High Hopes for Naturalistas in 2014

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Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a regular new feature: “Share of the Week.” It’s just a quick way for me to drop in a video, Tweet, Instagram or other internet and social media content around our common interests. This week’s pick is from Naptural85, my favorite natural hair care aficionado. She articulates a lot of common sense here where she tells Black women to basically … ease up! Enjoy the natural hair journey and stop nitpicking at each other!

Oh, and if you want your Funny Bone tickled, here is an even lighter take on the situation of “Natural Hair Nazis” (I can’t stand those jack-booted militant types telling me I have to do this or that with my hair. LOL.)

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The 4C Hair Moisture Regime that WORKS

It took a few years of experimentation, wrong turns, and the rediscovery of long-forgotten natural hair care tricks, but I think I’ve come across a moisturizing routine that works for my hair (4C) and Baby’s (3B).

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It’s the basic liquid, oil and cream method, or L.O.C., as bloggers and vloggers call it. I’ll just walk through my routine one piece at a time:

Liquid: Shea Moisture – Cocount & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist. This light, great-smelling liquid is Baby’s favorite. She loves the coconut smell, which gives me extra mileage when it’s time to get her to sit down for a hair-grooming session. Between the two of us, we’ll go through a bottle in six weeks.

How to use: I just mist it over my hair in the evenings and the mornings. On Baby, I’ll spritz in a little before running a comb through her hair.

Oil: The mixture in the second bottle, with the green tip, is my own creation. I started with a base of olive and grapeseed oil, then poured in a blend of essential oils including jojoba, Jamaican black castor and sweet almond. The idea was to combine oils that absorb into my hair shaft more easily than most, and don’t necessarily need assistance from a heat conditioning cap. Because I don’t always have time to sit under a heat conditioning cap for 45 to 60 minutes!

How to use: I aim the tip at my scalp and squeeze a small amount right in. I also get my edges. Then I rub in the oil, using the pads of my fingers and going in circular motions. I try to dedicate three minutes to this task, usually while listening to my iPod in the evening or listening to my favorite morning radio show (Yolanda Adams).  (I skip this step for Baby, since her wavy hair is finer than mine and not as thick, so I don’t want to wear it down with unnecessary ingredients.)

Cream: Another homemade creation, and I made a video of it a while ago. This is a quick souffle that I mix up about 3 or 4 times a year, depending on the season. I go through each batch faster in the cold months, using a little in the morning and at night, while I generally ease up in the spring and summer.  I might use the cream primarily at night, and then go with the mist and and the oil in the mornings.

How to use: I scoop out two fingertips full of the cream, rub it in my palms until it becomes more liquified, then rub it into my hair, paying attention to my scalp, edges and the nape. On Baby, I use a smaller amount and follow the same procedure.

I’ve been following this routine since the late spring and all summer, and I’ve noticed growth in my hair and Baby’s. Of course her hair grows faster, and in some spots it is well past her shoulders. I don’t do length checks, but one sure sign of improved hair health: fewer split ends and less breakage.

Sounds like I’ve hit on the right LOC combination that works for us, so I’ll stick to it. I might modify the routine only to substitute my homemade creak for Qhemet Biologics’ Alma Olive & Heavy Cream in the coldest winter months. Of course that would mean Baby’s hair would get the cream only once every 2 or 3 days, and I might have to switch to a more moisturizing conditioner. But our spring & summer moisture routine is down.

The Pastor and The Weaves

Long_Weave_Pink_BlouseThere has been a lot of reactionary talk lately about whether Black church women should wear weaves. ‘Impossible!’ you might say. ‘With all the pressing economic and social issues facing us today, why in the world is anyone devoting any time to discussing a trivial matter like hair.’

Well, a pastor in Waco, Texas thinks women’s hair grooming habits were worth talking about, and he made headlines after word spread about an interview he gave America Preachers.

Our Black women are getting weaves trying to be something and someone they are not. Be real with yourself is all I’m saying” said Pastor Aamir.

His remarks were more extensive than that, and when they came out the reaction was predictably shallow and sassy:

“God sees the heart …”

“There are more important things to talk about …”

“People are not going to go to a church that doesn’t feed them … ”

“Sounds like the beginnings of a cult … ”

The original interview, as published, seemed incomplete to me. The article didn’t contain a lot of context to help me frame his remarks, so it was hard to understand where he was really coming from. So while most people took the bait from what appeared to be a truncated interview and just went in on this guy, sizing him up as an insensitive luddite, I couldn’t help but ask myself a few questions.

What is the focus of his ministry?

In his excerpted remarks, the pastor also mentions that a lot of people in his congregation are struggling financially. Sounds like he is attuned to their needs, not out of step with his flock. He says a 26-year-old mother in his congregation is one of those with modest means, yet chooses to wear a $300 weave. His point here is that her priorities are all wrong, and I agree. There has to be a way to look cute without spending so much of the family’s hard-earned money on something you’re probably going to throw away in a couple of months. Find a cheaper way to look snatched, slash the hair salon budget and use the difference to enroll your kids in an activity they would enjoy.

Was he generalIzing with the self-esteem remark?
Perhaps. Low self esteem is one reason women spend beyond their means to be fashion forward. But some women are simply vain, shallow and will go to unnecessary lengths to have their hair layed like Toni Childs every single time they step out of their houses — assuming they made an effort to own their homes. And sometimes I think all the other pieces that go with Remys — the fake eyelashes, high-gloss lip color, nails, etc., have a cumulative drag queen effect. Sometimes I think women are obsessed with their outward appearances — and others. When every other woman you see on the street has a head of virgin Brazilian, yet you know her ancestry is nowhere close to matching what’s on her head, you have to wonder.

Other women deserve the benefit of the doubt know what they are doing when it comes to their virgin Brazilians or Remys and aren’t hampered by any psychological issues tied to their beauty self image. They how to wear that Malaysian, maintain and style the hair and how to work out in it. They know when to take breaks from the hair, whether it means throwing on a lace front for a spell while the scalp breathes uncovered — at home in the evenings — or just wearing their own hair unencumbered.

So why bother calling people out?
He wasn’t.  He asked the female leadership to abandon the weaves,  presumably to set an example for other women in the flock.  Or to open up a conversation about our collective self image and what our priorities are–or should be when it comes to beauty rituals. If they overrule him and continue wearing weaves, then I assume that they’ve found another way to get to the root of their problems.

Haven’t the edges suffered enough? Sensitive topic, I know.  All women want to do is beautify themselves. What a paradox that women who consistently install weaves to look their best end up losing a good chunk of their hairline over time, due to excessive pulling, tightening of the hair shaft at the root, and pulling while styling and maintaining the weave. Maybe women should take a break every now and them from such an expensive and potentially damaging way of managing their hair.

This is one of those perennial debates that Black women have to deal with, much like skirmishes in the “mommy wars” sometimes flare up among upper-middle-class Caucasian women. You’ll always have people who offer unsolicited opinions about how women should go about looking their best. Whether it’s a seasoned pastor concerned about your family’s financial solvency, or a bird who just sacrificed her car payment to go out on the scene in L.A., it’s probably best to set aside the extreme opinions and figure out your own brand of respectable style.