Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why? (tell us your natural hair journey)
 I had naturally curly hair throughout my entire life! I didn't start WEARING it till my second year of high school. It was definitely a 'maturity' thing. I grew into wearing it natural because I began to like it a lot and wanting to step out the box.

Had you always embraced your texture?

 In high school, I was going through 'blonde Beyonce' phases. I still would straighten it a lot. I started doing my own hair and learning about it. I didn't have a computer, no YouTube or tumblr or anything. My curls were not even CLOSE to how healthy and fabulous they are today. At the time I was battling to bring out the true essence of my curls. Nothing but trial and error, and wanting my curly hair to be or look some way it's NOT. The natural stepping stones to falling in love and embracing your true texture! And yes, I became a product junkie. Took me years to break out of that! Its all out my system now. Bleaching, heat, experimenting, impulsive product buying, I'm pretty much a pro now!

How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? How did they react to the new you?  What was your response to them? 
 I remember my mom and sister always encouraged me to wear my hair curly growing up, they would say it's beautiful and that I didn't know what I have. I use to look at them so crazy, I literally thought they didn't know what they were talking about. It didn't help that no one knew how to style it, so I didn't give it a chance. I just remember it being wild, super wavy/3b curls. It was very long with no shape. I didn't know much about salons and layering then. So my mom would get the grease and press it for me. I always wanted it straight. I can just faintly remember how my curl texture was when I was younger. When I started wearing my curly hair I was 15 years old everyone loved it, some haters envied it, but it definitely made it easy for me to feel comfortable w/ the natural state of my hair. It was pretty, even my first love digged it. My best friends thought it was fun and exotic, compliments kept rolling in, especially when I bleached the majority of it, it definitely made me stand out. I know this sounds dramatic, but when I did that my life somewhat changed and my confidence shot up. I was stepping out the box and I felt unstoppable. My mom was just letting me do what I wanted w/ my hair

Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
 I have fine textured hair and thick density. I'm not sure of the porosity of my hair, I think it's high, it depends on the product though, and since its fine I like light moisturizing cremes for it because it can get weighed down. My hair does catch frizz from high humidity which can be annoying. So I want to say it's high.

What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? favorite products! Deets!
 My staple products to use is Mane and Tail Conditioner as a leave-in -I been using that since I was a baby. Also Moroccan moisturizing conditioner, Bouncy Creme, and Aquage curl gel. Those are professional products that do it for me. I like many deep moisturizing conditioners. I barely shampoo, so I use anything lying around, I prefer moisturizing clarifying shampoo though. My current 'seal-in' is Pantene shine serum w/ argan and Moroccan healing oil for the ends and mid-shaft of my hair. I use a paddle brush to evenly distribute product and smooth out my curls, then follow-up with a wide toothed comb to separate to my curls, give it some body. This all done WET.

How do you maintain your hair at night?
 Most people I think do the "pineapple" overnight but after trial and error I feel it makes my curls look a bit 'wirey'. I realized my hair was always trained to be tied loosely in the back overnight. Even when my hair is straight I simply tie it in a low and very loose ponytail then pop my bonnet on. When it's curly, I lightly put all my hair into a loose bun in the center back of my head and pop my bonnet on. In the morning after I take out the scrunchy, and shake my hair, everything is back in tact!

How do you maintain healthy length?
 To maintain length I condition my hair once or twice a week. I shampoo once every two-three weeks. When my curls start getting 'old' I still would let it rock out. Or I may just put in a slick updo and use Groganics creme, and Jamaican healing oil to help stimulate growth. I leave that in for a day or two. I'm constantly doing something to my hair. I deep condition once every week. Trims help. I'm currently getting out of the awkward stages of growing out my layers due to a short curly cut I got almost a year ago. I've just been sticking to trimming every six months. My overnight routine helps because I'm not putting much tension on my hair. And 95% of the time my hair is curly, so no worries w/ heat damage. My hair is growing out a lot, due to maintaining the length I already have, and trimming off the bad.

What's the best thing about being curly?
 The amazing thing about being curly is that I don't have to do much w/ my hair and even on a 'bad day' I still can get a way with it. I feel very unique. I personally think of it being as special and different as our fingerprints. It's YOURS; one of a kind and no one can say it's 'wrong', natural or curly, it is our 'God given crowns'! It's very ironic, you do find yourself putting a lot of effort and time into taking care of your natural hair and figuring it out, it's simply putting pride into yourself. But the result is beyond worth it. 

Where can folks find you on the web?
Tumblr: @tommia 

Instagram: @tommia_

After a while, every DIY recipe starts to look the same. Avocados, bananas, mayonnaise, olive oil, and eggs all begin to sound a bit trite.Everyone has a whipped shea butter tutorial that only differs by oil variations but not with Duchess Gabrielle. Gabrielle creates this luxurious homemade hair cream with ingredients that had me running to Google. This cream is infused with 11 different herbs! Where they do that at? The various butters, oils, and gels allow this creamy goodness to double as a sealant and styler. Check out the recipe below and watch the video below for a tutorial.

  • ¼ cup aloe vera juice
  • 3 oz coconut oil
  • 3-4 Tbsp Gabrielle’s dry hair blend (marshmallow root, mullein leaf, elder flower, burdock root, stinging nettle, lavender, comfrey leaf, flower, sage, parsley, chamomile, and calendula)
  • 3 Tbsp emulsifying wax
  • 1/3-cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp flaxseeds
  • 2 oz illipe butter
  • ½ tsp lavender
  • 1 tsp Liquid Germall Plus
  • 3 Lotioncrafter BTMS
  • ¼ cup marshmallow root
  • ½ tsp orange sweet oil
  • ½ tsp rosemary oil
  • 2 oz shea butter
  • 1/3 cup unrefined avocado oil
  • 3 cups water
  • Bowl
  • Blender
  • Glass or plastic storage jar
  • Knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Rice strainer
  • Saran wrap
  • Double boiler pot
  • Wooden spoon

  1. Put the dry hair blend into the rice strainer and pour steaming hot water over the blend. Allow the tea to steep for an hour.
  2. Boil the flaxseeds in water and reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain the gel solution into a bowl and add the aloe vera juice.
  4. Pour the tea from the dry hair blend into the gel solution and stir in the Liquid Germall Plus.
  5. Cover this mix with saran wrap and place to the side.
  1. Cut the coconut oil, shea butter, and illipe butter into smaller section. This helps the butters to melt faster in the next step.
  2. Place the shea butter and illipe butter in the double boiler until completely melted. Then, turn off the stove and add the coconut oil until it is completely melted.
  1. Pour unrefined avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil into a bowl.
  2. Transfer the melted butters into the bowl with the avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Return the oil mix to the double boiler.
  4. Add the emulsifying wax and the Lotioncrafter BTMS.
  5. Remove the mixture from the stove and return to a bowl.
  6. Stir in the orange sweet, lavender, and rosemary oils.
  7. Allow the oil mixture to cool to room temperature.
  8. Pour the gel solution into a blender and slowly add the liquid mixture. Once the blender begins to choke, the emulsification process is complete. In order to avoid disintegrating the mixture, do not over blend. The blend should have a creamy consistency.
  9. Fill the glass or plastic storage container with the final cream mixture.
  10. Store the cream in a cool place and let it sit overnight before using.This DIY is definitely for the crafty natural and will leave your hair moisturized for days on end. 

This one is clearly for the advanced mixtress!  
What do you think? Will you give it a try?! 
by Shelli of Hairscapades

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of months now to highlight, share and co-sign on a trick that I read on CurlyNikki long ago, but only started employing more recently. There are several viable and effective options for detangling naturally curly hair: dry with oil, slightly damp with oil and/or conditioner, wet and saturated with conditioner, fingers, wide-tooth comb, Denman, etc. I’m not going to go into the various techniques here, but if you want to learn more, check out this detailed post on CurlyNikki: Detangling Methods for Natural Hair.

So, back to the point of this post. Over the last year and a half, I have mostly finger detangled my hair dry during my pre-poo routine. However, for the majority of my twelve years natural, I only detangled when it was completely wet and saturated with conditioner. Every now and again, I revisit the wet method and this weekend was one such occasion. I didn’t pre-poo, because I was doing a henna/indigo treatment and wanted to apply it to dry hair. So, my detangling process didn’t start until the henna/indigo conditioner rinse.

Let me tell you, putting my head under the shower stream once my hair is wet and saturated with conditioner really helps dissolve the tangles! In the past, I would wet my hair, add tons of conditioner, maybe add a little more water and go at it with the wide tooth comb. I generally only went back under the water stream when it was time to rinse. But the last few times I’ve wet detangled, I repeatedly put my head under the shower stream when I hit snags, adding more conditioner as needed. The water running down the conditioner-covered strands really seems to help melt the tangles down and out of my hair with a little assistance from my “nimble” fingers.

So, if you’ve never tried this and find yourself conditioned up, but needing a little help with a nasty snarl, turn to your new friend, the shower stream. You may be pleasantly surprised by how helpful “she” is!!
Is the shower stream your friend?

CN Says:
I concur. I'm always pleasantly surprised at how easily the water stream dissolves my knots. Try it!

Should I Get Bangs?

I like to think that I’m one minor adjustment away from becoming the perfect woman—the Gwyneth Paltrow I always knew I had inside me. Imagine going baby blond—suddenly you're adding "Kennedy" to your Carolyn Bessette. Do a Key Son workout DVD and you'll know what it feels like to be Daria Werbowy (spoiler: awesome). Put on the right red lipstick, and now Liv Tyler is referring to you as the "Chunginator." I'll put it to you this way: in lieu of a linen closet, I keep a closet full of skincare, hair products, supplements, and makeup purchased with the hope that I would someday be able to look at myself in the mirror and think, "There she is."

And, until last month, I had yet to consider the most alluring and terrifying of image transformers: Bangs. Fringe. La Frange. LaBeouf. Whatever you call them, that swath of above-the-eyes hair has the ability to make or break a woman or a Bieber. They could go terribly wrong, but did fear hold back Lou Doillon from shrouding her face in mystery? Did Rooney Mara turn down The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because of a requisite trim? What Would Grimes Do? Better yet, What Would Suri Do? And, after binge-watching Funny Face and The Devil Wears Prada, I decided it was time I took my blunt cut into Freja Beha territory.

"I'm getting bangs!" I announced to the office with the pride of a newly engaged woman. And, like all good, concerned boss-friends, they suggested that I ask hairstylist Ashley Javier to fashion temporary faux fringe for me before making any rash decisions. "Like a hair piece?" I clarified. "He did the same thing for Annabelle [Dexter-Jones]," Nick said, explaining how Javier could color-match and cut a few clip-on styles to send me home with before I took scissors to my real hair. And after a phone consultation with the extremely wry and charming Javier—“I don’t do 'cuts,' I do careers,” he told me—I set up an appointment to visit his sunny Flatiron salon.

I was greeted by a hot tea, a terrier, and a rainbow arrangement of fake bangs. In other words, I had taken the subway and an elevator to heaven. I thought that I would get the ball rolling by whipping out my own set of color-matched clip-ins—until I realized I'd made the mistake of ordering ones made of synthetic fibers. "I can't believe my scissors are going to cut this," Javier said, laughing. He would not be able to dye my faux hair, nor could he do much in the way of taming or styling, out of fear that too much heat would melt the—yes—polyester. Thankfully, the color was more or less spot-on and Ashley was able to look past my naiveté.

After cornrowing a two-inch-wide section of my real hair back over (to which the faux bangs would be clipped), Javier swiftly chopped polyester and talked me through the World of Fringe, which includes:

1. The bi-bang: A Birkin-esque bang that can be swept to the side so it disappears into the rest of the hair.

2. The brow bang: Cut right above the brows, so the eyebrows are still visible.

3. The girly bang: Cut one finger-width above the eyebrows, it's a "very Sandra Dee" bang, ideal for shorter lengths.

4. The baby bang: Audrey Hepburn mini fringe.

5. The fetus bang: An extremely graphic, very edgy, choppy bang that is two-and-a-half fingers above your eyebrows.

All the while, we laughed, played with hairstyles, talked references, and weighed the pros and cons of each look. It felt adventurous and extravagant. I was the Tai to his Cher. And, like any good tryst, when we were done he asked if he could light a cigarette before telling me about his childhood, about his passions (hair), and he even showed me a painting he was working on. He told me that I looked the prettiest in the girly bang, but that he'd want to hang out with fetus-banged me, so I left with one fetus bang [2], one girly bang [3], and one bi-bang [4].

I spent a week in those beautiful, bespoke face-merkins, but as much as I liked them, I ultimately decided I wasn't ready to commit. It's the same way I feel about getting a dog. Of course I want it, but it wouldn't be fair. I don't have time to take care of bangs, and I really do enjoy the freedom of not having to style them or have such a signature look everyday. And I couldn't be happier that I went temporary, because I'm no longer taunted by the mystery of 'What would I look like?'

Here's what I learned about getting bangs, both faux and real:

1) When going fake, invest in real hair if you can get it. It's much more versatile, and you can manipulate it to match the texture of your own hair.

2) As a general rule, bangs should never go wider than the arches of your eyebrows. This will not only keep your face from looking wider (an unfortunate reality of a lot of fringe), but will also keep you from looking like you have a bowl cut on the front half of your head. We can't all be Willow Smith.

3) If you're going to taper your bangs (and not cut straight across), make sure the length is consistent at least within the gap between your eyebrows.

So, this time, I did not get banged. But, the experience left me with the itch to change something, so I made an emergency hair appointment and chopped off a full five inches—right to the collarbone. A day later I ran into Leandra Medine who told me point-blank, "I like your hair. It's not short enough." I'm still very much on the journey to revealing my inner Gwyneth.

—Mackenzie Wagoner

Photos by Mathea Millman

Give Your Lover A Lock Of Hair

Well, it's Valentine's Dayif you celebrate that kind of thing. Me, I celebrate my love for my boyfriend every morning by shoving the single pillow we share over his face before turning on the light so as not to shock his delicate eyes. I guess his very own pillow would be a good V-Day present this year... But back in the day, people were weirder about love and exchanged dead cells that grow in strands out of their bodies. Then they made jewelry out of it. You can find specimens like this on Ebay, labeled "mourning jewelry" because when people died, their survived-bys would clip and encase a strand of their hair to keep in remembrance. My mom actually clipped a strand of my hair when I was a baby in anticipation that the gentle, kind, loving little girl would eventually die...and be replaced with the the saltiest little bitch to enter into day care. Seriously: it's in a chest next to the one time I apologized to her on a notecard attached to a hideous clay sculpture glued to a plastic fork.

But the hair lockets weren't all made from dead people—living, breathing lovers gifted each other locks of hair as well. Imagine a young blond farm girl snipping off a ringlet and tucking it into a locket before handing it off to her beau who just got a job with the Pony Express. (They all died of dysentery...or something. The farm girl's father was relieved; he didn't like the guy that much anyway.) It's pretty! Pretty creepy. But don't all romantic gestures make someone cringe? I feel nauseated every time I see a couple bragging about their nice, clean living room on Instagram, so to one-up their obvious attempt to disgust me, I've created a keychain of my hair to give my boyfriend [1]. Because—alert Pinterest—real-hair braided keychains are the new mourning jewelry.

This isn't the first time I'll be giving a guy some of my hair. Once I sent a lock of my virgin, spun-gold ombré (Jared Leto-level ombré, I swear) to a long-distance boyfriend. And thank god I did send it out, because now I can ask him to return it, to bring in to show my colorist on my quest to get that perfect color back. "Hi, hope you're well! Sorry for the break up. Hey, do you remember that time I sent you a piece of my hair? You wouldn't happen to still have it would you?"

At the time, it felt very romantic, and it's because the gesture, while bizarre as all get-out, is very romantic! You're giving someone you love an actual piece of you. Just make sure it's not a piece of you that you really need, like hair from the top of your head or the nape of your neck—clip from the middle-back section of your head where nobody will ever notice the absence of a small chunk. And rather than snipping off enough to make an elaborate braid, just go with a lock tied in a pretty satin bow and place in a Hallmark card next to that iTunes gift certificate you picked up while in line at CVS (don't worry, the romantic snip of hair cancels out your crappy non-human-made gift), and make your boyfriend happy...after he pays your dowry like in the good ol' days.

—Annie Kreighbaum

Photo [1] by Annie Kreighbaum, Photos [2-8] courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.