Kink in My Reflection

April 25th 2017, the day I met my hair. After 27 years, I met my hair for the very first time. “How?” you may ask. Well, for as long as I can remember I have had my natural hair manipulated using various methods including: the very hot – hot comb, texturizers, relaxers, braids, and weaves. As soon I had 1 inch of new growth it was time to top up on the chemicals. What I understood to be my hair does in no way compare to the beautiful, ferocious, curly afro that I now acknowledge, praise, love, and on occasion set-free.

andrinestraight
Straight relaxed hair
Andrinecurly
Bantu Knot-Out on Relaxed Hair

Relax a little; better yet, relax it all

Getting a chemical relaxer every couple of months was a natural part of my routine. In the same way one would get their hair coloured or have their car cleaned, it was just something I did. Unbeknownst to me, the glory I felt walking out the hair salon with silky straight hair was a fabricated illusion taught to me by the society in which I was raised.

If my naps (aka kinky hairs) were controlled, I was that much closer to achieving what I perceived as the standard of beauty. It was also the easiest way to blur the lines of differences between my peers and myself. Only later will I learn that beauty lies IN our differences. This twisted perception presented itself to be true since there were few references for comparisons. The black women in my world -Tv personalities, teachers, aunts, cousins, friends, sister, mother- all conformed to the trend. What was a girl to do?

The damage was done

I have always been very adventurous with my hairstyles. I’ve cut it into short bobs, pixies, grew it long and even bleached it. After years of toying with it, the combination of a relaxer and bleach showed no mercy. After 2 months of rocking blonde-ish hair, it began to break in an uncontrollable manner – the damage was done. Every stroke of a comb, or brush against my pillowcase brought the immediate death to many strands.

Witnessing the damage that I had caused ignited my curiosity to uncover what I had been suppressing for almost 3 decades, the strength of my natural hair. And there was no time like now since that was all that remained.

Andrineafro
Afro
AndrineBantu
Bantu Knot-out on Natural Hair

My unforeseeable 4C, now

Everyday is a new day on this journey and to be completely honest I am not exactly sure how to care for it just yet. It will be a steady process of trial and error until I find what works best. Needless-to-say, embarking on this journey has been enlightening in more ways than one. I’ve learned more about myself beyond the texture of my curls; yes, I confidently embrace them for what they are now. I’ve learned that my hair does not, will not and has never defined me. I am the same confident, relentless female I have always been. I’ve also learned that in embracing my hair I can be an example to someone who is fondling with the idea of going natural or a resource for answers to someone who has no idea what it means to have kinky hair. The beauty that is my hair is versatile, untamed, and 100% natural.

Seeing a kink in my reflection wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Drine

Andrinelong

 

 

 

 

 

Drine has a degree in business and currently works in management consulting. She is a young woman on the journey of self-discovery. She is a self-described foodie with a special interest in travel, animals, and investments. You can find her socializing with friends or on an impromptu trip to somewhere new.  Follow her journey on instagram [@morr_drine]

“Especially Hair – Moisture Foundation” Product Review

We received the opportunity to share our opinion on Especially Hair, Moisture Foundation – Deep Treatment Masque, available online here. The company provided each of us with the product and we have tried the masque repeatedly on our tresses over the past couple of months. Read more about our thoughts below!

Michela 

Overall Product Grade: A-

To provide some background, I have type 4 curly kinky hair. My hair is fairly thick and quite resilient. However I will admit that over the past few months I have neglected to deep condition it the way I should and could sense it was a little drier than usual. As you can imagine, I was quite excited to try this masque in my hair.

Especially Hair – Moisture Foundation is a gel like, thick consistency. I enjoy the scent – it is fresh, warm, with hints of natural oils and coconut. I tried using the masque as both a deep conditioner and a leave in conditioner, and overall was very happy with the way my hair absorbed it.

On one instance, I left the product in my hair overnight as a deep conditioner. I then used it as a leave in conditioner. The slippery gel like consistency eases the detangling process. My hair felt moisturized and soft when I separated the twists in my hair.

I also tried the product as a deep conditioner alongside a different leave in product. My hair felt soft and moisturized after washing. Again I was happy with the final result, and found the product could also be paired well with products from other lines. This could be a good way to maximize your use of the product, considering it retails at $32 a jar.

Overall, I am really pleased with this product and would recommend it!

 

Rebecca

Overall Product Grade: A

My curls land between a Type 3B and 3C. I have tight ringlets that get dry and frizzy pretty easily, but my hair is also quite fine – a unique combination that can be tricky to find good products for. Like Michela, I was excited to receive the Especially Hair – Moisture Foundation as I had been looking for a deep treatment product for some time.

The product was more slippery and gel-like than I expected for a masque/deep treatment, but it was thicker than most leave-in’s I have tried. The smell was very organic and quite pleasant. In fact, I received more than a few compliments on how nice my hair smelled after using it!

I used Especially Hair – Moisture Foundation regularly for about one month. The first few times I tried it, I used the product as a leave-in conditioner. While my curls looked good, this leave-in method left my hair really heavy and the product residue was too much. So I switched to using it as a deep treatment that I rinsed out. After a couple more tries, I realized the best application of the product for my Type 3B-C curls was to use it as a deep treatment for about 3-5 minutes and half rinse it out. I do this every other time I wash my hair (in between I use a different leave-in conditioner that is a bit lighter). I really loved the way my curls looked and felt after using this product. It restored the moisture I needed and my curls were shiny and frizz-free.

In short, I would definitely use Especially Hair – Moisture Foundation again – in fact, I am placing my next order very soon! I have also recommended it to my mother and sisters, whose hair ranges from 3A to 3C.

Valerie

Overall Product Grade: A-

photo-output

I have a 3B curl. When I tried the Especially Hair – Moisture Foundation I initially used it as a styling product. Right after the shower i flipped my hair over and combed the product through my hair with my fingers. With scrunched the excess product into the tips of my wet hair and dried with a diffuser. I would use the product again.

Pros: I love the smell – it lasts all day and I get compliments on the way my hair looks – styled, minimal frizz (I never have no frizz – let’s be real), shiny and soft.

Cons: It’s pricey (approx. $40) but I found it lasts long even with regular use – also the second day my hair felt slightly weighed down and as I used the product over a few days I found it better to alternate between using it as a conditioner and as a styling product

Jean

Overall Product Grade: A-

My curl is a 3A/3B blend – as seen in this pic:

fullsizerender-8

I used Especially Hair – Moisture Foundation for a month and a half primarily as a deep conditioner.

The smell is intoxicating – a light blend of vanilla, coconut, and cocoa butter scents. Every time I wore Especially Hair, I received compliments on the smell.

The texture is very rich. Prep the ‘that’s what she said jokes’ because there’s no better way to describe it than: thick and creamy. The consistency is a cross between a cream and a pommade. You can feel all the oils in the product.

As Becca noted, I also thought it was a bit heavy at first. When I used more than a quarter-sized amount as a deep conditioner, it weighed down my curls. I halved the amount and I immediately noticed a difference. No residue and my curls were soft, shiny and moisturized. The masque has a luxurious feel, so I found myself looking forward to Sunday applications.

To tame the ‘fly-aways’ on my scalp, I used a tiny amount of Especially Hair and it was just as effective as my usual coconut oil styling remedy.

If your curls need some TLC, this is absolutely the product for you! Start with small amounts and then increase if you don’t see results.

Hair Tips for the Woman On The Go

 

Us curly girls know that if we let it, washing, conditioning and styling our curly hair can take a ton of time – and frankly, as much as I love my curly tresses, I just don’t have it. I’m not professing to be an expert on hair care, but I’m sharing with you some of my strategies for limiting the amount of time I spend on my curly, kinky, type 4 hair (see http://www.curlambassadors.ca/curly-hair-types/ or http://www.naturallycurly.com/hair-types for a simple breakdown on hair types). For all my ladies with straight hair, these tips can likely work for you as well!

 

Deep condition the night before a wash

To avoid lengthening what is already a long washing and conditioning process, I deep condition my hair the night before I wash. I typically spritz the ends of my hair with water and apply the deep conditioner throughout, focusing on the ends. I then twist my hair, or put it in a bun before I wrap it for the night (see tip #2 on wrapping). I wash and condition as usual in the morning.

 

Get some of the work done the night before.

Many black women have been wrapping their hair with scarves for eons. Ladies, If you haven’t yet tried this strategy, trust me, wrapping your hair with a silk scarf or wearing a silk bonnet while you sleep will preserve your curls and lessen frizz and dryness. Guaranteed. You can try experimenting with keeping your hair in a loose ponytail at the nape of your neck or on the top of your head to see which method gives your hair a better shape in the morning. When you wake up, just fluff your hair, maybe add a little moisturizer and go.

 

Detangle in Sections

I’ve tried detangling my hair all at once, thinking it will save me time. Big mistake.

The truth is parting my hair into 4 sections (or however many work for you) always, ALWAYS leads to a smoother detangling process.

 

Avoid shrinkage when wet

This may not be the case for all of us – but my shrinkage is REAL.

Shrinkage usually makes the detangling process harder, so I try and avoid it.

As soon as my hair is wet I start finger combing it – ensuring it stays elongated. When I apply conditioner to my hair, I immediately start detangling with a wide tooth comb. After I finish detangling a section, I twist the section before I  move on to detangling the rest of my hair.

 

shrinkage
ah  yes, the shrinkage is real. 

Trim Regularly

Curly hair can be a handful to detangle. However, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t so much my new growth that makes my hair more difficult to manage, but the unhealthy ends that sometimes come with it. The truth is, a fresh trim makes a huge difference on the detangling process for my hair. So I’ve learnt to let go of the ends, because I can’t keep breaking combs ladies…

 

Break the routine down into two parts

There are times when I just don’t have the time to wash, condition and style my hair in one sweep. On those busy days when I need to wash my hair, but I also need to leave home early, I break up the process of washing and styling my hair.

I usually start by washing and detangling. I then put my hair in a bun while I set out to accomplish the tasks for the day. Later on in the evening, I’ll take down the bun, spritz my hair with water and twist it if I plan on rocking a twist out.

 

Hopefully at least one of these tips was worth adding to your curly hair arsenal!

IMG_3183

Why I Cut My Hair

 

IMG_2777
“Your hair is your beauty.”

 

“Why?”

She asked, fingers in my curls.

“Why would you cut it?”

It had been a decade. Ten years.

“Your hair is your beauty,” my gramma said, seeing my long curls for the first time.

For ten years, I wore my hair well past my shoulders. I dragged many a comb through it, grunting at the knotted sections, and mouthing “fuck,” at the familiar sound of plastic snapping.

For ten years, I stacked the compliments (long hair oooh, long hair aaah) atop one another, proof that any beauty I possessed was root-deep.

For ten years, I gawked at women with short hair—friends, lovers, family, strangers. The perfectly shaped mini ringlets, glazed with oil, burnt gold, or holding true to their rooted colour, spinning forth from the scalp like a preened locus.

Yes, it was more than just hair.

Being biracial with the palest of skin, my big hair was an ode to my mother’s blackness. Being bisexual, my long hair was a wall thick and dense, built to keep out crazed homophobes.

Then, I had an excuse.

A short film.

A spoken word short film.

The short film goes something like this… there are 3 women carrying a legacy of suffering: a housewife, a jazz singer, and a narrator. This woman—in her various forms—loses it. She can’t stand the generational pain latched to her skin like a leech.

The Artist is crippled by the marriage between $$ and Art. The Housewife in her genes, the one that really wanted to run the world (and could have) is bitter as hell. The Narrator has jeweled eyes and she wears her purpose around her neck, in a fearless gold loop.

The purpose is a demand for change, for the kind of Art that lives to inspire not enrich, for the kind of world that beckons the ghouls of slavery to obliterate the hatred that remains.

As these interweaving stories are told in rhyming lines, under an entrancing piano loop, I cut my hair off as a symbol, a gesture, a ridding of displaced ancestral meaning—in favor of the narrator’s meaning, her owned truths.

FullSizeRender-3
…her owned truths

That’s what happens in the short film. That’s why I cut my hair, or so I said.

But what happened to me? Why did I do it really?

I was bare. Cold neck. A chrysalis of insides. My whole face felt different, looked different. And, I wanted shorter still. I wanted the pixie cut, shaved neat and clean, and close to my head.

And, I knew something new.

Something I couldn’t have known, when pulling my head back from brush smacks for  fidgeting, while my mum wrangled my hair into tidy braids and smooth buns.

170063135
Nothing I could see in the mirror would ever be my beauty. 

I knew then, staring at my steady lips and dark eyes that nothing had changed. That my hair was never my beauty. Nothing I could see in the mirror would ever be my beauty.

I was never my hair.

With a bob of swirls coated in coconut oil and a freckled frown, I looked closer still, at the weariness in my eyes, at the wobble in my smile.

I was never my hair.

So why did I feel like I’d lost a finger, a limb, some whole and attached piece of me?

I had lost something, you see. I’d lost a decade of hiding. A decade of questioning. A decade of linking cultural heritage to something transient, impermanent, fallible.

A flash of scissors and the tufts of hair left behind had brought back a lifetime.

I relived the pixie cut my mother gave me as punishment. I relived the dragging of an iron over my hair to flatten my coarse, unresponsive mane. I relived the ooohs and aaahs and the ‘Is that your real hair?’ and ‘Can I touch it?’ I relived the bonding – oh, the bonding, with too many women to count (especially the If She Dreams team), over products that worked and didn’t, over the dreaded humidity, how to bottle the ocean air and how to quench my ever-thirsty curls.

The memories livened my face. My fingers felt the new short ends, just below my ear, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d go shorter yet.

“Why? Why would you cut it?”

“Why not?” I thought to myself.

IMG_3185

Coconut Oil Saved My Curls

Moving to India brought about a lot of changes to my daily routine. I commuted to work in a rickshaw. I bought my groceries in a bustling market where I haggled for my bananas and papaya. Cows regularly cut me off on the road. I ate some form of lentil pretty much every day. I knew these kinds of shifts would happen before the move, but I didn’t predict the changes to the one thing that probably impacts my day the most: my curls.

I can’t pin down exactly what made the greatest difference  – the heat, the humidity, the dust in the air, the hard water – but my curls exploded in India. I spent the first 5 months looking like a poodle in the Amazon. And not only was it frizzy and massive, my hair was more knotted than it’s ever. Within a day or two of washing it, my curls seemed to fuse together and I would curse throughout my shower.

So in order to tame it, I went through my tried-and-tested curly products from home like wildfire. I arrived in India in November 2015 and by the end of the year, my tubs and tubes were empty. To be frank, even those didn’t help me much. And I couldn’t buy any more Deva Curl or Kinky Custard or Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner anywhere there. So I searched beauty salons and pharmacies looking for an answer. Nothing worked.

When I moved to Bombay in February (I started out in Delhi for the first three months), my friend here recommended something I hadn’t yet tried: coconut oil. Indian women have sworn by hair oils for ages, especially coconut and olive oil. Almost all hair salons in India offer an oil treatment and judging by the shiny, thick locks I was surrounded by, I thought I’d give one a try.

I quickly learned that an oil treatment is more like a head and scalp massage with moisturizing oils. Not a bad start! I arrived at the salon and Surendra ushered me to my seat. He had brought with him a small bowl of coconut oil the size of my palm with one inch of depth. I looked at it and chuckled to myself. He has no idea what he’s dealing with.

My hair was tied up at that point. I decided I had better let him see what he’s in store for. Upon letting my curls loose, the poor Surendra squealed out a yelp. Oh dear, I thought. He looked at the little bowl of oil and then at my head again. We were speaking in one or two words of Hinglish (Hindi and English), so I didn’t know exactly what he was thinking. But he seemed to decide we’d start with the small bowl. Optimistic, I thought.

An oil massage begins with the application of oil to dry hair, starting at the scalp and roots. Surendra struggled (and then eventually ripped) my hair into parts and began to apply the coconut oil from the small bowl, bit by bit.

He hadn’t even finished the left corner of my head and the bowl was empty. Even funnier, the oil had disappeared on my head. You couldn’t tell that my curls had seen anything applied. It looked dry and normal. Now Surendra saw what I knew was coming. He stepped away for a second and came back with pretty much the whole tub of coconut oil. Ok, I thought, now we’re talking.

Surendra continued to apply the oil until my scalp was covered and began massaging my head and neck. Hair benefits aside, the treatment is worth it just for this.  Sooo good. After an hour of the massage, he pulled my hair back into a slick ponytail and suggested I keep it in for a few more hours then wash thoroughly. Now totally relaxed and smelling tropical, I headed out the door. Even with a massive amount of oil in my hair, I still didn’t look like a had a massive amount of oil in my hair. I was surprised he didn’t apply it to the rest of my strands as well, but I figured this was the way they do it, so I’ll try it this way. He told me to come back in 3-4 weeks for my next treatment.

After washing and air drying, I noticed an immediate difference to the texture: my curls were softer and less frizzy. My hair still wasn’t as tamed as I hoped, but I was very pleased nonetheless.

However, after a day or two, my frizz returned and so did the knots. I only went back to see him a few weeks later, taking his advice a bit literally. The second time was just as relaxing and the results were still great, but the effect was still not quite enough.

So I decided to start applying oil on my own in the shower. Sometimes I’d use it as a leave-in and sometimes as a mask that I’d leave in for hours and then wash out. I would use it every day or every other day depending on my hair’s condition and where I would be travelling to. I also used it on my roots and my ends, which I needed desperately. Now with consistent use, I could see a remarkable difference. No frizz, soft and light, shiny, no knots. Finally!

I’ve been using coconut oil regularly for a few months now and I’m officially a convert. Many curlies have been recommending it and using coconut oil for ages all over the world, but I didn’t give it a go until India. I can fully appreciate why so many people swear by it, especially after five months of fighting with my hair without any tools.

IMG_2130
Immediately post-oil treatment – shiny and fresh!

I used the Nutriva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – the same one you can use for cooking, teeth pulling, on your skin etc. Nothing special about it (some oils say they’re made especially for hair but I don’t think this really makes a difference). I also have a little spritz bottle of coconut oil that I use when travelling or to touch up in between washes to tame frizz and give a nice shine (I am tempted to bring this little bottle in my purse even because it is SO useful, but I don’t because I’m afraid of spills).

I’ve heard great things about avocado oil and olive oil but have yet to try them out. Personally, I love the smell and consistency of coconut oil and its multipurpose personality (body moisturizer, lip balm, etc.), so I think I’ve found my match. And I’m never letting go!

What other oils have you used? Any other natural curly hair products you recommend? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

IMG_3335