5 Natural Hair Rules I Live By and 5 Rules I Break Constantly

ANTOINETTE HENRY, SHANTI MAYERS, natural hair, curly hair

 Stick To The Rules

-  Most Like It Moist. I moisturize daily. It is in my opinion, the single most important thing while taking care of your hair. If your hair is not moistuirzed it ain’t shyt. Sike. But seriously, keeping your hair conditioned and moisturized is what is going to keep your hair from breaking and becoming damaged. If you have questions about that or don’t understand why moisturizing is so important do yourself a favor and click this link.

- Go Deep. I deep condition at least once every two weeks. I just do. It goes in tandem with moisturizing daily. Sometimes your hair just needs extra nourishment. Deep conditioning is necessary and high advised after swimming, straightening, dying or any activity that could potentially damage your hair. I hear a lot of women say that they don’t have time for it but it can take as little at 10 minutes. Try making breakfast with your hair deep conditioning in a shower cap. Two birds one stone. Easy peezy.

- Knot Tonight. I detangle my hair only when wet and smothered in conditioner. I have thin hair. My hair just can’t take being detangled dry. It falls out, knots up and never cooperates. I find, when I wet my hair, my hair is more flexible and it expands more. This, combined with the added ‘slip’ my conditioner provides, makes it much easier to detangle. There are many different theories and regimens surrounding detangling but I find that this regimen works best for me.

- Keep It Dirty. Some people are obsessed with having clean hair. I am not one of them. Therefore, I don’t use products containing sulfate. Sulfate, in my opinion is too harsh especially for my thin hair and while it may get my hair squeaky clean it also strips away all my moisture. I find that after I use shampoos containing sulfate, I was meant with limp, lifeless hair. I don’t even use sulfate free shampoo. I tend to use co-washes. Ouidad has an incredible one that I love, but is a bit pricey so I used the one Carol’s Daughter gifted me that I like as well. I highly recommend tying a co-wash if you haven’t already.

- Put It In Rotation. I find products I like and rotate them. After about  2-3 months my hair seems to get used to a product and as a result, stops responding to them as well as I would like them to. So, I like to keep 2-3 products in rotation.

Leave-in conditioners being: Kinky Curly Knot Today (summer), Giovanni’s Direct Leave In Conditioner (winter), Whipped Curls by Ouidad (whenever my pockets allow). Styling and Sealing Products being; Goddess Curls by Curls (winter), Curly Mousse by Curls Unleashed (summer), Climate Control by Quidad (whenever my pockets allow). Cleanse and Cowashes being: Curl Co-wash by Quidad, Hair Milk Conditioning Co-wash by Carol’s Daughter. Anything requiring slicked back styling I use Curl Control Paste by Curls. Deep conditioners are less necessary to rotate because I don’t use them as often.

antoinette henry, around the way curls, natural hair, shanti mayors

Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

1. Use Protection? I NEVER wrap my hair at night. Ever. I do however, begin my sleep on a satin pillowcase that always somehow ends up on the floor. It’s really a joke to me. I make sleep wildly but there is no way I can get this protection thing down. I just can’t do it. So.. I don’t. Satin bonnets just never stay on my head and more than that they never preserve any kind of curl for me. My hair is just way too thin for that ‘second and third day’ ish. So, I have surrendered to the notion that I will have to wet my hair daily in order to achieve my best curls. It is what it is.

2. Love Never Dyes. I use box dye to dye my hair ALL THE TIME and as a result, my hair is 20 different shades of orange, red, brown and black. But I never learn my lesson and I keep doing it. I have nothing more to say about this. I have a problem and I can’t stop, won’t stop rocafella records.

3. Packin That Heat. I put heat on my hair almost everyday especially in the winter. Now, I know this sounds bad but it’s not. Because I wet my hair daily, I diffuse with a hair dryer daily. It really doesn’t seem to damage my hair and here’s why. It’s saturated in leave-in conditioner. So, the heat opens my hair shafts, allowing the conditioner to penetrate deep into my hair follicles. It’s pretty much a daily deep conditioner. Now, don’t get it twisted, this is very different from using a flat iron or curling wand on your hair daily. Those items HAVE given me heat damage. I’m actually going to talk about that in a further post.

4. I’ll Admit It, I’m A Cutter. I keep cutting my own hair. I shape my hair to my face pretty well in the front and then the back looks like a rats nest. And I alway say that I’m going to get it professionally shaped but I never do. My fear of the stylist getting scissor happy and chopping off all my hair takes over and I end up thinking, “It isn’t THAT bad” but it is. It really is. Shanti will tell you. No pictures form the back please.

5. Grease Is For Chicken. I NEVER use oil or creme based products on my hair. I’m done with it. YOU HEAR THAT CIPRIANA?! I don’t use oil! Sue me.

 I used to use mono oil on my hair and while it didn’t weigh my hair down, I found that I didn’t really need it. Instead, I use light gels like CURLS Goddess Curls Gel to seal in my moisture and maintain my curls.

So, in summary, there is no right or wrong when it come to your regimen. You have to find out what works for you. It’s a process trust it.

Where is Antoinette?

antoinette henry, singing, jazz, around the way curls

photo Frank Stewart

 

Where in the world was Waldo?! I know… I have been missing in action for about 2.5-3 months. SMH. Thank God that Shanti has been holding me down. I have to admit missed blogging. I missed ‘talking’ to y’all. Our instagram banter wasn’t enough of a fix. Anyway, I’ve been away all for good reasons.

grand night for singing antoinette henry

Notice we are all the same complexion. Ha!

First and foremost, I am currently on a hiatus from the hustle and bustle of NYC. I am living in sunny Fort Myers Florida and performing at Florida Repertory Theater, in Rodgers and Htammertsien’s, A Grand Night For Singing. It’s beautiful here. The air is fresh, the sun is shining, the sky is clear and temperature averages 75 degrees. I’m LOVING it. I picked the best time to get away from that cold and depressing NYC weather.

The show is sweet and filled with classic music theater tunes that can warm any heart. There is a lot of dancing, scene changes, lucsious fives part harmonies and timeless music. It feels really great to be back on stage and telling the story.

Secondly, in November, I was added to the cast of Sistas Off-Broadway (of which I am on leave from while in Florida) and therefore joined Actors Equity/’The Union”. Praise God! Heath insurance! 401k! Grown up ish! AMEN!

christian mcbride, antoinette henry, lewis nash, renne rosness

And lastly, I took a leave of absence from my job and recorded my own record at the very place I was once a server, alongside A Musical Dream Team… with Christian McBride (James Brown, Diane Reeves, Sting, McCoy Tyner, Celine Dion) doubling as both producer and bassist, Lewis Nash all over the drums, Renee Rosnes on all kinds of keys, Adam Rogers killing us softly on guitar and guest vocalist Michael Mwenso swinging low like the sweetest of chariots. (Who do I think I am? ha!)

This is something I never in a million years thought I would ever do and I was scared to death. I used to go to the studio with our friend Jazmine Sullivan all the time. I watched the process and was glad I did music theater. I watched her spend 10-15 hours finding the right track, writing the lyrics, laying down the hook, laying down the back ground vocal…etc. It was grueling. But this process was very different.

  Jazz musicians work differently then any other musician. I have studied music theater and choral music mostly so I am used to a lot of rehearsal in which we set dynamics, phrasing, breaths, musical lines, etc. They are then to be repeated every night while still somehow keeping them fresh, alive and entertaining. But jazz folks do not rehearse nearly as much as theater people, they practice. These are two very different things. They spend hours practicing, perfecting their sound and their technique and then come together and create something on the spot and organic. Jazz is improvisation. It’s a conversation to be had in the moment. To quote Michael Mwenso, “It’s a spiritual thing” but terrifying at the same time.

So, with Shanti by my side, with my nerves almost getting the best of me, I let it all hang out. I made mistakes. I forgot lyrics. I even counted wrong a couple of times but I did it. I was completely out of my comfort zone and completely awestruck and intimidated by the band filled with grammy winners and nominees but eventually I settled and just sang with my whole heart.

Now, I’m listening back, taking notes, feeling vindicated and content, while soaking in a bath tub that covers BOTH my knees and breasts in sunny Florida. It’s interesting what happens to you when you step out on faith. God is good and all the time….

I look forward to sharing the record with you soon!

“The State Of Black TV” Via Andrea Lewis

Awesome video from Andrea Lewis. Andrea is a force to be reckoned with and watched because she is constantly utilizing and strengthening relationships. I think this is important for all of us to pay close attention to because it is through relationships that we grow, learn and ultimately progress personally and professionally.

In this video Andrea brings together a group of influential, writers, actors, and directors in the often marginalized word of black TV. Black imagery, marketability, support and direction is discussed. I love that is all coming from the mouths of women.

This video has touched on something I have been thinking about personally.

Question: Do you think the time will ever come that the imagery of black people on TV and in film will be able to portray universal themes that ALL people can relate to or will the white face be the only portal from which the trials and tribulations of “humanity” can be portrayed? Why or why not?

My personal opinion: I think it is going to never happen. HA! Unfortunately, being black and in the forefront the audience will always be critiquing and associating the images with blackness which is limiting and frustrating. I suppose that is goes for any face that is not white on TV or film. Maybe I am being cynical….

Cherish The Day

 It’s been a long time. So much has happened and been happening in my life. I was all geared up to come back to blogging with a vengeance last week and update you all with all my exciting news, career moves and so on and so forth when I got word that my beloved Grandmom had passed away. Obviously, my completing any sort of blog post became the furthest thing from my mind. The world is such a strange place. Just yesterday, I placed a rose on my Grandmother’s casket and held my mother up as we watched her be lowered into the ground, and today I’m thousands of miles away, on stage singing and dancing in front of an audience who are all expecting me to deliver their moneys worth.

I’m holding it together but I want to scream, kick and cry. My costume feels like it’s suffocating me, the lights are hot and blinding, and the music is so labored and lifeless. I just want to go home and be with my mother.I just want to take care of her and ease any pain I can. I had to leave her the very day her mother was buried. I regret that already. But career, contracts and responsibilities all have a way of forcing life to go on. I guess I should just be glad they released me long enough to get to the funeral. 

But more importantly, I want to share with you all some things about my Grandmother and her life, some of which I knew and some of which I recently learned. My Grandmother, Janet Lee Raitano was not a fancy woman. She didn’t travel the world, she didn’t like fine jewelry, and she didn’t have a lot of money. She was 16 years old when she got married and completed her schooling up to the 7th grade. She lived in a small home with her two cats, Pumpkin and Midnight. She loved any kind of trivia or card game especially poker and would take even the kids’ money. She loved old movies and anything and everything that had to do with Elizabeth Taylor.  And she welcomed everyone into her angel figurine filled home, with a smile, hug and kiss, warm meal and a delicious dessert.  She never seemed to worry or stress or at least she didn’t let her grand children know about it. She had a very easy way of being about her. In fact, it was summed up in the opening sentence of her instructions in the case of her death, “Once I die, wait two days before doing anything so you kids can get your shit together”.

She gave birth to, nurtured and raised 9 children… 6 girls and 3 boys… who then gave her 17 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren with one on the way. Her husband, my Grandfather died when she was only 46 years old. At that time she still had 2 children in middle school, 1 child in high school and 2 children in college. She was a strong yet warm women.  A woman who would stop at nothing to keep her family tight knit and together. Till the day she died she was center of every family function for all 31 of us- every birthday, christening, communion, wedding, holiday (even valentine’s day) and baby shower, graduation, dance recital, play and summer picnic. Her entire life was dedicated to her family.

It would be impossible to count the number of tears she wiped, scrapes she cleaned, bruises she kissed, hearts she healed, babies she rocked, teeth she pulled, minds she comforted and memories she gave.

She would always ask me to sing and for whatever reason I never would. I regret that now. I should have sung for her every day. I should have called her more. I should have realized earlier how short life is, so that we could have had more moments. Lesson learned. But at the very least, I recorded some music earlier this month and I sent her some of the songs. From what my family tells me listened to them quite often. Her last words to me were in a Facebook message where she wrote:

She passed 12 days later.

Cherish the day y’all. With the heaviest of hearts-

Once Upon A Time

It’s hard to come to that halting screech of realizing you are indeed an adult. In a world where decisions have to be made, relationships have to be tediously and carefully nurtured, bills must be paid, dreams must be selfishly pursued or hopelessly left to die, babies must be held high like Simba to be put first and always first, bills must be paid, bodies must be maintained or else succumb to flabby, fluffy shadows of their youth and partners must be chosen with intentions of remaining together forever (forever? Fo’ eva? Eva? Fo’eva? Eva?) Did I mention bills must be paid?

We are all being pushed into the future. Ready or not. Pushed while we stand with toes raised to the sky and heels digging into the earth while we turn our heads backwards, sideways, up and down while searching for the guide of happiness which will make our  forward, our pending future seem a little less frightening.  Most of us aren’t ready. “Wait! Wait! This is happening too quickly. Did you read my script? Excuse me? Excuse me? What’s my motivation?

The scripts of our internal fairy tales of “Once upon a time” make living, loving and maturing a bit more confusing and hard.

We tell ourselves “Once I graduate college, I’ll be happy. Once I lose this weight I’ll be happy. Once I find my perfect man, I’ll be happy. Once I get rid of this man, I’ll be happy. Once I quit smoking cigarettes, I’ll be happy. Once I make amends with my father, Ill be happy. Once I buy this house, I’ll be happy.  Once I get this job, I’ll be happy. Once I go on vacation, I’ll be happy. Once, he says he’ll marry me, I’ll be happy. Once I get this divorce, I’ll be happy.  Once everyone sees my talent, my film, my show, my art, my writing, my voice, my face, my body, I’ll be happy.”

I see the rehearsals of the fairy tale “Once I…” in people twice my age and even still in those half my age. I see it everyday in myself. God damn, does anyone attain their happiness? Does the journey of life ever get easier, less scary and desperate?

I suppose those wishes are legitimate.

I suppose those higher desires are indeed ideals that act as our guides to our better selves, right?

Or are we forever living with a carrot before our eyes? Are we missing the point and poignance of our here and now?

Share your thoughts below…

Hair Story – Stacey’s “Hopelessly Dope Hair”

1.Have you always been so confident and in love with your curls? What’s your hair story?
I have always loved my natural hair, I feel like it truly embodies who I am and I love being able to use it as a means of expression. I love how it’s a combination of all these different curls and textures because at the end of the day one person is a mixture of so many different characteristics and experiences. I always think of the India.Arie song “I am not my hair” and honestly it’s true. But I would say that my hair is me because how I wear it on any given day will tell you how I’m feeling at that moment.
My hair story isn’t super complicated, my hair was natural for most of my childhood, except for a few years from late elementary school into middle school when my mom relaxed my hair because it made it easier to manage because doing hair was never one of her strong suits, but dear lord she did try, lol! So around the 8th grade I realized I could cornrow my hair pretty well and could even do cool patterns and stuff and was pretty could at doing my own hair in general. At the same time I was really over having to get super strength relaxers to tame my super coarse hair because it meant that without fail I would get a bunch of crazy scabs on my scalp from relaxer burns. So one day while I had braid extensions I told my mom that after I took my braids out I wasn’t going to get another relaxer again. That was in 1999 and I haven’t had one since. I’ve never regretted it and although I regularly have moments where I want to cut all my hair off out of annoyance or frustration(Mahogonyknots style, lol), I don’t for one second miss having a relaxer.
Since then I’ve put my hair thru the ringer: I’ve cut it multiple times, into short bobs, or with bangs, or slightly shaved in the back; I’ve dyed it, once bleached in the Dominican Republic while on vaca, burgundy highlights, bright red (almost kinda hot pink) right in the front, and the last time a golden brown; I’ve gotten Dominican blowouts, press and curls (the last time I had my hair done professionally the stylist burned my face with the Marcel Iron, hence why it was my last time, sigh. I feel like I’ve done it all. So after coloring it 3 years ago I decided actually learn to take of it to see just how long I can grow it out.

2.How long has it taken for you to “master” the care of your your hair? Who/what helped you gain mastery?
I think I’ve truly mastered my hair in the last 3 years or so with the increase of YouTube videos and hair blogs that provide so much information and a platform for naturals to help each other out. I love it! My faves WhoisSugar, Naptural85, Mahogony Knots, DenimPixie/Elle of Quest for the Perfect Curl and KimmayTube. WhoisSugar and Naptural85 have an amazing resource for styling, Sugar for the Curly Girl Method and helping me perfect my wash and go and Naptural85 & Mahogonyknots for my twistouts and style inspiration. Elle and Kimmaytube are sooooo well informed and do so much research that they’ve helped me understand hair better overall and that knowing your hair is about knowing more than just your curl pattern and that know your density, porosity, etc is just as important if not more so.

3. What is your cleansing hair regime (how often do you shampoo, condition, deep condition and with what products)?
Typically I wash my hair every 2-3 weeks (but I usual mist with water and seal with an oil ever 2-3 days). After detangling, sectioning my hair and putting it in chunky twists, I wash with As I Am’s Coconut Cowash and I deep condition every time I wash and I alternate between Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner or Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner to maintain a protein/ moisture balance.
If I’m planning on straightening my hair I’ll shampoo and condition with Tresemme Keratin Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner, then I’ll apply TGIN Honey Miracle Mask as my deep conditioner.

4. What is your de-tangling process?
I always dry detangle to avoid getting shed hairs tangled in with my hair. So I first apply either coconut oil or olive oil then go through my hair slowly, section by section, pulling apart tangles and removing shed hairs. Then I apply Tresseme Naturals Conditioners to detangle once more, running my fingers through each section to make sure I didn’t miss any knots or anything. After detangling each section I twist it to avoid it getting tangled again.

5. How do you achieve your daily hair style (try to be detailed being as though others are gaining inspiration and DIRECTION from your process)
For my twist outs I apply Curls Crème Brulee first then Shea Moisture’s Deep Treatment Masque and then a bit of olive oil or coconut oil and I twist the way Naptural85 does in her “best twist out ever” video. Then I usually leave the twists in for about 2-3 days so that my hair has time to fully dry (low porosity hair like mine takes forever to dry) then I coat my hair with a little more oil, untwist, separate and fluff.  At night I retwist into bigger chunkier twists then pull into a ponytail/bun to keep my hair stretched.
For wash and go’s I divide my hair in 5 sections, 2 in the back 3 in the front, then apply the Curls Crème Brule to each section. After that I smooth Olive Oil Eco Style Gel through each section bit by bit with my hands. (For a visual reference check out WhoisSugar’s youtube channel) Then I apply Curl Passion Fruit Control Paste as my finisher to each section so my hair dries hard without feeling crunchy. At night I don’t pineapple since that leads to matting in the back of my hair. Instead I divide it into about 8 ponytails and band them, Jean Michel Basquiat style, lol. Then I wear satin bonnet to sleep.
If I want something a little fancier but don’t have much time, I will section off a piece in the front, braid the back up into a French braid & bun and then do a big pompadour in the front.

6.Now that you are relaxer free, how do you perceive others that still have relaxed hair?
Honestly, I have no issue with anyone who chooses to relax their hair. I know how much time, patience and work it takes me to keep my hair looking decent on a daily basis. I also know that some people just aren’t good at doing hair and it’s more practical for their lifestyle to have relaxed hair. I don’t accept that everyone who relaxes their hair hates themselves or anyone who isn’t relaxed, the same way I don’t believe everyone with natural hair loves themselves and anyone else. The way one wears the hair on their head isn’t always a direct reflection of what’s in their head.
The one thing I can say is that as much as naturals want people to accept and respect their choice to wear their hair in its natural state, the same has to be done for those who choose to wear their hair relaxed, texturized, in locs or any form whatsoever. What someone chooses to do with their hair on their head is THEIR business, the same way what I choose to do is MINE.
Basically live and let live. (Sorry for the mini rant, but I swear some people say and do the most in this “movement”, smh.)

7.How did/do battle the internal voice that may speak words of doubt about the beauty and worthiness of your natural beauty?
I don’t think I ever doubted the awesomeness of my natural hair, lol,  but I did struggle at times with certain people’s negative attitude toward my natural hair. I felt exhausted thinking that I had to convince them to like my natural hair as much I do. But with time I realized that when people are so vocal about their dislike for something in me that doesn’t actually affect them in any way shape or form, the problem isn’t actually what me or what I’m doing but it’s their own insecurities that they’re dealing with. I’m a glass half full kind of girl, so I just had to avoid contact with people who feel so entitled to offer unsolicited opinions or just plain old negativity. I surround myself with people who are loving,  accepting, and open minded, not necessarily people who see everything the same way as I do in life.

8. What hair product can’t you live without?
Coconut oil, olive oil, Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, As I Am Coconut Cowash, Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose and GPB Conditioners, Curls Crème Brulee and Passion Fruit Control Paste, Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque and Olive Oil Eco Styler Gel, Carol’s Daughter Chocolat Blow Dry Cream, TGIN Honey Miracle Mask.

9. Any words of wisdom that you would like to share with the masses about natural hair?
Be happy with what you have on your head, no matter what it is. I’m all about having hair crushes, lord knows I have PLENTY (Shanti & Antoinette, that def includes you guys, I drool). But you have to love your hair more than you love your hair crushes’ because yours is what you wake up to every morning. It’s like loving your friend’s significant other more than you love your own, that will always lead to dissatisfaction and eventually disaster.
Also, let’s play nice. People put themselves out there via social media for the most part to help others so I don’t get why people feel the need to bring negativity to the party. Like every mama ever has always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” If you don’t wanna say thank you for all the hard work it takes to do tutorials, blogs, vlogs etc then just keep it quiet and keep it moving. What do you really gain by being mean to others?
That being said thanks Shanti and Antoinette, AWTC is awesome-sauce! 
Much love!

Stacey, Instagram:

HopelesslyDopeHair

ATWC Recognized by Refinery29 in “Top 12 Best Beauty Blogs That Every Natural-Haired Girl Should Bookmark”

 

 

What??!!! This is really exciting news for Antoinette and myself. We are honored to be recognized by such a respected, popular, diverse source. To check out the list of other blogs mentioned as well as our write up, click

HERE

(Beauty blog though? If Ya’ll don’t say anything we wont….)

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