Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Haul!

Holy Hurricane!

My mom is here visiting and lo and behold, punctuating her visit is a huge hurricane.  I hate Irene.

So before we had to shutter ourselves in for the day we went food shopping and as usual, that turned into product and goodies shopping.  :-)

We are lucky to be in close proximity to Glut Co-op and Nicey's Boutique. Both are in Mt. Rainier, Md (between Hyattsville and DC).  Both offer the opportunity to score great textile & food, goods & products.  And we spent over an hour shopping lol.  Here is out collective haul:

From Glut, aside from lots of yummy food and dry goods, we got Nature's Blessing Hair Pomade, Zuresh foaming full body cleanser (long time favorite of both of ours) Grapeseed oil, and Dr. Bronner - Castile Soap.  From Nisey's we got 2 beautiful, stretchy scarves, two large winter type hats, A beautiful royal blue Tam, some see-through socks (lol) some of those necklaces you can double and bend up to your hearts content, a copper bracelet for my ailing wrist, some sparkling headbands (for $1 each!!! on sale), some lip gloss sticks, and some aromatic oils for those oil burners. AND she was having a 40% off sale so we got everything for almost half off marked prices!  She even carries Kinky Curly products, mixed chicks, and several other brands of products, soaps and incense. Plus clothes and hats- and I almost forgot- the "Good Hair" tote in the background!  I love it and can't wait to do my general shopping with it.  I may leave it in my car so that I always have it.

We also went to Yes Organics grocery store in DC after our lunch at Eatonville (yum!) and got some Braggs Apple cider vinegar, and Aztec Secret - Indian Healing Bentonite Clay for facials we did last night. I also got another bottle of my KMF gel and decided to try their conditioner. We're all stocked up on yummy foods and watching the rain come down.  But after this blows through, I encourage all my readers in DC to take trip the Glut and Nicey's next door to do some fun and wholesome shopping, while supporting a natural black entrepreneur and a non-profit that feeds back (literally) into their community.

(extra points for anyone who can play I Spy in the photo above and see what other MD food we have been partaking in lol) 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Product Review: KIMBLE HAIRCARE Bounce Back Curl Revitalizer

The Backstory:
When it comes to hair products, I tend to stick by my old standbys (Kinky Curly - Come Clean, Knot Today and Curling Custard are staples in my "routine"). While I suffer from the occasional bout of product junky-ism (mostly if I see a product line with good ingredients -- i.e. low on toxins, high on organics), I tend not to try anything new unless it gets rave reviews. These reviews usually come from Nia and she usually has to mention something to me a few times before I become a believer. Yup, I admit it. I'm a hard headed skeptic.

Earlier this summer I was picking up a few things at Target and decided to pass through the hair care isle just to see what was poppin'. A pinkish bottle caught my eye. I had seen it before, but something about the packaging previously made me pass it by. This time, my eyes focused on the words "paraben free". Oh rrrrrrrreally? These are magic words in my world. I picked up the bottle of KIMBLE HAIRCARE Bounce Back Curl Revitalizer, and while I wasn't wowed by all of the ingredients, I was glad to see others (grapeseed, rosemary, aloe...) Then I noticed that the price was less than $5, so I put the bottle in my shopping cart without another thought. Yup, I admit it. I'm cheap and love a bargain too.

When I got home I googled Kimble Haircare because the name sounded familiar. I realized that was because it's the product line for celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble. While she's not the first person I think of when dealing with natural hair, I figured she's a stylist to the stars for a reason, so why not give it a try?

The Review:
As a true skeptic, I didn't expect much when I first got the product home. I gave it a sniff and to be honest, the fragrance is not my favorite. I squeezed out a tiny amount to check out the texture and noticed that while it's a bit sticky, it also looks kind of like Aquafresh toothpaste  -- like a gel and a cream were combined to make a cool new substance. I'd been looking for something of similar consistency to use to quickly fluff out my curls when there's no time to wash, detangle, etc., so I was excited to see what this could do. The back of the bottle claims that by using this product you can:
"Bounce back to vibrant, natural looking curls with KIMBLE HAIRCARE Bounce Back Curl Revitalizer. This botanical-infused styling cream smooths and boosts each individual ringlet, enhancing overall body and definition. Hair results in increased shine and dimension. Great for those with naturally curly hair."
I was, in fact, able to easily refresh my curls day after day after day with this product. It smoothed my hair and gave some definition (I dunno about "each individual ringlet", but I have a ridiculous amount of hair, so that's really a lot to ask) without causing the hair to dry out. It also helped to reduce shrinkage a bit, which is kind of amazing in and of itself. As I said, I'm not in love with the smell, and it is a tad sticky, but not overly so. My only real complaint would be a few of the more frightening ingredients and that it tends to flake after a couple of days of use, but that is easily solved with a good rinsing, as it washes out really easily.  I'll be buying this again when the bottle runs out.

The Technique:
The only directions on the bottle say: "Apply to wet hair and style as desired." That's not a lot of information to go on, so I decided to just wing it. I used my favorite home-made hair spritz (water, aloe vera juice and vegetable glycerin) to get my hair damp all over, but not sopping wet. I used about a nickle-sized amount in each of four sections of my hair (by sections I mean that I grabbed a bunch of hair in a certain area of my head, not that I took the time to part my hair and clip back each piece) and smoothed from roots to ends. Et voila, jolies boucles! (pretty curls)

I have yet to try this product on freshly (co)washed hair, in place of Kinky Curly Curling Custard and/or gel (Kiss My Face and Eco Styler have been the two I've been using in the recent past). Maybe if I'm feeling experimental in the next couple of weeks, I'll try it out, but in the warmer weather I tend to wear my hair in up-dos and only wear it out for special occasions (which are times when I typically don't feel like trying my luck with new hair techniques). In the meantime, I'll keep using it as I have been, for a quick refresher, either to fluff out my curls and go, or to help smooth my hair into an up-do.

The Rating:
Overall, I'd give KIMBLE HAIRCARE Bounce Back Curl Revitalizer a 4 out of 5.

Question Answered - Dull Hair?

Check out the email addy on the side bar! I opened a new account so I can have more interaction from the blog :-) Email me your questions and I will try to answer them privately or in a new post.  I got this one today:
My name is Sarah and I have hair that is very very dense like yours and my hair is very curly when it is wet, but when it dries (during a wash n go) my hair is dull and looks dry (even when it may not be dry). I would truly be a product junkie if I could afford it, but I can't so I have researched products on you tube experiences.

So far, like I said, your hair is more like mine than any other I have seen, but your hair is shiny and not as frizzy as mine when it dries. I watched the video about "kiss my face" gel and castor oil. Is this better than eco styler? -because I love eco styler, but once it dries my hair frizzes and looks dull and dry.

Also, are there any other products you can recommend to decrease frizz and add shine?
Hi Sarah!  I hope the following helps.

There are two things that may be going on with your hair.

Certain types of natural hair can tend to have more Sheen than Shine.  Sheen is an overall sparkle rather than a reflective shine in light.  Cottony, fine, and porous hair types can tend to be this way.  It doesn't reflect much light, but it can sparkle brilliantly with sheen if its moisturized well.  I don't know if your hair is more sheeny than shiny, but my hair is more shiny than sheeny when its clumped together.  Its fine and dense but when it clumps it reflects light.  (When I say shiny I'm not talking straight hair silky shine. I don't have that either. I'm talking about light reflecting shine!)

Read more here or here.

But I believe you when you say your hair is like mine and the frizz is something else.  Frizz can rob your hair of what shine it has.  So point 2- I think technique is the key factor to defeat frizz, and employ as much shine as possible.

Smoothing the product onto the hair is defense mechanism 1.  I don't like to get too technical because I'd be lying if I said I understood the exact mechanisms by which this works, but it does help a lot when you smooth the hair all in one direction.  You can start smoothing when the conditioner is still in your wet hair.  Once the section of hair is detangled, use your fingers to smooth the hair down in one direction.  I kind of rake my hands through but as my fingers pass through the hair I squeeze them together to smoosh the hair between them together. I get all of my hair smoothed in a downward direction and then rinse with COLD water.  Well, as cold as you can stand it at least.  That helps seal the hair cuticle/keep the little surface flaps closed.  At this point its good to add a light oil to the hair- in the same downward and minimally disturbing way.  This further seals in the moisture from the water and conditioner.  Depending on what concoction I am doing my wash and go with, I will sometimes add a leave in after this, and maybe even a thicker oil even after that.  OR I just mix all the rest of the products in with the gel.

When I use the KMF gel I use a waterbased leave in (like shea moisture curl and style milk), smoothing it through again in all one direction.  Then I use the gel and Castor oil mixture on top of that.  I like KMF/castor better than the Eco styler gel and get less frizz and crunch when it dries, and for days after.  I get the elusive "silky" curls like in the picture. Again though, I smooth everything through, any gels, any leave ins, in one downward direction.  And I always use some sort of oil- castor agrees with my skin.

For instance, the Kinky Curly line is kinda self contained and does not play well with other products, including oils.  My hair will look shiny and smooth on the first day when I use it, but I feel like looks dull after a day, and it also gets frizzy faster than a KMF wash and go does.  I think the oil assists in keeping the flaps down, and adds some surface shine. I don't use KCCC much any more.

I also know that if I just use conditioner (even most leave ins) alone and let it dry that my smoothing is quickly undone as my hair dries and shrinks.  It needs to clump so that the high texture of each individual strand does not show individually- thus producing sheen more than shine.  So for me- the gels are very important for the shine factor.  For some types of hair though the gels just don't work in that way.  I would surmise that the surface of hair that has little shine is just very fragmented, like, the curl has curls, and the plains of those little turns are what make the sparkles.  Whereas shiny hair can be tightly coiled but the surface of the hair in the coil is smooth, and can lay flat on the hair next to it, and so forth and thus clump.

If you try smoothing and the clumps still come apart as your hair dries I'd say you may have hair with sheen.  Sheen is beautiful when it is embraced.  Just keep your hair moisturized with water and oil and try to avoid damaging it!

Traction and heat damage can also make those little surface flaps stay up or break off.  Damaged shiny or sheeny hair will not emit anything :-(

Pressing damage years ago robbed my hair of all its luster and I ended up cutting it all off.

*Edited to add*
Also- almost forgot- make sure you are removing any product build up from your hair, at least once a month. I use a shampoo like Trader Joe's Tea tree tingle, or Shea Moisture's curl and shine shampoo.  A good protein conditioner like Renpure or Joico K-pak also seems to fortify my hair and make it more likely to shine.  I use those once a week for about 10 min. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

100% cosign on a $20 bottle of lotion!

So I saw this post a while ago on K is for Kinky and I was like humph.  Amlactin Lotion.  I sho do need something for the back of my legs and the scars that refuse to fade (all over!)  I have VERY sensitive skin so scrubs and acne medicine just make things worse.

I have tried other skin smoothing lotions and besides smelling funny, I have gone trough entire bottles and noticed nothing different.  

I was at walgreens walking around aimlessly shopping and I saw that they carried it.  The small bottle was $14 and I was in a super crappy mood so I was like I'm gonna buy it- I don't care! *reckless spending face at register*

That was early last week.  By this past weekend, like Kurly Bella, I am blown away!!

My feet are smooth, the bumps on the back of my legs are mere dark spots now, and I can even tell the difference in my hands from simply using my hands to apply the product everywhere else.  I mean- I can't say it much better than she did- but I 100% co-sign!!  Get this stuff!


Hey out there!

Nuri and I are over on Twitter and FB on a whim asking if you have things you would like us to blog about. I figured I'd open up the floor here too!

So far I have been asked about:

  • Pressing, do we do it and how do we get our hair to look full if/when we do.
  • If we still use KMF gel
  • My regime and products
  • and how long I wear my hair in twistouts before washing.
  • More product reviews (oh have I got product reviews lol!) 
More! More!  more! What else?  Pictures? Products? I will answer all of these, and I also have some videos I'm working on, and....  I also have a lot more free time coming up lol (more on that later).

Also- you may not know Nuri as well- any questions for her? 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Server down

One of my image hosting servers ( is down today- Please excuse the janky look of the site while they restore access :-(

Even their website is down. I dunno what's going on!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

WE are up against them. So who are YOU?

So many things have happened under the mass media's watchful eye lately - things that highlight the distain for our kinky hair and our acceptance of our features, bodies and our complexions.

You've got the dude Satoshi Kanazawa.
You've got the recent comments by Andre Walker
You've got the TSA searching a woman's hair because it "poofs away from her body."

And this in just in the past few months.  Let's not talk about the ongoing debate on whether we are marriage material, aka what we are doing wrong to turn suitors away.  How our painstakingly re-constructed positive self image of our bodies harbors a cultural norm of unhealthy eating and inactivity. How we have all the babies out of wedlock, or even how we are the carriers of Herpes - transmitting it with abandon and ignorance.

The word I have seen used as we try and try to respond to these finger wagging reports is fatigue.  Indeed I too never even finished what I began to write each time one of these stories hit the news.  Instead I told myself it was OK not to respond, publicly here or even in private convo. I'd ignore it, and not give it any credence. The attention itself is just fueling our predicted "angry black woman" response, thus making it infinitely more entertaining for the media.We try to come up with our own stats to defend ourselves. We turn the blame on our black men (our sons husbands and fathers in effect).  We try to shed light on the pervasive vilification of our self acceptance and marginalized aesthetic.

But really- we just live and exemplify to those around us what it means to be a black woman.  Or maybe we don't.  Maybe you look like me and other black folks and many non-black folks think you are not black.  Maybe you have natural hair and thus the people who meet you think you are enlightened or otherwise separated from the rest of your kind.  Maybe you are married, or rich or have an advanced degree and thus simply "lucky" or "the exception". 


That is what it means to be a black woman.  We are very interesting and diverse women.  We are all different, with different backgrounds and vices, and talents, and goals and priorities.  We look different- a million complexions and body types.  Our hair varies greatly from head to head.  BUT I'm sure everyone can conjure up the vision and description of a "typical black women" in nanoseconds.  Does the woman you conjure up look like you?  That is my question.  Is she like you?  Who are you?

Because she is you.  I am a typical black woman.  My readers are typical black women.  The blogs I tend to follow are written by typical black women, as are my real life friends.

I think many of us attempt to separate ourselves from "that" woman they are all talking about.  To distinguish ourselves and our experience from the "norm." 

"but I am fair skinned with straight hair"
"but I am a virgin"
"but I am married"
"but I am ebony skinned with an accent"
"but I come from a long line of educated women"
"but I am not american"

Really? How does that make you different?  How does that make it not you that they are talking about in those articles?  How does it make it not about me?  Why didn't any body ask me about STDs, or my relationship, or education level?

Because, yes, you are a "black woman." You are counted in the reports and stats and any refutation of that fact puts you square IN the dag gone stat.

SO what do we do?  We are individuals but we are a group.  We claim not to be personally affected by the latest report, but the ongoing reporting has an effect on us all. I see two ways of reacting.

1. We try to self reflect on our behavior. Perhaps we support each other to break out of these traps of anger, solitude, single motherhood, and diseases.

This, however, gives some credence to the the stats and the portrayal of us in the media. Some of us reject these claims entirely, and thus are unwilling to act on the potential truth behind the lies.  I mean, who wants to publicly admit- "yes we have issues"  particularly when individual black women don't have one or any of the so called issues.  Black folks as a whole have a history of home doctoring ourselves.  By cover of night and code words we self police our crimes, and eating habits, and we chide ghettoness and countryness.  These are things we keep to ourselves and try not to expose as potential weaknesses or failures.  That's human nature, particularly when we are being attacked and chastised by the predominant culture.  We try to stand tall and project a stronger more unified image than what we keep to ourselves on the B roll.

There are examples of this strategy however.  We have initiatives like the Noweddingnowomb site for instance.  It catches flak because it inherently admits "we have a problem" and works to address it.  For women who have children out of wedlock the words "mistake", "wrong", and "shouldn't have" are not forthcoming, nor even true, on a case by case basis. (this site does a great job of highlighting health, stress and culpability as well). 

So will this strategy work?  Perhaps.  Will it be adopted by and large as a means for us to do better?  Not by the light of the sun I say.  We already flip out over public disagreements on natural hair forums or youtube.  *clears throat*  Many of you will remember a recent triangle, (hexagon? oxagon?) when the motives behind some of the natural hair care channels was questioned.  "We are supposed to be unified! an example of strength in the face of adversity! If we are falling apart, how can we convince our sisters to be like us???"

So pheww. That is one way.  We could do more of that, work together, shed any feelings of shame or pride... But what else can we do?

2.  We champion our true diversity and achievements. 

The problem with this is that it can be viewed as sweeping our troubles under the rug, forming elitist circles, painting a picture using an impossibly beautiful model.  Kinda like the self inflicted version of what the mass media is already doing to us. If the models we hold up to be exemplary are not relatable, we loose our audience.  

Now I admit, the natural hair world provides a very biased scale with tons of examples of black positivity.  You have the companies themselves. Oyin handmade, with their adorable family and the self made business women behind many of the brands we all know and love (too many to name!). You have "revolutionary posts" (sorry lol- I hear soapbox voice in my own head here) like the Love is in the Hair contest that was like whoa- these women all found love!! I could go on and on, the beautiful vloggers we watched and all these tech savvy women online writing and postulating or *ah hemmm* pontificating on all things pretty and healthy and beneficial. (sorry- LOLing at myself again. yes, that IS what I do, I think).  The fact I live in this online space makes it really easy for me to forget that "hey! I'm 31 and unmarried, cohabiting in fact with a divorced man and sometimes his 8 yr old son." OR "hey, I can't bust through this damn salary ceiling. is it... my hair?"

BUT- and here comes my point- to a young woman who is still coming of age in an environment where "salaries" and women over 25 without children are as rare as good hair days, all of my blathering on may be very, VERY interesting. I think we ALL have stories to tell and positive examples to set.  There are single moms who are DAMN GOOD moms.  And women without diplomas who are friggen RICH.  That is not to say you promote the very actions you know you would do over if you had the chance, but it is to suggest that for each woman there is something she can show the woman next to her, or coming up behind her.  For instance, this post = I acknowledge the media and the stats and what they are saying about ME.  But I'm talking to ya'll right now.  Whoever you are, meet me.  I have what I have and I am who I am.  Who are you?

Outside of the hair world there are some sites putting in this type of work as well. Black and Married with Kids is a site I go to to see how it could be for me still. (That's more of a sore spot at my age) For you still. For us all, still.
So, if you are still here, still reading, what do you think?  Method one or method 2? and why and why not.  This is my small slice of the inter-webs as a public platform for my response, so you can probably guess what my stance is.  I have my dukes up.  I have lil cards that have my blog name on it.  I talk to the young women around me, heck you have seen a few of them right here on this blog lol. I think we can all do us some good by just being average.  Get it? BEING average. So I ask again, who are you?

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