Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's All About the Hair, but Don't Forget About the BODY

I have been fortunate enough to have never struggled with weight.  The problem with that is I never really concerned myself with what I ate because I associated diets and meal planning with the need to lose weight.  I never thought of it as being something I needed to be conscious of for health reasons.  I ate out a lot, but I tried to select healthy options . . . at least half of the time :-)  I knew it was better to cook at home, but I had every excuse in the book why I couldn't do it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Tale of Two Grandmas & My Journey to Cultural Awareness

Until recently, I never compared and contrasted my two grandmas.  Each one was special and dearly loved so I never saw anything more or less than that.  Now, with all the talk of "good" hair and "bad" hair and light complexion and dark complexion, I'm beginning to realize that my grandmothers were on opposite ends of each spectrum.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Fancy Naturally"

Oh you fancy, huh?

Thanks to Marsha J for being the inspiration behind this post!

During my early natural days, I would get really nervous when it was time for me to attend a formal event.  I had to deal with my own apprehension of whether I could wear a fancy hairstyle without straightening my hair and I had to deal with people asking me, "what are you going to do with your hair?" So I guess I felt I had to do something really special for my hair to be presentable for the evening.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Brothers and Our Hair

Stretched Fro for the party
Last night, I went to a house party with a friend.  Earlier that day, I wore my hair up and by the evening I was getting a headache, so I decided to take it down and wear a stretched fro to the party.  From my experience, my twistouts and pulled-up styles get the most favorable reaction, but I generally don't get many compliments on my fro styles from the average guy.  I get more stares and people shaking their head as if I really need to DO something with my hair.  It's only the deep brother that will express appreciation for seeing me embrace my natural roots when wearing fro styles, so I really wasn't expecting much of a positive reaction when I walked into the party.  However, when I walked in, the guys instantly began complimenting me on my hair, my style and my vibe.  They were actually impressed . . . hmmmm . . . interesting.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Let's Talk About the "N" Word

Taken in 2009
Are you offended when someone refers to your hair as "nappy" or are you one of those "happy to be nappy" folks?

Personally, I don't necessarily embrace the word although I love my "My Hair is Nappy My Life is Straight" t-shirt.  I embrace that shirt primarily because of the message it sends.  People tend to think that wearing your hair naturally is supposed to complicate your life, so I love the powerful message of the shirt, which plays on the word "nappy."  

There's no doubting the power in the texture
I also understand that many people do not intend to be offensive, but use the word to describe the 4 a/b/c texture.  Some naturals who chose to avoid the word, use "kinky," "curly," or "coily" to describe this texture.  However, I recognize that a lot of non-natural people would not recognize my texture as "curly" (they probably would laugh at the thought!) and coily is a word that was introduced to me by the natural hair community, so I'm sure they wouldn't use that word either. Additionally, "kinky" is often used to describe "kinky twists," which I'm not wearing, so what's left?  Nappy.  When my mother talks about nappy hair, she's referring to the texture and that's the only way she knows how to describe it.  How can I get mad at that especially when that was how I used to describe my own hair?  Now, I can give my mother a list of PC words to use in place of "nappy," but I don't feel the need.  I understand what she means and I take that approach with others who use the word to describe the texture.

On the other hand, there are people who use the word in an offensive way and follow it up with a strong suggestion for you to straighten or relax it.  I'm not a fan of combating ignorance with ignorance, so unless that person catches me at a bad time, then I try to be sophisticated and strong and let them know that I love my hair as is and have no intentions of changing it.  With that said, I'm human, so if they catch me at a bad time, then they get what they get!  LOL

What are your thoughts on the word "nappy"?  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Answering Your Natural Hair Questions - Thanks for Asking!

You ladies are the best! You've sent me messages with so many questions and I want to answer them all, so this is my attempt.  First, here's my disclaimer - All of my responses are based on my own personal experiences.  Other than that, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing (lol)  I learned everything through trial and error and I can only tell you what has worked for me, so here goes!

Taken during my first year wearing my hair naturally
How long have you been natural?
I been wearing my hair naturally for 3 years and 2 months (at this point), but I transitioned for 2 years.  I always mention the transition time so you'll know that this is basically 5 years worth of natural hair, but I have only been working with my natural texture for 3 years.

Protective style with large twists
Do you believe protective styles grow natural hair? 
Protective style with small twists
Growth and retention is important if you want long hair.  I believe some protective styles help with retention, but I don't see a connection to growth.  I believe growth is based more on genetics and what you put into your body and retention is more closely connected to what you put on your hair and your styling methods.  Also, all protective styles are not created equal.  Conceptually, I have a hard time seeing how weaves and braids are healthy protective styles because our hair is naturally dry and I can't see how you can adequately moisturize your hair in these styles.  However, if they work for you, then I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Personally, when wearing protective styles, I opt for twists, which I can wear down, pinned up, or wear in a clip or french roll if I want to protect my ends.

Do you wear protective styles or do you wear your hair out a lot? Do you change styles often?
I only wear my hair in protective styles when I see the need.  For me, that's mostly during the brutal Chicago winters.  I'll wear my hair in twists, which allows me to keep my hair moisturized and wear my wool caps . . . after covering my twists with a satin scarf of course.

I'll also wear twists when my schedule gets really busy and I know I won't have time to deal with my hair or when I get really frustrated and tired of the daily maintenance.  During those times, I guess I'm protecting my hair from me!

Other than that, I wear it out most of the time because I like the big hair look.  I wear the same basic styles (twists, twistouts, puffs) and my favorite is a big twistout.  I change the look by adding fun accessories, alternating the size of the twists and alternating between the regular styles and updos.  The environment does its part in helping me change the look by adding elements like wind, humidity and rain :-)

Every once in a while, I get creative and try something fun to get rid of the boredom and add a little excitement.  I don't have a lot of creative ideas nor the stying skills to do a lot with the front, so the front looks the same, but I altered the back.

This is the style I wear when I get bored and want 
something a little different
Here, the back is just a big twistout with part of it
clipped up

Same look with an afro puff at the top
Same look with a pulled up twistout at the top.  I made this
twistout from smaller twists for a more defined look.
I like showing these pictures in sequence because it shows how much you can do with the same basic style :-)

What are your tips for handling breakage?
I believe some breakage is normal.  From what I understand, every twist and curve is a potential breaking point (I've actually noticed some splits in the middle of a curve, so I believe this is true).  Since our hair is full of twists and curves, then I believe it's not possible to avoid breakage entirely, but of course you want to minimize it to retain as much length as possible and keep your hair healthy.  

Inspect your hair and figure out why it's breaking.  Are those strands damaged?  If so, you need to trim.  Is your hair dry? Maybe you need to change your moisturizing product or your moisturizing technique.  Unless my hair is in twists, I moisturize every day.  With the twists, I try to remember to apply oil to my ends at least every other day.  If none of those things are the reason for your breakage, then maybe you're handling your hair too roughly.  I read somewhere that you should treat your hair like fine silk.  The tighter the curl pattern, the truer the statement.

I also suggest avoiding (or minimizing) styles that are "tangle monsters" - any fro style and wash and gos - especially if your hair is long and you have 4a/b/c/ texture.  

Of all my pics, this one has gotten the most love,
but you can easily see that this is a true "tangle monster"

Wear sparingly to avoid tangling
and unnecessary damage
My most dynamic pictures are of fro styles and although I love the look, I rarely wear them because I have to deal with lots of tangles and knots afterwards and if I wear them often, I won't have enough hair to produce that dynamic look LOL.  

Detangle as gently as possible and only when you have time to tackle the job so you don't rip through your hair in haste.  Always dry your hair in a stretched position (twists, braids, plaits, etc) to minimize tangles.   

You have a lot of hair. What is your secret?
I try to do everything I think is healthy for my hair, so I don't know what specific things to attribute to the growth.  I think it has a lot to do with handling my hair with care (see my detangling method below) and avoiding heat - I haven't straighten my hair or used a blowdryer in 3 years.  When I wore perms, my hair came to my shoulders and I thought that was as long as it would grow.  Now my hair reaches my shoulder blades when stretched.

Not bad for length especially since my longest hair is at the top
Focus on width, not length
I know some naturals realize their hair is growing and they want to straighten it to see how long it is.  Personally, I say - don't be obsessed with hair length.  Make a mental change - focus on width, not length.  The width you can clearly see without the assistance of heat.  What's ironic about it is the more you straighten it to see the length, the less length you'll have to see.  Talk about a cycle!

Do you use a specific detangler after you wash your hair?  Do you use a specific detangling brush?
No and no.  I recently started detangling on slightly damp hair loaded with coconut oil before washing.  I got the idea from watching African Export on youtube.  She detangles on dry hair loaded with conditioner and she uses a comb.  I modified her approach to fit what I think works best for me.  I spray my hair with a little water, load it down with coconut oil and use the best detangling tool known to man - my fingers! This approach works best if I kept my hair in a twisted style or kept my hair stretched by re-twisting each night.  Also, I started using my fingers to detangle about 2 or 3 months ago when I noticed some damaged for which I blamed the comb!

After I detangle, I put my hair in large twists.

What is your washing method?
I change my method often.  Currently, I have two different methods and which one I use depends on how much detangling I need to do.  If I need to work out a lot of tangles, I use my two day approach.  I detangle as stated above at night, cover my twisted hair with a plastic cap,wrap a scarf around it, cover my pillow with a towel (just in case the oil leaks) and call it a night.  The next day, I wash my hair with it in twists, untwist, apply my conditioner, sit under my hair steamer for about 20 minutes, spritze with my Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse, rinse each twist under cool water, untwist, apply my leave-in conditioner and styling product and style.

If it's not very tangled, I'll handle everything in one day. I may opt to use my Aubrey Organics conditioner to finger detangle on dry hair, put in large twists, sit with a heatcap for 20 minutes wash and continue the process as stated above.  

Why the different methods?  I feel like I detangle better with oil, so that's the best approach when I have to work out a lot of tangles.  However, I love my Aubrey Organics conditioner and with this product, you're supposed to deep condition on dry hair so that's my happy medium.  Also, the 2 day approach works best for me when I have to work out quite a few tangles because I'll get tired and frustrated with the amount of hair I have to deal with which isn't good for my hair or anybody around me ;-)

I usually wash my hair every two weeks.  

Do you go to a hairstylist or natural hairstylist?
I've never been to a natural hairstylist and I haven't been to a hairstylist in 3 years for a few reasons:

  • From my experience, hairstylist do not handle my hair gently.  Since I know my hair is fragile, I rather handle it myself with the ultimate TLC.
  • The only hairstyle I know of that will last any period of time is twists and I can do that myself.
  • I need to learn how to care for my hair and I think the best way of doing that is dealing with my own hair.

What do you do with your hair when you're working out?
Tie it up in a scarf so that none of my hair is touching the back of my neck or my forehead.  I don't sweat a lot and even during my most intense workout sessions, it's not my head that's sweating, but that may be too much information (lol), but my point is I don't see the need to wash my hair after every work out and the reality of it, is I don't have that kind of time.  Since I'm not noticing any damaging effects from my current routine, I'm sticking with it for a while.

What shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer do you use?
Over the past 3 years, the only product that I have consistently used is my Rosewater spritz with Rosemary and Basil EO added (maybe that's the growth serum!).  I add vegetable glycerin to this mixture during the warm humid months.  For the other products, I like Carols Daughter Rosemary Mint Shampoo, any Aubrey Organics Conditioner (Jojoba and Aloe Desert Herb is my favorite), and Jane Carter Conditioner and any Alba Conditioner.  I've also started using Qhemets Amla and Olive Heavy Cream (use sparingly to avoid a greasy feeling) and their Olive and Honey Hydrating Balm for my twists.  

BTW - I recently watched a youtube video on PH balances.  My test strips are in the mail, so I may adjust my products depending on what I find out.  If you haven't checked out kimmaytube, then it's a must.  Kim Love is behind kimmaytube and she has a video series that discusses the structure of hair and PH balances.  Those videos have definitely changed the way I look at my products.

Do you mix any of your own products?
A few. I have my rosewater mixture I referenced above and I mix a few oils together for whenever I want to use oil.  I hesitate to give my recipes because they are not based on anything but a whim, but here's my current oil mixture:

2 tablespoons of Jojoba Oil
1 teaspoon of Castor Oil
1/4 teaspoon of Vitamin E Oil
6 - 8 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
6 - 8 drops of Basil Essential Oil
I can't say this mixture is responsible for anything since I just started using it a couple of months ago, but I like it and this is what I'm using right now.  

I also mix my leave-in conditioner, but I use a recipe that was recommended to me by a fellow natural and it's also used by Kim Love.  The ACV rinse is from Kim Love too.

Leave in mixture:
  • 2 tablespoons of Kinky Curly Knot Today (I use my Alba Leave-In)
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera juice
  • 2 teaspoons of jojoba oil
  • 2 teaspoons of castor oil

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse
4 oz of distilled water with 1/4 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

Twistout from large twists

Look at how loose the curl pattern is -
Since I retwist each night, detangling
this will be easy when I wash.
What's your daily hair regimen? 
I usually wear twistouts made from large twists.  When I'm wearing this style, I'll spritz my hair with my rosewater mixture each night and retwist.  I may add a little oil or Olive & Honey Hydrating Balm (OHHB) to each section before I twist.  I won't use the OHHB, too often though because it contains vegetable glycerin and although that's great for moisturizing during humid weather, it also softens my hair to the point where it won't hold my twistout look!  I'll have a fro by the end of the day.  If I'm wearing twists, I'll add oil to the ends at least once every two days.  If my twists are large, at the end of the week, I may take them down, spritz with my rosewater mixture, apply a little oil or one of my other styling products and retwist.

Do you trim your hair? If so, how and how often? 
Yes, but I don't believe in trimming based on a schedule.  I trim based on a need.  When my ends feel raggedy or they are very thin, I trim.  I trim by stretching the section after detangling and clipping the ends.  I don't worry so much about whether it's even since I don't intend to straighten it.  I also occasionally inspect my hair and trim where I see damage (search and destroy method).  Remember I said every twist and curve is a potential breaking point?  Well, I noticed that I sometimes find splits that are a third or two-thirds up the strand.  A trim will not get those and I'm not willing to cut that much hair to try to get those few random strands.  Also, inspecting my hair allows me to see what kind of shape it's in and helps me determine if I need to make any adjustments in my styling routine.

Whew!  Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?  Well, looking at the growth of my hair from 3 years to now, tells me that I'm doing something right.  So if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Also, I developed my routine over the years as I made adjustments based on what was working and what wasn't.  There were some things I initially said I wouldn't do - like finger detangle - and now that's what I'm doing because I think it's a gentler approach that will help me with retention.  

Any other questions?  Please post them.  Thanks!

~Loving Me Naturally

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Naturals Benefiting from "Straight Privilege"

I read and responded to a discussion on Facebook from Kinky Curly Coily Me (KCCM) regarding how you feel when you see a woman who is natural but "masks" her true texture.  I had a lot more to say, so I'm carrying the discussion over to my blog.  Thanks KCCM for the inspiration!

First, I have to say that it's a woman's choice to wear her hair in anyway she chooses.  I'm not a natural hair advocate for those who are not interested in wearing their hair natural.  However, it does rub me the wrong way when someone comes over to me and say "Hey - I'm natural too!" and I look at them and cannot tell that they are natural.  This is because her hair is straight as a pin, it's tucked away under a weave or consumed by extensions.  If you're wearing your hair in a protective style or you occasionally straighten it, then I'm not specifically talking about you because your "unnatural" look is temporary, but if that's the way you always wear your hair, then here's my five cents on the topic (cuz you know I have more than two - lol).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Natural Hair - Fad or Paradigm Shift?

With my mom & aunt proudly sporting their TWAs

"Don't remove the kinks from your hair.  Remove them from your brain." ~Marcus Garvey

I believe there are people who are jumping on the bandwagon because natural hair is such a big thing right now.  However, I believe that this is bigger than just a passing fad.  I believe we are fortunate enough to be witnessing a paradigm shift.  For the first time, many of us are experiencing our hair in it's natural state and realizing that everything we were led to believe was wrong.  We are realizing that we can wear beautiful hair styles without the assistance of hot combs, chemicals and weaves.  We thought that Corporate America was not ready to embrace our coils, but we now realize that natural hair can be professionally styled and not hinder our career progression (although some are still debating this point).  We are finding out that men generally do not shy away from natural hair and that many are drawn to it.  We see our confidence hitting an all time high and we are forming strong relationships with our fellow natural sisters, transitioning sisters and naturally curious sisters.  We are not making political or fashion statements.  We are learning to love ourselves naturally and we're spreading the knowledge!

I remember the first time I wore a fro.  It quickly went from a proud moment to a traumatic experience for me.  I started the day with a few of my fellow natural sisters and they made me feel so good about my hair that I felt like a queen.  Moments later, I went to visit my family and it only took a few seconds for them to break me down.  I was met with hysterical laughter, comments about how nappy my hair was and questions of when I would straighten it.  I knew my family meant no harm and I had shocked them with my new do, but I had to admit that their reaction did hurt.  It was a long time before I wore a fro again, but I experimented with other natural styles.  Over time, my family's reaction changed.  They were surprised at how soft my hair was and amazed at all the beautiful natural hairstyles I wore.  My mother was shocked at how thick and healthy my hair was and she began asking questions and telling other people about my hair.  Now my mother and my aunt (her sister) are both natural.  It took my mother awhile to embrace the natural look and she wore hats for a few months after the big chop - bless her heart!  But now she openly wears her TWA.  On the other hand, my aunt embraced her new natural look right away! My aunt's walk changed to a strut.  She grew a couple of inches because she stretched her neck up so high (lol).  She even had a sparkle in her eyes I didn't remember seeing before.  She loved her new TWA and she received lots of compliments!  I know for my mother and aunt, this was definitely a paradigm shift and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.

My grandma, lovingly known as "Mama Lizzie"
She may be 100 years old, but she's a progressive thinker!

The other story I have to share is the first time my grandmother saw my natural hair.  I was wearing an afro puff at the time.  She asked me to come over so she could see my hair.  I was a little nervous because of the way my family reacted to my afro and my grandma always had silky hair that hung down her back without any heat or chemicals, so I thought she wouldn't understand or like my new hairstyle.  Also, she was born in 1911 in the deep south, so I knew she had to have a negative opinion of natural hair, but when I bent over so she could see and touch my hair, she said "Beautiful.  Just beautiful."  What a moment!  Don't let that sweet smile fool you.  Mama Lizzie holds her tongue for no one, so I knew she meant those three beautiful words and that made it extra special for me!

Not every is as progressive as Mama Lizzie and a paradigm shift does not happen instantly.

If you are struggling to embrace your natural hair, hang in there.  If your family or closest friends are not accepting your natural hair, be patient.  If someone tells you negative things about your hair, don't worry.  They may still be a part of the old mindset.  We all know that may only take 20 - 30 minutes to remove kinks from your hair, but it takes a lot longer to remove them from your brain.  Stay strong - it gets better and you never know who may follow your example :-)

~Loving Me Naturally

Monday, February 21, 2011

Invent Yourself or Be Invented

"Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily.  If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented.  So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise." ~Maya Angelou

When I watch documentaries showing the damage we often do to our hair through the use of chemicals, excessive heat, weaves, extensions, etc., I have to admit that I feel embarrassed.  If I hadn't experienced what I experienced growing up, I would look at those documentaries and think: "those women are crazy!" However, that used to be me.  I was at the shop every 6 weeks getting my touch up and enduring the scalp burns so the relaxer could stay on long enough to get my hair silky straight.  I've lost hair around my edges from having my braids too tight and I even had several microbraids come out by the roots for God knows what reason.  Never during that time, did I ever question why I put myself through that.  My tortuous hair maintenance routine was as normal as brushing my teeth and washing my face.  It was a necessity, not an option . . . so I thought.

Could it be that since I hadn't invented myself, I was invented?  Since I had no vision for myself, I went along with society's ideology of how I was supposed to look.  I used my peers, fashion magazines and celebrities as guides to determine what look was "hot" and I emulated those styles regardless of whether I truly liked the style or not.  

I think back to a pair of pants I had when I was a teen-ager.  I called them my Indonesian pants because they had a tag inside, which said "Made in Indonesia."  They were a rather odd pair of pants and it even took me some time to figure out how to put them on.  Regardless, I loved those pants, but I often felt strange wearing them because they didn't look like anything I saw anyone else wearing, so I would only wear them when I knew I would be staying close to home.  I guess at that time, I wasn't bodacious enough to invent myself and I felt embarrassed to go against the norm.  

Over the years, I've become more aware of how I've been influenced by others.  In the past, I've made decisions based off of what I was "supposed" to do, what was expected of me or what others wanted for me. Once I realized that, I began making a conscious effort to understand what it was that I truly want for myself.  If I had no other outside influence, what would I want to do?  Once I had the answer to that question, then I had the option of deciding whether I wanted input from others to help shape my point of view or if I wanted to make my decision without any outside influence. It's amazing that outside input can be so strong that it may be difficult to separate your thoughts from the thoughts you think are yours because they have been so deeply ingrained in you by the images you see and the conversations you have daily.  However, once you're able to identify and separate your thoughts from the thoughts of others, you are now empowered to know your true self and you're on the path of inventing yourself and what a wonderful feeling that is!! It's a happier life when you know who you are and you're being true to yourself and not trying to fit into a box someone designed for you.

I love that thought-provoking quote by Maya Angelou.  I also love that she mentions inventing ourselves daily.  Generally speaking, I think we are notorious for calling people "sell-outs" and thinking that we're at a higher level than someone else when we reach various stages of enlightenment.  How ridiculous is that?!  I am constantly evolving and growing and the person that I am today will change in the years to come.  I can't see ever wearing my hair straight again, but that's where I am right now.  Years ago, I couldn't imagine wearing my hair naturally, so who knows what the future may hold and how I may chose to invent myself in the future?  However, one thing I do know - everyone may not agree with how I have invented myself and how I will invent myself, but that's okay because now I'm b o d a c i o u s enough to be true to me

~Loving Me Naturally

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beautiful Black Women - Wear Your Crown of Glory

If I was not black and I had naturally curly hair, would you question whether my naturally curly hair would be appropriate for the workplace?  Would you question whether my hair texture would hinder my career?

If I was qualified for a job, but the company didn't want to hire me because of my hair texture, wouldn't I want to know this before accepting the job?  If so, why would I want to disguise my texture to get the job and then reveal my true identity afterwards?   Why would I fear showing them what God has creatively designed?

If I were any other ethnicity with naturally curly hair, would you assume that I was making a political statement for wearing my hair the way it naturally grows?  Would you assume that I was from some far away place or I'm intensely in touch with my roots?  

Would you ask me to alter my texture before I could be in your wedding?  
          Before I could attend your formal event?  
                    Before you introduce me to your family?
                              Before we go out on a date?

Beautiful black women wear a crown of glory.  There is nothing shameful about it.  It does not need to be explained, excused or hidden.  Any questions?

"Those that don't got it, can't show it.  Those that got it, can't hide it." ~Zora Neale Hurston

~Loving Me Naturally

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Could it be that the Comb is not for Me?

Cree Summer played Freddie Brooks
on A Different World
(90s Sitcom)

I used to love A Different World back in the day.  Remember the episode when Freddie was going to get a professional job and she was running from Jaleesa who was chasing her with a comb?  LOL!  Ha - Maybe Freddie was on to something!  I've decided to ditch my combs and let my fingers work their magic.  Since going natural, I've always had a problem with the comb.  Every twist and curve in our hair is a potential breaking point, so I had a hard time understanding how it was possible to detangle without damage.  I did what everyone recommended: drenched my hair with water, loaded it with conditioner and detangled with a wide tooth comb.  I even used the apple cider vinegar rinse to close the cuticles before combing.  I did not lose a lot of hair during the detangling process unless I was wearing an afro or some other tangling nightmare type of hairstyle, so I can't say that process didn't work.  However, I did have a lot of shed strands getting tied up with some of the other strands.  They would form a knot and I would have to cut them.  I didn't mind cutting them, but I was starting to get annoyed with the time it took to separate those two strands and find the place where the hair needed to be cut when there were so many of them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Elevating My Mind & Changing My Perspective on Natural Hair

Picture by Triple L Photography

"A man who views the world the same way at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life." That's one of my favorite quotes by Muhammad Ali.  I would modify it slightly and say that if you view the world the same way this year as you did last year, then you've wasted a year of your life.  Your experiences help shape the person you are and the person you will become, so I think it's important to always think about your experiences and evaluate what is going well and what needs to change.  My manager and I go through this every year as we discuss how my performance measured against my goals and we set goals for the following year.  I also go through a similar process personally as I evaluate my life, career path, relationships and finances on an annual basis.  Each year, I become a different person and I view the world differently.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My 5 Day Experiment with a Simple Style for Long Hair

My hair was never this long when I wore it straight
I really try to wear protective styles during the winter, but my options are limited because I can't braid well, I don't want to wear weaves or extensions and putting my hair in small twists is an undesired all day project.  During the holidays, I had a little downtime and that was just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing.

Ideally I needed my style to be: 
  • Protective - Chicago winters are brutal.
  • Versatile - I can't imagine wearing my hair the same way everyday.
  • Quick - I love my hair, but there are only so many hours in the day and I need to be more productive with my time. 
  • Long-lasting and neat - I'm not interested in washing more than once every two weeks, so I need a style that will last and will be neat.  If I need to do a touch up, it needs to be a simple process.
  • Simple - I'm not a hairstylist and braiding is not an option.
  • Professional - None of the above matters if I can't wear the style to work
Now that I identified my criteria, I needed to find a hairstyle that would work.  My first question was how can I use my length and thickness to my advantage?  I instantly thought about goddess braids.  Since I don't braid, I decided to play around with large twists to create some kind of updo similar to a goddess braid style.  Variation is important, so each day of this past week, I tried to do something a little different with the style to see if this was really going to work.

I forgot to take a before picture on Monday,
so this was actually taken on Tuesday.
The starting point is the same each day.
After I washed and detangled, I put my hair into 18 large twists.  Why 18?  Well, I initially started with 10 twists, but they were too large to style neatly, which was one of the criteria, so I had to adjust.  I guess I was being overly ambitious :-)  In the front, I had 4 twists on each side.  In the bottom back row, I created 4 twists and I created two rows above that with 3 in each row.  This became my starting point for my styling experiment.

4 twists in the bottom row; 3 twists in each of the
2 rows above that

I like the front better than the back
Monday - My first thought was to gather my twists in some kind of a french roll using several large bobby pins.  It was a little difficult to get the roll nice and neat, so I slapped this decorative thing on top of it (I forgot what that comb is called).  Now it's just a decorative and messy bundle of twists.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but I'm getting ready for work, so I can't spend a lot of time with it (remember quick was a criteria).  I'm wearing a turtle neck on this day, so I wanted to secure the back section of my hair.  I tucked that section under with a bobby pin and although this wasn't the best look, it was going to have to do for that day.

Not what I had in mind, but this can get better with practice

Warning - I lost approximately an inch and a half of hair in the back due to damage.  I'm not exactly sure what caused it, but I seriously think that my hair rubbing against my turtlenecks was a HUGE part of the problem if not the sole cause of the problem.  I absolutely love turtlenecks in the winter, but since the bottom half of my hair looked like it had been through a shredder, I think the turtlenecks and wool sweaters took its toll.  So it's important to not only protect your hair from the weather, but from your clothes as well.

I love coordinating clothes & accessories

Tuesday - All day Monday, I felt like a blob cuz I wasn't very happy with the results of my style.  I wanted to jazz it up, so I could have a better day.  I had to come up with another way to pin up my hair since I didn't like the french roll as much as I thought I would (I'll revisit that later when I have more time and patience) and I didn't like the way my ends at the bottom looked tucked under.  So this time, I pulled my hair up in sections and did a series of pin curls making sure all of my ends were secure and tucked under the twists and that the bobby pins were not visible.  I also untwisted the bottom 4 twists for a twistout.  I intentionally picked a sweater with a lower neckline, so I wouldn't need to worry so much about my hair rubbing against it (although it did a little), but it wasn't a wool top so hopefully, it didn't cause a problem.  Besides, if my hair can't touch any fabric at all, then it's not worth having!

You see that crooked part? I need to clean this side up a little.
I'm a big fan of finger parting, but I know I can do better.
I'll fix it this weekend.
To console myself after having my not-so-great hair day, I decided to raid my closet for some color.  There's no better feeling than going from drab winter colors to a bright cheery color!  I even found some chopsticks I forgot I had that went very well with my top and jewelry.  I'm feeling much better about this style.  I think this may be a keeper!

With the exception of the puffy party, I think this was pretty good

I can be a little overly critical at times, but I wasn't too excited about that puffy section above my twistout.  The only way to avoid this would be to either add more twists or to flat twist this section.  It's not that serious to me, so I'll just have to get over it.

Simple and clean look in the front. Perfect for the office.
Wednesday - If it ain't broke, don't fix it, so I stayed with my pin curling technique, but I'm back to wearing a turtle neck, so I want to secure my ends.  This time, instead of tucking them under, I pulled them up using the same pin curling technique I used at the top.  Oh yeah, now I'm getting the hang of this!  

My olive flower pin was another treasure I had in my stash waiting for an opportunity to flourish.  Today was the day!

There's a lot going on back here, but I LOVE it!

Amazing what a clip can do!

Thursday - Same pin tucks at the top.  I inserted some brown chopsticks and I found this clip that went perfectly with the sticks.  I love shopping in my own supply of accessories!  Anyway, when I pulled the twists together in the clip, it allowed me to tuck the ends under in a way that I thought was cute.  This was much neater than my original tuck under on Monday and having the clip there makes my none twisted section (the puffy part) above the clip look better too.  Oh boy!  This style keeps getting better!

Option 2

You could wear this style with the twists tucked under or leave those twists out.  You know I'm all about variety with little additional work ;-)

Ignore the head and check out the hair :-)

Friday - You know I must have been feeling good at this point because I almost never face the camera when taking a picture of myself.  It may be all in my mind, but I think it makes my head look distorted.  Anyway, nothing different here.  This is the same style I did on Tuesday, I just used flowers instead of chopsticks and you'll notice that the twistout at the bottom is looser than it was on Tuesday, which I think looks better.  It's amazing how much the accessories compliment the styles and add variety to the same styling method.  Guess you know what I'll be doing this weekend!

I surprised myself with this one!

I should also mention that each night, I unpinned the twists and wore a satin scarf to bed.  Probably 2 or 3 of those nights, I lightly spritz my hair with rose water and put a little oil on the ends.  Each morning, I only spent about 10 minutes pinning my hair up neatly.   I will probably get faster with a little more experience, but 10 minutes isn't bad.  This weekend, I will take the twists down, spritz them with a little rosewater and apply a little coconut oil before retwisting them backing into my starting point style.  I'm doing this because I want a fresh start to next week and I won't wash it until next weekend.  This weekend, I'll also stop by a few stores and look for some more fun accessories :-)

Thanks for letting me share my week of experimenting with you.  I hope you find this useful.  Please post a comment and let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.  You can also post questions or send me a message.  

~Loving Me Naturally