Soooo SoCal: Pictures From My Trip to LA

Ok, so there’s this unspoken rivalry between NorCal and SoCal…what the hell am I talking about— it’s totally spoken about and everyone knows about it. San Francisco and LA are always in the midst of duking it out over the title of the best city in Cali. Being from San Francisco where I wear pashminas year round and ride my bike everywhere around the hilly city breathing in fresh air, it’s always hard to coax me out of my NorCal roost to go sit in the land of traffic and smog. But for a weekend of natural hair fun, I was totally game. I was toting my camera around with me all weekend and wanted to share with you some highlights from the trip which included meeting some really exciting names in natural hair, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones! Here you go!

I’m kinda obsessed with my new Afrobella MAC Lip Gloss “All Of My Purple Life”…broke it out on this trip! Might buy another tube!

Met Wendi from Mixed Chicks (and her delightful husband and adorable daughter)

Curls and a view: driving with Michelle on Mullholland Drive

A building by one of my favorite architects: Frank Gehry in Downtown Los Angeles snapped on an afternoon stroll in the sun

Enjoyed a delish lunch at Bottega Louie with Shelley of Kinky Curly and Michelle of NC.com. Where we proceeded to eat for the next three days. I spent a lot of time getting to know the dessert menu including:

Peach Melba….

…a smorgasbord of macaroons! Earl Grey! Pistachio! Salted Caramel! Oh My!

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On the road again: Premiere Orlando

That’s right: I’m again packing it up and hitting the road for more hair-ventures!  This time I’ll be walking off the jetway in Orlando, Florida for Premiere Orlando- the largest professional beauty event in the country!  Rumor on the street is that all my preconceived notions of hair events should be tossed to the wind because this one will blow it out of the water!  After my ATL-based excursions to Bronner Bros, Fro Fashion Week, and the World Natural Hair Show, I’m excited to see what Premiere Orlando has to offer!

On Saturay Night, I’ll be attending the Curly Nikki mixer at Blue Martini.  Just like her event in Atlanta this past February, I’m sure it will be a great time!

Nikki and I in ATL in February

Non-sequitor musings on Orlando

  • Ummmm HELLO!!!! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!?????  I’ll be so close and I’m not going.  I’m kinda sad [read: absolutely devestated] about it.  Thank god for my little sisters who may just have to accompany me to HP World at Disney in a couple years or so.  Oh you didn’t know I was an HP fan?  Big time.  Big. Time.  But part of me thinks that Premiere Orlando is going to provide more than enough wizardry of sorts for a weekend.
  • ok you see that weather?  Thats nothing but a nice FORTY DEGREE DIFFERENCE from San Francisco.  I’m currently vacillating between excitement for summertime and the chance to wear dresses without leggings, boots, and shrouding myself in a scarf, but also terrified that I am going to melt.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s So Fine post, I’m excited to try using humectants and see if my hair can handle them in that climate.

    omg so hot.

  • Pretty dress! In honor of this quick dip into summer time, I got a special new custom made dress!  Yay!  I love dresses and found a great local dress designer to work with me on it!  Vintage in style, with a low back and made of “Tiffany Teal”, I’m particularly excited about this one!

I’ll be taking off tomorrow so if you are ANYWHERE NEAR ORLANDO be sure to stop by the Nikki event on Saturday and/or come to the show!  I’ll be covering the meet up and Premiere  over on NaturallyCurly.com so be sure to stay tuned over there for all of my fresh photos and stories from the show floor.   

So Fine: Floridian Field Research on Oils and Butter

There’s a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about the necessity of “sealing” hair by using silicones or oils which are natural water repellents. Sealers (aka “anti-humectants”) are like a ziploc bag for your hair: the moisture in your cuticles can’t get out and excess moisture in the air can’t get in.

This is your hair.

This is your hair with a sealer.

I know for a fact that many people out there use oils and butters religiously because to seal in moisture as well as combat over-hydration caused by high dew points and humid temperatures. The truth is that I never use a sealant. Ever. I find that many oils and butters are way too heavy for my fine, low porosity hair. Shea butter sits and leave hair boogers. Oils leave me greasy stranded and crunchy. I tried for a while to force the sealers, but after a couple of ruined pillows I decided to let them be.

Me: 0 Shea Butter: 1

Then it dawned on me, that perhaps I don’t need the anti-humectants not because they don’t work for my hair, but because they don’t work for my climate. For better or worse, San Francisco is temperate; there is no heat here, just a foggy, costal mediterranean climate that’s never too warm or cold all year round. It might sound nice (and it is), but when July is one of the coldest, grayest months of the year, it can really grind your gears.

 

When considering hair products and regimen, it is crucial to consider the climate in which you live to determine products with the best possible fit for your unique hair needs.  According to an article by the Curl Chemist on NaturallyCurly:

Curly hair seems to really thrive in moderate climactic conditions, and dew point ranges of approximately 35°F to 50°F seem to be optimal….When the dew point for your area is at 60°F or above, it might be a good idea to apply some product with anti-humectant properties.

Sounds about right. The average dew point in SF is about 48, which is right in the range of not needing an anti humectant. This weekend I’ll be traveling across the country to Florida to check out the Curly Nikki meet up and covering the Premiere Orlando show for NaturallyCurly.com! I’m very excited for the trip in general, but also to give anti humectants another chance and do some real-time So Fine field research in while I’m on the ground where it currently reads as having dew points in the upper 70′s! Stay tuned for the results to see if its me or the weather!

SO FINE: Protein. How a good thing can be too much.

For some of us with fine hair, protein-packed deep conditioners can work MIRACLES.  If you’re like me, protein conditioners clump our coils together, strengthen our strands, and give weight to our otherwise lightweight strands.  However, for others, protein  can wreak havoc their heads by making their strands brittle, stiff, and rough.    If you have experienced either end of this spectrum you’re probably wondering one question: WHAT’S UP WITH PROTEIN?  And why does it have such an awesome/horrific effect on my hair?

Protein’s affect on your hair has everything to do with the porosity of your hair.  To explain this more in full, we’re going to bring back our old friend Mr. Sponge.  In today’s little lesson, we’re going to have the part of protein played by Elmer.  Yes, as in the glue.

This sponge represents hair with low porosity.

This sponge represents hair with high porosity.

In each of these sponges, the holes represent the hair’s cuticle.  (Think of a cuticle like shingles on a roof).

When protein is applied to the lo-po sponge, the holes in the surface of the sponge pull in small amounts of protein relative to the size of the entire sponge.

When you apply protein to this hi-po sponge, the protein seeps into the larger holes on the surface of the sponge.  Because the holes are larger, the sponge has more surface to absorb the protein.  In fact it absorbs TOO much, leaving it stuffed with protein like a Thanksgiving turkey.

As you can see there is a lot more protein intake in the hi-po sponge than the lo-po sponge.
Now applying this logic to actual hair, low porosity fine hair does well with protein because there are not as many cuticle openings.  High porosity hair gets crispy because it takes too much protein in because it has more cuticle openings.

Of course there are exceptions because like glue, proteins come in many different forms and sizes.  Some proteins, such as hydrolysed proteins, can actually benefit high porosity hair by working to fill in the cuticle layer.  So if you have high-po hair, be sure to take a look at the product label and see if this type of protein is on there before judging it too soon.

Lo-po naturals should try using a heat cap, hooded dryer, or steamer with their deep treatments so that you can raise the cuticle layer get maximum protein benefits.

By using the right technique with and type of protein, you can be sure to find the right type of strengthening conditioner for your So Fine strands!  In the next installment of the series, I’ll be going over deep conditioner how to’s and product recommendations.

SO FINE: These are a few of my fa-vor-ite moisturizers (GIVEAWAY!)

One of the main challenges with finding the perfect moisturizer when you have fine hair is finding one that both gives you the moisture you need, but doesn’t weigh your hair down and make it product-y.  It can be tough to be So Fine in a world filled with so many buttery, creamy concoctions that are just too heavy for our delicate strands.  I have found that the key is to find products that both pack a lot of slam in the moisture department but are light enough to not leave your head feeling like Slimer did the Dougie on top of it.  (Yikes!)

I find that my preferred moisturizers that fall into this category have one thing in common: good ol’ H2O sits at top of their ingredient lists.  Another thing that they have in common is that you can physically SEE how lightweight they are.  For example, look at the shea butter on the left of this picture, and the two lightweight moisturizers on the right.

See how the shea butter is totally opaque and putty-like, while the two moisturizers are more translucent?  That’s what we’re aiming for here.

Now in no particular order, there are three of my fa-vor-rite conditioners for So Fine hair

1. Bee Mine’s Deja’s Hair Milk–  This is like the Swiss Army knife of my moisturizer arsenal: I can use it in so many ways! Sometimes I like to use it as a leave in on damp hair beneath a styler, other times I like to use it as a quick daily moisturizing fix on dry hair, and others I just put it in alone, shake my head, and walk out the door!  Simple, versatile, moisturizing.

2. Qhemet Biologics Burdock Root Butter Cream–  This is the creamiest of the bunch, but to this day I am still amazed at how lightweight it is!  From the second you touch this stuff, you can feel that its consistency is light, almost whipped, and airy.  It’s got a light, refreshing scent and has great slip.  Qhemet also has a little jar of joy for those who have more porous hair and who can handle a bit of a heavier product, called Amla and Olive Heavy Cream. A little goes a hecka long way.

3. Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia-– Nectar of the gods INDEED: the stuff inside this black bottle makes my hair feel like cashmere.  I love to use it as a leave in; it just glides onto my hair after towel drying and plays very nicely with a wide variety of stylers and styles.

Now lucky ducky for one lucky reader, I’ve got some fantastic news: YOU CAN WIN ALL THREE OF THESE AND TRY THEM ON YOUR SO FINE SELF!!  Here’s what you have to do to enter to win:

1. Make sure you’re a subscriber to Natural Selection.  (see that little box beneath the logo that says subscribe?  Use it!)

AND

2. Write a HAIKU in the comments about your hair.  What exactly is a haiku?  Its a poem that’s easy (and fun) to write.  Three lines.  The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, the third line has 5 syllables. Bam.  The catch: your haiku must include the words “SO FINE”.

Here’s my example:

Guuuuuuuuurl, look at your hair:

You SO FINE and you know it!

Moisturize me well.

See!  Easy as that!  I cannot cannot cannot WAIT to see what y’all come up with!  Winner will be chosen a week from today, so stay tuned!

No Love for the Bloggers at Bronner Brothers

Last Sunday after Fro Fashion Week, I had some time to kill before my flight and so I decided to head on over to the Bronner Bros show, which was also going on.  I finally got to check out something that I have been wanting to since seeing Good Hair: a styling competition!!!  The one I stumbled upon was the Grab Bag Competition featuring 30 stylists and models on stage, styling for 30 minutes.  It was very cool and very entertaining.  Here’s a vid:

I also sat through a little bit of Taliah Waajid’s “No Two Curls Are Alike” workshop in which she discussed her product line and natural styles with attendees.

I had also wanted to go on the expo floor and cover the latest and greatest in natural vendors, but unfortunately Bronner Bros has changed their policy on media passes and bloggers no longer qualify to receive them.  Last August I received a media pass to Bronner Bros show and used my pass to gain access to workshops and the expo floor. I ended up not writing just one but FOUR posts on the event.  (Including making a sweet video featuring a house remix of Nina Simone’s Sinnerman).  I found that the media pass was a great way to connect with other naturalpreneurs in the Great Sew-In Sea and I loved being able to promote these brands to their niche demographic.

This year, when Michelle Breyer of NaturallyCurly and Curly Nikki tried to get their media passes to the show to cover the event, they were at first rudely denied access because they do not fall within Bronner Bros definition of “professional journalists”.

Frankly, I’m not sure what’s unprofessional about having over 2 million viewers a month.

Nikki and Derrick at the Bronner Bros Show

Eventually they DID get into the show after a lot of hemming and hawing and covered the show on their respective sites.  However, when I swung through the show with Michelle on Sunday and I was not so lucky and did not get a media pass.

Am I salty that I didn’t get into the show this time around?  A little bit, yes.  Mainly because of the way in which the situation was handled by the Bronner Bros representatives.  I didn’t end up buying the $40 pass because the registration lines were so long that I would have waited in line longer than I would have been in the show.

A quick Google search shows  that the Bronner Bros show received four mentions under the news tab in the past week and under the blogs tab…wait for it…86!  86 mentions of the show in the past week alone on blogs! (Make that 87 now I guess…)

Bronner Brothers has every right to grant passes to whomever they please and I’m not saying that all bloggers deserve a pass.  However, it seems to me that their media strategy needs to get with the times and recognize the power of the web to help their vendors get faster, more targeted exposure beyond the walls of the Georgia World Congress Center and traditional media to the greater internet-based audience.

All of that said, I didn’t have the worst time hanging out around the Bronner Bros Show.  In addition to checking out all of the phenomenal and gravity-defying styles roaming the compound, I also spent a good chunk of time marveling at the thousands of cheerleaders swarming the other half of the convention center for the Cheersport National Championships.  And like Bronner Bros attendees, they are also obsessed with their hair…just in a very different way.

SO FINE: Porosity and why it matters

“Great, I’ve got fine hair too!!  So………Whatproductsdoyouusewhatshouldiusehowshouldistylewhereshouldibuy

howmuchshouldiusecanyoupleasetellmeeverythingineedtoknownowwww???”

This has been an extremely popular question I’ve been getting in comments and emails since jumping into the So Fine Series.  To which, I can only respond with one thing:
HOLD YOUR HORSES, YOU FINE THANGS YOU!  We’ve gotta talk about porosity first.
To all of you whose eyes just glazed over because you get confused about all of this science-y hair stuff, keep reading  (and stop pulling at your coils!!  Remember: fine hair is fragile!!!). I promise I’m going to make this easy.
What is porosity?  Porosity in hair-speak is a way of saying ” a strand’s ability to soak up and let go of moisture.”
While I would love to keep that pantyhose analogy alive, I can’t and we’re going to talk about porosity in terms of SPONGES.
This is a normal sponge.  It absorbs and lets go of water at a normal rate.

This is a sponge in a plastic bag.  If you submerge the bag beneath water, the water will eventually get inside the bag, but it will take longer and more effort to fully soak the sponge.  It is also more difficult to get the water out.
This is a sponge that I took a pair of scissors to.  The larger holes in this one mean that water seeps into and squishes out more easily than the above sponges with normal and low porosity.
Now take these same concepts and apply them to your hair.

  • Normal sponge = normal porosity. Moisture goes in and out of hair with relative ease at a neither breakneck nor snails pace.
  • Sponge in plastic bag = Hair with low porosity. It takes a lot more work to moisturize this kind of hair  because its harder for moisture to get in.  But once you get that moisture in, it is harder for it to get out.
  • Holey Sponge = Hair with High porosity. This kind of hair absorbs – and loses – moisture much more easily.  Normal porosity falls somewhere in the middle of these two.

Think of it this way: High porosity = easy in/easy out.  Low porosity = difficult to get in/difficult to get out.

How do you figure out what level of porosity you have?

I’ve heard of three methods for figuring out your porosity.

1.
The Slip’n'Slide Test: Take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up the shaft (toward the scalp).  If you feel little bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and that you have high porosity.  If it slips smoothly down, then you’re on the lower end of the scale.

2.  The Sink-or-Float Test: Take a strand of hair and place it in a glass of water.  If it sinks quickly, its high porosity.  If it takes some time to sink, then its normal porosity.  If it just stays floating near the top, then its low porosity.

3Take Out/Order In: As in take out 20 strands of your hair and order a hair analysis test from Live Curly Live Free.  They’ll do a complete analysis of your hair and tell you your porosity (and lots of other fun things) about your hair!

There is no “better” or “worse” porosity because each type has its own unique challenges to work with.  The reason knowing porosity is important is because you need to know which type of moisturizer will work best for your hair.  Fine hair with high porosity has different moisture needs than fine hair with low porosity.  If you end up using the wrong moisturizers for your porosity level, your hair will wind up looking (and feeling) like this type of sponge.  And you don’t want that.

Chillin with Curly Nikki

Last night’s Curly Nikki meet up was the absolute JAM.  I. had. so. much. fun.  Hundreds of readers and natural fans snacked on cupcakes and sipped cocktails while exchanging styling tips and tricks at the stunningly beautiful Livingston Hotel.  I had a phenomenal time meeting new naturals and running into some readers of my own!  And let’s be real, it was a real treat to finally be able to meet Nikki [and oh so adorable little Gia] in person!

Here are a few pictures:

Heather, Cassidy, Nikki, Mae and Little Gia

Local naturals posing for the cam!

Curly Mama and Baby: Dominique and Naomi

Chatting with two ladies who really know the business of curls: Michelle, founder of Naturally Curly and Jess McGinty, founder of of Jessicurl

I know you're not supposed to play on stairs, but Amanda and I couldn't help ourselves!!

A little blogger love: Natural Selection and Natural Chica

Hanging with hostess with the mostess: Nikki and Cass

SO FINE: The fine hair rule of thumb

When I first went natural I went around the Internet soaking up every bit of natural advice that I could get my hands on.  In particular there was one forum discussion about length retention in which a woman was discussing her two cousins who were sisters: one with coarse and the other with fine hair.  The coarse-haired sister had no problem growing her hair while using a regimen of frequent protective styling, while the fine-haired sister had to treat her hair like a delicate piece of antique lace in order to grow and retain her length.

I’m not saying that coarse-haired naturals manhandle their hair like it’s a lasso in a rodeo, but I have found that by being as gentle as possible, by treating my coils like lace, has been key in my natural journey.

January 2010

December 2010

Coarser hair can definitely withstand more manipulation with less risk of breakage than fine hair, simply because the strand is more substantial.  It’s like the difference between wearing sheer panty hose and, say and opaque footed tights.  The sheer panty hose you can put a run in with a simple snag of a hangnail while the tights you can handle a bit more because they are built more durably. (Yes, the tights will run too, but it will take more work)

Here are three things you can make sure you’re doing daily to make sure you’re taking care of your lace/sheer panty hose-like fine hair.

  • Always wear protection: Protect your delicate strands while you sleep from tugging on a cotton pillow case with a satin cap or a satin pillow case.  Make sure you do this every night.  Not just the nights that you remember, but every night.  I promise this will be worth your while in the long run!
  • Keep your hands out of your head: That mindless pulling and twirling of your hair that you’re doing while you read hair blogs or working at your computer can really do a number to fragile strands.  Leave them be or risk lots of snaps, crackles, and pops.
  • Hydrate x 2: First off, hydrate your body from the inside out.  Secondly, hydrate your strands with a good water and/or aloe based moisturizer.  Dry hair is especially more brittle and thus susceptible to breakage.  Imagine what sort of havoc dryness could risk on fine strands!!

Now that we have the lace rule of thumb underneath our belts, next up in the series we’ve got POROSITY and FINE HAIR.

New York: The Natural’s Natural Habitat

This was not my first trip to NYC, but it certainly was my first as a natural!  Stepping off the plane I found myself immersed in a sea of natural.  Naturals here, naturals there, naturals naturals everywhere!!  I mean even the Statue of Liberty is rocking HER natural these days.  Ok, so perhaps I’m exaggerating just a little, but kind of not really in anyway shape or form; there are beaucoup naturals in New York!  I know that from the forums and blogs that New York has a healthy and vibrant natural scene and I was thrilled to be on the ground confirm my suspicions.

I did not just remain an on the ground natural stalker, but I was delighted to enjoy some one-on-one time with local naturals such as Chai of Back to Curly, Sheena of Sheena LaShay (who inspired one of my to-be-announced resolutions), and Kasalina the lovely photog behind Curly Nikki’s Naturals in the City series.

Chai, Cass, and Sheena

Kas and Cass

And what would a trip to New York City be without a little retail therapy.  While my suitcase has no room for clothing, TSA has [aggressively] lightened my hair supplies load to make room for more hair goodies.  So off to Brooklyn I went (rather, in Brooklyn I stayed because thats where I was staying) to visit the headquarters of Karen’s Body Beautiful.  Great products and a great space for one of my favorite product lines for naturals out there.  It was my first time checking the redesigned and sleek black packaging and I loved the pink-on-black color scheme as that too is my default color palette so I kind of found myself matching the interior of  the store by accident.  The sales associates were also super nice and super helpful: posing for pictures, answering my questions about how their hair survived the cold, and telling me about their favorite products in the store.  I also got to peek the spa space, complete with mani/pedi, massage, and hydrotherapy facilities.  Totally cool.

Cute KBB packaging

KBB interior

KBB Store Manager

All KBB products are made right in the store front. Very cool to watch.

Checking out the scents of one of my favorite products (Sweet Ambrosia, formerly Hair Milk)

Another great thing I noticed while walking around Brooklyn one day was the number of natural salons present.  After my mediocre experience getting a trim in San Francisco, I decided to walk in and check out the vibe of these places.  All of the stylists and receptionists were welcoming, warm, and most importantly did not many any negative comments about my hair because they were all natural too!  All of the natural salons offered a variety of different styling expertises too- from locs to bantu knots (which I almost sat for myself, but didn’t want to drop the $110 and 5 hours to have them done…)

With all of the amenities available for naturals, its no wonder that the natural community is truly thriving in New York and I was glad to be a part of it (even if only for a few days…)

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