Daily Archives: October 18, 2011

Henna and Me: Carla’s HairStory

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How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural my entire life, but I stopped using constant heat (pressing and flat ironing) 9 years ago. I had to grow out years of heat damage.

How long have you been using henna? When did you start?
I first started using henna back in 1994 to color a few highlights I had in my hair. I used Rainbow Henna – at the time it was only available through a catalog. I liked the color, but hated the dryness and mess that it created. But, looking back, I didn’t deep condition. I would do it before getting my hair pressed back then. I used it a few other times and gave it up due to the mess and dryness.

I rediscovered henna around this time last year and I never looked back. I read about body art quality (BAQ) henna on the CurlyNikki blog and decided to give henna a second go round. Though I love the results, I’ve been pretty hit or miss when it comes to using over the past year. After being frustrated with breakage I experience simply because my hair strands are fine to medium, I decided to get on a regular henna schedule to strengthen my hair.

What made you begin using henna?
As I mentioned  in the previous question, I used it for color.  I had no idea that there were other uses for it! I read about the conditioning and strengthening properties, which rekindled my interest.

How would you describe your first experience with henna?
My very first henna experience years ago was a nightmare. This next time around was a little better. It gets better each time. I feel like a pro now!

What type of henna do you use? What is your mix? What is your process?
I’ve been using Jamila henna, but I do want to try other brands. I basically mix it with either warm water with a little apple cider vinegar or full strength hibiscus, earl gray, or green tea. I let the henna sit for a few hours and apply it to freshly shampooed  and towel dried hair hair, or I make a henna gloss by adding cheap conditioner (Suave or Vo5) and sometimes agave or honey to the mix. After I apply it, I smooth my hair to the top of my head, secure it with a clip, sure up the edges with salon coil (cotton) and place a plastic cap on my head. I then tie my head up with a scarf and bonnet and generally leave it in overnight, rinse in the kitchen sink, co-wash, deep condition and style. To get the full color effect, I don’t wash my hair for about three days after application. This allows the color to “mature” on your hair, if color is the goal.

Supplies: I kept my old hair color towels and old shirts that are now exclusively for henna use. I either use a hair butter or castor oil around my edges, neck and ears to keep from getting henna stains on my skin. I also have a box of latex free gloves, processing caps and a box of salon coil I purchased on sale at Sally Beauty so that I will always have henna supplies on hand.

How often do you henna?
Right now, every other week.

How has your hair changed with henna?
I have much less breakage and my hair is stronger than it was before.

How do you feel about henna and the process now?
I love the process. I used to use commercial hair color, but ironically this is much less messy than commercial color, and there’s no toxic smell.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying henna?
Do as much research as possible. Consider the pros and the cons of using henna. Use only BAQ henna. Use old clothes and towels you don’t care about and protect your floors. Make sure you can carve out enough time to do a full henna treatment. For me, a full henna treatment includes mixing up the henna, letting it “cure,” preparing your hair and your bathroom for application, letting it sit on your hair a certain amount of time (minimum 4 hours), rinsing and deep conditioning.  Deep conditioning is a step that should not be ignored.

Anything else that you’d like to add?
Not sure right now, but I am open to any questions.

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September Update: Kendall

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Here’s my star pupil* :), Kendall with her September update!

*Kendall was number one in the GOC First Wave and has been the first to send me her submissions each month since we began the GOC! I realized last night that I never posted her September update! Sorry Kendall!

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Hello Hello!

September flew by without me really having time to focus on all the things I wanted to try! I’ve largely been considering Henna treatments, but I wonder if I should, since so many people report that it loosens your curl pattern? Since I’m transitioning, I’m trying to avoid things that will alter my curl pattern before I even see what it is. So maybe this is something that I will incorporate into my regimen once I am fully natural. All month I stuck with my new go-to hair-do, Twist ‘n Curls and then pulled up into a loose bun with the ends hidden away. It’s gotten a little boring, but it keeps me from playing with it all day. One positive change that I’m sooo excited about is that my hair has started curling on the ends! I think it’s because of my weekly deep conditioning, which is helping to keep my hair shiny and moisturized. In certain areas, the ends of my hair don’t look like they’ve been relaxed for years and years and I don’t have to put magnetic rollers on the ends when I’m setting my twists. They just curl on their own! Miracle of all miracles! You can see the natural curls in the picture kind of spiraling out and doing their own thing! Just makes me more and more excited to be fully natural and see what my hair can do on its own!

So long September!

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That’s awesome Kendall! I agree that you should probably hold off on henna until you let you hair do what it do! You and it are both absolutely gorgeous!! 

Stay tuned for Kendall’s Transitioning HairStory … coming soon to a Hairscapades near you;)!!

A Bonnet for Every Occasion

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Tips & Tricks: Number Seven

Alright, I admit it. I’m not just a product junkie. I’m also a “bonnet” junkie! You see, although I use a satin pillowcase (I own five *smh*) to avoid the moisture robbing effect of cotton, I tend to toss and turn a lot during the night. So, without some type of additional hair protection, I’d have two potential problems: crazy morning hair and friction damaged strands. In order to ensure that I have hair that I can easily coax back into submission in the morning and to reduce excessive movement and rubbing of my hair during the night, I employ satin “headgear” as part of my daily protective routine. This is one of the “little” things that I do on a daily basis to protect my strands from mechanical damage so that I can achieve my Grow Out Challenge goal.

Anywho, over the last year or two, I have amassed quite a collection of head coverings. I didn’t realize how many until I stopped one day to look at a bonnet in my vanity and saw that it was stuffed far past capacity with multiple silk and satin scarfs, do rags, hair “socks” and … well … more bonnets! You see, I’d come to realize that no single bonnet or scarf works for every style. Therefore, I gradually purchased several different head wraps based upon my style protection needs. So, I figured I’d share those that I’ve acquired and the styles for which I use them. ‘Cuz, you know, Sharing is Caring ;)!!

Satin/Silk Scarf: Keeps edges controlled and protected when wearing hair in a high or mid-height bun or pineappled. Tips: Place a bonnet over the scarf when wearing a high bun to keep the bun protected and neat as well. Also, if you have problems with scarf slippage, try securing it with a few large flat bobby pins (aka doobie pins) around the front perimeter before putting on the bonnet. I’ve found that this helps keep my scarf AND bonnet in place during the night. 

Medium-Sized Satin Bonnet: Twist and Curl sets, roller sets (small to medium-sized rollers), pincurls, cornrows, flat-twists, small buns, TWAs, short to medium length WnGs, finger coils, twists and other “low profile” sets/styles.

Large Bonnet: Big, high buns, large roller sets, WnGs, finger coils and twists on BAAs and medium length curls/coils.

“Do Rag” Style Scarf: These are good for low buns (loose hair, braided or twists) as they create a “hood” to keep hair smooth and controlled all the way to the bun. This is also another good option for “low profile” styles that you want to keep smooth.

Pocket Bonnet: As CurlyNikki has already demonstrated, these are great for medium to long loose twists and braids. They keep hair smooth at the hairline and enclose the length and ends of the hair, but are roomy enough to prevent “smooshing” and flattening of the twists and braids.

Knee-Length Half Slip: Yup, that’s what I said. LOL! Necessity is the mother of invention! Regular bonnets would crush and flatten my WnGs back in the day (they weren’t as long, but they were bigger!) and sleeping with loose hair wasn’t an option as I would wake up with a wild, matted, curl-flattened and lopsided mess. So, as I mentioned in this post last week, I came up with an alternative. I started using a half slip, secured at the open hanging end with a hair elastic to create a roomy bonnet. So, this could be a solution for those with big or long hair for which a bonnet and/or the pineapple just isn’t working for your WnG, braid/twist out or TnC.

Hair Net: Although this isn’t a bonnet per se, it is a good option for those of us who like to do wet or “damp” sets, but whose hair takes forever and a day to dry! It provides control without sacrificing airflow. However, since hair is exposed, I would strongly recommend sleeping on a satin bonnet too. (Note: I picked up this clever tip from this post by Curly Nikki Guest Blogger G G.)  

With the exception of the first silk scarf and the half-slip, I found all of these items at my local Sally Beauty Supply for less than $4 each! And, I still didn’t show you all of my headgear. Don’t even get me started on what I might be wearing to bed for a henna treatment or overnight DC!

What?!?! Don’t act like it’s just me!! LOL!!

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What do you wear to bed at night? Does it change based upon your style?