Posts tagged ‘Transitioning’

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.’

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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.

January 13, 2009

Memory Lane

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  Walking down memory lane, talking  about my hair journey.  Even today, more than seven eight years after going natural and cutting off all my straight hair, I feel strongly that this journey has only just begun, and what I’ve learned so far, from those who’ve admonished me to those who’ve encouraged me…these experiences are only just the tip of the iceberg. But every journey does have a beginning and mine was back in college, which is sort of atypical of most natural hair journeys…lol! You sign up for classes on the first day, but also sign up for the inevitable, driving into oncoming traffic in the form of new friends, new interests, new outlooks on life.   For me, sophomore year was when I’d hit a wall.  Miserable in the school  I thought would be my doorway into ‘the real world,’  I retreated into a world I’d slowly created for myself, full of Magazines, books, and my new found passion…the Harlem Renaissance!  All these elements have names, but in essence they were one, just one silly way for me to escape. 

One morning, before heading on the train to class,  I picked up an issue of Elle Magazine, skipped all the petty ads about Chanel, Gucci and brands I could never afford, to a columnist I had grown to love.  At the time Tia Williams was a beauty editor for Elle Magazine, writing  from her perspective as an African American woman, mentioning on the fly how she’d tried this new product for her hair or discovered the greatest find in lipglosses.  She was my ABSOLUTE idol at the time! Every month I’d double check the masthead to make sure she was still there and had not deserted me.  This was back in…I’d have to say 2000 or 2001, where to be a black girl in Elle was a MEGA deal, especially if you’re not just posing, but you’re contributing in a way that reaches a whole new audience.  I was beyond thrilled every month to read what she had to say, and one day I decided to book an appointment at a salon on her recommend list. Once I’d gotten to the salon, and like a good little client  I’d bought a picture of how I’d wanted my hair to turn out, I handed it over and watched a perplexed look wash over her face.   Now, here’s where the words common and sense should’ve met for me…I’d picked a salon that specialized in NATURAL HAIR.  I did NOT have natural hair. My hair was relaxed, straight, high on creme crack! Yeah… and my hair stylist told me as much, but rather than lose out on money, encouraged me to try a flat twist, which regardless in the end turned out fabulous!      

But that picture (which I still have today:-)) of this beautiful woman with textured hair was stuck in my head for weeks after my flat twists had gone limp and straight.  It’d never occured to me until that point in the salon that other possiblities did exist out there for my hair besides the relaxer AND most importantly, that I had the power to change it! The power to change while in college is something extraordinary because it all seems so very possible, undaunting, and yet exciting as all hell! And that’s what I did without thinking twice.  I knew I wanted this look, that woman’s hair, and this fierceness that could only be described as contagious, so I set out to get it.  In a matter of…I’d have to say 4-6 months, I went back to the salon, greeted my stylist with an ‘I told you so look,’ and enjoyed one of the most freeing experiences to date.  

Afterwards I went home, hid my hair from family for a good two months before gathering the courage to unravel my teenie weenie fro.  The response was what I’d expected.  My parents ignored me, just down right did NOT speak to me about what I’d done.  According to them I’d probably ‘grown depressed’ or simply ‘wanted attention,’  and the best way for them to deal with it, or me, was to ignore the situation completely.

It was unfortunate, but because my new hair carried with it a new attitude of confidence, it frankly did not bother me, and over time ( a good solid year!) they accepted who it was I was growing into. Some friends deserted me, other family members thought me plain ‘ol crazy, lazy and stupid,  but again…there was no better relief than making a choice that involved this kind of freedom and discovery.  Over night I’d begun learning more about myself, my face (you can’t hide when you first BC) my family, friends…even strangers on the street who’d stop to pay compliment.

Over the years the styles and products have come and gone, but the experience is one I’d relive again and again if I could.  Through the years I’ve donned double strand twists, flat twists, braids, coils, buzz cuts, pixie cuts, dreadlocks (this was senior year!) afro puffs, flat ironed,  cornrows, and so much more! Even over this past year I’ve learned so much from new friends, new roommates, new bloggers out there who’ve been down a similar path and who are also continuing to learn…it is ALL such an incredibly humbling, eye opening, fantabulous journey that I’d encourage every brave woman to embark on this journey… share your concerns, fears and hopes with those who are willing to listen, and to do it with arms wide open, because to travel  any other way would…well it just wouldn’t be as fun;-)