Santa Claus in Dreadlocks: Rachel Isadora’s Textured Children’s Books

Princesses with braids, princes with shaved heads donning Kufi hats, and Santa Claus in dreadlocks: this is the textured world of Rachel Isadora’s children’s books.

During a decade of living in Africa, Rachel Isadora was inspired to create fairytales retold in African settings. She has received the famed Caldecott Honor for her stunning illustrations that bring familiar classics to life in new ways. She doesn’t write children’s books specifically about black hair and black identity like Nappy Hair, I Love My Hair, or An Enchanted Hair Tale. Her multiple retellings of classic fairytales, however, help to address the lack of presence of cultural and racial difference in publications of children’s fairytales. And, my daughter absolutely loves them!

Isadora’s latest undertaking is a timely The Night Before Christmas, a retelling of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Like Isadora’s other books, this Christmas favorite is recast in an African setting and features a slightly darker skinned Santa Claus rocking dreadlocks. The words to the classic Christmas poem remain the same, but the new setting and the refashioned Santa adds a new layer to the old, well-loved poem.

More interested in fairytales? Then check out Isadora’s retelling of The Princess and the Pea. In the story, the Prince greets three princesses in three different African languages: “Selam” (Ethiopia); “Iska Waran” (Somalia); and “Jambo, Habari” (Kenya). These exchanges offer wonderfully subtle lessons in language, geography, and customs.

For a more hair-related story, check out Isadora’s artful retelling of Rapunzel. This version features a dread-locked Rapunzel who, like the original Rapunzel, has incredibly long hair that is strong enough to support a human’s weight (she probably used shea butter! More on that in an upcoming blog).

These books are destined to become classics, much like the stories they creatively and vibrantly recount.

By Nicole L.B. Furlonge

Hot Hat Hair: Stop the Hate!

Seasonal hats are very much a mixed bag for many of us. They keep us warm and cozy but when the wool comes off, make us look … anything but.

The key to success with hats is to work with the style rather than against it. Hats can be super hot, and if we wear our hair in ways that complement the hats on our head, we will amp up the heat, in more ways than one!

We consulted celebrity hairstylist, Philip Pelusi and he shared some tips on how to make the hottest hat styles of the season work.

This is a fairly “manly” style of hat, so it works best with the contrast of a softer style, like loose feminine waves.
Create the Look: This type of hair style works best on medium to longer length hair.  If hair has a natural wave, try curl enhancing products to boost waves and a texturizer, and then let hair dry or dry with a diffuser attachment on your blow dyer.  If hair is straight, use a big barrel curling iron to add curls, some facing towards and some facing away from the face.
Newsboy cap
Newsboy caps are another menswear-inspired look; so again, it’s a great idea to achieve sexy contrast by going very feminine. For this style, Philip recommends a ballerina-esque bun at the nape of your neck. Remember that the cap is usually worn low on the forehead and this tends to cover most of the entire forehead.  Wearing a ballerina bun pulls the hair back off the face opening to face up! Hot.
Create the Look:  Part hair in the center and smooth hair back into a low ponytail at the middle of the nape.  Use a hair-smoothing bore bristle brush and a hair smoothing product.  Apply product to the ponytail also and brush smooth.  Twist ponytail in one direction and wind around ponytail and secure with a few hair pins.  Put on Newsboy and you are ready to go!

A sideswept pony is super hot with a bohemian beret. A beret has a French romantic look and this feminine ponytail really compliments that.  Tuck the hair back into a side pony so that soft strands peek out to make the look extra sexy.
Create the Look: Phillip says this look works best with straight or smooth hair.  Create a side part and use a bore bristle paddle brush and a hair smoothing product and brush into a low side ponytail at the nape on the opposite side of the part.  Secure ponytail and put on Beret.  Remember, the back of the beret should slouch to the opposite side of the ponytail!

By Aly Walansky

Can Vitamins Help Hair Growth?

For the last few months I have been doing research on Vitamin D and recently even purchased a bottle of the Vitamin D supplement at the local Trader Joe’s.  Dr. Oz has claimed that receiving the right amount of Vitamin D is impertative to our overall health.   Did you all know that Vitamin D also helps in hair growth.  Who knew?  This is definitely a miracle vitamin.

Fabulous Holiday Hair With Travel-Proof Styling Tips

With the holiday season less than three weeks away, many of us are getting ready to travel and make our appearance elsewhere. Speaking of appearance, many of us battle with “travel hair”, where despite truly valiant effort, our hair never looks as fabulous as it does when we’re at home with our own products and tools. Tired of relatives and others making comments about your own lackluster hairstyle when you come to visit? Afraid to bring all the wrong hairstyling items again? StyleBell decided to take action on this “situation” and call in an expert. Here, celebrity hairstylist Rodney Cutler gives us his exert advice on how to get fantastic hair on the road:

What are some of the mistakes women make when packing as it pertains to hair care?
People take for granted the impact the right or wrong shampoo can have on your hair: it all starts with the right hair cleanser. Transfer your full-sized shampoo and conditioner into generic 3 oz size containers. Our salon produces a great Cutler Carry-On Kit ($22) that includes travel sizes of our Daily Shampoo, Daily Conditioner, Body Wash, Body Milk, and Face Soap. Also, consider what climate you’re traveling into, i.e. more or less humidity than where you live. Different climates require different styling products. Finally, look at the events you’ll attend and plan the desired looks you want to achieve.

What are your essential do’s or don’ts when it comes to travel-proof hair?
Limit your possessions. For example, if you aren’t sure if you’re going to wear your hair curly or straight, bring one tool that does both like a flat iron that works as a straightener and a curling iron. 
What are the essentials any woman should pack to make her hair look its best when she travels?
A must-have is a bungee cord to pull hair back into a bun or ponytail so you don’t disturb the texture of the hair.
Is there anything a woman can do in advance of traveling that can make doing her hair on the road any easier?
Go easy on finishing products with too much oil, like a shine spray because travel time will lead to your scalp producing oil, which creates greasy hair.  Stick with products with more of a matte finish because. Quick and easy and you’ll be ready for any holiday function with gorgeous hair!

By Kristin Booker

Kitchen Hair: Pressing Combs, Coconut Oil & Black Hair

kitchehair2My kitchen was my first hair salon. I would stand on a step stool and lean over the kitchen sink as my mother washed my long, thick hair until it was squeaky clean. After coating it with a creamy conditioner, she would finger comb through my hair and then rinse it with cool water. Then I would sit under the deafening heat of our tall, pink domed dryer until my mother thought my hair was dry enough to move to step 2: pressing with hot combs.

Now, my mother is old school when it comes to doing hair. She used “hot combs” heated up on our gas stove to press my hair. She’d part my hair, rub my scalp and strands generously with grease – either Sulfur 8 or Dudley or good old coconut oil – and run the well-warmed, fine toothed pressing comb through my hair. My mother would then Shirley Temple curl or “bump” my hair. The result was a well groomed, very shiney and tamed head of hair.

My mother always took special care when she was pressing my “kitchen,” the term used by some to refer to the notorious part of a black woman’s hair, the hardest part to get and keep straight. It was always the part of my hair that curled first in the seven days between washings and pressings despite the care I took to keep my hair dry while bathing or to not “sweat out” my hair while playing. I always wondered why folks call that part of our hairline “the kitchen.” Perhaps it’s because, despite all that was done to tame it, that is where the life of the hair asserts itself most fervently – curly, thick, frizzy, kinky, busy, productive, resistant, unedited, full, like home.

There was a part of me that ached to get out of the kitchen – both my mother’s kitchen and my hair’s kitchen – especially in the summer when my mother and I both knew the curly heat of the season would, without fail, beat out the straightening heat of the combs. But, as I think about these hair rituals in the kitchen, believe it or not, I remember them with nurturing warmth. These were times when I learned, among other things, about my mother’s creative uses of kitchen ingredients. For instance, if you are looking for a deep conditioning treatment, crack an egg. Add the egg to equal parts olive oil and mayo (save your heart and use it on your hair instead!). Apply to hair and massage into scalp. Wash out with shampoo after 30 minutes.
Here’s to healthy hair and lively kitchens!

Written By Nicole L.B. Furlonge

True or False: Massaging Scalp Helps Hair Growth?

This is unfortunately False.  I love scalp massages.  I feel refreshed and invigorated post scalp rub down.  Scalp massages can increase blood flow which is always a good thing, however, if you are looking to activate hair growth scalp massages will not work for you.

True or False: Cutting Hair Makes Hair Grow?

This is completely false.  I wish we could give you a magical remedy to help your hair grow longer, however, cutting the hair more often will not make your hair grow faster.  On average your hair grows about 1/2  inch every  month.

How to Get Hairspray off of Mirrors and More!

mm_thelmabookIf anyone knows me they know I am a Eco-friendly products maniac.  My weekly shopping spree is at the Wholefoods.  So when I heard about the launch of Mrs. Meyer’s (yes there is a real woman behind the brand!) new book, Mrs. Meyers Clean Home: No Nonsense Advice That Will Inspire You to Clean Like the Dickens, I was inspired to read more.  Thelma Meyer was one of the original women to “go-green” and her tips are super budget-friendly which are great during these tight times!
These tips are my favorite and I am sure you will love them! Enjoy!
  • To get Hairspray off of Mirrors: Pour rubbing alcohol on a cloth and clean in small circles.  You can also use a baby wipe if you have them handy.  Then grab club-soda that you’ve put in a spray bottle and give the mirror a spritz, wiping it clean with bunched-up newspaper 
  • Removing Mascara from clothing: Mix a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with two cups cold water, apply the solution to the stain, and then blot until it’s gone