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.

Defining My Curls

Getting good definition for your natural curls in probably one of the most sought after abilities for those with natural hair. This is especially important if you have any 4 type curl. I would put myself at 4a/ab. My hair in the front is a loser 4a curl pattern, and the hair in the center of my hair is the thickest at 4b. When I was going natural I was praying for a bouncy 3c hair type, but I have learned to love wait I was blessed with. But even if you do have denser, tighter curls, that doesn’t mean you can’t have that defined curl look. There are a couple ways you can achieve this look regardless of your hair type.

Different Sets:

Setting you hair in various ways can help you achieve a defined curl look. This may not be the way your hair “naturally” looks, but that’s the beauty of natural hair, the ability to manipulate the way it looks so easily. You may choose a roller set, braid out, or twist set.

  1. Wash hair using your typical conditioner and shampoo (if any)
  2. Starting with very damp hair, apply your favorite moisturizer.
  3. Separate hair into small sections and apply gel. I use Eco Styler Olive Oil. It will hold the style without making it dry and crunchy.
  4. Put each section into your choice of roller, braid, or twist.
    • If you do a roller set I would choose either a straw or small perm rod set to achieve small, tight curls, rather than the big “Shirley Temple curls”.
    •  With braid and twist out sets, although more time consuming I get the best results with individual twist and braids, rather than cornrows on under twist. Under twist and cornrows will still look good, but for me they tend to be more wavy than curly.
  5.  Use your favorite drying method
    • For a very sleek and shiny look sit under a dryer until hair is completely dry. It takes my hair up over 2 hours to dry under a hooded dryer.
    • You could sit under the hooded dryer for a shorter amount of time like 20-30 minutes, then let it finish by air drying.
    • Or you can let it air dry totally. I usually set my hair the previous day and let it dry 24 hours. This works for me on a lazy weekend and my hair is ready to go the next week.
  6.  Once your hair is dry take out the rollers, braids, or twist. I CANNOT stress how important it is that you wait to take your hair out until it has dried completely. If you don’t you’ll have a puffy mess on your hands once it dries.
    •  When you have out your hair you have choice of separating your hair on leaving it in “clumps”. Sometimes I like the way it looks separated, others I prefer unseparated. For me it’s a catch 22. If I separate my hair, it can turn out fuzzy, if I don’t separate it doesn’t look at full as I’d like and it looks like its been set, not very naturally curly. I typically do which ever I feel up to that day. Choosing between roller, braid, or twist sets are away of achieving a defined curl “look” if your hair doesn’t seem to cooperate on its own.

Wash and Go:

I don’t get to use the wash and go method of defining my curls often. I can only use it during the summer as when I am not working, because my mornings are too early and hectic to attempt this during the school year. This method can be more difficult if you have 4b/4c hair. But there are a few things I can do to make the curls I do have “POP”.

  1. Wash your hair in sections with a VERY good, moisturizing conditioner, saturating each section. When I am attempting to do a wash and go I save it for a co-washing day, not a long shampoo and deep condition day.
  2. Lightly rinse each section out. I never completely rinse conditioner out of my hair.
  3. Ring hair out, so it is not dripping, but DO NOT towel dry.
  4. Apply you favorite oil to wet hair. I use extra virgin coconut, or EVOO.
  5. Apply your favorite curling moisturizer and gel (optional) to sections. I use Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Eco Styler Olive Oil gel.
  6. Blow dry hair. You can set under a hooded dryer for 15-20 minutes or run a hand dryer over your hair for several minutes.
  7. DON’T MESS WITH YOUR HAIR- this is my biggest flaw. Let the curls be or else certain places with turn into a fussy mess.
  8. My wash and go typically only looks really good for one day, but I can come times stretch it out by putting it in a pineapple at night and in the morning spritzing it with a leave in conditioner (water, conditioner, and oil) and reapplying some of the Shea moisture curl enhancer.

These are my techniques for achieving a defined look. What I do may not work for you. Everybody has to experiment to find what products and techniques agree with their hair. When I first went natural and came back to college after winter break I had a twist out. One of my friends asked me, “Why doesn’t your hair look nappy like it did in the pictures?” I took it as a compliment meaning that my twist out made my hair look like defined curly hair. But it did start to make me feel like doing these sets was a cop out, rather than embracing my natural hair texture. I know people who only wear there hair out if it has been set someway because they aren’t confident in their texture. I just see it as another style. Just like I wear different clothing styles, I change my hair style. Its not about not accepting my natural texture, its about getting the look I want at that point in time. I hope everyone can love their natural texture as well as learn different ways to style and show off the versatility of natural hair.

Is colored hair natural?

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I went natural December 16th, 2011. It was the day before my 22nd birthday. I had intended to transition and slowly cut the relaxed hair out, but I got impatient and decided to do the BIG CHOP. I wanted to go natural because it seemed like the healthiest thing for my hair. I was on a quest to make my body the healthiest it could be….from my head to my toes. Before I went natural I had relatively long hair, for a black girl. So my hair dresser was not happy when I was prepared to cut 10 inches of hair off. I was getting my hair done by her while I was transitioning, but maybe she didn’t believe I’d actually do it. But, as you can see, I did. I went back to get a roller set in my hair for Easter that following March or April whenever the heck Easter was that year. On that day she convinced me to get my hair permanently dyed red.

I’m not sure if she had motives other than just wanting to introduce me to a cool new look. Part of me feels like she wanted to keep me as a consistent client, because since going natural I had not been making my regular 6-8 week appointments. I can’t blame her though, its good business to try and keep customers. I thought the red looked really good on me. It was a dark, kind of burgundy red. I probably wouldn’t have liked my short afro as much without that brilliant color. It never dawned on me that I was doing anything out of sorts until one day I saw a Facebook status from a friend that said “how you gonna be natural and dye your hair, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?” This person was also natural, so I began thinking “I’m a natural hair sell out?”

I continued to get my hair dyed red for 2 years. I had always been the type to not judge others, so I was making my own decision for what I wanted for my hair and that was to keep it red. I LOVED the red look, especially after one of my colleagues said it made me look like a superhero ( I’m thinking Jean Grey or Black Widow)! I even got my eyebrows lightened a little so it didn’t look so obvious that they were different colors, although I didn’t go red all the way with them. It wasn’t until after I had my son that I decided not to color my hair anymore. I got my hair dyed for my Superhero Wedding (that I will highlight in another post), but I did not tell my hair dresser that I was pregnant. There is a theory that the chemicals in the dye can seep into your scalp, and then body,
harming the baby. After some research I deduced that it was just a myth, but I didn’t want to risk telling my hair dresser and her not put in my superhero red color. It seems kind of silly that I’d even risk something like that. If there was a question for the baby’s safety I should have just not done it, but that just shows how vain our society is. I could not have brown roots at my wedding. After that I did not dye my hair the entire pregnancy. After I had my son I decided to go completely natural and not add any chemicals at all to my hair. I slowly cut my ends each month and in about a year I cut the rest of the color out of my hair. So now it is my natural brown color.

Does being natural mean that you have NO chemicals in your hair? Or is it just, not having a relaxer? What about people that get texturizers? Its kind of like when people question what it means to be a virgin. I guess it something you have to decide for yourself. Why did you decide to take the journey to become natural? Was is it purely a decision for cosmetics and you just like the look of your curly hair texture? Or,is it part of an all-natural lifestyle? People will always have their opinions about natural hair. Even within the natural hair community there is some judgement. I just try to be comfortable and work what I’ve got and hope that others do the same.