One Year. No Heat.

Blackness, Natural Hair

My Story

This all began mid-December of 2015 when I went to a local hair salon in my college town for a wash, blow dry, trim, and straighten. I was less than a week away from going home for Christmas, which meant I could go to my favorite hair stylist in Atlanta, but for some reason, I just couldn’t wait. My ends were dead and somehow I convinced myself that I couldn’t live another week with them.

One of my teammates often got her hair straightened by a woman in the salon I booked an appointment, so naturally, I requested her as my stylist. This is where the nightmare began. Prior to this, my hair was in great shape. It was growing longer than it ever had, was healthy, and was just overdue for a trim.

For this appointment, I booked the same things that I would if I was at home with my favorite stylist. I got a wash, deep conditioning treatment, blow dry, trim and straighten. Everything was great! My hair looked good for as long as I could keep it straight, but as soon as I washed it I realized my curls weren’t reverting. Yes, every natural girl’s biggest nightmare.

In denial, I thought I’d just wash it again in a few days and everything would go back to normal. Wrong! My curls were stringy and in some places, they were gone. Right then and there, and mainly out of spite, I made the decision to not straighten my hair for a year.

What I Learned

I know every natural hair guru will tell you that heat is not your friend, but what works for you doesn’t always work for everyone. After a year of no heat, I guarantee you that I will not commit to that again. My hair needs heat. Maybe not every day or month, but at least 2-3 times a year. Let me explain, the health of my hair was restored as soon as I cut the dead ends and heat damage off, but other than that, it was already in great shape. While on my heat hiatus, my hair grew, but no more than it would have if I was putting heat on it 2-3 times a year like I usually do.

On the other hand, one benefit of not using heat was that I learned what products my hair truly likes. In its most natural state, I realized that less is more and that my hair responds well to fewer products. The less I used the better my hair responded, and my wallet appreciated it. I also learned that the bun was the hair style for me. For those of you who know me well, the bun is my go to. As a college student-athlete who generally has practice or a game every day, I don’t really care to wear my hair down, so finding different ways to style my hair into up-dos was fun.

Biggest Take Away

Do everything in moderation. Too much heat isn’t great for your hair, but I don’t think no heat is all that wonderful either. While this is true for me, it is on you to find out what works for you. Ultimately, I encourage you to try a year of no heat for yourself. It’s definitely a learning experience, but I think it’s worth trying. From learning what products and hairstyles you like, to figuring out if heat is really your hair’s biggest enemy, one year of no heat will keep you on your toes and in tuned to what works best for you. Try it and feel free to comment about your natural hair journey below.

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A Letter of Hope

Black Lives Matter, Blackness

To those who tirelessly pour their efforts into promoting Black Lives Matter, I hope you continue.

I hope you hashtag, make videos, and speak of your experiences.

I hope that you don’t get discouraged as setbacks come our way, and that you keep the end goal in mind. Stay strong in your pursuits. No change ever came easy. Even Martin Luther King Jr. was told he was crazy for having a dream a time or two.

But with that, I hope you have the courage to develop your own dream. Fight to be different than the generations before you, and for a better future ahead of you. Think up your own destiny and work tirelessly towards making that your reality. And then share it…

I hope you include other races in your dialogues on change. Inspire them to fight for justice with you. In return fight for justice regarding their inequalities as well.

I hope that others join the movement to change a country whose history is less than perfect.

Take lessons from the history books and apply them, staying peaceful and patient as God works on the heart of our nation and the hands of our policy makers. Continue to see the worth that lies in all of God’s children.

Burn the candle of change with the spark of revolution inside you so that the aroma of equality and understanding can fill the air.

Continue because each day you chip away at our dream is one day we are closer to living it.

The Inquisitive Black Girl

Blackness

Scrolling through the pages of a beauty magazine, I look for a couple hair styles to switch up my image, but I can’t find anyone who looks like me, has hair like me, because it really seems that these days, being me isn’t what people really want to see.

Maybe a lighter version of me would look better. Maybe if I had different hair, I would fit your mold and societies mold, because that’s really what I’m being told even if I’m not directly being told these things.

Why is my big hair, my wild, frizzy, mind of their own curls so unpresentable?

Why is the very hair that many black women have seen as their biggest embarrassment. Yes weaves, wigs, extensions are used for different reasons, but for many it’s a way to hide from who they really are. Why is bone straight and wet and wavy the only styles considered beautiful? Why is 4b and 4c hair considered to be untamed and “not good hair”?

Why is my skin not fit for the magazines? When they do finally chose to show someone of color it’s not actually representative of all blacks. Maybe throwing a dark girl in the magazine would ruin the aestetic, and if that is the case, why?

Why is it that butterscotch and caramel skin completions are considered to be so much prettier than chocolate and mocha? Why is black not beautiful unless it’s mixed?

And don’t be so confused as to think this is simply a white on black issue. It’s a black on black issue too. It’s colorism.

Why has it become a trend that when asked what race, many blacks will go above and beyond to link themselves to some other race outside of black just to fit in? Or maybe its to feel superior to someone who is fully black, knowing good and well that they are fully black too.

As if to say that being black isn’t one of the most beautiful things on earth. As if being black is something to be ashamed of. That our history wasn’t a key factor in make us who we are today. That being black makes us less than perfect, less than desirable.

Why is black skin associated with something bad? Why is it that you look at us, only see our skin color and from there can decide whether we’re pretty or not? Whether we match up to your expectations?

And why is it when we find the courage to stand up for us and believe that we are beautiful we’re deemed too proud, too bold, too ignorant, etc?

Well, I’ll always be too much of something to some people, everyone will, and I can live with that. But fortunately we were just enough for God. He didn’t make any mistakes when he created me, or when he created you. He didn’t accidentally paint us black. Black isn’t a punishment. Being dark isn’t a problem. Having course hair isn’t a curse.

It really is the blessing to be black and living in America today. It’s to be the solution they thought was the problem. It’s to be made in the image of God like every other race in this world. It truly is beautiful.

I say this as the half Nigerian and half Kenyan American I am today. I wouldn’t trade my features for the world, no matter how unruly the world might think they are, because to tell God that He made a mistake on me would be blasphemy.