Category Archives: Natural Hair Blog

Breakage…again!

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clutch-the-pearls

I did not want to have to blog about breakage again, but here we go. I already know the cause of it:

  1. Not protective styling enough
  2. Becoming lazy when caring for my hair
  3. Using too much heat (blow dryer & straightening brush)
  4. Not moisturizing enough

It’s all shameful because I know better. I know better. However, I took a break from getting my hair braided this winter and I’m paying for it. I became a very lazy natural and now I have breakage as a result towards the back of my head. I noticed more than the usual shedding and unevenness. I have no one to blame but myself, and I know what needs to be done to fix it. I need to do the opposite of all four things I listed above!

I’m going to cut off as much breakage as possible (try to even out my hair back there), give it some extra TLC, and then get my hair braided. It’s time, it’s been almost six months since I’ve been to the shop to have my hair braided. I tried faux loc crochet braids recently (see picture below) but could only tolerate them for almost three weeks because the synthetic hair made my scalp itch horribly! But they were cute! As always, I’ll keep you posted on my breakage saga. ūüė¶

sonya-faux-locs

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Love of Self + Culture = Love of Natural Hair

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Angela Davis Art

For¬†the past few months I’ve been reading and hearing disturbing accounts of black¬†women being shamed or¬†made to feel ugly because of the darkness of their skin, the kinkiness of their hair, the fullness of their lips or noses, or the curviness¬†and voluptuousness of their bodies. This isn’t just happening in America, it’s happening in Brazil, Cuba, Africa, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic – any place where there are darker hued people. To me, it’s a reminder of how deeply rooted racism, colorism, and self hate really is. In Louisiana for an example, it is a fact of life that those deemed Creole,¬†who are basically light skinned (might as well throw in “with good hair”) do not associate with those who are darker skinned. They won’t even allow a darker skinned person in a photo with them, let alone stand up in their wedding! In 2016 this is still happening, and it blows my mind.

In Brazil, there’s a young woman named Nayara Justino who is a model and actress. She¬†made history by being the first dark skinned woman named Carnival Queen. Sadly, she was¬†stripped of her title because of the racist outrage over her dark skin. The people wanted the tradition to continue of only¬†crowning a¬†lighter skinned Brazilian woman. This poor woman was called every racist name in the book on social media, and the judges cowardly caved into the¬†public outcry and stripped her of her crown and giving¬†Nayara no reason for doing so. Much later they denied taking her crown because of the color of her skin,¬†even though everyone knows that’s exactly the reason why. Let’s be real –¬†if the public never had a problem with her being Carnival Queen, she’d still have her crown, right? Right.

I hate hearing and reading about these things, but I’m glad for social media because without it we’d never hear about these things happening. Mainstream media never report about these types of things because they want you to believe that¬†the world isn’t as racist as it is. Well you’d have to be living under a rock to not know that racism in America and in other countries is alive and well. It’s this narrow-minded thinking¬†that¬†keeps black women and¬†women of color¬†from loving everything about themselves. This is why it’s so hard for women to even attempt to love their natural¬† kinky,¬†coily¬†hair¬†because all they hear and see on tv and in print ads is that straight, long hair is the only hair that is beautiful, and it’s the only hair you should want.¬†Curls and kinks are ugly, unkempt looking,¬†and wild. Just writing this makes me cringe at how ridiculous this thinking is, but it’s out there and the roots run deep in the minds of many black women and black men.

Recently I watched the documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution on PBS. During the 1960’s and 1970’s there was a call for black pride because of the hideous racism and persecution taking place¬†against blacks at the hands¬†of white people. Loving ourselves, our culture,¬†skin color,¬†and¬†natural hair were just some of things that were¬†encouraged by the Black Panther Party. Seeing all of those beautiful, natural afros of various sizes, textures, and colors in this documentary made me smile. It made me swell with pride because all of these people looked like me, they had hair like me and they wore it proudly. After the demise of¬†The Black Panther Party, that pride¬†in our natural hair¬† practically¬†disappeared as chemical relaxers and Jheri Curls took over. Fast forward to today and you have¬†black women¬†once again saying no to¬†putting¬†harmful chemicals¬†in their hair and yes to proudly wearing their natural hair. Many call it a movement, others call it a fad. Ask the manufactures of chemical relaxers and beauty salons about their sales for the past ten years and they’ll tell you it’s not a fad. Today, women are more informed and aware of the harmful side affects that chemical relaxers cause. There is a plethora of information all over the internet at our disposal to educate ourselves with. So no, this is not a fad. This is a lifestyle change and natural hair is here to stay.

Collectively as women, we need to¬†help and¬†encourage each other whether if we are natural or not. Don’t look down on those who aren’t natural, be encouraging. Remember, most of us were addicted to the creamy crack for many years too! Don’t preach to them, be informative. Compliment one another and be an example. Be willing to discuss your hair journey if given the opportunity. Your story could help someone else make that final decision to go natural.¬† Before I went natural, when I would see black women rocking their afros, afro puffs, or twist outs, I always felt their hair was beautiful. I felt a sense of pride seeing them rock their natural hair because I always felt our natural hair is beautiful. I wouldn’t hesitate to compliment them and tell them how beautiful their hair was. Then I had to look at myself and ask¬†“If you know natural hair is beautiful and it’s healthier for you, what’s keeping you from going natural?”¬†I had no answer, and I had no excuse because there was nothing holding me back. My daughters were natural, so again, what was holding me back? Nothing. I got educated and I took the plunge. I big chopped.

There is nothing wrong with loving our culture. There is nothing wrong with loving our blackness. And there is definitely nothing wrong with loving ourselves and our natural hair.

 

Embrace Your Natural Tresses

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Natural hair art

 

When I started this blog, I posted about how important it is to embrace your natural hair in order to love it and feel comfortable with it. I know that doesn’t come easy for everyone, which is why it’s important that you’re absolutely sure that this is the journey you want to embark on. It’s easy to say you’re all in and then feel overwhelmed once the process really starts to happen. Trust me, I’ve been there. When I big chopped I LOVED having the super short hair and being able to wash and go and not having to fuss with my hair much, if at all. Then it started to grow. Slowly. It seemed like it took forever for it to grow to the point where I could do twist outs and I became frustrated, but I stuck with it. I loved my fro, and I loved my natural hair.

I’m saying all of this because I had a doctors appointment recently where the nurse who was taking care of me complimented me on my hair and asked me what I do to maintain it. She then related that she had been natural for a year but keeps her hair covered up with wigs. She knows that’s not good either, and I told her “Yes, you need to let your hair breathe.” She wanted to know what products to use and how to style her hair. I began to tell her what I use which is natural, organic oils and butters. I told her to rock a twist out and she said “But what if I want to go out and I want to straighten my hair? Other naturals tell me to stay away from heat though.” I said “Yes, it’s best to try to keep the heat out of your hair, but there are those who flat iron their hair or straighten it with a straightening comb. That’s totally up to you if you want to do that, but know that heat can be damaging.” Then she kept saying that she thinks natural hair looks good on other people but not herself.

That’s when I told her that she has to give her natural hair a chance because she’ll never embrace it and learn to love it if she’s always covering it up with a wig. I encouraged her to rock her fro and rock it with some big hoop earrings. Again she stated she was scared that it wouldn’t look right on her. <PAUSE> How on earth does ones natural hair not look right? This is what relaxers and straightening combs have done to us. We don’t even know that our natural tresses are beautiful because we’ve been brainwashed to believe that only straight hair is beautiful! If I had more time to talk to her, I would have asked her WHY she went natural to begin with. Did she do it because she thinks it’s “in” right now? Did she do it because she knows it’s what is healthier for her? Either way she’s struggling with accepting her natural hair and that made me feel…sad.

If I had the time to speak with her¬†a little longer I would have encouraged her to do her research. Go to YouTube and look for how-to videos of how to care for,¬†maintain, and style¬†her hair type and length. I¬†also would have¬†encouraged her to research and educate herself on the different natural and organic oils and butters that are excellent for our hair and scalp. Education is key to loving your natural hair. I can’t stress that enough. I did a ton of research before I went natural, after I went natural, and I continue to do research now that I’m three years natural. Never stop educating yourself about your hair, but before you take the plunge into the natural world, educate yourself as much as possible. Find out your hair type. Some people hate hair typing, but for me it helped knowing my hair type(s) because I quickly realized that I have¬†different grades of hair in my head. It will also determine what products and oils you can or cannot use¬†in your hair.

Finally, once you’ve educated yourself, it’ll help you to embrace and appreciate your natural hair for what it can and cannot do. Not all hair is meant to curl up and be bouncy when you walk. Not all hair is going to hang freely. Just because a product says it’ll make your hair curl doesn’t mean it’s true for your hair. Take the time to get to know your hair. Once you do that, you will learn to love, embrace, and appreciate your natural tresses.

Coconut Oil is Back in my Life

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coconut oil

 

Last year I read a lot of blogs and articles about why coconut oil is suddenly bad for your hair and scalp. It made me raise an eyebrow because I know of the many health benefits of coconut oil, especially for your hair and scalp. However, I did take a break from using coconut oil – but not because of those articles.¬†During the summer¬†I took a short sabbatical from using coconut oil¬†in my hair care regimen and used mostly my mango butter mixture (which actually had coconut oil in it still ūüėČ ), Jamaican Black Castor Oil, pumpkin seed oil, and olive oil. I took the break from coconut oil because I’ve found that during the summer, the hot temperatures¬†made my hair feel crunchy, dry, and hard¬†when I used coconut oil on it.¬†But during the winter, my hair LOVES coconut oil and it NEEDS it to keep it soft and manageable.

So I ask the question: How can something that’s been used on the hair and scalp for thousands of years by men and women alike, from various cultures all over the world suddenly be bad for your hair ? If you wash your hair regularly (and by regularly I mean whatever schedule you have set up) and use a clarifying shampoo that will get all the oils out, you should be fine! There are too many health benefits to your skin, scalp, and hair to completely dismiss coconut oil, but you must do what is best for you. The naysayers are saying that oils, heavy oils in particular, are bad, they clog your pores, they stump your hair growth, but this is only true¬†if you use these oils excessively and you don’t wash your hair regularly with a clarifying shampoo. It is a known fact that African American¬†hair NEEDS OIL of some kind.¬†I know there are naturals out there who swear by not using oils on their hair, and their hair is thriving and growing.¬†Kudos to you if you’re one of them! As someone with 4c¬†type hair that is kinky and coily and naturally dry, I need oil. And for me, I can’t have just any oil.¬†I need the heavier oils.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t be afraid to switch up your oils or to try new oils. Natural, organic oils have many benefits. If you’re not allergic to any of them, use them. Don’t let blogs and other people’s personal opinions or experiences keep you from using something that has always worked for you. Your 4c¬†hair may not like what my 4c¬†hair likes. Her 3c¬†hair probably can’t tolerate the heavier oils like her 4b hair can. Our bodies are made up differently, and our hair will never be “one size fits all” when it comes to products and oils. With that being said, coconut oil is definitely back in my life. As a matter of fact, I just ordered some from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Carrington-Farms-Organic-Virgin-Coconut/dp/B008P0BG7I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454005764&sr=8-2&keywords=carrington+farms+coconut+oil

And I finally purchased some aloe vera gel!

http://www.amazon.com/Aubrey-Organics-Pure-Aloe-Vera/dp/B00013YZ0C/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1454005968&sr=8-17&keywords=aloe+vera+gel

Yes the gel is a bit pricey for that little bottle, but it’s supposed to be a really good quality product so I’m giving it a try! My scalp needs all the healing help it can get!!

Lessons Learned

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Lessons learned

I’m¬† coming upon my third year of being natural, and boy have I learned some things! The number one thing I’ve learned is that being a lazy natural is not the business. You will cause yourself a lot of unwanted damage to your hair and grief to yourself.¬†Let me help you not make the same mistakes that I made with some suggestions:

  1. Do not ignore your ends! Get regular trims or give yourself regular trims. I cannot stress this enough. This was the biggest mistake I’ve made since being natural. DO NOT ignore your ends. Just last night I cut A LOT of damage off of my hair, and I’ve been doing so every so often to try to get rid of the damaged ends – and there’s a lot. I have no one to blame but myself because I did not take heed to a lot of the advice given by other natural’s and professionals.
  2. You must come up with a regular hair care routine and STICK WITH IT. If you wash your hair once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month, stick to your plan and do not be lazy about it. Moisturize, deep condition, give yourself regular scalp massages. I saw much better results when I started to stick to a regular hair care routine.
  3. Do not be afraid of trying different protective styles. Braids are not the only protective style out there. Try wigs, crochet wigs, sew ins, etc. There is nothing wrong with braids, but if they are done too tightly then you’re defeating the purpose.

This past year I experienced scalp irritation (unexplained pain and a bald spot, and breakage in one concentrated area) which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It made me more aware of how I was treating my hair and scalp, and I was actually being too rough on it and scratching too much. I began to use a dandruff shampoo to help with my dandruff and itchy scalp issue, and I’ve now included pumpkin seed oil into my hair care regimen.

I’ve bought myself a pair of professional scissors to cut my hair, and I’ve been doing my own trimming. I’ve been gently flat ironing my hair just enough for me to see what my ends looked like, and then I cut. Eventually I will find my way to a professional, but in the mean time I like taking responsibility for my hair whether if it grows or breaks off. I know that may sound crazy, but that’s how I feel. I know my hair is super uneven, and I’m ok with that. I don’t care about uneven hair right now. I care about HEALTH. If there’s one thing about hair, it will always grow back (unless you have a condition like alopecia or some other condition that causes permanent hair loss).

I’ll be honest, I’ve had my freak out moments, moments of self doubt¬†wondering “Should I just cut it all off again and start¬†over?” Matter of fact I thought about cutting off all of my hair and starting all over just last night! I shared that with my husband and he said “You’re overreacting.” He was right. Sort of. ūüėČ Even though I’m three years in, I have to keep reminding myself that this is a journey. It has it’s highs and lows,¬† but you have to keep going. You have to make the best of whatever situation you’re in. It’s funny to read my earlier blogs from when I first went natural to where I am right now. I was very na√Įve about some things, but experience is definitely a teacher! Lesson learned.

 

2015 Natural Hair In Review

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2015

 

Looking back on¬†my natural hair journey for 2015, I noticed, and you’ve probably¬†noticed too, that I was fixated on protective styling. That quickly got trumped when I discovered my bald spot and breakage. The bald spot, though traumatic, ended up being a blessing in disguise. It made me take a closer look at how I treated my hair. It made me realize that I was being too rough on my hair and on my daughter’s hair. I had to rethink my hair care regimen. I was also forced to look at the products I was using, even though I take the minimalist approach to my products. I’ve incorporated more natural oils into my routine,¬†and I deep condition more. Positive changes definitely came from my bald spot scare!

Since starting this natural hair journey, it’s always been about learning and embracing. You have to take the good with the bad no matter what. I will admit that when my bald spot was discovered, the thought of cutting off all of my hair did cross my mind. I felt this would only be an option if the breakage had spread to other parts of my head, and it never did. I’ve read many blogs and watched many YouTube videos on breakage and the steps some have taken to deal with breakage, and cutting off all of their hair is one step some have taken, depending on how severe the damage was.¬†Thank goodness I didn’t have to go to that extreme, but I was prepared to do so if push came to shove.

Overall, I believe 2015 was a good year. Towards the end I got hit with the¬†bald spot¬†drama, but it all worked out once I got a solid hair care regimen in place. I love the natural hair community because through me sharing my experience with my bald spot, fellow naturalista’s rallied around me and let me know that I wasn’t alone. They’ve experienced breakage and bald spots, and they’ve gotten through them. I’ve gotten a lot of wonderful advice and constant support and encouraging words, and I will forever be grateful for that. I don’t know what 2016 will bring, but I pray it’s full of positivity. Here’s to healthy hair!!

XoXo

 

Sonya