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Here's How To Prep Natural Hair Before Summer Starts

Is your hair summer season ready yet?

Hair

Well y'all, I don't know what you're thinkin' but personally, I'm totally trippin' that we're just a few weeks away from it officially being the summer season. As I was looking at my hair the other day, I said to myself, "How about we give you some extra special attention this year, so that I don't have to do any damage control come fall?". Because, even though I actually write on hair care quite a bit, sometimes a sistah doesn't feel like being proactive. I'm getting better at it, though.

Anyway, if you are like me and you don't want to be pissed off on Labor Day because, all you did, all summer long, was wrap your hair up in a scarf or rock a turban, only to discover a dry matted mess weeks later, I've got some things that you can do to prep your hair (and maintain it) for the summer season. Don't worry. Everything here is cheap and easy yet super effective.

Are you ready to get your hair into great summer shape?

Make Some Coconut Milk Shampoo

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Something that I recommend you try this season is making your own shampoo. Not only is it (typically) cheaper than commercial brands, but you're able to know exactly what is going into your tresses. A recipe that's very easy to make, consists of only three ingredients. All you need is coconut milk, castile soap and your favorite essential oil(s).

Coconut milk is great because the antibacterial properties in it will help to cleanse your scalp while removing any bacteria that may be on it. Coconut milk is also packed with nutrients like protein (our hair is made up of mostly protein), iron (something that many of us, as Black women, tend to be deficient in) and magnesium (it promotes follicle hair growth) that help to strengthen our hair. As a bonus, coconut milk is mad moisturizing too.

Castile soap removes product build-up without stripping your hair of the natural oils that it needs. Essential oils smell great and come with all sorts of benefits, depending on which one you decide to go with. For a fresh and summery scent, I recommend orange oil. It moisturizes your hair, plus it also can smooth your strands so that they look less frizzy too.

For a simple coconut milk shampoo recipe, check out Wellness Mama's here.

Dust Your Ends

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If one of the things that you're committed to this year is length retention, I am totally with you. Because of this, you probably want to keep shears as far away from your head as possible. But if you don't at least dust your ends, not only could you end up with split ends that will only result in long-term hair damage, but you could prevent your natural hair from holding any real shape as well. If you don't trust a professional to trim your hair—again, I feel you because some stylists don't know the difference between cutting and trimming—you can always take matters into your own hands. Literally. Dusting your ends is about taking no more than around ½" (on average) off of the ends of your hair. All you need is a good pair of shears, a video tutorial and a lot of patience.

Check out some naturalistas and how they dust their ends here, here and here.

Apply a Leave-in Conditioner

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Hopefully, deep conditioning your locks is already a part of your hair routine. But because the sun can be particularly harsh during the summer season, it's important to apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair too. Not only will it add some extra moisture to your hair, it can also make detangling and styling so much easier in between washes (especially if you'd prefer not to wet your hair every day). If you decide to go the commercial brand route, make sure that the first ingredient on the label is water. Or, if you want, you can make some of your own.

Kinky Curly Yaki totally has your back in this department with the article "14 Homemade Leave-In Conditioner Recipes".

Use a DIY Anti-Frizz Serum

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When it comes to my natural hair texture, probably the two top things that get on my nerves about summer is 1) the massive amount of shrinkage that it causes and 2) how frizzy my hair can sometimes become. As far as shrinkage goes, we'll tackle that in the next point. On the frizz tip, something that can help to tame your mane is to create your own anti-frizz hair serum. One of the best recipes I've seen in a hot minute consists of avocado oil (it's extremely moisturizing), argan oil (it nourishes your scalp, fights dandruff and helps to prevent brittle ends) and geranium oil (it's antibacterial, balances the production of serum and helps to keep hair strands smooth). If you apply a little to your hair on a daily basis, you'll notice more curls and less frizz.

For the complete anti-frizz serum recipe, click here.

Define Your Curls with Bentonite Clay and Apple Cider Vinegar

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Yeah, I already know. There are definitely a billion hair hacks out here. But if there's one that I promise you is pretty close to mind-blowing, it's the bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar hair mask. The benefits of bentonite clay, frankly, deserves a write-up of its own but some of the main point is it's the kind of clay that draws out toxins, helps to heal psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, removes product build-up on the hair and scalp, conditions and moisturizes and definitely brings the best out of your natural curl definition. Know what else it does? It helps to elongate your hair so that shrinkage isn't as much of an issue. As far as apple cider vinegar goes, it's a one of a kind type of hair clarifier. The combo will have your hair feeling mad soft and with bouncy curls that you didn't know you had; whether you've got 3 or 4 type hair.

An easy recipe: Pull out a non-metal bowl (metal can affect the potency of the clay, not in a good way either) and pour 1/3 cup of bentonite clay into it. Then add about four tablespoons of distilled water (maybe a bit more; the objective is for the mixture to have a thick yogurt-like consistency). To that, add four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and maybe some sweet almond oil (to lock extra moisture into your hair). Mix everything with a non-metal spoon and immediately apply the mask to clean and damp hair (make sure your locs are wet enough to show your curl pattern). Apply the mask, cover your head up with a plastic bag and let it sit on your hair for 30 minutes. Then get into the shower to rinse it all out (it's kind of a mess if you go the sink route) and follow it up with your favorite hair conditioner. Allow your hair to air dry and sis, you're totally good to go. (If you want to see some final results, check out this video, this one or this one.)

Invest in Some Anti-Humidity Hair Products

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You would think that, since humidity is all about moisture, that it being in the air that it would work for, not against, our hair…right? Yeah, naw.

While it's kind of a science class, the bottom line is our hair is made up of tiny tubes of keratin (protein). What humidity does is manipulate those tubes which causes our hair cuticles to swell, resulting in frizz.

One way you can reduce how much this happens to your own hair is to coat your hair with anti-humidity hair products on a daily basis.

If you'd like to do this, Naturally Curly totally has your back. Check out "20 Humidity-Proof Products to Fight Frizz".

Create Some Sunscreen for Your Locs

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Don't get it twisted. We might be full of melanin, but Black women need sunscreen too; this includes when it comes to our hair. UV rays have a tendency to do a real number on tresses. For one thing, they produce free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress that can weaken our hair's natural structure. Extreme sun exposure can also strip our natural hair color and give us dry and brittle strands too. That's why some hair sunscreen is another effective way to get and keep your hair summertime ready.

Naturally Curly has your back on this one too. Check out "6 DIY Sunscreen Recipes to Protect Your Hair".

Drink More Water

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One of the big mistakes that a lot of us make when it comes to caring for our hair is we're far more preoccupied with what we put on our hair that we forget to pay attention to what we put into it from the inside out. Your hair is definitely not going to survive the summer season if you don't make sure to stay hydrated all throughout the day. Not only do you need water to replenish the fluids you lost from sweating, but since each strand is made up of roughly 25 percent of water, you can see why your hair especially needs it too. If you're averaging eight glasses of water before summer, up that to around 10 as summertime eases its way on in.

Not a water fan? Get what you need by drinking some infused water instead. You can get some awesome recipes here.

Get a Hair Oil for the Swimming Pool

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Chlorine and salt water can wreak real havoc on hair, especially ours since our tresses tend to lean more towards being on the drier side of the hair spectrum anyway. If you'd prefer to not rock a swimming cap, something that you can do to give your hair some of the extra moisture that it needs is to apply a thin coat of oil before taking a swim.

Jojoba oil moisturizes. Grapeseed combats frizz. Lemongrass has antifungal and antiviral properties. My recommendation is to put two tablespoons of each into a plastic bottle, heat them up in the microwave for 15 seconds and add the oil to your hair. The combo will feel great and your tresses will be all set.

Keep a Hair Spritz Handy

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On the super hot days when you want to give your natural hair a bit of a moisture-rich pick-me-up, why not go with an all-natural hair spritz? All you need is a small plastic spray bottle, some rosewater and a couple of other ingredients. You can keep the bottle in your bag and lightly mist your hair whenever you get the urge. Your scalp will instantly feel refreshed and your curls will instantly feel hydrated. It's a wonderful summertime treat for your hair from its roots right down to its ends.

A cool recipe: Fill your bottle halfway with rosewater (it'll stabilize your hair's pH balance). Then add a tablespoon of sweet almond oil, a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (when combined with oil and water, it can reduce hair breakage) and 5-7 drops of lavender essential (it cleanses the scalp while stimulating hair growth in the process). Make sure to shake well before every use. Then spritz your hair and that's it. Your hair will totally be summer set!

Do you have a beauty, wellness or self-care find that you've tried recently and want to share your experience? Join the xoTribe members community to connect with other beauty lovers and share your wins with the tribe.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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