See the ‘Spring’ In My Curls!

Yay! It’s the first days of spring…although you could’ve thought otherwise with the layer of snow on my porch *side-eyeing Canada* but it’s really just a matter of weeks for paisley dresses with leather moto jackets…and moisturized Afro hair! Spring is the time our hair shines! The weather is perfect–full of moisture and just enough warmth and sun to bless us all–not like summer when it scorches us, or winter when it sucks the life out of our tresses.

My hair has been a mess in the last few weeks because of the warm-cold weather mix up. I used Aloe Vera gel but then it was -17 again, so I quickly brought out the jojoba oil and my hair just shriveled up into a stubborn ball looking like a possum on my head. Now, it’s behaving as it acclimates to the temperatures and I douse it in water, a touch of leave-in Cantu and some rosemary-jojoba-EVOO. Before I leave my house, I run homemade flax seed gel through my hair because if I don’t my hair turns into a shapeless ball of frizz. It has no weight and it’s dry AF. But the flaxseed attracts moisture and gives it weight, giving my curls life and bounce naturally.

So why humectants? And I encourage brothers to run some of this instead of Dax through their hair because dry desert hair from winter isn’t a thing you need to deal with in spring 2017!

Humectants minimize water loss in your hair and help alleviate natural hair problems like frizziness and split ends associated with humid weather. Some natural humectants you can use are honey or agave nectar in a hair mask, hydrolized silk protein in a hair spray, panthenol in your condish, or glycerin.

I personally love using 100% aloe vera gel in my hair (you can scrape and strain the aloe plant or buy an aloe gel that’s 99% aloe). Glyercin and water in a spray bottle is also a go-to, although I use glycerin sparingly and of course, flaxseed gel is the best thing in the world for naturals.

Flaxseed gel is anti-inflammatory, affordable and contains vitamin E, it’s nourishing with omega-3s and helps promote hair growth plus it’s all natural. Plus it can help reduce dandruff and dry scalp while your hair is transitioning from winter to spring!

Afro Hair Is Art

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Black people are art, and our beautiful melanin skin is the ultimate canvas. We are always being plagiarized,  muted, and whitened but each one of us are a masterpiece and together, we make an original collection.

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As our Black collective image evolves, there is so much fluidity and room for expression. We are the most unique beings on the earth. We are magic. There is nothing that we can do with our hair that can be considered wrong. There is no shade of skin that is too black, too ochre, too mahogany. Whatever the skin type, whatever the hair curl pattern or coil, whatever the thickness of the hips or the lips; we are walking art. The person who was holding the paintbrush was trying to paint over us, now we are holding the paintbrush. I see our true colours shining through.  You do you, be you. Be weird. Be emotional. Be angry. Be happy. Be Black, and know, there is no wrong way to be Black. There is nothing that can define you, but you. Create your own identity and look in the mirror at the canvas of your divinity, or the powers you possess. Our hair is art. Our skin is art. Everything else is just a backdrop to our phenomenal being.

Bantu Knots

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So, I’m in love with bantu knot hairstyles. It epitomizes African creativity and aesthetics, and is a unique style all of our own. But damn–it’s not easy to slay. I am not a tactile person. I can barely put the couch pillows together the right way on the first (and second) try, much less attempt this elaborate hairstyle! But I’m not giving up until I have thick, sturdy Bantu knots that look proper, and not like melting candle wax. :/

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I want to thank social media for all the beautiful Black women who are embracing natural hair! Without that network of sisthren, I don’t think I’d have reached a consciousness of how exclusive and exquisite African hairstyles are. I certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to rock something as Afrocentric as Bantu knots if it weren’t for the trailblazers before me, and of course, our sisthren in the Motherland who we can always turn to for influence and insight into creating that African identity out here, and remembering who we are.

Eris the Planet on YouTube (photo above) makes Bantus look effortless. *side eye*. here is the link to check out her pretty style. And who doesn’t love Bantus? They are unapologetically African, a protective style and creates a second style when you’re done with the knots (the pretty Bantu knot-out).

 

Winter Hair Nutrition

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Does gulping cod liver oil bring back memories of your childhood, making you cringe as you recall the taste? As our parents used to say as they handed over the spoon of oil, “Be the head and not the tail.” Well, it turns out cod liver oil is also a great thing to have in your winter arsenal for your head in more ways than one. Yes, it improves cognitive function but it also helps give you lustrous, healthy hair and skin! Cod liver oil also nourishes the hair follicles and keeps dry, itchy scalp and dandruff at bay!

Another great vitamin is vitamin C for hair. Don’t just get absorbic acid though–get the full vitamin C by eating foods rich in the vitamin such as papaya, guava, leafy greens, yellow and orange foods, and citrus food. It’s the time of the year to make your curried butternut squash soup and your spicy calaloo. Vitamin C builds collagen which is crucial for hair growth! If you have to eat vitamin C to ward off colds and influenza, just think what all that is doing for your hair, skin and nails!

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Drinking red wine is always a thumbs-up in my books, but applying it to your scalp can help reduce hair loss and grow your hair. If you are under the legal drinking age and cannot get a hold of some red wine, you can always use red wine vinegar.

Winter is the time to drink hot beverages such as tea and if you want your hair to look its best, making the most out of your tea is beneficial. Horsetail, burdock rock and stinging nettle are all good ideas for helping hair grow and be healthy. As well as drinking the tea, you can do hair rinses with all three teas. They are easy to find at your local health food stores.

 

School Rules

img_20160926_100243122I just wanted to share some fun looks I have sported while at school, hence the washroom selfies!

 

It’s always great to be able to express my creativity and culture through attire and hairstyle or headwraps (crowns). I look forward to getting ready for class…more than actually attending. Shhhh 😉

My favourite look is the Cozy Cat Lady because my region of Canada is cold and I cycle to school so I tend to wear many layers, fleece, knits and cardigans, scarves and leg warmers!

Winter Queenin’

20160926_073204.jpgWhen I began to pay attention to Afrocentric attire, this occurred in the warn months of summer which coincides with the weather on the Motherland continent. However, there isn’t any snow in West Africa and there’s tons of it here in Canada! I wondered how to evade Western culture during the cooler months of autumn and winter and came up with a few ideas for the empresses in the Northern parts of the world.

1. Continue to headwrap. Not only does it keep your head warm, but you can opt for autumn and winter colours like maroon, black or aubergine prints instead of bright summer Kente prints. I coordinate a dark pink wrap with my magenta Betsy Johnson coat. When in doubt, look to Lupita for inspiration!

2. Add African prints to basic clothing. If you buy a yard of fabric and sew it onto a pocket of a sweater or coat, you’ve just turned a basic Eurocentric attire into something more Afrocentric, particularly when worn with a crown! Thank me later. 

3. Wear your bright Kente print dresses and skirts under your coat. A pop of African print in the dreary winter is refreshing!

4. Let the accessories shine! Printed scarves, earrings and necklaces can take a basic North American wardrobe back to the Motherland.

5. Layers: I’m pretty sure layering up in beautiful tunics, scarves and cardigans and crowns is another way to get your Bedouin vibes on, I always throw an embroidered kurta on top of my son’s turtleneck. Just size up to fit a long sleeve item under

Divine Energy

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  I am challenging myself to, once and for all, shed my identity created and shaped by Western ideology; and to embrace African ideologies and principles. My mind and soul is in Africa, but my body is in Canada. Why should we be competing with the makers of Western culture instead of experiencing the authenticity of our own culture because the bottom line is we are Africans outside of Africa. We are Africa’s lost souls, and we need to reconnect with Mother Africa. If you put on a headscarf and an African dress, do you look any different than a sister in Ethiopia or Nigeria? No. Because we are all one.

   It is not an easy thing to aspire to, but I challenge you too whether you are at school, working or a combination of the two… rediscover what looking more like an African, and less like a European/American/North American looks like. I cannot even shop at the mall anymore, I do not see anything there that is representative of my culture. Zara. H&M. Urban Outfitters. Do we all really want to look like a manufactured Western ideal or do we want to reach higher and awaken the divine power within us. Do we want to operate on a higher level, do we want to be peasants and followers; or empresses and leaders? Analyze your life, there is always a Western idea lurking…banish it. Operate higher. You are worth so much more.

Cold and Bold

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So, in Canada, it basically feels like winter past 6pm. Like, we were wearing shorts last week, now I’m pulling out my Aritzia hoodies.  In other words, it’s dry + flaky season for skin and hair. Ick. I don’t know if you know but flaky hair is not sexy, it looks like you have the exoskeletal remains of a spider shedding out of your head. Again, not sexy. And dry? Well it’s that dryness that’s got you having the Flakes, and I don’t mean Corn Flakes.

So, goodbye humectants. Goodbye flax gel, aloe and honey. Heller to oils on oils and oils. I love using thicker oils in the winter time because applying aloe and honey is messy. Winter haircare also means less frequent washing because less sweat and product use. From October-March it’s toque season, anyway so read that as protective style season. 

Best cold weather hair savers? Castor oil, eggs (for protein), coconut oil, peppermint oil and tea tree oil for the Flakes. See ya hair milk, Welcome back hair butters! 

“Loc’ed And Loaded”

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As with many moms who have boys with big hair and struggle with the decision (and pressure) to cut their boy’s hair, I sometimes doubt my choice to keep my son’s hair long. Particularly in this heat wave! But, I see the beauty and uniqueness of his natural Afro hair, and the unapologetically Black essence of locs. He stands out, and I want him to learn that he doesn’t have to conform to the ruling class’s definition of masculinity and respectability. I want him to define and exude that for himself. And shoot, just enjoy being a kid. Messy hair and all! IMG_20160812_175912562IMG_20160812_175910221

 

 

Walk the Walk

IMG_20160813_143300It’s a bit annoying to me that I have a natural hair blog, and I’m still uncomfortable about wearing certain African styles in public like twists. I would add Bantu knots, which are beautiful, but if I were to try to execute that style, I’d embarrass myself. So, I stick to twists, mainly inside my house.

I am trying to get over my fear of what people think about me and if they think my hair is ugly or of less value than their tresses. African hair is beautiful, and African hairstyles are worthy of admiration and respect along with chignons and buns and angular bobs. Like many women, I take pride in my hair. And I’m very proud to be African. Combining the two should be natural.

It’s a struggle to gain the confidence to rock twists in public, but I am trying. Dominant culture would have us hate our skin, our nose, our lips, our shape, our hair. Ourselves. Self-love is a strong weapon. I’m trying to shed my white mask and walk the walk, not just talk the talk. There’s no freedom otherwise.