Short Cut Finger Coils

When I first went natural and did the big chop, I did finger coils often. I would actually spend time taking small sections of hair and coiling them around my fingers. Then a week or so later I’ll uncoil them for springy curls. Now I cannot fathom spending that much time on my hair. When I cut my hair last month I immediately searched youtube and pinterst for style ideas. I loved being able to wash and go but I wanted some options for when I wanted to get a little fancy. I was getting ready to start my first week back teaching from the summer and my fade was no longer fresh. I though “how can I have a nice style, without having to take time and money at the barber or hair dresser?” Luckily I stumbled across a video on how to do finger coils in a fraction of the time. Here’s what I did:

  1. Wash hair with sulfate free shampoo. Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo
  2. Condition and detangle hair.  Aussie Moist Conditioner
  3. Deep condition for 30 min-1 hr. (Aussie Moist + EVOO + coconut milk)
  4. After rinsing apply a palm full of EVOO.
  5. Spray hair liberally with water
  6. Rub gel and curling cream into hair (eco-styler/ Cantu coconut curling cream)
  7. Brush hair in circles with a paddle brush (soft side) until coils form
  8. Continue to spray water as needed as use brush your hair.
coiled TWA
coiled TWA

This process was so simple and the deep conditioning left my hair so soft. After I wore the coils for a few days I uncoiled them for a crinkly curly look. I will do this probably every month in between cuts, when my fade grows out. What other styles do you do with your TWA?

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My 2nd Big Chop

I did the unthinkable. After almost seven years of trying to grow my hair as long as it could get, I cut most of it off. There was a time for about a year after my son was born that I was cutting my hair to get all the red dye out, so essentially within the seven years I’ve been natural, I’ve grown my afro twice. My first big chop the initial big chop in which I went natural. I transitioned for a few months and then cut it off leaving me with a TWA (tiny, weeny, afro). This big chop was different and similar. Both big chops were done for the same cause; I was tired of dealing with my hair. short cut

When I first decided to go natural I was going to transition and slow trim away my relaxed hair. I was getting corn rows, doing braid outs, twist outs, and roller sets to blend my natural and relaxed hair. The thing you have to understand is that I have a lot of VERY thick hair, so I was getting tired of all that work all the time. So the day before my birthday December 16th, of 2010, I did the big chop and became completely natural.

Fast forward to present time. I’m working, married, and a mother. Once again the maintenance of my hair was becoming overwhelming. Styles that were easy for most naturals to achieve were nightmares for me because a have entirely TOO much hair. I know it sounds crazy, but I have never come across someone with hair as thick as mine. It pretty long too, not the longest, but the length combined with the thickness creates a wash day hell. I just no longer had the time and patience to deal with it. Even the quintessential puff was difficult for me. There is no pony tail holder alive that can hold my hair, I used a tightly wound stocking to make my puff, which results in a headache within 2 hours. Braids were ok, once they’re in but its still time and/or money. Plus, because of the thickness of my hair I was left with so many braids that my only style options were low pony, all out, or half up styles. I could not do the cute buns that everyone does with their box braids and twists. Something had to give.

I thought I figured out a solution. I would get locs. That would mean I could easily wash my hair and go. But this dream fizzled as began to think once again about time and money for maintenance whether they were professionally done or not. There was also the braid issue again. With locs I would have the same issue once they grew out. I’d have a ga-zillion locs on my head I could do nothing with. The loctician I was consulting with suggested interlocking which would reduce the density of the locs and make them more manageable. But this seemed risky as research showed that it could be potential unhealthy, and I was not prepared to deal with the price of getting and maintaining them.

The biggest question I’ve been asked since cutting my hair is “what did your husband say?” Actually this was all his idea. He heard me toiling over this for days on end, when one morning during our pillow talk he said, “why don’t you just cut it?” I asked “do you really think I could pull that off?” He replies, “of course, you’re the most beautiful person I know, and you have a perfect shaped head.” I really didn’t think so, but I trusted him, and it turns out he was right. I really love this look. We joke about it now, because around the time I did it I starting watching “Orange is the New Black”, and my favorite character is Poussey (RIP😢) . I currently have a tapered fade, but he says I should cut it all the way low like her. I’m not opposed to the idea, but for right now I think I’ll keep at least a few curls at the top.

I plan on playing around and having some fun with it, something I could not do with my long hair. I’ve gotten some parts on the side, I want to get a design in the back next. Maybe I’ll keep it tapered but grow it out on the sides for a couple months before fading it down again. I’ve watched you tube videos about how to do easy finger coils with a brush. Earrings have a whole new meaning now! The possibilities are endless. The best feeling in the world was the next day when I took a shower, co-washed my hair, and just went. I could literally do a true “wash and go” again, like when I first big chopped my hair. Its crazy how a feel like a have more freedom with less hair on my head, its completely liberating.

 

Perm Rod Roller Set

This past week I did a roller set on my hair for the first time since I’ve been fully natural. When I had a relaxer my mom did them for me regularly. It was also a go-to style while I transitioned, because it hid the 1-2 inches of new growth very well. I’ve had roller sets done a couple of times at a salon since going natural, but this is the first time I attempted by myself. I debated whether I would use flexi-rods or perm rods. After I quick #askfb, I decided on perm rods. Here are the steps I took to achieve my curls:

1. Wash & Condition

I did my regular wash day routine. It took a little TLC, because I had may hair twisted previously. I did not take the twist out prior to wash day, so there was some work involved in getting my hair untwisted. I did a pre-poo hot oil treatment with avocado oil, washed with my Organix Coconut Milk shampoo, detangled with Aussie Moist, and used my DIY deep conditioner recipe. I let the deep conditioner sit on my hair for an hour then washed it out continuing the detangling process in the shower.

2. Partial Air Dry

After I got out of the shower I put my hair into 6-8 braids so it could partially air dry while I did some chores. My hair is very thick so if I wanted it dry by the next day it could not be soaking wet when I put the rollers in.

3. Roll it up

I was intending to blow dry the sections a little more with cool air, but I got lazy roller set natural hairand impatient. I decided the air drying would be enough and I started rolling my hair. I could not figure out the best method of rolling it, I experimented with a few different ways and based on the outcome I would know how to do it in the future. Most of my hair was simply sectioned and rolled. There were a few spot where decided to twirl my hair as if I was doing bantu knots and then roll it. An others I only twirled the ends and then rolled the rest of the section regularly. I think the twirled ends methods has the best outcome. I will do it like this if I try it again. I did find it difficult to get the rollers snugly against my scalp. I had to re-roll a lot because they would start to hang. I rolled the front 2 rows facing forward so those curls would hang down in my face. It took me about 2 hours to roll it all up.

4. Let it Dry

This step was simple enough, I just went about my normal Sunday activities while nature did the rest. I thought about going to my sisters to get her hooded dryer, buying a bonnet dryer, or using my hand held dryer. I’m just so used to my hair still being damp when I get up in the morning. But I decided not use the heat and let it air dry on its own.

5. Taking out the curls

That morning I woke up at my regular time, but I did not work out. I used that time to take out the rollers. I was also afraid that the sweat would mess it up, before I even took it out. I uncurled it using a little coconut oil on my fingers. I simple took out the rollers first, then I fluffed and separated the curls a little. I didn’t to separate it too much, because I wasn’t looking for the puffy affect.

Reflections

When I do it again I will definitely twirl the ends before rolling up the hair. The sections that I did that with did not have fuzzy ends. I think it was a success for my first time. It wasn’t the sleek curls I was hoping for, but it was still cute. Next time I will either buy my own or borrow a hooded dryer. I will also use smaller rollers,  I think I’d prefer tighter curl. I think that will achieve the look I was after. Although, I sometimes feel like I don’t have the skill to get salon quality results. Its still good to understand how to style my hair myself. That day I sported my hair with pride. It was the start of a health unit, so as a PE teacher that normally sports yoga pants and a t-shirt, I was excited about looking nice.  I got many compliments on my hair as well as my “Tulle” colourpop ultra matte lipstick I wore that day. My roller set couldn’t have been too bad. What do you all think? How do you do your roller sets for optimal results?

pretty natural curls

 

Straightening my Mane

In the process of trying to get through this winter hair rut, and rejuvenate my mane,  I decided to straighten my hair. I do this every 1-2 years. I allows me to see how much my hair has truly grown and to properly trim my ends. I trim my ends a little when I twist my hair. I just cut off all the straggly ends that hag from the twist. But I know its not as thorough as if an actual stylist does it. I searched Groupon for deals on some natural hair stylist. I previously got a blow out at a Dominican shop, and while I was pleased with the results I was not pleased with the experience. The stylist made me brush out my own hair dry before she washed it. This, although seemingly outrageous, is not an uncommon event for me. The same thing happened when I went to get senegalese twist, and to make things worse I was 8 months pregnant at the time. I found a place in a nearby city that had a deal. It was quite convenient because my cousin, also my son’s God mom, lives there so she could babysit while I got my hair done. I was ready to give this place a try at styling my precious mane.

When I told the stylist the experiences I had with other “professionals” making me brush my own hair she was appalled. Her reply was “that’s what you pay us for, to have someone else do your hair, so you can relax.” It was music to my ears. She seemed well aware of how to work with natural hair. She finger combed through my hair a little before washing, then came shampoo and conditioner. After the wash and condition I sat at the chair, where she detangled my hair with…..a wide tooth comb! Can you believe it? She then proceeded the blow dry my hair, flat iron, trim, and curl it. I wish I had remembered my heat protection and anti frizz serum, but hopefully there isn’t any heat damage. The trimming stage hurt my heart, because it dramatically reduced my length. I had to get over it, because those were damaged ends and it would only cause more breakage to keep them. It still noticed a considerable amount of growth since my last blow out. The stylist has a sister that does braids. Although I typically try to do my own hair, or have a family member do it when I want braids, I will make this my go to shop when I want special treatment. Its even better that I can go to one place for blow outs, curl sets, and braids.

I wore my hair out for the rest of that day, admiring my length. That night I wrapped it, and kept it that way all Sunday. It was my goal to keep it up with as little heat as possible. It was very voluminous the next day, because it started to puff up a little bit. For the remainder of the week I wore it in various pony tails, something else I can’t do regularly without stretching my hair out in some way. I flat ironed it once again the next Sunday. Then for the rest of the week once it started to revert I did a bantu knot set.

I always have mixed feelings when people compliment my straightened hair. My students say “OMG, you look so pretty”, as if I’m not with my afro. I try not to take it personally, because most people are trying to be nice. Although one of the older, teacher assistants took it a little farther. She said “I know your husband’s happy.” I proudly said, “actually he prefers my natural hair.”Not every one felt as that particular teacher assistant does. There is yet another TA at my school, who is always raving about my natural hair, because since her treatment for breast cancer she has never been able to get her texture back. She walked right past me and said “I didn’t even recognized you, it so long and pretty…but you know I love the natural, girl.” My husband also, love my afro. Even when I have braids, he bugs me about when MY hair will be out again. So, when I straighten it, he compliments my length, but then says “it’s just not you anymore.” I love that he is so supportive and admires me for who I am, from my head to my toes.

Straightening my hair is supposed to be like a reset for me to restart my healthy hair regimen. The next step is protective styling. I’ll probably get crochet twist to keep in for 6-8 weeks, then go from there. I just the versatility of my mane.

Rejuvenating my Mane.

hairHave you checked out my natural hair regimen? If you have I should note that I am a complete fraud. My lion mane has been very unkempt for the past few weeks, for no reason other than my own laziness.  I hate to use the “busy working mom” excuse, but this stuff is hard. Just yesterday a student said “you look tired” and I replied, “gee, thanks a lot”. In his opinion I should not have been tired because its Friday, but my reply was that “I’m tired because its Friday.” My past month has included: being snowed in, car repairs, potty training, parent teacher conference nights, and various other after-school meetings and requirements, and sickness.

Every weekend my intention would be to do my typical winter routine of wash, deep condition, and twists. Saturday would come and go, Sunday would come and go, even some Monday holidays/workdays, and snow days off, and I still would not have the motivation to do anything with my hair. To make things worse I wasn’t even protecting my hair at night. I would either fall asleep on the couch or be to tired to find my bonnet to wear. (This is where a satin pillow case would come in handy). So I really wasn’t worrying about putting my hair a pineapple, sealing and moisturizing, or using the plastic cap to lock in moisture. The most I was doing was  fluffing it out in the morning after it got moist in the shower and adding a leave in. Occasionally, I would put it in a puff and/or maybe add a twist or something in the front. But I am determined at this point to get back on track. These are the steps I plan on taking.

1. My twist routine.

This weekend, as in today, I am going to reset my usual routine. I really mean it this time. I am going to do a hot oil treatment with coconut, EVOO, or avocado oil, co-wash, and deep condition. I will then put my twist in and wear them for 1-2 weeks. This is my typical winter routine, when I am trying to use as much protective styling as possible. I will usually wear my hair out for a little but after I take the twist out. But I need to get back to this.

2. Straightening

I know this might seem like the opposite of what I should be doing for healthy hair management, but sometimes I just get a boost my seeing my hair totally stretched out. I plan on going to a professional stylist that specializes in natural hair. I got a blow out at a Dominican stylist last year, and while I was happy with the results, I was skeptical about the treatment of my hair. They were VERY rough. I understand that there is going to be some pulling and tugging, but I want to make sure my hair is getting the best care possible; especially after my own bad habits. This is also an opportunity for me to get a good trim. Although it always breaks my heart to see them trim away all that length, I know its damaged ends so no need to keep it. After this I will be ready to keep up my healthy hair.

3. PROTECTIVE STYLING

For the rest of the dry wintry season, maybe even through spring break, I plan on keeping protective styles. And I mean real protective styles with all my hair tucked away. I’ll probably rotate between crochets, corn row styles, and buns with some added hair. I will of course be moisturizing throughout and washing/conditioning in between styles. I just want to make sure that I am keeping my hair away from the elements as it has been very much exposed for the past month or 2.

My hair is so important to me. Natural hair care is no easy task. Some people think its easier than having a relaxer, boy are they wrong. I had reasonably long hair before I was natural, it would be a shame if my hair was worse of now that I am natural. This is by no means swaying me back to the creamy crack. I am a Naturalista for life, for more reasons than just having long hair. I would be lying if I said my long was not to surpass my relaxed hair length. I know we all have ups and downs, but I hope to get back to my old self; rocking my coils for the world to see.

Natural Hair Product Wish List

These are just a few products that I think will be beneficial for my hair. Some of them are items that I’ve been aware of but just never tried because of availability and/or price. Others are things that I recently been introduced to. I look forward to actually purchasing them, trying them out, and sharing my experience in the future.

  1. Kinky Curly Line (especially the Kinky Curly Custard)

    I’ve known people that swear by these products. The two main items I hear about the most are the “Knot Today” leave in conditioner, and the Kinky Curly Custard. I typically try not to by into marketing of “black natural hair” product. I by items that are affordable and don’t have harsh ingredients. The only actual beauty brand products a buy are shampoo, conditioner, and sometime of curl cream. Everything else I make with a mixture of ingredients. Natural hair products are more accessible now than every before. So, I may try to catch a sale and get me some.

  2. SLAPS Satin-Lined Cap

    This is seems like a must have item for any naturalista. I can wear it stand alone for a stylish look or under other hats to protect my hair from damage. It will also keep my hair an styles protected at night.

  3. Satin Pillow Case

    This is not some brand new invention that has been hidden from me all these years. I just have to remember to pick one up the next time I’m in a department store. I need this for nights when I just plop myself in bed without doing any of my nightly routines. At least I can reduce damage from friction with the fabric fibers.

  4. Flexi Rods and/ or Perm Rods

    I used thick flexi rods when my hair was relaxed, but its been years, and I know the results will be different. I’ve seen results from both that look good. Just like the satin pillow case its another item I just have to snag the next time I hit the beauty supply store. I will have to get A LOT because I have a bunch of thick hair. I know plenty of naturals say this, but mine is on another level.

  5. Straightening Brush

    I’m not super enthusiastic about getting one of these. But I am slightly interested. I imagine the results will be similar to the original InStyler. I was never able to just use it on wet, damp, or tangled hair and get a sleek look. I did use it on my hair after it was straightened professionally to do touch ups if my hair got puffy, and I liked those results better than a flat iron. I probably won’t buy this, but if I now someone that has one, maybe I’ll borrow theirs.

  6. Hooded Dryer

    This is a product that a disparately want and need. I am an advocate of putting as little heat on my hair as possibly. But when I want to do a twist, braid, or roller set, I would like the option to do it one morning or evening and be ready to go. Versus having to do it 2 days in advance, or partially blow drying my hair for it to be dried within one evening. Once again the thickness of my hair is out of this world so on night of air drying is never enough no matter how early in the evening I do it. I’ve considered getting a smaller bonnet dryer, but have heard mixed reviews. I may still try it out over a large hooded dryer.

These are some products that I’ll be getting in the near future. Please share your thoughts if you have experience with any of these.

 

Natural Hair and Professionalism

Is natural hair professional? This is a question I’ve seen a lot online. I myself am on the fence about whether or not it is professional. Its more like I’m on the fence about whether or not particular natural styles are professional. Anybody that opposes someone in the workplace because of their choice to not put chemicals in their hair is discriminatory. But when you consider whether or not it is acceptable to where a “wild” afro, that makes things a little trickier. People have their opinions on both sides of this issue.

As I’ve stated many times before, I went natural during my senior year of college, which means I was still very new the the natural hair lifestyle when I was jumping out into the world, going on my first round of interviews, in search of a teaching position. The summer I graduated from college I went on 5 different interviews throughout the state. I straightened my hair for each and got no offers. I accepted a substitute teaching job in my hometown, and during that time went on another interview. For this interview I did not straighten my hair, but instead decided to wear it in a puff. I thought this was a happy medium. I put on a headband to hold down my edges and intended to take it off at the last minute, but I forgot and went into my interview with the elastic band around my head. Once I realized it  I was mortified, but thought surely if I was a good candidate the administrator wouldn’t be so vain as to turn me down because of an accessory. I did not receive a call back from that school. The next summer, one year after I graduated, I was feeling pretty down about myself because I still did not have a full time teaching position. One day I got a call from a principal at a school that I had not initiated any application process and asked if I wanted an interview. It was a little further from home than I wanted but I was desperate so I accepted. The first interview was over the phone, so no pressure there. They liked me so I had to do a interview in person. So the I faced the big dilemma once more, to straighten, or not to straighten. I decided not the straighten my hair. I washed my hair that morning so my curls would be moisturized and defined. I pushed the front of my hair back with a few pins. The interview went well, and the principal called and offered me a position an hour after the interview. I still wonder if it was my choice of hair style that prevented me from getting jobs before. Did I not get the jobs when my hair was straightened because I subconsciously wasn’t being true to myself? Did my accessory malfunction cost a position? Did my afro make me stand out in my final interview? I guess I will never knew the truth, but it caused me to never second guess myself and conform to what others think I should do as far as my hair and principles go. I decide what it acceptable for me, no one else.

I saw a post on Facebook, about a news broadcaster, that was told that as an anchor she couldn’t wear her afro, because it was distracting. Was this point valid? Or was it discrimination? Is it discrimination for some branches of the military to not allow women to wear braids, even though they are specific on men’s hairstyles as well? I do believe there is line between discrimination and appropriateness in different settings. I would not style my hair the same for an interview, just as I wouldn’t wear the same jewelry or attire as would in my everyday casual work dress. In some situations like in corporate business, what people wear is scrutinized constantly. So this wouldn’t be different as it pertains to natural hair. I guess people will have to do what I did. Test the waters, and see what you are comfortable with compromising.  If it is against your principle to conform to “the man” then do you. But if you want to take the easy way, I think the best option is to know your situation and what the norm is and play the cards your dealt with. Natural Hair is becoming way more mainstream, maybe within a few more years this won’t even be a conversation, it will just be the accepted norm.