Every Table…

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Hidden Files.. a style I never shared with you all.

My Granny had a saying: “Every table’s got to stand on its own legs.”

I’ve found many places to apply that saying in my life since she passed and today I’m going to apply it to hair.

Not just Natural Hair.
:::crowd gasps in unison:::

There’s a misconception that there’s a no maintenance way of having one’s hair. The only way that you can have no maintenance hair is if you just simply refuse to maintain it as a principle. You just make the choice to give up completely. I don’t know where you work or what brand you represent but it’s not easy for anyone to get away with that in mainstream society. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way,  please pick your struggle.  If you cut it all off, relax it, loc it, braid it, twist it…. there’s a routine that goes along with keeping it looking the way you want it. 

Don’t waste your time convincing yourself that life is better somewhere else and enjoy the journey of where you are today.  There will be days that you want to give up being natural, I think we’ve all had a “You know what… I quit” day, but just remember nobody’s holding you hostage.

This whole journey can be about self-love, health, individuality, heritage or none of those things. It’s up to you to decide what it means to you, because after all… you can’t stand on anyone else’s legs, you’ve got your own. 

I hope this brought some peace to someone struggling with this path.

You can always contact me for questions.  #Love

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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

 

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.

Protect, Protect, Rest, Repeat

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Growth has been the hot topic as we transition from Winter and work our way ever so slowly into the Spring. We all have visions of ourselves gracing the beaches flaunting either our giant Afros or our outstanding two strand twists that do not contain a single strand of Marley hair.

So what’s the regimen?
As you can tell from the title. Protect, Protect, Rest.

1. Protect- Cleanse and add moisture to your hair with the least amount of chemicals possible. This sets the foundation for rapid growth. Refer back to the post regarding Label Reading to be sure that your arsenal of products are free of lanolin, mineral oil, petroleum, etc. these products either close off the shaft of hair or create a dependency on the product meaning that the only way that your hair feels nice is if you continue to use that ingredient. Shea Butter and Coconut oil are my Go-To products and I often blend the two with other oils to achieve my personal blend.

2.Protect- This refers to the styling. Now a protective style is one that allows your hair to go on vacation. This is not a style that puts your hair in traction. Click on the link to get more information on protective styling. My personal favorite has been the Havana twists without the use of the anchoring braid. I find that the amount of shed hair is significantly less than when I braid my hair.

3. Rest- Give your hair a few days of rest between protective styles. At the end of wash day, add moisture your scalp and ends with a great conditioner and if you must wear a puff, be sure that any band you use is lined with satin. Rest is also a great time to incorporate coconut water smoothies into your diet if this is your first cycle of the regimen. Hydration is the key to increasing hair elasticity, and reducing the amount of external product needed to maintain moisture balance. Water is key, but coconut water adds a boost for those that fall behind in adequate consumption.

Employ these techniques and tag me on Instagram with your progress @Marri76. I hope to have an initial video posted on YouTube @marri76 and I’d like to journal my process and keep you up to date with any changes that I make to my routine.

 

As always, ask questions when it stops making sense!

Enjoy! 🙂

 

Hair Braiding Consumer Basics

For decades in the black community you weren’t considered an official braider unless you just arrived from Africa. The laws were non-existent and there was a time that lots of people ran out of edges (hairline damage). Over the years there have been some attempts at regulation, but overall there are still people braiding hair using traditional techniques that however effective they may be, are not conducive to assisting in hair growth.

So how do you know when your stylist is taking you down a path of hair destruction?

1. Pain.
Not just a normal “tender-headed”(don’t you love how we just made that at thing) response, but pain that requires the use of a pain reliever. If you would have a problem with keeping your hair in a very tight ponytail overnight, why would you essentially put your hair in multiple tight ponytails and think that you won’t experience breakage. You are putting you hair in the same amount of stress if the braids are tight enough to cause real pain. Little white bumps are also associated with this section as they indicate the tension on the hair is too great. We know that there are some of you out there that are so used to getting your hair snatched around that you don’t feel the pain until your hair is nearly out of your head.

2. Unnatural new-growth appearance.
What good is having a very secure braid/twist if three weeks later you end up with a tuffet of hair puffing out underneath a crispy lock. Beyond the fact that it looks crazy, it creates a weak spot as discussed previously. One key to uninterrupted growth is keeping the curl pattern consistent.

3. No access to your scalp.
Some people are still getting cornrows, I know that some of my military sisters find it easier to stay within regulations utilizing cornrows and a bun. If your braids are too close together to be able to access your scalp, I wouldn’t suggest keeping them in for long.

Personal Tip: If I notice that the price sounds too high, and the time to finish seems too long, I take that as an indication that they are not interested in working on my head either or a lack of knowledge on the requested technique or they are compensating for overhead.

We try to keep it simple and easy to follow, but as usual, ask questions if it stops making sense.

Support the fellow YouTubers we post here.

2014 is the year of Unity in the Natural Hair Community! Enjoy!

 

Ooh My Holiday Protective Hairdos

For those of us that are in the baby fro phase it’s hard to find what works. Braids to the scalp with shorter hair tend to grow out less gracefully than longer hair because our lovely ends want air and will stop at nothing to wiggle out. The vets with over 6 inches of hair also find the struggle in coming up with something that we can keep for a while and still play.

There’s hope in the two strand twist.

Two strand twists are great to discover and embrace your hair’s curl pattern while rocking a style that just gets better with time. If you can use the Marley hair it’s a life saver. This hair will grip itself in a twist as well as hold on to your hair. I’m not a fan of twists that require an anchoring braid as it creates a very unnatural grow-out line of demarcation and if your remember from previous posts, you want to keep the curl pattern consistent from scalp to ends to avoid weak spots and breakage.

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The technique I use incorporates the hair in a manner that relies on the integrity of the twist itself to stay connected to the natural hair (I just resize Havana Twists).

Then the fun begins. The styles that are posted below are all achieved in less than 15 minutes starting from a head full of twists and they are inspired by African head wrap techniques to create shape and dimension.

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This style is achieved by taking the twists and using the fishtail braid technique loosely then securing the end with and elastic and tucking it away on the inside of the braid. (Style Time: 10 min)

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This style is achieved by using the flat twist technique loosely and in an S pattern starting at the front and completing the pattern in the center. Secure the end with an elastic and hide the hair underneath the twist. (Style Time: 15) It only takes longer because as you can see on the picture on the right there’s detail work needed to be sure the style is smooth.

The Holiday Season is where we can have the most fun with different protective styles and up-dos. It’s the perfect time to hide your hair away from the harsh cold to maintain moisture and these styles are really warm. I couldn’t see trying this in the Summer. It got warm this past weekend which is what allowed me to crank out two quick styles.

As always, ask questions if it stops making sense. Happy Holidays!

Enjoy!

“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.

 

 

 

Dimension and Shape

The rules of hair don’t change when you’re natural. Flat color, lack of shape, lack of luster are still on the no-go list.

  • In most instances if you’ve gone completely natural, as in no chemical process at all, your natural hair color is not all one thing.
  • Everyone needs to do something with their ends, and with that the hair gains movement with proper trims.
  • If you drink enough water and moisturize your hair and scalp properly it will not look dull.

Those are the rules. The natural journey should not be a resignation of upkeep, however there have been many questions that we’ve received that lead us to believe that some feel that going natural means throwing your hands up and saying;

I Quit

Understand that it’s the complete opposite. You should be excited to take the old rules of hair and apply them to your reclaimed curls. There are many DIY styling options that can be taken advantage of, but nothing beats proper cut, color and health maintenance. Learning what creates movement and shape in your hair is the fun part that should not be skipped. If you put in the work, you will absolutely fall in love with your hair, but please don’t break the rules. It makes it hard on the rest of us.

We live in a society that looks at ethnic natural hair as unprofessional, unkempt, unclean etc. The goal that the team here at OohMyHair has maintained from the beginning is to dispel the myths, stereotypes and stigma surrounding all natural journeys. So, do your hair or have it done!

Braid it up, Sew it in

English: Chameleon hair extensions, Smithfield...

English: Chameleon hair extensions, Smithfield Market, Winetavern Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, January 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We received a great question from one of our readers this week that is natural, but looking to explore the wide world of weave.

“when you used to wear sew-in’s how did you take care of your hair? how did you wash it? i am considering trying it for the first time but I’m unsure about it.”

Let’s break this down into sections. There are two parts to care for in a sew-in. The hair that grows, and the hair that shows.

The hair that shows most likely comes with instructions for care. There are many types of hair extensions so for that, just be mindful of the packaging.

The hair that grows needs to start off strong. I suggest a deep conditioning treatment immediately prior. Throughout the life of the style, the scalp should not be left to dry out. Remember that the string in this style is most likely made of polyester which will absorb the moisture from the braids at the base. If you intend to keep the style over a long period of time, I suggest professional assistance when cleansing.

A sew-in is a great alternative when applied properly. Know the difference between secure and tight, and do not ignore the signs of undue tension like small white bumps at the hairline, severe pain, or the inability to make facial expressions (we’ve all been there).

Overall, a sew-in will provide the flexibility to style with heat, forget your scarf here and there and play a bit more without worrying so much about daily damage. This can count as a protective style, if it is applied correctly and professionally maintained. Try it!

Thanks for asking questions folks, keep them coming!

Protective Styles

In the natural hair community, you hear lots of people throwing around the term “protective style”. This term has been attached to some pretty damaging styles so let’s break down what needs to be taking place to qualify.

Condition 1- Moisture is not being rapidly drained from the hair.  Synthetic hair and wood products wick away moisture from your hair.

Condition 2- The hair is not being pulled at unsafe tension levels. Pulling hair too tightly  in braids can cause the hair to fall out in the high stress areas.

Condition 3- There is not a daily duty to constantly re-style and manipulate using heat or a comb. Excessive flat ironing or combing around edges of weaves for “blending” purposes leaves your hairline still in jeopardy.

We spent a little time on YouTube this weekend and noticed that there were some tight twists, mock locs, yarn wraps and weaves being labeled as protective styles. It’s not so much that they were incorrectly labeled, as they were not accompanied with the level of information that a newbie DIY hair Diva needs to know. Moisture regimens as well as how long to keep a particular style with a particular medium (fabrics, synthetic hair, etc.) were all missing from some of the Kitchmatology  tutorials.

By no means are we saying stay away from, weaves, braids or wraps. We are saying remember why you’re getting the style in the first place. There may be instances that you have a style that you need to achieve for a certain occasion and in many of those cases you won’t keep the style for long. But if you are seeking a protective style for the purpose of giving your hair a rehabilitative break, keep in mind the points listed above. Remember you want to send your hair on vacation, not a work trip.

 

We love the style posted above by the way! Versatile, extremely low maintenance, and hair is available to be thoroughly moisturized.

As usual, ask questions when things stop making sense. Enjoy!