Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dear Readers

Just wanted to write a quick letter to my readers. I wanted to
appologize for not posting up any new articles recently...

Sadly, I have been stuck into a Writer's Block Faze...

(A disadvantage to being deep into studies and researching, as well as
trying out experiments and tests...)

Lately, I have been trying out a lot of experiments with natural
products and chemical products for my "Raw Hair Foodist Diary". Its
taking more resources and time than I orginally thought. So between
that, and other areas of research, as well as living life, of course...

Its been tough.

The good news is that...

I have some unfinished articles that will be posted up, sometime in our
near future...

Other than blog action day... the articles don't have a set deadline.

For those who are members of blog log... please feel free to become a
member of my community... that way you can easily see when I post up a
new article.

For those not a member of blog log. I will add a subscription box, so
you can easily see when a new posting has arrived on "Natural and
Nappy", if you don't want to become a memeber of blog log.

Thank you for your support, by reading my articles. Hope that you will
remain my constant reader.

Much love and respect....

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Q: From Honeylips: (regarding her hair falling out) She
stated that she is afraid to cut off her hair because everyone else is so obsessed over her hair length though she is having a serious case of hair breakage...

A: Your hair has already given you an answer, because its falling out in chunks, etc. You, as stated, have already done a lot of damage to your hair. And the constant breakage means that the chain of damage has probably gone up through most of the hair strand.

Its up to you to make the final decision. But it might be good to consider that:

1) Its your hair, not theirs. Right now you have to deal with constant hair breakage. If the hair damage continues on a long term basis, who knows what new effect might arise.

2) At this point, your hair is still growing. Whatever damage that you have done to your hair (in the hair strand areas) is mostly likely permanent. Which means you could go through a hair detoxing treatment, but your hair (that you refused to cut off) wont be as healthy as it could be.

With those points to consider, my suggestion is that you do chop it off, but not dramatically. I recommend using a transition hair style.

A transition hair style is used to hide the real hair to allow the real hair underneath to grow naturally without the use of heavy chemicals.

So this is where braids, cornrows and weaves come in handy as a great hair fixer upper...

As long as the hair dresser does not put them in too tight, with can also leave to breakage, (remember your hair is delicate) you can wear these styles until your hair naturally grows to a comfortable enough length (or when you are spiritually ready to let go) and cut your damaged hair off.

During and afterwards, I recommend changing the lifestyle that you have regarding your usual food intake and hair food (and product) intake.

Increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits and complicated grains (lowering the intake of meat) not only helps your body heal itself, but helps give your body enough nutrients to send to your hair follicle to grow more hair. Remember growing hair, is like the last priority to your body. So the nutrients sent to your hair and nails is the lesser amount compared to what the rest of your body receives.

A good example of that is looking at the African American Slaves... they lived with eating a very poor diet and poor hygiene for a long time. Along with their extreme measures to straighten their hair, and head diseases that arose, the lack of nutrition was also seen as a cause for their rapid hair loss.

The more good things that we put into our bodies, the more good nutrients is sent to all areas of our bodies.

Other than a change of diet within your body. Changing the diet for your hair is also important. This allows your hair to get nutrients both from the inside and the outside. I recommend using Raw Shea Butter and creating Raw Hair Shampoo and Conditioner recipes...

Hope my answer helps. For some resources, check out:

Treasured Locks
Raw Hair Food Diary

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blog Action Day

Yo, thanks to LukiaNo for posting this on your blog. I am going to participate too. On October 15th 2007, blogs around the world will post up a single article regarding the environment. Since there is so many areas to discuss, it will be interesting to see what everyone decides to say. Check it out:

Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day

Analyzing the 'Hair Relaxer' (part 2)

So, how does relaxer work with 'straighten hair'?

The Calcium Hydroxide (or sodium hydroxide, if your using lye) penetrates the cuticle layer of your hair shaft, and violently attacks and strips away your cortex (Which we explained earlier as being the hair shaft's source of nutrients, strength and elasticity). Unlike, the cuticle, the cortex happens to be very easy to perish.

From the lack of strength... the hair shaft falls (lacking the vitality to hold up curls), making your hair... straight(ish). Hence the term "relaxing the hair".

To add to stripping the cortex, the active chemicals not only penetrate the the hair shaft, they also penetrate your scalp! (No matter how careful you try to be, the hair relaxer STILL touches and penetrates into your scalp.)

In your scalp, the chemical does 3 major things:

  1. The chemical violently react to the substances in the body and attacks the oil glands, making them dormant.
  2. The chemical strips your outer epidermis layer (aka your skin on your scalp) taking away your natural protective layer, leaving your skin unprotected.
  3. The chemical also absorbs into your scalp, and is stored some where else in your body for a side effect to develop later, after a long term usage. (Like balding, skin disease, etc.)

Without natural oils, and stripped skin. Your hair and scalp are left to dependent on OTHER products to fix what problem was created.

As mentioned in an earlier article, kinky hair is actually very WEAK, BRITTLE, as well as DRY. So, in a sense, that would make 'relaxed hair' the MOST WEAKEST, DRIEST and VULNERABLE type of hair.

With no form of natural protection, the 'Relaxee' is forced to become a slave to a 'Cycle of Chemicals'.

What is this 'cycle of chemicals'?

A "Cycle Of Chemicals" is a constant routine of chemical usage and dependency to fix a problem that a previous chemical (or product) had initially created. Every single product that contains chemicals, this includes preservatives (etc), has ingredients that cause some form of damage.

Example (A):

"Fragrance" is added to every chemical mix product to cover up the horrible smell the formula originally had in the laboratory. The 'side effect', however, is that it dries out your hair and scalp. Every new product used to fix the problem of dry hair and scalp, usually contains the same (or similar) fragrance chemical which will essentially add to further damage or dependency to another temporary fix. With constant forms of damage, trimming off the hair shaft is needed to stop the chain of breakage, from reaching the rest of the hair.

Example (B):
  1. After a while you develop hair breakage (from using hair relaxer, or other harsh methods of treatment)
  2. You use a product, to fix the problem.
  3. That product in turn has its own damaging side effect. So you use another product to fix that problem.
  4. Which leads to damage, or a side effect in another area. So you use another product to fix that problem. Etc, etc, etc.

Over and over again, we use one product to fix one problem, then another one to fix another problem. No wonder the cosmetic industry makes billions of dollars a year. They create products to fix problems that they themselves have originally created.

As this cycle of dependency continues, there is yet another problem that arises...


Water???... you ask.

Here is yet another irony. Kinky hair is the driest type of hair there is. It needs moisture... yet for most black people (mainly black women), they end up usually fearing the idea of water touching their heads (unless planned, of course)... why?

"Wonderful, fantastic water!!!
It can help sustain life, as well as be a means of destruction. It can be molded into a new shape, as well as mold a new shape out of a solid object. And... Whatever is NOT naturally bound to you will be simply stripped away in mere minutes!"

Chemicals aren't bound to us. They don't really absorb... well not always in a good way, anyway. A lot of chemicals just sit on top of your skin or hair shaft... waiting to be washed away.

Water not only attacks from the outside of our bodies, but from the inside as well. Our bodies sweat, and practically push the chemicals away from us... along with other toxins that were inside of us.

Without protection, both chemically and naturally, the skin and hair become... once again... vulnerable to the elements. Which leads to...

Frizzy hair, 'unmanageable' hair, dry, flaky skin, itchy scalp, matted hair, and... just another addition to the chain of hair breakage.


[The image above is of a pair of antique "Sheep Cards". Slaves often used Sheep Cards to try to straighten their hair, so that they would look like the Europeans. The result was actually, their scalp being slashed, as well as their hair being ripped out, which lead to infections in the scalp, due to the lack of hygiene. But they kept using it, regardless of the pain and damage, for centuries because of their desperation to have the so-called "good hair".]

There was a time (well, the last 400 years anyway) when Black people felt that they needed to 'fit in' with the Europeans. With out a good source of knowledge (and due to our demanding desire to look like our slave owners) we used very extreme methods to satisfy our own personal obsessions (that actually was the REASON for hair breakage, balding, and infections. Like using the "Iron Toothed Sheep Cards", Car Oil, etc).

I am sure that if C.J. Walker (and other famous black people for the black hair industry) knew that the reason they were rapidly balding, was because of the extreme methods that they used to try to straighten their heads, rather than just genetics. I am sure they wouldn't have continued searching for things to fix the problem of balding. But rather, they might of just STOPPED what was causing the problem in the first place and let their bodies heal themselves.

In our time, however, WE have absolutely no reason not to ask questions about what we are putting in to or on our bodies. Using resources like the library, asking questions to professionals, the internet and other forms of media, gives us the opportunity that our imprisoned (both physically and mentally) ancestors didn't have.


This isn't me trying to force you to go nappy. But rather me trying to show you the 'oxymoron' with using black hair care products.

Some good starter resources are:

*** You will notice, however, that a lot of resources state the obvious problems, yet... they still promote their own "so called" glorious products, which has their own side effects. (GREED is such a powerful temptation...)

Analyizing the 'Hair Relaxer' (part 1)

What does " Hair Relaxer" actually do?
Before answering the question. We need to take a good look at the structure of our hair and skin.

  1. Cuticle: Is the outer layer of the hair shaft. The cuticle is made up of layers of scales that interlock with the inner root sheath, to firmly latch it to the hair follicle. Healthy cuticle scales, will lie down smoothly and reflect the light. This is what gives the hair a lovely shine.
  2. Cortex: Is the bulk of the hair shaft. The cortex is made up of combined (or locked) groups of cells. Each group of cells contain particles of nutrients that gives the hair Strength and Elasticity.
  3. Medulla: The center or core of the hair shaft. Scientists are still unsure of its function but it is known that some people with fine hair, like nappy hair, don't have it.


Other areas to take note of are:
  • Melanin: Is contained in the cortex. It gives your hair an skin its color. The more melanin you have, the darker the tone.
  • Hair Follicle: Is at the base of the hair shaft. At the hair follicle, dead cells are compacted together and added to the base of the chain of grouped dead cells that make up the hair shaft and hair follicle.

  • Papilla: Is made mainly of connective tissue and capillary loop.
  • Hair Matrix: Is located around the papilla. The hair matrix is the actual location where there is cell division between the new arrived dead cells.

  • Sebaceous Glands: Are glands that produce Sebaceous oil, or your body's natural oil. Your body uses the Sebaceous oil to naturally condition your hair and skin.

So what is " Hair Relaxer"?

Relaxer is a form of creme, which is used to 'reform' the texture of a type of hair. It is usually used on tightly curly or kinky type hair. There are 2 types of chemical hair straighteners: Lye Hair Relaxer and "No-Lye" Relaxer

"No-Lye" relaxers contain Calcium Hydroxide, which is a colorless crystal (or power) chemical compound. The Calcium Hydroxide is a medium alkaline base substance that 'violently' reacts with acids and attacks metals in Water.

[Interestingly, the human body is made up of about 65% water. It also contains some form of metal substances and acids...]

"Lye" relaxers are a high alkaline base substance. That reacts more violently than 'no lye' relaxers.

I found this description of LYE quite interesting. Thought you might like to read about it:

" Many household products contain lye, the chemical sodium hydroxide. Lye is a caustic, alkaline chemical, which means it dissolves sticky substances like fat, and has a high degree of reactivity with other materials. Lye, in a flake, granular, or liquid form, is very dangerous and can cause damage to surfaces and people... Lye is created out of a chemical reaction between soda, known as sodium carbonate, and calcium hydroxide, or lime. In raw form, it's made into solid flakes, chips, or grains.

Chemical suppliers provide lye to manufacturers to make a wide variety of products, such as fabric, paper, personal soap, laundry detergent, pool-cleaning supplies, metal polishers, and drain de-cloggers.

Caustic lye products pose other dangers to surfaces. They can dissolve substances to your advantage, like hair clogs in a shower drain, as well as to your detriment, such as the adjacent shower curtain. In fact, lye can damage and corrode paint, metal, cloth, plastic, and especially skin. Lye can be so reactive that, in its solid form, it should be kept away from metals, such as aluminum, and the open air. It's usually non-combustible when dry, but could ignite when mixed with water and cause a fire."

[Taken from "What is Lye?"]

Interestingly enough. The 'No-Lye' active ingredient Calcium Hydroxide, is also used in drain de-cloggers, as well as hair removal cremes!

To see just how violent these substances react. Get a secure 'see-through' tube and bowl, and mimic a clogged drain. Use the drain de-clogging substance, and watch. Not only does the product unblock the clog... but it disintegrates the substance enough for the hair (or clog) to loosen up enough to continue moving through the drain pipe.

Hair remover cremes, aren't as concentrated enough to "disintegrate" your hair... but... it is concentrated enough to make your hair actually FALL OUT.

I find that kind of ironic, how we, black women, are always determined to find a way to make our hair grow longer, yet we put things in our hair that were originally designed to do the complete opposite.

I am sure that if the manufacturers actually renamed their "hair straightening" products as the "Hair Fall Out Formula That Has Been Less Concentrated", the millions upon millions of black people probably wouldn't be so eager to "fix" their "kink" problem.

"Its all about the marketing, baby."
Thats how drugs even more harmful than cocaine get sold in the medical industry!!!!!

{end part 1}

Monday, August 13, 2007


Q: My lil 8 year old son has excema; would this dry skin recipe work well for that skin condition? If so, what is and where does one purchase the comfrey?

A: For this particular situation. External treatments are not necessarily the best solution. It probably would be best looking into changing your diet or lifestyle. Changing your diet (or rather your son's diet) would be a form of treatment at the root source rather than treating the after results.

There have been cases, where people were diagnosis with an illness (including Excema) and decided to incorporate a larger amount of vegetables, fruits, water, and complicated grains in their diets, as well as cut out red meat, and lower their intake of meat and fish. The result for them was that their illnesses were cured.

When you incorporate more veggies, fruits, and complicated grains into your body, your body is given the ingredients it needs in order to create ITS OWN HOMEMADE treatment. Usually that treatment consists of a natural "detox".

When your body goes through "detox", it pushes out everything that it doesn't want. The result is first 2 to 3 months of your body going through a withdraw faze, since you no longer eat a lot of junk food. The other result is that your skin becomes radiant, your system internally has cleared FULLY up (and not drastically) so your organs begin to function correctly.

In my own personal case, I had not been menstruating for 3 years and my liver had a lot of damage. Not enough to operate, but enough for me to be screaming in pain once and a while. Since I became vegetarian (or eating an 80% non meat diet, while leaving 20% to fish and occasionally poultry), my body has balanced back and is going back to normal, and I am no longer in the pain that I use to be.

To add to my change of lifestyle, I am using natural cosmetics on my body. Its a slow conversation, but the result, my scars and blemishes are fading and my skin looks radiant and smooth (as well as soft... no make up required).

So to sum this up. In your case, changing your lifestyle to a much more healthier diet as well as incorporating external treatments (you use the external methods as an additional way of treatment rather than relying on it fully).

A: You can purchase the "comfrey" online. It probably would be better to order the "essential oil " from an online facility. If not fresh or dried herb leaves and root.

Good Resources to check out are:

(note: A RAW Foodist diet, is considered an extreme but gives you a good example on the effects)

[P.S. My apologies for the belated response.]

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Great Moments In Black Hair History: 1979

In the year 1979. The world was amazed, and African Americans were appalled, when Bo Derek appeared on the movie screen wearing a braided cornrow hair style.

For the rest of the world, it was a showed that anyone could wear that hairstyle, no matter what the color of the skin. For the African Americans, however, it symbolized the end of the 'Black Is Beautiful' movement... why???

Going back a few years, to the year 1963. The world, once again, was shocked or amazed over a hairstyle. This time, however, it was from seeing an African American woman, Cicely Tyson, wearing her hair natural on National TV.

During this time the world viewed black people, especially black woman, as ugly and not human. If an Black woman was seen walking down the street wearing her hair 'not straightened' she was automatically despised, not only by the European Americans but by the African American people as well.

Hatred towards an African American woman, was based off her appearance. She couldn't find a husband if her hair was not straightened. Nor could she get work... In magazines, newspapers, and posters. She was told over and over again, both by black and white people, that she needed to straighten her hair in order to appear beautiful.

For centuries, slave owners would purposely dehumanize the black woman. By referring to her hair as woolly (Like a sheep. Making her appear like animal), as well as using illustrations in newspapers and posters to show her as an ugly barbaric creature. The reason why they focused on the black woman, was because from her insecurities she would also pass on these thoughts to her children. Making sure generation after generation, her descendants would resent themselves.

And if a group of people are weak from their insecurities, it makes them easier to control...


For the first time in African American history, Cicely Tyson (a darker skinned African American Woman) wore her braids proudly on a national television show on CBS, East Side West Side.

The Black People... for a moment (in a sense) opened their eyes. They began to ask questions, research their history and then finally realized what they have being doing to themselves.

One of the most interesting movements in black history had finally arrived... the "Black Is Beautiful" movement.

The "Black Is Beautiful" Movement was a movement that was made to 'celebrate' the beauty of black people. By helping black people gain self confidence as well as show the rest of the world that black people are beautiful, as well as human.

The movement continued through out the 60's but new terms, symbols or meanings kept being added on to what 'going natural' meant. The once simple and peaceful movement eventually was morphed and run by extremists. The 'natural look' became incorporated with more violent actions and movements rather than remaining just a peaceful statement.

But by the 70's, the 'natural look' (mainly the afro) became just another hair style and no longer carried the strong political meaning that it once had. People of all races and cultures were getting a 'fro. In fact, they were desperately trying to get their hair permed, so that they could be able to 'fro up their hair.

The Afro became seen as comical. Jokes about people hiding objects in their afro, and other jokes constantly kept appearing through out different types of media. European Americans no longer felt a need to be threatened by seeing an Afro on a black person.

Cornrows and dreadlocks, however, still appeared as unprofessional and eccentric to the European Standards. Black Women, and black men, were being fired from their jobs for coming to work wearing locks or cornrows. White women, however, would go to work wearing their hair in cornrows and receive compliments about how 'cute' it looked on them. Double Standards began to control society.

So when Bo Derek fronted her cornrow hair style on "10" ( a movie by Blake Edwards: 1979), black people viewed it as an insult. Interestingly enough, the hairstyle Bo Derek decided to wear was very similar to what Cicely Tyson wore in 1963.

The "Black Is Beautiful" movement (in a faze) died. The African Americans forgot why they went natural in the first place (or never really understood) then realized that they wanted to go back to work again. In the 1980's they quickly grabbed their hair straightening chemicals or adopted a new kind of chemical to change the texture of their nappy hair to look once again 'professional' and 'beautiful' to the rest of the world.

... Enter the era of the Jheri Curl...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Analyzing A Statement

Straightened Hair
Straightened Hair
Nappy Hair Magazine
Nappy Hair

The famous claim is:

" Nappy hair is unmanageable and Straight hair is easier to maintain."

I decided to test that theory out... to see for myself if it was true or not.

Below are two charts that shows, on average, what a black woman usually spends on hair products, hair equipment, time with maintaining her hair, and visits to the hair salon. Please, compare:

[*Side Note: I do want to point out, the nappy hair product list is very short (it does NOT include afro sheen or any other crap). This is not an under estimate, this is really all that you need to maintain your nappy hair.

The stuff you see in the local store, or on black hair websites, are "unnecessary" products that have been promoted only to make a profit off of the "uninformed" people...

Most African Descendants (from all over the world, especially in the westernized countries) have generally forgotten how to take care of their own hair from years of oppression and insecurities.

So, the 'so-called' Black Hair industry uses that 'lack of knowledge' and insecurities to manipulate people into buying their useless products (that in the long run do more damage than good).

So please don't buy that crap. Just learn more about your hair and then, you'll see what I am talking about

To get a general idea we need to know the statistics...

75% of black women in America straighten their hair either with a 'relaxer' or a hot comb. Out of that 75%, about 65% of them wear weaves (extensions, pony tails, full headed weave, etc) as well as get their hair regularly straightened.

Here's a scenario...

Mary, goes to the hair salon every pay day (which is every 2 weeks). Out of the two visits of the month, she only gets her hair weaved once a month. The other visit, she gets her weave removed. Whilst she is there, she gets her regular hair 'touch up'.

For the rest of the month, she self styles her hair with her usual products (Shampoo, Oil Moisturizer, Gel, Spritz, Conditioner, Hair Grease, Setting lotion, Anti Frizz Spray, and curling papers). She usually runs out of her supply about every 2 months.

Mary already, spent $281.42 on her equipment. On her usual supplies she spends $36.32 every two months. On her regular hair salon appointments she spends $420 a month.

So, Mary averages out spending $5257.92 per year on... her hair???

Lets compare with Lisa, who has natural hair.

Lisa also goes to the hair salon twice a month, to get her hair twisted (double strains) for both visits. For the rest of the month, she self styles her hair. Lisa owns the basics as her equipment: two combs, spray bottle (that she fills with water), and a night scarf. She uses only Shea Butter, shampoo, and conditioner as her regular supplies. Lisa usually requires a refill of her products, every two months.

Lisa spent $13.89 on equipment, and each month she spends $110 at the hair salon, as well as $20.48 on supplies every two months.

Lisa ends up spending $1442.82 a year on her hair.

From getting those totals, it is obvious to assume that "Straightened Hair, not Nappy Hair, that is more unmanageable." Or harder to maintain because it averages taking the larger amount of time and money. This isn't to say that natural hair styles don't take a long time. The more eccentric a style the longer it takes to make, of course. But for this example, both the natural and straightened hair styles are fairly basic (e.g. Lisa usually braids back her hair into a cornrow style, while Mary curls her hair into a bobbed hair style).

In the end, however... Once you know and understand your hair, maintaining it would never be a problem. After researching all of this, I have come to realize that not only is the statement not true, but its actually more of a subtle cry of uncomfortably.

Most of us are uncomfortable to step outside the box for a change, which is normal... its human nature.

I hope that this will help you get a larger picture on seeing that going natural isn't as scary as it looks...


*On a Side Note: I can't help but think about all those women who have 'relaxed' and weaved their hair for 30 years or so. If they were any thing like Mary, that would mean that they have dumped a total of $157,737.60 (give or take a couple years of price inflation) on... their hair???

That's like a down payment on a house!!!!! ...Or in some places, thats 2 houses!!!!!

I also can't help but think about all those times when my mom, my sister, and I were short on cash. If I realized then what I know now, we wouldn't have had to struggle so hard.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Some more Recipes

For some requests. Here are some more herbal cosmetic recipes...

Herbal Cleansing Milk For Dry Skin

2 TBSP dried chamomile blossoms
2 TBSP dried rose petals
2 TBSP dried lemon balm leaves
2 TBSP dried calendula
2 TBSP dried comfrey
1 TBSP bee pollen
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup aloe vera gel
1/2 glycerin
2 TBSP honey
10 drops vitamin 'E' oil

[this recipe is good for 4 treatments]

Place the dried flowers and herbs and bees pollen in a 10 ounce (284 gram) glass jar with lid. Then, pour the boiling water into glass jar, cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain out herbs (use a cheese cloth or muslin bag for better results), reserving the liquid. Pour liquid into a blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Pour contains into a wide mouthed jar. Keep refrigerated; mixture will last for a week.

[for 'normal' skin types, replace the chamomile blossoms and lemon balm leaves with dried elder blossoms and dried lavender. Follow the same procedure as mentioned above]


Dandruff Oil Treatment

1/2 cup grapeseed oil
2 TBSP cornmeal
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 shower cap

Pour the grapeseed oil into a bowl, then add the cornmeal and vinegar.
Stir well to make a pastry oil.

How to use:

Rinse hair with warm water. Warm 1 TBSP of the oil mixture in the palms of your hands. Using your finger tips (not your nails!) in a circular motion gently massage the mixture into the scalp. Repeat until the entire scalp has been massaged. Place the shower cap over your head, and let it mix sit for 30 minutes. Rinse well, then shampoo as you normally would.

[ Recommend treatment to be used every other week or once a week. To prevent dandruff from ever starting]


Rosemary Water Rinse

Also a dandruff treatment. Use weekly.

1 cup of fresh rosemary
2 cups of boilling water

Place rosemary into a bowl, then pour boiled water over it. Let mix seep until it cools down, to lukewarm tempature.

After shampooing (and rinsing) the hair pour the mixture in the hair, massaging the mix through out the head. Rinse, then condition hair as usual.


A Personal 'Get Away' Bath

1 tbsp fresh rose petals
2 tbsp fresh comfrey (for aches and pain refief)
2 tbsp fresh elderflowers (1tbsp dred)
2 cups boiling water

Place the herbs into a 1-pint jar. Pour boiling water over the herbs and steep, covered, for 20 minutes to 4 hours (depending how strong you want the infusion to be). Strain liquid into the bath.

To Use:

Add mixture in to a tub half full of warm water. Relax in the tub for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water and pat dry.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Video: "Good and Bad Hair" (song)

This is a clip from the famous Spike Lee movie, 'School Daze'. The song is called Madame Re-Re's Salon~ 'Good Hair and Bad Hair'.

It shows in a few minutes, tunes and words a major ongoing issue Black people around the world is arguing about... even in this day. For over 300 years or so, we have argued about who's hair is better. From the beginning of an African American Child's life, even when the child is still in the mother's womb, the family argues over whether or not the baby is going to have supposedly 'good' hair (loosely curled/wavy and long hair, usually obtained by an individual of an interracial inheritance) or 'bad' hair (a constant referral of Nappy/Kinky hair, which is mostly found on an African or African descendant).
The overlooked fact is, the only type of 'good' hair, is hair that is healthily and 'bad' hair is hair that is balding, breaking or seriously damaged. Texture of the hair is NOT a way to define hair quality. In the end, your hair is your hair.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Run and Hide": My Naps' Story

At the age of 3. I remember trying to escape the clutches of my family's grip. At the end of every week, my mom, my sister, and my aunts spent the routine of chasing me down to get me to get my hair straightened.

" Latoya, come here!" They shouted.

"No!!" I screamed back.
Then kept running away from them, looking for a good place to hide.

"Don't you want to look beautiful?" "Don't you want your hair to look pretty?"

They said.

Feeling guilty and ashamed, I slowly walked back and sat in the chair prepared for me... then waited.

I held my breathe as the hot comb slowly passed my ears and neck. I squirmed as I felt the heat coming closer to my skin. The smell of burn hair passed by my nose and I started to become more nervous, as I began expecting the hot iron comb to burn me, on my neck, ear, scalp or forehead.

I shuffled in the chair and jerked quickly. I felt the hot iron burn me on my ear. Then, I screamed out in pain. I received a sharp and quick slap from a plastic comb, on my hand, then was told off for moving.

I held back my tears and waited, yet again but this time with my eyes tightly shut. I still could feel the heat of the comb, and could hear (as well as feel) the raking motions of the comb as it was coming closer towards my skin. I began wishing that it was over with. So that they could be satisfied, and maybe leave me alone to play. The heat crept near me and I quickly move away, then screamed out for a second time, as the hot iron burnt the back of my neck.


I eventually graduated (since my scalp wasn't so sensitive) from the "Hot Iron Comb" to the "so-called" light relaxer formula for young children.

My big sister reassured me that this would be much better, faster and easier than the hot comb. I began to believe that relaxers were a pain free way to making my hair look "pretty".

The reality, however, was quite different...
I remember crying because the chemicals were quickly burning my scalp. My sister tried to calm me by telling me just to "bare with it, just a little bit longer". I tightly grabbed hold of the chair arms and bit my lower lips. I tightly closed my eyes, held my breath and began kicking my feet at the air. The relaxer chemicals slowly absorbed into my scalp eating away at my hair follicle's cortex, skin and oil glands.

Water finally was splashed onto my head. I quickly assisted my sister with throwing the water, more quickly, onto my head. It took a while for the cool water (and neutralizing shampoo) to neutralize the relaxer.

When the burning finally stopped (note: I stayed under the water for quite a while afterwards) I began crying. I begged my sister, that I didn't want to ever do this again. She told me to wait and see what it looks like when its styled.

Hours later, after the conditioner, the trimming, the drying, the straight iron (for more of an effect) and curling iron, I finally saw the new me...

I ran my fingers through my new "pretty" hair, then said:

" I don't like it. I looks and feels weird."

My sister, reassured me, telling me that I looked "beautiful". Then she called my mom to come and see. My mom also told me about how "beautiful" I looked and they began taking pictures.
In school, the other black kids, began to compliment me (side note: these were the same 'fools' who cussed me out for have messy hair). It felt good, to be excepted... I guess. But the feeling was only temporary, because... my "real" hair grew, showing my nappy roots. I began to get bullied and teased, again.

I started to long to look like the other girls in school, on t.v., and on the "Just for Me" boxes. Every month (or so) the same torturous process of straightening my hair, continued. Eventually, my scalp got "somewhat" use to the chemicals and the process didn't hurt so much...
However, I couldn't scratch my head (at all) a few days before I planned to get my hair straightened or the burning would increase. (Also to keep looking "clean" I couldn't play like the other kids because I didn't want to get "messy hair")

Elementary, Middle and High School passed by over the years. By college, I found myself teasing other young black women in the similar way that I had been constantly teased. My friends and I use to make jokes about "messy haired" women and men. Any women who would walk down the street with their 'fro, we would look at them weird. Looking back at that, I think it was because I didn't feel comfortable about it.

I also started making statements like:

" The only person on EARTH that I'd allow to witness my messy hair, would be my husband. Even then, it would only be seen in private... not openly." My friends laughed and agreed with me."

Eventually I evolved into a "hair extension junky". I found that braided hair extensions (aka weaves) were way better than relaxers because they didn't burn my scalp. The only problem was that I spent HOURS getting my 'singles' put in. Later I got into braided extensions in styles like cornrows because it saved time. From there, I discovered 'invisible'. Occasionally between braiding my hair, I'd get my hair relaxed... to get rid of my naps. That pattern continued until I actually found and married my husband.


Ironically, my husband WAS THE FIRST person (other than my intermediate family) to see my "messy" hair. He also was, interestingly enough, the one determined to convert me to go 'natural'...

Every time I relaxed my hair... I got his look of disapproval. Every time I put extensions into my hair... I got his look of disapproval. 20 major arguments, later, I received the question that forever changed my way of thinking.


For such a deep (single word) question, I couldn't find an answer to really match it. I tried though...

"Because it looks good!" I said.
"Does it???" he paused. "And your natural hair doesn't??"
"No... its messy and unmanageable!" I said.
" Why do you think that?" he paused, then said. " Have you ever let your hair go completely natural?" (referring to growing the relaxer out) "Have you ever asked some one how to maintain it?" "How do you know its unmanageable?"

I huffed, then said,
" Just leave me alone. Its MY hair and my body. I can do what I want with it!!!!"
" Actually, its OUR body, because your my wife and I don't think it looks 'right' on you. Black women were meant to wear their natural hair!" he said.

[Silence... then a glare]

"Its MY hair on MY head... and I like it!!!" I said.

" Why??"

... "Its professional looking. I can't get a job with nappy hair!" I replied.

"How do you know? And by whose standards??" He said. " I see other black women wearing their naps, at work. So... what are you talking about...?"
" Good for them." I huffed.
" Yeah, really." He replied.


Of course, I got really fed up with this conversation. So eventually, I gave in. We have been married for almost 4 years. Out of that time, it took me about 2 1/2 years to finally get it... even though, a year after we got married, I gave in and went nappy.
If you remember I went "Nappy" for HIM... not for ME and honestly, there's a big difference in that.
In my mind, when I first went nappy, I couldn't "carry off" wearing my own nappy hair. After a while, from insecurities and frustration, I tried to relax my hair again.

Lets analyze why, for a moment:

At this point I had a head full of hair follicles that were half nappy (at the roots and base) and half fried (from permanently being chemically fried from relaxers). The result! I was in a state of "nap limbo".

*Note: the 'nap limbo' stage is actually the faze where MOST previous 'relaxees' run away from going back to being natural. You'll usually hear the transitionist complain about their hair being easily tangled, overly frizzy, and 'unmanageable'. Most assume that, this is what REAL NAPPY HAIR IS like and run quickly back to chemicals (like, a frightened junky running back to drugs after attempting to get clean).

The reality is, your head and hair are going through a physical 'withdrawal' faze. Your oil glands (depending on how long you relaxed your hair) have been damaged and are trying to repair themselves. Which is why the hair is overly frizzy. Your hair is tangled because your hair is mixed with two VERY different types of hair. The best thing to do is actually just cut it off...


... or put extensions in and wait for your hair to grow longer, before cutting off the "fried" hair.

At that time (I believed that my hair was unmanageable) and acted like the scared junky and quickly grabbed what ever relaxer I could find...

[oops, bad move]

So, what happens when relaxer goes on a head full of fresh 'new growth' hair?

Imagine that some one has just set your hair on fire, then forced you to sit and wait, as the fire burns your hair and head. Not this is not an over exaggeration!


The burning came almost instantly! I screamed! I cried! I screamed some more. Then, my husband ran into the bathroom, thinking that I was dying or something. He had to virtually lift me into the shower, and help me wash out the chemicals. I cried out:

"Get it off of me, get it off!"

It took a long time for me to stop crying. As it neutralized and it was washed out, my husband started asking me:

" Why or how could you possibly believe, that I would be happy watching you go through this, just to look good?"

He stormed out of the bathroom angry and I took a long look at myself in the mirror. It didn't look right... me with my 'new' head of hair. I couldn't help but think that I just "refried" my hair. My scalp still stung and my 'new' look came off as synthetic rather than 'pretty'. From that moment on, I decided never to put that crap on my head ever again.

Ironically, I felt like I couldn't carry off wearing my 'relaxed' hair and began hiding my chemically fried hair under scarfs, hats, and braids. When my naps grew long enough, I quickly cut my fried hair off and tossed the hair into the trash.

A year and a half later, here I am. With BEAUTIFUL & MANAGEABLE black nappy hair. In fact, my hair now is WAY easier to take care of than my previous relaxed hair.


Please leave your comments, if you have any but mainly...
Please leave YOUR NAPS' STORIES,
if you have any...


I'd like to hear them.

Favorite Quotations: James Solomon

" I began to see magazine pictures of people with these big Afros. You can't imagine what it was like when you were brought up all your life to think something is your primary aesthetic and then you see the cover of Ebony with this person with puffed-out nappy hair. It was a strange feeling because part of me was like ' Should I like this?' and the other part of me said, ' Boy, I really like this!' It was like a natural supercharge."

- James Solomon, reflecting on his memories in 1968, when he was still stationed in the U.S. Army base in Germany.

Solomon also stated that he thought the Afro style was " more than anything else representing the opening of information of what Black people were doing."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oh, Shea... Shea

Shea is a tree that is native to Africa (occuring in the regions of Mali, Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Burkina, Faso, Uganda, and Cote d'lvoire). From the Shea Tree is harvested Greenish/Ivory colored Shea Fruit, also called nut, contains a seed from which shea oil is extracted (as well as what "Shea Butter" is formed) from.

For centuries, on the wooded savanna, Shea Butter has been used by the locals. Its been incorporated into the history and culture of Africans. Shea butter was used as a drum conditioner, for the wood shell of the drum and the animal skin head of the drum. And even, funeral beds of Kings were carved out of old fallen Shea Trees.

To add to its history, "Shea Butter" has wonderful natural qualities, such as being used as: a decongestant, an inflammatory, relief for muscle sprains and arthritis pains, lamp fuel, hair and skin care, and even cooking oil.

In regards to skin care, Shea butter is known for being a moisturizer, as well as being effective for fading scars, healing eczema, acne, blemishes, dark spots, patches, stretch marks, and even wrinkles. Shea butter also provides a natural UV sun protection, ranging from none (the refined) to SPF 6. It is not recommended to be used as sun protection for individuals with sensitive skin.

In our modern era, however, Shea Butter, has been manufactured quite different than the tradional ways in ancient africa. These days, there are two different forms or processes of Shea Butter. The first is called "Refined Shea Butter". In this process, the Shea Fruit is bleached and "refined" by using several chemicals, like: Hexane (which is an alkane hydrocarbon, which is used with organic manner, due to them being nonreactive. Interestingly enough, it is also found in gasoline and in glue, that is used for shoes.), fillers, pesticides, and preservatives. Because of this "refining" process, the "Shea Fruit" looses all of the nutrients and benefits that it had originally. So the manufacturers add MORE chemicals and synthetic "nutrients" (that don't even really come close to the natural benefits) to make their product work.

The second process, on the other hand, is called "Certified Organic Unrefined Shea Butter". This process is free of use of pesticides, preservatives, and Hexane. The life of the product is shorter due to the lack of preservatives, and it is also more pricey. But consider this good, for two reasons:

  • One- its decomposing the way it is suppose to, which is always good.
  • Two- you pay more now, but pay less in the long run, due to it being healthier and safer, think of all the hospital bills that you'll save on.

Most Shea Butter that you find on the shelf, sadly is "Refined Shea Butter". The manufacturers add a bit of fuller's clay and use a vacuum extraction process, to get rid of the gross smell created from the mixed chemicals...

... Apparently, the smell is that "Nasty" that the manufacturers are willing to spend a few hundred dollars to hide the stench from their customers, consumers, and the occasional FDA agent, that just happened to stop by.

The "organic Shea Butter's" aroma disappears quickly, but it absorbs (smooth like 'butter') into the skin.

You might want to make up a personal home experiment project. Take two samples from your local department store (from the cosmetic section), one of "refined" and the other "unrefined", and see for yourself what the difference is.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Home Style Cosmetic Recipes...

Buttermilk & Fennel Seed
Skin Cleanser

(Note: This is a good cleanser that is meant for people with 'oily skin'. Fennel seed is a strong astringent and will cause over drying or irritation on people with normal and dry skins.)

1/2 cup of Buttermilk
1 tbsp of fennel seeds

Place the buttermilk into a double boiler and heat them gently for 30 minutes. Cool and leave to stand for 2 hours. Strain. Pour the buttermilk into a clean, sterilized jar. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

[Taken from "A Dash Of Spice" by Kathryn Hawkins & Gail Duff]


Honey Water After Shave

This makes a soothing and refreshing aftershave
This is a variation of the recipe created by George Wilson (an apothecary to James II, 1685-88, of England).

1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup hot water

1/2 orange-flower
4 tbsp vodka
4 drops coriander oil
4 drops musk oil
4 drops juniper oil
4 drops vanilla oil

Put the honey into a large jug and pour hot water over. Stir until the honey has dissolved. Leave until quite cold. Add the orange-flower water, vodka, and essential oils. Pour the water through a funnel into a dark bottle. Cover and shake well.

[Taken from "A Dash Of Spice" by Kathryn Hawkins & Gail Duff]


Facial Scrub
Do not use if your skin is very sensitive.

1 tbsp ground oatmeal

1 tbsp ground dried lavender blossoms

1 tbsp ground thyme leaves

1 tbsp ground almonds

4 drops lemon essential oil

Grind all dry ingredients finely and mix until uniform. Add essential oil and mix well. Store in a glass container. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons with enough water to make a paste. Gently massage into skin and rinse thoroughly.
[Taken from "E Audry"]

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Nappy Hair Care...

African hair, even though beautiful when natural, has to go through different routines to keep it well maintained. African hair is actually the most driest hair, out of all hair types. And don't be fooled by its amazing thickness, African hair follicles are also the thinnest.

Most don't realize that when we relax our hair, it actually weakens are hair even more. Relaxing the hair also reduces the scalp from naturally producing its own natural oils. Eventually (at some point) we end up with split ends, due to continuous use of chemicals. Which leads us to grab more chemicals and products to fix the problems that we already created... After fixing the "split end" damages, we continue the cycle all over again.

Hot irons and curling at the end of the hair, also leads to breakage. To add to this, kinky hair is also very prone to quickly be tangled. Pulling these tangles out, ALSO leaves to breakage...

So the question... How do we maintain African Hair?

1. Firstly, ignore anyone who claims that you should wash your hair two or three times a week! Our hair is already dry, and only needs (at least) to be washed once a week.

2. Next, after washing your hair. Begin to comb your hair when it is wet (Gently! Remember, our hair is weak) to get the tangles out. Do this (with a wide tooth comb) when you have your deep hair conditioner. Comb your hair for a few minutes, letting the conditioner get to all parts of the hair, before rinsing out the conditioner.

3. Pat your hair dry, until almost dry (still damp. So that you can lock in more moisture), with a towel. Then oil your hair (Not the scalp! You don't want to clog up your pores on your scalp). When oiling the hair, place the oil (preferably Shea Butter) at the bottom of the hair strands. Then, using a wide toothed comb, comb your hair gently. Spreading the oil along the hair strands.

4. Section it and plait it before going to bed. This will reduced tangles when you wake up in the morning. It also helps to keep your hair moisturized.

5. Wrap it up in a silk or satin head scar. And sleep with your head wrapped.

6. When you wake up the next morning to style your head, a good tip would be massaging your scalp with your finger tips. This will help to activate your oil glands. Your body's own oil supply is always better than anything you can purchase in the store.

7. Don't be too dependent with using oil moisturizers. They clog up your pores, and the contain chemicals (like fragrances) that tend to dry out your head. Oil moisturizers are a good quick fix, if you forgot to oil or tie up your hair the night before. But don't rely on them. A good leave-in conditioner is better to have.

8. Another good tip is using a rosemary rinse (mentioned in my previous article... "What do you know about your Rosemary") every other week, can help prevent you developing dandruff.

9. Try to avoid petroleum base or Vaseline base hair food products. They actually block your pores... which is something you don't want.

10. If you exercise regularly, make sure to rinse the salt out of your hair (collected from sweating), and put in a deep conditioner.

To Hemp or Not to Hemp?????

So Yesterday I talked about the benefits of rosemary. But do you know of another "miracle" plant?? This particular one, is probably the greatest one, because it can do so much for you.


You might have been wondering, why every one has been turning into a sober version of a "weed head". Hemp has been popping up every where. Hemp is in food, in clothes, and in cosmetics. Hemp is also now used for Fuel, in paints, in cleaners and even being used for building constructions. Why??? Here are some reasons:

  • Foods
Hemp contains a balance of nutritional benefits, making hemp the world’s premier food source. Hemp seeds have fiber, protein and essential fatty acids (EFAs).

  • Fuel
If the government would allow it. If we planted at least 6% of the continental U.S. This could satisfy all America's energy needs. Hemp is Earth's number-one biomass resource; it is capable of producing 10 tons per acre in four months. Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol, or gasoline at a cost comparable to petroleum, and hemp is much better for the environment. Hemp can produce 10 times more methanol than corn. Hemp fuel burns clean. Petroleum causes acid rain due to sulfur pollution.The use of hemp fuel does not contribute to global warming.

  • Clothing and Textiles

Hemp is the standard fiber. It is know for its strength and durability. The latest fad these days, is mixing the hemp fibers in with other fibers. Like, hemp silk, hemp cotton, or hemp wool. Hemp is taking the fashion industry over by storm. More and more, people have discovered that hemp blended materials are stronger and longer lasting than that average polyester blend or even 100% cotton blend. Products range from rope to fine laces to dynamite to Cellophane!

And what use does it have regarding cosmetics??? Hemp Oil provides your skin with 3, 6, and 9 nutrients (omega)...

Hemp is truly amazing (inside and out)... In fact, if your planning to become more ECO friendly. You should join the "HEMP MOVEMENT", which is basically taking out the harmful chemicals and poor fabric, and replacing it with hemp in your regular shopping list.

For more information, check out: http://students.ou.edu/W/Elicia.A.Wallach-1/hempcopy1.htm

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Did you know???

Did you know...

... that "Animal Amniotic Liquid" (or the fluid that surrounds and protects a cow or ox fetus) is used in moisturizers and shampoos. It has been heavily praised for protein and vitamins. Cattle, ox or swine brain cells are also used in moisturizers.

Don't forget that...

  • Fish scales are used in some glittery eye shadow...
  • "Live" Sheep cells are in antiaging skin treatments...
  • Beetle Carapace (the shell of a beetle) is used in red lipstick. The beetle shell is a source of carmine.
How does this slide, you ask...

The author (Rona Berg) of "Beauty, the new basics" wrote:
"... the FDA spends only about 1% of its budget on monitoring the entire beauty industry, the industry remains largely self-regulated."

This means that fish scales and animal cells are the least of your worries. There are chemicals after chemicals placed into our daily cosmetics. Not only are these chemicals harmful to your skin. But they are harmful to the inside of your bodies, too. "What goes on your skin, goes into your blood stream..."

A good motto to follow, should be:
" If you can't eat it, then you wouldn't want it on your skin..."


I'm a soldier,
Thou I'm not in green.
I'm a soldier,
This is what it means.

is my constant eniemy.

my, Struggle...
is a battle made for me.

A war. A battle.
that seems to never end.
A war. A battle,
I will fight you until the end.

A soldier,
that fights to be free.
Of a battle. A battle,
inside of me.

What do you know about your rosemary????

Hey here's a little bit of a "brain refresher" for you... What can rosemary do for you???

Apparently, rosemary is one of those miracle plants. Placing rosemary, honey, and hot water together (making a rosemary tea), helps to naturally relieve Headaches. Also in the Middle ages, rosemary was believed to help you improve your memory. Which would explain the reasons why rosemary was placed on graves for remembrance, and also would explain why Ophelia (from Shakespeare's Hamlet) said, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."

It is also good to place fresh rosemary in boiled water, and have a towel hanging over the back of your head, so that you can take in the steam. This helps your pores get rid of excess dirt. Also, fresh rosemary and hot water can be used as a rinse (through your hair) to help prevent dandruff.

Even though rosemary is so convent, large quanities of it, because it may cause seizures in otherwise healthy adults or children, if over dosed. Rosemary in culinary or therapeutic doses is generally safe, however precaution is necessary for those displaying allergic reaction, or those prone to epileptic seizure.

For more information about Rosemary, check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary

Lets Go Natural, People!!! (My Introduction)

A lot of people don't understand my joy, I guess. Its 2007 and STILL having nappy hair isn't excepted in society... I find that strange.

I notice the looks that I get from various people. The uncomfortable look, of a lack of understanding. Perhaps you know what I am talking about. Where people think your appearing too PROUD for wearing your own hair... or having, even, a confident attitude.

Whats amazing is that these LOOKS mostly come from my fellow African Americans... NOW THAT IS STRANGE...

So what IS wrong with me wearing my hair, the way it naturally grows? And whats wrong with having a content attitude?

I feel really good going natural. In fact, I feel SO MUCH MORE CONFIDENT, these days, that I am finding that I prefer more things in my life to be natural and healthy (beauty products, food, etc) rather than the " popular and excepted".

So what is the "Popular and excepted"? The "popular and expected" are the ones without questions. Its like me following a mass of people jumping off of a jagged cliff edge without ever asking the question... why?!

For Example:

We live in a society, where the moment "iphone" came out, thousands of people ran out to buy a $600 phone (on top of paying the extra fee, to end their previous contracts) to join a crappy network (AT&T).

What happened to asking questions and finding the logic in our actions?

If those same people waited before acting, they might have actually thought:

"Hmmm, the life expectancy of a phone is around 6 months to a year. Would it really be wise for me to spend, roughly $1100 on a phone that hasn't worked out its problems yet? As well as, go to an unreliable network, just because, I want the latest (not necessarily the greatest) phone. Am I really not satisfied with having a $400 ipod and a $399 blackberry????"*

Just like our methods with purchasing luxury items. Our methods of treating our bodies, are (in my opinion) worse!

Our hair and appearance says a lot about an individual. Everyday, women put themselves through horrible forms of toucher, just to look beautiful (like relaxing their hair). Personally... I find that looking beautiful for being natural, is more sufficient than getting liposuction...

This is a blog about being Natural (no matter your skin color) and showing off your naps (if you have any). Lets us try something different. Especially in a time when everyone is becoming health conscious. Why not allow our eyes to open up a bit more, so that we see that its not only fruits and vegetables that we need to be adding to our lives.

Lets try to evolve into being a more NATURAL SOCIETY...

Please feel free to email me photos, of hair styles and looks or messages...

Lets spread the word...

*Every year, in America, millions throw away millions of dollars, just because the magazines, TV, and radio (don't forget billboard, etc.) said that we should buy it!!!! MOST of those products or purchases were totally unnecessary. In fact, if the products were cosmetics and food, a lot of the items we pick out are actually damaging. Without really stopping and thinking about it, we buy it! And MAYBE regret it later...

{P.S. if your heart is set on purchasing the new "iphone", try waiting 6 months. Like every cell phone thats ever existed, the rates or prices drop, incredibly. Thats also around the time when you see the contract bargains, for giving the phone away for free or to sell the phone for a third of its original cost. A good example of phone prices being cut, would be the "T-Mobile Side Kick". In the end of the day, are you really more interested in buying a cell phone that will last you 6 months to a year, or putting $1100 to something else?}