Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My (work in progress) airdrying routine revealed!

In last post, I explained some recent changes to my hair routine including the decision to airdry for the duration of the winter season. I made certain to clarify the fact that I once swore off air drying for the rest of my days.

Why?

Because my hair would always end up looking all crazy....
Because I could never get my ends to look right....
Because the middle of my head would dry days later than the rest of my hair....
Because the middle of my head would tangle into a million knots....
Because I could never really produce any type of decent style as the result of an airdry....
Because I never analyzed the airdrying process and how to perfect the results.

For the longest time, airdrying for me meant having to sport tangled unattractive hair until my next wash. Then came the day I realized that this was not the way to live. I knew in my heart of hearts that airdrying could mean healthier lengths. So I had to find a way. It was an absolute necessity!

Over the past few weeks, I've played out various scenarios in my mind of how I can create a decent result from air drying. Some of the scenarios I've tried have worked well. Some of the others were not as I had envisioned. I'll take you through my thought process. This may take a while so go grab a cup of hot cocoa and make yourself comfortable...


For me, the biggest obstacle to decent results was my inability to tame my ends during the drying process. My method of choice was as follows: After washing and conditioning, I would comb the hair back into a ponytail (while damp). Because of the fragile nature of the hair while wet, I used a (very) large tooth comb. I would then grab the loose ponytail and pull the hair up towards my crown and pin to the back of my head. Then I’d grab a satin or silk scarf and tie it around my head as a means on managing the new growth. After a few hours of drying, I would remove the scarf, take down the ponytail and use the cool blast setting to help dry the middle section of my hair.

This picture is when I airdry with one ponytail. Here I've pulled the hair up towards the front of my scalp and secured it with a bobby pin.


In this pic, I actaully parted my hair down the middle and created pigtails. This is one side, the other side of my hair looks exactly the same. Whenever I chose to airdry in pigtails, I pull the hair up towards the sides instead of straight up the middle. When I do it this way, the center of my hair seems to dry a little quicker. Once the hair is secure, I tie a silk scarf and go on my merry little way.


Both of these pics were taken while my hair was still damp.

This method has some obvious pluses and minuses:
Pluses:
+: My once wild and crazy new growth became as tame as a little lamb.
+: I spent much less time then I would have if I were to rollerset the hair.
+: The hair set in a relatively straight pattern. I didn’t have to flatten the big hair I normally experienced with a rollerset.

Minuses:
-Because I dried the middle section of my hair with a hair dryer, the sleekness I created with the satin scarf was compromised. In other words, the middle (and back section) would poof out depending on how moist it was when I loosen the ponytail.
-The large tooth comb I used did not allow for ample detangling power before tying it down. This meant that I still had to contend with viscous tangles later on in the process.
-I never used any direct heat tool once the hair was completely dry, in most cases, I would end up with straight hair in the front and sides and textured hair in the middle and back sections.

I have since modified my routine in order to increase effectiveness. What I’ve done as of late was to create two pigtails instead on one ponytail. With pigtails, I can detangle the two halves more easily in effectively. Once I’ve created the pigtails, I take the loose hair from one side and pin it to the other side of my head and vise versa. What I aim to do with this step is to have the loose hair pinned neatly to my head so that it has some structure in which to dry. It’s the structure that helps to create straighter hair.

I’ve also included a final step to my airdrying process that helps address the thick hair issue that I experienced in the middle and back of my hair. Caruso steam curlers. Please be warned that if you use the steam curlers on damp hair, you will only end up with damper hair. The hair shaft will continue to swell as the moisture is absorbed and you will experience frizz. If you chose to use any type of steam related curlers, YOU MUST WAIT UNTIL THE HAIR IS COMPLETELY DRY.

If steam curlers are not your thing, you can also choose some of these other setting options:
•Large flexi rods to create large curls or to bump the ends.
•Satin covered sponge rollers (again your hair must be 100% dry or frizz will happen).
•The low setting of your flat iron.
•Large Pocahontas pigtail braids.
•Bantu knots
•You can wrap your hair
•You can place your hair in a bun (before bunning, you want to thoroughly detangle and moisturize; otherwise, you may be causing more issues when your shed hairs and your tangles meet.)

My airdrying routine is still a work in progress but I am confident that I can tweak and adjust the routine to create the results I want. Those of you who have managed to put together a process that works, leave a comment and share!

My devious plan to kick up my hair growth this Winter

Next week will make two months since I've last relaxed. Right now I'm battling a ton of new growth. Its been said that hair grows fastest in the warmer months than at other times of the year. I've decided to keep charging towards my goal this fall/winter by taking purposeful actions to keep the growth a comin'.

Last year I suffered some major set backs with my hair. This year has been all about rejuvenating the health of my hair. Next year will be the year of beautiful hair!

So how am I gonna get there?

I've decided on three actions.

Winter for me means dry itchy scalp. My dandruff is unbearable. One of my chosen remedies for this issue is coconut oil. I read online about the anti fungal properties of this oil and decided to implement this new way of using coconut oil right away!
Not only does rubbing the oil on my scalp help curb my dandruff woes, I'm also subjecting myself to a soothing scalp stimulation at the same time. And we all know what scalp stimulation leads to boys and girls.....growth!

I especially focus on the front areas of my scalp because my of seborrheic dermatitis which can cause dryness and peeling around the hair line. I've massaged my scalp with the oil several times a week for the past several weeks and I already can tell the difference in the new growth and with the flaking.

My new job has me on the road for most of the week. Because of lack of structure, I fell off the vitamin wagon hard. When I worked at an office, I would pack healthy meals and salads for lunch. Now I'm on the road grabbing what I can or eating the decadent food from a nearby restaurant. I'm slowly adapting to life outside an office by pickup up some healthy foods and convenient snacks, but I was struggling to get back to the days when spinach was a staple for me.

I decided to take decisive action in the form of liquid vitamins. No longer will I have an excuse not to take my vitamins. Now I only need to take a capfull of the liquid nourishment once a day. At my previous job, I could pop my vitamins in the privacy of my office. Now many of my lunches take place in a group format. No one would believe that I could consume upwards of seven pills at a time simply for the sake of my overall health. With my liquid formula, I simply pour a little into my drink or I take a spoonful at breakfast. Don't get me wrong, I still consume some pills, but with the liquid vitamin, I can miss a day or two of taking the pill form of my vits, without feeling guilty all over. Not to mention the fact that supplements in liquid form are far more readily absorbable in the body than vitamin pills.

Last but not least, I've stepped back from my weekly rollersetting routine and shifted to more frequent washings and air drying. The reason for taking this action was two-fold. The main reason was because of my ever growing dread for the amount of time a full wash and set required. The other reason I am on a rollersetting hiatus is because I wanted to round out my growth increasing actions with more frequent washes. Its only logical to conclude that the more often I wash my hair, the more growth I could experience. More washing means more conditioning, more conditioning means more moisture, more moisture means less breakage. Along with the increased levels of moisture, my frequent washings also subject my hair to further instances of scalp stimulation as I rub in my
scalp treatments
in with my finger tips.

Airdrying is not my method of choice for styling. I need to clarify that statement by saying that I once loathed airdrying. This new (and temporary) wash routine has forced me to come face to face with my enemy and find a reasonable compromise. We are not where we need to be but we've come a long way from our shaky beginnings. Airdrying, for me means less hair loss during the wash (because of the reduced level of manipulation) which is why I decided that I had to make peace with this styling method. The time I save by airdrying is also a huge plus for me which makes it possible for me to wash twice a week instead of weekly.

These shifts in my hair world are relatively minor but I am extremely confident in the outcomes arising from the changes. Its all about asking yourself if what you are doing now will get you to the results you want. For me, the answer was no so I decided to take action. Once I'm where I need to be, I'll once again shift and evolve with my hair.

Thanks for listening.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Four Neato Ways to Incorporate Natural Oils into your Wash Routine

Picture perfect hair is the name of the game and plant oils are a critical factor in helping your hair reach its peak. Ever since I discovered natural oils such as jojoba, avocado, coconut, just to name a few, I've had a blast incorporating them into every facet of my hair routine. No matter how I decide to use these oils, I always get a fantastic result.

Here are some of my favorite ways of incorporating oils and the corresponding result of each method.

The Pre-poo!
The pre-poo is a staple in my hair routine. This method is a simple one of adding a moisturizing conditioner and oil onto dry hair before the hair is washed.

How-to tip for pre-poo:
Make sure that you take the time to section the hair properly so you can saturate the entire head of hair. Don't go using up your fancy $100 bottle of conditioner for this step, any old conditioner you got laying around will work fine.

How it benefits your hair:
This step adds much needed moisture to dry hair right off the bat. By pre-pooing, you avoid stripping natural oils from already dry hair. You're adding a layer of protection before harmful suds of a shampoo can strip your hair.
Another benefit of this step is the freedom of allowing conditioner/oil to treat the hair up to several hours before the actual wash. That's more time for the nourishing qualities of the oil to further penetrate the hair and work its magic.


Oil/Conditioner Mix!
When my hair is in need of a little umph, I mix a little oil with my deep conditioner. After the hair has been washed, I add a few drops of oil to the conditioner and run through my hair.

How-to tip for the Oil/Conditioner Mix:
Select the right oil for this step. Because you aren't shampooing it out (like with the pre-poo), you must gauge how heavy or light of an oil you want to use. Using a thick oil like castor oil, for instance, will give you a different result than if you use coconut oil. You also want to make sure that you use only enough oil to compliment the conditioner but not to overwhelm it. Make sure that you use more cream conditioner than oil in this step.

How your hair will benefit:
This step leaves your hair well conditioned but with a nice feel to it. You hair will feel as if it has an extra layer of protection. The oil will work to help seal in the moisturizing effects of the conditioner at the most opportune time, when the cuticle layer is open. It doesn't get any better my friends!


The HOT Oil Treatment!
This is a simple process which involves warming up an oil blend for use on the hair either just before or after the conditioner.

How-to tip for the Hot Oil Treatment:
Avoid using oil that is too hot. Please respect the fine line that exists between opening the cuticle layer using the right amount of heat and causing unintentional damage from searing your poor tresses with boiling hot oil.

How your hair will benefit:
This method is said to benefit hair which is extremely dry and damaged. The heat allows the oil to penetrate deep. The right kind of oil can help revive hair requiring a little more than a simple pre-poo.


The Oil Rinse!
The technique for the oil rinse is much like the oil/conditioner mix but instead of mixing your oil and conditioner, you are adding oil to the freshly washed hair after the conditioning step. So you wash, condition, then add a small amount of oil to the hair before rinsing the hair with warm water.

Oil Rinse How-to:
Just like the conditioner/oil mix, you should test this step out with various oils until you find the right one. Because you are not washing the oil completely out, you could possibly be left with oily (even weighed down) hair. On the other hand, if you plan on airdrying and need something a little extra to help combat dryness, this rinse may be just what you need.

How this will benefit your hair:
This process is said to have some amazing detangling properties. Not to mention the fact that you probably won't need to finish off your hair with oil in order to style it. As your hair dries, the oil will sink into the hair and help you create the perfect look. I also find that oil helps my hair dry a little straighter when airdrying.


With four separate ways to implement natural oils into your routine, you just can not go wrong. I probably would not use all four steps in one wash session. The most I would probably do is two at the most, the pre-poo and maybe one additional method if needed. You could even alternate methods each wash. Its whatever you fancy.

Remember to have fun finding the right combination for you and keep trying until you're are able to meet the needs of your hair.

Be Blessed!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Come on everyone! Let's all do the upsweep!

I received such great feedback from my last post asking about the specific ways to do the upsweep. I'm happy to say that creating the upsweep is easier than you think. Creating the upsweep takes only minutes. You only need a couple of hair pins and you're on your way to creating a beautiful, no-hassle hair style.

I personally use the upsweep as sort of a "leftover" hairstyle. By leftover, I mean that I put my hair in an upsweep when a few days have passed since my last wash and I don't feel like bunning. Whenever I need to look stylish without putting in much effort, I go for the upsweep.

The reason why I call it the uspweep, is because the hair is not as structured as a prom hair or a bridal updo. The look is loose and casual. If every strand of hair is not perfectly in place, who cares!

So lets get started!

In my opinion, the finished product will look its best when the hair has some sort of curl pattern. How much curl does not matter. Loose curls, tight curls, it all depends on what you prefer.

You can use flexirods, satin-covered sponge rollers, steam curlers, pincurls, whatever.

If you want to be intentional in creating the finished look then you should use the right curling method in the beginning. For instance, if you want to create the look below, you might want to use flexirods for tighter curls before you sweep up the hair. Sometimes I might do a flexirod set, wear the hair loose for a day or two, then freshen up the look (when the curls no longer look as good) by creating an elegant upsweep.

For a look similar to Jessica Alba's you need to create looser, less defined curls. So I'd probably use larger curl creating tools like a Caruso steam setter or large satin sponge rollers.



When creating the upsweep, all you are doing is putting the hair in an updo that allows the curls to be on display. So you pull the hair up and secure the length with hair pins or a banana clip. Once you are done creating your upsweep, you are free to accessories as you please.


The most basic variation of this hairstyle is simply pulling the hair up and securing it in place. If you want to get a bit more purposeful, you can create a sidesweep with your bang or implement the use of a stylish head band. One of my favorite ways to doing this style involves creating a "hump" with the front section of my hair and securing the back. I never go wrong when I attempt this.

The look below is one that I sport regularly. Sometimes I don't even bother to create a curl before styling my hair like this.
I start by creating my bang (if I want one) the loosen up the hair just behind the bang to create the lift you see in the picture. I pull the rest of my hair up and pin it in place. What I don't do is leave the ends loose like you see in the second picture. I usually take the ends (the ones you see stick out), tuck them into the hair and pin them down.
Hair looks good, ends are protected!



Because the upsweep may require a little more manipulation than the simple bun, you want to keep a few things in mind.
*Use hair pins that go in and out of your hair easily without any chance of breakage. I always use these pins.

Another step I use to avoid breakage is finger styling. I rarely use a comb when creating the upsweep because I am not going for perfectly structured hair.
Whenever I am creating this style, I always rub a little coconut oil through my hands before manipulating. This step is crucial because the oil protects the hair and adds shine.

Like I said before, having some sort of curl in the hair helps with the overall look but if you are on a low manipulation hair diet, may I suggest pincurling the hair with your hands the night before as an alternative to curlers, rollers, and such. One thing you definitely want to do is avoid direct heat at all costs (do not even think about breaking out your curling iron for this style). Direct heat is so unnecessary because of the myriad of other ways you can curl your hair. If you want, you can create the style without the curl. It's up to you.

I tried to make a video but I'm technologically deficient and have no idea how to convert the video from my digital camera to a format I can post on this blog. In the mean time, I've linked a couple video tutorials to help provide a visual.

This is a one minute video demonstrating how to pin the hair into an updo.

In the next video, the style is a bit more intricate for those of you who are a little more adventurous.

Best of luck ladies!
Let's share a toast to Fabulous hair!
Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tired of sportin' a bun? Try this

We all should know by now that protective styling is a life saver for your hair. Whenever the word protective styling is uttered, bunning is the first thought that pops into our head.

The term "bun" normally has a negative connotation to it. Bunning, for some, is the equivalent of pouring a bucket of cold water onto an open flame, it takes the fun out of having lengthy hair.

May I suggest to you, my friends, an alternative protective style- the upsweep.

Yes, the upsweep!





The upsweep is fun, its simple, and its fabulous!

How so?



With the upsweep, you can still put your luscious locks on display without subjecting your ends to the horrible experience of brushing against your fuzzy sweater.

The upsweep can take only minutes to do, and will last all day!




The upsweep will look good on you if every hair is neatly in place or if you decide you want it messy!




The upsweep always looks like you put in some sort of effort unlike it's lesser admired cousin-the bun.


The upsweep loves to be accessorised with head bands, hair pins, and other glamorous hair toys!











The upsweep can be done on practically any length hair(can you say the same thing bun?)

The upsweep never gets old because of the numerous variations of this wonderful hairdo!






The upsweep, your hair's new best friend.







-This has been a public service announcement brought to you by the caring professionals at relaxed hair health.
 

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