Friday, December 30, 2011

Banding: My New Fave Stretching Technique?

The hair ties come in a variety of colors. I love how bright and
cheerful they are :)
Two nights ago I banded my hair for the first time. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, banding is when you secure several hair ties down each section of your hair to stretch it out while it dries. I read up on banding at a favorite and trusted source, Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care. There I learned about the process and that Goody hair ties are safe to use because they're soft so they don't break your hair. Up until this point I hadn't found a stretching method that I liked, but I think this might be the one for me. :) 
I twisted the ends of all the sections except for the two in the front, which I braided, to help protect my ends. Also, I made 8 sections instead of the 6 that I usually detangle and wash it in because I discovered that the thickest section of my hair (the crown and sides of the crown) is easiest to keep detangled and manage when it's divided into smaller sections. The funny thing is that for months I avoided sectioning it further because I thought it would be more work, when actually the opposite is true. Turns out it is much less time consuming (and frustrating) to make more sections. I love my silly little discoveries :P
The next morning. I bobby-pinned each section to the opposite side
of my head to keep it stretched. Then I wrapped my head with my
satin scarf as usual.

How do you prefer to stretch your hair?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wool + Hair = DISASTER!!

The past few times I've gone to finger detangle my twisted out hair, I've noticed that the very back of my hair has become incredibly tangled and knotted, which I am not used to. I've rarely had a problem with knots, but recently I had to cut out two in the back (yeah, I know, I was sooo unhappy about it). 
My hair tonight after I detangled & moisturized it again. 

Then tonight when I saw this area tangled up again I thought, something has changed...what could be causing this? Then it hit me. The collar of my wool coat rubs right up against the hair at the nape of my neck and......wool + hair = DISASTER!! Talk about tangle city. Grr. But in every adversity there lies the seed of opportunity. These past few knots have allowed me to learn how to remove knots from my hair carefully and successfully. Here is what I do:

  • Wet the hair Hair regains more of its elastic properties when wet, which allows it to stretch more, giving me more "room for error" while I gently untangle the knot. (A word of caution, though: hair is in its weakest state when wet, so exercise great care when detangling wet hair.) I use a spray bottle and lightly mist the hair by small sections, focusing my spray bottle on the knot so it's almost soaked.
  • Add slip I figured that if I add my shea butter blend (which is rich in natural oils - thank you, Naptural85!) to the knot and the hair that surrounds it, rubbing it down the strands and into the knot, then this will provide more slip, enabling me to cause less damage while gently removing the knot. It helps me a lot. Use any moisturizing product you prefer.
  • Avoid a comb or brush! I found this out the hard way. The first knot I came across I only made worse by using my wide-toothed comb. It got so bad I had to cut it out. Take it from me, when it comes to removing knots, use your fingers.
  • Be patient Safely removing a knot takes time and patience, so if you're going to be rushed, try to put it off until you have ample time to devote to the process. 

So what's my long-term solution to this wool coat challenge? I think I'm going to have to start wearing a silk scarf as a buffer between my hair and the coat. Fortunately my brother and his lovely girlfriend gave me one for Christmas. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sulfate-Free Shampoos...What's All the Hype?

It seems like "sulfate-free" is everywhere nowadays. Just walk down the shampoo aisle and you see it plastered all over products left and right. When I first started to get to know my hair back in April, I didn't understand this. I did not have a background in chemistry and I didn't plan on getting one. Yes, I loved my hair, but did I really need to get a degree to understand what it needs/wants? I didn't believe so.
So I searched online and came across Terri LaFlesh, the author of Curly Like Me, has so generously put together this very informative site which includes an Ingredients Dictionary. Cha-ching! I spent an hour and ran down the ingredients lists of my products, comparing them to what Terri had researched and compiled into her online dictionary. After learning more about sulfates (among other ingredients) I understood why it's important for me to use a sulfate-free shampoo: sulfates are detergents that create suds when combined with water. Due to their drying effect, they tend to strip our naturally curly hair of its oils, making it dry and brittle. At least that's how I know my hair feels after using a sulfate shampoo. When I do use shampoo (I usually co-wash) I'll use a sulfate-free one. I've experienced much better results from my sulfate-free shampoo.

There are some benefits to using a sulfate shampoo, such as when your hair is really dirty. For example, the ONLY time I'll use a sulfate shampoo now is when I wash my hair after having worn it straight. Since my hair is loaded down with silicones from the heat protectant, the sulfates effectively remove the product so there's no build-up. Of course I follow-up with either my favorite moisturizing conditioner or a deep moisture treatment to replace the lost moisture.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

First "Real" Protein Treatment

Today I did my first "real" protein treatment. By "real" I mean I bought it from Sally's. Since starting my growth challenge in April, I've only done homemade protein treatments, with little to no results. This time I did an ApHogee one and could really feel the difference. When I was rinsing the protein portion out and putting in the moisture pack, my hair felt stronger and more resilient. Wonderful!

About 2 weeks prior. My hair had lots of
sheen & moisture but needed more structure
and strength. Protein treatment to the rescue!
So with all the hype about maintaining the proper moisture-protein balance, what made me decide to do a protein treatment? Since straightening my hair in late November I'd started to notice little broken hairs during my wash regimen. I don't believe this was a result of the heat, since I used very low temperatures and a heat protectant. But since I hadn't had a good protein treatment, I believe my hair had become weak in certain areas. Also, now that winter is here I knew this meant that my hair would need extra strengthening against the weather. My weekly deep conditioner treatments were good but as we all know, the key to growing strong, healthy hair is to maintain the proper moisture-protein balance for your hair.

The two-step protein treatment was a bit time consuming but the results were worth it. When I twisted my hair I noticed that my ends were rough in a few areas, but maybe I didn't coat them thoroughly with the moisture pack. Since there wasn't a lot of product in the moisture pack, I ended up applying my favorite moisturizing conditioner afterwards for an extra moisture hair felt really good after that! :)

If you're noticing breakage and/or your hair feels brittle, you may want to consider a protein treatment. I shied away from them initially because I thought they would make my hair hard. But that was before I learned that you always follow-up protein treatments with a moisturizing conditioner. 

My next protein treatment? I don't know when that's going to be. I'm going to continue listening to my hair and giving it what it needs when it needs it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Growth or Broken Hair?

The last time I twisted my hair I noticed something different that kind of bothered me. There were all these short strands of hair, about 2 inches or less throughout my head, and they made my twists look really fuzzy at the roots, instead of neat and clean the way I was used to. Since my goal is to retain length, naturally I was concerned that I'd incurred damage during my straightening process. Were these damaged hairs or new growth? I had to find out! After doing some research, I learned that these are the characteristics of new hairs:

  • Softer These short, fuzzy "halo" or hairs were all soft, like the baby hairs along my hairline. This is a distinguishing feature of new hairs growth. My short hairs were soft.
  • Tapered ends New hairs have tapered ends, while broken hairs have blunt ends. The ends of these hairs I was finding were tapered, not blunt.
  • Source
  • Quantity I noticed that these hairs weren't random but appeared all over my head. Since I've only used heat once in the past 7 months and I otherwise wear my hair in protective or heat-free styles, then I doubted these short hairs could all be damaged strands.
Since the short hairs on my head had all of these characteristics, I was so happy to conclude that they were indeed new growth, not damaged hair. YAY! I also read an article where CurlyNikki shared how she experienced something similar and that this meant her hair was growing in thicker. I'm not sure I need my hair to be any thicker, but if thicker means healthier for me, then I am A-OK with that! :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interesting Phenomenon...

I've been thinking about this lately: what is it about human beings that we always want what we don't have?
Before I straightened my hair two weeks ago, I could not WAIT to wear my hair straight. Admittedly, I'd delayed myself the gratification of straightening it for 7 months, so it'd been a long time comin'. But then something interesting happened. My hair hadn't been straight for but a few days when I began to miss my curly hair and twists. I'd see women wearing their hair natural and think: Gosh, when my hair was curly I could easily strike up a conversation with other natural ladies, knowing that we would have something in common to talk about. But with my hair straight, I feel like they don't give me a second glance...I feel like I have a relaxer again....Now that my hair is curly and twisted again, I'm so happy to have my hair "back," but at the same time I still miss my hair being straight. Am I alone in this? What is it about women and our hair? Is it just me or do we always want the best of both worlds, AT ONCE??

I don't believe this phenomenon is unique to the natural hair community, or to myself for that matter....

What do YOU think??

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter Twisting Regimen

I gave my hair extra "insulation" from the cold this twisting session. Here's what I did after co-washing and finger detangling. Taking my hair by sections, I...

1. Spritzed with water then smoothed a lot of coconut oil through my strands, focusing it on my ends.* 

2. Applied Kimmaytube leave-in, re-spritzing my ends with water if they got a bit dry/frizzy.

3. Applied Shea Moisture CE Smoothie, again, focusing on my ends.

4. After I finished twisting all my hair, I put a nickel-sized amount of my Vitamin oil blend in my hands, rubbed them together, then grabbed sections of twists and smoothed the oils from about mid-strand down to my ends, sealing all that yummy moisture into my thirsty strands.*

I've been finger detangling much more lately and I have to say that it's not as bad as I previously thought. I actually like it a lot. I did some light combing and brushing with my Denman while moisturizing, but for the most part my hair was already pretty well detangled.

*These were steps that are new to my twisting regimen. I love how my hair feels afterwards - sooo soft, shiny and healthy - so I think I may adopt this as my winter wet-twisting regimen (this will be my first winter wearing my hair curly, so everything is improv and experimental!). I'm really excited about getting to master me and my daughter's hair. When I do, I'm gonna shout it from the rooftops because Lord knows I've been wanting to master my hair and now her hair, too for a looooong time! LOL!

Twists are Back!

Ok so I couldn't help myself - I HAD to have my twists back!! After almost a week of a failed stretching experience, I could not WAIT to see the soft, shiny twists that I'd fallen in love with!
We had our family Christmas portraits taken today by my AH-mazing photographer, Rhian, of {foralways}photography! I opted for a quick, fun updo for the occasion. I'm describing it as "fun" because I let the ends "pop" out at the top of my head, instead of tucking them in for a more sleek, elegant look. First I pulled my hair into a ponytail with a nylon ponytail holder. Then I held the twists in place with my trusty Goody barrette (LOVE those things!!). I was planning to tuck my ends in with bobby pins, but then loved how my twists looked "popping" out from the top of my head. :)
I think next time I'll just twist it up instead of
using the ponytail holder. But I liked the style anyway :)
I'd put some flexirods in the front twists to curl them, but
forgot to untuck the twists from behind my ears for the pic :(
But they were cute and a lil curly though :)
Happy twisting!!!

What's your go-to protective style that you just can't live without?? What's your winter regimen?

Friday, December 2, 2011


I had a revelation of sorts about my hair last night. I've been attempting to stretch it out (without heat, of course) this week. For a day-and-a-half I wore it in a bun (see my "Donut" Bun Step-by-Step post), and loved the ease of just donning my satin scarf at night, taking it off in the morning and going. However, when I took my hair out of the bun last night to moisturize and finger detangle it, I didn't like how it looked. It was clumpy and I had quite a time sectioning it for detangling. This was my first time dry detangling it with my fingers. I normally prefer to set my hair in two-strand twists after my weekly wash regimen, so I've always detangled it when wet and loaded with olive oil or conditioner. 
There's some sheen, but not the shine that
I'm used to with my twists.
Well, I finger detangled and moisturized with a hair butter. Then my wonderful Hubby massaged my Vitamin E oil blend into my scalp all over (it's been a bit itchy, especially at my nape, I guess from being tied up in the bun). The massage felt soooo good and I could tell my scalp was happy. Then I "pineappled" it for the night with my trusty nylon ponytail holder, thinking I'd wake up with soft, easy-to-style hair. NOT SO. GRR. My hair was just the opposite - stiff and kind of hard. So stiff, in fact, that I had a hard time pulling it back into a ponytail to bun it again (I literally didn't know what to do with it).

So this brings me to the topic of frizziness. I know - the big bad 'F word' shunned by many naturally curly gals, including myself. Aside from the fact that I just don't like my hair being frizzy, I'd also read that frizziness was a result of poorly moisturized hair, so I really didn't like my hair in this state. But there have been many times that my hair has been frizzy after I'd moisturized and sealed it. What was up with that? 

Then last night it hit me. My hair was plenty moisturized but it still lacked shine (there was sheen in some spots, but definitely not the shine I'm used to from my twists/twist-outs). I noticed that my strands were separated and not clumped together and defined. {Lightbulb!} My hair can be chock FULL of moisture, but if my extremely curly strands aren't encouraged to cling to one another when they're wet, then the result when they dry is a head full of lackluster, "frizzy" hair!
After taking my hair out of the bun.

Freshly re-moisturized & pineappled for the night.

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