Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Don't Understand...Please Clarify

Are you not understanding why your hair is not responding to certain products that normally work well for you? Maybe your hair does not look or feel the way you are used to. It may be time to clarify. Clarifying your hair should be done on a regular basis to prevent and/or eliminate product build up on your hair. Some styling products can be quite stubborn and won't wash out with regular shampoo. They will really cling to the hair shaft especially depending on how much product you use on a regular basis, how heavy the product is, and what ingredients it contains. 

Also, you may need to clarify if you have gone swimming or if your home has hard water. Chlorine that is normally found in pools is bad for your hair because it damages the cuticle layer of the hair strands. Damage to the cuticle causes the hair to look dull and also causes the hair to become dry. Since the cuticle of the hair protects the inner cortex, if the cuticle is damaged it is likely that the cortex will become damaged as well leading to split ends. Hard water is also damaging due to the minerals in the water making it "hard." It can cause your hair to be crunchy, dull and brittle. Clarifying your hair can combat issues from both swimming and hard water.

I personally clarify once a month but you may need to do so more or less depending on your personal hair needs. Although a clarifying shampoo is the most popular way to get the job done, you can also clarify with products like vinegar or baking soda. 1/2 cup of vinegar mixed with 1 quart of water poured over your head after you shampoo and before you condition with clarify your hair. Be sure to rinse out the vinegar mix before conditioning. Also, you can use one or two tablespoons of baking soda mixed with the normal amount of shampoo you use, lather, massage in, leave on hair for 3-5 minutes, then rinse. Follow-up with a good conditioner because baking soda can leave your hair feeling dry.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hair Nightmare

So guess who has a patch of hair missing from her head? Yes, yours  I was able to find a picture of the razor that did the damage.

To make a long story short, someone was holding this razor (shown on the left), I bent down abruptly to pick up something off the floor as they were coming toward me with the razor. I did not realize that the razor was close enough to catch the front of my head, or they possibly moved their position as I was bending down (not sure because it happened so fast). All I heard was the noise a razor makes when it comes into contact with hair. I saw a good amount of strands clumped together fall before my face. I did not want to freak out. I reached up and felt the top of my head where I felt the razor make contact and more strands started to come out.   At that point I decided to go into the bathroom and look into the mirror. I was relieved that it was only a small section of hair where my bangs are that was missing. It could've been worse.   

So I will be camouflaging this little patch of baldness until it grows back as well as staying away from oncoming razors, haha.


Rosemary Oil to the Rescue

I feel like, at least for now, my shedding is under control. (Sigh of relief, lol.) So this is what I did.

It was wash day so I decided to due a protein treatment but a little differently than I normally do. I used ApHogee 2 min reconstructor on dry hair. This is my favorite protein product. I absolutely love the results it gives my hair. I slathered it on then I put a plastic cap over my hair. I used my heating cap for 10 mins to allow the treatment to really penetrate my strands. I know it's a "two minute" treatment but I have left this stuff on my hair for longer periods of time many occassions and have never experienced a negative reaction, although I do not recommend anyone else doing this unless they are very familiar with how their hair reacts to protein.

After I rinsed out the ApHogee, I co-washed with Suave Humectant Conditioner. Then I mixed the same conditioner with a small bit of coconut oil and applied it to my hair. I covered it with a plastic cap and used the heating cap for 30 mins to balance the protein previously used with moisture.  I rinsed it out with the coldest water I could get from the faucet. My hair felt amazing and so incredibly soft and strong. I gently squeezed out as much water as possible then sprayed my hair with the ApHogee Keratin and Green Tea Reconstructor. I used Giovanni Weightless Leave-In and let my hair air dry. I never seal with an oil before my hair is dry because once it is completely dry, I always remoisturize then seal. Once my hair was dry I used shea butter and sealed with Hot Six Oil.

Now the next step is what I believe has actually gotten my shedding under control. I went from shedding a handful of hair morning and night to now only shedding my normal 5-10 strands. I mixed coconut oil with rosemary oil. I used about 4 drops of rosemary oil in about 2 TSP of coconut oil. I dipped my fingers into  the mixture and massaged my scalp for about 20 mins. Every day since wash day I have massaged my scalp with coconut & rosemary oil. I had already decided to do scalp massages three times a week, but to combat this shedding I will be doing it daily with rosemary oil.

Rosemary oil is known to combat hair fall. (Two other things that combat shedding are garlic and black tea rinses, I willl touch on those at another time.) I think the rosemary oil is working in my case. We shall see...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Postpartum Hair Loss

Okay...the shedding continues! I am starting to get nervous now because I don't want to be bald, I don't want to have to cut my hair due to thinning, I don't want to struggle with styling trying to camoflauge the lack of thickness.  I took some pictures. This first picture is what I am used to as far as shedding when I comb my hair. I normally lose this much twice a day, in the morning and evening when combing or styling. Keep in mind this is what is normal for me, it may not be normal for someone else.

Okay this second picture is what I have been losing whenever I finger comb or gently comb out my hair. This is an actual pic of all the hair that came out of my head this evening, not to mention what I may have lost this morning while styling.  See the difference?

I'm scared y'all, lol. I'll do an update later about this topic. Hopefully at that time, this horrible shedding will have slowed down.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Revisiting Childhood Series - Pressing Comb


Ahhh...remember the good old days when you could smell hair burning in the kitchen from someone getting their hair fried and layed to the side with a good old fashioned pressing comb. You know the kind that you put on the stove and once it got hot, it was ready to run through your strands to straighten out curls and kinks. Use a little hair grease and you are sure to have shiny straight locks once it's all done.  You might even have a crispy ear, or forehead burn to go with your nice hairdo if that pressing comb managed to get a hold of more than just your Yes it's funny now, but it can be torture for a little girl whose only other option beside wearing their hair in all its natural glory, or getting a relaxer, was the smoking hot pressing comb, or hot comb as some people call it.  Okay, that was just my overdramatized description. In reality, pressing combs are not that bad if used properly.

I commend my stepmother because at one point she had three girls' hair to keep neat and presentable.  That meant washing, conditioning, blow drying, pressing and styling three heads of hair which normally took majority of a Saturday to complete. The worse part though is that it was only going to last until the next wash day then the process must be repeated again. To her credit, we always looked nice when we left the house.

Although this is a post in my Revisiting Childhood Series, many adults still use a pressing comb either regularly or occassionally to straighten their natural hair. One thing that is different between now and back in the 80's when I was getting my hair pressed is probably the use of heat protectants. More people are knowledgeable about heat damage and the use of heat protectants now thanks to wealth of information that is shared on the internet about properly caring for your hair.

Using a hot comb is a way to straighten the hair that will not cause permanent results like chemicals because it does not break down the chemical bonds of the hair. However, the use of heat frequently and/or at high temperatures can cause the hair to become "heat trained" and the hair's curl pattern will be looser than it is naturally. There may be some that disagree with this statement (I have read one blogger's post in particular where she stated using a hot comb with not change your curl pattern). Just to be clear, a hot comb will not change the chemical bonds that made up your hair's texture or curl pattern, but continuous use of heat can change the "appearance" of your curl pattern which I believe is due to heat damage. Can heat damage be avoided? Absolutely, through the use of moderate heat temperatures, heat protectants, and infrequent use of heat.

An alternative styling tool to the pressing comb that produces the same, if not better results is the flat iron. This particular tool gets use from both natural and relaxed ladies. I have never used it on my hair when I was natural but I do occassionally use it on my daughter's hair when I want to stretch out her hair to give her styles more length and less texture compared to if it were just washed and air dried.

My verdict for the pressing comb is a big A-OKAY. It is perfectly fine to use in my book but only if it is used the right way. The comb should not be smoking, your hair should not be smoking/burning, and a heat protectant is a must. Also, if it's used regularly, be prepared for possible curl patterns changes. Many women will agree that they have experienced this.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Revisiting Childhood Series - Hair Grease


I couldn't wait to start this series. The first topic of my Revisiting Childhood Series is HAIR GREASE! You probably could’ve guessed that this would be the first topic. I don’t know one single African American or black girl who did not use hair grease as a child. (There are probably some but I don’t know any, lol.) Grease was a staple in maintaining curly kinky afro-textured hair.  You would grease your scalp, grease the length of your hair, use grease with a pressing comb to ensure you got straight shiny hair. I even remember using grease if I was out of lotion or if I needed lip balm….crazy I know, but grease had multiple uses back in the day. Grease, unfortunately, is not something I will use now on my hair or my daughter’s hair.

The Good
You are probably thinking just like I was, if hair grease is so bad, then why when I was a child I used it and had long healthy hair? Grease or any petroleum based product will provide lubrication to the hair shaft which is much needed in afro-textured hair in order to make it manageable and pliable for styling, thus minimizing breakage. This coupled with the protective and low-manipulation styles most of us wore as children, such as braids or twists, will result in hair that retains length and eventually grows to longer lengths.  Also, because petroleum contains water repelling carbons it is a great sealant for the hair shaft, locking in moisture by acting as a impenetrable barrier through which the moisture cannot escape (see the bad where I also talk about how moisture cannot enter as well).
The Bad
The truth is, grease is horrible for your hair and scalp. Even though many of you may already know that now, let me explain. Normally in hair grease, the number one ingredient is petroleum. The petroleum in the grease acts a barrier that does not let your scalp breath. It can clog your hair follicles. Clogged hair follicles may produce hair, but it will not give you optimal hair growth and healthiness. In fact, clogged pores can lead to dandruff and sluggish hair growth. It’s funny that it is believed that using grease is a remedy for dry, flaky scalp but actually that will exacerbate the problem because grease is not moisture, and a dry scalp needs moisture. Grease actually blocks moisture from getting to your scalp as well as the rest of your hair shaft. Once the grease is coating your hair shaft, it will be difficult for moisture in enter your strands. Your hair will be shiny, but do not mistake shiny hair for moisturized hair. Afro-textured hair needs regular moisturizing, if not daily, to be healthy. Using too much grease can create a layer of petroleum on the hair shaft that water based moisturizers cannot get through to moisturize the hair.

Another thing your must take into consideration when using hair grease regularly is that regular shampoo may not be sufficient to cleanse your hair. Because of its consistency, a clarifying shampoo should be used to ensure all of the product is properly removed from your hair.

The Verdict
If you have found a way to incorporate grease into your hair routine that has yielded successful results, by all means continue to use what works best for you. I am a firm believer that what works for one person may not work for another. I wanted this post to be informative touching on both the good and bad as it pertains to hair grease. My personal verdict is not to use it because there are other products that will do what grease does and better, without any negative side effects. For example, coconut oil would be a good substitute.

Coconut oil can:
  • Provide lubrication to the hair shaft making it manageable for styling.
  • Combat flaky dry scalp without clogging follicles or retarding hair growth.
  • Seal in moisture while still allowing moisture to be able to enter the hair.
Additional benefits of coconut oil not found in hair grease:
  • Coconut oil has the ability to penetrate the hair shaft thus providing deep conditioning.
  • Coconut oil reduces protein loss in the hair, which in turn minimizes breakage of the strands.

Revisiting Childhood Series - Coming Soon!

I thought it would be fun to do a hair series called Revisiting Childhood where I talk about a few of the products or hair practices most of us are familiar with from when we were a child. Some things are good, and others, well….let’s just say what was mama thinking, lol.  So look out for the posts that should be coming soon!!

Postpartum Hair Loss

Okay, I think I spoke too soon when I said I have not been experiencing any postpartum shedding. My baby is 10 weeks old and I have now noticed, within the past 3 days or so, that my hair is shedding more than normal. I am not stressed at all; in fact, I have been feeling in great spirits. So I am not going to blame the shedding on stress. I do believe it’s postpartum shedding. I cringe every time I run my fingers or a comb through my hair because I know that there will be quite a few strands to come out with every stroke! I don’t like shedding at all, but I really don’t like excessive shedding because I feel as if all the care, maintenance and hard work that I have put into my hair will go in vain if I am shedding tons of my strands.

So if you are not familiar with postpartum shedding, let me explain what it is briefly. During pregnancy, the growing phase of each of your strands of hair is prolonged due to the increased levels of estrogen in your body. Because of this, fewer hairs will shed and many women notice an increased thickness of their hair during pregnancy. After you give birth, your estrogen levels fall back to a more normal range, and a lot of your hair follicles enter a resting stage which eventually leads to those hair strands falling out, or shedding.

My hair is medium thickness. My strands are normal as far as size; they are not coarse or fine, just normal. But the overall amount of strands on my head isn’t very much, meaning my hair is not dense. Because of this, my hair can easily look thin if I have too much oil in it, or if I shed too much, and I am fearful that I am heading toward thin hair if this postpartum shedding continues. If I cannot reduce the amount of shedding, and if my hair starts becoming thin, next relaxer I will go ahead and cut it. Yes, the C word, CUT. LOL. I wanted to wait until I reached BSL to cut my hair but I will not hang on to long straggly ends. 

So, my plan is not to really do anything differently, but just to make sure I am consistent with what I am currently doing including regular scalp massages with oils, taking my prenatal vitamins, drinking lots of water, and getting as much rest as possible. I may look into garlic and garlic products to reduce shedding if it becomes out of control but for right now, I really don’t want to go that route. We’ll see what happens…

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Scalp Massages with Oil

I've read that scalp massages are a wonderful way to increase the speed of hair growth. This is because scalp massages promote blood flow and circulation to your scalp, thus feeding your follicles vitamins and minerals needed to promote healthy hair growth. In addition, scalp massages help you to relax and to relieve stress. I've done scalp massage in the past but have never really done them regularly enough to see how much of a difference it will make in my own hair growth. For this relaxer stretch I will do scalp massages at least 3 times a week and see if it makes a difference in my hair growth.

You can do scalp massages with or without oil. I am going to be using oil because of the added benefits oils have on your scalp. I will be using a carrier oil and an essential oil. A carrier oil is the oil that you use to dilute the essential oil because normally essential oils are too strong to be used alone. Good carrier oils for scalps massages are jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil and castor oil. Some good essential oils to use are rosemary oil, peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus oil.  I only named a few carrier oils and essential oils but there are others out there that I am sure will work great, you just have to research what's available and choose what will work best for you.

I decided what would work best for me is coconut oil and either rosemary oil or peppermint oil. I will alternate between the two essential oils using coconut oil as my carrier oil. Coconut oil is good because it helps to strengthen hair strands which reduces breakage and it also reduces shedding. I chose rosemary because it is known for its ability to inhibit the natural shedding process, stimulate hair growth and strengthen hair roots and follicles. The cooling sensation of peppermint oil stimulates the hair follicle which promotes hair growth. Peppermint oil is also know to add shine and gloss to hair because of it conditioning properties.  It was important for me to choose oils that reduce shedding because I just had a baby two months ago and soon I will be reaching the stage where some ladies experience postpartum shedding. I have not noticed any so far, but if I can prevent it, I will definitely try.

I will do an update next relaxer on how my scalp massages are going. I may limit my use of castor oil on my scalp to only wash days to prevent having extra oily hair due to the scalp massages I will be doing with oil. Stay tuned :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Whose Genes are you Wearing?

Genetics play a huge role in what type of hair you will have. You have control over the health of your hair but your natural texture, color, growth rate and growth cycle are all determined by genetics. So although everyone's hair grows, only certain people will be able to grow extremely long hair due to genetics.

Everyone's hair goes through three phases: anagen, catagen and telogen. Simply put, the hair grows during the anagen phase, the hair stops growing during the categen phase, and during the telogen phase the hair may shed or be pushed out by new hair coming through at the start of the anagen phase again. The duration of the anagen phase will determine ultimately how long your hair can grow, also coupled with the rate in which your hair grows each month (i.e. 1/2 inch per month, 3/4 inch per month, etc).

So if you take two people whose hair grows at the same rate each month, but one has as anagen phase of 4 years, and the other has an anagen phase of 6 years, the one with the longer anagen phase will have the ability to grow their hair longer than the one with the shorter anagen phase. Someone who has an anagen phase that is longer than average can possbily grow their hair to the floor. Also, people who have their hair locked can grow their hair to extremely long lengths because when a strand is shed, it remains part of the loc. (Love Damian Marley's music BTW.)

This post is basically to say the ultimate length of your individual strands will be determined by genetics. No product or hair routine will get your hair to grow to lengths that it is not gentically programmed to be. I do believe that there are things that you can do (like scalp massages) that can get your hair to grow faster, but ultimately at then end of your anagen phase, that strand will be shed. So whose genes are you wearing on your head, lol.

Relaxer Day

I relaxed today and here are the results of my corrective relaxer attempt. Before on the left, after on the right, both on wet hair.

As you can see I was successful in correcting the section of my hair that was texlaxed. For picture purposes I only pulled out a small section of hair, but actually, the whole top left quadrant of my hair was suffering from two textures. When I say left quadrant, just imagine dividing your head into four sections, like most people do when relaxing their hair. My whole upper left section or quadrant had two textures, but now I was able to fix it and I am extremely happy about that.

I took a picture of my hair with my length check T-Shirt.

As you can see, I am slightly above line 7. It will be really cool to see where I am next relaxer, which is the whole reason why I bought this shirt. For those of you who gage length better by using the body, I am full arm pit length. Line 9 would put me approximately BSL, and the last line, line 13 is my ultimate goal. I won't grow my hair past that length.

As you probably can also see, my ends are quite uneven. Although they are uneven, the aren't necessarily unhealthy. Please see the pic below...

I won't do a blunt cut until I am full bra strap length. Most of the time I don't wear my hair straight; I will wear styles where you can't really notice the different lengths so cutting my ends are not my priority right now. I guess that's about all for this relaxer.  I used the same relaxer I always do, the SoftSheen Carson Optimum Care relaxer. The pic below was blow-dried hair, and my bangs were slightly bumped under with a flat iron.  Talk to you again soon, thanks for stopping by :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Relaxer Day Approaching

So I got my length check shirt in the mail today. Yay! Pic below. I wish the numbers and lines were black though, just so they could be seen a little better.

So I think I am going to relax this weekend. Like I said in my post titled Corrective Relaxer, this relaxer I am going to try to even out the texture of one section of my hair. As you can see below my hair is straight, then goes curly due to underprocessing, then goes straight again on the ends.  This pic is of wet hair and the red arrow points to the hair I need to correct. The green hair points to the texture I want to acheive evenly from root to ends. Wish me luck! I should go to a professional, but I am a do it yourself type of girl, lol.