Oh no! I’m allergic to my extensions!

About two days after I got my Marley Twists, I started to feel a little tingle along my hair line in the morning.

“Ah, it’s just the tension of the hair, nothing to worry about,” I thought to myself.

However, slowly the sensation began to intensify throughout the day. By 2pm I looked crazed as I attempted to gently scratch my freshly-braided and therefore sensitive scalp and wound up pressing the skin with the tips of my fingers instead of my nails. By nightfall, little white pimples had erupted along my edges.

“Guess, I need to lay off the chocolate! This breakout is horrible!!,” I continued to naively think.

Throughout the night, I kept waking up due to the intensity of itching. By the morning, I had convinced myself that it was an intense allergy attack due to dust…or pollen…or something?

My eyes started to swell. My whole body started to feel like ants were crawling beneath my skin. My ears broke out in a rash. My chin was irritated. I. Was. Miserable. I decided to take a Claritin just to see what would happen…and all of the symptoms miraculously stopped. 12 hours later [presumably when the meds wore off] it was all back.

Solving My Kanekalon Sensitivity

After 6 hours of twisting and investing in the 13 bags of hair for the style, I really did NOT want to take my twists down. All I wanted to do was douse my head in water to purify it and give myself some relief. I decided to do a detoxing Apple Cider Vinegar rinse to clarify my scalp of what ever allergen was attacking it. In a spray bottle, I mixed 2 tablespoons of ACV and tepid water then thoroughly sprayed my scalp and along the twists. I really saturated the hair and my skin and immediately I felt relief! I let the ACV solution sit for about 30 minutes and then rinsed out in the shower.

Within a matter of hours my symptoms had started to clear up and within a day the itching had subsided. It was official: I have an allergy to synthetic hair!

The Cause of the Allergy

I wound up in a fascinating Twitter conversation with The Natural Haven, the UK natural who knows the science behind all things hair. She did some research and explained that it’s not actually the plastic hair fibers that cause the allergy, but instead the anti-static coating they are covered in to keep the strands from sticking together. (If you want the full deets read all about those patents here and here)

It was nice to know that this allergy is a real thing and that there are things you can do to stop it! Protective styles with synthetic hair are great, but nobody needs to live alone with the serious amounts of irritation that this brings.

Have you ever experienced this allergy? How did you deal with it?

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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28 and Freaking Out.

As a gal in the midst of her 28th year, I’m realizing I’m looking down the barrel at the ol’ 3-0. I know, I know, I know, “20 is the new 30″, which is a trendy and convenient thing to say when you’re in my position, but no matter– I’m kinda starting to freak out.

And apparently it’s…perfectly normal?

I don’t want to get mystical on you guys, but I’m going to get mystical on you guys. Hear me out.

Have you ever heard of Saturn’s Return? According to the astrological world, it takes Saturn 29 years to return to the same place it was at your birth. It’s during this phase of Saturn’s Return that we go through a period of testing, questioning, shifting and evolving that ultimately ends with the dust settling and you emerging with a new perspective, goals and course in life. It’s supposedly this first Saturn Return that is the most difficult because it coincides with the firm end of childhood and entry into adulthood.

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Whether you’re into astrology or not, I think that there is something to be said about this bridge between your 20’s and 30’s and how you navigate that.

I turned 28 several months ago and since then my life has felt a bit unsettled and has thrown some pretty serious ups and downs my way. Coupled with the fact that my body just doesn’t seem as young as it used to in some ways (hangovers!? aches and pains!?!? WTF!?!), I’m pretty darn sure that I’m in the throes of my Saturn’s Return! I’m never too shy about letting you in on what’s going on in my life, so I thought I’d share that things are seemingly a little wonky over in my neck of the woods right now.

I found this great Saturn Return Survival Guide over on Galadarling.com that I thought I’d share with you. While these lessons and learnings seem to be particularly pertinent to me right now, I think we can all appreciate the wisdom they hold.

Never compare yourself to anyone else.

No matter what stage you’re at right now, that is the exact place you should be. We all move, grow & mature at different times, but that doesn’t make any of us better or worse than one another. Someone may have their career all figured out but their relationships are a mess, while you might have your spirituality on lock but haven’t learned to save any money yet. It’s okay. You’ll get there. Take it one day at a time.

Take responsibility for your thoughts & actions.

I say this over & over & over, but now is REALLY the time to put it into action! You will never be in control of your life or your emotions until you start to own up to everything you think & everything you do.

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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!!

My Must See TV (no spoilers)

Its taken me YEARS to admit to being an avid TV watcher. I don’t own a TV so I can roll around all smug and say that, but HELLOOOOO—with the internet and there about a bazillion different ways in which I keep up with all sorts of high (and low) quality broadcasting. So yea. I watch TV, I love it and I’m in pretty deep on a few shows that are all starting soon (or have already started) this fall and I just COULDN’T be happier! Here’s a rundown of my must sees:

1. SCANDAL

I got into Scandal first through hate-watching it. You know, where you watch something because you’re so morbidly fascinated about how bad it is. Then I kept watching it and before I knew it, I was HOOKED and wrote a post on why I think it’s a smart show. Good lawd this show is good/bad!! It also has a gloriously long season, so I know I can get my Scandal on from now thru the end of May or something ridic.

Premieres Thursday October 3 AKA TONIGHT!!!!

KERRY WASHINGTON

2. Parks and Recreation

For some reason, this show just brings out the waterworks with me. I can’t explain it, but I’ve shed a tear at least 5 times watching this comedic sitcom. Weird, right? …I think that when these characters are happy it’s so sweet and pure. <3

On the other hand, Ron Swanson with his Pyramid of Greatness is my hero and Jean-Ralphio is one of my most favorite people in the world.

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Premiered September 26

3. HOMELAND

ZOMG HOMELAND IS THE JAM. This show had me hook line and sinker after a single episode. After last season’s finale peeps were all like “wtf, Homeland is soooooo unrealistic now.” But, uh….it’s that the point of TELEVISION? I want this ish to be AS unrealistic as possible, especially this show and all its domestic terrorism mindf***ery. Bring on the bipoalar bomb squad that is this Showtime gem!

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Premieres Sunday September 29

4. Girls

Reminds me of girls I know from college. And I heard there’s a black chick on the show this season. I’m intrigued.

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Premieres: uhhhh….this is devestating…. Last year, Girls was a fall premiere, but apparently it’s not back on until 2014 and I didn’t find this info out until looking it up for this post. BUMMER.

5. Downton Abbey

If you’re a Downton fan, you’re probably thinking “ummmm…that doesn’t start til January, dood!”. FALSE, my friend, FALSE! The US version premieres in January, while the UK version started last week. God bless the internet for allowing me to watch it on that lovely UK schedule.

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Premiered September 22

HONORABLE MENTION

The Boondocks

It’s not a new show by any means, but thanks to the wonder that is On Demand, I recently got into Boondocks. I grew up loving the comic strip in the Sunday paper and this show is absolutely ON POINT. Season 4 starts in 2014 sometime, but until then I’m plowing thru Seasons 1-3. It’s pretty magical. Case in point (warning: LANGUAGE!)

Wait, WHO launched a new natural hair product???!!!!!

During my day spent cruising the natural hair product aisle with, I had a grand ol’ time recommending a bunch of my favorite products to attendees. I was pretty impressed that of the 15 or so brands in the aisle, I had pretty much tried them all EXCEPT for one product, that I had never seen or heard of before.

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At first I glazed over the product line, being like, okay so VIBE Magazine has a hair product line. Then it hit me: WAIT A SEC: VIBE MAGAZINE has a hair product line for naturals!

That’s like Vogue starting a line of haute couture gowns. Town & Country releasing a suite of adirondack chairs (or something equally home-y and preppy). Allure creating a line of lipsticks. Martha Stewart launching a line of home products…oh wait.

According to VibeVixen.com:

Our line doesn’t just have pretty packaging and a cute name, we really are different. All products contain coconut oil, argon oil, and olive oil and when combined, they create an amazing tri-complex blend of awesome-ness. “The oils are proportioned such that your hair receives the maximum benefit from each ingredient which offers a variety of benefits,” says VIBE Beauty Expert and VP & Global Creative Director Lindsay Ebbin.

(sic)

I will admit that I’m totally intrigued, but also a little bit skeptical as it seems like yet another attempt trying to cash in on the natural hair movement, but I will not make any final judgements until I actually try the products themselves.

What do you think? Have you tried Vibe Natural Curl Therapy? Let us know!!

Shop The Aisle Wrap Up

This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in Shop The Aisle. As a blogger, people are always asking what they should use and where they should get it, but it’s very difficult to make expert recommendations when you’re taking an assessment over the interwebs.

Enter: Shop The Aisle, which allowed me to actually talk to people, hear their stories and touch their hair in an effort to be able to send them home with the tools and knowledge they needed! It was really fun to be able to mix’n’match the products from sponsors including, Shea Moisture, UR Curly, Beautiful Textures, CurlMAX, Curl Care by Dr. Miracles, EDEN Bodyworks, Curls and Curls Unleashed. Attendees not only got to chat and shop with myself and Danyelle of SF Bay Area Naturals, but also went home with a goodie bags of products!

Thanks to all of you who came out and thank you to Charlette and DeAnthony of Shop The Aisle for making the trek across the country to support the Bay Area natural hair community! Here’s a few pictures from our day spent at the Walmarts of San Leandro and Oakland! If you want to be notified of future Bay Area events by NaturalSelectionBlog, enter your info into the sign up form on the right sidebar.

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!

Crafting for a CAUSE • Sunday September 15th

I’m very excited to announce my next event coming up on Sunday September 15th— a fundraiser for local Bay Area fashion designer Erica Varize who is launching a new venture called Sew What Project Uganda. Sew What Project Uganda is an international extension of the summer camp Erica has run locally for the past seven years in which she creates a sort of “fashion design” camp for young girls and teaches them not only how to sew, but some of the entrepreneurial aspects of the industry. This summer, Erica has built an exchange with a group of girls in Uganda and her local Sew What campers and in October she plans to travel to Uganda and host Sew What abroad.

When Erica asked me to host the fundraiser for her, I immediately said YES YES YES! First of all, Erica is an extremely accomplished designer and I am always wow’ed by her styles (and have worn many myself!)But more than that, a fun lesser-known fact about me is that I LOVE to sew and think it is one of the most empowering skills a person can have. To be able to provide this educational opportunity for girls to lift themselves up is a goal that rings near and dear to my heart.

Thus

a Bay-Ganda fundraiser for Sew What Project Uganda

was born.

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Here’s the scoop:

THERE SHALL BE CRAFTING: I absolutely adore all of EVarize’s fashion designs in which she incorporates beautiful African patterns. So I thought we could all make something together with some of these patterns and colors. Our craft du jour, will be a braided fabric necklace that you will be able to make and take home for yourself (or as a gift!)

THERE SHALL BE MUSIC: What’s a party without some jamz!? DJ Bella Soul will be spinning tunes and setting the mood. Lovez it!

THERE SHALL BE NATURAL HAIR GOODNESS: Our friends from Komaza Care will be joining us for the event and providing some natural hair samples for all attendees. I love them! So excited they’ll be in the house!

THERE SHALL BE SHOPPING: That’s right! We’ll have a little shopping area and if you’re interested in being a vendor, please let me know! cassidy [at] naturalselectionblog [dot] com.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. You can purchase them below OR visit the ticket page here. All proceeds will go to support Sew What Project Uganda. This is truly a community effort, so if you would like to be involved, please let me know and we can certainly figure something out! Can’t wait to see you soon!



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Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page.



On #interracialFRIENDSHIPS part 1: Stephen

First up in my friend-fueled series on Interracial Friendships is Stephen, our food and wine enthusiast with a passion for writing. Please give him a warm welcome! Oh also, I want to encourage lots of comments and participation in this series because that’s what we’re here for—discussion and dialogue!

“A Reply About White People

By Stephen

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I love white people. Really, I owe a great deal to them. They’ve taught me all sorts of things, like, being a professional alcoholic is okay, it’s just pronounced “sommelier”. I ran with that one. I also owe to them a huge amount of gratitude for making my earliest competitive endeavors in life successful ones, because, honestly, even in our elementary school Olympics, I was looking like the reincarnation of Jesse Owens compared to my classmates. I could go on with ironic, reverse racist banter, but Cassidy, who asked me to write this, only gives me 500 words (good luck), so I must stay on task.

The task was to respond to this article about the difficulty of maintaining interracial friendships into adulthood. The author, Brittney Cooper, explains how her relationship with her once best friend, gradually dissolved as the girls grew older. She cites a potential reason for the shift (perhaps the origins of this thesis), is that her white friend was told by her father that people should “date their own”. As the girls shifted from pre-to actually pubescent, an inability to relate to the same guy was a big deal. Then there was this notion of white friendships being “grandfathered in” before the end of highschool, and I actually found myself-at least partially-agreeing with that.

The “Grandfather” Clause

I think there are many of us who confuse the advancement of blacks in our country (obligatory Obama reference) with a dilution of racism. I’m not ready to go there. Now, it’s just a bit more advanced, and comes out in subtler ways, most often in the realm of class. While whites are increasingly comfortable with the idea of equity for blacks (and I do believe this to be generally true- particularly Millennials), most of us still do not develop super tight interracial relationships into our adulthood. This separatism has been fueled by each respective race as evidenced by Brittney’s tales of ridicule by her black classmates. I grew up in a similarly vexing environment, in which the identity surfing created a great deal of discomfort for a very middle-class black with a very upper class high school experience. Fortunately, sports to a large degree was enough to gain the acceptance of a few influential 7th grade boys and I never looked back.

Stephen with one of our future series featurees, Bubba "Jeff".

There’s nowhere near enough time to go into full detail of theories and implications of this article, but I will suggest that for me, the most resounding is that blacks who’ve befriended whites throughout high school are far more likely to retain/develop white friendships into their adulthood. Develop is an operative word, here, where I’ll extend the parameters of her BFF’s “grandfather clause.” I’ve observed this on many occasions. I think that goes both ways.

Looking Forward

There’s something to that formative time in high school. I’ve been the lone black face at weddings and will almost certainly be so again. I look at this as not quite an indictment on the bride and groom, rather a reminder of (literally) how very far apart we still are racially. Or, if you’re like me, you might’ve ended up in a place (Oregon) where there just aren’t that many “opportunities” for interracial friends. However, the longer one stays in those environments, the less likely they are to (re)discover interracial friendships. That’s a big reason I left. If we really want to properly observe interracial friendships, we should look to those who are half the age of Brittney or I, because that’s where we’ll get a better read on where whether this is an endangered or enduring phenomenon.

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