Nappy Out Loud 0.1

So I hope you all rock with me on this. This is the first post of many where I plan to explore the life of being natural in a world that hasn’t quite figured out what that means. These posts are strictly for entertainment/encouragement. I still want it to be easy for you to find the tips and tricks but this part needs to be shared. These will fall under “The Journey” category if you ever miss a story and want to find it quickly.

Currently I’m in Ohio and the natural hair movement here is a bit different. The spectrum ranges from the militant “Overstand me” black is beautiful crowd; to the divas that are along for the trend and the thick swinging hair. Then there are people like me that are in the middle and see the economical, mental and physical benefits of not subjecting oneself to European standards of beauty on African hair and body.

So what’s the point of starting this series?

Because I still get stared at walking down the street when I’m having a big hair day. Not just from the little old white ladies that you expect to serve you major side-eye, but from people who I think look like me. I know I can’t be the only one.

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I used to make up stories for people when I caught them staring.

“It must be because I’m tall.”

“Maybe I’m wearing something that they haven’t seen before.”

Or my favorite line that I know my man is thoroughly tired of;

“Do I look crazy?” 

The fact of the matter is that there are not many, in this area at least, that are un-apologetically Nappy Out Loud.

Nappy Out Loud: The act of having nappy hair outside, in front of people, on purpose.

Now I embrace the fact that I’m unique, but what I’ve embraced even more are the phenomena that take place (I looked it up, that’s the right word) when I’m out since I’ve just owned my individuality in style. The young girls that stop me in malls or out on the town and start conversations about my hair just when I really start to feel my odd ball vibe turn up a notch.

“I’ve been thinking about going natural.”

“Is that all your hair?”

“How long have you been natural? I just started, what do you use?”

So if you’re out there hiding under a weave, a hard press or just in a state of not being quite ready to give the world your 100% natural self. I hope that in the upcoming weeks (or however long this still makes sense to do) as I share stories of what I’ve experienced you find the courage to be Nappy Out Loud!

Be sure that you subscribe and share with all of your friends (CLICK THAT FOLLOW BUTTON IN THE TOP LEFT). I plan on telling you all the stories that I usually keep to myself, as they occur. From the people who I catch staring and what I say, to the ones that actually have the nerve to touch my hair or say something crazy. (LOTS OF IN-LAW STORIES ON DECK …. They’re not ready).

Join me on this journey, Nappy Hair, Out Loud, In front of people.

-Clutched pearls and twirled curls

 

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The Fine Print

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The devil is in the details. 

So I thought I’d share a hair journey moment brought to you by moving too fast and not reading enough.

So I’ve been rocking the crochet braids this week and getting lots of compliments.

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One of my coworkers decided that she wanted to try the technique to add a pop of color to her locks. She has type 2b fine hair so finding a store with the color she wants in her texture proved to be a task.

Off to the store we go after work in search of some Crayon grade colored bulk hair. 

Fast forward,  that just doesn’t exist in a retail to the public environment. 

Being the creative genius that I imagine myself to be I suggest that we find a high level blonde (613 to be exact) and deposit the color she wants. Makes good sense,  sounds easy enough to achieve right? 

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Add this to some developer and we’ve got color right? 

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Baby,  when I tell you that hair served every level of little old lady bouffant tea… It looked like she went gray.

So why did that happen?
1. Notice the label on the first picture…. bogus human hair.  They had the nerve to lock it up with the real deal. Human Hair Quality is a nice way to say synthetic. Unless it’s a silk protein fiber, you can forget about color unless you spray it. 

2. That color was a tint!  The swatches lie. We should have never expected a vibrant color in the first place.

In the end we ended up just adding the tint to the ends of her hair.

I shared all this as encouragement in your DIY journey.  Reading is fundamental!  I hope you got a good laugh, we certainly split our sides when we realized the number of mistakes made in our execution of the style. We completely abandoned the initial plan and decided to try it on a day that we hadn’t just worked for hours having fried or brains. 

Hair is a process,  but tonight was a tribulation. If you can’t make it to a salon be sure that you read every label, like I’ve been preaching over the past year. Even the seasoned Old Fros get caught slipping. 

As usual ask questions when it stops making sense.
#LOVE

The Decision

I listen to The Breakfast Club every morning on iHeart Radio, and since it’s Monday, I thought it would be appropriate to title this post after the famous segment that sometimes feels real, but there’s no way that it is because the stuff is just so extreme, “The Decision”.

I chose this name because all weekend long people have been discussing in the different hair groups about what it means to be natural. I’ve shared my story on my decision, this time I’d like to take a look at the mentality behind a couple of the comments I’ve read and let you decide how you feel about what was said.

 

1. “It ain’t for everybody”

I’m a weirdo, so every time I hear that phrase, the above is what pops into my mind. This is a phrase that people have complained about/ celebrated in the hair community at large. Going natural is a personal choice to return to dealing with your hair as it grows from your head. That’s all. It’s not a calling to a higher purpose, it’s not a callback after an audition, it’s not the red or the blue pill. It’s a choice. It calls on your self-esteem, confidence, resolve, independence, and style preference for an answer… but it’s still just a choice.

There are two things that I don’t like regarding this comment.

A) The old head veterans like myself that take on that phrase is if returning to natural prior to 2003 put us on some conscious crusade in which we have survived the front lines, and anyone that comes along later has to get initiated into the sisterhood.

“Have you had your co-wash today?” *Insert Natural Hair pseudo-Greek step*

B) The select members of the relaxed  that use the term as a distancing phrase. As if they could not bare the thought of waking up one day just like God made them…as if it would diminish them to a level that only YOU the natural that clearly doesn’t care how the world sees them can exist comfortably.

There has to be a better way for us to convey that we are all beautiful any way that we decide to wear our hair. Any words akin to a “Girl, I don’t know how you do it” coming from either direction helps no one.

2. You say you’re natural, but what does that mean?

So we’ve got the Natural Hair Mafia that comes out to challenge anyone claiming their set.

“Well do you weave? Then you ain’t real.”

“How are you natural with that blonde in your hair?”

Your return to natural is your own journey. Nobody can define that for you. If you decide that your journey includes wearing a weave as a protective style so be it. If you decide that you just want your original curl pattern and not the color, that is also your business.

Don’t fall victim to the bullies that question your affiliation. Support is the key to this going from a fad to a movement to a lifestyle. The truth of the matter is: The curriculum availability is low, black people the world over are the only people who I have encountered that do not have a solid grasp on what it takes to style and care for our hair exactly the way that it grows from our head. In my opinion I believe it’s because we have the most versatile hair in that we can do either curly or strait, sculpted or free. It’s alarming but once you cross the line from relaxed to natural, lots of us rely on YouTube for answers.

You may have come here looking for some motivation to stay or return to natural. I hope that this brightened your day when you get hit with the situations above. Being/going natural is simply a decision. Knock the wind out of the big bad wolf and do what you feel is best for you. Women have survived for centuries as beautiful both with and without chemicals…. Ancient Egyptians were putting lead and copper on their EYES for crying out loud, we don’t need to try to get anyone on one side or the other, how about we just let one another live.

The Natural vs Nurture

Remember that post a while back about how we still need to do something to our hair and that being natural is not an excuse to just not do anything at all?

I’d like to modify my comments. While I strongly believe that one should refrain from being out in the world appearing that they have completely run out of “cares” to give; there’s a thin line between staying polished and being obsessive. I’ve had the privilege to be a part of quite a few fun and interesting natural hair groups and one thing that I notice is that many have not embraced the freedom.

 

As a former “Processed Princess” (something else I learned in one of the groups) I can remember a time that I could not leave the house without full accessories. I looked like an old school internet chat room avatar when I left the house. Even if I had on a hat, I had earrings and a flashy belt that made the look come together so I thought. I projected a load of insecurity which in turn attracted the wrong crowd of people and for a while I didn’t have a firm grasp on who I was without all of the junk on me.

 

How much of that comes from early childhood?

I am in no way bashing or putting down any of the women in my family, let’s be very clear. However, leaving the house for even the most simple trip was an ordeal everywhere I ever stayed. There were creams followed by lotions, combined with scents and topped with powders and lightly mist with sprays. Anything that wiggled was cinched and any hair out-of-place got a healthy slicking with some product and either an “edge brush” or a fine toothed comb. Scarves/Headwraps were reserved for African garments and most certainly not mixed with any American clothing. Keep in mind that the African garments were all special occasion wear and they too had to be cinched and pulled and tied into place.

There was never a time that I felt comfortable to just throw something on unless I was going out to get dirty (which upon meeting some people who knew me as a very small child, I was exceptionally good at avoiding for my age). In my early days of going natural I felt so unkempt that I was in the salon chair WEEKLY with a TWA(teeny weenie afro). I’d never witnessed anyone that left the house without everything slicked, taped, shined and greased get a warm reception from anyone that I knew.

 

Why would we want this for the next generation?

it’s easy to discuss celebrity kids because they are always on the news and in the public eye. The thing that has disturbed me for the past year is the level of conversation surrounding a particular toddler with extremely rich and powerful entertainers as parents (Yes, Blue Ivy). In the beginning I found myself instinctually on the side of “please do that baby’s hair” but as I’ve worked with so many of you and had an opportunity to observe others as well as think introspectively about this journey…. they are right on point. I have two Goddaughters with natural hair, I take the time to re-style the Barbie dolls so that they can have a toy designed to build female self-esteem that looks like them. Doesn’t it make sense to allow a child to become comfortable with exactly who they are without all of the things that we smooth, slather and sprinkle on them?

Think of the difference it would make in how some of these women that we see on television that degrade themselves just to become popular and in turn set horrible examples of being rewarded for being everything except who you were made to be. If we concentrated our efforts on not placing the same passed down insecurities that we’ve received from generations before us, what would the world look like in 15 short years? Would we start to see more Willow Smith and Blue Ivy imitators than our current situation of plastic, distorted body image, emotionally damaged women? Would Mona Scott have to find a new demographic to exploit because the ones that we would foster in this new generation cannot be bought because they know their worth and recognize their own face and hair?

 

I’m not saying that we should all just stop doing our hair and stage some Happy to be Nappy protest. This isn’t Occupy the Beauty Supply Store. I just want more for the young girls coming up now. They have a chance to be so much more powerful upon their formal introduction to adult-hood than my generation and the ones before. Powerful in a sense that they can learn to love and accept one another and not be as catty and judgmental as many of us have learned to be.

Learn to Love Your Natural Curls and Kinks….and One Another’s

 

It’s Our Special Day *sing that*

*Do you know what today is?
It’s our Anniversary!*

My deepest appreciation and gratitude for the support/ encouragement/questions/ feedback for the past 365 days. We’re babies in the natural hair blog community but you have shown SO MUCH LOVE! 

Thank You for trusting me enough  to ask questions. Thank you to my unofficial team that supports OohMyHair.com in the shadows.

S/O to The Natural Hair Blog Directory for pulling this hair veteran with a baby site into the fold. 

S/O to the mighty Google team for inviting me to be a member of the Helpouts community.

Last year I just wanted to share my story and help other people fall in love with their natural curls and kinks. The trajectory of this site brings me to my knees daily in Thanks. 

*Imagine me singing Whitney Houston’s  I will always love you*

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My original natural hair^ 🙂 (it was slicked back in a press & curl)

Product Selection Formula

I’ve received several requests for help with selecting products. Much of my Helpouts time has been spent doing just that, so I thought that I should share my formula on product selection.

 

Step One: Eliminate the products that contain, MEA, EDTA and parabens. Don’t be fooled by the front label that boasts of the infusion of all natural ingredients, flip that product over and read the back label. The above is not the full list of harmful chemicals but those have been  mentioned in studies regarding the harmful effects of chemicals in beauty products.

Step Two:Determine the needs of your hair. If you have dry hair, seek products that do not contain lanolin or mineral oils they will provide a false sense of moisture. If your hair is too oily, seek a clarifying and pH balancing shampoo and products.

Step Three: Figure out your styling needs. Too often I see women breaking out the edge control when their hair may only need a light mist of holding spray. It’s very easy early in your natural journey to style according to the needs of your relaxed hair, and even easier to style according to what your perception of society’s opinion dictates. The beauty of having naturally curly hair is that many styles will stay in place just because. Very rarely to I add even hair pins to my twist up-dos because I’m able to use the tension and the curl pattern, to my advantage. Less is more in this arena, start with the lightest product and build over time, you may find that the only “control” you need is some Shea butter and a brush.

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Step Three: Find the right price. Pay attention to how much you are spending. If there is a $50 product, there’s probably an equivalent in the $20 range. Combine steps one and two and narrow down the base ingredients in your desired selection and see who does it better. I’ve made the mistake of buying the high-end product with the motto in mind “you get what you pay for” when in reality, “you get what they sell you”. Be mindful of your needs and ask for samples prior to making any purchase over $10.

That’s it, my big secret is out. I make my own products using the base ingredients that my hair needs at the time, but when you see me in a store this is the process that’s taking place behind the scenes that leads my selection. Hope this helps, as usual, as questions if it stops making sense.

Enjoy your Journey!

Recovery Motivation

The wedding is over, it was absolutely gorgeous, and I get my hair back. There’s a phase that we all go through on the wash day after we know we’ve been acting funny towards our hair.

I went into instant heat damage detection mode. I watched every single strand that left my hair and freaked myself out. There’s no amount of knowing that your hair has a natural shed process that stops you from blaming yourself with every loose strand when you know you’ve done wrong. You reflect on every time you used the flat irons, every non-natural product you used, and every time your scarf fell off your edges while it was in such a delicate state.

I can laugh now because I’m looking at the extension on my diffused Fro, but last night I was sweating. I’m writing this knowing that there’s someone out there that feels like they are in a “backslidden”(made up church word) condition and you’re dreading that upcoming wash day to survey the aftermath of that crunchy up-do or that bone straight press that you touched up every morning all week. Here are a few words of encouragement for this point of the journey.

1.Be kind to your hair on the recovery and don’t freak out at shedding that seems a bit heavier than normal if you know you’ve done weird stuff to your hair. Use quality products with as little harmful ingredients as possible.

2. Try not to abandon your vitamins, but if you do (like I did, because I didn’t need my hair growing out like crazy) a couple of days before Wash Day get back on your normal dose.

3. Detangle with care. It’s ok to baby your hair. If you take your time you can avoid any further damage.

4. Forgive yourself. Every now and then we are called to pull up (get fancy) in a different way than we normally do and it’s alright to try different looks. If it’s not the creamy crack, you can always come right back.

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Be Encouraged 🙂

Nights like this I wish, I’d just cut it Off.

Picture it Cincinnati 2014.

I have my cousin’s wedding coming up and I’m extremely excited. It’s been a few days since the Bachelorette Party in Atlanta. The wedding is a week away and  I’m Maid of Honor, which means that I’ll show up in quite a few photos. The bride has requested that we all get weaves and put our hair in a beautiful style that she chose.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the style she chose, and she’s even been flexible on the texture of the weave.

Insert Quest.

I travel the city in search of just the right bundle of hair. I considered a curly pattern but worried that my hair wouldn’t blend with the slick feeling hair. My go to weave that matches my hair perfectly is synthetic and I’m just assuming that the stylist will use heat to achieve the style so that’s not an option…. I travel to the store of my youth, “Hair Lucky”.

After roughly an hour I locate a bundle of hair that the saleswoman assures me will blend well. I even touch the ends of the hair myself and note that it doesn’t have the slip that the other straight brands appeared to have.

Cut to my house.

I separate and braid my hair during my pre-Scandal evening and open the pack fully just as the first camera shutter sound crosses the screen.

Shiny ass hair = massive straightening of my hair required for blending.

It’s too late,  Abby is already getting paid dust at the campaign meeting and my hair is braided in a circle with the edges out.  This hair is going in my head.

The rest is too traumatic to share… In short there’s anti-frizz serum in my hair because it’s raining and I have to keep my edges laid. I almost passed out typing that.

Here’s the end result-

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I feel like a clown.  I feel guilty for putting the trash that is anti-frizz serum in my hair, mostly because I held on to a little before I took my natural journey all clean.  My poor blow dryer heat only hair has been sizzled with a flat iron in ways that would make many of my natural hair vets cringe.

So tonight’s mission is a Re-do (I will not let this be a real obstacle). If you know of a brand of weave that sells Super Wave in Human Hair that ships overnight contact me as soon as you’re finished reading.

I’ve had ideas of short styles… but I said that I would let it grow.  But a 2″ Fro with a Lotus cut into the side sounds dope.

Thanks for reading,  this was my hair therapy.  Have a backsliding hair story you’d like to share?  Email marellewrites@gmail.com I’ll keep you Anonymous if you’d like.

Stress= Hot Mess

This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking with the ladies that attended Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Pi Sigma Zeta Chapter’s  Girlz to Women Retreat. My presentation was on pampering your hair.

I gave the ladies the three pillars of my hair philosophy; Hydration, Sleep Care and Consumer Awareness.

A great time was had by all and there was a  from a lady that’s transitioning, that inspired a post.

I can’t quote it because I wasn’t able to write it down however it was essentially, why is my hair thinning in the middle (and there’s pain), even though I’m doing the things that I’ve been told are the things that will help my hair.

I took two directions with this question.

1. I had to address the pain.

Think back on the days that you had a relaxer on a regular basis. At least for me, I knew it was time for another hit of the creamy crack when my scalp started hurting. I thought it was because my hair was having withdrawals (go ahead and laugh). However, depending on your curl pattern and coarseness of the hair, the thickness of the strand past the first sprouting new growth (which still has chemical on it) may be enlarging the pore.

Now I’m going to WebMD freak you out about it. Pain is your body’s way of informing you of a process taking place, or an indication that something is wrong. If you’re experiencing pain, schedule a professional shampoo and inform your stylist of the issue. During consultation they can look to be sure that there is no broken skin, lesions, redness or swelling. If any of those are present they will advise you to seek medical attention from a dermatologist.

2. The thinning.

Repetition and Stress are the usual suspects. Sleeping on the same side, wearing the exact same style for long periods of time will get your hair, what people like to call “trained”. I told a story about how I used to part my hair in the same place so often that when it was time to comb out my wrap I could just shake my head and the hair would fall into place. If your hair journey is to have a full head of hair and maximize your versatility, I suggested the employment of my method I shared last week.

Stress is also the thief of hair. It can creep in and disrupt sleep patterns,  cause you to slack on your nutritional regimen which includes your water consumption. It can also internally disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and processes, slowing the signals that trigger growth. Address your issues and put as many of the to bed as possible. Your hair will thank you.

I hope I was able to help you this week. As you now know, if you need that one on one sister time, get on my Calendar on HelpOuts by Google.

LAUGH 🙂 Life is too short not to: Enjoy!

Why wait for a new post?

Now you can find out what you want when you want.

How so?
I’m proud to announce that Ooh My Hair is one of TWO Google Helpers available for live video assistance on helpouts.google.com

Helpouts are the latest addition to the Google family of helping you find the information you seek. This does not mean that I will blog less, in fact your session may inspire a post. Check out my profile and schedule a time. I’m excited and honored to have this opportunity to share the information that I’ve gathered on my journey with an even larger audience. I appreciate every single reader that has liked and followed this blog and put US (because face it we’re a family at this point) in this position.

THANKS & SEE YOU LIVE ON HELPOUTS 🙂