“I need a perm”

I’ve been gone for a while travelling for the summer. I had an opportunity to take in Caribbana in Toronto, Ontario and I’ve gone down south which wasn’t as much for travel, but I got kidnapped for a day by my crew in Atlanta and taken on a whirlwind vacation for a day.

In this time, I had my camera and business cards ready to capture some awesome natural styles and bring back some great things to share with you. I was sadly disappointed. There were considerably less hot natural styles in Toronto than I anticipated. This seems to have been the summer of the weave. You, our loyal reader, know that we are not on the anti-weave bandwagon here at OohMyHair, but it would’ve been nice to see a few hot braided, twisted-out, funky Afros.

So I did some observing via social media and gravitated towards posts about hair just to see how the conversations went. On multiple occasions I found women at a loss for what style to attempt next, being recruited by some of our fellow sisters in kinks and curls. The responses were mind-blowing:

 I just can’t..” “I have to get a relaxer my hair is rough…” “Girl, not this mess perm me up NOW!

 

 

Who told you that your hair wasn’t manageable? Who made you believe that what grows out of your head is unacceptable? Why do you keep selling this idea to yourself? Please understand that a natural is not only an Afro or braids.

As stated in many previous posts, there are professionals that are able to show you how your hair works. There is no difference in the learning curve, your relationship with the rain will most likely not change much. If any of the answers were simply “I like it this way.” I wouldn’t have the same reaction, however it’s time to break through the lies that society would have you to believe about your hair. There are so many things that you can do with your natural curls, and it’s beautiful! It all comes down to the beauty of the strength in character that is displayed when you’re comfortable in exactly who you are. Don’t let people’s opinions steal that away from you.

 

As usual, ask questions when it stops making sense, we love and support you.

 

 

 

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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!

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!