In Other News, My Brain is Showing :(

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My girl F has two adorable baby sisters with long, luscious naturally kinky locks. Let’s call them T & M. Right from babyhood, they’ve always had full heads. F’s hair isn’t as abundant as theirs, and the hair at the temples is a little sparse, but this may also be genetic. So one day last year, T observed the hair there. And she asked F very very seriously- What is that? Is that your brain? LOL! It’s a standing joke between us now, but on a more serious note. My own brain is showing. 😦

And I’m very upset. *rolling on the floor, not laughing*

I think I’ve been taking my edges for granted. I hated them for most of junior secondary school because sometimes, it was as if they wanted to touch my eyebrows. LOL weird, probably an exaggeration, but my edges were abundant. Though as fragile as anyone else’s, they always grew back.

I wore kinky twists for all four weeks in April and I lost a lot of hair at the edges which was really surprising because the hair wasn’t made tight or styled uncomfortably. I ignored this, thinking my edges would bounce back naturally as usual, but they haven’t. Now, May- June- July- August… my edges are thin, my Scalp is still shining in space meant to be obscured by my wild edges, my brain is still threatening to show.

Help is in a bottle, thankfully, in the form of Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I participated in a Castor Oil challenge on Kinky Curly Coily Me last year, and after it, I was truly convinced of the healing, conditioning and growth stimulating qualities of castor oil, or as I prefer it, JBCO. More about Castor oil here. I always recommend Castor Oil to people having trouble with their edges, and it’s time for me to take my own advice. At least 3 times a week, I will be massaging my hairline with Castor Oil. Actually, I think I’m going to extend the TLC to my entire head, by entering the Fall Castor Oil Challenge on Kinky Curly Coily Me.

I’m also going to leave my edges out of my styling plans. Hopefully, my edges will be revived soon! Please pay attention to your edges ladies. Stay woke!

Are you struggling with any hair issues right now? Misery loves company! 😉 lol

Love,

AB,

xx

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I Don’t Like My Hair

As I shared in this post, I got my hair done recently. I bounced out of the salon feeling very happy. I got into the car and Mr. E (my mother’s driver) said “ You don finish?” (Have you finished?) Ah. He had waited for more than 4 hours, how could he seriously be asking me that? So I said, “Ah ah, Mr. Emmanuel. Since that time? Do I look like I never finish?” And he replied, “Ehhhn, e look like say you never start.” (It looks like you haven’t started) Sigh. Did it sting? I’m not sure, but Mr. E is my homie and he’s 58 years old anyway.

Later in the day, I bumped into some guy that looked pretty familiar. We talked for a bit… small talk, exchanged names for the first  time, and then this familiar stranger (that turned out to be a classmate from Law school) said, “Yes, I know you. You have this really tall friend and you always had this shaggy…” I blinked. He continued, “…this shaggy hair do. I’ve never seen you like this with your hair done.”

At least he acknowledged my hair was done. But pause. My ‘fro? The one I would spend all of or more than 20 minutes combing? The same combing that I didn’t realise cost me a lot of length I could have retained if I knew better? That ‘fro was what this guy was referring to as… S H A G G Y?

me and my SHAGGY fro. :) NLS, February 2014.

me and my SHAGGY fro. NLS, February 2013.

Okay, I didn’t realise I was mad yet. After this encounter, I sent the mister photos of my new hair; one of the left side, one of the right, and then he decided to make a joke. No, sir! Wrong timing! It’s usually all fun and games, but I was sensitive from all the lowkey insults and I flipped. It escalated in little time to a small fight.

After having some time to think, I realised he wasn’t insulting my hair. If I wasn’t already burnt by the comments I’d been getting, especially as I thought my hair was all that and more, I wouldn’t have been so defensive. I would have seen that he was teasing me in his usual manner.

By the next day, I was in a state of zen, Dani Alves to the hair haters. My mom saying “Is this the hair? You paid money for this thing? Is this what you travelled all the way to Dolphin to do?” did not pinch me in the slightest. Balance had been restored.

I may not be team wash-n-go, but I LOVE my kinky coily fro!! ^__^

I may not be team wash-n-go, but I LOVE my kinky coily fro!! ^__^

That first day, though, got me thinking about the time on Curly Nikki, when I posted a comment about spending time combing my hair to look perfect (read as acceptable in a formal black/white environment). I got a bunch of replies, mostly people telling me I was living for others and that I needed to do me. Message received. But that’s not exactly how they put it. In some cases, the tone was almost accusatory. I know that their scolding would go into second gear if they heard that oh, I felt offended, a little angry even, at negative comments on my hair.

In this post on NikkiSho’s blog, she went over her hair journey; the things she likes and the things she doesn’t, asking for help with her issues. Someone came out of the blue, ‘Anonymous’ of course, accusing her of the usual. Haba.

nikkisho

Na wa!

Many times, in natural hair forums or discussions, I observe that there is this “All or Nothing” mentality. Probably because the greater part of the black race views natural hair as stressful (I maintain that it isn’t), naturalistas feel like we have to show that everything is peachy. Some people make it look like you aren’t allowed to complain. And I don’t get that.

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to like them all the time and I think the same thing applies to hair. It’s a journey, it’s a process. I LOVE my hair, you guys know I do, but does this mean I can’t complain? NO.

I understand that hair has always been a hot topic, but it’s still a part of the body. I love my body, but it was a tough journey for me in my mid-teens to get here. And even now, I don’t like my nose all the time. Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it just spreads. I don’t like that my eyes often look very tired. I’m not interested in getting a nose job even if it’s free & painless, but if I’m selecting a profile photo, I definitely don’t want the one where my nose and eyes are looking “somehow”. This is not your cue to preach to me about latent self-hate. If you like, quote Martin Luther King. NAH.

Insecurities. We all have them. But somehow, we naturalistas make it look like hair is immune from these feelings. You can encourage someone with positive energy, without coming off like you’re scolding.

I look forward to Washdays. I enjoy the time I take to baby my hair, but when I get a real job, and start working 12 hours a day, I know days will come when I’ll resent wash day.

I’m in love with my coils. I’m in recovery from hand-in-hair syndrome (70%), but sometimes my hair can be like a crying baby. Those times, I need to protective style to give me peace. I need someone else to cater to it, lest I cut it off.

I look at pictures like this (below) sometimes- and I’m like dang. My front hair too is about the same length when stretched, but look at her volume!

3c shrinkage

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to sometimes wish you had a curlier or more kinky texture, a faster growth rate, different hair porosity or maybe thicker hair if your hair is fine, as long as you understand why your hair is the way it is, and you accept that what you’ve got is beautiful. If you don’t love it yet, just remind yourself that as with good relationships, your feelings for your hair will grow. On this journey, I’ve learnt to accept and appreciate my own hair for all it can and cannot do. This appreciation is way deeper now than it was a year ago, cannot even compare to when I was transitioning! Just because I’m in this happy place doesn’t mean I must shove it down someone else’s throat.

Would you believe me if I told you that Curly Nikki did not like her hair for many many years? O_o It took years, and plenty of support from her boyfriend (now husband), for her to see her hair through the right glasses. She has since become a great source of natural hair info and inspiration for millions of women worldwide. Her hair story is over here.

This hair thing is a very personal journey. It is mostly rewarding with many ups, but let’s not forget there are downs too. With love and gentle encouragement, you can get another person to see the beauty in her hair.

My hair is mine, I do it for me. I know who I am. I LOVE my hair, but I don’t like it ALL the time. And in those moments, I reserve the right to complain, to feel how I want to feel.

Welp. This has been a long rambling rant. I hope you get my message. If there’s anything you don’t like about your hair, anything you find or found yourself sometimes wishing you could change (right now or in the past), feel free to share in the comments. No judgment here! 🙂

Love,

AB,

xx

P.S. For more hair rants, whining and D’OH moments, see the Hair Blues category 🙂

For An Optimist, I Can Be Pretty Pessimistic

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Hellurrr!

As you know, I’m wearing Finger coils at the moment and I love them! This is a little funny because I was SO ready to give up on all of my three attempts. I started on Saturday as I watched Pocahontas. At the end of the movie, I hadn’t achieved much :/

Sunday, I loosened Saturday’s work because I wanted to wet my whole head. I figured spraying would be too much work when I could just rinse it. But guess what? My roommate made jollof rice and I ate too much and couldn’t achieve much after that.

My negative goggles were proper thick last weekend shaaaa! I just couldn’t see any good coming out of what I was doing. To my eyes, my coils were too poofy, too rough, not pretty. The hair itself was looking dull to me, like it wasn’t dark enough, like it had no shine. I was whining, wondering if all the stress was worth it, but my roommate kept encouraging me (thank you, F!!) So Monday I stayed home and finally finished the work.

On Tuesday when I woke up, I actually wasn’t sure I could make it to work (real vain, I know), but after a while, I decided I would risk it, pulling out my makeup bag for morale support. Who else does this? I don’t usually wear makeup to work, it’s much too hot! But I stepped into the light (literally), looked in the mirror, and saw that I didn’t NEED makeup to pick me up. My hair was cute, not bad at all for a first attempt, I was good to go! AND my hair was dark and lovely and shiny!

Up close

Yes indeed!

How did I not see that? I really wonder what was happening over the weekend!

I’m happy I kept going. One more style I like, one more style I’ve learnt to do!! Yay!

Today’s lesson, kids: Don’t let doubt and negativity hold you back from trying something new in life or hair. Don’t obsess about being perfect, just keep going, Keep Moving Forward!! 🙂

Yours truly was featured on Queen of Kinks over at NenoNatural this week! Please go check it out here, thank you 🙂

Love & Lots of Positivity,

AB

xx

And oh, just in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new page on the blog- Need Help? FAQs. I’d like to know your thoughts, please and thank you. 🙂

Curl Undefined

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Okay, so I’ve been a hermit for most of September (SO not complaining). What this means for my hair is that between washes, it’s in chunky twists, as big as I can manage at this length- which makes about 15 twists, maybe more. But when I have to leave the house, if I don’t feel like wearing a scarf, the fro comes out to play.

I spend an average of 20 minutes in the process of preparing my very kinky-coily fro for the world, which is really just how long I can take till my arm starts to complain. At this point, I set the comb down and start patting. I do appreciate a well-combed fro fluffed to perfection but on casual days, I don’t always want it looking “perfect.” At its best, there’s only so much my hair can take. Going the extra mile to comb to the accepted standard leaves me with a lot of hair on the floor. Enough to make me wonder if it’s worth it. I try to get it like that anyway, because I don’t want anyone asking me if I’ve combed my hair.

I was going to see a friend last week and after being in front of the mirror for say, 10 minutes, I thought I was ready for the world. Effortless fro, give dem! I was barely out the door when Mr. E asked “Why didn’t you comb your hair?”

I paused. This wasn’t like my mom’s carefully placed suggestions like “You didn’t comb the back or the side of your hair well, should I help you comb it?” His tone was almost accusatory. Ha! I thought about it and at first I was like pleaaaase. *insert mental eye roll* but Mr.E / Public perception won and I went back in for twenty minutes to further comb and tease le fro. World-1. AB- 0.

I’ve noticed that people love a perfect fro. Even when perfectly combed, the shape of your fro can disqualify you. My brother for instance, likes fros that stretch sideways but does not like fros that are heavy on top. O_o

With natural hair, it is too easy for people to accuse you of looking unkempt. Anything less than perfect is cause for alarm or concern or side-eyes. And this isn’t just non-naturals.

So many naturals (both those with some natural curl definition and those without) are on the quest for the perfect curl definition and of course, with that, gats have frizz control. Which is okay I guess (because yes, you aren’t hurting anybody), but some of us actually happen to like frizz (and shrinkage!) I like a perfect fro too, but sometimes, I just want it looking a little less… perfect. It’s like the general idea is: your hair is already naturally at a quarter to scattered o’clock, so try ehn, to keep it as close to perfect as possible. Solange steps out with an “imperfect” fro and it’s almost guaranteed to get natural hair forums and comments sections buzzing, some people even going as far as accusing her of not representing. Not representing what or whom, in fact? Even babies aren’t left out of this obsession with “perfect” hair. If Mama Bey was paid a dollar every time people had a go at Blue Ivy’s hair…

This is not a rant. I’m not waiting on the world to change. *Kanye Shrug* The Natural Hair Journey is a very personal one and there’s no other way. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not think the only way to wear an Afro is a perfectly shaped O. The next time I’m torn between myself and the world, I hope I win.

Now, for some fro inspiration:

SolangeKnowlesandAlanenjoyadateinNewYork

10th Annual FYF Music Festival - Day 2

Over to you. How do you like your fro?

Till next time,

Love,

AB

xx

Hair Blues- Matting.

The 3LRChallenge is still on. Please tell me you still remember what this is. A 3-month long challenge towards a healthier body and healthier hair (more specifically, length retention) with a focus on 3 areas- nutrition, hair and exercise. The month of August is gone now, so if you haven’t been keeping up at all, don’t be discouraged, we’ve got September and October to be good! 😀

How have I been doing?

I haven’t been dedicated this far, I admit- my excuse remains the intensity of school work and exams. (yawn) It was all good in the beginning but after the first week or two, I slacked. Slacked? I let go. Life had to get in the way but now that all has been said and done, I’m ready to get back on. I will keep you posted on my efforts and progress from now on because as I said before, accountability is important in these challenges.

Protective styling is an important part of this challenge. The rules say Protective styles should be kept in for not less than 2 weeks and not more than 4. Are you wondering why? If you are, let me explain.

The whole point of Protective styling is to prevent you from manipulating your hair. This is particularly necessary for length retention because if your hair is in a low-manipulation style, there is little tension and little exposure and this translates to little breakage. If you’re going to see any improvement in the Length retention department, it only makes sense that your Protective style should be around long enough to matter.

How long is too long?
Three weeks seems ideal. A month looks just about right.

Putting your hair to rest does not mean that you should neglect it or totally forget it exists. When you have a Protective style in for a long time (esp when you’ve got extensions), from my experience, it is easier to get lazy and forget it.

Moisturising is actually more tedious for me when I have extensions in. Here’s my routine for moisturising with extensions in. I did moisturise at least 2 times a week sha. That much, I did.

MATTING IS REAL.
Here’s a photo of my hair one time, taken after a wash. I’d just taken out my kinky twists.

I don’t know if you can notice from this picture, but most of my hair did look like locs just ready to happen. Strands all clumped and meshed together, I had to do some MAJOR detangling. I’d only had the twists in for 2 weeks!

I took this photo in March or so, I made this observation, yet in my infinite wisdom, I decided to go for the long haul. I had kinky twists in for 7 weeks.

Technically, the twists were in for 4 weeks of the Challenge, so I wasn’t breaking any rules. I lawyered myself into matting and breakage.

Yeesh. From week 2, my hair started matting real bad. And breaking. I had to take out almost all the braids along my hairline to ensure that I still had a hairline. And a few at the back too. After I took the extensions out (Still talking about hairline area), I noticed that my hair was strongly meshed together.

Even with the help of some leave-in conditioner and careful finger detangling, I still lost a significant amount of hair. The twisting technique sef, was so teeeek. So tight that it got real tricky for a twist or two and I actually had to just cut them off, along with my hair.

Why didn’t I just take the damn thing off, you say?
1. No time. Really, I felt like 24 hours in a day was not enough.
2. I only returned to school with my spray bottle and bottle of JBCO. I had no conditioner, no leave-in, no comb, nothing.

Lessons learnt:
1. I will not again leave my protective style in for too long.
2. My hair matts easily in kinky twists.
3. I will not travel for a long period without the basics.

I go home tomorrow morning and I’m definitely taking the kinky twists out as soon as I’m home. I hope all the detangling doesn’t make me cry. 😥

Have you had a similar experience with your hair? Or anything else you knew not to do but you did anyway?

Till next time,

Love,

AB

x