Robin Robinson blog: For all my curlfriends! - New York News

Robin Robinson blog: For all my curlfriends!

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

I understand why some of you straight-haired folk out there who wonder why this is even a topic of conversation.

SEE: (UN)just Hair: Can we be fit and fashionable at the same time?

What you take for granted (or maybe even wish would show a little 'bend' of its own!), many people work hard to replicate. This is a lifestyle story, but it is also a public health issue and a question of fairness. People trying to keep their curly hair straight because it is considered more professional, attractive, etc., cannot take a lunchtime cardio class because it could take over an hour of hair-work afterwards to restore the style, if it could even be done without professional help. And even if you have a hairdresser in your pocket, your hair would fall right off if it was subjected to serious heat restyling after every workout!

So who decides sleek styles are better? Long, straight hair is sexy? That curls are for children and not professionals? Maybe the influence comes from the industry making billions off our addiction to the salons and products. Even straight haired people can't easily achieve the standard of beauty put forth in the images we are constantly bombarded with, but people with textured hair spend an average of 3 times more on their hair. African Americans are by far the biggest investors in haircare products, tools and services. Can we or should we broaden our definition of 'good looking'? How would we do that?

I am certainly not an expert, but I have received more questions about my hair in my 30+ years on television that any other single subject. I've often thought we have an obsession with hair. It is the precious substance of the original crown!

While a few people have called for the First Lady to role model an exercise friendly hair style every now and then, it is not a judgement against her if she doesn't. HOW you wear your hair is strictly a matter of personal preference. Hopefully it won't be the reason WHY we don't exercise regularly.

While working on this story, I heard a lot of interesting strategies for getting sweaty without destroying your hair. They do not all involve wearing your hair in a more natural style. in weave because you can use all the heat you need to after working out! This only works, according to the pros, if you use the best hair, the correct removal techniques and give your natural hair a break from the weave for a few weeks every 3 months or so. This is a very expensive route, with a top-notch, full sew-in of high quality hair costing upwards of a thousand dollars. A similar, but far less expensive trick is to just pop on a good wig after your work out. Whatever keeps you moving while preserving the health of your hair and scalp is a winner!

If you would consider changing your hairstyle (at least occasionally) to something that can withstand a good sweat -- something that takes advantage of your natural curls, there are lots of new ideas out there. Just "wash and go" is not something most of us are ready for. As one sister put it on the Fox 32 Facebook page, "I bet she (me) ain't gonna go nappy and be happy"! Actually, my hair won't go "nappy" anymore. I had a nice thick 'fro as a teen, but all the years of straightening it and just plain ole old age has seen the texture go from medium-tight to medium-loose on the curly scale.

So, there is usually some "doing" even if you're wearing your 'natural' curls. I have had the Strawlers set done at Aje's Salon (and done by my daughter at home with regular old drinking straws) and it was a serious process which took several hours. (see photo) The advantage is that a little sweat will not turn you into Don King, in fact the style looked better after I worked out and loosened up the curl a bit. I also spent very little time on daily maintenance after the initial styling. The style I got for this report is much simpler -- closer to a 'natural'. Jessie Besic at Salon Blonde has been dying to get me natural for years! A good wash and conditioning was followed by Kevin Murphy curl enhancing products which she combed through to distribute evenly. Then she just started scrunching with her whole hand (kinda heavy handed down to the scalp, actually!). As the hair got more dry, she used product and focused on individual chunks to twist into more defined corkscrews, while creating the overall shape. Finally, she put me under a big hair drier which didn't blow hard (at home you would use a diffuser on your blow dryer). After the dryer, she separated the corkscrew chunks into smaller pieces and pulled some down onto my forehead on one side only as she patted and pulled the whole thing into the desired shape. This all took about 45 minutes ... but I worked out that same afternoon and so did the hair!

Here's a great website with a zillion curly styles. And there is an entire curly community out in cyberspace! Who knew? One of the biggest names in all things curly happens to be based right here in Chicago. Check out Afrobella.com for great advice on products and styles.

And, if you Google "curly", the first thing to come up is "Curly Nikki" -- check out this cyber queen of the NATURALISTA movement.

One of the most difficult decisions for many Black women to make is to grow out of a chemical relaxer. I'm sure not saying you have to do that, but if you are considering it, you should take advantage of all the advice and experience of those who took the leap before you!

Good luck with your ALL GOOD hair!

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