Daily Archives: September 27, 2011

Tools of the Trade

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Tips & Tricks Number Four

Remember the doll with the hair that “grew” from her ponytail!? Well, I was thinking that sometimes we search high and low for that magic bullet product that makes growing hair look that easy. LOL!! But, one thing that you’ll read and hear over and over again on the hair sites and YouTube is that attaining length goals isn’t about growth, it’s about retention. It’s not about products either. You see women using a wide spectrum of products with not one being the same, but they have all achieved great lengths. The common thread that I most often see amongst these women is technique. And one of the most important techniques they seem to share is that they handle their hair with tender, loving and patient care.  This includes making sure that the tools they use are as gentle to their hair as they are.

That being said, I wanted to do a post about tools that are gentle to hair, natural or otherwise.

FINGERS:  Okay, I know you guys have probably read this over and over again by now, but finger detangling hair prior to using a comb or exclusively is so beneficial. Starting with your fingers (make sure you nails are smooth and your fingers are hangnail free) enables you to remove shed hairs, snarls and knots that you would otherwise rip through with a comb in sweet oblivion to the damage potentially being done. You are able to feel those knots with your fingers in a way that you can’t with a comb and then gently ease them out with minimal to no damage. I didn’t start finger detangling until this year, but I am a convert! A comb almost never touches my hair anymore.

SEAMLESS WIDE TOOTH COMB: Although I don’t really use a comb too much anymore, they do have their place in the regimens of many. Often, they are used after finger detangling has removed a lot of the shed hair and larger, more difficult knots. A seamless comb is recommended because it will not have the ridges and edges that can snag or damage delicate strands. As you see above, I have both the Jilbere Shower Comb from Sally’s and the Ouidad Double Detangler (my SO secretly loves using the latter ;). I recently came across some wood combs at this Etsy shop, Epstone. I’ve read that wide-tooth handmade wood combs are very good for natural hair as they are seamless, super smooth and help distribute oil down the hair shaft. I’ve never tried them though, so I can’t attest to any of this! Anyone have any feedback on this one?

BOBBY, DOOBIE & HAIR PINS: Many of us use these on the regular. The important thing is to make certain that the tips are secure as raised edges can snag and damage hair. This doesn’t seem to happen with hair pins too much, but the tips of bobby and doobie pins often become ripped. For the $1.99 it costs to buy about 100 of these, it’s not worth damaging the hair to hold onto messed up bobby pins. Just trash them. Also, be careful removing these. If you feel them snagging (sometimes due to a newly accrued raised edge;), don’t rip them out of your hair. Open them as much as possible before removing.

GOODY SPIN PINS: These things are little wonders! You look at them and think, “No way will those will work for natural hair!” Anyone else ever get a round brush stuck in their hair when they were a kid?!? No? Just me? Anywhoooo (*lol*), the Spin Pins glide in and out of  a bun like a hot knife through butter if used properly. I prefer these over bobby pins to secure a bun any day of the week. You don’t need 20 and the edges don’t rip!

BANANA CLIP: This is another favorite of mine for buns, as many of you know! They are great for all kinds of updo as I seem to love to repeatedly demonstrate;)! I’ve used banana clips over and over again and usually don’t pull out one strand removing this from my hair. However, as with any tool, it’s how you use it that makes the difference. So, keep only the base of any style within the teeth of the clip and carefully use and remove it.

SATIN SCRUNCHIES: Rubber bands and elastics with metal parts are a big NO-NO. They will pull and snag hair in the removal process. The smooth surface of a satin or silk scrunchie is far more gentle on the hair. Satin scrunchies can be hard to find though. I found mine in a three pack at Walmart and stocked up on them. So, when you find them, if you wear a lot of ponytails or buns, I’d suggest buying a couple, because you’ll inevitably lose one, or two, or three. At least, I always do!

GOODY OUCHLESS ELASTICS and HEADBANDS: I don’t use the elastics often as the Spin Pins and banana clip have become my preferred tools for buns and the satin scrunchie for ponytails. But, many use these with success and the headbands appear to very good for securing the puffs or buns of those with dense/thick hair. The small black or clear plastic elastics and silicone hair bands are other options that are more gentle on the hair than rubber bands or elastics with metal parts.

GOODY COMFORT FLEX BARRETTES: These are another tool that I LOVE!! If you noticed, the unifying theme for all of these tools are smooth surfaces with no metal parts! Those metal barrettes with joints and clips would ALWAYS snag and rip out my hair. The flex barrettes create no such issue and are great for using in styles and for securing hair in sections when necessary. I often use these to secure the twists in the back of my head together to reduce the big center part when doing a TnC or just when wearing big twists out and about to allow my hair to dry.

ROUND-TEETH JAW CLIPS: I’ve found that the rounded teeth jaw clips are for more gentle on the hair and scalp than the ones with pointy teeth. I have pointy teeth clips that always seem to snarl in my hair, whereas I am able to remove the cips with round teeth with ease. The larger clips are great for securing sectioned hair out of your way when applying henna, products or styling. I find the mini clips to be nice options for making “poofs,” quick buns or other updos with smaller sections like the one pictured below that I detailed here. They would probably be a prettier option than bobby pins for securing shorter hair that doesn’t reach a bun, flat twists or side hair for partial updos.


SOFT BRISTLE BRUSH: Finally, if your hands, products and a scarf don’t do a good enough job smoothing your edges (they don’t for me!), a soft bristle brush is probably needed in your arsenal. Soft bristles are gentle on the hair and work better to distribute natural oils and product down the hair shaft. Boar bristles should be selected over hard and/or synthetic ones.

There are a couple other items in the picture far above that I’ve used with success. I don’t know the names or the brands, but found them all at local drug stores. The common theme in all, again, is that they are smooth, soft or plastic and don’t have any hard metal edges or metal joints which can snag or tear hair.* Ultimately, these are just a few of the many “New and Improved” options out there now!! And, it seems that they just keep coming. Seriously, this isn’t a Goody advertisement and I make no money off of an endorsement. But dang, the Goody folk are really on it!! LOL! They definitely seem to have an agenda to make new, innovative, quick, easy and gentle styling tools!! This means that we no longer have to be satisfied with sub-par and damaging styling and grooming devices. And, when we reduce damage, our hair remains stronger for longer and is able to retain length.

*One caveat, even the most gentle of tools can go horribly awry if not used carefully! So, remember, gentle the hands that use them too!

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What hair/styling tools do you use with success?