5 Popular Natural Hair Methods that DON’T work for my hair

Journeys are about growth, exploration, and all the experiences that come with them. My hair journey is no different. It has been an amazingly fun ride with ups and downs, but what is most important, is that I’m able to learn my hair along the way.

Each of our hair is different (even within a hair-type!), so I think it’s completely okay that what works for someone else completely does not work for me, and vice versa.

So here’s what I learned definitely DOES NOT work for me. Enjoy 🙂

1. Pineapple method – a nighttime routine many naturals use to keep volume and definition of twist outs. You typically pull hair into a loose ponytail on top of your head, and in the morning, fluff it out.

Why not for me?: I don’t know what the technical term is or what the culprit is (lack of moisture, protein, etc.), but my hair stays in WHATEVER form I put it in (especially if in that style over night). So pulling my hair into a loose ponytail on top of my head just leads to wild hair in the morning that won’t lay downward (think Don King!). Maybe with more length this will work better for me???

What I do instead: I’ve resorted to just sleeping with a bonnet when I want to maintain a twist out. I pull my sides back (like Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn, haha!), but I don’t secure it with a ponytail or anything. In the morning, fluffing works out much better for me.

2. Dry detangling – This label can be misleading. I am not referring to detangling without any type of product ( I definitely detangle with product), but detangling without any water is another story. In other words. I need water to detangle these tresses!

Why not for me?: My hair is tightly, tightly, tightly, coiled, and it catches on itself ALL OF THE TIME. Because it’s always tangling, not only do I need product to help the strands slide past each other, I need wet hair that is a little more elastic and can hold a little more weight. There are debates about whether your hair is stronger wet or dry, but I know my hair responds as if it is stronger when wet.

What I do instead: I only detangle on wet hair and under the water stream. It’s almost as if the water pressure helps to push my hair downward, keeping it from re-tangling (totally not scientific…I made that up!)

3. Wash and go Just like it sounds, many naturals wash their hair, apply product and typically finish with minimal manipulation/styling. Some of the best wash and gos I’ve seen incorporate some type of finger-combing with a light, natural gel for best results. I tried it…once.

Why not for me?: This is one of the styles I dreamed about doing when I was transitioning. I tried it early on after becoming completely natural and…well, it was a hot mess. I tried the finger-combing method described above because that was recommended for 4c hair. 1. It took me an hour to do a small section in the back of my head because my hair is so thick. 2. It still just looked like an afro with very little to no definition. Nothing against afros of course. I love ’em, it’s just not the look I was going for then. I decided the effort was not worth, and moved on, sadly.

What I do instead: At the very least, I dry in twists. That’s as close to washing and going I’m going to get. I do love the idea of it though. It’s a hair fantasy for me 🙂 But I have learned that my hair loves me more when I keep it in stretched styles. This really helps my detangling sessions.

4. No-poo (shampoo): I actually really like this method in theory. I can definitely tell how shampoo strips my hair of its moisture. So I attempted a no-shampoo regimen for about a month. Yea, not a good look.

Why not for me?: I blame my scalp issues mainly. I have a scalp condition that requires my scalp be cleaned with a medicated shampoo as to not cause flare ups of scales, itching, and burning (sorry if TMI). This is probably exaggerated by my “6 days a week” work out schedule. All of that sweat can’t possibly help, right?

What I do instead: I’ve been sticking to my doctor recommended weekly washes with shampoo, and it seems to be keeping my scalp condition under control. I’m thinking about trying a “week 1, shampoo”, “week 2, cowash” routine. I used to do this while transitioning. We’ll see how that goes.

5. The Denman – I think this was the most talked about tool when I was transitioning. Everyone was detangling with the Denman. My girl from back home made it looks so easy, and her hair texture is pretty close to mine. So I tried it…kind of.

Why not for me?: I actually didn’t get far with the Denman. I tried detangling from the ends to the root and got about 4 strokes in before I couldn’t take it anymore. There were just so many bristles, so close together, raking through my hair and pulling my sensitive strands out. The sound alone made me cringe, haha. I caved and went back to my wide-toothed comb.

What I do instead: Some naturals manually tweak their Denman so there aren’t as many bristles. Completely makes sense. For me, I just need as few bristles/teeth as possible. Again, this is because of tightly coiled my hair is, and how it’s just so attracted to itself that it tangles every chance it gets. That’s why I stick with the wide-toothed comb. I’d do 100% finger detangling if I had the patience, but until then, I’m sticking by my comb.

That’s all I have! I look forward to the other experiences and lessons to learn throughout the future of my hair journey.

Until then,

~TS

Year in Review: relaxed, Transitioning, NATURAL :)

Has it been a year already? Funny how time flies. My last relaxer was 9/17/11, and I fully became natural 11 months later. Call me a long-term transitioner who didn’t last that long 🙂

WHAT I LOVE MOST:

1. Only one texture, and it’s so much livelier (& of course healthier) than when it was relaxed or in-transition. Plus, detangling is much easier with ONE texture.
2. Natural up-dos are FIERCE! They last all day, and I’m telling you, I feel grown with something as simple as an afro puff. I can’t wait for my hair to get even larger and more bold 🙂
3. Styles last more than one day! Wash days may be a monster lol, but keeping it moisturized, and styled throughout the week takes 5 minutes! I’m starting a “twists throughout the week, twist-out on weekends” hair diet, so we’ll see how that works.

TOP FRUSTRATIONS:

1. Back at square one: After 11 months of transitioning, I was able to tell when my hair was responding well, and when it need some extra TLC. Now, I feel like I’m starting all over. For example, I feel like I’m seeing too much hair in the comb and on the shower floor after each wash session. I know 4b/c hair is more prone to breakage, so I’m trying to be cautious, but only time will tell.
2. Stubborn hair type: I am 4b/c, so I have some of the tightest coils, and it’s REALLY difficult to get any type of curl definition. That is my next mission, bring out more of my curl definition.
3. Tangles and knots: I have less overall, but the ones I do come across are definitely more stubborn than when I was transitioning! I could more easily “unravel” a knot when transitioning, but in my 6 weeks of being completely natural, my hair locks up tighter and it takes more to time to delicately loosen.

Enough of the boring stuff 🙂 I love SEEING progress, so below is my journey over the past 12 months. It’s a bit self-indulgent lol, but I hope it inspires or helps someone!

Last relaxer 9/17/11

9/17/11

Curlformers done about a week later 9/23/11

Curlformers pinned back 9/23/11

4 months post-relaxer: quickly became a fan of the flat-twist out! Jan. 2012

9 months post-relaxer: Flat twist out again! At this point I was cutting ~1-2 inches every couple of months. Cutting away the relaxed ends led to tighter, bouncier curls! June 2012

9 months post-relaxer: Wanted to be more protective of my hair, so I pinned it all back. June 2012

10 months post-relaxer: Realized separating my twist outs more led to even bigger hair! I loved this phase 🙂 July 2012

10 months post-relaxer: Hair was pulled back and tucked. July 2012

The “big chop”: I stuck with what I knew, flat twist out! There were still some relaxed stray hairs that I got rid of later on. August 2012

Freedom lol. This was somewhat stretched from the flat twist out shown before, but I had to capture my hair in its raw form! August 2012

Normal twist out: August 2012

I actually wore the twists out one night when I didn’t have enough time to let it dry. Kind of liked it 😉 Aug. 2012

I can’t seem to repeat this level of definition from a twist out. I should have documented what products I used! I’m thinking this was when I tried Kinky Curly Knot Today. Aug. 2012

Twist out. Seeing a theme lol? Sept. 2012

One of my favorites! The afro puff 🙂 Sept 2012

This week I put in smaller twists, pinned them back, and added a bear-claw clip. Very convenient, and I got a few compliments 🙂 Sept. 2012

Sept. 2012

~TS

In Love with my Hair (top 3 things since being fully natural)

 

My first week since my mini big chop has been an emotional roller-coaster. It started out with fear of simply not knowing what to expect, or what styles would look good. I was also a little concerned about what others would think (still something I’m trying to get away from, trust me!) Then it quickly turned to excitement at the sight of my new look. There were also little bouts of insecurity sprinkled in there, but overall, I feel good 🙂 So I think it is worth talking about the top 3 things I love since becoming fully natural.

1. TEXTURE, TEXTURE, TEXTURE!

I have fallen in love with my hair! The first thing I noticed when I cut off my relaxed ends was how soft my hair was. I never remembered it being that soft when I was transitioning. I just couldn’t keep my hands out of it. I then loved the “bounce back” lol. Most ladies call it shrinkage. I can’t stop pulling on my twists and watching them bounce back in such a healthy way.

I LOVE being able to twist it without having to secure my ends. And I have been waiting so long to be able to wash in twists. It is everything I imagined (so much easier!).

2. Detangling (whaaat?)

Yes, I said detangling! My wash process, as a whole, took a bit longer than it did when I was transitioning, but it was still a lot easier. I was able to stroke a wide-toothed comb through my hair for the first time since around March or so. I had a few knots, but not many. It just overall felt so much stronger than when I was transitioning. I’ve heard many ladies talking about their hair coming alive when they shopped off their straight ends, but I honestly didn’t believe it until now.

3. Short & Sexy Styles

It took a couple of days to get used to shorter hair (my shrinkage is a mother!), but once I got the hang of it, threw on my make-up, and dangling earrings, I was on! I felt a new wave of confidence. I felt like a model lol. I still haven’t had a chance to look at my options for shorter styles, but below is what I was working with this week.

Before, I go, I would be lying if I acted like this week was perfect (although it felt pretty close!). If there was anything that was keeping me up at night, it would be my poofy ends. They got a little better throughout the week as I moisturized and sealed, but they are hard to twist sometimes because they poof out quite a bit. I even did one more trim mid week just in case I didn’t get all of the straight ends initially. I will continue to monitor these. But other than that, I’m honestly really happy with my decision :).

~TS

 

I “Big” Chopped!!

Yes, I actually did it. 8/4/12. I don’t even think I believe it just yet. I wish I could say it was this big, anticipated, planned-for event, but it wasn’t. It was supposed to be a normal wash day. But what had happened was…:)

During my detangling and pre-poo session, I noticed a lot of hair breakage (or shedding). It could have been because I had my hair in a protective style all week, and so the strands that would usually shed were caught up during the week. It also could have just been more tangled over all because it wasn’t detangled throughout the week (again because of the protective style. Whatever the reason, I was over it. So while the Olive Oil was sitting on my hair I decided to trim. Honestly, that’s all I planned to do.

Once I was done washing and conditioning I sat there staring in the mirror at these stringy straight strands over my healthy “puffed”, natural hair. I had been trimming a significant amount of inches (at least 2-3) every 3-4 months since January ’12, so it really didn’t look like a lot of relaxed ends were left. So I thought to myself, “maybe I should just chop one section to see what it would be like without these relaxed ends weighing it down.” And that’s how it began.

I cut the front right side, loved how soft it felt and uninhibited it felt, and just kept going…getting more and more nervous as I continued (probably because I told my boyfriend I’d completely transition out and wouldn’t chop my hair lol).

Throughout the cutting process, I really felt liberated. From what I’ve read, most ladies experience this. I loved how soft my natural hair felt, and it really felt free to take it’s real shape and form. By the time I finished the last section, my right side had already shrank lol, and that’s when it hit me. I had really big chopped.

I sat there staring at my afro, I wanted to cry for like 2 seconds, then I thought, “I kind of like it”. I finally let me boyfriend see and his first words were, “I thought it would be a lot shorter. It’s cute”. Phew!

I shocked myself because I’m really not the impulse type. This whole blog is supposed to be on my long-term transition. I guess one year is enough (it actually would’ve been 1 year next month). Oh well, I’m free. My hair is free. And now it is time to continue my journey…100% natural 🙂

This style below is from my flat twist out. I’m excited about experimenting with styles! Oh, and I promise I have clothes on, it’s just a tube top so I looked naked (sorry)!

Looks like about 5-6 inches???

Quickly pinned it up! I wasn’t too comfortable with the shorter look…I’ll give myself some time 🙂

Afro pictures to come later! (I was too much in shock to take them during the process :))

~TS

Breakage: Bare Sides Exposed!

I promised that if you read this blog, you’d experience the good and the bad of a transition. I definitely have my moments where I think to myself, “What am I doing? I am not capable of caring for such a demanding texture of hair!” Lately, I have been on a natural hair high, but this week brought me back down again.

Breakage has always been my ultimate fear as I transition, and I believe it’s why a lot of ladies just decide to chop it off. Even the most care can result in breakage simply because of the constant battle between the two textures. Well today I feel like I’m losing that battle.

A while back I posted on the top 5 frustrations of a transition, and of course breakage was the number one culprit. To illustrate, I described a situation in which the right side of my head where the hair just seemed to constantly break off. My right side is just not as full as the left side of my hair.

There are many reasons for this. Back when I used to get relaxers every 6 weeks, I always started on my right side. So not only was my right side getting relaxed too soon like the rest of my head, but it suffered from having the relaxer on the longest…and this happened every 6 weeks for 9 years. I shouldn’t be shocked that it’s thinner than the other areas on my head, but for a minute it looked like it was growing back (thus, the optimism in the Top 5 Frustrations post).

But this past week when I took a look at it, it looked very thin, and that freaked me out again. I like to be completely transparent, so the pics are below. You’ll see that for a moment it looks like it’s growing, then the most recent pics, it looks like it’s thinning again.

4/23/11 – This was 7 weeks post-relaxer. You can see how much thinner the sides are pretty much until you get above my ear. I can’t believe I never noticed this!

 

2/6/12 – 5 months post-relaxer. This was actually when I started noticing

5/31/12 – 8 months post-relaxer. I really tried to take a picture of the same exact section, and it definitely looks like it is growing in healthy and thick. I was happy!

7/23/12 – 10 months post-relaxer. Alright, it’s obviously longer, but it looks so much thinner. Back to being sad again 😦

Now, I will admit that the picture from this past week is on very dry hair. I’m trying to adjust to my new job that has, so far, been very demanding. I haven’t been able to wash/co-wash as often as I used to (2x/week) and my hair is definitely noticing the neglect. To combat the dryness I tried misting/sealing nightly, but apparently it’s not working lol. So, I now mist every few days (still sealing every night). I’ve also gone to a more protective style that has so far lasted me about 3 days. Hopefully the protective style will prevent me from twisting each night. The less manipulation of my sides, the better.

My plan is to focus on keeping my hair hydrated, and more protective styling manipulation (which means less of my twist outs that I love so much). Hopefully you’ll see a happy post soon on how they’re growing in so much thicker! Until then, the transition continues…

~TS

Slowly Turning into a Product Junkie

 

Alright, so I feel kind of bad because since my transition, I have said over and over that I am not a product junkie. For the longest time I stuck with the products that worked for me. I even started a personal product challenge to force myself to try new products that would work better on my hair since it has changed quite a bit since my transition. However, recently a few things have happened that have let me know I may drifting down the path of a PJ.

1. When I moved from Wisconsin to Chicago, I threw away two bags full of products that I only used once, or hadn’t used at all.

2. My boyfriend looks in my bathroom and says it looks like I have an entire hair store!

3. Today, I go to Target for a few essentials and leave with Kinky Curly Knot Today.

I had to buy it :). I’ve been hearing so many good things about it. It seems to be everyone’s staple. And! (the reason that makes me feel so much better) One of my toughest issues is still detangling. It has gotten a lot better, but it’s still an issue I can focus on, and I am hoping Kinky Curly Knot Today can help.

So, I promise all of my posts will not turn into product reviews (but I am in an experimenting phase, so bear with me!), but I do plan to use it for 3-4 weeks then get back to you with a review.

In the meantime, have a great week!

~TS

 

Product Review: Olive Oil (as a detangler)

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been searching for a detangler I can use as a pre-poo/detangler on wash days. I started out with Herbal Essence Hello Hydration, one of my staples for co-washing. But it felt too heavy for my pre-poo and it seemed as if a lot of hair came out as I detangled.

I then tried Vatika Coconut Oil because it is a known light oil that many people use to pre-poo/detangle. For me, it was too light, and it was almost like detangling with no product on my hair.

So I then reluctantly tried Olive Oil. I was reluctant because I thought it would also be too light, and I figured I would have to go back to a heavy conditioner to get the job done. So here are the results.

Straight to the point:

I think I’ve found a winner! I used Winona Pure 100% Olive Oil, and the oil was heavy enough to give me a little slip (not as much as I’d have with a conditioner of course), but it didn’t weigh too heavily on my hair and cause breakage/excessive shedding. I bought this particular brand because it was in a very convenient spray bottle (I’ve been trying to tell you I’m lazy!), so the oil did not get everywhere. I found this at Walmart, so I’m pretty sure you can find it anywhere.

I will say that after leaving the olive oil on for 30 minutes, my hair is not as soft as it was when I pre-poo’d with Vatika coconut oil. However, I don’t mind as much because I still deep condition with a heavier conditioner once I wash my hair.

So, my Winona Pure Olive Oil is definitely a keeper.

Next week sneak peek! I’ve been using Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose Conditioner as a deep conditioner and I will give a quick product review next week (after I move into my new place in Chicago!!! Yay :))

~TS