Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I have learned after 3 years of hair care

Tuesday 31st January will be the 3rd anniversary of my hair journey. I am not where I thought I would have been by now. The goal was BSL but setbacks have led me back to SL territory. I can't deny my frustration given that I did what one was supposed to do: I deep conditioned, moisturised and sealed and protective styled my little heart out and what happened? Breakage. Breakage so gradual that I was unaware until there was a significant change in my hair.

Now is the time to sit back and reflect on the journey and learn from my mistakes as I once again try to grow my hair.

If it ain't broke then don't fix it. My products and regimen were working for me, given that my hair went from between NL-SL to past APL between January to October. However I was constantly searching for better products, buying and rejecting products and, in effect, wasting a lot of money. I would hear someone raving about a product and I would have to run out and by it. This leads me to my second lesson.

Keep track of what works and does not work. I kept changing products, testing and rejecting, and at the end of it all, I could not even remember which products I had been using in the early days when my hair was thriving. If you must change up your products constantly, then I advise that you add only one product at a time and take a note of it.

Comparison photos are important. This seems odd but I did not recognise that my hair was breaking off until I compared pictures from 2011 with pictures from 2009. I almost cried when I noticed that my length at July 2011 was shorter than my October 2009 length. I had stopped doing comparison shots. I was, instead, doing length checks. I now vow to do comparison photos with each texlaxer and link it from year to year. This way I can tell if my hair is indeed retaining length or breaking off.

If you are on a hair journey, then your hair should look like it. Your hair should be shiny, full of body and generally healthier looking than a person not on a journey. There should be a difference, particularly when you are several months or years into your hair journey.. If you are taking the time to care for your hair then people should be able to tell. It should look like hair that is well maintained.

So now that I know what to do and what not to do, I am curious to see how quickly I can regrow my hair. I predicting full APL by August/September, full BSL/MBL (as I wear my bra low and have a short torso) by May 2013 and WL by September 2013. Ambitious? In terms of growth, not really. When I look back at my photos I can see I had a lot of growth. I was just having problems with retention because of the errors which I committed from October 2009.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hair Inspiration

I saw the lovely hair of the model on this Dark and Lovely Relaxer and I was like "Whoaaaa!!!" I am telling you life would be great if my hair could look like this at all times. Now I don't know if it is 100 percent hers, but to me when I think of healthy relaxed hair, I think of the girls on the relaxer boxes. Their hair always seems so shiny and healthy looking. These days I have also been of the view that if I am on a hair journey and taking very good care of my hair that it should look like it. My hair should not look like the average person. It should look better. Now this is where it gets tricky and I tend to have a hit or miss situation going on with my hair. This was the reason for the blog, so that when I hit it I can document and also do the same when I miss it.

This is what I am currently working with. So far I think it has shine and it definitely has body and bounce. I attribute this to the amla oil I have been using of late. The reverse roller set technique is also helping to stretch out my texlaxed hair. Now if only I could figure out how other ladies cross wrap without the dents. It just doesn't work for me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The fresh salon relaxer look when you are several weeks post

I am absolutely loving my hair these days. I have no complaints whatsoever. I have decided that airdrying is not for me. I am a roller set type of girl. If you are texlaxed to the degree that I am (about 70) then you will realise it is almost impossible to get your hair to dry straight, perhaps the ends of the hair, but the roots do not dry straight. I airdry in a cross wrap and I can get it to lay flat and not turn into an afro which is what happens when I airdry loose. However, sometimes you want to make your hair look like it is bone straight.

There are times when I want Ateyaa hair. I remember the first video I ever saw on youtube about relaxed hair was hers and she was swinging her hair. It had so much body I was just in awe. Then I saw how much direct heat she used and I thought I would never have hair that looked like that.

That is, until I discovered the technique of reverse roller setting. Reverse roller sets straighten your hair that it looks like you have just flat ironed your hair. It takes away the need to do a roller set and then a silk wrap. What is reverse roller setting? Basically instead of rolling your hair over the rollers and then downwards, you roll it upwards. One of the benefits of doing it this way is that it flattens any new growth that you have and texlaxed hair looks bone straight. It really does look as if you have had a fresh relaxer. I believe it results in more tension which is why you get a straighter result.

You can see how this is done is the video below.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How diet can affect your growth rate

I have noticed of late that my hair growth rate has increased by leaps and bounds. I am currently 10 weeks post and when I do a strand test of my shedded hairs, I have 1.75 inches of growth in the front and 2 inches in the back. To me, that is unbelievable because in 2010 when I began measuring the new growth of my shedded strands I was averaging 1 inch of growth every 12 weeks.

I want to say that my hair was not growing to its true potential rather than me finding the secret for rapid growth. I believe I was suffering from a slight case of malnutrition and therefore after my body took the little I was giving it, not very much was left for my hair.

In 2011 I began eating an extremely healthy diet. I was suffering from severe moderate adult acne which no longer responded to prescription medication and in my desperate quest to find something that would work I decided to follow a very restrictive diet based on the work of two dermatologists and a nutritionist I had come across.

I cut out juice, sugar, dairy, flour and potatoes from my diet. These foods can all cause inflammation in the body and inflammation is the bane of the moderate acne sufferer. I began to eat 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and lots of peas and beans. I eat the rainbow so every day I aim for something red, dark green, yellow or orange, dark green and black or blue or purple. I also took supplements such as cod liver oil and evening primrose oil.

Within a week my face, which was completely covered in acne, began to show improvement. Within 3 months I could safely say I no longer had severe acne. It is now 6 months later and my skin looks wonderful. I still suffer from slight breakouts at "that time of the month" but I will take a few pimples over a face covered with large, inflamed bumps.

I have an extreme diet which has helped me achieve clear skin as well as rapid hair growth which has been is a wonderful side effect. This is an extremely healthy diet which provides the body with all the vitamins and minerals it could need for optimal health. I believe that after my organs use what they need for vital processes, there is enough left over for my hair and my skin. There have been other benefits such as the fact that I have not had a cold in year, I have a lot of energy, my skin from head to toe glows and my nails are growing quickly So I believe I can safely say that diet does have an impact on hair growth.

Most people are probably suffering from malnutrition to a certain extent if they do not eat at least 5 colourful fruits and vegetables a day. I would advise everyone to try and increase their fruit and vegetable intake. It is easiest if you try to have fruit and/or vegetables with every meal.

For instance, I have a green smoothie each morning for breakfast which includes a non-dairy milk, spinach, bananas and strawberries. I always have a salad with my lunch which can range from a coleslaw with carrots and purple cabbage or as simple as diced cucumbers and tomatoes with a dash of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of parsley. For the after lunch munchies I opt for a fruit:an apple, a handful of prunes, a julie mango, guavas. I would also include a simple salad with my dinner which would be in addition to any vegetables I include in the actual meal. Before I know it I have eaten at least 7 servings a day.

Growth aids are not necessary. All you need is a healthy diet. Instead of spending money on the latest potion and hair oil lines which are not cheap, try spending that money on your diet. You will be healthier for it; you will strengthen your body's ability to fight cancer as the colourful foods are full of antioxidants and your hair will grow faster. It is all win win.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I decided to take the plunge and cut off the thin ends that I was holding on to just to see length. I have decided that I want healthy, thicker hair and thin ends are just not going to cut it. My thin ends have prevented me from really enjoying my hair; I rarely leave out my hair because I am not happy with the look of my hair.

Yesterday after watching Shilinda's video on Youtube and seeing her cut her hair up to neck length I was inspired and decided to do the same and with my mom's help I went from my December length seen in the photo below:

to this:

So I am back up at shoulder length. After my cut I washed my hair and roller set it and was just in love with the thickness and body I had. Health is more important than length. It just did not make sense that I was spending so much money and time on my hair and yet was embarrassed to leave it out because of my ends. In any case my hair will grow back. My goal for December 2012 is blunt APL hair. My ultimate goal is blunt Waist Length hair. It might take a while but it will definitely be worth it. Looks a lot better, don't you think?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Can lightning strike twice? Hair Journey review in photos

I began my hair journey on January 31, 2009 with a fresh relaxer. It looked like this:

By October 2009 my hair looked like this:

January 2010: Hair looking healthy

By December 2010 my hair began to show signs of the damage caused by too heavy cone usage and not enough clarifying. Hair is no longer shiny and ends don't look that great. I am almost at BSL though.

2011: The year of setbacks and hair cuts

July 2011: Where has my hair gone? There was no major, noticeable breakage, no shedding. My ends were just gradually breaking off.

October 2011: The cutting begins first with a failed attempt at a blunt cut. Hair still dry looking. I continued using cones.

November: Freshly texlaxed. The journey begins once more: Cone free in November 2011

Looking at my photos I realise that my hair can grow long. My problem was retention of length due to heavy cone usage. My hair grew a lot in 2009 and I am hoping that I can mirror this in 2012. I now know what works and does not work for my hair and so the regrowth process begins.

Amla Oil is the Stuff

Today I broke my promise to not buy new products and just stick with my regimen but it was definitely worth it. I blogged earlier about my mineral oil-free Alma Oil purchase and was really anxious to try it.

I shampooed my hair with my Optimum Oil Therapy Ultimate Recovery Shampoo, let my hair air dry a bit and then added a generous amount of amla oil from root to tip. My hair was not left with an oily residue, just a really strong, almost sickeningly sweet scent. Amla oil smells like really cheap perfume. I don't really like the scent but I will endure it once a week. I placed a shower cap on my hair and left the oil in my hair for about 4 hours. I then shampooed again and co-washed with the Lusters Pink Conditioner that I also purchased today.

The results: My hair felt amazingly soft and my new growth has been tamed. I give this amla treatment two thumbs up. I will definitely be incorporating this into my regimen. I believe I will swap the amla oil for my weekly coconut and olive oil deep condition. I will start mixing my coconut and olive oils into my conditioners once more.

I am currently airdrying my hair. My new growth is laying down flat so I smoothed my hair back into one and did one braid at the nape of my neck. Amla is definitely going to be a staple product now. I will definitely have to go back to the store and buy all their stock.

Amla oil is from the indian gooseberry plant and has been used for centuries by women in India. It is believed to strengthen hair follicles thereby preventing loss of hair from balding and shedding. It is also believed to increase hair growth. It imparts shine to the hair, makes it soft and silky and can help prevent the hair from becoming brittle and splitting at the ends. Most brands tend to have a mineral oil base which is why I had stopped using Amla. It is good to know that some don't.

This is the brand I purchased: Ana Jolie Amla Oil in a coconut oil base.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I cut my hair and my Hair Plans for 2012

In 2011 I was unable to put down the scissors. I cut my hair 3 or 4 times in 2011. My last cut was today when I decided to rid myself of the remaining straight ends. My hair is now completely relaxed at no more than 70 percent from root to tip. I love the texlaxed hair as it makes my very fine hair appear to be of medium thickness. I will never have extremely thick hair but the fact that I leave some texture in my hair really makes a difference. My hair is chemically altered so I am able to get my hair very straight with just a rollerset.

The 3rd anniversary of my Hair Journey will be on the 31st of January. My hair is obviously not at BSL which is where I had hoped I would be when I first started my journey back in 2009. I am disappointed because I have spent so much time, money and effort on my journey only to not see the results. I do know I would have been at BSL had it not been for the setback due to heavy cone usage and lack of sufficient clarifying with sulphate shampoos.

I am looking on the bright side though. My hair is growing everyday, I just need to ensure that I retain my ends. I believe I am the right track now. I know my hair can grow. I also know what caused my breakage. I have also realised that my hair is growing really quickly of late because I eat an extremely, healthy diet. In seven weeks I was able to grow an inch of hair, when in the past it would take me 12 weeks to do the same. This means that if I retain my ends and continue with my healthy diet and current growth rate, I might be luckily enough to gain 7 inches in 2012. I am currently in between SL and APL. Once I make it to APL there will only be a 9.5 inch span to my ultimate goal of WL. If I keep this up then I will make WL in a little over a year. Ambitious, I know but I need a goal to work towards.

My Hair Plans for 2012 are therefore growth and retention. I do not use growth aids. I believe a healthy diet is all one needs.

What I have been eating

The purpose of this blog is to keep track of what I have been doing to my hair and the results. Of late I have been experiencing a growth spurt like nothing I have experienced before. I want to make a record of it because I want to maintain it.

Prior to 2011 I didn't have a terrible diet, but it was not extremely healthy either. I would snack in moderation on processed foods such as cookies, cakes, icecream etc. In 2011 my severely acne-prone skin began to break out like crazy and I eventually realised that it was due to wheat (flour) and dairy products.

In August 2011 I gave up flour and dairy and my skin began to improve. From then on I made an effort to to eat a proper diet. I made sure I ate 5-9 different fruits and vegetables a day and I ensured that they were white, red, yellow/orange, dark green and blue/purple. I made sure I drank at least 64 oz of water a day and I took supplements such as cod liver oil and evening primrose oil daily. During this period my growth rate increased just a bit.

Prior to my November relaxer my growth rate was at 0.42 inches a month which is under the 0.5 inches average. I worked this out by looking at shedded strands of hair at 12 weeks post, pulling the new growth taut and then measuring it. Once I get that measurement it is easy to work out a growth rate for the month. Since my November relaxer I have noticed I had a lot new growth and when I measured my new growth after 7 weeks I found I had at least 1 inch of growth. My new growth rate is now 0.57 inches a month which is above average.

I have only been doing two things differently since November. I have been eating a lot of carrots and almonds. I do not know if carrots and almonds can affect hair growth rates but I eat a lot of these two foods. I tend to eat one large carrot a day. I tend to eat half in a salad which accompanies my lunch and the other half at dinner time. I also snack on raw almonds. I buy my almonds in 4.5 oz packs and I eat them in one sitting. I usually have 2-3 packs a week. I am therefore getting a lot of extra protein and Vitamin A in my diet. These are the only two changes. I would need to do more research to see if these two things have any effect on hair growth. I don't know but I intend to keep it up to see if my growth rate will continue.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My favourite moisturiser

There is a product which does not get much love in the online hair community but which is nonetheless a pretty wonderful product. It is the Kids Organics EVOO and Shea Butter Detangling and Moisturising Hair Lotion.

Sometime in 2010 I was on my way to work and happened to run my hand through my hair and was disgusted by how dry my hair felt. It was a shock to me because I had deep conditioned just the night before. I did not want to spend all day in an office with the air conditioning cranked up with already dry hair, so I popped into a drugstore to see if I could find a mineral oil and petrolatum free moisturiser. The only one available was the Kids Organics one, which was a product I had never previously seen. I used it and fell in love with it. It made my hair so soft and shiny without leaving it weighed down or oily. It became my staple for a few months.

I eventually stopped using it because I thought it had stopped working as my hair would still feel dry after using it. I now know that the real problem was my heavy use of cones and the lack of sulphate shampoos to effectively remove them from my hair. I have lately been using the ORS Carrot Oil but my issue with that product is that it weighs down my hair and after the 2nd day of moisturising and sealing, my hair feels so oily.

I decided to give the Kids Organic's product another try and once again I am sold. I love how my hair feels when I use this product. My hair is so silky soft, it is shiny and since the product is so light, I can moisturise and seal twice daily without the fear of weighing my hair down. This product therefore receives two thumbs up and is once again my staple.


Aqua (Water) , Propylene Glycol , PEG-150 Distearate , Cetyl Alcohol , Glycerin , Polyquaternium-37 , Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate , Dicaprate , PPG-1 Trideceth-6 , Glycine Soja Oil (Soybean) , DMDM Hydantoin , Cyclopentasiloxane , Cyclohexasiloxane , Phenyl Trimethicone , Lanolin Oil , Glyceryl Stearate , PEG-100 Stearate , Acrylamidopropyltrimonium Chloride , Acrylamide Copolymer , Methylparaben , Propylparaben , Stearalkonium Chloride , Fragrance , Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil , Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (Olive) , Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter (Cocoa) , Carota Sativa Seed Oil (Carrot) , Butyrospermum Parkii Fruit (Shea Butter) , CI 19140 (Yellow 5) , CI 16035 (Red 40) , CI 42090 (Blue 1) , Hydrolyzed Glycine Soja Protein (Soybean) , Mustela (Mink Oil) , Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba) , Tocopherol , Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil (Tea Tree) , Ovum (Egg Powder) , Lactis Proteinum (Milk Protein) , Mel (Honey) , Silk Amino Acids , Cholesterol , Zea Mays Oil (Corn) , BHT , BHA , Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut) , Carthamus Tinctorius Seed Oil (Safflower) , Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract (Rosemary) , Urtica Dioica Extract (Nettle) , Equisetum Hiernale Extract (Horsetail)