Category Archives: Regimen Building

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

allmylifedetangle(Please excuse the possessive “natural’s” that should be a plural.
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?

Guest Blogger on Carol’s Daughter Transitioning Movement

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When I went natural all those many years ago, the first product line that I used that was specifically created for natural black hair was Carol’s Daughter. The Tui Hair Smoothie, Healthy Hair Butter, and Mimosa Hair Honey were HOLY GRAILS in my book!! So, imagine how siced I was when I was given the opportunity to be a guest blogger on TransitioningMovement.com, the blog of Carol’s Daughter!! And, now, my first guest post has been published!! Read the full article here: Three Steps to Maximum Length Retention!

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♥♥♥♥♥♥

Coconut Milk Pre-Poo

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A couple of weeks ago, I was fudging around on YouTube and came across this two part series on using coconut milk as a hair treatment. I was immediately intrigued for two reasons. First, I love me some coconut oil! DON’T NOBODY better say nothin’ bad about COCONUT OIL. ‘Cuz that’s when Bonita goes OFF!! *teehee* Second, the YouTuber’s hair is RIDIC!! I mean, long as all get out and so healthy looking without a broken strand visible to the naked eye (whereas I have a ton from a rough, dry winter :()!! Now, I know her hair is not curly, kinky, or coily. However, I have always believed that we can learn things from a variety of sources and different textures/ethnicities as so many of the practices that promote healthy hair are the same, regardless of race/texture/hair type (i.e. moisture, protein, protection). And, given the benefits of coconut oil (did you see this recent article on CurlyNikki about the amazing penetrating capabilities of coconut oil?!?!?) and how great it works for me, I figured coconut milk (which has coconut oil in it) might be just as awesome.

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Part I: Extracting Coconut Milk

Part II: Applying Coconut Milk

Now, though I love the IDEA of using fresh coconut milk, #aintnobodygottimeforthat.  *LOL* So, I broke out  a can of coconut milk that I had in the cabinet. I had picked up a couple of cans a long time ago for a post-wash avocado/coconut milk/honey DC that didn’t work out too well (made my hair hard). But, I was ready to give this new use of it a go! However, first, I decided to research a little more to see if I could find naturals who had used coconut milk with success. And, I just so happened to come across these posts by my virtual curlfriend, Petra/Emily CottonTop: Coconut Milk Deep Condition and Results – Coconut Milk Pre-Poo.  In these posts, Petra shares a pre-poo recipe:

The recipe
Coconut Milk  – 4 tablespoons
Honey -2 tablespoon
3 of Your Favorite oils – 1 tablespoon each

… and her awesome results. I was sold!

So, I whipped up a batch of coconut-milk with Vatika Oil and EVOO, using only two tablespoons of oil instead of three. I heated the mix and applied to my dry dirty hair. Then I donned a plastic cap and my thermal heat turban for about an hour. I will say that the application process was messy and a bit sticky. But, my wash process went very smoothly and my hair felt stronger, moisturized and my twists were so plump, juicy and shiny!

So, this past weekend, I made a coconut milk pre-poo again with the leftovers from the prior week. This time, I added some Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose conditioner (I was hoping that it would thicken the mix, but it didn’t really) and applied and massaged plain, warmed coconut milk into my scalp too. Though the application process was still a little messy (I think I’ll use a small dye applicator bottle in the future), I had great results again. So, I’m really thinking this will become a staple in my regimen!! I will keep an eye on my hair to make certain that the coconut milk doesn’t begin to make it feel hard or brittle (due to the protein content). If it does, I will reduce the frequency of the treatment.

Finally, I don’t use much coconut milk for the treatment and it only keeps in the fridge for about two weeks it seems. So, I was worried about spoilage and wasting it. Fortunately for me, I discovered that it can be frozen into ice cubes to form convenient “serving sizes” for future use!!!

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So yeah, all engines are a go!! Coconut milk pre-poo treatments are my new boo!! Time will tell if it results in strands as long, seemingly perfectly uniform in length, and unbroken as that YouTuber!! One can only hope ;)!!

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Do you use coconut milk in your regimen? If so, what’s your recipe and process? How often do you use it? What benefits to you see from using it?

Why I Stopped Deep Conditioning Overnight

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Yesterday, I told you that I was up late at night setting my hair. Well, what I left out was the reason I was doing this. You see, I washed my hair around 6 pm or so and applied my deep conditioner at about 7. After eating dinner, watching Beyonce’s half-time performance during the Super Bowl, and waiting a few minutes for them to get the lights back on in the stadium, I fell asleep on the couch. Wei woke me up around 11 pm and I was like, “Ugghhhh. Gotta wash this deep conditioner out and set this hair.”

Now, in the past, I would deep condition overnight in a minute … shoot, in a millisecond. But, over the course of 2011-2012, I learned about the importance of protein,  protein/moisture balance and that I could, in fact, over-condition my hair. I realized that the very soft feeling that my hair had for most of 2011 was because my hair was over-conditioned and that the crazy shedding that I was experiencing in fall 2011 was likely my hair breaking, because it didn’t have enough tensile strength.

However, though I began to incorporate protein into my regimen and felt a great improvement in the strength of my hair and saw my curl pattern return, I still slept in deep conditioners often. Now, the thing is, I didn’t do this to get any additional benefits, rather, I would sleep in my conditioner out of sheer laziness. Sometimes, I’m tired and I just don’t feel like washing it out.

But then, this fall, I read two very interesting and informative articles:

via The Natural Haven

Deep Conditioning: Effect of Time and Temperature/Heat*

1. Increasing the time you leave conditioner on hair allows more of it to adsorb with a maximum adsorption at 20- 30 minutes.

The key ingredients that can stick to hair (surfactants, hydrolysed protein, silicones, polyquats etc) will do so within seconds of applying the conditioner. If left on hair for longer, the amount will in general double within 10 minutes. If left on for another 10-20 minutes, the amount will increase by another 60-100% of the mark set at 10 minutes.

However after 30 minutes from initial application, there are no more increases in conditioner adsorbing to hair. The reason for this is that the hair conditioner simply has no more places on the hair where it can stick to…….all gaps which it can plug and all surfaces where it can attach are occupied. …

[W]hen conditioner is heated to 35°C, at 10 minutes there is slightly more than 5% on hair and at 30 minutes there is slightly more than 10%. Therefore temperature increases adsorption. The rule however remains the same in terms of no further conditioner sticking to the surface after 30  minutes.

*There are two charts in this post that are very helpful in providing visuals for the effects of time and heat on deep conditioning.

and

Do You Need to Deep Condition Your Hair?

A study done on nails (same keratin protein as hair) was performed to find out why nails get weaker with repeated water exposure. The study found that exposing nails to water for over 15 minutes (remembering that at 15 minutes the protein is saturated) led to the keratin coiling different from normal and this was linked to softening and weakness (BBA,pp 210-216,1999).

There are many naturals who will condition their hair for hours at a time because they like the softness that it develops. If you are in this group, you are someone who likes over-conditioned hair. The softness you are feeling is most likely related to the change in the keratin and you should be careful when handling your hair when it is that soft as it will be weaker until it has time to recover its stronger conformation.

(Man, I just LOVE learning about the science behind hair and products!!)

Well, after reading that 1) Conditioning over 30 minutes does not provide any additional benefits as adsorbtion plateaus and 2) Conditioning for hours at a time causes a a change in the keratin that results in softening and weakening, I started re-thinking my post-wash, deep conditioning habits. Now, though I have pretty much stopped deep conditioning overnight and often only deep condition for 30 minutes to an hour, I still condition for 3-4 hours on occasion. But again, it’s not to get any additional benefits … it’s just because I don’t feel like getting up to rinse my hair and style it!! I KNOW!! LOL!! But, I’m really working on keeping deep conditioning down to 30 minutes or a max of an hour!!

Now, although I don’t do post-wash deep conditioning overnight anymore, I still sleep in my pre-poo (Vatika Oil mixed with Aubrey GPB and/or Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose). The reason I do this is because the study done on the benefits of Coconut Oil for pre-pooing demonstrated the effects with overnight application, so that is what is recommended. I also pre-poo my dry, not wet or dampened, hair. However, the Aubrey conditioners do contain water as the first ingredient … so I’ve been torn about mixing them with Vatika Oil for my overnight pre-poo. However, for now, I’ll continue this practice as my hair seems to do great with the combo and doesn’t feel excessively soft. I think the protein in GPB and the “protein-retaining” properties of coconut oil may have something to do with that! And, you know the saying, if it ain’t broke …

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How long do you deep condition? Do you deep condition overnight?

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?

Hair Care Rehab and a Giveaway! *CLOSED*

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Does Your Hair Need an Intervention?
Tips for an Easy 5-Step Rehab

Between blow-drying, teasing, flat-ironing, highlighting and lowlighting— there are many ways to change what Mother Nature gave us. But whether you’re regularly straightening curls, lightening darker hair or vice/versa, there may be a price to pay for rebelling.

But most women don’t think twice about the hair habits they’ve had for years and years, says longtime hair-care advocate and health scientist Audrey Davis-Sivasothy.

“Lackluster, frazzled, overworked hair—that’s the price we pay for handling our hair like a pair of jeans. Hair is a fragile fiber that needs to be handled more like a silk blouse,” says Davis-Sivasothy, author of “Hair Care Rehab,” (www.haircarerehab.com). “Oftentimes, the style we feel the most comfortable with reinforces our bad habits. It’s a problem with all the earmarks of an addiction.”

Substances of choice include:

  • Toxic chemicals (perms, relaxers & colors)
  • Hair OCD (excessive combing, brushing & heat use)
  • Environmental lifestyle (too much exposure to sun, surf, bad air and water)
  • Nutritional/dietary (fad diets, smoking, low water consumption)

As with a drug addiction, once you’ve kicked your habit, you’ll liberate your bad hair, unlocking new dimensions of hair potential, says Davis-Sivasothy, who has also authored the popular “The Science of Black Hair” (www.blackhairscience.com).

She offers a five-step rehab for damaged hair:

  1. Chelating: Products containing oils, conditioners, serums and pomades (or minerals), which make you feel better in the short term, can build up and actually prevent your hair’s ability to hydrate. That’s why the first step in detoxing hair is the use of chelating shampoo, which is typically clear and lifts stubborn buildup from products and hard water. While many chelating shampoos are sulfate-based, there are more sulfate-free products entering the market to accommodate sensitive scalps and hair. Clarifying shampoos are a good substitute when chelating shampoos cannot be found. Moisturizing shampoo should be used for general use after detoxing is complete.
  2. Deep conditioning: After chelating, deep condition for 10 to 15 minutes. This should be done every seven to 10 days using moisturizing conditioners such as instant and cream-rinse, deep conditioners, protein treatments or leave-in conditioners. To go the extra mile, consider an apple cider vinegar rinse to close the cuticle and enhance your hair’s shine.
  3. Moisturizing: This step adds a layer of leave-on protection. You can use either leave-in conditioner or a dedicated moisturizing product, or both. For thick, dry or curly hair, this step hydrates and adds “slip.” For fine or oily hair, these products should detangle strands while encouraging volume.
  4. Sealing: This is the last major step in your hair intervention. Sealing with an oil or butter product locks in moisture and solidifies the gains of rehab. It smoothes out the cuticle and keeps hair moisturized for a longer period. Always use sealant on slightly dampened or misted hair, or pair the product with a water-based moisturizer to maximize the benefits. If you have naturally oily hair, you can skip this step.
  5. Styling protectively: Imagine wearing a favorite sweater every day; washing, drying and ironing it several times a week – it would look pretty worn out after a few years! This is exactly what happens to hair that is bleached, colored, blown dry with artificial heat, ironed, weaved and on and on. Don’t do this anymore! There are several measures you can take to preserve the health of your hair, including wearing it up more often, cleansing it cautiously, detangling strands with a large-tooth comb, protectively using blow-dryer heat, reducing chemical use and not coloring your hair more than three shades lighter or darker than your natural color. In general, be gentle. Do not pull to hard or rapidly when styling it, too; be slow and steady.

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About Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
Audrey Davis-Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, publisher and longtime, healthy hair care advocate and enthusiast. Sivasothy holds a degree in health science and has written extensively on the science of caring for hair at home.

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GIVEAWAY

Now the author behind The Science of Black Hair is back with her newest book, Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair and Reconditioning Manual!

And, guess what? Yes! That’s what!! I’m giving away a copy!!! LOL!!

To enter for your chance to win your very own copy of Hair Care Rehab, simply tell us why your hair needs an intervention in the comments below!

Deadline for entry: Tuesday, December 18th. 

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*No purchase necessary. A winner will be selected at random the week following the close of the giveaway. In accepting the prize, the winner acknowledges that Hairscapades.com may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. Contest open to Continental U.S. residents only. One entry per person. Claiming of prizes requires an e-mail response to hairscapades@gmail.com from the winner within 5 days of being notified of winning. Failure to respond shall mean that the winner forfeits the prize and an alternate winner will be selected.

Best Bun Practices for Length Retention

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With the cold weather breathing down my neck and the drying air that accompanies the cool temps, as well as the return of friction-causing, lint-spreading, tangle-inducing sweaters, coats, scarves and hats, it seemed like a good time to bring back protective styling in force!!! So, I’ve decided to embark on my own personal bunning challenge for the next month or two. However, as many of you know, constant bunning can cause more harm than good if done haphazardly or without good techniques. It can be murder on your edges and crown and result in some nasty detangling sessions if done improperly. So, if healthy length retention is your goal, it’s important to establish a strong regimen.

That being said, I decided to put together a list of bunning steps and techniques that I’ve found give me the biggest bang for my buck! Hope that you find them helpful!

BUILDING A BUNNING REGIMEN

  • Start with clean and well-conditioned hair. A dirty scalp can clog pores and cause “the itchies.” Dirty hair can collect lint and dirt that cause knots and tangles, resulting in breakage. Dry and/or weak hair is more susceptible to damage and breakage. So, wash, condition/detangle and deep condition (moisturizing or protein, as needed) weekly or every two weeks. (Note: You can find my wash day regimen here.)
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner and/or moisturizer.
  • If desired, massage scalp with a stimulating oil such as Wild Growth Hair Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil or an essential oil mix like the one I shared here.
  • Seal hair using an oil, butter or follow the L.O.C. Method.
  • Stretch curls, kinks and coils with twists, braids, Bantu knots or lightly blow-out to reduce tangles and single-strand knots. Stretching also makes it easier to thoroughly re-moisturize hair, when needed.
  • Bun hair after it dries fully. Bunning wet can cause mildew and/or result in over-conditioned/weak hair if the hair can’t dry.
  • Wear buns in different styles and positions. This reduces repeated tension on the same areas and alleviates boredom! Don’t forget, you can wear your bun high, low, to the side, to the other side, make multi-buns, roll, tuck, braid, twist, pin-curl and/or add extra hair too!! Check out YouTube, other hair blogs and my Style Library for oodles of ideas!

 

  • Don’t pull hair too tightly!! Your edges and nape will thank you! Plus, a loose, messy bun can be fun, relaxed, sophisticated and sexy ;)!
  • Use hair-friendly tools to secure your buns. There are a lots of options available and you don’t have to choose just one! Hair bungees, ouchless/metal-free hair elastics, satin scrunchies, silicone ponytail holders, banana clips and/or comfort flex barrettes are all great tools. You can also go the homemade route! Try cutting the leg of a pair of opaque tights into a 1-2 inch loop to make a DIY ponytail holder!
  • Be careful with bobby and hair pins! Don’t stab your scalp and use as few pins as needed to secure your style. Your scalp/head shouldn’t be sore or hurt while or wearing a bun or after releasing it. If it is, those are signs that the scalp is being traumatized and/or the style is too tight. Also, use good quality, undamaged pins to prevent snagging and tearing (check out this post for the Best Bobby Pins! They are totally worth the investment IMHO).
  • If you are using a gel for hold, ensure that it is free of drying alcohols. Not sure which alcohols are drying?  Check out Skills Notes: Product Ingredients!
  • Smooth the surface of hair leading to the bun(s) lightly with a firm, natural bristle brush or a fine-tooth comb laid flat on its side. Yes!! I said a fine-tooth comb!! I just learned about this from watching this video by my girl MyHairFetish, where she demonstrates how this enemy of natural-haired women everywhere is converted from foe to friend!!

(I’ve only tried this a couple of times, but I’ll be forsaking my Phillips teasing brush for a fine-toothed comb for the immediate future.)

  • Don’t brush/comb through to your scalp/roots. Simply smooth the top surface of the hair and tie edges down with a silk or satin scarf for 10-15 minutes to set.
  • Release bun and re-moisturize and seal as needed between wash sessions. For some, this may be every day, for others it may be a few times a week and for others still, it may not be at all between wash sessions. This is entirely dependent upon your hair’s needs. The important thing is to make certain that your hair doesn’t become dry and brittle.
  • Wear a silk/satin scarf or bonnet at night and/or sleep on a silk/satin pillowcase.
  • Wear hair bunned for a minimum of 5-6 days a week.

BONUS BUNNING TIPS

And here are a few extra tips to make a bunning regimen work for you!

  • Think you hair is too short to bun? Maybe not! If you can make a ponytail, you can probably bun. Try stretching, using a sock bun and/or adding extension hair for length and fullness!!
 Check out the many wonderful YouTube mavens for ways to make buns work for short to medium-length hair.
  • Feeling bored and ho-hom? Dont forget to accessorize! Dress up buns with cute accessories like bows, headbands, flowers (my fave!), broaches, hair sticks, hair forks, snoods, etc. Just make certain that your accessories are gentle and don’t snag or dry hair.
  • Brrrrrr!!! Cold ears a concern? Don’t forget your earmuffs or opt for more stylish and trendy winter headbands! To keep knits, cotton, wool and fleece from robbing your hair of healthy moisture, tie a small silk or satin scarf under the headband or sew a piece of silk or satin fabric to the inside to make your own custom lining. Choose a pretty printed fabric to up the cuteness factor! Or, you can just buy pre-made satin-lined headbands like these flowered and sequined ones sold on Hatsome.com!
  • Ends looking and feeling jacked? Get a trim or do it yourself because, who wants to retain ratchet looking length?!

Sooooo … that’s all I got. Now, about my personal bunning challenge. It actually may not remain that way! If you’re interested in joining me, stay tuned for the “official” buning challenge announcement, which is coming very soon!

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Do you bun for length retention? What techniques work for you? What Best Bun Practices would you add to the list?

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?