Monthly Archives: November 2014

How to go gray with grace


How to go gray with grace


Stacy Pierce is a Central Florida based photographer with a love for shooting on location in natural light with families, high school seniors and lifestyle portraits. You can find Stacy Pierce Photography on Facebook and Instagram.

Allowing nature to take its course isn’t always as easy as it sounds, especially when the end result is a head full of gray hair.

Gray hair results from a loss of pigment, commonly known as melanin. The two types of pigments: dark (eumelanin) and light (phaeomelanin) blend together to make up the wide range of hair colors that begin to form even before we’re born.

While age and genetics play a role, the exact reason why hair goes gray is still a mystery. And the rate at which it occurs is almost as inexplicable. For some people, the process starts in their 20s and 30s while others don’t see the first signs of gray until they’re well into their 40s. What’s known for sure is that your chances of going gray increase 10-20 percent every decade after 30 years. Some scientists even believe that certain environmental and metabolic conditions like thyroid dysfunction and exposure to toxins also should be taken into consideration as possible contributors to the loss of hair color.

Fortunately, for many “mature” women, access to products and information geared specifically toward caring for and maintaining gray hair, has opened the door to a number of new style options.

Today’s gray-haired lady isn’t the matronly figure we may be accustomed to in our mind’s eye. Instead, she’s vivacious, spunky and proud to flaunt rather than hide those grays.

To put a spin on a popular saying: 40, 50 and maybe even 60 is the new 30 and the rules of color have changed. And, for the women who opt to let Mother Nature have her way, the choice can be a very personal one.

“I was determined to do and spend whatever it took to fight the grays to the death,” said Stacy Pierce, a 40-something professional photographer based in Orlando, Florida. “Eventually, I decided, no more, and learned to embrace the uniqueness of my gray hair.”

But, make no mistake, she said. Going gray does not equate to being maintenance-free. Generally speaking, gray hair remains just as strong as hair that has retained its color. The big difference is that there are fewer lubricants in the hair shaft. This occurs naturally as oil-producing cells in the hair follicle begin to decrease with time. The result is hair that feels brittle to the touch and can be quicker to break as a result of normal combing and brushing.

“The texture of my gray hair is completely different from hair that has retained its pigment,” said Stacy. “Gray hair is unruly, dry and simply doesn’t respond to product the same way.”

To keep her gray locks looking shiny and bright, Stacy deep conditions her hair more often and uses a leave-in on a regular basis. Additionally, she uses coconut oil in conjunction with a clarifying and moisturizing shampoo and conditioner made specifically for gray hair, as a “tried and true” remedy to help lock in extra moisture.

The key, according to Stacy, is to choose a treatment and hair care routine that’s right for you. If needed, also consider consulting a professional stylist for tips on how to go gray with grace.

3 tips for packing lightly and stylishly

3 tips for packing lightly and stylishly

3 tips for packing lightly and stylishly

I love to travel but I’m not crazy about packing. For me, getting ready for a trip is about much more than throwing a bunch of random items in a bag. There’s a certain finesse to it that requires planning and a little attention to detail.

When I factor in the number of events I plan to attend; if they’re formal, casual or something in between; if it’s a daytime or nighttime affair, and even what the weather report outside will be like, making the right wardrobe choices can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are three great strategies I use to make my packing experience hassle-free.

Roll tight

Instead of laying my clothes out flat in my bag, I roll them up tightly and stack them into neat, compact piles. Not only does this technique save an incredible amount of space, it also creates conveniently lined pockets to protect smaller, more fragile items like perfume bottles, lotions and makeup.

Stick to the staples

There are a select few items in my wardrobe that I can always look to for comfort and class, no matter the situation. They’re what I call “dual action” pieces. Not only are they classics that never go out of style, they’re also versatile enough to give you multiple looks, which is also great for keeping my luggage light and clutter free.

Stay flat-footed

I wouldn’t consider my wardrobe complete without a comfortable pair of black flats. Ranging in styles from simple to super fancy, these shoes represent the Holy Grail when it comes to versatility, ease and elegance! There’s not an outfit in my closet that I couldn’t pair them with and not look great. The best part is they’re easily portable, too.

What tips do you have for minimizing stress and maximizing style when you pack? Feel free to share them in the comments. Safe (and stylish) travels!

Stop stressing about straightening!

Stop stressing about straightening!

Stop stressing about straightening!

I started playing around with the idea of going natural over 16 years ago. On more than one occasion, I found the courage to go in for the “big chop,” only to succumb to the call of creamy crack a few months later as my hair started to grow into what can best be described as the “awkward” phase.

I’m a Scorpio, which means I love change. And, the idea of being able to move between curly and straight hairstyles has always appealed to me. What doesn’t thrill me is the effort it takes to get the look I want, especially if it’s a DIY job.

When I first started my natural hair journey all those years ago, the TWA (teeny weeny afro) was pretty much my only styling option and pomade was my “go-to” product to help fight the frizz and lay down my unruly edges.

How times have changed.

Today, my biggest challenge isn’t finding a single product to deliver the look I want. The trick is finding the best combination of products – shampoos, conditioners, gels, creams, sprays and foams – to give me the results I’m after.

It truly takes a village (of product) to help raise up and lay down a curl!

The more products that are introduced into the natural hair care market, the more questions I seem to have about what the best options are. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, I decided to ask the experts – my good curlfriends Angela Hawkins, Kiahhn Jackson and Betsy Hughes – to get their take on how they balance changing up their look and keeping their natural hair healthy. Here’s some of what they had to say:

What concerns you most when switching from natural to straight hair and back again? 

Angela: I’m most concerned about the risk of damaging my curl pattern with the heat that’s required to get my hair straight.

Betsy: I don’t have too many concerns other than the heat damage blow drying and flat ironing my hair straight can cause. I also find that my hair’s curl pattern is compromised until I wash it a couple of times.

Kiahhn: I’m most concerned with keeping the health of my natural hair intact.

What do you think is the greatest benefit of being able to switch from curly to straight?

Angela: It gives me the versatility to change my hairstyle as I often did when my hair was relaxed.

Betsy: I love being able to have two totally different looks within the same week if I want to! It is a benefit I’m stressing with my daughter too so she sees having curly hair as a benefit and not a curse like I did when I was little.

Kiahhn: My hair is extremely kinky, so it’s easier to handle when it’s straight.

What are some of the preventative measures you take to avoid damaging your hair?

Angela: Deep conditioning is, in my opinion, the very best way to guard against damage. I do it weekly. Although I don’t really put heat in my hair that much, I will use a heat protectant when I do.

Betsy: I wear my hair curly more than straight so I don’t worry too much about damaging my hair. I moisturize, use Argan Oil and condition it well on a regular basis.

Kiahhn: I use leave-in conditioners, hair oils and moisturizers. (When straightening) I use a heat protectant as well as flat-irons with the protective plates. I also listen to my hair. I know that my ends need more time than the roots and the bottom half needs more time than the top half. I love getting my hair-trimmed. I also try to eat healthy.

What are some of your “go to” products to help maintain the health and versatility of your hair? 

Angela: My favorite products are Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner, Shea Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner; Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in, Mixtures of African Shea Butter, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, ECO Styler gel and drumroll, please . . .my all-time favorite is Design Essentials Honey Curl Forming Custard.

Betsy: I use Pantene Smooth and Sleek conditioner, Argan Oil, and Miss Jessie’s Multicultural Curls moisturizer.

Kiahhn: I like Jamaican Black Castor Oil and the Carol’s Daughter hair oils.

So, do you have any secrets for keeping your natural locks healthy during the straightening process? Leave a comment and let me know.