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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Playing The Cards We’re Dealt

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” ~ Randy Pausch
Discarded Playing Cards, Paul Street, Stratford 06-05-2006Photo credit: DG Jones

Two weeks ago, I attended two funerals for two young friends under the age of 34. Both gentlemen passed away suddenly and left behind many broken hearts and dear friends. They lived completely different lives but left the same lesson—life is about choices.

You’ve heard the clichéd expression that life is a rollercoaster. Life gives you lemons. Life is like a box of chocolates, and on and on. Well, it’s true. Life truly is an unpredictable journey. One minute we’re caught up in work drama, the latest hair style, and laughing about reality TV. The next minute, the stop sign flashes red, and we’re facing life-changing challenges, all based on the cards we’re dealt.

You may have different beliefs, and that’s fine. In the crazy little world within my head, I picture angels—wise, cunning beings that are either good or bad–surrounded around a card table. One plucks a card and deals your faith. We can either choose to push through obstacles (with lots of prayers) or fall, arms outstretched, into a path of destruction.

Our choices aren’t always perfect, but our best bet would be to think about what we want to leave behind. Yes, this is the Oprah moment. Seriously, this lesson was driven home the moment after I left one of the funerals. I strolled away with my SO (significant other) in hand and smiled. This was the very first time I’ve ever felt happy after a funeral. I felt good because of the mark this young man left. It was evident by the words that were spoken of him and attendance of young boys in which he coached and hundreds of friends and family members who all spoke well of him. In the brief time that I knew him, I already knew that he was a good person. How many people can you say that about?

It’s all about these moments, your legacy. Make the best choices that you can while you’re given the opportunity and time to do so. Roll the dice when you need to. Fold or pass whenever you feel it’s right. Do not cheat. Keep a poker face when needed rather than being overpowered by emotions. Play by some rules while breaking others. Know it’s okay to lose and celebrate winning. Most of all, don’t just be … live.

CurlSpotting: America’s Next Top Curly Girl

Nastasia Scott, curly girl from America’s Next Top Model’s Cycle 19

I told myself I was done with it. I wouldn’t watch it again. Super sweet Nigel Barker and The J’s (Jay Manuel and J. Alexander) are gone, and I’m a bit exhausted by its predicable format and over the top antics. I’ve got the smize down pat and know how to look fiiiiierce (waves pointer finger in the air like a diva drag queen). Yet, when my DVR dutifully taped the first episode of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 19, I tuned in. Why the 19th season? Spotted! There’s a curlie on the scene.

Nastasia-Scott3

Above: Nastasia Scott

Her name is Nastasia Scott, and she is representing East Stroudsburg University in what is known as Top Model’s college and social media edition. The minute the camera panned in on Nastasia, I was drawn to her allure. It wasn’t her catwalk or runway physique. It was all about her curly mane. Long, luscious, caramel-coated locks cascade from her head, reminiscent of Gabrielle Kniery from Cycle 14. Oh, and she worked it. In her photo shoots, Nastasia flipped her curls from side to side as she posed … and popped and locked it. Yes, she literally did. There goes that Top Model mayhem again.

Gabrielle Kniery from Top Model Cycle 14. I’ve loved her hair for a long time now. Photo Credit: Jonathan Mannion/Pottle Productions Inc/The CW

I just wonder if during the makeover episode, Tyra will subject Nastasia to some dramatic overhaul involving a stylist’s crafty cut aka the creative destruction of her hair for dramatic effect. In recent years, the show’s makeovers have gotten better, with Tyra fessing up to her hairdressers’ tragic work and even redoing competitors’ hair. She’s pulled back from the formulaic decisions to chop long locks, weave shorter ‘dos, and straighten natural curls. Hopefully Nastasia can escape with some lowlights and her length and curls intact.

It’s too early to decipher her personality, but she has potential to win and it would be the first time we’ve had a naturally curly winner in a while. Eva Pigford (Cycle 3) won the first title, but we’ve yet to see bountiful curls. Regardless, curlies Yaya Dacosta (Cycle 3), Bre Scullark (Cycle 5), and Nik Pace (Cycle 5) are naturally curly winners in my head and everlasting hair idols.

Much like American Idol, you can vote for your favorite model during the show … maybe I’ll chime in. For now, let’s keep an eye open for this curly girl and watch how this season unfolds together. Follow me on Twitter for updates and more musings, using #topcurly (as seen in the picture below).

Tangle Tamer: A Review of Beautiful Textures’ Leave-in Conditioner

Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in ConditionerPop! Bounce! Sway! That’s the sound of my tresses doing their dance the minute they’re caressed by Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner. I have used this leave-in consistently for the last month, and … I am a fan of this product!  Attention! Attention! Here lies a product that actually lives up to its promise. Yes, curlies. We have lift-off.

Here’s the rundown. A few months ago, I discovered Beautiful Textures on a trip to one of my go-to beauty supply stores (BBS). I entered the store with the intention of purchasing my previous staple, Silicon Mix’s Leave-in Conditioner. I turned the corner toward the Dominican section. You know the aisle with Lacio Lacio, La Bomba, and the other major Dominican players?

Well, on my way towards that area, I heard audio coming from another aisle. I walked over and was nearly blinded by a sea of bright yellow and orange. The colorful packaging of Beautiful Textures’ entire product line was on display, accompanied by a looping video of apparent biracial women swinging their pretty curly manes (some curls looked much better than the others that were featured).

Why biracial babes? Beautiful Textures is marketed as being “for mixed textures,” which made me pause and question if any of the products would work for tighter textures like my own. I also questioned the quality of the packaging and some of the model’s hair, but that lasted for a minute, as my curiosity and product junkism reared its ugly head again. Within a few seconds of scanning the product line, I swiped the Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner (approximately $6), Curl Control Defining Pudding, and Moisture Butter Whipped Curl Créme—all of which I will review just for you!

Let’s begin today by focusing on the Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner. I’m still surprised to admit that I’m hooked on this bad boy! Yes, I have fallen hard, but I don’t want to be too hasty! I’ve got to let the love affair take its steady course. ;)

Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner has a thick, creamy consistency, so gauge your application according to your strands. I apply a generous amount to my freshly washed hair, basking in its fruity scent. Not to worry. The smell isn’t overpowering, at least not for me. If it does bother you, take comfort in the fact that it doesn’t linger for long.

The minute the cream touches my hair, it melts into it. I instantly notice a difference. My strands curl and spring into place, easily becoming defined. This isn’t a chemical reaction. Rather, it’s my hair soaking up the yummy goodness that the leave-in provides. The slippage this product gives is amazing. It allows me to easily separate my curls for finger combing and styling. It also works well with my stylers (aloe vera gel included), possibly even enhancing them.

While the distribution is impressive, this tangle tamer clearly nourishes my tresses from the inside out. After using it, my hair is much softer and moisturized compared to other products. In case you don’t already know, naturally curly hair thrives with moisture. Without it, you’ll quickly spiral into the land of hair breakage.

This product is jam packed with oils upon oils as well as aloe vera gel, which my hair loves. Other ingredients include: Aqua, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil/Olive Oil, Argania Spinosa Nut Oil/Argan Oil, Glycine Soja Oil/Soybean Oil, Cocos Nucifera Oil/Coconut Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Fruit/Shea Butter, Mangifera Indica Seed Butter/Mango Butter, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract/Rosemary Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract/Aloe Vera, Dimethicone, Panax Ginseng Root Extract/ Ginseng Extract, Polyquaternium 37, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Glycerin, DMDM Hydantoin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Polysorbate 20, Propylene Glycol, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Phenyl Trimethicone, CI 15985/Yellow 6, Parfum/Fragrance, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Coumarin, d-Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Lyral, Methyl Ionone Gamma.
It is free from: paraben and protein.

Beautiful Textures’ product line, as seen at my local beauty supply store. Can you spot the sea of orange, yellow, and blue?

Pull the brakes! If your hair hates oils and aloe vera, sadly, this one may be a no go for you. Stick with whatever product your hair likes best and ignore me … well, just this once! LOL!

I really do hope that someday there will be one miracle product that fits all curlies, and we can skip along together, curls bouncing along into the sunset. Of course, that would mean that all of our curly manes would be the same, and what a boring world that would be!

Beautiful Textures has finally launched its Web site. You can learn more about the product line and catch those videos that piqued some of my interest by visiting: http://www.beautifultextures.com

A Curly Girl’s Essentials

My First Photo Shoot: Natural Hair Movement

Photo credit: Remy, The Quill

Updated 8/4/13: This post lists key items to help you maintain your natural hair. Please note that there’s an eBook with the same title, A Curly Girl’s Essentials: A Guide for Navigating Your Curly Mane, that is now available for FREE when you sign up for My Curly Mane’s updates! The eBook includes basic information (including the list below) that will help you attain healthy hair. Subscribe and see!

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Back to the deets: The net is bubbling up with information on caring for naturally curly hair. Woo hoo! While there are more resources at our fingertips, it also makes it a bit more difficult to find simple, basic information on how to care for natural hair. I don’t want to confuse you even more, particularly you newbies out there.

Instead, I’m going to break down for you a few essential items that every curly girl needs in her stash. For my easy, breezy minimalist gals, this one’s up your alley! The products for natural hair and tools below are listed in the order in which they’re most likely used.

 

1. Moisturizing & Clarifying Shampoo / Sulfate Free Shampoo

If you are using products (mainly stylers) that contain mineral oil or non-water soluble silicones, you will need to use a shampoo to clarify your curly mane. Mineral oil and silicones can trap moisture within your strands or prevent it from entering your hair shaft. They tend to build up onto your hair, particularly African-American natural hair, and are best removed with shampoos.

Typically, shampoos contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent that creates a foamy lather and strips hair of its natural oils.  Frequent shampooing dries out our curly manes, making them susceptible to breakage. Unless your hair is naturally oily, please shampoo minimally. Your best bet is to purchase a shampoo that is also moisturizing.

If you’re following Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl Method (Curly Girl: The Handbook) aka the noo poo (no shampoo)/co-washing (conditioner washing) method, there may be times in which your curly natural hair is over moisturized. Yep, would you believe that one? Hair that is holding too much moisture will be limp. If you fall under this category, use a sulfate free shampoo to clarify and help wake up your strands. Just an aside, a protein treatment may help as well.

Recommendations:

Sulfate-free: Miss Jessie’s Crème De La Curl Cleansing Crème and Creme of Nature Moisture & Shine Shampoo with Argan Oil

Moisturizing: Creme of Nature Detangling Ultra Moisturizing Conditioning Shampoo and Dabur Vatika Moisturizing Shampoo with Sweet Almond

 

2. Moisturizing Conditioner

This is a must, especially if you use shampoo. Conditioners help to restore the moisture that shampoos take away. Not to mention, they add necessary slip for detangling tresses. In addition, conditioners can be left in your hair as a styler. This is known as Teri LaFlesh’s Tightly Curly Method. While I haven’t had success with this method, it may prove positive for you.

Recommendation: Herbal Essence’s Hello Hydration

 

3. Leave-in ConditionerBeautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner

Another must have! Leave-ins are crucial to many, if not most, curly girls. When used under your styler and sealed with oil (unless your styler contains enough oils), leave-ins keep curly hair moisturized. It also adds definition and reduces frizz.

You can use a regular conditioner as a leave-in, just beware that some conditioners react to stylers and cause white balls to appear on one’s hair. Not all products play together nicely. ;)

Recommendations: I have recently switched from using Avanti Silicon Mix and swear by Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner. This product is amazing!! Check out my product review.

 

4. Wide Tooth Comb/Detangling Brush

Unless you’re seeking a wickedly neat part, leave your fine tooth combs in the back of your draw. Our tresses need wide tooth combs to easily glide their way through our hair. They are extremely helpful when paired with a moisturizing conditioner to detangle hair in the shower. Some curlies prefer to use a Denman brush or Tangle Teezer. This is particularly helpful if you’re using the Tightly Curly Method mentioned above. I prefer wide-tooth combs, as I’m one of those curlies who get serious shrinkage and lose a lot hair from brushes.

 

5. Oil and/or Butter

Your curly mane may work well with butter, oil … or both! Either one will seal moisture into your strands, literally making your hair feel like butta! This should be included as a step in your wash and go (see my 10 steps for wash and gos). You can also use oil or butter as a heat protectant when straightening. In addition (yes, there’s more!), they can be used nightly to seal in moisture into your hair or help to soften and revive your look in the morning.

Recommendations: Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Dabur Vatika Coconut Hair Oil, Jojoba Oil,  and Olive Oil

 

6. Styler

Not every girl needs a styler, but this curlie does. Stylers are products that literally help to style your hair. They increase definition, can freeze curls, and can reduce shrinkage. Stylers prevent my hair from completely transforming into a cotton ball. If this is your desired look, then skip it.

Recommendations:  III Sisters of Nature Curly Whip Pudding, Eco Styler Gel, Fantasia IC Olive Oil Style Gel, Fruit of the Earth 100% Aloe Vera GelHair Rules Kinky Curling Cream, and Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls,

 

7. Hair Clips

They aid in styling your hair or can be used as part of your finished looked. Hair clips section your hair as your work through your head. They are particularly helpful as your hair grows longer. It’s either that or invest in more hands!

 

8. Spray Bottle

Water is nature’s moisturizer. It is a curly girls’ best friend. At some point in your regiment, you’ll need a spray bottle to help douse your hair as you style it. If you’re into rewetting your hair throughout the day, a spray bottle will ease the process.

 

9. Satin or Silk Pillowcase/ Scarf/Sleeping Cap

Another must! You can read my information on Nighttime Routines & Sexy Sleeping For Naturals for more details on satin materials. Please note that satin and silk materials do not absorb the moisture in your hair (unlike cotton), preventing your hair from drying out and breaking. Not to mention, it will save you from “bed head.”

 

10. Camera

This is a must for chronicling your curls. Documenting your hair journey through photos or videos will help you to keep track of your routine and hair health. Aside from badgering your friends, how else will you know what’s working for you?

Once you have these items, you’re pretty much set to go. For those of you in pursuit of how to grow natural hair, these items will keep you on course. Of course, if you are seeking additional styling aids, there are tons of other tools (hair dryers, flat irons, etc.) and products in which you can add to your arsenal. Don’t worry. I’ll keep you posted! ;)

Product Battle: Miss Jessie’s vs. III Sisters of Nature

He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” ~ Sun Tzu

With tons of theatrics and a classic performance by the Spice Girls (sadly no signature natural curls by Scary Spice), the summer Olympics came to a close. Sniffle, sniffle. The games will be missed. In honor of all the stellar athletes who inspired and amazed us, I present to you another epic Hair Battle!

On the left, we have Miss Jessie’s Original Curly Pudding. This all-star has been saving many a curlies’ tresses by offering a variety of styling options. Some have regarded it as among the best curly hair products. From spiraling twist-outs to bouncing shingles, this product delivers. According to Miss Jessie’s packaging, “This curl creme was specifically formulated to stretch out and elongate your curls for soft, maximum curl definition. Amazing for natural curls, kinks & waves, finger styling, TWAs, coiling, transitioning, kinky weaves and more. Excellent for combating curl shrinkage!”

On the right, we have III Sisters of Nature Curly Whip Pudding. Marketed as comparable to Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, this newcomer has a few tricks up its sleeves. According to its packaging, “III Sisters of Nature Curly Whip Pudding is formulated to bring dull, frizzy and tight curls to life with moisture, shine, and length. Our cleaner and natural blends are reduced to the smallest molecule for maximum penetration and definition of curls, waves and twists, and kinks. Compare to the more expensive brand and save.” This knockoff is an all natural curly hair product.

On left: Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding. On right: III Sisters of Nature Curly Whip Pudding.

Remove the packaging; open the jars; and you’ll notice that both products are nearly identical. But are they really? Let’s put them to the test.

The Rules

Both products will be measured according to My Curly Mane’s criteria. A full point will be given for successful completion of each category. A half point will be given for satisfactory results. The categories are: price, ingredients, scent, application, look, feel, and the wild card—ability to produce second day hair. Final scores can range from zero to 7 (perfect) points.

Let’s get ready to battle!

1. Price

  • Miss Jessie’s = approximately $22
  • III Sisters of Nature =  $13

There’s not much of a battle here when it comes to price. III Sisters has purposely set its price point much lower than Miss Jessie’s. As a result, the sisters easily skip and twirl their way to a quick and easy full point.

Miss Jessie’s
Point = 0 /Total = 0

III Sisters
Point = 1 / Total = 1

 2. Ingredients

Once you learn how to understand product ingredients, it will save you a lot of headaches … and money! Here’s the breakdown on our contenders:

  • Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding contains mineral oil aka parafinium liquidum, which can either dry out your hair or help it to maintain moisture. You will need to shampoo your hair to remove the mineral oil. Typically, mineral oil doesn’t affect my hair, but I’ve noticed that this is changing as my hair grows. When using this product, my hair tends to shed. I’ve even had whole strands come out while washing the product out of my hair! However, I’m hesitant to write this off, as Curly Pudding saved me while I was rehabbing my curly mane. I didn’t have this problem when my hair was shorter. Instead, I’m advising you to pay close attention to your hair when using this product.

My curly mane’s definition with Miss Jessie’s (on left) and III Sisters of Nature (right).

Curly Pudding (unscented) also contains water, parafinium liquidum, glycerin, dipropylene glycol, Ordenone™ Triethanolamine, carbomer, PEG-12 dimethicone, wheat amino acids, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, avocado oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba seed oil, macademia seed oil, oleth05, ethylhexyl methoxycinnanate, disodium EDTA, DMDM hydantoin, lodopropynyl butylcarbamate.

Pros: This product is free of sulfate and paraben

  • III Sisters of Nature’s Curly Whipped Pudding prides itself on being naturally made.

Curly Whipped Pudding contains Deionized Water (Aqua),Polyquaternium 10 and PEG 14, Glycerol, DMDM Hydantoin, PEG 33 and PEG 8 Dimethicone, Triethanolamine, Sodium Polyacrylate and Ethylhexylstearate Trideceth-6, Fragrance (Parfum), Aloe Extract ( Aloe Barbadensis), Soybean Oil (Glycine Soja), Babassu Oil (Orbignya Oleifera), Honey, Macadamia Nut Oil (Macadamia Ternifolia), Papaya Extract (Carica), Avocado Oil (Persea Gratissma), Bay Laurel Extract (Lauris Nobilis), Sweet Almond Extract (Prumus Amygdalus), Chamomile Extract (Anthemis Nobilis).

Pros: As written on the label, Curly Whip Pudding is a “natural product containing no alcohol, no waxes, no silicones, no petrolatum, mineral oil, parabens, formaldehyde, carbomer, gimmicks, and hype. Just style and savings.”

It’s just hard to beat anything that delivers in the style department and contains all natural ingredients. III Sisters takes a leap towards another full point.

Miss Jessie’s
Point = 0.5 /Total = 0.5

The view from the back of my curly mane with Miss Jessie’s (on left) and III Sisters (on right).

III Sisters
Point = 1 / Total = 2

 3. Scent

  • Miss Jessie’s pudding has a strong, signature smell reminiscent of grape flavored bubble gum. Love it or hate it, you definitely won’t miss it. You can probably smell Curly Pudding from a mile away, which is just too much for my sensitive sniffer. The good news is that Miss Jessie’s is aware of this potential headache-inducing trait and provides an unscented version, which I prefer to use.
  • III Sisters smells … the same! Since they’re strategically competing against Miss Jessie’s, the sisters must realize that some people do enjoy Curly Pudding’s scent in doses. They’ve formulated their pudding as a lighter scented version. You’ll still get the grape candy smell, except the nasal volume is turned down a notch.

Despite their similar aroma, Miss Jessie’s stands out by offering an unscented version, earning a full point.

Miss Jessie’s
Point = 1 /Total = 1.5

III Sisters
Point = 0.5 / Total = 2.5

4. Application

Both products are applied in the same way–on damp, freshly washed hair. They each have a thick, cake batter consistency, which is what I love about puddings. They just seem to work better for braid-outs and twist-outs (with the exception of aloe vera gel). The difference lies in their penetration. Miss Jessie’s coats my hair strands, while III Sisters lightly absorbs into the hair shaft, causing less product build up and feel (see details below). III Sisters gets the edge.

Miss Jessie’s
Point = 0.5/Total = 2

III Sisters
Point = 1 / Total = 3.5

The look of my curly mane’s 2nd day results with Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding (on left) and III Sisters of Nature’s Curly Whip Pudding (on right).

 5. Look

I have not used these items for wash and gos, as I would go through them much more quickly than desired … particularly given the costs. If used for braid-outs or twist-outs, both products will amaze you. They produce mirror image results–shiny, defined styles. The only difference is that my braid-outs with Miss Jessie’s have more shrinkage on the 1st day (see attached photo), while III Sisters gives me a softer, more relaxed hold. For their identical results, these twins somersault their way to a full point.

Miss Jessie’s
Point = 1/Total = 3.5

III Sisters
Point = 1 / Total = 4.5

6. Moisture & Feel

This is where the two find their individuality.

Moisture

Second day hair results with Miss Jessie’s (on left) and III Sisters (on right).

Miss Jessie’s requires the use of its Baby Butter Creme to maintain moisture. I have had hits and misses with this one, as it (combined with the pudding) leaves my hair feeling oily and weighed down by waaaay too much product. III Sisters makes my hair a bit more moisturized on its own, but this may be credited to its natural ingredients.

Feel

I can definitely feel Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding on my hair, as it also coats my hands when running my fingers through my hair. III Sisters of Nature’s Curly Whip Pudding gives a similar, but lighter coating.

Miss Jessie’s
Point = 0.5/Total = 4

III Sisters
Point = 1 / Total =5.5

 7. Wild Card/Tie Breaker: Second day hair

You can get second day hair with both products, provided that you pineapple (gather your hair at the very top of your head) the night before, re-braid or re-twist your hair, or stuff your hair in a satin cap. I have to admit, I prefer my second day hair results with III Sisters because my hair isn’t as oily or masked by products. It’s also a bit more elongated.

Miss Jessie’s
Point = 0.5/Total = 4.5 out of 7

III Sisters
Point = 1 / Total =6.5 out of 7

And the winner is: III Sisters of Nature’s Curly Whipped Pudding! This newbie has surprisingly taken the medal from Gymnastics Artthe champ.

If you are looking for a product that will deliver on the look (and don’t mind the scent), both products serve that purpose. As I mentioned before, Miss Jessie’s has saved this curlie many a times (specifically Curly Pudding and Quick Curls). I still have 3 full jars of Curly Pudding in my stash, so you will see its cameo in my routine. However, when it comes down to look AND feel AND hair health, III Sisters wins the gold.

UPDATED 6-10-13: III Sisters of Nature’s Curly Whipped Pudding is renamed as its Spiral Pudding.

Why You Need Serena’s Winning Look

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Serena Williams’ faux natural hair is winning. Photo credit: mjh0

The summer Olympic games have been the “hairiest” one by far, with fire storms whirling around African-American women’s heads (please see my previous post for details). Whether worn naturally curly, weaved, or permed, hair has taken center stage, unfortunately overshadowing the performances of many world-class athletes. Among those gaining attention for their manes is tennis ace Serena Williams.

Let me forewarn you, I don’t want to take away from Serena’s Olympic gold medal achievements. In fact, I want to explain to you the importance of her winning look, namely the hairstyle she sported as she won this year’s games.

Regardless of your opinions about Serena’s tresses, we can thank her for:

  • Inspiring women everywhere to be physically strong
  • Placing the spotlight on natural hair … Simmer down curlies! Yes, I know that Serena’s was magically enhanced. More on this later!

From Physical To Spiritual Strength

Put down those Cheetos!! Yes, you heard me. I know you’re munching on them right now at your desk or on the couch … I know because that’s what I would have been doing if I hadn’t changed my diet a few months ago! Apparently, Serena would be right there with us.

She says, “I’ve actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete. I don’t like working out; I don’t like anything physical. If it involves sitting down or shopping, I’m excellent at it.”

Despite her challenges with being active, Serena remains committed to her passion. This dedication made her an all-star, and her body is legend! You don’t need to become a professional athlete, but you can become physically stronger (and maybe even have guns like Serena). Why? Working out not only gives you bodily strength, but it also leads to emotional, mental, and spiritual vitality. You can credit this to the endorphins that are released or just the time spent in solitude.

If you like to meditate or pray, this is a great time to just breathe … literally. As a former runner, there have been numerous times in which I enjoyed moving and meditating, sorting through my life in my head. I’m taken into a zone where I feel as if I am more connected to the Universe and myself (hippie alert!), and everything will be okay. Seriously, you should try it, even if it means walking for just 15 minutes during your day.

Lights, Camera, … Natural Hair!

In addition to her form, Serena has helped to shine a light on natural hair … even if it’s not her own. Hear me out. I know that there have been colorful comments on Twitter regarding Miss Williams’ tendrils, but I think that Serena/her stylist has done a good job of capturing the overall look.

My curly (and straightened) mane with sweatbands and a scrunchie.

Her hair wasn’t styled in an over-the-top way. It looked pretty accurate. It was big. It was voluminous. It bounced as she moved. It blew freely in the wind … just like our curly manes. To me, her faux natural look (Pause. Think about that for minute. Funny!) was the equivalent of Meryl Streep playing Julia Childs. Not exactly the same but definitely Oscar worthy. You can feel free to disagree with me on this one.

In the meanwhile, you can get this look with your natural (or faux) hair by using a sweatband and hair tie/band. I prefer to use a scrunchie instead of a hair band since it doesn’t misshape curls or leave dents in straightened locks once removed.

You can find sweatbands in an assortment of colors and materials, from nylon to polyester, but I prefer the ones made out of terrycloth. This material definitely absorbs sweat, is easy to use, and can help preserve your edges when they’re straightened. Just remember to stretch out the sweatband before using it since some brands are a bit snug at initial use and can stress tender edges.

Sweatbands are available at beauty supply stores or online for no more than $2. Can’t beat that! If you really want to bring back the ’80s or pretend to be a pro like Serena, pair a bright colored sweatband with matching wrist bands. It’s fun and functional!

Whether you are walking, running, or oming it out, just get moving. And don’t forget your sweat- and wristbands!

Life Lessons From Our Olympians

Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”
~ Michael Phelps, Men’s Swimming (Kudos to those who dare to dream!)

This past weekend, it happened to me once again. It being me, jumping up and down and cheering at the top of my lungs. It being me, talking smack to naysayers. It being me, completely (and maybe a bit psychotically!) sucked into the tube watching the Olympics.

While I am in constant awe of these athletes’ superhero/heroine physiques and abilities, their words of wisdom and examples have left an even bigger impression on me. Forbes magazine captured a few winning quotes from our skilled competitors. One of my favorites is the quote included at the top of this post.

Given what I’ve seen from our athletes thus far, I’m adding to the list a few of the lessons that I’ve learned through their actions. They are:

  • Use your talents to the best of your ability. These athletes didn’t get to this epic point in their careers just by luck. They used their God-given skills and obviously worked hard to perfect them.
  • Own up to your mistakes.  Although she won the gold medal in the team and all-around gymnastics competitions, Gabby Douglas wasn’t able to take home a third medal (as if she needed a third one!). “I made a little mistake, but I’m human,” she said. It can’t be easy to have the world watch you make a mistake (waves hands in front of face like wrestler John Cena, saying, “You can’t see me!”). If that weren’t enough, Gabby bravely fessed up to that mistake, so we can all move on from it. Lesson learned.
  • When you fall down (on your butt, heck even on your face as a few gymnasts have done), get back up. This is another tough one. Yesterday, McKayla Maroney, a Team U.S.A. gymnast, fell on her tush while landing from a vault. I gasped in horror as I watched Maroney hit the ground, knowing that her dream of a gold medal was unlikely. England’s Princess Kate and fellow Team U.S.A. gymnasts were supporting Maroney from the stands in what was assumed to be an easy win. Still, the young gymnast showed grace as she left the apparatus and accepted a silver medal instead. “I didn’t really deserve to win a gold medal if I fall on my butt,” Maroney said. She is yet another example of the point above.
  • Congratulate others on their achievements. Oscar Pistorius, from South Africa, ran the 400m in track as the first double amputee to compete in the able-bodied Olympics. Although he didn’t qualify for the finals, Pistorius won the admiration of his fellow athletes. In fact, after winning the semifinals against Pistorius, Kirani James of Grenada, exchanged name tags and hugged Pistorius to show his respect. Am I the only sap who’s been tearing up during these games?
  • Winning is fun, but the journey more interesting. Just ask 17-year-old swimmer Missy Franklin. She won 5 Olympics medals (4 of them gold) but turned down sponsorships, so she could continue swimming for her high school team. Although fully aware that she may be at her peak performance level, Franklin would rather take the risk in order to enjoy her youth. Hats off to the young, wise, and brave!

Have you been inspired by any of our Olympians? Please share the lessons that you’ve learned.

CurlSpotting: Olympic Hair

Gabby Douglas is the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner in the women’s all-around competition and gold medal winner (for team U.S.A.) in the women’s team competition.

I’ve been glued to the TV screen, completely hooked on watching the summer Olympics. Swimming is spectacular and volleyball is worth viewing, but for me, it’s all about women’s gymnastics. Maybe it’s because I’m also extra petite (#teamtiny!), but I just admire gymnasts’ strength and agility.

This Olympics, we were not only treated to a gold medal from the U.S. women’s  team–”The Fab Five”–but we’ve also been blessed with a historic moment. Gabby Douglas is the first African-American woman to win the women’s all-around gold medal!! Applause all around! Oh, the tears of joy!

This moment is peppered by the appearance of a few headlining, naturally curly hair. Here’s a rundown of summer 2012′s Olympic hair.

Gabby Douglas – This 16-year-old domino caught our attention with her performance during the team competition. She then took it to the next level and killed it in the all-around competition, winning another gold medal.

Jasmine Breinburg, star of the Olympics’ opening ceremony, who set Twitter on fire.

Unfortunately, she’s also gotten attention for her pulled back, straight mane. Shame on you curlies out there giving her flack! Tsk tsk! Maybe now you’ll relax and respect the energy and focus Gabby paid to her craft and not to aesthetics. While I love a fierce fro like the next one, let’s give the girl a break and applaud her. And if you can’t, I want to see your tumble pass! Uh, huh.

Jasmine Breinburg – The opening ceremony of this year’s games included a surreal segment directed by Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, and Trainspotting fame. While cute little kids pretended to sleep on beds and danced in the street, my eyes were glued on a love story portrayed by Jasmine Breinburg, an 18-year old dancer and rising star. Breinburg was selected to play the lead role, and I’m sure her curly mane had at least a smidgen of influence. Apparently the Brits went batty for her stunning beauty and hair the moment the ceremony aired, as Twitter went ablaze with comments about Breinburg. Click here to read more about Jasmine Breinburg from the Daily Mail.

Former gymnast Dominique Dawes gives a talk in London. Photo Credit: David Mercer/USAT

Dominique Dawes – During tonight’s gymnastics coverage, the camera zoomed in on Dominique … and her natural hair (see video below)!

“I advise black women to go natural and stop relaxing your children’s hair, too,” Dawes says. “At 35 years old I finally embraced my natural locks. It was liberating and empowering for me. I wish I would have done it sooner.”

Dawes was a member of the 1996 U.S. National Women’s Team aka The “Magnificent Seven,” the team that famously included Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller, and proud coach Bela Karolyi. Dominique competed in three Olympic games, winning team medals in all of them and one bronze. She is the first female African-American gymnast to win an individual medal. No one could kill it on the floor like Dominique! Tonight, she proudly watched from the stands as Gabby Douglas back flipped and split her way to gold.

Check out Dominique’s interview (and her natural hair) as she emotionally discusses Gabby’s win. I dare you to keep a dry eye! So proud of them!!

 

Below: Former U.S. Gymnast Dominique Dawes discusses Gabby Douglas’ Olympic performance and shares life lessons.

Below: Dancer and opening ceremony star Jasmine Breinburg is briefly interviewed.

Oprah Let’s Her “Real Hair” Down

It’s the news that has done laps across the globe, leaving hurrr everywhere standing on end–Oprah is revealing her natural hair in the September issue of O magazine! Oprah's real hair on O cover

Love, love Oprah (and miss her talk show), so I am not jumping on the hair-hating bandwagon. How can you ridicule “The Big O” when she has come so far in her life and inspired so many? Nope, sir. Not I.

I am curious as to how she typically styles her curly mane and hope that she shares her secrets (visualizes pinning down Oprah’s stylist Andre Walker, with a blow dryer in hand). I’m referring to her actual routine … and not the ones the editors creatively drafted for her. I want to know every plait and potion that she uses. I want to know every twist and finger twirl. I want to know every … what’s that? I’m not an Oprah nut … no, really, I’m not (hums silently to self).

I’m just happy that she is supporting #teamnatural by showing comfort in her skin, as she has done in years past. Now, of course, other celebs are stepping up and revealing that they too have natural hair. Sigh. I just hope that this isn’t going to be viewed as another trend of the week and instead as a way to educate the public about natural hair.

The next issue of O hits newsstands on August 7. In the meanwhile, what are your thoughts of the cover photo, featuring Oprah’s hair?

Snoop … Lion And The JA/Marley Effect

Open your eyes; look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” ~ Bob Marley

Snoop Dogg becomes Snoop Lion

Snoop Dogg embraces Rastafarians, becomes Snoop Lion.

When you say Snoop Dogg, most people conjure up images of smoke … (we’ll keep it PC for the kids!), “Dropping It Like It’s Hot,” or if you’re like me, his shiny natural hair. So, you can imagine my surprise upon hearing that our “old G” has been reborn as “Snoop Lion.” Yes … Snoop … Lion, as in the Rastafarian reference to the Lion of Judah.

During a 35-day retreat in Jamaica, Snoop fell in love with the island (Can you blame him? ;) )  and Rastafari. He visited a rasta temple where he was given the Ethiopian name Berhane, meaning “light of the world.” Moved by his experience and “tired of hip hop,” Snoop believes that he is “Bob Marley reincarnated.”

Pauses. Scratches head. Bob Marley reincarnated??!!

Apparently the Marleys agree, as Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, gave Snoop his blessing. Snoop (eh, em) Lion will chronicle his spiritual development and experience in an upcoming reggae album called Reincarnated.

“Reggae was calling … it’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. “Rap isn’t challenging; it’s not appealing.” Snoop went on to name legendary reggae artists Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff as other influencers.

I’m happy to have JA on the map and, most importantly, in a positive light. I just hope that this isn’t another gimmick or Hollywood ploy to cash in on my bredren!

I understand that the island can inspire you. Snoop isn’t alone. James Bond creator and author, Ian Fleming, used his Jamaican retreat, Goldeneye, as a backdrop in his novels.

And the music–majestic. I may be totally biased, but have you seen how people act in a club once the music switches to reggae? LOL. Blame it on the drums and bass.

Bob Marley’s quote on life

Given the greatness that is Bob, the beauty of finding spirituality, and the Cali-coolness of Snoop, I’ll give this one a pass … for now. I just wonder if this is the end of Snoop’s curly mane or if he will lock it up in dreads and stuff them into his tam the way a true rasta man does.

Him a turn dread fi fashion, a fi dem, a fi we? ;)

Only time will tell. For now, let’s congratulate Snoop on his turn in life and apparent newfound relationship with Jah. Let’s also remember a few lessons from Bob, a man who remained true to himself and his beliefs, regardless of however controversial and rejected they may have been. From Paul McCartney to the Fugees and No Doubt, Bob continues to leave his mark 31 years after his death! Let’s do the same. Live a life worth living and shape generations to come.

Click here to read more about Snoop Dogg’s transformation to Snoop Lion.

In case you’ve been deprived (say it isn’t so!) or just want to celebrate all that is Bob, don’t forget to catch his “Rock Doc” (and locks) on VH1 this Sunday!
UPDATED: The documentary premieres on Saturday, 8-4-12!

One Love.

 

 

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