Kurly Kichana Mail: The 'Hard' Hair Files

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hey good lookin'

Today we will address 2 emails that are all centered around the same issue: an issue that we find many women who are going natural experience (even more so in the early stages): 'Hard' hair and the whole Product thing...

NB: For the sake of length, we have edited the emails and shortened them a wee bit.

The first email is from Kat, it reads:
Hi Kurly,
Love your posts/blogs on hair. Im thinking of going natural without cutting up my hair and Ive read your tips and guidelines. Thing is my natural hair is quite kinky, dry and hard to comb.... i just need help in identifying products that will work for this transition (like specifics on which moisturizer, hair oil, conditioners, etc) and if possible where to get them.. on the off chance that i decide to continue relaxing, do you have advice on which products to use?....

The second email is from Wambui, hers was an outright cry for help: (We hear you sister)

Dear Kurly Kichana,
I feel like I have a humongous problem.
I woke up one day in early December 2011 and asked my friend to chop off all my hair, so she did. I felt great!! My hair has never really loved me and it was a relieve to let it go wherever it would "find itself" or whatever! 
Now, it's been almost four months and my new hair or whatever was left of the old hair seems to still hate me as well. I thought that giving us a new start would work...I was wrong! It's roughly about 2-3 inches long when stretched and knots terribly all the time.
I wash my hair daily...or at least wet it. No shampoo...I co-wash once a week and shampoo every month. I co-wash with the Arosci moisture treatment and I sometimes combine with the Arosci protein treatment. By co-wash I mean that I mix the two products and apply to my wet hair, let is stay on for about 5-10 minutes, comb through with an afro comb then rinse.
My hair has really tight coils and looks like it's just an inch long most of the time. It also knots and breaks more often than I care to recall. I feel like I look like a man from the back...I swear I've heard people call me BOSS from the back..... I used to wear beauty and confidence and now I just wear confidence with a tinge of underlying insecurity...yeah and a TWA!
Oh...and I don't tie anything over my head when going to bed, do you think that could be a cause of the knotting?
Looking forward to hearing from you...

The Kurlies Response:

My dear Watson, 
(HUGE Sherlock Holmes fan - sue me) ahem...

Through the uncanny gift of deduction it would appear that we have established a pattern here: 
- 1st:  Most newly naturals exhibit an acute inability to manage and/or properly manipulate their hair in its natural state - this is quite understandable as the onset of natural hair is an alien concept to them. This is something that we went through as well. 

- 2nd: It is equally clear that unintentional Protein Abuse (natural hair crime #1) reigns rampant on the streets. The unavoidable truth is that natural hair and regular protein intake are as akin to one another as beer and crumpets (hurr durr).

-3rd: Poor Mechanical practices is one of the leading causes of nature degradation. Failure to adhere to warnings such as sleeping with protective head gear, proper detangling sessions and regular protective styles, will leave one literally pulling at ones hair in a state of inconsolable hysteria - a state that I am far to familiar with.

But fear not comrades, for all is not lost, today we shall address these three slights in great detail.

1. One must adhere to the rules when it comes to managing natural hair: DO regularly moisturize your hair (spritz bottle, plain old water, moisture rich conditioners etc) and SEAL in the moisture with a natural oil (extra virgin olive oil/ coconut/ jojoba/ what have you). DO sleep with a silk and/or satin scarf - failure to do so will lead to matting, knotting and ultimately breakage. DO detangle your hair with a wide toothed comb when heavily saturated in conditioner. Do it in separated parts, take your time and be gentle. If your hair is long enough, follow up your detangling sessions with a quick protective style such as matutas, twists etc that will stretch your hair and prevent it from knotting up.

2. Protein Vs. Moisture is what it bottles down to. As a natural I would have to say you require 85% of your product application to be solely moisture based. The remaining 15% would cater to protein where application would be on a need-to-basis or as a curative measure. Allow me to elaborate: natural hair needs moisture - and lots of it. Without it our hair would dry up leaving it brittle and susceptible to breakage - too much of it though will leave your hair saturated and stringy. Natural hair also needs lesser amounts of protein. This is to fortify the cuticle and toughen it up. But as mentioned, too much of a good thing is toxic - too much protein can lead to the hardening of hair, making it kinky and unmanageable as mentioned above. 

So where does that leave you? 

Moisture is easily lost to the environment - hence the need to reapply moisture/ moisture based products. We personally like to cowash our hair every so often (once - three times a week). Our daily moisture routines involve daily spritzing and sealing as well as applying moisture based products every other day. This works for us and our lifestyle and our climatic conditions... it may vary from individual to individual... so our advise is to jot down your regiment for a specified amount of time and monitoring how your hair reacts to the adjustments that you make. It will take time, but you will fall into a rhythm that works perfectly for you.

Now, moisture does have its evil side - this is especially true for humid areas that interact with the humectants found in various products. In humid areas, when the air is pregnant with moisture, humectants will pull even more moisture into dry and open cuticles... the end result is rough frizzy hair that is easily course and prone to breakage: 

The good people at Naturally Curly have compiled a list of products that are rich in humectants. Should you reside in a humid region (say the Coastal region) take note:


1,2,6 hexanetriol
Butylene Glycol
Dipropylene glycol
Hexylene Glycol
Phytantriol — enhances moisture-retention, increases absorption of vitamins, panthenol, and amino acids into hair shaft, imparts gloss
Propylene glycol
Sodium PCA
Triethylene glycol
Polyglyceryl sorbitol
Potassium PCA
Hydrogenated Honey
Hyaluronic Acid
Hexanediol beeswax
Hexanetriol Beeswax
Hydrolyzed Elastin
Hydrolyzed Collagen
Hydrolyzed Silk
Hydrolyzed Keratin
Capryl glycol
Isoceteth-(3-10, 20, 30)
Isolaureth-(3-10, 20, 30)

Protein is meant to fortify hair. Now look here, natural African hair is HEAVILY fortified to begin with. So ladies, CALM DOWN with the protein based products, be it animal or plant based protein. Failure to adhere to this stern warning will result in HARD, UNMANAGEABLE, BRITTLE, hair. If it's so evil, why do we need it you ask? Well some times, we put our hair through hell and back with over-manipulation, excessive heat, stretching, and rough detangling and over moisturizing - rendering your hair weak, limp and lifeless. Here is where protein comes in to save the day! Protein reinforces the cuticle (which is basically protein in itself) making it more resilient to the damage we have done.

For the sake of knowledge, here is what to look out for when purchasing products (what to avoid if you want to stay away from protein, and what to look for if you need it):

Proteins in Hair Products

Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed keratin
Hydrolyzed oat flour
Hydrolyzed silk
Hydrolyzed silk protein
Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein
(List compiled by Tonya McKay)

Any questions?
Pics Source 

Eyebrow Raising Stuff

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Good day beautiful people.

For a while now I have had a hectic relationship with my eyebrows. It's been emotional, to say the least. When it comes to my eyebrows I've had every shape etched onto my face; from Cruella De Vil slits to chunky manbrows. 

Guess what, I like the manbrows... 

OK so before you go raising your perfectly groomed brows at me, let me explain where I am coming from... and whats more, I shall use pictorial evidence to support my stand point.

Presenting Exhibit 'A': Cruella De Vil-esque Madness.

I hated these. Man, did I hate my eyebrows at this state. Have you ever walked into a beauty parlor and decided on a whim to get your brows done - "Just to get rid of the little strays and clean them up a bit" - you lay back and hum a tune as the beautician does her expert thang. After a few moments you realize she's spending a little too much time on each individual brow and when you question her, she's like, "relax hun, I got this". 

At long last she is done. You rise and she hands you a mirror... YOU ARE SHOCKED at what you see. You try to calm down, relax your face... and then you notice something: your eyebrows won't come down. They remain suspended in a perpetual state of shock.

"Ah......  #*&%."

So much hate. Erugh!

Never again. Never, not ever again.

Presenting Exhibit 'B': Thick, Neat and Groomed Perfection.

Now I do not have naturally thick eyebrows; I'm somewhere smack in the middle of thick and luscious brows and barely there brows. I sure would have loved the thicker variety, but I'll rock what I've got with pride. That said, the magic of makeup and unperturbed determination can have me achieve the effect I so longingly crave... 


So three months after my eyebrows were last sheared off, I have since decided to grow out these bad boys in hopes of one day achieving the perfect thick brow. Here's where I'm at so far (natural, no eyebrow makeup).

I support this.

Not too shabby.

How to Grow Thicker Eyebrows:
This is a gray area; some people claim that applying good ol' castor oil is one way to grow out thicker eyebrows. Others apply hair fertilizer directly to the eyebrow (both applications should be done at night), while pessimists claim that there's not much that can be done.

I didn't do either. I just left them alone, while occasionally tweezing out the Quasimodo strays. I won't do any heavy manipulation until they are six months old, so until then, I'll have to run around in slightly unkempt looking eyebrows for another three months. 

Le sigh.

What I will basically do (in times of dire need) is apply eyebrow makeup. Its is used just like an eyeshadow to darken my not so thick brows. I like powder based eyebrow makeup because they look more natural and less matted as compared to pencils. They come in a variety of shades; I would recommend that one NEVER buy black as a shade: instead buy a dark brown that works with your skin tone and blend it in with a brush. 

What say you?

Enjoy the day. x

Product love

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hey Kurlies

So we have been off the blogosphere for a while...it was a slight hiatus..with new jobs and opportunities and lots of travel but we are making our comeback slowly

Just wanted to share some products that we are loving at the moment.

This gel is a steal at Kshs 200 at most, it is alcohol free and I find leaves my twist outs looking and feeling fab ...plus it has aloe vera! Go grab yourselves a tub..you will not regret it.


Aqua (water), Clycerin, Aloe Varvadensis Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Panthenol, Carbomer, Tri-Ethanolamine, Hyaluronic Acid, Oleth-20, Disodium Edta, Benxophenone-4, DMDM Hydantoin, Parfum (fragrance), Linalook, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, CI 60730 (ext. violet 2).

Where to buy: Tuskys

As we strolled down the Uchumi aisles, eyes out for new hair products we came across this. Creme of Nature Lemongrass and Rosemary Leave In Conditioner. This is a creamy leave in conditioner that smells great and works well too. Use just a dollop though because it can make your hair a bit greasy.


Ultra-Purified Water (Aqua) (Eau) Petrolatum, PEG-4, Glyceryl Stearate, Sorbitol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Octyl Palmitate, Isocetyl Stearate, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone, Metha Peperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Extract, Polygala Senega Root Extract, Nasturtium Officinale (Watercress) Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Thymus Fulgaris (Thyme) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Mentha Piperta (Peppermint) Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Glycerin, Panthenol, Polybutene, PEG-75 Lanolin, Polyquaternium-10, Polysorbate 20, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Cetylpyridinum Chloride, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Eugenol, Gernal, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Linalool, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenoxyethanol. *Fragrance Contains: Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil And Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil.

Where to buy : Uchumi


Ey Yo! Rasta Girl!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And herein we welcome you to the life and times of K. A lovely lady with locks to match. Enjoy the read!

Anyone who has dreadlocks has to field three questions: why you have dreadlocks, how long you will keep them and when you will cut them off. Also, your hair will be touched. A lot.I don’t tell people the real reason I got dreadlocks. Like many girls weaned on Hollywood movies, I change my appearance when I want to reinvent myself. And after spending my first year in college systematically trying to destroy my life, logic reappeared and I celebrated with a new haircut. But who wants to explain an existential crisis to a complete stranger trying to make polite conversation? I just say that it’s an easy style to maintain.

It’s been five years since, and I’ve learnt a lot about taking care of my own hair. My friends make fun of me because I am a firm believer in d.I.Y. In a fit of ‘inspiration’, I hacked off my own hair and inadvertently had to have a barber give me a very unflattering buzz cut to correct the mess. I (lopsidedly) trim my own eyebrows. And I massacre my cuticles quite regularly in what I believe to be home manicure sessions.

By the way, the most awkward time is when you are a bullet head. I guess it’s a rite of passage, because many give up and go back to normal hair. I don’t blame them. Because once you get past that stage, your friends start telling you just how ridiculous you looked. (Which you did).Early on, I realized that wax was my worst enemy. A few drops of water on my head and my eyes would be stinging. I couldn’t touch my hair because my hands would get greasy. My face would break out anywhere my hair touched it.

After trying out lots of different ‘wax free’ methods which inevitably contained some heavy gel that would be just as bad, I stumbled on a method that lived up to its promise. My hairdresser was called Shepherd (Zimbabweans just recently learnt that just because a word exists in the English language, it doesn’t necessarily make an appropriate name for a human being) Shepherd has one customer less now: I watched him at work and pretty soon I coulddo my own hair, with nothing but a crotchet. It’s still difficult to explain, and I get many sceptical looks, but I basically knit my hair together the same way you knit a sweater. The first trials hurt a lot. But the rewards were well worth it.I also tried to colour my hair. A glorious shade of maroon that looked beautiful on the bottle.

At first, it only showed in the sunlight. Then my hair slowly turned purple. And then the sun grilled it to a bizarre ‘sunset orange’. I had to go back to black. I tried again, with a shade lovingly called ‘midnight passion’ specifically designed for African hair. So now I’m walking around with purplish patches in my hair. No one has made any comments about this, which tells me everything I need to know about my latest experiment.

I hate washing my hair because it takes ages to dry. Ihave to wash my hair regularly because I’m afraid everyone thinks dreadlocks stink. The truth is, they have a wonderful capacity to absorb all kinds of smells. The other day my housemate fried some particularly potent sausages: my hair smelt like a barbeque until I gave in and washed it.People often try to touch my hair. Some wait a polite amount of time before they start asking leading questions. It happens almost without fail. Others just ambush me and I feel a tentative hand exploring my head. Everyone expects me to be radical. Or poetic.Or artistic. I’m not. I’m just a girl with dreadlocks.

If you have any questions for K, please send them via the comments :-)

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