Thursday, September 29, 2011

Natural Beauty: Amy

I'm so excited about my first Natural Beauty interview. What better way to start than with my sister, Amy!

In Wrightsville Beach, NC
September 2011
What lessons did you learn about hair and beauty when you were a child?
Growing up I remember wanting what I didn't have; the straight flowy hair like my barbies and the girls at my predominately white school/neighborhood had. I would constantly ask my mom, to the point where I think I exasperated her, to tell me what color skin I had and expecting, wanting…maybe even pressuring her to tell me "golden brown"…not black and not just brown it had to be golden brown…and why I couldn't have hair like theirs. There are pictures of me with really long hair when I was 5/6 years old, and that was my natural hair pressed. What's funny is that I don't remember having that long hair at that age but I do remember when it all got cut off because I was devastated! Mom eventually took me to get a perm so that it was easier for her to take care of, and I believe that is what broke my hair off from being really long to really short...I felt robbed. I felt very ugly growing up.

August 2009

How has your perspective about hair and beauty changed over time? 
My perspective has done a complete 180 ever since I quit relaxing my hair in 2009. For years I did the weaves and extensions and spent (I say spent...I feel more like I wasted) time and money in the salon and it got to the point in 2009 that I finally got sick of I was just done. How many more times was I going to make an appointment, show up only to have to sit and wait an hour or two or three until the hairstylist was finally ready to see me, and then spend another 3 or 4 hours getting my hair done while she was also trying to finish up or squeeze in clients in between! Then she’d bump the ends of my hair even though I said I didn't want them bumped but she'd insist on doing it anyways and I'd just go along with it because at that point I was just ready to get out of there. So I'd get home or in my car away from the salon and be fixing it a way that I really wanted and here I just spent all this money and time! Then I'd worry about sweating out my perm or messing up my hair…so for me, just about every salon visit was a very unsatisfying, uncomfortable experience all around. Ultimately, I was sick of spending so much time getting my hair done. I realized I wanted to be doing other things with my time.
You introduced me to Curly Nikki and BGLH shortly after I decided to quit relaxing and that's when my perspective on beauty started to change. That was the first time I saw African-American beauty being celebrated and honored and I was like a sponge soaking it all in...all the pictures, styles, tutorials, products and clothes (OMG the clothes, the style!). It was overwhelming yes, but I welcomed it all.
I see so much more beauty in our culture and myself now than I ever have before and I am incredibly thankful for this change in perspective. It has really helped me to grow as a person.
When and how did you decide to go natural? 
When I decided to quit relaxing, I didn't have a plan and I wasn't ready to embrace my natural texture yet, so up until the time I decided I was going to loc my hair I just maintained it on my own. I would wash it, condition it, use my flat iron and I bought some clip in extensions from Sally's or wore clip in extensions I made myself using left over hair I had purchased before for weaves so I could still get that length I liked. Then I started wearing wigs...the cheap ones at that. At some point I remember discussing my options with you in regards with what to do with my hair and you suggested I consider getting locs because it would fit my lifestyle and personality and that resonated with me. So I started researching locs on nappturality and the net…it took me a while to decide when and how I was going to get them. I got my locs installed in April 2010 via two strand twist extensions (human hair) because at that time, I only had about an inch or two of natural hair and I didn’t want to do the big chop, but I also knew without a doubt I wanted to loc so extensions seemed like a good idea. But they only lasted about 2 months; I think a week after I had them installed two of them had already slipped out and from there more went along with them so I ditched the extensions and went from there.
What three hair products/tools are must-haves for you?
clarifying shampoo
bobby pins - my saving grace for styling
some type of moisturizer - I'm experiencing with leave in conditioners (Oyin's juices, Jane Carter leave in, Oyin shine and define/whipped pudding, Taliah Waajid leave in, hot oil treatments (I don't rinse them out)
Where do you go for natural hair inspiration or advice?
Nappturality's loc forum
You Tube: bronzegoddess01, chescalocs, eloiseTV, barbaydian261, tbey82, qochemist, quotidianlight to name a few. 
I also like blogs: irocklocs, chescalocs, lecoil, lockrocker, queennaturalbeauty, naturallybeautifulhair, naturaleza, thenaturalhaven, flygirls, curlynikki, bglh, dreadenvy, locluv and then there's Loc'd life magazine...
I’m a junkie when it comes to researching natural hair online. I love it.

September 2011
What are the best aspects of being natural? The most challenging aspects?
To me, the best aspect of being natural is the freedom from what society deems is beautiful and what you have to do to look beautiful. You don't have to look European, you don't have to spend gobs of money on services and products to achieve awesome hair and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise you (now) know they are dead wrong! That is so liberating to me. Another positive aspect of being natural is that I’ve become more comfortable in experimenting with fashion, and it’s created another avenue for creativity when it comes to styling my hair on my own, since I don’t go to the salon, and these are things that I didn't realize would come along with the journey. I'm so inspired by the different hair and fashion styles that we put together as everyday's bliss!
The most challenging aspects would be learning about your hair, but I think it's challenging in a fun way with moments of frustration…but to me such is life, there are ups and downs. It does take time to learn about it, to learn to listen to what your hair is telling you rather than hanging on to old methods of taking care of your hair. You have to learn what products work, what techniques work and if you’re going about it on your own then you know…there’s a huge learning curve. And There is definitely a mental transition as well.
What's the best compliment you ever received regarding your natural hair/beauty?
That it fits me, it's thick, and I have nice cheekbones.
In closing, please share anything on your mind regarding natural hair. 
Research! If you’re interested in going natural, there is so much info available to you on the internet it’s ridiculous! At the same time, there IS so much info it can get overwhelming trying to filter through all of the information (and misinformation) and apply it to you and your hair. Understand it’s a process and be patient with yourself and with it. And have fun with it! Yes hair can make a big statement and it can directly affect your confidence, but inner confidence will shine no matter how bad of a hair day you’re having.
And yes you can have locs and work in the corporate world. I work for a major defense contractor…’nuff said.

Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story and being my first interview. I love you, sissypoo, and you are gorgeous!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homemade Mayo Deep Treatment/Detangler

wow, i look sleepy...

I first mentioned my fondness for mayonnaise in my hair in this post about a great twist-and-curl. It's been an ongoing experiment. Well, pull up your rocking chair and a sweet tea, and let me tell you what happened...

I did this mayo + honey + conditioner thing weekly for a month or so, then I took a break from it, though not really on purpose. I really didn't feel like doing a lot of stuff to my hair for two weeks while vacationing in Tobago. So I revisited this treatment yesterday, mostly because my hair seemed dry and brittle, so much that hubby noticed. So upon doing this treatment yesterday, even before shampooing, 'twas as if my fro sighed, smiled and whispered, "Thank you!"

The first thing I noticed after the mayo mix the softness. It was also easy to detangle and, again, little to no hair in the comb or on the shower floor. I figure my hair must have needed the protein. Since mayo is basically eggs and oil, I suppose it's chock full of what my hair needed. It also feels well moisturized and was quite shiny in twists and as a twist-out (I used shea butter for twists yesterday, but in the pics shown here I think I used Curls By Sisters Smith Curly Pudding).

Here's the recipe for a homemade mayo treatment:

- Small bowl
- Spoon (doesn't matter what kind)
- Mayo, full fat, generic or whatever
- Conditioner (I use Suave Coconut)
- Honey
- Shower cap
- Heating cap (optional)

1) In a small bowl, mix four heaping spoonfuls of mayo, two heaping spoonfuls of conditioner, and one spoonful of honey. Stir until blended well.
2) Apply to hair. It's not so important that it gets to your roots. Just make sure your hair is well covered. Massage it in. Use the whole bowlful. Whatever you don't use, personally, I would toss it out.
3) Cover your head with a shower cap and then either sit under a heating cap for at least 30 minutes, or just piddle around the house and let your body heat do the work for an hour or so.
4) Rinse out completely. Follow with a gentle shampoo or co-wash (to take away the scent of mayo). The result is soft, shiny, manageable hair... well, at least that's the result for me.

If you try this, or if you already do something similar to this, I'd love to hear about it. I'm curious about how this might work for locs too (Ames!).

a pic post-mayo

shiny post-mayo twist-out

Unrelated but fun news: because I don't just want to blog about myself, my first natural hair interview is coming soon with a lovely loc'ed sister! And I'm hoping to have another cool interview with a popular natural blogger in October. Thanks for reading and following.

Praise ye the Lord!

Monday, September 26, 2011

For the Foodies: Strawberry Salsa

Despite the fact summer is officially over in the northern hemisphere, it's common in the US to find strawberries well into the cooler months shipped in from warmer climates like Florida and Mexico. While I prefer to eat local and at Mom-n-Pop shops, after finding this yummy little recipe for Strawberry Salsa via I might get tossed into locavore jail.

Check out this fantastic recipe video from DeliciousTV1 (YouTube), which features Savvy, and don't be surprised if you see this at my next dinner party!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Heaven is home

It's taken me days to write this, because the emotions are still raw, it's surreal, and I get emotional from just thinking about her...

Minister Lenora, Jan 2011
There is no statistical figure available to show how many lives Minister Lenora Freeman Speller impacted in her lifetime. There's no way to adequately describe the quality she brought to a room or the way she touched people, whether they knew her for years or minutes, in-person or virtually through talks with our brethren in Kenya, through teaching or learning, praying and interceding, worshiping the Father through dance under the anointing, or just cracking up with us during dance practice. I wholeheartedly believe she was a godly woman.

I just feel so blessed from having known her, and I thank God for the example she provided to so many of us of what it means to be a Christian. Regardless of age or gender, you could tell by the way she lived that she loved God for real. Of course, she wasn't perfect -- who among us is? --  but what an amazing legacy. Now, for eternity, she's actually doing what she so diligently practiced and lived here on earth -- glorifying the Almighty, in the presence of the Jesus the Christ, crying "Holy, Holy, Holy! Worthy is the Lamb!" with the beasts and the angels and the elders casting their crowns at His feet. And to this vision I can't help but cry out, "Hallelujah... my God, thank you Jesus, Hallelujah!"

I'm continuing to pray and lift up the family -- husband, children, mother, siblings, nieces and nephews, and so many others. Please know you are dearly loved. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mini CVS Haul, Quick Updo, & Happy Labor Day

I tossed out my dear 'ol Denman D4 brush this week. After four years, it started to tear at the cushion base where the bristles emerge. I think I paid $10 for it on Amazon. Despite the breakdown, I'm still a fan. It worked well for me when de-tangling soaking wet hair loaded with a good slippery conditioner. I don't notice much shedding or breakage when I use it. In fact, I notice more hair in my wide tooth comb than in my Denman on wash days... perhaps I need a different comb!

Conair Styling Brush - Detangle & Style
I've seen a lot of chatter on message boards over the years about the "Denman knock-off" brush, which is Conair's version sold (exclusively?) at CVS. I looked at Target, Walmart, and Walgreen's. CVS was the only place I could find this brush. If you've seen it at other places, please let me know.

At $3.79, it's easily less expensive than the Denman, and it appears to cost less in-store than at Like the Denman, it has nine rows of bristles. The cushion base looks almost exactly like the Denman, but the brush handle seems shorter.
I haven't used it yet for de-tangling or styling, but will let you know how it compares in a future post.

Scunci Headbands & Ouchless Bands
I also picked up a few hair accessories. This pack of headbands isn't really made for holding the hair back... well at least not my hair. In fact, while writing this post I put one just above my hairline over my blow-out fro, and it snapped. *Sigh* But it was only $3.99 for the whole package.

My real goal is to incorporate these as an add-on for color and interest, not function, while trying the styles shown in the following Naptural85 video:

Thursday's quick updo
Quick and easy updo
To keep the hair off my neck while running errands, I did a very casual updo.  I did this on a two-day old twist out. Using four bobby pins, I took four sections of hair -- two from the side, and two at the nape of the neck -- and lightly rolled the sections up, then pinned them into place. I should have taken pics from the back but forgot. sigh...

That's all for now.

I pray you have a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend, as we celebrate the contributions workers have made to America. I firmly believe we should understand the origins of the holidays we celebrate and not take the days in vain. I'm also thankful to God for having a job and having a paid day off. I know a lot of people have to work this weekend and Monday. To all of you who do - public or private sector - thanks for what you do! Do it to the glory of God.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. - 1 Corin 15:58

Thursday, September 1, 2011

God's Unconditional Love

I'm listening to a Tedashii playlist on YouTube today while I work and came across this song I hadn't heard in a while. God's unconditional love is matchless, and the way the world "loves" is a far cry from His love for us. Check it out.