Friday, January 18, 2008

Locks-Day 1

This is the first day of wearing my locks. My mother put them in for me yesterday after we washed and sectioned out my hair. We uitilized the palm rolling method. Here is what it looks like.

Now I know you are wondering what products I used. (Or maybe not, but I'll tell you anyway.) This is in no way a promotion because like I said in the previous blog, I have been overloaded and overwhelmed with information about the chemicals/poisons that are put into our shampoos and beauty products. I used the ORS aloe shampoo and the twist and loc gel. The funny thing is that after learning all of these horrible things about why Black people shouldn't go anywhere near shampoo, I used it anyway. I guess I just needed to wash my hair and I figured, I've been using this crap all my life, I'm sure there are some Black people with dreadlocks that use regular shampoo too and their hair still that's my justification for now.

I didn't have any conditioner, and my mother didn't have any at her house either (which is a real shock considering that she is the "conditioner queen.") I was in a very motivated, "getterdone" mood so I decided to mix up a concoction of hair mayonnaise and extra virgin olive oil. Did the conditioner, towel dried the hair and sat down for about six hours of palm rolling and twisting. For a first timer, my mother did an excellent job.

This is an example of what the palm roll method looks like...

I know there are a lot of people out there that might think that something so sensitive should be left to a professional, but my mother has been braiding my hair since I started growing it (at the tender age of 3-I was a late bloomer). She is an expert at making parts with a comb and once I taught her the palm roll method, it was on and popping. This is a picture of my dog watching me demonstrate the palm roll method. Maybe he's learning something too.

As you can see, I gather the hair and kind of like roll it into a twirl. Remember back in kindergarten when you rolled the play dough between the palms of your hands into a sort of long twist? Same deal. Then I used a clip to hold it at the root. After this you blow dry it and take out the clips. Here's my end result...

How do I feel, you ask? A little uncomfortable. :-( I'm not used to my hair being in such little twists and I think I look funny. My sweet boyfriend is very reassuring to me and tells me that I am beautiful and all that stuff, but I'm not feeling it today. When I play with my hair a little tonight and tomorrow, I'm sure I can get a feel for this look and learn to work it.

Hey...I'm giving you the real deal right now. Take it, just take it. Patience is the word for 2008. Peace!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Okay, so I'm a little dismayed entry will be short. As I posted previously, I decided to do some more internet research. Not only did I find some great tips and advice about natural black kinky hair such as mine, but I also found that I have been living under a frickin' rock. There are a million and one websites, tips, videos, women in America (of all places) that proudly wear their hair natural like lil' ole' me. Go figure!

You would think that I'd be happy but right now I am on sensory overload. Example: While looking for natural hair tips I learned that you shouldn't use shampoos with sodium lauryl and/or laureth sulfate (sls or sles) and then I learned that finding a shampoo without sls or sles is nearly impossible...unless, of course, you buy it online. Eh...not a big fan of purchasing online. Okay, what else...always moisturize. Sounds easy. Use tea tree oil and jojoba oil, but you have to use it in its natural state, not the watered down version that they sell in stores. But wait! The easy online. Hmm...see a pattern? Now I know that there are places that probaly sell these things in an actual store, but this will require more research and after my CIA investigation two days ago I'm tiiiired(said in an extremely irritating whiney voice).

Black women should stay away from...
propylene glycol, PEG, mineral oil and petrolatum, isopropyl alcohol, chlorine, DEA/TEA/MEA (please don't ask me to pronounce what these words stand for), fragrance (which means anything that makes your hair smell sweet and pretty), and Imidazolidnyl urea and dmdm hydantoin. A bunch of these chemicals are ingredients in most EVERY beauty product there is, including makeup and toothpaste. All of these ingredients are astringents that strip Black hair of its...I don't know...goodness. Some of these ingredients are actually dangerous and bad for your health. I know the last one is a kind of formaldehyde releasing agent.

So I'm surfing these websites and seeing happy, smiling, afro wearing young, Black women such as myself thanking the heavens for being given such great information and here I am thinking to myself, "Damn! Now I have to look for all of these ingredients every time I buy some hair grease!" I have enough things to worry about. And what irked me even more was that the Organic Root Stimulator company that I just bought my shampoo from, the "Black owned" manufacturer had a shampoo that contained both SLS and SLES. Grrrrr!!! Do you know what that stuff is?! Huh? Do you? It's the stuff they use in testing labs as the standard ingredient to irritate skin. The more research I do, the more I realize that I can't use ANYTHING being sold in regular stores or beauty supply stores (even Black owned). There's not enough information out about Black hair and skin so we've been applying one standard for all to the detriment of our hair and skin.

The lighter side

There were some things I could do. Like washing my hair with baking soda and warm water (which is a gentle astringent that does not strip the hair). Baking soda=grocery store=right down the street=as good as done! Olive oil, same equation. Apple cider vinegar rinse...I can handle that. So at this point, it's safe to say that I am going to be doing things the right way. When you know better, you do better...right Oprah! I just have to find my Sally's Beauty Supply receipt.

So that's where I'm at right now. So much for a short entry. I'm going to go cleanse myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Search for Black Owned

Yesterday I decided to take a road trip, which turned into an all out CIA investigation. I was looking for something as simple as hair locking gel. Okay, I know I know I know what you are thinking. You can buy hair locking gel anywhere. But being the radical that I am...I wanted to buy from a Black owned business located in New York or North Jersey. A bit of a trip from Philadelphia...but why not? I like road trips, and both of my sweeties (boyfriend and dog) are willing road companions.

I had my sights set on going to the Carol's Daughter store, being that I frequent the website constantly and not only are they black owned but they also manufacture their goods as well. While talking about it at work that same day, a coworker suggested that I try some of the black owned businesses that are closer to the Philadelphia area. I couldn't give him an argument to the contrary, except to say that I was not familiar with any. Since he couldn't give me a name or exact directions, he suggested I find a local Sally's Beauty Supply and buy the locking gel from a black owned manufacturer instead. That wasn't as appealing to me. No fun, no adventure, no...mystery. I'd never been to a black owned hair supply business, and I wanted to see what it would be like so I grabbed my laptop and googled away. I imagined stores filled with products I'd never seen before. Being serviced by employees that could actually answer my questions, who maybe even had hair like mine and used these products on themselves. Imagine that!

I am not usually as racially conscious about my buying habits, but this is different for me. The best thing I can compare it to is being an Italian person that is forced to buy authentic Italian food from the Olive Garden and the Olive Garden only. Imagine how frustrating it would be to describe what penne pasta is to the person that is making your food.

The plans to make a road trip to North Jersey were postponed due to my puppy's constipation. Being in a car with him when he is in this condition could make you wish you were never born. My boyfriend and I agreed that we could stand a half hour trip at the most.

There were several websites devoted to finding black owned businesses but the search for a beauty supply store usually ended with zero results in our area. When there were results, we would call the phone number to get a disconnected line or an Asian person who could barely understand our inquiries. It was frustrating to the point of comedy. "You've got to be kidding me!" I laughed out loud. We searched and searched for some places in our area and concluded that the only other option would be to get gassed to death on our road trip to Carol's Daughter in North Jersey/NY or to suck it up and go to a local Sally's Beauty Supply. I googled some black manufacturers of hair products and found a company named Organic Root Stimulator. Fair enough! Sally's it is...or it was...'twas.

I felt very defeated in my CIA investigation, but the result of that search lead me to the conclusion that there aren't enough black owned beauty supply places. Maybe I'll save up some money and look into it. Who knows?

Alright so about the products I bought. I was doing some research and found that you can lock up your hair with gel or wax. The difference can be compared to using a water-based lotion to moisturize your skin or using vaseline to moisturize your skin. One will not last as long at all, being that it is water-based and water evaporates, and the other is thick/gooey, rubs off on everything and is harder to clean off. I decided that I would rather do the gel...what's a little maintenance once a week? There was one bottle of Organic Root Stimulator locking gel left (which to me is a sign that God saved it for me). I snatched that up as well as a bottle of shampoo (the wrong kind) and some scalp moisturizer, specialized for people with locks or braids. I have to take the shampoo back, because the Organice Root Stimulator company says that I should buy their uplift shampoo, rather than the aloe kind that I bought. Needless to say, I will be browsing the web to do more research.

Next task will be finding a day and a person to help me with the actual locking process. Maybe I'll have a locking party. I don't know. I was tempted to go to a salon, but dear reader, I have another confession. I'm cheap. My hair is as thick as it comes and with the kind of texture that I have, the locking process can start after two days of no combing. I have literally woken up looking like Bob Marley some mornings. In my case, it would be silly for me to pay someone $100.00 to do something that I've done by accident on several occasions.

And that about concludes my entry for today. Hopefully the next entry will showcase my new "locked look." See ya soon!

Monday, January 7, 2008


Reflections of a hair diva...

Okay, this is the big week. (For those of you just joining...I am making the transition to locks). As usually is the case at the end of the year, I feel it necessary to reflect on the different directions I have taken when it comes to my hair.

My Different Looks...


Every once in a while, I like to go for the sleek, straight look. I think it fits me...what do you think?

Curly is fun...cute...springy. Right?

Natural...(braids, twists, afro)

These are my all time favorite standbys...braids, twists and the occasional afro. These styles are quick and easy.

...And why dreads?
At this point in my life I have noticed a pattern. I always resort back to braids or twists. So I figured that I'd just lock it up (my hair, that is) and be done with it. Braids, twists and locks are in the same family, right? No more worrying about who will braid my hair next or how I will twist the hair at the nape of my neck. Also, I have a secret.
Lean in closer, will ya...
Shhh...okay, here's the secret...don't tell anyone, but I absolutely HATE going into Korean hair supply stores. They are usually located throughout the inner cities and frequented by a sea of humanity of Black women who rely on them to supply us with our beauty regimen. It's sad. Sometimes I can feel the resentment from one culture to the other. The language gap. The distrust. It drives me absolutely bonkers. I don't plan on going back to that any time soon, so here I am. Time to hold onto the money that I so willingly throw away on hair that I could just grow myself.
I hope to impact other Black women. Maybe one day we will take back the hair care industry. That would be nice. (Sigh!) One day...