Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hair Confession: I am tired of stretching my relaxer

My last stretch was only 10 weeks which has been the shortest period I have gone without a relaxer since I began my hair journey. My plan was to have stretched for 14 weeks but I was so tired of the two textures that I decided to give in and texlax. It was during that previous stretch that I was just tired with it all. I texlax my hair to have somewhat straight hair because that is the look I prefer, yet at the same time, I constantly have to contend with natural hair and texlaxed hair because I stretch. Back in the day it would take 10 weeks before I really saw any significant growth, so stretching to 12-14 weeks was really easy. I would texlax and I'd have an inch after 3 months.

Now that I have a ridiculously healthy diet (I'm talking at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day, no sugar, no processed foods etc) my growth rate has dramatically improved, in fact I would state that my hair is growing at its optimal rate. My new growth is noticeable from the 3rd week and by the 6th week I am frustrated with it all.  I really feel like I have two options. Either I start relaxing every 8 weeks or I go back natural, so that I commit to one look. I am currently 6 weeks post and I already have over 1 inch of new growth. This is enough to prevent excessive overlapping when I relax, however I am not keen on the idea of using chemicals that often. I also don't like to use direct heat so flat ironing my roots is out of the question for me, my country is in the Caribbean and it gets hot and I would sweat it out in a day or two.

All I know is I am frustrated. Stretching is not something new to me. I have stretched to 16 weeks and even completed a 6 month stretch and had no breakage at the line of demarcation. The problem is not that I need to learn to stretch. The issue is that I am tired of always having two significant textures of hair.

This post has helped me to make a decision. I will be texlaxing on June 14th at 8 weeks post. I seem to be rebelling a lot of late: using sulphate shampoos, using products with petrolatum and now eliminating long stretches. We will see if my likes these changes. If not, I will just have to stick it out with the stretching.

I just finished washing and roller setting my hair. This is what my new growth looks like. I will be 6 weeks post tomorrow. I don't think I can make another 6 weeks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My hair doesn't mind seem to mind petrolatum

I went a little ORS crazy last week when I went to the beauty supply store. I had the best of intentions--replenish my staple products and then walk away but something happened and I walked away with two products containing petrolatum, an ingredient I tend to avoid like the plague.

Now this is not a review as I don't believe I can properly judge these two products as it has not yet even been a full week since I have been using them. This is just a "preliminary thoughts post" which should help me monitor the effect of these two products on my hair.

I will start with the ORS Olive Oil Incredibly Rich Moisturizing Lotion. This lotion is extremely thick and creamy and a little goes a long way. I use it at nights and I moisturise the entire length of my hair with it. Coconut oil is high on the listing of ingredients; in fact it is the 2nd ingredient so I have not been using my usual sealant of coconut oil. I have used it every night since I purchased it, so about 5 days of usage. It definitely keeps my hair feeling moisturised. My new growth feels soft and manageable. No problems thus far.

The second product I have been using the the ORS HAIRepair Intense Moisture Creme. I use this on the last 3 inches of my hair. I am in Operation BSL mode which means that I am focusing on both growth and length retention. Regarding length retention, I have decided to moisturise my ends twice a day. My night moisturising routine takes care of the entire length of my hair and the mornings are just for the ends as my hair is too fine to handle twice daily moisturising from root to ends. Once again, this product contains petrolatum. It is the fourth ingredient, listed right after coconut oil. I am also not sealing when I use this product. The Creme has a thinner consistency than the Olive Oil lotion. So far, so good. My ends seem to really love it.

I plan on revisiting this post in a month's time to determine whether I shall stick with this regimen or if I will need to tweak it a bit.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Operation BSL

Although I have not officially claimed APL, (I probably will do so after my next texlax at the end of June) I have have been thinking about my next goal which is BSL. BSL is a length I reached in mid-2010 but was unable to hold onto it due to the failure to retain my ends.

There is a 4.5 inch span between APL and grazing BSL for me. I consider grazing to be touching the top of my bra strap. I will consider myself full BSL when my hair reaches to the bottom of the bra strap. If my hair were to grow at the average rate of 0.5 inches per month, then my hair should take 9 months to grow to that length, barring any setbacks. I believe my growth rate is more than average, but I am still going to give myself 9 months to reach BSL. My plan is therefore to be grazing BSL by February 2013. It will take me another 2.5 inches to be full BSL. My goal for that will be July 2013, if I stick with the 0.5 inches a month rate of growth.

In order to get to BSL, in addition to my regular hair regimen, I pledge to:-

- Remember to take my daily multivitamin
I already eat a very healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables yet I believe a multivitamin is still important as foods are not as rich in nutrients as they were 100 years ago. A multivitamin is therefore good to include even if you eat your daily share of red, green, yellow/orange and blue/purples fruits and vegetables.

- Continue eating carrots
I have come across other anecdotal evidence of carrot juice being important for hair growth. Traycee from K.I.S.S. did a post on drinking carrot juice as well as Nadege from Relaxed Hair Health. The ladies from the LHCF also had a thread on increased growth from carrot juice. I noticed the effects of carrots on my own. I was eating lots of carrots to give my body extra Vitamin A in the hopes of curing my skin woes and noticed the side effect was increased growth. I eat carrots rather than juicing them.

- Moisturise and seal my ends twice daily
 I have very fine hair which gets weighed down very quickly, so moisturising the length of my hair twice daily is out of the question. I will instead moisturise and seal the last three inches of my hair in the morning and the entire length in the night. 

-Dust my hair once a month
I am not going to deny it. Sometimes I forget to dust my hair. I am vowing to spend a few hours on the first Saturday each month going through my hair and dusting any split ends I see. If I do this every month then I should eliminate any splits from worsening or snagging on the health ends. This should help me avoid any major trims during the next 9 months.

Operation BSL is in full swing. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

ORS is forcing me back to my product junkie ways

ORS and their new products. I love ORS but with all the new products out there it is really difficult to decide what to use and it is even more difficult to resist the temptation and buy their new products just to test them out.

I have already tried the ORS HAIRepair Nourishing Conditioner, and did a review of it and a comparison of it with the ORS Replenishing Pack, so I knew it to be a good line of products. So when I came across the cremes from the HAIRepair line I decided to try the Intense Moisturise Creme.

What I did not notice at the store was that the product has petrolatum which is an ingredient I have been trying to avoid since I began my hair journey. Now I know there is a debate about petrolatum and whether it harms or helps the hair. There has been many a lady on her hair journey who grew her hair out and retained her length while using petrolatum and found that this ingredient was not a hindrance to her hair goals. Then there are others who avoid it like the plague; me being one of them.

I also ended up getting another hugely popular ORS product which also contains petrolatum, the ORS Olive Oil Incredibly Rich Moisturising Lotion. I moisturised my hair with this product last night and I have to admit my hair feels pretty wonderful. I am not sure how it will feel after a week's use but we will see.

I would also like to purchase the HAIRepair Anti-Breakage Creme which I would probably use primarily on my ends.

I know that many persons insist we stay away from certain ingredients, but at the same time, a hair journey is a pretty personal one that is specific to your hair's needs. I know I have gone back to sulphate shampoos and haven't had any difficulty whereas in the past I was a hardcore sulphate-free user and ran into some problems because of it.

My goal is just to play it by ear and see how my hair feels. My hair usually tells me when it is happy or it is not happy.

Has anyone used any of these products? There seems to be very few reviews in the hair blogging community on these products.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Health before length: A matter of the chicken or the egg.

Time and time again I see a video or read a blog post of a lady who stretched their relaxer for x amount of weeks, who spoke about having a lot of new growth throughout the stretch and then after relaxing, realises her hair has hardly changed in terms of length since her last chemical process. She has done everything right during that stretch. She has deep conditioned religiously she has moisturised and sealed faithfully and she has done nothing but protective style during that stretch. She has therefore done everything and so she is convinced that nothing is wrong with her hair and her regimen. She declares that her hair is not getting longer, but that health is more important than length.

To me it really is a matter of the chicken or the egg. Does health come before length? Or should they come together. I can understand this in the first few months of a Hair Journey. Your hair is damaged and it needs to be nursed back to health. However, once you get health, you also need to be gaining some length. If you have not had any major setbacks and you have not been scissors happy, then you should see your hair getting longer.

I was there. I first hit APL in mid 2009 but by mid 2010, I was just a bit longer than APL. My hair was creeping along and I used all the excuses I have seen other girls use. My hair grows slowly. I have a long torso so it will take me a long time to get to BSL. I'm focusing on the health of my hair and length will eventually come. Had I realised that it should not take 2 years to grow 6 inches of hair, I would have recognised I was not retaining my length and would have done something about it. It was only when I noticed that cumulative effect of my breakage in 2011 did I have a wake up call.

Now I know everyone's hair grows at different rates but I think for those of us who have been at it for a while now need to pay more attention to retention of our ends. If you believe your hair grows 1/2 inch a month and you are retaining your length, then in 6 months your hair needs to have gotten longer by 3 inches, barring any minor/major trims. After a year, it should be longer by 6 inches. It is as simple as that. If after a year, your hair is almost the same length it was the year before, then something is wrong.

Here is a photo of my hair from the start of my journey in 2009 to the 1st quarter of 2010. You can see how it changed length significantly in 2009, but by 2010 things seem to be slowing down. My hair was not growing any slower than usual but retention of my length was becoming a problem due to PJism and testing out new products all the time.
Side Shots Jan 09 to Apr 10

I recommend everyone do progression shots so that they can indeed recognise whether they are retaining their length or not. You need to see your hair getting progressively longer as the months go by.

Monday, May 14, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

I received the One Lovely Blog Award from Shereen from WishfulLengths a couple of weeks ago, unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed preparing for my exams that I didn't have time to do it. It seems like everyone has already done this tag so I might have some difficulty finding 15 other ladies, but here goes!

Btw, you should definitely check out and follow Shereen's blog, if you haven't already.

So according to the rules of the award, I have to share 7 facts about myself and pass on the award to 15 other blogs.

Fact 1: I am in the last week of my 20s. Yes, I am 5 days shy of 30. I am both excited and terrified whenever I think about turning 30.

Fact 2: My favourite country in the world (other than my homeland of Trinidad and Tobago) is France. I spent two of my college semesters there learning French, in 2004 and 2005, respectively. I'd love to move there some day.

Fact 3: I can't sleep in the dark. I need to have a light on.

Fact 4: I am left handed. My sister and I were the only lefties in my family.

Fact 5: I love to read but not contemporary novels. My favourite novels were written centuries ago! My favourite novels are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Fact 6: My food addiction is a strange one. I am addicted to carrots. There was a study done a few years ago which found that carrots can be as addictive as cigarettes. That being said, I try to limit my intake to one or two a day as I don't intend to turn myself orange/yellow.

Fact 7: Although I live on an island, I cannot swim.

I tag the following ladies. Please disregard if you have already been tagged or done the tag. It proved a challenge to find someone who hasn't already done this tag,

The Awkward Stage
Fine Hair Sista
The Jen Chronicles
Shoulder Length and Beyond; A Hair Journey
Naija Hair Can Grow
My Hairlicious Ego
The Black Hair Diary

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Updates and length check

I texlaxed for the second time in 2012 on April 19th, however as I was in the middle of studying for very important exams I chose not to go through the entire process of flat ironing my hair. All I did was texlax, deep condition and airdry. Now that exams are over I can finally see how my hair has been progressing.

I can honestly say I am happy with my hair. I seem to be retaining my length pretty well. I am back to APL when I ensure that my hair lays flat against my back.

I have decided that I don't like this method of measuring as how often do I walk around holding my hair to my armpits? I would prefer for my hair to naturally lay at APL before I claim it. That's just my personal preference.

Of late I have been having issues with taking length check photos as my hair just won't cooperate. This is a photo taken this morning. I gave up trying to take photos last night. My hair was doing all sorts of crazy things. I  slept with my hair in a medium high bun. I know I should have wrapped it given the fact that I had stayed up to flat iron it, but to be honest, I was tired and could not be bothered. I am sort of leaning forward in this photo. It's not the greatest, but it is the best I have.

This next photo is of my hair after being moisturised with S-Curl and sealed with coconut oil. No matter what I do, I tend to be heavy handed with S-Curl, leaving me with somewhat damp strands. In spite of this, I am so in love with this moisturiser. It makes my hair feel amazing and I am seeing fewer short, broken off strands the more I use it. Hair is a bit damp in the picture, but I included it because you can see my hair is maintaining the blunt cut from January.

How do you ladies measure the length of your hair. Do you use the laying flat method or the naturally falling method?