Relaxer Results

Hi friends! I hope your Sunday is going well. This is a long post, so feel free to skip to the bottom for pics if you don't feel like reading! I got my hair relaxed today after 13 weeks. I usually relax anywhere between 12 and 14 weeks, so I'm right on schedule.

Overall I had a really good relaxer experience from start to finish in terms of tangling and the blow-out process, which can be horrible, BUT - I'm stressed! After my last relaxer, I was excited to see if I would make my end of year goal of APL, but over the last month or more, my hair has been BREAKING like crazy. Yes ladies - you heard me right, the dreaded B word. They were little tiny pieces, but that obviously adds up!

Initially when I noticed the breakage, I thought it would pass, but it never did. The one thing that I changed to try to combat the breakage was to stop using the detangling spray as a leave-in conditioner (although I stopped using it because I ran out, not because I thought it was the cause of the problem). I also used tea before shampooing for a few weeks. The reason I didn't change much is because I couldn't figure out what to change. When I reflected on my regimen, I couldn't think of anything majorly different that I was doing...kind of. Over time I was making really small adjustments to my regimen (for example different oils, using honey, etc. to pre-condition), so I think that is also what made it hard to figure out. Then I was thinking that maybe I just needed a good trim.

Well after my hair was blown out and it was time to trim, my stylist showed me that my hair is DEFINITELY broken in certain areas. My left side was shorter than my right, so I imagine the breakage I suffered came primarily from the left side, there is a section in the back of my hair with some breakage (it's minimal, but breakage nonetheless), and then there's a section on the front left side that's broken. Also, my ends on the left side were significantly more worn than the right, which is just weird.

While my stylist was showing me this, I immediately started stressing because my hair seemed to be doing so well earlier this year, and I feel like I had just gotten into a rhythm with understanding my hair and now it has some damage and I don't know why. Length goals immediately went out of the window because I will always strive for health over length.

I started thinking a bit harder and trying to remember what I was doing differently at the beginning of the year versus now. I think in an effort to keep the basics the same, I may have experimented too much with things that should have been a part of the basics, but weren't. For example, I used to do a weekly oil treatment with Huile d'Ales pre shampoo Intense Hydrating Oil before shampooing, and then go into my routine. Also, I used to shampoo 2X during a typical wash day, but I've been being lazy and only doing one shampoo on a given week. I used to do a protein treatment every other week (I think), but I haven't done that since April. Long story short, the small things definitely add up, and I've learned that the hard way.

So I purchased a few of the basics that I used to use and will start using again in an effort to get back on track. The other thing I learned is that I need to start journaling again! Part of the reason why I couldn't figure out what was different is because I haven't been diligent about recording my regimen and products (or blogging about it). I have a horrible memory and if I don't write things down, I won't remember. So without further delay, here are a few pics from today + comparisons. BTW - my BF thinks I made APL, while my sister says I'm grazing...I'm not sure.

Relaxer Results: December 2012

Left: December 2012, Right: September 2012

November 2011 vs. December 2012


New Products!

Hi ladies! After my June relaxer, I decided that it was time for me to start using a different shampoo because my Phytolium Energizing Shampoo felt really drying to my hair. Also, Phytolium is for thinning hair (i.e. to promote growth), but I didn't really feel that I needed to use a shampoo specifically for that purpose. I also wanted to try a less expensive conditioner because my hair loves Phytosesame Express Hydrating Conditioner, but I use a lot during each wash day when I'm detangling and it's expensive considering how much I use!

With that, I asked my stylist for a recommendation. Of course because she thinks Phyto is the best product for my hair (i.e. that's the only line she uses and sells at her salon), she recommended the following products for my shampoo replacement and a detangler to help minimize the amount of conditioner that I use:

The bottle on the left is the missPhytospecific Magic Detangling Spray and the one on the left is missPhytospecific Magic Detangling Shampoo. As I'm sure you've figured out, this is Phyto's children's line for African American hair (BTW - I love the packaging, it's so cute!). Anyway, my stylist thought these products would work well for my hair considering I have a texturizer and still have a good amount of curl pattern.

So my thoughts - I really like the shampoo - it's very moisturizing and gives a good lather. My hair and scalp feel clean after using this, but still moisturized. The consistency is quite interesting - it's very liquidy (kind of like liquid soap, but thinner), but it gets the job done. On wash days, I shampoo my hair once with this because I'm lazy and it does the trick! I also really like that this comes in a pump - it makes it easy for me to control how much I use (1 pump per section), and I can squirt a pump of shampoo directly on my scalp.

I did not like the detangler at all - it didn't work!!! The instructions say to apply it generously to your hair and do not rinse out. I did that with one section and thought I was going to lose my hair, lol. So instead of wasting the entire bottle, I decided to use it as a leave in conditioner after my full wash day process. It may have softened my hair a little, but overall I don't think it did anything and would not buy this again. I joked with my stylist that I have grown up curls, so the magic properties that work for the children do not work for me!

Both products have a really nice smell - along the lines of a light shea butter + coconut + something else sweet, but not overwhelming. I'll be back with more product updates that I have backlogged from the last few months! HHJ


I Need Your Opinion...

Hi friends - I hope you all are well!

So in January, I told you guys that I'm headed to South Africa in December for one of my closest friends' wedding! As I mentioned, I'm in the wedding, so I have been planning my relaxer schedule around December for the whole year. Well fast forward to today, and we're about two months out from the actual wedding day, and my family and I have finalized our plans for travel. I'm sooo excited about this trip, especially considering the year that I have been having (I'll fill you guys in another time). We are traveling for 3 weeks and included is a trip to Kenya to go on Safari!

So now to the hair part - in January, I had planned to just make sure that I had a fresh relaxer so that I could do whatever the bride requests for her big day. I wasn't sure if I would get a weave, but considered adding a few tracks if necessary. Well fast forward to today, and I honestly just want to wear a nice wig and call it a day. The main reason I want to wear a wig is because we will be traveling for a few weeks and I DON'T want to think about my hair at all while we're there. If I do my normal routine of braiding my hair and wearing a nice lace front, I think that should do the trick. The other reason is that I don't want an unfamiliar person's hands in my hair (I know you guys can relate to that). The bride has already scheduled hair consultations for all of the girls the day before the wedding so that we can play with our hair to get the right look for the wedding.

But here is the caveat, we are wearing fascinators as part of our outfits. I don't know how well a fascinator is going to fit over my wig (if it's a headband) and I don't want to ruin the bride's pictures, or day with my shenanigans...not cool.

So I'm torn - do I suck it up and just wear my hair out for the entire vacation, including allowing a random stylist to do my hair for the wedding day?

Or do I talk to the bride and tell her that I want to wear a wig because I feel more comfortable caring for my own hair?

Last bit of info - the bride did mention that she's open to the bridesmaids doing what we want with our hair if we have a particular style in mind because she wants us all to look fab, but be comfortable. But I want the bride to get what she wants because it's her day, and I don't want to distract from that in any way...

What do you guys think? Sorry for the long post! HHJ



Hey friends! I don't know about you, but when I started my hair journey, I noticed that I was ruining A LOT of stuff with my overuse of oils! Seriously - I can't tell you how many shirts, sweatshirts, pillow cases, other linen, etc. that I've stained with my oil shenanigans!

Anyway, long story short, I work in the Energy industry with oil refineries. I visited a refinery and one of the guys suggested the below product as one that removes everything from oil to the residue that's left on stuff when you remove a tag, to other random crap. By the way when the guy mentioned oil, he was talking about crude oil, the heavy stuff that comes out of the ground!

So I got this and used it on one of my coats that I had stained with oil from my hair wrap that I wear under my wig. I have to admit that I decided to use the product the way that I wanted to and not completely as instructed. So the product seemed to ruin my jacket at first, but in the end it actually did take the oil stains out. I also used this on one of my blouses that had slight stains and it took those stains out as well without ruining my blouse. My Mom used this on a few things around the house and was less than thrilled with the results, which was a bit disappointing because I had such high hopes for the universal application of this product.

Overall, I would recommend this for clothing that you care about, but caution you to use as stated in the directions. In other words, don't be like me and spray a bunch on your clothes and let it sit for 30 minutes instead of 3 because you want it to work extra hard - you will just be playing yourself! Until next time...


Relaxer Results

Hi All!

I can't believe it's time for another relaxer update already - just a testament to how quickly the summer passed! I relaxed after 11 weeks, which is just one week shy of how often I prefer to relax at a minimum (i.e. 12 weeks). It went ok this time - not as well as last time, but not too bad. As I mentioned earlier this week, I wasn't expecting a lot of growth, but I did get some. I got my hair trimmed as normal and if it weren't for my photos and length check t-shirt, I probably would think that nothing changed. Fortunately I can tell that I'm getting a little closer to the first line on my t-shirt, so I think I'm on track to reach my goal of APL by December.

Picasa nor iPhoto were cooperating with me tonight (and they usually don't...), so I couldn't make a nice comparison of last relaxer vs. this one, but you guys will still get the gist. Until next time...

June 2012 Relaxer

September 2012 Relaxer



Hi Ladies!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend and will enjoy the additional day off (assuming you get it)!

I wanted to check in quickly because I am scheduled to get a relaxer next week and I'm sure this sounds weird, but I'm actually scared that my hair didn't grow since my last relaxer. I'm sure you think I'm crazy considering we all know that for the most part everyone's hair grows, it's more so a matter of retaining length. So I don't really think that my hair didn't grow, but I don't think that I will see as much length this relaxer as did after my last relaxer.

I didn't change much in how I took care of my hair since my last relaxer, but before my last treatment, I could literally tell that my hair had grown because I would feel my hair on my shoulders and back in different places when I was washing it that I didn't feel before. This time, there doesn't seem to be much difference in the length. To make matters worse, I feel like I've been seeing more breakage during my wash days. I typically don't freak out about breakage because I think it's inevitable, but since I feel like there's been an increase, that definitely has me nervous.

I guess I'll see for sure on Friday, but as I visit some of my favorite hair blogs and look at progress pics, there are ladies who get and maintain every inch, after every relaxer, and that's certainly what I aspire to do. So, I'll keep you guys posted, but just needed to vent a little...


WOW! It has been so long

Hi friends! It has been so long since I posted that I don't know where to begin. I hope you all have had a fabulous summer and are ready for the quickly approaching fall (I can't believe how quickly the summer passed).

Although I haven't been blogging, I have been taking pictures of new hair products and other "stuff" that I want to share. I will post these random items and share my thoughts when I have a chance.

Just a quick hair update - I have been really busy with personal things, hence the long blog hiatus, and quite honestly this is going to continue through the end of the year. With that, I have been keeping it extremely simple with my hair. After my last relaxer, I enjoyed my hair for about 2 days and then it was  chaos. As most of you know, I exercise daily in the morning, so once I sweat my hair is done. As a result, I wore my hair in random creative, big styles (like the twist and curl in my profile pic) for about one month before I returned to braids and my wig. I have been wigging since and plan to do so until my relaxer on 9/9 @ 11 weeks.

Here is my most recent wig - I got her in June. I like the way she looks, but she sheds A TON and I don't like that at all.

I have been experimenting quite a bit with how to care for my hair...ok, not that much, but it feels like it since I've been changing things up. To start, since I sweat daily and my hair is already super dry, I actually started rinsing my hair in the shower daily. Since my hair is braided, I just let the water run over my braids, if I feel like it I'll add a little conditioner and let it sit while I do my thang, and then I'll rinse at the end (I guess you can say I co-wash). I wrap my head in a t-shirt to soak up the excess water while I get dressed and by the time I'm finished, my hair is just damp. At that point I'll seal with my oil mixture because I'm basically using the water in my hair as a moisturizer (not sure if that makes sense to you guys). I've been doing this for about 2 weeks and I could definitely tell the difference in my last wash day - it was waaay easier to manage my hair! 

I decided to give this method a try because I haven't had much success finding a moisturizer that I like and that actually works, and I've read about a lot of naturals using good ol' water to moisturize their hair! Again, for my new readers, I was natural up until my texturizer 1 year ago, but my hair is still very similar to how it was when it was natural.

Ok - this update turned out waaay longer than planned, so I'm going to wrap it up and plan to come back soon!


Relaxer Results

Hi Friends! I know it has been forever, but I wanted to drop in with a quick relaxer update. I relaxed today and had a very good experience overall - it was much better than my horror story from March, which kept me out of the salon since my last relaxer.

Anyway - now to the photos, which of course is what we all want to see! Overall, I can tell that my hair grew, but I think it's most apparent in the front/ sides. I chickened out of not getting my hair trimmed as I discussed in this post because I'm a stickler for healthy ends, so I couldn't do it. I came to grips with the fact that I'd rather take longer to reach my goal, than get there and have to chop it off. I need to figure out how to present a nice comparison collage of my progress thus far (I need some tips from Jeni from Just Grow Already :-) ). Blogger is doing something funky with the first set of photos that I couldn't fix, but whatever. The first set are from March 2012 and the second are my most recent...


New Love

A few weeks ago I purchased Amla Oil. I was curious about this oil because last year I purchased Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream and really liked it. Although it took a few uses, the cream made my hair crazy soft and moisturized. With that, I figured that since Amla Oil was a key contributor in the hair cream, it would likely be great on its own.

I purchased the Amla Oil from a nearby Indian grocery store. I read that the popular brand, Dabur, contains mineral oil + other oils. I'm not overly anti-mineral oil, but I did want to ensure that I purchased the brand with the least amount of additives. With that, I purchased Bio brand. There aren't any ingredients listed on the box, so it was hard to confirm in the store, but I googled the brand once home and it seemed fine.

So far, I love Amla Oil: 

  • The greatest issue that I have is the smell - it is very strong. It doesn't stink, but I don't love it. Aside from that, everything else is cool. 
  • Amla is a very thin oil - it's very liquidy and not as thick as a grapeseed, jojoba, etc. It has a green color, which apparently can darken hair over time, so if you are concerned with darkening your hair color, you may not want to use this. 
  • According to the description of it's uses (listed on a website with details for this brand), Amla Oil creates a healthy environment for hair to grow and can help increase hair growth up to 7X faster than normal. I didn't purchase this oil as a growth aid and don't necessarily believe the claims, but if it does increase my hair growth as an added bonus, I'll take it! 
  • I currently have Amla mixed with my scalp oil concoction (Amla, Vitamin E, Castor, and Jojoba), as well as mixed with EVCO as a sealant for daily M&Sing. Just as with the Qhemet cream, when I first started using the Amla, I didn't notice a difference, but after a few days, my hair was consistently soft and moisturized.
  • Lastly, over the last 3 weeks I have used Amla with a new deep conditioner that I purchased (I'll talk about it in another post), and it has been great! I use a generous amount of conditioner and then spray the Amla oil on my hair, place a plastic cap and my turbie twist on for a few hours, and my hair is like butter!

I will continue to use Amla Oil moving forward and hope that my hair continues to respond well! HHJ


Ouidad Double Detangler

Hi friends! A little over a month ago I purchased the Ouidad detangling comb. I had been eyeing this comb since I started my journey over a year ago, but never got around to purchasing it. I was in the mall and happened to pass Sephora, so I popped in and got it!

The Ouidad detangling comb is designed for tight, kinky, curly hair, so that's the main reason I wanted to try it. I wanted to use this for a few washes before giving my opinion (I don't really want to call it a review, but more just talk about my experience using it). I really like this comb, and here's why:

  • I did a quick search to try to find what material this comb is made of, but unfortunately I couldn't find any details (it's not plastic). Nonetheless, it's a heavy material that's very durable, but gentle on the hair. It's one continuous comb, so there are no seems where the teeth meet the base, which can cause breakage (not sure if any of that made sense).
  • I was able to detangle faster. I wash my hair in four sections, so when it's time to detangle, I throughly apply my conditioner to each section, and then split each section into two sections and comb through. With this comb, I literally am able to glide through my hair after working out the shed hairs (I have included pictures below of my comb out from my entire head).
  • According to Ouidad, the reason why this comb works well is because the double rows of teeth eliminate difficult knots and prevent curls from springing back and retangling.

If my hair weren't curly, I'm not sure that I would love this comb as much, but considering my current hair texture (for any new readers, I have a texturizer, so my hair has tight coils), this comb is just what the doctor ordered!


One Lovely Blog Award

The beautiful Jeni form Just Grow Already has awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award (unfortunately I'm not saavy enough to know how to include the image in this post...SMH...how old am I?). Thank you Jeni!!!

In accepting, I must share 7 things about myself and pass this on to 15 fellow bloggers!

  1. I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes
  2. I'm sort of a health & fitness nut, so I workout daily and basically only drink water (~96+ oz per day)
  3. I once did an online commercial for my company
  4. Although natural, sneezing is really gross to me and freaks me out because of all of the germs that are released (I'm a germaphobe)
  5. I am the youngest of 3 (I have a sister and a brother)
  6. My sister's wedding was featured on Essence.com in the Bridal Bliss section
  7. I am an Alpha Kappa Alpha woman!
Other Lovely Bloggers...

The other lovely bloggers I follow have already been tagged, so be sure to check out their responses!


APL by 12/31/12?

My sister and I embarked on our hair journey together beginning in March 2011. As expected, we have stalked followed other women on their journeys and paid particular attention to those who started around the same time that we did. Although this is not a competition, my sister and I have noticed that we have not experienced as much length as our counterparts (here are a few examples: She started around Feb '11, She started around June '11, and the list goes on).

I refuse to believe that either of us are slow growers - at worse we are likely average (thank God we have never had trouble growing our hair, we've both gotten short hair cuts on a number of occassions and grown back to SL within a little over a year), BUT I think our stylists may be trimming cutting our hair too much and too often. We go to different salons, but my sister mentioned being frustrated about the frequency of "trims" that she seems to get on a MONTHLY basis. How can you expect to see the fruits of your labor if you're constantly trimming? I can even see dusting frequently, but all out trims negate length retention. Since I went back to relaxing, I get my hair trimmed with each relaxer (3-4 months), but I did notice that my last trim seemed to take off at least an inch or more in some sections.

So how do we fix this? While doing an impromptu length check today, my sister noticed that she has a section that's close to APL, so she thinks she can get there by December. Of course I jumped on the bandwagon! We decided that we are going to hold off on getting trims through the end of the year. I feel like this is a bit drastic and I'm REALLY nervous because if there is one thing that turns my stomach more, it's seeing some long, straggly, thin, ends with a smiling face next to it claiming APL, BSL, etc. - not cute, at all! But, in all honesty, at this point I protective style 100% of the time, M&S daily, wash weekly, and use direct heat on relaxer days only (4X/ year) so in theory there is no reason for me to have bad ends. After my June relaxer I was planning to wear my hair out over the summer, but if I'm trying not to trim, I may just keep it wigged up to avoid needing a trim.

Anyway, the point is, although it's best to focus on health before length, we had the health part down pre-journey, so we're long overdue for length! I guess we'll see how this turns out in December! HHG.


New Goodies!

Hi friends - I hope you all are having a great weekend and enjoying the early peak of Summer (for those in the Northeast)!

I purchased these bottles a little over a month ago after seeing them on Jeni's blog. I had been in the market for glass bottles to house some of my oil mixtures and products, but didn't commit to finding what I needed. Once I saw her post, I decided to use the same vendor. Glass bottles are great to store products in because they contain less potentially harmful chemicals than their plastic counterparts (such as BPA).

I purchased the following and love them!


From left to right:
  • 6 oz: I use this bottle for the oil mixture that I apply to my scalp on a daily basis. This has a dropper so it allows for easy and controlled application to my scalp. 
  • 6 oz: I'm currently not using this bottle, but I'm sure that I'll find some use for the pump.
  • 6oz: This bottle has a spray nozzle which I LOVE for M&Sing! I previously had trouble getting just the right amount of oil to seal my hair. Now, I actually fill this bottle with EVCO, warm it up if it's not liquid, and then spray it on my hair after moisturizing for even distribution on my strands! It's also a bit less messy than applying the oil with my hands - #winning!
  • 3oz: I purchased this bottle for traveling. I've been traveling a lot lately and need to be able to transport whatever oil(s) I need in my carry on bag!
Until next time!


Roller Set #FAIL

After I relaxed my hair the last time and had such a traumatic experience with tangling as a result of wearing corn rows and not detangling regularly, I decided to start experimenting with different options to replace the corn rows under my wig.

My goal was to experiment with different ways of straightening my hair so that I could regularly remove the normal shedding and reduce the potential for tangling on wash days. I had the bright idea to try a roller set, not with the intention of wearing it out, but with the logic that it would be a nice way to get my hair "straight" without having to blow my hair dry. I washed and conditioned my hair myself and then hightailed it to the Dominican Salon to have them roller set it. 

Welp - here are the results of that idea: a hot mess!

Here's the thing, as I mentioned, my honest intention was not to wear this out as a style, but in my mind, I imagined that my hair would come out a bit straighter than this, but that just didn't materialize. The main issue is that because my hair has a lot of texture, it's too curly to actually straighten out on the rollers, so the ends were sort of clumped and confused when the rollers came out. The girl who roller set my hair told me from the gate that this wasn't a good idea, but I needed to try it to be comfortable with checking this option off of the list. This wasn't the worse experiment, but I definitely won't be trying this again because I still ended up putting two cornrows in my hair to wear under my wig. 

Mission unaccomplished!


Happy 1 Year Hairversary

I can't believe it's been one year already, but it's true friends. I started this journey 1 year ago today and feel like I have barely scratched the surface.

It's interesting how much things can change in one year. This whole thing started when I searched online for natural hairstyle options and after one click lead to another, I landed on Ms. Kibibi's site. The rest is history. 

The interesting thing about this as well is that I started this journey natural. Just in case you haven't read my hair story (which is pretty lengthy, so I would likely skip it too), I got my first relaxer at 2 and in 2009 decided that I wanted to go natural. I stopped getting relaxers and was 100% natural after about a year and a half. I liked that I didn't have any chemical in my hair, but because I exercise daily and like straight hair, the two were a recipe for disaster. After starting my hair journey and seeing all of the gorgeous relaxed heads, I decided that I could have a nice head of relaxed hair that was long too (I was one of those people who thought that letting go of the chemicals would result in longer hair...not in my case).

So to make a long story short, following are some of the takeaways from my first year:
  1. I can actually do my own hair! It's still a struggle, but I'm much more comfortable with handling my hair myself than I was one year ago (you couldn't pay me to do it)
  2. My hair likes to be wet when being manipulated - it's more pliable
  3. I don't have to saturate my hair in oils in order to moisturize it
  4. Coconut oil is my friend
  5. This is a journey...
I definitely underestimated how much work and PATIENCE required on this journey. However, I'm glad I decided to embark upon it and hope that next year's update is more exciting, including longer length!



Rusk Hair Products

Hi ladies - happy Friday!

Quick random post - so I'm actually in Houston, TX this weekend for a conference. I don't know anyone here, so I decided to hang in the lobby/ bar area and meet some of the attendees. So myself and about four other women with beautiful hair were sitting in the lobby and a woman approached us from Rusk Hair products and said that Rusk was in town doing a hair event and wanted to know if we would be interested in modeling for the show. I think she also mentioned something about a hair cut - so not happening!

Anyway, we all declined the invitation because the weekend is jammed packed (each day legitimately begins at 7:00 AM and goes until 9:00 at a minimum...need I say more?), but me being secretly obsessed with all things hair, I wanted to inquire about this hair event and understand more about exactly what was taking place. But alas - I'm away for business, so gotta stay focused!

Also...super, extra random, there was a guy with the rep who asked us to model and he looked weirdly familiar, but not as if I knew him personally. Anyway, I think the guy was from Chris Rock's movie Good Hair. He was the chocolate coach with long dreads who worked with the girl who cut hair upside down in the Bronner Brothers hair show. Do you remember what I'm talking about?


Relaxer Results

So I got my relaxer today. I have mixed feelings about my hair. The results are fine and as expected, but the process to get to the final results was TORTUROUS! When I think of getting my hair done, I like to think of being relaxed, having a wonderful experience, etc. Fortunately, I do go to a great salon that's very comfortable and relaxing, but when it's time for my relaxer, it's a real process.

I'm partially to blame for today's experience because I took my cornrows out last night, but didn't comb through my hair to release the shed hair. I honestly thought my stylist would do that once I arrived, but she didn't. So you can only imagine how things turned out....I had 1,000 knots, tangling, etc. So. Not. Fun. Once I got in her chair to get my hair blown out, the torture session continued. As I sat there, bearing the pain, I was thinking to myself - what can I do differently moving forward?

I think I'm going to ease up on the corn rows and maybe try roller setting my hair and then wrapping under my wig. This way, I'll get to release the shed hair on a regular basis rather than have it accumulate.  I hope this also significantly reduces the tangling and knots that I get.

I'm not bashing my stylist because I do feel that she listens to me and has been accommodating to my hair goals, but I just don't think it's normal to go to the salon and be in that much discomfort. I think a lot of the issue as well is that I have very coarse, thick hair that is texturized, so there is a good amount of texture and curl in my hair. This may be causing more harm than good.

My Mother mentioned that she thinks my hair is too coarse and thick for the way I'm currently caring for it in terms of wearing cornrows and getting them redone monthly. I agree with her in that I need to return to my bi-weekly visits because I think that will help with maintaining my hair a little better.

Sorry for the long post - I'm rambling and likely not making sense. I'm just frustrated because I want a better experience when I get my hair relaxer and I don't know how to achieve that with the state of my hair right now. Anyway, below are some pictures and comparison shots vs. my last relaxer. My hair felt longer when I was getting it done, but looking at these pictures....not so much. My hair used to be this length, so I don't really feel like it's changing much (I had cut my hair a few months before starting my hair journey, so that's why this length feels normal). Hopefully I'll start to see a difference in length soon.

Novermber 2011 Relaxer & Trim
November 2011 Relaxer & Trim

March 2012 Relaxer & Trim
March 2012 Relaxer & Trim


So Ready for my Relaxer

Next week this time I will be writing a relaxer update post and I can't wait! I am sort of torn when it comes to wearing my wig and keeping my hair braided because it's a great style for low maintenance and manipulation, but I actually think I'm tired of it. I'm tired of walking around the house looking like a mix between a furby and a WNBA player. It's just not cute.

So I'm happy that I'll get a relaxer and wear my hair out for a few weeks (although I'll still wear my wig to work during the week). I am planning to continue my wig regimen through my June relaxer, and then wear my hair out for the summer.

I think the reality for me is that I still dread don't enjoy doing my hair because it's really time consuming and difficult to manage. So if I stick to my wig, then I don't have to deal with it. Perhaps things will be a little easier when I start doing it again because I'll have a little more experience under my belt from last year. We'll see...


ORS Herbal Cleanse

So ladies - I went ahead and tried it. I purchased ORS Herbal Cleanse and dry shampooed my hair. This stuff is basically just alcohol with a few essential oils (lavender and basil). The consistency is similar to hand sanitizer (it's basically a gel in the bottle, but when applied, it turns into a liquid). I followed the instructions and applied a generous amount to my scalp, let it sit for a little over a minute, and then took a warm, damp cloth and wiped it off of my scalp. 

It was nice to feel like I was cleaning my scalp, but I definitely miss running water through my hair and cleaning my hair and scalp by lathering shampoo. I didn't add any oil to my scalp right away because I like to let my scalp breathe for a bit before slathering stuff on it again. BUT - my scalp itched quite a bit after I used this. I'm not sure if it's because it dried my scalp out a little, but I definitely had heightened itching. 

In addition to cleaning your scalp, you can also apply a generous amount of this to your actual braids, cover your head with a warm, damp towel for a few minutes, and then wipe your braids off to remove the residue. I would like to try this, but because the primary ingredient in the cleanse is alcohol, I'm not sure if it will be a bit too drying for my hair. 

Overall, I think I will use this again in order to avoid washing my braids with water, and hopefully minimize the potential for tangling.


All Finished

With using MN that is.  I finished my last bit yesterday, and I've been using it consistently since December 2011. Since my first mix, I went to a more potent option with 3 oz of castor oil + the same amount of MN. I have been applying it to my scalp daily.

I am scheduled to relax my hair in two weeks, so I wanted to be sure to stop using MN at this point. I want to give my scalp a chance to rest because I still don't know what the implications of mixing MN + relaxer are, and I have no intentions of finding out.

I am curious to see if I have experienced accelerated growth as a result of using MN. If I decide to use it again, I don't plan to do so until the end of this year. I don't really want to become dependent on a growth aid to reach my length goals, so I told myself that I would only use it between relaxers, once per year (the same way I did it this time).

I'm planning to do a length check after my next relaxer, so at that point I'll assess whether or not I experienced better growth.


To Wash, or Not to Wash?

So I've been debating recently whether or not I should be shampooing my hair, with my cornrows between salon visits?

When I first started wearing cornrows, I went to the salon bi-weekly to get my hair shampooed, treated, and re-braided. I figured I could save a few dollars if I cut down my visits to every four weeks and just care for my hair myself in between. My stylist told me that it's not a good idea to shampoo my hair while in cornrows because this causes tangling. However, I decided I would shampoo my hair anyway because I thought she was wrong. In my mind, I don't understand the difference between wearing a sew-in weave and shampooing your hair with the sew-in, and wearing cornrows and shampooing your hair? When I asked her, she responded that the braids are smaller for the sew-in, so that helps reduce the tangling. I'm not sure that I completely buy that rational.

Long story short, I have been paying close attention to my hair when I remove my cornrows because if I'm going to torture myself go hard with protective styling, then I want to reap some rewards. I have noticed that my hair is a bit tangled when removing the braids, so perhaps there is some truth to what my stylist said. The dilemma then becomes, do I go back to my bi-weekly visits so that I can keep a clean scalp and my hair in decent shape? Or do I seek alternative options such as using a dry shampoo?

I was browsing through Sharday's blog, The Awkward Stage and reading about how she cared for her hair in 2010 when I believe she was wearing cornrows under a wig. I noticed that she used ORS Herbal Cleanse, which is a dry shampoo designed to clean the scalp and hair without water. I am considering using something like this because I know I must keep my scalp clean while wearing my braids, but it seems as though shampooing weekly isn't the best solution.

Have any of you ever used dry shampoo? If so, how did it work and what did you think? Should I try this? Decisions, decisions...


How Long Did it Take?

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I have been thinking recently - with my length check impending on my one year hair anniversary, I'm not really getting my hopes up for long, lucious, locks...I just don't see it. I'm trying to keep a level mind because the reality is, I know my hair has grown since last year. However, when my sister and I first started our journey, we were all pumped (as most newbies are) and had LOFTY goals!

We were thinking that because we both had shoulder length hair already, it would be reasonable to hit full shoulder length within 6 months (i.e. September of 2011) and then be on our way to APL (arm pit length) by our one year mark. Point. Blank. Period!

Well fast forward to today: my sister has struggled with her hair journey and is trying to get back on board, and I have been very committed, but a little curious about whether or not all of this M&S'ing, and wig wearing have paid off?

So that brings me to the point of this post...how long did it take you lovely ladies to see some real progress? As I continue to read different blogs, etc. it seems to take about two years for the length to start kicking in strong for many people. That's just my observation, but I could be psyching myself out to try and feel better, lol. Anyway, I'm committed regardless, but I want to know when the fruit of my labor will be apparent?


Meet Bling

Mina served me well, but I wore her until her strands fell off! I purchased Mina at the end of October, so I got a solid three months out of her and that was with daily use. I'm pretty happy about that especially considering she is synthetic.

Bling is my most recent wig purchase. She is a Vivica Fox wig. She is synthetic, but what I like most about her is that she looks a bit more natural and believable compared to Mina AND she can be flat ironed!!!! That's huge because the thing I liked least about Mina was the lack of versatility. She's a bit longer than Mina (I really liked Mina's length), but the curls help disguise the additional length. I debuted Bling at my birthday dinner with my girlfriends on Friday night and she was a big hit!

I really want to try a U-Part wig, but I don't have a fresh relaxer, so I'm not really interested in working to blend my hair. I'm planning to wear Bling until my relaxer in June and then I'll wear my hair out again until October. Hopefully by October I'll be ready to wear a U-Part wig and have it blend well. Until next time...


Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday! Shout out to all of the Aquarian's and those who have birthdays during February :-)


Relax at 12 Weeks?

The last time I got my hair done my stylist warned me not to go beyond 12 weeks before my next relaxer. This would mean relaxing on Friday as that's 12 weeks. As some of you know, originally I wasn't planning to relax until the end of March, which will be 18 weeks and my one year hair anniversary (time flies when you're trying to grow long hair)!

18 weeks will definitely be the longest amount of time that I've gone between relaxers, but since my hair will still be in braids, I was thinking I could swing it. I definitely think I can get to 16 weeks before relaxing, but I don't want to do more harm than good especially since my mishap with combing my hair out the last time.

I'm torn...what do you think - relax at 12, 16, or 18 weeks?


Mid Week Wash

I decided to wash my hair on Wednesday because it just felt icky. I know that probably sounds really gross, but I think in my quest for maximum moisture, I had been going a bit too heavy on the oils and moisturizers. As a result, my wig was greasy, the scarf & wig cap that I wear under my wig was greasy, and it just wasn't good. So I washed everything - wig, scarf, cap, and hair.

I decided to do a clarifying shampoo with my Phytopanama + Intelligent Shampoo because I am out of the Phytolium Energizing Shampoo. After clarifying, I intended to shampoo with a sample that I received, but I grabbed a sample conditioner instead of shampoo. I ended up conditioning with Phytodensium Anti-Aging Mask. I realized while I was using this that my stylist uses this on my hair every now and again (I recognized the smell which is yummy!), so fortunately I wasn't using anything that my hair wasn't accustomed to.

All in all, I'm glad I washed my hair because it felt A LOT better afterward. It was more moisturized, softer, and just better. I always love the way my hair feels after washing, conditioning, etc., but I'm too lazy to do it more than 1X per week. However, since I'm washing in corn rows, it's a lot easier and quicker, so I think I may start washing my hair 2X per week on a regular basis. 


SOOOO Excited!!!!!

One of my closest friends got engaged in July 2011 and she just set the date for her wedding. She will be getting married in December 2012 in SOUTH AFRICA!!!!!!!

So just to give a little background - my girl and I have been friends for more than 20 years. We went to school together until we were 13, which is when she moved to South Africa with her family. Her mother is South African and her father is American. She attended high school in South Africa and returned to the US for college. During the time she was in South Africa, we maintained our friendship, writing letters to each other (you can tell this was a long time ago...letters vs. e-mail and Skype...really? lol). We would also see each other during the summer when she would come to the US. 

Long story short, when she came back for college, we picked up where we left off. We interned together for a few summers while in college and literally had the BEST summers ever - doing everything from eating lunch together daily, to shopping, and partying (I'm so reliving one of those summers in my head right now). A few years later, she lived in NYC and I lived about 45 minutes away in Connecticut so we would get together on the weekend and live it up! 

When she first got engaged, I knew there was a good chance that the wedding would be in South Africa because she and her fiance moved back there in July. Her fiance is Kenyan, so there was a good chance that there would be a ceremony in South Africa and one in Kenya. So far she has only confirmed the one in South Africa, so I have marked my calendar for two weeks and I cannot be more excited. Our mother's are very close friends and her family has been inviting/ demanding (with love of course) us to come visit since we were 13, so this trip is waaayyy overdue!

So when she confirmed the date for me, you can only guess the second thing I did after we spoke about colors, and looked at a few bridesmaids dresses? Started planning my relaxer schedule for the entire year so that I will be two weeks post on the day of the wedding! I had to alter my relaxer calendar a little, but overall I have it set. It may have to change slightly depending on whether or not I get some tracks added.

Although I would love to have hair significantly longer than what she's ever seen me with, or I've ever had (i.e. APL), I don't want to set ambitious length goals and over stress the whole situation. So I'm just going to continue on my hair journey and hope that my hair is healthy and beautiful on her special day!

I'll keep you guys posted on the planning and other fun details as they arise!


The Moisture Saga Continues

The greatest takeaway that I got from unbraiding my hair last week is that it is dry. Since learning this, I have stepped up my mission to figure out what my hair likes. This is especially important because although wigs are a great protective style, they can easily zap all of the moisture out of your hair, so you must take special care to ensure that the moisture remains!

It's been a heck of a week of trial and error because I have been trying different combinations of moisturizers to see if I can hit the spot. I decided to try a moisturizing technique posted by EbonyCPrincess of Longing 4 Length. The technique involves applying a liquid moisturizer, followed by a creamy moisturizer, and sealing with an oil. I have been using my Phyto Hydrating Mist leave-in conditioner, which I LOVE, as my liquid moisturizer, followed by Amla & Olive Heavy Cream, and sealing with grapeseed oil.

Well this week I came to grips with the fact that I really like grapeseed oil, but my hair doesn't love it, at all. It just sits on my hair. Prime example - one night I followed the triple moisture technique, using the grapeseed oil to seal. I used a VERY generous amount because my hair ALWAYS feels dry. I slept with a plastic cap because I didn't want to ruin my linen. When I removed the cap the next day, the oil was just dripping off of my hair and there was literally a puddle at the bottom of the cap. I definitely know I went heavy on the oil, but based on the amount that was still in the cap, that confirmed for me that my hair didn't really absorb any of it. Long story short, I think I have to add grapeseed oil to the same category as EVOO (click for my earlier experience).

So what I learned this week is I like the idea of layering the moisturizers, but I need to get a cheaper liquid leave-in because the Phyto Mist is pricey considering the amount that I use on a daily basis, and I need to return to my beloved EVCO. This is the only oil that my hair seems to love. I did some research on LHCF to see how some of the ladies are handling moisture issues and found that the LOC method is popular (it's the same as the one EbonyCPrincess posted, but the order of the oil and creamy moisturizer are switched). I will try the LOC method and see which one I like best.

I also searched for a good liquid leave in moisturizer. I narrowed it down to Carol's Daughter Tui Leave In Conditioner and Paul Mitchell Awapui Moisture Mist. I went to Beans Beauty and asked the salesman his opinion on what would be a good product that's similar to the Phyto Mist, but cheaper (this guy has been selling hair products at this store for at least 10 years - no bull). I mentioned the Paul Mitchell, but he suggested Mastey Leave-In Moisturizer. I am not familiar with Mastey, but he mentioned that this was a lightweight, moisturizing leave in that would do the same as the Paul Mitchell, but without the preservatives, wax, and potential for build-up. I'm excited to try it and let you know what I think.

Sorry for the long post, but that's where I am on my quest for maximum moisture! Let me know if you are familiar with Mastey and your thoughts!


MN Update

I finished my first round of MN after using it for 4 weeks. I posted how I mixed it here. I purchased another tube of MN and am debating on how I want to mix it this time. I think I want the mix to be a little more potent this time. I'm debating between mixing it with my Amla & Olive Heavy Cream or with Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO).

I have just enough Amla & Olive Heavy Cream to make a mix that's 1/2 cream and 1/2 MN. Although the instructions on the packaging of the Amla & Olive Heavy cream say that you can use it on your scalp, it seems a little thick to me to use on my scalp. I checked the ingredients and everything seems ok for my scalp, but the consistency of the cream is thick and sticky. I don't want to risk clogging my pores, or doing anything to impeded growth. But I'm curious to try the MN in a scalp cream, vs. an oil.

On the other hand, if I use the JBCO, I will use 3 oz of JBCO and add the MN. I like having an oil base because once I apply it to my scalp, I believe the oil is able to penetrate other parts of my scalp that I can't reach since I have cornrows. With the cream, the only parts of my hair that are likely to have the cream on it are the parts where I apply it.

I think I'm going to visit Long Hair Care Forum and explore a few threads to see which may be a good option. Feel free to let me know what you think!


Lesson Learned!

I guess it's not called a hair journey for nothing.

I went to my hairdresser to get my oil + steam treatment, shampoo, etc. and hair re-braided. In preparation for the visit I decided to take my cornrows out myself so that I could do a little detangling and release the shed hairs since my hair has been braided for 4 weeks.

I wanted to take my braids out myself as an experiment to see if it would reduce the amount of tangling that I have when I get my hair braided at the salon (I don't have a lot of tangling, but I don't want any!). The long and short of the story is, when I go to the salon, my stylist does not comb my hair, at all. Which is a good thing for the most part, but by not combing my hair and depending on the shampoo and finger combing to get the shed hairs out, I wonder if she's getting them all? Any shed hair left in my head hangs onto the "good" hair and creates knots. So that's why I'm trying to experiment on what the best approach is - me detangling at home first, or going to the salon and following her process.

I'm glad I decided to do my hair myself because I learned a few lessons:

  1. My hair is DRY! Don't ask my how/ why because this was baffling to me. I did not M&S before taking out my hair, but I would think the fact that I do heavy M&Sing on a daily basis would mean something? Not so much. The only part of my hair that wasn't dry were the end of my braids and back of my hair where the oil collects (gravity at work), and the part closest to the root because I oil my scalp daily. I mentioned in an earlier post that I didn't love the moisturizer that I was using and this just confirmed that I need to find a new one because it's not moisturizing anything!
  2. Aloe Vera Juice (AVJ) did not save the day for me. I have heard so many great things about AVJ so I was really excited to use it during this process. I have been mixing AVJ with African Braid Spray and using this as my daily moisturizer. When I started using this mix, I assumed it was the African Braid Spray that was throwing the moisture off, but after using AVJ by itself yesterday to try to detangle, I noticed that this is what's making my hair feel weird and dry after I use the moisturizer. I will give the AVJ another try just to make sure that I'm correct, but I think I may have to write this off once I finish using what I have.
  3. My hair NEEDS to be damp when detangling. I NEVER detangle my hair when it's dry, so why did I think it was a good idea this time? Instead of a light bulb going off in my head to empty the spray bottle of AVJ and add water instead to help detangle my hair, I decided to try the AVJ for two braids, slap on some Amla & Olive Heavy Cream, spray some grapeseed oil and hope that somewhere along the way my hair would soften up enough to successfully comb out - EPIC FAIL! By the time I got to the last two braids, I sprayed my hair with water to dampen it and the comb just glided through. 
  4. I think I may have caused some breakage by combing my hair while dry. Initially I was only seeing shed hair which is to be expected. But by the last few braids, I started seeing breakage, but I think that's because my hair was bone dry and I was trying to comb it out. After I dampened my hair, there were no more small pieces. I hope I don't pay for this mishap by having to get a deeper trim in April when I relax again.
  5. When I actually got my hair done, the proof was in the pudding...my stylist has such a hard time braiding my hair because it was so tangled! She had to work A LOT harder than usual to braid my hair. 
So the key takeaways are that I MUST find a better moisturizer to use with my braids and I will not be "detangling" my hair again at home before getting it done. The most I will do is unbraid my hair, but no combing. I caused more harm than good in the end. I wouldn't have known the outcome had I not tried it, but lesson learned!


Quick Update

Hi friends! I hope you all had a great holiday and happy new year!

I've been away for a while due to some personal matters, but I hope to get back to posting at least once a week soon.

Things have been quiet with my hair - I've had my cornrows in for the last 4 weeks and will go to my stylist on Saturday to get a steam + oil treatment, and new braids. I have been shampooing my hair weekly in the cornrows as well as M&S'ing daily with a spray mix of African Braid spray + Aloe Vera Juice (got this from Ms. Kibibi) and sealing with grapeseed oil. I actually don't think I love this mix, but I'm going to finish what I have and then experiment with other liquid moisturizers while I'm in my cornrows.

I've also been using my MN mix daily and haven't seen any negative side effects (thankfully)! I'm just coming to the end of the 6oz mix that I posted about earlier, so it looks like 6oz lasts me about 4 weeks. I'm not sure that I want to have MN sitting for that long since there are active ingredients, so I think I may change up the mix this weekend when I get some more. I may do a 3oz mix with less oil to make it a little more potent, but I'll see.

That's it for now!