I don't know if it's the fall season's vibrantly colored leaves that makes so many of us wanna switch things up or, it's because autumn kicks off the holiday season and we wanna look as fly as possible (that's our true motivator). But there's something about the here and now that inspires a lot of us to change our hair—more specifically, our hair color.
I totally get it because I've done it. But with age and experience come wisdom. So, now that I'm just as interested in maintaining length (check out "This Is Why Your Natural Hair Ain't Growin'" and "7 Tips For Getting The Edges And Nape Of Your Neck To Grow Faster"), as I am in throwing some color in, I wanted to share some tips on how you can get the bold and beautiful hue that you want without totally wrecking your tresses in the process.
Have You Considered Taking an All-Natural Approach?
OK, so when it comes to going the all-natural route on hair color, I'll be real with you—unless it's something like hair wax (which is dope but it only lasts a few days), natural options tend to lean more on the subtle side. Even henna (which is wonderful at also conditioning your hair) typically doesn't end up being as bold and brilliant as you might like it to be. But, if subtle is what you're aiming for, there are some things that you can add to your hair that are virtually damage-free. Coffee can create a brown richness to your hair (there's a DIY video here). Or, if you want a subtle red tint to your mane, beet juice can typically do the trick (check out a DIY video for that here).
If Louder Is What You Want, Assess How Healthy Your Hair Is First
If you don't want anything subtle or a hair color option that won't last more than a few days, before you decide to dye your hair, take it from someone who has failed miserably at this particular point in times past—you really need to assess the state of your hair before doing anything drastic to it. What I mean is, you need to check it to see how healthy it is—or isn't—first.
If you've got split ends, your hair is extremely dry, if it lacks elasticity (it breaks easily), if it seems extremely frizzy or won't hold a style or your ends are raggedy AF—these are all indications that color is the last thing that your hair needs right now; especially since inclement weather will only dry your hair out further.
For the moment, focus on restoring your hair's health by deep conditioning it for a couple of months, trimming your ends and, giving yourself a protein treatment if it needs one (Naturally Curly has a good read on how to know if you need one of those. You can check it out here.) Yes, all of this might delay the time that it will take before you can get the color that you want, but it's better to have healthy locks with beautiful color than beautiful color that will result in you having to big chop because of how damaged your hair was before you actually dyed it.
Then Determine How Dramatic You Want Your Color to Be
Once your hair is in a good and healthy state, the next thing to ponder is how dramatic you want to go, on the color tip. This consists of factoring in personal preference, trends and also what will stress your hair out the most. As far as trends go, colors that are popular for winter 2020 and spring 2021 include deep burgundies, rich and smokey shades of blue (midnight blues are super dope on us, by the way), caramel hues, sombre highlights (which is basically a technique that puts two shades of highlights over medium brown hair color), deep brown, cinnamon and even silver is still hanging in there.
One of the reasons why it's so important to know how light (or dark) you want to take it is because certain looks need peroxide to lighten your natural color so that drastic hues will take properly. When the pigment of your hair is stripped, that automatically damages your cuticles to a certain degree, which means that you'll have to "baby your hair" so that you don't experience a lot of shedding or breakage. Plus, based on what you desire the end result to look like, you might need to seek out a professional's help 'cause listen y'all—I don't care what those box brand commercials tell you, sometimes you can't get the results you want without significantly lifting your natural color and oftentimes, that requires a pro to make sure that your hair stays in good shape once you do it. Always keep in mind, the lighter the shade, the more vulnerable your hair will become. Vulnerable hair is fragile hair. Factor that in as you're making your decision.
Will Semi-Permanent (or a Rinse) Do the Trick?
When I was in my 20s, my hair color was all over the place. Because I rocked a short 'do, pretty much most of the time, it could easily be blonde one week, red the next and then some shade of brown the following month. In my 40s, I like jet black a lot. But because I've known that dark hair dye has a breast cancer link, for a while now, I've been going with a black hair rinse which is basically a lower level option of semi-permanent hair color. How is that the case?
Well, while semi-permanent hair color can last through eight or so shampoos, rinses sometimes go away after only a couple. A plus with rinses is, since rinses coat but do not penetrate your hair shaft, they are considerably better for your hair.
As far as semi-permanent hair colors go, because they don't contain the bleach or ammonia that permanent dyes do, this makes them a much gentler option for your hair that permanent dyes are. Does semi-permanent hair color pose the same amount of a health risk as permanent dyes do? From what I've read, not exactly. But there is still some risk. Anything other than an all-natural hair color option poses at least a little bit of one.
Anyway, the main thing to keep in mind when it comes to going with a rinse or semi-permanent hair color is it's not permanent. You will have to apply more color, more often. A good maintenance hack is you should wash your hair with cool water so that your color stays longer. Personally, because I don't shampoo my hair any more than twice a month, rinses are just fine for me. Plus, I've only seen my hair thrive since I made the decision to leave permanent hair color alone.
If Not, Go with a Gel Color and Get More than One Box of It
If after reading all of what I just said, you still wanna go with something permanent and you still wanna do it at home, make sure that you go with a gel color. Why? It's honestly the kind of dye that will give natural hair textures the type of coverage that we truly need (a good runner-up is liquid hair dye). Also, make sure that you purchase more than one box. I don't know one person, pretty much regardless of what their hair length is, that is able to fully cover their entire head with just one bottle of hair dye. And again—and it really can't be stressed enough—if you want to go significantly lighter, the box alone is probably not gonna do it. You will need to lighten the base of your hair first. They sell them at local beauty supply stores. (Although I've watched a couple of naturalistas offer up a few non-lightener hacks. You can check out two of the videos that I've seen before here and here).
Prep and Maintain Your Hair with Wisdom—and Consistency
Once you've decided what kind of dye you want to use, it's equally important that you have a hair prep and hair maintenance play in place. As far as hair prepping goes, while I hope that you're already doing this, please make sure to deep condition your hair, every week, the month prior to coloring your hair. The more moisturized your tresses are, the better they will be able to handle the stress and strain that dye can cause your cuticles. Also, shampooing your hair with a clarifying shampoo, about a week before adding color, is a good idea because it will remove any product build-up that could make it challenging for your color to fully take.
As far as maintenance on the backend, it's important that you use a color-safe shampoo because it will help your color to last longer. Definitely do not slack up on your deep conditioning routine. Make sure to seal your ends with Jamaican black castor oil or something like avocado oil (you can watch a video on how to do that here). Try and rock protective styles at least four days a week (to protect your vulnerable ends). Oh, and since we are headed towards much cooler weather, make sure to line your fly hats so that they don't dry your hair out.
If you are diligent in doing all of these things, I have no doubt that you can end up with the color that you want without sacrificing the health of your hair. You will be looking amazing all fall and winter with extra inches to bring about, come spring. Dope, right? I know.
Featured image by Shutterstock
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
What Is the Cab Light Theory & How Does It Apply To Your Love Life?
For most of my 20s, I found myself toggled between situationships and dead-end dynamics that left me with nothing more than frosty memories of what could have been. While these relationships proved to be great learning moments and experiences that have shaped my views on what I deserve in a long-term partnership, it’s hard not to mull over why timing never quite played in my favor.
Chalk it up to naivety, or simply the hopeful romantic in me, but love never seemed like a distant concept to me. Sure there were tough lessons I had to learn and breakups that I needed healing from, but the hope of finding that special someone still remained. Yet, in my reflections, I couldn’t help but wonder why I kept meeting men who seemed good enough for the moment but would be better had we met at another time.
That is, until I considered one fated component of my dating life that was simply out of my control: and that was time.
When you can’t make sense of things on your own, the TikTok algorithm has a way of leading you to the answers you’re seeking. And during a recent scroll, I stumbled upon a thread of women echoing the sentiment that “men marry the woman in front of them, at the time they are ready to be married” — but could this be the root of my dilemma?
This notion, known as the "Cab Light Theory" is a concept that was introduced in the hit TV series Sex and the City. In the scene, lawyer Miranda Hobbes suggested that men are like taxis - when they're available, their "cab light" is on, and when they're not, it's off. “When they’re available, their light goes on. They wake up one day and decide they’re ready to settle down, have babies, whatever, and they turn their light on. The next woman they pick up — boom! That’s the woman they marry. It’s not fate. It’s dumb luck,” she tells her group of friends in the ladies' room.
The theory is that men are ready and willing to pursue a romantic relationship when they're emotionally available and interested (light on), and if they’re not, well, it’s on to the next pick-up they go (light off). While men are not modes of transportation, there is a point to be made about how a passing notion in a TV series from the start of the millennium could still hold some truth today.
In the original video shared by creator Tay Talks, her take on the “Cab Light Theory” implied that men aren’t necessarily marrying their soulmate or even the love of their life, instead, “it was just the girl he was dating at the time he was ready to get married and settle down.” The “dumb luck” that Miranda Hobbes was referring to in the show is the chance encounter that a woman would find a man who is both financially sound and emotionally available enough to stop his dating pursuits and commit to one woman forever.
But as dating trends shift with new social and economic factors at play, how could it be that more “lights” aren’t going off for men?
In an illuminating piece by Psychology Today, men are more lonely than they’ve been in decades and their soil for choice isn’t helping. The article shared that dating apps drive new connections but have a gender imbalance, with 62% of users being men. And with women becoming increasingly more selective in preferring emotionally available men who share their values, men are now facing a relationship skills gap that can lead to fewer opportunities for long-term partnership if growth, healing, and deeper emotional intelligence are not achieved.
While it’s easy to oversimplify the headaches and frustrations that come with modern dating, we can’t forget that while timing does play a factor in us finding “the one,” we also have the power of choice within our grasp. Men and women both need time to heal, grow, and discover themselves on a deeper level — so would we really want to “jump in the cab” of someone who hasn’t gone through that process already?
Since love is one of those forces that we can’t just make happen a the snap of our fingers, it can be easy to fix a blanket theory into the reason behind our singleness, but it’s important to remember that we can choose to pursue other candidates who date with openness and desire for commitment rather than waiting until someone’s light hastily cuts on.
While love can be sublime it shouldn’t be random. And when love finds us, we shouldn’t have the question in the back of our mind whether we were the best our man could do at the time. We deserve to be sure.
So yes, the “cab light theory” is a cheeky concept that prompts us to appreciate the timing of our love life, but it should also remind us that alignment is everything.
Because the real question is: was his light not on, or was he simply not the one?
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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images