Posts filed under: ‘Breakage‘




Hair Growth Tips Part V: Understand Damage. Know the Damage

So, one of the major obstacles to obtaining long hair is hair damage especially at the ends, the driest oldest part of the hair. In fact, it might be the top obstacle to achieving hair length.  Think about it this way: If the average head of hair grow 0.5in (1.27cm) per month and you are losing, for example 0.5 inches of hair per month, you net hair growth is 0 inches.  As a result your hair stays the same length.  Once you know the common sources of damage, you can prevent them and therefore draw closer and closer to you hair growth goals.

There are two major types of damage: mechanical damage and chemical damage.  I am sure a lot of you learned about changes in matter in middle school science (whether you remember it or not).  I remember (for some reason or another) from my 6th science book that one type of chemical change is rusting.  I do not remember the book’s example for a physical change but I would say breaking a piece of chalk or stick or molding a piece of clay can be an example.

For hair damage, it is good to think of chemical damage and mechanical damage as similar to chemical and physical change respectively as the way you may have learned about it in physical science.  Chemical damage is similar to chemical change and mechanical damage is similar to physical change.  In fact, I shouldn’t say similar.  Damage is a type of change. Abi? So mechanical damage usually deals with some kind of pulling and chemical damage usually deals with change in pH.

I will also discuss heat damage but I do not actually know what category that goes under.  Probably physical damage, but I am going to take about it after chemical anyway.

Types of Mechanical Damage

  • Cotton Pillow Cases
  • Furniture with plant-based fabrics
  • Combing
  • Brushing
  • Pulling
  • Styling tools
    • Hair bands

Solutions:

  • Use a silk or satin pillow case and a satin bonnet when going to sleep.
  • You may want to carry a silk cloth around you to place on your car seat and couches you sit on to protect hair from the friction.  I do not do this but if you a really obsessed with hair growth, why not?
  • Detangle hair gently.  You may not ever want to use a comb and instead finger detangle.  I talk about this more in here the detangling edition of the hair growth series.
  • Do not touch your hair or pull it.
  • When styling the hair use tools that do not pull the hair.  For example, Goody’s has Goody Comfort-Flex Updo Barrettes.  I use them and they have never taken out my hair.  Banana clips and these things (that I can’t remember the name of but I’ll provide a picture) are also good.

This is what I was talking about

Goodies and Annie’s sell this hair accessory but not as fancy

You can also soak ouchless hair bands (those without metal) in oils like cocoa nut oil or olive oil or you can use a silk or satin scrunchy.  These will prevent damage and breakage.  I will show you some styles to do with these.

CHEMICAL DAMAGE

Chemical damage usually comes from an unhealthy pH balance.  Anything between 4 and 5.5 probably the healthiest pH balance.  Anything between 4 and 7 is the acceptable.  Most chemicals with a pH higher than 7(basic) or lower than 4 (very acidic) are usually more damaging.  There are a few chemicals/products/substances that distort the pH balance of the hair.  When the pH of the hair is above 7 or below 4, the hair follicle’s cuticle opens making it more prone to damage.

Products you want to stay away from because of the pH:

  • Certain soaps even “organic” ones may have pH balance between 7 and 8
  • Mild Relaxers — 8-11
  • Regular relaxers (those with lye sodium hydroxide NaOH or calcium) -14 (the high pH possible)
  • Baking Soda — 8.3-9.0
  • A clean swimming pool 7.6-7.8
  • Lemon Juice 2
  • Most vinegars (not diluted) 2.4-3.6
  • Egg whites 7.9-9.3

Solutions:

  • Most shampoos and conditioners are in the healthy range (4-7), but you can also apply aloe vera which has a pH of 4 after each wash to make sure.
  • Do not get relaxers.  If you absolutely have to you may want to consider getting a deep conditioner with protein and deep condition at least once per week.  This means leaving a deep conditioner on the hair for quite a while with a plastic bag and a towel.  I explain this in more detail here.  The reason you want to get a protein conditioner is because the alkaline substance opens the cuticle and then changes the protein structure.  Therefore a relaxer changes the structure of the hair strand.
  • Simple. Don’t use baking soda.  Why do you need to? Use shampoo or conditioner to wash.
  • I have a swimming regimen here
  • No need to use lemon juice on the hair.
  • If you absolutely need to use vinegar on the hair, say for clarifying, make sure to only use a little and dilute it with water. Use Apple Cider Vinegar but remember to dilute.
  • If you want to use egg as a protein treatment, only use the yolks and do not leave the egg in too long because the pH will rise.

Products that are acceptable for the hair based on pH:

  • Milk 6.4-6.8 (I was surprised that it is acidic too)
  • Egg Yolks 6.2 (but rises a little.  Make sure you do not keep it in the hair too long)
  • Water 7 (Of course. It’s neutral)

Substance that has the best pH for the hair:

  • Aloe Vera gel 4-4.5
  • Sebum 4.0-5.5 (but that’s naturally in the hair and on the skin anyway)
  • I wish I near about the pH of all the oils I use but I do not

Visit dermnet.org.nz for more information.

I tried posting a video explanation of this pH thing but since the person who explained it wants to be weak-sauce, I am not even going to recommend her. She really is weak-sauce, yo! And I am trying to be nice about it.

Heat Damage

Like with a high pH level, high temperature also opens the cuticle of the hair to raise and therefore break.  This is probably why a lot of hair experts rarely put heat on their hair and if they do they are very careful about it.  Some only put heat on their hair 1-3 times per year.  Some only put heat on the hair once per week if they like the straight look.  There is also a woman called LongHairDontCare2011 on Youtube.  She straightens her hair and recommends using a heat protector. You should test a piece of hair on a paper towel to see if the iron is too hot.  If you burn your hair, it’s too hot. LongHairDontCare2011 also uses lower heat on the ends (since they are the most fragile parts of the hair).  I also recommend these steps.

But keep in mind that LHDC2011 also says that heat is not good for the hair. She simply does it because she believes she will be able to manage straight hair more easily than her natural texture of hair.  When she was trying to achieve length she rarely put heat on her hair and I have noticed that since she has been using heat it does not seem to have the same length retention as she did when she did not use heat.  I would also say that if you are transitioning from a relaxer or chemical treated hair to natural hair, do not, I repeat DO NOT straighten your heat or put heat on your hair at all. Period. Wait until the relaxer is all one and the hair is healthy.

In summary, I would say heat is not recommended if you desire hair length retention and heat is unnecessary in terms of beauty and hair management sake.  If you really, really insist that you need heat, be very, very careful.  No joke. Get a heat protectant (I don’t know of good ones since I don’t), get a good deep conditioner, test the iron with hair on paper towel.  Maybe using aloe vera afterwards could help too. Did I miss anything?

Please check out LongHairDontCare2011’s page here. She has some awesome hair and awesome hair styles straight as well as kinky.

Another important lesson or tip we can gather from this knowledge of heat is to rinse the hair with cold water (as cold as bearable) after washing the hair.  I make sure that my very last rinse when washing my hair is a cold rinse.  I use warm (no hot) water to shampoo or co-wash the hair, but after I deep condition, I use cold water, which is especially good now since it is so dang HOT outside!!!

The last thing I will say is that your hair can get damaged from a lack of moisture.  I do not know what category I would put this under.  Just make sure you moisturize and you can moisturize with aloe and water.

OK ya’ll.  I’m tired. Questions? oyiboprincess.@gmail.com.  Email me.

Heard this song today.  Love it.  It has a great bass line.  Great harmony.  I can relate to it because I still don’t have a job.  Never realized how beautiful the song is:

Add a comment August 6, 2011

Hair Growth Tips Series Part IV (oh wow!): Deep Conditioning

Hi all. This is a continuation of the hair growth series.  This post is about deep conditioning.  Hair experts in the natural-hair community as well as the general hair-enthusiast community have different methods, different perspectives on relaxing and straightening, different preferences for ingredients in their hair products, different preferred detangling methods, and different preferred styles.  Some use shampoo.  Some never use shampoo. Some shampoo every two months. Some always shampoo their scalp only and never the scalp. Some do shampoo their hair.  Some henna their hair. Some advise against henna. I could go on for days. But there is one thing that all the hair experts seem to share—and I would say that I measure their hair expertise based on the length of their hair.  What they all have in common is deep conditioning often.  Often be every week or every other week.  Some, like The Anti Hair Slave  even deep condition three times per week sometimes. Again you will have to figure out your own hair needs.  Most people, I have noticed deep condition their hair every time they wash (whether they wash with a cheap conditioner, a moisturizing shampoo, a no poo, or a clarifying shampoo).

Here are some tips on how to choose a deep conditioner:

Protein versus Moisture

So one difference among hair experts is the kind of deep conditioner they use.  Some women need protein in their hair, whereas other women have hair that is protein sensitive and can break if there is too much protein.  Instead, they need moisture.

From what I have noticed, the women who need protein are usually those who relax, straighten often, dye,  or apply heat often to the hair.  The relaxing, dying, and heat processes can distort the protein structures in the hair and therefore women with these processes need protein.

The women who have protein sensitive hair and need moisture are usually women with natural hair.  However, I will say that some natural women such as kimmaytube and haircrush use conditioners with protein and have had great results.  Those with naturally kinky hair especially need moisture because kinky hair often is and/or looks dry.

I personally try to stick with a low protein conditioner and add an egg when the ends are looking damaged but may stop that because it does not seem to help.  Sometimes if the ends are broken, I will put jojoba oil on the ends.

These are the conditioners I have tried and like:

  • Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose (Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods)—this one smells much better that the White Camellia)
  • Aubrey Organics White Camellia (Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods)
  • Lustrasilk Shea Butter Cholesterol (Sally’s) – but be careful with this one, it has parabens which can be cancerous.
  • Herbal Essence Hello Hydration
  • Suave Naturals Conditioner Tropical Coconut

Right now I use Herbal Essense Hello Hydration or Suave Naturals Conditioner Tropical Coconut.  I use them because they are less expensive than the others, but I mix HH or TC with Olive Oil and honey.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the slip (detangling) and the honey because it is a humectant (attracts moisture).

Slight digression (as always) 

The funny thing is that when I was younger I thought that I had to buy black products, but they were not really working for my hair and I now am finding out that a lot of black and mixed hair experts do not use so called “black” products.  My best friend’s cousin is a chemical engineer and she said that so-called “black” hair products have higher amounts of cancerous chemicals such as parabens.  What are they trying to do? Kill us?  And they meanwhile have our hair looking sub par.  Pathetic. (Check out the hair hazards of your own hair products: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.  This is not really related to hair growth but I thought you should know).

What’s more is the products are not even always made by black people.  Many are made by Jewish, Korean, and Vietnamese people.  I am not saying that this is wrong, but if your reasoning for using black hair products is that you are supporting black businesses, the chances are you are really not. They just slap a black woman’s face on the box, who by the way may not even use the product.  My mom met a Motion’s hair model who says she never uses Motions.  She said she uses Pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil. How she does, I don’t know, but I also use olive oil so I can imagine.

Well enough of outing people and hair care companies.  My point is that you do not have to find your conditioner in the “black” section.  I will admit that Lustrasilk is in the black section.  But do not be afraid to venture out.  If you do get a “white people’s conditioner”, as my cousin T says, get one for dry hair, because kinky/curly hair tends to be dry.  Tresemmé and Pantene ProV are also quite popular. Pantene is especially good for the relaxed and heat treated hair because of the protein.  (On the flip side Teen Magazine and Cosmo Girl never gave any real hair tips for women with kinky or even curly hair and Black Hair Magazines only recommended those poisonous black hair care products. Also pathetic.)  Okay. Let me calm down and continue. I’m okay, ladies. I promise.

Deep condition? How?

I am glad you asked.  It is quite simple.  You apply the deep conditioner, yes.  However, you also want to use some kind of heat.  But you don’t have to go out and by a dryer or a hair dryer hood. I have neither of those things.  You can use your own body heat. Fo’ free!!

After applying the deep conditioner, don a plastic heating cap or even a plastic grocery bag.  I have done both, but be careful not to suffocate yourself with the latter.  Tie it on your head.  To trap your body heat, you can do one of two things:

  1. Wrap a towel around your head.
  2. But on a satin cap and then a stocking cap (actually made out of stockings).

I can explain the logic of these two methods easily easily.  When it is winter or when it is cold, people wear skull caps. Right? And why do they do that?  Because most of our body heat escapes from the head (and the hands but that is not important), but when you wear skull cap the heat is trapped.  The same thing is happening when you put the plastic cap and either the towel or bonnet and stocking cap.  Free heat from God.  How awesome is that?  Hehe.  I explain this process in more detail in my washing regimen.

1 comment July 26, 2011

Update: Dreads and Moisturizing

Mr. Marley says, "Let's get together and moisturize."

Hey all. I think this is going to be a short post. Well it has to be because I am about to work out. This is related to a hair tip I gave previously about moisturizing.  So last night I went to meet a friend I have not seen in 5 years.  She was also meeting up with some other friends from high school.  Out of all of us, the guy who came last  had dreads. We will call him Bob. The other guy that was there and my friend kept talking about how long Bob’s hair had gotten, because he had the dreads since he was a kid.   So I was expecting  hair to be down to his behind.  Keep in mind Bob had not gotten there yet.   When he walked in the Truitt’s Chik-Fil-A, I saw that his hair was as long as mine. What? Should be longer since all hair grows 1/2 inch per month and I had not been growing mine for the same length of time he has. He is 23. He’s been growing his hair for 13-16 years. I have been growing mine for 3 years (but growing it  well for only 6 months).

So I asked him, “Do you  trim your dreads?”

He said, “No. Never.”

Then I said, “Oh. They told me you had been growing your hair for your whole life.  I thought it would be longer.”  [Pause.] OMG. Is that rude, ya’ll? It didn’t sound rude at that time, at least not to me. I really had to know. Sorry.

“Oh yeah.  Sometimes when I sit on the couch they just break off.”

“Do you moisturize?”

“Uh. My stylist does.”

I told him, “With Afro-textured hair you must moisturize every single day.”

He said, “Yeah. I might put some afro sheen on it.”

“Oh no. Yeah. A lot of people think that oil moisturizes. It doesn’t. It only controls the moisture.  You have to moisturize the hair with water (or sometimes aloe vera juice) and then put oil on it.  Depending on the humidity, you might put shea butter or cocoa nut oil if it’s humid or jojoba, glycerin, or castor oil if it’s arid or dry.”

Wizzy says "Don't worry, peeps. I moisturize. hehe. Yeah."

OK. Now you ladies (and guys) know I can be an annoying pest. Ah man.  I didn’t want you to find out like this.  Sorry. The Lord is at work on me. Still working on being tactful. But I just wanted to share this story to demonstrate how hair knowledge and moisturizing is really important for maintaining length.  When I was little, my aunt had long dreads.  I asked her why her hair was so long.  She said because she didn’t comb it. So for the longest time, I was under the impression that the only black people who could have long hair, other than mixed people–please don’t blame me for my misconceptions; this is the world I grew up in now—were people with dreads.  What I did not realize is my aunt moisturized her hair.  (In fact, she now says she used to water it like she would water a plant. She has a relaxer now, because she is trying get a job. I will talk of that later.) Now, from my knowledge of hair and this investigation, I know that dreads can break off unnecessarily if not properly cared for (and so can mixed hair which I know from my own experiences.)  Most hair can get long if cared for well unless the person with the hair has some kind of medical condition. There could have been something else going on with his hair, but from our convo, the moisture thing is def an issue. Don’t get me wrong.  His hair was pretty nice. His mom maintained it well and his stylist maintains it well now. It was just not as long as it could be. Just thought I would update you and reinforce that daily moisturizing is highly important.

All the best on your hair journeys and what not. Please email me if you have any questions at oyiboprincess@gmail.com.  I am going to post the swimming bonus soon, but I am waiting to get permission from my professor to use a pic of his daughter.

As a treat for your patience, here is Timaya, among the estimated 1% of people with dreads in Nigeria right now. I believe it is the Yoruba who believe dreadlocks are evil because they represent shrines. However, nowadays, Nigerian celebrities and other entertainers wear them. Here’s the video: 

Disclaimer: I do not know whether Bob Marley did or whether Lil’ Wayne does moisturize daily. I do not know either of them personally and know nothing about their hair regimens. However, my mom had a colleague whose daughter went to school with Lil’ Wayne’s daughter so…there is a connection there, but I still do not know what he does with his hair.

Add a comment July 20, 2011

Hair Growth Tips Series Part III: Shampooing

Sorry everyone.  It has been soooo long since I have written for my hair growth series.  I have been busy doing the job search thing, but that is no excuse.  To make up for it, after writing this post, I will bring you a bonus post on hair growth and swimming/sports.

This post is about washing the hair.  From my knowledge, washing the hair does not help the hair to grow, but it is essential to a hair care regimen and there are a lot of mistakes that one can and that I have made that can prevent the hair from acquiring length.  Let’s take a look at my past mistakes.

Mistakes I used to make when washing my hair:

  • I did not finger-detangle or pre-poo the hair before washing.  =( Back when I had no idea what I was doing and my hair would get dirty, as most hair does, I would just start shampooing without any preparation which is the hair equivalent of diving into the shallow end of the pool head first. When I just shampooed without any preparation, I created more tangling and made the detangling process, which would happen later, much more difficult than it had to be. What I do now, which I have explained before, is  “pre-poo” the hair which means that I apply an oil (cocoa nut, olive, or vatika)  and don a plastic cap and towel on the hair and allow it to sit for one hour or more.  After allowing the oil to sit, I remove the towel and plastic cap and then I take the tangles out of my hair in four sections with my fingers (not a comb!) to ensure that I do not get a lot of tangles when it is wet.  There is a demonstration video way below.
  • I lathered and gathered the hair when shampooing like those white ladies on the Herbal Essence commercials.   X( When I stopped allowing my mom to do my hair at the age of 11, all of my long hair care role models for washing hair were the ladies on the Herbal Essence commercials. Come to think of it, the beauticians at the black hair salons also washed their client’s hair this way, including my hair. This does not promote hair growth (length retention). Why? Because kinky hair is more prone to tangles and more tangles equals more breakage, as I have been emphasizing. Although this mashing method is fun, when one mashes kinky-curly hair and swivels it together, more tangles form in the hair.   Instead, it’s better to…I will get to that later.

This is looks fun but please resist the temptation to wash your hair like this

Actually I am not sure that it is even good for naturally straight hair because I saw a Pantene commercial where the straight-haired white woman was washing her hair the way I recommend. Tangles are pretty much not wanted all around unless you have dreads I guess, but in that instance you don’t have to get rid of tangles anyway.

  • I shampooed the hair every time I washed.  =( Sounds silly but when you wash your hair, you do not actually need use a shampoo.  Shampoos, especially those with certain kinds of sulfates, dry the hair overtime and dryness leads to more breakage.   You can actually use a conditioner, usually a cheaper one, to wash. Strange? I know. haha.  Additionally, shampoo is really for the scalp, so as I was about to say earlier, it’s better to shampoo the scalp, because the scalp is what is more prone to getting oily and getting pimples on the scalp are not fun.  When you use a shampoo use a sulfate free shampoo or shampoo that lack certain types of sulfates such as ammonium laureth sulfate or lauryl sulfate.
  • Co-washed or shampooed the scalp only every time.  This seems to go against my most previous point, which is that you should only use conditioner or only shampoo the scalp.  Most of the time, I would say that you should either one of these things, but you also do not want product build-up on the hair.  This tip is not really for hair growth, but rather for preventing frizz which can be annoying.  Product build-up can be the cause of frizz.  In order to get rid of product build-up, use a clarifying shampoo that is sulfate free or lacks certain sulfates.  Most hair experts recommend using a clarifying shampoo once per month or one every other month.  When choosing a clarifying shampoo, be careful about the ingredients.  Which brings me to my next point.
  • I did not look at the labels on the shampoos I used. As I have been hinting before, the ingredients in your hair products are important. For shampoo, one of the most common ingredients that you want to avoid are certain kinds of sulfates.  Some hair experts say that all sulfates are bad for your hair, but sometimes it is not economically possible for everyone to avoid all sulfates. Certain ones are okay.

The following sulfates can dry the hair over time:

  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Tea Laureth Sulfate
  • Tea Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

The following sulfates are gentler and less likely to dry the hair:

  • Polyoxethylene Fatty Alcohols
  • PEG 80
  • Sorbitan Laurate
  • Decyl Polyglucose
  • Cocamidopropyl Sulfate
  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate

I do not have a long list right now but, you may want to check out these shampoos:

Contains No Laurel/Laureth Sulfates:

  1. Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle (from Trader Joe’s of course)
  2. The Whole Food’s 365 Brand Shampoos

Sulfate Free (Completely):

  1. Anything by Aubrey (Whole Foods)
  2. Anything by Burt’s Bees (Whole Foods and Walmart)
  3. Organix Nourishing Cocoa nut Milk Shampoo (Kroger, Walmart) –although it has protein which I would be careful with and I will talk about that later.
  4. Organix Tea Tree Mint Shampoo (Kroger, Walmart)
  5. Anything by BeeCeauticuls

Sulfate Free Clarifying (I recommend using these once in a while, like once per month every other week, but honestly listen to your scalp and hair. If there’s a lot of product build up then clarify)

  1. Aubrey Green Tea Clarifying Shampoo (I am using this now, but have not used it long enough to comment.  It is very fast acting so far and warm for some reason)
  2. Pure and Simple Clarifying Shampoo (Online I think)
  3. Cristophe Beverly Hills Purely Natural Clarifying Shampoo (CVS)
  4. Kinky Curly’s Come Clean

Okay let me know how this goes for you.  I hope you can find some that are economically sustainable for you.  I know how organic products can be expensive. Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle, The Whole Food’s 365 Brand Shampoos

For my 9ja peeps, I wish I knew what shampoos are sold down there, but I do not so you will just have to look at the ingredients, sorry.  If I am ever down there again, I will look in the stores and markets for you.  Although unfortunately, some of the shampoos may have Arabic writing on them.

I will explain the best way to wash the actual hair below.

  • I did not stretch the hair when shampooing. So this is what I was going to get to earlier.  This is the tip we’ve all been waiting for.  The great bambino! Okay.  Here it is. Sorry for drawing this out. Hehe. Okay. When you finally do get around to shampooing the actual hair, which I do not think should be often, stretch the hair.  To do this, shampoo in four sections, meaning divide the hair into four sections (or more, I would say around 8 is good up to 11 is fine) before you wash.  Then take one section at a time and rub the shampoo down the hair from root to tip.  Do this for every section. I would not recommend shampooing the ends, the driest and oldest part of the hair, because shampoo dries the hair and this part of the hair is more sensitive.  The shampoo should travel down to the ends when you rinse so you really do not need to focus on shampooing the ends.  When applying conditioner, use the same stretching technique, but focus on applying conditioner to the ends, because that is where conditioner is most needed.

This is a great example of how to wash the hair in order to maintain length:

Summary:

  1. Pre-wash. Use olive oil, cocoa nut oil, avocado oil, vatika oil, etc. to give yourself an oil
  2. Use a sulfate free shampoo if economically possible or use a shampoo that I recommended.
  3. Decide whether you really need to shampoo every time you wash or if you can utilize co-washing (washing with a conditioner)
  4. Decide whether you need to wash the scalp only to prevent drying the hair or if you need to wash your hair to prevent product build-up. Some natural hair experts never actually wash their actual hair, but only wash the scalp.  Some was their hair every month or two months
  5. Stretch the hair as you apply a shampoo, conditioner, or deep conditioning treatment.
  6. I do not recommend using a clarifying shampoo every time.  Only use when you have product buildup.
  7. Be careful with the ends
  8.    Dryness = breakage

That is all for today. I hope to have some styling videos up soon.  I am not sure when I will post next, because I am going to be really busy with job searching.  If I do find time, the next posts will be on deep conditioning, styling, your ends or/and understanding damage.  If you have any questions please leave a comment or email me at oyiboprincess@gmail.com. Okay o. Ẹ se! O dabọ. (That’s thank you and good bye in Yoruba).

Add a comment July 19, 2011

Hair Growth Tips Series Part II: Detangling

Olive Oil (yum)


This is a continuation of the hair growth series.  Here I will discuss detangling. I got the idea to write this section from my mom.  The other day, I walked upstairs and saw my mother in the bathroom combing her hair from root to tip.  I was horrified!! Not only was she combing it from root to tip but she was racking it violently as if she hated it.  Terrible. I couldn’t believe it. What is good about what I saw, however, is that if I had not seen her combing the hair like she hated it, I would not have thought to write this section on detangling carefully because I thought it was second hand nature to not comb your hair like this.  What she should have done was comb her hair from the bottom and worked her way up to the top (if she was going to detangling it with comb at all). Below are more tips on how to detangle and why.

Detangle once or twice per week or every two weeks

As a kinky curly, you do not want to detangle your hair every day because that causes unnecessary breakage, but you also do not want to ignore it for 2 months or more because this also causes unnecessary breakage.  Combing, brushing, high manipulation irritates the hair and causes breakage. You really have to decide how often you should detangle based on how much you lose after waiting for so long.

Ignoring your hair or leaving it in braids for two months or more at a time can also be a bad thing because of what the hair naturally does.  All human beings shed on average 100 hair strands every day.  One can tell the difference between a shed hair and a broken off hair, because the shed hairs have small white bulbs at the end.  If an individual with kinky and/or curly hair leaves their hair without detangling it for months on end, the shed hairs get caught on the healthy hairs which causes the healthy hair (or relatively healthy hair depending on whose head it belongs to) to break when it is finally detangled.  I know the difficulty and the horror here because I had braids for two months (twice) last summer and although I had a lot of hair growth, I also had a ton of breakage because hair was basically like a bunch of half done dread locks and detangling was a nightmare!!  In fact, I was so frustrated at the matted hair that I cut some of it off. When we (yes we, it took an entire team to get those braids out) finished unraveling the braids and detangling, I had hair loss the size of my head. And the breakage didn’t stop. It was the nightmare that kept on giving.  For months, I was trying to detangle that hair and in the end, my hair was thinner and shorter than when I started out. I know that  my hair does not normally do this, because I have only attached hair to my head to braid it three times in my entire life (okay I am actually describing my experiences with all three times, but I pretty much always lost a lot of hair).

So in summary, if you get braids, don’t leave them in too long and if you do, use an oil treatment, which I will describe below, to get the tangles out.  In fact, you may want to do several oil treatments and as always be gentle.

To detangle wet or to detangle dry? That is the question. (MacBeth. You got it wrong.)

Believe it or not there is some controversy in the kinky-curly community on whether we should detangle the hair while wet or whether we should detangle the hair while dry. Well let’s examine both briefly.

Detangling hair while dry:

  • Pros: It is not going to expand and break.
  • Cons: It is not slippery and therfore likely to break.

Detangling hair while dry:

  • Pros: It is more slippery and therefore easier to pull apart.
  • Cons: It is more likely to expand and therefore break.

So as you can see, detangling the hair while wet and detangling while dry both put the hair at risk for breakage.  But do not worry! There is still hope.

The best way to detangle : Pre-wash (oil treatment)

This is why I recommend a technique called pre-washing, also known as pre-pooing or an oil treatment.  This involves putting an oil (olive oil, cocoa nut oil, or avocado oil-yes, the kind from the kitchen) on the hair, putting a plastic cap and then a towel on their hair in order to trap the heat. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to overnight.  Take off the towel and plastic cap and divide hair into smaller sections.  Pull apart the small sections slowly and carefully starting from the ends.  I usually do this before washing but may try it when styling the hair.  Before, I heard about the pre-washing technique and used it right after hearing about it, but did not realize that it was a detangling technique. I would do everything up to the part where I allow oil to sit in the hair and then washed the oil out without detangling it. This was not good because I was not taking advantage of an important detangling opportunity.

As I said before, I recommend trying pre-washing after having braids in for a long time, although I probably will never get tiny braid extension every again.

If you do decide to detangle the hair while wet, please use a conditioner with a lot of slip or add olive oil to the conditioner.  Many ladies with long kinky-curly hair (and I used to do this too), detangle after deep conditioning for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to overnight, instead of detangling when first putting the conditioner on the hair. If you decide to do this, when finished deep conditioning, allow the water to run through the hair for about two seconds before detangling. Finger tangle the hair first by dividing the hair into small sections and carefully pulling the section apart from the bottom. If a particular piece of hair is stubborn or clumpy, drench the hair with more water using a spray bottle. Comb the finger detangled piece of hair if desired, but use a wide tooth comb and start from the bottom of the hair.

Sometimes I use both methods “dry” detangling (pre-washing) and “wet” detangling” or “dry” detanlging only.

Stretching (the good kind)

Whichever, method you choice, after washing your hair, your hair should be pretty well detangled. On wet kinky-curly hair, after detangling it, you should always stretch it out. If you do not, the tangles come back and you do not want that to happen, because the next time you detangle, it will be a nightmare and you will have more breakage than you want.

You can stretch the hair by:

  1.  Banding it.
  2. Braiding it.
  3. Twisting it.

I know I have said this before but I will make video tutorial on this soon. Banding the hair has accidently become one of new choice styles. I actually started making the video for banding the hair and will edit it once my new computer battery and charger are delivered to my parent’s house.

I am really thankful that I discovered the stretching technique, because, unfortunately wearing he hair in an afro was not helping me get any growth.

Summary

  1. Detangle the hair often (once per week) but not too often.
  2. Try pre-washing with an oil (see instructions above) on dry hair
  3. Finger detangle before combing if you decide to comb.
  4. Use a widetooth comb if you decide to comb.
  5. Be gentle; be nice.
  6. If you detangle while wet, do so after deep conditioning.
  7. Stretch the hair after detangling by braiding, banding or twisting it.

Okay. That’s all for today. Thanks everyone for tuning in. Next week expect another post on washing, conditioning, and/or styling. If you have any questions please leave a comment or email me at oyiboprincess@gmail.com. Okay o. Ẹ se! O dabọ. (That’s thank you and good bye in Yoruba).

Add a comment June 21, 2011

Hair Growth Tips Part I: Moisturizing

This is Part I of my weekly hair growth tips series. As I said before, it should really be called the anti-breakage series because most of the tips focus on preventing breakage which promotes length, but would you read the posts if they were titled the anti-breakage? Maybe. I am not trying to mislead anyone, but preventing damage/breakage is the first step to achieving long, healthy hair.  Here are some tips on moisturizing which should help to prevent breakage.

Moisturize daily

Moisturizing is highly important for kinky/curly hair.  Moisturizing is really important for all hair because dry hair is prone to breakage. However, kinky hair and curly hair tend to be drier than other hair types, so moisturizing is highly important for us if we want to retain length.

Now, how does one moisturize?  Well it’s quite simple. With water.  You can either moisturize with a water-based moisturizer or simple H2O. I just spray my hair with water in a spray bottle. Aloe Vera juice or gel is also good because it moisturizes and protects the acid mantle of the hair by giving the hair a desirable pH balance, which prevents breakage.  Some people recommend using a moisturizer or leave-in everyday, but that does not work for me and a lot of women who have kinky long hair also use water or a water mixed with some kind of plant-based fat or aloe vera juice everyday instead of the manufactured moisturizer.

In the summer just plain water is good for moisturizing, if you live in a humid climate.  In the winter and spring, because the climate is drier, I use water/castor-oil mix in the winter and spring.  Other ladies use a water and vegetable glycerin mix.  In the dryer months and climates, when and where the dew point, not to be confused with the temperature, is between 35°F or 50°F (1.7°C to 10°C), one wants to use a humectant with their water, which brings me to my next point.

Control the Moisture

After moisturizing it is important to control where the moisture goes.  When the dew point is between 35°F to 50°F (1.7°C to 10° C) , in other words when the weather is more arid or dry, you would want to use a humectant when moisturizing your hair.  Humectants are ingredients or substances that attract moisture. Water can move in and out of these ingredients.  Examples of humectants are Vegetable Glycerin, Castor Seed Oil, and Jojoba Oil. Honey is also a humectant, but I only recommend putting this in your deep conditioner which you should plan to wash out, because it is sticky and sweet and you would not want to attract bees or insects.

When the dew point is above 60° F (15°C) or in humid weather (in the summer if you live in the south eastern part of the US,  the rainy season if you live in a tropical area such as southern Nigeria, never if you live in Arizona or San Fransisco), you want to use an anti-humectant, also known as an emollient or sealant, on your hair after moisturizing. Anti-humectants prevent the moisture from going in or out.  In other words, these substances seal in the moisture. This important because in humid weather, the hair is more prone to frizz. Examples of anti-humectants are shea butter, cocoa nut oil, olive oil (which I only use as a pre-poo and I explained in my washing regimen and is also found here).

The products you use in certain seasons and weather are important. For example, I tried using shea butter in the winter (lower dew point) and it just looked like snot on top of my hair. Gross! However, I used shea butter in the summer after spraying my hair with water and my hair was beautiful.  Using humectants in humid weather can also cause frizz.

Season-specific spray bottle mixtures:

Dry season/winter/harmattan -dew point between 35°F to 50°F (1.7°C to 10° C)

  1.  Water only (“seal” ends with jojoba oil)
  2. Water and Castor oil (I use this)
  3. Water and Vegetable Glycerin
  4. Water and Aloe Vera Juice/Gel (“seal” ends with jojoba oil)
  5. Water, Castor oil, and Aloe Vera Juice/Gel
  6. Water, Vegetable Glycerin, and Aloe Vera Juice/Gel

Wet season/summer/rainy season – dew point 60° F (15°C) or higher

  1. Water only (seal with shea butter)
  2. Water only (seal with cocoa nut oil)
  3. Water and Aloe Vera Juice (seal with shea butter)
  4. Water and Aloe Vera Juice (seal with cocoa nut oil)

Warnings:

  1. If you buy aloe vera gel or juice in a bottle, make sure to refrigerate it after opening.
  2. To my American peeps, I found most of these products at Whole Foods, but it might be cheaper to buy them online.  You can find Pure Shea Butter at Super Walmart for about $5, but I get one scented with Lemon Grass.
  3. To my Nigerian peeps, I am sure you can find most of the anti-humectants (shea butter, cocoa nut oil) easily and the aloe vera gel, because they all come in raw form in West Africa, but make sure to heat or filter the water you use, if you can, because the water in Nigeria tends to have a high salt content, which can cause breakage. You probably will only need to humenctants (jojoba oil, vegetable glycerin, and castor oil) in the dry season or in the Northern part. I am not sure so you might want to check the dew point yourself.
  4. Avoid moisturizers or leave-in conditioners with mineral oil or petroleum. They are not moisturizing. They are supposed to seal in the moisture like the anti-humectants, yet they dry the hair over time and dryness is not something you want.  They also prevent the humectants from doing their job (attracting moisture).  I would avoid these especially in the winter.
  5. When moisturizing, focus on the ends of your hair, because that is the oldest part of the hair, meaning the part most prone to breakage.
  6. Moisturize daily
  7. There are other vegetable fats (hemp oil, avocoda oil, grapeseed oil, amla oil, flax oil, palm oil, etc.) which I have seen used by other curlies in the natural hair community. However, I have not experimented with them, nor do I know whether they are humectants or anti-humectancts. Feel free to research these and share your findings with me.

Thank you for reading my blog post. I hope you have found this information useful and if you have any questions, as always, please email me at oyiboprincess@gmail.com O dabo! =)

3 comments June 15, 2011

My Washing Regimen

I promised a few days ago that I would post my regimen and I have been working on that since, but I was trying to figure out a way to show my regimen that is less daunting to beginners. Now I am finally finished.  There are several regimens. Here is a quick outline:

  1. Wash or co-wash once per week.
    • Pre-poo and detangle
    • Wash/co-wash
    • Deep condition and detangle
    • Style
  2. Moisturize and seal every night.
  3. Preserve style if necessary every night.

Oh. That was not so complicated.  However, here I am only going to post my washing regimen right now, which is sort of complicated. So…let’s get it started. HA!

Wash/Co-wash regimen

  1. Prepooing:
    1. Pour a nickel size amount of oil on hands and rub hands together. (I use olive oil, cocoa nut oil, or Vatika oil, although other people recommend avocado oil and grape seed oil. Olive Oil, found in the grocery store, and Vatika Oil, found in the Indian Grocery store, might be the most economical.)
    2. With oily hands, divide the hair into four sections (oil provides slip and prevents breakage).
    3. On each section, rub the oil  from root to tip, focusing on the tip.
    4. Put a plastic heating or shower cap over head
    5. Put on something that can lock in the body head from your head such as a hair bonnet and then a stocking cap or alternatively you can use a towel.
    6. Allow to sit on hair anywhere from a 20 minutes to an hour, several hours or over night.
    7. Take off the stocking cap, bonnet, and plastic cap (or towel and plastic cap).
    8. Finger detangle the hair:
  •    Separate hair in smaller sections
  •    Pull apart the hair carefully starting from the bottom to take out the tangles
  •      I do this when the hair is dry in order to insure less tangles when the hair is wet (I will create a post amount dry vs. wet detangling later).
  1. Washing:
    1. Put water and a nickel amount of shampoo (or conditioner if you are co-washing) into spray bottle.
    2. Shake up the bottle
    3. Wet hair with warm (not hot) water
    4. Spray shampoo/water mix on the scalp (not the hair because shampooing is really for the scalp and can dry out the hair).
    5. Massage the scalp with finger tips for (not finger nails!!) for 60 seconds
    6. Rinse with warm water.

Note: I would recommend a shampoo, but I have not found one I like yet.  Most hair experts recommend a sulfate free shampoo.

Alternatively (Co-wash):

  1. Put a nickel size amount of a cheap conditioner in the palm of the hand. I use the Suave Tropical conditioner.
  2. Massage the conditioner into the scalp.
  3. Rinse.

Deep Conditioning*:

    1. Divide the hair into four sections
    2. Ring out excess water.
    3. Put the conditioner on each section. Focus on the ends of the hair.
    4. Put the plastic cap, bonnet, and stocking cap on the hair and allow it to sit for however long the instructions on the bottle tell you to.  You can also leave it on for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, and hour, several hours, or overnight. I personally have not been consistent about how long.
    5. After the conditioner has set in, take of the hair equipment, run hair under water for two seconds, not allowing the conditioner be washed out completely.
    6. Finger detangle the hair by pulling it a part carefully in small sections.  If a piece of hair is stubborn spray it with water and work with it with your fingers.  I got this idea from: beadsbraidsandbeyond  Ignore the muffin and cupcakes comments.
    7. After detangling one piece of hair, put that piece of hair in a two strand twist.
    8. After all hair is detangled and twisted, rinse hair with cold water (as cold as bearable). This closes the cuticle which prevents unnecessary breakage.
    9. Style the hair. I will be making videos for the styles. Sometimes I apply a leave-in conditioner at this point to keep the hair healthy and style at the same time.  I like Giovanni Direct Leave-in. Sometimes I do not apply a leave-in and I may spray aloe vera juice instead to close the cuticle which prevents breakage.  This depends on the style. Giovanni Direct Leave-in has aloe vera gel so the aloe is always there.  No matter what, after washing I always put a humectant (Castor Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, or Jojoba Oil) in dry months or an anti-humectant (Shea Butter, Cocoa-nut oil, etc.) in the humid months.

*Here I would use an organic conditioner.  Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose is very good but it is also very expensive. Cheaper alternatives I use are Herbal Essence Hello Hydration and Suave Tropical Conditioner with Cocoa nut oil.  However, when using these, mix them with honey and olive oil.

This is my washing regimen.  Although this seems like a long process, and it definitely can be when first starting out, do not be discouraged.  Making this easy is really a matter of making a habit doing the regimen.  However, I will say that not every regimen works for everyone, so you may have to do more researching and experimenting. I will post a series of hair tips which can help you to develop your own regimen, although not all at one time, so stayed tuned. Most of these tips are on preventing breakage, because preventing breakage is what promotes hair growth.

I am not sure if I was so clear in my explanation of my regimen, so I may make videos to supplement this once I find my camera. Please stay tuned for my nightly regimen, which is quite simple.    If you have any questions please comment or send me an email at oyiboprincess@gmail.com .

WARNING:

  • I do not towel dry my hair.  If it’s wet, I squeeze out the moisture with my hands or use an old T-shirt.

2 comments June 14, 2011

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