Thinking about embracing your curls?

When I 1st started the natural hair journey ( I chemically altered my hair, not only ironed it) I had a specific look and goal in mind. I wanted my hair to be as kinky as possible because that is my father hair type and I absolutely love his hair. I simply assumed my hair would turn out like that, that was one of the reasons I kept using heat, since I did not get the curl I wanted, I became instead a naturalista with natural straight hair regularly using my flat iron with heat protection of course. Then came Instagram and the #curlycommunity thanks to my friend from Curly community and so The Hair Lab came to be a journal where I logged my progress and fails and all of a sudden I started falling in love with the flexibility my hair offered and I went with it. I adjusted my goals to what I had and now I would not change my frizz prone hair for anything, it still gets annoying at times the work I need to put into it and it still surprises me how different in can look depending on how I do the wash day routine. 

A few tips if you are thinking about getting started: 

1. Take a deep breath, you might be overwhelmed at first no doubt, but no need to worry we are here for you. Take it slow you can either transition and cut the damaged part little by little or get a big chop and start fresh, but do it only when you are ready. No pressure.

2. Keep it simple: if you can't or don't want to buy new products at 1st, go step by step such as adding a good leave in conditioner and styling gel or cream to your routine while you finish the old products. At that point the hair is rather damaged so very fancy products wont do much difference. Use less heat, or even better no heat at all this will help your hair health so much!

3. Take the time to observe your hair: is it fine, is it dense, wavy, curly, kinky (don't obsess about curl typing, you will learn later or like me forever wonder your curl type). 

4. At first the chemical or heat damaged hair will be highly porous so look for deep treatment masks with keywords such as repair, strengthen, restore; they usually contain protein and protein is what damaged hair direly needs. 

5. Chemical damage cannot be reverted, I cut my hair gradually for about a year. Heat damage can revert to an extent, I never cut my heat damaged hair but instead gave it super intensive care as I was unwilling to go cut the hair all over again.

6. Be patient, have fun and don't compare your beginning to the middle of others, surround yourself with good vibes only. Embrace your curls be them wavy, curly, kinky, coily or everything in between they are your and you will love them and they will love you back with good care. 

7. Naturally curly hair is for everybody who has it and wants it, no matter the shape texture or color. Who run the world? Curls! 

Lazy Hair Weeks & Blogging anniversary

I have been away from “Hair” for about a month now, haven’t been making much changes to my routine in terms of products but in a way I have kept it so simple that it is starting to feel like neglect.
My last wash day, was last night and took less than 10 minutes I simply used shampoo and a leave in conditioner as a rinse-out. Basically naked hairday. My hair is quite tangle free today and scalp feels clean but since I did not leave any product on last night and a few more nights before that at some point (tomorrow hopefully) I will have to get serious about my hair and even as I write this I don’t feel bad for “celebrating” my hair blog anniversary by doing less rather than more. Still, I wanted to write something in way of a thank you to all my friends in Social Media, because even though my absence was unintended, there was really not a plan behind it a lot of good things came out of it. I noticed that even though my Instagram channel is chaotic and is not oriented in a way that promotes audience growth because I post too often, It has no internal consistency yada yada yada and while it is hair centric it has a bit of everything once the hair feature is done; my instagram friends whom I have never met in person but look forward to in the future have sent me messages either via DM, blogmail or in the comments section wondering if I was doing OK which I am by the way Thank you very much ūüíě and while I felt a bit guilty for making people worry for no reason I felt very grateful to have such a lovely virtual audience offering me their friendship. What I did with the time I did not do hairstagram? I read a lot of books. It all started with not having my ipad at hand and then once I had it again I was so used to picking my kindle 1st that I thought oh well I have not done much with my hair so I don’t think it would make much of a difference if I post something or not but I guess I was wrong what we does matter to others. I did not know exactly how to write this post on instagram that’s why I put it here in the blog, but I guess it is my weird way of saying thanks to all of you who showed appreciation made positive comments about my sense of humor, missed the memes or jokes and appreciated my (I quote from messages I got) “refreshing” and “positive” style.
I keep the hairstagram as a way to keep track of my hair but I was unaware that traits other than my hair were being appreciated and getting all those messages did make me very happy, the natural hair community I belong to is more than about hair it is truly about friendship; I had written about it before but I had not known how true that statement was. I definitively think my hair increases my happiness even when not actively doing too much to it. That’s probably what going natural is about for me, it is about being happy and learning about anything, while my abandoned instagram account was flooded with positivity I stumbled upon a few not so nice youtube videos (negativity, racism, comparison, envy? I can’t really tell) while looking for inspiration outside of my comfort zone for my hair blog and deciding whether or not to upload videos to youtube.
I still don’t know which direction to take with the blog, but these few offline weeks have taught me that “we are not often aware of the effects we have on others” yes, I did quote again from one of the lovely messages I got from my curl friends because, I honestly could not come up with better words. For now I won’t make any changes to my comfort zone because honestly if it isn’t broken why try to fix it. A year ago I wrote my 1st blog post my blog was anonymous and unlinked to my IG account which at the time was rather quiet, I did not post pictures of my hair here and I had a clear idea what kind of blog I wanted to have, I lived in another country and my life was in general different. Things do change, however and now The Hair Lab has turned 1 year old among chaotic posting habits, no clear direction or growth plan but perfectly happy and content with the format it developed. I am looking forward to continue learning as much as possible not only about hair but about anything that can help us grow together.

Thank you for a great year!

Ayuda! “Mi cabello no coopera”

Esto es algo que a menudo nos sucede en la jornada de cabello natural.

Ya saben que hablo castellano, sin embargo; admito que escribir en castellano se me hace un poco dificil y me he puesto como meta este a√Īo incluir m√°s entradas en el blog.

As√≠ que inicio con algo com√ļn en la jornada de cabello rizado natural y en todo tipo de cabello a decir verdad: resequedad capilar.

¬ŅQue hacer cuando nuestros rizos no cooperan o tiende a estar secos y deshidratados?

Debemos tener Paciencia: el cabello rizado, crespo y ondulado se deshidrata con mayor facilidad que el cabello lacio, por lo que requiere mayor cuidado.

Es clave tener una rutina de lavado enfocada en hidratación: les comparto lo que habitualmente hago para mantener mi cabello hidratado

1. Prepoo: Aplicar aceites, cremas, tratamientos o acondicionador antes del shampoo, esto ayuda a proteger la hebra del cabello del agente limpiador. Un datito importante es no utilizar mucho aceite porque luego se necesita m√°s shampoo para removerlo. Mis favoritos son productos a base de aceite de aguacate o aceite de almendra.

2. Shampoo o cowash: yo habitualmente utilizo shampoo pero si no acumulas mucho producto puedes limpiar el cabello entre shampoo solo con acondicionador. La frecuencia de shampoo varia desde 2-3 veces por semana hasta 1 vez al mes. Si tu cabello esta reseco y usas shampoo todos los dias ve disminuyendo la frecuencia hasta que encuentres tu equilibrio. Yo uso shampoo 1-2 veces x semana y entre lavados refresco con agua, en lo personal el cowash no me gusta porque predispone a enfermedades como la caspa, si sufres de caspa cowash esta contraindicado. El shampoo es importante para evitar acumulacion de productos, suciedad o contaminacion en el pelo, si notas que tu cabello se siente pesado o muy reseco puede ser que necesites una limpieza m√°s profunda y un buen shampoo limpiador y una mascarilla de arcilla para cabello sean buena idea, hace poco hice esto para recuperar mi cabello y me ha funcionado bastante bien.

3. Acondicionador profundo: Esto es primordial para todo tipo de cabello rizado o tratado con tintes o qu√≠micos. Hazlo cada vez que utilices shampoo y dejalo puesto hasta 30 minutos, si deseas c√ļbrelo con una toalla tibia y un gorrito acondicionador. Algunas mascarillas se pueden poner por 1-3 minutos y dan buenos resultados, pero si deseas m√°s hidrataci√≥n 30 minutos es suficiente. No es recomendable utilizar estos productos overnight ni por periodos extendidos de tiempo ya que pueden dejar el cabello en un estado de fragilidad.

4. Acondicionador regular: Me gusta siempre aplicar una peque√Īa cantidad de acondicionador hidratante si siento que necesito un extra despues de la mascarilla, a veces la mascarilla me deja el cabello tan suave que se me olvida pero procuro hacerlo con frecuencia; este punto es opcional pero si el cabello esta reseco utiliza acondicionador de enjuage siempre.

5. Leave in conditioner, crema de peinar o serums: dependiendo de si tu cabello es fino, medio o grueso puedes usar ya sea un acondicionador que no se enguaje, una crema de peinar para cabello medio y grueso o un serum si tu cabello es fino o con ondas suaves.

6. Metodo LOC o LCO: esto es m√°s para cabello rizado o crespo de hebra media o gruesa y cabello ondulado grueso, ayuda a obtener definicion. L: liquido agua o leave in conditioner, O: aceite, C: crema de peinar.  Basicamente se trata de utilizar leave in conditioner, aceite y crema de peinar o leave in conditioner, crema de peinar y aceite, el orden se decide experimentando. A mucha gente le funciona sobretodo cuando el cabello esta muy reseco. Yo en lo personal lo hac√≠a al principio hace un a√Īo o as√≠ pero notaba que me dejaba el cabello muy pesado y es que aunque tengo mucho cabello (densidad alta) el 70% es de hebra fina y media y comome gusta   m√°s volumen que definici√≥n hago LC, L √≥ solo C pero si buscas maxima definicion y mantener la hidratacion vale la pena probar este m√©todo.

7. Tratamientos de proteina: Esto lo hac√≠a con frecuencia cuando mi cabello era altamente poroso, eso si desean lo tocamos en otro articulo. ¬ŅComo saber si tengo cabello de alta porosidad? Para facilidad todo cabello te√Īido, con alisado o en transici√≥n y con da√Īo por calor es de porosidad alta con lo cual se beneficia con tratamientos de prote√≠na. Estos tratamientos dejan el cabello un poco pesado pero sirven para fortalecer si es necesario. Se puede hacer uno una vez por mes y aumentar o disminuir la frecuencia segun necesidad. Weleda y Bioland tienen productos reestructurantes bastante buenos y disponibles en America Latina.

Espero esta guia sea de utilidad y si desean otro tema, me pueden comentar que les gustaría.

International Day of Happiness Giveaway

The international day of Happiness is an effort brought forth only few years ago (2012) to create awareness about the importance of being happy for the well being of people.

I personally find this concept clever and simple and yet very complicated at the same time. I support this campaign because it also aims to include happiness as a variable to be considered in policy making, which is a main point of significant change to improve the lives of every one living in this planet.

A few initiatives have been promoted to conmemorate the day and some of them suggested doing something to share happiness.

I had no clue what I could do until, my instagram account unexpectedly reached 1000 friends last month which coincided perfectly with one year free from Brazilian Blowout and Keratin or straightening agents of any kind in my naturally curly hair.

That made me very happy and I contacted OsoCurly to help me with my 1k giveaway and they graciously accepted making me even happier. I also run a small print shop business with my husband and I love to eat chocolates and that is how this Giveway came to be after some time of planning.

Giveaway details!
The prize:
1 satin pillow cover and 1 satin scrunchie courtesy of OsoCurly
1 handprinted postcard from LinoSekai
1 box of Milka chocolates, because I like chocolates.

Rules to participate:
1. Follow @osocurly @linosekai & @dr_vasquez_md
2. Tag, in the main post on instagram, 2 friends who have curly hair and would like the content that those account share and That’s it!

Important Information about the giveaway
1. Only public Instagram accounts can participate.
2. Must be following the 3 accounts at the time of the draw to be elegible to win.
3. Open internationally to adults 18 years plus.
4. Not sponsored or associated with Instagram or Facebook or their affiliates whoever they might be, accepting their T & C of platform usage.
5. Contest entries until March 20th The International day of Happiness.
6. Winner will be announced Friday March 31st at the latest.
7. Void where prohibited by law.

If you would like to participate to win a lovely prize just check out my IG:

The Hair LabMD for the complete rules (the contest is instagram only, sorry).

And if you would like more information on official UN events for the International Day of Happiness please visit the original source and if you like join in on the activities they have available for this year.

http://www.un.org/en/events/happinessday/

My curly hair makes me happy, travelling with my friends and family, drinking coffee and eating chocolates too. What makes you happy?

Cheers,

The Hair LabMD

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The Floating Piers. Lake Iseo. Italy. 

 

 

Untitled too 

Flawed? Ugly? Weird? Eww yuk? Who told you that?

Society, your boss, a friend, an adversary a colleague or yourself looking at the mirror and hating what you see?
What you think becomes what you feel.
Think right feel right. Think right and you can cope, adapt and adjust regardless of the external forces against, or in your favor. Think wrong and you may become ill and you will suffer. This is not hopeful woo, this is science, neuroscience and in the same way as it took years of “hard work” for your brain to wire itself in a way that it will work against you (depression, low self esteem, personality disorders,etc) it will take hard work and professional help from a doctor, a therapist, a nutritionist, or a fitness instructor to help you improve your life and come to terms with how you look and more importantly, who you are.

Change can begin from the inside out, or from the outside in. I obviously like fitness, facial architecture & aesthetics, and now I like hair appearance and I firmly believe that if you want to improve yourself you are free to pursue it, but be mindful of the thought behind the emotion.

There is nothing wrong with using modern medicine to be better, it is not weak to get medical treatment for acne, it is not vain to get “work done”, it not arrogant to be fit and eat well; but the thought behind it, is what defines whether it is good or bad thing for you X or Y physical change.

Genetics & culture do play a role, in the perception of beauty, that is undeniable we might wish it would not be so but it is.  Do not aspire to be beautiful, you already are, aspire to be healthy.

How you look does not define you, but the world we live in judges our “look” and that is also a fact. I can’t disclose patient info but I can tell you that the medical profesion is not devoid of sociocultural biases on apperance. A female, beautiful doctor is still expected to be less competent than her fellow men, but so what? It only means she has to work harder to get respect that is all.

The only way to be happy is to be healthy.

InstaCompare? No thanks. Friendship please.

iDisclamer: The only science involved in this post came from the developers of apple that created this iPad and of the creators of the internet, the rest is just my opinion not as an MD or a scientist but as a “Curly Girl”, reader discretion advised.

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Weird disclaimer is it not? Still, I am trying to make a point and I will get there.

I officially joined the Natural Hair Community in March 2016, with my 1st Curly Community fan page post, and my 1st hair instagram account, later on in april the Hair Lab was born.

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I never saw another curly girl IG, or blog or web page until last year after I had cut off all my chemically straightened hair. Why? My 1st contact did not cause a good impression and I left. In 2013 or so I googled about curly hair and the first impression was mostly of a competitive, divided, toxic & overall negative environment, my sources where limited to the USA; but that was my turning point of thinking OK I know medicine, I have the books the journals let’s do this on my own terms, I do not need that negativity in my life. You know what? it was great; it gave me time to understand the anger and decide that to each their own and that there are so many different subsets of Natural Hair Communities not only one. I never googled about hair outside of google scholar since then until 2016. I did my transition alone and yes I made many mistakes and no I do not know how to braid my hair, yet.

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Finger curling pre hair blog vs post hair blog lol 

Find your Element

I clearly did not belong in the community of the 1st encounter I had, I now understand where they come from though and I empathize with some, but it was not my element as Sir Ken Robinson puts it, now I Have found my hair element the part of the community that helps me grow. 

I belong here in what I call the “curly community”, the name is irrelevant but I avoid using certain terms to avoid controversy. I may or may not write about it in the future; but for now about my lovely curly community. Our community is inspirational, professional in our own individual way it includes hairdressers, students, doctors, restaurateurs, journalists, photographers, models, engineers, moms you name the profession and we can find it, off course bloggers and vlogers too. In this group “our clique” we are responsible in the way we share our journey, we promote self-love and growth instead of comparison charts and above all we strive to be are positive, humble and real. 

We always cheer for each other no matter if it is something big or small, we genuinely wish the others success, we do not compete we grow together. Today I can say This hair journey has given me more than hydrated locks it has given me women and friends I admire and who are great role models for the younger girls put there looking for powerful, positive female role models. We do not compare each other, we support each other and learn together, we are friends. 

Thank you for your friendship my (curl) friends. 

 

 

I wish you a 2017 filled with critical thinking & good outcomes

The external circumstances might have been good or bad for you in 2016, but what really matters is how you feel & think about it and what you do with those feelings & thoughts.
Harder to accept & deal with are the outcomes of our personal choices, there are no 100% wrong decisions in this world of infinite #possibilities; only learning experiences. Finally, whether we feel we made a right or wrong choice, we can & should always take action; either to correct the perceived mistake or continue moving forward in the right direction.
Those who have had similar personal circumstances might be able to feel more empathy towards your particular case, so be mindful who you include in your personal support circle.

Do not be too harsh on yourself or others for not understanding X or Y circumstance, yet always keep an open mind to discuss important issues, be respectful and kind but do not stay silent when having factual evidence in contrast to ignorant “play & repeat” opinions. Evidence based statements should be more valuable than ignorantly powerful opinions.
In this post factual era do stick to the facts, but do not insist when the battle is lost, we do live in a post factual era after all and self preservation is key.
High emotional intelligence is a rare trait, if you have it use it positively & wisely; inform yourself to the utmost detail before making a statement on a delicate matter because others will undoubtedly be influenced by you.
Do not fall under the false illusion of transferring your emotions to others and blame the circumstances or others for your current situation of perceived failure. Give yourself credit when you do a good job. Be fair to yourself and others.
No matter what you do or what your limitations & capabilities are, always think critically
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.‚ÄĚ Jedi Master Yoda. The Empire Strikes Back.

Curl Caf√© Buena Gente: Community work

I love coffee, I love hair & I love community work. 

Last summer I tried a little social media experiment: Bring people together with similar interests that also happen to have curly hair via instagram! 

The experiment worked and here is what we did together. 

We first found a common cause that was close to our hearts, most of us did not know each other before the curl caf√© and after that have remained friends and kept sharing our curl tips. Even though it was about drinking coffee, tea, and having curl conversation in the end what really brought us together was wanting to help others even in a small way. 

In total 9 people got together to donate and most went to the coffee shop and a few others due to schedulling issues sent their cash donations via wire transfer in order to purchase the goods for the elderly care home. We even got a spontaneous donation by the coffee shop that hosted us. 

When you have good intentions things do work out! 

The care home sent a list of needs! Here they are plus a card

The curl café team!

Don Vicente Coffee

Hogar Bolivar care home

As I reflect upon 2016 and my complicated relationship with Panama, I realize that my happiest moments there have always been related to volunteer & community work. This community spirit was somehow instilled in me by both my parents, no matter how busy all of us were there was always time to cook for someone or make a special donation or host a free origami workshop, something. 

My volunteering goal for 2017: is find an animal shelter were to work on my free time. Do you have a volunteering goal? Share it with me in the comments! Want to get started? I can help, just let me know. 

Have a happy life! 

Carrie Fisher

I have no words, but I will still make the effort to write something about this remarkable woman and creative mind.
Who is Carrie Fisher? I did not know her personally, but if you follow me on IG you know I do 2 things asides hair, I science and I Star Wars, from my science (neuroscience) point of view she is the prime example of SURVIVAL. Carrie Fisher played princess Leia and General Organa in the Star Wars franchise, but she was much more grand than that.

3 words defined Carrie for me: RESILIENCE, COURAGE & HOPE.

She had a disease called bipolar disorder, which justified her behaviors in her early carreer & she struggled & talked openly about it as an advocate for Mental health and kept working.
People complained about her looks bla bla bla but taking certain medications may affect the way people look & her looks were beside the point anyways.

She made a career later on, after the original trilogy not based on looks but on hard work, harder than most, and she proved that she could be successful despite and because of her disadvantages (gender, mental health,etc) She was great until the last day. I highly recommend watching her interview with Steven Fry (he also has bipolar disorder and made a film about it, I disagree with leaving illness untreated but it was a good film) and also watch the red carpet interviews of the london premiere of The Force Awakens she was THE BEST! She will be missed but never forgotten by so many of us for so many reasons. I will remember her for her Courage to be herself and be a positive role model to anyone with Mood Disorders, the correct term, that you can you should try to live.

A note on Mental Health

The only people qualified to treat Mood Disorders are Doctors.

Not all my patients, had mood disorders but as a Doctor with a Neuroscience background I can treat mood disorders & anxiety on a basic level. I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I collaborated with them my scope of treatment of Mood Disorders is limited to mild to moderate cases of depression, but what all Mood disorders have in common is the sense of guilt and illness shaming.
I know the biology of depression,due to my background as a scientific communicator and physician; it is an illness where you can see in the brain a down regulation of serotonin receptors and many more things just like you can see blood when you cut your finger but the skin can be seen with the Naked eye and the brain can not.

I worked with a team that assessed the safety profile of an antidepressant drug some time ago and as it was obvious that I needed to know everything brain, to be able to communicate more effectively that was what got me hooked on neuroscience and guided my future academic interests.
My point is that having depression or Bipolar disorder nowadays and talking about it  is like saying you have the bubonic pest, but Carrie used her personal experience, influence and courage to talk about it for everyone who could be afraid to loose their family, livelihood or job for suffering from it. I once read on an interview that she hoped she could have romantic relationships, I will need to fact check this but it does sound like her alright and it made me feel a bit sad for her and reflect upon the need to do more to educate society about Mood Disorders in General.

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“Depression bipolar or not is a biological illness, it is an illness of an organ that happens to control the rest of the body” I said that.

Most people decide to call mental illness crazy or laziness. Family and friends sometimes are the most unhelpful, because of their poor¬†attempts to “help” (out of ignorance) they either treat them (the patients) like less or blame them for their illness… and at work? don’t get me started about work place abuse and stigma.

About Mood Disorders in the clinical practice: My experience as a Physician

In¬†my country, as a physician you don’t have to disclose in paper always any¬†diagnosis; but what many employers do (unlawfully) is that they ask their workers to tell them, so I always made sure to educate all my patients to disclose symptoms instead of a diagnosis such as changes in bodily function instead of saying they have depression or anxiety. I usually¬†referred my patients after the initial diagnosis and follow up because I ¬†worked as a visiting physician only for a few months 2-3 and I could not¬†do the long term follow up required for managing the brain biochemical imbalances that psychiatrists could, but I also know that more often than not those referrals were not followed up, by my patients because “if you visit a psichiatist you must be crazy right?” another stigma. One patient once told me that Neuroscience sounded better than psychiatry so he would not go see a crazy doctor and he might have been on to something there. The stigma in the society is a problem.
One Mentor gave me that advice (to protect mental health issues diagnosis from employers) when I was a med student, I enquired if it would not be deliberately lying about a diagnosis and she said “it is not lying, if it is the truth” and more often than not depression comes with visible physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal disorders. I only understood why the secrecy was important until years later while sitting in my office with a mother crying because she was afraid that if she took the meds her boss would find out and fire her.

A powerful Carrie Fisher Quote

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.‚ÄĚ
Carrie Fisher

If you need help understanding mental health awareness, do not hesitate to contact me on my IG:Dr_vasquez_MD

May the Force be with you.

Rest in Peace Carrie Fisherimage

My Xmas of Blog: December 27

May the force be with Mark Hamill and the ones who loved Carrie personally. Carrie is Already one with the Force, I worry about the ones left behind. If you have followed me on IG you woukd know I scienced and I Star Wars

I know how it feels to loose a “favorite” one in the end if December, it changes you. There no way to overlook the things that are not about Xmas, or New year’s and it grinchifies you, but today is not about me it is about what Carrie Fisher represented and about how her Space Sibling must be suffering her loss

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