We have added coconut oil to our daily hair routine. It is a light oil, gives a lot of shine, and tames the frizzies. It is also less expensive than Hair Milk and can be used by the girls and me. Nadia (pictured above) has very fine hair, and this oil is light enough to use every few days or so. I apply it to Simone's hair daily, and it helps keep her hair smooth and tangle free. As for me, I use it to seal my hair after I moisturize it with a conditioner. Coconut oil may be purchased at many natural food stores. Our coconut oil is infused with Ayurvedic herbs, and I buy it at a local Indian store for about $6. If you go to your local Indian store, be sure to read the label and buy the pure coconut oil, not mineral oil. The latter just sits on the hair, while coconut oil is easily absorbed into the hair. Check it out and tell me what you think.
After all the hype, I was disappointed in Chris Rock's Good Hair. I expected to be entertained and was instead assaulted by a whole bunch of nonsense. I think if the movie had been a solid documentary or a nonstop stand up routine, it would have been fine. But the movie just couldn't be both. Forget what I said earlier. I am not offended Rock sidestepped the natural hair issue. The natural hair story has no place in Rock's movie. I am glad I went to see it. I mean, you can't fuss about the movie if you didn't actually see it. I just didn't like it and look forward to seeing what others have to say about it.
I am mad at somebody because Good Hair, Chris Rock's documentary about black women and the love affair we have with our hair, is opening today in select cities, and the rest of us have to wait a full two weeks to see it.I usually do not get worked up about movies, but this one has been getting press for months. I am hoping the early buzz on the film is not true. No, he didn't make a documentary about black hair and leave out those of us who rock our natural texture. He didn't do that, did he? Because if he did, there had better be a Good Hair 2 in the works. All I am asking for is a little balance. Not all black women are addicted to the "creamy crack." Not all black women spend more money on weave than they spend on food, clothing, and a place to live. And finally, not all black women are trying to assimilate to the white beauty ideal. I am not going to argue about who wears what, why, and how. I have got two girls to raise and they take up plenty of my time, thank you very much. But for the sake of black women everywhere, especially the natural set, I hope Chris Rock took time to laugh in the face of the stereotype and not simply perpetuate it.
On Sundays I wash and detangle Simone and Nadia’s hair. The routine often takes me back to the days when my mother washed and combed my hair. I would stand on my tiptoes every two weeks as Mom washed my hair in the kitchen sink with Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo. After two washes, I would sit on the floor, while Mom sat on the couch. She would scoop Vaseline out of a plastic jar and grease my scalp. Then she would comb, brush, and braid my hair into silky ponytails. “More Hair,” she said, when she was finished. “Grow longer,” I replied. I had no trouble growing hair. Taking care of it was the hard part. I had long hair and all the rules that came with it. Rule No. 1: No one can comb your hair. Only Mom knew how to take care of it. One day one of my cousins cut a chunk of my hair. We both got a whipping. Rule No. 2: Don’t invite bad luck by saying thank-you when someone does your hair. Instead, I had to say, “More hair, grows longer.” Mom had all kinds of sayings. ‘Til this day, I’ve never heard another person talk about this one. Rule No. 3: No pressing combs. First, I had soft hair. Second, Mom was overly concerned I’d grow up too fast. Third, see reason No. 1. Rule No. 4: Don’t tempt fate by letting two people comb your hair at the same time. For some reason, Mom thought it was bad luck. I’ve never broken this rule. Rule No. 5: Don’t get sand in your hair. I broke this rule many, many times. The violation triggered an automatic trip to the kitchen sink. The cycle has been broken. Simone and Nadia have never heard these rules.
I was in the mall the other day in search of a charm for a bracelet. I found it and was making a getaway when a woman at one of those mall kiosks distracted me. She wanted to know something about my curls. I saw the flat irons displayed on the kiosk and tried to wave her off. "How do you get it so curly?" "It's natural." She seemed surprised, but that didn't stop her from showing me how a curling iron uses steam to make beautiful curls. "I don't use heat," I said. "So, what do you put on your hair?" "Conditioner, and I seal with oil." "What kind?" "Coconut." The nice lady was hawking "European oil." She squirted some in my hand, instructed me to rub my hands together, and scrunch it in my hair. I took a look in the mirror and was met with shiny hair. "Nice, huh?" I nodded. "What's in it?" She handed the bottle to me. The first ingredient was olive oil. The second and third were not-so-water-soluble silicones. She thought she had me. The little bottle of oil could last me for three years and was great for my "ethnic hair." It only costs ... $39. What? For $39, an oil had better do more than quench the thirst of my dry hair. "No, thank you," I said. She asked a few more questions and then offered the bottle to me for $29. "No, thank you." "What would it take for you to buy it?" she wanted to know. "Nothing," I told her. "I use ayurvedic powders and just bought some." She looked at me like I was speaking another language - I guess I was -- and thanked me for my time. Five years ago, before I had kids, I may have been tempted to buy the overpriced oil. I didn't know sulfates dry out hair or that silicones coat the hair. I certainly didn't know I could find excellent hair products on grocery store shelves. I was, well, let's not say it. What I know about hair I learned from these sites. Have a look for yourself. Naturally Curly: The site is celebrating its 10th anniversary. A wealth of products, salon recommendations, and advice keep me coming back for more. Curly Nikki: I get a serious case of hair envy when I visit the site. Curly Nikki is known for her beautiful tresses, the twist-n-curl, and henna. Those who are transitioning will feel at home here. Mane and Chic: A mix of hair and fashion makes this a go-to blog. I always feel a little more hip after a visit. From Nature With Love: This is a playground for mixtresses and wannabes like me. There are several sites online that cater to kitchen chemists. This one, though, has a page featuring ayurvedic herbs.
[caption id="attachment_516" align="alignleft" width="300"] http://www.flickr.com/photos/melvinlewis[/caption] There are plenty of hair products for children, but I don't see the need to have a shampoo and conditioner for me and another set for the girls. It's just another way companies separate you from your cash. When we're out and about, parents of curlies often ask how I maintain Simone and Nadia's hair. Here's the answer: We're a sulfate, silicone, and paraben free family. Sulfates are drying. They are harsh detergents and strip oil from the hair. Silicone is like a plastic and gives the appearance of shiny, healthy hair. Some silicones also are difficult to wash out of your hair, unless you use shampoos with sulfates. If you don't apply silicones to your hair, there's no need for sulfates. As for parabens, they're just controversial. If it's not needed, why bother. The bottom line: None of those chemicals are needed to achieve beautiful hair. Sunday is hair day at our house. I wash Simone and Nadia's hair with castille soap, put a dollop of conditioner on their hair, and then detangle with a wide-tooth comb. I start detangling at the ends and work my way up to the roots. When I am finished, I leave in the conditioner and allow their hair to air dry. In the mornings, I use hair milk to help tame the frizzies. The castille soap costs about $6 for an 8-ounce bottle. Conditioner runs about $14, and the hair milk goes for about $12. All three will last a long time, as long as they are kept out of reach of little hands.