This is my third time posting end-of-year favorites (2016 part one, 2016, part two, 2017). The lists keep getting shorter and shorter, partially because many of my favorites from previous years carry over into the new ones, and also because I get more and more particular about what I like vs. love with each passing year.

It's time another edition of filter the fluff!

Every now and then, I come across really well-written pieces on the interwebs and get the urge to share. My only criteria is that each article is thought-provoking in some way.

The last quarter of the year was kinda iffy in terms of can't-stop-reading content, but here are a few posts that literally made me want to grab a cup of tea before reading.

Just sharing a few snaps of our 2018 Christmas setup for future memories' sake.

If you're reading this, I hope you had or are having an amazing Christmas. ✨🎄🎊✞

(skip to the bottom of this post for a list of these products and how/why I use them)

Last month, I blogged about how I went 30 days without washing my hair. I understand that it was hardly a groundbreaking achievement, and many women all over the world go much longer without washing their hair (Carla, if you're reading, I need all your tips and tricks, please kthanks), because let's be honest: personal care as we know it is really a first world luxury.

Still, it was probably the longest I had ever gone without a proper wash as an adult*, and it really felt like more of a "hair fast" than anything else. I was fasting from conditioning, moisturizing, smoothing, detangling and all that other stuff we're told to do to ensure the health of our tresses; when I say "we," I'm referring to us an audience for Western-world beauty industry marketing.

*as a kid i'm sure my mom went much longer without washing my hair, because 1) it's alot of work to wash your daughter's hair when you're single and working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and 2) my hair was always in braided ponytails and other "protective styles" which meant it didn't need washing as often.

One of the things I really love about fasting, is that whether you're doing it for religious reasons, spiritual reasons, health reasons or just because, it's a great tool for restructuring and resetting your relationship with the thing/action from which you're fasting. It's an amazing way to re-frame your thinking and give yourself a fresh start in many areas. Personally, I now have a whole new mindset about my hair.

Hair is a hot topic in mainstream media, especially for people of color. It can be political statement. It can be an act of defiance. It can be a form of self expression. It can shape our identity and influence our self esteem. It's rarely just hair when you look at it as a whole, but when I looked at mine in the mirror, that's all it was: just hair. It's natural, yes - no bleach, no chemicals, curly, frizzy and all, but I would never submit to all the natural hair rules out there. I'd straighten it whenever I wanted. I used products with all the "bad" ingredients they tell you to avoid. I combed, yanked and brushed at tangles with little to no care about shedding, breakage or the overall health of my strands. Until last week, I hadn't used a deep conditioner in at least two years. I didn't even have a bottle in my stash.

Then, as I mentioned in this post, I noticed how much thinner it had become, and suddenly I cared. I cared about how much heat I was applying; I cared about the ingredients in my products; I cared about what kind of brush I was using. Also, I bought a deep conditioner. Part of me hates caring so much about something as superficial as the way my hair looks, but the rest of me realizes it also comes down to it's health as well. My hair is part of my body, and if I care about the health of my body (which I do), then it's important to also tend to the health of my hair.

Hair Resolutions

So. I got myself a curly haircut at CurlEnvy Salon in Atlanta, and I've resolved to make a few hair changes:

1) No combing or brushing
This will be the toughest task for me, but I'm resolving to only use my fingers to detangle (in the shower, aided by lots of slippery conditioner) and let go of those laid, slicked back styles for a while.

2) Regular deep conditioning
Every time I wash my hair, I'll add a deep conditioner. Every time.

3) Less protein in my hair diet
My body loves protein, but my hair? It's been overloaded. My old faithful eco styler gel lists hydrolyzed wheat protein as the third ingredient, which means it's pretty heavily loaded with the nutrient. Unfortunately for me, it was too much of a good thing, so I'm stepping back from it next year.

4) Less silicones
Silicones have a terrible reputation in the natural hair community thanks to The Curly Girl Method, made popular in the book Curly Girl by Lorainne Massey. I read the book a few years ago, and I probably still have it on a bookshelf somewhere, but I didn't agree with every detail. Silicones are great for making my hair feel soft and smooth, but they can admittedly build up over time, causing the need for a sulfate-based shampoo cleanse. I grew up getting my hair washed with sulfates and it was always healthy, so I'm not hating on those either, but I'll give the method a chance to see if I notice a difference.

5) Mineral oil 
Mineral oil is pretty much shunned by the makeup and hair care industry, but I guess that just means more for me.
It's one of my favorite ingredients. It's cheap, it's great a locking in moisture, and it washes out super easily. All the women in my family have used vaseline in their hair for decades, and we never experience any issues. I had stopped using it in recent years after getting caught in all the natural hair product hype, but I'm ready to get back to my roots. Pun intended.

Hair Products

Speaking of hair products, I've refined my stash to the items illustrated above.

(From left to right)

Lavender Jamaican Black Castor Oil - I buy the one by Tropic Isle Living and choose the lavender version because it covers up the raw smell of the castor oil. The only two ingredients are JCBO and Lavender oil - no other filler crap. I massage this into my roots a day or two before washing my hair. I also transfer it into this fancier bottle so it looks nicer on my bathroom counter.

Eden BodyWorks Almond Marshmallow Hydration Serum - This stuff is only sold online and in Walmart stores, which means is super hard to find. When I can't get my hands on a bottle (I refuse to pay for shipping), I use the Kinky Curly Knot Today instead. Both products have marshmallow root as one of the main ingredients, and they melt into my hair like butterrrrr. I love them both, but the Eden BodyWorks serum is slightly more affordable.

Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker - This is a one-and-done product for my wash-and-go. After washing my hair, I section it off, apply this stuff, let it dry, and I'm good for the next seven days. It works best when my hair is soaking wet. If I want more volume and a softer hold, I'll pair it with the Eden BodyWorks serum.

DevaCurl Arc Angel Gel - This gel says "no crunch" on the bottle, but it does leave my hair pretty stiff when it dries. It's best on my hair when paired with the Eden BodyWorks Serum or Knot Today.

OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Dry Oil - Once my hair has finished air drying, I spritz it with this oil to add softness and shine. It's the only product I'm using that has silicones on the ingredient list.

Cantu Natural Hair Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream - What a mouthful. I had a bottle of this cream under my bathroom counter for months before I finally gave it a try, and when I did?! My goodness. I had no clue what I was missing. It's another one-and-done product. It doesn't need to be paired with any other creams, serums, gels, or oils. None. I use it all by itself and it's wonderful. (but I do still spritz my hair with the OGX oil after it dries. for added umph.)

ETA: it's very much worth noting that I never thought I'd be using an "activator" on my hair, since it automatically makes me think of a Jheri curl, which automatically makes me think of Coming to America, and if you don't know why, you should really watch Coming to America because it will change your life.

Honerable mention to the Shea Moisture Silicone-Free Miracle Styler. It has my beloved marshmallow root extract and feels great on the hair, but the fragrance is too overpowering for me to use regularly.

Additionally, I'm noticing the cantu cream works well in colder weather. The curl maker and deva curl gel will be my go-to products for spring and summer respectively.

And thus concludes the longest post I never thought I'd write about my hair. I get so many questions about it in real life though, so now I guess I can just direct people here for all the nitty-gritty details.

Today, I:

  • Got half of my Christmas shopping done.
  • Wrapped presents and put them under the tree.
  • Cleaned the house (downstairs, at least).
  • Wrote, addressed, and stamped Christmas cards.
  • Finished a freelance job.
  • Worked out.
  • Made a last-minute vet appointment to get Raven's butt glands checked.

... all after I got off work.

How's that for a productive Monday?
© the active spirit. +