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

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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