Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday 'Fro

It's almost 9 o'clock and I'm still at work. *sigh* This is what I signed up for.

Anywhoo, a little weekend inspiration for your natural. You've probably seen this picture before, but I can't get enough of it. How fly is she? I can't WAIT for my hair to grow out this big. With a slinkly, shimmery, sequin dress? And platform peeptoes? What?! Killin' 'em, I tell ya.

Happy Friday! Oh... and GO STEELERS!!!
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Must Share Vid: Beautiful 'Fros

Some inspiration for your own personal style arsenal.

My favorite? The pink flower at 1:52. In a sundress and some strappy sandals? Whoo chile, I can't wait for the summer. :o)

Mulling Over Mineral Oil

Ah, the ol' mineral oil debate. Some people swear by it, while others have declared fatwah on the substance. The debate has gotten pretty heated.

But what's the fuss all about? In a nutshell -- a VAST majority of hair products, especially for black hair, are made up mostly of mineral oil. Go ahead, check those product labels. Pink Oil, Perm Repair, MoistureMax... mineral oil -- also known as paraffinum liquidum -- is one of the first ingredients listed.

There are many who say mineral oil is bad for you -- that it coats the air, making it unable to "breathe" or take in any other nutrients; that it can build up, make hair brittle and cause breakage; that it can even cause cancer.

But to every point, there's a counterpoint. Those who swear by mineral oil say it keeps their hair shiny; it makes their hair feel moisturized; and that it doesn't build up too much, as long as you wash your hair properly.

So who's on the right side of the strand here? I used a little bit of my journalistic muscle (yeah, School of Communications!) and found an abstract of a study conducted by the research and development arm of a beauty company in Mumbai, India.

The firm compared the effects of coconut, sunflower and mineral oil on hair. The conclusion:
Among three oils, coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. Both sunflower and mineral oils do not help at all in reducing the protein loss from hair.
The scientists say the difference all comes down to structure -- molecular structure. The structure of coconut oil allows it to penetrate the hair shaft, making it stronger and helping to prevent damage. But the structure of both mineral and sunflower oil don't allow them to penetrate the hair, and so they can't help make it any stronger than it already was.

So for those of you who said that mineral oil simply coats the hair (kinda like a folicular Saran Wrap), you were right! But if you like shine, maybe mineral oil isn't that bad. It just isn't that good either. It won't kill you, but it won't help to make your hair any healthier than it already is.

As for me and my hair -- we only like molecularly-friendly oils. More coconuts please!

Hair of the Day: Power Puff

I usually avoid the Puff at all costs -- mostly because I have large forehead, but also for other reasons that I'll explain later. But this morning I got the bright idea to try it with a bang.

I know, I know, that's nothing new to a lot of naturals, but the curly bang always looked kinda weird on me. Those few front curls were always a little too big and a little too bouncy. So when I tried them before, it looked less like a bang and more like the result of an electrical shock.

But wouldn't you know, the curls in the front behaved today. Most likely, it's because I styled this weekend with a moisturizing cream rather than a conditioner. The result -- my hair formed a more moisturized and controlled version of its pencil-width curls, rather than clumping into larger, marker-width coils, as it usually does with a conditioner.

So here it is, the first puff that I don't feel like hiding. I paired with some geometric, dangly earrings balance the height of the puff, and to keep from looking too schoolgirl-ish. And just for kicks and giggles, I took this side view shot -- and suddenly realized how big my puff really is.

Let it never be said that a ponytail can't make a statement. :o)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Color Me, Mine

As I mentioned in my first post, I am rocking a head of chemical- and color-free curls for the first time since I was a little girl. Now, I've been relaxer free since 2001, but, if my hair had a color story, it would be called "Taste the Rainbow."

It all started freshman year. Fresh on the campus at Howard, my crew consisted of five other ladies with eclectic personalities and even more eclectic tastes. Two of the girls closest to me -- Tara and Jazz -- were art majors, who'd already spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with their hair in high school.

It would take one trip to the beauty supply store on Georgia Avenue to get me and my bestie Shavon to experiment too. Tara introduced us to the semi-permanent color aisle, where brands like Adore and Clairol Jazzing jumped out at us. We soon learned that these products could color your hair -- without really coloring your hair.

Promptly, we each selected a color. Again, we each felt the need to have a "look." Jazz chose a vibrant purple rinse, while Shavon selected a more beginner-friendly burgundy shade. Tara knowingly picked up a red, as if she'd done this before -- because she had. I didn't know what to pick. Eventually, Tara selected a hot pink for my tresses.

We got back to the dorm and got to work. Now, while I knew a rinse wouldn't produce a drastic change, I had expected the results to be have a little more oomph than they did. After we washed, dried and flat-ironed (I was still pressing my hair back then), we peered at each others' heads, trying to make out the five-dollar colors we'd selected. We squinted, turned our heads, and directed each other into the light until someone exclaimed, "OOH! I see it! Okay, I see it now."

Two days later I was walking home from class as the late afternoon sun started to set behind me. At the top of the hill by Founder's Library, I ran into a friend, Terri. We exchanged hi's, and then...

"Omigod! Your hair is pink!"

It is? I thought to myself. Then I peered up over the top of my glasses to look at a lock that was hanging freely in my face. The sun had caught it at just the right angle, revealing a bright fushia cast over my brown-black mane.

Oh wow. You CAN see it.

I smiled. "Yeah," I said nonchalantly to Terri. "My hair's pink. Colored it a few days ago."

She smiled back. "That is SO cool."

I walked home, grinning to myself.


Hola.. Jambo... Aloha... All that good stuff. :o)

Whoo hoo! I'm finally here!

Hey guys. After months of quietly lurking and blog-stalking any- and everybody with something to say about natural hair, I finally decided to start a blog of my own. (There can never be enough natural hair blogs, right?) Of course, this is all too expected for my friends, since I have about 8,967 other blogs to begin with... but hey. I couldn't help myself. And I've never claimed to have restraint anyway. Besides, with more and more of my close girlfriends going natural, I felt like this was the best way to share the journey with them.

So anyway, quick intro -- My name's V, and I've been natural since 2001. I have no epic, soul-wrenching transitioning story to tell -- basically, I became natural by default. 2001 was the year I started college at Howard University, a four-hour drive from my home -- and my hairdresser -- in Pittsburgh. Being the overly-cautious 18-year-old that I was, I refused to let anyone put relaxer in my hair except Weavin' Steven, of "Top Model," "Tyra Show" and "Split Ends" fame. (Yup, that was my hairdresser -- but back then he was just Steve Ross from Latrobe... without the grill. Love him.)

Anywhoo, I saw these adorable little waves starting to grow out of my scalp. "This is cute," I thought. "And they're not hard to straighten." Eventually, I learned how to coax a textured, wavy/curly look out of my entire head, relaxed ends and all. The secret -- Hawaiian Silky Gel Activator.

Omigod, horrible, right? I had a little companion bottle of sheen spray too. How embarrassing is that? But that's all I knew of creating curls back then. So every morning, before class, I wet my hair, applied the gel in sections, and blow-dried for this crazy, wavy-curly look. (I don't think I'll ever forget the scent of the process.) It sounds nuts, but the girlfriends unanimously decided that this was my "look" -- we all had one at the time.

(The girls and I right before one of our nightly jaunts to the 18-and-over club -- and me, complete with my hair, hoops, and "tribal" name necklace.)

Fast foward almost eight years and countless cream, gel and color applications later. I still have my natural texture, but for the first time since freshman year, I have my natural color too. (Seriously, Feria should give me a check for all the boxes I've used over the years -- but that's whole 'nother post). And since I'm finally getting a feel of my TRUE textures, since they change with any chemical processing, I'm celebrating -- by finding new ways to style, new ways to nourish and sharing it all on a new blog.

So... welcome! Have a seat and enjoy!

-- V.
Friday, January 16, 2009

Your Results: Egg Conditioner

Have you tried using an egg conditioner on your hair? What kind of recipe did you use? Did you like the results? What would you do differently? Comment below!

Your Results: Coconut Oil

Did you try coconut oil on your hair? How did you use it? Did you like the results? What would you do differently? Comment below!

Your Results: Castor Oil

Have you tried castor oil on your hair? How did you use it? Did you like the results? What would you do differently? Comment below!

Your Results: Two-Strand Twists

Did you try putting your hair into two-strand twists? Did you like the results? What would you do differently? Comment below!

Your Results: Fat Twists

Did you try fat-twisting your hair? Did you like the results? What would you do differently? Comment below!