Battling Dry/Itchy Scalp

I have definitely had my share of dry and itchy scalp since transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. In my experience, itchy scalp has been caused by dry scalp and/or product/dirt build-up. So there are 4 things I focus on to combat it, and I thought it would be helpful to share.

1. Shampoo-wash weekly (sulfate-free) – Focusing on my scalp. I strongly believe a clean scalp is one of the most important attributing factors to a healthy head of hair. This is why I personally struggle with methods that prolong time between shampoo-washes, or completely get rid of them altogether. If it works for you, awesome! But I know my scalp needs the actual cleansing agents in shampoos.

2. Misting scalp with water throughout the week – This is especially important for me as I workout 3 times per week. Having the salt/sweat build up on my scalp makes for some itchy days!

3. When conditioner-washing, keep the conditioner from touching the scalp – On shampoo wash days, I focus on my scalp. On conditioner-wash days, I focus on the length of my hair. It sounds small, but makes a huge difference. Conditioners have a lot of ingredients that coat (& condition) the hair but are not necessarily good for the scalp.

4. Keep your body hydrated – Of course staying hydrated internally will keep your scalp from getting dry.

Others have had success with oiling their scalp with light oils that serve less as barriers and are able to penetrate. Jojoba, Castor, and Olive oil are a few oils of choice. This method is especially good if your scalp does not produce enough of its natural oil.

So I am noticing that itchiness is becoming a problem for me again since the weather has gotten warmer. I imagine it is because of #2 and #4 above. When it’s over 90 degrees outside, you can start sweating just from walking from the parking lot into a building. I imagine my scalp is not as clean as it was in the cooler months. There is also a greater chance of getting dehydrated in the summer, so I do plan on increasing my water intake.

I hope this helps. Itchy scalp probably frustrates me the most (after tangles and knots)! 🙂

How do you combat dry and/or itchy scalp?

~TS

Transitioner’s Struggle: Hydration vs. Low Manipulation

I felt like I found my groove for a minute. I don’t have the most versatile styling regimen, but it definitely works for me. It’s simple, a twist out (with the ends set on rollers, or pin-curled). However, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately (check out Blog Lovin, it’s a great way to get all of your blogs in one place for an easy read!), particularly on how to retain length, or keep a healthy head of hair. What I’ve read simplifies to hydrating the hair and low manipulation styling. But as a transitioner, I feel like it’s hard to do one without giving on the other.

Just to make sure every knows what I’m talking about:

1. Keep the hair moisturized (hydrating) – This can only be done with water (makes sense right?), but washing often is frowned upon because wetting and drying the hair causes the hair shaft to expand and contract. It is believed that, over time, this can be too much for our hair and can cause damage, splitting, etc. So many ladies stretch their washes, and mist their hair and seal with butters/oils to keep it moisturized between washes.

2. Low manipulation styling – Simply put, keeping your hands out of your hair means less chance of breakage. Keeping the ends tucked away preserves them from the daily damaging elements.

There are a lot more things that are done to retain length (staying away from heat, deep conditioning weekly, keeping split ends and single strand knots at bay), but the two above are arguably the cornerstones of a healthy regimen.

Seems simple right? I don’t know why I struggle so much, then! 🙂

My styling limitations

1. I’ve been transitioning for about 9 months now. Before that I wore my bone-straight hair either in a wrap or a pony-tail, so I’ve never been the creative stylist. But after learning to flat twist, I haven’t turned back.

2. I am not too into extensions. Trust me, I have nothing against them, but I have never really liked them on me. I’ve always liked wearing my own hair.

3. Having transitioned for 9 months, I have about 4-4.5 inches of new growth and still plenty of relaxed ends left. So blending the two textures is my best bet at looking decent for work. Thus, twist outs, bantu knot-outs, etc. have been my go-tos.

6-7 flat twists the night before. I either set the ends on rollers or pin curl them with pins. Takes ~30 mins!

I love my twist out, but I can’t maintain it without re-twisting, every night. Especially if I’m misting my hair to hydrate it. I mist my hair and the relaxed ends straighten out and the style is ruined. So then I have to re-twist, but I’m pretty sure re-twisting every night is high manipulation lol. So I feel stuck.

If I had to choose one, I choose to hydrate my hair and manipulate every day until I can figure out styles that are low manipulation. I tried the reverse this past week and it didn’t go well (didn’t mist the hair because I tried to have my twist out last a few days). Yea, dry hair is not happy hair!

So there’s my dilemma. I’m probably making it more difficult than need be because of my limited ability to style lol, but hey, I’ve only been at this for 9 months, right? 🙂

What do you do to keep your hair hydrated and keep low manipulation styling?

~TS

Building My Hair Book Library

In addition to the blogs, forums, and YouTube videos I follow, I love reading books. One of the many reasons why I decided to transition instead of big chop was because I wanted time to learn how to care for my hair in its natural state. I prefer to read and learn from others, than to do trial and error on my own hair (unavoidable, I know :)). Unfortunately, I’ve only finished a couple of books because, well…I’ve been extremely busy, and now that I’m changing jobs and moving to a different state, I’m sure reading will fall low on my priority list once again. But I at least wanted to share a couple of books I found extremely helpful for two very different reason:

Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana Byrd & Lori Tharps

I can’t remember how I came across this book, but it was such an easy, quick read. At the risk of mentioning the obvious, it tells the story of African American hair. Just the fact that our hair had a story intrigued me enough to buy it. I won’t tell too much, but I will just say it does a great job of exposing the politics of our hair. And not just the obvious Black Power politics, but it explains the identity and symbolism of our hair starting with slavery all the way to the year 2000. It shifted my reason for transitioning from “I love the volume and versatility of natural styles” to “How dare I go through so much to alter how my hair comes naturally out of my head!” lol. But in all seriousness, even if you don’t want to be the next Angela Davis, it’s always great to know the history.

The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy

It took me a while to fully get through this one, but when people call it the hair bible, they are not lying! It is a very technical read, but so insightful. Audrey empowers every reader to take care of their own hair by giving in depth explanations of the hair fiber, how it grows, and how it reacts to different elements (heat, water, different pH levels, etc.). Once you understand the science behind the hair strand, she takes it a step further and discusses the chemical reactions that occur because of different ingredients within products (e.g. what ingredients serve as barriers for water and thus should not be used as moisturizers). You understand what ingredients you should stay away from, but most importantly, you know why. There is even a “Build your own Regimen” section where you have a list of products categorized by their role in your regimen (e.g. Moisturizing Conditioners, Protein Conditioners, Clarifying Shampoos, etc.). I think the best part of this book is that it is an objective, factual point of view that focuses on healthy hair however you choose to wear it. In my opinion it makes her very credible. Her chapters range from the best way to relax your hair to how to transition to natural. I still reference it every now and then. If you’re not into super technical reads, I believe she has a new book out, Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair & Reconditioning Manual. I haven’t read it, but I plan to!

The book I’m starting now is “Grow It: How To Grow Afro-Textured Hair To Maximum Lengths In The Shortest Time” by Chicoro. I am most interested in her personal hair story, but she also outlines a process I am curious about, so I will let you know how it is!

Thanks for listening 🙂

~TS

Product Review: Vatika Coconut Oil

Alright, a few weeks ago, I let you in on my mission to venture out and try new products. I’m venturing because I want to make sure I’m transitioning as my hair is transitions (making sure I am continuously meeting my hair’s needs). Check out my previous post for my rules, regimen, etc.

I decided to start with the detangling/pre-poo’ing part of my regimen. Before I gave Vatika Coconut Oil a shot, I used Herbal Essence Hello Hydration. This has become my absolute favorite for co-washing, but for pre-poo’ing it seems a bit heavy and I feel like my hair breaks more easily as a result. So I wanted something lighter that would still help me detangle. I did a quick blog research of ladies I follow and found that a lot them detangle and pre-poo with Vatika Coconut oil, so I gave it a try for 4 weeks (I like to give myself time to notice a change, but honestly I could have reviewed it after week 2).

Straight to the point

In short, I will not continue using Vatika Coconut Oil as a detangler or for a pre-poo. I love how light it feels, and I think my hair felt softer after letting it sit for 30 minutes, but I’m afraid my hair requires a bit more slip from my detangling/pre-poo’ing product.

The Details

I purchased Vatika Coconut Oil form Amazon.com for about $8 per bottle (it came with two bottles, didn’t even notice it when I purchased it! smh). If you’re not familiar with coconut oil, the consistency is really really really thick. I wonder if other ladies warm it up???…I didn’t (kind of lazy!). So I would squeeze a little bit out of the bottle, which was not made for squeezing! Rubbing it together causes it to feel more oily and it’s pretty easy to apply to the hair after that.

I typically part my hair in about 8-9 sections, add the coconut oil, detangle, then twist and pin up my hair. I then put on a shower cap for about 30 minutes.

Vatika Coconut Oil is definitely a light oil, and although I was looking for a lighter oil, I may have gone too light! It was almost like detangling on completely dry hair, and that’s just a frustrating process. My hair may be a bit too coarse for a light oil. I’m fine with that because a major objective of this journey is for me to understand what my hair needs.

For the record, I think Vatika Coconut Oil would work great for finer hair, or even all-natural hair (I cannot underestimate the challenge two textures brings to the table!). It could have also worked better if I had mixed it with creamier products, but I really don’t want to start concocting my own mixes lol. Maybe I’ll get there eventually 🙂

So the search is still on a for a light (but not too light) product I can use to detangle and pre-poo. For my next try I’m thinking Olive Oil (hoping it has a little more weight/slip than the coconut oil – not really an educated guess lol just a guess) or Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose Conditioner. I’ve been hearing great things about Aubrey Organics and really can’t wait to try it, but I’m afraid it will perform similarly to the Herbal Essence (too heavy for pre-poo but great for deep conditioning and co-washing). I’ll keep you posted on my search!

Oh, and PS – I hated the smell of the coconut oil. I must be really sensitive to smells because I didn’t like the smell of the Suave Shea + Almond conditioner either. Hmm, we’ll see if I find something!

~TS