Thursday, September 22, 2011

Caring for Dreads 101

Dreadlocks are one of those hairstyles that yield diversity to various looks from updos to Mohawks and cascading waves. Although you don’t have to suffer through the trial of detangling hair with this style, having locs doesn’t mean that haircare should be put on a back burner. You still need to schedule regular visits to your stylist and pay close attention to proper maintenance. Celebrity Hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood, who is the talent behind many of Jill Scott’s hairstyles, gives a few tips on properly caring for locs.

Salon Visits 
Leatherwood says it’s important to have locs “blessed” (touched up) at least once a month but it’s what goes on between salon visits that’s really important to the hair’s health. “In between that time, it’s important to oil the scalp but make sure the locs aren’t left with moisture,” she says.

Allowing hair to fully dry after a shampoo is key because locs are thick and can hold moisture so there’s a risk for bacterial buildup to occur, she says. That’s why it’s important to give hair ample time to completely dry by either air drying or sitting under a hooded dryer. If not, you could be stuck with a smelly mildew odor. Thinning could also occur as a result of bacterial buildup on the scalp. Leatherwood recommends using Listerine to rid hair of the scent. “It won’t go away overnight but it will definitely improve,” she says.” That’s what Listerine does, it fights germs and bacteria.” An anti-fungal shampoo such as Nizoral, apple cider vinegar and which hazel can also help rid hair of the unpleasant scent.

Oil The Scalp 
Leatherwood also says it’s a rule-of-thumb to oil the scalp after each wash for moisture. Jojoba, olive, rosemary, ylang ylang and other essential oils are great options to keep scalp from becoming dry and flaky which helps to prevent breakage.

LeToya Luckett + Luster's

LeToya Luckett is the spokesperson for Luster's new Pink Smooth Touch line. She’s bringing the ladies a preview of the season’s hottest trends during a multi-city tour that stops in Chicago, Houston and Charlotte, among other places. LeToya and Luster’s Design International Team are showing women how to get great hair using their new Smooth Touch product.

The New York Times Puts a Spotlight on TSA Natural Hair Pat Downs

With Hair Pat-Downs, Complaints of Racial Bias

Timery Shante Nance is an African-American woman who has a thing about her hair. “I don’t use chemicals or straighteners,” she said. “It’s just my natural texture, and I wear it in a normal-looking puff.”
Chris Gash

Now she wonders, as some other black women evidently do, whether the Transportation Security Administration also has a thing about their hair. Ms. Nance is the second black woman I’m aware of within a month who says she was racially profiled when a T.S.A. officer insisted on publicly patting down her hair after she had already gone though a full-body scan without setting off any alarm.

Ms. Nance was departing from the airport in San Antonio in late July. After she passed through the body scanner, she said, a female T.S.A. screener told her to stand facing her possessions. “You’re good to go, but first I have to pat your hair,” the officer told her, she said.

I’m like, pat my hair? O.K., I guess,” Ms. Nance said.

But it wasn’t O.K. Ms. Nance, who had been visiting her husband at the Air Force base where he is stationed, was deeply embarrassed as other passengers stared at her, “as if I’d done something wrong.”

She asked the screener why her hair was searched while others, including white women with ponytails or bushy hair, were simply waved through. “Is it just African-American women with natural hair who get the hair search?” she asked.

The screener said no, “but if you have certain kinds of ponytail or bun, you have to get your hair patted,” said Ms. Nance, who is 30.

Now, as I said, this is the second such recent incident. On June 30, a young African-American woman, Laura Adiele, said that a screener at the Seattle-Tacoma airport insisted on patting down her hair, which was also natural and curly, even though the body scan had not set off an alarm. Ms. Adiele said in various interviews that she thought the search had been racially motivated.

The T.S.A. denies that. “All passengers are thoroughly screened coming through the screening checkpoint,” said Kristin Lee, a spokeswoman. “Additional screening may be required for clothing, headgear or hair where prohibited items may be hidden,” she said.

The agency says it never uses racial or ethnic profiling — and I totally accept that assurance, as a matter of agency policy. But when I spoke to Ms. Nance, she seemed to see also a cultural issue, rather than a strictly racial one.

More black women are wearing their hair in a natural state,” she said. “It’s becoming more of the norm in business cities, for example. On the other hand, for black women, it’s been 40 or 50 years of needing to relax and straighten your hair, wearing weaves, things like that.

In other words, black women who choose to maintain their hair naturally can get some cultural pushback — including even from other African-American women who choose otherwise. In fact, Web sites like, are popular among black women who share a sense of community, and some defensiveness, about wearing natural hair.

Also, it seems that some women of all races are fascinated by natural hairstyles worn by black women and like to touch it. “Sometimes you feel like a circus act when your hair is in its natural state and people always come up to you and say, ‘Can I touch it? Oh, it’s a lot softer than it looks!’ ” Ms. Nance said.

I asked around about this. Some young black women my wife and I know, including college students, readily agree that natural hair is a delicate issue. “Do not touch unless specifically requested!” one said firmly.

We also have a friend, a white woman in her 30s who is a frequent international business traveler. She has a noteworthy mane of bouncy, curly brunette hair tumbling to her shoulders.

Do they ever ask to pat your hair down?” I asked her.

Never!” she said.

So, have we now possibly isolated the problem?

The T.S.A. goes to lengths to be culturally and even politically aware. Those with medical needs, for example, can bring on extra liquids and gels. Military personnel in uniform can pass through security without having to remove their shoes.

Increasingly, the T.S.A. talks about a “multilevel” approach to security that adds better intelligence work, behavioral detection and more common sense to the checkpoint procedures, some of which have been derided as unnecessary “security theater.”

Ms. Nance says she filed an online complaint but has not heard back from the agency.

They never want to take ownership of something if they were wrong,” she said.

The Vixen Guide To Weaves

There is nothing like a good weave. Finding the best hair in the perfect cut can not only enhance your look, but transform you into another woman. The main purpose of wearing extensions is to enhance your hair to its fullest potential, not to cause breakage and harm to your natural hair.
Unfortunately, all weaves are not created equal. Some don’t last long and, without care, they can cause major breakage for your natural hair. VIBE Vixen chatted with  Ericka Dotson, Co-founder and Creative Director of Indique Virgin Hair Extensions, to get the 411 on hair extensions!

When choosing hair:
  1. Choose a length in hair extensions that you will feel comfortable in.
  2. Create your signature style by blending textures with 100% human hair. For example, combining wavy hair with curly gives you an easy wash-and-go style. A relaxed texture combined with straight will give you the perfect blend with lots
    of body.
  3. Choose textures that work for your lifestyle. Do you work out? Do you like low maintenance hair? Ask yourself these questions when selecting. You can also opt for clip-in extensions for a temporary style.
  4. Think about how often you would want to change your style with your extensions. For a natural part, leave some of your natural hair out. For alternating between lots of body and sleek strands, opt for curly or wavy textures.
  5. Don’t be afraid of color! Choose a color that compliments your skin tone and one that you can easily maintain.
Hair extension care:
  1. Maintenance is key. Treat your extensions as you would your natural hair. However, you should take your extensions down every eight weeks. Every six months, you should also give your hair a break from extensions for at least two to four weeks.
  2. Avoid hairline breakage at all costs! Take care of your natural hair. Try to leave out ample hair around the edges to avoid added tension around your hairline. Tight braids applied close to your hairline with tracks sewn on them can easily break or cause further damage, like tractional alopecia.
  3. When getting extensions, always use premium hair. Using 100% virgin Indian hair, with cuticles running in one direction, from root to tip, will ensure that you will be able to reuse the hair multiple times.
  4. These types of products will weigh the hair down and make your hair extensions stiff so avoid at all costs:
    • Spritz
    • Oil sheens
    • Products containing alcohol
    • Heavy leave-in conditioners
    • Mousse
    • Pomades
  5. Shampoo hair in the shower in a downward motion to keep hair from tangling. Air dry or use a diffuser for curly hair, for straight styles use your blow dryer and a vent brush and flat iron until sleek. Make sure your base braids are fully dry to avoid braid mildew.