Tag Archives: long natural hair

‘Tis the Season to be Straightened

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5 Tips to Make your Salon Trip Jolly

Whether it’s for the ease, the longevity afforded by low dew points, a slew of holiday parties, a style change, or a gift to pamper oneself, straight hair seems to be a holiday season favorite. And, if you are going the salon route, you may be a bit nervous about over-manipulation and/or heat damage. But, if you follow a few quick tips, you don’t have to be!

1. Prepare your hair: If you haven’t combed your hair since the last harvest moon, don’t be surprised if you lose half of it in the salon chair. I kid. I kid. But seriously, a stylist is not going to spend 2 hours finger detangling your hair. If they do, you can expect to pay a hefty premium for their patience and diligence. Just because you are getting someone else to do your hair, doesn’t mean you can neglect it. If you do, don’t be mad when you feel like they are ripping through your mane and half of it goes down the drain.

2. Condition. Whether you pay the stylist or do it yourself the weekend before your visit, use a light protein conditioner and a deep moisturizing conditioner. If your hair is really in need of help, a reconstructor may be in order.

3. Heat protectant: Make certain your stylist is using a good heat protectant. This is a must as it reduces the impact of heat styling on the hair, especially if using a blow dryer and flat-iron.

4. Temperature controlled ceramic flat-iron: Verify that your stylist is using a quality ceramic flat-iron with a temperature control and advise of the max setting that should be used on your hair. Personally, I don’t want anything over 350 degrees. Higher than that may cause a change in the structure of the hair that could result in permanent heat damage. However, you know your hair best, so just make certain that the temperature doesn’t exceed your comfort level.

5. Two to three passes: Request that your stylist straighten small sections (using the chaser method, if possible) and limit the number of passes with the flat-iron to 2-3.

Bonus tips:

• If you can, choose a stylist that you know and trust. If you have to use someone knew, research them first whether it’s through other clients or a consultation.

• If you need a trim, dissuade a scissor-happy stylist by advising them that you want to see what they are doing. Request a “dusting/micro-trim” of 1/4-1/2″ if preserving length is important to you. (I had 2 1/2″ cut-off, but worked through and agreed upon it with my stylist. Then I watched in the mirror as she did it.)

Hope this helps and wishing you all a very merry straightening experience!!

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Do you have any “failsafe” tips for getting your hair straightened at the salon?

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Tip: Wig Caps

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This is just a quick little tip that I’ve been meaning to share for a while, which I just posted on my FB and IG pages last night. As some of you may know, I have been using hairnets to tie down my crown at night when I’ve set my hair wet/damp and need it to dry overnight. The hairnet allows for far more airflow than a satin/silk scarf so that the area that stays wet the longest will dry more quickly, while still keeping the hair flat. I sleep on a satin pillowcase to reduce friction overnight.

Well, a couple of months ago, I picked up a couple mesh wig caps because I was sent a wig to trial. The wig didn’t fit me well, so it never saw the light of day and I ended up gifting it to a friend. But, I found a great use for the wig caps! I now use them instead of a hairnet. The wig caps are a lot easier to put on (tying the hairnet used to be a PAIN)) than the hairnet and smooth from my hair from temples to crown, to nape. I also like to wear them under satin-lined hats to keep my hair smooth!

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Hope that helps!!

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What “tricks” do you use when you want your hair to dry overnight?

Heatless Curls on Flat-Ironed Natural Hair

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pincurls11 Just coming on here very quickly (well, not really, because I spent two hours putting filters on these iPhone pics, emailing them to myself, saving them, renaming them, uploading them … while “multi-tasking” and watching Duck Dynasty! LOL!) to share how I got these pretty curls, with no additional heat, on my 2 week old flat-ironed hair (straight hair maintenance post coming soon!). Wow … run-on sentence much?

Anyyyyyyyyywho … after debating between using flexi-rod or pin-curls to get some bouncy, heatless curls … I decided on the pin curls, because they wouldn’t disturb my sleep!! I remembered that Chime (aka HairCrush) had done a pin-curl video that I watched a couple of years ago. So, I pulled it up to refresh my memory on her technique.  

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Now, obviously, my process had to be a bit different as my hair  was straightened and I would be doing a “dry” set. Also, that “scrubbing” of product into her ends that Chime does? Yeah, her hair is obviously of the GANGSTA variety as my ends would come off in my hands and curse me out if I did that. So, I skipped that part.

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HEATLESS PIN-CURLS 

Products/Tools:

  • DevaCurl Set It Free
  • MetaGrip Premium Roller Pins (check out this post to learn why this brand of hair pins is AWESOMETASTIC!)
  • Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter
  • Shea Moisture (SM) Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Finishing Elixir
  • 2 satin scarves (1 square; 1 oblong)

Set Process:

  • Applied a little Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter to my edges and tied down with the small square silk scarf.
  • Separated about 1″ wide sections of hair.
  • Pumped 2-3 spritzes of Set It Free into palm of hand and smoothed down section of hair. (I decided on Set It Free because I knew that it would make my hair damp enough to set the curls a little. But, because it has a creamy consistency, it wouldn’t make my hair so wet that it would revert. I often use it on my ends before rolling them for braid or twist and curls.) 
  • Rolled the 1″ section of hair around TWO fingers (my forefinger and middle finger), twisting the section about a 1/2 a turn at the same time I made each revolution around my fingers.
  • Secured pin-curl flat against my head with a MetaGrip Roller Pin.
  • Repeated process over my entire head (I worked from the front to the back on each side of my head).
  • Tied pin-curls down with my favorite EboniCurls satin scarf and hit the sack for a comfortable night’s sleep ;).

From this …

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To this …

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Take Down:

The next morning:

  • Removed the roller pins.
  • Applied a little SM Raw She Elixir to my hands and unraveled the dry pin-curls.
  • Separated the curls and used a wide-tooth comb to lift the roots to add some fullness.

To this …

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(Check out my IG post here if you want to see video of how the curls dropped to waves by the end of the day.)

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What is your favorite heatless curls technique?

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?

Henna Gloss: A Quicker, Easier Way to Henna

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twistout314_8 As most of you know, I am a henna head. I have been doing henna treatments since 2010, though I’ve modified how and how often I do them over the years. I started with full strength, full length treatments every 2-4 weeks. But for the last several years, I have been doing full strength on my roots only and a “faux” gloss (i.e. dye released henna mixed into lots of conditioner) on my length. But, the time between my sessions has gotten longer and longer … every 4 weeks, every 6, every 8, now I’m lucky if I do it once every three months!! Well, about a month and a half ago, I was really in need of a henna treatment as my grey roots were out of control. I also love how smooth my hair is after a henna treatment; my hair styles post henna are always so shiny and sleek. But, I had absolutely nooooooooo desire to do a full strength treatment as it usually takes the good part of a day to complete (see My Two Step Henna-Indigo Process for details). Between prepping, washing, detangling, application, marinating, rinsing with water, applying indigo, marinating again, rinsing with loads of conditioner, deep conditioning, marinating one more time rinsing, and styling … yeah, that’s an 8 hour plus process. It just was not happening. But then I thought, “You know what? I’ll do a true henna gloss!!” I figured I could get some of the conditioning benefits of henna and maybe a little color, without all the muss and fuss … and time! hennagloss314

My Henna Gloss Recipe

  • My goat milk conditioning mask *
  • 2 tablespoons of Dulhan BAQ henna powder
  • Mix thoroughly with a fork.
  • Apply mixture to hair and massage into scalp.
  • Twist hair into 4 sections, clip hair up with a jaw clip and don a plastic cap.
  • Apply heat for 30 min-1 hour (I use a hair therapy wrap).
  • Rinse thoroughly.

(*My goat milk conditioner has protein, but it is also very moisturizing because of the honey and oils. I would generally suggest using a thick, moisturizing, protein-free conditioner.)

Applied (no plastic gloves required)

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Minimal mess (no towels or newspaper needed to protect surfaces; just wiped down with a disinfecting wipe).

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As I suspected, the gloss also gave my grey roots got a little color so that they weren’t as stark white.

hennaglossroots After rinsing, I set my hair in 4 twists, which I wore in a twist-out the next day. And, the set held up very well the rest of the week!!

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The one issue I have had with the gloss is related to my base goat milk conditioner. It can be a little chunky and thick, so I have had some residue in my hair after rinsing. Therefore, I have to make sure that my conditioner is as smooth as possible prior to adding the henna and that I rinse very well. In the future, I may try mixing the henna with water first before adding it to the conditioner. This should help thin the consistency and aid blending. However, despite the small rinsing issue, the easy, peasy henna gloss is now in my repertoire when I want some of the conditioning benefits of henna with minimal time and effort!! It may be right up your alley if you have been wanting to try henna, but have been afraid to take the leap or have been looking for some of the benefits without the time commitment!!

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Have you tried henna glosses? How did/do you like them? What conditioner(s) do you use for the best results?

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?