Monday, August 15, 2011

From my BC till now...

So I've decided share a few pics with you from my Big Chop until now.  I've made many mistakes along the way as I've literally had to learn how to care for my hair in it's natural state.  That means many a day there was tons of hair on the shower floor and in my sink!  However, I've since learned the importance of MOISTURE and how to retain it.  I've also learned how to detangle my hair without literally ripping it out of my head which, yes sadly, I was doing.  Patience, I've also learned, is KEY in this journey to regrowing a healthy head of thick natural hair.  I think I've made some strides but I also have quite a long ways to go.  Enjoy...

These pics are from the very first day of my Big Chop back in January 2011.  You will notice I look very much like a skinned cat.  I was both shocked, scared but a bit excited to embark on my new journey.  No, I did not go out in public looking like this, I covered it with a custom made wig.  Notice the grooves of missing hair from over-processing with chemicals then pulling my hair tightly in weave tracks!  It's amazing the damage wasn't any worse.

My hair is starting to come in now and my first attempt at twists in February.  I was pretty excited since I could clearly see the growth of my hair since January.

Whenever I left the house I would wear a cute head scarf to match my outfit but not actually show what was happening under there.

Here we are a few months later in May.  I now became emboldened and decided to rock my TWA for all the world to see.  My brave face actually covered my fear of being rejected quite well.  The back and sides have recovered and filled in quite nicely so there were no longer any obvious bald spots.

My hair shrinks so much it blows my mind.  The pic on the left is my freshly co-washed hair, the pic on the left is the same day with my TWA fully dried.  It looks soooo much smaller in it's dried state.

My first attempt at accessorizing my TWA, I loved it...hubby didn't. 

So to date the top and sides of my hair are the longest with the very back taking it's sweet ole time growing in.  I'm learning to be patient with my stunted hair growth and look for health instead of length.  Healthy hair grows!!!!  I'm also trying my best to rid myself of two issues: Product Junkyitis and Texture-Envy.  One day I'll be a bigger person but today, I'm just learning to love me and my God-given tresses.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Henna Gloss

So...last Friday I decided to try my hand at Henna again but this time I decided to try what others have coined a "henna gloss".  A Henna Gloss or Conditioning Henna is simply a 50/50 mix of henna and conditioner which results in a deep, deep conditioning for the hair.  As full strength henna can be a bit drying to some, myself included, I thought maybe this would be a great alternative as henna has really great benefits for strengthening the hair. 

Prior to making this decision to henna again, I did my research and found lots of recipes for online to accomplish this task.  The recipe I chose was from Curly Nikki, as she has the most detailed information I've found so far on the use of henna for natural hair.  I, of course, tweaked it a bit in an effort to achieve the most moisturizing benefits I possibly could.  So here's my recipe:

Henna Gloss (Conditioning Henna)
50g BAQ Henna (I use this small amount because I only have about 2 inches of hair on a pretty small head)
1/2 cup cooled black tea (I used 3 tea bags)
1/2 cup Hello Hydration conditioner
2 tbs Sweet Almond & Avocado Oil mixture
1 tbs Oyin Handmade Whipped Pudding
1 tbs Honey

I mixed the henna and tea and let sit for about 16 hours, I usually don't let it sit this long but I went to work then came home and trained for 1 hour as I will be running in a 5K in November (woot! woot!).  After my training session, I added the conditioner, oils, honey and whipped pudding just prior to adding the henna to my freshly co-washed hair.  After I added the conditioner et al. I immediately noticed a drastic change in the texture of the henna from the consistency of mashed potatoes to a smooth, velvety chocolate-like texture.  I wrapped my hair in Saran Wrap and sat around chilling with my hubby for 3.5 hours after which I finally washed it out.

Now the first thing I noticed during the rinse and before I added any conditioner was my hair felt really, really soft.  I didn't get too excited about this though since if I have water in my hair, it feels pretty soft.  I moved on to co-washing the henna out of my hair using Giovanni moisturizing conditioner.  I co-washed about 4 times to ensure the henna was thoroughly removed from my hair, then moved on to deep-conditioning with My Honey Child's Olive You deep conditioner for 30 minutes with heat.

The results...super-soft hair that STAYED soft.  Since Friday I have not experienced breakage of any with very little hair lost during detangling and combing.  This morning (Sunday) during my morning co-wash, I did notice my hair felt and looked significantly thicker so I'm hoping the henna treatments will work to strengthen my hair and enable me to reduce shedding and breakage to allow my hair to reach it's maximum health and growth potential.  Since this henna gloss seemed to be much kinder to my strands, I think I'll add this to my monthly regimen; I'm all for anything that will add strength to my hair and not damage it in the process.

So what about you?  Have you henna'ed? 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What I've learned thus far

Wow!  Okay it's been well over a month since my last blog entry, to say the summer season has been busy would be the understatement of the century.  Between my job, my family, my friends, my church and just trying to squeeze some type of summeresque activities in, I've been a bit inundated. 

Alot has happened since my last entry.  My hair is growing it makes me want to scream.  However, my sister keeps me sane and well-balanced (this is has been her role literally ALL of my life) and keeps reminding me "a watched pot never boils".  Whatever man, I'm ready to rock some headbands and twistouts and funky afros and flat twists and...well you get the picture.  My hair is still uneven, no I refuse to even it out as you can't tell it's uneven unless I point it out.  However, now it is THICK which I like and I remember from my days as a child.  My hair has always been thick (to the point of breaking combs) but since I abused it constantly by overprocessing, under nourishing, tugging and weaveing it to literally an inch of it's life, my strands became stringy and lifeless.  The fact that is is thickening nicely leads me to believe it's becoming more healthy which brings me to the first thing I've learned:
  • The Importance of Detangling!
Okay so my current regimen is to co-wash everyday, then apply Kinky Curly Knot Today, followed by Oyin Handmade Whipped Pudding and/or Oyin Handmade Honey Dew, then seal with my homemade oil concoction.  Now this had been working for me for about 3 months or so.  My hair was soft and moisturized all day.  However, somewhere towards the end of June, I realized it was becoming more difficult getting a comb through my TWA resulting in lots of hairs in the comb or on the sink.  Naturally I thought this was due to my prior abusive behavior and my hair was still recovering but I did think to myself, "goodness, when will the breakage stop already!"  Then one night I had a "EUREKA!" moment while browsing one of the many natural haircare sites and reading about the proper care of natural hair AND the importance of detangling.  "Could it be?" I thought to myself.  So I tried it the very next morning and wouldn't you know I had enough hair on my head that I actually needed to DETANGLE my strands?!  Yay!!  So, I inserted another step in my daily regimen...detangling while cowashing and I can tell the difference.  I now experience a significant reduction in breakage AND now when I comb my hair I hear a whole lot less of that telltale "snap, crackle, pop".  Whoo hoo!  Go me!  Hopefully with the introduction of detangling with the results of less breakage will actually allow me to finally see some evidence of hair growth other than the thickening of my strands.  I am ready for length baby!!
  • Henna can be drying
Sooo as you can tell from my last update, I am bored with my hair right now and my extremely limited styling options with my 2 inch TWA.  So I came up with the rather brilliant idea of changing my hair color, of course I didn't want to do anything that would be too harsh for my fragile hair so the typical color-from-a-box was NOT an option for me.  So I thought BAQ henna would be a wonderful alternative that could actually be pretty beneficial to my hair.  I'm sure it would have been beneficial if I didn't go overboard with was extremely drying to my hair and it didn't help that I did 2 back-to-back treatments.  The end result?  Lovely color (that everyone else could see but me) but dry, brittle hair that lead to.....breakage.  I did deep condition each time I did it but it took it's toll on my precious strands.  I will possibly try henna again as I love the idea of it's hair-strengthening qualities but since I'm in serious length-retention mode, I'll be staying away for a while until I can figure out why it dried my hair out so much.
  • I am NOT my hair
So I tend to go overboard a bit when I get really interested or excited about something.  Since my natural-hair journey began I've been doing quite a bit of research on all things "natural-hair".  I've learned about moisture, sealing, co-washing, detangling, essential oils, etc, etc, etc and in my excitement to learn about my hair in it's God-given state I have come to realize I expected EVERYONE to be as excited as I am.  Now my natural sisters and I have been gabbing quite a bit about what works, what doesn't, what to stay away from and what we plan to try next and they truly share my joy.  However, there are others in the world who don't necessarily share my level of enthusiasm.  Namely, my darling husband.
My hubby is a good guy, a patient guy, a supportive of my dreams and endeavors kind of guy.  However, he is still just that...a GUY.  He could care less about my oils, my products, my angst-ridden rants about hair length (or lack thereof) and truthfully, he really isn't gung-ho about my decision to become natural.  He loves me so he supports me but he's a "longhairdownyourbacktoyourbutt" kind of guy.  He also is trying to catch up with me regarding the love of all things "natural-hair" and sometimes he's a bit slow catching my enthusiastic fever.  We recently had quite a fight because he didn't like a flower I tried to rock in my hair and I internalized that to mean he didn't like my hair, which meant he didn't like the REAL me, which meant he didn't know me, which meant he couldn't appreciate my efforts and struggles, which surely meant he couldn't possible LOVE me!  Yes, I had a crazy woman moment and I'm not proud of it but I am learning from it.  I'm working on not being quite so sensitive to every remark/question/comment from my beau regarding my, or other women's hair.  He's actually been very involved in the process by trying to educate himself about natural hair, the different styles and the process of caring for natural hair.  I have since reminded myself I embarked on this journey for ME in order to regain the health of my hair, not for the approval of others.  Not everyone loves or appreciates my decision and that is fine by me, what's important is I'm learning to embrace my natural hair and am now quite comfortable with my decision and loving (mostly) every minute of it.
  • How to care for my daughter's natural hair
My lil diva was born with a head full of thick, jet black hair.  Caring for her hair had always been a daunting task; a task I was formerly ill-equipped to deal with.  Since I've been educating myself on the proper way to care for natural hair, my lil diva has certainly reaped the benefits.  Her thick, curly, mid-back length (when stretched) strands are no longer dry, crunchy and tangled but rather soft, moist, tangle-free and oh-so easy to manage.  I've learned how to properly wash and detangle her hair to avoid breakage and how to use protective styling to protect her ends and encourage healthy growth and length retention.  Since my journey began, she has certainly been a happier camper during our weekly wash and style sessions and I am excited to see her hair transform under my care. 

So since this journey began back in January, I've learned a lot and I know I've really only just scratched the surface.  I can't wait for my hair to also show progress as I continually learn how to care for it and to avoid the pitfalls that occur due to lack of patience or knowledge.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Honey and Olive Oil

So I've been noticing whenever I touch my hair, there seems to be hair left behind somewhere. When I co-wash...there's hair on the shower floor.  When I moisturize...there's hair on my hands and sink.  When I comb through it ever-so-gently with conditioner or sopping wet...there's hair in the comb.  So I wonder, what the heck is going on?

I also can't help but notice, my hair growth seems rather stunted.  Now mind you, to say my hair was extremely damaged when I first cut it all off in the first place would be a MAJOR understatement.  My tresses were so fried, so abused, so mis-used, I really thought it would not recover.  The bald patches were abundant and the ends just felt fragile, weak, crispy.  However, my hair IS recovering with not one bald patch in sight 5 months later.  In fact, it is now much thicker, smoother, softer and the ends no longer snap off like a dead tree branch caught in the wind.

Saying all that, I still feel like my hair growth is rather stunted.  Why?  Because it's been 5 months and at the longest hair (at my crown) is about 2 1/2 inches the rest of my hair fluctuates between less than an inch to 1.5 inches.  WTH????  So whenever I start freaking out about the fact that it's been 5 months and I can't even so much as put a headband on my head without looking ridiculous, I look at my pics of when I first cut everything off and realize I've come a ways but personally I think I should be further along.

Then I finally used my noggin and but 2 and 2 together.  Could it be all the hairs all over the place is acutally connected to my stunted hair growth?  Now, I know that we all shed hairs every day, however, the hairs I saw aren't shed hairs with the little white tip but rather pieces of hairs which indicates breakage.  A problem I'd been plagued with since my relaxer days.  So why is it, now that I'm natural is my hair still breaking?  Then if I really do have a breakage problem, that means I also have a length retention problem.  So what to do?  I thought back to the inital months after my big chop and realized I stopped doing something that really worked for my hair...the honey/olive oil prepoo!

The honey/olive oil prepoo is a recipe I found on the web while browsing for natural products which heal and strengthen hair.  The recipe and process is quite simple and the results for me was softer hair.  Honey is a humectant which means it attracts and retains moisture.  Olive oil has essential fatty acids which benefits the hair leaving it soft and manageable.  However, I had stopped doing this rather simple but clearly beneficial treatment for my hair.  The reason I stopped was because it was messy with oil dripping everywhere.  The constant "drip-drip" just got on my nerves but clearly my hair loved it and responded well to it because I didn't have any breakage issues back then.  In fact, my hair flourished!

So for the last 2 Saturdays, I have done this rather simple hair treatment and the results?  Signficantly LESS BREAKAGE!  I now have less hair on my shower floor, in my comb, on the sink, everywhere.  Just goes to show, I hadn't been listening to my hair.  So moving forward every Saturday morning shall be Honey/Olive Oil Saturday morning and hopefully my hair will respond with additional growth as well.  So here's my adjusted recipe:

Honey/Olive Oil recipe
1/3 cup EVOO
4.5 tbs of honey

Warm the mixture in the microwave, then apply to hair and scalp as a hot oil treatment.  Cover with shower cap.  I leave mine on for at least one hour.  Shampoo hair as usual.  Style.

Apparently I was using too much oil in my previous applications as I always had a runny mess which is why I quit doing it.  However, now I simply added more honey and there is a lot less dripping/staining.  I also kept the shower cap on while doing errands around the house.  This past Saturday I left it on for 1.5 hours as I lost track of time but my hair was absolutely fine.  Then again, my hair LOVES honey.    I noticed the reduction in breakage last week when I resumed this procedure and even less this week so far.  In fact, there was absolutely NO hair in my comb and five strands on the bathroom sink this morning, yes I counted the hairs on my sink this morning...please don't judge me.

If you haven't already tried this, give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I henna'ed...again

So yesterday I used some more Henna on my hair.  I had tried it a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it even though everyone can see the color in my hair except me.  Henna is a permanent color deposit meaning, it will leave color in your hair but will NOT lift the color in your hair; that means the change will be subtle unless you are completely gray or blonde. 

While waiting for my hair to grow more than 2 inches, I'm becoming a bit bored with it...that's just the way I am.  Once I get used to something, I crave the excitement of discovering something else.  Thus, I wanted to color my hair, of course that's an absurd idea since my hair is still recovering from the years of chemical abuse I subjected it to resulting in the need for a big chop in the first place.  So, I started researching Henna.  Body Art Quality Henna is 100% natural thereby making it the perfect choice for me as I needed something, anything new to try with my hair.  I spent a couple days doing a bit of research and placed an order for 1 box of henna online from  The order came within a few days and I tried it and liked it so much I decided to order a couple more boxes (each has 100g of product) and tried it again last night. 

The trick I've learned with Henna from my online research is making sure to deep condition after the Henna is washed out as it acts like a protein treatment and can be drying.  This will ensure your hair does not feel and look like straw, also I tweaked my recipe a bit for the second Henna application and the result was super-soft hair.  

Here is my Henna recipe (I only used 50g of Henna since I only have 2 inches of hair on a rather small head):

50g BAQ Henna
3/4 cup cooled green tea (you need an acidic liquid to aid in dye deposit; you can also use any acidic juice like lemon juice.  I also brewed 3 green tea bags)
Small squeeze of moisturizing conditioner
2 tbs of extra virgin coconut oil

I mixed the contents to the consistency of pudding, covered and left it overnight so the dye could release.

The next day I co-washed then just before I applied the Henna to my hair, I added 2 tbs of honey to the mixture.  I applied using gloves and covered my hair with saran wrap and a plastic cap for 4 hours.

To rinse I let the spray from my shower do the work and used an ultra moisturizing conditioner to wash out all traces of the Henna from hair (this can take up to 4 washes, more if your hair is longer than mine).  Once the water runs clear, then you MUST deep condition preferably with heat.  Here is what I used to deep condition:

Oyin Honey-Hemp Conditioner
2 tbs EVCO
1 1/2 tbs EVOO
1 teaspoon Avocado Oil

This mixture was applied to my hair and because I don't currently own a hood dryer, I wrapped my hair in sara wrap and covered with 3 plastic caps then drank a cup of hot tea to get the heat going.  I left this on for 45 minutes then rinsed.  My hair felt like a newborn baby's....S-O-F-T!!!

I've read Henna can make your hair stronger and thicker.  I'm all for thick,strong hair so I think I'll keep doing this until there's a reason to stop.  The color I get can only be seen outside or indoors under bright lights, I've gotten pretty good responses from my friends, family and even a few admirers on the public transportation to work.  I think Henna and I will be friends for a good long time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I think I figured it out!

So my last post talked about my search for moisture for my seemingly EVER-thirsty strands.  Well, I think I've figured out a moisture regimen that actually works for my hair.  I have been using Oyin Handmade products for a few months now, specifically their Honey Hemp Conditioner.  This conditioner is in a word, AWESOME!!  I love it and most importantly, my hair loves it.  The ingredients are all natural, the consistency is creamy and leaves my hair feeling oh-so-soft.  I've been using this to co-wash and one day while reading the list of ingredients to my sister I realized it can also be used as a leave-in.  I thought "hmmmm". 
I also use the Kinky-Curly Knot Today leave-in in my daughter's hair.  My daughter's hair is extremely thick and seems to swell when wet.  While her hair is not coarse, it tangles mercilessly leaving us with a painful detangling session with her asking me "mommy, why do you always hurt me?" while I'm detangling.  The Knot Today has been a life-saver on her weekly wash days as it has really great "slip" allowing the comb to literally glide through her hair.  I swear it has shaved a good 30 minutes off of my daughter's hair washing session.  One day I tried Knot Today in my own hair and thought it was okay but after my hair dried, my hair felt a little stiff so I figured I'd leave it alone or use it with a creamy moisturizer whenever I found one that did the trick.
Last week I decided to combine the two after my shower and it worked so well, I've been doing it every day.  So here's my new daily regimen:

*co-wash with Honey-Hemp conditioner
*while hair is damp add small amount of  Knot Today
*add small amount of Honey-Hemp as a leave-in
*seal with organic coconut oil

My hair is unbeliveably soft and remains that way even after it dries!! Holy cow!  I've finally found a way to keep my hair moisturized!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Moisture-free zone!

Okay, now that I'm no longer covered up under hair that is not mine, I've realized my own strands are thirsty!  My regime is fairly simple in the morning:

*co-wash with a moisturizing conditioner
*apply some sort of leave-in
*apply some sort of moisturizing agent
*seal it with a bit of oil

Then it's off to work I go.  My total time for shower, hair and face is now about 30 minutes, the other 30 minutes is spent in my closet trying to figure out what on earth to wear that day.  My issue is dryness during my work day.  What should I do?  I have had several recommendations to take a small spritz bottle to work with me and spritz my hair a couple times at the office....I haven't gotten around to doing that yet.  I have a couple spritz bottles at home but never think to take them to the office.

I have a natural girlfriend who swears by glycerin/water mix.  I tried the glycerin route once but it didn't really work for me.  Then again, it was winter time when I tried it and have since found out when it's cold and dry outside is not the best time to use a humectant.  Since it feels a whole lot like summer outside lately, perhaps I'll try the glycerin mix again.  I think I'll whip me up a batch today and see if I like the results.