Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rudy, Rudy Quite Contrary - How Does Your Garden Grow?

So....Rudy (my hair) has been quite contrary lately. This is my first summer 100% natural - and let me tell you I had NO IDEA my hair could be so dry! I've been trying quite a few things to keep her happy - and I think its working! Shes growing nicely and today my puff is outta control soft, and fluffy and moisturized. Here are some things that have worked for me:

  1. Coconut Oil and I are best buddies. I use it to pre-poo, add it to my deep conditioner, and use it as a finishing styler for shine.
  2. I shampoo once a week with sulfate free shampoo - my hair really likes the Organix Nourshing Coconut Milk (there goes that coconut oil again!)
  3. I co-wash once or twice a week between shampoos - this has really helped a lot (right now I'm using Suave Tropical Coconut (notice a theme?!?!) I also like Herbal Essences Hello Hydration & Hydralicious.
  4. I recently revisited oil rinsing before I co-wash...I think this has contributed to this weeks happy puff - I used Vatika oil to rinse.
  5. I deep condition once a week on shampoo day - I've tried a few different things, but my hair really likes Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner and/or The Body Shop Honey Moisturizing Conditioner - I add a tbsp. of honey and olive oil to each application and either sit under the dryer for a 1/2 hour or 1 hour without heat.
  6. Cold rinse after the DC - my hair really likes body, not so much - I rinse over the sink.
  7. Kinky Curly Knot Today is my new favorite leave in - its nice and lite, but gets the job done!
  8. I style in twists using a mix of Eco Styler Olive Oil gel with Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque - gives great medium hold and moisture galore! Then let my hair air dry.
  9. I oil my scalp and edges once or twice a week with castor oil.
  10. Every night I spray my hair with a mix of water and jojoba oil and twist before bed - in the AM, I untwist, fluff, style and go!
I've been loving on Rudy extra because the heat and humidity have made her really sad - in return, she loves me right back!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My first Henna

I have been wanting to try henna for a while now, but a little intimidated by all the reported mess, and work, and waiting...not to mention I'm never good at remembering to order stuff online - I'd much rather get it on the ground.

So when I happened by the big Indian grocery store near my job I got really happy when I saw a small section of beauty products - including boxes of Jamila henna!!! I picked up a box and off I went, extremely excited to try something new.

So last Friday evening I mixed up the henna according to Curly Nikki's henna gloss recipe. I used 1 cup of green tea with lemon brewed with 3 tea bags and some HE Hydralicious conditioner until it was a nice pudding like consistency.

I covered the mixture and let it sit overnight.

I washed my hair and let it air dry before application. The next evening I applied the henna, covered with a plastic cap, a stocking cap, and an old tshirt (it was hot and the stuff was starting to drip something awful and I wanted to spare my sheets) I applied it as I would a perm, and smoothed it through really well. The mix was great and and made for a really easy application.

It also washed out really easily the next morning. I rinsed all the henna out then cowashed a few times. I had to rinse it a few times because I kept feeling grit in my hair. After, my hair immediately felt stronger. I've read this before in other posts and had no idea what that meant until I actually felt it - not hard, just the greatest way possible. I used SheaMoisture's Deep Treatment Masque and left it on for about an hour after, did a cold rinse and styled as usual.

I had no idea there was any color change until I just put these pictures side by side. Its VERY subtle - in the pic it looks like I just change the setting of the picture to add a sepia tone. And it doesn't really show in the picture, but my coils were more defined than usual on my naked hair. I hear that's a good sign of moisture retention and hair health - me likey!!!

It was kinda smelly, pretty messy - but nowhere near as I imagined. I will definitely henna again - and I'm sure my next venture will be even smoother. I definitely consider that a success!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Loving My Little Diva's Hair

I read this article in the Washington Post early this year about the beauty rituals of "hair day" prevalent in the Black community. It got me thinking about my own days of sitting between my mom & grandma's knees getting my hair "did".

Fast forward to present day. I have been in charge of hair little cousin AJ's hair for the past few years. Between then and now a lot has changed as I try to bring my new found knowledge into the process...but a lot has stayed the same - its all about enjoying the process.

Over the past year, as I've been learning about myself and my hair, I've also been learning about hers. She has scalp issues (psoriasis) which create growth challenges and a very coarse dry texture. I try very hard to make this a tolerable, if not thoroughly enjoyable process for everyone involved as I am working to foster a loving association with her natural hair.

I am still very much a work in progress myself and have been known to respond in exasperation at times - but here are a few nuggets I've picked up along the way that has made the whole journey easier to bear:
1. Make it a regular activity so that they can anticipate that it will happen and be mentally prepared. Approach the task with a positive attitude - no yelling, no yanking, no frowning.

2. Be responsive - if they say it hurts or your pulling, they may just be tying to be difficult, but you don't want to take that chance. Apologize and lighten up.

3. Engage them in the process. This typically works better for older girls, but ask them for input in the style choice, have hem pick out beads/clips or other accessories. I am often accused of spoiling my little ones, but I acknowledge them as little people that have valid feelings and that have something to say. Give them some ownership of their beauty.

4. Learn how to CARE for their hair and handle them with love. Learn the tricks of the trade and employ them. Research their hair types for products/techniques that make the process easier as you would do for yourself.

5. Be a role model. Let them witness your own hair care process and the joy you take in your own beautification process.

6. Practice what you preach. Preferably you are also natural so they can see someone else, an adult, embracing their natural beauty. It's hard not to have perm envy when you are the only kinky and associate it with being a little girl.

7. Make them fly. Find new and exciting pretty hair styles that are age appropriate. If they leave the chair feeling "ugly" or not as pretty as the big girls with the perms, they are going to make that association with their natural hair. If they think they are pretty and everyone else thinks their hair is fly that only helps to boost their self image. Maybe even find some styles you can both try.

8. Compliment them sincerely and often! It's easier to value what others also recognize value in.

Some things are easier said than done when you have a cranky squirmy little one, but bring a boatload of patience to the hair party, make it fun, talk, provide distractions...and of course try to be quick!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fun with Twists!

I was so looking forward to loving and playing in my hair after my BC (which I have) but I've had to contend with some extreme dryness after my cut. Now, I'm not sure if its a result of the super hot weather we've had in NYC over the past month, or if its just the dryness that some newly naturals experience after the BC???

Either way, the crunchy hair was not cute!

My solution - twists!!! I've been wearing my hair in mini twists for the past 3 weeks - inspired by the fabulous Kinky Kurly Queen of Naturally Obsessed (love her blog & her hair!) This is a protective style that allows me to keep my hair & scalp moisturized and protect my ends. My hair has been thanking me non-stop.

I washed, conditioned & deep conditioned, applied a leave in, partially air dried, then twisted damp hair. I twisted with a mix of ecostyler gel with olive oil, coconut oil, and some of my butter mix.

I'm a bit of a style junkie, even from my relaxed days, so to keep from getting bored and taking them down I have just been finding different ways to style them.

I've curled them on flexi rods, braided them, pinned them up, left them down...and all told, love them to death! They have been super simple to maintain, look great and my hair is no longer crunchy - win, win, win.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Sleep

I often have trouble sleeping. I have bouts of insomnia and sometimes can't sleep at all. Other times I sleep restlessly and don't get ANY rest at all. I also tend to carry my stress with me to bed and have bad sucks!

Well, last month I went on a business trip to Arizona (yes Phoenix in June = pure heat). I visited the Herd museum and came across this dream catcher in the gift shop. The description says:

"As Indian legend goes, the Dream Catcher is hung in the lodge near the sleeping area. Its purpose is to catch all dreams, good and bad. The bad dreams caught in the webbing would be burned off by the first morning light. The good dreams caught know their way to the hole in the center and filter down into the feathers. They are held there to be dreamed another night"

To me, this sounded heavenly. Our tour guide assured me that the dream catchers were authentic and made by tribes people and that they did use dream catchers, even over their sleeping babies.

I got it home, prayed on it, and hung it up over my bed.

Can I tell you, I haven't had not one bad dream since while sleeping in my bed. A few nights I fell asleep in the couch I did have bad dreams, so I can tell the difference. Interestingly enough, since putting up the dream catcher, I actually haven't dreamed at all...does that mean I don't have ANY good dreams?!?!? Scary thought!

Now this may all be in my head - a mind over matter thing. I just know that its the only thing I've done differently and on the nights I am able to get to sleep at a reasonable time, I don't wake up with migranes or feeling like I was fighting a war in my whatever it is, I'll take it!

Any traditions that work wonders for you?

Her Hair Story

The thing about this journey - as I've seen is true in my self and others around the web - is that it almost always starts out being just about hair...but that's never where it ends.

For me it started as random agreement with a friend in my early 20s...that we were gonna be loc'd by 30 and would start growing out our hair about a year or so before. As I sit here at 31, one month natural after a 13 month transition, obviously I'm a little behind schedule. However, as I've come to realize, it's all about the journey - not so much the destination or the time it takes to get there.

In April 2009 I unintentionally got my last relaxer. Five months later after stretching my perm through a hot and humid NYC summer with braids, I decided to purposefully see where this road would take me.

I was scared to BC, so I grew my hair out for 13 months, gradually trimming the ends, until I was ready to let go!

I've learned so much about myself and about my hair in this process. I got really creative during my transition and tried lots of styles and products thanks to all of the wonderfully supportive and informative ladies on youtube, fotki, and the hair blogs!

This journey has taken me on a path that involves a greater appreciation of myself – holistically. It has helped me toward acceptance of the “ME” that God has created me to be – and to hear so many others acknowledging the same is truly motivational. God made no mistakes when creating me – he didn’t mean to give me bone straight hair…then forgot. Embracing that thought has helped me to be better to myself – mind, body, and soul – and has allowed me to honor His perfect plan in the creation of me on several levels. I have found myself more conscious of not just what I put into my hair, but also about what I put into my body and what I allow into my mind.

I am embracing a new concept of beauty – and it’s a struggle. I still see sisters with long straight hair and miss those years at the Dominican salon, while on the other hand I see sisters with fierce fro’s and luscious loc’s and get hair envy. I am, as we all are, a work in progress. But I see and appreciate the infinite possibilities of what our hair can be – and beyond that how the state of our hair impacts our consciousness.

We may or may not BE our hair, but we are integrally connected to our hair and it affects the “YOU” that shines through. I have noticed, in myself and others, a new confidence that comes with the change. I have found myself absolutely loving the “new” stuff that’s growing out of my head, whereas in my permed days I used to run to my stylist’s chair at the first sign of waves preventing my hair from laying flat to my scalp.

It’s like a mandatory gift that comes with the decision to transition – “to rock this look, you must have the self-confidence to go with it”. For some, I’m sure, it’s just a mechanism for coping with the nay-sayers and curious looks from less than supportive people. But as you grow into, and begin to walk in that self confidence – it presents itself as a regal beauty and an exuded sense of being totally comfortable with the skin you’re in.

So as I enter this 2nd month of my naturalness I have come to absolutely love the change in me – and I am happy to share a little bit of that with any of you who choose to join me along the way.

Peace & Blessing…