Integrity and Your Hair


I’ve come to realize that due to any number of variables , we may often make choices that reflect a lack of integrity when it comes to doing what’s best for our hair and ourselves.  There are times when we know in our hearts that it’s time for a change, an adjustment, or a new look or different way.  Instead of facing this internal  dialogue, we ignore it, knowing that each day of doing so is robbing us of some fundamental sense of peace.

I recently experienced this phenomenon.  For the first time in many years I am wearing my own hair minus Locs or extensions, just my own hair out.  It’s definitely a new experience and I am still adjusting to it.  One day I decided that wearing my own hair wasn’t giving me that “Wow Factor”.  I decided then and there that I had to buy some hair that would give me a bigger more commanding presence.  And we all know that true presence comes from within.  That aside, I was on a mission to acquire this new hair.  I ordered the hair and at first I felt a sense of relief, but not long thereafter I noticed a sadness and an internal discomfort as I contemplated what I was about to embark on.  I was about to have all this hair (and there’s nothing wrong with that) except that I really wasn’t in the mood for extensions and a lot of hair.  Still, I was going to go against my gut and get this hair so that I would have what I considered the, “Wow Factor”.

I’m the first to admit that when it comes to hair, as the saying goes, “It’s just hair”.  But then sometimes it can be deep.  I could feel something was not right.  I could not shake the feeling that I was out of integrity with myself and I wondered, “Why do you think that you’re going to be somehow more beautiful or satisfied when you add this hair to your head”?  One thought lead to another and before I went to bed that night I had come to peace with what was real for me at this time.  I decide that right now, I ‘m just not in a place where I would feel true to myself if I added this hair to my head believing that it somehow would make me feel more beautiful.  So in the morning I changed  my appointment to receive again the style I have been wearing and I immediately felt a lightness, a sigh of relief.   Don’t get me wrong, I still have the hair I ordered in my drawer at work and when the time is right, I will pull it out and use it, but I know in my heart that now is not that time.  Right now I’m still rocking my A-Nu “Fro, loving it and feeling true to myself.

Here are some indicators of when we’re out of integrity with our hair-self or ourselves:

  • We continue to wear a style despite the fact that the style is damaging our hair in some way – thinning the hair line, dry and brittle from over processing with color, pulling the hair out from the roots, Locs too long and heavy
  • We convince ourselves that this one style is the only one that we look good in
  • We want a change but fear we won’t be accepted by a loved one, co-workers, relatives or ourselves
  • We’re simply afraid of change
  • Your Stylist keeps suggesting something more appropriate and you keep putting it off
  • We don’t take the time to explore other options
  • We continue to invest in a style that stresses our budget – there are less expensive options you can discuss with your stylist

This was an enlightening experience for me, one that has given me some insight into what’s in my head about my hair.  Tell me, what’s in your head about your hair?

30 responses to this post.

  1. Hey Anu, it’s been a long time, you wrote in a lovely way about your journey. I’m pretty happy: my hair is mildly relaxed, just enough to stay soft and loose no matter what I’m doing, but still in an curly fro. And I’m happy and relaxed enough that I’m actually taking better care of it, and have gotten used to braiding it at night, conditioning, and just generally really enjoying it…
    Your indicators are so right! I’ve had most of them. So, it was clearly the right move for me to drop the extensions and whatnot, and relearn the feeling of my own hair.



  2. Yup, still here, 13 years now. there are a few places that cater mostly to Japanese people who want Black hair styles. There’s one place in town that I’ve been to that focuses on African hair, run by somebody from Queens, if you can believe it! They’re very nice, and they do a good job – it’s called Room 806 in Roppongi.

    and there are some options in this post as well:

    I’m not that interested in ‘getting my hair done’, am pretty much a DIY person – a friend from the base got me a few boxes of mild relaxer, and I’m probably set for another 2 years, I think. But other folks have braids, cornrows, and straight hair, and if they do need help, it’s available.


  3. This is so true. We let our hair rule our lives. If you ask me forget about that hair in your drawer, I LOVE your short nappy do. It’s cute and allows your beautiful skin to show.


  4. Posted by Celeste on October 31, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Anu,
    That is the very reason I stopped wearing my weave after 3 years. I knew something was wrong when I truly began to feel as if my longer hair made me more beautiful, that I “needed” it to be truly fabulous. I was so stressed over thinking about my hair that the very stress indicated to me that yes, something was wrong with my outlook. Taking it out and wearing my hair, short, non blowing in the wind, same ol mousy brown, has been the liberating experience that I needed to get back to the real me. Yes, it’s an adjustment and like you I may go back one day, but for now I am embracing the inner and the “real” me. WHen I go back, it will be for a change of pace, something different and not to try to find something that is missing in me. Thankfully, I found out that most of the time what’s missing isn’t found in that plastic bag 🙂


  5. Posted by Ms. Ruth continues.. on November 1, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I hope I didn’t loose you. My computer flipped out…
    I think I was saying that the (hair extensions artist, possibly un-beknowst to them, became the sellers of ton of plastic fiber /synthetic hair). The manufacturers saw this movement and began to investigate its origin.
    Wigs and Weaves Division: These manufacturers saw a desire for a new type of look among their black consumers.
    They wanted a more textured and natural look. This idea was designed and the consumers purchased it. Creativity was already designed into the product, therefore it took less time to achieve. As a braider and natural hair artist, when the creativity was taken away, I became a sales person of a product, this was never my intention.
    I still get excited when I see the young (baby) sisters with the beautiful cornrow styles in your wedding section. These were styles that were fueled by black creativity and pride, two joys. The new trends crossed-over, intermingling with each other and were fueled by mechanics (industry). Product manufactures rule the trend more so now then racism. We just have to remember the golden rule, “The One With The Gold, Rules”, that’s us.
    Like you Anu, I have worn my hair in some form of natural or extension for over thirty years. When I choose to wear my own hair it is because I am sometimes just sick and tire of hair as a focus and want a breath of freedom. The type of freedom that kisses me. As black women we own our industry, even if the products that we use are not manufactured by us. Today my hair is all mine and natural. But tomorrow, Hell, just because I can, I may go out and get a weave, like Housewives of Atlanta, blond on the top and all, just to celebrate my freedom to be me any kind of way I want to be. Maybe I’ll buy me some Beyonce Hang-Down Hair and make a white-girl jealous. It fells good to be free and out of the hair-do hang-up box.. I don’t want to be suppressed in any type of way by a hair-do… Luv Ruth


  6. Peace and Blessings Sister Anu,

    I’m a Natural Hairstylist in Chicago. You have been a great inspiration to me over the years and I just wanted to drop you a note, to thank you ,for your dedication to maintaining the integrityand professionalism of the Natural Hair Industry.

    I will be in NY this weekend for the Oraje show, I look forward to getting the opportunity to meet you.


    • Hi Shavon,

      Thank you for the accoladesI look forward to meeting you on Sunday. And perhaps you’ll sign up for the class I’m teaching. See you then. Travel safe!


  7. Posted by Tonya on November 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Are they any recommended handling instructions when using the gypsy curl hair? When hair orders are shipped is there an email notification sent?



    • Hi Tonya,
      I’m told you already spoke with our Manager, Taeisha. There are no instructions sent. However, your Stylist is welcome to call us. Using the hair the way we use it requires hands on training or coming up with your own unique technique.

      An email is sent out once your purchase has been processed.


      • Posted by Tonya on November 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm

        Thanks for responding Anu, however, there must have been a miscommunication, because I did not speak with anyone at your salon regarding handling instructions. I asked in the comment section when I placed the order and sent and email but I never received a response until now from you.


  8. Posted by Celia on November 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Dear Anu,

    I gotta’ tell you I LOVE YOUR NU FRO!!!!! I have been relaxing my hair for the past 32 years. I am soooooo tired of it!! It’s been going on so long that I don’t know how to care for my natural hair now. I am trying to transition out of my relaxer (it’s been 4 months since my last retouch) but I am afraid to go for the BIG CHOP. But, looking at your Nu Fro style gives me inspiration and hope that I can accomplish a similar look. I am beginning my journey, searching for that part of me that has been lost all these years. I want healthy hair that reflects who I am, not who others think I should be. I am doing as much reading and research on natural hair care as I can and thoroughly enjoy your Ask Anu posts and archives. I am having difficulty finding natural stylists in my area of South Jersey to guide me through this transition process. Do you have any suggestions or tips that could help ?
    Thanks : )


    • Hi Celia,
      Congratulations! You’ve already come so far down the road to this new journey. It is so much easier when you have the support of professionals who can help you through the transition. But not everyone has that option. In the meantime, you might consider taking a trip to a salon outside of your local area. You might consider Philly if you don’t want to come all the way to New York.

      In terms of tips, I need to know more about what you’re trying to achieve? Are you styling your own hair or looking for a way to wear it? Give me more details about what you’d like to achieve and we can go from there.

      And Thank you for the compliment. I’m loving my A-Nu ‘Fro too.


  9. Posted by Celia on November 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Dear Anu,
    Thanks for your quick response! To answer your questions, I’m looking for a quick easy style I can do myself. I currently don’t have a stylist, and since I had relaxed hair for so long I have to re-learn how to care for and style my hair from the basics. I have hair that is more kinky than curly, dry, thin above the temples, and damaged from the years of relaxers. I have recently been using WEN by Chaz Dean. I like the Fig conditioning cleanser because it is sulfate free and use the Fig hair oil. I’m trying to use natural products as much as possible because I truly believe they are best for the hair structure rather than multi-chemical formulas that will simply coat the hair shaft rather than improve the hair texture and strength. Also, I like to cleanse my hair at least twice per week to avoid build up and encourage new growth. I hope that’s starting in the right direction! I have been doing a 2-strand twist on perm rods because of my relaxed ends. This gives me a few stying options. I might have 2 inches of new growth but overall lenght is about to the base of my neck. Part of me wants to go with the BIG CHOP, but I don’t know if I can handle my hair being that short! (In other words, I’m scared!). Should I continue to transition for more length or would that encourage more damage because of the relaxed ends?
    Maybe I will plan to extend my journey, and come to New York (soon!) !



  10. Hi Anu:

    You gave me some advice earlier, and as I continue to go through the site, and this section of posts in particular, I’ve read comments from people who are at all stages of their hair journey, including a post from someone who is just where I am! I have a couple more questions I am seeking advice on.
    It’ll be my first time braiding my hair for many many years (and the first time braiding it with the purpose of transitioning). Can you please tell me what type of extensions I should use – human vs synthetic – especially since I neither want nor need anything fancy. I still want to be able to put my hair in a ponytail when I’m swimming or working out.
    Secondly, I’ll be vacationing in D.C. for Christmas. Can you recommend any salons that I can visit, where a true professional can educate me about the tools I’ll need during the braided to natural tresses process, since I haven’t yet built the courage to cut my hair down to the natural growth.
    Again, thank you so much Anu, for your time and guidance.


    • Hi Jo,

      Please excuse the delay in getting back to you. I did not receive any notice of your posting. Since you mentioned swimming, synthetic hair is the only option as far as extensions are concerned. Human hair would swell because of the water and slip out. It would be a waste of time and money to get human hair.

      Synthetic hair is like Tupperware. It will hold the weave of the braids and remain the same despite exposure to moisture or water.

      The only place I know of in DC is Cornrows and Company. I suggest you seek other options as well in the even that they are unable to accommodate you.

      All the best,


  11. Posted by rhonda on November 16, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Anu
    I have been natural for 3years or more now.I know waht you saying because I use to let being a slave to the relaxer rule me I got tired of the curling iron &blow dryer,I have had long, short & meduim. I just got to the point where enough is enough I love my natural hair.I just need to get a conditioner for my dry end due to color. I’m just not ready to go gray at this time.What do you suggest for
    colored natural hair.



  12. Hi Anu:

    Thanks again for your advice. Hopefully this will be the start of a new lease on life for my hair!


  13. Posted by rhonda on November 23, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Anu

    I love your new hair style ANU Frocan you tell me what it takes to get this style . As I have stated before my Sister owns a Salon in Tucson,Az. I want to sport this new look of yours cause I’m into the natural look.



    • Thank you Rhonda,

      The A-Nu ‘Fro is styled with the Starter Loc style. And then each twist is separated into four or five separate pieces multiplying the number of curls, four fold.


  14. Posted by rhonda on November 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm



  15. Posted by Andrea on December 1, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Dear Anu,

    I emailed this over to Khamit Kinks and have yet to receive a reply. I know you’re very busy but I was hoping you could please help me?

    Hi, my name is Andrea and I am looking for a place to teach a little bit more about Locs. I have been twisting my boyfriend’s locs for about 6 months now (it is down his waist). I learned to twist mostly by trial and error. It’s been working out okay, but lately I have been worried that I may be doing something wrong that I don’t know about. (His new growth isn’t locing well – I am unsure if it’s because of its length or otherwise.)

    Anyway, I would like to take a class to teach me to twist and maintain locs correctly. I am not a stylist or anything. (Just a girl trying to take care of her boyfriend’s hair. Haha.) So I am not sure if signing up for your seminar would be exactly right for me – is there any way you could help me out? Maybe I could sign up for a private class? Or perhaps bring my boyfriend in and I could learn with a Loctician?

    Alex, my boyfriend, used to see Nene at your store. He definitely needs a professional maintenance appointment as well.

    Thank you!


    • Dear Andrea,

      Unfortunately, you would not qualify to take our seminar classes. They are for professional Hair Stylist. And learning while our Stylist grooms your boyfriends hair, is not an option. If his Locs are to his waist, he should continue doing what he did to get to this point.


  16. Posted by rhonda on December 2, 2009 at 7:54 am

    hi anu i have asked question nov. 23&24 .WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET THE ANU FRO AND WHAT IS THE UP KEEP I WANT TO SPOR THIS LOOK REAL BAD!!!!!!!!!!!


  17. The A-Nu ‘Fro starts out as Starter Locs. Those curls are then separated to give you a fuller. When you wake up in the morning you can use a pick to lift the roots to even your hair out or you can finger-comb it to give it the shape you prefer. You can use leave in conditioner along with Khamit Kinks Hair Oil to keep the hair moisturized and that all it takes. Depending on the texture of your hair the style can last anywhere from two to five weeks.


  18. Posted by Nadine on March 20, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Dear Anu,
    I can relate to quite a few of the comments. I am also in a transition phase. I have been wearing the Goddess Braids the last year as a way to keep the hair following total knee replacement. I am doing welI since the surgery the Grace of the Lord. I took the last Braids out about a month ago and went to my beautitian who deep conditioned and blow dryed the hair. I am not pleased with the hair it has thinned and the top of my head very thin. I would also like to mention he used a PCJ children’s texturizer on Sept. 30 2009 and blow dried it and then I put the Goddess Braids which I kept in for about 8 weeks. I am undecided as to what I should do next. I love the Flat Twist with 2 strands as I also want my own hair to grow and strengthen once again. The hair is shoulder lenght but thin. I purchased Carol’s Elixir etc but have not used it. I want healthy looking natural hair once again. Did I mention my hair is Salt and Pepper beautiful. I am open to your suggestions. Please help because it does affect your psyche. I am so pleased with your website and have thoroughly explored the hair styles/products/questions and comments. I would like to thank you for insightful information. Be Blessed and keep sharing with us ways to stay natural and love it. Look forward to your response.


    • Dear Nadine,
      It sounds like years of perming may have caught up to you. In addition to relaxers, as we get older our hair just doesn’t bounce back the way it used to. It grows slower and has less tolerance for abuse. I suggest that you not use any more relaxer on your hair, even if it says it’s for children. It’s still a chemical that’s altering the texture of your hair. It might be best if you sent me a photo of your hair from different angles, so I can get a real sense of your hair. This way I can better advise you. Email me at


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