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

Breakfast Spread on the Fly…

What. A. Week… Actually, hectic can’t describe my last 2 weeks with school starting for the kiddos AND myself! Early mornings, hustle for more school supplies that you somehow missed, orientations here and there…. my head has been on a spin cycle – hence, the absence of entries on here. :-/

No matter, I’m a trooper, and I tend to adjust to surprises and rigor pretty well. So when dear Hubby informs me on Sunday night (while I’m getting the kiddos ready for the week, mind you) that he’s having a friend over at 8 am for a meeting, and could I pull a little something together, my first thought was to throw my shoe at him…. but the second was, I got this! (Of course I did away with that first thought! lol)

Get Your Plan Together

Do you have any quick meal go-to’s? I find that when entertaining, having a couple of perfected recipes are the best! If I’m having a few guests over, a frittata would be the business, but since it’s just Hubby and his comrade, I decided on a quick bagel spread with fruit and juice.  This was easy enough, but it’s not about just slapping some bagels and cheese together… you gotta make it special! I’ve incorporated some veggies, two kinds of cream cheese, and a some lox to be fancy with it, but you can use whatever you like… the choices are endless! Just make sure the ingredients used are good quality.

  • Prep the night before – I sliced red onions, cucumbers and beefsteak tomatoes and stored them in tupperware. I made an avocado and garlic cream cheese, (1/2 avocado, 1 small clove of minced garlic, a good squeeze of lemon juice) and transferred it and the plain cream cheese into smaller containers.

  • The day of, slice and toast the bagels – use a spray butter like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” to flavor – I used whole wheat bagels and everything bagels

  • Arrange everything on the table where your guests can help themselves – I’ve added a melon platter, capers, orange juice, and coffee brewed in a french press -the only way to brew coffee, in my opinion! Note that everything is transferred to small, attractive containers for appearances… which is half the battle of entertaining!

Simple, yet effective… and you hardly break a sweat! 🙂

Aloe Vera – How good it is!

I grew up with this prickly little plant in my back yard. My mother, who wasn’t particularly known for her green thumb, was insistent on keeping up with this weird, gangly shrub. I never paid much attention to it, until I’d procure a cut or burn from fooling around in the kitchen, which was often.

*footnote – Reading while trying to cook is not a favorable combination… but I digress.* 

Mom would promptly send me out to the yard to break off a leaf of the aloe vera, and spread the gel over the cut or burn, to aid in the healing.  Most often than not, my wound would heal very well, with little to no scarring.  I can’t say I always followed directions, so when I did end up with an offensive mark, Mom would say, “See? Didn’t use that Aloe Vera like I told you!”

As an adult with a family of my own, I found myself coming full circle to my parent’s old remedies… but not without a little research first. This plant is amazing!

Also known as “Lily of the Desert”, Aloe Vera is known for its extraordinary healing properties.

  • The gel found within the leaves acts as a topical ointment for minor burns and abrasions.
  • It is popular as a soothing, naturally cooling treatment for sunburns.
  • The gel can also be orally ingested, as it is also said to aid in digestive issues and minor cases of stomach ulcers. *It is highly recommended to buy Organic Aloe Gel that advises oral ingestion on the label. Any other source can be dangerous and eating it straight from the plant is just plain gross.*

Did you know that Aloe Vera is awesome for your hair too? It’s juice acts as a natural conditioner and moisturizer. It has the ability to penetrate the hair follicle and strand, to aid in restoring the hair to it’s natural sheen. It’s a wonderful scalp treatment for afflictions such as psoriasis and dandruff, and if that’s not good enough… wait for it…. it’s recognized for it’s ability to promote hair growth! Oh yes it is!

I’ve used Aloe Vera for most of my adult life for different purposes, and I can honestly say that I’m a fan. Aloe Vera Rocks!

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For more compelling information on this amazing plant, check out this article from  Global Healing Center: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/nutrition/benefits-of-aloe-vera

It’s good stuff!

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