Why SheaMoisture & Sun Dial Brands Won’t be Getting My Hard Earned Coins

Hey Loves!

I am not a woman of many words. It’s not often that I blog (I need to do way better), but when I do, I definitely have something to say.

I used to be a supporter and purchaser of Shea Moisture’s products. I previously spoke highly of some of their products like the Curl and Style Hair Milk and the Deep Treatment Masque on my blog and YouTube channel. I always thought that their products were expensive given the size of the bottles, however for a product that guaranteed to leave my kinky curly hair nourished, moisturized and juicified, that I could easily purchase through any convenience or mass channel, I was willing to pay the price. Not any more. Not today. Not ever.
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For those of you who missed the huge debacle, earlier this week, Shea Moisture released a few tone-deaf ads and the natural hair community and Black twitter responded with outrage within seconds. Watch here. It’s these moments that make you love and hate the internet at the same time. Lol. Hours later, Shea Moisture responded and released what was in my opinion a respectable apology, followed by “lessons learned,” however for me, this apology was not enough. You don’t regain trust and support based on an apology alone. Yes, it starts the healing process, but acceptance certainly takes time and a change in behavior.

Many women responded with my favorite phrase of the year, saying, “SheaMoisture is cancelled” and vowed to stop purchasing their products. I fully support this move because as consumers with so much spending power, our money talks. Sadly, it’s one of the few ways we can force corporations to listen to our voices and value our needs – by putting our money where our mouth is. I won’t be purchasing their products any more or supporting their brand. Not just because of their ads, but because I know that a product that works well for straight, silky hair, won’t work well for my hair texture. I don’t want hair products branded as “for everyone.” I want hair products created with my hair texture in mind. Instead, I will turn to other natural hair care brands and I encourage you all to do the same. Take this opportunity to learn about Black-owned natural hair companies on the rise. The natural hair industry is fragmented but vast, so you should be able to find a plethora of hair products and companies that can fulfill your needs! Click here for a short list floating around the Internet.

I will not waste time bashing the ads (you can watch them and form your own opinions), but there was one ad in particular that caused outrage because it featured two White women – one blonde and one redhead, and a racially ambiguous woman with loose curly hair, speaking about their experiences with “Hair Hate.” Though there was a separate ad that featured Jenell B. Stewart, influencer, beauty blogger, and spokesperson for SheaMoisture who has kinky 4c hair, the ads overall seemed a bit insensitive to the level and severity of “hair hate” that Black women with 4c, kinky, coily, coarse, afro-textured hair face throughout their lives and how systems oppress them because of their hair. These are the same Black women who made SheaMoisture a multi-billion dollar company, so the fact that they isolated them and diminished their stories  was disheartening.

 

The Black hair care experience is something that is both sensitive and unique to Black women. [insert Rachel Dolezal meme here]

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Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that can be very difficult to understand and relate to if you haven’t experienced it.

  • Do you know what it feels like to live 18 years of your life not knowing what your real hair feels like, looks like, and how it grows out of your head naturally?
  • Do you know what it feels like to have someone at work ask you if you wore your natural hair out in an afro for “shits and giggles“?
  • Do you know what it feels like to wear your hair a certain way to an interview because you’re afraid you’ll be judged by your hairstyle instead of your qualifications even though you went to an Ivy League school or have multiple degrees and are more than qualified?
  • Do you know what it feels like to spend thousands of dollars on weaves, extensions and styling products every year because your real hair is impossible to manage on its own?
  • Do you know what it feels like to spend 8+ hours in a hair salon getting braids only to be told by your manager that it looks like there’s a beehive/ basket sitting on your head?
  • Do you know what it feels like to not go to the gym or exercise because sweating will mess up your hair?
  • Do you know what it feels like to make mindless everyday decisions that should be made exclusive from hair based on your hair?
  • Do you know what it feels like to teach a young Black girl to love her natural hair, to see herself as beautiful, to understand self love?

These questions and experiences are not only ridiculous, but also real. They are not made up. And you wouldn’t know this unless you experienced it or spent time learning about it, speaking with women who have experienced it at depth. Reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah (though it’s a great book), is not enough either. I cannot tell you how many times someone has tried to relate to my hair experience by referencing that book. It’s a good start, but the conversation about Black hair shouldn’t stop there. I encourage you to continually engage others who may be uninformed in the dialogue about Black hair, because it’s important.

From a business perspective, I’m still trying to make sense of this act. I read a few articles with excerpts from Sundial Brands’ (SheaMoisture’s parent company) CEO Richelieu Dennis basically citing inclusion and “broadening the audience” as the ads main purpose. Honestly, I’m not sure why SheaMoisture is trying to include everyone. Scratch that. I know why SheaMoisture is trying to include everyone… for fatter profits. However I don’t believe it is critical for them to include everyone. There’s nothing wrong with manufacturing and selling a product for a specific, niche consumer group and demographic. Trust me. The challenges Black women face when it comes to their hair are so large, so complex and they have not all been solved. There’s so much more work to do with this consumer group in this space, so I’m surprised by the direction SheaMoisture chose to expand. Alienating your core customers to acquire a few dozen others doesn’t make long term financial sense. To me, it seems like a very shortsighted path to growth.

Whenever blunders like these occur, they always make me wonder if senior leaders and executives who have decision making power at these companies have the expertise and knowledge to do so. Assuming that they don’t know better, their consumers certainly know better. [We] need to do a better job putting the consumer at the center, getting to know their habits, their challenges, their needs. A company that I admire because they do this so well is Amazon. I was recently reading CEO Jeff Bezos’s  letter in Amazon’s 2016 annual report released a few weeks ago. In that letter, he reiterated why it will always be “Day 1” at Amazon and why it is so important to stay focused on your customers. I think many companies and leaders can learn a few things from Amazon – you can read highlights of the letter (here). I have no idea what my future holds, but one day, I may be an entrepreneur. And when that day comes (quote me), I hope that no level of investment or influence pulls me away from my core.

Moments like these serve as reminders that we need to continue to fight for greater representation of Black women in various leadership positions – our opinions, voices and diverse perspectives matter.

Thank you SheaMoisture for reinvigorating my passion to fight when I thought I was ready to quit. It’s not over.

Thanks for reading!

Miss Ijeoma A.

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The Future of Natural Hair Care

Hi Loves,

I cannot believe that it is already mid-November and the year is almost over! Where does the time go? I had so many plans at the start of the year for my hair and my blog, but I’ve realized that sometimes life has a different plan for you and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. I apologize for my absence. The fire in my heart was raging today, so I had to post!

Where have I been? Basically, I’ve been in the same place physically, but in a new space mentally. I spent most of the year reflecting on what I really want to do in life and trying to better understand my larger purpose. Though I’m not 100% sure yet, gaining some clarity has put my mind at ease. Then, I spent the second half of the year training for the New York City Marathon, an experience that was life changing for more reasons than one. I still can’t believe that I ran 26.2 miles and I am so thankful for my amazing team, Athletes to End Alzheimer’s for supporting me each step of the way. They say if you want to learn about yourself, run a marathon. I dare you.

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As for the main purpose of this post, how is my natural hair? This past weekend I had the opportunity to “play” with my natural hair for the first time in 2-3 months and my emotions went from 0 to 100; the process went from feeling fun to frustrating almost immediately. Wash day has literally become wash weekend – a nightmare. For context, I kept my hair in a protective style for 12 weeks. Underneath my clip-in extensions, my hair was braided in cornrows. I spent Friday night taking out the cornrows and washing/ detangling/ deep-conditioning my hair. I spent Saturday blow-drying and trimming my hair. I spent Sunday getting my hair re-braided at the salon and prepping my new clip-ins for the installation (dyeing, washing, and conditioning). That was my whole weekend in a nutshell. The longer my hair grows, the more difficult it becomes to manage. In regards to the health of my hair, I cannot complain because it has been thriving. I no longer have any dyed pieces of hair, heat damage, or noticeable breakage in my crown. Blowing out my hair allowed me to see how much my hair has grown and how healthy it is! See pictures below!

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Despite this amazing progress, more recently I’ve found myself ranting about my natural hair to my girl friends, guy friends, family members… basically anyone who will listen to me speak or give me a platform, with more passion and higher frequency. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on my hair, an investment that has not generated any monetary reward for myself, but has the potential to inspire, uplift, and empower women all over the world. I even called my mom this weekend to semi-apologize for giving her a hard time about relaxing my hair when I was only five years old. Being six years natural and shedding real tears as an adult while trying to comb my hair finally made me realize why she did what she did. It even made me wonder how my future self can raise a daughter with 4c, afro-textured natural hair and still maintain my sanity. Moms are the real MVPs! But does that make my Mom’s actions and those of other Black women who follow suit justified? No. How companies can justify selling hair products with the same chemicals used to unclog drains is beyond me. And the fact that we turn to these products out of convenience is disheartening.

I’ve spent the last few months asking myself why my hair matters so much to me. My passion for natural hair is not in vain, but stems from the impact my hair had on my self-esteem growing up and how the lack of role models with hair like mine affected the opportunities that I pursued. Like many other African American women, I grew up in hair salons. I spent 15 years of my childhood and adolescence hiding behind chemical relaxers, braids, extensions, and hair that wasn’t mine because I was afraid and didn’t know how to take care of my hair. Anyone who thinks the discourse surrounding Black hair is simply about hair is missing the main point. The conversation is not about hair at all. In fact, it’s about identity, confidence, and acceptance, among other things. It’s about a marginalized group that was born into a situation that it cannot change but tries to figure out how to make the best of that situation with limited resources.

Six years ago I made a bold decision to cut off all of my hair and go natural on my quest to attain long hair of my own, backed by the support system I gained through the online natural hair community. My pursuit to obtain long hair is less about length and more about achieving a goal I was conditioned to believe was outside of my reach. As a young girl, with damaged, relaxed hair, my hair broke off faster than the rate at which it grew. Growing up, Black girls “didn’t have long hair.” I’ve been following several natural hair YouTube gurus on their journeys over the last few years. Many have taken similar paths, concluding the road to achieving long natural hair is not desirable or sustainable. So instead, some reverted back to relaxers or now maintain shorter hairstyles. I on the other hand, am not ready to call it quits.

Though the natural hair trend has surged in recent years, many women remain uneducated about hair care or simply do not have the time to dedicate to such care. Seeking convenience, they have become heavily dependent on weaves, wigs, and extensions. But, by increasing demand for these items, they’ve created a marketplace that, in my opinion, does more harm than good by charging African American women exorbitant fees for products that they’ve been taught are central to their identities. I’ve conducted some research of my own, and though it’s not conclusive, it does shed some light on an imbalance in the hair care industry: Black women are willing to spend more on their hair. In one example, an ethnic hair conditioner by a multinational brand costs $9.99 for a 13.5oz bottle ($0.74/ oz) from Target; meanwhile a similar hair conditioner by a mainstream brand costs $2.67 for a 13oz bottle ($0.21/ oz). Black hair care is not only more time consuming, but in most instances it is also more costly.

Do we really need another natural hair product line on the market with a new oil unknown to mankind? – Absolutely not. What we need is a hair care company that is sensitive to the Black hair experience. A company that can create innovative solutions to deliver the most value to the vast community it serves in the form of high quality products and hair extensions at a low cost. A company that views solving this challenge as its ethical duty. A company that realizes it cannot change how our hair grows out of our heads, but sees a unique opportunity to facilitate a less burdensome experience rooted in research and compassion. We need to change the narrative around Black hair care for women. We need to create programs that support and teach young girls how to care for and maintain their natural hair from an early age. We need to build businesses that capitalize on the opportunity without serving as a detriment to our wallets or our communities.

I dream of a day when the Black hair care experience is more manageable, commoditized and normalized, not costly, exploitative and time consuming. Nowadays, I try to spend less time styling my natural hair and more time understanding how to solve our problems. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Thank you for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Ijeoma ❤

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Wash Day Regimen & Trimming

Hey Loves,

Happy New Year! I finally uploaded a video with some information on my wash day regimen and how I trim my hair. Below, I also have a blog post detailing my routine. Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Miss Ije

Heat Free Hair Extensions Review

Hey loves!

 
Apologies for the extended time away from my blog and the lack of hair updates. I cannot believe it has been over a year since I wrote on here… I am definitely still passionate about natural hair. I’m not even sure if anyone actually reads this blog in real life, but I owe a special shout out to all of my wonderful friends who reminded me that I have a blog and who have been encouraging me to post more and keep my passion for natural hair alive. I love you all and thank you for inspiring me each day! 🙂 

So much happened in 2015! I traveled to Ghana & Dubai, switched jobs and my brother married the love of his life, among many other blessings.

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60.jpg Photo taken in Macola Market in Accra, Ghana.

53.jpgPhoto of my siblings and I at my brothers wedding. (Green, white, green for Naija)

 

2015 was also a struggle year for my natural hair. I quietly celebrated my 5 year post-big chop natural hair anniversary back in July and although my hair has grown a lot over the last 5 years, it is still not where I expected it to be (in terms of length and health). In the beginning of the year, I experienced serious breakage in my crown area following an extremely cold, dry winter. I still cannot pinpoint the exact cause of the breakage, although I’m convinced that it was either due to dry hair from the cold weather or too much manipulation from my self-installed Havana twists and my failed attempt at crochet braids (which I will never do again). As I result, I decided to keep my hair in protective styles for the rest of 2015 to give my hair a chance to grow back. I spent the first half of the year with my hair in box braids (which sadly, I will probably never do again… at least not any time soon. I love my edges too much to deal with the wahala that comes with braids and African hair braiding salons that do not know how to work with natural hair). I spent the second half of the year wearing my hair in extensions (clip-in extensions and a straight weave sew-in). There is so much I want to share with you about my hair, but the rest of this update will focus on my experience with the Heat Free Hair extensions.

 

Over the summer I decided I wanted to try a new protective style that would give my hair a much needed break. In the past, I always had the most success with my hair when fully protected, so I was torn between a wig, a sew-in, and clip-ins. I decided not to purchase a wig because I was scared it would appear too fake. I also wanted to be able to wash the hair often and reach my scalp easily which is why I chose the clip-ins over the sew-in. I sought clip-in extensions that matched my natural hair texture, so that I could easily blend my leave out with the hair. A friend recommended the Heat Free Hair company to me, which was founded by a fellow Nigerian, Ngozi Opara. Since I love supporting everything Nigerian, especially Nigerian women entrepreneurs, I decided to give the hair a try.
I am not going to lie to you, this hair is extremely expensive. As in, my bank account cried real tears after purchasing this hair. I would go on my rant about how the black hair care industry charges unconscionable prices, but I’ll save that conversation for another time. I could not find many YouTube videos reviewing this hair, so I was definitely hesitant to buy it. But after a few weeks of researching I decided to purchase two packs of the “For Kurls Clip-Ins”, both in 24 inches (130g). Click here for more information on the hair. (I won’t write how much I paid on here in case my mom is reading this) What I like about Heat Free Hair is that they give you a few different hair texture options through their different collections, “For Kinks,” “For Koils,” and “For Kurls.” Even though my hair is 4c, and super coarse, I bought the 3c – 4a hair since I wanted a looser hair texture. The hair shipped immediately and arrived via USPS mail in 7 days.
Below is a picture of the hair I received.
 
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Each pack of clip-ins was packed in a box which included a card with detailed hair care instructions. I cannot remember the exact number of clips in each pack… It is probably between 5-7 pieces of all different widths. After opening the package, I washed and conditioned the hair… even though the hair did not smell, I figured this was standard practice. Because the hair was brown and did not match my hair color, I dyed it black with Revlon box dye and re-washed/ conditioned it days later. I got my hair natural hair cornrowed at a hair salon, left a little bit of leave-out in the front and along the sides, and installed the clip-ins. At first it was very difficult to blend my natural hair with the clip-ins. I tried two-strand twisting the leave out with Shea Moisture’s Curl & Style Milk, but realized that because this product is a water based moisturizer, my natural hair became frizzy quickly and would not stay defined. I had better luck blending my hair when I used an oil based/ butter product like Carols Daughter Loc Butter or As I Am Double Butter Cream, which I highly recommend. Below are a few pictures of me doing shakara with the hair.
 
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To maintain the hair, I usually spray it with water and conditioner (I mainly use 3 conditioners: Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In, Aussie Moist, and Organix Coconut Milk) and put it in 3-5 large twists every night. When I am feeling lazy, I pack the hair into a low bun and sleep with a satin scarf. I do not recommend this since the hair gets very dry and the curls lose their definition after a few days. On most nights,  I either finger detangle or use a Denman brush and re-twist. Every two weeks, I remove the clip-ins and wash/ detangle them. Sometimes I only use shampoo, sometimes I only use conditioner. The hair tangles and it sheds a lot (as with most kinky hair textures). I am hoping the hair can last me at least a year, although due to the shedding and the constant loss of hair, I am not sure if it will. The hair is definitely less full than it was when purchased, and I have been wearing the hair consistently for the last 4 months.
To blend my leave out, I put my hair in 4-5 two strand twists each night using the products mentioned above. I let them dry over night, unravel with some oil and blend with the hair which is relatively simple. Re-twisting my hair and the clip-ins every night is what I dislike most about this hair style. It is definitely tiring, time consuming, and high maintenance.
Below you will find a quick summary of my pros and cons:
Pros:
– Easy to blend
– Curls are soft and easy to define
– Clip-ins easy to attach and remove (do not snag your hair)
– Beautiful texture
– High quality hair
– Versatile (Apparently you can also straighten, blow dry, and curl the hair, although I have never tried it)
Cons:
– Unreasonably expensive (clip-ins range from $189 – $239)
– Hair gets dry very easily
– Needs constant moisture
– Hair sheds significantly with every wash
My final thoughts on the hair is that while it is not gold, it definitely makes me feel like Beyoncé.
 
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In all seriousness though, it is definitely an investment that requires careful thought before purchasing. I love the way the hair looks and I have received so many compliments. My natural hair is definitely thriving underneath this protective style. But, as someone who is gainfully employed, this hair is way too expensive. My next protective style for the beginning of 2016 will most likely be a wig… but more to come!
As always, thanks for reading and for all of the support! Happy New Year!
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Sincerely,
Miss Ije ❤
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Nigerian Natural Hair Tag

Hi Loves,

I decided to use some of my free time over the holidays to film a few natural hair videos. Check out the Nigerian Natural Hair Tag below! More videos and posts coming this week!

Sincerely,
Miss Ije

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Hair Dye & Henna

WHY I DYED MY HAIR

When I was in college, two things that I always wanted to do, but my parents never let me were (1) pierce my nose and (2) dye my hair. Now that I finally moved away from home and pay my own bills (as my mom likes to say), I have a lot more freedom to do things I’ve always wanted to do. Because I feel like I’ve missed the window of opportunity to pierce my nose, I chose to experiment with hair color instead.

I decided that early April was the perfect time to add some blondish-brownish highlights to my hair, since spring was coming and I was bored. I scheduled an appointment with my childhood hair stylist immediately and didn’t do much research beforehand because I knew if I did, I would back out. I have seen/ heard so many color-gone-wrong horror stories on YouTube, so I knew I was not ready to do it myself. The stylist mixed honey blonde and chestnut-brown and applied the dye to my dry, unwashed hair. Since my hair stylist knew there was a chance that I would not like the color, she only highlighted a few pieces in the front instead of my whole head. (I’d say less than 10% of my hair is colored). I sat under the dryer for approximately 15-30 minute to speed up the process and we checked the color every couple of minutes. She thoroughly washed and conditioned my hair after the color treatment. Initially, I hated the color because there was a shocking difference between the dyed color and my natural hair color. I would have preferred if there were a few different shades of brown so that the highlights transitioned into each other. This is how my hair looked like right after she dyed it.

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WHY I TRIED HENNA

After realizing that blondish-brownish hair was not for me, I decided to try coloring my hair using natural methods instead. On my visit to Singapore two years ago, I purchased a bag of Shama Dulhan Moghlai Mehendi henna powder from Little India. I never used it due to fear that it could damage my hair (I’m extremely risk averse when it comes to my hair). But after seeing so many YouTubers rave about the color, strength, and conditioning benefits, I finally decided to give it a try. I love using henna as a deep conditioner because from my experience, it leaves my hair feeling soft and strong. A week after dyeing my hair, I treated my hair with henna and fell in love with the results below! 🙂

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MIXING THE HENNA/ APPLICATION

The night before I applied the henna to my hair, I mixed the henna powder in a large bowl with a lot of conditioner and water, then added a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and steeped green tea. You want the mixture to have a texture similar to yogurt – not too thick or runny. I let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight to help release the pigments. The next day I applied it to my freshly washed and de-tangled hair. I wrapped it in Saran wrap and left it on for about 3 hours.

One frustrating aspect of the application process is that applying henna is extremely messy. Be sure to cover your floor with paper, clean up the mess right away, and wear an old t-shirt and disposable gloves to avoid staining issues. (I can attest to red hands and fingernails for weeks). Also, make sure you set aside enough time. I originally planned to henna my hair every week, but the process is so daunting and overwhelming. Now, I do not have a set schedule, but whenever I feel that my hair dye is starting to fade (usually every 1-3 months), I love using henna to give it an extra burst of color. 🙂

MAINTENANCE

Though I love how I look with the new hair color, I do not think sacrificing the health of my hair just to have a certain aesthetic is worth it in the long run. I had a quick stint with Manic Panic Kiss Red temporary hair dye and it left my hair feeling like straw. (I would never use that product again) Hair color is definitely fun, bold and vibrant, but I strongly believe it damages your hair. After dyeing my hair, my hair texture changed and it is very dry in the front area. That said, I am happy I finally tried it, but I do not think I will permanently dye my hair again… at least, not in the near future. Here is a picture of my hair post henna treatment and post manic panic.

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ADVICE FOR NATURALS THINKING ABOUT HAIR DYE

For those who are contemplating dyeing their hair, my number one piece of advice is to do your research before hand and assess whether it is something you think you can successfully do alone or if you should seek professional guidance. Unfortunately, salvaging damaged natural hair is difficult, so I recommend weighing the pros/cons to determine if it is worth it. For my risk averse naturalistas, highlighting a few pieces instead of your whole head is also a great way to gauge whether or not color is for you.

What are your experiences with hair color? Comment below! I would love to hear from you.

Happy growing!

Sincerely,

Miss Ije<3

Featured on The Kink and I

Hi loves,

Sorry for the lack of updates 😦 I’ve been so busy with work lately! I will try to post later this week about my hair color and my obsession with henna. On Friday, The Kink and I was kind enough to feature me as the Hairspiration! You can check out the interview here. Thanks Ekene & Mee Mee!

Sincerely,

Miss Ije ❤

Wash Day Regimen

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to post about my hair regimen and I planned to post this sooner… sorry for the delay.

Before I tell you about my regimen, I will tell you a little bit about my hair. I am 100% Nigerian and my hair is extremely coarse, nappy, kinky, coily, and wiry in its natural state. If you follow the hair typing system, I would describe it as 4c with 50%-75% shrinkage. Both my mom and my sister have thin, fine, soft hair… but somehow, I ended up with the polar opposite. I have a full head of hair; my hair is thick, dense, and super dry. Whenever I go out, people (Nigerian guys especially) ask to touch my hair. Its softness surprises them, which is a good indicator that my moisturizing techniques/ products work well for my hair. Below are two old pictures that help give you a sense of my hair’s thickness and texture.

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Regardless of what stage of your natural hair journey you are in, you should develop a hair regimen that works for you and maintain it for a few weeks or months to assess your results. Like any good experiment, you must conduct multiple tests over time. When I first big chopped, I laid out a few simple hair rules and followed them religiously. For newly naturals who recently big-chopped and are feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret. Natural hair is really easy to manage if you keep things simple. Less is definitely more. As long as you understand a few basic concepts about how hair grows and what it takes to retain length, you will have long hair before you know it.

Tips for Newly Naturals

1. Carve out a few hours every 1-2 weeks to dedicate to “Wash Day.” For me, this day is usually a Friday evening after work and usually takes 2-4 hours from start to finish. Dedicating one day to do your hair helps eliminate unnecessary manipulation during the week and promotes consistency, which leads to results. I generally wash my hair every week, or every other week depending on my schedule.
2. Find products that work for your hair. I think every regimen should contain 6 essential products: a cleansing shampoo, a detangling conditioner, deep conditioner, liquid moisturizer/ leave-in, styling product, and an oil. It is okay to be a product junkie… the only way to determine what works for your hair is to try a bunch of products. Natural hair care is all about trial and error. And what works for one person may not work for you, which is why it is important to learn your own hair.
3. Only comb your hair on wash day with a wide tooth comb when it is wet/ saturated with conditioner. Combing hair dry leads to breakage. If you must detangle during the week, gently use your fingers. It is good to develop habits that keep your hands out of your hair as much as possible.
4. Always sleep with a satin bonnet, scarf or pillow case. This will help your hair retain moisturize and prevents friction which can break your hair.


My Natural Hair Care Routine

Being natural for four years has taught me the importance of not only maintaining a consistent regimen, but also adapting it periodically to account for change. Although my hair is at a decent length now, I probably could have retained more length if I adjusted my wash regimen sooner.

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PRE-POO
The night before wash day,  I unpin my twisted undo and finger-detangle each two strand twist using coconut oil from tip to root. I combine two smaller twists into one twist, so by the time I finish this process, I have a total of 8 large twists (4 on the right side, 4 on the left). It generally takes me about 1 hour to section off my hair and detangle. If your hair is still short, you can probably skip this step.

SHAMPOO
I only recently started washing my hair in sections last month, instead of piling my hair on top of my head and massaging my scalp. Because I used to wear my hair in box braids quite often, I never had to worry about this. However, I quickly realized that once your hair passes a certain length, washing your hair stretched and in sections is essential if you want to retain length. I shampoo my hair in the shower using a lower sulfate shampoo. Although sulfate shampoos strip moisture from your hair, I prefer shampoos with sulfates because I like my scalp to be squeaky clean. Since I have acne prone skin, I do not like product buildup or residue left from co-washing (“washing” hair with conditioner) lingering on my face. I use a quarter sized amount on each section and massage it through my scalp. I let the shampoo run through the entire length of the twist as I rinse and repeat for all 8 twists.

CONDITIONING
After shampooing, I step out of the shower to condition my hair. I unravel one twist, lather with conditioner, finger-detangle and re-twist. Because I also finger-detangle the night before, this step lets me catch any shed hairs I may have missed during the pre-poo. It is important to detangle your hair thoroughly and remove all shed hairs, so that they do not snag other hairs and cause tangles/ breakage. I repeat this process for all 8 twists, then rinse thoroughly in the shower.

DEEP CONDITIONING
I use either a moisture or protein based conditioner depending on my hair needs… sometimes I rotate weekly. I apply the deep conditioner to each twist and then sit under my Heutiful Hair Steamer for 20-40 minutes. In my opinion, this step is not necessary, however, I love the way it makes my hair feel… whether or not it actually makes a difference is questionable. Days when I do not feel like steaming my hair, I simply cover it with a shower cap and let it sit for an hour before rinsing.

STYLING
After rinsing the deep conditioner out, I proceed to style my hair. I start by blotting my hair with a t-shirt instead of a towel (there is definitely a difference. I didn’t believe it at first, but the t-shirt method does not snag my hair or create frizz). I use the L.O.C Method to moisturize my hair. If you’re not familiar with this method, there is a ton of information about it online, so I won’t describe it in detail. In summary, it stands for liquid or leave-in, oil, cream and helps to maximize moisture retention. First I apply my favorite leave-in to damp hair, then I apply coconut oil, and lastly, I apply my cream, which is usually a hair milk or butter. I split each of the 8 sections into 2 two strand twists so that I end up with a total of 16 twists. I also apply a dime sized amount of castor oil on the ends of each twist. I pin the twists into an up-do that protects the ends and repeat the entire process weekly. (This is part of my “No Puff September Challenge”)

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I’m hoping that this new regimen helps me minimize breakage on wash day while maximizing length retention during the week. If you are feeling discouraged or need help creating a regimen, feel free to email me at ije.curltivate@gmail.com and I’ll gladly help!

Happy growing!

Sincerely,
Miss Ije ❤

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Natural Hair Tag

211. Why did you start taking better care of your hair?
I started taking better care of my hair out of necessity. When you think about how much time and money women with afro-textured hair spend on styling their hair (which often times is damaged and unhealthy) the return on the investment does not make sense. I had my first chemical relaxer when I was five years old and over the years, my hair has faced so many challenges. I realized that in the long run, learning how to take care of your hair is more beneficial and sustainable. I would love to see more Black and African women gaining a sense of independence and self sufficiency when it comes to hair care.
2. What are your 2 favorite hair products?
My two favorite hair products are (1) Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner/ Detangler and (2) Tropic Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I have seen both of these products work wonders on so many different hair textures, so I highly recommend trying them.
3. Whose hair did you admire as a child?
I always loved long, straight hair… never had a hair crush.
4. What is your ultimate goal length?
Hmm, I’m not sure. I want long hair, but I never set a target length… All of these acronyms, APL, BSL, waist length, floor length, to-the-moon-and-back length, etc. are overwhelming. I recently learned about the terminal length concept, the idea that everyone has a genetically predetermined growth rate which limits how much length they can attain before their hair sheds. Given that it is fairly difficult to determine terminal length, rather than setting an unrealistic and unattainable length goal, I am working towards retaining as much length as I can, given my constraints.
5. How are you going to celebrate when you reach your ultimate goal length?
Take a selfie? 🙂
6. Two styles you want to try at your goal length?
Not sure.
7. Which do you prefer: Health or Length?
Definitely health, although the two complement each other. If health is your first priority, length will follow naturally.
8. Which do you prefer: hair ties with no metal parts or butterfly clips?
A combination of both! Both tools are great to keep hair away while detangling.
9. What products do you prefer: salon brands, organic brands, BSS brands, Drugstore brands, or other?
I prefer drugstore brands for many reasons.
  1. I am very frugal and do not like spending a lot of money on my hair. I usually opt for the cheaper drugstore shampoos/ conditioners so that I can splurge a little bit more on styling products that keep my hair well moisturized.
  2. I also have very sensitive skin, so my dermatologist recommended that I avoid products in their raw/ organic forms such as Shea butter/ extra virgin olive oil. Strangely, I’ve noticed that my hair also reacts better to products that are highly processed.
  3. There are way too many natural hair products these days. From multinational corporations to mom & pop brands online… to your refrigerator, there is way too much choice. I try not to feed into all of the commercialization and use whatever works for my hair… I think everyone should do the same.
10. Which product/technique do you think is over-rated?
The beer rinse, which “reverts” heat damaged hair. I have seen some ridiculous videos of people on YouTube performing this technique and have yet to see it perform the miracles that people claim.
11. Which product/technique do you think is under-rated?
Mini-twists, up-dos, and protective styles that do not require weaves, wigs or extensions. I think there are a lot of beautiful protective styles that we can achieve using our own natural hair.
12. What is your favorite part of your hair regimen?
My favorite part of my hair regimen is styling! I love letting my creativity flow and expressing my personality through my hair. My hair is definitely my best accessory.
13. What is the most annoying part of your hair regimen?
Detangling is frustrating at times, but there are a few things you can do to make the process more seamless.
14. Oils or Butters?
Generally, neither… although my hair has been reacting really well to Coconut Oil and Jamaican Black Castor Oil lately.
15. Buns or Ponytails?
Puffs!!
16. Wigs or Weaves?
Box braids!!
17. What is your opinion of growth aids?
I believe that the most sustainable way to “grow” your hair is to master a technique that helps you retain maximum length. However, I will try Hairfinity for 30 days and will review my progress along the way, just for kicks.
18. At what length do you consider hair long?
Length is relative. All else equal, everyday my hair is longer than it was the day before. As long as I am retaining length, it’s long!
19. When is the last time you visited a salon?
My last salon visit was in April 2014 when I had my hair dyed. Before that, it was December 2013 when I had my hair straightened. Any other time I’ve been to the salon was to install braids/weave. I generally stay away from salons, except in those few circumstances when I needed it styled professionally. No one knows my hair better than me, so I prefer to do it myself.
20. What do you like to surf most often: YouTube channels, personal blogs, or hair forums?
At different points in my natural journey I have surfed all three. When I first went natural, YouTube was my primary source of information, but now I’m really interested in reading blogs.
21. And finally, what piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out on their hair journey?
Your hair journey is your journey and it is unique to you. You should use any information you see online directionally, not as a be-all, end all. Unfortunately, studying natural hair is relatively new and based on trial and error. That said, don’t be afraid to try new products/ techniques and really take some time to learn your own hair! And don’t forget to share your knowledge with others along the way, so that we can continue improving hair growth within the natural hair community!
Tag! You’re it…
** thank you to Gugulethugraphy for the beautiful picture.
Sincerely,
Miss Ije ❤

No Puff September

Hi Loves,

Happy September! I cannot believe that summer is over and we are already three quarters into 2014! I recently decided that this month will be “No Puff September.” Four years into my natural hair journey and I think I finally hit the dreaded “natural hair plateau,” often referred to as “the shoulder-length plateau.” …that point in your hair journey when you reach a standstill and feel like you are no longer retaining length.

At all stages of my natural hair journey, I have worn afro puffs. They are definitely my favorite hairstyle because they are so simple yet versatile. My routine after washing/ conditioning my hair is usually a two strand twist out turned into some variation of a puff. I’ve tried high puffs, medium puffs, half puffs, side puffs, pompadours and puffs… all kinds of puffs.
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I generally do not measure my hair from month to month, or year to year, but I realized that it is finally time for me to part with this hairstyle if I want to continue to reach my natural hair goals (which I will speak about in a later post). While I think puffs are a great style for all naturals, they should be worn with caution due to the following reasons:

The Headache from Hell

If you double/ triple your headbands around your head so that they are extremely tight and hold your hair in place, chances are, after a few hours you will probably develop some discomfort or a headache due to the strain it causes to your scalp. Sadly I am guilty of enduring pain for hours just to achieve a certain sleek style. To avoid this issue, you can use loosely tied scarves instead of elastic bands.

Tension on Edges

The length of your hair partially determines the position where your headband rests. If you have shorter hair, the headband will most likely sit around your temples or closer to your forehead. If you have longer hair, you have more freedom to wear the headband further from your forehead which alleviates the pressure felt on your head. A few months into my natural hair journey I was so eager to wear puffs. But because my hair was pretty short, I wore my headbands right behind my ears. I quickly noticed that this caused bald spots and breakage on the right/ left sides of my temples due to too much pressure on the same location, so I definitely recommend switching up the location of your puffs and wearing them occasionally if you must.

Hand in Hair Syndrome/ Tangles

If you are like me and sit at a desk all day, you will probably find yourself randomly playing in your hair. Since the tips are the oldest, weakest parts along the hair shaft, constantly touching them can cause breakage. And when you wear your hair freely in styles that permit the hair strands to coil around each other, you will encounter a mass of tangles/ single strand knots on wash day. Instead of wearing puffs every day, wearing your hair in two strand twists during the week and freely the last few days before wash day can help minimize these issues.

These are some of the challenges I have faced lately with afro puffs, so I am going to see if I can survive a month without them. Though this information is not new, sometimes you need a friendly reminder to break bad habits. If you have any tips for how to balance wearing puffs, leave them below!

Happy growing!

Sincerely,

Miss Ije ❤

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