Ask Afrobella – Fro Advice For Trini Bellas

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.

Hi Afrobella!

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.

Please advise.
Cheers,

Rhian

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.


For more widgets please visit www.yourminis.com

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!

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Comments

  1. Ok, so there’s this product that my brother’s girlfriend uses on her sister’s hair (she’s Mexican and Black, but has super thick, super tightly curled tons of hair), and I don’t know what it is…it comes in this little white tub, smells really good, and does a hell of a job moisturizing. Me, I personally use it before blow drying my hair (I usually blow dry straight and then press my hair, only to keep it tame…otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to get a comb through it from it hitting humidity…lol…[and I have no perm]).

    But why I say this product…I walked around without pressing it for about a day and was amazed at how moisturized it stayed (because my hair eats moisture…sounds like a bit of a monster, no?).

    Anyways, I’ll ask her and let you know when I find out. Until then, keep up the great blogging…I love this site!!!

  2. Mrs.Mckinzie says:

    Hey Bella,What kind of product did your friend use to get her hair that color?

  3. Oh gosh, thank god I’m not the only one and thanks for the shout out! Wait until you hear the audio interview! I tried my best, really, and it came out this hybrid Trini-American kind of accent with long A’s and O’s and rounded R’s!!

  4. Well, if it’s hard to find products I say head right to the grocery store. Essential oils and natural ingredients are wonderful for our hair. Eggs, mayonnaise, avocado, olive oil… I use all those things on my hair and I live right here in New York. Check out different blogs too for natural, homemade products: nappturality.com is one I know for sure http://www.nappturality.com/modules/wfsection/index.php?category=11

    Good luck ladies:)

  5. OH! This is a GREAT one I just remembered, SO many good hair recipes!

    http://motowngirl.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10&Itemid=12

  6. Hello to all my Bella Darlings,

    Afro Chic I totally feel ya, because I don’t like anybody touching hair either. I love the color of your hair!
    Recently I borrowed some John Frieda’s Curl Around Style Starting Daily Conditioner from my son and I really like it. As for Pantene, I’m crazy about it. What I’ve noticed with my hair and Pantene is that over a period time it creates a build up on my hair that eventually leads to dryness. What a shame that they don’t have a variety of products in Trinidad.
    Ms. J Diva, please find out what that product is. I’m really into aromatherapy. If a product smells bad…forget about it; but if it smells good, I’m all over it. Speaking of which if ever you want to occasionally try something fun. Philosophy has shampoos/conditioner all of which smell divine. The Cinnamon Bun and the Shear Splendor are my personal favorites. What’s also great about their lines is that, many of their shampoos are 3 in 1(poo, cond, body) I love their entire line, which ranges from hair, skin and body.

  7. Ms. Licous says:

    Heyyyyy Afro Chic for getting a feature on Afrobella :)

    I have an African American friend who recently moved to Trinidad from Atlanta and she decided to go natural when she found out she was coming here. She thought that when she got here she would see lots of women with natural hair and would find many hair stylists and lots of support and she got a rude awakening. I never really noticed until she mentioned it though. I’ll send her this post so she can keep up…thanks AC!

  8. tycajam says:

    Just wanted to say that I love Afro Chic’s hair vibe. What a glorious head of afrochicness! I can’t say that I am that color bold, but you sister are working it like nobody’s bizness!

    And to Rhian, I have to say that when I was younger and back home – St. Kitts – the one thing that brought my hair maximum moisturization was fresh aloe (or the belly as my antie called it) slathered all over. It was quite the patience project sitting there and scraping, but I have to say my hair loved it! And I loved it cause it just worked better than any store-bought conditioner I could dream of. So if you can get your hands on some fresh aloe, and I think they sell it now, although I couldn’t vouch for that process of extracting the aloe belly and reducing it to a fluid sans lumps – go for it. The end result is oh so worth it.

    In fact writing about this now, has me thinking that I need to revisit that… :)

    Peace

  9. ChocolateOrchid says:

    I AM LOVING HER HAIR COLOR!!!!

  10. SoFrolushes says:

    oooh that red is lovely
    its inspiring me to just go get some hair dyes and play about with them to see what happens.

  11. For Mrs.Mckinzie and those of you who asked about the hair colour…it’s a mix of Flaming Desire and Cherrywood by Clairol Textures and Tones.

    And thanks for the compliments! :)

  12. Sabrina97 says:

    Thanks for your suggestions Afro Chic! I also use Pantene Relaxed and Natural and I have noticed that I really like how my hair feels after. I’m sure I need to clarify soon, but it’s works for me here in Tennessee too. I’m no learning how to do stuff like twist and braid my hair, but it’s mostly all out. BTW, what’s a “ras”? Forgive my ignorance. I love the frohawk!

  13. Got the product name! Drumroll:

    Africa’s Best Maximum Super Gro Hair and Scalp Conditioner…it comes in a white jar, and the lid is green. [link]

    I swear, my lackluster red toned hair has never been so shiny and tame in the midst of all this darn humidity (I live in the great lakes state, so there’s nothing but this way…).

  14. Thanks for the advice honey, notes taken :) oh and in response to another post – you’re so lucky to see Erykah Badu!!! And have you seen Janelle Monae’s hair? I’m lovin it. She’s actually going to be doing a show in NYC later this week for a big Toyota event. Since I work with them, I’m really excited about spreading awareness of these thrilling, new webisodes called If Looks Could Kill. They follow an aspiring fashion designer, Bianca, who’s involved in international espionage by night. If you’re familiar with the BMW shorts from a couple of years ago (Guy Ritchie, Madonna), these webisodes definitely have a similar production level.

    Link: http://www.iflookscouldkill.com

    Interactive: Toyota has gone one step further, the viewer can interact with Bianca to help her unravel the mystery that has suddenly become her life. I really enjoy the multiple levels; it adds a dimension of reality to the story and builds a unique relationship between the main character and viewer.

    Launch party: We have our official launch party the 11th @ Eyebeam in NYC— with performances by Ashanti, Janelle Monae and Anthony Hamilton. Tyra Banks is also on the guest list!

    I’d really love your take on the first episode—Haute Pursuit—and discuss more as the other episodes roll-out. Myself, I’m still trying to figure out who the bad guy is—the ex, the boyfriend, the boss? Or maybe it’s Nana? lol

    Again, would love your take because bloggers like yourself definitely have a good eye about what’s cool, hot and current. I would have contacted you via email but I didn’t know which the best way to reach you was. I hope I didn’t overstep my bounds by directly contacting you.

    Don’t be shy!

    Best,
    Whitney Maiers
    ILCK Ambassador

  15. Sabrina97 — I was wondering if I should translate that, LOL. A “ras” = “rasta,” and when Afro Chic says “growing a ras,” she’s referring to locs. Or dreadlocs, as we still call them back home.

  16. Mrs.Mckinzie says:

    Sabrina97 thank you girl for breaking the ice,because i’ve been wondering for months now”What is a Twa”? I know most of you know so help a sistah out.I thought it was a head wrap.

  17. Mrs.Mckinzie says:

    Thanks Afro Chic!

  18. Sabrina97 says:

    *Raises hand* I know I know! Mrs. Mckinzie, a twa is a “teeny weeny afro”. I’m so excited to say I do know what one acronym means.

  19. trinigul says:

    First of all, Rhian should drop the shampoo (if she needs to clarify, throw a little baking soda in there). If she could get her hands on some vegetable glycerin + sea moss (when I went home I went somewhere I would never venture in before…Tunapuna market) + aloe vera gel (I make my own – $1/leaf in Brooklyn can’t be beat), you’re hair would be so moisturized you wouldn’t know what to do with it. Start with 1/3 of each and play around with the mixture. OOOOOH baby! The payoff is when you wash you hair (I was weekly), you’re hair comes out so buttery soft you can’t keep your hands out of it.

  20. Mrs.Mckinzie says:

    Thanks Sabrina97! I can finally put my mind at ease,because I now know what a “twa” is.

  21. 2bnatural says:

    WHERE is everyone getting these ingredients: vegetable glycerin, sea moss, peptide powder(from another website)..? Is this stuff in regular beauty supply stores or do I have to order it online. I’m trying to use more natural products in my daughter’s hair but when I look at some homemade recipes I have to admit I get a little intimidated by the ingredient list. So please help a beginner “kitchen chemist” find a website or store that sells this kind of stuff. I live in Charlotte,NC (if anyone knows of local places)

  22. 2bnatural — I’ve never used that stuff either (besides aloe and sea moss, which is readily available in the Caribbean or at a Caribbean grocery store). But for the more advanced stuff, check out From Nature With Love. I know that’s where Motown Girl gets her ingredients from!

  23. I’m told my hair is fine & kinky and it gets really dry without added moisture. Grease just leaves my hair dry…but greasy, lotion-like moisturizers seem to just dissolve into my hair like it was never there in the first place, and oils go straight to my scalp! But I must say that I am IN LOVE with Profectiv’s Long and Healthy: http://store.goldenmartbeautysupply.com/prlonhe.html It’s the only think I’ve tried so far that my hair actually welcomes from root to tip. It has a syrup-y consistency but it goes on clear and doesn’t leave your hair with a sticky film when you touch it. I use it when doing Nubian Knots before a curly-fro or before and after I blow my hair out. It keeps my hair is soooo soft!

  24. Zsa Zsa says:

    I have had success with Parnevu Leave-In daily Hair treatment. The consistency is custard-like and my hair is very soft. It initially has a fragrance that may be a little strong for some tastes, but it eventually fades. I also use a dab of Care Free Curl Gold on my hair. The Keratin in the Care Free Curl Gold has helped my hair grow.

  25. 2bnatural says:

    Bella – Thank you for the ingredient website. I also appreciate that afrobella.com and all of the commenters give advice/instructions/reviews on different products and haircare. I was becoming discouraged because I really want my daughter,5, to love and appreciate her hair but I can’t seem to keep it from looking dry all of the time. But coming here and getting different ideas has gotten my hopes up again. Thanks everyone.

  26. Hello Sis.

    Believe it or not, all your hair needs is water. You can put a few drops of jojoba or olive oil in a spray/spritz bottle with water and your hair will thank you. I suggest this only if you do not want to depend on commercial products. Some products work for some but not others.

  27. 2bnatural says:

    Thank you Roz.

  28. Roz I agree. When I returned to Trinidad the whole texture of my hair changed.Became very brittle. I fed it olive oil from a spray bottle mixed with a little rosemary. It is moisturized and some weak areas are thickening.

  29. I live in the Caribbean and I’ve found the think the works best for moisture is a mixture of things. I have a spray bottle with 8 oz of glycerin, 8 oz of bottled/spring water and few drops of coconut oil, tea tree oil and Vo5 conditioner. Shake it up and spritz it on daily. Not only does it define my curls but leaves my hair feeling smooth and moisturised. Hope this helps…

  30. TriniNikki says:

    Thank you so much for this. It truly helps.

    P.S -I too absolutely hate it when people ask me to “talk in your accent” for their amusement. Its so annoying …:)

  31. Sylvia Biu says:

    Am I crazy, or are soft locks unheard of? I hate it that my locks are so hard. I have yet to find a product that actually softens them and leaves a nice sheen. Any suggestions?

  32. Ashley J. says:

    So I am completely thrilled to have found your blog site! I went natural back on Thanksgiving 07 and haven’t looked back since.
    I’m 21 and find my peers extremely interested in my transformation. Thanks for supporting and shining light on the beauty of our women.

  33. Ashley J. says:

    Oh…and I have a mixture of friends from different countries, a number from Trini and Tobago and I have caught myself completely WOWed by the accent and beauty of you country. I can understand being offended by people asking you to speak with your accent for fun, but I personally appreciate it because being a African American, many of us have no true traditions or dialects other than soul food and slang.
    There is a difference between appreciation and just plain rudeness, but don’t be so offensive….some of us envy your history.

    Thanks!

  34. Hello Afrobella Ladies,

    I have some serious issues with my hair. My hair type is a 4B.
    1) My hair is breaking at the ends I cannot give my hair enuff moisture. There are little knots on the ends.
    2) The middle of my head/crown the hair there is 1.5 shorter than the front and back of my head…Am I balding???
    3) Does trimming your ends actually promote hair growth? My hair isn’t growing…
    What products can I use to bring out my natural curl with less shrinkage??
    What products would give me the moisture my hair requires in a shampoo, condition, leave-in-conditioner, styling product.
    Please help I’m in dire straits
    Thanks

  35. Aztechdesigner says:

    Hey was just wondering if someone could help me out…I think i have the most crazy hair ever!!!!
    Not sure if im a 4b or whatever, but I know it’s has a crazy growth pattern I’m light skin half white/black male, with very thick 7 inches or more of natural loose curl afro, which took me about a year to grow (I was very impressed that I didn’t chop it!!) As a teen I always kept my hair short since I couldnt get a fully round fro cuz my curls in the top middle to front are straighter and less define. Now being 31 and a designer I have to keep up professional image and the “HipHop” cuts now aren’t of age. To manage it, I just put a hairband on to push it back semi-halfway and that seemed to do the trick for a while… I only use conditioner and finger combing when washing and the only thing that seems to work is waterbase gel when trying to keep my curls managable. I was getting fustrated with not being able to “style” it as a braid, twisted, or lock style (too costly). So today I decided to buy a S-curl kit to loosin the curl up alittle to let the hair fall more in its natural state it, as I always keep it back. I THINK I MADE A MISTAKE!!! My hair lost all its volume and is now way to flat! No afro at all just long curls that lay to the flat like a old school pimp do!! I’m so discouraged…after growing my hair for that long, I don’t want to cut it of and start over and the only style I have is too pull it back! Not to mention, the hairbands dont stay on right 0_0 My afro curls use to hold the band in place so the shorter front hair could stay back….

    My Questions are:
    1) Can I let it grow out and will it regain it’s volume?
    2) If I get braids will it damage my hair since it’s already chemically “programmed”?
    3)How do I make my hair healthier without the high cost products? (I’ve already learned some great tips from this site!! :)

    And ANY SUGGESTIONS WELCOME……HELLlllleeeeppppp!

    Great site need any graphic work or other Holllaaa!

    Thanks,
    Brutha in Need

  36. Dope vid!

  37. That’s always the problem, the products aren’t within reach in one’s locale. My sister in law has natural curls (but it isnt really a fro, it’s the little orphan annie type of curls) just natural curls and she’s also wondering how to make it look shiny and bouncy. Can you help me out? Or will the same products apply to her?

  38. Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

    A design like youyrs with a few simple tweeks would really
    mawke my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got
    your theme. Thans a lot

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