Saturday, August 3, 2013

I'm Back!

Hello Beautiful!

I can't even begin to tell you what's been going on in my life! I will say that life's been keeping me quite busy these days, so I haven't made an entry in a while. However, I've been adjusting my schedule and I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel! Other than booking tons of photography business (yes, I'm a photographer :-) ) and transitioning from corporate America, I bought a townhouse, and I've been planning an event. It will be an event that celebrates, adores, elevates, appreciates, and promotes loving your God-given tresses. We'll eat, socialize, network, have Q & A, and have a GREAT time! Find out more about it here!

Stay tuned for the next post! xo

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hair Q&A

Q:  Hi, I wanted to get some transitioning tips. I have come into my 5 month mark and managing the extremely different textures are becoming more challenging. Do you think that transitioning is worth it if I "may" never wear my hair in it's natural state?

E. Lytch

A: Well that depends. If you transition, but "may" not ever wear your hair in it's natural state you  could be putting unnecessary stress on your hair. Be clear why you're transitioning so you can have a plan and also get the best products. Are you afraid/not ready to "big chop"? Do you fear the change? Are you gathering more information on how to properly care for it? OR even If you transition, but still plan to wear it straight, make sure to keep your hair moisturized with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that works for you. Invest in the proper styling tools (i.e. blow dryer and ceramic flat iron) and products (setting lotion). Never, ever straighten your hair with oil in it, as it could fry your hair. Use it after you style...Just know that you'd risk getting heat damage, and if you ever decide you want to wear your hair curly/coily/kinky after so much straightening, it may not give you the texture you're seeking.

On the flip side, until you decide you want to eventually cut off your relaxer, try curly styles that last weeks at a time to blend the two textures. A few of the most popular choices are straw sets, roller sets using smaller flexi rods, flat twists, or feed-in (undetectable) cornrows with kanekalon braiding hair, and kinky twists. Try to avoid styles that cause too much tension, because that can lead to breakage---especially where the two textures meet. My first time natural, I was not patient and ended up re-relaxing my hair. So by all means, please be patient and learn what works best for you.

Tip: Pre-treating hair with virgin coconut oil and conditioner prior to shampooing will make your hair soooo much more manageable.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Pre-Treatment Recipe

Carol's Daughter is sponsoring  "Mixtress of the Month" on NaturallyCurly.com. I submitted a homemade pre-treatment recipe and I was the winner for the month of November. This is seriously creamy, delectable goodness for your hair. It's the new "Creamy Crack"!  I'll post the recipe, but you'll find the actual entry here.

173-the-creamy-supreme-conditioner-prepoo-conditioner.jpg
Ingredients:          


1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil (at room temp)
1 tablespoon of raw honey


Mix ingredients very well. Apply generously to hair prior to shampooing. Cover with a processing/plastic cap and leave on for 30-45 minutes. Rinse thoroughly, shampoo, condition, and style! 

(Depending on hair texture, you can use this as an after shampoo conditioner...Finer textures may not tolerate the heaviness.)



The high content of protein from the greek yogurt, quality fat in the virgin coconut oil, the humectant properties of the honey make this pre-treatment conditioner one of my favorite recipes. Makes my hair feel like silk! I hope you love it too.



Each month a new mixtress wins $50 in Carol's Daughter products, so you should definitely enter your own favorite homemade recipe for a chance to win while there's still time.  ;-)

As always...Much love, joy, peace, and happiness to you! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

ALTERNATIVE BREAST CARE


Image from masterfile.com

It was Spring Break, 1996 and I was lying in my bed staring at the ceiling with my hands clasped behind my head. It felt great to have a break from the demands of the 11th grade. My mom walked in my room to let me know she was on her way to work. "Make sure you clean the kitchen and the bathroom before you go to your dad's...oh! and since your cycle started, you need to do your monthly self-breast exam," she said as she left the room. "Ok ma. Love you." Ugh! I hated those self-breast exams.

So as I was cleaning the bathroom, I got a glimpse of a decal hanging from the shower fixture. Of course, it was a diagram of a woman's breasts with arrows on them drawn in a circular direction. Her arm was raised above her head, and it listed directions on how to examine your own breasts. Being that my mother worked in a gynecologist's office she had access to these things everyday. I was a year away from being 18 and was not sexually active, so I had not started having pap smears or pelvic exams yet. I had actually learned how to do them initially reading Essence magazine along with advice from my mother. It was now time to shower and get dressed. This particular day, I had butterflies when it was time to do the exam. Reluctantly, I got in the shower and began my self-exam. Left breast: Nothing (whew!), or so I thought. The right side was a different story. On the outer edge near my armpit, I found a lump to match the lump that had just popped up in my throat! I can't begin to describe the roller coaster on which my heart dropped and the panic that came over me. Although I have always been the "glass-is-half-full" type, being uneducated about breast lumps at 17 led me to automatically assumed the worst.

Being that my dad was the most even tempered when it came to things like this, I told him first. That same day, he took me to see a gynecologist. She examined me, looked in my eyes, and gave me a comforting smile.

"You have lumpy breasts young lady, " she said.
"Ummm, okay. So what does that mean?" I asked.
"Give me your hand, feel this (referring to the lump I'd found). You see how this lump is hard and rolls around like a marble?"
"Yes," I said.
"Is it tender?"
"Yes," I answered.
"All of these variables are ruling out cancer. Usually, cancer isn't tender to the touch and it doesn't roll around like marbles. It's usually attached to the surrounding tissue and doesn't move. I'm almost positive you just have fibrocystic breasts, but to be sure I'd like to schedule a breast biopsy for you...By the way, you have a total of four. Two in each breast."
(Staring) "FOUR!? What causes them?" I asked.
"Other than hormonal changes, no one really knows for sure. All I can tell you is make sure you dramatically decrease or eliminate caffeine from your diet, and be sure you're receiving the best nutrition possible."

At 17? Yeah right! A few weeks later I had a biopsy. Unfortunately it was done surgically instead of through a needle. The surgery left an inch and a half scar on the outer edge of my right breast and inch and a half scar on the edge of the bottom of the areola on the left (can't even see that one). Ironically, the big lump I found on the right side had dissolved by the time I had my surgery, but the others had not. Soon after, the test results were in. Fibrocystic Ademona  (Fibroadenoma) was the diagnosis. Studies show that Fibrocystic Ademona is not cancerous, but high quantities or frequencies can increase the risk of breast cancer. That was the start of it. I was advised to have annual mammograms at an early age to keep an eye on them, as they can grow back.

Fast forward 15 years later to November 30, 2011. In a recent mammogram and ultra sound, Fibrocystic Adenoma nodules showed their ugly faces again in the right breast. Another biopsy will tell for sure...through needle this time. No more going under the knife. I found out that it could've been done via needle the first time too!!!! Humph! A friend of mine, who's a physician, once stated that everyone's body [naturally] reacts differently to stressful situations, harmful environments, etc. Some people gain weight, some break out (with whatever), some become easily suseptible to colds/flu, some people GROW things inside their bodies--be it cancer, tumors, endometriosis, etc.! WOW! This time around I am much better equipped to eradicate the situation. Knowing that I can control the environment in my body, I've become more serious about incorporating more wholistic nutrition, consistent physical activity, daily meditation, and other alternative treatments/preventative care. I'm on a raging path to being rid of them forever!!!! A healthy body lights fire to the immune system, and makes it nearly impossible for ANY illness to adhere to it, even if you're exposed.               

All of this has inspired me to research the origin of cysts, fibroids, and fibrocysts (and the like) in women---especially black women---and how we can use alternative treatments and preventative measures to keep them at bay. Ta ta for now.

Much Love, Joy, Peace & Excellent Health to you! <3

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CurlTalk Q & A: Becoming More Involved

Q: Hi Ebony.

This might be somewhat of a personal question, but I thought I'd take a chance and ask. The worst you could tell me is it's none of my business. Why aren't you more involved in the natural hair community? I mean, you obviously have been successful in your journey. I've seen some of the feedback you've received after being featured or interviewed on different natural hair sites. Most people were pleasant, but some were very hostile and I hope the hostility you received from some of the readers didn't put you off. Others could really benefit from your experience, dos and don'ts, styles and what have you.  I've been an admirer of yours ever since you started posting on Fotki a few years ago. I noticed that you only have only about two or three videos on YouTube. Do you plan to make more? I know I'm all over the place. I don't mean any harm, just would like to see more from you.

Olivia B.

Ebony C.

A: Hi Olivia,

First, thank you for supporting me and being in my corner.  I am asked that question quite often, but never in depth. As far as the hostility goes, that doesn't move me. I realize people are going to be who they are. However, I've made the mistake of posing a certain topic on a natural hair forum before, thinking I was kicking my feet up at home "sharing" in the midst of family, but quickly realized that not everyone will embrace you as such. My mother always told me that people will always find a reason to have a problem with you or crucify you..."They did it to Jesus, and HE was actually perfect," is what she'd say. Although the division between us turns my stomach, it's inevitable. There's always going to be some type of negativity in forums unless the moderators/administrators "don't play that."  I'm a very laid back person and negativity and foolishness are natural repellents for me. I guess you could say I'm allergic. LOL! Rest assured that no one is responsible for my lack of involvement...All jokes aside, I do become involved here and there, especially when someone asks me for advice or guidance. As for YouTube, I can be a bit shy on camera...unless it's a still photo. It also takes a lot for me to make a video because I do absolutely nothing to my hair other than twists, twist outs, and flat ironing. I'm trying hard to find other  styles that appeal to me, but haven't been successful yet. I'm still working on it. Thank you for being so patient with me thus far. I'd love it if you'd continue to be. I hope I've answered your question. Much love, joy, peace, and happiness. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Closer Look at Porosity

Over time, there's been so much confusion about porosity. This is the best explanation I have seen so far:

Porosity is the term used in the science of hair care to describe how easily water and other matter can diffuse back and forth through the cuticle layer and into or out of the cortex. Hair is much like a sponge, capable of absorbing water and other substances from the environment, and also susceptible to losing precious moisture and lipids to the environment. Maintaining an optimal balance of moisture in your hair preserves its suppleness, strength, and shine. This is especially important for those of us with curly hair, as it greatly influences the health and beauty of our tresses.







low porosity hair

Porosity Classifications








Low Porosity: Hair described as having low porosity is characterized by a very tightly bound cuticle layer, where the individual cuticle scales lie flat and overlap one another. Low porosity hair is often quite shiny, especially if it is a darker color. Overall this type of hair is considered to be quite healthy. If your hair repels water when you attempt to wet it, that is a good indication that it has low porosity. It can be quite difficult to process, because it resists penetration of the chemicals being used.
Low porosity hair is more prone to an excessive accumulation of protein if deep conditioning products are used and will feel very stiff and straw-like. It requires products rich in moisture and emollients and also benefits most from products that contain humectants, which attract moisture to the hair and hold it there. If hair with very few or very small openings becomes dry for some reason, it can be more difficult to restore proper moisture balance to it. In this case, a deep conditioning treatment with moderate heat would be a good way to ensure the cuticle is sufficiently opened up to allow moisture to enter into the cortex.

Normal Porosity: Hair possessing average porosity will generally require the least amount of maintenance. It allows moisture to pass into the cortex as needed, but resists permitting too much water to penetrate. Repeated works by various research groups have found that healthy hair of average porosity can absorb water up to a maximum of 31.1% by weight. Normal porosity hair has a tendency to hold styles well. Perming or coloring can be done in a predictable manner, following the usual guidelines of the product. However, one must note that these processes will damage the hair and increase its porosity over time. An occasional deep conditioning treatment with a protein-containing product will be of benefit, but proteins should not be included in the daily regimen.

High Porosity: High porosity is an unfortunate result of damage to the hair. Chemical processes, harsh treatment, and environmental exposure are all responsible for causing cumulative, irreversible damage to the cuticle layer. This damage creates gaps and holes in the surface of the hair shaft—essentially chinks in its armor. Hair with this type of uneven, pitted and rough surface is prone to damage from more and more sources, resulting in a cascade of effects that culminate in unmanageable and unlovely locks.
Hair with a great deal of porosity has been found to be capable of absorbing significantly higher amounts of water than hair or normal or low porosity (up to 55%, in contrast with 31.1% for healthy hair). Excessive absorption of water from the atmosphere causes frizz and tangling on humid days. Total immersion of high porosity hair during bathing, swimming, or shampooing can lead to significant breakage due to loss of elasticity from the sheer weight of the water absorbed. It also takes on color much more quickly and in higher concentrations than normal porosity hair when undergoing a chemical color process.  
 People with high porosity hair should use products with lots of moisturizers and emollients and also use anti-humectants in high heat and humidity climates in order to seal their cuticle against excessive absorption of moisture from the air. Protein treatments can also be very helpful for patching some of the holes in the hair, but one must follow up with moisturizing products in order to avoid a stiff texture. Rinsing with a slightly acidic rinse will help flatten and seal the cuticle. Some clear color applications have proteins in them than can patch the gaps in your hair also. Consult your professional hair stylist for more information about such products. 

Genetic or Biological Contributors to Porosity

Genetics and hair type (straight, wavy, or curly) contribute to how tightly the cuticle layer adheres. Some people have a circular hair shaft, which is optimal for cuticle scales to lie flat and overlap one another, resulting in low porosity. Other types of hair are more elliptical or even flat and ribbon-like. This geometry doesn’t allow for all of the cuticle scales to lie flat and overlap one another along the axis of the hair, especially at the outer edges of the hair strand. This creates areas of discontinuity in the cuticle layer, which adds porosity to the hair.
In a similar fashion, curly hair has a tendency to be naturally higher in porosity than straight hair. This is because the spirals in the helical configuration of the curls create areas where individual cuticle scales are raised slightly away from the longitudinal axis of the hair. The curlier the hair is, the more breaks you have in the smoothness of the surface, so the porosity is invariably increased.

External Contributors to Porosity


Damaged cuticle
Environment: Exposure to UV rays for prolonged periods can fuse cuticle scales together, which inevitably leads to further damage of the cuticle layer. It is a good idea to cover your hair when in the sun or use products which contain sunscreen agents.
Chemical Processing: Perms, relaxers, and coloring processes all require the cuticle to first be opened via application of an alkaline solution. This allows the chemicals to access the interior of the hair shaft in order to make permanent changes to the structure of the proteins that are the building blocks of the hair. All of these processes are capable of doing permanent damage to the cuticle layer. This damage builds up with repeat use of the chemical process. Bleaching is the most damaging process, followed by perming and relaxing, with most permanent coloring processes being the mildest.
Heat treatments: Heat from a blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, or hot curlers can all cause irreparable damage both to the cuticle and the cortex of the hair. These tools can heat water inside the hair past the boiling point and cause the hair to rupture from the inside out. It is not difficult to see how this could increase porosity.

Mechanical Damage: Combing, brushing and friction from scarves, and hats, and scrunchies all cause damage to the cuticle layer. Over time all of these can result in torn and ripped cuticles, thereby increasing the porosity of the hair. Curly hair should only be combed with a wide-tooth comb while it is wet and coated with a conditioner for maximum slip. This minimizes friction and subsequent damage to the scales.
Shampooing with sulfates and soaps: In previous articles, we have discussed that the cuticle layer is comprised not only of keratinous scales, but also a layer of fatty acids on the top surface that protect the hair from moisture, as well as a layer beneath the scales called the cell membrane complex (CMC). The CMC acts as cushion and as a cement the keep the cuticle scales firmly attached to the hair. A large portion of this CMC is made up of a lipid layer of mixed fatty acids, including 18-methyleicosanioc acid (18-MEA), stearic acid, and palmitic acid.
At normal formulation levels (15-20%), harsh surfactants in shampoos, such as SLS, SLES, ALS, and ALES, are capable of dissolving the lipid layer in the CMC and removing the 18-MEA from the surface of the cuticle. This creates irreparable gaps in the cuticle layer, increasing porosity of the hair. Also, by dissolving the protective fatty acid layer from the surface of the cuticle, the hair is rendered more hydrophilic (water-loving), which is a very dangerous state for hair as it becomes more susceptible to frizz, tangling, and damage to the cuticle scales. This information merely confirms what we have been told about the hazards of using these types of surfactants on our hair.
Another very important ingredient to avoid for long, curly hair especially is soaps. In the past, I have written an article cautioning users of soap to be careful, but basically concluding that it was probably okay to use soaps with an acidic rinse and lots of moisturizing agents. Based on the following information obtained from the research of Dr. Ali Syed (a hair care researcher who specializes in African and curly hair), I cannot in good conscience advocate use of any soap products on curly hair.
Soap molecules are salts of fatty acids found in plants and animal fats. They are somewhat alkaline and cause the hair to swell and the cuticle to raise up away from the surface of the hair shaft. These molecules are then able to penetrate through the cuticle and into the CMC where they neutralize the fatty acids in the lipid layer, rendering them water soluble. The fatty acids are then rinsed away in the shower and are gone forever. Use of soap to cleanse one’s hair, especially long curly hair, seems to be a really effective way of permanently destroying the cuticle layer and making the hair very highly porous. This is an example of why natural may not always be superior. It is no surprise that researchers have invested years and many millions (billions) of dollars to develop more gentle cleansers for our hair.

Porosity and Tensile Strength

Increasing porosity of hair has been found to correlate with decreasing tensile strength of the hair. What this means is that as the porosity goes up, it becomes much easier to break the hair. Gaps and flaws in the surface, which allow the hair to absorb much higher quantities of moisture, create stress concentration sites and weakness throughout the strand that cause the hairs to break easily.
What to do? Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to porosity problems.
  • Use the right products for your hair.
  • Avoid harsh surfactants and soaps.
  • Only comb tangles with a wide-toothed comb when hair is wet and saturated with conditioner.
  • Avoid chemical processes as much as possible.
  • Avoid thermal styling tools.
  • Protect your hair from the sun and the elements.
  • Get regular trims.
  • Treat your hair as gently as you would an expensive cashmere sweater!

If you already have a problem with high porosity, please make sure you have an excellent deep conditioning treatment available, preferably one that contains proteins. Use lots of conditioning and moisturizing products, especially those containing natural, plant-based oils. Avoid all of the sulfate-based surfactants and soap bars. Use a mildly acidic rinse regularly and avoid humectants. If possible, avoid the processes that created the high porosity, and get your hair trimmed regularly. These things should help restore your hair to a more manageable porosity level, but it will take time.
Protect your cuticle!

Written by Tonya McKay





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