Establishing A Routine Based On Porosity

Dear Kinkers,

Whether its at the beginning of your natural hair care journey or towards the end of it, every natural bevy should know what her hair’s porosity is. I think the majority of natural women tend to fixate on what their curl pattern is especially towards the beginning of their natural hair journey. However, curl pattern is more concerned with how your natural hair looks aesthetically and less with what products and routines work well for it.

For those naturals that are unfamiliar with what porosity means its basically how porous or absorbent your hair is to water. To find out what your porosity is then I would suggest doing the good ole strand test. To begin, you want to make sure you use a strand of your hair that is freshly washed preferably clarified so that there is no buildup on your strand. Then you want to get a glass of water and place the freshly washed strand in it,

If the strand sinks to the bottom then you have high porosity hair. High porosity hair is characterized by hair that is overly absorbent to moisture. High porosity hair tends to be shiny and absorbs moisture very well but also loses moisture very easily because of how open the cuticles of the stand are. If the strand floats somewhere in the middle then congratulations you’ve hit the jackpot! LOL! Just playing! We high porosity and low porosity girls envy you all. With this type of hair, you pretty much need a moderate amount of moisture during wash day and afterwards.

Now, if your hair is walking on water like Jesus then you have low-porosity hair. When I did the strand test, not one part of my strand was under the water. I was pretty fascinated by how it defiantly floated on top. In a few short seconds, I realized why my hair never seemed to be absorbing the moisture it needed. Low porosity hair is the most difficult type of hair to moisturize, at least initially. However, when we do get moisture into our locks it stays like white on rice.

If your not by a glass of water and your hair isn’t freshly washed but your curious about what the traits of high porosity and low porosity hair is then I’ll give you a few clues. High porosity hair tends to be shinier and when you wet your hair it gets completely wet. Your pretty much a wet doggie when its all said and done. High porosity hair is also more prone to damage because of the open cuticles. With this type of hair, you’ll have to frequently moisturize your hair but it will be supple and shiny.

Low porosity hair tends to have a dull or lackluster appearance. The strands of the hair can almost appear straw-like especially if not given the appropriate type and amount of moisture. When you have low-porosity hair, your hair tends to take longer to wet. You could have fully submerged it but could have just a few droplets coming down your hair. On the other hand, low porosity hair is less prone to damage because of how tightly closed the cuticles are. With this type of hair, sealing moisture into the hair on wash day will be very important.

Okay, kinkers are you still with me? I know it seems like being natural is a task and a half but trust and believe me, you will get a routine down that makes your hair thrive. Okay, now were back to porosity ladies but I promise you we are at the tail-end of everything now. High porosity hair thrives on butters and oils. Thick and heavy is generally good for you ladies because your hair is so porous. Low porosity hair usually appreciates wet products. Look for light products that have water as the first ingredient on the list.  Low porosity hair also likes heat, such as that from heat caps or steamers to open up the cuticle.

I hope my information was helpful ladies. From personal experience, I would say experiment! Use the guidelines I have suggested and create your own routines that you find beneficial. Also remember that no matter what your porosity is, you have the ability to keep your hair healthy and soft with the proper knowledge and implementation. I love you ladies. Stay natural, beautiful, and blessed.

Sincerely,

KK

Weary Weather Doesn’t Have To Mean Weathered Strands

Dear Kinkers,

As we steadily transition into the winter months, we are all bracing our spirits and bodies for the cold temperatures. We may be getting psychologically ready for the bum rush that certainly helps characterize holiday season shopping. Were buying coats, hats, mittens, and scarves to protect us from the frigid air and keep us cozy. However, how many of us have taken the time to think about how our hair routines will change, just as the season has?

Little changes in our daily routines can make all the difference in keeping natural strands supple. One of the most overlooked yet crucial components in protecting the hair is through the attire we wear. For example, while hats are great at keeping our heads warm and preventing a head cold, we must remember to consider the fabrics we choose. Wool is a great fabric at keeping the body warm but is a total moisture zapper for natural hair. A great way to enjoy your wool cap but to keep your strands in tact is to sow a Satin liner into your hat or wear your nighttime bonnet underneath it.

Next, the two words that you’ve probably heard too much in your natural journey is protective styling. Yes, I know your just about sick of feeling like Addy from American girl with your twist, french braids, and conrows but let’s face it, protective styles work. They may not be visually appealing but your hair will lock in the moisture you spent so long to apply. Plus, they keep those delicate ends tucked away and much less prone to breakage during the week. If you want to have some protection but see your natural hair loose from time to time then consider wearing a protective style for a few days then wearing it loose for the following days.

While deep conditioning should be apart of your natural routine during any season, during the winter it has added importance. Deep conditioning penetrates the different layers of the strand and nourishes it from the inside out. As most of us now know, if our hair is properly moisturized then it will break less. For those individuals who have low porosity hair (strands that have a tight cuticle), then do your best to apply heat to the process. You can wear a heating cap or a cheaper option is to heat up your conditioner. I personally get a hot bowl of water and then place my bowl of conditioner on top of that to warm up my conditioner so that all the important nutrients are not broken down too much.

Lastly, the ends are your golden ticket. We protect are ends best through daily moisture regimens, using infrequent heat, and daily trims. On wash day, its important to use a leave-in and seal that moisture in with a styling cream, oil, or both. In terms of heat, one can use it but its preferable to limit heat use to no more than once a month and to use a low setting, if possible. In regards to trims, it varies from individual to individual but you should inspect your ends particularly during protective styling and if it seems stringy at the very end then its likely your hair could use a trim.

With these tips, you won’t feel paranoid about how your natural hair will cope during the winter months. Most of all, remember to enjoy the holiday season and allow yourself to let it all hang loose with family and friends. Tis the season to be jolly and if you can follow these tips, your natural hair will not become a springtime folly.

Yours truly,

KK

Will The Itch Ever Go Away ?

Dear Kinkers,

The flakes, the inflammation, the sound of your fingernails against your dessert dry scalp. Does this all sound vaguely familiar? Well, chances are that you have experienced a dry, itchy scalp. A dry itchy scalp can be frustrating and almost incessant to say the least. Many naturals try to figure out how to keep their hair moisturized while still maintaining a clean scalp.

Washing frequently is important but not too frequently since this can further dry out the hair and give it split ends. Using an oil or butter can be helpful but using too much product can weigh down the hair and clog the scalp’s pores. Not to mention, many naturals try to think of a shampoo that will clean the scalp but not leave their hair striped. This leaves many naturals having to figure out a delicate balancing act.

In other instances, there are cases where a dry, itchy scalp is being misdiagnosed. Particularly in the African-American community, we have a tendency to label every scalp ailment as a dry, itchy scalp when at times it can be more than that. Seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis can be among these potential conditions. In regards to these conditions, it is always best to consult a physician. If your worried about your hair drying out from any medicated shampoos, then steaming, protective styling, a leave-in, and deep conditioning will be helpful in infusing moisture back into the hair.

From personal experience, I have found that weekly washing helps remedy my problem. I wash one week with Shea Moisture’s Deep Cleansing Shampoo and co-wash the next with Tresemme Naturals. This keeps my scalp clean and my moisture levels regulated. I like using Natural Oasis grease which contains all natural oils and unrefined beeswax. Some naturals are dead set against grease of any kind but I have found this to help keep my scalp and hair moisturized.

Many times when naturals begin their hair journey, they focus so much on their hair that they forget about the health of their scalp. Ultimately, hair grows from the follicles of the scalp. In order to reach that waist length hair you’ve been dreaming about or to just have healthy hair grow in, you might want to look at the scalp for the answers.

Yours Truly,

KK

Moisturizing Mayhem and Miracles

Dear Kinkers,

Moisture, moisture, and more moisture! LOL. Okay, some of ya’ll may know exactly what I am talking about when it refers to the battle of obtaining and keeping moisture into those natural locks of hair. You may have won a few wars but the battle is never over. Many naturals can attest to the gruesome effects of having dry hair. It looks dull, it breaks easily, and it feels like straw. The exact opposite of having moisturized hair is having hair that looks shiny, encounters little breakage, and feels pliable and soft to the touch.

This brings me to my next point which is that moisture is ultimately water or anything that is water-based. In other words, using good ole’ fashion water can help remedy some of the dryness that naturals face. However, many naturals believe in the Liquid, cream, oil (LCO) or Liquid, oil, cream (LOC) method, of using water or a water-based product which is then followed up with a cream or oil to lock in moisture. On the other hand, there has been some controversy about this. Ultimately, you should try out different methods and then stick to the one that works for your hair.

I have found that using Giovanni’s Direct Leave-in Conditioner coupled with either Shea Moisture’s Coconut and Hibiscus styling cream or Taliah Waajid’s Curly Curl Cream gives my hair definition, moisture, and softness. I didn’t find any difference in applying an oil to my hair and in actuality, it made my hair look drier and more frizzy. At the same time, there are naturals who have great success with the LOC and LCO methods.

Another vital step in taking care of your natural hair is found in your wash day routines. To begin, I believe it is necessary for naturals to wash their hair at least every other week by co-washing (with a conditioner) or shampooing. Washing your hair gives your hair the opportunity to obtain moisture and remove build-up or impurities from the scalp and hair. At the beginning of my journey, I co-washed my hair a lot but I found that it weighed my hair down and my scalp itched quite a bit.

The very first time I clarified my hair, I remember it being soft, bouncy, and having life I had never seen since going natural. Clarifying is important but can also be deceitful. Due to this, I then began clarifying my hair every week and began getting dry hair. I learned that I still needed to incorporate co-washing into my routine and to clarify no more than twice a month, if I wanted to have healthy moisture levels. In essence, find the balance!

Two other underrated but highly beneficial wash day routines are pre-pooing and deep conditioning. The moment I stopped pre-pooing, believing it wasn’t really helping my hair was the moment I began getting more shedding and breakage than before. Pre-pooing is essentially using a natural oil, such as coconut oil on the scalp and hair before it is washed. I would give the hair at least an hour or two to soak up the oils sufficiently before washing it.

Deep conditioning is the bomb.com! No questions asked. I like to section my hair, apply conditioner, comb it out gently, and then twist it to further lock in my conditioner. Afterwards, I make sure I wash with cold water and thoroughly get all residue out of my hair before styling. Personally, I like to do this for a few hours but many people suggest less time especially if you are applying heat to the conditioner.

Last but not least are my beloved protective styles. It just seems that when I found protective styling, I had no desire to go back to wash and go’s. It was nothing short of a godsend for me when it came to feeling like I was owing my naturalism. It gave me moisture for days, an eccentric but fly look, and the healthy hair I had envisioned before my big chop. For those naturals who are suffering with dryness and curl definition, then try protective styles because I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

Your truly,

KK

Naturals Change Generational Perceptions

Dear Kinkers,

 

Today I experienced naturalism in a profound way. I was confronted with the recycled mentalities that still exist among households of color about having coarser and coilier textured natural strands. Instead of doing my own hair, I decided that I would let my next door neighbor do my hair. Like many naturals, doing our hair is a laborious process and we relish the idea of having our scalps massaged and letting another person work through our dense terrain of curls, kinks, and coils.

Additionally, my girlfriend who is Latina also decided to get her hair done by my next door neighbor. My girlfriend wanted bangs to be cut and her hair to be curled. On the other hand, I opted for a braided hairstyle, choosing to continue with my weekly protective styling routine. At the household, there were two younger girls who watched my girlfriend and I in awe. 

After sectioning and combing my hair out, I placed it into some loose twist. One of the little girls said to me “I wished I had curly hair like you.” I reassured her that she did have curly hair but that her hair was more tightly coiled which gave it a kinkier appearance. She listened and meditated on what I said.

Afterwards, I helped comb out and section the other little girls hair. As I gently combed through her luscious tight coils, I thought to myself this is so beautiful. I made sure that I mentioned how strong and beautiful her mane was to her mother who faintly acknowledged it. In the past, I heard her mother mention her daughter’s hair in less enthusiastic terms telling me my hair wasn’t like her daughter’s to make a comparison of unfavorable standards.

Later on, the other little girl mentioned to me how my girlfriend, who has very fine and straight hair had beautiful hair. Now don’t get me wrong, I think there is beauty in different hair textures, facial features, and races but because European and more presently exotic features tend to be the standard of beauty, I felt compelled to remind her that her African features were just as appealing.

These two little girls reminded me that the natural hair movement isn’t simply a fad, a fight the power move, or the quest for healthier hair but its about development and enlightenment. Being natural forces women of color to become conscientious about the footprint they are leaving on society in both personal and public ways. The naturals of this era are making an impact, helping to turn the tide of beauty perceptions and setting an example for future generations to come.

 

Yours truly,

KK

The Big Chop Blunders

Dear Kinkers,

Let’s discuss the big chop. It might as well be called the big bang! Its an exciting and exhilarating time in which women who are transitioning decide to cut off all their relaxed hair in an attempt to reveal their beautifully textured mane of hair. Many of us envision defined curls that have luster, sheen, and bounce. On other hand, some of us fear our natural definition thinking we will be branded as looking “nappy.”

I will personally attest to the fact that the big chop is highly liberating but can also be bewildering and upsetting, if you place unrealistic expectations upon your hair. To begin, I certainly believe there is a preference or bias towards naturals that have a defined curl pattern, or our type 3’s as Andre Walker’s typing system labels them.

This bias makes it difficult for women of tighter curl patterns or kinkier hair to feel comfortable showcasing their natural tresses. One common expression is that, “natural isn’t for everyone” if someone doesn’t possess a loose or defined curl pattern. I myself have been called “Kunta Kinte and nappy dreads” because of my tightly curled and coiled strands.

Secondly, many naturals fail to realize that our hair needs time. Yes, I will say it again it needs time. Multiethnic hair has been subjected to years of relaxers, heating appliances, synthetic moisturizers, and improper styling techniques. We must give our hair the time it needs to revert back to its curl pattern by giving it the daily TLC it so desperately craves.

Last but not least naturals must do their research! This journey can be so rewarding and fulfilling, if one takes the time to seek out information from the natural community and more importantly to do their own personal investigation into what their hair needs. Every natural has a distinct head of hair, even naturals who have the same type of hair may have an entirely different hair care routine.

Be steadfast and strong in your natural endeavors. This is a journey with many twist and turns but the ride is worth it!

Yours truly,

KK

What is Natural?

Dear Kinkers,

The word natural is certainly becoming cliche nowaday’s especially because its used so frequently in so many different areas. We go to the grocery store and we see all-natural lemonade. We go to the beauty supply store and we see all-natural hair products. I mean natural is practically ubiquitous and is even used in false advertising to give a product of lackluster quality more appeal. 

However, in the natural hair care community, it is a construct of both physical and literal connotations. For natural women, this means no relaxers, and perhaps no straightening or dying depending upon how far one expands their definition of naturalism. I think it would also be fair to assume that many women who decide to go natural do so because they are tired of the chemicals and want to regain hair health but for some, it eventually becomes a journey of deeper revelations and discoveries. 

Personally, I am discovering that naturalism is a lifestyle. Yes, naturalism is doing your best to eat a balanced diet, exercise, and keep stress levels to a minimum. On the other hand, naturalism means staying true to who you are, loving every part of your being, and going after the things in life which you are passionate about. For naturals, it is not just a hairstyle, fad, or trend. Naturalism is our soul.

Yours Truly,

KK