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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