Friday, June 12, 2009


Cathy Howse vs. Wanakee

Back in the early 90's, Cathy Howse and Wanakee were the black hair care goddesses. They each had their own black hair care system that promised to help other ladies achieve great lengths with their hair. I remember being in awe of Wanakee's waist-length hair. I thought she was beautiful, and although I never tried any of the Verifen Complex products she touted, I totally digged her tips for healthy hair.

Cathy Howse was a favorite among my grandma and mother, who purchased her books and swore by her homemade protein treatment. My mother would make a big batch of it and divide it between the three of us. We all loved how her homemade concoction made our scalps feel tingly thanks to the eucalyptus oil it contained. That tingling sensation made us believe that we could actually feel our scalp pushing out more hair!

Unfortunately, Wanakee is no longer the spokesperson for Verifen complex, although it is still in business today under the url Why she exited the business, I don't know. Yet, I'll never forget her long luscious locs, or her tips for healthy hair. In fact, the regimen I follow today can be greatly attributed to the tips she outlined in the brochure I obtained years ago, and still own to this day! Keeping the hair well moisturized, getting regular trims, and washing the hair once a week are three things she promoted that I firmly stand by. I even incorporated those tips as part of my 10 Tips For Healthy Hair video.

I was reading a magazine recently and saw an ad for Cathy Howse's Ultra Black Hair products. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this sistah is still doing her thing! I decided to visit her site and was a little disappointed to see that she disses (in a nice way Free Smileys), Wanakee's Verifen Complex method. Now, one thing I must say is that I never liked Cathy Howse's philosophy on hair care, because she does not believe in trims. If I've said it before, I'll say it again: I desire to have healthy hair, not just long hair. I believe it's impossible to have, in general, healthy hair if you do not rid yourself of split ends (The reason I say in general is because the reality is, we'll always have some amount of split ends in our hair because it's virtually impossible to detect all of them). Furthermore, split ends, if not treated, can cause the hair to break, meaning you will see little to no growth. That is the biggest reason why many black women don't achieve great lengths: lack of proper care causes the hair to break off as quickly as it grows.

Now, you ladies have seen my hair growth progress over the years. Just check out the Photo Gallery page. That progress came about even in the midst of many trims and hair cuts! Thus, no one can ever convince me that trimming the hair is harmful to one's progress. If you've watched my hair trimming video (How To Trim Split Ends), then you know that it is possible to trim your ends without taking off too much length. As long as you're not the victim of a scissor happy stylist, your trims should improve the health of your hair and not hinder any progress in terms of length. Cathy, I believe, was a victim of scissor happy stylists and therefore despises the mere notion of trims. When asked what she thinks about Wanakee's products, Cathy had a mouthful to say not only about the Verifen Complex system, but Wanakee's hair care philosophy overall:

"As far as Wanakee products, I don't use them and I know that the "research" she said she did in her pamphlet says "grow, grow, grow, trim" implying that we need to trim our hair to make it grow -- In my opinion -- anybody proclaiming that message is promoting a gimmick. We have tried the "trimming" thing for decades and if that REALLY worked -- there would have been no need for my research, book or products! My website has a review of her methods by one of my customers, take the time to read it, as these words come from someone who says they have used it unsuccessfully. As far as if her products are good, I do not know anything about her products as I have never tried them. Paula Begoun reviewed her products and I incorporated many of Paula's comments in my book.

I do know from personal experience that "protective styles" aka French Rolls and "buns" rob my ends of moisture when I put them against the other hair. My ends become very crisp and dry which is obviously not what I would want for my ends! I wear my hair down EVERYDAY and it has not hindered my hair growth! I do not wear "protective styles" and do not believe they provide any benefit in helping me keep my hair on my head and add length!"

Now, I don't know what you ladies think about that, but it sounds like someone is trying to promote their products by discrediting that of another's. The one thing I do agree with Cathy on is that I don't think you have to wear protective styles all the time to preserve growth. Yet, I do think they help the hair. She claims wearing buns and things of that nature cause her ends to feel dry and crisp, but I find them to further nourish the hair, as my hair seems to soak up moisture when I put it in a bun. And, if she read Wanakee's brochure thoroughly, she'd know that she offers an alternative to those, such as myself, who may not be a big fan of sporting protective styles 24/7:

"Many women feel that wearing their hair up is not flattering to their face. For those women it would be beneficial, after arriving home from work or daily outings, to lightly coat the hair with Wanakee Oil for the Hair (especially the ends) and put it up for the remainder of the day. This way, it can be protected for at least part of the time."

Although I lean more toward Wanakee's hair care philosophy (which I'll outline in full in a later post), I believe both she and Cathy offer great advice to women that are struggling to grow their hair long. I don't believe you have to use Wanakee's or Cathy Howse's products to achieve great lengths, for regardless of what products one uses, there are some healthy hair care practices that if followed, will be beneficial to the health and growth of one's hair. Even though I think Cathy's protein conditioner is banging, I can use Aphogee and get the same results. If I absolutely had to choose between the two, I think I'd stick with Wanakee's philosophy, and throw in a bottle of Cathy's protein treatment from time to time Free Smileys.

If any of you ladies are familiar with Wanakee's or Cathy's hair care philosophy or products, I'm interested in hearing what you have to say about them. Who would win the hair care battle in your opinion?


Christina said...

I've never heard of these ladies, but I do not agree with Cathy about trimming are wearing protective styles. When I straighten my hair my Hubbie trims it for me and my hair continues to grow. I trimmed my hair all the way to APL, until I cut off the relaxed ends. Not only that, but my natural curls feel and curl better after I've had a good trim. As far as protective styling, my hair retains moisture better when I wear a bun, which causes me to retain my growth...I guess it's just different strokes for different folks.

lakitiamarie said...

As far as who will win the battle I'm not sure. I never researched Wanakee's method. I have Cathy's book and read it a couple of times. I bought the book a while back. I used her conditioner and mist spray for moisturizing but never bought it again after finishing the products. I like the book and have recommended it to other ladies. From time to time, I still refer back to the book. Now when the book talked about trims she stated that trim are not necessary for growth. Of course she talks more about how the hair grows from the scalp and so forth. So for me it was an eye opener and educational because my mindset behind trims was different. Now I didn't stop getting trims because I prefer to have nice looking and healthy ends. I know for my hair trims were necessary because I flat ironed all the time every day. Honestly, not until I ran across your YouTube channel, KISS and Healthy Textures is when Cathy's method actually started to make sense. I had to deprogram my whole mindset of how to care for my hair that I learned growing up. I must say that Cathy’s book set the foundation for my new and improved take on hair care. But with anything that I learn or research, I use that information as a guide and do what works for me and my hair.

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

in the pic you posted of cathy, her ends are actually see through and look like she could use a good 1 or 2 inch trim to get rid of the see through ends!

LongHairDontCare said...

actually my 3C's philosophy incorporates a little Cathy and a little Wanakee - i guess you can call it CathAkee LOL

i believe in no-contact styling and i also believe that frequent trimming defeats the purpose of growing your hair out....see, CATHAKEE!

EbonyCPrincess said...

I agree with Lakita wholehearedly. Cathy's book helped me alot: frequent washing, DCing with heat every single wash, moisturizing daily, not using brushes, etc. I think many people misinterpret her comments about trimming. She never states that trims are unnecessary for healthy hair or "good looking" hair - she simply states they have absolutely nothing to do with GROWTH. To prove her point she grew her hair without trimming to show women that trims do know help your hair to grow. As Lakita said, I always heard and believed differently (your hair grows faster after a trim). I don't think protective styling is necessary either - but I agree that no heat (however you style) aids in hair growth. So in my book Cathy wins! But you said it when you said buying her products is NOT necessary for success!

Anonymous said...

I have used both products. I learned of Wanakee years ago and purchased her products and followed her outline or hair care. I did see my hair look health and did see some hair growth especially when I used her braids oil spray which they do not sell anymore. The contants ends and the haircreme were my favorites. The condtioners and shampoos were good. I liked her products but it did appear after a time I was not seeing the same results so I found myself looking for something else and came across Cathy's products so I purchased her book and products. In the beginning I saw results with my hair but then my hair beginning to break off really bad so I was not sure if it was from the products. I stop using Cathy's products for awhile. I just tried to find other products in stores based on what I had read in books as it relates to right products for black hair. I did eventually start back using Cathy's products only because I had purchased them and did not want to waste my money. I think Cathy's protein conditioner is okay, however, because I am in transition with my hair it appears the moisturizer made my hair kinky. I am sure the moisturizer would work better if my hair was relaxed. I like the hair dew spray but again it too makes my hair kinky. I think both ladies products served their purpose for me for only a time. The advice they both gave I still work to apply with my hair regimen. I am presenting using Lisa Akbari products. I love the shampoo and the hair moisturizer. She also has hair vitamins. I am seeing results and length but ofcourse I always seem to see results in the beginning when I try new products but I am hoping I have finally found what I need for my hair. You can check out Lisa Akbari products on her website.

Orelia said...

Cathy Howse's book & products has helped my hair a lot! I have been using her products for a couple of years now & I don't want to use any other products. As far as trimming my hair for growth..I don't do that. I trim my hair strickly for neatness..that's it. When my ends look a mess..that is the only time I would put sissors to my hair. Moreover; with me moisturizing my hair every night, especially my ends, I notice that I rarely need trims, I don't have "see through" hair & my thick, relaxed hair is growing nicely. Happy Hair Journey!