Category Archives: My Albatross

My Albatross: Darker Than Brown’s Edges

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Nneka1by Nneka of Darker Than Brown (dtb)

Hey Shelli,

It’s me Nneka. I’m finally sending in this story that has been sitting half finished on my computer for many months. :( I want to talk about my hair albatross, which is length retention at my edges. Since childhood, I have had “issues” with my edges.

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For some reason, my mother was never able to retain much hair in those two areas of my head. In fact, growing up, I swore everyone had edges like mine. Around grade school, where I was teased for having peaszy edges (sp), I started to realize that was not the case. We all know kids can be vicious at that age!

I was grateful when my mother began to chemically relax my hair, because it appeared the problem had corrected itself. Imagine my disbelief when I started my natural hair journey, only to realize how bad off my edges still were. Don’t get me wrong, I do have hair there. But, the first two inches into my hairline is extremely short. Looks like I get it buzzed at a barber shop, but I do not. Of course, my high school micro dot/braids faze didn’t help matters much. I would get a skilled girlfriend, to “catch” the small amount of hair, and tightly hang human hair around it. Then I had that short, but detrimental lace front wig obsession.

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Now, I want my edges back, and I am open to suggestions. I have tried just leaving them alone and that didn’t work. I tried messaging both areas with regular castor oil for two months … and that didn’t works. Then I tried massaging the area with Jamaican black castor oil … and no, that didn’t work either. I think the area needs moisture. It does look excessively dry. I have started a new challenge on my blog. I will spray my edges 2 times per day and then seal with a thick sealant. Other than that, I don’t know what to do. Part of me believes it may just be hereditary and there’s nothing I can do. However, the vain girl deep down in me, can’t just let it go.

Can you or your readers be of any help?

Nneka2

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Hey Nneka!! First, sorry it took me a month to get this up lady!! Second, I saw your Natural Hair Style Icon story on BGLH a little while ago!!! Awesome!! You looked gorgeous! Third, I just checked out the recent posts on your site to see how you are doing with your planned regimen. I see that you recently got a significant cut that removed damaged hair, are using a hand-held steamer a minimum of three times a week to instill and lock moisture into your hair, and are moisturizing your “sitch-eeation” nightly ;)! I also saw that you used sulfate shampoos in the past and are now co-washng instead. So, it sounds like you are on the right path to retaining moisture (though I would suggest using a sulfate free shampoo at least once a month to cleanse your scalp).

In regard to additional advice, as you indicated above, your thin edges might be genetic. But, when has that ever stopped us from trying to beat Mother Nature ;)? If you know that your hair hasn’t been properly moisturized in the past, I don’t think it’s a confirmed fact that your shorter edges are at their terminal length. Also, if the strands are fine/fragile and you have been tugging/stressing them with extensions, weaves, braids, wigs, hair accessories, hair tools like brushes or combs, they may have not had a chance to be all that they can be.

That being said, here are a few things that you might be able to add to your arsenal:

  • Deep condition weekly with a moisturizing conditioner using my Cool & Seal Deep Conditioning Trick (you may want to use lukewarm water rather than cool/cold as it seems you may have low porosity hair). Also, check out my post, Moisturized Hair: It Starts on Wash Day.
  • If wearing a protective style, do not pull your fine edges into braids or weaves and protect them with an appropriate cap if using wigs.
  • Watch the edges of your satin bonnets. If your bonnet is moving around on your head at night, the elastic may be putting stress on your edges and breaking off your hair. So, try wearing a silk scarf under the bonnet or instead of a bonnet to protect your edges. If you find a scarf doesn’t work, some find that wearing their bonnets inside out preserves their edges. Or, you can may want to ditch the bonnet and opt for using a silk/satin pillowcase instead.
  • Try massaging Wild Growth Hair Oil or the essential oil mix found here into your edges 3 days a week for 30 days and see if you notice any improvements.

Good luck lady and I hope to read/hear good news from you soon!!

Now I’m turning it over to you ladies!! Have thin edges been your albatross? Were you able to successfully grow perpetually short edges? If so, what did you do to regrow them? The cry for help has been raised!! 

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Coral’s Haircut

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Just wanted to share this short FB message from Coral in the hopes that it might help others.

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I wanted to share my story with you! I got a great haircut last night after two years! I’d had my hair pressed by a Dominican woman that left me with such heat damage that I completely abandoned heat of any kind. I babied my hair by taking an all natural approach, with exception of my Black Soap and HEHH Condish. And I lived in protective styles, hoping that the curls on the left side of my head, which had been reduced to waves, would a. be restored (which I knew was not likely, but I dreamed about it) or b. grow out from the heat damage.

Well they grew out!!! And, after having countless hair stylists look at me like I was speaking gibberish or try to talk me into having my hair heat pressed, so that they could cut it evenly (to make it easier for them but more damage for me) when i asked for a wet cut, I FINALLY found someone to do what I asked. I don’t know what’s wrong with some of these hair stylists, because when I learned to cut hair, it was wet. So, I don’t know why so many of them can’t/won’t do it. But, I can’t do it myself anymore, because it’s too long.

So Affisha (Afeesha?) at the Hair Cuttery on Cityline Avenue here in Philly will be trimming my ends from now on. I think that she did an awesome job handling my hair. And I’m so grateful that I found her.

Heat damage sucked bad … but I’m so glad that I’m over that hump. grinI’m really enjoying the ease of handling that a good cut brings. No more tangling! I love sharing info with other naturals and a lot of the naturals I know don’t even realize they have a wet cut as an option.  Oh … and I’ll add a suggestion to  ask the stylist to use a light detangler in wet hair so that the comb slides easily … some may not know to request this and may be turned off if the stylist doesn’t know and tugs too much on their tresses.

Have a lovely day………be inspired!!

Coral

Faking the Funk

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Oh yeah, I’m faking it. You see, yesterday, I washed my hair in the morning, applied kimmatube leave-in and set my hair in 6 twists for the two hour drive to my Trenton office. I released the twists while my hair was still damp and allowed it to dry the rest of the day. After work, I pulled the front back into the mini-poof (I wore it parted down the middle all day).

It was looking all lion’s mane big (the pictures aren’t doing the volume justice) and I was loving it. I LOVE big hair! It also had a mostly consistent wave pattern, shine and defintion … until … dum dum DUUUUUUM!!!

Well, what the?!?! It’s like a different head of hair! LOL! Actually, this isn’t news to me. If you’ve been around here a while, you’ve “heard” me talk about the four different textures on my head, the coarsest, kinkiest, most delicate, porous, breakage and frizz-prone of which is my crown.

Comparison of front hair to the crown.

I actually love the texture of my crown, as this is where I get the lushest twists. However, that hair definitely presents challenges due to its porosity and delicacy. Also, having a large section in the middle of your head with a more pronounced shrinkage rate than your front and nape produces a “unique” rear view when you’re trying to wear a WnG.

I use the hair that forms the poof to camouflage/blend the two textures, but not much can be done for the gappiness. Don’t get me wrong, the crown is also shorter, which contributes to the appearance of the perimeter (recently read this post on BGLH that indicates shorter hair in the crown causes this “W” shape). But, the shrinkage is also a significant factor … I think … I hope!

So yeah, just wanted to show you all that it’s not all peaches and cream over here. I definitely have my challenges … most recently?  I’ve been struggling with nasty little knots during my last two washes and have had to resort to using a pin to loosen several little buggers … and scissors on a couple of occasions too :(! I’m really hoping that this recent turn in events is only due to the first post twist wash session and bad bunning of 3 day old hair last week. I think that I had more trapped shed hair than normal (my daily shedding is almost non-existent now). Guess we’ll see on my next wash day. I sealed my hair with a JBCO/EVOO mix and then set it in nine twists with a little Wonder Curl Get Set Jelly to stretch it. I plan to wear it out today and bun the right way the rest of the week. So, keeping my fingers crossed that my next detangling sessions will go a lot more smoothly than the last two!

Anyway, back to the crazy texture difference. This is Why TnCs Are My Friend ;)!!

(ETA: Check out how a TnC saved the day again here.)

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Are you challenged with significantly different textures? How many and where? How do you manage them?

I Knew It!!

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Okay, if you’ve been around here a while, you know that I have repeatedly indicated that my hair used to be denser and curlier and I think that it has changed a lot. I think it began changing in my mid-thirties and the henna really pushed the loosening over the edge and amla caused crazy shedding (which I’m still not sure is totally under control). Well, I finally have the proof. My sister Shana dug up some old pictures from a couple of years after my BC. She used to have a hair journal on Geocities (remember that?!?) called blakgirl’s nappy journal. She decided to include me in her blogging by creating something she called skill’s mini nappy journal. Well, as you may know, Geocities “foreclosed” many, many moons ago and my sister thought her journals were lost to world wide web purgatory. But yesterday, she pulled them from the void and sent me a link to the archived blog!! It included pics and some pretty funny comments about me being uncooperative with taking pics and helping her document my journey. This is pretty hilarious in light of my obsession now!! Well, without further ado, here are pics of my hair from August 2002, when I was 30 and two years after my BC (I had about 6 inches of hair when I chopped, I guess).

I frickin' had waves back then! And a puff!! A puff y'all!! Seriously, this hurts my feelings.

Twisting my hair. Do you see how full they are and how thick the other side is?

My hair was all twisted. This illustrates the difference in my curl pattern and shrinkage rates. It also illustrates that I was not trying to take pics.

Twist out. Shana said I was being uncooperative and probably watching Friends.

She takes credit for introducing me to the twist out. But, I was doing braid 'n curls in college on relaxed hair.

This was an early style experiment. I made big coils on my damp/wet hair with CD's Healthy Hair Butter and maybe some gel?

Once dry, I began separating the sections into smaller sections, recoiling those sections of hair.

This was the final result. Do you SEE how curly my hair was back then? *sigh* I also was growing out damaging highlights. I tried them on relaxed hair, they were a no go. I tried them on natural hair, still a no go.

I think my curls were very similar to Cree Summers back then and I loved them.

Now, just so you can compare. This pic is from 2008. See how much my curls have loosened? This is 2 years prior to henna, so that has nothing to do with it.

After seeing these pics, I made the following comment on Rece’s blog.

It really makes me a little ill to see how much my hair has changed:(. I know that everyone just sees loose waves and long hair, but I know that my hair was thicker and curlier and seeing the change just forebodes more thinning and straightening:(. I really want to have a child, so my only hope is that the pregnancy hormones might make my hair curly again … but then, the post-partum shedding will probably make me bald!! Ughhh, I fear that I’ll look like the Crypt Keeper!!! You know, this guy!!

*sigh*

My Albatross: Irregular Curl Pattern or Why TnCs Are My Friend

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So, the pics I posted of my WnG yesterday didn’t really tell the whole story of my hair and its multiple curl patterns. You see, I took several photos. One set was for the JessiCurl product review that was posted earlier today. The second set included a full face on shot and multiple detail shots to demonstrate the significant difference in the curl patterns on my left and right side. These differences were camouflaged by the shadows in the video and the angles in the photos I posted. But, face on, it’s hard to deny. The hair in the back of my head is also two different patterns, tightly curly, denser, more fragile, coarse, dry and porous at the crown to about the half way point on the back of my head. Then, almost straight, very shiny, smooth and baby-hair fine at my nape. I have struggled with getting my hair cut into a flattering shape that accounts for all of the textures without having 4 different lengths. Put your hair over one half of my head and then do the same to the other side. Two different heads of hair. I’m sure you didn’t need to do that, but I find it an entertaining exercise. LOL!!

Left side

Right side

Left side detail

Right side detail

(I’ll have to show you the back another time. Though, I must admit, the irregularity in the back has been greatly improved due to henna. Since I don’t henna the nape, it has remained the same, but the repeated henna on the crown area has loosened those curls enough to make them blend more with the nape hair than they ever did in the past. My hair almost … ALMOST … looks even in the back in a WnG.)

And this is why curl uniforming TnCs are my friend.

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Do you have significantly different curl patterns or textures throughout your head of hair? How do you work them? What techniques or style do you use, if any, to create uniformity and/or a balanced style?

My Albatross

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I was thinking about how most of us have or have had hair challenges at some point in our journey. Even those with the most FANTABULOUS heads of hair, worthy of the hair envy and hair crushes of the natural masses, have probably struggled with some problem area or hair issue at some point in their natural HairStory (i.e. dryness, breakage, split ends, inconsistent curls, sections of hair that refuse to curl, heat damage, etc.). They had to figure it out and find a way to overcome their problem. Then, there are those who are in the midst of their struggle, madly searching for solutions. So, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have a category of HairStories related to hair challenges, past and present? These HairStories could be the platform for those looking for solutions to their most troublesome of hair problems and for others who’d like to share how they solved their worse hair issues in hopes of helping others.

Well then, I had to come up with a name for these HairStories. First I thought, “Challenges” then “Struggles.” But neither had a ring. Then the word albatross popped into my head. I know a few of you are probably saying, “Huh? Alba-waaa?!?!” LOL=). There’s a poem entitled the The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It’s about a mariner who shoots an albatross and is obliged to carry the burden of the bird hung around his neck as a punishment for and reminder of his ill deed. Now, although some may believe going natural is an “ill deed,” I take exception with that idea. However, I do find Merriam-Webster’s definition of albatross apropos for my purposes:

b : something that greatly hinders accomplishment : encumbrance.”

With that said:

What has hindered the achievement of your hair goals and how did you get Your Albatross off from around your neck?

or

If Your Albatross is still hanging heavy and burdensome, what is it and what have you tried to remove it? Maybe we can help! 

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Send your “My Albatross” HairStory to hairscapades@gmail.com. If you solved or are in the midst of resolving your problem, 2-4 before and after pics would be great. If you are looking for a solution to your problem, a couple of pictures that demonstrate the issue would be helpful too!

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