Well ladies and gentlemen it is cold. It has not reached the freezing mark yet, but oh just wait, it is coming. This is a prefect time to prepare ourselves in every way for the cold months.
As the temperature drops we all cover up to get warm. Hats can be a comfort and also a torture chamber for our heads. Yes, you should wear a hat as it gets cold, but you have to ensure it is not keeping you warm while drying your hair out.
If you opt for a wool hat have a rayon or another silky textured material sewn into it. Doing this will allow the hat to keep you warm while maintaining
your hair's moisture.
Gentlemen, if you opt for a fitted cap (ex: Yankees fitted...I'm a bit bias when it comes to fitted hats ;) ), having a bit of a rayon/silky material sewn into the rim of the fitted hat will help protect your hair from the abrasive rubbing that can occur when the inner band of the hat as it sits so snugly against your head.
Moisturizing is very important during the dry winter months. We all must moisturizes from the inside out.
Water is just as important during the winter as it is in the warmer months. Hydrating yourself help to keep your skin hydrated and subtle.
Ladies make a effort to get a moisturizing treatment applied to your hair monthly during the colder months. This will help replenish the moisture lost while we go out into the cold and enter into the dry heat of our homes and work places.
Ladies, opt for a wash and set rather than a blow dry if you are relaxed.
If you have naturally coarse curly hair you should consider and oil treatment when you opt to blow your hair straight. This will make your hair more manageable, will protect the hair from the heat and leave the hair with body and shine. Dream Potions All Natural Band-Aid Oil Treatment is excellent!
If you have naturally straight or wavy hair you should not blow dry your hair more than twice a week, use a moisturizing root booster or a leave-in conditioner along with a small amount of argon oil rather than mousses and gels that boast to have hold and pliability. You need moisture way more than hold in the colder months.
Keep up with your trims.Dry air and cold air gives the average spit end power like spinach strengthens Popeye. A trim or haircut customized to your face shape and your lifestyle will hold up very well in the cold dry weather.
Weave and wig wearers...stop it. Build the strength and integrity of your own hair during these winter months. You will be surprised how much hair you will have by the warmer months if you start now.
Instead of bleach for highlights asks your stylist to consider a high lift blonde which can be less aggressive depending on the brand of color.
Finally Ladies, STOP APPLYING YOUR OWN CHEMICAL SERVICES!!! This is a horrific idea no matter what season we are in, but it is catastrophic during the winter months.
My men, add a little olive oil to your conditioner during these months (Ex: in a 8 .oz - 12 .oz bottle of conditioner, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of Olive Oil.... I use basic Olive Oil instead of Extra Virgin Olive Olive when applying it to hair or the skin). You will be surprised how it will help your hair and scalp retain moisture.
To all of my men that use gel, PLEASE back away from the gel! It is not your friend. Try using a pomade or a medium hold molding product on semi to dry hair. You will be pleasantly surprised of how much hold, natural shine and how it will make your hair feel more like hair and less like a weapon.
My men with coarse curly hair should invest in some Cold Pressed All Natural Coconut Oil and Sesame Seed Oil. If you place the coconut oil in a warm place it will liquify on its own, but if it does not place about a 1/2 cup in a sandwich bag and allow warm to hot water to run over the bag until the coconut oil is liquified. Pour the coconut oil and a 1/2 cup of sesame oil in a plastic applicator bottle (an 8 .0z bottle should work... This can be found at Sally's Beauty Supply of any other run other mill beauty supply near you). Apply this mixture to your scalp after you wash your hair. You will find that your hair is moisturized and pretty soft.
I hope these few tips help you defend yourself against the war that the winter promises to wage against you.
Over the past few years, many women of color have decided to "go natural". There are many reasons for women deciding to begin this process. Such as; chemical damage, thinning because of age, curiosity, desire to try something different or just because they realized their natural hair is pretty amazing in its natural state when they allow it to grow out enough to feel it.
The process can be fairly easy or extremely difficult depending on the state of the hair when you decide to start transitioning. If your hair is healthy when you start, the transition is fairly easy without having to do the "Big Chop". I do not support the "Big Chop" as a way to begin, unless you have a particular style you want to try or if your hair is very damaged close to the root. Now if your hair is damaged because of chemical damage, sickness or because of poor daily and weekly maintenance (or wig and weave maintenance), you can pretty much bet on a long rough ride to transition.
There are many styles and treatments to maintain your healthy hair without having to weave it. I personally do not think weaves and braids are a good option for transition. When you are transitioning you want to be able to treat the new growth to ensure it grows out moisturized, clean and trained. The residual of your chemically processed hair can be maintained until your new growth grows long enough to allow you to have many style options.
Weaves are not the worst option, but they definitely are not the best "Protective Style". Weaves can thin out the hair from the root and edges because of the tension needed to affix the tracks to your scalp. The ends of the hair need to be trimmed and moisturized. The weave does not allow this to happen. When you leave hair out around your edges, those sections are naturally the weakest parts of the hair, and they are exposed to the elements, excessive products and flat ironing to help blend the edges to the weave. This is counter productive to growing healthy hair.
Like weaves, braids are not horrible but are not the best option for transitioning. Braid also stress the edges of the hair, can thin out the hair from the root, depending on the type of the hair used braids can dry the hair out excessively and does not allow you to cleanse and treat the natural hair properly.
Helpful tips and education for those thinking about or in the process of transitioning back to your hairs' natural texture:
Understand transitioning is a process
Decide if you can commit to the process
Know what your ultimate (realistic) goal is for your hair
Find a committed stylist (while YouTube is great for hairstyling ideas, a skilled stylist is a God-sent)
Research what products work with your texture of hair AND SPEND THE MONEY FOR THEM. Natural hair can be temperamental, do not make it angry with the wrong products.
If the process becomes a overwhelming, but you need a reprieve try: braiding your hair using the crochet braiding technique, flat twist and two stand twist techniques as less stressful protective styles. The previously mentioned styles are for all ages. Also, do not keep them in longer that two weeks, apply a treatment before and after using any braiding technique.
Smooth your hair out for trims. You do not have to blow your hair out at all. You can use the stretching technique (thoroughly comb out your hair, three strain or two strand braid your hair and allow it to dry. This will stretch your hair out enough to allow a pretty accurate trim). If you blow dry your hair, you can use a flat brush to gently blow your hair smooth or you can roller brush your hair if you are going to wear it straight.
Blow drying does not have to disturb your natural curl pattern if done properly. Moisturize, moisturize!!! Keeping your hair moisturized it key to maintaining curly hair. Once you blow dry and flat iron it, do not do it again until it is washed and conditioned again. The continued heat on top of the the dust, sweat and natural sebum secretions along with the initial products used to protect your hair during the initial flat ironing will singe the hair.
Be patient. Anything beautiful needs time to grow and blossom. Your hair is no different.
After over 22 years of loving, living and working in the "Beautifying Business", it never ceases to amaze me how trends and fads, while some are cool and some are "interesting", tend to make some feel their style choices give them the right shame others.
"Going Natural" has been the trendy thing in some cases and the empowering thing in other cases. But what does "Going Natural" mean? Technically it means: You do not use ANY chemical to alter your hair, ie. relaxers, perms (yes, there is a difference- that's for another blog post), color, texturizers, keratin treatments, chinese straighteners, Vigorol (some of you may be to young to know with this is: it a old fashion liquid relaxer) or any other CHEMICAL that can be used to change the natural pattern/texture of your hair.
If this is true, why is there so many "Naturalist" that shame people for either blowing out, flat ironing or hot combing their hair. First, let me just send this piece of advise out, "Mind Your Hair Business!" Now that I got that out the way, let me now talk to those that are thinking about this choice because of medical reasons, financial reasons or just because you want a change in texture or routine... Going natural outside of the explanation I previously wrote, is totally up to your discretion.
Over the years, as the natural hair movement has grown to the point where the big product companies have jumped on the "Black and Natural" bandwagon, I am constantly asked, "is it really natural if you put heat to your hair?" The answer is yes! I know several "Naturalist" just clutched their Shea Moisture and Cantu closed to their chest and began crying. Before all these grown women were so educated and self-righteous, they used to get their natural hair pressed and curled with the steel hot comb using that big blue or green jar of Dax, and they were still natural. These same "specialists" offer weaves, braid extensions and wigs as "protective styles. I am just as confused as my clients and others, I thought the point of going natural is to...be natural. Don't get me wrong, I feel you can and should do what ever is healthy for YOUR hair. Everything is not for everyone's hair and not every stylist knows how to assist with someone transitioning from chemical to natural. Do your research outside of just looking for cute styles. Find a good ethical stylist and follow their instructions.
After 30 years, I have decided not to chemically straighten my hair. As a stylist, I believe we must be groomed and stylish at all times (heels, coiffed hair, stylish outfit and a bag is my everyday all day must have). That being said, as I am going natural, I will and have been flat ironing my hair once a week. My relaxed hair is healthy, my natural portion is soft and easy to manage along with what is left of my relaxed hair. I would rather not do a big chop. When all of the relaxed hair is trimmed off during my regular scheduled hair trims, I will continue to flat iron my hair. I will also do twist outs, rod sets, roller sets, top knots, color (once all the relaxer is cut out, because it is weaker than my natural and may break off) and other styles with my own hair.
I am a stylist that believes that my clients must be educated about "Their" hair. When you know what is best for your hair and why, you are more prone to take better care of your crowning beauty. This allows us to look good as a unit ;-)
The following are some tips for transitioning:
Know Why You Are Transitioning. Trends and fads work great for clothes, but can be disastrous when it comes to your hair. If the reason for your decision is for medical reasons, explain the issue to your stylist to allow them to create a "Transitioning Plan Of Action". If it is because of finances, talk to your stylist about other options if you would actually prefer to continue using chemicals or discuss the financial commitment and process of transitioning. You always need a "Transitioning Plan Of Action"
Create And Follow The "Transitioning Plan Of Action" That You And Your Stylist Create. You will need take home products such as: a good Oil, Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-In Conditioner and a Styling Product that will help you recreate your style just in case your salon style explodes after the gym, rain, vacation etc. Discuss simple styles you can do at home if you are not able to get into the salon. You may be used to just pulling it back into a neat ponytail on bad hair days when you have a relaxer, but during the transition period bad hair days can sometimes be catastrophic depending on the difference between your natural texture, length and the remainder of your relaxed hair.
Choose Your Stylist Wisely. Natural hair is big business right now. Many clients have come in and said they have been charge upper-wards in the amount of $125 just for a blow dry with a basic shampoo and conditioner and have walked out with over $100 worth of products. Hey, I am not knocking anyone's hustle, but know what you are paying for. You should receive a treatment. I prefer a oil treatment if your hair is healthy. You can alternate both a moisturizing protein treatment once a month and oil treatment once a month if your hair is damaged while transitioning to help the hair that is relaxed stay healthy and strong, while keeping the natural hair moisturized and extra manageable. You should also get a trim between every one to two months to help the relaxed hair from spitting. After the transition period moves into full natural, you should do you best to get at least one treatment a month and a trim every three months. You should buy the products that are used on your hair at the salon, such as the products I mentioned previously.
Choosing Protective Styles Should Be Decided Depending On The Health Of Your Hair. Braids can be a gift and a curse to both natural and chemically treated hair. If your hair is dry and brittle use human hair. If your hair holds moisture pretty well and is healthy, you can use good quality synthetic hair (I still prefer human hair, but they have create pretty decent synthetic hair recently). Do not allow the braider to braid your hair too tight. Get a treatment prior to applying the braids. Do not blow dry the hair from wet; let your hair air dry under the dryer braided and then blow dry your hair to remove the rest of the moisture. Do not let the braids stay in too long; six weeks for adults is the longest and one month for children. Oil your scalp while the braids are in your hair. You should receive a treatment after you remove the braids. Do not get braids back to back; give your hair and scalp time to recover. Weaves are my least favorite style for black women. It can be very damaging when applied improperly or handled improperly after the client goes home. You should receive a treatment prior to applying the weave. The weave should not be too tight. Instructions on how to maintain the hair that is left out must be given to the client. Do not use glue unless a protective cap is applied under the weave. Do not color your hair while the weave is still in your hair. Do not leave the weave in too long ( I suggest 6-8 weeks at the most). Do not apply weaves to children (yes, people do). Wigs can be useful during transitioning. You must braid the hair under the weave and wear a cap. All of the steps I previously mentioned above should be followed with all of the previously discussed protective styles; shampooing, deep conditioning, trims etc. Some of these steps can not be completed as frequently as needed if you have protective styles such as weaves and braids.
When deciding what is best for you and your hair lifestyle, have patience, educate yourself other than watching the wonderful "kitchen beauticians" that are on YouTube with the shower curtain backdrop, find and trust your stylist and eat right. Remember, you are not your hair...or anyone else's
I remember begging my “hair styling impaired” mother for a relaxer when I was about 9 or 10 years old. The thought of being able to just brush my hair back and not worry about my edges or ponytails frizzing up because I went in the fire hydrant or because I ran around playing until I was drenched with sweat from my head to my feet. The thought of never again having to sit still for hours while her loving unskilled hands made a painful mockery of my “confused” hair texture by combing it after shampooing it and sometimes not using conditioner; I think that would be considered abuse today =). After weeks of begging I was told, “You must wait until you turn 11.” My 11th birthday seemed to come the next day. As I prepared to go to the salon for the first time to receive my prized relaxer I asked my mother, “Does getting a relaxer hurt?” Her answer was, “Pooberry, beauty is pain.” And that’s when it all began…. Today black women who used to believe as I did; that smooth edges and frizz-less ponytails was the evidence of “good hair”, now seemed to have changed their minds about what they believe is “good hair”. Many women now believe “good hair” is healthy hair, but are not necessarily sure how to achieve it. As a stylist, I noticed a major change in the mindset of black women’s view of “good hair” after the movie of the same name was release and the conversation was had on Oprah’s show. The movie showed the extremes of many aspects of the black woman’s journey through her hair care (or lack there of) and the billion dollar business behind all the products needed for the very arduous journey black women have always taken to achieve what they believe is “good hair”. Some women were outraged by what they learned after what was exposed in the movie. Without venturing further to educate themselves outside of the $7 they paid to see the movie, many abruptly ended their love affair with relaxers and other chemical services and began cutting their hair to begin what they considered was “good hair”. During that time many “kitchen beauticians” were created, supposed all natural products were developed and advertised by celebrities and the $18 blow out was the rave. Now 5 years later, Google and YouTube are ready and willing to give every amateurs a avenue to further confuse and mislead black women who are trying to figure out what is “their” personal “good hair.” Today I am going to do my best to educate and help those who are confused and frustrated trying to make a informed decision about what should be their personal hair journey to “good hair”.
Let me address all those that have decided to forgo relaxing because it is unhealthy. I am not a fan or foe of relaxers or the natural decision. I am a advocate and a defender of the real “good hair”…Healthy Hair! Many that relax their hair do not take the time to care for it properly nor do they have the basic knowledge of relaxers or have the money to maintain it properly to allow for their hair to be and stay healthy. To all of my naturalist, you should not assume your hair is healthy just because you do not receive a relaxer service. Some naturalist just as relaxer users, do not take the time to properly take care of their hair nor do they have the desire to go the extra mile to braid, cover or trim their hair on a regular basis to maintain their natural hair in a healthy fashion. Let me alert you to several things you should consider while deciding what is the best “good hair” for you. What are you able to maintain financially? To truly maintain healthy hair you need to be able to afford your choice. How willing are you to do what is needed at home to maintain your hair until your next hair appointment? Once you arrive home after investing hours at the salon your hair can not be removed and placed on your dresser until you are ready to go to work. Which means you must do your part to maintain the style and the integrity of your hair. You have to wrap it, braid it, brush it, oil it if needed, sleep on a satin pillow case, you must protect your hair from the seasonal temperatures by covering it and you must wear a silky scarf to bed even when you want to act like Whitley Gilbert (A Different World) and have your Boo believe you wake up hair and face fabulous. What type of “good hair” will your lifestyle allow you to maintain? For example, I have what some would consider a fairly decent texture of hair. It is pretty manageable relaxed or at it’s natural state and I have a lot of it. I run a thriving business and have 3 children of which are my world (which demands almost all my time). Also, being a stylist I must be coifed at all times. In my business, image really is everything, so every hair must always be in its place. This all being said, I would not have time to try and tame my natural hair on a daily basis when I usually only have 20 minutes to get myself together to get out the door (almost) on time. Which is why a relaxer is best for my lifestyle right now. Some of my black clients do not feel comfortable wearing their natural texture because they would rather simulate their less ethnic co-workers at work to not raise eyebrows by looking ethnic and lessen their chance of being passed up to be the face/image of the company they work for because their ethnicity is so blatant. Relaxers work for them. Some women with coarse kinky hair have the time and the desire to maintain their strong texture in a way that accentuates their style and features. Natural works for their lifestyle. Some women exercise twice a day, do not have time to allow their hair to dry before heading to work which forces them to pull their hair back causing thin edges. Natural is probably best for them. Finally, health issues are another factor to consider. If you are taking medication that as a side effect makes your hair fall out, a relaxer or any chemical service is probably not the best choice. Healthy hair takes time and patience. Both your stylist and you must understand your limits monetarily, health-wise, lifestyle-wise and understand what visually is pleasing to you. Natural hair is beautiful and manageable at any texture if care is taken to understand what is needed. Relaxed hair can be kept healthy if applied by a professional and taken care of properly by a professional and treated properly at home. Just as a healthy mind and body is a lifestyle, so is you healthy hair life. Knowledge is power, so knowing at least the basics of what is being used on you is detrimental to a healthy hair life. Below I have offered a crash course on hair and relaxers to help you be more informed.
What is hair?
Your natural hair is made up of many layers and parts. Hair is not a living organism and is made of a protein called keratin. Keratin is a combination of fibrous protein of which the outer parts of your hair, skin and nails. The hair cuticle is the outermost layer which is made up of scale like cells that resemble shingles. These shingles create a armor like shield to protect the delicate innermost parts of the hair. The cortex is the middle layer which is made up of fibrous protein core that contains the melanin pigment (melanin is the pigmentation of your hair). The medulla is the innermost layer of hair that is composited of round cells. The medulla is usually totally absent in naturally blonde and fine hair, but is usually present in thick, coarse hair and all male beards. The hair follicle is the skin like portion of the hair directly under the skin where the hair is produce. Finally, the bulb (the root) of the hair. The bulb is found in the follicle and consist of fibrous tissue made up of the cuticle, cortex and medulla of the hair.
Now let’s get a brief synopsis of what are relaxers and what are they doing to our hair? How did that can melt in the same chemical used in relaxers, but my hair and skin stays in tack?
Here is a brief synopsis of the most popular relaxers used by women with coarse ethnic hair. Cream relaxers have hydroxide as their base. The hydroxide ion is the active ingredient in all hydroxide relaxers (cream relaxers). Hair has a pH balance of 5 and hydroxide have a very high alkalis of 13. The purpose and result of hydroxide relaxers is to swell the hair up to twice the normal diameter to permanently straighten the hair by removing a sulfur atom from a disulfide bond and converting it to a lanthionine bond. A disulfide bond consist of two sulfur atoms. Once the disulfide bonds are permanently broken by the hydroxide used in relaxers the bonds can never be re-formed. In layman's terms; relaxers break down the hair by weakening the structure to allow the hair to relax and stay relaxed. The most popular relaxers used are Lye-Based relaxers and No Lye-Based relaxers. The oldest used relaxers are Lye relaxers. Lye relaxers have a sodium hydroxide base. Sodium hydroxide is the same ingredient used in hair depilatories (Nair), drain cleaner and in something else used by many on a daily basis many did not know until this blog…soap, liquid hand wash and shampoo. Many hear about the ingredients in products and become hysterical because they do not know in what capacity the products are used. Sodium hydroxide (Lye) relaxers are best used on those clients that do not use any other chemical service; such as permanent, demi permanent color or bleach. It is also longer lasting and less drying than No-Lye (Potassium hydroxide or Lithium hydroxide) relaxers. No-Lye relaxers have either a base of guanidine hydroxide, potassium hydroxide and lithium hydroxide. While no-lye relaxers do not have lye (sodium hydroxide), their chemistry is identical in their behavior as lye relaxers. Guanidine hydroxide relaxers have to be mixed with an activator before being used. No-Lye relaxers are less likely to irritate your scalp. These relaxers are best if you plan on using permanent or demi permanent color, but still should not be used with any bleaching chemical.