My Own Product Challenge

I am the opposite of a product junkie. If I find something that works (or is good enough), I stick with it until it’s discontinued. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but I am starting to feel like I’m missing out on products that can perform better. Plus, my hair’s needs (and texture) are still changing since I’m only 7 1/2 months into my transition to fully natural hair. It’s time to start venturing out and trying more products, so that I am able to adjust as my hair adjusts.

I’m pretty risk averse, so exploring products is a daunting task for me (I’m not a fan of the error part in “trial and error” lol). I need a system where I can easily track changes to my hair and the impact the different products may have. So to help myself through this, I plan to do the following:

1. First I will document the products I use now, the effects they have on my hair, and why I love/don’t care for them.

2. I will alter one product within my regimen at a time, and will try to use it for at least one month to give it time to work (hopefully I can report out results on a monthly basis).

3. I need some type of goal for this challenge. I’m not trying to maintain length because I still have relaxed ends that I cut off every couple of months. So instead, I’m going for less breakage (as a result of more moisturized and more manageable hair).

My current regimen:

Every 4-6 weeks

  • Finger-detangle (Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner)
  • Clarify wash (Paul Mitchell Shampoo 3)
  • Light protein condition (Aphogee 2-Minute Reconstructor)
  • Deep condition under hooded dryer (KeraCare Humecto Cream Conditioner)
  • Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as leave-in
  • Shea Moisture Reconstructive Elixir (for shine), then style.

Weekly (weekend)

  • Finger-detangle (Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner)
  • Sulfate-free wash (Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo)
  • Light protein condition (Aphogee 2-Minute Reconstructor) – I use this if my hair has become limp since my last clarifying wash. If limp, I typically need more protein. However, if my hair still feels strong from my clarifying/protein treatment I will deep condition with KeraCare Humecto Creme Conditioner.
  • Chi Keratin Mist and Cantu Shea Butter as leave-in – Again, this is protein heavy, so if my hair has too much protein, I will use Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie instead of the Chi Keratin Mist and Cantu Shea Butter (I’ve found that the Curl Smoothie leaves my hair feeling softer than the Cantu Shea Butter).
  • Shea Moisture Reconstructive Elixir (for shine), then style.

Weekly (mid-week)

  • Conditioner wash (Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner)
  • Light protein condition (Aphogee 2-Minute Reconstructor)
  • Chi Keratin Mist and Cantu Shea Butter as leave-in – or – Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie (depending on how my hair feels).
  • Shea Moisture Reconstructive Elixir (for shine), then style.

Daily

  • Seal with Cantu Shea Butter and Shea Moisture Reconstructive Elixir, then style.

Just an FYI, I don’t really like mixing my own concoctions. I just don’t trust myself lol. So I’m sure most products I try will be manufactured and available at most stores (or at least online). I plan to start with products used by those with similar textures (and positive results of course :)). I need to research this week still, so I plan to buy my first product next weekend.

So there you have it! I’m really excited about what I can learn from this challenge. Stay tuned for more updates!

~TS

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Versatility

I’m going to keep this one short. One of the many reasons why I’m transitioning from relaxed to natural is versatility. You can do so much with natural hair. I’ve seen several blog posts and YouTube tutorials on how to do several amazing styles. Some are really creative, and original. Others are simple twists on traditional styles. So I feel like it’s time for me to pay homage to versatility…in my own simple way 🙂

Because of the two textures and my limited styling ability (okay, mainly my limited styling ability lol), I do the same exact style at night before I go to bed. I make about 9 flat twists, curl the ends with rollers, then hit the sack. In the mornings I wake up, untwist and go. But every morning, my hair looks a little different! It’s really kind of amazing. I feel like I should thank my hair for making me look like I’m trying out different styles on purpose 🙂 Take a look! (again, same exact style, just fluffed different ways).

Mar. 22

Apr. 17 (morning)

Apr. 17 (afternoon)

Apr. 18

Apr. 21

So here’s to the wonderful versatility of natural hair! Journey on 🙂

~TS

Wedding Hair Worries, Calmed

So for the past few months, I was really worried about what my hair would look like for my best friend’s wedding on April 7th. I was worried because I am transitioning from chemically relaxed to natural hair, and I’m still learning a lot about my hair and how it responds to certain styles, products, etc.

Because I’m still learning a lot, I wanted to be more sure for the wedding. So I wanted go to a natural stylist. I figured she/he could do a twist out or some type of curly style (roller/flexi-rod set), so my hair could look professionally done. I wanted to set up a consultation first, so they could take a look at my hair and recommend styles.

First, I must admit that I started this whole “find a stylist” process way too late lol. I started calling salons a month before the wedding. I didn’t set up a consultation until a week before the wedding (I know!). The tight timing is partly because I called several salons in Chicago, but over the course of a few weeks, only two called me back. Soul Salon & Spa looked the best (given the website), so I set up a consultation with them. I walked in the day of my appointment, told them I was there for a consultation, and they all looked at me crazy (all beefcake guys by the way lol). I guess they didn’t take note of my appointment. So then one of the stylists calls me over while he’s doing someone’s hair, and asks what I need. I repeat that I’m there for a consultation and I have a wedding in a week and I need help with styles. He has me take my hair down and says “oh your hair isn’t damaged, we can do whatever.” I’m like “okay, sounds great, but I still don’t know what my options are.” He’s like “pick a style, and I can do it”. They didn’t have magazines or a catalogues, so I sit there on my phone and search for “natural, wedding up-dos”, or “natural wedding styles”…whatever I could think of at the time lol. I struggled because it’s hard for me to envision what MY hair will look like in a certain style (given my length and texture), that’s where I thought the stylist could help. After getting tired of sitting there on my phone, I finally picked a random style. The woman’s texture was nothing like mine lol but he says, “cool, I can do that”. I told him “okay”, but felt very nervous!

Style I chose after getting tired of sitting there searching

After all of that, I punked out, cancelled my appointment, and decided I was doing my own hair. I just kept thinking back to that salon, and how I was watching him add all that heat to his client’s hair, and I’m like “no thank you”. So Plan B was my handy-dandy Curlformers that have given me that professional look when I need it. I can usually set my hair in Curlformers and have a cute style for the next few days, at least. So that was my plan. I set my hair on a Thursday night, drove to Michigan for the rehearsal dinner on Friday with my spirals bouncing, and woke up on Saturday (the day of the wedding) to beautiful spirals? No, I woke up to a hot mess lol.

Almost all of my curls fell out, and my hair felt really dry. Now I haven’t been conditioner-washing like I used to (just got back to it this week), so my hair was probably yearning for moisture. But I’m also thinking I got used to how Curlformers performed on my relaxed hair (the last time I used them before the wedding, I was only 3 months post-relaxer. Maybe it just behaves differently when more of my hair is natural?). Whatever the reason, it was now the morning of the wedding and my hair looked a mess. I tried re-curlforming that morning to see if I could tighten the curls, but because it didn’t have enough time to set, it ended up straightening the few curls I had left. I was frantic! I ended up swooping it all to my left side (since that happened to be the curlier side) and pinned it in place. I ran it by the bride to make sure she approved, and she gave a huge smile and said she liked it! So relieved.

I don’t have good pictures of my hair because I was really frantic that day and didn’t have my phone the majority of the time, but hopefully you can kind of see the style from these pics below (sorry they’re so small!).

~TS

Lessons Learned: Tangles, Knots, and Too Much Protein!

My journey may not be perfect, but I am determined to learn all I can from my mistakes. I let my regimen slip due to a couple of busy weeks and…well, I’ll let you read on 🙂

The changes

Normally, I’m able to workout about 3 times per week. I don’t like the thought of sweating that much and only washing once that week, so I typically add a conditioner-wash mid-week or so (with Herbal Essence Hello Hydration). Well, as much as it kills me to say this, I haven’t had the time to workout the past couple of weeks, so I thought to myself, “if you’re not sweating, there’s no need for you to co-wash, you can just wash weekly”. I was actually excited about even less manipulation. I didn’t think this would set me back at all. It made perfectly logical sense, at the time.

In addition to not conditioner-washing, I decided to try to wear my Twist Out for a few days before re-twisting. I usually re-twist every night to make sure my curls are defined for each day. I’ve also began to use it as a disaster check for knots and stubborn tangles, so I’m not surprised on wash-day. But I wanted to give this lower-manipulation technique a shot. So over the past week or so, I would twist at night before bed, and not re-twist for another 2-3 days.

Let’s add another factor :). I also decided to clarify+hard protein this week. I started clarifying, then doing hard protein treatments back when I was stretching my relaxers, and for some reason I haven’t changed my products (bad idea). So I’m using Paul Mitchell’s Shampoo Three as my clarifying shampoo and usually KeraCare’s Super Reconstructor, but I ran out so I had to use Joico K-Pak Reconstructor. It’s usually a rough wash-day when I clarify because my hair is getting stripped of a lot of moisture (which I try to put back in with a nice deep condition), but the next day my hair usually feels amazingly clean, bouncy, and vibrant. Usually by the time I conditioner-wash (which is again typically 2-3 days after I shampoo-wash), my hair is soft and manageable like it was before the clarifying/protein treatment.

The results

So with those three changes in my regimen, I seemed to have created the perfect storm for a wash-day disaster. The week that I clarified was business as usual. The wash-day was a struggle, but the next couple of days I noticed the benefits listed above. It wasn’t until day 3 that my scalp began to itch like crazy, and my hair really seemed to dry out. So I was super excited to shampoo-wash and relieve my scalp of the madness. I washed with Shea Moisture shampoo and used the Aphogee 2-Minute reconstructor. You’re probably wondering, why in the world did you do the 2-minute reconstructor after doing a hard-protein treatment just 7 days before? Well, I did it out of habit, lol. I usually need the protein at this point in the week because I’ve conditioner-washed with a moisturizing conditioner a few days before (too much moisture leaves my hair limp so I like to make sure I’m balancing moisture and protein). The Aphogee Two-Minute Reconstructor was a bad idea because since I hadn’t conditioner-washed, my hair didn’t get the moisture it usually gets. So, I ended up overloading my hair with protein (in addition to having too strong of a clarifying shampoo) and my hair surely suffered the consequences. It was a tangled, hard, stiff mess! I mean, there were so many knots in my hair, my first thought was to start cutting away! It took me FOREVER to detangle, and I’ll be honest, I lost most patience and started to tear through just so I could get to bed at a decent hour.

Lessons learned

1. If I don’t conditioner-wash with my moisturizing conditioner, I HAVE to take the time to deep condition on my shampoo-wash day. My hair needs that moisture one way or another.

2. I need to re-twist every night. As stated above, it allows me the time to keep my knots/tangles under control. It may be more manipulation but it’s especially important for me since I primarily finger-detangle.

3. I think it’s time for a softer clarifying shampoo. I’ll start researching. I also, don’t know that I need a hard protein treatment. I saw the need when most of my hair was relaxed, but now that I’m transitioning, my hair isn’t lacking the protein it was six months ago (I’m still thinking on this one).

So there you have it. More lessons learned from trial and error 🙂

~TS

Clarifying and Hard Protein Treatments: I first learned about clarifying and hard protein treatments from Gennifer of Healthy Textures. It was in the context of stretching your relaxers. For those who are unaware: Clarifying relieves your hair of product build-up if you don’t wash often, typically wash with Sulfate-Free shampoos, or if you swim or have hard-water (among other reasons). The hard protein treatment is intended to make the hair stronger by restoring/strengthening the protein bonds within the hair fiber. It’s especially helpful for those with relaxed hair as the chemicals in the relaxer strip the hair of its proteins. It makes sense to do the two together since protein treatments work best on clean hair and you need it to penetrate deeply (as with most other treatments). I typically do this every 4-6 weeks.