Thursday, March 25, 2010

Insult? Or ignorance?

SO... who still watches ANTM? *raises hand sheepishly*. I should have outgrown it by now, but it's just so darn entertaining. There are a few black and mixed girls but what brought me into my own space this week was the teasing of Brenda.

She was turned into a crop topped red head and is struggling with looking a little aged in the face. She is really having trouble adjusting to her short hair, having worn it long all of her life. Brenda reminds me of a girl after the BC, trying to adjust to life as a short haired (and nappy haired in our case) woman. Due to a personality conflict, the other ladies in the house found themselves picking on her, somewhat lightheartedly. One said she looked like Miranda from Sex in the City. I agree! And there is nothing wrong with looking like Miranda, except that she is older than Brenda would like to be considered. But another girl said she looked like Chucky :-(

Both comments spawned from her new hair cut and color. Short or curly red hair is stigmatized in the commercial-straight-hair community. Both comments really hurt Brenda's feelings but were obvious digs based on something only moderately similar. So why did the comments come into my living room and sit on my lap? Who do I get "compared" to in that same way... over and over, since 2001?

Sideshow Bob.

He has red hair too, but what makes him comparable to me? His CrAzy hAiR. His big, all over the place hair, forming a free form fro of sorts. I have had associates, co-workers, strangers, and even so-called suitors tell me "Oh, you know who you look like!? that character from the Simpson's! Side..." show Bob. Thanks.

I mean, it's an insult, sure. But is it based in malice? Ignorance? or just novelty and unfamiliarity? The last time I heard it however, was less than a year ago on the streets of DC- where natural heads run free. Especially on the streets downtown. I'm leaning towards malice in most cases, similar to Brenda's teasing. I think many people, MANY people, do not like big, kinky hair. I think MANY people think it is unattractive, unkempt, and inappropriate for wearing out. I think those people find humor in its appearance, and the most bold of those people will make their opinion known via "subtleties" such as likening it to crazy cartoon hair, or pointing, whispering, flat out ignoring my presence...

"Do you ever think about straightening your hair?"

"Is that ALL your hair?"

"You looked really nice in these old pictures. Straight hair looked good on you!"

"OH, I love you hair this way (pressed). It looks so ELEGANT!"

"Ha. You look like a BUSH woman." (my uncle-in-law said this, and has 6(SIX!) daughters)

"You look like Eryka Badu/Jill Scott" (performers. NO. I DON'T.)

"Ghasp- a ball/wedding/black tie event! But what are you going to do with your hair?"

"How long does it take you to... um, do... your hair like that."

"I always think you are in a bad mood when you pull it back. What does it mean when you wear it different?"

When I was young it would bother me. Never enough to make me change it, but enough to make conscious of my "bad behavior". It made me more cognizant of the rift between the ideal beauty and my beauty. Our beauty is complex and naturally feminine and unique. I would not give my coils and kinks back for the world.

To this all I say:

"You ever think about wearing your hair in a huge fro? I think it would look good on you." :-D

Have a nice day.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Texture close ups and embracing SHRINKage...

I stay on the web, lurking checking out other hair and style blogs and we just loooove talking about product and defining curls. I also saw an instance where a blogger commended me for showing my hair texture with and without product. It made me realize that I tend to post most often when I HAVE found some product or combo that defines my curls. I do post my regular ole frizzy shrunken hair in all it's glory at times, and in reality I wear it like this far more often than my posts would imply. I decided to post these picts from this past week and weekend as incentive to embrace what our hair does. I only used conditioner and castor oil on my hair, and its soft, coily and tightly shrunken. And yes- I wear it out like this.

I also site my hair's multiple personalities as further evidence that experimentation can lead you anywhere. When I went natural in 2001 (seemingly alone!), I knew I had coils, but did not know they were curls, or that I could wear them out as curls. I didn't expect much out of my hair, and yet it continued to grow and get thicker and respond to more and more "experiments." I accepted it as it is, and then I learned how to manipulate it. It's about what you have and what IT can do, rather than what you want, and how to force what you have.
Click to make the pictures larger.

annnnnnndddd...... (I can't help it)
This is also why I love/hate hair typing. I suppose I'd say I have 3c-4a hair when it's helpful, but it's sooo arguable depending on what day you catch me. I think we can "push" our hair in either direction with product or styling, or even simply drying it a certain way. I think some women want to be kinkier (no pun) and some want to be curlier. One's self proclaimed hair type is always analyzed based on a presumed proclivity to push.

In my case, I'm light skinned with light eyes, so I have often heard people deny that I could have 4a hair, or that their hair could be anything like mine. I think they assume I'm too mixed or somehow conflicted about my heritage thus have a desire to be "blacker" than I am. I even had someone tell me, more or less to my face, that the only reason I went natural was to prove I was African-American. That person went on to claim that they distrust and automatically dislike lightskinned girls with natural hair.

I LOL now, but it was like 2003- and it hurt my feelings then. As we all know (I hope), texture is not inherently linked to skin or eye color, nor is ethnicity. Generalized hair typing can often be a helpful way t o analyze the effect of a product on a coil pattern, but I believe it also provides a worm hole to rot our gorgeous apple/natural hair culture.

I hope one day we can come up with a less stratified way of describing our textures, where all reference to a 1,2,3,a,b,c hierarchy is removed.

That is all :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dodge the Disaster! Product mixing/white balls/flakes.

"Nisus, how do you use your Eco Styler as a wash n go? When you say you mix it with a leave in, do you put them on separately or you mix them in a bowl together and then apply? I can never get the look, and I always have the white balls issue? Please help"
OMG I know this disaster all to well. You have freshly washed/wet head of hair and you go to apply product... then ICK! white globby, flaky, pearled up flecks take over your pretty hair. Most of the time you have to start alllll over again and perhaps even "wash" it out. This sort of monkey wrench has tacked on 30 min of lateness, over-washing hair, and even failed attempts at salvaging, only to find myself in PUBLIC with grossness in my hair. So in my 9+ years since getting my last relaxer, I have discovered that it is not the Gel alone that causes the issue, and also that no plan is foolproof!

What I do now is sacrifice a dime - quarter sized dab of each product I plan to mix in my palm like so: Gel and leave in.

Then I use a finger to mix it thoroughly. If I get a smooth, creamy substance, it's probably safe. However, if it does this to any degree:

Looks gross right? It may vary from what looks like congealed milk or cottage cheese to a version of goo like above, where the product has a strong resolve to separate. It will do the same thing in your hair. The other thing to note is that you may have left-over product in your hair from conditioning, so add a dab of conditioner to the test as well if you still have some in your hair. Yet another variable. Similarly, a bit of water can sometimes make the products mix a little better, so if the results are questionable you could add a few drops. Water could push it to the safe zone.

The hitch IS, I have to remember to do this every time because going off memory has failed me far too many times. I'll forget which Gel or which leave in it was that worked, or sometimes arrogantly think a product is so similar to another that it will yield a similar result without testing = disaster.

The combo's I know work with Ecostyler off top are:
There are others for sure but I can't speak with certainty. I use IC gel and Kinky curly at times too, so I get confused. As far as application, it depends on how much time I have. If I have time I will mix them in an empty container beforehand and apply it heavily to my hair outside of the shower. If I'm running shorter on time, I'll apply my leave in in the shower as my last detangler, and then apply the gel, perhaps in the shower, but more likely a few min later. The results are about the same right away, but it lasts longer (3 day hair) if I mix them first. I guess it reconstitutes better, having had a more thorough mix and coat.

When testing a new product, my hair friends will say "it works with the gel!" when we find something that works. :-)

Good luck. And, everyone, let us know if you have combos that work for you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Palmers Coconut Oil Formula, Replenishing Hair Milk

I read about the Palmers Hair milk on MahoganyKnots blog and had kinda forgotten about it. Then I was at Target this weekend and there it was on sale display at the foot of the cosmetics isle. I grabbed one thinking "this is my chance!" to try it out for cheap.

I actually don't care for the smell of coconut, and this is a very adulterated, light coconut extract type of smell. I didn't find it to linger in my hair at all though so it's a non-issue for me. What was more notable was the milky liquid texture of it. I thought it would be more like a cream, but its actually more of a lotion (like pink lotion from back in the day.)

I was also surprised to discover that it adds great slip to drying hair and it helped me put in a set of twisted bantu knots on semi-dry hair with very little effort. On day two I applied more, and didn't notice any build up yet. The smell remained untraceable and my hair was soft all the way to the ends. I actually like it, a lot :-)

I am not sure I'd replace my Creme of Nature Rosemary/Lemongrass leave in with it though. They are about the same price, and I use less of the thicker CON, which smells better to me. I also believe Palmers to be a little too light to mix with my gels without added oil, and have yet to check for the negative-gel-reaction (white balls/flakes).

Here was my bantu knot-out on day one, I only had castor oil/rosemary on my scalp and Palmers heavily in my hair. (click pic to make larger)

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Life of a Braid & Curl Set

I did a braid and curl set with the small blue flexi rods last week. I did the set on Sunday on wet hair and sat under the dryer for 2 hours. I used Organix Weightless moisture mouse (a foam), caster oil and Elasta QP mango/Olive oil butter. When I woke up on Monday morning my hair was still wet! Soooo I left the braids in and just took the curlers out. I sure did go to work like this: (click on pictures to make them bigger. All were taken on my iPhone- sorry! )

But on Tuesday- after re-curling the ends I had this:

I was digging it.

On Wednesday it had evolved to this. I put it loose on larger curlers overnight. This was my favorite hair day ;-)

On Thursday I wore my "bang" out and the rest in a bun. I think I need a trim already. I plan on keeping it shorter up front for a while. I makes my life easier!

I'd bantu knotted it the evening before- and succeeded in ruining most of the larger curl pattern. It began to revert to my smaller curl pattern on its own. This was me at night with the bun taken down.

So Friday... Bang out again, which had gotten pooffy-er. I put the bun in back loosely to the side.

Annnd last but not least... Friday late evening. This is what was left. Good weekend big hair! BUT it was dirty because I used more product every evening. So the styling cycle starts over.

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