Friday, January 30, 2009

R.I.P: The Body Shop detangling comb.

The description:
Best if you want to:
Teach wet hair to co-operate with a wide-tooth wooden comb that evenly distributes conditioner and detangles without splitting ends. $7.00

I have tried so many combs but I had such high hopes for this one.
Wooden combs are supposed to be great for fragile hair because they are seamless and smooth.

The problem for me was more in the structure than the material. The comb itself is 5 inches long and it's teeth are 1.2 inches long. The teeth are squared at the ends and the space between them is about half a centimeter. The teeth are too narrow and short my hair. If I had seen it in person I wouldn't have bought it. The proportions were not listed on the site.

This comb would probably be better for straighter, less dense hair.

I've read that the Mason Pearson also has square teeth so maybe I'll go with a bone comb instead.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Caring for oils.

I noticed that some of my oils would lose their efficacy faster than the listed shelf life. Oils eventually go bad but extending their properties is easy.

-Keep them in the dark bottles they come in. Sunlight denatures oil.
-Store them in cool places away from heat. High temperatures are the enemy of oil.
-Keep the bottles tightly closed after use. Air promotes rancidity.
-If you transfer your oils to transparent bottles, keep them in a dark place like your closet or dresser.

Oil vs. Moisture

A hot oil treatment enriches the scalp and hair especially when using oils with penetrating properties. The oils contain essential fatty acids (EFA's). The sebum produced naturally by the scalp also contains EFA's. EFA's can help porous and dry hair become more soft flexible.

Moisturizing conditioning treatments contain humectants that help keep up the moisture level in the hair which also makes hair softer and more pliable.

A good treatment should contain both. That's why one of the best ways to enhance a mediocre conditioner is to add some extra virgin olive oil (high in EFA's) and honey (humectant).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dickey on the First Lady's sleek look.

Michelle Obama

Her sleek hairstyle
If you have naturally curly or kinky hair, the least-damaging way to straighten it is to blow-dry hair with a comb attachment, says hair stylist Dickey, whose celebrity clients include Michelle Obama. Before styling, use a sulfate-free shampoo (try Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream, $22) to minimize the dryness your hair texture is prone to, and a leave-in conditioner or heat protectant to seal in moisture and buffer heat, he says.

More on Michelle's hair and look at:

**Not trying to start another heated debate**

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blackstrap Molasses

I've been very curious about blackstrap molasses for about a year now.
I don't know if I looked hard enough but I couldn't find it in Publix or Walmart. I went to Kroger during my lunch break and found it on a bottom shelf with the other organic products.
I thought I got the wrong kind but the only ingredient listed on the label is "Organic Blackstrap Molasses". I went on their site and confirmed that I had the right kind.

The smell is so familiar. I know it's probably used to make some kind of treat that I've smelled and disliked in the West Indies. The taste is bitter. I commend those who drink it for it's health benefits. I don't think I'd be able to get it down.

I've heard many testimonies of soft yet strong hair (and who doesn't love that) after using this stuff. I have to do a little more research before deciding how I'm going to apply this treatment.
I found one way of doing it on a site that promotes natural remedies but I can just imagine trying to glide this super sticky substance (try saying that 5X's fast) down my strands and ending up causing more harm than good.

Simply massage about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of blackstrap molasses (depending on the length of your hair) into your tresses, then cover with a shower cap and allow it to set as long as possible (for an hour or even more, if you can.) Rinse with warm water.

I'll definitely keep you guys posted and if any one has any suggestions on how to use it, I'd very much appreciate them.

Night time care.

Every night, I massage my Extra Virgin Coconut oil (EVCO) mix into my edges and around my hair line. The mix is about 1.5 tbs of EVCO, and 3 drops of peppermint, rosemary and tea tree essential oils.
I do not believe that this brings about any significant or accelerated growth but I know moisturizing my edges consistently has yielded great results like any other healthy hair care practice would.

During my hair care ignorant days, I used the curling iron daily on my edges and nape. Needless to say, this caused damage. Today, my edges are fuller and my hair line is not falling out or breaking.

Jamaican Black Castor oil and Jojoba oil are also excellent carrier oils to use along with your essential oils.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Perm rod tutorial

Saleema rocks.
This is when she was transitioning to natural.
I'm sure my perm rod set won't come out like this.
It'll probably be a little cuter. Lol!

Cathy Howse on Protein/Hairdressers

I once had a hairdresser who told me that too much protien will make your hair weak and brittle. I use to use a protien conditioner and she said that I shouldn't do that because it wasn't good for the hair to use constantly. So, I guess I'm asking you if there is such a thing as "too much protien?"

Not if you soften it with moisturizers. Remember who you got that information from. Sorry but hairdressers are not the most reputable people to get hair care information from, if they were, there would have been no need for my research or book. Use protein but ensure your hair is moisturized to keep it softened. I have used protein since I found its benefits for over 12 years. I still use it 2-3 times per month if I need it. Believing hairdressers, is the reason we don't have hair now. I have proven what I say and protein is very needed but you must soften it.

Experimental "Straw set"

This weekend, I was in a very experimental mood. I don't know what brought on this sudden bout of boldness but in the midst of it all, my eyes landed on some old straws and an unused bottle of S-curl purchased during my days of stalking Aijo's fotki.
I've never tried roller-setting of any kind and I have no reason for using any particular product. I just winged it- curious to see what the end result would look like, and prepared for a hot mess.

On freshly washed and conditioned hair I sprayed water (to smooth), CHI keritan mist leave in, and applied S-curl. I did two strand twists and rolled the hair onto straws securing with a pin. I only did the front of my head. My inexperience was evident because as I was rolling, my twist was unraveling in the opposite direction.
After air drying for about 6hrs, I took out the straws.

The reason I even bothered to show you this mess is because I think it would be an excellent style for transitioners . There's no heat involved and if mastered it can turn out super cute. I'm highly motivated to go on a perm-rod shopping spree because I think they'll yield much better results.

The spirals came out defined and had a lot of hold. A

I tried messing them up but they were very tight because of the short straws
so I smoothed it back with my hands and put on a kinky half wig. My hair is still really soft.
Probably from the S-curl.

With practice, maybe my hair can come out like these two women.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blow drying tip: Air flow direction

One of the most common mistakes made during this heat styling step is the direction we guide the flow of air coming out of the blow dryer.
The cuticle layers of the hair are comparable to that of scales on a fish. If you have some experience cleaning fish, you know that the best way to raise those scales are to use the knife against the way they lay.
The cuticle layers of the hair are pointing toward the end of the hair strand. Blasting air in the opposite direction lifts the hair cuticles and making it more prone to damage, tangles and roughness.
Guide the air flow in the direction the hair grows for shiny hair and flat cuticles.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Intro guide to trying new things

The experimental stages of your hair journey can be an exciting and fun exploration period. It can also bring about setbacks and pitfalls. Experience really is the best teacher, especially when it comes to your hair.
Everyone's hair has specific needs. A product or technique that worked well for someone else won't always work for you. Trial and error is common and necessary to find the perfect fit.

So you're overwhelmed by all the information and products out there, where do you start?

Simplicity is your best bet: the last thing you want to do is go out and buy all your hair idol's products and follow her specific regimen. Follow a basic regimen first and then slowly add the trimmings as you learn more about your hair.
Find your hair twin: Again, there's no guarantee that her methods will work but you can use key details as a guide to finding what will work for you.
Research: If you're thinking about purchasing a line of products, search multiple unbiased sites for customer reviews. Hair boards are particularly helpful if the hair type and texture of the reviewer is listed.
Youtube: Youtube was a tremendous help to me. It's one thing to read a method and it's another to have a clear visual aid. Take advantage of the many hair guru's that post helpful video tutorials.
Learn from bad experiences: If your hair suffered from using a product, toss it. Even if you spent a grip on it, it's not worth keeping if it's causing harm to the health of your hair.

What would your starting out tips be?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ingredients: Panthenol

Doesn't Panthenol sound like something you'd want to avoid in a hair product? It did to me.
Panthenol is actually a vitamin B5 derivative.

Used for:

-Humectant properties
-Provides slip

Drain Maintenance

A low-manipulation regimen usually entails a small palm full of shed hair on wash day.
If you prefer to detangle your hair in the shower, like I do, you know getting all that shed hair in the comb is nearly impossible.
I noticed that the water was taking a little longer to go down the drain than usual. I really was in no mood to purchase Drano so I found a natural alternative online:

You will need: baking soda, vinegar, boiling water, bleach(optional)
-Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar, then pour a kettle of boiling hot water.
Problem solved!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Product Review: Biolage UHB

Biolage Ultra-Hydrating Conditioning Balm. (HydraTherapie Line)

When I initially moved to Atlanta, I went to a salon that used this conditioner on dry hair before shampooing.
The stylist kept telling me how great my hair felt after the treatment. I thought she was trying to get me to buy the product so I just smiled and nodded.
When I got home, I researched the product reviews and after getting a general consensus, I ordered it online. I had to see how well it would hold up at home.
After using it for my steam treatments, I knew it was a definite keeper.
The consistency was just right-not too light or heavy. It made my hair more manageable and soft, the smell was fresh not strong and overbearing, and I had less breakage. I had no complaints.
This is an overall great moisturizing conditioner.
I'm still in the experimenting stages when it comes to my moisturizing conditioners but if I don't find anything better (and I haven't), this is my old faithful. Love it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heat Styled Naturals: The Obama Girls

You can only fully appreciate the enormity of a historic moment when you take a look at the past struggles of a people.
People fought and died for this day so future generations wouldn't see anything impossible about a black man being the leader of the free world.
It's possible. Anything is possible.

Here's Johnny Wright on Michelle Obama's heat styled hair:

I say go back to basics and just keep it simple. Sometimes I flat-iron her hair under, or I use a ceramic curling iron to flip it out at the ends a little bit. With a flat iron she’s going to be able to lock the moisture in the hair. Because she has to get her hair done so often, the flat iron is probably the best tool for her. For an updo, I might do some cascading curls according to how formal the event she’s attending is, but mostly I give her a clean sweep up.

Also, to keep her hair moisturized, I use the Shea Butter conditioner from Fekkai and Glossing Cream. It really keeps the hair moisturized. And Fekkai Coiff Anti-Frizz creme is excellent for that. It’s probably one of my favorite products.

So they say...

In this video, Dr Jindal says we should rub our fingernails together for hair growth ::side eye::
I'm not going to pretend like I didnt do it for three days until I got bored with it, but what benefit does he think it has? Here's what I found on one site:
Rubbing your left and right hand nails with each other is a powerful hair loss solution and causes faster hair growth. It is extremely simple yet very effective. You need to fold both your palms inwards and place the fingernails of both hands against each other. Then with regular swift motions, rub them against each other. There are nerve endings below the nails which are connected to your scalp. This rubbing procedure increases the blood flow to the scalp and helps in strengthening the roots. It not only helps in curbing hair loss, but also leads to regrowth of lost hair in people suffering from baldness or alopecia areata. And if that is not good enough, it also brings back the color naturally thus getting rid of the problem of gray hair. Trust me, it is the best thing you could do for your hair. It is simple and can be done anywhere anytime. Do it for about 5-7 minutes twice a day. It is tried and tested and will definitely show results. You need to be patient though. You will begin to notice a difference in about a month and by the end of 6 months you would probably be successful in ridding yourself of all your hair problems.
I found that this belief is common among Indians and hasn't been given any credibility from many (if any) Western doctors.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dangers of reusing water bottles

I got really sick this week. I immediately knew why. I haven't been properly cleaning the water bottle I take to work everyday.
I've skimmed articles saying not to use plastic bottled water and I've seen videos of experts saying glass is better, but I guess who don't hear, does feel.
I've been taking antibiotics and I'm feeling better now.
Here's what you need to know:

Because water bottles aren't typically washed out and often don't even dry out completely, they become an excellent place for bacteria to take hold. Also, many of the commercial bottles are made with a plastic that is designed to break down over time. The longer the bottles are used, the higher the level of plastic compounds being dissolved into the liquids. (Canadian Journal of Public Health)

COPYRIGHT 2003 Review and Herald Publishing Association
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group


Product Review: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

EVCO is one of the few oils proven to penetrate the hair strand.
Continued usage provides strength and flexibility to hair.

It high in saturated fats and antioxidants which give the oil a long shelf life.

Because it is not broken down easily, it holds moisture keeping hair soft while preventing breakage.

Other components of EVCO include high amounts of lauric acid, vitamin E and anti-dandruff capabilities.

When I add EVCO to my deep conditioning treatments, my hair comes out soft, manageable and shiny. It's one of my favorite oils for hot oil treatments and it added strength to my hair like nothing I've ever used for my daily regimen. I try to use it in different steps throughout my routine. Love it!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Get more zzz's for growth?

Jeany asks, "I read on one blog that you should sleep more to grow your hair. What does sleep have to do with hair?"

Well, I assume the idea is that cell renewal is most active at night when resting thus enabling new hair growth.
Other than that basic principle, I'm not aware of any correlation between hours of sleep and hair length.
I do know that when we're asleep, our hair isnt subjected to the elements or styling manipulation.
If anyone else can provide any other information, please inform us!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't forget your hairline.

A receding hairline is no joke and it's never cute (Naomi). It's one of the most noticeable signs of unhealthy hair. We have an obligation to those delicate hairs that line our scalp. Having a healthy hairline is key to a polished and healthy look.

Here are a few tips that helped me sprout and keep some of those delicate hairs.

-Skip the small and tight braids an weaves. I honestly cannot fathom any amount of growth in the middle of your head being worth a hairline that has eroded two inches back. Opt for larger and looser braids in the front and tell the person braiding your hair to be gentle on the hairline.

-Cover them at night. Every night when I put on my scarf, I make sure to cover as much hair as possible. That includes the little hairs on the nape and as far down the side burns as I can go. A night of tossing and turning can reek havoc on those fragile hairs.

-Don't forget moisturize or lubricate. I used castor oil for a while and saw great results and now I use coconut oil mixed with essential oils around my hairline every night. I used to fake "baby hair" in H.S, now I have them naturally!

-Watch out for sulfates in your facial cleanser. When I'm doing my face regimen, I'm always mindful of any product coming in contact with my hair. I always rinse well with water afterward and follow with my bedtime hair regimen.

If you have any other tips that work for you, I'd love to hear them.

My scarf issues

You ever have those nights where you're so ready to just melt into the bed that you tightly tie your satin scarf to your head without any regard for the circulation to your brain?
I've done this countless times. It results in headaches, dents and bruises.

I found a little tip that helped: Either put a stocking (wave) cap over the scarf after tying it or put a head band on to hold the scarf in place. It's simple and it works.

The cotton pillow case also made me a little weary so that caused me to tie my scarf tighter for fear of it coming off when I tussled and turned at night .
I'm looking into making the switch to satin or silk pillow cases.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fear of Glycerin

Glycerin is hailed as an effective natural hair moisturizer by many who use it. I was well on my way to Publix to try some out before I found some troubling user reviews. The accounts were all similar. They went outside and ended up with dried out hair.
Why would a humectant dry out hair?
If you live in a very dry environment, a highly concentrated humectant can pull moisture from your hair onto the surface where it evaporates.
This is why it is important to factor in the climate when measuring out the glycerin to water ratio.
Dry hair scares me to death. I'm too intimidated to experiment, even with all the reviews from people who use it successfully.
How does your mix measure up?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Flat Iron Temperature

Everyone loves a Sedu iron. It's the popular kid in the flat iron class. I'm not lucky enough to own one, so this is not a review of it's functions. My concern is the instructions that come with this iron:

Adjustable temperature: 240 oF~410oF (120oC - 200oC) for all hair types. For normal hair, temperature setting at 370-390oF is recommended; for bleached, fragile, damaged and fine hair, the lower setting is advised; for coarse, thick, ethnic and resistant hair in healthy condition, maximum heat on high setting is used to save time and effort.

Sedu gets most things right. Fine, damaged hair should use a lower setting and healthier hair can take more heat. It's the use of the word "ethnic" that may confuse some people. These instructions are not unique to Sedu. Most flat irons have a similar guide. I'm just picking on Sedu today.
We know that ethnic hair is not necessarily coarse hair. We also know that heat softens the keratin of hair. But there are some people who don't know. Some people may read these instructions thinking that heat setting should be dictated by ethnicity.

Even with very coarse hair, the highest heat setting can still damage or "train" hair. This is how straighter ends/ pieces can come about. The lowest possible setting, to get the desired results, should always be used.

Here are some tips for getting a sleek look without high direct heat:
-Your hair should be well-conditioned and detangled before you begin the straightening process.
-Blow dry or roller set first. I use the tension blow dry method on cold.
-Flat iron in smaller sections
-Pull the hair taut with your hand as you are straightening
-Do the final pass of the flat iron with a comb (comb chase method to ensure even distribution of heat)
-If you still don't have the desired straightness, try wrapping your hair with Saran wrap or a head tie and sitting under a dryer for 10-15 mins.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Product Review: Burt's Bees Hair Repair

Burt's Bees Hair Repair, Shea and Grapefruit Deep Conditioner.

This conditioner is about $8-$8.50 for 5oz.

Ingredients: water, cetrimonium bromide, cetearyl alcohol, sucrose laurate, glycerin, honey, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), glucose, betaine, citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, citrus tangerina (tangerine) peel oil, citrus aurantifolia (lime) oil, zingiber officinale (ginger) root extract, citrus reticulata (tangerine/petitgrain) leaf oil, acacia senegal gum, polysorbate 60, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase

-The consistency is somewhat creamy, almost like a balm. So someone with fine, thin hair  may not like it.
-This product left my hair feeling more lubricated than moisturized but, it didn't provide a lot of slip for me. 
-Overall, I'm not impressed with this product enough to purchase it again. It's a small amount of product for mediocre results. I got two uses out of it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Transitioning Style: Half Wig

Divide the hair in two sections. I did a 1:4 ratio.

Section the back portion to prepare for braids.

Leave the front portion out.

Tuck the single braids into themselves.

You can cornrow or flat twist the front portion.

Put a satin wig cap over the back.

Secure the half wig around the satin cap.

This is my protective style choice for now.
I learned how to flat twist from a youtube video. I'm not perfect. Flat twists grab all the hair on the edges without pulling them out (at least in my experience).
I wish I had a kinkier half wig but I live in the funny part of Metro Atlanta, so they are hard to come by. NY I miss you!
This wasn't the best pictorial, I know. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Getting it straight: Coarse vs. Fine

Tara asks, " Why does my friends type 4 hair get straighter and stay straighter than my type 3 hair if we use the same heat setting?"

Hey Tara,
The outcome of your results actually have more to do with your hair texture, rather than the type.
You may be surprised to learn that your hair is likely more coarse than your friends. That is, the measure of the circumference of your hair strand is larger than hers. Coarse hair is stronger and less susceptible to damage. It tends to resist processing and straightening.
Conversely, fine hair is very easy to process and is most susceptible to damage from chemical, heat and daily styling. Medium or normal hair doesn't carry any special tendencies (so lucky).
One person can have a mixture of textures on separate areas of their head. You can also find the various textures throughout all hair types. However, a large percentage of type 4's commonly fall into the fine-normal category. Of course, we all know of some exceptions.

Cheaper Alternative: Steam Treatments

I just finished watching a documentary on CNN called I.O.U.S.A. It was about America's financial crisis: how we got here, who got us here, & what steps the American people should take.
The documentary featured an SNL skit in which Steve Martin and Amy Poehler parody an American family struggling with debt. An "expert" gives them a book with a simple title. "Don't buy stuff you cannot afford". The book's straight forward message was something seemingly incomprehensible to Steve.
So here I am, thinking about the new flat iron, steamer and dryer that I want to buy. The guilt always sets in. Can I afford this? Do I need this? It's this hesitation that keeps me from spending beyond my means-lately. Sure it would be great to have these new things, but right now, for my particular situation, it's not smart.
The D.I.Y Steam treatment has been doing the job just fine. For the cheapest ultimate moisturizing experience:
-Apply your favorite oils or moisturizing DC or both to your hair (this is great for hot oil treatments)
-Take a hot steaming towel an wrap it around your head
-Place a shower cap over it.
-Repeat steps 2&3
-Sit under a heat source (heating cap is okay if you can fit)
-Remove after 15-30 mins

*Turbie towels can be found at Sally Beauty Supply.
*Steam treatments should not be overdone, this can lead to moisture overload.

Friday, January 9, 2009

When I see you again...

It's Friday and because I have a clear schedule, as usual, I decided to get an early start on my overnight pre-poo. My work bun can finally rest.
The pre-poo included my staples: Extra Virgin Coconut oil, Honey, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I added Organix TeaTree conditioner and Nexxus Humectress to the mix because... they were there.
I mixed the ingredients with a relaxer brush and then applied it to my hairline/edges first as the last pic is supposed to show.

A pre-poo can serve many different purposes but I am using it specifically to encourage reversion, counteract the harsh detergent in my shampoo and for added moisture.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Caffeine-Free Green Tea?

There are some unsubstantiated but still promising reports of Green Tea's ability to curb hair loss and even bring about hair growth.
Green Tea contains about a third the amount of caffeine of the average cup of coffee. Caffeine is said to hinder hair growth.
To avoid these headache- provoking, contradictory findings, I asked myself, "Why not go with decaff?"
Of course, it's never that simple. The USDA conducted studies which found that decaffeinated Green Tea contains less than one third of the catechins of the regular tea. Catechins are the main antioxidants and without them the health benefits of Green Tea become insignificant. You know I'm not drinking it for the taste!
-The best way to get the most out of Green Tea is to buy and brew the leaves. They can be brewed up to three times, it contains less caffeine and more Theanine, which decaffeinates the tea naturally.
-That's just not practical for most of us so, organic Green Tea bags it is!

R.I.P: HB Castor Oil Hair Treatment

Hollywood beauty Castor oil treatment lists some great ingredients and great promises for a 7.5 oz product that is under $3. Some of the ingredients listed on their site include: .
Holly wood beauty oil complex( Castor Oil, Mink Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Vitamin E, Jojoba oil, Paraffin Oil, Safflower and other.

I've had a tub of this product for a while (I can not think of anyone that I dislike enough to give it away to) so I know that "other" is Lanolin, Cocoa Butter, Propylparaben and fragrance.
So what's the big deal? A little propylparaben and fragrance never hurt anyone, right? My deal is this product claims to restore moisture to the scalp. This product looks like a grease, smells like a grease and acts like a grease. It sits on the scalp without penetrating (although I'm not sure I'd want it to) and thus leads to major build up. It may be effective at sealing in moisturized hair but I'm very skeptical of it's conditioning properties.

Before you go out and buy these tub-o-grease's, give some all natural oils a shot.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Recording your journey.

It is very beneficial to have your own chronological account of product, technique and style hits and misses. Keeping a record is helpful in determining whether you are making progress and where you have room for improvements.
Among starting pictures and length measurements, you should have detailed assessments of the following:
-How a product affected your hair
-Breakage and Shedding
-Noticeable differences in look and feel of hair

Also, initially you may not be able to gauge your hair's particular need. This comes with time and experience. This is where scheduling protein treatments or trims is very helpful.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Hydration System"

This is the rundown of a heat styling regimen that I got from a Lawrenceville stylist. She says it's key to preventing reversion.

-Clarifying, moisturizing & detangling poo.
-Moisturizing conditioner
-Steam for 15-30 minutes
-Leave in conditioner
-Blow dry
-Heat protectant
-Flat iron in small sections starting from the nape
-Heat protectant once more.

I have a few discrepancies with this regimen. Three different shampoos seem like a bit much and heat protectant again at the end?

Transitioning with heat!

10 months post relaxer...

-Sylver2's secret: Low-manipulation.

Now boarding from low manipulation station.

Spotting a Fake: Tip # 1

If you're on the hunt for a quality hair stylist, you should judge the book by it's cover.
If the person that could potentially be doing your hair has damaged, unhealthy hair, politely end your appointment inquiry, ask for a business card and toss it a couple blocks from the establishment. You should also take a hard look at her clientele . It's one thing to know someone who goes to that stylist and pays a decent price but it's another for that person to leave that chair with over-trimmed, over-processed or fried hair.
I say this from first-hand experiences. There was a special going on at one of the salons in my best friends neighborhood. Long story short, when I went back to my usual hair dresser, her exact words were, "Who did you go to? She messed you up bad. She messed you up real bad." She was referring to the uneven hair cut I received after specifically stating that I wanted a trim. I also sat in that salon for about 6 hours.
You live, you learn.

Vitamins and Minerals.

During my Junior High days and some of high school, I believed very strongly that if I consistently took my hair, nails and skin vitamins, I would awake one day with hair down to my elbows. Needless to say, things didn't quite work out as planned. It was just one of the many lessons I had to learn during my quest for my dream hair: Nothing can supplement knowledge of how to take care of your own hair.
This is not to say vitamins don't play a key role in the health of your hair. Quite the contrary. Your internal health definitely has bearing on your external beauty. So of course you need vitamins and minerals. Here's what you don't need: Unless you have a genuine deficiency, you don't need to self diagnose and self medicate.
If you have the luxury of having a daily balanced diet (because it's a luxury these days) filled with your daily recommended allowance of vitamins and nutrients, then you would be wasting your money on supplements. That's because in most cases, it's better to get your nutrients from food. The body will also excrete any excess nutrients that it doesn't need. So the idea that taking more, will give you excellerated results is false. If you're like me and you don't eat a balanced diet, then it's not a bad idea to take a multi-vitamin.
I've been taking a muti-vitamin for months now and I truly notice the difference in my roots, nails and skin. Recently, I added a fish oil capsule to the mix and my skin already feels softer.

-I would look for B vitamins, such as Biotin and Folic acid, Iron and vitamin A in a multi-vitamin.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Natural Hair Care Tips from Saleema C.

Saleema highlights some important natural hair care principles that I agree with
-The non-abuse of heat styling.
-Low manipulation.

Hair Typing.

Having a basic knowledge of your hair type is a tremendous help when searching for products, inspiration, tools and when trying out techniques. Having a general sense of your hair's tendencies, needs and what it will and will not do will save you a lot of time and money in your hair journey. Only in my dreams is a shake and go possible. has a great article on hair typing to get you started.

There's also a misconception that I've shared along with many other natural women. It's the belief that thick hair (densely packed) means coarse strands. That is usually not the case. In fact, African Americans tend to have fine, fragile strands. So in order for you to fully describe your hair texture and type I'll further provide you with a little vocabulary from

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Flat iron sale!

If you can afford to drop some cash on a new flat iron. Check out this site. Sale ends on the 19th of January, so you have time to think it over.

Everyone has one: My hair horror story.

It was the Sunday before school and I was desperately in need of a fresh press. The hairdresser I normally go to was on vacation and the only other one that I knew of was closed. I called my friend. Let's just call her Britni. She assured me that she had been doing her cousins hair for years and that she was very skilled with a hot comb. I was too desperate to hesitate. Right before she came over, I washed my hair with a harsh Selsum blue anti-dandruff shampoo and used NO CONDITIONER. I know. This was during my hair care ignorant days. My thick, coiley, densely packed, type 4a/4b hair didn't yet know what it was in store for.

Britni came with her shoe box of tools: two hot combs one with small teeth and one with large teeth. My nervousness began to set in when I saw no electric hot comb oven. I put on a brave front as she set the comb into the fire on my stove.

 I remember that day being particularly hot. We were sitting in my small kitchen and I was beginning to sweat. We turned on the sealing fan- it did nothing. She decided to open the freezer. She stuck her head in there every now and then for temporary relief.

By now my hair was tangled and dry. She began with one of the plastic combs with the small and even smaller teeth that we frequently see in 99 cents stores. She was raking my hair with a vengeance after every application of DAX grease. Then came the hot comb. It didn't glide through my hair like at the hair dresser's. Britni might as well have been clearing out my hair with an over heated hot comb. I sat there section after section knowing that my hair was being tortured and abused. I was silent, pretending to care about whatever boy had tried to talk to her before she came to my house. After what felt like hours, she was done. And so was my long healthy full hair.

I turned around to what was the biggest bush of hair to have ever comb out of my head. There were broken pieces all over the counter. I broke. "Britni!!!" She looked at me as if to say she didn't do it and started to blame me for allowing her to do my hair after it had been freshly washed. I went upstairs and cried in my room. She came up after me silent. With every nerve in my body telling me otherwise, I handed her $15. Then I went into my bathroom and put my hair into the thinnest ponytail I had ever made and I cried again.

I walked Britni to the nail salon and sat there pretending to care about whatever she was saying about yet another boy. When she was finished, I walked her halfway home and as we were preparing to part ways, I said, "Thanks for pulling out all my hair". Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. She turned back to me and used her hands to make a scissor motion while mouthing "snip, snip, snip".

That was Junior High School. I'm now in college and I havent seen or heard from Britni since. The next visit to my hair dresser brought on more tears after she exclaimed, "what happened??!!!" and began telling me about everything that wasn't like it was before.
There's a lesson to be learned here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

R.I.P: Nexxus Heat Protexx

I gave this product a third and fourth chance. Much like the state of most of my relationships, I convinced myself that it was me who needed to change. Maybe my hair wasnt soft enough. Maybe I shouldnt have used it with other products. Maybe I needed more or less.
This product left my hair hard and stiff. Period. I promise I didn't use a lot! I literally put a little product in my palms and rubbed it into a section of hair. The nozzle also squirts instead of sprays which is really irritating when you want to cover a large surface area. I won't bore you with the promises and ingredients. I just advise caution when purchasing Nexxus products. Some of them are not necessarily designed with you in mind.

My Heat Styling Regimen

This is an outline of my heat styling regimen after months of keeping my hair in its natural state:

Pre-poo: Oils/ Oils and honey/ Conditioner & oils.
Scalp prep: Spray Apple Cider Vinegar on scalp and let sit for 2 mins
Shampoo: Moisturizing/ Smoothing
Protein: Nexxus Emergencee- 10-15 mins
Steam: Heated damp towels w/ moisturizing conditioner-30-45 mins
Leave in: Protein leave in conditioner
Heat Protectant

The result of heat styling has a lot to do with preparation. Later on this blog, I'll detail why I think each step is important in my regimen.

Heat Styled Natural: Beyonce

A transition to natural.

Beyonce had long type 3 hair as a child. She relaxed her hair as an adolescent but her performance days as a youth began to take a tole on her tresses. Tina Knowles on Beyonce's transition:
It took Beyonce about two years to grow the relaxer out. She couldn't afford to cut her hair off and start from scratch, so we cut her hair a little above her shoulders and trimmed the ends as we went along. Wearing braids during the transition period really protected her hair onstage and saved her style from sweat disaster. When she had to wear it straight for an awards show or appearance, we pressed her hair and used a flat iron. Her hair is not as easy to manage as she thought it would be. Sometimes we curl her hair with a curling iron to give it a softer look. When she had the relaxer, coloring made her hair so fragile. Now, because her hair isn't double processed, she lightens the front without causing much damage
Beyonce's hair has probably gone through hell and back dealing with a performer who hasn't stopped to sit down in years. The end result is short, thin hair. As much as I love this hard working, ambitious heat styled natural in all her fabulousness, I can't help but use her as hardcore evidence that no amount of money, no miracle stylist, no celebrity Trichologist, no magic pill and no super grow product can supplement for healthy hair care pratices. Nothing can dramatically counteract the damage that lack of caring for your hair causes. Nothing.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Divide and Conquer.

At 10 o'clock at night on the Sunday before Monday morning work or school, you may be tempted to grab a large section of hair and pass the flat-iron through several times. Don't do it. The best results are achieved using smaller sections (approximately 2 inch sections).
Smaller sections ensure an even distribution of heat while avoiding passing over hair that has already been straightened.
Remember that the results you desire take time, patience and elbow grease so schedule your routine accordingly.