Tag Archives: tips and tricks

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?

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!!

wigcap5All dry!

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

Chicoro Lead Hair Theory (Kind of) Update

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Curly Nikki recently re-posted my How I Retain Length article from 2012 and I thought it was perfect timing to share a sort of, kind of update on the Chicoro “Lead Hair” Theory experiment I wrote about in 2011!!

So, I was going through some of my hair pics from 2010 and came across the pics on the left. They are from late December 2010, a few short months before I joined the Curly Nikki/Kim Coles Grow Out Challenge with a goal to grow my hair to waist length. The shots are before and after a self-trim. The picture on the right is from September 2013.

As you can see from all of the pics, my perimeter is thin and the bulk of my hair is a few inches higher. As I’ve previously mentioned, I believe that this is a result of my crown being more breakage-prone and slower growing than my nape. Also, my nape is barely wavy and my crown is curly (probably a 3c), so my perimeter really looks thin when my hair is worn in natural styles. Now, I would love to have a full perimeter, but just don’t think my hair grows or falls that way. Therefore, it was fortunate for me that I learned about Chicoro’s Lead Hair Theory a couple of years ago and accepted my Fairytale Ends.

Now, the reason this is “kind of” an update to that old post is because I haven’t totally followed the Chicoro method of “goal point” trimming. She actually espouses allowing the “lead hair” to grow an inch or two past the bulk of the hair, but then cutting the hair blunt once it reaches the “goal point.”  However, I decided to just get minimal trims every 6 months or so. As long as my ends are healthy, I don’t concern myself with having a perfectly blunt and full perimeter. I almost never wear my hair entirely straight anyway and my goal is to retain as much healthy length as possible, even if my hair is, well … uneven. *lol*

The reason I am sharing this is to shed some light on uneven growth patterns versus breakage and methods of cutting/trimming the hair. In February 2011, I got a “trim” that turned into a blunt perimeter haircut (didn’t go to that salon again :/). But, after that haircut, I started getting trims only and my hair grew out unevenly again.

Length Check  (Feb 19, 2011)Feb 2011

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Some might see my earlier pics and think it meant breakage and that my hair would just get shorter if I didn’t get a serious hair cut, taking off a few inches to make it blunt. But, as you can see from these pics, my crown did continue to retain length, although not at the speed of my longest area.

This proved to me that, in order to retain as much length as possible, I could continue to trim based upon the health and condition of my ends and not based upon the fullness/evenness of my perimeter, with one caveat. I try not to let the longest hair get more than a couple of inches longer than the bulk as it causes more tangling

I share this to say, if retaining max length is your goal and you don’t wear your hair straight the majority of the time, you may want to try trimming to eliminate damaged ends only and not for “bluntness.” Hair can be healthy and retain length/grow long without having a perfectly blunt/even “hemline.” That being said, if your ends are knotty, tangling, splitting into forests, or excessively dry and rugged, a trim is likely in order to prevent further damage ;). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to trim all of your hair even to get rid of the damage. You can trim judiciously, eliminating the badly damaged ends and leaving the healthy hair behind. That’s the beauty of natural kinky, curly, coily hair! It doesn’t have to be perfectly blunt to look great!!

Quick length check.Oct 2013

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Do you trim for healthy or even ends? Have you tried the Chicoro Goal Point Method of trimming? How did it work out for you?

Nighttime Routines – An Alternative to the Pineapple

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First, my fine strands don’t do well with daily manipulation and nightly re-braiding/re-twisting routines. So, I need a nighttime routine that involves minimal hair handling. But, the “pineapple,” high unicorn horn ponytail just never worked well for me. I mean, I gave it the ol’ college try! Really I did. Over and over again. But, my curls just don’t defy gravity *sad face* (don’t you love that song though?). So, they would just flop all up in my face, or fall back down onto my neck (no matter that I started the night with them daintily draped over my satin pillowcase). Inevitably, I’d end up sleeping on and crushing at least half of my curls. Not only that, when it was time to take the pineapple down in the  morning, my less curly nape hair “tail” would be even longer (ughhh!!! Yes! The dreaded curly mullet) and my hair would be frizzy. So, finally, I gave up on the pineapple and just started bunning my hair instead. I still had to deal with flattened curls and ends, but not so much frizz, no excessive tail, and no face-flop for sleepy time.

Then, a couple of months ago, I accidentally discovered an alternative to the pineapple that really works for me! I just wanted to get to bed as quickly as possible and threw my hair up with a barrette. Well, the “technique” ended up keeping my hair up and off of my face and neck, prevented excess frizz, and preserved my curly ends! I was also able to swap out my satin scarf for a sweatband and get my morning workout on with minimal damage too!! Eureka!!

Anywho … that’s enough lead up … so, wanna hear it? Here it go!!!

BEDTIME UPDO

  1. Gather hair into a low ponytail.
  2. Twist the ponytail up head one to two times like I am doing a French twist, leaving the curly ends free.
  3. Secure the twist against my crown with a Goody Comfort Flex barrette and with the curly ends loose at the top of my head.
  4. Wrap a long, oblong satin scarf around the back of head towards the front and back around again, tying a knot at the nape.
  5. Leave the curly ends peaking out at the top or pull the scarf up and tuck in the curly ends to cover them (in the pic, my ends are covered; in the video, they are out).
  6. “Anchor” the scarf with two to three large “doobie” pins to prevent slippage while sleeping.

And for those of you who are visual learners …

And that’s it. Super simple. Super easy. Super quick! That’s a winner in my book!

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Have you found an alternative to the pineapple for preserving your curls at night?

Damage Control: Frizzy Hair

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In the last week or so, I’ve been asked a couple of times about products that I use to control frizz. To be honest, I’ve yet to find any “miracle” product that prevents my porous hair from frizzing when there is any significant humidity in the air … and I’ve tried a few!! Frizz and “swoll” hair are things that I’ve lived with my entire life. Shoot, frizz control was the reason I wanted a relaxer in the first place!! My hair would get so big and “cloud” like in humidity. I would see the other girls with their relaxed, flat, bone straight hair and that’s what I wanted. But, even when I finally got a relaxer at 13 (thanks mom for making us wait), my hair was like, “Girl, whatever.” So, in high school, I inevitably ended up in a French braid or ponytail. LOL! So, yeah, it’s just a fact of life.

Nowadays, I try to follow the “Moisture Rules” that say that well-moisturized hair will be less prone to absorb atmospheric humidity (for more on that, check out these posts on CurlyNikki.com: Curly Hair Tips for Spring & Summer Humidity and Maintaining Natural Hair in Humidity).

So, in general, these are the things that I incorporate into my regimen regularly to combat frizz:

  • Pre-poo with Vatika Oil or virgin coconut oil (penetrates into the cortex hair to help it retain moisture).
  • Incorporate a light protein treatment weekly (Aubrey GPB Conditioner or Joico K-Pak Revitaluxe) (helps fill in “chips” in the hair cuticle).
  • Deep condition weekly after every wash (penetrates surface of hair to moisturize it from within).
  • Rinse conditioners/deep conditioners with cool/cold water (“closes” the cuticle).
  • Henna every 4-8 weeks (functions like a “heavy” protein treatment by bonding to the keratin in hair to fill in “chips” in the cuticle).
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner weekly (moisturizer).
  • Use a gel to style (LOVING aloe vera gel right now, but also use Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel and ORS Lock & Twist gel with success) (seals the hair).
  • Seal the last few inches of hair with an oil like JBCO mixed with EVOO (keeps more moisture in hair and reduces the amount of moisture absorbed from outside air).
  • Wait for fall/winter. LOL!!! (Though I am a summer lover forever, lack of humidity is one of the very few things that make me look forward to cooler weather ;)).

But, to tell you the truth, frizz really doesn’t bother me much anymore. I LOVE big hair now and always wish my hair was bigger. The thing is, it’d be nice if I could have it big with some definition that lasted more than 2 hours. Also, I’d like it to be big UPWARDS instead of flat on the top and big at the bottom. LOL! But, so is life.

Anywho, the reason I started telling you guys all of this was just to share this little styling “trick” that I did to minimize the appearance of frizz. You see, the top layer of my hair is the most prone to frizz (I guess because that’s the area most exposed). But, when I lift that top layer, the under-layers of my hair still look great! Well, last week, I wore braids for a couple of days and then removed them for a braid-out. Within hours, the top of my hair frizzed entirely. So, at lunch time, I braided the front frizzy parts and secured them at the back of my head with a bobby pin. And, I was good to go!

avg_braidout_x2Easy, breezey, lemon squeezey!

Simple, effective, and Boho chic too ;)! You could also just twist or twirl the sides! Anywho, that’s it. Just wanted to share this quick styling tip for doing some frizz damage control!

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What do you do to fight frizz? Have you found an effective product/product combo and/or styling trick? Sharing is caring!!

What a Tangled Web: Detangling Tips

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I’ve mentioned a few times that I have been experiencing some pretty beastly detangling sessions in the last month or two. I mean, whether dry or wet, I’ve been battling matted, snarled, knotted hair like a mug!! Well, these shower skirmishes have required me to pull out ALL of my detangling big guns and invent a new one!! But before I list my tips, I wanted to share a link to a great article published on CurlyNikki last June: Tips on Detangling the Worst Knots.

Now, that article espouses the use of a wide-tooth comb to remove tangles, and that’s great for many. However, I’ve found my fine strands fare much better with finger detangling. So, that is something I think you have to judge for yourself.

So, without further ado, here are a few techniques that I’ve found help me tackle terrible tangles ;).

  1. If I’m dry detangling to pre-poo, it helps to look in a mirror as I see the tangle before I even get to it. This allows me to gently start releasing it, rather than potentially breaking hair by haphazardly combing through “blind” and encountering the resistance when I hit the knot.
  2. I pull apart the hair at my roots horizontally first, rather than combing down vertically. This creates space to loosens shed hair and allows me to start untangling hairs that are twined together.
  3. When I encounter a “matted” knot,” I gently try to remove the strands from the core of the knot. If my hair is wet with conditioner, I massage the knot with my fingers to loosen it. Then, I slide the knot UP to loosen it, rather than DOWN. For me, I find that down seems to tighten most knots, where sliding it up loosens it so that I can gently remove the strands from the central knot.
  4. If I have a knot that is not super tight and/or, I’ve been able to loosen it enough so that I can tell that it’s not a hard knot, I use a pin to widen the opening so that I can slide the strands out. I do this for single strand knots that haven’t completely closed too. This is tricky in that the knot has to be a little loose. If it’s tight, I don’t bother as I believe that the safety pin will end up poking and damaging the strand, which means that it’ll eventually knot again, break or split. So, again, I reserve this for knots that have a little “space” with which to work.
  5. When the above fails to completely eliminate a knot, that’s when I break out the scissors. But, usually, this is a shed strand knotted towards the very end of a strand securely attached to my scalp.

NEW AND IMPROVED DETANGLING TRICK!!

Okay, now I mentioned that I had to invent a new technique to deal with the nasty knots of late. Last weekend, I decided to try something that I’d never tried in the past for detangling:

  • I diluted my slippery conditioner in a dye applicator bottle with water before applying it.

Joy in the morning y’all. The tangles just MELTED out of my hair. I didn’t run out of hot water before I got halfway through my head, I didn’t have one knot or badly matted section to work out. I didn’t have to do most of steps 1-4 above. I didn’t dry detangle or look in the mirror. I didn’t need a pin or scissors once!! I just gently separated the hair at my roots horizontally to loosen it and remove some shed hair, then gently finger-combed working up from my ends to my roots. And, I did this again today with the same results!! I think this works under the same principle as the Shower Stream. I don’t know why I never thought of this before! I dilute shampoo to give it more slip. I dilute conditioner to apply over my DC. So, why not dilute conditioner to detangle?!?! I won’t make that mistake again!!

Now, I’ll give this caveat. I have started wearing my stretched hair bunned all week. And, I’ve been using my modified kimmaytube leave-in, which is really keeping my hair moisturized. So, I think all of these things combined are giving my hair some much needed TLC and helping prevent bad tangles in the first place. That being said, I could still FEEL the knots slide out when I applied the diluted conditioner (Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, of course ;)). So, if your detangling sessions are turning into dreaded events and nothing is working, you might want to give this a try. You might even get your conditioner to go further!! What have you got to lose, right?

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How do you make detangling on wash day easy, peasy, lemon squeezey?