Tag Archives: fro

Fro Frustrations: Say That 5 Times Fast

MANE MAN is all about celebrating grooming and how grooming can be a great way for us to take of ourselves. Obviously, I spend a lot of time writing about all the products I get to try.  But today, I need to rant.


And no, this isn’t a humble brag.  Seriously. I know that many of you are hoping and trying for growth. But, I’m annoyed (at the moment) that my hair grows so quickly.

Here’s what’s annoying about that…I got a haircut just a few weeks go. It was a sizable chop but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was a “big chop”. As always, I felt a bit uncomfortable the first few days after as I thought it was a little too short. Fast forward to a few weeks later and it feels too big/too long already. WHY!?

This is annoying because, for me, getting a haircut is annoying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my stylist at all. She’s great. But, hair cuts take so much time. First, I have to be mindful enough to schedule the appointment. And with my schedule, things tend to be all over the place and varied. By the time I take a moment to sit down and think about life, I often find that I’ve forgotten to do something that is pretty essential. The haircut, by default, gets pushed back.

Then, there is the actual appointment itself. I can’t go in and be out in 20 minutes. I wish I could. It takes that long just to pick out my hair for the cut itself.  Then, I’m in the chair…usually feeling pretty warm (because I ALWAYS am) and thus, near to falling asleep in the chair. I feel a little rude because I don’t talk more, but then the silence also makes me comfortable and sleepy. I know, so many non-problem, problems.

I realize this is not a real problem to have. I’m fortunate to have thick hair that grows quickly. I realize that my hair is pretty healthy.

But, can’t it just slow down a little bit?


What are your fro frustrations or biggest hair annoyances? Let’s continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Join the Gro Yo Fro Movement!

If there’s one thing that I learned since starting MANE MAN back in 2011 it was that there is an incredible community of bloggers, and most specifically, natural hair aficionados out there…including more guys!  I was e-introduced to Marcel of GroYoFro.com after searching the web for many like-minded guys and Marcel is a great addition the community.

Gro Yo Fro is all about guys (and gals) embracing their natural hair which is something that I also have a huge passion for.  The site hosts Marcel’s blog as well as a shop of Gro Yo Fro gear in a range of styles.  I’m always happy to support anyone who shares my ideals and embraces curly hair so feel free to head over to Gro Yo Fro and check out his apparel.  Maybe you can sport your own Gro Yo Fro tee just like me (thanks Marcel!).


The Duck & Swipe

I had a great time with friends this weekend which included a delicious (and hearty) meal at Spring, a new natural vegetarian friendly restaurant on the UWS (side note: be sure to try out the plum cacao baby back ribs appetizer…very interesting!).   Afterwards, drinks were had and there was plenty of dancing.  A good time was had by all!  Hell, even a few dances were created such as the “Sticky Floor Dance” and what I like to call “the Duck & Swipe”.  I’ll explain.

So, there I was having a good time with friends and there came a lumberjack/bear of a man who was making a bee line towards me. For real, I was scared y’all.  So, he gets closer and asks, “IS YOUR HAIR REAL?!” At the same time, he had his wooly mammoth bear paw outstretched to go in for the kill.  There was no, “Can I touch your hair?” Nothing.  And that’s when I realized I had perfected my fro-tastic fail proof plan for ignorant boundary pushers… “the Duck & Swipe”. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Identify the ignorant.  Keep tabs on lurkers around your area and people who lock eyes on your mane.  Try not to be TOO hypervigilant though. You don’t want to ruin your fun.

Step 2: Watch the approach and time your duck perfectly.  Be sure to bend your knees for taller offenders and always duck in the direction opposite of their approach.  This is very important.

Step 3: While in mid-duck,  you already should have started your arm swipe to fend off any predators.  In my experience, if you wait to swipe after you’ve said “No!” it will probably be too late.  The timing takes practice.

Step 4: Practice, practice, practice.  After a few failed attempts you will become a pro in no time and be able to fend off any fro-hungry zombie no matter where you are.  It also helps to have good friends who aren’t afraid to swat away when a random sneaks up on you.  Good luck, it’s rough out there!

It looks a little something like this. Accessories are entirely optional.

Nice Blow Out!

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had someone come up to me and say, “Nice blow out!” After I wipe the confusion from my face I usually respond like this, “…Thanks.”  Then I think to myself, what is a blow out?  Isn’t it just hair that’s blow dried straight? I doubted myself so naturally I went online and ultimately ended up at the only place appropriate for this sort of thing… Urban Dictionary defines a blow out as:

A hairstyle worn mainly by young Italian-American men. Sideburns and the nape of the neck start at a “1” and gradient speedily up to a full-blown Italian-American Afro. Hair is gelled into a spikey-look and pulled from the head to maximize height and width.

So, a blow out is a hairstyle a la Pauly D from the Jersey Shore…

 Which apparently is the same as this:

my hair
The fro.

Did I miss something?

Dreadsock Review: The Good and the Bad

Source: Clutcmagonline.com
Dreadsock, "Shortie" (Black)

One of the things that I’ve tried to incorporate into my night routine is wearing some sort of cap or hood.  I’ve read through many natural hair sites that it’s beneficial to use a satin cap, pillowcase or head scarf to retain moisture for your hair.  Sure enough, whenever I sleep with a cap I find that my hair tangles less and retains moisture which really helps when I need to detangle. It may be something you should try out for yourself.  On my search for the perfect cap, I came across Dreadsock and wanted to share my experience with all of you.

The Good: Unfortunately, there is not much to write here except to say that when the Dreadsock arrived I immediately recognized the quality of the material. It’s smooth to the touch and sort of sleek just like my pillowcase.  When I wear it, I notice that it does help me retain moisture overnight.  Not too bad.

The Bad: First off,  a few days after receiving my confirmation I received an email from Customer Service letting me know that my selected color was out of stock. Yes it was terribly annoying that I was allowed to purchase an out of stock item, but not a huge problem, right?   I thought, “I’ll wait for the black shipment to arrive”.  Cool.  About two weeks later after I reached out to customer service, I received notice that their shipment would be delayed about three more weeks.  OK, REALLY?  Again, I waited patiently.  Then it was about three weeks later when I received an email message from customer service stating that there was a problem with the quality of their recent shipment of black shorties. “It could be later November…” they said.  I had enough. I replied, “Send me a different color you have in stock, please.”  I received an olive shortie in the mail about  a week later.

The sock is made of good quality and since I don’t have dreads, I ordered the “Shortie” which is supposedly good for all hair lengths.  I found the sock to be too tight on my fro. The material is good but the delivery issues completely tainted my experience with the product.  Unfortunately, other people have had issues too.  Check out their review on the Better Business Bureau site here.

So for now it looks like I’ll continue to rely on my stretched out Sue Maesta Hood from Ricky’s until something else comes along.

Any suggestions?

The Politics of Natural Hair

Recently I came across a posting on Curly Nikki’s site that asked the question, “Does Natural Hair Make You Blacker?” If you are a Black American then more than likely you have explored this question or even had a discussion about it with friends. So does natural hair make you Blacker? In  my opinion…yes and no.

For some, the process of growing out ones hair can be a very intimate and political experience. I have mentioned this before but for me personally, this is/was true. Growing out my fro is close to me because when I was younger I often received a variety of reactions to my hair, much of which was aligned with how others interpreted my bi-racial identity as a problem (ironically, my hair was almost exclusively in a low-cut, Cesar style).  I grew up in an area with a very “Black or White” mentality and way of thinking.   My hair was heralded as “good” compared to some of my other Black peers. This was often an uncomfortable experience for me because while a part of me appreciated the positive attention, there was another part of me who felt disconnected from the other Black kids at my school and in my community. I thought I, nor my hair, was any better than anyone else and it took me a while to understand how those reactions actually said more about my peers felt about themselves than about me.

Needless to say, now I know that people have different interpretations of what it means to act or “be Black” and I have come to accept my own personal definition of my “Blackness” and I do my best to not oppress others by expecting them to ascribe to my beliefs.  That being said, “being Black” does refer to a set of stereotypes, both good and bad which sometimes I embrace and sometimes I reject.  I think that is an important part of seeing yourself as both an individual and a part of any collective group.  For me, having an afro does offer me a connection to my heritage as a Black person, most specifically a Black American.  Does it make me Black, absolutely not.  Does being Black make me any less Puerto Rican? Not to me! Does having an afro make me militant and anti-White? Not a chance.

When I decided to grow out my hair, it was empowering for me on several levels. To start, it was a way to both accept and reject the notion of having so-called “good hair”. Showing my fro proudly is a way to embrace my racial identity not only as Black man but more generally as a man of color with an eclectic heritage. For me, the variety of my hair strands and patterns is a nod to my roots in both Africa and Puerto Rico and I am as proud as ever to show that. *peacock strut*

Rocking a fro daily is also a way for me to reject some of those gendered norms set for men (of color). Only with more confidence in my identity am I able to sport my fro and deal with the perceptions from others about my loose natural hair. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked, and very pointedly I might add, “What are you gonna do with it? When are you gonna braid it? Corn rows? Dreads?”  The point I’m trying to make is that people will always make assumptions.  We all do.  That is what people do.

To tackle the question, “Does natural hair make you Blacker?” is an insurmountable task.  I don’t really think there is any way to fully unpack what “Blackness” really does mean.  Maybe it has very little meaning for our day-to-day lives, I don’t know.  Like many of you out there know, the definition varies from person to person BUT (and that is a big BUT), when you think of what it means to be Black you usually think of stereotypes (both positive and negative) that you have learned over the years.  Having natural hair may or may not be one of those stereotypes.  We all have these of each group we come in contact with.  If someone asks you what it means to be White, you also think of a set of stereotypes that you have learned over the years. The same goes for Latino, Native American and Asian people.  Hell, we all even have a set of stereotypes for biracial/multiracial people too.  So does natural hair make YOU blacker? Only you can truly answer that question.

Product Review: Donna Marie Dream Curling Creme

Source: Amazon.com

Since I started to grow out my hair a few years ago I’ve been searching for that “perfect product” that will give me both moisture and definition.  I’ve tried different gels, puddings and creams but I’ve found the gels make my hair uncomfortably crunchy and stiff so for the past few months I’ve been looking for something that gave me a touchable fro.  I’ve heard good things about Donna Marie products and I finally decided to purchase some a little while ago and I have to say I’m pretty impressed!  For more information about other Donna Marie products I’ve used, check out my review of the Donna Marie Curling Gelly.  On to the review!

Packaging: Like the Curling Gelly, the packaging on the creme is bright and pretty feminine.  As you can see from the image above it’s mostly pink with some swirly details and cursive font. I understand that Donna Marie went through a brand redesign not too long ago to get this current label. It’s nice but not really my cup of tea. In general, I usually prefer more simple and natural designs.

Consistency: This is a curl cream (or creme as they call it) so it’s pretty thick and creamy.  I tend to slap on products pretty liberally and this really lends itself to that. The cream holds together pretty well and you can invert the tub for a second or two without too much movement.  Given it’s so thick, it’s probably best for thicker hair types like mine.  It actually reminds me of Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding.  The only real negative for me is that the product is a little tacky and doesn’t slide through my hair as smoothly as I would like.  I usually rake the product into sections and haven’t tried just smoothing it on so that might make a big difference.

Smell: So the smell is a mix between a tasty vanilla dessert and some plastic-y, synthetic type smell.  It’s hard to describe but overall pretty pleasant. I think most people who like sugary type smells will enjoy it without being overwhelmed by it.  A thumbs up for me.

Price: I got the product directly from Donna Marie online and it retails for $18 for 16 ounces, making it a great value for those looking for mostly natural styling products.  I’m heavy-handed with product and this even lasts me a while.

Overall Impression: To date this is one of the best products I have used. With the exception of it being a little difficult to distribute through my hair, it gives me the definition and soft hold that I was looking for.  I stocked up on a couple of jars in preparation for the colder months as the air tends to be pretty dry here in NYC.  So, if you’re looking for a mostly natural product that delivers results then I would say that this product is definitely worth the try. It has a permanent spot on my rotation.

Have any of you used it? What do you think?

Fairy Knots!

Single Strand Knots, Fairy Knots…whatever you want to call them.  I simply refer to them as THE DEVIL.  I never knew about these buggers until my fro started growing and I felt these little bumps on some hair strands. The first time I noticed one, I stopped and asked myself, “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?”

I got to Googling (yes, this is firmly a verb now) and found that many folks with longer hair experience fairy knots.  But why are they called fairy knots?  Because they look some little fae burrowed into my fro and decided to tie my strands like shoe laces.

Sookie Stackhouse
It's all Sookie's fault!

So how do you deal with them? Well, I’ve read a few different approaches.  Some suggest cutting off the hair strand just below the knot so you preserve the length of the strand.  Some people say keeping your hair moisturized or in protective styles will fend them off but most of the time I just yank the strand right out.  I know, I know,  but that’s just my default response and it doesn’t hurt.  Truth is, whenever I really think about it, I try to snip them off with scissors when I’m home but I’ve been diagnosed with HIHD (Hand In Hair Disease) and I tend to discover these buggers when I’m sitting at my desk at work or on the subway.  Maybe I should carry scissors in my messenger during the day…? Oh wait, Black man + scissors + random bag searches in the train station…I think I’ll pass.

 Have any of you had any luck fighting off these things? Help a brother out!

What’s been your biggest hair challenge?

For some people the biggest challenge of dealing with their hair is trying new styles and learning how to manipulate your hair to get it to do what you want.  I think that’s true for both men and women and has certainly been a part of my struggle, but for me the largest challenge I have faced is learning to deal with the reactions to my hair, both the good and the bad. Continue reading What’s been your biggest hair challenge?

Natural Hair = Unprofessional? NEVER!

From time to time people ask me if my hair has hindered me in my career.  The short answer is no (at least, not yet). But, I think it’s a bit more complicated than that.  I think there are several things to consider when one decides to wear their curly/kinky hair.  While I have run into no issues, actually the opposite, I understand the hesitancy and apprehension one feels when that first interview comes.  In this economy especially, I understand some people’s hesitancy to rock their natural hair in professional environments and everyone has to make that very personal decision to alter their hair for the job or not.  If you’re strapped and need to put food in the table then I say, do what you gotta do…even if it’s just to get your foot in the door.  While I believe that “professional” can hold a lot of unnecessary biases and unwarranted traditions, I don’t feel like anyone should be sacrificing food or shelter in order to wear a big ass fro to work everyday.  But that’s just my opinion.

For better or for worse, there are several things to consider when deciding to wear natural hair in the workplace and you may want to give thought to the area you live in and its population, the field you want to work in and the status of the particular position.  I personally think that if your hair looks styled and doesn’t cover half your face then you’re probably professional in my book.  Not everyone agrees with this and everyone is entitled to their own opinion but as a wise man once said, “Some opinions just suck”.

When I came into the first interview with my current job, I mulled over the idea of cutting my hair out of fear that my fro might hinder my chances at the job.  Well, it didn’t!  While I did psyche myself to focus on my qualifications and training during the interview I think my chances were improved due to the nature of the somewhat nontraditional social services field.    I wear my hair as a fluffy, curly fro and I wear it this way…EVERY DAY.  I have not had any negative comments from colleagues or supervisors, and in fact, I’ve only had very supportive comments from both. My boss’ boss, who is a bald man, use to ask me how big I was going to let my hair get.  Initially I would get nervous, back track a bit and say, “Well, I don’t want it to get too crazy, etc”. His reply, “Just go for it!”  Hell, sometimes we even talk and joke about the strange things people say to me while I travel for work.  While I was very nervous about how people would react to my fro I now sing a very different tune.  I treat my hair as a complete non-issue and others seem to roll with that.

What negative or positive experiences have you had in the workplace regarding your curly/kinky hair?