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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Out of Whack

I'm in a weird place right now. My hair and my body in general are a little out of whack. I have been really stressed the past 5-6 months and I'm sure that's the root of everything. My aunt was sick and passed away, I was broke and trying to sell one of my houses, and I was in the process of moving out of state and trying to find a new job and get my b**ch-a$$ tenant out of my house. The fortunate thing is that a lot of my stress has gone away- I sold my house, my tenant moved out and I moved in, I'm closer to my family, and I got a great job offer. So now that I am so much less stressed, I've been trying to figure out what is going on with my body. I lost about 20 lbs in the past 6 months, which is good on one hand because I needed to lose some, but now I don't have any clothes that fit! I never thought I'd be this small again, so I got rid of my small clothes a while ago. My skin is in good shape, it's just my weight and my...

...HAIR (of course) that need dire help. My poor hair. Some days I think I should cut it to a teeny weeny afro and just start over. But I don't want to do that. Since I got my hair cut last week, my hair feels better and looks a little better, but I'm still not happy. I'm still experiencing a lot of breakage and shedding, but it's a lot less than it was. I still haven't found a good moisturizer, but I'm also thinking that since my hair is so damaged and a different texture than it was 6 months ago, I may have to wait for it to grow some more before it acts right and absorbs product like it used to. I also haven't found a good leave-in conditioner, but I'm going to try Giovanni Direct after my next co-wash.

Monday I pre-poo'd with a mixture of garlic juice (for shedding), castor oil and some cheap conditioner. I wasn't impressed. I co-washed with my Suave Tropical Coconut, did an Aphogee 2-minute treatment and dc'd with Nexxus Humectress. I did an apple cider rinse after mixing 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. The Aphogee definitely made my hair stronger, but the Humectress and acv didn't give me the results I wanted. When I rollerset my hair, it felt strong, but a little hard. I'm thinking I didn't rinse the acv out enough! My hair came out shiny, but not as silky as I wished. I am almost 6 weeks post relaxer, but I know my set could have come out better.

I just saw a strand of hair on my shirt and I did an elasticity test. My hair is getting better. And, it holds a curl soooo much better now!

Here are some of my take-aways/plans for the future:
  • Pre-poo's are great- I just have to find the right stuff to use. I know that I can only use a little vatika oil. I would like to add the Elasta QP DPR-11, but I'm not sure if I should mix it with the oil, put it on before the oil or apply it after the oil.
  • I'm giving the Nexxus Humectress a break for a while. When I use it on my dry hair, it turns it to mush. When I use it on wet hair, it just sits on my hair.
  • I'm only going to DC with ORS Replenishing conditioner. The only reason I didn't use it this week is because I did the Aphogee treatment which already has protein. Then again, I think protein is good for my weak hair right now.
  • I'm not wrapping my hair anymore except after I take my rollerset out. I'll be doing pincurls and cross-wraps from now on.
  • I need to buy a smaller flat iron to get my roots. I am not good with the blow dryer, so I need to just stop trying.

This post may seem a little negative, but I'm trying to stay positive and appreciate the little bit of progress I've made over the past 3 months in my journey. I may not have found the right products yet, but at least I know what the wrong products are so far. And, I'm optimistic about getting it healthy again, so I will continue to think positively. I used to cry when my hair was messed up like this, but I'm not going to let myself go there again. Even though I'm not happy with my hair, I know there are women out there with worse problems and would kill to have my hair.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I did it!

I got a hair cut today. Not a trim, a cut. I had to. My ends were just too damaged. I was going to try a new stylist, but I went to my old stylist, who is good, she's just not as good as her prices. Anyway, I'm glad I did go to her because she called my hair horrendous, and I wouldn't have taken that well from a stranger. I got a protein treatment, a color, and almost 2 inches cut off. My hair is still weak, but it's better, and at least now it will hold a curl. I thought I would feel bad about getting it cut, but I really don't. What good is having long hair if I can't do anything but put it up?! I'm working towards hair health more than hair length. Call me vain, but I feel better about myself when my hair looks nice. Plus, my birthday is tomorrow and I'm not trying to look busted on my day!

Hopefully, my days of having a sink full of broken hair are over!

My stylist does believe that I can have long hair, I just have to keep it healthy. She doesn't believe that wrapping isn't good for me. She thinks I'm just not wrapping the right way. She told me not to worry so much about the products I use, but the styling techniques I do.

I made a stop at the beauty supply store after I left the salon. I didn't really need anything, but I love that store and I was passing by it! I bought some satin covered rollers, a satin bonnet, a bottle of Aphogee 2-minute Reconstructor, ORS Olive Oil Hair Lotion and some end papers. I walked around another beauty store a few hours later, just to see what they had and how their prices were. I really need to stop.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A better day

I'm still co-washing, and my hair is getting stronger every day. I actually like (a little) how my hair looks today. I'm not sure what happened last week, but my hair is better. I think I used too much oil in my pre-poo.

I actually got my hair done last week. I went to a Dominican salon referred by Ms. S. The person she referred me to wasn't there so my stupid butt let someone else in the shop do my hair. She shampoo'd me really hard- which I didn't like. I used to like getting my head scratched, but I've realized how bad it is for my scalp. I'm not sure what kind of shampoo she used but she dc'd with Nexxus Humectress. She then rollerset my hair on small/medium rollers. When she took the rollers out, she blew my roots out in the front- way too hard, put way too much ORS olive oil on my scalp and in my hair, then wrapped me in some pink neck strips! When I took the wrap out, I didn't like my hair at all. Besides the hard washing, I didn't like all the grease she put in my head or how she blew my hair out. I did like the olive oil a little, even though she used way too much (the neck strip wrapped on my head had greasy spots on it), but it didn't weigh my hair down at all. I went to the BSS the next day to buy some, but I saw that it has mineral oil so I skipped it. I also liked the way she rollerset my hair. I used the method to rollerset my hair yesterday. I usually roll the front of my hair forward, but she rolled every piece to the side. For that, I don't feel like it was a total waste of $30.

So my co-wash yesterday came out so much better. I pre-poo'd with a little vatika oil and Elasta QP DPR-11 (I think the DPR-11 is better as a pre-poo than a dc for me). I co-washed with Suave coconut, dc'd with ORS replenishing conditioner, and used a drop of Paul Mitchell the Conditioner as my leave-in. I sprayed diluted Lottabody on my hair and put a little Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum in. I rollerset on smaller rollers than I usually do. When I was dry, I wrapped my hair and went to bed. When I woke up this morning, my hair looked fuller than it has in months. The Paul Mitchell leave-in is a thickening conditioner, so I guess that was it (although it didn't work well for me a couple of months ago). I also think I haven't been using enough setting lotion, so I sprayed often as I rollerset. I still don't like my hair when it's wrapped because the side I end the wrap on is always straighter, wilder and just wrong. I was certain yesterday that I was going to call my stylist to get my hair CUT this week, but now I'm not so sure. My ends are still thin and dry, but they're getting better I think.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something Went Wrong

The past couple of days have not been good hair days. I co-washed on Sunday, using the same products I did the last time, adding the Beautiful Brown semi-permanent color. But my rollerset didn't come out too good, so I used the curling iron to press my roots (I used Motions heat protector). My hair was still getting thicker, but it was really unmanageable and a little hard. Maybe I used too much vatika oil to pre-poo...maybe I had too much build-up...maybe the color made my hair hard...maybe my hair didn't like the heat protectant...or the curling iron. So I did it again. This time I pre-poo'd with some Pantene conditioner- no oils this time. I co-washed, once with V05 Vanilla Mint Tea Clarifying Conditioner and once with Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner. I dc'd with Nexxus Humectress. After rinsing, I used Cantu Shea Butter leave-in and put a dime-sized amount of Dudley's PCA Moisture Retainer in, concentrating on my ends. I put my hair in a clip, smoothed down my edges, and put a silk scarf on. With all of those conditioners I used, My hair and hands smell so good!

I'm really trying to get the elasticity back in my hair. That's probably why it won't hold a curl long anymore. I was thinking about getting a professional rollerset tomorrow or Thursday because I'm also thinking my rollersetting technique isn't the best...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hooked on Conditioner Washing

I "co-washed" for the first time on Sunday. I made a 12-hour drive on Saturday alone (well.. I had my puppy!) and moved in and cleaned my house on Sunday. I hadn't unpacked my hair products, so all I had was some travel sized Motions De-tangling conditioner and Nexxus Humectress. After co-washing, I put some Dudley's PCA Moisture Retainer in, put my hair in a clip, put a silk scarf on and went to bed. When I woke up, I didn't notice much difference in my hair, but then again, I never airdry. The next couple of days I just kept it up and moisturized.

I co-washed again Wednesday morning. I pre-poo'd for about an hour with vatika oil (yes, I am giving oils another try..) and washed with Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner. I deep conditioned under the dryer for about 15 minutes with KeraCare Dry & Itchy Scalp Conditioner. I rinsed, used a little Salerm 21 and rollerset with diluted Lottabody. I also tapped each end I rolled with the Dudley's PCA Moisture retainer. I wrapped with saran wrap and sat under the dryer another 10 minuted. I still can't believe how stronger my hair looks and feels. I can't wait to do it again this weekend!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More diagnosis of my hair...

Is Your Hair Healthy?
Surprising ways you might be taxing your tresses — and the easy fixes.
By Krista Bennett DeMaio

What’s your damage?

Check the Bulb
Pluck out a strand of hair at the root and examine the base. Strong hair has a thick bulb. “If there’s no bulb, the hair follicle isn’t healthy,” says Michael Shaun Corby, global creative director for Alterna Hair Care. The cause? Damage from styling or, potentially, genetically linked hair loss.
I had a bulb! ;-)

Give It a Tug
Wrap a strand of hair around your index finger and thumb (like a piece of string), then use your other hand to tug on it. If it snaps immediately, your hair is lacking moisture; if it stretches “like bubble gum,” says Corby, it needs protein, which strengthens the hair’s keratin bonds.
My hair snapped immediately. I’m on a moisture mission...

Do the "Sink or Float" Test
Drop a strand of hair into a glass of water. A healthy strand will float. If it sinks, the shaft is porous. This can happen to color-treated hair, but it can also occur with a protein deficiency. To get a fair picture of your hair’s overall health, repeat tests on at least four strands from different parts of your head, suggests Donna Maggi, education manager of Nioxin, a hair- and scalp-care company.
My hair floated. One more thing to fix..

Stop a Bad-Hair Day Before It Starts
If you go outside with wet hair
Outdoor elements (wind, cool temperatures) can be rough even for dry hair, explains Corby. But when hair is wet, it’s actually more fragile and susceptible to breakage.

Healthy-hair fix: Try styling products designed to cut drying time. The Paul Mitchell Express Style line, for example, is formulated with technology to help hair dry faster.

If you don’t use UV protection
You shield your hair from UV rays at the beach, but what about at the office? “Like the sun, the fluorescent lighting in your office fades color and damages hair’s integrity,” says Corby.

Healthy-hair fix: Use styling products with UVB and UVA protection. “It’s important to have protectants in your styling products too,” says Maggi. “Styling products stay in hair, while your shampoo rinses out.” Try Logics Color DNA styling products, with UV filters.
I need to find some products with UVB & UVA protection

If you wear your hair in ponytails — a lot!
“If you wear your hair in a ponytail or a bun in the same spot every day, you’re causing breakage,” says Anderson.

Healthy-hair fix: Let your hair down! But if you must put it up, “look for elastics with a plastic-y feel so they glide through hair,” says Corby. Try Blax Snag-Free Hair Elastics Ponytail Holders — stylists love them.
I don't wear ponytails that often, but I do want to buy some of these!

If you frequently wield a flat iron
“Women who use flat irons hit the same areas with the same intensity day after day,” explains Corby. “You can easily burn your hair.”

Healthy-hair fix: “Do as much as you can with the blow-dryer,” says Corby. It causes less damage than an iron. Also, coat your strands with a silicone-free heat-protective serum. Try Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Radiant Smoothing Lotion, with hydrating rhodiola extract.

If you don’t address your dandruff
“You never want to leave dandruff to its own devices,” says Anderson. The more you scratch, the worse it gets — you’ll end up damaging your scalp. “And a healthy scalp means healthy hair,” she says.

Healthy-hair fix: Stop the itch with a dandruff-controlling shampoo and the latest innovation: dandruff-fighting conditioner. Head & Shoulders Conditioner Dry Scalp Care boosts the effectiveness of active anti-dandruff ingredients left on the scalp by 50 percent.
My KeraCare Dry & Itchy Scalp Conditioner has done wonders for my hair and scalp!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Goal Updates

I just wanted to post some my progress with my goals (on the right menu):

1. More thickness - I don't want to see through my hair!
It's getting there... My ends are still see-through, but the top half of my hair is better due to regular deep conditioning.
2. Grow to at least shoulder length by the summer
I think I can make it by June since even after a trim, my hair was almost hitting my shoulders!
3. Wait at least 7-8 weeks between relaxers (I usually go 6, but I've realized it's too short)
I went 8 weeks this last time, and 7 weeks the time before. I think 8 may be my limit because I had a lot of shedding and breakage. Either that, or I need to find a better conditioner.
4. Be able to rollerset my hair and have it look like I got it done
I'm still trying to find the best setting lotion and dilution to make my curls stay longer. I also need to work on my hair elasticity.
5. Find a healthy platinum coverage
I just used the darkest brown color from Beautiful Collection, which covered the platinums and conditioned my hair.
6. Take hair/nails/skin vitamins
I've been taking a One a Day Women's vitamin every day for the past month.
7. Stop scratching my scalp & playing in my hair during the day
Making the conscious effort not to scratch has done wonders! I didn't burn one bit my last relaxer, which is amazing for me. My flaky scalp is just about gone except for some small patches. I still put my fingers in my hair too much during the day, though!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

January - March progress

Conditioner Washing?

Conditioner washing, or co-washing, is when you use a conditioner instead of shampoo to cleanse the scalp and hair instead of shampoos which are harsh and drying. It's a gentle way to cleanse hair and get rid of product build-up. The benefits are soft manageable hair, faster growth from scalp stimulation, and healthy moisturized ends. I think this might help my hair get stronger. Next week I want to try doing a co-wash 2-3 times a week. Most shampoos (I think all the ones I have) have sodium laryth or some derivative which is extremely drying for hair. I've always thought that shampoos were harsh on my hair and leave it dry and stripped. It might even help my color rinse stay a little longer. I'm a little afraid of styling my hair afterwards (do I really want to rollerset my hair 3 times a week?!) but now that the weather is getting warmer and my hair longer, I can try a braid-out or just put it up in a bun.

Here are some tips for co-washing. It's probably best for people with natural hair, but I've heard some relaxed head doing really well with it. And, it should help soften my new growth!