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I Tried A Black-Owned Hair Kit To Maintain My Protective Styles

The products surprised me.

I Tried It

Since my "big chop" in early 2018, I've fully committed to wearing natural hairstyles as a way to maintain healthy hair. As a self-proclaimed naturalista, wearing protective styles have been a great alternative to my wash and go routine, allowing my hair to remain tucked away while minimizing manipulation and breakage. Rotating hairstyles such as braids, wigs, and twists gives my hair a break from nasty seasonal weather conditions while also allowing me to save so much time from not styling each and every morning. Although my intentions of wearing protective styles to save my hair from damage are effective, wearing these styles alone aren't enough to ensure that I'm reaping 100 percent of the benefits.

As a Black woman with tight coils, I was never taught how to take care of my natural hair, let alone how to keep my scalp happy while living an active lifestyle. Now that I am older and have more responsibilities, including a weekly workout routine, it's even more important to have the right products that are assisting in the protection of my hair and scalp while not solely relying on protective styles to give me the healthy hair results that I desire.

Shahirah Ahmed for xoNecole

As an active naturalista, it's even more vital that I protect my strands, cleansing my hair of sweat that damages my scalp especially with gyms closures and working out regularly outdoors. To combat the damage from outdoor elements, I took it upon myself to find the best products that will not only nurture my strands but created by women that know and understand the natural hair struggle. While it's easy to protect our hair in the spirit of hair growth, according to Natalya Moosa of Afrocenchix, "Prepping your hair in anticipation of wearing a protective style is key in your hair routine. This starts with ensuring the hair is clean and free of any prior product buildup which otherwise could lead to breakage."

As a general rule, we should begin any and every protective hairstyle with freshly cleansed and moisturized hair but it's maintaining that clean and healthy hair underneath that adds to the benefit of each style, meaning daily and weekly care is still required especially when working out.

Shahirah Ahmed for xoNecole

While there are so many products in the "Ethnic Hair Care" section at my local Target claiming to relieve that annoyingly severe dry itchy scalp when my hair is in braids, I've never stumbled upon products that are effective, lasting throughout the day. To combat my post-gym hair and calm my itchy scalp, I decided to try Sunday II Sunday's Moisture Balance Kit for the first time and what a great decision it was. Known as the athleisure of haircare, this black-owned company has created a wide range of products to benefit the active woman by removing excess sweat and restoring the moisture our hair so desperately needs.

The Moisture Balance Kit is the ultimate collection created to protect hair against unwanted moisture such as sweat while relieving uncomfortable itch, transforming the scalp within minutes. The kit attests to a fully transformed scalp guaranteed within 28 days of use for all hair types. Even for those less active, this is a great kit for all of us struggling to control irritating scalp itch that is so common when wearing protective hairstyles.

Sunday II Sunday - The Moisture Balance Kit Review

Shahirah Ahmed for xoNecole

Sunday II Sunday Root Refresh Micellar Rinse Review

I've never experienced instant long-lasting relief until using the ROOT REFRESH Micellar Rinse infused with apple cider vinegar and micellar water. The dry shampoo replacement is a lightweight cleansing breakthrough product that revives, renews, and refreshes your hair and scalp. It's perfect in between wash days with no shower required. I love using this spray after a workout as well as a cleansing spray every other day to refresh my scalp. With an amazing smell described as "fresh crisp apples", my review of the Root Refresh Micellar Rinse is that the apple cider vinegar is not overpowering and offers a perfect balance to cleanse while providing a fresh scent, removing unwanted odors from outside elements.

Sunday II Sunday Revive Me Daily Moisturizing Spray

Along with the Root Refresh Rinse, the addition of the Revive Me Daily Moisturizing Spray is absolutely necessary to combating dry itchy scalp. This award-winning lightweight moisturizing mist calmed my hair and revived my scalp adding shine and nourishment. I instantly felt relief using this product directly after the Root Refresh Rinse. I use this spray once a day in the morning after showering or at night throughout the week. This product can also be used to refresh curls and is a universal moisturizing spray perfect for any natural hairstyle.

Courtesy of Sunday II Sunday

Sunday II Sunday Soothe Me Daily Scalp Serum Review

One-fourth of the moisturizing kit, Soothe Me Daily Scalp Serum is everything I've ever needed in my life when it comes to scalp relief. I'm convinced the addition of this serum is what locks in the moisturizer needed to cool and soothe my inflamed scalp. As a wig-wearer, the itch can feel uncontrollable however this extremely lightweight yet effective cooling serum is infused with peppermint oil relieving my dry scalp within minutes when paired with the Revive Me spray and Root Refresh. Used in the morning or at night, pre- or post-workout, as a daily refresher or to calm dry scalp due to protective styles, this is a must-have serum for women looking for a product that actually works to relieve itch all day long.

Shahirah Ahmed for xoNecole

Sunday II Sunday Edge Flourish Daily Nourishing Serum

Last but certainly not least, EDGE FLOURISH Daily Nourishing Serum, is the perfect serum to bring my edges back to life. With sensitive skin, I'm always skeptical of products that are for my edges because it's used so close to my face and I fear breakouts but this edge serum is lightweight with the perfect consistency that doesn't feel too heavy or clogs the pores. With natural ingredients and a silicone-free formula, this serum consists of biotin, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, and safflower seed oil to deliver healthier and stronger edges.

It's suggested to apply directly to your edges and nape, gently massaging the serum into your edges with your fingertips to nourish and protect before and after styling. When in need of a serum to repair damaged edges that are sometimes caused by our protective hairstyles, my review of this product is that the formula completely nourishes, moisturizes, refreshes and renews to help keep your edges fully intact.

Overall, the Sunday II Sunday Moisturizing Kit is complete with everything you need for daily haircare.

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Featured image by Shahirah Ahmed for xoNecole

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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