Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why I Went Natural

There isn't a big deep story behind why I went natural or how I came to love hair so much. The latter was pretty much a gradual process and the former was a decision made after a few small incidences.

In 2010, my freshman year of college, and even a little before then in HS, I always kinda wanted texture to my hair to make it look girly and less strict I guess, but it was hardly even a thought. I probably wondered about it maybe 3 times a year lol. And then during spring semester of my freshman year, I went to this salon to get my hair blown out for my birthday. It was about 5-6 months since my last relaxer so I was nervous about how straight she's be able to get it (who wants puffy hair on their bday). So I warned her my hair was extremely nappy so it might be difficult to get straight, and she was like, "your hair is fine! And your new growth is very manageable." So long story short, she did an EXCEPTIONAL job on my hair. While she was doing it she mentioned a few times that I should think about going natural and I was like, "ehh... maybe.. But I really don't want short hair.." And she opened me up to so many options! She told me I didn't have to cut my hair short, I could grow out my relaxer and cut it off as my natural hair gets longer and I was sold once she turned me around to the mirror and I seen how soft and straight my hair was. My thought process at the moment was that, I can grow out my relaxer and just wear my natural hair straight, or in that curly bun I always wanted.

That was the first time I actually really considered going natural but still, it was just a thought. I was REALLY sold on the idea a few weeks later after watching an episode of Tyra. The episode was about this one woman who had relaxed hair but was thinking about going natural but she couldn't decide whether its worth it or not to make such a big change. So Tyra got together a panel of black woman, half of them relaxed and half natural, and they both began giving their reasons why she should either stay relaxed or go natural. As I watched I was astounded by the discussion going on. I was in no way biased because even though I was contemplating going natural, I was still very uninformed and loved straight hair, but the reasons the relaxed women had for her to stay relaxed were so weak compared to the natural women's reasons. The relaxed women told her, natural is not professional, it's too time consuming, it's not neat, and other excuses that really seemed superficial to me. The natural panel hit so many better points in my opinion like, going natural is better for the health of your scalp, and you have so much more versatility. Two people in the audience who co wrote a book about the history of black women with their hair, stood up and briefly explained the correlation between relaxers, and slavery and that may have been the ultimate point that secured my decision. It just clicked in my mind that I really don't NEED a relaxer. What makes so many women with curly hair feel that it looks best straight? Who did we look to in the first place to want to emulate straight hair styles many many years ago when we started straightening our hair? And why are we so against our curly hair, that we would rather burn our scalp every few months to keep it straight?

These are some of the thoughts that kept me so determined to wear my hair natural. It definitely wasn't a one day process. I still flat ironed my hair for many many months because even though I knew I wanted natural hair I still thought I looked best with straight hair. The more my natural hair grew out the more I embraced curly styles but I only ever did styles I was comfortable with. That's the only way you can truly enjoy your hair, if you do things YOU like and change only when YOU feel comfortable.

I never once regretted my transition to natural because I never felt forced into any phase of it. I did what I wanted and enjoyed every part!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Green Smoothies!!

I loveee my green smoothies! The look might be off putting to a lot of people lol, but I think they look and taste really good.  I haven't had access to a lot of variety of fruit and vegetables, but lately I've been using spinach, kale, brown pears, oranges, blueberries, green grapes, and bananas and I've truly fallen in love lol.   The boost of energy I get after having a cup is more than I've ever felt drinking coffee or an energy drink.. its amazing.

I started making smoothies only a few weeks ago, and I plan to open myself up to a way larger variety of combinations.  I'm kinda hesitant to blend veggies that have a distinct taste ( I tried celery and it was absolutely horrendous), but we'll see..

Anyways, here is my typical smoothie nowadays... It has all the ingredients I listed already (except the blueberries, I added those later) and a cup of water.  Its so gooood!!

This is just a good way to increase your vegetable and fruit intake.  Also a lot of the time, we cook our veggies and in doing so we lose a lot of the benefits.  For most smoothies, you can just blend everything raw.  The sweetness of the fruit really hides any bitterness the vegetables may have.  

But remember, nothing is good for you when taken excessively, so I'd limit smoothies to once or twice a day for the average person.  There's a lot of sugar in fruit, and oxalates in leafy greens, which could lead to problems if eaten WAY too much.  Of course, drinking more than 2 a day will probably do more good than bad, but once again, try not to be excessive!

Here is how the final product looked... YUM

My Regimen and Products

I've been struggling since my transition to find a regimen that works great for me.  I go back and forth between having quick but slightly damaging wash days, and longggg but way more healthy wash days.  I can't win!!

I'd always suggest taking your time and being as gentle as you feel necessary, even if it takes double the time.  All those rough detangling sessions WILL add up.  Plus, being gentle will inevitably become habit, and not something you have to focus on doing every time you touch your hair..

Anyways I'm still trying to find a way to wash my hair quickly and healthily.  Right now I'm focusing on being gentle, and my wash day is still a little too long for my liking

1.  Detangle
  • I've recently eliminated using combs completely so the only tool I use in my hair is my fingers.  To detangle I just pull out small pieces of hair and run my index and thumb down, as if I was smoothing them.  This brings all the shed hair down to the bottom and releases them.  Any further tangles, I just pull apart.  Its definitely easier said than done, and I had to try a few techniques before perfecting what worked for me.  Overall, this takes about two hours.
  • Products-- Spray bottle with warm tap water (to dampen and soften hair), extra virgin coconut oil (to give hair some lubrication and prevent unnecessary breakage)
2. Shampoo
  • As of recently I've gone back to washing my hair in 8 twists. I work in quarter sections of my head.  I take a quarter size amnt of shampoo and work it into the roots of that section and smooth whatever is left onto the hair shafts.  I mostly rub it into my scalp, and also scratch lightly if needed, then rinse.  On the second wash of that section, I use only half the shampoo I used the first time, and start on my scalp and let it lather enough to run throughout the whole section, then rinse.  To prevent tangles, I try to keep the hair in the twists the whole time and just work the lather through the hair by squeezing.  This takes 30 minutes.
  • Product- DHD H2O Anti-Itch Shampoo
3.  Deep Condition/Oil Rinse
  • To make my deep conditioning experience more rewarding I have to always add castor oil first.  So I use about a quarter size amount of castor oil on each of those 8 twists, so I have the 8 twists slathered in castor oil now.  Then I go back around and add my favorite deep conditioner.  I put a plastic cap on, and a bunch of hats to trap in the heat, and then I let it sit for about an hour.  Putting in the oil and deep conditioner (while being gentle) takes 20 minutes and then I sit for 1 hour.
  • Products- cold pressed castor oil, Aubrey Organics Glycogen Protein Balance
4.  Leave-In and Sealant
  • Almost done with my wash day!  At this point I'm done with washing and rinsing and all that, I just have to add some final moisture to my hair so it doesn't air dry hard (I don't use heat to dry my hair).  My hair is still in the 8 twists that I started with to shampoo, so I either use those same 8 sections or I make more sections if I want them to dry faster.  Usually I take down each of the 8 twists one by  one.  I add my leave-in conditioner (hair moisturizer that you use after washing on damp hair) and then I add a tiny drop of castor oil and rub that through the section as well to seal in the moisture.  Then I just braid it, and leave it to dry, moving on to the next section.  Overall I have 8 moisturized and sealed braids by the time I'm done.  This takes a wholeee 1 hour.
  • Products- Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner, cold-pressed castor oil
5.  Daily Moisturizer
  • This next step doesn't usually happen on wash day, but on the days following it.  After unbraiding my braids to wear my hair in a braid-out style, I have to rebraid at night time, to both stretch my hair out some more, and to avoid tangles and knots forming from sleeping on loose hair.  While rebraiding I use my daily moisturizer and a tiny bit of castor oil to seal it in.
  • Products- Qhemet Biologics Burdock Root Butter Cream, cold-pressed castor oil

That's it! Overall, my wash day takes about 5 hours, but there are always breaks, or things that come up so I usually try to give myself a little more time than just a 5 hour slot of time to do my hair. :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why Blog

 My main reason for starting this blog is because I enjoy helping anyone who asks for advice and tips, but often times I get a lot of the same questions repeated.  How did you go natural? How long did you transition? What products do you use? etc.  This way I have all my information in one spot and can just send anyone the link to the post that addresses their question.

For my fitness and health endeavors, I'll probably post those as well, just because I'm more interested in that nowadays than my hair lol.  Healthy eating is slowly becoming my new favorite hobby, and I'd like to document my progress in that as well.

Who knows, I might not keep this up, but I'm excited about it for the moment lol.  Hopefully it keeps me accountable in these areas of my life.