Category Archives: Natural hair

The Erasure of Kinky Hair

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Purple and black fro

The erasure of kinky hair is a real issue, and I’ve been speaking on it since I started this blog and big chopped over four years ago. One glaring and utterly disturbing thing I noticed after becoming natural was black natural haired women’s obsession with having curly hair and all the bloggers, vloggers, and hair products that promote this trend. I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now. For many African American women, being natural isn’t pretty unless your hair is curly. I’m talking about those who aren’t happy with a simple twist out or braid out; they want that curly hair on a constant basis from using one or a bunch of products that will magically make their hair curl. What they fail to realize is that for many, despite the products they use, their hair still may not curl up the way they want it to – especially if they have kinky hair. I’ve even heard women say that they stopped being natural because their hair wouldn’t curl like the other naturally curly women (mixed race women or the bloggers who have 3b – 4a type hair).  I’ve also heard women say that they refuse to go natural because they know  their hair won’t curl up. All of these sentiments sadden me.

I always thought that the natural hair movement was about encouraging black women to embrace their hair as it grows out of their scalp and to learn to nourish it, take care of it and most importantly, love it. At least that’s what it means to me. But the constant barrage of images of women with curly hair due to their mixed heritage or whose hair type is simply naturally curlier than those with kinky hair, has many black women seeking something that may never happen for them unless they become product junkies and buy a bunch of products. This, in turn, does not allow them to love and appreciate their hair for what it does naturally on it’s own and accept their hair for what it cannot do. In turn, they give up on their natural hair journey because of disappointment and unrealistic expectations.

I have nothing against curly girls. I love and appreciate them. But we cannot ignore the fact that there is still a lack of representation for those who have kinky hair. I place the bulk of the blame on the companies who market false hopes and misguided ideas of beauty to women with kinky hair that they too can have instant curly hair by using a cream, gel or shampoo. Curly hair is not what makes natural hair beautiful. Being natural and no longer poisoning your hair, scalp, and essentially your body with chemical relaxers is what is beautiful.  Caring for your hair with all natural oils and products is what is beautiful.

Making the decision to rock your natural hair is not something you should take lightly. It’s an emotional journey, it’s time consuming, and it’s full of highs and lows. Sticking to that decision when experiencing the frustrating lows is even harder. But one of the worst things you can do is to go into your natural hair journey with unrealistic expectations. If you’re a kinky haired girl, learn to love your kinks and coils and don’t be ashamed to rock them. It is completely okay if your hair doesn’t curl up magically after putting a curling pudding on it. Don’t allow our kinky hair to be erased because society and hair care lines are catering to and promoting curly hair every time you go to the store, or look at a magazine or watch a TV commercial. Kinky hair is beautiful. Kinky hair needs representation. We are not the step child of the natural hair community. We will not be erased.

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When The Creamy Crack Lures You Back

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Straight and curly hair

Hair is such a personal and emotional thing for women. We can wake up one morning and decide to cut it all off, dye it, wear a wig, get a sew in, or have it braided. It’s no different when it comes to having natural hair or having it chemically straightened with relaxers.

When I first started on my natural hair journey, I was like a sponge. I reached out to fellow naturalista’s and asked questions about their journey, what natural products did they use on their hair, etc. I was so excited and eager! Then I talked to those who were once natural but went back to the creamy crack, and it broke my heart. I couldn’t understand how that could happen because being natural is healthier, it’s liberating, it’s part of our culture. It’s the best thing ever…right? Well, that’s how I felt, and still feel. Fast forward a few years and I’ve come to realize, and respect, that not everyone falls in love with their natural hair. Natural hair is truly a struggle for some women.

For some, natural hair isn’t convenient because of the time it takes to care for and style it. It can also be expensive because of the plethora of products available in stores and on line for you to try, which can easily turn you into a product junkie. Others get disappointed when they can’t achieve the curly hair that they see promoted in advertising. I’ve also heard many times “My hair doesn’t act right natural.” There can be so many reasons why their hair doesn’t act right such as not having a healthy diet, not having a consistent hair care routine, or using products containing harsh chemicals. Maybe they aren’t keeping their hair properly moisturized. Whatever the reason, it’s making some women give up on their natural hair and go back to the creamy crack.

Hair relaxers were coined ‘creamy crack’ for a reason. It’s lure is powerful, and all it takes is one experience to become addicted. It offers convenience and versatility. You can apply it yourself or go to the beauty shop. It’s readily available, and it’s cheap – just like crack cocaine. The “high” that creamy crack offers lasts 3 – 4 weeks, sometimes longer depending on how you feel about having nappy roots (aka new growth). As with most drugs, the side effects of hair relaxers are awful: Scalp burns that often cause hair loss or permanent hair loss, breakage, and exposure to chemicals and toxins that get absorbed through our scalp and into our bodies that can cause a myriad of health issues. Despite the many cons of using hair relaxers, it’s still addictive and you come to depend on it, just like crack cocaine. I have firsthand knowledge since I was a hair relaxer addict for over 24 years.

In the end, I can understand why some do go back to the creamy crack. I have several friends who have big chopped many times, gone back to the creamy crack several times, all for various reasons. At the end of the day, we all have to do what is best for ourselves. But, knowing what I know now about chemical relaxers, and having watched Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, there’s no way I’ll go back to creamy crack. We’ve broken up for good.

 

Glutten For Punishment

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Glutten For Punishment

Seriously. I don’t know why I insist on doing these spur of the moment, last minute things when it comes to my hair. This morning for an example, I decided at about 7 am to attempt the typical wash and go on my hair, not like the quick one I did two weeks ago. So I found a wash and go video on YouTube for a refresher and then tried to do it. I even went under the hooded dryer to dry my hair quicker versus letting it air dry.

Let me tell y’all…when I say my hair was a crunchy hot mess, I mean every word of that!! I’m laughing now as I remember how much of an epic FAIL my rushed, last minute wash and go was! First I co-washed. Then I used my leave in conditioner, a little oil, and gel. Normally that would work for your typical wash and go, right?

Here is the learning lesson: Before I attempted any of this, my hair was not pre-pooed, it was not well moisturized at all. It was very, very DRY. In order for your curls to pop and for a wash and go to work, you must keep your hair well moisturized. I had been quite lazy since my last wash. I semi-straightened my hair with the electric hair brush and have been wearing it that way ever since. I’ve been walking around with dry, stretched hair. Yes, I know better.

So, back to the sink I went to shampoo my hair after my failed wash and go attempt. With my hair soaking wet, I added my leave in, quickly oiled my scalp with my special oil blend, and put in my homemade whipped mango butter. I put my hair in a puff and got ready for work. My takeaway from all of this is I still have some work to do when it comes to getting my hair healthy and keeping it healthy. My laziness has once again come back to bite me in the butt. And we won’t even talk about the uneven hair I’ve noticed at the crown of my hair. Breakage. Again. This time I have a pretty good idea of what caused it. The head scarf I was using to tie my hair up at night. Sheesh…

Here is how I rolled in to work today. And it’s still wet. LOL! If you take nothing else from this, please let me be the lesson for what NOT to do! xoxo

SJ 8-16

 

 

Stretched & Straightened Hair

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This has been one of the most humid summers to date in my neck of the woods. I took down my micro braids in early June and it’s been a challenge finding ways to to style and protect my natural hair. The majority of the time I let my afro flow freely. However…I also found it more difficult to deal with my hair in it’s constant shrunken state. I would plait my hair, tie it up, and it would be stretched, but by the time I made it to work, some serious shrinkage have already taken place.

I’ve done heatless stretching on my hair by doing the banding method or braiding or plaiting my hair and it worked just fine…during the winter months without any humidity. It’s summer now and I wanted something that would take less time and last a little longer in this humid weather. As my family and I were preparing to go out of town a few weeks ago, I decided to straighten my hair with a straightening brush.

Straightening brush

Most straightening brushes look similar to this one pictured above, including mine. I only wanted to loosen my tight curls, not get it bone straight, so I only ran the brush through my hair twice at a 400 heat setting. I figured that after shrinkage took place, it still would be easier to deal with, and I was right. About two weeks later I used the brush again. At night I would plait up my hair in medium sized plaits and tie it up. In the morning I take them down and finger comb and go.

What also helps me in the stretching process is castor oil or Blue Magic hair grease. I have thick, coarse hair, so I need those heavier oils. The only thing is when using oil or grease, you need to be more diligent about washing your hair. Make sure you use a clarifying shampoo to help clear away any and all buildup.

In the photos below you see my hair after having used the brush, but significant shrinkage has also taken place. Despite the shrinkage, my hair has been more manageable. I know constant use of heat is not good for your hair, and I’m not going to use the straightening brush again for a while, but it’s a nice option to have when you want to do something different. Or when you’re simply trying to fight the heat and humidity. And since I hadn’t stretched or straightened my hair in quite some time, it was nice to see my growth progress.

stretched hair

My Version of a Wash N Go

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Full disclosure: This isn’t a how-to post for wash and go’s. I haven’t done a wash and go since I big chopped four years ago. However, last week, at the very last minute, I decided to wash my hair before I went to work. Literally, I laid in bed for like a half hour debating on whether or not to wash it now or later in the evening. The chances were very slim that I’d want to wash it after dinner or before I went to bed, so finally, I decided to get up and get it over with. I hopped in the shower, cleaned my body and then commenced to washing my hair.

I towel dried my hair as best I could, detangled, did the LOC method (Leave in conditioner, oil, and a cream) and put in two flat twists – one on each side of my head. Okay, I’m gonna be honest here –  my flat twists were more like struggle twists, lol! They were not pretty at all, so I wrapped my hair with a head wrap and off to work I went.

My takeaway from this experience is that wash and go’s can be done. I had so many excuses as to why I couldn’t wash my hair in the morning before going to work. “It’s too much work. I won’t have time to style. Who has time for all of that? Wash and go’s won’t work on my 4c hair.” I only thought that way because I was thinking of wash and go’s in the typical sense where you’re using various products, techniques, and lots of time to achieve the perfect coils so you can wear your hair out.  That’s not the only way you can do a wash and go, but it is the most promoted way of doing a wash and go among naturalistas. I forgot that you can do a wash and go but instead of wearing your hair out, put some flat twists or braids in your hair and keep it moving.

There are no hard and fast rules for wash and go’s. You simply have to make your own version of it. Do what works for you.

Here’s a photo of me with my head wrapped wash and go last week:

SJ wash n go headwrap

 

Kinky, Coily Hair Love

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There are more of us with this hair type than not. Also, it goes without saying (at least for me), that kinky, coily hair, or type 4c hair, is beautiful. Once upon time as a young girl and even as an adult, I wanted hair that wasn’t uniquely my own. Having since embraced my natural hair, I don’t want anyone else’s hair but my own. Beautiful kinks and all.

 

The Forgotten Ones

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Curly red hair

The subject I’m about to discuss is a sensitive subject for many naturals, mainly because the natural hair movement started out being for and about black women. It was our movement celebrating our unique hair because it wasn’t being celebrated by society or mainstream media. But as time went on, we began to hear from other women who didn’t quite look like us, but had something in common with us: Curly hair that those in their own culture deemed unruly, unprofessional and ugly. They also have a hard time taming and finding the right products for their curly hair. These are women who are of Irish, Jewish, or other nationalities with naturally curly hair.

The fact that these women felt that they didn’t have a voice or platform to discuss their hair issues, which ultimately led them to the natural hair movement of African American women where we discuss every hair issue under the sun, intrigued me. Who would have thought that white women with curly hair would have hair issues? Who could possibly call their hair ugly? Okay, I can see their hair possibly being hard to manage because of the long length and curls, but still! The younger me would have loved to have their hair! It wasn’t until I started to read different articles about their hair struggles and how far back the hair shaming and hate goes that I developed a better understanding and empathy for these women, or as I call them, the forgotten ones. I was also fortunate enough to have conversations with a workmate who began to relate to me her own personal struggles with being a redheaded, curly haired Irish woman. From dealing with bullying as a child, perverted stereotypes of redheaded women as an adult, and being constantly reminded that her naturally curly hair wasn’t acceptable during her twelve year career as a television news reporter. Aside from being a television reporter, those are all things that I know I, as a black woman can relate to.

Our conversations started because she follows my natural  blog and she would tell me how much she loves that I blog about my natural hair journey and how I’m constantly reaffirming that our natural hair is beautiful. Her hair is thick, long and naturally curly. Like African American hair, any amount of heat or humidity makes her hair big, curly and hard to maintain. When she became a reporter, it was put into her contract that she had to chemically straighten her naturally curly hair. Curly hair was not allowed on television. Imagine having to do this every three months and pay $300 each time – for 12 years! During the summer months it didn’t matter if her hair was chemically straightened or not, the heat and humidity would poof up her hair and it would curl up anyway – and she’d get reprimanded for it.  It wasn’t just her who got talked to, it was all female reporters with naturally curly hair who were constantly chastised and reminded that if their hair wasn’t bone straight, it was unacceptable and a violation of rules. Talk about a blow to your self-esteem!

Then there’s the myth that red hair is tied to witch craft and the devil. So being a redhead was like a curse. In certain parts of Europe, having red hair could get you killed. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one. But nothing much has changed because today, having red curly hair still makes you a walking target for ridicule and shunning. My heart went out to her as she related different stories to me about her hair struggles, and how self conscience it’s made her over the years. Finding a beautician who knew how to care for and maintain her curly mane was a nightmare in itself.

What I find to be particularly disturbing and frankly disgusting, is the lack of knowledge, awareness or education within the news industry when it comes to female reporters of different races, backgrounds and hair types. This lack of awareness exists because the powers that be don’t care. What matters to them is ratings and viewer opinion. The viewers want to see female reporters with bone straight hair, therefore that is what the news outlets provide. For black female reporters, this means wearing weaves, wigs, or having to chemically relax their hair in order to be in front of the camera. No Afros or curly hair. To the viewing public, textured or ethnic hair of any kind is unkempt and unprofessional. I’ll let you take a wild guess as to who mostly make up this viewer demographic. Yup, you guessed it, white viewers. Unfortunately, in 2017 we are still dealing with this kind of close-minded thinking, hair shaming, and discrimination.

I make it a point to tell my workmate that her naturally curly hair is beautiful. I love that it’s red. It makes her unique. I love her freckles. They add character and enhance her beauty. In my eyes she is beautiful. Period. Women and girls who have naturally curly hair, regardless of race, need to hear that their hair is beautiful. No one should grow up hearing that their hair is ugly or be teased and called demeaning names. As women, we should uplift one another every chance we get. So while the natural hair movement started out being about us, African American women, it needs to branch out to the women who are also discriminated against, ridiculed, and looked upon as less than because of how their hair grows out of their scalp. Telling a female that her natural hair is ugly isn’t just about her hair. Those hurtful words get internalized to the point that when she looks at herself in the mirror, she starts to view her entire being as ugly. This is where low self-esteem and self worth come into play, and it can stay with you well into  adulthood. These women and girls will no longer be “the forgotten ones” to me. I welcome and celebrate all natural redheads and/or curly haired females. We all should.

And please, don’t say that these women should start their own movement or why can’t we ever have our own stuff to ourselves. It’s not about that. African American hair is unique. It’s beautiful. Our hair is not appreciated for it’s natural beauty still in mainstream media or in general, but we’re also not the only ones with textured, curly hair or who have hair struggles. I’m glad to see bloggers like Curly Nikki embrace curly haired women of all ethnic backgrounds and provide them with helpful tips and suggestions. That kind of welcoming, helpful spirit is what leads to better understanding and communication among women of all backgrounds. Isn’t that what we need anyway?

I found this great article below that speaks about redhead bullying. Check it out and tell me what you think!

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ama-yawson/red-ginger-hair-rare-and-_b_6071202.html