Monday, January 24, 2011

Twist Series: Growth & Length Retention IV

Micro twists (real hair)
  • I want to know how often should you moisturize in twists? I tend to do it everyday, and my hair ends up fuzzy!
I moisturize 1x a week, thus minimizing frizz, fuzz, and shrinkage.  I'm a big believer that if a moisturizer is doing what it's supposed to do, one wouldn't have to use it daily.  Try experimenting with other products if the one you are using just isn't keeping your hair moisturized.  Additionally, look into what you are using for your deep conditioner.  In my experience, a good deep condition and moisturizer on the day of twisting is key!  (Other than this method, you can plait your twists until they airdry to minimize the fuzz.)

  • at what length should you start wearing twists for length retention? i have about eight inches of hair all around and any time i try to do twists, it just looks ridiculous if i don't pin it up into a style. should i just refrain from doing twists until i get more length?

You can start wearing twists at any length that you are able to do so.  I will admit that when my hair was shorter, I felt ridiculous wearing twists to work.  However, after playing with them for some time, I was able to find a "suitable" style that was comfortable for me.  Eight inches is actually a good length for versatile twist styles.  In the next post, I'll include some pictures of style ideas for all lengths.  Stay tuned ...

Friday, January 21, 2011

3in6 Challenge Rules

For the first post, read here.

To all the challengers (and interested readers), be sure to bookmark this post!

Purpose of this challenge: To retain 2-3 inches of growth in 6 months.

Challenge period: February 1 - August 1, 2011

1. Eat fresh vegetables or fruits with each meal.
2. Take a daily multivitamin.
3. Drink sufficient water.
(Amt of water in oz. = Your weight in lbs * 0.5)
4. Wear twists or braids 2-4 weeks at a time.
5. No direct heat.
6. Pre-poo with coconut oil for 20 minutes.
7. Absolutely no trimming.  (Start with a fresh cut now if need be.)

Each challenger is allowed two 1-week periods of styling her hair as she pleases (e.g., puff, rollerset, etc.).

For documentation of your length retention:
- Notebook/journal or camera
- Ruler/measuring tape

Tips on wearing twists/braids long term:
- Do not twist/braid too tightly
- Redo the perimeter weekly or biweekly.
- Deep condition & detangle thoroughly prior to twisting or braiding.
- For more tips, check out posts in the twist series

The Challenge begins February 1st!  Start preparing.

Everything Coconut Oil!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Twist Series: Growth & Length Retention III

  • how can you protect your ends while in twists? 
First and foremost, wear a satin bonnet or scarf to bed.  Cotton pillowcases can make the ends of your twists dry and brittle.  Next, make sure your ends are sufficiently moisturized.  Lastly, if your twists brush your shoulders (or beyond), pin it up during the day.  This minimizes snagging and drying of the ends from contact with your clothes.

  • ... What products should you use? 
Use products that leave your twists sufficiently moisturized.  This includes a good deep conditioner and moisturizer on the day you twist.  Also use products that do not contain humectants (e.g., glycerin, propylene glycol) if you want to keep shrinkage at bay for as long as possible.  Other than these two conditions, use what works for you and what you like.  (I use LeKair Cholesterol for deep conditioning and a shea butter mix to seal after rinsing.)

  • ... and should end papers be used to protect ends? 
No, end papers are not necessary.

  • ... Also how long should you keep twists in for optimal growth? Should you keep a style in one, two or three weeks
For optimal growth, twists should be worn for as long as your hair can handle.  The less you manipulate your hair via styling, the less breakage, and the more length retention.  Ideally, twists should be worn for 2-5 weeks at a time with minimal washing (to prevent locking and meshing).  Find a duration that works best for your hair.  (I wear mine for 3-4 weeks at a time.)

Label of the Day: Breakage

{Image Source}
Here are some posts on "Breakage" in case you've missed them:

Tips for a Sensitive Hairline
Tips for Transitioning or Stretching Relaxers
Nape Breakage?
Micro Twist Takedown on CNapp Hair
Boar Brush = Damage to Your Edges?

For more breakage-related posts, click here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

3 inches in 6 months Challenge!

How do you readers feel about joining me in a length retention challenge?

Hair grows an average of 0.5in/month.  (Some people get less growth and others get more.)  For this challenge, we'll aim to retain 2-3 inches in 6 months.  Guidelines will be posted later this week to help you through the process.  Also, we'll be in touch on a monthly basis. If you are interested, please leave a comment below.

Challenge period: February 1 - August 1, 2011.

Healthy hair in 2011!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Youtube: HEALTHY Food Recipe for the Professional

Check out the following informative video from one my favorite youtubers.  I've been making my own ground turkey tacos for some time and love to see when others are taking the healthier route as well.   She (Afrostory) does a thorough job of explaining alternatives to ground beef, cheese, salsa, and iceberg lettuce.  She also gives insight into the effects of high sodium, processed salt, lactose intolerance, etc.  

If you're on a budget, check out the following DIY healthy smoothie recipes in place of Odwalla:

Soy Smoothie Meets Green Smoothie
Cranberry Smoothie

Again, healthy hair and body start from within!

Chapt.II: Precautions When Highlighting

Last week, I talked about factors to consider BEFORE chemically highlighting your natural hair.  Please read that post before delving into to this one.

This week, I'll discuss some precautions one should take when highlighting natural hair at home.  If you choose to have the process done professionally, be sure that your colorist knows how to color natural hair and not just hair in general.  I had a friend walk into an Aveda salon and walk out with beautiful color but loosened texture and dry hair.  Don't let that be you.

PRECAUTIONS when highlighting at home:

1. Use a commercial kit.  Commercial highlighting kits are designed to yield minimal mistakes.  I have used (in the past) and recommend African Pride HiLites.  L'Oreal Colour Rays (used this time) is also good but TOO strong for relaxed tresses.  Though a few people have had success with hydrogen perioxide as a highlighting technique, I do NOT recommend it (from my own past experience); by the time it lifts the color to a desirable shade, damage is done to the strands.

2. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS provided in the kit.  This is the number one precaution one must take above all others.  Many highlight jobs go wrong when instructions are not followed properly.  I've had the experience of my whole hair break off when I left a dye on for 5 minutes longer than stated in the directions.

3. Pre-treat with coconut oil for 20 minutes before highlighting.  I don't know whether this method is effective against chemical damage or merely psychological, but I felt better knowing that my hair was strengthened going into the dye job.  The oil did not interfere with the intensity of the color in my experience.

4. Don't leave the dye on your head longer than instructed.  Actually, it is ideal to leave it on for less time. If the kit says 25 minutes, leave it on for 20 minutes.  If you want optimal color, leave it on for the full 25 minutes but no longer than that.

5. Rinse and wash your hair and scalp thoroughly after the process.

6. After using the conditioner/conditioning shampoo from the kit, follow up with your usual deep conditioner.  This step will ensure that moisture and strength is restored to your strands.  In my recent highlighting experience, I immediately followed up with a 20-minute deep treatment using Lekair Cholesterol mixed with olive oil.

7. Wait about 4-6 months to highlight after a henna treatment.  (See this link.)  After highlighting, wait another 4-6 months before hennaing again.  Some individuals may highlight/henna sooner, but this precaution is just to be on the safe side.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chocolate Conditioner Recipes!

I LOVE chocolate (in moderation) but who would've thought it could be used to condition the hair!?!  Chocolate is high in fat and has a bit of protein - a great combination for a conditioner worth trying.  (This sweet also has a small amount of caffeine, which studies have suggested may stimulate hair growth in those suffering from balding.[1])  I smell a recipe review coming around Valentine's Day?  If you can't wait until then, feel free to experiment with the concoctions below:

- dark chocolate bar
- yogurt
- honey
Recipe and Instructions

- overripe banana (be sure to sieve)
- honey
- dark chocolate
Recipe and Instructions

CHOCOLATE HAIR MASK - For the Mixologist!
- honey
- overripe banana
- coconut milk
- coconut oil
- pure cocoa butter
- jojoba oil (or olive oil)
- pure cacao (cocoa) powder
Recipe and Instructions


Twist Series: Growth & Length Retention II

  • While maintaining twists, how can you prevent the ends from getting tangly (scraggly)? 
  • i second the question on how to prevent tangly ends while in twists. they feel detangled before i twist them, but when i take them down i sometimes feel the tangles.
I first make sure to twist on damp/dry, stretched hair.  (Shrunken ends are more inclined to tangle than stretched ends.)  To prevent tangling after twisting, I keep moisturizing and washing to a minimum - about weekly or biweekly.  By the end of week #2, my ends are pretty shrunken and this would be a perfect time to redo my twists.  However, I tend to keep twists in for 3-4 weeks at a time.  Slightly tangled ends at this point are almost inevitable, but shea butter or some water + conditioner help the strands separate fairly easily.  (If the ends are really tangled, that may indicate that you're in need of a trim.)

  • How often should you trim while wearing twists? 
Trim as often as needed rather than on a set schedule.  (See this post.)  Trimming on a set schedule reduces length retention in my opinion and experience.

  • When is the best time to start pinning them up? I'm noticing that I'm losing some length due to damage at the ends, though I've been wearing my hair in twists as a protective style for the past few months.
Ideally, you want to start pinning up twists when they are long enough such that the style is effortless and does not cause much tension on the scalp or ends.  For me, that "comfortable" length was APL stretched.  Damage at the ends can result from a number of sources: pinning up the twists too early, leaving the twists in for too long, impatience during the twist takedown, improperly taking the twists down (i.e., pulling them apart from root to tip = bad), dryness, etc.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Healthy Skin Tips for 2011

{Image Source}
Do you want healthy skin in 2011?  Start with these tips:

1a. Eat healthily
The number one key to healthy skin is to eat healthy.  Great food choices include carrots (high in Vitamin A), green vegetables, oranges, etc.  If you are not getting sufficient nutrients from your meals, invest in a good multivitamin.  An antioxidant supplement couldn't hurt either.  (For more info: antioxidants and aging.)

1b. Eat less sweets
Research has shown that sweets (eg., chocolate, candy, cake, etc.) may contribute to acne.  From my own personal experience, I have seen this to be true with my skin.  For the new year, replace sweets with granola bars, peanut butter on wheat sandwiches, and fruits.  (For more info: sugar and acne, article on sugar and acne.)

2. Drink sufficient water
Water helps to move nutrients throughout the body.

3a. Adhere to a skin care regimen
A skin care regimen is also essential for achieving healthy skin.  Wash daily and nightly.  Exfoliate regularly.  Invest in a good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.  (For more info: basic skin care regimen.)

3b. Wear sunscreen
Even though "black don't crack", it eventually will and will do so at a faster pace without UV protection.  Wear sunscreen containing a minimum SPF of 15.  (For more info: black skin and sunscreen.)

Label of the Day: Moisture

Here are some posts on "Moisture" in case you've missed them:

1. Winterize Your Washes!
2. Winterize Your Conditioner!
3. Retaining The Hair You Grow: Chapter 6
4. Reader's Question: More on Moisture ... Dry Ends
5. Oils, Aloe Vera, and Whipped Butter
6. Whipped Hair Butter Recipes Galore!
7. Retaining the Hair You Grow: Chapter 7
8. Grapeseed Oil, Linoleic Acid, & Body Butter Mix
9. Reader's Question: When Shea Butter Doesn't Work
10. Moisturizing Spritz Recipes

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chemically Highlight Natural Hair?

{Jordin Sparks}
In late November, I chemically highlighted my hair for the first time since going natural.  After approximately seven weeks, my hair is doing just fine.  How do you know if chemical highlighting is for you?  Well, for one, I DO NOT recommend it unless you have thoroughly contemplated and researched the process, alternatives, and consequences.  Here are some questions worth considering before taking the plunge:

Read this previous post on the chemical process and potential damage from misuse.  Do your own research as well.

Why do you want chemical highlights?  Can the color you are seeking be achieved by healthier, more natural means (e.g., henna, honey, cinnamon)? What about temporary alternatives (e.g., color extensions)?

If your hair is damaged and weak, I recommend staying away from chemical highlights.  If your hair is healthy, are you willing to suffer any setbacks or consequences that may come with highlighting?  Split ends? Increased porosity?

Do you plan to henna after highlighting? Have you hennaed and now plan to chemically highlight?  If so, there are some factors (e.g., length of time between dye job and henna treatment, quality of henna used, etc.) you should consider.  Read this link and do further research.

Stay tuned for a post on PRECAUTIONS, MAINTENANCE, ETC.
{Highlights achieved with a semi-permanent commercial dye.}
WHY I DID IT: I'm an artist at heart, and one of the ways I express myself is through my hair.  I was an avid highlighter before going natural but played it safe after the big chop through now in order to achieve certain health and length goals.  Now that I'm at a comfortable length, I am willing to take a risk and return to highlighting.  The color I chose is a dramatic, loud red versus the subtle, deep red that henna produces.

Twist Series: Growth & Length Retention I

TRIMMING.  More answers to your "Growth & Length Retention" questions coming soon ...
  • thanks for being so charitable as to provide this info for us thirsty readers! here's my query: since taking down my 10 year old locs, i have "dusted" my ends but not gone for a professional trim. i've worn my hair in some form of natural for 15 years now, but this is my first time really on a "length" journey, so i'm trying to familiarize myself with all the new products, info, and various strategies. As such, I am wondering how crucial regular trimming has been for you.

Regular trimming is very crucial for length retention because it removes damaged ends (e.g, split ends, single-strand knots, etc.).  However, how you trim can determine whether you are actually retaining length or cutting away progress.  I only trim my ends when needed as opposed to following a set schedule.  For more details, on trimming for length retention, here is a repost:


Freeze! Drop the scissors! Put your hands up! Stop cutting!

Excessive trimming can hinder length retention. If your hair grows six inches a year and you trim half an inch every month, then you are essentially cutting off all your growth progress. In order to retain length, you have to (1) be healthy from the inside out, (2) treat your hair right, and (3) pick up the scissors only when necessary. There is a time to trim that is not dictated by the calendar on the wall but by the health of the ends of your hair.

{May 2009}
TO THE RIGHT: A photo of hair that has not been trimmed in over a year. The ends are not blunt, but they are also not damaged. Trimming for style is your choice, but if you want maximum length retention, then only trim when needed -- when the ends are damaged.

Healthy ends are free from splits and other damage. Splits are an indicator of damage to the cuticle and come in all shapes and sizes. Some occur at the very ends of the hair while others form in the middle of a strand. The hair may be appear to be split into two pieces or more. It is a myth that split ends can be repaired; some products may temporarily make them less visible, but splits cannot "heal" themselves and will exist until cut off. If you are taking great care of your hair, you will see fewer splits. Fewer splits = healthier hair. Healthier hair = fewer trims.

Even if you've determined that your ends are damaged, a full-on trim may not be required. Search and destroy is a method for only cutting the strands that have splits or other visible damage. Dusting is a method of trimming a very small fraction of hair -- about 1/4 of an inch or less. Search and destroy and dusting are ideal for hair that exhibits a small amount of damaged ends. A full-on trim is needed when a large portion of the hair's ends are damaged.

MINIMIZING SPLIT ENDS (great article btw)


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