Daily Archives: October 25, 2011

Why I Went Natural: KaiRox146’s HairStory

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Do you guys remember the absolutely stunning KaiRox146? I shared her video tutorial for a fabulous flexi rod set back in June (Dang! Was it that long ago?!?!). Well, at the time, I asked her for her HairStory and she graciously sent it to me! So, here it is!

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As a child, I always wore my hair with parts and ponytails. My mother would wrap ballies around my ponytails, two-strand twist and place matching barrettes on the ends. Around middle school, the multiple ponytails merged into a single ponytail without any barrettes or ballies. Then, when I started high school, I decided I wanted a relaxer. I thought that I was grown-up at this point and wanted my hair to swang. I wanted to wear it straight and bumped under. I really thought that was the ultimate look. So, I begged my mother to let me get a relaxer! Although, she was very reluctant, she agreed.  She knew how persistent I was and she also wanted me to be happy. So, we booked an appointment and I was thrilled! The day came, I got my relaxer and I was on cloud nine. I would flat-iron it, curl it and style it in numerous ways. I loved my hair. Not to mention, it was very long.  I continued to get my roots relaxed, or touched up, every six weeks for the next six years.

After a while, I began to notice that my hair seemed to be getting thinner than it once was and my ends were a little straggly from time to time. I began to wonder why this was occurring, but I didn’t really do anything to remedy the situation at that time. Then, in 2006, I came to the realization that I didn’t really like the way my hair was styled when I would get it done in the salon. It was always too straight, too limp, too blah. To me, it looked to be rather lifeless. Not to mention that, by this point, I was growing so tired of getting my hair relaxed. I began to hate the smell of relaxer, the burn, the open raw feeling of neutralizer being applied at the shampoo bowl. The burning began to cause some minor hair loss around my hairline. A few weeks after a touch up, these burned areas would morph into stubbly patches that would irritate me to no end as the hair in those areas would resurface. However, none of this stood in the way of me reporting to the salon every six weeks to get it done.

One day, in 2008, I was sitting in my stylist’s chair when I had an epiphany. It all started when my stylist (who was also the owner) allowed a barber to set up shop in the very next station next to hers. Now, prior to this, all of the clients in this salon were women as well as all of the stylists. So, I’m sitting there with my hair prepped for my touch up while a man is getting his hair cut. This particular man began to stare a hole into my head. I felt so uncomfortable getting my hair done with a man staring at me. Meanwhile, on my other side, in the next station, a woman with loosely curled natural hair is getting it blown out straight. I began to wish that I, too, were just getting a blow out. Looking back on it, I guess there was an element of shame in getting a relaxer in public, right in front of this unknown man. To me, it was like a public declaration that, “Yes, the natural structural make-up of my hair is flawed and needs this treatment (relaxer),” while the loosely curled hair of woman sitting next to me has hair that doesn’t need this treatment and she can simply have her hair styled. I believe that the relaxer itself and the act of getting a relaxer have a certain connotation to it, a connotation that links it to one having bad hair.

I knew there was nothing inherently wrong with my hair and I decided that fateful day in the salon that I was no longer going to subject my hair to this process again. I didn’t like the relaxer itself, didn’t care for my so-called styled results, didn’t care to have a man witness the whole process, and I absolutely didn’t care to watch how lovely of a salon experience I could have if I only had a looser texture of hair. So, after that day, I decided I would never get a relaxer again, and I didn’t. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I would do with it next. So, I would just wash, blow dry and flat-iron it. It was pretty simple.  Then as time went on and my new growth began to take over, I decided to chop off the remaining relaxed ends. During this time, I had done some research on naturally curly hair and I believed I was well versed enough to care for my hair and I never looked back. I love my hair now and all of the things I can do with it. Natural hair is beautiful and so full of versatility. I am now a huge natural hair enthusiast and I don’t miss a thing about that “creamy crack.”

Connect with me on: Youtube at Kairox146  and Twitter @KaiRoxCurls

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Gorgeous, isn’t she? And her beauty is not just skin deep ! Check out KaiRox’s YouTube Channel for tons of videos on her regimen, products, techniques, etc!

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Mixing Patterns

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I’ve been wanting to do some more fashion related posts and took pics of an outfit that I love to wear a couple of weeks ago. I’m a serious clothes and shoe horse (are you at all surprised given my propensity for PJism?) and may one day take pictures of my closets … yes plural … to reveal my issues. I’m also a bit obsessive about my closets and drawers in that things are organized by color and type of clothing and the color of the hangers even. My stuff can be all over the place in my room, on chairs, chests, hanging on dressers, doors, etc. But, once it’s in the closet, it better be in the right place and on the right color hanger or I get really annoyed (to which my youngest sister can attest). I think this is just a factor of the fact that I have so many clothes and I picture what I want to wear in my head while getting ready each day. I know exactly where everything is and can quickly get to it.

Anywho, what I hope to do is share some little fashion tips that I’ve picked up over the years. I don’t really read fashion magazines, but Lucky used to be my junk! Back in the day, it was a great source of ideas (not so much anymore :(.). I also think I’ve always expressed my creative/artistic side through fashion, so I often put things together that make people say, “I would have never thought to wear that together, but it looks awesome,” “You’re in the wrong profession! You should be a stylist,” or “I could never pull that off, but you look great!” I did want to be a fashion designer at one time (and have the sketches to prove it). But, regretfully, I never learned to sew despite the fact that my mom was an amazing seamstress, whipping outfits out of remnant fabric and old curtains for my sisters and me! She would make her own patterns out of brown paper bags! So stupid for not learning that from her when I had the chance. Oh well, let’s move on!

To get to the point of this post, just wanted to share a little tidbit about mixing patterns. Many people are afraid to do this because they believe it will look loud or uncoordinated or … you know … just tacky. But there are a few of very easy ways to mix patterns. And here they are!

  1. Mix patterns with the same colors/color family.
  2. Mix similar patterns, like florals, but chose one pattern that is large and one that is small.
  3. Think of certain patterns as solids, such as houndstooth, very small polka dots, thin and closely aligned stripes and fine checks. These are patterns are subtle enough that they read as solids, but still add visual interest to your ensemble.
  4. Choose patterns that compliment each other, such as florals and stripes. If this seems too wild, start by following 1 or 3 to venture into this mix.
  5. If you want to be very daring and bold, try mixing the same pattern in different colors.
  6. Mix multiple pattern pieces, but space them with solids or neutrals. A patterned shirt can be worn with a solid skirt and patterned shoes. Or, a patterned shirt and skirt can be “broken up” with a solid and/or neutral sweater/sweater vest. Using solids or neutrals in mix patterned ensembles give the eyes a space to “rest.” (Hint: Shoes and accessories are solids/neutrals too ;).)

So, here are some close ups of my outfit, which illustrates three of the tips above. I started by mixing patterns that shared the same colors (olive green, pink and lavender). The shirt, because of the fine pattern, follows tip 3 because it almost reads as a solid. Finally, the belt and wide solid band of the sweater create a “break” in the pattern.

By the way, I’m also a bargain hunter (I live in Marshall’s and TJ Maxx) and thrift shop lover!! I got the top from a thrift store in Orange, NJ many years ago for less than $5 (unfortunately, the shop closed, but not before I got a few great pieces). I think the belt was from H&M, but more seasons ago than I can remember. The skirt was definitely from H&M and I got it last year for $9.99! I recently got a great tweed suit, high-waist wide-leg wool pants, a long tailored skirt and a rain coat from the Goodwill one town over. I’ll be sharing those finds with you in the weeks to come:)!! Don’t sleep on the thrift store!! I have a feeling I’ll be making bi-weekly or monthly visits there, time permitting! Wei found a pair of almost brand spanking new brown wingtip shoes there for $5.99! The soles were flawless and they were the same brand and style that he had been looking at on ideeli earlier in the day for $50!! Score!!

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Do you like to mix patterns? If so, how do you mix yours?

My Staples: Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)

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Tianna asks:

How many people have used Jamaican Black Castor Oil? Do you see the difference in your hair texture after using it? Does your hair shed from using it?

I was originally going to post this as a “Got Skills?” question. However, JBCO has been in my arsenal for the last year and a half. I wasn’t planning on covering it next in the “My Staples” series, because I was trying to go in wash day order, with Hello Hydration and Aussie Moist being slated for the next post. However, given Tianna’s question, figured I should take this opportunity to talk about JBCO.

Last February, when I first discovered CurlyNikki.com, I learned of the principles of moisturizing and sealing. Unbeknownst to me, I had essentially been doing that with my WnGs, using a leave-in (Infusium 23 or DevaCare One Conditioner) and applying a mix of alcohol-free gel and Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter. However, with newly discovered information about other options in hand, I decided to branch out and experiment. First, I tried shea butter, which Nikki seemed to love. As our hair types appeared similar, I thought it might work well for me. That wasn’t the case. I found that shea butter just seemed to “sit” on top of my hair and made it feel weighed down without feeling particularly soft or moisturized. Next, I decided to try virgin coconut oil (VCO) as it was lighter and I’d read a few good things about it. Well, it was definitely a lot lighter and my ends looked and felt great after applying it to my released TnC. But, by the end of the same day, my ends felt “crispy.” I thought this might have been related to an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse that I’d tried for the first time as well. But, after a couple more uses of VCO without an ACV rinse, I decided that it definitely did not seem to keep my hair feeling soft and moisturized. Therefore, I was still in search of a good sealant and eventually came across this post on CurlyNikki entitled, Battle of Castor Oils. The short of it was that the writer was comparing castor oils for use on her scalp as she’d suffered with eczema for years. She rated JBCO as the best.

After doing a little more research, I decided to venture into the world of JBCO. I wanted to try it on both my scalp and hair. Though I didn’t have any scalp issues, I had read that it could promote thickening of the hair at the roots and growth, both things that I desired (there was a JBCO Edges Re-Growth Challenge running on the CN Forums at the time). I also wanted to try it on my hair to seal as I’d had less then stellar results with shea butter and coconut oil. So, around July of last year, I found the Tropic Isle Living JBCO ($5.99 for 4 oz.) at a BSS that caters to a Black clientele. I was very happy to find this on the ground rather than having to order online and pay shipping!

I started using JBCO on my scalp and hair immediately. The smell has been called “smokey” and “nutty,” and I guess that I would agree. I don’t find it strong, but some do and some even find it intolerable, though it dissipates quickly in my opinion. The consistency is a little thicker than olive oil, but not as thick as regular castor oil. However, despite its viscosity, it’s not sticky, tacky or heavy once applied to hair with a light hand.

When I used it on my scalp, I experienced a lot of itching. Some commenters on the forum thread made references to this being a side effect of JBCO use on the scalp. Some stated that it could just mean that blood flow to the scalp was being stimulated, which meant the hair was going through a growth cycle. However, my scalp is never itchy and it meant to me that it was irritated. In my head, irritation leads to inflammation and scratching, which is counter to growth and can result in excessive shedding. So, I stopped using JBCO on my scalp. But now, I’m not so sure that JBCO was the culprit as I have since realized that amla may have been the source of the problem or, at least, contributed a lot to it. That being said, I may revisit using JBCO on my scalp, just to see if it itches, since I’m no longer using amla.

Now, onto using JBCO on my ends. Different story entirely. O … M … GAWH!! When I tell you that I fell in love with it from the first use, I’m not kidding! I used it on these two strand twists that I’d done and my ends felt like BUTTER! They were sooo soft, supple, smooth, sheeny and moisturized (I know, I know! Oil doesn’t moisturize! Buuuuuut, it seals in moisture and a good sealant keeps moisture in the hair leading to hair that feels moisturized! ;)).

And yeah, it’s been a wrap ever since. I not only use JBCO to seal my ends, I also use it in my Kimmaytube leave-in, add it to some of my DCs and I’ve experimented with it as a pre-poo oil for my ends. I’ve recently started mixing it with EVOO in order to get the penetrating benefits of olive oil with the sealing benefits of JBCO. Using a 50/50 ratio mix, I’m also able to extend my JBCO further and mask the overt smell of olive oil so that I don’t smell like an Italian restaurant!

As to your questions Tianna, I’m assuming that you are asking about JBCO when used on the scalp. As indicated above, I didn’t do that for long, so didn’t notice any type of difference in texture. In regard to shedding, I did experience a lot of shedding during the time I was using JBCO, but I really believe that was due to amla. So, I can’t give you any insights on that. However, there was this recent article by blogger Strawberricurls, who helped her mother regrow her edges! The woman was very nearly bald from her natural hairline to her ear due to damaging weaves and chemicals. Within 5 months, with daily application of JBCO, she completely regrew her edges!!

So now, to the “Got Skills?” part of this post! How about you guys? Anyone use JBCO? If so, how do you use it? How often? What kind of results are you getting (i.e. increased thickness, regrowth of edges, decreased shedding, improved moisture retention, etc.)? What are the pros and the cons? Spill ;)!