Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dry Hair Issues?...There's Help for You.

I get questions about dry hair 24/7....exaggerated, but I get asked for advice on dry hair a lot.  First, dry hair is normal for Afro textures so know you're not alone.  It isn't good, but it is normal.  There are ways to keep the hair moist for longer periods of time, but, it takes effort and daily assesment of your hairs needs.  If you are not following some type of moisture routine, daily or as needed, the hair will  automatically revert back to being dry once the moisture evaporates.  Here are a few tips you can try to keep your hair moist...all the time.  This can be followed daily or on an as needed basis.

1. Add oil to your conditioner/ leave-in. Works wonders on keeping the hair moist especially when followed by a steam treatment after the mix is applied.  Try this once or twice a week, leaving it in overnight when at all possible and rinse in the morning.

"Love is in the Hair" Conditioning Treatment

2. Shampooing with harsh shampoos or shampooing too often (even with sulfate free cleansers) can contribute to dry hair. Depending on the amount of products and the type of products in your hair, washing with conditioner can help alleviate dry hair issues.  Cleansing with bentonite clay or ayurvedic soap nuts called Reetha (can be purchased at Indian markets or online) are both excellent natural alternatives for shampoo.

3. Rinse with vinegar. One part vinegar 2 parts water rinse the hair after 5 to 10. It took me awhile before I became comfortable with this rinse. I don't enjoy the smell of apple cider vinegar which kept me from wanting to use it on my hair...until I did, and came to find the scent doesn't linger at all. By the time I add product and style I can't smell it anymore. My kynxx had more natural shine afterwards and it helps diminish frizz.

4. Apply butter/oil on hair while wet, or seal the hair.   Doesn't have to be dripping but at least damp, (the type of oil you use should cater to the needs of your hair.  I use olive oil, rosemary & lavender essential oil because my hair is subject to shed if I don't keep it in check, all 3 of those help stop excessive hair shedding). Look for products or make your own with a base of oil/ butter or mix a combination of a few that will address the specific needs of your hair. 

When purchasing sealants (butters and oils) settle on the one that retains the most moisture over time.  If you apply it at night on wet hair and twist, assess how long your hair stays moist once it's applied...if you can go an entire 24 hrs or longer with your hair exposed to air without needing to re-apply at the end of the day, you've found a winner! I've tried a few that provided that type of sealing but what works for me may not work for you.  Results are strongly dependent upon the condition of your hair.

5. Use or make you own moisturizers include water and/or Aloe Vera juice as the 1st to 3rd ingredient on the label (this way you know there is a high content of water which is the best moisturizer). Aloe Vera juice can restore the proper balance to your hair and scalp no matter how oily or how dry.

6. Try hot oil treatments. They work wonders. Use olive, jojoba, or any light oil that will penetrate the hair shaft and allow moisture to enter. Warm the oil by placing it in a small plastic hair dye applicator bottle in a bowl of very warm water for a minute and check the temperature on your wrist prior to applying, like the one shown below that I use:

7. Style the hair while its wet and allow to hair dry. Avoid brushing the hair when possible while hair is wet and if you do vent or bore brushes are less likely to snap, tear, or break hair.  If you prefer to style your hair when it's not net, then plait it and alow it to air dry so it will be stretched once it is un-braided and easier to manage.  Once it dries, add a water based moisturizer to it before combing and styling.  Wearing protective styles with the ends of the hair tucked increases the longevity of moisture in the hair without needing to add product so often, (this is not the only way to retain moisture but if you're having difficulty with excessive dryness it is one of the best ways to style your hair until the moisture level increases the ability for moisture to be retained.)

8. Assess the porosity of your hair. Porosity describes your hair's ability to absorb water in to the cortex.  The more porous the hair is the more water it will absorb...and lose because the hairs cuticle layer is damaged and releases moisture almost as quickly as it is absorbed.  This is not good because what's happening is your hair is absorbing too much water stretching the hair beyond the normal range it should be absorbing, then drying out which over time weakens your hair, causing it to break.  This is also why you may find yourself needing to moisturize several times throughout the day in effort to keep the hair from drying.  Highly porous hair tends to dry faster as well and is a good sign for you to use in your assessment.  Most Afro textured hair is usually porous due to chemicals we use and heat.  Again, vinegar rinses are beneficial in normalizing the hairs porosity level because it closes the cuticle layer of the hair allowing the hair to trap in moisture for longer periods of time.

 To assess the porosity level take one strand of hair and place it in water.  Come back after about 5 minutes to see if the hair is floating or sinking (it may not take 5 minutes for the hair to sink in some cases).  If it sinks to the bottom your hair's porosity level is high and you can try to correct it by treating it with ACV rinses and/or adding protein treatments to your regimen every 6 weeks until the hair no longer sinks during the porosity check.   Protein repairs the damaged and weak parts of the cuticle layer allowing the hair to hold in moisture yet stops the hair from being over stretched and absorbing out of it's normal range which is 30% of it's weight.  You want to look for products that have keratin, or reconstruct, amino acids, or protein on the name or ingredient label.  Here is a demo of the Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment and how to apply it: [CLICK HERE]  After completing a protein ALWAYS follow up with a moisturizer to keep the hair in its proper protein/moisture balance.  Porosity Control by Roux is also a great product for addressing porosity issues.

9. You should assess dryness at least once daily. Try not to wait until the hair is parched and you can hear the dryness when you touch it, (yes you can hear dryness, sounds like sand paper rubbing together). Keeping the hair moist dramatically increases the health of hair and ability to retain length.

10. Last but not least, hydrate internally by drinking lot's of water everyday.  It's recommended we drink at least 64oz each day.  For some strange reason for me this is the easiest of all the above mentioned yet the most difficult for me to stick to. Anywho, drink up!! 

** These tips may not work for everyone.  I say that because I meet women who say they want longer healthier  hair but the styles they choose are counter productive to achieving those goals.  *Daily flat ironing, use of blow dryers, hot rollers and chemical relaxers and hair dyes will dramatically decrease the hairs ability to retain moisture if constant care isn't being put into your hair.  Care in the way it is handled, care in the product choices you make, care in the way you choose to sleep with your hair at night will help reduce dryness as well.

We all want to feel pretty and some women just don't like wearing their hair in its natural state or wearing natural hair styles.  I totally understand.  I just want those of you who have not come to embrace shrinkage or your natural texture to know there is work that has to be done to correct excessive dryness if you chose to use styling and hair care methods that are damaging as listed above*, natural or relaxed, the above suggestions can be used.  Keep in mind if you wear your hair straight and like it to have body, using oils/butter will weigh the hair down and decrease it's ability to move freely. So heat protectants should be used in place of oils for straightening hair although I've heard grapeseed oil is a wonderful heat protectant.

Like I always say, learning your hair is the key.  Trying different treatments for your hair is the only way you will ever know what your hair responds best to.  If you don't feel confident making the choice on your own seek advice from a healthy natural hair stylist to help you, like me.  Once you find what methods your hair responds best to, don't be ashamed when you visit your stylist to tell him or her what you prefer using.  Bring your own products if your stylist doesn't carry them.  Be a part of the process.

If I left out anything please feel free to leave a suggestion below you find beneficial.  Thanks for reading.


"Luv Is In The Hair" Deep Treatment

I'm always open to trying deep conditioning recipes, especially homemade, and semi-homemade ones.  I came across this one while visiting the blog of Mahogany Curls.  I checked the book Curly Girls out at the library November 2010 and wrote a book review on it.  [CLICK TO READ REVIEW]  I should have just purchased the book as now I've learned it to be a great reference guide to caring for curly hair.  In the book there is a deep conditioning recipe is called "Love Is In The Hair".  Based on the results I read on Mahogany Curls review, I knew I had to give it a try.

This is the recipe for "Love is in the Hair" deep conditioning treatment I used (Shea butter only may be substituted for Extra Virgin Olive Oil I used both as Shea Moisture's Deep Treatment Mask is Shea based)
  • 2 tbsp Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Mask
  • 2 tbsp Treseme' Naturals Silicone Free Radiant Volume Conditioner
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil

I sectioned my hair into quads, parting front to back, ear to ear, and applied from root to tip.  Rosemary definitely stimulates those follicles, I felt a bit of tingle.

I always saturate the ends of my hair with conditioner....

I decided to steam for 20 minutes after I applied the treatment early morning.  I styled  a couple of clients while the conditioner sat on my hair and rinsed it after about 6 hours later that evening.

These photos of my hair are once the conditioner was rinsed and my hair air dried without any product.  I absolutely love it!!! My curls actually have definition without any product and shine as well.  It didn't feel oily or weighed down at all and it felt soft as butter.  Two huge thumbs up for "Love Is In The Hair"!

I decided to style my hair in my go to Top Knot Bun.  I just love the simplicity of this hair style.  It can be worn dressed up or down for any occasion.  To view a tutorial on the Top Knot Bun [CLICK HERE]


Friday, March 16, 2012

My First Steam Treatment...of Many!

After months of researching I finally settled on a hair steamer.  I'd heard so much about all the different types of steamers and decided to purchase a salon quality stand up steamer instead of a table top.  Since my salon is in home, it thought it best to have one that can be rolled around in the event I may need to use it in my bedroom as well.  One of my sweet Facebook supporters sent a link to my page a few weeks back recommending the steamer shown above.  At the time, I wasn't ready to purchase one but visited the site on e-bay, read the reviews, and pretty much settled on purchasing it but still continued shopping around for other styles and brands.  I finalized my decision when I returned to the e-bay store to find the steamer on sale for $10 less then it was originally priced including shipping.  I luv catching deals!

For those who are new to steam treatments, here is a list of benefits of consistently having the hair steamed:

1. Up to 5x added moisture, than using a hooded or heat dryer

 2. Increased Shine

3. More manageable new growth

4. Softer feeling hair

5. Lessens shedding/breaking hair

6. Decrease in dandruff cause by dry scalp

7. Hair will be easier to detangle

If your hair is dry or damaged, you can use the hair steamer twice a week to maintain a healthy moisture level in your hair.  There are some who say the best way to steam treat is with a steam cap on the hair after your conditioner of choice has been added.  From day one I knew not to use a cap because to me it's counter productive.  If one wears a cap during the treatment, steam vapors won't penetrate and open the cuticle.   You want the conditioner to absorb into the hair shaft and to me wearing a cap lessens the ability for that to happen.

I decided to challenge the steam treatment by doing it immediately following a henna treatment.  Henna tends to dry my hair out and it takes a day or so for my hair to get back to it's normal moisture level.  I figured why not henna first then do the steam treatment.  If my hair will benefit like the list above claims to have on hair after a henna treatment then I know it was definitely a wise investment.  In the two photographs above I'd just rinsed henna from my hair.  My curls where elongated (a temporary result of henna due to the weight of the paste on my hair), my hair was extremely dry and dull looking, and I still had a little henna in my hair. 
I used this instant conditioner to help remove the remainder of henna paste I'd had in my hair prior to applying the deep conditioning treatment.

So on with the DC using the above product.  At times, I use this as a styler instead of a DC because it gives my hair a slight hold and locks in moisture for my wash n'go's.  This time I decided to use it as intended as a base for the steam treatment.  I didn't pack it on, I used it lightly concentrating on the ends of my hair.  I was crossing my fingers in hopes my curls would pop back...

One thing I didn't realize was this thing gets HOT!  I don't know why I thought it wouldn't after all it is steam, steam causes burns too.  This steamer has an up to 60 minute timer and 2 settings 400 and 750 watt.  I initially set it for 20 minutes, after about 5 minutes I had to change it to the 400 watt setting and still used my microfiber towel to cover my forehead at times.  For the most part however, it was comfortable once I lowered the wattage.  Another thing I noticed and didn't care for was that where hood is, water collects in a small tray around the rim...when it fills up, it leaks.  I'll be reading over my instructions again to see if I might have missed something during assembly.

 This photo was taken right after coming from underneath the steamer prior to rinsing the conditioner.  I was elated to see the elasticity in my curls return, how soft my hair felt, and how it only required 20 minutes of my time.  When using my hooded dryer after a henna treatment I would usually stay under at least 45 minutes to ensure the moisture level was restored to my hair and it never felt as soft as it did from the steamer. 

...and voilà ...once my cool rinsed all of the conditioner from my hair, curls and moisture were restored as well as added shine and my hair was soft as butter, even after the conditioner was rinsed.  I don't have dry scalp nor dandruff issues so I can't provide feedback on how effective it is just yet.  I 'll have to wait on my next client who schedules a treatment to help alleviate dry scalp or dandruff to really tell if it's beneficial.  I also noticed my hair was much easier to part and detangle.  Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque doesn't have any detangling properties, at least not on my hair which is why I prefer it as a styler.  One of the main properties I look for a conditioner to provide my hair is the ability to detangle my hair with ease.  Moving forward, I'll be using SMDTM as it were intended now I have a steamer.

Let's take a look at the results:

It's obvious my hair has tons of shine and it even looks more full...take a look at the close ups as well and compare...you can't miss it.  I'm hooked!!

My favorite part...my weekly styling.  I decided to continue with another protective for the next week or so and jazzed it up this time adding gold ribbon I'd purchased from Michael's crafts for .25 cents for the spool on clearance.  No tutorial on this one as it is very similar to the previous weeks large cornrow protective style I wore.  This time, I returned to my old faithful Kinky Curly curling custard for my roots and used Shea Moisture Curling Souffle` on my lengths.  I really love the way the souffle` kept my hair so moist without me needing to add more product or even water for that matter even after I took it down and wore a braid/twist out my hair was moist...I'm liking it more now as I'm learing how to use it to suit my hairs needs.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fried Zucchini Rounds-Vegetarian

One of the many things I miss about living in California is the food.  You can stop and any burger joint and order up a batch of fried zucchini for just under $3.  In the few years I've been in Texas I haven't found one place that serves this delicious appetizer.  I rarely afford myself the luxury of eating fried foods especially since I've stopped eating meat.  In effort to satisfy my desire for this deep fried delectable I decided I'd try making some from home and replaced using vegetable oil with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Before I post the recipe...check out this AWESOME chopping board my son surprised me with.  He made it for me in his wood shop class.  I appreciate him so much...for me, everyday is Mother's day :o)

I choose a batter mix I found at a local grocery store.  On the label it stated it could be used for chicken, fish, and vegetables.
I'm big on seasoning.  It's all about bringing out the best flavor in food. 

I used one cup of batter mix and 3/4 cup of water added the seasoning's and mixed with a spoon.

Olive oil will burn so I never pre-heat.  Once the zucchini was coated with batter I turned on the burner to medium high setting and allowed the oil to heat up for about 2-3 minutes.

 I turned each round after about 2 minutes of cooking per side and removed from the oil placing the finished rounds on a bed of paper towels to absorb excess oil.
 Bon Appétit

Benefits of drinking ice cold lemon water:
The body requires extra energy to warm up the cold water that you drink up to normal body temperature when it is absorbed into the bloodstream. That is the reason why you feel cold when you drink cold water. Your body is trying to burn extra calories to keep up your body's temperature. In fact, numerous studies have found that the stomach absorbs cold water faster when compared to warm water, thus cold water enters the bloodstream even faster, thereby contributing further to the cold feelings that you get when you drinking a big glass of cold water. [source]

Being raised by a Mother who believed in nature's remedies, she would often reference her favorite health book, Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss, published in 1972.  In the  book, Kloss lists the many benefits of drinking lemon water:

Helps purify the blood and will also control a tendency to bleed
Assists in lowering high blood pressure
Reduces the amount of phlegm in the body
Relieves symptoms of asthma, allergies and other respiratory problems
Nourishes brain and nerve cells due to its potassium content
Helps dissolves gallstones, calcium deposits, kidney stones, and pancreatic stones
In pregnancy, it will help build strong bones in the child.

Book sold on Amazon.com

Happy Healthy Eating!!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How~to get the MOST out of your protective style.

I started off the week with the protective style below with the intention of wearing it for one week.  For those who don't know a protective hair style is one that requires little or no manipulation of your hair for days at a time.  The ends of the hair should be tucked and unexposed, like when wearing a french roll or bun.  Protective styles help to increase the hairs ability to retain length, moisture, and prolong having to re-style.

Sunday evening.
Wednesday morning.

Friday evening.

I wore this style for 5 full days and zero frizz at the end of the week and super moist hair especially on my ends.  I equate this to  have used the Curling Souffle on wet hair and pinning up the ends protecting them from rubbing on anything and outdoor temperatures. It almost looks as if my hair hasn't grown it stayed so neat.  It grew plenty...

 Remember, my cornrows were braided to the scalp on day one.  By day 5 I was able to easily pull the braid off from my scalp at least 1/4  of an inch.  It held up so well, I could have worn it I'd say about 4 more days before it would need to come down.  Next one I do, I'm leaving it up until I see frizz, or the parts no longer show.

Too keep my hair looking neat, used the scarf below.  I have several different types of satin scarves and I choose the one I'm going to use based on the hairstyle.  I often use DuRags to maintain my mini twists as I wrap them just like wrapping flat ironed hair at night.  A DuRag would have caused my bun in the back to smash so I used the one below, which kept my braids flat and frizz free without smashing my bun.

During the 5 days of wearing this style, I didn't need to add any additional product nor water to my hair.  I took it down and wore the styles shown below.   I could have worn it a few additional days but decided to follow my weekly regimen and start all over for the upcoming week.

Saturday morning. 

Front loosely pinned back with bobby pins on both sides.

I couldn't deal with the sticky feel of  the Souffle' so I switched it up a bit by using a banana clip to pull my hair from my neck leaving a few curls hanging in the front...

No matter how well the hair is tied down, choosing the right styling product is a huge factor in getting prolonged wear from your protective style. With the right product to keep your hair moist enough not to have to touch or manipulate it and a satin scarf, you can extend the wear of your style.