Category Archives: My Hair

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

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!

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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.

There’s a Time and a Place for Taking Risks: My Personal Story of My Evolving Career

This is my "I don't like taking risks" face...
This is my “I don’t like taking risks” face…

As a brand, Mount Gay Rum is interested in learning what makes the modern man tick and today I hope to shed a little light on my experiences as a developing professional in hopes that any of you out there might find some inspiration from my own challenges and triumphs.

To begin, I have to go all the way back to middle school when I was crazy obsessed in the performing arts. Initially, I started off playing percussion in band but made my way to plays and chorus as the years went on, leaving my marching days behind (band geek alert!).  Anyway, I saw all this to tell you that my ambition was to be a shining star on Broadway  or the small screen, even though I was relatively insecure about my developing talent.  There really was no way that I could see myself entering the real world of academia or being the lawyer or doctor that others thought I was smart enough to be.

As I lived for those last school periods to rehearse and perform,  a new course in psychology was being offered on campus and I thought that I may as well give it a try as I was always interested in what made people tick, so to speak.  It also didn’t help that I had also been perpetually obsessed with the films “Psycho” and “Silence of the Lambs” for as long as I could remember, but I digress.

My psychology teacher, and I say this in love, was one of the nuttiest people I had ever met and you know what, I lover her for it.  Her approach was genuine and fluid which fit right in with my more creative and artistic sensibilities.  It was then that I fell in love with psychology.

I found myself more and more interested in the human mind as I entered college and officially declared my major.  I found my undergraduate years to be pretty much a breeze (well, except for a statistics course or two), and I knew that I had chosen the right thing.  But, little did I know that you needed more than a bachelor’s degree if you wanted to delve into the realm of traditional counseling or therapy.  A chance encounter with a staff member at a school I was visiting led me to look into Teachers College in New York City, the place I now call home.

First things first, I had to take a huge risk and relocate to NYC with no contacts except for an on campus job that I was starting.  And trust me, this sort of risk-taking was very foreign to me, but something told me that I was making the right choice, even though inside I was pretty nervous about what lied ahead.

I have a lot of fondness for my education and training at TC and I certainly worked hard for it.   Training to be a psychotherapist is HARD work, and most of it on the emotional end.  There was certainly more than one occasion in which I wanted to quit, but somehow I stayed put and finished my program (pats self on the back).

Today, I work in the mental health field and I can’t really see myself doing anything else. I find myself immersed in my work, obsessed with providing good treatment and services to clients in hopes that I can help someone heal or find strategies to help them get more out of life.

So what has been my personal key to success?  Well, it’s actually one of the things that scares me the most and that’s simply taking risks.  I had to take that first risk to enroll in that psychology course that changed my career trajectory dramatically.  I took the risk to listen to the advice of a stranger which led me to grad school in one of the best counseling programs in the nation.  I took the risk to tough it out when I didn’t think I was able to make it through.  After all that, I came to relish my career with honor and try to serve with integrity.  And in my work I find there is always a time and a place for new opportunities and challenges.  I guess it doesn’t hurt to take risks sometimes, now does it?

Mount-Gay_Logo_100x100

Every great story begins with a time and a place. For Mount Gay Rum, that time is 1703 and that place is Barbados, the birthplace of rum. Introducing Mount Gay Black Barrel, a double matured rum from the inventors of rum. First matured in toasted whiskey barrels then finished in deeply charred bourbon barrels, Mount Gay Black Barrel balances full-bodied character with subtle aromas. Learn more at www.facebook.com/mountgayrum

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Mount Gay Distilleries via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mount Gay Distilleries.

The Many Uses of Shea Butter

Shea_Butter_Cream_thumbnail

Shea butter, oh shea butter.  For many years of my life, the wonders of natural shea butter have alluded me but now that I have experienced what awesome an ingredient shea is, I have become a little obsessed.

Do you remember in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding how windex was the go-to fix for pretty much everything? Well, that’s basically what shea butter has become for me.  I now have a pretty hefty supply, thanks in part, to Abe of Love Shea who passed on his newly launched shea butter mix for me to try.

Let me say that Love Shea’s Shea Butter Cream is pretty solid.  The formula is basic, super creamy and works for pretty much anything.  The scent is also light and inoffensive which makes it great for guys and girls as well as all these other cool things in the list below.  Having it around the house has helped me indulge in my shea butter-takeover and inspired me to create this list of the many uses of shea.  Have you tried any of these?

  1. Daily lotion
  2. Face moisturizer
  3. After shave
  4. Got a small nick when shaving?  Use a dab to help clot the cut.
  5. Cuticle oil to help smooth dry nail beds
  6. Creaky door? Use shea in place of WD40!
  7. Hair styling pomade
  8. Dress shoe polish
  9. Lip balm
  10. Wood furniture polish
  11. Beard/grooming mold to help facial hair stay in place
  12. Pre-shave treatment
  13. Foot cream for cracked/dry skin
  14. Stretch mark cream
  15. Nightly under eye cream
  16. After sun skin treatment

And as a bonus, if you want to give Love Shea’s Shea Butter Cream a shot for yourself, head over to their site and purchase using the discount code MANEMAN. You’ll get 10% off of your order and you’ll be supporting a new business. Not too shabby, eh?

What uses would you add to the list? WEIGH IN!

The Question I Hate Most

Almost everyone knows that women in the natural hair community are, in a sense, fighting an uphill battle for acceptance of their hair.  While mainstream media has certainly made strides in showcasing natural hairstyles, there’s still a lot of work to be done, even for guys with naturally curly hair.  And, unfortunately, I am personally familiar with a lack of acceptance for my fro.  So, what’s the question I hate most?

“What are you going to do with your hair?”

Often times, I’m not quite sure how to respond to that question, and I have lost count how many times I’ve been asked it over the past few years.  I’ve heard every form of that question like, “When are you going to braid it?” or “Are you trying to grow locs?”  But while I’m able to keep my composure on the outside (at least I think so), my internal monologue says something like, “Oh, my hair isn’t “done” enough for you?!”

I take great pride in my mane and how I take care of it.  Psychologically, I’ve gotten over the need for it to look perfectly defined and have started to embrace the “messiness” that is my fro.  Unfortunately, there’s still this expectation that my fro, as it stands, is not a complete or good look.  But at the end of the day, I’m happy with it and I guess that’s what matters most, right?