Posts filed under: ‘Hair‘




Natural Hair in the Workplace: Uh, Bloggers, Consultants, Marketers, Strategist and Artist…all in one!!

Finally!!! This is the next edition of my blog series Natural Hair in the Workplace. It’s been a while, but please understand, I’m in school. On my way to become a medical doctor and public health professional, baby!

I had the pleasure of interviewing two wonderful ladies: Antoinette Henry and Imade. One is music performer. One is a music enthusiast. Both are multi-talented and art-oriented, both have their own blogs, and work as consultants.   Wow. Talk about renaissance women. I also encourage you to check out their blogs: http://www.acurlsbf.com/ and http://imadeintruth.com/.

And do not be fooled by Imade’s lack of pics. Her hair is beautiful  and I touch it whenever I can and I generally do not even like dreadlocks, but hers are soooooo nice, thick, clean, healthy, and they never look thirsty.  (Moisturize peeps.)  Get excited.

So…On your mark, get ready, get set…Here we go!!!

Antoinette Henry

Name: Antoinette Henry

Education (Degress and Schools): BA in Theater Arts with a minor in Musical Theater from Marymount Manhattan College
What is the company/organization/agency for which you work? I am a performer and  natural hair blogger. My hustles at serving at Wynton Marsalas’s Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola and consulting for Philadelphia Freedom Schools.
Where are you located? Brooklyn New York
How long have you been natural? I have been natural for 9 beautiful years.
How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position? I pretty much always wear my hair natural. I, once in a blue moon, straighten it. I am very confident about my hair. I don’t even think twice about it for interviews. I figure if the company doesn’t want to work with me based off of my hair, I’m better off without them. I have gone to auditions where the casting director has asked me if I would straighten my hair and I always answer “Yes. But not permanently.” In cases where the time line, setting and feel of the show require my hair to look different, I don’t mind. As long as it is necessary and true to the story, it’s fine. But if I am doing a singing gig where there is no plot or story I wear my hair natural. I used to sing classical music and just about every performance, I made it my business to pick my hair out as big as I could. Because most people consider that genre classy, I wanted to make sure my natural hair and frizzy fro would be associated with it.
That is cool!!
Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? I have always worn my hair natural for interviews with jobs ranging from a jazz club server to a Logistical Coordinator and Site Coordinator of non profit organizations. I am pretty much successful and get the job when I interview. (Thank God)
Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? Always
If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise? I am constantly complimented on my hair. I also receive some stares. Actually, the other day a woman pulled me to the side at work to tell me how beautiful she thought my hair was. She even referenced an article in the New York Times about natural hair being fondled by strangers. We sparked up a 10 minute conversation that was extremely pleasant. I feel like the more we as women of color wear our hair natural the more people will be forced to accept it. But we as women have to get over that hump and accept our hair ourselves.
What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work? Oh honey, I go in. I wear it out, up, in flat twists, headwraps and I always adorn it with a big African print bow that I make myself. lol. I treat my hair like an accessory. Why not? Natural hair is fun.
What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place? A lot of places considered headwraps inappropriate but I don’t. It always depends on the package. I have gotten away with wearing my headscarf with a big bow on my head. But I had red lips and earrings on. Plus a little confidence will make anything work. If you’re hair hygiene is right and you are  comfortable and feeling beautiful it should be acceptable. Whenever I am in doubt I ask. Before I started to wear wraps and funky scarves I asked my boss what he thought. It allowed us to have some great dialogue and I as a result, was more comfortable experimenting with styles than I have ever been.
Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair? Well, because I have my own hair blog a lot of the women I work with end up asking about it and experimenting with their own hair. It makes me so happy to see some of them transitioning and beginning to cultivate their curls. One girl has a cute fade into a mohawk of curls, another has a cute pixie cut with coils and the other two wear their hair out most of the time. It makes my day.
Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization? No. It’s all good.
Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)? I would tell them to present themselves they way they are. Nothing will change as long we continue to change ourselves. If you sense any issue surrounding your hair confront the issue and have a conversation with whomever you need. Be sure that the issue isn’t actually your own. The bottom line that there is nothing wrong or unprofessional about natural hair. Rock your coil. You may be surprised with how you are received.
Name: Imade
 Where are you located?
Durham, NC
What is your position?
I was an Interactive Strategy Coordinator and then a Junior Account Planner at an advertising agency.  I  am now I’m a freelance music journalist http://imadeintruth.com/
How long have you been working there?

I’ve been in advertising for 2 years since I graduated college. I’m fairly new as a freelance music journalist.  I started this past spring and now I’m doing that full-time.

How long have you been natural?

I’ve been natural since high school.  I got a perm against my mother’s wishes in 6th grade because I got picked on a lot for having natural hair.  At the time, it was expected to have relaxed hair, as well as other European features, but I can write a novel about that! It’s obvious that African-Americans have been brainwashed from slavery to now that we are inferior to white people.  On a subconscious level, I believed it because I wanted to fit in with my “friends”.  By the
time I was in the 8th grade, my hair was so damaged that my sister told me that I need to go natural.  I transitioned as a freshman in high school and was picked on by guys because they thought I needed a perm.  At the time though, their opinion didin’t matter because all I wanted was healthy hair.  At the time, I was the only girl (that I can remember) in my school who had an afro.

 How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

Well, I remember my hair being really jacked up for my interview as an intern!  I was locking my hair at the time and going through a troublesome stage called teenage locs.  My locs was very fuzzy so I had a scarf on with my dress shirt and slacks.  The advertising agency has a very casual dress code, so that was comforting.  But on the flip side, the agency had very few individuals of color.  I was the only natural in an office of almost 200 people.

By the time I interviewed for a paying position, my locs were looking  a lot better.  I remember getting my locs re-twisted and styled for the interview.

For both interviews, it was all about my skills and passion for working in the advertising industry.  It wasn’t about my hair.  I work with very professional people and I’ve always appreciated that.

Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If
so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the
 interview?

Yes, since I’ve had my hair natural since a freshman in high school, I’ve always wore my hair natural (not pressed) for interviews.  I actually CANT STAND pressing my hair.  But I digress!  These interviews were for my positions in advertising as well as internships.

Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place?

Yes.  I wear my locs in different styles but I mostly wear it down.  I usually do my own locs.

If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

No, I haven’t.  There are co-workers who ask about my hair, and it gets quite funny sometimes.  People have thought my locs were braids. I’ve had someone recommend that I use beeswax while many loc-wearers consider beeswax like kryptonite for locs.  But most of the time, I get compliments on some of the loc styles I wear.

What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work? (Please send picture examples)

I’m a free spirit when it comes to my locs.  I like them to be free and a little messy.  I like the feeling of going against the status quo and embracing the totality of my hair.  I like braiding my locs the night before and wearing them crinkly to work.  I also like using rods to make my locs curly.

 What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?

Hmm, I’m not sure.  I never felt like my hair was ever inappropriate because I work in a very laid-back, casual atmosphere.  I think it’s fine as long as your hair is clean and not distracting to the point where it inhibits professionalism.

Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Yes, there was 1 other black woman who had natural hair.  GASP!! Even though we made a small group, we encouraged another co-worker who was considering going natural.  We were like a tag-team emotional support group.  It was great to affirm the natural beauty in her and each other.

Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working  for this company or organization?

No, not really.  I actually stopped regularly going to a stylist because I wanted to save money.  I wanted to experiment and explore my hair on my own.  Being in a non-corporate environment allowed me to do that.

Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

Accept who you are.  You should never have to apologize for being yourself.  We as African-Americans should demand respect, but you have to respect yourself first.  I was told by a past stylist that wearing natural, non-pressed hair in the workforce was not professional. Today, I laugh at that.  I’ve been in a job where deadlines and 12 hour days were the norm.  When you have a presentation the next day, no one is going to care about your hair.  It’s about the value you bring to your job.

Conclusion: Natural hair is the business. What more can I say? God does a beautiful job all the time. =) Lol. There is more to say that just that.  One thing that Imade and Antoinette have in common other than similarities their career paths, affinity for the performing arts, and having beautiful hair is that they both say that getting a great job is really not about your hair, although appearance is important.  These two ladies are good at what they do and that is what is most important.  So please, if you are applying for jobs ladies, focus on your qualifications and improving your résumé and less on the coils or lack of coils in your hair.  

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Add a comment August 28, 2011

Warning: Beware of natural hair products. Danger! Danger!!

Okay. I really, really need to discuss this important topic with you.  I have been waiting way too long for this. Natural hair products and natural hair product ingredients. Those words can be dangerous and I do not put quotations around them because there are some natural compounds that are dangerous some are even hair products.  Before I go on to tell you what those ingredients are I have to tell you the story of how I got here in the first place.

Ok.  So I was on Youtube one day browsing around and somehow I came across this video called Brazilian Keratin Treatment on Natural Hair and I was thinking, “If you have BKT, does that not mean that you are not natural?”  That is like calling yourself natural if you have a relaxer.  I mean seriously they do the same thing  which is relax the texture of your hair permanently.  So I asked her the above question “If you have BKT, does that not mean that you are not natural?”

Then she said, “I am a natural with a BKT.”  Which is basically…anyway…that’s not the foolishness I want to discuss.

Another girl commented and said, “I’m an Earthy girl and I got it done twice. The product they used on my was pretty much made of all natural materials..”

I asked her, what is an earthy girl and she said it meant that she did not wear make-up unless it’s all vegan and used all natural vegan products and blah, blah, blah.

And I said something along the lines of, Listen Dr. Oz said on his show to stay away from BKTs because they contain formaldehyde and what it is good about natural hair products?  Ephedrine is natural and it killed some people.  Poison Ivy is natural but I would not rub it on my skin or face.  (Sorry, but I have already revealed to you that I am a rude person so don’t be surprised).

There's a white person on the bottle but black people use this too

Later that night I had dinner with my biology teacher from high school and told her about that foolish girl (Sorry, o. I just finished watching a Nollywood film).  My former biology teacher told me, “Formaldehyde is natural and organic.”

Oh my goodness!!  And that is why I am telling you this.  These skin product companies will tell you that their products are natural and they are not lying, o.  However, that does not mean that these products are safe.  Formaldehyde (CH2O) comes naturally from forest fires and is an organic compound in the scientific sense of the word because it contains carbon.  It is more importantly a natural carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer.  Seriously.  Look in your chemistry book.  Formaldehyde is not only toxic.  It is highly toxic and it is natural, like Britney. =)   Also be warned that some companies do not call it formaldehyde but rather methylene glycol.

You're toxic, she's slipping under

I would also like to mention that a Brazilian woman died after using a Brazilian Keratin Treatment, which contains formaldehyde once due to asphyxiation (suffocating) because her room had poor circulation.  I was watching Dr. G Medical Examiner yesterday and apparently death from chemical toxicity is quite common in the US, so please be careful with all chemicals that you use.

There are several other natural and organic compounds that are also dangerous.  Cyanide (CN) naturally occurs in apple, mango, and peach, although in too small of a quantity to hurt you unless it is rotten.  That is why you should not eat rotten fruit.  The makers of the BKTs may also say that the formaldehyde is in a small amount.  That is one thing that is a lie.  It’s usally 10% and that is a very dangerous amount. But back to cyanide. Many forms of cyanide are highly toxic.  Cyanide is also organic because it contains a carbon. Methane (CH4) is also natural, organic, and violently reactive.  It is flammable.

Methanol, CH3OH, or methyl acohol is also organic because of its carbon,  it is corrosive to rubber and other synthetic materials.  Its main hazards not only include being highly flammable and but also toxic (like Britney =) ).  If ingested it can cause permanent blindness and can be fatal (meaning deadly) whether through ingestion (eating), inhalation (breathing), or absorption through the skin.  Methanol is natural because it is produced naturally through anaerobic metabolism of bacteria so watch out.

I do not know that these organic compounds, other than formaldehyde, are used in hair products, but I am urging you to be careful about hair products that are claimed to be natural.  They may very well be natural but they may also be dangerous for your hair and your body.

Parabens can be natural.  Methylparabens naturally occur in blueberries and I feel bad for authoritatively  saying in a previous post that parabens cause cancer.  There have been studies that show that parabens have been found in the breast of women who have breast cancer and they may cause skin cancer when applied on skin and exposed to the sun, so parabens may cause skin cancer but not necessarily.

That natural products can be dangerous does not change my previous statement that manufactured ingredients are sometimes dangerous as well.  The common main ingredients in relaxers (NaOH, CaOH, LiOH, KOH)   have high pH levels (11-14) meaning they will damage your hair.  Most of them fall into the category of corrosive. A corrosive substance is one that will destroy or irreversibly damage another surface or substance with which it comes into contact.  Because of this, I would avoid not only relaxers but also Nair and other hair removal creams such as those by Sally Hensen which contain the same products.

Non-natural hair product ingredients:

  • Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH, Lye)  —Corrosive
  • Calcium Hydroxide (CaOH)—Corrosive
  • Lithium Hydroxide (LiOH)— Corrosive
  • Potassium Hydroxide (KOH)— Corrosive, harmful
  • Guanidine Hydroxide (CH6N3OH)— Hazards not listed. How convenient.

Natural (Toxic) Compounds

  •  Formaldehyde (CH2O) — Toxic
  • Cyanide (CN)–since cyanide is actually an anion its hazard classification actually depends on the cation its attached to. Sodium Cyanide is not flammable, toxic, etc.  Hydrogen cyanide is extremely flammable, very toxic, and dangerous for the environment
  • Methane (CH4) –Highly flammable
  • Methanol, CH3OH –flammable and toxic

I could go on for days.

Ok. After all this information I shared, I do not want you to leave here feeling helpless and hopeless.  The question now is: What do we do about it? If natural products are unsafe and manufactured hair products are unsafe, what am I supposed to buy?  Great questions. I will answer.   There is an online cosmetic database at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.  Please visit and type in the name of a product you currently use or one you are thinking of buying into the search engine and you can find out about what is in the product.  It will show you the level of toxicity in the product you are using and the level of toxicity of each ingredient.

I will also tell you that there are natural products that are better for you cocoa nut oil, olive oil,  aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, glycerin, honey (only in conditioner that you will wash out).  But the question is, how do I know this?  There is a woman, I should actually call her a chemist, on a website called http://www.naturallycurly.com/.  Her name is Tonya McKay and has a BS in Chemistry an MS in Polymer Science (I have neither of those degrees but I read her articles. hehe).  She writes articles discussing the safest and best products to use daily, so please check her out.  Here is one of her articles on hair oils . In another article, she scientifically (but clearly in laymen’s terms) breaks down the pros and cons of using cocoa nut oil versus mineral oil.  You can even email your questions to her: curlchemist@naturallycurly.com.  Please do that.  Please.

The main points here:  Do not trust a product label that says all natural or all organic unless USDA approved. Look at the ingredients and do your own research using the resources provided (Tonya McKay from naturallycurly.com and the cosmetic database). There is also another article on BKT: http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/04/brazilian-blowouts-lying-to-kick-it.html#comments. Ok.  Sorry for sounding so heat but it really disturbs me when people are harming themselves unknowingly or when people harm themselves knowing but find a way to justify such actions. Thank you for your time and patience.  That is all for today.  I have to get to working on job applications and GREs. Yay! Bye.

Add a comment August 16, 2011

Natural Hair in the Workplace: Academic Edition

This is a continuation of the Natural Hair in the Workplace Series.  This series focuses on women who work on college campuses. One might think that college campuses (at least some) would be more liberal in terms of hair styles.  But as you may see soon that is not always the case and the criticism may come from those some would least expect. I interviewed two women JeNell LaRue, Coordinator of Counseling Services at Gwynedd-Mercy College, a Catholic University in Pennsylvannia, and Ebony McNeal, am English Graduate Instructor at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) a public research university in Oxford, Mississippi.

  1. Name: JeNell LaRue
  2. Education level: I attended Gwynedd-Mercy College and hold two degrees from the institution: a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2004) and a Master of Science in School Counseling (2008).
  3. What is the company/organization/agency for which you work? Gwynedd-Mercy College Upward Bound
  4. What is your position? Coordinator of Counseling Services
  5. How long have you been working there? 3 years with Upward Bound, 7 years at the college total.
  6. How long have you been natural? I stopped relaxing my hair in 2007, but continued straightening and wearing protective styles. I started wearing my hair in it’s natural state in January 2011.
  7. How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position? It was straightened, but had curls.
  8. Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? No, I decided to go totally natural while in my current position.
  9. Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? Yes!!!
  10. If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise? I get so much praise from everyone, especially my white and African colleagues. My Black colleagues like it for the most part, but some are more traditional and like my hair straightened.
  11. What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work? Depends on what I’m doing. I wear it out, or one side up, in a french twist, with a head band, or in twists.

12. What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place? Anything that doesn’t look neat and clean. We try to use our individual discretion.

13. Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair? Our VP is natural, and she wears a short cut. Other Black women on campus may not relax their hair, but it’s still in a straightened style, or weave.

14. Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization? Not at all! It actually became much easier to maintain.

15. Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)? Since going natural, I have noticed that my students have been more receptive to asking questions about natural hair care, and some have even garnered the courage to go natural themselves! Even a few of my white colleagues have natural hair discussions with me regarding their own natural curl pattern. She stopped straightening her hair for a while and began to love her curls too. It’s truly moving. What I tell them (and the college students I interact with) is if you decide to do anything to your exterior appearance, remember the context in which you plan to work. Plan to look neat and put together well, especially when interviewing for a job. In the professional world, natural hair is more accepted than in the past. However, you still have to maintain your hair and your look no matter what. Try new styles and learn what your hair responds to best, then play around with your hair. It’s fun! But in all seriousness, the most important thing is to be confident in yourself. If you are confident and you wear your natural ‘whatever’ with dignity and sophistication you will set the tone.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Ebony McNeal

  1. Name: Ebony McNeal
  2. Education Level: I am currently in the second year of my PhD in English Literature program at the University of Mississippi
  3. What is the company/organization for which you work?  University of Mississippi
  4. What is your position? English Graduate Instructor
  5. How long have you been working there? One year
  6. How long have you been natural? 5 1/2 years
  7. How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position? There was no interview, but I wore my hair pressed straight for my first semester of teaching.
  8. Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? Yes, I wore a natural pin up for my interview at College X for the Institutional Advancement Specialist position.  I was granted the position and held it for 3 years.
  9. Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? Yes
  10. If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise? In my previous position, I received disparaging remarks regarding my natural hairstyles by superior officers.  My natural hair seems to be embraced by those surrounding me in my current position.  There are often comments of praise concerning my hair.
  11. What were the disparaging remarks about your hair at your last job and who said them? Was the person black? White? Older? Younger? Man? Woman? The remarks from my previous position were not overtly disparaging.  They were more passive (i.e. “What happened to your hair?”, “Oh! That’s different.”).  Most of the remarks came from older Black women and a few older Black men.  Any remarks from my white colleagues would be more along the lines of “How did you do that to your hair?”  There were quite a few young Black women who were toying with the idea of natural hair and we sort of formed an unofficial support group for hair suggestions and ideas there.  On the bright side, lots of my young Black female students sometimes stick around after class to ask hair questions.  That’s always flattering.
  12. What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?a natural twist out ‘fro

    Twist Out

  13. What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?  I tend to stay away from a blow out for work because of the length of my hair.  I feel it would be distracting to have such a large hairstyle while teaching.
  14. Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair? I am currently the only Black woman in my department working in this position.
  15. Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization? No
  16. Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?  Sure!  Be confident in your natural hair decisions.  People will only feel uneasy about your lovely coif, if you are unnerved by it.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with new styles and products.  Sometimes it’s best to try new things on the weekends or over breaks, just in case things don’t go as expected.

Conclusion:  I did not interview enough women to make a strong conclusion since there are so many universities in the United States and I probably on interview 0.00001% of the people who work on college campuses and maybe 0.0002% of the black women who work on college campuses.  I cannot imagine the percentage of natural women on college campuses, but the anecdotes demonstrate that you might be able to survive as a professor/lecturer/faculty/staff on a university campus.   If I can, I will definitely post more interviews of natural women in academia.  Unfortunately, the black woman in the highest position at my university that I know is not natural yet. [Cough cough] Dr. Z.

The surprising bit of information we can take away from this (or at least that which is surprising to some) is that the toughest critics of natural kinky-curly hair are quite often other black people.  Older black people.   This makes sense because the people I usually hear saying that the natural is unprofessional are older black people. No. I take that back, some of my white family members said this too, but guess what.  They all have curly hair.  Could it mean that we are our own worse enemies?  Or could it possibly mean that human beings tend prefer what we do not naturally have? I do not know. Dominicans despise curly hair (the way their hair is supposed to be naturally).  Many Nigerians do not see how a person can live without a relaxer.  I have noticed that some white people fry their hair to death with hair coloring and Chi’s (flat irons). Don’t you people know that God knows what he is doing?  In almost every case listed above, the processes used are highly toxic.  Not joking.

Anyway, we were talking about natural hair in the work place, the conclusion is that maybe if you are working for an older black person, you might want to be really careful of how you wear your hair.  I do not know for sure though.  These are two isolated incidences, albeit two isolated incidences in two different states.   One in the north and one in the south. Hmmm….

1 comment August 9, 2011

Hair Growth Tips Part V: Understand Damage. Know the Damage

So, one of the major obstacles to obtaining long hair is hair damage especially at the ends, the driest oldest part of the hair. In fact, it might be the top obstacle to achieving hair length.  Think about it this way: If the average head of hair grow 0.5in (1.27cm) per month and you are losing, for example 0.5 inches of hair per month, you net hair growth is 0 inches.  As a result your hair stays the same length.  Once you know the common sources of damage, you can prevent them and therefore draw closer and closer to you hair growth goals.

There are two major types of damage: mechanical damage and chemical damage.  I am sure a lot of you learned about changes in matter in middle school science (whether you remember it or not).  I remember (for some reason or another) from my 6th science book that one type of chemical change is rusting.  I do not remember the book’s example for a physical change but I would say breaking a piece of chalk or stick or molding a piece of clay can be an example.

For hair damage, it is good to think of chemical damage and mechanical damage as similar to chemical and physical change respectively as the way you may have learned about it in physical science.  Chemical damage is similar to chemical change and mechanical damage is similar to physical change.  In fact, I shouldn’t say similar.  Damage is a type of change. Abi? So mechanical damage usually deals with some kind of pulling and chemical damage usually deals with change in pH.

I will also discuss heat damage but I do not actually know what category that goes under.  Probably physical damage, but I am going to take about it after chemical anyway.

Types of Mechanical Damage

  • Cotton Pillow Cases
  • Furniture with plant-based fabrics
  • Combing
  • Brushing
  • Pulling
  • Styling tools
    • Hair bands

Solutions:

  • Use a silk or satin pillow case and a satin bonnet when going to sleep.
  • You may want to carry a silk cloth around you to place on your car seat and couches you sit on to protect hair from the friction.  I do not do this but if you a really obsessed with hair growth, why not?
  • Detangle hair gently.  You may not ever want to use a comb and instead finger detangle.  I talk about this more in here the detangling edition of the hair growth series.
  • Do not touch your hair or pull it.
  • When styling the hair use tools that do not pull the hair.  For example, Goody’s has Goody Comfort-Flex Updo Barrettes.  I use them and they have never taken out my hair.  Banana clips and these things (that I can’t remember the name of but I’ll provide a picture) are also good.

This is what I was talking about

Goodies and Annie’s sell this hair accessory but not as fancy

You can also soak ouchless hair bands (those without metal) in oils like cocoa nut oil or olive oil or you can use a silk or satin scrunchy.  These will prevent damage and breakage.  I will show you some styles to do with these.

CHEMICAL DAMAGE

Chemical damage usually comes from an unhealthy pH balance.  Anything between 4 and 5.5 probably the healthiest pH balance.  Anything between 4 and 7 is the acceptable.  Most chemicals with a pH higher than 7(basic) or lower than 4 (very acidic) are usually more damaging.  There are a few chemicals/products/substances that distort the pH balance of the hair.  When the pH of the hair is above 7 or below 4, the hair follicle’s cuticle opens making it more prone to damage.

Products you want to stay away from because of the pH:

  • Certain soaps even “organic” ones may have pH balance between 7 and 8
  • Mild Relaxers — 8-11
  • Regular relaxers (those with lye sodium hydroxide NaOH or calcium) -14 (the high pH possible)
  • Baking Soda — 8.3-9.0
  • A clean swimming pool 7.6-7.8
  • Lemon Juice 2
  • Most vinegars (not diluted) 2.4-3.6
  • Egg whites 7.9-9.3

Solutions:

  • Most shampoos and conditioners are in the healthy range (4-7), but you can also apply aloe vera which has a pH of 4 after each wash to make sure.
  • Do not get relaxers.  If you absolutely have to you may want to consider getting a deep conditioner with protein and deep condition at least once per week.  This means leaving a deep conditioner on the hair for quite a while with a plastic bag and a towel.  I explain this in more detail here.  The reason you want to get a protein conditioner is because the alkaline substance opens the cuticle and then changes the protein structure.  Therefore a relaxer changes the structure of the hair strand.
  • Simple. Don’t use baking soda.  Why do you need to? Use shampoo or conditioner to wash.
  • I have a swimming regimen here
  • No need to use lemon juice on the hair.
  • If you absolutely need to use vinegar on the hair, say for clarifying, make sure to only use a little and dilute it with water. Use Apple Cider Vinegar but remember to dilute.
  • If you want to use egg as a protein treatment, only use the yolks and do not leave the egg in too long because the pH will rise.

Products that are acceptable for the hair based on pH:

  • Milk 6.4-6.8 (I was surprised that it is acidic too)
  • Egg Yolks 6.2 (but rises a little.  Make sure you do not keep it in the hair too long)
  • Water 7 (Of course. It’s neutral)

Substance that has the best pH for the hair:

  • Aloe Vera gel 4-4.5
  • Sebum 4.0-5.5 (but that’s naturally in the hair and on the skin anyway)
  • I wish I near about the pH of all the oils I use but I do not

Visit dermnet.org.nz for more information.

I tried posting a video explanation of this pH thing but since the person who explained it wants to be weak-sauce, I am not even going to recommend her. She really is weak-sauce, yo! And I am trying to be nice about it.

Heat Damage

Like with a high pH level, high temperature also opens the cuticle of the hair to raise and therefore break.  This is probably why a lot of hair experts rarely put heat on their hair and if they do they are very careful about it.  Some only put heat on their hair 1-3 times per year.  Some only put heat on the hair once per week if they like the straight look.  There is also a woman called LongHairDontCare2011 on Youtube.  She straightens her hair and recommends using a heat protector. You should test a piece of hair on a paper towel to see if the iron is too hot.  If you burn your hair, it’s too hot. LongHairDontCare2011 also uses lower heat on the ends (since they are the most fragile parts of the hair).  I also recommend these steps.

But keep in mind that LHDC2011 also says that heat is not good for the hair. She simply does it because she believes she will be able to manage straight hair more easily than her natural texture of hair.  When she was trying to achieve length she rarely put heat on her hair and I have noticed that since she has been using heat it does not seem to have the same length retention as she did when she did not use heat.  I would also say that if you are transitioning from a relaxer or chemical treated hair to natural hair, do not, I repeat DO NOT straighten your heat or put heat on your hair at all. Period. Wait until the relaxer is all one and the hair is healthy.

In summary, I would say heat is not recommended if you desire hair length retention and heat is unnecessary in terms of beauty and hair management sake.  If you really, really insist that you need heat, be very, very careful.  No joke. Get a heat protectant (I don’t know of good ones since I don’t), get a good deep conditioner, test the iron with hair on paper towel.  Maybe using aloe vera afterwards could help too. Did I miss anything?

Please check out LongHairDontCare2011’s page here. She has some awesome hair and awesome hair styles straight as well as kinky.

Another important lesson or tip we can gather from this knowledge of heat is to rinse the hair with cold water (as cold as bearable) after washing the hair.  I make sure that my very last rinse when washing my hair is a cold rinse.  I use warm (no hot) water to shampoo or co-wash the hair, but after I deep condition, I use cold water, which is especially good now since it is so dang HOT outside!!!

The last thing I will say is that your hair can get damaged from a lack of moisture.  I do not know what category I would put this under.  Just make sure you moisturize and you can moisturize with aloe and water.

OK ya’ll.  I’m tired. Questions? oyiboprincess.@gmail.com.  Email me.

Heard this song today.  Love it.  It has a great bass line.  Great harmony.  I can relate to it because I still don’t have a job.  Never realized how beautiful the song is:

Add a comment August 6, 2011

Another Random Update

 

Last night, I had a dream that I saw a pic of myself with straightened hair.  It was very long and very thick and black too. Not that dusty brownish color that comes from sun damage which I usually have. Was weird because I never recall my hair looking like that. I do kind of wonder what my hair would look like straightened at this point but I will have to wait until the weather changes or move to New Mexico because it is really hot and humid in Atlanta right now and my hair frizzes up so, so easily.  Another reason I do not straighten my hair or get relaxers.  If I decide to straighten my hair which may not be until September or October, I will definitely post the picture to show you what it looks like. I feel so bad though.  I have not posted anything about hair in a while.  I have a post coming up on damage and I really need to make some style videos.

Last time I straightened my hair 1/25/09

 

Around the time I last straightened my hair

 

Look at me now (Aug 4, 2011)

Just keep in mind that the pic of me now is a braid-out, albeit  an accidental one because I only took out these braids I had in to show you what my natural hair looks like in comparison to 2009.  Back then in 2009, I was wearing a co-wash and go, like I did everyday, since I had no idea what braid out was nor did I desire a braid out but they really are a good thing.  You can use all the best hair products in the world but if you do not treat the hair properly through the styling and detangling techniques you use, the products are useless.  That is what I have learned.  I told you some great ways to detangle and I have hinted some good products and ingredients but the styling tutorials are long, long, long, long overdue.  I feel so bad. I will get to them, but I am really busy nowadays.  How about this:  I will wash my hair every Friday evening and style on Saturday so perhaps you can expect to see a styling video and pictorial ever Monday?  How is that?  I should ahve posted the Natural Hair in the workplace series but I have been trying to get myself in the work place.  Expect a lot Monday.

Add a comment August 4, 2011

Irrationality, Rationality and Health

Hello all.

I have gotten a few messages from women who have said that my blog has inspired them either to go natural or to explore their hair growth potential.  Although I try to shame women with relaxers (I too once had one so who am I to judge), these replies have gotten me interested in what inspires people, not just to go natural but to make healthy decisions in general.  What causes people to make unhealthy decision not only when it comes to their hair but also when it comes to their body?  For example, why would someone not monitor their diet and eat rids, McDonald’s, or cake on a daily basis with the knowledge that diet-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, or stroke run in their family?

Sounds irrational but is very common in our society.  In the vein of hair care, why would someone go to a shop every 6 weeks or so and pay another person quite a bit of money to apply a chemical on their head that can burn through metal and causes cancer?  Again, I am not trying to judge, I can be quite irrational too, but it is quite mind boggling. Dan Ariely explores the irrationality of human beings in his book, Predictably Irrational and argues that humans are always irrational.  After I finish reading Things Fall Apart by the great Nigerian (Igbo) writer Chinua Achebe, I plan to read Dan Ariely’s book.  While I do agree with Ariely that humans can be irrational, my viewers who have cited me as their source of inspiration, have inspired me to think differently.  There is a force that drives individuals to act irrationally but there can also be a stronger force to drive them in the opposite direction to rationality.

It is simple high school physics.  Newton’s first law says that “every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state impressed.”

In other words, everything will state at rest or move with a constant velocity unless acted on by a force especially an unbalanced force.

I believe there are unseen forces that push human beings towards irrational behavior despite the fact that there are also strong (albeit weaker) forces pushing them towards rational behavior.

What is this force?

What is this force? What are the invisible forces that push us towards rational or irrational behavior? What motivates human beings?

Add a comment July 28, 2011

Haha! Look what I found

Probably around the time that I wrote this

Hello everyone. I was looking at documents on my desktop and I ran across a hair journal that I used to write in, which was a very short lived habit.  In fact, I probably cannot call it habit since it only last one week. It is so funny:

  • What did I do Sunday (April 3, 2011)?
    • Pre washed with olive oil and cocoa nut oil
    • I deep conditioned with a mixture of Hello Hydration, honey, and olive oil without shampooing first.  Never shampooed in fact
  • Monday, April 4, 2011
    • Rinsed the conditioner out in the shower and detangled. I think I will continue to save the detangling process for after I have deep conditioned and not use a denman brush. I got a lot less breakage this way
    • Twist outs and braid out using cocoa cut oil only, no leave-in
    • My scalp was so itchy that I made a concoction with cocoa nut oil, tea tree oil, rosemary oil and sprayed it on.
    • Was still itchy
  • Tuesday
    • Was still itchy
    • Did a tuck style
    • Itchy didn’t stop until I took out the tuck and loosened the style
    • Sprayed anti-itch concoction and rinsed after going to the gym.
    • Results: I think it caused come pimples and clogged pores. Maybe I just need to shampoo more
  • Wednesday:
    • Braid out
    • Watched too much hair crush and was distracted from my thesis.
    • OH!!
    • But I prayed about it and it’s getting better.
    • Still itches.
    • My a take a shower and preserve the style by twisting the front

Reflections:

I keep, keep keeping on watching haircrush videos on youtube.  I’m just so fascinated by how long her hair is. It’s so so beautiful.  She looks like one of those beautiful Brazilian young ladies.  I want to look like that.  I was experiencing some serious case of hair envy.  I’ve never felt that way, like ever!  And I keep wanting my hair to be that long.  And keep looking in the mirror and being sad that it’s not there.  So impatient.  However, I realized something.  Of course I want long hair because it’s a sign of beauty.  Although, there are obviously a ton of people with short, medium, whatever length hair that are so beautiful.  But aside from that, long hair, especially if it’s kinky-curly and long is a sign of patience, perseverance, and gentleness.  If I have those characteristics, I will have long hair in no time.”

Yeah. So that’s it.  What I was saying about patience is really true.  Your hair is not going to grow overnight or as quickly as my aloe vera plants. hehe.

I actually later found out that most Brazilian people are black, at least by the American definition, after watching Henry Louis Gate’s documentary Black in Latin America.  It is one of the blackest countries in the world, in terms of number of black people, only second to Nigeria (but again that is if we use the American one-drop rule).  I just said “She looks like one of those beautiful Brazilian ladies” because she reminds me of the ladies who were friends with my dad’s Brazilian friend, Bruno. I think that was his name. I was only eight at the time that we met him and shortly after, he left for Brazil . All of his Brazilian lady friends had really long hair and it was natural and curly (or at least looked that way). I wonder what they do to their hair.  I am hoping their hair was not long as result of those Brazilian Keratin Treatments.  Those things have dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

By the way, check out haircrush on Youtube. I know I have talked about her before.  You can also find her here on fotki. What a gorgeous woman.  I am a princess but she is  the queen. My hair is definitely growing thanks to her tips and the tips of other women (and even mother’s of little girls…I guess they’re women too..hehe.)  I definitely like her hair better than that of kimmaytube who is so length obsessed she never trims her ends so her ends are a bit untidy.  Will talk about ends in a future post.  That’s all for now.

Haircrush (twist-out)

Haircrush (chunky twists)

Add a comment July 28, 2011

Natural in the Workplace: US Department of State Edition

Hello all. As I promised I am publishing a series of posts called “Natural in the Workplace”.  As I said before, my cousin recommended that I mentally prepare relaxed women for going natural.  One of the common concerns for many women, black women in particular, is that if they wear their hair in a kinky-curly state they will not get employed or will lose their job. Considering our economic times, no one wants to risk not having a job or losing their job.  As a result, I would like to investigate to find out the truth about natural hair in the workplace.  One of the first interviewees I recruited is Marita Lamb who works for the US Department of State.  I asked her because she was the first natural professional that popped into my head and she has a job that I am possibly interested in for the future.  Marita was nice enough to pass along the survey to several natural colleagues and friends of hers and as a result I have, not one, not two, but three interviews from women who work for the US State Department.  What a great way to start out!

For those of you who do not know, the US Department of State is the agency in the Federal branch of government that deals with foreign diplomacy issues and international relations.  If people are worried that their natural hair texture is not conservative enough or is too anti-establishment, why not ask questions to people who work for the establishment?  There is nothing more “establishment” than the Federal Government. What a blessing that I have interviews from three women that work for the US Department of State.  Please enjoy!

Marita Lamb

Marita Lamb

Name: Marita Lamb

Education: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spelman College and a Master of Public Policy Degree from Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

 1.    What is the company/organization/agency for which you work?

U.S. Department of State

2.    What is your position?

Foreign Service Officer/Diplomat

3. Where are you located?

Dhaka, Bangladesh

4.    How long have you been working there?

Aug 2010- Present.  I worked for the same organization in the summer of 2009.

5.    How long have you been natural?

Since August 2005, roughly 5 years

6.    How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

I believe in a bun or bun-like poof

Bun-like puff

7.    Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

My styles are fairly conservative for natural hair and I work in a fairly conservative work place. With that said, I have to say that I have not encountered criticism, only queries about the dynamics of my hair maintenance and versatility. People mainly praise, especially when my hair is styled differently in a way that they have never seen.

8.    What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?

I have a tighter curl but my hair is generally worn out or in a poof.  I sometimes twist it back

9.    Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company, organization, or agency as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Like black woman all over the world, the hair styles of my co-workers run the gamut from weave, relaxed, natural, dreads, and super short.

10.    Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company, organization, or agency?

Definitely. Because I am a diplomat, I live, for periods at a time, overseas.  My access to products and professionals aware of my hair texture and care is a disadvantage but on the upside it has incentivized me to learn so that I can do things myself.

11.     Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

Going natural is, in my opinion, a great process of personal discovery.  The process allows you not only to learn about your hair but your body.  You also become even more creative about your hair and personal style than you ever were.  Going natural is definitely a journey not to be taken lightly (not to be done just because your friends do it).  Like all hairstyles adorned by black women, it is one that requires much attention and maintenance and every person’s hair texture is different.  But every hair type is fun and has exciting possibilities for beauty. As for natural hair in the work place, styles completely depend on your workplace.  However I would say use your judgment and remember it is called natural hair so it is natural for you to wear it.  Do not be discouraged by those who are ignorant to the glory that is natural hair and also, if you feel like it and even when you don’t, use this as an opportunity to educate others.  Good Luck


Kedenard Raymond on the right (obviously)

Name: Kedenard Raymond

Education: Bachelor’s in Arts from American U, International Development, Master of Science from Georgetown U, International Relations (fyi these schools and focuses have no bearing on being a diplomat, expertises in the foreign service run the gamut)

 1.     What is the company/organization/agency for which you work?

State Department

2.     What is your position?

Foreign Service Officer/ Diplomat

3.   Where are you located?

Based out of DC, on assignment in Montreal, Canada.

4.   How long have you been working there?

3 years

5.     How long have you been natural?

2 years

6.     How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

10 humid days into a flexi-rod set; pulled up in a loose bun/updo. Funny cuz it was permed at the time but was so fuzzy and crazy, it looked natural 😉

7.     Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview?

No. N/A

8.     Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place?

Hell yea

9.     If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

People that love it, LOVE it. I’m sure some may disapprove (deeming it unprofessional) but have never said anything. (My hair is also dyed blondish/orange-ish in the front which may contribute to the disapproval, moreso than it being natural.

10.     What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?

Fro up-do

 Fro-updo

11.  What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?

Mohawks and even Frohawks

12.  Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Yup, pretty split between natural vs. permed/wigged/weaved up and those who rock a combo of the styles like me.

13.  Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization?

No.

14.  Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

Just do it and own it.


Virsa Perkins

Name: Virsa Perkins

Education: BA in Japanese Studies from Dillard Univ, and an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University

1. What is the company/organization/agency for which you work?

Department of State, Federal

2. What is your position?

Foreign Service Officer

3. Where are you located?

Washington, DC

4. How long have you been working there?

Three years

5. How long have you been natural?

Seven years

6. How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

My hair is shoulder length when natural, so I two-stranded my hair into twists, and pulled it all back in a bun.

7. Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? Yes, my hair was styled the same way as my answer to question number 6.

8. Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place?

Yes

9. If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

No conflict. I receive praise by a number of my co-workers.

10. What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?

I usually wear my hair in twists, and at night I use spiral rollers to keep them curly and bouncy. I wash my hair every two weeks and re-twist it. A few days before I wash my hair, I un-twist my hair and wear it down natural. The latter is my favorite hairstyle and the one for which I receive the most compliments.  Thanks to Marita, I just discovered curl formers and I plan to try them out very soon. I love these spiral rollers and they come in different sizes. They are very good at keeping my hair bouncy and curly. They also don’t dry my hair out.

Spiral rollers

Twist-out (had been twisted two weeks)

11. What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?

In my opinion, any natural style is appropriate as long as it is neat.

12. Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Most black women in my workplace have relaxed hair. I have, however, seen a rise in natural hairstyles among my African-American female colleagues. I see locks, mini-fros, etc.

13. Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization?

No. Twists are job appropriate and look good on me.

14. Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

I would say that you should keep your hair moisturized and keep your ends trimmed. My typical hair style is two-stranded twists, and I feel that this hairstyle is appropriate and looks good on women with natural hair. I think that that what’s important is that your hair is neat and appropriate. Locks can be wild and crazy,  but they can also neat and sophisticated, depending on the environment. I work for the State Dept and, for the most part, the rules of hair are pretty lenient. A number of black diplomats opt for natural looks because we travel frequently to countries that do not sell black hair products or have beauticians who know black hair. My goal with my hair is to make it work appropriate, which means pulling it off my face, sometimes in a bun, or wearing it down in a bob.

Virsa in South Asia

Conclusion:  Natural hair is as professional as you make it.  There seem to be several black women who work for the US Department of State and also have natural hair.  Not only is the natural accepted at the State Department, but if you work there, wearing your hair in natural styles can be a great conversation starter as well as an opportunity to bond with your co-workers. From what the Foreign Officers said, the US State Department employees really enjoy seeing God’s beautiful creation! So if you want natural hair and you also want to work for the State Department, both are certainly possible (that is if you pass the exam, have a good interview, résumé, and cover letter). Whether you wear your hair natural to the interview or you decide to go natural while you are working there you can do it!! As we say in Naija, “Carry go. No Shaking.”  (Approximately: Keep moving. Have no fears.) Okay. Thanks for reading this post and if you have more questions or would like to network with diplomats in this article please email me at oyiboprincess@gmail.com and I will ask them.  If you are interested in a job or an internship at the State Department, please visit: http://careers.state.gov/  .

Oh my. Look. I went to the State Department career website to get the link and found that the woman on the front page has a natural.  Dreads in fact.  You cannot really see it that well but it’s there.

Maybe this is better:

3 comments July 27, 2011

Natural Hair: A Man’s Thoughts by Sedlin Mirtil

This is prose by my friend, Sedlin. I asked him to write about what he likes about natural hair since I knew that he has been a strong proponent of natural hair for a while based on some comments he made in the past, but I had no idea his explanation would be so poetic. Please enjoy.

Sedlin Mirtil, a man who appreciates the beauty of nature. 

“The idea of being riveted by Mona Lisa’s long straight hair or showcasing it as the epitome of beauty flows like kryptonite to my heart. I fear that the Black Man’s sister grows up to believe that her hair is not my type or too natural to be beautiful. I personally love seeing a black woman with an afro, or puffs, or curls or any other form of controlled frizz. As I compliment her hair, I often wonder whether she fabricates sarcasm onto my voice. For the next time I see her, she has cultivated her hair with supplements and products that warp her curls into straight edges. She has traded in the natural oils of her hair’s roots, for the grease from a box that is crusading for the image of beauty. Her hair has now been permed, putting a halt to my compliments. But now she feels confident, professional and sophisticated because society compliments her. Sadly for her and fortunately for me, this bondage of her hair is temporary and not permanent. What will it take for her to realize that her hair is beautiful however she has it? I know not. To be just, I must confess that the author of this post is neither a promoter of ‘kinky’ hair nor straight hair. But I will attest to being an admirer of natural and ‘kinky’ hair styles. I do have some specific hair styles in mind, some that I find both professional and ‘cute’, but I’ll save you the burden of reading a long post.”

Sedlin, the man behind this lovely prose.

2 comments July 26, 2011

Length Check

One more thing for today!! I was inspired by haircrush to do a length check. Here are the results:

Expect another length check in 3 or 6 months.

Add a comment July 26, 2011

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