Wacky Wednesday: Worst Hair Mistake

Hype and I are always talking about what works and what doesn’t with our hair. It takes trial and error to find out what works best. But this week we’re asking, “What is the worst mistake you’ve made with your hair?”

Da Realist 1

Image Courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image Courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

I still consider myself newly “natural,” even though it’s been close to two years (22 months actually) since I stopped relaxing my hair. Maybe that’s because being “natural” has taken a while to get used to. In the time that I’ve been natural, I’ve tried lots of different products–some good, some bad. Most of my mistakes have been minor. . . except for the one rather unfortunate decision to cut my own hair.

I know that trying to cut my own hair was an extremely bad idea. If you’ve read our blog, you know that I’ve had quite an ordeal trying to find someone to do my hair in Iowa. And I just wasn’t feeling my barber at that time. In fact, I had resolved never to go back to her. I decided to try cutting my own hair (something I would not ordinarily do). After all, I cut my husband’s hair all the time, I thought. How bad could my home haircut be? As it turns out, pretty bad. I cut a huge chunk out of my hair–down to the scalp–with the clippers. I was trying to get my fade right in the back. It was a hot mess! There was absolutely nothing I could do to make it better. For the next three weeks of bad hair days, I hid my haircut under a hat whenever I was in public; fortunately, I have a large collection. I eventually went to the barber shop and got my hair cut by a professional again, but I had to wait until my hair grew back. I was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone asking who jacked up my ‘fro.

Da Hype 1

Bunch of BananasSo, about a month ago, I had my hair straightened for the first time in 6 months and the first time professionally in over a year. I only straightened it to get my ends clipped. It was bone straight and quite frankly, my hair still has not recovered from the hot comb–there a pieces that will no longer curl properly.

Anyway, that isn’t exactly the mistake I’m referring to, though. The mistake I made wasn’t detrimental or harmful to my hair, it was actually a little humorous. Only a little humorous because I had some place to be that day.

So, we planned to visit some friends who live an hour away. I live in the DC-MD-VA area and everything is at least 45 minutes to an hour away. That morning, I decided to wash and deeply condition my hair. I decided that I needed to make sure I used a conditioner that strengthened and moisturized my hair because it had just been straightened TO DEATH. I decided to mix mashed bananas, honey, and mayonnaise with my favorite conditioner.

I started rinsing out the conditioner and it felt good. I mean really good.

But, then I noticed something: I had banana pieces all over my hair. My tightly coiled hair was not interested in giving up the banana pieces. I washed and rewashed and it just would not come out. Finally, three hours later, my husband (who was tired of waiting for me) comes to me and says, “people online said that this is a regular occurrence with bananas and avocados, and that you should just let your hair dry and it will eventually come out.”

Now, you know I could not go to someone’s house with “banana hair,” so I spent another hour or so more picking out bananas. I got about 80% of the bananas out of my hair before I left, but it wan’t until the next wash that I thought it was completely gone.

Will I do it again? Yes, because my hair never felt better. It was soft, moisturized, and super shiny. Next time, I may consider baby food or make sure I smash the bananas better. I don’t want my kid teasing me again, “Mommy, your hair is straight bananas today!”

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Hair We Go Again

Fist pickI’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When we started in this blog in 2013, I never dreamed that so many of my posts would be dedicated to discussing hair. Eventually, Da Hype 1 and I began a category we call “Natural Conversations” in which we–as relatively new naturalistas–discuss what products work best for us. But most of our “hair posts” have not been in that particular vein. In fact, they usually involved one or both of us defending some black woman or girl who was being attacked because of her hair.

Enter the Steve Harvey Show (March 26, 2014). Let me preface this by saying that I am no fan of Steve Harvey’s radio show, his daytime talk show, his books or advice on how women should behave to get a man. But I was reading a post on the For Harriet site about one of his recent shows, and I decided to watch the clip. What I saw made me angry and sick to my stomach at the same time. A newly-wed African-American couple was there seeking advice because the husband did not like his wife’s natural hairstyle. Throughout their nine-year relationship, she had always worn weaves but didn’t want to wear them anymore. When he came home and saw her hair, he behaved like a child or, perhaps, more like a character from some melodramatic nineteenth-century novel. He ran from the house. He then returned to ask his wife if she were wearing a wig. And, if so, she should remove it.

To his credit, Steve Harvey chastised the husband for his extreme behavior and for making his wife feel less than beautiful. He said, “It ain’t your damn head!” Here, I had to laugh because I told my mother something similar–“That’s your head”–when her husband threatened to leave her if she cut off all her hair. But then Harvey brought out psychotherapist, author and blogger Curly Nikki to show some alternate style options. It appeared that his wife’s puff style was really quite distressing to him. Finally, Harvey offered the wife a year’s worth of hair appointments at a salon in her area specializing in natural hair.

Hold up. Wait a minute. So, the solution to the husband’s obsession with a long, silky, Brazilian weave was to find natural styles that were more pleasing to him? I’m confused. Wasn’t it the husband’s attitude that needing “fixing” and not his wife’s hair? Oh, so this actually wasn’t new advice. Steve Harvey was on script: Fix yourself so you can get/keep a man. 

I was angry with the husband for being self-centered and insensitive yet sickened by what appeared to be his self-loathing. A few questions have gnawed at me since I saw this clip:

  1. What did this man think was going on under his wife’s weave for nine years?
  2. Doesn’t he realize that the same hair that he despises also grows naturally out of his own head?
  3. Does he love his wife or the weave?

I suppose I’m asking too much. This is daytime television, after all. Every time I see a discussion on natural hair, it is shallow and disappointing. This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.

___________

Click here for the For Harriet post, where you can see the Steve Harvey clip.

Below are links to some of 2 Dope Sistahs’ posts on black hair:

The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabees: The War on Black Hair

How My 6-Year Old Protested her Natural Hair & the Role Tiana Parker Plays

Spoken in Jest: Sheryl Underwood & Afro Hair

Blackness on Exhibit: Choosing to Objectify Our Own Bodies

Beautiful Black Girls

Natural Conversations: Products We Love

When Da Hype 1 and I started this blog, I never imagined that we would be writing about hair. However, several of our posts last year did in fact discuss issues related to the politics of black women’s hair. Having both decided to “go natural,” we discussed our “journeys” on the blog as well. This blog reflects the wide range of conversations between the two of us. And let’s face it, we know “the personal is political,” so we’ve decided to make our conversations about hair a regular addition to the blog. We’re calling it Natural Conversations, and we’re starting with some of favorite hair care products.

Da Realist 1

Hi, my name is Da Realist 1, and I am a product junkie. I’ve had this addiction for many years. When I first went natural, I was randomly trying anything and everything, but I wasn’t sure what worked and what didn’t. In order to bring some order to the madness, I decided to select a line of products and try them for a month. I’m hoping that’s enough time to make a fair assessment. This month I am using products from EDEN Bodyworks. EDEN has three different lines of hair products–Peppermint Tea Tree, JojOba Monoi, and Coconut Shea. Their products contain “no petroleum, mineral oils or sodium sulfates.” The products I tried from the Peppermint Tea Tree line were the All Natural Shampoo, All Natural Conditioner, and All Natural Hair Oil. From the Coconut Shea line, I used the All Natural Cleansing Cowash and All Natural Leave In Conditioner.

EDENThe EDEN products are reasonably priced ($8-$12 at my local Sally Beauty Supply), and they all smell great. After using the tea tree shampoo and conditioner, my scalp was tingly and my hair was clean, without it feeling stripped or hard. The coconut shea cowash and leave in conditioner also worked well for those times when I didn’t want to use shampoo. My favorite products were the leave in conditioner and the hair oil. With the leave in conditioner, my hair feels soft and seems to retain moisture better than with other products I’ve tried. The tea tree oil has a strong minty smell, but that does fade. My scalp tends to get very dry and itchy, and this product really soothed it. It comes in a spray bottle, so I can put it directly on my scalp. Even though I’ll be testing new products next month, I’m sure I’ll be coming back to EDEN.

Da Hype 1

It’s almost a complete year since I did the big chop! I had transitioned for nine months prior, and like many curlies, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I chopped it off!

For the last year, I have tried a variety of products: Shea Moisture, Jane Carter, Taliah Waajid, Carol’s Daughter, Darcy’s Botanicals, and more. Some of them did not work for me, while some did. Some of the products did not work in the way that they worked for others, but they were okay on my hair. Some of the products worked for awhile, but when my hair seemed to be going through some type of change, they didn’t seem to work anymore.CastorOil
So, what is working for me now? Right now, I am absolutely in love with castor oil in my hair. It makes my hair soft and it holds moisture better than any other product for me. It is especially useful to me during the winter months when my hair could easily dry out from the cold weather, but it doesn’t with my castor oil.
I use the L.O.C. method (leave-in conditioner, oil, and cream) when twisting my hair. For the oil, I use castor oil. I also rub my scalp and ends with it daily. The remainder that’s left on my hand, I rub on the shaft of my hair. For me, it has been the only oil that has made my hair shine.
I use over the counter castor oil–nothing fancy. I don’t use the Jamaican version, which many swear by. I simply decided to try the over the counter version because it is cheaper and easier to access for me (without having to purchase online). Since I fell in love with it, I felt no reason to try anything else.
I have been using castor oil consistently for about 4 months. For someone like me, someone with tightly coiled/curly hair, nothing else has really penetrated my hair as castor oil. There is a warning: castor oil is thick and may even feel a little weird on your hand, but it has NEVER felt that way on my hair.
So, that’s what’s working for us. What hair care products are working for you? We’d love to hear about them!!!

Natural Conversations: Products We Love

When Da Hype 1 and I started this blog, I never imagined that we would be writing about hair. However, several of our posts last year did in fact discuss issues related to the politics of black women’s hair. Having both decided to “go natural,” we discussed our “journeys” on the blog as well. This blog reflects the wide range of conversations between the two of us. And let’s face it, we know “the personal is political,” so we’ve decided to make our conversations about hair a regular addition to the blog. We’re calling it Natural Conversations, and we’re starting with some of favorite hair care products.

Da Realist 1

Hi, my name is Da Realist 1, and I am a product junkie. I’ve had this addiction for many years. When I first went natural, I was randomly trying anything and everything, but I wasn’t sure what worked and what didn’t. In order to bring some order to the madness, I decided to select a line of products and try them for a month. I’m hoping that’s enough time to make a fair assessment. This month I am using products from EDEN Bodyworks. EDEN has three different lines of hair products–Peppermint Tea Tree, JojOba Monoi, and Coconut Shea. Their products contain “no petroleum, mineral oils or sodium sulfates.” The products I tried from the Peppermint Tea Tree line were the All Natural Shampoo, All Natural Conditioner, and All Natural Hair Oil. From the Coconut Shea line, I used the All Natural Cleansing Cowash and All Natural Leave In Conditioner.

EDENThe EDEN products are reasonably priced ($8-$12 at my local Sally Beauty Supply), and they all smell great. After using the tea tree shampoo and conditioner, my scalp was tingly and my hair was clean, without it feeling stripped or hard. The coconut shea cowash and leave in conditioner also worked well for those times when I didn’t want to use shampoo. My favorite products were the leave in conditioner and the hair oil. With the leave in conditioner, my hair feels soft and seems to retain moisture better than with other products I’ve tried. The tea tree oil has a strong minty smell, but that does fade. My scalp tends to get very dry and itchy, and this product really soothed it. It comes in a spray bottle, so I can put it directly on my scalp. Even though I’ll be testing new products next month, I’m sure I’ll be coming back to EDEN.

Da Hype 1

It’s almost a complete year since I did the big chop! I had transitioned for nine months prior, and like many curlies, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I chopped it off!

For the last year, I have tried a variety of products: Shea Moisture, Jane Carter, Taliah Waajid, Carol’s Daughter, Darcy’s Botanicals, and more. Some of them did not work for me, while some did. Some of the products did not work in the way that they worked for others, but they were okay on my hair. Some of the products worked for awhile, but when my hair seemed to be going through some type of change, they didn’t seem to work anymore.CastorOil
So, what is working for me now? Right now, I am absolutely in love with castor oil in my hair. It makes my hair soft and it holds moisture better than any other product for me. It is especially useful to me during the winter months when my hair could easily dry out from the cold weather, but it doesn’t with my castor oil.
I use the L.O.C. method (leave-in conditioner, oil, and cream) when twisting my hair. For the oil, I use castor oil. I also rub my scalp and ends with it daily. The remainder that’s left on my hand, I rub on the shaft of my hair. For me, it has been the only oil that has made my hair shine.
I use over the counter castor oil–nothing fancy. I don’t use the Jamaican version, which many swear by. I simply decided to try the over the counter version because it is cheaper and easier to access for me (without having to purchase online). Since I fell in love with it, I felt no reason to try anything else.
I have been using castor oil consistently for about 4 months. For someone like me, someone with tightly coiled/curly hair, nothing else has really penetrated my hair as castor oil. There is a warning: castor oil is thick and may even feel a little weird on your hand, but it has NEVER felt that way on my hair.
So, that’s what’s working for us. What hair care products are working for you? We’d love to hear about them!!!

Beautiful Black Girls*

(Because it needs to be said)

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I want to say

Just got so say something

About those beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rocking Afro puffs, dreadlocks, and braids

I see you

Making it do what it do

You so fierce

Everyone wants to be like you

What? Don’t tell me you didn’t know!

Tiana, Lamya, Nyla, Lauren, and Nikia

Go ‘head girls!

I see you

Cutting your eyes

Looking so cute

With your beads that match the skinny jeans and the shoelaces and your backpack

For all my smart, sassy, introverted, extroverted

Singing, writing, dancing, swimming, skating

Ball-playing, bike-riding, double-dutch jumping, chess-playing, music-loving

Princesses and tomboys

Keep doing your thang!

Brava, young ladies!

You should know

I’m sitting at home, in the audience, on the sidelines

Cheering you on

With tears in my eyes

For all of you beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rockin’ dope Afro puffs, dreadlocks and braids

©2 Dope Sistahs, 2013

*Inspired by my favorite poet, Nikki Giovanni and her poem “Beautiful Black Men”

Beautiful Black Girls*

(Because it needs to be said)

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I want to say

Just got so say something

About those beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rocking Afro puffs, dreadlocks, and braids

I see you

Making it do what it do

You so fierce

Everyone wants to be like you

What? Don’t tell me you didn’t know!

Tiana, Lamya, Nyla, Lauren, and Nikia

Go ‘head girls!

I see you

Cutting your eyes

Looking so cute

With your beads that match the skinny jeans and the shoelaces and your backpack

For all my smart, sassy, introverted, extroverted

Singing, writing, dancing, swimming, skating

Ball-playing, bike-riding, double-dutch jumping, chess-playing, music-loving

Princesses and tomboys

Keep doing your thang!

Brava, young ladies!

You should know

I’m sitting at home, in the audience, on the sidelines

Cheering you on

With tears in my eyes

For all of you beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rockin’ dope Afro puffs, dreadlocks and braids

©2 Dope Sistahs, 2013

*Inspired by my favorite poet, Nikki Giovanni and her poem “Beautiful Black Men”

The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabees: The War on Black Hair

Spike Lee's School Daze

Spike Lee’s School Daze. Pictured here is the scene with the Jigaboos and the Wannabees

In May of 2012, I had the last touch-up to my relaxer placed in my hair. Immediately afterward, I began considering the idea of allowing all of the chemicals to grow out of my hair. I was thinking about “going natural.” Actually, I had been considering it for a couple years before I made the leap, but in addition to the common reservations of not knowing how to manage it and the fear of how it may look on me, I also had one additional fear: I dreaded (no pun intended) being a part of, what feels like, a growing dissension between black women who wear natural hairstyles and those who don’t.

I absolutely detest the politics of black hair, but as much as I would like to say that my hair is apolitical, it is politicized with or without my consent.

An analysis of the history of black women and images of beauty will reveal how we were (and still are in many ways) made to feel unattractive if we have darker skin and kinky hair. Those with fairer skin oftentimes had access to more resources like jobs, though that didn’t necessarily mean that they were treated well. If you were light enough to pass for white, you could potentially abandon your family and community for some of the privileges of being white, and that came with the price of rarely or never seeing those darker family members who could expose you. Despite your complexion, passing for white was impossible if you had kinky hair, as it was a certain way of revealing your racial identity.

Dorothy Dandridge, Actress

Dorothy Dandridge, Actress

We have internalized this binary of pretty and ugly, where all that is beautiful is white. The converse of that perception indicates that the closer one’s features or physical characteristics are to being African, the more unattractive you are considered to be. Unless, of course, you were lucky enough to get the back-handed compliment, “You are pretty for a dark-skinned girl.”

We grew up in families and neighborhoods where the lighter child with “pretty” hair was more often doted on than the darker ones with tightly coiled hair. We heard those we love talk about “pretty hair” and “good hair” and how adorable it made one child because she was lucky enough to have it. No one had to say that kinky hair was unattractive, though many of our parents/grandparents actually did. The way that wavy textured or loosely curled hair was deemed most desirable, was enough to make the rest of us feel unattractive if we didn’t possess that type of hair. Black girls grew up believing they needed to get as close as possible to having “good hair” and, generally, it meant perming or weaving to accomplish it.

Even today, with so many black women wearing their hair naturally, I hear comments like, “She can go natural, she has a ‘good’ grade of hair” or “Natural hair looks nice on some people, but everyone can’t go natural. It’s not for everyone.” Both statements imply that natural hair is only alright if you have a particular texture hair, and tightly coiled her is never the desired look.

This is perplexing to me: anyone who wants to go natural can and should go natural if she wishes to do so. Not only is it their right to do so, but she can go natural and look beautiful. Taking that choice away from black women is equally as problematic coming from someone who is black as it is when it comes from predominately white corporations that insist on a particular look for their employees.

I certainly feel some sort of way when I hear people make comments like this because, by definition of “good hair”, the tightly coiled hair that grows out of my head is not it. Furthermore, nowhere in this conversation are people talking about the fact that straight hair (whether naturally straight or chemically straight) can be unkempt, unhealthy and unattractive.

The question that begs an answer: Why haven’t we evolved from this old perspective? What sadens me most is that these comments were made by black women in their 20s and 30s, and it does not sound very different from our grandmother’s disdain for nappy hair.

If only this was the only side of the black hair conversation that is disturbing to me.

Me and my hair, styled naturally

Me and my hair, styled naturally

I finally decided to “big chop” in January, and I was talking about the experience with a friend of mine at an event. A woman wearing locks decided to interrupt our conversation and say, “I’ve been wearing my hair naturally when you all were talking bad about me.”

First, I looked at her searching for something familiar in her face–she was speaking to me as if we knew each other. (I somehow refrained from saying, “heifer, you don’t know me,” but I digress.) When I realized that I did not know her, I understood that she was making assumptions about the two of us. For some unknown reason, she was hostile with us about our conversation about transitioning our hair. This hostility about relaxed hair is not new.

On Facebook I have read comments like, “Black women who put perm in their daughters’ hair are committing child abuse” and “Black women who wear their hair straightened or relaxed hate themselves.” The anger that is spewed toward black women who choose to relax their hair by some in the natural community is often articulated in what they call “love.” If this is what sisterly love looks like, I want none of it!

There are some in the natural hair community who are just as hostile about black women placing relaxers in their hair as women with chemically treated hair are about black women wearing their hair naturally. Once, a friend of a friend was stopped by a woman who told her that she was beautiful. She proceeded to compliment her outfit. Shortly afterward, she flipped the script and told her that she would be more beautiful if she didn’t put chemicals in her hair. She told her that she was buying into “the white man’s” perception of beauty and that doing so proved that she hated herself.

What is apparent to me is that this way that some black women choose to engage each other in regards to our hair is divisive, and it seems to me that we cannot afford to be divided on matters that don’t affect real change in our neighborhoods. If this year has taught me anything, it is that there are many issues in black communities that are still pervasive and need the attention of activists. From the violence our young boys face at the hands of racist vigilantes, to the attack on our right to vote, our current circumstances have proven that we have work to do. And, to put it plainly, “Ain’t nobody got time for that” conversation on black hair!