Perception Deception (don’t believe the hype)

Nobody prepares you for the spectacle you may become the further into the natural journey you travel. I remember my first month natural, people talked about how they were surprised that my hair was essentially a bunch of ringlets, I still can’t imagine exactly what they were expecting.

There are some people, even African-Americans that hear the word “natural” in reference to hair and their mind drills down to a picture from National Geographic from the 1970s. Honestly I had hopes that my hair would spring forth and declare without words my African roots and serve as a symbol of pride in my ancestors that arrived in South Carolina on a boat from Ghana and from those three sisters I sit in a boardroom like fearless and “reppin’ my people”. However, my lineage, as most pre-1800’s lineage African-Americans, is much more complex and with that I’m left with a head of hair that boasts cowlicks  and whirls in the midst of my ringlets and waves.

It is that fact that caused me to seek professional assistance along my hair path my first few years. Because all of the passed down information and the few YouTube videos out at the time I found myself lost when people started giving curl classifications and assigning DIY styling instructions based on 3c, 2b, etc. and noticed that I’d have to change techniques from one section of hair to the next. When I took time away from wearing a styled afro and took what I call a braid break, I’d get one price when they looked at my hair, and about halfway through I’d get a new quote for the next time because my shrinkage would hide not only the length but how full my head of hair was at the time. This would incite a gathering of the braiders behind my chair and a few of them reaching in to touch a few different spots in my head and discuss it among themselves in French.

The most notable part of my past journey revolved around the curiosity that my hair created, in others as well as introspectively. It will take time to get used to exactly what your hair is going to look like so use the words, videos and instructions as a baseline to formulate your own techniques.

Just a bit of fortune cookie wisdom. Enjoy!

The Details

The Details

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Loc Life Thus Far

So I started this blog as a way to give back for the past decade of having natural hair. I’m starting on this journey with locs (sometimes referred to as dreadlocks). I usually am able to manipulate my curl pattern to submit to my will but this new phase in life is proving the exact opposite. I don’t believe there has been a time that I’ve been forced to “deal with” my hair quite as much as now.

Maintenance: Very low, there’s not much to do. My biggest decision in the morning is headband vs no headband. I cover my hair so much more now than ever before.

The Good: My hair is actually being left alone and allowed to grow. I cleanse my hair much more gently than before and I’ve reduced the amount of chemically enhanced shampoo I introduce to my scalp. Conditioner has become my friend. The health of my hair currently has not been matched in any other state. It never feels dry and my ends have a new life as the curly ornaments at the bottom of my locs.

The Bad: I have been a style heavy Fro rocker for years. I honestly miss being able to do a funky pin-up and I’ve acquired a case of  Fro-envy every time I see fun Big hair. I’ve had to take my own advice dished out in “They’re All Going to Laugh At You” and throw on some earrings and go. Trust me I fully understood the difficulty when I wrote that piece.

The Ugly: There are some days that my hair decides that it wants to puff up/ unravel / do “The Watusi” and there’s nothing that I can do. The game doesn’t change because I’m in the loc process, hair will do what it wants sometimes and now that I don’t have heat styling tools and wet setting at my disposal I’m forced to be content with whatever happens up there.

I’ve attached some photos to show my process. Usually this is the part that you ask questions when things stop making sense, but I’d love some support and advice since I’m the newbie in this realm.

We Thought You’d Laugh

Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube

Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here at OohMyHair.com we love a YouTube comedy crew called Dormtainment. This week they posted a skit revolving around natural hair and we thought our followers would enjoy. As we don’t agree with every perspective portrayed in the skit a couple of us have been through a similar situation and thought that our readers would enjoy holding the conversation. After you watch their video we’d love to hear your thoughts on a couple of points.

Do you feel as though your significant other should influence your transition decision?

Are you avoiding “The Big Chop” out of fear of causing a commotion?

And for our vets, how similar is your transition story?

Let us know, and be sure to subscribe to their channel not everything they post is about natural hair but they provide laughs.

Leave your answers in the comments below so we can respond and get everyone involved.

Enjoy!

 

The Big Chop by Dormtainment

Hair Won’t Kill My Vibe…

English: Birch Bay has some of the warmest wat...

English: Birch Bay has some of the warmest water on the Pacific Coast, making the crescent-shape bay a favorite place for swimming during summer season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the Summer season approaches there are some things to remember that will let you make it all the way to Fall without dry-outs or breakage. We’ll keep it short and sweet (We’re vacationing as well).

1. Water- Of course you need to drink it and often, but tis the season for getting in pools. Both chlorine and salt water pools will dry out your hair, but don’t let that stop your from enjoying yourself. Prior to getting in the water, take that Shea butter that we talk about and love and coat your hair well. Giving your hair this oil barrier will help slow the drying effects of the pools, lakes and oceans.

2. Riding- Plane, Bus or Car if you’re traveling this summer season, your head is on a seat and the moisture is being slowly sucked out. Stop by your local drug store in the hair aisle and next to the satin scarves you should be able to find a satin pillow case. Add this to your travel kit. We understand that you can’t always have on your scarf, sometimes the style is just too cute to keep under wraps, so place that pillowcase over the headrest and arrive in style.

Keep it simple, don’t think so much about your hair on holiday that you forget to have fun. Hair should not be a chore, just add a few good habits at a time. As always ask questions when it stops making sense. Enjoy!

They’re all going to laugh at you…

Rihanna and Chris Brown concert, Brisbane Ente...

Rihanna and Chris Brown concert, Brisbane Entertainment Centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post is for the sister sitting at home contemplating making the change. She’s sitting in front of her computer looking for videos, blog posts and comments for encouragement to do something she’s been wanting to do for quite some time. “Why doesn’t she just start the process and see how she likes it?” says the avid reader of OohMyHair.com. “Do what makes you feel good girl!” they continue to shout at the computer as they’ve thought about a few people in their personal lives that seem to be going through the same thing.

We know it’s hard to believe in a world where Rihanna, Amber Rose and India.Arie exist and thrive that there are still women afraid to make bold hair moves in 2013. Nobody on the staff can stand as a judge, because we’ve all been there. To the sister that’s searching the web high and low trying to find a way to make that first step, we say, bust a move!

There are so many resources and far more sophisticated products available now. Consider those of us on staff that started this journey when the only people who were available to help were people who smelled funny and made up words like the inmate character that Daman Wayans played on In Living Color. A few posts back we talked about some of the bad advice that was, and still is, floating around the once small community. There were times that some of us had so much product doused all over our heads that had there been an open flame nearby a situation would’ve arisen. We say that to let you know that even though this journey has had some not so fun times, the joy that you find in learning to deal with exactly what you’ve been given and love it is indescribable.

Push past that wall of vanity. We still deal with perception and confidence issues in the back of our minds, especially in the “Corporate world”. However, the moment you realize that the styling that needs to take place is not on top of your head but inside it, you’ll find that the most important factor in this decision is your own personal happiness. In later posts we will discuss some of the health risk factors that may aid you in deciding to take the leap towards natural hair, but today it’s all about you feeling sure and knowing that there is nothing abnormal about taking your time.

We wish you luck, but even more we ask you to stop by every now and then and pick up a few tips and funny stories even if you decide that natural isn’t for you. As always, please ask questions when it stops making sense. Enjoy!

With Imagination and a Hair Bag….

A Bobby-pin

A Bobby-pin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone at OohMyHair.com decided to bring you a “Must Have” list of products and tools to be sure that you’re ready for the journey. Our vets (natural for over 2 yrs) can benefit from this list as well.1. All Satin Everything- Wherever you put your head, do your best to have either a scarf, pillow case, piece of satin fabric there to stop the loss of moisture. Just as a paper towel absorbs so do all wood/plant-based fabrics. Satin helps your hair retain its moisture. Some of us even line our headrests in our cars. (It’s that deep)

2. Absolutely Shea- A tub of some whipped shea butter will help you get through the dry times (We don’t mind killing this issue, it’s important).

3. Denman Brush- An orange rubber based plastic tipped brush is great for removing dust and debris from your hair between cleansing. Start from the ends and work in small sections, brush in the same manner that you de-tangle and once you’ve cleared a section all the way to the scalp twist or braid it down.

4. Wide-toothed Comb- Even if you have a larger curl pattern, on your deep conditioning days, you will use this to avoid snapping any hair. The sound of the comb popping against your hair is an indication that something wrong is taking place. There’s nothing worse than trying to get through a head of hair with the wrong size comb for general hair care (Think about the scene in The Color Purple with the little girl hollering at the table getting her hair combed).

5. Side Combs- Keep a few side combs in your arsenal. You never know when you may be in the mood to rock a mean 1988 Vanessa from the Cosby Show Fro without taking a trip to the barber shop. Ladies that are able to achieve this type of afro can mold it into lots of fun shapes to create some unique and beautiful styles without much skill. If your curl is a bit more loose you can still use the side combs and let your hair take a life of its own with some fresh pin-ups.

6. Bobby-Pins – Because sometimes is takes more than a side comb to get the job done! Also, if you don’t want the ornamental element in your style, the bobby-pin can do the job without being seen.

7. Your absolute favorite leave-in conditioner. We completely love Jane Carter and Taliah Waajid, either line provides great moisture and lovely light scents that don’t kill your perfume’s vibe. Whatever your product of choice try to be sure there’s no alcohol in it and get your Soul Glo on when your hair needs that extra boost of moisture. It’s also nice after a good cleansing. Sometimes it’s nice to add moisture without dealing with so much oil.

Of course these are just the basics, I know one staff member that has a bathroom closet full of just about everyone’s product line. This list should get you through most Hair-mergencies and Tress-gressions between salon visits. Cleanliness, Moisture and Style…don’t leave home without them.

As always, ask questions when it stops making sense. Enjoy!

What’s in your bag? Share some of your go to hair bag essentials, we’d like to hear from you!

 

That Kind of Hair Day

English: Erykah Badu; Live in Bruges, Belgium ...

English: Erykah Badu; Live in Bruges, Belgium – 2006; (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nobody is exempt from a not so easy to deal with hair day (we’re trying to avoid “bad hair”). No matter your texture, curl pattern, color or length, sometimes our hair just refuses to comply. Here’s a few go to looks, sure to counter cantankerous tresses.When in doubt, wild it out.

Lucky for all of us the Bohemian look is in right now. On the days that nothing will tame your hair, use some type of ornament (headband, flower) and rock it with confidence. Nothing says I meant to do this like adding a finishing touch. This should be reserved for the weekend if you’re not able to get some professional assistance.

Tai Chi the Situation.

Try not to fight your curl pattern on these days. Try to put your hair in the most calm state possible. Condition, rinse and style. Notice that I did not suggest shampoo. Unless you’ve switched to a sulfate free product sometimes shampoo only makes the situation worse. This is the technique that you read about on other blogs and websites called Co-wash. During this process massage the hair rather than rough manipulations to allow your texture to reveal itself. When you’re ready to rinse don’t completely remove all product, leave some conditioner behind to help keep your hair pliable. Part your hair and two-strand twist it down while it’s wet, make the twists the size that your hair will roll into easily without much tension. You can air dry and wear this style for a day or two and continue to add moisture, once it seems that your hair has calmed you can take down the twists and wear your hair curly. You’ve turned one difficult hair day into two great styles.

Walk away from the scissors.

If you feel like your ends may need to be clipped call in the Pro’s. There are some people who will tell you to go through your hair and clip your single strand knots, but for days like this keep the scissors out of your hands until you return to a more comfortable state. This feeling has led many to secondary and tertiary big chops all over the world. The problem that many of us have found is that the problem increases from uncooperative hair to ends that won’t curl down. If your regular stylist is not available, go to a mall salon and get a deep conditioning treatment. You may discover that there’s no need to cut and you’ll most likely walk away with a style you can live with until you get a better idea.

Scarf styles.

There are many ways that one can wear a scarf. This is not the time to get your sleep scarf and head to Wall-Mart only to end up the subject of another blog. We try to keep a few pieces of nice light  decorative fabrics around to play with a few looks. Some of us here at OohMyHair.com go for the Erykah Badu look, while others go more T-shirt bun India.Arie. Be creative, there are some fabrics that are thick enough to make the African headdress look that was so popular in the 90’s. Remember to line your scarf with satin (do this also with your hats), no need to lose moisture while you’re taking some time out to think of a new style.

Above all else carry your head with confidence. Even Oprah’s had some not so great hair and she’s got a team dedicated to just that. Don’t beat up the mirror or curse your ancestors, just own this moment (because it won’t always be like this) and strut your stuff. Take what could have been an Eww my hair day, and flip it to an Ooh my hair day.

As always ask questions when it stops making sense. Enjoy!

Natural but versatile

photo (4)

Have you ever stood in the mirror and noticed that your hair was winning the fight? The answer for me is yes.  I decided that I was going to win the battle a long time ago.  I have been natural for 3 years now.  At first it was hard for me to make this choice because almost everyone I knew that was natural was rocking an afro or twists.  I must admit I wasn’t sold on actually going natural.  A relaxer or (perm) was the life for me.  Unfortunately my hair said otherwise.  Ever since I was a young child I have had psoriasis. In case you are wondering what psoriasis is, its dry white patches or lesions that are found on the scalp.

Symptoms of moderate to severe scalp psoriasis include:

  • Reddish plaques
  • Silvery-white scales
  • Dandruff-like flaking
  • Dry scalp
  • Itching
  • Burning sensation or soreness
  • Hair loss

I actually didn’t get my first relaxer until I was 15.  I thought was my hair was so pretty when it was relaxed.  It was straight, I could get updos, and it didn’t shrink back down to my head when it was raining outside.  About 4 months later I noticed my hair started falling out and the relaxers were burning.  So my hairdresser started perming my hair every 8 weeks instead of 6 and used a kiddie relaxer.  My hair did a little better but it was still dry.  I would grease my scalp at night and the next morning when I would wake up it seemed as though I hadn’t did anything to my scalp.  I decided to take a break from relaxers and get braids. I tried micros, box braids, and senegalese twists.  I decided to try the relaxer one more time once I got to college and I cut my hair very short cut.  I loved the cut and I even tried some color too.  My scalp was not having it. I turned to braids once again.  I wanted a new look so I tried sew-ins.  I love sew-ins.  I quit relaxing my hair 3 years ago.

The choice I made to go natural was not for fashion or even to release my natural curl pattern. I know that because I have psoriasis I am not able to rock a relaxer any longer because I want healthy hair. My hair has not broken off since I quit relaxing.  I feel that it is stronger and thicker.  I have a nice curl pattern, however I am not comfortable rocking an afro.  I will blow dry my hair and flat iron it or just put it in a bun.  I think India Arie said it best ” I am not my hair.” My hair doesn’t define me.  I am strong, confident, and I like to look nice when I go out into this crazy word.

Please share your comments or questions below!

Until next time this is mspilar85.

To Grow, or Scalp to Show? That was the question…

Not a full year of growth. After 2nd big-chop

Not a full year of growth. After 2nd big-chop

A great question came in from a reader in the Ohio area.

“What made you decide to go natural?”

I realized I never shared the story. Also, there will be more than one author on this blog so there should be a few answers to this question in the near future.

Phase 1: Relaxers stopped working

I’d moved from Ohio to Georgia and noticed that it took a much stronger relaxer (brand and strength), to achieve the same looks that I’d become accustomed to. I was a teenager so the stylists in the salons attributed the change to my hormones, similar to how some pregnant women are not able to color their hair to the desired result using the same methods. Everyone was telling me that my chemical make up and I didn’t understand, but about six months after I made changes in brands and strength, the problem showed up again. There were many braid breaks taken in this phase. I actually learned how to cornrow (braid to the scalp) as a result of the struggle.

Phase 2: Relaxers started to burn like never before.

Having spent the majority of my childhood with a regular relaxer, I was no stranger to the rules; “Don’t scratch before you relax!”. However I’d taken a job out of high school in Chicago (that’s a sophisticated way to say I joined the Navy), and we were not in a position to do much outside of shampoo for a period of ten weeks. Equipped with all my years of experience, I purchased a Regular relaxer from the Navy Exchange and applied it per the directions. I’d never felt a burn quite like that. I felt like the scene in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X where the water was turned off in mid-process. I walked away with a decent amount of hair but I had scabs on my scalp, evidence of chemical burns, and I couldn’t touch up my new growth until I was sure that everything healed. This is when I fell back on my quick-weave talent and kept my hair involved in some type of total coverage weave. The benefits were gaining a couple of clients in the barracks, but I joined with a full head of hair and I was headed to my next duty station in shambles.

Phase 3: Dead scraggly ends.

I was stationed in New Orleans at Naval Support Activity, (which is now Federal City), and the Exchange salon was very reasonably priced. I could easily maintain a weekly appointment for less than $35-$40. My cosmetologist, who quickly became my very good friend Merle, made it all make sense. The relaxers stopped working partly because of my hormones, but also because I’d built a resistance to the chemicals over time and excessive exposure. The same way that medicines start to lose their effectiveness, it rings  true regarding chemical processes. The lightbulb went off and I thought about how many times (between salon visits) I decided to touch up my own relaxer and I’d read a box label that stated “New Formula”, which means that the companies are aware that the formulas need to change to maintain our brand loyalty, however in doing so we are being exposed to stronger chemicals. Merle is also who inspired me to consider cosmetology because of how much I would pick her brain in the chair and come back with information I’d researched on my own.

Phase 4: I got over myself.

There was a certain level of vanity attached to me even having to think twice about going natural. I had never seen my natural curl pattern and my only memory of it was associated with hot comb burns, breaking teeth on the blow dry attachment and strife in general. I was honestly not invested in maintaining my own curls until about four years into the process. It was in that time that I was away from my stylist as a result of Hurricane Katrina and I’d learned through trial and error that I actually had more freedom and flexibility without a relaxer. I found ways to achieve every look I desired without the aid of straightening chemicals.

I ended up on this path because it was the one that benefited me th most. It had absolutely nothing to do with any spiritual path, mother nature, “overstanding” the significance of the power in the spiral or any other cliché label that people try to attach to this choice. There are many people who will say silly things like “She went natural for the wrong reason”. Honestly, there’s no such thing. If being vain and jumping on a fad leads you to making a healthy decision, we (The OohMyHair.com crew) extend you the same welcome as the sister that wants to get in touch with her heritage. We promote self-love and good information. There can be many triggers that lead you here.  We hope to have the content and answers to help you stay. As always ask questions when it stops making sense. Enjoy!

Poo Foolery

English: Wild hair

English: Wild hair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the first few months of my journey prior the decision to go for the big chop I was hit with tons of BAD information. Most of it revolved around Shampoo. We helped steer you clear of lots of that info by presenting “Cleansing 101: Poo Basics”, but everybody thought it would be fun to share some of the myths.

Myth 1- You need to strip the relaxer out of your hair, use a harsh shampoo daily until you start to see a change in texture.

What’s really happening: your hair is getting killed slowly, that frazzled look is damage. Relaxed hair is forever relaxed, you want it gone? Cut it off… eventually.

Myth 2- Start air drying your hair (not set your hair and let it dry).

The truth: Yes you should reduce the heat applied to your hair, however, remember when we talked about weak spots in “Holding on to the Length”? This is where many people go wrong. Your relaxed hair may look nice when wet, especially if you’ve been getting a professional relaxer that didn’t completely eradicate your curl pattern…. but that’s still chemically treated hair. If you don’t create some type of consistency from scalp to ends you’re asking for breakage, and you’ll be wondering why. Remember, set it or blow it out. Low heat is fine, it will take a while but it will still work.

Myth 3- Sea Breeze is great for cleansing your hair.

The funky facts: All smells aside, there’s alcohol in it. Would you rub your scalp with Purell? Seriously. But I was crazy enough to believe (this is the early 2000’s) that it was the revolution of hair cleansing. I honestly thought that it was going to keep my Afro from shrinking.

Myth 4- Dirt makes your hair grow.

Reality: Leaving your hair alone and not constantly combing and manipulating allows unencumbered growth. It’s really not the dirt. I sincerely don’t care what you’re trying to accomplish with your hair, you need to knock the dirt off.

Hope you are able to laugh at my mistakes and not fall into any traps. There’s a lot of “Kitchmatologists” out there with the latest craze. If you hear a new one, run it by us and we’ll see if we can break down the logic. As always ask questions when it stops making sense. Enjoy!