Happy 2 Year HHJ Anniversary!!!

Oh. My. Goodness. It has been 2 years since I started my HHJ! It felt like I just wrote about my one year anniversary!!!

I am honestly in awe of how fast time has flown! Last year, I wrote about what worked and what didn’t work for me in my first year, so in that spirit … here goes! Note: I pretty much figured out what my hair didn’t like by the end of the first year, so I don’t have as many “What did not work!” entries!

What worked

1. Coconut oil pre-poos: I wrote this off on my last HHJ anniversary post because I thought that the use of coconut oil early in my journey caused my ends to break because of its potential to bind to proteins, which I felt was sending my hair into protein overdrive. When I was at home back in May 2013, I took some of the coconut oil I gave to my mom to try again and I have been hooked ever since. Since using it, my hair feels a lot stronger. Coconut oil is the holy grail for hair!!

2. Deep conditioning weekly: Honey, this will always work in any regimen!

3. Carol’s Daughter Monoi Oil Sacred Strengthening Serum: I began my search for a silicone-free serum back in the summer. Living Proof did not work for me and I happened to stumble across this serum on Sephora.com. I have never enjoyed welcoming a product into my life as this one. Instantly, I noticed a reduction in breakage on the ends which continues to this day! I love the smell, sheen and strength that it gives to my hair … all without the silicone!

4. Infrequent length checks: Lord, I had Nathan measuring my hair almost weekly in the first year and a half of my journey … now, I feel like I am on autopilot and don’t sweat length checks as much. If I need to remove raggedy ends, I do it and don’t fret over lost length!

5. Protein leave-ins weekly: Since becoming MBL-bound, I noticed that my hair had less breakage and felt better when I used a light protein leave-in each wash day. I used ApHogee Green Tea Keratin Restructurizer then switched to Carol’s Daughter Monoi Anti-Breakage Spray. Hair that is longer needs that protein reinforcement to stay strong and on your head!

6. Healthy Texture’s Rollersetting Video: I learned so much about rollersetting from this one video and my rollersets have come out better because of it!

7. Seamless combs: You will get my Hercules Sagemann combs from me in two ways: 1) steal them and 2) pry them from my cold dead hands. I will never use another non-seamless comb in my hair. My Magic Rake comb and rattail comb glides through my hair. They are worth every cent! I will even take these combs to the salon and have them use them on my hair!

8. Pre-pooing with Ceramides: My oils of choice are safflower or hemp seed oil.

9. Satin pillow rollers: I have raved about these, as you probably know! Get you some!

What Didn’t Work

1. My old tabletop dryer- R.I.P. Conair!!! I had to buy a roll-about dryer once my hair got to BSL.

2. [Faux] Airdrying – I began to notice that my hair breaks more when it is faux airdried. I do it to give me and my hair a break, but it is no longer my preferred method of styling.

3. Living Proof products – My hair liked none of those products. I tried 3 of them and they left my hair feeling dry and crunchy.

I plan on blowing my hair out and doing a Caruso roller set on Saturday. I want to get an official length check for my 2 year anniversary, so stay tuned! I think it is safe to say that I am approaching WL in the longest lengths and I started off at SL two years ago!!!!

An Inch for Your Thoughts #18: #LongHairProblems

I have been meaning to write a blog post on this for ages and have just finally got around to doing it!

I remember when I started my HHJ at shoulder length almost two years ago (seems like yesterday), all I could do is dream of MBL/WL hair and envy anyone who had it! I just couldn’t wait to have my hair long and flowing! Now that I have it, I have discovered long hair, while I definitely love it, is not a bed of roses! Here are some of my #longhairproblems:

1. It takes FOREVER for a roller set to dry! – And I mean forever! I am under the dryer no less than 100 minutes each Wash Day that I roller set. It is annoying, hot and uncomfortable. I have a relatively decent dryer, but it still takes forever.

2. Hair gets caught in clothes and armpits. – I think this is one of the first #longhairproblems I encountered and remembered. I think it was around BSL when I noticed that while putting on clothes, if my hair was free, it would get caught in my armpit when I was trying to take clothes on or off. I would then have to gently cock my head to the side the hair was stuck on as not to create tension so the hair would break, gently swipe my hair away from the armpit or clothes and continue what I was doing.

3. Products do not last as long. – For someone who uses expensive hair products, I know that I have to be extra careful and “stretch” the time the products will last now that my hair is MBL. That means I will add in cheaper products to give some of my products a boost. For example, instead of using just Alterna Caviar conditioner in the shower, I will add Ion Extreme Moisture cream so that I don’t have to use much Alterna.

4. Haters! – Didn’t I just mention how I hated on people who had long hair the beginning of my journey? Yep, we’ve all been guilty of possessing hair envy at one time or another. However, what about the people in your life who make shady comments (e.g. “well, your hair should be long, you have ‘good’ hair”) or the friends who say nothing at all? Like they refuse to acknowledge your length at all or congratulate you on meeting your hair goals? Yep, if it haven’t happened to you, I bet you it will at some point. Like Dave Chappelle as R.Kelly stated “Haters Gonna Hate!”

Snow_White_Haters_Gonna_Hate_Gif

5. More upkeep is needed. – This is a no-brainer. Long hair = old hair. Some of the hair on my head is probably 3+ years old and I have only been on my journey for 2 years. That means the ends of my hair have been through the fire!! Literally, because I used to blow dry and flat iron my hair weekly. HA! That means slacking on your pimping is not recommended. I M&S almost daily, pre-poo and deep condition every Wash Day. I strategically pick leave-ins that will enhance my hair and assist in helping keep its structure (hellooooooooooo light protein leave-in and coconut oil pre-poos!) I dust as needed and try to protective style as much as possible to keep my ends in decent shape.

6. The anxiety struggle is real. – When you have invested time and money into growing your hair out, you get more protective over every inch you acquire. I think that this is true in most areas of life. If you nurture something, you want to be able to see and enjoy the outcome. Well, once your hair starts gaining a bit of length, you may find yourself a bit more stressed out over it than before. The dreaded word “setback” (considered the “four letter word” of HHJ enthusiasts) haunts you in your dreams and every time you comb and style your hair. You may see other bloggers have a setback and now fear has been struck in your heart! Well, all I can say to this is “breathe and stop” (thanks Q-Tip!) I just chalk it up to “it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon!” Some people may jog to the finish line, some may walk and some may stop and have coffee. I say “I’ll get there when I get there!”

7. What’s next? – Having long hair may be fun in and of itself, but what about when you finally reach your goals? What then? I remember the sheer excitement of seeing my hair after relaxer day and to see what milestone I could claim! There was no greater high than realizing that I made BSB/BSL/MBL! My last relaxer day I was like “Meh. I know my hair is long. Throw me some tight curls in it!”

Well, there are some of my #longhairproblems! You have any you want to share?

 

I’m Going Low-Manipulation For A While …

Happy Friday before Christmas everyone!

I just wanted to share the results of my first week of faux air-dried hair and plans for going low-manipulation for a while! (Note: faux air dry is referring to when I sit under my dryer with the front of my hair tied with a scarf and the length is left hanging while it dries. It normally takes me about 20 minutes to be completely dry).

As you may have read, last week’s salon debacle was a complete #fail. The mishandling of my hair teamed with the lack of conditioning and horrible roller set made me rethink how I wanted to structure this relaxer stretch. I really feel that my hair suffered and wanted to use this stretch to rejuvenate it. Last Sunday, I had to do an abbreviated Wash Day that consisted of a pre-poo/tea rinse, deep conditioner and faux air drying session to give my hair some much-needed moisture after I noticed my hair was dry and tangling at the ends, which would have probably led to breakage throughout the week. I initially worried about how my ends would react to being faux air-dried. In the past, I have noticed an increase in breakage when my hair is styled this way, so I was extra vigilant about monitoring breakage while M&Sing this week.

I am pleased to announce that my hair did very well and I noticed no more breakage than if my hair was roller set (which is a few pieces during the week)! WOO-HOO! Maybe it is the Carol’s Daughter Monoi Serum, maybe it’s me using the protein leave-ins at each Wash Day … but whatever it is, I am loving it!

With that being said, I have decided to dedicate this relaxer stretch to faux air drying (except when we go on winter vacation in a few weeks and when I go home to NC in a month). I think the break from being roller set each week will be a welcomed occurrence for both me and my hair! I will also be doing more tea rinses to help combat shedding. This will allow my hair to thicken back up for the spring. My hair grows the fastest during the winter and spring, so I am trying to capitalize on every inch I can get! #waistlength2014

I will monitor my hair and if I see my hair is not responding well to being faux air dried, then I will start roller setting again to preserve length … but for now, let’s see how this goes! Hooray for reducing Wash Days by 3 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My next Wash Day will be Sunday, where I plan on doing a tea rinse in addition to my normal pre-poo and deep conditioning sessions. 🙂

 

Salon Fail, Plans for Upcoming Relaxer Stretch and Length Check (UPDATE!)

I probably should have broken these down into 2 posts, but whatevs … let’s get right to it!

Salon Fail

Yesterday I went and got my Redken Shades EQ put on again. I got it done in March of this year and loved it! Even thought it was a demi-permanent color, I can tell it gave me some lovely red tones that have lasted up until now. The application of the demi-permanent color also helped my porous ends, which was presented to me by less breakage.

Anyhoo, all went well until the roller set. Normally she will blow my hair out, but since I just used direct heat last week, that was not an option. Instead of wetting my hair with each roller application (I would have stood for wetting my hair in the 3 sections!!!), she detangled and combed hair with a rattail comb while it was half dry, which can increase breakage! I wanted to say something, but I didn’t! I know, I know .. I should have spoken up! The rollers weren’t placed in a methodical way … just whatever way the fit in. Needless to say, I was not pleased. I took me about an hour to dry, probably because half my hair was already air-dried 80% when I got under the dryer with my rollers. She took them down, shook my curls out and sent me on my way. To add insult to injury, she only took the discount off one salon service (the color) when I thought it was the total bill. It was $62+ tip! Nope, nope, nope! This is why I don’t get down with stylists on a regular basis any more! I felt that my hair was not treated with the utmost care and the results were subpar! I can get subpar results at home for free!!!!! Additionally, my hair was not deep conditioned and I can totally tell by the feel of it today. Honestly, unless I am going to get a flat iron, I won’t be going back to that salon. I can apply my Clairol Colorgloss at  home as well as do horrible rollersets. Lesson learned! When I got home, I just wanted to scream! I just knew that my hair was thinner (I wouldn’t want to know how much hair I actually lost), it felt dry and when I combed the hair out, it just fell flat. I was tempted to wash and re-roll it, but I thought better of it! I immediately applied some moisturizer and serum  and put in my satin rollers to try to salvage it!

This leads us into my next segment …

Relaxer Stretch Plans

My next relaxer will be in mid-March 2014, when I am 14 weeks post. I do not plan on using direct heat and continuing my regimen to mitigate any damage done by my trip to the salon yesterday (can you say “thicken?”) Winter is the time that my hair grows the fastest, so I will try to maximize my length retention. I will be going home next month and I am deciding whether I want to go to my old salon and get me a $10 roller set (of course I will pre-poo before)! I still have 5 weeks to make up my mind!

Length Check

Since my roller set turned out quite crappy and I had to roll on satin rollers (which makes curls tight), I couldn’t get a full length check shot, so I thought I would stretch a piece of hair so you can see where it’s at!

That long part is trying to graze my waist! Hopefully I will be there by May!!! I am almost scared to straighten my hair and see my hemline due to the rough handling at the salon! Needless to say, I will be rocking curly styles for a while … just to give other hairs time to catch up! 🙂

photo 2

 

 

UPDATE!

So around 5:20pm this afternoon I was about to tie my hair up for the evening and while detangling I noticed that my hair was shedding! It was not too bad, but it was not normal for me on the day after a roller set. Between the shedding, the dryness and the anger I had towards my hair, I decided that I needed to do a quick Wash Day. I was not going to see what happened to my hair as the week progressed. I did a coconut pre-poo with safflower oil and cheapie conditioner. To combat shedding, I added a tea rinse to my scalp and hair and sat under the dryer for about 20 minutes. I co-washed with my Ion Conditioner Wash sample pack and did an in-shower conditioning treatment with my Alterna Caviar conditioner. I did a deep conditioner with L’Oreal Total Repair 5 for 25 minutes. I did a final rinse with Roux for 1 minute. My leave-ins were as normal.

I did the faux air dry method where I tied my hair back with a scarf and let it hang. I think I may do these for the next few weeks, depending on how the breakage this week goes. When it comes to breakage, my hair prefers to be roller set, but I think my hair could use a manipulation break for a while!

Here are a few pictures. The end result was not that bad … I still have a rather full hemline and my hair still has some thickness to it, so all was not ruined yesterday. I think that I will be incorporating tea rinses into my regimen for a little while, to combat shedding. Sorry they came out blurry and it appears there are some gaps in my hemline … there isn’t, it is just how the grainy self-portrait came out!

 

rewash1 photo 3 (12)

Wash Day and now I am WL-Bound!

It seems like yesterday (actually it was in the spring), that I declared myself MBL-bound after reaching BSL. I now feel quite comfortable claiming MBL length, so I am changing my status to WL-Bound! Yep … barring any setback, I am par to reach it in late spring/early summer, which is on par with the goals I set almost 2 years ago at the beginning of my HHJ.

Well, it has been a while since I have posted a Wash Day post, but I thought that I would today! For the past two weeks, I have been pre-pooing my hair overnight. I use the same mix of cheapie conditioner, coconut oil and a ceramide oil (hemp or safflower). After I apply the mix, I apply my plastic conditioning cap and wrap it up in a dry turban to protect my bedding. It saves me an hour and with the length of time that it takes me to dry now, any minute I can shave off is welcomed.

I received a sample of Pantene Age Defy shampoo and hair masque. To see how they performed, I just washed with the Pantene Age Defy shampoo (it has sulfates) and did my in-shower conditioning treatment with the hair masque and my Alterna Winter Rx oil. Meh … it definitely was nothing to write home about. I definitely will not be buying it. The best thing about them was the smell. While applying my deep conditioning (KeraPro this week), I noticed that my ends felt a bit bumpy, so I added my MegaSilk to the lower 3rd of my hair. I wrapped my hair in a wet turban topped of my a conditioning cap and sat under the dryer for 45 minutes. Afterwards, I was feeling tired, so I took a nap with my stuff on! So my deep conditioning session this week was about 2.5 hours. I then rinsed out, applied Roux Porosity Control for 2 minutes, then began to roll.

photo 1

My leave-ins this week were as normal: Alterna Caviar Photo Age Defense, Alterna Caviar Texture Cream, Carol’s Daughter Monoi Anti-Breakage Repair Spray and Carol’s Daughter Monoi Sacred Strengthening Serum. This week, I wanted a bit more curl so I decided to use the gray and purple rollers instead of gray and black! UGH!!! It took me longer to roll and honestly, it was weird using them all over my head again. It took me just under 2 hours to dry and even then, there were a few places of dampness that I zapped with the blow dryer. Overall, when I took my rollers out, I couldn’t tell if my hair was damp or just very soft (not good in my book). That brings me to my next observation: I need to assess the mixture of water I use to set my hair.

I use a combination of water, glycerin and essential oils but last week I added some Roux 619 and a few drops of my Alterna Caviar White Truffle Elixir. On top of the leave-ins, I think that was wayyyyyyyyyyy too many products to have in my hair, which may be contributing to my hair drying so slow and it ultimately feeling a bit too soft and lank for my liking. Also, at the first sign of water, my hair just puffs up. My hair (relaxed or natural) has an almost cottony feel and I can only imagine the reversion nightmare I would have if I were to go natural. I think I need to eliminate the glycerin, since it can attract moisture to the hair, which is not what I need in Oregon’s damp fall and winter. Next week, I am just going to use some very diluted Lotta Body and water. That may make my hair dry a bit faster and make the curls have a bit more staying power.

I combed my hair out, applied some serum and took a look at it. Meh. It looks OK! If my hair didn’t feel so soft and limp (despite me using smaller rollers), I would have just picked the curls apart and had some big hair! Instead, I wrapped it up for the evening and the proceeded to watch “John Adams” (one of my favorite mini-series)! I have also noticed something else about my hair that proceeds my HHJ days … I never liked my roller sets the day I got them done. I always felt a good sleeping on the curls did my hair wonders! Day 2 and 3 hair is way better than Day 1 when it comes to roller sets, IMHO. I think it’s because the oil has had time to spread and make hair a bit shinier! I don’t know!!

Anyhoo, I didn’t take pictures of the curls, but here is the final product. Slowly but surely trying to creep towards waist length! Look at the puffiness! I will come back and post some pictures when I take it down tomorrow! 🙂

 photo 2 photo 3

Like Hay in the Middle of the Barn

Today I was M&Sing my hair and noticed that the ends of my hair looked so dry! Instantly, I thought about this old song from Crucial Conflict a la 1995-96 called “Hay.” In the chorus, they say “smoking on hay  in the middle of the barn … ” That’s what my ends felt like … some hay in the middle of a barn!!!!!!

I was very tempted to grab my scissors and get to cutting, but I had to remind myself of a few things:

1) I blow-dried my hair and did not “smooth” it by flat ironing it

2) There was not very much breakage from the ends. My hair breaks at the first hint of dryness, so for ends not to be popping off left and right, they must not be that bad; all-in-all, I may have had 7 small broken ends today (I had 0 yesterday), so I am not too concerned!

To combat further dryness, I M&Sed in 6 sections using the L-O-C method with my Alterna White Truffle Elixir as my liquid, kukui nut oil as my oil and Amla Legends 1001 Oils Night Wrap Cream as my cream. I twisted the cream onto my ends and instead of leaving my hair in a bun for the night, I wound up each of my six sessions and pinned them close to my head, hoping the heat from my head would help the product penetrate my hair a bit better and let me wake it to soft hair!

Here’s how it looked when I was finished pinning my hair up!

photo 1

As far as shedding goes, it hasn’t been too bad since Saturday. Yesterday evening I lost very little hairs and this is what I lost today. I checked each of them for bulbs to make sure my hair isn’t breaking heading into a relaxer. After I inspected each hair, there was 3 strands without a bulb, which could be breakage or the fact that I sometimes yank at my hemline trying to remove shed hairs and sometimes those strands break. Either way, the number was not so great that I was alarmed in any way.

Here’s the hair I lost today, which is not at all excessive, even in my [tightly-wound] book!

photo 2

 

I will continue to monitor the ends of my hair and shedding volume until my relaxer on Saturday! Whoop whoop! 5 more days!!!