Resilience: What I am doing right now

Resilience is one of my favorite words.

I feel like it’s the one word that defines me to my core, and like my hair, resilience is one of those beautiful things I inherited from my ancestors.

This word to me is equivalent to hope, and I wanted to share this with you because I know many of us are feeling hopeless, angry, and heartbroken.

A message from my heart

I waited a few days to write this because I needed to disconnect from social media, from the news, and reconnect with that source of power that keeps me going every day, my resilience.

I turned to the Ted Talk my late professor, father figure, mentor, and friend, Reverend Charles Rice left us with, you can see it here. I used to call him every time I felt uneasy by the racial climate in our country and he always knew what to say. He started this speech by quoting the song below.

I don’t know how my mother walked her trouble down

I don’t know how my father stood his ground

I don’t know how my people survive slavery

I do remember, that’s why I believe

I Remember, I believe by Bernice Johnson

We must all do our part

When innocent people like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, are brutally killed in the hands of police, it only turns on a bright light on the plight of the black people of this country.

We do the work we do with Miss Rizos because we recognized that institutionalized racism has seeped into every establishment in this country: health, education, banking, you name it, and inequality and injustice plague it.

So, what do we do? How do we deal with this? Where do we turn? I want to share my thoughts on this from the perspective of being an activist for 20 years, organizing and working in the nonprofit world for over 10 years, but most importantly, from a humble heart that is full of resilience.

5 tips to boost your resilience in difficult times

1. Take care of your mental sanity. Self-preservation is important. You can’t just jump onto the next bandwagon, watch every post on Instagram, watch the news all day, and consume whatever the outside is recounting about the situation. DISCONNECT SO THAT YOU CAN RECHARGE AND RESTORE.

2. Figure out where you can be of help while honoring your body, mental sanity, and soul. If you are called to protest, GO! If you have money, DONATE! If you can organize in your community, do that. If you can educate others, do it.

We will leave a list of resources that can help you navigate some of these actions below. Post or don’t post on social media. An online post will not determine your commitment to the cause and the mere thought of this completely minimizes a movement of more than 400 years.

3. Think long term and the bigger picture. I understand that we can’t lose momentum and please pay attention when I tell you that MAJOR SHIFTS will happen now, but we must understand that the real change will take some time and it will need us.

We can’t disconnect and cease our participation in the fight for justice. Once the news stops talking about it, once the protest comes to an end, and the social media hashtags and memes are no longer occupying your timeline, we must continue to talk about it, and WE MUST CONTINUE TO ENGAGE AND PARTICIPATE IN CREATING A MORE JUST WORLD.

Again, you might ask how, and this is entirely up to you. You must decide what are your talents and know how, and resources you can give to serve a cause.

4. Don’t shame, judge, or force others into doing any of the above. Many people are grieving, others don’t know what to say. Yes, we have to hold each other and the institutions around us accountable, but please do this mindfully.

Remember that our goal is to get people to join a movement, become active, and fight for justice. So, think about what words and actions you will take to accomplish this.

5. It’s ok to laugh and have joy. JOY IS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE. I am gardening, cooking, and talking to my friends on FaceTime. All of this helps me stay grounded.

 As an individual and as a business, we will continue to donate to bail-out funds and non-profits who are working to dismantle institutionalized racism and discrimination across all fields.

We’ve donated to 1-2 small businesses, organizations, or causes, every week amidst the lockdown. We’ve managed to do this because YOU continue to support us, THANK YOU.

I vow to continue to speak loudly in honor of those who can’t and do everything in power to make sure we are seen, validated, and celebrated.

 I will go down fighting as Rev Rice reminded me. I will continue to fight with every fiber in my body for the eradication of discrimination based on hair, and the empowerment of little black girls and women.

 I have so much more to say and we are currently working on so many different incredible projects, but I’ll leave you with one of my many favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

RESOURCES: HERE 

Get popping curls all week long

If you follow me on social media you’ll notice that I can stretch my wash and go for as long as 7 days or even more sometimes . 

You may have also noticed that I can get 3rd and 4th day hair on day one. So let me break all this down for you and you to rock popping curls all week long.

Day 1

This is probably the most important day because the way you set your hair will determine the longevity of your style. We will focus on a wash and go, but you can get more information about how rock your twist-outs in this article. 

The basics for creating your wash and go is making sure it’s saturated with water, using the right leave-in or curl cream and then sealing all of that moisture in with a good gel or heavier curl defining cream. 

Now, the wash and go needs to be set and you can do this by using your hooded dryer, which is my method, diffusing it with a blow dryer or letting it air dry on its own. The trick is that before you manipulate it, it has to be completely dry, otherwise it will get frizz. And frizz is not the enemy, but we are trying to rock out do all week long. 

At night make sure you put your hair up in a pineapple and/or in a satin bonnet, and make sure you’re sleeping with a satin or silk pillowcase. You will repeat this part EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. 

Day 2 

We know our hair is completely dry and we can now manipulate it and give it the volume we desire. Here’s the thing, if you want big hair fast, you run the risk of not really having as much longevity. The more we manipulate our hair to make it big, the more we are breaking the cast of the gel, the more moisture we are removing from the hair and the more frizz we are causing. 

To create volume, you’re going to apply a teeny tiny bit of oil or hair butter, ideally a natural one to your hands. Using hair clips section your hair and you can open each curl to the desire volume. Then grab your blow dryer and remove the diffuser and blast it on high all around your hair to continue to open up your hair. Put both hands inside your hair and check it up. Finally, grab a hair pick and lift only at the root. I’ve illustrated this in this IGTV video.

For fine or loose curls, you can add an even smaller amount of oils to your hands, then break the cast by scrunching the hair. You can then blast it and pick the roots. 

Day 3-7

In the morning when you remove your pineapple and/or hair bonnet, grab your hair pick or your hands and stretch and fluff curls. 

If you’ve set your hair correctly the first night, then you’ll notice there really won’t be any need to rewet or reset hair. However, in case you do feel like there are a few stragglers, then grab a bit of the gel or cream you used and do a finger coil around that strand. 

Try these tricks out and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Feel free to add any of your own tips! ❤😉

A simple guide to understanding how natural oils work

One of the first products to which we are introduced when we begin in our process of transitioning to natural hair or healthier hair are natural oils. Learn how the make the most out of using them!

Carolina? What are natural oils good for?

Ahh … If my hair grew an inch for every time people asked me this question, I would have the longest mane in all the land.

One of the first products to which we are introduced when we begin in our process of transitioning to natural hair or healthier hair are natural oils from olive, coconut, grape seed, argan, jojoba and others.

Whichever of your choice, natural oils have a well-earned reputation for providing nourishment to hair and skin. They are usually used for their fragrance (essential oils) and healing properties, and have become one of the quintessential ingredients within the cosmetic industry.

That is why today we are going to share with you some ways to get the most out of those special and precious little bottles.

The many use we can give oils to our hair

The oils can be used to:

• Seal the moisture in the hair

• Scalp massages

• Protecting ends

• Hot oil treatments

• Promoting hair growth/length retention 

• Natural shine

What’s the best oil for my natural hair?

When used correctly, oils can provide many benefits, so we recommend the following tips when choosing the oil of your choice:

Investigate: the hair needs of your friend or sister, are not your hair needs, this means that what works for someone else will not necessarily work for you. Research, read, ask and try until you find the one that gives you what you are looking for.

Read the labels: This is important! Most oils sold in large department stores are not entirely natural oils but mixed with mineral oils, fragrances silicone and dyes that dry out and affect hair growth. 

Read reviews and support sustainably sourced oils: Now with the internet you can type in a brand and type of oil and get a bunch of information. I encourage you to get oils that are sustainably sourced.

Tips and tricks to put oils to work 

Okay, so you did your research and purchased your oils now what? To use the oils you can:

• Heat up some water, place oil in a container and heat the oil by placing the container in the hot water. This makes a great hot oil treatment

• Spread a little on your hands, and massage the scalp for about 3 to 5 minutes every other night, this will stimulate circulation and help stimulate hair growth 

• Add it to your favorite natural treatment for some extra slip 

• When you finish applying your favorite styling cream, put a little on your hands and apply it to the ends, just a few drops.

• Apply it the night before washing your hair as a pre-poo to prepare and protect the hair for the washing process

• Watch out for how much you use: Once upon a time there was a girl who got so excited about her new oils that she threw them into her shampoo, conditioner, and applied a ton after washing her hair! I promise it wasn’t me! LOL! Remember, everything in excess is bad, so a little goes a long way.

Right now I am using my own oil mix. My favorite oils are jojoba, argan, coconut, avocado, almonds, grapeseed, well almost all of them! I just discovered Monoi oil and I love it! I usually mix my oils with lavender and rosemary essential oils or when I want to feel a fresh and tingly feeling on my scalp, I mix in peppermint essential oil in it.

Remember oils are not moisturizing or hydrating because they are not made out of water. They seal in moisture and can give your hair shine and improve your overall hair health when used correctly. 

And you, what are your favorite oils and how do you use them? Let me know in the comments below. ✨

5 Very easy things you can do to help the environment

I decided to share 5 very simple things I do to reduce waste. These tips  make me feel like I am well on my way to becoming more environmentally responsible and hope will motive you to start today.

The other day I saw Isla de Plastico (Island of Plastic) a documentary filmed in the Dominican Republic (you can watch it here), illustrating the insanely problematic plastic phenomenon the country is living. I was so sad when I saw it and simply couldn’t believe how careless we’ve been and how we disregard the current environmental damages we are inflicting on this earth. 

The truth is that after seeing that film, watching the forest fires around the globe, the crazy temperatures due to global warming, and all of the animals we are killing in our oceans, makes me feel hopeless at times and extremely frustrated. After the film however, I realized that I have a platform and I can use it to share 5 very simple things I do to reduce waste.

The truth is that I am FAR from where I want to be regarding this subject. I still have tons to learn and do to minimize my carbon footprint. These tips however, make me feel like I am well on my way to becoming more environmentally responsible.

I also make sure both of my salons recycle and use paper bags.

1. Get a reusable water bottle 

Ideally you can get a tin/metal reusable water bottle, but it’s ok if you like me, got one of those sturdy Nalgene plastic bottles many moons ago. I’ve only purchased 2 of them in my lifetime and the first one lasted me like 10 years and I’ve had the second one for nearly 4 years. I usually always carry around an empty bottle that I can fill up to avoid buying water bottles. The idea is to eliminate these 1 time use plastics that are piling up on our shores.

2. Recycle and/or separate your trash

It’s obvious that we should all be recycling. Most if not all cities in the US have a recycling system. In NYC I recycle paper, metal, glass, and plastic. This is not the reality for most countries though.

In fact, this idea might be completely foreign to someone in the Dominican Republic because of a lack of education and political responsibility. However, if you live in a place where recycling is not common, then SEPARATE YOUR WASTE

Put all of your plastics in one bag, tin/metal/glass in another one, and then your organic waste in another. Believe it or not, there are millions of people around the globe that make a living out of sorting through the trash and selling these materials. So by separating the trash, you’re ensuring that one of these folks won’t have to sort through your rubbish and will easily find what they are looking for.

3. Use reusable straws 

This is such an easy ask. Go to a local store or on amazon and please do me a favor and buy 5-10 metal or glass reusable straws and 2-3 straw cleaners (thin circular brushes). Straws are contaminating our oceans and are really impacting the oceanic creatures. Carry a few on you so that you use them at restaurants or when you’re out.

4. Use reusable totes instead of plastic bags

I have a huge collection of totes of all sizes, colors, and materials. They are so convenient, and it is easier to carry groceries or whatever you get at the mall. The best part is that you’ll avoid using plastic bags, which again are ending up in our oceans. We actually have our totes on sale for just $15 + an additional 15% OFF, you can grab your here.

5. Save your jars/recipients that your food comes in

If you look in my kitchen cabinet, you’ll notice that I have a collection of jars. All of the jars from pasta sauces and other canned goods, I wash and use them as cups. Many of them are actually mason jars and so they’re perfect for salads, soups and many other foods. 

So there you have it, just 5 tiny little itty bitty changes can have a HUGE impact in our environment. You might think that if you’re doing it and you’re just one person it might not have an impact, but it absolutely does. I mean imagine using 1 plastic straw a day for like 70+ years, that’s over 25,000 straws! Plus you’ll inspire your neighbor, your family members and friends. We only have 1 planet earth and we have to take care of it not only for our future generations, but for us right now. 

How to prepare for a visit at a curly salon

Now it’s no news to you, fellow reader that we have two beautiful salons, one in the Dominican Republic and one in Little Dominican Republic also known as Washington Heights New York. But I am not writing this just for our clients and potential clients, most of you actually don’t live near our salons. The purpose for writing this is to help you create the best experience possible during your next visit to a curly hair salon. Please feel free to add your own advice below in the comments. 

1. Bring pictures 

It’s important to provide your stylist with as much information as possible to achieve the look you want. Bring pictures of how you normally style your hair, ideas for cuts, and any other pictures you might find relevant.

2. Ask questions 

At least at our salons, and I suspect that in most other of them, stylist are eager to help you solve your hair issues. They want to help you manage your hair at home and fall in love with it, so make believe like you’re visiting the curly doctor and bring all the questions. Ask about routines, products, etc. 

3. Manage your expectations

A lot of clients share pictures with their stylist with women with other textures and hair types, begging them to achieve that exact look. This is not always possible and it’s important to manage these expectations.

4. Communicate with your stylist

It is so important to maintain a good communication with your stylist from the very beginning. Tell them how you like your styling results, little volume or lots of volume, as the shampoo girl to do more pressure or less pressure and ask the stylist to show you how much she will cut of your hair. At the end of the service let your stylist know how you feel. The feedback is so important. 

5. Relax and enjoy 

I know that this is a hard ask, but it’s the best way to enjoy your visit. Sit back and close your eyes during the shampoo and let go of whatever they day brought.