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Happy New Hair: The Curly Girl and Naturalista’s Guide to Four Life-Changing Books! – Part II by Petra E. Lewis

Teri LaFlesh, blogger and author of Curly Like Me

Teri LaFlesh, blogger and author of Curly Like Me

My hair is absurdly complex. It literally took me decades to finally understand it—and discover best practices for maintenance.  However—truth be told—I would never have figured all these things out without an assist.  Today, blogs and YouTube tutorials for natural hair are ubiquitous, but for me it was largely thanks to four books that I was finally able to understand my hair.  This post wraps up the second in my two-part, countdown-style listing of four books that were life changers in helping me to both “decipher” and holistically transform my hair—and can help you, too! Here are my final two game changers…

2/ HEAL THYSELF I became a vegetarian Thanksgiving of 1990. I remember thinking to myself: This is the meatiest day of the year. If I can get through this day without touching the ham at breakfast, or the turkey at dinner, I’ll be fine. Outside of unintended slipups (darn, those Chinese dumplings got me every time!), I’ve never looked back. I can’t remember if I read Queen Afua’s Heal Thyself before or after I went veggie, but like Curly Girl (mentioned in my first post), I consider it to be a foundational text. Anyone who thinks that what you put in your mouth and what is happening on your head are not connected is kidding him or herself. Back in the day (when this stuff was still fringe, not mainstream and being done with thumbs up from celebrities) I did juice fasts, colonics, took raw-foods preparation classes, and once went on a trip to a Native American sweat lodge, sponsored by Queen Afua’s Heal Thyself Center (established 1982). The book opens with Queen Afua’s amazing story of how she cured herself of asthma and other chronic diseases through natural living. As the book’s cover says, “No Woman, Man or Child Should Be Without This Natural Healing Book.” Co-sign!

TO PURCHASE: Heal Thyself

1/ CURLY LIKE ME Teri LaFlesh has one of the single most beautiful head of curls I have *ever* seen (see photo above). Curly Girl and Curly Like Me are co-joined, because without the paradigm shift started by the former, I would not have been able to accept the life-changing advice and absolute gift that Curly Like Me is. The advice Lorraine Massey gave that I considered insane (using No-Poo to cleanse my scalp, and using conditioner only—instead of shampoo—to “co-wash” the rest of my hair) is no longer heresy to me, but Gospel. When you see old photos of Teri’s fried, damaged, stunted teenaged hair, and that child’s miserable face, it lets you know that she really is curly like you—and if these methods worked for her, then they can work for you. What I love most about Terry is the loving, gentle, empowering language she uses to describe curly hair:

The media’s portrayal of hair affects how we view our own hair.…When we watch television and see that there are no representations of hair that behaves like ours, it’s easy for us to feel as if we aren’t normal. To inoculate ourselves against these stealthy influences, we need to be aware of this media bias toward straight hair. If you are, it will save you the energy you would otherwise waste by feeling bad about your hair. Especially since you have magnificent, unique hair—and that’s a good thing….We are repeatedly shown that the only way to handle all hair is by using the methods that work with straighter hair.

(Stares at Terry’s photo on the cover with love and awe: this. woman. gets it.) Curly Like Me is the equivalent of “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!” for curly hair. Calling all curly girls and naturalistas: This woman—and this book—will change your life. Wishing you a Happy New Hair!

TO PURCHASE: Curly Like Me

Till next time: Love, Peace, and Hair Grease, my friends y amigas….

Click to read Part I


Petra E. Lewis is a writer, author, entrepreneur, Tastemaker, and Synergist who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The first novel in her trilogy, The Sons and Daughters of Ham, Book I: A Requiem debuts February 2014, www.hamnovels.com : : @tastemistressp : :  http://on.fb.me/1fUwRNo https://twitter.com/TastemistressP

  • travel bird

    I found Teri LaFlesh’s Curly Like Me to be truly life changing. First, I can go natural and still have controlled curls; secondly, I can travel without an arsenal of products; third, I can freely exercise, swim, play sports, endure hot flashes, and, in general, sweat for any purpose and not panic; and, best of all, my hair is growing really long, something that’s never happened. My natural hair has a tight wave that if not tamed somehow bushes out and breaks once it grows shoulder length. With product, it has a more controlled and polished looking wave — for a hot second. However, all I have to do now is wet it, soak it with conditioner, and scrunch and/or finger comb it just a tiny bit — and go. I refresh it with a bit of water and conditioner every two or three days. I do not have to separate and coil and have a somewhat layered hair cut so when I go natural my hair still has good shape. Ninety percent of my hair drama is a thing of the past.

  • travel bird

    I found Teri LaFlesh’s Curly Like Me to be truly life changing. First, I can go natural and still have controlled curls; secondly, I can travel without an arsenal of products; third, I can freely exercise, swim, play sports, endure hot flashes, and, in general, sweat for any purpose and not panic; and, best of all, my hair is growing really long, something that’s never happened. My natural hair has a tight wave that if not tamed somehow bushes out and breaks once it grows shoulder length. With product, it has a more controlled and polished looking wave — for a hot second. However, all I have to do now is wet it, soak it with conditioner, and scrunch and/or finger comb it just a tiny bit — and go. I refresh it with a bit of water and conditioner every two or three days. I do not have to separate and coil and have a somewhat layered hair cut so when I go natural my hair still has good shape. Ninety percent of my hair drama is a thing of the past.

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Happy New Hair: The Curly Girl and Naturalista’s Guide to Four Life-Changing Books – Part I! by Petra E. Lewis

A New Year always means a “New You”—even if you fall miserably short. I made two lousy resolutions last year and didn’t accomplish either of them. They were tiny things. The kind of stuff I call “should have been there, should have done that” items. Ironically, while I never got around to fulfilling those two (relatively) easy-peazy vows, I did breeze through big, non-resolution items like finally finishing the first novel in my trilogy, and launching two businesses. Go figure.

Cover of Curly Nikki's curly-girl guide, Better Than Good Hair

Cover of Curly Nikki’s curly-girl guide, Better Than Good Hair

So let’s resolve not to make resolutions. Instead, let’s simply tap our inner Oprah—and pursue our best self.  Where should you start? Here—or should I say: HAIR. As we wrap up 2013, and optimistically leap into 2014, HAIR is my end-of-holiday-season gift to you—must reads for having some of the baddest hair anywhere. And I mean that in the RUN-D.M.C. sense of the word: Not bad meaning bad—but bad meaning GOOD!  A perfect segue into my first pick in this countdown-style listing of books. Here are the first two life changers on my list…

4/ BETTER THAN GOOD HAIR  Stumbling upon all these new team-natural blogs and instructional videos in recent years has spawned what I call my “old dog, new tricks” hair education. Arguably La Reina del Naturalista Blogosphere is the Queen herself: Curly Nikki (Nearly 300,000 Facebook likes and 46,000 Twitter followers—and counting…).  My first crack at Nikki’s 2013 curly-girl guide, Better Than Good Hair —a title I found absolutely brilliant—made me LOL (one of Nikki’s not-so-secret weapons: being snot-out-your-nose funny)! She also has that “girlfriend-confidential” thing on lock—you feel like you know her (personally), and she knows you. I was among those who preordered Better Than Good Hair, and while I haven’t gotten through all of it yet, the hi-lar-ious forward section from Kim Wayans (yeah, of the In Living Color Wayans ha-ha! clan) is worth the price of the book alone. I remember Curly Nikki once advising on her blog that when you detangle your hair, you should do it as delicately as if it were lace. Every time I detangle my own hair, that little gem of advice pops into my head. It’s that kind of simple, yet solid baseline advice that makes this a must have on every naturalista’s bookshelf.  TO PURCHASE: Better Than Good Hair 

3/ CURLY GIRL Back in the day, when I used to texturize my hair to stretch out my natural curl, I would literally go into a panic when I took the “what if” leap in my mind about living abroad. I felt like I could not live without my stylist at the time. Today: Homegirl—and all those dreaded chemicals—are long gone, and I take care of my own hair. Now, among the things I cannot (and I mean *really* cannot) live without (anywhere in the world) are the DevaCurl brand of products, created by the Patron Saint of all Curly Girls, Lorraine Massey—co-owner of the Devachan salon and spa in SoHo (a beautifully scented sanctuary for curly girls). To me, Curly Girl is the original spiral-haired manifesto. And like most manifestos, initially it seemed radical to me: Ditch your shampoo? What the…. Then only use a product she invented called “No-Poo” to cleanse your scalp, and (again) do not use shampoo on the rest of your hair! (Faint rustling sound as old girl tries to tip toe quietly towards the door, to get away from this crazy woman.) But Lorraine was right.  Just know this book will rock your world—and its complete paradigm shift on caring for curly/kinky hair is mandatory, if you want to start rocking those curls the way that God intended!  TO PURCHASE: Curly Girl

Check in next week for #2 and numero uno….

Till next time: Love, Peace, and Hair Grease, my friends y amigas….

 


Petra E. Lewis is a writer, author, entrepreneur, Tastemaker, and Synergist who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The first novel in her trilogy, The Sons and Daughters of Ham, Book I: A Requiem debuts February 2014, www.hamnovels.com : : @tastemistressp : :  http://on.fb.me/1fUwRNo