Tag Archives: African American Hair

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.

 

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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.

 

Here We Go Again…

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eye roll

Lately there’s been this uproar in the natural hair community over Shea Moisture’s new online ad that in the short clip, seemed to only feature white women who claim to have “difficult hair” and have been “hair shamed” for whatever reason. The only woman of color in the ad was a young lady who looks to be of mixed race heritage with long curly hair. You can watch the video here:

http://www.thefader.com/2017/04/24/shea-moisture-video-hair-backlash

Before I go on, if you’re unfamiliar with the brand Shea Moisture, it’s a brand that made natural hair products for African American hair. The CEO of Shea Moisture said the ad was an oversight and that they didn’t mean to alienate black women. Mind you, Shea Moisture was created for black women, was supported by black women, and became successful because of black women. So I understand the uproar expressed on social media regarding the message Shea Moisture sent with this new ad campaign. The execution of the ad was horribly done. In that short clip it didn’t show black women, but in the full clip, it shows black women. What’s that saying a bout first impressions?

Here’s the thing: Companies and brands expand all the time. They try to reach broader audiences because they want money from everybody’s pockets. In Shea Moisture’s case, it’s the way they went about trying to target the other dollars that left a bitter taste in many mouths. Me personally, I haven’t bought Shea Moisture products in quite some time. If I don’t catch it on sale, I don’t buy it, and that’s with all products.  I find that most products on store shelves that are made for African American hair teeter on the expensive side. That in itself is a huge issue for me. Yes, I want to support black businesses, but good grief! Spending $20 and up on an 8 oz jar or smaller of a product is just too much for this sista that’s on a budget! But that’s a story for another day.

Most of you know that I’m big on DIY products. If I can save a buck or two I will do so. Every once in a blue moon I’ll try a new product, but for the most part I stick to my more reasonable products or I’ll I make my own and I rock with it until I perfect a recipe that suits my hair needs. I guess that’s why when I read about the uproar with Shea Moisture, I rolled my eyes because at the end of the day, sometimes you’re better off learning how to make your own products or going with a smaller brand that’s less expensive but still effective. Many accuse Shea Moisture of changing/watering down it’s product, and Carol’s Daughter has been accused of the same. I don’t use their products to be able to give an opinion, but both claim they have not. I can see formula change as a valid worry for naturalista’s, especially when the company has been sold as in Carol’s Daughter case.

I’m not as upset about what Shea Moisture is trying to do as others are, I’m more disappointed in the execution. At the end of the day Shea Moisture is a business, but for black women, we felt we finally had a company that made and sold products just for us and our natural hair needs. We no longer were forced to use shampoo’s and conditioners that weren’t made for our hair. Now with this new direction that Shea Moisture is going in, many loyal black Shea Moisture customers feel betrayed. Black women are the ones who were fiercely loyal and supportive of a brand that dared to bring forth a line exclusively for African American hair, and this is how we’re treated. I get it and I empathize with those feelings. But we must remember, at the end of the day it’s about dollars and cents. Nothing else matters to these companies. Not even customer loyalty.

Moisturizing My Dry 4c Hair

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Taking my braids down this weekend made me start thinking about how I need to be more diligent about moisturizing me and my girls’ hair, especially with winter coming. I don’t buy a lot of products, so it made me start researching different moisturizing products. I also started to think about the oils I use in my daily or weekly routine and if I needed to make some adjustments there as well. Do I need to stop using certain oil(s)? Do I need to break down and buy a good moisturizer? Could I make my own moisturizer? The following is what I came up with. hair-care-regimen

Now granted, not everything here is new to me. It’s just new to my regimen.

Biotin – In addition to being great for hair and nail growth, Biotin or the vitamin B7  is great for skin health, energy, digestive, and nervous systems. I’ve been taking Biotin on and off for the past year and a half. No reason other than me being lazy and really bad about remembering to take them. 😉 I do notice results when I take them consistently.

Homemade organic mango butter with organic coconut oil*, vitamin E oil, and vanilla essential oil –  Mango butter is rich in oleic acid and stearic acid. These fatty acids act as emollients that soften and soothe the skin and hair. It has a high oxidative ability, wound healing, and regenerative activity. It is high in antioxidants and Vitamins A, C and E. Mango butter has similar qualities as shea and cocoa butter but it’s higher fatty acid content makes it a more intensive moisturizer. It  has a lighter feel than shea butter, so if you find shea butter too heavy, give mango butter a try. My family and I use my homemade mango butter concoction on our body and hair and it’s simply lovely.

Jojoba oil – Jojoba oil closely resembles sebum, a waxy substance produced by our skin glands, so it can act as a natural skin conditioner. Jojoba oil controls hair loss by helping the follicles grow new hair. Jojoba oil can easily seep into the follicles and dissolve the sebum buildup, clearing up the blockage and facilitating the growth of new hair. The vitamins and minerals in the oil can nourish the skin and improve the overall health of the scalp. I know jojoba oil is a staple for many naturals, and I’ve used it in the past but not consistently. I plan on changing that after reading about the many benefits this oil has for your hair and skin.

Vegetable Glycerin – Glycerin improves natural hair moisture and elasticity. It also helps prevent hair breakage, stimulate hair growth and improve hair strength. It has been proven that it is a great conditioner for brittle, dry or frizzy hair. There are debates as to whether or not it’s good to use vegetable glycerin during the cold winter months, and I’ll have to look into this more. Winter isn’t here yet, so until then I’ll continue to use it.

Aloe Vera Juice – Promotes hair growth, moisturizes the hair due to it being a humectant, restores the natural pH balance of the hair and scalp, reduce dandruff, naturally conditions the hair, reduce hair shed, promote hair shine, help heal an irritated, dry, itchy scalp. Another great product to use on natural hair.

Distilled Water – I keep a couple jugs handy at all times to use when I spritz me and my girls’ hair. It’s simply better to use than hard tap water that is full of minerals and other chemicals.

*I put an asterisk behind coconut oil because something hit me about coconut oil: I think it’s been making me and my girl’s hair dry and brittle. After reading article after article of the wonderful benefits of coconut oil, I think our hair doesn’t quite care for it. I’ve used it in every homemade shea butter or mango butter mixture I’ve made, and I’ve also used coconut oil by itself on our hair. After reading other naturalista’s experiences with coconut oil, which are similar to mine, I’m going to stop using it on our hair to see how our hair does without it. I’ll keep you posted.

Here is a quick and easy hair moisturizer you can make and use daily:

In a clean spray bottle add:

  1. Half cup of distilled water
  2. Two tablespoons of aloe vera juice
  3. Two tablespoons of vegetable glycerin
  4. Two tablespoons of jojoba oil

Shake the bottle well and spritz hair with it. Style as normal. Feel free to adjust the amounts as you see fit, based on how your hair reacts. Always test new products on your skin first to check for any allergic reaction.

 

Gabrielle Union Twists Update

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Tamar

Hey, lovelies! So a few weeks back I posted a picture of Gabrielle Union with her gorgeous, free flowing twists with the hopes of getting them myself. Well, that didn’t happen. I thought my braider could re-create the look with the same or similar hair used for Gabby’s twists, but that wasn’t the case. I ended up getting my usual Senegalese twists. Yes, I’m totally bummed about that. However, a few lessons (and reminders) were learned from this experience:

  1. Not every hair braider can do every style you want. Have a backup plan in place, and by backup plan I mean other hair braiders and stylists. It’s ok to shop around and keep an eye out for other talented braiders. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a very loyal customer to my beautician when I was getting relaxers, and I’ve been very loyal to my hair braiders over the years. When I find a good one, I stick with them and follow them wherever they may go…unless they go overseas which is what happened to one of my very talented hair braiders. That’s when the following stops, lol. But seriously, keep this in mind. There are other options out there.
  2. Braids are not cheap, and every woman who gets them can attest to that. That being said, we pay too much money to not be satisfied with the end product. That’s why it is so important that you find a braider that listens, not one who simply wants your money and gives you what THEY want you to have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. If they can’t recreate a style, are there any alternatives? Perhaps using a different type of hair or technique? If the shop provides the hair and they don’t carry the hair needed to do a certain style, offer to bring your own.
  3. There is no reason for your hair to be braided so tight until your scalp is in pain for days or weeks afterward. If your hair is constantly being braided tight, even after you tell your braider that it’s too tight, it’s time to look for a different hair braider. Heavy hands and tight braids will leave you bald around the edges and with bald spots throughout your scalp, and that is totally counterproductive (and unacceptable) to having braids in the first place. Braids are used as a protective style to us naturals to preserve what we have and to protect it from the elements and over manipulation. Keep that in mind when getting your hair braided. DO NOT allow a braider to damage your hair and scalp by braiding your hair too tight.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask other women who did their braids. Trust me, that’s how I’ve found my hair braiders over the years. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Just the other day at the grocery store, I complimented the cashier on her eyebrows. They were beautifully shaped and her make-up was beautifully done. It looked very natural and it wasn’t caked on. What I loved the most was she was a dark skinned young lady and she used all the right shades of makeup to compliment her beautiful skin tone. Anyway, she thanked me, and before I left with my groceries she handed me her business card. It turns out she’s an African hair braider and cosmetologist! She also has a YouTube channel that I will be checking out soon. But do you get what I’m saying? I now have another option to look into for my braiding and styling needs.

Too often because something is the “norm” we accept it. That should never be the case when it comes to our health, and it should never be the case when it comes to the health of our scalp and hair. Just because braids are typically done tightly doesn’t mean they should be. It also doesn’t mean that we should accept it. Remember, there are other options out there so don’t be afraid to explore them.

Cute Hair Accessories for Natural Hair

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Not only are the styles endless for those of us with naturally kinky or curly hair, the hair accessories are endless as well. Some women feel that certain hair accessories are for little girls only. I beg to differ. These days the market is overflowing with so many different hair accessories to choose from that the young and old alike can rock the same thing. Headbands, bedazzled barrettes, ponytail holders, or vibrant African-inspired headwraps.

Having two girls, aged 14 and 12, helps me to stay on top of trends. (Along with my obsession with Pinterest!) My 14-year-old daughter is very picky, but she also has great taste. She’s very fashionable, so it should be no surprise that one of her favorite stores to shop is Forever21. She went from obsessing with flower headbands in various sizes and colors to now obsessing over the more bedazzled headbands.  The cool part is, she wears both styles very well with her natural hair and braids. Her younger sister simply follows in her footsteps so she can look cute too. 😉

Here are a few hair accessories that I think are cute for naturalista’s young and old:

Don’t be afraid to play with hair accessories. Trust and believe, they come in handy! Like when your twist out isn’t the bomb or the new style you tried didn’t quite work out the way you had hoped, or you’re simply having a bad hair day. Or, how many of us simply didn’t feel like being bothered with our hair, and our easiest go-to accessory is a head wrap or a headband? Get creative and make your own hair accessories. Old (but clean) stockings make great headbands! Go to the fabric store and find some funky fabric and make your own headwraps. If you need help with getting those creative juices flowing, go to Pinterest or YouTube to get some hair-spiration!