Lessons From My Hiatus

11:09 PM

I've been gone far too long. My bad ya'll...it's been real in the streets. I had to get on my daytime grind to ensure that I still have a paycheck to spend on hair products...lol. Anyways, I have a LOT to cover -- products, experiences, tools, techniques, etc. While I work on rolling out some fresh features and such, I would like to leave ya'll with some gems I uncovered while M.I.A.

Avocado Oil is Awesome!
Maybe I'm on the late freight, but this stuff is pretty rad. I picked up a small bottle at CVS on a whim, and its been a love affair ever since. Avocado goes great in my homemade leave-in, or in my coconut castor oil scalp massage/pre-wash blend. It makes my hair softer, smoother, sleeker, and seals in moisture pretty well. Definitely being worked into my repertoire.

Wet Detangling is NOT The Devil.
The natural hair blogs and websites are all abuzz, yip yapping about wet versus dry detangling. While some pretty scientifically sound arguments can be made for both sides, the proof is in what kind of hair ends up in the sink....or in my case, the shower. Dry detangling, with fingers or a wide-tooth comb, left me with short (end) breakage -- no bueno for length retention. Wet detangling is slowly but surely proving itself to be beneficial...especially for finger detangling. Water + gobs of slippery Aussie Most conditioner turn what used to take nearly two hours into a fifteen minute job. Yes, hair is more susceptible to breakage when wet, but the added slip from water and conditioner decrease exponentially the amount of force/tension needed to detangle hair thoroughly.

Kinky Curly Knot Today Doesn't Play Well With Others :-(
This one broke my heart. Before I gave up on dry detangling, I would use Knot Today to detangle and prep my hair for section washing. At first contact, I was in love. Something in that bottle gave me slip unparalleled. Then ten seconds later, it dried up, and I was left with some odd filmy-feeling concoction on my hair that made me scared to continue. Thinking it must be a fluke, I would just add more product and keep it pushing. Time after time this happened, until I just grew discontented with the bottle and put it on punishment in the back of my hair drawer. Some time later, I revisited Knot Today after a co-wash with no other product in my hair, and it worked just fine. My conclusion? Only use it to detangle clean hair.

Dear Protective Styling, My Bad.
As I round out the last week of my no-heat challenge, (sidebar -- I cannot wait to straighten/length-check my hair on Thursday!) I realize I may have been a little harsh on protective styling -- buns in particular. I've gotten creative in my approach to bunning (location of poof/bun + accessories), and I can honestly say it hasn't been that bad. Truth be told, I've begun to rely more heavily on buns to last all day, since my workouts have gotten more intense. In exchange, my ends have rewarded me handsomely. They're more resilient, and I have to work hard to find a split end.

Moisturize, Then Seal. It's Not Rocket Science!  
Another hot conversation floating around the interwebs involves moisturizing and sealing. What constitutes moisturizing? What can seal? How do you do it? Honestly ya'll, it ain't that deep. I promise. I'm almost willing to bet that you moisturize and seal anyway, and just don't know it. Leave-in conditioners moisturize. Water moisturizes. Pretty much all moisturizing products that list water as the first ingredient provide moisture. Do you see where I'm going? Water = moisture. Oils (i.e. coconut) that can penetrate to your hair's cortex is considered moisturizing. Sealing = well, sealing. When you seal an envelope, you do so with the intention of ensuring the envelope's contents remain inside. Same thing with sealing your hair. I guess the confusion with sealing revolves around this notion that somehow you can only seal with products that are incredibly heavy and thick. Sealing agents are simply unable to penetrate your to your hair's cortex, so they just chill on the outside, forming a protective barrier. If your hair likes shea butter, seal with that. If you're partial to coconut, olive, castor, or whatever oil, seal with that. Water base, oil base. Chill a few days, repeat. Refresh when necessary. Simple, right?

Every Sale Is Not a Good One -- Sometimes It's a GREAT One!
One of my favorite things in the world is when a hair product or tool I love is on sale. Remember how excited I was when I discovered Target was giving away a $5 gift card when you purchase 2 Shea Moisture items? (That promotion is still going on, by the way). Now take that excitement, and multiply it by a gajillion. Last week, I strolled into Sally's looking for an excuse to blow the $40 I had in store credit for a previous return. Even though I've been on heat hiatus, I knew my heat arsenal needed some updating. My big ceramic iron plates were scraped up, and I've had the same Conair blow dryer since my sophomore year of college (circa 2004). After fighting an extreme case of product junkie-ism (do you know how much stuff I could've gotten with forty bucks?!), I settled into looking at their heat tools. I have a pretty kick-butt Tool Science 1 1/4 inch flat iron, that's awesome for my bangs and curling; but when it comes to taming my hair's length, the bigger plates, the better. I almost settled on a clearance rack Helen of Troy blow dryer for $20, when I caught sight of a lovely deal -- buy a Helen of Troy Ceramic Series Ionic Dryer, and get any Helen of Troy flat iron free. WHAT?! FREE.99?!?!?!?! I almost passed out. The blow dryer came in at $38.99 with my Sally's Club discount, and my free 2 1/4 ceramic plated flat iron retails for about $33. I walked out of that store feeling like I stole something. Even better? The blow dryer is this really cute purple. I'm a sucker for cute and functional.

Don't Ignore the New Kids on the Block.
Everybody everywhere says to take extra special care, and pay extra special attention, and apply extra special product to your ends. Yes, the ends of your hair are the oldest, the most delicate, and often times, the most weathered. They absolutely demand your attention and care, if you are interested in retaining length. But don't forget the other part of that equation -- getting long hair isn't just about caring for the ends. It's about making sure the new stuff is in optimal condition. Yes, newer hair is often more resilient and less-prone to damage. But why let your new growth go uncared for -- left to fend for itself and ultimately end up suffering the same fate as the weathered ends you are trying so desperately to revive? 

Lastly, Keep It SIMPLE.
In experimenting and developing my own products and regimen, I have summed up my discoveries in one acronym...
Straightforward: Don't get lost in the hype-beastiness of the natural hair boon that's going on right now. Every wagon does not need a band. Stick to what works for you, and if you choose to branch out and try something new, know when to cut your losses and move on.
In tune: Get in touch with what your hair needs. What products work best? When do you need moisture? How often can you get away with heat styling? Does your hair need protein? What keeps your scalp healthy?, etc. Your hair is unique to you, so there is no better person to get to know it so intimately!
Measurable: Keep a log of what products, ingredients, styles, techniques, etc. work for you, and which one's don't. That way, you know what to invest in, and where to not waste your time.
Protective: Protection isn't just about styling in a way that keeps your ends tucked in. Protective haircare is holistic in nature -- from the light handling of your hair, to low-manipulation, to product choices, to styling. The more protection you work in, the more length you will retain.
Loving: Embrace your hair, as-is. Stop wishing for perfect spirals, or the full afro poof. The quicker you accept your hair, the sooner you can actualize your mane's potential.
Efficient: Caring for your hair takes strong commitment, but that doesn't mean it needs to take until Jesus comes back to detangle a section of hair. Going back to the M for Measurable, keep track of methods that give you the results you want, but in less time.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you very much for your blog. It is very interesting and funny!
    Thank you for this post in particular.
    I will add you to my fav hair care blogs.

    A french reader.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How AWESOME! Thank you very much for your support! It's so cool to have international readers :-)

    ReplyDelete