Self-Love: Hair

“Beauty is not something to be dressed up. The Gods have done that. So keep it simple and let it shine all on its own.” -Eartha Kitt

Source: bglhonline.com

My hair is an expression of my soul.  Elegant, funky, soft-spoken, spontaneous.  It should be as versatile and unique as I am.  It is also a direct link to my mood and my self-image.  If my hair is radiant and healthy, I am in a good mood and everything seems to be going right.  If my hair is thin and lame, I don’t feel attractive or good about myself.

For seven years I permed my hair.  I did not hate my natural curls, I just felt it would be easier to handle if it was straight. As I progressed through middle school and high school, my hair went from thick and luscious to limp and stiff.  I did not live in a “diverse” community, so I could only get a professional touch up done when my family and I went out of town.  Twice it had to be cut short due to over-processed issues.  Inevitably, my hair was usually in a bun or up in a clip.  It looked neat, but never exactly what I wanted.  I had contemplated going natural during my junior and senior year of high school, but usually put it off.  It just did not seem realistic.

Source: bglhonline.com

During my first year in college I was blessed to meet a hair goddess.  My permed hair had never looked so long, so thick, so beautiful.  It grew from above my shoulders to beyond my shoulders in one year!  Her salon was so beautiful and calm…and so close to campus.  It was always a treat to get my hair and eyebrows done there.  Of course, my thoughts of going natural went out the window.

During my second year of college, I transferred to a different university in the north (my first college was in the south).  It was very difficult to replace my hair goddess.  After being ripped-off several times with unsatisfactory results, I resorted to braids.  In March of 2010 I took the braids out and had a touch up done.  After returning to school from spring break, I began doing research on going natural.  There are so many blogs and resources online!  In May of 2010 I decided to start my natural journey.  My mother had a lot of books about transitioning, caring for natural hair, etc. (she is an avid reader) and I absorbed all of them.  I started my own Hair calendar to track my progress and began collecting images of hair styles with braids, cornrows, twists, afros….such beauty.  March 2010 was my last perm.  I am currently still transitioning with braids and have yet to do the big chop.  My hair has been growing quite well and I think I will be ready to cut off my permed ends this spring (2011).  This has been a very exciting journey.  Of course, technically, it has barely begun.  For I still need to discover, experiment, and master the different ways to care for my hair, style my hair, and love MY hair.

Chapter Two – The Big Chop

Two weeks before spring break, it was finally time to take out my last individual-braid-style.  It took me about a week to unravel everything…doing about three or four rows every night.  Took me about an hour to wash it…I forgot how thick and abundant my hair was.  Looking at my hair in the mirror, I could not help but jump for joy.  One year of patience, anxiety, doubt, and support seemed to finally bring results.

On Wednesday, March 16, 2011, I went to Zayd’s Naturally Natural Hair Studio. (which I must dedicate a post to because they are fabulous)  Sitting on a light orange couch surrounded by snapshots of natural styles ranging from dread locks, cornrows, twists, and afro, it finally sunk in that I was about to do the big chop.  Anthony Hamilton was singing in the background, one sista was getting her locks colored, another sista was getting her fro trimmed and shaped.  The studio was spacious with a calm and creative atmosphere. There were large sketch portraits of women with afros and dreadlocks. The walls were painted light brown with details of bamboo and vines – a relaxing, earthy feeling.

The owner/stylist – Shawna Farooq-Judson – approached me and asked me if I was ready.  Excited and nervous, I said “yes.”  She washed and conditioned my hair quickly, then patted it dry with a towel.  Then she sat me in the salon chair and started rummaging in a drawer.  Then she took out…the scissors. In the mirror I could see my curls resembling a big sponge and my permed ends limping like worms.  As my excitement overcame my nerves, she finished cutting and announced “your natural.”  I was beaming from ear to ear.  To add some natural pizzaz to my new afro, the braid stylist – Wendy Mthembu – created a cornrow design on the right side of my head. We did five cornrows – three zig-zag and two straight. My big chop episode was completed.  It was a very calm and happy experience.

Investing so much time and effort for a future result that is somewhat unknown, one feels victorious when you like what you see at the other end.  In the midst of my self-evolution, this accomplishment is one of the biggest feats I have ever undertaken…which opens the door for even greater things to come.

Transition: March 2010 - March 2011.

Even though my blog and opinions promote and praise natural hair, I do not look down on women who choose to continue to relax their hair or wear various kinds of extensions. (Believe it or not, but the permed image above was all of my hair – no weave/wig)  I do believe natural hair is a healthier lifestyle and would encourage anyone who is open to this choice to pursue it.  However, I feel that beauty is what we define for ourselves.  Regardless if you express yourself through bold locks, bright waves, loud spikes, or little buns, you are beautiful.  If you feel confident and radiant inside and out and don’t need anyone else’s approval….then work it girl!!

For those of you who are still contemplating whether or not to cut your hair and rock your “natural,” send me a message or comment here.  Let’s have a conversation.  I’m not a licensed expert, but with all the research I have done and with my experience, I might be able to help or encourage you.  A knowledgable decision makes life a little easier.

Now that phase 1 is complete, I move on to the next level.  Phase 2: product experiments; self-braiding practice; cornrow design showcase.

Chapter Three – Maintenance

It has been about two and a half months since the last chapter.  Wearing an afro most of the time and decorating or styling it in different ways, I am enjoying every moment of it.  My hair seems to wake up as a different character every morning.  I have self-categorized it as 4a, since I have coils – not curls.  However, I have not experienced any difficulty with growing it or excessive dryness.  On the contrary – compared to other “4 heads” who complain about its thickness or incapability to style it – my hair always has a certain bounce to it, with a soft thickness.  It actually seems more cooperative than when it was straight.  My hair has also acquired a fan club, but that is for another chapter.  I am still thinking of a name to give my texture because “4a” just doesn’t seem to give it justice…I will keep you posted on my progress.

I have experimented with a few products and regimens.  I am pretty satisfied with what I have created thus far.  I still want to try those recipes one can make in the kitchen, but that is for a later date.  For now, I use a mixture of Wen and Carol’s Daughter to wash my hair.  I wash it about every two weeks.  I divide my hair into four big braids.  Initially, I would wash it with Wen, then wash it with Carol’s Daughter Tui shampoo, then condition it with Carol’s Daughter Tui Smoothie.  I found that the Tui shampoo left my hair feeling dry, so I switched to just using Wen and Tui Smoothie.  I also use a comb with the conditioner.  To dry it, I unravel one section, apply Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter, blow dry it on low with two strokes, and re-braid that section.  I do that to each section then let the rest air dry.  This worked when I was in Washington, DC, but now that I am back in Texas I had to change some of my routine.  Due to the heat, I now use Organic Root Stimulator Shea Butter Lotion to dry it.  Every night I use the Shea Butter Lotion and a wide tooth comb to braid my hair.  Depending on how big or fluffy I want my hair the next day, I either do four braids or twelve braids.  In the mornings, I unravel the braids, spray it with Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Sheen, and use my afro-pick to comb it out.  Caring for natural hair takes a lot more effort and time than any other texture, in my opinion.  I find it quite fascinating because the extra time seems to reinforce a certain bond.  It is as if my hair and I get further acquainted with every wash, style, care, and touch.  I have grown to really love my texture.

Something I have been looking for but yet to find is a real afro pick.  I wanted to mark this moment by purchasing a wooden afro pick with an engraved handle.  I am shocked at how difficult it is to find this.  Any hair supplies store I have been to, regardless of the color of the owner or the location, only have plastic picks and a few with the fist as the handle.  So if any of you know where I could find an elegant or afrocentric pick, please let me know.

 During the spring semester I played with a lot of flowers, bows, and combs.  Bobby pins are a must for any sort of up-do.  It was nice to go through each morning without having to hide my ends or puffy roots.  Instead, I would get a personal boost from how beautiful it looked.  However, one thing to realize about an afro – it becomes a magnet on windy days.  So many times my friends had to help me with leaves, twigs, and flowers that had taken root in my “bush.”  For the summer I have started a Scarf-Art affair, which has been a lot of fun.  I’m also practicing cornrows, but they have yet to reach the stage where I could wear them outside of the house.  My style has evolved again during this time and I believe it has been influenced by my hair.  Retro and bold jewelry has taken over my jewelry box.  My general accessories are now defined as funky sophistication.  In regards to my eating habits, they have not changed.  I am still trying to make exercise a habit, but I have yet to accomplish that.  Overall, I still feel good about my decision.

One thing I can definitely commend are youtube tutorials.  From styling my hair to how to tie a bow-tie, that resource is unlimited.  I am not a big follower of those journal videos that tell the story of how they cut their hair or how its growing or what they are using because a lot of them tend to be redundant.  On the other hand, I can easily spot a fellow fashionista and enjoy gaining inspiration within the realm of fabulosity.  So, phase 2 is still in session.

Chapter Four – Experiment Series

Summer 2011 – Scarf Art

What you will need:

– stiff rectangular scarf

– afro pick or comb

Instructions:

1. Moisturize, detangle, and comb your hair as if you are planning to wear your hair out

2. Hold your scarf from the ends and place middle at the back of your head; make sure all of your hair falls above the scarf

3. Pull ends of scarf to the front of your head and loop one under the other, as if you are about to tie your shoe; make sure all of your hair falls above the scarf

4.  The two ends should fall long in front of your face

5. Take the two ends and twist them together until the entire end seems like one strand; as you twist, it will start to curl up

6. Start curling the twisted end around the initial loop on your forehead; continue to curl it like the shape of a snail’s shell.

7. Once you get to the end of the scarf, tuck it in securely into the back of the circle you have created.

8. Take afro pick or comb and comb your hair into the shape you desire.

9. Voila! You can create the circle to the side or in the middle.  Scarves with some sort of design at the ends help make this design “pop.”

Coconut Oil

 I have added another ingredient to my regimen and – after a five month trial – I am ready to reveal my secret.

The ends of my afro were becoming brittle, regardless of how much conditioner or protective styles I used.  I figured I needed to add some other oil or moisturizer.  After googling a few ideas and chatting with a few fellow naturals, I decided to try coconut oil.  This was my first time using a product from a grocery store on my hair, so I was a little nervous.

I also googled how to use coconut oil for hair.  The tutorial I found instructed to oil  your hair and scalp and leave it in for a certain amount of time.  So, the first time I tried this, I washed my hair with my other products, then oiled my scalp and hair with coconut oil and left it in for about 30 minutes.  As I rinsed it out, my hair felt very thick and soft.  I dried it and braided it as I usually did.  The next day, my hair was about two shades blacker than normal.  My coils were very defined and soft.  The only downside was the greasy feeling.  My hair felt heavy.

I was determined to master this oil because I still had a very full jar of it and I had no intention to cook with it.  The next month, I oiled my scalp with the coconut oil and left it in for an hour.  Then I rinsed it out and washed my hair as usual.  The next day it was thick and bouncy again.  Bravo!  So I now do a deep-coconut-condition once a month.  Since I have not done anything else differently, I must credit my fast hair growth to the coconut oil.  I had put in individual braids at the beginning of the winter season expecting them to last three to four months as they normally do.  This time they only lasted two months, growing faster than anticipated.

I am very happy with my discovery and compatibility with coconut oil.  Regardless of your texture, I think coconut oil will bring some sort of benefit.  The main thing to remember – less is more than enough.

Hair Progress Check #1

(L-R: March 2010; May 2011; March 2012)

My hair anniversary is March 16th.  It marks the last time I had a perm and the day I did the Big Chop.  I have decided to take the advice of my fellow naturalists and not obsess over the rate of growth my hair experiences.  It was definitely something I worried about shortly after I cut it.  However, I continued to enjoy my new style and concentrate on mastering it.  I am very happy to see that something that I am doing is actually working.

Keeping Shape

Now that my hair is a bit longer, maintaining the shape of my afro has become a little difficult.  I now must do a lot of patting to keep the ball-effect.  I also noticed that I my ends seem transparent…if that makes sense.  I concluded that  I was in need of a trim.  I spent about two to three weeks in continuous up-dos looking for a place to get a professional trim.  Sadly, I did not come across anyone whom I felt I could trust with my hair.  Granted I have yet to sit in a salon chair since my Big Chop, which probably is the cause of my hesitancy.  As I was searching the internet, I came across a tutorial on how to trim your own hair.  I bookmarked it and went back to my salon searching.

After this unsuccessful search, I returned to the tutorial.  Today, 13/April/2012, I washed my hair, took out the scissors, and trimmed my afro.  It was not as scary as I thought it would be.  I admit that I was proud of myself.  I have taken another step closer to mastering my hair.

31 responses to “Self-Love: Hair

  1. yatundae

    Congratulati9ns!! You look absolutely fabulous. I don’t think many women of coor would be as brave to “chop” their hair especially after growing it so long as you had before. But you have demonstrated that you are not your hair. Your are a phenomenal sista and I am verh happy for you. God Bless

  2. Brunie

    You look absolutely amazing. I remember your beautiful, natural hair when you were my student years ago. I, along with Chryssy (my daughter) have been contemplating going natural for years. Chryssy is now making that transition. Don’t be surprised if she contacts you for advice and suggestions. Kuddos to you for loving the natural you and discovering your beauty. I am proud to say that i knew you and that i know you come from excellent “stock” and that your beauty lies from deep within.

    • You are his mommy and it’s your choice to keep his hair full or cut it, corn row it, lock it, weeahvtr dammit! Don’t let anyone else’s preconceived notions of what a boy’s hair “should” look like get to you.This child is beautiful anyway – hair or no!

    • Hair falls due to genetic rnoases, stress, pollution, thyroid imbalance, chemicals in hair styling products and lack of proper nutrition. Home remedies are cheap , natural and without any side effects. Some of the home remedies for treating hair fall are: 1.Apply the white of a raw egg on the hair for 30 minutes, and then wash it off with a shampoo. A mixture of lemon juice and egg white could also be used to strengthen the roots of hair. 2. Massage the head with oil for 15-20 minutes and then rinse with a shampoo. A hot oil massage with olive oil will also help.3.Apply a mixture of lemon juice and juice of amla to the scalp. This also helps control dandruff in the hair 4. Boil neem leaves in water for an hour and let it cool. Wash the hair with this water. Alternately neem oil can be mixed with coconut oil and massaged where there is hair fall5. The juice of fresh coriander can be massaged onto the scalp will reduce hair loss. 6. Ensure that you eat nutritious food, with plenty of leafy vegetables. Have a soya milk drink and multivitamin tablets if you do not have time to have a healthy breakfast.7. Apply conditioner only to your hair not to the scalp or hair roots. The conditioner could damage your hair. Henna (mehandi) will help control hair loss. 8.Try to reduce the stress and tension in your life, learn to relax. Stress causes hair loss.

  3. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back.

  4. ama brown

    just checked out your “from straight to natural” photos, you look stunning

    • Thank you! I’m really enjoying my hair. I know you have been natural for quite a while – it always looks so lovely (& was always on my inspiration list when I was considering going natural). Any tips or tricks you would like to share?

      • Gloria, if you’re interested in going nataurl, but still aren’t 100% sure, then I’d suggest starting by watching a lot of videos on youtube about care/maintenance and styling of nataurl hair. Some great channels that are sure to help you are kimmaytube, napptural85, SimplYounique, Sera2544. Then check out the blogs like curlynikki, nataurlly curly, and here ofcourse And don’t forget, you don’t have to do the BC

  5. I cannot remember ever being natural; all twenty something years of my life.(its a bit sad to even think of). Although i fear that i may shock everyone in my corporate environment, I have secretly wished to be natural. Reading your blog and speaking to my natural hair wearing friends, it seems like it takes time and money to get the natural beautiful look in your pictures:(. I have poem titled ‘why i love and hate my hair’.
    But your hair is beautiful, thank’s for sharing.
    ps:you should make your own elegant or afrocentric pick. I know i will buy one for my future natural hair.:)

    • Thank you wonderchi. The time and money factor is not as overwhelming as it might seem. The only real financial investment was my first natural salon visit to do the big chop and cornrows. The products I have purchased are not expensive and last quite a while. The time investment is a lot, but very beneficial. It is time spent with you and your hair exploring and discovering, not at a salon or waiting in line somewhere else. Thanks for the afro pick suggestion…I will look into it. Haha, maybe start a boutique!

    • Ok, I definitely supoprt people who wear their hair natural. I tried to wear it natural but I have a lot of hair and the only way I could wear it and have it look nice is if I cut it (my beautician told me this) but I love my hair so I could never do it. Plus, it’s a lot of work since my hair is really thick and it’s long My mom wears her hair natural and it’s beautiful and looks amazing on her. But I hate when people say to wear it any other way but natural is self-hating and it’s unnatural. So are white people who bleach their hair and curl it or straighten it everyday self-hating ? Or the term only apply to girls who wear weaves or perm their hair?i meant to say, it’s, well, unnatural Isn’t it unnatural for white girls to alter the look of their hair, too?White girls wear weaves too what do you call those clip-on things? That’s not real hair.A lot of white actresses wear weaves too!WINTER BLOSSOM you are the same girl who said that you don’t like when black women wear weaves because it’s unnatural so my question for you is why do you care about how black women wear their hair?yeah sunshine same here!

    • It’s personal pefreernce, really.Some guys LOVE the natural look, and other guys prefer the fake everything.How much you let this concern you really depends on how interested you are in having a guy that is attracted to you for how you look as compared to someone that wants you to look like every other bleach blonde, makeup covered thing that walks around in a miniskirt.Someone that needs for you to look a certain way to please them usually needs you to act a certain way, as well. If you’re okay with parading around as trophy wife’ then more power to you. I prefer au natural.

  6. Any stylists recommendations in North? MN to be precise

  7. Good write-up, I’m normal visitor of one’s site, maintain up the nice operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a long time. “He who seizes the right moment is the right man.” by Johann von Goethe.

    • Ok, I definitely suroppt people who wear their hair natural. I tried to wear it natural but I have a lot of hair and the only way I could wear it and have it look nice is if I cut it (my beautician told me this) but I love my hair so I could never do it. Plus, it’s a lot of work since my hair is really thick and it’s long My mom wears her hair natural and it’s beautiful and looks amazing on her. But I hate when people say to wear it any other way but natural is self-hating and it’s unnatural. So are white people who bleach their hair and curl it or straighten it everyday self-hating ? Or the term only apply to girls who wear weaves or perm their hair?i meant to say, it’s, well, unnatural Isn’t it unnatural for white girls to alter the look of their hair, too?White girls wear weaves too what do you call those clip-on things? That’s not real hair.A lot of white actresses wear weaves too!WINTER BLOSSOM you are the same girl who said that you don’t like when black women wear weaves because it’s unnatural so my question for you is why do you care about how black women wear their hair?yeah sunshine same here!

  8. I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

    • Finally got back. Love the look. The girls have been experimenting with theris. We’ve straightened, unstraighted, cut, not cut, and I’m hopeless. I solve my hair by cutting it so short I can shake my head in the morning and be set for the day. Fortunately, I’ve had some help and the girls are learning. My bathroom usually shows the results of their efforts. (lol)

    • Unbelievable how well-written and ionfrmtaive this was.

    • The key is not to worry about what others say! if eneryove focused on negativity this world would be a sad place I have been natural for almost 3 year now and I’m lovin’ it. Don’t get me wrong I have my days were I want my perm and thats when I turn to my weave or color my hair, so sweetie NATURAL is NATURALLY being you in however or whatever way you want to express YOU Blessings

  9. What? People tell you to cut it? Are they crazy? He is delicious, don’t touch the hair. Baby fro’s rock. People used to get all pissy when we’d shave my son’s hair. We gave birth to them, its our right to do what we want with their hair. By the way that llitte vest outfit is yummy!

  10. Good decision, your son’s hair looks good, AND, it’s noobdy’s business anyway.We used to try to let Cody’s hair grow and it just didn’t work. He would pick and twirl it until he picked a spot. Nervous Nelly.

  11. Leo

    To start, Hair weaves and wigs, are as sick to me as pliastc surgery. I don’t see them as a hair style or changing your natural hair .However,not many people, in all races, wear their hair natural. Hair Coloring, Curling Iron, Braiding, Straighting Perms, Curling Perms, Straightning Iron, Hair Gel (for spikes) etc . are ALL changing your hair from it’s natural format.Why is it specially wrong for black people to change their natural hair?

  12. My hair is being to thin a little and know that naautrl is best. Tired it last year but got fed up after while, with the process. It is just above my shoulder and would prefer not cutting my hair. My sister told me to twist it after washing, however since never being the type of girl to do my own hair, wasn’t able. Would like to be naautrl, however naautrl hair isn’t very straight. What is the best style for hair besides; naautrl; that will not cause breakage, hair to thin, more stress? Since sweat a lot in my head at night need a style, that when get up in the morning my hair isn’t nappy, and able to go and exercise without worring. What is the best style for hair besides naautrl? Braids Press, or Relaxers, and since on a budget cannot always get the a professional, and must professionals have meet always want to relex my hair. Please help.

  13. I believe that is among the most vital info for me.
    And i am satisfied studying your article. But should statement on few basic issues, The website
    taste is perfect, the articles is really great : D. Just right activity, cheers

  14. How likely is it to become a fashion designer with college experience?

  15. Now I am going to do my breakfast, after having my breakfast coming again to read
    more news.

  16. I was pretty pleased to discover this page. I wanted to thank you for
    ones time for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new information in your blog.

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