Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to Black...Again

I am a little over 9 weeks since my last relaxer.  I usually get a relaxer at 10 weeks, so this weekend's was in preparation for my relaxer.  Here were my steps with some explanation:

Pre-poo.  I now pretty much only pre-poo with oils, ever since the Organix Conditioner I used as a pre-poo a few months ago left my hair a nasty tangled nest.  For this weekend's wash, I decided to try conditioner again, but mixed it with a lot of oil.  I hate getting back in the shower to rinse out my deep conditioner, and I always feel like I'm not doing the best for my hair when I rinse in the sink, so I want to dry to deep condition on dry hair for a while to eliminate that extra step.  I mixed Vatika oil with about 1/3 of an ORS Replenishing Pak.  I also added some Pantene Breakage Defense Mask and Pantene Relaxed and Natural Conditioner.  I don't use these conditioners much anymore.  They're pretty good on my hair, but not great, so I want to use them up.  I applied the mixture like a relaxer to my whole head with a color brush, put a plastic cap and then a scarf (for a little more body heat), and left it in for an hour or two.

Shampoo. I shampooed twice with Elasta QP Conditioning Creme Shampoo and once with Hair One.  I de-tangled with the Hair One in with my new magic comb (love it!).  I wanted to make sure my hair wasn't tangled for my next step.

Semi-Permanent Color.  I applied Kiss Express Semi Permanent Hair Color in black that I bought from my local beauty supply store for under $5.  I also applied this like a relaxer with a color brush.  I covered my head with a plastic cap, and let it sit without heat for 25 minutes.  Because it was the first time I used this brand, I did a patch test on the inside of my elbow a few days before to make sure I didn't have an allergic reaction, like I did to some other semi-permanent colors.

Rinse.  I rinsed the color out in my kitchen sink (I figured it would be less messy this way).  I let warm water run through my hair until the water was clear.  I then applied some KeraPro Restorative Treatment to my hair to make sure it was soft.  I experience "hard hair" sometimes after putting in a color.  I left it on for 5-10 minutes and rinsed.  I then applied Roux Porosity Control Conditioner to my hair and let it sit for 30 seconds before rinsing. I haven't used this much lately, since realizing that I have low porosity hair, but I figure after applying the color and to prep my hair before getting a relaxer, it couldn't hurt.  The KeraPro and Roux definitely softened up my hair.

Style. I applied Salerm 21 as my leave-in and set my hair on red and yellow magnetic rollers with a few sprays of coconut oil diluted with water, Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum, and a little diluted setting lotion.  After my hair was dry, I flat ironed the roots in the front, wrapped my hair and went to bed.

I haven't used a black rinse/semi-permanent color in almost a year.  I'm kicking myself for it.  The black color really does something wonderful to my hair.  It always has.  I thought that since I was on my hair journey and have been conditioning my hair better, I could live without it.  I can't.  I also thought that the black looked to severe on me.  It doesn't.  Last year I asked a couple of friends what they thought about my going black with my hair color, and all of them thought my hair was already black.  No one ever gave me a compliment on my natural hair color or my henna'd hair.

I don't have the "see-through" hair I had before.  When I took my rollers out, my hair was shiny and moist before I added any product- something I haven't experienced in a while.  My hair is laying down so nicely.  I think the color gives my hair the weight to lay down and resist static that I'm always looking for.  My edges are even easier to deal with.  The Kiss brand is much better than any of the other brands I've used.  All of my grays were covered in the recommended 25 minutes with no heat.  I usually have grays that didn't take, or have to keep it in my hair longer, usually with heat.  It conditioned my hair to the point that I feel I could go another week or two before getting a relaxer (not sure yet).  If I didn't know anything about hair, I would think that it was magic. 

The only negative about this product, and this is a small negative, is that it really stains.  My sink was stained (easily cleaned with a bleach cleaner).  My scalp is really stained.  I was able to get the color off of my ears and neck with a warm soapy cloth, but my scalp is still stained. I think I look like one of those guys who uses dye on their hairlines, but everyone I tell about it doesn't notice.  I'm afraid to wear my hair up or pulled back, thinking the stain will show.  I'm thinking about shampooing again in the next day or two, but (1) I don't usually have the energy to wash my hair during the week, (2) I don't want to manipulate it too much, and (3) I'm planning on getting a relaxer in less than a week.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 2012 Update

Since I got my hair done this past weekend, I've been trying to keep things simple:

* Moisturize and seal with ORS Hair Lotion and coconut oil every other night
* On the nights I don't moisturize and seal, I put coconut oil on my ends
* Wrap my hair every night, but change the direction of the wrap every other day so I still have body and no breakage
* Apply a drop of Keala oil to my hair before I take the wrap down in the morning

I am happily surprised that my hair looks and feels so good at 9 weeks.  I haven't had any breakage and not too much shedding, which is so rare for me at this point.  I plan to get a relaxer at 10 weeks.  I'll wash my hair this weekend, and will probably put in a black rinse, but I have no idea how I'll wear my hair until my relaxer...maybe set it?  Or air dry, then blow out the roots a little and wear a bun for a week.

Although I would love to be able to style my own hair all of the time, I have liked my hair all week for the first time in months.  Not worrying about how my hair looks has made the other things in my life easier.  So, I will try to get my hair done every 2 weeks or so for a while, at least until my hair is back at the health level I want it to be.

Besides moisturizing and sealing on a consistent basis, I have also started taking vitamins again.  Even though I eat well, I'm probably a little Vitamin D deficient.  Vitamin D is essential for strong and healthy hair, and makes our hair able to absorb much needed nutrients for growth. People of color, especially in the northeast and other cold climates, often have a Vitamin D deficiency.  That coupled with the fact that I haven't been eating or drinking a lot of dairy in the past 6 months, AND that I haven't followed my doctor's order to start taking Vitamin D last spring- I probably need some kind of supplement.  Hopefully, I see some good results.

My bun from last week
I'll try to post some more pics soon.  I've been so bad at taking pictures lately!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Salon visit at 8 Weeks

I couldn't take it anymore.  My hair was not doing what I wanted it to do, so I went to get it done.  I went to a salon not far from my house that I went to a lot when I was pregnant a couple of years ago.  It's not run by Dominicans, but their technique is like the Dominican salons, except they don't burn the heck out of your scalp with the blow dryer!

I wasn't even sure the place was still open, so I didn't do an oil pre-poo like I wanted.  They were open, but moved down the street.  It was snowing, so it was pretty empty when I walked in.  They immediately took me to the sink to wash my hair.  The woman who washed my hair was very gentle, which I liked.  The last time I went, the wash girl was ridiculously rough shampooing and detangling my hair. I couldn't see what kind of shampoo and conditioner she used, but they smelled good.  I noticed that most of the products at the sink were Mizani and Biolage.  She then set my hair on large grey magnetic rollers with Biolage and Mizani leave-ins.  I'm sure I could have asked for smaller rollers to achieve a curlier look, but my goal was really to tame my hair a little.  I sat under the dryer for no more than an hour, and then I went to the styling chair.  Because I'm usually the thickest-head (=nappiest) in there, usually only the owner will blow out my roots, which I'm fine with, because I know my hair will come out nice.  She used Ion's Flat Iron Spray on each section before she blow dried my roots, and applied Moroccan Oil after she was done.  My hair was really straight and bouncy.  Since it was nasty outside, she wrapped my hair, I put on my hat, and I was out of there.  I don't think I was there for 2 hours, which is great.

My hair came out so nice.  I can't believe how she got my roots to lay down so flat with so little heat.  She even got my edges straight, which is unheard of for me.  I would be happy with the bounce I got if I was 2 weeks post relaxer, but I was 8 weeks!  The only thing I'm not happy about is the condition of my hair.  Although it's straight and bouncy, it's not at the thickness level I want.  I know that is from my being lazy with moisturizing for the past few months.  Even wrapping my hair the past couple of nights has been good.  I'm convinced I don't know how to wrap my hair myself because every time I do it after a set, it looks crazy.

I have decided to go back to the black rinse/cellophane.  It really helps my hair hold moisture, look thicker and be shiny.  I also have a feeling that the henna has dried my hair out some, so I'm giving it a break for a while.  I'll get a black color when I get my hair relaxed next week.  I think I'm going to my old stylist for my relaxer, but I will go back to this salon to get sets.  They're fast, good, and open on Sundays!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This was my hair after I blow dried it about a month ago. I love how thick it looks- it definitely doesn't look this thick after I flat iron or set it!  This pic also makes me feel better because it really doesn't look as damaged as I always think it is!

No makeup- my eyes looked terrible!

My Personal Roller Setting Challenge

I'm inspired by Ebony's roller setting challenge.  However, I try not to officially join challenges, because they make me put more pressure on myself than I already do, and usually I can't stick to them for the entire time of the challenge.

Rollersetting is my style of choice after a wash, but my sets haven't been coming out as good as they used to.  I've been racking my brain to figure out why.  I know I have changed products, but I also think that my hair has changed in the past couple of years.  Ebony has done a lot of researching on rollersetting, and I've gotten some great tips from her.

The other day, I pre-poo'd with vatika oil.  I used to worship this when I first started my hair journey, and I can't quite remember why I stopped.  I would have loved to keep it in overnight, but since I had to work the next morning, I put on a plastic cap and left it on for a couple of hours while I worked out, cooked dinner and got my baby ready for bed.  After he was asleep, I washed with Hair One cleansing conditioner.  I decided to try a clear rinse to give me some more shine. I think the henna, along with the weather, has made my hair dry, so I needed a little boost.  I left the clear rinse in my hair for about 20 minutes, rinsed it out, and applied Aubrey Organics White Camellia to my hair for a few minutes and rinsed.  I used a dime-sized amount of Salerm 21 as my leave in and set my hair with Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum.  I used to love this serum for setting, but when I ran out, I bought the Sally's generic version which did not yield the same results for me.  I recently bought the PM serum with a coupon I got in the mail.

When I set my hair, I used smaller rollers than I usually do.  I was trying to get more body, and I wanted my hair to hold onto the curl longer.  I also rolled my hair differently.  I usually do the mohawk method, but this time, I placed the rollers in different places in my head.  I figured this way I wouldn't have parts where I don't want them, and that I could put in more rollers than I usually do.  It took me a little longer to get all of the rollers in, but that's okay.  After about 90 minutes, my hair was dry.  I did the Saran Wrap wrap under the dryer for 15 minutes, flat ironed my roots, put on a scarf, and went to bed.  The next morning, my hair was....okay.  The good thing is that although it was still dry, my hair was not as dry as it has been in the past month.  Also, after sleeping on it cross-wrapped for two nights, my hair looks and feels much better.

Here are my takeaways from this last setting experience:

1. I need a new dryer.  I'm sick of sitting under the dryer for an hour and a half, but most importantly, I think if I had a better quality dryer, my sets would come out better and smoother.  I'm currently using a Gold N Hot Jumbo Soft-Bonnet Hair Dryer.  I loved this when my hair was short.  My hair would dry fast, and I didn't have to worry about sitting uncomfortably, or not hearing what was going on around me.  Now that my hair is longer, it's just not working for me.

2. I'm just about 8 weeks post relaxer.  Post a relaxer that was purposely a little under processed so that my hair could gain some strength.  My roots are thick.  My hair is not going to do what I want.  I will have more dryness.  Every time I get frustrated with my hair, I have to remind myself of this.  I just want to make it 2 more weeks to the 10 week point before I relax again.

3. I don't know how to wrap my hair.  Why do I even keep trying?  Unless I have a fresh relaxer, my wraps come out jacked up on one side.  Always.

4.  I need to pre-poo with vatika oil every wash.  I think this will help me get more moisture.  I may continue to do the clear rinses.  I'm not sure if it helped my shine, but it did help my hair feel heavier, and I want heavy and moist hair!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Managing My Edges

I have always struggled with my edges. They’ve always been short and dry and fuzzy and the opposite of cute. I remember when I was young, maybe 10 or 11, and I shaved my edges off because they were too nappy and out of control. Crazy, right? My mom and aunts were so mad at me. I know many women have problems with thinning edges, so I really try not to complain. I feel blessed that I have edges at all. About 3 months after I gave birth, my edges fell out, but they grew back in immediately. I just haven’t taken care of them like I should.

 I can’t remember when my edges laid flat. When I get a relaxer, my edges will lay smooth for a week or two, but that’s it. And it’s not just because my hair is kinky. They either don’t grow long, or they break off. Or both? When I had a tapered cut, my edges were okay, but I think it’s because I got relaxers more often, and the way I set my hair was molding it down with gel and a scarf so the damage was hidden. I honestly can’t remember when my edges were healthy and not breaking off. I’m not that concerned with them laying down flat, but I would like them to be healthy. I’m determined to make that happen this year. I want my whole head to be healthy. Also, since I’m trying to keep my hair in protective styles for most of the winter, I need my edges to look decent.

 The first thing I have to do is Like the rest of my hair, I have not been consistent with moisturizing and sealing, but it’s been even worse for my edges. Lately, I’ve been making sure that my edges are the most moisturized part of my hair. I’ve even been using an additional moisturizer on my edges for the past few weeks. One of my girlfriends has had an edges problem worse than me. She came over my house the other day. It’s been a couple of months since I saw her last, and the first thing I noticed where how thick and nice her edges looked. She told me she has been using Jamaican Black Castor Oil! She even found a place in our neighborhood that sells it. She convinced me- I’m buying some Jamaican Black Castor Oil this week. I have a love/hate relationship with castor oil, but I think I haven’t been using the right kind or using too much. Castor oil is really heavy for my hair, so I’m going to only use it on my edges for a while.

 I now need to find a good alcohol-free gel. My edges laugh at aloe vera gel. I’ve used the ORS Edge Control and it leaves way too much residue for me. I used to really like the Elasta QP Glaze when the back of my hair was tapered, but it doesn’t do much for my edges. I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been using the Ecostyler Gel Maximum hold formula. It’s been pretty good. It probably would do a better job if I put a scarf on after I apply it. I haven’t always been successful in the past doing the scarf method. Even if my edges lay down, they look so dry, and usually fuzz back up within a couple of hours. Last night, I did put a little Ecostyler on my edges before bed, and my edges didn’t look too bad this morning. It’s about 3pm now, and my edges haven’t up too much.

 I do believe that I can make my edges healthy. I just have to give them a LOT more attention!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Hair Practices

It’s been about a week since I’ve been moisturizing and sealing on a regular basis, and 2 washes since I’ve been applying enough conditioner to all of my strands. So far, so good! No more parched-looking and feeling hair. No more snaps when I run a comb through it. My hair even looks a little thicker!

I’ve also been using the L’Oreal Everstrong Overnight Treatment. This is the first product from the line that I’ve used, and I think I love it! It has ceramides and I could tell a difference in the strength of my hair after just one night. I’m not sure how often or for how long you should us this, so I’ve decided to moisturize and seal for 3 nights, and then moisturize lightly and use the treatment for 3 nights.

I’m currently a little over 6 weeks since my last relaxer, and I’m pretty pleased with my new growth. I was worried because I went to a new salon for my last relaxer, and my stylist does not relax bone straight like my last stylist did. She also did not relax my edges much, which I wanted since I’m trying to bring them back to health. I thought that I would be begging for another relaxer by the time I was 6 weeks, but it’s really not that bad. My roots are a little thick, but they’re manageable, and I like how thick roots can make your hair look thicker. I’ve been better at moisturizing my edges. I also have been using Ecostyler Gel to lay them down. I’m using the maximum hold formula, and although it doesn’t make my edges lay down flat, it keeps my edges manageable. For real, I was looking a mess with no product on my edges! I definitely think I can make it to 10 weeks, maybe longer.

Although it’s last on my list, one of my goals this year is to make it to full bra strap length. I think I only have an inch or 2 to go, so if I keep up with my healthy practices, I should be at my goal length this summer. I don’t think I want my hair to get much longer than that. It might be too much for me to handle. Also, I am an executive and I don’t think super long hair looks very professional most of the time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 - Happy New Year!

I haven't been blogging for the past month, because I've been taking time to really think and analyze my hair regimen. My hair has been really dry and difficult to manage lately. I thought about products and techniques I used during the first 2 years of my hair journey, which resulted in a healthy head of hair. I finally came to the conclusion that I've basically just slacked off on my regimen! I really have to get strict again about taking care of my hair.

One of the biggest things I realized is that I was in "denial" about having long hair. I've had short hair for most of my life, and pretty much my whole adult life, with the exception of the past couple of years. I should have been more diligent in conditioning and moisturizing my hair TWO years ago when my hair hit my shoulders. Instead, I've been using the same amount of product I did when my hair was short!

Another culprit- moisturizing and sealing. I've been really bad at moisturizing and sealing my hair on a regular basis. I still haven't found 'the' moisturizer, but something is better than nothing, right? Shame on me- I should know better! I live in the Northeast and it's winter. My hair is relaxed and naturally dry. Last night I moisturized my hair in 6 sections with ORS moisturizer and sealed with coconut oil. What a difference a day makes- today my hair is moist, shiny and smooth. Although my hair is a little heavy, I prefer this over dryness. I'm wearing a bun anyway!

Winter can wreak havoc on my hair, so I have to keep my head covered when I go outside. I recently sewed satin linings in all of our hats, so I have no excuse. I have already gotten a humidifier for my office at work, and I have "borrowed" the humidifier from son's room until I buy one for mine. I will continue drinking lots of water. I am also considering taking vitamins again.

I also need to finally figure out my moisture/protein balance. My hair is fine, which makes me think it needs more protein than I give it, but I'm also nervous about protein overload and making it drier than it already is.

There are products that I used at the beginning of my hair journey that helped my hair thrive, but for some reason, I stopped using them. My favorite product used to be coconut oil. I used it as a sealant, leave-in, and for hot oil treatments. Coconut oil is back in the rotation. Castor oil is out for a while. Another product that kept my hair moist and shiny was ORS Replenishing Pak. I just started using the KeraPro line, but I think I'll alternate deep conditioners with the ORS and KeraPro. I think my hair is becoming more porous, so I'm going to start back using the Roux Porosity Control treatment at least once a month.

I always plan to wear protective styles the majority of the time, but I haven't been doing it. I think I've finally figured out how to create a bun I like, so I think I can wear protective styles at least 4 days a week for the rest of the winter. I might even join Traycee's protective style challenge!

Tiffanita's 2012 Hair Goals:

  • Maintain a good moisture level
  • Improve the health and length of my edges
  • Blog more to keep track of my progress and techniques and products
  • Reach bra strap length

The new year is about making goals, but also reflecting on the past year. I'm glad I've taken some time to do that. I feel positive about my plan and about the year ahead. I'm not happy with my hair today, but I'm confident that I will be in the coming weeks, and that I will meet my goals.

I wish all of you a blessed, prosperous, and healthy 2012!