The NAPPY Chronicles: Arctic Survival

It is currently 28 degrees F, factoring in the wind chill it is 20 degrees. In Bajan measurements i.e. degrees Celsius that is around -2 degrees Celsius. (btw that’s a minus in front of the two, not a typo) EXCELLENT!!!!

Today is as good a day as any to address the effects of this arctic blast on your, my, our hair.

It is with temperatures like these that people who have moved from warm climates have to adopt a mantra of reason. We reason with ourselves that we can endure, that we are here for a reason and the ends will justify the means. And when that fails, as you maneuver the arctic chill, you just mutter things under your breath that would make your momma slap you if she heard them coming from your mouth.

Can you rock a baldy?

Though everyday of winter may not be subzero, around this time one needs to pull out the inner Rambo because believe it or not, this is survival of the fittest. If you want to greet spring with healthy (or closer to healthy than conceivable) hair, if you do not want to be forced into a BIG CHOP before you are ready, if your head is too big or unshapely (in your opinion) to be rocking an Ebony from Season 1 of ANTM, you might want to pay attention to what I’m about to say. Here are a few tips to help you come out on the other side of winter with hair on your head:


I can’t stress it enough. Locks, Fros, perms, blow outs, Nia Longs, Halle Berrys – they all need moisture. If you can afford to, treat yourself to a deep treatment at your salon once a month. If you can’t afford that, treat yourself to a deep treatment at home. In your pantry you most certainly have a treatment for all types of hair – Olive Oil. I forget if Extra virgin is the thickest but in any case, after shampooing and using your regular conditioner you saturate your hair in some EVOO  wrap it up in some Saran wrap or a few plastic shower caps and go about your regular in-house routine for as long as you want until you are ready to shampoo it out. Lucky for you, you can also use it as a base oil, add some

fragrance or aromatherapy oils to it (loves me some bergamot, lavender & rose mary) to use as a “daily” moisturizer. The Body Shop’s hair masques work well esp. Brazil Nut. I also recommend Organic Root Stimulator Shea Butter Softening Hair & Scalp Lotion for keeping hair supple out of the shower. Natural heads especially loc heads- take heed that there is a balance you will need to find between too much product and too little. Too much product attracts dust particles and lint and causes build up in your locs (see The Lint in My Locs). Too little product will do nothing to counteract the brillo texture, or prevent the literal disintegration (breakage) of your hair. Contrary to the hype, locs shed… picture brillo that hasn’t been used in a while. Can you see the rust on the inside? Exactly. Coconut oil is another good pantry option for a base oil.


Cute but dangerous

You really can’t survive without a hat in these temperatures. I don’t even care if your afro alone could qualify you for the black power movement or a stint to replace Huey on the Boondocks. Be mindful that a hat that warms your head can hurt your hair. Knitted beanies and berets can be your worst enemy. These warm little headpieces can leave so much lint in natural hair it wouldn’t be melodramatic to shed a tear over it. Hats may also cause breakage and suck the little bit of moisture left out of your hair  – natural or other wise. And losing moisture is a no-no. So my recommendation is to stop wearing hats…. JUST KIDDING. When buying hats one should ensure that there is a protective lining on the inside of the hat. And while it would be perfect if every cute hat in the world was made this way, it is not always possible, so invest in a moisture friendly scarf to wear under the perfect enemies you will have no choice but to purchase. Be mindful of if you will be required to remove your hat out of etiquette – you might not want to wear that old silk scarf you’ve been wrapping your hair in since high school.


Product causes build up… and build up can cause that musty smell. You know the one. For females it is the one that will cause you to be very careful about how you hug people. It causes you to lean forward in de fete so that people think you are dibbin out but really and truly you just don’t need for this guy to be close enough to get a whiff. Washing the hair too often causes dryness. You strip the hair of natural oils and also impair the follicle’s ability to absorb moisture. There are a number of “dry” cleansers out there that you can use on your scalp. Most of them are alcohol based and work in a way to up lift the oil based build up on the scalp and allow you to work it out with a washcloth. If you are not a fan of these cleanser again, find a balance between light moisturizers that do the trick.

If you find that you suffer from a flaky scalp, Tea tree oil makes a good addition to your EVOO concoction. Tea tree has natural antibacterial properties and helps with dandruff and flakiness of the scalp as well. You can also add this oil to a fragrance free shampoo. Be sure not to apply tea tree oil directly to skin or scalp by itself, it must be mixed with something first. Also in the winter months, wash less often with your clarifying shampoo. I know it cleans really well but it can cause excess drying of the hair in winter.


Got Lotion?

In these months your hair is not the only thing that will need attention. Chances are if your hair is dry, then you may not need to look any further than your elbow or knee cap to know that your body is crying out for moisture.

When I used to work at the Body Shop I had a customer put me on to the fact that sometimes a craving isn’t just a matter of being hungry. Sometimes you may experience phantom smells of fruits or beverages. And since then I have noticed that when I crave sunflower seeds or I keep smelling the sesame seed body butter I don’t have, my body may be crying out for vitamin E. When I’m craving blueberries, my body may be requesting a boost in antioxidants. (I can’t explain craving Popeye’s on these terms except for the fact that that chicken is damned tasty.) What you put into your body is just as, if not more important than what you put on it. You don’t want to be like Ashy Larry over there 🙂


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