Rihanna's new makeup line, Fenty Beauty, has utterly blown up in the last few weeks — and for good reason. Unlike the vast majority of brands, Fenty Beauty products boast a wide variety of shades and tones designed specifically for Black and Brown complexions. Darker skin tones have always been an afterthought (if we get thought of at all), so the arrival of Fenty Beauty isn't just exciting, it's an important move towards more inclusivity in the beauty/fashion world.
Of course not everyone is into makeup, but if you're looking for beauty products that will simplify your routine, check out these Fenty Beauty finds:
What's your favorite Fenty Beauty product? Tell us in a comment below!
Nothing is more aggravating than an itchy scalp. Whether it's caused by dehydration, allergies, or tight braiding it can be super embarrassing, and lasting solutions are often hard to come by. It's is an issue I've struggled with for years so I decided to put together this list of tips in case you're also looking to soothe an angry scalp.
It might be a few weeks before you start noticing results, but stay persistent and hopefully you'll get some relief. If nothing helps, though, definitely consider seeing a dermatologist.
Do you have a trick for soothing your scalp? Share in a comment below!
The other day a friend of mine opened up to me about one of her fears. She explained that although her hair is healthy now, she heard it will likely get thinner when she's older. It turns out a lot of people have this concern. Female pattern hair loss isn't uncommon and can occur for many reasons, including natural causes like pregnancy and aging as I covered in a previous post. To some people this may seem like a frivolous thing to worry about, but the state of your hair can actually indicate a lot about your overall health. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to grow stronger hair while taking care of your general wellbeing.
1. Seal with Castor Oil - Many naturalistas swear by the effects of castor oil because of its ability to lock in moisture. Moisture is necessary for both softening hair and strengthening it against breakage. Because it's a thicker oil, it's easier to apply when slightly warmed up. Just make sure you use it only when your hair and scalp are damp in order to maximize its benefits. Castor oil is also known to treat skin problems like acne and dryness. Some people also use it for constipation and menstrual cramps. (HomeRemediesWeb.com)
2. Use Gentle Tools - One of the easiest ways to promote thicker hair is to prevent breakage while detangling and styling. Using your fingers and gentle tools like wide tooth combs and ouchless hair elastics will minimize the amount of tugging and snagging that each strand endures. The less stress your hair is under, the more it will flourish.
3. Practice Protective Styling - Another method of avoiding breakage is to keep your hair tucked away in long-term styles, such as braids, cornrows, and twists. These hairstyles greatly reduce the amount of manipulation your hair undergoes by allowing you to rock the same look for several days or even weeks at a time. Not having to fix your hair each day gives your scalp and strands a much-needed rest, thereby encouraging growth.
4. Get Your Fluids - We're all aware of how crucial it is for mental and physical health to stay hydrated, but did you know drinking water is an easy way to maintain healthy skin and hair? That's because the cells in the hair follicles at your roots require water to function properly. Water also staves off dandruff, itchiness, and other scalp-related issues by keeping the skin moisturized. While you may think it's enough to regularly spritz your hair with a water-based solution, it doesn't hurt to moisturize from the inside out, too, by drinking fluids and eating juicy fruits and vegetables.
5. Eat a Balanced, Protein-Rich Diet - Hair is made of keratin, which is a form of protein. Your body needs to take in protein regularly to grow new hair, and contrary to popular belief, meat isn't your only option. Broccoli, asparagus, kale, almonds and soybeans are all high in protein. (MindBodyGreen.com) You can also opt for fortified foods like soy milk and yogurt that have added protein, or try protein bars or supplements.
How do you keep your hair healthy? Share with us in a comment below!
With all the new regimens, month-long challenges, and novel products constantly being released, we naturalistas are able to enjoy a wealth of hair care knowledge that has never existed before. A few years ago it was impossible to find information online about how to do your own box braids. Now, I can't even count how many braiding tutorial videos are on YouTube. Better access to information about natural hair care has obvious benefits: it allows us to celebrate our natural beauty and indulge in self-love while rocking amazing hairstyles! However, sometimes it can be overwhelming to sift through all the advice －especially when some of it seems contradictory.
Take, for example, the issue of detangling natural hair. For the longest time the afro pick was the universal tool for getting tangles and knots out of kinky/coily hair. In fact I remember my Mom using an afro pick for all sorts of purposes. After detangling, she would use it to create parts, and while she was styling, she would even use it as a clip to keep stray hairs out of her way. Despite the incredible usefulness of the afro pick, it (and other similar combs) face growing competition from another school of thought: the finger detangling method.
Finger detangling is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of passing through your strands with a comb to remove knots and tangles, you instead create small sections of hair and gently pull each apart until, theoretically, every strand has been separated from its neighbours. If done properly the results of combing and finger detangling are pretty much the same, but not everyone agrees that these two methods are perfect substitutes.
As you can see, it's a bit of a tossup between the two. It's up to you to know what your curls need and to decide which option is best to maintain healthy, happy hair. Of course no one is forcing you to pick one, either. Many naturalistas (including me!) alternate methods depending on the circumstances. Regardless of what you choose you'll need the right tools to get started.
TOP DETANGLING COMBS
TOP DETANGLING PRODUCTS
Do you prefer to comb or finger detangle your hair? Why? Share in a comment below!
MORE TIPS FOR YOUR NATURAL HAIR
How to Keep Your Scalp Squeaky Clean Between Washes
How to Find the Best Blow Dryer for Curly Hair
Do You Need a Hair Mask?
It's so easy to find a good hair dryer these days. A quick search on Amazon will result in thousands of matches, each boasting an array of attractive benefits. However, if you're specifically looking for hair dryers designed with curls and coils in mind, the hunt becomes a bit tricky. When shopping for a hair drier for your natural hair, you should consider the following:
Now that you know how to choose a proper blow dryer, here's a list of some of the best hair driers for natural hair (you're welcome!).
What's your favourite hairstyling tool? Share in a comment below!
If you think Nicki Minaj is to thank (or blame) for the growing popularity of wigs, you'll be interested to learn that humans have been actually been wearing wigs for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were known to shave their heads and instead wear wigs to protect their scalps from the blazing sun (Encyclopedia). In the 1600s, men of status donned enormous powdered wigs to signify their wealth and virility (Cracked).
While the wig once symbolized power and prestige, today it's mostly considered a costume item. People don't really take wigs seriously anymore, and the practice of doing so has even become contentious in the natural hair community. Some people argue that wigs shouldn't be considered natural because they mask the wearer's true curls much like a relaxer does. Conversely, others state that if the wearer's hair is unprocessed and free of chemicals underneath, then s/he is natural regardless. No matter which side of the debate you fall on there are indisputable benefits to wearing a wig.
In order to enjoy these benefits, though, you've got to make sure your wig is installed and maintained correctly. Here are some tips:
What's your stance on wigs? Are they a staple in your wardrobe or just a Halloween accessory?
Share your thoughts in a comment below!
If you've ever researched ways to grow long, healthy, and strong hair, you've probably come across advice suggesting you try a hair mask. In the past few years they've become an increasingly popular addition to hair care regimens for people with all hair types. Essentially, a hair mask is a blend of moisture-rich ingredients that is designed to deliver nutrients to your hair by penetrating the strands for a period of time.
There are a number of benefits to doing weekly(ish) hair masks. First, they're extremely easy to make. If you've got access to a fridge or a pantry, you can make a hair mask. Common ingredients include honey, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, mayonnaise, and banana. Here are some great DIY hair treatment recipes I've found. Hair masks are also quite simple to apply. Unlike other treatments that require professional expertise, hair masks can be made without non-toxic ingredients, which makes them much healthier and safer for you to try by yourself. Hair masks are also a great excuse to feel pampered! Many women in particular find the experience rather luxurious because it allows them time to soak in a warm bath or paint their nails while the mask sits. Lastly, but arguably most importantly, the results of hair masks can be seen pretty quickly. I personally have noticed that my hair feels softer right after rinsing out a hair mask. This means my hair is easier to detangle and comb after washing, which leads to fewer knots and split ends over time.
Regardless of whether or not your hair is damaged, hair masks are a great way to promote health and encourage growth. If you don't have the time or energy to mix your own hair mask you can find plenty of pre-made options in stores and online. In fact there are so many options out there the choice can be daunting, so I've done a little homework to give you a head start.
FOR HEALTHIER HAIR
Curl Therapy Softening Hair Mask by Carol's Daughter
Essential Shea Mask by Fekkai
Nourishing Mask by amika
DRY HAIR SOLUTIONS
Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner by Arvazallia
Deep Repair Mask by Macadamia Oil
Salon Grade Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner by Rio Cabello
OILY HAIR SOLUTIONS
Argan Oil Treatment by Agadir
Miracle Hair Mask by It's A 10
You Are Beautiful Fine Conditioning Mask by Ken Paves
FOR COLOUR-TREATED HAIR
Colorcaretherapie Color Bloom Masque by Matrix Biolage
Argan Oil 7 Moisture Healing Mask by Nelson j Beverly Hills
Do you have a favourite hair mask product or recipe? Share with us in a comment below!
I don't like to make generalizations, but I must say that Black women (and some Black men) really don't like to get their hair wet. Regardless of whether we're relaxed or natural, water simply doesn't play well with our kinks and coils. Even a humid day can wreak havoc on our painstakingly-achieved curl definition, not to mention the extreme shrinkage many of us experience if our hair gets completely drenched in the shower. When you consider how devastatingly quickly moisture can undo hours of hairstyling it's pretty easy to understand why people with afro-textured hair try to wash their hair as infrequently as possible. Of course there are other reasons we postpone wash day, including the fact that our scalps don't readily accumulate oil or dirt. We can't leave our hair unwashed forever, though. At some point we have to give in and get it wet... or do we?
Enter dry shampoo. Even though dry shampoo seems to have taken off in the last couple of years the concept has actually been around for centuries! According to Toni&Guy, Asians were applying clay powder to their tresses back in the 1400s. Dry shampoo has been commercially available for decades and has become popular as more people discover the convenience and styling advantages it provides. However, many of the people who love it so much tend to have type one or two hair (meaning their hair is quite straight). I Googled to see if I could find any curlier-haired people who have tried dry shampoo, and the results were interesting. While many ladies said they liked the product, I noticed four issues with the way it's supposed to be used and how it actually works.
PROBLEM #1: Dry Shampoo is Designed to Cause Dryness
The whole point of dry shampoo is to remove excess oil. This is a huge benefit for those whose hair gets oily quickly. However, the curlier your hair is the less likely it is to get oily, especially if your hair is long. This is because sebum, the nutrient-filled oil produced by your scalp, has a harder time sliding down the hair shaft. Applying dry shampoo to tresses that are already dried out will consequently strip them of what little protective oil they do have. I should mention there are dry shampoos that might work for people with dry hair, but I would only consider it if I had a tonne of product build-up and absolutely could not wash my hair.
PROBLEM #2: Dry Shampoo Must be Brushed or Blowdried Out
Because our hair is so dry, it's also quite brittle. It's a good idea to avoid manipulating it too often so it grows healthy and strong. Manipulation involves anything from braiding and brushing to twirling your hair out of boredom. Any kind of tension or friction exposes the hair shaft to the risk of breaking. That's why you should be careful about how often you change your hairstyles and the tools you use. The trouble with dry shampoo is that it can't just sit on top of your hair. It works best when evenly distributed by either brushing or blowdrying. Even if your hair has been straightened, brushing your hair too regularly or applying heat through a blowdryer can cause irreversible damage over time.
PROBLEM #3: Dry Shampoo Can Cause Itchiness
Your scalp might get agitated and itchy if you accidentally spray dry shampoo too close to your roots. Some people say their scalps get itchy if they apply excessive amounts of dry shampoo to their hair, too. One way to alleviate the itching is to massage your scalp with a light oil, but ironically, the best solution for a super agitated scalp is to actually wash it with water and conditioner!
PROBLEM #4: Dry Shampoo is Supposed to Add Volume and Hold
This is less of an issue and more of an undesired feature, in my honest opinion. My hair grows upwards and outwards instead of downwards because it's so kinky. You've probably noticed that your hair has a natural tendency to grow large if you also have type four curls. Unless you have very fine strands or you want even bigger, badder hair, you probably don't need a product to add more volume to your afro. Similarly, our hair texture is fabulous for holding styles without requiring much product. Whereas people with straight hair need cans and cans of hairspray and a million bobby pins to hold their hair up, ours pretty much stays put wherever we leave it. As such, I think the volume and hold dry shampoo provides are wasted benefits.
With all this in mind, dry shampoo doesn't seem ideal for afro-textured hair. I'm not a hair expert, though, and I'm not trying to refute any existing reviews of dry shampoo; if it works for you, great! I just wanted to write this post because there isn't a lot of information online about how dry shampoo truly works on kinkier hair and drier scalps. If you still really want to avoid washing your hair, check out my other post on how to keep your hair and scalp clean between washes.
Have you used dry shampoo before? Share your experience in a comment below!
Hair loss, or alopecia, is incredibly common and can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's caused by aging, other times it manifests as a result of improper styling techniques. Those of us with afro-textured hair already realize what a challenge it can be to keep our hair healthy and strong due to its complex kinky and coily structure. Our hair is naturally quite dry and prone to breakage, so when alopecia creeps into the mix it can be even harder to get our hair back on track.
The good news is that because thinning hair and balding affect so many people, there's a bunch of treatments out there to relieve, and sometimes even reverse, the symptoms. I've seen everything from creams and medications to injections that promise to restore hair growth. To be honest they all sound great, but some of them contain ingredients that might not suit the lifestyle of a naturalista. By this I mean that many of us opt to wear our hair in its natural state to avoid the use of chemicals and synthetic ingredients. I know this isn't the case for everyone, but for a lot of us going natural implies an effort to treat our hair more gently. We commit to regimens that are more delicate on our tresses to encourage healthy growth, and if you're like me, part of that means using DIY recipes and products that are exclusively made of all-natural ingredients. So what are some natural ways you can treat alopecia? After a bit of research, I've found three popular methods.
FRESHLY SQUEEZED JUICES
Aloe vera juice is known for its versatile healing properties. It can be used for just about anything, including sunburns, joint pain, and weight loss. (StyleCraze) When it comes to hair care, aloe vera juice is a great addition to shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizing sprays because of its ability to stimulate hair growth. If you're feeling more adventurous, onion juice is another popular treatment for alopecia. It can be massaged directly onto the scalp to encourage blood flow. (StyleCraze) The increase in blood to the scalp enables more nutrients to be delivered to the follicles, which in turn helps more hair to grow.
BLENDED ESSENTIAL OILS
According to a study referenced on About.com, massaging a combination of essential and carrier oils into the scalp on a daily basis can lead to enhanced hair growth. For the study lavender, rosemary, cedarwood and thyme essential oils were used, as well as grapeseed and jojoba for carrier oils. Feel free to leave out any oils you are allergic to, or substitute in oils that have worked for you in the past. If you'd prefer a ready-made solution, the Alopecia Hair Loss Treatment by Just Natural Products conveniently contains all the essential oils that were used in the study.
Do you know of any other home remedies to treat alopecia? Share in a comment below!
Wigs and hair extensions have always been a fashion item near and dear to Black women's hearts. Whether we wear them as a statement or a safety blanket, they always come through for us. One thing I've found frustrating about wigs, though, is the lack of variety when it comes to texture. Sure there are straight, wavy, and curly wigs in all lengths and colours, but what about the kinkier textures? I remember the struggle my Mom went through a few years ago to find a wig that matched her 4C curl pattern. Everywhere she went, the only afro-textured wigs she could find were for costume. Despite scouring local stores and even going online (an impressive feat for her, back then!), she was only able to find one wig that would suffice -- and it was more of a 4A curl type. Even after she trimmed and coloured it the wig simply didn't suit her. Luckily, times have changed. Manufacturers are now creating wigs and extension hair with tight coils, zig-zag kinks, and even braids! If you're looking for a realistic wig or set of extensions that will match your curl pattern, check out these options below.
AFFORDABLE WIGS (under $50)
Long Afro-Curly Synthetic Hair Wig by Mi Hair
Equal Wig by FreeTress
Lace Wig Drew by BeShe
MID-RANGE WIGS ($50-100)
Unprocessed Virgin Mongolian Hair Extensions by CARA
Afro Indian Human Hair Wig by K'ryssma
Long Black High Density Synthetic Lace Front Wig by Generic
Machine-Made Natural Real Remy Indian Human Hair by K'ryssma
INVESTMENT WIGS (over $100)
Lace Front Wig with Bleached Knots and Baby Hair by Royal-First
Natural 100% Indian Remy Afro Wig by K'ryssma
Silk Top Full Lace Wig by Chantiche
Natural 100% Brazilian Hair by K'ryssma
Of course there are other brands and styles out there, but this list is a great place to start if you're looking for a wig that will match your type 4 curls, coils, and kinks. Hope you find this helpful. Happy wig shopping!
Does it matter to you whether or not your wig matches your natural hair? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
It can be tricky to switch up your look if you have short to medium-length natural hair. Many styles like cornrows and Bantu knots are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with only a few inches of hair to work with. It's also frustrating waiting for your hair to grow out just so you can have more styling choices. You should be able to enjoy your hair while it's short and experiment with a variety of styles!
Enter the hair brush sponge. This clever invention has been rising in popularity, especially as more people opt for the big chop and locs. By design, it's incredibly simple: just a sponge with small, evenly-spaced circular indents that catch and coil the hair into neat little sections. Depending on how you use it the sponge can provide a different texture to your afro, create neat coils, or even help you start your dreadlocks. Although hair brush sponges generally look the same, there are some differences you should be aware of. I've taken the liberty of scouring through the options and narrowed it down to the following three.
Cherir Premium Hair Sponge
Magic Barber Sponge Brush
Magic Twist Hair Brush Sponge
If I had to choose one of these sponges I'd definitely go with the Cherir Premium Hair Sponge. It's incredibly easy to use and because it's made with such fine materials, it provides salon-quality results. The sponge is also covered by a one year replacement warranty, which means you'll be able to use it for far longer than any other brand.
Have you ever used a hair brush sponge before? Share your experience in a comment below!
With all the misinformation out there about afro hair being naturally dry and frizzy (shoutout to Ouidad), it's easy to start thinking there's something wrong with kinky/coily hair -- even when it's perfectly healthy. This misinformation can prompt us naturals to buy products that aren't suited for our hair. Even companies that cater to afro-textured hair get it wrong sometimes so it's important to be diligent when shopping for your hair, otherwise you might become what I call a hair hypochondriac.
As naturals, we're always being told how fragile and brittle our hair is. "Breakage" has become this big bad B word that has sent us running to stores in frantic search of products that will protect us from the horrors of thinning edges, single-strand knots, and split ends. We're bombarded with advertising that suggests our hair could be thicker, longer, shinier, and most fallaciously of all, straighter. The funny thing is even if you have superbly healthy hair, you've probably felt compelled by these claims too. I for one can admit to second-guessing the health of my edges whenever I see certain advertisements. (Are these normal baby hairs, or am I balding...?!) Obviously, this doubt inspires me to purchase some cream or gel that promises to restore my edges to their former glory. It's not until I've tested the product and had zero results that I realize I had been paying more attention to the advertising than to my own hair! I'd fallen victim to clever marketing that made me believe my hair might be damaged (is my hair dull, or is it just bad lighting in here?) and I lost sight of what my hair truly needed. I'm a much savvier shopper now that I have a few tricks to avoid becoming a hair hypochondriac.
I hope you find these tips helpful and remember them next time you're shopping for hair products. Unless you're a huge fan of the flat iron and you dye your hair a new colour every two days, chances are your hair is doing just fine! Be sure to listen to what it wants and forget all the corporate noise telling you otherwise.
Have you suffered from hair hypochondria? Share your experience in a comment below!
Seems like every day, somebody somewhere is saying something rude, insensitive, and untrue about Black hair. This week's offender is Ouidad, a hair product company that prides itself on educating people about their curls so much that it publicly calls itself "the curl experts." Based on their target audience, you'd think they'd realize that a huge portion of their customer base is comprised of women of colour, but I guess they weren't thinking about that when they updated their website this week. On one of their webpages, Ouidad added a feature of four models with varying hair types: normal/healthy, frizzy, brittle or broken, and colour-treated. Seems fine... until you look at the models. (Images courtesy of @oSoBRANDnew and @MadBlackStudent on Twitter)
That's right, you don't need to adjust your screen. The only model with desirably "normal and healthy" hair is white, while the rest are visibly women of colour. Needless to say Twitter has descended on Ouidad, and whoever manages their social media is now dealing with a barrage of Tweets like these.
Hands down the best response came from badass activist Crissle from the infinitely hilarious podcast, The Read. In this week's episode she obliterated Ouidad, rightly stating that their actions were "at the very kindest... culturally insensitive, but what it looks like is stone-cold fucking racism." She and her co-host, the loveably goofy Kid Fury, go on to point out the futility of comparing such vastly different hair types. Doing so, in their opinion, proves that Ouidad clearly doesn't understand what healthy kinky/coily hair is supposed to look like. In fact, the three coloured women's hair actually looks healthier than the blondes!
Regardless of hair health, the main issue is the blatant racism behind using a white woman as the standard of beauty. They are implying that coily kinks are inherently abnormal and unhealthy, and that those of us cursed with such unruly, unfortunate hair should strive to a more European aesthetic. In a pathetic attempt to apologize Ouidad tweeted, "This discussion is important to us; we are completely sensitive to your concerns. Ouidad has been a champion of ALL curls for over 30 yrs and strives to empower curly individuals to love and care for their curly hair. The brand focuses on providing the best service & products for every curl type & dedicated to servicing our customers in a respectful manner." Does this remind you of the ignorance behind #AllLivesMatter? Crissle sure noticed the parallels and slammed Ouidad for not actually addressing their discriminatory mistake of portraying kinky coils as inferior. In their generalized, cookie-cutter, weak-sauce string of robotic tweets, Ouidad completely missed the boat and left everyone even more upset.
What depresses me most about this whole debacle is that Ouidad is supposed to be on our side! It's hard to find products tailored to our needs, whether we're shopping for hair products or skin products or anything else. When companies promise to have our backs by catering directly to our needs, it's validating. It means we matter, that our voices are heard. Ouidad has irreparably disappointed our community, and they don't really seem to care.
It's very likely Ouidad will have taken down the webpage by the time you read this post. They recently tweeted, "It has come to our attention that there are some visuals &language misplaced on the site that require concern &are being updated immediately," demonstrating once again that they don't know the extent to which they've offended us. Such ambiguous messaging indicates our insignificance to them. They probably feel like the situation has been handled. Meanwhile, we'll keep waiting for a sincere apology.
Would you boycott Ouidad products in light of recent events? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
About a month ago I attended a natural hair event hosted by the Caribbean Students Association and African Student Association. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was a fabulous opportunity to meet other naturals and hear their thoughts, experiences, and opinions. It was also my chance to get my hands on a bottle of conditioner by London Ivy Products, which, much to my delight, was on discount just for the event!
FIRST IMPRESSIONS - The very first thing that caught my eye about this product is its ingredients list. This bottle is packed with some amazing ingredients I'd never even considered for hair care, such as broccoli seed oil for smoother, thicker hair, and camellia oil for nourishment. Because of these fantastic ingredients the company suggests the conditioner be used for co-washing so you can skip your shampoo entirely if you wish.
WHILE CLEANSING - It smells great! The conditioner lathers well and is neither watered-down nor too heavy when applied to wet hair. It delivers just the right amount of slip to facilitate detangling, too. I was pleasantly surprised to notice a gentle tingling sensation on my scalp, which I believe is thanks to the peppermint oil. I've read that peppermint oil is fantastic at stimulating hair growth by encouraging blood flow to the scalp, so this is definitely a welcome bonus!
AFTER CLEANSING - The product rinses out very easily and leaves my hair feeling soft and nourished. I've been having a hard time finding all-natural products that don't turn my hair to straw, so I'll definitely be keeping this conditioner around!
FINAL THOUGHTS - I feel good supporting this business because not only does it use natural and organic ingredients, but its products are locally manufactured too. Moreover, London Ivy Products is Black-owned and donates a portion of its proceeds to charity. Everybody wins!
Please note that I wasn't compensated in any way to write this product review.
What's your favourite conditioner? Share in a comment below!
Remember that post I wrote about the importance of surrounding yourself with other naturalistas as you embark on your hair journey? Well, on Sunday I practiced what I preached and attended a meetup hosted by Toronto Naturals called The Politics of Black Hair. The discussion of the day centred around the question "Is protective styling political or simply a style choice?" Needless to say, the conversation got pretty colourful! Monique London of London Ivy Products led the event by posing a series of questions to a panel of five naturalistas who have each found great success in the realms of vlogging, blogging, hairstyling, jewelry design, and wig making, to name a few. Because of their varied backgrounds, every panelist was able to bring a fascinating and unique perspective to the table.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have experienced the event at all because despite arriving twenty minutes early, I was too late to buy tickets at the door! I know, I know... I should have purchased an advanced ticket, but this event was so hot even those had sold out the week prior. It was disappointing to be turned away, but then someone piped up suggesting I stick around just in case there was a no-show at the last minute. I could hear upstairs that the venue was getting pretty full already, but I had a feeling it would be worth the wait. After all one of my favourite YouTubers, Toni Daley, was on the panel and I was pumped to see her in person. Luckily the event organizers were able to squeeze me in literally at the last second, and they even had some free lipbalm left!
When I got upstairs, I was pleasantly surprised by how funky the venue was. Harlem Restaurant (on Richmond and Church) has an eclectic and casual vibe to it. The stage area looks a bit like Graffiti Alley -vibrant hues of different paints, random cables strewn on door hooks, and exposed brick walls. Much to everyone's enjoyment the bar was fully stocked and there were original paintings of natural hair hung around the room for us to feast our eyes on.
The panel itself was lighthearted yet thought-provoking. Monique (or Mo for short) did an awesome job of gently guiding the conversation from general subjects like what constitutes a protective style to more serious issues about hair envy, hair type discrimination, and self-love. It was enlightening to hear the panelists describe their personal experiences. Some views I could identify with, others I hadn't considered before. At one point the discussion turned to whether or not women who wear weaves 24/7 are purposefully hiding their natural hair out of shame or embarrassment. This was particularly interesting to me, because lately I've been trying to avoid using extension hair and instead celebrate what my Mama gave me. To this, Toni Daley made a solid point. She paralleled the use of weaves to wearing makeup.
[Paraphrased] Some people wear makeup only to fancy occasions. Others wear it whenever they leave the house. And then there are those who wear makeup even when they're in their house all day. It's a personal choice. You can't say I don't love my skin just because I wear makeup, just as you can't say I don't love my hair if I wear weaves all the time.
Celebrity hairstylist Janet Jackson admitted she's all about the weave life because of the ease and effortlessness it affords her. She cited the difficulty of managing her own natural hair (which extends past her shoulders) when she has to be up as early as 3:00 AM for work, and that weaves are the best way for her to save time in her busy schedule and still look professional. Even though I've never had anything against weaves (I've been known to rock one on occasion), hearing what she had to say gave me a new appreciation for what other naturalistas go through.
One of the coolest things about the panel was — as far as I could tell — no two ladies had the exact same curl pattern. There was everything from famous vlogger Natural Neiicey's luscious, loose curls to the wonderfully kinkier coils of curly hair specialists Keina Morgan and Nicky Splinta. That variety gave a definite credibility and approachability to the event. It felt inclusive and honest, which I think is crucial for the natural hair community.
Then came the best part: FREE PRIZES! I was impressed by how many goodie bags Toronto Naturals had sourced for the prize draws. There were so many sponsors the giveaways just kept rolling. For once in my life I had a winning ticket in hand and landed a highly coveted gift basket from Rainbow Kisses Cosmetics! It contained two striking lipsticks (one in plum, the other a deep metallic turquoise) and a gift card. Hilariously enough, after collecting my prize two different people come up to me asking if I really wanted to keep the lipstick and if we could work out some sort of trade! Rainbow Kisses is just that good!
Despite lasting about three hours, the meetup seemed to fly by. Before I knew it the panel had concluded and everyone was encouraged to network around the room. I was glad to have the opportunity to catch up with my hairstylist Glenna Sandy who has had my back since I moved to Toronto and was helpless managing my own hair. I also got to fangirl Toni Daley and chat with her about the amazing movement she started, the #SupportASista campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support women-led, Black-owned companies. Janet Murphy of Roots to Curls was there too. She explained to me how exciting the last few months have been as she and her long-time friend and business partner have worked hard to get Roots to Curls off the ground.
Overall, it was really inspiring to be surrounded by so many independent, successful, and forward-thinking Black women! Big thanks to Toronto Naturals for continuing to host events like this. Can't wait for the next one!
Have you attended any natural hair events lately? Share your experience with me in a comment below!
o you know where your weave came from? Do you trust that the hair on your wig was attained ethically? Many of us enjoy the texture and versatility of hair extensions, but very few people know the truth behind the human hair industry. I recently listened to an incredibly eye-opening podcast by Natural Haircare News called The Lucrative Hair Weave Market that exposed some unsettling truths about how virgin hair is sourced. If you've ever had human hair extensions or plan to get them installed in the future, please listen to that episode first.
I don't want to give away too many details, but I was pretty blown away by the podcast. It made me realize just how ignorant we as consumers can be, and how much of a role we can play in perpetuating unethical practices through everyday purchasing decisions. It's bad enough that impoverished women are sacrificing their locks to pay for food, but according to the podcast in some cases the demand for Indian virgin hair is so extreme that suppliers will physically attack women in the streets, immobilize them, and forcibly cut off their hair. It goes without saying that these women aren't compensated for enduring such abuse. Then the same @$$holes who brutalize them turn around and charge the end consumer (ie: you and me) thousands of dollars for the hair.
I'm sorry if I've made you feel bad about your extensions. The purpose of this post isn't to shame anyone for wearing human hair, but to raise awareness. Whether it's a wig, a shampoo, or even a pair of boots it's absolutely imperative that we understand where our products are coming from. So what can you do?
I'm also a huge fan of the shop local movement, which empowers citizens of the Earth to reduce their carbon footprint and support local businesses by buying goods at farmers' markets and mom-and-pop shops instead of superstores. The more conscious we are about our purchasing decisions, the sooner we can put an end to barbarous business practices.
What do you do to shop ethically or reduce your carbon footprint? Share in a comment below!