Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How to Trim Your Curly Hair

I recently gave my 3 year old daughter her first trim. Naturally I didn't use a blow dryer on her delicate baby hair, so this is how I did it.

1. Freshly Washed I began with freshly washed hair. Her hair was already in twists before I washed it so I kept the twists in for the entire washing process. This made the detangling process much easier and less time-consuming. I used SheaMoisture's Moisture Retention Shampoo (diluted with water in an applicator bottle). I conditioned with Tresemme Naturals moisturizing conditioner.

After washing and conditioning
2. Moisturized, Sealed & Twisted After rinsing out the conditioner, I took one twist at a time and did the following: applied Alikay Naturals Knots Be Gone as a leave-in conditioner and finger detangled; smoothed Alikay Naturals Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer over the hair; topped with SheaMoisture's Finishing Elixir. After applying the products I re-twisted each twist.

3. The Trim After moisturizing, sealing and re-twisting each twist, I stretched out the twist and, taking my trimming shears, snipped a little off the ends (around a quarter of an inch in most places).

Her twists coiled nicely at the ends after her trim
And voilĂ ! That was it. Easy, right? Yup! 

What about trimming your hair evenly? No worries. When you wear your hair curly most of the time, you don't have to worry about your hair being even because curly hair is beautiful like that; it easily conceals any slight unevenness. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to Know When It's Time for a Trim

Split ends. We know they're bad. But how do we know when it's time for a trim? Read on to find out when it's time to reach for the trimming shears.
Split ends have many forms. But no matter how they look, they've gotta go!
When split ends are allowed to linger they can rub up against neighboring strands and cause tangling and knotting, which can lead to more splitting. And the split end itself can destroy the rest of the strand if it isn't addressed. That is why it's important to get trims. But I'm not an advocate of trimming hair every 6 weeks, which is the time frame that is recommended by many professional hair stylists, and here's why. 

Everyone's hair is different because 1) we're all uniquely made so no two heads are alike, and 2) we all have our own maintenance and styling preferences. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when it comes to establishing a trimming routine.
After blow drying my hair last month, before
flat ironing and trimming. Notice how fuzzy
my ends looked. It was definitely time for a trim!
What should you do if you find a split end? A split end here or there is not the end of the world. If I have time I'll grab my trimming shears (never use regular scissors) and snip it off. But really, who has time to sit around and stare at their ends? I'm sure you don't, and neither do I. So how do you know when it's time for a trim? Here's a good rule of thumb:

     You need a trim when your hair no longer holds styles well.        

When you twist your hair you'll notice that the ends won't wrap around each other neatly. When you wear your hair straight, the ends will look and feel rough, your hair won't move fluidly, and it will feel stiff. When you flat iron your hair, the ends will need more than one pass - a definite sign that they're due for a date with your shears. 
What about those products that claim to "repair split ends"? The sad truth is, once a hair is split, there's no way to repair it. Products that make those claims may make your hair feel softer and smoother by temporarily coating the split ends. But the only way to "fix" a split end is by cutting it off

Check back soon for my next post: How to Trim Your Curly Hair

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Product Review: Alikay Naturals Knots Be Gone Detangler

Super excited about the products Alikay Natural sent me to review!! Find out what I think about their Knots Be Gone Detangler:

Note: I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Can't Escape Him

This whole thing is His.

I got tired of running. I got tired of acting like I was in control of my life. Now I know without a doubt that there is a calling on this life that I call "mine."

When there is a calling on your life I believe that God will stop at nothing until you surrender to Him. "Surrender" sounds like such a bad word. But really, it's the beginning of the most beautiful, intimate love relationship that you'll ever have: a relationship with your Heavenly Father.

I was recently asked about my faith in Jesus Christ. With so much conflicting information out there about the validity, authenticity and authority of Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible, how can I still have faith that Jesus is the Son of God? Why do I believe? At the time I couldn't articulate my answer because I hadn't given it much thought before then. But now that I've had time to reflect, I know why. I am not going to attempt to defend the Bible; I am not versed in apologetics. All I can say is what I know, and what I know is this:

I can't escape Him.

When I reflect on my life, there have been countless times when I could have gone off the rails, but a Force greater than myself prevented me from self-destructing. "Yeah, well how do you know that isn't just God? Why Jesus?" Because I am so imperfect, so flawed, so unworthy...a holy God would not be able to have a relationship with me because my innately sinful nature blocks me from Him. But Jesus...now, He walks with me...He cleanses me...He purifies me before the Father, because He's been here before! Even when I am weak - especially then - He carries me. He is the bread of life. He sustains me. I am nothing without Him.

You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. ~Psalms 139:5

I can't escape Him.

Even when I was going through that rebellious teenage phase, there was always something (now I know it was Someone) who would not let me go too far. "Yeah but that's just your conscience, right?" What one person calls conscience or coincidence, I call Jesus. Because you see, all those times when I almost stepped off the cliff but Something wouldn't let me...all those times when the thing that I'd been praying about was answered by a stranger's "random" comment, or by a sign in the street, or by a few words in a book that I only picked up because "something" inside me urged me to...all those times when my heart cried out, "God, where are you?" and then a friend, family member, or even a complete stranger would reach out to me in love and say the exact words that my heart needed so it could heal, so it could rest....None of that happened by accident but because my Lord and Savior is after my heart and wants a love relationship with me so badly that even though He doesn't have to, He'll do anything to prove His love for me...even die on a cross.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners... ~Isaiah 61:1

I can't escape Him.

Even when my circumstances make me want to believe that God has abandoned me, that He doesn't really love me or care about me...it doesn't matter what I do or where I go, Jesus still patiently pursues me. I could turn on a song in an effort to drown out my pain, and I'll feel His heart for me within the intricate melodies and harmonies of the music. I could go for a run to clear my head, and through the aching I'll feel His unending mercy fall fresh upon me, so that instead of wishing that the physical pain would go away, I welcome it because I know He'll sustain me through it. I could weep tears of bitterness and frustration and feel crushed beneath the weight of hopelessness, and He'll come down beside me in that valley and stay there with me until I trust Him enough to take His hand, rise and keep following Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

In a nutshell, it's when I stopped trying to run from Jesus that my life finally began to make sense. When I stopped trying to make my own path and turned to follow Him, that's when everything fell into place. Now, I'm not saying that suddenly my life became easy and I didn't face any struggles. Au contraire. But since I decided to follow Jesus, I have discovered a peace that He reserves for those who believe and trust in Him. The less I rely on my own reasoning and thought process, the more room I give Him to move in my life, and the more freedom I experience. When I stop trying to fight my battles of loneliness, sadness, frustration, anger, fear, and hurt, and let Him into my heart so He can fight those battles for me, then I can experience the healing and peace that only Jesus can offer.

There is no life, no fulfillment to be found in living for oneself. It is only in the continuous process of letting go, in the constant relinquishing of living life my way and choosing to live His way that I can find and experience true freedom and live life as He intended.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. ~Luke 18:33

As I sat down to write this, I didn't know why I was doing it. I didn't even know what I was going to say. I just opened up the laptop and began typing. As I typed things were revealed to me and I was given revelation (a clearer understanding from the Holy Spirit) of scriptures that I'd read many times before but never understood until now.

I can't escape Him.

You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. ~Matthew 7:13-14

If while reading this you've felt a gentle but persistent tugging at your heart, then that's Jesus waiting at the door and He wants to come in. He wants to give you life. Let Him.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Length Check & Trim

It's that time of year again! Time to whip out the blow dryer and flat iron for my six-month length check and trim. But something strange happened this time...

I wasn't excited.

Weird, right? Usually I can hardly wait. I'll plan for it ahead of time and check the weather forecast for rain. But some reason last Friday I found myself impulsively blowing out and flat ironing my hair out of obligation rather than joyful anticipation. It could have something to do with the fact that I'd returned that wonderful-but-oh-so-expensive Sedu Revolution flat iron that I'd purchased and used for my May blow out, so I had to resort to using my old flat iron, which is in terrible condition. But honestly, I think it's because I've grown to prefer how I look with my kinks and curls. 
It's important to deep condition before
applying heat to your hair!

However, I was glad to have my hair straight so I could get it trimmed. It was in desperate need of one. My hair had surpassed waist length, but my ends were knotty, frizzy and looked just plain awful. It looked like my ends had been stuck into an electrical outlet! So serious. It was driving me crazy.

My Mom wasn't available to trim it for me and I had to run errands that afternoon. So guess who stepped up to the plate? My awesome Hubby!!! That's right, ladies! I gave him directions, handed him the sheers and he proceeded to do an AH-MAHZING job!! In fact I went to see my Mom two days later so she could clean it up for me and make sure he'd got it all, and she said he'd done a great job! Love my Hubby :) He's the best!

Since my last blow out in May, I'd set a goal of growing out my layers so that the majority of my hair would be waist length, not just my fastest-growing areas, resulting in a fuller look. Well, my plan is working! The picture on the left was of my first blow out in 2011, the year I did my grow out challenge. As you can see, my longest point was about bra strap length, which is where the crown of my hair is now, as pictured on the right. 
What a difference two years makes!
Length of my crown (@BSL) is as long as my longest point two years ago!
Left: November 2011
Right: December 2013
Product Update

Alikay Naturals, founded by popular YouTuber BlackOnyx77 (Rochelle Campbell), sent me a couple of their products to review (my official review will be up on my YouTube Channel soon - stay tuned!), so I decided to put their Knots Be Gone Hair Detangler to the test. The directions say it can be left in, so I used it as my leave-in conditioner. Let me tell you, when I say my hair was SOFT...that is an UNDERSTATEMENT!!! I'm talkin' BUTTERY soft...like I-can't-keep-my-hands-out-of-my-HAIR, soft!! Yeah...more on that later! 
I applied Knots Be Gone to each section and detangled first with my fingers then with a wide-toothed comb. Then I set my hair in chunky twists until I was ready to blow dry. See the soft sheen of my twists?
I attribute the sheen to the aloe vera juice in the Knots Be Gone. AVJ is close to the pH of our hair, so it closes the cuticles. And what happens when your cuticles are laying flat (or "sealed")? Your hair looks shiny! :)
Next I took down each twist and applied a dime-size amount of heat protectant to each section before blow drying. This heat protectant is super heavy, so less is definitely more. I twisted each section after I'd blown it dry. I've never seen my hair blown out and twisted, and I've gotta say, I was really feelin' it!

See how rough my ends were? Yeah..... :/

All done flat ironing! Can you tell I wasn't thrilled? LOL!
I was much happier after my dear Hubby gave me my initial trim:
If there's one thing I've learned about this straightening process, it's that I need to do it more often. When I was doing my grow out challenge two years ago, I was mostly wearing my hair in two-strand twists. This kept my ends protected and well moisturized, so getting trims every six months (with search-and-destroy trims in between) was enough. But now that I wear my hair out all the time instead of in protective styles, my ends are constantly vulnerable and exposed to the elements and they rub up against my clothes, chairs, sofas, jackets, etc. daily. Since I have neither the time nor the patience to do search-and-destroy trims right now, I need to straighten and trim my hair more often. I'm going to start with every three months and see how my hair does with that. That is why it's called a "natural hair journey" - I'm always learning and I love it!

How often do you blow out and trim your hair?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Natural Hair on a Budget

Let's face it. There are a ton of products out there for natural hair, and if you're not careful you could easily drop a bunch of money on them. But do you really need a big wallet to wear your hair natural? Absolutely not! I used to be overwhelmed by all the products for natural and curly hair out there, until I realized I don't need a ton of products - or expensive ones - to keep my hair healthy and stylin'. Here are some tricks that I've used over the past couple years to stretch my products and my wallet. 
Dilute If you do like to use shampoo, I'd recommend a sulfate-free one. I prefer SheaMoisture's Moisture Retention Shampoo. It gives you lots of lather without the sulfates and really gets the job done without stripping your hair of moisture. Whatever shampoo you choose, you can make it stretch by diluting about a tablespoon of shampoo with lukewarm water in an applicator bottle. Shake well and apply to your hair. Rinse and follow up with your favorite conditioner. You'll use way less shampoo while still getting your hair clean. Can't splurge on a sulfate-free shampoo right now? No worries. Take whatever shampoo you have on hand, follow the same steps above and just add a little oil on top (I like grapeseed, but use whatever you have). 

Less is more I discovered this trick thanks to my thick, dense curls. (In other words, I've got a LOT of kinks, coils and curls!) The only way I can effectively distribute products through my hair is by separating it into smaller sections and smoothing the products down from root to tip. When applying products this way, I've found that I need a whole lot less product for each section. So I get the look I want without going through half my stash in one styling session. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Mix it up This is a great trick to use for your deep conditioner. Take your deep conditioner (or any moisturizing conditioner) of choice and put about 2-3 tablespoons in a small mixing bowl. Add 2-3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and about 1 teaspoon of castor oil. Mix ingredients together and apply to your hair using the method described above. The natural oils will be extra conditioning for your hair while also stretching your favorite conditioner. Check out my video on how I deep condition.  

Water is your friend You've probably heard it before, but let me reiterate: water is the best moisturizer! And it's the least expensive "product" you can get. Keep moisture levels high by spritzing your hair with water daily and sealing with an oil. If your hair is tightly coiled and dries out easily, then you may benefit from sealing with a heavier oil such as extra virgin olive oil. Have a looser curl pattern? Jojoba, apricot or another light oil will seal the deal. 

How do you stretch your wallet 
when it comes to natural hair care?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

5 Tips for Protecting Your Hair This Winter

If the winter season brings cold weather where you live, then you'll want to prepare to give your hair a little extra TLC. Here are 5 steps to help you keep your strands healthy and growing through the winter months.

Deep Condition I'm not the best at this step, but it's important. You know how in the summer months you can get away with using a thin lotion to keep your skin moisturized and in the winter you need to switch over to a heavier, creamier moisturizer so your skin doesn't dry out? Well much like your skin moisturizer, deep conditioning gives your hair the extra boost of moisture that it needs. Let's face it - with the harsh, cold air, the winter months can wreak havoc on our curls, kinks and coils, making them dry and brittle. And what does dry, brittle hair lead to? Tangles and breakage. No thank you! Overwhelmed by all the products out there and not sure where to start? Check out my video on my easy, inexpensive deep conditioner. Also, if your hair has permanent color in it, then deep conditioning isn't optional for you at any time of the year - it's always a must.
Puuddy's tightly coiled hair

Moisturizer There's no way around it - having a good quality moisturizer in your product arsenal is imperative to the health of your hair. Now, the type of moisturizer will largely depend on your curl pattern. Moisturizers come in a range of formulas, because no two curl patterns are alike. The tighter the curls, the more difficult it is for the natural moisturizer our scalps make - sebum - to make its way down our strands. This type of curl pattern will benefit from a heavier, creamier moisturizer (I like SheaMoisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie - beware: a little goes a loooong way). The looser the curls, the easier it is for sebum to moisturize the whole strand of hair, so this curl pattern only needs a light moisturizer, maybe one that comes in spray form. 

Seal Sealing is a step that is really important, especially for those of us with tighter, kinkier curls and coils. There are two ways you can seal: 1) with pH, and 2) with oils or butters. Back when I was setting my hair in a bijillion two-strand twists, I'd seal using the famous "Kimmaytube leave-in conditioner" (note that the original recipe calls for 2 tbsp of aloe vera leaf juice, not green tea). This conditioner acts as a sealant due to the pH of aloe vera leaf juice, one of its main ingredients. This juice is all natural and has a pH that is very close to the natural pH of the scalp and hair - between 4.5 and 5.5. Without getting too deep (let's face it, chemistry wasn't my best subject anyway) when a product falling into that pH range touches our hair, it closes the cuticles of the hair strand, locking in moisture and protecting the strand from tangling and mechanical (comb/brush) damage. So if you think about it, when you apply the Kimmaytube conditioner to your wet hair, you're sealing in the moisture from the water. The result? Soft, shiny, healthy and moisturized hair! The second way to seal is to use oil. Your curl pattern, moisture needs and personal preferences will dictate whether you use a light or heavy oil. My coils are looser than my oldest daughter's coils, so I can get away with using a lighter oil - such as jojoba - to seal. But her hair requires a heavier oil - such as extra virgin olive oil - to effectively lock in moisture, soften her hair and keep it tangle-free.
My curls in the front and back are
loose and wavy
Puuddy's hair with the yarn twist
extensions I installed this summer
Protective Styling This is a term that is talked about a lot in the natural hair community, but what does it actually mean? Protective styling is any style that requires as little manipulation as possible. Less manipulation = less opportunity to damage your strands. In my mind there are two categories of protective styles: with and without the addition of faux/human hair or yarn. But whether you're setting your hair in mini twists or Senegalese twists, you STILL need to SHAMPOO and MOISTURIZE regularly, especially if you're keeping the style in for weeks at a time. Protective styling doesn't mean set-it-and-forget-it. This is really important if you've added hair or yarn to your hair. If you don't keep your hair and scalp clean then lint and dirt will cause build-up that you'll be removing for DAYS maybe even WEEKS after you've taken down the style. Plus, dirt and product build-up on your scalp hinders growth. And if you don't moisturize, then the faux/human hair and yarn will draw all the moisture out of your hair, which can lead to breakage. 

Puuddy's hat that I lined two
winters ago

Lined Hats Lastly, if you're going to wear a hat then make sure it is lined with satin or a satin-like material such as a polyester blend. If your hat isn't lined then I wouldn't wear it at all. Seriously. You can find vendors on Etsy that sell handmade, good quality lined hats (if you need a hat for your baby then I'd recommend this Etsy shop). But it doesn't stop at hats. One winter I learned a hard lesson when I discovered that my wool coat and scarf were causing terrible tangles and matting at the nape of my neck. But should we really freeze for the sake of preserving a few strands? No worries - you don't have to choose. Here's what I do: I still wear my wool coat BUT I make sure I wear a silk/polyester scarf so that it acts as a buffer between my hair and coat. VoilĂ ! You get to stay warm and protect your strands!

Work these tips into your regimen and wardrobe and you'll enjoy healthy, moisturized strands this winter!

~ How do you keep your hair healthy in the wintertime? ~

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feeling God's Pleasure

"Amazing" doesn't even capture how INCREDIBLE that first run was for me. Everything felt so familiar...like stepping into an old pair of sneakers. I got the usual butterflies as I put on my layers and stretched. I could hardly wait to feel my feet hitting the pavement again...but I was a bit nervous too. Good nervous, though. Excited nervous. It had been months since my last run...since January 20, 2013 (had to check my app 'cause it had been so long that I couldn't remember!). If you are a runner then you know how much of a mind game it is. I was mentally prepared for the worse: sore muscles, side stitches, gassin' out early and wanting to walk. But much to my surprise, this turned out to be one of my easiest runs - both mentally and physically. 
I started off power walking (at my hubby's insistence - he's a personal trainer and lifelong athlete so I value his opinion ;)) but soon found myself running. With Kim Walker-Smith's "Spirit Break Out" blasting in my ears on repeat (great song, check it out), I was probably running at a snail's pace, but in my spirit I was FLYING. It felt like sliding behind the wheel of my car and stepping on the gas...my body responded the same as before and knew exactly what to do. 

I've never seen the movie, but I've heard that in Chariots of Fire there's a line that goes something like, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure." Oh, how true is that for me! Running has become a form of worship for me. Even when it's tough, when it hurts and everything in my mind is screaming at my body to stop...my heart is SOARING, caught up in worshiping my God, my Lord, my Savior...my everything.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Natural Isn't Natural?

There seems to be this sentiment within the natural hair community that being natural is the only way to be; that having relaxed hair is categorically unnatural and, well...wrong. I can admit that I used to feel that way. But is it really natural to be natural? I'd venture to say no, it isn't natural. Not for everyone. Sure, we're all born that way. But that doesn't mean that it comes naturally to all (no pun intended). 

I think most of us will admit that in our relaxer days we were sold out to relaxers. Before I went natural you would've had to pry my relaxer from my cold, dead fingers. Not kidding. I was hooked. Even after I'd completely transitioned I still wondered if I'd done the right thing; if being natural was really for me. After all, I straightened the mess outta my hair anyway so what was the difference? All I wanted was straight hair that was easy to manage and moved like our white sisters' hair. 

And therein lay the problem...my mindset. I was under the impression that my natural hair wasn't beautiful but rather needed to be tamed and controlled (straight) to be acceptable. It didn't help that I had no idea how to take care of it either. I'd say the same goes for those of us who haven't made the switch to natural. It's all in a person's mindset and their perception of natural hair. A lot of that is rooted in society's definition of beauty and a person's past experiences.

So before we give the next relaxed sister we see the side eye, let's be mindful that being natural isn't for everyone - and that's okay. At the risk of sounding corny (whoa, hello 1995) our differences are what make us beautiful.

For His Glory,

Lauren <3

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Green with Envy

[From this past Saturday]

Early Saturday morning...before the traffic, before the stores are packed...this is my favorite time of the week because it's when I get what every mother needs but rarely ever takes... 

Mommy Time!

I rise early before my family is up, make my coffee, grab a bagel and head out to the grocery store. Yes, I know it may seem extremely lame to some that I'm excited to go grocery shopping. But this is my "me" time; my time to get alone with the Lord, pray and worship Him. Sometimes I can hardly wait for that moment when I get in the car, plug in my phone and listen to the song that's playing in my heart. Other times I feel God calling me to be quiet and still before Him. And naturally there are times when I go before the throne of grace with the things that are burdening my heart. By the time I get to the store I'm already feeling more refreshed, light-hearted and joyful. The cashiers are almost always in a good mood too. 

The young woman at the register today immediately caught my attention. She had this cute little fro with a couple of twists in the front. As she started scanning my items she looked at my hair and asked if I'd done a braid-out. I explained how I'd set it in chunky twists because it's the closest I can get to wearing my natural curl pattern (I'd done my pseudo wash n' go). She commented that she liked my hair and quickly lamented that she wished hers would be less frizzy and more defined (my curls happened to be more defined today). I encouraged her as best I could to stick with it and embrace her hair, but I felt like I fell short. There were so many things waiting on the tip of my heart to share with her. But most of all I wanted to say...

Your hair is beautiful just the way it is.

I feel that so many more naturals would be able to love their hair (and therefore a part of themselves) if they could see the beauty in their curls and kinks instead of longing for someone else's. I used to fall victim to this mentality so I know how challenging it is to overcome. But if we're always envious of other naturals then we'll never be able to fully appreciate and love how God made our own natural hair. 

And that goes way beyond natural hair. I will admit that I am guilty of envying others' possessions; it's been one of my greatest struggles lately. Envy is one of those seemingly harmless but very dangerous emotions because it is an absolute joy stealer: it sucks the life and joy right out of you, leaving you bitter, empty and ungrateful for what you do have. 

Let's anchor our souls in verses like this:

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. ~Proverbs 14:30

Rots. The. Bones.....Yikes! I don't like the sound of that, and I'm sure you don't either. So when we find ourselves stumbling over the trap of envy, let's keep this in mind:

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. 
~Galatians 5:25-26

Whether it's someone else's curls or the next person's car, when we find ourselves feeling envious we need to remember that envy blocks us from fully appreciating what God has blessed us with and most of all, from knowing in our hearts His incredible love for us. 

For His Glory,

Lauren <3

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wash N' Go for Thick, High Density Curls

At some point late in my last pregnancy, when I'd grown too big and uncomfortable to do my hair, even the average wash day felt like a huge chore that I wasn't up to tackling (can any of you moms relate?). So I came up with an easy way to wash and style my hair that also allows me to wear my natural curl pattern, something I haven't been able to accomplish until now.

Enter the "Pseudo Wash N' Go."

Typically I don't do traditional WnG's because my hair is so thick and dense (read: each strand is thick and I have a lot of those thick strands closely packed together) that it shrinks, tangles and frizzes quickly as it dries. I've tried applying a ton of product to weigh it down, but then product just ends up getting on everything (think of Soul Glo..."Just let your soul GLO! Let it shine throuuuuugh..."). 

Why "pseudo"? Because unlike your traditional WnG you're not washing then wearing your hair out immediately. Actually it's more of a twist-out but I call it a WnG because you're wearing your natural curl pattern.

Here are the steps to achieving a virtually shrinkage-free, hassle-free "wash n' go":

1. Wash or co-wash your hair and detangle. 

2. Part your hair so it falls how you want it to once the twists are out.

3. Moisturize and set your hair in large, chunky twists. I like to start in the back and work my way forward. To moisturize I keep my hair wet with a spray bottle, use SheaMoisture's Reconstructive Conditioner as a leave-in then seal with EVOO. (I've found that the "LCO Method" works better for me than the "LOC Method.")  

4. For extra definition in the front: I do two large flat twists going to the left and one going to the right. This really makes my curls pop and helps keep them defined.

5. Allow twists to dry completely (I let them air dry for a day) then release and fluff. If you prefer a more crisp and defined look then don't separate the twists too much and take your time, especially with the ends so they don't frizz out. But if you prefer some frizz, then fluff away! Big hair is on the way :) 
Top left: two flat twists & chunky twists; Bottom left: air dried & releasing twists;
Right: fluffing and separating

The two flat twists in front going to the left.
This pic was when I'd re-twisted for less shrinkage
(see next section).
High definition from flat twists in the front

How to Reduce Shrinkage With This Technique

Last week I discovered how to reduce shrinkage using this technique. It had been a couple days since I'd taken out the twists and my hair was already getting dry (thank you, postpartum hormones). Instead of co-washing I dampened my hair using the spray bottle and re-twisted using the same technique and products mentioned above. Except this time when I released the twists after they had dried my curls had stretched! *happy dance!* I was thrilled because my curls were still really springy, even in the back, where my curl pattern is the loosest.
Curls are POPPIN'!
Hello, kinks and coils! :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Parenting Playbook

It's 7:30am, I'm barely conscious and both the girls are screaming at me.

Puuddy has just found out that she isn't getting her favorite toys back due to yesterday's behavior. Avaberry is hungry but is refusing to nurse. I want to cry (or scream), I'm so tired. 

As I am learning, every pregnancy and every child is different. Even though I seem to remember breastfeeding being a breeze with Puuddy, I had some difficulty in the beginning with Avaberry. I love breastfeeding and enjoy it immensely, so that was rather tough to deal with emotionally. Flash forward to this morning when she refused to nurse. I quickly figured out that she wanted her pacifier instead. What?! It had been five hours since she'd eaten. FIVE HOURS. Usually after three she's ready to eat my face. I had to fight off the anxiety so I could focus. Immediately I hear my mother's voice in my head:

"Children will never starve themselves."

Ok, phew. Don't panic. It's been five hours since she's eaten but she's gotta eat eventually...right?! 

I lay Avaberry down on the bed. She continues to cry and yell at me, but I calmly explain to her (as if she can understand) that I am not going to give her the paci because she needs to eat. 

I glance over at Puuddy who has a concerned look on her face. I'm sure she's thinking, "Does Mommy really know what she's doing...?" Yes, I do. Well, kind of. After all, you don't get a playbook when you become a parent. But as believers God gives us the grace we desperately need to obey the Holy Spirit's direction so our actions honor Christ who lives in us. 

So how did I apply this to my chaotic situation this morning?

Instead of screaming back at Puuddy to get her to stop screaming (sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? but honestly sometimes that's how I react when I'm emotional and exhausted), I focused on diffusing one situation at a time. There wasn't much I could do for Avaberry except rub her tummy and talk to her in calm tones. I knew I'd have to give her a few minutes to realize she needed to eat. In the meantime I asked Puuddy if she wanted to help me pump (she loves turning the pump on and off). This redirected her attention and instantly turned her attitude around. I finished pumping, put Ava on and she began to nurse right away. Sigh of relief.

Later that morning I was able to laugh about our early morning shenanigans as I shared the story with Hubby over the phone. I'd successfully handled a stressful situation without losing my temper (or my mind, for that matter) and that doesn't happen all the time. I'll be the first to tell you that I am a work in progress, especially when it comes to parenting. But thanks be to God I don't have to do it on my own. He is with me every step of the way, guiding me with His love and reassuring me with His grace. 

For His Glory,

Lauren <3

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blogging, Motherhood & Instagram

So...What happens when you're a stay-at-home mom preggo with Baby #2 and chasing around your 2-year-old? 
August 25, 2013...almost full term!

You stop blogging!

To be completely transparent - which is how I strive to live my life - for a while there I wasn't sure that I would continue my blog. I subconsciously put blogging on the back burner and instead focused my energy and attention on spending time with our daughter and preparing for our new baby. Our precious new addition was due to arrive on September 28 (she ended up making an early debut on September 17). And as that date drew nearer, I found myself becoming more and more immersed in daily activities with our daughter, careful not to miss a moment as I emotionally prepared for her to never again be my one and only baby. Gosh, that was harder than I imagined. The first time I saw Puuddy after "Avaberry" arrived, I cried as I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her onto the hospital bed with me. I couldn't hold back the tears that flowed from my heart because she instantly looked so big, so far from my womb....I'm still coping with that, trying to adjust to her growth that seems to increase by leaps and bounds daily. I'm not sure that I'll ever get over it. It's bringing tears to my eyes now just thinking about it.

I haven't been completely inactive though. During the interim I have become a big-time "Instagrammer." If you aren't on Instagram, all I gotta say is...you've gotta join! I began doing "mini blog posts" on there - yep, my name is "forhisglorynatural" there as well :) - and found that there's a lot of interest in natural hair on IG. I even gave up Facebook for a while (I'm still not active on there) and now post solely on IG.
Me & Hubby on our last parents-of-one-child date night...
3 days before Avaberry's arrival!

Now Avaberry is here and my life will never be the same. I can't believe how blessed I am, that God chose me to be the mother of these two beautiful, precious little girls. With all the other responsibilities that seem to constantly vie for my attention, being the example of a Godly woman, mother and wife that my daughters need to see is one of my top priorities. But I also feel called to do more.

Which brings me to this blog.

I've decided to keep it going. The reason I'm continuing it is not the reason I started it, but that doesn't matter. As a good friend of mine always says, seasons change. I'm simply in a different season of my life now. Very different. I'm a wife, stay-at-home, homeschooling mom (oh yeah, did I mention that?) and a natural hair blogger. My life, just like yours, is multi-dimensional. So to try to compartmentalize it into categories seems foolish because it's all connected. Whereas before I pretty much blogged about only natural hair, now my posts will be a reflection of my life - my crazy, imperfect, unpredictable and oftentimes hilarious life. But in everything it is my sincere hope and prayer that my light shines brightly for and points to the One who made me, my Father in heaven. He is the reason I am living. It is For His Glory that I do what I do. 

So here I am, beginning my blogging journey again. Won't you join me? :)

For His Glory,


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm Featured on Global Couture This Month!

Check it out here:


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Learning How to Straighten My Hair

This post is WAY late, but of course I had to share my most recent straightening experience since this only happens every 6 months. 

For starters, this time around I educated myself prior to reaching for the heat. It's funny, but for some reason I'd never researched how to properly straighten my hair before. One particular You Tuber really helped me: Longhairdontcare2011. From the videos I watched, she seems to prefer to manage her curls by "heat training." This means she uses heat on a pretty regular basis so she's very familiar with how to do so without damaging her hair. And did I mention that her hair is about hip length? Yeah. She knows her stuff.

Armed with valuable info on how to straighten my hair safely, these are the steps I took:
  • New flat iron My old flat iron wasn't good anymore because I'm pretty sure the ceramic surface had worn off and it didn't have a temperature control, meaning it reached its max temp of 450 degrees. Yeah I know, yikes that's too much heat. This time I purchased a new flat iron that I'd been researching for some time: the Sedu Revolution Tourmaline Ionic Styling Iron. I really like the Sedu because it has 1) temp control and 2) smooth plates made of tourmaline and ceramic, which I read are good for flat ironing safely. Also, I only had to use it twice: once to straighten and the next day to curl my ends, and my hair stayed straight for 24 days with very little reversion only around my edges. With my old flat iron - the FHI Heat - I'd have to constantly touch up my hair (even though I knew not to use a flat iron on dirty hair) because it would revert so quickly, especially with any humidity. But even with all the humidity in the air while my hair was straight this time around, my hair still remained straight. It was great!
  • Air dried hair After learning that Longhairdontcare2011 air dries her hair before blow drying, I decided to do the same so I wouldn't have to blow dry my soaking wet hair, possibly causing more damage. But this is why it's important to know your hair, because while this technique works well for Longhairdontcare2011's heat-trained, wavy curls, it did not work well for my kinky-coily strands. I felt like I was causing more damage than I would have had it been wet. Maybe my hair is easier to blow dry when it's wet because my strands have a good amount of elasticity, meaning they can stretch significantly without popping.
  • Protein conditioner co-wash Since I'd washed my hair a few days prior to straightening, I decided to skip the shampoo step and jump right to the protein conditioner. Since I'm pregnant and not able to spend a long time on my hair, I've decided to replace my monthly henna treatments with the ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor for my protein treatments. I like this conditioner; it is a light protein treatment that leaves my hair soft and strong.
  • Heat protectant The first day I used a spray-on heat protectant. The second day I applied a teeny bit of a serum heat protectant to my hair, focusing on the ends, prior to curling. I have yet to find a heat protectant that I'm "sold out" to.
Post-wash. Twisted hair to air dry.
After blow drying. YAY FRO!
Testing for best heat setting.
Left: 340 degrees. Right: 400 degrees.
I went with 400.
Post-flat ironing, prior to getting a trim.
Next day, after a trim.
Second time using Sedu. Added Farrah Fawcett
curls :) This was my first time curling with
a flat iron. I really liked how it turned out.
The Sedu Revolution...

Love the smooth plates - they left my hair
so soft and smooth!
Ah, yes. Thank God for temperature settings :)
After rockin' the Farrah Fawcett look for a bit,
this is how I ended up wearing my hair for about
a week. Since it was so humid I was trying to
preserve my straight look.
I enjoy wearing my hair straight. The funny thing is, I have the habit of complimenting other naturals on their luscious curls, but when my hair is straight I feel funny doing that, almost like I'm a traitor or they wouldn't believe that I'm natural, lol. But otherwise I like the straight look. I might even begin straightening once every 3 months instead of 6 months so I can stay on top of trimming. I like my hair at the length it is, but in order for it to fill in the way I'd like, I have to make sure I take better care of my ends. Between straightenings I'll also be sealing my ends more, a practice that I never really got into since my hair was growing in spite of it.

Until next time!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How I Moisturize & Seal

During the first cycle of my low-wash regimen I did something that I never practiced in the past...moisturizing and sealing my ends! 

I know, it might sound crazy that this hasn't been part of my regimen. I feel like I hear other naturals talking all the time about how they moisturize and seal on a regular basis. But when my hair began retaining length during my first growth challenge in 2011, I didn't feel the need to add this step to my regimen. 

So why am I doing it now? I felt that with the decreased washing and having my hair out and exposed to the elements half the time (instead of in twists) would make it more vulnerable to breakage. I didn't have a plan for how often I wanted to do it, although I was hoping to get to it at least once a week. My hair was fine the first week, so I left it alone. The second week I lightly detangled twice and moisturized and sealed three times. The third week I kept it bunned and didn't do anything to it.

To seal moisture into my ends, I spritzed my ends with water, applied a little SM Restorative Conditioner, then sealed with SM Reconstructive Finishing Elixir. The Elixir is a new product I received from SheaMoisture for my last event (LOVE that company!!). I love the Elixir's light and non-greasy formula.
Products I used to moisturize & seal. I also used them to set my
hair in braids for a "dry" braid-out after my first

finger detangling session during the second week.
Finger detangling. I braided it up afterwards to keep it 
separated and detangled then released the braids and pulled it up.

19 Days of No Shampooing

[Please excuse the gaps and spacing in this post...technical difficulties...]

A couple weeks ago after watching some You Tube videos of women with long, luscious, healthy natural hair and learning of their low-wash regimens, I decided to go back to a low-wash regimen myself. The videos reminded me that I was following a low-wash regimen during my first growth challenge between April and November 2011, which was when I experienced the most consistent growth. While I am content with the overall length of my hair (I think it's back to waist length again since my last trim) I'd like to continue to grow it so it can be fuller at the longest length. 

I began my "new" regimen a few weeks ago when I went 19 days without washing my hair. I'd intended to wash it a few days earlier, but time didn't permit. So how did my hair and scalp hold up? Great! I'm not sure why I was surprised, but my scalp wasn't even itchy by day 19. My hair, however, had a considerable amount of product and lint build-up.

Tip: Want to know how often you should wash your hair? Start by listening to your scalp and hair. An itchy scalp and/or hair with visible product build-up, lint, etc. are indicators that it's time to wash your hair. 

My hair at the beginning of the 19 days. This was the original braid-out from when I'd last washed my hair.

Results of the dry braid-out
On the 19th day I followed my current wash day regimen, which goes as follows:

~Wash with SheaMoisture Moisture Retention Shampoo (this shampoo cleans my hair without stripping it of moisture)
~Condition & Detangle with Everyday Coconut Super Hydrating Conditioner (I chose this conditioner because it doesn't have silicones and mostly has natural ingredients)
~Apply my modified Kimmaytube leave-in conditioner then set hair in braids to rock a braid-out (but this time I set it in fat twists and pulled them up into a high bun)
Results of the dry braid-out

My hair was dirty & ready to be washed
at this point, but I didn't have time so I
bunned it for the last few days.



After washing...it felt so good to have
clean hair again! If it could've sighed
it would have, lol. 
I also added another component from my old regimen: the ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor (after the shampoo and before the conditioner). I brought this product back into the mix for two reasons: 1) I need protein in my regimen but since I'm 5 months pregnant, managing my usual monthly henna treatments is becoming unrealistic, and 2) I saw great results from this product when I used it during my growth challenge in 2011. Even though I prefer a more natural regimen, this product will have to do until I'm able to work henna back into my routine. I'll probably use the ApHogee product every wash day since it's a nice, light protein that'll continue to strengthen my strands.

I plan to continue with this low-wash regimen for the next few months. I also have some styling ideas coming up for the summer too, so stay tuned to see what new styles I try! ;)

In my next post I'll share the steps I took to care for my hair during the 19 days of no washing.

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