M. I. A.…

Missing in Action (MIA) is a term used to say that a soldier cannot be found after a battle and might have been killed, captured, or wounded.  People everywhere fight all different types of battles on a daily basis and many of them are internal – naked to an untrained eye.  From career moves to heartbreak to loss, my life has been my excuse for not blogging.  I know I have not written a post since Fall of  2015.  A friend wrote recently that its funny how a couple years can feel like yesterday and a lifetime ago all in one.  While I was MIA both my hair and I have continued on our journey.  As for writing…I’m back.

In the St. Louis airport following Memorial Day weekend, I was complimented on my curls by sweet girls working at Starbucks.  I started my usual speech about hair care and products.  Then, realizing they were working, I wrote down my Instagram and blog site.  As I walked to my gate I thought, “Yikes!”  I haven’t written anything new in forever.  These girls may not even recognize me.  I was reminded why I started sharing my #curlchronicles, to begin with.  My curl story is like so many others out there….at one point I just did not know what to with my hair.  In life before FaceBook and Instagram,  I would pull out a product and give it to a woman, girl or parent of a child with curls so they could try it and learn to nurture and love their curls as I have.  Today, I usually text links to Curlbox or products from DevaCurl Decadence, Tigi Curls Rock, or my current go to by Creme of Nature.

So I am MIA no longer.  I honestly have a lot to say.  There is a lot that is written in my head and on my heart.  I will start with my hair transformation over the last two and a half years.  Shortly after my last post, I was reminded of my college days with highlights and lighter hair.  I went to get some blonde and an awesome stylist, in North Carolina, at Ulta Beauty Salon named Chelsea started me on my journey.  Using Redken products we focused on the front.

Ulta - Raleigh NC

With Chelsea from Ulta, ready to start my process to blonde

I didn’t want to go too crazy and Chelsea was really careful.  She didn’t want to go too blonde too fast.  I was worried because my hair tends to pull red so it needs ash to balance it out.  I was happy with the start and promised to return after a couple weeks for round two.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is be patient.  It is important to listen to the experts (make sure they are experts).  Friends’ recommendations, Yelp or Google are your best sources.  Remember to read the good and the bad reviews and throw out the extremes of both.

By November, I was ready to go again so I returned to Chelsea and this was the result.

 

After a day or so I realized I may have made a mistake because my curls were beginning to lose their coil shape.  I now know it was because of processing the same hair with bleach without using a protectorant like Olaplex (but more about that later).  I was excited about the blonde in the front while frustrated by the stretch of my curls and the look of the colors from the back.  I wasn’t sure what I could do next to get the look I wanted.

2016 brought a new career and a new (old) city in my life.  I relocated to Atlanta but before the move, I made a trip to Ulta in FL and then in GA.  More bleach on bleach and stylist hopping put my hair at serious risk.  At first, everything seemed fine. I was liking the color, I just wanted more. After a “Master Stylist” faux pas that resulted in orange hair, followed by the lavender grey correction by another stylist I was faced with the consequences of too many cooks in my kitchen. My hair was fried. It was damaged, breaking, dull and dry.

Then enter my Knight with Shining scissors. James. I found James by accident. I had been hearing nothing but good things about Deva Curl’s – Deva Cut.   You may remember that while in Florida I was going to Ouidad Stylists.  I went on DevaCurl.com to find a stylist near my new home in Georgia. I found a great salon conveniently just around the corner from where I was living. However, when I got there the stylist that I was looking for was not available. I was told by the receptionist that I would love this guy named James. I looked over and saw a skinny, tall pale man with blonde waves and looked back at the girl like, ”Are you serious?!” She shook her head, yes, and I sat in the chair. A couple hours later James had brought hydration and shape back to my messy curls. Due to the amount of breakage around my face, I even trusted him to give me bangs. A first for me but glad I had tired them remember this, faux bangs?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


At this point, I was giving the color a break then I realized I wanted to work on the blonde. I called the salon for James and I found out he had left. Luckily, the receptionist was his friend and told me where I could find him. He had started his own salon, CurlEnvy, and was happy I found him. DISCLAIMER: I had to beg and plead and promise not to sue if I lost all my hair to convince him to take me blonde all over.
He was so cautious. Over the next year, with 2 visits, I became “total blonde”.  The final appointment took 11 hours for everything to be completed. James, his partner Shawn and I watched Bridget Jones’s Baby, drank wine (me, not them), talked about life and people. It was a long night and it was so worth it!  Now you can see where the last couple years have gotten my curls.  More about where it has gotten my life next time.

Step One with James

Started from the bottom….

 

Step Two with James

IMG_1651-ANIMATION

Final product with James

Now we’re here!

Trial and HAIRor

A normal good curl day.

A normal good curl day.

For those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning you know that this has been all about my #curlstory.  These #curlchronicles are a fun exploration of my journey with my curls.  Today is no different.  For my entire life my hair experiments have definitely been trial and error, especially in my pre-college days when I didn’t have as many resources.  Today there are so many voices out there that you could be trying different products and methods constantly if you aren’t careful.  Today I was reminded of these Trials and HAIRors when I woke up to an email from my Dad.  Sidenote:  I totally love my father.  He has been my number one supporter from day one.  From coach to cheerleader he has always had my back.  So I was not surprised that he would share an email that ties to my latest project – this blog.

The email was simply a forward from Flipboard (who knew my Dad used Flipboard) sent at 6:30 AM with a link to an article on HuffingtonPost.com entitled “8 Things You’re Doing Wrong to Your Curls”.

Huffington Post Article: 8 Things You're Doing Wrong to Your Curls Co-authored by Elena Nicolau, writing intern at Avelist. That my dad sent to me.

Huffington Post Article: 8 Things You’re Doing Wrong to Your Curls Co-authored by Elena Nicolau, writing intern at Avelist. That my dad sent to me.

So I scrolled through it quickly before jumping out of bed to start my day.  While all of them I had heard before some I have to say I disagreed with.  So I thought I would give you the cliff notes version of the article and enhance with my curl experience.

Elena Nicolau’s first tip was “Put that brush down!”  She goes on to suggest that brushing your hair will destroy your curls.  This is simply not true.  There are certain combs and brushes that will work well on your curls with the right amount of conditioner, moisture and/or styling product.  The key is begin styling your hair when it is dripping wet.  I start my style in the shower as I am washing and conditioning my hair.  I always comb conditioner through my hair in the shower and let it sit.  Combing my hair with a wide tooth comb separates my curls and allows them to spring into their natural spiral.  If I am not looking for a smooth, defined look I may skip the comb and only use my fingers.  I also tend to do this when I am in a rush or traveling.  Ultimately you will need to go through your styling process once using a comb and once using just your fingers to see which look you prefer.  You definitely do not want to attempt to comb or brush dry curls.  If you are doing a slick-back style like a bun, ponytail or faux hawk I recommend using a boar brush (like a men’s wave brush) to smooth out your curls.  Be gentle and careful not to scratch your scalp.  Avoid using any round brushes because your curls will wrap around the brush and make it difficult to style.

Tip 2 was “Throw out that crunchy, flaky gel!” Here Miss Nicolau and I agree.  Adding any styling product like gel or mousse that contains alcohol is never a good idea.  However there are some great gels out there for curls that don’t make your hair crunchy or flaky with proper application.  For example the Ouidad Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel that I reviewed in my last blog post or AG Liquid Effects , an alcohol-free Extra Firm Styling Lotion, which is a great gel alternative.  Of course you can also turn to my favorite – the curl creams.  Ouidad and AGhair are again favorites of mine.

Don’t go to any old hairdresser,” was the third tip.  Again, I agree.  I shared in my last post that I have learned how amazing specialized curly hairstylists like Ouidad certified stylists are.  Do your research.  I move a lot so I am always looking for a new stylist.  I would love to always wait until my semi-annual trips home to see my lifetime stylist, Cynthia at Pampered People in Danville, PA but that is just not possible.  I usually will ask for recommendations when I see someone with hair similar to mine or I will google/yelp for naturally curly hair stylists.  I also go in for a consultation before ever allowing someone to cut or color my hair (those are permanent and serious changes to my appearance).  Feel free to ask them for photos of their clients hair – today many stylists have Instagram or other social media accounts to show photos of their skills.  I had some really bad experiences when I did take the time to research. I highly recommend you don’t rush into any salon and assume they can handle your hair even if they say they can.

Tips 4, 5 and 6 go hand in hand.  Limit your shampoo! Don’t skimp on the conditioner. Who needs a blow dryer, anyway? This is all about your maintenance routine and again the author is accurate.  If you have learned anything about your curly hair it should be not to shampoo your hair daily.  It strips your hair of all the natural oils that keep it healthy and shiny.  You should really wash your hair once a week with a sulfate-free shampoo that is less drying.  Focus on your scalp and any product buildup and let the shampoo rinse through your curls.  Unless you competed in a mud run or have an excessive amount of styling products in your hair you shouldn’t need to wash your hair more than that.  I usually choose to wet my hair almost everyday and add leave in conditioner.  This keeps your curls hydrated so you minimize frizz.

Air dried curls before bed

Air dried curls before bed

I also try to wash my hair in the early evening so it has time to air dry before bed or I will do it in the morning if I am in a warm climate so it has the day to air dry.  If you must dry your hair after adding styling product you should add a diffuser to the blowdryer and hold about 4-6 inches from your head being careful not disturb your curls and cause frizz.

Crazy beach day hair but I still love my curls!

Crazy beach day hair but I still love my curls!  Frizz does happen.

My best friend Selena loves the diffuser – I am always running late and rarely have the time.  It is really your preference.  If you plan to be outside especially if you are going to be in or near water you may want to leave a little of your conditioner in by only rinsing about 50% out.  That way as the water or sun hits your hair it is hitting the conditioner first and you won’t end the day with dry, frizzy curls.  Another tip I would like to add is that you should deep condition your curls weekly.  You can use an actually deep conditioner or a hot oil treatment if you like.  Depending on the climate where you live you may need more conditioning than others.  Living in Florida my nemesis is the humidity.  I have been applying a conditioner for color-treated hair (since I just decided to go light again – more on that later) along with organic coconut oil to my hair, putting on a plastic shower cap then wrapping with a scarf.  I apply this at night and when I wake up my hair is smooth, soft and shiny.  I can run my fingers right through it.  I rinse it out in the shower and follow up with my normal styling routine.  Try different types and find the one that gives you the results you need.

The seventh tip from the article was simply, “Don’t get discouraged!”  I like it.  It’s simple but true.  The author mentions the online community which has increased our ability to share all things curly.  This is exactly why I started blogging so I could be part of the awesome Curl Community.  Blogging pushes me to try new products and techniques.  I love sharing what works for me and what doesn’t but everyone needs to go out and explore on their own.  Don’t give up – you will find your perfect #curlcocktail.

Curls. curls. curls. I can always count on them.

Curls. curls. curls. I can always count on them.

The biggest issue, and one that we’ve all struggled with, comes when you’re not embracing your curls.  The final tip is to simply love your curls and again I could not agree more.  Curls are beautiful in all textures, patterns, colors and length.  I love seeing my fellow #girlswithcurls and guys too.  Compliment someone with curls today and help them feel confident about being a part of the wonderful world of curls!  Don’t forget this is a journey.  I would add my own additional tip to make it 9. Try different things with your hair. Different products. Different processes. The different styles.  Remember that you know your hair best. And it’s only through experimenting that you’ll know what your curls need.  Enjoy the path of your #curlstory and find what works for you with Trial and HAIRor.

I say “Oui” to Ouidad Curls

The Ouidad experience

The Ouidad experience

First, let me say that I know it’s been a minute since my last blog post. I am such a perfectionist that I don’t ever want to rush to post something just to post. I want my content to be meaningful.  I reviewed a Ouidad product recently but for my birthday I treated myself to a Ouidad cut and style at a local Ft Lauderdale salon.

I had read up on the carve and slice technique on the Ouidad site and was fully prepared for my first “curly” cut in over a decade. But since the Brazilian treatment of 2008 I haven’t been rocking the straight look often.  I learned to love my curls once I didn’t have them.  Honestly, my only hesitation came from the cost. A girl who hates haircuts definitely doesn’t want to pay over $100 for one but I had a feeling that this Ouidad cut could be a game changer. Plus, it was my birthday.  So used the Ouidad Salon Locator to find a stylist.  I settled on the Tipsy Salon (formerly Las Olas Beauty) and scheduled an appointment for a Ouidad Cut and Style.  Price Tag: $120  Yikes!  All I could do is pray that it was worth it.

Hair upon arrival

Hair upon arrival

When I arrived the salon was under construction – the new owners were transforming the salon into their signature set up.  Everyone was warm and friendly.  My stylist Leah sat me down to discuss my hair and the Ouidad process.  She had the shampoo girl use Ouidad Curl Quencher Moisturizing Shampoo followed by their Climate Control DeFrizzing Conditioner since we live in South Florida where humidity is NOT my friend.  She then prepped my hair with Curl Recovery Whipped Curls Daily Conditioner & Styling Primer before began the carve and slice hair cutting technique.

What I remember from previous haircuts, curly and straight, the goal was always to clip dead ends.  When curly the stylist would pull the section of hair tight to straighten before cutting with scissors.

After Ouidad's Carving and Slicing

After Ouidad’s Carving and Slicing

With the Ouidad Carving and Slicing method (see video) Leah analyzed my curls and carefully cut into the hair to remove bulk and allow my curls to fall naturally together.  While I have had layers put into my hair before the end result after the Ouidad cut was by far the best haircut I have ever had.  My hair had shape, still had volume and I didn’t lose length.  Hallelujah!

But my Ouidad experience was not over.  Now it was time for the Ouidad style.  Since I have tight spiral curls Leah proceeded to section my hair into small pieces and begin the Rake and Shake method. She spritzed my hair with water and then added a little more whipped curls to prep my hair.  All my hair was piled on top of my head and then she pulled small sections to pull Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel through the hair using her hands like a flat iron.  She then separated the hair (Rake) and wiggled it loose (Shake) before laying it down not to be touched again.  Check out this video for the Rake and Shake method on tight curls.  You can also visit the Ouidad site for the styling of other curl types.  The biggest thing I took from the Ouidad style session was to get product through my entire head of hair by taking the time to section and apply.  I also learned to not touch the curls until they are dry.  Leah used a diffuser to dry the hair but unlike how I used it in the past she held the dryer about 2-3 inches from my hair never letting the diffuser touch the curls.

After Gel has been applied to the hair, section by section with the Rake and Shake method

After Gel has been applied to the hair, section by section with the Rake and Shake method

Pinned without disturbing the Curls

Pinned without disturbing the Curls

The correct way to diffuse your curls.

The correct way to diffuse your curls.

The final result after Cut and Style

The final result after Cut and Style

Finally, once my hair was dry I was able to shake it out.  My biggest concern about applying the method at home was the amount of time it took and the amount of product used.  Now the curls lasted for close to 5 days but the cost (time and money) still concerned me.

All smiles after my Ouidad experience

All smiles after my Ouidad experience

Since then I have used other products with the techniques and I can honestly I haven’t been able to achieve the same amount of definition while maintaining length.  With curl creams and other gels I do get some shrinkage.  I am still determined to get the same results.  I cannot deny how awesome Ouidad products and techniques are – I just wish I had found them sooner.

While Leah assured me I should only need a cut twice a year this will be determined by my combs ability to get through my curls over the next couple months.

A few weeks later I did seek out a Ouidad stylist in Chicago for a wedding hair style.  I found The Bird’s Nest Salon in Logan Square.  I scheduled a Ouidad style (prices starting at $50).  Imagine my surprise when I got a bill for over $100 after 1. being squeezed between clients 2. assisting the stylist in completing my hair 3. providing my own hair pins.  While it turned out to be an issue of miscommunication – or what I call non-communication – I would certainly NOT recommend visiting this overpriced salon.  I still have much love for Ouidad products and the Rake and Shake.  I just know that if the salon stylist who is certified doesn’t do a lot of curly clients they are quite slow.  I suggest asking what they plan to do and how much you will be charged before the stylist begins.  Prices will always vary in any salon by the amount of hair you have as well as the length.

Ouidad curls all pinned up.

Ouidad curls all pinned up.

All the curls pinned back after a Ouidad style

All the curls pinned back after a Ouidad style

Check out the pin up.  I used combs on the sides to keep it slicked back tight but then used large open plastic pins to tuck sections of the hair, separating the front piece to style loosely.

The best part about having the Ouidad style done before the pin up was having ready to go curls that lasted days after I took all the pins out.  That is not ever the case any other time.  I usually would need to wash and re-condition.

Thank you Ouidad for all the lessons.

Curls Out The Box!

Thanks to my girlfriend Jennifer (remember she is the one who helped get me started in this blog life) I got to do a Curl MAY-KOVER in June.  I have been waiting to receive a curlbox for years and finally, by way of NYC, one arrived on at my door.  I was like a kid at Christmas carefully tearing into the packaging, anticipating what wonderful gift was inside.

Love in box for my curls from my girl Jenn!

Love in box for my curls from my girl Jenn!

curlbox1

The official curlBOX!

curlbox2

Myleik Teele is the genius who launched curlBOX to allow women the chance to try several hair products for the price of one each month.  The popularity.  For as long as I can remember there has been a waitlist to get on the coveted curlbox list.  They say getting things in life is more about WHO you know than WHAT you know and this is certainly a case for that fact.  Needless to say I was immediately impressed by the packaging and the letter from Myleik introducing the MAY-KOVER products.  Of course I decided I needed to try them immediately.

BEFORE

BEFORE

After 2 days without washing and coming straight from the gym my hair looked like it does a lot of days in South Florida – dry and frizzy.

The products featured in the curlBOX were all from the Creme of Nature Argan Oil collection.  I jumped in the shower and since I didn’t have a lot of product in my hair I used the Pure-Licious Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner – in the past I hadn’t been a fan of co-wash products if I had a lot of build-up from products on my scalp.  I followed up the co-wash with the Argan Buttermilk Leave-in Hair Milk – again even though I know I should be using leave-ins more often I never felt like they moisturized my hair enough.  Not the case here.  I probably would have been good to go just after those two products but since I had the Style & Shine Foaming Mousse I figured I may as well finish it off.  This was the result after using the 3 products.  You can see the moisture and definition in my curls even with them being piled up on top of my head.

AFTER

AFTER

While this alone is impressive the fact that 3 days later I have not had to re-wet my hair or add more product (which I usually do if I want to see decent hair).  #NoFrizz What I really loved was that I didn’t have to use a lot of any of the products which means they will actually last me a little while unlike most products – remember my “Sponge” post?

Check out 3 days of creme of nature curls (Yes, I do wear black almost everyday to work).  Needless to say I will definitely be using this product – I am a fan.  Thank you curlBOX from just a curly gurl!

Day 1 Curls - Hair down and lots of movement

Day 1 Curls – Hair down and lots of movement

Day 2 curls - pinned some up for style but still plenty of spring.

Day 2 curls – pinned some up for style but still plenty of spring.

Day 3 curls - after working out each day starting to dry a bit but still great curl definition pinned back

Day 3 curls – after working out each day starting to dry a bit but still great curl definition pinned back

A Special Skill Acquired Once Upon a Sleepover

Going up sleepovers were a big deal. I very rarely got to go but,  there are a few that really stick out my mind from middle school. The one I remember the most was at my best friend April’s house. She was a new girl who had moved to Danville from Oklahoma. The reason why that particular sleepover was so memorable to me is because it was the first time someone ever French braided my hair. In fact, it was really the first time I remember anyone ever doing something to my hair other than me. Other than my mother brushing my hair when I was really young.

At a friend's house in rural PA.

At a friend’s house in rural PA.

I realize my hair was really short prior to middle school and there probably wasn’t too much that anybody could do with it. As I grew it out I experimented, usually failing miserably, to make it resemble the hairstyles of all my friends.  I don’t think their words to describe how elated I was when Mrs. Splane completed her braid my hair.  After that I became abscessed with braiding I braided all of my dolls as well as all of my friends. Eventually, I even learned to French braid my own hair. In time I graduated in to multiple braids, fishtails, inverted French Braids and most recently braids inspired by the Hunger Games.

The satisfaction of a braid well done with tired arms and all - I have A LOT of hair.

The satisfaction of a braid well done with tired arms and all – I have A LOT of hair.

In the days before YouTube all you could do was watch others and learn and when it came to braiding I was an eager student and practiced diligently. In my adult life I definitely don’t braid as much as I did in my youth but it’s often therapeutic and a favorite way to tuck away my hair for travel days.

sidebraid

A girlfriend of mine recently found out that she was going to have a daughter and when she saw my braids asked if I could teach her how to braid hair.  I think we all know how great it is to have someone else do your hair. And I’m sure that it’s a wonderful bonding experience between a mother and a daughter. I think I was always a little bit jealous of April to have such an awesome mom who could French braid hair.  Of course I adore my own mother but I wonder how different our relationship would’ve been if we had bonded over things like hair and make up and other girly activities. In the years since I’ve left home I’m now the one who goes home and beg my mother to let me do her hair and make up. Rather than practice on dolls I now practice on my god sister Katie, who is often a willing guinea pig.  She, along with countless children I’ve babysat, or cheerleaders I have coached, have benefited from the skills I learned as a child at a sleepover.

I can’t wait to have my own little girl one day but until then I will keep braiding my own hair and anyone else who asks.  Curly girls can rock the French Braid too – OUI!

SHE BANGS!

I can’t lie sometimes I do get bored with curls – okay I am one of those people who gets bored with just about everything eventually.  In any event, when it comes to my hair some days I have more time on my hands or I see something I want to try and I am determined to do it.  Since I began blogging I have used my @justacurlygurl Instagram and Twitter accounts to follow inspiring #girlswithcurls all over the world.  I also have recently turned to YouTube for inspiration and tutorial….yes I know I am late to the game.

Faux Bangs

Experimenting with bobby pins to create faux bangs.

I have always been intrigued by people who have bangs.  I even once bought a wig so I could see what I looked like with bangs, but it was straight hair.  I was always worried if I cut my hair while it was straight that it would look crazy when it was curly.   At one point a couple years ago I let a stylist put long layers in my hair and it almost looked like bangs when I styled it right curly.

3 years ago in MN I had some serious layers which when curly gave the look of  bangs.

3 years ago in MN I had some serious layers which when curly gave the look of bangs.

More recently, I found an alternative way to try faux bangs with my good friends the bobby pins.  Thanks to a random search on YouTube I successfully created bangs on Easter morning when I was celebrating with my bestie and her family.  I think it made an interesting frame to my face.  What do you think?  I may try it again one day with a ponytail.  I think that would be interesting.  Having this blog is certainly getting me to pull the trigger on trying some new things and I must say I like it.  I know I have a tendency to get lazy with my hair especially 2-3 days after washing.  The messy bun (a topic for a future post) is a frequently used style during the week and in the gym.  I am seriously trying to step my hair game up.

It’s funny how being more adventurous with my hair is helping me do the same in life.  As a constant overthinker and analyzer I am often gun shy when it comes to new things.  I resolved to try more and say yes more often in 2015 and so far I am keeping that promise to self.  So bang bang – I will keep pulling that trigger.  I will NOT however be cutting my hair and making bangs permanent anytime soon.  I like it but I didn’t love it.  So I will keep trying new looks.  Let me know what you think!

Misty Copeland

Having a role model that you can identify with is so important when you are young. I found mine in magazines before the Internet was so widely available and smart phones didn’t exist. As a former dancer I know I would have loved having Misty’s name on my locker (I had Isadora Duncan’s). Thank you for sharing the behind the scenes of your shoot with Misty Copeland.

Damn Ugly Photography

Misty Copeland

Click on any image for Full-Size

I’m not sure at this point if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Misty Copeland. Besides making history as the only African American soloist dancing with the American Ballet Theatre, her best-selling autobiography, ‘Life In Motion’, dancing onstage with Prince, appearing in ads for Under Armour, Dr. Pepper, Coach, The Corcoran Group and T-Mobile, and her numerous features in magazines like The New Yorker, Vogue, Elle and New York Magazine, the 32 year-old ballerina is possibly the most visible face in the dance World since Baryshnikov. And my buddy Rob Smith asked me to put her on the cover of Arrive. Here’s the behind-the-scenes from our day at Bathhouse Studios

Since we knew we would have relatively limited time with Misty, Rob and I had worked up our ideas for…

View original post 381 more words