11 June 2010

'Fro sure

For the most part, I try to avoid talking to other people about my hair.   People who know, know.  We acknowledge each other with secret wink-nod combinations or by asking what kinds of hippie products the other uses.  It's a friendly game of natural hair besting.  People who don't know, though, are in the majority.   Chances are that if a grown person asks me  'How did you get your hair so curly,' they're a bit behind the eight ball where ethnic diversity and cultural sensitivity are concerned.  Recently, as gauged from the questions I get on the bus and requests to 'touch it,'  Cantabrigians have taken an interest in Black hair.  I blame this uptick in interest on Michelle Obama's dynamic swinging non-Condie (nee helmet) hair and Malia Obama's New York Times mentioned twists.  People are curious about the versatility of Black hair, but the curiosity manifests itself in strange (and sometimes discomfiting) ways. 

My decision to go natural was...well natural.  As a scientist in training, I became increasingly aware of the nasty chemicals in relaxers and hair products and I moved toward a minimalist approach (by African American Standards) to hair care.  This resulted in some good hair situations and many bad...but hey, I have hair.  I know my hair.  I wear it as it grows out of my head just as much of the population does and, save  the occasional urge to dye it purple, I love my hair.  And so does Ashkenaz Spice, which was luck entirely.  Any time I return from the salon with a blowout he snits and remarks that he can't wait for my hair to go back to 'normal.'  I credit early exposure to Jewfro's.   

In my journey to the minimalist approach, I've found a few standby's.  3 are homemade, a few are store bought products I use in a pinch or in a lazy stretch.  For me, these things have proven worth the trouble to make, purchase...and use.  The flax gel is the BEST I've EVER used.  Better than Ampro, Dep, Isoplus, with no synthetic chemicals and downright cheap to boot.   The Quench works wonders.  The creme is a multipurpose hair and body moisturizer and the spritz is easy peasy.  Enjoy.

The Essentials I make:

Styling Spritz

I use this to refresh old styles, moisturize twists and to dampen my dry 'fro.  

Put into an empty 9 oz. spray bottle
1 Part leave in conditioner (I use Nexxus Humectress, or Hair Rules Nourishment Leave in Conditioner )
2T oil (I use sunflower oil or olive oil)
fill the remainder with water
Add essential oils for fragrance

Flax seed gel
Aveda will sell it to you for about 5 times what it costs to make at home
2 cups water
1/4 cup whole flax seed (ground will make a mess)
1T aloe vera juice (I use this kind) (emollient)
Essential Oils/ 1.5 t. olive oil (for vitamin E) (optional)
Mesh strainer

Boil water and flax seed in a pot.  Stir until flax seeds foam.  Turn heat off.  Strain gel into a clean bowl. Resulting gel should be golden/red brown in tint depending on the seeds you used and the consistency of egg whites. Add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance and to preserve gel.  Add aloe vera juice.  You can transfer your gel into a squirt (not spray) bottle if you like.  Stores in the refrigerator for between two weeks and a month.  Doesn't store well at all outside the fridge.

Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Honey and Cocoa Butter Whipped Hair Creme
It seems expensive and it does require quality ingredients but it's multipurpose.  You can use it as a body butter in a pinch...everything is edible and sweet like honey.  
~5 oz. shea butter, melted (moisturizer)
2T. coconut oil (moisturizer)
~ 1 oz. cocoa butter, melted (moisturizer)
1T. Honey, melted (humectant, emollient)
1T aloe vera juice (emollient)
tea tree oil to preserve creme
Essential oils for frangrance

Pour all the melted ingredients into a bowl (I use my stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whip until they're they consistency of creamed butter, add the aloe vera juice and a couple drops tea tree oil and essential oils for fragrance needed.  This recipe makes about 2.5x the starting volume because of the air whipped into the mixture.  I leave the portion I'm using out and store the rest in the fridge or freezer until I need them.  

The Essentials I buy :
Hair Rules Quench Conditioner now available at ULTA

The Extra's I buy:
Hair Rules Hydrating Finishing Cream--I use it as I would the Creme but not on my dry elbows.

Michael Stone's Natural Island Hair Scalp and Skin Nutrient--I use this as I would the cream but it's not as emollient.

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