Black Men's Opinion on Natural Hair

Monday, September 28, 2009

Natural Beauty Products for Your Hair and Skin?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Creators of "Mixed Chicks" beauty product line

The "natural products" phenomenon is nothing new - plenty of women have been interested in only applying natural products to their hair and skin forever. I am particularly interested in checking out those sorts of products - I have been drawn to companies like Origins, which has a lot of natural products for your skin that refresh your skin and provide it with an enhanced and refreshing feeling and look (I specifically recommend my fave Origins product of the moment, "Modern Friction"). If you know of any natural hair and/or skin product sites, please let me know! I found a few sites that look really great, and I plan on purchasing some products or testers in the near future to try them out and do a blog post and Youtube video on them: Afrokinks and Mixedchicks. If you've tried their products and like or dislike them, also please feel free to let me know!

Have Independent Women Forgotten How to Let A Man Be a Man?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Essence Magazine's September 2009 issue, I noticed an article entitled "Who Wears the Pants?", where a man named Keith McQuillon, 42, tells an Essence reporter that independent women today have forgotten how to let men be men. Here is a snippet from the article:
"In 1996 my ex-wife and I split partly because she always wanted to be the one in control. Since then, I've been in only one serious relationship. Too many of the Black women I've dated wanted to call all the shots. Whenever I've tried to lead, I've repeatedly heard, "I'm not going to let a man run my life." Good, because I don't want to, but I do want someone who respects my opinion and wants to meet me halfway. I'd marry a woman who says, "Baby, why don't we do things your way this time?" I've noticed that women of other races seem more willing to let a man be a man. But I'd prefer to find a Black partner to build my future with. And when I find her, I'll treat her with the same love, care and respect that my dad showed my mom."

In my opinion, that quote in and of itself represents a growing divide between men and women today along the line of one particular question: Who really wears the pants in a relationship these days? And what does it really mean to say, "let a man be a man?"

First of all, I find it disconcerting that Keith lumps black women into a category and women of "other races" into another category. While there may be slight cultural (not racial) distinctions among independent women of different ethnic backgrounds, the overriding culture of "independent womanhood", in my opinion, does not really fall along racial lines. Women of all races and cultures today are finding themselves within their own independence and defining their financial and career independence without a boyfriend or husband dictating their steps. Many women, regardless of race, will hesitate and perhaps get very defensive if a man tried to harp upon their independence. In my opinion, black women are not the only women who would tell Keith, "I'm not going to let a man run my life." Even the intense popularity of "Sex and the City" (a show without black female protagonists) illuminates the increasing trend of independent/don't mess with my goals/you can't run my life-type women around the world today.

That said, I will address the main question posed in this article: Have independent women forgotten how to let a man be a man? I have not done any statistical studies on this question, but I can speak for myself when I ask the follow-up question: "What does it mean to 'let a man be a man?'" I find that as a society today, we collectively compare ourselves to generations of the past - the "the way way it used to be, sigh!" mentality that has often led people to make blanket and uninformed statements about gender divide issues today. In the beginning of the article, Keith explains that when he was growing up, his dad was the head of the household, and his mom followed his dad's lead. He states:

"When they disagreed, they talked it out, but he got the final say. Before you get all riled up, you should know I don't expect that. I like an opinionated and independent woman. But I believe in compromise, and I take issue with ladies who aren't willing to."
While I don't take issue with the latter part of Keith's statement, I would note that Keith appears to be torn between wanting to mirror his dad's role as a husband and Keith's own desire to respect a woman's independence and the concept of compromise. And Keith isn't the only man in the world with the same issue. With the increasing trend of independent women in today's world, I really do believe that men have been forced to make an adjustment, and either adapt to the trend or choose to reject it and only seek women who either don't want to be independent or are independent but prefer the man to lead on most decisions in a relationship.

As gender roles increasingly evolve, the question of "who wears the pants" is not an easy one to answer in 2009. On a literal level, both men and women put on their suits every weekday, report to work and earn their money. On a conceptual/figurative level, "who wears the pants" is a case by case situation, where men and women in relationships explicitly or implicitly make an agreement to let the man or the woman make the decisions, or whether they will choose to compromise on their decisions.

Take Charge of Your Credit

Saturday, September 12, 2009

As you probably already know, your credit score plays a very important role in your life, and it is crucial that you know how to maintain a great credit score. In Essence Magazine's September 2009 issue, I found an excellent article entitled "Take Charge of Your Credit!" by A.M. Rusin. It encourages readers to protect their credit scores by 1) opening all mail, 2) making timely payments, 3) staying out of the credit danger zone, 4) reassessing credit, and 5) getting a fixed rate on credit cards. Among all these tips, it is important to highlight #3: staying out of the credit danger zone. Be aware that "issuers are looking for red flags indicating a consumer is in trouble ... Late payments, high balances and cash advances could be a sign of cash flow problems and prompt a change in terms. If issuers sense you're at risk, they may assess a monthly fee, lower your credit line, or raise your APR," says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling ( (cited in "Take Charge of Your Credit").

We may live in a "spending is cool" culture, but I very much encourage you to think twice before purchasing something on your credit card if you don't believe you can really afford it. My personal motto with credit is: if I can't realistically pay off my credit card this month if I purchase this item, I can't afford the item right now. The motto may sound a bit restrictive, but it definitely helps to maintain a good credit line and reduces the opportunity to rack up a exorbitant amount of credit card debt. In Essence's "Take Charge of Your Credit" article, it provides 4 ways to protect your credit score:
Payment History. "Grace periods are shrinking," states Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "Open your statements the day they arrive."
Amounts Owned. "Don't carry a balance that is more than 30 percent of your available credit because having higher ratios can begin to negatively affect your score," says Bruce Cornelius, chief marketing officer for
Length of Credit. "Don't get angry and close an account," warns Cunningham. Your credit history is calculated as an average, so a one-month-old account averaged against a ten-year account will shorten the history and lower the score.
Types of Credit Used. Be wary of 0 percent interest or no-money-down offers. If you do use credit for a large purchase, know that installment terms have a more positive impact because the terms are fixed.

For those of you that are trying to increase your credit score, don't fret. I very much encourage you to check out the Suze Orman Show or go to the library or bookstore and check out her books. She offers sound and excellent financial advice, and is very clear and concise with her commentary. I would also suggest ordering a copy of your credit report (you can get it for free at once a year).

Is "Weave" A Dirty Word?

Friday, September 4, 2009

<-- Jessica Simpson's Clip-In Hair Extensions

As much as I support any woman who wants to have fun with their hair and diversify their look with hair extensions, I can't help but wonder: Is the word "weave" a dirty word? And if so, why?

I know that some women with naturally long hair take offense when another person accuses them of having fake hair, when the hair is completely natural. I also know that many women who do wear extensions take offense when someone points it out and teases them about it. However, considering the popularity of hair extensions over the ages, why do people freely accuse others of having a weave and then joke about it? For example, people continuously love to point out the fact that Beyonce, Tyra Banks, and Naomi Campbell all wear extensions. Many people even joke about it, to the degree where they have published videos on YouTube providing proof that they wear extensions. I have even heard women blatantly accuse another woman with long hair of having a weave, as if it were a bad thing (the statement is usually a variation of the following quote: "That isn't her real hair - she has a weave!"). One particular YouTube video attempts to make a convincing argument that "Weaves make [black women] look bad." Several black women with naturally long hair have also published videos on YouTube about their frustration with people accusing them of having weaves, when their hair is actually their own.

The degree of scrutiny over fake hair has led me to this question: Is the word "weave" a dirty word? Specifically, is "weave" a dirty word when talking about a black women's hair? To be honest, I really don't know, but I do know that many people of all races and ethnicities wear hair extensions hoping that people would make the assumption that it is their own hair. There are also people who feel a strange obligation to point out that a woman is wearing extensions, as if to discover a beauty flaw or insinuate that the person is not as beautiful because that hair supposedly does not naturally belong to the woman's body. They have gone so far as to tug on women's hair at public gatherings (e.g. at nightclubs) or quickly tap the back of the woman's head to test whether or not the woman is wearing a wig and/or can feel weave track lines on the back of the head. A lot of black women have had to deal with this issue, particularly in light of the fact that some people have a hard time digesting the fact that black women can naturally have long hair. An unnecessary and ridiculous situation? Yes. But does it happen? All the time.

I personally think people need to leave others alone when it comes to their hairstyle choices. I also think that it is silly to automatically assume that a black woman has hair extensions if she has long hair flowing down her back. And if you happen to like wearing hair extensions, keep rocking your look. If people have an issue with it, they'll get over it. If they don't, it is their issue, and not yours.

Fall 2009 Makeup Trends

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I have never really used to pay close attention to seasonal makeup trends - I am a dark red lipstick/black eyeliner girl all the way. However, I have become increasingly interested in changing up my look, and I know that many of you may be interested in some change as well! After doing a bit of investigation of Fall 2009's makeup trends, I present the trend verdict:

According to Benjamin Twist in his article, "Best Fall 2009 Makeup Colors", "the latest fashion trends for fall 2009 makeup colors are all about high contrast - bright, deep, dramatic colors against a very light, natural background."

Eyes: "[D]ark and bold. Purple is one of the best fall makeup colors overall, and the eyes are no exception. Put on a lush coat of deep purple eye shadow for a truly trendy look this fall." Twist also suggests deep earthy tones, like forest greens, browns, in order to bring out your natural eye color for a more neutral look. "Gold and bronze, and similar metallic colors, are some other hot new makeup colors for fall 2009." I was thrilled to find out that the smoky eye look is still in style: "Smoky eyes, with dark mascara and black eye shadow, are hotter than ever, and if anything the look is moving toward even bolder and darker smoky eye makeup for the fall 2009 fashion season."

Lips: I am in love with dark red lipstick, so I'm happy that it is a fashionable 2009 fall trend. Twist states that "the hottest trends in makeup colors for fall 2009 are bright reds and ripe, juicy berry colors." I'm not a personal fan of purple (I don't think I could pull it off), but Twist notes that "purple is one of the best fall makeup colors for lips as well as eyes, so it may be worth getting a few shades of deep purple lipstick."

Interestingly enough, I may have to make some adjustments with this particular fall 2009 trend: Not using dark colors on both the eyes and the lips. Twist notes that this is a very clear trend in makeup trend this season, so he advises that you give give only one part of your face a bold look, and opt for a more neutral look on the rest of your palette.

Nails: Twist notes that "for fingernails, purple and metallic colors like gold and bronze are once again the hot makeup colors for fall 2009. Set off the colors in the rest of your look with a bold and dramatic dark nail polish." I personally will opt for pinks and bronzes - I don't really think purple and gold nails work for a lot of office environments.

Foundation and Eyebrows: Twist advises that "the best look for the fall 2009 beauty trends is to keep it neutral and minimalist. A light touch of foundation is plenty, and natural, bold eyebrows are in fashion so be careful not to over-sculpt your brows or make them too narrow." I already use really light (as opposed to a heavy) powder foundation, so I'm all set on that trend. Regarding my eyebrows - I like my eyebrows sculpted, and am trying to stop over-sculpting them. I may have to tear myself away from the tweezers a bit more, but I am definitely making a conscious effort to allow my eyebrows to grow in a bit more and get a fuller look overall.

In addition to Twist's advice, I would definitely recommend a voluminous mascara - a bit hit for fall 2009 makeup looks. Full, delicious lashes are always in, so check out your nearest beauty counter and pick up a new tube! My favorite mascara? Christian Dior's DiorShow, which can be found at your nearby Sephora store, or online at

Michelle Obama's Hair - A Mainstream Media Topic?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Michelle Obama is the First Lady, so it is understandable that people feel free to critique her fashion, her makeup, and her hair on a daily basis. However, her hair has increasingly become a focus of discussion in the mainstream media. As I was randomly surfing the web tonight, I did not take long for me to see Michelle's face on the main page of, attached to an article entitled, "Why Michelle Obama's Hair Matters" (written by Jenee Desmond-Harris) - I very much encourage you to read it when you get a moment.

I wouldn't be shocked if I saw this article on (I adore that website) or, but my mouth dropped when I saw that it was the headline story on Why? Well, black hair has never really been a mainstream topic at all. People may refer to it on occasion when talking about Oprah, Tyra Banks, or Beyonce, but for the most part, the discussion has been limited, and for the most part, myopic in scope. Black hair has primarily remained a topic within black media, dissected and deconstructed in every possible way. While I am not upset that mainstream media has not taken it upon themselves to deeply understand the cultural and historical underpinnings of the controversy surrounding different "black hairstyles," I have always secretly desired some sort of basic mass media education on black hair, simply because of the ignorant statements made about black women in the media regarding their hair, in addition to the fact that I have personally been approached by people who were very inquisitive about black hair (how it is maintained, done, etc) and didn't understand it at all.

So I guess Michelle Obama has indirectly become the catalyst for a discussion about black hair in the mainstream media. Chris Rock's new documentary coming out called "Good Hair" (seeYoutube video below) will also contribute more dialogue to the discussion. My only remaining question is - is mainstream media ready to understand black hair? My answer: We shall see!