GOING NATURAL: IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

This post is a little long, but we had to pack it with a lot of information.  We’ve been getting a lot of questions about going natural.  A lot of people tend to fear the “Big Chop” but guess what? It’s not necessary.  The “Big Chop” is one option but you can also “Transition.”  Once you make that commitment to go natural, the choice is yours.

THE BIG CHOP

    Big Chop Collage

It’s exactly that. You make an appointment with a barber or your friend who can cut hair and cut off the permed hair.  Usually people do the Big Chop about a month after their last perm so there is a little bit of new growth left once the perm is cut off.  But by all means if you don’t mind the bald look, don’t wait, just do away with the perm.  Just make sure whoever is cutting your hair can do a good job.

Pros of the Big Chop:

1. Instant: You go from permed to natural immediately…well however long it takes to cut off the perm.

2. It’s Simpler:  Once you cut off the perm, there is only one texture to deal with (your sexy natural hair).  You don’t have to deal with two different textures as you would if you transitioned.

3. It’s Liberating: Short hair is easy to manage. You can just wash and go (I don’t mean that literally :) please take a little time to slap on some moisturiser).  And you will not have to run for cover when it rains.

4. Puts you in the Frame of Mind: Your hair is now natural and fewer people tend to turn back because the Big Chop usually provides some measure of finality to the decision to go natural.

5. Get to Know Your Hair: It gives you a chance to learn your hair and texture before there is too much of it to control.  This is the time to be a product junkie and determine how your hair behaves with various products.


Cons of the Big Chop:

1. Not so Sexy: You may not like the way you look with short hair.  For example, I decided against the Big Chop because I was nervous about the shape of my head and the short hair making me look unattractive, but Didi rocked it.  I think, make-up and certain earring choices (usually big/dramatic ones) help.

2. Few Styling Options: Your styling options will be limited until you get some length.  For the most part, people just cultivate their curl and wear it in a short fro.  You can also, try braids and weaves once you attain a little length or wigs to give you a break from the short fro.

3. People Talk: Everyone is going to have an opinion, and usually they won’t be positive about your choice to cut off your perm, especially if it was long and healthy.

TRANSITIONING

                                                                     transitioning hair

This is the gradual process of going natural.  Once you make the decision to go natural by transitioning, you have to stop using all chemicals and try to stay away from heat as much as possible.  Typically, transitioners will let their natural hair grow, and gradually cut off the permed ends.  This takes as long as you want it to.  You can transition until all the permed ends have been trimmed off or you can cut off the permed ends once your natural hair reaches a length that you’re comfortable with. With this option, keeping your hair well moisturized and treating it gently is important because you will have two very different textures.  Note: Please remember to comb your hair from the ends to the roots or you will pull it all out.

Pros of Transitioning:

1. No Shock: You can ease yourself into going natural.  The “Big Chop” can be a little traumatising if you are not mentally prepared.  You have time to learn your hair type and the regimen it will respond to.

2. More Styling Options: Since you’re likely to have more length, you have several styling options. Twists, Braid Outs, Twist Outs, Buns, Updos, Weaves, Braids, Wigs etc.

3. Control: You have more control over the length of your hair as you will determine when you want to cut the perm or trim.  Or you can just maintain your length i.e. when you grow an inch of hair, you cut off an inch of the perm.  And if you decide that you don’t want to go natural, it’s easier to change your mind (no don’t go back).

Cons of Transitioning:

1. Two Textures: You will have two textures and have to make sure you care for both or your hair will break. The products that work for natural hair may not work for your permed hair.  This option requires more care and patience from the get go.

2. Breakage: There is a lot of potential for breakage at the point where your natural hair meets your permed hair.

3. Inconsistent Texture: Although you have more styling options available to you, you will still have to be innovative with styles such as twists outs because the permed part of your hair will not achieve the same curl as the natural part.  You can resolve this by using curl rods or rollers.

Throw Away Your Hair Nets!

IMG_3459

Source

If I could go on a West African Campaign to eradicate hair nets, I would; that’s how much I hate hair nets. Many women here wear them and, sadly, hair dressers promote them as a good way to keep hair from bothering their clients while they sleep. However, although they can keep your hair in one place at night, the gaps in the nets actually do more damage than good because your hair is rubbing against your cotton pillowcase, which is in turn is drying out your hair and will eventually lead to breakage. This is the case whether you are relaxed or natural. The best way to prevent your hair from drying out is by using silk or satin to protect your hair.

Rather than using a hair net, try one of these solutions:

  1. Silk or Satin Scarf – You can tie these around your hair at night. They are great for getting your edges to lay flat after you’ve put some gel on them, but some people don’t like how tight they can feel and they can slip off at night.
  2. Silk or Satin Bonnet – these babies are really no fuss! You just pop it on and you are set. Now, these aren’t great for the restless sleeper because you can wake up in the morning to find the bonnet on the other side of the bed or even the floor.
  3. Silk or Satin Pillowcase – I’ve found this to be the easiest solution yet. Just replace your cotton pillow case with a silk or satin pillowcase and lay your head down. That’s it. You don’t have to worry about the issues you would with a scarf or bonnet and the pillowcase has the extra benefit of being cool, so you don’t feel hot at night when you sleep!

If you stay in Nigeria, you can purchase these products at the following locations:

  1. Olori
  2. Casa Bella Shops (Ikeja; The Palms in Lagos; The Shopright Shopping Mall (Apo, Abuja))

Swim Good

Source

Swimming + Chlorine + Natural Hair = A Natural Hair Disaster

Before a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead dipping my head in a pool.  I stayed in the doggy paddle lane, if I dared to do anything besides sitting in the shallow end of the pool.  However, in a bid to have the baddest body on the block, I realized swimming two or three times a week was a great way to cross-train without sweating.

Before I hit the pool, I put my hair in four or five flat twists (I can’t do cornrows) and applied a light coat of a cheapie conditioner (V05 or Suave), just in case any water seeped in to protect my hair. Then I put on not one, but two swim caps to make sure the water stayed out.

It was a simple routine but it worked perfectly. My hair stayed dry and I got really toned!

Let me know if you have any questions!!

(Thank you Maame for the post idea!)

PROTECTIVE STYLING: TO BRAID OR NOT TO BRAID

Judith Braids Collage

My hair has always been pretty thick.  In fact, getting it into a ponytail was always an adventure.  Last year, however I took my braids out and prepared myself for the adventure of pulling my hair into a ponytail and guess what?  I did it so easily, I was confused.

So I began to examine my hair and comparing it to old pictures and I realized that my hair had thinned.  Imagine!  I thought my hair was so resilient that things like hair loss did not apply to me.  Of course, then I paid attention to how much hair I’d shed after taking the braids out.  One year of frequent braiding had caused my hair to become thinner rather than protecting it as I thought.

At this point some of you may be thinking like I was–that it’s better to avoid braiding. WRONG.  Braiding is a great protective style.  You just have to do it the right way.  Here are some tips to help you avoid hair loss.

1.  Deep Condition:  Deep condition your hair before you braid.  I know I’ve said this before, but the best way to keep your hair healthy and strong is to make sure it’s moisturized.  Also, kanekalon is very drying so you want to reduce its drying effect.

2.  Stretch it Out:  Unless the person braiding knows how to handle natural hair gently, then after you wash and deep condition your hair, braid it, thread it, blow dry etc to stretch it out.  Stretched hair is easier to manage, so the hair braider is less likely to damage your hair because he/she cannot does not understand it.  Now you ladies in Africa know what I mean.  You know there have been several times you get irritated because the person braiding wants to run a small comb through your hair like it is permed and when your hair does not cooperate the war between hair braider and hair begins.

3. Resist the Tendency to Use Less Hair than Synthetic Hair: If you are braiding with synthetic hair/kanekalon, make sure that the amount of your hair taken to make each braid is about the same size/thickness as the synthetic hair being used to braid.  This prevents the synthetic hair from weighing down on your hair and causing your hair to pull out of the roots.

4. Keep it Lose:  Use hair braiders who are not heavy handed i.e. don’t make the braids tight.  Tight braids will strain your hair and cause it to fall out.  You may have to be very vigilant and keep reminding your hair braider to ease up. Braids CAN be done beautifully and neatly without making it tight.  In my opinion, you should be able to put your braids into a style (updo, ponytail, etc.) without wincing in pain, right after braiding.

5. Care for Your Hair While in Braids:  Wipe your scalp as frequently as you would normally wash your hair if it was not in braids and moisturize your hair.  I wipe my scalp by dipping cotton wool in an apple cider vinegar, water and peppermint rinse.  Then put some oil on my scalp,  spray my leave in conditioner or hair moisturizer on the braids and seal each braid with a butter–yes each braid.

6. Protect Your Hair When Going to Sleep:  We tend to think our hair is ensconced in braids so using a scarf or a satin pillowcase is not necessary.  However, our hair does stick out of the braids so continue to sleep with a scarf or satin pillowcase.  This will also help your braids look neater for longer.

7. Don’t Keep Your Braids for Too Long:  Remove the braids once your hair grows, enough that the braids start twisting and pulling at your hairline. This reduces the amount of tension and weight being put on your hair and reduces the chance of hair loss.  I have vowed not to keep my braids in for longer than 4 weeks as this is how long it takes my hair to grow out to a point where it starts to twist.

With these helpful tips AND some castor oil, the thickness of my hair is being restored.

Didi’s Daily Hair Care Routine

My daily hair care routine varies depending on how my hair is styled (e.g. braids, wigs, weaves, etc.).  When wearing my natural hair out, I keep things pretty simple.  The most important part of my routine is moisturizing my hair.  As naturals, we all fight the good fight when it comes to combating dryness. My weapon of choice is the L-O-C Method. LOC stands for Leave-in conditioner/Liquid, Oil and Cream.

Image

 

Directions for the LOC Method:

Step 1: Apply a Liquid (either I spray a mix of rosewater, coconut oil & water, or just plain ‘ole water).

Step 2: Apply an Oil. Recently, my hair has been drying out and castor oil is the only oil that has really made my hair feel soft.

Step 3: Apply a Cream. My cream of choice is a whipped shea butter I always make which leaves my hair feeling oh so soft!

I follow steps 1-3 every morning and night.  Some of you may not need to moisturize your hair twice a day, but my hair is prone to dryness, so it’s very necessary for me.

In the evenings, after moisturizing my hair, I massage my scalp for five minutes. Then, I tie my hair up with a satin scarf and I’m off to bed!

Stay tuned to learn how I moisturize my hair when I wear wigs!

Run from Humectants! Rainy Season is Upon Us!

Many of you Afrocurlitan’s are well aware that Rainy Season is either here or on its way.  Our hair will be bombarded with moisture during this heavily wet and humid time of year.  The humectants that we added into our moisturizers (like glycerin, honey, agave nectar, etc.) during Dry Season to promote moisture should be reduced. This helpful chart explains how humidity and humectants affect our natural hair.

Source

For more information about this topic, click on this link.

Hair Growth Challenge Update #1

Hey y’all!

I’m here to give my first update on  the 12 Inches in 12 Months Growth Hair Growth Challenge. Here is how I am incorporating the steps of the challenge in my regimen:

IMG_3021

I took this picture on Wednesday, after I finished washing my hair.  I’m bummed about having to cut a bit of my hair off, but I’m excited about this growth challenge!

On a random note: I have crazy shrinkage! My hair was wet here, but when it dries up, it turns into a twa.

 

During the Week:

  1. I moisturize my hair by spraying it with a mixture of water, olive oil, coconut oil, and rosewater and glycerin. I then apply coconut oil on my hair and seal in the ends with Cantu Shea Butter or a Whipped Shea Butter mix I made.
  2. I massage my scalp every night for 5 minutes with castor oil (a growth supplement). I normally set a timer on my phone and massage my scalp while watching tv so I don’t get bored.
  3. Then, I throw on a satin scarf before I go to bed.

Wash Day: 

  1. Click on this link to see my wash day regimen.
  2. In the past I’ve said finger detangling isn’t for me, but I decided to give it another shot. After doing some research, I noticed that a lot of waist length naturals normally finger detangle their hair. I did this by twisting my hair in about 12 small sections. I detangled one section of hair at a time and loaded the section with water and conditioner. Then, I slowly started raking my fingers through my hair from the tip up to the root. It took me about an hour and a half, but my hair was detangled! I think I’ll give this a go next week

Fitness:

I’m really trying to exercise regularly. I gained a few pounds over the last few months and I’m not happy about the extra weight. I exercise at least four times a week and I have incorporated yoga and HIIT (high intensity interval training) into my daily routine.

Diet:

Hi, my name is Didi and I love soda.  It’s a terrible habit, but there is something oh so satisfying about a cold bottle of Fanta! I’ve really tried to curb drinking soda by limiting myself to one bottle a week.  As far as food goes, I don’t eat red meat and mostly eat fish. Plus, I love fruits and vegetables, so I have a pretty well balanced diet.

I’m terrible about remembering to pills but I’ve been trying to take the following vitamins with my breakfast: Omega 3, Vitamin D, and two Gummy Bear Multi-vitamins (so yummy!)

Hair Styling:

Right now, I’ve been wearing updos everyday. I work in a pretty conservative field and updos are great because they look professional while protecting the ends of my hair!

Prayer?

I actually did give prayer a go a few days ago (click on this link to see our previous post about prayer and hair growth). I figured that it couldn’t hurt. As a Christian, we are taught to bring everything to God in prayer. So, I asked God to help me along my hair growth journey and to give me the wisdom to know how to in incorporate the steps of the challenge into my hair regimen. To be honest, I kind of felt silly asking God to help me grow my hair out…

 

How is the challenge working out for you? Let us know which steps you are incorporating into your hair regimen!

 

Click here for more support and ideas in the original thread on Long Hair Care Forum.

The MYTH About Shea Butter

9964290-shea-butter-with-the-seeds

 Shea Butter is the BESTEST Moisturizer for your hair!!! WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!

Shea Butter is more of a SEALANT than a moisturizer!!!  A lot of you have read, been told or just guessed that shea butter will quench your thirsty curls.  For some that may have happened, but I’m sure a lot of you may experience soft hair upon application but within a few hours or a day, the hair feels dry or brittle.  Some of you may even have experienced breakage and increased shedding.  This is because, what you won’t often read or hear is how to properly use shea butter to moisturize your hair.

So i’ll say it again, shea butter is a SEALANT.  This means you should use it to seal moisture into your hair.  The proper way to reap the benefits of shea butter is to use it to seal in the water in your damp hair after your wash or to dampen your hair then apply the shea butter to it.  Note: water is the moisturiser (the best and cheapest moisturiser available in my opinion) and shea butter is the sealant that will seal in the moisture.  Shea butter, because of its emolliating properties, will seal in moisture without leaving your hair heavy and greasy.

Using shea butter this way will increase the chances of you getting all of its fantastic benefits such as:

  • Enhances the moisture you put in your hair;
  • Leaves your hair healthy and shiny;
  • Soothes dryness, repairs breakage and mends split ends due to the vitamins A and E it contains;
  • It softens your curls and makes them pliable;
  • It leaves little to no residue (if you don’t use too much);
  • It acts as a heat protector (from the sun, curling irons, and dryers);
  • It absorbs easily and quickly into the scalp without clogging pores;
  • Helps heal scalp problems such as dry scalp, psoriasis, eczema, dandruff and dermatitis

 

Pray Your Way to Long Hair

Hey Ladies,

So a few days ago I asked you all to join me in the growth challenge, 12 Inches in 12 Months. I’ve gotten a great response from quite a few of you and I’m so excited about the progress we are sure to see over the next year!  I was on YouTube earlier today, researching regimens of naturals with long type 4 hair, so I could incorporate some of their useful ideas into my regimen, when I came across this video:

The vlogger, Dephne Madyara, has gorgeous, long, thick natural hair and I was very interested to learn how she grew her hair up to 20 inches just 3 years after her big chop. The first thing she pointed out was that she prayed to God to help her grow her hair out.  She also quoted 1 Corinthians 11:15 which says, “ But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”  Funny enough, I actually spoke about this verse with a friend yesterday, in relation to having to cover my hair at church, since many churches in smaller towns in Nigeria require women to go to church with a head covering, but I never thought about it in the context of growing out my hair.

What are your thoughts?  Will you incorporate prayer into your hair growth regimen?