Anonymous no more!

Happy Sunday word press!

This draft has been sitting on my notes, for well, more than a year and the final product does not resemble the original post because a lot has changed since.

The original title was “I am not my Job”

It took a lot of encouragement from a friend outside the medical profession to get this blog started and I was adamant on keeping it private, anonymous; because this is not what “doctors do” but I am not just a doctor, I am a person.

I saw the prompt Overcome and decided to finally overcome my fear to post this opinion, that I always shared with my colleagues or classmates but being the youngest in my class by several years (advance class misfit hereūüí™) my age was always a reason to dismiss certain “radical opinions”.

I am still not ready to share my full name but I have slowly transitioned from Anonymous to Hair Lab MD to L.

I am not my job, what inspired this post was a common saying in the Curly Community “I am not my hair” and I was like well I may not be my hair but my interest is hair now, natural curly hair.

I currently have no sponsors for the next medical congress I want to attend, because being in Germany, still on my Journey to validate my medical license, I do not work at a clinic that would sponsor my trip. This congress is exclusive to Hair Research and while my areas of interest and experience are more focused towards facial rejuvenation and anti-aging, my hair Journey has influenced me to want to work from a medical profesional point of view with hair, all hair types but specially curly hair; where from my sometimes frustrating searches of peer reviewed articles, I have noticed a lack of research focused on hair types other than caucasian straight hair and that is why my medical/science blog has been stuck for so long.

Now, cosmetic chemists they are publishing but again the approach is different; still my current inspirations are cosmetic chemists and I fantasize about what would it be like to sit among kids in their late teens doing a BA in Chemistry…the results of these fantasies are always awkward interactions and an absurd generational gap, but I remind myself that age is just a number which I will continue to not reveal because I truly believe age should not matter in the professional world. Qualifications and results matter more than how old or young you are.

My question for you is shall I “crowdfund” my Hair research congress attendance by rushing a side project I started recently and that has a clear long term timeline?

My idea is simple on stage 1: spread positivity using Curly hair tees, create awareness, mix in a little science, then go a bit more academic; is it wise to change plans? My own answer is not, but 15 year old me would have said well duh! Do it what gives…

I have until September 29 to register to attend the International Hair Research Congress, but the congress is not until November, so I would think I have time to sell a few tees instead of asking for “donations” but promoting them in a way that the proceeding would finance this congress attendance fee. It would give it, to me, somehow a feeling of community and a certain emotional value. I find the idea weird, but I also like it. So here are I am asking WordPress bloggers their opinion.

I want to attend and learn from what others who are in the field are doing.

My final goal is to be able to submit an abstract for a future European Hair Research Society Congress or any of it’s sister societies focusing in understanding the biology of multicultural and afro hair and get a grant for such purpose.

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b, yes I am not my hair but rediscovering my hair has also helped me rediscover my love for medicine & research. I have found new ways to love my career through hair.

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Curly Hair Product Shopping in Germany

I was recently asked about tips for curly hair shopping in Germany and while I am no expert and it took me sometime to get used to it, here I share what I have learned so far. I figured I will compile a little list of the places I have shopped at, as it really is little because when I find something that consistently works for me I simply keep doing it.

In store shopping

Afro Shops/Asia Shops: So far the best places I have found for buying curly hair products are the “afro Shops”or “Asia Stores”, which basically sell a variety of import products and fresh produce. I have shopped so far in 2 stores one in Hamburg near Altona Station which functions as a Hair salon too and it is like curly hair heaven they have the well know heavy hitters such as kinky Curly, As I am and Jane Carter Solution and many more brands to choose from. I do not live in Hamburg but when I have to travel north this is a Mandatory stop. Unfortunately the smaller the city the less chance of these type of stores & the higher the prices.

Basic Hair Shop: Another store I liked is called ¬†“Basic Hair Shop” located in Post Galerie in Karslruhe. Karlsruhe is a smaller city with a lot of start ups and a lively and millenial oriented city, basically a university town where you can find a lot of things to do and see but curly hair products not so much, in this store I was able to find great hair salon brands such as living proof, Morocan oil, Rene Furterer, and the customer service was great.

Dm: Is a drugstore chain that you can find anywhere in Germany and recently they have started stocking up on curly hair brands such as Maui Moisture and in their online store has a few products of the Cantu range available if you like that brand. In general I have tried quite a few products from Dm and have found many of them to be great. Ahh and they also carry Aussie and OGX a very wide selection (the coconut water line is one of my faves).

If you prefer online shopping or live in a smaller town with limited options & want more variety keep reading!

Online shopping:

This gets a bit more interesting because it is my main source of product shopping.

Feel Unique: I found this store randomly while looking for skincare products, they have regular sales and actions and offer free shipping in Germany for purchases over 40 Euros, the most famous curly hair brand they carry is Shea Moisture, but I have also found other great brands such as Yes to, Bumble and Bumble, A’kin, Balance me and to my surprise Aussie! I absolutely love Aussie, it is affordable and performs very well on my hair and it is cheaper than in Dm ūüėÖ.

Naturalistic Products: If you follow me on Instagram you will see that I order a lot from the UK, because a few product lines that I really like, like the Blueberry bliss curls are rather hard to find in Germany. I have yet to find it in a local store or online that carries them. The selection is impressive and if you do not live in a big city like Hamburg in it super convenient not to mention great Customer Service! They also ship to other countries in Europe as well.

Disclaimer: I will link the online stores I mentioned for your convenience, but FYI this is not a sponsored post. I just listed a few stores that offered reliable service and an efficient delivery system. The feel unique link does include a referral code with a 15% discount for your 1st purchase in case you would like to use it, the other links are just regular links to the stores. I will keep updating this post as best as I can if you find it useful.

Direct links to stores & product lines

Feel Unique Online Store German site They offer free shipping on orders over 40‚ā¨ and shipping and it is quite fast and reliable.

Naturalistic Products Online Store in UK They offer shipping to Germany and all over Europe which varies according to the weight of the package and include samples of products.

Dm Online Store Germany Cantu Products

They options for DM are quite varied, they deliver for a cost if ‚ā¨4.95 countrywide

If you are lucky enough to live in cities like Hamburg or Karlsruhe you can request for pick up in a store even if it is an online only product like the curl lines they hold. Most stores allow this service with a few exceptions which are listed on their website.

They also stock Aussie Hair Products popular in the curly hair community.

Where are you from?

Do you find it easy to find curly haircare products where you live?

Do you have any favorite online stores you like to shop in? Let me know in the comments.

Trying new things is scary

So… I finally did it.

I have been working on designs for curly hair t-shirts since last year as a part of a project I had with some friends, but in the end it did not work out because we really did not have the time and I was no longer living in Panama so logistics were complicated.

The idea however of spreading positivity never left me, so I decided to create a small online store with a few designs. I wanted to wait until everything was perfect but nothing ever is and positive feedback motivated me to make it public that this project belongs to me.

Here 1st because it’s more intimate than on Instagramand I want to start really small.

I posted a picture with one of my T-shirts on my instastories and got comments inquiring where I got it, so I told them I made it myself and shared a link to my store and someone went as far as to look for international shipping information even though the online store is in German, because well I live in Germany. I was very surprised and I admit proud and happy to find interested people all the way to India!

I then asked some personal friends their opinions about this and all of them gave me positive feedback and advice and someone even requested a mug, so I created one!

It is scary to do this because it is out of my comfort zone, science/medicine/my privacy, and I don’t know how to promote myself, but here it is my 1st solo curly hair related project Ye Curly Shoppe

International shipping is available, because google translate works very well and german post is very efficient.

PS. It took me days & days to write this post, it somehow felt difficult to advertise myself but I followed an advise I was given to “just do it, you have nothing to loose and a lot to gain, even if it’s feedback on how to improve” so here it is my post about my new store.

Kindly,

L.

The HairLabMD

Summer Holiday Haircare tips

  1. Always wear a sunscreen for your hair & skin.
  2. Always saturate the hair before swimming.
  3. Headscarfs & Hats are a must, they protect the hair from the aggressions of the environment and look super cute.
  4. Do not be afraid of silicones, they do help protect your hair just make sure to remove them well after the holiday is over.
  5. Cowash if you intend to use the pool or swim at the beach for several days in a row.
  6. Keep at hand a spray bottle with either water only or water mixed with your fave conditioner.
  7. Take a travel kit with a few curl essentials either repack in small travel bottles your holy grails or buy one with a full set of products. I will try to review my favorite travel kit on a future blog post.

There are many ways to saturate the hair before swimming

1. Water only: this is particularly useful when using public pools where conditioner might not be allowed and/or as a courtesy to fellow swimmers.
2. Apply deep conditioner before swimming or any kind of conditioner for that matter just let it get absorbed into the hair and coat it very well. I like Aussie hair 3 minute reconstructor because it’s a good one for on the go.
3. Seal with oil before swimming so that way you reduce the amount of external agents that can enter the hair shaft, you can saturate with water 1st and then seal or just seal with oil if you like (I don’t do this as I use products with silicones that have a similar function but I think it is not a bad idea)

After Sun Hair Care

Apply a good conditioner right after swimming even if you don’t wash or cowash your hair right after your swim, this step will prevent your hair from drying out more until the time that you do so and at the beach it would give you a very nice “summery look” and maintaining hydration while you enjoy the sunny days by the pool or at the beach.

Once back home

Clarify with a deep cleansing shampoo I like kinky curly come clean and if this step is not enough you can also use clay masks such as bentonite clay to remove any traces of product and keep your scalp clean and free from build up.
Deep condition as soon as you get back home, and more frequently 2 times a week would be ideal, your curls will thank you for that.
Consider down a protein treatment if your curls are still feeling off balance after cleansing deeply & frequent deep conditioning.

It seems like a lot to do but you can pick & choose how to protect your hair, this is just a collection of things I have found useful and I hope they can help you too.

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! 

My Xmas of Blog: December 24 

Xmas eve is just around the corner! Here in Germany that means more Gl√ľhwein & more Xmas markets, the celebrations here extend to December 26th so tonight is going to be a more relaxed Xmas eve that what we are used to in the American Continent while still having all the festive spirit with shopping & fun deco with the added benefit of the Weihnachtsmarkt in the bigger cities such as Hamburg, where my husband’s Family is from. 

The plan for today, a relax family breakfast and then off to theWeihnachtsmarkt   to drink all the Gl√ľhwein and eat all the fuerwurst! And just rejoice in the lovely, jolly and cosy atmosphere of th√§e German Xmas Markets! And then another relaxed family dinner. We decided to only give gifts to my second nephew? and focus on the little one! On Dec 26th we will have the formal family lunch with Oma & Opa and the whole family! 


Now, About my last Adventkalendar’s gift: today I got a parfum. I am not a huge fan of trying new fragances so this was a bit of a buzzkiller for the last present but that being said, I remembered what I wrote yesterday about unexpected items and got excited again about trying something I would  not have otherwise. Once I test it I will let you know how it went but for now here is a picture of this cute little parfum bottle, that if I like will last me for quite sometime as it seems to be a full size product. 


I must admit it was a difficult challenge to write about something everyday, I missed day 2, but it was also fun and rewarding. 

I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and he recommends to write a story everyday if you want to be a writer and I can see why; it forces you to think creatively,  to look for clever ideas and more importantly to create a sense of duty & responsability  towards the job at hand, in this case blogging about my 1st Xmas in Germany as a resident of this awesome country since April 2016. I have been visiting Germany since 2009 and moving here was the best decision I made in 2015, snd saying yes to my then german boyfriend was the best decision of 2014! I could keep going back in time but I will stop there and have my eyes set on the future and my goals fixed on making it a bright happy future in my new home country! Prost! Frohe weihnachten!

I feel no shame and neither should you! ¬† ¬† ¬† And a letter to my Mother

The Hair Lab Doctor

I thought very hard about writing this post, because it is very personal and also because it is not politically correct and adresses the sensitive topic of race.

It seems like nowadays we live in a culture of shame and today I will adress the shame of having “pelo malo” in Panama that is the phrase people in my country, use when referring to afro hair, which translates to bad hair.

I think it is just a form of casual racism and blackness denial that shames panamanians, even if they have light skin with mildly wavy hair, into frying their hair with flat irons and altering its natural curl pattern permanently with Relaxers and keratin treatments.

Today I feel no shame and never will again about who I am and how my hair looks, my multicultural heritage and my life choices, I used to be ashamed of my hair like a lot of women and girls with afro hair (without being aware of it) but today I say NO MORE.

When I was little I saw the most glorious set of hair on a beauty peagant and it was curly & big like mine is today thanks to the love and tips of many wonderful beautybloggers and vloggers. Back then mine was brittle and it hurt to detangle. My mom did not know how to do my hair because, I Got my curly fro from my dad so that was new territory for my beautiful, adorable & sweet mother. The information was not out there for moms of mixed babies. She loved my curls but I did not, until now.

My beloved mother had thin, fine, high density,wavy hair due to her caucasian, asian, and native american heritage. My mom loved everything black, she loved my hair so much and thought it was beautiful. I wish she could be here to be silly about it with me,she was so funny, but I know she is still watching over me. The point is we are not just a skin color or a hairtype, we are people and people of the same country and culture who should be united not divided by old hatreds and long standing privileges.


As much as my mom and my dad loved everything black the country in which I grew up, I feel, lives in black denial. The gold standard of beauty over there is caucasian and only 6% is in fact caucasian. Panama is a mix race country but somehow there is shame in embracing the part of our nation that came from Africa. I call that The denial of the Black Panama.

Back to the beauty queen with amazing curls? Well it turns out that with deep conditioner, finger curling,air diffusing and good hair care, today I get to see how my hair really is like I and that is the true model of the beauty peagant for me. Off course my hair is shorter and we look nothing alike. I am that beauty queen because I have the courage to walk out there and be as myself as I can possibly be with No apologies and so are you.

The irony of all of this, is that I now know I had the curls I coveted for so long secretly hidden under my flat ironed hair all along, if only the information to care for my hair had been available when I was a child.

I am not ashamed to write a personal story, I am not ashamed of remembering my mom as sweet as she was. She beat cancer even if she died, because every single day after her surgery she went out and did something amazing for others.

Dear mom today I realized I can be the beautyqueen I had always wanted to be and that you already knew I was. Sorry for not being there to save you. I was always away seeing the world and now your piece of the world is forever lost but not forgotten, never forgotten, your legacies stay behind, and I will work hard to move forward and keep changing the world through Education and science.

Dear Mother you were always silent about your accomplishments while others bragged loudly. I will tell the world how amazing you were. Love you my ever so gracious mother.

See you when the stars fall again.

With Love Your Daughter

My mom and my auntie, always doing good deeds

 

The Floating Piers by Christo 

From June 18 – July 3, 2016 Lake Iseo in the Lombardia region in Italy is being reimagined as a living work of art experience.The Floating Piers Mastermind is Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, most commonly known as simply Christo.


The walkway is approximately 3km long and connects Sulzano, The Island of San Paolo owned by the Beretta Family and Monte Isola in Lake Iseo in the region of Lombardia in Italy.

The Island of San Paolo

It is as an impressive work of engineering as it is a work of art with 100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 high density polyethylene cubes, undulating with the movements of the waves as The Floating Piers rise just above the surface of the water.

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Two years in the making

This project has been “under construction” since 2014 and many of tests and manufacturing steps where conducted in Germany. In August and September 2014 a secret life size test was conducted in Schleswig Holstein in Northen Germany, how I wish I had been a curious passet by to witness this experiment that ultimately gave Christo the final measure as to how much fabric will be needed.


The response of the public was above and beyond what was expected. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience! Originally the project was opened to the public 24/7 but due to the unexpectedly high number of visitors the authorities requested the exhibit to be closed at night for maintenance of the local municipality facilities.

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Well this is the last weekend to enjoy The Floating Piers since on July 3rd the exhibit will close and all the materials used will ve recycled, I wonder if I can get one of the byproducts of this magnificent work of art and science. Anyways if you are in Europe this weekend you definitively need to see The Floating Piers! Paraphrasing Christo People dont come to the piers because they are meeting friends or going somewhere, they come to the piers to walk nowhere and as a visitor that loved walking nowhere on water I can not agree more.

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