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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Let Me Show You How To Stretch: Taming the Beast

In the Let Me Show You How To Stretch series, I will not only cover the benefits of stretching but I will cover ways to deal with your hair during the stretch-from moisturizing to general handling to styling.. This series may be extremely beneficial to stretching newbies, those who want to extend their stretch, and those who are considering transitioning.

It's Thursday yet again and I am back with another post in my relaxer stretch series! This post will cover general handling of hair during long relaxer stretches. I have to admit, most (ok, all) of it may sound like common sense BUT I have to emphasize the importance of the tips I am going to mention. Stretching for long periods of time can be frustrating and if you are committed to long term stretching, you need to do everything you can to ensure that it is successful.

Most long term stretchers will tell you that the key to having a long term stretch is basically leaving your hair alone. I have to say that I agree. However, that doesn't mean completely neglect your just means that you don't need to be in it ALL THE TIME! But what about the times when you are in your hair? What about when you're trying to get your hair to behave? What do you do then? WHAT DO YOU DO!?

During a stretch, the only time I am in my hair is during wash day. Outside of that, my hair is in a set style for a week. However, I still have to deal with my mass of hair on wash day and that can be a chore. Here is what I do during wash day:

1) I do everything in sections.

This is an absolute must for me. At start of my wash, I put my hair into four plaits...and that is how I proceed for the duration. I shampoo in sections, I DC in sections, I detangle in sections. If I don't do this, my hair becomes way too much to deal with too fast.

2) I detangle at every point in the wash that I can.

I had to learn this lesson the hard way. The deeper you are in your stretch the more effort you must make to detangle your hair. I'm talking about detangling from the moment water hits your hair until the moment you have set your style. Otherwise, you could find yourself in the middle of a tangled mess.

If I follow those 2 rules, my wash day is pretty smooth for the most part. However, what about general handling? What about combing? What about slicking your edges down once they start looking natural? No worries. Here are my tips:

Combing: It is a rule of mine during a stretch to not comb my hair if its dry. Therefore, my detangling/combing occurs on wash day. It is a lesson I have been following since childhood and I pass it on to you. You better not try and run a comb through 15 weeks post hair that is will regret it. However, if you absolutely, positively must comb your hair, try and grab a spray bottle of water or load your hair with moisturizer or a leave in conditioner before you do.

Slicking down hair for buns: This can probably be the most frustrating part of stretching. Everyone's go to hair style for a stretch is a bun. However, getting a slick,sleek, smooth bun at the height of your stretch can be difficult to say the least. However, there is a solution for that...the scarf method. The scarf method has given me the sleekest buns every.

But what about dem edges?

If your edges fight any attempt to be tied down, put some moisturizer, oil, and some Ecostyler Olive Oil Gel on your edges and tie them down with a scarf for about 15min. Your edges never stood a chance.

Other than those key things, I cannot stress enough how important it is to LEAVE YOUR HAIR ALONE!!! Find the style that requires minimal interference from you during the week and call it a day. The more you find yourself in your hair, the more you will battle the new growth and the more frustrated you will be. My rules are simple but they allow me to get through these long stretches without really thinking twice about it. Hopefully, they help you all too! Stay tuned for styles that aid in a successful deep stretch.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Hair: We Have To Look Good To Play Sports Now?

Happy Sunday lovelies!

This Sunday chat is coming in a little late this evening. I had to pretty much work a full day in lab today so my time wasn't my own. But I'm here now! :throws confetti and smiles:

So today's Sunday chat has been prompted not only by the whole Gabby Douglas hair debacle during the Olympics but just the criticism of female athletes hair while they are actively competing. Honestly y'all, I don't understand the criticism. However, I may be looking at things from a different viewpoint.

When I was growing up, softball was my sport. It was a sport I absolutely loved. I loved playing the game, being on the field, everything. Aside from cheerleading, softball is probably the only sport that brought me joy (SN: I am the black sheep in a family full of basketball players. I understand the game completely but I wouldn't play it even if you paid me). While I played many positions in softball, my main position was catcher. So not only did I have my uniform on, I had that hot behind catchers gear on too--which unearthed a whole 'nother set of problems. Looking back, however, my hair was the LEAST of my worries. Like my teammates, my main concern was was fitting my hair underneath my cap and keeping out of my face (read: I put my hair into a ponytail). Being cute just didn't register when we were practicing and trying to win games. And if someone would have told me my hair looked jank whilst playing a sport, I would have hit them with the blank stare because I looked no different than my teammates.

So when did having great hair become a requisite for playing a sport? Why does it even matter? These questions cross my mind every time I read an article about sports and hair or even open a thread on a certain hair board where folks are clowning an athlete's hair. I would think that given the context, that falls last on the list of priorities. Additionally, it makes me sad to see that the bulk of the commentary coming from African American women. I feel that commentary like that adds to the stereotype that we would rather be overweight w/ banging hair than healthy w/ so-so hair.

Anyway, what are your thoughts about this? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let Me Show You How To Stretch: Moisturizing Your Situation

In the Let Me Show You How To Stretch series, I will not only cover the benefits of stretching but I will cover ways to deal with your hair during the stretch-from moisturizing to general handling to styling.. This series may be extremely beneficial to stretching newbies, those who want to extend their stretch, and those who are considering transitioning.

Happy Thursday lovelies!!

I hope you're having a happy and productive day so far. This post was inspired .by a question I saw recently on LCHF about stretching...and my general lack of discussion about stretching even though I post about my own trials and tribulations regarding stretching. Honestly, styling your hair and the benefits of stretching are the focus of most stretching posts while caring for your new growth and dealing with the frustration that is stretching is primarily overlooked. Yes stretching is great and everyone should do it but try tell that to someone who is used to relaxing every 4 gotta be prepared to tell them how to deal.

Well, I'm going to remedy that. I'm going to try and address one of the most basic of stretching concerns: dry, puffy new growth.

Personally, I am a long term stretcher. I never intended to be...I just lose track of when I had my last relaxer and when I look up, I realize my last relaxer was months ago. I typically relax at 20 weeks and my hair has thrived. Contrary to the myth, no your hair will NOT break off if you don't adhere to a rigid every 6 to 8 weeks relaxer schedule. However, your hair will break off if you don't care for it.

Every stretcher can attest that when the new growth comes in, it's pretty dry. Keeping your hair, especially your new growth, moisturized is essential to a successful stretch. How do you do that? What products do you use? How do you know it's working?

What products do you use?
The deeper you get in your stretch, the more you need to incorporate super moisturizing products-starting with your shampoo. The deeper I get into my stretches, the more I begin to reach for the products whose sole purpose is giving moisture. Choose a moisturizing, sulfate free shampoo (Elasta QP Creme Conditioning shampoo and Shea Moisture Moisture Retention shampoo are my picks) and follow up with a moisturizing DC (ORS Hair Repair, Silicon Mix, and Aubrey Organics White Camilla are all good picks). It is also great to have a good moisturizer (Darcy Botanicals and Qhemet Biologics AOHC are great choices) handy.

What's the technique?
For a successful stretch (especially for newbies), I think it's important to approach this whole moisturizing thing as something that needs to be done throughout your regimen rather than thinking you need to moisturize at one step, post wash. Additionally, long stretches really require special (almost obsessive) focus on the new growth. If you start with a sulfate free shampoo, you are cleaning your hair (new growth included) without stripping your hair of the moisture it needs-which is a good thing and a great starting point for your stretching regimen. The next step in keeping your new growth moisturized and happy lies in a moisturizing DC. It is important to apply this DC directly to your new growth (yes, this takes a little bit of time to do. Having a moisturizing DC will not help if you are only applying it to the length of your hair. Finally, if you choose to use a moisturizer, it needs to be applied directly to your new growth as well. I've found that when stretching, you really have to pay attention to and baby your new growth. You can't just slap on a product to the length of your hair and think everything is going to be all right. On the contrary, you will have a big ol' mess and will want to run for the relaxer the first chance you get.

How do you know it's working?
It's pretty easy to determine the success of your moisturizing technique. When my new growth is well moisturized, my new growth takes on its natural curl pattern instead of being puffy. It also feels moisturized (instead of dry) and is easier to comb through (should the need to comb arise).

Those are my tips for upping your moisture game during the deepest of stretches. Is there a point I missed? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Product Revisited: Wild Growth Oil

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you will know that I’m going through a product purge of sorts. I admit that I am a recovering product junkie and now I have a cabinet full of products that I need to use or toss…and soon. Products typically have to wow me within the first few uses and if they don't...I can't be bothered. Right now, I'm really trying to streamline my products and having 50-11 products around at any given time isn't helping matters. Therefore, I am revisiting them. I'm finding new uses for them, making definitive decisions on their place in my regimen, confirming/disproving what I initially thought, and giving you guys a mini review in the process. :)

A product that has found its way back into my rotation is Wild Growth Oil (white label). I remember purchasing it at the start of my journey because I heard so many raves about it. However, I stopped using it because that oil stinks like all to be damned! I just couldn’t deal with it. It also didn’t help that the term ‘wild growth oil’ is a misnomer. Back then I was applying the oil to my scalp weekly and I didn’t notice any ‘wild growth.’ That plus the awful smell resulted in that little bottle of oil finding a permanent home in my bathroom cabinet.

Lately, I have been using Wild Growth Oil as a sealant following my wash and DC sessions. I mainly apply it to the length of my damp hair and air dry. Fortunately, the fishy smell from the oil dampens down considerably as your hair dries (I find the smell is most potent the day of application and you can barely smell it following that). Since I use it as a sealant, I'm finding that it helps to keep my hair moisturized. I last washed my hair on Saturday and, as of Wednesday, my hair is STILL moisturized. It also helps with any tangles I get in my hair. Bottom line, I love this oil as a sealant but I would only use it on damp hair.

This oil can also be multipurposed. I add a few drops to a DC, a hot oil treatment, and use it (with a combination of other products) to slick down my edges. I find it to be a solid product for those uses as well. However, I wouldn't say that Wild Growth Oil needs to be an absolute must in your regimen-especially if you have oils that work for you currently in your rotation. If you are like me and currently have the oil sitting in a cabinet collecting dust, it can definitely add some oomph to your reggie if you give it a chance.

I'm still on the fence as to whether or not Wild Growth Oil has earned a permanent spot in my regimen but as of right now, I am pleased with the results I have gotten from it.

Want to check it out for yourself? Here's a brief rundown of where you can get it and what's in it:

Price: $8.00+ tax for 4oz (at Sally Beauty Supply)

Ingredients: Olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, oleic acids, triolein, arachidic esters, flavonoids, monolaurin, capric acid, monocparin, long chained monohydroxyl groups, pro vitamin A, pro vitamin E, natural vitamin D, squalene, terpenoids, hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, the aglycone of ligstrosides, (=)-1-acetoxypinoresinol, pinoresinol, chloropyll, carotinoids, choline, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, natural fragrance and natural color.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Chat: Products That Aren't Worth The Hype (Or The Price!)

Happy Sunday lovelies!

This particular Sunday Chat came from my recent experimentation with Miss Jessie's products. I was able to acquire a few free samples of the Super Sweetback Treatment, Curly Butter Creme, and Curly Meringue. Thus far, I have tried everything except the Curly Meringue.

And I am not impressed.

To start, these products smell sickeningly sweet. You are just overwhelmed with scent from the moment you open the packet. Then, for all that scent, the product performance is just...meh.There really wasn't anything about them that would make me run out and buy them.

Thank goodness I used free samples otherwise I would have been extremely upset. If you aren't familiar with Miss Jessie's products, just know that they are hella expensive! 16 oz of product can run you $48! $48 for a product that is made out of the same ingredients of most of the products seen in the ethnic hair care aisle in Walmart.Based on my experience with them, Miss Jessie's isn't worth the price.

Earlier in my hair journey, I had the same experience with Carol's Daughter. I fell for the hype of the product line and thought it would be the answer to my hair woes. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Those products cost way too much to not do anything for my hair.

But, it makes me wonder. How many of you had experiences with products that were overhyped and overpriced? Why did those products ever receive the hype in the first place?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Product Revisited: ORS Olive Oil Smooth N Hold Pudding

Happy Sunday lovelies!

I hope all of you are having a great day! Yesterday, I was combing through the product graveyard that is the cabinet space under my sink. As of late, I have been making an effort to use up most of the products under there and so far it is working. I have slightly more space under there than I had previously. Anyway, while I was combing through all those products, I stumbled across a half full container of ORS Olive Oil Smooth N Hold Pudding.

Let me tell you about this product, when I first purchased it, I was was blinded by the word 'gel' in the product description. Well actually, it was described as a moisturizing gel (whatever that means). With its creamy consistency, I thought it would be a great alternative for gel. And since I'm always on the lookout for a good gel or gel alternative, I had to give this product a try.

Boy was I wrong about that.

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know I likes a good gel/gel alternative to slick down the edges. So naturally, that is what I used the Smooth N Hold Pudding a gel for my edges. I applied the product to my edges and my edges said "No ma'am." They were slicked down for .00000000025 of a second and frizzed back up like I never even put anything on them. I did not let that sway me though. I tried it again. And again. And again. Finally, I got the hint that this product wasn't going to work as a gel and I banished it to the cabinet where it was out of my sight. As far as I was concerned, that product was a lie! It didn't hold a daggone thing! A sorry excuse for a gel in my opinion.

When I found the Smooth N Hold Pudding yesterday, I decided to try it again. Not as a gel, however. I decided to use it as a product for smoothing. Let me explain. Typically, when I bun, my hair as a whole has a propensity to frizz. I may be 27 (SN: My b-day was August 6th) but my hair tends to act like it did when I was 5. That doesn't work for me. I need my hair to remain smooth and sleek as I go about my day. With that said, I decided to put the Smooth N Hold pudding to the test in that capacity. Thankfully, it worked!! My hair stayed nice and smooth throughout the day. No frizz here!

So with that said, the product isn't a total fail. It can't hold anything worth a damn as a traditional gel but it does keep your style smooth and in place! I also heard that this is a great product for twists.

If you want to check it out yourself, here are a few deets:

Price:$5.97+tax for 13oz (at Walmart)

Ingredients: Aqua (Water) , Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut) , Paraffinum Liquidum Mineral Oil , Polyquaternium-11 , Glycerin , Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate , Cetearyl Alcohol , Polysorbate 60 , PEG-150 Stearate , Cetyl Alcohol , Ceteareth 20 , PEG-20 Hydrogenated Lanolin , PEG 40 Stearate , Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice , Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (Olive) , Simmondsia Chinensis Oil (Jojoba) , Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado) , Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (Sweet Almond) , Phenyl Trimethicone , PEG-12 Dimethicone , Oleth-20 , Carbomer , Triethanolamine , DMDM Hydantoin , Methylchloroisothiazolinone , Methylisothiazolinone , Parfum (Fragrance) , Benzyl Benzoate , Citronellol , d-Limonene , Eugenol , Geraniol , Hexyl Cinnamal , Lilial , Linalool , Methyl Ionone , Blue #1 (CI 42090) , Yellow #5 (CI 19140)

Their Claims: This light weight, non-sticky product leaves a smooth and shiny hold while moisturizing the hair.
* Shines and holds the hair
* Alcohol-free formula
* Won't dry the hair or cause flaking