Daily Archives: June 28, 2011

My Albatross


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?


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


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!





When I decided to get myself together in January this year, I didn’t go hard like I usually do. I avoided that approach as it inevitably ends in me falling off of the wagon due to burnout. I’d regain about 10-12 pounds and would then get my a@#$ back in gear, with resultant yo-yoing every year. (A word to the wise, it’s a lot easier to stay in shape then it is to get back into it. This fact becomes truer and more self-evident the older you get.)

So, this time around, I really took my time losing the weight. I didn’t eat “clean” every weekend. I love desserts, particularly buttercream. No, not cake, though I don’t mind that. I’ve had them both a few times over the last 6 months;). I didn’t work-out for 2 to 2 1/2 hours 5-6 days a week. I didn’t work out for an entire week 2 weeks ago. I didn’t hit the gym hardcore for daily weight and cardio sessions. In fact, I completely switched up what I’d been doing the last two decades of my life (off and on). I was a person who thought she could NEVER exercise at home. My whole mindset was, “Once I get home, that’s it, I’m done!” But finding the time to pack my gym bag every morning before work, along with my lunch bag and lugging it in and out of the house, in and out of the gym and the time added due to travel, changing at the gym, unpacking, etc. had become tedious.

Then, in January, I saw this KinkyShea Healthy and Fitness post on CurlyNikki.com about exercising with Kettlebells. Coincidentally, my mother had given me a small 3 pound kettlebell for Christmas, but I knew nothing about using it. The article said that kettlebell enthusiasts claimed that this cast iron bell was all one needed to increase strength, endurance and aerobic capacity in a limited amount of time. The thing is, tests proved it!  My interest was piqued by the potential efficiency and comprehensiveness of kettlebell workouts. So, I wanted to learn more. And I did. In February, I purchased a 10 lb. bell from Marshall’s and Angie Miller’s Kettlebell Bootcamp DVD from Walmart. I also purchased some exercise mats and a cheap DVD player from Amazon and set up a little home gym in the unfinished half of my basement.

My first three kettlebell workouts had me laid out on the floor and sitting in a chair huffing and puffing. I couldn’t even make it through the entire workout the first time. I had to just sit and watch a couple of the segments while I warded off a heart attack!! 30 minutes after my first, half-aborted kettlebell workout, I finally caught my breath!  It wasn’t that much better the second and third go-rounds! But that fourth workout? The workout after I went away on vacation and went to the local gyms and felt like I was killing it on the treadmill after struggling with running for three months? Yeah, that following workout? I knew I was ready to graduate to a 15 lb. bell. I made this fact be known to my good friends and, for my birthday in March, I received the Bob Harber GoFit 15 lb. contour bell. NICE!!!!

Well, the rest is history. I’ve been working out in my basement ever since with my kettlebell, the Powerbody  Brazil Butt Lift DVD series and the treadmill (which, prior to this year, was used the number of times I can count on one hand). I also incorporate hot yoga (which I LOVE) at a nearby yoga studio 2 days a week. I’ve been mixing up the Angie Miller DVD routine with Bob Harper’s shorter, 30 minute tutorial (which is still intense, especially after interval training on the treadmill). I have definitely seen rapid improvements in my strength, endurance and aerobic capacity with regular kettlebell workouts (2-3 days a week). However, I have come to realize that Angie Miller’s form is not the best when it comes to swings (she leans over when the torso should remain straight as when doing squats). So, I’ve done a little research and want to purchase the highly rated Lauren Brooks’ Ultimate Body Sculpt and Conditioning with Kettlebells DVD. It’s been sitting in my Amazon cart for FOREVER! But, think I’ll purchase it once I do the Rugged Maniac on July 9th and am not running as much.

Have you tried exercising with Kettlebells?  If so, what has your experience been like?

(Check out My Current Regimen if you want to learn more about my diet and exercise regimen.)

Henna and Me – Shelli’s HairStory


(Post 2nd henna; May 2010; First attempt at a TnC)

How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural for 11 years now.

How long have you been using henna? When did you start?
I began using henna around May of 2010, so for a little over a year.

What made you begin using henna?
A friend recommended CurlyNikki.com to me as she indicated Nikki had hair that was similar to mine. She thought I might enjoy the site. Wow, was that an understatement!! I started visiting the site in February of 2010. I was blown away by Nikki’s hair! It was so lush, voluminous, shiny and defined. It also had a great shape and consistent curls. I read her post, I’m a Henna Head, on the benefits of henna. Then, I began to read every post she had on henna. I was especially interested in the strengthening, thickening and conditioning claims. After three months of research and growing intrigue, I bit the bullet and ordered my first six boxes of Jamila henna from Mehandi.com. Yeah, when I go, I go hard;). Nikki indicated that henna has a cumulative effect and it takes three treatments to see appreciable thickening and strengthening. She also stated that when she began using henna, she did weekly treatments in order to get these benefits as quickly as possible. So, who was I to question perfection;-)?

How would you describe your first experience with henna?
I’ll admit, I was very nervous as the process seemed involved, messy, long and overwhelming. But, I was well prepared. I’d watched Nikki’s video tutorial repeatedly. I had my old towels, plastic gloves, bonnet dryer, plastic spoon, bowl, green tea, honey, Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm and HE HH. I was ready to go. I made a little bit of a mess the first time  around, but most of it was caught by the old towels. My hands got a little tinged by the rinsing process. However, the rinsing was easier than I expected. 

What type of henna do you use? Where do you purchase it?
Currently, I use Jamila and Dulhan. I get Jamila online from Mehandi.com and Dulhan from my local Indian grocer, Patel Brothers, for $1.49!! I usually mix a batch using both to make my Jamila go further. I also use indigo that I purchase from Mehandi.com. I use indigo on the back half of my head in a two-step henna/indigo process. I love the way the henna turns my grey hair into fiery red highlights in the front. However, I think it makes my head look patchy if I allow it to stay red in the back. That’s why I use indigo on the back.

(Post 3rd henna; June 2010; WnG)

What is your mix? What is your process?
My mix and process have changed over the year that I’ve been using henna. Initially, I did “Conditioning Henna Treatments” as Nikki called her first attempt at a henna gloss. For the first several months, I mixed about 1 cup of the Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm into dye released Jamila henna. I mixed about 100/150g henna with about 1 1/2 cups of warm green tea and a tablespoon or two of honey (I didn’t measure). I’d let that sit 12 hours and then I would apply it to co-washed hair. Now, I tend to alternate between a full strength henna on my roots only (except my nape hair, which is almost straight) and a full length gloss, both done on dry hair. I only do a full strength henna on my roots now as henna significantly loosened my curls when I was applying it religiously and repeatedly to the full length of my hair. I realize now that I only need to do about three treatments on new hair and then just gloss the length during that application or a couple of weeks later. I currently tend to mix 100g Jamila, 100g Dulhan, 1 1/2 to 2 cups warm brewed green tea (3-4 teabags) and a tablespoon or two of honey. As I only do my roots, this is usually enough for two applications. So, after dye release, I’ll split the batch and freeze one half of it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Frozen/thawed henna provides more intense color/dye uptake. Bonus, I don’t have to repeat the mixing and dye release waiting the next time. I just take the frozen henna out of the freezer a day or two before I want to use it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. If  I don’t think too far ahead, I let it sit on the counter in a bowl to thaw.

Once I’ve applied the henna to my whole head (in 6 sections, 3 on each side; working from back to front on each side), I wrap my hair in plastic wrap and don a plastic cap. Normally, I’ll let the henna sit in my hair for 4 hours, 2 under my bonnet dryer on the warm setting. After four hours, I rinse the henna in the shower using HE HH. Then, I mix a small batch of indigo with lukewarm water and a dash or two of salt and apply it to the back half of my head. I’ll let that sit for at least an hour (sometimes with heat, sometimes without) and then I rinse the indigo and apply my DC of choice (usually JessiCurl Weekly Deep Treatment or Darcy’s Botanical Pumpkin Seed Curl Moisturizing Conditioner; I tried SM Raw Shea DT Masque one time and I wouldn’t recommend it post henna as it doesn’t have enough slip). I leave my DC in anywhere from an hour to overnight. I let my hair cool for about 15 minutes. Then, I apply a diluted daily conditioner (Aussie Moist or HE HH) over my DC, rinse well with cool/cold water and then I’m ready to style.

How often do you henna?
I try to henna once a month, but sometimes go longer if I don’t have the time to do it. I try not to go longer than 8 weeks though. My goal is to do a full strength henna on my roots once a month and a henna gloss two weeks later. That hasn’t happened yet! LOL! What I do usually do is mix the henna left over after a root application with a lot of Conditioning Balm and gloss the length of my hair so that I get the full strength on my roots and the gloss on my length in one sitting. 

(Status ??? henna [I’d lost count]; Aug 2010; TnC)

How has your hair changed with henna?
Repeated applications of henna loosened my curls into waves, which wasn’t an effect I was seeking. But, other than that, henna has improved my hair in every way. I do believe that my hair is stronger, smoother, less porous and, therefore, less frizzy. I believe that my individual strands are thicker, but I don’t think henna has made my whole head of hair look more voluminous. My favorite thing about the changes henna has generated is the intense red of my grey hair and the overall color and shine.

How do you feel about henna and the process now?
The hardest part is making the time, but I enjoy it now. It’s like a spa day for myself and I get to watch TV or work on my blogs=).

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying henna?
First, do your research. Read everything you can about henna to decide if it’s right for you and so that you understand all the things you need to do to protect your hair and obtain the best results (i.e. ALWAYS deep condition with a moisturizing, cone free conditioner after henna). Second, be mindful that what works for others may not work for you. I was using amla to try to retain my curl pattern. I continued to use it despite noticing significant itching during the process. My head almost NEVER itches. After four months of this and what I believe was a significant increase in shedding, I faced the fact that my scalp did not like amla. I might have saved some hair if I’d listened to my scalp and accepted this issue earlier. I also might have preserved more of my natural curl pattern if I’d stopped doing full head applications sooner.

Anything else that you’d like to add?
I love henna!! The amla reaction and the curl loosening are issues I could have ameliorated or eliminated if I’d used a little more common sense. So, despite those challenges, I think using henna has been one of the best things I’ve done for my hair. So, if you’re interested in trying it, do your research, be prepared and go for it!

(Febuary 2011; Finally achieved the CurlyNikki!!; TnC)