Everybody's into podcasts these days. Whether it's to learn how to start a business or cope with mental health issues, there's a show on any topic for any audience. If you like listening to podcasts and can't get enough of natural hair, check out this list of shows. They're all informative, entertaining, and hosted by super charismatic and smart women. Enjoy!
"Snatched Edges is a podcast all about hair health. Expect to hear tips on how to solve common hair and scalp issues, how to tackle hair loss and the best ways to style your hair. Whether you are loc'd or loose, natural or relaxed you are sure to hear something to keep your hair flourishing."
The Natural Hair Weekly
"Join our Global Editor and Curator Jahdusha V Shines, for a 'natural conversation' (and some laughs) exploring elements of the natural hair lifestyle with special guests from around the world in entertainment, health, wellness, business and life."
Grow it Long & Strong: Natural Hair Radio
"Learn to grow your afro, kinky or curly textured natural hair hair with ancient techniques, modern science and inner wisdom like never before. Discover why the products you have been using have or have not been working, what are the best styles to retain hair length and how to promote better hair health from the inside out for long lasting results."
The Nappturalite Radio Show
"Calling all Nappturalites! Whether your hair is naturally kinky, curly or wavy, this show has you in mind. The Napptualite Radio Show is dedicated to the love of all things related to black natural hair care. We will discuss natural hair topics, interview natural hair specialists, give you the scoop on the best hair care products and share resources that benefit Nappturalites everywhere. Airs M-W at 3pm EST and on Thursdays at 7pm EST!"
Long, Healthy Hair - Natural Kinky and Curly Hair
"This channel is designed for people that have recently gone natural and need a few quick tips on a) how to maintain the health of their hair and b) how to make sure it grows to its maximum potential."
Natural Hair 360
"A weekly podcast about everything that has to do with Natural Hair, its care, maintenance, trends, etc. Review, rate, and subscribe."
Natural Haircare News
"Just two sisters doing our thing! Join us as we have "real" conversations about everything from the perceptions and attitudes that black women and the community have about natural hair - both positive and negative, to natural haircare tips and strategies from A thru Z. Show us some love and leave a review on iTunes if you like our podcast, then check out our blog - NaturalHairCareNews.com"
What's your favorite natural hair show or podcast? Share it with us in a comment below!
One of the best pieces of advice you will receive as a natural is: never do your hair in a rush. When we hurry through processes like detangling and washing, we risk damaging our hair by causing unnecessary tangles, snags, and breaks. However, we're all busy ladies and sometimes it's hard to set aside hours and hours to do a thorough job. That's why I've been researching the quickest ways of maintaining natural hair. Stretching your curls can be particularly time-consuming, but after some digging I've determined the following three techniques to be the most efficient.
What you'll need:
2. Twists + Bobby Pins
3. Roller Sets
What's your favorite method of stretching your hair? Share with me in a comment below!
MORE TIPS FOR YOUR NATURAL HAIR
Lemonade braids are still trending!
Five Ways to Grow Thicker Hair
Seven Dashing Ladies Who Are Taking Yarn Braids to the Next Level
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 me 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 me in a comment below!
Yarn braids are a funky and versatile way to protect your hair from the elements. Because yarn comes in a million different shades and hues, it's super easy to switch up your style -- even if you don't actually change your hairdo! If you're in search of inspiration, look no further than these seven ladies who have clearly mastered the art of rocking yarn braids.
GET THE LOOK
Click the images below to see more colors.
Do you love colorful and chunky yarn braids, or do you prefer a more conservative look? 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)
Equal Wig by FreeTress
Long Afro-Curly Synthetic Hair Wig by Mi Hair
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!
Have you ever wondered how your hairstylist got so good at what she does? Regardless of whether she went to cosmetology school or learned to do hair by observing friends and relatives, at the end of the day she definitely put in endless hours of practice to perfect her skills. Many hairstylists practice for years before taking on their first client because it takes a long time to develop speed and muscle memory while maintaining a high standard of quality. When you think about the amount of effort required to master a relatively complex style like tree braids or crochet braids it's easy to get discouraged and resort to helplessly depending on your stylist.
Admittedly, I've been relying on stylists for most of my life. It's just always seemed more convenient to let someone else deal with my hair while I watched TV or got some studying done. However, it wasn't until last week that I discovered a foolproof way of practicing tricky hairstyles without sacrificing a tonne of time or money. Using this new method I've been able to improve my braiding skills while keeping my hair looking great. I stumbled upon this trick when one of my box braids fell out the other day. Normally I detangle the newly-exposed section of hair, coat it with a moisturizing cream, and then twist it. This time, though, I found myself with some spare time and an extra pack of synthetic braiding hair - and I was feeling adventurous.
Instead of leaving my hair out, I took a shot at redoing the extension braid myself. I only had one tiny section to braid, so I wasn't stressed out by the idea of having to finish it quickly and move on to the next one. I could just concentrate on getting the technique down, and if I messed up it was easy to undo the braid and start over. Having the professionally-done braids right there for comparison was also a huge help. I knew immediately when my braid was too loose or too fat because I could hold it up against the other braids. This meant the final product was always nearly perfect; a vast improvement from when I tried to braid my whole head from scratch!
Another benefit of this method is that it keeps your style looking fresh longer. As more braids become loose over time, I've been able to replace them with new, clean braids that suddenly make the style look like it was recently installed. This allows me to continually improve my braiding skills while boosting the lifespan of my protective style. And the longer my hairstyle lasts, the more money I save! Seriously, the benefits just keep piling up.
To summarize, if you want to become a protective styling guru the secret is to maintain your hairstyle incrementally. Replace individual braids or twists as they loosen and not only will you find yourself saving a bunch of time and money, but you'll also always look like you've just come from the salon!
What's your secret to improving your hairstyling skills? Share in a comment below!
While tearing up the dance floor at Clinton's a few weekends ago, one of my friends opened my mind to a dilemma I hadn't considered before. She described a tricky situation in which a coworker of hers (let's call her Mathilda) who had always rocked natural hair came into the office one day with a relaxer. In the past, my friend had grown so accustomed to seeing her natural hair that after a while she stopped giving Mathilda compliments. So when Mathilda showed up to work with long, sleek hair, my friend was in a pickle. The change was so drastic she had to speak up! However, by complimenting Mathilda wouldn't she be affirming that her hair looks better straight now?
When she realized that she was caught between a rock and a hard place with Mathilda, my friend simply decided not to say anything to her about her hair that day. My friend understood that her words have a deeper meaning. You can't deny that society persuades girls and women to look a certain way, and this pressure manifests in our everyday interactions with people. Growing up I found it puzzling that some people would swoon over my weaves, but would say absolutely nothing when I got box braids or cornrows. As an adult I now understand that they likely meant no harm, but it's a blatant indication of what our society values in terms of beauty. I think my friend's active decision not to feed into the "straighter is better" mentality was wise, and I applaud her for her thoughtfulness.
As I write this, on the other hand, I can't help but think to myself hair isn't always political! Mathilda has every right to wear her hair however she pleases. We kinky-haired girls are blessed with endless possibilities when it comes to our hairstyles, relaxers included. Maybe Mathilda has never felt the societal pressure I mentioned before. Perhaps she just wanted a change, in which case my friend's struggle to be politically correct would've been for naught. Moreover, there's no doubt that a compliment on her relaxed hair would've made Mathilda's day. Not saying she's seeking attention or anything, but that's just how we humans are programmed; we like to be complimented.
So what's the right thing to do? Should we discourage what may appear to be assimilation, or should we celebrate an individual's right to choose what could be conformity? Honestly, I don't see this problem as being binary. I think there's a grey area in which we can support each other without getting bogged down in the politics. Rather than commenting specifically on a person's new relaxer, wig, or weave, I would simply tell them that they look great. That way they receive the ego boost they rightfully deserve for all the time and energy they put into their new look, but without any sociopolitical strings attached. And of course as our mothers taught us: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. ;)
Do you get more compliments from people when your hair is straightened? Share in a comment below!
Bria's rocking gorgeous waist-length Marley twists that she installed herself! They're a fantastic protective style because they can be installed fairly quickly and last several weeks.
Dude, I've had it up to here trying to find time for someone to do my hair. In a previous post I mentioned that I would give myself a break from extensions, but with midterms starting at school and summer around the corner I think it's time for more long-term styling. But every time I look at my schedule I'm overcome with the desire to magically warp the calendar so that Monday morning can be adjacent to Wednesday night and then maybe, just maybe, I'll have enough free hours to have a protective style installed. I know there are stylists who generously offer to return the next day to finish the job, but I've never taken anyone up on that because it seems so cruel! So after agonizing over my schedule, I recently found myself at the local beauty supply store. I was originally hunting for grapeseed oil, but ended up walking out with several packs of Kanekalon hair instead (I know it's the cheap stuff, but I'm a beginner so cut me some slack!). That's right. Then and there, I decided I was going to take matters into my own hands and do my own darn hair.
When I got home I immediately Googled "fast, easy protective style tutorial" and variations thereof. Bless the naturals on YouTube for there was no shortage of helpful videos. After skimming through a few I figured box braids would be the easiest (my twists always unravel prematurely) and resolved to spend the next few hours putting them in. I was armed with conviction, the right tools, and a good window of time in which I could feasibly finish half my head, but even this amount of diligence could not prepare me for the lessons I was about to learn.
1. THE STYLE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR PARTS - Even though I have a metal rat-tail comb, I still suck at parting. Maybe it's because my hair is short, or maybe it's just that I need more practice. Whatever the reason, I must get better because my ridiculous parting job caused my box braids to look unkempt and haphazard.
2. KNOW HOW MUCH HAIR YOU NEED - This goes hand-in-hand with the quality of your parting. If you use too much hair for each section you'll put too much strain on your follicles, which could cause hair loss. On the other hand using too little hair (as I did because I was scared of running out) will make it tricky to blend your natural hair in with the extension hair.
3. THERE'S ALWAYS AN ALTERNATIVE - When I first started I tried to mimic everything I'd seen my hairstylists do, from fluffing out and sectioning strands of extension hair to applying oil on my scalp as I went along. All these tricks proved invaluable for the most part, but YouTube quickly showed me that there are several different approaches and none is necessarily right or wrong. This was welcome news, as I was growing increasingly frustrated with one method of starting a braid that seemed physically impossible for me to achieve. The technique I eventually settled on was far simpler and more intuitive than the first, yet garnered the same results.
4. DETANGLED AND MOISTURIZED HAIR BEHAVES BEST - I'm not a newb. The day before commencing this entire endeavour, I luxuriated in a hot oil treatment, cleansed thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner, t-shirt dried, detangled, and spritzed with a mix of aloe vera juice and oils. In other words, my hair was in prime condition to be styled... but this wasn't enough! As I broke each section into smaller and smaller sections, it became clear that more detangling and moisturizing needed to be done. A good chunk of my first braids were a hot mess. Giant puffs of hair poked out every which way as if the style was pushing six weeks. Unfortunately it wasn't until I reached my ears that I remembered the sight of my beloved hairstylist in Edmonton, Loius, running a fine-toothed comb over each tiny section of hair before wrapping the synthetic hair around it. Before that she would moisturize my hair with some sort of oil, which I now realize is what kept my ends from popping out like a ghost in the night.
5. TIME IS MONEY - The last thing I learned is that the longer you spend doing your hair, the more it would've made more sense to just have it professionally styled. I spent a few hours over the span of three days installing my braids, and admittedly they look terrible. If you're trying to save money by doing your own hair and you haven't got much experience, trust me, you're far better off paying someone who knows how to glam you up. That being said, I don't mind walking around for the next couple of weeks with this semi-disaster on my head because A) my hair actually is being protected, and B) I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish. Even though it feels like I spent 3.22 decades on it, I'm already looking forward to my next go-around so I can apply everything I learned.
Have you ever tried putting in your own extensions? Tell me how it went in a comment below!
Whether you're natural, relaxed, or somewhere in between, trimming your hair is shockingly important. Although it seems counterintuitive a quick snip ensures health and length retention in the long run. Not only does it leave your ends even and poppin', but it also prevents damage like split ends and knots from wreaking havoc on the rest of your hair. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure that out. Contrary to her warnings, I can only remember allowing my Mom to trim my hair twice during my childhood. Twice! Ever since I was ten years old I assumed my hair was incapable of growing past my shoulders and that people with waist-length hair were all wearing weaves. It wasn't until I moved to Toronto that I was forced to take full responsibility for my own hair - and then I discovered how naïve I had been.
Fast forward a couple of years and I'm doing everything right. I've got a standing date with my weekly hot oil treatments, I use a sulphate-free shampoo and co-wash on occasion, and even trimming has become a part of my life again. It can be a bit complicated to trim 4C hair especially when it's short, so when I came across a handful of naturalistas on YouTube demonstrating their techniques I felt emboldened. Many of them described a simple method of sectioning the hair into squares, making two-strand twists, and then clipping off the ends where the twists start to thin out. This approach is very popular because it makes trimming the back of your head easy.
I experimented with the twist-trimming trick a few times, feeling so proud of myself each time for overcoming my aversion to losing length. However, it recently dawned on me that I've been guilty of one fatal mistake: I never examine my ends post-trim! I figured that since I had gotten rid of the thinning parts, the remaining hair was healthy and strong. Not so. The damage my hair had endured over fifteen years sans trimming had spread further toward my roots than what I was cutting off. For this reason, whenever I trimmed my hair I was only touching the tip of the iceberg. Further up each strand there were more knots and mid-strand splits just waiting to break my hair.
So today I awoke with the conviction that I was going to chop it all off. All the damage, that is. (Can't go too short - I'm hoping to try Marley twists next week!) Using this layering technique by the lovely Osa Osula I went section by section diligently shearing off two inches of hair. I was liberal and I was aggressive. I'm just sick of my hair not growing!!! Resisting cuts and trims has cost me years of length and, more importantly, years of health. Do I regret being so stubborn? I can't say yes, because if I had the shiny, thick tailbone-length hair that I'm supposed to have today I never would have thought to create this blog. ;)
Does trimming your hair bring you anxiety or are you excitedly looking forward to your next big chop? Share with me in a comment below!
I think I'm addicted to natural hair events. Last week I attended THREE in the span of four days. I just can't get enough. On Tuesday, Ryerson University hosted a panel of natural hair advocates at an event called My Hair, My Look, My Swag as part of their Black History Month lineup. In attendance were a variety of speakers, vendors, Ryerson students, and members of the general public. I was pleasantly surprised to see a handful of male attendees scattered throughout the crowd, and there were even two on the panel. (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also pleasantly surprised to have been given this amazing free cookie just for showing up.)
Because of the diversity in the room, we were able to dive into an array of questions regarding issues like how natural hair is perceived in romantic relationships and what it's like for men to rock their natural hair in an office environment. It was fascinating to hear the guys' take on what natural hair means to them. I thought it was especially interesting when Greg H'Side Samba, a professional dancer, stated that the decision whether or not to have natural hair boils down to health above all else. He cited the dangers of chemical burns from relaxing as reasons he wouldn't even consider going down that road, regardless of the styles relaxed hair would enable him to achieve. While it is possible to have a flourishing scalp and lustrous hair while relaxed, as some panelists pointed out, Greg believed the associated risks weren't worth it. (I tend to agree.) Even though the subject matter sometimes grew a little sombre there was always an air of humour, and we laughed constantly.
You'd think I'd have been exhausted from all the natural hair chat by this time, but the very next day I excitedly attended another meetup, this one called Curls, Coils, and Cocktails. It was hosted by one of the panelists from the Ryerson do, Bridget "Bee" Quammie, and her pal Ann Marie aka SoulAfrodisiac.
When I first arrived I was a bit nervous because it seemed everyone was already comfortably seated next to someone they knew. I timidly peeked around the tables in search of a free chair, hoping I hadn't already been at it too long. You see, I'm one of those people who feels hella awkward approaching strangers, but once the introductions are over with, we're BFFs. And that's exactly what happened when I spotted an open seat at a table with two ladies seated diagonally from each other. I was so glad I had somewhere to sit, and even more excited by the fact that they were both so friendly ... and funny!
The event was phenomenal. Bridget and Ann Marie gave us all a chance to socialize over appies and dranks at our tables before launching into the program. Their style of questioning each other and then inviting each of us to share our experiences and opinions was refreshing because unlike other events where there's a clearly established group of speakers and the audience is deemed separate, this felt like a group discussion where we were all invited to speak up whenever we wished. Some people ended up sharing some really personal and beautiful stories, which made the meetup that much more powerful and worthwhile. Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity to get in touch with other naturalistas - and enjoy some tasty cocktails!
Looking for a natural hair event in your area? Click here!
Do 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 with me in a comment below!
Believe it or not, I used to think the only way to wear kinky hair was in protective styles. Even when I saw Black women with straight hair, I would assume it was a weave or a wig. Despite how embarrassing it is to admit that naivety, part of me is grateful to my parents for keeping me ignorant of chemical relaxers all these years. Don't get me wrong - I wasn't forbidden to relax my hair and I don't look down on people who choose to do so - but after reading numerous accounts of new naturalistas wishing they'd gone natural sooner or never had a relaxer to begin with, I feel glad to have been natural all my life.
I must confess, though, that I am no expert. It's only now that I'm slowly starting to learn what my hair loves and hates after deciding to end my dependance on stylists months ago. From styling methods to hair care products, everything is an experiment. It's frustrating and fun. Sometimes a new recipe provides fabulous results, other times a moisturizing technique goes horribly wrong.
Natural hair can't be mastered in a day. Each strand has its own texture, pattern, and personality. Learning to manage it is like getting to know a whole room of people at once - especially if you have more than one curl pattern on your head! Hair evolves, too. For instance my hair has grown stronger with all the deep conditioning I've been doing this year, and it now holds up much better under manipulation. Tracking such changes can be tricky, but it's all part of the adventure. That's why I believe it's so important to immerse yourself in the natural hair community. We all stand to gain so much from each other's experience and knowledge!
What lessons have you learned about natural hair? Tell me in a comment below!
Did you remember to turn off the stove? Lock the door? Feed the hamster? Life throws a lot at us to remember, and sometimes it's a little overwhelming to keep track of it all. As I learn more about keeping my hair healthy, it seems like the list of products, methods, and tricks only continues to grow. Despite keeping my routine as low-maintenance as is socially acceptable, there are three things I often forget to do to take care of my hair.
1. Drink Water - I'll give you a second to grab a glass of water before you continuing reading.... Alright, now that you've got some hydration let's talk about how immensely important it is. You've no doubt heard over and over that roughly 70% of the human body is made up of water and that it constantly needs to be replaced due to bodily functions such as sweating and urination. Of course your internal organs take priority, but did you know that some of the water you drink actually makes it all the way up to your scalp? That's right. And when it gets there, it works hard to combat dryness and keep your strands from growing brittle. The body sure is a wonder.
2. Seal in Moisture with Oil - So let's say you're drinking your eight glasses of water a day. What use is all that hydration if you let it evaporate? The same holds true for spritzing your hair or washing it with conditioner. They key to locking in moisture is applying an oil or butter afterwards. Here's an awesome video that scientifically explains why this works.
3. Trim as Needed - When's the last time you trimmed your hair? If you have no idea, you should probably get on that. Regular trimming prevents split ends from traveling up the hair shaft so each strand remains strong and length isn't compromised. Your ends are the oldest and most delicate part of your hair, so the longer you go between trims the more likely your ends will start to suffer. This is when you'll start noticing dryness, frizz, and other unsightly issues. This is a great guide you can use to properly trim your hair.
If you've ever watched a video of a natural hair guru on YouTube, you might have heard her reference something called a length check. She may even have done one right before your eyes... and that would have been a whole minute and thirty seconds of your life wasted. You heard me. Length checks are a waste of time.
In a typical length check video, the guru stretches her hair by pulling a few strands down as far as they'll reach. Sometimes her hair has already been straightened, other times she leaves her natural hair shrunken so that her audience can be amazed by the true length of her hair. The guru will then state the length of her tresses in inches, or according to a conventional name such as BSL (bra strap length) or WL (waist length).
I understand that the main purpose of length check videos is to showcase the possibilities of healthy natural hair and to dispel the myth that our hair doesn't grow. However if you're "stuck" with neck length hair, watching videos like this will probably leave you feeling frustrated and envious. It's like someone with a Lamborghini pulling up next to you and claiming, "You can have a fancy car like this if you work hard." This in and of itself is not problematic, but it gives undue power to a singular set of values. Not everyone wants to drive a Lamborghini, and not everyone wants tailbone length hair. The abundance of length check videos online is perpetuating a one-dimensional standard of beauty -- namely, that long hair is what we should all covet. But short hair is sexy too! Bobs, teeny weeny afros, and fades are so chic it's not even funny. So the next time you watch a length check video, just remember that your hair is as desirable at two inches as it is at ten.
If you're looking for inspiration on how to style your beautiful, short natural hair, click here!
It was a cold November afternoon when I decided I no longer wanted to depend on other people to manage my natural hair. Before this moment, I had never braided, twisted, or even straightened my hair without someone's help. Embarrassingly enough, all I knew how to do was wash and detangle. I was a complete novice, and I had no idea what I was in for when I decided to wear my hair "out" for a few weeks. Fortunately I wasn't completely ignorant; I remembered my parents stressing the importance of coconut oil and regular moisturizing, and so I implemented their advice. However, there is one thing I failed to consider that caused me more damage than I ever could've imagined: I over-manipulated my hair.
By this, I mean that I combed, washed, and styled my hair WAY too often during that period. I assumed my hair could be treated the same as looser textures, so I haphazardly wore a bun one day, twists the next, and so on. It also never occurred to me that I couldn't comb my hair everyday. My thought process was that if other people could do it, I could too. But by manipulating my hair so frequently with unnecessary combing and styling, I put so much stress on my hair that it began to break severely. At least three inches of my hair broke off in those few weeks, and it didn't help that I was using a COTTON headscarf at night! (Cotton is extremely absorbent and will rob your hair of moisture overnight, resulting in dryness and even breakage over time.)
It wasn't until I went back home in December that I discovered the true extent of the damage. When my Mom saw the back of my head she exclaimed, "You have lost so much hair!" She proceeded to give me a crash course in natural hair management, stressing that our kinky, coily hair can't handle being styled more than about once a week. She recommended braiding over two-strand twists because braids hold longer and therefore limit manipulation. I began sifting through YouTube for tutorials and eventually started to get the hang of protective styling. The cotton headscarf was also promptly replaced with satin, and I'm pleased to say my hair has been on the road to recovery ever since!
To avoid making the same mistake I did, check out these awesome headwraps by Toni Daley!
With hundreds of thousands of women around the world boldly transitioning to wearing their hair in its glorious, natural state, there is an ever-increasing amount of information available to help ease the transition. With Hollywood A-listers like Solange Knowles, Lupita Nyong'o, and Viola Davis rocking their natural hair (and thus redefining conventional standards of beauty), it truly is an exciting time to go natural. Whether your hair has never been chemically treated or you're slowly cutting out a relaxer, navigating our kinky, coily, and curly tresses is both thrilling and daunting. That's probably why the term hair journey was coined. Like any adventure, a hair journey is full of ups and downs - and it's far more fun with friends!
Even if you don't personally know anyone who flaunts her or his natural hair, you already have plenty of natural hair pals. You've got me, Naptural85, Klassy Kinks, 4C Hair Chick, and dozens of other naturalistas who have gone out of their way to post educational content on the wonders of natural hair. There are blogs, vlogs, and forums jam packed with tutorials, product reviews, and interviews. If you're not sure where to start looking, I've built this directory to get you started.
It's also important to have a supportive network of people in your life while you're discovering your natural hair. Not only will they be able to help you emotionally, but their honest feedback will be invaluable. For instance, when I first started protective styling my own hair I had absolutely no idea what I was doing -- and it showed. The people who usually complimented me on my hair went silent, and it wasn't until my Mom used the word "unkempt" (despite being an advocate of natural hair) that I realized I needed help. I wandered blindly without a supportive network to help me, but once I sought assistance from my parents, hair stylist, and the Internet, my knowledge and skill began to grow. And if you can find someone who is also on a hair journey, you can learn from each other's mistakes and successes!
Of course the opinions you hear should always be taken with a grain of salt. Not everyone appreciates a head of cornrows or a TWA (teeny weeny afro), but always remember you're not out to please those people. Your natural hair is for YOU to enjoy, so don't get bogged down by haters! Just focus on the positive and they'll change their minds when they see how happy you are.
Who has provided you the most support during your hair journey? Tell me in a comment below!
Ewwww. Hair balls are unsightly, but taking a closer look at them can tell you a lot about the health of your natural hair. Is there a lot of hair caught in your comb? Is the hair dry? Taking note of these characteristics will help you figure out what your hair needs to be as healthy as possible.
First off, let's talk about why hair falls out in the first place. It typically boils down to either breakage or shedding. How can you tell which is which? Examine the ends of a single strand of hair. If you see a white bulb at one end, that hair has been shed. (The white bulb is from the hair root and came out of your scalp.) Shedding is a natural process that occurs in order to make room for new hair growth. You'll probably shed around one hundred hairs on any given day! If you think you're shedding significantly more than that, start by improving your diet. Drink lots of water, make sure you're eating enough protein, and exercise regularly. Hopefully that does the trick, but you might also want to visit your doctor to rule out other underlying reasons for the excessive shedding.
And now for the big bad B-word: breakage. The absence of a white bulb at the end of a hair indicates that the hair broke somewhere along the shaft. There are many reasons for which this might have happened, including:
These are the three things you can control to prevent breakage. By keeping manipulation to a minimum, you reduce the number of times your strands are subject to pulling and tugging forces, as well as friction. Since hair is composed of the protein keratin, it's also imperative that you eat enough protein. Even if you're a vegetarian, you can still stock up on nuts and greens that are packed with protein, such as almonds, cashews, broccoli, and spinach. Lastly, don't forget to moisturize your natural hair as needed. When it dries out it snaps like a twig, so keep those strands hydrated. Avoiding breakage will keep split ends at bay and ultimately allow you to grow longer, healthier, and stronger hair!
MORE HAIR TIPS FOR YOU
The Biggest Natural Hair Mistake I've Ever Made
Your Nails Might Be Damaging Your Hair
Treat Your Natural Hair Like Glass
What's your secret to preventing breakage? Share it in a comment below!
In the last post we learned the basics of what constitutes a protective style. Now that you're familiar with the concept, you're probably wondering which style is best suited for you. Before you spend nine hours in a chair getting a hairdo that you'll be committed to for the next six weeks, first ask yourself the following:
If you're running on a tight schedule, a protective style that takes a full day to install (such as micro-braids) is an unwise choice. Unless your stylist is able to do a portion of your hair over the course of several days, it simply may not be realistic without taking time off work, finding a babysitter, etc. Instead, opt for less time-intensive styles such as jumbo twists and crochet braids.
Not all stylists and salons charge the same price for the same service. Do your research and ensure that you stay within budget. Typically the longer a style takes to install, the more it costs, and independent stylists tend to charge less than brick-and-mortar salons.
Some protective styles are a lot more work to maintain than others. I'm lazy, so box braids and Senegalese twists are my go-to's. Even though they take far longer to install than, say, a weave, I can wake up in the morning and head out the door without touching my hair at all. This is because those styles incorporate all of my natural hair; not a single strand is left loose. If you get a weave done, odds are you'll have to re-straighten your own hair every few days. You'll also have to comb out the weave itself so it doesn't get tangled. If you're prepared for daily maintenance, though, these styles can be fabulous too!
Even though I'm low maintenance I still like to put my hair into different styles from time to time. Again, that's what makes box braids / twists so perfect: they can be worn up in a bun or ponytail, down to the shoulders, and anywhere in between! On the other hand, more static styles like cornrows are great for when you don't have a lot of time to fix your hair (hello, final exams!).
Not all protective styles can be left in for the same amount of time. If you're getting extensions (synthetic/human hair added in), they will likely hold longer than if the style only incorporates your own hair. Similarly, a hairdo that utilizes smaller sections of your hair, such as small box braids, will survive longer than large cornrows. Think about your lifestyle and your finances. If you can afford to be redoing your hair every couple of weeks, go for the shorter-term looks.
6. TAKE DOWN
Removing a protective style can be tedious, especially if it involves extensions. Do you know how to take down a weave by yourself, or will you need help? How much time do you have? Some stylists charge a fee for taking out a style, and many more flat out refuse to do it. One trick I've learned is that you don't need to finish it all in one night. Strategically start from the back and sides, then work your way in toward the middle. If you need to stop, you can always leave the remainder down to hide what's gone. Another alternative is to simply use a headwrap -- no one has to know what's going on underneath!
This is the most critical component of your choice to protectively style your hair. Make sure your stylist doesn't install the hairdo too tightly and refrains from placing undue stress on your hairline. This will lead to breakage and even baldness over time. If you're getting a weave, learn how to cleanse and moisturize your hair underneath. Many people assume they can abandon their hair regimen if they have a protective style, but the truth is your natural hair is still growing and needs to be cared for!
One last thing you might want to consider is how appropriate the style is for your work or school environment. Hopefully they're open-minded enough to realize that the way a person chooses to style her hair has nothing to do with her competence and ability, but unfortunately not all employers are that considerate. For instance, there has been a lot of press lately surrounding the US armed forces and their racists regulations pertaining to natural hair. If the rules in your workplace are unreasonable, I encourage you to stand up for your natural hair! Show your employer that when done properly, dreadlocks can - and do - look professional. Wear your cornrows neatly, and work hard so the company has absolutely no reason to fire you.
What factors do you consider when protective styling? Let me know in a comment below!
I can't believe that out of all the sites in the world wide web, you've managed to stumble across MINE! I feel like this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship -- especially if you have kinky, coily, or curly natural hair. While we can still be buds even if you have straight hair (or no hair at all!), the purpose of this space is to collect everything I've learned about caring for afro-textured hair in a harsh climate.
How harsh, you ask? Let's just say I'm no stranger to bone-chilling minus 40°C winters where entire houses literally get buried under the snow. I'm also accustomed to 35°C (95°F) summers, whether they're dry like a desert wasteland or as humid as a tropical rain forest. As for my hair, it subscribes to the 4B/4C classification if you're into that. This means my strands are densely packed together and don't really have a defined curl pattern.
Unless you have a bunch of time, money, and patience, it can be tricky figuring out how to navigate crazy weather while keeping your hair healthy and your styles in tact. I recently moved from the western Canadian prairies to Toronto, so I'm in the process of re-learning how to care for my natural hair in a new, vastly different climate. If you've relocated or are transitioning to natural, I hope you find the musings in this blog to be both informative and inspiring.
Are you transitioning from relaxed to natural hair? Have you recently moved to a new city?
Tell me about it in a comment below!