I moved away from my homeland of Trinidad and Tobago a decade ago, and I really can’t believe it’s been that long. In that time, I graduated from college twice, met and married my husband, got a job, started this here blog, and managed to practically lose my Trini accent around non-Caribbean folks, (I feel ya, Danielle. I absolutely hate it when people ask me to “talk in your accent” for their amusement, for the record).
I try to make it back home to Trinidad at least once a year, and every time I go home I notice a slight shift in attitudes towards natural hair. Getting ignorant questions like “you could pass a brush through that thing?” from the David Woodersons I grew up alongside makes me realize — Afrobellas have it pretty good in the U. S. and A. For the most part, people don’t get in my business about my hair or clothing choices, and there’s a veritable ocean of products with which to nourish my curly locks. But recently, I’ve gotten some questions from bellas in Trini, who are struggling to find the right products, own their fro, and fight the natural fight despite words from naysayers. Here’s a question I needed some help for.
I would like some fro-advice. I have started growing my hair natural for the past year, I live in Trinidad and it’s very hot, so the ends of my hair tend to be very brittle, my hair is also very thick, which I love.
I have been purchasing moisturizer after moisturizer, but after I apply them to my hair one of two things happen: it either goes to my scalp, so my hair still looks dry, but my scalp is greasy; or my hair is greasy to the touch, but still looks dry. What moisturizer can you recommend for our climate? Please let it be something that smells great
Also, I use the ‘Pantene shampoo and conditioner for women of color’ and it is an excellent detangler, however I am open to trying other products.
Rhian, your question left me scratching my head. I felt so out of touch — I have no idea what products are and aren’t available in Trinidad, or how much they cost. And I’ve read some sketchy stuff about that Pantene — but I’ve never tried it myself, so I can’t speak from experience.
So before I recommended Miss Jessie’s or Curls or something that’s bound to be almost impossible to get back home, I turned to the boldest Trini afrobella I know. Afro Chic! If you are looking for hair inspiration, check out my girl’s photo above. That’s how you do it. Bold color, bold style, bold glasses. That was her look at Carnival last year. Loving the profile on Afro Chic!
Afro Chic and I actually went to high school together, but back in those days both of us were using the creamy crack. It took me years after graduation to make the decision to stop frying my hair and burning my scalp with chemicals, and when I realized Afro Chic of this new funny blog I was reading — and of those FAB! Carnival boots — was in fact the same chick I’ve known since I was 12 years old — I had to get in touch with her to ask about her natural experiences back at home. Have things improved? Does she see more proud afrobellas walking the streets of Port of Spain than there used to be?
“I dunno if more women have natural hair now or if I just notice people with natural hair more, if you know what I mean… And when I say natural hair I’m not talking about people with a ras, eh. IMO people in Trinidad are more ‘accepting’ of you with a ras vs having a full out afro. And having a ras is more common place than people who rock a full out natural head of hair. I get people asking me if I’m gonna grow a ras or loc my hair…no I’m not, this is how I’m keeping my hair.
Women with natural hair mainly keep their hair in twists, plaits, braids and the occasional afro puff — you see very few full out fros. My mom is natural and she twists/canerows her hair EVERY WEEKEND. Most times the people who rock a full out fro are the ‘artsy’ type i.e models, artists etc.”
Well, I’ve always been a so-called “artsy” type, but I felt the pressure to conform when I was growing up as a little bella in Trinidad. It takes strength and confidence to rock your hair as it naturally grows, particularly if you’re in a conservative work environment as Afro Chic has been.
“Where I work, there was the suggestion that my hair was not appropriate for the office too…no one outright came out and said that, but that’s what was suggested. When I first went natural I used to get a LOT of negative comments about my hair which I generally ignored. But as my hair got longer, more people (men especially LOL) would pay me compliments. During the week for work I comb my fro out, pat it down and push it back with a headband of some sort and on the weekend, I don’t comb it at all, I just do a “wash and go” fro, like in that pic I sent you.”
This one, Afro Chic? Fabulous. Seriously, she’s making me contemplate a change in hair color. Isn’t that so fun for the summer? Love it!
Afro Chic has learned how to work her natural style, and how to ignore the haters, the idiots, and those who would dare touch her hair.
“I get mad when people think they can attempt to put their hands in my hair and mess it up. Especially when I’ve taken my time to comb out my damn hair in the first place! Or when I have it in its ‘weekend’ state, they think they can rumple it up cause they seeing that it’s already ‘messy’. Like I took my time to get my hair to look like this…WTF?
I still occasionally get a dotish one-off comment here and there, but I just let that roll off my back…I doh take them on. I’m fabulous with my hair as is and as we say in Trinidad, who vex lorse! LOL.”
I think even if you aren’t a Trini and don’t speak our dialect, that one translates.
So because of my basic unfamiliarity with what’s available back home, I had to ask Afro Chic what could help Rhian to own her fro. The last time I was home for a while, Mama Bella got me this Dominican hair cream called Sedal, which at the time came in a white bottle with a green top (but I suspect is actually in a blue bottle now). I liked it quite a bit, despite the build-up it left on my scalp. But when Mama Bella got me the kind with the purple bottle, it didn’t work so great. (small wonder, this kind is for straight hair, apparently.)
But Afro Chic had other advice instead — take it away, Afro Chic!
“When it comes to moisturizers I use these two on a daily basis: Pantene Relaxed & Natural Daily Oil Cream Moisturizer and IC Shea Butter Oil Moisturizer or Organic Shea Butter Hair & Scalp Softening Lotion.
I apply these products very liberally to my hair from roots to ends, and I apply them while my hair is still damp/wet. My bottle of Pantene Oil Cream Moisturizer is almost finished and I have been unable to find it anywhere recently. But everything I but is available either at SuperPharm or Pennywise and nothing costs more than TT$40.00.
These are working for my hair right now. I also use a hair polisher (Eternal or IC) on my hair to finish it up.
I have never tried any homemade stuff because I find it easier to just go and buy stuff and try it out. The most I may do is a mix products in a bottle.
I used to use Sedal when it just came out on the market and it was reasonably priced and gave nice curls, but I didn’t like how it left my skin feeling…very sticky like I still needed to rinse or something. I haven’t noticed it on any store shelves recently…they may have discontinued it.
I recently tried Sunsilk Green (AKA Captivating Curls) which is supposedly for curly hair but I wasn’t impressed and I use it now in the bathroom when I just need to comb out my hair…not if I’m planning to do a curly style…if that makes sense.
The shampoo and conditioner I’m using now is John Frieda and I am liking this product so far.”
I second Afro Chic on that last one — I am not a fan of the silicone-laden serums, but I recently used John Frieda’s Curl Around Style Starting Daily Conditioner, and I really liked it for my conditioner washes. Also, I am
dying to try the new Creme Serum Overnight Repair Formula.
So Rhian, those are Afro Chic’s recommendations based on what’s readily available on store shelves in Trinidad.
I think if you look at your entire hair regimen rather than relying on just styling products for moisture, you could find a lasting solution to the problem. Shampoo your hair no more than once a week, and do regular conditioner washes. Try locking in moisture with a pre-poo treatment — there’s excellent pure coconut oil available at home for just such a purpose — and definitely give your hair regular deep conditioning treatments. There are some common drugstore conditioners that are loved by afrobellas — Suave is really popular — I know many bellas love the tropical coconut kind, and I hear great things about the vanilla floral and the Suave Professionals humectant. Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner is pretty brilliant, and another popular product line came immediately to my mind — VO5, which has undergone a complete transformation.
Now the old pomade your mom used to grease your scalp as a young’un has gone Extreme Style, and has products specifically designed for curly girlies. I tried and liked the lightly moisturizing Curl Defining Creme (which, tellingly, is available only at BuyTheCase.com), and now there’s the Curvaceous Curls Styling Mousse, which I hope doesn’t have too much of the typical stiffening properties of mousse.
Two thumbs up for the Moisturizing Hot Oil Shower Works, a Vitamin E laden pre-poo that only takes a minute (sometimes I take two) to totally soften and moisturize your hair. VO5 claims that their Strengthening Hot Oil can reduce hair breakage up to 60%. A bold claim, and if you have weak hair, worth a try. The vitamin laden Total Hair Recovery conditioning treatment comes in a teeny tiny jar that my big whirl of curls just giggled at, but that tiny jar did leave my hair very fluffy, quite satisfied, and — dare I say it? — unusually silky to the caress. Not sure if that’s available in Trinidad. But when you’re ready to do some online shopping, let me know — I have even more product recommendations for you when that time comes!
And apropos of nothing, if you’re looking for a distraction during your work day, check out this VO5 flirting game. The classic hair product company is pulling out all the stops to promote this new Extreme Style stuff.
Don’t ask me how, but I managed to kill like three hours of my weekend playing this competitive online version of The Dating Game. Silly, but kinda fun. Happy Monday, bellas!