Growing My Hair Out = The Worst.

I really liked having short hair. It’s easy, chic, and pure. However, a few weeks ago, I saw one of my old YouTube vids and decided I actually REALLY liked my longer curls and needed ‘em back:

I guess I somehow wound up with hair envy of myself and I’m on a quest to grow my hair out so I can get my fun little curlies back for me to play with! Yay!

Thing is, I’m smack dab in the middle of that awkward length where it kind of just looks like my hair is some sort of fuzzy cap sitting on top of my head. Since I’m used to having super precise haircuts, having a non-shaped style is driving me absolutely crazy.

Each and every day, I am tempted to cut it all off. I even went as far as calling Marie to tell her I was having a “hair emergency” and made a last minute appointment. When I walked in she took one look at me and said “THIS is not an emergency. You just need to keep growing it out.”

And she’s absolutely right.

Thing is my curls HAVE grown back a lot and are healthy and thriving, but they’re not short enough to look polished and styled, nor are they long enough do anything with.

I was able to talk Marie into cutting off what I considered to be my curly mullet so my hair could have SOME shape while I grow it out. Check out this Before & After:

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I can’t wait until my hair is out of this awkward adolescent phase of the grow out, but stay tuned because Lola is coming BACK! Woohoo!!!

Me & My Marley Twists!!!

Back in December, I started to get a major case of hair envy  and decided that I wanted to grow Lola out.  However, I quickly realized that without freshly clipped curls, I kinda started to look like Bradley Cooper from American Hustle.  EEP!

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Researching a Protective Style

For months, I’ve been loving the Marley Twist a.k.a. “Havana Twist” look and called up Deedee, The Golden Braider, located in Berkeley, CA to see if she could hook a gal up. After she explained to me that it would take about 4 hours and 6 bags of hair, I was S.O.L.D. (especially considering that normal singles take about 12-15 hours, this new style was a real time saver!).

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FINALLY! I’m 100% Natural.

Here’s the thing: I absolutely LOVED having colored hair. I thought it enhanced my skintone and eye color and allowed me to show off my unique texture in a really great way. Thing is, over the past few months, I really and I mean really started to miss my natural hair color.

The anxiety started to plague me in my sleep (y’all know I get weird hair anxiety dreams) and I started to think about how gray hair is probably just around the corner for me (le sigh). Each day that passed, I started to hate the little straggling blonde curls and even pulled out the scissors and cut a few off myself. When I saw the damaged ends after my most recent adventure in straightening, I new that it was time to cut it off.

Sitting down in Marie’s chair, I explained that I just wanted the blonde gone.

“You’re going to be able to see your scalp, you know,” she explained.

“I know. Just cut it.”

And cut it she did.

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The result was shorter hair than I’ve EVER had before, but I’m absolutely enamored with my natural texture AND color. As I said earlier, I loved having colored hair, but there’s no question that it is a chemical process that altered the texture and integrity of my curls. I definitely fell off on the care front, for some reason short hair doesn’t seem as though it needs as much deep conditioning and pampering as long curls (although this is probably not at all true.)

Knowing me and my whims of style, I will certainly be back to color sometime in the future, but for now that I’m back to fully natural, my hair is softer and more shiny than I can remember!!

In Which I Straightened My Hair (???????)

If there is one person that shouldn’t go messing around with my hair, it’s DEFINITELY ME. I am absolutely the WORST when it comes to experimentation, but for some reason I just can’t seem to resist it!

Case in point: a few weekends ago, I woke up with a craving to straighten my hair. I mean, it’s been YEARS since I’ve done this myself (and last time I almost broke my neck in the process), so I guess I was due for a bit of adventure.

I rummaged around my natural hair goodies and remembered that Motions had sent me a sample of their new Straight to Finish line! I popped open the box and not only was the whole product set in there, but ALSO a handy-dandy little flat-iron! How serendipitous indeed!

So I washed and conditioned my hair with their products. There’s actually only a leave-in (no conditioner), which made me nervous, but whatever—I was on a M.I.S.S.I.O.N.!

First things first, I sat beneath my hooded dryer and let my hair dry 85% of the way through. Then I dug out my comb attachment for the blow dryer and worked it through my curls.

At this point you might be asking yourself a very, very, important question:

Cass, do you even have enough hair to blow dry it straight!???

The answer is no, not really. But I worked it out.

Well, kinda.

The result was one of the more ridiculous looks I’ve ever, EVER seen on my head.

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So, yea. That happened.

Then I proceeded to smooth on the Motions Straight Finish Sealer, aka heat protectant, a CRUCIAL step. Ever since I had to cut of 10 inches of heat damage once upon a time, we do not mess around without heat protectant!

Then there was the flat-iron. Almost immediately I was ready to be done. It’s that SMELL, ya know??? My hair wasn’t burning or anything, it just smelled…. straightened. It is a scent (stank odor?) I do not miss.

After about 30 minutes, I was through my entire head and the result was………..less than appealing.

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I tried to make it work by adding my side part back and using some styler to hold down the sides, only to realize that the only styler I have is actually for CURLS so almost immediately my hair started to revert back to its natural texture.

Within 30 minutes, I was in the shower washing my hair and getting it’s texture back!

So what did we learn??

  • First of all, the Motions Straight Finish products did a great job. My hair reverted immediately and there was no damage. Thumbs up on the product living up to its promises!
  • Ya girl needed a haircut. BADLY! When I got my last cut, I didn’t want to go TOO short, so the blonde ends were left on. It added a little pepper of color, but honestly it always kind of annoyed me. However, seeing the colored pieces in their straightened form realized just how dry and damaged they were. It was absolutely time for them to go!
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  • I love my natural hair. Simple as that!
  • Welcome back, curls!!  You were missed!

    Welcome back, curls!! You were missed!

My 4-Year Blogiversary: THE RETURN

Well hello there! As you may have noticed, I took a bit of a hiatus there from the blog front, and for those who are frequent readers, I apologize for the departure.

The truth is that I had become uninspired by the natural hair world. Sure, there was the constant release of new products and fun parties and mixers to attend, but after four years that whole scene had become stale, empty and in terms of seeking out compelling content, it lacked the true depth I had once found within it.

So I stopped writing.

However, Natural Selection has brought me immense joy and growth, so I knew that it would be back, but that I needed to take time to reflect on where it is I wanted to take this next part of my journey.

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I woke up today and it dawned on me: I needed to take this blog back to it’s origins, to the ORIGINAL reasons I started writing in July of 2009. So I took a trip over to my ORIGINAL blog (there have been three over the years), to see if my very first blog post held any clues. Appropriately titled “New Beginnings: A [Moderately] Brief History of Why I’m Starting a Blog About My Hair“, this post holds it’s intrigue in the opening sentence and closing statement.

The opener:

“Since I can remember, my hair has been both my crowning glory and my greatest nemesis.”

A powerful statement, and one that rings true for many women of color, however after four years of being natural, I am proud to say that my hair is a nemesis no longer!

An excerpt from my closing paragraph:

“This blog is not going to just be about hairstyles and products. I’ve come to realize that the story of black hair is a story about cultural and personal identity, health and diet, schools and learning, world history and politics, art and expression, laughter and struggle, and family and friends.”

Four years later, I stand behind this statement still. The natural hair movement, with it’s parades of products and consumerism, has swallowed up the above the true story of black hair and I too have been swept up in it and have deviated from sharing and exploring it. However I truly believe that it’s important to keep these explorations at the forefront. It’s what positively unites us, rather than 3a/4c divides us.

I will admit that it’s funny that I spent so much time and effort worrying about where I should take the future of this blog, when all I had to do was return to the origin for the answer. A lesson for us all.

Get the Part! A Side Part on your TWA that is….

One of the main issues I have (and hear from my readers) is that with a TWA there aren’t a lot of styling options. My first instinct is to say, “well, that’s the point.” But now after a few months of having my own crop, I totally understand the desire to spice a short ‘do up a bit.

Which is why I’ve decided to rock the side part. The side part inspiration came about when I saw Solange do it when she first did her big chop.

the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards

It appears however, that our dearest Miss Knowles cut her part into her hair and while cute, I was reluctant to make such a commitment.

So when I was getting my hair cut and styled last week, I hopped out of the chair and used my fingers and nails to sort of draw in a side part. It worked just okay, but the idea was there.

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The next day I decided to figure out how to get the part going REAL good. ¬†After a few trials and errors, I finally achieved a part that will last for days on end, even through sleeping and second day hair! Here’s how I do it:

1. On freshly washed hair, apply your usual styling product. I’ve been liking gels.

2. Take a comb and place your part. Your hair will want just swallow that part right back up, so try to use the teeth of the comb to gently tame just the roots.

3. Once you have the part, lightly apply some firm hold gel. I’ve been really, really liking the new EDEN Bodyworks Control Edge Glaze. It’s all natural, dries clear, has an AWESOME hold and for $8.99—the price is right!

4. Once the gel is applied, take two duckbill clips and slide them along either side of the part.

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5. Using a blowdryer on medium heat with a nozzle attachment, lightly dry the roots along the part.

6. Carefully slide the clips out and VOILA! You’ve got a solid and straight side part!

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Meanwhile on Essence.com: My 7 Hairstyles in 2 Years!

I think I just got so jazzed about this feature that I forgot to post it here on NSB, which is too bad because it’s pretty cool!

Lemme tell you how it all came about.

As you know, I recently chopped my hair pretty darn short and the next day I woke up, looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. This lack of self-recognition, however, is a feeling I’ve gotten pretty used to, especially as I think back to my various styles I’ve had over the past few years…

The Asym…The Hatchback…The Damn Fade….

Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, if I lined up all my different styles so I could see the evolution of my natural hair journey?

Well, that “wouldn’t it be cool” idea quickly became a “would ya look at that” gallery over on Essence.com!

Here’s a few of the slides!

Pretty dramatically different styles in there, aren’t there?

Check out the full gallery here!

Of course…ohhhh, of course of course of course, I look at this gallery and look at my short cropped ‘do and can only think “what’s next!?”

I guess it makes sense: I haven’t kept the same style for longer than 4 months at this point, so why start now? I have absolutely been loving the short hair, but my one complaint is that it grows too fast!

I Couldn’t Resist the Clippers (Part 2)

So where did I leave off?

Oh right! I left the salon looking all cute and fly and digging my hair. I woke up in the morning and figured that since I had short hair- what the hey!? Why not wash it! So I went through my normal cleanse, condition, and style routine and when I got out of the shower I saw that my hair was looking a bit… off. My curls weren’t defined at all and instead were sticking straight up giving me a flat top. Which is not what I wanted. At all.

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I tried to work with it, I really did, but I felt less #CrazySexyCool, and more #HouseParty. It wasn’t good.

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As promised I returned to Marie for my finishing touches. Maybe, just maybe, I thought she can figure out what was going on here. And as soon as I sat in her chair she gasped:

“Where are your curls!?”

“I thought something was wrong!!! I thought that maybe it was just that my hair was too short to curl!”

“Go home IMMEDIATELY and steam your hair. I can’t cut anything because all I see is frizz!”

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It was bad. But I followed the doctors orders and used my Huetiful Hair Steamer with DevaCurl’s Heaven In Hair, leaving it in when the steam sesh was over.

Thankfully, when all was said and done, my little curly coils were BACK and I breathed a MASSIVE sigh of relief. Turns out that the cut and color had given poor little Lola a shock and all she needed was a dose of hydration to be revived. PHEW!

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I’m finally happy to say that Lola has received a clean bill of health and approval to be photographed. So without further ado:

Apparently short haircuts give you cheekbones? Don’t know where those things came from, but I don’t mind one bit.

So I didn’t go cue ball or really, really low on the fade because one of the things I like most about my hair is it’s texture. We wanted to go for a length that would truly show off my unique texture and teeny weeny curls and I think we did just that! A huge THANK YOU to Marie of Madusalon for as always taking my crazy and convoluted hair ideas and creating an awesome and unique style. If you’re in the Bay Area you REALLY must check out Madu. They’re the best.

This cut is everything. No really, it is. It’s sophisticated and playful, structured yet soft, refined yet edgy. So far I am L-O-V-I-N-G how easy it is to take care of and the drying time is next to nothing (a far cry from my usual 8 hours!). It also really makes me want to DRESS and bring out lots of fun colors, accessories and patterns.]

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As you know, I really like to name each of my styles, but I’m really at a loss right now! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll pick one of ‘em out!

**STYLE SHOUT OUT: Thanks to FunkyButtons for hooking up the pictured red earrings. Check out her shop and get yourself a pair of your own!***

Chop! Chop! I Couldn’t Resist the Clippers.

For the past couple weeks I’ve had a trip to the salon on the mind.  My ends were feeling ratty, my color had seriously grown out and it was just time to get in Marie’s chair at Madusalon and let Lola get some professional love.  The issue is, I was headed into the salon with The Itch.  You know, that little voice in the back of my mind that has been saying [for upwards of a year] “SHAVE IT OFF!”

Seeing as I transitioned for a year, I never had the opportunity (or the guts) to chop my hair super short, but it’s always been a style to which I’ve been drawn  I wrote an entire series on this blog called “Chop! Chop!“, which features interviews with those who have rocked their 2nd Chop (starring: Felicia Leatherwood, Tomiko Frasier Hines, and Pam Jenkins of Koils By Nature).  To me, these ladies were almost braver in chopping the second time around because they had already crossed the finish line that most naturals are yearning to reach: long, natural hair.  So for these Chop! Chop!’ers to just clip off their years of “work” inspired me by showing not just that it was possible, but also yielded beautiful, confident results with no regrets.

So there I was, with a 2nd Chop on the mind, a hair appointment on the books and the conflicting emotion of wanting to have beautiful flowing curls.  I explained all of this to Marie who took my confusion in stride and helped me sort it out:

“So you want short hair, but also long hair?”

“Yes.”

“You’re making no sense.”

“I know.”

“Well, show me what you’re talking about.”

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After a trip to her computer where I showed her some cropped cuts and styles I’ve been eyeing she sat me in her chair and broke out the clippers.

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My heart raced as I saw piles of my curls fall to the floor and disappear into a trash bin.  I have to admit I was sad to see them go.  Very sad.

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I’ve always loved my spiral boing boing curls, but I also found myself entranced by the sleek, short silhouette I saw in the mirror.

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Once the cut was done, we decided to do another round of all over color.  I’ve been a HUGE fan of the color I’ve been rocking this past year so decided to bring it into my new style.

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After a round of all over dye, followed by highlights and a finishing toner, I was washed, styled and only had a few minutes to sit beneath the dryer before I had to dash off to be a guest judge at an elementary school spelling bee in Oakland (!).

Typically Marie does a final cut to finish the style, but I had to dash out the door so quickly we didn’t have time that night but decided that I would return to the salon in a couple days for her to check it out.  I also promised I wouldn’t post pictures of her work until it was all finished.

Leaving the salon, my hair looked great!  I was loving the cut and felt fresh, sophisticated and renewed.  However, the next day, things started to go downhill….

…and learn why in part 2…

I’m at a hair crossroads. Again. [Always?]

At the end of the last year, I found a picture of yours truly in Essence.com’s slideshow of the Top 50 Natural Hair Styles of 2012 and I was all “Gosh! Really!?!?! Me?! And Lola?? Awesome.”

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But of course, the whole thing sent me into a fit of uncertainty. That style is now sooooooo 2012. It’s now 2013! And I need a style that is sooooooo 2013, right? I’m mainly kidding about that. I love this cut, but you know me—I #cantstopwontstop changing it up!

I just have no idea what my next style should be.

Should I keep with the same style and grow out the top more?

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Or grow it long again?

Or maybe even go even shorter than I ever have before?

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Please, let me know your thoughts…I’m very much open to suggestions over here.

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