Saturday, 17 March 2012

My Hair: 'Braid out' Instant Weave Protective Styling

Sensationnel Half Instant Weave.  Style: Dixi FM7006  

It's been almost 3 months now with my instant weave protective styling (unofficial) challenge.  The weather's getting better, it's beginning to feel like spring.  Almost time to put dark coloured clothings away, don trendy fashion and let my coils hang! - *happy dancing* :).

I love the curl pattern on this half wig!  It is very similar to my natural hair in a braid out or separated twist out style.  The hair band shown here is actually a satin neckerchief.  It conceals the comb attachment perfectly.  As always, I added extra bobby pins to secure the hair firmly.

Alternatively, I used a braided hair band for a stylish look.  I try to wear my half instant weaves for at least two weeks.  My weekly hair care still takes place while re-moisturising  at least once or twice during the week.  My natural hair is at it's all time healthiness right now.  I can't wait to flaunt my coils this Spring/Summer :).

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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Healthy Hair Care: Relaxed To Natural - Transitioning Tips

I was on the phone to my friend the other when she announced that she's finally decided to transition from relaxed to natural - YAY!  I was more than thrilled to hear that, obviously.  For the one and half hours we were on the phone (I know, we needed a good catch-up), all we talked about was natural hair, her transitioning journey, products etc.  Our conversation gave me an idea for this post, nonetheless.

You may be embarking on the natural journey due to heat damage, breakage from chemical treatments, or for a lifestyle change.  Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair can seem like a daunting process for most.  Especially, when you're not sure of what to expect of your natural texture.  Unfortunately, it's got to be done as there's no quick fix way of reverting your relaxed hair to its natural state. Transitioning can also be an emotional process when you don't have the support of family and friends.  Try these helpful tips to make it through the transitioning phase with minimum frustrations:

Stay Committed

Have it at the back of your mind why you've decided to go natural and stick to it.  Be true to yourself about your chosen reason for going natural and stay committed.  It's very common to change your mind in the cause of transitioning to go back to relaxers.  Don't give in and don't give up!

Educate Yourself

Research the right steps to a healthy hair care.  There are numerous natural hair blogs, forums, and discussion boards online to help with the transitioning period and also give you a much needed support.  Although, such information could be useful, you must be selective in order not to overwhelm yourself.  Learn only what your hair needs at any stage.

Should You Big Chop?

Now, Big Chop is the breaking point for most transitioners, I think.  You do not necessarily need to BC to go natural.  If short or cropped hair is simply not you, then don't do it.  Check this out for some short hair motivation, all the same.  You can transition for as short as 3-6 months or a longer period of 12-24 months.  It's all up to you.  Bear in mind that the relaxed and natural textures on your head could be frustrating to deal with.  You can always wear instant weaves like this, sew-in weaves, or braids for length if you choose to big chop.  BC is a must if you're experiencing breakage from relaxers or heat damage.  You'll need to cut the damaged straight ends off so it doesn't travel along the shaft to your new growth.

Start Caring For Your Hair 

Start nurturing your natural new growth from the beginning.  Treat your hair with care as your natural hair growth will be stronger than the relaxed ends.  The line of demarcation (where the relaxed ends meet the natural new growth) between the two textures could be very fragile and prone to breakage.  It is the weakest part of your hair while transitioning.  This is why too much heat styling and manipulation should be avoided.  Co-wash (conditioner wash) your hair to add moisture.  Shampoos could be stripping for our coily/curly tresses.  If you must wash with shampoo, then use sulfate free products or simply use diluted shampoo.  Sulfate is an ingredient used in most shampoos which produces the suds or lather to give your scalp a squeaky clean feeling.  They could dry out your hair with frequent use.  The most common sulfates are Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lareth Sulphate, and Myreth Sulfate.  Deep conditioning once a week is an absolute must.  You could use protein or nourishing deep conditioners for much needed strength and moisture.  Always seal in moisture afterwards with an oil or butter - like olive oil, castor oil, or shea butter.  For healthier tresses, get your diet right!

Buy Staple Products And Tools

You can start off using a sulfate free shampoo, moisturising rinse-out conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave-in conditioner to treat your hair weekly.  It is imperative that you read labels of products to know what's best for your texture.  Hot oil treatments (using oils like extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, jojoba oil, castor oil) are recommended for healthy growth and restoring balance.  Unrefined shea butter is highly recommended for sealing in moisture.  Alcohol free hair gels are great for sleek hairstyles as they're not drying to the hair.
A wide tooth comb should be your number one detangling tool.  It glides through hair with little effort.  It's best practice to use a wide tooth comb to detangle wet or damp hair, or with a conditioner from the ends to the roots.  Other essentials are a shower cap for deep conditioning without heat, butterfly clips for sectioning hair while washing or styling, ouch-less/seamless elastics, and sleeping with a satin bonnet on to protect hair.

Styling Options

Twist Out

Do not at any point flat iron, press or blow dry your natural roots to match the relaxed ends.  This could potentially damage your healthy new growth.  Some of the best transitioning hairstyles to mask the line of  demarcation of the two textures are; two strand twists and twist outs, braids and braid outs, flexi rod/roller sets, bantu knots out, and kinky twists.  You can also protective style for a short period with instant weaves/wigs, sew-in weaves, or box braids to give your strands a break from everyday manipulation.
Box Braids
Sew-in Weave

Kinky Twists

Be Patient And Embrace The True Texture Of Your Hair

No two heads of hair are the same.  If you don't remember the true texture of your hair due to years of relaxing, then don't be too surprised with the texture of your hair type when it grows out.  Love and experiment with it.  Transitioning from relaxed to natural can give you some of the best and worst hair moments.  Be patient, confident, and build a good hair care routine to see you through the transitioning journey.

**Click the Jargons Tab for explanation of the terms highlighted**

Friday, 17 February 2012

My Hair: Curly Half Wig Protective Style

Sensationnel Half Instant Weave. Style: Helena FM7029

This week and last week has seen me wearing this lovely curly instant weave.  I love the curls so much I've had to wear it for two consecutive weeks.  The compliments have been amazing too :)!

I  love half instant weaves by Sensationnel.  They're so easy and less fiddly to attach - and affordable too.  It comes with a large comb attachment to the front and a slightly smaller one to the back to secure it.  I tend to secure it a bit more with bobby pins.  Wouldn't want it flying off in public now, would we?  I prefer putting my hair in two strand twists and placing a wig cap on before wearing this style.  

Not only does my hair stay protected, but detangling on wash day is a breeze 'cause they were in twists. The cap also obscures the tracks of the wig. To give a fuller curly look, I separated and fluffed up the wig.  I plan to achieve this curly look on my natural coils with flexi rods when the weather improves.

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Friday, 3 February 2012

My Hair: Ponytail Protective Style

We've had a rather mild weather for most part of this Winter in the UK.  This week has seen a harsher cold spell cast on us, brrr!!  If given a choice, I would rather stay home and wrap up my delicate coils in a satin scarf, [Sigh].

To preserve my tresses from the harsh weather, I've decided to protective style for the next couple of months or so.  I had a sew in for a little over six weeks from 9th December, 2011 to 24th January, 2012.  I plan to use instant weaves among others for this challenge.  This way, I can still moisturise and seal my ends every other day.  You'll be updated with the different protective styles I wear on a weekly basis.  Weekly styling is ideal for me due to work...and sheer laziness :).  Besides, I give my hair all the lurving it needs once a week - usually on a weekend.

Protective Style of The Week (PSTW):

Sleeked Ponytail  (bun'ed up)

I prefer 
instant weaves that closely match my curls.

Ponytail piece by Sensationnel

I used good 'ol Ecostyler Gel for the sleek look on clean and moisturised hair.  Night time routine is to simply mist my hair with water, seal with coconut oil and wrap it up in a satin scarf.  Next day's hair looks fresh and protected from any bitterly cold temperature.

Right, bring on the big freeze(!)  Not.

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Motivation: The Big Deal in Big Chop

The route to naturalhood could be via transitioning for a long period of time or by simply being brave and cutting off all your chemically treated hair.  Now, the latter seem to frighten a lot of ladies looking to go natural.  The journey to healthy hair is one you need to be comfortable and confident to pursue.  How about I do my bit to relax you about your Big Chop scare, eh :)?  Take a look at these ladies in the limelight:

Alek Wek

Solange Knowles

Lauryn Hill

Raven Symone

Chrisette Michele
Won't you agree they look stunning with their cropped natural dos?  See, there's nothing to it.  If you'll still prefer a bit more hair after Big Chopping, wear instant weaves or extensions for length.  Hey, there's absolutely nothing wrong with faking it till you make, alright?  Accessorise, enhance your facial features with make up, put on a smile and work your TWA, girl :)! 

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Hair Care: Healthy Hair Diet

Growing healthy hair is not all about the products that you put on your tresses.  You may be following a strict regimen of pre-shampooing, co-washing, and deep conditioning every week, but still show signs of poor quality hair.  It's about what you put in your body too.  The foundation of healthy hair is the nutrients we eat.  Remember the saying, "you're what you eat"?  In this case, your hair is what you eat.  You may need to step out of the shower and into the kitchen :).

Image Source
Instead of buying all the products on the market, practise a well balanced diet that includes plenty of proteins, omega 3 fatty acids, iron and vitamins for healthy hair and growth promotion.

Healthy hair nutrition must include eating enough protein.  Protein is the building block of every part of our body.  Hair is almost entirely protein.  The more protein you eat, the healthier your follicles will be.  There are many low fat foods packed with protein without having to worry about saturated fat.  Foods like chicken, red meat, turkey, fish, and eggs are excellent sources of protein.  However, try to use as little butter or oil in their preparation.  Vegetarian?  Don't despair, get your protein from Tofu, legumes like beans and lentils.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Essential Omega-3 fatty acids are vital in supporting scalp health.  Absence of adequate Omega-3 fats can cause hair to feel brittle and dry, and encourage flaky scalp.  Some of the foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty acids are flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cabbage, broccoli, and cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.

Iron deficiency can be detrimental to your hair.  Research has shown that lack of iron in the body can cause hair shedding and thinning.  Eating dark green, leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, watercress are excellent sources for Iron.  Other foods are whole grain cereals fortified with Iron, dried fruits like raisins, apricots, and dates, beans such as chick peas, butter and kidney beans.  Animal foods rich in Iron are liver, egg yolk, kidney, red meat, and oily fish.

Vitamins help in the production of follicles.  Vitamin C improves the absorption of Iron into the body, while Vitamin A helps in the production of oil (sebum) to lubricate hair and scalp.  Vitamin B5 stimulates cell growth and repair.  Foods such as dark leafy vegetables, carrots, citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, milk, cheese, and meats should be on your grocery list. 

Image Source
To add to the above, you must keep your body hydrated.  Drinking eight glasses of water a day is absolutely necessary for healthy hair - I can't stress on it enough.  It flushes out toxins and keeps your hair moisturised.  Certainly, there are other nutrients which may contribute to the health of your hair.  An overall balanced diet should be practised for healthy hair and beauty.  Plus, you'll get all the other nutritional benefits that these foods have to offer for a healthier and stronger cells in your entire body.  

Monday, 2 January 2012

My Hair, My Story - So Far.

Old twist out puff.

My natural hair journey was SO not planned!  Therefore, there are no pictures from when it all began - rather unfortunate.  I mean, I had no idea that's what I had embarked on, anyway.  The decision to let my chemically treated hair (relaxed) grow out was meant to be temporarily.  Until, I had figured out why my hair was speedily deteriorating in length and volume.

After my last relaxer in February 2005, I decided to wear braids and weaves just to let my hair grow.  The plan was to give my hair a break from relaxers for sometime, then apply the treatment again.
6 months post relaxer, I was boasting of about 2-4 inches of new growth.  At this point, it was difficult dealing with the two textures (natural roots, relaxed ends) I had going on.  My hairdresser suggested snipping off the relaxed ends.  The thought of short hair as opposed to my long tresses was not appealing.  In October 2005, I braced myself and Big Chopped , as it later became known to me.  I thought, I'll give my natural hair another six months, then relax it.  All I was interested in at the time was regaining the mid back length of hair I once boasted.  Surprisingly, after rocking my natural texture for a year, coupled with the compliments I received, the thought of relaxing my hair never crossed my mind again [hallelujah].  

A good couple of years into being Natural, I was still struggling with maintaining and caring for my hair.  I'll wash, blowdry and rock my TWA as that.  I put extensions in just to save me from dealing with it altogether.  Late 2008, alas, a saviour!  I found YouTube with all the lovely Naturalistas!  I couldn't be more happier.

March '09.  Early stages of mastering two strand twists.

July '09.  An attempt at Wash & Go.  Rather shrunken, but I LOVED it!

Today, six years and two months after I BC'ed, I stand before you as a full-fledged Natural :).  It's been such a learning curve and I've loved (still love) every bit of it.  What's your story so far?

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