"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Nappy Hair Affair: How to Rock Your Nap!

"Once you are an originator,
you never go back to being an imitator."
- Yvette Smalls

Nearly 6 months ago, I began to blog my journey back to my natural hair (see: A Nappy Hair Affair, start in order - the last post is the first in this series). In my last installment: The Paris Edition, Judith asked: "Please explain more about the "straw method" you are using." Thus, this post is dedicated to Judith and all gloriously nappy headed women looking to get back to their Diva-roots ;-)

My "straw method" is simultaneously the last part of my once-a-week regimen and my 'everyday-or-so' regimen - but, it's the same process (quick, simple, and easy).

Keeping it Real

Dr. Miracle's No-Lye Relaxer Kit
- @ $7 at almost every beauty supply store

There's an ongoing discussion in the natural hair community. Is your hair 'natural' if you: don't chemically process it, but straighten it (i.e. with a hair dryer, hot comb, and/or flat iron)? If you don't use a hair dryer to straighten it, but use a hair dryer to enchance your curl? If you use weaves? If you add faux braids or 'dreds? If you add a faux pony tail or bun to your Sade?  If you color away the gray? If you texturize the frizz? As I've said, many times, Black hair is like a fingerprint - each head is unique, each head requires a singular regimen. For me, the answer to this question is the same as it would be for women who consider plastic surgery, or spanx, or makeup - you've got to find/do what works best for you.

For me, texturizing my hair, twice a year, works best. And, believe me, I held out, hoping to avoid it (trying to be as 'natural' as possible). But, after holding out for 8 months, I tried it and found that I really liked the result(s).

A texturizer is when you take a gentle relaxer, apply it to your frizzy roots (for me @ 5 minutes), then rinse it out - divide and clip your hair in 4 sections; apply the product with your GLOVED fingers to your frizzy roots (DO NOT use a brush); massage each section for a few seconds; rinse, wash, condition (everything you'll need will be in the kit). 

I've found that a twice-a-year texturizer gets rid of all my frizz, perfectly preserves my natural curl, yet allows me to maintain a healthy head of hair. I love Dr. Miracle's Relaxer Kit (regular) and the Organic Root Olive Oil Relaxer Kit (regular) is also very good. Apply every 4 to 6 months, as needed. 

Once a Week

What you'll need:

Shampoo & Conditioner - I like Finesse the best
@ $15 for both, drugstore and/or supermarket
Hair Dryer w/ a Diffuser Attachment
$20-40 at beauty supply stores (for the best selection)
Miss Jessie's Quick Curls - a fabulous non-greasy natural curl activator @ Amazon (2oz = $9; 8oz = $36 Start with the 2oz - much easier on the wallet
Olive Oil for shine and softness -
nothing fancy, from your local grocery/supermarket is fine.

Butterfly Clips hair clips - @ $3 for a package of 10,
from you local drugstore or beauty supply.
Wide Tooth Comb

1. Using a very wide toothed comb, comb through your freshly washed and conditioned hair and divide into four sections; clip.

2. Apply a nickel sized dollop of Miss Jessie's Quick Curl, then the Olive Oil to each section, a section at a time - make sure to work in both very well.

3. Diffuse each section - 'til it's mostly dry (yet still feels the teeny-tiniest damp at the ends). Of course you can also air dry, but you'd better have several hours! 

A Diffuser is a hair dryer attachment that gently and evenly disributes 'soft' warm heat, througout your entire head of hair. You can find them for a few dollars at your local beauty supply (I suggest that you buy your hair dryer there too, to ensure a perfect fit). Also, make sure that your hair dryer has low setting options. My Conair has a setting for low/warm heat, low blow and a cold shot button. Gentle warm diffused heat is a must for fragile natural curly hair. And natural hair dries really fast, even at such low settings. Besides, you'll only be diffusing once a week. 

4. Straw set your hair (for 20-30 mins)

Straw Set: Every few days, or so
You'll need:

a cup of water
Olive Oil
Butterfly Hair Clips

Regular drinking straws - @ $2 and a pair of sicissors

Bobby Pins - @ $2

The most valuable lesson my time in Paris taught me is how to quickly, simply and efficiently 'straw' my hair on a daily basis...

1. Loosely divide and clip your dry hair into four sections.

2. In one section, take a relatively large section of hair, dip your fingers into your glass of water and run it through the sectioned piece a few times (concentrate on your ends). Repeat, but with the Olive Oil

*Don't use too much water. You don't want the section to be wet, just slightly damp (this is the key to quick dry curly hair).

*Be generous with the amount of hair in your sections. I've got a lot of hair and I regularly use 15-20 straws. You'll be pleasantly suprised at how much curl you can get from one straw. Besides more straws = lots of tiny tight curls - not for me, maybe for you? You'll have to experiment (it's an adventure!)

3. Take a straw and, starting at one end of the straw, carefully and tightly roll. Starting with the very ends of the hair section - roll up diagonally. Slide a bobby pin into the top of the straw to hold it in place (be sure to fully catch both hair and straw). Snip off the excess straw.  If the section of hair is especially long, you may have to bobby pin at both ends.

4. Repeat over your entire head. Remember, your hair is different lengths and you'll snip the excess straw accordingly.

5. Leave them in for 20-30 minutes. Remove the straws and pull apart the large curl as desired.

*Since your hair is pretty dry at the onset, 20-30 minutes setting time is pretty much all you'll need. 20-30 minutes will create an even curl that lasts the entire day. And remember, you're not starting with straight hair; you're just encouraging your nap to do what it does naturally. Of course, depending on your individual nap, you may need more or less time - experiment.

6. While not necessary for everyone, I 'straw set' every other day or so to get a fresh, even, all around curl.

Once you get the hang of a straw set, it should take about 15 minutes to 'straw' + 15-20 minutes to 'set' - more than enough time for your first cup of coffee while you read the morning paper ;-)

Rocking my natural nap in Paris

My journey to natural hair has been challenging, frustrating, exciting and rewarding. And it has not been easy. It took me several months to find what works for me (products and process). Twice a year I tame the frizz; once a week I wash, condition and diffuse; every other day or so I 'straw,' and when I'm too lazy or don't have enough time to deal it's Sade all the way. It's as simple and easy as that - and I love it! Please share your Happy to Be Nappy stories with me.

Vire! Rire! Aimer!


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