Oct 21, 2014

Beauty Conglomerate L'Oreal Buys Out Carol's Daughter



As seen on Black Girl with Long Hair!

More Carol's Daughter news broke early in the day on Monday, October 20th. Beauty conglomerate L'Oreal acquired the Carol's Daughter brand. Lisa Price, Carol's Daughter Founder and President made the following video announcement via the Carol's Daughter Facebook Page:
“I want to thank all of you for the support and the love and for being beside me, and I want you to hold my hand as we walk into this next chapter of the Carol’s Daughter life... It brings me so much pride and joy to be able to join a family like L’Oreal because I know I’ll be with the right shepherd ... the company that will help to take what I’ve built and solidify it in its place in history and beauty, and I don’t have to wonder if, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, will there still be a Carol’s Daughter brand. ... ”
Price further expands,

I have worked hard for the past 21 years nurturing my brand and am thrilled that we will have a new home with L'Oréal USA. L’Oréal has a proven track record of helping established companies achieve their full potential while staying true to the core of the brand and they have an understanding of the future of multi-cultural beauty.  I could not be more proud to begin this next chapter of the Carol's Daughter brand with them. I know that my mother (Carol) is smiling as well.”

In a separate statement, L'Oreal USA's President Frederick Roze sheds some light on what drove the aquisition:
"Carol’s Daughter possesses an expertise in the multicultural consumer segment, a rapidly expanding market that represents an important growth opportunity in the beauty industry. This acquisition will enable L’Oreal USA to build a new dedicated multicultural beauty division as part of our Consumer Products business, and strengthen the company’s position in this dynamic market."
The L'Oreal website and official press release identifies the Carol's Daughter brand as an "American multi-cultural beauty brand with a pioneering heritage in the natural beauty movement". Furthermore, the beauty conglomerate articulates that Carol's Daughter caters to a "diverse, rapidly growing market and has established a loyal consumer following across the country" while throwing in the facts and figures -- Carol's Daughter brought in $27 million in sales during the last 12 months.

Carol's Daughter will join 28 other brands under the L'Oreal umbrella, including NYX, Essie, Clarisonic, Garnier, Lancome, Maybelline New York, Softsheen-Carson, Redken, Urban Decay, Georgio Armani Beauty, and others. The closing of the deal is still subject to regulatory approvals, but it's pretty much a done deal.

Now that we've gotten the facts out of the way, let's have a little candid conversation. Fair warning about the words ahead: they're 100% honest. I may come across a little harsh to some of you, and for that I apologize in advance. Ultimately, my intent is not to drag Lisa Price or Carol's Daughter. I just want us to engage ourselves a little more critically in matters pertaining to natural hair. Feel free to disagree with me at any point, as I'm hoping this article will inspire thoughtful (respectful) debate.

Let's carry on.

The last time we had a chat about Carol's Daughter, it was back in April about the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing of the Carol's Daughter Stores leg of the brand. It was in that article I shared that Lisa Price no longer owned the brand she created, rather that it was owned by Pegasus Capital Advisors, LP. It's no secret that the brand sought to "broaden" the scope of who the brand caters to, by introducing a more "polyethnic" marketing campaign -- much to the chagrin of long-time Carol's Daughters supporters. The sale of Carol's Daughter aligned with this multi-ethnic approach, and what many former supporters have identified as a decline in the quality and ingredients of the products.

Everything in me wants to be happy for Lisa Price -- I wish her nothing but success and continued blessings as a pioneer in the natural hair industry. I'm not a hater, nor do I wish ill upon her. Carol's Daughter is (?) her legacy, and let's keep it real -- when her brand launched in 1993, I was only 8 years old. She's undoubtedly a natural hair heavyweight who helped pave the way for brands like Camille Rose Naturals, Alikay Naturals, Oyin Handmade, Koils By Nature, TGIN, Soultanicals, Eden BodyWorks and countless others. In that regard, she has my respect. But when I take a step back and look at the latest business moves of Carol's Daughter with a more critical lens, I see something very problematic.

Off the bat without even thinking too hard, I see dollar signs. Roze's statement reads like a flashback to Duck Tales, with Scrooge McDuck diving into a vault of golden coins and dollar bills. To put it plainly, L'Oreal wants our money...now. I would have respected Roze a little (a very, very little bit) more had he just come out and said, "We see how lucrative this natural hair thing is, and well, we want in."

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with wanting to benefit financially from a market segment on an upward trajectory. Heck, I'd be lying if I said I never entertained the thought of founding my own line of products. Small business owners don't just create brands with plans of taking hopes, dreams, and hugs to the bank -- they're in it to make money too. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to financially benefit and leave a footprint in a community that you are an active participant in. But this acquisition in my opinion, is just disingenuous.


After all, L'Oreal has been shading Black women for years. In 2008, L'Oreal came under fire internationally for being accused of (and denying) lightening Beyonce's skin in print advertisements. The very next year, Garnier (one of the 28 brands under the L'Oreal banner) was forced by French courts to pay out over 60,000 Euros in fines and damages for intentionally creating an all-White sales team to promote the brand throughout Europe. [source]. In 2012, L'Oreal was under the microscope again, for broadcasting what many believed to be a commercial in which Beyonce distances herself from Blackness by identifying as African-American, Native American, and French. [source]

And this latest acquisition is nothing more than a facade for the shading that will continue under the banner of "multiculturalism". I have absolutely no qualm with celebrating natural hair and beauty with women across the African Diaspora, and women who claim more than one ethnicity (I don't talk in terms of race, as it is a social construct -- but that's another article for another time). There is beauty in our diversity, and no haphazard marketing campaign can take that away. But the deliberate "lightwashing" of the natural hair community does us a collective disservice. Calling Carol's Daughter an "American multi-cultural beauty brand" is reminiscent of Raven-Symone foolery nothing short of a slap in the face. After all, American standards of beauty are what ultimately forced the hand of the natural hair counterculture. To allow the brand to fall to the point of being labeled as some bubbling cauldron of ethnically obscure and culturally ambiguous dollar signs and hair milks is an insult to every woman of color who has ever supported Carol's Daughter.

At the end of the day, I'm sure this is an incredibly lucrative deal for both Price and Carol's Daughter -- but at what cost? I'm talking more than alienating faithful customers (because there will always be new ones to replace ya'll #keepitreal) or potential changes in formula (pure speculation on my part, but it has happened before). I'm talking about our economic legacy as a natural hair community. Whether Price and the Carol's Daughter team believes L'Oreal has what it takes to etch the brand in stone for the next 20 or 30 years is not for me to debate or dispel. My concerns is this: that the Carol's Daughter brand (with Lisa Price as the face) is continuing a dangerous trend of Black owned (or in this case, formerly Black owned) businesses aspiring to be bought out by mainstream companies who prior to now, have quite deliberately ignored us. Our communities will never grow to be economically stable or independent if we continue to let our end-game success be defined by mainstream valuation.

I'll leave you with this quote from Price herself in response to a concerned supporter (who had hoped the news wasn't true because she feels sadness when Black owned companies are sold to major white corporations), which I found while perusing my Instagram explore feed:
"...Please don't be sad. It is business. It isn't about color. Honestly. This is a good and phenomenal thing for me, my brand and my family. I am not going anywhere. I am proud to have been able to grow from $100 at a flea market in Brooklyn, making products in my kitchen to being sought by a French conglomerate. Please know, this is good. I promise you."

What are your thoughts on the L'Oreal acquisition of Carol's Daughter? Savvy business move, or another blow to the natural hair community?

Sources:

http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2014/10/carol_s_daughter_is_acquired_by_l_oreal_usa.html?wpisrc=topstories

http://www.lorealusa.com/press-releases/loreal-usa-signs-agreement-to-acquire-carols-daughter.aspx

http://bossip.com/125751/loreal-we-dont-want-black-women-selling-our-cosmetics/

http://thegrio.com/2012/02/10/beyonce-describes-herself-as-african-american-native-american-french-in-new-loreal-ad/#s:beyonce-true-match-loreal-ad-jpg

Oct 19, 2014

Naturally Fresh: 7 Hot Shirts and Accessories Inspired By Natural Hair



Article also on Black Girl with Long Hair!

The natural hair movement has inspired a lot of things -- from meetups and shows, to songs and sororities. Although some things may make you want to cringe, a lot of naturally-inspired creations will have you hunting down Etsy shops and pop-up botiques to get your hands on goods. But before you start scrambling for Pins on Pinterest and googling "natural hair accessories", check this short list out. It's a great launching pad for getting your feet wet in accessorizing your TWA, locs, coils, curls, and kinks.

Mind you, there are plenty of online shops and boutiques that sell natural hair apparel and accessories. These are just a few of my hand-picked favorites. Be sure to share yours in the comments!

Dynasmiles iPhone and Samsung Cases -- www.thedynasmiles.com


Created by incredibly talented graphic designer, illustrator, and owner of DNT Dynamite Designs Daveia Odoi, the Dynasmiles brand offers tech accessories, stationery, event invitation, and apparel all with a colorful flair. But can we talk about these cases though? Curls, coils, fros, and locs galore!

Kinky Chicks  Educated Natural Queen Slouchy Sweatshirt -- www.kinkychicks.bigcartel.com


There are a lot of natural hair inspired sweatshirts ripe for the online picking, but the Educated Natural Queen slouchy sweatshirt from Kinky Chicks Lifestyle Apparel is my absolute favorite. Not only is the message self-affirming, but the print itself is a delightful nod back to the wonderfully funny Black sitcom many of us grew up on -- Martin. Enjoy, 80's and 90's kids.

Tees in the Trap Natural hair Made Me Poor Tee -- www.teesinthetrap.com

In the same way that there are tons of natural hair sweatshirts to choose from, there are infinitely more tee-shirts. The Natural Hair Made Me Poor tee, from the very tongue-in-cheek Tees In The Trap is a standout jab at us product junkies. I'd rock this shirt proudly, any day of the week (while out shopping for hair products, naturally).

Cotton Candy Playground Blend in for What Tote Bag -- www.cottoncandyhair.com


The home of the official #BlendinforWhat?! campaign, supporting women in owning and defining beauty for ourselves. The handmade Blend in for What?! canvas bags are stylish, handmade, and a great way to make a statement.

The Wrap Life Electric Lady Head Wrap -- www.shopwraplife.com


Temperatures are starting to drop (although LA is a bit on the late freight), and some of you ladies may be looking into protective styling to shield your tresses from the elements. Wraps from The Wrap Life are a great way to keep your hair protected while turning heads. My personal favorite design is the Electric Lady. Oh, and they show you how to wrap them too!

Toni Daley Earrings -- www.tonidaley.bigcartel.com




Featuring carved wooden designs, Toni Daley's earring collection is a natural's paradise. For the ladies that love big, bold earrings, there are designs like "Pick Yo Afro" and "Love My Hair". If you're not in to big earrings, there are more subtle stud designs to choose from. I love the "Africa" and "Princess" crown studs. You can also purchase the "Get Well Meechy" ribbon earrings, to support natural hair vlogger Meechy Monroe's expensive recovery from brain cancer. All profits from the sale of the "Get Well Meechy" earrings will be donated directly to Monroe's medical expenses.

Global Couture Locs and Lipstick Mug -- www.globalcouture.net
 
Have your morning coffee or sip some hot Teavana (#nokermit) from Global Couture's Locs & Lipstick ceramic mug. It is simple and chic, and also comes in a Curls & Lipstick option. This mug is the perfect subtle statement for ladies on the job (can't you just see this mug on your desk?) who can't always boldly express themselves and their love for natural hair.

These are just a few of the many, many clothes and accessories out there for ladies with natural hair. What are some of your favorites?

Oct 16, 2014

When Your Favorite Blogger/Vlogger Says "Do You", Believe Her.


This post originally started out as something completely different. I was going to do a series of blogs and vlogs following regimens and tutorials from popular vloggers -- kinda like "Christina Patrice does Nap85's Twist Out" or "Christina Patrice does Hey Fan Hey's Wash Day". Sounds like a fun idea, right?

Well, this week stopped me dead in my tracks.

I planned to start my series with Mo Knows Hair's wash and go, using ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer Spray and Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner, followed buy a silicone serum (I wasn't about to go out and waste my money on no darn Chi...#nottoday). I watched her video, and followed the fairly straightforward instructions: shampoo, deep condition, apply product, air dry, diffuse, more product, diffuse some more, and finish it off.

Now I'm sitting here with an emergency deep conditioning treatment going on under the hooded dryer. Let's just suffice it to say, the experiment was a total fail. Not because Mo Knows Hair doesn't know her stuff, but because at the end of the day she and I have two different heads of hair. I knew that going in -- but I didn't expect such as terrible end result. I thought I would get somewhere in the ballpark of a decent wash and go. I wasn't even close.

Every single quality I thought the Mixed Chicks Leave-In would have, it didn't. I thought it would have slip -- negative. Just barely enough to get the product through the hair. I thought it would be moisturizing (that random yellow color reminds me of egg yolks, which in my mind I equate to cholesterol, which therefore equates to softness) -- it came up short. I thought it would at least abate some frizz -- more disappointment. Any hold and definition the Leave-In provided was outshone by the awkward shrunkenness and itchy scalp I experienced in the day following. There are only a few products I've encountered that have performed so poorly, that I never want to see them again. Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner is now on that very short list.

Here's why:


My hair may look halfway decent here (and I'm being generous), but it felt horrible. It felt incredibly dry, tangled way too easily, and that darn Mixed Chicks sent my scalp psoriasis into a frenzy! I was hoping the leave-in would be light enough to give me big hair, but still heavy enough to give great definition and moisture. Nope, and nope. And more fail after an attempt at some stretching and fluffing:


Here is me giving up all hope -- and failing miserably while doing it.

My hair was so tangled in the aftermath, that I reached a point in one curl where there was NOTHING I could do to save it. It was so tangled, matted, wrapped in itself, and impossible to detangle that I had no choice but to cut it. No comb, brush, bobby pin, or amount of conditioner was working. Ugh.


Don't act like you never tried to take a picture of you blowing up wisps of your hair in frustration, and snapped at the wrong time!


Now that you're done laughing at me, let's rap for a second about expectations and reality when it comes to this natural hair thing. 

One of the things I love about the natural hair community is the diversity in representation. Underneath the umbrella of natural, there are all textures, types, thicknesses, lengths, patterns, and more. But with that diversity in hair types comes a diversity in opinions and experiences. What works for someone may not work for you, and vice versa. A product I rave about and give 5 stars, you may actually hate.

And that's okay.

You hating a product I love, or me failing to exactly replicate a vlogger's roller set doesn't make me or them disingenuous or ill-informed. It simply means that I am doing what works for me, they are doing what works for them, and you should do what works for you.

This is exactly why I don't believe in natural hair "gurus". Technically speaking, a guru is simply a recognized leader in a particular area. But we attach so much more meaning to our natural hair gurus -- we erroneously attribute them to being all-knowing, unquestionably absolute authorities on every single facet of natural hair. In reality, nobody holds that crown. I've learned and experienced a lot, and I share it here on the blog. If what I'm saying isn't based on experience alone, I've done my research to back it up. I respond to reader e-mails, questions on Facebook and Instagram, and help random ladies while I'm out and about at Target and Sally's. None of this makes me a guru.

But does this stop me from sharing what I know? No. See, one thing about me that has ALWAYS been a personality trait of mine is that I like to help people -- and sometimes to a fault. I'm the person that will be on the set-up and clean-up crew, after everyone else's trifilin' behind has gone home. I'll take on a project by myself before I let it fall through the cracks. I say "yes" and "sure" more than I probably should. I don't say this to pat myself on the back or feel special. I'm just giving you all a little insight in to why I continue to blog. I love to help people, and if the information and experiences I'm having can be helpful, informative, or inspirational, there's absolutely no reason for me to hoard it to myself.

At the end of the day, your favorite bloggers and YouTubers really are like a launching pad. Everything said or written is not gospel, it is a starting point for you to digest and make informed decisions. Just because the tutorial gave them flawless results doesn't mean you'll get them too. But maybe they're using a product you might want to consider. Or perhaps, the same method with different products will do you justice. Take what is presented to you, tweak it, and make it your own.

In other words, #doyouboo!

Do you believe in natural hair gurus? Why or why not? Share in the comments!

Oct 12, 2014

12 Natural Hair Pages to Follow on Instagram



Your journey to uploading on Instagram probably goes something like:

1. Find best lighting source.
2. Wipe camera lens to remove smudges and prints.
3. Smile, pose, make a cute face, or look down (we all know you still took the picture)
4. Click.
5. Examine, make adjustments, and repeat steps 1-4 approximately 10 more times.
6. Scrutinize each picture, deleting those that don't make your hair look amazing, your smile look perfect, and your skin look flawless.
7. Be unsatisfied, delete 9 of 11 pictures and repeat steps 1-4 10 more times.
8. Finally find the perfect picture, filter, and upload to Instagram with hashtag.....

And here's where we come in. What started out as an easy way to catch what's trending on a particular topic across the vast expanse of Twitter has become a useful filter (haha!) for Instagram photos. Want to see who else has #naturalhair? Search it. Hmm, who else is using that new Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker? Do they have a review? #CurlMaker it is! The point is, there's tons of hashtags floating around the 'gram. Many of them belong to ladies dedicated to featuring the gorgeous diversity of natural hair on what are considered natural hair pages" of Instagram. In the same vein of being shaded out of mainstream (social) media pages, these natural hair pages are 100% committed to unifying, uplifting, and and supporting natural hair in every shade, texture, length, style, and state around the world.

Head on over to NaturallyCurly.com to check out these dynamic social media accounts for natural hair inspiration!

Oct 11, 2014

Leave-In Conditioners: The Ultimate Guide for Natural & Transitioning Hair



I'm a big believer in leave-in conditioners. Rarely will you ever catch me with a style that doesn't have some sort of leave-in.

Why?

Because in my opinion, leave-in conditioner is an essential part of moisture retention, maintaining healthy hair, and long-lasting style. It doesn't matter what texture or type of hair you have, a leave-in should be at the foundation of every style you do. Now what you do after that leave-in, whether it be LCO, LOC, LCB, LBC, ABCDEFG...that's none of my business. But I promise you, if you don't already have one, you need some type of leave-in conditioner as a part of your regimen.

Leave-In For What?
Do you want your hair to remain hydrated? Do you want to prevent breakage as much as possible? Do you want your hair to feel soft and smooth? Would you like your hair to shine more? How about a little less poof, and a little more of the "right" kind of frizz (you know what I'm talking about)? If you answered yes to any one of the questions above, then that's exactly why you need a leave-in conditioner as a part of your haircare and styling regimen. Transitioning ladies, this goes for you too. The key to a successful transition centers around preventing breakage at the line of demarcation. After washing and deep conditioning, applying a leave-in helps prevent breakage by installing moisture and improving elasticity. If something hasn't been quite right with your hair, and you're not using a leave-in, that should probably be the first thing you change.

Do I Really Need to Buy Another Product?
Maybe....maybe not. Depending on my mood, and styling product choice (some products just don't want to be friends with any leave-ins), my leave-ins range from halfway rinsed out conditioner, to spritzes, to full-strength goopy goodness. I'm not here to tell you to buy anything (I promise...scout's honor). If you've been using a DIY leave-in or diluting your favorite conditioner and it's working, then do you boo! Just remember to keep an eye on changes in color, odor, and consistency (because of the lack of preservatives) in anything you pre-mix and store.

But if you're like me and you're a product junkie, the world is your oyster. There are leave-ins of all shapes, sizes, price ranges, and consistencies -- and they all serve their purpose. But how do you know which one you need, which one will work for your hair type, and which one pairs with what product? The truth is, there is no one end-all, be-all answer. We all have different textures and types of hair, and a lot of the time on the same darn head. So what I'd like to offer up is stepping away from the hair typing system for a second, and instead do some product typing. In other words, let's match up the type of product you're using to the type of leave-in conditioner that works best. Ready? Let's go!
The Ultimate Leave-In Conditioner Match Up

Now that we've got the quick reference guide above, let's explore why I categorized and made the recommendations I did:

Heavy Gels & Custards
Heavy gels and custards are thick, stiff, and notorious for not having the best slip. They tend to form the hardest gel casts, which can mean crunchy hair. But all hope is not lost. Pairing your thicker gels with a medium-consistency leave-in will ensure that your hair doesn't turn into a pack of crispy ramen noodles. In my experience, medium consistency leave-in conditioners provide enough moisture and protection for the hair, while still playing nicely with the heavy gels. Heavier and thicker gels can be difficult to pair products with (tried to work out a combo with Eco Styler lately?), but medium consistency leave-ins have just the right thickness and water content to avoid the dreaded white balls of gloop. Of course, before you haul off and start mixing random product combinations, perform a patch test, or at least rub them together in your hands to see what happens first.

Jellies & Souffles
Of all the gel types, jellies and souffles tend to be the most moisturizing. They often contain humectants like agave, glycerin, and honey relatively high on the list, which can lend themselves to being too sticky if used in excess. Because of the moisturizing nature of these gels, pairing them with a light leave-in (think watered down conditioner) works best. Too much moisture means the hair will never dry, will look stringy, feel tacky, and result in mega frizz (the kind you don't want). Jellies and souffles tend to be mucous-y and gooey in texture, and a light leave-in conditioner helps balance out. Light leave-ins tend to mix really easily with this type of styler.

Thin/Liquid Serum Gels
These gels are often quick and to the point. Depending on the formulation, they have varying levels of staying power. But what they all have in common is polyquats -- those styling polymers responsible for encouraging curl clumping and hold. The liquid gels may or may not have oils and extracts in them, but for the most part none of them possess the particular quality of being moisturizing. For this reason, pairing these runny stylers with rich and creamy leave-ins guarantees that your hair won't be dried out when all is said and done.

Defining Creams
On the rare occasion that I use a defining cream, leave-in conditioner can seem like somewhat of an afterthought. After all, defining creams are a glorious combination of moisturizers, conditioners, emollients, oils, butters, and polyquats. They provide touchable hold, and super soft hair. You could skip a leave-in altogether here, but I don't recommend it. Where the other styling products form gel casts that help lock the moisture into the hair, defining creams really don't have that capability. So the more hydration you can pack into your hair prior to, the better. But you don't need anything super heavy, because it is not only redundant, it will leave you with never-drying mushy hair. A leave-in spray provides just enough moisture to help prep your curls for styling.

Blow Drying/Heat Styling
If you plan on using heat in any capacity, whether it be for a blowout, roller or rod set, or as prep for flat ironing, using a leave-in is vital to the health of your hair. Leave-ins (often labeled as smoothing creams, primers, or blow drying cremes) for heat styling provide heat protection by maintaining the internal hydration of your hair, smoothing it, filling in cuticle cracks, softening, and improving elasticity. All of these things will help prevent heat damage and breakage. However, using the right type of leave-in is key. If you plan to do a style that thrives on moveability, a light spray leave-in like It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In (I'm partial to the one with keratin) or Infusium 23 Pro-Vitamin B5 is optimal. However, if you are rocking a twist, braid, or bantu knot-out, a medium or light leave-in is perfect. See the chart above for product ideas.

Whew! I hope all of that made sense. Of course, this is not a definitive list, and by no means is anything written in stone. If you find that one type of leave-in works better than another for a particular product, then don't change it! This is really just a launching pad for ladies who aren't crystal clear on how and when to use certain types of leave-in conditioners.

Up next: my favorite wash and go combos :)

Oct 8, 2014

I'm Breaking Up with My Satin Scarf....[New Pineapple Method]

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple


Dear Satin Scarf,

You know, we've been together for a long time. You've held me down night in and night out, protecting me and keeping me covered. I can honestly say you're my day 1. Even when I got my satin pillowcase, I kept you with me because I knew in my heart that I still needed you. But lately, I've been feeling like we aren't quite seeing eye-to-eye. You've changed, and I feel like we're growing apart. Or maybe it's just that I've outgrown you. You know what they say, everything has a season. Maybe our season is over. 

Even though this seems like the end, just know that we'll always have memories. Nothing can ever replace what you've been to me over the years. I'll still need you from time to time, so I hope that I can find you when that time comes. I hope you understand. You'll always be in my heart, and in my drawer.

Love Always,
Christina


Yes yes, ya'll, I'm ditching my satin scarf -- at least when it comes to pineappling. As many of you guys know, I've been going to bed like this for a cool minute (as evidenced by the fact that I'm clearly still transitioning in the pic):


But now, I'll be going to bed looking something like this:

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

Okay, let me explain. I read a few weeks ago on Shelli of Hairscapades' blog about her repurposing a net wig cap as a way of allowing her to sleep in styles that need to dry and set overnight, while leaving the roots smooth. 

SHE'S. A. GENIUS. 

Since I don't really do twist or braid-outs (but now that I have the cap I can do one overnight if I choose), I wondered about using the wig cap to smooth and stretch the roots of my wash and go while it dried. So I took it to task last week while en-route to my sister's baby shower at her job:

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

I hated the results. I mean, the thing worked. Too well, in my opinion. My roots and the top of my head were flaaaaaaaat. It just seemed...weird. So I nixed that idea. Then I read Shelli's comment on my Instagram about using the hole in the wig cap (or in my case, cutting one in) for a bun or ponytail. Then the idea came to me: what about using this thing to pineapple overnight? Turns out, I had my own mini streak of genius. 

I've been annoyed with my scarf pineapple lately, because if I tie it too tight, it stretched my already naturally loose back half too much. But if I tie it too loose, it slips off into the worst sort of pointless scrunchie ever, leaving the entire back of my head free to tangle and be trifilin'. My only saving grace is that I sleep on a satin pillowcase as well.

So when the idea to wig net pineapple hit me, I had to give it a try. And yes, it was a complete success! I was able to toss, turn, sleep wildly, drool, kick my covers around, snore, and do all of those unattractive things I do during the night. Here's how everything went down, and what you can expect if you choose to join me:

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

I purchased the closed top weaving net from Sally Beauty for about $3. You can get the already open one if you like, but it takes all of two seconds to snip the top off. That's it. That's all you need to do to make this thing. #simple

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

Next, pull it over your head and look like a struggle version of On The Run. I'm kidding, Just open the thing up like a donut, and pull it over your head with the band at the bottom.

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple
Pardon my expression. I really am not "over it" as my eyes would suggest...lol.

Make sure you pull your hair through the opening, and position it like a headband to get started.

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

Pull the open part of the net over the back of your hair first, to create that forward-gathered pineapple business.

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

That's it! You're done! Here's how it looks from the back:

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

The curls are held together and protected, and the band keeps it from slipping off in the middle of the night!

wig-net-natural-hair-pineapple

When I removed the wig net the next morning, this is how my curls looked before I shook, fluffed, and pulled them down.

By the way, if you're going to do the wig net pineapple, make sure you have a satin pillowcase! The net doesn't provide the full protection from cotton pillowcases that the satin scarf does, so you'll definitely need to keep that in mind. All the net does is keep the curls in place overnight.

Enjoy!

Let me know in the comments if you'll be trying this out. Much <3 to Shelli for the idea!

Back to Basics: Is Pre-Pooing Really Necessary?

Coconut oil is one of the few oils that is able to penetrate the hair -- making it both a moisturizer and a sealant!

As a transitioning and natural hair blogger, I love to observe (and sometimes participate in) the waves and trends that roll through the natural hair community. First, it was all about growth, length retention, and proving that textured hair could be just as fab (if not moreso....but hey, I'm biased) as straight hair. Now, some of our favorite bloggers and YouTubers are doing second and third chops, and tapered cuts are taking the reins. Coloring natural hair used to be met with the side eye, but now bright and bold colors are everywhere -- with only a marginal few claiming that hair dye strips you of the title of naturalista. What used to be a race for the most complicated regimen is now met with "ain't nobody got time for that" and a supreme side eye. The current trend in minimalist/lazy natural hair care has ladies looking to eliminate the fluff from regimens, focusing only on what's necessary.

Which brings me to this point: is pre-pooing a necessary step in your wash day regimen? Could that 30 minutes to an hour be better spent, or eliminated to truncate wash day?

The answer isn't as cut and dry as one would think. The real answer depends on what you're using to prepoo your hair, who's advice you trust, and what has yielded the best results for your own head of hair. Let's explore the two most common pre-poo methods, and what folks have to say about them over at NaturallyCurly.com!

Oct 7, 2014

Mielle Organics Review

mielle-organics-review

Thanks to Mandy for reminding me to post this :)

It's no secret -- I'm a product junkie. I love the thrill of the chase -- discovering new products and brands, re-imagining old favorites, and everything in between.

When the opportunity to try out Mielle Organics came knocking, I couldn't say no! Founded by waist length textured hair beauty Monique Rodriguez, and vouched for by curlies with gorgeous manes, Mielle Organics is a budding small business brand aimed at helping ladies of all textures and hair types grow long, healthy hair. With a focus on simple ingredients and getting back to the basics of haircare, Mielle Organics aims to nourish, strengthen, and protect hair at each stage of growth.

mielle-organics-review
After the Honey Dew Berry Co-Wash

The Mielle Organics line consists of the Honey Dew Berry Detangling Co-Wash, Almond Mint Oil, and Healthy Hair Formula vitamins. I had the opportunity to try both the Co-Wash and Almond Mint Oil. How did these products stack up against some of my favorite cowashes and oils? Find out below!

mielle-organics-review
I used the Mint Almond Oil to add shine to my straight natural hair!

Head on over to NaturallyCurly.com to read my review of the Honey Dew Berry Detangling Co-Wash and the Almond Mint Oil!

Healthy Recipe: Ground Chicken Mini Meatloaf

ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

I was supposed to launch this segment on October 1st, but other things got in the way. A while back on Instagram and Facebook, I asked if you guys would be interested in me sharing my healthy recipes -- and 99.9% of ya'll said yes. So here it is! This month and going forward, I'll really be ramping up the "healthy living" aspect of the blog. Health and wellness, Mane Objective style :)

For those of you that are curious, I'm not on any sort of special diet -- I'm not a "clean" eating connoisseur (although I minimize processed foods as much as possible), I don't quite understand the obsession with paleo (no judgement if you do), and I'm not too interested in alkaline, Mediterranean, low-fat, carb-free, and other random diets. I'm simply on a journey to be well -- to make small, sustainable lifestyle changes that will have a bigger impact over time.

I've posted pictures of my random dalliances in the kitchen (I really enjoy cooking), and have been asked for recipes. So here's the first one: Ground Chicken Mini Meatloaf. This recipe may be considered clean, paleo, or whatever -- I'm not sure of all the rules. All I know is that it's made with some simple ingredients, is way easy to do, and tastes yummy. I also know that it's low in fat and sodium, and high in protein. You'll need:
  • cupcake/muffin pan(s)
  • nonstick cooking spray (I use Trader Joe's Olive Oil Cooking Spray)
  • 2 lbs of ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (I used yellow and red)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 can tomato paste (I use Trader Joe's)
  • 2 teaspoons Flavor God Everything Seasoning (instant substitute: Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 1 teaspoon Flavor God Garlic Lovers Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • pepper, garlic powder, onion, and smoked paprika to taste
  • parsley (for garnish)
Directions (Yield: 15 meatloaf muffins)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, bell peppers, and seasonings. Mix thoroughly by hand or with a nonstick rubber spatula. 




ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

3. After seasonings and bell peppers are evenly mixed throughout the meat, add in spinach first and mix again. Pour in egg whites last. Mix until all of the egg whites are completely folded into the meat and vegetables.

ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe
ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

4. Spray muffin pan(s) with nonstick cooking spray, and scoop meatloaf mixture into each tin evenly.

ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

5. Bake for 30 minutes on 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mini meatloaves will be brown on top and cooked all the way through.
ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

6. Remove from oven, and spread approximately half a tablespoon of tomato paste on top of each meatloaf muffin. Garnish with parsley.
ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe




ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

7. Return mini meatloaves to oven for 5 minutes to let the tomato paste bake on.

ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

8. Remove from oven, let the mini meatloaves stand for 5 minutes, then transfer them individually to a container or plate for storage or serving.

ground chicken mini meatloaf recipe

Enjoy!


Nutrition Information:
Serving Size 1 Mini Meatloaf
Fat 4.8g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 45.3mg
Sodium 178.8mg
Potassium 238.5mg
Total Carbs 3.6g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Sugars 2.3g
Protein 12.9g
Vitamin A 19.2%
Vitamin C 21.3%
Calcium 2.4%
Iron 6.9%

Let me know how you guys like this recipe <3

Oct 2, 2014

I Tried the Max Hydration Method...and I Liked It! (MHM Recap + Day 7 Update)


Article also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair!

Back in August, I wrote an article breaking down what exactly the Max Hydration Method (MHM) is, and what it claims to do. The comments on the article were all over the spectrum -- from devout followers of the MHM, to skeptics and those who loathe the concept of "chasing a curl pattern". In case you missed the article, click here for a full breakdown.

I understand, different stroke for different folks. I'll be debunking myths about the MHM later on my blog, but for now I just want to share my experience for those that are curious and want the facts before taking the plunge.

I know I don't have type 4, low porosity hair. I know the Max Hydration Method wasn't designed with me in mind. Although it was championed for naturals with type 4 and more specifically, 4c hair, creator PinkeCube also shared that any natural hair type can follow the method if they're intersted in achieving better definition, and improving the health and length retention of their hair while decreasing dryness, knotting, and breakage.

So again, I'll re-iterate that I don't fit the intended profile of a Max Hydration Method challenge participant. But let me share why I decided to embark on the 7 day (I'll explain what that means for me in a bit) journey:

1. I fully believe in investigative bloggerism. I don't like to sit up on some social media perch and just throw information. It has been my intention since I first wrote the article on the method, to actually try it and develop an informed opinion on the process and results.
 
2. I live in LA -- I've got dry air, hard water, and pollution (and traffic lol) working against me. The amount of clarifying and detoxifying involved could potentially stand to greatly improve the overall health of my hair.

3. I've got problem areas. My crown, and the front/center section of my hair are notoriously fuzzy, difficult to define, and more prone to breakage. I also have really dry ends. If the Max  Hydration Method could help rectify those, I would be eternally grateful.

4. It could help me build a more disciplined regimen. For those that have been hanging out with me since my transitioning days, you know I've never been a huge fan of regimens. I just did what I needed to do to my hair when I felt like doing it. That  "when I felt like doing it" part sometimes gets me into trouble with my hair -- resulting in more tangles and dryness (and sometimes breakage) than necessary. Following such a strict and thorough regimen via the Max Hydration Method would help me basically, get my life.

Now that you know why I would do such a thing, let's get on with my experience -- the good, the bad, the ugly, and the jaw-dropping.

***PLEASE NOTE***
I am not an expert on the Max Hydration Method. All research and credit for developing the regimen goes to Pinke Cube, and Miss Dee Kay has done a wonderful job with videos and blog posts to lay everything out. I simply took their template and did what you're supposed to do with this natural hair thing -- I made it work for me. You can go as by-the-book as you like, or deviate based upon your preferences. Make it work for you! 

Day 1
Day 1 for me was an absolute mess. I was exhausted, confused, and overwhelmed. Even though I wrote the article breaking the Max Hydration Method down...I still had to go back again, again, and again to maxhydrationmethod.com to double fact-check what I thought I knew. Looking back, the source of my irritation and frustration was definitely the Cherry Lola Treatment. Having to cowash, air dry, do the treatment, and then let it sit for an hour and a half on my hair definitely took all the wind out of my lil' sail. After doing the baking soda cowash/rinse (Tresemme Naturals Conditioner + water + baking soda), I barely had the energy to deep condition. So I broke one of the cardinal rules (haha) of DC'ing -- I did it overnight. Although many folks frown upon lengthy deep conditioning sessions (see hygral fatigue), the MHM guidelines suggest that if you can't complete all the steps in one day, leaving the deep conditioner or clay in overnight is fine. I continued day 1 on what was technically day 2 (I'll explain that ball of confusion a little later), and got really excited after the clay mask. I was shocked to find that by the time I was ready to put my leave-in and styler on my hair, I had significantly less poof and frizz than I normally do. At this point, I knew for me the game changers would be the baking soda cowash and bentonite clay mask. 


Days 2 through 7
After the day 1 debacle, the regimen fell into place for me. I made modifications where necessary (more on that later also), and things began running like clockwork. Baking soda cowash, deep condition, clay, style. After day 2, I really started to wonder if I was just being melodramatic. It really wasn't that bad, and it was the same number of steps that I normally do on any given wash day -- 4. Detangle, cleanse, deep condition, style. The only major change is that I'm detangled with the baking soda cowash instead of using a separate product beforehand, and added in the clay. I will say, that the process is still not for the faint of heart. If you're a every 2-3 weeks hair washer, upgrading that to every 2-3 days will have you contemplating if it is at all worth it (the answer is yes). 


In addition to the fact that the process ran much smoother on the days following, I began noticing some things about my hair: the definition was improving, detangling was getting easier, my rough ends began disappearing, those trouble patches of hair were fading into obscurity, and finally, I was using less product to achieve my desired wash and go results -- which is major. If you know me, you know I'm heavy handed. I'll use an entire 8oz jar of curl definer without batting an eyelash, on one wash and go. The majority of the jar would go to taming those difficult to define sections, and combatting frizz. Because the MHM was taking care of those issues for me, I was able to achieve the same definition with substantially less product. Ironically, the process that I thought would cost me a lot of money was actually making my pockets smile. Note: I didn't stick to all MHM-approved products (really, I used virtually none of them). I'll explain a little later.

Look at all that product left! I'm getting more than one wash and go out of this!
By the time I reached days 4, 5, and 6, I was doing the method like it was the only thing I had ever done to my hair all my life. My hair was responding incredibly well -- the promises of less tangles, dryness, frizz, breakage, and knotting were definitely being delivered. I was seeing definition (with minimal product, mind you) in places that wouldn't define on their own soaking wet with the stiffest gel. I used to have tons of little wisps of hair (due to my dry ends) every wash day, but now I was seeing them less and less, and eventually, not at all.

My hair also had more "hang time". I'm still on the fence about whether to call it elongation, because elongation suggests a loosening of the curl of sorts. My curl pattern didn't loosen, it just stopped drawing into itself as much. The definition in my hair improved all over, and I really started to feel like my hair was healthier without the use of siliciones.

By the way: I got my wash day down to an hour and thirty minutes. That's an accomplishment for ANY wash day, MHM or not.

Day 7
Mama I made it! By the time day 7 rolled around, I felt some strange sense of accomplishment. I stuck to a regimen, and pretty much used the same products (as far as cleansing and deep conditioning are concerned, at least) throughout. My hair appeared to be in impeccable health, quite possibly the healthiest it has ever been. Every single claim Pinke Cube made was true, based upon my experience. You can officially count me among the believers in the Max Hydration Method. This is going to sound really corny (and I mean really), but I feel like the MHM unlocked my hair's potential. In the back of my mind, I always felt like my hair wasn't being all that it could be. Don't get me wrong -- I love my hair, but I've always felt like something about it was a little off. Like it shouldn't be so parched (even though LA air has like, zero moisture), it shouldn't frizz so easily, and it darn sure shouldn't require so much product. Maybe I should've listened to the folks at Devachan who nearly a year ago told me that my hair was "dehydrated" and I needed to go "silicone free" (sheepish grin). Regardless, I am happy that I embarked on the Max Hydration Method challenge. How many more days/cycles will I do? Who knows. Am I going to stay cone-free? I don't want to think about it right now (because it means getting rid of some favorites). So to answer the one burning question that everyone has about the Max Hydration Method -- does it actually work? In this blogger's opinion, yes.

Hair about 75% dry, but well-defined and pretty frizz-free.
And now, for the portions I told you I'd explain a bit later.

Max Hydration Method Lingo: "Days"
One of the most confusing things about the Max Hydration Method is how days are defined. The regimen is set up to be completed over 7 consecutive days (which constitutes one cycle), but can also be done every 2-3 days. I chose every 3 days, because that was closest to my normal wash pattern of twice per week. Every time you complete the cleansing, conditioning, clay, and styling, that is considered one day -- even if it is three days later. So what could have been accomplished over the course of a week took me nearly a month, because I only advanced 1 day every 3 (and sometimes 4 but don't tell nobody) days. Once you complete 7 days, it is considered a complete cycle.

Max Hydration Method "Approved Products" + Making it Work for You
As with everything in this natural hair community, there are those that adhere strictly to guidelines, and those who go with the spirit of things and tweak guidelines to their liking. I'm a product of the latter. I will say it again and again until I'm blue in the face -- do what works for you! 

There is a limited (albeit growing) list of Max Hydration Method-approved products. I looked them over, but wasn't moved to strictly adhere. I looked over what ingredients to avoid, and I felt that there was some misinformation around how ingredients like polyquats, panthenol, and hydrolyzed proteins are presented. For more on what I mean by that, click here. Beyond ingredient selection, I refused to make the MHM challenge more expensive by rushing out to buy or order new curl definers and leave-ins. As much as I'm a product junkie with a penchant for small business brands, I felt completely comfortable in the hands of Obia, Camille Rose Naturals, Kurlee Belle, TreLuxe, Eden BodyWorks, and others. I tweaked the clay mask recipe to my liking, and even used a different Tresemme Naturals Conditioner (I could only get my hands on the Nourishing Moisture one, which isn't MHM-approved). I still got pretty good results, because I made the conscious decision to incorporate more of the products and ingredients that work well with my hair.

As far as making the regimen work for me, I already mentioned that I did it every 3 days (I stretched to 4 days like twice), and I even skipped a day (read about that here) and got right back on track. I followed this basic regimen which married the general ideas around the MHM with my regular wash day routine:
  • Detangle and cleanse hair in 5-6 sections with Tresemme Naturals Conditioner + water + baking soda cowash using a plastic applicator bottle. Note: vinyl gloves are incredibly helpful in this, and every other step up to and including the clay mask application.
  • Rinse baking soda cowash and apply deep conditioner (I used Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner for most of my days). Deep condition with heat for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse deep conditioner and apply clay mask in small sections (click here for my clay mask recipe), allowing it to sit for up to 30 minutes before hopping in the shower to rinse. Once in the shower and the mask is rinsed out, I apply a little Tresemme Naturals Conditioner and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before rinsing it about halfway out (sometimes I use Tresemme as my only leave-in, sometimes I add another on top). 
  • After the Tresemme, I either add another leave-in or moisturizer, or hop straight to sealing with an oil (typically coconut). Once out of the shower, I apply my styling product in sections, raking and smoothing it through.
 Cost
Another concern with the Max Hydration Method is the amount of money it takes to embark on the challenge. The reality is, it is only as expensive as you make it. Since beginning the MHM challenge, I've spent roughly $34:
  • Tresemme Naturals Conditioner $20 (4 bottles)
  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 67 cents
  • Plain Yogurt for Cherry Lola Treatment $3
  • Indian Healing/Bentonite Clay $10 (I needed a replacement jar after I used the last half of my jar that I've had for over a year)
I already had my own Bragg's Liquid Aminos for the Cherry Lola treatment and as I mentioned previously, I spent no additional money seeking out leave-ins, curl definers, and even deep conditioners. If I choose to continue with more cycles of the MHM, I'll only need to buy more conditioner, baking soda, and clay. 

I think that about covers it, but if you're interested in more nitty-gritty details on my experience with the Max Hydration Method check the links below:


Will you be trying the Max Hydration Method?

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