Heat Stying Gone Wrong

Today my hair feels a bit dryer than it should. A little stiff and rough. Not fluffy at all. You would think it’s been awhile since I’ve used a deep conditioner but you’d be wrong. My latest DC was last Friday.

What happened? I skipped three easy fixes.

I didn’t clarify my hair properly. Usually, I don’t have this problem because I don’t use that many products to begin with but I tend to use more products to protect my hair fheat. More products mean more build up and more build up means more barriers that block moisture. I used a clarifying shampoo last wash but I meant to leave it on a bit longer to let their suds work their magic. Next time I won’t be in such a hurry.

Secondly, I used the wrong deep conditioner. For everything, there is a season. Sometimes you will have to use a deeply moisturizing deep conditioner, other times your hair will need protein. I thought the deep conditioner I was using covered both of these needs, but apparently I was wrong. With all the heat I’ve used, my hair needed far more protein. On top of this, whatever was in the conditioner left my hair feeling slightly coated and filmy. This suprised me since my hair usually gets along well with this DC, but in its defense the conditioner probably wasn’t agreeing with whatever build up had been left on my hair.

Thirdly, I probably just used too much heat on my hair. A lot of what my hair is going through right now is probably just dryness, but I can’t count out heat damage just yet. I dusted my ends yesterday and I’m hoping that’s all I’ll have to do. Haven’t noticed any major signs of breakage yet.

It’s been a busy time at work lately, so I haven’t really had a lot of time to fix things hair wise, but tomorrow I’m going to give my hair a thorough wash and hit it with a nice moisture/protein balancing conditioner. Then I’ll give it a break from the heat for a little while. I’ve been meaning to try something new with my braid outs anyways.

Playing Around With Sally’s Generics

Been having a good experience with generic products over the past few weeks. Namely Sally’s version of the Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner. I picked up their version of the Special Shampoo with Tea Tree Oil along with The Detangler. I wasn’t expecting anything but maybe a nice tingly shampoo and a fairly decent detangling conditioner. What surprised me was the fact that the amount of shedding I had was cut in half. Yep. I pulled out half the amount of hair from my brush.

The first time that happened, I thought maybe it was a fluke. Maybe my hair just went into resting some sort of resting phase where it wasn’t shedding as much. Then I washed my hair a second time. The same thing happened. The same for the third wash. Once seems like a fluke. Twice seems like a coincidence. A third time, hm, could be a pattern. Can’t be sure yet, but if this keeps up a while longer I might have to try the real Paul Mitchell products. Maybe I’ll post a comparison. One day.

So far, assuming that this product really is working for my hair, I have a few theories:

  1. 1) The tea tree oil helped cleanse/nourish/to do something to my scalp.
  2. 2)There was no shedding. The Detangler is only helping me avoid breakage by detangling my hair more efficiently.

The first one seems viable. After all, I love the soothing tingling it leaves on my scalp. On an unrelated note, the smell is divine too. The second one seems plausible, although short broken hairs seem to hint at breakage and all the hairs I’ve pulled from my brush seemed longer. I don’t know though. The Detangler also seems to make my hair feel nice and, um, stronger I guess, so it could be that too.

In any case, it’s too early to be sure. One thing I know though is that I understand why my old stylist liked to use Paul Mitchell’s products so much. They’re pricey, but they seem so nice for the price.

Why I Love Protein (for my hair)

Just making a list of all the great things proteins do for my hair.

  • Proteins make my hair stronger.
  • Proteins make my hair stay moisturized longer.
  • Proteins make my hair less porous.
  • Proteins cut down on my frizz.
  • Proteins increase my hair’s “hang.”
  • Proteins decrease my hair’s drying time.

The last two items on this list were probably the most surprising for me. I hadn’t thought about it really, but it makes sense. If proteins are the building blocks of hair, it’s logical that a bit of the “weight” in hair would be from protein. As for the drying time, I’m not entirely sure. Maybe that’s tied into my hair’s porosity? In any case, when I’m tired of frizz, when I want a little more control, and I’m tired of waiting for my hair to dry because I have places to go, I’m running to my protein.

Of course, I’d never, ever, ever forget my dear friend moisture; that I can’t live without. I just can’t leave protein behind either.

Hair Typing Frenzy

In 1997, Oprah Winfrey’s stylist published his ground breaking book, “Andre Talks Hair.” His book gave practial hair care advice to women of all backgrounds. One of the books most notable aspects was it’s introduction of “hair types.” The secret to knowing how to take care of your hair, Andre claimed, was knowing your hair type and caring for it accordingly.

Perhaps you’ve heard of them already.

  • Type 1: straight
  • Type 2: wavy
  • Type 3: curly
  • Type 4: kinky

These classifications spread like wild fire on the hair boards and they had good reason too. The hair typing system is beneficial because it’s simple. It allows users to determine their hair needs just by look and feel. Straight hair (Type 1) needs less moisture because it’s smoother texture allows natural oils to reach hair ends easily; kinky hair (Type 4) needs more moisture and protein because every curve and bend in the hair is a weak point. See? Simple.

The hair typing system also became a way for people to easily describe their hair online. Instead of having to rely on vague terms like “kinda curly” or “super curly,” women could simply type in 3A (loose curls) or 3C (tight curls) and other would immediately get the gist of what she was saying. The hair typing system streamlined online communication between fellow hair enthusists since virtually everyone knew the system.

Here’s where it gets tricky. While everyone could agree on what Type 1 hair looked like versus what Type 4 hair looked like, not everyone could agree on everything. One woman’s 3c would be another woman’s 4a. In fact, it’s worth noting that when Andre first came up with is system there was no 3c. The new subcategory was added because curl enthusiasts thought there was too much of a gap between 3b and 4a. In other cases, some women swear that their hair doesn’t match anything on Andre’s categories so another unofficial type was added: 4c, also known as the cnap.

Another issue with hair typing and hair boards is that it created some unusual divisions among members. Some women would only want to hear advice from women that shared their hair type, insisting that other hair types had it easier and “wouldn’t understand their problems.” Other women sought out their “hair twins,” hoping that through mimicking their hair dopplegangers’ routnines, they could achieve the same positive results. Some were fortunate. The system worked for them.  Others were not so fortunate.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Yes, we all know the degree of one’s curls will determine how much moisture they need, but what about strand size? Hair density? Porosity? These important hair differences cannot be gleaned from visual cues only.

To be fair to Andre’s system, the author does delve into these subjects. For example, he discusses the difference between fine and coarse strands care they need. However, when discussing hair types on the boards, other hair characteristics handled as secondary issues. The focus is almost always centered on curl degree.

In my humble opinion, this should not be so. There are too other issues at hand when it comes to hair care. Frankly, I find the LOIS system to be a more descriptive method for figuring out hair care needs based on type. The early Curly Girl’s system was also more varied and descriptive. While Andre’s number based system gives ample “at a glance” information, I am a bit saddened that it has overshadowed other equally good ways of determining hair needs.


Dress Hair For the Weather

We all know we need to dress for the weather. We wear shorts in the summer, coats in the winter, and our cutest rain slickers in the rain. Why then do we never dress our hair in the same fashion? Just as we would never go without our gollashes in a rainstorm and expect our feet to stay dry, we should never wear complex hairstyles in the humidity without expecting some consequences.  I am not saying we can never wear our hair flat-ironed, pressed, or curled those days. What I am saying is that we should at least plan our styles accordingly. If humidity is in the forecast consider keeping your hair in “bound” styles. They don’t necessarily need to be braids. Consider elegant french rolls, buns, or updos. It can be an incredibly fast style or something much more intricate. What ever you do with your hair you should “do you,” but you must also be realistic.

I have in fact been caught out in the fog with straightened hair before. (I don’t always plan well.)The moisture in the hair didn’t effect it much though and the swelling was minimal. Why? Because I had deep conditioned my hair days before. Moisturized hair is much less likely to absorb water from the air. I was also experimenting with pommades that day too.

Sometimes humidity will ambush you. In my case, I was at the beach with some friends. My hair was dryer that day but I had a really cute sun hat on and my hair wrapped up in two knots at the back of my head. Unbeknownst to me both of my mini-buns came undone leaving my flat-ironed hair exposed to the ocean spray. I didn’t notice until I felt a bit of fluff on the back of my neck. My best friend thought it was seriously cute, but it wasn’t the look I’d been planning on that day. After we took a quick break from our walk, I gathered up my hair and twisted it back into the two knots (securely this time). I knew that the twisted knots would “stretch” my hair back out somewhat and leave me with a wavy set after my hair dried completely.

Sometimes humidity will hit you hard. It is better to be prepared than to leave your hair out in the open.

When to Trim Your Ends and Why

If you trim your hair too frequently, you risk unnecessarily cutting away the length you were trying to preserve. If you trim too infrequently, damaged ends could wreak havoc on the rest of your hair. How often you need to trim really depends on how you treat your hair. The less damage your hair endures, the less you need to trim. In theory, a person could go without ever having to trim her hair if she never damages it. In the real world our hair is always subject to some form of damage from things as simple as normal brushing. Even tangles can form enough friction to damage hair.

If you are perfectly diligent with your haircare you may only need to trim once a year to once every six months. If you are less careful, you may have to trim once every two to three months. If you’re completely reckless, expect to have to trim monthly. Your hair will look healthier for it, if you’re trying to grow out your hair, your progress will be slowed.

Trimming your ends gives your hair a healthier look and feel. Your hair looks evened out and thicker and rough splits are cut away. Your hair will also tangle less after a trim. Split and damaged ends are rougher with raised cuticles. These rough spots will “grip” other hairs much more easily, causing tangles and knots. The tangles caused by these rough spots will cause more friction leading to more damage. Damaged ends create more damaged ends and this is why split ends should be trimmed.

If you find that your ends are less than even but see no splits, don’t feel any roughness, or don’t notice anymore tangles than usual, don’t fret. Trimming may be more of a cosmetic issue for you and is by no means required. In fact, if you wear your hair in its naturally curly state your hair’s unevenness may not even be noticeable at all. If you find yourself with more tangles than usual, however, it may be time for a trim. You may find that cutting those rough ends loose will save the rest of your hair in the long run.


Good Smelling Hair Goodies

A few days ago I was kanoodling with a “good friend” who commented that my hair smelled nice. I blushingly told him that I hadn’t noticed to which he quipped, “Says the person who has a blog about hair.” Oops.

Well, truth be told, I hadn’t noticed. As much as I obsess about haircare, hair fragrance is usually the last thing I think about. I think that’s a shame because scent is something that leaves a lasting impression. It’s silly, but as he commented on the fragrance of my hair, one of the first things that came to my mind was, “Wow, what would have happened if I had used a hair dressing without a pleasant scent? Would he have wanted to cuddle so close then?”
I worry a lot, I know. I’m. working on it

After all, fragrance isn’t everything when it comes to hair care. I can think of a million things that are good for hair that don’t come with a particularly good fragrance. As my hair tends to be very picky with products that work for it, I’ll use anything that works. Every once in awhile though it’s nice to find something good for my hair that smells good too. Without further ado, here are some things that work great with my hair that come with a fantastic fragrance.

Suave Conditioners: Usually come with fantastic scents. The first suave conditioner I tried was Juicy Green Apple and it smelled juicy. Suave conditioners come in a variety of scents and are great for co-washing. Not too heavy and not too light. My favorite new scent is the latest Rosemary Mint Suave conditioner.


VO5 Conditioners: Also come in many delicious scents and are also ridiculously inexpensive. Excellent for cowashing and light enough to leave in as a hair dressing (at least for me). My favorite scent from this line are Free Me Freesia and Blushing Apple. (Yes, I do have a thing for apple scents.)


Herbal Essences Conditioners: Inexpensive, very conditioning, and extremely good detanglers. As for the scents, I love all of them. My favorite conditioner of this line is Hello Hydration, though I think that particular fragrance is a bit overpowering. I prefer the scent of Long Term Relationship (raspberry scented) but Hello Hydration (coconut scented) is more moisturizing.


Silk Elements: Sally’s brand. Truth be told, I love the scents I’ve tried so far, but I love their Olive Oil Megasilk deep conditioner the best. Very moisturizing, though the “slip” leaves something to be desired.


Procclaim 7 Oil with Olive Oil: A nice light hair oil that smells divine. Get the one with the olive oil though. The regular one smells kinda gross and is way way too heavy. I tried to get over it, honest. Use it for different things (since the oil is advertised for six other uses other than hair). But it just wasn’t working. I returned it a few days later.


ORS Carrot Oil: A cream hair dressing I use on my ends. Who knew carrot oil could smell so divine?


In contrast, here are some things that work great on my hair but smell….not as awesome.


Shea Butter: A lot of people say it has kind of an “earthy nutty” scent. What ever it is, I don’t really like it. Doesn’t mean I’m about to quit it. The scent does make me use it a little more lightly though.


Cocoa Butter: Smells just like shea butter to me, though more people seem to complain more about the smell of this particular butter.


Olive Oil: A magical skin and hair moisturizing oil, imho, but it smells like olives. Oh well. Still great for hair and skin alike.


Avocado Oil: Same problem with the olive oil, though I’m not sure what it smells like. Not that pleasant.


Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition: Good for a deep condition, but I dunno. Doesn’t smell so great on it’s own. I’m used to Garnier Fructis products smelling like fresh apples (yay!) but the bottle I got didn’t smell anything like that. Still a great conditioner, though.


Nexus Humectress: A great salon brand deep conditioner. Very creamy and moisturizing. Smells too much like medicine for my tastes though.


Any of the above mentioned non-sweet smelling products could be fixed by mixing in a few of the better smelling products or mixing in a naturally sweet smelling oil (like lavender or peppermint) to the mix. Generally I use anything that works properly for my hair, but in the future I’ll try to watch out for less than flattering scents. Gotta be prepared for those random snuggles, right?


Why I Went Natural

I went natural for a number of reasons. For brevity I added my biggest personal reasons here:

It’s cheaper. Where I live a touch-up for a relaxer could cost between $40 to $60. That’s an average of $50 spent every four to six weeks. I could put off those touch-ups a bit to save money, but most hair dressers didn’t take kindly to that. If I strayed a few weeks more I’d get lectured. I didn’t have the time or money for that.

Chemicals are unnecessary. I wasn’t sure how necessary relaxers were. I had been taught at a young age how to do blow outs on my own so getting a relaxer every month didn’t make sense to me. Sure, a relaxer made straightening hair easier, but even with a relaxer it was still work. I could see investing the extra time to straightening hair without a relaxer.

Relaxers can be damaging. Potentially, anyways. I could have benefited from spacing out my tough ups more (something sensible relaxed women call “stretching”), by my stylists weren’t too cooperative with this. My hair started thinning considerably during the last years I had a relaxer. I made a comment about this to someone and she told me “that’s the price of beauty.” I thought the price was too steep, not to mention I wasn’t too sold the idea that “pin straight hair equals beauty.”

I stayed natural because

Natural hair is dynamic. I had originally planned on straightening my hair as usual when I went natural, but that all changed when I did some research online. Of course I knew about braids and afros, but I didn’t know about things like twist-outs, comb coils, and bantu knots. Natural hair is pretty versatile and I like that about it.

It’s cheaper. Eventually. I did end up extra cash trying to find the right products that work for my hair, but once I found my staples costs went down dramatically. Even the money I spent experimenting with products was less than what I spent on relaxers bi-monthly. Some people feel that they need to spend a lot of money on “natural” products, but I feel you can save money on beauty products just by paying attention to ingredient lists.  A lot of “cheapies” perform just as well as expensive conditioners.

Chemicals are unnecessary. Blow outs were never a problem for me and eventually I did figure out how to do a really sleek flat-iron on my natural hair. While relaxers can make styling easier, I don’t feel like they’re always necessary. Of course, they don’t have to be damaging. If you really want a relaxer, find a health conscious stylist who will work with you if you decide to stretch out your touch-ups. I’m happy doing my hair myself.

Buff Hair: Saving Your Hair During Workouts

Exercising is good for body and good for your hair too. Exercising burns fat, strengthens muscles, strengthens your heart, and improves blood flow. Increased circulation delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout your whole body, including your hair follicles. The increased blood flow to your follicles will optimize your hair growth. The more efficient your body is, the more efficient your hair growth will be.

Working out is great for your mind and your body, but depending on how your hair is styled a workout can take its toll. When I work out, I keep my hair protected a number of ways to preserve its style.

If I workout with flat-ironed hair, I put my hair in a low bun and tie it down with a scarf. The bun will protect my ends  while keeping my hair pulled straight. The scarf will keep my hair and edges smooth.

If I workout with a braid-out, I put my hair into a ponytail, then cover it with a scarf. the ponytail will keep my hair from shrinking up too much, while the scarf will keep my edges smooth. In the past, I’ve worked out with a braid-out with just the scarf covering my hair and no ponytail. That works too.

If I workout with my “wash-and-go” style, I don’t really do much to my hair at all. My hair usually coils up closely to my scalp, so I’m not worried about friction from my clothing. Wearing a scarf too tightly could cause my coils and kinks to mat during the workout, so if I wear a scarf to keep my edges smooth, I’ll tie it loosely.

Working out and keeping your hair style is easier if you keep your hair in a style that’s closest to your natural texture. When you do otherwise you run the risk of having to fight your hair when moisture from sweat or steam get to it. One big advantage of exercising with a “wash-and-go” is that you can easily condition wash your hair right after your workout. If you must keep your hair straightened for your workout out, be practical about the time and effort you’ll need to preserve your style and schedule your workouts accordingly.

More importantly, don’t give up on your workouts. Your health is more important than any temporary hairstyle you may have.

Shampoo Alternative: Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay is a naturally occurring clay used for a number of cosmetic and medical purposes. It binds itself to heavy metals and impurities, making it a popular ingredient for internal and external cleansers. Consuming small amounts of it are said to pull impurities out of the body when passed. Applying it as a paste externally is said to pull impurities and toxins away from the skin, making it a popular ingredient in facial masks and body wraps.

You can apply bentonite clay to your hair for similar purposes. Because of its affinity for heavy metals, bentonite clay makes an ideal clarifyer. It pulls hard water build up from the hair without the aid of harsh sulfates. The hair is left clean but never stripped. In fact, the hair is left feeling very soft after the clay is rinsed.

There are some drawbacks to the clay however.

  • It’s messy. You’re putting mud in your hair. It may be cosmetic grade mud, but mud is mud. Be prepared to set down towels before you begin your application.
  • It can be drying if not properly rinsed out. Once left in, the clay will continue attracting things from your hair. That includes your hair’s moisture. It’s also tricky rinsing out all the clay, so watch out.
  • When purchased in powdered form, it’s difficult to mix. The clay powder is the most common form of bentonite clay and also the least expensive to purchase.

How to Mix Your Clay
Bentonite clay expands in water, so you may only need a few tablespoons mixed in a small amounts of liquid. How much water you need depends on the desired consistency of your clay. Some women aim for the consistency of pancake batter, while others aim for that of yogurt. Keep in mind that the thicker your mixture, the more difficult it will be to rinse out. Some women add extras like a small amount of olive oil or conditioner to their mixes. For now, keep it simple. There will be time to experiment later.

As I said before, mixing the clay itself is tricky. It likes to clump. A lot. You can try mixing small amounts with water at a time before adding more clay to get a smooth consistency. Some women use an immersion blender to mix their clay. This seems much faster. I stubbornly decided to hand mix my clay. Let’s see how long that lasts.

How to Apply Bentonite Clay to Your Hair
After setting down towels and mixing your cosmetic clay to the desired consistency, start applying the clay to your wet hair Add the clay in sections, spreading it from your hair’s ends to its roots. Once all sections are completed, clip up your hair and put on a disposable shower cap. Let the bentonite clay sit on your hair for 15 to 30 minutes. After that, rinse thoroughly.

Be very careful of this. One time I was certain I had rinsed all the clay from my hair, but was surprised to discover some hidden residue on my roots as I was sectioning off my hair for a deep conditioning treatment. Be vigilant when rinsing. Some women even conditioner wash their hair after the bentonite treatment just to be sure the clay is completely rinsed out.


After rinsing the clay from your hair, be sure to condition afterwards. Many women claim that their hair felt so soft after the clay treatment that they didn’t feel like their hair needed to be conditioned  afterwards. I had a similar experience but I conditioned afterwards anyways. You never know how your hair will feel after it dries. Try a light conditioner at least. If you already conditioner washed to make sure the clay was rinsed out, you might be able to skip this step.

You can style your hair as usual. Many women claim that after the bentonite clay treatment their hair felt softer, was easier to detangle, and had much better curl definition. While I found the increased curl definition was only temporary for me, the clay did in fact leave my hair softer. It was also airy and air dried relatively quickly.

While I found the bentonite clay treatment overwhelmingly positive, I have a few more words of caution about the clay. When using it:

  • Never use it without doing a small skin test first. Always test for allergies when trying something new. Bentonite clay can be rough on sensitive skin types.
  • Don’t let the clay dry in your hair completey. This will make the clay harder to rinse from your hair.
  • Don’t mix the clay with too many ingredients. This could make your hair harder to detangle later on.
  • Avoid mixing the clay to thickly. Once again, the thicker the clay, the harder it is to rinse out.
  • Never try to detangle your hair while the clay is still in it. Your hair will become easier to detangle when the clay is rinsed out, not while it’s still in.
  • Never leave clay residue in your hair. Always rinse. If you find more, rinse again!

That is all. Because of the massive amount of work involved, I will probably only use bentonite clay about once a month as a clarifying treatment. However, bentonite clay probably worth it if it can eliminate a few weeks worth of hard water buildup without stripping my hair.

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