In Honor of Natural Hair Day: 10 Facts About the Los Angelista Afro

Sunday, January 2 was Natural Hair Day on Twitter. It's been so awesome to see black women sharing-in 140 characters or less-all the fantastic things about natural hair. So, in honor of such an auspicious event, I figure it's time to have a little "Los Angelista's Afro" Open House. People are always asking me questions about how I do my hair and how I take care of it, so come on in and find out 10 facts about the 'fro.

1) Chemical Free Since 2007: I haven't put chemicals of any kind in my hair for over three years. I spent a year growing out my relaxer by doing straw sets. Then, in the summer of 2008 I cut all the straight ends off and rocked a short 'fro. Three years later, you get this:
That's my hair with zero product in it-no hair butters, no gel, no leave-in conditioner. I'd washed it a couple hours beforehand and just let it air-dry. My nine year-old son took this picture of me because he thought my hair looked so huge and awesome, and he liked it. No, I don't usually leave the house with it looking like this. I just wanted you to be able to see what's what without it being altered in any way.

2) I Have No Idea What "Type" My Hair Is: I know some folks get all into figuring out what type of curl they have-is it a 3C or a 4A or a 4B or a 4C... Seriously, I probably have all of the above on my head. The middle/top of my head doesn't really curl. It just frizzes. I used to really hate it but now I'm like, eh, do whatever you're going to do. The sides and the very back of my hair curl but in all sorts of different ways. I'm too busy to figure out what type the different sections are. Unfortunately, some people think that they need to tell me it's "too bad" all my hair doesn't curl the way the hair on the sides of my head curls. They can suckit.

3) No Chemicals Means Not Even Chemical Hair Color: Even back in my straight haired days, I never used permanent hair color on my hair because that stuff scares me-and the other chemical dyes that gradually wash out simply do NOT "take" to my hair. So, I use henna to color my gray. For the past year I've been a Lush henna addict. It leaves my hair feeling AMAZING and the color is awe-some.

4) Scissors?: Since 2008 when I got all the straight hair cut off and had a little mini-fro, I've only had one professional haircut and that was in May of 2010. All the rest of the time, I just two strand twist it every few months and then snip the ends.

5) It Shrinks ALOT: My hair is actually twice the length you see in the picture. It just shrinks a whole lot. If you spend any time at all talking to other natural-haired ladies, you're going to come across people who positively hate the way their hair shrinks and are looking for a magical product or potion that will keep it looking as long as possible. Eh, sometimes it's annoying but ultimately, it's not that serious to me. Shrinking is just what it does. I'm embracing it.

6) How I Do My Hair: This is WAY more detail than most of you would ever want to know, but I get asked this alot so voila:
  • I rinse my hair with either VO5 or Suave naturals conditioner. Sometimes I throw in a little bit of DevaCurl shampoo if my hair feels a little "unhappy".
  • I detangle my hair in the shower with a Denman Brush and a whole lot of Organix Conditioner with Coconut Milk. I don't rinse most of the conditioner out.
  • To style I rake through Kinky Curly Curling Custard hair gel-trial and error has taught me it's the only gel I can use on my hair. Also, sometimes I have to twirl the ends of the hair on top of my head around my fingers because otherwise, things will just wave and frizz.
  • Air dry. Yes, it takes a long time to dry in the winter. Summertime is much easier.
  • No, I doesn't take a lot of time. No, I don't do this every day. Sometimes I just spritz it with water. Sometimes I have to rinse it and apply a bit more conditioner or gel. It just depends on how it looks when I wake up.
7) A Special Miss Jessie's Note: Folks always ask me if I use Miss Jessie's products. The only one that does anything for my hair is the Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment deep conditioner. I'll cover my hair with plastic and leave it on for a few hours and then rinse it. Everything else? A TOTAL fail and the smell of most of those products makes me want to barf.

8) Most of the Time, it Looks Like This:
That was last Monday night around 1 a.m. after cleaning up my house post-party. Yawn.

9) I Like My Hair.
Not everybody else will, and that's OK. Part of being natural is you learn to stop giving a rats ass about what other people think about your hair because seriously, once you go natural, everybody and their mama will have some commentary about it. It's either too big or too frizzy. I have to hear Angela Davis jokes and, "Girl, I couldn't go around with my hair standing all over my head like that. I'd get fired!" Mmm hmm. It's true that employers in America still have problems with natural hair. It's a brave thing to go on a job interview with unstraightened hair. However, until we collectively stand up and STOP conforming, people will not have to accept what grows out of black folk's heads. And there are always lawsuits.

10) Frizzy Lizzie:
Yes, sometimes my hair is frizzy and oh my goodness, the frizz drives me NUTS. But then my sons make me laugh about it. My youngest, Mr. T, thought this song from Phineas and Ferb was about me. He thought the lyrics were, "Lizzie's got the frizzies." Ha!

SO, that's 10 facts about the Los Angelista Afro. Thanks for visiting and feel free to come back again and spend some time with the fro in all it's big, frizzy, kinky glory.


Lucrecer said…
You are so awesome and I love, love, love your hair.
nick said…
Your hair may shrink, Liz, but it still looks like big hair to me. Angela Davis' hair was just something else - a bit too over the top if you ask me. Not that it's any of my business....
I cut the chemicals out 13 years ago. Never going back to the creamy crack.

Uhm, I actually did not mean to rhyme.

Your hair is gorgeous. So healthy.
Jameil said…
Hair is so crazy! Mine is various textures as well with some of it having a stronger curl pattern than others. I had no idea 3C or a 4A or a 4B or a 4C were even options! Why would that matter??? I used to HATE the shrink when I was fro-ing it up! I actually kind of love your hair without the product! Looks great either way! I've never used permanent color either after freaking out over a rinse years ago. LOLOL I thought about Miss Jessie's but couldn't after seeing that price! Chemical free since 04!
Liz Dwyer said…
You are WAY too kind to you for your kindness, though. ;)

It is pretty big hair, but what people want when they complain about their hair shrinkage is for their hair to grow down and not out. My hair grows out no matter what I do. The only way it's growing down is if I go back to chemicals and that's not happening.

Angela Davis' hair was cool but I feel like folks make the comparison in a way where they're not trying to compliment. They're trying to label someone as a militant, counter-culture non-conformist...which I don't mind, but seriously, it gets old.

You were one of my big cheerleaders when I was agonizing over whether to roll with the hair that grows outta my head. *hugs*. And I like the rhyming! You gots skillz!

Another "I got your back" sister! Love you for it. And isn't that labeling/hair typing kinda crazy? I've noticed some people are all, "I have 3C hair!" because they think it means their hair is better/less kinky. Whatevs to that old world thinking. Not trying to carry that "more European=good" mess into the world.

Miss Jessie's is a hot mess with their prices. And for a haircut in the salon? Um, no ma'am.
1969 said…
I love you and your awesome, strong, beautiful, natural hair.
Unknown said…
Positive example! Looks great! Natural hair is beautiful!
Call Family said…
Love this post. What happened to mix-chicks?
Liz Dwyer said…
Thank you! ;)

I think natural hair is beautiful, too. I hope more black women ditch the chems.

I still like it but I have to use so much of it that it gets a little $$.
Tracy said…
You hair is amazing! I'm 6 years natural this month. One of the best decisions I've made in life! LOL

Not to be a downer, but I wonder if you've seen this video about this little girl, whose hair was permed at NINE MONTHS OLD. It's sad. I don't understand why this isn't illegal! Why are we doing this to beautiful little black girls.
Michele said…
Oh my god, you're amazing. Thank you for this post. My daughter is 2 1/2 and she has your hair. I'm learning how to work with it (I'm white with very thin-straight hair), and I love finding people that love their curly hair. Because they are plenty of women that don't. So far, I have used Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner on Jocelyn's hair, and I use my own shampoo and conditioner. I stopped using baby shampoo when she was about 6 months old because it was worthless. Thanks for the breakdown of what you do too. The more her hair grows the more I have to learn :)
Liz Dwyer said…
Tracy & Michele - Sorry I've been SO busy lately I've been slacking on replying to comments.

Tracy - That video is INSANE. That is self-hate on the part of the parents right there on film.

Michele - I'm so glad it was helpful and I'm so glad you're helping your little one love her curly hair. That makes me happy.

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