Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Review - D4 Denman Brush

It was cold December day shortly after Christmas and I was off from work. I decided to log onto twitter to touch base with some of my new followers and to reconnect with others. There were also a few people and organizations that I was interested in following. One of them was Curly Canadians. A Canadian based hair product creator and distributor.  Later that day I received a tweet from them, informing me that I had won a D4 Denman brush from them for becoming their 200th follower. I was so excited, especially since a Denman brush was also on my holiday hair wish list. What a pleasant and generous surprise.

A few days later I got my Denman brush in the mail. While I waited for the brush, I decided to do a little research online to find out how most Curlies were using the brush on 4a-4b hair like mine. Some used it to detangle while others only used it to distribute product through their hair. I decided to do the latter of the two, since I was not interested in unnecessary damage or breakage.
After using my Denman brush for the last month I can truthfully say, that I am extremely impressed with the tool. First of all let me say it does not matter if I’m styling with shea butter, Jane Carter’s Curl Defining Cream or Eco Styler gel, the curl definition is OFF THE HOOK. I was amazed. I didn’t even know my hair could curl like that. The only con is what often comes with defined curls - SHRINKAGE. You really have to decide what works for you.
For me personally I know my Denman will be a part of my styling regime on a regular basis. If I want a more stretched out twist-out, I may just stick with my width tooth comb, but that depends on my vibe that day.
TIP: As with everything else you use on your hair, be gentle and let the brush work for you. Do not tug or pull your hair through the brush. Slowly start from your end and gradually work your way up you’re the section you are working on. See below a video from on youtube. She does a good demo of how you can use the brush that I found helpful. I hope you do too:

I would recommend this product to other Canadian Curlies out there.   
Blessings and Curls,

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Celebrity Canadian Curlie - Anne-Marie Woods

It is my great pleasure to feature Anne-Marie as my first Celebrity Canadian Curlie. I first met Anne-Marie when I was in high school and she became our Cultural Awareness Youth Group leader. Her career has expanded so much since then and she touches people in many different ways through her craft. She  also happens to be a teenager in curlie years  - enjoy her riveting story below:

Anne-Marie Woods, founder of Imani Enterprises, spoken word artist, singer, actress, mentor to name a few .

Toronto, Ontario / Nova Scotia

First year of curlieness:
I went natural in 1997

Why I went curlie:
I went to Philadelphia to do a residency at Freedom Theatre an African-American theatre and theatre school. In many ways my nine months at Freedom Theatre shaped much of my life today. I went there to take an August Wilson Advanced Acting Class, and I was teaching Senior Theatre and Assistant Director on a production. It was an amazing and life-changing experience in many ways.

Having the opportunity to learn and teach in an all Black environment. I was surrounded by beautiful sistas with afros, twists, cornrows, fades, locks, and almost every natural style you could imagine. Everyone was so beautiful. I can’t say that before living in Philly that I thought about going natural at all.

See I was the child of the jeri curl. I started with TCB in the 80’s and graduated to Carefree Curl and then I was a Wave Nouveau woman for life; I swear. I tried a relaxer once when I was about 14, but the lady burned my scalp terribly and so I became a slave to jeri curl juice. When I needed a break from the curl, I would get extensions in my hair.

Anne-Marie with afro kinky twists.

So now, here I was in Philly surrounded by the most amazing and beautiful natural women. I found myself asking people different questions about their hair; especially Ayanna who specialized in Nubian Knots and twists and a short afro or whatever style she decided to do that day. Her hair was short, but so versatile. I was in Philadelphia for nine months and by then end of my time there, I came back to Nova Scotia and went natural. It’s been 14 years since I made this liberating move and I have no regrets, but because I have a lot of hair and I do everything myself I do sometimes dream of a fade.

Regime and products:
My regime is an interesting one. When I first went natural I cut all my processed hair off. It was quite short. I pretty much do the same things now as I did then twist and twist-outs, twists and twist-outs. I like Ayanna the sister I admired don’t rock the same natural hair style daily. For instance for one of my shows I may pick my hair out into a bit curly twisty afro, then the next day wear my hair twisted and pulled back, or I leave it twisted for a few days and then open the twists; I love that look. I also blow dry and flat iron my hair sometimes and then twist it and put it in rollers, for that special look.  That is what I call my 18 hour hair style…it lasts for about 5 hour or so. That’s when I feel like Blackarella – like the Cinderella of hair. Like the time I rocked that style on one of my birthdays and then went out dancing, and half of my hair turned into an afro. Luckily I had a barrette with me – to pull my hair up into one. Cause the ½ curly and ½ afro style was not cutting it for me.
Anne-Marie rocking her 18 hour hair a.k.a. Blackarella.

When I first went natural I was asking so many people and doing research about products for natural hair. I used everything from Mane and Tail to Dark and Lovely which dried out my hair completely, to some type of shampoo that was supposed to be for natural hair. I am sure there are many more products now, but back in the late 90’s every shampoo that I bought for my hair cost quite a bit and made my hair as hard as sandpaper on a sunny day. I have a friend with locks and I remember telling her my plight and she was like “Girl I just use wheat germ and honey shampoo from Shoppers Drug Mart.”  That gave me an idea… I began to try regular shampoos. So, after much trial and error, I now use Dove shampoo for dry and damaged hair (this works really good on Black hair and does not make it brittle or hard), and I love the Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil hair products. I use the ORS Olive Oil conditioner which costs about $6.99.  If I want to deep condition my hair because I dye my hair auburn, I put conditioner in my hair the day before and leave it in before dying it. This has kept my hair soft and it’s never been damaged by the hair dye.  I just use Nice 'n Easy dye because many of the dyes for Black hair damaged my hair and made it very dry. Are we noticing a trend here?  As far as keeping my hair oiled and healthy, I used Natty Jojoba Oil and I have been using that since 1997 it costs $2.99 and you can get it at any Black Hair Product Store in the states. I put that in right after washing. I also use the ORS Olive Oil cream in my hair right after washing. Outside of that I use hair food now and then, and that’s about it.  Nothing I use in my hair costs a lot of money and the products last for a long time.  When I started this journey though I spent a lot of money on products just trying to figure out what works well with my hair.

The best part of being curlie for me is:

The best part of being natural for me is being versatile, and I love the look of my hair. It’s just liberating. It’s like I emancipated my hair! For me this is not a fad obviously, because it’s been 14 years now.  I like to rock different styles, and my hair is long enough now that I can just pull it back into one.  Or I twist it and open, twist and curl, wear a bit Foxy Cleopatra afro, or when I need a break in the summer I put in afro kinky extensions. I prefer the afro kinky twists, because they look just like my real hair.  So it’s simple when I feel like locking my hair, I put in the afro kinky twists. When I yearn for a fade or to cut off my hair, I pull it back into one. When I want it to be a bit more manageable then the ceramic blow dryer and flat iron are there for me. If I really want a straight style then I can do that too. The other thing is I do everything myself including my extensions, so unlike many of my friends I am not paying a fortune at the salon. Yes it takes time and planning sometimes to do this hair of mine, but I don’t mind.  I love my hair!
Anne-Marie at a recent spoken word performance in Nova Scotia.

What professional projects are you working on:

I just finished producing a show at Young Peoples Theatre (YPT) in Toronto called, Word Up it was a spoken word and theatre showcase called, Why I Write and it was phenomenal Word Up is a youth spoken word and theatre program that I developed for YPT.  Presently I am in Halifax, Nova Scotia in a hotel room getting ready to perform at the Word Iz Bond Poetry Series and then in a few days I will be the MC and guest performer for the Nova Scotia Mass Choir’s 20th Anniversary of The Dream Continues Tribute to Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King … then I am back in Toronto and I am the writer and poetic narrator for Tribute a show that is paying tribute to African Canadian Choreographers past and present. It’s being put on by Dance Immersion and it is for me it is one of the pinnacles of my career.  I also do work in schools and will be working on a Spoken Word Anti Bullying project at Queen Victoria Public School and then also working on a big Spoken Word Conference and Showcase for 2013. 

If you would like more information about Anne-Marie and Imani Enterprises feel free to visit her website:www.imanicreativeconsulting.com.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Featured Curlie - Bridget

Bridget, but better known as simply Bee :) from '83 To Infinity

London, ON (shout out to my fellow UWO Mustangs!)

First year of curlieness:
After transitioning for a year, I finally started rocking my curls in August 2008.

Bee when she was relaxed

Why I went curlie:
I had been lucky all my life to have a healthy head of hair. I started begging for a relaxer when I didn't understand why my hair wasn't like my classmates', and Mom finally obliged me when I was 12. In the 10+ years that followed, I thought my hair was indestructible. Through routine relaxers and indulging in different hair colours, I took great care of my hair and it seemed to flourish...until one day when I realized that my hair was breaking off and not growing back. I remember looking at one woman's pitiful, scraped-back, thin ponytail...and realized my hair looked JUST LIKE THAT. I ended up looking back at photos of my thick, healthy natural hair and started investigating how I could get back to that. 

Bee after her big chop

Regime and products: When I first started wearing my hair naturally, I tried almost any and every product under the sun..name the brand and I tried it. For my hair and lifestyle, I've now found that simpler is better. 

Bee in all her curly glory

I co-wash/detangle about every two weeks with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, then usually set my hair in 10-20 twists using a mix of shea butter and jojoba oil. I either leave them in for a few days, or undo them once dry. For a leave-in or to refresh my curls, I use a bit of water and either my Hello Hydration or coconut oil. When I feel my hair needs it (I'm terrible at forced schedules), I deep condition with Elasta QP's DPR-11, and mix it with honey, EVOO, and jojoba oil.

Right now, I'm addicted to Oyin Handmade's Burnt Sugar Pomade, which I use or everything from twisting, to slicking down edges, to smoothing my hair when pulling it into a bun. I try other products here and there, but I'm trying to keep it simple these days :)

The best part of being curlie for me is:
The versatility! All I knew of my natural hair before was the plaits my mom would put in them, and the single braids I would get done for a treat every now and then. Had I known what my hair was capable of then, I probably never would have relaxed. Wet sets, dry sets, Bantu knots, twists, braids, flat irons...everything gives me a different look, and my hair is the healthiest it's ever been!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Protecting your Tress

So we officially have a month and a half of winter to content with. I must say here in Toronto, we cannot really complain about the cold weather we’ve been receiving. Winter has been quite nice to us - so far so good!
That is not to say that protective styling is not important. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this type of styling, it basically means styling your hair in ways that protects it from our harmful environments (cold and dry winter air, blustery winds, and even scorching heat). As you can see, protecting your hair is something that you should really be doing throughout the year, and even more so if you live in a cold climate in the winter.
Many naturals claim that protective styling not only keeps their curls looking lush, but has also helped them retained length. This makes perfect sense to me. If you are not manipulating your hair on a regular basis and keeping it moisturized then one would hope and pray that their curls would be in love and stay around longer.
As you know I love twist outs, well I decided that for at least the first three days of the week, I plan to rock my twists and my beanie. I will be sticking to my deep conditioning bi-weekly.  I have to say one of my favourite Youtubers, is Mahoganyknots, she does amazing protective styles. Check her channel out when you have a chance.

What protective styles will you be rocking or what are your favourites? 

Blessings and Curls,

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Approaching Anniversary

So my one year anniversary of my semi-big chop is on February 19. I have a few things running through my mind about what I'm going to do, but I'd like your feedback? What did you Curlies do for your one year anniversary or special hair milestones?

As of right now I'm considering the following:

  • Straightening (not sure how yet - I don't want any heat damage) 
  • Going out to dinner with a few Curlie friends to celebrate
  • Trying a new product
  • Or treating myself to my first salon visit since transitioning

As you can see my list is short, but that's not to say that it isn't important to me. To be honest, the time went by so quickly, I've had no time to really think about it. So hit me up by commenting and share your ideas. I'm excited about my 1st hair b-day!!

Blessings and Curls,