Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fifteen weeks post and plans for the future

Friday marked the beginning of the 15th week of my stretch. I did a 6 month stretch earlier this year which ended in July and while I didn't have any major issues with my line of demarcation, my problem was I did not retain any length due to my cone overload.

I have decided to stretch for another 6 months. I was originally scheduled to texlax in October but based on the fact that I was not happy with the condition of my hair I did not want to tempt fate and put a relaxer in my hair. I decided to keep stretching and my 15th week came by without me even realising it. Now that I have sorted things out and my hair is doing a lot better, I have decided to keep the stretch going. What I have noticed is that deep conditioning my hair three times a week has really helped my new growth keep soft and manageable and, most importantly, well moisturised.

I am not expecting any major change in length when I do finally texlax in December for Christmas, crossing my fingers for a little less than an inch. I am hoping for a visible change in April 2012 which will be six months from my trim in October which is the starting point of my new hair journey. My growth is a little below average so I am hoping to grow and retain about 2 1/2 inches.

My next update will be in December when I texlax and flat iron. From January 2012 I will be doing length checks every other month. This would mean I will be flat ironing my hair every other month and posting pics. This way I will be able to determine if I am gaining inches or losing. I don't usually flat iron, but I suppose 6 times a year is not too terrible and I only ever do it after I have used a protein based deep conditioner.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning more about cones

I have been doing a lot of research on "cones." I have realised that my hair is sensitive to dimethicone which is apparently a very resistant cone. Unfortunately I had been using products full of this cone all through 2011 which is why my hair began to break off. I was deep conditioning and moisturising and sealing and still was not retaining my length. If you do use products with dimethicone then it is necessary to use a shampoo containing sulphates, which is something I was not doing.

What I have learnt is that not all cones are made alike. There are three different types of cones. You have your typicaldimethicone which is not water soluble and does not evaporate. Then you have your cones which are not water soluble but evaporate from your hair within a few hours of application such as cyclomethicone and finally you have water soluble cones such as dimethicone copolyol.

Although I have sworn off of cones, I still do like to flat iron my hair each time I get a touch up which is about 4 times a year. Now most heat protectants contain a host of cones. I have found a few discussions on the hair forums regarding cone free heat protectants. I suppose it won't be that terrible to use a heat protectant with cones just four times a year. I will have to wash my hair with a sulphate shampoo to ensure I have removed the cones. I am trying to simplify this hair journey which can get so complicated at times.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Deep conditioning with oil: Wet or Dry Hair

I have always seen ladies oil their dry hair prior to shampooing. This is what I would always do as well, but today I decided to do it a bit differently. I was thinking about putting the oil in my dirty hair and then deep conditioning and the idea seemed a bit odd to me. Instead, I decided to shampoo my hair and then apply my oils. I noticed a few things which I would like to share.

My hair seemed to be able to take more oil damp than dry. Normally when my hair is dry I have to be careful how much oil I add or I would turn into an oily mess with the oil running down my neck and down my back. Damp hair really seemed to suck up the oil. I was able to put a shower cap on and repaint my bathroom walls and not once did the oil run down my neck and back. I finally washed out my hair about three hours later and my hair was not oily. My hair felt soft and was silky to the touch.

I always get a soft and silky feel to my hair when I add oil to dry hair, but this time the feeling was more intense. I shampooed it out and was still loving how my hair felt. I can't understand it though because oil and water do not mix. I have been looking online and some people prefer damp hair and others prefer dry hair. It does seem to be a matter of personal preference. I can't actually find an explanation why it would work on wet hair when I should think that the fact that the hair is wet would prevent the oil from being absorbed? I have no idea actually. If anyone has any theories on this, please let me know.

Are sulphates really the enemy?

Upon starting a Hair Journey you learn pretty quickly that some ingredients are wonderful for your hair and others are to be avoided like the plague. These ingredients tend to be the ubiquitous petrolatum and mineral oil. You also hear about shampoos containing sulphates, some also talk about staying away from cones.

I wholeheartedly agree with petrolatum and mineral oil which seal the hair and prevent it from absorbing moisture. Silicones, I never thought much about until I realised that I made no progress in 2011 from heavy uses of cones such as dimethicone. Sulphates, I stayed away from because I heard how bad they were. Until my cone incident when I desperately needed something to remove the build up from my hair. I turned to the Tresemme Deep Cleansing Shampoo. To be completely honest, I was terrified that it would strip my hair of all moisture, but I was desperate.

Instead of being left with hair looking like straw, I was surprised to be left with hair that definitely felt clean without feeling dry. My wonderful experience made me run out and get a regular shampoo from Tresemme. I ended up with the Tresemme Naturals Moisture Shampoo which has low sulphates. I washed with it and my hair loved it. I added the silcone-free Conditioner and my hair felt smooth and silky, the feel I get when I have freshly relaxed my hair. My hair has never felt like that anytime after I am 2 weeks post. I am a convert. I am no longer anti-sulphates.

I believe I now have a set regimen. I will be sticking with this regimen until December when I will reassess and review my hair's progress.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The cons of cones

I have never really paid much attention to silicones in my hair products. I would instead ensure that my products never contained sulphates (except for my neutralising shampoo), mineral oil and petrolatum. My hair was thriving even though I was using products with cones.

In 2010, I discovered the Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship (HELTR) line and fell in love with their conditioner and leave-in. I loved the leave-in so much that it became my daily conditioner. I was originally using the Neutrogena Silk Touch Leave in, but it soon became scarce. I loved the leave in at first; it made my hair feel divine, but as time went by my hair started feeling dry no matter how much I conditioned it.

One day I was on my way to work and touched my hair and it was so dry, I didn't want to spend an entire day in an air-conditioned building with dry hair and so I stopped off in a pharmacy to find a cheap moisturiser. I loved the one I found and decided to switch to that because at that time the HELTR was difficult to find.

I used that new moisturiser throughout the second half of 2010 until the Neutrogena Leave in was once again available in 2011. I would moisturise and seal my hair every night without fail with wonderful results in the beginning and then I started to dislike how my hair felt. My hair felt coated and regular sulphate free shampoos were not doing the job. I switched to the Herbal Essences Shampoo and still had the same problem.

Jump to July 2011 and my disastrous texlax which showed I had lost length. My ends had broken off without me knowing it. I thought that the HELTR leave in now had too much protein, but I discovered why nothing has been working for me this year. It was the silicones in these products. My Neutrogena Leave in, my HELTR shampoo, conditioner and leave in all have dimethicone which is difficult to wash out of the hair unless you use a very strong stripping shampoo. I was not doing this. I would clarify my hair once every 6 weeks.

The thing about these cones is that they are great for detangling hair and giving the hair shine but eventually they will coat the hair and prevent it from being able to absorb moisture. When you hair can't absorb moisture breakage happens.

Today I clarified my hair and deep conditioned with a silicone free conditioner and my hair feels great.

2011 is pretty much a set back year. I am hoping to get back on track in 2012.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Postponing my October texlax

I am still experiencing breakage of the ends of my hair due to my protein overload. My hair feels odd. It is not happy. Each time I moisturise my hair I get short strands coming out in my hands. It is so frustrating. Based on my current problems, I have decided to postpone my October texlax to a yet to be determined date. I don't want to give my hair any extra stress by exposing it to such a harsh chemical.

Today I went back to S-Curl to moisturise my hair as nothing seems to working. I figured instead of buying something new it would be best to use what I already have. The S-curl worked really well. I moisturised this morning and then I did it again tonight.

My plan is to flat iron my hair next week to see what damage I have sustained from the protein overload. I am dreading it as I am probably going to have to cut my hair. If the ends are as bad as I suspect them to be due to the breakage, they will eventually have to go.

I am really frustrated. I am well on my way to my 3rd hair anniversary and still have not made reached where I want to be. I will be back in a weeks time with current photos of my hair.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are we doing too much to our hair?

I recently updated my hair care regimen for a few reasons. Firstly, I was experiencing a set back, a product I loved had a new formula which did not agree with my hair and I suffered breakage due to it. I was in the middle of a 6th month stretch and as I was wearing my hair in braid outs and bantu knot outs updos and never straight I didn't notice until I looked at photos of my hair and realised I had lost quite a few inches. The second and third reasons are connected. Reason No. 2 was that I was spending way too much money on products and no. 3 is that my regimen was getting too complicated. I was going through conditioners and oils at a rapid rate and to be honest, I still was not getting the results I wanted.

Today I read an article by Audrey Sivasothy, author of the hugely popular hair care book called "The Science of Black Hair." She recently created a blog, so I follow that as I love anything hair-related. Anyway she was saying that we are doing too much and that it is all unsustainable in the end.

I know in the beginning of my hair journey I would prepoo with oil, put a shower cap on, go under the dryer for 20 minutes, then I would let that cool, then shampoo my hair, do a black tea rinse (when the craze had just begun), then add my conditioner mix to my hair with all the oils I had heard were good for our hair and then some. At one point I was using olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, soybean oil and wheatgerm oil with at least 3-4 different conditioners. I would then apply my mix to my hair like I was applying a relaxer. I would then put on a shower cap deep condition for 45 minutes and then wash that out and finish by roller setting my hair. Wash days took up several hours of my day and a lot of my time. Whew! Can you imagine.

Audrey maintains that all you need to do is cleanse, condition, moisturise followed by sealing and utilise low manipulation in its most basic forms. There is nothing fancy to it. She even says that you don't even need to add all of these oils to your condition, that is optional. She states that a oil/conditioner pre-poo is also optional.

I would agree with her that simple is best. It gets too complicated when you do too much and then your hair will become a chore. I will admit it, there was a time I skipped my mid-week wash because I was tired after returning from a hard day at work and it would have taken too much effort to do all those steps before heading to bed. Plus some of my oils were unable to even penetrate the hair shaft, so they were really a waste.

These days I am trying to keep it simple. I no longer do elaborate mixes to my hair although I still will continue to add coconut oil to my deep conditioner. I no longer deep condition with regular conditioners as I read that regular ones have particles which are too large and cannot penetrate the hair. I will continue to oil my hair before my washes as coconut oil and olive can penetrate the hair strands and can nourish the hair. Other than that, complicated hair regimens and tons of half used products are a no for me.

Diet can affect your hair growth rate

I am generally a slow grower. I had a growth spurt from January to July 2009 when I first began my hair journey. After that it took forever to get anywhere. It usually takes me 12-14 weeks to grow an inch of hair. This would equal between 0.25 to 0.33 inches each month which is below the 0.5 inch a month average. I determine the rate of my hair growth by looking at shedded hairs during a stretch. I stretch out the roots of a shedded hair and I can usually tell where I am at.

Yesterday after washing, I detangled my hair and did a new growth test on a shedded hair. I am exactly 12 weeks post and I was pleasantly surprised to note that after 12 weeks, I had 1.25 inches of hair when stretched out. This means that my growth has increased and is now about 0.42 inches a month. This is pretty exciting for me because this is going to equal 5 inches of growth a year!!! Now all I have to do is retain those inches.

I increased my growth rate through eating a proper diet. I have been eating a lot of beans, peas, vegetables (I aim to eat the rainbow every day ie red, yellow/orange, dark green, purple/blue fruits and vegetables every day). I also snack on nuts ie pecans, walnuts and almonds. I have cut out all processed foods, all foods with added sugar as well as bread. This has not only helped in turning about my skin issues but has also increased the rate at which my hair is growing.

My goal is to see if my rate will continue to increase or if it will plateau at 5 inches a year. So if your hair is not growing properly, try changing the way you eat to see if it will make a difference. After all hair needs vitamins and minerals to be at its best and the only way to get these in your blood stream is through food.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Today I signed into Facebook and in my feed was some great news. Organic Root Stimulator, which is one of my favourite brands, announced that they have created a Hair Masque.

The key ingredients are olive oil, coconut oil and hydrolyzed keratin. That tells me it is a protein treatment. I love the fact that they have added coconut oil as I usually add coconut oil to my ORS replenishing pak (as do a lot of ladies) to make it more conditioning and nourishing for my hair. Looks like ORS is really monitoring what is going on in the online hair community.

I haven't been able to find a list of the other ingredients. I will be on board once it does not contain petrolatum and mineral oil. There conditioners usually do not, so I'm thinking they would not reverse this trend.

ORS is giving away free samples to US residents. All you have to do is fill out their survey.

Mini Hair Product Haul

I am a such product junkie. I will admit it. I have been trying to reform, but sometimes I have a relapse. Lol. Today was one such moment. I went to Pennywise today, a huge cosmetics retail store in Trinidad, which is where I am from. Now I only went to get olive oil oil for my hair when my eyes fell upon two new Garnier products. I think Garnier doesn't get enough love on the hair boards and sites because it is actually an amazing brand. Garnier is paraben-free, petrolatum-free and mineral oil-free and it smells divine. I go through so many bottles of Garnier a year. I love their Triple Nutrition line which boasts shea butter, avocado oil and olive oil. I've been using it to cowash lately.

These are the two products I picked up:

Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Frizz Defeat Deep Treatment. It has argan and apricot oils. It is a conditioner which you apply after shampooing and leave on for 3 minutes.

The next one is the Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Anti Frizz Serum. It also has argan oil and apricot oil in it. What I liked about it is that the third ingredient listed was argan oil. Normally argan oil is listed really low down in most products which claim to contain it.

I'll be using the products today and will be back with a review of them after I use them for about a month.

Update: I am no longer using these products as they contain dimethicone. I have experienced a set back due to heavy use of dimethicone so I am laying off the cones from now on.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hair Oiling until the end of the year

I am rapidly approaching the 3rd anniversary of my hair journey and I cannot say that I am happy with where I am. I lost inches during my 6th month stretch that put me back at my 2010 length. I can't let that get me down though, very few people have an easy journey. I am now trying to focus on rebuilding my hair. I will see what the current state of my hair is when I texlax on October 21st at 14 weeks post. I believe I definitely will have to cut some hair due to the breakage of the ends.

My game plan is to intensify my treatments. I have decided to wash my hair three times a week. Two washes will be a shampoo wash followed by a co-wash. I will deep condition my hair once a week. Before each wash I will apply my oil infusions to my scalp and give myself as massage and then apply the oils to the length of my hair. I am not expecting miracles for my next texlax as I only recently discovered what was happening with my hair. However, I am hoping I will see some progress by the time my December texlax comes around.