Friday, 22 August 2014

Musings: Working to love your hair.

I've set the scene. I have chill music playing right now while chocolate ice cream churns in the kitchen. I've put on furry slippers, have my softest throw wrapped around me and am sitting in my most comfortable armchair. I'm ready to talk about hair so lets see where this goes...

Let's talk about hair and self image for a little bit, k? You know for the longest time I tried to convince my younger sister (who was natural for most of her life before she relaxed, due to 'unmanageability') to return to natural. I was convinced that since I had learnt to take care of my hair; she would have a much easier time of it because I could teach her. But she would say two things to me:

1. "Rella you know how to do hair so it's much easier for you to make your hair look good"
2. "You're comfortable with it. It looks good on you but I don't think it would on me"

Both of these responses would get me equally frustrated but in completely different ways. For the record by do hair she meant that I could braid, canerow, flat twist etc. 

Now that I think about it, both responses frustrated me in the same way. Because it kind of minimalised the hard work I put into arriving at the hair place that she saw me at. You know, when people see you, they don't see all it took for you to be there, in front of them, they're just seeing the present you. Not all the other versions of yourself that came before.

What do I mean? Well to the first point, I didn't come out of the womb braiding ish. I made a conscious decision to learn how to do it when I was like 9. And practiced and practiced until I had it down. So by the time I started my hair journey, I had close to a decade's worth of experience. So that's why she saw it as easy. She didn't see my practice braids, or my struggle parts. All she sees is the dope ish  I come out with after years worth of practice.

But that's not what I want to focus on. I want to talk about the second point, the comfortability. Now that is something I had to work at. I had to work at liking my hair. I had to teach myself to like it. I had to unlearn every standard of beauty I'd been taught and eject every beauty ideal I'd internalised. For a long time my hair made me uncomfortable. I saw it as ugly and inferior. When I started my hair journey those feelings didn't magically disappear. In fact I developed even more inferiority complexes rooted around hair type.

See the thing is though, I didn't let that stop me. I had a goal that I wanted to reach. I wanted to learn how to take care of my hair and see it as beautiful and I was determined to work to get to that place. Because of this, every day I would look in the mirror and feel uncomfortable but I would tell myself my hair is not ugly because it is, my hair is ugly (to me) because I was taught that it was. I told myself that, until I didn't have to anymore. Until that deep rooted shame was expelled and in it's place was planted a pride so deep that nothing can shake it. Until every ounce of ugly was replaced with beauty in my eyes and a reminder that my design was not a mistake. My hair is not a coincidence, but an intention.

So I just wanted to come here and tell you, that it's ok to not like your hair. It's ok to feel uncomfortable with it, but they're not feelings that you have to settle for. If you're willing to work through it, a much brighter place is on the other side of that darkness.

Until next time,

Rella x

Monday, 18 August 2014

Ten Ways To Wear A Bun #7

Hey Guys!

I forgot/was to busy and/or lazy to post last week's video. So before #8 is uploaded here's #7 of my Ten Ways To Wear A Bun series. Enjoy!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Who got time for keeping hair 100? Not I!

instagram: @naturalinlondon (I finally started an account!)

You know on a day to day basis, my hair is not in the pristine condition displayed in my YouTube videos. See when I make videos, I prep my hair, so that it looks it's best. So my hair in these vids is normally clean, detangled and has a hint of definition that comes with drying hair in twists or braids. Now I don't want anybody who watches my videos to feel like you can only successfully style awesomely prepped hair. Really and truly, my hair ONLY gets that kinda prep once a month. If that. The majority of the time, my hair is undefined and slightly matted at the roots (if I haven't detangled in a while)(which I normally haven't lol). But the thing is, this doesn't at all keep me from styling. Or make styling intimidating. I can style my hair in all of it's states.

The hair style in the picture above was done on dry and matted hair because I hadn't detangled in two weeks but I needed to go somewhere real quick. The Rella of two years ago would've been intimidated at the un-prepped-ness of my hair, I would've probably backed slowly away from the mirror in sheer terror/panic and donned a beanie. But this I-Stay-Slaying-These-Styles-No-Matter-The-Hair-State Rella? She didn't even blink twice. Nary a fudge was given. My hair got did and errybody stayed happy.

This was just a quick encouragement to say, you don't need pristine hair for an awesome style. In fact some of my favourite style moments have occurred when my hair was in less than ideal maintenance conditions.

Rella x

P.S can we take a moment to appreciate the cuteness that is that bun, I feel like taking down my sleeping braids to recreate this style even though I'm not going anywhere LOL.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ten Ways To Wear A Bun #6

Hey Guys,

Here's this weeks installment of the Ten Ways To Wear A Bun series!

Hope you enjoy it!

Oh and guess who's on instagram?? Me!! @naturalinlondon

Friday, 1 August 2014

Real Talk: My Moisturising Truth

I'm going to tell you a secret. Are you listening? Lean in a bit closer, I don't want anybody to hear...

How many of you actually leaned towards your screens? =)

Anyways here goes:
I don't keep my hair moisturised. GASP!! I don't know how many of you are shocked, or disgusted or intrigued but hear me out before you judge me. Yep, today's Real Talk is all about my moisturising truth. Let's get to it.

See the thing is, for the first 17 years of my life my hair was never properly moisturised. In fact it wasn't really ever properly taken care of, especially by today's 'Natural Hair Care standards'. Whenever I did any type of maintenance, to take down one weave/extensions and put another one in, it was all done dry. Whenever I combed my hair, it was done dry. And by dry I mean without using a moisturiser or any type of 'wet' styler. In fact the only hair products I ever owned was a standard shampoo, conditioner and a bottle of pink lotion. And that pink lotion only came out when I straightened my hair *shudders*. Anyway, the point is for those 17 years I never thought about dryness, and to be honest I didn't really see my hair enough to ever really evaluate it.

Then when I started my hair care journey, my hair remained 'dry' for the first two and a half years. Now this wasn't for lack of trying. I tried to moisturise my hair. I deep conditioned and steamed and used leave ins and oils and butters galore. However, the only time my hair would feel moisturised was for the first 24 hours post wash and then it would dry out like I didn't spend 12 hours marinating my strands in plant extracts, oils, and unicorn tears.

As I learnt that particular oils had better sealing properties than others, I was able to double those 24 hours post wash, but retaining moisture was nigh impossible in between washes. I tried a lot of popular leave ins and moisturisers and creams but nothing worked for more than a few hours after application, no matter what sealants I used. Eventually I discovered the Faith In Nature conditioners which were the first products to actually moisturise and soften my dry hair. And I continued to use them faithfully for about 6 months until I developed my own products that I was able to use. And I've used those exclusively for about 18 months.

So that's a condensed history of my experiences with moisturising. You might be wondering "Hey Rella, now that you know how to moisturise and you have products that do it, why isn't your hair damp and springy all day, erryday?" I'm glad you asked. There are a few sides to my answer to that.

1. I aint craving silky hair, it's not my hair type and I'm not fighting it
At the start of this hair journey I had all kinds of insecurities and inferiority complexes surrounding my hair texture. I used to wish my hair was silkier and the curl was more apparent. It took a while before I accepted that silky naps will never be my portion and then I was able to see the beauty of my spongy texture. Back when I was lusting after them silks, I thought frequent moisturising will somehow transform the sponge. But I learnt with time that a wet sponge just feels like a wet sponge lol. My spongy texture wasn't going to become silky because it was deep conditioned and moisturised. Sure, it would feel smoother but not silkier if that makes sense? So now that I'm fully all for my spongy texture, I'm not trying to change it.

2. Water = popping, tiny, non-clumping coils = tangles = NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT
I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but my hair is a congregation of non-clumping, teeny tiny, springy coils. When I wet them, the springs contract and since the coils don't clump this creates a cacophony of tangles and matting which nobody has got time to detangle. I mean NOBODY. I live my hair life avoiding tangles where I can, so I'm definitely not trying to create conditions or opportunities where tangles can occur. Not if I can help it.

3. My hair is not a living organism that requires water to live, thus I only moisturise when I need the elasticity to minimise mechanical damage.
If you were here for the last Real Talk about trimming, you have heard me say this before. Hair is dead. Hair does not get thirsty. If you don't moisturise your hair for a week if wont die of thirst. Because it is already dead. Because of this I embrace my natural dry spongy texture and only moisturise my hair when I need the elasticity that moisturising provides, to minimise mechanical damage. An example of this is when I'm finger detangling or if i'm doing a hair style that requires a lot of handling.

So yeah, now that I'm not looking for silky hair and have recognised the softness and beauty in my naturally spongy texture, the urge to constantly moisturise has completely dissipated. Wetting tightly coiled hair is absolutely no fun at all for me, I do it when my hair needs it. When it is being washed or when it is being overly handled. But even then I do it in a controlled manner, braiding and twisting after moisturising to prevent tangles...

So now my moisturising efforts depend completely on how I'm wearing my hair. In all honesty it can be as frequent as a few times a week, or a few times a month. My hair is the longest it's ever been (APL), my ends are in good condition, and I have no problem retaining length. You know why? Because hair strands are dead. They are not a garden that needs to be watered to live. It's sort of like spaghetti. Imagine dry spaghetti and hydrated spaghetti. If i'm moving dry spaghetti from one place to another, and handling it gently, it wont break. But if I want to create a spaghetti Mona Lisa, them spaghetti's will be all snaps and cracks galore if I try to manipulate them dry. Whereas hydrated spaghetti is easily shaped and manipulated.

So if you handle your hair often and you need that elasticity by all means keep your hair watered. If you dont, then dont.

I wanna hear from you. How often do you moisturise your hair? Why do you moisturise it that frequently? What are your thoughts? Let me know!

Rella x

PS. None of this applies in the summer though. In summer, the air is humid enough that erry mornin' I wake up and my hair feels like 17 elves wept on it while I was sleeping...