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Natural Hair Movement – All You Need to Know

Photo Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/8165602014/

Educate, situate, participate. What am I getting at? We live in times where many support or condemn based on hearsay, information and sometimes even misinformation. Yet more and more women are laying down the chemicals and perms and boldly embracing their hair in its natural state. They’re doing this with a determination that has stood the test of time, transcending both fad and trend.

Natural Hair is a movement.

The Natural Hair Movement was “born’ in the USA during the 2000s. Our French-speaking readers call it the “mouvement nappy“. It’s about black women and men making a conscious decision to wear their hair in its natural state – kinky, curly or straight.

The Movement was brought into historical focus by Angela Davis, a young human rights activist and member of the Black Panthers. She was the one who made the Afro hairstyle famous during the 1960’s -70s at the height of black-white segregation in the United States. Since then, staunch supporters of natural hair have stood their ground valiantly.

Natural hair often triggers a strong emotional response for or against, depending on who is wearing the hair and moreso who is looking at it.

From challenges of acceptance, to resistance in the armed forces and workplace, stories of interracial conflict continue to openly challenge a woman’s right to wear her hair natural.

Nevertheless, supporters of the National Hair Movement have fought to remain an opposing voice, including countering an often biased perception of what black hair is and isn’t. The perception is often negative.

Thankfully, the tide is turning. More and more black Hollywood stars are embracing and showcasing their beauty and character by sporting natural hairstyles that make a statement.

Not all had politically or racially inspired motives for going natural, but all identify with the sense of pride, purpose, and power that they experienced by reconnecting with their true identity via their hair.

Nicole Ari Parker

Drew inspiration to wear her hair natural after childbirth. She felt a need to embrace her own natural beauty.

Janelle Monae

is one of Hollywood’s leading champions of the Natural Hair Movement. The motivation to go natural was personal, inspired by a strong need to rediscover and reconnect with her true beauty. The result was an about-turn from faked and baked hair, to the authenticity of her own natural hair.

Viola Davis

talks of her epiphany moment during an episode of How to Get Away With Murder.

Removing both wig and makeup symbolized a running leap to a greater appreciation of who she is as a person and the empowerment that comes with knowing who you are and the gift that your flavor of diversity offers the world.

Solange Knowles

is an epitome of the eclectic spirit. She took the bull by the horns and did the big chop in 2009. She has never looked back. It’s called decisiveness – a characteristic trait of the strong black woman.

China McClain

decided enough was enough. Though the radical decision to go natural wasn’t even intentional, China decided that not only is beauty in the eyes of the beholder but that she needed to behold her own natural beauty by acknowledging and embracing it through the way she saw her hair.

China McCain probably didn’t know just how many women she would inspire when she posted a photo of her natural hair while expressing her new love for curls.

Wearing one’s hair natural runs much deeper than just cutting off the perm or throwing away the relaxer. More food for thought is the fact that the sale of relaxers has dropped consistently over the last few years. Many of the companies that once sold them are themselves making the big drop – switching to, promoting and selling products that care for natural hair. These facts highlight how far the Movement has come.

A picture is worth a thousand words. The infographic below captures the timeline of the evolution of natural hair care and paints a clear picture. It helps to better appreciate the role that the Natural Hair Movement has played in helping women regain that sense of identity that we have struggled to take back since the days of slavery, when grooming hair with bacon grease and kerosene was the norm.

Photo source: https://blacknaps.org/2015/02/12/infographic-black-hair-history

The Struggle Continues

It’s naive to suggest that the battle is won, because the acceptance of natural hair is still a sore wound that neither antiseptic nor antibiotic has been able to cure, so far.

Case 1: In 2014 a Rastafarian male student was suspended from school in Louisiana. Why? He refused to cut his dreadlocks because they’re part of his religious beliefs.

Case 2: A former sergeant in the Georgia Army National Guard, Jasmine Jacobs began an online petition to counter Army Regulation 670-1 which banned many hairstyles worn by black women. Why the ban? The sergeant was wearing two-strand twists which went against current regulations.

Case 3: Twelve-year-old Vanessa Van Dyke, a student at a Christian School in Florida was given the ultimatum to either cut her hair or be expelled from school. Why? Her hair was deemed a “distraction” to other students, so, a violation of school policy.

Looking ahead, there is much to be thankful for. One of the best ways to help ensure that this continues, is to encourage people to learn more about what the Natural Hair Movement stands for. In the process, you gain access to tons of resources to help you on your journey to natural hair.
If something in this article has struck a cord, inspired or encouraged you, the next question is where and how to start? Here are some tips, advice, and info:

I’m ready to make the switch to natural, but I’m clueless. Where do I start?

There are two options. Do like Solange Knowles, and do the big chop. This means you cut off all the damaged, relaxed hair ends. What’s left is your natural hair.
Option two is to transition gradually, where you allow your natural hair to grow out on its own.

Know your hair type

Discover the type of hair you were born with. It’s a must.

If you take care of your hair it shows. How do you properly take care of your hair if you don’t know your hair type? Are you a 3A, 3B or even a 4B? Could your hair be breaking because you don’t know how to care for your hair type ?

I like the idea of braids, but how do I know what kind of braids to go for?

The beauty is that there are so many styles to choose from. Here are just a few that you can try out. Keep experimenting until you find the ones that look best on you.

Crochet Braids – very popular in the nineties and now making a comeback.

Goddess Braids – They help protect the hair as it grows.

Faux Locs – the decision to go dread is a bold one. Try it out first with faux locs before you make a final decision.

Bantu Knots – really trending right now; versatile enough for almost every hair type and texture.

TWA Hairstyles – teeny weeny afros (TWAs) – also in vogue right now; one of the go-to hairstyles women opt for after the big chop.

Natural Hair Lingo

It’s easier to understand a topic when you know the lingo. Natural hair is no different:

  • big chop – cutting off one’s chemically straightened or damaged hair and allowing it to grow back in it’s natural texture.
  • curly girl – used for the black woman who chooses to wear her hair in its natural curly or coiled state.
  • bantu knot – a hairstyle in which the hair is twisted and rolled up into small buns
  • Goddess braids – also known as latch hook braids; hair extensions are crocheted to hair with a latch or crochet hook.
  • TWAs – teeny weeny afros – a short natural hairstyle with a maximum hair length of 2 inches.
  • Goddess braids – also called granny braids; large braids done cornrow style.
  • Faux locs – fake or imitation dreadlocks.
  • nappex – nappies who have been labeled extremists
  • transition – the time after your last chemical straightening but before the big chop.

It’s about redefining beauty on your own terms and reflecting it through the telescope of your own identity. The only way to do this to be true to self.

Black Hair Spot is an authoritative resource on everything natural hair. If you’re at crossroads with your hair, be encouraged. Many of us have been there.

Natural hair is here to stay. Whether you choose to transition gradually or big chop swiftly, the essence remains the same.

Take the time to educate yourself on natural hair. Then situate by asking yourself if the Movement is something you identify with strongly enough to make a change. If the answer is yes, then be empowered to participate. Be Bold. Go for it!

CO-WASHING: Putting conditioner first in your natural hair care line-up

Conditioner Only Washing, or co-washing, is meant to give you all the clean without the squeak. All of you clean freaks know what I mean by “the squeak” – that effort we make to cut the grease, or oil factor, in whatever it is we’re trying to get clean.

That may be fine for your dishes, and even your floors, but you need to give your hair a miss when it comes to that. When hair is squeaky clean, you’ve managed to strip away all of your natural oils, leaving your hair depleted and dry.

Part of the no-poo movement, co-washing was suggested to minimize the dry cycle that some shampoos create by eliminating the shampoo phase altogether. Since conditioning has traditionally been viewed as the “loving your hair” phase of hair maintenance, it made sense to apply all of the love and avoid all that dries.

Most often recommended for thirsty-haired curly-cues

If you have thick, dry or coarse curly hair, co-washing may be just what you need to combat what plagues you. Curly hair, whatever size the curl, is naturally dry due to the fact that sebum cannot easily travel through the bends and down the hair shaft. Using conditioner as a cleanser will add the moisture you’ve been missing to your hair care routine.

Fine hair finds its place in the co-wash movement

Whatever your hair type, if thirsty hair is your greatest concern, co-washing may be just what you’re looking for. If you happen to have fine hair, it will require a less heavy application of conditioner and potentially a more thorough rinse.

Fine hair can’t take the weight of heavy conditioners like coarse hair can. Diluting your conditioner with water may also make co-washing fine-hair friendly.

Be sure to read the labels and use the conditioner that is best suited to your hair type. Using the wrong product may give you less than favorable results.

Getting started with co-washing

When you first start co-washing, be prepared for your hair to feel different during wash mode. Due to the nature of conditioner, you’re not going to have the bubbles and suds that you’ve grown accustomed to.

Somehow those suds became a subliminal indicator that your wash cycle was complete when they overtook your tresses. With that missing, you now have to be thorough as you work your fingers through your roots.

Keep in mind that your goal is to remove built up dirt, bacteria and sloughed skin cells. Natural oils are good for you and do not equal dirt, so expect to feel some residue. The more you use this technique, the easier it will be to distinguish between clean and dirty. Here’s what you do:

  • First, you want to thoroughly wet your hair in preparation for the conditioner. You will be using the conditioner like shampoo, so expect to use more than usual.
  • You will want to coat the hair from root to tip and gently massage your scalp to free up any debris.
  • Let it sit on your hair and scalp for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing. Leaving it on for a prolonged period of time is like giving yourself a hair mask. Adjust the time to suit your individual hair needs.
  • Finally, rinse your hair and style as usual. If your hair habit normally includes a leave-in conditioner, you may want to do a light rinse so that you can retain some of the co-wash conditioner.

Be careful of build up

Due to the gentler cleansing agents found in conditioners, there is a distinct possibility that build up may occur with the adoption of this method.

You may be a victim of product pile on if your hair shows signs of the following:

  • a heavy or weighted feeling
  • appears dull or devoid of shine
  • lacks body or fullness
  • is more difficult to style than usual

When you see these signs, it’s time for a clarifying shampoo to rid your hair of the excess.

The pluses and minuses of co-washing natural hair

LIke most things in life, there are positives and negatives. Equally true, what’s good for someone else is not always good for you.

With that in mind, let’s look at the pluses and minuses of co-washing so you know what to expect before you give this a try.

Co-washing Pluses

  • Because conditioner has a more gentle cleansing agent, it will not strip your hair of natural oils and retain more moisture content.
  • Co-washing can make the detangling process easier. With added moisture to your normally dry hair shaft, your hair will become more pliable and thus limit the amount of breakage.
  • This method can encourage more bouncy and voluminous hair.
  • Styling may be easier since it removes that awkward too-clean-to-style phase. It’s often difficult to get your hair to respond the way you want when it’s too clean.

Co-washing Minuses

  • Over-moisturized hair can be prone to breakage. Remember your hair is actually dead once it grows beyond the follicle. If it becomes damaged, there is no regeneration. All you can do is grow it out and replace it with healthier hair. As such, your damaged hair can break with the weight of the product left in or on the shaft.
  • Too much build up can make your hair unresponsive to styling. There is a fine line between that hair that styles like a dream and too dirty hair that continually falls flat.
  • You will need to wash more often because you are no longer using shampoo. For those of you that often experience a time crunch, adding extra wash days into your normal routine may not be ideal.
  • Healthy hair growth requires a clean, unclogged scalp. If you are not diligent in your cleansing, you may negatively affect your hair’s growth cycle.

Co-wash with caution

Co-washing is not for everyone, even if you have moisture-deprived hair. It could be the application of the technique or just the technique itself, but you may discover that co-washing fails to give you the results you crave.

It’s important to listen to your hair and be aware of how it responds to any change in your routine. Finding the right balance in your hair care is key to getting the hair you want.

Let us know your personal experiences with co-washing in the comments below. Share your successes and failures with us.

What is Natural Hair?

Everyone you ask will have a different answer to “what is natural hair?” To some, being natural just means wearing your natural curly hair. To others, it is an elite community and a complete lifestyle change. No matter how you define it, it is undeniable how much love the natural hair movement has been getting lately.

Natural hair may be on trend today, thanks to festivals like Afropunk and Curl Fest and celebrity influencers, but it hasn’t always been. It’s been a long road from being seen as unprofessional and unkempt to picturesque and appreciated. As much as naturals love all of this extra attention, it’s important to know where we come from.

Do you know your natural hair history? #naturalistas #naturalbae #bhs Click To Tweet

History of Natural Hair

First off: the natural hair movement is far from new. Marcus Garvey used natural hair as the main speaking point in his Back to Africa Movement of the 1920s.

Black hair trends of the 1920s were uniformed, sleek, and processed. The goal was to define black culture as unique, but equal to whiteness. It makes sense that black women would look to the popular styles as well. Getting curls and coils straight took a lot of work, but the payoff was smooth and kink-free.

In the 1950s, the perm, otherwise known as “creamy crack,” was introduced to the black community and the rest was history. It wasn’t until the 1970s when political movements inspired more to slowly ease back into traditional African inspired styles.

Although today’s natural hair movement is not specifically rooted in politics, there is no shortage of controversy in the community. There is a clear divide in what is considered good and bad natural hair. You might be wondering, well, what type of natural hair do I have?

The truth is, not all curls slay the same way. Knowing your unique curl pattern can help make product decisions and hair styles a lot easier, but there is no such thing as bad natural hair.

Do you think all natural hair is good hair? #allhairisgoodhair #bhs Click To Tweet

What Happens If You Never Put Products in Natural Hair?

Product snobs are real out here! Does going natural mean you must not use any products in your hair? It depends on what you mean by “products.” There are large scale brands, like Shea Moisture, that became popular for marketing toward black hair, but does that mean they actually work?

No matter what curl pattern you have, all natural hair needs moisture. Whether you take the “au naturale” route and make your own hair care products (DIY is so hot right now), or you buy trusted brands, the key to healthy natural hair is dryness prevention. Buying crèmes, pomeades, and oils won’t solidify your seat at the natural curly hair table any more than anyone else. The key is to explore, expand, and empower!

Do you know a real life product snob? What products are a must for natural hair? #SheaMoisture #NaturalHairProducts #bhs Click To Tweet

What’s the deal about texture?

A lot of people are obsessed with texture in the natural hair community. So much so, some go through great lengths wondering if they can change or manipulate texture. Hate to burst the bubble, but unless your body has gone through some sort of hormonal change like pregnancy or puberty, it is not likely your hair texture has changed. Sometimes the addition of a new product into your normal hair care regime, or a different protective style can give the appearance of a new curl pattern or texture.

The bottom line is that it shouldn’t matter! As long as you and your hair are happy, fitting into a curl pattern or texture is secondary. Sometimes all that glitters isn’t gold! Every curly girl has her own set of unique challenges and rewards that makes their natural hair special and just for them.

What’s your curl pattern? When did you first find out? #bhs Click To Tweet

What does natural hair mean to you?

Former Governor General, Michaelle Jean

Former Governor General, Michaëlle Jean hair style review by Black Hair Spot

(Photo Source: http://www.uottawa.ca/about/governance/chancellor)

When women make the decision to go natural it almost always begins with the overwhelming decision to make “the big chop”. Dependent on how short someone decides to cut their hair during this process, it’s the transitioning stage that women find most difficult to deal with. You know, when your hair is so short and curly that it feels almost impossible to do anything exciting with it.

Former Governor General, Michaëlle Jean’s short curls look anything but awkward. As a prominent Canadian political figure, Michaëlle has sported her natural hair on numerous occasions and has proven that natural hair does not have to hinder your professional success. With some quality curling products and a little styling, any transitioning lady rock this cute, stylish, and yes, professional look!

Portia Clark

Portia Clark – TV Personality

Portia Clark is a mother, writer, and wife. She is a clever radio personality for CBC, the oldest broadcasting network in the nation, and a household name. Portia aptly divides her attention between her passion for public broadcasting and her deep love for her children.

Portia’s beautiful children are 4 and 6. “They are the centre of my life,” she says. Time spent styling her own hair has been displaced to taking care of her children’s hair. Portia is of Barbadian and Nordic heritage, and her husband is an English Caucasian man. They weren’t sure how their children’s hair would end up looking. “We thought our son could be anywhere from being a redhead to having an afro–to having a red afro,” Portia admits with a laugh. Her son was born with soft ringlets that demand little to no maintenance. Portia says she finger detangles her son’s hair and has it cut once a year. Ridiculously easy. Her daughter’s hair is another story.

Portia’s daughter’s hair is completely different from her son’s. “Hers is a lot closer to my hair,” Portia explains, “she has a few different hair types and does not enjoy having her hair played or dealt with.” Portia is experiencing a bit of what her mother went through when her mother was trying to style Portia’s hair. Portia was adopted into a Caucasian family and her mother had no idea how to style or take care of her hair. “My hair would always look unkempt because I didn’t want her to touch it.”

Now that she has experienced both sides of the situation Portia is much more sympathetic to her daughter’s squeals of pain and contempt for the comb. “It’s not worth either of our time for me to be chasing after her about her hair,” says Portia. So she usually leaves it. Once a month Portia will sit her little girl in the bathtub, douse her head in conditioner, and take time to work through the knots.

Black Hair and TV Broadcasting

For 7 years Portia hosted the CBC supper hour news with natural hair. That is rare occurrence now – never mind 10 years ago. “I have received different advice from consultants throughout the years on how I should or shouldn’t wear my hair on TV,” says Portia. They asked her to cut it, sleeken it, and tame it so that she would be less of a distraction. She has now defined what “presentable” and “professional” means for herself.

Portia says she’s excited about Black Hair Spot because it is a resource she didn’t have access to when she was developing her hair identity. “It took time for me to figure out how to do my hair in a way that matches my identity,” says Portia.

Jen Holmes

Jen Holmes – On Natural Hair and Standing Out

Hers is a story that many women can relate to, but few have had the courage to step out of. Jen has a confident voice, contagious laugh and a distinctive head of hair thanks to her Jamaican and English/ Scottish heritage.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Jen is a makeup artist by profession. She’s used to making people look beautiful, but she didn’t always realise the beauty in her natural hair. She stands out, but it hasn’t always been something she embraced.

At the tender age of eight, Jen went up to her mum and asked her to chemically relax her hair. Her mother didn’t put up a fight- the hair tugging and time spent braiding her hair every couple of nights was a difficult process for the both of them.

“I wanted to have straight hair, just like my friends… [Curly hair] was so time consuming and hard and I didn’t want to face every night of my mum pulling on my hair.”

So she took the route of that most girls with curly hair go–she relaxed her hair.

The chemical relaxer did what it was designed to do– it suppressed the spunk and free expression of natural hair, leaving behind societal expectations in the form of straight hair.

Then there is the price that we pay for conforming. With her straight hair, Jen was left with scalp burns and unhealthy hair.

“It was super brutal. It’s ridiculous what you’re putting on your head. But it’s that creamy crack–you just can’t quit it.”

Natural Hair Transitioning

Eventually, Jen decided to stop chemically straightening her hair and she began her natural hair transitioning. Chris Rock’s film “Good Hair” as well as seeing more and more women, especially Solange Knowles embracing their natural curls, helped her with her process.

Her transition entailed her not using heat on her hair, and leaving it wavy. This helped make the grow-out easier and less noticeable. YouTube tutorials were also extremely helpful with styling and helping her create a new routine.

People’s Reaction

The change has helped her embrace her individuality, and the attention that comes with it. People’s reaction has generally been positive, but she’s experienced everything from people trying to touch her mane to people asking if her hair is a wig.

“Lots of people will come up and touch and grab my hair. It’s rude and impolite and I don’t like it. Some people will come up to me and ask, which is nice, but I decline.”

She believes that this is due to a lack of awareness, and the only way that this can be changed is by education and more women taking the plunge.

“Putting the message online so people can find it even if they weren’t looking. Simply talking to them when people ask questions. I don’t mind talking and answering questions about it. I think that the more I start doing it I think is going to be the biggest thing… I hope that in the future more women will be natural and people will take notice and be more aware and knowledgeable”

Her favourite products are olive oil and coconut oil. She’s a firm believer in natural products, and she uses Aubrey Organics Shampoo and Conditioner. She does a twist out to define her curl pattern, and uses coconut oil for added moisture in the process.

Her advice to other women is not to let their children go through the same experience that she did

“Don’t ever relax your hair. If I could speak to my younger self, I would tell myself not to. It’s horrible and extremely damaging for your hair, and honestly at this point you would love your hair. I regret relaxing my hair all those years. Appreciate your hair. Love your hair.”

Why Finger Detangle Natural Hair?

When I was first told that finger detangling can be the healthiest and most organic way to get through the knots in my coil-prone and thick head of hair I was skeptical. I could not let go of the love/hate relationship with my ruthless hairbrush that got me through so many hard times–I mean my right arm is unnaturally stronger than my left kind of hard times. After some light research and from personal experience here are some of my thoughts on finger detangling.

On the Topic of Time:

Every new hair or skin regimen is going to have some positives and negatives. There is always the grief and discomfort that comes with trying something new and unfamiliar but then, if we are lucky, there are often success stories that come from these unfamiliar experiences.

When I first started using my fingers to break apart the knots and locks from my hair the frustrating part was the amount of time and meticulous effort needed to execute the task successfully. As much as you’d like to believe you might be able to catch up on some of your shows during this time, it just isn’t so in the starting stages of finger detangling.

After finger detangling for about a year now my hands have become accustomed to feeling out the knots and pulling them apart. Although you might be able to detangle your hair without a mirror fairly quickly, detangling safely still requires a lot of concentration on your hair and hands to be done properly. The reason I caution you with this is because even though the hand is a much gentler tool than the comb or brush to our curls, breakage is still possible. Reason being we get impatient and inconsistent with knots, and sometimes it’s just easier to tear them right out instead of coaxing them to come apart. Multitasking can sometimes distract from the ability to nurture these kinks.

My biggest tip to overcoming the time is playing some good music. Preferably, some oldies you just can’t get tired of so your mind isn’t too focused on the new beat/lyrics but just something to jam to while your hair occupies you. Also, although it might be tedious to sit, or stand in front of a mirror, it helps. When you can see yourself detangling it not only makes the job faster and more efficient but the aesthetic of the act feels the same as watching a screen might. Watching the task get done is a lot more gratifying and does not feel as time consuming. But, of course, the best part will always be the end. Even after a year of practicing finger detangling running my fingers through it from roots to ends, and yet still feeling that the coils and curls intact, is incredibly satisfying.

More Curly Less Puffy:

Finger detangling gives more depth and thickness to the hair and you get a lot more curl definition. Because my curl pattern is a mix of 3B, and 3C hair there is a large difference in texture and size when I use my fingers to pull apart knots than when I use a brush. The reason being that the hair can retain more moisture when the curls that do not have knots are saved from being thrown under the bristles of the brush and separated.

Brushing your hair allows oxygen to get in between your hair follicles and causes frizz. Also finger detangling needs a more careful application of oils or lotion (depending on what you prefer) in order to gently pull apart the tangles. This added and careful application of moisturizing agents is both healthier for the scalp and ends. Brushes and combs are not too forgiving in terms of bend or softness. What this does is scratch at your very vulnerable scalp, which can lead to dandruff and split ends. This adds more to the puff aspect of your hair than the curl.

With regards to dandruff; both the curlier and thicker your hair is the lack of natural oils that your head of hair has available. Not only do we need the extra application of moisturizer but also we owe it to our scalp not to be scratching and tearing at it with the teeth of a comb or brush. Since practicing finger detangling I’ve completely eradicated the issue of dandruff, even after testing with a comb to make sure I don’t miss any knots, no more flakes show up in my hair or on my comb.

In conclusion, for most mixed hair types, curl definition makes a huge difference in the way you’d like to style or wear your hair. Apply oil to your hair while finger detangling to make the process less painful.

More Manageable:

I’ve noticed that after spending so much focused time with my hands in my hair, the rest of the week my hair is a lot more manageable. My hair is a lot more lenient to be styled. It could be that my hair is used to the feeling of being pushed and prodded by my hands or that my hands have become more attuned to the nature of my hair and the ways that it will and will not yield to styles. Either way, the styling process is so much easier without the use of the middleman brush that disconnects you and your hair, from understanding what can and can’t happen.

It could also be the added precision to the process of moisturizing and well oiling my hair and scalp that has made the hair a lot stronger. All in all there isn’t a single step in the process of finger detangling that would not be beneficial to the management and strength of curlier hair. If you’re unfamiliar with the steps of finger detangling you can find a step-by-step run down in the article “Detangle Natural Hair” by Reakash!

One of the most beneficial outcomes of finger detangling has been connecting with my hair a lot more intimately than is possible with the use of a brush. Running my fingers through my hair in the morning allows me to pin point the exact spots that are a little dry and maybe others that aren’t. Sectioning my hair off before a wash and using oil to carefully sift through the lot of it has made me more aware of the type of hair I have and where. If time or strength is an issue and finger detangling on the regular or, god forbid, ridding yourself of combs and brushes does not sound appealing, I would like to ask you to at least attempt it and once you have, attempt it again. I say that because your second time will be more successful than your first – of that I’m certain.

The reason I am so keen on every black woman attempting finger detangling is because I can say with confidence that the fine toothed comb and brush are not tools that were designed for our hair types. Also so that every woman can experience the feeling of getting know your hair without the use of man-made tools that can often distract us from our roots. Pun intended.

The fine toothed comb and brush are not tools that were designed for our natural hair types #bhs Click To Tweet

I would love to hear about some success and/or failure “First Time” tales on the experience of finger detangling. Whether it was done to you or you attempted it for the first time on your own, share below!

 

Elements of any good weave: Hair Weave Types

With my grade nine grad around the corner, I remember begging my mother for long lush locks. My first weave was long, thick and strawberry blonde. I absolutely loved it, back then anyways. I look at the pictures of that day now and all I think is I wish I knew then what I now know about hair. At the time my knowledge about the vast variety of hair was minimal, maybe non-existent.

When I walked into Images and Shades for the first time I was slightly overwhelmed by all the hair options in front of me. I remember the teller asking me what I was looking for. My reply was long hair, blonde in colour. She continued with her questions: how many inches long are you looking for? Would you rather #22, #24, #27…? I was completely confused. She spent some time explaining the various hair lengths and guiding me through a hair colour chart. She then explained what I now believe to be the most important aspect of any good weave, the type of hair. By type I’m referring to synthetic, human or remy hair. The reality of how clueless I was set it. She quickly pointed out and explained the differences between synthetic and human hair. I opted for the synthetic only because I was on a strict budget and I wasn’t planning on doing much to my weave as far as styling was concerned. Although my weave didn’t turn out badly, it could have been better by simply improving the quality of hair.

Ladies if you’re looking to avoid a bad weave situation, you need to have a good idea of what you want to do with your weave where styling and maintenance are concerned. How good your weave looks is absolutely determined by the quality of the hair installed. As I mentioned earlier there are three basic types of hair, synthetic, human and remy. But what exactly is the difference between them? That’s what I aim to explain with this next part.

Here’s a brief description of each type and what I suggest would work best for certain looks/styles. This also applies to wigs; the hair used to make wigs is the same, they’re just an alternative installation method.

Synthetic Hair

Synthetic hair is a great choice if you’re looking for a new look to last you a short time. Synthetic hair costs anywhere between $15.00- $90.00 depending on the brand and style. Synthetic hair is the most affordable type of hair on the market — ideal for anyone who wants a change without having to break the bank. This type of hair is usually already styled at the time of purchase which eliminates the styling process, saving you money as well as time.

With that said, although synthetic hair is convenient and cost effective, it does have its limits when it comes to being versatile. Synthetic hair is made to look like human hair constructed from thin manufactured hair fibers; therefore, it is not heat resistant to the extent that human hair is. You will not have the ability to curl or straighten this type of hair nor will you be able to dye the hair. There is synthetic hair available that you can apply very minimal heat to but you still won’t get the styling results that you would with other hair types. I personally wouldn’t apply any heat to synthetic hair because of the fear I would have of burning or damaging it.

If you’re considering getting a weave for first time synthetic might be the way to go. You can figure out what you like and decide if you even like having a weave installed, before you fork out the cash for hair of a higher quality.

Human Hair

100% human hair has an elevated natural appearance to it in comparison to synthetic hair. Human hair is great because it replicates natural hair almost perfectly and can last you a few months (approx 6-8 months) with multiple installs, depending on how well you care for it. It will also offer you the versatility that synthetic hair lacks. Human hair gives you the free range to style your weave exactly the way you want. Whether it’s curled or straightened it will withstand the heat applied to it and just like natural hair you have the ability to dye it if you choose to.

However, like anything else, human hair does have its pitfalls. It is a bit more expensive than synthetic hair, running anywhere from approx $50.00-$150.00, again depending on the brand and length. But remember that you are getting higher quality hair. Human hair also has a tendency to tangle and shed; this is because the cuticles are not all facing the same way. Also, human hair is often put through some processing to improve its appearance.

Remy Hair

The hair of all hair types, remy is nothing less than amazing! Sharing similar qualities to that of human hair, remy hair is versatile and natural and undergoes minimal processing. If cared for properly remy hair will maintain its natural movement and appearance from 6 months to over a year. It is also heat resident so applying various styles and dyes will not be an issue. Remy hair comes in various styles such as straight, curly and wavy; it will also return to its natural state after having been styled and washed. You will notice that with remy hair there is virtually no tangling or shedding because the cuticles are kept intact and all face the same direction. When it comes to blending your natural hair, this process is made simpler with remy hair because there are various textures you can purchase. I won’t go into too much detail about them individually but this is where Indian, Brazilian, Malaysian and Chinese remy hair would come into play. That’s another topic for another article.

Some of you may be wondering what the difference is between remy and virgin hair is. Although they are almost identical the biggest difference is that virgin hair is completely 100% natural and unprocessed. Virgin hair has not been processed or dyed and is only available in its natural colour. Virgin hair is always remy hair; however, remy hair may not always be virgin hair.

Source: http://brownsugarbeauti.com/beauti-101-the-difference-between-remy-and-virgin-hair-extensions

So what’s the down fall to remy hair? All this hair goodness comes with a hefty price. Remy can start from about $150.00 per bundle to over $500.00 or more. Again this is dependent on length, brand and if its virgin hair or virgin remy hair. At times, especially if you’ve never purchased hair in the past, the task of choosing the right type of hair may seem challenging. I look at it similar to a trial and error method. It’s about progression; start with the simple and cheapest. Allow yourself time to familiarize yourself with what works and doesn’t work for you and your hair.

Source: http://remigoddesshairextensions.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=4

 

Source: http://www.hairtiquebymimi.com/product/virgin-brazilian-straight/

 

The Knot-Proof Way to Detangle Natural Hair and Retain Length

I’m a bit of a hippy. One of the reasons I love natural hair so much is because to me, natural hair feels closer to just being human. I like to embrace my humanness in ways that sometimes make people uncomfortable. My edges are never “laid.” I usually don’t shave my legs or wear make-up because—why deny my beautiful humanness?

For the same reason, I never used to detangle my hair. What’s wrong with a few knots here and there? Well, if you want to retain length there is a whole lot wrong with it. Our hair regularly sheds. If we leave the dead hair in with the living the dead hair tangles around itself and adjacent hairs and causes matting, knots, and breakage.

Proper detangling requires patience. If you get in there with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb and start hacking away you will damage your cuticles and create split ends.

Lets get started!

  1. When I detangle I start by braiding or twisting my hair into manageable sections. This time I was feeling especially patient and separated my hair into nine sections. Depending on how thick/long your hair is you can separate into more or less sections.

    I usually only detangle my hair in the shower during my weekly hair wash. I try not to manipulate my hair when it is dry because I find I lose more hair that way. For this how-to I will skip over the washing process and focus on my detangling method.
  2. Undo your first section. Get it wet with either a spray bottle or in the shower. Put conditioner in your hair from base to tip. I use the Saje organic conditioner—find a store near you here. Cover your strands in conditioner. This nourishes your hair and gives it slip to encourage the loosening of knots.
  3. Use your fingers like a comb to detangle hair from root to tip. Yep, that’s right—All I use to detangle are my fingers. I used to swear by the wide-toothed comb, but my stylist made me promise to never put a comb to my head again.Even wide-tooth combs cause excess breakage for my hair and stunt growth because the wide-tooth comb can’t feel my knots. Only I can. Detangling tools are not connected to a brain and therefore do not know when to let up and try separating in a different way. We have not yet invented a tool that can adjust the amount of pull depending on the strand of hair. But my fingers can, and they work, so I use them.
    Start separating your hair and GENTLY remove all the knots. Be sure to wash off shed hair from your fingers as you go. This is to ensure you are not putting the shed hair back into your living hair to create tangles and breakage.Continue combing fingers through your hair until there are no knots and your fingers come out clean (without shed hairs) when you run your fingers through your hair.
  4. To add more slip, I will often spread some of my oil mixture on my hair to make detangling that much easier. In my oil mixture I put
    • Almond Oil (Reduces inflammation of hair follicles)
    • Olive Oil (For moisture)
    • Avocado Oil (Improves blood flow in scalp to promote growth)
    • Vitamin E (Antioxidant)
    • Jojoba Oil (Coats and protects hair)
    • Castor Oil (For nourishment)
  5. Braid/twist your hair back up so that it cannot knot again.
  6. Start the process from the beginning with your second section.
  7. When you have finished detangling and retwisting/rebraiding each of your sections, feel free to wash outI’ve said it once and I will continue to say it: every person’s hair is different. This is my favourite way to detangle my hair. It doesn’t hurt and I find I lose the least hair this way. HOWEVER if this method is not giving you good results and you find that you’re losing even more hair, stop doing it this way and try something else.

Do you detangle your hair when it’s wet or dry? Do you use any tools other than your fingers?

 

Natural Hair Essentials

One thing that I have learnt with trying to take care of my natural hair is that without my weapons of choice, I would be fighting a losing battle. I get asked a lot about my routine- most people think that it’s extremely difficult maintaining my hair. The truth is, its not too bad!

My Hair Routine Exists in 5 Steps:

Finger Detangling

In my experience, it’s always best to detangle my hair when dry. It causes so much less breakage, and saves me from premature split ends. Finger detangling is always the best-parting my hair in smaller sections and dealing with knots individually has really helped me with hair growth and strength. However, finger detangling is not always possible as it is time consuming and tedious.

On regular days, I try to detangle my hair when dry using a wide-toothed comb, but most days I wet my hair in the shower with lots of conditioner, part and then comb through. I’ve experimented with lots of products, but what I find provides me with the most slip (which is very necessary!) is DevaCurl One Condition and your regular ol’ Dove Daily Moisture Conditioner.

Washing my Hair

I know, I know- you’re supposed to shampoo first! My hair can be exceptionally dry – years of straightening it has stripped the moisture out of it. Shampooing my hair after detangling makes the cleaning process a lot easier. I don’t like to use very harsh shampoos, as they tend to suck my hair of all its natural oils and that’s a serious no-no!

I use DevaCurl’s Low-Poo Shampoo. It cleans my hair, and the added Rosemary and Chamomile leaves my hair feeling fresh and wholesome. I usually coat my ends with some coconut oil before shampooing to prevent them from drying out. No-poo and Low-Poo shampoo barely has any lather, so the trick is to scrub your scalp real good, rinse out, and repeat until you feel your hair is clean. Once I’ve shampooed, I go ahead and re-condition and give a quick comb through, leaving the conditioner in my hair. This helps battle frizz and dryness.

Wet hair? Dry with a Cotton T-Shirt

It’s always best to air dry your hair, but I have found that wrapping my hair in an old cotton T-Shirt has really helped with battling frizz. Air drying hair is great for adding extra volume and unruliness, but that’s not always feasible for me (especially in the wintertime!).

When I step out of the shower, I never let a towel touch my hair – towel fibers are rough and harsh, and cause unnecessary frizz. I instantly wrap my hair in the T-Shirt and go about getting dressed. This helps absorb all the excess water from my hair, and stops me from leaving a wet trail in my wake. Cotton T-Shirts absorb water almost as fast as towels do, and in just 10-15 minutes, my hair is ready to style.

Moisturizing my Hair

Coconut oil is my go to when it comes to moisturizing my hair – I’ve tried and tested lots of different products, but I keep coming back to my trusted sidekick. I normally apply a coin-sized scoop of coconut oil in my palm (you would need more or less depending on the texture and length of your hair). I then run my palms through my hair, concentrating on my ends and center, as that’s the driest part of my hair. This helps keep my hair from drying out and matting. I do this every day until I’m due for my next wash.

Deep Conditioning Treatment

The secrets out-it’s all about conditioning. I try to deep condition my hair once every 3 months, or whenever the weather changes (this tends to leave my hair exceptionally dry). I use DevaCurl Heaven in Hair deep conditioner, which is specially designed for colour treated and relaxed hair. When I have extra time, I like to do a deep conditioning treatment, mixing egg and coconut oil, applying that to my hair and leaving it in for about an hour, then thoroughly shampooing it out. This protein mask helps ease breakage and leaves my hair shiny, light and soft.

The secrets out-it’s all about conditioning. I try to deep condition my hair once every 3 months, or whenever the weather changes (this tends to leave my hair exceptionally dry).

Tackling Washday: 8 Essential Tips for Washing Black Hair

Source: juicysistas.tumblr.com “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” -Elizabeth Barrett Browning

For all the curly-haired ladies out there, I’m sure some of you can relate to this quote on some level when it comes to the relationship you have with your hair. A good shampoo and conditioner seemed sufficient at one point: slap those onto wet hair, rinse out, and go to town, but the more time I spent caring for my hair I realized that wasn’t enough.

Often times we dedicate a whole day to the cleansing ritual of our hair. While your routine may be similar to another person’s wash routine your routine should not be identical to anyone else’s, because your hair is not identical to anyone else’s.

If you have a head full of natural hair like mine, washday can be intimidating. When reintroduced to water, tangles and knots can turn a day meant to be about pampering to one of frustration.

There are a few things to keep in mind when washing your hair:

  1. When we wash our hair we want it to be clean, but not dry. Shampooing your hair can strip it of moisture and leave you with dry hair. Avoid shampoos that contain salt, propylene glycol, and parabens.
  2. Prepare your hair for the wash. Section your hair off into four or more parts and apply your pre-poo. A “pre-poo” is an oil treatment added to hair before shampooing or conditioning. In most cases doing this before exposing your hair to potentially harsh shampoos can help provide your hair with a little extra moisture. Depending on how often you wash your hair this step may not always be necessary, but because I generally wash my hair once every two weeks I opt to do it every time.
    To do this I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil, or something I’ve mixed up; it’s generally pretty cheap and does the trick. Here are a few of the different treatments I’ve found online that can be used: pre-poo recipes.
  3. After applying the treatment to damp hair I cover it with a plastic grocery bag or cap and leave the treatment in my hair for at least thirty minutes.
  4. Once you’ve applied your oil treatment of choice, start detangling your hair in the sections that you’ve created. Doing this should make managing your hair at least a little bit easier after the wash.
  5. Depending on what I’ve used as a pre-poo treatment, I’ll wash it out of my hair first with water if it’s of a heavier consistency, but if it’s a oil, I shampoo normally.
  6. Shampoo your hair. Based on how long and thick your hair is you’ll need a different amount of shampoo to work through your hair. I generally use a very small amount of shampoo to get my hair clean. When shampooing your hair work it into the sections that you made by loosening the braid or twist one at a time; focusing on that particular section and re-twisting it back up before moving on to the next.
    As you do this make sure you work on massaging the shampoo on your scalp to ensure that it becomes free of product buildup. Work the shampoo through the hair and try to elongate the strands rather than rubbing them to the scalp. This prevents tangles.
  7. To condition your hair continue using the same method. Be generous with the amount of conditioner you use, elongate the hair, work in sections, and rinse.
  8. When drying your hair squeeze out as much of the water as you can before towel drying; as much as possible, avoid rubbing your hair with your towel (try hair plopping!) — especially if you’ve chosen not to braid or twist your hair in sections. This will help to prevent tangles.

I know a lot of naturals prefer to use sulfate-free shampoos, but to date I have not tried using any of these products. However, because I do use shampoos that contain sulfates I only wash my hair with shampoo once every two weeks. If I choose to wash my hair between my scheduled washdays I usually co-wash it, which is a method of cleansing the hair with conditioner.

What does your hair washing regime look like?

How To Avoid A Ratchet Weave

Have you ever wondered how some women keep their weave looking fresh for months? For those of you who are looking for weave advice, this one’s for you.

The Basics

The future of weaves start at the roots.

  1. To prevent breakage, do not allow your stylist to braid your hair too tightly. However, ensure that your hair is secure. If your braids are loose in the beginning, when you are styling, the tug of the weft and thread will loosen the braid further and your track is bound to look ratch and no one wants the tumbleweave to be theirs.
  2. A reliable way to make sure your hair is secure is to use a weave net to cover your tracks before attaching your wefts. A net protects your hair from the damage it may undergo as a result of styling. It is a permeable barrier between your hair and the plastic on the weft. It also affords you the flexibility of laying an extra track between your cornrows
  3. When sewing in your weave, make sure a knot is tied at the end of your thread. That way, there is less chance your weave will slacken. Do not purchase cotton thread to sew in weave. Cotton threads break easier and absorb some of the moisture your hair needs. Instead, use silk or polyester thread when installing your hair. Silk thread is best as it is strong and does not absorb moisture.
  4. To prevent shedding, avoid cutting the weft between tracks because when the weft is broken, the attached hair will slip out easier.

The weft of your weave is the point in which the seam of the material your hair has been sown on to meets the hair. It is where a stylist sews through when installing weave and where chips are attached because it is the most sturdy part of extensions.

Weave Maintenance

The most important tip in maintaining weave, whether synthetic or human is to reduce washing.

Newly purchased hair is coated with silicone and enriched with protein. Washing, especially with shampoo, strips hair of the manufactured processing, and even products containing silicone can never duplicate the balance of unwashed hair. When manipulating hair, it becomes dry and does not behave the same as natural hair when conditioned by bodily oils.

Therefore, as the silicone coating wears off and hair becomes dull, light oils should be used to add nutrients and life to raggedy hair. Argan, Keratin and Mango oils condition weave without adding weight to the hair while adding slip to reduce tangles. Water does not condition or add moisture to weave, it actually increases the possibility of knots and removes the silicone coating.

Do not be afraid to admit to yourself when your weave is ratchet beyond repair and needs a cut or is getting old. Weaves do not last forever as hair is considered dead as soon as it is removed from the scalp. After a month of consistent care, weaves will lose their shine and it is your choice to remove dry ends or discard the hair.

Weave Washing

Weaves should not need to be washed more than once every two weeks. However, depending on hair care, hair quality and environmental conditions, your hair might require more regular washes. When washing weaves, never use hot water, never blow dry and never immerse in water. If your hair is not very dirty, refrain from using shampoo and always detangle from root to tip.

Fill a spray bottle with a third of shampoo/conditioner and two thirds of cold water, shake and spray detangled hair until it is dripping wet. Remove excess conditioner with a wide tooth comb or finger detangle and spray hair again with cold water until the runoff is clear. Do not flip hair. Instead, spray in sections to ensure all your hair has been cleansed. Allow hair to air dry, add oil to seal in moisture while hair is damp and complete air drying process. Wrapping hair overnight and covering with a satin cap aids in maintaining moisture and helps to protect your hair from manipulation while you sleep.

These are a few tips on how to make sure your weave does not get to the ‘bruk up’ stage. If you follow these, it is less likely that you will find tumble weave anywhere other than in your bathroom and hopefully not in your man’s (or woman’s) hands. Cheers!

The future of your weaves start at the roots. #bhs #blackhairtip Click To Tweet

My Top 5 Natural Hair Moisturizers

Water!

And that’s just it folks. Sometimes all that those frizzy or crunchy bits need is a little spritz of the sustenance of life. Though it doesn’t necessarily provide a long lasting frizz control solution it works wonders with already pre-moisturized or oiled hair. The water re-vamps the oils already applied and voila you’ve got day-after-a-shower curls without having to re-apply any oils or products. I don’t suggest re-applying oils to crunchy or dry hair anyways because oils primarily should be used after applying water or other moisturizers. Then you get the stringy look going on and it’s no good for anyone involved.

Coconut Oil

If you don’t mind the very thick smell of coconut this is probably the most lasting oil I use in my hair. From my experience coconut oil keeps my hair well oiled for as long as two or three days after initial application. That being said it also depends on what state your hair is in when applying the oil.

My favourite way to apply it is right after a shower with my hair still quite drenched. I usually work it through my hair and then towel dry it until it’s damp enough to let it air dry. I usually will apply a slightly better smelling serum or Argan oil blend to mask the coconut smell. Because coconut oil is a bit of thicker consistency I would suggest working it into your hair with water or when the hair is damp just to dilute the viscous nature of it. Putting the thick oil into dry hair will not give you the hold or desired curls that you want in most cases.

Oil is a great sealant for your scalp but it is much harder to work in when the hair is a few days away from a wash. Now, if you are a few days from a wash and your hair is feeling like dreadlocks and all you have is some coconut oil, just use a spray bottle of water and wet your hair as much as possible without it dripping. Work the water through your hair first and then apply the coconut for hold. From my experience this has been a great fix for when I’m going out and don’t have the time to shower.

Olive Oil

Now if you don’t mind the smell of olive oil around you all the time, I’m going to suggest you get them nostrils checked ASAP. Smell aside, this is another one of my favourite oils to drench my head with for desired smoothness. The only way I have been able to apply olive oil is before a shower. I will usually lightly apply some on my hands and then finger detangle the day’s knots out of my hair, once the hair is finger combed I will literally douse my head in the stuff. Having it drip down your forehead/neck is uncomfortable at first but then you just pick up some toast and use the excess …. oh god, kidding.

If the dripping annoys you I’d suggest covering your head with a plastic cap while you let the oil set. The idea being that you let the olive oil moisturize your hair for about a half hour before a shower. The smoothness afterward is worth the discomfort. TRUST.

Avocado/Avocado Oil

The great thing about avocado oil is that it has a very very faint smell and it’s just as light as olive oil. Applying it to dry hair is always great but I would suggest keeping a small bottle on your person when you go out because the lightness and fluidity of it does not have a terribly long lasting life depending on the dryness of your hair.

I like using avocado oil as a reinforcement oil, just to keep frizz under control when out and about for a day. The downside to avocado oil is that it isn’t easy to get your hands on it in places like Edmonton. The only place to date that I have found some has surprisingly been Costco (so if any of y’all know where else I can get some, comment below).

Avocados themselves work as amazing pre-shower hair masks! If you’re not tempted to eat the mushy green concoction I would suggest adding things like honey to the mixture and leaving it to sit in your hair for at least a half hour prior to a shower. The smoothness afterwards rivals the olive oil treatment.

Serums

Now, as much as this is the Top 5 Hair Moisturizers for Natural Hair sometimes I do use a not-so natural hair serum and it works wonders. I will either use a oil blend serum you can pick up in the hair section of any ol’ pharamacy or drug store or one of the magical hair serums from the Face Shop.

The Face Shop is a Korean beauty store that sells mostly face and skin products but it has a very small collection of hair care products and both serums they sell work wonders on my right-after-a-shower-air-dry-curls.

One of the serums is by a brand called Essence and States it is for more damaged hair, the other is by the Face Shop brand and both “smooth’s and coats” the hair. Personally both serums have worked out remarkably similar for me so I couldn’t suggest one or the other. The consistency of these serums is slightly more viscous than a runny oil don’t let this fool you!

This stuff does get dry pretty quick but I would not suggest applying more once this happens, just spritz or run some water on your hands and through your hair to re-activate the serum. This stuff can go from moisturizing to string-inducing very quickly!

The Accidental yet Unapologetic Politicized Crown

“What I have learned for myself is that I don’t have to be anybody else; and that myself is good enough; and that when I am being true to that self, then I can avail myself to extraordinary things” – Lupita Nyong’o

Back in 2009, with my three high school friends, I started an organization that led to an annual exhibit called AfroChic celebrating black beauty manifested through fashion, art, hair, music, and businesses in a safe community space. AfroChic has since gone on to become what could be considered a staple in Toronto culture. Our mandate has been to provide a positive representation of the black community and culture. Our goals have helped us to foster relationships with a myriad of local based organizations and even global corporations with a similar mission.

Our emphasis on highlighting “natural hair” throughout the exhibit during the fashion show, artwork and overall promotional aesthetic has led many to deem AfroChic as a “natural hair art show”, a categorization we have not only embraced but have also used in our communications marketing strategy. We have created a brand that has thrived off of providing an outlet for women of color to see images of women of color in their natural hair state in a chic and glamorous light. We have worked with women in beauty industries and put them at the forefront of our campaigns to show that their beauty, their gifts, their light are valuable and deserve recognition in a world that may or may not provide similar opportunities.

Over the years, we have experienced some who are in support of the AfroChic mandate as well as those who believe we are divisive and dismissive towards black women by our choice to highlight natural hairstyles (locks, twists, kinks, curls and coils). Outside of these variables, we experience criticism against our personal appearances as a result of this production and its layered relationship with image and community representation. Many have questioned my appearance. People often tell me in varying ways; “If you put on a show about natural hair and all of your marketing, branding and efforts goes towards highlighting the natural hair community – why do you yourself color your hair, wear hair extensions, rock straight weaves, and flat iron your real hair?” “Aren’t you contributing to the self-hate and standardization of the Eurocentric beauty value system that you fight against?”

These are very layered and powerful, important questions that I have never truly felt the need or had the ability to address until now.

When I first “went natural” back in November 2009, and earlier before that back in summer 2004 – I made the decision to stop relaxing my hair simply for financial, health and fashion reasons. Plain and simple. I wanted to try out new hairstyles that would give me the ability to do creative things without having to put costly chemicals in my hair.

There was no real political, social or emotional agenda tied to this decision. I had a great boyfriend at the time who would listen to me talk about how burnt off my edges were and would see me sacrifice some basic necessities for my bi-monthly committed hair perm or treatment. I decided one day I was over the expensive part of permanently straightened hair, and that I would just be chopping it all off and starting fresh. I also thought to myself “damn I don’t even remember what my hair looks like without perm in it.” So I was up for the challenge.

The first day, it was all good and dandy I loved my short crop and was digging my kinky coily texture. Days, weeks and months went by and I started to feel absolutely bored and bland. I tried the Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA) twist out look, I tried putting a flower behind my ear, tried putting on a headband and rocking out but I was truly bored and feeling uncomfortable.  My good friends and boyfriend at the time would say very uplifting things to me like; “Don’t worry about it Amoye, it will grow soon, you’ll love it.” But it took forever to grow for me.

After hours and hours of constant YouTube do-it-yourself videos, articles upon articles of “This is my hair journey, it only took 3 years from my TWA to grow my hair to my waist” I started to lose patience and belief in the life-changing ability of natural hair and the internet! I thought to myself; “How long is this thing going to take?”  “Don’t I have a graduation coming up?”  “I have events to attend and life to live I can’t be so consumed with this natural hair stuff, spending money on all these products – way more money spent than when I was relaxing” “I’m taking back control of my life…” so I bought a few wigs and kept it moving.

My friends and I then formed AfroChic and as I struggled through my TWA phase, the powerful message we tried to connect to our audience started to resonate with me. Our fashion show featured beautiful women who were proud of their natural tresses at all lengths and styles. They mesmerized and wowed the crowd with their confident strides and powerful visual proclamation of self-acceptance.  After the first and second show, we had incredible feedback. There were people emailing us left, right and center, telling us that they had just done the “Big Chop” after coming to our show, or that they feel inspired and proud of what we were doing and we should also be proud of ourselves. I was proud of what we created and excited for the future, but I never really tied my personal hair journey into what we were trying to do as much as everyone had wanted. I thought to myself, “just a few more inches and then I’ll do more twist outs” or “in a year or so I’ll start locks” etc. I was never firmly committed to embodying the image I glorified through my show because I began to feel that AfroChic was a movement beyond our personal journeys. Although I was one of the founding members, I was still trying to find that “inner AfroChic” in me – I just was not “there” or “her” yet.

Time has since passed and as we have grown as an exhibit, attracting close to a thousand attendees and supporters over the years combined, I have grown and began to accept me for me. I have begun to trust my ability to express myself and fashion through my hair and styles whether I’m rocking a twist out with the hair growing out of my scalp or marley twists with hair I bought in the store, or straightened hair I bought from an online based black business woman.  I have not been as consumed with “natural hair identity” and aligning myself with the AfroChic brand because I have never stated I was here to be a brand. I was here to create an event that showed women, including myself, including my little sister, including my mother that natural hair styles and natural beauty is attainable and it exists.  Natural hair, is not some foreign look that is only sported by girls with “good hair” or those who do not have “professional jobs” or women who cannot afford to go to the salon. We highlight 4C hair, we highlight 3A hair because at times, we do not see our own selves in the systems and structures that rely on our subscriptions and our dollars for support.

The beauty and entertainment industry have recently gone crazy over Lupita Nyongo, and for understandable reasons – the woman is drop dead gorgeous.  I am absolutely certain that through her existence alone, thousands, probably even millions of little girls can confidently look into the mirror and feel they are beautiful, they are accepted and desired just as they are. And even the Melissa’s, Fatima’s, Hyancinth,’s Latoya’s of our community who do not have the perfectly smooth chocolate skin, high cheek bones, perfectly chiseled TWA’s and world-class Harvard education – I think they too feel a sense of pride when they see Lupita gracing TV screens across the globe.

And now that “society” has given her a platform and recognizes her beauty as the new standard, this creates space for more dialogue and will hopefully usher in more support for women the sexy and voluptuous size of Jill Scott or those without the commanding hips and curves of Nicki Minaj or Beyonce. Lupita has re-ignited this dialogue for an incredibly large audience and unintentionally created a new standard of beauty through her brand and identity.

As a black woman communicating in a space with other black women and sisters of color, I personally feel the need to continue dialogue around the topic of self-representation and further re-examine the ways in which our obsession with hair texture and naturally hair styling can sometime lead to oppression. When did being “natural” make you more “conscious” and more “down to earth?” When did having straight hair, or wearing a weave make you “insecure” or “weak” in the context of black beauty and identity?

Amoye Henry is a Project Manager based out of Toronto Canada. She is the co-founder of AfroChic, a cultural arts exhibit that thrived in Toronto from 2009-2014. She currently works in health care and tries to travel as much as she can. She loves hard and triumphs often.

Stopped relaxing my hair simply for financial, health and fashion reasons #bhs #naturalhair Click To Tweet

As a black woman communicating in a space with other black women and sisters of color, I personally feel the need to continue dialogue around the topic of self-representation and further re-examine the ways in which our obsession with hair texture and naturally hair styling can sometime lead to oppression.

 

 

5 Things I Didn’t Know Before Going Natural

Going natural is no easy task–it wasn’t easy for me, and it probably won’t be easy for you. Being healthy in all respects is so necessary, and that includes having a healthy head of hair. Ridding your hair of harmful chemicals, heat and unnecessary manipulation is important and good for you in the grand scheme of things, but it doesn’t mean it is a smooth ride.

Going natural is like having a baby–every woman’s journey is different, and no matter how much literature you read, it’s never the way you expect it to be. I would say I have a combination of 3B, 3C and 4A hair, and before I went natural I chemically straightened my hair and straightened my hair daily for the span of 5 years.

I finally decided to go natural around 5 months ago when I became more active and couldn’t keep up with the time commitment needed to maintain my straight tresses. Admittedly, my broken flat iron helped catapult the decision. I used to straighten my hair daily, with no natural hair days in between. Then one day, I went cold turkey and just stopped.

Here are some of the things that I discovered:

  1. My curl pattern changed

    As a child, my hair was more wavy/ curly, falling into the 3A category. Consistent artificial manipulation changed my curl pattern in ways I had no idea was possible. My hair changed from being 3A to an erratic combination of 3B, 3C and 4A, leaving behind no signs of my previous spirals. This was a hard blow- especially since my hair was already difficult to take care of with one texture. Having to learn to care of three new hair types made me want to pull every single rebellious strand out in frustration.

  2. Finding the right routine

    I constantly heard about how difficult it is to find the right routine with natural hair, and like ghost stories, I chose to ignore them. But the stories are true. There are so many factors that go into taming a natural mane–humidity, a cloudless sky or a light drizzle, products used, the amount of water in your hair, air drying vs. blow drying… The right routine is a fine art, and finding it can take months, even years. Your body is constantly changing, and the needs of your hair change with it too. The key to keeping your sanity is taking each day as it comes, embracing your good days and shrugging off the bad ones.

  3. Shrinkage

    Shrinkage is probably one of the biggest factors that deter women from going natural – the time commitment that goes into growing out your hair can be ludicrous. When straight, my hair would touch my lower back. It took me over 3 years to get my shoulder length hair to that length. The intensity of shrinkage depends on the day; some days my hair is down to my lower back, and other days my hair is up to my shoulders. The inconsistency can be frustrating, especially on days when it seems like I’ve lost half my hair.

  4. Terminology

    The amount of products, hairstyles and routines out there is overwhelming. Trying to figure out where to start made me feel like I was drowning. Should I do a twist-out or a braid-out? Should I sleep on silk sheets or cotton? Is silicone serum good or bad? Should I use coconut oil or shea butter? All the options and terms were so overwhelming that I didn’t know where to start. What I learnt was taking it one step at a time and experimentation is the only thing that works for me.

  5. Learning about myself

    I had no idea how much I would learn about myself when I went natural. I learnt life is full of full of ups and downs, and that embracing the good days and letting go of the bad days was key to maintaining my sanity.

I had no idea how much I would learn about myself when I went natural. #bhs #naturalhair Click To Tweet

My hair became an extension of my self-expression, and a huge part of my identity. I learnt that I wasn’t going to look perfect all the time, but that imperfection is perfection.

 

 

Naturalista to Hairlista: 6 Amazing Tips for Healthy Relaxed Hair

I was natural for 24 years and then decided that I wanted a change and on a whim I relaxed my hair. It was such a freeing experience, not because my hair was now relaxed, but because I realized that I was not bound anymore by anyone’s expectations for me.

I was not afraid to do anything to my hair. I became very adventurous.

So while all my friends were transitioning to natural hairstyles, I had relaxed my hair. Over the years I have faced much criticism by people who thought that because my hair was relaxed I did not love myself or had succumbed to the pressures set by other cultures. However, after years of trying different things with my hair and trying different techniques and products I have come to the conclusion that hair is hair.

I now use the following hair techniques that I learned while I was natural on my relaxed hair to amazing results.

Find the right oil for your hair!

You learn quickly with natural hair just because someone loves a product doesn’t mean it will work for you. After a product graveyard had accumulated underneath my sink, I realized I had to figure out my hair pattern first and find products that would work.

I avoid products where the first ingredient is petroleum jelly. You wouldn’t put Vaseline in your hair so why would you put a product whose main ingredient is Vaseline?

Products that use natural oils are the best for your hair and will help your hair to grow. I have a thinner hair shaft but still have a great deal of hair. As a result, I found that Argan oil works well in my relaxed hair because it does not weigh down my hair and still moisturizes my scalp.

Pin curl your hair at night

I learned to pin curl my hair using bobby pins with my natural hair. This helped me to reduce my use of heat in my hair on a daily basis. I also found that the curls would last longer and look better longer.

One day I was frustrated with my relaxed hair and wanted to try something new.

So I experimented and realized that pin curls work just as well with my relaxed hair as my natural hair. You just need to take a small section of your hair, twist it around your finger then place it flat on your head and secure it with a pin. It’s easy and effective hairstyle that can be used to form many other intricate hairstyles.

Use protective hairstyles to prevent split ends

When my hair was natural I would twist my hair and pin it up especially in the winter so my hair wouldn’t dry out. I knew that if I wanted my hair to grow I couldn’t leave the ends exposed all day every day. However, when I first relaxed my hair I thought I could leave my hair down every day. I would love to swing my hair. After my hair split worse than Kim Kardashian’s first marriage, I decided that I had to protect my ends.

I would wrap my hair at night and in the day I would wear my hair in pin curls, buns and even twist outs. I would also trim my ends when as needed to prevent my hair from splitting up to my roots. Soon my hair was growing and I was able to maintain my new length.

Do not be afraid to try new hairstyles

It is very easy to just get into a hairstyle rut. When I had natural hair I had to learn to braid, twist and curl my hair. As a result, I saved a lot of money by not going to the hairdressers every week and I became more adventurous.

Cut your hair, change your hair colour, put your hair up or put it down! Your hair should be reflection of your personality and no one wants to be known as boring and neither should hair.

Avoid over-manipulation

Naomi Campbell should be the warning to all black women! If a woman of her financial standing can have hairline recede like that, then so can we!

I do not over manipulate my hair.

I do cool hairstyles on the weekend and then adjust that style to suit my work during the week usually using hairpins and combing out my curls. This way my hair grows quickly and my hairline isn’t constantly being brushed and manipulated.

No crunchy, stiff hair

Please avoid crunchy, stiff, dry hair! When my hair was natural I used to go to salons and they would flat iron my hair. When they were done with my hair, it had little movement because it was over-pressed or they used crème that would weigh down my hair.

I learned my lesson now that I have relaxed hair and avoid certain products and do not relax my hair bone straight. Having healthy and touchable hair is important to the overall look of my hair as well as to my husband who doesn’t want to be afraid of my hair.

I was at an event a couple weeks ago with my one of my close girlfriends who is natural. As we were siting chatting away a lady came up to her and said, “You have beautiful natural hair!”. I was extremely perturbed because I couldn’t understand why she needed to emphasize “natural hair”.

I realize now that it is important that we as black women start emphasizing the importance of healthy hair. I believe that one of the greatest things about being a black woman is the amazing things we can do with our hair when it is healthy.

I have had natural, texturized and relaxed hair and I have loved my hair in each state.

I was able to love my hair because I followed these techniques and my hair grew healthy and strong. How do you keep your hair healthy and strong?

5 Tips & Tricks for a Great Looking Weave!

Last month, as I was sitting down for my monthly weave in with my sister, who happens to be a weave expert. We started chatting about weaves, and how difficult it can be for woman of color to maintain great looking hair. Especially weaves.

Personally I love the method of weaving in extensions, I’ve tried all types of protective hair styles from braids to lace wigs and at this point in time, I’m truly enjoying rocking the weave-in style. Along with the joys of rocking a weave comes the stresses of maintaining it. So here are my 5 tips and tricks for keeping your hair looking as good as new. I’m no hair expert but I hope this helps you as much as its helped me!

  1. Cover your Hair with Silk Wraps/Caps at Night

    This is one of my favorite and easy ways to wake up looking flawless. Okay, I’m done with the Beyoncé references, promise. On a more serious note there are many benefits to wrapping your weave every night before hitting the sheets. Silk wraps or silk pillowcases help keep in moisture in. For dry hair, this is especially important. If it’s wrapped around your scalp the satin helps avoid bushy edges. So you can thank your silk wrap/cap/pillowcase when you wake up with edges that are laid out to the gods!

    Not many people know that cotton pillowcases cause friction against your hair and can lead to hair loss, which you definitely want to avoid if you want to keep your weave looking brand new. The best part about this is silk wraps/caps are dirt-cheap! I purchase mine at a local beauty shop in Edmonton AB called Images and Shades. I bought mine for around $8.00. Prices range from $5-20 dollars depending on the brand. But what a steal for something that gives us so many benefits, am I right? Silk pillowcases are a great alternative and chances are you have one right in your household.

  2. Use Hair Heat Protectant. ALWAYS!

    I cannot stress enough how important it is to use heat protector spray or serum when applying heat to your weave. I am guilty of getting lazy or forgetting to do this before straightening or curling my weave. I doubt I’m the only one. But seriously ladies, weaves can only take so much stress before they start to look worn down; even the good hair. I currently use Tresseme heat protector spray, works great and smells great too. This keeps the hair from looking dried out and keeps your extension ends looking luscious.

    Fun fact! If you practice the previous tip of using a silk wrap, you can avoid applying heat to your hair completely! Silk wraps keep hair looking as flat as you left, so straightening isn’t needed on a daily basis. Thus avoiding heat all together!

  3. A Wide-Toothed Comb is your new best friend.

    Wide-toothed combs are the best if you’re not a fan of losing hair from brushing it too often. Combing out your hair using a wide-toothed comb instead of a regular paddle brush helps prevent damage and breakage to your weave. Especially on wet hair, when it is most fragile. I’ve found through experience that I have little to no hair loss when I comb out my weave with a wide-toothed comb compared to others. Lesser hair loss = happier me! And a happier you, if you try a wider-toothed comb.

  4. Condition! Condition! Condition!

    Deep conditioning your weave will leave it looking and feeling lustrous. It’s crucial that you deep condition your weave periodically while it is installed. I was so lazy with this tactic at first, ‘cause let’s be honest, deep conditioning for black women is a whole days work. The way my mom had me mask my natural hair and tie it up for the entire day on wash day (as thankful as I am for that mom) it was exhausting. I thought I had escaped this once I got a weave. I hadn’t.

    At least with weaves, deep conditioning only requires 10 minutes tops and you already see a remarkable difference. You want to do whatever you can to avoid hair drying out, especially in the summer. Try to deep condition every couple of weeks. Since weaves don’t need to be washed very often, when you do wash it, spare 10 minutes for deep conditioning. With regards to the type of conditioner to use, I believe women should dry different conditioners until they find what works best for them. I like to use whatever my mom uses. After all mom knows best! Currently I am using a coconut milk conditioner by organix. Very affordable as well.

  5. Invest in your hair

As a college student on a budget, I definitely don’t mean break the bank when purchasing hair. But I am a firm believer in quality over quantity when it comes to extensions. This topic requires a whole article of its own, but I will do my best to summarize it. The type of hair you buy is the most important thing, and it is the most crucial step in maintaining a great looking weave. How can you maintain a weave that was never great in the first place?

When I say invest in your hair, I mean purchase hair you can re-use time and time again. This means good quality human hair. It might seem like a lot at purchase, but I have done the math and compared between a one time payment of high quality hair that will last me 6 – 8 months of reusing depending on how I treat it–to rebuying hair every time I get my weave done (which is often for me). I found it’s much smarter for gals on a budget to invest in our hair purchases.

Go Natural Or Go Home

The trend to go natural has gone viral. Women rocking natural hair feel successful; women wanting to rock natural hair feel motivated and ambitious. In hopes to find and embrace a wholesome and complete image of a black woman that does not apologize for her hair, and its defiance of gravity, we’ve made the “natural” synonymous to healthy, to success.

 

We’ve created a hierarchy based on how “natural” a woman’s hair seems. How many of us have seen another black woman and asked ourselves, “is that her natural hair?” If it isn’t, is that synthetic hair? Human hair? How much did she spend though? Some of us are past the roots, as in whose roots, and are comparing how natural the products we use are. The beat of tongue clicking and lip pursing that drops when the word “relaxed” comes up in a circle of curly and kinky headed black women is so responsive I’ve started to bring it up in hopes to record a dubstep remix of the sass.

I think we can all agree the “enlightened” bunch that have taken a liking to the struggles and challenges of a natural hair journey can be bitter black women; and not the scripted Tyler Perry kinda bitter, just nasty bitter. The bitterness does not help the movement it compromises it, the exclusivity and attitude is a two-ingredient recipe for disaster. As soon as we start to resent the women who aren’t going through the same struggles we are to look half as decent (said with a grain of salt) we compromise the celebration and joy that should come from that struggle.

Reversely, you’ve also got us not-so-much-bitter-as-clueless types, that practice natural hair as a default. Women who do relax, chemically straighten, are throwing the stank eye right back in the direction of our fros- and power to them, I would. In a piece I read recently by natural hair enthusiast and blogger Dara Mathis she brings up the golden argument; does rocking the fro make us more black/African? Is this what we’re thinking? Although, she does an incredible job deconstructing the stupid here, it makes me want to ask; does leaving the kink in the curl make me just a tad bit darker toned? My nose a bit wider? My lips just a bit larger? Are you feeling stereotyped yet?

 

My problem with this natural hair = curly fro thinking is that having black skin does not dictates the texture of my hair. When it comes to Caucasians I’ve seen it all, pin straight, kinky, wavy, and curly and yet no one bats an eye at the variety. No one is claiming to be more white- or claiming others are less white depending on how they’ve decided to wear their hair.

In a BHS focus group I asked the gals what “natural hair” meant to them. My favorite response?

“What natural means to me? If you’re wearing your hair out it is natural- it doesn’t matter if its straight, curly, heat straightened, chemically straightened it all means the same thing if I can see your real roots that is natural.”

The hand gestures she made as she pointed at different members in the room with various hair states and types were both enthusiastic and convincing. Might not be as much of a shock to you as much as it was to me but until just then I had of thought of “natural” as the state hair is after it’s been doused in a good amount of water and shampoo. I believed in her definition. I could not have agreed more.

 

If the sprint towards a healthier vision of black hair is competitive, aggressive, and dismissive we are only creating a trend, and trend’s pass. As someone that has unconsciously practiced natural hair “techniques” for as long as she has had hair to bicker with, I don’t desire for this trend to pass.

I was the only black and bushy haired point-guard on a team of weaves and wigs straighter than the Asian forward. I was the girl left grasping for an appropriate answer when the Asian forward asked, “Why doesn’t your hair go flat with sweat the way everyone else’s does in practice?”

My suggestion? Let’s celebrate. Not the “natural,” “unnatural,” or any labels of what hair is and isn’t. Let’s celebrate hair. If that means we run a marathon instead of a sprint then let’s, just like, do that? Marathon’s might be long but they are experiences of inclusion and community, everyone is in it – together, for the long run. (The line was asking for the cheesy pun, not sorry.) As much as I am a fan of the “if I can’t put it on my toast then I ain’t putting it in my hair” philosophy I want to share it in compassion and love, the way things of any value should be.

Go Natural Or Go Home - What does natural hair means to me? #bhs #naturalhair Click To Tweet

If anything let’s just not be colonialist about this, let’s not be “if you ain’t with us you’re against us” about the natural hair movement. What do you think?

Breaking News: I Know Nothing About My Hair

In my first year of university I went natural and became obsessed with black women’s hair. I watched all the youtube videos I possibly could and read all the articles I could find all online. I thought I knew something about black women’s hair. I knew I at least understood my hair. Then I spent a few hours in inHAIRitance Salon and realized… I know nothing about my hair.

Problem #1: My Shampoo

My inHAIRitance stylist, Michal pointed out the first glaring problem: I wasn’t using the proper shampoo.

When I first went natural I was often irritated by the demographics of women who were publishing how-tos and videos about their hair because none of them had my hair type. And then I discovered Naptural85 on youtube. Her hair looked like mine, she’s Jamaican like me, and her hair looked super healthy. Plus it was growing like a weed. So I made the mistake that many new naturals make: I copied every single thing she did to her hair. Ever.

The reason this is not a smart thing to do is because everyone’s hair is different, therefore everyone’s hair reacts differently to different products. Naptural85 loved using the Terresentials Organic Mud Wash as a shampoo to cleanse her hair and so I have been doing the same. Michal took one look at my scalp and told me Terresentials was drying out my scalp and making it impossible for my hair to retain moisture. The problem with Terressentials is that for me, it was meant to be a clay mask that I use twice a year to cleanse my hair. Unfortunately, I have been using it regularly as a shampoo for almost two years.

Problem #2: Lack of Moisture

Another problem with my regime is that I wasn’t properly moisturizing my hair. I have been using Naptural85’s Shea Butter mix as a moisturizer when it should be used as a sealant. Oops. Not only was I stripping my hair of nutrients with my mud wash, I was also neglecting to infuse moisture into my hair when I styled my hair. That’s why I would always stare enviously at natural youtubers with their shiny twist-outs and wonder why my hair never did that.

Problem #3: I NEVER Trim

Okay, this one I was sort of expecting. I don’t remember which ridiculous youtuber I was watching but I remember hearing the phrase, “some people never really have to trim their hair, I haven’t trimmed mine for over a year.” And of course she had long hair down her back so I thought everything that came out of her mouth was gold. Don’t be fooled ladies. I’m sure some women can get away with not trimming their hair, but most of us mortals cannot.

So when Michal showed me the inch of hair [at least two months of growth] that she had to trim from my head using the pinch method , I was upset but not surprised. It’s been over a year since I last had my hair trimmed. Don’t make the same mistake I made and put it off. If you trim every 3 to 4 months, you will only have to remove millimeters instead of inches of dead ends.

Problem #4: Styling

Before this appointment I was familiar with many different styles available to my natural hair. I smugly thought I knew just about all of them. I love doing twist-outs, braid-outs, bantu knot-outs, high puffs – I even bought into the curlformers craze. Used them once.

Then Abisara exposed me to a protective style I for some reason had never heard of: shingling. Much of the natural world defines shingling as the process of applying moisturizing cream to natural hair in small sections and allowing the natural curls to form. The ladies at inHAIRitance define shingling as not just applying moisturizing cream to natural hair but then taking small sections and twisting them around your index finger until the hair twists around itself. My hair shingled looked a bit like dreads, which I thought it was cool. Another style to add to your natural hair repertoire.

Problem #5: Hair Type

Since I was first exposed to the hair typing model I was convinced my entire head was 4c, with smatterings of 4b in the front.

At my consultation with Abisara she sat me down in her chair and beamed her sunshine into me. “You have such beautiful hair!” she exclaimed encouragingly. She glanced at her table overflowing with natural products, squirted out a glob of one, and started to work it into a small section of my hair. I was a little bit uncomfortable. The only people that I had allowed to touch my hair since I went natural were my mother and my little sister. I squirmed a bit in my seat. Abisara lifted the strand of my hair she had applied the product to. “Yep, that’s what I thought,” she said, “You’re a 4a with sections of 4b.” I squinted a little. That’s not my hair I thought. I put on my glasses and stared.

“I’ve never seen my hair do that,” I stuttered in disbelief. Abisara grinned and nodded knowingly at Michal.
“How many times have we heard that phrase Michal?” she asked.
“Every time,” Michal replied.

Solutions

Because my hair was drying out from using my mud wash as a shampoo, Michael recommended a moisture-infusing shampoo for me: Karen’s Body Beautiful Chamomile Sage For more moisture while styling, Abisara recommended: Blended Beauty Curl Styling Butter I’m obviously still learning.

Please, please keep in mind that every person’s hair is different.

The products that work for my hair might not work for you.

But it’s worth a try! Abisara trains each of her stylists in the science of natural hair before she releases them to the jungle that is curly hair. If you are struggling to take care of your natural or transitioning hair, it’s worth the investment to visit a natural hair salon near you.

What do you think? What are the biggest concerns you have about your hair?

The key to living with my hair natural is taking every day as it comes, and learning to let go. #bhs #naturalhair Click To Tweet

I love my hair through the good and bad, but especially on the days when the stars align and it does what I want it to.

Tell us about your hair journey!

Lily Lynch

Lily connects with her roots – through her roots.

A quick glance at Lily’s shining blue-green eyes, fair skin and light freckles does not tip you off about the shades of her history. But if you let your eyes wander to the delicate dirty blonde coils of her hair, you just might guess right.

Lily Lynch is a twenty-year-old student from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is blessed with a heritage of Mi’kmaq First Nation, African, and European. “My hair was the element that connected me and made me more aware of my African ancestry.”

Our past informs our future. In her search for discovering her heritage Lily uncovered her passion for black history. “I want to be a junior high history teacher. As I grew up, the only story I heard of black people coming to Canada was through the Underground Railroad. But that’s not the whole story.” In the summer of 2013 Lily worked at the Black Loyalist Heritage Museum and learned about the black female role in history. She studied and shared HerStory.
*****

Lily’s hair journey started off like many black women’s: Lily, her mom, a comb, and a whole lot of imagination. “My mom used to put hats on me. Lots of hats.” Lily’s mother was an adventurer. African style hats, corduroy hats, big hats, pointy hats, braids, poofs – she tried it all. “Sometimes she would gather all my hair on top and tie it together with a ribbon. I liked that. It made me feel kind of pretty.”

 

At fourteen, Lily grabbed a pair of jagged arts and craft scissors and cut off her hair. “I just felt like it was time.” Lily was the only girl with short hair in high school, and she liked that. She liked being different. All the other girls had long straight hair. “People knew who I was because of my hair. I looked distinct from other people. There were other girls with mixed hair or curly hair, but other girls did the disguise.” Lily describes the disguise as when women are uncomfortable in their beauty and decide to cover it with weaves or extensions. “I feel like the disguise is making yourself into something that you might not naturally be.”

 

Lily admits that for a long time, she didn’t know how to take care of her hair. “I just did what other people told me to do. I learned by observation.” Lily grew up across the street from two half African half European girls her whole life and would often visit their house and experiment with their hair products. “They usually used Blue magic on my hair to try and make it look like theirs. One time they had this clear gel with sparkles and I was so excited to use it. It didn’t work at all.”

Now she does a lot of co-washing and moisturizes using oils. Lily’s top 5 products are: morrocan oil, mixed chicks leave-in conditioner, coconut oil, conditioners (any kind). And the olive oil brand . Lily’s favourite hair tool is a wide-toothed comb.

Lily admits that for a long time, she didn’t know how to take care of her hair.

Do you know how to take care of your hair?

Jazma Salon Profile

Interview with Jazma Salon owner, Asha MacLeod

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Why did you open your salon?

Read the #HerStory of why Asha MacLeod opened her award-winning salon here

What keeps you motivated?

Kids. Kids who are passionate about hair. When I teach young people about how hair grows out of the scalp. I love to teach them about hair textures, why hair gets dry and other things about black hair. I enjoy when kids come to me with questions and challenge me to do more of my own research. Then I have the opportunity to come back to them with my own research and see their excitement. That’s what gives me the energy to continue every day.

Who inspires you?

The artistic part of me admires artists like Vidal Sassoon and Trevor Sorbie and the black artists that work with them like Jon Atkinson. The first time I saw black hair move was on a Vidal Sassoon stage. I gasped and turned to my mom and said, “I want to do that!”

How many staff do you have?

I have 4 stylists, 1 colour technician and 3 assistants/apprentices.

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What has been your biggest success?

My biggest success has been creating a product line for semi-natural hair and natural hair. We not only created a product line but also encouraged people to enjoy the beauty of afro-textured hair in my seminars and my training. Twenty years ago in Atlanta I started teaching people to embrace afro-textured hair. I feel like I have pioneered the idea.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was business. Because I am passionate about hair and my art, having to do business was a challenge. Dealing with employees has been especially difficult. I don’t like training and then not seeing my employees want to pay it forward. I put so much into giving and sharing. I expect that at least one out of every hundred should be paying it forward! I don’t see that kind of sharing and that’s a little hurtful and challenging.

What do you want you business to look like in 10 years?

I would like to see a bunch of little Jazma’s all over the world with our Kerasoft products. Not because I want to leave a legacy but because I am concerned about the black dollar. The black hair industry is the only industry in the world that blacks have that they can actually rotate their dollar.

Currently, a dollar circulates in the Asian community for a month, in the Jewish community for twenty days, and in the white community for seventeen days. A dollar circulates in the black community for six hours.

What I would like to see in ten years is that my business trains and educates young people on the fact that the only way for the black dollar to grow in our community is in the black hair industry. Black chemists will create the product. Black distributors will sell it, and black people will purchase it. That is the way to strengthen the black dollar. If we don’t do it, who will?

What advice would you give to new Canadian salons or hairdressers?

I would say to remember two things:
  We are in the service business. We are here to serve. We just happen to do hair. If you think of it that way it will make you more successful.
  Continue to educate yourself and share the knowledge you acquire.

What do you specialize in?

Semi-natural hair, hair cutting, and we have one of the best colourists in the world.

I want to explain what I mean by semi-natural hair. Once you put heat on your hair it affects the sulfur bonds so your hair is not natural anymore. Once you pull on your hair with extensions or braids you weaken the elasticity of your hair; the colour from the extensions then bleeds onto your hair and your hair is not natural anymore. When you colour it, it’s not natural anymore.

Here, we say no hair is altogether natural because it has been affected one way or another. So we specialize in embracing natural textures.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

There are many myths out there on the Internet. I would like consumers to think of solubility of products before they use them.

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Remember: if you want you hair hydrated it can only come from water.

If you want your scalp to heal from the abuse of tight ponytails or extensions there is no solution but oxygen. Try getting simple and logical. There is no miracle in a jar. If you want your hair to be long and healthy—avoid certain things. Once your hair is abused and dead you have to grow it out all over again. Don’t trust everything you read or hear on the Internet. Educate yourself from people who have factual knowledge on the science of black hair.