Rene's Massive Hair Growth- 3 Year Anniversary!

by Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother


Where did the time go? On this day, three years, I drove through a snowstorm to a local barbershop because I had had ENOUGH! After making the decision to go natural, I transitioned (the period from which you stop applying chemicals until you cut your hair or grow out all the perm) for as long as I could, which was 3½ months. The dual texture of my hair made it hard to prevent more breakage (you’ll recall was weak and falling out from chemicals reacting to the medication in my system from my hospitalization) so I decided to go for it. That meant the BIG CHOP!

I told you I was going to reveal my top 5 secrets right? There’s really only one. The secret is….. There is no secret! I know, bait and switch. But the fact is it’s all about good, basic hair care. If you are good to your hair it will be good to you. So what does that entail?

  1. NO SHAMPOO: Okay this is not new, you know I harp on this one. But I exclusively co-wash; that means use conditioner only to cleanse my hair. Shampoo has harsh sulfates, which strip the hair, leaving it frizzy, brittle and dry and dry hair is hair that breaks. Conditioner has enough cleansing properties to clean the hair without stripping it. I do clarify to get product build-up out but I do not use a clarifying shampoo (sulfates, hello? Weren’t you listening?). Instead I use plain, old, Apple Cider Vinegar cut with water and that does the job just fine.
  2. NO DIRECT HEAT! That means no curling irons, directional blow drying, hot rollers or anything else where hot metal is laid on my hair.
  3. HAIR VITAMIN: Um, you have to help yourself. I take Aphogee (you can buy at Sally’s) but there are myriad ones out there from which to choose.
  4. PROTECTIVE STYLING: I’m really struggling with the bang area of my hair. It’s a different texture, curl pattern, is more fragile and grows MUCH slower than the rest of my hair. I have decided that when I’m not going somewhere, I’m going to keep it twisted. Remember, you can grow as much hair as you want; the trick is retain the length.
  5. BE PATIENT! Hair grows ¼ to ½ an inch each month; anyone who promises more than that probably will try to sell you a bridge to nowhere. Be patient, enjoy he ride and don’t covet your neighbor’s curls!

Here’s a peek at three years of hair growth in under tw0 minutes. It’s been a helluva ride and I can’t wait to see what it looks like this time next year!

What methods have helped you to retain your hard earned length?

Rene Syler on Her Natural Hair at 2.5 Years!

by Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother

FOLLICLE UPDATE! 2 ½ years natural!

For those of you following along at home, you know what a big deal hair is to me. I would say it’s a pretty big, damn deal to most women. But when you’ve gone through the madness I went through with mine, it’s an even bigger, even hairier (no pun intended). After losing my hair from illness and chemicals, I decided to stop straightening it and wear it closest to it’s natural state. What I didn’t expect was to learn to much about my hair and me in the process.

MORE DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN BETTER: I’m talking about product AND time. In the days before I went natural, I spent ungodly amounts of time on my hair, using all sorts of goop, yet I was rarely happy. I gave up shampoo and now, co-wash a couple of times a week. I do my own deep conditioning treatments at home, use minimal product, all of which has cut down on the amount of prep time I need to get my hair presentable.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE COSTLY: Since I don’t use shampoo, I typically co-wash with VO5 CONDITIONER (not the shampoo), one of the least costly conditioners out there (less than a buck with my Rite Aide Wellness card!). I moisturize with Jamaican Black Castor Oil and use Jane Carter Solution as well. A little Curly Whip by Hair Rules and I’m done. I let it air dry about 75 percent then blow dry the rest to add volume.

SHARE, SHARE, SHARE: It’s so lovely to see how much women are willing to help each other through this journey. We share secrets, tips and knowledge and are better for it.

I LOOK BETTER WITH CURLY HAIR: I once read that people look best when they wear their hair closest to its natural state. I would have to agree, at least in my case. I can’t quite put a finger on it but I think it’s because what I have on the outside, now matches who I am on the inside; carefree, non-conformist, slightly twisted. Yep, that’s it.

BE HAPPY WITH WHAT GOD GAVE YOU: Oh much easier said than done. I fought my hair for so long, trying to conform to a standard of beauty that was accepted in the industry I was in. It’s hard for me now, not to lament the years I lost over that. But it does me no good to look back so I move on, with a head full of healthy hair and full acceptance of myself.

So here it is, 2 ½ years of growth condensed into about two minutes. And if you have any questions about natural hair, styling, products or general questions, hit me up!

Rene Syler on Black Women in the Workplace

Why Don’t Black Women Support Each Other In The Workplace

by Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother

I was talking to a good friend the other day when she asked me something that really threw me for a loop. I guess I thought, having achieved the level of success she has in her corporate career, she was immune to this trend. Maybe I thought because she wasn’t in TV, these issues didn’t pertain to her. But it was clear to me how wrong I was when Tracy took a deep breath and asked me, “Why don’t black women support each other?” Oh dear.

Tracy is thin, attractive, whip smart and graduated from a big name school near the top of her class. Warm, inviting, generous to a fault, she never met someone she wasn’t willing to give a fair shake to. But the pain in her voice was evident when she detailed how most of the relationships she’s experienced with other African American women in the working world, had been adversarial. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I understand. I really, REALLY do.

I remember early in my career, coming into a TV station where there was a well established, older, African American woman on staff. I had heard so much about her and was very much looking forward to learning from her. She, however, wanted noting to do with me. The benign neglect would have been one thing; the truly heartbreaking aspect was when I’d catch her with a scowl on her face as she was looking in my direction or the times she gave cub reporters, mostly men and some white women, detailed instruction on how to get better but could only manage remarks to me through her clenched teeth. I finally gave up but never forgot that experience, which is why I go overboard to share what I know with anyone who asks.

When I told my work hubby, Richard about Tracy’s experiences and my own, he was aghast. As a gay man, working in media, he’s constantly telling me about the “Gay Mafia” who look out for each other, alerting each other of upcoming projects and in general supporting one another. And it’s not just gay men; it’s common with other ethnic groups as well. Even African American men support each other more or, at the very least, are not actively undermining those they work with.

Knowing the “what” doesn’t make the “why” any clearer, but if I had to guess the cause of this trend I would think it’s rooted in two things. The first is the “only room for one” phenomenon, the idea that whatever the field, it’s a zero sum game and another woman of color is competition.

The other factor, and I HATE to admit this, is that women are catty. I’m not perfect and have to say I’ve been guilty of this bad habit myself at times. It’s far easier to tear another woman down, leaving you the last one standing, than to link arms with her and work together to make a real difference.

But the big issue I have with this alarming trend is that it targets the wrong people for blame. Shouldn’t we as black women be working together to make sure someone who looks like us, in gender and hue, gets the corner office? Wouldn’t that help the effort to get more representation among the people who do the hiring? And wouldn’t it be great if we learned to celebrate each other’s successes, confident that what we give, we get and at some point someone would be doing the same for us?

Alas, based on information I found out recently, I’m not sure how close we are to actually achieving that utopia. In the meantime, I’ll continue to do what I always have, offer support to those who ask, unconcerned with the false thinking that it weakens my position. Because the truth is, working together strengthens us as a whole. United we can move mountains.

Okay so I’m curious, if you are a black woman, what’s been your experience with other black female co-workers? Do you feel in constant competition? Do you think this is a phenomenon that other women in the workplace experience? Why do you think that is? Fire away!

Rene Syler Speaks...

Is Reality TV Bad For Black Women?
by Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother

This one’s for all you Reality TV fans out there!

I saw this article in Newsweek this week and thought it would make for great debate. Some of you may be rolling your eyes or saying “Not again” but hear me out, because if you have a TV, this impacts you as well.

The point of the Newsweek piece is that reality TV is not kind to Black women, and chances are, unless you are the head bobbin’, finger poppin’, take-no-sh*t, confrontational sort, your chances of being cast in one of these shows are pretty slim.

A common sight lately, according to the piece, is placing two or more headstrong African American women on the same show and watch them go at each other, a la Star Jones and NeNe Leakes on this season’s Celebrity Apprentice. Sound like a modern day cage match? Yeah, it did to me too.

Here’s my take; you’ve seen me talk about the Angry Black Woman stereotype and the role television plays in keeping it alive. Say what you will about television but it is a powerful medium, one that helps shape the world around us, for better or worse. The concern is that people who may not live in areas rich in diversity, are going to formulate opinions based on what they see come out of that very powerful box. And lately, it’s just been a bunch of black women ready to throw down.

Why should you worry? Are you Italian? How much time do you spend running around lifting up your GTL shirt to show the world your abs? Probably not a lot, but tell that to a young person who may not live in a diverse part of the country but through the gift that is cable TV, gets to formulate an opinion about Italian Americans based on the runaway hit that is Jersey Shore. Not good. Now, lest you think me devoid of humor you must know I’m not saying do away with ALL of it; things like this become stereotypes because there is a kernel of truth in them and some of it frankly, is funny. The problem is when it becomes all or nothing. And based on what we see of Black women on TV, God help us all when Oprah goes off the air.

That’s my opinion; what’s yours? Do you have an issue with shows that cast only stereotypes, to the exclusion of all others? Are you tired of seeing head bobbing black women on reality shows? Start debating everyone…

Rene is 2 Years In- Naturalversary!!!

Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother has been natural for 2 years!!! Check out her amazing progress:

Rene says;

The time went by so fast! When I first cut my hair in 2009, I was jonesing for length. I was told to be patient and to 'enjoy the journey', but all I could think about was how my hair wasn't growing. I wanted it to grow, and grow fast. But now I'm like, where did all this hair come from?! Once you stop focusing on length and focus on health, everything falls into place.

My advice to others? There are few hard and fast rules and you have to figure out what works best for your hair. I think I've finally hit on it, and I'm thrilled and can't wait to see what next year brings. I'm still learning... everyday.

I attribute my length retention to my strict no heat policy, co-washing (instead of shampooing), protecting it at night, and using natural oils like Coconut and Meadowfoam.

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