4 Month No Heat Challenge

Finally!  I’m gonna stop being stubborn and just own up to the fact that using heat on my hair is keeping me from achieving greater lengths.  I had my suspicions of this earlier this year but now I’ve decided to put myself to the test.  Even though I like the look of straight hair, I’m going to go without using my flat iron until February of 2014.  This may sound like a walk in the park to those of you who gave up straight hair a long time ago.  For me though, I’ve actually kept up with wearing my hair straight every other month.  Sometimes I even straighten twice in the same month.

Of course I saw how other naturals who were gaining two to three inches of growth every time they decided to lay of the heat for a 4-6 month break.  Still, I kept up with the same regimen hoping that maybe my light protein treatments would rescue my curls.  After having to trim some loose curls last month I decided that that was the final straw.  Using heat means I’m gonna be up for a trim so the more I use it, the more hair I lose.  I just can’t keep doing it so it’s time for me to step away from the flat iron and just style my hair in other ways.  Here’s a video discussing the, “rules,” for my personal no heat challenge.  Feel free to join in!

4 MONTH NO HEAT CHALLENGE

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

DIY Length Check Tee Shirt

Lovin’ my new DIY Length Check Tee Shirt

I’ve been thinking to myself lately that I would like to see how long I can grow my hair in the next six months.  This would mean a little restraint on my part because I would have to put the scissors down for once.  I have been trimming periodically throughout the year including the mini big chop I did on my bangs.  I think I’m finally ready to see how long my hair can get if I just leave it alone and let it grow.

To keep track of my progress I decided to put pen to tee shirt.  I purchased a white tee from one of my favorite thrift stores last year but didn’t try it on before purchasing it.  When I got it home I realized that it was too snug for me to wear out so it has been in the drawer ever since.  I figured the tight fit actually made it a good choice for a length check shirt so I got it out.

I just used a Sharpie marker and large craft ruler to make lines one inch apart.  I think it would have turned out neater if I used a thinner marker but it should still work just fine.

As of right now I don’t intend on growing my hair to anything past MBL (mid back length).  I hear all the time how people want waist length hair but that just doesn’t appeal to me.  I keep thinking that would be way too much hair to deal with.  Honestly, I would even be happy with BSL (bra strap length).  At least with the tee shirt I’ll be able to see my progress in inches rather than by points on my body.

Here’s how I did it
I used a Sharpie Marker, Craft Ruler, White Tee Shirt
and a piece of  cardboard underneath to protect the floor
Don’t forget to put something inside the shirt or the ink
will bleed through to the front (see my oops?)

I made a dot to mark the center

Then several dots 1 inch apart

Finally I used the straight edge to draw lines across
Then numbered lines with zero as my starting point

I’m so excited to see how my hair measures up in the coming months.  I’ll be sure to post updates when I do my length checks.  
Was this helpful?  Feel free to leave a comment 🙂

Saying Goodbye to Heat Damage

In the last couple of videos that I posted to YouTube, I discussed my straight, heat damaged bangs and how I styled them so that they would blend in with the rest of my hair.  Shortly after posting those I started a six week Wash n’ Go binge and wore my hair curly the whole time.  For a while I was fine with pushing the straight pieces back or braiding the hair into a headband.  During this time I was also reading the Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey and learning more about my curls and how to work with them.  I kept looking at my damaged hair and wondered, why was I holding on to the straight pieces?

Using small perm rods to camouflage the straight pieces

After much contemplation, I finally decided to break out the shears.  I already knew that I had curly bangs in my future so why not just get on with it?  First, I wet the hair that I sectioned off for the cut.  This made it easier to tell where the textured hair met the straight ends.  Then I placed a long metal clip across that line of demarcation and cut.  I thought that would do it but the straight pieces were still another inch into the length of my bangs so I snipped again.  I was surprised to see a small, one inch section where my hair was just blah; not really curly or straight.  The rest of the bang was curling up the way I expected.  I ended up with a Betty Paige style look which for me was just fine.

AFTER
Short Bangs
BEFORE
Straight Pieces in Front

It’s been about a month and a half since the mini chop and I have to say that for the most part, the bangs are fine by me.  The curls are in good shape even after wearing my hair straight a couple of times.  I refuse to use my flat iron on that area because the 400 degree temperature is just too much.  Instead I use my Gold n’ Hot Curling Iron which only gets up to 300 at best.  I’m also liking the Paul Mitchell Super Skinny for my heat protectant these days.

I do wish the bangs were a teensy bit longer though so that it would be easier to braid them down into a cute headband.  Of course this is possible with a little help from my Eco Styler gel.  I’m also realizing that I won’t be able to slick all of my hair back for awhile.  For now though, I’m just enjoying the new look and loving the curls.

Used a metal clip to section off bangs
Bye Bye Heat Damage
Bangs before cutting a bit more
Check out my post on how I treated my Heat Damaged Hair

Finally APL and Holiday Hair Styles

My Holiday Make-Up Look
with Roller Set hair

The Holidays were fast and furious which left me feeling like I needed another break after it was all over.  Still, it was a lot of fun dressing up and going out with the family.  I especially enjoyed finally getting to see how long my hair was after the two Hair Growth Challenges I participated in over at K.I.S.S. 
last fall.

One of the challenges encouraged participants to start using Hot Oil treatments on a regular basis while the other asked everyone to start using a Growth Aid to help speed up hair growth.  I kinda fell off the bandwagon on the first one because since I sometimes have gel in my hair, I wasn’t too crazy about applying oils on top of that to do the treatments.  However, I do feel like the second challenge introduced me to an interesting growth aid that appears to actually work.  I’ll speak on that later on down the road.

The two challenges ended in December so I was really excited to see if my hair reaped the benefits of all that hard work.  I am happy to announce that I have finally reached my goal of APL length hair!  The top layers are still hovering around my collar bone thanks to that mini big chop I did last year but the back and bottom layers are doing really well.  Since I like to wear my hair in big curls I can see that I won’t be satisfied until my hair is around BSL or longer.  Right now with curls my hair sits just below my shoulders.

   I also needed a trim so I took care of that and decided to wear my hair down for the holidays.  Since I’ve been using roller sets to stretch my hair out I only ended up flat ironing the entire length of my hair once. The rest of the time I was able to enjoy a straight look with the help of my rollers and a little flat ironing at the roots.  My hair has reverted back and is going to be put away for awhile again but it was fun while it lasted.

Roller Set styled in a
Pin-Up Do with Back Down

Flat Ironed hair after
air drying in braids overnight
Flat Ironed Back View