Friday, July 14, 2017

I Was So Wrong About My Porosity!

I know, it's been forever.  Since my last post, my hair has gone through so much, including going back to the relaxer!  More about that this post, I have to discuss how misdiagnosing the state of our hair can result in damage, setbacks, and making bad decisions.

Shortly after I started my healthy hair journey, I diagnosed my hair as low porosity.  For years, I've been doing techniques and using products for low porosity hair.  Most things didn't work, but I kept at it, because I thought it was the right thing to do.  Sometimes, when things worked for me, I stopped doing it because I didn't think it was good for my low porosity hair.

The strand test is the primary reason I thought I had low porosity hair.  My hair floats sometimes, but other times it sinks.  This is a reminder that one test doesn't always determine the answer!  My hair is also dry a lot, but I thought it was blocking moisture out, not letting it slip  through my hair open cuticles.

Lately it's been a challenge managing my hair.  It's been dry, breaking, and hard to keep a style.  A few days ago, I was racking my brain, thinking about what I did when I had healthy hair:

* I deep conditioned consistently
* I used protein often
* I used semi-permanent color (which I've been doing, without stellar results)
* I used Roux Porosity Control once or twice a month

Me talking to myself: Roux Porosity Control- that's what I had been missing! But isn't that for high porosity hair?  But I'm low porosity- why did it work for me?  Let me just buy some and see what happens...

A couple of days later, I bought some and applied it after I rinsed out my deep conditioner.  I left it in about 5 minutes and rinsed.  When it was dry, I had a different head of hair.  Smooth, soft, shiny, manageable. Retains moisture. Holds curls.

Finally, I breakthrough!  I went back and researched hair porosity. Duh, I have almost every symptom of high porosity hair:

  • Accepts product, and then is dry shortly after
  • Feels dry and coarse
  • Absorbs product quickly and then loses moisture fast
  • Lacks luster and shine (unless I applied a black rinse, which I don't do anymore)

High porosity hair holds up to 45% of its weight in water. When magnified, hair will have raised or broken cuticles, or part of the cuticles will have been completely removed. This hair type does not hold onto moisture as well and therefore may need some help, even if it is taking in a lot of liquid.

This also leaves the inner cortex exposed and the hair vulnerable, which can lead to damage and split ends. This is usually caused by chemical processes, heat styling, and the elements (salt water, cold dry hair, etc.).

This makes so much sense for me, because I've been relaxed most of my life, and have used color.  Also, I've been saying for years that I need a product that will absorb into my hair and give it some weight.  It's like my hair was always so light and didn't clump well.

Every time I did something for high porosity hair, I thought it was just a fluke.  It's really crazy how all this time, I could have been giving my hair what it needs, but I was doing the opposite.  This is why my mis-diagnosis hurt me and my hair:

* I was using the wrong products and techniques.
* My hair was frizzy and hard to manage
* My hair suffered breakage
* I started to hate my hair
* I went back to a relaxer

Now I know what I have to do for my high porosity hair:
  • Deep condition often
  • Use protein regularly
  • Use heavier products
  • Seal moisturizer with oil
  • Try not to use any direct heat
  • Use gentle, moisturizing shampoo
  • Anti-humectants
  • Coconut oil, aloe vera and apple cider vinegar are my friends (the jury is still out on this one)
  • Roller set and pin curl often- high porosity hair does better when "clumped" together

I'm still kicking myself, because I could have a totally different head of hair right now. But, know I know...and knowing in this case is more than half the battle. Maybe I'll think about transitioning to natural again. I just want to get my hair to a healthy state where I feel optimistic about making that change again.  It was tough for me.

The moral to this story is, LISTEN TO YOUR HAIR.  Regardless of your porosity, texture, color, etc., we all have different heads of hair that react differently to products and techniques.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Product Review: Shea Moisture Yucca & Aloe Baobab Thickening Moisture Mist

I bought this product a few months ago, during a Shea Moisture buy one, get one free sale at CVS.  I had never used mists before, so I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but the fact that it is for fine, thin hair attracted me to the product.

Product Description
SheaMoisture's Yucca & Baobab Thickening Moisture Mist for fine, thin hair helps thicken strands and increase volume for thicker, full-bodied hair. - Made with natural and certified organic ingredients. - Baobab Oil contains Vitamins A, C, D, E and F to fortify and strengthen hair. - Yucca thickens hair while adding volume. - Biotin is a powerful B vitamin that strengthens the hair follicle.

Deionized Water, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Extract, Yucca Filamentosa Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Oil*, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, SD 40 Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Wheat protein, Biotin, Rosemary Extract, Bamboo Extract, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower (and) Lonicera Japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower Extract

Spray on damp or towel dried hair, concentrating on roots. Style as desired.

My Experience
I started using this after taking my crochet braids out.  I was experiencing some shedding and breakage.  I use it almost every day on dry hair for my LOC method in the evening.  The mist is the "L" (liquid) in the method before I twist my hair.  It has a distinctive scent, not too strong though, and has the texture and consistency of water.  It's not sticky or oily at all.  I spray 2-3 squirts on each section.

This has become one of my staple products. I love this stuff.  It helped cut down on the breakage (along with a good trim), and my hair stays moisturized and soft and shiny. It makes my hair look so full and big...and I love big hair!  My hair isn't thin, but my strands are fine, and I think this product helps plump up my strands some.  It also keeps my hair more manageable.  I don't really de-tangle at all anymore when I re-twist, not even with my fingers.  All of this has definitely helped me retain growth.  Please note that there is alcohol in this mist, but I haven't noticed any ill effects from it.  I'm actually almost out, and it usually takes me a while to finish a product.  I will definitely re-purchase.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Changing My Way of Thinking

I've been natural a little over two years, and just in the past couple of months have I really come to love my hair exactly as it is.  It's been hard for me not having the hair I imagined I would or should have.  It's also been hard not comparing my hair with all of the beautiful heads of natural hair I see.

I was flipping through the October issue of Hype Hair magazine, and there was an interview with Nicole Ari Parker.  When she was relaxed and more importantly, since she went natural, she's been one of my hair inspirations.  She said something in this interview that really connected with me:

I did the big chop and I did go through a personal phase where I had to adjust to not having long hair, and reevaluate my version of beautiful or sexy.  Our hair is so emotionally connected to us. We’re used to being bombarded with images about what’s beautiful.  I had to remind myself and reclaim my beauty and let my hair grow out of my head the way it wanted to.  It really gave me myself back, and guess what? 
The minute I stopped perming, the edges came back, the breakage stopped, my hair is thick and long, I can straighten in with a flat iron now, and if I want to have a longer style, I’ll add some extensions in the back.  
I also have a daughter and I wanted her to love her hair.  I wanted her to enjoy the thickness, the bigness, the lushness of her hair and I wanted her to enjoy the versatility.  Sometimes she wants to wear cornrows, sometimes she wants to let it air-dry.  And we wanted to raise a little girl who loves jumping in the pool! [Laughs] We were always taught to be afraid of water [getting our hair wet].  So it’s been a spiritual and a personal journey.

I also went through a long period of time where I had to re-define my idea of beautiful. I'll be honest- right before I went natural, I didn't care for a lot of the natural styles I saw out there.  I made a conscious choice not to follow as many relaxed hair blogs anymore and follow more natural blogs. I created a natural hair pinterest board. And, I worked hard to appreciate my hair and other women's hair how it naturally grew from our heads.

I don't have a daughter, but I have a step daughter, goddaughters, and girl cousins and friends who probably look up to me and look at me as one example of a beautiful black woman. I want to show all of them that you can have thick, kinky hair and be beautiful.  Even now, I still feel a certain way when I walk into an event with women who are all relaxed or have weave down their backs.  But then I remember how unique I look, and how much healthier my hair is.

I also love swimming!  Although my natural hair doesn't do exactly what I want it to do when it gets wet, I force myself to get my hair wet when I'm at the beach and enjoy my time in the water.  I just bring a scarf or something to cover it after I swim if I need to!

These past two years have taught me a lot.  Even on my bad hair days- or days I think are bad hair days - I carry myself like there's nothing wrong.  I put on some red lipstick, cute earrings and a smile, and keep it moving.  And you know what?  Those are the days I get the most compliments on how pretty I look!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Haircut & Wash N Go by Jaded Tresses

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a natural hair workshop through my local natural hair meetup group.  The event was this past Saturday, and I was sick with a head cold. I felt so tired and sick and didn't want to go, but as I was laying in bed, I looked up the presenters online, and I saw that one of the presenters was a natural hair stylist from New Jersey/Brooklyn and she was giving a wash n go workshop. I was skeptical about doing a wash n go on this head, but being that she was from out of state, I wanted to see what she had to say.  I've been thinking about going to NYC to get a professional cut and style, so I thought this would help me decide for sure.  Plus, I had already paid for the workshop!! So I got my sick butt up and went to the event at a restaurant about twenty minutes from my home.

The first half of the workshop was a mixing demo with Candace Kelley of Curl Prep.  She showed us how to make a shea butter (I need to get some REAL shea butter!) and a protein conditioner.  Then, the famous Tameeka aka Jaded Tresses aka the "Curl Whisperer" talked about how anyone can do a wash n go. I was still skeptical, but she took a woman from the audience with 4c hair and did it! She showed us exactly what she did and what products she used. She did the wash n go on very wet hair and used the Sweet Buttah she and Candace promote, and an EcoStyler mix (ecostyler, water, & oil). Then she ran the product through the hair. I still wasn't sure it would work on me, though.

Tameeka was also taking appointments the next day at a local salon, so I book an appointment to get a much needed trim.  She washed and conditioned my hair, and then cut my hair while it was wet.  The then re-wet it and shingled my hair for a wash and go.  I saw my hair curl and clump like never before!  Of course it shrunk a lot as it dried, but at least I had curls.  She told me that I don't have the chronic dry hair I thought I have.  She actually told me that I have a nice head of dense, thick hair.  I really enjoyed Tameeka doing my hair. This was my first time as a natural going to the salon (not including the times I got my hair straightened), and it was a great experience. I was treated with respect, Tameeka took me in a timely manner, she gave me a great scalp massage, and we had a fun and interesting conversation- about hair and other things!  She said she might come back to Boston in November, so I might see her again for some color.

That first night I just put a bonnet on and went to bed. In the morning, I rubbed some of the Sweet Buttah on my hands, fluffed, and went out the door. The next night, I put my hair in about 8 ponytails just to stretch it some, and I still had a cute, curly afro! Tameeka said that I'd probably want to do a twistout by day 4 or 5, but that's cool- at least I don't have to twist every night. My hair finally has shape, I don't have to spend 20-30 minutes a night on it, and it looks cute!

This was my hair on day 3:

And then on day 4 after twisting it the night before using just the Sweet Buttah:

I actually like the wash and go look, so the next time I wash it, I'm going to try and go 4-5 days with the wash n go.  I feel like my experience was just the blessing I needed. I was actually thinking about doing the big chop again and just starting over.  I was frustrated with twisting it every night, not having a shape, and thinking that my hair was dry and unhealthy.  Hallelujah!! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Benefits of Avocado for Hair

Avocado oil is a great oil for hair.  It has a high amount of monounsaturated fatty acid, which helps moisturize, strengthen and nourish dry and damaged hair. Using avocado to massage the scalp also stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles, helping new growth and healthier hair. It also has high levels of vitamin E, which is also moisturizing and protects against environmental damage and helps to unclog blocked follicles.  You will also find the super good vitamins A, B, and D. It also has protein, amino acids, iron, copper, magnesium, and folic acid - all nutrients that help keep hair healthy and damage-free.

I bought avocado oil a while ago, but I've been using it more and more lately.  I find that it is a good sealer, and doesn't weigh my hair down like some other oils.  I've used it to pre-poo, for my oil when I'm moisturizing using the LOC method, and to rub on my hands when I'm taking down my twists (this is my favorite way to use it). 

I have read reports that too much can make the hair brittle, so as with almost everything, I use it in moderation!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Product Review: ION Demi Permanent Creme Hair Color

If you've been reading this blog, you know that gray coverage is one of my biggest hair challenges.  I started seeing gray hairs the day I turned 30, and every year, I see a little more.  My gray grows mostly around my edges in the front with some random white strands in my crown.  Every year, they also seem to get more stubborn to color.  Some strands are a different texture than the rest of my hair- more wiry, thick, and harder to control.

For years, I used semi-permanent color, either at home or at the salon, and it worked.  I could apply the color right after relaxing, and it would cover my gray until my next relaxer most times.  I also loved semi-permanent color because it helped moisturize my hair and increase the shine.  It was a great option for my low porosity hair.  A few years ago, I noticed that only the black colors would cover the gray, and that I would have to re-apply every 2-3 weeks.  BUT, I'm allergic to PPD, a chemical that is in a lot of black and dark brown dyes.  After I cut out my relaxer, semi-permanent colors stopped working in my hair altogether.  They didn't cover the gray or help with moisture and shine.  It was a waste of time and money to apply them.   I tried henna, but it ruined my hair (a different story for another time).  Permanent color is not an option for me at this time because I want to get my hair to a healthier state before risking a permanent color.

I had been reading about demi-permanent color, mostly about how it's good for low porosity heads because it lifts the cuticle, allowing moisture in without damage.  I was afraid to try it for a long time, but when my curlfriend Suzy told me about her success with it, I decided to give it a try.  I bought the ION Color Brilliance Intensive Shine Dem-Permanent Creme Hair Color from Sally Beauty for about $5. I also bought the level 10 developer for sensitive scalp for about $2.  I've applied this product twice, so I'll discuss how I applied it both times.

Product Description
  • Enhance, change or increase the color intensity
  • Ionic protection for stronger hair structure
  • Botanically derived nourishing ingredients
  • Fade resistant and intense conditioning
  • Cover and blend gray hair up to 100%
  • Maximum light reflection and shine
Ion Color Brilliance Intensive Shine Demi Permanent Creme Hair Color is a state-of-the-art European Ionic Formula that is a luxurious, long-lasting, deposit-only hair color without ammonia.

Covers and blends gray hair without lifting the hair's natural pigment. Same-day color with chemical relaxers and permanent waves.

The Ionic formula provides protection for stronger hair structure. Ion Color Brilliance Demi Permanent Creme Hair Color contains botanically derived nourishing ingredients with a refreshing fragrance.


Select desired shade. Mix 2 oz. of Ion Intensive Shine Demi Hair Color with 4 oz. ion Sensitive Scalp Crème Developer 10 Volume in a non-metallic bowl. Mixing ratio is 1:2 unless otherwise noted. See Color Objective Chart.

All instructions are based on average texture, normal porosity; Fine hair is much more receptive to hair coloring where coarse hair is not.

Use Ion Color Brilliance Pre-Color Treatment to help ensure even color results from scalp to ends. A 5-minute cool down is recommended if heat is used prior to rinsing. Standard processing time is 10-40 minutes at room temperature and 10-15 minutes with heat. After processing, rinse hair thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Shampoo and style as desired

My Experience

First time: The first time I used this, I bought the #3N Dark Natural Brown Color.  I read a lot of reviews saying that the color results are dark, and if you leave it on long, you'll have black hair.  I didn't want black hair, but I also wanted to make sure the grays were covered.  I mixed the whole bottle of color with the entire bottle of developer (1:2 ratio).  It took me about 10 minutes to apply the color, and then I sat under the dyer for 30 minutes.  I then co-washed it out.  I kept it in too long, because my hair was pretty much black!  I also had some staining around my hairline.  The skin along my edges felt a little irritated. I was so scared I had an allergic reaction, but this product doesn't contain PPD.  I think I just left it on too long, and I had applied the product to my edges first.  The irritation went away after a day or so.

Second time: I applied the demi permanent again about 5 weeks later.  The grays that the color covered were still almost black, but I had a lot of newly grown grays around my edges.  This time, I used color #4N Medium Natural Brown. Again, it took me about 10 minutes to apply to my whole head, but then I just walked around with a plastic cap on my head for another 10-15 minutes, without heat.  I shampoo'd the color out this time. The shorter time with the product in my hair, along with using shampoo prevented the staining, the dark, dark color, and the skin irritation.  The result was a dark brown, but not black at all.  A week later, I noticed my hair looked lighter brown in the sun.

Both times, my hair was shiny and so moisturized...or, should I say the product opened my cuticles so that I could get some moisture into my hair.  Since using this product, my hair responds to products SO much better.  Before, any product just sat on my hair, but now I can actually form an accurate opinion on a product since my hair is finally absorbing it.  There are also a lot less broken hairs in my brush, on my shirt, and on the floor.  I haven't seen the color run at all, even when using shampoo. The only grays I see now are the new ones popping up!  I really wished I had tried this at the beginning of my natural hair journey, because it would have saved me months and months of dryness, breakage and frustration.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Hair Vacation is Over!

I'm sad that summer is coming to an end.  However, I am excited about all of my hair possibilities this fall!

Since the end of April, I had been wearing crochet braids as a protective style.  I kept them in for about 4 weeks at a time, and I have installed them 4 times over the summer.  It was an easy style to install and maintain, and I was happy to have a four-month break from my hair.  However, it's really important to me that I know how to take care of my own hair and have it looking good.  I took a few days off from the crochet braids and worked on my twistouts a few times.  I also applied a demi permanent color between installations, which not only did a good job covering my grays, but also opened my cuticles to allow more moisture.  I took them out last week, and I want to wear my natural hair for a while.

I'm still learning more about keeping my hair moist.  I recently did the Cherry Lola treatment, which my hair loved. I also left in some conditioner, which has helped keep my hair moist for the past five days (a miracle for me).  I'm not sure what good gel is doing to my hair, if any, so I've challenged myself not to use gel.  In my most moisturized look, I didn't use any gel, just a curling cream.

Here is a little collage of my hair in between my crochet braids.  I noted where I achieved the most moisture. This is also when I have the best curl definition.

I liked how my hair came out in each photo, but for different reasons: moisture, definition, how my hair falls, how thick and healthy it looks, how stretched it is.  I would love to be able to roll them all into one, but I'm getting there!

I've been using some different products, so I'll be doing more product reviews in the near future. I just want to use them more consistently to have solid opinions.