Archive for ‘Transitioning’

March 23, 2010

Reader Question: Fairy Knots

I hate that I don’t have much to update as far as my hair goes, and I will… without shame blame it solely on my new devotion to the twist. I have been on a two-strand twisting binge for the past few weeks, & each glance in the mirror further deepens my love for them. Alas, I can’t quit my twists, so instead my brain is nudging me to answer a reader questions that I’ve neglected for much too long;-).

liberalheart writes:

I am looking for some information on how to avoid or tame the little knot kernels at the end of my TWA. They are driving me crazy!!! I don’t know if I am the only person that suffers from this or not, I have been looking for info on the matter to no avail.

This is a tricky question for me simply because I never experienced knots at the end of my TWA many moons ago. I did however experience them a few months back when my hair was in dire need of a good trim. The ends of my hair were brittle, dry to the touch even after an adequate deep conditioning making the only option a snipping session.  Over time, you learn to rely on your instincts as far as when or how often to trim your hair, yet being forced into a trim due to knots and snarls is a whole other story.

During my TWA years, I rarely wore my hair out and about. My fro was, and still is naturally prone to dryness and while it was readjusting to a new texture…well, essentially it battled its own state of confusion as far as retaining moisture &  relating to its new environment. I was also on the fast track to obtaining length. I was obsessed with reaching a hair goal similar to my relaxed days. I was routinely fixated on all the natural haired pictures I came across while flipping through pages of Essence or Honey because in all honesty, they were few and far between. To protect my ends & to abstain from foreseen knotting, I wore protective styles for the majority of TWA years, prolonging the styles until my hair was well past shoulder length. I never endured snarls at the ends of my hair because they were always well hidden or protected from environmental elements.

Bottom line, if you & your hair are going through a period of frustration, it’s time to take a step back & evaluate your regimen.  Or, if you haven’t developed one, time to treat your hair to a regimen based on consistency.  No two heads of natural hair are the same. Ever, and this goes way beyond the surface & the look of one’s style, therefore no matter the length of your hair, knots are a part of a natural haired person’s life, & subsequently the factors attributed to these knots will vary from fro to fro.

One of my favorite bloggers, Alice of Diary of a Kinky Curly Transitioner, devoted a post to this sometime last year:

Fairy knots are tiny, single strand knots in your hair. They got their name from the fact they are so small only a fairy could have tied them! These generally appear on the ends and then work their way up if you don’t take care of them ASAP. If you wear your hair out a lot (wash and gos, wild and loose, etc.) you’re going to be more prone to them because your ends aren’t protected and when you add the nature of curly hair (curls on itself) you’re asking for some trouble.

There are two ways to take care of them:

1) Snip them off. Easy. Breezy. Beautiful.

2) DETANGLE them out. This can be time consuming, I’ve had some luck with a heavy co-wash conditioner and olive oil. I gently combed the ends with my Denman to get them out. It took FOREVER and I snapped most of my hair off at the knots while detangling them so you’re REALLY better of with option 1.

Prevention is easy. Keep your hair relatively snag free (watch your collars!), condition and wear protective styles so the fairies won’t get you!

If you decide to detangle them out of your hair, be sure to use a wide enough comb, a conditioner with a variable amount of slip (a good cheapie is VO5’s Moiture Milks line;-), or be sure to add/use a penetrating/nourishing oil such as coconut or olive oil.

Figuring out which products work best for your hair is also quite important during TWA stages, though arming yourself with the knowledge of what your hair inherently needs is very different from shopping willy nilly for a whole host of twisting creams & gels. Determining your hair’s porosity, texture & moisture balance are all key to determining what products will work best on your hair. Marsha, from the fab Curl friendly line, Curl Junkie wrote a very detailed & informative post on this a few weeks back:

First let me say that we all have to remember that there are many factors that go into determining whether or not a product works for you. Here are just some things to consider (assuming you haven’t found your perfect combos yet):

1)Outside Weather – including Dew points, temperature, relative humidity, wind, rain, snow, etc…

2)How you treat your hair – Do you use heat regularly? Do you color your hair? Do you sleep on a cotton pillowcase vs. satin vs. whatever… Is it damaged or generally healthy?

3)Inside Environment – Humidity – is it relatively dry or most in your home or office?

4)Hair Texture – Fine through normal through Coarse (For the sake of this article, on a 1-10 scale, I’ll say that the very finest of hair is a 1 and the coarsest of hair is a 10). I find that most people who think they have really coarse hair don’t. This is mainly due to frame of reference. You’d need to feel truly coarse hair (which is typically given as Asian/Native American, although I have felt variations there as well and have seen the coarsest hair in my life on a Caucasian head…2 actually…and they were both red-heads…humm…). This isn’t to say that you aren’t right, but it is likely that your hair is in the 6-9 range. Just as with fine hair, you’ll be in the 2-4 range. It turns out, when I compare my hair strands with other folks hair, that I fall in the normal to fine range (about a 4)…that was a surprise to me!

5)Hair Porosity – Low-normal-high (which most people will not have unless their hair is damaged/bleached/etc). For the sake of this article, low porosity hair will feel smooth moving your fingers up and down the shaft and also has problems absorbing water/product/chemicals (you may see water beading up on the hair). High porosity hair will feel bumpy or a little rough (due to the cuticle layer not laying very flatly) and absorbs almost too much of everything (and will release it easily too, including moisture!).

6)Hair Density – Do you have a lot of hair on your head or very little (so you see your scalp easily)?

7)Wave/Curl Pattern – I think this a factor, although not the major one. For example, generally speaking, I think that if you have a weaker wave/curl pattern with fine-normal hair you may want to use a hard holding gel with your products to support your pattern.

8)Products you use on your hair – again, the quality, gentleness or harshness of the products you use regularly on your hair. Sometimes you can do damage with a harsh shampoo, sulfate or sulfate-free. Sometimes you need some protein and sometimes not. Sometimes you need a particular type of protein (like say the protein in an ingredient like Lecithin which even coarse heads seem to be OK with…).

9)How many times per week do you wash/condition/style your hair?

10)The temperature of the water you use to wash your hair…think about it, if you shower in hot water (like I do), then you create a great moisture rich environment for your hair to soak up moisture…you almost turn your conditioners into Deep Treatments! I find that even folks who normally avoid say glycerin in products, could use it in this environment and rinse it out (making sure not to use glycerin in their stylers). The glycerin helps to soak up the moisture in the shower air (this is not scientific, just what I’ve found! :-P)

Before giving into the frustrations of the fairy knots, try deep conditioning with a non-drying, silicone free conditioner that won’t cause an excess in buildup. Clarify your hair/scalp at least once a month ( Apple Cider Vinegar is a great option!), try protective styling! I used to LOVE wearing my hair in tiny two-strand twists which always produced the cutest curly fro, or moisturized single coils which are often easier to maintain and style than two-strands.

Hope this helps & you find a solution to those stubborn knots;-)!

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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

December 14, 2009

Taking Chances

I’m nervous about it, but …no Process this week. Nothing to do with time or energy, the hairz just kept on working well past the Sunday mark…and I refused to fight it. This morning had a doctor’s appointment and had no worries when it came to styling.  I’d been using the baggy method over the course of the week, and hair remained relatively moisturized and defined. Mid-week, sprayed a bit of Jane Carter’s Revitalizing Spray to combat the cold/dry air we’ve been having here on the East Coast and and honestly have no complaints…hair or scalp wise.

A bit hesitant to prolong anything beyond the usual  7-day mark, while all does still look good and non-itchy, inevitably I’ll have to fit the time in later this week to do a quick wash.  Not sure how this is all going to go down amidst holiday parties, shopping for friends and families & the general hustle/bustle style of the holidays…but it will get done.

With not much to update on this week, I thought it a good opportunity to answer a question posted by a reader last week:

I’m transitioning from locs to natural hair, I’ve had locs for nearly 9 years and so I’m naturally out of sync when it comes to hair regime and products for natural loose hair. Is it possible for you to to give me product, herb, oil and hair regime recommendations?



Mmm….did I ever mention anywhere on here that I had locs? I’m almost certain of it, though it’s not a period of my natural hair journey I choose to talk about in depth. In hindsight, while I was still natural wearing locs, I do feel the hair was in it’s resting phase, taking a break from other elements in life. I’d just transferred to a new school, full time student working full time work hours day to day…I had no, zilch, NADDA time to style the bouffant before classes in the a.m. and work after 4.  My locs weren’t in nearly as long as 9 years, but I grew to love & appreciate them from their first latch to every inch of growth subsequently gained while they were in.

If you’re a locked natural, perhaps you’ll understand this. Reasons for deciding to venture into loc-dom vary in considerable amounts, & visa vi…the decision to end the relationship with locs differ and range in significance ways. I made the decision to cut my locs because I found myself constantly looking in the mirror and longing for a new face, a new way to wear my hair once I walked across the stage to accept my diploma. Plain & simple. When I graduated college, I was sporting a short cut administered by my brother’s barber.  Because it felt right, and the time was right, I went for it. No regrets.

Okay, that’s the better half of the story. While I didn’t transition from locs to loose hair, I was still in la la land as far as how to style my hair, & what to put in it. I know of women who’ve chosen to unravel their locs, and while it is a tedious process, the rewards are a full head of head.

Things I did notice after the locs were cut, was a significant difference in hair texture. The best way to describe it would be to say that my natural texture had grown a bit looser.  Texture change in hair is not uncommon whether you’ve worn locs for 15 rs or loose hair for 5. A change in hormones could be a factor or another range of undetermined factors. Full Disclosure: I was experiencing a slight change in hormones i.e., I’d developed scalp conditions, all over winter itch, and hairs were sprouting up where they normally had no business occupying.

With a change in hair texture, I soon realized it was an entirely new ball game, as far as finding products best suited to moisturize and style the hair.  And while general hair advice is relative to….a multitude of factors, here’s the advice I would have given to my lost self many moons ago:

  • Keep it Simple:  Biggest past mistake was pressing the panic button each morning, looking in the mirror not recognizing what was now growing out of my scalp.  Gut reaction was to rush out and fill my bathroom cabinet with anything in the conditioner/moisturizing category.  Sooner than you could blink an eye, I had  tried everything Garneir Fructis put out, all the mousses from different brands, gels, pomades, waxes, puddings, milks, butters, lotions, serums, smoothies. It was a lot of crazy for no cool reason. Advice to former self: Keep it Simple, start off small. Hair needs time to adjust to it’s natural environment, and combating what it needs with what it inherently doesn’t pulls you in two steps back rather than forward.
  • Access the damage: By this I mean, pay attention to scraggly ends and the overall structure/shape of the hair. If you’re planning on un-doing the locs, beginning to wear the hair loose can pose a bit of a challenge if the overall structure is out of whack.  My first few trims after loc-dom was done by a professional because, while clueless was no longer my middle name, it’d become my first. A smart cut helps in overall hair health, styling the hair, but also in retaining length while detangling during a wash
  • Shoulda/Woulda Products: I have to say, I’m not sure how my sense of direction went so crazy after cutting my locs, but establishing a routine was never a top priority. That was mistake numero 1. Developing a routine right out of the gate is a sure sign to your hair that you are in compliance and are willing to stick to what works & not what’s popular. Recommendations are great, product reviews are often times invaluable if you’re not yet ready to commit to a full jar of a pricey pudding, but finding what naturally works for your hair should come first, while implementing the product du jour…a tad later. It’s primarily about re-adusting, and finding the right hair regime  takes time, patience & researching what your hair texture needs. All this is relative to climate temps, tools used to style & technique.

The BEST product used for hair after loc-dom & for any natural loosed hair lady is what once used to be an enemy, and that’s conditioner. My biggest splurges after cutting off the locs were on conditioner, spending up to 20 bucks for a jar of promised goodness.  Carol’s Daughter was once my condish of choice, namely the Tui Conditioner, but other brands such as Aubrey Organics, Pantene Relaxed & Natural( their Breakage Defense Mask is highly recommended, affordable & works well!),  Herbal Essences.  These products get a lot of word play throughout the natural hair community mostly because they work for the majority. Most have softening properties, i.e. coconut oil/cream, jojoba oil,  & surfectants that opt you out of using an overly harsh shampoo to cleanse. As an alternative to shampooing with a harsh sulfate shampoo, co-washing is often preferred amongst naturals because of it’s more gentler approach to cleansing while also conditioning. Unless you suffer from scalp irritations and need the frequency of washing with a regular shampoo, co-washing is a positive starting point.

Coming from personal experience and spending oodless of $$ on products ranging from the low end to high end, there is no definitive product, or oil. There is finding a good plan/regime, learning patience & sticking with what works. Mane & Chic put together an amazingly comprehensive guide to transitioning that’s helpful for all naturals new and old.  A few other great resources are Nappturality.com & Black Girl With Long Hair & my personal fav, YouTube!  All offer great tips, tutorials & advice that hardly ever seem overwhelming just simply informative.

Hope this helps, & wish you all the best on your continued journey! If anyone has any follow up questions, you can reach me at backtocurly@gmail.com

December 6, 2009

Transitioning Memories

*This post might come off a bit jilted, but it’s pretty much my best attempt at piecing together a strange puzzle dating back to my transition days. Forewarning…it’s a doozy.


ELLE January 2000

It’s funny the things that run through your mind on a lazy Sunday.  Especially when the weather takes another unusually cold turn and your covers and slippers are the most appealing thing next to a cup of hot tea.  Sunday for me is typically Hair day, wash day.  Begin the Process of styling the hair for the work/play week. Because I had ample time on my hands yesterday I thankfully started early & finished early, making today grocery/wash dishes/unpack from vacation type…day.

Somehow though my brain made a detour after checking a few emails, catching up on old blog posts in the natural sphere, and landing on this truly amazing site for natural hair gals. I’m still perusing, finding  just a TON  of cool inspirational information, but sporadically took a break after reading Ebony’s transition story. We hear and see countless stories of transition on a day to day basis.  If you frequent enough sights via curlynikki.com or bglhonline.com, you’re up to speed on just how important expelling these types of stories are, particularly for those just embarking on the natural hair journey.  Earlier this year I made an attempt at voicing my own transitional period, but honestly fell flat, barely touching the surface.

I don’t really have a ton of…great memories during my transition period. I can’t even recall good times after my BC to be quite honest. My mind is suspiciously fuzzy when it comes to taking a trip down memory lane, and I’m a bit miffed as to why.  I want to remember…I want to gold mine those memories and show them off proudly when given the chance…yet, I wouldn’t, or don’t know how it truly all went down.  Whatever, because it’s Sunday I’m headed down the road whether I like it or not…who knows what I’ll find.

First blip to come to mind is a documentary I tripped on waaaaay back in the day during my freshman year of college.  It was Black History Month…(AHH! so glad I remembered that!), and PBS was doing their best to remind those who cared by airing a handful of shows mentioning the African Diaspora.  Mid-month they aired a documentary by T. Nicole Atkinson titled, Lockin’ Up.  The film is short, 29 min long, yet the message was perfect timing.  *Let me press rewind though for a quick sec to mention what bought me to ‘perfect timing.’

read more »

October 1, 2009

In Case You Missed It…

Yeah, I couldn’t stay up last night/morning to watch the re-airing of the “Good Hair” episode on Oprah. I was LIVID when my body woke up at 3:30 in the morning only to realize I was just a few hours shy (it comes on @ 1:30 here in NYC btw). But never fret! Below’s a clip from yesterday’s show, other parts can be found on YouTube. OR, click here to watch the entire episode in its entirety;-0!  I loved the lightheartedness of the show, and thought Ms. O and Rock did a FAB job! Solange…that girl knows how to work a TWA!

September 8, 2009

Shop Talk: Natural Ease

 

Is it really hard?  Honestly…I’m playing investigator Chai for one day, and I need to know…is it really THAT hard to care for natural hair?  Is the ‘pouf’ factor intimidating enough to steer most onto easy street…a.k.a., relaxer road?  I’ve never labeled myself as a natural pusha, or what’s been oddly called the “natural Nazis,” syndrome, but I am one of the only two women in my family who’s sporting her natural hair…the other is my proud Mum;-).  A conversation with a friend this afternoon got the wheels turning after she expressed to me that she’d be getting her hair done later in the week, it’d been several months since she’d last relaxed and felt it was time to touch up.  We’d both been down this road before, more so since I started blogging about my hair, yet the road is far from straight…it’s mostly circular.  I’d try to drop tiny hints about the WONDERS of being natural, and the misconceptions that are often thrown about when it comes to caring for a thicker texture, yet the fruits of my tiny labor typically bear zero.  It’s nothing I bemoan about, truthfully I’ve lived by the motto “DO YOU” for most of my adult life, and find it serves many purposes. So while I’m not a ‘pusher’ per se, I do not mind saying that I am a natural hair enthusiast…or informant.  In fact, I do have several friends who are relaxed… actually it’d be more fair to say I have just one friend who is natural and she’s only recently BC’d a month or two ago.  Over the years if one or two had questions about my hair, I was all up in there with an answer, explaining my routine and asking if this might be an avenue they’d like to explore.

 

frooftheweek1Over the years, the only friend I’ve managed to convince was my own mother, who after 20+ years decided to abandon the relaxer because her hair was thinning excessively.  Bottom line, with the slight push from her doctor she finally decided to transition. My Mum has had her own struggles adjusting to being natural, yet to label her transition hard, or difficult…I’m still not sure.  Her frustrations clearly showed from time to time, most often when she’d complain about the actual thinness of her hair as compared to the thick mane she used to sport back in the 70’s during the fro revolution.  Her hair texture was different now, though still curly, it lacked fullness, a bit of luster and length.

 

Newly natural, my mother did experiment with a myriad of hair products, a lot that I’d personally recommended to her, others she’d pick up as pocketed suggestions from ladies & stylists at her hair salon.  Most gave her the ‘look’ she sought, but what she ultimately desired was to appear ‘acceptable’ with a sleek look that usually bordered on a post-texturized do.  She wanted to be natural without having to look natural. It might sound odd to say, but I’ve come to believe that in the early stages of my Mum’s BC, she was stuck in a state of transition.  There was no immediate ‘knowing’ of how to care for her hair, especially granted the 20+ years of being relaxed.  Products that she’d often use on her relaxed her, she could no longer apply to her new texture.  This was only part of her problem.  Guidance is a virtue in the natural hair community, yet the advice my Mum sought was from tired stylists who dared not take a comb to section or part.  The only answer was to texturize and pay the tip. 

 

It’s been several years now, and my Mum is still natural, and as far as I can tell has no plans on relaxing.  Over time, the thinness of her hair has waned, the familiar thickness of her hair has slowly come back. And while her length is no longer as she remembered it many years ago, her current short fro suits her personal style…it’s easier for her to get on with the day while washing and go’ing to and fro in the Florida heat. 

 

Was it hard..though? Similar to most other transitions in life, there were adjustments to be made and random advice to be thrown about…some discarded others tucked away for safe keeping.  Yet while transitioning has it’s hurdles…whatever you want to call ‘now,’ where a lot of naturals currently are…post natural…whathaveyou…I’d reference it to anything but hard.  The ‘ease’ that my friend is looking forward to later this week after getting her relaxer, is the same ease I wake up to every morning while taking down my silk scarf.  The once a week ‘Process’ I undergo is tedious at best…but let me pat myself on the back for a minute and say…I’ve had this ‘Process’ down pat for some time.  I jive to my own music in my own place, instead of waiting upwards of 1 hour – 3 hours for an ‘expert’ to dish on what she/he thinks looks good.

 

I was no fool though, the ‘ease’ did not come naturally, what I scramble through each Sunday has taken time, effort, patience but most importantly the knowledge of how to care for something that’s inherently delicate.  These days I do not solicit other relaxed women to join the natural team, but if you ask…or have mixed perceptions that turn my own experiences on their head, I can’t help but mumble something to a certain affect of… ‘here’s how it really is…’

 

I could be old school in my thinking, the first time I went natural was in 2001 long before brands such as Kinky Curly, Miss Jessie’s or Curl Junkie were as familiar as they are today.  But what I do have is my own experience, the years, sweat & $$ I’ve put into caring for this mop.  I’m rambling now because…well it does go that deep, it’s something I can’t help.  It is just hair… sometimes though it’s not, it really can’t be.

August 27, 2009

Natural Exploration

27skin190_3

“It’s just one of them days…that a girl goes through…”

The date is set, circled and highlighted on my calendar, both at work and at home.  October 9th, Chris Rock’s Documentary ‘Good Hair’ opens in select cities, October 28th nationwide, and I along with a handful of friends will be front and center.  This will probably be the first time in a loooong time I might actually consider buying popcorn at the theatre to enjoy, because the anticpation and excitement really has me going! I’m beyond thrilled to be one of the first group of ppl. to see this documentary & hopefully the world will speak up by going out and supporting the cause. 

With a big name comedian such as Chris Rock frontlining this project, national publicity is the norm.  The whispers began when the film first premiered at Sundance several moons ago, and today….TODAY…the whispers are turning into leveled bouts of banter across the table.  The media is picking up steam as the film nears it’s release date, capitalizing on what’s often kept private and reclouse in the African American community.  The blogosphere has firmly weighed in, taking the conversation on natural tangents that, while uncomfortable, need to be discussed. 

The New York Times weighed in with the article, “Black Hair, Still Tangled in Politics.”  While the article does an adequate job in touching on the topic of the inner politics of natural hair within the black community, the stars of the show are the commenters, some taking sides…others willing to explore the deeper meanings behind the idea of “good hair.”

For some, the battle lines are drawn.

But in recent interviews, a number of people of color expressed a weariness with the debate. They asked, essentially: Why can’t hair just be hair? Must an Afro peg a woman as the political heir to Angela Davis? Is a fashionista who replicates the first lady’s clean-cut bob really being untrue to herself?

Defintely well worth the read!  Click here to read the full article.  And don’t forget to skim through the interactive feature with several black women giving their two cents!

 

Our fellow Bellla over @ Afrobella.com  highlights another pretty sensitive topic in hot debate over at the Racialicious blog, “Are curls the new straight hair?”  If you’re hip to a lot of the birth control commercials out their with the ‘token’ black girl or the face wash commercials with the fair skinned ladies washing their face and smiling for the camera…you may have a hint as to the root of this discussion. 

The writer’s perspective is that of a German born/raised woman, but her experiences are culturally relative to many others who’ve tackled issues of hair texture/type/curl. 

Over the next weeks everywhere I looked, be it the streets of my city or most of he few female black German TV-presenters – it really seemed that nowadays the fly mixed or black girl hast to have curls. Generous, semi-loose curls that is, tight enough to give you the volume but loose enough to be considered beautiful in a more mainstream way.

Head over to the the blog and join in on the chatter by clicking here.

Both articles are well worth the read for varying reasons,  yet it was Afrobella’s response, “A Curly Conundrum,” that spoke directly to me:

I love to see natural hair in all its diverse and beautiful forms, from loose spirals to tight z shaped kinks, dense and thick to silky and sproingy. Every time I’ve been told by a bella on the street “I love your hair! But I can’t go natural because my hair isn’t like that,” I take the time to let them know:

  1. I once thought the same of my hair and honestly didn’t know what my texture would be until I gave it time myself, and
  2. the point of going natural isn’t to achieve a certain look — or at least that SHOULDN’T be the point. The point is to embrace your hair as it grows from your head, to keep it healthy and strong, and to learn to work with it in a way that’s relatively stress free and enjoyable.

I think hair should be an extension of your personality. An expression of self. So I always want my hair to be happy, healthy, a little wild, and free. Just like I always want to be.

 

What I’m in love with at the moment is not necessarily the controversy surrounding these debates, but the actual discussion…the talk and sparks that sort of fuel the passion of women of ALL communities involved.  While skimming through all articles and blog posts at work today…the undenying factor that shouldn’t be ignored, is that people have a voice and it is important for that voice to be heard.  Whether you’re Asian/German/African American/Nigerian/Somalian/Caucasian…the boat takes us all to the same place, we’re all swimming in the same waters.  Our roots/heritage are undeniably different, and our struggles vary from person to person…yet collectively self acceptance is our main goal.

Whether you’re natural/relaxed your voice does count, let it be heard by speaking up;-)

April 16, 2009

Carol’s Daughter: Hair Milk

hairmilk_lSo, what natural/curly head doesn’t have a story about their first time using Carol’s Daughter’s products? If you haven’t already, bets are it’s on your list for a post-BC purchase or a summer investment…I’m just guessing here.

But my own experience with Carol’s Daughter came after my second BC.  I’d just cut off my locs and was looking forward to sampling her line of goodies…a friend of mine who was natural at the time recommended and I gravitated towards their store in Fort Greene like a moth to a flame.  I was a bit timid at the time…and also a bit in awe at the scope of natural products and the sheer fact that they were all catered to women with natural hair.  What a beautiful concept!

After sampling & sniffing just about everything in the store from their cologne sprays, to the shampoos…body bars…hair balms…hair butters…Whew! I left the store with a bag full of goodies, including the infamous Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk.  This was a product I was most excited to try because let’s face it…what natural head doesn’t go gaga over the thought of your tresses being nourished by milk! It’s a bit of clever marketing, calling the product Hair Milk…but it works not just for Carol’s Daughter, but for a whole host of other lines that have come after.  I’m into the whole milky way thing….milk baths…hair milks…milk & honey soap bars. I LUV! For the most part it feels like home.

My first purchase was well over four years ago, when Ms. Price was just beginning the whirlwind tour success story that’s turned into a Sephora gig..etc. Both stores, the one in Fort Greene along with the one in Harlem were gems in my book…but there is something about making it to the halls of Sephora that lets the world know…dang it, I’m Here! If you were a fan of her line before you were either beyond thrilled to see your goodies become a bit more accessible (screw shipping costs!) or a bit disheartened at the possible commercialization of a line…their message, ‘Beauty by Nature,’ would be a bit hard to swallow.

Here’s where I take it back…waaaaay back to when I first started using this line and could count on maybe one or two hands the amount of ingredients that came in a tube of Hair Milk or Hair Smoothie.  Back then, it really did feel as if it were ‘beauty by nature,’ because most of the products required refrigeration or had to be used in a 1-4 week time frame.  I remember having images of Ms. Price and her line of natural ladies mixing potions in her home kitchen…maybe jivin to some Nina Simone in the background.  Crazy …yah. But this was the essence of Carol’s Daughter to me…a rare personalization that you experienced when walking into her store and seeing these beautiful women talk expertly about how to best nourish your hair, & how to best moisturize and cleanse your face. 

I continued to use Carol’s Daughter several months after my BC, but for one reason or another…(probably the price) stopped.  As my hair grew longer, I was drawn to more pocket-friendly products…gels and what nots that would not leave a growing hole in my wallet.  My hair is thick and requires  a heapin pile of product for styling! But I still loved the Hair Milk.  For freshly BC’d hair, it made my little twirls and kinks spiral and stay moisturized for a good day or so.  I had shine, softness and the feeling that I was on the right track as far as my hair went.

Fast forward to earlier this year…I’m much to lazy to go to Fort Greene, and Harlem seems like two worlds away, so I stop into my nearest Sephora and revisit my old friend Hair Milk.  The price….yeah, that went up.  But it wasn’t until I got home that I realized  the other changes.  The consistency was different…the ingredient list fit the entire side of my 8oz bottle…and some were a bit questionable.  Regardless, I tried it and for the most part still liked it! I used it mainly in the mornings to smooth down frizz and re-moisturize my twists.  With my hair longer this was the best use I found rather than using it as a simple wash-n-go styler.

And yeah…my hair is longer now, and for the most part is a bit more particular about what I put in it, and while the Hair Milk is okay for now…what it used to be was a bit more special.  Here’s what I do understand though… with reformulations, especially with a business that’s growing, expanding and moving in great directions…is that change is inevitable.  Ms. Price couldn’t have her products sit on the shelves of Sephora and deteriorate in front of customers.  The loss would be both hers and her customers of the natural hair community.

Yet, what I was hoping for were better alternatives to what was inevitably included in the new reformulation.  Personally I wouldn’t know how to spot an Amodimethicone in ‘nature,’ so I was surprised to see it in a lot of the now ‘new’ conditioners and moisturizers.  It’s all just hair products right…nothing to worry over.  But, I’m still sort of disappointed.  I won’t be re-purchasing my first forray into Hair Milk’s…and most likely a lot of the other products I’d wanted to sample again.  My commmitement these days is to find better alternatives and to really stick to a game plan.

 

Jeesh…this post is way too long so….et fin!

March 12, 2009

Apropos: You Wanna Be On Top!

scissorsLast night my roommate and I sat down to enjoy yet another fun installment of America’s NEXT TOP MODEL!! (the trick is to say it the way Ms. Tyra says it in order to get the full effect.) I forget which cycle we’re tuning into…10…11..? It seems as if it’s gone on for eons, but last night…if you’re a fan like I am, was one of the high points of the season.  It was the makeover episode where Ms. Banks tries her hand at transforming rag & bone young girls into model envy FIERCE women!  It is highly entertaining, particularly for me because I’m always drawn to the aesthetics of transformation, especially through hair, and what these episodes have revealed over the years is just how important the idea of hair is to women of all ages. 

I thought it apropos simply because of the countless women out there who are actually ready and willing to take the dive into natural territory by doing their BIG CHOP.  Some are even growing tired of waiting it out, enduring hair breakage, moisture problems, style limitations, drawing curious eyes and questions from friends, family and society.  Now, until you actually do the ‘do’ you’re essentially stuck in this roundabout world full of questions, concerns and your own mini-mayhem party you create by the whole ‘what if’ factor.

It sounds so final doesn’t it…BIG CHOP…, and yet watching these young women break down and cry over the mere site of shears gave me a cool moment to pause and really think about it. I completely emphasized with a handful of these girls who were getting their hair snipped…but the bigger picture..the grandioseness of it all is anything but final.

I strongly feel that the only reason I was able to enjoy the start of my natural journey, beginning with the BIG CHOP, was because I had a clear perspective on what my hair meant to me and only me, and in some ways the BIG CHOP does force you to start from scratch…helps you to examine the fabric of your identity.  It may sound a bit selfish…well, at least the ‘only me’ part, but to start from the beginning you do need zero distractions, clear your head for your own personal questions and possible worries… and that means putting yourself first. 

It’s not ‘just hair,’…meaning it is a heck of a lot more than some of us will ever like to admit…aside from your love for shoes, handbags, makeup…it is our most prized and interchangeable accessory.  Last night I watched these young women cry, and languish over the idea of having little to no hair, but secretly…I was excited! My reasoning is strictly relative to my own experience, but I was excited and hopeful that they’d be willing to embrace their new look…overcome the ‘crying stage’ and bounce over that hurdle instead of starring straight at it. Their initial transformation was no doubt physical, but clearly….CLEARLY…the more important transformation goes a lot deeper.

 

et fin!

sun

 

 Countdown to Spring: 8 Days!

January 30, 2009

Sleek & Shine Gel

So this week, because my hair and scalp have been at odds with the weather, I’ve had to reach for my go-to products and accessories to alleviate my frustration. 

sleekshine

Back when I was transitioning I felt my options in styles were extremely limited (they really weren’t I was just clueless:-( ), so I continually pulled my hair back in a puff bun or wore it in a TWA with a variety of headbands I’d hoarded once I did my BC.  But before I’d BC’d I hardly EVER used gel on my hair for fear of cutting back on the longevity of my relaxer (this was a sordid myth in my household), always using cremes and elixirs to slick back.  But when it was time to find products that suited my newly textured hair, I think I got extremely lucky when I found a curl activator gel that was suitable for dry, coarse hair AND most importantly did not flake, or when dried remained hard.  Sleek & Shine  adds the right amount of glycerin and aloe to this gel to make your strands soft, but at the same time this thing slicks back, and stays back! 

My only problem with this gel is that it was always a tad difficult to find! After I moved from my old neighborhood several years ago I could not locate it at any of the supply stores, and settled on IC Fantasia gel, a staple gel many naturals swear by.  I liked IC Fantasia gel…after trying their olive oil formula and the color treated formula, I understood the hype…but the only thing missing was what my old faithful gel often did and that was leave a punch of added softness and absolutely no dryness!

Luckily last year I found a supply store here in BK that’s the meca of all things hair related that also stocked my old staple.  Needless to say I stocked up and have been using it ever since, and will continue to decline other gels as styling staples…it works that well!

Ingredients

Water, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol, Oleth-20, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Benzophenone-4, Disodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance, Ext. Violet 2.

bandsThis morning, as well as for the past two days, I’ve simply slicked back my curls into a 4-6 day old curly fro with my new favorite headbands from Goody, their wonderful Stay Put bands,  and walked out the door!