Friday, December 24, 2010

With just a few days left in the year, I think it's a perfect time for you and I to reflect on this chapter of our hair journey (2010) so we can discuss some wins and goals for next year. Prior to writing this post, I went back and read my intentions for my hair written at the end of 2009. Last year I had several areas of damage that seemed to creep up on me somehow. The moment they were identified I decided to take immediate action to rectify the situation.

One of the biggest decisions I made last year was to stop frequenting Dominican Salons. Even though nothing else beats the silky tresses created from just a short time under a blow dryer, I knew I had to make the ultimate sacrifice for my hair. This year's ultimate focus was creating a thicker mane overall. In fact, this desire was so great that I paid little attention to length and focused solely on the creating routines that promoted a thicker, fuller head of hair. Well, I'm elated to tell you all that baby girl got her thickness back. I'm just so excited about the progress I made in this area in just this year along. As a recap, here are some of the strategies that worked for me this year:

  • Because I was loosing so much hair in the detangling stage of my routine, I decided to really focus on locating tools that would help me in my struggle. You guys could see how excited I was when I came across some wondeful detangling combs. These things were a God send to me. From the day those combs came into my life, I could walk around with a bit more certainty because I knew that I'd reduced the amount of hair lost during manipulation. The amount of broken hairs from combing alone reduced dramatically when I got the proper detangling tools.

  • Once I had some detangling combs in my grips, my next improvement came in the form of how I rollerset my hair week after week. Once apon a time, I'd experience an undesireable amount of hair loss from the manipulation occuring from what was supposed to be a healthier option of styling. This year I had to take a step back and analyze every step in the rollersetting process to determine what the cause was of all the hair I lost during the process. The solution that made a huge impact came from the simple act of rearranging the steps I took when I rollerset. I wrote a post on it which I invite you to read.
  • Last year was the first time I purposefully introduced ceramides into my regimen. As you may remember, I went ceramide haywire once I knew of their value. This year I'll continue to feed my hungry strands a balanced diet of moisture, strength and ceramides but in 2011, instead of experimenting, I'll focus on my staple ceramide products.
  • Another major win for my hair was the purchase and use of my new water softener. It's amazing the difference I felt once I introduced soft water into the mix. I will have to admit that I became somewhat inconsistent in how often I refreshed my shower softener with it's much needed saltwater mix. If I'm not consistent with this thing, I find myself back to where I started, washing my hair with semi-hard water. This year I have to create a more regular schedule so too much time doesn't go by. Maybe I'll select the first of the month as a consistent time to refresh, just to make it easier for me to remember.
  • Shedding has been my hair's achilles heel for the longest. Because of my scalp condition, I tend to suffer with extra amounts of shedding, especially during the winter months. My eyes really opened up to the cost of my consistent shedding when I saw up close scalp pictures of people with severe forms of dandruff. The moment I saw how thin the hair patterns were compared to people with healthy a healthy scalp, I knew I had to take immediate action. Since my biggest objective last year was to create thicker hair, I became extremely focused on what I needed to do to fix this issue once and for all. Luckily for me, the solution came in the form of a $2 sprayer and some powerful essential oils. This year (I'm not kidding) has been the very first fall/winter season that I didn't suffer from the usually "I think I'm going bald" shedding that we normally endure each year. I am forever indebted to essential oils for their amazing impact on my hair journey.
  • This year I also came to the realization that my daily hair habits created the areas of damage my hair was suffering from. For instance, when I wear my hair down, I like to sweep my hair over the front of my shoulders so I can see my hair (and play with my length). What I soon realized was that after months and months of doing this, the back of my hair became extremely damaged without me even really realizing it. My full attention was paid to the hair on the front and sides of my head because that was what I could see. By the time I realized it, the very back of my hair was not only several inches shorter than the rest of my hair, it was very weak and fragile to the touch. Today, I'm happy to report that much of that damage has been reversed to the point where the back of my hair is nearing the same length as the rest and will match and maybe even surpass the other areas by 2011. I give all the credit to the strand ceremony. This method allowed once dry and neglected areas of my hair to get the same amount of lovin' as the rest. As a result I realized thickness return to both the back of my hair and the left side.
One other thing I should mention was that for the entire year, I consistently repeated a mantra to myself numerous times a day. It went something like this: "I love my full, thick, healthy, hair! "I just love how full, thick, and healthy, my hair is. Each section, each strand is so healthy." But remember that when I first started saying this, my hair was not at all full thick and healthy (at least to me). I had sections thriving and sections suffering dearly. Not to mention how crazy the shedding was. This reminds me of Njoy's words of inspiration about believing for and focusing on the head of hair you want to have, not what you're experiencing at the moment. Looking back at all the successes of 2010, I strongly believe I was fortunate enough to discover those methods, tools, and products because I was so focused (mentally) on creating thickness and fullness.

So those were some of the highlights from 2010. This year, I'll continue to institute what worked well for me in 2010. But as I look ahead, I feel I'm finally ready to seek the length that I so desire. I've got to start this thing off right by first breaking out my vision board image of the head of hair I desire. I love the length shown in the pic below but coupled with the fullness similar to Brooke's hair. Remember her from the interview I did on her regimen?
In 2011, I want to create the fullness all the way down to the tips of my hair. I desire strong full, thick healthy ends that demonstrate how healthy my hair is. I know that's a tall order for someone who doesn't hide their hair for the purpose of thicker ends. The ends are the key to the length I desire so I must find a way. Oh, and by the way, I don't want to "trim my way to healthy ends" just yet. I believe, that like 2010, as long as I enter the year believing it's possible for me, and take necessary action, I'll attract the solutions that will get me what I want! And of course, you guys know that I'll document my actions along the way. My mind is already churning with ideas of how I can make it possible this year.

I'm excited to also hear about your goals for 2011. How was 2010 for you and what will you accomplish this upcoming year?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

If you were to ask me about what the most important part of my hair care routine is, I would, without a doubt say, "it's the pre-poo!" I value the pre-shampoo aspect of my weekly routine even more so than the deep conditioning. In fact, I attribute the pre-poo step to my miraculus victory over numerous setbacks over the past couple of years. It was after I amped up my pre-poo that visible results began to emerge. I'd like to share more about this wonderful journey with you if you don't mind....

I'd like to first begin by defining what I mean when I say pre-poo. Even though this term may be common place for some of you, there's still a ton of people who have no idea what the pre-poo is and why it's even important. Basically, pre-pooing is the act of applying conditioner, to dry hair, prior to the wash. The purpose of doing so is to prepare the hair for the shampoo/conditioning process.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's get to the nitty gritty......

What's the point of the pre-poo? You're just going to wash your hair anyway.
Yes it is true that the product applied during the pre-poo step is not only rinsed out, but washed out by your shampoo. Even with this being true, there's a whole heap of benefits to this process. First off, the wash routine is highly stressful on the hair. There's a ton of manipulation that tends to take place when we wash, deep condition and style the hair. Remember my post on protecting the cuticle layer? One of the biggest learnings, for me, when I researched articles for the post, was how much damage one can avoid to the cuticle layer by simply making sure the hair is conditioned before the excessive manipulation takes place. For me, the pre-poo step is the ultimate answer to the problem of wash day manipulation. Because of the pre-poo, my hair feels much less stripped after the wash. I don't know about you but I love the feeling of having clean, conditioned hair even before the deep conditioning step. By the time I've deep conditioned, my hair not just conditioned but ultra-moisturized.

What product(s) should I use during my pre-poo?
Ah's where the fun begins. When I first began to incorporate the pre-poo into my routine, I would basically just squirt a bottle of .99 cent conditioner on top of my hair. It wasn't until I conducted the Hair Fixer Experiment that I was forced to look at the pre-poo into a whole new way. If you read those posts or used Hair Fixer, you might remember that I was essentially barred from using deep conditioner for a full 6 weeks. My only recourse was to really focus on how could create a powerful pre-poo. That's when I began to experiment and get creative. Immediately I upgraded from cheap water based conditioners to more instensive ones. Since I wasn't using my "good" conditioners for their normal purposes, I started to use them before my wash. The difference I noticed was huge! In fact, I believe this shift in my routine was critical to my success with Hair Fixer.

Since then, my routine has evolved to include a myriad of pre-poo boosters. Today, I experiment with oils, powders, and other products to make my pre-poo that much more powerful. Specifically, I like to include coconut oil for it's ability to penetrate and add protein to the hair strand. Amla oil, just because it works well every time I've used it. High powered, thick conditioners because I like for my conditioners to "stick" to the hair and have a bigger impact. Additionally, sometimes I break open some vitamin e capsules or pour a few drops of honey to the mix for good measure. Pretty much anything I feel comfortable adding to my deep conditioner is fair game for my pre-poo mix.

How do I maximize the pre-poo step?

Without a doubt, the most complicated part of my weekly routine is the pre-poo. The process, has evolved so much. It's now become a mechanism to systematically erradicate hair issues and promote health above anything else I do. Just recently I shared my "strand ceremony" with you all. I can't begin to tell how how vital this process has been for my hair. I don't know about you but for the longest, I just haven't been able to make huge improvements in the health of my hair, in the past, even though I deep conditioned weekly. I believe this is because I wasn't able to master the art of impacting the individual strands that ultimately create a beautiful head of hair. The pre-poo, for me, was the ultimate answer to this dilemma. The pre-poo gives me easier accesss to smaller sections of hair because I'm better able part and apply product on dry hair versus damp, freshly washed hair.

Beyond that, I've also incorporated "deep conditoner-like" actions into my pre-poo step like sitting under my steamer. I've even gone as far as extending my pre-poo overnight. If ound that, instead of choosing one over another, combining the forces of Burt's Bees and OJON pre-shampoo treatments to create an amazing duo of pre-poo goodness. All I needed to do was add a plastic cap and some time for the products to germinate and voila! If any of you are interested in pre-pooing overnight, I find that using oil based products, like those described above, are much more powerful than water based conditioners.

I hope this was helpful to you who are still trying to figure out if the pre-poo step is even worth it for you in your routine. For me, it meant breakthough but I had to take it to the next level. Bottom line is this has been the most critical means of improving the overall health of my hair in recent months. Hopefully you will find value from my sharing so your hair will benefit as well. Got any pre-poo secrets in your routine? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

This blogging thing is lots of fun. Over the past couple of years, I've had the pleasure of interacting with tons of ladies who reached out to me while on their wonderful hair journey. I love that, because of the wonders of the internet, we don't have to go through this journey alone. I learn from you as much as you have learned from me. I'm also humbled that this simple little blog has attracted the attention of people and companies who I probably wouldn't have the opportunity to interact with under different circumstances.

Blogging about hair is somewhat of a strange topic but, as you may have already noticed, there are a whole host of hair related blogs available online, more specifically, textured hair. There are quite a few sites online that focus on the care and beauty of natural hair. Kagem, the author of, a blog dedicated to the topic of natural hair, submitted an article to British based Black Beauty and Hair magazine on the natural hair blogging phenomenon that has taken the online world by storm. The article features insights from such blogging greats as Curly Nikki, and famous blogs like Black Girl with Long Hair and Mane and Chic. I'm honored that along with these natural hair mega-bloggers, Kagem also reached out to little 'ole me to provide my viewpoint on the phenomena that is hair blogging. Thank you Kagem, for finding value in a blog focused on care of relaxed hair and including me in your natural hair blogging article.

Check out Kagem's article in the December/January issue of Black Beauty and Hair Magazine.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Those of you who've read some of my previous posts may have seen messages sprinkled within the posts about using the power of your thoughts to help create the perfect head of hair you want. I really believe it's crucial to focus the attention of the mind on the experience you want, not what you currently see. I was clearly reminded of that message the other day. While browsing the hair forum, I stumbled across a post that immediately grabbed my attention. With a title like "8 inches of growth so far this year," I couldn't help but to click just to see what's going on.

The moment I'm in the thread, my attention was instantly focused on her amazing signature picture which spoke a thousand words.

Immediately I scrolled to see what on earth this woman had done to experience such extraordinary results. I literally had goosebumps when I read her responses about how she manifested her gorgeous head of hair through the power of focus, intention and attraction. My next move was to get in contact with NJOY so I can learn more about her creation process. She graciously agreed to answer my questions so her story can encourage all of us. Without further adieu, here are her detailed responses to my questions. Read, enjoy and be inspired.......

In your entry on the LHCF progress post, you mentioned that you never really took care of your hair prior to January, how did you develop such a firm belief that you could reach waist length without ever having done it before?

Generally speaking, I’m a very confident person. I believe that if it can be done, I can do it. Upon joining LHCF, I spent a great deal of time reading threads, paying particular attention to what was being said by the long-haired ladies. They were already where I wanted to be and spoke nonchalantly about length and maintenance. It seemed to me that growth was to be expected. I never really entertained threads that spoke of the struggles and frustrations that some feel. The idea of growth was planted in the fertile ground of an open mind and a can-do attitude.

And then it happened. I read a thread about a member who claimed to go from sl to almost wl in a year. Well, that’s the way it came across in a thread that was asking about the original thread. I’m not sure of the actual lengths, and judging by the pics she has in her fotki, she was growing longer than a year but, I didn’t notice that right away. All I knew was that she was able to do it so, it could be done.

I joined various challenges, including one called “Get an inch every month 2010”. Well! It seemed others were expecting an inch a month so, I was in! I could do it. I believed it and expected it. After all, I was taking care of my hair and hair is continually growing. Why wouldn’t I reach WL? The distance was less than twelve inches. Lol.

You mentioned visualizing and expecting growth, did you spend a specific amount of time visualizing daily? What exactly did you see in your visualizations? Can you describe the process?

I’m a mother of 5. The only uninterrupted time that I really have to myself is time spent in the bathroom. I take nightly bubble baths to unwind and relax. I thought this would be a wonderful time to visualize my life goals, including my hair goals. I created a vision board and hung it where I could see it while relaxing in my bath. My vision board consists of photos pasted onto a poster board and framed to resist moisture and look nice.

I’m sure most people are familiar with vision boards and choosing photos that represent the end results of what you’re envisioning in the different areas chosen for focus. In every picture that represented me, I made sure the woman had long hair and, when possible, I’d paste my face over hers in the picture. For my hair goal, I created this pic:

In addition to that pic, I also make mini-goal length pics. I print out a decent length shot pic and use a marker to extend my hair to the next goal length (I'm sure it would work better with photoshop or something but, I have no skills with that). And from where I'm sitting in my tub, it looks good enough for visualizing. I sort of see that as spoon-feeding my mind believable bites. It's not too much of a jump for my mind to believe. It's usually just a few inches beyond my current length. So, when I was above apl, my mini-goal visualization pic was bsb length. And my current mini-goal length pic hangs between wl and hl and looks full.

And, I also have written around the pic, the words "LONG", "STRONG", "THICK", "HEALTHY HAIR". So when I'm looking at the pic, I'm convincing myself that what I'm looking at is my current length. It's not too much of a stretch to believe and I get excited and start singing and thanking God for the beautiful mane. And by singing, I mean I made a little sing-songy song out of the words on my pic. "I have long, strong, thick, healthy hair! Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord!" I do that daily and am literally speaking life into my visions. And before I'm done, I spend time focusing on the full goal pic and tell myself how beautiful my hair looks and what a good job I've done taking care of it. And of course, thanking God for my crowning glory. I don’t go into a trance or anything like that. I just view the photos as though it’s already a done deal, and I allow a wave of gratitude to spring forth.

Also, from the beginning of my HJ, when I shower, I throw my head back and swish it around a bit while the water runs over it. The wet hair feels heavier and, in my mind’s eye, it’s longer, so I act that way. It’s fun to flip your long, luxurious hair in the privacy of your own shower. It’s important to have fun and to feel grateful.

How did you keep your thoughts focused on growth for an entire year without become frustrated, distracted or unfocused?

Well, a few things. Taking regular pictures reassured me that my hair was growing. I went a little overboard when I first started but, that was because I was excited to see growth. Eventually, I decided to stop looking at my hair every time I was in front of the bathroom mirror, particularly after spending time visualizing. The last thing that I wanted to do was convince myself that my hair is bsl and get out and find that I’m still apl, for instance. That allowed me to take the feeling of my new length with me into my day. And when in front of the mirror, I’d push my hair behind my back so that I couldn’t see the ends. My front is shorter so, I’d sweep that back and blend it with the rest of my hair.

Also, staying away from the naysayers and plugging into positive support. It is crucial to protect your mind from poisonous thoughts and people. I surround myself with positive and encouraging people and avoid negative people and posts like the plague.

Oh, there were times when I felt anxious and unsure about what to do in different situations but, I’d go to those who have been where I envision myself and ask questions and get support. Speaking of, I have a hair buddy that is a cheerleader out of this world. We message each other regularly and help each other over the bumpy spots. But, let me be clear, when I’m spending time visualizing, I never allow thoughts of any hair concerns to come up. This is because I’m focusing on the end result, and not the process of getting there.
I don't know that visualizing and positive thinking alone could cause this sort of manifestation. I believe faith without works is dead. Therefore, it was also my responsibility to practice good hair care techniques, such as keeping my hair moisturized and protecting my ends. I also took supplements to provide good health from the inside out and practiced regular scalp massages with a sulfur and oil mix for increased blood circulation to the scalp. I believe these good works combined with visualizing and faith manifested the growth that I expected

You also stated that you "kept the ideas that my hair grows fast and that it's constantly growing in front of me." Can you elaborate and what that meant for you daily, monthly, etc?

I kept these ideas in front of me by placing my progress pics in my siggy. I’m visually reminded of my growth over and over while on the boards. I always include my start picture along with my most recent pic. And when I look at that, I remind myself that my hair has grown since that last pic. Woohoo!

Have you used the power of attraction to produce other dramatic results in your life beside the gorgeous hair?
Absolutely! There are things on my current vision board that have come into my life with stunning results. For instance, I have a pic of a small group of women with the caption “Good Friends”. One of the ladies, from a distance, resembles me. I used a pen to extend her hair. I’m amazed to find that not only have I made close friendships with women since I posted the pic, but the friends that have come into my life actually resemble the women in the picture. I can associate a friend’s name with each woman in the picture. Now, I NEVER expected that! LOL. Now THAT’S what I call getting what I asked for!

Another awesome example is my Lexus. My screensaver is a slideshow of pics that I created for visualizing. One of the pics is a Lexus. I edited the pic to put my name on the front license plate and thought nothing else of it. At the time, I was driving an SUV because of the size of my family. I longed to be in a car but, it wasn’t really practical. Long story short, my husband called me one day and asked me to meet him to look at a car that he thought that I might like. Keep in mind that I never shared my pic or my desire for a Lexus with him. I didn’t want him to think that I was into some sort of hocus pocus mind thing. Also keep in mind that we were upside-down in our SUV value because the high cost of gas dropped the value of our vehicle. And, to get a LEXUS while upside-down in our SUV was just not supposed to happen. Anyway, the car was perfect! My color, style, interior~ BEAUTIFUL! But surely the numbers would stop us. Nope! I felt like a miracle happened. I didn’t make the connection with the picture until I went out and bought a vanity plate.

I’m very aware that there is power in the words that I speak and what I believe in my heart. I believe this principle is biblical and is available to us all. God said that whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive. I believe this 100%. And my faith coupled with His grace has produced this expected blessing and MANY others in my life. ~ And I’m thankful
Call those things that be not as though they were. -Romans 4:17

I'm thankful to NJOY for sharing with us her amazing experience. I don't know about you but I was once again excited about my ability to create the hair I desire simply by reading her story. If you'd like to know more about NJOY's journey, you can check out her detailed regimen here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I live in the state of Florida and, as you know, one of the things I have to deal with for the better part of the year is how hot and sweltering it can get in the summertime. Currently, the weather is beginning to change and many of us are breaking out our jackets and sweaters. One of the last things we think about when the weather starts to shift is the amount of water we are taking in on a regular basis.

Last year, while having a conversation with my supervisor. I looked down at the palms of my hands and noticed something peculiar. My palms were white with dryness and I had tiny little areas of where my skin began to peel. I quickly picked those areas of skin out of embarrassment hoping the problem would soon go away. Days later, the entire palms of my hands were flacking and peeling. I'd never experienced anything like it. I thought I'd been infected with some type of skin eating bacteria. The more I peeled the loose skin, the worse it became.

My peeling palms were very embarrassing but the most disturbing part was I couldn't figure out how to stop it. So finally, after days of throwing around ideas and inquiring to myself about what could have caused this, I got the notion of increasing my water intake. The amount of water I was drinking at the time was very minimal. Like now, the weather was cooler and the desire to drink water was not that strong. I figured that since I wasn't thirsty, I didn't really need to drink much water.

So for the next couple of days, I faithfully filled my water bottle and proceeded to drink water at every opportunity. I think my goal was to drink at least 2 liters a day. I promise you that 3-5 days later, the peeling stopped and by the next week, my hands we back to normal. That experience was huge for me because it really taught me the power of drinking water and, more importantly, the consequences of being dehydrated.

That whole experience got me thinking. Could the reduction of water intake during the winter months also have a negative impact on the health of my hair? Let's think about what our hair experiences during summer:
  • Circulation is improved, growth is increased.
  • Shedding is minimal
  • The hair thrives overall
In the winter, I normally experience the opposite: super dry scalp, increased shedding, and slower growth rate. I used to think these results were just a normal part of winter but the whole palm peeling incident has really made me think. "Is it possible that some of my hair's winter symptoms have to do with my water lower intake?" When the body's water supply is insufficient, it uses whatever little water it has for critical functions such as making sure the brain and other organs are operating at proper levels. This leaves very little water for our extremities which leads to such things as dry hands, feet, lips, etc. We can see and experience dry hands and feet. But instead of moisturizing our bodies with water, we slather on lotions, butters, and lip balm to cover the problem.

The last thing I was thinking about, when my palms were peeling, was the possible impact of my dehydration on the scalp and my hair follicles. It's important to reiterate the hair strand is 25% water. Not only is the strand made up of water, it also relies on water to carry to the strand nutrients, vitamins, and proteins. If the palms of my hand were suffering at the hands of dehydration, what was going on with my hair?

Looking back at my old posts from last fall/winter, one reoccurring message in my posts was about my constant shedding. Because of this, I'll make an un-proven assumption that the amount of water I drank had something to do with my dry, itchy scalp, massive shedding, and dry brittle hair.

Once I remember being stranded on the side of a highway and, while waiting for the emergency assistance guy to bring me fuel, I read through an entire thread on Longhaircareforum on drinking a gallon of water day challenge. Those who managed to stick to the challenge faithfully boasted of experiencing more moisturized hair along with other desirable benefits. More specifically, they noted that their hair was more able to retain moisture overall. One member provided her opinion on whether increasing water intake actually could affect the already existing hair, not just the new growth. I took the liberty of posting her comment below for your reference:

Originally Posted by locabouthair View Post
One thing to remember is that the water will ony affect the hair the new growth not the hair that is already on your head.So if your hair still feels dry after drinking lots of water, dont get discouraged, you have to give it time for the new growth to come in.
"This is not true. It's a common misconception.

The hair strand is continuous, and though hair is dead, it has layers that are continuous and feed right from the bulb. What you give to your body is not only apparent in the new growth, it is also spread throughout the core of the hair- (again because the entire strand is one continuous length and it feeds out from the bulb). Since there is no disconnect between the bulb and the rest of the hair, what is available to the hair at the root, will eventually spread out to the tips/ends of the strand. You may notice it first at the new growth, but it will also make a difference in the hair that has already grown out (though this may take longer).

You can see between the root (bulb and papilla) and the rest of the strand, there is no division or block to the spread of nutrients and minerals to the rest of the shaft. This is one of the main reasons doctor can take tell whether you have ingested certain drugs by studying your hair strands (whether the roots are in tact or not!) "

This year, I'm not taking any chances. I have a new mindset when it comes to what my hair will experience this winter. It's inspiring to know there's something I can do to help manage my dry scalp and the health of my follicles. Along with the help of ultra-moisturizing hair products, I must focus on drinking enough water to make a difference this winter. Now, my water drinking will have a purpose. This purpose is motivating enough to encourage me to drink water even when I'm not thirsty. Hopefully, you too have been inspired to really make a commitment to yourself regarding how much water you drink on a daily basis. I know for some drinking water isn't the easiest thing to do in the world. Heck, I only drink water and even I struggled to keep myself hydrated in the winter months. So now comes the time when we talk about some practical ways to turn our water drinking habits from a desire to reality.

One tip that I'll never forget is to start the day off with a large glass of water. At night our bodies are diligently working away to collect toxins. By drinking water first thing in the morning we jump start our digestive system and promote the removal of the toxins collected overnight. Once you've consumed your morning water, fill a couple of water bottles to take with you for drinking during your workday. When you return home to refill your bottle and sip until you've drunk close to half your body weight in ounces. Before getting into bed, refill another bottle so you've got water waiting for you for when you first awake in the morning. It's a process so don't get down on yourself if you don't drink as much water as you like one day. Just raise the amount even a little bit the next day.

So don't let the cooler weather rob your hair of the vital moisture it needs to thrive. We already have to deal with harsh external factors such as winter winds and lower humidity, the worst thing we can do is deprive the strands of water from the inside. Make the commitment today to combat winter dryness with plenty of water.

Your hair will thank you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thickness. For the past year or so, thick lush hair has been a goal of mine. Too many visits to the Dominican salon, along with excessive shedding due to an ailing scalp, and my incessent need to over-manipulate my hair for absolutely no reason, have all combined to create a thinner head of hair than I would have wanted. That's when I decided that I would shift the focus my hair journey to taking actions that promote thickness rather than length.

Well I'm happy to report that today, my hair is so much thicker and fuller than a year ago. This, of course, was no accident. I took some really intentional steps geared specifically so I could produce this result. If you don't mind, I'd like to share some of these with you today. So here we go...........

It all goes back to some time ago when I was strolling down the shimmering walkways of one of my favorite malls. I got there early and was waiting in front of the closed doors of Sephora waiting for the clerk to open for the day. As I waited, I looked around at the storefronts of some of the other businesses when something immediately caught my eye. It was an image of a woman of color modeling the latest fashions for passers by. I couldn't even tell you what she had on because my eyes were fixated on her hair. She had these full, lush, healthy loose curls. Her hair flowed effortlessly in every direction, probably with the help of a wind machine on set. It felt like I levitated towards that image and landed just inches away from the poster. I got as close to it as possible without actually putting my nose to the glass. The more I stared at it, the more I began to realize something that would change my life forever. The reason why her hair was so healthy was because each individual strand of hair on her head was healthy. Each strand of hair on her head was healthy.

For me, this was huge! Why? Because, at the time, I had sections of hair that thrived, and I had sections of hair suffering from breakage and/or thinning. Brining health to each strand was my key to thicker fuller hair. Not long after I received this epiphany, I stumbled upon this website and watched their amazing intro. Notice the amount of care and purpose he put into treating the woman's hair. I watched that intro play over and over again and was inspired to make some subtle changes to my routine because of it. On that day, I decided that I'd no longer just be doing a pre-poo, I was now creating my "strand ceremony." The strand ceremony would be my opportunity to impact the health of my hair on a micro level. My focus would be to apply conditioner with the intention of reaching each strand of hair with my nourishing products.

Before my strand ceremony was enacted, I'd apply product to large sections of my hair for compliance, just to say I did it. Suffice it to say, there were probably tens of thousands of hairs that probably didn't even come in direct contact with the product. Those hairs are then left vulnerable to the harshness of daily styling and manipulation. Those are the hairs that probably don't make it. Without them, I can not create a head of thick, full hair. So I literally, invested hours of time parting my hair into the smallest sections I could, then proceeded to spread that tiny section open so I could feel each strand of hair individually. It was then I would apply product, only after I could feel the strands. This process went on week after week, month after month, and still continues today. Yes, it's highly labor-intensive, but let me tell you, it's made a huge difference in the overall strength of my hair. You see, as each strand began to receive the benefits of the products, it could now stand on it's own. The strand had it's own strength that allowed it to withstand my crazy manipulation habits much better than previously. I should also mention that I prefer to do the strand ceremony on dry hair during the pre-poo step vs. on wet or damp hair after shampooing. Dry hair gives me more freedom to part in small sections without the concern for extra breakage caused by over-manipulating wet hair.

Along with the strand ceremony, I have also opted to use a mild relaxer vs. super strength. I've done this for a couple of reasons. For one, I feel that my texture has shifted slightly ever since I've adopted healthier eating habits. Super foods have really made a difference in the quality of my hair. I also believe that using a mild formula over super is like having your pasta al dente vs limp, lifeless pasta. This is definitely a secret weapon in my battle for thicker strands. Finally, I really had to address the issue of shedding I once had. I've written about this topic in several other posts so I won't bore you with the details. Long story short, I once accepted my shedding as "normal" until I decided to look into the possible cause which turned out to be my dry, flaky scalp. The moment I saw close-up pictures of the damaged scalp of people experiencing thinning hair, I knew I had to do something.

There was one last thing I did to help promote thicker hair. This one is kinda silly but I'll share any way. Every day when I was in the mirror or while I conducted my strand ceremony, I said to myself, "I have thick, healthy, full, luscious hair!" "I have thick, healthy, full, luscious hair!" I said this even when my hair wasn't anywhere near what I said it was in the affirmation. But I kept saying it anyway. This really helped me to remain consistent with what I was doing. The affirmation also motivated me to keep searching for solutions beyond just the strand ceremony. I invite you to try that sometime. It's much more inspiring than if I were to look at my hair day after day saying, "I hate the way my hair looks" or "My hair looks so thin and lifeless." That type of thinking gets me nowhere.

My journey to thick hair hasn't ended but I'm so pleased with the progress made thus far. As I mentioned in my last post, my ends have now become the focus. I'll continue to be open to the possibility of creating "amazingly thick full, strong ends." I can't wait to come back and report the details.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

At the start of the year, one of my intentions was to promote thickness to all areas of my hair. Last year around this time, one side of my hair was suffering miserably at the hands of damage. The damage was there long enough to cause sporadic thinning in certain sections. Today, I'm happy to say that overall, my goal of regaining my thickness back has almost been completely realized.

So now I look ahead. Over the past few months I've taken some specific action to address the concerns I've had regarding the health of my scalp, massive tangling, and consistent breakage. All though I'm not completely out of the woods yet, I'm confident that I'll soon get there. Now my focus turns to the place where my attention is needed most, my ends.

You all are well aware of the importance of healthy ends in the fight for retention. Healthy ends are critical for anyone who really is serious about this hair journey thing. Strong, healthy ends has been especially elusive for me as a person who doesn't protective style. Not only are my ends exposed most of the time, what's worse is I've got this horrendous habit of constantly keeping my hands in my hair. Even more horrifying is how I'm constantly manipulating my ends for no reason whatsoever. I cringe when I think about it.

I have a small dog who take out to use the restroom every morning. He's a creature of habit who tends to use the same small area each time he goes. I soon realized that even though he's a lightweight with tiny little paws, his behavior of using the same area day after day is wearing out my lawn. I also noticed that I'm doing the same thing to my ends. Day after day, I casually play with the same parts of my hair. How can I not expect the same type of results my lawn is exhibiting from being trampled by my dog?

Now that I know, I've got to do something about it. That something has to be powerful enough to create visible change months from now. Since I don't intend on hiding my hair 'till summer, I've got to lay some other ground rules that, hopefully will be just as effective. I'll continue to flush out ideas as time passes but I'll share with you what I have so far. When I think about the keys to healthy ends, I reflect back to the wise words of Wanakee which will forever be seared into my brain. Wanakee stressed that hair consistently exposed to air would suffer. She gave us the perfect illustration of the silk on the cob of corn. The silk exposed to the outside was all dried and crinkly while the silk protected under the husk was soft, moisturized and healthy.

I've decided to try to incorporate two of the most effective benefits of protective styling and try to replicate them on hair exposed to the elements. Protective styling gives your hair two key benefits: moisture retention and low manipulation. Those two combined are the bread and butter of healthy thick hair. Let's talk about how I intend on incorporating these two benefits without hiding my hair.

1.) Like I said earlier, my worst habit is my consistent need to manipulate the older (weakest) part of my hair. Since my hair is down a lot, I play with my ends a lot. After some careful consideration, I think I've come up with a solution that protects the very ends of my hair without having to bun.

I think back to the post I did where I interviewed a fabulously-haired stranger and my friend's house. One of the tips she shared with me was that she used flexi-rods on her ends every night. I realize now that every time I "bump" the ends with either flexi-rods or satin covered sponge rollers, I rarely ever play with the ends of my hair for fear of destroying the style. Thus my new method of preserving the thickness of my ends will be to keep my ends protected (from me) by tucking them under with the use of curls. Another thing I try to do when I wear curly styles is create tight curls. That way my hair isn't brushing against my shoulders or back. If this becomes a consistent style for me, my desire to manipulate will shrink drastically.

2.) Another key step to creating full healthy ends will come from my ability to keep them well moisturized/lubricated so they can better respond when I do manipulate them. Years ago, I was going through this phase were every 4 hours, I would re-apply a light oil to the length end ends of my hair. I tell you, it was during those times I would receive the most compliments on how healthy my hair looked. Not only did my hair look great to those on the outside looking in, it felt amazing. So I've decided to re-institute an old habit of carrying around a tiny bottle of filled with my favorite oils so I can retouch consistently throughout the day. Think about how often we have to reapply lotion or lip gloss because of the drying effects to air exposure. I know our hair can also need a little freshening up throughout the day. Why wait till the end of the day to re-moisturize? I prefer to try keeping my moisture levels consistent as much as possible.

I also had another idea. You know how some brands have come out with combs and brushes "infused" with natural oils in the fiber. I actually bought one of those brushes once and was sorely disappointed. I think I even ended up throwing it away after a while. Even though the execution of the idea was lackluster, I still think they were on to something with that idea. A lubricated comb or brush might make a difference in the amount of hair lost during the styling process. That's why I've decided to make a bootleg version of their idea with the use of my best detangling/wide tooth combs and some oil sheen.

Profectiv makes a couple of different oil sheen products. What I like about the ingredients are how natural they are. No mineral oil or silicone. Just ingredients like olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, silk amino acids, avocado oil, castor oil, etc. Although I haven't used spray oil sheen to finish off a style in years, I still find value in these these products as comb lubricators. That's right. I've used my oil sheen to help my comb turn into a true "oil infused" product. Because Profectiv uses real natural oil in their product, the result can sometimes be too heavy for day to day usage. So instead, I'm thinking I use this to spray my combs during my detangling sessions on weekly wash days.

Maintaining Strength

One last thing I have to make sure to do is really protect the length of my hair from over-processing when I touch up. I didn't even think about how relaxer run-off could impact the previously relaxed hair until fairly recently. For the very ends of the hair, this could mean the 10th or 20th time they've come in contact with a relaxer. So it's really important that we coat the hair with natural oils, Porosity Control, vaseline, neutralizing shampoo, or something. The point is not to let them go naked into such a traumatic process. Another cardinal rule of thumb I live by is "never use any electrical heated hair styling tool to create curls." There are just too many alternatives out there for me to use such a harmful styling method for curling.

I'll continue to think of more creative ways of reducing manipulation, promoting moisture, maintaining strength to all of my hair, especially my ends. If I place those key points as a focus. I have complete confidence that my ends will have no choice but to thrive. I'm still looking for other ideas I can incorporate. How do you keep your ends thick and healthy?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some of the things we have to be aware of along our hair journey are the little opportunities to make seemingly small improvements that make a big impact on the health of our hair. Today I'm here to talk about one of those "small improvements."

Specifically, instead of a product or technique, I want to rave about my newest hair accessory. Ladies, let me introduce you to the newest technology in the area of hair elastics. Remember the old days where ponytail holders were secured together with the help of a metal fastener. Back then, some of these elastics were even rigged in their design. Some of you who've experienced these types of accessories know the ridges and metal fastener are breakage opportunities waiting to happen.

Then the makers of these accessories began to get smart about their design. The next level of greatness in the world of hair bands came in the form of the Ouchless band. I can still remember the day I first laid my eyes on the Ouchless bands. They were smooth all the way around without even so much as a hint of any damaging metal or snag-attracting ridges. As soon as I seen them, I knew they'd be a perfect addition to my hair product and accessory stash.
These newer bands worked really well for a while but I noticed that as time passed, the band would begin to stretch with overuse, and this would begin to happen.
The elastic could become exposed creating yet another opportunity for hair snagging to occur. Another flaw in the design of this band was the cloth-like material. Whether I realized it or not, every time I put my hair up in a ponytail using one of these hand bands, it would be absorbing the Gleau I applied little by little. Could the continuous absorption of product from the same area on a consistent basis be the culprit to the longer broken hairs I experienced from time to time?

This and other worries are no more because on my trip to Target the other day, I stumbled upon the latest technology in elastic hair bands. Ladies, meet the Scünci Evolution.

The Evelotion is the solution to all the minor inconveniences to modern day ponytail holders. This baby is made up of a 100% gel like material with no breaks in the design for potential snags. Best of all, the gel material is completely smooth all the way around and won't absorb any product away from my hair. The new design also seems to be made up of a more durable material that won't lose it's shape even after consistent usage. You protective stylers will love this. I picked these up for around $3.50. This has now become an item that I'm strongly recommending to you as a part of the continuous improvements to your hair journey. When I think of the possibilities of this upgrade long-term, I see healthier pony tails and less breakage over time. I'm currently on a temporary assignment that will last for several weeks. During this assignment, I have to wear my hair in away from my face on a daily basis. I can breathe a sigh of relief now that these bands have come into my possession. So why not look for these on your next trip to Target or Walgreens. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

One of the most amazing aspects of producing content on the internet is the connection I get to make with people all over the world. Most recently, I received a question from via a youtube viewer from Germany. This person, who I'll refer to as "Katie" seemed to be in a place where she really truly wanted to create a healthy head of hair. She's right around ear length and wanted to achieve healthy bra-strap length hair. The only thing holding her back, she thought, were the lack of available quality products we here in the states are so lucky to get a hold of.
Instead of responding via private message, I thought I'd share some tips to creating healthy hair even if quality hair products are not readily available here for everyone to see. Prior to writing this post, I aked myself, "if I couldn't just whip out my debit card and purchase pre-poo treatments, intensive deep conditioners, or nourishing oils any time I wished, what would I do?
My first thought was that if I couldn't rely on products to save the day, I'd focus on my technique and on mastering the basics. Although I didn't ask her about her relaxing routine. My very first piece of advice would be to try to stretch out the time between relaxers. Start small by waiting just a few weeks longer than normal each time you relax. Once you get the hang of it, try to extend your stretch a little longer the next time. This will result in less over-processing which will help promote retention long-term.
The next thing I'd incorporate into my regimen a scalp massage on a regular basis. There's nothing like a good scalp massage to create a relaxing night not to mention the insanely huge benefits your hair and scalp will receive. I can tell you, Katie, from personal experience that scalp massages absolutely effect the rate of hair growth. There are parts of my hair that I routine massage even without thinking. What I realized is those areas always create thicker, longer, new growth than the rest of my hair. Just the practice of massaging alone, even without any hair products whatsover, will positively impact your hair.
Although protective styling ain't my thing, if I were on a mission to create lengthy hair without the help of amazing products, I'd bun, braid, etc 95% of the time. Even before I knew what protective styling was, I knew that everytime I'd wear sinthetic braids, my hair would seem to "grow" faster than normal. Truth is, my hair didn't grow faster, I just experienced less breakage while my hair was protected under the braids. By the way, I wasn't one of those people who wore braids for months at a time. Because of my hands in hair disease, the longest I would allow braids to remain in my hair was 6-7 weeks tops. If I could benefit from wearing braids for such a short amount of time, why not try this or other protective styles and see how your hair progresses?
Next on the list of techniques would be tools I used for grooming and styling. You should seek out the biggest/widest tooth comb you can find and only use this comb when styling. No small tooth combs allowed......ever. If your hair isn't fortunate enough to experience high quality products, it may not be strong enough to withstand the stress of using a small toothed comb. I also want you to go in your bathroom drawer, locate your curling iron (if you have one) and throw it away. If you don't want to let it go just yet, I want you to let a friend or relative store the iron for you until a later time. Until you start seeing some significant progress, you are not allowed to use any sort of heat styling tool on your hair. Excessive heat equals dryness and breakage. It's not something your hair needs right now. Trust me.
Instead of heat, I want you to consider other means of curling your ends. Check out videos of the pin-curl method of creating curls. It works pretty well.
All though Germany may not have many beauty supply stores around, my guess is that you probably can get a hold of supplements that support the health of your hair. Make sure to look for nutrional superfoods that give both you and your hair a ton of benefits. First see if you can find some hair, skin and nails vitamins. If not, go for a multi-vitamin in liquid form. Liquid vitamins are superb because they go right to the blood stream and begin feeding the body instantly. Therefore, your body absorbs more nutrients per dose. This is one of those things where you won't see immediate results. It's important to stay consistent 'cause that's when good things start to happen.
Now let's talk about products. Although pickins are slim in your area, you should try to avoid or replace any unproductive products from your regimen. Specifically, I'm talking about hair grease. See if you can replace commercial hair grease (loaded with petroleum or mineral oil) with oils like coconut oil jojoba oil etc. See if you can locate a natural food store in your area and stock up on any natural oils they carry. If you absolutely can't find natural oils locally, do a search online and pay a little extra for shipping if you have to. Once you have those oils in your possession, you can take the other steps in your routine to the next level. Now you have a healthy hair ingredient you can add to your deep conditioners and your pre-p00. You can also use the oil as part of your night-time treatment and dap on a little during the day as your hair needs it. Even without commercial grade hair products, you can still seek out natural ingredients you can incorporate into your hair routine. Eggs, honey, coconut milk are just a few of the readily available ingredients you can mix with your current conditioners to make them even more powerful. Simple things like popping vitamin e capsules into your conditioner can make a big difference.
Lastly, my friend, I leave you with these three important phrases to remember as you travel in your hair journey: be patient, stay consistent, and always improve.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ever since the early days of this blog, I've sang the wonderful praises of Hair One Conditioning cleanser. For those of you who aren't in the know, Hair One is a cleanser that doesn't lather and strip the hair like conventional shampoos. I've received emails from some of you asking about how to increase moisture levels in the hair. For me, Hair One was a huge addition to my overall moisture regimen. Once I started using a conditioning cleanser, I was finally able to sync every step in my routine to focus on creating/maintaining moisture.

Even though I'm head over heels in love with the results I get with Hair One, I still can't help but consider if I'd get an even better experience by using WEN products. You guys may have seen the informercials featuring various women with lustrous hair thanks to the help of WEN Hair Care System. I've put it off for long enough and I feel I have to finally give in to my curiosities and give WEN a shot just to say I did. Not to mention the fact that my hair could benefit if WEN is indeed a superior product.

So one of the pluses of Hair One is the accessibility and, of course, the price. Any local Sally's store stocks up to four varieties of the conditioning cleanser. And at around $11.00/bottle, Hair One has a huge cost advantage over WEN. Amazon or QVC are pretty much your main source for WEN products. A 30-day supply kit will run you around $30.00. Not knowing if WEN was superior enough to Hair One to justify the price, I never took the plunge. That is until now......

I seem to have stumbled upon a really amazing offer to purchase the same 30-day supply which includes the cleansing conditioner, styling creme, and Intenstive Remoist Hair Repair Mask for just $5.99! Yes, you heard me right, I said $5.99 (plus $5.99 shipping and handling). You should also know that this is considered an introductory offer which automatically enrolls you to receive the 90 day supply shipped to your home every three months for $29. 95 a month. Of course, if you are not happy with your product, you can contact their customer support line and let them know you would not like to continue with the 90 day enrollment program.

I don't know about you guys but this offer, to me, just seems to good to refuse. Finally, I get a chance to try WEN for myself so I can really see if Hair One really is the one. Of course you guys know this experiment will lead to a "Battle of the Cleansing Conditioners" post at a later time.

UPDATED:  You can check out my "Battle of the Cleansing Conditioners" post here!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lately in my hair journey, I noticed a shift in my focus from supplementing my routine with traditional vitamins to supporting my hair with powerful nutrient-rich foods. Eating is one of those things where the act itself has many purposes. We eat for pleasure, we eat for survival, we eat to maintain or create our weight. I like to also think of eating as a way to promote optimal health, beauty and vitality.

Don't get me wrong, you'll still see me from time to time, munching on a bag of Miss Vickies Jalepeno chips, some Chik fil-A waffle fries, or enjoying something that pacifies my sweet tooth. That still doesn't mean that there aren't ample opportunities to fit in some ultra-nutritious foods into my lifestyle. I know there are countless overall benefits to injecting super-foods into our daily eating. For the sake of this discussion, let's just focus on the impact to our hair.

I have an unproven theory I'd like to share with you. I like to believe that when we eat foods comprised of the normal American diet, our bodies don't necessarily receive what it needs for operating optimally. If our diet is lacking in value, we only provide enough fuel for our body to survive, not to thrive. Let's look at it another way, think of the nutrient amount in your foods like a paycheck. If someone is making close to minimum wage, there's only enough money to pay for the most basic of essentials, living expenses, food, and other absolute needs. A person making a six figure income, however, can cover basic needs and allow for an extraordinary life full of luxuries beyond the bare minimum. Most often, it's easy to see the difference between someone making six figures and the person making minimum wage. I like to make the same comparison with our eating to the health of of hair. If we are consuming a "minimum wage" type diet, our body will function. Adding super foods to our diet is like adding pay bonuses to our check. The more we do it, the more increase we have available to create new possibilities. Just like the person earning more money, nutritional abundance in our diet will allow our bodies to go beyond the minimum needed to just keep us alive but to create beautiful skin and ultra healthy hair.

Eating a diet made up of 100% healthy foods is not only challenging, but somewhat unreasonable with our fast-paced lifestyles. So what I've decided to do instead, is supplement my diet with super foods so I know I'm getting what I need to thrive every day. When I speak of super-foods, I'm referring to food that provides an extreme level of nutrition even when consumed in small amounts. I'll give you some examples of these foods from my diet:
Obviously, there are many other super foods out there available to us. This is what makes it fun. With all the options available, you can take your pick based on taste and preference. I like to incorporate these foods into my already existing diet. For example, I'll add a spoonful of flax seeds, wheat germ, and/or brewer's yeast into a cup of yogurt and suddenly my snack turns into a nutritional powerhouse. Even a bowl of your favorite cereal can transform to an excellent source of omega-3 power with the help of a little chia and flax.

Some of these foods may sound a little foreign and uninteresting to you. That's alright. I started my journey here by first selecting healthy snacks. For example, instead of a sweet mid-day snack, I'd munch on some sliced almonds. Little by little, I'd add healthy foods here and there. The more my mind was open to the possibilities, the more I'd find foods that offered higher potential to my overall health. So how has all of this affected my hair? One of the most obvious, for me, is the quality of my new growth. Prior to including powerful foods, I touched up every 8 weeks. Not because my hair was growing so fast, honestly, it just seemed like my hair was wiry and untamable. Now, I stretch twice that long because my new growth is supple and healthy. My hair feels more like it's flourishing rather than just growing. It's the difference between living on $8.00/hour versus $150,000 a year.

Prior to incorporating super-foods, I toted around a myriad of vitamins pills. If I missed a day or two here and there, I'd beat myself up mentally about missing my promise to take my supplements. With nutritional foods, I just mix a spoonful with what I'm eating at the time. Best of all, I'm taking in foods that support my entire body versus scoping out supplements specifically and solely for hair for growth. This has opened up a whole new world for me. If maintained the mindset of only seeking out hair pills, I may have missed out the the amazing benefits of chia seeds, macca root, or whatever else is out there I haven't discovered yet. So, in all honesty, I wanted to share my experience with powerful foods because I'm sure there's benefit to each one of you. Do any of you have any recommendations of your favorite healthy foods? I'd love to try something new.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Normally, I would dread this time of year. You guys all know the feeling of finding tons of your precious strands on the floor, in your comb, in the shower. Yes, I'm talking about seasonal shedding. Not too long ago, I took the time to trace my most recent setbacks to the root cause. After careful thought, I determined that my root cause was linked to my hair's roots. More specifically, the health of my scalp.

Excessive shedding, for me, consistently created a chain of events that worked against the health of my hair. Case in point:

heavy shedding ->>tangles ->> breakage as I would try to remove tangles ->> thinning of hair based on amount of shedding experience.

In my case, the shedding I experienced was not seasonal. I had to deal with this issue month after month because of an unhealthy scalp due to scalp condition I have called sebhorric dermatitis. It's like dandruff on crack. You guys may remember a previous post where I shared pictures that really opened my eyes to the ills of an unhealthy scalp. I really got serious about my scalp health once I realized how thinning and an uhealthy scalp are inter-related. All the deep conditioning in the world couldn't help me with this one. I had to find a solution to help deal with the problem once and for all.

When I sat back and analyzed my behaviors and routines, I realized that I have a pretty good system to treat my scalp (with ACV and dry scalp shampoos) on wash days once a week. The problem was I would find myself scratching my itchy scalp just days after I treated it. I had to find a solution. Since my schedule doesn't afford me the opportunity to wash more frequently, I had to figure a way to "cleanse" my scalp between washes. My salvation can in the form of tiny $2.00 spray bottles!

I can't tell you how long I've been looking for a spray bottle that truly produces an extra-fine stream. I wanted to spray my scalp without dealing experiencing run-off down my neck. These sprayers are absolutely perfect! Sally's sells them in a pack of 2 for $1.99. So once I got the min-sprayers in hand, I got a bunch of scalp healthy potions that I could spray directly to my scalp using my nifty sprayers.

So far I've experimented with:
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Eucalyptus Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Neem Oil

Many of the essential oils listed above are quite strong so most people recommend you dilute them in carrier oil. It's been several weeks now since I've created the habit of spritzing my scalp one or twice a week (between washes) and, I've just gotta tell you all how positive my experience has been. Not only am I dealing with less itching throughout the week, I now can wear black without fear of sporting flakes on my shoulders. I'm also lovin' the feeling of a tingly scalp after applying the essential oil. But the absolute best result I've experienced, without a doubt, is the dramatic reduction in shedding. So now my scalp experience looks something like this:

light shedding->> minimized tangles->> easier detangling->> controlled breakage levels->> thicker hair->>increased stimulation->> healthier growth.

So now I eagerly wait for "shedding season" to begin. So far I see no signs of it. I'm crossing my fingers together in hopes that this method will be effective enough to impact the cycles of nature. In the mean time, I'm enjoying every second of this new experience. I feel like my hair has been given a second chance now because of the healthier condition of my scalp. Of all the oils I've experimented with, so far my favorites are the eucalyptus and peppermint. After applying the oil, I'll sometimes finish up by using my trusty scalp massager to help distribute the product throughout the hair. So far, this routine has worked for me beautifully.

Hopefully this will help someone out. Do you guys have any healthy scalp tips to share? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I've been keeping this a secret but I can't hold it in any longer! Juicing is my new favorite pastime. Today, I'll share a drink recipe that tastes delicious and is ultra healthy for the hair!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

For as long as I can remember, it seems like I've constantly battled setback after setback. In fact, on my way out of a set back as we speak. This time however, I really fell strongly that this will probably be my last setback ever (at least I hope so). I feel confidently about the state of my hair going forward because I've learned some really valuable lessons along the way. Today I'll be sharing with you some of the learnings that will keep me away from future setbacks. Hopefully, you too can apply some of my experience in your hair journey.

Don't get discouraged. Whenever I find my self dealing with damaged brittle, breaking hair, I lose any and all sense of complacency and get determined to make changes. It's really important, if you're going to change your hair situation, that you refocus yourself to implementing specific actions that will bring about the results you desire. Just remind yourself "my hair is still growing regardless. My job is to make sure I maintain the health of my hair while it continues to grow."

Figure out what causes your setbacks. Although it may seem like it, damaged hair doesn't suddenly appear out of no where. It's a result of our daily or weekly actions. You have to take some time to reflect on what is the cause of your dilemma. I was able to narrow down several of my past set backs to the following:

Thinning hair
  • Too many visits to the Dominican Salon. The excessive heat, along with, the hair lost during the manipulation of the round brush left me with a thinner head of hair with every visit. If I continued to keep this as a part of my routine, my hair would suffer dearly.
  • I also realized that my poor detangling methods were also contributing to the thinning of my hair. Every wash I would lose so much hair with improper detangling. If I kept loosing loads of hair week after week, my hair would be see-thru in a few months.
Damaged Sections
  • For me, damage begins to appear in certain sections. This can be both good and bad. Good, because I don't have to deal with a whole head of damaged hair all at once. Bad, because this means that one area is not receiving what it means to thrive. If I don't act quickly to get the damaged area back to health, the damage will spread to other areas. Next thing you know, I'll have to cut healthy hair just to make it even with the struggling areas. That is something I never want to do.
Breakage. Breakage. Breakage.
  • My absolute arch enemy. What more can I say about hair breakage? Unless it's addressed - fast, my hair is in deep doo doo. I literally inspect each lost strand to determine if it's lost or broken. Too many broken hairs causes my anxiety levels to rise. Because my hair doesn't enjoy being bathed in protein treatments, I can't wait for the breakage to become excessive. By the time it's excessive, I'm know I'm headed for a setback. This is why I have to formulate all my actions to support hair strong, resistant, hair.
Identify. Remedy. Prevent.
I'm confident about my ability to avoid future (major) setbacks because I've identified the major causes to the hair damage I've experienced in the past. After identifying the issue, I think long and very hard about the absolute best and most effective way to eradicate my hair's malady.

That's when I begin to remedy the problem. The remedy usually involves incorporating a new step or product into my routine. One realization I had to make was that whatever I was doing for the past few weeks, months, was contributing to what I was experiencing at the moment. This meant that something had to change. Either what I was doing to my hair or what I was using on my hair. The worst thing you can do when you've suffered a set back is to keep on the path of insanity that created your result in the first place.

When you're thinking about remedying the problem, the question you must ask is "what is causing my breakage, thinning, etc?" One piece of advice I'd give you is not to accept the first answer that pops into your head. You also have to sit back and reflect on your habits. For example, when I have a lot on my mind, I tend to start playing with my hair. So basically, I'm manipulating my hair without even thinking about it. Doing this once or twice isn't a big deal, but if I do it day after day (which I did), I end up with areas thinner than the rest of my hair. The longer you think about about the cause of your hair situation, the better your chances of really getting to the root cause and eliminating the problem once and for all.

Prevention is really the final step of coming back from a setback. To be completely honest with you, the only way to get to the prevention stage is to make sure you've mastered the remedy to your problems. You'll know if you can move on the the prevention step only if you are seeing consistent, real, progress from your actions. If you're not seeing progress, then don't move forward. Currently, I'm in the prevention stage of my setback cycle. I feel that I've effectively addressed my shedding and excessive breakage. I know this because I see that I'm retaining length in areas that once struggled mightily. My job now is to continue on this path so every centimeter of growth is capitalized. I also know that a fine line exists between prevention and remedy. There's a delicate balance of maintaing a strong routine while adjusting ever so slightly if the signs of damage begin to reappear. Even though my hair is in a good place right now, I still know better than to step into a Dominican Salon for a very, very long time. Even the thought of using a flat iron right now gives me the creeps. Now is the time to make it all happen. Now is the time to gain the length, thickness, and health I so desperately desire.

So those are some of my thoughts on addressing setbacks. My prayer is that a year from now I can really see the fruit of all the this hard work and contemplation. I also hope that you too can see your setback as only a temporary glitch that can easily be overcome. Some of you have already found yourselves on the other side of a set back. I'm curious to also hear from you on what you did to make it happen.

Leave a comment....

Friday, September 3, 2010

The other day, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the lucky winners of the recent "I Love Pantene" contest. The minute I saw Brooke's amazing hair, I just knew I had to talk hair with her. Very rarely do you see a head of relaxed hair as fabulous as Brooke's. Length, thickness, health, her has has it all. You can imagine how excited I was to get a glimpse into her hair routine.

Much to my surprise, Brooke is a non-protective styler like me. In fact, most of the time you'll find her with hair down. So my first question to her after she shared that with me was "how do you keep your hair moist between washes?" Most of the credit for keeping her hair fabulous between washes goes to Pantene's Relaxed and Natural moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. According to Brooke, the products contain enough moisturizer to last her hair pretty much until the next wash. After her washes she allows her hair to air dry loose. Once completely dry, she flat irons with her Maxiglide iron and she's on her way. Brooke attributes the health of her hair to minimizing heat to only on wash days which usually happens every two weeks or so. At night she wraps the hair with a satin scarf to help keep the straightness and bounce. Her moisturizer of choice is Pantene's Daily Oil Cream Moisturizer. Her ends remain full and thick because she trims on a cycle of about every three months.

Believe it or not, Brooke wore her hair in it's natural state until about 10 years ago when she decided to relax and venture into the world of doing her own hair. She's a self relaxer who touches up 2-3 times a year with a mild lye formula. She keeps a very consistent routine of washing with her staple Pantene products, air drying, and using a Maxiglide iron which straightens the hair with the power of nourishing steam. Moisturizing Pantene products, plus airdrying, plus an iron that hydrates while it straightens seem to make up the bulk of her beautiful hair process. Oh, and I have to also mention that Brooke also supports the overall health of her hair by drinking lots of water.

What I learned from speaking with Brooke is how important it is to be consistent throughout. She doesn't struggle much with dryness because she's using moisturizing Pantene products, air drying to help keep in moisture, then finishes it off with a steam flat iron. It's no that wonder her hair's able to retain moisture. Add the fact that she uses a mild relaxer only sporadically and you've got a formula for healthy hair. I'm impressed that someone who has been natural pretty much all of her life has now ventured into the world of chemical relaxers while still maintaining health thickness and vitality. When I asked her about the difference between her natural hair and relaxed, she responded by saying the only difference was that her natural hair would sometimes feel stringy when pressed because of the amount of product used during the process. Now she minimizes the product usage which helps produce fuller looking hair.

My thanks to you Brooke for becoming a hair inspiration for me. I love full, thick hair and you make it look so easy. Thank you Pantene, for creating products that help support beautiful heads of hair like Brooke's. For years I've drooled over the heads of hair I've seen on Pantene commercials. I've used Pantene products years ago and now I find myself eager to re-introduce my hair to Pantene once again. I loved their Relaxed and Natural Mask and currently I'm enjoying the Damage Repair Ampoules (review coming soon).

I'll leave you all with more inspiring pics of Brooke's fabulous mane. Enjoy!

Brooke was one of four winners of the "I love Pantene" contest where Pantene searched for four African-American women through an online casting call and at the New Orleans Essence Music Festival with beautiful, healthy hair who used Pantene products. Brooke submitted her photo online with the encouragement of her friends. Brooke and the other winners will also be featured in magazines nationwide!
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