Category Archives: My Hair

From product reviews to joys and frustrations, this category is all about my hair.

Back to Basics: Hair Care 101

conditioner bottles

From time to time I get asked how I take care of my hair so well and whenever I do it’s always a huge compliment! I’m always very grateful to hear people think that I have great hair. There was a time when I didn’t think my hair was so great, especially when I grew out my fro for the first time. It’s been a challenge for me to get used to all the attention (both positive and negative) and it’s been a growing process overall.

Today I want to share with you how I actually do take care of my hair. You’ll see some of the same steps on my hair care regimen at the link on the top right-hand corner of the page, but today I just want to give you a little bit more insight into my process and how you can take good care of your hair so that you are always looking your best.

First off, let me start by saying that one term that you’ll hear about in hair care, and black hair care in particular, is wash day. “Wash day” is exacty how it sounds; it’s the day of the week that you wash your hair.  Yes, I know that sounds disgusting at first, but the truth is that no matter your hair type you really shouldn’t be shampooing your hair more than a couple of times per week, barring any special scalp conditions.  Washing your hair more often with traditional shampoos can rid your hair of it natural oils and moisture.  This can leave you with chronically dull and dry hair. But because we have to use shampoo from time to time, there are some easy ways to minimize it’s effects.

First, only use a sulfate shampoo when you feel your hair is especially dull and gunky.  Sulfates have been found to dry out your hair and scalp and can cause irritation. And for those of you with sensitive or scalps, you might want to try and avoid altogether.  I like conditioning washes like MITCH Double Hitter as they don’t dry out my hair or scalp but make sure I feel clean.  This particular option also helps detangle my strands which is helpful when you have kinky or coily hair.

So now you magically find yourself on wash day…what comes next? It’s time to condition!

There are a lot of conditioning options out there but there are three basic types you should know about for the second part of your hair care routine.  They are rinse-out conditioner, leave in conditioner and deep conditioner.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the three types:

Rinse out conditioner: this is your typical conditioner that you can find in most drug stores or in your local grocery store. After washing your hair you apply a rinse out conditioner for a few minutes, usually about 3 to 5 minutes, and then you rinse it out completely.  It’s usually best to do this with cold water.

Personal recommendation: TRESemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. You can read my review at this link.

Leave in conditioner: leave in conditioner is just how it sounds. This type of conditioner is usually applied after you rinse out the conditioner and it’s meant to be left in your hair before your styling product.  The amount you should use varies on your hair length and texture.  For my currently cropped mane I use about a nickel to quarter sized amount.

Personal recommendation: Kinky Curly Knot Today.  My hair LOVES this stuff and its one of the best on the market, in my opinion. See more information at this link.

Deep conditioner/hair mask: this type of conditioner comes in the form of many different names. It’s often referred to as a deep conditioning mask, a hair mask/masque or something else. Usually this type of conditioner requires that you leave it on your hair for more than 10 minutes and sometimes you get the best results by using heat as well. If you ever get treated in a salon, they’ll often put you under a hooded dryer for this part.

Personal recommendation: Pantene Pro V Intensive Restoration Treatment.  Read my review at this link

I should say that this sounds like a lot but I don’t typically use all of these products at every wash. I usually wash 2-3 times per week to remove product gunk and cleanse my scalp which is prone to buildup.   Usually, I only deep condition about once a week on the infamous “wash day” and while I do use shampoo on other days I don’t go through the whole shebang as it were.

So in essence wash day looks like this:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Deep condition
  3. Leave in conditioner
  4. Gel or cream based styler
  5. Use pomade once hair is dry

While non-wash days look like this:

  1. Rinse out conditioner
  2. Leave in conditioner
  3. Gel or cream based styler
  4. Use pomade once hair is dry

So there you have it! There are my not-so secret tips to keeping “good” hair. Don’t forget to check out my hair care regimen for more insight into my process.

Product Review: Wen Men Hair & Body Cleansing Conditioner

By now, most of us have seen those late night infomercials of hairstylist Chaz Dean (with his luscious locks) showing off how wonderful his products are for women of every hair type.  Well, now he’s branched out and launched Wen Men!

Launched in September 2014, Wen Men is a hair and boy cleansing conditioner meant to be men’s version of the ultimate all-in-one product.  The product is infused bamboo, amber, and ginger root to offer a gender neutral scent that can be used from head to toe.

Now, we’ve all seen Dean’s infomercials at least once (if not more), and if you’re like me you’ve been a little skeptical about Wen’s ability to provide cleansing and conditioner properties to kinky-textured hair.  Mainly because their model with “coarse hair” has hair like this:

wen coarse hair

 

Seeing this woman’s somewhat loosely coiled hair didn’t leave me, and I’m sure many others, with a  lot of confidence that Wen was a good fit for afro-textured hair.  If you thought so, then you may find yourself increasingly surprised by this review.

Full disclosure, I have never used Wen hair care products before this review and obviously came in with all of my prejudices about who likely it Wen Men was going to work for thick and densely coiled hair such as mine.  Well, it did!

For me, Wen Men quickly became what the natural hair community likes to call a “holy grail” product.  The ingredients list is filled with natural extracts and oils which makes it an especially ideal cleanser for the colder and drier months.

wen men 2

 

The directions on the massive 32 oz. salon quality bottle encourage a minimum of six pumps for short hair (8 for medium and 10 for long) and I pretty much followed those to a t.  When I first tried Wen Men, I had a medium-sized afro and used about 8 pumps which was more than enough.  Luckily for you, I also got a pretty good trim recently and tried with the standard “short” 6 pump amount and found it equally as impressive. And yes, trust me I have super coily, kinky hair and Wen Men slid through my strands like Nancy Kerrigan at the ’94 Olympics.

 

The formula is creamy and luxurious, which is what you might expect from a 32 oz. bottle that retails for $72.  No, it’s not cheap, but man is this stuff good.  The formulation of oils and extracts helps make Wen Men one of the easiest to distribute products I’ve used since I started rocking a fro years ago.  Within a minute or so after application, the product melted into my 4b-ish type hair and it became incredibly easy to finger detangle.  As this is an all-in-one sort of product, I also took the step to “shampoo” my scalp a bit.  To my surprise, Wen Men cleanses AND moisturizes very well.  And trust me, that’s not something you usually get from products that claim to do it all.  This one actually does deliver on its promise!

My one big negative about Wen Men is its ability to be used as a skin cleanser.  Because there’s no real lather factor, I found it hard to take the product seriously as a good “soap”.  The consistency is so thick and lotion-like it’s hard to imagine that it actually cleanses skin. I know that doesn’t make much sense given how I raved how it cleansed my scalp (which IS skin), but I guess I just still expect tons of suds and bubbles from my body washes and hand soaps.  So as a body cleanser, I can’t say that I truly value Wen Men in that way, even though it smells pretty damn good.

Overall, I have to say that I am incredibly surprised by how well Wen Men works.  It just goes to show you how making snap judgments about products (and people) can often be a terribly inaccurate slippery slope. Truth be told, once I run out of Wen Men, I’m going to be incredibly sad and I might even seriously consider making it my go-to hair care all-in-one product.  At this point, it certainly seems worth it.

For more information and to order Wen Men visit ChazDean.com.

 

Disclosure: A complimentary sample of Wen Men was provided for the sole purpose of this review. The opinions listed herein are mine, and mine alone and have not been unduly influenced by any third party.

How Do You Winterize Your Skin?

Skin drier than the Sahara (PS this is not the Sahara)
Skin drier than the Sahara (PS this is not the Sahara)

Let’s face it, we’ve only barely crept into fall and I’m already having difficulty keeping my skin moisturized. Five seconds after washing my hands (which I tend to do pretty regularly) and it looks like I’m covered in flour trying to make some apple pie dough or something. What’s up with that?

I realize that part of the problem is the significant drop in humidity over the past few weeks. I admit, I have a love-hate relationship with high humidity because it makes my fro huge and fluffy, but it also makes me feel like I’m sweating 24/7.  Does anyone actually like that feeling?

The other part of my problem, I’m now realizing as I write this, is that when I re-upped on body lotion I opted for some thin Suave lotion instead of some thick shea or cocoa butter based lotion. So my skin isn’t getting all those super fatty oils that it’s used to when the atmosphere dries up like crocodile skin.

Thankfully, it’s only October but with my hands already suffering, I’m nervous as to how bitter this cold season is going to be.  Do you all have any tips to share about how you winterize your skin?  If so, share them in the comments section below!

 

Dealing with Natural Hair Hate

dry afro hair

I recently came across a post on Curly Nikki where a young woman talked  about how people’s hate of her natural hair actually energized her on her journey of returning to her natural hair state. I found it pretty interesting and started to reflect on my own experience of dealing with “natural hair hate” so I thought I’d weigh in a little bit.  Note, the post below may consist of incoherent rambling at times.

First off, let me say that as a culture we are so quick to throw out the term “hater”.  A “hater” isn’t someone who just doesn’t like what you do/how you look.  In my opinion, a “hater” is someone who has nothing constructive or remotely ambivalent to offer you.  A natural hair “hater” won’t comment on how healthy your hair looks.  They won’t say how well maintained or style your hair is.  They simply just won’t have anything positive to offer even if the style isn’t for them. For instance, the man who once yelled “Ewwwww!” at my growing fro (unsolicited I might add)  is probably just a hater.  Whereas someone who engages me in a conversation about my hair and says they don’t prefer it is simply just offering an opinion.  See the difference?

That being said, I’ve run into my share of negative comments, stares and interactions at my hair because my hair didn’t look “how it was supposed to”.  After giving up my decades long love/hate affair with dark Caesars, the fro made me stand out and people definitely took notice.  Truth is, I kind of liked that.  I liked feeling like I was doing something not everyone was doing.  It was nice to know that I didn’t look like a carbon copy of everyone else.

But standing out comes with , well…standing out.  I got a lot of negativity from people thinking my hair looked fake or was even a wig/weave (no, I’m not joking) to people policing my gender and questioning my masculinity because I had a growing fro that I took/take VERY good care of.  At times, it seems like some people want guys to look ragged because in some way that shows that we’re “manly men” who aren’t into that feminine stuff.

But for me, I’m not that guy.  I’m not that guy to be overly concerned with other’s perceptions of me.  But I wasn’t always that way. Actually, the fro helped me cement that lesson and put it into daily practice.  Even now that my hair is much shorter, I occasionally get looks from people, but hey maybe that’s because they just like my face (or don’t!).  Either way, I remind myself just to keep it moving because there’s noting like looking in the mirror at the end of the day and thinking, “I’m good with who I am.”  Trust me, you should try it sometime.

Spring Hair and loving BBraxton

Every year, like everyone else, I tend to do a little Spring cleaning but mine usually comes in the form of a haircut.  As the weather gets a little warmer and the humidity increases each day, I just can’t tolerate a huge fro in the heat.  I’m still convinced that wearing a fro makes me feel five degrees hotter than everyone else, but who knows really.

So a little over a week ago, I posted this gem on Instagram:

Like I’m always on the hunt for the “perfect” grooming products, I’m also looking for the perfect barber shop or salon to call home. After living in NYC for several years, I still haven’t found a place that I feel super comfortable in.  I hate to say this, but barbershops aren’t always the most comfortable environments because conversations tend to turn very graphic and unprofessional pretty quickly so that usually disrupts my peaceful grooming time.

BBraxton: Exceptional Grooming. For Exceptional Men.
BBraxton: Exceptional Grooming. For Exceptional Men.

Well, for my latest cut I finally made my way to BBraxton in East Harlem and was not disappointed.  It’s a great, professional, super clean environment with very professional barbers and stylists.  And, it only costs a few bucks more which is well worth it for the atmosphere.  It’s nice to see someone taking men’s grooming seriously.  The downside is I literally got into the shop days before it was going out of business. The shop closed at the end of April 2014 but when I spoke to the owner Brenda Braxton briefly  it was clear that she’s committed to finding a new location for BBraxton which I would gladly patronize.  She’s a  lovely woman and was nothing but courteous, warm and professional. Plus, the music was great too!

Hopefully it won’t be too long before BBraxton is up and running in a new spot.  I would definitely like to take advantage of some of their other services (massages, manicures, etc.) and introduce some of my friends to the shop too.  Only time will tell, but I will be keeping up with BBraxton on Twitter and Instagram in the meantime.

My Updated Regimen (Winter 2014)

Any time the weather changes, it’s important to re-evaluate your hair care and skin care needs.  Since the winter is now firmly upon us, I’ve made some slight suggestions to my regular regimen that I usually use during the spring and summer months.

There you have it! That’s my Winter 2014 regiment (so far).  I’m sure as the season continues to change some of these products will get placed on the shelf while I try out newer products.

How have you changed your regimen for the winter? How do you maintain healthy, moisturized hair when the weather is so dry and cold?

Happy 2nd Blogaversary!

Hi friends! Today marks a special day in MANE MAN, it’s my two-year blogaversary!  It’s hard to imagine that only two years ago I started MANE MAN thinking 1.) no one would read it and 2.) that it would only last a few months.  I’m happy to see that it’s been a fulfilling two years with you all. I hope to continue sharing things with you and I hope you continue reading. Here are two things I’ve learned since starting MANE MAN:

1. Time management is a VERY important skill.  Blogging, along with working a full-time job, is tough but with good organizational and time management skills I am proud of the work I’ve done over the last year (both the quality and quantity). I hope that this next year is even better and chock full of posts you all like to read and comment on.

2. You guys are EVERYTHING! Seriously, maintaining a web site is no easy feat and it can be time-consuming and stressful at times.  There have definitely been times when I just wanted to take a break from it all as life was getting in the way, but it’s always nice to know that there are all of you out there interested in what I have to say and offer.  That makes the long nights (and dry eyes from staring at my computer screen for way too long) all worth it.  I can’t say thank you enough!

 

thank-you

Size DOES Matter

It’s an age-old question, does size really matter? Well, when it comes to fashion it certainly does.  But the key to looking your best often rests in knowing the numbers and how your favorite stores might be sizing you up in a really bad way.

Recently, I was fitted for a tux as I’m gearing up for a friend’s wedding and imagine my surprise when I tried on a jacket that was a couple of sizes smaller than my favorite blazer from H&M! Well, it turns out there’s this little concept called “vanity sizing” that has affected women for decades and has obviously spread to the men’s aisles.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about vanity sizing:

Vanity sizing, also known as size inflation refers to the phenomenon of ready-to-wear clothing of the same nominal size becoming bigger in physical size over time.

Basically, a true size 32 waist in, let’s say, 1950 likely now measures 34 or 36 inches in true circumference depending on the brand. That’s a big difference!  If you have found yourself wearing different sizes at your favorite big box stores (think Gap, H&M, Old Navy) then you’ve definitely fallen prey to vanity sizing. But make no mistake, vanity sizing is a problem among even the flashiest of brands too.

Image source: The Style Blog by Abram Sauer for Esquire
Image source: The Style Blog by Abram Sauer for Esquire

The good news is that it doesn’t matter all that much as long you pick clothing that actually fits for each respective store.  Trust me, women have been dealing with this for a while now.  But, some of you, like myself, may find it helpful to actually get measured (or measure yourself) from time to time so you know your true size.

There are some brands who demonstrate modest changes in true size while others flat-out lie by turning your true 40 inch waist into size 36 pants.  But in the end, it is key to always shop smart and know your true measurements. Who knows, it may even help keep your self-esteem from taking a deep plunge.

 

A Little Curl Care at Ouidad NYC: A Guy’s Perspective

Ouidad NYC salon reception area
Ouidad NYC salon reception area

*Disclosure: This featured experience has been sponsored by Ouidad.

I can’t say that I’ve searched long and hard for that perfect hair stylist as a curly guy but I was lucky enough to head into the Ouidad salon in NYC recently for so much-needed mane tlc.

I arrived about ten minutes early and was greeted by very friendly workers at reception. A pleasantly chatty red-haired woman took my information and told me that my stylist Ayanna would be right with me. So I sipped on my lemon water for a few minutes, then a few more, then a few more before Ayanna was free to begin our work together. I was hopeful that my initial wait time was not a reflection of Ayanna’s professionalism and later found out that her past few appointments had arrived late.  A pleasant woman with long braids, Ayanna did a quick assessment of my hair and passed me onto her assistant for a quick shampoo. And yes, guys, at salons even the stylists have assistants. Pretty dope. Can I get one of those?!

What came next has to be one of my favorite parts of my experience with Ouidad: THE SHAMPOO. No, not the actual product itself but the act of having someone else shampoo your hair is nothing short of a pretty magical experience. If there would be any one reason to go to a salon for a cut, it might be the shampoo. To be honest, it really is the perfect way to cap off a stressful week at work.  Now I know why women always flock to salons for a little r&r.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my hair before I got into the chair. I had actually given it very little thought and hoped that a nice trim would do me well (it was about time for a trim anyway). I told Ayanna what I was thinking and nonchalantly said something along the lines of, “you can play with the shape a little bit if you’d like”. In my head I was screaming, PLEASE DON’T TAKE MY FRO AWAY!”

In the chair waiting for my cut!
In the chair waiting for my cut!

Ayanna was a true professional. She took her time on my cut, chatted me up about natural hair and its effect on her life and mine and it turned out to be a great time. She has a great attitude and I’d be happy to sit in her chair any day. We also discussed the products she wanted to use on my mane and she educated me on the right way to use the products on my own. Major bonus points there. It should be noted that she cut my hair in its naturally curly state unlike another major salon I tried a while back. Also, she detangled my hair with the Ouidad Double Detangler which should probably be used by anyone with thick, curly hair.  That thing is a beast!

Before and after the cut.
Before and after the cut.

The cut itself came out great. Even though Ayanna thought my original fro shaped my face nicely, she took up the sides a bit and kept the top a little longer. I was pleasantly surprised! I even joked with Ayanna during the cut, telling her that she was some sort of curl surgeon. I was amazed at her precision and obvious breadth of knowledge. Clearly Ouidad knows a good stylist when they see one.  I then left Ouidad with a great bag of goodies in tow feeling pretty good about myself and feeling pleasantly surprised by how great my cut turned out.

Overall, I had a great experience at Ouidad and would consider going back for some curl care whenever I need it. The only real negative to my experience happened the day after when the Curl Quencher Moisturizing Styling Gel flaked like crazy! I have used the product since then and haven’t had the same issues so maybe it was just a fluke.  But, all in all, my personal experience at Ouidad was a much-needed departure from daily routine and proved to be a great refuge for both curly girls and guys alike.

Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair Book Launch Recap!

I’m very excited to tell you guys about a book that I’ve been waiting a very long time for. This past weekend I was honored to attend the Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair book launch party at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn.

I’ve personally anticipated the release of this volume for about a year now and I’m happy to see that photographer Michael July was able to publish such a wonderful display of people and hair that we all love so much. Kudos to everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that helped this project come to fruition.

The event itself was great and quickly filled up with fros and natural hair of many different varieties. I can’t tell you how special it is to see a room packed with beautiful natural hair…I got chills!  DJ Spinna provided the tunes while Smart Water, Palm Breweries and Bed-Vyne provided beverages to attendees. Luckily for me, I also scored a gift bag which was sponsored by Ouidad, Eden Body Works, and Karen’s Body Beautiful. All in all, it was a great time!

Books were sold at the event (got mine!) and is available for purchase at certain book stores. For more information visit the Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair Facebook page.  And do yourself a favor and have this mega-volume of fros as a part of your home’s decor. It’s great!

group1
A shot of the fly hair and great Powerhouse Arena decor.
maneman with book
Me with my own copy!
michael july signing book
Photographer Michael July signing my book.
signed book
My own signed copy of Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair.