Hair Typing 101


So much drama:
Be it blogs, vlogs or websites, hang around any natural hair forum long enough, and you'll hear some level of discussion/debate on the topic of hair typing. Whether describing the different types, debating the pros/cons to the system, or cliqueing up by type; the whole topic can be a bit overwhelming.

Like so many things coming off the natural hair bandwagon, when it comes to hair typing, I find that there is a pinch of good info and a pile of hype.

What is it?
Hair typing is a system used to classify or define the shape of the hair; straight, wavy, curly, or kinky.

I think it is WAY WAY WAY over-hyped. I think it's good for giving us a common language to compare our hair by but other than that, I don't see what it's really good for. I think its' more important to understand the physics behind curl. If you understand that basic science, you can better understand why curly hair is harder to keep shiny, or moist. I discuss all of this...including my opinion on hair typing in my video series on the topic.

So what 'Type' am I?
There are two common classification systems for hair typing; the LOIS system and the Andrew Walker System (yep, Oprah's personal stylist Andre Walker!)

  • L.O.I.S. defines hair based on shape.
    • L:   Like the letter, L-shaped hair is kinky.
    • O:   Like the letter, O- shaped hair is curly
    • I:    Like the letter, I, shaped hair is straight
    • S:   Like the letter, S-shaped hair is wavy

Easy peasy, right? No? Check this out:


  • The Andre Walker System to Hair Typing is a much more detailed (read complex) system that defines the hair's shape and the DEGREE of it's shape. In other words, not only is your hair curly but HOW curly, HOW wavy, HOW straight, etc. 
    • You'll know it's the Andre Walker system being referred to when hair typing is being discussed because the classification is two-part, a number that defines the shape of your hair followed by a letter defining the degree of shape.
    • Like the L.O.I.S. system, the Andre Walker system breaks hair down into 4 shapes. The greater the number, the greater the curl pattern.
      • Type 1: Straight
      • Type 2: Wavy
      • Type 3: Curly
      • Type 4: Kinky

  • Once you've determines the shape and thus number, the next step is to attempt to assess the degree of curl. Personally, I find this a bit much and an area that people can easily get bogged down and confused. I'll let the pictures do the talking but basically, you can think of the letter as a measurement of circumference in the curl (I know, I know!). I don't bother assessing the degree of straightness or waviness but for curly and kinky hair, the degree or letter assesses how wide (or not) the curl is. I think this picture explains better than my rambling can ever do.








The one thing I can say about the Andre Walker system is that for those truly delve into learning the science of hair, it helps one to understand why the shape of your hair's curl pattern determines other properties such as shine, ability to maintain moisture, etc.
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Got it? Check out my two-part video to get even more on hair typing. Remember, knowledge is the key to healthy hair and health is the key to growth









One last thing....it's VERY common to have more than one type of hair on your head. While coarse, my crown is probably a coarse type 2b while the rest of my hair is closer to a type 3a/b. I WISH I had tight, boingy curls like type 3c to type 4a/b/c but God decided against it. It can be frustrating but frustration can be the mother of innovation. I've come to LOVE perm rods. They give my straighter hair the curl that I have in some areas but want all over.


So what 'Type' are you? Share in the comments and come on over to the chat room to gab, gripe, glorify, and share your journey. See you there!

CLICK HERE!

All About Oils


Carrier, Essential, or Crap? Do you know the difference?


The natural oils commonly used in hair and cosmetic products can be categorized into two buckets- essential oils and carrier oils. 
Learn all about both in this video tutorial and the blog below! 


Essential Oils:

Essential oils are called such because they carry the "essence" or scent of the plant/flower/vegetable from which they were derived. Essential oils are often used as perfumes or to give fragrance. Essential oils are VERY strong/highly concentrated so a small amount goes a long way! Using too much of an essential oil can cause irritation/burning. Common essential oils include peppermint oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, tea tree oil, lemon oil, and tea tree oil.

Try it!: 



Tea tree oil (malaleuca oil) is an essential oil with natural antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Because of this, tea tree oil makes a great natural preservative. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your homemade/DIY concoctions to keep them sanitary and to preserve their shelf life! Because of its camphoraceous nature, tea tree oil (like peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus oil) is also good for combating scalp problems such as sensitivity, dryness, and itching. After using an electric razor (ie after a son's haircut or after shaping up your hairline) blot a bit of tea tree oil onto a piece of cotton. Rub the cotton across the hairline, behind the ears and across the forehead. The tea tree oil will prevent the development of hair bumps and limit skin irritation! See how I use it my video on Shaping up Necklines>>>




Lavender oil is one of my favorite essential oils. With its calming scent, lavender has been used for centuries to lower stress, reduce anxiety and facilitate relaxation. Add a few drops to a hot bath and dab a few drops along your pulse points to relieve stress at the end of the day.

Carrier Oils
Carrier oils are called such because they are great for "carrying" or diluting essential oils. Carrier oils seal in moisture, feed your hair (vitamins A.B, C, D, E, proteins, amino acids), stimulate growth (anti-oxidant cell regeneration), and protect your hair (natural sunscreen)! Common carrier oils include grapeseed oil, castor/Jamaican black castor oil, olive/extra virgin olive oil, almond/sweet almond oil, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, argan/Moroccan oil, apricot oil, and jojoba oil.

Try it!


Grapeseed oil is a carrier oil that acts as a great heat protectant. With a smoke point of 400+ degrees, grapeseed oil will protect your hair from the high heat of a blow dryer, flat-iron, or pressing comb. I used grapeseed oil to protect my hair during my first flat-ironing. It worked wonderfully! Check it out>>>


Castor oil is a carrier oil thought to reverse thinning or balding. Use castor oil along your edges or in other areas where thinning/balding is a problem! While plain castor oil is great, Jamaican Black Castor Oil aka JBCO is even better.

 Made from the darker castor beans of Jamaica, JBCO is a rich treatment that should be part of every healthy hair routine. One of my staple/must-have products is the Strong Roots Red Pimento Hair Growth Oil by Tropic Isle Living. It's a rich blend of JBCO, organic coconut oil, glycerine, lemon oil, lavender oil, and the growth-stimulating red pimento oil. Get it online from Oils from Jamaica (www.oilsfromjamaica.com). Use promo code JTMR and you'll get a small discount to help with shipping! Learn all about it in this video review>>>


Despite being called as much, jojoba is not a carrier oil but instead a wax. More than any other oil, jojoba oil closely resembles the structure or skins' natural moisturizer, sebum. For this reason, jojoba oil is a GREAT option for folks with oil sensitivity (ie those with nut-based allergies or those who have skin breakouts as a result of using oil).



Extra virgin olive oil is a carrier oil that is great for cooking and even better for sealing, feeding, and protecting your hair. While olive oil is great, extra virgin olive oil is better for the hair because it is less acidic and goes through less processing than olive oil. If nothing else, most of us always have some EVOO in the cupboard...use it! Dilute your favorite natural butter (shea, coconut, mango) by adding 2 parts extra virgin olive oil to one part butter!

Where can I get them?
Now that you know about oils, you may be wondering where to pick them up. Nowadays more and more grocery and convenience (ie Target, WalMart, Big-Lots, etc) stores carry various oils. Sometimes you'll find them in the cooking section and sometimes you'll find them in the vitamin/herbal supplement section. Three of my favorite places to get oils are Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market, and online at Vitacost (www.vitacost.com). While GNC and Vitamin Shoppe also sell various natural oils, I find that they are a bit more costly than the other options.

Quick Tip:
Try this quick trick to use oils without making a mess!


Chime in!

What are your favorite natural oils? How do you use them? 
Share in the comments section below or come on over to the chat room and chime in! 

Summertime Shoe Pledge

Hello Curlfriends! 

While not about hair, we're here to hold each other down in ALL areas. 
As such and therefore, I must ask your compliance with the summertime shoe pledge.


Please raise your big toe and repeat after me...


As a member of the Cute Girl Club, I pledge to comply with the following rules when wearing sandals or other open-toe/open-back/sling-back shoes:
  • I promise to only wear sandals that fit. My toes will not hang over and touch the ground, nor will my heels spill over the backs.
  • The sides and tops of my feet will not pudge out between the straps.

  • I will go polish-free or vow to keep the polish fresh, intact and chip-free. I will not cheat and just touch up my big toe.
  • I will sand down any mounds of skin before they turn hard and yellow.



  • I will shave the hairs off my big toe.
  • I won't wear pantyhose even if my misinformed girlfriend, coworker, mother, or sister tells me the toe seam really will stay under my toes if I tuck it there. Besides, nobody under the age of 70 does this anymore anyway. It looks a mess!

  • If a strap breaks, I won't duct-tape, pin, glue or tuck it back into place hoping it will stay put. I will get my shoe professionally fixed or toss it.
  • I will not live in corn denial; rather I will lean on my good friend Dr. Scholls if my feet need him.

  • I will resist the urge to buy jelly shoes at Payless for the low, low price of $4.99 even if my feet are small enough to fit into the kids' sizes. This is out of concern for my safety, and the safety of others. No one can walk properly when standing in a pool of sweat and I would hate to take someone down with me as I fall and break my neck.

  • I will take my toe ring off toward the end of the day if my toes swell and begin to look like Vienna sausages.

  • I will be brutally honest with my girlfriend/sister/coworker when she asks me if her feet are too ugly to wear sandals. Someone has to tell her that her toes are as long as my fingers and no sandal makes creepy feet look good.
  • When I wear flip flops, I will ensure that they actually FLIP & FLOP!...making the correct noise while walking. I will NOT slide or drag my feet while wearing them. That is sooooo trifling!
  • I will throw away any white/off-white sandals that show signs of wear... nothing is tackier than some dusty white sandals. 
  • I will go to my local nail salon at least once per season and have a real pedicure




If you find these truths self-evident, please take the pledge and pass it on. Remember, I am my sister's keeper. 



Please share your comments, tips, and reshare. 
See ya' along the journey my friend!


Remember, sites like these only survive with support from you

Your support is MUCH APPRECIATED!!!!!







Remember Blue Magic?




Like me, if you're black and born before 1980, you've probably used your share of Blue Magic. Labeled as an "anti-breakage/conditioner/hair dress", we old heads (no pun intended) call it by its street name, "grease."

Like milk and bread, Blue Magic was a staple in our house growing up. When it was time to part, plait, press, tame, or just grease hair, Blue Magic was ever handy. (Don't act brand new! You know the difference between the grease and to grease.) Yep, me and Ole Blue, we got history. So with history like ours, what could ever make me turn my back on it?

Call it nappy knowledge.While I have some fond memories of Ole Blue; sentiment and sense are two different beasts. And since going natural, I've definitely upped my hair sense. It's that new found hair sense that prompted me to check out the ingredients in Blue Magic.

And knock me off my feet, what did I find?; Petrolatum, lanolin, lecithin, mineral oil, fragrance, green no. 6, and violet no. 2. Yep. that's it folks. So let's get started on those ingredients (or lack thereof)...

No Water: I was shocked but no, Blue Magic does not include water! You'll be hard-pressed (huh, another pun) to find any hair product that doesn't have water as it's primary ingredient. Despite the many hair myths we've been taught, our hair craves water. Beware any "conditioner" product that does not include water as a primary ingredient!

Petrolatum and Mineral Oil:  Theres are synthetic humectants. Humectants seal the hair and lock in moisture. Unlike natural humectants (i.e. shea butter, glycerin, honey) mineral oil and petrolatum provide no added hair health benefits such as nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants or sunscreens. That said, none of these things MOISTURIZE the hair. If your hair does not already have sufficient moisture, these products do not add anything additional. Further, petrolatum and mineral oil are difficult to remove from the hair without harsh detergents, such as sulfates. Learn more about mineral oil and its cousins here



Lanolin: Lanolin is a greasy material produced by the sebaceous glands of sheep. It's a mixture of fatty acids, wax esters, and a other organic compounds. Like Petrolatum and mineral oil, lanolin traps moisture already on the hair but by itself, it does not moisturize. 

Lecithin: A lipid, or fat, the majority of commercial lecithin come from soybean, sunflower and grapeseed. Lecithin is comprised mostly of B vitamins, such as choline and insitol. You can find lecithin in foods such as egg yolks, or take it as a supplement.



Fragrance, Green No 6 and Violet No 2: These ingredients are additives to incorporate scent and color to the hairdress.

Something Positive: I hate to do completely negative product reviews so what can I say positive about Blue Magic? Heck, something must have drawn us to it for all these years. I can say this. If marketed as a hair gel or pomade, I could let "Ole Blue slide. Yes, I can understand my mother using it to add shine, to hold styles, tame frizzies and keep parts straight. But honestly now, Blue Magic is not a conditioner of any kind. Especially not in this day and age when shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, castor oil, etc are so readily available.

So why do you care? Yes, I know that very few people still 'moisturize' with 'grease' (so I hope). 


But whether Blue Magic or the newest, most expensive product du jour, knowing the key ingredients to look for and those to look out for is key to going natural or simply attaining healthy hair. You'd be surprised how common the "bad" ingredients are. And while you cannot always avoid them, you can look for them in lower concentrations (the lower down the list of ingredients, the lower the concentration). So if your'e serious about going natural, take some time out to learn about the key ingredients to hair products. You can get a TON of information in my videos ands blogs but the key is to be willing to learn. The more you know, the more it will grow!


'Til next time fellow Journeyers!!!!!!!!





So what hair moisturizer do I recommend? Well if you've followed me long enough, you know that water is the ONLY moisturizer. Everything else is a styler, a sealant, or a nourishment. Quench Moisturizer by none other than moi is by far the best moisturizer on the market (ok ok oik....I may not be the most objective but the 100s of reviews do give me some confidence.) Learn all about it and order on the order tab of this website. Click the picture below to be directly taken to the page. THANKS!

 Quench Mositurizer


Remember, sites like these only survive with support from you. As the page grows, we all grow as each of us is the support system for someone else. Please repost, re-tweet, like, subscribe to my YT channel and like my FB page. 
Your support is MUCH APPRECIATED!!!!!




The Truth of the Natural/Healthy Hair Journey



If I had a nickel for every time I see a picture with a natural using a ruler to measure their newly natural tresses or flat-ironing within the first few months of going natural to determine their 'progress', I would be rich. Sure, there's nothing wrong with wanting to know but why? Why so soon? 

Remember this is a healthy hair journey.....meaning it's a process. Over the course of your journey, you will evolve. And just as with any evolution, education is key.


If you want to measure your hair with a ruler that's fine. But here's a nugget of wisdom I've learned along my journey thus far. More important than the ruler, the growth you seek stems not from your scalp but from your soul. Spiritual growth will affirm that natural hair, no hair, or long-hair-don't-care.....YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. J Cole said it perfectly in his song Crooked Smile.  'Baby girl you're a star, don't let 'em tell you you're not....Cause what's real is something that the eyes can't see...that the hands can't touch.'




Whatever religion you adhere to is your choice but hopefully you know that the Creator broke the mold when he/she made you. As part of your divine rite, you were given an immeasurable amount of beauty. It cannot be measured by rulers, reflected in magazines, or captured in selfies.


I say all this to say don't get fixated on length. Focusing on length is like putting the cart before the horse. Instead of length, make your focus education. Educate yourself on all things healthy hair. 

Think you know enough already? Great!
Surely you can pass this simple little quiz.....
Feeling a little less sure than you'd thought? No worries! There's tons of great information here as well as on countless other vlogs, blogs, websites, etc. Kimmaytube or luvnaturals is one of my faves when it comes to kicking knowledge. Learning styles is great but learning science is more important as it gives you a firm foundation upon which to build your journey. Check her out below....



Remember to keep this in mind at all times: while eventually freeing, the healthy hair journey is just that; a journey. There's no single point when you're 'done'. Rather, you keep moving. You keep learning and through learning, you keep growing. 


While originally it was just a 'hair thing', my natural/healthy hair journey has become so much more. It's a journey into myself. It's a journey leading me to question everything I've been taught. It's a journey that has led me to redefine everything I'd once used to define beauty. And while I'd always thought I was confident, it was not until I walked into a corporate office or hopping nightclub rocking a TWA that I realized that I too had internalized society's teachings on the standards of beauty for women. 



Well it's been nearly 5 years since I went natural and needless to say that old mindset is gone. I find the beauty exuding from internal qualities far more important than the fleeting beauty that exudes from physical features. 

So whether natural or relaxed; long and blonde or tight and coily my journey has shown me just how beautiful I am.....and call me boastful but this beauty cannot be measured with a ruler!! 
How about you? 
Share your comments in the comments section below.

Remember, sites like these only survive with support from you. As the page grows, we all grow as each of us is the support system for someone else. Please repost, re-tweet, like, subscribe to my YT channel and like my FB page. 
Your support is MUCH APPRECIATED!!!!!


Natural Hair Naming, What's Yours?


I haven't updated my Facebook status but yes, I'm in a relationship....a love, hate relationship with my hair. Perhaps it's that relationship. Perhaps it's the fact that we spend so much time together or perhaps I'm a few crayons short of a box but just like my car, yes, I have a name for my hair!

I call my hair Millie. And just like that old school classic about 'Me and Ms. Jones'
...me and 'Millie'; we got a thang going on!


Some days Millie is frisky. She craves a ridiculous amount of attention and don't get me started on her love of gifts. Be it a beautiful new bandeaux, a gorgeous new head wrap, a dollop of Quench, or some Strong Roots Jamaican Black Castor Oil ; Millie has no chill when it comes to being pampered.







That said, just like a slighted lover, there are days when Millie practically dares me to touch her. She's quick to give me the side-eye and do her own thing.  Love her or hate her, I've learned to live with her. LOL!

Whether she's fierce, feisty, flat, frizzy or a fussy mess, Millie has earned her name! How could I dishonor anything so dynamic, unique and powerful?

While all hair is beautiful in it's own way, something about natural hair seems to still bring out questions, remarks, and actions that leave you saying 'hmmmmmmmm'! I mean honestly, how is it possible that we live in a world where people make comments such as seen here...




While we can all sit around cursing QVC, fact is, natural hair 'foot-in-mouth' syndrome is not limited to any particular race, region, situation, etc. (lest we recall 'Method Man's dislike of 'peasy' headed women who don't get their hair 'did'???????)
Heck, my own friends have left me speechless from time-to-time.


What about you? If not by your own choice what names have OTHER people attributed to your hair?

To be honest, the words of Lil' Wayne come to mind. When I'm rocking my natural hair, I feel 'I'm a king. I need a horn and a drumroll'! How else should I feel? Anything that attracts such attention, envy, anger, inquiry and imitation deserves a name and more!




So if you've not met her yet, let me introduce you to my significant other. Her name is Millie!





What about you? What is your hair's name? What names have others referred to your hair as? Haven't done so yet? Give her a name and then do a happy dance! Show her some love!




Share in the comments and come on over to Facebook and let's chat more about it!


 Click the picture or head over to https://www.facebook.com/groups/JourneytomyRoots and share!
Click the picture above or click here >>> https://www.facebook.com/groups/JourneytomyRoots

Remember, sites like these only survive with support from you. As the page grows, we all grow as each of us is the support system for someone else. Please repost, re-tweet, like, subscribe to my YT channel and like my FB page. 
Your support is MUCH APPRECIATED!!!!!

Winterize Your Hair Routine



You've winterized your wardrobe. 

How about your hair routine?





Unlike the humid days of summer, winter air is much drier. Given this, even the

 healthiest head can experience dry hair and tight, itchy scalp.

 Avoid it all by winterizing your routine. Here's how...

  • Go ahead, take the appetizer and the desert! Treat your hair to an appetizer and dessert. In hair lingo we'd call that a pre-poo and deep condition treatment, respectively. Both spoil your hair with extra vitamins, nutrients, proteins and moisture! This is one time when pigging out is a GOOD thing! 
    • Learn all about pre-pooing and deep conditioning (including a DIY recipe) here>>> Pre-pooing 101
  • Kick the -ates! If you haven't already, move to a sulfate-free shampoo during the winter. Sulfates are detergents. While great for cleansing, sulfates are very drying to the hair! So shelf the sulfates during the cold months. 
  • Hold the humectants! Humectants are substances that attract water. Great, right? Not always. During the humid days of summer,humectants extract water from the air. During the arid or dry days of winter, humectants extract water from your hair! Humectants commonly found in hair products include Panthenol (Pro-vitamin B),  propylene glycol , PEG compounds, hydrolyzed proteins (ie elastin, collagen, silk keratin), vegetable glycerin, honey, and sugars (ie fructose, sucrose).
  • Swap the jacket for a coat! You've packed away your thin summer jacket for a thick winter coat. Do the same with your oils! Replace your thin oils like grapeseed and extra virgin olive oil for heavier/thicker oils and butters like castor, coconut, jojoba oil and shea butter. 
    • Learn about natural carrier and essence oils here>>> Oils 101
    • Are you using the right technique when applying your oils? Click here to find out >>>Applying Oils
  • Stop showing so much skin! Protective styles are great year-round but just like summer dresses and sandals, skin is best shown in the summer! If your protective style exposes your scalp to the dry winter air (ie cornrows, bantu knots, etc.), you'll likely notice that your scalp feels tight . If you're wearing extensions, you'll notice it even more because the added hair steals moisture from your own hair and scalp. This is especially true if you're using fake or cheap hair. Much like cloth, fake or cheap hair will absorb additional moisture from your hair. So invest in good hair and as much as possible, choose styles that shield your scalp and ends.
  • Spread the Love! While too heavy for the sweaty days of summer, applying sealant to your scalp is a great way to prevent and relieve winter's tight and itchy scalp. Run a little of your winter oil over your well-watered scalp! Need something thicker/heavier than oil? Prefer the feel/consistency of hair grease? Make your own!
    • Try it!: Mix shea butter and natural oil to your desired consistency. A ratio of 2: 1 is fairly consistent with hair grease. Example: Add 1/2 cup of shea butter with 1 cup of your favorite oil(s). Be sure to add a bit of honey or tea tree oil to your mix. Both are natural preservatives! Just remember. If you use tea tree oil, use sparingly. Like all essential oils, a little goes a LONG way!
    • Buy it!: Not a DIY type? Try my product! Quench is a mixture of shea butter, essential oils, aloe vera gel, vegetable glycerin, minoxidil (Rogaine), honey, vitamin E and natural fragrances. Got thirsty tresses? Quench them! 
      • Pick it up under the "shop" tab of my blogsite!
    • Note: NEVER apply synthetic hair grease to your scalp. Unlike natural sealants, the main ingredient in hair grease is typically mineral oil or one of its cousins; petrolatum, petroleum and paraffin. Shea butter feeds your hair vitamins and minerals. It protects with natural sunscreens and it stimulates with natural anti-oxidants. Mineral oil does none of these things. Applying it to your scalp seals in water but it suffocates your hair from receiving added water and oxygen. It attracts dirt and it requires a harsh detergent to be removed....and this will lead to further drying.
  • Cover it up! Despite the myth, wearing wet hair in the winter does not cause colds. Colds come from viruses, not cold weather! Nonetheless, it's good to cover your head to keep warm and more importantly, to slow down the rate at which moisture escapes from your hair. So cover it up!
  • Quick Tip! Cotton and wool suck your hair dry so only cover your head with hats, hoods and scarves that are lined with silk or satin. Not lined? Fret not my friend. Check out this quick tip video for a work-around!



Voila! Your routine is now winterized!

What are some steps you take to winterize your hair routine? Share in the comments or 

come over to the chat room to share! >>> CHAT!

Beware the Bandwagon!



Ok. Here's my beef/rant/tantrum for the day. Being on YouTube, Facebook, Blogger, etc DOES NOT make you a natural hair expert. I find more people willing to simply "follow" someone's advice because they sell themselves as an expert. Fact is, if you can run a digital camera/webcam, you too can sell yourself as an "expert". I say, no matter who it is (myself included) before following someone's advice or a natural hair trend...you need to make sure that what is being said/sold makes sense and is backed up by science. I try to ensure that I give you the science...not just my two cents...when I post, blog, vlog. 


Don't get me wrong, I understand that when you are newly natural, you want to find someone who can help you along the journey. I too jumped on the natural hair bandwagon. But, while I started on that road I QUICKLY jumped off.


I started doing videos and blogs because I found there was WAY too much opinion and WAY too little science/research behind a lot of people's "advice". I say it all the time...the first step towards healthy hair needs to be education...not allegiance...education. That is why I did The ABC's of Hair Speak. I see people running to buy this, try that, etc...yet they have NO clue as to WHY they should or should not try something/some process. I do the opposite. I learn the science and then use that knowledge to decide if someone's advice is worth taking.....very often...it's NOT!  



I say all of that to say this...before you jump on the next natural bandwagon, heed the words of one Vanilla Ice...STOP, COLLABORATE and LISTEN! 



Here's some advice on following 'natural hair gurus' and jumping on 'natural hair' bandwagons....



Think I'm being overly-dramatic? Well no need to take my word for it. Grab your shoes honey. It's time for a trip down memory lane.


The Rio Hair Naturalizer System

I might be aging myself but around the time I was in high school (mid 90s), commercials began running for a miraculous new product line called the Rio Hair Naturalizer System. The line included two products, a relaxer without (neutral) and a relaxer with hair dye built-in (the "black/licorice color enhancer"). Why you ask? Hey, nothing says health like hair that's been fried, dyed, and laid to the side in one sitting (rolls eyes). 


While the Halle Berry/Toni Braxton look was just around the corner, the Rio system came out when we brown girls were trying to get the Robin Givens, Jody Watley, Karyn White, look. Hardly the fool, the World Rio Corporation capitalized on this trend by heavily marketing to African-American girls and women. Heck, you couldn't listen to "black radio" or watch "black tv" without seeing a commercial for the stuff! Be it Showtime at the Apollo, Martin, In Living Color, or A Different World, every commercial break featured a commercial/infomercial for the stuff. 




Promising to make hair bone straight by "retexturiz(ing), revitaliz(ing) and gradually releas(ing) tight curls; the Rio commercials came replete with the stereotypical prototype of beauty- a light-complexion black woman with super thick, super long, super straight hair blowing in the studio-created gales of wind (think Black Christie Brinkley). Bless her heart, not only did Debbie Allen star in the Rio commercials...she brought her daughter along as a sacrificial lamb.


As if the prospect of having Debbie Allen hair wasn't enticement enough (because face it, for many of us, it was), Rio took their advertising game to a whole new level!!! To prove itself a safe, chemical-free, all-natural product, the Rio clown...I mean spokesperson... eagerly downed a mouthful of the relaxer for our viewing pleasure. Well needless to say, the masses couldn't pull those credit cards out fast enough! Rio permeated the hood like gub'ment cheese!



Fast forward a few months/year later...



While the jury is still out on Rio as a meal, as a relaxer/hair dye, the response was resounding...OH HELLLLLLLLLLLLL NO!!!


Reportedly, the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) had NEVER BEFORE received so many complaints about a cosmetic product. Thousands of Rio customers filed reports (and later lawsuits) claiming dry hair, burnt scalps, discolored strands, uncontrollable breakage, and worst of all, massive hair loss/alopecia; both short and for many, long-term.


Now I don't mean to make light of a truly sad situation but y'all already know. There are very few things that can take a perfectly reasonable black woman from calm, classy, and cultured to hot, hurt, and damn-near-homicidal so quick as messing with her hair! I can't even imagine the grief those poor FDA officials took behind this! Heck, it even made the national news. Check out Tom Brokaw's special report on the fallout (no pun intended, womp womp womp).


Skip to minute 8:40 for the report:






Want to learn more about the Rio fallout? Check out this article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)'s September 2000 publication of Dermatology. 





Want a good laugh on another bit of natural messiness? Enjoy!....






Got your own natural hair bandwagon stories? Got personal trials and tribulations you'd like to share. Please do so in the comments section. Remember, we're all in this together. One natural's mistake is another's precaution! 

Tribute to Titi Branch, Co-creator of Miss Jessie's Products

Like many, it was with a heavy heart that I learned of the passing of entrepreneurial genius, sweet and giving spirit, and inspirational motivator Titi Branch, co-creator of the Miss Jessie's line of products.


Source: NV Magazine Obituary
Titi Branch, was the co-founder of Miss Jessie's a leading company in the natural hair care industry. She created their signature Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding® for the Brooklyn hair salon, Curve which she ran with her sister Miko. 





As sales for the product skyrocketed the sisters decided to move the salon to the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn where it was renamed after their family matriarch -- their no nonsense grandmother Miss Jessie. With the renaming of the salon in 2005 came the additions of Curly Meringue®, Curly Buttercreme® and later Baby Buttercreme®. Branch was not a chemist but a creative spirit who used her kitchen as her laboratory to create these products.






The Queens-native was a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in economics. She worked as a field producer for WABC-TV in New York City prior to Miss Jessie's. Her entrepreneurial career started prior to delving into the hair care industry. Titi and her sister were taught by their father to be independent and their first business together was a Kool-Aid stand as kids. They also ran a a cleaning business after graduating college.





 Later Titi launched a booking agency for hair and celebrity photographers called Icon Creative Artists. This led to her reconnecting with her sister, a hairstylist, in business. After adding her to the firm's client roster and the success that followed the next step was the creation of the salon, which opened originally in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn and the launch of Miss Jessie's -- the products are now on the shelves of Target, CVS, Ricky's, Duane Reade, Walgreens, Walmart and various other national retailers.



Born June 10, 1969 Titi Cree Branch died on Dec. 4, 2014... She is survived by her parents, sister, nephew and many loving relatives. She also leaves behind her boyfriend and business partner in her last venture Maestro's Classic, a line of beard care products.

In my own words....
While I never had the chance to meet her personally, I have had the chance to chat with both Miko and Titi online. Despite working in the same competitive space, I never received anything but positivity and encouragement from either. Confident, classy, creative, and always willing to lend an inspiring word; this is the legacy Titi has left with me. 

During this difficult time, my prayers are with Titi's sister, family, friends, followers, and extensive network of loved ones. Despite what many think, its not money, fame, fortune, 'likes' or 'upvotes' that make life worth living. It's the relationships we develop, the persons we love and the persons who love us. Maya Angelou once said the following:

 'I've learned that people will forget what you saidpeople will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

Let this be another chance to consider those words. Let those you love know it. Don't assume they know! Tell them, touch them, embrace them, lift them through your words, and most importantly, ask for God's coverage of them in your prayers. Titi may be gone but she will never be forgotten. I shall consider her whenever I remind myself that 'I stand on the shoulders of giants!'

RIP my beautiful sister. May God welcome you home with these words.....
'Well done'!!!!!!! You can come on in!

Prayerfully,
Journey to My Roots



Andre Robert Lee, a friend of Titi's put together the following video montage in her memory....




Please feel free to leave condolences, experiences, etc in the comments section below.