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Nay

I’ve been a naturally curly girl all my life and enjoy sharing and exchanging hair knowledge. I’m also a writer, artist, marketer, instructor, and all-around free-spirited gal!

Natural Hair Dolls – Just Like You?

Once upon a time, when I was a littler girl, I dreamed of looking like a doll. Better yet, I wished that my dolls looked like me, so I could enter the land of make believe and live vicariously through them. However, given the doll options during that time, chances were sliiiimm.

Nowadays, young ladies (and some of us girls who remain Toys “R” Us kids,) can actually have their dreams brought to reality! There are a couple of fashion dolls out there that are done up with natural hair! These dollies have real-like curls and waves and look just like us! … or better yet, what some of us “Barbie girls” hope we’ll look like when we grow up ;)

In case you’re seeking a great present for some lucky, young girl (yourself included!), here’s the breakdown on a few, hot natural hair dolls on the market:

Barbie Girl With Curls

In 2011, fashion designer Byron Lars created a line of edgy and stylish dolls for Barbie Collector. These dolls killed it with their clothes (Lars doesn’t get enough fashion cred), and particularly, with their hair. From TWAs to afro puffs, these dolls must be seen to be believed. Many are sold out, but I want them all! I still get giddy when walking down the Barbie aisle in toy stores. If these dolls were on the shelf, it would be dangerous!

Most, if not all the Barbies in this line, are sold out. Sigh. However, you can still check them out online. I posted the image above of Byron Lars’ Sugar Barbie® doll. Yep, stunning. It’s just one out of many natural-haired catwalk queens in the collection. Check out the other dolls.

Custom Curls

If you’re seeking a wider variety of Barbie-esk, natural-haired dolls, then Karen Byrd has got you covered with Natural Girls United! Byrd has cleverly created a line of custom ethnic dolls with locks, twists, and huge ‘fros. You’ll be impressed by the variety of styles and colors in both hair and skin tone. These dolls are also quite stylish.

Of course, it came as no surprise that Byrd has a long wait list for her dolls. Tempted to jot down my own name! Oh, and in case you missed it, check out the Ken-like dolls with dreads. Really cool and cute! See all the options from Karen Byrd’s Natural Girls United!

Karen Byrd Natural Hair Dolls

DIY Method

Still haven’t found the doll of your dreams? Funds are a bit tight? No need to fear. There are DIY methods to give any doll naturally curly hair. Thank heavens for you crafty folks out there!

Kristl, the blogger behind How To Play With Barbies, has created step-by-step instructions on how to make what she calls a “rotini or halo hair.” It’s a genius method that allows you to really get experimental making over doll’s hair from straight to curly. The final result is seen below. Yes, that doll had straight hair the morning before–ha!

Discover how you can remix a doll’s hair at How To Play With Barbies or read the post Kristl wrote for Beads, Braid, & Beyond (super cute blog).

Custom Rotini from Playbarbies.wordpress

Getting Wiggy With It

Now, if you ODed your doll’s makeover, or you had a dolly hair cut go wrong, there’s hope for you. Just like in real life … your doll can sport a natural hair wig! Yes, you heard right. There are wigs for Barbies, courtesy of Tabloach at Etsy. Take a moment to let that process.

I think it’s both a clever yet funny idea. Why not? I have at least two old Barbies that were locked away because of some causality I caused to their hair. If only these wigs were available then. Check out the before and after image, and you be the judge. Smart!

Tabloach Custom Black Barbie Wigs from Etsy

Social commentaries and concerns about Barbies aside, these dolls are helping to diversify the dolls that are out there. What do you think about these natural-haired dolls? Giving you life?

Forecasting 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Photo courtesy of christmasstockimages.com

Hey Curlies! After a waaaaayyyy too long hiatus, My Curly Mane is back! Yes, just in time for the New Year. I want to start 2014 on a good foot by updating this blog more frequently and bringing you more of what you love. Soooo sorry to keep you hanging!

What Had Happened Was …

Now what exactly happened, you ask? Well, (takes a deep breath; raises right hand; and promises to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth) I had to focus more on the ever-moving pieces in my life. I hate to make excuses, but a few new projects came my way, which required my full attention. I found myself having minimal time and energy to write, although I had tons of new hair products to review and ideas brewing in the brain. By the time I knew it, months blew by, and we’re now bumping up against a new year. Bad news bears.

BTW–I don’t know how I forgot to mention this when I first uploaded this post. I was sick for nearly a month! I had the flu, which wiped me out for two weeks. I’m still battling a lingering and annoying cough. Hate being sick! That was definitely a time suck.

I apologize again for being MIA! The good news? As I mentioned, I’ve got new news coming your way in 2014, so stay tuned (yes, again)! This is my New Year’s resolution for you.

Looking Back

As for my curly mane, my natural hair goal remains the same–to have waist-length tresses. So far, I’m in good shape, although I have been sporting straightened locks these last few months. Gasp, ya say! Well, that’s what happens when you’re not around to pull me away from my straightening addiction. :( I must admit that I have had some control in the process. I only used minimal heat on my hair and even deep treated it a few times following this style. I found myself experimenting with the traditional comb-chase method of straightening, a departure from my usual straightening technique with a Sonicglide. More on this as well as my length check in an upcoming post.

Looking back on 2013, we missed a very, very important milestone … My Curly Mane turned one year old!!! Yes, it’s been a little over a year since our baby made its debut. Thank you for your support!! I’m so happy that you are reading this blog and hope that it has helped you to make strides in your hair journey. This keeps me motivated. I kept my promise for 2013 and spruced up the look of this blog. Now, I promise to keep the tips and other bits flowing for 2014. More on the belated celebratory affairs soon!

What We Learned

Natural hair wash and go My Curly Mane

My Curly Mane as seen this month. Making progress! Coming soon: Details on my wash ‘n go look with As I Am Smoothing Gel.

We learned so many lessons this year. Last winter, we learned how to winter proof our poof, a tip I urge you to use again this season. This includes sporting satin-lined hats (still sporting the one I got from Etsy last year–love!), conducting regular scalp massages, and loading up on leave-in conditioner.

In fact, we put two of my beloved leave-in conditioners to the test in another epic product battle and discovered just how important these products are in improving our hair’s condition. Stylistically, we discovered that we absolutely love ballerina buns (no, not because of those incessant Hot Buns commercials). While personally/spiritually, we promised to ignore “Negative Nancies.” Stay far, far away from them in 2014!

You & Me in 2014

This upcoming year is ours! Let’s go in roaring like a lion. Together, let’s work on achieving the next step in our hair goal, while being an even better version of ourselves. We’re proudly rocking our curly manes, going big or going home, and sticking our fingers in our ears to shut out all naysayers and soul suckers. This is our plan, in case you missed the memo. ;)

Before you dive into the New Year, don’t forget to snag my new eBook. Please subscribe to get your free copy of this guide! Hopefully, it will serve as a blueprint throughout your journey.

Kick-off Style

I plan to have a low-key celebration with my BF and friends to ring in 2014, so the look of the day will be simple and naturally free flowing curls as seen in the image above. How are you styling your hair?? Don’t know? Check out the creative looks below from a few ladies that I think got it right. Let me know if you decide to do the same. I wish you many blessings for the New Year!!

Side Puff,  Heatless Hair Style (try subbing the ribbon for a little bling … or a blingy ribbon!)

Glittery Smokey Eye Tutorial & DIY Short Marley Twists (Skip to 3:28 for the hair tutorial)

 

In Case You Missed It: Oprah’s Afro Wig & Hair Talk

O Magazine Sept 2013

O Magazine, September 2013

While I was MIA (see newest post on Forecasting 2014), there have been a lot of natural hair news going around … as usual! In case you missed the September 2013 issue of O Magazine, sit back, relax, and let me catch you up. The Big O (love calling her that) treated us to her “Hair Extravagaaaanza!” Okay, so I added the extra flair with the pronunciation, but Oprah really did make a splash with this issue.

The orange-hued cover set the tone for the magazine’s circus-themed feature. Oprah, looking subliminally feline, is decked out in an orange dress topped off by the biggest, most majestic mane I’ve ever laid eyes on. Her afro took up the bulk of the cover. Did you see it? Trust me. It was hard to miss. Check out the images torn from my copy.

Within the covers, Oprah explains that she was wearing a 3.5 pound afro wig she’s named “Wild Thang.” Fun! Kudos to Gayle King who likened the faux natural look to The Lion King. LOL!

Oprah Hair O Mag Sept 2013.jpeg

On left, Oprah werks her “Wild Thang.” On right, she proudly shows off her real hair.

The Queen of All Media also confessed to wearing wigs while taping her renowned talk show in order to give her hair a break. Yep, you can’t blame her for wanting to protect her tresses. Back in the day (yes, I took it there), supermodel Gail O’Neill had the most drool-worthy natural hair that I ever saw. As time progressed and her career took off, I noticed that her enviously long locks started to lose its luster and length. I’m assuming here that the ever changing fashion and beauty game just wasn’t kind to Gale’s hair. I’m sure Oprah experienced similar issues.

While “Wild Thang” was spotlighted on the cover, Oprah’s real hair was once again revealed in the back of the magazine. Her self-described “untouched-by-any-hands-other-than-my-own real hair” is set loose. The appearance is similar to a blown out ’fro. Although Oprah says it’s au naturel, her longtime hairstylist Andre Walker explains that “she has very little relaxer in her hair now, so we’ve been exploring her natural texture, twisting or braiding then setting it free!” Cue the debate on whether or not a mild relaxer constitutes natural hair. I say … nay, but to each their own!

O Magazine Sept 2013 Natural Hair

Interesting tidbit: O Magazine mentions that the sales of relaxers have plummeted to almost 40 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to market research firm, Mintel. The firm predicts a full drop of 50 percent by 2017.

Nevertheless, I love the artistic layout of this issue, which committed to the circus motif. O Magazine was spot-on in recommending Hello Hydration Conditioner for thick and coarse hair. The writer(s) also provided similar tips that us hair bloggers have been preaching day in and out, such as finding a great gel and conditioning often. Makes me wonder if O’s research department has been visiting the blogosphere. Hmmm.

I wish they could have mentioned other styling options like puddings, but I’m sure the breakdown would be too dense. After all, the magazine was highlighting a diverse array of hair types, with only a few pages dedicate to natural hair. Plus, that’s why you come here, so I can break it all down for ya!

Overall, the September O Magazine was worth the read, including the article on how Oprah prepped for her role in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Missed it? Check out my images, visit O Magazine’s website, or head over to your local library (remember those? Sigh.) for a copy. Sound off below!

Holy Humectants, Batman!

natural curly hair_hand in afro

Love these curls!

You probably have noticed that I’ve been doing some research on the science behind our natural hair.

You say: Luuuuccy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do!

I say (throws hands in the air): But Riiiicky, let me explain!

In case that all went over your head, you gotta catch at least one episode of I Love Lucy–throwback!

Back to my point. I basically wanted to nail down and discuss (in an easily digestible way) some of the key items that affect our hair. This includes all the things that I skipped learning about while I was also learning to embrace my natural hair … for the second time!

Yes, you got that right. A few years ago, I decided to embrace my curly hair (during round two, following straightening addiction), but I overlooked some important elements becaaaause … weeeelllll … there was all this talk about all sorts of scientificy stuff. Ain’t nobody got time for that (folds hands at chest)! Well, at least that’s what I initially thought until I realized that it was taking forrrreeevvvver for my hair to grow! I decided that it couldn’t hurt to do some hair homework.

Between that time and now, I’ve gathered some information, which has been included in my new free, e-book (shameless plug). One of those topics that you need to know about is discussed below–humectants. In case you’re not quite sure how these suckers work, I’ve broken it down for you below. Have no fear, Super Nay is here! ;) Read more after the jump.

illustrated natural hair art

Super Nay (the heroine in my head, ha!). Art by Nay, inspired by Wonder Woman.

What Are Humectants?

Humectants are ingredients and/or products that promote moisture retention. I won’t delve too deeply into compounds and molecules. Just know that these items have a chemical structure that attracts water from the atmosphere and binds it to the molecule. In other words, humectants are attracted to moisture, whether it is in your hair or in the atmosphere, but they work best in moderate climates.

What’s The Impact of High Humidity?

When it is highly humid outside, there is a large amount of water vapor in the air. Dry and damaged hair that is free of products aka porous, thirsty tresses (read more about porosity for detailed information) will naturally seek to absorb the moisture in the air. However, taking in such a large amount of moisture will make your hair full … to the point of swelling and lifting the cuticle layer (the outer layer of hair). This will create frizzy and tangled hair.

Now, if you have a humectant in your thirsty tresses, this will only exasperate the problem. Your hair will become soggy, sticky, and poofy all at once! Recalling a few instances?

What’s The Impact of Low Humidity?

When the humidity is minimal, as seen on most dry, winter days, there isn’t a lot of moisture in the air. If your hair is styled with a product that contains humectants, these items will either:

  1. Hang onto the moisture in your hair and prevent it from evaporating. This may or may not prove to be successful. Your best bet is to stick with moisturizing products, like leave-in conditioners.
  2. Remove moisture from your hair’s cortex and send it into the air. Remember that thing about attraction? Your hair will do this because it so kindly believes that the air needs the moisture, of course. Unfortunately, this will also dry out your hair.

What Are Some Examples of Humectants?

Before you use any product, you should read the ingredients to see whether or not humectants are included. This will help you to better prep your hair for the current humidity levels. In other words, you’ll say “aha!” whenever your hair decides to rise up and become a frizzilicious ball on your head.

Just so you have a heads up, here are a few popular humectants found in hair care products:

  • Agave Nectar
  • Aloe Vera Gel
  • Fructose
  • Glycerin
  • Honey
  • Hydrolyzed silk protein
  • Panthenol

Now that you’ve got it down, are you ready to take on humidity with humectants? Wham! Bang! Zing!

The Perpetual Protective Pony: A Sleepy Summer Style

The best protection any woman can have… is courage.” ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton

natural hair ponytail

My curly mane in a perpetual ponytail!

For the past few months, I have been basking in the yummy warmth that summer presents. You could easily find me stretched out (in a quiet, bug free zone!), with my arms and legs extended wide. When my eyes are closed, a simple smile spreads across my face in the utter delight that the good Lord has given me light … literally!

I lay there lingering while the sun’s rays penetrate my bones. I feel my toes, legs, arms, and face grow warm. I freely surrender to the sun, and listen closely to the sound of my body inhaling and exhaling.

I thank God, the father, son, holy spirit, Allah, universe, and all for the summer and these utter sweet moments. To put it simply, I. Love. Summer.

However, somewhere in all that basking and sun worshiping, I lost my mojo! Yes, I went through a hair funk from May through June. I just couldn’t lift a finger to do another twist, rake and smooth another product through my hair, or experiment with more than a handful of products. Sorry,  I know I slow rolled and let you down (hangs head in shame). You see, I just went through an easy, breezy period where I was beyond wash and go’s. I wanted to pull it back into a pony, braid the length, smooth the hairline with gel, and go-go-gadget! Aaaand that’s just what I did.

When I initially made the switch, I had a lot of people taking double takes. My own mother even asked (somewhat sadly), “Where’d all the hair go?” Now if you’re familiar with natural hair, you’ll know that it shrinks and reduces volume in its curly state. That’s what happened to me. When I turned around, I revealed my braid … and relieved my mother’s worries.

While snatching and gelling my hair into a pony, it encouraged me to explore the wonderful world of makeup, since the focus was already on me serving face. I enjoyed it, but I have to admit, come July, I wanted my curls back. I returned to wash and go’s, and recently, I’ve been sporting braid-outs.

I really do believe that the time I spent wearing my hair in a ponytail really helped my hair, namely because it is a protective style. It kept my hair and ends protected since they were neatly tucked into a braid and secured from friction and tugging. By the time I was ready to release the kraken, my curly mane was all sorts of popping and curling thanks to aloe vera gel (AVG).

To recap, here’s a quick and dirty breakdown of my summer routine, thus far. Oh, and by the way … drum roll! I think I may have reached waist length! Okay, okay, a few strands are hitting my waist, but the majority is at under boob length. I know you can’t tell by these pics. Ah, natural hair! When the weather cools, I’ll straighten it and share my length check to give you an accurate account. Here’s my routine so far:

  • May and June = braided ponytail with As I Am leave-in conditioner and hair slicked down with aloe vera gel
  • July = wash and go with aloe vera gel (I gave Eco Styler Gel a pause since AVG was working so well with As I Am)
  • August = braid-outs with As I Am’s Twist Defining Cream. Review to come!
natural hair ponytail

Ponytail protective styling with aloe vera gel

Have you been feeling experimental this summer, or have you simplified your routine? Caught in a rut? Spill the beans below!

 

Hair Porosity … What & Why??

color on curly natural hair

Now, I’ve been praising the miracles of moisturizing natural hair with leave-in conditioners and sealing the cuticle layer (the outermost layer of hair) with an oil or butter. Now, I’m throwing a monkey wrench into the mix. Uh, huh. This one must be explained since it affects us all: porosity.

Huh? Confused? I don’t blame ya! I heard sprinkles of information about porosity for a while now but usually covered my ears and clicked next on my screen. I thought it all sounded too scientific for me.

Guess what? I caved (hangs head down) because I found out that we actually need to know this one. Grab a pencil and pad … er, um … an iPad? Let me give you a quick and painless explanation of porosity and its affect on natural hair.

Porosity

Porosity is the measurement of your hair’s ability to absorb moisture. Simple. Your hair’s cuticle layer (the outermost layer) is key to porosity levels. When the cuticle is closed, it lays flat and moisture cannot escape or enter the hair shaft. This often results in moisture being sealed into your hair. However, your natural hair may be too porous, not enough, or juuuust right. Hang in there Goldilocks, let me explain.

Normal Porosity

This one’s easy. Natural, black hair easily retains moisture if your porosity is normal. The cuticle layer will open or close based on normal activities and products, but the actual, shingled layer is healthy and intact.

Low Porosity

If your hair has low porosity, it will have trouble opening up due to its overly compact cuticle layer. With this firm barrier, your hair will have difficulty absorbing moisture/water and allowing it to escape. As a result, hair will take longer to absorb products, leaving it dry. It will also be susceptible to product build up.

Needs: A lot of moisture. To open up the cuticle, try steamers, hot oil treatments, and products that are a little more alkaline/have a higher pH level. Add moisture to your hair while it’s damp, before the cuticle layer closes up again.

Need to avoid: Products and techniques that further seal the cuticle, including protein treatments, silicones, and mineral oil.

High Porosity

If your hair has high porosity, it’s a little too friendly, as the cuticle layer remains too open! It will let moisture in and out of your hair very easily, resulting in dry hair.  If your hair is very porous, this is often the result of damaged cuticles through excessive direct heat or rough styling. There is no way to repair damaged hair. However, there are a couple of things that can help.

Needs: Oils, butters, apple cider vinegar rinses, cold water rinses, and protein treatments to seal the cuticle layer. Each will temporarily fill in breaks within the cuticle. Products with low pH level (like aloe vera juice) also help.

Needs to avoid: sulfates, direct heat, and harsh chemicals.

How can you determine your hair’s porosity? Try the porosity/float test.

Porosity Test

Grab a strand(s) of hair from your comb or brush and drop it into a cup of water.

  • If your hair floats, you have low porosity. The strand(s) stay at the top since it has difficulty absorbing moisture.
  • If your hair quickly sinks, you have high porosity. It is taking in water fast!
  • If your hair hovers somewhere in the middle, it has normal porosity.

There have been mixed feelings by curlies who have taken this test. Some say that hair has oil on it, so your strand will most likely float. Others have found this to reflect how their hair actually behaves. Junk science?? Hmmm. It couldn’t hurt to try the test or any of these remedies and see.

By the way, I tried the test and my hair floated (see image below), so I apparently have low porosity as well … Hmmm. I’ll keep this in mind as I continue on my hair journey. You should as well. You never know if these remedies will be beneficial to you.

Have you taken the porosity test? Has this helped you with your hair routine and health?

Porosity Test

My Curly Mane underwent the Porosity/Float Test. Photo by Nay.

Products, PH Levels, & Your Natural Hair

A wise woman recognizes when her life is out of balance and summons the courage to act to correct it; she knows the meaning of true generosity. Happiness is the reward for a life lived in harmony, with courage and grace.” ~ Suze Orman

balance-girl new_final

My Curly Mane attempts to balance its pH level. Art by Nay.

Let me guess. You just read this title and are now thinking: Here you go again with more scientificy stuff! Calm down. I’m not trapped here in a lab … (quickly takes off white coat and quietly places beakers in the cabinet). Just think of it as me giving you quick lessons for the week. Sit back and relax. Ready for this one? It’s all about natural hair’s pH balance.

First let’s revisit our hair’s structure. As you may already know, the cuticle layer is the outermost, shingle-like layer of hair made of keratin. It protects the cortex aka your hair’s inner layer that provides strength, texture, and color. It also surrounds the medulla, the innermost layer of the hair that is present in coarse hair textures. When closed, the cuticle seals moisture into hair, as it should.

According to Dr. Neil Persadsingh of The Hair in Black Women, “Soft and shiny hair depends on a smooth and even overlap of the scales on the cuticle.”

The Potential of Hydrogen (pH) in the products you use can affect whether or not your cuticle layer is properly sealed.

PH Strip

A typical pH strip

 

Alkaline Products

You can open the cuticle of your natural hair through heat or by using alkaline products (pH of 8-14). Note: Highly alkaline products open the cuticle too far open, which will make moisture leave your hair and cause breakage.

Acidic Products

You can close your tresses’ cuticle layer through acidic products (pH of 8-14). These products will leave your hair soft and flexible for a longer period of time. Note: Products that are too acidic can also damage hair.

Ideally

Products that are pH balanced have a pH of 7. However, you want to close the cuticle by using slightly acidic products (pH of 4.5-5.5) on hair.  Acidic products are similar to hair’s natural moisturize, sebum. Aloe vera juice (pH of 4) or aloe vera gel (pH of 7) works wonders since they can balance hair’s pH.

Got it down? It is a bit tricky to wrap your head around. To help, try testing the pH levels of a few of your products. You can purchase pH strips from your local beauty supply store. Before doing so, you’ll need to determine your hair’s porosity, since this also needs to be taken into consideration.

Now, I’ve made a mental note to pick up a pH strip during my next hair haul. I’ll keep you posted on how this works as I test it out on a few natural hair care products.

Five Ways To Naturally Color Natural Hair


natural hair bamboo wall

Have you noticed all the ombré hairstyles and other trendy color effects that ladies have been sporting? Well, it goes without saying that summer is the perfect time to experiment with these and other colorful looks. If you’re like me, you love, love color but want to avoid all the drawbacks of commercial hair dyes.

What drawbacks, you ask? While the leading commercial hair dye companies provide a variety of color options, hair colorants can change hair’s inner structure and dry it out, especially if bleaching is involved. Frequent coloring can lead to damage (say bye bye!) and/or split ends (snip, snip!). Of course, you can always skip the bleach if you are seeking darker shades.

Even if you do, rumor has it that hair dyes may be connected to cancer causing agents. According to the National Cancer Institute, early hair dye formulations (before 1980) contained cancer causing chemicals. They have since been removed from most brands’ ingredients. However, few studies have been published since then on hair dyes’ link to certain cancers.

Not to mention, pregnant women are advised to avoid coloring since small amounts of the dye penetrate the skin upon use. This may or may not harm a developing baby, although research claims that it does not pose a significant threat.

Risky? Hmmmm maybe.

If you want to switch up your look sans chemicals, you’re in luck. I’ve got five ways that you change your natural hair color by dyeing it … naturally!

1. Cassia

Cassia Obovata is a plant that contains a golden-yellow dye molecule. When used, color is safely deposited on hair’s surface layer as it conditions hair.

I’ve always wanted to try this one. I’m adding it to my to-try list!

Pros: Cassia will permanently turn blond or gray hair a golden color. It also makes hair shiny, healthy, and strong, so it is often used as a conditioning treatment for afro textured hair.

Cons (maybe): You most likely will not notice a difference on darker hair tones. Some people have experienced a loosening effect on their curls, which may or may not be desired.

Directions: You can mix cassia with conditioner and honey, and apply this mix to your hair. For all the deets, visit hennaforhair.com.

2. Coffee

A mean brew works wonders for all-nighters … and for hair! Coffee is great for staining natural hair. It applies color on the surface level of strands, so the results tend to be temporary for most people.

(whips out pen; adds coffee to the list)

Pros: Coffee gives dark hair reddish-brown highlights, more akin to a rinse. Some people have found that coffee darkens their henna results (see below) when added to their mix.

Cons: It won’t provide intense color. The results may be subtle on darker colored hair. It requires repeated weekly applications for best results.

Directions: Mix 1/2 cup of your favorite conditioner with 1/4 cup of instant coffee granules. Add 1/4 cup of coffee or espresso into the mix and stir. Apply the mixture and cover your hair with a cap. Let the mix sit on your hair for an hour. Rinse with cool water and condition to counteract coffee’s acidity.

3. Henna

Henna, a natural colorant which is derived from a flowering plant, has been used throughout centuries for dying skin and hair. It is used by many African-American women with natural hair since it can strengthen our fragile hair type. It is also safer than commercial hair dyes, since color is deposited on hair’s surface layer as opposed to the cortex. Henna’s popularity is evident by the numerous natural hair care forums, communities, and Websites centered on the topic.

Why, oh, why did I not know about henna back in my multi hair coloring days??

Pros: This natural colorant typically turns hair a shade of red, depending on the person’s original hair color. It also adds sheen to hair and can reduce frizz and dandruff.

Cons (maybe): Henna can loosen curl patterns and thicken natural hair, and the color results can be unpredictable. The application process can be a bit intense, since henna must be left on hair for several hours in order to permeate the hair shaft. It can also easily stain materials during the application process.

Directions: This can vary. Lots of curlies have come up with their own formulations. Curly Nikki is a fan of henna and has gotten great results. You can also find tips at hennaforhair.com.

4. Honey

Not only does honey work wonders for colds, but it also conditions and bleaches hair naturally. Honey slowly releases hydrogen peroxide, which is used to lighten hair. With honey, you’ll get results that are a shade lighter than your original color. Raw (unprocessed) honey is reported to work best since it has more hydrogen peroxide. Honey is also a humectant, so it pulls moisture into hair.

I have tried this one, and it did make my hair very soft! Color? I only tried in on occasion, not enough to see a difference.

Pros: Natural highlights and soft, shiny hair.

Cons: Honey lightens hair over time. Multiple applications (at least three) are needed to produce results. It is very sticky if used alone, so a mix is recommended.

Directions: Mix 5 tbsp of honey and 1 cup of yogurt together to make a non-sticky paste. This combo also makes a wicked deep conditioner, especially if combined with oil. Apply the paste and leave it on your hair for at least 2 hours.

5. Lemon Juice

Ever tried Sun-in back in the day? I did, and it worked, mostly because it contains lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide. If you want to skip all the additional chemicals, just try this route. Lemon juice will gradually lighten your natural hair due to the citric acid it contains.

Pros: Lemon juice brings out natural highlights, causing black and dark brown hair to take on a reddish hue. Brown hair will become light brown, and blonds will have golden highlights.

Cons: Lemon juice’s acidic properties can make it drying. Condition, condition, condition!

Directions: Combine 3 tbsp. lemon juice with 2 cups water. Add conditioner for extra moisture. Use a spray bottle or hands to apply the mix. You’ll need heat to activate it. Sit in the sun for 2 hours or under a hard hat dryer.

Any of these natural hair dyes can change your hair’s color, and some of these ingredients can even be found easily in your kitchen. Most importantly, you’ll be able to update your look without ruining your curly mane.

Sonicglide Part 4: Straightening Your Natural Hair

The final video in the four-part Sonicglide series is here! Phew! Thank you for your patience. In this video, I show you the steps you can take to straighten your natural hair with this professional flat iron.

The Maxius Sonicglide is almost exactly the same as Maxius’ Maxiglide hair straightener. Like the Maxiglide, the Sonicglide uses steam to hydrate and straighten hair. Yes, just like ironing the wrinkles out of your clothes. Watch Part 2 in this series for details on how these two flat irons for natural hair stack up against each other.

In this video, I show how this flat iron works similar to the chase method in which a fine tooth comb is chased by a regular flat iron. I may have missed mentioning some additional tips, so I’ve listed them all below. They are:

  1. *Comb out each section of hair before straightening it –before step 3 in the video. I skipped showing this part, since I wanted to focus more on using the iron for straightening, but I realize it’s important for you to know this. I don’t want you to rip the straightener through tangled, knotty hair! Please remember to comb out each section first before steaming out the “wrinkles.”
    If you get a knot while gliding, pause, detangle your hair, then continue gliding.
  2. Steam the length of your hair with the Sonicglide before gliding/straightening your hair without steam.
  3. Glide (not tug) the iron straight through your hair on the first pass–without bending or flipping it. Do not clamp down too hard on the iron. The whole idea is to literally glide it through your hair, hence the name. ;)
  4. Adjust the heat to fit your hair texture. Don’t cook your tresses!
  5. Use steam and clamp and unclamp the iron to aid in curling ends. I recommend turning down the temperature of the straightener while adding curls and flips.
  6. Roll hair in satin lined rollers overnight to create curls and waves that lasts for days.
    *You’ll get great results if you roll each section right after you use the Sonicglide to straighten and bump the ends.

Sonicglide

In part 3 of this series, I prepped my hair for safe straightening by doing a braid-out. You can do the same, although some naturals prefer to blow dry their hair first. This is my least favorite method, as I don’t think my hair is as shiny and bouncy as it is with a braid-out. Also, this adds unnecessary direct heat to hair. As an alternative, you can prep your hair by doing a roller-set, which produces the best results.

In case you missed it, check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this series. You’ll discover how I stumbled across this straightener while I was originally in pursuit of the Maxiglide. No, I am not paid by the company to endorse this product. Just passing the good news along.

If you can’t view this video, watch it on My Curly Mane’s YouTube channel. Got questions? Just let me know below.

CurlSpotting: On The Tube, June 2013

Pam Grier on lg-tv

Actress Pam Grier circa 1970s

More and more, all types of curlies are popping up everywhere on the television screen. Each time I spot an awesome chica with natural hair, it makes me want to break into a happy dance. For those of us who are a little longer in the tooth, there was a day, once upon a time, when you’d be hard pressed to see a lady on TV with natural hair. I’m not talking about the good ol’ 70s when actresses like Pam Grier and Cicely Tyson were holding it down with their braids and afros … pause. Please tell me that you’re familiar with both ladies. If not, I banish thee to Google, now!

Anyhoo, we’re at another turning point, which will hopefully last beyond generational trends and politics. It’s difficult to forecast since anything is possible. For now, let’s optimistically hope that this popularity in pop culture is the new normal (crosses fingers).

The first sighting I caught in June is one that I’m sure you’ve already seen. Old Navy gave Boys II Men some props by featuring the boy band (are they too mature for such a title?) in a commercial, titled “In-Flight Entertainment.” In the spot, the Boys treat us to their classic hit, “I’ll Make Love To You” while seemingly aboard an airplane.

The skit continues with ladies in white Old Navy pants strutting down the aisle, including … you guessed it—a naturally curly girl. Not only does our natural haired gal model, but she also has a speaking part during which she gushes about her pants. You’ll notice that her hair looks as if it’s styled in a braid-out. Upon closer analysis (consisting of pausing, rewinding, and playing the commercial at least five times), it looks as if the model’s texture is indeed natural. Thumbs up Old Navy!

Cheerios also got cool points for featuring an interracial couple and their beautiful biracial girl. While the young lady questions her mother about Cheerios, all I could look at was the pretty brown curls that perfectly framed her sweet face. Sadly, some viewers were too busy focusing on the couples pairing, and the commercial became controversial. For what??? Ah, people. C’mon! Watch and you be the judge … of her hair, please.

The Wendy Williams Show frequently attracts some of the most stylish ladies, particularly natural haired mavens. So, I wasn’t surprised when, on June 13, Wendy’s “eye candy of the day” happened to be a naturally curly girl. While she introduced herself (her name sounds like Hafeesa), all I could look at was her huuuge fro. It looked soooo majestic, and of course, it topped off her outfit.

In fact, Wendy commented by saying, ““I love your natural hair. It’s big and beautiful.” She also then made a point of noting to all of us viewers that it’s all hers. Yes, real and styled in a wash and go. Weeeerrrrk!

Wendy Williams Audience Member with Natural Hair

Wendy Williams stands next to her “eye candy of the day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you catch these or other curlies in June? Do tell below!

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