Daily Archives: October 5, 2011

Henna for Nail Strength?!

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These are not my hands :), they belong to my sister Shana.

Last year around this time, I was heading to NYCC and suddenly noticed that my nails were all about a half-inch long!! If you knew my nail history ;), you’d be as shocked as I was! You see, although I’ve never had a problem with achieving relatively long hair, I could never “grow” long nails, especially on all ten digits at the same time (I’ve always had this theory that the keratin strength either goes to your hair or your nails, rarely both!). I’ve never had the patience for manicures, nail treatments or tips, especially given the need to regularly maintain them. On the rare occasions that I did get a mani, no matter how long I seemed to wait for my nails to dry, I always smudged and/or chipped one (or several) within hours of leaving the salon.

So, I was ecstatic last Spring when I learned of this new Opi nail lacquer which would be completely dry within minutes and would last for two weeks with a nearly chip proof finish! I proceeded to get my nails done every four weeks (because it lasted that long) for several months. And, my nails grew! But then, the side effects began to manifest. The removal process, which involved heavy-duty chemical solvents and a “chisel,” eventually damaged my nails so badly that one thumbnail looked like a shattered windshield! For months, my nails would bend backwards when I attempted to do anything and the tips would just peel away.

Now, you can understand my surprise when I realized in October that my bare nails were … dare I say it … long, healthy and strong. Super long? No. Super hard? Again, no. But, they were really long for me … so long that I had problems removing my contacts (TMI? lol). I started thinking about what could possibly be the cause of this and it struck me that I’d been using henna religiously for months, sometimes weekly. My nails would often be tinted slightly orange for a week or so after a treatment. Given that nails and hair share the same basic component, keratin, and that henna works it strengthening magic on hair by binding to that component, it stood to reason it could do the same  for nails. So, I began to research henna for nail strength and found this:

via Helium.com

Henna can be used to add strength to nails because it contains a resinous substance that adheres to the surface of the nails. This provides protection from splits, chips and tears. Simply combine one tablespoon of natural colored henna with one and a half tablespoons of water. With a knife or spatula coat each nail in the mix for around five minutes before rinsing off. Only use once a month to prevent a build up of resin.

I then found this post on ehow.com, which provides step by step instructions on How to Make a Nail Strengthening Treatment from henna. Both of these posts reference neutral/natural colored henna, which isn’t henna at all. Rather, it is cassia obovata as many of us on the natural hair circuit know;). However, both my sister and I experienced improved nail health via the rinsing process while doing regular (weekly/bi-weekly) treatments with real henna! As cassia can be difficult to come by on the ground, you may choose to try a BAQ henna “rinse” instead. If you don’t mind a slight orange tint for a few days, simply allow your nails to soak in dye released henna water for a few minutes and rinse. Another option is to mix a henna paste and apply it immediately, prior to dye release, and again rinse after a few minutes. However, I would expect that the strengthening of the latter technique is less than the former as the dye molecule in henna is what binds to keratin and, I assume, provides the most plant resin.

If you are not feeling orange nails (hey, it’s October, they’d be great for Halloween;), you probably do want to go with cassia. I’ve experimented with the Light Mountain Hair Color & Conditioner, Neutral as it contains cassia and I could find it on the ground at Whole Foods. The ingredients are listed as cassia auriculata leaf and lawsonia inermis leaf powder and not cassia obovata though. It seems to work okay, but not as well as good, old-fashioned henna.

Regardless of which option you choose, if you are in search of a nail strengthening product, BAQ henna is an effective, 100% natural, quick and easy alternative to expensive, chemical-laden and/or time intensive commercial treatments. It could be just what the nail doctor ordered!

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Have you experienced improved nail strength and increased length since using henna?

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Etoile’s HairStory!

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The vivacious and entertaining Etoile (GOC Third Wave) shares her Hair Crush and pseudo Big Chop HairStory!!

(And yeah, I jacked and cropped a pic from the Sofistafunk party for this post;)!!)

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Describe yourself in 20 words or less.
Sorry no can do…I am one wordy chick! My name is Etoile and I am a certified, card carrying, licensed Product Junkie, daughter, lover, friend, sister, magic dust sprinkler and paid rain maker … marketing professional by trade.

How long have you been natural and why did you chose to go natural?
I chose to go natural because the chemicals had eaten away at my hair and it was over-processed, dry and damaged almost beyond repair. Going natural or going bald were the only two options … I decided going natural was the only route for me.

Did you transition or big chop?
I transitioned for 18 months. I have had long hair for the majority of my life and I was not ready to lose my length. I transitioned for so long so that I would be able to continue to wear my two signature styles … buns and ponytails.

What is/was your biggest hair challenge/obstacle?  How did you overcome it or what are you doing now to try to address the problem?
Keeping it moisturized.  What worked on my dead relaxed ends did not work on my natural hair. For now, I am pre-pooing with oil (evoo or jojoba) and I am also making sure to deep condition without fail every single week.

What do you love most about your natural hair and/or about being natural?
I LOVE my coils and curls, I LOVE my big hair, I love the versatility and I love, love, love that no one else in the world has my head of hair.

What is your current regimen?  Has it changed in any major way since you first went natural?
When I began transitioning I had no clue as to what would work or would not work for my hair. Name a product and, yep, I’ve tried it. I did not have a set regimen, I washed too frequently and I did not deep condition often enough. My current regimen consists of: Pre-pooing weekly with oil, either evoo or jojoba. I then wash, shower detangle and deep condition. I apply leave-in conditioner, styler and seal with an oil mix and either wet set on large rollers to bun for the week or do 2 strand twists, which I keep in for 3-4 days and then wear in a twist out until wash day. If I need to moisturize during the week, I do so with a few spritzes of my version of the Kimmaytube leave-in. For more detailed info check me out on the Hairscapade Grow Out Challenge!

What are your Holy Grail and staple products?
Olive oil and jojoba oil. Both products have been LIFE savers for adding much needed moisture to my formerly over-processed locks. I also love my version of the Kimmaytube leave-in condish recipe. Recently added to my mix and I will say are becoming HG products are my Doris New York Leave-In Conditioner and Olive Oil Cream. Both leave my hair very soft, supple and shiny.

What is your “go to” style? Do you wear protective and/or low manipulation styles? If so, how often and why?
My low manipulation style of choice is my bun. I suffer from a serious case of HIH aka Hand In Hair Disease and since I have fallen in love with my coils and curls, I could spend the day playing in them. Keeping my hair pulled up and away keeps my hands out of it and keeps me from having to fuss with it during the day.

How often do you cut/trim your hair and how do you cut it (salon, DIY, straight, curly, in twists)?
I just started seeing Tameeka of Christo Fifth Ave in NYC. She was PHENOMENAL! She listened to me and  gave me a fab cut and color. She cut my hair while it was wet and did an amazing job. I would HIGHLY recommend her. For now I plan on listening to my hair and getting it trimmed every 3-4 months, as needed.

Do you have a “hair crush?” If so, who?
Umm you, Curly Nikki, Tracee Ellis Ross and Yvette Nicole Brown.

Who do you follow online (i.e. blog/website, Youtube, Fotki, etc.)?
Hairscapades, CurlyNikki.com, NaturalChica.com, TheGoodHairBlog.com, BGLHonline.com

Where can we find you online?
www.curvealicious.blogspot.com

What advice would you give someone who is contemplating going natural and/or becoming discouraged with their natural journey?
Be patient, whether you chose to transition or big chop immediately, you will have to learn how to care for your natural hair.  You will encounter challenges along the way.  Do not look at another natural and expect your hair to look like hers. No two heads of hair are the same … but the reward is incredible. I have a thick, full head of healthy lucious curls.