Pinterest 1973 Dabney Street

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's not about Growth! It's about Length Retention!

Here is a video I made about the importance of Length retention with black hair! I finally started to understand that there is no magic vitamin or hair product that will make your hair grow any faster. However, Protecting your hair and treating it tenderly helps maintain the length. Staving off damage is key! Take a look!

Progress Report!

I am not one for the Length Check But since I am tracking my hairs health I wanted to share the pictures I have taken of my hair since July of last year!
July 2012! Hot and bothered at the Schule! I am hanging on to this rose quartz for energy!
At home Christmas Day 2012 with my New Ukulele! My hair is starting to grow back! I trimmed it with a tapered back and sides!
This is in March 2013 Before I put in Box Braids. It's growing out but still a bit dry!
This is in July 2013! It's now Long enough to flat twist! The quality of my hair is getting better now that I have learned some moisturizing techniques!
August is for chunky twist and Updo's! the progress is staggering! I feel like my hair and I know what to expect from each other! YEAH!

Low Porosity Experiment!

I am no scientist. I never liked the subject in school either. Yet, everything around us is a chemical reaction! The subject of hair is a chemical reaction! Think about it, the combination of hair products form a chemical reaction with our hair that results in various results. Subsequently, if you want healthy hair, start with understanding simple science. Porosity levels in hair are an excellent place to get to know the effects of moisture retention and Black hair. One day while on Facebook, I stumble upon the video blog called “The Curl” produced by Carol’s Daughter. I had never seen this series, since I was still very unfamiliar with the natural hair vlogisphere. The topic they were discussing was hair porosity. I had never heard nor ever paid attention to his topic. What is porosity? Porosity is an object ability to take in and retain moisture. Wood is porous, cement is porous, soil is porous, and Hair is very porous. Or is it! Hair porosity comes in three degrees, low, normal and high. This is very important to any Natural hair diva to understand, mainly because it effects how we maintain moisture levels. Since our curly hair is naturally drier, and it inhibits the natural oils from the sebaceous glands from sliding down our strands, we need to know how to keep our hair moisturized and in good condition. I never knew this! No one ever told me this. THIS is ground breaking information that changes everything!! How does one find out how porous their hair actually is? In order to test your hairs’ porosity, do the following: 1. Take a glass of room temperature water 2. A strand of shed hair( not broken hair) 3. Wait for results: a. If it sinks you have High porous hair b. If it floats about in the middle you have Normal porous hair c. If it sits on top of the water you have Low porous hair. Each of these describes the various levels of cuticle openings on a strand of hair. I like to think of the cuticles as window blinds. They adjust letting in various levels of light in an out of your house. High Porous hair is equal to having the blinds open all the time! It’s nice to let the light in but at night the light from your house is going out too plus all your privacy. Normal porosity hair is like allowing some light in and some light out, Low porosity hair is like never opening the blinds no light in and no light out. When I tested my hair, I discovered that my hair was low porous. It floated on top of the water for a whole day! What does this mean to me? Back to Google I went! What this meant to me was I had dry, dry hair! My hairs inability to accept moisture meant that my hair stayed dried. All that oil and grease I put on my hair made it worse because the oil blocked any water from ever getting in. My research came up with tons of websites and tons of remedies! With us Lo-Po people, we literally have to open up our cuticles in order to infuse moisture into the strands. One of the treatments I came across was the Cherry Lola. This consists of baking soda, plain yogurt, and liquid amino acids which you mix up and apply to your hair. It is suppose to help open the cuticle infuse nutrients and moisture to the strand. I tried it and found it very messy and not particularly helpful. I washed it out and had very hard hair. I had to sit and think what would work. I liked the Baking soda idea because it is known to open up the cuticle, so I would keep this ingredient. I also liked what Kimmaytube said about using Aloe Vera juice in hair because it seals the cuticle. It started to click in my head that I could somehow combine the two in one treatment. This is what I came up with: 1. I pre-pooed with Coconut oil because it has the ability to soak into the cuticle regardless of porosity. 2. I rinsed my hair with an 8oz combination of one part baking soda and three parts water. a. This opens the cuticle. 3. I follow with a moisturizing co-wash and a deep moisturizing conditioner 4. I sit under my bonnet dryer for a half an hour 5. After I rinse my hair thoroughly and follow with a Aloe Vera juice rinse to seal my cuticle 6. Follow with the L.O.C. Method and style my hair. I did this and it really worked. My hair was significantly softer and manageable. My hair was also very shiny! I would advise to do this only once every two months. Using baking soda on the hair is very extreme and can strip the hair. For people with low porosity hair, heat is actually beneficial. Steaming in the shower or with a Hooded Steamer your hair with a moisturizing conditioner is excellent and actually the safest. I like to use my bonnet dryer on my hair. In my city, it gets so hot I just use a plastic cap, a knit cap and the heat to condition my hair. Once I found out about Porosity it was easier to find products that encouraged moisture to my hair. One ingredient that I shied away from is GYCERINE! Yes curl juice! It’s amazing that this throwback 1970’s product that was abundant in the seventies was relegated to the dusty bottom shelf of my local Walgreens. In addition to my other routines, I was going to include this product too! Glycerin is extremely humectants and attracts moisture from the atmosphere. I created a moisturizing spray using half water and half Scurl spray! In addition, I no longer wanted a cream that offered curl definition; this was not important to me. The most important thing was Moisture! I started looking for products with Water, Aloe Vera, Coconut oil, Pathenol and Glycerin. These ingredients are good for adding and attracting moisture to your hair! Anything else is filler. Trying these techniques for a least a month began to make a great difference in the quality of my hair. The moisture level in my hair was greatly affected and began to break less. ! I didn’t have to trim my hair because it wasn’t breaking! YEAH! What did I learn? Regularly spraying my curls with water and sealing it with oil was most beneficial. Our hair does well when slightly damp! Get to know the porosity of your hair! It makes a big difference in the quality of your hair.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Every four years, I seem to get inspired to create some magical hair potion. When I start reading about the latest hair trends, I start ordering, buying and collecting various oils and butters. My cabinets begin to fill with mystery concoctions that I have to eventually throw out. The product Junky in me begins to rear its evil head. I end up with a shopping cart of oils that I have no idea how to mix! Then I begin to slather these things on my hair not realizing what they are doing. I am just hoping for a miracle that shoots the hair from my scalp! The first thing I bought was a vile of lavender oil. I wanted to make that refreshing spray recipe Lorraine Massey wrote about. I loved it! Made countless spray bottles of it! Then I started reading about how Coconut oil was a miracle, helping the hair stave off Hydral Fatique(water overload) and penetrating the hair to the deepest level. So I bought some more Coconut oil. Quickly, I began accumulating bottles and bottles of oil! Yet, How was I to begin using them and reaping the benefits? The more I read and researched the more oils began to show up in my house. Avocado oil for hair growth, wheat germ oil for the amino acids, grape seed oil for low porosity hair treatments! All of these oils began to crowd my shelves. I started to accumulate recipe combinations; 1/3 avocado oil mixed with wheat germ and grape seed would pack a punch for your scalp! So many recipes! Then the little plastic bottles started to show up! Jees! I was an oily mess! My poor husband started to complain about the oily, greasy doorknobs! He wears glasses and every time he tried to hug me my oily hair would grease up his glasses! Once again, I was getting frustrated with the process. My hair was still very dry and it wasn’t curling at the ends! When I read about the L.O.C. method, it all became clear. L.O.C. stands for Liquid, Oil, and Cream. You see, I was under the impression that we moisturize our hair with oil. We have been doing this for years! For the longest time, we all thought oil equaled moisture. Who hasn’t had to hold the jar of Blue Magic Bergamot while our mothers put up our hair for the week! Our mothers put the oil on our hair to block the moisture from hitting our press and curls! Right? I had to get used to the idea of doing this in reverse! You literally have to LOCK in the Moisture with the oil then apply your styling cream to reinforce the whole process. I had to master this process.
Another book was suggested to me called “Curly like me” by Teri Leflesh. When I originally saw this book suggestion, I immediately thought, “nope, not for me”! Here she is a biracial/3b, with curls cascading down her back. Nope this would never be me! My hair just doesn’t do this! I went to Amazon one day and looked up the book and listened to her introducing the book. Her story of being shuttled between the two worlds of well intentioned parents systematically misunderstanding her hair was something I could relate to! Between the perms and the blow dryers, this poor girl never had a chance. The tip of the iceberg was how she permed her hair and it completely fell out in the sink. When she began to let it grow in, she figured if she left the conditioner in, it would help her hair to stay moisturized and in good condition. Sounds familiar. So I bought the book! After reading Ms. Leflesh’s method of caring for her hair, I was officially on the bandwagon! I stocked up on conditioner and took a Friday to try it out! I pre-pooed with my oils (since I had so many) and co-washed my hair. Afterwards, I had an epiphany; let’s try the L.O.C. method and the method all in one. This is how I did it! 1. Rinsed my hair and didn’t let a towel or a t-shirt touch it 2. Separated my hair in four sections and clipped it 3. I took my oil mixture and applied it to my hair in 4 sections 4. Then, I applied “Hello Hydration” conditioner in large dollops and brushed it through with a Denman Brush, I saw CURLS!!!! 5. Then I flat twisted my hair and let it air dry. This worked brilliantly! I was very happy with it! My hair dried clear, with NO white residue! I began to see actual curls and my ends were NOT crunchy! FINALLY! Some real progress! This was my new wash routine! However, how was I going to get this result every day? This is where he differences became apparent. She has very long hair that she braids up at night and unravels during the day. What was I going to do with my regular old 4a/b hair? This is what I did: 1. At night I mixed castor oil with VO5 strawberry Milk Protein conditioner and flat twisted my hair. 2. In the morning, I take down the flat twist and fluff out to mask the parts.
I did this for a month and my hair began to flourish. The texture of my hair was smooth and my ends were soft! This was all fine and dandy until stumbled upon the topic of Hair porosity!
What is the L.O.C. method?? What’s the Curly Girl Method??? I joined a group on face book called Kinky, Curly, Coily, Me! I asked as many questions as I could think of. The ladies on the site were so helpful and knowledgeable. I kept hearing about the L.O.C. method. Then I kept hearing about the curly girl method. What are these things? Then I kept hearing about Castor oil growth Challenges. Don’t people know that genes control your hair’s growth! I never had Long Hair; it’s just not in my genes!! It’s not my thing! Yet, I was curious. I had to sit for a second. How was I going to seriously get my hair back to its pre dye job healthy state? It was time to start reading! Back to Google I went. Through the website I found the Curly girl method, by Lorraine Massey as illustrated by one of the featured vloggers. I knew about Lorraine Massey because of her Deva Curl products I had tried when the money was good. Her eye opening book helped me to give up some of the bad habits and practices.
In the trash went the hand held dryer and got myself a bonnet dryer and a Denman Brush. Luckily, I already had a big tooth comb! Yet, I stop combing my hair so much and began using my fingers more. I started to learn the terminology of the curly girl like pre- poo and started using some of the methods. The one thing that I was hesitant about was the Curly Girl method. That Friday, I decided to try this method for grooming curly hair. For an hour, I sat under a dryer with coconut oil on my head. Now for the test; I went in the shower and Co-washed with As I Am Coconut wash , rinsed and applied some Suave coconut conditioner to my hair and left the conditioner in my hair. I followed her directions to the letter! Afterwards, I waited for the magic to happen. Three hours later my hair was still white, and still wet. This method wasn’t for me. Nevertheless, I did like what she had to say about keeping the conditioner in your hair. Yet, there were all these techniques that require you put some kind of oil on your head. Where does that come in? I kept reading. On my Nook reader, I came across a book called the “Science of Black Hair” by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy. This book changed everything about how I saw our hair. I read and then re-read this book. Where was this woman 20 years ago when I first went natural? Ms. Davis Sivasothy breaks everything down! She thoroughly explains the growth cycle of black hair, how we plateau to shoulder length hair, and how to properly set up a hair regimen. She also proves Black hair DOES grow, and genes are only partially responsible for length. How we take care of our hair on a daily basis is most important!
Finally, I could possibly see shoulder length hair and beyond in my future. For years, I had it so wrong. For example, we have been conditioned to think water is terrible for our hair. Even as a natural, I dreaded getting my hair wet. I always thought oil or hair grease made your hair grow, and applying it to your hair that hadn’t been washed in days was the answer to preserving your hair. Then when I did wash my hair, I did this torturous thing of basically stripping it down dry hair and washing it with sulfates and harsh detergents. My hair had been screaming, “I AM DEHYDRATED!!” as it fell off of my head! In the “Science of Black Hair”, I read about the shoulder length plateau that has plagued many black women. The longest my hair had ever gotten to was to my mouth. Then I would cut it because it would begin to shed or break off or I got bored. I never even got to the shoulder length plateau. Who am I to think shoulder length was even an option for me let alone bra strap length. Yet I kept reading! In addition to reading Davis-Sivasothy’s book, I began reading the BGLH website in depth. For the longest time I thought these cycles happened at separate times. They actually happen at various times. I also thought that if you were biracial or had some significant mixture in your back ground you were bound to have long hair no matter what you did to it. This is how we had seen people for years, these were the stories that we were told. When I started reading the routines of the featured women it helped break this age old stereotype of Black hair growth. I was inspired to create a routine for myself. From this point on I will share with you how researching helped me get on the right path to healthy hair!
Christmas time rolled on and I was determined to feel grateful for something! I had decided to take on a new hobby. The Ukulele! While sitting in church choir, I saw one of the altos carrying a ukulele box to another room. It hit me, I can’t play guitar for shit! Why not try the Uke! It’s smaller, less strings and it looks fairly unintimidating. My husband is a musician as well; he plays the guitar and the bass. He works on weekends playing in a combo at a restaurant. His boss plays the Ukulele as well. He asked him if he had a random Uke I could practice on just to see if I could handle it. He lent me his old ukulele and I began studying it.
Quickly, I began to get the hang of it. However this ukulele was so old the tension in the pegs began to weaken. The A string would loosen and the note would go flat. I had gotten so attached to playing songs, it was disappointing to have stop. So my husband bought me a ukulele for my Christmas present.
By Christmas, time my hair and I were getting along. I had trimmed it into a very nice shape and had decided to let it grow out. That new found freedom I felt in Salzburg was carrying through. I wore it in an afro more and didn’t bother with Curl definition. However it was feeling more and more like paper again. It would grow out; feel like a dry mess of straw then break off. The only thing that was growing was my frustration. I began co-washing again it helped a little but nothing long term. I would oil it, nothing. I would twist and tuck it, nothing. My hair was also doing something strange. It was curly at the root, but would straighten out at the end; an inconsistent curl from root to tip. I didn’t know what to do! Cut it again, maybe? My mind frame was this; my hair has changed this is what happens when you get older. It will never grow longer than it is right now. While watching one of my favorite shows Mirror, Mirror, the host did a segment on Castor oil. Using a tiny bit on your hair greatly improves your ends and reduces flyway's. Desperately, I went to the drug store and decided to give Castor oil another try. In the past I had used it but didn’t think it was beneficial. While setting my hair in twist and tucks, I would mix the castor oil with some of Dove’s oil cream moisturizer. I did this for a month and notice a significant change in the quality of my hair. It started to curl again and felt softer. In my mind, the pieces started to come together. It as if little droplets of information started to hit my head. During this time I had joined the addiction know as Pinterest. Pinning fashion images and style pictures was how I first got interested. Then an Image of a stylish up do on a beautiful black girl caught my attention. How did she do this style? Could I see myself doing the same style? I click the link that was attached to the imaged and recognized the sight from a few months ago. The image was from Black girl Long Hair. I went to this website and started reading about the Young lady who took her hair from Big Chop to some significant length. She changed her regime stop using heat and started treat her hair better. The results were a glorious head of lovely long locks. I began to Google “Natural hair” and then found the website This is where I found the typing system which I understood but wasn’t sure where I fit in. My damaged hair did so many things I could really identify with 4 A, B, or C! So I just kept reading.
When I got back home, it was like nothing changed. First of all I was home. In my grandest dream, I thought I was going to have to send for my husband and cats. We were going to have to set up shop in Salzburg because I was offered work singing somewhere in Europe. As it turned out, sometimes dreams turn into nightmares. The festival was a great disappointment which led to a depressing 16 hour plane ride home to depression. I had one gig to look forward to. In kind, I agreed to cover the Soprano in a Beethoven 9 concert with a local orchestra. I was excited about this initially. When I came home it was all I had. I took the one recording we manage to get from the whole event, and create a video for it to shop around to various Opera companies and orchestras. I figured I put all that work into training my voice at the highest level , somebody should bite. I got nothing. Not even an “come in and let us hear you sing”. When we began rehearsing for the concert, I was confident in how I prepared myself, even though my heart wasn’t fully into it. I walked around the world like I had been battered and bruised by a heart breaking experience. My coach who helped me with my preparation dealt me a harsh blow when she said I should have been cast for the concert but I looked too old compared to the others. It hurt. Myself image was taking a bruising in the weeks after Salzburg. It was as if the world had changed right under my broad nose. Here I am, undeniably black, and I don’t fit in. Being the Christian woman I am I kept pushing. My duty now was to get a day job and continue with voice lessons and auditioning. The day job was proving more and more difficult to come by. After all, Los Angeles is one of the cities with the highest unemployment. I was able to sign up with my 10th temp agency. They were sending me out on assignments here and there. By this time I my hair was beginning to flourish again. I had braided it with some box braids and it looked okay. The hair that I used was so cheap it would unravel and the braids would tangle leaving me with a mess. I took them down and sported my signature twist and tuck. It was a neat hairstyle that I could undo into a nice textured afro! It was my go to “protective style”. Now at this point I was not so hip on the entire Natural hair lingo. I had gone natural in 1991 and all we had was Caesar cut and braids! Those were the terms we used.
As the subsequent days rolled by, I kissed my husband good bye each day and remained home slightly depressed from the lack of work and prospects I would send out two sets of resumes to opera companies and regular companies for receptionist jobs. I got one call to audition for San Francisco opera’s chorus. I get that one every year. They put me on the wait list and leave me hanging for never. Then I got a call from Long Beach Opera asking me to help them out with the School program they put on for the schools. I thought his would be great to do. I was excited to do it even though they were only going to pay me $50 to do it. Then I had a recital for the Music club I belonged to and another Christmas gig paying $200 at my church. So I was set up for the holidays! I began to heal. The temp agency called me as well. They had a job downtown covering for the receptionist who had lost her mother suddenly. I was excited, real work! Since my hair was growing out, I still wanted to look professional and not do too much to my hair. Plus they called me at 9 am I had to do something quick to my hair. So I pulled out one of my pixie wig and wore it to the assignment! This proved to be a smart but incredibly dumb move. Smart because I got tons of compliments on my work, they were impressed at how quickly I caught on to the office culture and how well I worked the front desk. I looked professional and pulled together with my little pixie wig on.
I wore the wig for a couple of weeks and occasionally switched it up with another short wig. I got tons of compliments on it too. One lady screamed out I like your hair! I walked back and said thanks it’s a wig! Winked and kept going. She came to the front desk and marveled at my wig. The next day, she told me she went to her hair appointment bragging about it and how she wanted my hair cut. The beautician talked her off the ledge. There was one girl who would cover my desk for lunch and she would go on various blogs but one she would go on was BGLH or Black Girl Long Hair. I thought that was interesting. I didn’t know what it was about so I told her to write it down for me. I would look at it later. She had long hair but I think it was a weave. However there was another girl who covered for me who had very long hair. She too was black. This was not a weave. It was hers ALL hers. I thought like most people “she must be mixed with something. I never went back to the website. I thought it was a site for girls who were somehow more blessed than us ordinary girls with ordinary black hair. When I got home, I looked at myself in the mirror as I took my wig and make up off. I undid my little twist and tuck buns and began to think, what if I just not wear the wig tomorrow. Just undo my hair, fluff it out and dress really nice and go into work like this? The next morning, I began operation phase out. I put on a very sleek outfit, and fluffed out my twist and tuck and went in to work as is. I got compliments on my thick hair from some the other said the phrase I dread, “You Changed your hair”. How many of you have heard this phrase? I always think when someone says this it’s their way of really saying, “I don’t understand why your hair is like this, but if I don’t say something you will think I hate it, I actually don’t like it but you caught me staring so I have to say …You changed your hair!” insert slight smile. The head of the company even began to look at me differently. I thought to myself “uh oh”!
I had spent two months working there when the powers that be decided to promote the old receptionist and hire me on as the new receptionist. I was through the roof! I thought “My hair won”! And I got a job! This is great! Prior to taking on this job, I had informed my temp agency of the days I would need off for my various side gigs and to fly up to San Francisco for my audition. They were in total agreement with this and would work around my schedule. The first week I worked on my own as the temp to perm receptionist, I informed the H.R. assistant of the days I would need off. He immediately rushed to my desk and said he knew nothing of this. A slight warm feeling came over me, then immediately my blood turned cold. This was not good. I went to lunch and called my temp agent and told her what had happened. When I came back from lunch, the other receptionist told me that another rep from my agency came to see me. I was thinking all of this was bad, bad, bad! I immediately, started canceling my gigs; I needed this job, and was prepared to sacrifice my reputation as a musician for a day job. The following week I was on pins and needles. Christmas was coming upon us and I was doing anything and everything they had asked of me to keep this job. Then something happened, I answered a call about the Receptionist position that was available. I went cold. I called my temp agent and she broke the news to me, they are rescinding the job offer, they are looking for another receptionist. I was to stay there until they found someone else. Well as luck would have it, that weekend I got food poisoning. I didn’t make it to Monday and they told me not to come back at all. The next thing I did was try to get my gigs back. I got the one!