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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.

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

Ingredients
WATER, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, ETHANOLAMINE, LAURETH-3, SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE ,OLETH-5 PHOSPHATE ,DIOLEYL PHOSPHATE, SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE, GLYCERYL STEARATE SE, FRAGRANCE, TOLUENE-2, 5-DIAMINE SULFATE, BEESWAX, SODIUM SULFITE, SODIUM SULFATE, 2-METHYLRESORCINOL, P-AMINOPHENOL, EDTA, LIMNANTHES ALBA (MEADOWFOAM) SEED OIL ,ERYTHORBIC ACID, 2-AMINO-3-HYDROXYPYRIDINE, M-AMINOPHENOL ,RESORCINOL, 4-AMINO-2-HYDROXYTOLUENE, 2, 4-DIAMINOPHENOXYETHANOL HCL, SIMETHICONE, GLYCERIN, TRITICUM VULGARE (WHEAT) GLUTEN, ALPHA ISOMETHYL IONONE, CITRONELLOL, GERANIOL, LINALOOL

Directions
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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Make Friends with Maggie


My cousin recently wrote and published Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair? This children's book is about accepting our natural hair, and getting others to love and appreciate all that it can do!  I'm so proud of my cousin! It definitely reminds me of some of my older relatives who don't understand why I would ever go natural. 

Get your copy on amazon.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Great Wash Day for My Low Porosity Hair

I removed my crochet braids a couple of weeks ago and wore my natural hair out for a few days, but I installed the crochet braids again- mostly out of pure laziness.  I liked my natural hair out and I saw some growth, I just don't feel like twisting my hair every night, especially now that it's hot.  It's hard to let go of something that works, especially when it's easy and cheap, but I do plan on playing in my real hair this summer! I also need a professional trim/cut. I found a few local places that specialize in Deva Cuts, so I think I'll try one of them later this summer.  

What I was happiest about when I wore my hair out, was that it stayed moist!  I pre-poo'd for about an hour with coconut oil.  I shampoo'd with ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo, then I did a 10-minute condition with Trader Joe's Nourish and Spa + Giovanni 50:50 Balancing Conditioner + a teaspoon of baking soda.  I then deep conditioned under the steamer with SheaMoisture Yucca & Baobab Anti-Breakage Masque.  I twisted on damp hair with Oyin Hair Dew and Oyin Burnt Sugar Pomade.

I've been doing a lot more research on how to keep my low porosity hair moisturized.  I think I found success in shampooing with the ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo.  It removes a lot of buildup without stripping my hair.  I loved it when I was relaxed, but stopped using it when I realized my hair doesn't like aloe vera juice (aloe is pretty far down on the ingredient list- #24).  Co-washing doesn't always get my hair clean, especially after having my hair in a protective style for 4 weeks.  Adding the baking soda lifted my tight hair cuticles and really allowed more moisture into my hair strands. Using baking soda in the hair is controversial because there is a risk of damage, but it worked for me, so I'm going to try to use it once or twice a month.  This was my first time using this particular SheaMoisture conditioner, and I really liked it.  I'm sure steaming with it helped make it more effective.  When I rinsed the conditioner out, my hair looked really nice- curly, shiny and even stretched out more than usual.  Even my man asked me to leave it exactly like that!  I knew it wouldn't look the same after it dried, and I'm not brave enough to wash and go yet, so I moved on with styling.  This was my first time using Oyin products.  I loved the smell and the products seemed pretty light.  The next day, my twist out was shiny and defined:



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Product Review: Hicks Edges

I decided to install crochet braids again.  When I took the old braids out, I was happy with the condition of my hair.  It was very moist, and I didn't see any breakage at all.  I just want to continue doing a protective style.  This time I used color 1B, which is almost black.  I also applied a black semi-permanent color to my hair.  I think it will help my hair look thicker and shiny. Plus, it's a nice change!


I've also been using a new product for my edges - Hicks Edges.  My hairline has always been a trouble spot.  The hair there has always been short, so it doesn't lay down like I wish it did.  I have had fuzzy edges since I can remember.  I've tried a lot of edge control products, and so far this is the most effective!

Product Description
Hicks Total TRANSFORMATIONS, Hicks Edges holds hair firmly in place with a super shine and without flakiness. Leaves edges looking and feeling shinier and healthier than before. This genuine hair gel is non-flaky and non-sticky and rinses out easily. Control tapered cuts and nape back area.

Ingredients
Water, Ceteareth-25, PEG-7 Glycerylcocoate, Propylene Glycol, PEG-7 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, DMDM Hydantoin Andiodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Frangrance

Directions
Apply a small amount of TRANSFORMATIONS Smooth Edges around edges and smooth with fingertips until hair stays in place or comb in smooth with a comb.

My Experience
I've been using this about every other day.  In the morning, after I work out, I brush my hair a little, and then apply the product to my edges (dry hair) with a toothbrush, and then tie my edges down with a silk scarf while I shower and get dressed.  When I take my scarf off, my edges are LAID.

I haven't experienced any flaking or buildup with this product.  Most edge control products don't last more than an hour or two for me, but this pretty much lasts all day. I took a 30-minute walk this afternoon and my edges still looked pretty good:



I work out almost every day, and I still only need to apply this every other morning.  I'm hoping that this product will help my edges grow since they are moisturized and laid down.  It's a keeper!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Loving Crochet Braids


I've had my crochet braids in for four weeks- longer than I planned.  I'm taking them out this weekend, but I could probably go another week or two.  My platinum hairs are growing in around my edges, so I need to color them.  I'm really impressed that the hair hasn't matted or tangled.  This is probably THE best $10 hair style I've ever had, lol.  I also have been wearing it differently- parted in the middle, parted on the side, and front up, back out.  Mornings have been great since I don't have to do much to my hair. I've been working out almost every day with no bad hair to show for it.  This is how I have maintained this style for the past four weeks:

  • Evening: Put it up in a high ponytail (pineapple method) and tie a silk scarf around my edges.
  • Morning: Every other day spray my roots with a water/conditioner/oil/glycerin mix; spray the synthetic hair with water, take down the pineapple, shake and go.  If my edges are really crazy looking, apply some edge gel and tie down my edges with a silk scarf for about 15 minutes.
  • Working out: Keep it in the pineapple; I also play tennis 1-2 times a week, and I just wear it in a low ponytail.
  • Once a week: Finger de-tangle the ends, cut stray hairs and apply mousse to the hair.

Pretty easy, huh?  I can see how this style can be addictive!

If I see that my hair has thrived when I wash it tomorrow, I might install them again!  I have some business trips coming up, and this is a great style for traveling!

I'm also going to put a black semi-permanent color in my hair this weekend.  I haven't used black in about two years because sometimes I think it's a little too harsh for my skin tone and I really wanted to try to work with my natural dusty brown color...BUT, the black really helps my hair maintain moisture and absorb product.  Plus it makes it look so shiny and thick!  I really want to retain more length, especially in the front, and I believe the black color with help.  Every time I think about the times my hair was the healthiest, I remember that it was black!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Crochet Braids

In my effort to keep my hair healthy and retain some length, I've been trying to do protective styles as much as the possible.  For the past month and half, I've been doing flat twist updos.  Yesterday I installed crochet braids.  I've been eyeing this style for a while, and I finally got to a point where I thought I had done enough research to do it myself.

What I did:
I used 2 packs of Free Tress Water Wave hair bought from my local beauty supply store.  I wanted to buy the bohemian hair, since I thought the texture would be closer to mine, but I couldn't find the Bohemian in the three stores I went to.  One package was the color 4, and the other was 4/27 because I wanted to mix in some lighter hair.  I paid $5 per pack for the hair and $2 for the crochet hook, also at the beauty supply store.

After washing, conditioning and lightly blow drying my hair, I cornrowed my hair.  I did 8 braids going back in the top half of my hair, then I connected 2 of those braids to create 4 braids, and used them to start 4 cornrows in the back.  I used the braids at my nape to make one cornrow going across at the bottom.  I did this so that I could wear my hair up without showing the parts in the cornrows.  I then looped the hair into my braids using the crochet hook.




Overall, I like this style!  It was my first time doing it, so there are a few minor things I would do differently next time, like planning my braid pattern a little better. A lot of the videos I watched suggested more than 8 braids, but I'm glad I didn't do more.  I think it would have made my style look fuller than what I wanted.  Having less braids makes it more difficult to wear in an updo, but that's okay with me.  I trimmed a little of the hair, but I want more of a shape, so I may go to a salon to get it trimmed a little more.  What I like most about this style is that it's easy, and it doesn't have to be perfect.  It's okay if your parts aren't straight.  I do wish I had braided the center braids closer together so that my part would look more natural, but other than that, I'm excited to have a no/lo maintenance style for a while!

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.