Tag Archives: Natural Hair Journey

Natural Hair: Professional Blow Out.

Since starting the journey of growing my natural hair, this is the second time that I’ve gotten a blow out. You can read my dreadful first attempt here. As promised, this time I decided to get it professionally done. As the shampoo girl washed my hair, I thought to myself; Ahhh! I had forgotten how good it feels to have someone else wash my hair. After deep conditioning my hair, the stylist began the blow out process. I kinda felt sorry for her, but not sorry enough to spare her from the impending ordeal. As she blow dried and brushed, I flinched several times when the heat on my scalp felt like I was being seared with an hot iron. This experience  caused me to feel a bit perplexed: blow out my hair myself and get injured, let the professionals do it and get seared. I’m not so sure it’s a good trade off. After about 45 minutes she was finished and let a huge sigh of relief. We both gave an awkward chuckle.

I was so happy that it was finally over. Then she pulled out the flat iron and  began flat ironing my hair. It wasn’t over. Oh. My. Goodness. I couldn’t help thinking that was a whole lot of heat and torture for one head of hair.

My entire visit took about one and a half hour (which is about a third of the time normally spent in a salon.) I really liked the finished result. My hair was very soft, straight and silky. It reminded me of me of my relaxed hair and frankly, I missed it. During the process I wondered to myself; why would people put themselves through this torture in the name of beauty? I guess the end result is what keep us going back for more.

My hair before chopping it off to “go natural”..smh
Front and back out my “blow out”

Besides, wanting to be an example to my daughter, I decided to go natural to free myself from chemically processing my hair, spending (wasting) precious time in a salon while the stylist tries to juggle the four clients she scheduled at the same exact time and spending top dollar to have my hair done. What I’ve noticed by going natural is that the only thing I’m freed from is the chemical. If I want my hair to be healthy and grow, I still would have to spend a lot of time on it and have to spend tons of money on products for my hair. With running a business, caring for kids and all my other responsibilities, I have neither the time or energy required for the upkeep and maintenance.

It made me think about the price of “beauty” in our country. A Tresemme’ survey estimated that the average woman will spend over $50,000.00 on her hair in her life time. The beauty industry is a $10 billion dollar industry. Wow! Although I’m the type of person who almost never wears make-up and I could wear my hair in a pony tail forever and be content, I admit that I feel a lot better and more confident when I’m well put together.  But when I consider the time, energy and finances put into “looking good”, it makes me wonder at what cost? Are there other things being sacrificed to maintain certain appearances? Or are we simply lured in by the feeling we get when hair is freshly done or our make-up is flawless.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Please leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Natural Hair Blow Out: Disappointing Reality

Well its been a while since I’ve written about my natural hair journey. If you’ve missed  any of my previous posts, please feel fry to check them out here:    Self EsteemLife’s DetourMy no routine Hair Routine and Going Natural Should Not Be Limited To Your Hair

I’ve heard several advice for or against using heat on your natural hair.

Normally after washing my hair, I moisturize and let it air dry…essentially a wash and go. Saturday, I had a stroke of inspiration and I decided to blow dry or “blow out” my hair. It’s been awhile since I’ve visited YouTube or researched products best to use on my hair when applying heat, so I decided to experiment on my own. After washing my hair, I applied a basic moisturizer, coconut oil and Shea butter cream. I began to blow dry. I blew and blew and dried and dried. I pulled and separated and detangled and blew some more. After over an hour of blow drying my hair, I’d had it! I wanted to flush the dryer down the toilet, but fortunately for me, my hair was finally dry so I opted against flushing the blow dryer.
That same morning I ran 12 miles for a half marathon training. I must say that my run was far more pleasurable than blowing out my hair. When I was finished. I was sweating like a roasting pig (which, by the way, I’ve never experienced, but heard that’s the only time a pig sweats). My right shoulder was so sore from all the over-head tugging it felt as thought I just finished a work out session at the gym.  I said to my husband, “If I ever tell you that I’m going to blow out my hair, please tell me to go to a salon”.
Despite the “torture” of the actual blow drying process, I really liked the finished product. My hair was very soft and I realized how much it had actually grown. I enjoyed patting it. Both of my children and my husband took turns patting it also. In this picture (left), the puff is about an inch and a half smaller due to all the patting. I was so proud of the shape that I was hesitant to lay down in fear of distorting my puff.

I was super excited to rock my poofy puff to church the next day. I combed out my hair, added a headband and a flower. I even got a few compliments. How cool. After church I headed to the grocery store. On the way back to the car, a sudden, mysterious, torrential down pour of rain began falling. The sky was still blue. The sun was shining and the huge, cold, unexpected raindrops felt like daggers of ice as it hit my skin. I ran with my shopping cart through the parking lot, as the rain soaked my shopping bags and items. In the midst of  the chaos, the predominate thought in my head was “Oh my hair!”. My hour and a half, pain inducing, sweat producing, blow out was soaked. All of my hard work was null and void. My kinks and coils were back; Which, by the way, I love…I was just disappointed that with all that effort, my puff didn’t last longer than 24 hours.

Since going natural almost 2 years ago, this was my very first time applying any type of heat to my hair. I’ve secretly fantasized about doing a blow out after seeing a few people’s hair with big beautiful puffs. I never bothered to inquire or research how they achieved the look. How difficult can blow drying your hair be? After all, when my hair was relaxed, I blow dried it a million times with ease. Well, this experience for me is one for the books. If I ever choose to achieve this look again, I will definitely let the professionals do it.
Maybe there is a better way, a better process to achieve the look. If there are any natulalista’s out there I’d love to get the scoop.

My lesson learned: The grass is not always greener. Some fantasies are best left as fantasies.  
  • Have you ever fantasized about something that became a disappointing reality?
  • Was the effort worth the outcome? I’d love to hear your story.

Going Natural Should Not Be Limited To Your Hair

This is the forth and final part of my Natural Hair, Don’t Care Series. In case you missed them, please check out Part 1:Self Esteem, Part 2: Life’s Detour and Part 3: My No Routine Hair Routine here.

Nowadays, when we hear people say that they’re “going natural”, we often think in terms of growing natural hair without the use of chemicals. The term natural actually means closest to nature. As a society, we tend to categorize and compartmentalize different aspects of what we feel being natural is. When we refer to recycling or utilizing natural resources, such as solar and wind energy, we call it going green. When we refer to things that we eat, we call it eating organic. There are growing segments of the population that embrace one or more aspect of being natural, but very seldom do we find individuals who combine these and other practices into one holistic and natural lifestyle.

I’ll admit that I’m not as natural, green or organic as I’d like to be. The meat of choice in our home is fish but I seldom buy organic fish. The milk of choice is almond and pretty much the only things that get recycled are plastic containers and grocery bags. We did change our light bulbs from fluorescent to halogen…I guess that would count as going green.
My point is that “going natural” should be about having an overall consciousness of our health and well being and not just what we put in our hair. If I’m going to avoid putting harsh chemicals in my hair, why not also try to avoid eating foods with harsh chemicals in the form of artificial ingredients and preservatives?
I consider myself to be pretty health conscious. I understand the importance of have a proper functioning nervous system and immune system. I exercise on a regular basis, eat fairly healthy and place a lot of emphasis on my spiritual connection and relationship with God. All of these to me are components of being close to nature. Prior to going on my natural hair journey, I mostly read food ingredients. Now I read ingredients on most products that I put in my hair, on my skin and products that I clean with.

Hair journey? Eating organic? Going green? What ways have you gone natural?

Natural Hair, Don’t Care 3:My No -Routine Hair Routine

Well, its been a year and eight months since my last relaxer and about a year since my big (deal) chop. In case you missed it, please check out part 1 and part 2 of my natural hair series; Self Esteem and Life’s Detour.

natural+hair+pink

Tiny fro (pic1)

Initially, I was willing to try just about any combination of products. It didn’t take long before I realized that I was spending in my estimation, way too much time on my hair. But compared to other “naturalists” it seemed like I wasn’t spending enough time.I would say my natural hair care routine is virtually non existing. I wash and condition my hair about once a week, sometimes two or three times depending on my workout intensity. I generally moisturize, add oil  (like jojoba or tea tree oils) and let it air dry. If I have time, Ill do cornrows in the front and either leave the back out or wear a beanie (Pics #1& 2).

When it was shorter and my new fro was still new to me, I continually looked for fresh ways to style it (Pic.#3). I asked whoever would listen for advice on how they took care of their hair. Everyone that I asked who’s natural hair looked really nice, began to list their hair care regimen. They listed a multitude of conditioners, creams, oils, moisturizers and lotions. They detailed the washing, co-washing, conditioning, moisturizing, stretching, twisting, avoiding heat and the list went on and on.

natural+hair+beanie

braids and beanie (pic2)

Eventually, I began to grow leery of the effort it was taking for the up keep of my hair. I heard talks about different hair textures like 4a, 4b etc. I never bothered to find out what texture my hair was. The texture I identify with is soft and kinky. That’s about as technical as I’m willing to get. In an effort to maintain my sanity and not start to resent my kinky curls, I developed my no-routine, hair routine. I began taking care of my hair not very different from how I take care of my body. I keep it clean, hydrated and groomed. Once in a while, on special occasions, I spend a little more time making sure that it’s just right. Other than that, I try to do styles that will last for about a week at a time and when I get tired of styling it, I get braids. I enjoy wearing my natural hair and I don’t plan on relaxing it anytime soon. Everyone is different so I do what works for me.

twistout

Twist out

Personally, I’m convinced that natural should extend beyond just hair care (a topic that I’ll address in the 4th and final Natural Hair, Don’t Care series). What we put in our bodies should be more important than what we put or don’t put on our hair.I realize that its important to invest time, energy and resources into something that you care about and want to see grow and flourish. I honestly wish I had the time and patience required to have a more involved hair care routine. I know that the things that I prioritize in my life such as  my relationship with God, the cohesiveness of my marriage,  the health and well being of my children  and the success of my chiropractic practice is cultivated through dedication, consistency and hard work. Similarly, I believe that if my health is a priority and I’m taking care of my inside; my hair will also reflect overall health.

Do you have a hair care routine? Natural or not, I’d love to hear it.

Disclaimer: I’m really not big on posting a bunch of head shots of myself. The purpose of these is simply to show some of the styles I talked about in this post. I hope it doesn’t seem narcissistic:-)

Natural Hair, Don’t Care2:Life’s Detour

Recently I blogged about my decision to go natural. You can read about it here. Once I made the decision, I started my research. I had just gotten my hair braided so I figured I had at least 4 weeks to learn as much as possible. I read tons of articles on transitioning, hair textures, products, styles, the  list goes on. My biggest question was should I do the big chop or should I transition slowly with the help of braids. Being the ultra conservative person that I am coupled with my apprehension of cutting my shoulder length hair, I decided to slowly transition and gradually clip off the relaxed ends. (At least that was the plan…)

Mom and josiah christmas park 2010

My relaxed hair

When I finally removed my braids about 6 weeks later, I didn’t anticipate that my roots would be as tangled as they were. I saturated my entire head with conditioner, put on a shower cap and did some house work for about two hours. After I rinsed out the conditioner, I was mortified by what I encountered. I was left with one matted mess. I was totally amazed at how tangled my hair was..instant dreads. I called my sister who happens to be a licensed cosmetologist and told her my dilemma. She said the following;

  • Prior to wetting my hair, I should have applied oil to the tangled area for easier detangling
  • I should have shampooed and deep conditioned only AFTER I detangled my dry hair
  • Relaxed hair is weaker when wet.
  • The point between new growth and relaxed hair is the weakest part of my strand, I may experience breakage there.

Somehow, I interpreted what she said to mean that I should now blow dry my hair, pour some oil and try to detangle it again. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. My hair was dry, brittle, stiff and my scalp felt as though someone had sand papered it. It was coming out in clumps mostly from the roots (pictured below). But I continued to painstakingly detangle what seemed like one strand at a time. The final results: my hair went from healthy shoulder length hair (pictured above), to brittle, damaged, short hair (also pictured below).


hair breakage

before detangling

after detangling

Out of frustration, I contemplated just having it relaxed again, but the thought of anything touching my scalp made me cringe. A few weeks later, I decided to have all the relaxed ends cut off but I wasn’t ready or confident enough to rock my short “fro” so once again I opted for braids; but this time cornrows. The braids were extremely tight.When I left the salon, my scalp felt like it was on fire. The pain was so excruciating I took a few over the counter pain medicine (and I’m not one to take medication very easily). I used an ice pack to try to ease the pain. I watched as the tension of my hair pulling on my scalp caused my scalp to bleed. I developed scabs and my hair eventually pulled completely out of my head. After four torturous days, I removed the braids.

tight braids hair loss

Having enduring such a painful ordeal, I decided that our family vacation would be a good opportunity to wear my natural hair out and get used to the feel and the look of it. Not having to deal with braids, hair pieces or hats was liberating! When I got back I was rested, rejuvenated and ready to embrace my new hair. In part 3 of my Natural Hair, Don’t Care series, I’ll talk about my ‘”no routine” hair routine.
When I made a decision to “go natural”, I devised a  plan and a road map to get there. I’ve learned that even with research, preparation and the best intentions, things don’t always go according to plan. The reality was that there were a lot of detours, set backs and opportunities to quit. But I was determined to stay the course. Life can be very unpredictable. We are often faced with a variety unexpected road blocks. I believe that the best way to overcome life’s setback is to let the Word of God navigate our life’s journey and make sure that our plans are in line with God’s plan.

What are some unexpected detours you’ve experienced and how did you respond?

Natural Hair, Don’t Care1: Self Esteem

laurenhill

Lauren Hill sporting her natural hail long before it was trendy

Recently there have been a popular trend among African American women and women of color to “go natural” especially after the movie “Good Hair” by Chris Rock premiered in 2009. I’ve decided to do a series on my natural hair journey, highlighting the deeper issues that surfaced during the process.

In February of 2011, my almost 4 year old daughter came home from school and said that most of her friends had white skin and straight blond hair and that she wanted it too. My heart skipped a beat, sunk and then rose up into my throat. My husband and I have always told our daughter how beautiful, unique and very special she was because God made her perfect. But as I began to reiterate on how beautiful her brown skin and her coiled hair was, she turned to me and said “Mommy, I know I’m beautiful and I know I’m special. Maybe my hair doesn’t have to be blonde, but I wish it was straight like your hair?” I thought about going the route of telling her that Mommy’s hair is relaxed and that when you’re older, you can have your hair relaxed also. But instead I felt a personal conviction. I knew that I was not prepared to put chemicals in my daughter’s hair and I wanted to be careful about the type of message that I was sending her about beauty and self acceptance. I simply said, “Baby, I have hair just like yours and I’m gonna stop straightening it so that we can celebrate our curly coiled hair together”.

I made up my mind that I was going to stop relaxing my hair and get reacquainted with my natural texture. When I decided to “go natural”, instead of getting a retouch, I got my hair braided. I had no idea, however, what “going natural” entailed. I was in for a rude awakening; the details of which I will talk about in part 2 of my Natural Hair; Don’t Care” series. 

While I chose to respond by going natural, I am in no way implying or suggesting that moms who choose not to go natural or even choose to relax their child’s hair is sending the wrong message. I believe that building  positive self esteem first begins with laying the foundation that we are a reflection of Christ’s image. Because issues of inferiority and low self esteem can surface at such a young age, it is imperative as mothers that  we are our daughter’s first role model. This conversation with my 4 year old reminded me that I have an awesome opportunity to be a positive example to her; to help her develop a healthy sense of her worth by immersing her with positive attention, encouraging words and exposing her to positive images that looks like her. I am also reminded that I have the responsibility of resisting the temptation of complaining about my appearance in her presence. So whether your hair is natural or straight, building positive self esteem is a step by step process that begins at home.

How do you respond to your child who wants to look like their friend? What are some ways  you help boost your child’s self esteem?