Category Archives: Got Skills?

Trimming Natural Hair and Length Retention

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I straightened my hair about two weeks ago (see that post here). Although I “search and destroy” regularly, my ends were desperately in need of a trim as it had been 10 months since my last professional one. So, the Monday morning after straightening my hair, I reached out to my stylist Tameeka (aka Jaded Tresses) to see if she would be in her NJ location that night. I was hoping that she might be able to slip me in between her other appointments.

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Well, it turned out that it was her son’s birthday and she wasn’t working that night. I was totally bummed, but understood. However, later that day, Tameeka texted me that she was going to Sam’s Club in Edison and couldn’t come to NJ in good conscious without trying to hook me up.  So, she asked if I could meet her at the salon later! Y’all … I was on YouTube trying to figure out how to self-trim when I got the text (and, she suspected that is what I would do)!! LOL!! I was ecstatic that I wouldn’t have to take on that task myself!!

So, I met Tameeka at the salon in South Orange, NJ, where she usually works Monday nights. And, in like 5 minutes flat, she cleaned up my ends and made me a very happy lady.

Left: Prior to trim; Right: After trim

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My hair felt sooooo much better after that trim!!  The thing that I love about Tameeka is that she really listens, understands, and respects my length goals and that when I say that all I want is a small trim, that is what she does. I’m sure other stylist would have tried to chop several inches off of my hair due to the thinner perimeter and would claim that my ends are not healthy, but that has NEVER been an issue with Tameeka. She never says, “Oh, you should take more off” or “your ends are unhealthy” or “It would look better like … .” No, she respects that I know MY hair and really evaluates the condition, and not just the aesthetics, of hair to determine what it needs. And, she has never taken off more than an inch when I have requested a trim only. A non-scissor happy stylist? That’s priceless for me y’all.

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TRIMMING NATURAL HAIR

Anywho, since we’re talking about trimming, I figured I’d take this opportunity to discuss my thoughts on a couple of questions that I’ve seen related to trimming natural hair and trimming in general.

1.  Do naturals need a blunt perimeter/even cut/ends?

In my opinion, if you wear your hair in a curly state the majority of the time, no. I don’t trim, cut my hair to keep my ends even. I trim to eliminate damaged ends that are excessively weathered, knotted and/or split. I do this with regular search and destroy (S&D) missions (usually on wash day) and a professional trim every 6-12 months. I trim in this way because, if I don’t, the damaged ends will inevitably cause collateral damage (i.e. more splits, knots, and weathering), because the “bad” hair snags on healthy adjacent strands and causes friction to the cuticle.

Another reason I don’t worry about a totally blunt/even perimeter is because hair tends to grow at different rates. The front and lower back half of my hair grow a lot faster than my crown. So, I accept that my hair does not grow out evenly or into a blunt shape. What I do try to do is keep the longest layer not too much longer than my shorter crown. When I get trims, I ask Tameeka to trim more off of the longest layer and less off of the shorter layers, to gradually thicken my perimeter. Since I wear my hair in updos and twist or braid and curls the vast majority of the time, my irregular curl pattern and length differences are disguised.

2.  Does trimming the hair stunt or encourage growth?

It does neither. Hair grows from the scalp and is dead the minute it “sprouts” from the scalp. Trimming eliminates weathered, thinned, split and knotted ends. It makes the hair appear healthier, neater, and more aesthetically pleasing to some. It helps reduce and prevent the continuous cycle of splits and breakage. However, it doesn’t encourage growth. Some may call it semantics. However, I want to state for the record that what trimming actually does is help prevent continued breakage, which impacts length retention and can make it seem like the hair is not growing. By trimming damaged ends, the hair will be better able to retain the length that grows, which some see as “encouraging growth.”

That being said, if you constantly trim and hair grows at an average of 1/2 an inch a month, you may trim off all or most of the growth, which will make it seem as if your hair isn’t growing. For example, if your hairs grows an average of a 1/2″ a month, and you get a 1″ trim every 3 months, you are only retaining a 1/2″ of growth instead of 1-1/2″. If your ends are healthy and well-maintained, that is totally unnecessary. This is why some may think that trimming stunts growth. But again, it’s not the growth, it’s the retention that is being impacted by trimming.

So, in conclusion, trimming (or not trimming) impacts length retention, not growth, depending on how it is used. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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How do you trim? How often do you trim?

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Kay Vel Creme Press Testimonial

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So, remember I told you guys about Kay Vel Creme Press a few weeks ago? If you missed that post, check it out here. Well, I just had to share this testimonial with you from my girl Rhonda, a faithful Hairscapades follower cum friend. She contacted me about an issue that she was having with her daughter’s hair and I suggested Kay Vel, along with a couple other things. This is Rhonda’s Kay Vel story and experience.

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On 12/14/12:

Shelli,

I took my daughter with the 4z hair to a hair salon where she had a press and curl, only to have her hair break so badly from the incident that I feel like an unfit mother. We are back almost to square one when she transitioned (only 3″ of hair). She is taking it in stride, but I am not. I hurt! I hurt!

Moisture – she is lacking moisture, but it seems I can’t keep enough of it in her hair ever. I just don’t know the right combo of products to use. Oh and been using GBP.

I am really catching hell … Kennedy does not want to return to texlaxing and I don’t want to either, BUT I just can’t go on. We have limited styling options and I am so very tired of tackling her hair almost daily. I like her hair blown out, but it reverts so very quickly. If she walks from house to car, her hair will revert. Braids are not an option, because everytime she has had them installed, she has had extreme breakage, especially along the hairline. Her father, my husband, is almost at his wit’s end and is demanding for me to have her hair straightened (texturized). He is not down with team natural as far as Kenendy’s hair is concerned. PLEASE send me some inspiration.

Rhonda

I responded:

Do you think her hair is under or over porous? Have you tried the L.O.C. method on her? Leave-in, oil and then a cream or butter WITHOUT water? It sounds to me like her hair is porous, like it’s absorbing the water in the air. She may need a stronger protein. Have you tried the 2 minute ApHogee on her? I’d be hesitant about the two step, but GPB may not be enough (anything you use, follow with moisture).

Okay, now onto products. Have you tried the Shea Moisture or Cantu lines on her? They are readily available in stores and can probably be returned if they don’t work. Wait a minute, maybe that Kay Vel would be good for doing a blow out on her hair and keeping it from reverting?

Well, last night, after Rhonda e-mailed me an update about her results, I demanded requested a testimonial, and she kindly obliged!

KennedybeforeKayVelby Rhonda

A few weeks ago I reached out to you for some assistance in managing my daughter’s 4c hair. Kennedy BC’d two years ago and we have been struggling mightily ever since. We’ve experienced breakage, lack of length retention, extreme dryness and thinning edges. Trips to the hair salon only exasperated the problem.

So, upon your advice, we shampooed (Elucense Moisture Benefits Poo) and dried most of the moisture with a T-shirt. We then applied Aphogee Keratin Reconstructor for 10 minutes with heat. We allowed the product to cool for 10 minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water (she screams if we rinse with cold water). Again, we sopped up most of the moisture with a T-shirt before DC’ing with Neutrogena Triple Moisture Hair Mask with heat for 45 minutes. Next, we applied Paul Mitchell leave-in conditioner and sectioned her hair in four sections to allow to air dry. After about 30 – 45 minutes, her hair was just damp and we blow dried on medium heat after applying a small amount of Kay Vel to each section. Kennedy’s hair was lightly pressed with a Kizure pressing comb (one pass only) and curled with a ceramic BaByliss flat-iron set at 350° (we added a small amount of Kay Vel to each section before pressing). We were both blown away with the results ~ the product lived fully up to its claim. No reversion, greaseless, no odor or smoke. During the week, we did not have to add a moisturizer to her hair at all. The Kay Vel acted as a sealer and sealed in the moisture that was applied during the wash/conditioning process. We did, however, apply a light application of JBCO to her thinning edges.

Our real test came two weeks later … the wash out.

Fast forward to today. I had been filled with mounting anxiety. You see, we have been rocked with snow, rain and lots of moisture in the air. Through it all, Kennedy’s hair did not revert. Not even alittle bit. It remained shiny and curly. Note: We did not touch up her hair at all … no pressing and/or curling of any sort.

In prep for wash day, we pre-pooed with coconut oil overnight. We rinsed and washed with Elucense, followed by DC’ing with AOHSR with heat for 45 minutes. I was needlessly concerned about heat damage and product build-up. Neither was noted. Kennedy’s curls were not compromised at all. She still has a very dense head of 4c curls. I might even say that her hair was slightly more manageable. It was surprisingly well moisturized. I attribute this to (1) pre-pooing and (2) moisturizing/conditioning.

Our light blow dry and press and curl process was the same as the first time. I wanted to follow the same routine to ensure repeatability and reproducibility. We succeeded. I was even able to use a lower temp on the flat-iron this time (325°). I spoke with Dana Settle, Kay Vel Co-Founder, who shared that many claim to be able to use even less heat with repeated use of Kay Vel Creme Press. That was indeed our experience. On our next wash day, we shall scale the temperature back 15-25 degrees.

Overall, we are exceptionally pleased with the Kay Vel Creme Press and our regimen. Kay Vel Creme Press is a miracle in a jar! While it worked extremely well for Kennedy’s 4c curls, those whose hair straightens quickly with heat, may not realize the true benefit of the product. The incorporation of protein, pre-pooing and Kay Vel Creme Press really helped get us over the hurdle. Kennedy will likely return to her staple (the puff) in the summer when temperatures climb, but for now we are incredibly grateful for all your sage advise and willingness to help! You really did save me from reaching for that jar of texturizer! :-)

Sincerely,

Rhonda

(p.s. The first time, I might add that I did spray her hair with Jane Carter leave-in, which is supposed to have heat protection and detangling properties. The second time, I did not. But, I will incorporate heat protection going forward because it can’t hurt.)

KennedyafterKayVel

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You are VERY welcome Rhonda!! I am so happy that you and Kennedy are off the ledge and received such great results!! But, what I’m most pleased to know is that Kennedy’s hair reverted quickly once washed!!

So, I still don’t think that I would try this on my loose curls and fine strands as I think it might loosen the curl even further. But, I definitely think that this product has potential and would recommend it for those with heartier strands and tighter coils who are experiencing struggles with straightening and/or daily styling.

What about you guys? Do you think Kay Vel is legit??

Moisturized Hair: It Starts on Wash Day

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When I’m in the guise of my alter ego, “Hairscapades” ;), I often receive or read cries for help that go something like this:

“Can someone please recommend a good moisturizer? My hair is always so dry!!”

I came across just such a question this past weekend on CurlyNikki’s Facebook page and I did my best to answer it. As I wrote the response, I realized that my answer to this frequent query might be helpful to other … so this post was “born.”

Now, here are a couple of disclaimers before we get started. One, my hair is a mix of regular and high porosity strands, you may need to modify some of these steps if your hair is under-porous. Two, my suggestions here are for hair that is really in need of moisture. It is not for hair that is over-moisturized and in need of protein to help it retain hydration. For more on dry, brittle hair that may be a result of over-conditioning caused by regular co-washing, overnight baggying, protein avoidance, etc., check out my posts: Moisture and Protein: Finding the Balance and Can I Over-Condition?

6 Steps to Building Sustained Moisture

Okay, now back to the question at hand. When, I see inquiries like the one above, I rarely make product recommendations for “daily” moisturizers. This is because, I think building sustained moisture starts on wash day. I think the importance of this day can sometimes be underestimated. Therefore, the advice I offer is related to techniques (and the products) that I have found successful in hydrating hair so that it will sustain the moisture level between wash days. This is not to say that a moisturizer will not be needed between wash sessions. However, by building hydration levels on wash day, re-moisturizing sessions during the week may be more effective and required less frequently.

So, here we go. These are the steps that I take to hydrate my hair and seal in all that “moisturiffic” goodness;).

“Naked” hair (left); hair with leave-in (right)

1.  Start with a pre-poo (on dry hair) prior to shampooing. Coat hair with a penetrating oil, like coconut, olive, avocado or Vatika (coconut oil base), which has the ability to enter the hair shaft and reach the cortex to moisturize the hair from the inside out. Leave oil on hair under a plastic baggie for a minimum of one hour up to overnight (heat optional).

What I Use: Right now, I’m loving Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose (moisturizing) or GPB Conditioner (protein) mixed with Vatika oil as a pre-poo. I alternate moisture and protein as needed.

2.  Wash with a non-stripping, sulfate free shampoo.

What I Use: DevaCare No Poo (diluted with water in a dye bottle for easier application and slip).

3.  If necessary, apply a moisturizing, cheapie conditioner to thoroughly detangle hair.

What I Use: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HE HH). Best detangler I’ve found for my hair so far.

4.  Deep condition (DC) for 15 minutes to an hour with heat. Then, this is key, COOL and SEAL. Cooling and sealing was a game-changer for me. The short of it is that you remove the heat source and allow the DC to cool in your hair for 10-15 minutes. Then, you dilute a regular daily conditioner in cool/cold water and apply it directly over the DC prior to rinsing everything out with cold water. For more details on this technique, check out my post: Deep Conditioning Tricks … Cool & Seal.

What I Use: I’m really feeling Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm to deep condition right now (the Sally’s GVP version is good too). But, I’m also a fan of Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Conditioner, JessiCurl Weekly Deep Treatment, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Deep Treatment Mask and Carol’s Daughter Tui Hair Smoothie. I use HE HH or Aussie Moist as my “sealing” conditioner.

5.  After rinsing the deep conditioner, apply a leave-in conditioner thoroughly to wet or damp hair.

What I Use: I’ve been getting really good results with Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner as a leave-in. But, I also often rely on a modified Kimmaytube leave-in recipe (2 tbsp Kinky Curly Knot Today, 2 tbsp aloe vera juice – whole leaf, 1 tsp of oil [mix of EVOO, JBCO and jojoba oil]).

6.  Seal in the water, leave-in conditioner and any stylers/moisturizers used with an oil, butter or oil/butter blend.

What I Use: JBCO/EVOO mix.

Doing these things on wash day enables my hair to hold onto moisture throughout the week and between wash sessions. Oh, and if my hair is feeling a little dry a few days into the week, I simply apply a moisturizer (with water as the first ingredient) and re-seal with an oil. Happy hair!!

So, if  you are struggling with dehydrated hair, maybe some or all of these steps will help you!! Good luck!!

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How do you build and lock-in moisture on wash day?

Bald Spots: Help!

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Tips and Tricks: Number Fifteen

Jasmine writes:

Hello, my name is Jasmine and I really hope that you receive this email, because I am just about desperate for a reply from anyone.

I am sixteen years old and I am from Texas. I have been natural all of my life (and sadly, I still don’t know how to take care of my hair at this point). I have done at least 3 big chops in my life and I would like to try and avoid having a fourth one. My hair, in the center especially, is bald because I glued in some tracks. What would you recommend I do to grow my hair back? I have been taking Biotin (2 pills = 2,000 mcg) daily (one at night and the morning) and would like to grow some hair in those bald areas so that I have some hair for my senior pictures coming up in the summer. I always wear my hair in French braids daily, since I can no longer afford to get my hair braided. Please help me!

Thanks in advance.

First, I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I think it’s really important for younger ladies like yourself to be careful with DIY hair treatments like weaves, dyes and chemical relaxers as you can cause damage that could traumatize your scalp and/or seriously damage your hair. I don’t frequent salons often, but as a teenager, my mother applied my relaxers or I went to a salon. So, I would recommend the same if you are contemplating potentially damaging processes.

Next, it is important to remember that hair grows a 1/2 inch a month on average. So, you most likely aren’t going to grow 6-7 inches of hair by summer. However, in regard to your question about what you can do to help grow your hair back, I suggest you attack the problem from three angles.

DIET and EXERCISE:

Diet/Nutrition:
So often it seems that we are looking for the easy fix to our hair problems that comes in the forms of tonics and pills. However, truth be told, I think that nutrition and exercise are probably at the very top of the list of the most critical things to address and help improve the condition of one’s hair. That being said, take a look at your diet. Are you drinking around 60 ounces of water a day or half your body weight? Are you eating enough protein? Leafy and colorful vegetables? Fruit? Do you eat a lot of processed and refined foods like pre-packaged snacks, soda and fast foods that are filled with saturated fats and transfatty acids, added sugars, salts and preservatives? If so, I’d suggest starting there. Here are two good posts that were on BlackGirlLongHair about foods and nutrients that promote growth and healthy hair:

10 Foods for Healthy Hair
13 Nutrients That Promote Hair Growth

Exercise:
In addition, it’s important to make certain that you are getting adequate amounts of cardiovascular activity. Oxygen fed via the blood and circulation are critical to supplying those hair cells with the great nutrients that you are now ingesting ;). Not only will exercise improve your hair, it will improve your health and overall well-being.

TOPICAL PRODUCTS and TECHNIQUES:

Oils, Essential Oils (EOs) and Oil Mixes:
Okay, so though I said that these are often sought as the easy fixes, I think there is something to be said for topical “tonics” and mechanical techniques. There are a variety of essential oils (EOs) that are touted as promoting growth and a variety of homemade recipes that you may want to try. That being said, be careful when using EOs. A few drops will do ya’ … and they need to be heavily diluted in a carrier (base) oil such as jojoba oil, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or virgin coconut oil (VCO). Here are links to a few posts with oil mixes that might help encourage growth:

Essential Oil Mix for Hair Growth (My post that includes an EO mix that I first learned of via MopTopMaven and corroborated was proven effective via clinical studies.)

Product Review Aloe Gro (Her Best Hair’s post on Aloe Gro, a mix of aloe juice and various EOs.)

My Staples: Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) (Some have found success re-growing thinning or non-existent edges by simply applying Jamaican black castor oil [JBCO] to their scalps on a daily basis.)

Scalp Food (Friend, fellow blogger and Grow Out Challenger, Marsha of Hairology, recently posted about how she has been able to regrow a thinning spot at her crown with water and jojoba oil.)

Scalp Massages:
Ultimately, what may be partially responsible for improvements in growth appreciated with these tonics are the regular scalp massages that take place when applying these oils. Scalp massages help stimulate circulation, which helps the hair follicles become receptive to the nutrients and oxygen they need for maximum health. I’d suggest incorporating a scalp massage daily or as often as you can and for as long as you can, up to 10 minutes a day.

Reduce/Eliminate Tension Styles:
French braids are probably fine as you shouldn’t be using a lot of tension with those. However, try to alternate your styles so that tension is not always in the same areas and so that it is minimal.

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LENGTH RETENTION REGIMEN:

Ultimately, it doesn’t make a difference if you grow hair if you don’t retain it. Therefore, it is very important to build and maintain an effective regimen that allows you to keep your hair clean, moisturized and protected. Check out this post on CurlyNikki.com if you need some basic pointers on building a simple, but effective, regimen: Building a Hair Regimen: Keep it Simple.

I would add protective, low-manipulation styling to the regimen line-up, as well as careful and patient handling of your hair every step of the way. You might also be interested in my post, Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day … And Neither is a Hair Regimen. My point there was that it’s not important that you get your regimen perfect overnight, it’s just important that you start to actively think about what you are currently doing and things that you may need to change to improve your results.

Hope that helps!

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What say ye ladies? Any other words of advice to help with bald spots caused by mechanical trauma?

Color Options with BAQ Henna

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Tips & Tricks Number Thirteen

Kendall asks:

I’ve been used to having the freedom to change up my hair style whenever I feel like it. I cut it short, I get bangs, I get a weave to change up my style. But now that I’m trying to transition and want to focus on retaining length, my usual methods of keeping my hair/look interesting are out the window! So now I’m thinking about adding color, BUT I don’t want any chemicals. Is there a way to add color without the use of harsh chemicals or the slight tint you get from Henna?

Why yes. Yes there is! *lol* I’ve often read comments from women who indicate that the would like to try henna, but don’t want the red/orange tint that accompanies it. Well, there is a relatively easy way to obtain a variety of auburns, browns and blacks with henna and it simply involves adding cassia, amla and/or indigo to your henna mix. Now, one thing that you must understand about henna is that it will never lighten your hair as it does not lift color from your strands. Rather, henna colors by depositing a dye molecule which bonds to the keratin in hair. So, the tone/color you achieve is dependent upon your starting hair color, which may be your natural color(s) or color achieved through other chemical processes (commercial dyes, bleaching and/or highlights) and your henna mix ratios. You can go deeper/darker than your starting color(s), but never lighter.

Henna/Indigo Mixes:
So, what are your options? There are so many, I can’t go through them all here. But, here is a list of some color possibilities and the henna mix ratios if your starting color is medium brown:

  • Red highlights: Equal parts henna and cassia
  • Dark Auburn: Henna only
  • Warm Brown: Equal parts henna and indigo
  • Dark Brown: 2/3 henna, 1/3 indigo
  • Darker Brown: 1/3 henna, 2/3 indigo
  • Blue Black: 2 step henna-indigo (henna applied alone, rinsed and then followed with indigo applied alone)
  • Cooler Browns: Mix 1 part amla with 3 parts henna prior to adding indigo

If you’re interested in learning more about the colors you can achieve on your hair color, check out Catherine Cartwright-Jones’s very informative and free e-book, Henna for Hair. The “Quick Mix Chart” on page 55 provides ratios for obtaining various color results on everything from grey to blonde to black hair. For example, if you have light brown hair with grey that you’d like to turn into blonde highlights, you can use cassia, which has a yellow dye molecule. Or, perhaps you’d like to make your blonde highlights or grey strands a strawberry blonde? Try mixing equal parts henna and cassia. The Henna for Hair e-book provides a vast amount of information regarding the benefits of this wonderful little ayuverdic herb, how to use it and many pictures that demonstrate the color possibilities.

More Henna Mixes:
In addition, some add common household ingredients to their henna mixes to enhance color. For example:

  • Add cognac, grape juice, beetroot powder or ground cloves for more intense reds.
  • Add strong black coffee,strong black tea or walnuts for deeper browns.
  • Add red wine for chestnut brown color.

See this post here for more options, recipes and mix ratios. However, I offer this information with the caveat that I’ve never tried any of these! So, I would recommend that you research your choice of “additives” before experimenting and do a strand test as I’ve read that some additions make for a very stinky henna experience and may not impact the color results!

Precautionary Advice on “Natural” Hair Dyes:
One final note, when searching for natural hair color options, be cautious and do your research when contemplating using “boxed” dyes that are purportedly “natural.” I went to a salon last February and, after I explained that I use henna, the stylist began singing the praises of a “new,” ammonia free, natural dye system: L’Oreal Inoa (standing for “Innovative – No Ammonia” … allegedly). Well, a quick internet search when I got home revealed that, although the dye might not contain ammonia, the post-color shampoo does and the ingredient label clearly lists ammonia hydroxide (see article and image of bottle here)! A little more searching also revealed multiple sources that indicate it also contains a high level of PPD, a potential carcinogen.

Ironically enough, Organic Hair Systems, Inoa’s competitor that provided the prior article “exposing” the misnomer, does not appear to be a perfectly natural alternative either. An article on Green Talk explains that Organic Color Systems is simply a trade name and although this hair color line does not contain any ammonia, it does contain small amounts of PPD as well as other chemicals. Therefore, it is neither an “all-natural” nor an organic color option.

So, if you are looking for truly all-natural hair color and are willing to spend a little more time with the process, BAQ henna mixes may be one of your best options. And hey, maybe you’ll end up liking a little red in your life. I know that I LOVE it;)!

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Do you mix henna with indigo, amla and/or cassia to dye your hair a shade of red, brown or black? What’s your starting hair color(s) and your mix?


Pregnant, Tired and Natural

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Chandra asks:

Being in the first trimester of pregnancy has really taken a toll on my energy level. And, I did all that bad-mouthing about PMS?!! This is on a whole different level! So what do you do when you don’t feel like washing, detangling, conditioning, styling or even looking at your hair? I have been mistreating my strands terribly … not protecting it at night, sometimes not moisturizing because I AM DRAINED! Any tips on styles that will hold me over until I feel like dealing with my hair? Thank you!

Okay, I have ABSOLUTELY no direct experience in this regard. So, you may have to take my advice with a grain of salt and accept it as what it is, the well-meaning suggestions of a layman … or woman, to be more precise. That disclaimer aside, here are a few styling options that I think might help get you through this tough time with minimal effort, while still allowing you to maintain the health of your hair.

  • Medium to large twists or braids with extensions. Washing, conditioning and moisturizing will still be necessary, but with far less frequency and without the hassle of detangling. And, moisturizing is as simple as buying a leave-in conditioner or braid sheen spray to use every few days and then sealing with a light oil. This long-term protective style will make your day-to-day styling nominal. But, you still need to wear your satin bonnet or scarf at night and make certain that the braids/twists aren’t too tight or left in too long. Also, make certain to take a break between installs to give your scalp time to rest. This is always important to preserve one’s edges, but may be even more so during pregnancy as undue stress during this time may exacerbate postpartum shedding.
  • Mini or small twists on your own hair. These won’t last as long as the same style done with extensions. However, they still work as an option that can last a week to two and eliminate daily styling. In regard to care, all of the above still applies.
  • Wig it up! There are so many options and you can rock a different look every week if you like! You can cornrow your hair up for the week and rock a wig when out and about. Then, you release your cornrows once a week to every two weeks for wash day. Though you will have to detangle, the amount of time spent doing it will be far reduced as the cornrows will leave hair in a stretched state.

I also found this blog post, Natural Hair While Pregnant and on Bed Rest (ignore the picture! *lol*). The author outlines her regimen, which revolved around keeping her hair in six large braids the majority of the time, washing her hair once every two weeks and wearing a braid out when it was necessary to venture out in public. As you’re not on bed rest, the need to go out is probably far more frequent. So, you might be able to wear a neater version of the 6 braid updo that I detailed here and save the braid out for special occasions, like date night.

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What styles have you worn during pregnancy that were easy on time and effort, without sacrificing the health of your hair?

November GOC Update: Adrienne

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by Adrienne (Second Wave)

Hair:

It was another month of hiding the hair. Only this time, I hid my hair with a wig. The last two weeks of November, I kept my hair in cornrows going straight back and under a wig. I like not having to do my hair, especially with my busier schedule. I do need to make sure I unbraid my hair every weekend to wash and deep condition. My hair is feeling a little dry, so I know I need to moisturize more. I’ve tried deep conditioning with the braids in, but felt like some parts of my hair were missing out. Also I’ve come to accept that I’m just a slow grower. I’m serious, my hair doesn’t even grow ¼ inch a month … I probably get that every three months. It’s snail’s pace slow and I’m at a loss as to why. I’m taking vitamins, I drink water, I’m gentle with my hair, I moisturize and seal … what am I doing wrong? I’ve tried every hair vitamin (biotin, Nioxin, and I’m currently on TreasureLocks Growth Vitamins plus Garlic to lessen shedding). Why does it seem that I’m not seeing any results like everyone else? Maybe my regimen needs to be tweaked with. Maybe I need to DC twice a week instead of once … I don’t know. I’ll take any advice right now.

My plan for December is:

  • Wear two strand flat twists six days a week
  • Spritz and seal hair every night
  • During the day, either wear my wig (with a satin cap underneath) or sometimes I’ll skip the wig and just wrap my hair in a cute scarf.
  • On the seventh day, I’ll take down the twists, mud wash and deep condition, moisturize, seal and twist back up.

Hopefully this will mean I see some length retention.

Exercise:

Yeah … not so much. November wasn’t a very productive month in the working out department and I’m afraid December won’t be any better. My schedule just doesn’t permit lengthy workouts. The most I’ve been doing is taking the dog on a quick twenty-minute run in between jobs. I don’t really have time to get to the gym to lift weights. But I’m vowing to make it to this Body Works class on Saturday mornings, which involves weights, lunges, and well … the whole body, hopefully that’ll do!

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Let’s make this a “Got Skills?” segment too!

Adrienne, it sounds like your regimen is pretty solid to me! I think that you just have to give it time. Remain consistent and keep protecting your hair and ends to promote length retention. Even if your rate of growth is slower, your hair IS growing. If I remember correctly, you have a medical condition that might be impacting your rate of growth too, right? So, you have to consider that in the equation.

I would suggest a few things though. Perhaps try scalp massages (daily or as frequently as you can), with or without oil, to stimulate your follicles. If you can/want to use oil, you could try my essential oil mix or maybe check out the suggestions in BGLH recent article, 8 Herbs and Oils that Promote Hair Growth. Also, take a look at your diet. There was another really good article on BGLH entitled, 13 Nutrients that Promote Hair Growth and is about getting these vitamins and minerals via whole food sources, rather than supplements. Look at your diet and see if you are getting these via your food, rather then relying wholly on supplementation.

Also, try to get your few minutes of exercise in a day. You don’t need a lengthy work-out your 20 minutes sounds fine. You just need something that gets the blood pumping. I definitely think that my growth rate is increased and the health of my hair is improved when I’m exercising regularly. That’s all I got (and I’m sure that it’s more than enough ;))!

What do you think ladies? Any suggestions for promoting hair growth? Have you found something that really works for you?

Crown of Glory … or Thorns?

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Tips & Tricks: Number Nine

I often hear and read many naturals complaining about the hair at the crown of their head. “It’s dry, it’s brittle, it’s dull, it’s coarse, it breaks easily, it’s the kinkiest hair on my head, it’s the hardest to handle!” And, I’m no different. The hair on the left side of my crown is always shorter and more prone to damage than the rest of my hair, always seeming to exhibit breakage and straggily (yes, straggily, it’s a word! ;)) and raggedy ends. Now, I’ve come to learn over the years that this is most likely due to the fact that the hair at one’s crown is usually taking the brunt of the elements, you know: sun, wind, rain, cruddy air and free radicals;). I also always just thought that this exposure simply resulted in a raised cuticle and more porous strands, whereas the hair protected by the crown hair is smoother and far more cooperative.

So, when I started reading hair guru Chicoro’s Grow It! and came to the section on “Damage from the Environment,” I was fascinated to learn that the damage caused by exposure to the elements is a lot deeper than a simple mechanical reaction. You see, Chicoro breaks down that hair exposed to sun without protection actually undergoes a chemical and irreversible change! As you know, the sun can be damaging to the skin due to Ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB. Well, these same UV rays can be damaging to hair and Naturallycurly.com provided an informative post on this topic several years ago.

via NaturallyCurly.com

Most of us are familiar with the lightening of our hair that occurs when we spend hours in the sun in the summer. To many people this is even a desirable side effect of sunbathing. However, this effect is evidence of the destruction of pigment in the hair as a direct result of UV-induced oxidation of melanin particles in the cortex. …UV radiation also can cause cleavage of molecular bonds in the hair, ultimately leading to fracture of the cuticle and the cortex. This can lead to dry, brittle hair, rough texture from damaged cuticles, split ends, and breakage.

However, in my opinion, Chicoro takes the information provided here one step further and actually discusses how the effects of the sun are very similar to those caused by bleaching the hair. She states, “Like bleach, the oxidizing rays from the sun can break down, or change the chemical composition and the components of the hair.” She goes on to indicate that hair contains a chemical group called a thiol group and these groups stabilize the hair by forming disulfide bonds, which contribute greatly to the strength of the hair (Google “hair and disulfide bonds,” you’ll see many articles about the manipulation of disulfide bonds in chemical processes like body waves and relaxers). These thiol groups also make hair slippery … and we know how important slip is. However, once the hair is oxidized by the sun, these bonds actually turn into compounds called sulfonic acids. These acids are sticky and hair with them will tangle more readily. And, that’s never fun. Finally, she drives the nail home with the fact that this change from disulfide bonds to sulfonic acids is permanent.

So, what does all this mean to those of us challenged by recalcitrant crown hair? The simple answer? Prevention and remediation. For “new” hair that hasn’t been excessively exposed to the elements, we need to proactively protect it before damage happens. For older hair that has already undergone this chemical change, we need to take remedial actions to reduce and/or eliminate the resultant effects of damage. In practical terms, this means employing some combination or all of the following techniques:

  • Condition, condition, condition … did I mention condition ;)? Deep condition with moisturizing treatments, as well as effective protein treatments that support the keratin in the hair, based upon your hair’s needs.
  • Moisturize to protect the hair from the sun and combat dryness.
  • Use leave-in products, such as conditioners, stylers and/or sealants, with UV protection (the NaturallyCurly.com article linked above provides a great list of ingredients that are UVA absorbers).
  • Seal with butters and/or oils that offer natural UV protection, such as shea butter or hemp seed oil (I haven’t vetted this info, but found two articles that provide lists of oils that offer sun protection and their corresponding SPF levels. See here and here).
  • Use protective hair coverings like hats and scarfs.
  • Employ protective styling techniques which reduce the amount of hair exposed directly to the sun.
  • Don’t use peroxide or products with drying (non-fatty) alcohols. And please, whatever you do, don’t use lemon or other “sun activated” lightening products on your hair (flashing back on my “Sun In” days!! *shuddering*).

And, don’t forget, just because you can’t see the sun, doesn’t mean you are not being exposed to damaging UV rays. Though the days may be darker as winter approaches in many areas, we must remain vigilant nonetheless (the suggestions above are for cold and windy weather too!). As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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What is the state of your crown?

My Staples: Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)

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Tianna asks:

How many people have used Jamaican Black Castor Oil? Do you see the difference in your hair texture after using it? Does your hair shed from using it?

I was originally going to post this as a “Got Skills?” question. However, JBCO has been in my arsenal for the last year and a half. I wasn’t planning on covering it next in the “My Staples” series, because I was trying to go in wash day order, with Hello Hydration and Aussie Moist being slated for the next post. However, given Tianna’s question, figured I should take this opportunity to talk about JBCO.

Last February, when I first discovered CurlyNikki.com, I learned of the principles of moisturizing and sealing. Unbeknownst to me, I had essentially been doing that with my WnGs, using a leave-in (Infusium 23 or DevaCare One Conditioner) and applying a mix of alcohol-free gel and Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter. However, with newly discovered information about other options in hand, I decided to branch out and experiment. First, I tried shea butter, which Nikki seemed to love. As our hair types appeared similar, I thought it might work well for me. That wasn’t the case. I found that shea butter just seemed to “sit” on top of my hair and made it feel weighed down without feeling particularly soft or moisturized. Next, I decided to try virgin coconut oil (VCO) as it was lighter and I’d read a few good things about it. Well, it was definitely a lot lighter and my ends looked and felt great after applying it to my released TnC. But, by the end of the same day, my ends felt “crispy.” I thought this might have been related to an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse that I’d tried for the first time as well. But, after a couple more uses of VCO without an ACV rinse, I decided that it definitely did not seem to keep my hair feeling soft and moisturized. Therefore, I was still in search of a good sealant and eventually came across this post on CurlyNikki entitled, Battle of Castor Oils. The short of it was that the writer was comparing castor oils for use on her scalp as she’d suffered with eczema for years. She rated JBCO as the best.

After doing a little more research, I decided to venture into the world of JBCO. I wanted to try it on both my scalp and hair. Though I didn’t have any scalp issues, I had read that it could promote thickening of the hair at the roots and growth, both things that I desired (there was a JBCO Edges Re-Growth Challenge running on the CN Forums at the time). I also wanted to try it on my hair to seal as I’d had less then stellar results with shea butter and coconut oil. So, around July of last year, I found the Tropic Isle Living JBCO ($5.99 for 4 oz.) at a BSS that caters to a Black clientele. I was very happy to find this on the ground rather than having to order online and pay shipping!

I started using JBCO on my scalp and hair immediately. The smell has been called “smokey” and “nutty,” and I guess that I would agree. I don’t find it strong, but some do and some even find it intolerable, though it dissipates quickly in my opinion. The consistency is a little thicker than olive oil, but not as thick as regular castor oil. However, despite its viscosity, it’s not sticky, tacky or heavy once applied to hair with a light hand.

When I used it on my scalp, I experienced a lot of itching. Some commenters on the forum thread made references to this being a side effect of JBCO use on the scalp. Some stated that it could just mean that blood flow to the scalp was being stimulated, which meant the hair was going through a growth cycle. However, my scalp is never itchy and it meant to me that it was irritated. In my head, irritation leads to inflammation and scratching, which is counter to growth and can result in excessive shedding. So, I stopped using JBCO on my scalp. But now, I’m not so sure that JBCO was the culprit as I have since realized that amla may have been the source of the problem or, at least, contributed a lot to it. That being said, I may revisit using JBCO on my scalp, just to see if it itches, since I’m no longer using amla.

Now, onto using JBCO on my ends. Different story entirely. O … M … GAWH!! When I tell you that I fell in love with it from the first use, I’m not kidding! I used it on these two strand twists that I’d done and my ends felt like BUTTER! They were sooo soft, supple, smooth, sheeny and moisturized (I know, I know! Oil doesn’t moisturize! Buuuuuut, it seals in moisture and a good sealant keeps moisture in the hair leading to hair that feels moisturized! ;)).

And yeah, it’s been a wrap ever since. I not only use JBCO to seal my ends, I also use it in my Kimmaytube leave-in, add it to some of my DCs and I’ve experimented with it as a pre-poo oil for my ends. I’ve recently started mixing it with EVOO in order to get the penetrating benefits of olive oil with the sealing benefits of JBCO. Using a 50/50 ratio mix, I’m also able to extend my JBCO further and mask the overt smell of olive oil so that I don’t smell like an Italian restaurant!

As to your questions Tianna, I’m assuming that you are asking about JBCO when used on the scalp. As indicated above, I didn’t do that for long, so didn’t notice any type of difference in texture. In regard to shedding, I did experience a lot of shedding during the time I was using JBCO, but I really believe that was due to amla. So, I can’t give you any insights on that. However, there was this recent article by blogger Strawberricurls, who helped her mother regrow her edges! The woman was very nearly bald from her natural hairline to her ear due to damaging weaves and chemicals. Within 5 months, with daily application of JBCO, she completely regrew her edges!!

So now, to the “Got Skills?” part of this post! How about you guys? Anyone use JBCO? If so, how do you use it? How often? What kind of results are you getting (i.e. increased thickness, regrowth of edges, decreased shedding, improved moisture retention, etc.)? What are the pros and the cons? Spill ;)!

September Update: Michelle aka Mickey

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Mickey of the Seventh Wave gives us her GOC status update and … what’s this? A Got Skills question! 

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Day one of twist and curl. GO BEARS!!! Big football fan! :)

So … I have been a bad girl. My birthday was September 25th, so I got my hair straightened! BUT, I plan to wear twists for the next few months!! I plan to do a trim in January, because I think I still have a little perm on my ends *smh*!! They just won’t curl!! So off they go!!! I hope my hair is to somewhat mid-back length by JANUARY!!!

 SO … my regimen has stayed the same. I try not to wash my hair every week, but I get dandruff. Any suggestions to help my dandruff situation? I am planning to try Jane Carters Scalp Renew?? It’s a bit pricey, but Ive heard good things.

Day 2 TnC

(P.S. I want to try Senegalese twists with hair added. I know, I know … my hair is super thick and  long. I’m just scared of breakage and how long it will take!!! Has anyone tried them?)

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I’ve never had a dandruff problem, but I have had a dry, flaky scalp and Neutrogena T-Gel worked very well for me. However, I am definitely not an expert in this area. So, probably best to seek the advice of a professional or someone else who has successfully dealt with controlling/eliminating dandruff. Any takers??