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With the best articles on caring for natural hair, Curly Nikki is your source for inspiration and advice. Find out about the latest styles and trends today!

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     by Kanisha Parks of

    To be honest with you, I had no idea what “natural hair” was. It was foreign, but eye-opening, the idea of not getting relaxers anymore- something I had been doing since I was eight years old. To my understanding, a relaxer was just something every young black girl did. The best thing about getting a relaxer was not having to endure stomach-turning braiding sessions or ear-singeing pressing comb experiences with my mother anymore. Relaxed hair was easier, more convenient, and just all-around better: or so I thought.

    Read On!>>>
    Fast forward 10 years and my 18-year-old self has a remarkable revelation: my hair had never surpassed shoulder length and had been neck length for over five years. Not to mention it was dull, broken, lifeless, thin, and terrible looking. I felt like I was completely out of options. I had been to countless stylists/salons, had more than enough “trims” that turned into full-blown haircuts, and I simply just wasn’t happy with my hair.

    In June 2009, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and began a healthy hair journey. I went on a no-heat challenge and started stretching my relaxer for 10-12 weeks. I learned about deep conditioning and properly moisturizing the hair, amongst other things. In only three months time, my hair had made significant progress. It was healthier and longer, shiny instead of dull, and I could actually do some cute styles with it. I felt hopeful about my hair for the first time in a long time.

    It was around October 2009 when I first heard about going natural from one of my cousins. I was completely opposed to it at first because I felt like I finally had a routine that was working for me, and because the whole idea seemed a bit radical. But after researching natural hair and seeing all the beautiful pictures of women who were doing twistouts and wash and gos and other styles, I started to get curious about the tiny curls growing from my scalp in between relaxers. I became convinced that going natural would be the healthiest decision for my hair.

    I started transitioning in December 2009 and pretty much wore my hair in flexi rod puffs. I got box braids installed in February 2010 and by June, curiosity got the best of me. What resulted was a two inch fro.

    Which resulted in this thought: “Why in the world did I just do that?”

    It was exciting, chopping off hair with the help of my sisters and my mom, but when that two inch fro stared back at me, I knew I had made a mistake. The “freeing” feeling that I’d heard so many other naturals describe never came. I had planned on transitioning for two years and now here I was looking like a child who got ahold of the scissors.

    Everywhere I went, I was wondering what people were thinking. I wasn’t confident at all and I didn’t feel like myself, which was the worst feeling of all. I had done something just because everyone else was doing it, and now I had to face the consequences.

    So after a month of wearing my TWA in hopes of becoming comfortable with it (and failing), I started to learn how to install braids and twists, which became a protective style that would eventually become my method of choice to grow my hair.

    I’ve been natural for almost five years and my hair is now APL (I had a heat damage setback in 2012 but I’ve recovered!). But thinking back on the journey has caused me to ponder what the big chop really means. I see more long term transitioners now and truth be told, I wish I had been one of them. I would’ve saved myself the regret and the terrible pictures that will go down in the history of my life.

    Keep in mind this is my experience. The big chop was not for me.

    I asked myself, if you big chop down to a TWA and start wearing extensions, does it mean you don’t have any confidence? Or simply that you don’t like the way the short natural hair looks on you?

    And personally, I think that what matters is being confident in yourself because if you aren’t, it will show. It’s also important not to be concerned about what other people think. A lot of people told me that my TWA looked good but I actually thought they were lying because I didn’t believe it looked good myself. My hair is an accessory that I can change and adapt however I so very well please. I can cut it, throw in some extensions, weave it up, curl it, color it, or put a hat on it. But whatever I do with it, it has to be because it’s my decision and I’m comfortable. There’s no reason for me to walk around wearing my hair in a way that’s going to make me feel insecure. For what? For who?

    Please don’t get me wrong: I think the big chop looks absolutely stunning on so many naturals! This post isn’t intended to dissuade anyone from doing their big chop and/or wearing short natural hair. This is simply my experience. Going natural WAS the best decision for my hair; big chopping after only six months of transitioning was not. The truth is- short natural hair isn’t for everyone! But since becoming natural, my hair is healthy, it’s full, and it’s resilient. Even when I had my heat damage setback, my hair bounced back within a few short months. I love being natural! I love playing in my hair, discovering new styles, and navigating through this natural hair world with where so many women are able to share their own experiences and learn from one another. I wouldn’t trade it.

    Long story short: you shouldn’t do anything in life just because everyone else is or because someone told you it was a good idea if you haven’t weighed the options of how this will affect you because you’re the one who has to live with it, not them.

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    Tina Munzu writes:

    "I love a good updo. But what I love even more is an easy updo. This style is a perfect combination of both and will be great for work or play. No more stressing about your hair when he surprises you with a spontaneous date, or when your girls want you turning up with them. This style will also work great at a wedding. Check out the tutorial!

    Watch Now!>>>

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    It may have a strange name but it is a powerhouse of goodness and a great natural detangler for your tresses. Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is a small tree native to eastern Canada and eastern and central United States. Most commonly found in the Appalachian Mountains, it has a reddish brown truck with grayish white bark on the branches. The inner bark is where you will find its medicinal value, which is collected in spring from the bole of larger branches, dried, and powdered. For centuries Native Americans have used slippery elm as an herbal remedy for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, and skin inflammations. The University of Maryland Medical Center has also been used orally to relieve coughs, diarrhea, sore throats, and stomach issues. says it was not just used for medicinal purposes by the Native Americans, as it was also useful for building canoes, baskets, and shelter.

    Read On!>>>
    The powdered bark is sold in two forms: a coarse powder for use as poultices and a fine powder for making a mucilaginous drink. The powdered form turns into a very slippery gel when mixed with water to make mucilage. Mucilage is a thick, glutinous substance related to the natural guns and is usually comprised of proteins, polysaccharides, carbohydrates, hexose, pentose, and methylpentose.

    • Calcium helps to strengthen the body and hair.
    • Amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, encourage the growth of strong, healthy hair. They create red blood cells, which in turn deliver nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles. 
    • Iodine is important in a properly functioning thyroid gland, and an iodine deficiency is a common cause of hair loss among women. According to the University of Michigan Health Systems, hypothyroidism cause by iodine deficiency may result in dry, coarse hair.
    This slippery substance is highly effective in hair care, especially for curlies, as it is an amazing natural detangler. With the high content of procyanidins, nutrients, fatty acids (oleic acid and palmitic acid), and plant sterols, this wonder is an asset to our tresses. With the aid of water, slippery elm can move between hair fibers, where the slimy consistency makes the strands more slippery. Once in between the hair strands, mucilage temporarily weakens strand cohesion and allows the strands to glide effortlessly pass each other. This allows for easier separation and removal of shed hairs.

    Slippery elm is great as a water-based leave-in conditioner, moisturizing hair cream, and a detangling spray. With the procyanidins, slippery elm improves the strength of hair and makes it tensile. The inner bark is great for treating dry, dull, and damaged strands. It is used for removing dandruff, making hair smoother, and adding volume. If you are really into DIY then you would love these recipes below:

    Slippery Elm & Marshmallow Root Leave-In For Fine Hair
    -1 tbsp. slippery elm
    -3 tbsp. marshmallow root
    -3 cups distilled water
    -1 tbsp. aloe vera gel
    -15 drops lavender essential oil
    -15 drops lemongrass essential oil
    -20 drops vitamin E oil

    Combine the distilled water, slippery elm, and marshmallow root, and boil on low to medium heat for 15 min. Allow to cool and strain herbs. Fill 1/3 of spray bottle with distilled water and add strained herb mixture. Add aloe vera gel to the oils and shake well.

    DIY Leave-In Detangling Spray with Marshmallow Root & Slippery Elm

    Product recommendations

    Do you like slippery elm?

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    Tell us a little about yourself and your hair journey.
    My name is Rayven Adams. I’m from Foley, Alabama

    How long have you been natural? Have you always embraced your curls?
    I’ve been natural for 2 years and 2 months. I immediately embraced my curls .

    What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
    I big chopped on October 15, 2012. I felt basic. I always wore sew-ins, but I wanted to do something that I’d never done before.

    Read On!>>>

    How would you describe your hair?
    I would say that my hair is sponge-like. Some days it works for me and other days it doesn’t.

    What do you love most about your hair?
    I love that my hair is finally healthy. I’ve cut it, permed it, dyed it, fried it and it is finally healthy.

    What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
    The most memorable part of my journey was when I realized that I actually inspired a lot of women to embrace their natural hair. When I made the decision to big chop I was doing it for me. I had no idea that I would help anyone else feel comfortable.

    What are (or were) some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles or current dos’?My favorite style is the blowout because I love big hair.

    What have your experiences been as a ‘natural.’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
    I received so much negative feedback when I big chopped. I didn’t have any support from family nor friends in the beginning. I was told that my head was too big to chop. I was called a chia pet. My uncle made a whole party of people singing the soul glow song to me.

    What is your hair regimen?
    I don’t do as much as others. I’m a slightly lazy natural.  My favorite products to wash with are by Garnier Fructis . I love their shampoo, conditioner, leave in, and the heat protectant. My favorite product to help keep my blow outs moist is Santia’s Organic Butter. My hair stylist created her own product and my hair loves it. It can be purchased at

    What are some of your favorite natural hair websites,YouTuber’s, or blogs?
    Team Natural and Kinky Chicks would definitely have to be my favorite natural hair profiles. They’ve both been my “go to” profiles for styles and tips on maintaining my natural hair.

    Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words? 
    There will be good days and bad days. Just be patient. Don’t let any negative comments make you change your mind on returning natural. Do what’s best for you.

    Where can people find you for more information?
    Instagram – @r.symone._
    Facebook – Rayven Clay Adams

    Global Couture is trying to spread the word about embracing your natural hair. Love your HAIR, if it is wavy, curly, kinky or coily.
    See more at and Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
    Are you naturally fierce? Email us to share your hair journey

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    My problem, your problem, everyone's problem...

    Is that we think we are not supposed to have any problems.

    Read On!>>>

    We've been conditioned to avoid problems, mistakes and hardships. So when we struggle, we are not only dealing with the objective situation. We are also dealing with our emotional reaction to it and the belief that this struggle shouldn't be happening.

    But problems are not problems. They are experiences.

    Everything is an experience and everything is temporary. I've learned that if it's in my path, then it is part of my path and I've made up my mind to learn from every thing I encounter. All of it.

    Like when you are diligently trying to improve your financial situation and you get hit with an unexpected expense.

    Or when you have given love a chance just one more time, and that person betrays you or things just don't work out.

    Or when everything is going wrong and you don't know how you will recover and you get hit with even more bad news.

    Because problems are not problems. They are experiences.

    We have pleasant experiences and unpleasant experiences and everything in between. All of it is part of the human condition. And yet, we want our problems to go away. We want to hold on to our fear and our need to control, even when it makes us miserable.

    We don't want to face the unknown: "What if this never works out?", "What if I give my all and I still don't win?", "How much will I have to sacrifice?"

    When we decide to be open to life, we have to truly be OPEN to all the possibilities. This requires faith and surrender. It requires that we make the shift from valuing the outcome to valuing the journey itself -- even with all of its problems and uncertainties. Because through the problems, we become the being that we are here to be and we learn the lessons that we are here to learn.

    When we constantly resist the existence of our problems, we strengthen them and empower them to stay present in our lives. When we face them, it may be uncomfortable and it may take some time, but we get through them and see that we are stronger than we thought we were.

    This is how it usually goes when I have a problem...
    I beat myself up about it.
    I observe the beating up, the avoidance, the judgments I make about myself.
    I see that this resistance just perpetuates the pain.
    I see the possibility of softening my hardened outlook on this problem.
    I decide to face it. Make space for it. To feel whole in spite of it.
    I look for opportunities to grow from it.
    I look inside myself for the willingness to accept this problem as part of my path.
    I remember faith.
    I remember courage.

    As long as we are alive, we will always have problems. So how absurd of us to deny ourselves happiness until all of our problems are gone. That's a life sentence that we don't deserve and that will keep us from living in our purpose.

    Today, write down what you perceive to be your biggest problems. It doesn't matter if it's a bad credit score or a cancer diagnosis. Write about the discomfort, shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear, disappointment in dealing with these problems. Write how you have been causing yourself to suffer based on what you believe about these problems. Then, one by one face each problem -- and the challenges that come with it -- with open arms. Decide that you will be resourceful and brave and present with each one.

    I can't help but think about what Stuart Scott said a few months before he passed, "You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live."

    His words inspire me that no matter what I face, I rise above by how I stay in the light and I don't give up.

    We must face the scariest things with the bravest spirit.

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    Tonya Mckay writes;

    As we move into spring and summer — our favorite seasons for fun outdoor activities — we face challenges with our curly hair that are unique to the climate and activities.

    There’s no denying that the change in seasons can be tough on our hair care routines. Products and processes that were working so well suddenly seem to have the opposite effect. Often, at the heart of these issues is a change in the environmental moisture content (humidity). High humidity is especially harsh on curly hair.

    The reason for its susceptibility to humidity fluctuations lies in the physical structure of curly hair. Straight hair, undamaged by environmental or treatment factors, has a protective outer layer of cuticle scales that overlap and lie fairly flat against one another. Curly hair, even in very good condition, is much more porous because those cuticle scales do not always lie flat. This porosity allows more water to migrate out of curly hair into the environment in dry weather (not good), and also allows more moisture from the environment to migrate into the cortex of the hair strands in humid weather (also not good).

    Read on for tips and ingredient recommendations>>>
    Absorption of water into the hair from the environment works to disrupt hydrogen bonds between adjacent hairs, which can diminish curl clumping and definition and lead to flyaway hair and a frizzy appearance. This absorption of moisture can also cause the hair shaft to swell and ruffle up the cuticles a bit, which can lead to tangling, an unpleasant overall texture, and more frizz. Hair strands swollen with water, and with ruffled cuticles because of water absorption, are also more delicate, and can more easily be damaged or broken.

    Absorption of water from the air into the central core of each hair strand is much more pronounced in hair that has even greater porosity because of raised or damaged cuticles. Chemical treatments, such as coloring and perming, as well as the use of thermal styling tools (hair dryers, hot rollers, curling irons) or rough combing or brushing, frequent exposure to sunshine, and even tossing and turning in our sleep can all damage these cuticles and increase the porosity of curly hair.

    The process also occurs to a greater extent if the hair needs hydration. For this reason, it is very important to maintain hair in the best condition possible at all times, but especially in warm and humid weather. In warm, wet weather, keep your hair very well-moisturized and use a good leave-in conditioner, but try to avoid using products that include humectants (glycerin) in their ingredients, as these can aggravate problems with humidity-induced frizz. Styling gels seem to perform better in this type of weather than mousse. The polymer styling agents in gels form a nice protective film around the hair, which helps maintain the style throughout the day.

    Curly hair tips for lovely summer locks:
    • Trim hair regularly
    • Avoid using thermal drying and styling techniques
    • Gently finger comb or use a wide-toothed comb on wet hair that is saturated with conditioner
    • Be selective about chemical treatments on the hair — minimize the frequency of such processes
    • Avoid frequent exposure to direct sunlight — wear a hat or use a leave-in product containing sunscreens for the hair
    • Use generous amounts of moisturizing products, both in the shower and as leave-in treatments. (This reduces diffusion of moisture into and out of the hair)
    • Consider using a low-viscosity, easily spreadable hair gel as your primary styling agent for the summer

    CN Says:
    I agree with the above.  I'd add-- 

    I’ve tried many a product that claimed to 'de-frizz' or 'weather proof' my hair. The only ones that work fairly well — which means my hair shrunk to my chin rather than my ears — contain silicones (amodimethicone) and polymers (PVP/VA Copolymer) in the first five ingredients. These ingredients help to create a barrier on your strands, locking moisture from your conditioner in and moisture from the atmosphere out. Ingredients like glycerin swell my highly porous strands and cause immediate reversion, so I avoid it like the plague in high dew point/humidity conditions.  One of my favorite summer stylers is Ouidad's Hydrafusion, it fits the above criteria. 

    Nicole Harmon, a wise cosmetic chemist from Hair Liberty once told me, “Products that contain hydrolyzed protein temporarily patch up some of the cuticle holes in porous hair. If African American hair doesn't get additional protein regularly, it will frizz out very quickly no matter what you do.” As a result, I now regularly use products that contain hydrolyzed proteins and do find that my humidity fighting products do a better job. 

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    Which anti-aging ingredients really work?
    When it comes to anti-aging products it’s easy to be tricked into spending a lot of money on products that aren’t worth it. That’s because there’s so much pseudoscientific misinformation out there about anti-aging cosmetic ingredients. Also, once you buy an anti-aging product, it takes you a long time to determine if it’s really working for you or not. That’s why we’re going to focus some of our podcast episodes on specific anti-aging ingredients, Today we’re talking about ceramides.  

    Read On!>>>
     What are ceramides?
    “Ceramide” is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around a lot in the beauty industry, especially with regard to anti-aging. But I’ve never seen a good explanation of what a ceramide is, what it really does, and what to look for in a product. That’s what we’re going to cover today, starting with a little chemical background…

    Ceramides are a special type of oily wax that’s naturally found in our skin (and other places.) In fact, the word ceramide comes from the Latin cera which means wax. Ceramides form a kind of water-proofing barrier in the upper layers of skin. They’re not only critical for helping skin retain water but they also help repair the skin’s natural barrier and regulate cells. Ceramide production dwindles with age which can result in dry skin, wrinkles and even some types of dermatitis.

    Did you know that newborn infants, especially premature ones, may be born with a waxy or cheese-like coating on their skin that prevents them from losing too much moisture? That coating is called the vernix caseosa and it is composed, primarily, of ceramides.

    Chemically speaking, ceramides consist of a long-chain or sphingoid base linked to a fatty acid. By the way, “sphingoid bases” were first discovered in brain fluid and they’re named after the Sphinx because the chemist who found thought them thought they had an “enigmatic structure.” Anyway, sphingoids make up about half of a ceramide. Therefore, ceramides are not a single thing – different types of ceramides can be made depending on which specific base and which fatty acid are combined. There are at least 9 different types of ceramides found naturally. To make things even more confusing there are not only ceramides but phytoceramides, psuedoceramides, and synthetic ceramides. So let’s define these before we go any further.
    • Ceramide: A waxy lipid that is occurs naturally in skin. It’s made by combining combine a fatty acid with a sphingoid base.
    • Phytoceramide: A ceramide made with a phytosphingosine (a special type of sphingosine found in yeast, plants and some mammalian tissues. Don’t get tricked by this because “Phyto” is a buzz word for made from plants so this sounds like a cool, green ingredient. In reality its sourced from yeast.)
    • Pseudo-ceramide: A lipid that has similar properties to a ceramide but which has a different structure. For example, Ceramide E is a pseudo-ceramide. Another example is Arachamide MEA. Pseudo-ceramides may be naturally occurring but typically are made synthetically.
    • Synthetic ceramide: A lab-created version of a ceramide found in nature.
    • For the most part, ceramides used in skin care are synthetic (whether they are true ceramides or pseudoceramides.) Ceramides can be sourced naturally but they are present at only low concentrations in plants and animals so naturally derived ceramides are expensive. And besides, based on what we’ve seen, it doesn’t matter if the ceramide is natural or synthetic as long as it has the right structure.
    Understanding ceramide nomenclature
    Understanding which ceramides are used in cosmetics is confusing because there are three different ways they can be named:

    1. The original INCI name which simply refers to each ceramide by a number.

    2. The revised INCI name (sometimes called the “Motta” system) which uses a three letter designation. The first letter is the type of amide-linked fatty acid. (N stands for Normal Fatty acid. A stands for Alphahydroxy fatty acid and O stands for Omega hydroxy fatty acid.) The second letter is the type of base. (S stands for Sphinogsine base, P stands for Phytosphingosine base and H stands for Hydroxysphingosine base.) If there’s an “E” in front of the two letters then that means it’s an ester linked fatty acid.

    3. Some times the chemical name of the ceramide is used (which doesn’t include the word ceramide at all.)

    What to look for on the label:
    Ceramide 1 = Ceramide EOS
    Ceramide 2 = Cermamide NS = N-stearoyl sphinganine
    Ceramide 3 = Ceramide NP = N-stearoyl phytosphingosine
    Ceramide 4 = Ceramide EOH
    Ceramide 5 = Ceramide AS
    Ceramide 6 = Ceramide AP = α-hydroxy-N-stearoylphytosphingosine
    Ceramide 6 II = Caproyl sphingosine
    Ceramide 7 = Ceramide AH
    Ceramide 8 = Ceramide NH
    Ceramide 9 = Ceramide EOP
    Ceramide E = Cetyl-PG Hydroxyethyl Palmitamide and Hexadecanamide

    Now that you know what ceramides are and how to spot them on your product labels, let’s talk about what these things really do for skin. Are they worth the hype?

    Ingested ceramides for skin
    We’re going to focus our discussion on topically applied ceramides but I want to quickly touch on ingested ceramides. If you’ve listened to our previous anti-aging spotlights on collagen and hyaluronic acid you know we looked at the data for ingesting those materials to help your skin. For ceramides there is SMALL amount of research that shows they can improve the skin barrier when swallowed. A company called Hitex that makes phytoceramide capsules conducted their own study that showed a “perceived” improvement in dry skin. Another study showed that taking 20mg or 40mg/daily for 3 weeks decreased transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and increased skin moisture content compared to a placebo. And, for what it’s worth, the FDA has published a paper which essentially says phytoceramides are safe to ingest and that they’ve never seen any problems from dietary supplements that contain them. That, however, doesn’t mean they’ve actually been proven to work. ”New Dietary Ingredient Notification: For Phyto-Derived Ceramides.” There just doesn’t seem to be as much as a push for ingestible ceramides like we’ve seen with collagen.

    Ceramides as topical moisturizers
    Overall, topical application is much better studied and that’s where the majority of interest is in the beauty biz so let’s get to that.

    As always we’ll be using the 3 Kligman questions as a framework: is there a scientific mechanism to explain HOW ceramides work? Do ceramides penetrate into the skin where they COULD work? And are there any legitimate studies on real people showing ceramides DO work?

    Is there a mechanism?
    It’s well understood that natural ceramides waterproof skin. Furthermore, we know they do this best when they’re combined with other oily materials in a specific ratio. The optimal mixture of 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids forms what are called “crystalline lamellar structures” which have unique moisture retaining properties. So yes, there is a mechanism for how ceramides benefit skin.

    Do they penetrate?
    Yes they do and it’s not surprising given that ceramides are “skin identical” lipids. This is not some foreign ingredient, it’s one that’s naturally present in the upper layers of skin. It’s been proven that topically applied ceramides can move into the upper layers of the stratum corneum by a method called tape stripping. We’ve talked about this method before – essentially it involves sticking a piece of tape on your skin, ripping it off, and then analyzing it for the ingredient that you’re looking for. Each time you do this you tear off a few more layers of skin cells so by repeated tape stripping you can get a sense of how far an ingredient penetrates into the stratum corneum. Here are two quick examples:

    Friend of the Brains Dr. Zoe Draelos published one such study. Cosmetics and Dermatologic Problems and Solutions, Third Edition By Zoe Diana Draelos. Another source confirms that finding but, interestingly, the degree of penetration may depend on what else is in the formula. The Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology says that without a glyceryl ether the ceramides weren’t any better than the placebo.

    Are there studies proving they work?
    There a numerous studies on the efficacy of ceramide creams but there are two problems to watch out for. First, a number of the studies are “open label” which means they’re not blinded and there’s no control. So even if they show that ceramide cream does work you can’t tell if the cream without the ceramides would have worked just as well! The second problem is that there are so many different types of ceramides, that can be used at different levels, in combination with so many other materials that’s it’s impossible to pinpoint a definitive study showing what works “best.” Despite these problems, though, the weight of the evidence makes it apparent that ceramides can be beneficial. We’ll cite a few example studies to give you a flavor of the work that’s been done.
    • A study published in the J Clin Exp Dermatol shows that topical ceramides not only repair the skin barrier but they actually protect it from future attack by surfactants. (This study was done on mice.)
    • A Japanese study shows that plant-derived ceramides improve skin moisture better than a placebo.
    • The Kao Corporation published a study showing that a cream containing 8% of Ceramide E improves water content of skin and symptoms of atopic dermatitis. But, ceramide cream wasn’t compared to any other product. So the test had no control and it wasn’t blinded. By the way, this 8% concentration shows up in a couple of studies and it’s MUCH higher than the typical use level of ceramides which is a few tenths of a percent.
    • According to the Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology, certain ceramide combinations are better than a placebo at repairing skin barrier function.
    • And a paper titled “Skin-identical lipids versus petrolatum” shows that ceramides work but they aren’t any better than petrolatum. They tested a blend of ceramide-3, cholesterol, oleic acid and palmitic acid and they say the lack of superiority may be due to a “suboptimal lipid mixture.” Again, it’s this notion that you have to have the right blend at the right ratio for ceramides to perform their best.
    There are many more of these studies so it appears there is ample evidence that ceramides really do work.

    Let me very quickly interject a note about a completely different approach. Instead of restoring ceramides you’ve lost, you can protect the ceramides you already have. There are enzymes in your skin called ceramid-ases that break down these lipids so if you can limit these enzymes theoretically you can keep more ceramides in your skin. I found one research paper on this topic and apparently it’s a little bit tricky because of the difficulty in sourcing these enzymes. Researchers can’t get them out of skin very easily so instead they get them from…get this…fecal extracts and nasal secretions.

    So, anyway, now that we know ceramides really work what does this all mean if you want to buy an anti-aging ceramide cream?

    How to pick the ceramide cream that’s right for you

    First, let me summarize why picking a ceramide cream is so complicated:

    1. There are many different types of ceramides. But at least most of them (at least the ones commonly used) appear to be beneficial to skin.

    2. Sometimes they’re beneficial because they are just providing an occlusive layer on the surface of skin that locks in moisture. If that’s the case, ceramides may work no better than conventional, less expensive ingredients like petrolatum.

    3. Other times they’re MORE beneficial because they’re penetrating and moisturizing from within. This means they may have a more prolonged effect compared to conventional ingredients. However, this seems to be the case only when the ceramides are combined with other materials like cholesterol and fatty acids. AND, they have to be combined in very specific ratios. For example, in skin the natural ratio is 3.6 to 1.2 to 1. We found one patented product that uses a ratio of 3:1:1. And who know what ratios other products use – but we do know it’s critical. Unfortunately we could find no side by side studies to prove which products are best. Which means that it’s very difficult for you to know if any given product is worth trying, especially if it’s expensive.

    So, if you want add ceramides to your anti-aging regimen, here’s what we recommend: Start cheap and work your way up. To help you get started, we’ll list a few products starting with the inexpensive ones that may only have a single ceramide followed by more costly ones that appear to contain the optimal blend of actives (hopefully at the right ratio.) Try the cheapest one first. If you don’t like the way that one makes your skin feel, go up to the next most expensive one and continue the process until you find one you like.

    **Product examples

    Curel Ultra Healing

    Cost: $0.45/oz

    Comments: You can’t beat the price but this Curel product only contains a single ceramide without the other critical ingredients.



    CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion

    Cost: $0.92/oz

    Comments: Impossible to tell for sure without seeing the formula but this one seems to offer the best blend of ingredients at the best price.

    Key ingredients: Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Cholesterol, Phytosphingosine

    Full ingredient list: Water (Purified), Glycerin, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methylsulfate/Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Dimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Polyglyceryl 3 Diisostearate, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Phytosphingosine, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum


    Cost: $8.80/oz

    Comments: An over the counter medication used to treat eczema.

    Key ingredients: Strangely the ingredient list just says “ceramide” without specifying which one. It also contains linoleic acid which is good but none of the other key actives.

    Full ingredient list: Active: Purified Water, Lanolin, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceramide, Glycerine, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Curcumin, Soybean Sterol, Linoleic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Stearic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Carnosine, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

    DHC Ceramide Cream

    Cost: $27.14/oz

    Comments: Even though this is called a ceramide cream it doesn’t appear to contain any actual ceramides. Go figure.

    Key ingredients: cholesteryl hydroxystearate, sphingolipids,

    Full ingredient list: water/aqua/eau, dipropylene glycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, squalane, stearic acid, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, lanolin, glyceryl stearate SE, pentylene glycol, sodium PCA, methyl gluceth-10, hydrogenated lecithin, batyl alcohol, cholesteryl hydroxystearate, phenoxyethanol, behenyl alcohol, dimethicone, tocopherol, serine, butylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, allantoin, sodium citrate, pyrus cydonia seed extract, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, phospholipids, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed rye phytoplacenta extract, sphingolipids, glycine soja (soybean) seed extract

    Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Lift and Firm Night Cream

    Cost: $42.35/oz

    Comments: This product appears to have all the right pieces but who knows if the ratio is correct. However, it’ll cost you!

    Key ingredients: Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Oleic Acid,

    Full ingredient list: Water/aqua/eau, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (shea butter), Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Isostearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Theobroma Cacao (cocoa) Seed Butter, Ceteth-20 Phosphate, Butylene Glycol Cocoate, Isodecyl Salicylate, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 Ii, Calluna Vulgaris Extract, Chondrus Crispus (carrageenan), Dioscorea Villosa (wild yam) Root Extract, Glycine Soja (soybean) Sterols, Hibiscus Abelmoschuss Seed Extract, Trifolium Pratense (clover) Flower Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Erythritol, Glycine Soja (soybean) Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Isohexadecane, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acetyl Octapeptide-3, Sodium Pca, Trehalose, Urea, Homarine Hcl, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hydrolyzed Potato Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Lecithin, Phospholipids, Phytosphingosine, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/vp Copolymer, Ceteth-20, Cholesterol, Oleic Acid, Oleyl Alcohol, Peg-100 Stearate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Dicetyl Phosphate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysorbate 60, Polysorbate 80, Polyquaternium-51, Ethylcellulose, Beta-glucan, Hexylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Thioctic Acid, Ubiquinone, Disodium Edta, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Parfum/fragrance, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Limonene, Linalool, Isopropylbenzyl Salicylate, Benzoic Acid, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid, Triacetin, Chlorphenesin.


    I don’t have the price for this one since it’s a prescription drug but it is approved for treating atopic dermatitis. We also know that it contains ceramide, linoleic acid, and cholesterol in the ratio of 3:1:1. It looks promising but you’ll have to ask your doctor for it.

    The Beauty Brains bottom line

    “Ceramides” refers to a class of ingredients which are waxy lipids naturally found in skin.

    Ceramides are good moisturizers but may be not better than regular lotions unless correctly formulated.

    The best formulas blend ceramides with cholesterol and fatty acids to replicate skin’s natural moisture barrier.

    To save money, start with the least expensive ceramide creams and work your way up until you find one you like.


    CN Says:
    This is not the first time we've discussed ceramides on CN.  Check out the below links to see how natural oils high in ceramides (like wheat germ oil) can help you to retain hair length! 

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    HappycurlHappyGirl writes:

    In this video, I show how I do my wash n' go's! I usually can get about 5 days of wear with my routine and it works for ME! I switch up my leave ins but I usually will always style with Eco Styler Gel! Hope you enjoy!

    Products used:

    -Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow and Restore Shampoo
    - Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner
    - Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in
    - Argan Oil Strengthen and Shine Leave-in
    - Aussie's Hair Insurance Heat Protectant

    Watch Now!>>>

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    Tell me about yourself!
    My name is Natrietia. Pronounced NA-TREE-SHA. Born and bred in So-Cal. I  am a wifey and mommy. Lover of people, language, fashion and art. I am a published author (The Lady's Rage), a poet, make up artist and a philanthropist at heart. I have received many gifts in this life and I'd like to spend my life giving what I have received.

    Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper? What was your journey like? 
    I big chopped. My journey to the big chop was quite easy actually. I grew tired of the expense, time and energy that it took to maintain relaxed hair. So after a couple months of wearing braids, I took them out and big chopped. It was the best decision I have made concerning my hair.


    Had you always embraced your texture? 
    Not as a child. I grew up in an era and to parents from an era that did not embrace "nappy" hair. As a teen, however, I big chopped before it was called that. I recall my dad saying to me that summer, "Do you want to get your hair done?" Apparently, my hair in its natural state looked undone. Ironically, I did get my hair done that summer and after the press and curl I received my hair suffered from heat damage on one side of my head. I literally, had to use perm rods to make that side of my hair blend in with my other coils. That natural hair journey ended after 2 years, for lack of product knowledge and information on how to care for my natural hair. So, I reverted to relaxers.

    At this stage in my life however, love was the motivating factor in my decision to return to natural. Yes, I was tired of relaxers but I have two daughters. I would tell my oldest daughter how beautiful her hair was, thick and coily but I had my hair relaxed. It just seemed like such a big contradiction. I wanted my daughters to see me as an example, of a woman who loved her hair and wasn't conformed to anyone's idea of what beauty was/is.

    How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them?
    "You have always been different.""It looks good on you." I think my family has embraced it because it is reflective of me. It just makes sense that I would be the one to wear my hair natural and own it. And I do. My friends, likewise, are supportive; but really, I don't see why my hair should be a topic of offense. Like, what does my hair have to do with anyone else. Its my hair. I think my family/friends know that about me. Especially, my husband, who is such a supporter and lover of my natural hair. I think the culture says if you wear your hair natural you are a rebel and a defender of all things black. But, my hair isn't about me rebelling against society, or proving my blackness... its about me embracing Natrietia.

    Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.) My hair is coarse and thick.
    I would be "classified" as having 4C hair.

    What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair? 
    I'm really not crazy with my hair. It took me about 6 months to discover the products and routines that worked for me; and I stuck with that. I'm pretty practical with my hair routine.

    What’s your biggest hair related regret?
     Not embracing my TWA stage. I was so anxious to see growth that I didn't feel as whole as I should have rocking my TWA. I think that it wasn't until the tail end of my TWA stage that I was like, I love my hair. It's awesome.

    What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets! 
    Okay, here goes. People ask me all the time. I wash & deep condition my hair once a week.  And I drink lots of agua (water for the Spanish illiterate).

    #1 Drink Water
    #2 My Weekly Routine:
    Wash Once a week with Shea Moisture Yucca & Baobob Thickening Shampoo
    Deep Condition with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Deep Treatment Mask
    Leave In Condition with Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner
    Olive Oil
    #3 My Daily Routine:
    Water, Olive Oil, Vegetable Glycerin and Leave In Conditioner
    Quarter sized amount of Shea Moisture
    Style with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
    #4 Night Time Routine:
    Sleep with Satin Scarf (Though I've been wanting a bonnet)
    #5 Monthly ACV Rinse

    What’s your favorite hairstyle? Where do you get hairstyle inspiration? 
    My go to styles are twist outs/braid outs, puff, mini twist and roll and tuck. Oh my gosh, I have learned so much from the  many many natural hair vloggers like Curly Nikki, Jessica Pettaway, Jenell Stewart, iknowlee and CaribBeauty in this journey. I thank God for these women, who share their personal journeys and put themselves out there for us to glean from. I am forever grateful, to these bold women for helping me achieve the successes I have in my personal journey. I spent hours researching and being inspired on YouTube. In fact, Curly Nikki's blog was the first person that I started following. I would go to the page and look up info, and stories like these and just glean from her and other women. I learned so much.

    Who is your curl crush?
    My hair crush...hmm jfashiongirl aka Jessica Pettaway. She's pretty fly. Hair and otherwise. LOL

    How do you maintain your hair at night? 
    If I have time I do my spritz (water, vegetable glycerin, olive oil and leave in) and then double strand twist or braid my hair. Then cover with a scarf. If I have no time (too lazy/sleepy) I cover my hair and spritz in the morning

    How do you maintain healthy length? 
    I really don't try to "grow" my hair. But it grows because I take care of me. Drinking water, healthy diet and exercise I believe are key components to my hair growth. On a surface level, I do wash and condition my hair. And keep it moisturized. And more than wearing my hair "out" I usually wear it in a roll and tuck.

    What's the best thing about being natural? 
    Authenticity. I feel like my whole self. From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. I am 100% Natrietia.

    Where can folks find you on the web? 
    You can check me out on Instagram @mybareface or on my blog

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    Hola Chicas!

    For those of you that are new to CN, Fierce Friday is a way to celebrate our natural hair, displaying our dopest styles and best hair days... for inspiration and motivation. Wanna be featured? All you have to do is upload your favorite pics to Instagram with the tags #FierceFriday and #CurlyNikki. Be sure to share a brief description of the style, where you were headed, why you felt amazing, and thangs of that nature!

    #teamnatural #naturalhair #happymonday #fiercefriday #curlynikki @karamelle_gal

    Another day another blessing. Creating a life I love #beachlife #jamaica #negril #naturalhair #teamnatural @sarahlee_b

    Good old faithful #WashNGo . When I'm in a pinch I can always depend on it. It's gonna be hell getting out all the knots and tangles tonight. @carlak_77

    Finally my turn to get pampered this afternoon at the nail shop @iamkayfitz

    @glam_qui & this make up though ... she got skills! Thanks love @vecoya

    Which one looks better??! I like the left! The right will mayyyy look better after a day or two? Details--->Left: January wash and go, no product (used shea moisture super fruit 10n1 shampoo and rinse out conditioner, rinsed out conditioner after it was left on O/N and then let air dry adding nothing but tiny bit coco oil) RIGHT: March wash and go, with product (used shea moisture jbco styler, let air dry, separated curls and fluffed; the styler applied after I deep conditioned with 10n1 masque) @keebrifrye

    Good Morning Wednesday 2nd attempt at Bantu Knots on an old wash and go. Not too bad if I do say so myself. #Her #Blessed @curlssodope

    Back in the 50s. But on 2nd note, I think my head looks like a one of them Nok art figurines #ProtectiveStyle #naturalnigerian #hairspiration #rollandtuck #shorthair #naturallycurlyhair #curlynikki @mslawlie

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    Bantu knots are not for everyone. There is nothing worse than standing hours in front of the mirror installing the knots, enduring a painful restless sleep only to take the knots down to reveal a frizzy, curly mess in the morning. Of course, that’s when you bust out your bobby pins for a chic updo or Mohawk! But you never have to experience failed Bantu knot-outs again. After years of wearing Bantu knot-outs, I’ve learned a few things that guarantee me success each time:

    Read Now!>>>

    1) Start on stretched dry hair. A blow out will often give you the best bouncy bantu knot out curls but a well-detangled old twist/braid out will work as well. Never set your knots on wet or damp hair because chances are they will not dry and you will be left with big frizzy hair the following morning.

    2) Go for non-water based products. My favorite is whipped nut butter such as shea butter. If using a water-based product, be light handed. You will want to reduce the amount of moisture added to the hair while setting the knots to ensure complete dryness the following day. This will minimize any chances of frizz. To the butter you may add a little gel for some added hold. Some gels have water so remember to be light-handed as well. Smooth the product through your hair focusing especially on the ends so that the ends are well moisturized.

    3) Start twisting the section of hair for the bantu knot at least an inch away from your roots. This will prevent you from putting too much tension on your scalp, making your bantu knots too tight and painful to sleep on.

    4) While most people wrap their bantu knots by winding each revolution underneath the previous one, I find that, that technique makes the knots too tight. I therefore, focus on wrapping only the last couple of revolutions underneath the previous ones to tuck away the ends and secure the bantu knot. If your hair is shorter you may need to use a bobby pin to hold your knots in place. Wrapping in this ways gives the knots more wiggle room, reduces tension and is pain-free to sleep.  

    Watch below to see how I apply the above tips for a curly defined Bantu knot out plus my nighttime routine. 

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    by Cathy at YuccaRoots

    Coined by the ever-so diverse Dominican community, the term “pelo malo,” translates into bad hair, kinky hair, unmanageable hair, or hair that does not resemble Barbie or Ken’s. Ever since I came out of my mother’s womb, I was destined to have pelo malo. When little girls have pelo malo, their hair does not 'grow fast'. On the contrary, it sprouts gradually resembling a germinating pinto bean. At a young age, I did not fully understand the journey I was going to embark on. As I began to grow; my hair did too.

    Back in the day when the mullet was popping and the Aqua Net was spraying, my “mami,” would style my hair using 3 techniques. “La cola,” or the tail was my mami’s favorite style for little me. She would use the hard bristled brush and really grip all the curls with it, so I would have one cola at the top and one cola at the bottom. Each cola or ponytail would have to be perfectly parallel to the the other no matter what or my mom would start over. Sigh, because when I was young having my hair styled was painful; literally.

     Read On!>>>

    When my mami, wanted to change-up my top-bottom ponytail style, she would use the classic 80s side ponytail or the super-duper classic style with the 2 pigtails on each side. Each style was finished with a hair accessory that resembled a cake-top centerpiece. You know, like the one’s from Dominican weddings and baptisms. I had a hair bow in every color because they always had to match my outfit. My hair was never undone because Dominicans do not believe in having pelo malo. What would people say about you and your mom if your hair was not done? The “bochinche,” or the gossip would flood the entire Dominican occupied apartment building you and your family lived in.
    Pelo Malo became part of me when I noticed that my sister and cousins, who are Dominican too, had “good hair,” or “pelo bueno.” In my little Dominican eyes, I perceived pelo bueno as hair that did not tangle when you got out of the shower or hair that did not look like you electrocuted yourself. It was then that I knew that my hair was different. I was 6 years old and I had to toughen up. My mami would always carry her “cepillo,” or brush in her purse to do my hair; in public! This would always embarrass me because it made me feel different. The worst days were picture days at school because they always looked so bad. The little black complimentary comb the photographers gave me never worked because of the obvious. I had nicknames in school and felt ugly because my pelo was malo.

    It has been 3 months since I chopped off my heat damaged ends. My hair has not been as full and vivacious since before I had my two children. I am living a heat-free lifestyle, and I am embracing my natural texture for the world to see. At first, I thought about what people at my job would say, but I have been getting really great compliments from colleagues and family members. My confidence has increased substantially. Prior to my natural hair journey, I always worried about my hair and how I was perceived by others. I thought that after having a permanent straightener and occasional flat iron procedures, that my hair would always look dull and sad. Today, I feel alive and beautiful because my hair is full, healthy, and back to where it belongs; curly. Through media outlets, I share my stories, hair routines, and products that have saved my hair. My purpose is to embrace the naturally curly Latina within me, while exposing my experiences as a Dominican-American and the stereotypes that exist within my culture.

    Share your experiences below!

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    Tell us a little about yourself and your hair journey.
    My name is Lauren McCray. I’m 26 year and from North Carolina. I’m a proud new mommy of a bouncing 4 month old baby boy named Grayson Gabriel. He’s truly my pride and joy. I work with special needs children. I love to sing and read when I have the time.

    How long have you been natural?
    I’ve been relaxer free since 2008 and fully natural since June 2009, when I did my big chop.

    What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
    I decided to go natural while I was in college. I began to notice more and more people embracing the natural hair journey and decided that I wanted to experience it for myself. I’ve always had really healthy hair, even when relaxed, so the decision was solely based on my desire to do so and not because of damaged hair. I was a transitioner turned big chopper. I transitioned for 8 months before finally big chopping in June 2009.

    Read On!>>>

    How would you describe your hair?
    My hair is extremely thick, full, and multi-textured. I have never really gotten into the depths of hair typing so I’m not sure of the actual type but I have kinks, coils, waves, and zig zags.

    What do you love most about your hair?
    What I love most about my hair, other than the versatility and freedom that it has allotted me, is how thick it is. I hear so many people complain about that aspect of hair, but I count it a blessing. My hair is very healthy and strong and I know that the older I get I will really appreciate that aspect more.

    What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
    The most memorable part of my journey was the evening of my big chop. I remember sitting in the chair and feeling so liberated, then looking in the mirror, putting my huge earrings on and feeling like I could conquer the world. Once I got home that evening, I looked in the mirror and cried again and kept saying “what did I do to myself?” This was the first major haircut of my life. My hair was down to the middle of my back when I decided to cut it. Now I just laugh because that was the only time I felt that way. Once I woke up the next morning I knew I made the right decision and haven’t doubted myself ever since. It has been both easy and difficult for me. I enjoyed my TWA because of the simplicity. My hair grows really fast so I’ve done several big trims to keep it at a length that I’m comfortable with.

    What are some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles or current dos’ ?
    Roller sets! They were my best friend because I was so determined to stay away from direct heat. I probably wore every size roller set every created, but my hair grew so fast and my new growth wasn’t damaged at all.

    What have your experiences been as a ‘natural’? Any memorable reactions from family or others?
    Overall I have really had a great experience being a natural. I never knew that my hair could become such a conversation piece and even open me up to meeting and embracing new people so easily. Being natural has opened doors for me including becoming a 2013 Brand Ambassador for Natural Girls Rock. That, by far has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I just remember my mom always being so supportive and always encouraging me to go for it. She never questioned my decision to go natural and has encouraged me to pursue all opportunities related to it. The most common reaction that I get is people always think my hair is a wig and ask where did I buy it, then if they can touch it. Some people still think I’m lying about it being “home grown”. I just smile. I’ve learned to take it as a compliment.

    What is your hair regimen?
    My hair regimen is pretty simple. During warmer months I wash and/or cowash weekly or biweekly as needed and depending on the style I’m wearing. In the cooler months I wash biweekly to once a month based on the same, and just continue styling between wash days. My favorite products are water of course, my own shea butter mix, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, and extra virgin olive oil. For the most part I’m a twist and braid out kind of girl, and lately I’ve been rocking flexi rod sets which are really working for me. I only straighten my hair at most twice a year.

    Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
    Since becoming natural, I have always told myself that I did this for no one but Lauren, and not to simply become a part of a “trend.” Becoming natural was about more than just changing my hair, it changed my life. I always tell people to give it one solid year if you can make it and then consider other options if it just really isn’t working for you. After that first year, I felt like I could conquer anything and my hair was long enough for me to see that I really had made progress. Never succumb to fear, try different styles, use hair accessories, and no matter what love yourself and remember why you chose to embark on such an amazing journey. It also helps to follow people that have similar textures of hair to yours. I found that when I didn’t, it was easy earlier on to become frustrated seeing other people’s hair do things that mine may not do exactly the same because of textural differences. Also drink lots of water and learn what works best for your hair.

    Where can people find you for more information?
    You can follow me on Instagram at beautirolauren_, Twitter @beautifrolauren and on Facebook as Lauren A. McCray (my personal profile). I also have a page on Facebook called Beau-ti-FRO-lly Lauren.

    ***Dating While Natural***
    When I first went natural, my boyfriend was not very happy. I just remember sending him a text saying that I got a cut, then I sent him the picture of my little fro. Let’s just say it was a while before he responded. He was so into my long flowing hair that it took him a while to love my kinks and curls, but he finally came around. Now when my hair is straight he asks after a while when am I going to wash it. Amazing! I have always felt a sense of empowerment since having my fro, and I think I have actually tapped into my sensuality and womanhood more since having it. It has given me a confidence that I never had while relaxed and I love that.

    Global Couture is trying to spread the word about embracing your natural hair. Love your HAIR, if it is wavy, curly, kinky or coily.
    See more at and Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
    Are you naturally fierce? Email us to share your hair journey

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    Hola Chicas,

    I'm giving away 6 Conditioning Baskets(worth ~$90 each) this month (April 2015) to question askers and answerers!

    If you see a curly-in-need who has asked a question under a post, answer it! If you are a curly who has a question that needs an answer, ask it! Not under this post, on all the posts! 

    The first three baskets will go to the three curlies with the highest number of posts this month (4/1-4/30, comments from previous months don't count) and the next three will go to three randomly selected commenters.  Past winners are eligible!

    Which posts/articles count for the contest? All of them!  Good luck!

    *contest ends April 30, 2015 at 5pm EST*

    *Please only post comments that spark conversation and further discussion. Free products are EVERYTHING but this is really about strengthening our community and helping other naturals!*

    Later Gators,

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    My name is Lukeki and I am a writer over at Natural Notebook, a natural hair and lifestyle blog based in London. This year I’ll be 4 years natural (Woop Woop!!). When I first went natural I never thought I’d reach this milestone so I’m glad I’m still loving my natural hair!

    Three years ago I decided to chop of my chemically straightened hair and remain with my natural curly kinky hair. I had long, thick, chemically straightened hair for a very long time (the last time I had an afro was when I was a child and I don’t remember it very well), so I was used to seeing my hair straight.


    What happened eventually as a result of using relaxers over a period of time to permanently straighten my hair was that my hair was limp, dull,  and lifeless. Due to the harsh chemicals I had some minor damage along my hairline. I decided I needed a change and after being envious of my sisters thick natural hair, seeing some bloggers that I followed at the time go natural and after seeing how having straight hair was perpetuating a standard of beauty to my youngest sister, I decided to take the plunge and cut off my hair.

    The actual day I cut my hair I didn’t feel too bad about it because I was excited to just have my curly hair in a tiny afro. For the first few days I was rocking my hair feeling uber confident, strutting around looking cute. However I wasn’t expecting to be shocked every time I walked past a mirror or car window and saw this person with short hair. I wasn’t expecting to not feel “beautiful” because my new look was SO different to what I normally had. I wasn’t expecting to start thinking about beauty and the beauty standards that somehow subconsciously we follow. I wasn’t expecting to witness the impact these beauty ideals had on younger girls and how by cutting my hair and challenging what was the norm in my life, I positively built the self-esteem of my younger sister. I wasn’t expecting my choices to have a positive influence on my friends and family giving them the possibility of trying something different. I wasn’t expecting to become more confident in myself and who I was. I wasn’t expecting to love my hair in its curly and fluffy state.

    So what, you might be saying, it’s just hair. Well yes it is in one sense, but in another sense it’s not just hair. It’s connected to what we think is beautiful and how we see ourselves in accordance to that. In this world where we as women, from all backgrounds, are constantly being told we could be better if we just changed different aspects of ourselves to look like a specific picture of beauty, it’s important in our own way to take control of what we let influence us and define what our core standards of beauty are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s bad to try and improve yourself to become better. What I am saying is be aware that the widely accepted ideal of beauty (ironically) doesn’t fit everyone, and instead of killing yourself to try and meet it, or beating yourself because you don’t, create your own standard so that you are happy with the way you look.

    So if you aren’t a certain size, choose to eat healthily. If you have acne prone skin, look for ways to combat that. But do these things because you want to not because you feel pressured to. Do things that help YOU feel confident about YOU!

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    Natural hair might be healthier than relaxed hair but that does not mean it is invincible. Everyone loves the style versatility of natural hair. It can be straightened, colored, roller set, and blown it out while maintaining its fullness, which is usually compromised with relaxed hair, especially over time. With that being said, hair is still hair. It is merely dead skin cells that are preserved through proper maintenance. Part of proper maintenance and length retention is low manipulation. Since curly and coily hair is naturally drier than straight hair, it is more vulnerable to breakage. Everyone’s hair cannot withstand high manipulation and here are four ways you might be breaking your hair without realizing it.

    Read On!>>>

    Layed edges
    I know women love the polished look of a puff or an updo with smooth edges, but constantly putting stress on the hairline can cause breakage. The hairline is naturally fine, so frequently using a boar brush with pomade, gel, or edge tamer can cause the hair to break. It is ok to not have the sleekest edges all day, everyday. A little frizz never hurt anyone. If you insist on having flat edges, then consider using your hands to smooth your hairline down, cover it with a satin scarf, and let it set overnight.

    Definition and volume is the perfect combo, which is why naturals love doing twist outs and flat-twist outs on dry hair. Many women with short or medium length hair re-twist their hair nightly to prevent tangles and matting, but once your hair gets longer, it is probably best to start pineappling. Unless you are re-twisting in four or five large sections every night, then re-twisting 20 or more sections on a daily basis is stressful on the hair. It leads to the same result as fastening your hair in a ponytail everyday in the same spot, which is breakage. The wisps of hair that you see on your bed, sink, or wherever your twists your hair is a result of over manipulation and potentially a sign for a trim. Remember, the longer your hair gets, the older your ends are.

    Daily detangling
    Some people’s hair thrives off of daily co-washing, especially with a TWA (teeny weeny afro), and quite naturally when you wash your hair, you detangle it in order to avoid matting. Daily detangling can lead to breakage. Before you think about skipping the detangling step when you run hair under the shower stream, consider this: washing your hair without detangling can lead to a major problem since the hair expands while wet and shrinks while dry. Shed hair that has not been removed will entwine with the other strands as they expand while wet and retract while dry and this can cause matting. So, unless your hair is strong enough to withstand daily detangling, your daily co-washing may be causing breakage.

    Frequent color touch-ups
    Just like a relaxer, when the color treatment is being rinsed off the scalp, the chemicals are running down the hair strands and slightly processing the length of the hair that is already processed. Color-treated hair is naturally drier than virgin hair, so over processing leads to dry, brittle hair that turns into breakage. Try to stretch your color treatments as much as possible.

    How do you reduce breakage?

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  • 04/14/15--10:49: Sprang.

  • Hola Chicas!

    So spring sprang and I have emerged from my hibernation (I don't do air that hurts my face) to enjoy the fancy weather.

    Read On!>>>
    The catch up--

    1. I didn't go to no damn space.

    2. My visit to #Ferguson was lived firmly in the present moment with my number one lady.  I was appreciative of my parents before I arrived-- having some idea of the level of care Gma required-- but after they tagged me in for those 10 days, I left with the deepest respect and admiration and a level of sleep deprivation akin to Hurricane Boogie August 29th, 2010. 

    Grandma Maxine stays woke, stays on her feet (which is dangerous because she's entirely too fly for her walker, apparently) and stays spitting hot fire.  Not at me tho, she loves her oldest grandbaby :-)  Plus, I'm the one that breaks her out so we can shut down casinos, dollar stores and brunch spots!  I even slept with her a few nights, which was ridic, because every time I woke up, she was still talking to me #SheStayWoke.  

    Gma's physically strong, and other than asking me when I'm coming home for Christmas (like it's next week), she's pretty damn sharp.  I'll see her next month and we shall resume the party.  But until then, I at least get to see this much of her--

    3. I cut my hair (chunky twists, taking off a little more on the ones in back) to keep the bob tight and the above is my first wet set Twist-n-Curl of the season 3rd day hair)!  I made 13 twists, used super skinny perm rods and Ouidad's HydraFusion styler. That shit's effective but disrespectfully expensive... so I'm taking suggestions for a new twisting cream in the comments below.  I have some runner-ups, but to date, the Hydrafusion is the best at handling my situation despite the spring humidity, dew points and rude winds. 

    4. Gia's on spring break this week and she is truly my child.  When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said, 'go to the roof, eat outside at my favorite restaurant... um.... go to the roof.'  Love that kid!  Save for the #NoChill (her favorite response to my frequent and persistent urging for her to 'just relax for a while' is, 'I don't like relaxing'), we pretty much reside on the same wavelength.  Yesterday, we spent the afternoon on the roof bbq'ing hot dogs, blowing bubbles and soaking up the sun... then we walked to MatchBox with Dr. Daddy to dine al fresco.  Heaven.

    5. Drake. 6 God, 6 Man, Company, Now & Forever. #Repeat

    Later Gators,

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    Wanna know why I'm happier than you?

    Read On!>>>
    'Cause I choose happiness.  It's that's simple.

    Y'all know that one of my #LifeHacks is to smile. No matter the circumstance. Today, I'm reminding you of that, and telling you to take it one step further-- choose happiness, no matter the circumstance. Choosing gratitude and joy no matter the situation may sound impossible or even ridic, but it's actually no more difficult than reaching for your iphone. You can do it, you can actually choose happiness (yes, even in that situation!). You just believe that you can't. And you know what they say about beliefs... whether you believe you can or you believe you can't-- you're right. So why not pick an empowering one?

    If you think of your life, the world, as a mirror, as a reflection of your beliefs (and thoughts and attitudes), and you find yourself surrounded by angry, dramaful, ratchet-ass circumstances, then what needs the fixin'? If it's just a reflection, then isn't it you (and your thoughts, beliefs and mood) that needs an adjustment?

    Stand in front of a mirror and frown, or better yet, serve your resting bitch face (used to be my go-to). If you decided that you wanted to see a smile in that mirror instead, you wouldn't try to change the face in the mirror (your reflection), you'd change the one on this side of the mirror. The world works the same way, we've just come to believe the opposite-- that circumstances dictate our mood. Lies. Garbage (with a french accent). Your mood, your beliefs dictate the circumstances. This is how I live my life and besides the tremendous peace it serves up all day, my circumstances, my reflection, the world around me is pretty dope too. Effortlessly so.

    Although you can simply make the choice today, I will share tips in future posts to make this more experiential for you. But for now, try this whenever f*ckery ensues (i.e. crazy boss, rude traffic, I-love-you-I-hate-you-I-love-you relationship stuff, finance-disrespecting bills, whatever and what have you)--

    1. Take a breath and for a second or two, STOP. Just stop. No thoughts, no judgements, no stories about what's happening (or should be happening) in that moment. Realize that before you think about it, absolutely nothing is wrong or lacking-- it's an entirely subjective experience and you can choose to define it (or not define it) however you wish. Ask yourself, 'what's wrong right now, if I don't think about it?' That moment of peace and realization will allow you to--

    2. #ChooseChill You can either (a) frame the situation in a positive way (everything is working out for the best, etc.), which is cool, but can be clumsy and feel forced, or (b) remove yourself from the situation (if you can) and do something that shifts your mood (listen to trap on your way to work, take a walk, call momma, pray, meditate, dance about it), or (c) do like me and remember... remember to remember that the shenanigans can be viewed as a reflection of your beliefs and mood. And then smile. When I see crazy stuff now, it makes me happy because I remember to remember. It's a trigger to remind me to SMILE... to feel good now. And the more you feel good now, the more you'll see reflections of stuff in the world that will actually make you smile!

    If you don't know how to feel good for no reason, ask God to show you.  Happiness, peace, bliss... that's your default state... it's why feeling crappy, feels... crappy. It's who you are.  Just feel good and watch everything around you (the reflection) mold and shift to the new you. #DontBelieveMe #JustWatch

    Later Gators,

    p.s. Need help remembering?  Download an interval timer app to your phone and set it to go off throughout the day.  When you hear it, smile and choose happiness. It'll feel fake until it doesn't. I'm living proof.

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    Our beautiful hair strands are 91% hard protein also known as keratin, which is responsible for the strength and structure of the hair strand and very important to hair care and hair growth. As the hair grows it can gradually get weaker at the ends, as the hair shaft has been chipped away by the elements and general manipulation from hair care and styling. The ability to keep the hair strong, while maintaining moisture to the strand is a balancing act. Too much strength could make the hair hard and brittle while too much moisture can make the hair mushy, both of which are not the ideal situation for hair. According to Hilda Sustaita, wheat protein is considered a gentle protein, broken down into smaller portions to penetrate the hair shaft and adhere to cracks along the cuticle layers.

    Read On!>>>

    Wheat protein is often labeled as hydrolyzed keratin or hydrolyzed wheat protein. The word hydrolyzed simply means that the chemical compound has been split into smaller units through the process of hydrolysis. In fact Organic Color Systems, due to the low molecular weight of hydrolyzed wheat protein, it can be easily absorbed by the hair shaft.” This hydrolyzed wheat protein does more than just strengthen the hair. It also moisturizes, which lessens the risk of protein reactions or over strengthening the hair, resulting in breakage. Here are some benefits to using products with wheat protein:
    • Strengthen the hair shaft via bits of protein that adhere to the hair and penetrate the cortex.
    • Attract moisture to the hair strand and improve its ability to maintain moisture.
    This in turn improves the quality of the hair and allows for greater manageability. Wheat protein is a common ingredient in products that treat thinning hair and male patterned baldness in men and excessive thinning or balding for women and enhances fullness and volume. According to, “It can also help repair damaged hair follicles making hair fuller and softer to the touch.”

    Protein-rich products
    You can find this ingredient in many products, including conditioners, stylers, and cleansers. Here are a few to get started with!
    For women who are protein sensitive, utilizing products with wheat protein may be a better selection for you, considering the moisturizing balance can help offset a reaction. If you have concerns, perform a strand test on a patch of your hair. Give it a full week to view the hair and scalp’s response before adding it to your hair care regimen.

    Do you use products that contain hydrolyzed protein? Share below!

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    Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper? What was your journey like?
    Originally, I tip-toed around the thought of doing the big chop. Although I really wanted to start my journey, I was still insecure as to what others’ reaction would be (seeing me with long hair extensions to suddenly seeing me with my TWA) however, I wasn’t doing it for them. I was doing it for myself and also my daughter.  My favorite quote is“Be the change that you want to see in the world”-Ghandi.  It was so important for me to led by example.  So with added encouragement from my husband and my best friend, Taisa (who was also natural), I did the big chop! It was a great feeling, and the best decision ever!

    Had you always embraced your texture?
    I did not always embrace my texture. I remember being the only one in my middle school to wear my curly natural. At that time I felt like the black sheep. After which, I’ve had relaxers, texturizers, and hair extensions. Now, however I’m a globetrotting wife and mother, who enjoys being the black sheep! No matter what country we’re in. I love being the only one walking around with my hair texture, standing out, and making a statement! It’s my crown, I take pride in the exclusivity of it.


    How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them? 
    Although I was still getting use to it. Everyone else seemed to loved it! I’ve always been into beauty and fashion. So, I would hear things like “you make everything look good”.  They didn’t know how much the compliments meant at the time!

    Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
    My hair has two different textures. The crown of my hair thick, were as the nape is a loose curl. It also grows fast at the nape, so I have to trim it more. Otherwise I’ll have a cute (or not so cute) mullet look going on!

    What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair? 
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. In the past I wondered why my hair wasn’t growing with a relaxer or hair extension. It was growing, but it was breaking just as much. I’m now realizing that the craziest thing was not giving it the proper TLC, for years! I should say LOC. My hair needs liquid, oil, and cream daily!

    What’s your biggest hair related regret?
    My biggest hair regret is not loving my texture sooner! Have you ever looked at an old picture and said “what was I thinking!”. Well I’m sure I’ll have a few of those moments about my hair over the decades!!

    What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!
    My hair routine consists of No-poo washes 2-3 days per week. (Unless I have a certain protective style up. It may be less.)  I also use LOC/LCO methods in between.
    My favorite products that I try to stock up on when in the States are; Tresseme Naturals Conditioner, Deva Curl Conditioner, Miss Jessie’s Jelly. Currently I’m in the Philippines, where I use a lot of local products with a coconut or aloe vera base and Monea curl defining milk. Coconut oil is my favorite!

    What’s your favorite hairstyle? Where do you get hairstyle inspiration?
    I always try to switch it up depending on the occasion as well as what inspires me.
    However one of favorite hair styles is wearing it two high buns. My daughter calls me Minnie! Wash and goes are great too. And goddess braid can be quick and chic! I love them all! :)

    Who is your curl crush?
    Anyone who’s rocking their curls with confidence, is my crush! It’s so inspirational to see and be surround by others with similar energy. Following Curly Nikki, Mahogany Curls, and Chime Edwards were huge inspirations from the beginning of my journey! I also love that we have YouTube now a days. I watch tutorials of so many vloggers to observe their use products, and styles. A must follow on IG, is @jfashiongirl87. She’s another fashion forward mommy, who I get inspiration from. Her style is awesome!

    How do you maintain your hair at night?
    I do my hair routine, a quick scalp massage, style (bantu knots, twists, goddess braids). Wrap with silk scarf. Preserving an actual style is another story that I’m still trying to perfect. But, hey nobody’s perfect. Trial and error! :)

    How do you maintain healthy length?
    In order for my hair to flourish, I have to do my hair routine 2-3 time per week. A flower must be watered in order to grow! Also not using heat, and low manipulation as worked for me tremendously!

    What's the best thing about being natural?
    Being natural has been the best decision ever. It was a rebirth of myself. In the process of learning about my hair, I have also grown to learn so much about myself. Now I have a passion to help empower other women. Ultimately to show and prove to society that black women are born valuable, worthy, and our greater purpose in life matters just the way we are. :)

    Where can folks find you on the web?
    Please keep in touch and reach out to me via the following sources. I would love to hear from you!:
    Personal IG: @sabemckines
    Blog IG/FB: @sweetsabes

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