Dry Detangling

Hello Curlies!
It's been awhile and I know I've been saying that for awhile but alas I have a soon-to-be-toddler on my hands who acts very much like a toddler already so bear with me. I will be back in full form soon. In the meantime I still make a point to pass on my lessons learned in the hopes new natural can have an easier journey sooner than I did and learn from my mistakes.

 I have been natural for going on two years in February and along the way have learned more than a thing or two about what works and what doesn't (for me). When I had a NS-TWA, I did a post on the best way to detangle - in the shower - hair dripping wet, and don't get me wrong, that worked at the time.

I don't know about you but when I first heard of dry detangling, I pictured me sitting at somebody's knees while they raked a brittle comb through my kinked and matted hair with just a tiny dollop of petroleum jelly to save the day (also known as my childhood hair memories).
But fear not, Curlies - this is NOT what I am talking about.

Like many of you, my hair suffered enough as a child at the hands of unknowing, and rushed adults, who in fiercely trying to get a comb through my parched dry hair often ended the hair session by handing me a large clump of shed (*ahem* broken) hair. Of course those traumatic hair sessions are behind me.
 What I am talking about is something new, and it's using patience, gentleness mix in a generous amount of your favorite oils (or butters) a bit of good 'ol water and your trusty and loving fingers to do the work. The result, when you do it right, will be far lessbreakage than even wet detangling can promise.

I adopted dry detangling mainly because my hair grew and with a good amount of hair (haven't measured the length lately), I came upon issues that forced me to revise my strategy and through trial and error managed to adjust my detangling technique to the new length of my hair.
So here I am to pass on a few tips to you: If your hair is at least 5 inches long, you may be finding that shower detangling yields not much less breakage than raking a comb through dry hair especially if you have super-coiled/kinky hair like I have (mostly in the back of my head). If shrinkage is crazy for you as in your hair when wet shrinks more than 50% then I would recommend rethinking your 'detangle when wet' approach.

Once my hair hit more than 5 inches detangling became a nightmare. I made several revisions to get back to my sanity and protect the growth of my hair - here they are:
1. Detangle in sections
2. Detangle on well-moisturized (but dry or at most lightly damp) hair

Yes I SAID dry. I can hear the gasps already. Please don't judge too quickly. Listen up.
The main reason to detangle when hair is NOT wet is to be able to detangle hair in a STRETCHED state. I will say it again in case you missed it: To reduce breakage, detangle hair after stretching.
This of course calls for dry detangling as you know wetting  hair will make it shrink up faster than you can say 'shrinkage.'
This is what I do. A day or two before I will detangle, I stretch my hair by putting it in a ponytail. Before I pony the hair however, I add a generous amount of oils to the hair.
It goes like this: Dampen hair with your spray bottle contents (for me its just water and spearmint oil because the minty camphor feels good on my scalp) and add your favorite mixture of oils in generous amounts (for me this is coconut oil, castor oil and jojoba oil). After I add the oils I baggy the hair to let the natural heat from my scalp warm the oils and soften the hair.
 I leave the baggy on for a good while, its up to you and once I remove it my hair is soft and damp. At this point, I section my hair into large sections and make each section into a ponytail. I don't comb or detangle at this point, I just take a section of hair and put it into a ponytail. I let the damp hair dry in the pony-ed sections.
Once hair is dry the oils should allow it to remain soft (aka moisturized). When you remove the bands, your section of hair should be stretched at least somewhat, making it easier to glide your fingers through.

Detangling on stretched hair also makes it easier to find and remove single strand knots and prevent new ones from forming while you are detangling. After hair is dry and stretched but moisturized, I begin to detangle. Starting with one pony-ed section, I make sure hair has enough oils,  and if not, I add more, mostly coconut oil as it has strengthening benefits.
I then gently use my fingers to separate hair into smaller sections and work on each smaller section one at a time by gently pulling strands apart. All the time I run my fingers down the length of my hair from root to tip, gently but firmly removing shed hair from the section I am holding.
Once I have pulled out all the shed hair this way, I then glide my fingers gently through the section from root to end (yes I start at the root) and when I hit a snag, I patiently work my fingers to clear the knot and the shed hair causing it. If it is the result of or if it causes a single strand knot, I make sure to locate the knotted strand and clip the knot away just above the knot. I do this section by small section until I have done my whole head.
Yes this takes awhile but its worth it when you are done and realize you have not broken any hairs. Because I have a young baby to tend to, my detangling happens over the course of two days or so, not the whole day of course but every time I have a few minutes in the day, either when baby is napping or put to bed.

If hair feels dry or moisture seems to have gone from a section you are about to do because it took you awhile to get to it, just lightly spritz with water (not enough to cause much shrinkage) and continue on.

If your ends are particularly rough-feeling, lightly spritz on that small section you are working with and keep hair stretched by pulling taut but gently, as you work your way through with your fingers, You want to be able to feel the ends of your strands so you can identify single strand knots. If your ends feel too rough you will have difficulty identifying the single strand knots.
After detangling I re-twist and when I am all done, I either wash my hair this way or take each twist into a bigger section and braid it in preparation for washing. After washing, when conditioner or castor oil is in my hair in generous amounts, I run a comb through the section I am working with just once, maybe twice, but this is just to disperse the conditioner or oil as my hair is mostly detangled by this point.

Detangling on dry but moisturized hair as opposed to soaking wet hair means less breakage as hair is in a more fragile state when wet and will stretch more than it should if you rake a comb through it soaking wet. On short hair, wet detangling is still my favorite way to go but with more length comes more tangles and thus more chances for breakage.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions please feel free.

Simple Mud Mask for Soothing your Scalp

Does your scalp feel tender or itchy by wash day?

Are you experiencing very dry or oily scalp by the time you get around to shampooing?

Are you experiencing product buildup causing your scalp and hair to look dull?

Well here is a very simple mask I use mostly to soothe my sometimes tender and itchy scalp but that also works great to add shine to my hair - all you need is:
1/4 - 1/2 cup Rhassoul Clay depending on how thick your hair is (Bentonite will work too)
1/4 cup honey
3-4 tbspns pure virgin coconut oil (vatika oil can substitute)
Water to desired consistency

Mix rhassoul clay and water to desired consistency. Add honey and coconut oil and mix until smooth. Use the paste right away as it will dry out if left to sit. Here I am with the paste in my hair.

I apply the paste while my hair is still braided in sections and massage it in to ensure it gets to all parts of my scalp including the parts hidden away in the braided sections:

Apply paste directly to scalp with fingers and once scalp is covered, smooth along hair - no need to apply to hair ends unless you want to. Let sit no more than 3-4 minutes. Do NOT let the mask dry out on your hair.
Rinse out the paste while it is still moist. For that added cool feeling on the scalp, pour a jug of cool water with a few drops of spearmint essential oil over your hair and scalp as a final rinse.
I do this mask before I condition but after shampoo. You can do it however you like, just make sure to rinse away all the paste from your hair.
Let me know how it works for you.
To see my growth so far, check me out at fotki.com/demena24.

Snapshot of My Hair

Puff from an old twistout -
Don't be fooled at the length, the shrinkage is crazy

Just Beautiful


I had the chance to try Karen's Body Beautiful Hair Mask a few months ago (the brand offers samples which makes it much easier to try their products if you are unsure you want to drop the amount of money their full bottles cost before you fall in love with them).
I have to say I was skeptical when the bottle showed up. The consistency of the mask appears light - actually reminded me of a cloud and in fact the color of the conditioner is white. My immediate thought was, I bet this is too light for my (4-something) hair.
But I had committed to giving it a try based on the raves of other naturals.
I used it about a week later after a pre-poo detangling session and then a hair wash and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I expected it to sit on my hair and be water-y but it instantly absorbed unto my hair and offered excellent slip for finger and comb-detangling. It also coats very well.
I know this because I accidently got some on my lips (don't ask me how) and after washing it away  still felt a film on my lips. Not good for lips, but for protecting the hair strand -  a good quality. Don't worry it didn't cause any noticeable buildup. It comes either unscented or scented - your choice. I opted for unscented because I put other products in my hair that are scented and the combination of scents can be overwhelming so it was refreshing to have one product that didn't contribute to the cacaphony.
My overall opinion: Love it!
My only hesitation is the price. I am on a budget and just cannot afford the $25-$40 (plus shipping if you are not in NY) a pop for this stuff and maybe I am using too much in my hair but it goes fast as I have alot of hair (longer).
Still, if you are up for spending alot for a product you will love, I highly recommend it. The list of ingredients are awesome and you will definitely be left feeling like you just did something good for your hair.

Vatika! Vatika!

I read the other day on another blog that 80% of blogs are abandoned within the first year. I can't remember how long I've been blogging on natural hair but I'm pretty sure I'm over the 1 year mark. I mention this though because my posts have been less frequent and I want you all out there who read my blog to know that this is temporary.
I certainly have not gotten bored with either my natural hair journey or blogging about it. Its just that I have a new little love in my life and he needs some tlc since this is his first year of life. I have been busy loving him up and that has taken up my time. Plus the stresses of life in general as I'm just trying to re-gain my bearings with this new addition to my life and currently being out of work, the suck-y economy and I can go on.

Anyway sorry for the rant. Let me get to what this post is about before my little one (who is currently napping) calls me away. I bought vatika oil a few months ago and I can't remember what prompted me except I was turned on by how cheap it is. One of my favorite oils is coconut oil as I believe it has helped to keep my hair strong and its a very light oil so I barely feel it in my hair. I have been on an ayurvedic challenge since a few months into going natural and have used amla, shikakai and brahmi in my hair so it was natural to be turned on to a product that included all my faves.
I believe in pre-poo-ing even from my relaxed days and vatika seems the natural choice to support my new state of frugality. The smaller bottle (can't remember the ounces) cost only about $3 a pop, the smell is bearable to neutral and I have noticed an improvement in the general strength of my strands.
I apply it the day before or the morning before a hair wash and let sit with a shower cap on. I find that after I shampoo, my hair still has slip (I shampoo with dudu-osum mixed with a shikakai tea) which is amazing considering how shampoos generally strip hair.
I also suffer barely any breakage (no breakage is pretty much impossible) which I attribute partly to washing my hair in sections and only combing/detangling before with some product for slip and dampened with water (I don't detangle on dripping wet hair. I will explain why in another post on updated tips for detangling).

So I will give vatika oil a 4 out of 4 stars. It has become one of my staples and I have very very few staples. If you use coconut oil, give vatika a try in its place, you  may notice stronger hair.
Later, Curlies!

Hair 101


So I'm sharing the tips I've learned in the year and a half that I've been natural. They are minor things, some I've come to through trial and error and a number of mistakes, some I stumbled upon pretty quickly, but they have all worked to help me refine my regimen.
Speaking of regimen, I have come to realize that it's the regimen, not the products that results in healthy hair.

Of course the right products are equally important, but you could be using the most amazing products,and  if your regimen is not solid or is counterproductive, you will have issues with length retention, breakage, etc.

Now for the tips, here goes:

Tip #1: For those of you who joined me on my ayurvedic challenge (here and here), you remember my shikakai hair cleansing tea/shampoo. And if you used the tea, you realized that it does not lather in a way we are used to with suds and bubbles and it is watery, resulting in a mess if not used in the shower.
If you want the benefits of using an ayurvedic cleanser such as it is but with the comforting experience of a lather, try mixing a 50-50 ratio of the shikakai tea and your traditional shampoo (of course I recommend a natural shampoo like dudu-osum but anyone will do). This will get you the benefits of the tea in a form familiar to you.

Tip #2: If you are on a budget like I am and need a natural-based conditioner with great slip, then I recommend the Kinky Curly leave-in. If, however, the price is steep for what you get, like I think it is, then try this:
 Mix the Kinky-Curly leave-in with your co-wash/daily/detangling conditioner. You will still get the slip the Kinky Curly leave-in offers and because it is mixed with another cheaper conditioner, it will last longer. I mix my Kinky-Curly leave-in (50-50 ratio) with the Everyday Shea conditioner from Whole Foods. You get alot of conditioner and the mix does equally well with detangling. The only drawback is you end up rinsing away the Kinky-Curly leave-in unless your detangling conditioner is a leave-in as well.

Tip #3: Pre-shampoo with oils - any oils will do. You will read naturals suggesting pre-shampoo with a specific mix of oils but the reality is it doesn't really matter what oils you use. The result is just to coat the hair and smooth the cuticle to counter the effects of a traditional shampoo which will tends to strip your hair. Just make sure your oil is plant-based and I have found that virgin-processed oils impart great herbal benefits as well for your scalp. Great virgin-processed oils are virgin olive oil, cold-pressed tamanu oil and castor oil. But to be honest, good ole corn oil that you use to cook, works just as well.
Tip #4: Mix conditioners. Yes. You can. I have in the past gone through phases of PJism (I have to admit) and I throw nothing away. I mean I paid good money for it. So I mix my conditioners to get the benefits of each. Right now I am mixing my Everyday Shea detangling conditioner with my Kinky-Curly leave-in to get the slip benefits of the leave-in and make it last longer.

Tip #4: Wash your hair in braids. Its only  a bit less time consuming but it has saved my hair alot of breakage.

Tip #5: Wanna skip the time and work it takes to henna but enjoy the strengthening benefits of henna? Try a henna tea and use as a rinse. Basically boil your henna powder, add your favorite oils, let cool for at least 4 hours, strain, and pour the cooled mixture over freshly shampooed hair. You can even bottle any remainder for future use, saving you the time to re-mix or make a new rinse. If you are in the bath, you can let the rinse sit in your hair for awhile before washing it away. The longer it sits, the more of its benefits your hair will sustain.
That's it for today folks!
Look for the following upcoming posts from me:
Review of Karen's Body Beautiful Hair Mask
Review of Vatika Oil
For the Busy ( or Lazy) Naturals Like Me: Using Aloe Vera Mist to Get Moist Re-Twists

Diary of a Naturalista: Addendum: SEE LINK!

I came across this article and from the title I was expecting something laughable and indeed it was.  Check out #7, because that pertains most to us naturalistas but I couldn't help but laugh.  Is it true?  I wrote a whole blog about dating and men and talked a lot about black men's response to my hair so I won't go into that again.  I laugh at it but I guess it may be true for some black men... but I don't think those are the ones I'd be interested in anyway, so I'd probably just say good riddance.  But read the entire thing.  You'll get a good chuckle at least or maybe just shake your head. 


Perception of Us Among Us: A Recent Incident

I meant to post on this for awhile. Its at the point where while I'm nursing baby, I literally imagine what I will post word for word and if only I had that mind-Jedi thing, there would be lots of posts written from my head, but alas I actually have to find the time to sit down with my computer and type that ish out.
Its kind of a response to a post my sister wrote about what "white people" may think about our hair. I can't remember the title of the post to quote it word for word so forgive me if I'm politically incorrect in the description of the post (for those who are bothered). And its not really a response but its along the same thread of how others view Blacks -except this incident I happened upon isn't an 'other' view of us but a 'us' view of us. Here goes:
My boyfriend is white. I tell you this only because its central to the story. And so my son, is bi-racial. This too is key - somewhat.
So I went for my typical evening walk with my bf and my little boy, the other evening. Baby is in stroller, and I am walking along wearing a hat (to cover my twists) and big earrings (to TRY and look semi-cute regardless). My bf is pushing the stroller when this little 'brown-skinned' boy who lives across the street is standing around with who I assume is his grandmother (older woman) and another little 'brown-skinned' boy. The boy  who appears no more than about 7 or 8, yells from across the street 'I wanna see the baby' and immediately skates over on that scooter thing the kids ride these days.
The other little 'brown-skinned' boy (but darker), who appears about the same age, follows him. He comes over, looks at baby, who is very very light-skinned (I only point this out because it's central to the story as well) and say: 'Aww, how cute'.
Then he turns to my bf and says, 'but what are you doing with HER?' (He pointed to me). Of course I look around me to see who  'HER' is, because I am appalled by the emphasis on her and equally appalled at his brazen-ness in addressing me, an adult, the way he did. My bf (who annoyed me even validating this kid's question with a response) says the typical, 'she's my gf , I love her, yadda yadda,' and the boy replies: 'But he's white (pointing to baby), you're white, and she's......brown (you imagine how the 'brown' was actually said, and if you can't, let me place it into proper context for you: The 'brown' hit me in the face like, let's say, a palm leaf (not fun, feels rough, kind of annoying, but no serious harm done). I swear though, he made a face when he said 'brown.'
 The incredulity of the whole conversation made me laugh but it was actually kind of sad that he thought this way. I said to him: 'But YOU'RE brown," and no lie, this little brown-skinned boy with some crazy things growing out of his head that might be dreads (hair was such a crazy mix of long and short kinkiness, I could not tell) looked me straight in the eye and (with his very dark-skinned friend beside him) said: 'I'm not brown, I'm almost white.'

(Now later my bf would tell me the little boy actually said 'my grandma said I'm almost white' but I don't remember the 'my grandma said' part). Could be though that his response sent me into a mild delirium (out of surprise) because I swear I became disoriented and couldn't remember if I was actually where I was, or in some alternate universe, I was so taken-aback.
For some unclear reason, I thought to rationalize with him, so he could see the flaw in his thinking: I said to him, 'what about your friend? Isn't he brown?'  But I quickly realize this was a futile pursuit on my part when his response was to ramble on about his friend falling and cutting himself. What did I expect after all? I mean I was talking to an 8 year old 'brown-skinned' Black boy, who thinks he is 'almost white.'

Did I already say I just found it immensely sad? How could this little Black boy, want to be someone else so badly that he convince himself he IS, or how could a family member be possessed with such self-hate, that she allow this boy to identify himself as 'almost' some other, as opposed to having him be proud of who he IS. And then to emphasize the distorted world he lives in, he placed me, who is the same complexion as him exactly, in the category of brown, whilst unable to see he is the same color.
I would joke about it later to my bf that if he had seen my hair he might have expressed double disdain! And not just said '..but she's...brown!' but may have remarked 'but she's...brown....AND she has kinky hair!!'
'Cuz if he is 'almost white,' then I'm SURE his hair is also, 'almost straight.'

Hair Update and my Twists Regimen

So what have I been doing with my hair of late?
My hair has been in a series of twists, twistouts and messy 'fros. I wish I had pics to post but its so hard to find the time these days.
Anyway, here's the scoop:
I have been experimenting with different size twists and have found that smaller twists last longer. But with a newborn, I no longer have the time for really small twists (when done well, they used to last two weeks, seriously) so now I can only manage the big twists which unfortunately for me, don't last more than two or three days max! Do you guys have any idea what I can do to make my bigger twistouts last longer? Or does it come with the bigger twists?
To get my twists defined and shiny here is what I have been doing:
-wash my hair in braids with dudu-osun shampoo (if hair was out then I dampen my hair, apply my co-wash/daily conditioner, detangle section by section and braid each detangled section)
-condition with my brahmi-ginseng conditioner (homemade) and let sit for about 5 minutes (I'd love to do longer but again, with a baby I have to rush rush rush)
-apply deep conditioner - Phyto, work through hair while still in braids and rinse
-apply kinky curly leave-in and castor oil to each section I unravel, comb through/detangle and re-braid the section
-once hair dries (I allow about a day for that), I twist with my homemade mix (will provide link to the post that has the recipe soon) or with Qhemet Biologics Heavy Cream or with just shea butter/coconut oil/palm kernel oil mix.
-Everyday the twists are in, I seal in  moisture with castor oil or jojoba oil. Once my hair is in twistouts, I re-moisturize with a Phyto cream that has Quinoa oil in it (its in a white tube, I will post the exact name soon but the stuff is good and it smells awesome).

I am also looking for a new deep conditioner. I am running out of the one I currently have, Phyto. And in the name of using only natural-based products on my hair, I don't think I'll re-stock as the Phyto deep conditioner has silicones in it which aren't the worst things in the world but are known to dry out hair and since I'm prone to dry hair, I will stay away.
I have been hearing good things about Karen's Body Beautiful line in general. The only thing that makes me hesitate is the products are a bit pricey but if I can  get my hands on the deep conditioner, I would definitely try it. In the meantime, I'll finish the Phyto that I do have right now.
I have never been length-obsessed but I have, of late, felt more eager for my hair to grow longer as its in what I think is this awkward stage - far from a cute twa but not long enough to put in a ponytail.
So that's what I've been up to. I will definitely try to put up more posts going forward.

What do white people really think about black hair??

I work with a lot of Caucasions, between my patients and my co-workers.  Since starting my natural journey, my hair has been a source of wonder for lack of a better word.  That doesn't surprise me, as it it still a wonder to myself.  Being still in my experimentation stage (I have to admit, i don't have this natural thing quite figured out just yet), I have rocked many a different hairstyle to work, although I try to keep it as professional as possible.  I started out with my afro puff, then moved on to twist outs, then I had long waist length box braids for awhile, bantu knot-outs ... you name it I've tried it.  I've had more than my share of bad hair days... days when I experimented with style expecting a certain result and when I wake up on Monday morning and undo it, it's something completely different.  Of course, I have to go to work and there's no time to fix it so I just gotta roll with it.  Needless to say, I've had many self-conscious days.
By and large the comments from my white patients and co workers have been good.  They LOVED the box braids.  It turned out many of them thought it was my real hair.  And I wonder how can anyone logically think they are real when just a week before I had a short afro puff?  How can hair grow 3 feet over the course of a weekend.  This one completely perplexed me!
I had rave reviews of my twist outs as well and my afro puffs would get the occasional, "how cute" comment. 
Well yesterday at work I had one of my wackier patients ask me if I ever wear extensions.  I replied that I have occasionally.  She says she has been thinking about getting some extensions, the long curly kind.  I told her it would suit her, hoping the conversation would end there.  Then she starts to talk about how she likes to switch up her hairstyles often.  She tells me she's noticed that I wear my hair different almost every time she sees me (which is probably true), then she goes on to say  "... but you have to, because you're black".  I wasn't sure what that meant and didn't really care to ask so I left it at that and tried to sneak away but she kept on talking.
"Have you seen the movie 'Good Hair?' "
I groaned inaudibly because I know how it is when white people get a peek at something that is an insight into black people and things that are unique to them.  They sometimes take their own perspective on it and think of it as another way black people are inferior or at least different.  I replied no.  She tells me how funny the movie was because of Chris Rock's commentary and how she feels "so sorry for you black people because of all the stuff you have to do to your hair". 
I reply that many black women choose to do things to their hair, they don't have to.  Just then someone called me and I made a quick exit and was very relieved to get out of that conversation because I hate having to educate ignorant people although maybe it is my duty as an intelligent black woman.  But I was perplexed about that for awhile.  Do white people really feel sorry for us??  I'm not sure how others feel but pity to me is the sister of scorn.  Maybe that's a little strong, but when someone pities someone it almost always comes with a feeling of superiority.  I could be wrong though.
I felt the need to tell somebody because although disturbing, it was also amusing.  So I tell my one black female coworker about what I just experienced and she just shrugs.  Which made me think maybe she is one of those black women who don't identify herself with other black women as a collective... the "she's not talking about me" phenomenon but I"m very sure she was.  
Now, what my patient said wasn't outright racist or even overtly offensive and maybe I read too much into it.  Actually I didn't really think of it much again until now as I write this blog but it has left an imprint on my subconscious.  The longer I have natural hair the more I identify with what it means to be a black woman and feel the need to defend us as a collective.  So I learned something new about how white women view us but more importantly I learned something new about myself and the ways I've grown since being on this "natural journey".

Hair and Pregnancy

I have meant to do a post on this for awhile but alas, the time when you have a young baby - where does it go?! What led me to want to do this post was that I noticed at about three months after baby's birth, alot of hair left in my comb during a comb-out session, usually after a wash. I was puzzled for a minute, until I remember reading about post-partum hair loss.

Ladies, if you have been through it, you know its somewhat disconcerting to see a palm-ful of your glorious hair in - well - your palm. And you may have wondered why you are losing so much hair. And if you are like me, you tried to find out why by researching about it, or maybe you didn't. I just want to let you know, however upsetting it may be - it's perfectly normal. 

Here is a brief breakdown. Your hair as you know has a natural growth, resting and shedding cycle that is determined by genetics. You can't control that. You also can't control how your hair will respond to the hormones in your body. Hormones during pregnancy such as progesterone alters your hair's natural growth, resting and shedding cycle, mostly impacts the shedding cycle and for most women this means, thicker, a more lustrous-looking mane during pregnancy. But try not to get attached. That extra-lustrous mane you have on your head during your nine months is temporary (extra blood vessels and blood during pregnancy also help the luminous-ness of your mane by bringing extra nutrients to the scalp).
After you give birth, hormone levels return to normal and (and so does your blood volume). The result is that your hair also returns to normal. The process of your hair getting back to normal is what you see with the significant hair loss. Since the shedding phase was put on hold during your pregnancy, all the hair that would have otherwise shed, do so post-partum. Hence the comb-ful of hair.

Don't get discouraged if you are just starting out your hair journey or in the early stages like me  (of course it can be equally disheartening when you have five years worth of long natural hair, coming out as well). Its temporary. The hair loss peaks about 3-4 months post-partum and should taper off after that. Just make sure the hair is not breaking, it should be coming out from the root, if it does at all. And keep up your haircare regimen. You are likely doing nothing wrong and its just a natural process. If over 6 months post-partum you are still experiencing alot of shedding, you may want to talk to your doctor as the hair loss should likely have slowed back to your normal amounts by then for most of us.
To help keep my hair healthy during this difficult time, I take a vitamin A supplement in the form of a cod liver oil emulsion.
To all you natural new mommies out there, what do you do to keep your hair healthy post-partum?

How Do You Wash Your Hair?

Since going natural I have washed my hair the same as when I was relaxed. But it took several recent washes after which I noticed alot of lost hair in the comb-out process for me to realize that different hair texture (and a more tangly one) might have to mean different approach to washing.
I had read where other naturals with much longer hair, credits washing in braids with hair length retention and thought, 'hey, they are obviously doing something right with the hair to show, why not try it?' So I did. And yes definitely I noticed less hair lost in the washing process.
I thought it might be a bit tricky since I usually scrub my scalp and hair with a rubbing motion and didn't want to put tension on the braided strands. So I just made sure I was gentler with the scrubbing especially with the delicate nape, sides and front hair.
So this will be my technique from now on.
Have you thought about your hair-washing technique?

What is your natural style???

1)  Edgy - You like to wear your hair in styles that are out of ordinary, young, hip and chic.  You think of creative things to do with your hair, the kind of styles that make people do a double take.  Your style is definitely thought out and you are up to date on the latest trends and often make your own. .  i.e.the frohawk

2)  Girly Girl - You love accessories your favorite of which are flowers or bows.  Dresses are your staple, anything with lace or eyelet is a plus.  You like your hair soft with feminine curls and usually forgo the trends for a more classic style

3)  Classy Lady - You are a professional.  You like a more understated look with updos and tucked under styles.  You carry yourself in a way that demands respect and is in line with social norms.  Your look is clean and natural and so is your hair ... always neat and well done.

4)  Wild Child/Diva - You are proud of your fro and you wear it without a care in the world.  Your hair is often messy and big ... and you like it that way and make no apologies.  Trends are not your thing.

5)  Sexy Vixen- Foxy Brown is your hero.  You love sexy big hair with just the right balance of done and undone.  Your personality is just as big as your hair, you like to show your curves but leave a little to the imagination.  You don't shy away from red lipstick or animal prints.  Your accessories are big and overstated... far from girly!

Diary of a Naturalista

Diary of a Naturalista

 (author not pictured)

I would like to share with you my dating life and the experiences I've had since going natural. Admittedly, when I first considered going natural I was very apprehensive about what it would do to my dating life as a single woman in her late twenties.

I was apprehensive to the point that after months of transitioning, I gave in and relaxed my hair around the time I was supposed to do my "big chop". I was newly single and hadn't considered the prospect of dating with my hair in its natural state. I envisioned myself with my short kinky hair at a complete loss as to how to style it and with my confidence level at an all time low. I imagined men would shun me and I would spend the rest of my foreseeable future hiding in a corner.

Well I immediately regretted relaxing my hair and proceeded to start the transitioning process again and this time I went through with it.

So my first experience with my cropped natural hair:

#1: There was a man at the hospital where I worked who had been crushing on me ever since I'd started working there a couple months before. It was his reaction that would be the moment of truth as to whether I felt like men would find me equally attractive with this new look. I told no one I was chopping my hair. I only appeared one Monday morning with my cropped kinky hair. I had gotten looks and compliments from my white female coworkers but I was apprehensive about how a black man would respond. I was ducking through the halls when I spotted him getting in the elevator. I tried to slip away unnoticed as his elevator door closed when suddenly the door reopened and he stuck his head through suddenly.
"Oh my gosh" he said as the door was closing again.
I kept on walking unsure of what that meant. Minutes later, I got a text, "You look SOOO sexy with short hair!"
*sigh of relief*

#2: The next moment of truth: there was a guy I had gone on a date with during the time I was transitioning. During my transition,I had managed to mask my new growth to where no one could really tell I was transitioning. I was just another girl with relaxed hair. He was clearly attracted to me then and wanted to see me again. Now, I was apprehensive because I looked a lot different. 
He was coming to pick me up at my place and I felt the need to warn him... more for my own good than his. You see, I feared he would have some unexpected knee-jerk reaction that would offend me and scar me for good, making me regret the day I decided to go natural. So I figured if i warned him ahead of time, he could prepare an appropriate response that would not offend me. I texted him, "btw, i cut off my hair and it's now cropped and natural, just so there are no surprises when you see me". His response "why did you do that???"
I didn't respond. He stared at me shamelessly the whole date over lunch which made me uneasy "What if I told you I was only thinking good things?" he he replied when I confronted him about it. I shrugged. He was still interested after that, but unfortunately the attraction was never there on my part. Life went on.

So far I had gotten two black men's responses to my natural hair. But what about other races?

The truth is white men didn't seem to notice any difference. The ones who were attracted to me continued to be attracted to me, the ones who never gave me the time of day still didn't. A few weeks after I had done my big chop, one of the ICU nurses, a white man, asked me out. It was my last day of work. To my knowledge he never called.

#3: My third experience was a date with another black man. His first reaction, "I'm so excited about your hair!!!" as he proceeds to stare. He later says, still staring at my hair, "I dont' know many black women who would leave their houses with their hair like that" ( I was wearing a wash and go). I felt like I should be offended but I was more amused. I knew he meant well. And he did call me after that first date and wanted to see me again. Another sigh of relief.

#4: Another moment of truth. I reunited with an old male friend with whom I had had a long history. Technically he had been my first boyfriend and I guess you could say there had always been something between us. We hadn't seen each other in a year but he texted me and asked before we met, "So... are you wearing your hair natural these days?" (he later admitted he had been cyber-stalking me).
When we did see each other, he told me how great I looked but who knows what he was really thinking? By this time, my hair had grown out some and I wore it in a puff.
Weeks later for the first time since going natural, I got braid extensions because I was going on vacation and didn't want to have to fuss my hair. This friend tells me weeks later "Don't take this the wrong way", I braced myself for it. "I think you look better with long hair. It frames your face beautifully. Besides, natural hair is so much harder to take care of. You have to put a lot of stuff in it to make it wearable"
I avoided getting defensive and gave an insincere thank you to the part about my face. I felt self conscious around him after I took the braids out. I was convinced that he was hating on my natural hair. One time, he proceeds to run his hands through it, seemingly more out of curiosity than adoration and I was very annoyed. Thank goodness my hair was freshly washed and conditioned and feeling soft and touchable. He never commented again on my hair but seems to have accepted it as part of me, as I've made it clar to him that I have no intention of going back.

Then there was another black guy at work who told me I would look good with dreads. Contrary to my childhood friend, this guy was disappointed when I put braids in and told me he likes my real hair better because"it looks more natural". (Well of course it does!)

To sum it up, my theory is this: natural black hair on a woman is so foreign to black men that their reactions range from rejection to curiosity to just plain confusion. But eventually they get it... The ones who are resistant at first come to accept and even admire natural black hair and confidence it takes for a woman to embrace it in a society that idealizes a different kind of hair. Some men never get there however. I've come to accept this and I blame society for hiding real black women behind relaxers and weaves for so long that it's become the norm. For many black men, relaxers and weaves are natural and natural hair is... not.

Do You Dudu(-Osum)?


I re-stocked my dudu-osum shampoo a few days ago and realized I never shared this find with you! I think I shared quite a few posts back that I do not use commercial shampoos in my hair. When I had a twa, I used only conditioner to wash my hair and as my hair has grown out, I have used a homemade shikakai shampoo (homemade shikakai shampoo recipe here). The only alternative to my homemade recipe is the dudu-osum herbal shampoo. I love it because it does not strip my hair of moisture.

Here are the ingredients:
Pure Honey, Shea Butter, Osum (Camwood), Potassium Palkernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Glycerine, Aloe Vera, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, Neem Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Water and Fragrance.

My Hair Now

I think I told you that I had in some protective styles via extensions for awhile. My last look was rope twists and sadly in the process of taking them out, realized I had lost alot of hair at the hairline because the person who put them in did them too tight. I usually insist whoever is putting in extensions not do them tight but this time around was different. I was distracted by the tornado of having a new baby and being a first time mom and, sadly but appropriately, my hair came second to him. I remember the day I had them re-done. I felt the tightness but baby was fussing in my arms and I just wanted to be done so I could tend to him and I thought, "I'll just put some oil on my scalp, it should be fine."
Well learn from my experience Naturalistas, if your scalp feels uncomfortable because of a style you are trying to do, don't push it. Especially at your hairline, the hair is extra sensitive to breakage. For me its lessons learnt and now the biggest downer is knowing the hair at the front hairline, once it grows back in, will not be the same length as the rest of my hair, which was a major goal for me.
Anyway, I applied some of my scalp oils once I took the extensions out. I then detangled in the shower with my co-wash shampoo, then shampooed, then deep conditioned using a mix of my Phyto conditioner and my homemade brahmi-ginseng conditioner. I had alot of growth but as usual, the shrinkage, particularly at the sides and back where my curls are tightest, was out of this world. I spent alot of time detangling and mainly because I had the extensions in so long. I clipped my ends and twisted my hair. Here is the result of the twistouts:

Meet Your New Blog Host

My natural (and real) sister Lisa will be hosting this site with me. She brings a wealth of information abut her experience with going and staying natural and will even post videos of her different styles. She went natural a few months after I did and has a beautiful thick head of hair to show for it. Here is a pic of her afro.

Welcome, Lisa!

I'm Back!

Hello Fellow Curlies!
I know it has been forever and I bet you thought I'd given up on the blog but I have had a very very busy almost-year. I am now a new mom and so my time has been almost nonexistent.
Also, my hair was in protective styles for much of the past year. I started with kinky twist extensions and then rope twists because I knew with a new baby I would not have time to deal with my hair. I took out the rope twists last week after four months in (yes my hair was a tangled mess) and am now rocking my first twistouts after a very long time.
 I was very happy to see my hair again and excited to resume my blogging on my hair journey. Its now a full-blown afro (goodbye twa!) so I can now play with different styles. Will I have the time to do all that? We will see. Whether I am able to find time to create a cute style or not, I will of course continue to take care of my 'fro in hopes it will get even bigger and fluffier and healthier. So continue on  this journey with me!
Although I have not had time to blog, I have been keeping a photo journal of my hair growth on fotki.com. Here is the link where you can check out pictures to see my hair growth transition: www.fotki.com/demena24

On a side note: Since my blogging time is limited due to the demands of being a new mom, my sis who became a Natural a few months after I did, will be sharing the hosting duties on this blog. Expect posts from her about various topics. Together hopefully we can continue to keep you inspired and excited about your own hair journey!