Daily Archives: June 21, 2011

HairStories – I Want You!



I think I can safely say that we all enjoy a good hair story. We like to read about the challenges and triumphs of others as they help encourage and motivate us on our own journeys. They allow us to see what is attainable. They allow us to see that success is often a result of challenge. They teach us that no journey is perfect and that every adversity can be a learning experience. They teach us that we have more in common than we have differences. In the same regard, they show us that it is our differences that make us so very beautiful (like all the colors in a rainbow). So, this is a forum to share our stories and to discover and learn and grow and … of course … ogle over some hair porn=).

I will be developing a list of interview questions for HairStories (to be posted shortly) that can be used as a format for submissions (see My HairStory for ideas about format and questions to answer). Or, if you prefer, you can write your story anyway you like. Please e-mail me your Big ChopHenna and MeInspiration and/or Transition interview/story with 4-6 pics of your hair (people love seeing BC pics compared to “present day” pics, so submit one of those if you can!).

Send your HairStory and pics to skllswlob@hotmail.com with the subject “HairStory” and either BC, Henna, Inspiration or Transition. If you think there should be another category, please let me know!

(I’m known as the Grammar Officer among my friends and family. So, I’ll probably cast an editorial eye over all submissions to ensure clarity and correct any typos [though I know I’ll miss a few as I’m sure I’ve made a few].)

That being said,



Excessive Shedding: Could Co-Washing Be the Culprit?


As I mentioned yesterday on my review of the Dabur Vatika Hair Fall Control Styling Cream, I’ve been concerned with my shedding for a while now. It all started last year when I was adding amla to my henna in a bid to prevent curl loosening. I used it for approximately 4 months with weekly, then bi-weekly, and eventually monthly henna sessions. Each time I used it and kept it in for a prolonged time (with heat or overnight), I experienced a lot of itching, especially at my nape and a little redness and swelling around my temples. But, I kept using it. Then, in June 2010, I ran out to buy this cute headband from Target (another CurlyNikki induced “PJ” fiend). I put my hair up in a bun and started taking pics. I’d never taken pics of my hair until last year when I began to use henna (we’ll come back to that later). Reviewing the pics, I was loving my bun.

That is, until I got to the picture of the back of my head.  What I saw in the pic made my jaw drop. “What is THAT?!?!”

I removed the headband and took another picture to confirm what I was seeing.

“WHAT THE FAH LA LA IS GOING ON HERE?!?!? Okay, breathe … BREATHE! Your hair has always been baby fine at the nape and not as dense. Maybe henna is thickening the individual strands, but it’s also making them dang near straight. Your hair isn’t as dense there nor as curly now, so just stop using henna on your nape hair.” And that’s what I did. But, I kept using amla. Then, in July, I wore the Senegalese Twists style about which I previously posted. I hadn’t washed or detangled my hair in two weeks, so I explained away this massive hair ball with that.

(Why do we all roll our hair into a hair ball? lol;)

This ball is like post-partum shedding size ya’ll … and I ain’t had no babies=/. But … I kept using amla. I wanted to keep my curls! I also suspected that hormonal shifts due to my “advancing years” might be contributing to what I suspected was thinning hair. I constantly tried to find older pictures of my hair to determine if it was thicker in my late 20s/early 30s, because I swore it was. But, I’d never taken too many pictures, and especially none of my hair. That is, I didn’t take any until I started using henna and read CurlyNikki’s suggestion to chronicle your hair through photographs. So, back to my earlier comment, as I didn’t pay that much attention to my hair before (especially the back), I wasn’t sure if my hair was always that sparce at the nape! But, I knew I’d done damage with microbraids a couple of times over the years and suspected that it was thinner than it had ever been.

Then, I did the dumbest thing ever. I applied amla as a facial. Yup. After 30 minutes, I washed the mask away and watched my face turn pink, swell and a bumpy rash emerge. I finally had to face the truth. I might want to like amla, but amla didn’t like me. In my defense, I kept googling for information on allergic reactions to amla, but came up with mostly nada. I found only one comment on a forum where someone described a similar reaction from amla as a facial. So, I then contacted Catherine at Mehandi.com and she advised that amla is a strong astringent and if one doesn’t have oily skin, it might be over-drying and cause the afore-mentioned reaction. Around this time I had also started reading about how an irritated scalp can result in hair loss. *SMH* Lesson learned. Words of advice ladies: Listen to your scalp, your hair and exercise common sense!!

Anywho, at the beginning of the year, I saw a post on HerBestHair regarding black tea rinses. I started doing some internet research and what I read sounded promising. The caffeine in black tea blocks DHT, the hormone responsible for hair loss. So, I tried to find tutorials on brewing a rinse, but didn’t find any that really provided a formula/ratio except that the tea bags were left to brew for several hours to maximize the caffeine. I didn’t feel like leaving the brew overnight, so I brewed 8 or 9 black tea bags in approximately 2 cups of distilled water. Hey, the more caffeine, the better. Right?! I used these rinses every couple of weeks from January-March, but didn’t notice any appreciable reduction in shedding. I didn’t notice an increase either and boy was I grateful for that when I read this post on CurlyNikki.com in May. The article indicated that too much caffeine can actually cause more shedding!! I realized that I might have been doing more harm than good if I had continued with the black tea rinses at the strength I was brewing. Fortunately, I had given up on them as I didn’t see results and the process just added  steps to my regimen and time that could be used elsewhere.

Then, about a month ago, I was in search of information on breakage v. new hair for a fellow GOC bogger. I came across a little blurb (that I can no longer find=/) that indicated conditioner on the scalp may result in excessive shedding because it softens the roots. I had a “whaaaaaa?!?!!” moment. I’d been a regular co-washer for years and with much success! But, I decided to do a little more googling and found a thread on longhairforums commenting on lots of shedding during conditioning (although different people seem to experience the most shedding at different times). I started pre-pooing and dry detangling due to the fact that wet hair is more fragile than dry. When I dry detangle, I shed, but I was losing so much more hair when I finger detangled after applying conditioner in the shower. I also have fine hair and small roots (it’s very difficult for me to see the white bulb on the end of shed hairs … I tend to feel the end of the strand to confirm the shed). Therefore, the “softening” of the hair at the scalp, due to conditioner, definitely seemed plausible to me.

So, during my subsequent wash days over the last month, I’ve been careful to avoid putting conditioner directly on my scalp. I apply it to my length and shampoo my scalp. I used to only shampoo once a month and would just rinse my scalp with water, but with exercising and sweating heavily, I feel I need to shampoo weekly (w/an SLS free poo). Well, this is the shed hair from my first two sessions avoiding conditioner on my scalp. The shed hair on the left is from the first time I employed this technique and the hair on the left is from the second time, a week later.

Think I may be on to something here ladies!!! So, if you like to co-wash, but lose a lot of hair during the conditioner/detangling process, you might want to see what happens when you keep the conditioner away from your scalp. Although taking photos of your hair or keeping it an a baggie may seem “obsessive” to some;-), the ability to actually compare your shed hair (and/or breakage) can be helpful in “diagnosing” whether it is consistent, increasing and/or decreasing with changes in your regimen and techniques. Again though, always remember to listen to YOUR hair and do what works best for YOU. These are just insights into my own hair that I think might be interesting and/or helpful to others. If black tea rinses are working for you or solely co-washing is, go for yours! As I said above, listen to your hair, your scalp and exercise your common sense in your routine=)!

Lata Gatas!



Chinese Bun w/Braiding Hair


This is a simple and easy style that I discovered on Youtube and modified by adding synthetic hair. If your hair is long and/or thick enough to do this without the added hair, go for yours=)!  It takes about 10-15 minutes to create this bun.  It just looks like a lot of steps because I wanted to make certain I was as descriptive as possible since I’m not able to provide a video tutorial.  The first two steps are just the minimal “supplies.”


One (1) bag of braiding hair sectioned into two even pieces. I used the cheap Kanelekon that was $1.99 for one bag, 3 for $5. I also sprayed it with some Infusium 23 on the premise that it would reduce the friction of the synthetic hair against my hair. Hey, what the heck? You can use any hair, synthetic or natural, in a texture and color that  closely matches your own. Just make sure it’s long.

Hair stick(s) of your choice. I purchased several when I discovered this style. However, the one in my hair is very old and from a trip to St. Maarten or something.


1. Part clean, moisturized and sealed hair to the side of your choice. (Note: My hair is actually 2nd day hair … that’s still pretty clean to me. I did a twist out to stretch hair on wash day. I used the Kimmaytube leave-in and Jamaican Black Castor Oil [JBCO] to seal my ends with the original set and again on just my ends before doing this style.)

2. Gently smooth hair behind your ears towards nape of neck. Split hair into two sections to form two braids. Pull a little hair from one section to the other side to eliminate an obvious part. Clip one section out of the way.

3. Take one half of the braiding hair and grasp it in the middle. Grasp one section of your hair and hold it in a ponytail a little higher than the nape of your neck. Place the middle of the “folded” synthetic hair under your section of hair to create three sections. Your hair is the middle section of the braid and the synthetic hair creates the two sections on either side.

4. Braid the whole length of the synthetic hair, coaxing your hair as smoothly in the braid as possible. The braid does NOT needs to be tight to your scalp nor perfectly braided. When you form the bun, it tightens the hair and conceals any imperfections in the braid. Do NOT burn the ends of the hair as it can be re-used. Repeat the braiding process for the other back section of hair.

5. Take your hair stick and gently thread it slightly above the base of the braids. How high you place the stick determines how high your bun will rest.

6. Now, here’s the complicated part=). Take one braid in each hand and cross each braid under the stick and to the opposite side. Then, continue to wrap the braids over and around the hair stick until you reach the ends, thus forming a bun.

7. Tuck the ends under the bun. I don’t need to use any pins to secure the ends. The hair holds itself in place very securely.

8. I don’t need a perfectly slick style, but I like to smooth my edges somewhat. So, I mixed a little homemade Shealoe with a little Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel and tied a satin scarp around my edges and under the bun. At night, I will usually tie the scarf, but take the bun down and let the braids hang loose. Then, I  just re-set the bun in the morning, usually with a different hair stick choice!

Just some final notes for those of you who might be interested. In these pics, I sectioned out a small area of hair near my face, braided it “folded” it back across my crown and then tucked it into opposite side of the bun. In regard to hair sticks, I purchased a few metal hair sticks from longhairgirl.com. The wood sticks with the silver inlay (I don’t know if it’s visible) were purchased from ZukiImports.com. The brown and black plastic sticks at the end came in a “two set pack” from Sally’s. All of the sticks are under $20. You can place a second stick in this style if you have a set and like to wear two in your bun. Just place the second stick in the position of your choice after your bun is complete (I usually place it at a 45 degree angle above the first stick.

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