Oh my poor coif!

The past several posts have been a bit more on the serious side so I say it’s time to lighten the mood and what better way to do that than by talking hair. Get a group of Black women together and after a few hours of conversation inevitably the talk will turn to hair. Let me say as my Granny used to say and I am slightly paraphrasing but my hair is giving me the flux! Older black folks always have the best damn expressions but seriously, yes my hair is working my last nerve.

Let’s recap for those who haven’t been long time readers, I have had natural hair now for about 10 years or so yet I am not a hair person. What does that mean? It means I have never been the type of gal to just play in my hair for the fun of it. Shit, I can’t even braid hair! (Y’all see now why I live in Maine, I lack some of those skills it’s assumed all Black girls have…I had to hideaway in Maine) Yet my lack of hair skills is coming back to haunt me in a big way.

When I made the leap from relaxed hair to going natural, I kept it simple by just cutting all my hair off. No, really I took it from almost shoulder length to about 1.5 inches total. That was heaven, talk about wash and go, which was the ultimate wash and go. Then I decided maybe I should grow my hair out so I did that for a while and when I got tired of wrapping shit around my hair combined with my mother’s passing I decided it was time for dreadlocks. I had dreads for 5 years and in 2009 decided it was time to let them go. They had become physically and spiritually heavy and the lessons I needed to learn during that process had been learned. So I cut em off but this time rather than an inch or so of hair on my head I kept a good 4-5 inches. Since cutting my dreads, I have let my hair grow out and last year started having my hair braided on a regular basis. I admit I enjoyed the braids for a while but recently after taking them out (my braider uses some extensions) realized that my hair is extremely dry and really not in great shape. I have not had a haircut or trim since 2009 and my hair is all kinds of confused.

Now I know all about the various hair styling tutorials on You Tube and sites like Nappturality, etc as far as places to get hair information. I gotta be honest those places overwhelm me, the other day I spent damn near 3 hours on Nappturality and walked away confused as hell. First off in many cases when folks recommend types of products to use, um….I live in Maine, so my access to shit is greatly limited. While I love products like Oyin Handmade, it’s a pain in the ass to order products which take a week to arrive and then you realize oh this shit doesn’t work in my hair. Hand crafted products like Oyin are just high enough with shipping and time that honestly dropping dollars to get something that may or may not work is really not a gamble I want to take.

The other day my hair was crying out for some TLC, it needed me to make sweet love to it. So off I went to find some products. I realize these may not be the best products but at least my hair looks a little happier. I washed with Pantene’s Relaxed & Natural Shampoo for women of color, and then did a deep conditioning with Palmer’s Deep Conditioning Protein Pack, and then I twisted my hair using Cantu’s Shea Butter Leave in Conditioner Repair Cream. I have also taken to adding a dab of Cantu’s Daily Oil Moisturizer. If nothing else my coif while messy most certainly smells good.

But good people what I need help with is styles, in the past I would rock a wash and go afro puff up high, but in light of the dryness I am trying to stay away from washing daily…my hair seems to be saying no more. The other day I did this adorable side roll thingy that while cute the man said made me look matronly. Oh dear. I would love to rock some two strand twists but mine are not for public consumption…they look horrible though they make for a decent twist out the next day though a tad wild.

I know I have some sistas who read here who are natural; tell me what you are doing with your coif? More importantly if you live in a non urban area what do you do for hair products? I should add I used to try to get stuff from the health food store like jojoba oil, etc but that turned my hair extra greasy but not moist if that makes any sense. I want a moist head of hair, I don’t want to be mistaken for salad dressing!

The spirituality of my hair

There is nothing like a post on Black women and hair to get some attention in the blogosphere. Of course Black women and our hair have a rather deep and unique relationship. Thanks to all those who posted on my last post, as I lamented over what to do about my beloved locks, I must admit I am still unsure but due to a reaction I had a few hours after writing that post, I know I need to think about it.

See, when I first cut my hair and went natural, I was a hair evangelist, much like a newly born again Christian who feels the need to share the goods news of Jesus Christ. I spent the first several years of being a proudly nappy haired Black woman telling other Black women who had not gotten on board with their naps that they must find and embrace naps. Looking back I shudder now to think about how obnoxious I may have been, but again I wanted to share the good news.

It wasn’t until I started my dreads that I stopped being such a zealot about natural hair on Black women. I will be honest and say that I generally think most Black women look much better with their hair worn naturally but I am also at a point where I can admit when a sista has a banging relaxed style. However most sistas I see in real life with relaxed hair generally look ho-hum at best. Of course the key to hair in general is maintaining it well no matter if you have chemically processed hair or not.

No, see my dreads were not a fashion statement. I had wanted dreads ever since I was 17, going so far at 18-19 as to stop combing my hair thinking that they would lock…it didn’t happen, instead I looked a hot mess. So back I went to the relaxer and later wearing my hair short and natural.

It was the death of my beloved mother that made me take the plunge, her death changed me at the deepest core. I am not the person I was prior to her death, in many ways and the Spousal Unit agrees, I am a nicer person. I strive to be deeper and more compassionate. My mother used to tease me that I was a bitch and the truth is I was very much a bitch and I knew that I needed to change. Her death was the catalyst for me growing up and getting in touch with my inner woman who is compassionate and caring, though lately I wonder if I have gone too far with this niceness bit but that’s for another day.

So how does hair fit into this? Well the process and journey of locking requires patience I have learned. In the early days I had a lot of ugly hair days, a lot of days that felt unsure and I will be damned if there was not a connection between the state of my hair and the state of my mind. As my locks started out as unsure babies much like the new me after my mother’s death, eventually they started toddling…sort of like a toddler does and so on.

Somewhere about 2 years ago, my locks reached a state where they started to look good and again looking at my internal state, that is around the time I started to feel steady and stable emotionally in being the new me. Even now the state of uncertainty that I have around my dreads is similar to what I am facing personally…regular readers know that in recent months I have blogged about my financial woes and even my marital issues. As I told the Spousal Unit the other night, the state of my hair seem to be bound to the state of my mind.

I wrote in the comment section of my last post that I feel like cutting off my locks would feel like I am cutting off my antenna, I know that sounds dramatic as hell but honestly that is how I feel. I neither want or need my locks to be perfectly groomed, but much like my financial life is feeling out of control is how I feel my hair looks and feels at the moment.

So while I am still unsure about what I will eventually do, I know that I need to be still and wait to be led as there may be lessons still to be learned on this journey.

Hair in crisis

I have often thought about writing about hair but until today never quite gotten around to it. Now when I first started blogging the majority of my readers were Black because I spent a lot of time in the Black section of the blogosphere but lately I have noticed that many of my readers judging from those who leave comments may not be Black. If that is the case, you may be wondering why the hell am I about to write an entire post about hair. Shit, for black women and our hair I could write an entire book.

Black woman and their hair is not only a serious business but we Black women take out hair pretty seriously. However I am not about to go into a historical piece about hair, nope its just dealing with my hair. See, for the past decade aside from one dye job 6 years ago, I have worn my hair in its natural state. In the late 1990’s, I knew that there was a really good chance that I would be moving to Maine so I started thinking about my hair and how I would manage it. Yep, tis the life of a Black woman…a cross country move to the whitest state immediately makes you wonder about seemingly small things like how the hell will you manage your hair?

See, at that point I went weekly to the salon to get my hair done. On a weekly basis that meant wash, dry and curl and every six weeks I had my relaxer (hair straightener applied) at that point in time I was spending about $200 plus a month to maintain my silky do. My hair looked great but there was also the fact that I really was not skilled at maintaining my own hair.

So I started looking into going natural, that is wearing my hair without any type of chemicals. So I made a slow transition by wearing braids, weaves and eventually just cutting off all my hair in a rather dramatic fashion. I’ll never forget the day I went in for the “Big Chop” at that point I was going to the Van Cleef Salon in Chicago, which as a side note is the same salon the current First Lady Michelle Obama went to for years. As you can imagine, most of the woman at such a salon were not trying to get rid of their silky tress’s and go nappy. In fact the owner of the salon actually came over and watched as my stylist took off all my hair…shit, everyone in the salon stopped what they were doing to watch. For a moment the mood in the salon was almost that of a funeral. To many Black woman cutting off all your hair is viewed with horror and a bit of fascination.

Yet after I watched my hair fall to the ground leaving me with a cool 2 inches at best, I felt a huge relief, it was almost a religious experinece, I felt reborn. That was until I got home and the Spousal Unit came home from work and looked at my head. To his credit he didn’t say much, but the truth is when he went to work that morning he had a wife with a frizzy bob and now my head matched my Dad’s as far as hair length.

The real fun started when I went to visit my parents, my Mom loved it and thought it was cute though she did suggest maybe I should color it which I eventually did, no it was my Dad who lost his mind. I won’t go into the details but for 2 weeks he stopped talking to me, He could not understand why I would cut off all my hair. Eventually he came around and while he is still not a fan of my hair in its natural state at least he keeps his comments to himself.

For almost 5 years I wore my hair fairly short but eventually felt the urge to have dreadlocks something I have always wanted, so after my Mom’s death 5 years ago I started my dreads aka locks. Or rather I had them started at a place in Boston. For the first 6 months I went to Boston every 4-6 weeks to get my locks groomed. However when I got pregnant with girl child I decided the hell with it and went real natural, meaning I started to free-form my locks. In practical terms, it means all I do is wash, condition and separate my locks though many have started to fuse together over the years.

After 5 years I have dreadlocks that are to the middle of my back but because I have not had the new growth re-twisted or groomed, I have a bit of a Afro growing in the midst of my locks. Generally I handle it by keeping my head covered or wearing my hair in a pony tail so the fro portion is less obvious.

Anyway I have reached the point where I am in a bit of a hair crisis, there are days when I want to cut it all off or worse yet relax again. I think part of the hair crisis is because living in Maine, there are very few places a Black woman can go to get her coif done and even less choices for a dread-lock wearing sista.

I could go back to the shop in Boston but I never really cared much for the joint. The folks that run the joint had funky attitudes and their location in Bean-town is less than convenient. It takes me 3.5 hours each way to get to their spot, plus several hours there for a job that is only okay, granted they can do better than me but considering I am paying them, I want an amazing job. This particular place is like the McDonald’s of the dread-lock world in Boston.

So now I sit here with dreams of silky precision cut bobs dancing in my head though I know if I actually went that direction, I would most likely wake up questioning my sanity. To go back to relaxing would mean bondage to the salon at a time when my money is already tight. 

A friend of mine who lives in Brooklyn, has suggested I head down to her area and see her loctitian but money has simply been too tight and now my time is about to get tight with my work schedule. So while I love that idea, its probably not going to happen unless those folks I met with last week about a side project hurry up and sign the contract.

Nope, I have a hair dilemma, I am in crisis and I just don’t know what to do. I imagine to some reading this you may be wondering is this really a big deal? Oh yes, a Black woman with a hair crisis is a huge deal. I mean I have a fucking dread-fro and its just not cute.  Oh well no answers today but thank goodness for scarves and the lovely black and gold one I am wearing today to cover up the dread-fro.