Daily Archives: January 24, 2012

Tales of a Transitioner: Tya’s HairStory

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Describe yourself in 100 words or less.
I am a vibrant, 32 yr old engineer and fitness instructor. My passions are reading and discussing the Bible, spending quality time with family/friends and serving others in various ways. I also love to dance and workout! I’m all about healthy living – emotionally and physically. I also love live music, especially jazz and R&B. My personality is versatile … fun-loving but responsible and no-nonsense.

When did you receive your first relaxer?
On Halloween at 13 years old – eery!

Why did you choose to go natural?
My hair goes thru cycles – long and flowy, then back to stringy with breakage. I went natural in graduate school. I couldn’t think of anything to do with my hair other than wear an afro. I did everything wrong, including texturizing very often, picking/raking while dry, sulfate shampoos, never deep conditioning, etc.

This time, I have done my research and am learning more each day. I HATE spending entire days at the salon. I also work out religiously and we all know that perms + sweat = a hot mess! I want to prove to myself and others that there is nothing wrong with or bad about my natural hair. Besides that, I’m in love with the versatility I see.

Are you a long-term or short-term transitioner, and why?
I plan to transition long-term – 1.5 years. I am currently a little over 6 months in!

What was your initial reaction to your growing natural hair?
 Hmmm…soft and delicious!

How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
Reactions vary. Some people think I’m crazy. Others are very supportive and can’t wait to see the new me. I don’t really put too much stock into what people think. It’s not about what they think about me. It’s what I think about me!

What is your transition routine?
Truthfully, I am wearing braids and weaves often. I wash weekly with Kinky Curly or Shea Moisture shampoo. I deep condition weekly with my own homemade mix (mayo, egg, condish, EVOO). I moisturize with Cantu Shea Butter Cream and always seal with EVOO and pure shea butter. I did an ACV rinse a couple of weeks ago and saw an immediate shine. I have never used henna, but would like to try it.

What is your staple transition hair style?
Kinky Twists, Wet N Wavy Sew-Ins, Twist Outs and Flexi Rod Sets.

What techniques/products do you to manage the demarcation line between your relaxed and natural hair?
Just deep condition. It is probably time for a deep trim.

What is the most challenging part of transitioning and how have you been able to overcome or cope with it?
If I am wearing my real hair out, I have to constantly do my hair over each night (i.e., re-braiding, twisting, rolling). I want to be able to wash ‘n go!

What has been the most fun/best part of going natural? What do you love most about your natural hair and/or going natural?
Experimenting with different hair styles. I love being able to not sit at the salon for 4 hours, although I have a wonderful stylist :)!


Do you have a “hair crush?” If so, who?
Lisa Arindell Anderson and Jill Scott.

Who do you follow online (i.e. blog/website, YouTube, Fotki, etc.)?
Hairscapades, CurlyNikki, NaturalChica (NikkiMae), Glamazini (Roshini) and NapturallyCurly.

What advice would you give someone who is contemplating going natural and/or becoming discouraged with their natural journey?
Good things come to those who wait. Be patient. Also, don’t expect for your hair to turn out like another persons. Just like we all have different personalities and faces, we all have various tresses. Accept your own texture/curls and work with it. Do you!

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In His Eyes: Chester Gregory

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Some people may know him as the dashing young man that played the lead roles in “The Otis Reading Story” and “The Jackie Wilson Story.”  Others may know him as Terk from the broadway run of Tarzan or as James “Thunder” Early in his NAACP Award winning role in the broadway run and national tour of DREAMGIRLS. Currently starring as Eddie Souther, the male lead in the broadway run of “Sister Act,” his real name is Chester Gregery. He’s not only an actor, but a singer, songwriter, Apple tech geek and a businessman! Read more about him and his thoughts on natural hair here.

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by Weusi

Q: Where are you from? Did you grow up around women that had perms or natural hair styles?
I’m from Gary, Indiana where the vast majority of women get their hair permed. But, it is also common for women to wear their natural hair. Also, I know a lot of women who don’t get their hair permed, but prefer to wear it straight.

Q: How did that influence your ideas of physical beauty?
My mother doesn’t have a perm, but she does have her hair straightened. Growing up in a predominately Black city, I just learned to appreciate the diversity of hairstyles.

Q: Who were some of the people/celebrities that you saw as beautiful growing up (natural, straightened or chemically relaxed hair)?
Halle Berry. The Jacksons were, of course, also from Gary, Indiana and had a vast range of hairstyles, each and every one of them. The hairstyles changed from year to year, which, looking back, indicates to me the decade in which we were living.

Q: Are there any character traits that you connect with a woman’s hairstyle?
I’m a sucker for a woman with big/curly hair. I notice that, not only do hairstyles change by the decade, they also change depending on what part of the country or even what city you’re from. But that part has been consistently sexy to me.

Q: Do you prefer permed or natural hair? Why?
I prefer a whatever hairstyle a woman seems most comfortable with. Hair is interchangeable, but if she finds a hairstyle that compliments her beauty, style, and grace, it’s icing on the cake.

Q: Are there any natural hair styles that you like the best?
Curly, wavy, big.

Q: When you are in a relationship, do you keep up with your women’s hair regimen? Do you know how often she washes her hair, conditions, colors, deep conditions, etc.?
Naw.

Q: Do you keep track of what she uses on her hair? If you were walking down the beauty aisle would you know what to pick up for your lady?
Not at all.

Q: Have you ever dated a sister that has to wear “headgear” to bed? How do you deal with that? What’s your preference (bonnet, scarf, do rag, hat)?!
Yes. And, if she had to wear something to bed, then of course the bonnet or scarf.

Q: Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t put your toothbrush down because there were hair care and beauty products everywhere? If so, can you tell the story of how you dealt with it?
No, I haven’t.

Q: You have a wash and go. But I can imagine that, with the lights of a Broadway stage beaming on you 6 days a week, that can be damaging. I also know that you are a health conscious person and prefer to use natural products in your life. Are there any precautions that you take? What products do you use?
I wash my hair with Aveda Shampoo and I use Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercream.


Q: As one of your friends, I know that you and your boys weren’t sitting around talking music, politics, theater and technology and someone suddenly said, “ Yo Chess … your hair is looking kinda dry. You should try ‘xyz.’ It worked wonders for me!” So, how did you learn about natural hair care?
My son’s mother told be about Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercream. She tried it because she wears her hair natural and she recommended it for me. We both tried it and loved it. Once I discovered it, I haven’t found any other product that compares to it! If I’m having a day where my hair is dry and looking a mess, it’s only because I haven’t used Miss Jessie’s. It’s that serious.

Q: How do you feel about the state of brothers’ hair? I mean, we don’t do much with our hair. Should we be doing more?
Actually, out of all my friends, I’m the one who takes the least amount of care with my hair. Because my hair is naturally curly, I am automatically placed in the “pretty boy lane” and I try to resist that as much as possible! LOL! I get a haircut, on average, once a month. And when I do, I give the barber strict instructions not to line the front of my hair. Those super duper sharp edges ain’t me! A little water, Miss Jessie’s and a brush and I call it a day.

Q: You are a very fashion forward brother. Can you share some fashion “do’s and don’ts” for brothers that may be very comfortable in baggy jeans and t-shirts?
I actually don’t consider myself fashion forward at all. I pretty much just try to dress comfortably and neat. The only thing that bugs me is all these “Pants To The Ground.” Where’s General Larry Platt when you need him?


Q: Are there any sites or designers that you frequent or favor? Why are these special?
Of course I like Polo and classic casual wear. But, I also love a tee-shirt with a random design.

Q: We know that you can sing from your work on Broadway. You’re also getting a lot of attention on your musical projects. I saw one of your videos on VH1 Soul the other day. What’s up with you music career?
I’m excited to release a new project in the Spring and show growth musically. This is completely different from how folks may hear me every night on the Broadway stage.

Q: You seem to stay involved in a variety of projects. What do you have going on now?
Outside of performing in “Sister Act” on Broadway eight shows a week, I’m in the studio working on a new project and helping develop a new project for the theater as well. My other project is creative, but is outside of the performing arts. I’m a bit of an Apple enthusiast and have been for some time. I also like word games. They keep my mind sharp and keep my vocabulary from being stagnant. So … I’ve helped to develop a word game app call UnWord, which was recently approved and is available for iPhone and iPad users.

Q: Where can people check out your musical projects?
Join me at ChesterGregory.com and follow me on Twitter at #ChesterGregory.

Bald Spots: Help!

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Tips and Tricks: Number Fifteen

Jasmine writes:

Hello, my name is Jasmine and I really hope that you receive this email, because I am just about desperate for a reply from anyone.

I am sixteen years old and I am from Texas. I have been natural all of my life (and sadly, I still don’t know how to take care of my hair at this point). I have done at least 3 big chops in my life and I would like to try and avoid having a fourth one. My hair, in the center especially, is bald because I glued in some tracks. What would you recommend I do to grow my hair back? I have been taking Biotin (2 pills = 2,000 mcg) daily (one at night and the morning) and would like to grow some hair in those bald areas so that I have some hair for my senior pictures coming up in the summer. I always wear my hair in French braids daily, since I can no longer afford to get my hair braided. Please help me!

Thanks in advance.

First, I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I think it’s really important for younger ladies like yourself to be careful with DIY hair treatments like weaves, dyes and chemical relaxers as you can cause damage that could traumatize your scalp and/or seriously damage your hair. I don’t frequent salons often, but as a teenager, my mother applied my relaxers or I went to a salon. So, I would recommend the same if you are contemplating potentially damaging processes.

Next, it is important to remember that hair grows a 1/2 inch a month on average. So, you most likely aren’t going to grow 6-7 inches of hair by summer. However, in regard to your question about what you can do to help grow your hair back, I suggest you attack the problem from three angles.

DIET and EXERCISE:

Diet/Nutrition:
So often it seems that we are looking for the easy fix to our hair problems that comes in the forms of tonics and pills. However, truth be told, I think that nutrition and exercise are probably at the very top of the list of the most critical things to address and help improve the condition of one’s hair. That being said, take a look at your diet. Are you drinking around 60 ounces of water a day or half your body weight? Are you eating enough protein? Leafy and colorful vegetables? Fruit? Do you eat a lot of processed and refined foods like pre-packaged snacks, soda and fast foods that are filled with saturated fats and transfatty acids, added sugars, salts and preservatives? If so, I’d suggest starting there. Here are two good posts that were on BlackGirlLongHair about foods and nutrients that promote growth and healthy hair:

10 Foods for Healthy Hair
13 Nutrients That Promote Hair Growth

Exercise:
In addition, it’s important to make certain that you are getting adequate amounts of cardiovascular activity. Oxygen fed via the blood and circulation are critical to supplying those hair cells with the great nutrients that you are now ingesting ;). Not only will exercise improve your hair, it will improve your health and overall well-being.

TOPICAL PRODUCTS and TECHNIQUES:

Oils, Essential Oils (EOs) and Oil Mixes:
Okay, so though I said that these are often sought as the easy fixes, I think there is something to be said for topical “tonics” and mechanical techniques. There are a variety of essential oils (EOs) that are touted as promoting growth and a variety of homemade recipes that you may want to try. That being said, be careful when using EOs. A few drops will do ya’ … and they need to be heavily diluted in a carrier (base) oil such as jojoba oil, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or virgin coconut oil (VCO). Here are links to a few posts with oil mixes that might help encourage growth:

Essential Oil Mix for Hair Growth (My post that includes an EO mix that I first learned of via MopTopMaven and corroborated was proven effective via clinical studies.)

Product Review Aloe Gro (Her Best Hair’s post on Aloe Gro, a mix of aloe juice and various EOs.)

My Staples: Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) (Some have found success re-growing thinning or non-existent edges by simply applying Jamaican black castor oil [JBCO] to their scalps on a daily basis.)

Scalp Food (Friend, fellow blogger and Grow Out Challenger, Marsha of Hairology, recently posted about how she has been able to regrow a thinning spot at her crown with water and jojoba oil.)

Scalp Massages:
Ultimately, what may be partially responsible for improvements in growth appreciated with these tonics are the regular scalp massages that take place when applying these oils. Scalp massages help stimulate circulation, which helps the hair follicles become receptive to the nutrients and oxygen they need for maximum health. I’d suggest incorporating a scalp massage daily or as often as you can and for as long as you can, up to 10 minutes a day.

Reduce/Eliminate Tension Styles:
French braids are probably fine as you shouldn’t be using a lot of tension with those. However, try to alternate your styles so that tension is not always in the same areas and so that it is minimal.

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LENGTH RETENTION REGIMEN:

Ultimately, it doesn’t make a difference if you grow hair if you don’t retain it. Therefore, it is very important to build and maintain an effective regimen that allows you to keep your hair clean, moisturized and protected. Check out this post on CurlyNikki.com if you need some basic pointers on building a simple, but effective, regimen: Building a Hair Regimen: Keep it Simple.

I would add protective, low-manipulation styling to the regimen line-up, as well as careful and patient handling of your hair every step of the way. You might also be interested in my post, Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day … And Neither is a Hair Regimen. My point there was that it’s not important that you get your regimen perfect overnight, it’s just important that you start to actively think about what you are currently doing and things that you may need to change to improve your results.

Hope that helps!

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What say ye ladies? Any other words of advice to help with bald spots caused by mechanical trauma?