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New Year; Same Hair Goal

Trying to get past this length in 2013

For my hair journey, the beginning of 2013 looks pretty much like the end of 2012.  My main focus this year will be to protect my hair from ME!  That’s right, I’ve figured out the real reason why I’m still sitting at the length I am now.  Some people call it “Scissor Happy” but I’m now calling it counter productive.  I really like when my ends have that blunt cut appearance and when they don’t, I’m pulling out the scissors.  As far as retaining length, with this way of thinking, I’m at a stand still with my hair.

Lately I have been looking for ways to distract myself because yes, I’ve been thinking about cutting again.  I hit APL (Arm Pit Length) at the sides a couple times in 2012 and saw it as an oppurtunity to even things up.  Now, I do still have bangs in the front and layers on the top and sides, so my bottom layer is still the lengthiest part of my hair overall.  I guess I have always wanted to help the other sections catch up to the rest which would mean trimming the longest bits little by little.  Still, even with that being the goal I figured I would just hover at BSL (Bra Strap Length) before trying to make my hair more even.  At this rate, I’ll never see BSL which for me is only two more inches away (in back; when the hair is stretched).

Last fall I counted and it looks like I gave myself at least 6-7 trims throughout the year.  Some to get rid of heat damage (searching for the perfect curl) and some to give my hair that look of blunt ends.  My last trim for 2012 was at the end of November and I honestly think I should put the scissors aside until the spring.  I really am curious to see where my hair will end up in the coming months but the urge to cut is always there.  Not sure if I can do it but I’m gonna try.

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My No Heat Blow Out

I’ve been straightening my natural hair nearly once each month ever since I went natural over three years ago.  I used to blowdry my hair every time but found that it made my straight hair feel dry.  I also felt like using two heat styling tools in one session was too much heat for my hair.  I decided to start using another method to dry my hair before using the flat iron while stretching it at the same time.

Air Drying
Basically, I let my hair air dry which takes longer but works great for me because my hair actually absorbs the product better.  My favorite method is to use ponytails with the ends two strand twisted.  This way the roots lay flatter and the hair dries in a smooth wavy pattern.  You can also use braids but I found that the twists dry quicker and serve the same purpose; stretch the hair while it dries.  Another favorite is to pull all of my hair back into a bun with the front and sides slicked back.  I’ll wear this as a style for a whole day and then at night, part it down the middle and do two french braids to help dry the center.

Brush it Out

Air drying overnight using ponytails with
two strand twists

The final step of the process is to take down the twists or braids and brush the hair out.  I like to use a paddle brush but a wide tooth comb also works.  I realize it’s considered a no-no to do this on dry hair but this is possible because of the products I use.  While my hair is still damp, I always apply a creamy leave-in conditioner, oil and a hair serum on each section.  This makes my hair soft enough to comb through once it is dry.

The Result
When my hair is dry and brushed out, it still looks just as big and stretched as a blowout.  It amazes me that so many naturals grab the blow dryer whenever they want to have stretched hair.  Sure the blowdryer is faster but why risk the damage?   Since I discovered how to do this it has become the method I use to stretch my hair everytime I want to straighten it or see some length.

I use a Creamy Leave-in Conditioner and Hair Serum
for dry hair soft enough to brush through

Wearing a bun all day gets the edges smooth
while drying

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Protective Style: Flat Twist UpDo

I’m finally embracing the idea of protective styling to help me retain more length.  This concept has been so hard for me to grasp because I absolutely love wearing my hair out.  The more time I spend over at K.I.S.S. hair forum the more I see that during the week (Monday thru Friday) there really isn’t any need to wear my hair down.  I’m usually shuttling the kids to school, exercising and running errands which does not require a glam look.  Still, when I want to look somewhat put together I just throw my hair up into two large flat twists and I’m good.

Before, I discovered this look I was always wearing two french braids (under hand braiding) or two cornrows (over hand braiding).  Sometimes though I think the braids made me look a little juvenile so for this reason I started wearing the twists
more often.

Flat Twists secured
with a Barret

My process is pretty simple.  I discovered that the flat twists have lots more volume when I allow my hair to air dry first.  Usually after my wash day routine, I apply my leave-ins and just pull my hair back into a braided bun for a whole day until it is mostly dry.  Then I take the hair down so I can apply my moisturizer and seal with grapeseed or olive oil.  After this step, I separate my hair into two large sections, parting down the middle and pin one side up with a clip to keep it out of the way.  I lightly comb out the other side with a wide tooth comb and begin flat twisting from the front of my head all they way to the nape.  I found that the twist looks best when I grab smaller sections for each turn.  After twisting all the way down I let the twist sit for a few minutes because it will gradually loosen a bit and look fuller.  I repeat on the other section.  Once both flat twists have “grown,” I take the tail ends and twist them around each other.  I then tuck them at the base of the twists with a bobby pin or barrette.  If I want bangs I just take a small section at the front and do three small two-strand twists.  Then I swoop them and secure the bangs into one of the twists.  If I see any loose points along either twist I just use bobby pins to tighten things up.

I used three small two-strand twists
for a side swooped bang

I enjoy wearing this style because it has the potential to look really glam with a little makeup and some earrings.  This is also an easy style to take down so that I can moisturize and seal my hair whenever it is starting to feel dry.  The best thing is knowing that I’m taking care of my hair by simply keeping it tucked away.

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Godrej Nupur Henna Review

I’ve been using henna for the past year and a half now and can say that I have tried a few different types.  I use it to blend my greys with the rest of my dark hair and keep my scalp issues at bay.  Previously, I ordered it online but now purchase it locally from an Indian Grocery store.  Recently I picked up a new brand from Ananda Bazaar in Aurora, that I heard others rave about in the hair forums.  It’s called Godrej Nupur and is actually a mixture that includes brahmi (promotes hair growth), shikakai (cleanses hair and scalp), amla (darkens hair and prevents scalp infection) and bhringraj (conditions).  Finding all of these in one package is quite a deal.  I figured at $1.49 (USD) per package, the Nupur henna was definitely worth a try.

I added green tea and juice from

half a lemon
One package of Godrej Nupur henna holds 60 grams so I used two packages for my hair which is past shoulder length and very thick.  I kept my mix pretty simple and just added green tea and juice from half a lemon.  I added enough water to make it into a yogurt like consistency and let it sit for a few hours.  Before applying it to my hair, I added a little more water so that it was creamy enough to work with.  One thing I noticed is that the texture of the henna is a lot smoother than some of the others I have worked with (i.e. Reshma and Jamila).  This made it very easy to apply.  The color took very well and did a good job of staining my greys that were starting to peek through. 
Added plain water until the
henna was a yogurt like
consistency
I have used the product twice since purchasing it and can definitely say that my hair appears to be darker which is more to my liking (I found out last year that my adding honey to my henna applications caused it to lighten my hair a little).  I was looking for a darker result so the Nupur henna works for me.  Even so, my hair still looks a deep burgundy color when I’m outside.  For this reason I’m currently looking to do the 2 step process where you apply henna and then indigo to go completely black.  Overall though, I enjoy using the Godrej Nupur and will make sure to keep it stocked in my ever growing henna stash. 
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Recovering from Heat Damage

After my most recent bout with heat damage, I wasn’t too sure how to go about getting my curls back.  I wore my hair straight for Easter Sunday but decided to use the flat iron again later in the week after using oils in my hair.  My curls did not revert back like they normally did when I wore my hair straight and I was afraid that the damage was permanent.  Was I upset?  You damn skippy I was!  I couldn’t believe that I let this happen again.  Not only that, I just chopped off 1/2″ of damage at the start of the year which gave me curls galore.  Now I was right back where I started and worse.


What did I do you ask?  Well, I did what I always do when I need answers, I went to the internet.  I was pretty certain that what I was experiencing was permanent heat damage but I was really hoping that someone out there had a magic remedy.  I stumbled onto a YouTube video that I remembered watching by Taren916, where she used the Aphogee 2 step Protein Treatment to help repair her heat damage.  She showed a before shot where her hair was limp and not so curly and another after the treatment when her hair had more texture. 

After watching that, I went to the hair forums and read articles for more info on how the protein treatment worked.  Basically, heat can cause significant damage to the cuticle layer of the hair strand.  This is the protective outer layer (imagine tiny shingles that overlap one another).  Once these cuticles are damaged, the hair is vulnerable and more prone to dryness and breakage.  The protein in the Aphogee treatment helps to fill in the gaps where the hair strand is missing these important little pieces. 

So, the very next day, I shot over to Sally’s and made a B-line for the Aphogee products.  I still wasn’t too sure if this was all I needed so I grabbed a silicone based conditioner (the GVP version of Paul Mitchell’s The Detangler) and said a prayer.  After the application and rinsing it all out, I was very surprised to see curls where there was once very non-descript strands.  The treatment actually worked, but the curls were still looser than before (as you can see from the photo).  My hair was still much thicker at the roots.  Afterwards, I decided to go back to an old regimen I employed when I used to use semi-permanent color on my natural hair. 
Damaged hair regimen:
  • Deep condition 2x per week- 1x with moisture; 1x with protein
  • Stay away from heat…lol
  • Protective styles to avoid further damage
  • My curls 4 weeks after the treatment.
    Using braids to protect hair from too
    much manipulation
  • Silicone based conditioner for detangling and co-washing
I added the silicone conditioner because the primary reason for using silicone in hair products is so that it can help mask damage incurred by heat styling, hair color and chemical treatments.   Thankfully, my hair is back to being nice and curly but is just a bit more stretched than before with a few lazy curls here and there.  Some people use heat for this effect but that was never my intention.  Needless to say, me and my curls are stepping away from the heat for a good, long while.