Monthly Archives: November 2014

When Will Naturals Be UNITED?

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Women power

A blogger on Facebook wrote about natural bloggers and vloggers on YouTube and Instagram who wear a lot of “bold makeup” in their tutorials. She stated how they go through their how-to hair tutorials and then show the finished product with a very made up face. Not all vloggers do this, but some do. She then took the time to shout out vloggers that she personally liked because they wear little to no makeup in their tutorials. She also related how she used to wear makeup but has since stopped because she learned how to feel beautiful without makeup. While reading this and trying to figure out where exactly she was going with all of this, I couldn’t help but notice how she made it very clear that she was anti-makeup, but in the same breath gave what I felt was a very backhanded compliment to the other known bloggers and vloggers who always have ‘beat faces.” (For those that don’t know, a “beat face” means your makeup is flawless)

She said that she wanted to reach out to those naturals who may feel that they have to put on a ton of makeup to make their natural hair look more appealing to others because this is what they see the YouTube vloggers do. Her concern was for those who also hide behind makeup due to deeper issues they may have. I know there are naturals out there who feel like they must compensate for their natural kinky hair, and it breaks my heart to hear that they would feel that way.  However, if your intent is to encourage these naturals and open the dialogue for those who do have deeper issues going on, don’t point the finger at other naturals as though their choice to wear makeup is something bad.

Let me be clear: I admire her wish to open the dialogue for those who don’t feel comfortable in their own skin to be themselves. I take issue with her approach. As though there isn’t enough pressure on women as a whole to look a certain way, fit into certain molds, and to be a certain size to even be considered remotely attractive, we as natural haired women of color continue to put added pressure on one another by trying to dictate what makes you a true natural. Why must we do this to each other over something that should be celebrated, not trivialized? Why must some be so petty?

Just like being natural is a choice, wearing makeup is a choice as well. We all have our reasons for kicking creamy crack (relaxers) to the curb and embracing our natural roots. We also have our own reasons for wearing or not wearing makeup. Makeup is an enhancement. It’s used to cover up flaws and enhance beauty. Some women don’t feel beautiful unless they are made up. Some women feel beautiful and at their best with a clean, bare face. No one should be shamed for either choice.

I’m all about encouraging and empowering women, especially those who are embracing their natural roots because going natural is not an easy thing to do. It’s a process, and sometimes it can take a long time for some to embrace the process. That’s why I started this blog, to document my journey and to hopefully encourage others along the way. It bothers me to see bloggers write things that divide rather than unite. I hate to see yet another rule in the non-existent “Natural Hair Rule Book” being pushed off on those of us in the natural hair community. Educate, uplift, be positive, encourage, and empower. Those are the things we should be doing for one another as women and as black natural haired women, not making ones feel inadequate or not natural enough.

I keep coming back to one question: Where does it end? Every time you turn around there’s yet another “rule” out there that naturals should or should not be doing. For many of us, going natural had a trickle down effect. Not only are we taking better care of our hair by using more natural and organic products, we have also become more aware of what we eat by making healthier food choices. Some have stopped putting heat in their hair. These are all good, positive things that ones have made a personal decision to do. Giving the impression, intentionally or not, that naturals shouldn’t wear makeup and embrace their natural skin is one writers personal choice being pushed off on others, and that isn’t right. Will the next rule be that naturals shouldn’t wear finger nail polish or fake nails of any kind because we should embrace and love our natural nails? When will we stop adding burdensome, unnecessary rules to having natural hair and start accepting and embracing ourselves for the wonderful, diverse women that we are?

I expressed my opinion on the article and there were a few, including the author, who didn’t like it. What they couldn’t grasp was how her words, intentionally or not, could be offensive to those who do wear makeup. Their response to me was “Well the article isn’t for you, why are you so defensive? This article is for those who do feel pressured to wear makeup or feel the need to hide behind makeup. Those are the ones we want to reach.” They totally missed the point. At first I went back and forth with some of them attempting to explain where I was coming from, but ended up sounding like a broken record. The comments from these “grown” women became childish, and that’s when I gave up and left the conversation. In my opinion it wasn’t a positive, unbiased or uplifting post by this blogger. You can’t claim to be positive by putting down others and then sit back and act surprised when those who do enjoy wearing makeup are offended by some of your statements in your article. Oh, did I mention that the majority of those who took issue with my comments were those who do NOT wear makeup, just like the blogger who wrote the article? Surprise, surprise.

In the end I will always advocate for encouraging and uplifting my fellow naturalistas. I will always support and celebrate encouraging and uplifting natural hair blogs that also educate it’s readers. I will always speak out against the endless natural hair rules that certain natural hair extremists try to push onto others. I will always do my part to UNITE naturals and be positive, not divide and discourage.

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The Last of My Raw African Shea Butter

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Shea Butters

One year and some months ago, I went on Amazon.com and bought 10lbs of raw African Shea Butter. I was on a mission to make my own natural hair and body butters. I’ve used all kinds of oils in my mixtures: Jojoba, Argan, Jamaican Black Castor oil, etc. At first I thought I’d never use all of this luscious shea butter, but my family and I have really used it up! We use it in our hair and on our bodies. I used to swear by cocoa butter (Palmers to be exact) for your face and body, especially during our cold winter months. I know some can’t put oil on their face because of acne, but I have dry skin so cocoa butter and shea butter always worked for me on my face. Now that I know you can buy raw cocoa butter as well I think that will be my next project – making my own cocoa butter based concoction!

Getting back on topic, last week I used up the last of my shea butter and made three tubs worth. This batch was by far the best I’ve ever made. For one, I cut back on all the oils I used in it. This time, I only used, coconut oil (organic), extra virgin olive oil, a few capsules of vitamin E, and peppermint essential oil. I didn’t melt down the shea butter all the way this time. (I know some will frown upon this, but I had an idea in mind!) I heated it on the stove just to make it a tad bit softer. (FYI, I got an excellent batch of shea butter that was very soft and malleable to the touch. I always melted it on the stove and then strained out the impurities left after melting. I did not see any impurities/dirt with this batch even though I only melted it down half way). I then put it in my large mixing bowl along with the other oils that I used and then mixed it with my hand mixer (about 5-10 minutes give or take) until it had the consistency of a fluffy mousse or whipped cream.

I then used a rubber spatula to put into my containers and then sealed them. I let them set at room temperature for a few hours and then tested some on my skin. It was so silky and melted on contact and absorbed into my skin very quickly. I think I’ve found the secret to preparing my shea butter – whip it, WHIP IT GOOD! LOL! And the peppermint essential oil gives it such a fresh, minty smell that I just LOVE! I’ve also used rosemary essential oil in the past. I also like like jasmine, lavender, and vanilla.

I must also give my husband a shout out because he was my main guinea pig for all of my trials and errors when making my concoctions. He always gave me honest feedback and I listened to him. One of his early complaints was it was hard to rub the shea butter into his skin after a bath or shower. He was right. I wasn’t mixing or beating the mixture enough, and I had to adjust (add more or less) the amount of oils I added to my earlier batches. It’s been really fun going through the process of making my own hair and body butters because I love coming up with my own recipes or improving on a current recipe until I get it just right. I totally got this last batch just right. 🙂

Length Check

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It has been one year and six months since my big chop and one year and seven months since breaking free of the creamy crack. Since then I’ve only blown dry my hair three times but never flat ironed or straightened my hair. This past Saturday on a whim I decided that I would take the electric straightening comb and straighten my hair for a length check. I only ran the comb through my hair once. My goal was not to get my hair bone straight, just straight enough to get an idea of how long my hair was. The length surprised me a lot, which means if I ever do decide to have my hair professionally flat ironed it’ll be even longer. I still think I’ll reserve having my hair flat ironed for when I hit my two year anniversary.

The back of my hair is the longest. In it’s shrunken state it measured at 6 inches when I stretched out one of my plaits. When I straightened it it was down my upper back. Next longest is the top of my hair and the sides. My front is the shortest because it was chopped off mercilessly by my former beautician before I went natural, but slowly but surely it’s getting there. When stretched it reaches the top of my nose. That’s a lot of progress from where it used to be!

I think it’s important to do length checks at different stages in your natural hair journey. Look at your progress as milestones. I look at where my hair is now compared to where I was this same time last year and it’s simply amazing. Patience has truly paid off. Also taking better care of my hair, listening to my hair and not being so lazy about my hair care helped tremendously. Straightening my hair also gave me a better view of my ends and made my “search and destroy” of split ends and knots a bit easier. Finally, doing this latest length check boosted my confidence. I feel pretty. Sexy even! I’m rocking this big, blown out Afro with so much confidence that no one can tell me a THING, LOL! I have received so much positive feedback and compliments that it truly warms my heart. The best compliment I received was from my soon to be 13 year old daughter. She said “Mama your hair is sooo pretty like that! You HAVE to do my hair like that! I want my hair big like yours mama, pleeeaaase do my hair like yours!”  My little mini me. I love it! And of course I’m going to do her hair like mine. “Big hair don’t care” rules in our house!
Sonyas Hair Journeycollage 11-14-2