Saturday, December 21, 2013

No, I'm not dead

Sorry I have been MIA for so long from the blog. I have been focusing my energies on things other than my hair of late. My major issue that has been occupying my time is my battle with chronic acne for the past decade. I developed acne at age 21 after escaping it during the teenage years. Ten years later and I have good years and bad years. My focus has been on treating it while at the same time no longer using prescription medication.

So on to the hair, I have not been neglecting my hair. I continue to care for it even though it has been a real struggle for me. Retention of my length is my major challenge. This leads me to believe that my regimen is not working and I am making some changes.

First of all, my beloved Nexxus Conditioner is not working for my hair anymore. Nexxus went and changed the formula and my hair HATES it. I am still seeking out the perfect conditioner that both provides the right mix of protein and moisture at the same time.

I am also doing what helped me to get to grazing BSL in the early days of my journey-using glycerin based moisturisers. I had a love-hate relationship with S-Curl so I opted to try Care Free Curl and I must say, I am in love with it. I moisturise with it and seal with shea butter and I have seen a drastic reduction in breakage. I am currently in the middle of a stretch and will do a proper update sometime in January when I texlax my hair.

Sometimes I feel a bit down when I think of where my hair could/should be after all these years on my hair journey and then I remembered, I told God I wanted waist length hair on my wedding day. So maybe I will make WL when I texlax my hair just before my wedding day. After all, I am still single and given that I have a short torso, if I could get my hair back on track, I could go from APL to WL in about a year. So maybe it's not my time yet for either one of those things. Wouldn't that be funny. God does have a sense of humour after all . . .

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Texlaxing at 7 weeks post

Every now and then I break the rules. This time I am forced to relax my hair at 7 weeks post. This is a shot of my new growth at 6 weeks post. My next texlaxer will be done next week Saturday.

I would like to relax every 10 to 12 weeks but sometimes my new growth makes it difficult to keep to this goal. I must say that I have noticed a tremendous growth spurt since my last relaxer. The only new thing I have added to my regimen is peppermint oil. I mix about 2 teaspoons into my conditioner and oil mix. It tingles while I am deep conditioning and also while I am rinsing. Could it be that this tingling is improving circulation in my scalp and therefore encouraging growth?

I also plan to start posting length checks from this next texlaxer. I stopped taking length check photos as I was always tempted to cut my hair into a blunt shape and because of this my length has not changed in the past year. However, I have vowed not to cut until at least December 2013.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Taking a walk down memory lane

I decided to log into my Fotki and was looking at the first year of my hair journey when everything was going well and my hair was growing like a weed.

My hair had gone from this in January 2009

to this in July 2009 (terrible posture pic lol)

to this is in January 2010

That was pretty amazing growth for just one year. My regimen was extremely complicated at that time:

Regimen as detailed on my fotki in May 2009:

Relax every 12 weeks minimum, my last stretch was 13 weeks, my next is 14. I will be adding an additional week until I stretch to 16 weeks.

Clarify every 6 weeks with ORS Aloe Shampoo mixed with coconut oil and VO5 Moisture Milks Strawberries and Cream Conditioner

ORS Hair Mayonnaise DC and Garnier Fortifying Deep Conditioner every 6 weeks and week before relaxer

Wednesdays and Saturdays or Sundays

Pre-poo with my Coconut oil, rosemary, peppermint oil infusion (15 minutes with shower cap under hooded dryer)

Co-wash with VO5 Moisture Milks Strawberries and Cream Conditioner

Deep Condition with Garner Fructis "Moisture Works" and "Strength and Repair" Fortifying Conditioners, and 1 teaspoon each of Wheat Germ Oil, Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil and Olive Oil (20 minutes with shower cap under hooded dryer) 

On Saturdays I add the ORS Pak to the mix as my light protein I part my hair into small sections and apply my conditioner from root to tip

Apply Leave in conditioner: NTM Silk Touch Leave In, Motions Nourish Leave In, IC Olive Moisturizing Shine Serum, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil and roller set hair

Dry hair under hooded dryer

From Week 8 I use small rollers and dry under the hooded dryer to straighten my new growth without using direct heat

Since I have been washing my hair twice a week, my hair does not need moisturising every day. I do it every other day and use ORS Carrot oil and seal with coconut oil or Wave Nouveau and seal with coconut oil. 

If I don't plan on going out, then I won't use the dryer. I will prepoo and DC with a regular shower cap and a foil cap and airdry my hair in rollers

I don't use any products with mineral oil or petroleum. I only use boar bristle brushes. I only comb my hair once a day in the morning with a wide tooth comb without sharp ends. I sleep in a satin bonnet with my hair in a loose bun or sometimes in 4 bantu knots when I want loose waves in my hair

Protective Styles every day except Saturday nights (date night)

No hair accessories with metal parts (I love the Goody Ouchless hair elastics)

It was both time consuming and expensive but my results were undeniable. In 2010, I began having issues and my length did not change very much. 2011 and 2012 were just off years for me and I cut my hair to shoulder length so many times. It's only now in August 2013 that I am happy with my hair. I want to see progress but I cannot be a slave to my hair.

I am trying to grow my hair using a bare bones regimen that involves only one wash per week.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My pH experiment

I have been doing a lot of research about pH and relaxed hair and I think it is something I have left out of my regimen. My focus has been on moisture and protein balance and while this is important, I think pH balance is also essential.

From now on I am going to try and balance the two. I will invest in test strips and figure out the pH of my staple products. From my online research, products that are usually in the ideal range for hair tend to contain citric acid.

My Nexxus conditioner which I love has citric acid. Most of my moisturisers do not contain any citric acid. Of all my leave-ins, only my Elasta QP Mango Butter leave in and my Garnier Anti Breakage contain any citric acid.

 I bought a bottle of Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth Split End Protector and it contains citric acid. According to the MSDS sheet, it has a pH of 4.5-6.0. I am attempting to use this as my moisturiser for the week to see how my hair responds to it. I used it tonight and I must admit I love it! I actually love how my hair feels. I left my hair out today and it is not dry, my strands feel so smooth. I guess my cuticles are probably laying flat.

This is just a quick post as I am trying to document how my hair feels this week to determine whether acid is the way to go. I definitely need to buy pH strips so that I am more scientific in my approach. However, for now, I am going with how my hair feels and it currently feels amazingly soft and well moisturised.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Do you pay any attention to the pH of products?

The pH of products has never been of particular concern to me except for relaxer day. I know that relaxers are very alkaline products and that neutralising shampoo is extremely important to bring your hair back to its ideal pH.

I relaxed my hair two weeks ago and I neutralised as usual. The following week I washed my hair using my Nexxus Shampoo and deep conditioned with the Nexxus Humectress conditioner. I was feeling lazy so I airdried my hair. I forgot to apply leave ins and was not happy with how my hair felt. So the next day I washed it again but this time I didn't have my shampoo on hand and used what I had in the bathroom which was my ORS Professional Neutralising Shampoo. I followed up with my regular conditioner and when I roller set my hair, it felt as if I had relaxed my hair that day. That fresh relaxer look usually disappears for me after that first wash. My hair also kept that look for the entire week. My hair felt moisturised for days after my wash. 

For my 2nd week post relaxer wash, I decided to also shampoo with the Neutralising Shampoo.  I airdried my hair this time and then flat ironed. Again, my hair felt like I had relaxed on that day. The experience got me thinking about why a neutralising shampoo would have such an effect on my hair and the only answer I could come up with is that it has to be something about the pH.

I was inspired to start researching about pH. I found that hair should have a pH of 4.5 and 5.5. Products that keep our hair in that range are therefore best for our hair. According to the Science of Black Hair, we should work down in acidity, ending with the most acidic products as this seals our cuticle and makes our hair smoother. I know understand why some girls do a ACV rinse and it has a pH of about 4 when it is diluted.

According to the Science of Black Hair we should be using a shampoo, a conditioner and a moisturiser that are all pH balanced.  

This is something I am going to be looking more into. Do any of you ladies pay attention to the pH of your products?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Oh my hair

So earlier this year my goal was to grow out all of my hair to the same length. Everything was going well until I decided to try ponytail flexi rod sets overnight. I parted my hair down the middle and did two ponytails at the middle of my head and used flexi rods so I could get curls in the morning. I did this for a week and then when deep conditioning during the weekend, I realised the ends of the front section of my hair had broken off.

I am tempted to cut off some of my hair to try and even the look but then  I realised I have been cutting my hair consistently since July 2011-no wonder my hair has not gone past APL. I was focused on growing out and cutting off damage, then I stopped texlaxing my hair 70% and began doing it 50% and I cut off the straighter ends. I cut off about 6 inches this year alone! 

I am thinking of just letting my hair be, let it do its own thing. No more flexi rod sets, at least not overnight and no more cuts. I think it might be best to just let my hair grow until December and then decide what to do with my hair. I will be on my hair journey for 5 years come 2014 and it's time to see some definite changes in length.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Someone got scissors happy

I cut my hair! Well not all of my hair. I cut the middle and back sections; I cut about 4 inches in total from the back and the middle. My hair is now basically the same length which is about 3 inches away from APL. It seems short to me, but I am not panicking (too much). I have realised it takes almost no time for my hair to go from SL to APL, so I will be full APL before the end of the year.

I am now focused on gaining length. I know it's an odd statement to make after a 4 inch cut but my focus since 2012-2013 was growing out the front and middle sections to make them meet up with the back. I was going to wait to even it out, but I was in the mood to cut and I am happy with the results.

I didn't take any photos as I have no batteries for my camera. I keep forgetting to charge my rechargeable ones. Anyway, if you were to look at the photo below from my February touch up, you can see that the front section of my hair came down to just my shoulders. It is now 3 inches away from APL and so I decided to get rid of the rest of the hair. The middle and back sections had to go anyway, I was just prolonging the inevitable.

My only goals right now are to keep my hair healthy and to focus on growing out my hair. No more cuts are necessary. From my next relaxer, I will be doing proper length checks showing my hair from the back. I was focusing on side shots for the past year because I needed to monitor how my short areas were growing out. Now that it's all even, it is no longer my focus.

I am currently 4 weeks post relaxer. I plan on relaxing in the next 6 weeks at 10 weeks post. My short term goal is APL and by December 2013, I am aiming for BSB.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Relaxer day is tomorrow and other musings

Tomorrow is relaxer day. I will be 10 weeks post on Monday, so I am relaxing just a few days shy of it, but I am about ready to end this stretch. My goal is also to wear my hair out on Monday when I go to work. My silk shirt is ready so there will be no need for paranoia regarding me causing damage to my ends.

It is sad but I have forgotten how to do my hair when it is down and out. I think I have been too obsessed with gaining length that I have forgotten to enjoy my hair as is. I remember in my pre hair journey days, I would always leave my hair out. Protective style was not even in my vocabulary. In those days, my hair was extremely short. We are talking not even grazing my shoulder. I would sleep in magnetic rollers every night and look cute every morning.

Unfortunately, I have gone to the other extreme. Nothing is wrong with a bun, in fact, I love a bun. Variety, however, is the spice of life and I no longer want to look the same every day. I want to transform. I got braces in February, at the age of 30 and as I see my smile transforming, I feel as if I am also transforming. It is a wonderful feeling to smile and not feel self conscious about it. It is so freeing. It also make me think about the other things in life and on my person that I am self conscious about. If it is possible to fix those things, such as my little bit of belly fat, I am going to do it. If, however, there are things I cannot reasonably fix, I will  make an effort to let it all go. Life is too short to think about enjoying it when you have all your ducks lined up in a row. I will leave my hair out when I get to MBL was my refrain. Here I am 4 years after my hair journey began and I am just past APL. Who knows if I will have another setback. When will I enjoy the fruits of my labour?

So yes, I know I will feel a bit strange on Monday. I was thinking of easing myself into it with a half up, half down hairstyle and take it from there.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Time to start living in the moment (and wearing my hair out)

A few months ago I said I would start wearing my hair out. A few months later, I never even wore it out once. I am terrified of another set back or slowing down my retention so I keep my hair bunned at all times. I am now so tired of this and it is time to wear my hair out.

My goal is to buy about 5 silk tops that are washable by hand (a huge dry cleaning bill is not my thing). I am going try to accumulate a few of them this month so that I can start wearing my hair out more often from my birthday in May onward.

My purchases so far from White House Black Market

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I got both of these on sale and I am really excited. I ordered them online and CANNOT wait for them to arrive.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I didn't think it possible: laid down edges

I have struggled with my edges since before my hair journey days. My problem wasn't so much breakage as it was that nothing would lay down my edges. I tried just about everything until I stumbled across this product:

It contains olive, cactus and henna and can be used a both a conditioner and a styling cream. I love it. It lays my new growth and my edges down like nothing has ever done before and without making it hard like a gel. It is amazing and my new love. I'll be purchasing a few more containers and adding it to my stash.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New growth at 6 weeks

Here is a shot of my new growth at 6 weeks. I will be relaxing in 9 weeks time. I will probably have twice this amount of growth by then. I will admit my growth has slowed significantly. With my braces, it has really been difficult eating and I don't eat any raw fruits and vegetables again. I can only have them in smoothies.

My growth at 6 weeks pre-braces.

Oh well, at least I am doing short term braces and be done in less than 6 months. Then I can go back to my healthy diet and maximise on my growth. 

I am still alive

My posts are no longer regular. I have been so busy with work and other things in my life which have taken all of my free time and left very little time for hair blogging. I am still taking care of my hair. I just don't have the time to document it properly.

Here are the only two photos I took of my hair when I relaxed in February. I can't remember how many weeks post I was when I last relaxed. I didn't take a lot of photos on that day as I had just recently gotten braces and was too uncomfortable to do much.

I relaxed my hair and then blow-dried it straight. I didn't bother to flat iron. I cross wrapped it and the next morning took this photo. I feel like my shorter pieces are finally growing out which is something I am really happy about. I may choose to stop cutting the back at this point and let the back section reach BSB and stay at that length until the front of my hair reaches that length.

Here's a shot of what my hair looked like in June 2012:

The back section of my hair hasn't changed significantly in length during the past year as I kept cutting it while allowing the front to grow out. I am really excited about the change in the health of my hair. I really struggled in 2011/2012 with my hair and things have really started to go well. 

My goal for September 2013 is blunt BSB hair. The back of my hair is just an inch away from BSB (and will probably be at that length by my next relaxer), the rest now ranges in length from a little past SL to APL (except for my permanent bang area which remains a struggle for me). Looking at old photos, I realised I was able to grow out that section, so I will focus on doing that again. 

I will give myself another six months to get to BSL which is the same as MBL for me as I have a short torso. 
I hope to be at BSL/MBL in March 2014 and once I get to that length, WL is just 3 inches away, so the goal is WL by September 14. If I can only make it to blunt BSB by September, then I will be on my way to meeting my other goals.

My next relaxer will be on May 18th.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Time for my monthly post

It really does seem like I only post once or twice a month these days. The truth is I have grown a bit weary of my hair. Well, not exactly, I still love my hair but it's the texlaxed hair that has been getting on my nerves. When I started self relaxing, I ended up with a 70%  relaxed result. I was really happy with it. In 2012, I found that the ORS relaxer gives me only a 50% relaxed result. I usually wash it out the moment I feel my hair begin to break down as I did in the past, but now, the result is not as straight. I am thinking that ORS changed their formula.

So what do I do? I have ends that are texlaxed but still straighter than the rest of my hair. I would hate to do a corrective on my hair and I can't start relaxing it straighter because then I'd have too many textures, I would probably look crazy, especially if I attempted to airdry. I must admit though I am in love with the 50% straight section. Now that it's been a year since my relaxers have been turning out this way, my hair in the section seems so thick. I love it especially when I compare it to my ends which are now thinner in comparison.

I have no intention of cutting my hair. The difference in texture makes my ends look terrible, but they have maintained the blunt cut, so I know it's not breakage. I will be holding onto the straighter ends for a bit. I need to reach BSL this year. Once I do, I can begin cutting off the straighter ends, but until then I'll be dealing with new growth, 50% texlaxed hair and 70% texlaxed hair.

Oh and by the way relaxer day is next week Saturday! I believe I will be 11 weeks by then.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I just don't have time for that

When I first began my hair journey in 2009, I jumped on every bandwagon, tried every new method/ technique, bought almost every popular product until I realised it was just too costly both in time and money. Here are some of the things I no longer include in my regimen:

Sulphate Free Shampoos:  These just don't work for me. My hair gets build up very easily and sulphate free just doesn't clean my hair sufficiently. My sulphate shampoos do not dry my hair out.

Pre-poos/Deep conditioning on dry hair: I tried pre-pooing and I found no real difference in the results when I did not do it. Also I don't really like the idea of deep conditioning on dry, dirty hair.

Mixing conditioner: Back in the day I would mix 2-3 conditioners with 2-3 different oils. It wasn't necessary and I no longer do this. One quality conditioner is enough.

Baggying my ends: At this stage, I really cannot be bothered. I moisturise and seal daily and this seems to be enough for me.

Tea Rinses:  I have a box of black tea sitting in my kitchen cupboard. I rarely used it. It was such a bother to brew the tea and sometimes I would brew it and forget to use it.

ACV Rinses: I cut these out as well. I think I can bring my hair back to its right pH after relaxing by using neutralising shampoo.

Supplements galore: At one point I was taking both silicia and MSM. Right now I limit my supplements to a multivitamin and cod liver oil which I take primarily for my skin. I have a healthy diet with enough protein, fruits and vegetables. Nothing else is necessary for me.

Air drying: No matter what method I try, my texlaxed hair goes all Diana Ross on me. I'm not a fan of that look on me and so I give up. I prefer roller setting my hair. If I am to air dry, I will air dry in rollers.

Jamaican Black Castor Oil: I was rubbing this in my scalp religiously to accelerate growth. Did it work? Perhaps, but not better than a healthy diet.

I am keeping it simple in 2013. This year I want to try and use my stash of products. Who needs 5 different leave ins, 3 serums and 4 or 5 different moisturisers?

What are some of the methods or techniques you have removed from your regimen?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 2013 starting point

Happy New Year!
Today was a busy day. I both blow dried and flat ironed my hair for a length check.

Here is my starting point in 2013.

The change in my ponytail between February 2012 and today January 1st 2013.

My hair between August 2012 to January 2013: side shot

I didn't really like the shots of my hair from the back. As you can see in this photo, my ends need a trim. I will trim and take some back shots, which I will post later.

This is a quick update as I don't have a lot of time today to do a detailed blog post. One will follow later with my goals for 2013 and my thoughts on my hair's progress.