Thursday, February 26, 2009

Awesome Hair Day: Mrs. O

Okay, so we know she doesn't rock the natural, but gosh-DARN if the First Lady isn't a picture of perfection right here!

This is her look from Tuesday night, when the White House hosted a celebration for Stevie Wonder in the East Wing. The hair and makeup are fresh and gorgeous, and Shelly's basically smashing the game in that emerald green dress.

It's like a sign that says: "I wear jewel tones, snitches. And I wear them damn well."

*Sigh* Our First Lady is SO fly.

See the more photos from the celebration in the Black Snob's Flickr slideshow.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Straight Rebellion

Today's instant message from Tara:

"So, I straightened my hair on Sunday so that I could trim my ends...i only made it one day wearing it straight....simply couldn't take it, lol!"

I laughed out loud when I saw this -- I'd just done the same thing the day before.

For some naturals, even the thought of going straight sends us into a tizzy. And it's not because we're straight-haters... we're just madly in love with the curls.

Think I'm playing? Let's talk about last June, when I went to a great salon on U Street to have my hair conditioned, trimmed and deep-treated -- and straightened in the process. I paid $85 for the visit, and came out flipping my hair, looking fly...

... and then I went home and dumped my head in the sink.

I couldn't help it. I wanted to see what the curls felt like with a fresh trim and treatment.

What about you? Have you ever straightened your hair, only to end up feeling like a mad woman because you can't play in your coils till your next wash? Discuss!
Monday, February 23, 2009

Parents, Children, and The Hairy Topic of Hair

It's not always light and happy when you're talking about natural hair. Time and time again, some contentious issues pop up on these blogs and message boards.

One such topic is the issue of white parents caring for the hair of their black or biracial children. This discussion happens a lot in the transracial adoption community, where Caucasian parents adopt little ones of African heritage. Tami of What Tami Say was reading one particular site, and took offense to some of the mis-information offered as advice...

...the site "informed" that black, natural hair tends to be drier than white hair and requires added moisture (Okay...that is often true--not always, but often). Then the writer offers that, despite the need for moisture, black hair shouldn't be washed often, as too much water can be drying. Wait...what? Now, one might generally assume that water and moisture are damn near synonymous. Apparently, though, on black people, water is not....wet. Also, if you feed a black woman after midnight, she turns into a gremlin. Okay. That last bit isn't true. But neither is the first bit, which feeds the notion of black, natural hair as some mysterious, unknown quantity, defying even the natural laws of liquids.
Tami continues...
Black hair does not require special care. It simply requires care, like anyone else's hair. Black hair care only seems special or unusual if you a) start with the assumption that what works for white hair is what is normal and right for all--the baseline against which all other regimens must be judged; or, b) care for black hair with an eye toward making it embody the qualities of non-black hair, rather than its own qualities.
I completely agree with Tami. But I can't help but point out -- black parents are just as likely as anyone else to take misguided steps in grooming their children's hair. I'm saying, the more I play with my hair now, the more I wonder why I was ever given a relaxer in the first place. And it makes me sad to think, at 25, I'm just now learning about proper moisture, styling and protection for my hair. And all of that, I'm learning from you ladies across the Internet.

So what say you? Did your hair ever seem like a burden to your parents, whether they be black, white, or other? How did that affect your perception of your hair as a kid? And if you're a parent, how do you look at your child's hair now?

(Big ups to Ann for the link!)

Discount for Highly Textured Readers!

Hey loves, great news! CurlMart, the online store at, is giving a 15% discount to readers of Blessed and Highly Textured. And who loves discounts? I know I do.

CurlMart carries products and accessories from a whole gaggle of brands, including curly-kinky favorites like Oyin, Kinky-Curly, Mixed Chicks and Jane Carter. This special discount is good on just about everything, with the exception of kits, cocktails and Wen solution products.

Now, I know product-junkie-ism is a serious, serious addiction... but if you're gonna do it, why not save a few bucks while you're at it? :o)

Visit CurlMart here. And enter the coupon code blogger15 when you check out.
Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands: Katie

Age 23
Grad Student
Miami, Florida

Describe the fabulousness of your hair.
Thick…I mean thick fro (the kind of thickness that deceives the novice braider and make the thought of pressing seems like suicide). It's tightly coiled and super kinky. And it gets tighter and tighter as it dries and as the week wears on.

What's your favorite thing about your hair?
It's wash 'n' go. Since I live in Miami I can fully enjoy the beach, swimming pools and nature without fear of what I will look like tomorrow. I can sweat my hair out at the club without the fear of the morning after look. Also, its thickness…no volumizing products for me.

What's your favorite style to rock?
Twist-outs and faux-hawks... honestly those are the only two styles I have (unless putting on a head band counts). Omg... I should do a faux hawk after a twist-out!

What's your favorite product? And why is it so great?
Kinky Curly Leave in Conditioner/Detangler. It really helps with the tangles. Anything that makes combing my extremely thick hair easier is a God-send. Oh and Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding and Buttercreme. Its makes my twist-outs sooo much better.

How long have you been natural? And how did you get there?
I did the big chop in March 2008 after three months of braids, though I had my last relaxer in August 2007. As a broke grad student in a new city and new bills, I figured going natural would save me time and money. I had punked out before because (black) guys love long straight hair and my hair was usually chin or shoulder length... even though I have forever been jealous of girls with natural hair. They always seemed more confident and fresh (that is probably a bit of projecting on my part, but whatever). At some point, I realized I had a relaxer and still no dates... so chopped it all off and said let's go.

How would you describe your hair's personality?
A little lazy and sneaky misleading. It's much softer and more manageable than people think. That's why people love to play in my hair and can't seem to stop themselves.

What have you learned about yourself or your hair?
Beauty is all about perspective. After the chop, I wished my entire head looked like my kitchen...go figure. After all those years of fighting the naps, I wanted full nappiness.

What has surprised you most?
How soft and nice my kinks are. And how fast my hair grew.

What are you still trying to learn?
Which products I should be using, and how to make it shine. Really ya'll, how do I make it shine?

And finally, tell us your favorite part about being natural.
Water is no longer my enemy. Freedom to be me, regardless of the weather report. And finally feeling as free and strong and confident as all those girl rocking those awesome and bold natural always seemed to me.

A favorite pic from the shorter days

On the beach, two days after the big chop

Friends playing in the hair

An attempt at the faux-hawk

Big drinks, big hair at Nellie's on U Street. :o)
Friday, February 20, 2009

Online Shopping: A Photo Essay

Got my shipment from Aldo today.

"Five packages? What the heck did you order???"

Three flowers.

And this headband.


Well, at least my accessories are here.

Though... I'm still waiting for my bracelet...

...and my shoes....

Thursday, February 19, 2009

V-Style: Pump It Up, Twist It Up

Two rolled twists, one bump, and a handful of bobby pins.

Yup, another one for the files. Whoo hoo!

Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands: Talia

One of the coolest things about being natural is sharing the journey with your sisterfriends. Ever since my curls made their debut in 2001, I've watched a number of my friends go natural too. It's been great, seeing my girls discover their textures, and seeing just how many textures there are! And the best part is that we're all encouraging each other, simply by standing confident in ourselves.

So, friends, I'd like to share these fabulous women with all of you with a series of posts called "Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands." ...okay, it's silly, but that's part of my charm. :o) First up... Miss Talia from Rhode Island.

Age 25
Newspaper Reporter
Providence, Rhode Island

B&HT: Describe the fabulousness of your hair.
Talia: My hair is the quintessential afro from the 70s - tightly coiled, nearly symetrically shaped and otherwise fantastic. I have major shrinkage if I let it airdry, but stretched or pressed, it hangs about midneck.

What's your favorite thing about your hair?
That it's mine, the way God intended it. I haven't figured out everything about it, or really, how to care for it properly, but sometimes, I feel a little prouder walking into a formal event with my fro at full tilt because it's kinda like I'm giving God a fist pump like, "you did good, Homie." (and yes, I capitalized Homie.)

What about your favorite style?
My favorite style, hands down, is comb twists. I don't rock them often, and don't dare do them myself -- my head is entirely too large, but I love looking in the mirror and seeing the little black coils on my head. Plus, they feel cool when I run my fingers through them. :-)

What's your favorite product? And why is it so great?
Cream of Nature detangling/conditioning shampoo for dry hair. We used to use it when I was younger, so when I first went natural, I washed it using that familiar yellow/green bottle. While I was washing, I could actually run my fingers through my hair (this is before I discovered the need to detangle and properly moisturize). Now that my hair has gotten longer, it still gets the knots out and leaves me with a great base to slather my conditioner atop. Plus, the smell reminds me of childhood. :-)

I'm also a fan of olive and castor oils. Olive was my junk when I first started because 1) I had it on hand, and 2) it seemed to quench my thirsty locs. I recently got put onto castor oil and I'm feeling it as well. I've been using that for the last month, especially because the olive oil seemed to not last as long as it used to. Castor oil is thick and really keeps my hair moisturized. Only thing is, sometimes at the end of the day, I can reach my hand into my afro and it comes out greasy. Still working on adjusting the amount I use, lol.

Honorable mention: Jane Carter Nourish and Shine

How long have you been natural? And how did you get there?
I big chopped on June 24, 2006, so that means I've been natural, goodness, going on three years. Wow. It does not feel like that long at all.

I got here, in part, because I moved to Rhode Island. Prior to that, I had the ill wrap for years, parted on the side and tucked beneath the ear (sigh, oh so safe). I'd literally worn the same hairstyle since high school. In college, only the people with curlier hair let theirs go (and I envied) or the artsy people who had more style in their pinky finger than I will ever have in my entire life. The one exception is my sister -- though she too has a style I envy. She'd been natural ever since I'd known her and I loved how her hair always looked when I saw her. Anyway, fast forward to 2005. I'd graduated and had been in Rhode Island for about a month. I'd gone to a friend's hairdresser - a Dominican salon - and gotten a great blow out. But I didn't trust her to perm my hair and I knew I couldn't just put heat on it every two weeks like that. I got what would turn out to be my last perm that Thanksgiving mostly out of frustration and suspicion. I didn't trust these people with my hair and I couldn't go around looking crazy. So I figured it'd be easier to just cut it off and do it myself.

That winter and spring, I began my transition. I knocked down unruly roots at first with a flat iron. Then hid behind roller sets. Around Easter, I got box braids. Took those out and went back to roller sets, which were becoming harder and harder to keep looking neat with my now two textured hair. That spring, I went to NYC to visit my sister, and by that time I was thorougly frustrated. A lot of my decisions come out of frustration, I see. Anyway, it was raining, my hair was a horrible poofy mess with straggly ends. We headed up to Brooklyn and I got my TWA and my first comb twists, which I fell in love with instantly. Been natural ever since.

Just in case you want some links... here's the story of my big chop, and some pics of it too.

How would you describe your hair's personality?

Ohh! Let me write it as a personal ad:

"Not so TWA seeks major moisture to get through harsh New England winters. Style variety desperately needed. Prefers freedom, but spends most days tightly bound. Regular trims a must."

Yeah. That works.

What have you learned about yourself or your hair?
Well, I'm a shy person anyway, and at times, insecure. When I first BC'd, I was forced to reevaluate the way I saw myself. My hairstyles in the past were very conformist -- no color, no crazy styles, toward the end, my hair was so trained, I could wash my hair and could find the place I normally put my part using only my fingers. Though afros and natural hair are much more mainstream these days, going natural made me feel like a rebel. And it forced me to be more confident as well because I had to -- well, I chose to -- defend my decision to cut my hair. I remember my mom, when she saw my TWA for the first time, scrunched her face up and said she didn't like it. I was slightly hurt, but had peace because I knew it was my decision and I liked it. Months later, when I returned and my hair was maybe an inch or two longer, she said she liked it. I thanked her, but it wouldn't have mattered if she'd said she didn't like it. It was my hair and I was cool with it and the way it made me look. So in a way, I credit my hair for forcing me to become more confident in my own skin and with my own choices (though I slip from time to time, still).

What has surprised you most?
At first, I thought that since my hair was natural, since I didn't use heat on my hair, that I wouldn't have split ends. Ugh. I'm so mad I was wrong about that. I tried to straighten it once in a fit of frustration and it came out nasty. I figured it was just my lack of skills. But when my trusted hairdresser at home pressed me for the first time last Christmas, she exposed my jagged ends. I told her to cut as much as possible and, since, have been trying to stay current on my trims every six weeks. It's made a difference. My hair is less fragile and seems to look much better than it ever did.

What are you still trying to learn?
Man, at times it feels like everything. Still coming up with a set regimen and I desperately need some more styles to add to my arsenal (see personals ad).

And finally, tell us your absolute favorite part about being natural.
I like knowing this is how I was intended to be -- and having the flexibility to wear it as I choose. And really, I like being able to stick pens in it and not having them fall when I whip my head around. *pulls ballpoint out of coils and places it on her desk* Though it can sometimes be embarrassing when I forget they are in there.

On the job, covering the opening of the Hillary Clinton campaign office in Providence.

Primping for the the Follies

Follies cast headshot

Partners in crime, 2008 UNITY conference in Chicago
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

V-Style: Work Day Updo

I bought a pair of Goody updo claws a few weeks back and tried to use one in my dense, unaltered hair.

"Ha ha," said the curls. "Very funny."

Luckily the claw is very fond of the twist-out. And the twist-out loves it back. Which is what gave me my style for the day.

I don't have any detailed instructions except to roll the hair upward and stick in the clip. The claw is rather wide and has three sets of hungry teeth, so it does all the work. I only used one bobby pin -- inserted on its side at the crown -- to give me a little more lift there. (Again, this did NOT work on my hair in it's naturally thick state. For that, I'd need an army of bobby pins... The big ones.)

So yeah. This little contraption has earned its place in my hair drawer. Score one for the claw.

Supa Fly: Kesh

I have a new girl-crush.

Her name is Kesh and she's an international artist, photographer, fashion designer, model... everything. She's even been a DJ (though on her blog, she said she's giving that up for a while). And she's only 22.

Whatever she's doing, the chick always looks fly doing it.

Check her blog at

Hair Claws are a Girl's Best Friend

"Cute hair!"

"Omigosh, your hair is so cute!"

Who knew a little two-dollar hair claw could do wonders for my ego, and possibly my style status at work?

(Well, the fresh twist-out probably had something to do with it too.)

Pics of the style to be posted later tonight.

While I'm Still Up: Hair and Pride

Just wanted to share (and extend some blog love)...

Black Girl With Long Hair is in the middle of her African Style Week, where she's finding and sharing pictures of African hairstyles from different around the continent. Tonight, she shared a little confession:

every time someone asked me, "why do you want long hair? why is it so important?" i always felt kind of guilty. because i asked myself, "have i been brainwashed by euro-american standards of beauty?", "do i just want long hair so that i can look less different than asian, hispanic, white and native american women?" ... part of the reason i thought these things is that i didn't think there was any historical precedent for long afro-textured hair. as ignorant as this may sound, i honestly thought african women always had short hair.

but posting these pictures for ASW has shown me that there IS a historical precedent for long afro-textured hair. that black women have gone before me... who KNEW how to take care of their hair, who KNEW how to style their hair and who expected that it to grow long and healthy."

i don't know the women in the photos, but i borrow from their wisdom and their confidence. and the next time someone asks, "why do you want long hair? why is it important to you?", instead of giving some bullshit reason couched in my experience as a black woman in a racially fractured society... i can drag him or her in front of a laptop, pull up my blog and say, "so that i can have hair like hers."

Something about BLGH's post made me well up with pride. I've never really been the militant, political natural, but it is hard to ignore the little messages that black women get about their hair. In this case, BGLH deals with the pervasive assumption that black women can't grow long, healthy hair -- because, well, our hair "just doesn't do that." It's a seemingly harmless notion -- "My hair won't get long" -- but that tiny thought plays a huge part in painting anything black or African as inferior.

Honestly, BGLH's post was an eye-opener for me too. I haven't seen many pictures of African hairstyles, and never really noticed that the women know how to grow long, healthy hair in its natural state. Like most black women in this country, I've mostly grown up with messages saying that natural hair needs to be controlled, or sometimes, needs a miracle. Thanks to BGLH's post, I'm more firmly planted in the belief that our hair is just fine the way it is.

Thanks, girl. :o)

P.S. has a great timeline of the history of Black Hair. Definitely worth the click.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Evolving the Blog

So this blog has only been around for a little bit, but I've been thinking about exactly what purpose I want it to serve. I'm trying to figure out how to make it better and more useful to the people that stop by.

I had a revelation at work. We were talking about blogs and discussing how some people share waaaaay too much information. My co-worker (and the London Times) expressed discomfort at Erykah Badu's Twittered account of her child's birth last week. I laughed, wondering who needed to know all that information. Then I thought... who really needs to know what shampoo I use? Do y'all care? The more I think about it, the more feel like sharing my step-by-step grooming process isn't really making the world go 'round. I need to do something that serves more of a purpose. I need more cowbell.

So friends, what would be helpful for you? I want to start finding more styles and style inspirations (a move inspired by my frustation last night). What questions do you still have about caring for your natural hair? What kind of discussions do we need to have? I don't know all the answers, but I can start the search.

"You're Killing Me, Smalls!"

(five points if you can name the movie.)

I've been looking for cool styles and updos since my last post earlier this evening, and I have. found. nothing.

Maybe it's because I'm actually *looking.* But whatever. I'm feeling discouraged and a little dejected right now.

So, now at quarter to one in the morning, I'm going to wash, deep condition, and, for the first time, do twists. Let's see what happens tomorrow.
Monday, February 16, 2009

Lazy Monday

It's Monday (not Sunday like I thought, my internal clock is off), and it's the day I usually block out the evening and devote a few relaxing hours to deep conditioning and pampering my hair. Only tonight.... I can't figure out what I want to do with it. I've gotten so many ideas these past few weeks while looking through the blogs (and thanks to BGLH, I tried a variation of this style today... the girls approved.) But now, I don't know what to try.

So now I'm just sitting on the couch, marinating, and entertaining myself on Gchat.

What can I say? I like to have a plan.
Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fly Styles -- Twisted Updo

This is fly -- a style from PrettyDimples01 on YouTube. I found it on my girl Talia's blog. (Talia: Do it! Do it!) Might have to put it in my own style arsenal for Tampa... more about that later.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Curls of All Cultures

One of the first things I learned about being natural is that society seems to go to war with women who have textured hair -- no matter what their ethnicity.

I observed this mostly by reading the boards at Black, white, or Latina, many women have stories of friends, family members, even boyfriends and husbands outright rejecting their curly, coily, or kinky hair. (Don't get them started on makeover shows that straighten every wave within in sight. Those ladies will go off. Lol.)

The realization was only cemented while I was browsing threw Latina magazine's website a few months back. (Sidebar: THE. BEST. mag for twenty- and thirty-something women. And I'm not Latina. But more on that later.) I saw a picture of twins, one with this amazing, glossy, sky-high hair. (I mean, look at her. She's fly, right?)And then I read...

To look extra fly for her cousin's wedding, Mariel Concepcion decided to put a little oomph in her hairdo. The gorgeous, 28-year-old associate editor of Dominican descent normally wears it naturally curly with tight ringlets, but she decided to kick it up a notch and put a hot curling iron to it to further define the look. "I thought, 'I look fabulous,'" she says, "but as soon as I walked in, the first thing one of my cousins told me was that he had a bottle of gel in his car to lend me if i needed it!"

Ugh! The nerve, right? But reading experiences like this make me remember that many battles are common; many struggles are the same. Which makes it all the more important for us to keep affirming women of all walks and races and their textured hair.

Sure, our curls come in difference shapes, colors and sizes. But the truth is... we're all in this together.


If You Like It, Then You Need to Put A Bonnet On It....

I've been impressed by a lot of tips and tricks these last few weeks -- coconut oil, castor oil, deep treatments and drying techniques. But there's been one unsung hero of my happy hair travels.

My bonnet.

Yup, the ugly but oh-so-important bonnet. I've had a thin, slinky black one for a number of years now, but on the suggestion of CurlyNikki (the woman is a guru, I swear), I set out to find a sturdier, double-layered one from Sally Beauty Supply.

Don't let the romantic picture fool you -- this thing is hideous on your head. But, better to be hideous in your sleep than out in public, right? This particular kind of bonnet is amazing ay preserving the shape and moisture of my hair, and I believe its due to the double-layer construction: satin on the inside, chiffon on the outside.

With the thin, black bonnet, I had to be careful of how I slept, because I'd inevitably wake up with one side smushed. But with this heavy-duty one (as "heavy-duty" as a frilly hair bonnet could get), my hair maintains its round shape.

So in the morning, after showering and washing my face, I slip it off, shake out my hair (with my fingers at the roots), and get to' steppin'.

Day-three hair has never been so happy. :o)
Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Search Begins

And so it begins, the search for my very own, made-just-for-me hair regimen.

As I mentioned in my last post, I, at 8 years natural, still have no regular regimen to speak of, save for my weekly deep conditioning with the Elasta QP Remoisturizer (hee hee... remoisturizer), separating into sections, and applying whatever products I have on hand. So, for the past few weeks, I've been experimenting...

· Two weeks ago, I deep-treated, moisturized with the Mane 'n Tail Shea Butter and Aloe Creme and sealed with coconut oil. My curls formed smaller and tighter than I'd ever seen form before, giving me a cute little round 'fro. (It was super hydrated -- I may have put too much Mane 'n Tail on -- so I called it the Juicy 'Fro.)

· Last week, I deep-conditioned, and reverted to my old styling standby, Organix Vanilla Silk Conditioner. I sealed with coconut oil again. The result is the same as I usually get from using a conditioner, only my hair was glossier and stayed hydrated a little longer. There was a downside, though: later in the week I restyled into a curly fro using Giovanni Direct Leave-In and more coconut oil, and a day later, ended up with a lot of buildup in my hair. It was pretty gross.

Alas, it's week three in my search, and I think I'm finally getting somewhere. This time, I compiled a number of tips and techniques from a some of bloggers over there in my blogroll (I stalk you all). And the process was rather extensive -- mostly because I went to Whole Foods and lost my damn mind. I ended up buying a whole bunch of stuff I probably didn't need... but couldn't seem to put down.

(My friend Katie makes me feel better by saying that spending helps stimulate the economy. So... I'm helping.)

Anywhoo, I followed my deep treatment by moisturizing with something called Alaffia Mambo Mango Body Butter. Found it in the lotion section at Whole Foods, and figured, "Well, CurlyNikki uses body butter on her hair, why can't I?" The ingredient list was irresistable, and it smelled good too. Now, you know how after you wash your hair, some areas dry out and turn into hay before others? The body butter took care of that. I rubbed a little extra into some dry ends and the hair promptly curled up, hydrated and happy. (The downside is that the little jar cost fifteen bucks. I told y'all I lost my mind.)

I followed that with a dime-sized drop of Giovanni Direct on each section, and then sealed with -- dun, dun, dun! -- castor oil. The dramatics are necessary; castor oil may already be replacing what I JUST called my favorite, coconut oil. Castor oil is heavier, thicker, and acts like a sort of serum for my frizz-prone hair. I was especially blown away when I noticed how it slicked down my edges and my part, and how the effect has lasted at least a full day. Usually, my whole hairline ends up frizzing up to the heavens -- especially at the part. But not this week.

Look at my part. Seriously. It NEVER looks like that. It usally ends up a frizzy, incoherent, mess. That castor oil (and the bobby pins anchored on either side while I was drying) showed my part who's boss.

Speaking of drying... before I settled under the dryer, I tried a few things that Wes at Honey Brown Sugar did when she visited the Devachan Salon and Departure Lounge. In addition to the bobby pins, I slid in clips at the top of my head for lift and body at the crown, and put a few at the ends of the curls at the nape of my neck to weigh them down, since they curl up tighter than rest of my head. I also put a damp paper towel over the other most frizz-prone area, my crown, to prevent the fuzzies. (It actually worked too! Coolest thing ever.)

This is today's result. And I have to admit, I couldn't stop playing in my hair today. (Mostly because of the edges. They haven't laid like this since I attacked them with a gel and a toothbrush in middle school.) And out of all the stuff I tried this week, I think the thing that impressed me the most was ... *ding ding!*... the castor oil.

Add that to my list. :o)

Which, if any, of these products or techniques have you tried? How did you like the results?


V's Evolving Hair Care Regimen

1. Wash with _________.
2. Condition with __________.
3. Moisturize/style with __________.
4. Seal with CASTOR OIL.
5. Set with CLIPS and BOBBY PINS.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In Search of... The Regimen for Me

You would think that being natural since 2001 would mean that I have a locked down regimen by now.

Ha. Think again.

I've loved my curls since I was 18, but it's only now, at 25, that I'm finally learning how to nourish, pamper and (in terms of different styles) fully celebrate them.

A lot of that I owe to the wonderful women of the interwebs. I've learned a lot from stalking blogs like Mane and Chic, Honey Brown Sugar, and from tuning into YouTube gurus like CurlyChronicles and ItsMsHeatherNicole (my personal favorite -- she is hilarious, yo.)

See, back in '01, there weren't nearly as many resources as there are now. And I was sad to realize that many of the natural salons here in DC didn't really "do" curly naturals. Instead, they specialized in braids, locs and intricate protective styles -- all beautiful, but that's not what I had on my head. So my regimen became a simple, yet not very beneficial process: Lather with shampoo. Rinse. Apply conditioner. Don't rinse. Air dry. Repeat a week later.

My poor hair. It would look great on day one, okay on days two and three, and simply wretched by day four. At that point, I'd pin it back, or furiously brush it into a sad, limp and dehydrated puff.

Oh god, that puff. I spent many nightmarish days with it, feeling hopeless and completely unattractive with that fuzzy tuft of hair atop my head. And in undergrad, especially that rough fall semester junior year, I didn't have the time to figure out anything else. At one point, one of my friends rather bluntly told me I needed to get my hair together; at another, a random Ethopian woman stopped me on the street and very sweetly gave me some suggestions on how to moisturize my hair. (She suggested grease, which was likely a bad idea, but hey. She tried.) It was so sad. And it's the reason I have a severe aversion to puffs now -- which, as I mentioned a little while back, I'm just starting to get over.

Fast forward to sometime around 2005, 2006. A company called Miss Jessie's starts showing up in magazines. The owners have hair like mine, only longer, shinier, glossier, bigger. I'm enchanted. I promptly order a full size of Curly Pudding, for more than I was willing to pay (at the time) for a pair of jeans. The package arrives, and I'm excited. I use it once... and I'm not that excited anymore. Curly Pudding sits in my bathroom only to be used intermittently until it finally runs out a year later.

Is this the only company for curlies like me? *le sigh* Back to square one.

But one day, somehow (when I probably should have been working), I stumbled across a Web site called Naturally Curly. And I started reading posts by women who had "regimens," with products that actually worked with their textured hair. I read about using t-shirts instead of terrycloths towels, and about a method called "plopping." (Genius, although I only did it once or twice.) More perusing around the web would bring me to articles, blogs, and, in the past year, YouTube. And I'd find out about moisturizers, conditioners, sealers, stylers, humectants, commercial products and kitchen cabinet finds... everything.

It's funny, actually. Because of the Internet, my hair has never been happier.

...but at the same time, my wallet has never been more frustrated. Lol.

There's so much out there! And as much as I love the other natural ladies on the web, I will fully blame them for my current product-junkie-ism. (*shakes fists* Darn you all!!!) And so now, I've gone from knowing nothing about caring for my hair to knowing -- if it's possible -- almost too much.

And so now, my dresser is lined with all sorts of stuff -- oils, organic stylers, shampoos, conditioners and a big jar of solid coconut oil that my roommate won't go near. (She can't stand coconut.) I've gone from an almost useless regimen to a schizophrenic one. The only constant is the Elasta QP Deep Penetrating Remoisturizer (I love that word... remoisturizer) that I used as a deep condish every week.

So friends, I conclude this exhorbitantly long post with one question -- how did you get to your current regimen? How long did it take? And is it permanent, or are you always looking, always keeping your options open?

(P.S. I'm sitting under the dryer after trying a new combination of products -- and styling techniques -- tonight. I'll share results tomorrow.)
Monday, February 9, 2009

Tracee Ellis Ross at the Grammys

This woman and her hair, I swear...

(Pic via

I love how she's always playing with textures and different looks. She seems to have really mastered styling her hair. And THAT is what I'm aspiring to. Lol.
Saturday, February 7, 2009

(Late) Friday 'Fro

Whoops. I owe y'all from yesterday.

This is not a model, but rather a designer, who just happens to have fly natural. Her name is Tori Nichel, and I discovered her through the "Fly Female Entrepreneur" feature on the blog, In Her Shoes. Love the clothes, love the 'fro, and especially love how she sets it all off with the perfect earrings. (In case you couldn't tell by now, I have a thing for earrings.)

Find more about Tori here. And check out her web site here.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Other News: Black Girls Exist... and They're Cute Too!

(Cross-posted at Awesome & Fabulous!)

Apparently, Sasha and Malia are too unique for their own good.

Everyone is going bananas for the First Daughters, and advertising execs want to jump on the bandwagon, but... they can't find any little black girls.

The president of Wilhemina's kids and teens division told New York Magazine:
"It’s a very specific age and a very specific ethnicity, so there aren’t that many girls that would necessarily fit the bill."


Annnnnnnnnd... *blink* again.

Because, you know, cute adorable young black girls don't exist.

This has, as it should, pissed off blogger Danielle Belton, a.k.a. the Black Snob. So she's launching the "Cute Black Girls Are Everywhere, You Idiots" Campaign, where's she's asking readers to send in pictures of their adorable, daughters, grand-daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins and friends to prove that we exist. I'm going to round up pictures of my friends' kids and the little girls in my dance class.

We are not leprechauns. We really exist. And I should know, I was an impossibly adorable little black girl just a couple decades ago.

(Me and my dad, circa 1986. He's not a leprechaun either... but that's a different post for a different time....)
Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Super Bowl Silky

You know whose hair I want?


That's Troy Palomalu, safety for the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers. (GO STEELERS!!!) He's 27, he came out of USC, and he's an all-around badass on the football field. (And yes, he was in that Coke commercial too.)

I spent Super Sunday at ESPN Zone with the Girls and a few boys, and Gawd-al-mighty, what an emotional night. If you're a football fan, you KNOW that was a game to rival all games. I'm a Pittsburgh native, so of course I went home happy. But I also went home with a new hair idol.

I don't know what's more gorgeous -- him, his hair, or his ... equipment. (Okay, I have a thing for football players. Sue me.) But the curls are his most obvious trademark -- that, and the way he mows down people on the field.

He keeps his hair long out of respect for his Samoan heritage... and, as he told Agence France-Presse, "I do it for all the bald men over 40." He says he hasn't had a haircut in seven years.

Oh, and if you're wondering if keeping long hair is an occupational hazard in a contact sport, don't worry. Troy's only been pulled down by his hair once, and he said it didn't hurt.

Of course, I can't gush about one Super Bowl cutie without talking about another, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald. (I think he would have snagged MVP had the Cardinals won.) His speed, his agility, and his gorgeous locks were all on full display Sunday night. And while I'm a Pittsburgh fan, I could not get mad at anyone rooting for him.

Who else is out there? Who are some other NFL cuties with hair to die for?

Hat Trick

What do you put on your head on those snowy winter days? You know, the days where you actually have to leave the house?

I was faced with the dilemma for the first time today -- and maybe it seemed to be a bigger dilemma than usual because I'd just washed and styled my hair yesterday. (Still bouncy! Still shiny! Eeeeee!)

But when I woke up this morning and saw a circus of heavy, wet snowflakes dancing to the ground, I had to think quickly. I tried the scarf-around-the-head thing -- no dice, I looked like a beggar, and I would have flatted my curls. Then I briefly considered going without anything on my head, but decided that would only make this pesky cold I have even worse -- and more importantly, the wet snowflakes would have frizzed the heck out of my hair.

Luckily, I remembered the tomato-red wool and mohair beret sitting in my closet. I picked it up from Urban Outfitters a few years back when berets were first becoming popular... and just never wore it. It wasn't the perfect choice because it has no lining and could dry out my hair if left on too long (heaven forbid!), but it was the only choice I had. When it comes to hats, the bigger your hair, the smaller your options.

The fuzzy beret did its job, getting my curls to work safely and intact. And while I was on the Metro, I thought about adding my own lining to the hat so I wouldn't have to work about about hat frizz. But I also wondered... what other options do we naturals have? It's gets cold in DC, and we have to cover our heads too! I love a cute beret, but is that our only choice for warmth without hat-head?

What do you do on a snow day?
Monday, February 2, 2009

Shine On

Today my curls are impossibly glossy. EEEEE! Can you feel my excitement? I'd post a picture, but my digital camera sucks, and my other option -- my cameraphone -- went for a swim in a cup of water yesterday. So, right now I'm just trusting that you'll take me at my word.

It's gotta be the coconut oil. Today, after washing and deep conditioning with the Elasta QP's Deep Penetrating Remoisturizer, I "styled" as usual with my COM (conditioner of the moment), Organix Vanilla Silk. But then, I took an extra step and sealed for the first time, using coconut oil. (Sealing is essentially applying an oil on top of your moisturizer or leave-in, in order to "seal" the moisture in -- I learned that from CurlyNikki.) I slicked a bit over each section of hair, from root to end, and tousled everything into place. After a few minutes under the hooded dryer, my ringlets came out bouncy AND super shiny... and smelling like coconut. So it's a win on all counts.

I swear, this stuff is the nectar of tropical goddesses.