Ricky’s NYC Meets Shea Moisture

Okay, so…let’s rewind to March.

Ya’ll know that I love Shea Moisture. About 90% of the products I use on my hair are from this brand. And it’s not because of any sponsorship or payment on their part — I have no involvement with the company on a business level. I started buying their products because they were the only all natural drugstore hair brand that came highly recommended in the natural hair community that I had immediate access to at my local CVS. Everything else back then was only available online for me — Carol’s Daughter, Eden’s Bodyworks, Miss Jessie’s, Camille Rose…I could go on and on.

Carol’s Daughter has a (limited) selection in my CVS now, but all those other brands still require a Google search and some shipping payments from me if I want to purchase them. And I do, sometimes. But as I’ve branched out into other brands, I still always make my way back to Shea Moisture anyway. Not just because of the convenience, but because it has so many great lines aimed at different hair needs, and I can always find things that work really well for my hair, all while never having to break the bank.

So, when I found out one morning on Twitter that Shea Moisture was going to be hosting an event at Ricky’s NYC at the Union Square location, and that Jenell Stewart, one of my favorite YouTubers and natural hair bloggers, would be available for a meet and greet, I was super excited. I spent the next several hours confirming the news, dressing, and doing my hair and makeup. I even dragged my boyfriend with me when he got off work since I don’t handle crowds well.

Turns out I was right to be a little anxious about the crowds. Ricky’s on Union Square is a large store, much larger than the Ricky’s in my neighborhood, and it was filled with naturals of every age, height, weight, and curl pattern. I must say, it was a little overwhelming to be around that many naturals all at once, when unfortunately I don’t get to spend that much time with young black women my age.

I met a few nice people, and we chatted about our hair journeys while sipping the free cocktails offered. It took awhile before I could get to the person I came to see, Jenell Stewart — she was surrounded by admirers and hardly had a break in between fans. I admired the fact that even though she must have been tired and perhaps a little overwhelmed by the hours and hours of greeting, she made sure to have full, meaningful conversations and connections with every person that came up to her. She was never dismissive or rude, and each person left feeling she was as sweet and relatable as she had appeared to be on her YouTube videos.

After what seemed an eternity, I met her myself and was thrilled to bits that she thought my hair was beautiful. We talked styling techniques, the new options that open up as your hair gets longer, and how cute her outfit was (apparently she’s vegan now, and she has clearly lost a LOT of weight). And ya’ll know I had to get a picture:

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Right after this pic was taken, I got a very unexpected surprise. I was about to make a quick and quiet exit, knowing there was a line of women behind me waiting to talk to Jenell, when she said that that before we left, she had something for us. There was a big Shea Moisture sign hanging behind her (you can see it in the pic above in the background), and she reached behind it to reveal a reusable bag full of Shea Moisture goodies that were FREE! I was thrilled, since many of the products were things not yet available in my local CVS.

When I got home and explored the contents of the bag more thoroughly I was…intrigued. With the exception of one item, they were all from the new High Porosity and Low Porosity lines the brand had just released. Now if ya’ll have been keeping up with Shea Moisture at all, you know that in the last few months that have gone CRAZY with the release of several new product lines. It’s my understanding that the goal with this is to cater to as many different hair types and hair needs as possible, so that everyone can find a line that they like and are able to use.

The flip side of this, which I’ve seen from consumers who write comments on their social media, is that some people feel overwhelmed by the vast selection, and feel there are simply too many options. Some pick one or two lines to try, and upon realizing they don’t work for their hair, dismiss the brand as a whole. This is problematic because it’s down to user error — if you tried two lines that didn’t work out for you, it’s likely because neither of them was meant to cater to your hair type or hair needs. Just like with any other brand, a little internet research and a knowledge of your own hair’s needs will do wonders for narrowing down the selection so you can pick products that work for you.

Okay, enough babbling. These are the products that came in my lovely goody bag. I was really surprised they gave me so much. Also, with the exception of the coconut oil, these were all in FULL sizes like you would buy in the store, not travel sizes or samples.

100% Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Head to Toe Nourishing Hydration

Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture Seal Shampoo

Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Co Wash

Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Masque

Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Shampoo

Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Conditioner

Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Leave-In Detangler

Of the many lines that Shea Moisture was popping out in late February/early March, the lines that got the most attention, both from the brand itself in its advertising and from consumers, were the High and Low Porosity lines. Over the last year or so, many in the natural hair community have been arguing that rather than using hair typing, which indicates curl pattern, to determine what products we should use on our hair, we should focus instead on porosity, which gives a scientific explanation of the two extremes at which your hair can struggle to retain moisture.

I’m not very good at the science behind hair, and if you want details on how the porosity of your hair can impact your hair care routine, I’d suggest researching online. However, I can try to sum up, in VERY brief and unscientific terms, the general idea of each type. Low porosity hair, as the name suggests, is not very porous, and therefore doesn’t let in the amount of moisture your hair needs. People with low porosity hair tend to have a sensitivity to protein, so protein treatments, or even daily moisturizers that are protein heavy, can be a bad idea. High porosity hair, on the other hand, is a tad too porous. It lets moisture in, but because it’s so porous, that moisture flows right back out again — think of water going through a strainer, if you need a visual aid. A strainer bowl doesn’t retain the water you put in it — water comes in, but it goes right back out through all those holes. Same is true for high porosity hair. Generally, people with high porosity hair have chemical damage of some sort, either from relaxers, or from bleaching and dyeing their hair. I’m speaking in broad terms here, and the things I’ve said do not necessarily apply to every single person with these traits — again, not a scientist. But if your hair fits any of those broad descriptors and has a hard time retaining moisture, it’s worth looking into it further and doing your own research.

I liked the idea of this system, but was hugely confused about how to figure out if my hair was high or low porosity. The tests YouTubers suggested yielded mixed results. Luckily, Shea Moisture came to the rescue and put a quiz on their website to help confused people like myself. Each time I took it, even if I changed the answer on certain questions I was confused/unsure about, the results were the same — apparently, I have high porosity hair. This is likely because my hair is bleached and colored. So, since receiving these items, I’ve been using the ones that are in the the High Porosity line. This was exciting for me, because that line comes with a new hair masque, and I loooovvee Shea Moisture’s deep conditioners. I was also intrigued about the shampoo and co-wash, and have been working them all into my routine to see how I like them. I decided not to test the Low Porosity line. Since my hair falls in one camp and not the other, the opposing line probably would not yield positive results for my hair. I gave those products to my mom, who’s recently big chopped and whose porosity is, as yet, undetermined since her hair is very short.

I decided to explain my experience with Ricky’s, and my acquisition of so many new products, as an introduction of sorts to the product reviews that are to come in the next few weeks. I will review all the High Porosity line items I own, and then move on to other products I’ve been using that I bought online. I’ve noticed, surprisingly, that a lot of people haven’t done in depth reviews on the new Shea Moisture stuff yet — I suppose it’s because there’s just so much, and it’s easier to do overviews of the products than to review them one by one. But I will try to split up the reviews and focus on specific products so I can give you as much info as possible. Hopefully it’ll be helpful for everyone. 🙂

Thanks for reading my second ridiculously long post in a row. Stay tuned, reviews should be coming in the next week!

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Coloring Natural Hair: My Journey

Okay, so let’s address the giant pink sequined elephant in the room before we really get into this. I haven’t blogged in a very long time. I could use the classic, “Life got in the way” excuse, and that is accurate to an extent. But the more honest answer is simply that I felt I had nothing to blog about. My hair was still growing and was healthy, but at the time of my last post, early summer 2015, I wasn’t doing much in the way of experimentation with my hair and was just desperate for it to not be short anymore. I got into a haircare regimen that worked for me and my product junkie tendencies were lessening, so I didn’t have much to contribute on the product review front. I feared my content would grow too repetitive, and not be able to provide enough new or relevant information for the blog to be worth reading. So eventually, I just decided to stop writing all together.

It’s been almost a year since I made that decision, and loaaaddsss about my natural hair journey has changed since then. I’ve got way more hair, so there’s just more to do and more to take care of now than there was when you last saw me. In addition to the changes brought by new growth, I decided pretty early on that having my hair all one color was just too boring. The minute I had enough length to play with, I began my journey into bleaching and dyeing my hair, something I didn’t initially think I would do so early.

I remember researching how to color my hair and what the process would be. Every piece of new info increased my excitement, but also increased my anxiety. For every story or tip on how bleaching natural hair could make it look amazing, there was another story about how doing so had caused horrible damage, sometimes so much that the person had to do another big chop! I was, understandably, very nervous. But I knew going in that I had a few things working in my favor:

  1. My hair was still very short at this point, About 3 inches if I pulled the longer strands straight. Even if my hair somehow got horribly damaged, big chopping wouldn’t feel too bad since I wouldn’t be losing much length, anyway. Some people cut more than that off doing a routine trim!
  2. Though I didn’t have a lot of hair at the time, I was VERY careful with my hair regimen to stick to my goal of retaining length. I was shampooing with all natural shampoo, conditioning and deep conditioning, and keeping my hair well moisturized with oils and butters throughout the week. I knew I would have no problem dealing with more high maintenance bleached hair, because I already was overprotective and made sure to baby my curls so they wouldn’t split or break.
  3. In the early stages, the plan was always to bleach a few key parts of my hair and see how my hair took it. I never planned to do my whole head in one go, since I didn’t know how my hair would react. So the worst case scenario was having  one damaged section or several damaged pieces which would grow out over time. This goes back to point 1, there was low risk overall because of my lack of length and the limited amount of bleaching I wanted to do.
  4. I always, from the moment I decided I was going to work with color, planned to work with my stylist. This means I had the best possible chance of the experience being a good one. I don’t like the idea of doing my hair at home beyond washing and styling. Anything that involves trims or chemicals is left to the professionals for me. I’d rather pay extra to have everything done exactly as I like than do it at home and run the super high risk of making mistakes.

So, with all my new information swimming in my head, I sent to my stylist. I had never been blonde before, and knew that with my skin tone I probably couldn’t pull off a full head of blonde locks. So I told my stylist to give me a “Beyonce blond” that would highlight my short hair and make it look cute. She sectioned off the top front section of my tapered TWA, which was the longest part of my hair at the time, and bleached only that. She also focused on the last 3/4 of the strand, rather than bleaching down to the root, so no burning for me! The result looked like this:

Blonde hiar

 

As you can see, my stylist did a really good job, giving me a honey blonde that was not too brassy or orange looking. My hair was pretty well taken care of (pats self on back), so though it’s just been bleached in this shot, you can tell it’s not been dried out or damaged at all. My hair is in very small finger coils here, but even when my hair was still really short, I liked to get it as big as possible while still maintaining definition. So when I went on vacation a few days after getting my hair done, I washed it and restyled it, with results that were more to my taste.

Hair 2

This is probably my favorite picture of my hair when it was at this stage. My initial goal in going partially blonde was to make those looser curls I have in the front of my hair more visible — when it was all one dark mass of hair, it was hard to tell where the curl definition really was. This pic shows that my stylist totally gets me and dyed the perfect amount of hair in a color that worked for me.

As the months went on, I stayed on top of my hair routine to make sure that bleached section didn’t dry out, break, or get damaged. I was already addicted to Shea Moisture products before coloring, and as most of you know, pretty much everything they make is sulfate free and color safe, so I didn’t have to really change my products after coloring, just had to read labels for anything new I bought.

The hair continued to grow, and since the blonde was never down to the root, as it grew out it still looked super cute. Shrinkage was my friend here, because you couldn’t really see how much it had grown out, even as my hair got bigger…IMG_0596

November 2015

It was around the time this pic was taken that I began to get bored with my hair. This really shouldn’t have surprised me, because even when my hair was relaxed, I was always changing the cut, style, and to a small extent the color, from one salon visit to the next. By this point, it had been clear my experiment with bleach had not turned out nearly as bad as some naturals on the internet would have had me believing it would. My hair was not dry (at least not any more than it was before, lol), it wasn’t brittle, and it wasn’t breaking. In fact, my hair was still super soft and relatively easy to work with. I was confident that if I bleached my whole head, the results would be the same.

A new issue arose at this point. I knew I wanted something different, and I knew I wanted to double process my hair — basically, I wanted to bleach all of it to lighten it, and then add an intense semi permanent color on top. The question was, WHICH semi-permanent color? I was lucky in that my job at the time had no dress code at all, and encouraged freedom of expression, so I could literally do whatever I wanted with my hair with no consequences. This also meant that my indecisive nature was going to work against me, because I had so many ideas, and not enough confidence in any individual one to go through with it.

So I did what girls have done for years — I appealed to my friends, albeit on social media, to decide with me what might look good. I put up a few pictures of color ideas I found on Google. I made sure all the girls were WOC with natural hair, to get an idea of what the colors might look on my kinky/curly texture. I had three main ideas swimming in my head at the time — one was a deep red/burgundy, similar to the way my mother had been coloring her hair for years. Another was about the same blonde I had in my hair already, just in highlights all over. The last, which I loved but was nervous about, was a gorgeous dark purple. Not a safe color by any stretch, but certainly beautiful if done right.

I posted the pics and a brief explanation of my situation. I went in with the expectation that almost everyone would suggest the red hair, since most WOC I know can pull off some shade of red and look awesome, and since my mom had already successfully styled her hair that way for over a decade. But to my surprise, the clear winner was the purple look I had posted. Almost everyone who commented voted for it, and I had to admit upon looking at it again that it had been the color I was most curious to try, because it was so hard to picture myself with something that far out of my comfort zone.

I have said it before and I will say it again, having a stylist who you like and who knows what they’re doing with regards to your hair is CRUCIAL, particularly when you’re dealing with any sort of chemical process. Jasmine has been my stylist for years, and kept my hair super healthy even when it was relaxed. I had wanted to bleach my bangs years ago when she was still perming my hair, and we tried it briefly ONCE. No serious damage was done, but it also clearly wasn’t lifting my color and leaving it on too long or applying it at the wrong time in between touch ups would have meant serious breakage, which she explained to me at the time.

The only reason she agreed to double process my hair at this point was because it was natural and she felt I was taking very good care of it with my regimen, which would give it the best chance to withstand the potential damage of the bleach. We planned out a date, I sent pictures to her to give her an idea of what color I wanted, and she mixed several dyes at the salon until we got to a shade I liked. I wanted something leaning more on the blue side of purple rather than the red/pink side.

December 2015
December 2015

This photo is hideous, BUT it’s one of the only photos from when I first colored my hair purple that accurately shows what it looked like in the beginning. We went with a realllyyy dark shade of purple. In dim lighting, it could probably have passed as black. Even my boyfriend, who knew I was dyeing my hair purple that day, said that it looked like I’d just dyed the blonde part dark to match my natural hair color, when in reality I’d been in the salon all day bleaching the rest of my hair and then having it colored! The only way it showed up in photos at first was with flash, which is why this photo has such harsh lighting. Later, as some of the color began to wash out, it started to show as more of the true purple I had originally intended:

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My routine had to be tweaked a bit at this point. Maintaining blonde hair is, in some ways, easier. Or at least it was for me, because with blonde hair, you’re only lifting the natural dark colors in your hair, and not placing a pigment on top of that. I’m not much for pools or swimming, so barring the risk of chlorine damage, there isn’t much I could have done that would have drastically altered the shade of blonde I had. Once you’ve double processed however, meaning added a dye on top of the bleached hair underneath, there are other things to consider. The color can and will bleed out a bit with every wash. How quickly it fades and how good it looks while doing it depends on what you do on wash day. All my products were still sulfate free, so there wasn’t an issue there. It was a bit of an adjustment to rinse with cool water instead of hot, though! All in all, the color faded very slowly and I had plenty of time, a good two or three months, before I started to feel I had to get back to my stylist and recolor my hair.

That pretty much brings us to the present. By the time I went in to recolor my hair, spring was around the corner, and I decided the purple might be a little too dark going into the warmer months. I didn’t know what color I wanted to switch to, but Jasmine suggested a plum/burgundy since it was in the same color family. I looked up pics to get an idea of what specific shade I wanted, and set up an appointment. It took a few rounds for the color to really take to my faded brownish-purple hair, but I can now say with some confidence that the color is here to stay, and doesn’t fade as quickly as it used to.

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During this time, my hair has also grown leaps and bounds. It’s firmly out of both TWA territory and that awkward length stage where it’s not long or short. The back is close to hitting my shoulders while curly, and hits a little past my shoulders if I pull a curl straight. Coloring my hair has also had the added benefit of giving me a very clear line of demarkation to indicate where the new growth is coming in. Right now there’s about 2 inches of new growth at my roots. I’m trying to let it grow out as much as possible before bleaching it. I don’t want to risk the more delicate sections of my hair thinning out from bleaching too frequently. But overall, I’m super happy with my experience, and I’m glad I followed my own instincts (and my stylist’s advice) rather than just being scared off by people online who had worse experiences than I did.

As with anything else, you have to research this on your own and decide what will be best for the health of your hair. For myself, I’m tired of dealing with gray (yes, GRAY at 24 years old!) strands all over my head, so bleaching and coloring helps me not have to deal with that, as well as gives me the freedom to be creative with my curls. What more could I ask for?

This post was super long, and you are a trooper if you actually read the whole thing and made it to the end. 🙂 It seemed pointless to split it up, honestly. Over the next few weeks, my goal will be to post some product reviews — I’ve tried loads of things since we last spoke, and Shea Moisture went cray cray with the release of several new product lines, which I got a chance to try (some of it for FREE!). I can’t wait to share all my experiences, and as always, I hope it will be helpful and informative. Love and blessings!

Hair Updates and What I’ve Learned

Hello all! I have become the thing that I loathed in other social media junkies — a creeper. What is a creeper? A creeper is a person who looks at everyone else’s blog posts, Facebook statuses, and Tweets every day, but doesn’t contribute much, if anything, to any of these forums. Yeeaaaahhhh, I’ve been lazy. I miss blogging, but between my new job, thriving relationship, and the fact that I didn’t know what I even wanted to blog about, I was pretty stuck and decided to leave it alone for a bit and focus on life, hoping that inspiration would strike me.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself, both with and without my therapist (she was away on vacation for a bit), and I really feel like I’m in a good place. As a result, my creative side has flourished. I’m back to crocheting again, a hobby I LOVED for a long while, and am working on a gift for someone that I’m super excited about. I also have been taking good care of my hair, and continue to be natural (woop woop!). I have good and bad days when it comes to my hair, like any other woman, but the good days outweigh the bad, and I fall more and more in love with my texture every single day.

Looking back, I’m almost afraid to read my old blog posts regarding natural hair, because I really didn’t know what I was doing. There is a wealth of information out there, but not all of it is right, and the sheer volume of info can be overwhelming to a new natural in addition to being helpful. Now that I’ve been taking care of my hair for about 5 months, I have a list of things I know today about my natural hair that I was clueless about when I big chopped:

1. I have a pretty good handle on my hair type. This, I’ve discovered, comes from a combination of research, working with your hair, and letting it grow long enough to see a clear curl pattern. Most of my hair — the front, crown, and back — are 3c/4a, with ringlets that range in size from teeny tiny to big and loose. The sides and bottom back section of my hair lean more on the 4a/4b side — they have less curl definition and take more effort to style. But thanks to my stylist and lots of practice, I’ve been able to get my hair looking pretty uniform all around and have figured out a wash day routine that works for me.

2. My hair LOVES all or mostly natural products. Sulfates dry it out, and so do the so-called natural products made by brands like Dark and Lovely. The only reason a company famous for its relaxer starts an Au Naturale line is to profit off what they see as the “natural hair trend,” and I’m not interested in feeding into that. Plus, their products did NOTHING for my hair! On the flip side, Shea Moisture products are amazing for my hair. They are, to my knowledge, all natural, smell fabulous, and do wonders for my hair, keeping it well moisturized and clean without stripping it.

3. Deep conditioning is a MUST! I did it once with my stylist two months ago and thought I wouldn’t have to be bothered with it. But my hair is so much easier to deal with when I deep condition it once a week. I’ll be reviewing the one I’m using in an upcoming post if you want a more in-depth explanation of my routine.

4. Heat is not always the enemy. I have banned and will continue to ban flat irons, blow dryers, and curling irons from my head. However, a hooded dryer helps a lot with deep conditioning, and the heat is evenly distributed in a way that doesn’t attack your hair. I recently bought a dryer for at-home use from Hot Tools, and I love it so far, even though it makes my head look like Jiffy Pop, lol!

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5. My hair grows fast, but my curls make it harder to see. I was getting very discouraged thinking that my hair was growing too slow, and that I would never achieve any real length. However, I started looking at old big chop pics and comparing them to newer selfies, and I realized that my hair has grown quite a lot in the last few months. It’s easy to not see it because it is so gradual, and because my hair can get flat at night and look super short. But it’s slowing turning into a bigger, better afro, and I absolutely love it.

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With all this new knowledge in hand, I feel like I can get some decent growth by the end of this year. I don’t have any specific goals, because so many factors effect hair growth, and many of them are beyond my control. All I want is to continue to see progress, and focus on the health of my hair so that it has the best chance of length retention. I will try to be more diligent in documenting this on here as well, so that you and I can watch the progress together, and I can have evidence of what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for sticking with me, I’ll talk to you soon!

To Wig or Not to WIg? That is The Question!

So I’ve been having this recurring dream, and it’s been very consistent for the last month or so. In the dream, I’m always shopping for — you guessed it — a wig. But there’s always some obstacle that keeps me from being able to purchase one. The salespeople are unhelpful, none of the wigs fit my head, or they just don’t look right on me. No matter the situation, I always wake up wig-less and shocked at my short hair.

It seems my brain is so used to me having long hair, it’s willing to create that length by any means necessary. Naturally in my waking life, I’ve started asking the controversial question: To wig, or not to wig?

Let’s face it, if you’re black (can’t speak for other races, but if this happens to you, let me know), wigs are EVERYWHERE. Beauty supply stores are chock full of ’em. And depending on what neighborhood you’re in (think parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx), beauty supply stores aimed at black hair needs are pretty much everywhere. I may be a Queens girl, but I’m in these two boroughs all the time, because Ramon lives in one, and I go to school in the other. And if you’re in my position, with very short hair that doesn’t have the myriad styling options that long hair does, it’s very tempting to recreate the length I miss with fake hair.

But therein lies the issue. It’s FAKE hair. And everyone knows it. I’ve been very public about my natural hair journey and my big chop, a decision that I do not regret and would do again in a heartbeat. But it makes it difficult to plop a lace front weave on and pass it off as my hair. It may not even look 100% real for one thing, but even if it did, it’s common knowledge that my hair is short and we all would know it didn’t magically grow 10 inches overnight. So if I wore a wig, I’d have to be okay with everyone knowing it’s a wig and being aware that I’m rocking fake hair. And while that works for lots of people, including some old friends of mine, I don’t know that it would work for me.

I wanted a wig because I deeply miss the versatility of long hair. I miss twirling strands of hair around my finger during class, I miss flipping it over my shoulder when I get warm or want it out of my face, I miss running my hands through it. All of this was a normal part of my life for 22 years, and now it isn’t. And I think I need to find a way to accept that and keep working with what I’ve got rather than wearing something to hide what I’ve done.

My hair may not be growing as fast as I’d like, but it IS growing, and I learn things everyday about how to properly care for it and get it to look the way I want it to look. Hiding it under a wig, weave, or extensions keeps me from learning how to rock my TWA at every stage, from buzz cut short to twist-out length. So in the end, no matter how tempting it is at times, I think I’m going to leave the wigs alone for now and stick with what I’ve got. Wasn’t this whole journey about loving myself as I am, anyway?

What’s your opinion on wigs/weaves/extensions/etc.? Does it impede the natural hair process, or help it?

New Directions

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Hi, loves!

So I disappeared again, surprise surprise. *womp womp* I do have a few legitimate excuses that you probably don’t want to hear. School, work, life.

But more than that, I wanted to take this blog in a new direction. My personal friends know that I’ve tried every kind of blog imaginable — makeup, running, crocheting, and now natural hair. I love too many things to stick to just one, and I hoped to make at least one of my blogs into a little at-home business.

But life goes on, and i have different goals. For the first time since I began blogging at around age 17, I want to blog purely for fun, and about EVERYTHING. I want it all on one page — this page. And I want to share it all with you. My struggles, my triumphs, my day-to-day life and all it entails. I’m tired of labelling this blog, and labelling myself. I just can’t put myself in a box and dedicate myself to one thing (though I admire people who can). i’m far too all over the place, and instead of fighting it, I want to run with it! Maybe letting the world see all of my interests instead of just a few will be more interesting.

So, in the spirit of this change, let’s talk about my week a little bit. The end of the semester has been CRAZY. I was already behind, held back by depression, anxiety, and other negative things that have the innate ability to drag us all down to the lowest depths of despair. Now I’m catching up, and boy has it been hard. But for the first time in a long while, I’m beginning to enjoy my work again. I’m learning to find pleasure in things I had lost my passion for over time, and it feels wonderful.

The hair is still growing, and getting wilder everyday. I’ve found that going a little lighter on the gel still gives me the hold I want, but keeps my hair from being too greasy during the week. Fun fact: in my dreams, I always have long, gorgeous natural curly hair. I’m sometimes rather shocked, and a wee bit disappointed, to wake up with this little afro! But I fall in love with it all over again every day, so it works out. 🙂

In other news, the Mets have been winning (Armageddon, anyone?), though it seems they’re about to lose to the Yankees tonight. I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts, and maybe when I’m 80 they’ll make it to the World Series, and Ramon and I can sit in the back with our children and grandchildren cheering with those stupid #1 gloves.

Looking for a job at the moment, preferably in a museum so I can work my way up using my research skills. I just know I’m meant to be in a back room somewhere with old documents and files, digging for hidden secrets and discovering the past. I just need someone to see what I can do and hire me to do it. Everything in its own time, I guess…graduating is the first priority.

Day 11: My Wash Day Routine and Products

Hello, all! I need to get back in the habit of writing here every single day. Things have been super busy between spending time with Ramon and going to school, so sometimes I forget to write until it gets late, and by then there seems little point in posting because you’re all asleep!

Today was another wash day, and it was kind of a weird one. I had HORRIBLE stomach cramps (thank you, Mother Nature) which kept me up all night. While I tossed and turned, completely unable to sleep, I noticed my hair had turned super greasy and flat, and decided that the warm water of a shower might help my stomach pain as well as my limp hair. I have to say it felt lovely after a week or so of not using shampoo and only co-washing (washing with conditioner). I used Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Hydrating Soak Shampoo and applied it liberally to get a good lather. Yes, I know it has sulfates in it. No, I don’t care at the moment. I’m not quite on that all natural products kick just yet, and I want to use up the products I’ve got before I go shopping for anything new.

Next, I applied my Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner. I love, love, LOVE this stuff, as I’ve mentioned in the past. Sometimes I rinse it out, as I did today, some days I use it as a leave-in. Works great for both and keeps my hair super soft!

I let the conditioner sit for a bit while I scrubbed with my peppermint shower gel from Bath and Body Works, then rinsed off everything and hopped out of the shower. Finding a post-wash product order that works for me and gives me the curl definition I want is still a trial and error process, but this is what I’ve got going right now.

Once I’ve towel dried my hair so that it’s damp, but not soaking wet, I apply my Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Coil Moisturizing Soufflé. If you’ve been reading the blog for a bit, you know that I didn’t particularly care for this product after I got it. However, I’ve found a use for it in my routine — it’s great for moisturizing my hair and night and on wash day, and starts my hair curling so that it’s prepared for the other products I use to give it definition.

So I apply a generous amount of this all over my hair, being sure to massage my scalp as I go. Then, I decided I needed an oil to seal in the moisture, something that every naturalista seems to recommend. Not having olive oil lying around the house like I usually do, I decided to use my Motions Marula Natural Therapy Hair and Scalp Oil, a product I used back when my hair was relaxed. My hair soaks it up like a sponge, and it seems to do a decent job of keeping the moisture in so it’s not too dry. The oil comes in a spray bottle, but rather than spray it directly onto my hair, I prefer to spray it into my hand (usually about 5 sprays) and then apply it from there.

I then sat for a bit and let all that product work its way into my hair. I used this time to get dressed, watch TV, and of course play video games! After about 20 minutes, it was time to start putting on styling products. I began with my favorite, my Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Soufflé, because it adds extra moisture while giving great shine and curl definition. During the week, this is all I need to refresh my curls, but on wash day, an extra product with a little more hold is needed to really make my curls pop and keep my hair from looking frizzy or fluffy. So after applying the Shea Moisture product, I also add in a decent amount of Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel. This adds a nice, firm hold to my hair and gives AMAZING curl definition. I usually use this for two to three days after I wash my hair, and after that there is enough product in my hair that it just needs to be refreshed with water and the Curl Enhancing Soufflé to look good.

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My routine probably sounds very complicated and like I use a ton of products, but it actually goes by very quickly, and the whole process takes about 20-30 minutes. I’m learning very quickly that my natural hair needs lots of things to keep it moisturized and styled, and that natural hair in general tends to be just as high maintenance as relaxed hair, if not more. That is just the nature of ethnic hair and something I have to work with. I find this process of rediscovering what my hair texture is and what I can do with it fun, so the added time at home maintaining and styling my hair is not problematic, but it’s definitely something to think about if you’re still on the fence about going natural.

I hope this post was interesting/helpful to my fellow naturalistas, and to anyone else who wanted to know just what I’m putting in my hair to make it look the way it does. This routine will be adjusted gradually over time as my hair grows and requires different things, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as that happens, so stay tuned!

Day 10: My First Co-Wash

Hello, lovelies!

I’m trying not to over wash my hair, since I know the curlier the hair is, the less it needs to be thoroughly cleaned. However, with all the products I’m using in my hair on a day to day basis for styling, it doesn’t take long for my hair to feel stiff and dirty. The compromise? A co-wash.

For those not in the know, a co-wash is washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. Many fellow naturalistas do this in between shampoos to keep their hair feeling fresh without stripping it. So I grabbed my Shea Moisture conditioner, the only one I have at the moment, and hopped in the shower.

My hair felt FAB afterward. Soft and fluffy to the max! It was also really easy to style afterward and kind of fell right into place. I’m learning that a combo of the Eco Styler gel and my Shea Moisture Curling Souffle works the best — using one or the other requires the use of too much product at one time and makes my hair too stiff.

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It’s been a very relaxing Sunday. Ramon (the boyfriend) is over and we’re watching basketball. The snow here in NYC is preventing us from going out and doing much, so we’ve been at my place, and I haven’t had to do my makeup (though I’m wishing I did it, anyway — I feel naked without it).

Also, it could be wishful thinking, but I believe I’m starting to see some new growth, particularly on the sides of my head where my hair was really cut short. Little curls are forming where there weren’t any before, and i’m excited to see progress so soon. I know it’ll be a long while before my hair is noticeably longer, but at least I’m headed in the right direction.

Day 9: Product Junkie, Much?

Most of the natural blogs I’ve been reading give the same simple, practical advice — DO NOT BECOME A PRODUCT JUNKIE! Meaning, do not go out and buy everything you can find that looks like it’s made for natural hair and try to use all of it on your head at the same time. You won’t have a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t, and you only need one of each thing (shampoo, conditioner, oil, etc) to see results in the beginning.

But did I listen? Noooot really.

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Yeaaaahh, I’ve got a lot of stuff. The Dark and Lovely products you see in the pic get the least love, because they don’t work as well on my short, natural hair as they did on my transitioning hair. Shea Moisture is good, Motions worked better for my relaxed hair, but their oil will do for now until I find something more natural like olive oil.

But the product I really feel like raving about (and which you already know I love if you’ve seen my Twitter) is the Eco Styler Olive Oil gel. This stuff gives me the BEST curls and a strong hold that isn’t insanely crunchy. I’m looking forward to using this on wash and go’s when my hair gets longer, because I think it will help immensely with giving my 4b/c hair the curl definition I want. I would write a formal review, but my hair is too short at the moment for me to really be able to give it an accurate assessment. More product reviews will come once the hair moves out of the TWA stage.

Speaking of which, anyone ever get sick of the TWA stage really quickly? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my short hair. It just feels too good to be true in some ways. It’s too easy to care for. I’m so used to having to section off parts, take an hour long shower shampooing and conditioning, and of course the NIGHTMARE of detangling. Now all of that is gone and I don’t know what to do with it. So I give it a quick but thorough wash and put on gel to define the curl. That’s all. I want to be able to do more, like style it different ways every day, and I just…can’t. I know I need to enjoy this stage while I’m in it, because caring for my SUPER thick, coarse hair is going to be a pain when it grows, but part of me is a little impatient sometimes to get to where I want to be. And I feel like it’s important to share those moments of weakness so my fellow naturals who have felt that way don’t think they’re the only ones.

Overall though, things are good. I do enjoy being able to focus on school and not stress about styling my hair every day. I can petty much roll out of bed, run my fingers through it with some gel, and be done. Makeup adds a really nice touch, and that takes awhile, but I’m learning to be quick with it like I used to be. I’m experimenting with color and drama, since my skin tone can handle it without my looking garish or over the top. This was my look today:

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The dark eyes and light lip gloss really worked out well! And in this pic you can see what I meant about the curls, too!

Were you a product junkie when you went natural? How long did it take you to find the products that worked best for you?

 

Day 8: Wash Day and the Wonders of Satin

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Hello all, and happy Hump Day! 🙂 Hope you’re making it through this (freezing!) week in one piece.

Yesterday was my first wash day since the second big chop, and I’ve got to tell you, I loved how quick and easy it was! A scrub here and there and some conditioner in the shower, and I was all done! It also dried in a decent amount of time so I could go to school without catching the flu!

Styling continues to be relatively easy as well. I’m still experimenting with a loofa sponge to get more curl definition in the top part of my hair. It’ll be interesting to see my curl pattern in more detail as the hair grows.

I also bought satin pillowcases for me and mom, to keep our hair nice and moisturized while we sleep. Mine is (of course) pink, and sleeping on it has been fabulous! I feel so lush even though I only spent $8!

Speaking of Lush, I went to their store in Manhattan to do some skincare shopping. My face is on full display now, so my skin might as well look good! I already have some of their toners and moisturizers, but I bought their Coal Face scrub for the mornings when I’m prepping my face for makeup. So far it’s really good! If you want a full review, I’ll write one in the next few weeks. Just let me know in the comments!

I’ve also been having lots of fun with makeup and jewelry. It’s nice to add to my look and to play with my overall sense of style. Who knew cutting my hair would lead to so many changes!

The cut has been a universal hit so far, and my boyfriend, who finally saw it in person yesterday, couldn’t stop touching it. He was surprised at how curly my natural hair was, and how it had the similar soft texture of his Puerto Rican hair. I was enormously flattered!

What surprises did you encounter when you went natural? How did others react?

Day 7: Styling the TWA

Hello, lovelies!

Today was a really good day. My initial shock over my new hairdo is quickly subsiding, and in its place is excitement over the start of this fabulous journey. I’ve been researching how to care for my hair in preparation for when it grows back, and there are some habits I know I want to maintain early, even though there’s hardly any hair to care for right now. The biggest thing is to consistently wash and condition the hair at home since I won’t be in a salon for a long while.

I’m learning very quickly that styling depends largely on how your hair curls, and that I’ll have a much easier time with all of this if I work with my texture instead of against it. Right now, the hair in the front of my head stretching back to the crown is very curly and thick. It looks best sticking up rather than slicked back, and with lots of gel to enhance the curl. The hair on the sides of my head and towards the bottom, which is shorter, doesn’t curl quite as much yet, and looks best when I flatten it down a bit so it looks uniform. This can and will change over time, but this is my hair as it stands today.

Also, here are some products I’m loving…and unfortunately a couple I’m leaving behind. All are from the drugstore because I didn’t want to shell out massive amounts of money on something I was 100% committed to at the start. I’ll try to use up what I’ve got, even the products I’m not thrilled with, and then decide what to keep and what brands to upgrade.

Love It:

Shea Moisture Curling Gel Soufflè

This stuff is FABULOUS. It does a great job of curling the curly bits of my hair and keeping the rest uniform, and it lasts all day. I hope this still works when my hair is longer, because it has the potential to create great wash n’ go curls!

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner

Noticing a trend here? Shea Moisture is a big hit with my hair! This conditioner is super moisturizing and leaves my hair nice and soft. I’ll get back to you on whether it detangles my hair well when I have more hair to detangle!

…Leave It:

Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Coil Moisturizing Soufflè

This does NOTHING for my hair. It adds a little moisture, which other products do just fine, but it doesn’t give me the curls and coils it promises. It just…sits there. And sometimes it takes awhile to dry and creates a goopy, yellow mess on my hair — not cute! I’ll try to use it up, but it’s definitely not a favorite.

I’m trying not to buy too many things too quickly, so that sums up most of my hair collection at the moment. I’m a product junkie in most cases, though, so there’s sure to be new things added in as time goes by.

In other news, my grandma saw my hair for the first time today. She was shocked, after having done my hair most of my childhood and helping me grow it, to see that it was all gone. But even she had to admit it was a nice cut and looked good on me, so everyone left the conversation happy. It helped that I’m learning to rock this look with nice earrings and a new go to makeup look, so the overall effect is very polished. I feel more like a woman now when I step out the door, and less like a young girl. Maybe that’s a good thing all around. I hope it doesn’t fade as the hair grows back.