Tag Archive | natural hair

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.

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!

Image result for shea moisture deep conditioners

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.  

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.

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.