Monday, April 28, 2008

Can you gain length without protective styling?


There was a time during my hair journey when I would pin my hair up in various buns, wraps, and other means of hiding my hair from seeing the light of day. I did this in hopes of retaining precious length that would get me to my hair goal. Protective styling did work but I soon grew tired of wearing buns day after day. Don't get me wrong, I like to wear the occasional bun from time to time, but I also wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labor by allowing my hair to flow freely.

So how do I stay on track with my goals and still enjoy my hair?

Create a fool proof routine- If you are still in the experimentation phase of your hair journey where you are working to solidify your routine, you may want to continue protective styling until your are comfortable enough with your results. You want to make sure your hair is getting the right amount of moisture and strength from your routine. If so, you can more comfortably wear your hair any way you like without having to worry about the condition of your hair. I also feel more comfortable displaying my tresses if I wash every 4-5 days instead once every 7 days. After about a week, the moisture levels aren't as potent and I begin to wear my hair up in order to avoid possible damage.

Protect your ends-Just because my hair is not in a bun doesn't mean I'm not thinking about my ends. Even when I wear my hair down I take precautionary measures with my ends. First, I make sure to rollerset my hair so my ends are straightened by a roller, not a flat iron. Once out of the roller, I make sure to add some of my favorite moisturizing oil to my hair and especially my ends. Finally, I seal the deal by taking a minute or two during the day to add product to my hair.

Make judgement calls-I know that the simple act of wearing my hair down daily could potentially rob me of my hard earned length so I am constantly checking the condition of my hair to see if I am experiencing excessive breakage. If I am, then I trim and style protectively to help my ends recover. Or let's say I am wearing a really fuzzy sweater to work. I know better than to let my hair rub up against the sweater all day. Hot summer days where I know that a lot of sweating will be involved are also murder on my ends. If my hair becomes wet and is allowed to dry without the support of the roller, my ends will be the ones to suffer. I avoid that situation altogether by pinning my hair up in a cute style in an effort to keep the worst case scenario from occurring.

Protecting your hair from the elements is one of the absolute best ways to retain length. But if you are like me and you like to flaunt what you have, then there are ways around bunning every day. You just have to be a little smarter with your hair. I was able to reach my hair goals when I was baggying and bunning. I was also able to reach my hair goals without hiding my hair everyday. If you do decide to wear your hair out more often, keep a close eye on your results. If your hair still thrives and remains healthy then more power to you.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My shine enhancing routine: Did it work?










Since my last post, I have incorporated my shine enhancing routine twice. Yes, twice.
I wanted to make sure the same results could be duplicated. There were slight differences each wash but the end result was still amazing.

The first go around:
I followed the routine I posted with only a few minor tweaks. First off, I used a neutralizing shampoo because I relaxed a few days prior and wanted to make sure I washed every bit of relaxer out. After using the neutralizing shampoo, then came the Suave clarifying.

I then mixed a few squirts of honey with my Suave Milk and Honey conditioner. I left in for a few minutes and proceed to rinse.

I purchased my Hennalucent from a huge beauty supply store that specializes in wigs and weaves. That's probably the reason why the powder hardened until it formed one massive block. I literally had to use a blunt object to pound the Hennalucent back into powder form (next time I'm going to Sally's). I decided I would mix coconut oil into the powder since it would melt nicely with the hot water. Though I tried my best to recreate the natural powder structure of Hennalucent, it formed into small clumps when I added the water. I had no choice but to use it as it was.

Though I had the issues with Hennalucent, it washed out without any problems. The very last step was to rinse with vinegar. I had no apple cider vinegar so I used plain 'ole white vinegar. I poured a little in a bowl of water to dilute. Then I poured the mixture on my hair and rinsed with super cold water. I used warm water throughout the duration of the process to allow penetration of product.

Then I rollerset my hair and went to bed without sitting under the dryer. The next morning, when I awoke, I sat under the dryer under the cool setting.

When I removed the roller, I was absolutely floored at how fabulous my hair turned out. Just like my co-worker, each individual strand proudly displayed its intense shine. Not only that, my hair was light, silky, and absolutely gorgeous. My hair almost rivaled the look and feel I experience after a blow out, with the exception of the straight roots. I opted not blow dry my roots because I had obviously done a successful job of sealing the cuticle layer. I was deathly afraid of undoing the great results of sealing the hair shaft by using direct heat.

The second time I mirrored the routine almost exactly with a few minor changes:
1. I used Aveda Smooth Infusion conditioner instead of Suave Milk & Honey.
2. I wash in the morning so I actually dried my hair under a cool setting for the duration of the drying process.

Same results of intense shine and fabulous hair.
I know that I said that this routine would not necessarily be a staple, but forget what I said. This is definitely a keeper for me. I even purchased Apple Cider Vinegar just to make it official. I also plan on rotating conditioners because the Smooth Infusion conditioner did not impress me the least bit. I can't wait to get some non-expired Hennalucent so I can really experience the full benefits.

So to finalize my review, this routine will be my official routine until further notice. The steps are fairly simple and straight forward. Because my hair comes out so wonderfully, I won't be tempted to slip into a salon for a blow-out every now and then.

Finally, I must apologize to everyone but my $35.00 digital camera is acting up (what a surprise). I plan to officially step into the 21rst century and purchase a real camera in the very near future. Clearer pictures will be posted so stay tuned.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Get your Shine on! My routine for enchancing shine.

-That's not me in the picture, btw, but I hope my hair will look this shiny in the near future.

My hair goal is to have healthy, shiny, even-length, mid-back hair. I work on the healthy part every-time I deep condition, rollerset, and moisturize my hair. But what about the shiny part?

One of my coworkers has gorgeous hair. Mind you she does not have type 4 hair, her hair is more of a type 2 (she's West Indian). Being the hair crazed person that I am, I grabbed one of her shed hairs from her seat one day and studied her hair closely. Two things jumped at me right away, shine and elasticity. That one strand of hair shined brightly under the fluorescent lights, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought to myself, "If I could replicate even some of that shine, image how healthy my hair would look."

To be completely honest, I have not intentionally focused on achieving increased shine before then. Shame on me for not doing so because shiny hair is one indication of healthy hair. Shiny hair happens when the cuticle layer of the hair is sealed. Up close, the cuticle layer looks like shingles of a roof. Imagine the damage that can occur when the cuticle layer is raised, exposing the more delicate layers of your hair. I want my hair to shine from across the room. So tonight when I wash, I am going to incorporate all the shiny hair tips that I can remember.

Here's what I plan on doing:
1. Pre-poo for 45 minutes using Alma oil.

2. Wash the length of my hair with a clarifying shampoo. To remove buildup. Buildup is a culprit in robbing your hair of its shine. I'll probably also use my Aveda Smooth Infusion Shampoo.

3. Use a honey and oil blend to condition the hair. (I've seen recommendations for using olive oil online, but I am thinking about using coconut or avocado oil instead)

4. Use Hennalucent neutral to further enhance my shine. I remember using it years ago and mixing with oil. I think I'll include oil this time as well.

5. Conduct a final rinse with an acidic liquid, namely apple-cider vinegar or lemon juice. This will quickly seal the cuticle layer of the hair.

6. Use the coldest water setting to further seal the cuticle layers.

7. Rollerset and dry under a cool setting.

8. Use cool blast function on my blow dryer just before I remove my rollers.

If this works as well as I hope, this will officially become my shine enhancing routine. I probably won't do it every wash, but I definitely will keep it in the rotation.

If you have any shine enhancing tips you'd like to share, leave a comment.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Too busy for your hair?


Three healthy hair habits you need to maintain even when you're swamped

We all go through times when we are so busy, we're lucky if we even get a decent shower in, never mind our hair. The last thing you want is to become so engulfed in your work that you begin to backslide on your hair maintenance. You know what happens if we neglect to give our hair some TLC for even a short period of time, we end up having to make up for the neglect with months of deep conditioning, trimming, and babying just to get back to where we were.

If you want to avoid neglecting your hair when you have little time, just remember these three tips:

1. Nightly Care- I don't care how late you stayed up getting your work done, you still need to commit to spending just a few minutes every night adding a moisturizing product to your hair. Something special happens during the night when your hair gets some time to absorb moisturizer under a silk or satin scarf. By the time morning comes and you are ready to run out of the door, you need'nt have to worry about what condition your hair will be in when you remove the scarf. This habit is a life saver for both you and your hair when you are running short of time.

2. Fabulous Hair Accessories-The very last thing you want to do when you are short on time is try to style your hair. Running a comb through your hair when you are in a hurry is not cool. That's when we end up with broken hairs at our feet. Avoid this action all together by stocking up on fabulous hair clips, pins, headbands and other hair accessories. When your hair is adorned in a fabulous accent, you automatically reduce the amount of combing you have to do. Accessories give a hint of glamour when we are sporting our protective styles. When we know our hair style looks fabulous, we aren't constantly trying to manipulate it. The less we manipulate, the more our hair thrives.

3. A Solid Hair Routine-Most of our hair routines consist of many intricate steps involving various healthy hair potions in order to get our hair just right. The problem with that is we can't always rely on our 20 step hair routine when we have little time. What we need to do instead is to create a basic hair routine that works just as well. The basic routine should include your favorite shampoo, moisturizing, and/or deep conditioner. Don't skimp on beneficial steps such as a pre-poo if it has a positive impact on the health of your hair.

The most important part of the solid hair routine is your styling method. If your hair only looks right when you roller set, then you must make sure that you roller set. You do not want to experience undesirable results only to go back and have to re-wash and style your hair all over again. Worse yet, you do not want to cause more damage by air drying if your hair reacts adversely to this stylig method. When you look for ways to shorten your routine, remember that your goal is to still achieve very similar results.


Now is the time to plan for those occasions when we can't provide as much time to our hair as we would like. Take a look at your routine and figure out the most beneficial steps and products. The ones that contribute the best results. Those are the key actions that you want to keep and improve upon. They are going to be life savers when you have little time.

Take a few minutes and mentally go over your hair routine. Decide which steps can you omit if you had to and which steps absolutely have to happen. By doing this now, you are saving both your time and your hair in the future.

-Here's to the health of your hair.
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stretching Relaxer Tip: Taming those edges with no heat


This week will be by 8th week since I've relaxed. I can usually go to about 10 weeks on average before finally having to do something with my head. My biggest new growth obstacle is primarily focused in one area, my edges. It doesn't matter how great my hair looks after a rollerset, I still have those curly edges to contend with.

I implemented a critical thinking approach to solving the problem. By asking myself "which tools and techniques work best on smoothing my edges I came up with this short list:

*Tying my hair down flattens my edges
*Using a blow dryer and a round brush after a rollerset straightens my edges
*Using a water based product loosens the curl on my edges

I eliminated the second option as a method of choice for two reasons.
1. That kind of heat and pulling on a regular basis is going to get me in trouble.
2. My Supersolano was knocked off a table by my dog and is not working. Needless
to say, I was not happy about that.

So I was left with two options. But instead of choosing one or the other, I decided to incorporate both. What I pretty much do is spray a little Biolage Leave In tonic around my edges. I use Biolage because it is light enough to use on a daily basis without hideous buildup. You can opt to use any water based leave in that you like. Feel free to use only water if that is your fancy. Some might use aloe or NTM Silk Touch Leave-In. Its whatever your hair likes.

Once the product is in, I use a brush to smooth my edges back. (I use the kind of brushes a brotha would use to brush waves into his hair. The kind with the bristles close together.) After the hair is smoothed, I tie it down with a scarf. The scarf helps the hair to remain in place as it dries.

This is my no-heat method to taming those wild edges of mine. It works pretty well. The fact that I can use this method daily is also a major selling point. I hope you are just as pleased with the results as I am.

-Here's to the health of your hair.
Saturday, April 5, 2008

My game plan to reach mid-back length again


I've suffered a couple of set-backs last year and the early part of this year with regards to my hair. One too many Dominican salon visits, along with my inability to stick to my normal hair care routine during my bathroom remodel, has left me with much work to do to get my hair to mid-back again.

Unfortunately, my memory is a little vague as to the specifics that allowed me to reach mid-back. I'll share with you what I do remember consistently doing:

*Weekly washes and roller sets- I remember that 2007 was the year when I finally had to accept that air drying was working against what I was trying to accomplish. No matter how much I wanted to air-dry, the results spoke for themselves.

*Pre-poo treatments- 2007 was also the year that I began adding product to my hair before my shampoo. Who would have thought that we could enhance the moisture levels of our hair simply by treating it before the wash? I do know know who's wonderful idea that was...but whoever it is, I owe you lunch!

*Natural oils-Before 2007, I spent a large percentage of my income not on the basic necessities, but on the newest hair product craze. Today my robust supply of hair products are beginning to slowly expire in a large hallway closet. Last year my hair thrived on wonderful natural oils like coconut, avocado, jojoba, etc. Now my hard earned money is allocated to much more important expenses-shoes and accessories.

*Green nutrition-Last year I kicked up my nutrition levels by incorporating green foods into my diet. There was a period of time when I was downing a green smoothie every morning. My hair thanked me dearly for my efforts. My new growth was supple and tame and my energy levels were high. The growth I received from drinking the green smoothies rivaled that of consuming high biotin doses (but without the unwanted hair growth on my knuckles and toesFree Smiley Face Courtesy of www.FreeSmileys.org).

I have to admit, I've slacked off on the green drinks. I do take green foods in supplement form, but there is nothing like consuming the nutrition in liquid form to get it flowing immediately into the blood stream.

One new procedure that I will add to my routine is the habit of tying my hair up in the evenings. I religiously tie my hair up at night before bed, but I got to thinking about the additional benefits I'd get from tying my hair up right when I get home from work and on the weekends. If I oil my hair lightly and tie it up at 6:00 pm instead of 10:00 pm, that gives my hair an extra 4 hours a night of additional moisture retention potential. Four hours a night 7 days a week is at least 28 hours. If I tie my hair all day on Saturdays and Sundays, that number could go up to more than 40 hours. Imagine how healthy my hair would look if I remained consistent with this practice. I get all excited just thinking about it.Free Smiley Face Courtesy of www.FreeSmileys.org

*Another benefit of tying my hair down for longer periods of time would be the flattening of my new growth during stretching season.*

I also plan to reintroduce the habit of re-moisturizing my hair once or twice throughout the day. To be completely honest, I can not think of a time when I received more compliments on the healthy appearance of my hair then when I took the time to reapply oil to my hair throughout the day. People would always ask me what I was using that had my hair looking so healthy. since I am always creating unique oil blends with my favorite oils, I would not recommend a specific product. I would only say that I use natural oils in my hair. Needless to say I defiantly need to bring back the mid-day and late afternoon re-oil method.

So there you have it, nothing special just the fundamentals. Notice I did not mention any special products in an attempt to demonstrate the universal usefulness of each technique. There are some other effective methods that I neglected to mention, like scalp massages and protective styling which would also produce wonderful results. Use what works well with your hair and feel free to add any of my suggestions.

-Here's to the health of you hair.
Thursday, April 3, 2008

Three of my biggest hair mistakes and how you can avoid them


Looking back over the years at my quest for healthy hair, I realized that I've made some mistakes along the way. Those mistakes cost me (and my hair) dearly. It pains me to think about how healthy my hair could have been if only I knew to avoid these mistakes at the beginning of my hair journey. I'll share my mistakes with you in hopes of saving you from the trouble that I had to go through.

Mistake 1: Not trimming my ends
My ultimate hair goal is to gain and retain as much healthy length as possible. In doing so, I would go many months without so much as trim to keep my ends in tip-top condition. I became a greedy length whore who ignored the obvious tell-tale signs of damage. By not trimming periodically, I allowed the damage to spread further up the hair shaft. Soon a my hair would next to be cut, not trimmed, in order to be salvaged. It only took a couple of mandatory hair cuts for me to learn my lesson. Now my hair lightly trimmed every month or so depending on the need.

Here is how I know when I need to trim:
1. My ends look frayed or untamed.
2. My ends do not respond to normal conditioning, or treatments.
3. My broken hairs all seem to be about the same length. When nearly all of my broken hairs are 1-2 inches in length, I know it's time to trim.

Mistake 2: Not combing my hair
When I first learned of protective styling, I was resistant. Resistance turned into acceptance, which then turned into laziness. The bun was a huge time saver for me and I completely took advantage of it. Then came the point where I was literally not combing my hair when I styled it in the mornings. My idea of "combing" my hair was rubbing some oil on top of the bun to make it look like I actually did something to it. Come wash day, I would have preferred to shave it off then to comb through my hair. The tangles were insane! An entire week's worth of shed hairs were trapped inside my bun. No matter how gentle I would try to be when I finally combed my hair, I would eventually loose the little bit of patience I did have. In the end, I probably "undid" most of the benefit of bunning by allowing my hair to go so long without combing through it.

Mistake 3: Dominican Salons

Do not get me wrong. I absolutely loooooove the way my hair looks and feels after getting a blow out. These stylist just have a way of taking a head of textured hair and transforming to long locs of silk. But in my experience, the blow out absolutely kills my hair. I usually don't detect the damage until I start doing my own hair. For several weeks after my blow out, I have to spend my time trying to reverse the heat damage.

I'll give you a perfect example. At the end of 2007, I finally reach my goal of mid-back length hair. As a reward, I decided to get a relaxer and blow out to experience the length in all of its majestic glory. I loved it so much that I went back a couple more times for another wash and another relaxer over the course of the next several months. Needless to say that I am not mid-back any more. I do not blame the salon completely. During that period of time I was getting my bathroom demolished and remodeled so I could not stick to my normal styling routine as I once had.

If I ever do go back to visit my local Dominican salon. I will absolutely demand that only my roots are blown out. I do not care if the results will not be the same as before. The long-term health of my hair will far outweigh the benefits of a week or two of silky hair.
 

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