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Raising Natural Haired Girls

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the-three-ts

My babies when they were babies: Talya, Taylor and Tristan

It was just a few years ago that I was still using chemical relaxers (aka Creamy Crack) on my hair, but my two daughters were natural. Back then I didn’t know a lot about the different natural oils and butters that are good for the hair. I just knew what my mom used on me and my sisters and the routine she had: Washing our hair once every two weeks, using Olive oil, eggs or mayo as deep conditioners, VO5 hot oil treatments, and Blue Magic hair grease. I, in turn, washed and conditioned my two girls’ hair on a regular basis and used Blue Magic on their scalps. That’s what I knew.

Even though I wasn’t natural, I wanted my girls to love their natural hair because I felt their natural hair was beautiful. However, I wasn’t as informed as I could have been to take better care of their hair. It wasn’t until I decided to become natural did I learn how to take better care of their hair as well as my own. No doubt, there are many others out there who are raising natural haired daughters but may need a little help. Below is some advice I would like to share.

Educate yourself

The best thing you can do for you and your daughter(s) is to educate yourself on natural hair. Don’t rely on what you remember your mom and grandma doing because not everything they did was good for our hair. Get on the internet and research how to care for natural African American hair. Educate yourself on the different oils that are great for our hair and how to use them and mix them. Educate yourself about the different homemade hair masks and deep conditioners you can make yourself. If you feel you don’t have the time or patience to make your own concoctions and prefer to buy products from the store, learn about the good ingredients that you should look for in those products as well as the bad ingredients you should stay away from. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask other naturals questions. Whether if it’s friends, family, a natural hair beautician, or a complete stranger. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Commit to the time it takes to care for natural hair

Caring for natural hair takes time and patience. You cannot rush through caring for natural hair. If you do, the result is going to be major damage and hair loss. You must prepare yourself for the time it will require to wash, deep condition, detangle, and style natural hair. Ask others with natural hair what their haircare routine is like, visit blogs and vloggers on YouTube to get an idea of what their routines are like. One thing I found to be very helpful (and a time saver) was to look for vloggers who have a similar hair type as your daughters on YouTube (types 4a, 4b, 4c, etc). See what products they use or make themselves, the steps they go through, and incorporate what you want to use from them into developing a routine of your own based on your daughter’s hair care needs. As time goes on, you may find the need to change or tweak your routine. The most important thing in all of this is finding a routine and sticking to it.

Help your daughter(s) to love their natural hair

To me, this is the most important step. Teach your daughters that their natural hair is beautiful. It is unique, and their hair can do many things that others cannot. Nappy IS NOT a bad word. Neither is kinky. When I would be out and about with my daughters, I made it a point to show them other natural haired women and girls so they’d see that there were others out there with hair like them. I also explained to them that there are different natural hair types, shapes, and lengths, and they are all beautiful. I also taught them that not everyone is meant to have straight or curly hair that blows in the wind. However, Afros and puffs are beautiful, and it’s fun to create and discover new accessories and styles to wear their natural hair in.

Don’t straighten their hair on a regular basis

I’ve run into mothers of natural haired daughters who send their daughters to the beautician to have their hair straightened bone straight on a regular basis, but when they try to style their hair in a twist out or some other natural hair style, their ends  are still straight and look scraggly. Or some of their hair won’t go back to its naturally curly state because it’s been straightened so much. Heat damage is a real issue that often results in hair breakage and split/weakened ends. Heat should be used sparingly on natural hair.

Don’t overuse protective styles

Yes, we can overuse protective styles. How? By taking down a protective style and then right away putting in another one. Over-manipulation of the hair or tight braids isn’t good for anyone – young or old. Give your daughter’s hair and scalp time to rest and breathe. Let them wear their afro out with a cute headband, or afro puffs, or a twist out for a few weeks. And when you do use a protective style on your daughter’s hair, make sure that you are still moisturizing her hair on a regular basis.

These are just suggestions based on my personal experience. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments!

xoxo

 

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Did Protective Styling Cause More Breakage?

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Ok guys, I’m clearly thinking out loud as I try to figure out this whole bald spot/breakage thing. As I examined the area where the bald spot is, it looks as though there is more breakage happening around that area although it’s very small. (Any breakage is bad breakage in my opinion!) I’m trying my best not to go into panic mode, but I want this breakage to STOP! Losing hair at the front of your head is one of the worst areas to have this happen in my opinion. I’m just glad that there is plenty of hair there to camouflage the affected area right now. Anyhoo, I’m still reading and looking things up on the internet regarding all the possible reasons and causes of breakage and hair loss. Now granted, I know all of the basic causes, but I just want to make sure I’m not overlooking something. Then the light bulb went off in my head. Yes, I had another EUREKA moment. 😉

Just a few weeks ago I took out my kinky twist braids. I had them in for almost 3 months, and I blogged about how upset I was that my new growth caused me to take them out sooner. Remember how I talk about I’m “team save the edges” and how I didn’t put my braids into cute buns on top of my head or any other up-dos that would put stress on my edges? Well while I didn’t do any of those things, I did have the (bad) habit of flipping the braids in the front to the back to keep them out of my face. My husband even told me I needed to stop doing that because it was  pulling on my roots. The one time I should have listened to him…

You know where I’m going with this, right? Where is this new breakage that I’ve found? In the front, in those same areas where I was flipping back my braids. The stress I was putting on my fragile roots for almost three months of constantly flipping my hair back was clearly too much. Now that the braids are out and my hair has had a chance to breathe, I’m seeing the effects of my rough treatment of my hair. AND, I might add, my braids were more than likely done too tight even though I’m not tender headed. It’s sad when you expect your braids to hurt because that’s how most hair braiders braid hair – tightly. They catch every edge and every nap so tightly that if the wind blows on your scalp, you’re in tears afterwards. Braids should never hurt. NEVER. Now I’m not saying that I’ll never get braids again, because I will. I think from now on I’ll lean more towards crochet braids, and even with those you have to be careful of how tightly your cornrows are braided and the type of hair you use for your braids as certain synthetic hair can cause irritation and breakage to your hair.

In the end, I think I figured out where I went wrong you guys. I’m dealing with two issues here:

  1. The unexplained scalp pain that comes and goes and the small bald spot that occurred in that area BEFORE I got my braids
  2. Breakage in the area where I continuously flipped my braids to the back

Reading other blogs and surfing through YouTube and other places on the internet on this subject has helped me to figure out a solid game plan of how to attack these issues. I’m going to stick to a regular hair care routine that consists of deep conditioning and hot oil treatments, and I’m going to start back taking my biotin supplements. I’m also going to continue to be gentle with my hair and not manipulate it (comb, touch, pull, etc.) too much. I know in time I will see the results that I’m looking for, which is healthier hair, but being patient is key. Good things come to those who wait. 🙂

Dear Naturalistas…

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Stop touching your hair

This is a much needed reminder to myself and anyone else out there who likes to finger fluff their natural, kinky hair throughout the day. STOP IT!!!!!!!! When you sit back and wonder why you have breakage, shedding, etc. think back to all the times you’ve had your fingers in your hair BESIDES the time you were styling it. This is a hard one for me, but I’m truly making a conscious effort to stop. 🙂

That is all.

Painful Scalp & Hair Loss

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scalp-massage

It wasn’t until I decided to go natural two and half years ago that I experienced pain in my scalp towards the front of my head. I immediately attributed it to my scalp going through the healing process of not using chemicals on it anymore. Seems logical, right? Well, the pain would come and go, and sometimes it would be so painful that it would keep me up at night. From time to time I would experience itching there, but for the most part it would even be painful to the touch. Sometimes it would last for a few hours or a few minutes while other times it would last for days.

Over time I became used to it, even though in the back of my mind I kept wondering what was causing it. Fast forward to today and I now have a small bald spot in that same area of my scalp where the pain would occur. One day recently I was putzing around on the internet and I began to look up painful scalp, and what I found was A M A Z I N G! Not only is this something that is very common (unfortunately), but it’s something that men and women alike experience regardless of race. The vast majority experienced hair loss with the pain while some did not experience hair loss, just the intense scalp pain. There are various terms to explain the condition:

  • Trichodynia is a condition where the patient experiences a painful sensation on their scalp. The pain sometimes is described as burning. Trichodynia often is associated with hair loss, but some studies show it has no connection to hair loss. Often there is an underlying psycho-somatic cause, such as stress, depression or anxiety.
  • Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. There are several patterns of natural and disease related hair loss. Hair loss may also be caused by several drugs and medications.

    Types of Hair Loss and Symptoms

    • The commonest type of hair loss is male-pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is typically caused by the effects of hormones. This is also termed androgenic or androgenetic alopecia as the cause lies in androgens of male sex hormones. There is a pattern of receding hairline along with thinning of hair over the crown.
    • Female pattern baldness – there is thinning of hair over the top of the head.
    • Alopecia areata – this is also termed patchy baldness as there are patches of baldness that come and go. This may commonly affect teenagers and young adults but may affect a person of any age. Alopecia areata is commonly caused due to a problem in the immune system. The condition may sometimes run in families.
    • Scarring alopecia – this is mainly caused after a scar over the skin. This type of alopecia is called cicatricial alopecia. The hair follicles that hold the roots of the hair may be completely destroyed. This means that the hair would not grow back at the areas affected. Some diseases and disorders also cause scarring alopecia. These include lichen planus, injury, discoid lupus etc.
    • Anagen effluvium is a more widespread hair loss that may affect the whole body apart from the scalp. This is caused most commonly due to cancer chemotherapy.
    • Telogen effluvium – leads to thinning of hair all over the body rather than baldness in patches. This may be the result of stress of some medications.

Having read all of this and how common it is, it made me feel a lot better. For one, I know I’m not alone, and for two, I now know what to look for in myself to figure out the causes. One of the biggest causes for hair loss besides heredity is STRESS. Thinking back when I first noticed the pain in my scalp, I can’t remember being stressed, but I also have a tendency to internalize my feelings too. Because the pain would come and go so randomly, I began to ignore it over time. I have a high pain tolerance as it is and I think I became used to it.

In addition to seeking medical attention by visiting a dermatologist, there are natural hair treatments for painful scalp and hair loss such as gentle scalp massages, being gentle with your hair and not pulling it or styling it too tightly, being mindful of the products you use such as your shampoos and the ingredients used in them. Pumpkin seed oil is a good natural oil that is known to help with growing hair and healing the skin, Finger detangling instead of using a comb will cause less friction damage to your hair. Protective styling as much as possible and keeping your hands out of your hair will help too.

Another key thing I need to do is keep my dandruff under control. I’ve always had a problem with dandruff since I was little, and mom used Sulfur 8 shampoo and scalp conditioner. I think I will go back to that as well as use rosemary and tea tree natural oils, and stick to a natural hair care routine. The information is out there people and research is KEY! Now that I know what I’m working with I’m going to keep a careful eye on my condition. If it worsens (the bald spot gets bigger or other symptoms develop) my next step will definitely be a trip to the dermatologist. Most importantly, you’re not alone!

Have you experienced painful scalp and or hair loss? What did you do for it? Please leave a comment below!

Revisiting Being Natural In The Corporate World

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Law Firm

Some time ago, I discussed being natural in the corporate world. When I decided to go natural two years ago, it was an easy thing to do because I worked for a liberal employer. It was an advertising agency that encouraged individualism and showing your personality, so my transition to natural was accepted. I have since quit my job at the ad agency and accepted a position at a law firm. Super corporate, right? But we also live in different times, times where I’d like to think that companies are more aware and a bit more accepting of different cultures and how they wear their natural hair. As long as it is neat, clean, and presentable there shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. There are still a lot of black women in the corporate world who are unfairly treated, judged, and ridiculed for having natural hair.

Seeing that I work for a law firm and I’m their receptionist, I know I have to tread lightly and keep my hair tame for the most part. Lately I’ve been rocking bantu twist outs with a head band. Then my husband encouraged me to forego the headband (he hates when I wear them) and just rock my curly fro. I looked at him and then at myself in the mirror and I said “You know what? You’re right! There’s nothing wrong with my curly fro!” I received compliments on my hair while one boss stated “Oh you’re wearing your hair all big today, huh?” Now you know I could have been all kinds of offended, and honestly I kind of was at first. But there are people out there who simply don’t know. They don’t know a thing about African American hair, kinky coily hair, or the many ways that we can style our hair. So I let her comment pass and just said “Yeah, my husband told me not to wear the headband today and just rock the curly fro, so that’s what I did.” Then moments of awkwardness ensued.

I’ve decided to play things by ear and wait and see if anything will be said to me about my hair. Lord knows I hope nothing is said about my hair because….well we’ll cross that bridge if it ever comes up. The previous receptionist that I’m replacing wore wigs and quick weaves, so they are used to seeing someone at the front desk with straight hair. I think it’s time they expand their minds with me and my natural hair which will always be neatly styled. I won’t push the envelope with crazy styles, but I do plan on getting some kinky twists (braids) and I will continue to rock my afro. Nothing makes me feel more powerful and confident than rocking my afro, and rocking it BIG! Again, it will be tame at work. 😉

You Know….Cuz Natural Hair is in Style Now…..

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Let's talk tresses

You guys remember how I said that I have no problem stopping a complete stranger to tell them how gorgeous their natural hair is right? I do it all the time, and sometimes it leads to a 10-15 minute conversation about hair, products, and regimens. A few weeks ago my husband and I were out and about and decided to grab some subs. Two cars away from us a woman was also heading inside of the restaurant and she had gorgeous curly locks. Her hair was so full and had body, and it was colored the prettiest caramel color too. I knew right then and there that once we got inside and ordered our food that I was going to A) tell her her hair is gorgeous, and B) talk hair with her.

She was very nice and very sweet and our conversation started out really nice. She had been natural for seven years but she was still flat ironing her hair almost every day until the damage it caused made her stop. When she stopped straightening her hair was when she discovered and loved her natural curl pattern. She’s a curly girl through and through and never knew it! I’m sitting there excited for her and eagerly hoping that she’d drop more eye opening gems on me. We began talking about products and she said that there’s nothing on the market that works well for her hair so she started making her own concoctions like you know who. Y’all know my eyes lit up like the high beam lights on a car right?

So here we are totally engaged in this natural hair conversation while my poor husband was relegated to putzing with his phone because I had completely ignored him to talk to this stranger about hair, and then I hear this:

“Well you know most men don’t like natural hair, so then I go back to straightening my hair with the flat iron. But now that natural hair seems to be in style again I’ll be rocking this while it’s in style. Pretty soon the wigs, weaves and braids will be making a comeback too.”

Please insert the sound effects of car tires screeching to a halt. My face and my heart just fell. My excitement evaporated immediately. I looked at my husband like “Did you just hear this? Did you hear the words that just came out of her mouth?” (In my Chris Tucker voice) But of course he wasn’t paying attention to our conversation but I needed someone to confirm that I heard right.

Actually, this is how my face looked. True story.

Oh my

There was so much wrong with her statement that I didn’t know where to begin. To be fair this was her opinion no matter how much I disagreed with it. Instead I simply said “Well, I don’t think natural hair is in style. I think more and more women are realizing that natural is the best and healthiest for their hair.” She simply looked at me wide eyed and nodded in agreement. Then I quickly added “I don’t think braids will ever go out of style. Neither will wigs or weaves. Those are protective styles that many of us use to protect our hair.” Again I got the blank stare.

Look, I know not everyone is trying to make a statement with their natural hair. However, I do feel the return to natural hair is a bit of a movement, but not a political one. I think it’s just women being more informed and educated on how harmful the chemicals are that make up relaxers are to their bodies. Then they make the informed decision to let their hair grow out of their scalps the way it was meant to because it’s healthier. This woman that I was speaking with was clearly looking at natural hair as a fad to be followed, to be hip with, but also as a hindrance to her love life because some of the men she dated didn’t like her natural hair. She’s trying to please too many people, and that made me sad.

My parting words to her was “Your hair is gorgeous the way it is, and if some man doesn’t like it then too bad. There are plenty more out there who will appreciate you and your hair for it’s natural beauty.” She thanked me and then her order was called and she left.

Royal by herself

This experience opens the door to several conversations:

1) What makes people think or assume that the natural hair movement is a fad, as if it’ll go away or die down in another year or two?

2) Are you willing to go back to the creamy crack or use a flat iron every day if your mate doesn’t like your natural hair?

This experience also confirmed my long held belief that everyone’s natural hair journey is different. Regardless of the why’s and how’s I’m just happy that women have kicked the creamy crack to the curb. This naturalista that I met may be torn between pleasing the guy she’s dating (or finding a guy who likes her natural hair to date) and staying en vogue with the latest hair styles, but what sticks out to me is that she’s been natural for seven years. That’s awesome to me, and I hope she stays natural.

Hey Y’all!!!

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Happy Anniversary

First off: Happy TWO YEAR NATURAL ANNIVERSARY TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been M.I.A. for a very long time, and all I can say is that LIFE happened! Everything is good though. My hair is growing and its fabulous. I had box braids for a while and now I’m back to rocking my afro and I’m loving it! My girls are rocking their afro and puffs and other cute styles and we’re just some happy naturalistas!

I think the last time I posted it was about making a hair and body moisturizer with mango butter, organic coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin E, and vanilla essential oil. Did I tell you that stuff is the BOMB on the hair?? It gives you softness and sheen like no other and I’m going to be making more soon.

As far as other products go, I haven’t experimented with anything else. I’ve kept it down to using Wen apricot moisturizing shampoo and conditioner in one, and either my homemade shea butter or mango butter moisturizer. We spritz our hair with water and olive oil every day and that’s it. I plait my hair up at night and tie it up and rock a curly afro from that. I pineapple every once in a blue moon but that’s my routine. Hair washing is once a week or every two weeks, depending on how heavy I used products, and the same goes for my girls. The less manipulation the better and that is what has contributed to our hair growth.

I’ve tossed around the idea of straightening my hair on my two-year anniversary and I’ve decided not to. I’m in no rush to have my hair straightened because I love the fullness of my afro. I love how big it is. I LOVE BIG HAIR! LOL!

Every so often I see posts on how to get your hair curly or people will give me suggestions on what products to use to achieve a curly look. Let me give this PSA, and I hope people hear me loud and clear: I am very happy with my afro. I am very happy with my kinks and coils and the fact that my hair grows up and out and doesn’t necessarily curl in such a way that others will drool over and deem pretty. I am fine  with that, I accept what my hair can and cannot do. I’m sure if I worked diligently enough my hair would indeed curl and have fabulous definition, but that’s not what I want. It’s not what I aspire to have. From the day I big chopped two years ago I accepted my hair, and I love everything about it. So to you naturally curly ladies, I salute you. You have beautiful hair, but guess what? So do I. Let’s keep celebrating each other and accepting each other.

I’ve been away so long that I have so much more to share with you! Stay tuned my lovelies!