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

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! ❤

 

Be Sweet to Your Feet

Living in New York is a dream come true for me. Oh, to be in a fashion mecca everyday, surrounded by the fashion-forward masses.  I used Sex and the City as my guide, studying the four chic femmes in all their stylish splendor, prancing through the streets in Jimmy Choos. I prepared myself to navigate the city streets on a perpetual runway!

The first week I arrived, I did just that…. hitting the streets in lovely assembles with my prettiest 4 inch heels. Carrie Bradshaw’s got nothin’ on me!

The following week, with feet too swollen and sore to wear anything other than tennis shoes, I painfully limped through the day and thought to myself, What went wrong?? How in the world am I seeing all these fabulous-looking people strutting their stuff in designer shoes?? I took myself to a nail salon to treat my feet to some  damage control, and made a startling discovery: women were removing their fabulous shoes to reveal a multitude of bunions, corns, twisted toes, blisters and broken nails. Yikes!  Is this the real price of fabulous? 

I came across this diagram from Truth Beckons, an informative multi-faceted media page on Facebook:

The pictures on the right absolutely mirrored my pedicure neighbors,  so I had to find out – how does this happen? The following points are common contributing factors:

  • Aging – As we get older, our feet continue to grow and spread, while our arches fall and the natural padding wears away over years of usage. This leaves us vulnerable to an assortment of conditions.
  • Certain Fashions – Some shoes are simply made for looks, not usability. Wearing shoes that are too narrow, tight fitting, or pointy-toed can crowd toes and cause various abrasions, such as corns, calluses and blisters. Bunions are suspected to also be a result.
  • Heel Height – Continual wear of heels 3 inches and above over time can cause shortening of the achilles tendon, making the wear of flat footwear very painful. This also affects unnatural weight distribution to the balls of the feet, resulting in a condition known as metatarsalgia.

How can we still don our heels while saving our feet?

There are a few ways to still “work the runway” on the streets while minimizing any undue tootsie damage –

  • Travel comfy – Keep a pair of flats on standby for navigating your way to and from work. Make a choice – Catwalk to work or at work? Making this choice cuts down on some of the hours of wear – obviously helpful for your feet.
  • Change it up – Experiment with other fashion statements that don’t require nosebleed height. Kitten heels can be killer with a sleek pencil skirt. Try some patent-leather flats with those cigarette pants you’ve been looking at.
  • Invest in inserts – There are a vast array of inserts that are made for all types of shoes, including stilettos, that provide extra cushioning. My favorite is Foot Petals – Super low-key, yet very affective.

http://www.footpetals.com

  • Try Comfort Wear – *Gasp! Did she say to visit the Comfort Dept??* Yes I did! You’d be surprised at the wide array of choices brands like Cole Haan, Aerosoles, Naturalizer, Born, and Sofft have to offer. These shoes are constructed for comfort, but are making a serious effort to keep up with the latest styles.

These are from Naturalizer -Not bad, huh?

Last but not least, treat yourself to a good foot massage every now and again. Our feet put in a lot of hours carrying us around, especially in those beautiful, painful heels. Reward them and yourself with a good therapeutic rubdown.

Be sweet to your feet!

Baking Soda… Have we met?

This post for my domestic divas out there who want environmentally safe multi-tasking products at their fingertips! Baking Soda, also known as Sodium Bicarbonate, (NaHCO3) has been around since the 1800’s.  It’s most recognized as a leavening agent to help with the ‘rise’ in baked goods. It’s also a mild, yet effective cleanser, but  it’s not just for household use; here’s a list of uses that just might make you say “Whaaaat???”

  •  Antacid – Did you know that medicines like alka-seltzer gets the effervescent (fizzing) action from baking soda? It’s ‘fizz’ that is said to settle the stomach from minor bouts of nausea and heartburn. As always, used discretion and consult a healthcare professional for any prolonged discomfort. DO NOT USE if you suffer from any serious conditions like ulcers and such.
  • Kitchen cleanser – If you have expensive, non-stick cookware, or delicate materials like granite or stone, baking soda is the ideal cleanser. Tough enough for stains without harsh chemicals or damaging abrasives.
  • Toilet Bowl cleaner – This can double as a neat science trick for the kiddies! Combine a 1/2 cup of white vinegar with a 1/2 cup of baking soda directly into the toilet bowl…. watch the fizzing action! (and no, it won’t explode) Let it sit for 15 min. while you get some coffee, then come back to casually swish and flush… it practically cleaned itself!
  • Jewelry cleaner – I discovered this by accident. I’m a serial lotion-slatherer – the thick stuff – which leaves my rings dull, dull, dull. (I’m never smart enough to take them off) One day, I scrubbed my pots good with baking soda, and upon rinsing and drying, I was nearly blinded by my normally-dull rings. They were sooooo shiny! It’s been my go-to ring cleaner ever since.
  • Toothpaste/breath freshener – This is pretty well-known, as a toothpaste is manufactured by Arm & Hammer. I’m a fan!
  • Carpet & vacuum freshener – Do you have pets? This is essential for all those pet-parents out there! Sprinkle baking soda liberally on your carpet, wait 15-20 min, then vacuum up! It instantly refreshes the carpet and the vacuum, especially when dealing with potentially stinky debris like pet hair.
  • Drain cleaner- Baking soda eliminates accumulated germs and odors in kitchen and bathroom drains. This is more preventative, but still effective with clogs too. Tip 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by boiling water or 1 cup heated vinegar for tough odors and/or clogs.
  • Exfoliant for face and body – This is my FAVORITE use! Tough enough to clean out those pores, and get rid of dry, dead skin, leaving the skin baby soft… gentle enough to use every day! At least I do. Use it in your bath, scrub up in the shower… so invigorating! Store it in a snazzy little container, like this bamboo spice box with a magnetized lid (something similar –bedbathandbeyond.com):

  • Laundry booster – Baking soda boosts your laundry detergent’s cleansing abilities by regulating the water’s ph; keeping it from becoming too acidic, or too alkaline. In a ph-regulated environment, the laundry detergent’s much more effective on stains and odors. Learn more about ph here.
  • Fruit and Veggie Cleanser – Whether you buy organic or inorganic produce, a good wash in a sink of cold water and a 1/2 cup of baking soda will leave your goods squeaky clean! Try it sometime!

So, instead of spending tons of $$ on multiple cleansers and fresheners, make the investment of about $5.00 on a rather large box of baking soda.

You’ll get waaaay more bang for your buck!

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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