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.

The more we embrace our natural texture, the more we learn that organic and natural hair products work best. There are hundreds of ingredients found in nature that can be used in hair products. Healthy ingredients aren't for textured hair alone! These ingredients work to make everybody's hair healthier. Below is a list of ten popular ingredients in natural hair products and what they provide for our hair.
1. Shea Butter
High in fatty acids, shea butter is an emollient — meaning it provides a layer of oil on top of the surface of a hair strand, significantly reducing the amount of moisture (water) lost. This is what Naturally Curly girls mean when using products like this to "seal" their hair.

Read On!>>>

2. Coconut Oil
Many natural hair products contain coconut oil, another emollient perfect for sealing moisture into the hair. Coconut oil provides both shine and strength to locks, making it a popular ingredient for naturals.
Coconut oil can also be used as a leave-in conditioner for for thicker textured hair. Because the natural hair oils have difficulty sliding down the curls, you'll need to use an abundant amount of coconut oil.

3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera can be used to promote hair growth, stop hair loss and treat scalp problems. The easiest way to use aloe vera is to mix some aloe vera gel into your shampoo or conditioner.
You can also apply aloe vera gel into your scalp and gently massage it in before rinsing it off. You should notice an improvement in the condition of your scalp and hair in about two to three months. Make sure to leave the aloe gel or juice on for at least two hours before rinsing or washing your hair. This treatment also works to promote hair growth, since aloe vera contains an enzyme that stimulates hair follicles.

4. Vegetable Glycerin
Natural Hair products containing vegetable glycerine act as strong humectants—meaning, they attract and bind water to themselves. Vegetable glycerine also creates a layer of oil over the hair strand, thus aiding in the retention of moisture. Try combining it with aloe vera juice to create an even better moisture spritz!

5. Jojoba Extract
Jojoba is another humectant perfect for adding to damaged ends. Because it is very similar to your natural hair oils, jojoba oil can be used to balance oil production at the scalp, aiding overproducing glands that cause oily hair. Jojoba is also non-greasy and will give your hair a healthy, natural shine.

6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is an emollient that seals and softens the hair. The "extra virgin" on a label means it was produced using only physical means (no machines involved) and has no chemical treatment to alter it. Use it as a quick pre-shampoo or a deep conditioner.

7. Castor Seed Oil
Not only is this vegetable oil a humectant, castor oil also has anti-fungal properties. This will ensure a clean scalp, with the hair follicles clear and prepared for better hair growth. Some apply it to the temples to increase the thickness of thinning edges.

8. Honey
Honey is a light humectant that also has antibacterial properties. Check out Oyin Handmade products! They use tons of oyin (the Yoruba word for "honey") in their sweet hair treats.

9. Avocado/Avocado Oil
Many natural hair products use avocado since it's packed with vitamins A, D, E, and contains more potassium than bananas. Easily absorbed into the skin, avocado oil is a quick way to get multiple nutrients onto your scalp for improved hair growth.

10. Tea Tree Oil
With potent antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, tea tree oil is a soothing remedy to a dry scalp. It is an essential (concentrated) oil, so a little goes a VERY long way. Over-application of a potent essential oil may actually cause irritation.

As many of these ingredients are indigenous to other countries, we strongly suggests buying these products "fair trade," where the people who make the product from harvest to packaging are paid fair wages!

Organic and unrefined versions of these ingredients work best and ensure the retention of nutrients.

What are some of YOUR favorite ingredients in natural hair products?

Hi! I’m Annisa LiMara (pronounced Ah-nee-sah La-Mar-rah) Mitchell, owner and founder of A’LiMara Swimwear and Resortwear. I am a fashion designer, stylist, fine artist, and beauty guru so I consider myself very well rounded in the arts. I was born and raised in Jackson, MS and lived in Maryland/DC for 5 years. I received my Bachelors Degree in Art at Tougaloo College, currently getting my Masters of Business in Marketing and will be launching my next Swimwear collection in summer 2014.

My hair journey has been one of highs and lows... from battling frizz, bad perms, flatirons, hair color, long hair, short hair and everything in between. Here is my story...

Read On!>>>
How long have you been natural?
I was first natural as a child and had really long, frizzy hair that was hard to tame but my mom kept it braided, in pigtails, and hot combed. I got my first perm at age 8 by my aunt (without Mom's consent) so needless to say she was irate. It eventually grew out and once I turned 13, I started getting relaxers again about 2 or 3 times a year until I moved to Maryland at the age of 16. There I discovered I could do my own relaxer and hair color. After a while it became entirely too frequent to the point that it got so thin and unhealthy I was forced to go cold turkey and officially went “natural” fall 2005 (although I didn’t know it was going natural at the time). It will be 8 years this fall.

What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper & why?
My hair was always thick and long and I was often praised because of it.  So when I damaged my hair my senior year in high school and everyone started asking me, “what happened to your gorgeous hair?”, that became the ultimate motivator. I gradually let the relaxer grow out because I didn’t want to cut it off so I kept it straightened and would get a few inches cut every 8 weeks until all the perm finally grew out. It was a really interesting but rewarding time because my hair was gaining its strength back and unbeknownst to me, started to become curly. Within a year, my hair was back healthy and I began a routine of wearing it natural or straightening it with a flat iron. Eventually all of my hair grew back until I cut it into a bob and decided for my 25th birthday I wanted to transition into a big chop. New age milestone and phase in my life…why not??

What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part was my so called transition into the Big Chop which actually ended up being an actual BIG CHOP! Let me explain… I went to Super Cuts, which I’ve been to before, however, I ended up going to a different stylist that I wasn’t sure I should let cut my hair at all. I told her I wanted my bob to be shorter for the transition and showed pictures but she ended up butchering the back of my head to nearly less than an inch. I was horrified! I quickly went to JCPennys hair salon to see if they could fix it but the stylist ended up cutting ALL of my hair in the front shorter than I wanted it and I abruptly left in tears! The worst experience ever! I went home to straighten to at least see if I could wear a pixie but my hair was uneven all over and too thick to lay flat for a sleek hair do, thus began my journey of my TWA.

Right after big chop…so much heat damage

Last time straightening my after big chop

What were some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles?
To cope with my new short hair, I initially wore many protective styles which are still some of my favorites (such as custom wigs I make myself)!

What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
I’ve had two different experiences in my natural hair journey which was before my accidental BC and after. Before, over 85% of the time I kept it straightened which I was really proud of because I didn’t need a relaxer and I was really good at getting it “bone straight”.  However, the frizzy nature of my hair caused it to be a nuisance and humidity was not my friend! It became an addiction and although my hair was still curly when washed, there was so much heat damage I couldn’t style it and it wouldn’t curl up all over the way I wanted. Straightening my hair kept me limited and in a box that I didn’t even realize I was in. It made me a slave to my hair and not allowing me to embrace my naturally frizzy hair. Although the Big Chop was traumatic, it turned out to be a blessing because now my hair is exactly how I want it and I’ve been able to inspire others around me to embrace going natural or if they already are, to wear it as is. My mother and other loved ones were NOT happy about my short hair because it was dramatic from the image I had for so long. Some of my family members still don’t understand it and ask all the time “when are you going to straighten it” and I say 'whenever I choose to'! At first I was ashamed of it and made wigs to make me feel more feminine and more like my old self. However, as I started to grow into it, my frame of mind changed and although I still wear protective styles such as custom wigs and Marley twists, it is not because I’m ashamed of my hair but just to switch it up like we females love to do!

What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
When I first big chopped I had a lot of heat damaged so for the first 5 months I cut the ends until all of the damage was gone. I’m currently wearing my natural hair daily so I wash or co wash 2 or 3 times a week. My regimen is pretty simple, I just wash twice and mix my conditioner with a mixture of oils (almond oil, coconut oil, vegetable glycerin, and castor oil), comb thoroughly, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. After washing and conditioning, I mainly use coconut oil for moisture and just go or I define curls with coconut cream and pick it out.

My favorite products include Organix, Suave Naturals, Aveda, and natural oils.

As far as my wigs go, I no longer wear sew ins because of the damage it can cause so I make my wigs with lace front closures to protect my hair and have the option of taking it off every night or sewing it around the perimeter of my head for a few days at a time.

What are some of your favorite natural hair websites, YouTuber’s, or blogs?
My all time favorite is TarenGuy, who by the way inspired me to want a big chop for my 25th birthday last year. I also enjoy Liquidlinerlover, Andrea’s Choice, Naptural85, HairCrush, and Fusion of Cultures. I read all of their blogs as well as,, and It is amazing to see how these women have been able to reach natural hair of all types and it has inspired me to do the same.

Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
I’ve learned that women do not have to be tied down by society’s standards of what beauty is and to embrace all types of hair. I have personally become more confident, free and expressive in my natural hair because I’ve accepted it. Many women think they have to wear weave or have a certain type of curl to be considered beautiful but the truth is that you don’t have to be anything or anyone but who you are which is who God called us to be. My journey has been a unique experience that has taught me so many lessons about my hair and more importantly, who I am to the core. I’ve learned to embrace all sides of me and continuing to learn the meaning of self love. It’s ironic how something as simple and vein as hair can lead you to such a revelation but one has to understand that there is something much deeper than what the eye can see. God created me in his image uniquely and beautifully, therefore I accept who I am and my beauty irrevocably.

Where can people find you for more information?
[email protected]
Instagram: @ilovealimara
Facebook: A’LiMara by Annisa LiMara
Tumblr: ilovealimara
Twitter:@ilovealimara (relaunch coming soon)

Global Couture is trying to spread the word about embracing your natural hair. Love your HAIR, if it is wavy, curly, kinky or coily.
Are you naturally fierce? Email us to share your hair journey at [email protected].

by Tammy of CurlyChics

When the love of your natural hair crosses the line to Obsessionville, it may be time to reevaluate some things and reprioritize. The domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc. is the definition of obsession. Here are 7 signs that you are dangerously close:

1. You treat your hair like another human being

You often refer to your coils as "her", as if you are speaking about one of your friends and have even given them a name.

"Mahogany and I are spending some quality time together this weekend”.

Read On!>>>

2. No conversation goes by without mention of your hair
Your friends are apprehensive about even mentioning the word “hair” for fear that you will start on a natural hair tirade. You repeatedly chant India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” however; your afro almost always ends up being the topic of discussion. You turn something totally unrelated into a dialogue about natural hair.

Your friend: “It’s raining outside”
You: “I’m glad I’m natural, I don’t have to worry about rain”

3. You spend hour after hour perusing the Natural Hair blogs and Twitter
Your entire day is centered around the latest and greatest products or hairstyles for natural hair. You find it difficult to focus at work until you’ve had your cup of joe and done your daily natural hair blog browsing and you can’t wait to get home to your laptop in the evenings to continue.

4. You are always giving unsolicited hair advice

You are in line at Macy’s and overhear two ladies behind you talking about how damaged their hair is. You immediately turn around and start testifying about how healthy your hair is because you are natural. You then proceed to tell them that their hair will never be healthy until they make the decision to let go of the creamy crack.

5. You are like Chicago in the movie, “Poetic Justice”, walking around with your hair tool of choice so that at any given moment, you can whip it out and coif your mane.

6. You change your hairstyle several times throughout the day to showcase how versatile natural hair is. At least that's the reasoning you give but the real reaosn is you just can't keep your hands out of your hair nor your face out of the mirror.

7. You must publicly display your love for your natural hair by purchasing every natural hair t-shirt on the market.

Nothing wrong with a dose of pride about your decision to live life as a naturalista, but too much of anything is never good. BTW, after writing this, I realize I described myself in this post. ☺

Follow Tammy on Twitter or Facebook!

Are you hair obsessed?