Loc’d Up!

If anyone knows me, they should know that I change my hair quite often.  Here’s a quick recap of the history of my hair:

Natural – 2010

Shaved sides – 2012

Bleach/Pink Dye – 2013

Texturizer – 2014

Natural (again) – 2014

Locs – 2017


Currently – Week 3!

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Why locs?

I had faux locs installed back in 2014 and I fell in love with them!  I was convinced that locs was a “look” for me ever since then but I was afraid to go through with the process.

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What convinced me to go through it now?

I change my hair very often as stated before.  This was the longest I’ve been without making a change and well…. it was time for a change!

My natural hair was beautiful but I became tired of it.  I never straightened or colored it since 2014.  I kept it growing and healthy for three years straight.  I’d wear a wash-and-go for about three days and then eventually put it up in a puff.  Everyday I had to refresh with water or reapply product to my  hair to get it to look right.  It became tangled easily and it also became hard to manage with going to the gym frequently.

Bottom line – it became difficult, frustrating, and time-consuming.

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The appeal to locs was that they seemed very easy to take care of.  The only real maintenance with locs is keeping up with new growth and making sure that my locs are clean.  That’s far less stress on my hair than detangling, washing, and piling on products every week.

How did I start my locs?

I went to an African hair braiding salon.  I paid $85 to get starter locs.  The hair stylist started my hair off with two-strand twists.  I heard lots of stories about how two-strand twists take longer to loc together.  So I winded up taking apart all of my two-strand twists and then palm rolling them back together about two weeks later (which you can see in the current photos).  I know it’s bad luck to count your braids/locs but I have 81 in total for those that are wondering.

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How am I maintaining them now?

I have only washed my hair once in the 3-week period.  Just about every weekend, I try to use dry shampoo and oils on my roots.  I retwist just my front locs every weekend to keep them fresh.  I do use clips after twisting and I do have a dryer that I can sit under.

Side Note:

I am not regretting this process at all!  I love the ease of my hair.  I know it looks a little rough now but that is natural in the beginning phase.  I wonder why I didn’t start this before.

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New Hair Secret for Moisture!

I’ve always been dealing with super dry hair.  I tried all the leave-ins, oils, did the deep conditioning and even trims but nothing seemed to work.  As a Communication Studies major, my brain sometimes looks at advertising differently.  And yes, this includes the packaging and labeling on hair products.  I thought to myself “why are there so many versions of conditioners?”  Then it hit me…

Why couldn’t I use a deep conditioner… as a leave-in?  

Deep conditioners have always given me the best moisture for my hair – better than any curl defining cream or leave-in conditioner.  Using a deep conditioner as a leave-in has changed my hair’s health dramatically.  The best part about it is that when I go to rinse or wash my hair, the deep conditioner essentially gets reactivated and my hair feels soft again.  I wash, condition, rinse out the conditioner, and then apply the deep conditioner and put an oil on top and boom!  Hair is super moisturized.

These companies make so much money with all their recommendations and suggestions.  They will sell you a shampoo, conditioner, leave-in, detangler, deep conditioner, twist and define cream, and gel, and an oil when in reality, you don’t need all of that.  At least I don’t anymore.  Sure, I still dabble in experimenting with different shampoos or conditioners for the shower but my after-wash routine is always good.  I will also be quick to bust out the Eco Styler when attempting an actual style but as far as moisture, deep conditioners work best!

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Can You Achieve Healthy, Relaxed Hair?

Girls who relax their hair will occasionally get the dreaded question: “Have you ever thought about going natural?”  Why is there a push or lean for women who relax to go natural?  The most common answer to that is that relaxers are damaging… or are they?

Opinion
The idea that relaxers aren’t good for your hair honestly depends on what your version of “good” means.  To say that a chemical relaxer “damages” hair is an opinion.  Do not forget that hair is dead – that’s why it doesn’t hurt when you cut it.  The only thing that you can do to your hair is … preserve the dead state.  It’s almost like taking a junk car (hair) and smashing it (applying a relaxer) and saying that it’s damaging to the car.  The car already doesn’t work.  So if your hair is already dead when a relaxer is applied… is it really damaging the hair?  Preserving dead hair is all what being natural means.  After all, a single strand of hair only has a life of about 7 years before it sheds.

Relaxed hair doesn’t grow long
Yes and no.  Again this depends.  When girls relax their hair, it is usually also blow dried and straightened.  It might even be bleached for color.  Those three processes alone can “damage” the hair even on natural/preserved hair.

You’re trying to meet European standards of beauty
No no and nope.  Do not believe for a second that anyone relaxes their hair and thinks “boy, I sure do hope I look whiter today!” People do not understand and underestimate the difficulty and time spent on natural hair.  It is not in everyone’s desire to spend hours detangling, washing, twisting, or deep conditioning every week.  The texture of natural hair can also be extremely difficult to manage especially if we haven’t been used to it.  Hair is hair.  It is there to be manipulated.

So with that being said, is it possible?
It all depends on what you think is healthy.  Hair is dead.  Whatever changes happens to your hair just depends on how much you value hair being preserved.  Why do you think our common hair products have those weird, periodic table ingredients in them?  They’re essentially… preservatives.  So why the push for natural ingredients?  Natural ingredients cause less “damage” to the hair as they don’t create buildup or further, slight chemical changes.  So it’s all an opinion.  If you choose to relax, let people know that all hair is dead.

 

Bringing Natural Hair to the Stage

It is quite common that when it comes time to slay whether it be at the club or at prom, wearing your natural hair is not what comes to mind.  Sure, you may get a curly weave or something that looks natural but it is still not your natural hair.  Even when it’s time to go back to school, women love getting a fresh install to feel good for class.  But why is that?

There is still a lack within our community to put natural hair as the top beauty ideal.  Unless the hair is long with “perfect” spirals, natural hair is hardly worn when it is time to look our best.  Our hair is constantly straightened, braided, and put away.  I would like to take a moment to recognize some women who proudly wore their natural hair in times where beauty is the highlight of an event:

Cierra Jackson – Miss DC in Miss America 2017

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Maria Borges – First model to wear natural hair in Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

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Yours truly, Stelly in my high school pageant in 2011

The “stage” in this sense is referring to any sort of spotlight.  Are you a manager?  A mom?  On the executive board for an org?  An employee in corporate America?  A wife?  When you are in these roles, you are constantly being watched by others and the way you wear your hair has more of an influence than you think.

 

It is important for women to continue to spread the notion that natural hair is beautiful when it is time to be beautiful.  Each time you think you look your best with hair that isn’t yours, just think that you are spreading that message to someone else.  Someone who may not feel as confident in their hair will see you changing yours and fall into the idea of changing theirs.  Or imagine if you were to have a daughter and she’s always watching you hide your hair.  Little girls or even women who aspire to be like you when you wear a business suit, in leadership positions, or even in a relationship will look at your hair and think “well maybe if I change my hair too, I can be like her.”

With that being said, what you do with your hair is a choice.  However, it becomes a problem when we have a headline for a black woman wearing her natural hair at a pageant or a black woman being the FIRST to wear their natural hair at a VS fashion show.  Just think about your choices for a second.

Side Note:  In the case of the Victoria’s Secret model, she asked if she can wear her natural hair.  Otherwise, they would’ve put a wig or weave on her.  With Miss DC, her stylists were against it but she pushed anyway.  Even if you are in a situation where your look isn’t completely in your control – ask anyway!  Be defiant.  

Why I Quit YouTube

Yes – I made YouTube videos in the past.  I was your typical YouTube hair girl showing you how I do my wash and go, talking about my hair journey, and giving tips and advice about hair.  Sounds like normal stuff, right?  Exactly!  I was a duplicate of everyone else.  I brought nothing new to the table and that’s how I feel about the YouTube market now.

Even outside of hair, I feel like YouTube is getting more and more uploads from people simply trying to become “successful”.  If YouTube couldn’t show you views, subscribers, likes, or comments, over HALF of these people would not be on YouTube.  People are now seeing YouTube as a lazy way to make money and gain fame and not as an outlet to just simply upload videos they’re passionate about.  Of course there are those who just genuinely like making videos but I feel like these new users are just doing it for easy money.

Now before you guys scream at me and say that YouTube is not easy – I beg to differ.  If all I had to do was glam myself up everyday and just talk about stuff I do anyways on camera, I wouldn’t feel like I’m doing anything.  Don’t forget, I used to sit there and edit videos too – I’ve been there!  From my experience, making videos is much easier than doing homework, going to class, or working at a corporate office 5 days a week.  I will actually compare it to my blog posts: you think of stuff, you marinate on it, and boom – make it happen.

No one has a unique identity on YouTube anymore.  No one is different now.  There are only so many twist-out videos, product demos, wash and gos, baby hair and puff tutorials, night time routines, try on hauls,makeup tutorials, vlog channels, beauty channels, and 100 coats of ___ videos to watch before they all start looking the same.  It is hard to keep up with all of them!

So basically to help answer questions and give advice, I find that it is much easier for me to write a blog.  I am in no way trying to gain fame or money from these blog posts.  These are strictly informational as I still get a lot of questions about my hair journey.  I will not be making videos except for little snippets on my Instagram and Snapchat.

Pretoria Girls High Says No to Natural Hair

 

As some may have seen on the news or social media, Pretoria High School is an all girls school in South Africa that has been in the hot seat for not allowing fros or natural hair.  Look at this statement copied and pasted verbatim from their website:

The school was founded in the earnest hope that here girls of different races and different denominations might meet in that commonwealth of letters which gave Erasmus and Shakespeare to the world. – Edith Aitken.

Interesting isn’t it?  So as you can imagine, we now have protesters made of high school girls wanting to wear their natural hair without having to straighten or conform to their standard of “acceptable” hair.

Here’s also a screenshot from their code of conduct where it talks about their general appearance:
code of conduct

Although natural afros or natural hair textures isn’t exactly mentioned, there is definitely a strict policy on hair.  One interesting thing I noticed about the code of conduct is that the first paragraph seems to address the white students and the third paragraph seems to address the black students.  Black girls seem to be limited to boring braids/cornrows, skinny dreads, or straight hair since hair must be brushed, kept in a TIGHT bun, or ponytail not visible from the front.

Several students have been told to straighten their hair, that they look like monkeys, or that their hair looks like nests.  This is strictly racism and ignorance.  Pretoria Girls High was and is predominately a white institution.

It truly saddens me as a person who is natural and wears their hair around the workplace and school proudly, that there are young girls out there who are being ridiculed for doing the same thing.

Also, if you feel that you are being attacked about your appearance, please protest and raise awareness!  Get people to know about the issue and you’d be surprised at how quickly things can get resolved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE ACTION, PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION DOWN BELOW TO STOP THE RACISM:

Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High

The Market Says Curly Hair Only!

I have heard lots of women say that they can’t go natural because their hair is too nappy or that they have no curl pattern.  I have seen for myself that the natural hair world overlooks women with kitchens, naps, and beadie-beads.  I have noticed that even on social media, people would give praise to women with curlier, looser hair textures.  More women would comment “hair goals” under pictures of women with curly hair.  Why is curly hair still considered the “good” hair?  As much as we’d like to ignore that notion, it’s still in the air – and it stinks!

Let’s take a look at some popular items on the shelves, shall we?

…. Just to name a few.

Let me point out something – All of the products shown above have “curls” in either the brand name or the product name.  Why do you think so many women ask “what products do you use?”  It’s almost as if companies are selling curls in a bottle or jar.  Women buy these products expecting their hair to curl just like what they saw on YouTube.  Then when the products don’t “work”, women beat themselves up over it, claim that their hair is too nappy, and go back to relaxers, weaves, or wigs.  When women buy “natural” weaves or wigs, the curl pattern on them is still going to be a loose curl.  I hardly see women get excited for bundles that are course, a kinkier texture, or even a full blown afro.

Twists outs, braid outs, and bantu knots.  All of these styles are done to mimic the look of curly hair.  We spend hours at night installing rollers, perm rods, and flexi rods.  Why?  We are trying to make our hair look like something that it is not.  We are trying to have our hair look like what’s desirable.  What does a “bomb” twist out even mean?  It means that the hair came out curly and defined.  But why don’t women consider their natural texture “bomb”?

I am fully aware of the choice and freedom to do whatever we like to our hair.  But it’s becoming an issue when that “choice” is always a looser curl or straighter hair.

There used to be a time in the 70s where you couldn’t tell a black woman NOTHING about her fro.  Picks and sheen sprays were common things to carry around.  The bigger the better!   White people even went ahead and got curly perms to mimic our hair.  Now look at us – running around worried about making our curls “pop”.

“But Stelly… you have curly hair.  What are you trying to say?”
When I say I am a natural hair enthusiast, I am not just enthusiastic about my own hair.  I love the natural hair movement as a whole and I wish more women would participate in it.  I wish more women could feel comfortable about their hair without society saying that we need to have curls if we’re natural.  This post was not intended to bash women, it was more just an observation on how curly hair is such a trend thanks to the market and advertising.   I love my hair but I am not pressed to keep the curls in my head.  I don’t refresh my curls throughout the week, I don’t even put my hair away when I sleep.  Whatever frizz, tangles, or mats happen in my hair I welcome.  I don’t do twist-outs or braid outs.  I don’t even do the shingling method where you rake gel throughout your entire head to get that super defined look.  Curly hair is just not that big of a deal to me.  I am concerned about the health and then the length of my hair – not what it looks like texture wise.  I wish more women would feel this way.