Tag Archives: Natural hair

My Natural Hair Needs Braids To Grow

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Arnold shoulder shrug

As a little girl, through my tween years, my mother and older sisters kept my hair braided in various styles. When I say braided, I mean regular braids without the addition of synthetic hair. My hair always flourished this way. When it was time for my hair to be washed, the braids would come down, my mother would wash and deep condition my hair, give me a hot oil treatment complete with a scalp massage, and my hair would get braided up again.

Fast forward to today, and one of the most common ways to braid hair is with the addition of synthetic or human hair. This practice is by no means new. It has been done for centuries by African women all over the African continent. It allows for a myriad of styling and color options, and it adds to the longevity of the style. I know there are those who swear by the rule that you can grow your hair without the use of protective styles (mainly protective styles that require the use of synthetic or human hair via braids or wigs.)  by simply taking better care of your hair and following strict hair care routines. To that, I say no two heads of hair are alike.

Since being natural for five years now, I can honestly say that I have experienced the most growth when my hair was in braids. When my hair is simply left alone in a protective style, it thrives. I keep it moisturized, I keep my scalp and braids oiled with castor oil, and I simply let it be. I have learned how to minimize the shedding and breakage, and I don’t tug and pull on my braids because of trying to put them in cute buns or other styles.

I have decided that my girls and I will wear braids more this year. As long as our braids are not tight and we practice edge-saving techniques and healthy maintenance, we’ll all be fine, and our natural hair will love us for it.

I would love to hear from you! Does your hair fair better with or without braids? Hit the comment section and let me know!

Xoxo

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Natural Hair In Review – 2017

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that's a wrap

Every year I learn something new. New techniques, new natural things to use on my hair such as herbs and oils. While I may not have tried them all, they’ve definitely been added to my “to-do” or “wish” lists.

Lessons Regarding My Hair

The first important thing I’ve learned is to let go of the bad ends. I neglected to clip my ends for quite some time, and I paid for it. My afros,while big, looked scraggly. When I finally got rid of those bad ends, my afro looked healthy. Let go of the dead weight people. Don’t hang on to bad ends for the sake of length. It will always hurt you more in the end with the amount of hair that you end up having to cut.

The second important thing I learned about my hair is that it grows better when it’s braided or in some type of protective style. For a good portion of 2017, I wore my hair in its natural state. I let my fro fly free. While I enjoyed rockin’ my big hair, it became a chore at times. I felt pressured to find and try new styles that weren’t always good for my hair.

For one, the temptation to twist my hair into two strand twists or plaits every night to have fresh curls in the morning was something I had to fight against. Also, the temptation to semi-straighten/stretch my hair more than I should (in the attempt to try new styles) was also there.  Both things can cause breakage when done in excess, and after finally clipping my bad ends, more breakage is the last thing I want. I also noticed that my hair growth seemed slower when not in a protective style. Having observed all of these things about my hair, it’s time to listen to what it needs. I will be more diligent about my protective styles to promote healthy hair growth.

Lessons From The Natural Hair Community 

We have a long way to go with education, acceptance, confidence, support towards one another, and respect. While I’m happy to see many women making the change from chemical relaxers to natural hair, many of them need to be educated on African American hair so they can better understand their own hair. They need to learn our history about hair braiding, head wraps, designs, and why certain negative terms and views that date back to slavery and beyond still have a vice grip on many of us today that prevent us from seeing the true beauty of our hair. Educating yourself is one of the most important steps in your natural hair journey.

It makes me happy to see that there are so many natural hair events all over the states that celebrate all types of African American hair, and I hope to attend a few of them that are close to my neck of the woods. I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding those events, and we need more like them.

I’m going to continue to do my part by encouraging hair-positive messages in the natural hair community through my blog. My focus will be on the positive stories in the natural hair community and less on the negative ones. And as usual, I will continue to strive to take better care of my natural hair.

Thank you all for supporting my blog, and here’s to healthier hair in 2018!

Celebrate

Sonya

 

 

How to Be Hair-Positive In The Natural Hair Community

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Positive

The emergence of the natural Afro in the late sixties and early seventies was not only meant to be a political statement because of the injustices of the times but to instill a sense of pride in African American’s natural hair. A returning to one’s natural roots if you will. Fast forward to the mid-2000’s and the natural hair movement is on the scene once again calling for natural hair pride. Today, many African American women have answered that call, denouncing chemical relaxers and fully embracing their natural hair while encouraging others to do the same. Never before have there been such an abundance of natural hair products available to us on store shelves or online. We’re also seeing natural hair in the mainstream (commercials, television, movies, etc.) now more than ever. These are all positive steps in the right direction, but there is still a lot of negativity within and outside of the natural hair community. How can we stop the negativity and be hair-positive?

It Starts With You.

Negative views of African American hair goes back to slavery. Terms like nappy, kinky, and wooly were used in derogatory and demeaning manners to describe our hair. It was also used to divide the slaves based on hair texture (and skin color). The mulatto slaves (or mixed race) were said to have “good hair, ” but the much darker African slaves had the bad or “nappy” hair. This caused division and resentment among the slaves and the negative distinction became ingrained in slaves and passed down from one generation to the next, and it’s still happening today. This thinking must stop. Here are a few things we can do to be hair-positive when it comes to natural hair:

  1. Change your thinking. Before we can move forward, changing our way of thinking is crucial. We must put out of our minds all the negative connotations and speech associated with natural hair that we’ve been taught by our parents, people in our community, television, or society as a whole. Kinky, coily or “nappy” hair is not bad hair. It’s not something we should be ashamed of or dread having. Our hair is not uncombable, untameable, or ugly in its natural state. Our hair does not need to be tamed, which is code for chemically relaxing or straightening it for it to look presentable. Straight hair is not the definition of beauty.
  2. Educate yourself. It is important to educate yourself so you can better understand African American hair and it’s many textures. With that knowledge, you’ll understand why our hair has different curl patterns, textures, why it requires moisture and certain oils, and why our hair can be styled in so many different and artistic ways – all of which makes our hair truly unique and beautiful. Your appreciation for our hair will deepen, and hopefully, it will motivate you to spread hair-positivity.
  3. Change your speech. Many times we knowingly or unknowingly say negative things about our hair to our friends and family, and even our children because that’s what we’re used to hearing from our family, media, etc. Starting with ourselves, we must stop speaking about natural hair in negative ways. How many times have you looked at yourself in the mirror and said: “Ugh, my hair is so nappy!” I’ve done it a million times myself, especially when I was getting chemical relaxers and had new growth! With your children, start at an early age speaking positively about their hair. Tell them their hair, and its texture is beautiful and unique. When they are old enough to understand, explain to them why.
  4. Make it a point to compliment others. Being natural is not always easy. Styling and maintenance can take a lot of time, depending on the length and thickness of your hair. However, we all know how good it makes us feel when someone compliments us on our hair. Hair that we put a lot of work into maintaining and caring for. When you see a woman rocking her natural hair, compliment her. Not only will it make her day, but you will feel good giving out that genuine, positive energy. And who knows, maybe that same person you compliment will compliment another natural too. Keep putting out positive energy!

The conversation needs to change in the natural hair community from negative to hair-positive. Let’s learn to love and understand our hair. Be more understanding toward those who may use different protective styles or care methods than you. It’s time we listen to one another instead of sitting in instant judgment. We can do this by making a concerted effort to have hair-positive conversations.

Hugs and Love.

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.

 

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

 

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. 😦

sonya-faux-locs

I’m too old for…

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Overly sensitive people in the natural hair community. I know we all have our struggles as naturalista’s, and we’re constantly battling negative stereotypes when it comes to our natural hair. But when we have discussions amongst ourselves, we should be able to speak freely and not be censored by the natural hair police or admins of a group who try to tell you what you can and cannot say, especially when it’s not demeaning or offensive. We all have different thoughts and opinions, and having natural hair is not going to change that. Having natural hair does not mean that we’re exempt from all criticism. That’s not being realistic at all.

I’m starting to rethink being part of natural hair groups on Facebook because I’m finding that grown women don’t know how to have grown up conversations about HAIR. It’s sickening and it’s a shame.  I left a group tonight because the admins tried to chastise and tell others how they should and should not feel and what they can and cannot say when everyone was simply stating their opinion on a hairstyle. Yes, a hairstyle people. It was so ridiculous and so petty and uncalled for. And that’s when I said “You know what? I’m too old for this.”

girl-bye

We cannot control what people think, what they say, or how they feel. All we can do is focus on ourselves and keep ourselves uplifted. Tune out the negativity and keep showing the strength and beauty of our natural hair as much as possible. Be supportive of one another and stop trying to make people think and feel the way you do. Those who are natural still have misinformed, backwards, or flat out ignorant thoughts on natural hair, which means not everyone is on the same path or level in their journey as you may be. People can only learn through education, not censorship.