My Favorite New Hairstyle! Scarf Bun and Swoop

I don’t really like my hair straight but the process of straightening it takes so long, I figured I’d leave it for a while. I was in search for ways to funky up my lifeless straight locks and I found this. I think it’s so cute. I literally wrapped my hair before bed and started playing around with scarves. I can’t wait to try this look with my curls.

Setting Goals

I was writing down some goals the other night and decided to incorporate my hair into them, the same way I would my work, relationships and body. Why not? I really respond to ‘to do’ lists, deadlines and goals setting. So, having this hair goal will force me to really take care of my hair and pay attention to how I’m treating it and explore new ways of treating it. Maybe the Ayurvedic way…  Plus looking at my sister’s hair, I realize a lot of it has to do with taking care of my body from the inside out.

Anywhoo, I straightened my hair two nights ago to do a length check. As you can see, my hair doesn’t really straighten that well. I had it in a bun for literally 5 minutes and it took to the curl immediately but it was good enough to check my length. I was happy to see that it has grown but I’d like to get it all one length in the back with some layers that make a little sense. I know I’m going to have to cut my hair in order to do that but I refuse to until it gets a little longer. So, my goal is to get my shorter pieces in the back to catch up with that one long piece. That way I can get my curls more properly shaped to face without a drastic change in my length. Too ambitious? We’ll see.


Natural NBA Wife

Philly’s own Jameel Nelson is married to his high school sweetheart Imani Nelson. Imani is a beautiful woman with natural hair. With all this non-sensical Basketball Wives or whatever that show is called, it is nice to see an athlete with a life that reflects reality and real love. Jameel says of his wife of over a decade “I’m happy that Imani doesn’t fall into the category of what others would consider the typical NBA wife. I’m not knocking anyone for their decisions but, I’m happy with my wife the way that she is.” This really made me smile.
To Read More About Jameel Nelson and his Beautiful Family click here

Building Your Daughter’s Self Esteem

After watching the new movie “The Help”, I began reflecting on my role as a mother. For most mothers who have stable, healthy mind frames our only desire is to be the best and provide the best for our babies. It is a great responsibility that overwhelms and overjoys all at once.There is a scene in the movie where the nanny teaches a chunky, child (who is rejected by her mother due to her weight) daily affirmations. ” I is kind. I is intelligent. I is important”. I can only imagine how effective and needed that daily practice is for all young girls growing up in a society where they are constantly bombarded with images of what beauty and success is for a woman. Our daily interactions are always molding our daughters. I decided to make a list of common occurrences that we should pay close attention to when raising our daughters.
Never Compliment One Without Complimenting the Other
I don’t know how many times I have heard or seen this scenario play out. There are two sweet girls playing together. They are related or best friends. One is a deep chocolate brown while the other is a smooth honey toffee. One has long braids that with the weight of her barretts fall to her shoulders while the other girl has shorter hair reaching up to the sky in exploding pig tail puffs. Along comes a stranger, “Oh may goodness! Isn’t she just a doll baby? Her hair is just gorgeous and so long! She’s so pretty! What’s her name? How old is she? She your daughter?” The innocent girls are taken out of the protection of play and thrown into our sick world. One child is exalted while the other is completely ignored. They are both being taught who is more valuable and deserving of attention and admiration and and who isn’t. This goes for weight and race as well. Let’s stop this now. Never practice this and never allow a stranger or loved one to teach these lies to your baby girl. Kindly ask that he or she not compliment one without doing the same for the other or simply refrain from saying anything at all.
Never Ignore Your Daughter’s Admittance of Her Insecurities
When your daughter comes home from school one day and has tears in her eyes because she said some one called her “fat”, “nappy”, “ugly”, “stupid” etc never just wave it away with “Oh don’t pay them any mind. They are just jealous”. We can all remember the true pain and betrayal that occurred in us as children when someone made us aware of something negative about ourselves that we had never even fathomed. Take time out to really talk to your daughter about how that made her feel. Does she believe it’s true? From that day forth make a ritual of daily affirmations with her that counter the false belief that others have put in her mind. “My hair is beautiful and I love it”. “I am intelligent”. “My body is strong and healthy”. We should teach our daughters to know the truth about themselves and be able to return to it independently.
Remind Her Where True Self- Esteem Originates
With all the constant bombardment of the external, it is easy for an impressionable, young girl to believe that her appearance determines her self esteem level. Let’s teach our daughters that although taking good care of ourselves is important, true self-esteem comes from setting and achieving goals in life. Help her to set goals at a young age such as learning to tie her own shoes, making her own bed, learning another language, braiding her own hair, making all A’s in her studies etc and truly reward her for achieving those goals. She will soon understand the real fulfillment and confidence that  comes from such feats in comparison to the temporary rush of a new hairstyle and wardrobe.
What do you do to build your daughters self-esteem? Comment and share!

Leah Hawkins’s Big Chop

Written by Leah U. Hawkins
Rebelliously Beautiful
My whole life, I’ve always felt out of place with my age group. I’ve never enjoyed the club scene, I loveeeee Golden Girls, I don’t have a tattoo (yet!)  and I’ve never had any chemicals in my hair. No perm, no rinse not even a dye. I’ve been natural since birth but for the last 6 months or so I decided to stay away from my beloved flat iron and leave my hair alone. I even cut the heat damaged ends off and “started fresh”. Recently though, I started to get really bored with my hair. I was tired of the same look. The fro, the curly fro, the twist out fro..blah blah blah. So I started thinking about cutting my hair and doing something drastic. My hair has never been long but its never been short either. I didn’t think I’d really do it. I was scared I’d look really weird on top of me having my father’s head. But 2 weeks ago, 2 days before the start of my 4th year of college, I woke up called the hair salon and did it.
Leah Before Her Big Chop
Leah Before Her Big Chop
I went into the hair salon anxious and excited and of course had to wait. Fortunately, my best friend was in for her hair appointment so I didn’t have to go through it alone. The shampoo girl washed and blow-dryed my hair which was split but was touching below my collar bone! When I got in the chair I showed my hair dresser a few ideas of what I wanted and the cutting began. That first cut was liberating. It felt good that I was making the choice to cut my hair and not cutting it because it was damaged (as it was in the past) or because I was following someone’s fad or trend. She kept cutting, and I kept getting excited. When she was done it was shooooooort and straight but I liked it! She took me to the bowl, rinsed and conditioned it, put eco-styler gel in it and defused. When I looked in the mirror at my short curls, I was HORRIFIED! My heart started racing my hands went straight in. Five minutes after looking in the mirror, I started bawling like a three year old child, with my best friend laughing the whole time. I couldn’t stop crying. I even freaked my hair dresser out and made her tear up. My hair that I’ve had my whole life was gone and it was my fault! I pulled myself together (somewhat), paid and thanked my gracious hair dresser and left. When I got outside and on the subway, I teared up some more, got some stares-( I couldn’t tell if it was admiration or because I looked miserable)- and went home. That night I left for school and stayed in my room, too afraid to show my face. I was finally getting to a point where I was comfortable and happy with myself but this had set me back.
In the last 3 years I had stopped being nervous about the first day of class. As a music major and member of the university choir I was comfortable about my “position” on campus but such was not the case for this year. I was nervous about reactions and comments and opinions. To my surprise, between facebook and face to face comments, people gave me positive feedback on my hair! Some guys said they loved my hair and some said they prefer girls with more hair, but 95% of people who knew me with and without hair love the change. I can say peoples opinions don’t count, but in a case like this when you’re not sure of yourself, it helps to have approval.

This change as helped me to embrace ME 100%, to get to know my face like never before and to be confident, or be great at faking it. This is a lesson well learned. Hair is just an accessory. It doesn’t make or break you unless you let it! It’s still a growing process, one I’m going to embrace wholeheartedly. The best compliment I’ve gotten to date is from a random man when walking with another short-haired friend. He said “I love your hair, thank you for not weaving it up, tracking it up and for wearing it natural. Short hair exudes confidence. You’re rebelliously beautiful” I smiled and hugged that man. I will continue to try and be just that.
Leah Embracing Her New Look!
 Have You Ever Had These Feelings? How Did You Overcome Them? Are We Really Not Our Hair? 

Heidi Klum and Her Kid’s Kinks

Heidi Klum wrote a quaint little article in the Huffington Post about how she cares for her biracial children’s hair. Very cute. I love her little family. I think what is most important in this article is her emphasis and admittance of not knowing what to do and turning to those that have the expertise.
“Having four children, with one having straight hair and three curly, it’s a bit of a new world for me. Growing up with straight hair myself, that was all I really knew how to work with. It was pretty straightforward: wash, air dry, done.
Henry, Johan and Lou — my three youngest — have super beautiful locks. Their hair definitely requires a different kind of care than my daughter Leni’s hair. I’ve learned to never brush their curly hair when it’s dry because then it’ll frizz. I use lots of conditioner and detangler, and only go to hairdressers who really KNOW how to cut and style curly hair.
I’ve let my boys’ hair grow really really long, and just recently they asked me to cut off their beautiful hair! It was funny because it was definitely harder for ME in some ways, as I absolutely love their hair! I’m their Mom — I’ve been the one to carefully brush and help them care for it all these years, but I do want them to be who they want to be. I think that’s really important, to allow kids to express themselves — everything from the way they dress to how they want their hair. And now, that meant short.
And of course, it was not just simple short! They wanted mohawks with special designs to them, so I asked Lamar Odom who did his cool star-design buzz, and then contacted his stylist. He gave my kids these buzz cuts with amazing individual designs… great for the summer because they’re COOL, in both senses of the word!”

I’m Going to Start Experimenting with Ayurvedic Hair Care: Ayurvedic Introduction Part 1

What is Ayurveda? The University of Maryland Medical Center defines it as “the oldest healing science, Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years and has recently become popular in Western cultures. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies.” What is an Ayurvedic Hair Care Regimen?  A lot of naturalistas are reaping the benefits of Ayurvedic practices. It is a regimen that includes herbal mixtures, rinses, prepoos and natural oils.  This practice stems from Ayurveda, a traditional medicine native of India. Ayurveda is Sanskrit for “the complete knowledge for long life”. To find out what Ayurvedic regimen is right for you take this quiz.   I was first introduced to Ayurvedic hair care by the fabulous Moptop Maven. If you haven’t visited her site you should! Mop top says: “One of my favorite and most effective regimen’s thus far [and unfortunately most complex] has been my Ayurvedic Regimen. I can honestly say it greatly contributed to the growth, thickness, and overall health of my hair. Ayurvedic regimens are effective, and easily customizable to suit your hair needs.  other sites.” Some Ayurvedic Herbs and Products- Henna– for cuticle repair,  promotes growth &shine, thickens hair, temporarily loosens curl pattern Neem- is anti-fungal, soothes the scalp, treats head lice, promotes shine, combats dryness Amla- most potent anti-oxidant on earth, improves circulation within the scalp, conditions, prevents graying Brahmi-strengthens and nourishes hair at the root, promotes growth Hibiscus– detangles hair, thickens hair, discourages split ends Methi– promotes curls, promotes growth There are many more but these are enough to learn as an introduction. Here are some example Ayurvedic Hair Recipes from Mop Top Maven:
Neem Oil + Tea Tree Treatment: Perfect for those with psoriasis, and issues with dandruff. Neem Oil is packed full of antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties, therefore making it the perfect herbal solution for curing scalp ailments. I am warning you all now; this stuff has a stench that is out-of-this-world. However, it works 🙂
Try It:  
In a large bowl, mix 1/4 cup of Neem Oil with 6 drops of Tea Tree Oil. Pour oil mixture over head, massage into scalp, and cover for about an hour. – Use this treatment on dry, unwashed hair.  Coconut Milk Protein Treatment: This is an easy, inexpensive way to do an all natural protein treatment at home. The nutrients in Coconut Milk encourages healthy hair growth, and also helps strengthen hair. Try It: In a large bowl, mix one can of Coconut Milk, 4 tbsp of honey and 4 tbsp of Olive Oil. Carefully pour mixture over head, and cover for about 30 minutes. – Use this treatment on dry, unwashed hair.  Hibiscus Rinse: Doing a final rinse with Hibiscus Petal Powder leaves your hair feeling soft and conditioned [from the mucilage], it also makes detangling woes, and excess hair loss a thing of the past. 
Try It:
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add 4 tablespoons Hibiscus petals and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain liquid through sieve, or cheesecloth and discard petals. Pour mixture over your head after rinsing out conditioner. Massage thoroughly, then rinse with cool water after about 5 minutes. For more Ayurvedic recipes click here.  Places to Buy: This can be a bit difficult. I suggest you find a local India grocer. 
These websites are available:  organicindiausa banyanbotanicals Helpful Videos

What’s the Scoop on Moroccan Oil?

My girlfriend Vanessa, has been raving about Moroccan Oil for the past week. She swore to me that this stuff was going to change my life. I’m the type of person that doesn’t often believe in product hype. If everyone is using it I usually shy away from it, thinking it’s over-rated and over priced. I started reading up on it online and just about every review claimed that it was the best stuff since sliced bread. So, I gave in and decided to try it out.
What is Moroccan Oil? 
It is a unique Argan Oil  blend that contains Vitamin F (Omega 6), Vitamin A to improve elasticity, Vitamin E to protect against free-radicals (which makes hair weaker by oxidizing the proteins in our hair), Phenols to protect against environmental stressors.
Moroccan Oil’s Claim:
Revives Hair
Strengthens and Conditions
Reduces Drying Time
Controls Frizz
Detangles Hair
Increases Hair Elasticity
I used the Moroccan Oil Original Treatment for all hair types but keep in mind they have an entire line for curls which includes:
Intense Curl Creme– Leave-in conditioner, defines curls, eliminates frizz
Curl Control Creme– Activates curls and provides firm hold using curl shape memory technology
Curl Defining Mouse– For styling, shaping and taming hair, eliminates frizz with a soft natural hold
Moroccan Oil is not cheap. A small 0.85 oz bottle cost me $16.00 and a 3.4 oz bottle costs $41.00. (ugh) The good thing about it is that you only need a small amount of product to do the trick.
You are probably thinking,”If Moroccan Oil is mostly made of Argan Oil why don’t I just buy that?” You absolutely can buy pure Argan Oil (which makes a great prepoo) but it probably won’t have the same affect as Moroccan Oil’s blend. The reason being is that Moroccan Oil contains silicones. A common misconception is that the Argan Oil in Moroccan Oil is responsible for smoothing and adding shine to the hair when in fact, it is the silicones. The first three ingredients are Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone which are all silicones. After those come the Argan Oil which is why the hair is not left feeling greasy or weighed down.
*It’s important to understand that the softness you feel and see is not necessarily your actual hair shaft but instead, the silicones covering and protecting your hair. This product is great for immediate results but regular conditioning and protein treatments are still very vital for the overall health of your hair. It’s like finding a great coverup to reduce that appearance of acne but once the makeup is removed the problem is still very much there. So, make sure that you are not excessively using silicone based products and when using them at all be sure to cleanse your hair throughly to prevent build up. The key is using it in moderation.
My Results
I have to say my hair was shining! I was hype. It was extremely soft. There wasn’t any frizz and my ends were laying flat. But I’m not sure if it was all due to the Moroccan Oil. Hurricane Irene had me on house arrest so I had myself a little beauty night. I did the following:
  1. Washed my hair with Kinky Curly’s Come Clean Shampoo
  2. Did a quick protein treatment using Giovanni’s Extreme Protein Hair Infusion
  3. Deep Conditioned with Miss Jessie’s Super Sweetback Treatment
  4. Rinsed
  5. Applied Giovanni’s Direct Leave In Conditioner
  6. Straightened my hair (only to take length and goal pics)
  7. Applied Moroccan Oil
I wasn’t a believer… Moroccan Oil says it can be applied while wet but usually applying oil on damp hair is a recipe for disaster for me. When I re-wet my hair I will apply some Moroccan Oil and post the results. I will say, it makes for a great gloss. If it continues to work this well I’ll be splurging on it for months to come.
Have You Tried Moroccan Oil? What Were Your Results?

Ayurvedic Interview with Gina Montgomery

For those that don’t know what is an Ayurvedic Hair Regimen? How would you define it?
Having an Ayurvedic Hair Regimen means using Indian oils and herbs to contribute to the growth, health and strength of your hair. Some of the more popular herbs that many naturals use are henna, amla and shikakai.
Gina before going natural
What is your hair regimen and nightly routine?
My hair regime is pretty simple, well to me at least.  I do a henna gloss with Jamila Henna at once a month. A henna gloss is simply adding a conditioner or oils to the henna before application to make the mix smoother to apply. I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut oil. I follow this immediately by a deep conditioning treatment of olive and castor oil or Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream with a little extra oils . Every other month after the henna I’ll follow with an indigo treatment. I have grays and I like my hair jet black.  Once a week I’ll do a different powder mixture depending on my hair needs and the season. This could be  amla /cassisa, amla/hibiscus or  just amla. To cleanse, I pre-poo with Vatika and olive oil use a shampoo bar infused with Ayurvedic herbs every other week.
For styling, I usually wear my hair in mini twist or a wash and go.  I am a fan of Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus line for styling.
At night, put a little oil or Shea Moisture conditioning milk on my ends and sleep in a satin bonnet.
Gina after her 2nd big chop and weekly ayurvedic treatment
How has incorporating an Ayurvedic regimen helped or hindered your hair journey?
In the beginning, when I did my first big chop in 2009, there was a lot of experimenting and product trial and error. I have very thick hair and when I discovered Ayurvedic powders, I didn’t realize that it would make my hair fuller and more thicker than it already was. After a while I decided to try to straighten it for a length check and got severe heat damage. After trying all type of remedies to get my curl back, I decided to big chop a second time. This round I am more knowledgeable about my hair and how powders affect it. I had the most growth retention when using the powders so that is what I’m sticking with. 
When did you decide to go natural? What was transitioning like? Have you always followed an Ayurvedic hair regimen? What is your hair story?
I went natural the summer of 2009 shortly after having my son. I’d always worn a short tapered cut and after having my son, I didn’t have enough time to get to the beauty salon to get an edge up or a full relaxer. After a while, I just decided to let it grow out. My “big chop” was shortly there after and consisted of just getting the relaxed ends cut off and wearing comb twist.
I discovered Ayurvedic powders and oils that fall and began experimenting with them in 2010.
How do you think going natural has affected your life? For the better? For the worse?
Going natural taught me how to care for my own hair. Before going natural I always paid someone else to care for it because I didn’t want to find the time to care for it. Now, caring for my own hair saves me money and has also lead to me properly taking care of myself as a whole. I eat better, drink more water and exercise more as well. It was a total lifestyle change.
What is the worst mistake you have made with your hair?
The worse mistake I did to my hair was trying to straighten it without knowing really how straighten natural hair. I did not use a heat protectant and did not realize that it will never get as straight as it did when I relaxed. It lead to my second big chop and I lost 2 years worth of growth.
Who is your hair idol?
My hair idols are Jada Pinkett Smith and Tracee Ellis Ross. I love their free sprits and style.
Any words of wisdom that you would like to share with the masses?
What works for some may not work for all. Get to know your hair and what it likes and dislikes. 
I’m Currently Working on an Introductory Post About Ayurvedic Hair Care. Check Back Soon!

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