Archive for January, 2010

January 26, 2010

Shop Talk: Adore Your Natural Hair

Sometimes, this obsessive blog thing tends to pay off when you stumble upon something as poetic and downright beautiful as this piece written by Tami, of ‘What Tami Said’ today.

Right now, the back left side of my hair is strangely puffy, fuller than the rest of my head. The curls there are stretched out and winding this way and that. You may surprised to hear me say that I am NOT having a bad hair day. I am; however, in the throes of hand-in-nap disease.

From my own experience, and the stories of other women, I’ve learned that a curious thing often happens when a black woman “goes natural.” First, she is curious, but a little fearful of what lies under all those years perming or weaving or wigging. The decision to stop relaxing can be far from…relaxing. How could it be when society reinforces the idea that if curly hair is a problem, kinky hair is an abomination? It is not beautiful or professional or presentable. Fashion models don’t rock TWAs. The girl nextdoor never has dreads. CEOs don’t sport twists or BAAs. That’s what we’re told, anyway. For years, she has headed to the salon at the first sign of a wave at her roots. Girl, I need a touch up! This shit is NAPPY! Now, she is expected to believe that the same thing she has sought to hide for decades is a good thing.

So, she watches her new growth and hopes that her nappy is not too nappy. There is even a hair-typing scale to obsess over. Please, please let me be more 3A than 4C. Perhaps she spends no small amount of time looking for lotions and potions that will create curls where there are only kinks and zigzags or to give the illusion of wet, shiny tendrils. This behavior–the symptom of a mind still fettered to misguided notions about race and beauty–hopefully does not last for long.

Freedom eventually does come. She learns to stop wishing her hair was other than it is. She learns that naps–whether loose and curly or tight and kinky–can be beautiful. She experiments and discovers that her thick 4a hair makes gorgeous, plump twists; or that her 4c tresses spring into a kick-ass afro; or that her 3a curls look elegant in an up-do. She learns to “do you” as they say. And it clicks that a beauty scale that preferences appearance based on how closely it conforms to that of the majority culture is as useless as it is biased.

And then she falls in love. I did.

Folks who think only straight and silky hair is worth a loving touch are missing something delightful. Running your hand over textured hair (With the owner’s permission!) is addictive. I start at the back. First, my fingers usually find the smooth, neat curls at the nape of my neck. I pull them and they spring back into place. I wrap the strands around my fingers absentmindedly. My hands then crawl further up my head to the crown, where the texture is tighter and a little more coarse. I examine the differences in texture, touching the bumps and waves–smooth here, crinkly there. Before long I am separating my curls, pulling them apart where they have clumped together. And when that is done, when my loose hair is no longer a series of curls but a mass of brown cotton candy, I start wrapping the strands together into twists. Then I pull the twists out again. The result–usually a section of my hair is fluffier and puffier and less uniform than the rest, due to my stretching and stroking. It is relaxing and sensuous. Last night, while catching up on a season one disc of the Fox show Fringe, I discovered I had plaited my whole head.

I can’t help it. Such is “young love.” I adore the feel of my hair. I yearn to touch it. It is hard not to fondle it. And that is so much better than hating it.

*more beauty found here

January 25, 2010

Apropos: VH1Soul

Several years ago I was in need of help.  I needed a place to hide until the wears of being unemployed floated away & conversation with friends, neighbors were no longer strained & overly consumed by patterns of weather.  It was a few years after college graduation, I’d recently moved in with my loving grandmother to save on rent in NYC, & was barely getting by to pay my car note at the time. Woe was me, Blah!

My days were literally spent figuring out what to eat for breakfast, sending out resumes mid-noon, lunching on chicken kabobs and fries from the local deli, checking e-mails for replies, then dining on grandmother’s rationing of rice & beans.

You know what…it was all good. Jobless, but far from hopeless it was easy to keep abreast of my own sanity because I had music, I had a channel that was broadcasting in the only luxury I could afford at the time, VH1Soul. That’s right, even in the midst of a jobless moment, I had cable where the only channels ever perused were The Food Network,  Bravo & VH1Soul.

VH1Soul gave me my first intro to the talented, beautiful voice that you see below. The moment I was lost:

“….don’t you let those other boys fool you, gotta love that afro hair-do.”

Lost. I was back in a zone of complete love for music, Good Music because it was still happening, someone was still finding & playing it.  Ironically enough, it’s that ‘someone’ who’s shutting down the goodness by pulling the plug on VH1Soul. Word came round the sphere earlier this month, and to say that I was heartbroken & disappointed..would be a tragic understatement.

Granted, television & broadcasting networks are NOT what they used to be, and I’m venturing back to only 4 years ago. Drastic changes have propped up, all to benefit advertisers & executives rather than those that essentially matter—>the viewers. Yet finding blogs like Music Nerdery and hearing the same sentiments echoed by our fellow Bella, I knew this wasn’t just a flighty pull of the plug for some. VH1Soul matters to the masses because of those last four letters.

Are you game to have your voice heard? Click here to sign a petition granting you the right to Good Music, and here to show your support via the Save VH1Soul Facebook page. And while you’re at it, stay current on the shenanigans going on over at headquarters by following Music Nerdery.

Y’all remember SoulStage?! Lawd…

January 25, 2010

Bee Mine – Bee Sensitive Oil Free Serum

I’ve made it no secret over the past year that I have a few scalp sensitivities. Many trips have been made to the dermatalogist over the years to help diagnose whatever it is that’s seemed to overtake the scalp situation. I’ve had varrying symptoms from, itchy scalp to soars and blisters to dry scaley patches.

It’s not pretty.

It has been a frustrating journey figuring out the causes, finding a solution & helping to maintain a balance that would not interfere with my daily activities. In the winter time I just do not have the energy nor time to wash my hair/scalp upwards of 3-4 times a week. I gave up the habit as soon as the hair grew down to shoulder length, and the detangling process set me back a cool 45min-1hr.

So, while the doctor remedied my condition with a whole host of oils, pills, foams & creams, I was still far from satisfied.  Ingesting a medicine cabinet while applying topical products with ‘questionable’ ingredients always made me a bit leery…and broke.

Lately I have been seeking out alternatives to help calm ‘the situation,’ and recently came across a VERY strong contender.  *Bee Mine’s Sensitive Oil Free Hair Serum was an impulse purchase after watching a Youtube gal demo it late last year. I was still in vacation mode, anticipating the Black Friday Extravaganza deals & took a gamble purchasing.

From the Site:

Bee-Sensitive ~ Oil Free serum ($14) comes to you by popular request for our family members with scalp conditions that prevents the use of oils. We’ve formulated this oil-free hair serum with love to help soothe the scalp and promote a healthy environment for optimal growth. The soothing and healing properties of organic aloe vera juice paired with select herbs can assist in alleviating the discomfort of many scalp conditions. Feel the calming and stimulating and effect of this oil-free serum and keep your hair looking beautiful and healthy. Specially created for those with dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and other sensitive skin condition

My scalp is not sensitive to oils, so while this is not marketable to me per se, I opted to use it ultimately because of it’s claim to heal the effects of dermatitis & other skin conditions.  I’ve been using the serum weekly for two months, applying directly to scalp after styling the hair. The serum is very runny, & took a bit of trial and error before landing the application down. I absolutely make sure to apply it on my scalp if I’ve been sitting under a dryer to dry my twists because I find my scalp to be most sensitive and lacking moisture after a wash. I massage the serum in (at night usually) and leave-in. I repeat about a day – a day and a half later to ensure effectiveness.

There is a small tinging sensation after first application, but nothing seriously close to burning or uncomfortable.

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Vera Juice, Herbal Infused Purified Water, Ayurvedic Herbs, Select Herbs, MSM, Fragrance, Paraben & Formaldehyde Free Preservative.

The Bee Mine Serum has been a staple in my rotation for the simple fact that it is compatible with what my scalp essentially needs, & frankly that is a very hard thing to do.  Today, I sit here with eight day hair, haven’t washed my scalp since last week’s Sunday and can safely say I have a flake free, scab free scalp!  Downsides to applying a serum with a water & aloe vera juice base, is the inevitable damp scalp. To avoid this I apply sparingly, because you really do not need to douse your hair in serum. To avoid applying liberally, the spray application is best as is shown in the picture, though mine did come with a pour nozzle. The roots of your scalp will be slightly damp after applying, but should not interfere with whatever hairstyle you are currently maintaining.

*product was purchased solely by Chai, of Back To Curly while maintaining an unbiased review

January 25, 2010

Monday Musing

I am officially sidelined today due to a stomach virus thingy that’s wreaking havoc on my body, so essentially all systems haven’t been a ‘go’ since Saturday evening.  My energy has been completely zapped, so not washing of the hair yesterday & most likely today….so what’s a stir crazy girl to do!!!

I really do feel as if I’m going a bit bonkers, I HATE staying home, particularity on a rainy Monday when all me fellow 9-5’ers are out commiserating with the world.  Sippin on nothing but ginger ale and chicken broth gets old after the first few sips.

But to make do & to help prevent any more inevitable boredom,  I’ll post a few reviews that have been waiting in the wings as drafts for a while. No time like the present.

Times like these usually call for updating my music pod, so will be doing just that…starting with this fine fellow. It’s a collection of ‘unreleased’ tracks from Dwele, whom I’m a huge fan of.  The full track set was released earlier this month, but personally… there’s no such thing as late if it’s free music;-)!

Click here to download full album.

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January 22, 2010

Naturelle Chic Feature

I’m happy it’s Friday, I’m thankful another week has come & gone…& I am overjoyed to be ‘here.’ I hope I’m not coming off a bit ambiguous, but I always have a select few Mantra’s floating in my brain at any given time…and this one is speaking to me quite loudly today.

That small bit was supposed to segway into something more special, but I’ll just fall back & let you know about a famously Girl Friendly Blog for the ‘modern brown girl’, ‘A Girl’s Guide to Naturelle-Chic‘. I came across Zannëta’s blog a few weeks ago, & she was kind enough to reach out asking me to be featured . The blog is quite addicting, mixing hair profiles with style icons, chic home decor & even gooey homemade recipes I never knew about! Aside from being a certified PJ, I’m no doubt a blog whore…by choice;0), and this one was instantly added to the bill. You can check out my spot here.

Another cool endeavor  comes by way of Indie land to help raise awareness of Haiti and it’s current relief efforts. Each day Indie Fixx will silent auction a bevy of beautiful items made & donated by indie crafters, artists and designers.  Great things are up for grabs, including a few items from Zaja Naturals, a personal favorite vendor of mine;-). 100% of all proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross Response Fund. Click here or on link below to learn more.

Posting is set to resume as regularly scheduled beginning this weekend. Update on Contest in the coming days as well;-).

I hardly ever  do a short & sweet post do I?!


Have a FANTASTIC weekend everyone!

*image via CK Collectables

January 19, 2010

Listening Party: Corinne Bailey Rae

Posting will be a bit spotty for a few days. Grad School/family/life seems to take over when you least expect it. But a jewel landed in a lot of folks laps this morning in the form of some REALLY sweet music. Click on image to listen to Corinne Bailey’s new album, The Sea in it’s entirety. Full album is set for release January 26th.

Too hard to pick a favorite track;-)!

via npr

January 15, 2010

KBB & Haiti

If you’re still apprehensive about the ‘giving’ part in order to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, please keep this in mind as you stroll through the natural hair forums today, tomorrow & Sunday. Karen’s Body Beautiful’s Fabulous Free Friday is here, and with it comes a chance to make a difference.

The names behind the brand, Karen Tappin-Saunderson and Damani Saunderson are doing their part to help victims by matching contributions made by YOU. Stock up on some of your favorite hair & body goodies, but don’t forget to make a contribution…be it $5 or $50, your contribution will be matched by KBB, in addition products from the line will be shipped to Haiti aiding in the inevitable healing & transition stages.  Click here or on image to be directed to site.

*Click here for more ways to help the victims in Haiti

January 14, 2010

l’union fait la force…

I’d be a bit remiss if I didn’t post something on the tragedy that struck Haiti Tuesday, and not because there’s an enclave of sites devoted to the news over the past 48 hrs, or because celebrities and news media are Twittering pleas for donations… but because after coming home from work Tuesday night & hearing the news at a local deli around the corner from my house, I dashed home…on my way there dialed my parents number to see if they’d heard the news. I needed to hear their voice, the tone of my mother and father’s voice to reassure me that our family was safe.

Thankfully they were.

But what followed was not relief, it was utter and complete helplessness. And whether or not you’re Haitian, pain is universal & plain to see on the faces of those suffering.  I can’t bring myself to watch the news for minute on the minute coverage of the tragedy, mostly because over time…words aren’t enough, and reporters do stretch to find meaning in what’s happened, often times finding it in unfitting places such as past statistics on the country & it’s resilient people.

What I do know about the Haitian Community is that they are in fact a VERY resilient & proud people, and while keeping faith along with the promise of a prayer in mind to help those suddenly homeless & in need of aid, there’s so much WE can do here in the United States and all over the world.  I’d of course implore everyone to do their research before extending their kindness with a dollar, but do not forget the mission…to help.

*Doctor’s Without Borders

*thanks for reading, & stay blessed everyone.

January 11, 2010

Hair Fix

I’m excited. No, seriously I’m REALLY excited this week because I’m finding that trying something new can reap some ridiculously famous results!  Prompted by a conversation with a friend this past weekend, I decided that while it’s fancy and fun to stock up on all that a PJ wants, it’s even better to actually use it! Friend & I were talking product & hair, combos to stay away from, tips to try when I quietly hinted to the damage done this past Black Friday. I’d stocked up on ounces & ounces of butters/pomades/puddings and conditioners to last me well into the Winter/Spring, then carefully placed them off to the side in a sort of safe keeping.

Sounds silly right, safe keeping some of your goodies? Sounds a tad off,  now with hindsight as a decoder. I forgot that it is more beneficial to use up what’s purchased so that if necessary, I can move on and try more goodies… if need be. By no means am I trying to advocate future shopping binges, but rather forcing my hand a bit, saying that it’s okay to use up what you’ve got even though it might one day be gone. It’s irrational at best, but my sensitivity comes from….just nonsensical ish! Time to get over it, and this week was a start.

Life is much better when you pre-poo…I say. It’s frigid outside & by the time wash day rolls around my hair is on bended knee, craving moisture even before a traditional poo is applied.  I’ve bid adieu to ‘ol faithful, Vo5 Moisture Milks, to make way for the newbie Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle. The consistency is very creamy, easy to apply and the ‘tingle’ is felt almost instantly. I left on for a 15-20 minutes because I intended to massage the scalp with Naked Naturals Shea Butter & Avocado Smoothing Shampoo for a good five minutes, and did not want to over strip the hair in the process. Before applying conditioner I did take a quick pic of hair. Picture to the right is taken right after cold rinsing the shampoo out of hair, & prior to adding conditioner. In it’s natural state you can still see bits of remaining hair color that I’m still trying to grow out. The tips show the only visible signs of hair color, which means I’m about a month or two away from another good trim. Ultimately the goal is to get rid of all colored ends, because to the touch they continue to remain a bit brittle even after a good 45 min DC’ing. Other than the ends, the rest of the hair appears pretty healthy, and for that I’m quite happy;-).

Detangled then deep conditioned with Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose under a heating cap for an hour before cold rinsing. Took a chance on my own stash of products and styled this week with Darcy’s Botanicals Herbal Leave-In Spritz, just a few sprays to hydrate. The ingredient list is just too good not to:

Botanical infusion of Distilled Water, Organic Nettle, Organic Peppermint leaves, Organic Burdock Root, Organic Horsetail, Organic Marshmallow Root, Organic Coltsfoot, Organic Sage, Organic Hibiscus Flowers, Organic Kelp, Organic Sea Moss, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Aloe Juice, Sea Salt, Polysorbate 20, Litsea Cubeba, Tangerine, Patchouli, Sweet Orange, Peppermint, & Tea Tree Essential Oils, and a paraben free preservative.

Naturi Quench Moisturizer

Then applied a new favorite from Naturi Beauty, their Naturi Quench Moisturizer. Lucky me won a hefty 8oz jar of the butter during a recent contest hosted by Laquita and Shelley. Began using the butter on my skin once the weather here on the East Coast starting behaving badly, but stopped short after realizing I wanted to experience it on my hair as well. The site indicates that it’s best to use for twisting & braid-twist outs making it ideal to use as a weekly styler:

From the Site:

An intense moisturizing cream that rejuvenates dry hair and restores moisture and sheen. Hemp and jojoba oil strengthen each hair strand and aloe and honey create healthy, hydrated brilliant curls, waves and kinks. Great for daily moisture, smoothing edges and styling touch ups, works wonders for braids

Reasons for using the Naturi Quench were two-fold. I needed the moisture that only a butter could provide in order to use something I’ve had in the stash for way too long, Curl Junkie’s Aloe Fix Gel. I was hesitant to try the Aloe Fix for reasons I’ve lamented about here on this blog. I have a very sensitive scalp, & coincidentally sensitive skin.  Years ago, months after my first BC & even some moments after my 2nd, I’d routinely style my hair with Sleek n’ Shine’s aloe gel formula yet had never experienced ill side effects. Fast forward to last year, oddly enough a few days after reviewing it here on Back To Curly, I began to have quite visible allergic reactions.

To put it bluntly, I experience painful outbreaks on my skin when using the wrong gel. I haven’t experienced fun times with a gel in a good while, and gave up on drugstore brands to help slick back edges and twist. After the last Kinky Curly Custard application I was ready to completely shy away from any & all gel type stylers until I realized a hefty 16oz jar of Aloe Fix was idly sitting by, untouched.  So essentially, I made provisions.  Before applying the Aloe Fix, the spritz was applied, followed by the Naturi Quench Moisturizer. This was the only way I’d manage to use a gel on my hair during the winter, specifically to avoid the inevitable crunch & strong hold. I wanted definition in my twists, moisture, light hold without the crunch…and thankfully I got it!

From Curl Junkie’s Site:

Have curls that need a little control? This thick, rich, 98% natural/naturally derived Aloe based gel is formulated for hair with curls and coils. If scrunched into the hair it helps to give your hair definition, volume and bounce, and when smoothed into hair it can help stretch out the curls you have and add weight to hair to help elongate and define curls. You choose…It’s all in the application technique! Imparts lasting moisture and shine with aloe, glycerin, Vitamin B5, and Sweet Almond oil. If you are transitioning from a relaxer to a natural, try using this to smooth out the new growth. Can also be used for 2-strand twists or to slick back hair into ponytails or smooth flyaway hairs and refresh mid-day curls. Gives hair a fresh herbal/citrus scent.

Twisted into large twists using my new favorite combo, and unraveled this morning for some insanely gorgeous hair!  I’m tooting my own horn here, but you’ve gotta know that feeling when you’ve struck gold with a product combo, tried a new method, and somehow all turns out famously well! It’s time well spent…(6hrs to be exact;-). I’m happy with the results which yielded me zero crunch, significant shine & soft-medium hold that with proper maintenance should carry me through the week. More importantly, my hair is not stiff! Don’t you hate a gel that makes your hair act like a weapon? Ideally, you want a product that’s going to smoothe, deliver shine, and if you’re lucky a bit of nourishing properties.

During the Winter months I’m wising up with gels, pairing up beforehand with an adequate moisturizer as a leave-in, and some kind of herbal tonic for nourishment. What I loved about the Naturi Quench is that it’s a butter blend with water as it’s first ingredient. This helps the butter apply smoother onto hair that’s especially wet or damp and emulsifies clear on hands before applying. Paired with the Aloe Fix Gel, it really was the perfect combo!

January 8, 2010

Hair Mistakes

There’s a pretty nifty new blog on the horizon for Naturalista’s and today they posted this video:

Natural Hair mistakes really do have a tendency to run a muck during the beginning of transitioning & sometimes even years later.  A handful of years after my first BC I still managed to complete all mistakes mentioned in the list, except for 1.  It’s damn near too easy to fall into these ways, but trusting in those who’ve been there, made the mistakes and have come back much better informed is a good thing.

These are their top five, anyone made any natural hair mistakes during transitioning or later?

Via:   The New Naturalista