Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Almost 4 Months!

Next Tuesday, I will have transitioned for 4 months!! This is so exciting!

My hair is changing every day. I have about 2 inches of new growth (stretched) and the line of demarcation (where the relaxed hair meets its new neighbor aka natural hair) is clearly visible. I was experiencing a lot of shed, so have been proactive in reducing hair loss.

My current regimen and product list:

1 x week shampoo
  • Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil and Creamy Aloe Shampoo -- makes my hair shiny and soft, feels as though I've conditioned it. My new growth seems to enjoy it just as much as my relaxed hair, so for now it's a keeper!
  • When I flat iron my hair, I use a Keratase Oleo Relax Shampoo (expensive, but a tiny amount goes a long way, I've had this bottle for 2 years)

1 - 2 x week condition (flat-ironed or roller set hair) / 2 -3 x week condition (protective styling)
  • Dove Heat Defense Conditioner (not crazy about it, it's hit or miss)... however, when this bottle is finished I'll be on the lookout for a new conditioner.
  • Flat ironing days: Keratase Oleo Relax Deep Conditioner (it's so good and again a little goes a long way!)

1 - 2 x per month protein treatment
  • Joico Kpak Deep Penetrating Protein Treatment (no complaints thus far, seems to be working even better on my transitioning hair than it did on my relaxed)
  • Aphogee 5 in 1 Reconstructor (too soon to critique)

1 x week deep conditioner (10 minutes under dryer)
  • Olive Oil Replenishing Condition (works like a charm)
  • Argan Oil (excellent, going to be so sad when my bottle runs out, as I bought it in Morocco)

1 x month flat iron to trim hair
  • Neutrogena Triple Moisture* (wonderful, makes my hair super soft)
  • Mane & Tale Detangler* (too soon to comment)
  • Aphogee Green Tea Reconstructor Spray* (too soon to comment)
  • Argan Oil (wonderful)

* used during roller set routine as well

2 x month roller set
  • Lotta Body Olive Oil Setting Lotion (diluted in water)... under the dryer now using this for the first time, we'll see...

Update... worked incredibly! My hair is so shiny and soft!

Protective Styles
Now that it's summer I wash, scrunch and air dry or on really hot days I just put my hair up in a bun. When I wear my hair in a bun, I wrap it when I go to bed, and the edges are smooth the next day, so I can put it up in a bun again: I often style it with the little 50's style bump for added flair.
Summer seems to be the perfect time for transitioning, I'm just trying to continue to keep my hair moisturized and encourage growth!

Peace & Love

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Salon Hubby

I once had a chat with a friend, who is Latina and hair is probably type 4a (very coarse, densely-packed, tight curls), but she relaxes. She mentioned that her husband, also European, is very against relaxers and slightly protests each time she applies one to her hair. Talking with her, I realized my husband has no idea about my hair routine. I guess I just left him in the dark since we started dating. I'm not sure why, but I guess I just felt I didn't need to inform my husband about my hair and up keep, he's married to me not my hair. Of course he knows the troubles I went through finding a suitable salon in Europe, as my hair is not the same texture as European hair and he knows that when my hair is flat-ironed (as opposed to scrunch and go) that means I sleep with my "night hat". The first time I wore my durag to bed, my husband, at the time my boyfriend, asked why I was wearing a "night hat", I found his accent and this choice of wording so cute that I continued using it with him ever since. So, that's the extent to what he knew about my hair.

Recently, I realize my not telling him about my hair issues was more of a defense mechanism to protect myself. I was really lying to myself, as I was hiding everything I went through to achieve "perfection". I'd style my hair, when he wasn't home, time our shared activities (going to the lake, spa or running) around the state of my hair, never really explained the process behind the relaxer, but instead just said "my hair is really thick and difficult to manage, so I just get a process that loosens it and makes it easier to style. Instead of telling him, I'm putting an alkaline based chemical in my hair to alter the structure of my curl pattern, which makes my natural hair irreversibly straighter. I think I was mostly afraid, that he would find the process dangerous and unhealthy and protest my doing so and at the same time dislike my natural curl pattern. This all sounds very irrational as I write this down, but this is what I felt. I've heard stories on blogs where women's boyfriends, often black, have left them after they decided to go natural, why wouldn't the same apply to a white male?

As I decided 3 months ago to go natural, I sat my husband down and started to tell him about my decision and what I had been doing to my hair. I try to make this an ongoing conversation , so that he can understand that this is a theme, that goes skin deep and is not just about the hair. He thinks my decision is wonderful and always tells me nonchalantly "I'm in love with you and not your hair, you'd look hot bald, so I could care less." (I'm lucky, I know). I think next, we are going to watch Chris Rock's Good Hair together. Maybe I'll interview him on my blog to get his perspective on the movie and topic. I'm really happy that I opened up to him and think it's crucial he understand black hair. We're not quite ready for kids yet, but are definitely at the stage where we talk about raising a family. Seeing that we both have super curly hair, I can only imagine our children will have the same, so it's good that he'll know how to care for and understand their hair when the time comes.
Last night, I bumped my hair quickly with the flat-iron after wet wrapping and sitting under the dryer for about 1 hour (this made my hair so much softer than direct heat from the blow-dryer). It came out okay, but like I said, I'm looking forward to learning more methods that don't involve the heat. Perhaps soon I'll try the flat twist out, I've seen a couple of videos on YouTube and it looks manageable. My husband trimmed some of my dead ends for me yesterday. Yes, that's right, my husband trims my hair. I don't trust anyone here to do it but him and he does a pretty darn good job. In the US, each time my stylist would ask if I wanted a trim, I'd leave with a haircut, so I'm happy he just gives me a trim. Like I said before I'm not ready to part with the length yet, so don't want to cut off all the relaxed ends yet. I'll probably wait a year or 2 to do so, depending on my new growth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hairiphany = Hair Epiphany?

Many people say we're a reflection of our genes and environment...Well my hair, genetically inherited from my parents and chemically altered by my stylists, has definitely played a role in my development.  As exaggerated as it may sound, it’s likely true. I have had my hair relaxed, pressed, and hot combed, or quoting my southern Mother “fried, died, flipped to the side”, since childhood. As a result, I know only from pictures, what my “true” hair looks like but have no memories of its texture or curl pattern. I only know my Mom used to complain “giiirl it took me hours to wash and press your hair when you were a child, you had enough hair for you and me both and then some!” 

As I sit here today, writing my first entry I paused a couple of times to touch the little curls that are sprouting like newly planted herbs underneath all of my relaxed hair. I can’t help but imagine what my hair would look like without the relaxed strands. 

Currently, I am 3 months post-relaxer and decided about a month and half ago to transition and rock my natural texture. This great epiphany all came about one cloudy morning.

My husband and I had plans to meet friends in the city in the afternoon. I was home getting ready to shower and wash my hair. I saw the sky was gray and threatening and so decided just to wash, scrunch and go—no need wasting time with the flat-iron when the fruits of my labor would be ruined by rain, right?!

My husband and I dressed and as we left the apartment, it started to pour. The combination of the cool, humidity and rain definitely increased the volume and poofiness of my hair! I’ll admit, I wasn’t feeling too hot. I stared at my husband; he’s European and has naturally tousled waves that can never look bad. Our previous neighbor, who was about 60, once told him “women would kill to have your hair.” I stared around at the people on the tram, mostly European as well and just wished for one day that I could switch hair with them. 

Later in the afternoon, the skies cleared a bit and we decided to all go for a stroll in the park. As our friends strolled ahead, my husband leans downs and whispers in my ear “I’m so lucky, I have the hottest wife in the world.” [*Gushes*--He’s a bit of a hopeless romantic, so I get showered with affection quite often].  Well I was already feeling self-conscious, so I looked up at him as if he had two heads and asked “have you seen my hair today, not so hot.” The husband tells me “no actually, I was just going to tell you that your hair like that makes you irresistible.” Well, that shut me up and kind of got me to thinking, first thought wow, I adore this man and then second well if he likes this, how would he react my hair was natural

That’s when I had my big hairiphany – TIME FOR ME TO GO NATURAL. This is one of the scariest thoughts I’ve had in a while; I mean kind of life-changing… not in a negative way, just different. I didn’t know where to begin, after 18 years of relaxing and trips to the salon, I had so many thoughts and questions racing through my mind—one of those questions surrounded the method of going natural. 

When I arrived home that night, I immediately started googling and searching on YouTube for images and videos on the topic. I knew what my options were already (big chop or BC, transition, sew-ins, wigs), but needed to visualize it all. Upon days and days of deliberation I decided, I am a fan of neither weaves nor wigs. Since, I spent the last 2 years growing my hair out, I did not want to do the BC, because I started to like myself with longer hair. So ladies and gentleman, transition it is, or as I like to say journey from the straight road, to the winding roads less traveled. 

On this journey, I will also reflect on my current life abroad, marriage, and future dreams as well as my past to figure how my hair has shaped—well yeah, my identity, for better or worst. I’ll try to include some styling tips and treatment that I use along the way and pictures when possible. There will probably be moments where I run to my basement and grab my emergency relaxer kits and think about going back to it--- however, I’ll try to be brave and not succumb to-- as someone in Chris Rock’s Good Hair put it “the creamy crack.” I know that when I have reached a safe place, I'll be ready recycle the relaxer kits, but for now they are my security blankets.