Saturday, December 31, 2011

Unsure about my journey

Britpopprincess from Youtube has announced that she was ending her hair journey. She explained that it just wasn't that important anymore and that she wanted to have fun with her hair. She wanted to straighten it when she wanted, she wanted to colour it if she wanted. She was no longer enjoying being on a journey. She went further by getting a bone straight relaxer, rather than texlaxing and cut her hair short. I know a lot of the people who follow her were shocked but in a way I understood what she was saying.

I have to admit I am no longer having fun with my hair. It seems like such a chore. Now it could be because of my major set back and the fact that I can't stop from chopping off my hair. I am frustrated with it and it is no longer fun. I am tired of always dealing with new growth and tired of wearing my hair up. I feel as if I am stuck in a rut.

Half of me wants to run to a hairdresser and say "Just make it bone straight and chop it off" and the other half of me, that very goal-oriented individual, says I can't give up because I have a goal in mind. So while I debate whether I should just cut off or not I have decided on interim measures.

The first of these interim measures is saying goodbye to long stretches. I cannot deal with it anymore. When I first started my journey I felt I needed to work my way up to 6 month stretches. Now I am just tired of it. I am tired of poofy roots that don't cooperate and fuzzy edges that refuse to lay flat or break off when I do find a product that can lay them down. I have never been one to relax at 6 weeks. My mom would let me get my hair relaxed once every school term and once I started working, I would relax every 8 weeks. This went well until my hair broke off during a freak accident while deep conditioning. I have decided from now own that I will texlax my hair every 9-10 weeks.

Prior to my hair journey I was a fan of the half up, half down style. I set my hair every night with my Pink Oil Moisturiser and would sleep in the rollers so that I could have a cute, curly style everyday. After my breakage incident I braided my hair for two years while my hair was regrowing and never had to bother with styling my hair. Once I started my hair journey I was hooked on protective styles. Now I am clueless when it comes to styling my hair when it is down. I never like how it turns out and I end up putting it up. From next year I will not be protective styling as much as I used to. I fully intend to enjoy my hair. After all when I reached grazing BSL in 2010 I never even got to enjoy the fact that my hair was that long as I never left it out. I am currently practising with flexi rods each time I wash my hair to see how I can perfect that type of set. From next year I will also be experimenting with different sized rollers to get different looks.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

1" growth in 7 weeks?

I will be 7 weeks post on Friday 31st December and I feel like I am at least 12 weeks post. Tonight I detangled my hair and then took a look at the shedded strands. To my amazement when I looked at the new growth section of my shedded hair, it would appear that I have grown at least 1 inch since I last relaxed on November 12th. I was really taken aback. How could I have grown that much hair?

I know it does not sound extraordinary as the average growth rate is 1/2 inch a month but for me it is a lot. See I am usually a slow grower; I usually average 1 inch every 12 weeks. Therefore an inch in seven weeks is unheard of, for me.

Of late I have been addicted to two things: almonds and carrots. I have been making an effort to eat healthy since August of this year in an attempt to solve my battle with adult acne. While I get at least 5-9 fruits and vegetables a day, I have found myself drawn to two foods which I must have at least once a day. I eat a lot of carrots these days. In fact I eat about one carrot a day. I know it sounds weird to be addicted to a vegetable but I don't feel right if I don't eat my carrots. LOL. I also adore raw almonds and can eat a small bag of them in one sitting.

Could this have contributed to my recent growth spurt?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chop, chop, chop

I am tired of my thin, relaxed ends and so I have cut my hair twice since Friday! I chopped off some of the thinner ends on Friday and then today I cut off even more. At this point I think it is just better to start over with a fresh cut. No real need to hold onto those ends just because I am desperate for length. My texlaxed hair looks a lot thicker and better than the thin ends. This means that I have lost even more length but at this point I don't really mind. I will focus on length in 2012.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 20th: Bi-monthly Check In

I have decided to do a length check every other month. The purpose of this is for me to have a means of tracking my hair's progress or lack thereof. My hair grows at the rate of about 0.42 inches a month which is under the typical 0.5 inches a month. However, if I do retain my length then I should see a gradual change in growth. I am thinking I will need to make my own length check T-shirt so that I can get a better measurement rather than eyeballing it.
I am almost 6 weeks post and to get my texlaxed hair straight I rollerset with small rollers then did a saran wrap last night. I cross wrapped my hair overnight and then took pictures this morning.
These are my December check in shots

In my October picture which is the first picture my hair is flat ironed. In the November and December pictures my hair is roller set on small rollers and then wrapped. I think doing it that way was a mistake because I cannot really tell what my hair looks like in its straightest form. It seems my hair lays flat only when my hair is flat-ironed. I will probably flat iron my hair for the New Year and see how it looks. In any case my hair grows slowly so I would not expect my hair to be anymore than 1 inch longer after three months.

Monday, December 19, 2011

To stretch or not to stretch (for extended periods of time)

When I first began my hair journey I believed that I had to follow to the T the regimen of ladies who had had great success. If they said "Use this product" I bought that product. If they said "Wash once a week" I washed once a week and when they said "Stretch your relaxer" I was on the stretch bandwagon.

My hair in a half up half down bantu knot out. You can see the difference between the texlaxed hair and the new growth.

I have always been a stretcher even before I knew what that was. When I first began relaxing as a tween my mom always let me get a fresh relaxer at the beginning of each school term which worked out to be no more than 3 times a year. Even in my days when I did not even know about deep conditioning I always stretched and never had breakage at the line of demarcation. My problem was that my ends would constantly break off.

Skip a few years later when I joined the virtual black hair care community and heard about all the benefits of stretching. I came across so many ladies so stretched for 16 weeks, 20 weeks, 24 weeks and even 52 weeks. I figured "Ok, I can do this" and so I began to stretch, increasing each relaxer by a week and before I knew it I was stretching for 16 weeks and even went up to 24 weeks.

I understand the benefits of stretching. A lot of people believe that stretching will help you get longer hair but that is a bit incorrect. It's the same way people say muscle ways more than fat when really and truly a pound of fat weighs the same as pound of muscle, it just looks different. If my hair grows 1/2 a month and I relax every 8 weeks at the end of 6 months I would have 3 inches (if I retained my length). I would have the same amount of growth if I stretched for 6 months. No more, no less.

The real benefit of stretching is giving your hair a break from the harsh chemicals. When you stretch you lessen the chance of severely overlapping the relaxer because it is impossible to prevent relaxer overlap. I know people believe they can but in reality they can't. To do this you would need to be very, very precise not just in the application of the relaxer but in the smoothing process. Everyone overlaps when they smooth.

I learnt this from an article I read by Audrey Sivasothy. I can't find the article online so I will paraphrase.

The idea is that every time you relax you overlap a bit and you create a weak point in your hair. Let's say you relax every 6 weeks in any given year you will be relaxing at least 8 times. If you grow 6 inches a year those 6 inches will have 8 weak spots. A strand of your hair would therefore look like this:-


Now if you decide to stretch 16 weeks in one year, or about three times for the year then those 6 inches would look like this:-


There is no guarantee that your hair will break off in these areas but you should be aware that your hair is weaker in these spots. This is what made me want to stretch my relaxers for as a long as I possibly could. However of late I have been rethinking long stretches. After 10 weeks my new growth tends to not want to cooperate with me. My styling options become limited and I let the hair dictate the pace. To be honest I have been feeling stuck in a rut. I texlax my hair but most time I am rocking two textures. My new growth starts showing from about Week 5 and so for the next 7 to 11 weeks I deal with new growth and texlaxed ends. I rarely flat iron my hair so I just deal with it. My styling options are limited and to be entirely honest, I don't look that cute.

Of late I have been asking myself why do I chemically process my hair if most of the time I don't chemically process my hair, if that makes sense. I feel anxious about reducing the amount of time I stretch but I am going to be on my the active growing part of my journey for another two years if I am to reach my ultimate goal of WL. The question is am I really going to allow myself to endure this struggle time and time again for the next two years?

I have just completed my 5th week and I have really been contemplating texlaxing somewhere between 10 to 12 weeks post. I have not made up my mind but I do know it won't be any longer than 12 weeks.

Operation Stop Looking Like a Hot Mess: I give up

Yesterday's purchase was the Luster's Renutrients Slick Stick. I will start off by saying that I was willing to give this product a chance although it contains petrolatum and mineral oil. I was however willing to look past it if it actually worked. Alas it did not. Like most products for my edges, it worked for the first 5-10 minutes and after it was back to normal.

I have realised that my major issue is my baby hair. These hairs curl and point upwards at the same time. They respond easily when I apply a gel or a pomade and I can smooth it back with relative ease. My baby hairs actually become straight, however, within 5 minutes I can see them start to curl once more and by the 10th minute they are back to normal. One would not even think I had ever made an attempt at slicking them down.

So what is a girl to do? I suppose I will have to learn to accept them. This is my hair and no matter which method or product I use my baby hairs will continue to do what is in their nature to do. I know it looks better when it is all slicked back and not fuzzy but the only product which ever worked to date broke off the hair at my temples. I am just going to have to accept it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Organic Root Stimulator brings out the product junkie in me

I was already fearful my search to find the perfect product to control my edges would lead me back into product junkie territory and now today I just realised that ORS has brought out a new line! ORS is really killing it this year. I believe they are actually taking note of the black hair care virtual community by the new products they are creating and the terms that they are using.

The newest creation is the HAIRepair line which includes a deep conditioner, an oil, a moisturiser creme and an anti-breakage creme. I am really excited to test all the products. Yes, all because I do love Organic Root Stimulator. The products are reasonably priced and they work really well. Some of my staple hair products are from Organic Root Stimulator.

The one thing that I don't like is that they never post the entire ingredient listing on the website. They boast of the ingredients which are really good for your hair but this never answers the most important question for me which is if there is mineral oil or petrolatum in their products. ORS, like most lines intended for black hair, tends to have these ingredients in their products. Some still love them but I rather stay away from them. It is just a personal choice.

As usual ORS is offering free samples of this line to US residents. Unfortunately I am ineligible for this offer given that I live in the Caribbean. Hopefully those of you who can request a free sample like the products. Click the link to answer a survey and receive a free sample.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Operation Stop Looking Like a Hot Mess continued: Olive and Sunflower Oil Edge Tamer

One of the disadvantages of living in Trinidad while on a Hair Journey is that you cannot find certain products. I really have not succumbed to the temptation of ordering products online instead trying to make do with what we have here, but there are times when I am frustrated.

In my last post I spoke about two products that I wanted to try to see if they would be successful in laying down my edges. I went to the largest beauty supply store chain in Trinidad and unfortunately could not find what I wanted.

I told the attendant the purpose of my visit and my frustration with the stiff, gel like products which broke the hair off at my temples. She suggested the Olive and Sunflower Oil Edge Tamer by Sofn'free n'pretty and I decided to try it because I was sold when she showed me the consistency.

In terms of its consistency, it looks creamy but not as creamy as a moisturiser and also reminds me of the ORS Pudding. It is also very thick and when I shake the jar or tilt it to one side it does not move. It has a slightly oily feel to it given that the 2nd and 3rd ingredients are oils. I applied a bit to my hairline and then used a soft toothbrush to brush just my edges. I was not too impressed with the result. It was an improvement from the way I had been rocking it but it could not match the power of the Hicks or the ORS Edge Control.

It has now been a few hours since I first applied it and I am not convinced that it is the solution to my problems. I will try apply it again tonight and tie a scarf around it to see if it needs to be set overnight to work.

My next attempt will be the Lusters Slick Stick. I am a bit concerned that I am reentering product junkie mode. Let's hope I love the Slick Stick and I don't need to try anything else.One of the disadvantages of living in Trinidad while on a Hair Journey is that you cannot find certain products. I really have not succumbed to the temptation of ordering products online instead trying to make do with what we have here, but there are times when I am frustrated.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Operation Stop Looking Like a Hot Mess a.k.a. my attempt to lay down my edges

My edges have always been crazy. Even when I was natural I would have baby hair that would just stick up no matter what I did. It would stand up and curl leaving me with a fluffy hairline.

I first tried the scarf method which only worked the first 10 minutes after I took off the scarf.

My hair using the scarf method

I tried gel to tame my edges but I hated how hard it would make my hair feel and the fact that my hair looked and felt crunchy. I then tried a clear pomade by Hicks which worked really well until it began to break off the hair by my temples.

My results when using Hicks

I stopped using the Hicks and re-entered frizzy hairline territory until a few months later when I purchased the ORS Edge Control which has the same consistency of the Hicks. I then remembered that the Hicks had broken off my edges and I stopped using the ORS and resigned myself to having frizzy edges until today that is.

I was in the mall today and happened to glimpse at my hair in a huge mirror and noticed that I looked a hot mess. My edges were looking crazy and although I had my hair in the cutest updo the front of my hair was not cute.

After much research online I have decided to test two products which seem to have a consistency which is unlike the Hicks and ORS edge tamer options. I am a bit uncomfortable as both of these products contain mineral oil. I have been anti-mineral oil and petrolatum since I began my hair journey but I am willing to give it a try. The products I will be testing are the Motions Shine Enhancing Pomade and the TCB Lite Hair and Scalp Conditioner. I will be applying them solely to my edges and will moisturise my edges with a proper moisturiser before applying these new products.

Reviews and pictures to follow.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Air Drying Chronicles continued

I have been revisiting airdrying but putting my own spin on it. You can click here for my original post on how I air dry my texlaxed hair.

Since that post I have been attempting to perfect that method and get my hair to dry a bit straighter. I noticed that if I moisture and seal my damp hair and then cross wrap I get perfectly straight results. It is as straight as when I roller set and go under the dryer. The only thing I am trying to work on is fighting the poof in the centre of my head. I use a mesh wrap cap which has an opening on the top.

To try and solve this problem I went online to see if there are any mesh wrap caps. Unfortunately I couldn't find any which was very disappointing. I think my hair dries faster because I use a mesh wrap. I think my hair would take a lot longer to dry with a fabric that is non-breathable. What I eventually found was a wave cap that guys would use. Now I am not sure if this will work or not but I will be heading to the beauty supply store on Monday to see if I can purchase one of these or something similar.

I also wanted to mention why I like cross wrapping as opposed to other wrapping methods. Personally I find that wrapping damp hair in the clockwise method would be using more manipulation than I would be comfortable with. When I cross wrap my damp hair I detangle it in the shower under the running water and that is the last time I use the comb. I smooth the hair with my fingers, part it in half and cross wrap. Straight hair and very little manipulation. Relaxed hair is the most fragile when it is wet so I rather not manipulate it too much.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Trying out a new shampoo

This year I have been trying to find a regimen that works for me. I have made an effort to cut out cones or if I must use cones then I prefer that they are listed at the bottom of the ingredients listing rather than in the top 3. I have also gone back to sulphate shampoos. I know, I know. Sulphates are bad but build up was what was causing me to have set backs. I started my hair journey in January 2009 at NL by December 2009, I was grazing APL. In 2010 I struggled to get past APL and was even grazing BSL for a short while but eventually my hair gradually broke off and I remained at APL. In 2011, I lost length and had to trim to just above APL. Clearly something was not working for me.

I decided to combat build up by using sulphate shampoos once more. After all, I had had success with them when I first started my journey. I was using a Tresemme Shampoo which was being touted as low sulphates but then someone commented on my review of the product saying that the shampoo contained ammonium lauryl sulphate and ammonium laureth sulphate which are some of the harshest sulphates around. I did more research on it and realised that she was right. I then did even more research and found out that if you must use sulphates then it is best to just stick with one sulphate and the weaker version which is sodium laureth sulphate.

Last week I purchased the Optimum Oil Therapy Ultimate Recovery Shampoo by Softsheen Carson.

This is the description of the shampoo and its ingredients.

Featuring micro-oil technology, which penetrates hair with micro-beads of natural oils to help nourish, repair, strengthen and protect hair. Cleanses, instantly softens and revitalizes dry, damage prone hair.

The benefits:

    • Nourishes hair with natural extracts of coconut, olive, avocado, and jojoba
    • Detangles and tames unruly hair
    • Rescues and smooths damaged hair shaft
    • Removes all styling residue without stripping
    • Restores intense moisturization from root to tip
Aqua (Water) , Sodium Laureth Sulfate , Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate , Sodium Chloride , Glycol Distearate , Glycerin , Cocamide MIPA , Disodium Ricinoleamido MEA-Sulfosuccinate , Polyquaternium-10 , Carbomer , Fragrance , Disodium EDTA , Methylparaben , DMDM Hydantoin , Sodium Hydroxide , Butylphenyl Methylpropional , Isopropanolamine , Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde , Amyl Cinnamal , Benzyl Salicylate , Olea Europaea Oil (Olive Fruit Oil) , 2-Oleamido-1 , 3-Octadecanediol , Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Seed Oil) , Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut Oil) , Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado Oil) , Laurdimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
I really like this shampoo. It cleans my hair and doesn't strip it. Granted my hair does not feel as clean as when I used the Tresemme shampoo, but it does not feel coated as it did in the period leading up to my setback. What surprised me about the shampoo was that it had a silky finish to it. It almost reminded me of the texture of the Creme of Nature sulphate-free shampoos. I believe it was just a bit thinner than the Creme of Nature.
Again I must find fault with companies which list oils and natural ingredients to the bottom of the ingredient listing and then focus on the benefit of these oils. The oils are listed after the fragrance which means there is probably almost no oil in this shampoo. In spite of that, it does its job and leaves my hair smooth and it cleans without stripping, which is what I am after.
My hair continues to do well. I no longer suffer from dry, straw like strands which refused to respond to both moisture and protein. My hair is shiny and full of body and although I am two weeks post, I still find that my hair has that just relaxed look which I would usually lose after the first wash. I think I will continue using sulphates.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Leaving my hair out

I have never been great at styling my hair. In high school people knew me as the girl with "interesting hairstyles" which was a euphemism for the fact that I looked like I did not know what I was doing.

This is why I am really grateful to Youtube. I have learned so many techniques for styling my hair in protective hairstyles. However, sometimes you want to leave your hair down and this is where I falter. I don't know what to do with my hair when I let it down. I usually part my hair to the side and leave it out, but generally I do not like the results and I end up doing a cute updo.

My braid outs and bantu knot outs never come out like the girls I see on Hairlista or even on Youtube even if I use their methods. I had success one time with a flexi rod set.

My only successful flexi-rod set

My goal is to master the bantu-knot out, the braid out and the steam roller set. I do not leave my hair out very often, usually only for special occasions but I would still like to be able to look cute when my hair is out. In the next few weeks to come I will be trying these styles out and posting photos whether they have been successful or not.