Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 2012 updates

I texlaxed my hair one day shy of 9 weeks post and everything went well. I noticed my new growth seemed thicker than usual yet the front of my hair texlaxed in about 15 minutes rather than the 18 minutes it usually takes. The back of my hair took less than 10 minutes as usual. The difference in the texture between front and back remains although the front is changing.

I took about 1/2 inch off the ends of the back of my hair as I was not too happy about their appearance (more about that later). Here is my comparison between my February length shot and my June length shot. I am getting closer to APL. My hair is at APL when I stretch it, but I am choosing not to claim it until my hair naturally falls to that level. I am guessing maybe it will be there by August or September.

View of my front.

Now to my ends. I am not that thrilled about the appearance of the ends of my hair. I was tempted to give more than the 1/2 inch trim but I prevented myself from doing this for one main reason. If you look at the photo of my hair from the side then you will see that all of my hair is not one length. The hair from the front when it is combed back reaches to the level of my shoulder. The hair from the back sections are closer to APL. My entire head of hair is not one length. It is at its thickest up until it reaches SL.

This is something I will eventually want to address, but I don't think it is necessary to take drastic action at this point. I think I will cut off 1/2 with each texlaxer until the front grows out and catches up and reaches APL. I think it will definitely help with the appearance of thickness of my very fine hair.

2012 is the year for me to get my hair back on track and sort out my issues from last year and I believe that things are going well. I am going to adjust my hair goals for the rest of the year. I do want length, but I want the appearance of my hair to be pleasing as well.

I think it will take another six month to grow the front of my hair to APL, so that is my new goal for this year.  I will focus on BSL/MBL and WL next year.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quick update and future plans

I cut my hair, well the back of it. I cut off over an inch from the back. I didn't touch the front at all because I am working on growing it out. I hope by December that my hair will look similar to the haircut sported by Alicia Keys. It appears that she has a blunt APL which is something I definitely want.

To get to this point, I need to focus on the front area of my hair which is an area that struggles to retain its length. The back I will keep cutting while the middle and the front grow to catch up. My temple area is finally retaining length. During my last two stretches I was able to see both new growth and relaxed ends, when in the past it would completely break off, leaving only new growth. However, this area is still a weak area and it only about 2-3 inches in length.

I also have a short patch about two inches back, from temple to temple. This has always been a trouble area for me. I cut it recently into side bangs, but never really wore the bangs. I realise that once my new growth starts to show, wearing my bangs was impossible without using direct heat, so I gave up on that idea. I am now growing out that area. This area now reaches to the level of my upper jaw.

In addition to this bang area, I found a short patch of hair on the right hand side which reaches just to the level of bottom of my ear. I don't know where that came from, I must have had some breakage which I failed to notice back in 2011. I don't expect the front section to reach APL by December 2012, by my hope is that it will be SL by December.

The middle of my hair has no problem spots and when brushed back is about an inch past SL. I will keep trimming the back with each texlaxer until the middle area grows out and reaches APL. I believe this will help with the thickness of my hair. I know I can grow the middle out to APL by December. The back is still a few inches longer than the rest of my hair. I am not too keen on cutting any more until I get a bit more growth.

Once I even everything out, I will then focus my attention on reaching BSL and beyond in 2013.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I relaxed (texlaxed)

I finally did it and I am exhausted. It is such a lengthy process. I didn't bother with taking too many photos as I am tired. I did my ponytail comparison although I am not so sure if I am happy with the ends of my hair in the June 2012 pic. They are definitely not as blunt as they were in February but at least my hair is getting longer. I wrapped my hair and so I am done for the night. Hopefully I will have better photos tomorrow.

This is what my ponytail looked like in December 2009, the most successful year of my hair journey. I hope to get back to this length and thickness this year. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ending the stretch

My name is now Miss Indecision as I have gone back and forth about continuing my stretch for the past few weeks. To be honest it has been a struggle for me and I actually sit down and weigh the pros and cons of stretching and relaxing every 8 weeks. I know why stretching is important: it prevents the creation of too many weak points along the hair strand and it prevents thin ends due to relaxer run-off.

If I were to relax more often I know I would be creating more weak points along the length of my hair but there has been many a lady able to grow her hair long, and arguably strong, while relaxing every 6 to 8 weeks. This is a fact. Some have good enough growth after such a short period to enable them to relax that often.

My next concern is thinning ends due to relax run off. I decided to search on the LHCF to see what ladies who are seniors in the hair care world do to protect their ends. I found a thread from 2005 and found some interesting tips.

Besides the usual response of applying oil or conditioner to the ends of the hair, I found the suggestion of applying a layer of petroleum jelly on the ends after applying the relaxer and just prior to rinsing. The reasoning behind it being that it would be difficult to separate the hair while relaxing if you applied it beforehand. Another suggestion is the apply neutralising shampoo to the previously relaxed ends. I plan on trying both of these tips. I will apply the neutralising shampoo to my previously relaxed ends while relaxing and then add a layer of petroleum jelly just before rinsing my hair.

Finally, I know I have been going back and forth on the issue but it hit me today while reading a post from another relaxed lady. She was talking about styling your hair and enjoying it along the journey rather than waiting until you get to your ultimate goal to then focus on making it cute. It resonated with me because I am not enjoying my journey and when am I going to start enjoying it? Protective styling is not my issue because I have done so many cute buns and updos and I feel like I enjoy my hair when it is able to be coiffed. However, since this year began and my growth rate increased I have begun to feel like my hair is no longer attractive past 6 weeks post. I have difficulty getting my new growth to lay down and as I don't intend to fight with my new growth so I let it win and do whatever it wants. My new growth seems thicker than ever and I am ashamed to admit it, but I leave the house sometimes looking a bit unkempt. That's not fun and I am tired of it. Hair should be enjoyed and I am not enjoying it. It requires so much of my time, money and effort that I should be reaping the results. I don't just want long hair, I want long, attractive hair.

So my stretch ends this week. I will be relaxing this Thursday at 9 weeks post and 8 weeks post relaxer thereafter. Time to enjoy my hair. This is my final decision. Next blog post will be my relaxer progress pics, I promise.

Taking it one week at a time: Week 9

I have just completed Week 8 of my stretch and I am 3 days into Week 9. My gosh! I can no longer comb my hair. Literally all I can do is wash my hair, detangle under the shower, moisturise and seal and cross wrap it while it is still damp. It is dry the next morning, my ends are straight and my new growth lays flat for about a day. By the time it starts getting out of control, I wash it once more. I am rocking it the way it is. I can't do anything else.

My goal is to stretch for 12 weeks but at this point I am just taking it one week at a time. If my hair was not fine, I would so relax right now.

I hope you can tell the difference between my airdried texlaxed strands and my new growth. My new growth does not have the shine of my texlaxed strands and appears denser in the photo. If you notice, then you will see why I am experiencing my current difficulties. This is what I have grown in 8 weeks which is unbelievable to me. Just a year or two ago, I didn't have half of this growth at 10 weeks. These are photos of the back of my hair which has a looser texture than the front.

I can see my hair is growing, let's hope I am retaining the ends of my hair.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Still stretching

Yup, that's right. After all the back and forth on the matter I have decided to continue stretching. My hair is just too fine to handle 8 week stretches. I am currently 8 weeks post and I am going to try and stretch until 12 weeks. I still have a lot of new growth to contend with so I know it is not going to be easy but I am going to try it. I am not stretching to prevent overlap because if that were my only concern, I could relax tomorrow as I definitely have enough new growth to prevent that. My main concern is relaxer run off and the role it could play in thinning my already fine hair. I really want to limit the number of times my previously relaxed ends are exposed to a relaxer. Waist Length is my ultimate goal and I really want to keep my ends as thick as they can possibly be and I just can't do that if I relax too often. 

I may increase the frequency at which I relax once I reach my ultimate goal and I am in maintenance mode. After all, at that point I will be cutting my hair with each touch up to maintain my length at WL. Right now I have other concerns so I will relax every 12 weeks without fail. 

There are a few things I have changed to help my stretch. Firstly, I bought S-Curl to help tame my roots. I had been revisiting S-Curl earlier this year and realised that while I don't like using it along the entire length of my hair, it is actually amazing for new growth.

I also discovered a product that helped to tame my edges. It's the VIA Natural Pom-Edge Gel. It's a pomade and an edge gel combined into one. Edge gels do help to lay my edges flat, but unfortunately they break off my edges, made very sensitive due to years of braiding. Now it has petrolatum in it, but I've decided not to be so picky when it comes to that ingredient as I have realised that my hair does not actually hate it. I tried it today and it did a really good job so I think I have a winner here, unless it also makes my edges fall out. 

Another thing I am doing to help my stretch my hair is to wash my hair three times a week. I shampoo my hair with each wash as I find my hair gets product build up very easily. I am also not really a fan of cowashing. Two of the three washes will be followed by deep conditionings and the third one will be a shampoo and regular condition wash day. 

From next week the plan is to shampoo and deep condition on Mondays and Fridays and do a shampoo and regular condition on Wednesdays. I did a trial shampoo and regular condition today with the Pantene Pro-V Relaxed and Natural line and I love how my hair and new growth feels. I plan to detangle my hair only in the shower under running water. I will also take a break from roller setting for now and airdry my hair in a cross wrap. 

The next few weeks may be tough but I am going to do it. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

What is the bare minimum for a relaxer stretch?

I know, I know, my last couple of posts have been about heading back to the land of the short relaxer stretches. My intention was to hold out for 12 weeks, or 10 if push came to shove, so please ask me why I am on the LCHF looking at threads dealing with ladies who relax every 6 to 8 weeks? Yes, it's on my mind and I cannot shake it.

It is on my mind. I took out my cornrows to wash my hair and the same frustration I have been dealing with is there again. On the one hand, I recognise that I have a sufficient amount of new growth to prevent excessive overlapping of my relaxer (it is actually impossible to prevent overlap; you overlap when you smooth your relaxer) and yet, on the other hand I am torn as too frequent relaxing can cause thinning of the ends due to relaxer run-off. Therein lies my dilemma.

I am at the point where I just want to give in, throw in the towel and do my touch up. I feel like throwing caution to the wind. It could be due to the fact that I am tired of meeting the demands of my hair. I've been on my hair journey since January 2009 so we are talking close to 3 1/2 years, almost 200 weeks of washing my hair twice weekly. In all the time I have been on my journey, I must have missed 2 or 3 washes. I am back to my 2009 length, so I have nothing to really show (except photos) for all those years of effort, not to mention money spent. I am tired of always having to deal with two textures of hair. I just need a change.

So I am back to my original decision. I will be texlaxing at 8 weeks post. It seems to be the bare minimum period recommended for stretching your relaxer, the ideal being 10-12 weeks post. I swear though, if I stretch anymore my frustration with my new growth may lead to me taking extreme measures such as hacking off my texlaxed ends and rocking a TWA. However, given the fact that I don't think such a short cut would do anything to enhance my features, I am going to go down the route of more frequent relaxing. I am not really interested in being natural at this point in my life, I am just tired of the two textures.

So gasp if you must, I am in shock myself but there we have it. Hopefully I am not going to be blogging a few months from now rueing my decision. In any case even if I do regret it, I know I can always grow it back  After all if I went from SL to APL in about 6 months (even past APL in some areas), it's really not impossible to do it all over again. After all, it is just hair and it should not be frustrating me the way it has been of late.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No self control

I had no intention of buying anything hair related today but alas, something caught my eye. Have you ladies ever seen the Scunci Bendini Clips? They are so cute and have no sharp ends (I run my finger along all edges of hair accessories before purchasing).

Here the video for the clips:

and a photo of the one I purchased today:

I am thinking it would look great with a Southern Tease Bun.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hair of the Day

Yesterday I put the front of my hair in canerows/cornrows to help continue my stretch and so I thought I would do a quick "hair of the day" post to show a hairstyle. Last night I incorporated the ends of the canerows into the 5 bantu knots I put in at the back of my hair. This morning I took the bantu knots out and did a quick updo. I twisted the sides and then pinned up the rest of my hair.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I think I can, I think I can

I was definitely frustrated earlier this week with having to deal with the two textures of my hair. I had made the decision to throw in the towel and relax at 8 weeks, but the more I think about it, I really do not want to cause any set backs and relaxing every 8 weeks is really a lot to me. I do have extremely fine hair and this is probably not the wisest of decisions.

I have therefore decided to try and stretch until Week 12. That means I have 6 weeks left. In order to do this, I have returned to my old, trusty friend. I call them "canerows" as I am from the Caribbean although most people know them as "cornrows".

I suppose I have always been a stretcher ever before I knew what the term was. When I was a teenager, my mom would only let me get a relaxer at the beginning of each new school term. This meant that I usually stretched about 3 months. I was a big fan of cornrowing/canerowing my own hair especially when my new growth began to kick in. Although I never deep conditioned and thought using Pink Oil Moisturiser was adding moisture to my hair, I never had any breakage at the line of dermarcation. My major issue was the breakage of my ends.

Today I parted my hair from ear to ear and then made a zig-zag parting which was slightly off centre and then canerowed/cornrowed my hair. I do see some areas that I could have been parted better, but I haven't done this style in over 7 years, so it's not too bad for my first attempt. At least I do not have to deal with poofy hair and will not need to manipulate my hair during this stretch. I didn't do anything to the back of my hair. I will do a bantu-knot out updo with the back of my hair. I plan on trying to maintain the style for a week. I will moisturise and seal daily, shampoo and condition once a week and rebraid after each wash. I hope this should help me to stretch to at least 12 weeks.