Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Looking good versus being healthy

Hola there everyone.

Is anyone looking forward to the long weekend as much as I am? I dare ya to be as excited as I am! Not as if I actually have things planned, except RESTING and being lazy. I'm taking a mini vacation - going to my childhood home, visiting my parents and actually resting and recharging my soul and tired bones. I'm also looking forward to actually showing to my doubtful mother how successful in my journey I have been thus far.

As I told y'all on Monday, I will be protective styling for the week, up and till I get twists installed and go into intensive long term protective styling mode. I am more than 17 weeks post and I am working my damnest to make sure that I don't experience unnecessary breakage and shedding. Last night I braided my hair into 6 cornrows after moisturising with my Amla Legend 1001 Oils Wrap Cream and this morning I pinned up the resulting braidout.

As anyone can see, the kinks from the braid out isn't very pronounced, but my hair has a nice body and shine and my new growth is stretched and blended nicely with the relaxed length.

And that is what I want to talk about - today my hair IS healthy and it also LOOKS good. And up and till a few years ago I did not know the difference.

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

A million years ago, as a law student at the University of Stellenbosch, I lived in a res by the name of House Erica. We were about 190 young women living under the same roof, and this is where I had my first experience regarding true sincere female relationships. It is also here where I realised that I've got a bit of flair when it comes to hair styling. Within a matter of months I had my hands full styling my friends' hair. Nothing fancy, but I could do a roller set, a blow out and curls to the straightest of white girl hair. I knew how to make hair LOOK good. At the time though I had know idea how to keep hair HEALTHY. During this stage of my life my hair was relatively healthy though, but it sure as hell wasn't because I was consciously looking after it, it was a happy coincidence from soft water, a constant high humidity which kept my hair moisturised naturally, a tendency to only relax my hair during the holidays when I'm home with the folks (thus I was stretching without even knowing it) and the fact that I have roller set my hair religiously since I was a kid.

Today, after scouring the hair blogosphere, after researching countless articles on how to keep one's hair at its healthy peak, after embarking on my healthy hair journey, I know what I must do to keep my hair healthy, especially considering that me AND my hair are a bit older and the environment and climate I live in now is not as conducive to one's hair as that of the lovely Western Cape. I know now that healthy hair practically automatically looks good, but that a good looking style does not necessarily equal a healthy head of hair. I know now that one's hair doesn't have to be straightened to within an inch of death to look good. I know now that styling comes secondary to caring. And I know now that I am still able to style hair, but in a much healthier way. I wish that I knew of healthy practices consciously years ago. At the same time, thank God I know them now!!!

Tomorrow is a public holiday here in these parts and I'm heading home to my mama's house. I am going to drag her to the shops and show her what staple products I use on my hair. I will show her which ingredients in hair products are more harmful than others and I will explain to her why I do what I do when it comes to my hair. Just because one has walked the wrong road for a long time, does not mean that anyone or anything is preventing you from turning around and taking another road. That philosophy applies to life, and right now I'm applying it to my hair. Thank heavens that I turned around and started taking care of my hair in order to get it healthy. Because now, as it is HEALTHY, I don't have to stress about it looking good. Because the healthier the hair is, the less and less often does one experience a bad hair day.

So, what is anybody planning for the weekend? (Lol, yes, mine is starting in 2 hours!!!)

Be blessed, and happy growing!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The puff is real!

Well, hello there everybody.

Life is running away from me a little it, so I'm just quickly going to update y'all on my most recent wash days, how my hair feels to me and my plans for the immediate future.

I'm currently about 15 weeks post and people, my new growth is insane! The poof is real, and it's driving me a little crazy. At the same time, I'm not in the mood or ready to touch up. Don't ask me why, I don't know. What I do know is that I'm experiencing more demarcation line breakage that I'm comfortable with, so I am doing whatever I can do stop it in its tracks.

Here's a quick run down of my past three wash days:

Wash day before a wedding:

So, on the 19th of April I attended a friend's wedding. It was gorgeous in every way, from the table settings to the vows spoken by the bride and groom. The venue was also amazing, at a lodge outside of the city. Since my flat doesn't have a shower and only a bath I took advantage of the glorious shower in the chalet that I stayed in at the lodge. It has this massive shower head so it feels fantastic. I didn't prepoo based on lack of time between arriving at the lodge and the commencement of the ceremony. I shampooed using the generic tiny bottle of shampoo provided by the lodge, but I must say may hair didn't feel stripped in any way. Tangles were avoided despite being 14 weeks post at the time as I kept my hair straight from the week before and because DOWN pour of running water. I instant conditioned using L'oreal Elvive Triple Resist Conditioner and then deep conditioned using ORS HAIRepair Nourishing Conditioner for about 5-10 minutes, covering my hair with a shower cap whilst doing all the other things that need doing in a shower, which was blissful. After getting out of the shower I lightly towel dried my hair then applied my MoroccanOil leave in treatment and proceeded to roller set. My hair was so ridiculously soft, 14 weeks of new growth and all! (Note to self: buy more sachets of ORS HAIRepair Nourishing Conditioner - the hair likes it!) I then proceeded to dry my hair with my blow dryer on cool air and then straightened it with the iron, doing one quick pass to minimize the heat that touched the strands. My hair felt great and looked great. Unfortunately I was stupid enough to not pin it up, because at the end of the night, after MUCH dancing and sweating, I ended up French braiding it. It still felt good though, lol.

Wash day after a day of hiking and outdoor cooking:

The day after the wedding my other friends joined me at the lodge for a day of some quality time. We hiked a little around the dam, we played card games sprawled on the grass of our camp site and we put on a fire for the braai and potjie. Me and my friend Ashante also indulged in a bit of swimming, most probably our last for this summer season, as the weather is cooling down by the day. The plan was to keep my hair out of the water as we weren't "swimming" in the strict sense of the word, but were rather just frolicking and being silly. Inevitably though, we both ended up under water and hair soaked. When we left the pool I just did a quick rinse and then drenched my hair in the Elvive conditioner. We ended up chilling as a group till nice and late and I only got to taking care of my hair the next day. Being tired and VERY lazy what I ended up doing is drench my now dry hair in my Dark and Lovely deep conditioner and coconut oil, detangling gently as I went, losing very little hair. I wrapped my hair in multiple plastic caps and scarves to trap some heat and for the conditioner to do double time as prepoo and DC. After a few HOURS I got in the bath, just rinsed the DC, applied about cashew nut sized amount of shampoo to my scalp, my Elvive Conditioner and then my normal leave-ins and roller set. I think that was the closest I actually came to co-washing my hair. I straightened my roots again, because it is PUFF city!! I feel that the only way I can keep up with my routine is to make sure my roots are stretched. I then kept my hair like that for the week, mostly pinning it or wearing it in a pony tail.

The Wash day that I did not use any heat:

So, yesterday was washday, and I pretty much repeated what I did last weekend, except that I used more oil. I did my prepoo/dry DC using Gliss Ultimate Repair Mask with Liquid Keratine mixed with a LOT of coconut oil, as the mask itself has very little slip. I again used very little shampoo and used the Elvive conditioner again as instant conditioner. I applied my MoroccanOil Treatment and Avon 3D Rescue Leave-in Conditioner and then rollerset. Mistake nr 1 I made - too little shampoo. I realised whilst roller setting that my hair is actually a little oily still. But being tired and lazy (yes, that is my default setting!) I finished roller setting and then let my hair dry. When I removed the rollers my suspicions were confirmed - my hair was more oily. My roots felt great, they like it. My relaxed length  - not so much. I decided then to not straighten my roots and to see what happens. As a consequence I am in protective styling mode via 40's and 50's pin-up styles. Of course, my bangs are not pinned up, my bangs are my little security blanket, lol.

Foreseeable future:

As I said earlier, I don't feel like relaxing just yet. It's just a feeling, I don't know why, because I'm not ready for the transition to natural, that much I know. BUT my new growth is driving me nuts and I am scared of breakage. So I've decided that next week I will be getting twists as protective style for a good 4-6 weeks. I must just remember to tell the stylist to not install twists at my nape, since that hair broke off the last time I had twists installed and they're finally back to where they were before, so I must just continue to baby them. Until I have the twists installed next week I am going to continue wearing pin up styles, perhaps try goddess braids and try to figure out how to give my new growth and demarcation line the most love I can possibly give it.

So, ladies, how have your wash days been? Has anybody else had this "I don't feel like relaxing, yet my new growth is killing me" phase?

The Wash Day Experience

Happy Monday everybody! And happy growing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fitting it in between Grey's Anatomy and Scandal

Hello there everybody

Trust everyone had a splendid week and that it's just getting better. Easter is approaching and I also trust that we are all not just looking forward to a few days off, but also counting our blessings and amping up our gratitude.

In the world of my hair, yesterday I tackled it and washed it myself for the first time in 6 weeks. Yeah, yeah, I know that sounds kinda gross, but it's not that bad. Y'all remember that I was weaved up for four of those weeks, so even when I "washed" my hair during that time, it wasn't exactly like a regular wash day. And the last two weeks, I went to the salon for a wash and blow out. So, yesterday I thought that I need to tackle it myself so that I can FEEL what is going on on top of my scalp.

I got home and to save time, I decided to dry deep condition, which ended up just being an intense pre-poo. I grabbed a pack of ORS HAIRepair Banana & Bamboo Conditioner and applied that after dividing my hair into quadrants. I lost I think 3 shed hair during this process. After the entire packet was on my hair, I sealed in the conditioner with coconut oil, then put on a shower cap, a plastic grocery bag AND a scarf and settled in for Masterchef Australia(which is an hour long show).

After Masterchef I RACED to the bathroom, since I had 4 minutes before the start of Grey's Anatomy. In that time I rinsed off and then shampooed using my Avon Moroccan Oil Shampoo. I just lathered up once, and my hair felt phenomenal. I then raced back to the couch, Avon Moroccan Oil Conditioner and Dove Repair Conditioner in hand and as Grey's started applied the two conditioners, again sealed them with coconut oil, and again covered up with plastic bag, shower cap and scarf. During commercial breaks I made sure to eat a little dinner - a lamb stew with dried prunes reminiscent of Katniss' favourite Capitol dish from the Hunger Games trilogy.

After Grey's finished up, I raced to the bathroom once more. I again only had 4 minutes till Scandal starts. I rinsed like a woman possessed. My hair felt soft, but strong. Somehow, without REALLY thinking about it, I got the moisture/protein balance just right during this wash. In total I think I lost about 12-15 hairs during the washing, conditioning and rinsing stages, so I am a happy chappy.

I then wrapped my hair in a soft old towel, grabbed my leave-ins of Avon 3D Rescue and M Moroccanoil Treatment. As Scandal starts and (spoiler alert) and James get shot, I apply a peanut sized amount of the 3D Rescue and about a little less than double of that of the Moroccanoil Treatment to my hair, then sectioned it into three so as to start roller setting.

I roller set my hair, making sure to have a water spritz close. I then let my hair air dry in the rollers for an hour and a half whilst watching the rest of Scandal and the last three quarters of the MTV Movie Awards. (That award show seems like the biggest party!) After the award show I realised that time is getting away from me and I finished drying my hair with my hair dryer blasting it with cold air whilst the hair is still in the rollers. Once dry I took out the rollers and realised that over 3 months of new growth is NO joke and whipped out the Toni & Guy straightener. I flat ironed the hair in small sections, only using one quick pass over the roots.

Once I was done, I cross wrapped my hair, put on my satin scarf and passed out. This morning my hair is soft, super manageable and not a single shed or broken hair in my comb. I'm going to try and keep this stretch going for as long as I can since it seems like my hair is not suffering yet.

How did everybody else deal with their main mane this week? See y'all soon, have a cracking Tuesday!

The Wash Day Experience

Monday, April 7, 2014

I've been doing it all my life!

Hola everybody.

I trust everyone has had a great weekend. Today was a wash day for me, but I went to the salon again because my life is running away with me. And I have WAY too much new growth to DIY and rush through the process, I would just end up regretting it. So, I grabbed my own products and then headed to the same salon that did my hair after removing my weave. And again, I was not disappointed with the way they treated my hair nor with the results. I must mention this though - because the used MY products that I brought from home, in the order that I requested, my hair feels stronger and softer than it did when they used THEIR shampoo and conditioner and leave in. I have made a decision that whenever I go to a stylist in future I shall take with me my anal nature regarding how they should treat my hair (I grabbed the wide tooth comb and detangled myself prior to roller setting!) as well as my own products that I know work well for me at home. The ones shown below are the ones I grabbed today.

Avon Advance Techniques Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner

Avon Advance Techniques Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo
D & L Anti Breakage Healing Treatment - I used this as a protein DC and it is amazing, as it is not a hard protein, but hair feels quite a bit stronger. Wide mouth tub - Jeni, your kind of thing, lol.

How the DC looks coming out of the tub. Very  thick and creamy, but it sinks in well.

Moroccanoil Treatment - this is a leave in treatment that has the consistency of a serum but acts as a conditioner and heat protectant. It is HELLA expensive (It amounts to 2 months of groceries!) and I received it as a gift. I guard this with my life, and I lend it to NO ONE. It works like a charm and it is NOT readily available in this country.
No make up selfie!! Hair results are on point though. 

Results - smooth, soft, strong. I do need another colour rinse though, this natural brown is a little boring to me.
However, what I really want to talk to y'all about today is rollersetting and how to get a good set, thus stretching your hair without the detrimental direct heat of a blow dry or a straightening iron.

Now, I know that in general every head of hair is different, and believe me, I am not trying to dictate the "right" way. I am simply sharing my life long experience, as my hair has been roller set every wash day since I was teeny tiny baby. I remember a picture taken of me at the tender age of two years, running around in our back yard on chubby legs, massive smile on my face and a head full of rollers.

So, I have had a LOT of practice to perfect my roller setting technique and it would be remiss of me to not share with like minded ladies.

On any normal wash day I follow my normal routine of detangle, pre-poo, shampoo, instant condition, detangle, deep condition, leave in condition and then final detangle. Then the roller setting process starts. I divide my hair into three sections, usually recognized as the mohawk method.

Picture provided by Fancy Flair Lady 
I start my set with the middle section, but I start in front with my bangs and not at the crown, as I've seen a few ladies do. Always remember to keep a spritz bottle of water close by. It is always better that hair be more wet than damp when roller setting as to get a good stretch at the roots and to get a smooth result.

Each section of hair that I use per roller I make sure is completely detangled. I also make sure that each section fits the width of the roller and that stray strands of hair aren't slipping off the ends. This helps to ensure that the end results are smooth and well stretched.

Make sure to pull the hair nice and taut as you roll the hair over the roller. Do not pull it TOO taut as this will cause the hair to snap as it dries. Remember. hair stretches more whilst wet. Just ensure that the hair is pulled tautly enough so that one's roots mesh well with the relaxed lengths. If you are natural, ensure that the hair is evenly pulled taut around the roller.

Once I finish up the middle row, I move to the sides. Now, by this time, due to high porosity issues, the ends of  my hair has air dried quite a bit and requires gentle handling. I take my spritz water bottle (which usually contains a little bit of moisturising conditioner) and spray the hair until it is nice and wet again. Mind you NOT soaking wet, yet more wet than damp. Out of habit I move to the left side of my head first before tackling the right. I divide the side into two parts, making a vertical part and then first rolling the front and then the back, using the same methods as with the mohawk. At the end of the day, THIS is what I look like when I'm done:

As you can see, I continue to roll my hair in horizontal lines parallel to the mohawk. I have found this method to be the simplest, yet most effective method for the results that I wish to obtain. Usually I let the hair air dry in the rollers, although if time is of the essence, I blast it with cold air to hurry the process along.

Drying the last sections that are still in rollers. As y'all can see, bigger rollers equals straighter hair. Smaller rollers equal more defined curls. 

After all that effort, I usually simply put my hair into a cute protective style that shows off the fact that my hair is shiny clean whilst still utilizing some of the volume and body and curls provided by the roller set, such as below:

So! There you have it. If anybody has any questions feel free to ask. at the end of the day I believe that rollersetting is one of the biggest favors that one can do her hair. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Have a lovely week everybody!

The Wash Day Experience