Going Gray and Going Natural – The Transitioning Double Down

Are you are a woman of a certain age who is thinking about going gray and going natural?  Check out these helpful tips in my article:

8 Simple Tips for Transitioning to Natural Hair While You’re Going Gray


Is Diet Soda Making Your Hair Fall Out?

Here’s a thought provoking article from Hair Boutique on the possible effects of artificial sweeteners.


“Liver malfunction from high toxic filtering of the artificial sweetener particles has definitely been linked to hair loss.”




The Privileged Few – Happy Thanksgiving…

The World Population melted down.  100 Sampled individuals

80 would live in poverty
70 would be literate
50 would suffer hunger and malnutrition
1 would be dying
1 would be being born
1 would own a computer
1 would have a University degree

If you’ve never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture and were not close to death from starvation, then are better off than 500 million people.

If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 Billion people.

If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world’s population

If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet and a few coins in your purse, you are one of the 8 privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world.

30-day No Buy Product Detox – Blessings from my stash

I started a product detox right after Labor Day with some sister curlies on www.naturallycurly.com. The rules were no buying unless it was to replace something used up.  I’m not calling it a challenge because that word for me is an invitation to fail.

Couple of things going against me – for one, new product releases:  Curl Junkie,  Curlisto’s  new line for tight curls/kinks, and Jonathan Torch’s new incredible unshrinking leave in. For two, the Hairveda sale in mid-September. Continue reading

Q&A – Natural and long, but too thin!

 Dora writes:

Q.  I am completely natural and have been for about 7 years now. I have bra length, fine soft hair. My hair does not like to be twisted. When I did wear twists, I did not like them because you could see my scalp. When I wear a ponytail I have to make sure I brush my hair a certain way, so that my scalp won’t show. Is there anything that I can use or do to thicken my hair up. I henna once a month or every 3 weeks and sometimes it depends on how fast the grays decide to show up. I thought by being natural my hair would become thicker on its own.

A.  As a natural for 7 years, your hair has gone through all the phases of growth, probably several times. Let’s just review:

Anagen – active growth – new hair is pushing out the old fiber and the follicle is growing deep for nourishment
Catagen – the transitional phase. Hair detaches from the blood supply and the hair follicle shrinks
Telogen – Resting. Hair fibre easily pulls out
And there is one more phase, mesanagen — a returning to growth.

A full cycle can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years per follicle. And sometimes hair or patches of hair can get stuck in the resting, or telogen phase.

Everything you put into your body eventually comes out in your hair, usually within three to six months. . Hair grows from living follicles in the skin of the scalp. At the shaft, or root of the hair, all of your major systems are at work, including your circulatory, endocrine and central nervous system.

Other factors for thin hair and ways to improve hair health:

Age – as women age our hormone levels decrease, and hormone levels affect almost every part of the body, including hair. My hair became thin during perimenopause and menopause when my hormonal levels hit the floor. I have been on prescribed bio-identical hormones (that don’t affect the liver) and this has helped hair, memory, alertness, sexual desire, and more.

Dry hair – Dry hair is simply dehydrated hair. Investing in more moisture in your hair and scalp is also a good way to stimulate growth and enhance the health of your existing strands. This is easy to correct both internally and externally. Check your water intake to make sure you are getting enough, a good guideline is 1 oz for half of your body weight. Example — a women weighing 150 lbs drinks 75 oz of water. That’s a lot more than the standard 8 glasses of day. Also water and condition your hair more frequently. If you shampoo every time you cleanse, try cleansing your hair with conditioner and shampoo less often. Get a good leave in conditioner and a natural butter or butter product. Both help lock in moisture. 

Illness – Illness unbalances the body. If you are recovering from even a cold or the flu, make sure your food intake is really nutritious, take a vitamin supplement and a probiotic.

Genetics – Sometimes we have to thank our ancestors for that thin hair. If you have siblings with thick hair and yours is thin, there may be other factors at work. I’ve observed that overweight can also result in thinning hair.  It’s as if the body is taking nourishment from areas it considers non-critical, like hair, to maintain the body..

Medications – Just like illness, the medications we take to bring us back to health and relieve symptoms can also unbalance our bodies. Not just hair but good bacterial in the digestive system gets kill by may antibiotics.  A daily probiotic goes is effective to help your digestive tract get back in balance.

Diet – Nutritional deficiencies affect hair, especially Iron, Vitamin A and vitamin D, water, fruits and veggies, protein. Eat well!

Exercise – Heat up your body daily to increase your metabolism. Increase blood flow to the scalp with exercise, scalp massage, inverted yoga poses.

Stress –  Sometimes this alone can help the hair’s condition.  Get enough sleep! Examine your emotional health and how you express and process emotions. Healthy expression of anger and other “uncomfortable” emotions goes a long way to restoring emotional balance and relieving stress.

Chemical sensitivities – In general, as Black women who have straightened their hair most of their life, we tend to have a lower awareness of the effect of the chemicals we use. How else could we have used sodium hydroxide and high heat for years and years and smothered our fragile locks with mineral oil laden products?  Get in the habit of examining ingredients.  Check out cosmetic databases for toxicity levels of products. Use natural carrier oils, and non-volatile, non-irritating essential oils.

Styling – No matter how well we treat ourselves, some hair can be thin all around, especially the fine soft stuff like yours.  My fine strands tends to thinness as well, and for that reason I do not twist my hair from wet because it does tend to emphasize my scalp rather than my hair. Instead, I wear a wash and go for a few days, then dry twist right over that. I will section my hair with my fingers and dry twist – about 11-14 twists.  I water spritz just a little to soften, not even dampen the hair, and use a little product.  In the morning I untwist and divide each twist.  Both the wash and go and large dry twist outs maximize my volume. I get comments in my Fotki about how much hair I have, and I just snicker ’cause I know the truth.

If your hair is thin in certain places and not others, brushing it back and pulling it into a ponytail may not be the best thing for it. That may be part of why it’s thinning.  The strain from this can thin it out in some places, and that is called traction alopecia.

Coloring with Henna – you’re using Body art quality Henna, right? If you are not please switch to it.  Many products marketed as “henna” contain harmful chemicals.  Body art quality henna is pure henna and is said to strengthen the hair as well as impart natural color.

– Many naturals swear by ayurvedic herbs. I don’t know much about them, but I’m a firm fan of neem, a plant that’s extremely high in anti-oxidants. Other herbs and substances said to decrease hair loss and/or enhance growth: algae extract, ginkgo biloba, green tea (camellia sinensis), nettle, garlic, hemp seed, wheat germ, burdock root, rosemary, horsetail, and aloe are some.

Oils and butters: Many women cannot say enough about natural oils such as castor, jojoba, coconut, extra virgin olive oil, baobab oil.  An oil rinse after cleansing and before conditioning gives you an instant hydration boost.  Just make sure to rinse it all out and thoroughly condition after, or you may be a greasy mess all day.  Shea, avocado and other butters are wonderful for helping hair retain moisture.

Congratulations on your bra length natural tresses and I hope the next 7 years enhance your crowning glory.

10 Most Important Steps for Growing Healthy, Hypercurly, Natural Hair

Acceptance and Clarity – Take off the “mental wig.” Once I accepted that I would never have Botticelli curls, I began to see that my hair could be even more beautiful. To actually see my hair, I need to look at photos. Mental distortion can occur when I look in the mirror, but the camera doesn’t lie.

Understanding – Observe your hair under different circumstances, different climates. Learn to understand what your hair does, not what you want it to do and build on that. Look inward at your own hair, not outward at someone else’s.

Look, listen and learn – It’s a given that other naturals know more than I do, especially if their hair is thick and long and beautiful, right? I’m so teachable!

Protection: At night, protect the hairline with a silk head wrap, guard against friction with a silk pillowcase. Anchor the hair in a loose puff or large twists so it doesn’t shift or rub against itself. During the day, I wear my hair out 95% of the time. Protection means the right products applied to each strand and a soft, aloe-vera based gel for hold. And no touching! (that one is hard.)

Know your hair’s width and porosity – More important than knowing if your curl type is 3c, 4a or 4b is knowing whether your strands are fine, medium or coarse and how porous they are. Fine and coarse refers to the diameter of your hair strand, not the feel of your hair. Porous refers to how open or smoothed (closed) the surface (cuticle) of your hair is. Fine, porous hair reacts differently to products and the environment than does coarse, non-porous hair. It also needs to be handled differently. Each hair type has its own issues. Fine, porous hair tends to need more moisturizing and strengthening products. Coarse, smooth hair can be subject to quicker product build up.

Layers of moisture – This means water. Moisturizing shampoos like shampoo bars or cleansing creams or a gentle castile soap (they aren’t all equal). And liberal doses of conditioners with great slip, moisture and a little of the right protein for my hair. A little butter or oil. More conditioner. And those aloe-vera based gels. Dirt-based deep treatments (Rhassoul clay, sisyphus spina christi) year round, moisturizing deep treatments in the winter.

Gentle detangling – if my cleanser is cleansing without stripping and my conditioner is loaded with slip and moisture, then I can finger detangle easily. A little KBB Hair Milk added to conditioner boosts its detangling ability. I do this at most twice a week.

Regular trims – I get ends trimmed and shape adjusted 3 times a year. My hair is easiest to style a month after a cut.

Low manipulation – After I style my hair wet, I leave it alone for up to 3 days, except to gather it into a pony puff at night, let it down in the morning and scrunch a little Set it Free and butter into it. No combing or brushing. When I dry twist at night, I use my fingers only to separate, and a little more product to smooth.

Forget about growth, learn how to retain length
If you’re healthy, growth is a given. Retaining length is the hard part. Transitioning to gray showed me just how fast my hair grows — and how fast the ends break. By babying my ends and boosting moisture to keep them hydrated, smooth and soft, I help my fragile ends stay put instead of snapping off like dry twigs. If I’m doing dry twists, a moisturizing custard or lotion gets smoothed on the ends of those twists. If I’m bunning, the ends get moisturized with a lotion and a little baobab oil. On the second and third day of my wash and go I scrunch a moisture lock lotion and a little butter onto my ends. When my ends stay soft, my hair retains length.

Celebrate each success, and learn from the challenges.

Coffee Talk

I gave up coffee and Splenda in April and surprisingly my skin has improved. I no longer have to use concealer to brighten the dark spaces on the inside of my eyes by my nose. They are gone!

Since quitting, I had one cup of full decaf, and it didn’t taste very good. So it was the caffeine that kept me drinking coffee — and gave me a 5-day headache after quitting, until I drank some yerba mate. This was as serious an addiction as cigarettes and as hard to quit. Now my new hot beverages are Guayaki Chocolatte Mate and Taylors of Harrogate Scottish Breakfast Tea with soy creamer. And I make smoothies. Instead of Splenda I use stevia from NuNaturals.

I still miss the coffee ritual: grinding the beans every other day (decaf and full caf mixed), brewing the coffee, frothing the milk, garnishing with nutmeg and cinnamon. That cup of coffee was better than anything you could get at Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or a gourmet coffee place. Even Quebrada Bakery in Wellesley where they make some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted and where I got a taste for Ethiopian. Their Dancing Goats was so good.

I used Ethiopian Sidamo beans for the caffeine mixed with Whole Foods Everyday Decaf beans.

Yes, I’m coffee reminiscing. Not as good as drinking it.

Coffee drinking face

Non-coffee drinker face
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