Daily Archives: September 10, 2012

Tales of a Transitioner: Nancy’s HairStory

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Describe yourself in 100 words or less.
My name is Nancy and I go by NancyM when I comment on Hairscapdes and other blogs. I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. I have a wonderful husband and 2 great kids. I love to spend time with family and friends.

When did you receive your first relaxer?
After begging my mom for a year, I got my first relaxer when I was 13 years old. I loved it and at the time, it helped me fit in with the other girls at my school, who all had relaxers years before me.

Why did you choose to go natural?
Several reasons; I really can’t point to one. My relaxed hair was well maintained and reached past mid-back length. I just wanted a change. Long relaxed hair just hangs there and really doesn’t do much (AND the longer my hair grew, the thinner it looked). I wanted something different. I also wanted more fullness in my hair, which was impossible for me with long, straight hair. Also, salon visits for me took HOURS because of the length of my hair. I was exhausted. LOL!

Are you a long-term or short-term transitioner, and why?
I’m a long-term transitioner. As of August 2012, I am at 18 months of transitioning. My original plan was to go for 24 months of transitioning, but now that I have more new growth than relaxed ends, the urge to chop is strong. I’m not sure that I’ll make it past this fall, but we’ll see … . My reason for a long-term transition is the same as many others: I didn’t know how I would look with short hair and I wasn’t ready to find out. At this point, however, my new growth is down to my shoulders, so that’s why I may chop earlier than 24 months. My transition has not been as hard as I’d thought it would be, but I credit that to all of the info that can be found online with quality sites like Hairscapades.com, CurlyNikki.com, and others.

What was your initial reaction to your growing natural hair?
First off, I really like it. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to get since I hadn’t seen my natural hair since I was 13. My initial reaction was surprise at the different textures that I’m finding on my head. So far, I’ve found looser coily hair in the front and nape and kinky-coily hair in the middle/crown. Also, I notice that my new growth can be dry and needs more moisture than my relaxed hair does.

How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
Most of my family and friends didn’t notice that I was transitioning until I told them. However, I’ve received only positive responses. As my husband says, “Whatever makes you happy makes me happy.” 🙂

What is your transition routine?
My regimen is pretty simple:

  • Daily: Moisturize and seal (yes, I put some form of moisture and/or oil in my hair everyday); Sleep with a satin scarf AND on a satin pillowcase – this is a habit from my relaxed days that I will never change.
  • Weekly: Pre-poo with an oil and sometimes conditioner; shampoo wash; condition; apply leave-in; then roller or rod set ( I also use a hooded dryer at times to speed the drying process when I can’t air dry).
  • Monthly: Henna gloss; deep condition; then roller or rod set; Protein treatment (sometimes I do this quarterly); I also trim my relaxed ends as needed.

What is your staple transition hair style?
My staple transition style is definitely a bun or ponytail; however, I do the occasional braid out or half up/half down style as well.

What techniques/products do you to manage the demarcation line between your relaxed and natural hair? 
I manage the two textures by keeping my hair well moisturized. As I mentioned, I moisturize every day. I was a product junkie for the first 6 months of my transition, but these products have stood the test of time:

  • Shampoo: One ‘n Only Argan Oil Moisturizing Shampoo; Suave Naturals Almond + Shea Shampoo; Aussie Moist Shampoo; Tresemmé Naturals Moisture Shampoo
  • Conditioners: One ‘n Only Argan Oil Moisturizing Conditioner; Suave Naturals Almond + Shea Conditioner; Aussie Moist Conditioner; Tresemmé Naturals Moisture Conditioner or Moisture Rich Conditioner
  • Leave-ins: One ‘n Only Styling Cream; Infusium 23; Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine; Herbal Essences Long-Term Relationship
  • Moisturizers: Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil Moisturizer; Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in
  • Oils: Coconut oil (must have this oil on hand at all times); argan oil; olive oil; sweet almond oil; grapeseed oil
  • Henna: Jamila henna; I use the same method that CurlyNikki has posted on her site under Henna Gloss.
  • Protein: I use the ApHogee 2 Minute Reconstructor

Of course, I know that these some of these products may change once I’m fully natural.

What is the most challenging part of transitioning and how have you been able to overcome or cope with it?
The most challenging part of transitioning was making the decision to do it. I had been considering going natural for years before I actually did it. I think that the wealth of info on the internet and sites like this one really helped me conduct the research I needed to move forward with this decision … and I haven’t regretted it at all.

What has been the most fun/best part of going natural? What do you love most about your natural hair and/or going natural?
I LOVE HENNA! This has been the single best thing I’ve done to my hair! I would have never even tried it had I not read your story and Nikki’s story on CurlyNikki.com. Since I’ve started to henna back in August 2011, my dandruff has disappeared, breakage has minimized significantly, and my hair feels great. Also, I know this is going to sound weird, but my scalp looks so healthy when I part my hair. Oh, and the subtle auburn color is the bomb!

Do you have a “hair crush?” If so, who?
Sure! Well of course there’s you, CurllyNikki, Naptural 85, and Jennell of KinkyCurlyKoilyMe, just to name a few.

Who do you follow online (i.e. blog/website, YouTube, Fotki, etc.)?
Same as above and many others… The list is far too long. 🙂

What advice would you give someone who is contemplating going natural and/or becoming discouraged with their natural journey?
My advice would be to do your research, then go for it! For me, having the knowledge gave me the power to make the decision.

Hair Scarves, Shea Moisture Yucca & Aloe Thickening Growth Milk and A Rookie Mistake

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Good morning sunshines ;). Hope you all enjoyed your weekends!! I had a good, long one!! Took Friday off from work to clean house … but fudged around online, watched some videos, wrote some posts and played with my hair instead. Saturday morning, I did most of the much needed housecleaning and then had lunch with the Sci-Five, minus one permanent and two auxiliary members ;). And Sunday, ran a couple quick errands, did some laundry, had a heart-to-heart with a friend and chilled some more :).

Fun with Hair Scarves
Anywho, on to what you’re really here for … hair. *lol* On Friday, in the midst of perusing the hair sites and test driving that Janelle Monae inspired updo, I came across this video tutorial by Naptural85, “10 Ways to Tie a Silk Hair Scarf”:

Since I wasn’t too sure about “Shelli Monae” *lol*, I had no plans to wear it out and about. So, I fell back on my old standby, a high bun. However, this time, I made it with a Goody Ouchless elastic and a few bobby pins (*gasp* no banana clip?!?! IKR?). On Saturday morning, remembering the scarf video I’d just watched the prior day, I decided to “dress up” the bun. But … ummm … yeah. I wasn’t able to pull off any of the styles I tried … The Gypsy Knot (realize now that I didn’t do it correctly) … The Twist Knot … The Criss Cross. All no gos. So, I ended up just tying the scarf at the back and kept it moving! But, I’ll be revisiting some of these soon. Although Whitney touted these as summer scarf styles, I don’t see why they wouldn’t work into the fall!

Shea Moisture Haul & A Review of Yucca & Aloe Thickening Growth Milk
In other news, if you follow my FB page, you know that I hit the Shea Moisture BOGO sale at CVS last week and picked up three products from the Yucca & Baobab line. I have been wanting to try this line for over a year!! “Thicken?!?!”  “Volumize?!?!” I resisted for a looooong time … but it was on now!! I hightailed my way to a local CVS and, after scouring the hair product aisles a few times to no avail, was about to give up and accept that I wasn’t in an area that catered to a SheaMoisture clientele. Then … insert *angels singing* there it was!! Shea Moisture!! And, what’s this?!?! They have the Yucca & Baobab (and Aloe?) line too!! “This is meant to be, because these are the very last bottles of Thickening Growth Milk and Anti-Breakage Mask on the shelf!!” They had a few bottles of the shampoo and a scattering of the Coconut & Hibiscus and Raw Shea products. So, I snagged up the last bottle of Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner to round out my “Get One Free.”

Welp. On Saturday, before making my bun, I tried the Thickening Growth Milk. I smoothed it down my hair from roots to tips in sections. Then, I applied Wild Growth Hair Oil Light to seal. I placed my hair in the bun seen far above. On Sunday afternoon, when I released the bun to pre-poo … let’s just say my hair was just as crunchy as it wanted to be … like KFC extra crispy recipe. Okay, LOL!!  I’m being a little dramatic, but it was greasy and dry like an over-cooked chicken breast and that is not a feeling that I’m used to or like ;)!

So, what’s this about a rookie mistake you ask? Ummmm … yeah … well, you see … what had happened was … I got so caught up in the name of the product … “THICKENING!!! … and it’s claim, ” THIN, FINE HAIR … Thicken, Volumize … ” … I didn’t read the ingredients. DOH!!

Ingredients:
Deionized Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba), Olea Europaea Oil (Olive), Vegetable Glycerin, Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado), Triticum Vulgare Oil (Wheatgerm), Grapeseed Oil, Sorbitol Esters, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cetyl Esters, Yucca Filamentosa Extract, Vegetable Protein, Adansonia Digitata Extract (Baobab), Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), Rosemary Extract, Bamboo Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

So, what are the second and third ingredients? Shea butter and coconut oil, respectively. And, guess what else? It also contains vegetable protein. So, what’s up with the first two ingredients? Well, my hair LOVES coconut oil as a pre-poo. But it DOES not seem to like it much in leave-in products or to seal … KFC. Shea butter is another mixed bag for me. It works pretty well when I mix it with Eco gel to smooth and hold my edges. But, again, my hair does not like it to seal. It just sits on top of my hair, weighing it down and making it dull and ashy-looking!

And then there’s the protein. Now, don’t get me wrong! I have a whole new appreciation for protein and don’t avoid it like the plague as I did for most of 2010-2011. I LOVE what protein has done for my hair. It’s stronger, curlier and has better elasticity due to the treatments that I’ve incorporated into my regimen, which are (and this is the key) always followed with moisturizing conditioners (instant, deep and/or leave-ins). However, that being said, I find that many moisturizers/stylers with protein also leave my hair with a dry, brittle feeling. And, this is not uncommon according to the following post by my fellow blogging friend Michelle (note: this is the article that turned me around and taught me how to properly use protein):

via Radiant Brown Beauty

If you apply a leave in or other “surface” treating product with protein in it, your hair is prone to feeling hard and brittle.  The brittle, hard hair is then susceptible to additional hair breakage –defeating the purpose of using protein in the first place.

And…wait for it…It-Will-Stay-That-Way causing you to have what you think is ”protein sensitivity” until you wash and use a moisturizing conditioner to resoften it. That’s because the application of the products containing protein (other than a deep conditioner)  sits right on top of your hair shaft.

I’ll add one further note to that. In order for protein to fill in the “gaps” in the cuticle and provide the maximum benefit, it has to be small enough to do so, otherwise it just sits on the surface of the hair. Protein that has been broken into smaller segments is called hydrolyzed/hydrolysed (check out this post by JC of Natural Haven for more on that, Size Matters: Protein Conditioning). That vegetable protein in the Thickening Growth Milk? Hydrolyzed? Not so much.

So, the Shea Moisture Yucca & Aloe Thickening Growth Milk has two ingredients that don’t work well for me in stylers/moisturizers, coconut oil and shea butter. It also contains a non-hydrolyzed protein that may or may not have had anything to do with the crispy, crunchy aftermath given that it was so low down on the list … but it was something about which I should have been aware.

All that being said … yeah, I’m gonna need to take a look at the ingredients in the other two products and make a decision about whether or not I’m going to use them or just return the whole Shea Moisture Yucca kit and caboodle!! I hope that by sharing, you can learn from my rookie mistake ;). And … if you’re new to this … here’s the … *imagine this flashing*

Tip of the Day

Pay attention to the first 5-6 ingredients in products that you use, those that work well and those that don’t. These ingredients are of the highest content in the product. Understanding the key ingredients that your hair likes and dislikes, as well as when and where it likes them, can save you a lot of grief, money and time ;)!

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 What ingredients have you learned to avoid? Which ones do you embrace?