Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Style 101: The Twist Out

I promised in my last blog that the next blog would be a "how to" so here it is!

"Hello Mr. Mop in the corner"....neat. :-/ lol
"The Twist Out" will be my first Style 101, because this style was ESSENTIAL to my transition process and now that I'm completely natural it's even easier.
I love this style because:
a) it can be done on ALLL types of hair, even 100% relaxed
b) it doesn't require any heat so it definitely gives the hair a nice break if you use heat on a regular basis
c) it can last a good three days or longer and
d) if you're transitioning without a "big chop" this style will camouflage the difference between your natural roots and your straight ends.

So let's start.

Here are the products I used.

1. I begin by washing and shampooing my hair in the shower with Suave Naturals Shampoo.
2. I then use a generous portion (a palm full) of the BioInfusion Hydrating Balm and gently detangle my hair using a WIDE toothed comb. (Detangle starting at the ends of the hair and moving up the hair shaft.) I leave the conditioner in for about 10 minutes while in the shower then rinse out completely.
3. Following the deep conditioning treatment, I place in  Suave Sleek Conditioner as a leave in. I'll put in about half a palm full.
 4. Gently towel dry so the hair is not dripping, but still wet. Twist in sections starting from the nape and moving towards the crown, then finishing at the front of the hair. I use a hair clip to help keep my hair parted while twisting each section. A "rat tailed" comb helps in parting the back of the hair. I mostly use my fingers to part. As you can see, my sections are not perfect, however I don't mind that because when you unravel the hair once it's dry, the parts will be easier to camouflage.

5. When I'm finished twisting, I'll have approximately 16 twists on my head. Now...if you look closely, you'll see how some of my ends are straight. The joys of flat ironing natural hair. :-/ Over time, this may happen...this is how I get around that.
PERM RODS! I'll use perm rods on ends that are stubbornly straight. Perm rods will also allow you to achieve the twist out style if you're relaxed, or transitioning and still have relaxed ends. Simply twist or braid the hair and use perm rods on the ends...Ala...this...
7. The next step is pretty easy. Either wear your hair in twists for a day (which is what I do), or sleep in your twists so they air dry over night. I will warn you - if you finish your hair at 11pm at night and figure you'll have a fly and DRY silky smooth twist out at 7am the next morning, you're kidding yourself. You'll have a HALF dry, frizzy, no lasting twist out the next morning. If there's any chance you think your twists may still be wet, SIT UNDER A DRYER. Or wear your twists for a few more hours so they can dry. THEY MUST BE DRY before unraveling if you want defined curls!!!

8. Okay, the twists are dry. If you used perm rods, gently remove them and be sure not to snag any ends.

9. The next step (and my favorite step) is to add your favorite moisturizer to your hair WHILE your hair is still twisted. I use...
Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme. If you keep up with this blog, you know this is my absolute favorite moisturizer in the world. A little goes a long way. I'll add about a quarter sized dollop to my palm, gently rub my palms together and smooth it over my twists, making sure that the ends have product on them.

10. Unravel and gently separate each twist!!!! For more volume each twist can be separated into 4 or more individual curls. I usually don't separate them into more than 6 curls - after that, it starts to look frizzy.

11. Massage your scalp with fingertips to camouflage any parts.

12. VOILA!

It's FRIZZ time in the back! lol, I have no idea what happened there. Wind? Maybe it wasn't dry enough? Perhaps I didn't start the twist close enough to my scalp?? too much product? WHO knows! I promised I would never lie on the blog, so there you have it - the crown was frizzy!

To maintain the style, I sleep with a silk/satin bonnet at night. In the morning I'll use a little bit of Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme to fingerstyle and wake up the curls. After the third night of sleeping on it, it'll start to look quite frizzy - that's when I'll start to push it back into a head band, or a funky faux-hawk, and eventually into a ponytail until I can redo it.

Here is what it looked like after sleeping on it one night.
So you can see some of the curls are like "heeeeeeeelp," but that's all in the process. One of these days I'll find a product that will give me more hold. I tried Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue for that, but I wasn't crazy about it. ::shrugg::

Till next time!!!


Friday, January 7, 2011

Transitioning into the New Year!

Happy New Year!!!! I pray that everyone's holiday season was awesome. Mine was absolutely amazing even though I wasn't able to go home for the holidays. My fiance surprised me with a late Christmas gift a couple days ago, and this was what was in the box!

Two 16oz buckets of my absolute, most favorite hair moisturizer in.... the .....world. I'm marrying THE greatest man in the world......sigh.......The Lord knew what he was doin when he sent me that man........::smiling::.......Anyhoo! lol

I figured it would be appropriate to focus on transitioning from relaxed/processed hair to natural. I've been getting a LOT of questions about this so I think it's a good place to start - especially since this seems to be the time of year when a lot of black women decide to go natural. (New year, new you, new hair....::shrugg::)

I'll be honest, I think this is the most difficult part of the natural hair journey simply because you're having to care for two different hair types. (And depending on your natural curl pattern, they can be two EXTREME hair types.) So here are a few guidelines that helped me through the transitioning process:

Step 1: Have a vision.
This was my natural hair inspiration in 2006:

And this is what my hair looked like when I was transitioning in 2007:

Why do you want to wear your hair natural? How do you want to wear your hair natural? Is there a particular style you like? Answer these questions, then GO for it! If you're growing your hair out gradually, chances are you can execute some if not most, of the natural hair styles you like WHILE your hair is transitioning.

Step 2: Learn how to execute your vision.
This is where the patience comes in. Trust me, patience is NOT something I'm good at. The natural hair process gave me a new level of patience. I had no choice BUT to be patient because there were some days where I was in the mirror for over two hours. (note: an hour is way to long for me!) I began to study my hair - see what products it liked, which ones it didn't. How long I could hold a style if I used one conditioner apposed to another.  From there, I read a lot then improvised a LOT.  My transition style (shown above) is more of a modified braid out. At first, I followed the simple braid out technique but since my relaxer was so BONE straight, my ends always looked string-y. My "modified braid out" included braiding my hair half way, then adding perm rods on the ends to give more of the spiral/curly look. I'll go more into detail of this particular transitioning style in another blog because it really was my saving grace in reaching my natural goal. It deserves it's own blog.

I also learned how to press/flat iron natural hair when my hair was transitioning. I love versatility and knew I wanted to wear my hair straight as well. If you want to wear your hair pressed/flat ironed while it's natural, LEARN how to press your hair while you're transitioning. (More on pressing natural hair in another blog, too.)

Step 3: SUPPORT!  
There will be days when you will be stumped! Get some people around you that are on the same journey, or better yet, people that have completed the journey. I found that even friends that were still relaxed would encourage me. I'm telling you, you will need people like that.

That's it for now. I think my next blog will be the "how-to" for my transition style. Even if your hair is relaxed and you want a curly style, it's super cute and works for relaxed hair too. Till then!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Inspiration: News Anchor Goes Natural

Love love love this. Hope this inspires those thinking of transitioning!

Sidenote: Their ratings went up after this!

Friday, December 17, 2010

MOISTURE! MOISTURE! Read all about it!

Welcome to Kinks & Curls! Today I'm going to blog about MOISTURE. The key to growing/maintaining healthy natural hair is MOISTURE!

1. Deep Conditioners: 
If hair is not conditioned from the inside out, you can slap any and every moisturizer on your hair and it will do little effect. Moisturizing natural hair begins with a great deep conditioner. Deep conditioners are applied to the hair after clarifying (shampooing), and left in for a period of time. People deep condition in different ways. I only leave my deep conditioners in for 10 minutes while in the shower and that seems to work for me. I've heard of people leaving conditioners in for as long as 3 hours...I think that's crazy. My hair would come out hard as a ROCK and heavy as all getout if I did that. I personally, don't think that's necessary if you're using a decent conditioner AND if you're taking care of your hair as you should. (Stepping off the soap box. lol) Anyhoo, here are a few of my favorite deep conditioners based on price.  :)

a. Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment ($$$)

This is hands down the best deep conditioning treatment I've ever used.
Pros: I immediately felt the difference in my hair the moment I put it in. It doesn't take a large amount to be effective and after letting it sit for 10 minutes in the shower, my wide toothed comb slid RIGHT through my hair. (singing: "HEAAAVEEEEN!!!!) The smell is pretty neutral. Not too strong.
Cons: Price - This junk is EXPENSIVE! lol. Okay, maybe not expensive for some people's budget's but for me, anything above $25 per 16oz. is expensive. Miss Jessie's RRT is $48 for the 16oz....and then add shipping...speaking off.
Shipping:...Miss Jessie's is not easily found in stores. Your best bet is to find a salon near you. ORRRR, you can go to their website and see if there is a Target near you that just started selling their products!


b. Biolage Ultra Hydrating Balm ($$)

I was actually introduced to this product when my hair was still relaxed. It's done really well on my hair.
Pros: Typically easy to find in stores, very moisturizing, detangles pretty well, neutral smell
Cons: Not to be confused with the regular Hydrating Balm. The more common hydrating balm is also good, but the ULTRA is way more effective on coarse/coily/curly hair.

c. BioInfusion Hydrating Conditioning Balm ($)
This conditioner shocked the mess outta me. I tried it for the 1st time a year ago and since then, this is the only deep conditioner I've used. I found it at WALGREENS while browsing the hair section. (::hides in shame:: Recovering "product junkie" here.) This hydrating balm is obviously a rip of the more common Biolage Balm (same container and everything), yet it's half the price. SHOCKINGLY, it is just as effective. As I said, I've been using this as a deep conditioner for a year and it works really well for me. Can't beat 10 bucks!

2. Conditioners:
Okay, the difference between "deep" conditioners and regular ole conditioners - I wouldn't count on the following products to do the heavy duty conditioning work on your hair. The following products should be used to maintain the moisture in between your deep conditioning treatments. I typically deep condition my hair once a week and then mid week if I end of washing my hair or doing a braid out, I'll use the following conditioners.
a. Matrix Sleek.Look Conditioner ($$)

This as another one of those products that I used while my hair was relaxed. I love it on my natural hair because it does a great job of smoothing and defining my coils. I also use this conditioner when I do twist-outs and when I do wash and goes.

b. Suave Professional Sleek Conditioner ($)
Okay...so clearly a knock off of Matrix Sleek.Look. It works. I've transitioned to using this and have been using it for a good 8 months. Again...price. If I can get the same result for cheaper, best believe I'll be switching! The smell is a little different from Matrix, but it's pretty mild so I don't mind.

c. Suave Naturals Conditioner (uh....I need a half dollar sign. lol.)
I'm tryin to tell yall! Don't hate on the Suave! LOLOL. I rarely use these conditioners but if I just need to wet my hair and slap it back into a ponypuff for the day, this will get the job done without my hair looking like a complete frizz ball. And it smells good. PLEASE don't try to use this as a deep conditioner. Your hair WILL break off.

3. Leave In Conditioners: 
Okay, here's a little secret that I grew up with that will hopefully save you some money on products. Don't buy a marketed "leave-in conditioner." If it's a curl definer or silkener or heat protectant, that's a different story that we'll explore later, but "leave-in"s....Here's your leave in: Take your regular conditioner, apply it, and only wash it out half way...there's your leave in.

4. Moisturizers
These are the products you'll apply to your hair in between washes. Oils & creams that are applied to the hair while dry are typically referred to as moisturizers.  Here are my favorites, again catagorized by price.
a. Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme. ($$$)

SIGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I....LOVE....this stuff. I think I CRIED when I used my last dollop a few months ago. Nothing compares to it. The moisture...the consistency. ...the smell....sigh...the smell. This is the 1st and only moisturizer t I've ever had that my fiance actually liked. Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme...sigh...you do it for me.
CONS: You're too freagin' expensive!!!!! Oh...sorry...I'm still talking to the product... Yea...it's expensive. And I have to pay for shipping which doesn't help. It wouldn't be fair if I DIDN'T mention that the large tub will last you quite a while. It doesn't take much product to get the job done. I should also mention that right now, till December 31st, Miss Jessie's is holding a buy one get one promotion. A GREAT time to buy would be NOW.

b. Miss Jessie's Curly Baby Buttercreme ($$$)
I started using this before the regular buttercreme. It seems a little heavier to me than the regular buttercreme and the vanilla smell was a little too strong for me. However, it does a great job at moisturizing in between washes.

c. Organic Root Simulator Olive Oil Hair Moisturizing Lotion ($)
 I've been using this in the last couple months. It gets the job done but it's definitely not as good as my Miss Jessie's. It's heavier than I would like and after a few hours my hair simply doesn't respond to it. If you're on a tight budget and you just need something to get you by for a few, this would be it.

SIDENOTE: I would not use any of the above moisturizers if you're wearing your natural hair straight (aka "pressed"). We'll get to that on another blog.

Hope this helps! What are your favorite moisturizers?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hair Story

My mother, who's been a professional hairstylist for over 20 years, gave me my first relaxer at 5 years old. I assure you, it wasn't because my hair was unmanageable. My mom was, and still is brilliant at not only black hair, but hair in general....She was simply sick of me screaming over getting my hair done. I'm the baby out of three girls--and I was a brat... and tender headed. Mom adamantly believes she never put a relaxer in my head that young. But low in behold, my 1st grade school picture - RELAXED. Straight as a bone. Long, healthy, & beautiful...but relaxed indeed.

My mother owned and ran her own hair salon for over 15 years - I'd seen black natural hair before, but about 99.9% of the black clients I saw go in and out of my mom's salon had relaxers and several wore weave for length. So it's not that I grew up believing long straight hair was the only beautiful hair...it's just that's all I'd seen. Black hair was kinky, so black women wore relaxers. End of story. If I had 2 inches of new growth, my hair was "nappy" and I needed a "touch up".  If my edges weren't smooth, then my relaxer wasn't straight enough. If I ran my fingers through my scalp and it wasn't silky smooth, then give it about 3 weeks and it was time for a relaxer.  I had this hair regime down pact by age 13.

I was that black girl who's hair was always done. I lived with a stylist so it was easy. My hair was down my back till my junior year in highschool when I decided to be grown and chop some hair off. My mom cut it to my shoulders and I loved it.

By the time I went off to college, my hair was long again, but I had no idea what kind of trial I would go through to keep it healthy. Mom sent me away to college with a big ol' gallon of Affirm relaxer.
"Soooo, every 6-8 weeks, but how do I apply it???"
"Just slap it in there....on the new growth." Ohhhh Mom. She had so much faith in me. HAHA!

So that's what I did. I sllllapped it in there. And within a year, my hair broke off like a banshee. Rather than sticking to the products that she sent with me, I decided that Herbal Essence smelt "way better" and decided to use that as a deep conditioner instead...oh what else...I trimmed my own hair...uhm...started combing it excesively because it never laid right...uhm...started washing it every three days. (Lord, don't ask where I got that idea from.)...uhm.. used every moisturizer and oil on the planet because my hair always looked dry....uhh, oh yes, and the kicker - when I ran out of the Affirm relaxer I bought some Soft & Beautiful and used that..... Yeaaaah....there were a myriad of stupid decisions I'd made on my already fragile hair. So, my hair broke off entirely in the center and by my sophmore year my hair was above my shoulders.

As a result I began to idolize long hair in college. I lived on black hair forums and used to say things like "when I was 16 my hair was past my bra-strap." Ughhhhghghghghghg ::covers face in shame:: I adopted even more black hair myths like "If you stretch your relaxers, the chemical process will be less damaging." "Heat on black hair is the devil." "You don't have to trim your hair to keep it healthy." "You have to deep condition your hair under a drier for 2 hours at least once a week." ugh...all kinds of stuff.

So about half way through college, I came to the harsh conclusion that I could NOT care for my hair and apart from doing a simple wash and blow dry, I flew home for relaxers. Yes...FLEW...HOME so my mom could do my relaxers. I never allowed a stylist apart from my mother to touch my hair, and I wasn't about to, especially if I had to PAY for it. (PSH!) However, Mom convinced me to find someone in Boston to do my hair and right about the time I graduated from college, I found a stylist in Boston (after VERY EXTENSIVE RESEARCH), and she assisted in nursing my hair back to health.

When I moved to Nashville after graduation, the cycle of bad hair started all over again. Although I'd learned some key lessons about chemically processed hair, I was still dependent. I got decent at flat ironing my hair so at the very least I was able to stretch my relaxers till I could visit home, and I did that for 2 years. (Yea, you thought I would have found a stylist in Nashville...mmm...negative.)

Then I met my friend KAMI! Apart from my mother, Kami was the first woman of color I'd ever met who knew how to manage natural hair. Kami's hair completely shattered my stereotypes of natural black hair and black hair care. First, her texture looked like it maybe sorta coulda been like my natural texture. Mind you....I had no idea what my natural texture was like. I only knew that it DEFINITELY wasn't that Chili from TLC type, baby hair. Whenever black girls who had beautiful silky curly hair tried to talk me into going natural, they very quickly got the side eye from me. But Kami. I felt like Kami understooooood "my texture" of hair. Second, Kami's hair was LONG and natural. When we became good friends I was still in the midst of my "long hair idolization" so the fact that her hair was "kinky" and longer than most relaxed black women I knew, gave her like...80 points.  Until then, I was under the assumption that natural black hair could never be long and thus, I swore up and down that I would and never COULD go natural. Her hair was and still is thick, beautiful, coily, big, and....HEALTHY. She could wear it straight, curly, fro-ed out, pushed to the side, placed in a bun...anything and everything. She OWNED that hair. And she totally inspired me. But not enough to go natural.HA!

The decision to go natural didn't come until I accidentally found a transition style. At this point, I'd worn my hair the same way for my entire life (wow) and I was, well....bored. I toyed with the thought of going natural but I knew I wasn't that girl that could just cut off all her hair and start from scratch. I was way to vain for that. Instead, after some encouragement from my mentor Monica, who was also natural, I began playing with my hair when wet. I tried a braid out and that was the end. I loved the new look it gave me and I knew it would enable me to camoflauge new growth - and by that point, I was tired of keeping up with the relaxers.

The process wasn't the easiest, I'll be honest. Transitioning can be a little awkward at times, especially towards the end when you have more new growth than relaxer, but ohhhhh the REWARD! At 23 years old I saw my hair for the very first time. I'm telling you, it was practically a spiritual experience. I remember I'd gone about 8 months without a relaxer and had about 2 inches of new growth, and I yelled down the hall to my roommate Sade'.  "LOOK!!!! Look at my hair!" I exclaimed to her as I stretched my little two inches of coil. "This is my hair!!!" Literally, I saw ME, MY hair, for the very first time.

I transitioned for about a year and a half, and on April 9th, my mom cut the last two inches of relaxer off while my hair was pressed. Then on April 19th, TERRIFIED, I washed my 100% natural hair for the first time. And came out the shower like a new woman.

So WHYYYY am I writing this blog. Four years natural, I realize I have a passion for black hair. The purpose of this blog is to teach woman of color that ethnic hair in its natural state IS manageable. It's absolutely ridiculous that we have no idea how to care for our hair. We've been totally duped into thinking it can't be tamed without a chemical process. Can we get back to the basics?! I mean, really! Can we start with the basics!!!  If I promise you anything, it's that this blog will be honest. I will share my joys as well as the frustrations of my natural hair; pictures of the good hair days, as well as the bad. The great products & the not so great (for my hair.) Useful techniques, tools, and hopefully some of the universal "do's" and "don'ts" of natural hair. I know no two heads are the same which is where YOU come in. Please, SHARE! As the blog grows I really want guest bloggers. Natural heads of all kinds! Kinky, coily, curly, & locked!

So here it is. Kinks & curls.