Tag Archives: Protective styling

Six Benefits of Two Strand Twists

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Two strand twists are a staple style in the natural hair community and can be suitable for different hair lengths. Here are the benefits I have found by regularly styling my hair in this way. Putting your hair in two strand twists does not have to result in you looking like Celie in the color purple, or looking like a school girl. They can be both glamorous as well as practical. Here are six benefits:

Nikkimae's thick two strand twists.

Nikkimae’s chunky two strand twists.

Two strand twists are a great protective style

Styling your hair in this way is basically putting it away. There’s not much manipulation (if any) required, once this style is complete. Two strand twists are an excellent style for meeting your hair growth goals. It is very satisfying to see how much length has been retained once the twists are taken down. Even if you decide to wear your twists down, rather than pinning them up into an updo, you will at least be using a low manipulation style. Tucking your ends away will fully protect them and lead to even more length retention.

They are convenient

Although the initial installation of the twists can be time consuming, two strand twists save you time in the mornings. If you have a busy lifestyle and don’t have time to be styling your hair regularly, try two strand twists.  If done with the best method, they can last at least two weeks. They also work well for people who work out regularly as they hold up pretty well compared to styles that involve maintaining curls such as braid outs or twist outs.  When they start to look a little messy you can easily redo the front twists, rather than taking them all out and starting from scratch. They are also a practical style to do when going on holiday.

It is easier to moisturize your hair in two strand twists

To moisturize, simply spray lightly with water or a leave in conditioner and seal with a natural oil. Your hair is completely accessible with twists and you don’t have to worry about ruining the style. With other protective styles such as weaves and glued on wigs, your hair simply isn’t accessible. Any slight moisture with a twist-out can cause frizz and compromise the longevity of the style. This is not the case with two strand twists. Any frizz created is nothing that some water, aloe vera juice and a satin scarf couldn’t fix.

Two strand twists are very versatile

While your hair is in two strand twists, you can still enjoy many styles. They can be causal, formal,  intricate and original. Leave the twists down or pin them up into an updo. Combine the twists with flat twists or install them loosely for volume. They can be done large, medium or small, depending on your preference and how long you want to spend installing them. I enjoy wearing my twists in a bun, using a sock bun or pinning them to the side to create a low side ponytail. You can also try different decorative accessories, like flower clips and stylist head bands. Here are just some variations of two strand twists you can try.

  • Loose two strand twists
Loose two strand twists.

Loose two strand twists.

  • Twisted side bun 

This is one of my favourite two strand twist styles. I like to accessorize it with a large flower clip.  I also adapted this style to create a low side jumbo braid.

  • Intricate updos
updo (3)

Updo

They create a great twist-out at the end of the week

If you have an event to go to, simply take them out gently and you will have a great twist-out. Smaller twists create more definition and larger ones more volume. You could leave your twists in during the week then take them down for the weekend. They don’t have to stop you from enjoying your hair, quite the opposite in fact.

They are relatively easy to maintain

As mentioned before, If your twists start to look messy, simply redo the front ones that are visible. If you want to redo the whole head you can use your existing twists as a template.   Re-twisting your existing twists saves you time sectioning and parting your hair all over again. You can extend the life of the style for as long as you choose to, or until your next wash day. Some people even wash their hair in the twists and simply re-twist.  This is likely to reduce knots and tangles and make the hair easier to manage during washing.

Here are a few quick tips for maintaining your twists.

  • Keep your edges neat by spraying them lightly with water and putting your satin scarf on firmly. After 10-15 minutes your edges should be laid flat and neat.
  • Use aloe vera juice to banish frizz. The Ph level of aloe vera causes the hair cuticles to lay flat on contact. The result is less frizz and more shine. You can use aloe vera gel on your edges or lightly spray the juice all over your twists.
  • Use a rat-tail comb to part your hair neatly when installing the twists. This will help them appear neat for longer.
  • It is easier to install them on stretched hair as well, especially if you want length. You can stretch your hair using a blow dryer (try the tension method) or a heatless method.
  • If your twists start to shrink and you want your length back, wrap your twists at night. This is done in the same way relaxed hair is wrapped. Take a few twist at a time and wrap them in one direction around your head and pin down.
High Bun with Two Strand Twists

High Bun with Two Strand Twists

Do you wear two strand twists? Share your styling tips below.

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Nine Common Mistakes Made With Relaxed Hair

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I sometimes cringe when I remember my mindset during my ‘creamy crack’ days.  Due to a lack of knowledge, many mistakes were made. This confined me to hair that never seemed to grow past a certain point or risked severe damage. Here are 8 common mistakes made with relaxed hair that you may have been guilty of practicing.

Jenell of kinkycurlycoilyme said her hair never grew past a certain point when it was permed

Jenell of kinkycurlycoilyme said her hair never grew past a certain point when it was permed

Flat ironing relaxed hair

Using heat on relaxed hair is discouraged by hair care experts, as relaxed hair has already been stripped of its elasticity. Therefore it is weaker than hair in its natural state.   The use of heat is likely to weaken the hair further and cause breakage. Any use of heat should be  minimal. Using heat to combat new growth is futile. as any slight moisture on the scalp will simply cause the hair at the roots to revert. This may lead to an excessive use of heat, which causes dry and damaged hair.  Instead, embrace styles that allow the  new growth to blend, such as twist outs or braid outs.

 

Relaxing every six to eight weeks

I use to relax my hair every six weeks with super strength relaxer.  Hair care experts suggest relaxing your hair every 10 to 12 weeks or even less frequently. The more your hair is exposed to the harsh chemicals of relaxers, the more prone it is to over processing and weakening over time.

Check out vloggers Ebony and Erica of TwoLaLa. They relax their hair as infrequently as once a year! Now I don’t think I could have gotten away with that, but it shows that the more time that passes between relaxers, the better. This reduces the overall exposure of your hair to chemicals.

 

two la laRelaxing the hair bone straight

Relaxing your hair to the point where it is bone straight is not recommended. It should be no more than 80% straight, as this leaves some elasticity in the hair.  From my experience many hair stylists would only remove the relaxer once it started to burn. I also had hair that didn’t relax easily, so it would be left in longer than the recommended time. This is not good hair care practice. Hair with little elasticity is more likely to suffer breakage, especially at the ends.

 

Relaxing beyond the mark of demarcation

It is often stressed that only the new growth should be relaxed. The point at which the new growth meets the relaxed hair should not be crossed.  However from my experience this is not always followed, and it can easily happen by accident. Apply Vaseline to the relaxed hair to protect it during the application process. When the processed hair comes into contact with chemicals, it can lead to breakage.

 

Not experimenting with curly or wavy styles

Braid outs, twist outs and flexi-rod sets can also be done with relaxed hair, although the technique used may differ slightly.  The time between relaxers can be extended if these curly styles are incorporated on a regular basis. These styles are great for blending in new growth. Rather than trying to make the roots look straight it is easier to curl the processed hair without heat. These styles create diversity and give the hair more volume, which is sometimes lacking with relaxed hair.

 

Moisturizing my hair with oil

Since going natural, many of us have learned the importance of water for moisturizing the hair and the use of oil for sealing. I had no idea of this when I had relaxed hair and would often talk about needing ‘grease’ in my hair to moisturize it. Most afro hair stores still sell the old products that contain petroleum and mineral oil. Even when going natural, I would use a lot of Shea butter to moisturize my hair, instead of water. Now we know better. There are some oils that have moisturizing properties as they penetrate the hair strands, coconut and avocado oil for instance. But generally, when our hair is dry, it is crying out for water, not oil. Both are needed to ensure hair is moisturized and remains moisturized. Use a water-based leave in conditioner for moisturizing, and a natural oil for sealing in the moisture.

 

Not understanding how to retain length

When I had relaxed hair I didn’t understand how to retain length. Instead I was resided to the idea that my hair couldn’t grow past a certain point. If I had understood the importance of low manipulation and protective styling, I may have been more successful at retaining length. Protecting my ends-other than trimming them when they became weathered-should have been practiced, as much as it is now that I am natural. However, it is more of a challenge to retain length with relaxed hair as chemically processed hair is weaker. Women with super long relaxed hair are the exception, not the norm.

 

jennifer hudsonUsing harsh chemicals on damaged hair

Excessive shedding in between relaxers is experienced by many women with relaxed hair. Hair care experts are unsure of the exact reasons for this. I remember thinking I had to relax my hair as soon as possible to deal with it. Some even fall into the habit of relaxing damaged hair, rather than holding off until the damaged is reduced. If you are having problems with your scalp, such as excessive dryness and irritation, the last thing it needs is exposure to harsh chemicals that burn and irritate.  Also, examine the products you are using and eliminate any with chemicals that may be responsible for causing dryness, such as sulfates.

 

Using weaves or braids to mask the problems with the hair

Adding tension to your hair with weaves or braids may cause more damage long-term, and worsen the condition.  Although weaves and braids can give your hair a break from  chemicals and manipulation, they shouldn’t be installed on hair that is damaged and breaking. Hair in this condition may not be able to withstand the tension.  Also, such hair needs regular moisture and conditioning. It is harder to reach your hair or scalp when it is tucked away under a weave. When ever weaves or braids are installed, ensure that the stylist does not do t them too tightly.  Wigs (without tight combs or harsh glues) may be a better option, as they do not put tension on the hair. Crochet braids are also believed to be lighter and kinder to the hair.

‘Team relaxed’ can enjoy healthier hair. But ultimately avoiding chemicals is best for the health of any hair type. If a person chooses to use relaxers, they can at least avoid the common mistakes made by many, and minimize the damaging effects of chemicals.

Have you ever made these mistakes before? Do you have relaxed hair? Share your thoughts below.

 

Growth and Terminal Length

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If you watch YouTube videos and view Instagram photos, you will see your favorite vloggers displaying their amazing tresses. Many people attribute their hair growth to genetics.  You may wonder if it is possible for you to achieve such lengths with your hair.

AFro-textured-hair-stretched-out

 

Isn’t growth genetic?

Some may believe they are destined to have short hair forever, because long hair simply isn’t in their DNA.  Well first you have to examine the growth pattern of hair and the rate in which Afro-textured hair grows.  The truth is, unless there is an underlining medical condition, everyone’s hair grows.  Think back to the days you had relaxed hair, every six to eight weeks you would need a retouch because of the new growth.  The main reason many of us experienced a limit in hair length was due to the lack of length retention.  We now know that avoiding chemicals, protective styling, trimming off damaged ends and moisturizing, are the best ways to retain length.

So why is it that some of us are still at armpit length when others seem to reach BSL (bra strap length) in the same amount of time?

Terminal Length

A hair follicle grows for a certain number of years before falling out to make room for the new strand of hair.  This is called the anagen phase.  Terminal length is the number of years a hair strand grows before falling out.  This can range from 2 to 6 years on average.  Hair typically grows ½ inch a month.  This is the average rate, so for some it may be a little more or a little less than that.  The rate is usually higher in Asians and Caucasians, average or slightly below average for people of African descent.  The monthly growing rate and the number of years your strands grow for is determined greatly by genetics.  General health and environmental factors also have an influence.

Hair growth-cycle

Hair growth-cycle

The terminal length is the length that any strand can reach without being cut or broken off.  Once it sheds it is replaced and pushed out by the new strand.  This happens with every strand on the head continuously over a person’s lifetime.  So with a 2 -6 year cycle of growth, a person’s length will be affected by the length of time each strand grows for, on average.  Having the shortest growth phrase of 2 years does not mean that a person is limited to having short hair.  Even with a two-year growth rate, a woman’s hair can reach 12 inches in length.  12 inches on average would equate to BSL.  Women with longer growth cycles can usually reach waist length.

Does it really exist?

Terminal length is not a myth because nobody to my knowledge has eyebrows long enough to braid.  The hair on our head has the longest growth rate.  Author Audrey Davis-Sivasothy believes with 99.9% certainty that shoulder length and APL (armpit length) are hardly anyone’s terminal length, as two years growth equates to 12 inches.  So after going natural, do not get discouraged because you haven’t reached BSL in two years.  Your growth rate may differ and may simply take longer to reach this length.  This doesn’t mean that your genetics is preventing you from having long hair.  Just be patient and continue to care thoroughly for your hair.  Enjoy your hair regardless of its length.

 

Achieving terminal length

To achieve your terminal length, consider your hair care practices.  I know that relaxers and the over use of heat, prevented me from achieving my terminal length.  The incorporation of protective/low manipulation styling helped my hair push beyond the point it had reached previously.  I  had to learn from past mistakes in my regimen.  For many of us, it may have been bad hair care practice that stunted our progress in length retention.  You may have been natural for 5 years but have only just begun to see real progress over the last two years, because you have improved your hair care practice.

Caring for 4b Hair

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My top six tips for caring for 4b hair and retaining length.

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1. Moisturize regularly

Afro textured hair has a tendency to be dry.  With all the kinks and curls it is difficult for moisture to penetrate every strand thoroughly. Therefore we constantly have to keep our hair moisturized. Moisturizing in advance is better than waiting for your hair to dry out before adding moisture. This will also minimize the breakage that occurs as a result of dryness.  A moisturizing deep conditioner applied after shampooing will give your hair a well needed moisture boost. How often you do this is up to you.  I try to do mine once a week but if my hair is in a protective style like mini twist I find it easier to do a hot oil treatment instead.

Washing your hair doesn’t just clean it; it adds moisture that you can seal in for days or even the whole week, depending on how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture. After shampooing and conditioning, use a good sealant to lock in the moisture. A natural oil such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or Shea butter will work well for sealing in moisture. Then check your hair during the week to ensure that it isn’t getting dry. A spray bottle with water can be used to top up the moisture of your hair or you can use a leave in conditioner of your choice. Make sure any leave in conditioner you use is water based. Water should be first on the list of ingredients.  Some people prefer to use a leave in conditioner especially if they have their hair in a twist out or braid out style. Spraying your hair with water can cause frizz and not allow your style to last as long. I usually just lightly mist my hair and then rub some oil into my hands and pat my hair lightly.  It depends on what style my hair is in. If your hair is in twists, you can spray or moisturized more easily. You have to do what works best for you. I think the main rule is to take action if you notice that your hair is getting dry, don’t simply ignore it.

Plastic caps are also good for locking in moisture after lightly misting your hair. You could wear one around the house during the day or to bed at night. You will notice that the moisture has remained in your hair overnight and your hair should feel soft and moist in the morning. Cover your head with a silk or satin scarf or use a satin pillow case. Cotton pillow cases absorb moisture and dry your hair out.  Most importantly be aware that moisture comes from within, so don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

 

2. Handle your hair with care

Once your natural hair gets longer you will find that your level of patience must also increase. Afro-textured hair is usually more delicate than Asian or European hair because the strands are finer in diameter, especially around the bends and twists of the strands.  Therefore our hair is more prone to breakage with heavy manipulation and rough handling.  4b hair in particular is tightly coiled and every kink, curl and bend presents a potential breaking point. Growing up, I  always believed I had ‘tough’ hair because my hair has a thick density. However, I know now that my individual strands are quite fine.  According to The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy; medium-sized strands are the same size as a strand of frayed thread. If your strands are thinner than this they are considered to be fine.  If your strands are larger than this, then they are thick.  I must be extra careful when handling my hair. It’s just isn’t wise to do my hair when I’m in a rush because there will be little broken hairs on my shoulders or on the floor! Be careful when styling your hair and use your fingers as much as possible to detangle, before using a wide tooth comb. Hair should also be handled when damp as it is more pliable in this state. Finally split your hair into sections before styling. This makes it less daunting and allows you to concentrate on one section at a time. This will minimize the damage and breakage from styling and manipulating.

Lauryn-Hill

3. Low manipulation and protective styling

Almost every time we style and manipulate our hair there is always the potential for breakage or damage. The aim is to keep this breakage to a minimum. If you have 4b hair, separating your strands through combing, detangling and styling is always risky business. Therefore the less manipulation your hair goes through the less breakage it will experience. Keeping your hair in protective styles or low manipulation styles like buns, twists, braids or updos, will give it days, weeks or months of little to no manipulation. This will give you a break from managing your hair and protect the ends of the hair from damage.  It will also help you to retain length, maintain the volume of your hair and reduce tangles and knots. Be aware that leaving your hair in  a protective style for too long may cause the shed hair to tangle with the existing hair strands and create more knotting. Also, failing to moisturize your hair while in a protective style, can counteract the benefits of that protective style.

 

4. Keep your hair stretched

The first time I tried a wash and go I literally washed my hair, raked some gel through it and went to dinner. My hair was completely shrunken, it looked like a TWA. I was happy to have tried a new style but I suffered the next day. My hair was so tangled I thought I would never get it back to normal. Although I tried to remove the knots and tangles with my fingers as carefully as possible, I couldn’t avoid the breakage and damage that occurred as a result. So I realized the importance of keeping my hair stretched. Other hair types may thrive with wash and goes but it is not always the best choice for us 4b  girls, considering how tightly coiled our hair is in its most shrunken state. Others hair types may not shrink as much and thus avoid the tangles that result the next day.

Hair can be stretched without using heat simply by putting it in large twists, braids, bantu knots or through banding. Twist-outs, braid–outs and roller sets are also great styles that allow your hair to remain stretched throughout the week. When your hair starts to shrink in between washes, it may be time to take action. Spray it lightly with water (or use your leave in conditioner) and put it in some twists or braids before going to bed, to refresh your style. Even when I wear my hair in a puff I like to put the ends in twists at night so that it is stretched out in the morning before styling my hair again. Otherwise I find that the puff gets flatter and smaller throughout the week as my hair gradually shrinks. This creates more knots and tangles and makes detangling more difficult.

I have since found a better technique of doing wash and gos (see below) but the experience taught me a valuable lesson.

Naptural85 Winter Wash and go technique

Maintaining a Wash and Go

Banding technique for stretching natural hair

 

5. Trim when needed

It’s simply a myth that trimming your hair helps it to grow, as hair grows from the roots. However, if your ends are split, they will break off eventually anyway. Therefore it is better to remove them yourself as a preventative measure. If you are looking after your ends by keeping them well moisturized and tucked away through protective styling, you will not have to deal with damaged ends as often.  Therefore you do not have to trim religiously, regardless of whether it is needed or not. This will simply result in you cutting off perfectly healthy ends and reducing your length for no reason. However, when your ends are damaged, trying to hold on to them can cause more harm than good.  This can result in more tangles and knotting and your ends will look see-through and frayed. Hair  in this condition does not look very healthy. So in order to avoid more knotting and tangles, difficulty in styling (as your ends are unlikely to hold well) and breaking hair, trim when needed.

shingai_bluedress

 6. Limit the use of heat

When I first went natural in my naivety I thought the only way to stretch my hair was to blow dry it. I blow dried it once a week after washing but I wasn’t deep conditioning to prepare it for blow-drying and I certainly wasn’t moisturizing it enough to replace the moisture lost in the process. This affected my length retention and I didn’t achieve the length that I could have. Since refraining from heat, I have retained much more length and noticed the benefits.  Blow drying and flat ironing strips your hair of moisture and there is always the risk of heat damage, which is irreversible.   I’m not against using heat but it should be limited if you have certain goals for growth and length retention. Try not to rely on heat but use it more as a treat or for when you feel like a change.  Learn about the alternative methods of stretching your hair and experiment with them.

 

Feel free to add any more tips for caring for 4b hair and afro-textured hair in general. You may do things differently for your hair. Share below.

Just Juices and Berries

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olive-oil

I am not writing this to bash ‘product junkies’. I  like trying out new things and for some people that could be hair care products. However, I am noticing a lot more emphasis being placed on products, in the natural hair community. On forums, blogs, YouTube and social networking sites, I am seeing different women post questions about what products to use to address certain hair ‘problems’.  For example: what product can I use to stretch out my hair? What product can I use to soften my hair? What product can I use to make my hair grow? I am thinking about going natural, what products should I be using?

I can’t help but believe that we are reverting back to the old mindset, that we simply need a magical product to make our hair perfect! This is opposed to simply learning how to manage our hair properly. Isn’t that how relaxers were presented to the black community, for decades? Relaxers, perms and texturizers were supposed to be magical products that would ‘fix’ our hair and take away all our hair problems.

This quick fix mindset is based on an unwillingness to do research and educate ourselves about our hair. It is quite concerning to see some women obsessing about products before they have even gone natural. This makes going natural a lot harder than it needs to be and I can imagine why some women find the concept quite daunting. When I first went natural I was living in the UK and most of the products mentioned on the internet were only available in the US. So I didn’t have access to a great number of products. To be honest the last thing I was thinking about was products because 99% of products in my local beauty supply contained harmful ingredients. I had learned about them through doing my research. I came to realize that most of the products I used when my hair was relaxed had sulphates, petroleum, silicones, alcohol, harsh perfumes parabens and other chemicals that I couldn’t even pronounce. It’s funny to see that those same black hair companies are now jumping on the natural bandwagon and releasing natural product ranges, to cater to the natural hair community. It’s good to see that they are taking notice and shows that we have a powerful voice.

productjunkie

However, due to the lack of quality hair care products at the time, I was only concerned about the benefits of natural ingredients. I learned about Shea butter, the benefits of plain water, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and aloe vera juice. This made my life a lot simpler and I wasn’t bombarded with the many products that are on the market today. I was able to focus on learning to manage my hair, and to this day I personally haven’t found a product that holds my twist outs as well as pure Shea butter does.  I haven’t found a product that moisturizes my hair as well as water does and I stretch my hair out by simply braiding or twisting it. A product by itself will not make your hair grow any faster or longer. Protective styling, moisturizing and being gentle with your hair will help you to retain length.

shea-butter-and-nuts

Of course I enjoy trying out new products from time to time and learning about different products can be part of your natural hair journey. However, when all else fails, I go back to my simple usage of water for moisturizing, oil for sealing in the moisture and my Shea butter for styling.  I’m not against products and I’m happy to see many black owned companies becoming successful. However, there is no product out there that will magically ‘fix’ your hair. You simply need to learn how to manage it properly. Some of us need to learn how to manage our hair with simple ‘juices and berries’ instead of looking for a magical product that simply doesn’t exist. We also need to consider being healthy overall; diet, exercise and water consumption can also affect our hair. Products can only enhance your hair, not make it into something it is not. ALL  hair  textures are beautiful, with or without the use of different products. Keep it simple when going natural and learn the important basics that will benefit you well into the future.

What do you think? Is there an obsession with products? Share your thoughts and ideas below.

Step Away From The Relaxer (part 3)

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Here is some more advice for those who are at the awkward stage of their journey. Your hair is growing well and it is no longer a TWA. It may be more of a challenge to manage, as a result. Perhaps you are entering an area of the unknown, where you have to figure out how to style your hair at this new length.This is particularly problematic when you remain as busy as ever. The demands of work, school, or looking after children make hair the last thing you want to  concern yourself  with. Remember, it isn’t our hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge. Once we learn how to manage our hair effectively at this stage, it is no longer an issue. Have a look at parts 1 -4, if you haven’t already. This week will be tips 5 and 6.

5. Beware of texturizers.  I almost fell for it. I was told I could texturize my hair to ‘soften it’. As if my hair is made out of concrete! I will repeat this; it isn’t the hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge.  I was someone who was regarded as having ‘tough’ hair. Why? When I first tried to relax my hair it didn’t work. It only relaxed on the third try and would look kinky again after two weeks or so.  Then I started using super plus relaxer (Elasta QP Super!).

So if anyone is considered to have ‘tough’ hair it should be me. Now, when my relatives comment on my hair they say, I’m fortunate that my hair is soft, that’s why I have managed to stay natural. No, it is not that my hair is softer than anybody else’s; it’s that I have learned to care for it, in a way that allows me to handle it effectively. I no longer use products that contain harsh sulphates for example, which dry out the hair. I have also learned how to keep my hair stretched out.  Refer to my post: How to stretch out your hair without heat.

When your hair is dry and tangled it makes it a lot more difficult to manage.  So don’t fall into the trap of believing that a texturizer  will ‘soften’ your hair and you  will still be natural. Texturizers are similar to relaxers, they are designed to permanently alter your curl pattern. Relaxers take away your curls completely and texturizers are believed to loosen your curl pattern. However if you have a Z shape curl pattern, the result will be very different from the photos on the box. Even if you have an S shape curl pattern results of texturizers can still vary and they are not temporary but permanent, like relaxers.   Your hair will not magically go back to its kinky, coily texture when wet.

Is my hair really going to look like this?

I know people who made this mistake and came out of the salon with hair that looked relaxed. Hence they had to start all over again.  Look at the ingredients in texturizers, they also contain chemicals that permanently alter your hair, such as calcium hydroxide or sodium  hydroxide (lye). They also contain ingredients that dry out the hair, such as: petroleum, mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulphate. So don’t be fooled by the smiley faces of the models on the front of the box, and words such as ‘hydrating’, ‘anti-breakage’ and even , ‘organic’. Many of these products use the word organic while containing a number of harsh and unnatural ingredients. They throw in 1% of a natural ingredient and give you the impression that the 1% is the main ingredient. It’s simply a marketing tool. Don’t forget the website http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. You can type in the name of a product or ingredient and find out how it is rated, in terms of safety.

If you are having a problem with managing your hair, simply do some research. There is a great deal of information on the internet, and you can ask questions on forums, facebook pages and YouTube.  You will find someone who can relate to you and give you some helpful advice. I’m still learning better ways of managing my hair. It use to take me  1 hour and 30 minutes to detangle it. Now it takes me 30 minutes because I followed some advice I found on YouTube. It’s trial and error and you have to be willing to learn and make mistakes at the same time. You will be thankful that you didn’t go back to relaxers or texturize your hair, when you really didn’t need to.

Have a look at Kimmytube’s natural hair story (parts 1 and 2). It is very inspiring and highlights that fact that we are all learning. Her hair was the same length for the first ten years of being natural. It is only when she began researching how to truly manage her hair, she began to see great results. She also tried texturizers and it didn’t work out.

6.Protective styles  give you a well-earned break. These are styles that ensure your ends are tucked away, so that they do not become damaged. If your ends are protected they are less likely to break off and, your length will therefore be retained. I believe the reason my hair never grew beyond a certain point (when it was relaxed) was because it broke off at the ends. My hair was certainly growing from the roots. The fact that I had to relax my hair every six weeks due to re-growth was evidence of that. So the only explanation could be that there was a problem with the other side of my hair, the ends.

The benefits of protective styling are evident and there is so much information about it.  Protective styles include: twists, cornrows, braids, French braids  and basically any style where your ends are tucked away and protected for consecutive, days, weeks or months. If you do braid or twist your hair and leave your ends out, technically, this is a low manipulation style but it still serves the purpose of ensuring that your hair is left alone.

As your hair gets longer you should consider incorporating protective styles into your style repertoire. I like to do French braids, twists or rolls. Mini twists are great as well. I usually keep them in for a month but with French braids I can take them out when I get bored, so there’s less commitment. Protective styles also give you a break from styling and manipulating your hair. This comes in handy when you are pressed for time.

What is your favourite protective style? Have you ever texturized your hair before?

 

Step Away From The Relaxer (part 3)

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Here is some more advice for those who are at the awkward stage of their journey. Your hair is growing well and it is no longer a TWA. It may be more of a challenge to manage, as a result. Perhaps you are entering an area of the unknown, where you have to figure out how to style your hair at this new length.This is particularly problematic when you remain as busy as ever. The demands of work, school, or looking after children make hair the last thing you want to  concern yourself  with. Remember, it isn’t our hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge. Once we learn how to manage our hair effectively at this stage, it is no longer an issue. Have a look at parts 1 -4, if you haven’t already. This week will be tips 5 and 6.

5. Beware of texturizers.  I almost fell for it. I was told I could texturize my hair to ‘soften it’. As if my hair is made out of concrete! I will repeat this; it isn’t the hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge.  I was someone who was regarded as having ‘tough’ hair. Why? When I first tried to relax my hair it didn’t work. It only relaxed on the third try and would look kinky again after two weeks or so.  Then I started using super plus relaxer (Elasta QP Super!).

So if anyone is considered to have ‘tough’ hair it should be me. Now, when my relatives comment on my hair they say, I’m fortunate that my hair is soft, that’s why I have managed to stay natural. No, it is not that my hair is softer than anybody else’s; it’s that I have learned to care for it, in a way that allows me to handle it effectively. I no longer use products that contain harsh sulphates for example, which dry out the hair. I have also learned how to keep my hair stretched out.  Refer to my post: How to stretch out your hair without heat.

When your hair is dry and tangled it makes it a lot more difficult to manage.  So don’t fall into the trap of believing that a texturizer  will ‘soften’ your hair and you  will still be natural. Texturizers are similar to relaxers, they are designed to permanently alter your curl pattern. Relaxers take away your curls completely and texturizers are believed to loosen your curl pattern. However if you have a Z shape curl pattern, the result will be very different from the photos on the box. Even if you have an S shape curl pattern results of texturizers can still vary and they are not temporary but permanent, like relaxers.   Your hair will not magically go back to its kinky, coily texture when wet.

Is my hair really going to look like this?

I know people who made this mistake and came out of the salon with hair that looked relaxed. Hence they had to start all over again.  Look at the ingredients in texturizers, they also contain chemicals that permanently alter your hair, such as calcium hydroxide or sodium  hydroxide (lye). They also contain ingredients that dry out the hair, such as: petroleum, mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulphate. So don’t be fooled by the smiley faces of the models on the front of the box, and words such as ‘hydrating’, ‘anti-breakage’ and even , ‘organic’. Many of these products use the word organic while containing a number of harsh and unnatural ingredients. They throw in 1% of a natural ingredient and give you the impression that the 1% is the main ingredient. It’s simply a marketing tool. Don’t forget the website http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. You can type in the name of a product or ingredient and find out how it is rated, in terms of safety.

If you are having a problem with managing your hair, simply do some research. There is a great deal of information on the internet, and you can ask questions on forums, facebook pages and YouTube.  You will find someone who can relate to you and give you some helpful advice. I’m still learning better ways of managing my hair. It use to take me  1 hour and 30 minutes to detangle it. Now it takes me 30 minutes because I followed some advice I found on YouTube. It’s trial and error and you have to be willing to learn and make mistakes at the same time. You will be thankful that you didn’t go back to relaxers or texturize your hair, when you really didn’t need to.

Have a look at Kimmytube’s natural hair story (parts 1 and 2). It is very inspiring and highlights that fact that we are all learning. Her hair was the same length for the first ten years of being natural. It is only when she began researching how to truly manage her hair, she began to see great results. She also tried texturizers and it didn’t work out.

6.Protective styles  give you a well-earned break. These are styles that ensure your ends are tucked away, so that they do not become damaged. If your ends are protected they are less likely to break off and, your length will therefore be retained. I believe the reason my hair never grew beyond a certain point (when it was relaxed) was because it broke off at the ends. My hair was certainly growing from the roots. The fact that I had to relax my hair every six weeks due to re-growth was evidence of that. So the only explanation could be that there was a problem with the other side of my hair, the ends.

The benefits of protective styling are evident and there is so much information about it.  Protective styles include: twists, cornrows, braids, French braids  and basically any style where your ends are tucked away and protected for consecutive, days, weeks or months. If you do braid or twist your hair and leave your ends out, technically, this is a low manipulation style but it still serves the purpose of ensuring that your hair is left alone.

As your hair gets longer you should consider incorporating protective styles into your style repertoire. I like to do French braids, twists or rolls. Mini twists are great as well. I usually keep them in for a month but with French braids I can take them out when I get bored, so there’s less commitment. Protective styles also give you a break from styling and manipulating your hair. This comes in handy when you are pressed for time.

What is your favourite protective style? Have you ever texturized your hair before?