Sunday, February 3, 2013

The End of this Blog

This blog has definitely been a fun adventure, however, it will no longer be updated. I feel the goals that I set out to achieve with this blog, have been accomplished and now I wish to try new things. I'll be blogging on the following link: Low Porosity Hair Care

Please feel free to see what I'm up to on my new blog. The content of the will remain available.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Update: Baking Soda Washes + Shea Moisture + Flaxseed Gel

What is the current length of your hair?
When stretched, the back is shoulder-length and the sides are a little past chin-length.

What products are you currently loving?
Baking soda - Earlier this month and in previous posts, I discussed how my hair is low porosity. Baking soda washes have helped me lock in the moisture my hair so desperately needs. It's a cheap, affordable-- and in my opinion, safe solution. 

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie- This is a great refresher product. Earlier, I complained that it did nothing for my hair. I think this is due to the fact that I was applying it to wet hair. If I had simply followed the instructions, which say apply to damp or dry hair, then I would have realized it's actually a stellar product!

Flaxseed gel  - Homemade flaxseed gel is amazing. It defines my curls and coils, leaves my hair shiny and soft and provides a soft hold. This is really economical. It costs pennies and it took only 10 minutes make. There are wonderful tutorials on Youtube. I recommend Naptural85 or Heyfranhey's tutorials. Some people complain about the gel being to viscous. If you put it in a squeeze jar, e.g. clean shampoo bottle, it's much easier to dispense. I tried a plastic tub, like many Youtubers, but found it impractical.

Cantu Shea Butter Rinse Out Conditioner - Great ingredients, smells yummy and it's very moisturizing. I only realized this once I started my baking soda rinses.

Tropical whipped shea butter  - My homemade whipped cream that contains mango and shea butter, coconut and papaya oil. It can be used on the body and hair, so 2 for 1!

What products disappointed?

For the first time, I do not have any products that disappointed me. I finally found the products that work for me. I don't plan on going astray and trying more, I'm just going to keep these in my rotation. No product junkies over here!

What's your current regimen?

  • Clarify once per month: I put 2 TBSP of baking soda in about 1 liter of warm water and mixed it thoroughly. I wet my hair then pour this mixture over my head, being sure to distribute it evenly and avoid getting it in my eyes. I slap on a plastic cap and let it sit for about 20 minutes. I then gently massage my scalp to remove any buildup and rinse my hair.This helps me lock in moisture and prevent buildup. Following the baking soda rinse, I do a deep conditioner and sometimes a protein treatment.
  • Shampoo once per month using my special mixture of rhassoul clay. This is the perfect light shampoo. It makes my hair soft and detangling is a breeze.
  • Deep conditioner: every time I wash my hair. I mix my conditioner and an oil and sit under my dryer for about 30 - 45 minutes.
  • Cowash - once per week or every other week.
  • Moisturize: KCKT and a light oil on my ends only.
How have you been styling your hair?
For the month of January I've been doing twist outs, coil outs and buns. Mainly, I try to keep my hair stretched.

What challenges have you faced?
Not many, dry ends were a huge issue for me before, however with my new baking soda treatment, I've been able to retain moisture. Low porosity hair is hard to moisturize, but once you lock it in, I find it stays moisturized for several days! Additionally, using shea moisture as my refresher to moisturize my ends during the week, has worked out quite nicely.

Any drastic changes to your regimen or hair?
I traded in my poly-sateen scarf for a 100% silk scarf. I'm very happy with my choice. My hair can breathe, my ends stay really soft and moisturized and it feels so luxurious. Definitely a much needed investment.

Would you like to offer any hair advice for this month?
Determine your hair's porosity. Avoid glycerin in the winter if you live in a dry, arid environment. Use a silk scarf.

That's all for the month of January!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Low Porosity Hair - Moisture Miracle!

Since the start of my natural hair journey, I've noticed my hair took a long time to absorb water on wash day and then it took forever to dry. When it did dry, it didn't always feel soft and moisturized, it wasn't insanely shiny and I was left with a halo of frizz. I read different blogs, scoured Youtube. This left me with the conclusion that I wasn't sealing efficiently. So, I gathered my artillery of oils and creams, moisturizing, then sealing to lock in all that good moisture I was letting out. This left my hair feeling slippery, greasy and gunky.  It also left me self-conscious about  leaving my "hair print" on someone's nice sofa or armchair. At my wits end, the research continued. I came across Kimmaytube videos. As she explained PH and protective styling, so colorfully and scientifically, I thought to myself, that is it, it's my PH that's off balance. So, I started whipping up my Kimmaytube leave-in. I slathered it on my hair, concentrating on my ends. As my hair dried, I noticed white build-up and sticky, frizzy hair. Wonk, wonk, wonk! What's a girl to do? Trust me, I'd tried everything, even baggying. Pssh, my hair laughed at that and I woke up to a dry, mushy mess.

Well, I google searched my "symptoms" and came across articles on low porosity, like this one. As I continued to read on, I felt like the person who wrote the article described me! There was only one thing to do! I grabbed a cup of lukewarm water and placed a string of freshly washed hair in the cup. That strand of hair floated for the entire day (an indication of low porosity hair). I was so disappointed. Now my natural hair journey would be all about forcing moisture into my hair.

Thus, my low porosity research began. My research landed me right on the pages of the lovely Elle's blog "Quest for the Perfect Curl", where she talked about her lo-po aha moment. I thought, finally someone like me. She was the first blogger and Youtuber I came across who discussed such issues. While most people talked about hair regimens, natural hair musts, and curl patterns, Elle discussed moisture retention and lack there of. Suddenly, I became aware, why after my 1st year of being natural, I felt I had made absolutely no progress on my journey to healthy, long hair. Elle discussed, using a treatment called the Cherry Lola, which consists of baking soda, amino acid and plain yogurt-- essentially, a protein treatment. Baking soda is naturally alkaline and has a pH of 9 (for comparison shower water has a pH of about 7). Since lo-po cuticles naturally lie flat, using a product with a lower ph would further seal the cuticle, locking out moisture. Light bulbs went off in my head, it all started to make sense.

However, I had to admit, I was pretty terrified about the idea of using baking soda. I'd read on many blogs, that it was harsh, would cause irreversible damage, was equivocal to a relaxer, was impossible to remove from the hair, the list goes on.

On Curly Nikki, once an expert discussed haircare, particularly sealing and locking in moisture. I asked her for her advise on my hair, explaining that it was low porosity. She replied back with an informative response, however, warned me that it's rare for natural tightly-coily-haired women to be low porosity. She said the way the hair bends and twists, leaves it prone to damage, thus it requires gentle care and deep moisture. She also suggested my issue might be product build-up and that a good clarifying shampoo followed by a deep conditioner, moisturizer and seal, should do the trick. Since she was a hair chemist, I followed her advise and ignored my gut. So, I continued along with my regimen and left the Arm & Hammer on my refrigerator shelf.

As, I clarified my hair, it felt dry and brittle. What's worse the deep conditioner only slightly improved the situation. As I applied my leave-in, aloe vera gel, then oil, my hair could not have looked worse. With every slather of aloe, it was like it was shrinking into an tiny, dry horror.

I continued along with this routine for about 1/2 a year, never being truly happy with my results. Some products that helped were rhassoul clay, but following my treatment, I would then apply oils/butter and leave-in. I'd get out of the shower with spectacularly, moisturized curls and after styling I'd have a frizzy poof.

This all changed yesterday, that box of baking soda that's been sitting on my shelf? Well, I tested it on my hair, which I now know is low porosity. I made a mixture of 4 TBSP of baking soda, 1 c of conditioner and avocado oil and let it sit on my hair for about an hour. I rinsed it out and my hair didn't feel super moisturized, but strong and tangle free. I then applied my Cantu Shea butter conditioner that I recently purchased, which did nothing for my hair before. You know what? Magic happened, my curls melted into the conditioner, my fingers slid through my hair and my hair felt incredibly moisturized. I think a little tear shed from my eye. I jumped out of the shower after rinsing out the baking soda really well. I didn't follow-up with a vinegar rinse, b/c in my opinion I wanted to add my moisturizing products with a lower pH and keep the added benefits. I styled my hair and twisted it. My twists have never been so easy to do before!

The verdict? I'll continue doing these treatments and adding them to my regimen. Next time I will just apply baking soda and water, then let it sit. Afterwards, I'll rinse it out deep condition  with heat heat, allow it to cool, then partially rinse it out the conditioner (kind of a semi-curly girl routine).

I think there are many of us lo-po naturals out there, however, fewer than normal and high porosity naturals. This really is an issue that is not addressed enough in the natural beauty sphere. You really have to listen to your hair, it will thank you! Just because the majority of the natural hair world is sealing, using aloe vera, etc. does not mean you need to too. So if you think you may be lo-po, put down the aloe juice, your porosity control products, your apple cider vinegar, your heavy oils and butters and reevaluate your regimen. If you're nervous about using baking soda, you could try adding shavings of Castile's soap to your conditioner. In the mean time, I'll try to keep my blog updated with my baking soda results. It's only been week one, but I'm looking forward to updates!

What's your hair porosity, what works for you?

Twist out with my old regimen (left) vs twist out with my new regimen (right)

with baking soda treatment

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year, New Things!

In the past, I've tried the Curly Girl Method and Tightly Curly Method, hoping it would help me moisturize my hair. Unfortunately, it left me with lots of build-up and waxy hair Additionally, since going natural, I've  a problem with dry ends, even days after trimming. This was not related to styling: I used little manipulation and have only flat-ironed my hair twice. It was not related to sealing, I've tried the LOC method, the LCO method-- still dry ends. It was not related to deep conditioning, I do so once per week.

So with a New Year, I took time to evaluate what I may be doing wrong. I'm on a mission to tackle my dry end issue and wanted to share what I am trying at the moment. It's a little bit of old and new:

Curly Girl Method! Yes, again. However, this time, I am only applying conditioner as my leave-in to my ends and not all over my hair. I plan on re wetting my ends when they feel a little dry and conditioning them again. So far, my ends feel supple and soft. We'll see if this does the trick. I'm also laying off the oils for a little, to see how my hair responds without constant oiling, which hasn't done too much for me. I'll continue to use oils in my deep conditioner and will add a very light oil to my leave-in. However, I'm taking a break from the sealing, because I haven't really noticed any results, only build-up.

Are there are new things you're trying or old parts of your routine that you've abandoned, due to less than stellar results?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

December Update: Trim + Flat Iron + Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

Happy New Year! Hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your friends and loved ones. The New Year is my favorite time of the year. Life feels so fresh and well new. It's time to check-in on goals and create fun new ones. With all the holiday parties and traveling I've done, I've held off on posting my December update until now.

What is the current length of your hair?
Stretched - The back is shoulder length when stretched and the sides are a couple of inches away from shoulder length. Little by little, I shall overcome the mullet shape that is my hair.

What products are you currently loving?
Avocado Oil - It does a great job of keeping my ends and scalp moisturized.

Aussie Moist - Still doing a wonderful job of keeping my hair moisturized and aiding in detangling!

Kinky Curly Knot Today  - I still refuse to pay 16.99 for the tiny 8 ounce the Kinky Curly Custard, however, this leave-in is my BFF. Love it! I always consider trying new leave-ins, but why fix what's not broken. Besides, you get your money's worth, a little goes a long way!

What products disappointed?
Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie - Not because it didn't enhance my curls, but it like my hair feel a bit dry. I was hoping for a leave-in/styling aid that would moisturize. It could be due to the cold, dry weather, so I'll hang on to it and try it in the summer or for twist outs, but definitely not for wash-n-gos. In any case, I'm not sure if I'll try any other products from the line.

What's your current regimen?
  • Cowash once per week or once every other 10 - 14 days.
  • Shampoo (using my special mixture), with rhassoul clay or by rubbing diluted vinegar on my scalp, once per month.
  • LOC (leave-in, oil, conditioner)
  • Style, preferably protective

How have you been styling your hair?
For the month of December I did a wash-n-gos and then played around with it in different stretched styles. This allowed me to achieve 6 - 7 day hair. Additionally, I flat-ironed my hair!! I was really pleased with the results. My hair looked thicker and had a nice shine to it.  I wore it down on day one, then in a donut bun for the remainder of the time.
Flat ironing is not something I plan on doing every month, but it was a nice end of the year treat. The style lasted two weeks. My morning routine was so quick!

What challenges have you faced?
Dry ends.

Any drastic changes to your regimen or hair?
I trimmed off 1.5 inches. They were not split, but they were dry and brittle. I did this after flat-ironing my hair and now it feels much better. I think I may start cutting a 1/2 inch every 3 months, if they feel a bit dry. I cut my hair when it was flat-ironed, which in my opinion was easier for me. I'll continue to cut it, when it's stretched, either in twists, blown out or flat-ironed.

Would you like to offer any hair advice for this month?
If your ends are dry and brittle, simply let them go and try to develop a rigorous hydration routine. Daily moisturizing and oiling + protective styling.

That's all for the month of December. Can't believe it's 2013!