Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Top Four Inspirational Natural Hair Videos

Change is good. Change is inevitable. But above all, change is difficult. When I was transitioning to natural hair I went into a knowledge-hungry frenzy. There wasn't one natural hair YouTube video that I wasn't willing to watch and, consequently I learnt a lot. I learnt who knew what they were talking about; I learnt who didn't. I remember watching a video by vlogger who claimed that the best way to wash your hair when you have crochet braid is to use an Q-tip (ear swab) dipped in apple cider vinegar and run it over parts of your scalp. Are you frikin' kidding me? Now, I know that was ridiculous advice, but the early transitioner makes some mistakes and those mistakes have repercussions. When the going gets tough, you need a reminder of why you decided to go natural in the first place. These inspirational videos helped me, and to this day, are among my favorite natural hair videos:

1. Black Women with Natural Hairstyles...

2. Natural Hair Inspirations and Hair Styles

3. Natural Hair Inspirations 2012

4. The Coil Review Commercial - Natural Hair is Fabulous (this has to be the funniest. LOL!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Eight Reasons to Be a Natural Belle

 Big chop baby!
If you want a protective style that
gives you straight hair, try flexistrand
1. You were made that way
2. You won't be running for cover when the rain comes down. Hair shrinking back to its natural state is every relaxed-hair girl's nightmare. It's akin to a full moon in a werewolve's eyes. Ever noticed how calm real wolves look towards the end of a lunar month?

3. More people love natural hair than you realize. My roommate transitioned to natural hair a year ago. We go to a university that has a minority percentage of 19% and a black percentage of just 3%. In such an environment, it can become easy to conform to extremely western standards of beauty. Many African-Americans, if asked what kind of hair is considered beautiful by Caucasians would answer "long, straight hair or hair with loose waves". Weeks into her natural hair transition, all my roommate would wear was weaves. One day, she decided to bare her natural hair and got countless compliments, from boys and girls, on her "fro" like hair. If people outside our race appreciate the beauty of black natural hair, we should too.

Why would you relax this little girl's
hair? It's adorable. 
4. You hair won't thin as much as relaxed head of hair does. Remember what I explained about the fragility of African hair in my Leave-in Your Leave-in Conditioner post. Our hair is the extremely brittle, particularly when moisture-deprived. Relaxing your hair exacerbates that problem and that's why straightened relaxed hair is often thinner than straightened natural hair. As long as you care for your natural hair, gaining length will become easier than when you had relaxed hair.

5. You have a unique curl pattern to show off. Every natural head of hair is unique. That is even true among people with the same hair type. Stop selling yourself short.

6. No one enjoys bragging about fake hair. No matter how good it looks, there's always going to be a morsel of shame in artificial beauty. When a woman praises her weave in public, she often wants people to believe that it's her real hair.

7. There are so many different hair styles you can do with your natural hair. Think about the limitations of having a weave. There are only so many hairstyles you can do without exposing your tracks. It's crippling. With natural hair, no matter how many parts you make, where you part your hair, if the hair tied up or sleeked back, there will always be a healthy scalp underneath it, attesting to your hair's legitimacy. Think about the limitations of relaxed hair. You can't rock the afro or really curly hair on a whim without "ruining" the hair.

The beauty of relaxed hair is it can be both curly (left)
and straightened (right). The woman in both pictures
is Kim Love of Kimmaytube (natural hair guru). 
8. You haven't taken straight hair off the table: You can actually straighten natural hair to get a mock-relaxed hair look. In addition, it comes with a bonus: thicker straight hair. Should you choose to straighten your natural hair with a flat iron, a good heating serum is indispensable. That is too avoid heat damage to the hair, something that has long term consequences to natural hair-it will never be same. Flat-ironing your natural hair should also only be left for special occasions. I recommend doing it a maximum of 3 or 4 times in a year. The rest of the year, be spontaneous and try out different protective styles. Try to keep your relaxed hair stretched most of the time. Otherwise, flexistrand extensions are a good style that allows you to flaunt straight hair while protecting your fro.


Friday, July 6, 2012

A Little Inspiration to Get or Stay Natural!

The problem with natural hair is the same problem
facing our natural rainforests, our ice caps and threat-
ened species all over the planet. Everyone admits they
  are beautiful but few are willing to make the
 sacrifices necessary to protect and care for them. 
 we continue on with our destructive ways, we 
 them progress...modern...and we convince our-
selves that destruction is as inevitable as breathing.
They say there's a natural hair revolution. I am not sure I agree with that. Revolution has been defined as a "forcible overthrow of government or social order", and that is not akin to what is happening all over the world right now. The conversion of so many black women from relaxed hair has been a slow one, but the inspiring thing is it's happening. Every day (I would hope), one black girl or woman decides to do away with the corrosive substance we've been slathering onto our fragile hair for decades, and everyday, we all become a little more beautiful. Do you have any idea how many black women are unaware of the fact that every one of us has a unique curl pattern? Tons! And it's because the second we see growth we straighten it (chemically or otherwise).

 I decided to go natural at the end of my freshman year in college. All my life, my mother relaxed my hair. She was always insistent on using a relaxer that was mild. She would then put my hair in rollers to make it look straighter. First year of college, I attempted to relax my hair by myself and my hair really thinned. That was the shock I needed to go natural. Sadly, that's how countless natural hair transitions start, and it shouldn't be like that. More women should simply be inspired shortly after seeing a breath-taking head of natural hair. Two months ago, when I removed my crochet braids, I was astounded by how big and beautiful my curly hair had grown. I had an afro the size of a beach ball and the ironic thing is I had always thought that would look ridiculous. It wasn't ridiculous, it was ravishing. Full, long, curly, bouncy...healthy. It was everything I ever wanted from my own hair and so much more. Maintaining long natural hair gets hard and sometimes you just want to go back, I know. Just know though, there are a multitude of reasons why you shouldn't.
"Natural Beauty"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stop Wearing Weaves. Protective Styling is Key.

Check out Kimmaytube
on YouTube for some
cool protective styles!
Weaves are not your best friend. If you are making an honest effort to grow beautiful natural hair then do not consider the widely popular fake hair trend as the ideal protective style. I know about the dynamic state of fashion and beauty, as well as the creative spirit in all of us that just loves change. Believe me, I have been there. You've had curly/frizzy hair for eight months, religious tenacity when it comes to the tiresome regime that has since kept that natural hair in tip top condition, you walk into that beauty supply store and that pin-straight, waist-length, jet black weave is looking pretty darn good. It promises a break from the tiresome regimen, it promises change and, above all, light hair flying in the wind. Then the economist in you starts to wage a battle with the materialistic little sprite in you. "Come on! It looks fabulous! Wow! $230.00! But we could always reuse it...and probably wear it for a month...at least!" You want to buy it, I know. You probably shouldn't. 

You rock that natural hair girl!
Many misinformed individuals have been led to believe that weaves are a great protective style, and while they can be if used correctly and over a short period of time, more often than not, they are destructive.

First of all, when people first invest in a weave, they are loath to treat it like they would if it was their real hair. In an attempt to preserve the weave and keep it looking one-day old, they go for unhealthy periods of time without washing it. We are all familiar with the stereotype of an African-American woman with a weave, "patting" at it aggressively. Causing all sorts of brain-damage for temporary relief. It is a common sight and there are two things that it can be attributed to. One, the weave is sewn on so tight that it is causing irritation. To avoid ruining the tracks, the woman pats at the irritated areas instead of scratching them. The other potential culprit in this situation is stretched hair washes. I will call on a  favorite oxymoronic hair phrase of mine and say that her scalp is an oily desert- it hasn't seen water in eons, it is covered in clogged sebaceous glands and has an ever-increasing product build-up. As one can imagine, any hair in that condition has a markedly strong smell, often unpleasant. Don't be that girl. My freshman year of college was when I wore my first and last weave and, at the time, I really stuck to my weekly hair washes. Consequently, the weave had a short life and required regular straightening with a flat iron. Any girl looking to buy a weave has got to be willing to do that.

Another reason I am not the biggest weave fan is they cover your real hair for extended periods of time. Access to you hair is limited, leading to the debilitation of your natural, curly crown. It's important to be able to thoroughly cleanse your hair, and with a weave that becomes difficult. I call it the swimming cap effect. If you wore a swimming cap for an entire month, regularly shampooing the cap, the hair underneath would be in embarrassing condition when you finally pealed it off. In addition to that, the regularly application of leave in conditioner and other moisturizers that really helps your natural hair glow would have to be suspended.

The fake-it-or-break-it dilemma: to go with bangs or leave
hairline out...
Finally, there is the fake-it-or-break-it dilemma. If your not buying lace-fronts, then this is a problem you will face. In an attempt to make the weave look more legitimate, creators offered women all over the world three options: lace front, bangs or pulling out your hairline in order to cover the weave. The problem with the final two options is the very crux of the fake-it-or-break-it dilemma. Not a lot of women can pull off bangs. The number who think that they can is far greater than those that truly can. No one wants the whole world seeing their tracks so the bang women opt to fake-it. Over my years of observation (let's pretend I am a bird-watcher), I have found that the thinner the bangs, the realer they look. Sadly, a lot of "bangettes" try out the really thick bangs and end up hair that just looks bogus. It kind of defeats the purpose of a weave, don't you think? On the other hand, there's the more authentic looking option, which I call the "break it" option. You pull out a small amount of your own hair to cover the weave in front. It looks like you hairline so what's the problem? Well, it is something that exacerbates with the time you keep your weave on. The hair that you pull out, particularly if your dealing with a bone-straight weave, has to be regularly straightened so that it looks identical to the weave. In some cases, it has to be dyed. Both are very damaging to natural hair (and even relaxed hair). Repeated heat damage and damage due to exposure to the elements gradually shortens the hair that's left out. When you take off the weave, the difference between that hair and the hair that was underneath the weave will be striking. I do not have to tell you all that minimizing hair damage is the secret to growing healthy locks, and some of you may want to enjoy the healthy hair near your hairline before it starts receding.

Some of my favorite protective styles from left to right: Asian flat twist, twist braids, twist updo, crochet braids, flexi-strand extensions, twisted bun and 1940's style
When it comes to natural hair care and protective styling, the options are endless. One can try crochet braids, flexi-strand hair extensions, braids (not to thin), twists and more. A short search on YouTube will reveal that protective styling is something that can also be done with your own hair. If you like variety, look into them. Like me, you may gain a few skills.