LaToya’s Natural Hair Journey

In November of 2013 I received my last relaxer. I did not realize it would be my last until a feeling of guilt came over me as my hair dresser applied the chemical to the very intriguing waves that had started springing out of my scalp. I felt bad for my natural roots. I felt like I was denying them or like I wasn’t giving them a chance.

As I sat in that chair I decided that it would be my last relaxer. I was going to give the “natural” thing I try. Mind you, before I made this decision, I was that girl that declared I would never go natural and would continue to use relaxers until they stopped manufacturing them.

My relaxed hair: Dec. 2013
My relaxed hair: Dec. 2013

I had a negative opinion of my natural hair because I didn’t like my hair when I was younger. I didn’t understand why it didn’t lay flat like the other girls in school. I guess I felt too different. I viewed my hair as ugly and not beautiful. When I was in 7th grade my mom allowed me to get a relaxer. I continued to relax my hair up until my sophomore year of college, November of 2013.

I decided that I would transition instead of doing the BIG CHOP. I wasn’t comfortable with having super short hair. My plan was to transition for two years but just after the one year mark, it became too difficult for me. I was wearing weaves or braids throughout the majority of my transition, but I became tired of that. I wanted to have my own hair out. I wanted to feel my own scalp.

So around the year and four months mark I tried to wear my hair out, but it just did not look right. My roots were super thick and my ends were pretty much see-through. It was not a cute look. So I decided when the semester came to an end, I would do my big chop, or transitioning chop, and I would finally be completely natural.

Leading up to the day, I was really excited but super nervous. I did not know how I was going to look with shorter hair. I had no idea what my hair texture would be, but I was determined to learn to love it.

In May of 2015, I invited some friends over and we had a Transitioning Chop Party! I ordered pizza and we played music. I think this was the best way for me to shake my nerves and to celebrate this turning point in my life.

Before big chop vs. after big chop
Before big chop vs. after big chop

And it turns out, I loved my hair! I was so surprised to see curls on my head. I had no idea that my hair was curly. It’s weird to think you’re 21 years old, and you are just discovering what your hair looks like.

That’s why I think this natural hair movement is so important. Although everyone has the right to wear their hair in a way that makes them feel beautiful and confident, I think it is important that we all learn to love and embrace the hair we were born with. There is only one you and we are all unique in our own way. So embrace every part of you.

It has been 5 months since my big chop and I can still say that I love my hair. My hair is not like anyone else. My curls are just for me and I love them!

Photo by Siu's View. www.siusview.com.
Photo by Siu’s View. www.siusview.com.

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DIY Halloween Costumes Straight from Your Closet

Halloween is a day with a different definition for everyone. There’s the person who absolutely hates the holiday and the scary ghouls that come along with it. Next, you have the person who moderately tolerates it but decides to stay home to “hand out candy to the kids” but in reality will eat said candy while enjoying old Disney Channel Halloween movies. Finally, you have the person who goes all out for Halloween. Whether you fit into any of these categories or you just need some costume inspiration but your wallet is slacking, no worries.

For the Halloween lover on a budget, look no further than your closet. Digging into my own closet, I was able to come up with three costumes made up of staple pieces from my closet. If you don’t have the exact piece, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something similar in your own closet.

Costume One: An American In Paris

AIP1

Sweater + Skirt: Forever 21, Flats: Boohoo.com, Bread from BJ’s

You’re probably thinking “Michaela what even is this costume?” but hear me out! The Parisian stereotype of high neck sweaters, berets, neck scarves, and a baguette in hand is somewhat embodied in this costume. As an American in Paris and not a Parisian in Paris though, you’re going to fail at emulating that stereotype. In fact, I broke it so hard that I substituted a baguette for a loaf of whole wheat bread (gotta stay health conscious people). Granted, if you don’t want people questioning why you’re holding a loaf of bread all night, just hit up your local thrift store and try to find a beret. If you don’t like answering the same question over and over again, this costume probably isn’t for you.

Costume Two: Where’s Waldo?

ww1

Sweater: Shein.com, Jeans: Forever 21, Slip On Sneakers: Vans

Everybody’s favorite hidden guy! This costume is really a no brainer. If you don’t wear prescription glasses like myself, I would recommend finding an old pair of big sunglasses you no longer wear and punching out the shades. Glasses or no glasses, people are bound to know who you are already just from your sweater alone. A simple pair of jeans and any pair of basic sneakers and you’re good to go! Just remember to go AWOL a bunch of times during the night to remind your friends just what being Waldo is all about.

Costume Three: Rosie the Riveter

RTR1

Denim Top + Jeans: Topshop, Boots: Doc Martens, Bandana: C/O Joy Taylor

An American icon, Rosie the Riveter embodies the idea that women are capable of doing a man’s job. A simple denim on denim ensemble plus some combat boots and you’re ready to get down to the nitty gritty at the factory. Bandanas can be purchased at any craft store usually for $1. Honestly, why wouldn’t you choose this costume? Beyonce was also Rosie the Riveter for Halloween one year. You’d be one step closer to Queen B. Is that not everyone’s goal?! But aside from that, make sure to spread the message that yes, we CAN do it.

Now that you’ve seen these DIY costumes, put down the cat ears you’ve been wearing for the last 3 years and put your own twist on these for Halloween. A huge thank you to my friend Joy Taylor for photographing me and lending me her bandana without which the beloved Rosie the Riveter costume would have been incomplete. Have a great day and stay inspired!

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Winterize Your Hair Regimen

As the temperatures cool, leaves change colors, and shorts and tanks are substituted for jumpers and jeans, experienced naturalistas everywhere are gearing up for their cold-weather hair regimens. We all know that the cold weather makes our skin look dry and lack-lustre, but did you know that a similar phenomenon happens with our hair? To be quite honest, combating dry, dull hair in the winter is easy. The secret? Moisture.

Moisturizing the hair always seems more of a chore than a necessity, because let’s face it, laziness is too real and sometimes our hair just doesn’t want to retain moisture due to either the elements, color treatments, heat damage, or even wrong product usage.

Unfortunately, figuring out a regimen with products that work is the hardest part, however, follow these tips to winterize your hair regimen on a budget.

STEP 1: Cleansing the hair
Now whether this is with a co-wash once a week and a shampoo once a month (or any other washing method), what I can say is that you want to reach for shampoos, conditioners, and co-washes that are free of sulfates and parabens. Sulfates and parabens have a tendency to strip (or even over strip) the hair of its natural oils causing the hair to feel even drier and aid in breakage.

Instead, reach for those that have moisturizing agents in them. Some inexpensive products to try that I like are Suave Naturals Almond and Shea Butter Shampoo and Conditioner (retails for under $3), Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Shampoo & Conditioner (retails for under $4), As I Am Coconut Cowash (retails for about $7), Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea Cowash (retails for about $9), and Organix Coconut Milk S/C or Moraccan Argon Oil S/C (retails under $8).

STEP 2: Deep Conditioning
This is the most fun part because creativity really comes in handy. A good deep condition to the hair really penetrates and rejuvenates dry, brittle, or otherwise “thirsty” strands. The best part about this is you can find ingredients to make your own in your kitchen, and tailor your recipe to what your hair needs. A simple recipe for a deep conditioner with all the benefits is as follows:
2 parts conditioner (acts as the base, adds slip)
3 Tbs. Mayonnaise (gives your hair a protein boost)
1.5 Tbs. Honey (is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to your hair)
3 tsp. Oil (moisturizing/sealing agent)
Egg (gives your hair a protein boost)

TIP 1: Hot Oil Treatment
I know that this can sound a little jaded, but doing a hot oil treatment gives your hair that extra boost of moisture-locking protection. If you do this before the shampoo, is disallows the shampoo to strip too much oil from the hair, and similarly, if done after the shampoo, it allows you to seal in any moisture that the conditioner left behind.

TIP 2: Steaming
Avoid that shower cap! When you shower, throw your hair up into a bun and allow the steam to work its magic. This probably sounds the most bizarre, but this little step does wonders. Steam is moist heat as opposed to dry heat and creates a humid environment for the hair, which is optimal for the absorption of moisture. It also promotes elasticity and strength, while enhancing your curl pattern by promoting clumping without sacrificing volume, and the best part is, it is completely free!

STEP 3: Moisturizing
This step is the most crucial. There are different methods to try, so finding a method and products that work for you will take trial and error, but what I can suggest is doing a method that is referred to as the L.O.C method (Leave-in, Oil, Cream). Essentially, you want to use a leave-in conditioner, oil of your choosing or a butter like shea or mango butter, and a creamy styler or gel (if you would like). During the colder months, it is almost imperative to use a thicker moisturizer no matter you hair texture. This will seal in the moisture and really keep your hair soft.
Some inexpensive leave-ins are Cantu Shea Butter (< $5), Giovanni’s Direct Leave In (< $6), and Elasta QP Leave In (< $5). As for the oils, any oil that works well with your hair is fine.

TIP 3: Protective Styling
Wearing your hair in a protective style shields your ends — and whatever else is protected — from the biting winds and chilly atmosphere. Wearing your hair in low-manipulation styles not only allows your hair to take a break, but it also aids in length retention. A style can be so varied too from crochet braids, to weaves, wigs, twists/braids, up-dos and sleek buns, the possibilities are endless.

Have fun with your hair, but don’t forget to moisturize!

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