Hair Updates and Rumblings: NC Edition

In order not to make my Relaxer Day post too long, I thought I would break these 2 posts up and give some hair updates and observations during my time in NC.

– As you may have read, the week and a half leading up to my relaxer had me shedding something crazy! I literally thought I was going to be bald (hahah!) I never attribute excessive shedding as a cause of me needing to end a relaxer stretch, but since I have relaxed my hair a week ago, the shedding has been soooooooo minimal. Like a few strands a day, even with combing. I often view relaxers as kind of a Darwin-esque mechanism. Hairs (and ends) that are weak just won’t last during a relaxer processing, so I am left with strong, robust strands, if you will! I am not sure if my new birth control kicked in some hormones or whether a change in scenery was what my hair needed, but my shedding is under control – for now!

– I also experienced some breakage near the end of my relaxer stretch. I don’t think I will just blow dry my hair and not flat iron it again. I plan on roller setting my next pre-relaxer day.

– I am going to have to learn my hair all over again when I move back to NC. It is soooooooooooo humid! My hair just didn’t stand a chance! I don’t think all the products in the world will stand up to the humidity in the South! I will say this, I think the Living Proof products I am using helped (see below for full list of products). Instead of my hair poofing up all wild-like and leaving me with wet, swollen, and limp hair, the curls just fell and I was able to still wear it down (not sleek … pulled back in a headband) or in a ponytail. I am so glad that I did not pay $45 for a roller set only to have the NC rain and heat come and whisk my curls (and coins) away!

– I don’t like straight hair. It’s fun to have a sleek, flat ironed look sometimes, but to me, it’s gets old pretty fast and the reasons should be pretty obvious to someone on a HHJ! For one, there is too much upkeep involved to maintain it. You have to wrap (or cross-wrap), take it down, make sure there aren’t any bobby pin or clip indentations and if there are, apply heat to remove them (if you so choose). Also, if it needs to be “bumped,” you have to apply more direct heat. Then you have to watch what you’re wearing, where you go, what the forecast is looking like, etc.! It would be remiss of me not to mention that straight hair displays all your flaws. If your hemline is chewed up, it will show. If you ends are like Rice Krispies (snap, crackle and pop!), it will show. You can hide easily hide subtle flaws with roller sets and other protective styles. Also, I like the look of voluminous curls or waves that I get from roller setting or doing the faux air-drying method.

– I did a roller set two days after I got my relaxer on Labor Day. I was heading to Raleigh to meet with some friends and had to be fly! I washed my hair with some sulfate shampoo Kim had on hand to remove silicones from my flat ironing session and followed up with my Alterna Caviar Volume poo. I did a 20 minute deep-conditioning session with Ion Extreme Moisture conditioner and followed up with my Roux for 1 minute. My leave-ins were: Living Proof Prime Style Extender, Living Proof frizz Nourishing cream and Alterna Texture cream. Kim kept insisting that I use a setting lotion or foam. I said nope … water only! She rolled me up, I placed on my roller net and I went back to my mom’s house, where I had a dryer like mine waiting for me! I can’t do tabletops if I can avoid it! I sat under the dryer for about 1 hr and was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I decided to sleep in the rollers for the first time to let it air dry over night! It was a bit uncomfortable, but I was so tired, it really didn’t matter. I misted my hair the next morning and sat back under the dryer for about 30 minutes for a final setting. The curls were beautiful! I was very tempted not to blow them out in preparation for my hair to be wrapped, but I did! In hindsight, I should have left them alone and maybe the frizz wouldn’t have been so bad!

??????????? photo 2

By the time I got to Raleigh in the late afternoon on Tuesday, my hair had had it. It was humid, my ends were screaming for a dusting (which I did when I got to the hotel). To add insult to injury, after dinner at Second Empire (yum), we went to Solas, which is a rooftop bar! By the end of the night, my hair was in a bun! The next day, I combed and detangled it, smoothed with some Vitamin E oil and wore it down with a headband.

– People touching my hair makes me very nervous. I think the longer my hair gets, the more protective of it I become. At the ratchet club we went to Saturday, I sat still in a booth and made sure people couldn’t get behind me. I was in fear that someone would try and pull or cut my hair! In my hometown, there were a few people who checked for tracks. One hairdresser told me, “I would just cut all that hair off if you came to me!” SEE? That’s why I won’t allow black people to do my trims! That almost turned my blood cold.

– At Sephora in Crabtree Valley Mall, this beautiful lady with beautiful natural hair gave me some tips on how to deal with long hair and frizz! I asked her if she thought the Living Proof frizz shampoo and conditioner was good, and she said she didn’t recommend it, as even without sulfates, she found the shampoo stripping and the conditioner didn’t work well. She said she uses the Alterna Caviar shampoo and conditioner and Living Proof leave-ins (frizz Nourishing cream, Prime Style Extender and Satin Serum). I knew when she said that, she was a HHJ sister, as she even mentioned the word “journey.” She admired the thickness of my hair and ends, even though the curls had been long gone! She told me that I missed one spot when dusting (which was the very back!), but other than that, my ends looked good! She told me she is preparing for a trim in December to remove some of her ends, but she wants to be MBL when she does it. I talked with her a good 10 minutes, sharing hair tips  (I recommended she try the Hercules Sagemann rake comb) and would’ve stayed longer had my friend not come in to retrieve me! One story she told me stuck out and validated my choice not to go to this salon I was thinking about trying. She recalled a time she was at a salon and she was asking the stylist what products she was using, instructing her on how to detangle her hair, etc. and the stylist told her “Oh … you’re one of THOSE!” HA!!!!!!!!!!! I know there are great stylists out there, but I don’t want to go bald on my quest to find one! That’s why I will stick with me or my friend doing it for now!

P.S. As soon as I got to some shears, I had my friend helped me get that last piece of rough hair!

– I went to see my dad and thanked him for his genes when it came to hair (he gets no love for my beady, non-descript eyes, but some love for my thick eyebrows). He said, “you’re welcome!” 🙂

– My ponytails are on point! I was swanging my long ponytail the last two days I was in town! I can’t wait until I see my WL ponytail!

– I don’t think I am going for full waist length. It would be just too much to deal with, IMHO. I actually like soft, subtle layers, so maybe when my length in the front hits BSL (in the year 2025), I will be happy!

– No tea, no shade, but so many people are not getting the HHJ memo in NC! These thin wraps that have been flat ironed into oblivion, lacefront wigs, double-processed hair, etc. Kim wanted to know why I sat with conditioner every time I got my hair washed and I told her I never miss a weekly deep conditioning – EVER! I will mind my own damn scalp, but I’m just saying …

Well, I think that’s all the hair updates and observations I have for now! 🙂

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!!!

Clairol Professional Colorgloss

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

I wanted to do a quick post on my Wash Day last Saturday. I did do the Clairol Radiance Colorgloss on my hair to help patch up those porous ends. I am convinced that doing these rinses has been a big part of why my ends are not breaking as much!

So here’s what I did:

– Prepooed with coconut oil and safflower oil for 1 hour.

– Washed hair with my normal shampoos.

– Applied Clairol Radiance Colorgloss (I chose the Clear one) to my hair from root to tip. To make the colorgloss, you have to use 2 0z of Clariol Radiance Developer (sold separately) for each 20z bottle of the colorgloss. I started off with one bottle and 2 oz of developer and that was plenty for my hair length. I let this process for about 15 minutes without heat per the instructions.

– Rinsed out, applied Alterna Conditioner to deep condition for an hour.

– Applied Roux Porosity Control and final rinsed.

Immediately after rinsing the Colorgloss from my hair, my hair felt stronger and thicker. I was a bit scared because I thought my hair was going to break! However, that was not the case and my hair stayed firmly on my head! I plan on doing this every 3 months, about 4 weeks after my relaxer, as this stuff is washed away in about 12-15 shampoos.

It was sooooooooooo hot last weekend that I could not bear to sit under the dryer for over an hour with some rollers in my hair, so I opted to sit under the dryer with my hair down to give it that air-dried look. Also, I have been doing some heavy workouts as of late (e.g. stair-running, Insanity – the struggle to lose 5 lbs is real!), so I am sweating a lot. I don’t want to invest a bunch of time into a style that will last me 1 day. Also, it is so important to remove salty sweat from your hair, so I plan on co-washing mid-week to refresh my hair. I will be real careful to monitor my ends while I am air-drying, as they seem to break more easily. I plan on bunning most of the summer anyway, just like I did last year. Here’s to MBL in September!

The developer and 2 oz bottles of clear Colorgloss

photo 1

The mix of developer and color before being put on my hair

photo 2

 

How I M&S My Hair for Maximum Moisture Retention

A few days ago I blogged about how my hair has been breaking less and less, which I am extremely happy about. I have been incorporating a new technique of how I apply my moisturizers to my hair that seems like its beneficial.

1. Section hair into 6 parts.

2. Take one section, apply moisturizer to your hand and apply moisturizer to bottom length, working all the way up to the top. Apply some more moisturizer and begin to twist hair in two strands, applying more moisturizer if necessary.

3. Apply oil to the bottom part of twist, the work up the hair.

4. Repeat until all sections are done.

I do this nightly and it feels like my hair gets more moisture, especially when I apply when twisting my hair!

Here is a photo … It’s just how the twist looks after I M & S!!

20130604-160039.jpg

Dry Ends Update!

Greetings guys! I wanted to do a quick post concerning my ends. As you all know, I have been battling dry, breaking and porous ends since the beginning of my hair journey 16 months ago. It has been a constant struggle!! I deep conditioned, used Roux Porosity Control, prayed, etc., but nothing seemed to offer me a long-term solution. However, as of late (since early April), I have not had very many breaking ends at all! Of course there are a few here and there, but now it is nothing for me to M&S my hair and not see a single one. It really has made for some happy times in my life! 🙂

I sat back and tried to deduce what I am doing differently. I could only think that things have improved because of the Redken Shades EQ I had put on at the end of March. Glazes such as that one are great for protecting the cuticle and assisting with porous ends, according to the Science of Black Hair. I am thinking of adding these glazes to my regimen about every 8-10 weeks now!

Of course, I will not pay to have this done, but rather I will just go to Sally’s and see what they have. I am thinking about trying the Clairol Professional in clear or the brown color closest to mine.

For those of you are experiencing dry ends with nothing helping you out, this may be a great solution! I am not sure when I will do this (maybe 2 weeks post relaxer), but I will definitely keep you guys posted!

Trying to be 95% breakage free!!!

Dry Ends or Missing Cuticle?

As you know, the struggle against dry, porous ends is ongoing (mainly on one side of my hair). I moisturize and seal daily. I deep condition with heat weekly. What could I be doing wrong?? How about … NOTHING??? It could be damaged hair left over from my pre-HHJ days that had too much heat and too little moisture and protein and the cuticle has just peeled away, leaving the strand to fend for itself!

Last night I was reading “The Science of Black Hair” aka my hair care bible and saw a part about the ends of hair naturally weathering and the cuticle wearing away leaving nothing but the cortex, which can cause those ends to just break away.

After a bit of research, I think I am piecing some information together. The cuticle is “a hard shingle-like layer of overlapping cells, some five to twelve deep. It is formed from dead cells which form scales that gives the hair shaft strength and do the best job of providing protection for it.” (Source: Wikipedia) Due to the natural tendency of hair to weather as it gets older, coupled with daily manipulation and heat styling tools (ooooh … my vice pre-HHJ!), the cuticle peels away, layer by layer, until the cortex is exposed, leaving it without protection, causing it to break away.

Once the cuticle is gone, it’s gone! You can use protein treatments to try and patch it up and maintain strength of the strand, but that is a temporary fix and must be reapplied when the product is washed away.

So what is a girl supposed to do? I think I need a bit more protein in my life at this point! I do rarely do protein treatments and I occasionally use my protein leave-ins. I am quite sensitive to protein, so I need to figure out a perfect balance so that my porous ends are getting the protein and moisture they need. Also on Wash Days, I am going to start applying my Alterna Caviar Photo Defense in 6 parts of my hair and focus on the ends (the point of that product is to patch up “holes” in the hair and protect against photo degradation). Additionally, instead of moisturizing and sealing in  quadrants, I am going to start parting my hair in 3 parts on each side of my hair so I can do a better assessment of what each area needs.

That is the thing with HHJs. Our fickle hair requires us to be oh-so-flexible with our hair plans. I did have this A-HA moment today when I read this. It is almost like I felt renewed and excited again because I feel like I have a solution to a problem that has plagued me for a year now! I always feel like I find something new when I read “The Science of Black Hair!” I will keep you all posted on this new routine and how it is working for me!

 

Ta ta for now! 🙂

 

 

Uh, why have I been sleeping on Aloe Vera Juice?

I have had aloe vera juice (AVJ) in my fridge for a year. I used it in my Kimmaytube mix, but quickly abandoned using that mix. I kept a separate spray bottle of AVJ, but I would pour it out because this weird fungus like black stuff would appear in the bottle after a few months, so I would pour that out and put in some fresh AVJ, but I would never use it.

Until now.

I have been using AVJ almost nightly in my M&S routine. I moisturize in sections with my Alterna Caviar White Truffle Elixir and seal with a small amount of AVJ and kukui nut oil. I just use a squirt of AVJ to mix in with the oil. I have been noticing in the past week that the breakage of ends in right back quadrant has been drastically reduced. AVJ has great moisturizing properties as well as restoring pH back to hair. Overall, my hair has been holding onto moisture very well. I definitely will not be sleeping on AVJ again! It is now going to be a staple in my hair care routine!

Hooray for AVJ!

Tip: Do not apply pure AVJ to your hair (I have made this mistake … luckily with no consequences!!). It is best to dilute AVJ with another conditioner or oil, as it is extremely acidic and can eat your hair out!  I use just a squirt of AVJ in my sealing oil. I try to keep the ratio to no more than 10:2. 

Time to Revisit Aloe Vera Juice and ACV Rinses!

Greetings all! Last night I could not help it … I had to dust the back part of my hair. That problem area of my hair had a few broken ends and I said “Screw it!” and went to the freezer where I keep my shears and took about 1/4 inch off. I am at the end of my rope when it comes to these dry, frayed ends! I do everything I am supposed to do … I M&S in sections daily!  I deep condition with heat most weeks. I co-wash. I try to avoid direct heat styling tools. I protective style 90% of the time. I am doing all the right things (or so I think), but I am not seeing the results that I want when it comes to healthier ends! Of course it is not the dry ends debacle of last year when I had a pile of dry ends on a sheet of paper, but still … I am ready for the day when I don’t have to worry about any of them snapping off. I know that may not be realistic … but I know I can do better than what I am doing now!

My ends are very porous, as I discovered in July. The longest parts of my hair are probably going on three years old and I definitely was not on a HHJ when they were in their young days … so now they are just beat up old ends with heat damage and little ability to retain moisture. I think I am going to try some remedies that I abandoned long ago (for reasons unknown … maybe I thought I had it figured out??) that will help pH balance my hair a bit more than the 4.5 pH of Roux Porosity  Control.

My next wash (or co-wash) day, I think I will do a final rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses (ACV), which has a pH of 3. Starting this morning, I started misting my hair (paying close attention to my ends) with my water spritz, my Alterna moisturizer and a  bit of Aloe Vera Juice (AVJ), which has a pH of 4 to 6 depending on the brand. It is apparent that I need products that are slightly more acidic to shut the cuticle and retain moisture because what I am doing now isn’t cutting it. I will update in a few days to let you know how my hair is doing!!!

Until next time!

🙂

The Problem Area of my Hair

I previously mentioned in a post that I M&S my hair in quadrants. I  think that this method allows for me to assess the state of each section of my hair by checking for excess shedding and breakage and by ensuring that each strand gets optimal moisture. Well, for a while now, I have noticed that I have one part of my hair that is thinner, has the more breakage and is just all-around in worse shape that the other parts of my hair. That part is located in the back of my right side  (see my lovely drawing below).

photo

This area is constantly the bane of my HHJ. Sometimes I cringe when having to M&S that area because I know it will yield bad results. The need to dust often stems from this area, since when I am experiencing excess breakage (what I define as more than 5 ends over a period of a few days), I know its time to dust. Also this section sheds the most during my excessive shedding phases, which is why this section feels significantly thinner compared to its neighbor on the left side. I definitely do not show preferential treatment for certain quadrants of my hair, so I am not sure why this is to be the case. I am literally stumped! I wonder if it was years of my hair being wrapped to the right (mind you, my hair has been wrapped like that overnight maybe 5-6 times over the past year).

Well, the only remedies that I can think of are to show this section a little more TLC when M&Sing and deep conditioning and see where this continued journey takes us. It’s not like the section doesn’t grow or even breaks to the point where there is a visible disparity in the length from my right side to my left side, but nevertheless, its noticeable to me and I would like it to stop!

Well, there’s my rant for today. Thanks for listening! 🙂

Update on 2/2/2013: Today I M&Sed the problem area of my hair by dividing it into two sections to see where the most breakage is coming from. I saw where the problem lies in the top part of the area, not the bottom, which affects length (which may explain why I do not see the disparity in length at my hemline despite that area being having more breakage than my left side). I will be continuing to monitor my hair by M&Sing like this for the near future.