Wednesday, July 16, 2014

About Black (A.A.) Hair

This is an interesting article on WebMD that makes several good points about African American hair. (You all know how I hate that term "African American", but saying "black" hair would be confusing. Now that it's clear, I'll use "black".)

I just posted about a couple of products that I am using more of lately. This article has me ready to take a much closer look at labels (and my personal hair care routine).

I hope I'm not breaking any rules of quoting from someone else's source, but there are so many points made in the article that I locked onto:
  • One common myth is that there is just one type of African-American hair, New York stylist Ellin LaVar says. (I like the way she thinks. Here is the link to her site.)
  • Generally, the hair contains less water, grows more slowly, and breaks more easily than Caucasian or Asian hair (I knew this, but never thought about it enough.)
  • "Look for products that describe the texture of your hair, not the color of your skin," LaVar says. (Excellent point, right? I mean, Lupita N'yongo and I share a skin color, but I can tell from photos that we have different hair textures.)
  • "I often have to explain to clients that African-American hair needs to be washed regularly," (I've always been taught not to "over-wash" my hair, which I took to mean not washing moer than once every 10 to 12 days. Oops.)
  • Curly textures tend to be the most vulnerable to drying out and breaking because the bends in kinky hair make it difficult for natural oils to work their way down the hair shaft. (Another thing I knew without understanding it.)
  • "If the product feels greasy, it's probably not adding moisture inside the hair," LaVar says. "You need a penetrating conditioner with lightweight oils that are absorbed rather than sit on top of the hair." (My favorites don't feel greasy, but I want to look for something good for my hair, not just good on it.)
  • She prefers conditioners with essential oils -- like grape seed oil, for example -- that moisturize without leaving an oily residue (I need to think more about ingredients!)
  • LaVar says that body lotion can be a good stand-in for a leave-in conditioner because it is designed to be absorbed into the skin. Rub a dime-sized drop between your palms and smooth it over the length of your hair. (Wow! So my cousins and I were onto something when we were younger and used lotion in our hair!)
Man! I sure wish I could afford to hire this woman as my stylist. 

And wash regularly. Don't forget to wash!

I sure don't miss the salon!
 Here is another good take on caring for "dry hair". Good article, but I can't agree with the point made about conditioning. I know for a fact that it is not that hard to over-condition black hair. It depends on the conditioner and how long you leave it in. When my hair is over-conditioned, it becomes really weak - almost like when using a relaxer.

By the way, for my silky-haired sisters of all racial types, here are some ideas for curling without heat. Nice.

One of the things that I've gotten better about is not following trends when it comes to my hair. There was a time when if more than 5 people were doing something "new" with their hair, I wanted to try it out. I've done 2 types of "curls" (yes, I did the Jheri Curl!), worn cornrows and braid extensions; I wore all the ugly hairstyles that seemed so cool at the time; and I only stayed conservative when it came to dying my hair. I even tried out a weave for the first time just before I got sick. Now, that was a lifesaver when I was in the hospital and without the coordination or energy to use any products or appliances! 

The hate is real, y'all
I love my now natural hair, but I don't count "going natural" as following a trend. Being natural is not very cool when all the celebs are wearing flowing locks of weave down to their knees. Also, it wasn't easy doing the chop and getting used to caring for my hair in its natural state. It was a little bit of a nightmare, now that I think back on it. 

What I love about my hair now:
  • It is my natural hair (with a little colorizing help from the box!)
  • It's easier to care for than my relaxed/processed hair was.
  • It reflects me and not what someone else thinks of me.
  • It looks good even when the gray starts showing.
  • I can get caught in the rain without wanting to steal someone's umbrella.
  • Accepting my natural hair feels like accepting the natural me.
What I struggle with about hair:
  • Wanting to try every product for natural hair.
  • Finding good products at a good price.
  • Re-adjusting my hair care routine as I learn more about what is and is not healthy.
  • Some people still being so curious about this natural look.
  • People wanting to touch my hair. 
  • People who believe that "good hair" equals long (or straight or lots of) hair.

Until the past few weeks, I hated having people touch or feel my hair because, while it often looked nice, it didn't feel that way. Now that I've hit on some good products, I almost want people to touch my hair so that they can see that it is soft and sensual. I find myself touching my hair a lot more.

I'm better about this now

One thing that we women need to do is realize that we are all sisters - black, white and every color/race there is. We have the whole media industry pushing body and hair issues on us at every blink of the eye. Our best weapon against all the image bullying is to remind each other that we are amazing just because we are female. That's our freaking super power.

I have the same personal rule about my hair that I do with the rest of my physical appearnance: I do the best I can to make what I have healthy, clean, decent and, hopefully, pretty. If I had to do it to be a better person, I'd cut every strand off my head tomorrow and learn how to rock the baldness. I'd have to adjust of course, but there are too many more good things about me to be too hung up on appearances. That said, I'm happy for what I'm working with right now.


(Thanks to the folks on Pinterest who post the best natural hair humor ever!)