Why did it take me almost 10 years to try this?!

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After being natural for almost 10 years (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) reading dozens of blog posts, and spending countless hours watching YouTube videos, I finally tried it….

……Bentonite clay! Bentonite clay has been a consistent favorite for many naturals since I first went natural and I’m sure it was popular long before that. I’m usually the last to hop on the bandwagon when it comes to something that’s new to me even if many people seem to love it. I’m all about educating myself, so I like to know the products’ origin, how it benefits the hair, price and availability. I also like to see how the product performs on naturals with different curl patterns. In my opinion, that’s one of the best ways to determine product quality. So since I don’t want to bore you with research, I’ll just give you a quick rundown of what Bentonite clay is and why I decided to finally give it a go!

Bentonite clay is deemed the world’s most powerful facial due to its deep pore cleansing capabilities since it is made from 100% natural calcium clay. So no added silicones or synthetic ingredients. Even though it is intended to use on the skin to remove impurities, it is also highly effective at cleansing the hair.

Clay cleanses the hair in three ways:

  1. Antibacterial properties
  2. Removes toxins and impurities
  3. Removes oils

Since I can be a little (ok…a lot) heavy handed when it comes to applying hair products, a non-stripping, deep cleansing is usually in order every about once per month to remove product build up and excess oil. If you notice flakes in your hair or if your hair is not behaving typically, it may be a good idea to give your locs some love with a nice deep cleaning. Spring cleaning, anyone?

Clay Mask Recipe:

1)      3 tbsp of oil. I used grapeseed. You can use any oil you have on hand

2)      1 tbsp of molasses. You can use honey as well

3)      ¾ cup Aloe Vera Juice

4)      ½ cup of clay

Feel free to adjust the measurements based on the length and thickness of your hair.

To mix the mask, you will need a non-metal bowl and a non-metal spoon to avoid a chemical reaction between the clay and metal.

To apply the clay mixture, I first created my standard six sections of hair and applied the mixture from roots to tips; including the scalp. Healthy hair begins at the scalp. Product build up on the scalp, it can stunt hair growth.

I left the treatment in for 30 minutes and rinsed each section thoroughly until the water ran clear. My hair felt cleansed, but also a little hard/stiff so I followed up with a deep conditioning treatment, with heat. To my deep conditioner, I added half of a 1/4 cup of molasses. You can read this post to see why I am loving molasses in my deep conditioner these days!

I left the deep conditioner in for about an hour and 15 minutes. While rising out my deep conditioner, I noticed my hair was smooth, shiny and detangled easier than normal (and who doesn’t want that?). My curls were also elongated.

I really enjoyed using the clay and I will definitely add it to my regimen more often when my hair needs a good cleansing.

Have you tried a clay before? What was your experience?

 

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THIS is the ingredient your deep conditioner is missing!

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Heaven in a jar is what I call my deep conditioners now! I know that sounds EXTRA, but when I find something that my lion’s mane, Co Co loves and it makes her more manageable, then I am a happy girl! I feel like my hair either loves something or it doesn’t. There is no middle ground!

When I introduced deep conditioning into my wash day routine as opposed to using a traditional rinse out conditioner, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of a change I experienced. I noticed deep conditioning improved the overall health of my hair by making it softer, shinier, and more able to retain moisture over a longer period of time. I tend to purchase deep conditioners as opposed to going the DIY route since I’m not always sure how much mixture to make due to the length and thickness of my hair. I want to avoid either not having enough or having too much and the mixture going rancid

But after reading a blog post by Christina of the Mane Objective, I decided to be somewhat DIY after reading about her experience with adding molasses to her deep conditioner. Yep, the same molasses that’s in pecan pie (yum!). Ingredients like molasses, honey, and glycerin are categorized, in the beauty industry, as humectants. Humectants are added to hair and skin care products to promote moisture retention. They have the ability to attract water from the atmosphere. Our textured hair needs as much moisture as it can get. Our hair is more prone to dryness and breakage because of the sebum (an oil) our scalp secretes that takes longer to travel down the hair shaft since our hair is not straight. If you’ve ever noticed that if someone with straight hair goes a few days without washing their hair, their hair appears oily and stringy. That’s the sebum building up on their hair.

I’ve used leave in conditioner or styling products that contained honey or glycerin. I noticed my hair responded very well to those products. So I was all for purchasing the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mufura Oil Intensive Hydration Masque. The masque performs well on its own, but why not kick it up a notch? I like to spoil myself! So, I added about half of a ¼ cup of molasses to the masque. To apply my deep conditioner, I part my hair in half and create three sections on each side of my head for a total of 6 sections. After I apply product to one section, I two-strand twist it and move on to the section. I noticed when I was applying the mixture, the consistency was very thick, but still pliable.

I deep conditioned for 45 minutes with my Hot Head Hair Conditioning Cap. Deep conditioning with heat is essential for my low porosity hair since heat opens up the hair cuticle and allows the product to penetrate my hair strands and receive all of the benefits of the product. Having low porosity hair means the outer cuticle layer of the hair lies flat making it more difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair. If the cuticle is not open, then product tends to sit on top of the hair causing product build up.

While rinsing out the deep conditioner, I also detangle each of the six sections separately. If you want to know my super quick detangling routine click here to read that post!

This treatment left my hair very soft almost “buttery.” My hair was also bouncy, shiny and soft. I was very surprised by the outcome since molasses is so thick. I assumed it would leave my hair weighed down as opposed to making is so soft and manageable. I still experienced great hair benefits for the days after my wash day. So from then on I have been adding this secret ingredient to all of my deep conditioners!

Have you used products that contained humectants? If so, what was your experience?

Product Selection: Developing a Hair Care Regimen that Helped Me Achieve Waist Length Hair

My hair care regimen has developed over time through trial and error with many different products. When I found a regimen that worked for me, I was consistent with it in order to achieve the best results for my hair. Much of my natural hair journey has been spent researching and relearning my hair after many years of relaxing and straightening my hair. I needed to understand how to properly care for my hair so I could achieve not just longer, fuller hair, but healthier hair. I couldn’t become solely interested in growing long hair that I neglected the health of my hair. There is no use in having hair that is dry with split ends all for the sake of saying you’ve achieved a certain length milestone in your natural hair journey. Think about it as quality over quantity. Or in this instance, health over length.

Product Selection Tips

When it comes to finding your favorite products, you have to experiment with products that contain different ingredients to see what your hair responds best to and helps you retain moisture. My hair loves aloe vera juice, coconut oil, and shea butter. Conversely, my hair does not respond well to sulfates. Some natural’s can use products with sulfates, but I find they dry my hair out. I also avoid products that contain isopropyl alcohol for the same reason. When it comes to product selection, you have to allow products a chance to work. I try not to use a product once and then write it off as “bad” just because I did not achieve the results I wanted. I try using the product at least once more; paying close attention to the directions. If the product still does not produce the desired results, then into the trash it goes!

Your product selection should also include reading the product claims and key ingredients highlighted on the front of the package. If the product boasts about how you will achieve a certain result based off a key ingredient, such as argan oil, then review the ingredient list looking specifically at the first 5 ingredients. The first 5 ingredients in the product make up about 90% of what is in that product. The remaining ingredients can comprise as little as 1% of the product make up. So if a product lists argan oil as one of the last ingredients, chances are the product contains very little argan oil; therefore your hair is not truly reaping the benefits from that ingredient.

Next, “listen” to your hair. If your hair is prone to dryness, make sure you are using products that list water as the first ingredient or simply mist your hair with a spray bottle that contains only water. A common misconception is that water dries the hair out when actually the opposite is true. Our hair needs frequent hydration to be healthy. Our hair also requires a balance of protein as well. Protein needs will vary. If you color or use heat frequently, you are breaking down the protein bonds in your hair and will need to use a protein deep conditioner on a regular basis to restore and then maintain the strength of your hair. Even if you do not color or heat, you hair will still suffer from some form of damage in the form of mechanical damage, which is likened to “wear and tear” on the hair. Mechanical damage comes from brushing, combing, washing, and styling your hair. To repair mechanical damage, you will need to occasionally incorporate a protein deep conditioner into your regimen. If your hair feels weak and “mushy,” then you can definitely benefit from a protein deep conditioner.

Another tip is to keep a hair journal. Make note of what products worked and which ones did not work. Do you see a pattern in the ingredients your hair responds favorably or unfavorably to? How did you apply the product? Did you apply it to wet or dry hair? Did you use the product in combination with another product? Your hair journal can prevent you from being a product junkie. You start to see patterns and that information will help drive your buying decisions.

My last product selection tip is to follow blogs and YouTube channels for product reviews. I subscribe to many different blogs and channels from women who have a variety of curl patterns and textures. However, ultimately I decide which products to use. There have been instances were my favorite content creator disliked a product, but it turned out to be a Holy Grail for me.

My Regimen

I cleanse my hair very 2 weeks. I alternate between shampooing and co-washing. I see what my hair needs when it’s time to wash it. I deep condition each wash day for 1 hour with heat. I moisturize my hair 3 times a week and apply products using the LOC method (applying a leave-in, oil, and sealing all that goodness in with a cream). At least every other night, I spritz my ends with a light moisturizing spray mist. This has been key for me in retaining length. Your ends are the oldest part of your hair and the most prone to breakage. Depending on the length of your hair, your ends could be several years old. For my hair length, I consider the last 4 inches of my hair as the ends. My hair is about 20 inches long at its longest point.

My Staple Products

1)      Shampoo – Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo. This shampoo provides a deep cleanse without leaving my hair stripped

2)      Co-Wash – Eden Bodyworks Coconut Co-wash. This product cleanses my hair, smells great, provides slip to help with detangling, defines my curls, and is inexpensive (16 oz. for $8.99).

3)      Deep conditioner – Each wash day I deep condition. Do NOT skip deep conditioning. Your hair will thank you for it! I typically use the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey and Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Masque or the Shea Moisture 10-in-1 Superfruit Complex Renewal Hair Masque as my moisturizing deep conditioners. After using these products, I feel like I have new hair! My curls are revived, shiny, and moisturized. If my hair needs protein, I will use the Shea Moisture Yucca & Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Masque. After using the product there is a noticeable reduction in the number of little hairs around my sink that have broken off J

4)      Leave-in – Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow and Restore Leave-in. I just….I love this stuff and can’t stop raving about it! Maximum curl popage (yep, that’s a made up word!), slip, and moisture for days. And did I mention you get 160z of product for $10.99?!

5)      Oil – Coconut and olive oils. These are great lightweight oils. I make sure I purchase organic, virgin un-refined

6)      Cream moisturizer – Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. See…I tried to venture off and try other moisturizes. And I did come across some other great moisturizers, but this is my all-time favorite that I revisited earlier this year after about a 1 year hiatus. Soft, moisturized, tropical paradise smelling curls is what I get after using this product. It acts as a good styler, too!

7)      Edge Control – Curls Passion Fruit Control Paste. Two words: edges laid! This product holds all day, doesn’t flake or dry the hair out and smells sweet.

8)      Gel – Olive Oil Eco Styler gel. If I want to do a wash-n-go, I use this. If I want a defined twist out or braid out, I use this. If I need a slick bun, I use this! This is a great styler that works for many styles and doesn’t contain alcohol, so no dry hair here!

9) Refresher Spray – Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Refresher Spray. This is a lightweight, yet effective product to add a little extra moisture to your hair.

 Honorable Mentions

Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Leave-in conditioner, As I Am Coconut Co-Wash, Eden Body Works Coconut Soufflé, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner, and the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo.

Finding the right products for your hair takes time, but is well worth the effort to help to you achieve the healthy hair you desire. Experiment with different products. Read product ingredients to validate products claims. Pay attention to your hair’s needs and keep track of what you hair likes and does not like. Use the power of the internet to find product reviews before you purchase a product so you can make more informed decisions. I know most want length, but if you are consistent and give your hair what it needs, it will be healthy and you will retain length over time.

What are some of your favorite products? Or are you still searching for your Holy Grail products?

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Wash and go