Hair Again: Rough and Dry Ends

Please note: I dislike tagging my personal pictures, but I’ve discovered they are being used. I was never asked about it. I never gave permission.

These are my hair ends. I’ve flat ironed a few times. I blow dry my hair nearly all the time, and I am pleased to see the teeny-tiny-itty-bitty curls come back. However, even with tons of conditioning, heat protectant(s), I am still paying the price of those luxuries. My ends are very delicate, and they’ve been feeling rough and knotty for a while.

After I blow dry, or flat-iron, I check my ends. For some reason, my left side (in the front) is always rough, tough, knotty, and harder to manage. I don’t know, in general, how many inches I retain each year, but last year it had to be zero to 1 inch – if I was lucky. I hate doing it, but I had to get the scissors out. (No!!!)

As recently as the last two times I’ve washed my hair I had to cut. Not trim, cut. I took off inches. Several times. I don’t like doing it, because it’s hard to judge if I’m chopping off too much on one side or the other. And who wants lopsided hair?

I deep condition religiously, but it wasn’t enough. Damn. This time I decided to add something new. I warmed up a bottle of Tea Tree / Carrot Oil, drenched my ends in it, added heavy conditioner, bagged the plaits on each side of my head, and kept it on overnight.

Well, I give complete credit to hair web sites, because people have mentioned doing this a million times, but I never did it before with this sort of intensity. I usually put it in, and immediately wash it out.

To make a long story short: my ends were tamed. They were smooth, silky, and no rough stuff. It made my modest bit of combing after I washed a true snap and blow drying was much easier. It did nothing to cut down on the time it takes to do my hair, but that’s something else I have to work on.

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Hair A Few More: Leave-In Conditioners


Hair Length Goal

I did not have a particular hair length goal before. I simply wanted to know how to treat my hair well, and to be satisfied with the results. I’ve worn my hair natural (without relaxers, perms, or any other kind of toxic chemicals) most of my life. My styling and treatment of it was hit and mostly miss. Now-a-days, I plait my hair (10 braids), and keep it in a bun. I can no longer two-strand twist, that makes it knotty. I will wash it while it is in braids, including the use of shampoo about once a month.

Currently, my hair reaches bra-strap and I have a medium length torso. I am aiming for mid-back or waist-length by February 2010. I wont stress myself to reach that goal. If I make it fine, if not, no big deal. My hair grows fastest and strongest, when I get into an exercise routine and wash weekly. I noticed that my vitamin and breakfast drink mixes made a big difference. I can only drink my concoction in the summer, because I can’t take cold food or drink unless it is boiling hot outside.

I really like this period of time we are in. The best hair products are available for curly, textured, kinky, nappy hair. It’s no longer about using grease as the solution to every hair problem. My hair issues used to be dryness, a lack of moisture, and fighting with the comb – yanking out fistfuls of it – after washing it.

Holy Grail of Moisture

I’m not on any search for a Holy Grail of great products. However, it’s great not to be dependent on any one company or product. I’ve found three new moisturizing staples to go along with my favorite Garnier Fructis Leave-In Conditioner. One is Organics Olive Oil Leave-In Conditioner and their other product is Shea Butter Detangling Moisturizing Hair Lotion.

My hair drinks these two products. They feel a bit sticky on the hands, especially the Shea Butter. I am already in love with the Organics Olive Oil Leave-In Conditioner. It is light, doesn’t go on heavy or greasy, and best of it all, it does make the hair easier to comb. Not that I am into combing my hair anymore, but it’s handy to have.

I use the BioInfusion Leave-In Conditioner right after I wash my hair. It is definitely not sticky. It’s suitable. I’m not sure how great it is. My hair drinks this product also. It doesn’t leave my hair dry, so right now, I consider myself satisfied with my entire collection of Leave-In Conditioners.

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Project Cheerful: Search for Happiness, Black Women!

I enjoy browsing the Internet for topics that interest me. I have many links to business, technology, science and a bit of political news. I set up a YouTube, Google, and Technorati search / blog / news / link pages, plus my own searches, to offer up information regarding black women’s lives, and our natural hair. With great dismay, I’ve come to realize that 99% of the content is negative.

Why is that?

Complexity: Woman and Black

I continue to search, yet very few sites exist which convey even a semblance of joy in being a woman, who happens to be black in America. There are black women whose mindset is black first, foremost, and nothing else. I don’t know when and where their concept of womanhood comes into play.

I wonder: Does it ever? How does that kind of self-alienation make sense?

Apparently, life as a black woman is all sorts of hell, damnation, and brimstone. We are forever the victim. Although no one recognizes us as a victim, since there is an oppression index, and we are at the bottom of that one as well. You know, there’s a “true” beauty hierarchy and we are at the bottom. There is a racial victim hierarchy and we are at the bottom. There’s a sexism hierarchy, but we don’t even get the benefit of being included, since so many of us have decided to be “black” first, foremost, and above all.

We can’t be both, ’cause it might confuse the one-dimensional thinking people.

I honestly wonder if some black people think black women are direct descendants of Eve. Or is it Ham? We are doomed unequivocally and forever to hard labor – as punishment for being curious and disobedient.

I remember reading, and hearing, more than one black person express the belief that blacks are cursed. Does the majority think that way?

This morbid fixation on our most sorry state isn’t only coming from web sites devoted to celebrity gossip, quite a few purportedly newsworthy, intellectual and academic sources are just as rancid. Everything is about the shortened, diseased, pathological, abused, and totally miserable lives of black women.

Our Lives Have Priority – To Us

Reading this content from an objective and emotional distance, one has to conclude that being a black woman is the worst thing in the world. Yet the information does not carry with it an imperative push critical enough to require any government, nonprofits, feminists, or black organizations to actually make our lives priority.

This has happened because we’ve allowed ourselves and others to decide our lives aren’t important. Black women are ghosts. People might believe we exist, but no one could swear they’ve seen or was influenced by one. Our power to sway opinion, and induce viable action is negligible. Even animals have PETA for support.

However, when we can and should take credit, or power, we swallow our wills, pretend to be modest, humble, and step back to let others (in those race, sex, victim and beauty hierarchies) take our place! Hard labor for someone else – the almost always ungrateful – is an unenforced error, self-punishment, and an unnecessary, futile exercise.

Plain Talk

Black women, against your giving generous, nurturing, me-last nature, you will have to politely and gently usurp, or just drop kick, black men + white women, or whomever, from their sex, race, victim, and beauty pedestals. Teach them all to put you first. It will be hard in the beginning, but support is a busy superhighway. Stop giving unconditionally. It is not helping you. You are roadkill.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

This constant focus of “How miserable are we? Can we be any more pathetic?” makes me avoid reading a lot of (black / black women) web sites. Times are bad. Yet, times have been worse.

Can we have a little sunshine and happiness please? Let’s learn to focus on the bright side. If we are in a dark tunnel without light, how about we think about ways to get out of the tunnel? How about focusing on getting something, or even someone, to show us the way out? Staring into space, thinking about how dark it is, is unproductive.

Even the miserable smile on occasion. I remember growing up laughing with family and friends over lots of things. I still do. Life is funny – it has to be. I know I grew up sheltered and protected. Eventually I was exposed to some of the evil this world has to offer, but I learned to put it in perspective: stuff happens.

I have my share of empathy and compassion for people. However, this modern day onslaught of relentless and negative (dis)information is not healthy.

There is nothing conducive to a person’s healthy sense of well being to view every situation relating to one’s race, sex and age as a dead end street. Frankly, I’m a bit miffed and offended at people who relate, with such grim joy and satisfaction, this constant citing of stats as to how bad it is to a black woman in America (or the world).

I Am What I Am

I’m sure they mean well, but I’d also like to tell them: kiss my ass. I love being me. I love being a woman. I love being a black woman. There is no curse on my gender, or “race.”

Got that?

Now lemme go hunt down whatever good news and cheerful stuff exists on the Internet….

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Turn I Loose: Afro, Locs, and other Styles

Note: This is just my opinion, people are free to wear their hair as they please, of course. All personal choices are valid.

I rarely wear my hair loose. Is that a sign of shame? I was wondering if I hide my hair based on subconscious dislike of it. I wore it straight (flat ironed) for Christmas. I felt overwhelmed and uncomfortable with all that hair. It’s unmanageable to me. I love shrinkage. It is a gift: I can get a reduction in volume, length, and change in texture without a haircut.

Kinky, coily, nappy, cottony, textured, natural 4a-4z hair is soooo awesome!

Natural

I don’t get caught up worrying about what natural or natural hair is supposed to mean. There are people who are anti-heat, anti-straightening, Afro-puffs-only, anti-styling(?), and completely absorbed into natural products (no silicones, parabens, mineral oil, petroleum, etc).

That’s great – for them. Hair rules can be so dogmatic they hurt the people it is supposed to help. Not everyone’s head of hair will respond alike to the same treatment.

Outside of not using a relaxer, lye or no-lye, curly perm, or anything toxic like that, I’m wholeheartedly for the use of anything that temporarily changes my hair. If there was a product that altered my hair texture, straightened it, or loosened the kinky coil for a couple of days, weeks, or months, and I could wash it out – I’d use it. As long as it is not permanent.

Afro

As for hairstyles, I do not like the Afro. It was cool to wear as a nearly bald-headed kid, but even if I could sport a big-ass-Afro (BAA), I would not. It’s too much work. I remember all those years of picking (which was cutting) my hair out, then patting it into shape. I was always worried about it being lopsided, dirty, dusty and dry. Way too much effort.

A tiny Afro is fine. A medium sized one is reasonable, anything longer than a pinky or index finger is a problem. My hair couldn’t stand up anyway – it’s not dense enough. It would require a ton of hair spray – that’s not happening.

I know there are people who love the shrunken Afro, which is different from very short hair picked out. As someone with some of the softest, fragile, thin, and zig-zagged shaped strands around, I could never wear my hair in one. It would get so knotty, I would have to spend hours de-tangling. I don’t see how that helps the hair.

I’ve seen the rough treatment people put their hair through when they pick out their Afro. Picking is cutting, regardless of whether it is damp, wet, or dry. Loose hair is lost hair. I wonder why people believe it helps their hair grow.

Locs

Years ago, I wanted to try locs, but then I realized I dislike them. I’ve rarely seen a head of hair that looks good with locs, regardless of whatever fancy styling, coloring, or name, like Sistalocks, they are given.

There are people who believe this hairstyle helps their hair grow. The truth is, I think locs provide people with an excuse not to touch their hair. That’s not all bad, especially if it’s religiously inspired.

However, broken off locs, thick locs hanging by a few strands, large and growing parts, prove that this style doesn’t work for everyone. I see very few heads of hair that don’t have these balding spots between parts, which is due to traction alopecia. Every extreme twist – in order to look “neat” – pulls out the hair, and those few strands are left holding up a heavier loc of growing and shed hair.

Turn I Loose: Stress Testing

I do want to wear my hair loose: come this Spring, I will see what I can do. I will use bantu knots and two-strand twists to prep my hair. I do not lack for decent leave-in conditioners, so I think I should be able to manage without fear of “The Knots.” Maybe I will be able to wear it out for a week and see what happens.

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