On Tuesday, March 27th, 2014 we published an article titled Are the Proposed Army Changes Discriminatory to Women With Natural Hair?. This post outlined the new regulations the U.S. Army's AR 670-1 created on natural hair. 

The Congressional Black Caucus recently penned a letter to Secretary Charles Hagel of the U.S. Department of Defense demanding change in the controversial natural hair grooming standards for the U.S. Armed Forces. At the beginning of April, AR 670-1 made public their requirements for hygiene and grooming changes which many believe ultimately affected African American soldiers (who make up one-third of the Army).

Their letter is pictured, stating "We strongly encourage you to reconsider the updated regulation as it relates to grooming standards...We urge you to consider the direction in which the updated regulation will ultimately lead the Armed Forces."

What do you think about the overwhelming response from the natural community on the recent U.S. Army grooming standards? Do you think they are biased and racially directed? 

Mom Gifts Made Easy

Recall from yesterday's post (how to actually enjoy your mom's NYC visit, rather than just twiddle your thumbs and stare at each other over the prix fixe omelets at the same brunch place you always go to anyway) that Mother's Day is Sunday, May 11. Recall from the dozens of unused candles in the cabinet below her sink that she doesn't need another. And finally, recall from the laws of nature that flowers last five days tops. This year, make an effort to be a touch more thoughtful and give a gift not only on time, but one that also took a twinge of effort. Consider:

Designer playing cards + a bottle of spirits + hand-written instructions to your favorite drinking game. This is for the mom that likes to party—"entertain," in the adult world. Alber Elbaz lent his illustrating abilities to a two-deck set of Lanvin playing cards, which will pair adorably your handwritten instructions on how to play Kings, the drink—entertaining game.

Hanging planters + culinary herb seeds. Does your mother cook? Do you always get her cookbooks and/or gift certificates to Williams Sonoma? Go nuts with this year's present and send her a set of Boskke Sky Planter Minis, some basil, mint, and cilantro seeds, and instructions to hang the plants by the kitchen window so she can conveniently pluck from them as she makes dinner.

A chic new wallet + DIY coupons. You already know that moms love paying for things, so pimp her handbag with the sleek pebbled leather Miranda Continental Wallet from Michael Kors. You also know that no mom wallet is complete without a healthy set of coupons, so fill it with the home-made variety you used to dole out as a child, although these will include a QR code (seeing as though it is 2014...), and they'll be for things like phone conversations longer than three minutes and an email with a current photo of yourself so she doesn't have to pull from your Facebook—because nobody wants their mothers going through their Facebook photos.

Pearl studs from the cool Brooklyn jewelry shop. What else do moms love? Your cool neighborhood shopping destination. They relish in being able to respond to an accessory compliment like, "Why thank you! My cool daughter got it for me at this cute little shop in Brooklyn!" Pearl studs are a failsafe, but can be a bit uninspired—that is unless you got them at that cute little shop in Brooklyn, obviously. The two-toned, double-ended Hortense Majorette Pearl Earrings from Catbird are like mini pearl batons for your ears and have been ITG mom tested and approved.

A pretty set of face towels + cleansing bar. Since you're out of the house, your mom now has all the time in the world for a luxurious evening skincare routine. Gift her an Erno Laszlo cleansing bar (the golden Phelityl bar is great for dry skin) and a set of seven Aurelia Probiotic Skincare woven bamboo facial cloths—a new one for each day of the week.

Wooden iPhone amplifier + custom playlist. The Koostik Wooden Amplifier is a genius mom gift as it takes almost no technical know-how (not that moms aren't capable of figuring that stuff out, but a gift should be easy, right?), and she can use it in a variety of situations from toting it along to the garden to the kitchen, to the pool...anywhere—it doesn't even need to be plugged in. She can blast the playlist you make her in literally any situation she feels comfortable. And if you're wondering what kind of music moms like: Rod Stewart, James Taylor, and the Bee Gees.

A custom engraved hairbrush.  Wouldn't it be adorable to give your mom something she'll use every day that simultaneously reminds her of how much you care about her? Buy her a pocket Mason Pearson brush (moms die for stuff they can throw in their purse), and take it to your nearest trophy engraver (employed unofficially but also single-handedly by the local youth sports league), and have them engrave her name, which is "Mom," on the back. If you think it can't be done, know that Guido has his name etched into the back of his Mason Pearson.

Illustrations by Annie Kreighbaum

Believe it or not, many carrier oils, which are often used directly on hair or in products, expire. Changes can be observed in the texture, color, and scent of these oils as the fats breakdown. Once the odor becomes unpleasant, it’s time to dispose of it. Typically, there is a best used by date or expiration on the packaging. The way you store oils can contribute to improved shelf life. Some oils are best refrigerated which can sometimes almost double the already pre-determined shelf-life. Your best bet would be to make sure your oils are stored in air-tight containers, in a cool, dry, dark place. Here is a list of commonly found oils in skin and hair products:


Almond Oil (unrefined)
Shelf Life of 1 year
Botanical Name: Prunus dulcis
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed / Unrefined
Color: Light gold to clear
Obtained From: The kernel
Contains: Glucosides, minerals, vitamins, oleic acid and sterolins
Uses: Can reduce shedding and help with dandruff

Argan Oil
Shelf Life of 2 years
Botanical Name: Argania spinosa
Origin: Morocco
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed / Unrefined
Color: Light/medium golden brown
Obtained From: The nuts
Contains: Considered a very rich and nutritious oil high in Vitamin E and antioxidants. Contains sterols with anti-inflammatory properties.
Uses: Good source of vitamin E, adding shine and luster

Avocado Oil (unrefined)
Shelf Life of 1 year
Botanical Name: Persea gratissima
Origin: France
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed / Unrefined
Color: Rich, dark, thick green
Obtained From: Fruit
Contains: High in Vitamin E, lecithin and phytosterols
Uses: Known for it’s healing, anti-bacterial and anti-wrinkle properties


Babbasu Oil
Shelf Life of 1 – 2 years
Botanical Name: Orbignya oleifera
Origin: Brazil
Extraction Method: Expeller / Refined
Color: White / semi-solid
Obtained From: The fruit
Contains: Very high in essential fatty acids
Uses: Conditioning, protective, and helps to keep other carrier oils from going rancid; similar to coconut oil

Brazil Nut Oil
Shelf Life of 2 years
Botanical Name: Bertholletia excelsa
Origin: Brazil
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed / Gently Refined
Color: Clear yellow with a slightly nutty aroma
Obtained From: The nut
Contains: Highest content of selenium, as well as 70% fat content (very rich); 17% protein
Uses: Excellent lubricant and conditioner for the skin and in your hair care routine


Carrot Seed Oil
Shelf Life of 1 year
Botanical Name: Daucus carota
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold pressed
Color: Rich, dark green
Obtained From: The seed
Contains: Vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene vitamins (B,C,D,E), minerals, beta carotene, provitamin A and EFA’s
Uses: Prevents premature aging, itching, burns, dryness, psoriasis and eczema; rejuvenating, reduces scarring; said to stimulate hair growth.

Castor Oil
Indefinite Shelf Life
Botanical Name: Ricinus communis
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold pressed
Color: Clear
Obtained From: The castor bean
Uses: Improves hair’s shine, growth and condition of scalp

Coconut Cream/Oil
Shelf Life of 2 – 4 years
Botanical Name: Cocos nucifera
Origin: India
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed / Centrifuged / Organic / Virgin
Color: White
Obtained From: Fresh coconut flesh
Uses: Conditioning, protective, and helps to keep other carrier oils from going rancid


Emu Oil
Shelf Life of 1 year (refrigeration recommended)
Grade ‘A’, Australian Emu Oil, produced under the Strict Australian Emu Oil regulations (equivalent to the USDA). The birds are totally free range, feeding on an all natural diet, which includes natural plants with antibiotic properties. No growth hormones or medicines are used, and they are not fed on corn, meat meal or hydrogenated oil feed. This is the real thing, as natural as you can get. All the natural fatty acids are preserved by low temperature refining processes and refrigerated storage.

Evening Primrose Oil
Shelf Life of 6 months to 1 yea (refrigeration recommended)
Botanical Name: Oenothera biennis
Origin: Australia
Extraction Method: Cold pressed / unrefined
Color: Yellow and rich
Obtained From: The seed
Contains: Gamma linolenic acid, vitamins, minerals
Uses: Can be used in shampoos for dry hair, in lotions and creams for dry skin and eczema


Flax Seed Oil (organic)
Shelf Life of 6 months (refrigeration recommended)
Botanical Name: Linum usitatissimum
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold pressed
Color: Medium to dark yellow
Obtained From: The seed
Contains: High concentration of Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Uses: Internally said to reduce cholesterol; externally, useful for oily skin, acne, psoriasis, and eczema; high level of vitamin e makes it useful for preventing scarring and stretch marks.


Grapeseed Oil
Shelf Life of 1 year
Botanical Name: Vitis vinifera
Origin: Chile
Extraction Method: Cold pressed
Color: Clear pale green
Obtained From: The seed
Contains: Vitamins, minerals, proteins
Uses: Is the lightest of the oils and virtually odorless.; very “drying”, which should be kept in mind when making products for dry-skin problems


Hemp Seed Oil (organic)
Shelf Life of 1 year (Should be refrigerated)
Botanical Name: Cannabis sativa
Origin: Canada
Extraction Method: Cold pressed / Unrefined / Organic
Color: Deep, rich green
Obtained From: Finola Hempseed
Contains: Vit A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D & E
Uses: Reduce skin discomfort by soothing and restoring dry or damaged skin and increasing the natural moisture retention capacity; slows down the effects of skin aging and leave the skin smooth, soft and conditioned


Jojoba Oil (refined)
Indefinite Shelf Life
Botanical Name: Simmondsia chinensis
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Expeller pressed / refined
Color: Very rich, clear
Obtained From: The jojoba bean
Contains: Protein, minerals, a waxy substance that mimics collagen
Uses: Provides protection and emolliency while still allowing the skin to breathe; anti oxidant, may help extend the life of other oils.


Neem Seed Oil (unrefined)
Shelf Life of 2 years
Botanical Name: Azadirachta Indica
Origin: India
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed / Virgin
Color: Dark, rich green/brown
Obtained From: The seed
Contains: Triterpenes more specifically, limonoids such as azadirachtin, salannin, meliantriol, nimbin, nimbidin, meliantriol, deacetylazadirachtinol, salannin, salannol, 3-deacetylsalannin etc.
Uses: Strongly scented, aiding the process of healing with it’s anti-bacterial properties; used for all skin disorders such as fungicide, conditioning, regenerating and restoring, antiseptic, insecticide


Olive Oil Pomace
Shelf Life of 2 years
Botanical Name: Olea Europaea
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Expeller
Color: Medium olive
Obtained From: The olive
Contains: Rich in minerals, vitamins, proteins, essential fatty acids
Uses: Conditioning, cleansing, softening, absorbs easily, anti-oxidant for hair and skin


Palm Oil (unrefined)
Shelf Life of 2 years
Botanical Name: Elaeis guineensis
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed
Color: Deep orange/red
Obtained From: The palm fruit
Contains: Very rich in carotene and anti-oxidant tocotrienols
Uses: Able to penetrate hair shaft to impart moisture

Pumpkin Seed Oil (unrefined)
Shelf Life of 1 year
Botanical Name: Cucurbita Pepo
Origin: France
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed
Color: Dark green to black
Obtained From: The seed
Contains: Rich in zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A, omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids.
Uses: Used for its emollient properties, very rich and thick


Rose Hip Seed Oil
Shelf Life of 6 months (Needs to be refrigerated, as this oil is quick to go rancid)
Botanical Name: Rosa Rubiginosa aka Rosa Mosqueta
Origin: Chile
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed / Unrefined / Organic
Color: Beautiful reddish orange
Obtained From: The seed
Contains: High in fatty acids. Linoleic (48%); linolenic (35%); Oleic (16%); palmitic (8%)
Uses: Remarkable for damaged, agitated, dry, mature skin. Moisturizes hair and nourishes scalp with vitamin A


Safflower Oil
Shelf Life of 2 years
Botanical Name: Carthamus tinctorius
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Expeller Pressed / Refined
Color: Very mild clear yellow
Obtained From: Safflower
Contains: High in linoleic acid
Uses: Excellent to condition the skin and rich in ceramides.

Shea Oil
Shelf Life of 1 year
Botanical Name: Butyrospermum parkii
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed (a fractionated oil by product of the shea butter process) Color: Yellow to gold
Obtained From: The seed of the Karite tree
Contains: Oleic, Palmitic, Linoleic, Alpha-Linolenic, Stearic
Uses: Anti-inflammatory, used for dry skin ,eczema, etc.


Wheat Germ Oil (unrefined)
Shelf Life of 1 year
Botanical Name: Triticum vulgare
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed and Unrefined
Color: Dark orange
Obtained From: The wheat kernel
Contains: Highest level of natural vitamin E
Uses: Rich in ceramides which help to improve the condition of hair and skin


What oils do you find most often in your hair/skin products ? Which do you prefer to use in it’s pure form?

The satin strip braid-out has been my rock over the past few years. As an early transitioner, I used the technique to create texture where there was one (severe heat damage will do that to ya). In the later part of my transition, it was my go-to texture blending style. It is the perfect style for a weekend or special night, and requires minimal skill. There are two methods to the satin strip braidout, and both yield similar results. Which one you go with is simply a matter of the current state of your hair. Let's jump right in:

Read ON!>>>

Recommended for early transitioners or naturals looking for 100% texture blending

This method involves braiding the satin strip into your hair from the root. For new transitioners, this look creates texture and uniformity from the root to the end--with the added benefit of not having super tapered, crinkly-looking thin ends that most regular braidouts result in. For naturals, this method also creates that same texture and uniformity all the way down. It is perfect for any texture of hair, seriously! Satin strip braid-outs on looser hair textures will result in increased definition, and tighter, coily or kinky textures will see more elongated hair.

Watch the video tutorial:


Recommended for long-term transitioners and naturals

This method carried me and saved tons of time at the later stages of my transition. Once you have a significant amount of newly natural hair (transitioning for 9 months or more), you can begin a regular braid and then integrate the satin strip at the line of demarcation. This method is perfect for creating the illusion of 100% natural hair. For naturals just looking for an extra oomph at the ends of hair, this method is perfect. If your ends don't stay braided, twisted, coiled, or you find yourself looking for perm rods to hold your ends often, this method is for you.

What You'll Need
  • Satin Strips - 18-20 cut from a satin scarf, about 1.5 inches thick each
  • ACV Spritz - for shine, body, and to help close cuticles
  • Lawrence Ray Concepts Mega Bounce & Body Leave-In Conditioner - water-based moisture
  • Rapunzel The Future of Hair, Hair Lotion - for extra moisture
  • Jessicurl Spiralicious Gel - for hold
  • Rapunzel The Future of Hair, Hair Silk - to seal ends and fluff/separate
You can definitely feel free to use any combination of moisturizers and definers that you choose. Some of my favorite stylers that I've used previously are EcoStyler Gel (green) and Obia Curl Enhancing Custard. Or, for a much softer (and not nearly as long lasting) result you can use moisturizer only and a little bit of butter of choice. You can also read my product reviews for both

Read my product reviews for these items in the "product review" section of my blog, www.maneobjective.com.

Watch the video tutorial:

And finally, a few tips before starting your own satin strip braidout:
  • Start on freshly washed and conditioned hair. The style can be achieved on dirty hair, but will yield better and longer-lasting results if the hair is clean.
  • DO NOT SEPARATE THE HAIR! The magic in the satin strip braidout happens when the hair is kept together. For Method 1, the satin strip forms 2 sections of hair for the braid, and the hair itself is the 3rd section. In Method 2 the same concept applies, but only after braiding your hair to the point where you want to include the satin strip.
  • Make sure your hair is 100% dry before taking down, or else the braid-out will swell and lose definition-- resulting in a short lived style (unless that's the look you're going for).
Good luck satin stripping! Wait, that didn't sound right...

Open Thread: Is Self-Tanner Still A Thing?

In college, I used self-tanner the same way I used NoDoz: too much. I loved the stuff; I went through bottles. I got it sprayed on. I used foam, gel, and towelettes. I am the color of popcorn, and at the time it seemed like everyone not only approved of me constantly dyeing myself, but also actively wanted me to be dipping my body in DHA on a weekly basis and were doing the same. I was like an Easter egg left in its lil color bath a touch too long—but I was so happy! And then one day (I would say the exact same day I moved to Mumbai, where self-tanning just made all my friends laugh at me), it simply ceased to be a thing. I didn't miss the chemical-death smell, or the zebra streaks, or walking around the house trying unsuccessfully not to touch anything, so I just never went back.

But once in a while I'd see some fellow Casper gone all Jersey Shore and sigh, or fleetingly consider the fact that tan people look like 10 pounds thinner, and wouldn't that be nice? Honestly, I've been having weird tanning pangs ever since the weather warmed up. After you've had a taste of Jergens Natural Glow, it seems, the hunger never really goes away. But I'm not sure it's even feasible at this point. I'm a redhead these days; at least in college I was beach-y blonde, so the whole thing made aesthetic sense. Now I might just look like some kind of insane anthropomorphic carrot.

So I'm asking you, dearest internet friends: Is self-tanning still something I should be doing, or should I just stop being so sentimental and get on with the business of being pale? And what about you? Are you a fan, or not so much? Opinions, questions, and critiques, s'il vous plaît!

—Your Friendly Neighborhood Lacey

Photo of Marisa Berenson shot by Gianni Penati in January 1968.