Is Natural Hair for Everyone?

I know some, or most of you, may look around and ask yourself, “What do you mean is natural hair for everyone? As black women, then it’s definitely for us!” And I get where you’re coming from, I do. You would think, being black women, natural hair is part of our heritage, part of who we are.

Having been relaxer and chemical free for almost seven years now, I can say that I’ve had my share of natural hair experiences with myself and those around me. And with that being said, I can truthfully say that natural hair isn’t for everyone. And I know it sounds bad, but it’s not meant to be taken in the way that you think.

There have been countless posts on Twitter with certain “naturalistas” insisting that girls ditch the creamy crack and learn to love their coils. But I agree with those relaxed women when they say that the natural life, though it’s something that could come with little to no effort, may not be for everyone. And that’s perfectly fine.

Many, if not most of us, have all dealt with relaxed hair; including weaves. To go from something that you run the flat iron through or wrap up in literally 45 seconds at night, to carving out an hour or two every night for a few flat twists, isn’t comfortable for all black women.

I hope no one thought going from relaxed hair to natural hair would be a piece of cake. I mean, you learn as you go, but the beginning can be trying. Once you transition, you begin dealing with two different hair textures; and one of them you’re seemingly unfamiliar with.

Some decide to skip the transitioning stage altogether and jump straight into the “big chop,” but no matter the route you’re still bound to run into issues. But it’s nothing you can’t get past with a little coconut oil and some patience.

Mental preparation is the only thing that comes to mind when I think of working with natural hair. If you’ve been conditioned to deal with relaxed hair, you may not be as eager to work with the unfamiliar curly stuff growing out behind it. And if you decided to big chop, you have to instantly adapt to the natural hair that took the place of those straight ends.

Some women aren’t willing to take the time and energy that comes with it, so they fail and go back to what they know. And there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. It just means that if you’re only willing to be natural when you can cover it with a weave, then it may not be for you.

Now that I’ve gotten more into it, I don’t think that “natural hair isn’t for everyone,” but more so not everyone is ready to adapt to their natural hair. And that’s OK. The journey is a beautiful one; even the days when you have no idea what you’re doing or if your hair is even growing.

For most, it’s a physical change, but for me, it was something within. It was a new confidence, something that I needed. Whether you’re loving the creamy crack or relishing in your newfound love for your curls, enjoy what makes you happy.

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What Relaxers Really Do to Your Hair

Are you a girlie that uses relaxers?

I believe that the majority of us can live without relaxers.  Although relaxers make our hair flow straight and pretty, that is only what it gives to the outside appearance.  So lets go more in depth about what a relaxer technically does to the hair!  

What is a hair relaxer, and what does a hair relaxer specifically do to the hair strand?

A hair relaxer is a manmade chemical with a lotion or a cream texture that is used to make the hair easy to straighten and manage on a daily basis.  It reduces the beautiful curl pattern by altering the curl structure of the hair.  It makes the hair resistant to returning to its original curl pattern.  

In most relaxer instructions, it suggests that you leave the chemical lotion or cream in your hair for about twenty minutes.  (I know some of you may leave it in a little bit longer to make sure it fully takes well).  So as it is sitting in the hair, it is causing your hair cuticle to burn every time it touches your hair.  Consistently using relaxers, we often start to physically see the stress and weakness that our hair is slowly transforming into.  The hair will start to grow at a slower rate and it is known to cause split ends and hair breakage.  

The process:

  1. Damage Follicle: When the hair is relaxed, the scalp becomes burnt leading to a damaged follicle.
  2. Scab Hair: The hair from the damage follicle continues to grow but not in the proper way, therefore a new follicle will start to grow.
  3. New Follicle: The damage follicle then sheds and dies off while a new follicle with normal hair growth takes over.

In conclusion, this sums up what a hair relaxer actually does to our hair.  How do you feel about relaxers?

 

Photo via bellemocha.com

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Am I Wasting My Time Living Through the TWA Phase?

What is a TWA?

For those of you who don’t know, TWA stands for “Teeny Weeny Afro.” It normally describes natural hair that is about ½ to 1-inch long, typically describing the post “big chop” style. This is normally the most annoying stage for most naturals because you can’t really do anything with it. It’s kind of just there. But that doesn’t mean it’s pointless or as plain as it sounds.

The biggest question that I’ve gotten would have to be, “how long does the TWA stage last?” Honestly, there’s no set time frame on how long you’ll have to withstand the TWA, but you can definitely have some fun with it! The most common time frame for TWA’s is anywhere from 1-2 years, maybe. I know that sounds like forever, but it goes by faster than you think. And when you’re dealing with the dreaded shrinkage, it may feel like you’re still in the TWA phase when in fact your shrinkage doesn’t reflect your hair’s true length.

The TWA phase can be a tedious one. Your hair is just starting to come into its own, and as it’s adapting, your hair continues to grow, your curl pattern can change as well, and sometimes that can mean different struggles and new findings when it comes to styling your new TWA. Some do absolutely nothing and just let their hair do its thing, some try their hand at a two-strand twist-out.

I know exactly what that feels like. For the first year or so of my TWA, I didn’t know what to do. I had previously become so used to styling my hair on an everyday basis, so when this came along I didn’t know how to not style it. I couldn’t style it! I barely had two inches of hair. That didn’t stop me from trying though.

My advice to anyone thinking of big chopping, or maybe you already have, just have fun. Don’t grow accustomed to one look or one curl pattern, because believe me, you’ll get used to seeing and styling a certain texture or curl pattern and then you’ll wake up one day with something completely different. A new struggle. Don’t let this discourage you because it can be a lot of fun…it IS a lot of fun. But it takes your patience to new levels for sure.

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5 Reasons to Go Natural

As African American queens, we have all had a specific thought run across our minds; “Should I go natural?”. Some of us have accomplished, attempted, or kept it as a thought. If you fit into the “attempted” or “kept it as a thought” category, this post is specifically for you! As far as my accomplished sistas, don’t worry, if you need some reassurance, this is for you too!

 

Here are 5 amazing reasons why you should go natural:

 

  1. Self Acceptance

First things first, accepting your natural hair is not as easy as it may sound for everyone. However, I can almost promise you that it is a beautiful experience. Accepting and going through the transition stage can be a pain but it is super interesting to see what your hair transforms into! You would almost think your hair is consistently playing the “she loves me, she loves me not” game, as much as you may switch from loving your hair one day and hating it the next! However, with time you learn to feel liberated! You feel free from trying to impress and fit in with society.

 

  1. Versatility

What is more fun than having more options? Perhaps nothing! Being a natural allows you to have so many style options. I have nothing against relaxers. However, you don’t get to experience anything other than straight hair. When you’re natural, you can rock the bush, afro, puffs, twists, and don’t get me started on the protective styles! There are endless to choose from! With that being said, versatility allows you to stay interested in your hair!

 

  1. Healthier

It is always better to take the healthier route! Going natural is the healthiest option to choose for your hair. Harsh chemicals can damage the hair now or later, sometimes both! Healthy hair will only allow your strands to flourish like a pretty flower.  No more damage from hair glue or heat!  You are now in your natural state and it feels so good!

 

  1. Debunks European and Western standards

In the past years, straight hair was the only hair accepted in society.  Straight hair was known to be the hairstyle and texture to give you beauty and poise.  Kinky and coily hair was known as unprofessional and inappropriate.  However, you don’t have to worry about your hair getting ruined in the rain because you have a weave or a relaxer in your hair.  Natural hair is becoming more and more visible in today’s society.  Companies want to be apart of the movement. The fashion industry is becoming more supportive of the movement too! Going natural allows you to support and expand on what is defined as the “beauty standard”.  

 

  1. Unique and Special

Being natural is so unique and special. Not only to you, but to other people as well! You could be walking down the street and all eyes will be on your hair! You will get questions on what you do to your hair, what products you use, and some people may even ask to touch your hair! That is how special and interesting natural hair really is! Natural hair is subconsciously praised believe it or not.  Natural hair has a wide range of textures, which is another reason why it is so special and interesting.   

So ladies, I hope these five reasons convinced, and reassured your thoughts on going natural!

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Product Spotlight: EDEN BodyWorks

As a black girl going through the whirlwind of emotions when starting your natural hair journey, our first question we ask ourselves is, “What products should I try for my curls?” or “Will this product work for my texture?” We go from Cantu to Creme of Nature to Curls, Miss Jessie’s and many more to achieve those beautiful braid-outs and trendy twist outs but to complete this look we need the one essential product that every curly girl should have: a to-die-for edge control.

EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Control Edge Gel has my heart wrapped. During my journey, I recently stumbled upon this gem when looking for a gel that would lay and SLAY my edges and honey, this product will lay your edges to the edge GOD. When I first opened the product, I was skeptical about how much would be in the jar but there are about 6 ounces worth of product that can be used for about 6 months to a year. This product has a very lightweight consistency and doesn’t cause your hair to flake like snow around the edge of your hair.

Trust me, I wouldn’t want for you to look like Santa dusted his snowy jacket off on your edges girl, because I understand how bad that can be. Trust me, this product will have the maximum hold you need for the entire day.

When I first started using this product, I was shocked that it gave me the maximum hold I needed for the day. I probably had to reapply it once more after being in the sun all day but understand that sweat absorbs products so if you are a person who perspires a lot, you may have to reapply product. The good thing about this is, the product retails between $8.45-9 and at $8.75 plus shipping and handling on Amazon.com and is also available in different sizes if you don’t want to splurge on the big jar for your first try. You could also buy the big size for day to day purposes and the smaller size for travel. On the go products are a must when going through your natural hair journey and of course, edge control is too.

It is very important to also disclaim, this product was made without sulfates, dyes, parabens, mineral oils such as petroleum. Products with these chemicals can cause breakage to your hair follicles and thinning as well. It is very important that you read more about the pros and cons of chemicals in your products prior to starting your natural hair journey. After months of achieving those beautiful curls, you want to make sure you’re using products with ingredients that will help you maintain those curls.

For all of my animal lovers, this product is cruelty free and has not been tested on animals. So just a few reminders when choosing your to-die-for edge control, always check for chemicals, never splurge on $13 edge control, always purchase a travel size for on the go, purchase a silk/satin scarf from your local beauty supply store, and bam! Beautiful curls and edges that slay!

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Curly Hair 101: How to Tell the Health of Your Natural Hair

As curly girls, we know the amount of time that goes into maintaining and growing our natural hair. But are we taking care of our coils as best as possible, or are we doing the bare minimum because we know how tedious #WashDay can be? Check out the four indicators of healthy natural hair, and I promise you’ll never skip a deep conditioning treatment again!

1. Shrinkage

Your hair’s ability to draw itself in or “shrink up” as we call it, shows just how healthy your curls are. Seeing as though it hides our true length, shrinkage has proven to be one of the most annoying things for curly girls. But don’t worry too much, textured hair that shrinks up proves that your hair is at its strongest and most moisturized. Help to ensure the continued health of your hair with a weekly deep conditioning treatment to seal in moisture!

2. Elasticity

Elasticity or the “stretch” in our curls is closely related to the keratin in our hair. Think of healthy natural hair as a brand new scrunchie or rubber band; you can pull it as far as it will go and it still bounces back into its original position. On the contrary, unhealthy coils tend to be and look more lifeless, break easily, and struggle to spring back, if they do at all. Want to see if your curls can withstand the test? Gently tug on a strand or two. Do they bounce back into formation, break off, or struggle to get that curl back?

3. Shine

Shiny hair is normally hair that has a lower porosity and easily retains moisture. Healthy natural hair will shine without the help of oils and sprays because the shine comes from within. The next time you have the dreaded #WashDay, put your hair to the test by taking a curl and patting it dry (with a t-shirt or microfiber towel of course). Is it dull and lifeless, or springy and full of shine?

4. Fullness

The true fullness and thickness of natural hair can sometimes be a little hard to see, being that every curl is different and we tend to use so many different products, which can manipulate the look of volume in our hair. For example, certain cream based products can wear the hair down, making it look thinner. Naturally, fuller hair tends to “clump” together when it is combed or brushed. The best way to determine the fullness (or lack thereof) of your natural hair is to look at it in it’s natural, product-free, unaltered state.

How do you maintain the health of YOUR hair?

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Youtuber Spotlight: Queens & Curls

Our very own president of UC’s chapter of Curly in College has her own youtube channel. Keianna, who goes under the name “Queens & Curls,” is an expert in all things natural hair related. In her latest video, which is seen above, she shows us how she uses Curls products to achieve a three strand twist out. Her other videos include tutorials, her favorite products to use, and a wash routine.

Curly in College will be sharing her videos here on the blog, but in the meantime, check out Queens & Curls for yourself, and be sure to like, subscribe, and leave a comment if you like what you see.

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Life After the Protective Style

If you have ever worn a protective style, wigs, Marley twists, box braids, etc., then you should know that bittersweet feeling of taking off the wig or taking out the twists or braids.

This is a bittersweet moment because hopefully you loved wearing your protective style and it made you feel different and you knew your hair was

protected and growing, and that’s the “sweet” part. The “bitter” part comes in when you realize you have to spends hours taking out your extensions and possibly have to go back to styling your hair every day.

Just because it is a bittersweet task, doesn’t mean you should never want to wear protective styles or you should leave your protective style in a ridiculously long time, it just means you have to be mentally prepared when you are getting ready to take out your braids or twists.

Why do you have to be mentally prepared, you ask? Because a lot of questions run through your head, just like they ran through mine when I took out my Marley twists this past Sunday.

Questions like:

Before and After

“What if I don’t look as pretty with my braids/twists out?”

“Am I still going to like my natural hair when I take them out?”
“What if my hair didn’t grow as much as I wanted it to?”
“Is it possible that I damaged my hair?”
“Should I get another protective style right away?”

And many, many, more, but these are just a few thoughts that ran through my mind. Here is where the mental preparedness comes in…you have to be able to combat those semi-negative questions with uplifting and positive answers like the ones listed below.

First question response: You have to know you look beautiful with or without your protective style.

Second question response: You should always love your natural hair, no matter the texture, length, etc. Your natural hair is amazing!

Third question response: You have to remember that your hair will grow. Don’t get too caught up in length where you start neglecting health. Healthy hair will grow no matter what.

Fourth question response: If you know that you moisturized and conditioned your scalp and hair while it was under your protective style, then you have nothing to worry about! You hair is not damaged at all.

Fifth question response: You shouldn’t get a protective style right away, especially not if you want to do it because you feel like you don’t look as good while wearing your natural hair. Give your hair a break and re-embrace your own hair!

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Dress for Success…Stylishly!

Don’t ever think that you can’t look professional while looking stylish! Just because a pantsuit, slacks and a button up, or a business-like dress is required in a workplace, does not mean you have to lose your sense of style. I am a fashion rebel, so I will still look professional and presentable, but I will make sure my personality shines through as well.

Neutral colors such as gray, brown, and black are popular colors in the business world because they are calmer than bold prints and bright colors. I believe that you can wear a bold print or a bright color and still look professional; I do it all the time!

If you are a colorful person, like me, you might want to wear a sunny yellow blazer to an interview. Pair that yellow blazer with a black sheath or shift dress, and the outfit looks classy, professional, and still has your personal touch.
Accessories are another great way to turn your business attire from “Plain Jane” to “Stylish Sue!” One of my favorite ways to accessorize my professional look is with a clutch handbag.

A clutch is usually a tiny bag that is small enough to fit in your hand or under your arm. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and they add chicness to an already super sleek and sophisticated outfit.

Businesses that encourage creativity, will probably want you to dress modern, trendy, and colorful. Figuring out what not to wear in a business environment, is a lot easier than figuring out what to wear.

Anything that you wouldn’t want your granny, mother, or pastor seeing you wearing, you probably shouldn’t wear it to work or to an interview.

Once you know you personality and what colors make you feel the most confident, you can easily include those colors into your professional looks. I have a colorful personality, so it is easy for me to add my personality into what I wear because I just add color.

Whatever your personality is, just remember to create outfits that make you feel beautiful and confident. Whenever you need some inspiration about how to dress in the business world, think about this phrase, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

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Protective Styling 101

Recently I decided to jump aboard the protective style train. This was my first time getting any type of extensions in my hair.DSC_0015~2

I did a lot of research on Pinterest and Google to find the right protective style for me. I decided to go with Marley twists. It was definitely a good decision!

What is protective styling?

Protective styling is when you give your hair a 1-2 month break from styling. You won’t be able to constantly have your hands in your hair because it will be under a protective style, which is a good thing. You can keep your hair in twists, braids, or even under a natural wig.

What do some styles look like?
protective styles
How do you take care of your protective style?

Some basic items you need to wrap your hair at night are a satin bonnet and satin scarf. To moisturize your hair you can use the LOC method.
Liquid– mix water, a leave in conditioner, and a cream moisturizer in a spray bottle and spritz on hair daily
Oil– use any type of oil (castor, jojoba, coconut, etc.) to moisturize your scalp
Cream– use styling cream (Shea moisture is my preference!) to keep the scalp and hair soft and beautiful

Why should you try protective styling?

1) It gives your natural hair a much needed rest
2) Allows you to try out a totally new look
3) Wearing protective styles helps your hair grow and retain length

Don’t be scared to step outside of the box and try out a protective style. Look at images online and watch YouTube videos to get hair inspiration.

You can also ask other natural girls you know for advice on ones they tried out. Just go for it and rock your new hair!

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