Black Hair @ MoAD: Event Wrap Up + Gallery

There was a lot of anticipation for this event, especially on my end as I wanted to do something a very different from anything else I produced.

And I’m glad to say that Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora not only met, but truly exceeded my expectations!

The three stories of the glass-walled and glittering Museum of the African Diaspora were filled with hundreds of attendees from around the Bay Area, some even traveling from as far as New York for the event.

The concept of the event was to produce an artistic celebration of black hair through the lens of the diaspora. I came up with the idea to have “Living Sculptures” or models who each represented a specific location within the African Diaspora. I narrowed these locations down to six places which hold a certain significance for me in terms of my personal natural hair journey: Paris, The Congo, Sub-Saharan Africa (modern day Ethiopia), Brazil, the Caribbean and, of course, San Francisco.

In collaboration with Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood, our fashion sponsor, Bloomingdales, and make up artist, Tamra Marie Aristry, this vision was brought to life (literally):

The highlight of the evening was a panel that featured Jewels Barron, Creative Director of Shea Moisture; Felicia Leatherwood, Celebrity Stylist and Rhadamés Julian, Director of Follicle. We talked about the importance of hair when it comes to discussing black identity, the role of pop culture when it comes to discussing black identity, and the origins and future of the natural hair movement. It was truly an insightful discussion, one that was filled with themes and topics that are too often glazed over and it was good to facilitate a deeper topic on the subject.

The rest of the evening was spent checking out the MoAD exhibits including the Kinsey exhibit on black hair and adornment (if you’re in the Bay, this is a must-see!), enjoying the delicious eats from Radio Africa, laughing and smiling in the Lightworks Photobooth and grooving to the tunes of DJ DC from KMEL.

It was truly a magical event, one of my favorites I’ve ever done. Going into it I thought it might be my last, but I’ve already got the itch and idea for another in the works… :)

That said, this was truly a group effort and special thanks to the following:

•Shea Moisture for supporting the Bay Area natural hair community and the exploration of these topics.
•Bloomindales, for being such creative collaborators in making this happen (shout outs to Mariama, Cati and Jay!)
•Tamra Marie Artistry, for lending your talents and vision and a wide palette of colors!
•To the MoAD Vanguard, for giving me the platform to do this event. And in particular, Timmie Roach, my true partner in crime in making this event happen. I couldn’t have done it without you!!!!
•To my mom, for hopping on a plane at my insistence to come check out the event.
•And to our partners, Lightworks Photobooth, Moet Chandon, Radio Africa, DJ DC, Glass House Communications and the Parc55 Hotel— THANK YOU!

Now, without further ado, the full gallery from the event!

One you chop you just can’t stop

I’ve spent the last month wavering back and forth between the big decision that seems to plague me every couple months: Cut or grow? BAA or TWA? Crop or Crown?

I knew I needed a simple trim so I made a last minute appointment with my stylist Marie of Madusalon in San Francisco. The issue is, last minute appointments don’t work so well for a lady whose signature curly cuts book out a month in advance.

We were crunched for time in a serious way.

As a result, I decided that I simply wanted to go natural.

“Go natural?” you say. Yes, go natural, as in ditch the color and the crazy cuts, I wanted a short cropped do and my own natural color.

The result is just that, a short cropped do featuring Lola au naturel!


Well, kind of.

The remaining blonde highlights will have to go pretty soon, but you get the point.


Wanna know the other point? Of course you do.


There is just something so simple, chic and pure about having a minimalist ‘do.

Saying that my hair is easy to style is an understatement. It takes a matter of seconds and I’m done! I will say that I am having a bit of a challenge in finding the appropriate combination of products that coax my curls out of hiding. It seems that my hair likes different products at every different length and right now we’re seeing a renaissance of GELS. Stay tuned for how that evolves.


You may notice that I’ve been rocking a side part with the look, a style note I pinched from my lifelong bestie (and BIRTHDAY GIRL) Phallon, who added one to HER big chop a few months ago. It’s a super simple addition, but one that adds a level of sophistication and refinement to the new crop. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when I do a tutorial on how I get the part (and make it STAY!)

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?”


“You’re making no sense.”

“I know.”

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…

Half Inch of Growth in Five Weeks! Craziness!

The other day I was looking in the mirror and THOUGHT that I saw my roots coming in.  “BAH!  Not possible!  I just had my hair colored a few weeks ago!”

Then when detangling and parting my hair, low and behold I’VE GOT SOME FREAKING ROOTS!!


That’s a full half inch of growth right there!  Wowie!  I always thought my hair grew fast, but the new growth of my natural color really lets me see it clearly.  I’ve been considering (***just considering***) growing out my cut and I was wondering how long it would take for the short side to match the left side.  My long side is about 8″ when stretched and the short is about 2″ so at a rate of 1/2″ per month, we’re looking at another year.  Hmm…that’s an awful long time…I might just have to big chop myself outta this one and go from there :)

My Big Product Problem and a Lil Product Review! (Alikay Naturals Honey & Sage Deep Conditioner)

Let me start off by saying that this is a major first world problem. In fact it’s a very specific #FWP, it’s a #naturalhairbloggerproblem.

I have too many hair products. There it is. I admitted it. I have far too many. Even though I have so many, I cannot help myself by acquiring more and more and more because I love testing and trying them all out— FOR YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF COURSE!

But things have really spiraled out of control. As my friend Afrobella stated, my bedroom is the intersection of Sephora and Hoarders. Add that to the influx of boxes arriving and I’ve also got shipping and receiving department that rivals UPS.

So I decided to attack the product beast and clear it all out to take inventory. And I really did take inventory, listing all of my products by name and product type (conditioner, cleanser, moisturizer, oil, and styler). I found over 150 bottles, jars, tubes and vials lurking around my house. There is no way anyone ever needs over 150 products, so in a feat of strength, I tossed about half of them in bags and they’re going to be en route to a women’s shelter where I’m sure they will be used, loved and most importantly not hoarded.

Before the cleanse and organized by product type: moisturizers, stylers, oils, butters, deep conditioners, and cleansers. PHEW! That longest line was over 6' long!

Now the good thing is that I found many products that I have always WANTED to try, but just haven’t gotten around to. Case in point: the Alikay Naturals Honey and Sage Deep conditioners. I received a jar of this last year in :::hangs head shamefully::: October when the maker of Alikay aka Rochelle aka Black Onyx were in the US Virgin Islands together for a couple of hair events.

I pulled it out to tested it and was immediately WOWED by the product. It’s not too heavy, not too light, but infused my hair with amazing moisture and ZERO residue. My coils are always a fan of proteins and this one packs both Wheat Protein and Silk Aminos. I rinsed out a little bit of the conditioner, but left a little bit in and topped my coils off with a bit of gel.

A nice consistency, not too heavy and not too light.

One dry, my coils be poppin!

Check out my full review and testing:

Things are even looking good on the second day and feeling OH SO VERY VERY VERY moisturized! This deep conditioner is an ABSOLUTE keeper and I’m so glad I finally tried it out, better late than never!

Second day hair

In my last product review, I tested out the Naturalista Juicy Leave In and there is ONE DAY LEFT TO ENTER! Seriously, go do it!! It’s a great product and I’m selecting a winner tomorrow! Woot Woot!

BIG DAY TODAY: I’m *Officially* Becoming a Natural

Every since the doing my big chop, I’ve embraced my identity as a natural through and through EXCEPT for one place: with the state and federal governments.  All of my pieces of official government identification still have pictures of me with my relaxed hair on them.

The Passport Picture

It’s caused many a raised eyebrows while handing over my license and passport to bouncers and TSA officials (the two groups that are seeing my ID’s on a regular basis).  The incongruity between my short natural hair and my long straight hair have never caused lack of entry, but I have certainly had my fair share of interesting commentary from the ID checking faction.  A few examples:

“Now THAT’S a hair cut.”

“Hoooowhee!  Whatta 180 you did, huh?”

“Oh, I see…you’re kinda doin that Macy Gray, Chaka Khan thing now.”  

“[silence]…[looks at me]….[looks at the card]…[more silence]…[stares at me with that look that says ‘i-really-want-to-talk-about-your-hair-but-do-not-want-to-come-off-as-ignorant’]…[looks at card]…[passes card back].  Looks good.”

“OMG!  You’ve got natural hair now! I want to go natural but my hair is just too nappy and I have to work here in security and I just don’t know what to do with it, but my cousin, see she got this stuff called Kinky Curly and it looks good on her but I just don’t think it will work for me but it looks great on you!”

“Mmm! Mmm!  Mmm!  Just a proud natural sister embracing her hair.  Can I call you sometime and embrace your hair too?”

“Hmm. I like it better on the card.”

I guess people think that since I’m giving them card with all my info, that I’m also giving them an invitation to tell me what they think about my hair choices.

Since going natural there has been nothing to motivate me to want to go change my ID picture to match my hair just for the sake of easing these slightly awkward encounters in identification verification.  A few hours in a DMV line when I could be out doing, say, anything else?  No thanks.

That is, until a magical little envelope arrived in the mail, informing me that somehow half a decade has passed and it’s now time to renew my license.  Welp.  No time like the present to take a new picture, especially since the State of California is insisting.  Today is the day and I’m pretty excited to make this happen.

Confession: I like to look good for ID pictures.  I often get made fun of for this, but I will dress up for ID pictures.  I will do my hair and wear more make up than normal for an ID picture.  I will smize the crap out of the camera for my ID picture.  As a result of all my effort, more than any of those comments above, I often receive complements on my lD pictures.

The Debit Card Picture

I would estimate that more people see an ID picture than any other photograph of you, therefore I do not comprehend why people insist upon looking like they just got beat up before taking a picture for their ID cards.  People roll into the DMV like they just got out of bed and THEN they don’t even smile.  No no no no no.  THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR THAT!

This is the time to put in just a little extra effort.  Especially for me.  Especially today.   Today is the day that I proudly become a naturalista in the eyes of the State of California and I know Lola will be ready for her close up.

The license picture.

**Note: just for the record, I’m still too lazy / cheap to go get my passport picture changed.  We’ll still have another 3-4 years with that bad boy.


COLOR ME RAD: Lola De-Virginized (part 2)

Let’s see…now where did we leave off in the story of Lola’s virgin color. Oh, right. Me leaving you hanging for three days waiting for the official pictures! Muahahahaha

Ok, so the truth is that after steaming, I decided just to leave the deep conditioning treatment in my hair and roll out of the salon (to a much anticipated happy hour at NOPA). We used Deva’s Heaven in Hair, which is sold as a deep conditioner, but can be used as a styling cream. In fact, I would say that it is absolutely one of my FAVORITE styling creams out there. But in an effort to bring some moisture back to Lola, my hair was completely over saturated with the product. My instructions were to wash it out and re-style in the morning and come back the salon for a visit for any final trims. That’s the perk of living just four blocks from Madusalon. What it meant for this piece was that right after the coloring, my hair was chalky and dull until I washed it and we certainly didn’t want to do a reveal like that!

So the next morning, I got up and washed my hair using JessiCurl Cleansing Cream, conditioned first with Deva One Condition and then Darcy Botanitcal’s Pumpkin Seed Conditioner, then styled on soaking wet hair with Hair Rules Curly Whip. My curls felt soft and hydrated if not only slightly looser on the finer sections right above my ear. Here is a shot of when my hair is still sopping wet:

Color is darker when it’s wet and I was impatient to see it fully dry. To expedite the process I sat beneath the hooded dryer for about 40 minutes then fluffed with the nozzle on my hand dryer. I WAS REALLY LIKING WHAT I WAS SEEING!!

I went back do to Madusalon and we all agreed that the color was ON POINT! After clipping a couple random curls, Lola and I were sent on our merry way! The final color:

It’s more blonde and less red than I had originally anticipated, but it certainly complements my skin tone more–what can I say? I’m a California Girl! I’m going to call it California Golden Copper! CGC BABY! WEST COAST REPRESENT! Ha!

I’m glad we didn’t go as red, and Marie, oh that Marie told me that she never wanted to take me as red as the pictures, but more caramel, but works wonderfully and doesn’t (as I feared) prohibit me from wearing my precious red lipstick!).
The color actually quite subtle when inside and shimmers in the sunlight. Friends who have known me a long time have been coming up and asking “did you do something different?” and then when I tell them they say “WOW! It’s IS lighter!” I’ve been getting huge compliments, especially at the TextureTalk event yesterday. We got tons of headshots from the event, so I’ll be sharing those shortly so you can see more of the color, especially on the shorter side.

All in all– a great experience thus far with the color and looking forward to rockin it!!

COLOR ME RAD: Lola De-virginized (part one)

Three weeks ago, a teeny weeny ‘i need to color my hair’ seed was planted in my head at ABS in Chicago and yesterday it finally came into full bloom! Marie France, my Madusalon stylist, has long told me that color would be the next inevitable step in my natural hair journey so when the itch finally came about I wasn’t terribly shy to scratch it. Yes, there was a bit of an identity crisis to do a virgin color on my natural hair, but per the support of you my readers, I moved forward and did the damn thang!

My appointment  began with a thorough trim and reshaping of my asymmetrical cut. It really needed it. I didn’t realize how far my edges had grown out until they were trimmed and line and looking nice and tight.

Then began the color. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a full color application considering my only experience with chemical processes has been relaxers. At first the scent of the color blindsided me and I choked on the fumes coming from the gooey white mix coming from the bowl. As Marie applied the mixture with a brush, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my creamy crack days of yore. But then something kind of magical started to happen…at first I thought it was my eyes tricking me, but no– my hair was getting LIGHTER by the nanosecond right in front of my eyes!


It was pretty cool to watch my deep dark chocolate shade warm up to more of tannish hue. I was mesmerized. I could feel the mixture tingling against my scalp and I kept on expecting all of a sudden to need to be rushed to the shampoo bowl with a head on fire like what I was used to with a relaxer, but it never did. Marie kept peeking at the color saying she loved it. We had started off with a vision and seeing as this was my virgin application of color, I had no idea what the process would be like, but as always, I trusted her expertise.

We washed off the layer of color and the Madusalon stylists came over to ooh and ahh. Soon enough I was back in the styling chair for the second round of color application: highlights! For the longer portions of my hair, Marie used a foiling technique and for the shorter sections, she used a curly-specific Deva method called Pintura in which you pull out individual coils and “paint” them with your fingers. Pintura also employs a surprising use of toilet paper to separate the different layers of color (it’s the only thing light enough not to smush the coils and color together apparently!). After a few minutes, Marie’s assistant Angel started to remove the foils and holy #%#$^#$$% my hair was PLATINUM BLONDE. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t platinum blond streaks! “Next, we use toner…” explained Marie. I wasn’t sure what toner was, but I just kept breathing deeply watching as foils were removed to reveal what Marie was jokingly calling “Tiajuana streaks”.



After another two rounds of shampoo, Marie applied this miraculous substance called toner. Still not entirely sure what this stuff was, I entrusted it to do what it was explained to me to do: CHILL OUT THE BLONDE! Still at the shampoo bowl, the toner was rinsed out and I was shampooed and conditioned then sent for a steam treatment. Color, especially lifting color several shades, can be extraordinarily drying on the hair. Lola was in serious need of a rehydrating treatment before her final debut and she got what she deserved.  After she was steamed, she was ready, refreshed, and rehydrated from the coloring process to be styled!

…..stay tuned for the final styling and color reveal in part two!

Hair Color is TOTES Happening for Me. TODAY.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and words of advice regarding my little existential crisis last week regarding hair color, but sometimes a gal just says eff it and goes for the gold! And in this case, I’m going for a rich hue of coppery-cinnamon brown.

Seeing as this is my maiden voyage into the seas of color, I am totally nervous about the process and the results. I’m not sure how it will turn out so we’ll just have to see. What I do know is that well-conditioned healthy hair is key not only for a smooth application of color, but also healthy strands on the other side. As a result, I’ve been deep conditioning my little heart out over the past week. I’ve done protein deep treatments using my hooded soft bonnet dryer as well as steaming with my Huetiful Steamer. Currently, Lola feels in superb condition and is ready for color!

Additionally, I’ll be having my cut shaped up and ready for my European adventures next week! It’s been two months since my last cut and I’m still super pleased with the asymmetrical ‘do, but the shorter side has gotten a bit grown out and I’d like to see that shaped up a bit. The longer side, however, I want to keep long to emphasize the drama of the long and short.


My grown out short coils

My short side freshly clipped back in January

My current 'do...2 months since my last cut

Front view after my last cut

Lola Be Damned. Lola Be Faded.

So the Nzuri show was great and I’ve got hundreds of pictures and vids to edit and organize, but first things first: LOLA HAS A NEW LOOK.

So here’s how this all went down. I’ve had Damn envy for months since meeting the Damn ladies in February. A couple weeks ago I facebooked Mushiya (founder and owner of the Damn Salon) with this message:

Mushiya. I’m inspired. it involves me, you, and a pair of clippers. call me.

We chatted eventually she got on my Damn vision train. Upon my arrival in Houston I immediately went to get Damned to the tune of Urban Twists and added a streak of honey blonde to the front for a pop of Damn color. Loved it. Here’s a vid on how that turned out!

But this was only part of my vision. What I REALLY wanted, was a Damn Fade. Yes that’s right Damn Urban Twists + A Fade = THE NEW ME. Continue reading

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