Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Protective Styling Continued

Happy April! I know it's officially been spring for a couple of weeks, but now that it's April, I'm working on leaving winter behind. I try not to complain about the cold and snow, but it's been a long, tough winter for so many of us.  I can't even look at my heavy down coat anymore, lol.

I've been wearing my flat twist updo for the past month, washing and re-twisting about every week and a half.  I've gotten a lot of compliments, and it's been great not having to worry about twisting my hair at night or taking the twists down in the morning.  It was especially nice when I went away for a girls weekend a couple of weeks ago.  This week, I decided to change it up a bit and leave some hair out, so I flat twisted the back and one side, and left the top and other side out.  I attempted a twist and curl using flexi rods, but when I took out the twists the next day, I didn't love the results.  Maybe I made the twists too small, or should have stretched my hair out some before twisting.  I don't know....so last night, I did bigger twists and did a little bantu knot on the ends so that my ends would have a good curl:

I liked the results much better today.  You might be able to see that the side is still a little crunchy, but I know it will work itself out after I twist again tonight or tomorrow.  I really want my bangs to grow longer, but I'm glad that at least they're hanging down and not up!  I might even flat twist the front up for a few days if I get tired of wearing it out.  I'm finally seeing a some progress and appreciating the versatility of my natural hair.  Even my man said that he's happy I'm experimenting with different styles!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Flat Twist Updo Take 1

I've been wanting to do a protective style for a while...one that I could do myself!  Last spring and summer I got twists and micro braids put in by a local braider.  I wanted a style that would give me a break from twisting my hair every night and protect my hair. I used these two videos as inspiration:

Beautiful, right?  I finally found the courage this weekend to give it a try!

After washing and conditioning my hair, I let it air dry about 80% in sections and then blow dried each section using the tension method.  I knew I didn't need my hair straight, just stretched out some, so I didn't use a comb or brush when blow drying to prevent breakage.  I then sectioned my hair into four sections- two sides, front and back.  I made sharp parts for each twist, and applied Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Mask to each section before twisting.  When I was done twisting, I pinned the twists on top of my head.

The whole process took me a little over an hour.  I was worried about the back, because I've never cornrowed or flat twisted up the back, but it wasn't as bad as I thought I would. I definitely need practice, though!

I'm hoping to keep this style for the remainder of the week, re-twisting a couple of twists if I need to.  Once I get some more growth in the front (c'mon bangs!), I know this style will really look nice.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

UPDATED Product Review: Product Review: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

I reviewed this product a little over a year ago, and I didn't think it was the product for me.  Well, that was then and this is now.  I feel like I have a different head of hair than I did in December, 2012.  My hair is longer, thicker, not damaged, and most importantly, moisturized.  I also know that layering with the right products helps, and I think I found my combination with the Curl Enhancing Smoothie.

I've been using it for a while, but I just realized today how well it works for me.  Over the past two weeks, I've been trying other products to twist my hair, and I went back to this last night and woke up with juicy, shiny hair with defined curls.  Based on recommendations from friends, I've been trying other curling creams and butters and they haven't done what this product does for me.  Here's my process at night when I re-twist:

  1. Spray a little water or my water/leave-in/oil mix on each section
  2. Apply a little castor oil to the section
  3. Apply Curl Enhancing Smoothie to the full length of hair in the section, concentrating on the ends
  4. Apply a little bit of Ecostyler Gel to the ends
  5. Twist and bantu knot

Many people know this as the LOC method - liquid, oil and cream.  For a long time, I was applying the oil after the cream, but this way yields much better results.  This combination of products not only moisturizes my hair, but it also stretches it more and makes it a lot easier to style in the morning.  With some products, my hair doesn't stretch more each day, which makes it hard for me to pick the parts out, resulting in breakage.  I never hear or feel hair snapping when I use this!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Saving My Strands

Since I started doing bantu knot outs on a regular basis, I've noticed that I lose a lot of hair.  I've always been a heavy shedder, but I felt like it was too much, and some was breakage.  Here are the steps I've taken over the past few weeks:

  • Incorporating more protein - I like Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor and Infusium Leave-In
  • Oil rinsing - I actually get better results when I apply oil, rinse, and then apply conditioner, rather than applying oil over conditioner
  • Not blowdrying my hair before I twist
  • Not using too much gel - I use Curling Souflee a couple of times a week now
I was at a party last weekend and I was talking to some curlies who told me not to worry about the hair I lose when twisting.  That made me feel a little better, but I still don't want to see as much hair on my shirt/the floor!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Protecting Natural Hair During the Winter Months

So this polar vortex thing is happening everywhere, huh?  Since I'm from the northeast, I've been "winterizing" my hair for years, but now even the curlies in the south need to think about cold, dry air and snow affect their hair.  Here are some of my tips to ensure our healthy locs make it to spring:

Deep Condition
This is probably the most important thing you can do.  I know it's easy to slack off on deep conditioning, especially when your hair gets to a healthy state, but keep doing it!  I skipped two weeks this winter, and I saw a clear difference in my hair's moisture level, elasticity, and manageability.  Since my hair is low porosity, I always deep condition weekly under my hooded dryer or heat cap, which helps the product absorb into the hair better.  I also need a good deep conditioner.  I know when I've found a good one when my hair feels soft and moist when I rinse it out.  I've also incorporated oil rinsing into my regimen, which has helped a lot.

Cover hair when going outside
I know this isn't always possible, but I've made it a practice not to go out in the winter without a hat on my head.  When I don't, my hair becomes dry, hard and frizzy.

Don't forget the satin!
I wear a hat every day, but I make sure it either has a satin lining or I have a satin scarf or cap on under it. These wool and cotton hats will rob your hair of all it's moisture!  It's also important to cover your head with satin when sleeping.  If the air outside is dry, imagine how dry the air is inside!  Satin pillowcases are great, but I retain more moisture when I cover my head with a silk or satin scarf.

Humidifiers are your friend
To the point about it being dry indoors, get a humidifier if you can to moisten the air a little, especially while you sleep.  If I'm in the kitchen for a long period of time, I'll keep a pot of water boiling to add some moisture to the air.

Reconsider Your Products
In general, I prefer lighter moisturizers and oils.  I realized last month that heavier products like shea butter castor oil, and thicker leave-ins aren't too heavy for my hair during the winter.

Stay warm, dry, safe and healthy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year, Better Hair

Happy 2014!

I had a great Christmas and New Year, and a long, much needed break.  Since I didn't have to go to work for a couple of weeks, I got a little lazy about twisting my hair every night.  This was a good thing, because I got to be creative with styling and trying new products.  I do still need to re-twist every night though, because my hair frizzes a lot, even if I put my hair into a bunch of ponytails at night like I used to.  I'm going to stick with my twist/bantu knot out for a little while longer until my hair grows some more.  My twistouts have been less than stellar, mostly because I can't keep the ends curly, and I want my hair to fall down a little more instead of sticking out!

I also stopped blow drying my hair before twisting.  It's not as necessary as I thought it was to achieve a good bantu knot out, and I was losing so much hair in the process (breakage and shedding).  Also, my hair is so much more moist and "springy" when I don't blow dry.

I'm still using most of the same products, but I've incorporated protein and castor oil into my regimen again. I've been using Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor every week or two, and it really has helped cut down on the shedding (I am a heavy shedder!).  The castor oil helps control frizz, keeps my hair moisturized longer, and creates more defined twistouts.  It's definitely a winter staple.  I always think that the heavier products weigh my hair down, but they've been pretty good lately- probably because it's winter, and the air is so cold and dry.

The most exciting thing was that I was able to pull my hair into my first puff!  I'm not able to pull it all into a ponytail, but I can use a headband or a scarf to pull up the sides, front and back.

Since I've been on such a good roll lately with my hair and it's moisture level, I had been afraid to try anything different.  But, I'm glad I did, because now I know not to be afraid of heavier conditioners and moisturizers and oils like castor oil and coconut.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Oil Rinsing

I'm always looking for ways to moisturize my hair!  I knew about oil rinsing, but was weary since my low porosity hair can be very sensitive to oils.  Most times, an oil pre-poo does nothing positive for my hair.  I read some articles about women with low porosity hair oil rinsing their hair, so I decided to give it a try.

Oil rinsing is when you apply oil to your hair after shampooing but before conditioning.  Some people rinse the oil out before conditioning, others leave it in.  Some even put the oil on top of their conditioner.  The advantages of oil rinsing are retaining moisture (of course), less frizz, more shine, and less tangles and knots.

Here's what I did this weekend:

1. Washed my hair with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo.

2. Applied about a tablespoon of heated grapeseed oil to my hair in sections from root to tip.

3. While the oil penetrated my hair, I put about a tablespoon of Trader Joe's Nourish Spa Conditioner in the microwave for 15 seconds, and then applied it to my hair from root to tip.

4.  Put on a plastic cap. I planned on sitting under the dryer, and then rinsing and styling my hair.  I didn't feel like it, so I put a scarf over my cap and went to bed.  In the morning, I rinsed out the conditioner and oil well in the shower under warm water.

* I heated up my oil and conditioner because I know that heat is my friend.  Heating up my conditioners opens my cuticles to allow moisture in.  I've seen a significant increase in moisture level and shine by doing this.
* I chose grapeseed oil over other penetrating oils like olive or coconut because I wanted to use a lighter oil for my first time oil rinsing.  When I have pre-poo'd with heavier oils, it was very hard for me to get most of the oil out, even after shampooing, and I was left with weighed down hair that felt unclean.

My results:

  • Less shed and broken hair - My hair sheds A LOT, and I didn't see as much hair in the shower when I rinsed.
  • Easier to detangle - My hair doesn't tangle much, but my shower comb slid through it very easily.
  • More hang time!  For real, I thought I had long hair when I got out of the shower, lol.  This was the first time I saw my natural hair hang down.  If the weather was warmer, I might have been bold enough to try a wash and go.  I believe this has to do with what Elle from Quest for the Perfect Curl calls coating.  I've been saying for years that my hair needs more of a natural and good "coating" to make it heavier, but not weighed down to fall right and stay moisturized and protected. She's the only other person I've seen discuss this in a way that speaks to me and my hair needs.   

Since I just did this the other day, I'll see how my hair retains moisture this week.  Today is my first day of my bantu knot out, and usually my first day hair isn't the best- it's usually a little drier than the other days...but not today!  My felt moist and looked shiny when I fluffed my hair.

I plan on oil rinsing for my next few washes and will report back my moisture retention and any increase in thickness.