Low Manipulation Styling – When Less is More

Have you ever stumbled upon a good thing by accident?! That’s what happened to me one morning after I washed my hair. After my hair is washed and conditioned, I moisturize it and put it in two-strand twists. The number of twists depends on how damp my hair is and how lazy I’m feeling 🙂 So one evening, after stalling on washing my hair, my hair was super damp when it was time to twist it and go to bed. So I moisturized it and put in about 18 twists to help it dry faster. I would normally put in about 6-8 chunky twists. But the larger the twists, the longer it takes for my hair to dry. I know I could have blow-dried my hair, but I try to use heat as little as possible.

The next morning I happened to flip some of my twists over to one side of my head and thought “hmmm… this actually looks kind of cute!” So I put in some bobby pins to secure the twists, laid my edges down, and went to work! Yeah for styling my hair in less than 5 minutes! I figured by the end of the day, my twists would look frizzy, but to my surprise, they still looked good. So instead of re-twisting my hair at night, like I normally do, I put on my satin scarf and went to sleep. I figured my twists wouldn’t survive my morning run. But I was pleasantly surprised they lasted and I wore the twists again. I managed to get about a solid 3 days out of these twists!! I also noticed how my hair stayed moisturized longer than normal. Moisture is KEY to length retention!

I decided to make this my new routine when I wash or re-moisturize my hair. Low manipulation styles, such as twists, aid in length retention, because it reduces mechanical damage. Mechanical damage is hair breakage due to using conventional styling tools such as combs or brushes. So since I am not untwisting my hair in the morning and brushing it, I am loosing less hair. So, I’m reducing the amount of all those little hairs we get around our bathroom sinks or on the floor! Other great low manipulation styles include braids, buns, and roll tuck n’ pin styles. The point of low manipulation styles is to keep your hand out of your hair for as long as possible. So, not “hand in hair” syndrome no matter how soft your hair is.

And as an added bonus can I just say that leaving in twists for 3 days will give you the ultimate twist out definition?! Don’t we all love getting more for less?!

So, even though putting in more twists takes more time initially, it saves me time in the days ahead, helps me retain length, and gives me the best twist outs! I wonder what I still stumble upon next?! 🙂

 

 

 

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Why I decided to Embrace the Frizz!

When you ask many naturals what is one thing they wish they could change when it comes to their hair, the response is usually either shrinkage or frizz. Those are the two evils of the natural hair community that could put a damper in any style. You can leave the house one way and come back looking another way! The struggle is real! Or is it? Do we make caring for our natural hair harder than it needs to be by trying to correct something that is just part of how our hair is? Are we throwing money down the drain on products that promote frizz control? For me, the response to both of these questions is “yes!

When I felt like my frizzy hair was an issue, that is when I started relaxing my hair. Worse hair-related decision EVER. My hair was dry and weak! I eventually transitioned from relaxers. But that frizz “demon” resurfaced and of course I considered going back to the creamy crack, until I snapped back into reality. I remembered the state of my hair when it was relaxed. So I went on the hunt to find products and techniques to help “reduce” or even “prevent” frizz. I watched YouTube video after video, read numerous articles, and tried an abundance of products. My efforts either produced results that looked like I didn’t even try or only provided temporary results. I began to get frustrated, until I realized that perhaps I was trying to force my hair to do something it wasn’t capable of doing. Maybe I just needed to let my hair do what it wanted and not try to control the un-controllable.

I decided to no longer research methods or try products, but just allow my hair to do as it pleases! Ah freedom! Freedom from feeling like my hair was a disaster if my curls didn’t “pop” just right or if my hair decided to expand with the humidity. There are many factors that cause frizz and trying to control all of them was too overwhelming for me. So now, when I style my hair, I don’t worry about the outcome. Depending on how my hair turns out, and how I’m feeling that day, I may pull it back into a pony tail, pin some of it away, or just let it be big! I usually go with the last option 🙂

Instead I try to focus on making sure my hair is clean and moisturized. Oh and how I can achieve tailbone length by the end of 2016!

Have you embraced frizz? Or are you willing to go through trial and error until you find something that works for you?

Here is a side-by-side comparison of my hair when it was frizzy (left) versus when it was more defined (right).

frizzy-hair-blog-pic

Preventing Crown-Area Breakage

I love a sleek, sophisticated bun! Buns take very little time to achieve, use minimal product, and can be a great style option to protect the ends of your hair from exposure to the elements. But, like most things, too much of something may not always be a good thing. When I first went natural, I always wore my buns with a middle part. Like ALWAYS! I liked how a middle part seemed to elongate my face and give me a more mature look. But, after a while, I noticed small hairs sticking up in my crown area and I would have to apply more and more product to slick my hair down. After doing some research, I came across product suggestions and methods to reduce crown-area breakage.

 I first started applying Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) to my crown area every night. JBCO is often used to grow and strengthen hair. In the mornings, I would then apply my gel or pomade to slick my hair. The JBCO served as a foundation, if you will, because of its thickness. I also started using a soft boar bristle brush on my hair. I try to use my hands as styling tools as often as possible before I use more conventional styling tools such as comb’s and brush’s. Soft boar bristle brushes are less harsh on the hair. Another change I made was switching up my part. I had to abandon my beloved middle part for the sake of my hair. I started parting my hair on either the left side or the right side. I also began wearing my bun in different positions. Instead of always pulling my hair straight back, I would position it in the middle of my head or the top of my head, like a ballerina J.

 After using up the JBCO, I didn’t purchase it again. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I’m cheap and the product served its purpose by strengthening the hair in my crown area. I now use a spray bottle mixed with water and aloe vera juice. I picked up the idea to use this aloe vera juice by following Naptural85 on YouTube.  I spray my hair with that mixture, add my pomade, slick my hair as best I can with my hands, and then finish slicking the hair back with my soft boar bristle brush. Aloe vera juice has amazing benefits. It acts as a natural conditioner that softens and hydrates the hair and adds shine. It also soothes an irritated scalp if you are experiencing scalp issues.

 Though we may have a signature style, we have to be open to different styling options if our hair is no longer responding positively to that style. When you reach a stumbling block in your natural hair journey, do some research and re-adjust your regimen. Learn to value health over convenience.

 Have you dealt with crown breakage before? If so, how did you combat it?

Crown area picture

Pro-Tips to Make Detangling Easy!

The day is here…..the dreaded wash day! Yikes!

Why do naturals dread wash day so much? Or maybe it was just me. But I think it’s in part due to the detangling process. This process can be tedious with some naturals stating it takes them upwards of an hour to detangle. I cringe at the thought of detangling taking that much time. Ain’t nobody got time for that! At least I don’t.

So, what if I told you I can thoroughly detangle my waist length hair in 10 minutes? Yep! It’s true. In this post I will give you a few tips and tools to use that have made my detangling process so much easier. Now if I could just get my hair to not take 10 million hours to air dry….

To simplify things on wash day, I start by sectioning my hair in six sections using crocodile clips to keep the sections separated. I used to create four sections, but as my hair grew, I needed to create more sections to reduce tangling and make sure I was thoroughly cleansing my hair. If your hair is shorter or not very thick, you can probably get away with fewer sections or no sections at all if you have a TWA (teeny weeny afro).

I start by cleansing with a co-wash that has lots of slip. I love the Eden Bodyworks Coconut Co-Wash. During co-washing I can start to release some of the tangles and shed hair with my fingers as I’m cleansing that section. After rinsing out all of the co-wash, I apply my deep conditioner. This product should also have lots of slip. I use a variety of deep conditioners, but I tend to stick with the Shea Moisture product line. I have yet to meet one of their deep conditioners I didn’t like! I allow my deep conditioner to sit on my hair, with heat, for one hour. I noticed the longer I leave the deep conditioner on my hair, the softer, shinier, and less tangled my hair tends to be.

Before rinsing out my deep conditioner, I grab some vinyl gloves. No, I’m not about to clean the house! The vinyl gloves help my fingers glide more effortlessly through my hair. It may sound odd to use vinyl gloves, but trust me, they help!

Next, I grab my wide tooth shower comb. Do not, and I repeat, do not use a fine tooth comb unless you feel like snatching yourself bald!

Last, I grab my cheap conditioner with lots of…..you guessed it, slip. I love the Aussie Moist conditioner. No, it is not curly girl friendly, but I’m not keeping the product in my hair for very long, so it’s ok. I apply this product very generously. As in, when I think I’ve applied enough, I apply a little bit more 🙂

So, did you see a trend? Allow the products to soften your hair and do a lot of the work for you.

Now you’re ready to wash out the conditioners and detangle. This is the part that only takes me 10 minutes. When rinsing my hair, I rinse that section underneath the stream of water; this helps my fingers and the comb glide easily through my hair. I rake the section with my fingers first since it is easier to feels for tangles with your fingers then it is with a comb. I make sure to detangle each section beginning at the ends and working my way up to my roots. I know the section is thoroughly detangled when I can easily run my comb through the section from roots to tips without encountering any tangles. If I happen to feel more tangles along the way, I apply more of the cheap conditioner until that section is tangle free. Then I repeat the process for the remaining sections. Then I’m all done and have clean, soft, moisturized, and detangled hair!

Below is a picture of my shed hair. That is the typical amount of hair I shed each wash day. We shed between 50-150 strands of hair per day and I wash my hair every two weeks.

Wet Detangling VS. Dry Detangling

The detangling process I use is referred to as wet detangling. Some naturals dry detangle. When I first went natural, I tried dry detangling and would lose so much hair! My method was to section my hair and then grab my wide tooth comb and begin detangling before cleansing without adding any product or water. With this process, I noticed that I also had a lot of small pieces of hair around my sink, which meant I was breaking my hair off during the detangling process. So after attending the YouTube School of beauty (lol), I discovered wet detangling and saw how much easier it was and how I lost less hair. Sounds like a win-win to me! But, as always, do what works best for you. It is all about trial and error. If dry detangling works best for you, then by all means, keep using that method. Whichever method you choose, just make sure you are thoroughly detangling your hair to prevent matting and that you are losing the least amount of hair as possible. I know we all wish wash day could take less time, but we must be gentle with our hair if we want it to be healthy and if we want to retain length.

What methods do you use to help you detangle your hair?

Twist Out Using Jane Carter Solution Wrap and Roll Foam

After doing braid outs the last few months, I decided to switch things up and try a twist out.  I like the wave-like definition of a braid out, but I also like how twist outs provide a curlier look. Twist outs are also quicker to install and take down.

I scored the wrap and roll foam from Target for only $4.48! This was my first time experimenting with a foam as a styler. I hadn’t tried a foam styler before based off the assumptions it would dry my hair out, it was best used for roller sets, and that it would be too light-weight to provide definition and hold for my lion’s mane. But for this price point, I was willing to test out the product to see if my assumptions were correct. To my surprise, my hair turned out better than I expected 🙂

I followed a similar product combination that I used for my braid outs. I first applied my leave-conditioner followed by oils to seal in the moisture and then I applied the foam styler. My hair was dry and I parted it in the direction I wanted it to fall. I ended up with about 17 twists in total. I made sure to twirl my hair at the ends for curl definition. I slept on a satin pillow case and allowed my hair to air-dry overnight. The following day, I gently removed each twist, separated and fluffed my hair. I finished the style off with a little edge control to make the final look more polished.

Ingredients

I like products that have good quality ingredients and ingredients that I never tried before. Here are the ingredients for the foam

Deionized water, anthemis noblis flower (Camomile), symphytum officinal leaf (Comfrey), equisetum arvense (Horsetail), urtica dioica (Nettle), rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary) leaf, humulus lupulus (Hops), lawsonia inermis (Henna),certified organic essential oils: lemon, grapefruit, coco-sultaine, glycerine, phenoxyethanol.

I didn’t list the benefits of all of the ingredients; just the first 5. The first 5 ingredients comprise about 90% of the product make-up.

Deionized Water – Deionized water is water that has been purified.  Water is the best moisturizer for your hair. Hair needs frequent moisture to maintain its health

Camomile – An herb that can be used to prevent or reduce hair loss

Comfrey – A root that contains essential vitamins, such as vitamin A and B-12. Comfrey also makes hair smoother, shinier, and aids in detangling

Horsetail – Improves the hair’s elasticity (the hair’s ability to stretch without breaking), promotes hair growth, and has antiseptic properties

Nettle – Used to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth

Pros

The product claims to smooth the hair, leave the hair soft, add shine, and manage frizz. My hair definitely experienced these results. My twists were nice and juicy after product application. My hair was very soft, shiny, and defined when I removed the twists.

The product doesn’t have a strong scent. So if you’re sensitive to strong scents, you will appreciate that about this product.

I also didn’t need to apply a lot of the product for it to be effective. I am usually heavy-handed with product, but only used one pump of the foam on each twist.

Cons

 The only con I noticed was that my twists kept coming unraveled at the ends, which I don’t typically experience with heavier cream-based stylers. So next time I use this product, I will add some small yellow perm rods to the ends.

Final Verdict

I’m glad I experimented with this product. It contains quality ingredients and I achieved my desired results. Finding products on clearance is a good way to experiment with new products and brands. If the product doesn’t give you the results you want, then you’re not out of a lot of money since you didn’t pay full price. I also plan on trying foam stylers from other brands to compare the results.

Have you used a foam before for a twist or braid out? What were your results?

Results

Foam

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?

Back view

Front view length check

Back View 2

Wash and go

 

How to get your braid out in formation!

Slay

Braid outs are one of my favorite natural hair styles! When I first went natural, I stayed away from braid outs, because I was a slow braider. But with practice, I became a faster braider and developed a technique that works for me and gives me consistent results. Every natural should have a go-to style. A style that is easy for you to do, doesn’t take a long time, and gives you the results you want. So here are the products and method I use to create my go-to style.

Products:

Here’s an acronym I use to help me remember the order in which to apply products to get the maximum results from my style: LOS. You want your braid out to be moisturized, shiny, and defined! Slay, honey!

L – Leave-in Conditioner – Make sure the first ingredient in the product you choose is water. This should be a light-weight product that moisturizes your hair, but doesn’t weigh the hair down. You may also opt to use a hair milk, which, depending on the brand will be about the same consistency as a leave-in conditioner; maybe a little heavier.

O – Oil – Use an oil to seal in the moisture from your leave-in conditioner. Some great options include coconut, olive, jojoba, or avocado oil. These oils are lightweight and will not only help your hair retain moisture, but also add shine. I try to avoid heavy oils such as castor oil because it weighs the hair down and you want your style to have movement. Like, blow in the wind movement J

S – Styler – My styler is usually a thick cream or a gel. You only need a small amount of styler since, again, you don’t want to weight the hair down. A cream styler will add additional moisture and provide definition. Using a gel will also define the hair, but will give it a little more hold than a styler. Just make sure your gel doesn’t contain alcohol because alcohol dries out the hair.

Here are the products I have been using recently to help me achieve my braid-outs.

L- My all-time favorite leave-in conditioner is the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow & Restore Leave-in Conditioner (say that 10 times fast!). This product moisturizes and defines my curls like no other! Seriously, 90% of the time, this product is in my hair. When Ulta had this brand on sale, I bought 3 of them….the last 3 they had on the shelf (sorry, not sorry).

http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod11361003

O- I use a mixture of coconut and olive oil, which you can find at the grocery store. Make sure the oil is organic and un-refined so you can receive the maximum benefits from the product. I add the oils to an applicator bottle for easier use.

S- I use the Design Essentials Defining Crème Gel. A little goes a long way! It has a thick buttery consistency and smells great.

http://www.sallybeauty.com/design-essentials-gel/SBS-671004,default,pd.html

Products

Method:

I part my hair in the direction I want my hair to fall. I prefer a side part to give my hair more volume.

Braid pattern

Make sure each section is thoroughly detangled before braiding by using a wide tooth comb or a Denman brush. I only detangle after the products above are added to my hair to reduce breakage.

I braid each section until I get to about 1 inch from the bottom of my hair and then I two-strand twist. This gives a nice curl at the ends so my ends don’t look blunt (and boring!).

Ends

Since I do a side part, I end up with 6 braids on one side and 8 braids on the other side.

The number of braids you create depends on the look you’re trying to achieve. For a more defined look, have more braids. For a wavier look, have fewer braids. I will have about 20 braids for a more defined look and between 14-16 braids for a wavier look.

I allow my hair to air-dry overnight and I sleep on a satin pillow case, which I bought from Walmart.

Take-down:

Make sure your hair is completely dry before you remove your braids to reduce frizz.

After I take down all my braids, I fluff and separate to achieve my desired look. I separate my hair where the hair naturally separates. Don’t force the braid to separate or that will lead to frizz. I have a lot of hair, so I don’t do a ton of fluffing since my hair will get bigger throughout the day.

Then I use an edge control to slick down my edges and prevent fly-a-ways in the crown area. I use the Curls Passion Fruit Control Paste, which is another GOAT product for me!

http://www.target.com/p/curls-passion-fruit-curl-control-paste-4-fl-oz/-/A-13457165

To finish the look, I spray a little hair spray to reduce frizz. I use the Tressume Extra Hold Hair Spray. It has a pleasant smell, reduces frizz, and doesn’t leave my hair helmet hard!

http://www.walmart.com/ip/TRESemme-Extra-Hold-Hair-Spray-14.6-oz/17177026

Maintenance:

At night, I sleep with a loc soc over my hair.

http://soclocsoc.com/

I don’t re-braid my hair each night. Some people choose to re-braid at night, but I am a self-proclaimed “lazy natural” so……. I use the loc soc to preserve my style. But you can choose to re-braid each night in larger sections.

And there you have it! My products and steps to achieve my braid out.  I also encourage you to experiment with different stylers and with the different number of braids to add a variety!

Hair down

Definition

Front view

So, tell me, what are some of your favorite products to help you achieve your go-to style? And what is your go-to style?