Archive: June 2013

10 Tips on Surviving Two Under Two
I am officially a "two under two" survivor!
6 Natural Hair Tips for Busy Moms
You are just as important as everyone else. Take the time to take care of you too!
Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography

Get motivated and set a goal
It’s important to remind yourself why you have decided to make the transition from relaxed to natural. Why do you want to go natural? Once you've got that in mind, set a goal and start working towards it. Be prepared. Some days might be better than others and there may be some bad hair days. Take a minute to remind yourself what it is that you want to achieve. Find your Hairspiration! Find whoever or whatever it is that inspires and encourages you to keep pushing and continue with this journey!

Start off with a good trim
Get rid of those split, thin ends. Whether you’re planning on transitioning long term or short term, if your ends aren't in good condition, it’s best to let them go. As you get further into your transition, they’ll become more fragile and brittle. Remember, focus on the health rather than length! You might also want to consider getting regular trims, cutting off an inch or two with each trim.

Ease up off the heat
I know this may be hard for some of you transitioning ladies, but I promise it’s for the best! By limiting the amount of heat you use, you’re keeping your hair healthy and your hair will be less prone to breakage. Breakage is inevitable, but blow drying and flat ironing your hair just makes it worse! The goal is to keep you hair as healthy as possible during this transition.

You also risk damaging your natural hair. That’s the hair you want to keep, so you don’t want to fry it. To keep breakage at bay, lay off the heat. This brings me to tip number 3…
  Find a transitioning hair style
The goal is to blend two completely different hair textures into one. This could be bantu knot outs, twist outs, braid outs, roller sets, flexi rod sets, twist and curls, curl formers, etc... It’s also a great way to limit the amount of heat you use on your hair. Try to master at least two protective styles so you don’t get bored and frustrated with your hair.

Protect those edges!
In experimenting with these different styles, you want to make sure you aren't causing a lot of tension on the temple area and the nape of your neck. The hair in these places are the thinnest and most delicate, and are prone to breakage. You also don’t want to cause early stages of traction alopecia from pulling your hair too tight.

Be gentle!
You want to be as gentle as possible with your hair! The point where your natural hair and your relaxed hair meets (line of demarcation) is the WEAKEST part of the hair. You don’t want to cause unnecessary breakage by pulling and tugging on your hair.

Also, as the hair grows longer, those relaxed ends will become thinner and weaker. You don’t want to cause those to break prematurely either from being to rough. 

Learn how to successfully detangle your hair
You want to figure out what’s the best detangling method for you without causing a lot of stress and breakage to your hair. Some say it’s best to detangle when the hair is wet (gently), while detangling on dry hair works better for others. Find out what works for you!

Experiment with different products different hair styles to see what works for you. Make sure you keep your receipts! Most beauty and hair care items are returnable. Keep your receipts so you don’t end up with a bathroom full of products that you don’t like.

Keep your hair and scalp clean
In experimenting with different hair products, you want to make sure to keep your hair and scalp clean to avoid product build up. Washing your hair every 1-2 weeks should suffice.  

Step your moisture game up….wayyyy up!!
Moisturize from ROOT to TIP! Keeping your hair moisturized and nourished is important for any hair type (relaxed and natural), but it is especially important when you’re dealing with two totally different textures. Relaxed hair tends to be weaker than  natural hair, so it is definitely important to keep your hair moisturized to prevent breakage.

Deep Condition weekly
Deep conditioning weekly further prevents the hair from breakage and keeps it well nourished. Step it up a notch by adding heat. Sit under a hooded dryer, a steamer, or throw on your Hair Therapy Wrap This opens up the hair cuticles and allows conditioner to really penetrate the hair shaft. Be sure to rinse your conditioner out with cool water to close up those cuticles and lock in that moisture.

It’s also important to maintain you hair’s protein-moisture balance. The proper moisture/protein balance is necessary for the overall quality of your hair. One without the other leads to breakage. Over moisturized hair (Yes, it’s possible) can lead to breakage, and protein deficient hair can lead to breakage as well. In the same respect, too much protein or moisture can lead to breakage. Check out this article for more info on balancing protein and moisture levels. 

Still confused?? Check out the video below where Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair, uses pasta to help us understand the protein/moisture balance a little better. 

From Girlfriends to CURLfriends
   Just like any major life change, you’re going to need the support and advice from people who know what you’re going through. You may have friends who know nothing about natural hair and transitioning, so they may not understand what you’re going through. There is a plethora of natural hair blogs and websites as well as Facebook groups and Google+ communities dedicated to us curly girls. Make some curlfriends to help with your transition!    
Learn to love your hair!
This is extremely important in this journey. Love the hair you have on your head, both relaxed and natural. Don’t focus too much on the hair someone else has because it will just leave you disappointed and wishing you had hair like theirs. Everyone’s hair is different. Love and embrace what God gave you.

This summer, I've decided to get Senegalese Twists as my protective style for the summer. As mentioned in the Protective Styling post, protective styling is a great way to protect your ends from breaking and splitting. It promotes and maintains the overall health of your hair and it also aids in length retention. 

When I want to put my hair away for a while, I usually go for box braids. This time I opted for Senegalese twists. I've been seeing a lot of ladies rocking Senegalese twists lately and I've never had them before, so I decided to give them a try. I decided to do a protective style this summer for a few reasons:

To Prevent Breakage
When my hair was out, I started to experience some breakage. I was in my hair every day styling it and  experimenting with different styles. I was re-twisting my hair every night, and on lazy nights I just threw my bonnet over my fro. Constant manipulation is what caused my hair to break. I wasn't putting my natural hair in any protective styles (up do's, mini twists, etc...), rocking twist outs and puffs every day, so my hair was open to damage from the environment (wind, sun, etc...).  My hair also felt dry every day, so I decided it was time to put it up.

I Needed a Break!
Besides, I needed a break from doing my hair. Don't get me wrong, I love my hair, but sometimes it's a bit time consuming and I just don't feel like doing it. I wasn't keeping up with my weekly washes and deep conditioning treatments because I was too tired. I just needed a break from doing my hair. Also, I haven't mastered the wash n' go yet, and my twist outs were not going to last in this NYC heat.

Length Retention & Growth
I wanted a low manipulation hair style that would allow me to still moisturize my hair and retain my length. Since my hair was breaking, I didn't want my daily manipulation to cause more breakage. I did a protein treatment before installing the Senegalese twists followed by a moisturizing conditioner and did a light trim to get rid of single strand knots and any split ends. My hair has grown a lot since I decided to wear it out. I want it to continue to grow even longer (I'm hoping to reach full shoulder length by next summer for my wedding). I may do protective styles for the rest of the year just so my ends are protected and to get as much growth as possible.

So far my Senegalese twists are holding up pretty well. Last weekend I washed just my scalp. The front of my hair is a little frizzy, while the back is extremely frizzy.  I used the method that Jenell of Kinky Curly Coily Me used when her hair was in Senegalese twists. Check out her video How to Wash Senegalese Twists (LOW FRIZZ!) to see how she washed her hair with Senegalese twists. I followed that method exactly. I used the Shea Moisture Yucca and Baobab Shampoo for Thin, Fine Hair. I used Shea Moistuure Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner to condition my hair and my oil mix to seal in the moisture and to oil my scalp (the oil mix contains sweet almond oil, castor oil, and peppermint oil).

I'm hoping to keep these twists in for another three weeks. I could probably go a bit longer, but that all depends on the state of my hair.

I encourage you ladies to try a protective style for the summer, or to begin making protective styling part of your hair care regimen. You're hair will love you for it!
Protective styling can be very beneficial for you hair.

What is Protective Styling?
There are many ways to define protective styling and there are many methods as well. With protective styles, the hair isn't worn loose. Protective styling requires all or most of the hair to be tucked away, especially the ends of the hair since they are the oldest and most fragile part of the hair. Protective styling promotes and maintains the overall health of your hair and it helps you retain length.

Why Protective Style? 

Most naturals protective style because of the low maintenance that comes with protective styling. Styling natural hair can be time consuming. Those with busy schedules simply may not have time to dedicate to weekly hair maintenance. Re-twisting every night to make sure you have a bomb twist out just doesn't fit into your busy schedule. Or, you simply just don't feel like doing anything to your hair! The beauty in protective styling is that your hair looks presentable without spending a lot time on it.

Others protective style because of length retention. Fellow naturals may be unable to get their hair to grow past a certain length because their ends aren't protected from:

  • The friction created from your clothing. Throughout the day, the friction created from your hair rubbing against your clothing (shirts, sweaters, scarves, etc...) can cause your hair to snap and break. This can also happen with any knitted surface, such as the head rest of your car seat, your couch, and chairs. Protective styling prevents this, as your ends are tucked away and are safe from breakage. 
  • External factors. In practicing protective styling, you can protect your hair from the damage caused by the sun, wind, and/or snow. Damage from external factors can cause breakage and split ends.
  • Everyday manipulation of the hair can also stunt hair growth. Constant combing and handling of the hair can be damaging since the hair is prone to breakage. 
  • The Hand in Hair Syndrome a lot of us naturals seem to struggle with can also be damaging to the hair. This consists of the constant touching, twisting, twirling, and playing in our hair. We want to touch our hair and feel our soft curls but this may be what is causing our hair to break. Constantly touching our hair throughout not only causes frizz, but it can also lead to breakage and single strand knots. 

Maintaining Healthy Protective Styles

Tension: If your hair is too tight (especially if it's in Senegalese twist, box braids), don't be afraid to have them redone so they aren't so tight. Yes, they get looser in a couple of days, but you may be causing permanent damage to your hair and scalp. Traction alopecia is real and it can sometimes be permanent. I suffer from traction alopecia in a couple of spots around my edges and I also have thin edges from tight box braids in the past and from my own pulling and tugging at my hair (more info on that in a later post). The hair is starting to grow in, but it is important to keep tension at a minimum.

Moisture: Many women put their hair away in a protective style and completely forget about their hair. That is a big NO NO!! I made this mistake plenty of times in the past when putting my hair up in braids. Our hair is up, but we cannot get lazy with moisturizing. It is still important to moisturize your hair while in a protective style. This prevents dryness, breakage, and split ends. You're hair can still benefit from some TLC while it's in a protective style.

Time: You shouldn't leave your hair in a protective style for too long. Doing so can cause unwanted stress on the hair. Also, depending on the protective style, there may be a build up of lint and dirt on the hair. This is seen especially in box braids or Senegalese twists. Dirt and lint gets trapped at the base of the braid, which can be difficult to remove from the hair. To prevent this, try washing the hair every couple of weeks to keep dirt and lint at bay. If this doesn't work, then it's time to take your hair out of its protective style!
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