Sunday, 3 November 2013

Kinks R Us: Evlyn is Ab Fab!

Hi all! I am Evlyn, working in supply management, an artist and hair lover...especially loose natural hair! I consider my hair to be 'kinky', though when describing it I often refer to it as my 'fluffy halo'...despite the fact that the wearer herself may not be uber saintly. 

I have an EXTREMELY fussy, fluffy halo that rejects the majority of products most naturals swear by. For example, shea butter, protein, coconut oil, olive oil...ALL REJECTED. The list goes on. SIGH! Thus, other than castor oil and the Kimmaytube leave-in I have yet to find my holy-grail-go-to-no- matter-what-products.

Hair Type:

I consider my hair your typical, severely dry (especially the ends) 4C kinks with ultra fine / fragile strands. Overall, even though all my stands are fine, I have about 3 hair textures on my head...with the front 1/4 portion being much looser (4B??) with somewhat a curl pattern when well moisturized. It is more positively receptive to products as well. This area is also great at maintaining twist outs etc for longer but conversely the hair here is much more fragile and requires ABSOLUTE gentle handling. If I was a major heat user I would assume I had heat damage in this area.

Heading backwards, the right portion of my hair, approximately running from the middle of my head (the crown) to the nape is 4C but possibly with slightly thicker strands and requires slightly less gentle / baby care. I reached this conclusion based on the fact that this area is thicker compared to other areas of my hair and retains length much better than the rest of my strands. The beauty of shrinkage though is that this fact is easily disguised. Lol!

The left portion running from the middle of my head to the nape is very fine 4C for REAL! The crown portion of this area is especially so with length retention a major issue. Gentle handling is the order of the day.

Hair Journey:
I have been natural since February 2005. I long-term transitioned..then not knowing the term though. As summer approached and my roots got waaaay too thick I cut the relaxed ends at the back 1/3 of my head creating a styled cut (think Halle Berry circa Boomerang). This left me with my relaxed ends at the top which, due to lack of knowledge I regularly blow-dried and at times flat-ironed to blend the two textures. SIGH again! However, as summer changed to Autumn and then Winter, it became difficult to maintain the front in a 'neat' straight look as moisture in the air was just too high. I then spent one entire November weekend installing long box braids by myself...for the first time. It turned out good and became my signature style for almost a year...being reinstalled as necessary.

I actually stopped relaxing after finding a dime / 10kes size bald patch on the right of my head just above my ear. As confessed above...I love hair, so for me this was devastating! I wrongly concluded that it must have been due to a bad chemical burn in that area which I had not noticed from my last 'retouch', though my last retouch was in no way a bad experience. There and then in front of my bathroom mirror, in real fright of loosing more hair I vowed NEVER to relax my hair again. I was so afraid. I visited my GP who looked at my scalp in that area and confirmed that my follicles were healthy but asked if I had been under severe stress of late....OMG...DING! I burst into tears as yes I had...starting from the last quarter of the previous year. I wrongly internalised the stress without knowing how it would affect my health. So, relaxers were not to blame but since mentally I had decided against relaxing, I continued with my creamy crack rejection.

My intention was to eventually lightly texturise my hair once it had grown out. The Jamaican stylist who at that time did my 'Cholesterol' treatments and flat ironing advised me that texturizing would be the same as relaxing in the long run. I listened and kept well away. I won't lie though, there are many times I get fed up with the gentle handling my strands require and since I am an unashamed length chaser,  this amounts to immense time spent on 'hair business' (as LO and I call it). At those times the idea of texturizing runs through my mind....but my love of thick lush hair and my desire to show LO that being natural is beautiful and very much a viable option she could choose as a grown-up quickly gets me back on my 'natural' track.

Between braiding etc, I continued my blowdrying and / or flat ironing ignorance for a long while..honestly for the first 4 years of being natural. Ignorance is bliss...NOT! I naturally (no pun intended) lean towards a more natural way of being so for example I ditched Vaseline and such years ago before becoming natural and now as a natural I started using castor oil on my hair, though I applied it as I continued frying my strands. My hair suffered of course. My initial length gains and thickness disappeared. As a solution, I increased my braiding periods...especially the year leading up to my wedding but when my hair was regularly met with heat. Big Sigh! Note at this time I did not know anyone who was natural..or at least a natural that inspired me so I was wading alone in the dark.

Circa 2009, after having LO, I was a SAHM for a while and also at that time hubby gifted me with a blackberry. This meant, I had the internet every and anywhere at the touch of a phone button. I then happened upon natural hair sites, blogs etc...OMG...I was in hair heaven. Learning and experimenting etc... There were many but specifically, I recall the blog Black Girl with Long Hair. Talk about inspiration, a real eye-opener. I tried new tips such as baking soda to wash my hair etc...let's just say I did this once AND never will again. LOL. It was too hair broke so I had to re-condition my hair to get the ph levels right again! I kept reading and experimenting and discovering new sites etc. I would say my discovery of Natural Haven by oh-so-factual-and- knowledgeable JC and Kimmaytube really was when I saw mega improvements. The greatest knowledge I received from them were science based techniques on how to handle my fluffy halo. Techniques such as washing my hair in loose braids, using a leaving a leave-in, reducing or cutting out heat, using a silk bonnet etc to sleep in etc. My hair grew thicker...somewhat longer but as discussed above, because my strands are super fine and require very gentle handling, length retention is a major challenge. Having said that, I love where I am's long enough to style in numerous ways.

Hair Regimen:

My current routine is pretty much as follows when I have time, I pre-poo for a minimum of 1 hour with olive oil mostly or on occasion, coconut oil as they are penetrate into the strands strengthening them. Because I am shampooing these oils out of my hair afterwards, I ignore the fact that they make my hair feel stringy.  As I apply the pre-poo I finger detangle. This process is usually done as I takedown a PS. I then braid my hair into 6 single loose braids, wash with a sulphate free shampoo, condition (mostly) with a silicon-free conditioner, sometimes with heat but usually under a plastic shopping bag and towel for a minimum of 30mins though sometimes I complete several chores, such as cooking Sunday lunch, doing homework with LO, processing orders for my side hustle Embody Accessories etc before washing it out.

Thus, DC could be for several hours but as JC says and a fact I LOVE, 30 minutes is enough to gain full DC benefits. Sometimes I mix up some home-made DC using oils, honey etc. Before I wash the conditioner out, I do use a wide tooth comb to lightly detangle further...sometimes I gently use my Denam brush but with my fine strands I limit its usage...sadly. The oils are from most local supermarkets such as Nakumatt, Chandarana and Tuskeys. The only sulphate free shampoos I find and have tried are from Healthy-U. I sometimes buy conditioner there too.

I then blot dry the major water drips with a towel before wrapping my hair in an old t-shirt to let it dry for a few minutes as I clean up the bathroom. Over the last few months I have found that instead of adding my leave-in to sopping wet hair it's best for my hair to be more damp than wet. This results in softer hair once it drys...for longer. Go figure! I used to work on very wet hair believing I was retaining more moisture for my severely dry fluffy halo. You see, still learning some 8 years down the road. I will experiment but I mostly use the Kimmaytube leave-in that I mainly mix with a cheap silicon free conditioner such as Sauve Coconut or Tressemme Naturals. These, when in stock locally in Kenya are at major supermarkets...though not Tuskeys. When I have someone traveling between Kenya and the USA I send them shopping at Wholefoods for Kinky Kurly Knot Today which I use to make the leave-in as per the original recipe, instead of these other conditioners. It imparts a thicker consistency and silkier feel. I then seal my hair mostly with Ideal castor oil. Again, widely available locally from all major supermarkets listed above. I look forward to trying some 'guaranteed' cold pressed castor oil which Irene Chola of our natural community is about to unleash onto the market. YEAH!  I tried finding out about Ideal castor oil's manufacturing process but the company went tight lipped. Though I still use it, I am uneasy about it as a result. The only 'intel' I could garner was that they import the oil into Kenya from India and package it for sale.


Anyhoo I digress...I usually have my hair in a PS and as of mid 2012 I have been drastically reducing the use of extensions in my hair (especially the readily available synthetic ones). As the hair grows in a PS, it gets more tangled into these very strong synthetic strands making takedown a greater challenge adding to the time to complete this process and risking greater edge and mid-strand breakage. I occasionally rock mini twists but the take down after 6 weeks is a real task taking several days in order to limit breakage. I currently wear my own hair in medium sized cornrows for 2 / mostly 3 weeks before take down. These are styled into a bun. For added glam and volume when needed, I attach a 'fake bun' over my moisturized, sealed and tucked-in ends. I also add an accessory. When in a PS I rinse my hair to remove dust and increase moisture once or twice a week...often times with a silicone-free conditioner whilst in the shower. I then seal with castor oil.

Other times, another PS I wear is a loose wet bun...previously with eco-styler gel but over the last 2 weeks I have experimented with homemade flaxseed gel and I must say I am a convert! I love that it's all natural and chemical free. I never thought my real 4C fluffy halo could be held down by flaxseed gel. It also makes what little texture I have pop. Again you see, I am still learning. I most often wear my hair out for at least a week before installing a fresh PS.

Honestly speaking though, I LOVE wearing my hair out BUT because of my super fine / fragile strands coupled with the major length-chasing-cross I carry, I must do PSs regularly to increase length retention and deal with my HIF syndrome. Plus it saves me time. When loose, after my initial style retires.... or fails, I revert to my quick, neat and fast go-to puff. It's easy. Moisturise, puff up and out the door. If anything, that's what I miss about relaxed me as get-up and go hair was so much more a reality then. Note, wet-bunning is increasingly becoming a go-to-style.

I highly doubt I will ever revert to relaxing. I love thick hair and I now know with my fine strands, relaxed me could grow my hair to a good length with proper care BUT I will certainly not have that fullness. I now do not even crave flat-ironing. Blowdrying (which as a norm I do once a year around Christmas time) gives me the stretch I want without loss of volume, so that's enough heat for fluffy halo.

I also truly cherish living as chemical or processed free as possible in all aspects of my life. However, the MAJOR reason now that I strongly doubt that I would ever return to relaxing is my LO who incidentally has gorgeous strands which for now she loves. I want her to see me living what I preach and not just hear me talk about how our God given fluffy halo is to be cherished just like those with God given curls, waves or straight strands on their own heads.

Having said that, as mentioned above, I love's healthy care and STYLING, so for me locs are a major No-No. Locs to me are like wearing a permanent PS such as permanent braids etc. LOL. Having said that, when I see beautiful, flourishing and healthy locs I am impressed...such as Josie of our natural hair community. Recently I have seen two random women when out and about with absolutely beautiful sister-locs. What I like about these are that they are fine enough to easily manipulate into a multitude of styles just like loose hair. Compared to loose hair, the maintenance / care would be a bit easier reducing time spent on this 'hair business'. Additionally as I have bared my soul here...I am a length fanatic so the length retention in sister-locs would be AMAZING for my super fine strands. In summation, though in the past I swore I would NEVER loc my strands, I can not guarantee that in the future I will not go the sister-loc route.

However, for now, I am still very happy on this loose natural hair journey and enjoying reaping the benefits of the care and time I have put into it. I look forward to seeing how far I can take my fluffy halo.

Thanks Nina for allowing me to wax lyrical about my natural hair. It's great seeing someone who used to 'politely' side eye me when I talked about washing my hair in loose braids, not combing my hair etc now an active natural champion and educator. Here's to team natural.

What we are born with can not be wrong. Surely?!

1 comment:

  1. This woman is amazing!! With great hair and a body to die for....:-).