Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Journey to the Gulf: A Crying Shame

From time to time, I must deviate from my discussion of hair to talk about pressing issues.  Once again, it is necessary to do so as I continue to follow what is happening in the Gulf.  I recently traveled to the Gulf Coast region and the pictures below show what I saw which was appalling.  We visited Pensacola and Gulfport /Biloxi where oil had clearly stained the beaches.  I was able to witness oil in the water, tar boils on the beach, clean up crews, media presence and very disheartened communities.  The most heartwrenching aspect of it all was standing on the beach in 90 degree + weather and not being able to get into the water because of the oil.  This will definitely hurt the fishing, hotel and tourist industries in the areas affected and prevent tourists from coming to the areas.  You could feel the sadness of the people while walking around.  It was so difficult to see little children who had come to the beach with their parents, longing  to go in the water only to be told that they could not venture in.  My heart also goes out to all of the sea life and birds so greatly impacted by this awful tragedy. Below are some pictures of what I saw.  This is what happens when there is an oil spill and reckless disregard for the beautiful environment.  Truly, if Natural Is Cool Enough (in this instance, our natural ocean) then why destroy it?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Final Natural Hair Rules and T-shirt Contest

Recently, I took a brief journey and every where that I traveled, provided no respite from the heat.  So I continue to sport my updo and abide by my natural hair rules to get me through the summer, naturally.  So here, I will share with you the final of my list of a total of 10 rules. Remember, these rules are mere suggestions that I hope you will find helpful.

But before doing so, please note that the final (of the current lavendar and yellow), N.I.C.E. t-shirt contests is on.  After the winner receives this shirt, these colors will be retired for N.I.C.E. shirts forever!  So, I hope you will be a winner of this shirt.  To win, you must be a follower or sign on as a follower of this blog and answer the following questions.  The first to do so, by posting a response to this blog, with the correct answers, to the questions below, will be the winner!


1.  Who is the creator of the dolls in the post entitled "Black Dolls with Natural Hairstyles: Truly N.I.C.E.?
2.  What is the third natural hair rule?
3.   Tell us your hair rule (it must be different from rules 1-10 presented on this blog)!

Good luck and enjoy the natural hair rules below!

Natural Hair Rules: (7-10)

Rule # 7

Avoid Products That Make "Miracle" Claims About Your Hair Such as:

1. It will make it grow.
     2. It will thicken your hair.
   3. It will make it stronger.
You know the drill.  I am not saying that the claims are wrong for all products but the reality is that you generally do not have proof that the product can do what it says it will do.  So why not just stay natural with your products, stop trying product after product and love your hair naturally to growth, strength and thickness if that is what you desire.

Rule # 8
Do not put anything in your hair that you personally can't put in or take out and that does not enable you to wash your hair whenever you want to because it will ruin the style.

1. Extensions of any kind
2. Weave
If you can put either of the above in yourself and take it out, and you do not have to pay anyone to do it, then you might feel comfortable doing so.  But, at the end of the day, when you have a natural style and you are wearing your own hair as it grows out of your scalp, you don't have to be beholden to anyone else to take care of your hair and you can wash it when you please. 

Rule # 9
Be Mindful of What You Acquire In Hair Supply Stores

This rule brings to the forefront again, a number of points from previous rules.  Many of the products of Hair Supply stores contain harsh chemicals, mineral oils, make miracle claims, are over-priced and there are little to no natural products.
Suggestion:  Go to health food stores, go to the hair product aisle, read the ingredients of selected products and keep it natural. 

Rule # 10
If you must go to someone to get your hair done naturally and the person who is doing your hair puts on gloves before applying the product (with the exception of natural henna)
you may want to ask why or ask to see the ingredients of the product.

If gloves are needed to protect his/her hands from the product, what about your hair and scalp?
At the very least, you should have the opportunity to read the ingredients so you can decide if the product is natural enough.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Natural Hair Rules: Part II

This post is to continue an exploration of Natural Hair Rules.  The fourth rule is:

# 4)  Avoid Products that Contain Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a byproduct of the distillation of crude oil. Crude oil is a term that leaves a sour taste in our mouths right now due to the BP Oil Spill.  In any event, although I am still very devastated about that situation, I will stay focused on the discussion at hand.   Rather than reiterating information that has already been written on mineral oil in terms of natural hair and an informed opinion, please check out the following link:
  After reading this article you can make a determination as to whether you feel using mineral oil in your hair is appropriate.  Many hair products do contain mineral oil so beware.

# 5. Avoid Harsh Dye Products that contain Ammonia and other harsh chemicals.

Definition of Ammonia:  "Ammonia, chemical symbol NH3, can take the form of a strong smelling liquid or gas. Most popularly, consumer and commercial products use the alkaline substance to clean grime or fertilize crops. Even in low concentrations, inhaling ammonia or getting the solution on your skin can cause burning, fainting, or death, so always use caution when handling this chemical."
The above information can be found at http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-ammonia.htm
Many hairdyes use ammonia.  In a previous post on this blog, I wrote a piece about Henna and the coloring and conditioning benefits of it as a natural approach to dyeing your hair.  Check it out and then you can surely adhere to Rule # 5.

# 6. Be a Minimalist About Your Hair
The Less Product, The Better
5 Key ingredients:

A natural shampoo
A natural conditioner
Shea Butter (or another natural moisturizer)
A natural dye if you must have color variation

Of course all of the above are mere suggestions.  The key point here is that the more information that you have about caring for your hair the better because certainly,
Final Natural Hair Rules and T-shirt contest soon!  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hair Scandal: Little Girl removed from Class Because of her Olive Oil Hair Moisturizer!

I will continue my Natural Hair Rules soon as well as the upcoming announcement of the final Summer T-shirt contest which will also begin soon, but I must interrupt these items to share this first.  An 8-year old little girl was removed from her class becase her teacher did not like her olive oil hair moisturizer. The Teacher claims that she is allergic to the product  The NAACP has stepped in on this one and her parents plan to pursue a  law suit. In the meantime, the little girl has been waiting for a decision to be made for her to return to her Honors Class.  This is beyond scandalous!  Take a look at this story and see what you think.  I have provided a video and article below for your review.  Perhaps this is an example of a statement that Natural is NOT Cool Enough in school, and that is a problem. 

Article with Video:

Second Article:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Natural Hair Rules

Recently I read a book by Michael Pollan entitled Food Rules.  I was very intrigued by the book and immediately began to recognize how some of these fantastic rules for eating healthy and naturally could be transformed into natural hair rules.  So, here, I begin a series of three posts in which I will provide what I believe are Natural Hair Rules to strive for.  I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on them, that is whether you agree or disagree and why.  So, the first three rules, out of a total of ten are:

Rule # 1:  Define your natural
  • Chemicals or no chemicals at all including hair product, hair dyes, extensions or no extensions, etc.
  • In defining YOUR natural you should decide what natural means for you.
To help you in your decision, I have developed a natural hair continnuum.  I hope it helps you decide.

a) no more perm (perhaps the big chop); wearing your hair completely natural or straightening hair with hot comb or flat iron only.
b) Using chemical products (shampoos, conditioners, dyes, etc.)

a) no more perm; no more straightening of any kind
b) wearing braided extensions or sister locks
c) using natural product only

Completely natural
a) no more perm
b) hair is worn in the texture in which it grows out of your scalp such as braids (you own hair, no extensions), locks (your own hair), Teeny weeny afro or other natural style.
c) natural hair products only

Rule # 2: What Would your African Ancestors recognize about your hair? If your ancestors would not understand the texture, avoid whatever process is necessary to achieve the unrecognizable texture.

Imagine your pre-slavery, African ancestors (if you are African American, Brazilian, from the Caribbean or any of the nations where Black people dwell in the Americas and their ancestors were slaves) seeing your hair texture today.  Would they understand the texture?  Would it appear to be your natural hair to them? Would the texture make sense to them?

Rule # 3:  Avoid hair products that contain ingredients that you have no idea what they are such as Pollan's advice for natural food ingredients which is if a third grader can't pronounce the ingredients, don't use it/

Why not try shea, jojoba, natural oils, citrus, aloe and products with only all natural oils.  They're out there or you can make you own.

Stay tuned for the next three rules which all are in line with the concept that N.I.C.E...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Creativity, Natural Hair and Summer Updos For Various Lengths

This is my last of three posts on Summer Naturally.  The topic today is updos which is very appropriate since today, it was extremely hot in terms of weather.  The updo, was therefore imperative for me.  What is meant by an updo is basically wearing your hair so that it is above your neck. This is easy to accomplish with natural hair, whether your hair is short, mid-length, long, loose, braided or in locks.  Essentially, what is needed to achieve the best updo styles are bobby pins or clips, oil, shea butter or gel (your favorite moisturizers) and creativity.  Today, I took about a quarter size of shea butter, rubbed it into my hands, and then rubbed it into my hair thoroughly. I took my locks, which are mid-back in terms of length, and gathered them into a high ponytail (on top of my head) using a cloth headband to secure the pony.  I then split the locks into two sections and wrapped half in one direction and then the other half in the other direction (around the first section).  I then secured the lock bun with bobby pins, to ensure no loose ends were sticking out.  The outcome was very similar to the picture below, although I believe that her hair may be longer than mine, given that her bun is larger. This is a quick and simple updo style which can be adorned with a colorful band or scarf around the bun or however you would like to dress it up.

Another take on this is to leave the hair partially unwrapped, and let it sweep to the side as pictured below.  This was my style for an evening out.  There is so much variation that is possible.  The main goal is to have fun!

There are also a  number of wonderful updo styles for naturalistas who do not have locks as pictured below.
I hope that you will try some of these wonderful styles.  The most important thing is to  be creative, be willing to try new ideas and have fun in the process. The bottom-line is that N.I.C.E. for updos!

Here are some photos and videos to get you started.  Enjoy!

    and also for short hair http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubnFUkjHCCc

Some Photo Ideas





Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coloring Your Hair Naturally: The Henna Experience

As my second in the series of three Summer Hair Naturally pieces, the focus is color! During the summer, many of us get free spirited, a bit more relaxed and adventurous.  So, the result for our hair is often color...sometimes just a tinge and sometimes very vibrant!  To that end, I will share with you a natural wonder for coloring our hair and that is Henna.  The first step in this discussion is to define Henna.  Henna is a shrub, Lawsonia inernis. It has fragrant redish flowers; The dried leaves of this plant is often used for hair coloring.  Below are pictures of Henna.

So the process of using Henna is not complicated at all.  It's wonderful for natural hair as a dye for a number of reasons. Henna serves to color your hair and is also a natural conditioner. Whenever I color my hair, I go to a health food store and I buy natural henna.  I will not indicate the brand, as this is not an advertisment but merely information.  Henna has a consistency that feels like dirt.  So in following the instructions, what is generally needed is a plastic or wooden bowl and spoon, hot water, gloves for your hands (so they don't get stained) and a plastic hair cap.  You add hot (almost boiling) water to your henna (following the measurements in the information packet for your henna product), along with apple cider vineger, then mix until the henna is a creamy consistency and then apply it to your hair. Parting your hair in sections is the best way to go or separating your locks into groups. You want to saturate your hair with the henna.  It is a very messy process, so you want to cover your shoulders with a towel that you're not fond of or some other type of covering or old t-shirt.  Leave the henna in your hair for about an hour (or the timeframe indicated in your henna package information package).  Then rinse your hair thoroughly (in the shower if possible  because, as mentioned above, it is a bit of a messy process).  You want to rinse your hair very thoroughly so take your time because your hair will feel gritty it as you are rinsing it.  I usually rinse until the water runs clear and no color transfers to my hands as I remove my gloves once my hair is initially rinsed.  I use my shower head to rinse off any henna in the shower.  Below are a couple of  videos and photos to give you more insight into the process.  The bottom line is that Henna to add a little color for the summer is another fun way for the N.I.C.E. experience.  Enjoy!