6-Month Transition Mark Check-In

Left: January 2012 -- Right: September 2012
Left: May 2012 -- Right: September 2012

I let August come and go without touching heat. I thought about letting September roll by too; but the temptation was too great. I was far too curious. Back in March, I began my No Heat Challenge -- the path to transitioning out my weak, brittle, and thin heat damaged hair. This was a huge step for me, because I straightened my hair quite regularly -- around every 2 or 3 weeks. And while it was flat-ironed, I was compounding the problem further with my daily curling iron use.

Fast forward to May, for my first check-in. I was excited that I recouped the length I had chopped off (2 inches), my hair was thicker, stronger, and shinier. Read all about that experience here. Now we stand, on the cusp of Fall and I am blown away by how much my hair has improved. I am noticing definite gains in length, thickness and overall health. Here are some of my best practices:

Internal Controls
I'm sure you've heard that healthy hair starts inside. Diet, exercise, supplements and water  are all things we can work on that don't involve touching a single strand of hair. I try to eat decently (I am a work in progress, with a penchant for all things chocolate), drink plenty of water, work out 4-5 days a week, and take my supplements daily. As far as supplements go, I take a multivitamin, b-complex, biotin, and MSM. Also on my to-do list in helping hair internally is sleep, and stress reduction. I haven't quite gotten the hang of those two, but when I do... I'm sure my hair will grow 37 inches, lol.

I have said before that I don't have a real regimen, and that holds true. I just do what I need to do to my hair, when it needs to be done. But here are some pretty basic steps I follow (just not according to any set schedule):
May-September.. Those used to be bangs!
  • Exclusively finger detangling. I'm comb free!
  • Pre-poo treatments with conditioner and Coconut or Vatika oil
  • Section washing + co-washing
  • Shampoo wash when necessary
  • Deep conditioning
  • Apple Cider Vinegar rinses
  • Moisturize and seal
  • Protective styling during the weekday, "out" styles on the weekend
  • Monthly Henna-ing
  • Dusting ends when necessary
I'm really trying to condense this list to the products that I can count on as staples. I really do want to be a no-frills kind of gal. But here's where I'm at thus far:
  • Finger detangle with pre-poo mix (Tresemme Split Remedy + Coconut or Vatika oil) and Infusium 23 Renew & Repair Leave-In
  • Co-wash with Aussie Moist
  • Shampoo (when necessary) Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo or Everyday Shea Vanilla Mint Shampoo
  • Deep condition with Shea Moisture Yucca & Baobab Anti-Breakage Masque + TIGI Catwalk Oatmeal &Honey Conditioner mix
  • Moisturize with my recession-proof leave-in spray (Aussie Moist + water), seal with my "Cohiloe" mix (Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie + Aloe Vera Gel)
  • Vitamin Shoppe brand Apple Cider Vinegar (raw and unfiltered, with "mother")
  • Henna with Jamila BAQ (sorry, after one use... I ditched Light Mountain like a bad habit)
  • ApHogee Green Tea & Keratin Restructurizer spray (talk about giving hair life!)
Another May-September comparison
Final Thoughts
As with anything, you must always do what works for you. While there are certain truths that will hold universal, many factors in natural hair care remain largely dependent upon the individual and their goals. My goals were to regain my thickness, and grow my hair out as long as possible (waist length would be nice... if that's in your plans for me God). While I still have much to learn and much to improve upon, I have found these things to be truths (for me) while on this journey:
  • Henna = 99% psoriasis-free scalp. Read all about that here.
  • Protective styling = length retention and less frequent trims. In fact, I have transitioned to light dusting only (yee!)
  • Finger detangling = less breakage. While more time consuming and a little more cumbersome, I have discovered that when you use the right products the results (deceased shedding and breakage) are amazing.
  • I can have a healthy relationship with heat, and it gets easier as time goes on. I blow dry on low or medium heat, and my flat iron never passes 320 degrees. Once every 3 or 4 months gives me plenty of inbetween-time to nurture my hair.
What are some of your transition lessons and best practices?