Monthly Archives: January 2013

Flat Twist-Out Mohawk

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sawahs_fauxhawkby Sawah of Discovering Natural

It’s always a struggle to style hair that is in the mid-length Afro stage (formerly known as the “Awkward Stage”). I finally found a style that creates fullness for fine thin hair and also makes your curls pop!!

via DiscoveringNatural

What style do you like most when in the Mid Length Afro stage?

Hanging Tough: Day 5 WnG

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Yo! Flaxseed cream gel (FSCG) may be a keeper!! If you remember, I styled my hair in a quick WnG on Saturday using Kinky Curly Knot Today as my leave-in and the FSCG I had whipped up as a styler. I wore my hair down on Saturday and Sunday, then in a bun on Monday and Tuesday (using the FSCG to smooth my edges). Well, yesterday morning, my hair was looking and feeling pretty copacetic when I removed my silk bonnet! So, since I was rushing to get out of the door for work, I just applied some more FSCG to moisturize my sitchee-ation and control some of the frizz. I am pretty pleased with the results! I mean, this is day 5 WnG hair AFTER bunning for 2 days. Of course, soft, hazy lighting always makes everything look better too ;).

On another note, I feel like my hair is shedding less. One reason that I’ve been leaning more towards creating an all-natural and/or DIY regimen is because I’d like to see if it reduces my shedding. Less hair on the ground means more on my head,  means denser hair, means bigger hair!! Anywho, I’ve read some anecdotal evidence about ladies not having a lot of shedding when they follow regimens that include only natural/DIY products. So, figured I’d try to add my own anecdote to the mix. That being said, I’m going to keep the FSG and continue to work on building a natural products regimen (now, I’m not saying organic, just more whole and/or natural ingredients). I’ll report back on whether it seems I’m shedding less or not.

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Do you follow an “all-natural” regimen? If so, do you think that it results in less shedding? 

Hairscapades in Better Than Good Hair!

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2/2/13: Okay ladies! This is it!! I got a personal text from Nik asking me to get the word out! Please buy your copy (or two or three or four … I got 3) of Curly Nikki’s Better Than Good Hair BY 5 PM TODAY!!! In the publishing world, you have one week to make it in the top 20 and BTGH is so close!! So, if you can buy another copy AND/OR get family and friends to do so, TODAY IS THE DAY!!

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CurlyNikkiBetterThanGoodHair

It’s here!!! It’s here!! Okay, my copy isn’t here. But Hairscapades follower Myeisha got her copy of Curly Nikki’s Better Than Good Hair yesterday and shared pictures of my Exercise and Natural Hair article on the Hairscapades Facebook page!!

BTGH1Woot! Woot!

OH!!! And get this!!!! Though they don’t mention any of the contributors by name, Huffington Post had this to say:

via HuffingtonPost.com

“We especially love the sections on how to maintain gorgeous hair while exercising (since that’s proving to present some major health risks) …”

That’s me!!! That’s me!!! LOL!!

Anywho, hopefully I’ll get my copy today! If you haven’t ordered yours, now is a great time to get it!! Because, you can get a $10 Shea Moisture coupon when you do the following:

  1. Buy a print copy of the book between January 29th and February 2nd on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or at your local bookstore.
  2. Register at Shea Moisture Events Giveaway HERE.

How easy is that? And shoot, if you get the coupon, it’s like getting the book for free!! Buuuuut, you have to order and register fast as this offer is only good while supplies last!! (Full details of offer here.)

(Hmmm, I think I may need to pick up a couple more copies for the family myself! Given my PJ ways, you know that I want some Shea Moisture coupons ;).)

WnG with FSG Cream Gel

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Hey all. Just a  quick post to tell you about wash day this weekend. I had a birthday party and a housewarming to attend on Saturday, so I didn’t have much time to style my hair. Therefore, I ended up doing a pretty quick WnG that turned out pretty well.

Wash Day Rundown

  • Pre-pooed with Vatika Oil (30-45 min. w/heat).
  • Shampooed with Aubrey Green Tea Clarifying Shampoo diluted with water and EVOO.
  • Shampooed some more with Shea Moisture (SM) Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo.
  • Conditioned/detangled with SM Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner.
  • Deep conditioned with Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner (30 min. w/heat).
  • Rinsed (no time for cooling and sealing).
  • Lightly and quickly squeezed excess water with a towel (yup, towel, not my Curl Cloths).
  • Applied Kinky Curly Knot Today as my leave-in (straight out the bottle; no time to mix w/AVJ).
  • Applied flaxseed cream gel to hair in sections by smoothing on first, then lightly finger combing.
  • Air dried.

WnG_FSGcreamgel

And, that was it. Let me tell, you, the coconut oil was all caked up in my hair when it was wet and it looked like I might end up with flakes. But, I had high hopes that, once my hair dried, I’d be able to smooth my hair to melt the coconut oil. Didn’t even need to do that though. The heat in the car that dried my hair, also melted the oil and all was well with the world.

So, I’m pretty excited about this FSG cream gel!! My hair feels moisturized, is shiny, has decent definition and the gel provided a light hold. And, I got decent day 2 hair too! I’ve been using a new bonnet that I’ll be sharing with you ladies soon and I think it will help me preserve down styles far better than a pineapple.

WnG_FSGcreamgel_day2

I still want to try a braid out with this FSG cream gel. Maybe this upcoming weekend … but I might be busy, so we’ll see.

Lata Gatas!

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Have you tried anything new lately?

Tales of a Transitioner: My Henna Transitioning Story

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hennatransitionstory

Usually, when we refer to transitioning, we are talking about gradually growing out a relaxer. Sometimes we are talking about heat damage. Well, for me, it was growing out henna-loosened* curls.

If you have followed Hairscapades for a while or have read my Henna and Me HairStory, you know that I experienced SIGNIFICANT curl loosening from henna. I was doing frequent, full strength, whole head applications from June-December 2010. In January 2011, I started to do roots only, full strength applications and a henna gloss (i.e. more conditioner than henna) on my length to keep the color and conditioning benefits of henna without the excessive loosening of my curls. When I say roots only, I mean that I apply henna to the first 3 inches of my hair to gradually get about 3 full strength applications on new growth (so, I overlap previously treated hair for 2 applications as I tend to henna once every 4-8 weeks and my hair grows about 1/2 an inch a month. See my full henna/indigo process here.).

Collage

Top Left: Several years prior to using henna (2005, I believe). My hair is frizzy, but you can get an idea of the curl pattern, which is a mix of 3b/3c.

Top Right: August 2010, after several months of frequent, whole head, full strength henna treatments. This pic was taken the day after I did a treatment and following a haircut/styling session with Tameeka aka Jaded Tresses. This is when I realized that I needed to stop doing so many treatments as my curls had completely changed.

Bottom Left: February 2012, after a little over a year of roots only henna applications. You can see that the top half of my hair is curlier than bottom half.

Bottom Right: Yesterday, January 27, 2013, after 2 years of roots only, full strength henna applications. Though my curls are still a little looser than they were pre-henna, the full length of my hair has now been restored to a more normal curl pattern. I do think that my looser curl pattern is a combo of henna AND hormonal/age-related texture changes, because my nape is straight now and I don’t apply henna to it. It was not straight and actually was curly 5 years ago, though it was always looser than my crown.

So, I essentially transitioned over the last two years. However, rather than transitioning out a relaxer or heat damage, I transitioned out henna loosening.

*Henna does not loosen all natural hair textures. It is more common among those with fine strands and S-wave curls.

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Have you transitioned out of something other than a relaxer during your natural hair journey?

Flaxseed Gel (FSG): The Remix – A Cream Gel Experiment

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About a year ago, I shared a post about the benefits of flaxseed oil and gel for hair (see it here). I tried making the gel in 2010 with disappointing results and last year, I tried Botticelli Botanicals pre-made Flax Gelee with very nice results (and boy did it smell amazing!!). But, being the PJ that I am, it was a passing fancy and I forgot about FSG for a while.

Well, this past weekend, I decided to revisit making my own flaxseed gel (FSG). But, this time, the plan was to make an flaxseed cream gel. “Cream Gel” you ask? Well see, I mentioned here that my last attempt at making FSG resulted in it being too thick. CrystalJ commented on the post and suggested that I whip the gel with a little oil to create a cream gel if that happens again! Well, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a creamy, moisturizing gel, so I decided I wanted to make one regardless of whether I “overcooked” my flaxseeds.

But first, I needed to be reminded of the ratio of seeds to water again, so I reviewed this well-known tutorial, which I’ve watched many times in the past:

via Naptural85

Okay, got it.

Basic Flaxseed (FSG) Gel Recipe

1/4 c. whole flaxseeds
2 c. distilled water

optional: Vitamin E oil (preservative), essential oils, carrier oils

As to what I decided to add to make my FSG cream gel, I decided to add a scoop of coconut oil that was mixed with Maychang oil and a scoop of shea butter.

The BAD (meaning, the mistakes I made):

  • I tried to whip the gel, solid coconut oil and solid shea butter together at once. Not a good idea. It was not working. If using solid oils/butters, whip those FIRST into a smooth consistency, THEN whip in the gel.
  • I probably used too much coconut oil and shea butter. I threw in about 1/4 of a cup each. CrystalJ suggested that I use a “dollop.” The reason I think I used too much is because, when I refrigerated the gel, the coconut turned solid and made little tiny chunks all through the gel.
  • Because the coconut oil solidifies, I am not able to squeeze the gel out of the bottle. It’s too thick, so I have to open the bottle to extract it!
  • As I used a decent amount of oil/butter, the gel doesn’t have as much hold as I think it would have with less oil.

Now the GOOD:

  • It’s very moisturizing!
  • Although the coconut oil made chunks in the gel, the coconut oil does melt from body heat when emulsified in my palms! (I have also placed it in a cup of heated water and that makes the coconut oil melt in the gel.)
  • It has not left any flakes in my hair.
  • I’ve been wearing a bun almost all week and it has provided my edges with a light hold.
  • I’ve been applying it to my edges every morning and it doesn’t seem like I’m getting product build-up.

FSG4FSG3FSG2

So, I plan to keep using this and may make some more gel with the leftover seeds to add to this bottle in order to give it a little more hold. Next time, I’ll definitely use less coconut oil, will add some Vitamin E oil to act as a preservative and will use liquid oils like grapeseed, jojobo and/or EVOO instead of shea butter. I also want to try the cream gel on a braid-out set!! So, I may do that this weekend!

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Have you tried/do you use FSG? What do you think of it? If you make it regularly, what’s your favorite recipe?

Split End Prevention: Pre-Pooing, Protein and Pruning

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Source: Tamullar (Long Hair Community)

Did you know that there were this many kinds of split ends?!? Pretty nasty, right? Well, I can attest to the validity of this chart. Because, about 2 1/2 years ago, I saw just about every split end on it (except the white spots) in my own head of hair. It was bad y’all. I mean, baaaaaddddd! That’s when I took to carrying around purse scissors … so that I could take split ends to task at a moment’s notice, any time, any place (seriously, I was out of control)!!

2011 NYC Curly Nikki Meet-Up: Told ya!

But now, in 2013, the split ends are few and far in between and have been for quite a while. Let’s put it out there. I have fine strands. So, I I’ll probably always get split ends no matter how protective I am of my hair/ends (unlike my compatriots with strong, thick-strands ;)). But, now I generally only see the vanilla variety, single “split” end … and they tend to be far rarer and very small. No more nasty “feathers,” “trees,” “double Ys,” “incomplete splits” (I call those “needle hole splits!”), “ETCETERA, ETCETERA.” (“The King and I?!?” Anyone, anyone? Okay, moving along.)

Anywho, as I was writing Fairytale v. Blunt Ends and discussing whether uneven, thinner ends can be healthy, I thought about my own hair. Although I have “fairytale” ends, when I examine my strands, they are mostly un-split and healthy in appearance. So, I thought about the techniques and products that I’ve incorporated into my regimen that are probably the most responsible for that. I came up with three things that I think help me keep splits under control:

  • Pre-pooing: Applying coconut oil, or a form of it (in my case Vatika Oil), to hair for an hour to overnight prior to washing reduces/prevents hygral fatigue and protein erosion that generally occur when washing hair. (For more on hygral fatigue, see this informative NaturallyCurly.com article).
  • Protein treatments/reconstructors: Protein treatments help to “patch” cracked, chipped or missing cuticle in damaged hair and “gaps” in porous hair. Protein, when used correctly, temporarily shores hair up against environmental and mechanical damage. (For more on protein, check out the great 2 part protein series on Natural Haven, which starts here.)
  • Pruning: Trim split and knotted ends that have already occurred to prevent collateral damage to healthy adjacent strands and as a prophylactic measure to prevent a cycle of breakage. You see, nothing can permanently fix/repair split ends. So, once you have them, you have to cut them off to get rid of them. There is a myth that, if left unchecked, split ends will travel all the way to the root of the hair. Yeah, have you ever seen that? I know that I haven’t (see above about having almost every split on the chart). What does happen is that a weakened, split hair will typically break somewhere around the split and leave a new split (because the hair doesn’t break off cleanly/bluntly). So the new split forms and may spread until it also breaks. Then another split is left behind and so on and so on. Therefore, cutting off split ends periodically, through search and destroys (my method of choice) and/or periodic trims as needed (once every few months, twice a year or yearly, all depends on your hair), helps prevent a cycle of splits and breakage. (Tip: Make certain trimming scissors are created for that purpose, are sharp and are used for hair only or you can cause more harm than good!)

Ultimately, a lot of things contributed to a reduction in damage and split ends: weekly deep conditioning, gentle detangling, protective styling, etc. However, I think that incorporating pre-pooing, protein and pruning into my regimen are largely responsible for the significant reduction I’ve seen in split ends. And, a reduction in split ends and breakage has allowed me to retain length and grow my hair the longest it has ever been in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t perfect, but it seems to get better and better all of the time:).

1/9/13 length check (back1)

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Is your hair prone to split ends? What do you do to prevent/reduce splits?

Be Thankful

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Wei_on_stairsby Weusi

ok …

I live in the suburbs of NJ. It is pretty much a carefree world. But the other night, something was wrong …

On Sunday morning, I couldn’t sleep. In the pre-dawn hours, my non-diagnosed adult attention deficit disorder kicked into overdrive! I crept out of bed, sat on the couch and wrote for hours. I wrote about everything. World politics. Community. Organizational visioning. Family. Business. Creative ideas of all kinds just kept flowing. Some I will share with you (or someone) one day and others will never see the light of day … until my passing and the Smithsonian Institute seeks out the relics of my genius!

man u v tottenham

And, when the sun came up, I watched REAL football from the BPL and AFCON for a few hours. It was great! Chelsea and Manchester United won! Eventually, I grabbed bowl of cereal and fell asleep while some cartoons played in the background. Then, I watched American football. I was glad to see both underdog teams. The 49ers and the Ravens won. Somewhere during the course of the evening, it really hit me that … I did NOTHING AT ALL Sunday.

I flipped a few channels and quickly jumped into semi-nerd mode when I heard Martin Espada on the Bill Moyer Show reading a poem about visiting Fredrick Douglass’s grave site on Obama’s first inauguration. Then he made a comment about Mr. Douglass …

Fredrick Douglass was tireless … he did not see social change as beginning and ending with the election of Abraham Lincoln, so why should we see social change as beginning and ending with the election of Barack Obama.

He also made some other interesting comments …

The essence of gang warfare, according to Luis Rodriguez and others that work with gangs, is the destruction of the mirror image.

(To put this in better context watch the entire show here.)

As I watched, I was reminded that the following day was going to be another historic day in American history. Then Monday arrived. Barack H. Obama publicly accepted his role as President of the United States for a second term. I watched TV coverage of the swearing in, and some of the auxiliary events, on and off for a few hours. I watched the first family and other honored guest as they responded to the festivities. And, although people watching is what I enjoy the most about these type of events, there was no mistaking that Barack Obama was the man of the day. Not in the same way he was in 2009. But, he unquestionably owned the day. Obama is an incredible writer (2013 inaugural speech transcript) and orator.

Now, this is not the time to get into my views of his policies or how he implements them. And, since I don’t know the dude, I won’t comment on if I like him or dislike him. (But we did have a moment where he gave me the brother to brother nod while in the White House Green Room!) This is what I will say …

We live in a time where a generation sees historical changes around the world all of the time. At a button’s click, they witness things in live time that will be in history books for centuries. Over 4 years ago, Obama headed a campaign rooted in the ideas of HOPE and CHANGE. With the public voting him in for a second term, the statement is that CHANGE and HOPE are not just ideas anymore. Obama is the personification of these ideas. The youth of this country have lived through and witnessed what is the equivalent of a dream becoming truth. They saw a miracle happen before their eyes. Now, they can believe anything can happen. Some will believe. Some won’t. There are a few that will even put in the work and put up with the discomfort to make their dreams become a reality.

Barack Obama’s presence in the White House wasn’t even a dream a generation ago. It was unimaginable. Now, although this generation of youth don’t know a time when the US wasn’t at war, they have seen a war end. Obama has shown the youth of the United States something different: A future that has new options. For that … I salute you, President Obama (and the First Family).

AND …

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (What? Did you think I was going to leave him out!?!),

I personally can’t get with the non-violence thing. But, I have a great deal of respect for the movement and for the advances ro which the Civil Rights Movement is directly responsible. Thank you Dr. King!

martin-luther-king-jr-quote

AND …

A belated birthday shout out to THE WORLD’S GREATEST ATHLETE/ACTIVIST …

ali for trayvonAli for Trayvon

That’s all …
be thankful …
SHiNE

In Review: Yes to Blueberries Healthy Hair Repair

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yes to blueberriesby Crystal of Crystal’s Curls & Q’s

I have been on the search for a really good deep conditioner to use along with my Huetiful steamer.  I was browsing Essence.com on January 1 and came across this:

So, I decided I would give it a try. It is at Walgreen’s for $7.99 for the 11.5 oz bottle. There was a $1 off coupon attached to the bottle and you know I used it.

Ingredients:
Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Esters, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Stearyl Dihydroxypropyldimonium Oligosaccharides, Lupine Amino Acids, Fragrance (Parfum)**, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil*, Ipomoea Batatas Root Lees Extract, Glycerin, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Trimethylolpropane Tricaprylate/Tricaprate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.

According to the package:
Blueberries are rich in anti-oxidants to keep hair looking healthy and shiny.
Clover Flower has healing properties to mend damaged locks.
Sunflower contains fatty acids to nourish and protect against breakage.

Product claims:
Reduce breakage for healthier looking hair.
Restore fullness and shine.
98% natural product.

I was beyond ecstatic that there are no sulfates or  silicones in this product. #cgfriendly YAY!!!

*So here are my thoughts regarding this product.*

I used it yesterday, 1/5/12, after washing with Mixed Chicks Sulfate Free Shampoo. I detangled with Tresemme Naturals (as usual). I applied this to my hair and OMG!!!!! I love the consistency. As I applied it, my hair immediately felt moisturized.  This is not a THICK product; it has more of a WET consistency. It has slip. You could detangle with it if you wanted. If it were not $8 a bottle, I would DEFINITELY use it as my detangler.

I parted my hair in 4 sections and applied the product to each section. I then combined both sections on the left and both sections on the right to make 2 big sections separated by a middle part and clipped them.

I then sat under the steamer:

I have added weekly steam treatments to my routine.  See my routine tab.

I then twisted my hair:

I DID NOT RINSE  THE PRODUCT OUT.  (It does say to rinse on the bottle, but I am a REBEL.)
I loved how supple my twists were.  Here is a pic of my twists this morning:

1/6/13

My Final Thoughts:

If you are looking for a good deep conditioner that is not expensive, is readily available in most markets, and is all (98%) natural, this is a GREAT conditioner.  I am no longer on the hunt for a deep conditioner. 

DISCLAIMER:  This review consists of my thoughts on how MY hair responded to this product.  I was not paid for this review and I paid for this product myself.  

Sofn’Free Nothing But Hang Tag Campaign

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They’re here! They’re finally here!! LOL!! So, you may remember that I said in the Best of Hairscapades 2012 post that the name “Hairscapades” would soon be seen on the shelves of stores nationwide in 2013?! Welp! This is it and I am so excited!! Last year, Sofn’Free approached me about using a quote from my Nothing But Mold & Hold Wax Review on a hang tag for the product. After thinking about it for, like, a MILLISECOND, I agreed! And, they’re finally here and being shipped to stores nationwide as we speak!!

via M&M Press Release to BlackNews.com:

M&M Products Company, maker of Sofn’free Nothing But hair care, believes in the power of words and puts them to print on colorful hang tags beginning February 2013. Each hang tag features an expert’s nod of approval for one of seven Nothing But products. Products featuring quotable hang tags will be distributed to every store that carries Nothing But products, including all Sally Beauty Supply, and select Wal-Mart, Kroger, Rite Aid, and independent beauty supply stores nationwide. Additional qualified retailers striving to generate “hair talk” in their aisles are eligible to carry the line with the new tags. Tagged products will remain on shelves for a limited time. …

Among the quoted expert sources is Real Health, the leading health magazine for African Americans; Essence.com’s online Beauty Editor Nicole Melton; celebrity natural-hair stylist Felicia Leatherwood; and natural hair and scalp expert Dr. Kari Williams. Popular beauty bloggers from Lexi With The Curls, Hairscapades, and Toyaboo Tresses on YouTube also give Nothing But kudos with their own quotations.

Nothing But collection with quotable hang tags

So, keep your eyes open in February if you find yourself in Sally’s or the haircare aisle of Wal-Mart, Krogers or Rite Aid and you may just see Hairscapades on the shelves!!!