Thursday, July 28, 2011

Product Overdose

I've heard that switching up products is beneficial for the hair. Some argue that using the same shampoo and conditioner all the time decreases its effectiveness. I'm not sure to what extent this statement is true, but today I picked up a new shampoo and conditioner, because I experienced a protein overdose. Yes, that's right I overdosed on protein and actually without even realizing it!

I tend to buy products without much consideration. I often purchase a product if it has a nice design and a convincing short description on the front of the bottle (e.g. 1 minute intense repair). I rarely look at the list of ingredients! Another factor that tends to attract me to a product is the description of whom the product is intended for. I always select products that are targeted towards "dry, very dry, chemically processed and/or rebellious hair". Rebellious hair, what the hell is so rebellious about one's natural hair? Just because one's hair (regardless the ethnicity) has a curl pattern, does not in any way, shape or form mean their hair is rebellious! I mean come on, my hair is already dry, why do those companies have to add rebellious to the description-- works wonders for the self-esteem!

Any hew sorry for the discourse, as I was saying, these bad habits landed me in my current state. My hair is super frizzy, dry, and fuzzy! Did I mention frizzy!? For the past 3 months, I have been washing my hair with products that contain proteins. Protein is not so horrible for the hair. In fact when used in moderation and combined with moisturizing non-protein based shampoos and conditioners, it can actually strengthen the hair. However, I was using protein 2-3 times per week-- not pretty!

I had no idea that my weekly, deep conditioner had protein in it. My hair literally reached its snapping point the other when I did my monthly protein treatment. After the treatment, I decided to deep condition to retain moisture. Not realizing at that time that my deep conditioner also contained protein. Basically, I was double dosing! After washing my hair I saw lots of shedding and it was so dry. On top of it all I discovered my shampoo, which I use once a week is not only a clarifying shampoo, but also contains protein-- I was triple dosing! Many hair gurus recommend using clarifying shampoos once a month or when the hair feels weighed down by product residue, as frequent use can result in stripping the hair of its natural oils. So a cumulative effect of too much protein and over clarifying left my hair ├╝ber dry.

After this realization (i.e. lots of googling), I went to the center of town to purchase a new shampoo and conditioner. And can you believe it, I fell for it again!! Nivea has a new line called Cashmere, I mean the name alone makes me think of soft, luxurious moisture! I grabbed the poo and conditioner and headed home. When I arrived home, I took out the bottles to examine them and realized right below the word cashmere, in small print were the words "rice-based protein"!! I cannot escape it! Today I went back and returned both items and bought a mild shampoo from Garnier (biodegradable, made of almond and lotus flowers, the bottle says it's safe for the whole family) and a conditioner from Le Petit Marseillais (made with Shea butter and honey, for dry and stressed hair). Most importantly both products do not contain proteins. Yay!

I have been sporting braid outs all week. I'm really horrible at doing fancy twists and braids, so am happy my elementary plaits can achieve nice results.

I plan on shampooing and conditioning, with these new products this weekend. I hope they are ultra moisturizing! Next week, I'll also experiment with a honey and olive oil deep conditioner. I've been reading about all of the positive qualities of honey in terms of increasing moisture, so I'm excited about that.

Honestly, I don't think I could have ever transitioned without the internet! There are so many blogs, videos and forums out there to inform novices like myself! Chapeau to anyone who transitioned pre-Google! Here's a helpful tip I found for identifying whether a product has protein: Be wary of any product that states it's intended to repair, strengthen or restructure--- these usually always indicate protein. If the product contains keratin, silk protein, amino acids, soy protein, collagen or anything hydrolyzed-- well then it's likely protein-based.

Why do I suddenly have the feeling this blog should be called 100 things not to do when transitioning!

Peace & Love

P.S. - I decided to do an itty-bitty, teeny-tiny big chop on a strand of hair to see what my curl looks like without the relaxed end attached to it. I'll admit, I wanted to keep snipping out of curiosity and because of how weak the relaxed strands look, but I was too much of a coward to do so. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Almost 5 Months

I haven't had a new entry for quite some time, because I was in this beautiful place:

Yes, I was under the Tuscan sun and words cannot describe it--- it's just so romantic and magical! [Insert abrupt transition to hair here] My hair absolutely loved the warm, dry Mediterranean weather. I washed, scrunched and air dried for the duration of the trip. My waves were super defined, soft and shiny and lasted the entire day!

As the title of the entry indicates, I'm almost 5 months post-relaxer and couldn't be happier. Although I haven't been transitioning that long, I'll admit now, month 3 was super difficult! I kept threatening my hair to behave or I'd reach for the relaxer. I experienced a serious amount of shedding! Luckily, months 4 and almost month 5, have been pleasant. 

I can't speak too soon, but I think my hair has finally accepted the idea of transitioning. I experience very little shedding and my hair has never been so soft and full-- and it's growing at such a fast rate! I've limited shampooing my hair to once per week and no more. I'm generous with my conditioner, but also skip that and just wet my hair and apply leave-in, when my hair feels moisturized and clean. One thing I am going to reintroduce into my regime is vinegar rinses. I used to do them 1x month, because the water in my town is hard. I am pretty strict about flat-ironing my hair no more than 1 x per month. This allows me versatility and gives me a chance to trim dead ends -- I prefer to trim my hair dry vs. wet.

I know this is going to be a long road to travel and that I won't have a head of full and long natural hair for a few years. I'm content with the way my hair looks now, it is kinkier around the edges and curlier around the crown, but I'm learning to embrace it. One important lesson I've learned as I approach month 5, is that I should love all of my hair. In the beginning, I found myself only focusing on the new growth and viewing my relaxed hair as an accessory. However, healthy hair is about the big picture-- my scalp, new growth, and my relaxed hair too!

Here are some pictures of current styles, which are helping me a lot as I transition:

This one is super easy. After wetting my hair, I added leave in and essential oils divided my hair in three parts and plaited each part and sealed the ends with all natural Shea butter. I pulled my two front plaits towards the back of my hair and held in place with a bobby pin and simply put an Ouchless hair elastic on the back plait. Wrapped my hair (I really need a satin pillowcase) before bed, woke up and unraveled the plaits et voila:

Another style I like is spiral curls. Although this style is more time-consuming than the previous and does involve sitting under the dryer, I think it's still a good summer look.

Peace & Love,