Posts tagged ‘transitioning’

Entering The Promised Land Of Protective Styling

First time ever putting twist in my hair. Hair twisted with Kanekalon jumbo braid hair.

So due to a very busy schedule and upcoming move (super excited about the new space…dreading packing up the current one), I’ve decided to rock a protective style for a bit.  I love the term “protective style”, and in my case it’s very literal… It’s protection from ME!  From an itchy scissor finger during that awkward length stage to the time sucking chaos that  life sometimes presents, my hair occasionally needs protection from me.  Sounds like a strange thing for someone who is virtually obsessed with natural hair care and actually enjoys taking care of their hair to say but it’s true.  I had big plans for my hair, after my big chop March 26th of this year I decided to become a henna head when I reached collar bone length (my ultimate goal is waist length)- and almost 5 months to the day I’m there!  I’ve been eagerly researching for awhile,  had already started the blog article, and finally bought my henna and made a date with my lovely tresses.  I planned on a cozy little evening at home with my coils and some lovely hot tea, I figured wine and first time henna application would not be a good combo, and then it happened…LIFE.  All within the few short days between making my date and being able to keep it…  I found out I had to move a lot sooner than expected so my casual apartment hunting got a lot less casual; I had a three day convention fast approaching; I had to book and plan my mother’s 2 month trip to see me here in New York; I had an unexpected death in the family; an art show to prepare for; and all on top of my normal busy schedule.  I couldn’t see how I would have time to sleep, much less do anything with my hair! So I jumped onto YouTube, and got a quick tutorial on how to put in a protective style, I choose twist.  I had never done them before, but the YouTube tutorials made it look easy so I gave it a go.  Now it turned out..well…not great, I definitely have lots of room for improvement, but it’s not too bad and should last for the next couple of weeks.

Naturals protective styling can be a well needed break not only for your hair but from it when life gets a little overwhelming.  You can even do it yourself,  if I can so can you! And would you say 4 hours and 8 bucks is worth the few weeks of peace of mind and added time you’ll get? ummm YES!  Even though my hair didn’t turn out quite the way I thought, I still like it, and it was way easier to do than I thought. Now I’m totally psyched to experiment with some new styles- when I get the time that is…

xoxo hippiechicchick

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Why “Going Natural” Isn’t For Everybody.

This statement is heard often by naturals, usually coming from those who are not, a blanket reason as to why some choose to continue chemically altering their hair texture; or it’s used in a derogatory way toward those with kinkier hair textures and no curl pattern, the prime target for relaxers from the beginning.   Many natural are confused by statements such as this, if not flat out annoyed by it, “How can some thing that naturally grows from your scalp, is genetically programmed by your DNA, and as congenital as the color of your skin –not be for you?”

Some with this point of view will say their preference for processed hair is just about style, or because “kinky” hair is not a flattering look on them, or relaxed hair is less work, even “I would go natural if I had ‘good hair’.”, usually referring to a silkier hair of a less coarse texture.  I, like many other naturals, used to think this expression was just, well, silly. I can say now the longer I’ve been natural and the more people I’ve come across- I’ve come to believe there is some truth to this statement.  Yup! Me a die hard natural does think that being natural is not for some people. Why?

Natural Hair Is It Just About Hair?

Now let me clarify the point that I do not advocate the use of toxic chemicals for anyone, especially subjecting yourself to the hazardous exposure of  harmful treatments for vanity’s sake.  I don’t think that’s for anyone! I’m talking about mind set.  The variety of reasons a person decides to embrace their natural hair texture is as varied as the beautiful array of textures you’ll find among natural hair.  For some natural hair is just about hair- no more, no less.  I started out in this category, but over the months and years as my hair transitioned so did my way of thinking; thinking not only in relation to my hair but myself.

My Story

I’ve always been a pretty self-confident person, so the concept of self-acceptance was not something I ever gave much thought (much less thought I needed to work on). I’ve always kind of marched to the beat of a different drummer and did my own thing, not really caring if it was the “cool” thing to do or not. Even with all that confidence, my point of insecurity has ALWAYS been my hair; so years ago the thought of “going natural” was utterly insane, I know that statement sounds insane, but I could not fathom not relaxing my hair.  To me “going natural” meant the exposure of my Achillies’  heel, the loud and proud boast of my biggest insecurity, why would anyone do that?!?  My hair never had any terrifying experience with relaxer( save my teen years) and I was always able to retain length and thickness with the relaxer, so saw no reason to change.  Then 5 years ago I walked into a Dominican salon for a relaxer and blow-out and walked out with pin straight (unbeknownst to me irreparably damaged) hair.  Long story short, that was my last relaxer, but I was no where near ready to accept my hair, I just started getting my hair pressed.  Different monkey, same back.  I became positively aqua-phobic, never left the house without an umbrella- NEVER!  The rain would expose my big secret, at this point I wasn’t even sure what that secret was ( I hadn’t seen my natural hair since I was 7 1/2 years old), I just knew natural hair was, bad hair.  I continued my natural journey in this perpetual state of transitioning and terror, till finally I big chopped ( I say big chop even though when I cut my hair it was below chin length) letting go of my relaxed ends and finally embracing my natural hair….or so I thought.

Reality…

I did not like my natural hair, I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but what I found once I started doing my own hair wasn’t it.  Not to mention that I was completely clueless as to how to care for it.  The entire time I was transitioning I went to a stylist.  I stood in the bathroom mirror hair freshly washed and conditioned, ready to detangle….no so much…I covered my frizzy lopsided afro and rushed down the street to a girlfriends house (she had been natural for ages), hoping no one would see me and begged for help.  From that day I became a typical product junkie, and spent, well lots, on trying to find the right product for my hair to get it to look the way I wanted it to.  After a few weeks of trial and error and not leaving my house, I was back at the salon- and my love of flexirods began.  Yet another monkey, same back.  I could have these amazingly sleek, frizz free, super cute spirals and still be natural- yay!  Well after I figured out what I spending in roller sets to maintain this “look”, I thought going natural was supposed to be apart of simplifying- I’m spending now more than ever!  So while I couldn’t do my own roller sets I could flat iron like a champ, but keeping up those sleek tresses cost me a second big chop.  Lesson Learned.  I then became determined to actually learn my own hair, learn what it needed, and how to work with it, period.  I felt it was ridiculous to be a grown woman and not know how to comb my own natural hair, but frankly that was the position I was in, relaxed hair- knew it like the back of my hand, but this- no clue.  I’m the kind of person who likes to be informed and when I want to know the ins and outs of something I research it like a fean, natural hair was no exception.  The more I learned to care for my hair and understand my texture, the more I was able to see the beauty in it.  When I stopped exposing my hair to heat, I realized the frizzy straight mess that was on my head was heat damage, I learned that I actually had waves, coils and curls.  The longer I worked with my hair the acceptance I hoped to acquire, turned to love….until one day after a normal wash and go. I found myself feeling my soft springy spirals and coils and hearing myself say out loud ” I love my hair, I love my hair…” and then I had a sudden flashback of my relaxed days of me blow drying and flat ironing my coils- literally burning my hair into submission. Flashbacks of leaving my relaxers on for longer than needed to get my hair straighter. Flashbacks of hating summer days filled with humidity, of fearing the beach and swimming pools- sure my hair would look great when wet, but as it dried the truth would be revealed- my hair is not straight-my hair is nappy.

Flashbacks of the many times I would say to myself and out loud ” I hate my hair!”   (Hated it because it would usually not do what I wanted, which is be pin straight.) Understanding only now that the processed fried mess that used to be on top of my head was not my hair but the damaged remnants of falsehood of trying to be something I’m not… and justifiably something to be hated.

But my hair – the beautiful soft coils that grow from my head, are a natural extension of my beauty and heritage, an extension of me and therefore justifiably loved!  This love of the one thing about myself I truly disliked, enabled me to love myself unconditionally.

Why Not For Everyone?

In my opinion accepting your natural hair has a lot to do with accepting yourself, not the image of yourself you project, not the image of the you – you would like to be…but just YOU as you are.  Unfortunately not everyone is in the frame of mind to do this. I said before natural hair is as congenital as the color of your skin, well sadly there are those that if they could change their skin color as easily as their hair texture- they would.  No matter the culprit- there are people in the world who do not accept themselves as is.  If you do not, or at the very least are not even willing to make the journey, maybe at this time your  real self  is not for you.  But don’t give up on them naturals,when someone says” Being natural isn’t for everyone.”- what they are really saying is they are not ready (maybe even afraid) to take the journey. So keep being naturally fabulous and be willing to offer them the help they’ll need when they’re ready for it. Like once upon a time someone did for me.

Naturals be proud, not only of your natural beauty but of your love and acceptance of yourselves as you actually are, not as someone else has told you, you should be.

XOXO, hippiechicchick

 

How To Keep Natural Hair Moisturized

I think the single biggest misconception among those with kinky hair texture is that oil is a  moisturizer. But many feel the need to add excessive amounts of oils to the hair and scalp because black skin produces less sebum (aka oil) right? Wrong! Consider this myth busted.  The reason afro-textured hair tends to be dry is because the sebum has to travel the length of the hair to coat the strands. The kinkier the hair, the more difficulty the sebum has traveling down the hair, therefore the more dry or dull the hair looks.  There are of course exceptions to every rule and there are some who produce more or less oil than average, but this is in reference to healthy scalp function.

Hair needs moisture to maintain good health and elasticity. What is the ultimate moisturizer?  WATER!  This makes  water-based products and of course water itself the best things to use to achieve the greatest moisture benefit!  The hair optimally should be nourished and treated daily with water, even if it’s just a refreshing spritz.  The molecular structure  of water allows it to penetrate the hair shaft, moisturizing the hair. Oil molecules are too large to penetrate the hair shaft and therefore sit on the strands acting as a barrier.  This serves an extreamly useful and beneficial purpose for the hair, but moisturizing is not one of them.  With that being said, here is an exception…

Moisturizing Oil?

Coconut oil is It is also one of the few oils that penetrates the hair shaft. Studies have confirmed that the ability of coconut oil to penetrate the hair shaft is likely due to its low molecular weight and straight linear chains. These characteristics coupled with its high affinity (or attraction) to hair proteins cause the coconut oil to penetrate the hair shaft.

It is easy to see how the ability to penetrate the hair shaft and the high affinity to proteins makes coconut oil so beneficial for the hair. Not only does the high affinity to proteins help it penetrate the hair shaft, but it also discourages protein loss and reduces the occurrence of hygral fatigue. Studies conducted in India confirm that when compared to mineral oil and sunflower oil, “coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product.” Another study suggests that coconut oil reduces the ability of the hair shaft to swell and thereby reduces the likelihood of hygral fatigue. Hygral fatigue is caused when the hair swells and constricts due to the absorption and loss of water. This makes coconut oil a most excellent oil to pre-poo with.  (Pre-pooing- A treatment applied prior to cleansing. It usually consists of oils and applied a few hours before cleansing or the night before the cleansing. This is usually performed to help the hair maintain necessary moisture during a cleansing  process.)  

Determine Hair Porosity

Our hair is naturally porous ( Having minute holes through which liquid or air may pass).  This means just as quickly as we fill our tresses with moisture it can escape.  The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair, it’s made up of scale like cells that look similar to shingles on a roof.  These “shingles” can be raised or tightly compact which determines the level of the hairs porosity.  Determining your hair’s porosity is very important, because it will largely effect how you moisturize and retain moisture for your hair.

  • Low Porosity

Low Porosity

Low– po is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is tightly compact.  This type of hair is more difficult to moisturize, as the compact nature of the cuticle does not allow moisture to easily enter or leave the hair shaft.  You will notice your hair takes longer to get thoroughly wet, and both water and product tends to just sit on top of the hair as opposed to entering it.  To moisturize this type of hair heat is actually a good thing.  Now hold up! Put down the blow dryer and back away from the flat iron!  I mean we are usually taught to use cool to cold water when washing and conditioning hair to seal the cuticle and add shine, but for low-po hair you should cleanse and condition with warm water. The warm water will help to temporarily lift the cuticle allowing moisture to enter the hair shaft more easily.  After cleansing and conditioning you can rinse with cool water or acv to close cuticle.  You will also benefit from using a hooded dryer or heat cap when deep conditioning.

  • Normal Porosity

Normal Porosity

No- po hair is when the cuticle is compact and permits moisture to pass through the hair shaft into the cortex as necessary, but does not allow too much moisture to penetrate the cortex. This hair type is pretty easy to moisturize and keep moisturized, and should stay moisturized with regular cleansing and conditioning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • High Porosity

High Porosity

Hi-po hair has a cuticle with wide spaces in between the cuticle and the shaft.  High porosity hair is a sign of damage secondary to chemicals (including color),  heat, or rough manipulation.  Although your hair may feel dry it is capable of absorbing A LOT of water, due to the large openings in the cuticle.  Generally the more porous the hair the more moisture it tends to absorbs.  Since our aim is to moisturize, this seems good, but more is not always better- sometimes it’s just more; and too much moisture creates a whole new set of problems.  Like over drying, high porosity hair absorbs more water when wet – but also looses more as it dries.  Hi-po hair can also stretch beyond a healthy limit due to the increased weight of  hair when full of water, this constant stretching of the hair causes it to become weaker and more prone to breakage.  For hi-po hair minimizing if not eliminating heat is a good idea and consider dry finger detangling with oil as opposed to detangling with a brush or comb while hair is wet and more fragile.

 

 

 

 

Porosity Test

After hair is cleansed and free from any and all products, place a strand in a glass of room temp water.  Normal to low porosity strands will float. High porosity hair will sink to the bottom of the glass from absorbing loads of water and becoming too heavy to float.

 

Why Oil Is Also Important

Since our hair is naturally porous, after we get the moisture in there- how do we keep it?  Here’s where oil is the the most important. It sits on the hair shaft since the molecules are too large to enter it, coating the hair and sealing in moisture.  Oils also lubricate our strands making the hairs slide over each other more easily reducing tangles and friction.  It is important to use the oil to seal already moisturized hair. If you use oils without  moisturizing before , the oil will seal the moisture out of the hair strand and lead to a coated feel and eventual dryness. Build up from heavy oils is one of the main culprits in a scenario where we feel like no matter what we do, our hair is still dry!  You may have to remove current build up first, and then the moisture can get in.

Keeping your hair properly moisturized will minimize breakage keeping hair strong and healthy for maximum length retention. Even if long and strong is not your goal, I’m sure beautiful hair is.

References:

http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc2005/cc056n05/p00283-p00295.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15224783

What’s In My Spray Bottle

Image   I think almost all naturals have a spray bottle, some even carry a mini one for their bags, and fill it with all sorts a nurturing goodies to be sprayed on their lovey locks at will. I am no exception, I have many of them, I’ve learned to love and appreciate this useful tool in my natural hair arsenal! I often get asked what I use in my spray bottle, so here it goes…

My Spray Bottle

Distilled Water –  Distilled water is pure with no additives or trace minerals, distilled water should be used as opposed to regular old tap water due to the high mineral content of hard water. This results in deposits on your hair. Buildup of calcium and magnesium on the hair shaft can cause hair to feel rough, dry and damaged; the opposite of what we want for our hair.

 

Aloe Juice–  Aloe vera juice, with its excellent moisturizing properties can serve as a natural conditioner to deeply moisturize the hair strands. So, if you are struggling with dry, damaged and unmanageably frizzy hair, then aloe vera juice is your friend!   The enzymes found in aloe vera gel and juice act as a hair growth stimulator. So, you can use aloe vera to promote hair growth. It can also help to control dandruff.

 

Agave Nectar for vegans or Honey for those who are not – I add a bit of agave nectar if I feel my hair is dryer than normal or especially frizzy, not only helps with dryness and frizz, but add shine.  I add this only if I feel I need it.

 

Lavender Essential Oil –  It is a good treatment for dandruff and itching, helpful in controlling hair breakage and improving hair growth.  Daily massage with lavender oil has proven to help significant re-growth (click link for recipe for lavender oil hair growth solution) https://hippiechicchick.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/lavender-oil-and-hair-growth/.  Oh and it smells fantastic!

 

Rosemary Essential Oil –  Rosemary oil stimulates the hair follicles, and healthy scalp means hair can grow longer and stronger.

 

Sweet Orange Oil – This essential oil has a wonderful light fragrance, and like lavender has calming and anti-stress qualities. It stimulates the scalp increasing micro-circulation, great for dehydrated scalp. Also acts as an antiseptic.

 

Jojoba Oil – According to the Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, jojoba oil is an ideal cosmetic ingredient for products designed to moisturize and protect, due to its chemical composition and stable nature.  Jojoba is structurally similar to the sebum our skin produces naturally. The Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine explains that if your scalp is dry, jojoba oil acts as a substitute, moisturizing the hair follicle and preventing tangles and coarseness. If there is excess sebum, jojoba oil breaks down the buildup, cleaning hair, scalp and hair shaft. Jojoba oil dissolves residue buildup from hair products, as well as environmental pollutants.

 

How To Use

Give your bottle a good shake before each use ( as the oil and water will separate) and spritz hair daily or as needed to add moisture.  I use this same spray bottle mixture for twist outs along with my tried and true flax seed gel (click link for the recipe) https://hippiechicchick.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/flax-seed-oil-and-gel/ . Its is also great for those who use the LOC method.  This mixture is also great for caring for hair while in a protective style.  Contrary to popular belief (or wishful thinking) our hair still needs care while in a protective style.  My hair is currently in a braided style and I lightly spray hair twice daily with this mixture (a.m and p.m.)  When spraying in the evening before bed I apply very little of my oil mixture ( jojoba, lavender, orange, rosemary, tea tree) to scalp and braids.  I use a bottle with a long pointed tip so that oil can easily be applied to scalp and hair without over doing it.

This formula works really well for my hair, I hope it works just as well for yours!

xoxo hippiechicchick

Is Your Diet Limiting Your Hair Growth?

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When many of us natural think about hair care we often obsess over products, regimens, protective styling, as well as many other external factors- but we often over look a very basic, but very important component…our diet.  Now you may say ” I hate drinking water, live on Cheetos and Taco Bell and consume 3 litters of soda a day, and I have GORGEOUS hair long strong and down to my ankles!” Well great for you! But the fact of the matter is that this is the exception, not the rule.  The majority of us are subject to the principle of  what we put into our bodies being just as important as what we put on it.

Here’s why…

“Hair is a barometer of your overall health,” says David H. Kingsley, Ph.D., a hair and scalp expert of the British Science Corporation in New York City.  Hair growth is stimulated mainly by nutrients supplied through the blood stream.  Now although we feel our hair is crucial….your body begs to differ. In fact to your body your hair is nonessential tissue; which means when your body is dolling out the nutrients it’s given, first in line are the key organs like your heart and brain.  Your hungry hair follicles will be last in line, if they get a place in the line at all!

Healthy Scalp

Now we know that the hair on our heads is dead lifeless protein, but  the follicles on our scalp are very much alive!

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The follicles are what is growing the hair under the scalp, and they are nourished (or NOT), by the protein, essential fatty acids (help to hydrate the follicles), vitamins like biotin and B vitamins 6 and 12 (help to strengthen the cuticle), and whole grains that we consume.  “Iron is also essential because it stimulates hair turnover and replenishment,” says Neil Sadick, M.D., a New Yorkbased dermatologist. Now understand that if you were born with fine, thin hair, you’ll never have rope-thick tresses — no matter what you eat, and be wary of those who claim differently. But a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of growth-promoting protein and iron can make a difference.

The Pantry

  • Eat foods loaded with loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats can be found flax seeds(one of the greatest natural wonders on earth in my humble opinion).  You can add flax oil to smoothies, or ground flax seeds to many of the foods you eat.  This plant-based omega-3 fat is ideal for vegetarians or vegans (like myself). For you carnivores, salmon is your friend! Full of omega-3 fatty acids,this high-quality protein source is also filled with vitamin B-12 and iron.
  •  Dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and Swiss chard, are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum. The oily substance, secreted by your hair follicles, is the body’s natural hair conditioner. Broccoli actually packs more vitamin C than oranges! Dark green vegetables also provide iron and calcium.
  • Beans are indeed the magical fruit!  The more you eat, the more your hair grows!  Not only do they provide plentiful protein to promote hair growth, but ample iron, zinc, and biotin. While rare, biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair.
  • Your scalp will go nuts for nuts!  Brazil nuts are one of nature’s best sources of selenium, an important mineral for the health of your scalp.  Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help condition your hair. They are also a terrific source of zinc, as are cashews, pecans, and almonds. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair shedding, so make sure nuts are a regular on your healthy hair menu.
  • Sink your teeth into hearty whole grains, including whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain cereals, for a hair-healthy dose of zinc, iron, and B vitamins ( many cereals for vegans are fortified with B6 and B 12 which is essential to the health of your hair and body).

Lost Pounds Could Equal Lost Hair

If you’re tempted to drop pounds fast it could leave you with less-than-healthy hair. Low-calorie diets are often low in some of the most important nutrients for healthy hair, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin A. In addition to stunting hair growth and leading to dullness, super-low calorie plans may even cause hair loss.

“Crash diets can affect the hair cycle. Losing a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time can affect that normal hair rhythm. Two to three months later, you might notice a significant increase in shedding. This is a temporary problem that you recover from with a well-rounded diet.” Paradi Mirmirani, M.D

Treat your body well and your hair will definitely flourish! Oh and the rest of you will feel and look great too!

Big Hair Don’t Care… At Least Not Anymore (An Apology Letter)

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Part of transitioning from my sleek straight chemically relaxed hair to my kinky coily spirals was embracing BIG HAIR. Let me just start by saying that I never liked big hair. I spent countless hours and dollars trying to tame my hair into submission, and although the Texas humidity was against me, I usually won. I relished the short Texas winters when my hair was well behaved without much effort; and when I moved to New York my hair and I both embraced the lower humidity levels and breathed a sigh of relief.

Then four years ago I decided to transition to my natural hair texture. At first there wasn’t much difference as I was having my new growth pressed to match my straight relaxed hair. My hair was a little fuller, but not big, it just had more volume. After transitioning for a year and a half I finally had my relaxed ends cut off, but continued to get my hair pressed. When I finally started wearing my hair not straight it was always in a flexi rod set, which enabled me to sport these sleek, 3b ringlets, which were full- but not really big. It was not until my second big chop in march of this year (due to heat damage, that sleekness comes at a price) that I started sporting my own coils and curls heat free. And you guessed it, I had BIG hair! I mean gravity defying, up and out, OMG what am I gonna do BIG HAIR. I am not embarrassed to admit (because I know I’m not alone) I didn’t leave my house for two weeks. I made up every excuse in the world to not go out…let’s just say I was very “ill” for awhile. My despair not only came from the sheer height and girth of my hair, but from my complete lack of knowledge of what to do with it. The chemically relaxed hair I had spent the better part of my life mastering was now gone, and what was left was this mass of unfamiliar cottony coils that seemed to have a mind of their own; and like to express themselves in a BIG way.

Initially I wore my hair in slick backed pony tails (as slick as I could manage) after months of this I began to slowly venture into twist outs and bantu knot out, then into curly fro- hawks, then into curly fros. The more I learned, the more I wanted to experiment. The more I experimented the bolder I got. The bolder I got, guess what, the bigger I wanted my hair! I began to realize that the accepting my hair for what it is (kinks, coils, curls and all) also meant accepting that natural hair is naturally BIG. When I first began my hair journey I focused on the transition of my hair, but unexpectedly my mind followed. As I began to accept my hair, this delightful acceptance extended to myself, the size of my hair (big or small) was an extension of me- and was therefore perfect as is, just because it was mine. Now I don’t mind big hair at all, in fact I rather love my big hair!

Naturals embrace your big hair, and don’t care what anyone other than you thinks about it!

 

Xoxo hippiechicchick

 

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