do's and don'ts that you've learned when it comes to Little B's hair?

I try to always be gentle. I strive to protect her hairline and keep the hair well moisturized. We trim regularly to remove split ends. I chose products with great care. I try to be very consistent in my care and use best practices. I use touch, sight and smell to assess what her hair needs and respond accordingly. Most importantly, I respect, love, celebrate her hair exactly as it is, and I express that in word and gesture.
I don't braid or style it tightly. I don't rush when touching her hair. I don't keep it in a style all the time; I want her know and love her curl pattern. I don't use certain product ingredients and I don't neglect her hairline or scalp.


4. What are some staple products that you use and recommend to others with kinky hair?

I've found that one person's "wow" product can often be another's "did nothing for my hair" experience. It's so individual. That said, I'd happy to share a few of my favorites. I love Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner, Alaffia Hair Lotion, Darcy's Botanicals styling products, Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream for the hairline and scalp, Kinky-Curly Knot Today as detangler, coconut oil for pre-poo and mid-week and jojoba oil for sealing. I do enjoy products!



5. What do you love most about Little B's kinky hair?

I love everything about it. I love that detangling and styling give us lots of time together. I love the pride she takes in her beautiful hair and the styles we come up with. It's a pleasure to work with her hair. Mostly though, I love how a simple afro with a flower makes her infinitely more stylish than I have ever been or could ever hope to be.


6. How do you instill in your daughters a love for their hair texture in a society where it isn't always appreciated?

First of all, I encourage them to experience it. I have heard from scores of women who really haven't had that opportunity until they decided to go natural as adults. Making sure they have ample opportunities to touch their hair, admire it in the mirror, and learn to care for it go a long way toward building confidence. To further bolster that and to prepare Little B for the unkind comments she may experience, we talk about hair and the beauty standard. We read books like I Love My Hair and Hair Dance and I check in and ask her to describe her hair every now and then. Just a moment ago, I asked her to describe her hair and she said, "Happy. My hair is happy."


7. Tell us more about your blog, HappyGirlHair?

Happy Girl Hair is a place where anyone caring for a child with curls and coils can come to find out more about gentle hair care, get style ideas, read product reviews, and discuss the politics of natural hair. I started Happy Girl Hair to help other moms navigate curl care. I hope others benefit from the knowledge I've gained and from the mistakes I've made along the way.


All photos copyright Happy Girl Hair. Used by permission.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yay or Nay?: Product Review of "Los Caballos Conditioner"

Okay, so just it case it's not already painfully obvious, I am a conditioner junkie! I love trying new brands and I use a ton so I go through it fairly quickly. Well, I stumbled upon the beauty supply clearance section of my neighborhood Wal-Mart and I spotted a huge 32 oz. bottle of conditioner for only $2.77! That drew my attention so I picked it up and read the bottle; the name (Los Caballos, which is Spanish for "horses") was in Spanish but this is a La Bella brand product, manufactured in the U.S., so everything else was in English. There is a horse running free on the packaging, which is reminiscent of an old fav (Mane n Tail), so I decided to give it a try and bought two bottles (it was cheap!).




The Deal: Los Caballos conditioner claims to be an enriched, concentrated formula that will deliver thicker, shinier, more manageable hair with a blend of olive, coconut and castor oils. Upon reading the ingredients list, I also saw that silk amino acids, hops, rosemary, and horsetail extract, as well as pine and lemon extract. Sounded good to me! It does contain a couple of silicones, but my hair has never had a problem with these and I do wash frequently, so that wasn't a deal-breaker for me.


The Real: This conditioner has a great clean scent and doesn't contain fragrance, so the only scents to be had are from the natural oils. The smell was piney/citrusy; very clean. This conditioner was incredibly potent and I could feel it softening my hair within minutes! Unlike other silicone conditioners I've used in the past, this one does not leave a coated feeling on my hair when I rinse it out and my hair felt thicker and softer. I seriously considered using this as a leave-in, but decided to hold of on that for now. The verdict? Si, senor! This one is a definite YAY and at Wal-Mart's prices, I need to get about a half dozen more bottles. I think I have a new favorite conditioner!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Exposed: Black Beauty Schools

So I was over at Clutch Magazine today and I was scanning some of  the older articles. For those not in the know, Clutch Magazine is an online magazine that has been labeled the unofficial "little sister" of Essence magazine. Unlike Essence, however, Clutch offers juicy bits of black celeb gossip, as well as interviews, relevant advice, and insightful articles about matters directly affecting/involving the black community in the U.S. I don't always agree with the writers' viewpoints, but the articles are always very provocative/controversial and sure-fire conversation starters.

This particular article, "Why Are Black Beauty Schools Ignoring Natural Hair?", struck a cord with me because it's something that I have witnessed all of my life and a trend that still continues: black beauticians, not knowing the first thing about styling, combing, and caring for natural hair. Now, some natural ladies are like me, and are confident in styling and maintaining their own hair; I personally prefer it. But for those naturals who can't face that responsibility just yet, want to learn how it's done, are transitioning, or simply want to treat themselves to a luxurious salon experience, it's very slim pickings. Many naturals all over the web complain of going to salons that don't have even one natural hair stylist (save the loctician, maybe), stylists who insist on the use of flat irons and giving the client a blow-out or simply turning them away altogether! As the quote heading this article states, many naturals have heard, "But you have to understand, we don't study natural hair here. We study real hair." Real hair?!?! I say red when I read that garbage. Sometimes, even salons that say that they do natural hair are just smoke and mirrors and assume that all naturals want their hair straightened! So many black stylists refuse to learn anything about natural hair because they are more brainwashed than anyone else into deeming it ugly and unmanageable; some have even labeled it a fad!

And what about the stylists who would like to learn? No one's teaching! Save the web and natural hair care books, their is no real advice/instruction as to proper care/treatment, styling, and versatility of natural hair. Black beauty schools take pride in teaching future stylists how to fry, dye, and blow-dry black hair, but teach nothing about up-keep in all nature's glory. These stylists learn how to "properly" apply a relaxer, dye hair, blow dry, hot comb, flat iron, sew and glue in weaves, and in the process, learn to think even less of natural hair than they may already have. They learn that it's stupid, childish, and not worth much, since it wasn't worth learning and wasn't even part of the curriculum! Schools like Dudley and Aveda  don't even address natural hair at all!

So what are black women with natural hair left with? The very few salons that cater specifically and only to natural hair (mostly in New York and parts of Los angeles), information on the web, courage, the willingness to experiment, and the support of one another. Stay strong, ladies! A change is gonna come!

Kinkspiration: Jill Scott

Take a look at this vision: stunning natural Jill Scott in all her glory! The American award-winning singer and talented actress is a natural veteran who does it in style!



Sunday, July 25, 2010

Interrogation Room #3

Hey, ladies! Every weekend, I will have something that I like to call the "Interrogation Room," where I will ask humorous, thought-provoking, and often hair-related questions about issues facing black women and the black community in the U.S. as a whole.



The Interrogation Room Question (IRQ) of the week is: What are some of the meanest/most ignorant comments that you've received since going natural and how did you respond?

Let's hear it, ladies!

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's Spreading....

So this sickness that many black women have, called self-hate, is spreading. Check out the video below. The vlogger documents a 3 year old girl whose mother claims that a babysitter relaxed her hair at 9 months! The worst part? At 3 years old, this poor child looks as if someone (i.e. her parents) thought it was okay to keep relaxing her hair. Check out the damage. The little girl is shown towards the end of the video. Please, for all those who are believers, pray for this child.










Now check out a mom who's doing it right! Don't be fooled by the title of the video; she actually did this to draw attention and get more views. The title is what drew my attention; I thought this was some straight foolishness and drew such a sigh of relief that this woman is not only sane but sincerely cares for her daughter's hair and health. This is how a child's hair should be treated!




Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rant: It's SO Much More Than a "Hair Thing"

So, yeah, I'm pissed. I'm pissed off at all the blogs dedicated to chemically altered hair and the literally millions of YouTube videos displaying how to properly wear a lace front wig, sew in a weave, or "safely" relax hair. I'm pissed that not only do these things exist, but black women want to play like hair is not a major issue for them! For some, hair is THE issue!

I have met too many women with busted weaves and wigs and dry, damaged relaxers who feel entitled to look down on me simply because my hair is natural! When these same women and others ask me (I do NOT initiate conversation) on how I manage and moisturize my hair, I then get stupid rebuttals about my hair being really soft (it's cause I condition it, stupid) and how I must be mixed (I'm not) because black people can't grow long hair! Let me think about this for a minute...Maybe, just maybe, the reason why the average black woman can't achieve long hair is because she's too busy killing it with chemicals, grilling it with heat, and tearing at it with weaves and wigs! No? Well, I guess you must know best, random girl with damaged hair. What could I possibly know about hair care?

The worst part is, women who ask for my opinion, whom I'm trying to educate, then accuse me and other naturals of trying to force our "beliefs" (natural hair ISN'T a religion or lifestyle) down their throats. Guess what? You don't have to ask me anything, read my blog, or watch any of the YouTube videos that naturals put out. Walk away. Turn it off. Deep down, you must care, you must wonder, so why make me the villain?

And what's with women acting like putting their health, hair, and finances on the line for some idea of the "perfect" look and foisting these ideas on their daughters isn't an issue?!? IT IS! Stop making excuses! Stop choosing to stay ignorant!

And stop defending stupidity like relaxing a child's head even as they start to lose their hair, or making excuses for weave wearing when you have no edges left and your hairline's almost to the back of your neck!

Then when educated people speak up, we're labeled as crazy or hung up on hair! Really? I think spending $200+ dollars every 6-8 weeks is hung up. I think paying $1,000+ dollars for a wig is hung up. I think continuing this even when you suffer burns, alopecia, and permanent scarring is hung up! But maybe that's just me...

The fact is, naturals are not obsessed with hair. At least, not other people's hair. Those of us who choose to educate others are only "obsessed" with helping black women regain their personal and cultural pride. If black women with weaves, wigs and relaxers are so proud, then why refuse to go out with your roots showing or without fresh tracks? Why do you feel ugly when you take your wig off to go to sleep? And why do you get confrontational when your excuses for not being natural fall short and you're forced to face the lie you're living?

Bottom line: Black women need to get it together. Soon.

Kinkspiration: Abang Othow

Here is a stunning natural, South Sudanese fashion model Abang Othow. Her hair and complexion are just radiant!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Yay or Nay?: Product Review of "Out Of Africa Pure Shea Butter Bodywash"

Out of Africa is a relatively new company that has pure shea butter based products ranging from body wash, to hand lotion, shea body oils, and even shea lip balm! Their products are sold online at http://www.outofafrica.com/ . The company only uses raw, organic ingredients and creates jobs in Benin, Africa, where the products are crafted (fair trade).





The Deal: My hubby bought me some of their lavender bodywash at the Vitamin Shoppe. Their catchphrase is "Nature's own miracle moisturizer" and it claimed to be full of essential oils as well as help with elasticity and tone, so I quickly hopped into the shower! I loved how this product made my skin so soft and smelled like a field of lavender (my very favorite flower). Checking out the label again, I noticed that this was also paraben and sulfate-free so, being an experimental girl, I decided to try washing my hair with it!


The Real: this bodywash was as gentle on my hair as it had been on my skin and left a feeling of cleanliness with softness that I get from my beloved Dr. Bronner's liquid soap. My hair was bouncy and had great definition even before I conditioned! The bodywash is available in several scents, including lemon verbena and grapefruit. I would highly recommend this for product for multi-purpose product to any natural looking to keep her PJism under control! Definitely YAY!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Interrogation Room #2

Hey, ladies! Every weekend, I will have something that I like to call the "Interrogation Room," where I will ask humorous, thought-provoking, and often hair-related questions about issues facing black women and the black community in the U.S. as a whole.


The Interrogation Room Question (IRQ) of the week is: Do you think that relaxers/texturizers should be labeled as a form of child abuse, much like spanking is in many states?
 
What do you think? Sound off!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Idiocy Continues.....

So I was web-surfing and doing some searching on the effects of sew-in and glue-in hair weaves when I found something truly disturbing. I was researching the horrible effects of chronic weave use on adult and teen women, when I found pictures of  BABY WEAVES! Yes, I said it. Take a look...





The first two babies are wearing a "hair"band, which is like a wig held in place with a headband to give a bald baby a full head of hair. The last photo features an unfortunate infant who's mother made her a custom lace front wig and vowed that neither she nor her child would be caught dead without their wigs. WTF? This would be humorous if it weren't so disturbing and sad. My great fear is that in less that 20 years, this garbage will be considered normal. I shudder to think what will happen when parents (especially black mothers) get a whiff of this new craze(y) and decide that baby's hair needs to be "hooked up", too. 

Kinkspiration: Ya Ya De Costa

Take a look at the elegance and style of model/actress Ya Ya De Costa! This stunning model was runner-up on America's Next Top Model, signed with Ford models and has a budding acting career, all with kinky tresses!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Confessional: The Bad Old Days

I got my first relaxer when I was 6 years old. Back in Haiti, my mother had washed my hair everyday (she claims this made it grow, but at least she followed up with conditioner), detangled with a very fine tooth comb (because apparently no other would do) and then braided my hair and added some ribbons. If it were a weekday, the ribbons matched my Catholic school uniform. If not, they matched my Saturday outfits or Sunday best. This happened everyday. And everyday, I cried. My mother had a lot of theories as to the reason why: I was just throwing a tantrum (I wasn't), I was tenderheaded (I'm not), and the most popular theory that my hair was too tough, too "diffiult". The idea that she was using the wrong detangling and styling tools, and the fact that her impatience and hurry made styling my hair all the more painful never even crossed my mother's mind. Why would it? After all, I was a black girl and I had black girl hair, which everyone knew to be bad and hard to manage. It'd been the same for her when her hair was styled as a child. Rather than blame herself and admit lack of education on the proper care for black hair, my mother blamed my hair itself. The vemon she spewed at my thick, coarse, and extremely long hair (it was mid-back length at 4 years) often seemed to be aimed at all of me, not just my hair. Looking back, I guess it was, in a sense.

Many black mothers don't know how to care for unaltered black hair and they blame the hair and it's inherent "wickedness". During slavery, blacks born in the States had no clue of proper hair care. The same holds true in the Caribbean. But the fact of the matter is, slavery has been abolished in the U.S. and the Caribbean for centuries. So what excuse is there for STILL not knowing? Instead of reclaiming our heritage after the atrocities of slavery, blacks have since tried to live up to the European standards of and imitate the beauty of our oppresors instead of trying to recapture on own. In Haiti, we can't even use "the man" as an excuse. We kicked our oppressor right out and yet the mentality that light skin, straight hair and even light colored eyes are more beautiful still exists and spreads like a disease. In Haiti, even women who forego relaxers are buying skin bleaching creams. So although it is truly disturbing and disheartening, relaxers are often THE first resort of black mothers who can't "deal" with their daugther's hair. This may be why my mom, after moving to the U.S., agreed when her sister suggested a relaxer for my hair.

I was ambushed at the door when I got home from school. My mom and aunt were wearing gloves like the doctors on t.v. and my mom mixed some stuff that smelled kind of like bleach in a jar while explaining that it would make my hair 'better" and I would look pretty. What confused me the most was that my mom, as well as family and even strangers on the street, had told me I was pretty all the time. Had she and everyone else been lying all along? I didn't have much choice when they started to apply this stuff to my hair. Then came time for rinsing. My mom took me to the sink and asked me to lower my head. Now, I'm not claustrophobic, but seeing the water rushing and imagining having to put my head in such a small space had me panicking! I said "No", even as the stuff on my head started to tingle. My mom knew it was time to rinse the stuff out, so she and my aunt held me down and did just that, with me fighting to get away....with my eyes wide open. It's truly a miracle that I can still see, with the unknown amounts of relaxer-laced water that ran from my head into my eyes for about 20 minutes. My hair was rinsed, conditioned, styled and my sister, cousins, and black friends at school all loved it! My hair was so long! My mom promised never to rinse my hair at the sink again and over time I learned to love the feel of the silken, relaxed strands. In the back of my mind, I knew that the white and Asian girls at school never had to go through this, but I never questioned it when I was told that I "needed" a relaxer. I hated the process, but loved the results. My mom spent 3+ hours on my hair alone every Saturday and my sister and I always had long, split-end free, relatively thick hair that was the envy of all our black girlfriends and earned me the nicknames Cleopatra and Black Barbie. I took it as a compliment when people asked if I were mixed or had Indian in my family.

I suffered scalp burns from relaxers less than a handful of times, but one time stands out. I was about 11 years old and it was time for a touch-up. My mom had gotten this new relaxer on sale so she used this instead of our regular brand. As always, my relaxer was a super. Before the cream had even been applied to my whole head, the most excruciating burn sensation started. It felt as if my whole head were cooking in an oven! I told my mom and asked her to rinse it out, but she said that she wasn't finished and the parts that had relaxer already hadn't "taken" yet. I sat there with my whole body becoming a strange shade of fuchsia from the pain and nearly breaking my sister's hand as I clutched for dear life. As my mom continued, my sister would  periodically ask my mom to stop and "look at her face!", but my mom said that I would be beautiful, "ti blanc" (little white girl), and that I must suffer for beauty. After about a lifetime, she rinsed this poison out amid my tears and sobbing and hair came straight from the root and out into her hand, clogging drain in the tub. Luckily, my hair was always super thick and the loss wasn't noticeable to the naked eye. But there were a few things that could be seen by any casual observer: the scabs. My scalp was literally bleeding, but my mom decided to set my hair in rollers and place me under a hooded dryer anyway. Needless to say, it hurt like hell. When my hair was dry and she took my rollers down, my mom noticed hair clinging to the scabs. My scalp was so sore and painful that for the next 2 weeks, I slept on my stomach. For the next 4 weeks, I picked scabs of my head and had what looked like dandruff whenever I ran a comb through my hair. I kept my hair in a ponytail for about a month to hide the scalp burns.

My mom blamed herself for not being speedy enough. She blamed the relaxer and claimed it must have been left on the shelf after the expiration date. She blamed me for combing too much and probably scratching beforehand. But she never questioned that the relaxer had been necessary. I was positive that after this experience, she'd never relax my hair again. But all that happened was that my mother promised never to use that particular brand again. 10 weeks later (she had to wait longer because of the scabs), another relaxer was applied. I think that was the day that I realized that parents don't always have their children's best interests at heart. That was the day that I stopped trusting my mom. Not in an extreme way. I knew she'd always feed and clothe me, but she despised my hair and refused to manage it, resorting to this painful poison! I could never trust her to not judge me; she judged me every time she saw my offending new growth. My mother cared more about what was beautiful to others than what was safe for me.

I grew to depend on my long, relaxed hair as a security blanket. And my self-esteem plummeted whenever my new growth made an appearance. I even tried to fool people into thinking that my hair was naturally straight. From the time I was in 3rd grade, my vision got steadily worse over the years. When I was 17, an eye doctor said that I had the vision of a 50 year old. When I was 22, I got a very bad scare from a doctor who claimed that I needed to see a specialist because my retinas had holes in them. Thankfully, the specialist confirmed that they did not, but that prompted me to do the research on the toxic affects of relaxers and start my natural journey.

I didn't always love my texture, but being armed with information kept me always firm in my resolve never to relax again, even with my mother begging for me to "do" something with my hair. When I made the big chop and it was obvious that she was hitting a brick wall, she suggested flat-ironing, because I HAD to "fix" my hair. But I knew what heat damage can do and I remembered a brief stint with hot combs when I was 4, so I also made it clear that my hair would never be straightened again. Period. In 3 years, my vision has improved dramatically (although I still wear glasses/contacts) and my hair is thick, full and healthy. I love my texture and all the cool styles it can accomplish. I love the fact that it's fluffy enough to be a pillow for my husband's head every night, and while it's cool to get compliments from people (except for my mom, a few cousins, and other self-hating, ignorant black people), I love my hair and I feel like I'm being honest about who I am for the very first time!

I still remember the bad old days and how I was anything BUT relaxed when it came time to get a touch-up or when I had to actually sweat and get caught in the rain. I still have a patch of skin in the back of my head that has suffered severe chemical irritation. It is sore and itchy from time to time and the hair there is brittle and less than an inch long, after 3 years. I rub Castor oil on it and wish, but I know deep down that it's not coming back. The damage has been done. But I think of that spot every time I think of doing something stupid (like put my health, safety, and finances on the line) for the sake of "beauty". I think of that spot when mothers claim that relaxers are the "only" way to manage a black girl's hair. I think of that spot anytime some idiot posts a blog or YouTube video on how to "safely" relax hair. I think of that spot and remember the girl who wasn't comfortable unless she had freshly relaxed hair and see how far I've come. That spot is a small burden to carry and it keeps me grounded in reality. It lets me know that there ARE options and black girls and women deserve so much more than the ones they've subjected and limited themselves to. We deserve MORE than this!

Kinkspiration: Clara Aker Benjamin

Take a look at the long locs of South Sudanese fashion model, Clara Aker Benjamin. Her hair and face are undeniably beautiful!




Relaxed....Or Beaten Into Submission?

As a blogger devoted to the natural hair of black women, it's impossible to go without mentioning the use of relaxers. Although the number of women who are natural or transitioning to natural is growing, so are the number of women who continue the cycle of chemical abuse and even tote it as not only "safe" but also "necessary" and "convenient"!

Relaxers contain chemicals so strong that they have been PROVEN to melt through flesh and even metal in less than an hour's time. Relaxers can often cause irreparable scalp damage, irritation, and hair loss. Relaxers have been linked to brain and breast cancers. How is any of this safe?

And let's humor, just for a moment, that relaxers are in fact "necessary" and "convenient" for kinky hair. What makes them so convenient? Having to avoid exercise for fear of "sweating out" your relaxer? Having to avoid swimming and running indoors at the first hint of rain? Is it "necessary" to endure painful burns, chronic breakage, and plummeting self-esteem at the first sight of "new growth", the hair God gave you, the hair that refuses to stay subdued? And what of those women who suffer permanent hair loss? Is it convenient for them to subject themselves to a lifetime of wigs while constantly pining for hair, any hair at all, that grows from their heads?

The truth is, relaxers beat black hair into submission and it also beats the women who use them into submission, too. These women gladly shell out the cash and time 6-8 weeks (sometimes even more frequently) to be subjected to often extreme pain and destroy the only unique physical proof of African heritage: their "nappy" hair. How necessary.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Caring for a Child's Kinky Tresses: Part 2

For any parent that's having a tough time dealing with kinky 4a-b hair, this video is for you. I put up an earlier post on how to detangle 4b hair painlessly and effectively, with products and combs, courtesy of YouTube mom and blogger for Happy Girl Hair, Katelynn. This video teaches you the art (and necessity) of finger detangling in order to manage your child's kinks and your own! Enjoy!

Bee Mine Give-Away on BeadsBraidsBeyond!

Hey, natural lovelies! I just wanted to let you guys know that over at BeadsBraids&Beyond, there is currently a give away on Bee Mine hair products! In celebration of reaching 1,000 followers, the blogger Nikki and Bee Mine are giving away two (2!) $50 gift certificates! Head on over there and enter! Here are some of the more popular Bee Mine products. Good luck!


Bee Mine Curly Hold Butter


Bee Mine No Sulfur Hair Growth Serum


Bee Mine Peppermint & Tea Tree Nourishing Shampoo

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kinkspiration: Sabina Karlsson

Here is Scandinavian veteran model Sabina Karlsson, whose signature is a head full of gorgeous, kinky naturally red hair. This is one gorgeous natural!



Natural Hair vs. Everyone

Hey, everyone! I was watching a few YouTube videos the other day on natural hair and one was called "Natural Hair vs. Everyone". This young man was stating how he felt about how badly natural hair is accepted in the black community. He got a lot of video responses on the topic, and I thought I'd share his original video and as well as one of the responses, which was one of the most well-thought out, well-spoken ones that I've found. Enjoy!



Yay or Nay?: Product Review of "Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap"

Okay, as many of you may already know, many naturals who have problems with moisture retention of excess frizz have adopted the curly-girl method, also known as the conditioner-only method, which involves conditioner washing (co-washing) the hair and avoiding any and all shampooing (with the exception of clarifying every 1-3 months). While this does produce great results, it's definitely not for everyone and for those of you who are like me, the feeling of a clean scalp can't be achieved by shampoo alone. For those who don't want to ditch shampoo, but also want to avoid those with drying sulfates, Dr. Bronner's may be for you. I've been using it for about 2 months now. Here's my review....:


The Deal: Dr. Bronner's is a 60 year old company in the U.S., with 5 generations of soapmakers crafting the liquid and solid castile soaps in the U.S., but they were making soaps in Europe for 90 years before that. The family recipe (which includes only pure water, vegetable glycerin, vitamin E, and essential oils) is all-natural, organic AND certified fair trade. The soaps are all-purpose and can be used for  18 f.different purposes, including cleansing the body, hair, clothing, and household. They come in several varieties, including unscented (great for those with sensitive skin/allergies), rose, lavender, eucalyptus, and even citrus, but the one pictured (and my current favorite) is the 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint.

The solid soaps can be used for hair cleansing as well, but the liquid soaps are not only easier to handle (at least for me), but they are SUPER concentrated, so they can be diluted in a separate container with water or used (only about a quarter-sized amount) straight from the bottle. The price runs at about $14 for 32 oz., but trust me, its a steal. I have washed hair once a week and by body twice a day with it for 2 months now and I have only gone through about 4-5 oz. All Dr. Bronner's soaps can be found at the Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods.

The Real: This soap leaves hair and scalp ridiculously clean while still maintaining all of its moisture. The best part is that the peppermint, lavender, citrus, and eucalyptus varieties leave a very refreshing tingling sensation! This shampoo is cost effective, and not just good for hair, but skin, the economy, and even the planet! A certified YAY!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yay or Nay?: Product Review of "Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Conditioner"

As mentioned in my previous blog posts, it IS possible for a black woman to go into a drug store or pharmacy and walk out with products that can be effective and safe on her hair. My first product review is the Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Conditioner. Herbal Essences for being a stellar, affordable product line. For women who are natural or transitioning, it's nearly impossible to avoid talk of their Hello Hydration conditioner. This stuff is amazing and leaves hair so soft! it's even great for naturals who use the curly girl method (which involves the conditioner only method, no shampoos of any kind). Recently, their has been more and more talk on hair boards of their Long Term Relationship condtioner, so I thought I'd give it a try.




The Deal: The package contains these claims ....
"•I'll give you a Rapunzel complex.

•Longing for more? Let it out and indulge every inch with my velvety conditioning fused with extracts of red raspberry & satin.
•I'll give your length the strength against breakage and split ends.
•You've got longer hair to love. And I've got more love to give.
•How long will you go without touching it?"

This product is geared towards those with long hair but those with dry hair know that products like this often have extra moisturizers, so they're a safe bet.

The Real: Did HELTR live up to its hype? YES! I have no clue what red raspberries smell like but I do know that the hydrolyzed silk made my hair soft and left it virtually tangle free. For 4b hair, this is a miracle! I used a little more mixed with castor oil for my leave-in and I was not disappointed :-D Another great Herbal Essences product! Definitely a YAY!



Exposed: The Black Hair Care Industry

As many of you natural ladies may already know, products that contain mineral oil and petroleum jelly are just about the worst for hair. However, so many popular black hair care products contain them, and not in minute quantities, either, but in abundance! Many even contain cancer-causing parabens! Why? What's going on here? Well, the fact of the matter is that post-slavery backs knew next to nothing about proper hair care, let alone kinky hair care.They implemented these ingredients because they were the cheapest to utilize and manufacture. As bad as this sounds, many of these premiere black hair care companies, like the widely popular Soft-Sheen Carson, haven't been black-owned for decades! Yet they continue to produce these expensive products loaded with cheap grease, as well as dangerous relaxers showcasing black women with flowing locks on the boxes, and say that this is all for the health and growth of black hair. Really? Ever wonder why the only products in the ethnic hair care section are those marketed towards black women? Since when were we the only ethnicity? Does no one think it's strange that Asians, Hispanics, etc. don't get their own "special" section, too? Let's take a look at the 3 most popular and widely used black hair care products.....


Isoplus Oil Sheen: This product is so popular, probably because it claims to make hair shiny and it appears to do that. But there is a BIG difference between shiny and greasy. Unfortunately, many black women don't know they difference; they've grown up thinking that it's normal to put your hands in your hair and draw it away coated with grease like they've just eated some chicken. Isoplus, and all other oil sheens,contain mineral oil, petroleum jelly and butane (yes, the FUEL). That's the reason why this product is flammable. The mineral oil and petroleum jelly block the hair from absorbing any moisture and clog the scalp, which hinders hair growth. In layman's terms, they dry out your hair, causing it to break, and prevent it from growing any more. Is it any wonder why so many black women (especially those who are damaging their hair and scalp with relaxers/texturizers, weaves, and excessive heat) "can't" grow long hair?






Luster's Pink Oil Moisturizer Hair Lotion: Like the oil sheen, the infamous pink Lotion, hailed by many (who often have very dry hair) as a great hair product also contains mineral oil, and cancer-causing parabens. This product is so cheaply made, yet it is THE most popular Luster's product. Why? It's basically just cheap body lotion and baby oil. And while hair feels softer (albeit greasier) immediately after use, within hours, this product leaves your hair bone dry and many women think that this is caused by their hair, which they have been raised to think is suppose to be naturally dry. So what's a girl to do? Reach for the bottle and apply some more. If relaxers are the creamy crack, Pink Lotion is like hair heroin; the effects aren't as easily noticed, but in the long run, your hair WILL suffer.






Dax Pomade: This product has been around for decades longer than the rest and still remains a staple in the homes of countless people across the country. I really can't see why. It's just glorified Vaseline. Really! Petroleum and mineral oil are both main ingredients and the fact that those running low on their Dax often substitute Vaseline proves this point. This product, unlike the other 2, even claims to GROW hair! WTF?!? This explains why TONS of black moms (and grandmas, aunts, daddies, etc...) have "greased" their children's scalps with this garbage. The result is a clogged, dirty scalp and brittle hair, but once again, people just assume that this is a natural result of their hair, not their beloved Dax. It's especially popular among those who heat-straighten and like to coat their strands for "protection" while essentially cooking their hair with the combination of grease and 250 degrees+ temperatures. Smell that? Some's cooking some hair! Yum!






Plain and simple, there are some truly amazing product lines (made mostly by black-owned, small businesses) for black hair out their which are safe, natural, and often even organic, like....:


Adiva, Afrikan Republic, Afroveda, Anita Grant, Asha's, Beauty4Ashes, Beauty by Donna Marie, Bee Mine, Black Earth, Blended Beauty, Carol's Daughter, Cornrows & Co, Created by Nature, Curl Junkie, Curls, Darcy's Botanicals, Hairveda, HPO, Hydratherma Naturals, Indigofera, Inky Loves Nature, Kalawentz, Karen's Body Beautiful, Kinky Curly, Komaza Care, Kynk Naturals, La Boutique Organics, LaVida Given by Nature, Long Lovely Locks, Mixed Chicks, My Honey Child, Nubian Kinks, Ohm Body, Organikah, Oyin Handmade, Qhemet Biologics, The Hairoine, Treasured Locks, Uncle Funky's Daughter


I'm sure there are more and if you ladies know of any that I missed, please let me know. I will also be reviewing some of the products by these companies (as well as safe drug store brands) that I've used. Black women are no longer stuck with inferior hair care products. There are many drug store options that aren't marketed to blacks that are by far safer and more effective. There are natural lines for black hair with hair-nourishing ingredients to feed the health of our hair and work with its natural texture. Explore your options!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Interrogation Room #1

Hey, ladies! Every weekend, I will have something that I like to call the "Interrogation Room," where I will ask humorous, thought-provoking, and often hair-related questions about issues facing black women and the black community in the U.S. as a whole.

The Interrogation Room Question (IRQ) of the week is: Should a relaxer/texturizer be given to a child who asks the parent for it?

What do you think, ladies? Sound off!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Caring for a Child's Kinky Tresses

I have one post already describing how to effectively and painlessly detangle kinky hair, but I thought my readers would like to actually see how it's done on child. It IS possible to tame the tightest, kinkiest hair and here are a couple of videos from YouTube mom and the blogger for http://www.happygirlhair.com/ . This is certifiable proof that kinky hair, especially that of a child does NOT need to me "tamed" with heat or destroyed with chemical relaxers. If this white mother can take the time to properly and painlessly detangle her daughter's hair, then there is just no excuse for black mothers (or anyone else, for that matter) not to do the same. Enjoy!




Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's NOT Just Hair

Those with natural hair and without know that lately (and possibly even longer than we think) there has been a silent battle over black hair. This battle isn’t so silent anymore. On the myriad of hair care websites, as well as YouTube and hair blogs all over the web, the way that black women wear their hair has been a source of discussion and unity, as well as argument and division.
The following is an EXTREMELY long blog post. I had debated breaking it up into several posts, but it is also very controversial. Everything I’m about to write is fact and opinions supported by those facts. I will inspire some, enlighten others, offend many, and possibly anger multitudes. I hope for the former, but if I receive the latter, I will still rest well at night knowing that I am educating and opening the eyes of MY people, black women in the Western world. As I said, I may offend people and at times come off judgmental, but my intention is not to hurt anyone, but to help black women stop hurting themselves and systematically denying their heritage. Please read with eyes, heart, and mind wide open. Thank you.



It’s NOT Just Hair



Hair, especially that of black women in the Western world, IS an issue. Like all hair, it is styled, combed, and money is spent on products for it. People are paid money to style, cut, and simply shampoo it. For all women, everywhere, hair MATTERS. It may not be necessary for survival, but it is there and we acknowledge that, even if only by keeping it shaved off.

Recently, there have been a wave of black women choosing to wear their hair naturally. These women did it for several reasons; they wanted to end chemical dependency, stop using weaves or wigs, gain length, end breakage, make a fresh start, or simply re-acquaint themselves with what their natural hair looks like. While there are several natural hair care forums, websites, blogs, and YouTube videos promoting natural hair, it seems that every time a woman who is transitioning to natural or is already there tries to encourage other women of African descent (WOAD) to embrace natural hair as well, there is a flow of argument and dissention, and these women with natural hair are labeled as “nappy Nazis” or “natural hair militants” who are trying to force everyone into the natural “look”. Before I go any further, I must state that natural hair is NOT a look. The many styles that can be achieved with natural hair, like bantu knots, twist outs, braidouts, etc. are looks. Natural hair is not. It is simply the way the hair grows from our heads.

Many times when women who are in a relaxed/texturized and/or weaved/wigged state give reasons why they can’t embrace natural hair, they list the following:

1. Kinky hair looks like a slave hair; it’s not “done”.
2. Straight hair is more “polished” and “professional”, more “mature”.
3. What are people going to think if I go out like “that”?
4. Relaxers were invented by a black woman!
5. Relaxers/straightened hair and weaves help us fit in with society; that’s what people like to see.
6. Straight hair/weaves are more manageable.
7. Makeup and false nails are not natural.
8. Natural hair is not accepted in the corporate world.
9. It’s just a style/preference; other races wear weaves, too.
10. It’s not what’s on your head, it’s what IN your head.

I will tackle all of these excuses one at a time, giving information on the dangers/harm of popular black hair care techniques and styling methods along the way. Please, prepare to be informed.

Rebuttals:

1. Kinky hair looks like slave hair; it’s not “done”. Kinky hair is NOT slave hair. Yes, it is the hair that black slaves had, but they did not choose either their hair OR their state of slavery. The fact that they had kinky hair is not the reason they were slaves. This is proven by the fact that Native Americans were the first slaves in the U.S. Their unwillingness/inability to do the hard labor is the reason why Africans were imported. Africans were stronger and had a better resistance to European illnesses. The fact that they were black was simply an excuse of slave masters to justify their slavery.

2. Straight hair looks more “polished” and “professional”, more “mature.” The idea that straight hair is more polished, professional, or mature is strictly a matter of opinion. Maybe this mentality was formed because blacks choose to hot comb/flat iron or relax their daughters’ hair at a certain age, turning the altering of their hair into a rite of passage. Consider: What kind of message does this send to black children and the black community as a whole? That natural, kinky, African hair is childish and unpresentable, but that straight, European-like hair is more mature? Is that really what impressionable young children (and adults) need to be learning?

3. What are people going to think if I go out like “that”? The third reason is one of the many that makes me sad to hear. The fact that, when told about the versatility and seeing the beauty of natural hair as well as the dangers of relaxers, a woman would choose to continue with relaxers and weaves because of what people think show the world that she is caged by (a slave to) the opinions of others. This is a sign of great insecurity and nothing I say will change how anyone feels about themselves. I can merely educate and encourage.

4. Relaxers were invented by a black woman! Relaxers may be used by black and WOAD all over the world, but please, do some research. They were not invented by a black woman, the infamous Madame C.J. Walker. They were invented by black inventor and engineer Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. This man invented the much needed safety hood and traffic signal (yes, the stop light), but he also invented (quite by accident) a little nightmare called the “hair straightening preparation”. After testing it first on a dog and then himself, he also sold this preparation to straighten blacks’ hair. Madame C.J. Walker merely “improved” on Morgan’s invention. She claims that God told her what to mix up for her hair in a dream. Really, Madame Walker? God thought that he’d made a mistake with black hair and chose you to correct it? On the contrary, it seems to me that Madame Walker just told a lot of religious women with kinky hair what they wanted/needed to hear in order to justify permanently altering their natural texture. It must have worked, since Madame Walker is the first woman in history who became a millionaire through her own achievements. However, I must point out that Madame Walker’s hair was a hot as$ mess! Any and all pictures of this woman show short, brittle hair and premature scalp balding. It is recorded that she also suffered severe scalp illness, proving to me that Madame Walker must have known the dangers of her relaxer. What do I think? That Madame C.J. Walker was so desperate to make money that she built an empire on exploiting the insecurities of her own kind and subjecting them to the harmful bodily and the hideous physical side effects of chemical relaxers. Before tackling the other topic points further, I’d like to borrow some text from the Afroglitzmag.com article “Why Relaxers Are Dangerous.” If you’d like to read the entire article, here’s the link http://afroglitzmag.com/apr09issue1/why-relaxers-are-dangerous/ .

“Lye relaxers contain the chemical sodium hydroxide. Although a very small amount is used on certain foods, a higher concentration of lye, like those used in relaxers, is also used in metal polishers, laundry detergent, oven cleaners, pipe cleaners, and various other household cleaning products. It can easily dissolve through surfaces like fabric, plastic, and even skin. When it seeps through the hair, it breaks the S-S bonds that are meant to protect the hair, causing the hair to lose its natural structure.

No lye relaxers either contain guanidine hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide. Although they’re a milder version, they are known to do the same type of damage.

Another collection of chemicals in the no-lye family are ammonium bisulfate, ammonium sulfate, and ammonium thioglycolate. Rather than breaking the bonds like other relaxers, these chemicals find a home in the core of the hair cuticle, weakening it over time, and stripping it of all its moisture and oils.

All the chemicals listed above are corrosive.

Corrosive/[kuh-roh-siv]: A corrosive substance is one that will destroy or irreversibly damage another substance with which it comes into contact.”



Texturizers and the newly toted “texture softener” are NO different. Left on too long, a texturizer will relax the hair. If not combed through and left on for a shorter time, a relaxer will have the effect of a texturizer. Kiddie relaxers are no exception. They may come in brightly packaged boxes and claim to be gentle, but they contain the same ingredients and therefore have the same effect as any other relaxer.
If anyone is interested in what dangers relaxers pose to body parts other than hair, many are also listed within this very informative article. The fact of the matter is, while many women believe that relaxers are making their hair straight, they are really just damaging the hair so much that it looks straight. For this reason, there can be no such thing as healthy relaxed hair. It’s an oxymoron. If a woman wouldn’t put Easy Off or Drano on her hair, why would she put such a highly concentrated dangerous mix of chemicals there? The sad part is, there ARE warning labels on relaxer kits that look something like this:

“Warning: Contains alkali, Please follow directions carefully to avoid skin and scalp burns, hair loss and eye injury. Do not use if scalp is irritated or injured. Do not use on bleached hair or on permanently colored hair which is breaking, splitting or otherwise damaged. If hair has been previously relaxed, apply only to new growth as described in the directions.”

Has no one stopped to ask themselves why their eyes and skin (let alone hair) would be at risk when using a product that’s supposedly designed for hair? These warnings are not found on products that are not dangerous. PERIOD. My hair shampoo and conditioner sure don’t have them. What bothers me most is that women who are aware of the dangers of relaxers not only continue to relax their own hair but are also relaxing (or counting down the days to relax) their daughter’s hair. WTF?!?!? If a woman wouldn’t let her daughter get a body piercing, or tattoo, or smoke pot (all of which are safer for her than a hair relaxer), then how could that same self-proclaimed rational woman subject her child to this chemical abuse? Many women relax the heads of toddlers and even babies! A licensed stylist will tell a parent to wait until the child is 13/14 years of age to relax their hair. A professional chemist will tell you that these chemicals should NEVER be anywhere near the human head/skin. These chemicals are so toxic that stylists who merely breathe them in during the years of applying them for others suffer severe respiratory conditions. Ever wonder why the stylists need gloves to protect their hands from these chemicals while your head is laid bare? Women who are pregnant are often told by their doctors to stay away from the fumes of or stop using relaxers altogether. Morticians have found a thick layer of mold under the scalps of women who relaxed and texturized their hair for years. It DOES get through the scalp and sits right on the BRAIN! Is this the price of beauty?!? I’m willing to bet that if a drug that cured the common cold or flu had known side effects of skin scarring, burning, and even alopecia, not many women would take it, yet black women by the multitude are buying something skin, hair, and health damaging all in the name of beauty. As Marcus Garvey once said: “Don’t remove the kinks from your hair, remove them from your brain.” It is NOT black hair, but the average black person’s mentality towards that hair that needs to be changed. Maybe black women need a REAL relaxer warning that looks a little like this one that I found on the old http://www.nappturality.com/ board:

"This product may cause permanent hair loss when used on a regular basis over time.
This product may also cause oozing, scabs, & inflammed red skin even when directions are followed.
Burning or tingling does not mean that the relaxer is working well. If your scalp begins to tingle or burn please wash out immediately.
This product and others like it are linked to a condition called Trichorrhexis nodosa: nodes or swellings near the scalp which cause hair breakage.
Do not wash hair or scratch scalp for at least 4-5 days before you apply this hair relaxer. When hair relaxer is applied to a clean or irritated scalp, severe burns may occur.
If you decide to discontinue use of this product your hair texture may not return to its natural texture immediately. Your scalp may go through an adjustment period called “scab hair.” This scab hair process can last anywhere between 1-6 months post relaxer treatment.
Because everyone’s hair & scalp are different over-processing may still occur – even if you follow the directions listed. Over-processing may cause stiff hair that lacks body and shine, extreme shedding, bald spots, and thin hair.
This product may cause your natural hair color to lighten a shade or two over time.
Although this product says do not apply directly on scalp there is no way to avoid this from happening while applying this hair relaxer. Once the alkali chemical touches your scalp, skin damage may occur."

5. Relaxers/straight hair and weaves help us fit in with society; that’s what people like to see. Relaxers and weaves may be the norm in the black community, but they only “help” us fit in by OUR OWN standards. I will tell you that, from my own personal experience and that of many other naturals, nearly all negative reactions to my hair came from OTHER BLACK PEOPLE. Yes, you heard correctly. Black people who go on and on about how they are “black and proud”, but through the use of relaxers, weaves, and chronic hair straightening, they’ve proven to themselves and the world just how ugly they deem black hair to be. In the Chris Rock documentary “Good Hair”, there is one scene where Chris tries to sell some black hair to a hair shop (in a black neighborhood) and, at first glance, the shop owner shakes his head in disgust and refuses to buy the hair, leaving Chris Rock to deem it as obviously “worthless”. Many black women on several hair care forums and blogs, ironically many of which sport straight hair or weaves/relaxers, were highly offended by the shop owner's reaction, but what surprised me was how, at the first hint of disapproval from another race, black women were so ready to defend kinky, coily, African hair, the same hair that they deemed “nappy” and were subjecting themselves to weaves (belonging to women of the same nationality as the shop owner), chronic heat styling and chemical abuse to hide. My questions are, “Why shouldn’t other races deem African hair ugly when people of African descent (POAD) in the Western world have proven just how ugly they think is it?” How can we, as a people, demand respect when we aren’t even giving to ourselves?!?
Similar discussions have cropped up on natural hair websites concerning how society/media isn’t accepting of black hair, but again I ask, “Why should they be?” The media’s job is to make money and cater to a demographic. I believe the reason why black women with kinky hair aren’t getting time to shine is simply because the texture is so hated. In the 1980s, when blacks were obsessed with skin tone and glorified light skin, women with that skin tone where practically all you saw. Once we started to get over that, beautiful dark women came like a flood to the big and small screen. Besides, where would producers and directors even find black women with natural hair in the U.S.? Nearly all black women in this country DON’T wear their hair in an unaltered state. Is fitting in with other races and similarly brain-washed POAD more important than embracing our heritage? Only a POAD can have kinky hair. Is denying that (and essentially a part of your heritage) worth “fitting in”?

6. Straight hair/weaves are more manageable. Straight hair and weaves are NOT more manageable. They’re just what the black community has accustomed themselves to. During slavery, blacks did not have access to the herbs, hair combs, etc. that they’d had in Africa to deal with their hair. They used things like kerosene, animal fat, and other ineffective methods to deal with their hair. Post-slavery, instead of trying to learn anew the hair care techniques for handling kinky hair, blacks went straight to the hot comb and eventually relaxers. Isn’t it sad that black women in post-slavery/colonization areas are the only ethnicity on the PLANET who do not know to care for, comb, and style their hair in its natural state? So many black women don’t even know/remember what their natural hair looks like! This is an injustice. So many mothers (who have suffered scalp burns and breakage from relaxers and hair loss from weaves) have no qualms about giving their daughters the same. They go to these enemies of black hair as a first resort! Why? And no, managing your own hair or that of your child doesn’t have to be hard. In the era of the internet, the age of information, there is NO EXCUSE for not doing the proper research to care for natural hair and instill in your child a sense of self-worth. Why do we degrade our hair with weaves, destroy it with relaxers, and scorch it with constant heat and call that management? This is not our hair, the way it grows out of the scalp. Even for those who like the extra length and body gained from weaves, there ARE kinky weaves! These weaves match, not mask, your hair texture. The fact that so few black women choose to use them showcases to me that the problem is not the manageability of their hair, but the texture itself. So what exactly are you managing? There are so many blogs (like this one), YouTube videos, etc. dedicated to helping women transition, detangle, style, and care for their natural hair as well as the hair of their children. One YouTube mom, a white woman named Katelynn who adopted two African girls with THE kinkiest hair, has many instructional videos on combing/detangling and there are NO tears or tantrums when she combs their hair. There are also tons of websites like http://www.happygirlhair.com/ and http://www.beadsbraidsbeyond.blogspot.com/ dedicated to instructing mothers on proper care and styling methods for African and bi-racial hair. One site dedicated to naturally kinky hair is http://www.nappturality.com/ . Nappturality is a closed forum site for naturals with type 4 hair ONLY. This may seem exclusionary, but this was done because in the black community 4a/4b hair, the tightest and kinkiest is often the most hated/abuse and misunderstood. The site does not even allow the use of the words “straightening” or “straighten” This may sound extreme, but consider this: Although a woman may have natural hair, if she is chronically using heat to straighten it, she is causing damage, not wearing her hair unaltered, and is essentially promoting the message that straight hair is better. The same goes for a natural with a straight weave/wig. Even the idea of a woman with natural hair trying to loosen it is ludicrous. You need to embrace YOUR hair, not someone else’s. There are SO many sites for every hair type, helping you to manage and bring out the beauty in the hair you have. Do some searching and find one! Don’t you own it to yourself? What does it say about the black community that we're so willing to spend a lifetime heat damaging, relaxing, and weaving our hair, all to potentially harmful (to hair and health) results in order to try (and fail) to achieve someone else’s standards of beauty but black women in general won’t even spend a few weeks or months trying to manage their unaltered natural hair?

7. Makeup and false nails are not natural. Makeup and false nails are not natural. This is very much true. But with all the knowledge available on how damaging to hair and scalp (and bodily functions) relaxers are, we definitely can’t equate them with makeup. Makeup, especially the mineral kind, is very gentle to the skin. More importantly, it can’t hide facial features and skin tone, it merely enhances them. My makeup won’t change the shape of my lips, the color of my skin or eyes. I wash it off at the end of the day and I’m back to normal. Now, some may equate this to chronic flat-ironing or hot combing, but I beg to differ. Many women who constantly do this are trying to “heat train” their hair. In reality, they are just damaging their hair so badly with scorching levels of heat that it refuses to revert back to it natural texture, even when wet. Last I checked, there was no makeup on the planet, if applied often enough or left on long enough that will permanently change the color of my mouth or leave an everlasting eyeliner. As for false nails, yes, they are very similar to weaves in the sense that the natural nail is hidden and can be damaged upon removal. However, women who wear acrylics are not hiding some alien nail bed. The acrylics are a longer, stronger version of their nail, unlike straight weaves, which are just the flaunting of someone else’s hair.

8. Natural hair is not accepted in the corporate world. There are more and more women and men sporting locs, twists, afros, and other forms of natural hair in the corporate world. The fact of the matter is, a quality employer, worldwide, will understand that natural hair does not make a person less qualified or intelligent. There are many highly successful black lawyers, CEOs, bankers, judges, teachers, stock brokers, etc. with natural hair. Even in films and television shows (when we get a chance to see them) women with natural hair are nearly always portrayed as wise, sage, and no-nonsense. While this may be somewhat stereotypical, it is a positive stereotype for black women, who have so often been portrayed negatively in the media. Society is opening its eyes and seeing that not all black men with twists and locs are rapists, murders, and thieves. Respect garners respect. Respect yourself and others, and you CAN succeed.

9. It’s just a style/preference; other races wear weaves, too. Many black women claim that straight weaves and relaxed/flat-ironed hair is just a preference, but I must beg to differ for a few reasons. First off, there’s the many negative connotations associated with kinky hair. Nappy, wild, unmanageable, unkempt, and even dirty are often used (mostly by other blacks) to describe this hair type. Now, I’m not saying that every black women has kinky hair. Some have naturally loose curls or even wavy hair. But that’s a very small percentage. The majority have kinky hair, hair that was spoken of with disgust by slave masters and slaves alike. Obviously, there exists within the black community a great taboo over this hair texture; even black men with kinky hair in general often go out of their way to keep it cut very low or even bald. So how can these methods of styling be a preference? And for those who think they are: Have you ever stopped to consider why you prefer straight hair (however it is achieved) so much? For just about every black person in the Western world, it has been drilled since childhood (better that reading, writing, and arithmetic) just what “bad hair” is and if they were deemed to have it, then achieving straight hair became the goal. As far as relaxers and texturizers are concerned, I do not even acknowledge these as being styles. Styles and trends are temporary; these chemical assaults are permanent! The things done to the hair post-relaxer/texturizer are styles, the chemical altering itself is not. Once again for those who claim it’s a preference: Do you see nothing wrong if, after doing your research on the harm relaxers/texturizers cause hair and the damage weave and constant flat-ironing can do, you still PREFER to take your chances anyway, all to achieve straight hair? Think about it. Just because these styles and hair techniques have become the norm in the black community does NOT make them right or okay. Many things that were once considered normal are simply unthinkable now. Is this really the legacy we should be leaving the next generation? For those who use the argument that other races wear weaves, too, and that they are not imitating whites by wearing weaves, I must bring up this point: If you saw a white girl walking down the street with a kinky or afro weave/wig, would you not think that she was trying to be black and (in essence) making a mockery of the black race? As I’ve mentioned, kinky weaves exist and also braid extensions, but many black women choose not to use them, using the excuse of “unmanageable” hair to sport straight hair. Actions speak louder than words. You can claim to love your hair and be “proud” of your heritage all you want, but black women’s chronic use of heat straightening, straight wigs/weaves, and relaxers have proven the opposite. As far as I’m concerned, women who wear Remi hair are imitating Indian women, women who wear Yaki are imitating the Chinese, and those with blonde weaves are, yes, trying to be white. Now, before anyone gets all up in arms and calls white women out on tanning and collagen lip injections, I must also say this: Black people do not have a monopoly on dark skin. Tanning can be achieved 100% naturally through sunlight, no chemicals or electricity, thread or needles required; Straight hair on a kinky-haired person cannot. Black people do not have a monopoly on full lips. As a matter of fact, MANY white women have them naturally, so it’s possible that the ones who don’t are just trying to achieve the lips of those who do. Black people DO have a monopoly on kinky hair. To flaunt the hair and physical attributes (like those creepy colored contacts) of other races is in no way bringing pride to our own.

10. It’s not what’s on your head, it’s what IN your head. Yes, this is an incredibly true statement. A person’s worth and intelligence are not in any way involved with their hair. However, as mentioned in the duration of this blog post, I believe that the wearing of one’s own natural hair showcases an awareness of culture and more importantly, of self. If, with all the information given here and on countless other sites, one insists on continuing the cycle of dependency on false hair, chronic heat use, and chemical abuse, that person has severe hair hatred that can be interpreted as self-hatred. Now, let me explain something. Self-hatred is not saying “I hate myself. I wanna die.” It can be the systematic, routine altering of some part of your appearance. The fact of the matter is, people simply DON’T change things that they like. Period. There are so many black women who are moody, angry, and won’t even leave their homes without new weave or a fix of the creamy crack. There are black women relaxing/buying wigs and weaves for toddlers and even babies! Even after reading this and so many other blog posts/articles and KNOWING the dangers, there are multitudes of African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-European and Afro-Latino women who will continue to disrespect their hair and, in a sense, themselves. Why? When did we, as a people become so fragmented that our sense of self-worth hinged on trying to claim a beauty that is not our own and denying the true beauty that each one of us possesses? Please, everyone, educate yourselves and just maybe this race will have a chance to regain some of the dignity, beauty and glory that we were robbed of so long ago.



As I said, I’m not here to judge anyone. I want to help anyone and everyone who is or wants to transition to natural do so. I want to help those who already are natural stick with it and learn styling techniques. I want to educate those who’ll let me. I am a student myself and learn more every day. Please, if you agree, disagree, want for me to go more in-depth on any of these topic points, or just want some more info, leave me a comment or email. I wish you all love. The love of yourselves :-)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Superior Stlying Aids: Part 2

For the discerning natural who wants only the best for her kinks, curls and coils, or for anyone who's willing to spring some extra cash, this is my list of the all-time BEST all-natural styling aids for kinky hair that will leave even the coarsest, thirstiest tresses quenched and soft. In totally random order, here goes!


Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream: Before I go into detail about just how mind blowing this product is, I first want to state that Qhemet Biologics makes what are (arguably) the best all-natural, organic hair care products for Afro-textured, kinky hair. Their tag line, "Ancestral hair care for modern naturals" is spot on. The Amla and Olive Heavy cream is superb for anyone with 4a/b hair. It gives weight and moisture to the hair without being greasy and a little goes a VERY long way. Too much and you could end up with sticky, oily hair, but just the right amount gives great moisture and superb sheen! The Amla and Olive cream, as well as all other Qhemet Biologics products can be found at www.qhemetbiologics.com. This product ca be used as a conditioner, deep conditioner and even body butter but I use it strictly for braidouts and I get excellent results every time!


Oyin Handmade Shine & Define Styling Serum: Once again, before I say anything about the product, I want to let everyone know that Oyin Handmade is a small, black-owned business with a great reputation for quality products. Across the board, their conditioner, shampoo, styling aids, and even lip balms have gotten stellar reviews! Oyin actually means honey in Yoruba and honey is a main ingredient in most of their products. Now as far as the Shine & Define, this stuff is amazing! It has a great citrus scent that (being natural) is not too over-powering. I used on one of my last attempts at twists and while they still looked weird (because I can't seem to twist my own hair :-c]), they were shiny and frizz free. I also used this under my Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel and it gave me the greatest definition of my life. Definitely a keeper! Oyin handmade Shine & Define, as well as all other Oyin products, can be purchased at www.oyinhandmade.com.


Afroveda Shea Amla Whipped Butter Cream: Once again, I must say what a great line Afroveda is! and probably the most inexpensive of all the natural brands. Now as far as their Shea Amla Whipped Butter Cream is concerned, it is specifically targeted to those with thin, dry, hair that's prone to split ends. Now my hair isn't prone to split ends and its certainly NOT thin, but I was in desperate need of moisture, so I gave it a try after reading all the rave reviews online and I'm so glad I did! This stuff is THICK and little goes on forever! It lay down my stubborn edges, gave my braidout a great shine and made creating a smooth bun a piece of cake! Afroveda products can be bought at www.afroveda.com.


Jane Carter Solution Nourish & Shine: A lot of naturals had been raving about Jane Carter products for years (this one especially) but since I'm already a PJ (product junkie) and I didn't want any new products getting lost in my stash, I didn't try it until about 6 months ago. I was a Whole Foods, it was on sale, and I had just finished my Oyin Handmade Shine & Define, so I eagerly bought it. Was this really the miracle product that others tote it to be? HELL YES!!! OMG, this ish was the bomb! Seriously! It was like hair dew or at least a small miracle! This product made my hair soft, even more bouncy, gave definition, made my braidouts last for day, smelled divine, and its all-natural! Every woman on this planet MUST try this before they die :-D Jane Carter solution products can be bought at Whole Foods, the Vitamin Shoppe, and www.janecartersolution.com.

Has anyone already tried these treasures? What did you think?

Superior Stlying Aids: Part 1

Some of my all-time favorite styling products can be found at your local drug store. For naturals who are on a budget or simply like the convenience of direct buying as opposed to buying online, its important to be able to find dependable, quality, drug store/pharmacy products to help style, moisturize and define kinky hair. In Random order, here goes!




Long Aid Curl Activator Curl: Before you finish rolling your eye, let me explain something. Curl activator gel is used often and effectively by many naturals (including myself). No, it's not just for people with loose ringlets or a Jherri curl. Regardless of what you may read or what you've come to believe, any hair that is not straight has a curl pattern, including the controversial 4b, lol! Want proof? Slap some curl activator on it and just watch. Long Aid is probably one of the most popular curl activators on the market among naturals and on the recommendation of a friend, I used it to try to get some definition and it worked like a dream! I simply sectioned my hair and applied it to wet/damp hair after a wash. My hair POPPED and the curls clumped together beautifully! I did have major shrinkage (a side effect of 4b hair), but my hair was gorgeous and shiny! Long Aid can be found at your local Walgreens for as little as $2.
Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel: Yes, another gel. But no worries. This gel is not hard, not tacky, does not flake and contains no drying alcohol. Eco Styler was raved about on many forums so I decided to give the Eco Styler Krystal Gel a try, layering it over my beloved Long Aid Curl Activator Gel. results? My hair had a a mirror shine and my curls were defined and touchable for 3 days. I just reactivated with water if needed. The Krystal Gel is Eco Styler highest hold (10) and well and the brown protein gel (which I haven't tried) and the Olive Oil gel, but neither left my hair hard at all. The Olive Oil version is the one I'd vouch for simply because it contains a natural oil known the world over for its hair health benefits. Best of all, a 32oz. tub can be bought for a measly $3-5 and last you forever! If you find that any of these have a hold that's too hard for you, try another color (like the blue, pink, or yellow) which have a lighter hold. Eco Styler gels can be found at CVS, some Wal-Marts, and Sally Beauty Supply. 

                         
Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner: This conditioner is a creamy, fragrant blend of whipped shea butter that's light, fluffy, and easy to use. Now, I know that I mentioned in a previous blog post that this leave-in does nothing for me now that I've achieved some length, but at the beginning of my natural journey and the transition process, it was go to, my hair 911. Many naturals still swear by this and use it religiously and at about $4 for 16 oz., it's worth a try, especially if it becomes a staple. Cantu can be found at any Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, or Target.

     
Hollywood Beauty Olive Oil Cream: Hollywood Beauty, in my personal opinion, is the best in quality products at affordable prices, and the Olive Oil Cream just can't be beat. This products contains NO mineral oil or petroleum jelly, plus vitamins A,B,C & E. When it caught my eye at the local Publix, I just HAD to try it, as well as their Carrot Cream. Verdict? I loved them both and would recommend them both to any who wanted extra moisture. However, I preferred the way the Olive Oil cream worked on both wet and dry hair and its softening powers even left my hands smoother! Definitely a keeper! Hollywood Beauty products can be found at Publix, Walgreens, and some Wal-Marts.


So, what do you think? For those of you who have already tried these products, how do you like them?