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Archive: February 2014

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 Source | Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography


Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about everything you need to know about caring for your natural hair. We discussed some of the pros of going natural and some important musts that come with being natural, like keeping the hair moisturized. We’ve also learned how important it is to assess your natural hair, looking at things like hair texture and hair porosity and assessing any damage to your hair, which will all determine which products are best to use for your hair. Last week, we learned about some of the essential products you’ll need for your hair when building a hair regimen to help maintain the protein-moisture balance for optimal length retention.


All of these things are fine and dandy, but it's pointless and won't work unless you’re consistent with your hair regimen. Consistency is so important when developing a natural hair regimen. If you expect to see results, consistency is key. You won’t always find what works for your hair right away. It takes some experimenting to figure out what your hair likes and what your hair doesn’t like, and this could take a while. Like anything in life, it's a process, and by using your products consistently, you'll see results.

For the product junkies, it may be time go to product junkie rehab and narrow your products down to the essentials so you can see what actually works for your hair. Trying multiple new hair products at the same time "just because" isn't ideal if your trying to develop a solid regimen. As a recovering product junkie, I know it’s hard, but if your constantly using different products on your hair just for the fun of it, you’ll never know what’s working and what’s not working. 


Quick side note: After using a certain product for a while, your hair develops some kind of immunity and gets used to it, causing your hair to not react to it the same way. Usually there’s a simple solution to this: Clarify your hair! If clarifying doesn’t work, it may be time to try something new. Doesn't mean go out and be a product junkie again! Just buy something to replace the product that's not working for you anymore and test it out.


Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track:


Set a Time Frame | Challenge yourself by setting a time frame to stick to some products. Try sticking to them for four-six months. Of course, if a product doesn't do anything for your hair the first couple uses or if it's drying your hair out, try something different. But if it's decent, give it a go for a while!


Set a Natural Hair Goal | Give yourself a goal and a time frame to accomplish it. When you set goals for yourself, you’re more likely to stay consistent and follow through with it because of your motivation. Also, try to set realistic goals. For example: Wanting to reach waist length when your hair is only shoulder length in three months isn’t realistic, since hair grows an average of 1-1.5 inches a month. You’ll find yourself disappointed setting unrealistic hair goals.


Selfie Time! | Well, not necessarily a selfie, but when you’re on a hair journey, it’s important to take pictures to track your progress. Before, I was just taking pictures because I thought my hair was cute, not thinking about tracking any progress, but pictures definitely help. I especially take pictures whenever I’m doing a blow out on my hair so I can see differences in length. Taking pictures is a good way to see if your current regimen is working or not. Seeing differences in length, shine, curl definition, and just overall health of your hair lets you know you’re on the right track, and it’ll motivate you to continue whatever it is you’re doing.


Re-stock | If you've found something that’s been working for your hair, you don’t want to run out of it, especially a conditioner/deep conditioner. To stay consistent, you need your products around! You don’t want to start using something different when you've run out of your essential products. When I’m buying products, I either buy large bottles of it, or buy more than one, especially with my conditioners since I’m always running out of conditioner since I use a ton of it (good thing the products I use are relatively affordable, right?)


Slow and Steady Wins the Race | Take it one day at a time with your natural hair journey. Have patience! It’ll take a while to see results, so don’t rush the process or give up. 

Fellowship with Other Naturals | Talking to other naturals is a great way to stay encouraged and motivated on your natural hair journey. The love and support from the natural hair community is amazing, and it’ll just encourage you to stay focused. Reading blogs and watching YouTube videos are great ways to get some inspiration, some product suggestions and where to buy, and some info on how to care for your hair.  

I hope you all enjoyed this Natural Hair 101 series! You’ll continue to have to have to assess your hair and build a regimen because things change all throughout out natural hair journey. 

**This post was inspired by the ABCs of Natural Hair, a series from Krystal K. of The Feisty House. Check out her posts here:
Marley Twists
Now that things have picked up at school, finding the time to do my hair this semester will definitely be a challenge! I've been on a hair growth journey since my bout  with hair thinning back in October. Taking five English classes this semester (yes...FIVE), I won't have a lot of time to dedicate to rewtisting my hair every night and styling it, so I decided it was time to put in a protective style, one that I wouldn't have to worry about touching up every few days, which I tend to have to do if I'm wearing my hair in flat twists.

I opted for Marley twists! I was on the fence on whether or not I should go get my hair professionally done by my African hair braider, or if I should just try to put these bad boys in myself. If I payed to have them put in, they'd last a bit longer and would be more secure versus me trying to do it myself and having the twists slip. Knowing how tight they braid, I decided to do them myself. I didn't want to risk losing hair or experiencing thinning because of the extra tension on my hair and scalp. They snatch every little piece, and while the end result looks nice, it's painful for the next few days! My hair has thickened up a bit and it's growing, and I don't want to go back to where I was in October. Besides, I kind of know how to braid with extensions from when I would touch up my braids in the past, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I also know how much tension my hair and scalp can take, so my braids were secure, but not tight to the point where my scalp hurts(that's never a good thing!)


I bought my hair from my local beauty supply store. I knew I wanted medium sized  twists, so I got six packs of hair ($5.99 each). I ended up only using three packs and a maybe five pieces from a fourth pack. My beauty supply store had quite a selection of Marley Hair to choose from. The one I bought was the only Marley Hair in my beauty supply store that felt soft and more like my own hair. Other brands felt super coarse, dry, and rough, which I didn't like.

It took me about five hours to install the twists. I watched lots of Youtube videos on how to make your twists look natural and seamless using the invisible method to blend the Marley Hair with your own hair, but I could not figure it out to save my life! The Marley Hair kept slipping, and I just didn't have the patience to try to get it right. Instead, I just stuck with what I know. I braided about a half an inch down, and then twisted the rest of the way down. At least this way I knew for sure that my twists would be secure. They kind of look like dread locs, but I love them!

To moisturize, I spritz my hair with my water, aloe vera juice, and olive oil spritz. Then, I use either my Kimmaytube Leave in Conditioner Mix (love this stuff! I use Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream as my base) or Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner and EVOO or Coconut Oil to seal in the moisture. I only moisturize a little less than half way down the twists, which is where my hair ends in the twist. Whatever's left over, I'll rub down the remainder of the twists just to soften the hair. I then oil my scalp with my oil mixture, and that's it! I do this every other night.

I washed my scalp last week because it was super itchy! I used this method here from BlakizBeautyful, better known as Jenell Stewart, using Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner, and my scalp loved every minute of it!

I'm loving my Marley Twists, so I plan on keeping these in for maybe another three weeks, and then I'll take them down right before my birthday in March, give my hair some TLC and let it rest for about a week, and then put them right back in. It's just easier not having to do my hair, especially since I have a busy semester ahead of me. And I just started doing T25 this week (deets coming about that soon), so I don't have time to co-wash every day.

So far, two thumbs up for Marley twists!
Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography


So last time, we talked about assessing your natural hair. Assessing the condition of your natural hair is important because it'll help you figure out what products are best for your particular hair type, texture, and any issues you may be facing with your hair, like dryness or breakage. When building your natural hair regimen, the most important thing is to build one that will give your hair the proper protein-moisture balance it needs for optimal health. A good natural hair regimen should include the following:

Pre-poo

Pre-pooing your hair provides your hair with so much moisture before the shampoo process, preventing your hair from drying out. Before shampooing, clarifying, or co-washing your hair, apply an oil of your choice to your hair, cover it with a shower cap, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. So the moisture can really penetrate the strands, sitting under a hooded dryer helps. Pre-pooing also helps with the detangling process. Before I shampoo/co-wash my hair, I use either coconut oil or olive oil on my hair, finger detangle, and then let it sit for a while before I move on to the next step. My hair is easier to work with because I've already detangled prior to washing, and my hair is uuuubbbeerrr soft!

Shampoo/Clarifying Shampoo

A shampoo or any clarifying shampoo helps to remove any build up that your hair might incur from styling throughout the weeks. I shampoo with a mild no sulfate shampoo only when I need my hair to be clean, but not squeaky clean (I use Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo.) I clarify with my ACV rinse when I feel my hair needs some deeeep cleaning. It's important to shampoo/clarify your hair because build up prevents moisture from getting into the hair, no matter how many times you co-wash and deep condition (it's just product sitting on top of product, basically.) However, don't shampoo or clarify too often because it can strip your hair of its moisture. 

Conditioner

Conditioning is sooo important! It puts back all the moisture you lose after shampooing. Use a moisturizing, conditioner that has lots of slip to detangle your strands, working in sections as you do so. Working in sections makes detangling a lot easier, and you lose less hair since you're not raking your comb through your whole head. For even more length retention, try finger detangling! I know finger detangling can take a while to get used to, but it really is something worth trying. Something I had to do to work my way up to it was to do as much finger detangling as possible, removing the major knots and tangles, and then I used my wide tooth comb. That way, you're not combing through major knots and tangles, which can cause your hair to snap and break if you're not careful. 

Deep Conditioner

Deep conditioning your hair is an absolute must. Now, with deep conditioner, you'll need three kinds: a moisturizing deep conditioner, a light protein, and a heavy protein deep conditioner to use once a month. 


  • Moisturizing Deep Treatment // My low-porosity hair screams for moisture! Now that I know my hair a little better after assessing it, I make sure to deep condition with heat at all times because it's so hard getting moisture into my hair. I've been using Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditoner and mixed in some oils and honey as my deep conditioner. It's been working pretty well, but I like it better as a co-wash. I'm on the hunt for a really good deep conditioner with a little more slip. I do a moisturizing deep treatment every other week. 
  • Light Protein Treatment // I do a light protein treatment with Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner on weeks I'm not doing a moisturizing deep treatment, alternating between the two. I started doing this so my hair can maintain the proper protein-moisture balance. Too much of both protein and moisture can lead to breakage, so it's important to incorporate both into your regimen. Protein treatments once a month wasn't working for me since my hair kept breaking because of a moisture overload. Once I started switching things up and adding those light protein treatments in every other week, I noticed less breakage with my hair. It adds just a splash of protein to my hair, making it a bit stronger. 
  • Heavy Protein Treatment // Since our hair is made of protein, it needs protein to stay strong. It's important to do a heavy protein treatment once a month or when needed to add some strength back into your hair. You shouldn't do these often though since too much protein can lead to breakage. I've been using the Egg and Mayo protein treatment every 6 weeks or so. I planned on trying Henna as a protein treatment, but it's just so much work! I need something more low maintenance, less messy, and less time consuming (my time is limited being a college student!) The Cherry Lola Treatment seems doable, so I think I may give that a try once I take down my Marley Twists (post coming up about those soon). 
Leave-in Conditioner

Applying a leave-in conditioner after you wash/co-wash your hair gives your hair some added moisture. I've been using my Kimmaytube Leave-in Conditioner with Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In, Aloe Vera Juice, JBCO, and Olive Oil, and my hair has been loving it. It adds moisture and balances out my hair's pH. This also doubles up as a styler for me, giving me great definition, so that's always a plus!

Moisturizer

We've been talking about moisture all throughout this post because it really is that important. Opt for a water-based moisturizer that doesn't contain any mineral oil or petroleum, as that will just sit on top of your hair, preventing moisture from getting into your strands. I do the L.O.C method every other day, spritzing with water, applying an oil, and then my Kimmaytube Leave-In. 

Sealant

After moisturizing your hair, it's important to seal with some type of oil or butter to lock all of that moisture in. I've been using either Coconut Oil or EVOO to seal my hair, and my hair loves both oils! 


**This post was inspired by the ABCs of Natural Hair, a series from Krystal K. of The Feisty House. Check out her posts here:
Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography


These next few segments of the Natural Hair 101 series is inspired by a series Krystal K. of The Feisty House did on her blog called ABC's of Natural Hair. She has really helpful info on assessing natural hair that some naturals don't necessarily think about. They have issues with things like breakage, dryness, and length retention with no real reason why their hair is behaving the way it is. 

You can check out Krystal's series here:



It's important to assess your hair to figure out what your hair needs and what products to use to meet those needs. I've been natural going on three years now, and it has definitely been no easy feat figuring out my hair and how to care for it. While my hair is at the longest its ever been since I was a little girl, my biggest issue over this past year has been breakage! I'm still dealing with it, but with a few changes in my regimen, I'm noticing a lot less breakage in my hair. I'm just now starting to figure out my hair, what works, what to change/eliminate, and how to better care for it.

Everyone's hair is different. When I went natural, I only used products based on word of mouth, which led to my product junky-ism because I wanted to try EVERYTHING (I've gone to product junky rehab, so I haven't been buying anything new lately. I still have a closet full of products which I'm trying to just use up.) It was only towards the end of 2013 when I started learning about things like pH balance and hair porosity. Uh, HELLO?!?!? Where have I been for my first two years of being natural?? I mean, I knew the basics, like no sulfates, no silicones (which, by the way, is debatable because like I said, every head is different…silicones may work for one head while it may not for the other), deep condition, etc… Not that these things aren't important, BUT, things like pH balance and hair porosity, and hair texture are equally (if not more) important as well, don’t you think? I think so. I mean, how can you truly know what products to use without really knowing your hair, assessing the qualities of it as well as any damage it my have? 

For example: moisturizing and sealing is crucial when it comes to natural hair care. One sealant that naturals have fallen head over heels with is Shea Butter. However, Shea Butter may not be ideal for naturals with thin, fine strands, as it can weigh the hair down. So, what’s my point? You may go out and buy some Shea Butter because you saw how well it works for some naturals, but let's say it doesn't work out like you expected. I mean, you've heard such great things about it, so it should work, right? Shea Butter is ideal for naturals with thicker, coarser hair because their strands can take it. But, if you’re a natural with a finer texture, Shea Butter may weigh your strands down. You may have to try using just a little at a time, or just eliminating it from your regimen and trying something else. Do you see why things like knowing your hair texture is important now? Knowing things like your hair texture, porosity, whether you're protein sensitive or not, is important because when you know these things about your hair, you'll be able to make better choices when buying hair products instead of choosing what looks good, what’s new, or what other naturals are trying (which is a mistake I think some natural make). Okay, enough of my rambling already...on to the assessment!
Products 

What are some of the products you're currently using in your hair regimen? It's important to assess the products you are using because the products you are using may be attributed to any damage you see in your hair. The key to keeping your hair healthy and length retention is moisture and a protein-moisture balance. Natural hair is more susceptible to dryness because the natural sebum that our scalp produces cannot travel down the curves and bends of our hair, so it's important that we moisturize our hair on a daily basis to prevent breakage. Some ingredients to steer clear from that causes dryness, leading to breakage, are:
  • Amonium and sodium laurel/ laureth sulfate: this is a detergent found in most shampoos used for its cleansing and foaming properties. Sulfates strips your hair of its natural oils giving it that squeaky clean feeling and leaving it feeling dry and brittle. 
  • Lanolin, petroleum, and mineral oil: these ingredients are often found in products geared towards "Black hair." They offer no moisturizing properties at all, simply coating the hair, which prevents moisture from getting into the hair. They don't penetrate the hair shaft or the scalp. They just sit on top of it, causing product build up. For an alternative, try natural oils, like jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc...  
  • Alcohol: Now, I know how you ladies like to slick down those edges with some gel. But, certain gels contain alcohol, which, can be drying to the hair. Alcohols like ethyl alcohol or isopryl alcohol (you know, the one you use for scrapes and burns), act as solvents, dissolving any moisture from your skin and hair. Not all alcohols are bad though. Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol are what you call long chain fatty alcohols, serving as a moisturizing agent. If you're using a gel or any product that contains alcohols that dry your hair, switch it up!
  • Silicones: This one is debatable. Silicones really aren't as bad as people make them out to be. In all honesty, it really depends on the person and their hair! Silicones typically found in conditioners, and it's what provides great slip when it comes to detangling. They're usually hard to pronounce, but anything ending in "cone," "col," "conol," or "zane" is probably a silicone. The problem with siliciones for some people is that it tends to cause build up, especially since the silicones found in condtioners, like dimethicone, are not water soluble. There are some water soluble silicones, like stearoxy dimethicone. Now, some people experience build up when using products that contain silicones, and the simple solution is to clarify your hair. If you have build up on your hair, it's harder for any moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. If silicones work for your hair, carry on!
  • Parabens: Parabens are waxes used in products to act as a preservative. They act as anti-microbials and anti-fungals. That's all fine and dandy because they prevent fungus and bacteria from growing on your hair and scalp, BUT, the fact that they are waxes says enough. Water can't penetrate through wax, so moisture can't get to your hair.
Protection and Styling
How you protect and style your hair is important. Natural hair is delicate and very susceptible to breakage, so it's important to make sure you treat it with care if you want it to remain healthy.
  • Protective styling is so important! I was one of those naturals who thought I didn't need to wear protective styles, and because of it, I experienced breakage and didn't retain any length. My hair is very fine, so wearing it out and manipulating it every day isn't ideal for me. Since I have such a busy life with school, work, wedding planning, and more, I have no choice but to wear my hair in a protective style because I don't have the time to twist up my hair every night.
  • Finger detangling will be your best friend! Yes, it takes longer, but your fingers will cause less damage to your hair than your comb will. If you absolutely have to use a comb, try finger detangling as much as possible first so all the major knots and tangles are out, and then run your comb through once or twice.
  • Satin scarf/bonnet/pillowcase will keep your hair from drying out. It doesn't suck up moisture like a cotton pillow or scarf would.
  • Try using a t-shirt to dry your hair instead of a towel. Not only will your hair be less-frizzy, but there will be less damage. Wet hair is even more susceptible to damage, so drying and rubbing your hair with a towel causes damage to your cuticles.
I hope this was helpful for you ladies! Next time, we'll talk about what you need to build your regimen.
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