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Sundial Brands broadens product offerings to include Madame CJ Walker Beauty Culture- in Sephora Stores NOW

Sundial Brands

I absolutely love the fact that Sundial Brands is broadening its product offering to include not only Shea Moisture and Nubian Heritage but NOW Madame CJ Walker Beauty Culture is available in Sephora Stores!  YES!!!!

Listen here as NPR’s Marketplace shares the details.  Congratulations to Ms. Mary Dennis, Richelieu Dennis, Nyema Tubman, and the rest of the Sundial team.

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How Living Abroad Pushed me to Become Natural Again by Alex, a contributor

As a southern belle growing up in the deep-south in the 80s, relaxing my hair was the cultural norm. Like most little girls in Memphis, I had my first relaxer at age five. My dear sweet mom did not know how to braid or twist my hair so wearing a relaxer was the only option for me. Plus, I have really thick, “kinky hair” and there was no way my mom was going to struggle to press my hair. I clearly remember the skin burns and burnt scalps I got from the hot comb straightening out my “kitchen”.

Going to beauty salon was the solution to my mom’s problems and quickly became our mother-daughter ritual until high school. We enjoyed flipping through the Dudley hair magazines to see the latest trends before our next six weeks touch up. However, the day I left for boarding school in a remote, predominately white town in New Hampshire, my hair took a turn for the worse. Now, I had to survive on my own and learn how to relax and care for my hair. Yikes! My classmates and I played kitchen beautician and did each other’s hair. I am sure we did some hair damage along the way.

My hair journey got better during my college years in New Orleans where I started to experiment with natural hair and did my first big chop. I had just returned from my internship in Connecticut and decided to cut off my hair after being inspired by another intern. One day, I was at home in the bathroom slowly cutting out my braids and was anxious to reunite with the natural hair that I had abandoned since childhood. I was bold and ready to free myself from the bondage of the relaxer.

Being natural was a time of rediscovery and self love. I enjoyed rushing to the mirror to measure my hair monthly. Twists outs, braids, and Bantu knots were my go to hairstyles and I had even tried locking my hair for a brief period. However, my personal natural hair movement came to an immediate halt when I got married and started working for corporate America. I quickly felt pressured to conform to the relaxed hair regime.

However, life took another turn and in 2010 I returned to my natural self. As my husband and I prepared to travel to Honduras with two kids in tow, the first thing that I stressed about was how I was going to do my relaxed hair in Latin America. When you have relaxed hair, finding the right salon is imperative, especially in cities with small black populations. I searched throughout Tegucigalpa where we lived, and finally I found “ a black hair salon”, which was a blessing and a curse. Located deep in the “barrio”/hood of Honduras with lots of reggeton and salsa music, “Maria’s Sala de Belleza” as I shall say, was a black girl’s heaven. It was the one safe place where a black woman could easily get a Dominican blow out without the mean stairs or was refused service for having “cabello malo”, which means bad hair in English as is a racist term. “Maria”, my new found black hair stylist, over- relaxed my hair and did not rinse out all of my Mizani relaxer that I had bought from the United States.

Maria’s lack of running water and poor relaxing skills led to my hair eventually falling out. My hair was weak and my scalp was always burning after a retouch. I should have run for the door as soon as I saw the bucket of water that was used to rinse my hair. I knew better, but was blinded by the fact that “Maria” was a black hair stylist. Wearing braids was the only way to go until my natural hair grew out.

Since then, I have worn my hair natural and will never go back to a relaxer. In developing countries, the salon industry is so unregulated that you do not know who you can trust with chemicals. My frustrations with hair and finding good products on the local market in Honduras led me to form my cosmetic distribution company, Marina Bella Imports. I currently represent four major U.S. brands in the United States, Honduras, and Rwanda: Luster Products, Cortex Professional, and GK Hair, and my own exclusive line of Passion Remy Indian Human Hair. I did not want future women of color to visit salons with bad products and hair stylists. Now that I work in the hair industry, I have learned how to better care for my hair and teach other hair stylist in developing countries how to properly use chemicals.

As for as hair maintenance, I keep it very simple. I wash my hair once a week with GK Hair Professional, Color Protection Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner. I also deep condition my hair with Shea Moisture products. I apply moisturizing lotion and Olive oil daily. I love to twist or roller set my hair too.

I am very pleased with my hair growth. My hair is thick and is pass my shoulders when it is pressed out. I can do various hairstyles and updos. My bangs stretch to the bottom of my nose. Now I am wearing hair color by GK Hair Professional, and thus my hair is still healthy and strong.

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Hair News: What’s on My Mind (Pantene’s Dad-Do / Strong is Beautiful)

Hello everyone,

I’ve been busily working on several academic manuscripts, launching a new research think tank Natural Hair @ Work Day with the fabulous Terresa Hardaway and Antonia Opiah (Natural Hair @ Work Day is coming in July 2016, check it out here: all while doing my best to be a good wife, Mom, daughter, sister and volunteer (when did life get so busy)!  Nevertheless, I’ve had a lot on my mind!

For one, I LOVE the new Pantene commercial “Strong is Beautiful” featuring NFL players giving their daughters “Dad-Dos” (how cute is that?!).  ABC News provides a lovely extended version where Benjamin Watson (Tight End for the New Orleans Saints) is with his beautiful daughters and states, “She’s going to really judge all men by how I treat her and so it’s important for me to connect with them and do things that they want to do.  Whether it’s doing their hair, whether it’s riding bikes…it’s about connecting and showing them that they’re important.”  (around 1:17)

Here’s the 30-second version from Pantene’s website:

I think that Pantene has done a phenomenal job illustrating that hair is an important way to bond with our little girls.  Watch out! Daddy-Dos coming to the playground near you!

Check back soon to talk about hair in Beyonce’s latest video (Formation)!


Isis Brantley: Entrepreneur and Trailblazer WINS hairbraiding case

Isis Brantley, an entrepreneur and trailblazer for natural hair

Isis Brantley, an entrepreneur and trailblazer for natural hair (image found on

I am thrilled that Isis Brantley won her lawsuit and is now able to braid hair without unnecessary government regulation.  I find it deeply troubling that the state of Texas would bring suit against a woman who is doing what Black women have done for centuries: braid the hair of other women in the community.  Are ancient cultural practices protected from government regulations?   Hairbraiders are entrepreneurs and Black women have long used hairbraiding as a path for economic gain, perhaps when they were unable to or chose not to obtain employment in the larger economy.  Since money is involved, must these practices be controlled by the government?  That is a troubling thought.

According to the Institute for Justice website (, the state of Texas began regulating hair braiders in 2007; and, in a seemingly unwise move, subsumed hairbraiding licenses under the state’s barbering regulation.  This decision would have forced Ms. Brantley to install barber chairs, almost double the size of her business and install sinks (ironically, in Texas hair braiders cannot offer services that need sinks).  Additionally, Ms. Brantley would have had to invest up to 750 hours learning to be a barber instructor, and passing exams related to barbering.  Seriously?!  What’s next?  Are we going to force the women who bake and sell cakes for the church to become licensed caterers?

Thanks goodness Ms. Brantley pursued justice.  Not only did the court rule the barbering requirements as unconstitutional for hairbraiding schools (January 2015) but, the legislature fully deregulated natural hairbraiding in Texas (June 2015).

Ms. Brantley, I salute you.  You are a trailblazer for natural hair and for justice.

Sources that discuss Ms. Brantley’s experience:

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Sundial Brands (SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage) partners with Bain Capital

A little under a week ago, September 2nd to be exact, Sundial Brands announced a partnership with Bain Capital.  Sundial owns such popular natural hair brands as SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage.


Here, Sundial describes its partnership with Bain Capital:

“Today, Sundial Brands, announced an historic and exciting partnership with Bain Capital to bring the firm on as a minority, non-control investor in our company. As we approach our 25th year in business, this begins another transformative chapter in our story – a story that our community of employees, consumers, retail partners and many more are writing along with us. So, we wanted all of you to hear straight from us why we made the decision. Quite simply, we want to be better so that we can serve our communities better. Period. But we thought you might want a few more details as well, so here are some of the key reasons why this is such an incredible opportunity for us – and you!”

The website goes on to provide 10 reasons SundialBrands chose a new partner.  Feedback on social media seems largely positive.  For some, the partnership with Bain will allow SunDial to reach more consumers, broaden the brand’s reach, and, hopefully, generate additional revenue.  However, some bristle because Bain Capital was founded by Mitt Romney.  In essence, some may perceive Bain Capital as a Republican haven and think that the firm cannot properly handle a natural hair brand.  Articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe provide additional context on the partnership and Bain Capital.

What are your thoughts?  Is it it a good move for Sundial Brands to partner with Bain Capital?  Why or why not?

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Camping, bears and my new do

Hi everyone,

As you may recall, I got another big chop when my hair was damaged by a flat iron.  This short curly do has come in handy this week as I planned to camp with my hubby at a few national parks.  Ok, I confess, I’m NOT a “roughing it” kind of girl.  Sooooo, when we pulled up to our cabin (Laurel Hill State Park) the other night I loved the gorgeous natural scenery but I was taken aback to realize that there was no bathroom, no shower, no water in our unit (public showers down the road a bit).

Laurel hill state park cabins in woods- 555b62e8b2661.image

Wow.  But it was game over for your girl, the woods and this whole camping idea when someone spotted a BIG bear (Blue Knob State Park).  The park ranger made matters worse when she said, “Well, don’t run” when I asked what we should do if we crossed paths with the bear.

PA bear

HA, camping trip over, we booked the next few nights at a Best Western.

So, what does this have to do with hair?  Well, I can honestly say that aside from a dousing with water and a dab of gel, I haven’t thought about my hair one bit.  The freedom NOT to think about what I’ll do with my hair if I want to take a swim or if we get caught in a downpour, or if we’re away from running water for a day…ahhhh, that has been liberating.  The swatting gnats, flies and peering onto the horizon for lumbering bear-like gaits, all while keeping my finger on the remote car lock so that I can high tail it to the car if need be, not so much.

Outside of the fear of being eaten by a bear, I’ve truly enjoyed our time in the outdoors.  Seriously, national parks are indeed a national treasure.  If you have a chance, visit one.  🙂

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I’m baaaccck and so is my hair

Hello everyone,

In my last post, I mentioned that my hair was quite damaged from a flat iron.  I usually don’t use much heat in my hair, but I decided to get a blow-out, trim and a flat-ironed style. I loved the style!

Tina- flat iron fiasco

BUT, when I washed my hair, it wouldn’t return to its natural, kinky glory.  My hair would simply NOT curl on the ends.  Since then, I have been on the hunt for a Boston stylist who is also a trained barber.  Well, thanks to a recommendation (thanks Tiffany!), I found him!  My hair is now in a feminine, modified mohawk.


Tina Mohawk


Well, I’m choosing to look at this as the glass half full: I have a healthy head of hair and a fresh summer cut!  🙂  Have you ever suffered from heat damage?  What did you do to rectify the situation?

  • Tina Opie

    Thanks for sharing Laquita! I learned my lesson!

  • Petra Lewis

    Hi Tina: I have a very strict no-heat policy on my hair. As you know, my hair curls naturally. In the past I’ve had people tell me I can safely use a diffuser on a blow dryer to dry my hair, etc., etc. FALSE! I have the kind of hair where any heat means GAME OVER. I will never have perfect spirals on that batch of hair again–I would literally have to start over in growing it out, and be totally miserable in the interim. Soooooo not worth it. That’s why I don’t mess with heat anymore–and I’m happier for it! : ) #hairpeace Postscript: I was looking at a video recently on naturals wearing crochet weaves (totally foreign territory for me), and see that the women were flat ironing their natural hair to get it to match the weave hair. Totally counterintuitive, and inviting trouble as a protective style!

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Hair Damage! Watch those flat irons ladies!

Welp, I did it.  Made the BIG mistake that I’ve managed to avoid for almost 20 years: damaged my hair with heat.  I recently got a blow out, flat iron and trim.  My hair stayed that way for about three weeks.  This morning I washed it and lo and behold…there were MANY sections with bone straight ends.


This is not me but it shows what happened to my ends. They will NOT return to their natural, kinky state.


Stay tuned as I’ll share some hair care insights and tips from Ms. Giovan Lane, a wicked smart scientist who is the founder and product designer of cinagrOrganic LLC (

  • v

    Hey my hair is exactly like this and i really hate it. I have to chemically straighten it for like 2 times in a year and thus damaging my hair very badly! now i’m just sick of it and i don’t know what to do 🙁

    • Tina Opie

      Hi Elizabeth, Just seeing your comment! First, I encourage you to embrace your hair. It took me a minute, but I haven’t looked back since. Second, do you have any friends who you can swap styles, websites, etc. with? The community has been invaluable to me! Please keep us posted as you try different things! Thanks!

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I Lack Hair Confidence by Meredith

I went to the hairdresser two days ago and decided to get highlights in my hair. This was a big step for me as I have always been afraid of change, especially when it comes to my hair. I can still remember when I was a child, every Sunday my mom would wash our hair and blow-dry it. Then she would take my sister and me into the kitchen where she would have a chair sitting next to the stove. She had her little “station” set up on the stove and the countertop. Sulfur 8 hair grease; the hot comb on the stovetop; a plastic comb and a towel; I hated Sundays. My mom would make my sister and I take turns. I usually went first, as my hair wasn’t as “bad” as my sisters. She would put the hot comb on the stovetop, take the Sulfur 8 and rub it around the edges of our hair, and then take that hot comb off the stove and press our edges. This was done between relaxer treatments to make it last longer. I can still feel the heat that the comb gave off, the sound of the sizzle at it came into contact with the grease. My sister’s edges and hair overall was worse than mine, so her session usually took longer. My mom said it was all necessary to get our hair to grow. My mom took great pride in making sure her girls had “good hair”.

Then one summer when my sister and I were off visiting our father in Bermuda (my parent’s split when I was very young and every summer my sister and I went to visit him for 2 months), the unthinkable happened. My mother would always tell us not to let our stepmother cut our hair while we were down there visiting. My stepmother is white, and according to mom, she knew nothing about black hair. It was the summer before my 6th grade year, and one day after coming home from swimming, my stepmother chimes, “we need to get you girls’ hair cut”. I boldly exclaimed, “My mom said for us not to get our hair cut”, to which my stepmother replied, “Well, your mother isn’t here”. The war was on. A couple days later my stepmother was taking us to the salon to make an appointment for both my sister and I to get our hair cut. The appointment was made, but neither my sister nor I could have been prepared for what was in store for us. I remember on the day of the appointment I spent the ride in the car combing my hair out in an effort to make it be seen that my hair didn’t need anything done to it. My plan didn’t work.

Bangs Phase
At the salon, my stepmother spent time looking through magazines to pick out styles for both myself and my sister. The styles that she picked out were for old people, not girls heading into the 6ht and 7th grade (my sister is a year older than me). The style she picked out for me was…an afro. Cut it all off and make is a short fro. No other way to say it. I remember sitting in the chair as this man cut off all of my hair. I was hysterical. I cried as he cut it. I cried sitting under the dryer. I cried as he styled it, I cried and cried and cried for days. I was so upset that even as we went to a barbeque at my aunt’s house days later, I locked myself in my cousin’s bedroom and hid because I felt so ugly. A couple of weeks later when we finally returned back to my mom in NY and she caught the first glimpse of my sister and myself with our “new do’s” you could see the look of furor on her face. All I could say was, “She made us get our hair cut”. To which my mother replied, “That is the last time you will go to Bermuda”.

I remember my mom getting on the phone and giving my stepmother a verbal ass-chewing about our hair and her “role” in our lives. Nonetheless the damage was done. My sister and I were to start school in a week with afros. My 6th grade year was horrible. I was ridiculed by my classmates. They used to sing “afros in the house” whenever they saw me. I was teased, they drew pictures of me and my hairdo, and they even threw rocks at me while I was walking home from school. By the end of the school year, my hair grew out enough so that my afro became a short bob. But this incident really defined how I viewed my hair and how I feel like my hair defined me.

After that year, I became very protective of my hair. I went through a period where I refused to get my hair cut. I needed my hair to be long enough to be able to pull back into a pony tail. Even getting my hair trimmed was a process for me. I would watch the hairdresser like a hawk to make sure he or she wasn’t taking too much off. To this day, I still have that problem. If I go to the hairdresser, I will only ask for a trim. I refuse to get layers because heaven forbid the layers are too short for a ponytail. I won’t do bangs for the same reason, plus I never know what to do with them during that awkward growing-out period. I have found that I lack “hair confidence”. It may sound crazy, but it’s true. I don’t feel confident in myself without having longer hair. I don’t feel like I can be sexy to a man, or be able to impress an employer with short hair. My hair defines my confidence and my life.

I am turning 35 years old in less than two weeks and I am afraid of my hair. My highlights came out great and I am surprised at myself for being bold enough to put my faith in my hairdresser to make that change, but I still couldn’t bring myself to get more than a trim. My hair is still long enough to pull back into a ponytail. It’s still one length, with no layers. To me, that incident of having the afro back in the 6th grade made me feel that short hair is ugly. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many women who can rock a short do, and I applaud them and are envious of them as for me it makes me think that they have a confidence that I will never know. But for me, I could never do it and still feel pretty or confident, because of my prior experience. I don’t know if I will ever get over that experience or know that “hair confidence”. I think I will always need to have my shoulder length or longer hair.

New hairdo 2014

  • Laquita

    Thanks for being brave to share your experience. No doubt, other women went through a similar experience.

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New Hair Trend: Dyed Armpit Hair

This post may be a bit much for some, but here we go!  🙂  Remember, the goal of is to explore hair and identity…hair in its many manifestations!

I recently learned of a process where people are dying their armpit hair.  In some instances, the armpit hair is being dyed so that it matches bright hues of head hair.  In other instances, the armpit hair alone is brightly dyed.  Here is a link about armpit hair dying:

Here are a few images from Tumblr (I chose pics with no face).  This might turn into a few days of posting because I first want to ask, what do you all think?  What was your immediate emotional response to the images?  Please provide your thoughts in the comments section.  Thanks!

armpit hair3-tumblr_my44nfJS0T1qjsfy7o1_500 armpit hair4-tumblr_n0wm3xKJDw1qbrnido1_500

  • Laquita

    Hmmm…interesting. I can imagine some women choose to dye their armpit hair (particularly those who use bold colors) to make a bold statement about what is generally accepted as beauty for women in this country. Why are women expected to shave their armpits? Who determined that shaved armpits should be the norm?

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