Natural Hair IS Professional

I am sure we have come across numerous articles making the statement that natural hair in the workplace is seen as unprofessional.  What I find funny is that these articles are usually written by other black women.  Where are the actual sources and evidence from our counterparts that also agree?

You type in “unprofessional hair” in Google and our beautiful natural hair pops up.  Do you know why?  Because when black women write an article about how unprofessional our hair is, they use images of our natural hair over and over again, polluting the search results which in a weird way is brainwashing ourselves!

I wear my natural hair proudly around the workplace and I get nothing but compliments about it both from black and white people.  I do not believe for a second anyone is looking at me thinking I am unprofessional.  As long as you’re dressed well and you look groomed, you are professional.

Do not fall into the idea created by ourselves that your natural hair is not professional.  That may have been true generations ago but it is not today.  Any hairstyle can honestly look unprofessional if not done right.  If someone at the workplace tells you to change your hair, please consult HR or a manager immediately!

I am absolutely pro-black but I do not believe that the “man” is after us all the time.  If you get denied from work places, please do not think about your name, race, or the way you look.  Someone could have just been honestly more qualified than you.  Or someone could have been best friends with the hiring manager – you never know the reasoning.  If you believe that someone did not hire you because of the previous reasons, please consult their manager or corporate if you have proof.

But back to our beautiful natural locks – it is professional.  It’s just all about the way you present it and maintain it.

However – I am aware of those cases where little girls are being sent home from school because their hair is “too distracting” or women are being asked to take out their braids for work, or how the military is just recently allowing us to wear braids and twists.  This is definitely discrimination against hair types.  All I could say that to that is keep promoting the idea that natural hair is normal and well… natural.  Eventually, society will make accommodations for us as they see it as a normal thing (as you saw with the military).  We have spent too many years trying to straighten our hair or wear weave that “they” figured that majority of our population wears our hair straight.  This is why I am advocating for natural hair – the more women wear their hair natural, the more changes you will see in society’s attitudes towards our hair type.

Being Natural In College

In the comfort of your home, you may have a kitchen sink to wash your hair in, a mother who understands what a bonnet means, a mirror you can use all night while you’re twisting your hair or a bathroom where you can put your hair products on the counter.  But what about living with random roommates, having no kitchen in your dorm, or having to carry all of your hair products to and from the bathroom?  Maintaining natural hair in college is a little more challenging than you’d think especially if you live in a dorm.  How do you maintain your mane while away from home?

Let your roommates know!
The first step when managing your natural hair is to let your roommates know in advance about your hair routine.  They will become more understanding and you guys can work out a schedule or make compromises around it.

Get a shower caddy
A shower caddy should be something that you invest in anyways while going to college.  But what should you put in there?  At most, it should be shampoo, conditioner, a wide tooth comb, a hair clip, and a shower cap.  Try not to bring any other styling products with you – it will mean you’re spending more time in the shower and people may be waiting on you to get out.  Bottom line is – shower caddies are helpful.

Washing your hair
If you are a Freshman, most likely you will NOT get a kitchen in your own dorm.  Check your housing assignment online to confirm.  However, there will most likely be a community kitchen that the whole building can use.  I would suggest this will be your first resort as a location to washing your hair.  I would only suggest shampooing at this sink and doing the conditioning in your room – that way you can take time to really saturate your hair with the conditioner and detangle.  If there is no sink available to you, you will have to take a longer route – the shower.  Before showering, I would part the hair in four sections to make the washing process easier.  While in the shower,  wash and condition your hair in those four sections, throw a cap on your head, wash your body, then rinse out everything.

No last minutes, no new styles
In college, although there may not be a bell system, professors can still mark you tardy.  No need to lose points on  your grade because you thought that trying a new hairstyle the day of class would be a good idea.  Also, try not to wash or style your hair right before class either.  It always takes longer than you think.  Just do it after class.  There’s no one in class to impress but your professors with your grades.  Now when I say “no new styles” don’t freak out.  Please experiment!  But don’t experiment when you need to leave your room in 15 minutes.

Keep beanie caps and hair pins handy!
Maybe you had twists in the night before but woke up too late to take them out.  Maybe you wore a braid out but it started raining unexpectedly.  You always want to be able to keep something with you that can help save your style when it’s just not cooperating.

Don’t let your hair stop you
In college, you never know what your next move is going to be.  You could go to class, sit in the Student Union, then next thing you know you’re at friend’s dorm and then… they ask you to go to Zumba class.  Please do not be the friend that’s all “I just did my hair”.  Keep your hair minimal.  Hair is just hair.  Don’t let your hair stop you from forming memories  you’ll probably never forget.  The experience is more important than what you look like.

Styling
Get a full sized mirror for your dorm room, a spray bottle, and a hand towel.  Most dorm rooms come with a desk chair that you can sit in.  You can bring your styling process into your room to free up the sink area for your roommates.  It may feel odd at first but you’ll become used to doing your hair in your room.

Try to avoid direct heat!
I am not saying this because it will damage your hair (it will), I am saying this because fire alarms in dorm rooms are extremely sensitive!  I myself have set off a fire alarm from simply blow drying my hair.  This will be a good time to challenge yourself to no heat!  If you absolutely must use heat on your head, use a heat protector but nothing else.  Even steam can set off these alarms.

Be Clean
If you clean the bathroom counters, get the hairs off the shower walls, vacuum or sweep floors after you’re done, then your roommates will NOT mind if you do your hair.  However, let you start leaving hair everywhere and sticky counter tops and your roommates will not be very happy.  At most you should be doing your hair once a week so cleaning up after yourself is nothing and should be done anyways.

Stay motivated
Let me tell you first hand – there are going to be nights when you’re 80 videos deep in Youtube looking at girls with cute, short hairstyles.  Or you’re gonna see a girl on campus who dyed her hair a beautiful red.  Or this other girl who just straightened her hair and is whipping it around like no one’s business.  All I could say is to stay motivated on YOUR journey.  Dyes, hair cutting, and heat are all setbacks that you will later regret.  Dye makes your hair dry, heat can ruin your natural pattern, after a haircut, you always want it to grow back out.  If it’s something you realllyyy want to do, do it.  But do not let others influence you.  “Friends” are too quick to say “you should do it!” rather than really thinking about what’s best for you.

Most of all just enjoy your time in college.  You cannot get undergrad back and it only lasts 4-6 years.  You will miss it.  Hair should be the least of your worries.  Your main goal in college is to come out with a degree.

Picking a cosmetology school?

As a college student, it is the norm to think about my future.

I really want to get into cosmetology school in the future.  I already enjoy doing my hair, nails, and makeup so why not become a card-carrying, licensed professional?  My ultimate goal would be owning a natural hair salon since I feel there is a lack of stylists who are familiar with our textures.  There are too many horror stories with naturals going to the hair salon.

I would also like to help the community by putting together a program where people can get free haircuts and hairdos for interviews and school.  I would call it “First Impressions”.  The first day of school or a job interview can be heavily impacted just by the way you look.   I would like to achieve this by doing fundraising to buy the tools, sterilization, and venue to run the program.  Fundraising activities could be hair shows, selling wigs or weaves, and portions of my own salon services.  I would then like to build a team of other licensed professionals to help with the program.  Future expansion projects could mean adding in donated interview clothes, or having speakers come in and give interview tips.  I would time these programs around popular job fairs, August (first day of school) and January (back to school).

My main obstacles with going to cosmetology school is choosing the right school and coming up with the money to attend.  I really don’t want to go to a high-end school just to learn something that they’ll teach you in a community college.  At the same time, I don’t want a community college to look bad on my resume (not always the case).  With a profession like cosmetology, I believe your portfolio speaks more than what school you went to.  Half of these great MUAs and hair stylists on Instagram or Youtube never stepped foot in a cosmetology school.  I just really want to say that I am licensed to perform these services.  Also, cosmetology school is expensive.  Roughly between 10k-25k.  So before I actually dive into this, I will of course have to work a job, get my life together, pay my previous student loans, and then revisit this again.

Paul Mitchell
I visited Paul Mitchell in the Fall of 2015.  I brought my roommate with me.  When we got there, the teachers were enthused to see me.  I took a tour and they talked about the history, the kit I will get, and the costs of attending.  What I disliked about the school is that they seemed eager for money… right away.  They basically told me that I should postpone my senior year of college and attend their school instead.  Then, they tried to convince my roommate to also attend the school after she showed no interest of attending.  I managed to see the current students in action and they seemed very relaxed.   I can tell they were very liberal and probably have not gone to college yet.  I spoke with the students briefly and they said they loved the school.  Overall, my experience at Paul Mitchell was good but I did not leave feeling excited.

  • Tuition: $15,000
  • Materials: $3,500

 

Aveda
What really drew me to Aveda is that my three favorite hair gurus are licensed from Aveda – TheGlamTwinz and MoKnowsHair.

Kendra and Kelsey (TheGlamTwinz)

Monica Stevens (MoKnowsHair)

I visited Aveda July of 2016.  I was in a group tour but I did not bring anyone with me this time.  The person giving the tour seemed more realistic and professional.  I visited the school during a holiday so I did not get a chance to see the students.  The school seems very hands on and challenging.  Again, the tour guide went over the kit I will be getting, the history of Aveda, and the costs of attending.  By the way, the tour guide put a lot of emphasis that we will be getting an iPad as a part of our kit… I can get an iPad on my own *eye roll*.  Overall, my experience at Aveda was better than what I experienced at Paul Mitchell.  I liked that it seemed more serious, professional, and caring.  They also stressed that their products are all natural and that they love to give back to the community.  However, because it was so similar to Paul Mitchell, I now see them as competitors selling the same product rather than two unique entities.

  • Tuition: $18,000
  • Materials: $2,500

 

Community College
I haven’t actually toured this particular community college but I learned a lot from their website.  Their cosmetology program is new and it usually takes about two years to complete (instead of 1 year at the high-end schools).  Also, with this two year program, you will earn an Associate degree in Applied Science in Cosmetology AS WELL AS your license. High-end schools only offer a license.  Also, this community college offers classes for you to become a natural hair specialist, separate from their core cosmetology program.  Not only that, it’s also cheaper than the high-end schools.  Sounds like the way to go, right?  Yes, I am leaning towards this option definitely.  I feel like getting a degree AND paying less is getting more bang for your buck.  Granted it takes longer but years honestly go by quickly than you think.

  • Tuition: $5,250
  • Materials: $5,800

If anyone has an experience with a cosmetology school they went to, please comment below!

 

Why I Am Choosing Long, Natural Hair

What baffled me the most was when I wore a relaxer and people would comment on how “long” my hair was when it just fell down to my shoulders…I know what long hair looks like.  Long hair to me is mid-back length and below.  So why is it that when a black woman has hair down to her shoulders, it’s considered long?

Yes, this is me around 2008

Compared to this?!

I tell people all the time – as of right now, my hair is NOT long.  I really want to break the stereotype that black women cannot grow hair past their collar bone.  Hair has always been a hot topic among our community.  I see being natural as an outlet to have our hair grow and flourish to it’s full potential.  With proper care, the first thing girls notice when they go natural is how fast their natural hair catches up to their previous relaxed hair length.  It really only takes 2 years to go from bald to shoulder length.  Why is it that we speak about how long our hair used to be as a child but can’t seem to achieve the same lengths today?

Anyone can wake up and decide to cut their hair.  Short hair is easy.  Short hair is achievable by anyone who can grow hair.  But what about long, healthy hair?  It takes years, care, and patience to be able to achieve that.  There is nothing wrong with short hair but it becomes a problem when people are shocked that a black woman’s hair comes past her collar bone.  We.Are.The.Only.Race.With.This.Issue

One thing though that bothers me about hair is the division that happens among black women.   In the process of looking at other girls’ hair, black women start to compare and down themselves:  “My hair won’t do that.  My hair ain’t like hers.  My hair this.  My hair that.”  Or let’s not forget that dreaded comment: “She has good hair!”  I have numerous accounts with black women who will give me a compliment then proceed to tell me how they can’t get their like mine or how their hair is too nappy to leave out.  Honestly, these comments are sickening.  I believe all black women should be proud of what they have BEFORE they proudly rock inches that are not theirs.

Urban Bush Babes

Whitney (Naptural85)

We as a whole need to do better to break this stereotype.  I understand that however you wear your hair is a choice but it shouldn’t be at a point where short hair is the norm for us.  It shouldn’t be at a point where long hair on black women is thought to be fake before it’s even believed to be real.  It shouldn’t be at a point where women ask me where I’m buying my hair from or trying to dig their fingers in my scalp to feel for tracks.  It should not be this much of an issue.  Look at the shelves in the beauty supply stores.  Why are there so many products that promise hair growth?  Companies are preying on our stereotype to make money off us.  I repeat:

We.Are.The.Only.Race.With.This.Issue


Side Note:  I am aware of the health issues and genetics that can play a role in hair growth and I am excusing those cases.  

My Hair Story

“You have such beautiful hair” they say.  But they have no idea what I went through.

Big Chop #1 2009
To give you a scope of things, I was a 14 year old in 9th grade during this time.  When I had a relaxer, my hair was still in pretty good shape.  It still grew “long” which meant down to my shoulders.  Then I had a thought – what if I became completely independent of a monthly service and did everything myself?  So that’s when I started transitioning to become natural.  After 9 months, the two textures became too much to deal with so I big chopped… as a 14 year old.  Everyone gave me stares and talked behind my back.  I even had black women that disapproved and mumbled things:  “So are you going to get a relaxer again?” “This is just temporary, right?” “You gonna do this forever?”

Shaving Sides 2011-2013
After about two years in the natural world, my hair became a little too big for me to handle.  At the time, the only natural hair guru I would watch on Youtube was Chime Edwards (and still do).  She shaved the side of her hair and I loved it!  So I shaved mine.  I cut my bangs shorter and pretty much had  a mullet.  The only issue was growing it out again.  I forgot that it takes a WHILE for natural hair to start hanging so my hair grew in very awkwardly.  I had to twist down my bangs and sides so they wouldn’t look so awkward.

 

“You’re the girl with the hair!” 2013-2014
I started my Freshman  year of college in 2013.  My hair had some pretty good length to it and people started to identify me by my hair.  I basically made my footprint on campus because of my hair.  I liked that it drew attention but at the same time, it became the only thing people knew about me.

 

Texturizer 2014
Why did I get one?  Because I watched Youtube too much and saw this girl who had “good” results with the texturizer.  I put “good” in quotes because texturizers loosen curl… therefore I was saying to myself that only loose curls are good.  WRONG.  I have only gotten one texturizer and I loved the results at first… but then I realized my hair had changed for the worse.  It became dry, I had a lot of straight pieces, and worst of all, I was not natural anymore (duh).  I felt like for some reason I betrayed myself.  My hair looked like trash.  I knew people noticed.  I thought about keeping up with the texturizers but then I didn’t want to be tied again to a monthly process.

Big Chop #2 2014
So to get rid of all of my texturizer, I had to cut my hair again.  Walking on campus my Sophomore year was weird for me.  I felt ignored.  I felt the questionable stares again.  However, Sophomore year made me learn the most about myself.  It also taught me the value of the hair I had.  I started to cherish every inch of hair that grew in and enjoyed having conversations with people that wasn’t hair-related.  It was fun to buy new products and truly nourish my hair.

Today 2016
I am now two years natural and enjoying every bit of my journey.  My hair is healthier than ever and I am actually happy that I have experimented in the past.  I am no longer curious about anything else except for long, healthy hair.   I am planning to grow my hair indefinitely without heat or chemicals.  People are now seeing the results of trial and error.  People are now seeing what healthy hair actually looks like.

Transitioning Again 2016-?
Throughout most of my process in the course of seven years, I had dye in my hair.  When I big chopped the first time, my hair was already dyed brown.  I then tried to grow the brown out but later winded up dying the back of my hair pink.  When I big chopped again, I went for a reddish/brown.  Till this day, I am still trying to transition and trim out that dye.  My ends that still has the dye is very damaged and dry from that process.  Bleaching and dying my hair has been the worst hair decisions I have made.  So in reality, I am actually currently transitioning a third time.  I was on a schedule to trim my hair every 4 months but now because majority of the color is gone, I am now doing a trim every 6 months.  My hair could actually be much longer today had I not dyed it.

3 Hair Items I Can’t Live Without

You know those wonderful discoveries that changes your entire hair routine?  Here’s some of mine:

Evolve Go Satin Pillowcase, Fuchsia

  1. SATIN PILLOW CASE:  Thanks to this bad boy, I never have to worry about squishing my hair into a bonnet.  Trust me, I sleep crazy and my hair is still great the next day.  Sometimes my hair may get squished on one side but it’s nothing compared to twisting my hair every night or waking up to your bonnet being off your head.  Satin pillow cases are also easy to fold and bring along with you when you are travelling.  Even for comfort, they feel much better than sleeping on a cotton pillow case.
  2. JUMBO SHOWER CAP:  I have gotten an adjustable, jumbo shower cap from Sally’s Beauty Supply.  I usually wear wash and gos so I needed something that can help preserve my hair while I shower.  There is so much room in the jumbo cap it’s ridiculous.  No more finding plastic Walmart bags or struggling with multiple small shower caps.
  3. SATIN RIBBON:  People always ask how I get my hair into a puff  – this is the answer.  I purchased a roll of satin ribbon from the dollar store.  What I do is I cut enough of it to be able to tie my hair into a puff.  Because it’s satin, it’s less damaging to my hair and I don’t have to worry about breakage.  It’s also not elastic so I can make it as tight as I want to without worrying about it stretching out.   Even my nape area is still long and I believe it’s because of the satin ribbon.

The number one thing I would recommend out of all of these is the satin pillow case.  Absolutely a game changer for my wash and gos.

Make the L.O.C Method Work For You!

The L.O.C method stands for Leave in, Oil, and Cream in this order.  What they don’t tell you about this method is that the most important ingredient is water.  Please do not try this method or any variations on dry hair.  You should do this on wet hair.

What do they each do? 
Leave-in Conditioner: Helps moisturize and makes it easier to detangle.
Oil: Seals in the water to prevent dryness in the long run.
Cream/Gel:  Helps define your texture.  Also good for frizz control.  If you are looking to style your hair, I would also suggest using a cream or gel.

Ask yourself – what are you looking for?
Big Hair
If you want big hair, I would suggest just sticking to a leave in conditioner.  I would skip the O(il) and C(ream) steps all together.

Tamed Hair
Throw in the oil if you want your hair tamed.  This will create a mixture of big and defined.

Defined Hair
Follow the steps all the way through starting with the leave in and working your way to the cream or gel.

What products should you use?
Unfortunately, I cannot provide you a list of specific products that will work for you.  This is where the trial and error process occurs.  The only advice I could give is to look at the thickness of your hair, not the texture (density versus pattern).  If your hair is thicker, I would suggest using heavier creams.  If your hair is thinner, I would suggest lightweight products.

I have been using the L.O.C method for years now and have seen nothing but positive results.  My hair has grown thick and shiny from using this method.  It also helps me narrow down what I buy and use. One thing I would suggest is to change your products one at a time.  Do not buy a new oil, leave in, and cream and then try them all at once.  You want to be able to identify what works and what doesn’t work for your hair.