Category Archives: Hairpourri

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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10 Signs You Might Be A “Pro” Natural

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10Signs#IJS

I know there are more, so what would you add to the list ;)?

Oh, oh, oh!!! I just remembered the one that I wanted to add!!

11. You catch yourself doing random length checks (and marveling at shrinkage).

“Heat-Free Hair” Movement

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Okay, so this past weekend, I see the above picture on Instagram … and commenced to drooling. So big, long and lush!!!! So, imagine my jaw drop when I learned this was a weave! You read right!! A weave!! So yeah, I’m just doing this quick post to share these amazing natural weaves by HeatFreeHair.com. The “curly” hair is out of stock right now, but I signed up for the mailing list … ‘cuz, I’m gonna need to investigate!! Because, I’d love to try a texture that was different from my own, just like the one above!! I LOVE it!!

Anywho, here’s a little promo video I found online.

via heatfreehair

And here are some before and afters!!

Pretty wicked awesome, wouldn’t you say?

3/23/2013: UPDATE

I haven’t even watched this video yet! But, it’s Alex of The Good Hair Blog talking about her heat-free hair installation and I knew I had to share!

And to check out her post about the Heat-Free Hair Movement, click here.

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So, whaddaya think? Would you wear a natural-textured weave? Would you wear a texture like yours or would you like to try something a little different?!

Shea Moisture Hair Color System: Takers?

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Okay, so I just posted this on Facebook and had to do it here too!! Who’s planning on trying the new Shea Moisture hair color line?!?!?! You know I’m a henna head, so I “can’t.” But, I am so intrigued!! What color do you want to try?!?! I need someone to send in a review of this (with pics of course)!!! *lol*

(p.s. How DOPE is the artwork on these?!?! What a brilliant marketing move!! These will SOOOOO stand out on the hair color shelves!! Just so eye catching!!)

My girl Gina just shared this video review with me, so I’m returning the favor, even though I haven’t finished watching it yet either!!

via BeeUtifullyMade

Okay, can I say that I thought the $14.99 price point was a little high until I saw the nice sized Raw Shea Moisture shampoo, conditioner and restorative elixir enclosed!! NICE!!!

On another note, DANG!! That was a lot of hair she cut for that “strand test!” “Strand?” That’s singular. That was a hunk!! All they getting out of me is some shed hair from the trash can!! LMBO!!

Okay, let me finish watching this!! LOL!!

Why I Stopped Deep Conditioning Overnight

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Yesterday, I told you that I was up late at night setting my hair. Well, what I left out was the reason I was doing this. You see, I washed my hair around 6 pm or so and applied my deep conditioner at about 7. After eating dinner, watching Beyonce’s half-time performance during the Super Bowl, and waiting a few minutes for them to get the lights back on in the stadium, I fell asleep on the couch. Wei woke me up around 11 pm and I was like, “Ugghhhh. Gotta wash this deep conditioner out and set this hair.”

Now, in the past, I would deep condition overnight in a minute … shoot, in a millisecond. But, over the course of 2011-2012, I learned about the importance of protein,  protein/moisture balance and that I could, in fact, over-condition my hair. I realized that the very soft feeling that my hair had for most of 2011 was because my hair was over-conditioned and that the crazy shedding that I was experiencing in fall 2011 was likely my hair breaking, because it didn’t have enough tensile strength.

However, though I began to incorporate protein into my regimen and felt a great improvement in the strength of my hair and saw my curl pattern return, I still slept in deep conditioners often. Now, the thing is, I didn’t do this to get any additional benefits, rather, I would sleep in my conditioner out of sheer laziness. Sometimes, I’m tired and I just don’t feel like washing it out.

But then, this fall, I read two very interesting and informative articles:

via The Natural Haven

Deep Conditioning: Effect of Time and Temperature/Heat*

1. Increasing the time you leave conditioner on hair allows more of it to adsorb with a maximum adsorption at 20- 30 minutes.

The key ingredients that can stick to hair (surfactants, hydrolysed protein, silicones, polyquats etc) will do so within seconds of applying the conditioner. If left on hair for longer, the amount will in general double within 10 minutes. If left on for another 10-20 minutes, the amount will increase by another 60-100% of the mark set at 10 minutes.

However after 30 minutes from initial application, there are no more increases in conditioner adsorbing to hair. The reason for this is that the hair conditioner simply has no more places on the hair where it can stick to…….all gaps which it can plug and all surfaces where it can attach are occupied. …

[W]hen conditioner is heated to 35°C, at 10 minutes there is slightly more than 5% on hair and at 30 minutes there is slightly more than 10%. Therefore temperature increases adsorption. The rule however remains the same in terms of no further conditioner sticking to the surface after 30  minutes.

*There are two charts in this post that are very helpful in providing visuals for the effects of time and heat on deep conditioning.

and

Do You Need to Deep Condition Your Hair?

A study done on nails (same keratin protein as hair) was performed to find out why nails get weaker with repeated water exposure. The study found that exposing nails to water for over 15 minutes (remembering that at 15 minutes the protein is saturated) led to the keratin coiling different from normal and this was linked to softening and weakness (BBA,pp 210-216,1999).

There are many naturals who will condition their hair for hours at a time because they like the softness that it develops. If you are in this group, you are someone who likes over-conditioned hair. The softness you are feeling is most likely related to the change in the keratin and you should be careful when handling your hair when it is that soft as it will be weaker until it has time to recover its stronger conformation.

(Man, I just LOVE learning about the science behind hair and products!!)

Well, after reading that 1) Conditioning over 30 minutes does not provide any additional benefits as adsorbtion plateaus and 2) Conditioning for hours at a time causes a a change in the keratin that results in softening and weakening, I started re-thinking my post-wash, deep conditioning habits. Now, though I have pretty much stopped deep conditioning overnight and often only deep condition for 30 minutes to an hour, I still condition for 3-4 hours on occasion. But again, it’s not to get any additional benefits … it’s just because I don’t feel like getting up to rinse my hair and style it!! I KNOW!! LOL!! But, I’m really working on keeping deep conditioning down to 30 minutes or a max of an hour!!

Now, although I don’t do post-wash deep conditioning overnight anymore, I still sleep in my pre-poo (Vatika Oil mixed with Aubrey GPB and/or Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose). The reason I do this is because the study done on the benefits of Coconut Oil for pre-pooing demonstrated the effects with overnight application, so that is what is recommended. I also pre-poo my dry, not wet or dampened, hair. However, the Aubrey conditioners do contain water as the first ingredient … so I’ve been torn about mixing them with Vatika Oil for my overnight pre-poo. However, for now, I’ll continue this practice as my hair seems to do great with the combo and doesn’t feel excessively soft. I think the protein in GPB and the “protein-retaining” properties of coconut oil may have something to do with that! And, you know the saying, if it ain’t broke …

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How long do you deep condition? Do you deep condition overnight?

Tales of a Transitioner: My Henna Transitioning Story

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Usually, when we refer to transitioning, we are talking about gradually growing out a relaxer. Sometimes we are talking about heat damage. Well, for me, it was growing out henna-loosened* curls.

If you have followed Hairscapades for a while or have read my Henna and Me HairStory, you know that I experienced SIGNIFICANT curl loosening from henna. I was doing frequent, full strength, whole head applications from June-December 2010. In January 2011, I started to do roots only, full strength applications and a henna gloss (i.e. more conditioner than henna) on my length to keep the color and conditioning benefits of henna without the excessive loosening of my curls. When I say roots only, I mean that I apply henna to the first 3 inches of my hair to gradually get about 3 full strength applications on new growth (so, I overlap previously treated hair for 2 applications as I tend to henna once every 4-8 weeks and my hair grows about 1/2 an inch a month. See my full henna/indigo process here.).

Collage

Top Left: Several years prior to using henna (2005, I believe). My hair is frizzy, but you can get an idea of the curl pattern, which is a mix of 3b/3c.

Top Right: August 2010, after several months of frequent, whole head, full strength henna treatments. This pic was taken the day after I did a treatment and following a haircut/styling session with Tameeka aka Jaded Tresses. This is when I realized that I needed to stop doing so many treatments as my curls had completely changed.

Bottom Left: February 2012, after a little over a year of roots only henna applications. You can see that the top half of my hair is curlier than bottom half.

Bottom Right: Yesterday, January 27, 2013, after 2 years of roots only, full strength henna applications. Though my curls are still a little looser than they were pre-henna, the full length of my hair has now been restored to a more normal curl pattern. I do think that my looser curl pattern is a combo of henna AND hormonal/age-related texture changes, because my nape is straight now and I don’t apply henna to it. It was not straight and actually was curly 5 years ago, though it was always looser than my crown.

So, I essentially transitioned over the last two years. However, rather than transitioning out a relaxer or heat damage, I transitioned out henna loosening.

*Henna does not loosen all natural hair textures. It is more common among those with fine strands and S-wave curls.

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Have you transitioned out of something other than a relaxer during your natural hair journey?

Split End Prevention: Pre-Pooing, Protein and Pruning

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Source: Tamullar (Long Hair Community)

Did you know that there were this many kinds of split ends?!? Pretty nasty, right? Well, I can attest to the validity of this chart. Because, about 2 1/2 years ago, I saw just about every split end on it (except the white spots) in my own head of hair. It was bad y’all. I mean, baaaaaddddd! That’s when I took to carrying around purse scissors … so that I could take split ends to task at a moment’s notice, any time, any place (seriously, I was out of control)!!

2011 NYC Curly Nikki Meet-Up: Told ya!

But now, in 2013, the split ends are few and far in between and have been for quite a while. Let’s put it out there. I have fine strands. So, I I’ll probably always get split ends no matter how protective I am of my hair/ends (unlike my compatriots with strong, thick-strands ;)). But, now I generally only see the vanilla variety, single “split” end … and they tend to be far rarer and very small. No more nasty “feathers,” “trees,” “double Ys,” “incomplete splits” (I call those “needle hole splits!”), “ETCETERA, ETCETERA.” (“The King and I?!?” Anyone, anyone? Okay, moving along.)

Anywho, as I was writing Fairytale v. Blunt Ends and discussing whether uneven, thinner ends can be healthy, I thought about my own hair. Although I have “fairytale” ends, when I examine my strands, they are mostly un-split and healthy in appearance. So, I thought about the techniques and products that I’ve incorporated into my regimen that are probably the most responsible for that. I came up with three things that I think help me keep splits under control:

  • Pre-pooing: Applying coconut oil, or a form of it (in my case Vatika Oil), to hair for an hour to overnight prior to washing reduces/prevents hygral fatigue and protein erosion that generally occur when washing hair. (For more on hygral fatigue, see this informative NaturallyCurly.com article).
  • Protein treatments/reconstructors: Protein treatments help to “patch” cracked, chipped or missing cuticle in damaged hair and “gaps” in porous hair. Protein, when used correctly, temporarily shores hair up against environmental and mechanical damage. (For more on protein, check out the great 2 part protein series on Natural Haven, which starts here.)
  • Pruning: Trim split and knotted ends that have already occurred to prevent collateral damage to healthy adjacent strands and as a prophylactic measure to prevent a cycle of breakage. You see, nothing can permanently fix/repair split ends. So, once you have them, you have to cut them off to get rid of them. There is a myth that, if left unchecked, split ends will travel all the way to the root of the hair. Yeah, have you ever seen that? I know that I haven’t (see above about having almost every split on the chart). What does happen is that a weakened, split hair will typically break somewhere around the split and leave a new split (because the hair doesn’t break off clean/blunt). So the new split forms and may spread until it also breaks. Then another split is left behind and so on and so on. Therefore, cutting off split ends periodically, through search and destroys (my method of choice) and/or periodic trims as needed (once every few months, twice a year or yearly, all depends on your hair), helps prevent a cycle of splits and breakage. (Tip: Make certain trimming scissors are created for that purpose, are sharp and are used for hair only or you can cause more harm than good!)

Ultimately, a lot of things contributed to a reduction in damage and split ends: weekly deep conditioning, gentle detangling, protective styling, etc. However, I think that incorporating pre-pooing, protein and pruning into my regimen are largely responsible for the significant reduction I’ve seen in split ends. And, a reduction in split ends and breakage has allowed me to retain length and grow my hair the longest it has ever been in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t perfect, but it seems to get better and better all of the time:).

1/9/13 length check (back1)

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Is your hair prone to split ends? What do you do to prevent/reduce splits?