Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Natural Hair Revolution: Where Do You Fit In?

This is gonna be a nice long post but here goes.... Unless you live under a rock or have been on extended vacation on the planet Jupiter, you would know or at least should know (please be aware that legal culpability applies in most instances when ya should've known even when you didn't actually attention people) that the natural hair movement, particularly concerning black women, is on an all time high and is exploding all over the place! Black women are foregoing chemicals, mostly the creamy crack (relaxers), running away from flat irons, hot combs, blow dryers and opting for more naturally curly styles, and chopping their hair off for a "fresh" start clean and clear of chemical products.  They are swapping a lot of the old school hair products for alternative products with less chemical and bad stuff (such as, sulphates, proteins, certain oils and things like gotta do your own research to get all the specifics b/c I'm not entirely up on the dos and do nots but I will provide some really helpful resources at the end of this post); and they are adding homemade and natural products into their regime (this I know a little more about b/c I have done a little bit of this on my own and in doing so I have done way more research in this area).  Women of this movement are on a roll all across America and all over the world wide web! In it's current form it's like a civil war.  It's like they are angry with the stereotypes of what black hair is supposed to look like and be like and they are fighting it by rebelling and doing their own thing.  I'm just wondering is this just a fad? A phase in black hair, again? Is this really a revolution or just a style of the moment?? When the smoke all clears and the dust all settles, where are we going to really be at with our hair?

In the beginning of my
journey... chemical free!!
My hair and I have had a very special relationship for as long as I can member.  We have been through every color in the rainbow (I've had platinum blonde hair, hot pink hair, orange hair, and so forth), every texture on the texture wheel, just about all lengths possible and every single style that could be conceived or perceived! After all of this excitement, the ups and down, and a series of traumatic events, I finally decided, with the instruction of my primary doctor and the support of my BFF, Shan, to stop relaxing my hair in early 2008.  Four years later, it is still the best decision I have ever made for my hair and esteem and this is the most comfortable and satisfied I have ever been with my hair ever!!  I would be lying if I said I was less than convinced that this whole natural thing was gonna work for me when I ultimately stopped relaxing it.  I can remember telling my BFF that my hair wasn't the kind that could go perm free! I always felt like when I was overdue for a perm my hair would start to break off worse than it would with a chemical.  It would get so coarse and unruly I would get the perm just to make it behave and not so much for it to be straight.  But I was very quickly proven wrong early on in the transition.  First, I wanted a short sexy hair cut anyway.  I was sick of being married to hair and I preferred a hot hair cut (duh, Halle Berry; Malinda Williams and Nia Long has that kinda affect on a honeey!!)  to a boring long weave any day so that kinda made my transition that much easier.  I didn't have any desire to keep my length so no hesitation there but at the same time I got the benefit of not only ceasing the use of a relaxer but also cutting out the majority of any relaxer I had on my head.  Although there was a concern that it would be more complicated to keep my hair straight while natural at such a short length, but that too, with the magic hands of my stylist, Michael Flagg at Bliss Elements, became the least of my worries. With the right conditioner, products, tools, and his skills the condition of my hair and the manageability of my hair, whether straight or curly, has never been better. And with time it just got's even more trained and responsive.  I could workout like crazy and sweat it up, I could get caught in the rain and humidity and easily wrap it up quickly and it rebounds nicely.  After wearing my hair cute and short for three years, I decided to start the grow out process last year and I'm now at the boring pain in the @ss medium stage and feeling antsy and stuck! It's not growing fast enough for me. But my stylist says I need to be patient and I need to just chill out b/c it's growing and more importantly it's not coming out or breaking off.  True. Guess I should chill and wait....

Grow out phase! Curled tight.
When I started my journey it was about the health of my hair and scalp and also about freedom and autonomy.  I love my hair and I think it's important to keep it done (honeeyz please don't slack on the hair...there is no excuse not to love yourself enough to care about your hair), but I was sick of being a slave to it.  And for me, the perm (relaxer) was the ball and chain scenario because it was such a process and such a laboring event and just about everything had to be scheduled around was more annoying than it was good.  I know there is that constant bickering about whether or not you are more black in the "natural state," whether you're really natural if you wear your chemically free hair straight, or whether adding color makes you not natural, or if using non-natural products in your chemically free hair is not natural, or whatever other back and forth nonsense that is going on out there.  But none of that mattered or matters to me.  The truth is I don't feel any more black now relaxer free for 4 years and I didn't feel any less black before with a chemical or even with weave... all of those choices were more about styling, habit, miseducation and preference; and not about race or cultural identity so those arguments don't make much sense to me.  And in fact, I find when you set up these kinda of rules... must use only natural products, must only wear hair in the curly style, can never use heat ever never on my hair... and then live by them as absolutes just because you set them, you ultimately put yourself in the same slave like mentality as when you felt like you must have this silky straight texture, you must have this certain type of length, you must fry your hair straight to be pretty, you must have a perm every 6-8weeks.  No different.  Same mentality but just from one end to the other.  My journey was about not being dependent on some thing that was deteriorating my health and wrecking my flow.  When I let that "need" to have a chemical smacked up in my head I achieved exactly what I set out to do! On top of that, the confidence and the carefree-ness that came along with it was totally liberating and allowed for my artsy self to shine through.  I still enjoy my hair straight and wear it like this the majority of the time, although I actually don't use much heat to achieve this.  I go to the hair salon 2x per month to have my hair conditioned, blown out and flat ironed.  In between that I don't add any more heat or use the flat iron myself.  And I recently had a sewn-in weave in my hair to give it a little bit of a different style and help me through my impatient grow out phase.  But I'm chemically free and intend to stay that way.  Glorrrryyyyyy to the good Lord Jesus!

MORE PICS, TIPS and RANTING after the break>>>>

My hair crush at her finest, Ms. Tracee!
Photo Courtesy: Swiped this from her Twitter Avitar

With the new natural hair "revolution" and information out there I have started to try different styles that are more curly and play with new products and natural ingredients. Here is a list of things I've tried, tips I have, and resources I love....

After my first henna
treatment--you can
see a little of the red..
*Henna- I recently tried a henna treatment because after much research and feedback, I was convinced that there was some benefit to it's use than just a hair tinting effect.  Research dictates that henna is a great natural product to help strengthen your hair, prevent excessive shedding, add shine, and yes it can tint your hair.  My stylist seems to think there is no other benefit to henna than the tinting, but I'm gonna keep at it.  :-)  As long as it's not damaging my hair there is no harm in trying it and the color actually picked up really well in my hair and looks great.  Additionally, I believe, just like with a lot of natural products out there and with the testimonies on henna use, that there is more than likely some truth to the claims! Two of my absolute favorite hair blogs (and just plain old favorite blogs in general) have tutorials, testimonies, pictures, instructions, and feedback from chemists and henna specialists that can help you if you are interested in this and also to really put you down to what is going on in the natural hair atmosphere without being overly radical and obnoxious:
**Curly Nikki - Nikki also does a weekly article on and she has a FB page.
**Hairscapades by Shelli - I lucked up on Shelli from Nikki's page and I'm a huge fan! She has some beautiful hair and some great tips and guest bloggers.

One of my homemade
deep conditioners.
*Homemade deep conditioners- I have done a few deep conditioner treatments with a variation of the following ingredients from home: avocado, honey, egg, mayo, coconut oil, and olive oil mixed with some cheapy conditioner.  Again, you can refer to the above sites, use your own rendition and basic hair sense, or search the net for more advice and applications of how to make and use homemade products.

*Twist outs, wet sets, and various curly styles-  I spent the majority of the summer with my hair in a rolled wet set and I have done a few twist outs too.  The video blog below is from Naptural85, and she is a favorite amongst the natural hair community demonstrating various protective styles, including twist outs, etc. Her name is Whitney and she is absolutely phenomenal in the many tutorials she has online. There are many more by different vloggers you should seek out and watch in your spare time. Shelli at hairscapdes (noted above) does these as well and I enjoy them all.

One of my twist outs. Wasn't
my favorite but I'm learning which
products work best for me by trying
*Products I'm Loving--I really, really like just about everything in the Shea Moisture family! Love it.  And I know a lot of people rave about Kinky Curly product but the only one I really like is the leave-in detangler! It is absolutely great.  My hair was soft and manageable when I used it.  Also, I love the Pure Bliss line that my stylist has created and manufactures (that's right, my boy is not only a stylist and salon owner but he's also a "chemist" and owns his own hair care line that is mostly all natural and has great products that I love).  You can get Shea Moisture and Kinky Curly products at Target and Walgreens (Walgreens sells a sample line with multiple products in a pack and I loved that b/c you can try everything out before you commit to a larger size) and Pure Bliss products can be purchased on the Bliss Elements site linked above.  Some natural hair members love Miss Jessie's but I've heard some horror stories about them being very heavy and if you check their history I think they operate more from a styling perspective than a hair care perspective.  Do your research, take some recommendations, trial and error, and develop a core base of products that help you achieve your hair care goals.
Kinky Curly Knot Today Natural Leave in Detangler 8ozOrganic Curl & Shine Kit, Coconut & Hibiscus

Lee's Ultimate Natural Hair Tip--  It's your hair and your choices and you should do what you feel most comfortable doing.  Don't feel compelled to fit into any regime or movement that doesn't work for you.  But at the same time, don't stay where you are just because that's where you are and all you know.  I think the most important thing to come out of this hair movement is that women are now taking care of their hair and being more conscious of products, tools, and styles that are going in and out of their head.  We have spent a long time not caring about our hair (please don't make me reference that Good Hair movie...please) and only caring about the style, abusing our scalps, and being ignorant to what we need and there is nothing empowering or attractive about that.  We have to do a little better and this movement is encouraging that.  Education, diversity, and motivation amongst women are some of the best things we can have, and you see this with the natural hair movement.  Unfortunately, I will say that I've noticed a  little bullying here and there in the community and some absolutes and nit picking and that is something I think we can do without but that's kinda few and far in between. But as women, you can ignore that and take from it what works for you and leave the rest right where it is. You really don't have to explain your decisions or justify your choices to anyone but yourself, and your spirit will speak to you and put you right in check.  I'd also say,  be sure to do your own research and be sure to consult with a hair care professional.  Everybody's hair is different and every product or ingredient doesn't necessarily do what some people think or what it does for others.  In short, run with this movement but at your pace! :-)  HONEEYZ, What are your thoughts on the natural hair movement? Do you think it's here to stay? How has it impacted your relationship with your hair? Share with us some of your health care regime, tips, and resources!!

A few various styles L to R: rod set (ignore my eyes...looking all crazy); straight sewn-in weave;  layered and curled sewn-in weave.


  1. uuggghhhh!! I feel so torn on whether to go natural or not and this post doesnt makes it worse! lol I love your hairstyles, my hair cut is similar to your short cut style right now and I feel like if I go natural, i'll look a hot mess during the grow out phase because of the length of my hair.

  2. Eboni, every single picture at various lengths and various styles are sans a relaxer or any other straightening chemical. So length and hair phases shouldn't be a deterrent to going natural, if you so choose. I'm not totally against chemicals bc I do think they can, at times, be a better alternative for certain individuals who are looking to achieve a certain look. Example: flat ironing your natural hair every single day and blow drying it once a week on 400 degrees so that it's bone straight is not a better option than having a relaxer properly applied by a professional every 6-8 weeks or greater. The most important thing with a chemical is the application, the use, and care after it's applied. Have fun deciding!!!

  3. I've always been natural I guess it's a Cali thing but I do believe that anyone can achieve healthy hair by being natural even if you have to hit your edges ever so often with the hot comb :)


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