Going Natural: My Quick Guide

This is for all my “Curlfriends” out there!  

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I have been natural since 2009 – natural, meaning I’ve decided to stop the use of relaxers to alter my natural curl pattern. I don’t think it was my conscious choice, per se… it was more like the last time I tried to put a relaxer on it to “texturize” or loosen my curl, it flatly refused to take. My hair simply resisted, and in fact, seem to laugh at my feeble attempt to “straighten” my edges – they turned out kinkier than ever. It was at that point that I decided to wave the white flag, and take the plunge into the abyss that was my natural texture.

My belief as to why we indulge in relaxers in such, is that we have been taught that kinks were bad; the hair MUST lay down, MUST comply, MUST be calm for those around us to be “relaxed”. In essence, the relaxer was more for society, than for us. Our hair never really benefitted. Because it was calm, didn’t equate to health… quite the opposite. Our natural curls grow out of our heads, upwards. It’s natural states reaches for the sky! The chemicals in relaxers break down the natural follicles – doing away with the natural structure of the curl; laying it straight. Thing is, that altered structure is now weakened considerably by the chemicals, hence the propensity to thin and break.

We also equate relaxers to manageability. I thought that my hair would be too thick and nappy to do anything with… as if thick and nappy is a bad thing! LOL In actuality, thickness, strength, shine, and manageability are what we strive for out of our hair – and the stronger, more healthy your strands have, the more manageable it will be, completely!

Initially, my journey was arduous and frustrating. I was a product junky hopping on any bandwagon I could… my poor hair, while going through the transition phase was weak, wiry, and confused. Eventually I got tired of bandwagons and began to research the structure and science behind curly hair. That’s when I turned the corner, stopped product-hunting, and slowly formulated products that were tried and true for me!

To this day, my hair has not been stronger, healthier, more vibrant, and more manageable than now! I can style it in any way, the options are endless. Not that I still don’t experience setbacks, but knowing your true hair’s nature and applying it has been amazing – I can’t see myself going back to chemical relaxers, aka “creamy crack”! lol

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I’m not gonna bore you further with particulars, but here are some rules of thumb to start you off on YOUR journey! 🙂

1. Do you want to transition, or big chop? Honestly, chopping off all the relaxer’s the way to go, so you can deal with fresh virgin hair, but not for the faint of heart. I was a wimp about such a major change, and chose to transition, so I went through the awkward phase of 2 different grades of hair, and slowly trimmed the relaxer off…. either way you go, you must be patient with yourself.

2. How often do you wash your hair? A clean scalp is key, but our hair can’t take too much stripping – every 2 weeks is pretty adequate. If you wear wash and go’s, consider “co-washing”, using a cheap conditioner to “wash’ in between shampoos. Believe it or not, the cheap conditioners like “Suave” still removes the surface dirt from your follicles. If you haven’t already, convert to a sulphate-free shampoo – This is important, as sulphates are sudsing agents that are detrimental to curly hair over time, with over drying-stripping the follicles of needed moisture. My favs right now are Loreal Sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners, and Organix Shampoos and conditioners (Also sulphate-free)

3. Moisturize-seal your hair after every wash, and if needed, daily. We’ve always thought moisturizing meant using hair grease – not so much. Because most grease is petroleum-based, which stops moisture from reaching our follicles, as does mineral oil, not all grease is good. It also clogs your pores in your scalp, which can result in poor hair growth and oddly enough – dry scalp. You want to use a leave-in conditioner first, then apply a pure oil like avocado, grape seed, coconut oil, or castor oil (not the stuff you find at CVS – only the organic cold-pressed stuff from the health food store) These oils are good for penetrating the hair shaft to adequately moisturize the hair.  Aloe vera juice is also an excellent moisturizer before sealing.

4. Put the comb and brush down!!! Coarse/Curly hair appears to be super tough, but actually it’s really fragile. Vigorous combing and brushing everyday can truly stifle progress in growth, incurring breakage with each use. The key is to finger through your hair to detangle initially, with the help of a thick conditioner for those snags and tangles, or use a vented brush GENTLY. If you look at my pic, I have a LOT of hair, but I actually only comb it on wash days, which is twice a month! Lol I know it sounds ridiculous, but you’d be surprised at how well your hair complies after some time.

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5. DEEP CONDITION! As much as possible! Our hair needs protein, so to feed it real protein is key…. but don’t go running out to your local beauty supply; look in your refrigerator! If you have eggs, plain full-fat yogurt, olive oil, and honey? You’ve got an awesome conditioner!! Mix and apply – when using egg, don’t go under a heat cap, (Scrambled eggs does nothing for the tresses) but put on a shower cap and wrap a warm towel around your head for 20 min… rinse out with a thick conditioner. My favs are Tresemme conditioners. (not the shampoos – contains sulphates)

6. Find a regimen that works, then stick to it! Once you find key products that your hair truly likes: Avocado oil, aloe vera juice (excellent for moisture) an awesome shampoo and conditioner duo… stay with it! Your hair will thank you. How can it possibly do that, you ask? By simply giving you shine, bounce, body, and life! If you want it in a ponytail, it won’t fight you, it will simply relax into whatever style you attempt. Now that’s the best kind of relaxer there is… hair health!

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7. Protect your tresses at night! Okay, I know it’s just not sexy, but you’ve gotta protect those ends! Our hair has an aversion for cotton sheets and pillow cases – it robs our strands of moisture and over time, our ends suffer, I tell ya… suffer! (major breakage issues) Ideally, it’s best to wrap up your hair when it’s time for bed, but if you must keep it cute for your significant other, a satin pillow would do nicely!

Bonus Tip: Please have patience! Rome wasn’t built in a day.  This is a journey of self-discovery… of course there’s always a learning curve for everyone. Our hair might respond to different things – I use coconut oil religiously for lots of things, but my hair HATES coconut oil by itself. No bueno. The most important thing is to take pride in your curls, kinks, and waves. Learn what makes your hair glow, and I promise, you won’t want to go back!

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For other blogs that have waaaaay more info on this subject, check out some of my favorites:

http://www.curlynikki.com

http://www.kinkycurlycoilyme.com

http://www.naptural85.com

A Little Something Useful… Homemade Vanilla Extract

Have you ever been gifted a liquor that didn’t agree with you? At first taste, all is well, then like a bad date, leaves you full of regret with a monstrous hang-over? One of my friends gave me a bottle of vodka of said propensity. The cocktail made from this particular vodka was pretty smooth, so much so that I had another, complete with a full meal and dancing afterwards. The next day, I felt such a recourse, as though I’d been on a bender of cheap shots and mixed liquor all night. No thank you. However, when my friend gave me a bottle of the hellish vodka, I just smiled graciously and tucked it in the closet.

As the holidays approached, the availability of gourmet items like fresh vanilla beans were everywhere, yet the good vanilla extracts were SO expensive! Then it came to me: I’m gonna make my OWN darn extract! There’s nothing like homemade in my book, and with the hellish vodka, taking up space… why not put it to good use?

Now making vanilla extract is not an overnight thing. It takes the vanilla beans at least 30 days to cure. There are various methods to make extracts – you can use any high-proof alcohol of choice such as vodka, rum, bourbon, tequila or such; the alcohol does influence the flavor, as do the amount of beans used. I referenced this website to get me started: http://tipnut.com/homemade-vanilla-extract/ – which was really helpful. Generally, I fully endorse using alcohol that you would enjoy for cooking, but using the hellish vodka would be fine since extracts are used in small, concentrated doses. By the way, I decided to write about this after I’d embarked on my extract journey, so you’ll simply have to visualize the hellish vodka in it’s natural state – clear! So here goes:

Here are the vanilla beans I used – Generally 2 beans per pack; Trader Joe’s is inexpensive and quality.

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Split them down the middle – scrape the concentrated goodness into the alcohol

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Added them straight to the alcohol bottle – the sentiment at the bottom is pure vanilla! Shake up at least once a week, and let it marinate for at least 30 days – this has set up about 2 months.

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I just transferred the contents to this bottle which is much more convenient to use – As you can see, Trader Joe’s is my favorite store, and this organic maple syrup is love in a bottle! There were trace elements left to mingle with the vanilla.

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I especially like this top for easy pouring!

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This extract smell like vanilla heaven, and does not perish. It’s best kept in a dark, cool place. Next time you have a yummy dessert, use it!

Goodbye, hellish vodka. Hello, vanilla extract!

Have you tried this? What’s your experience?

Back on the Block!

Hello, World!  Happy New Year – 2014!

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 I have missed an entire year on this beautiful, budding space that’s mine, all mine. Where have I been, you ask? Well, I could acknowledge my rigorous school schedule at Harvard, my kids’ rigorous school schedule, my numerous health issues – 4 surgeries in 2 years, most recent was last month, (yay me) or maybe it was even my beauty products that, despite everything, is still in production. Yes, I could cite all of these issues as to why I’ve neglected my new venture, but I won’t. Instead, I will declare one social media space that I’ve allowed to suck up precious blogging time: Facebook. 

Now, now… I won’t exactly go throwing FB under the bus.  It has served me well in helping me to reconnect with family and friends that would ordinarily forget I was breathing, due to my inconsistency to keep in touch. That medium has allowed me to maintain relationships, share of my family, share in major life events that I would neglect to know about; even if to send a kind word to a sick loved one. For these reasons, as well as the amazing opportunities for businesses and personalities to network, it’s a wonderful virtual neighborhood to be in.

However comma – as my Dear Uncle Larry would say – It can suck. You. In!!! It’s so easy to get caught up in others’ minutiae, you can forget or lose sight of your own space.  I happened to check out another Blog – “A Belle in Brooklyn” – which is a great site by the way, from what I see, and wanted to follow it. So I try to log on. No go. Wait, this is a word press… I have a word press account. No go. What??? Do I not have a blog anymore?? All this time, I thought I could go back to blogging anytime I wanted to… (feverishly trying different angles to log on) Oh here it is… my blog. What am I, retarded?? This is my space. I love Bohemian Flux… how could I have neglected my most perfect forum, where I can address and share all the things I love dearly? Foolishness!

I don’t care to make resolutions. I think that for me, personally, the habit of resolutions are so fragile; so easily forgotten. (Like my blog. smh) I would rather put it on my ever-revolving to-do list: Spirit, Family, Home, Health, School, Business, Blog. It has to be prioritized for me to take it seriously. I will aspire to make this a weekly practice, but I won’t be hard on myself if I have to make it bi-weekly.  I will say, it feels SO good to write here again! 

What are your plans for the New Year? What do you want to do more of? What do you want to let go of? 

Salut! ❤

 

Meditation Persuasion….

Are your days longer than you’d like, and your patience, shorter? Are you having problems focusing on a task? Are you overwhelmed?  Am I beginning to sound like an infomercial?  If so, Meditation may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Consider the following information:

For  Spirit

Meditation is an ancient practice, said to date back at least 5,000 years or more. It is a widely-revered spiritual discipline  used as a way of evolving one’s spiritual self and connecting to the Divine. Although meditation is a derivative of yoga, the practice itself has transcended over time and is embraced by other cultures and religions, as the intention remains the same as the literal definition of yoga – the union of mind, body, and spirit with the Divine.

For Beauty and Health 

The physical benefits of meditation are extraordinary!  The ritual of deep breathing and stillness of mind brings you:

  • invigoration of bodily functions through the intake of oxygen through deep breathing
  • Improvement of focus, clarity, and creativity
  • the reduction of overall stress, which often affects personal appearance
  • a heightened sense of happiness and wellbeing

Meditation is also said to affect one’s physical appearance. Remember, joy and contentment radiate from the inside, out. It is logical to relate your inward happiness to outward attraction.

Your Sanctuary is also uplifted:

To truly submit yourself to meditation, it’s ideal to establish a air of calm and serenity. This means dedicating a room, corner or space to this discipline, adorned with candles, comfortable pillows or seating, and essential oils or incense such as sandalwood, a traditional aromatic widely used in to promote relaxation and spiritual connection.  And it makes your house smell heavenly! *no pun intended*

Meditation is a conduit of positive energy, meant to enlighten, enrich, and improve our quality of life through connecting to God and The Divine. This is just a quick introduction to what could prove to be an amazing lifestyle change!  No matter what your religion or personal beliefs may be, the benefits are transcendental.

For further reading on Meditation and the techniques involved, please visit Deepak Chopra’s instruction for beginners on MindBodyGreen.com

Namaste

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