Tag Archives: beauty

Why is it so difficult to find products that are 100% natural?

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Shea Butter

I’m sure there are people reading this question and thinking the exact opposite, it isn’t difficult to find such products, what is she talking about? However, look at it from the point of view of someone who lives in an area that only has the major stores such as Wal-Mart. They may not be internet savvy and know what websites to go on to find such products, or they may simply believe that retailers wouldn’t sell anything in the shops that could be harmful.

I’ve lived in the UK and I am now living in the U.S.A and it’s the same.  Unless you are aware of where to go to find natural products you are pretty much stuck with the major stores and their lack of variety. When I go into my local supermarket (whether here or in the UK) it is virtually impossible to find shampoos, body lotions, shower gels, deodorants etc that  have 100% natural ingredients. Since going natural with my hair, I have also become more aware of the ingredients of many popular brands, and the effects of such ingredients.  Why is it impossible to go to my local store and find products that don’t contain parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, mineral oil, petroleum and other harmful ingredients and preservatives?

I stopped using relaxer, and was glad, because I became aware of the harmful chemicals used in them. Only to find that the same chemicals are used in my moisturizer! Why should a moisturizer contain sodium hydroxide? Why aren’t natural products available in major stores? I’m sure if I lived in a bigger city I would have more options, and I know that the larger stores of Wal-Mart now have  a ‘naturals’ section. That’s great, but what about people who do not live in major cities, why don’t all Wal-Mart’s have a ‘naturals’ section?

It upsets me, because the majority of people don’t know about the effects of certain chemicals and manmade preservatives.  They simply assume that if it for sale, it must be safe to use.  The fact is the majority of popular beauty brands produce products with chemicals that can cause skin or scalp irritation, allergies and in some cases, an increased risk of cancer. If I decide I don’t want to use a deodorant with aluminium in it I should be able to go to my local store and have the choice to buy a natural deodorant. I shouldn’t have to go to a special store or search on the internet, to order one from a company that is based overseas.

When I was in the UK I loved Holland and Barrett. I was upset to find that they don’t exist in the U.S. However I wasn’t a fan of their natural deodorant (it  left me smelling musty by the end of the day), but I didn’t have a choice. As far as I was aware it was their brand or a popular brand that was guaranteed to have aluminium in it. Thankfully in the U.S they have the Toms brand and I think their deodorants are great and they smell good. If I was still in the UK, I probably wouldn’t be aware of this brand, but if I was, I would have to order it online and pay shipping fees to have it delivered. What a pain, having to order online and wait for the items to be delivere.  Only to be told that the delivery came when you were out and you now have to go to the post office to collect it, I digress .  The point I’m trying to make is that, I wish I could just pick up the products I need when I do my grocery shopping, just like everyone else.

There are people suffering from dry scalps or dry skin and they think it’s simply something wrong with them and something they are prone to.  The reality is, many of us are suffering from these annoyances due to the products we use on a daily basis. My husband (who has European hair) noticed the difference when he started using the shampoos I use, instead of the generic one he picked up from the store.  He would regularly suffer from dry scalp and would constantly be scratching his head. It use to drive me mad. Then I realised that it’s not only women with afro textured hair who have ‘gone natural’ that should avoid shampoos with sulphates.  Anyone could benefit from doing so, whether you have afro textured hair or European hair. He switched to the shampoo I was using, that had no sodium lauryl sulphate and his scalp improved. When I went further and not only avoided sulphates but also chose to avoid shampoos with silicones, he noticed the problem improved even more and it is no longer an issue.

So the ingredients that are in products do make a difference.   I can understand people who don’t know any better,  using products that aren’t  natural.  However, I don’t understand when people who have been made aware of the dangers, still choose to use products with ‘junk’ in them.  Maybe it’s because of the inconvenience of having to find all natural products, or maybe they believe products that are 100% natural are more expensive. It is, when you have to order them from oversees and pay for shipping, or buy them from a specialist store that probably has to charge more, to cover their costs.

I don’t think 100% natural products are particularly more expensive, it depends on the brand and where you get them from, but a few dollars or pounds extra is worth it, in my opinion.  Besides, you can always make your own hair products and body lotion by simply mixing a few oils and butters together. However it’s a shame that natural products are considered specialists products.  They should be the norm and consumers deserve to have choice, variety and convenience when they shop. They should not be penalised through cost and time, simply for wanting the best for their health.  I guess if something is worthwhile it requires a little bit more effort. The companies that make natural products are doing a great job, I just wish they were just as accessible as general brands.

Sources

http://thegoodhuman.com/2007/06/21/what-are-parabens-and-why-should-you-avoid-them/

http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=291

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/AP-Deo

Ingredients in a moisturizer I purchased from Wal-Mart. I bought it because it had Shea butter in it. Well I realised, that wasn’t all it had in it!

It says on the bottle: infused with pure African Shea Butter and uncover radiantly soft skin. Skin Enriching Cream with a high concentration of pure African Shea Butter, a natural source of antioxidants & vitamins. This sounds great but look what it contains……….

Ingredients
Water, Butyrospermium parkii (Shea Butter), Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Petrolatrum, Ceteareth – 20, Hydroxyethyl urea, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter.

Ethylhexyl Isonanoate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Octyldodecyl Myristate, Hydrogenated Polydecane, Cetylesters, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone , Fragrance, Isohexadecane, C13 & 14 Isoparaffin.

Sodium Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Carbomer, Mineral Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, Methlparaben, Propylparaben.

Look up the safety of most ingredients or products at: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Do you find it difficult to find natural products? How can this problem be improved?

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Step Away From The Relaxer (part 3)

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Here is some more advice for those who are at the awkward stage of their journey. Your hair is growing well and it is no longer a TWA. It may be more of a challenge to manage, as a result. Perhaps you are entering an area of the unknown, where you have to figure out how to style your hair at this new length.This is particularly problematic when you remain as busy as ever. The demands of work, school, or looking after children make hair the last thing you want to  concern yourself  with. Remember, it isn’t our hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge. Once we learn how to manage our hair effectively at this stage, it is no longer an issue. Have a look at parts 1 -4, if you haven’t already. This week will be tips 5 and 6.

5. Beware of texturizers.  I almost fell for it. I was told I could texturize my hair to ‘soften it’. As if my hair is made out of concrete! I will repeat this; it isn’t the hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge.  I was someone who was regarded as having ‘tough’ hair. Why? When I first tried to relax my hair it didn’t work. It only relaxed on the third try and would look kinky again after two weeks or so.  Then I started using super plus relaxer (Elasta QP Super!).

So if anyone is considered to have ‘tough’ hair it should be me. Now, when my relatives comment on my hair they say, I’m fortunate that my hair is soft, that’s why I have managed to stay natural. No, it is not that my hair is softer than anybody else’s; it’s that I have learned to care for it, in a way that allows me to handle it effectively. I no longer use products that contain harsh sulphates for example, which dry out the hair. I have also learned how to keep my hair stretched out.  Refer to my post: How to stretch out your hair without heat.

When your hair is dry and tangled it makes it a lot more difficult to manage.  So don’t fall into the trap of believing that a texturizer  will ‘soften’ your hair and you  will still be natural. Texturizers are similar to relaxers, they are designed to permanently alter your curl pattern. Relaxers take away your curls completely and texturizers are believed to loosen your curl pattern. However if you have a Z shape curl pattern, the result will be very different from the photos on the box. Even if you have an S shape curl pattern results of texturizers can still vary and they are not temporary but permanent, like relaxers.   Your hair will not magically go back to its kinky, coily texture when wet.

Is my hair really going to look like this?

I know people who made this mistake and came out of the salon with hair that looked relaxed. Hence they had to start all over again.  Look at the ingredients in texturizers, they also contain chemicals that permanently alter your hair, such as calcium hydroxide or sodium  hydroxide (lye). They also contain ingredients that dry out the hair, such as: petroleum, mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulphate. So don’t be fooled by the smiley faces of the models on the front of the box, and words such as ‘hydrating’, ‘anti-breakage’ and even , ‘organic’. Many of these products use the word organic while containing a number of harsh and unnatural ingredients. They throw in 1% of a natural ingredient and give you the impression that the 1% is the main ingredient. It’s simply a marketing tool. Don’t forget the website http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. You can type in the name of a product or ingredient and find out how it is rated, in terms of safety.

If you are having a problem with managing your hair, simply do some research. There is a great deal of information on the internet, and you can ask questions on forums, facebook pages and YouTube.  You will find someone who can relate to you and give you some helpful advice. I’m still learning better ways of managing my hair. It use to take me  1 hour and 30 minutes to detangle it. Now it takes me 30 minutes because I followed some advice I found on YouTube. It’s trial and error and you have to be willing to learn and make mistakes at the same time. You will be thankful that you didn’t go back to relaxers or texturize your hair, when you really didn’t need to.

Have a look at Kimmytube’s natural hair story (parts 1 and 2). It is very inspiring and highlights that fact that we are all learning. Her hair was the same length for the first ten years of being natural. It is only when she began researching how to truly manage her hair, she began to see great results. She also tried texturizers and it didn’t work out.

6.Protective styles  give you a well-earned break. These are styles that ensure your ends are tucked away, so that they do not become damaged. If your ends are protected they are less likely to break off and, your length will therefore be retained. I believe the reason my hair never grew beyond a certain point (when it was relaxed) was because it broke off at the ends. My hair was certainly growing from the roots. The fact that I had to relax my hair every six weeks due to re-growth was evidence of that. So the only explanation could be that there was a problem with the other side of my hair, the ends.

The benefits of protective styling are evident and there is so much information about it.  Protective styles include: twists, cornrows, braids, French braids  and basically any style where your ends are tucked away and protected for consecutive, days, weeks or months. If you do braid or twist your hair and leave your ends out, technically, this is a low manipulation style but it still serves the purpose of ensuring that your hair is left alone.

As your hair gets longer you should consider incorporating protective styles into your style repertoire. I like to do French braids, twists or rolls. Mini twists are great as well. I usually keep them in for a month but with French braids I can take them out when I get bored, so there’s less commitment. Protective styles also give you a break from styling and manipulating your hair. This comes in handy when you are pressed for time.

What is your favourite protective style? Have you ever texturized your hair before?

 

Step Away From The Relaxer (part 3)

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Here is some more advice for those who are at the awkward stage of their journey. Your hair is growing well and it is no longer a TWA. It may be more of a challenge to manage, as a result. Perhaps you are entering an area of the unknown, where you have to figure out how to style your hair at this new length.This is particularly problematic when you remain as busy as ever. The demands of work, school, or looking after children make hair the last thing you want to  concern yourself  with. Remember, it isn’t our hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge. Once we learn how to manage our hair effectively at this stage, it is no longer an issue. Have a look at parts 1 -4, if you haven’t already. This week will be tips 5 and 6.

5. Beware of texturizers.  I almost fell for it. I was told I could texturize my hair to ‘soften it’. As if my hair is made out of concrete! I will repeat this; it isn’t the hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge.  I was someone who was regarded as having ‘tough’ hair. Why? When I first tried to relax my hair it didn’t work. It only relaxed on the third try and would look kinky again after two weeks or so.  Then I started using super plus relaxer (Elasta QP Super!).

So if anyone is considered to have ‘tough’ hair it should be me. Now, when my relatives comment on my hair they say, I’m fortunate that my hair is soft, that’s why I have managed to stay natural. No, it is not that my hair is softer than anybody else’s; it’s that I have learned to care for it, in a way that allows me to handle it effectively. I no longer use products that contain harsh sulphates for example, which dry out the hair. I have also learned how to keep my hair stretched out.  Refer to my post: How to stretch out your hair without heat.

When your hair is dry and tangled it makes it a lot more difficult to manage.  So don’t fall into the trap of believing that a texturizer  will ‘soften’ your hair and you  will still be natural. Texturizers are similar to relaxers, they are designed to permanently alter your curl pattern. Relaxers take away your curls completely and texturizers are believed to loosen your curl pattern. However if you have a Z shape curl pattern, the result will be very different from the photos on the box. Even if you have an S shape curl pattern results of texturizers can still vary and they are not temporary but permanent, like relaxers.   Your hair will not magically go back to its kinky, coily texture when wet.

Is my hair really going to look like this?

I know people who made this mistake and came out of the salon with hair that looked relaxed. Hence they had to start all over again.  Look at the ingredients in texturizers, they also contain chemicals that permanently alter your hair, such as calcium hydroxide or sodium  hydroxide (lye). They also contain ingredients that dry out the hair, such as: petroleum, mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulphate. So don’t be fooled by the smiley faces of the models on the front of the box, and words such as ‘hydrating’, ‘anti-breakage’ and even , ‘organic’. Many of these products use the word organic while containing a number of harsh and unnatural ingredients. They throw in 1% of a natural ingredient and give you the impression that the 1% is the main ingredient. It’s simply a marketing tool. Don’t forget the website http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. You can type in the name of a product or ingredient and find out how it is rated, in terms of safety.

If you are having a problem with managing your hair, simply do some research. There is a great deal of information on the internet, and you can ask questions on forums, facebook pages and YouTube.  You will find someone who can relate to you and give you some helpful advice. I’m still learning better ways of managing my hair. It use to take me  1 hour and 30 minutes to detangle it. Now it takes me 30 minutes because I followed some advice I found on YouTube. It’s trial and error and you have to be willing to learn and make mistakes at the same time. You will be thankful that you didn’t go back to relaxers or texturize your hair, when you really didn’t need to.

Have a look at Kimmytube’s natural hair story (parts 1 and 2). It is very inspiring and highlights that fact that we are all learning. Her hair was the same length for the first ten years of being natural. It is only when she began researching how to truly manage her hair, she began to see great results. She also tried texturizers and it didn’t work out.

6.Protective styles  give you a well-earned break. These are styles that ensure your ends are tucked away, so that they do not become damaged. If your ends are protected they are less likely to break off and, your length will therefore be retained. I believe the reason my hair never grew beyond a certain point (when it was relaxed) was because it broke off at the ends. My hair was certainly growing from the roots. The fact that I had to relax my hair every six weeks due to re-growth was evidence of that. So the only explanation could be that there was a problem with the other side of my hair, the ends.

The benefits of protective styling are evident and there is so much information about it.  Protective styles include: twists, cornrows, braids, French braids  and basically any style where your ends are tucked away and protected for consecutive, days, weeks or months. If you do braid or twist your hair and leave your ends out, technically, this is a low manipulation style but it still serves the purpose of ensuring that your hair is left alone.

As your hair gets longer you should consider incorporating protective styles into your style repertoire. I like to do French braids, twists or rolls. Mini twists are great as well. I usually keep them in for a month but with French braids I can take them out when I get bored, so there’s less commitment. Protective styles also give you a break from styling and manipulating your hair. This comes in handy when you are pressed for time.

What is your favourite protective style? Have you ever texturized your hair before?

 

Step Away From The Relaxer (part 2)

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Here are tips 3 and 4 in the Step Away From the Relaxer series.  These are some encouraging tips for those who have recently done the big chop or are transitioning and have now come to the ‘awkward’ stage of their journey. Some people give up at this stage and go back to relaxer.  I hope you find these helpful and they give you a few ideas to get through this point. The results are worth it, so hang on in there!

3.  Accept the facts and remember the benefits of natural hair. I believe caring for natural hair requires more effort and the sooner I accepted this the easier it was for me to adjust. It is not going to be like when your hair was relaxed. If you keep comparing the two experiences you will put unrealistic expectations on you and your hair.  When my hair was relaxed I didn’t have to worry about detangling it and shrinkage was never an issue. When I went to bed I didn’t have to worry about stretching it out to style it the next day.

However,  with natural hair, it simply isn’t the same experience. In spite of this the benefits make it worthwhile. I personally didn’t like how flat my hair looked when it was relaxed. I would prefer it a couple of weeks after, when it appeared thicker, as opposed to when it was freshly relaxed. I have always liked big hair!  Now, my hair is the longest it has ever been. When my hair was relaxed it always grew to a certain point (halfway down my neck) and it would not grow beyond that point. I also believe natural hair is much more versatile. There are many more styling options with natural hair that I was previously unaware of. Check out my posts: The Versatility of Natural Hair parts 1 and 2 for inspiration. To be honest I don’t miss the harsh smell of relaxer, neither do I  miss the burning and the scabs on my scalp that followed!

Freedom!

I’m a lot more conscious about ingredients and always scrutinise labels. This goes for hair, skin and food products. Overall, I’m no longer only concerned with the health of my hair,  but with my skin, body and overall health. Hair is the least important part of our bodies so if we are going to make an effort with caring for the health of our hair, how much more for our overall health.  It’s not just about avoiding relaxers but other harmful chemicals and ingredients. When you understand the health benefits of your actions it encourages you to continue doing what is best for your health. So perhaps research the effects of the chemicals they put in relaxers (sodium hydroxide for example). Once you know the facts you can make an informed decision. It’s a personal choice but nothing should be done out of ignorance. Since most of us got relaxers when we were kids I doubt we were fully aware of the facts.

 4. Learn how to manage shrinkage.  This is one of the main challenges for kinky, coily hair.  You will experience it after washing and if you are wearing your hair out during the week it may gradually begin to shrink up.  When you wake up in the morning you may find your hair has been flattened from laying down all night and you have to spend time fluffing it out again. This can be annoying, especially when your hair doesn’t cooperate and you don’t have time.  I found that I relied heavily on blow-dryers when I first went natural because I wanted my hair to remain stretched out. If I had known what I know now, I wouldn’t have used them. Please refer to my previous article: How to stretch out your natural hair without heat. Basically braiding or twisting your hair stretches it out. So before bed you can put it in 5 or 6 medium to large-sized braids. Also, remember when your hair has shrunk and you want to handle it to style, always add water before trying to comb or pick it out! Otherwise you’ll be dealing with tangled hair and if you are in a hurry you are more likely to cause damage to your hair. I always wash my hair in twists or braids so that the shrinkage is minimised, and your hair is reinforced when it is in braids, making  it less fragile.

How do you manage shrinkage? What benefits have you experienced since going natural?

How to stretch your hair without using heat

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Same hair stretched out

Fully shrunken hair

Every time I go to the hairdressers to have my hair put in cornrows they whip out the blow dryer and hair straighteners.  They always feel the need to straighten my hair before they can braid it. I certainly didn’t have this problem when my hair was relaxed of course. However with natural hair it seems many hairdressers are clueless and simply seek to put your hair in a state they are more familiar with before they can style it.  It’s only when I learned to braid my own hair that I realised my hair didn’t have to be straightened before I could braid it neatly. It’s funny, when men get their hair cornrowed at the barbers they don’t have to have their hair straightened beforehand and their cornrows turn out perfect!

After washing
So what are the different ways you can stretch your hair out before styling it. I’m not going to lie, when my hair is in a shrunken state it is impossible to deal with. In fact shrinkage was one of the biggest obstacles to deal with when I first went natural.  I wasn’t use to it and couldn’t believe how much my hair shrunk after washing, at least 75% of the overall length. When I was a kid I use to hate washing my hair simply because of the shrinkage and the harsh combing and painful detangling that followed.

So how do I stretch out my hair after washing so that it is easier to style? My hair gradually shrinks during the week if I wear it out, perhaps due to the weather or simply sleeping on it. I often have to stretch it out if I’m between washes.   Well it’s very simple. First of all I find it a lot easier to wash my hair in loose twists or braids (about six big ones). This stops it from shrinking completely in the first place and when I towel dry my hair I never let it get completely dry before styling. Damp hair is much more durable and thus easier to style, this minimises breakage as well.

Braids and other methods
Then, I simply put my hair braids, adding leave in conditioner or oil to lock in the moisture from the water.  If I want to do a braid out that week  I will braid my hair accordingly and undo the braids the next day. If I want to put my hair in cornrows or another style I will do the same but  it will not be necessary to do as many braids. I usually do medium-sized braids.   After braiding my hair and allowing it to dry overnight, it will be stretched out the next day when the braids are taken out. Then it will be a lot easier to either cornrow,  French braid or style however I want.  Styling is a lot easier to do with stretched-out hair.  I have not used a blow dryer or straightening iron for almost a year now. It was simply a personal decision for me, many people are fine with applying heat to their hair but I choose to avoid it as much as possible now.

So just to recap; to stretch out your hair I would recommend washing it in large braids or twists and braiding after washing and leaving them to dry overnight.  Twists will also stretch out your hair and if you ever put your hair in rollers or curl formers, one added benefit is that they stretch out your hair as well. Perhaps after having your hair styled this way, before washing, you could use the opportunity to do a twist or braid out and enjoy the length that will result from your hair being stretched out. Simply finger combing will get rid of the waves or curls and your hair should be near its maximum length! Putting your hair in Bantu knots also help to stretch it out. Have a look at the video below:

So I hope this helps you find an alternative to heat and helps you to deal better with shrinkage. Most importantly remember that shrinkage is a good thing. It shows that your hair is doing what it is supposed to do. Healthy hair will shrink back to its original curl pattern (which is usually tightly coiled for natural textured hair) when wet. It’s all part of the fun. Unfortunately with hair that has been damaged by heat it may not return to its natural curl pattern. Till this day I still have some straight strands in the front of my head which I know is a result of heat damage. So be aware of the risks that come along with using heat. For those that want to be heat free, give it a try!

How do you stretch out your hair without heat? Share in the comments below.

Does hair typing set us back?

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I have never been overly concerned about what my hair type was. However I do consider it useful information when learning how best to manage my hair. For example I knew that certain styles demonstrated by bloggers would not necessarily turn out the same with my hair and I would have to adapt them accordingly. Also, when it came to my hair care regiment I was able to develop techniques that worked best for my hair type. I understood that not every method would work the same with my hair.

However what happens when hair typing becomes detrimental to the way you see your hair or to the way other people respond to you. Have we just replaced the derogatory terms ‘good hair’ and ‘bad hair’ with type 3 and type 4 hair. Unfortunately this is the negative result of hair typing and I think it is becoming more and more evident.

There are a few hair typing systems. One of the most popular ones is the one formed by celebrity hairstylist Andre Walker. Have a look at the diagram below:

While this information can be useful it should not be used as a ranking of good to not so good. We must respect the fact that natural hair is very diverse. Some women don’t have one hair type overall, their hair may be made up of a combination of the different hair types. So not everyone fits into a particular box  of a certain hair type.

Esperanza Spalding
4a

Shingai Shoniwa
4b hair

We spend a lot of money on curl enhancing creams, puddings and serums. When the fact is if the curls aren’t there to begin with they are not magically going to appear just because you apply these  products.  Rather than being disappointed, a person in this position should accept their hair the way it is and focus on the many of styling options that are available to them to create curls and waves. I hope these products haven’t become the new ‘creamy crack’. I dread to think that another woman would look down on someone with hair that is say 4b as opposed to the more curl defining hair types. Corinne Bailey Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross have stunning hair but they are not representative of everyone with natural hair,  when you consider the shear diversity of natural hair. Other hair types are just as stunning but in a different way, neither one is superior or better. If you fall into the trap of thinking like that you need to remember why you went natural in the first place. For many of us  it was to be free from the pressure to conform to what society typically states is beautiful and to embrace our natural beauty.

Debra Messing
3a hair

Keri Russell
3b Hair

I’ve heard horror stories of certain naturals attending hair care events and being told that their hair wasn’t kinky enough (simply because they were of mixed heritage) or being told that their hair was too kinky for the products on display and both were made to feel like they didn’t belong there.  Neither scenario is acceptable and is the result of nothing but ignorance and the same attitude people had about natural hair being inferior to straight flowing European hair. I know white women who use afro hair care products because they have very curly hair, would we turn them away just because they’re not black? That would be absurd.  Some of them can relate to us because they felt the pressure to straighten their hair for years. I have  also heard of some YouTube vloggers who have decided to close their accounts and delete their videos because of  a lack of interest in their channels.  They have claimed it is because they don’t have what is perceived as the ‘good hair’ type that usually is related to having super defined curls and really long hair.

We are supposed to be moving forward not replacing derogatory terms with different ones with the same sentiment.  More and more women are deciding to go natural, this is a good thing that should not be met with disappointment. If we accept that natural hair is diverse we can avoid this. The same applies to women who have relaxed hair, it all comes down to choice and it would be just as wrong to make someone feel inferior for having relaxed hair as well. Inspire them don’t bash them!

Alicia Keys
3c hair

What do you think about hair typing? Is it a good thing or has it set us back to where we were?

The Versatility of Natural Hair (Part 1)

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One of the biggest misconceptions I had about going natural was that I wouldn’t have a lot of options for styling my hair. If you are thinking of going natural  and worry about this, continue reading. If you are already natural and are stuck for ideas I have complied a list of my favourite styling options. I have tried many of these styles. I have also included some links to some very useful vloggers who give you step-by-step instructions on how to achieve  these styles.

Natural hair is extremely diverse. There are a lot of styling options available. We just have to do our research and try the many different styles. It is also important to share ideas with each other.  As I recall when my hair was relaxed I simply wrapped it and wore it down or up, that was about it. When I curled it the curls wouldn’t last. However curling natural hair is a lot easier because natural hair can be shaped and molded in many different ways. So have a look at the styles below and let me know what you think.

1. The big chop

If you’ve heard the term TWA it stands for Teeny Weeny Afro. I loved my hair at this stage because I was able to see my natural curls for the first time in my adult life.  Hair styling is very simple at this stage as long as you keep your hair well moisturized.  I used a glycerin and water mix that I put in a spray bottle and would spray my hair everyday. You could also use an oil of your choice and water. There are also many accessories you could use:  headbands,  flowers, decorative clips and hair pins. A simple side or middle parting also adds another feature to your style.  When it gets a little longer you can do a mini twist out to really play with your curls.

Viola Davis – 84th Academy Awards

2. Wash and Gos

These are an excellent way of emphasising your natural curl pattern and they work well on short  to medium hair but can also be done with long hair.  You go through your usual wash and deep conditioning routine then use a curl enhancing product to bring out your curls.   Then you allow your hair to dry naturally. Below is a good example of a wash and go done with Eco Styling gel. Jane Carter Solutions also has some excellent products for this.  However, this style  requires you to embrace the shrinkage of your hair as oppose to other styles that stretch out your hair.

Esperanza Spalding‘s wash and go

SimplYounique

Short hair

3. Blow outs

Sometimes its good to just get a blow dryer and blow it out into a huge afro. This style is a lot of fun and very glamorous. It’s important to make sure you use a good heat protectant before applying heat to your hair. I think this style is best for special occasions when you really want to stand out.

Esperanza Spalding’s glamorous look

4. Twist-outs

This can be achieved by two-strand twisting your hair (usually around 12 medium-sized twists) and simply undoing the twists the next day.  One of my favourite styles that gives you great volume and defined spiral or wavy curls. Check out Natural Chica’s channel and her methods of achieving this style. You don’t have to blow dry your hair out first so I have included both methods where she uses heat and where she avoids it. Twist-outs work on both short and long hair but your hair does have to be long enough to twist obviously.

Yaya’s Twist-Out

Flat twist out tutorial

5. Braid-outs

Again, similar to the twist-out but done with braids instead. I personally do these more than twist-outs as I usually braid my hair after washing it to stretch it out. So I end up doing a braid-out after every wash. These give your hair a nice crimped look and create a lot of volume.

Braid-out

Again you do not have to use heat to do this it can be done immediately after washing. If your hair isn’t stretched out enough the next day you can simply re-braid it and it will stretch it out further.

6. Bantu-knot outs

Back in the day these use to be called China bumps! I love these as your hair works as its own set of rollers. It’s a lot cheaper than buying a set of curl formers or rollers. It is quite easy to do this style and you can decide how big our small you want your knots to be. I will feature two methods below and you can try whatever works best for you. You could even leave the bantu-knots in and wear your hair in a funky style like that.

Corinne’s Bantu knot-out

SimplYounique

xGOLDn

That’s it for now! I will be featuring some more styles for part two of this article. There are many more and some that I haven’t even discovered yet. Styles for formal occasions such as weddings for example and updos, cornrows, flat twists, the list is endless. Let me know if you have tried any of these styles and what your favourite style is.  Remember to look out for part 2 of this article that will follow shortly. If you have found this helpful let me know in the comments below.