A Few of My Favorite Things

As I have often said, I am firmly against Product Junkie-ism.  I believe in finding a few products that work and sticking to them.  However, there is no harm in trying out new things from time to time, and sometimes you will find new products that you prefer or work better.

I generally do not do product reviews, and I have never done a solicited product review for anyone.  But in the past few months have tried some different products that I have added into my personal maintenance routine, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite things for loc care and maintenance:

1. L'Oreal EverPure Sulfate-Free Color Care System

When you have colored tresses, it is important to protect your investment by using shampoos and conditioners that will minimize fading.  This shampoo and the accompanying conditioners are designed for colored hair, but L'Oreal also makes several other products for non-color treated hair in this same sulfate-free line (my daughter uses the EverCreme products).  The EverPure shampoo and conditioner leave my locs incredibly soft, but not weighed down.  I use the conditioner regularly, but the Restorative Masque is great for using after you've done a clarifying treatment on your hair (which strips out the excess oils and goo from your locs) or anytime your locs feel dried out.  And the best part is that it leaves your locs smelling absolutely amazing with its rosemary and juniper scent. This has by far been my favorite shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair.

2.  SheaMoisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo and Purification Masque

I recently purchased this shampoo and conditioner on a whim while looking for a clarifying shampoo.  It was on sale at Target so I decided to try it.  As I was shampooing my locs, I honestly didn't like the feel at all.  I actually had to look at my hair to make sure it was lathering, and it felt like I was drying my hair all the way out.  The purification masque kind of had the same feel, like it wasn't very moisturizing.  HOWEVER, keep in mind that these are clarifying products, meaning they are meant to strip the excess oils and buildup out of your hair.  Once I moisturized my locs and dried them, they felt amazing.  It definitely did the job of removing the gunk that was weighing down and dulling my locs, and my hair feels much softer and lighter and the sheen came back.  I'm definitely keeping these in the rotation for the occasional clarifying treatment in addition to my apple cider vinegar rinses.

3.  Ixora Botanical Beauty Macani Miracle Butter

I learned about this small independent business via her customers on Twitter who absolutely swear by her all-natural products.  I happened to be  looking for a new moisturizing product, as I had been using coconut oil which was very moisturizing, but I was noticing that it was starting to weigh my locs down after awhile (thus my need to seek out the products in #2 above).  After reading a few tweet reviews, I decided to order the Macani Miracle Butter.  I. Am. HOOKED.  This is, by far, the best moisturizing product I have ever used in my 10 years of locking.   I am always hesitant to use butters on my locs for fear of it building up and weighing my locs down, but this stuff just melts into your hair.  And a little of Ixora products truly do go a long way; just using a small amount leaves my locs incredibly soft and shiny with zero weight or greasy residue.  I apply it right after washing my locs before I dry them, and usually don't have to apply any more until after my next washing (though I do wash my locs once or twice a week).  The ingredients include Macadamia Nut Butter, Nilotica Shea Butter, Illipe Butter, Argan Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Emu Oil, Honey, Peppermint Oil, Tea Tree Oil, and Ylang Ylang Oil.  The smell is absolutely wonderful and compliments the other products I use in my hair.  I've also tried (and loved) a few of her other products, including the Whip It Up shea butter, the Cara Hermosa facial butter, the Ash Today Gone Tomorrow butter, and......

4. Ixora Botanical Beauty Loc and Twist Butter

Results of the Ixora Loc & Twist Butter
I had previously been using Carol's Daughter Loc Butter for retwisting my roots, but I was never really 100% comfortable with it because it contains beeswax, which is a big bad naughty no-no for loc buildup.  However, since I only using it sparingly on just the roots of the locs along my hairline (I latch the rest of my hair and rarely retwist my entire head), I was okay with using it.  So when Ixora promised to develop a loc butter that contained no beeswax, I was intrigued.  Like the Macani Miracle Butter, I absolutely love it.  It is incredibly light and creamy, but has a great hold that leaves my roots smooth and shiny using just a very tiny dab on each loc.  Ingredients include Nilotica Shea Butter, Hempseed Butter, Avocado Butter, Aloe Vera Gel, Coconut Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Macadamia Oil, Peppermint Oil, Teatree Oil, Vitamin E Oil.  Again, smells amazing, and feels great on my scalp.  I must also say that I've been impressed with how fast Ixora makes and ships their products.  And for you environmentally conscious people (or people like me who love free stuff) they have a recycling program.  Good customer service is always a plus with me. 

So there you have my all-star cast of products that have me absolutely in love with my locs right now.  They have never felt so soft, light and shiny in all my years of locking.  I often find myself mindlessly stroking my own locs because I just love how they feel, and I love when I turn my head just right and catch a whiff of their delectable scent.  These are a few of my favorite things, and I hope some of them become a few of yours, too.

It's Been a Long Time.... I Shouldn'tve Left You

I started this blog two years ago with the thought that I would fill it regularly with all of my loc wisdom that I have accumulated since 2002. I'm sorry to admit that I have failed miserably, and for that I apologize. But, in my mind, there just isn't that much to locs that I can't sum up in one sentence: Wash 'em, moisturize 'em, twist/latch 'em (if you feel like it), and style 'em. On a day-to-day basis, that's pretty much all I do with my locs. I don't go through 8 hour routines of washing, no 'pooing, deep conditioning, detangling, moisturizing, twisting, untwisting, protective styling, etc. that the loose natural women go through. That's part of the reason I went back to locs in the first place (NOT saying that locs are better than loose natural for that reason, because loose naturals are gorgeous as well). I got over my Product Junkie phase, trying out a new product or technique every other week, a very long time ago. Basically what I am trying to say is: I just don't have much to say.

However, I do get plenty of questions on Twitter about various things that perhaps in my 10 years of loc'dom that I take for granted. I'm sure I had a thousand and one questions when I first started locking.... In fact, I am sure of it, because I was on at least three Yahoogroup loc listservs (back in my day, we didn't have all these websites and message boards and blogs and Twitter and Facebook groups). Forgive my old head status.

So, I need your help, and your questions. What do you want and need to know about locs? What questions do you have? Feel free to e-mail me at naturalafrodisiacblog [at] gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @afrodisiaclocs and perhaps we can help each other out.


Afrodisiac Formula #3: NaturaLocs

Natural Afrodisac is proud to present NaturaLocs, a loc (and music) aficionado from "across the pond" as she shares her afrodisiac formula:

Tell us who you are, where you're from, what you do.

Hi, I'm NaturaLocs, a music teacher from England UK.

When and why did you decide to go natural and/or start locs?

I decided that locs were for me in Nov 2011 and entered 2012 as a new natural. I think locs are beautiful and I needed a change. Locs will signify my transition from a negative past to a positive future.

What method did you use to transition to natural hair and/or what method did you use to start your locs?

I started wearing kinky twist extensions for about 2 months and cut my hair down to a TWA shortly after. My locs were started with comb coils.

What is your favorite way to style your hair?

I like wearing head scarves and throw in occasional flat twists when shrinkage isn't against me :)

What are 3 products or tools you cannot live without?

I couldn't live without water, olive oil and baking soda for a good cleanse.

What have been some of the challenges and rewards you've experienced with going natural and/or cultivating locs? 

Social confidence has been a challenge recently, it's hard for people to understand why you'd have such "rough" looking hair by choice! I've been inspired to change other aspects of my life and have become more self aware.

What advice do you have for anyone interested in going natural and/or growing locs?

6 months progress
Do it when it feels right, prepare for how to look after your hair in it's new state and avoid obsessing over the wealth of info on the net it can be overwhelming. Only you know for certain what your hair is going through - act accordingly not impulsively.

Where can we find you on the interweb? 

My corner of the web can be found here: http://naturalocs.blogspot.co.uk 
Hair and loc questions to: naturalocs@hotmail.co.uk


The Secret to Long Natural Hair is Out!

Finally!! Natural hair vlogger ChescaLocs has discovered the secret to long, beautiful natural hair.  Whether you have a fro, twist or locs, this product works for everyone.  And she was kind enough to share it with us all.  Even Myleik Teele, founder of CurlBox, endorses this product.  Now, you too can get the long, luxurious locs or full, bountiful afro that you have long coveted on the internet, TV, and magazines.  Hold onto your wallets, because all you need is.......  *drum roll*

Yup. That's it.  If you were hoping for another "miracle" serum or oil to add to the big basket of products under your sink, I'm sorry to tell you that this is the only guaranteed way to have long (natural) hair.   We have become such an instant gratification society that people forget the value and effectiveness of good old fashioned patience.  There is a Zen quote that is a favorite of mine: "Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself."  It is the exact same thing with your hair.  I have heard of people going so far as to put anti-fungal yeast infection medication on their scalp in attempts to make their hair grow faster, when bottom line it just takes patience.  There is nothing that you need to do or add, just let nature do what it does.

I view my locs as a life lesson in patience; that's what they represent to me, and what I hope my children have taken from their own locs. People ask us "Oh! How did you get your hair so long and pretty??" and my answer is "Nothing."  "Nothing" is an oversimplified answer, but the real answer is not much more complicated: it's patience.  Patience is the reason why I am a big advocate of the Big Chop method of transitioning to natural hair.  Patience is why I am not an advocate of "loc extensions" as a way of starting locs.  It is hair, it WILL grow back with no effort or intervention on your part (besides, of course, keeping your overall health in order).  Stop obsessing over the length of your hair and one day you will look up and realize "Wow.... my hair is really long."   

So, save the Monistat for your lady parts, leave the new miracle products on the store shelf, and put away your rulers.  You already have everything you need to get the long, beautiful hair that you so desperately desire....Patience.


Hair Wars: To Perm or Not to Perm

News reporter Rochelle Ritchie made headlines after her "big chop" & transition to natural hair.
Natural hair is not just an aesthetic issue. It has many social, cultural, political and even economic implications. Michel Martin, host of the "Tell Me More" segment on NPR, speaks to a panel on natural hair, including Michelle Breyer, founder of NaturallyCurly.com, Danielle Belton, author of the blog, Blacksnob.com, and Rochelle Ritchie, a reporter for WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida.  The story originally aired on December 29th, 2010 on NPR.  Take a listen....

(Or if you would prefer to read the story instead, you can find the transcript here.)