Tag Archives: straight natural hair

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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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?

Review: Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist

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HE_tealightfullyclean_blowdryprepmistI have been wanting to really straighten my hair, rather than just doing a light blow out, for a while now. I did a “single pass” flat-iron on stretched hair (no blow-out) in June 2013 for a trim and had done a couple of blow-outs since. But, it had been over a year since I really, really straightened my hair. Part of the reason for this was that I wasn’t really feeling the products that I had been using for straightening (see them here). They worked okay, but my hair would feel kind of stiff and hard after using them. I tried the Nubian Heritage heat protectant leave-in and spray too, but everything was pretty “meh.”

Well, a few weeks ago, Wei and I had lunch with a friend and we started talking hair. Her daughter has tons of curly hair and wanted to have it straightened, but our friend didn’t have any idea where to start. So, I suggested the BaByliss Nano Titanium Pro that I purchased  a little over a year ago. Though pricey, I told her I loved it because it has temperature control settings and straightens very well, without frying the hair. So, we ended up heading over to Harmon and picking up one for her (with a 20% off coupon, of course since the thing is $119.00!). Well, while we were there, I told her that she should also use a heat protectant and we started scanning the aisles. I had seen a couple of people use TRESemmé, so we both picked up the TRESemmé Platinium Strength Heat Protectant. But then, I kept looking and decided to see if Herbal Essences (HE) had one as I love that line. Lo and behold, I found the Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist ($4.49) and decided to pick it up too!

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What They Claim:

Light and easy does it with Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist for silky, free-flowing hair. Invigorate your senses with exhilarating tea tree fragrance as you spritz this sheer mist up, down, and all around to help protect against blow drying damage.

Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist:

  • Blow dry prep for silky, free-flowing hair
  • Sheer and lightweight protection against damage
  • With tea tree essences
  • Spritz on for silky hair
  • Intriguing ingredients
  • Incredible fragrances
  • Irresistibly touchable hair; potent pleasure for all your senses

Ingredients: Water/EAU, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Water, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Amodimethicone, PPG-2 Methyl Ether, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Polyquaternium-11, Fragrance/Parfum, Polysorbate 80, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Citric Acid, Cetrimonium Chloride, Trideceth-12, Methylisothiazolinone.

That same day, I washed my hair and put it into two braids. The next day, I decided to spritz the Blow Dry Prep Mist onto my hair and did a super quick tension blow out to stretch it a little more. Oh. Em. Gee. My hair was soft, silky, smooth, light, and flowy! And, I loved the light, sweet smell of the spray! I was WOWed! The claims were true! Seriously, I couldn’t stop touching my hair! That night, I put it into a braid and curl and, the next day, …

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Can you say, “Pleased as punch?” Well, this past weekend, after following my regular wash day regimen, I decided to bite the bullet and flat-iron my hair for real.

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FLAT-IRONING PROCESS

  • Wrapped clean hair in a cut-up tee-shirt to dry to damp (approx. 30 min).
  • Applied a little Kinky Curly Knot Today leave-in to damp hair, concentrating on ends.
  • Spritzed hair with HE Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow0Out Prep Mist and finger combed it through hair.
  • Applied a very small amount of Chi Straight Guard (picked up from TJ Maxx on a whim).
  • Applied a small amount of grapeseed oil to each section.
  • Separated hair into 4 sections and did a tension blow-out with the Conair InifitiPro Tourmaline Ionic Hair Dryer I picked up last fall. I used it to finish drying my hair and stretch it, grasping whole quarter sections of hair, halving the quarters at some points, but never doing sections smaller than that (approx. 30 min.).
  • Flat-ironed hair in small 1″ wide sections at 300°, taking two passes over each section. I didn’t let the flat-iron stop on the hair. I  moved down the length at a slow pace, but the flat-iron was always in motion.
  • Did a third pass over the top layers of hair at 340º, moving the flat-iron more quickly.

It took me about 2 hours in total to blow-out and flat-iron. Here are the results.

 

As you can see, my hair was not bone-straight. There was still a little kink in it and that is okay with me as it lets me know that I didn’t kill my hair with the heat. I also know that bunning my hair will smooth it further. And, as was the case the first time I used the HE Blow-Out Mist, again my hair felt great!! It was airy, silky, soft, and felt product-less! And, at $4.49 a bottle? We have a winner folks!!!

So that’s it, my new heat protectant find! I had to do a review on this product as I wasn’t able to find any when I bought it, because the “Tea-Lightfully Clean” line is new for 2014! Of course, now I’m intrigued to try the shampoo and conditioner … but I’ll try to curb my PJ ways … for now. LOL!!

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Next time on Hairscapades: A Trim, Straight Hair Maintenance, and Straight Hairstyles 😉

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What heat protectant(s) have you found work the best for your hair?