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.

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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:

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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

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 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?

 

Join Me: 12 Inches in 12 Months Hair Growth Challenge

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Hey Ladies!

Now that I have learned how to really take care of my hair and know what products work best for me, I’d like to challenge myself by seeing how long I can grow my hair!  After a horrible ordeal at a salon this week (I’ll make a post later in the week about this), I was forced to trim off about two and a half inches of my hair, putting me at bra-strap length. I’m on a mission to grow my hair back! I often lurk on Long Hair Care Forum and I came across the challenge, 12 inches in 12 months.  It started on the 30th of April and ends on the 1st of May, 2014.  It’s not too late to start and if you are interested, feel free to join me and also post on the forum as well! I will post an update every few weeks about my progress and also try and post progress pictures (which I don’t normally take, I’m more of a ‘Big Reveal’ type of girl) every two months.

THE RULES

(you don’t have to do everything on the list)

1. Scalp massages everyday – we should be moisturising everyday even with protective styling so take a few minutes to massage your scalp with your fingers!). If you have soreness, avoid that area of your head and/or do it more gentler like a relaxing gentle massage, these few minutes could be your relaxation and reflection or the day I suggest incorporating oils, e.g a carrier oil mixed with essential oil. My carrier oil will be castor oil and trying mixing it with different essential oils e.g peppermint.
2. Protective styles/low manipulation styles at at least 3 to 5 days out of the week.
3. No heat until April 30, 2014 – Exceptions for special occasions and if so, stretch out your hair first using Curlformers and/or overnight twist outs/braid outs (detangle first), unravel in the morning, spritz with water spray, blow dry on low heat and always use lots of heat protection! Only use heat if you have to.
4. Mild exercise often - this could be in the form of a brisk walk daily. Alter/cater for your wants/needs.
5. Incorporate either the Green House Effect or baggying method nightly/weekly (depends on what styles you’ll be having)
6. Only get trims when necessary and if so use the “search and destroy” method.
7. Moisturize and seal everyday.
8. Whenever you shampoo, co-wash and deep conditioning, pre-poo if you must (particularly coconut oil to reduce swelling), make sure to detangle (includes finger combing) and divide hair into sections when washing it.
9. In the winter months/dry season when wearing hats, wear either a silk bonnet underneath the hat OR have silk lining in the hat to protect hair.
10. Sleep with a silk or satin scarf every night or a silk pillowcase and/or both!
11. Drink lots of water - It’s great for your health and allows nutrients to circulate throughout your body, including your scalp.
12. Eat a healthy and BALANCED diet. Make sure to try and incorporate many fruits and vegetables a day.

      Some foods that really promote hair growth:

  • fish (omega 3 fatty acids), eggs (omega three fatty acids),
  • oranges (full of vitamin c),
  • nuts (particularly almonds which strengthen hair and produces a shine),
  • carrots (full of vitamin A and makes hair shiny),
  • broccoli (calcium), spinach,
  • bananas (full of biotin),
  • meat/fish (protein), etc.

As for vegetables, even if you don’t like them now, your taste buds will adapt to the tastes and you may start to love them!

13. Take a daily multi-vitamin.
14. Use a growth aid. It can be anything from (e.g. castor oil, Jamaican black castor oil, MSM pills, biotin, etc.)
15. Reduce stress. Don’t worry, be happy! Yoga, meditation, relaxing, simply reduce it because it can slow down hair growth. SLEEP. SMILE. BREATHE – scalp massages in #1 can help!
16. If you are relaxed/texlaxed/transitioning, try your best to stretch your relaxers to as long as you feel is reasonable. Simply try to keep your hair in the best shape possible.
17. Every day, say a positive affirmation about yourself to motivate yourself. If you believe, YOU ARE.
18. Every two months (end of that month) do a length check to see how you are coming along.
19. Every month simply post about how you’re doing and how much growth you have had

JUDITH’S TOP 5 MUST HAVE HAIR PRODUCTS

There are 5 hair products (in reality more than 5 but Didi says I must pick 5) that I cannot live without.  Luckily, I have been able to find 4 out of 5 of them in Ghana.

1. Castor Oil:  I loooovee this oil.  I have curly, thick and rude hair so castor oil keeps my hair in check.  Because of my tight curls, my hair does not absorb moisture easily but it thrives on moisture, so castor oil (a humectant) is a great addition to my hair care.

How I use it: I put it in my avocado based deep conditioner as well as in my hair mist.  My current hair moisturizer is also castor oil based.

Benefits:  Castor oil, used on the scalp, stimulates hair.  It’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties are great for preventing hair loss.  It penetrates the hair shaft to prevent breakage and splits and also helps the hair retain moisture.  It can also be used as a sealant, after moisturizing with a water based product.

Where to Find Castor Oil: You can find castor oil in most pharmacies and shops in Ghana.  It’s usually right next to the glycerin.  The 70 ml bottle costs Ghc 5.  It’s a very thick oil so a little goes a long way.

castor oil

 

2.  Avocado:  I deep condition my hair with avocado every week.  My hair is going to be very sad when it goes out of season.

How I Use it: I blend avocado with oils, honey and sometimes protein and use the mix as my deep conditioner.

Benefits: Avocado penetrates the hair to add shine and oil.  It softens the hair.  It also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which are important for hair growth.

Where to Find Avocado: I buy avocado from the market or the street side fruit and vegetable stalls.  I use ripe avocado that’s still a little firm.  I’ve noticed that the mushy ones don’t work as well.  One costs anywhere from Ghc 1 to Ghc 3.

 

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3. Coconut Oil:  I use pure cold pressed coconut oil in my hair mist, my deep conditioner and to seal moisture into my hair.  I prefer to use the virgin coconut oil.  Virgin coconut oil looks clear like water and does not smell sweet.  You can contact me (I make my own cold pressed coconut oil) or buy it from the store next to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

coconut oil

4. Apple Cider Vinegar (“ACV”):  I cleanse my hair with an ACV rinse once a week.  Since I use a lot of oils and gel in my hair, I try to make sure that I don’t have build up.  Product build up can prevent your hair from absorbing moisture and as I said above, my hair thrives on moisture.  ACV also helps detangle my hair. You can buy ACV from  most grocery stores and pharmacies in Ghana.  I have seen the 250 ml Borges ACV ranging from Ghc 11 to Ghc 16.  I usually buy the Safari Brand from Shoprite at the Accra Mall.  I think it costs about Ghc 3.

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5. Qhemet Biologics Amla & Olive Heavy Cream: This is the moisturizer I have been using for the last three years.  This stuff is amazing!  It really penetrates and moisturizes my hair.  I am working on currently making a moisturizer that is just as good and as soon as it is ready you guys will be the first to know. Unfortunately I have been unable to find this moisturizer in Ghana.  I usually have someone bring me a tub or two from America.  I buy it directly from the store at this website  http://www.qhemetbiologics.com/product_p/aohc.htm.  It is  a little pricey but it works wonders on my coarse hair.

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 Written By Judith :)

 

Judith and Didi’s Wash Day

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Washing your hair is an essential part of your hair care regimen.  Your hair will neither grow well nor be healthy if your hair or your scalp are dirty.  We recommend washing your hair at least once a week.  

We wanted to bring some different perspectives for wash day.  It works out well because we have different regimens.  Didi does not believe in using shampoo and Judith does.  We will post about the pros and cons of using shampoo another day but for now let’s focus on wash day.  

 Washing your hair should not be rushed or you will damage your hair.

Despite the differences in using shampoo or not, there is one thing that you must always do to attain healthy hair (that retains length if that is your goal).  Moisturize! Moisturize!Moisturize!

Judith’s Wash Day

1.  Pre-Poo: This step is optional.  I usually pre-poo depending on how tangled I think my hair will be because of whatever styles I’ve done during the week.  We will post on how to pre-poo and the benefits soon.

2.  Hair Sectioning: I section my hair into about 6-8 parts.  If your hair is really thick you may need more sections and if your hair is thinner you may need less sections.

3.  Detangling:   I detangle with my fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb.  I take one section and run my fingers gently through my dry hair (sometimes I spray my hair with a little bit of my mix of rosewater and glycerin).  Only when my tangles have loosened up, do I take the comb and gently comb from the tips to the roots until I can run the comb through my hair easily i.e. it does not snag on any tangles.  When I run into any knots that will not unravel, I cut it off with a small pair of scissors.  DO NOT snap/pull the knot off because you will cause the hair strand to split. I repeat this process with all the sections.  If your hair is long, put each section in a very loose braid or twist.  This will reduce the tangling of your hair once you begin washing it. 

To prepare your hair to absorb the moisture you are going to give it and make it more manageable, you should detangle your hair. Detangling loosens the kinks so your hair can absorb moisture.

4. Wash: Shampoo Method:  I drench my hair with warm water then wash it with SULFATE FREE shampoo.  I tend to use this opportunity to massage my scalp for about 5 minutes.  [Massaging your scalp stimulates hair growth.]  Then I wash the shampoo out and repeat the process. 

The shampoo you choose should not leave your hair feeling dry or leave any residue on your hair.  For now I use the shampoos from the Shea Moisture Brand.  They are relatively cheap and leave my hair feeling AMAZING.  I am in the process of creating a shampoo using natural products that I can find in Ghana.  You will be the first to know once it is perfect.

5.  ACV Rinse: I pour the ACV rinse on my hair, making sure my ends get a good dose, then massage it into my hair and scalp.  I leave the rinse in for about 15 minutes then rinse with warm water.  Note that leaving ACV on your hair is fine.

This step is optional, but I think Didi and I will both tell you that Apple Cider Vinegar (“ACV”) does great things for the hair!  It will remove all the build up from the products that you use on your hair, close hair cuticles (makes hair look smoother), and make your hair more manageable.  Try a simple recipe of 1 part ACV to 1 part filtered warm water (more to come on ACV rinse later).

6. Condition:  After I wash the shampoo out of my hair (if I do an ACV rinse then I condition after), I dry my hair a little so it is damp rather than soaking wet.  Then I apply my conditioner.  I undo the sections as I apply the conditioner.  Then I cover my hair with a shower cap and sit in a steamer/dryer for 20-30 minutes depending on how dry (thirsty) my hair feels.

I deep condition every week but when I’m pressed for time, I leave the conditioner in my hair, covered with a shower cap/plastic bag, for about 10 minutes.  I wash the conditioner out with cold water or cold hibiscus tea (we will do a post on the benefits of either at a later date). 

Conditioning is a very important part of  your hair regimen. Natural hair needs moisture.  I use an avocado based conditioner that I make myself.  A store bought conditioner is fine.  If you are in Ghana or Nigeria, I suggest you contact Didi or myself for our freshly made conditioners.  Our conditioners, which are avocado, banana or hibiscus based, will work wonders on your hair and make you want to keep running your hands through your hair.  We make them by order only.

7.  Style: Once I wash the conditioner out, I start styling my hair for the week. 

 

Didi’s Wash Day

1.  Pre-Poo

2.  Hair Sectioning

3.  Detangling – Finger detangling does not work for me! I’ve tried it many times and my hair doesn’t like it. I detangle my hair with either a wide-tooth comb or a modified denman brush. I start with one section by combing or brushing gently from the tip up to the root. Then I re-twist/re-braid that section and move on to detangle the other sections until I’m done.

4. WashCo-Wash Method

Drench your hair with water. Warm up the conditioner in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. When your conditioner is warm, it will absorb better into your hair and make your hair softer! Apply the conditioner from the tip to the root of your hair, applying more to the tips. You shouldn’t apply too much conditioner to your scalp, so you don’t clog the pores in your scalp and hinder hair growth. Rinse, repeat and then moisturize.

As Judith said earlier, if you are in Ghana or Nigeria, please contact Judith or myself for our freshly made conditioners.  Our conditioners, which are avocado, banana or hibiscus based, will work wonders on your hair and make you want to keep running your hands through your hair.  We make them by order only.

5.  ACV Rinse

6. Style