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Monday, April 16, 2012

The flat Iron is calling my name!

January 10, 2010

(Note this is a draft from last year. Things have changed for me but I feel the information is still valuable, so I am posting it anyway :)

Hello, Hello, Hello!

I don't know about anyone else, but I love my hair to be bone straight! I can usually only achieve that very straight look I am going for within the first few weeks of a fresh relaxer AND a flat iron. After that inital glow of the fresh relaxer I have flat ironed my hair to keep it as straight as possible and probably the whole reason I started my Hair Care journey is because I was looking on YouTube to find tips on how to do a better job.

I ran across Ateeya and her change Smuve Complexions and I was hooked..

Everyone talks about the things to stay away from...Heat...chemicals...sulfates...alcohols. The things you should do are like stretch between relaxers...low manipulation...protective styles...moisturize and seal...low to no heat!

Low to no heat?! Give up my flat iron? No, say it isn't so...there must be, there just has to be another way. So I tried only flat ironing my hair once a week. If you read previous post my hair nightmare are my ends. They look terrible. I do not like them at all. The only thing that I feel makes them look half decent is to flat iron them into submission.

That should have been the key. What is heat damage exactly? Heat applied to the hair breaks or reshapes the bond in the inner core of the hair shaft and relaxes the curl. The problem that occurs is that when to much heat is applied the protective cuticle of your hair is damaged. The resulting roughness of the hair shaft makes you apply more heat to achieve the same look! You have now become a heat addict.

You are at even more risk of heat damage if your hair has been chemically treated. This is because you basically already dinged your cuticle and the heat if to much just breaks it all to bits.

However, like most things in my opinion there is a place for everything.

It has been about 4 weeks since I last flat iron my hair. Yay me! I decided about 4 or 5 months ago that I would for the most part abstain from direct heat. I sit under the hood dryer for deep conditioning and such.

Do not however think that this is a departure from my love of my flat iron. I do think that some heat is not bad. Moderate use of heat in the right temperature zone for my hair type could be safely or at least the damaged could be mitagated if I had healthy hair. See the key is healthy hair. Hair is a tough bugger and it can stand a ding or too and keep on trucking. I figured that if I can forgo the flat iron until my hair is much healthier that I can add heat to my hair without destroying all the work I put into it. Hence get nice strong hair and use heat moderately and I think I will come out with healthy hair that I am happy with.

I like straight hair though and over the last few weeks I have wanted to flat iron my hair just because I am sick of this semi curly mess I deal with everyday. I airdry. So I went back to YouTube last night and saw someone talking about heat treating your hair. She used a 400 degree flat iron on her new growth in varying intervals. Once a week, twice a month watever she thought was best. Now she made a strong argument about why that worked for her. I personally think that it probably worked for her because she was natural. I think if she had a relaxer, the state of her hair would have been way different.

Anyway, I had almost rationalized myself back to the flat iron despite my convictions to abstain as much as possible until my hair was ready, I did say you become a heat addict didn't I? I talked to my Husband who didn't help at all, and I decided to sleep on it and do some more research.

To much heat is bad. That's what I found out. It doesn't matter what you use, which styling tool or your technique. To much heat is bad. The kicker is, how much is to much?

(Update: I lasted about a full 10 week stretch with no heat. What did I notice? Not much. I still had split ends and on top of that I hadn't been able to wear my hair down at all because of it. I don't do curly hair very well. I did the braid out thing and can't stand them. I think it's beautiful and I am sure I would like it, if my hair was much longer. At it's current length it makes me feel bald :( Anyway, I now flat iron my hair once a week and feel that it smooths the cuticles which keeps it from snagging on stuff)

What's up with Glycerin?

April 16, 2012

Hello, hello, hello!

So I hear so many people talk about Glycerin, but what is it? What does it do? How does it help? Let's try to answer some of those questions.

What is Glycerin?
Glycerin is also known as Glycerol and is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid. It is used in hair care products by providing lubrication and as a humectant. (A humectant is a a chemical that helps products retain moisture) Glycerin can absorb moisture from the air and has antiseptic qualities

What does Glycerin do?
Glycerin absorbs water from the surround environment. The environment is usually the air but can be your hair and skin if the air is particularly dry.

How does it help?
It will help maintain your hair and scalps moisture levels by drawing moisture into the hair and will help to prevent the frizz of dry hair.

How to utilize it in your routine?
Pour a few drops in your products to up the moisturizing benefits of the product. I add it to my shampoo, which I have noticed affects the shampoo's ability to lather, and different leave in conditioners.

Hair trail and error
I will be attempting this recipe this week as a moisturizer
1.  Purified water about 2 cups (Why purified? Because regular tap water has chemical particles that bind to the hair and weighs it down)
2. 5 squeezes of glycerin
3. 3 drops of Peppermint oil
(Will update with specific configuration)

Seal with Grape seed oil.

It's been quite a while....

April 16, 2012

Hello, hello, hello!

It has indeed been quite a while since my last post and I sorry for the long departure. Why was I gone so long? It wasn't anything too impressive, actually it was quite unimpressive. I felt and still feel as if my journey has hit a wall. I feel as if I am not making any progress. I still visit other's blogs and YouTube channels and I see how long and beautiful other ladies hair seems to be growing and I feel that I have just stalled. Frustration and self pity is the name of the song I have been singing all last year.

I started my journey over three years ago in preparation for my wedding. I wanted longer hair and set up to learn about my hair and accomplish my goals. This July I will have been married for two years. A few weeks ago I was looking at some pictures from before the wedding and my hair was longer than then it is now. How in the heck did I manage that?! I have been trimming religiously. Is it healthier? I guess it is, I feel like I am conquering some problems but still battling others. Problems: breakage! Conquered: Dryness

I still have breakage. I can not seem to stop the breakage! It's actually driving me quite batty! My hair doesn't feel as dry as it used to but it feels better after I have flat ironed it. Isn't that a strange thing? Softy silky hair if I apply heat. My hair is soft to the touch but looks rough if I air dry. I tried that whole stay away from heat and I just can't jump on that wagon. I can only wear so many buns or pony tails, and apparently that was also a problem for me. Ponytail/bun area were major breakage areas.

So lets drop back into this. I guess I need to buckle down. I am missing some key pieces of being successful and hopefully, by blogging about it I can find those missing pieces.

So what steps have I been taking?

Shampooing, Conditioning and Deep Conditioning
I wash my hair once a week. Why? Because that's all I can manage. I blow dry and flat iron after I wash it, and I can't do that mid-week. Between work and my husband, I am bushed by Wednesday and I don't even have children! Flat ironing once a week was my attempt to avoid applying to much heat to my hair. I believe it may be playing a large part in my split ends.

Yes to Cucumbers Shampoo and Conditioner: Love this shampoo and Conditioner. I did a lot of research looking for a shampoo that was easy on my hair. I feel like I need moisture! Always moisture and strength. My elusive white whale..anyway. Yes to Cucumber is for color treated hair. Yep, that's right. I have come to the conclusion that color and relaxed hair share very similar weakness and the require specific care. There are a wide range of color specific shampoos and conditioners but not so much for relaxed hair. Well, there are all these products that say they are for relaxed or natural or even color treated hair. Natural hair care products in the same boat as color and relaxed hair? Give me a break. Natural hair has a set a challenges that are problem specific to the person and their lifestyle. While Relaxed and Color treated hair share the fact that they have been chemically altered and need constant upkeep to manage and care for it. I have found that this particular shampoo and conditioner meet several of my specific criteria (Stay turned for product review: Link coming soon)

Deep Conditioner: Creme of Nature Aragan Oil: Intensive Conditioning treatment
When I was self relaxing I would use the little packets after my relaxer. I loved how it made my hair feel. Very soft and smooth and it smells really good. I went and got a whole bottle of it and love it (Stay tuned for product review: Link coming soon)

So I wash my hair either with the Yes to Cucumber shampoo or conditioner depending on how my hair and scalp feel. I apply the conditioner, put my hair in a bun or pony tail with the ends tucked away and let it just sit there, air drying and whatever. If it's late I put a cap on and go to sleep but I get better results if I let it air dry and then put a cap on and go to sleep and wash it out the next day.

Blow dry with comb attachment. It's very quick. Divide hair in four parts, apply Suave's new heat and leave in conditioner and maybe a little Frutis sleek and shine and blow dry. Takes about 5 minutes.

Flat iron as desired. My flat ironing takes forever as I try to go in small sections and only do one pass and try to go quickly by the ends as they are so fragile.

Did you notice I said "When I was self relaxing.." Well, I stopped self relaxing for a few reason
  • Application-I suck at it (If I can't be honest with my self then who can)
  • When I apply the relaxer myself, it takes me longer a lot longer
  • I can't see the back of my head and that is where I have a ton of breakage.
  • Over lapping. I over lap. I can't help myself. I try but by the end I am tired of the whole process and want it done with.
  • Best reason: Someone else washing my hair and massages my scalp

They don't seem like big reasons, but they were becoming issues to me that made me think "If I did it this way I would see improvements." Well I did see improvements. Before when I self relaxed I would have these strips of hair that would puff up. No matter what, it could be perfectly straight and Florida's humid air would hit it and it would puff up to twice it's size! Now you might say, that's humidity for you, but it wasn't my whole head, just certain areas. A lot of times it was a strip right behind my bang, closer to my ear on the right side would puff up, made me feel like I had floppy dog ear.

How did I put it together? I am brilliant of course! No, not really. My hairdresser told me it was because I had massive layers of calcium build up. She said home relaxers have copious amounts of calcium and that it coats your hair and that is what causes the frizz puffs. The cure? strip your hair with relaxer.

The evidence? A different hair dresser told me that to get my ends from being so frizzy and scraggly looking to take the relaxer to the end of my hair. At the time I thought she was crazy! Seriously, there may even be a previous post that said "I had this crazy hair dresser.." I have read all these things that say that I have to protect my ends, they are little babies. Easily broken and hurt. Relaxer need to be kept far from them.
Also, when I was self relaxing and before I knew better, I relaxed every strand of hair on my head from the root to the tip and did not have that strange puffy hair problem. Which goes to show that it had been a recent happening, as in I started noticing after I had been into my hair journey for awhile.

I now go to a salon and get my hair professionally relaxed and trimmed approximately every 10 weeks. Yep, I said it. Trimmed. There are all these people who say that trimming or clipping your ends is a necessary and healthy part of caring for your hair. That when you chemically treat, manipulate and apply heat to you hair you cause damage, split ends and the like. The only way to stop a split end is to cut it off.

So I trim, but I hate it. I hate it so much. I try to be all grown up about it. I realize that I did horrible, damaging things to my hair for lets say 20 years, I'm going to be 30 this week ><, and I can't expect beautiful down my back hair that is healthy and strong in a matter of a couple of years! My ends are my burden to bear and I have to get rid of them, slowly but surely. So as my hair has grown, it's been getting stronger and  healthier at the root. My ends still suck and I know I have to chop them off. So I trim. All my growth is gone. It really makes me sad, but I know that it's for the greater good. I can see the split ends all over the place. I can tell the hair is badly damaged. The delineation mark is so apparent, especially when I wash and air dry, that sometimes I think it would be less painful if I just had them hack it off there. I think my husband would stop talking to me if I did that though. Oh well, it's not like I am bald...

So that's about it. I wash my hair once a week, deep condition overnight whenever possible, blow dry and flat iron. I moisturizing and seal nightly, well if I am really honest I don't do it nightly, shoot I didn't even do it tonight ><, and I cover my head before I go to bed. Sometimes the scarf is even there in the morning.

Get back to moisturizing and sealing nightly
Learn about imparting moisture and give my hair the strength not to break!
Figure out a wash and wear style..yeah I really see that happening for me, but I keep trying anyway. I have an idea about banana clips..