Category Archives: GOC

I’ve Become A Straight Hair Natural (without Heat Damage!!)

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And I like it!! That’s right, I said it. I’ve been natural for 15 years, big chopped twice, and have nothing to prove. I love my natural curls. However, right now, I love the convenience and ease of straight hair a lot more! And, sometimes, that’s really all there is to it.

Anywho, with the arrival of the cooler and dryer air of autumn, it seemed timely for a straight hair post. So I’m about to share why I began straightening my hair regularly and how I have managed to do so for the majority of the last year without suffering heat damage (the latter of which always seems to be the mythical unicorn of the natural world ;)).

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Anywho, I started straightening my hair around the 5th month of my pregnancy last year. When I realized that I could get at least 4 weeks out of straightened hair (sometimes 6), it was a no brainer given my increasing ungainliness and fatigue. When I had Wyntr in January, it again made sense as taking care of a newborn is two full-time jobs and I needed to give up my part-time (i.e. my hair on wash day). Then, as I was coming up on 3 months post-partum, I decided to straighten as a preemptive move to combat the threat of post-partum shedding. I figured that it would allow me to comb my hair between wash days in order to get rid of excessive shedding, making detangling easier when I did get around to washing it.

That’s the why. Following is the how. But first, two caveats. Number one: I do not care about having perfect hair 24/7. I don’t aim for bone straight hair and I live in a bun 99% of the time (Hello!! 8 month old!!). So, if you are looking for advice on keeping your natural hair straight and “laid” without heat damage … ummm … this may not be for you. Number two: I don’t have scalp issues, so I can easily go 4 weeks between wash days without excessive scalp build up/flakes.

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PREPARE & PROTECT, PROCESS, PRESERVE 

Following are the steps I take and my products of choice. I don’t straighten my hair any more often than once every four weeks and if I can stretch it longer, I do.

PREPARE & PROTECT:

  • Pre-poo to moisturize (virgin coconut oil mixed with Aubrey Organics GPB and/or Honeysuckle Rose)
  • Clarify to start with a clean base (Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo)
  • Protein treat to strengthen (Sally’s GVP Joico K-Pak)
  • Deep Condition to moisturize (Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm)
  • Apply a leave-in* conditioner (small amount of Kinky Curly Knot Today mixed with aloe vera juice)
  • Apply a heat Protectant* (Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist)

*Note: I’ve found that it’s very important to use a leave-in and heat protectant that are light and don’t leave my hair tacky. This allows my hair to glide/flow once straighten and reduces the amount of lint and dust that it attracts.

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PROCESS:

  • Choose one or the other (this controls the amount of heat used on the hair):
    • Blow-out slightly damp hair OR
    • Air dry hair stretched (in 2-4 braids) and flat-iron (usually dry one day and flat-iron the next.
  • If blowing-out:
    • Use a quality tool (Conair Infiniti Pro 3 in 1 Styler with double comb attachment)
  • If flat-ironing:
    • Use a quality tool with temperature control (BaByliss Nano Titanium Pro)
    • Use lower temperatures (280-320º max)
    • Take small 1″ sections
    • Gently comb section well using a medium to fine tooth comb
    • Two to three passes of the flat-iron on each section max
  • Seal/Shine (Shea Moisture Raw Shea Reconstructor Elixir and/or Sally’s GVP Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum)

PRESERVE:

  • Never re-apply heat between washes (that’s a surefire way to cause heat damage).
  • Use heat free styling techniques between wash days: braids, buns, rollersets, curlformers, flexirods, pin curls, etc.
  • Bun, braid, pineapple, or pin-curl hair at night.
  • Use a satin bonnet or scarf and sleep on a satin pillowcase.
  • Use an edge control paste/gel (Ampro Protein Gel mixed with moisturizer – IKR??? Who knew?!; Curls Blueberry Bliss)
  • Use a terry-lined shower cap.
  • Forget the umbrella for the rain, use a raincoat with drawstring hood.
  • Apply a light moisturizer that doesn’t cause reversion, as needed (Wonder Curl Get Slick Hair Smoothie; Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter).**
  • Apply a light oil as needed to seal moisture/add shine (Shea Moisture Raw Shea Reconstructor Elixir and/or Sally’s GVP Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum).**
  • Oil scalp, as needed (Wild Growth Hair Oil).*
  • Exercise with hair bunned and use an open-ended wig cap under a sweatband. (I’ll admit, I haven’t worked out with any type of consistency since the baby and my work-outs have been moderate in intensity. But, thus far, this has worked for me.)

**Note: Again, it is important to use a light moisturizer and oil for maintenance to avoid tacky hair that attracts lint and dust. By reducing the amount of dirt the hair attracts, straight hair can be maintained for longer.

Finally, I do take a break between straight cycles sometimes with a stretched braid-out, twist-out, and even a WnG once! I also henna or henna gloss when I can. And those are my tips! Hope they help!

(p.s. My hair is the longest that it’s ever been and the fullest it’s been in a long time following this regimen.) 

 

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Are you a straight-hair natural? What are your tips of the trade?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exercise & Natural Hair: Wig Cap for the Win Again

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This is just a quick little tip that I’ve been meaning to share for a while. A while back, I shared this post to tell you all how I started using wig caps to control my crown when air drying braid/twist sets overnight.  The wig cap is a lot easier to use than a hairnet and smooths my hair from temples, to crown, to nape.

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Well, shortly thereafter, I realized that the wig cap was also great for helping preserve my hair while working out. I started using the wig cap last year while wearing my hair in two braids, but then I started using it with straightened hair too. The wig cap keeps my braided or bunned hair flat while allowing my head to breathe and providing an opening for my braids/bun, wherever they are placed. I use an oldie but goodie Dri-Sweat Edge Headband over my edges to absorb/whisk the sweat from my face. Once I’m done working out, I remove the sweatband and wig cap, apply an edge control product/gel, if necessary, and tie my hair down with a satin scarf while I shower, get dressed, and drive to work. The collage below is after two days (bottom left) and two weeks (bottom right) of daily exercise and prior to re-applying an edge control product. 


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Not bad, right??

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How do you preserve your hair when you exercise?

Here We Go … Again!

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And so it begins. Post C-section Project Slim Down, that is. My doctor cleared me to start walking 4 weeks ago as I wanted to start 3 days after I got out of the hospital. However, I never actually got around to it. And, I don’t have any excuse since Pops Wei is at home helping, he takes night shift so that I get plenty of sleep, AND we have an angel baby who sleeps 1-2 hour stretches easy. However, I’m not beating myself up because … ya know … new baby. LOL! I know that there is still a new, dependent little person in the house and a new routine is needed. And, since hers is the most important, everything else needs to be worked around it.

All that being said, it is definitely time to start getting it together as I’ve putting weight on after having dropped all but 3 of the 25-26 pounds I gained. In full disclosure, I’ve also been eating horribly, so I’m up 10 pounds from my weight prior to pregnancy. My current weight is 147 lbs at 5’1″.

So, at my 6 week post-op appointment yesterday, I got the all clear to resume working out, albiet with the caveat that I need to start slowly.

My goal is to get at least 10 minutes of exercise daily, to regain my fitness and flexibility levels, and to get rid of the excess weight, of course. Hopefully, this stomach and back fat will go as I’ve never carried too much weight in my upper body (I’ve also been wearing a Bellefit corset and lubricating my stomach daily as I know the skin and abs needs assistance retracting).

That being said, today was Day 1 of another 10 Minutes A Day for 28 Days of Fitness! How apropos that my starting weight is only one pound less than it was when I did this in 2013 and turned it into 365 Days of Fitness. Hence the title of this post, “Here We Go…Again!”

Lata Gatas!

Trimming Natural Hair and Length Retention

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I straightened my hair about two weeks ago (see that post here). Although I “search and destroy” regularly, my ends were desperately in need of a trim as it had been 10 months since my last professional one. So, the Monday morning after straightening my hair, I reached out to my stylist Tameeka (aka Jaded Tresses) to see if she would be in her NJ location that night. I was hoping that she might be able to slip me in between her other appointments.

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Well, it turned out that it was her son’s birthday and she wasn’t working that night. I was totally bummed, but understood. However, later that day, Tameeka texted me that she was going to Sam’s Club in Edison and couldn’t come to NJ in good conscious without trying to hook me up.  So, she asked if I could meet her at the salon later! Y’all … I was on YouTube trying to figure out how to self-trim when I got the text (and, she suspected that is what I would do)!! LOL!! I was ecstatic that I wouldn’t have to take on that task myself!!

So, I met Tameeka at the salon in South Orange, NJ, where she usually works Monday nights. And, in like 5 minutes flat, she cleaned up my ends and made me a very happy lady.

Left: Prior to trim; Right: After trim

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My hair felt sooooo much better after that trim!!  The thing that I love about Tameeka is that she really listens, understands, and respects my length goals and that when I say that all I want is a small trim, that is what she does. I’m sure other stylist would have tried to chop several inches off of my hair due to the thinner perimeter and would claim that my ends are not healthy, but that has NEVER been an issue with Tameeka. She never says, “Oh, you should take more off” or “your ends are unhealthy” or “It would look better like … .” No, she respects that I know MY hair and really evaluates the condition, and not just the aesthetics, of hair to determine what it needs. And, she has never taken off more than an inch when I have requested a trim only. A non-scissor happy stylist? That’s priceless for me y’all.

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TRIMMING NATURAL HAIR

Anywho, since we’re talking about trimming, I figured I’d take this opportunity to discuss my thoughts on a couple of questions that I’ve seen related to trimming natural hair and trimming in general.

1.  Do naturals need a blunt perimeter/even cut/ends?

In my opinion, if you wear your hair in a curly state the majority of the time, no. I don’t trim, cut my hair to keep my ends even. I trim to eliminate damaged ends that are excessively weathered, knotted and/or split. I do this with regular search and destroy (S&D) missions (usually on wash day) and a professional trim every 6-12 months. I trim in this way because, if I don’t, the damaged ends will inevitably cause collateral damage (i.e. more splits, knots, and weathering), because the “bad” hair snags on healthy adjacent strands and causes friction to the cuticle.

Another reason I don’t worry about a totally blunt/even perimeter is because hair tends to grow at different rates. The front and lower back half of my hair grow a lot faster than my crown. So, I accept that my hair does not grow out evenly or into a blunt shape. What I do try to do is keep the longest layer not too much longer than my shorter crown. When I get trims, I ask Tameeka to trim more off of the longest layer and less off of the shorter layers, to gradually thicken my perimeter. Since I wear my hair in updos and twist or braid and curls the vast majority of the time, my irregular curl pattern and length differences are disguised.

2.  Does trimming the hair stunt or encourage growth?

It does neither. Hair grows from the scalp and is dead the minute it “sprouts” from the scalp. Trimming eliminates weathered, thinned, split and knotted ends. It makes the hair appear healthier, neater, and more aesthetically pleasing to some. It helps reduce and prevent the continuous cycle of splits and breakage. However, it doesn’t encourage growth. Some may call it semantics. However, I want to state for the record that what trimming actually does is help prevent continued breakage, which impacts length retention and can make it seem like the hair is not growing. By trimming damaged ends, the hair will be better able to retain the length that grows, which some see as “encouraging growth.”

That being said, if you constantly trim and hair grows at an average of 1/2 an inch a month, you may trim off all or most of the growth, which will make it seem as if your hair isn’t growing. For example, if your hairs grows an average of a 1/2″ a month, and you get a 1″ trim every 3 months, you are only retaining a 1/2″ of growth instead of 1-1/2″. If your ends are healthy and well-maintained, that is totally unnecessary. This is why some may think that trimming stunts growth. But again, it’s not the growth, it’s the retention that is being impacted by trimming.

So, in conclusion, trimming (or not trimming) impacts length retention, not growth, depending on how it is used. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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How do you trim? How often do you trim?

Breaking One of the Detangling Commandments

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Okay, so I may be (figuratively) hung, drawn, and quartered for this one. Alright … alright … I’m being dramatic. But … I’m about to suggest something that will probably go counter to a “natural hair” great commandment that most have probably read over and over again.

DETANGLE FROM TIPS TO ROOTS ROOTS TO TIPS.

See, what had happened was … I’ve been detangling from TIPS to ROOTS for forever. Aaaaaaand, it has served me well for the most part. But, the last few wash days, I started breaking this rule. Let me premise this by saying that I primarily use my fingers and only pull out the Ouidad Double Detangler once my hair is pretty thoroughly detangled. However, my detangling sessions were becoming more tedious and lengthy due to the length of my hair. I would slather on tons of conditioner, but starting from the tips resulted in me having to work the shed strands in each section down the length of my hair over and over … AND OVER again.

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I didn’t make this. LOL!)

I began to realize that the worst matting was occurring at the roots of my hair and that if I loosened the tangles and shed hair there first, it was taking me less time to detangle, and less time = less manipulation. The trick of it is that I don’t finger detangle DOWN the length of my hair first. I detangle by pulling the strands APART. I’ve seen this referred to as “wish-boning” since you are pulling the strands apart like you would a wishbone (but more gently, of course). This provides space in the hair to allow shed/broken strands to glide out and it also helps loosens knots rather than tightening them. So, I work the strands apart at the roots, THEN I pull loose hair out of and/or down my hair.

Now, I definitely wouldn’t suggest trying the roots to tips approach with a comb as you may end up with more hair in it than on your head.  But, if you finger detangle exclusively or prior to using a tool, than you may find that the roots to tip approach hastens the end of your detangling sessions. And, if you so desire, you can use a comb or brush from tips to roots to polish off the job.

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Do you detangle from tips to roots or roots to tips? What techniques have eased your detangling sessions? 

Growing Long Hair: Diet, Exercise and Vitamins

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I have been asked about the whether diet, exercise, and/or vitamins help hair grow a few times and have seen it posted in some form or the other a lot lately. So, I figured I’d share my thoughts on the subject. I’m not saying I’m an expert, but these are my observations based on the things I’ve learned about hair through reading lots of hair blogs, watching lots of videos, and/or observing through my own experiences.

A good diet, adequate nutrients, hydration, and exercise are foundations for healthy hair and growth. But, many mistake lack of length retention for lack of growth. Unless there is some underlying condition, hair is always growing. If hair is growing elsewhere on your body, it’s growing. And it’s pretty easy to know your growth rate if you relaxed/relax or color/colored your hair. However much new growth you had 4-8 weeks post relaxer/color will tell you your growth rate. The problem often is that the growth is lost to breakage (i.e. the hair is not retaining length).

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So, the assumption is that the hair isn’t growing when, in fact, it is. So, the focus needs to change from growth to retention. All that being said, hair is dead once the strand “erupts” from the scalp. So retention is about preserving dead cells. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and exercising helps build stronger hair IN the scalp. Stronger and healthier live cells inside mean stronger and healthier dead cells outside. And the latter will be better able to retain length with the right protective/retention practices for you.

And those are my thoughts in a nutshell!! Yes, a good diet, exercise, and adequate nutrients play a part in growing healthy hair, but if that hair isn’t retained, you won’t see longer tresses. So, you have to make certain to take care of both ends, literally ;), to see results if long hair is your goal. To learn more about what I do to “grow” my hair long, check out my post, How I Retain Length.

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What have you found helps you grow healthy, strong hair that retains length?

365 Days of Fitness Complete … and Then Some

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This post is a few weeks overdue. I really planned to post it on day 366 … but I just never got it together. I mean, I posted the above pic on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. But, I am aware that a good number of you don’t follow me on those platforms. So, I did mean to do a blog post for those who only follow here. Butttttt … yeah, I just have not been motivated to write more than a caption!! And, I have so many posts that I want to write … but after work, I’m just tired. And on the weekends … still tired?!?!? Blame it on the cold and snowy weather in NJ? I blame it on my self-diagnosed SAD (seasonal affective disorder), although … I’ve been pretty happy. LOL!! Oh well … no more excuses.

So yeah, I finished 365 Days of Fitness with a minimum of 10 minutes of exercise/activity every day on February 17th. The last week was pretty lackluster as I was in Ireland for “holiday” (love that term for vacation) with my mom, sister, and niece.

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We had  long, cool, rainy, castle and green field filled days and I never managed to get up and workout in the morning. So, I mostly just finagled in 10-20 minute of yoga stretches for hip flexibility each night. Gotta say though, I think that’s what I needed as we spent a minimum of 4 hours driving in the car each day and it was more like 6-8 hours on a couple of occasions. So, I was very stiff and sore and the stretching was welcome!

Anywho, we returned from Ireland the evening of February 16th and so my last two days of 365 Days of Fitness were also quick and sweatless. Add to that, I’ve put a good 10 or *mumble muble* so pounds since the wedding … let’s just say, 10 Minutes a Day is still in full effect. Seventy-five minutes of hot yoga this morning made Day 385.

LESSONS LEARNED

So, what I have I learned over this 365 Days and Then Some? Welp, I can’t say that it was anything earth shattering because I’ve worked out off and on, hard core and moderate over the last 20 years. But, I did learn a few things.

  • 10 Minutes of exercise a day is better than 0 minutes, no matter how little it may seem. And 10 minutes can easily turn into 20-30 minutes with enough time. But, if it doesn’t, it’s okay. Because tomorrow is always another day.
  • I discovered I can do just 10 minutes of exercise a day and not feel guilty that I didn’t do more. See prior bullet!
  • I love green smoothies!! LOL!! During this journey, I started drinking green smoothies after my in-laws (no more *future* in front of that ;)) gave me a NutriBullet for my birthday last year. I used it daily for months … until I broke it by constantly overfilling it (overflowed and burned out the motor, I think). I got another one at my work bridal shower and finally broke it out a couple of weeks ago. So glad to have green smoothies back in my diet!! It just feels good to start most days with my breakfast smoothie (see here).
  • Eating badly is not an excuse to not work-out! This one was HUGE for me!! I use to always fall off of the wagon of exercising when I ate badly a couple of days in a row. I would feel like I had no energy and that I was sapped and bloated. Well, I learned that I can eat Wendy’s, a crapload of food on a cruise, cupcakes, pancakes, burgers, candy, what-have-you, and STILL workout! In fact, I often have MORE energy and get great workouts due to the calorie boost! Given that I often work out in the morning on an empty stomach, working out fully fueled feels a lot easier!! Now, that’s not an excuse to eat junk, it just proves that eating junk is not an excuse ;)!
  • ♥♥♥ yoga!!!!! I mean … really, truly! Although my body is not as young and nubile as it used to be, although I have aches and pains in my 40s that I never experienced in the past, I still find myself learning how to do new things with my body … things I couldn’t even do when I was “young and nubile!” This is all because of yoga.  So, last Sunday, I started a 30 Day Yoga Challenge by DoYouYoga on YouTube! It’s comprised of 10-20 minute videos that I do daily, usually in addition to some other exercise. I feel like it has already paid dividends as hot yoga was awesome this morning!! I had a great practice and everything was flowing, my breath, my flows, my inversions! Can’t wait to see what I feel like after 23 more days!! 

Okay, time to wrap this up! So, on the anniversary of the day I began 365 Days of Fitness (I was just trying to make it through 28 Days back then!!), I recommitted myself to eating well and staying active. I plan to continue to work out daily by doing at least 10 minutes of activity a day. I don’t have any “end game” in sight. I’m still working on getting my eating habits FULLY back in order (I’ve improved over the last couple of weeks, but I’ve still got work to do to be consistent). However, I know that with just a little focus and discipline, I can get these extra pounds off. It’ll be a lot easier this time as I never fell off the fitness wagon! So, though I’m not where I want to be weight -wise, I will not give up. There is no finish line for being healthy and active. It requires a LIFE change. But, I’m up for it.

Onward and upwards my friends!!

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How goes your health and fitness?
Did you learn anything about yourself through exercise and eating well in 2013?