Archive | July 2016

My Hair Story

“You have such beautiful hair” they say.  But they have no idea what I went through.

Big Chop #1 2009
To give you a scope of things, I was a 14 year old in 9th grade during this time.  When I had a relaxer, my hair was still in pretty good shape.  It still grew “long” which meant down to my shoulders.  Then I had a thought – what if I became completely independent of a monthly service and did everything myself?  So that’s when I started transitioning to become natural.  After 9 months, the two textures became too much to deal with so I big chopped… as a 14 year old.  Everyone gave me stares and talked behind my back.  I even had black women that disapproved and mumbled things:  “So are you going to get a relaxer again?” “This is just temporary, right?” “You gonna do this forever?”

Shaving Sides 2011-2013
After about two years in the natural world, my hair became a little too big for me to handle.  At the time, the only natural hair guru I would watch on Youtube was Chime Edwards (and still do).  She shaved the side of her hair and I loved it!  So I shaved mine.  I cut my bangs shorter and pretty much had  a mullet.  The only issue was growing it out again.  I forgot that it takes a WHILE for natural hair to start hanging so my hair grew in very awkwardly.  I had to twist down my bangs and sides so they wouldn’t look so awkward.

 

“You’re the girl with the hair!” 2013-2014
I started my Freshman  year of college in 2013.  My hair had some pretty good length to it and people started to identify me by my hair.  I basically made my footprint on campus because of my hair.  I liked that it drew attention but at the same time, it became the only thing people knew about me.

 

Texturizer 2014
Why did I get one?  Because I watched Youtube too much and saw this girl who had “good” results with the texturizer.  I put “good” in quotes because texturizers loosen curl… therefore I was saying to myself that only loose curls are good.  WRONG.  I have only gotten one texturizer and I loved the results at first… but then I realized my hair had changed for the worse.  It became dry, I had a lot of straight pieces, and worst of all, I was not natural anymore (duh).  I felt like for some reason I betrayed myself.  My hair looked like trash.  I knew people noticed.  I thought about keeping up with the texturizers but then I didn’t want to be tied again to a monthly process.

Big Chop #2 2014
So to get rid of all of my texturizer, I had to cut my hair again.  Walking on campus my Sophomore year was weird for me.  I felt ignored.  I felt the questionable stares again.  However, Sophomore year made me learn the most about myself.  It also taught me the value of the hair I had.  I started to cherish every inch of hair that grew in and enjoyed having conversations with people that wasn’t hair-related.  It was fun to buy new products and truly nourish my hair.

Today 2016
I am now two years natural and enjoying every bit of my journey.  My hair is healthier than ever and I am actually happy that I have experimented in the past.  I am no longer curious about anything else except for long, healthy hair.   I am planning to grow my hair indefinitely without heat or chemicals.  People are now seeing the results of trial and error.  People are now seeing what healthy hair actually looks like.

Transitioning Again 2016-?
Throughout most of my process in the course of seven years, I had dye in my hair.  When I big chopped the first time, my hair was already dyed brown.  I then tried to grow the brown out but later winded up dying the back of my hair pink.  When I big chopped again, I went for a reddish/brown.  Till this day, I am still trying to transition and trim out that dye.  My ends that still has the dye is very damaged and dry from that process.  Bleaching and dying my hair has been the worst hair decisions I have made.  So in reality, I am actually currently transitioning a third time.  I was on a schedule to trim my hair every 4 months but now because majority of the color is gone, I am now doing a trim every 6 months.  My hair could actually be much longer today had I not dyed it.

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3 Hair Items I Can’t Live Without

You know those wonderful discoveries that changes your entire hair routine?  Here’s some of mine:

Evolve Go Satin Pillowcase, Fuchsia

  1. SATIN PILLOW CASE:  Thanks to this bad boy, I never have to worry about squishing my hair into a bonnet.  Trust me, I sleep crazy and my hair is still great the next day.  Sometimes my hair may get squished on one side but it’s nothing compared to twisting my hair every night or waking up to your bonnet being off your head.  Satin pillow cases are also easy to fold and bring along with you when you are travelling.  Even for comfort, they feel much better than sleeping on a cotton pillow case.
  2. JUMBO SHOWER CAP:  I have gotten an adjustable, jumbo shower cap from Sally’s Beauty Supply.  I usually wear wash and gos so I needed something that can help preserve my hair while I shower.  There is so much room in the jumbo cap it’s ridiculous.  No more finding plastic Walmart bags or struggling with multiple small shower caps.
  3. SATIN RIBBON:  People always ask how I get my hair into a puff  – this is the answer.  I purchased a roll of satin ribbon from the dollar store.  What I do is I cut enough of it to be able to tie my hair into a puff.  Because it’s satin, it’s less damaging to my hair and I don’t have to worry about breakage.  It’s also not elastic so I can make it as tight as I want to without worrying about it stretching out.   Even my nape area is still long and I believe it’s because of the satin ribbon.

The number one thing I would recommend out of all of these is the satin pillow case.  Absolutely a game changer for my wash and gos.

Make the L.O.C Method Work For You!

The L.O.C method stands for Leave in, Oil, and Cream in this order.  What they don’t tell you about this method is that the most important ingredient is water.  Please do not try this method or any variations on dry hair.  You should do this on wet hair.

What do they each do? 
Leave-in Conditioner: Helps moisturize and makes it easier to detangle.
Oil: Seals in the water to prevent dryness in the long run.
Cream/Gel:  Helps define your texture.  Also good for frizz control.  If you are looking to style your hair, I would also suggest using a cream or gel.

Ask yourself – what are you looking for?
Big Hair
If you want big hair, I would suggest just sticking to a leave in conditioner.  I would skip the O(il) and C(ream) steps all together.

Tamed Hair
Throw in the oil if you want your hair tamed.  This will create a mixture of big and defined.

Defined Hair
Follow the steps all the way through starting with the leave in and working your way to the cream or gel.

What products should you use?
Unfortunately, I cannot provide you a list of specific products that will work for you.  This is where the trial and error process occurs.  The only advice I could give is to look at the thickness of your hair, not the texture (density versus pattern).  If your hair is thicker, I would suggest using heavier creams.  If your hair is thinner, I would suggest lightweight products.

I have been using the L.O.C method for years now and have seen nothing but positive results.  My hair has grown thick and shiny from using this method.  It also helps me narrow down what I buy and use. One thing I would suggest is to change your products one at a time.  Do not buy a new oil, leave in, and cream and then try them all at once.  You want to be able to identify what works and what doesn’t work for your hair.

Never Again

This is a list of hair-related things I have tried and stopped using.

Mousse
The mousse I tried was TRESemme’s Flawless Curls Mousse and it did nothing but dry my hair out.  I tried it because I wanted something with good hold while I was on a trip to Minnesota.  My hair did hold but when I washed it out, my hair felt stripped!  I was actually scared the mousse did something permanent to my hair (it didn’t).

The Cantu Brand
There is really nothing wrong with Cantu except that it is white-owned.  Why should I give my money to them when there’s other black-owned brands like Shea Moisture or Miss Jessie’s?  The reason why I am picky about them is because the line is tailored specifically to natural hair and not just “curls” or “waves”.  I feel as though they are just joining the bandwagon to make money off of us.

Flat Iron
There’s no point.  The heat-damage risk is high.  You don’t want to put the temperature too high to damage your hair but put it too low and your hair will frizz back up in 5 minutes.  I actually do not even own a flat iron.

Texturizers
My hair was easier to manage for a while and then all hell broke loose.  My hair was thirsty and my curls were so uneven.  The way hair reacts to texturizers is unpredictable.  If it uniformly loosened my curls, I wouldn’t have much of an issue with it.  However, the burden that I have officially left the “natural world” was heavy and I felt as though I betrayed myself as a black woman.  Side Note: Even if they did make a texturizer that uniformly loosened curls – I wouldn’t use it.  I would never use another chemical on my hair.

Hair Dye/Bleach
I am a very low-maintenance person.  Root touch-ups and extra deep conditioning was not a top priority on my “to do” list.  Also, the bleach damaged my hair a lot.  It made it dry and frizzy.  The damage was much more noticeable when I started to let my hair grow out.  The difference in health between my non-bleach and bleach hair was insane.

Shaved Sides
Yes, I used to shave the sides of my head back in the hipster years of 2011-2013.  Shaving my hair gave my hair less volume and it also limited my hairstyles.  Back to the low-maintenance thing, it became tiring when I had to reshave my hair every 3 weeks or so.

Protective Styling
I know right?!  Protective styling?!  Well for me it takes way too much time and money.  I am not going to sit down for 3 hours and put twists in my hair or pay someone to do it for me.  I also like having my hair out too much for me to put it away.  I feel like my hair is healthy enough to where it doesn’t need to be kept away (I may regret this later).

Hair Salons
Nah fam.  Just nah.  Too many horror stories.  Too much money.

No Poo Shampoo
This is specifically speaking about the DevaCurl line.  It was such an odd experience trying to “cleanse” my hair with no suds or bubbles.  It felt like I needed to use so much of the product that was already expensive.  My hair felt clean but at the same time it didn’t.

“My natural hair isn’t curling up!”

Yes – I am talking about frizzy, limp, undefined curls.  Every natural’s worst nightmare.  First, let me knock out the two bad habits that may be the reason for the lack of definition.

  1. Heat – When women go natural, they think their hair is stronger than ever and nothing can stop it.  WRONG!  Heat is a natural hair girl’s worst enemy.  It’s so notorious for damage that Youtubers make “Watch My Hair Revert” videos to show users that their hair either did or did not get heat damage while going from straight to curly.  Heat damage is caused in many different ways from blow-drying to just being out in the sun.  Heat damage is irreversible.  There is no special conditioner that will make your curls revert.  Heat-damaged curls hang limper and straighter which can be an eye-sore in a head full of curly hair.  The only way to get rid of it – cut the damaged part out.
  2. Bleach – Whenever you dye your hair a lighter color, you are using bleach.  Even if it’s an at-home box dye, there’s bleach in the product.  Bleach will make your hair dryer as it strips the outer layers of the hair – essentially leaving less pockets that moisture can sink into.  Bleach is permanent and cannot be fixed.  If you put black hair dye over bleached hair, eventually the black will fade and the brown/blonde color will show through.  The only way to get rid of it – cut the bleached part out.

Now that we have that out the way, let’s assume you have NO heat damage and your hair is not dyed to a lighter color.  You essentially have virgin, natural hair.  What else can you do?

  • Water – water is the best moisturizer for your hair.  If your hair feels dry, do not use “moisturizers” or oils.  Use water first THEN put those products in to seal in the water.
  • Gel/Thick Creams – If you want your hair defined, then you’ll need something with good hold.  If you use light-weight products then your hair will dry frizzier and bigger (which may not be a bad thing to some).  Find out what gels and creams work best for your hair type.
  • Deep Condition – Curls do not come out if they are not moisturized.  Deep conditioners soften curls and holds water in for longer as it leaves an oily coating on the hair.
  • Work with smaller sections – depending on the length and thickness of your hair, it may not good to work with all of your hair at once.  Part your hair in at least 4 sections and work with those sections individually.  Apply water through a spray bottle and while your hair is wet, apply the gels or creams of your choice.
  • Detangle, detangle, detangle – I can’t stress this enough!  Use a brush or wide tooth comb and really take time to get out all of the knots.  There’s no point in trying to define something that is tangled.  Make sure to detangle from the tip first then work your way up.
  • Trim – If you see some potential in your hair but it gets fuzzy towards the ends, it may be time for a trim.  Trim at least twice a year and only less than a half inch at a time.  Eliminating split-ends can make your hair look healthier.
  • Wash your hair – Eventually with all the product build up, your hair will actually get weighed down which can affect your curl pattern.  Lift the grease and dirt away with a clarifying shampoo, deep condition, and start over.

NEWS FLASH: YOU MAY NOT HAVE CURLY HAIR

If you have been chasing curly hair ever since you have been natural with no results, your hair may not be curly.  Not everyone’s hair has a curl.  Some may be on the wavy side while others may have a zig-zag pattern.  Some may have all of the above!  Embrace what you have.  However, it is possible to define whatever you have still following the tips above.  Curls are not natural for everyone.  “Natural hair” does not mean “curly hair”.