The Key to Understanding Your Natural Hair

If you look at 1000 natural hair blogs, you will get 1,000,000 tips, tricks and regimens for growing your natural hair.  But there are 4 major things:

  1. Look to others with similar naked hair
  2. Know your personal optimal protein:moisture balance
  3. Protect your ends
  4. Get healthy on the inside

That is it, in a nutshell.  There are no miracle potions, secrets to be discovered, or magic vitamins.  I, personally, am not sold on the idea of growth aids.  I truly believe that some of it is simply augmented by the extra TLC that comes along with using these aids.  In my opinion, the most important of these is finding a mentor, hair twin, blogger or whatever whose naked hair looks just like yours.   I will use myself as an example…

My hair is coarse, wiry and dense.  It has sheen, but not shine.  It takes a lot of water to “wet it down” as the water tends to just run off my strands.  It has waves, kinks, curls and only a few true coils.  It grows out before it grows down.  There is really only one other person that I have come across that is a true “hair twin”, and many of my hair explorations have been personal trial and error.  However, this was a learned process.

My hair, when loaded with styler and leave-in conditioner products looks as if it could be silky and not as coarse.  But this simply ain’t so.  In the beginning, when I was trying to figure out my own hair in 2006-2007, I would do a lot of stalking of people whose hair looked like by styled hair.  But I get no benefit from buying products used by someone whose normally hair looks like my styled hair.  The same products that they might use simply do not work on my hair texture.

Over the years, I have gotten the most growth (outside of pregnancy!), when I did protective styles which took care of my ends, had the best balance of moisture and protein, and had the best diet and exercise regimen.  As I have gotten the latter of these back in gear, I do believe that getting back to WL is right around the corner.

So, what do you guys think?  Do you agree or disagree?  Is there something else that you absolutely believe is key to understanding your hair and aiding in natural hair growth?



The OFF Project

I will be 38 in September.  40 is ever so right-around-the-corner.

10 years ago (when I was approaching 30) I just knew I was leaving behind my good years…my years of fun, being carefree and independent.  I couldn’t imagine the joy that would come from this decade in my 30s.  And now, I am close to moving on to the next decade.  Even as recent as a year or two ago, this placed fear in my heart.  This was about the age that people started reporting health issues: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis and chronic pain, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression, weight gain, hormonal shifts…sigh.  The list is frightening.  I have been healthy to this point.  But for a moment, I started wondering, “Should I just prepare myself for the worst?”  Absolutely not.

Rather than fear the big 4-0, I have made a commitment to myself to become the healthiest I have ever been in life…mentally, physically and spiritually.  It’s a large reason why I made the shift to a ketogenic lifestyle.  I was 145 lbs with a BMI of 24.9, and half a chocolate roll away from being overweight according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  I had to do something.  The first thing I did was change my eating habits.  I have been in ketosis for 5 weeks, and I think I am close to being keto-adapted.  In 5 weeks, I have lost 14lbs and now have a BMI of 22.5, which is well within the normal range.  I just started working on my fitness level, and I shall outline that at another time.  Back to The OFF Project.

OFF stands for Operation Forty and Fit.

Like I said, I want to be in the best shape possible mentally, physically and spiritually when I hit 40.  What I have learned about true, long-standing change is that it does not happen overnight.  I am dedicating the next two years to improving my well-being in every way possible.  I want to be a better person, a better mother, a better wife.  I want to improve my social-consciousness.  I want to augment my spiritual relationship with God.

The acronym for Operation Forty and Fit (OFF) is apropos, as attaining these personal goals requires the removal of all negativity and obstacles that can block these achievements.  Over the next 2 years, I will share what I am doing to be the best me I have ever been.

Is there anyone else out there approaching 40 with some goals they would like to achieve?  What do you want to take OFF?  What do you want to remove from your life that will allow you to be a better (fill in the blank)?  Has 40 come and gone and you have some words of wisdom you would like to share?  Come take this journey with me…or at least leave a comment along the way!

Because Nutrition Should be Daring, not Dull

2 things might be leading me to fall in love with Stephanie Eusebi:

  1. She has quite a few gluten-free, paleo friendly recipes that might allow me to spice up my ketogenic lifestyle.
  2. She says AMAZEBALLS.  Only awesome people say amaze balls.

I have not gotten the chance to speak with her personally, but she is a certified nutritionist, with a published food journal.  The thing that stands out (for me at least) is that she is also willing to publish recipes for the general public.  You do not see that often.  This might be my new favorite nutrition blog.  Her recipes cover some pretty yummy sounding delectables, including Coffee Cheesecake and Homemade Gatorade (word?!?!).

This is the kind of thing that is made for me.  While I am fully dedicated (for maybe the first time in my life!) to eating keto, my creative juices have not begun to flow yet.  Variety has not been the name of the game for me and I need to introduce it pronto before I get bored, which will surely lead to temptation!  The other issue I currently have is getting in the amount of fat that I need.  It’s hard taking in a ton of (good!) fat without sipping on a cup of coconut oil.  And, while I love bacon, I’m not trying to eat 50 pieces on a daily basis.  But I am digressing…

I really just wanted to express my thanks to Stephanie for starting such an awesome blog for some little old common keto folks like me.  If you ever come up with some fat bomb recipes, I will gladly be a guinea pig!

Getting Back to Protective Styles

Soooo, I’m really contemplating getting some box braids.  Not because it’s the latest trend (especially since most of us long term naturals have been there & done that and are on round 2 of the “trends”), but because I really need to get back to protective styling.  My hair grew and retained the most length when I was dedicated to protecting my ends.  I was past waist length at the end of 2013, an over-the-hill trip to waist length, and I had a stylist beg me to even out my hair, even though I said, “Don’t even out my hair, I don’t care about that.”  Nevertheless, I punked out (to put it nicely) and now I’m hovering between MBL and WL.  Remember, always trust your gut and stick to your guns, especially when it comes to natural hair.

At the moment, I am rocking a 4-day-old twist out, and I’ve been sleeping with a bonnet at night so my ends don’t lose moisture.  But I need something else.  Something different.  Anybody have any suggestions before I go and haggle on pricing for some braids?  I am completely open-minded…sometimes :-/

Shrinkage will always be realCurly on my right.Curly on my left.Length



Eradicating the Dieting Mindset

I was a fad dieter in a former life.  You name it, I’ve probably tried it.  Cabbage Soup, Lemonade, Fruit Fasting, Fat Flush, Paleo…Most of the time, I did lose weight, but it always came back like a boomerang with a vengeance.  And I would always end up weighing more than when I started, with lower self-esteem than a self-proclaimed “confident-in-my-skin” person should have.

And then I found the ketogenic lifestyle.  This is a lifestyle for sure.  This is not some fad diet or quick weight loss scheme.  It requires dedication, willpower and strength.  And, if done right, your body will thank you for it.

Q: So, why the switch?

A: I was a major sugar addict.  Plain and simple.  If sugar was in the first three ingredients, then it was more than likely mine to devour.  At the end of my 3rd year in pharmacy school, I found myself 12 lbs heavier than when I started, with a bloated mid-section, and a very boxy shape…neither of which are super sexy.

The first thing I did was work out.  And I got stronger.  And it was awesome.  But I was still heavier than I wanted to be.  And I couldn’t understand why…then something clicked.  It’s funny I’ve been in school for YEARS, but often only apply that knowledge to others.  And then my internal voice started screaming at me what we all know, “You workout to build muscle, to get stronger.  You eat to lose weight.”  But I was through with dieting, since it never worked permanently for me.  So, the only thing I could do was work on changing me…and that’s how I got to ketosis.  I needed something that was going to lend itself to a different way of life, break the cycle of sugar addiction and reliance on processed foods for false satisfaction.

I am not going to expand via diatribe about what ketosis actually is…I will leave that to these links: Ketogenic Diet Resource and The Paleo Guide to Ketosis.  I personally believe these do a great job of providing objective information about ketosis.  But in a nutshell, the focus is high (good) fat, moderate (not high) protein and very low carb.

I used this Ketogenic Calculator to get a customizable breakdown of my daily, targeted macronutrients.  For me, I set my attributes to lightly active, with 25% body fat.  I also set my target carb intake to less than 25g/day (net or minus fiber).  For most people, eating less than 50g/day seems to be enough to enter ketosis.  The calculator let’s you know the minimum and maximum amount of daily protein based on your individual parameters, and you can select within that range.  The calculator then lets you know your target fat intake.  For me, I am around 70% Fat, 20% protein, 10% carb.

It has only been a couple of weeks (I’ll have to put another post about those first few days), but it seems to be working.  My stomach is flatter than it’s been in the last 4 years.  I do not crave sweets like I did in the past.  I have increased my water in-take.  And the foods I chose to ingest have little to no processing.  I started this part of my “natural” journey looking for [yet another] weight loss alternative.  My goals and priorities have no changed…I want to hit 40 and be in the best shape of my life!  2 more years to get there!  Wish me luck 🙂

Smoke and Mirrors from The Body Shop???

More on this later.  I’m taking the PCAT this Saturday and don’t have the time to fully do any sort of analysis any justice, but I at least wanted to highlight a comment on the subject, so that people can at least start to wonder/research on their own.  The Marxist in me is unhappy.


Posted by jenna on June 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm edit

Hmmmm, I am going to have to do some major research. This is disheartening. I’ll have to highlight this in a post so that others can see.

I understand the capitalistic world we live in is full of exploitation. But I’m not so understanding when it comes to companies using a cloak of “green practices” and assistance to the underserved as a simple marketing ploy.

Not cool. Folks, take note of the above link. I’ll be back with more thoughts (after I take the PCAT on the 19th and can dedicate something more than a flow of consciousness).

Thanks Jenna!

Product Focus: Wheatgrass Fixing Gel

I stumbled into The Body Shop yesterday because they were having a decent sale.  I went into to buy some coconut body butter, and happened across a hair product I had never seen before: Wheatgrass Fixing Gel.  Took a quick look at the front description – a simple ‘Medium Hold’ and ‘For All Hair Types’ was all I saw.  Turned it over to check what I already knew – no bad ingredients…after all, it is The Body Shop.  So, I bought it.

Good StuffGot home, washed my hair (I took out my braids two days ago), conditioned the ends a little, and went to work.  I sectioned my hair into three sections – the back and two sides.  Then, in each section, I worked in ‘rows’, adding leave-in conditioner first, then raking about a nickel to a quarter size of the gel through my hair.

This stuff has major potential.

I have beautiful, kinky waves that are the TRUE texture of my hair.  Let me clarify.  Whenever I use other styling products (EcoStyler or IC Fantasia Gels, Curly Pudding, even the beloved Kinky-Curly Curling Custard), I feel like my texture gets a “bump.”  Don’t get me wrong; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But I have come to quite adore my kinky wavy hair.  I do NOT belong to any one hair type.  I am against saying my hair is 3c, 4a, 9z because my hair does so many different things.  And its versatility and nonconformity is what makes it ‘me’, so, I’m kinda over trying products that beat it into submission.  My hair is big, bad and a whole lotta awesome…and Wheatgrass Fixing Gel brings that out.

I know.  A lot of you are gonna say “But Kink, you’re still using gel…if you purport to love your hair so much, why don’t you just go product free?”  Herein lies the dilemma of natural hair (for me, anyway).  If I could have soft, cottony hair all day, withOUT the pain detangling, knots, bubbles and looming dreads, I absolutely would.  But alas, that is not my reality.  The lack of silkiness in my hair – at least at this length – requires that I put some sort of something on my “out hair” if I expect to retain any of it.

Now, back to the product.  My looks exactly like it is…kinky and wavy, without a false sense of forced silkiness and without being weighed down.  I’ll need to use it a few more times before I can truly put it on my list of potential staples, but for now, my heart is a-flutter (pics will follow…I just had to get my thoughts out!).

Best part about the gel?

Thanks to Community Trade aloe vera, not only do you get unbelievably soft, shiny hair with long-lasting hold, you help provide vital income to aloe farmers in Guatemala, where half the population earns less than $1 a day. The Guastatoya Farmers can now afford to send their children to school, and The Body Shop® pays a social premium that buys urgently needed teaching materials for more than 200 schools in the El Progreso region. So whenever you style your hair, you are getting a lot more than a cool ’do. You are helping to invest in Guatemalan children and future generations, which is a look that never goes out of style.

How could you not try it???

The ingredient list (it’s a little long, but no red flags):

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Propylene Glycol, VP/VA Copolymer, Pentylene Glycol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, VP/Acrylates/Lauryl Methacrylate Copolymer, Dimethicone Copolyol, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Collinsonia Canadensis Extract, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Sodium Chloride, Lophophyrum Elongatum (Wheatgrass) Extract, Oryzopsis Miliacea (Ricegrass) Extract, Benzophenone-2, Disodium EDTA, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Laurtrimonium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Citronellol, Biotin, Sodium Hydroxide.