Friday, December 24, 2010

Relaxed Hair Health: A look back at 2010 and goals for next year

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

Pre-poo 101: Why you must do this every washday

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 yes....here'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

Relaxed Hair Health mentioned in Natural Hair Blogging Article

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 charcoal-ink.com, 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

8 Inches of hair growth in a year! What was her amazing Secret?


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
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__________________
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.



 
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