Monday, November 28, 2011

Naturalista's In The Military

 One of the reasons I wanted to attend last weeks expo in Kileen, was to see how many women in the military were wearing their hair chemical free and to assess the need for a natural hair stylist in the area.  I kept thinking if I were in the military, with such a huge responsibility of defending our country, would I even care about my hair?...and if I did, would I have time to take care of it the way I am able to now. Many enlisted soldiers and spouses are stationed abroad and have very little to no access at all to natural hair  products.  My love of hair care really made my heart sink at the thought of being in the military and not having access to products, what would I do?  I reached out to my pretty haired friend Victoria Teets who is the wife of an enlisted soldier currently stationed overseas.  She provided me with some insight on her healthy hair journey and some things she deals with being in the military. 

 Tell us a little bit about yourself:
 I am originally from Texas, currently living in Germany. I am the youngest of two girls. My husband is active duty military, & comes from a military dominant family. I practice Occupational Therapy, as well as a loving Mother to my son.
This time last year I gave birth to my handsome baby boy! I instantly began to experience post partum hair loss and excessive shedding. I masked the issue the best I knew how, as my hair was falling and breaking off right in the front. I cut bangs, wore side swept do’s...you name it, I tried it.
I remember watching a Dr.Oz show in Spring 2011 when he mentioned relaxers being extremely harmful and Black women should be relaxer free. I thought he had lost his mind! But as I listened, it all began to make sense!  My hair had always been thin in some areas & just limp and lifeless. I always desired fullness, but about 3 post relaxer I was back to limp & lifeless.  I was never aware of how much relaxers thin out the hair strands.  That show led my curiosity to YouTube.  I began watching videos & tutorials about caring for natural hair.  It really peaked my interest, but I just couldn’t do it.  So, I left the thought alone…for a while.  Around June the shedding and hair loss had not stopped.  I went to various dermatologists who verified, it was indeed due to post pregnancy hair loss & it would grow back eventually.  I noticed that when I relaxed, the thin areas were left nearly bald areas, which became terrifing so I prepared my husband.  I told him I would not relax my hair again in fear of being left bald. I have never had a bad relaxer experience and wasn’t ready to gamble with my hair.  I began to wear lace wigs, I did not use glue or tape, as I wanted to preserve as much of my hair line as possible.  Managing the two different textures was horrible for me.  On top of the shedding, my hair began to break horribly.  So, in September I decided to BC!  No one believed I would do it because I have always loved my hair but I believed what’s the point of having long hair if it is not healthy. I prepared myself mentally and emotionally and made the appointment...the rest is history!  I love my hair, short or not, its mine, I have claimed it, and I love it! I have not looked back.  My goal for my journey is HEALTHY HAIR! Of course who doesn’t want length? But I crave full, healthy hair.
2. How did you end up being in the military (in your case a military spouse). Where are you currently stationed? If overseas how do people react to your natural hair? My husband rejoined the military after we were married, I was in college and he was active duty. We are currently in Germany, hoping for a new duty station soon…very soon, lol.
There are actually many naturals here in Germany, so my decision to BC was not looked down upon, but I do get the occasional stares due to how short my hair is since the BC. It bothered me at first, but now I couldn’t care less. I feel free! My hair is so much more relaxed now!
3. Tell us about  your hair care regimen...shampoos, conditioners, fav style and products used. Since I am currently still at the mini TWA stage (about 2.5 inches) my go to hair style is a wash-n-go. Although I don’t actually wash-n-go. I recently started experimenting with accessories & hats.
I am a certified product junkie, lol But at the moment my regimen is pretty stable. I shampoo & deep condition weekly (Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla line) ACV rinse once a week (on wash day or mid-week).  Moisturize & Seal twice daily, using water, a water based moisturizer, then my Shea Butter mixture, and a hint of Aragon oil or Vatika oil for shine. For my water based moisturizer I use SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. To define my curls I use my homemade flaxseed gel… which I love! Once a month I do an avacado & coconut milk deep conditioner, & my hair loves this as well!!  At night I moisturize as usual with the smoothie & shea butter, then I seal with Jamaican Black Castor oil. I also massage the JBCO into my edges as well nightly.  I usually only co-wash once a week, sometimes two. When I do I use Avalon Organics Peppermint conditioner or Suave Naturals in coconut.
4. What are some issues you face obtaining natural hair styling services and products if stationed over seas include shipping issues and prices. If stationed in the States, include styling restrictions for enlisted females. The biggest issue I face with products availability is the shipping! Many, many, many sites do not ship overseas. Now even if one is stationed in Korea or Germany, it is still considered the U.S. because we are U.S. territory (government). Even with that being said many companies do not ship to us. Generally, when using your U.S. military address you are charged priority shipping and I usually receive my products in 1-2 weeks. When I find things that I must have & cannot get around the shipping issue, I simply ship to a family member, and have them mail it to me. There is a way around everything…you may have to pay a little more, but there is a way.
There are products on the German economy here such as Aloe Vera juice/gel, & select essential oils that can be purchased if shipping is an issue with those items.
5.What are some things those who are civilian Naturalistas can do to make your journey easier when stationed overseas (product drives, YT tutorials for regulated styling, stylists contracting with the
Government to provide on base salons?)
If we didn’t have access to You-tube here in Germany… I don’t know what my hair would look like right now! LoL There are some really great people on YT, that offer great advice and tips to Natural sistas! Too many to name them all, but I have my faves and Facebook is also a life saver. There are many natural hair groups/bloggers there as well that offer wonderful advice & style tips.
I absolutely love to see various groups/organizations having product drives for the naturals that are deployed. It is hard enough purchasing products overseas in general, so being deployed makes it that much harder. Not to mention what the extreme heat does to their hair, plus the inability to keep a stable regimen sometimes. So product drives are a definite plus. Having a natural stylist on post is something I would LOVE to see! There is a definite need for this service. Because not everyone can do African American hair and surely not everyone can style Natural African American hair. Fingers crossed on that one.  I am sure many enlisted Naturals would love to see that happen as well.
6. Do you feel men in the military respect women who wear their hair naturally? What have been one of your experiences in dealing with your enlisted peers/ spouses? I have not personally encountered any of these issues, but there are many natural spouses here in Germany. So many to where they have formed a new Natural Hair Group! We are on face book listed under: “My Crown N’ Glory-Naturals” As well as a natural hair salon that is American owned, which hosts Natural Hair meet-ups annually & sells some natural product lines. So there are a few support options for us Naturals way over here  ~The curls don’t define the girls~ ;0)
7. What is the most positive experience you have had being a Naturlista who is enlisted or spouse of an enlisted soldier? What impact do you hope embracing your natural hair has on others? The most positive experiences I have while being natural & a military spouse is going to various military functions and have my husband tell me “You look pretty” or “I don’t care what people think about your hair.”  His support throughout my journey has helped me a great deal.   I have always had a nice length of hair framing my face, so to not have hair at least ear length was a huge adjustment for me. I have since embraced and accepted the new me. I love my hair, and wouldn’t go back to relaxers if I were paid to do so.
8. Anything you would like to add in closing? Quotes, poems, enlighting passages? Prayers for others? Our hair is unique, unique in the sense that no other culture has kinks or curls like ours! I say embrace your natural kinks and curls. Embark on a healthy hair journey, because African American hair DOES grow!!


To all the enlisted Naturals and military spouses, being natural and stationed overseas can be challenging. Utilize the support that is available via internet and search for sites that will ship to us. There are plenty...Good luck & Best Wishes! Happy Holidays!

I heard you LOUD n' CLEAR Victoria...I'll be sure to make sure I participate in the next product deployment drive in my area.  I'm also working on getting more information about how to become a stylist on base for Naturalistas like you.  It would be my pleasure to give back for all the sacrifices you and other enlisted soldiers/spouses do to make life here in the States a better place.  I appreciate all of you!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy 2B Nappy Expo, Killeen, TX

 Luvina Ann Norwood-Sabree (center) founder of Nappy Headers meet up group in Kileen, TX

Last week I took a short road trip to Kileen, TX to attend another natural/health hair expo in Texas.  One of the things I hoped was that I'd see vendors  I didn't at the previous expo I attended.  There were plenty.  I had such a great time.  Here's a recap of my trip to Kileen...

Struck by so much beautiful brown beauty as soon as I walked in...as well as the Shea Moisture booth right at the entrance.

Goodies by Shea Moisture...


I stopped by to speak with Photographer Larry J. Stephens CEO of EncoreHD Hair Magazine come to find we were already friends on FB. EncoreHD Hair Magazine will feature natural hair styles and will be visiting Dallas, early 2012...I'm already signed up to participate!


Here's a booth I was happy to see again....these are the lovely Ladies of Lock Couture.  As I browsed earrings at her booth the pretty Sis (I forgot her name) standing in the center of the photo below approached me and thanked me for mentioning and showing her work in the last expo post.  That was sweet...feels good to know she got a chance to see it.
I love it!!
Shea goodies...I regret not taking a pic of the name of this booth but it was packed full of shoppers...I had to get in where I fit in just to get his shot.  


I love incense!! I used to make them back in the day so I stopped and spoke with the owner for a bit.  I tested a few scents and with the help from the owner, some he liked, some I liked, we both settled on Touch by Burberry.  Been wearing it ever since...it's niiiice...

MaX Oil and Incense Kileen, TX

I just love this Sisters Artwork...I didnt get her info...big regret.

It was cute seeing all the little ones walking around with their faces painted :o)

I learned A LOT at this booth, My Divine Delivery.  This Sister, Myquel Bender blends teas customed made with herbal combinations from customers request or she can suggest blends based upon what your own personal needs are.  I stood around and listened as she enlighted other visitor on an herb used for female mood elevating...you could'a heard a pin drop.

You can find My Devine Delivery online [HERE]


Beautiful Melissa owner of The Urban Rose home accesories....

 I'm a sucker for pretty packaging...Thanks Melissa!

You can check out more from or place orders from Urban Rose.com [HERE]



I HAD to patonize this Sister.  It was love at first sight with her long pretty loc's and she sold the prettiest pure horn jewelry I'd seen in awhile.  The company is called Earthbalisms.  Offering product from fair trade, natural, a nd sustainable resources. Handmade soaps, bath bombs and more...for more info about Earthbalism products go [HERE]



...and of course I stood around this booth for a minute. I stood in awe at her speed, again, when grooming this Sisters loc's watching  Malaika Tamu-Cooper owner of Dreads N' Heads Salon in Baltimore, MD.  She also held a workshop during the expo.



Where there's henna...there's me...had to stop and get mine in... ;O)

Cute!


Riyike Jewels by Anike Faleti...so pretty.  You can check out more of her designs when you visit her webiste [HERE]


400 Years Without A Comb showed on the big screen...nice.
I didn't catch this Brotha's name but he was the MC announcing the preformers and had major jokes..I was rollin'. 

You can tell his hands were movin'!!..and lil' mama's too.


Black is so beautiful.

I didn't attend any of the workshops but I'm they were awesome and very informative.  I stood in the lobby and on looked at the Sista's waiting for the next class.

I just love long loc's....

...and so I decided since I was in a city I'd never visted before which happened to me just next to the largest Army base in the world, I decided to walk around a bit.


 Enjoying the Artwork posted in the lobby of the Convention Center....


I stopped and picked up a few brochures just in case I return and need to know whats poppin' in Kileen ;o)
 On to Fort Hood. Luckily I was rolling with a friend who is an Army Vet and I was able to go on base.  I was hoping I'd run into a few Naturalistas on base...and I did...passed out a few cards.
 Army Headquarters


 Expo Hair Do...super simple.

Courtesy of EncoreHD


HHG!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Highlights from Nappiology Expo 2011

Me, Keisha Ricks of Nappy Bliss Hair Salon in DeSoto, TX, Ansylla Ramsey of My Hairitage Salon in Clinton, MD and De Phillips Johnson founder of Nappiology, Inc.

This was my 2nd time to have the pleasure of attending the Nappiology Expo and I was amazed at how Nappiology Inc founder De Phillips Johnson was able to out do last years event.  This year Nappioloy added a pre-expo meet and greet event called Nappy Hour held at the Aloft Hotel, Irving,TX.  I appreciated her holding this event because it gave attendees and vendors the opportunity to network and offered plenty of drink specials...even a signature Nappiology drink!  It was great!!!


During Nappy hour I met so many wonderful people. One of them was a friend from Facebook Darnel Sanders who recently contacted me about a novel titled, Internal Vanity by Antonio Wingfield.  The book is juicy and is about 4 adopeted sisters (with natural hair) from a small town in North Texas, thats all I needed to know, I bought a copy! I cant wait to sink my teeth into it! Natural hair drama begins, ;o)

I left Nappy Hour with TONS of samples...My clients will love these!! 


I was so excited to attend this year.  I'd learned of all the great vendors who were scheduled to be in attendance and all the workshops that were going to be held this year.  Heres my recap of my day at the 2011 Nappiology Expo....

This years expo was held at the Hurst Convention Center in Hurst, TX...the place was HUGE!! I paid my $10 entry and received my welcome bag full of goodies!!

The Lobby

The entrance
As I entered through the expo doors the very first booth is shown above.  It stayed busy, and the staff behind the booth worked diligently to answer questions by consumers.  I was impressed.

Natural Hair pics everywhere!


Pure and Healthy Hair Salon's booth offered complimentary make~up!!

Great things happening at the Aveda booth!

My FB friend LaTonya Lewis of Aveda demo's a hair product for someone.

I stopped at the DevaCurl booth and ended up staying there for a good 20 minutes.  I was happy to meet the woman in this photo Angie Damiani of David Dalton Salon.  She trained in NYC at the Deva Chan Salon (owned by author of Curly Girls Lorraine Massey) and had tons of pics she shared with me of her clientele...all Black women!!! She shared that as long as heat, color, or any other harmful chemicals are on being placed on our hair there is no need to cut 6-8 weeks. I have known this for years and totally agreed with her.  with that said I will be booking my appt with her for January 2012 for a nice reshape!
Ansylla Ramsey owner of My Hairitage Salon in Clinton, MD offered her services and again, another packed booth!


 I had the pleasure of meeting the Sister wearing the twists and the tan vest to the right of the photo the night before at Nappy Hour and we exchanged business cards.  I will definitely be checking out the Amazing Botanicals natural hair care line.



 DJ Francis Jay of Neo~Soul Cafe' spinning on the ones n' two's lol...it was great having great music to listen to while walking around the expo!

 Another booth offering hair services...this Sister was getting a scalp massage.


 Riyike JewelsbyAnike Faleti


I love it!!!


 My beautiful Facebook Friend, Designer Shoe Diva, Cassandra Russell...



Of all the photo's I'd taken at the expo, this on is hands down my favorite and the most meaningful.  I was walking around when this beautiful Natualista, LaKeisha approached me.  She didnt know my name but she definitely knew my blog.  She eagerly shared that LuvMyKynxx helped her care for her hair better and that she refers all of her friends family and anyone who asks her about natural hair to LMK blog.  She was sooooo sweet words cannot express.  Her hair was shiny with big defined healthy curls.  I felt proud and thanked her for her support....God is Great!!!


The beautiful Ms. Jane Carter of Jane Carter Solution hair care products.  Her booth also stayed packed. When I took the photo she comment to me " I feel like such a Celebrity"...my response was..." you are".  She is such a pretty woman.



I was happy to see natural hair Tee-Shirt designer B Naptural Apparel.  I had to buy one, too cute!! 






Exquisite loc designs by Lock Couture





This was my favorite booth.  I know, I know...has nothing to do with HAIR but, it had everything to do with spirit.  The owner of this booths merchandise hand paints Bible scriptures on rocks, plants, totes, and just about anything.  I had to buy one she had already made below:


This is my favorite...my eldest sons name is Jeremiah and my birthday is 11/29...God spoke loud and clear ;o) and I'm livng his  plan each day I rise!

This was another great booth...massages were offered to relax us Naturalistas while shopping.



I thought this dress was cute...well actually the brown one behind it which was a halter...I didnt buy it and now regret it. Online is still an option!
 Another Salon representing loc styling.

 Another jam packed jewelery booth...
I love to support local black owned beauty supply stores!!
Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed this years Nappilogy Expo and look forward to attending next year and every year!! I walked away with a few goodies and tons of business cards.


Expo Hair and Outfit...





HHG!