4 Alternatives To Oil and Butter For Sealing Moisture In Natural Hair

When Izzy (my hair) was much shorter, I never thought it was necessary to “seal” my hair. Why? Because my hair’s porosity is fairly low, so “sealing” in moisture was never imperative to keep my hair moisturized. If you’re unfamiliar, “sealing” natural hair simply means to use a butter or oil to coat the hair in efforts to prevent moisture loss — at least that’s the principle behind this technique. Although some are on the fence about sealing and its effectiveness on natural hair, I’ve found it to be particularly beneficial in decreasing friction as my hair grew longer.

The ends of your hair is the oldest part of your mane and they’re often put under additional stress due to the weather (i.e. wind) or clothing. Applying additional product to the ends provides another layer between the hair and the elements, offering some protection. My product of choice? A heavy moisturizer. Why?

- In addition to protecting my ends, I also want to keep them as supple and moisturized as possible to minimize split ends and breakage, and oils do not actually provide moisture to the hair.

- Heavy moisturizers also often have thicker oils or butters in the first five ingredients, such as shea butter, cocoa butter, castor oil, or jojoba oil, making them ideal for the extra protection. Double the benefits, double the fun.

It’s important to remember that your moisturizer should have an oil or butter at the beginning of the ingredients list and you don’t want something that’s too light unless your hair is fine and weighed down with heavier products. Here are some of my faves:

Coco Curls Moisturizing Styling Cream

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Coco Curls Moisturizing Styling Cream includes shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil and has the added benefit of rosemary extract, which is said to help decrease hair breakage.

Oyin Whipped Pudding

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Oyin Whipped Pudding contains shea butter, cocoa butter, castor oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and olive oil. You can also use it on your body – it smells like chocolate!

Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream

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Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream doesn’t even list water as the first ingredient – it’s castor oil. Add in olive oil and ayurvedic botanicals and you’ve got an ideal cream for moisturizing and protecting hair.

Bekura Palm Tapioca Deluxe Hair Buttercream

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Bekura (formerly B.A.S.K.) Palm Tapioca Deluxe Hair Buttercream boasts some ingredients that aren’t as common, such as cupuacu butter, babassu seed oil and ucuuba butter. It’s also great for twist outs.

Do you prefer to “seal” with a moisturizer? If so, what are your favorite products?

**This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair**

More Natural Hair Businesses are Crowdfunding — But Not All Are Finding Success

Crowdfunding is the new black. Almost every day, I receive another alert for a Gofundme, Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign with people asking me to donate for anything and everything, from funding weddings to medical procedures, to business endeavors. Businesses are finding ways to capitalize off of these initiatives, which may not necessarily be a bad thing. In this day and age, it’s difficult to get a substantial loan, especially for small businesses. But is there a way to crowdfund efficiently and effectively?

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Companies may utilize crowdfunding for a number of reasons – to expand their inventory, grow staff, open a new store, or even get them out of debt. Earlier this year, there was a lot of buzz about the production of “CWK Straight Plates,” which promised nearly silky, straight hair without the use of heat, answering the prayers of many naturals. The project was successfully funded and backers are expected to receive their plates this fall in the first production run. 

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The owners of PuffCuff, an innovative hair tool that is NOT a banana clip, started an Indiegogo campaign to expand their inventory to various sizes of the PuffCuff, rather than produce it for the first time. They requested $3,700 from supporters in exchange for bundles with the new different sizes of the tool once funded. Unfortunately, the campaign did not meet its goal, but the original PuffCuff is still available for purchase.

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In a bold move, ayurveda-based line AfroVeda started a gofundme campaign in order to get their “business back on track.” At the time, there were several complaints on the AfroVeda Facebook page about customers not receiving orders, so it seemed that they needed the funds to buy ingredients for their products and fulfill back orders. The owner stated that she would need to come up with “$7,520 in loans and over due debts that must be paid by the end of the first full week in August in order to keep the business open.” This campaign seems to have been deleted from the gofundme site, and you can still place orders on the AfroVeda site, though several items are on 3-4 week backorder.

What made the “Straight Plates” campaign successful while the other two were not? Opinions regarding crowdfunding vary among consumers. Ultimately, it depends on the presentation of the cause or product. This determines whether people want to contribute or not. If there is a great need for a product or it looks like a game changers, people may be more likely to contribute as opposed to an updated version. I asked some of my curlfriends what they thought of crowdfunding, and the opinions were certainly different:

“I don’t believe in donating money. To put it bluntly, you want me to give you money now to enable me to pay for product and give you money later. Ummm NO! I do believe in supporting, I do videos and advertise sales and new products on my FB sales page. I basically give loads of free advertising.”

“It depends on how much money they need to raise, the circumstances behind it, and whether or not they’ve fallen on bad times before and whether or not it relates to how they handle (or don’t handle) their finances. It also depends on their customer service. You can’t be crappy to people, then turn around and ask for a handout. I’m a nice person, but I’m not a fool so don’t take me for one.”

Okay, so the “bad times” point is a big deal to me. I’m all for supporting businesses and helping them grow, especially black-owned businesses, but please, don’t expect customers to pull you out of your debt. We’re consumers, we are not a bank. I also take issue with companies who have not shown their business savvy in the past and depend on consumers to bail them out of their situation. There is a difference between expanding your business and keeping your business afloat.

Obviously, people will contribute if they believe in the company or the person, but make sure you know where your money is going. And that’s all there is to it.


Do you contribute to crowdsourcing campaigns? Do you think crowdfunding is an efficient business strategy?

This article also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair.

History Repeating: Texture Manageability Systems On the Rise, Will Relaxers Make a Comeback?

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Okay, before you think I’ve absolutely lost it, hear me out. I think that my thought process starts with most of us (well, me at least) considering the moment we began to “reject” our natural hair as the instant we received our first perm. When in fact, we were exposed to hot combs and pressing grease way before the “creamy crack” ever touched our scalps. But because this wasn’t a permanent alteration, it was easy to forget and focus on the perm.

Enter these new “texture manageability systems.” If you’re not familiar, texture manageability systems are product bundles that include a smoothing shampoo, conditioner (usually with shea butter and/or coconut oil), and a “special” leave-in conditioner that usually has essential oils and amino acids or proteins that claim to get hair straight and silky without the use of harsh chemicals. The leave-in conditioner, which is marketed as the “key” to the process, is also said to help prevent reversion of the hair back to the curly state, even in humidity. Additional benefits to texture manageability systems are easier detangling and softening the hair.

So, this whole resurgence of the “silky straightening without the perm” process got me thinking about Madam CJ Walker and her shampoo-press and curl system that included a straightening comb, her claim to fame. Replace our now “activated” leave-in conditioners with her Glossine pressing grease and a flat iron with a straightening comb, and you have some pretty similar product lineups. There are even similarities between the marketing used for TMS and the products on the Madam CJ Walker site (although yes, the current Walker site is not from the 1900s).

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“Helps control unmanageable hair.” Aligns with TMS? Check.

Madam CJ Walker also apparently said that she was in the “hair growing business” with her own system and methodology. Interestingly enough, one of the main “natural mantras” focuses on growing an ample head of healthy hair using your own regimen (or using a regimen based on a kit you bought), i.e., your own system of sorts. TMS are said to make and hair more manageable and help the user retain length.

I know you’re wondering, “Elle, why the heck does any of this matter?” Well, it matters because I wonder if how close we are getting to taking one more step back to relaxers. However, his time, they would be revamped with the hottest buzz ingredients and new treatment name, just like they were revamped before (no lye is gentler!) and multiple times before that looking back to the first relaxer invented in the early 1900s by Garrett A Morgan. When will enough be enough? How many different kinds of kits will we need to buy to make our natural hair “manageable”?

There may come a time when texture manageability isn’t enough and more permanent solutions are once again desired. As trends in black hair care shift, I am interested to see what styles remain popular, and what haircare systems remain on the market.

Are texture manageability systems one step towards relaxers or a more permanent straightening solution? Do you predict that natural hair will increase or decrease in popularity in the next few years?

References:

1. Thirsty Roots

2. Madam Walker

3. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair.

Natural Hair Recruiting: Are the Scare Tactics Really Necessary?

It’s no coincidence that the natural hair business and communities are booming. When I went natural almost five years ago, I was excited. With an absolute foreign sense of my own hair, I embraced my natural hair because I didn’t “know that it could do that.”

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When I finally big chopped and came to grips with my natural hair, I felt conflicted. Yes, I was happy to be in love with my hair, but I saw dissonance among the natural hair community; dissonance that although one was natural, you needed to be a certain kind of natural, that you had to enter the cause in another way and usually due to a political reason. It was in that space that I learned about a kind of “natural hair recruiting.” Not nearly as in your face as some other groups, natural hair recruiting can also be introduced as education or enlightening. I saw women show powerpoints and slideshows to their friends and their daughters because they wanted to “show them what we could be.” I was never opposed to the principle, but questionable of the method.

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