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.

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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!

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!

Beware the Kitchmatologist!

Hair Care

Hair Care (Photo credit: howzey)

What’s a Kitchmatologist?

There are many people all over the country that practice hair (like how I dressed that up?) out of their kitchen as nothing more than a way to make money. Let’s start off by saying that at its core there is nothing wrong with letting an experienced friend style your hair. There are also stylists that work in salons that refuse to attend any shows, don’t get more than the required continuing education credits who pose just as much of a threat to your hair health.

Ok, Where did this come from?

I took off yesterday to read around the WordPress community and see what’s the current buzz. I happened upon Hair Carer’s blog, which is pretty cool, and remembered a conversation that a hair school instructor held with me a while back. A hair license is not proof positive of anything other than a person sitting through requirements. Professionalism revolves around how seriously one invests in constantly learning and growing. Her term for people who didn’t take that time is, Kitchmatologist.

What’s the big deal?

You should be able to engage in intelligent dialogue regarding hair with whomever you entrust to aid in your hair’s health. The questions that you ask of Ooohmyhair.com, you should be able to get a well thought out answer from behind the chair as well. If that is not the case, and you feel like you’re never able to maintain a look/feel between visits, leave. I know that seems harsh but if your doctor never answered questions about your body’s health you’d be uncomfortable I’m sure. Your hair is not only your crown, but beyond the aesthetics, as we always discuss, your scalp is a gateway. The product additives that we’ve discussed previously in, Clean Curls 101:Poo Basics, and What’s the Deal with Shea? , the harm that they can potentially cause to your health happens through absorption into the scalp. You want to know the methods and philosophy your hair professional may hold since they have so much access.

Now What?

Prior to your next appointment (Dads on duty, this goes for you too), write down at least three new questions to ask your hair care professional. There is nothing wrong with them not having the answer immediately, but they should be willing to research and return with something helpful. It’s not a test of whether or not they know everything, that’s impossible, it’s a test of whether or not they care to keep you informed. If not, you may have identified a Kitchmatologist…. Run!

Clean Curls 101- Poo Basics

English: The hair care aisle of a supermarket ...

English: The hair care aisle of a supermarket in North America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does it matter?

First, the purpose of cleansing is to remove build-up and allow the hair to breathe and absorb nutrients essential for healthy growth. Cleansing also allows the hair to return to a stable pH balance and in doing so reduce opportunities for breakage. The frequency of cleansing should coincide with the amount of build-up present. If styling with products that contain waxes, heavy oils or holding agents the hair needs to return to a stable pH in no longer than two weeks.

Where do I start?

Prior to selecting a cleansing method determine the current state of your hair. If to the touch your hair feels delicate (you just removed long-term braids, used a styling product that had a drying properties, etc.) you should use a hydrating shampoo. If your hair feels oily in a bad way, you should seek a gentle clarifying shampoo followed by a cream conditioner. Try to avoid products that contain parabens, EDTA, as stated in the What’s the Deal with Shea? post. My product suggestion is Onesta, their products are free of most of the harsh chemicals and additives found in many shampoos.

In another post we’ll discuss the actual method options for cleansing (there’s more available than wash rinse repeat). For now, the traditional way that most learn to shampoo is what we’ll reference to give some quick tips:

  • Excessively rigorous manipulations are not necessary
  • Use the pad of your fingers and not your nails
  • Move from scalp to ends to avoid tangling (the opposite of how you comb to de-tangle)
  • Avoid combing wet hair unless using a wide-toothed comb
  • Once hair is clean separate hair into at least four sections and keep the ends that you’re not immediately working on tucked away in a twist and secure the twists with a clip until you’re ready to work. (Great if you’re styling from wet hair)

We know that last one may be a bit much for Dads on duty for the first time (think four ponytails but twist the hair down into buns, not too tight, let the clips hold them).

It may seem like things you already know, but this is where lots of damage takes place and extra work created by not giving this step the attention it deserves.Remember that shampoo is not your only option in cleansing. As always ask questions when things stop making sense.

Enjoy!