Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Natural Hair & Vanity

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

It can be hard righteous living, with the freedom God has given
But we can live in the world and keep our sanity.
You might one day be a star, even drive a nice car,
But realize my friend it's all vanity.
- from the song "Overrated" by Sho Baraka

The following post is not a dig or a judgment against anyone, but simply an observation I find worthy of deeper thought and reflection. 

When it comes to natural hair and beauty, how do we know when we've crossed the threshold between the land of interest and enthusiasm into a place of self-absorption and vanity? This question might not resonate with everyone, but for me as a Christian pressing to walk by faith daily, hourly, and even minute-by-minute at times, I need the "flesh check." I need to see if what I say and do really lines up with what I believe, otherwise I risk slowly fading into a place I never intended to be -- distant from God.

It's all about priorities and what I truly value. If I spend most of my time online looking at hair-related sites (or a myriad of other things), but not a lot of time in the Word, in prayer, loving others, doing the work and using the gifts as He so desires, then really... can I call Him my treasure and my true love? Even if I focus more time and energy on my relationship with my husband than on my relationship with God, I'm totally out of order. In fact, I'm breaking the first and greatest commandment.

Wow, I'm guilty, Lord... help me, Father.

Vanity, as expressed in the Bible and via a quick check with my concordance, has several meanings:  emptiness, worthlessness, falsehood, vapour/breath (as in, "there for a moment, and then gone"), that which is unreal. It also can mean "wilderness" or "place of chaos." None of these traits are pleasing to God, who calls us as Christians to...

Through a quick search, I located this blog post about the subject, in which the natural hair author sums up her thoughts about vanity by saying,

Now, when do you draw the line?? When it consumes you! It is just like anything else. If all you can think about is hair, if all you can think about is styling it, etc, it is consuming you! This is why it is important for us to stay prayerful in our daily lives. If something is off, we will feel a check in the Holy Ghost. God will deal with us because we have the Holy Ghost. Keep in mind that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1). If we are walking after the spirit, we won’t even mind the things of the flesh.

My husband and I just completed a 21-day fast, just for the two of us, in which we turned away from different things daily, including blogs on certain days, vlogs/streaming media on other days, mobile apps and games on other days, sweets/desserts, etc. We fast to separate ourselves from the world while also praying to draw closer to God. I can only speak for myself, but what an eye-opener for me... the days when I had to avoid my favorite hair-related sites were the absolute hardest. When I "turned away" from all the hair and beauty-related stuff, I began to realize just how much of my time was spent on it... and how little time I was spending with God.

I'm so thankful for His grace and mercy, because I NEED God, and I didn't know how much I missed Him until I purposefully took myself out of my everyday "stuff."

Monday, February 20, 2012

I almost chopped my finger off! And bed-head style.

Hey ya'll!  

On Tuesday, I had a hankering for a splash of lime juice on my salmon croquettes. For some reason, the fruit was as about as hard as limestone (get it? limestone! haaa). It had a little bit of give. Against my better judgment, I decided to use it.

So I took my freshly-sharpened knife and tried to cut it. The knife slipped, catching my left-hand index finger, creating a deep cut across my cuticle and down the side of my nail bed. Ouch! But thank God I didn't have to get stitches...

Proceed with caution.

Now you might be thinking, "What does this little story have to do with natural hair?" Well, I learned a few things. First of all, I never really thought about how essential that one finger is to my whole hair maintenance process. 

Because of that accident, I didn't wash or style my hair for a total of 10 days. The idea of working with my hair with what felt like a huge paper cut was just not something I could bring myself to do. For a while, after my unexpected haircut six weeks ago, I was able to do wash-n-go's (WNG) fairly easily, but over the past few weeks my hair has thickened. I attribute the growth to a few things:  lots of exercise, an ample amount of fish in my diet, castor oil scalp massages, and avoiding heat like it's the plague. These days, a WNG is pretty much like me begging for a nightmare detangling session. Without some sort of stretching, e.g. banding, braiding or twisting, my hair will quickly mat.

But by this weekend I was aching to feel some water on my scalp.

What I learned -- albeit inadvertently -- was the joy of bed-head style and basically zero manipulation. Working with my old "pre-accident" twist-out, I slept on a satin pillowcase with no scarf.  Every morning, I spritzed lightly with Oyin Greg Juice and then followed with an oil spray, specifically SheaMoisture Organic Shea Butter Reconstructive Elixir. I lightly fluffed with my other nine fingers to create shape and volume. The result was a fairly long-lasting fluffy, chunky fro. Not one to delude myself, I purposefully sought some honest hair feedback from my husband and a few trusted girlfriends. They confirmed it looked good. I should have taken pictures.

By Day 8, my hair was definitely looking dull, but it remained soft and fluffy. By Day 10 (yesterday), when my finger finally started to feel better, I decided to wash. I was kind of shocked my wash session was not all that bad in terms of tangles. I cleansed with SheaMoisture's Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo. That stuff works splendidly on my hair. It's so creamy and luscious, and my curls just melt! I conditioned with SheaMoisture's matching conditioner and used my hands to detangle -- no comb whatsoever. After rinsing it out, I followed with a dollop of my two-dollar Suave Coconut conditioner for slip as a leave-in. Bam. Done.

This pic is a "before" to give you an idea of the growth I've seen in the past 6-7 weeks:

My hair after unexpected cut, around Jan 8, 2012

Here's my day-old bed-head twist out today (on hair which didn't fully dry, so it is slightly shrunken):
Hair as of Monday, Feb 20, 2012 (slightly stretched)
It may not seem like much of a difference, but definitely filling out. The shape is kind of funky, but I wasn't going outside the house today anyway.

The moral of the story? The next time my lime spoils, I'm just going to throw it out. And I don't have to detangle or style daily. In fact, I now know I can stretch a twist-out for much longer than I initially thought possible, going from a defined curly look to a chunky fro without doing anything to it except spritzing and fluffing.

I would love to hear if any of you had similar experiences with lengthening the time between washes, or avoiding styling pretty much altogether. Until next time, grace and peace be unto you all, and praise ye the Lord!