Monday, January 28, 2013

Farewell Marley Twists!

This style was a great way to switch up my routine.

Now  that it's week 4, it's time to say goodbye!

I could keep them for  two more weeks, but my hair needs some TLC.

Now I'm off the take them down and do a hot oil treatment!

Bye Bye Marley Twists!

Product Junkie Diaries: Out with the Old, In with the New

     I must confess that I am a recovering Product Junkie. If there was a support group for natural hair product addicts, I would be among the first to sign up. Now that it's 2013, I'm beginning to see the error of my ways (and the exorbitant totals on my Target receipts). In 2013, less is more. This post is about the products I used in 2012 that didn't make the cut for 2013.
      Let's start with the shampoos. 2012 was the year I discovered sulfate-free shampoo. My inaugural sulfate free poo was Nubian Heritage's Honey and Black Seed Heat Protectant Keratin Shampoo ($10 at Target). A few notes on sulfates-- they are cleansing agents placed in shampoos. Unfortunately they can be very drying,and strip the hair of the natural oils it needs to stay moisturized. Typically they are listed as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. I'm still doing my Co-Wash Challenge, so I've discontinued using shampoo for the next month at least. The Honey Black Seed shampoo is definitely a step up from regular shampoos; it is silky and slippery in texture, and it didn't seem to strip my hair. My curls were fresh and bouncy when I stepped out of the shower, and easy to detangle. In addition to the honey, this product also contains coconut and shea oils. The smell is a bit underwhelming-- it's really not appealing in any way, but it does get your hair and scalp clean. Even though this product wasn't in any way damaging to my hair, I won't be using it in 2013 because I don't need it! However, I may consider finishing my current bottle in the summer to better protect my hair from the sun's damaging rays.
      I also briefly used TRESemm√©'s Luxurious Moisture shampoo for 2 wash days. This was an unintentional buy; I thought it was conditioner in the store! It's a little thicker than most shampoos, and it's very smooth in texture. It felt nice and silky on my hair but after I rinsed it out, my hair felt a very dry. This was the last shampoo I used before I started my Co-wash Challenge. It isn't sulfate free, but it is alcohol free. It could be a nice alternative to other shampoos for that reason-- that and it cost about $4.
     Another product I'm not head-over-heels about is the Shea Moisture Organic African Black soap Purification Masque. It aims to relieve dry itchy scalp and it contains Plaintain Enzyme, Tea Tree and Willow Bark Extract. I used this product as a pre-poo and deep conditioner. Although this product has AWESOME ingredients, I feel like it didn't do very much for me. I will say that it did temporarily relieve my itchy scalp. It is gooey and slippery in texture, grayish in color, and smells a little bit like banana bubble gum (if that makes any sense...let'st just say I wasn't in love with it.) In accordance with the Shea Moisture creed, it consists of all natural ingredients, is sulfate, paraben, and paraffin free. It cost about $10 at Target.
      The last product I can do without in 2013 is Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Blow Dry Protector. It's supposed to be infused with argan oil, but considering that I can't pronounce most of it's ingredients, I think it has less argan oil and more synthetic ingredients that could harm your hair. I'm not sure it protected my hair at all from the blast of my hair dryer. It cost about $7 at Walmart, and I consider it a definite waste of money, because I no longer blow dry my hair 100% of the way. The best heat protectant is a leave-in conditioner followed by an oil to seal in the moisture. There is nothing remarkable about this product-- at least that's the verdict of my 4c hair! I think it might work best for texlaxed or relaxed hair.
      This concludes my Product Junkie Diaries! Hopefully I'll be smarter about buying products that I don't serve any purpose for my hair in 2013, and I'll be sure to follow up with a post about my staple products this year. What products did you use in 2012 that you wish you hadn't?

 Keep it Nappy,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner Review

     I've wanted to do this product review for a while now, and I'm finally getting around to it! I bought Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner back in November, and it has quickly become a staple in my everyday hair care regimen. This conditioner can be used as a deep conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and as a styling agent. I use it as a leave-in conditioner on wash day, and as a moisturizer on my twist out and braid out styles.
100% Organic and only $10!
    What I love about the Shea Moisture line is that it is dedicated to making 100% organic products. I had absolutely no problems reading and understanding the list of ingredients in this conditioner-- the three main components are Shea butter, argan oil, and sea kelp. The Shea butter is for moisture and repairing damaged hair and scalp, argan oil builds elasticity and strengthens the hair, and the sea kelp detoxifies the hair of impurities and residue. I have been using this product  for a little over two months, and I definitely notice a difference in my hair. It is softer, stays moisturized for longer, and it feels stronger. Because I wear my hair out often, the creamy consistency is perfect for protecting my fragile 4c strands. Now that my hair is in Marley twists, I do not apply it directly to my hair using my hands; instead I've diluted the conditioner with water and I just spritz it in my hair every morning and every night, followed by herbal oil to seal in the moisture. I like using the mixture of water and conditioner because it automatically makes my hair softer and more manageable, and I will probably continue to use this "hair milk" concoction after I take my twists down. I use a quarter sized amount in a spray bottle which I fill with water and then shake vigorously until the conditioner is diluted.
My twists are holding up nicely!!
      I honestly think that this product is perfection in a bottle. Seriously, this conditioner for dry and damaged hair has brought my strands back to life. Before I started using it my hair was dry and brittle, now it's moisturized and resilient. It is also sulfate free, paraben free, and color-safe. Plus it smells really nice-- it is a pleasant mixture of earthy and herbal scents. I can also detect the notes of sea kelp. For some, the scent could be a deal-breaker but that totally depends on your personal preference. I will add, however, that this may not be the best product to set styles with, merely because it more than likely will not supply enough hold and your twist outs will not be as defined as they would with a butter or creme. However, because I use this product as a leave-in only, I will continue to buy it because it's completely organic and it only costs $9.99 at Target for a 12 ounce container which lasts me about a month and a half. I'm not looking for the next best thing in the conditioner area because I'm convinced that the Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner is the absolute best for my 4c hair, and I will use it on my hair for a long time to come. I really hope they don't discontinue it or change the formula. I may buy it in bulk just in case!

The natural hair product junkie,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Aphro Aspirations

Naturally vibrant.

Naturally comfortable.

Naturally fierce.

Naturally carefree!
 Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership rights of any of the above photos, and sources are located in the captions. I always try to give credit where credit is due. Stay inspired naturals!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Marley Twists: My Winter Protective Style

Havana Marley Afro Puffy Kinky Twists. 

     I spent the last five hours of my young adult life engaging in what felt like a rite of passage: braiding my hair. YAY! For my first time braiding and twisting with extensions ever, it really wasn't as terrifying and awful as I thought it would be. I'm not exactly sure what to call the finished result-- it's a combination of Marley Twists, Afro puffy twists, and kinky twists. Regardless, they're on my head for the next month or so and I'm pretty pleased with them. Not gonna lie, when I started I was intimidated by the amount of the natural hair on my head (especially because it's so thick) and figuring out the proper technique for installing the twists, but after watching a few excellent YouTube tutorials I felt emboldened enough to navigate the treacherous waters of Hair Braiding 101.  I used Prism's 100% Kanekalon and Toyokalon hair which cost about $6 a pack. I only used 2 and half packs so I have plenty left over for touch ups. Because I installed this style  myself I saved  a ton of money-- you cannot beat a $20 protective style that will last you 2-3 months.
Quick Messy Updo.
I tried to make them shorter at the top and near the back.
  I learned more than a few things about braiding with extensions. Number one: make sure your real hair is detangled, conditioned, and that the moisture in your hair is sealed. When other people braided my hair, they didn't know the first thing about detangling my 4c hair which made for a very uncomfortable experience for me. On the contrary, I know exactly how to detangle my kinky hair so I had no issues in that department.Number two: Section your hair for manageability and accessibility. I sectioned my hair off (about 5 total) and two strand twisted the sections I wasn't braiding and clipped them out of the way. Number three: Pick a method of installation and stick with it. The method I used was pretty basic; I attached the extensions to my hair with a braid and then twisted the remainder of the hair. The beginning is honestly the trickiest part of the whole braiding situation, but once you get past that, it's pretty much smooth sailing. Next time around, I want to improve the way I part my hair (I got pretty lazy about it in the back) and use smaller parts in the front. All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I've tried to install twists and braids in my hair before, and needless to say I was in the dark. Just ask my college roommate. We've had plenty of laughs over my hair braiding attempts. For example, I once went to a bar with half my hair in raggedy kinky twists and the other half fro'd out! I unsuccessfully disguised my hair with a beanie. It was all in good fun I guess, but I will never have to do that again! What was your first successful hair braiding/twisting experience like? I would love to hear about it!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Ankhs and Aphros

     This post is about two of my obsessions: Aphros and Ankhs. Not only are they beautiful in their own right, but I feel like these two aesthetic elements compliment each other so well. They're like bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly. I feel like they just go together. This belief probably stems from a long time fascination I have with Erykah Badu and the Ancient Egyptians, but what can I say? I love neo soul and ancient civilizations! Yesterday, I channeled my inner Erykah and wore a single ankh earring (purchased at a festival in Atlanta last year), a handmade beaded necklace gifted to me by my cousin, and my best accessory-- a super kinky afro, courtesy of a mini twist out.

The Ankh is a hieroglyph symbolizing eternal life.

To me, the ankh symbolizes creation and creativity.

     I apologize for the quality of the photos (I look kind of green!) as my digital camera is currently out of commission until I can find the cord to charge it. I lost it in a move a few months back and I haven't been able to take pictures everyday, which is so unfortunate because picture taking is essential to my happiness. Until I find the blasted cord, I have to rely on my webcam. Le sigh. Anyhow, I just wanted to share two of my favorite things. I am contemplating getting a tattoo of an ankh or Nefertiti this year because I am absolutely intrigued with Ancient Egyptians-- it was such a beautifully vibrant and interconnected culture. As for my afro, it symbolizes discovering my own personal truths and continual upward movement and growth. It's so much more than hair. But I don't have to tell you Naturals that-- it's something you already know. =)


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thoughts on Thursday: To Flat Iron or Not to Flat Iron?

     Let's talk about something that is a little controversial in the natural hair community: heat manipulation! The impression I get from watching several Naturalistas on YT, the verdict on flat ironing  is very divided-- some naturals use heat with much success  some forbid and abhor it, and others remain undecided. I think I'm of the undecided/ neutral variety. It's very hard for me to say what someone should or shouldn't do with their hair because I believe in experimentation, especially if you're newly natural and you're just learning about all the wonderful things your hair can do. I've straightened my hair four or five times, and each time I achieved different results. I always made sure to use some form of heat protectant-- whether it be oil or some other heat protectant product (I hear grape seed oil is great for this). Furthermore, I only flat iron my hair once or twice a year, usually because I want to check my length and trim my ends if needed. I will say this much-- I have never succeeded in getting my hair bone straight. My natural texture is extremely thick and because I never get it super straight, it ends up looking like a blowout after one day.

     I won't sit here and say that I'm not somewhat paranoid about what heat manipulation is doing to my hair. Sometimes I worry that straightening my hair could be stunting my growth (even though I only do it twice a year) or that I may get heat damage and my kinks wont bounce back. To ensure that I'm protecting my hair from heat damage, I deep condition my hair two or three days before I flat iron, and I wear styles like braid outs or flat twists that stretch my natural pattern. I notice that when my hair is already stretched, half of the flat ironing battle is already won. I proceed to add oil to each stretched section, comb through to detangle, blow dry on low heat, and THEN and only then do I pass the flat iron over my hair--and I was surprised to find that just one time is all it takes! Another lesson I learned, is that I shouldn't apply heat to my hair when it starts to revert; instead I should wear styles that really showcase my stretched hair. All of these tips I picked up by watching hair videos-- gotta love YT!

Two days post flat iron: It looks like a blow out!
     I flat ironed my hair about two weeks ago just to gauge my length and see how much my hair had grown since last year. I was happy to see that I retained a few inches and that my ends were in pretty good condition. I probably wont use intense heat on my hair until May, which marks the anniversary of my last relaxer. It will be interesting to compare photos of my relaxed hair with photos of my flat ironed natural hair. Every once in a while I get the itch to flat iron, but then I hear my inner voice preaching to myself that heat should be used in moderation. What do you think? Do you incorporate heat styling into your regimen? Or do you think that flat ironing your hair is plain unlawful? I would love to hear thoughts, ideas and suggestions!


Happy New Year! And the Co-Wash Challenge

     As the Winter weather is beginning to set in, I've been examining my hair regimen and preparing to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate the cooler temperatures and combat the dryness to come-- that is if I don't succeed in treating my hair properly. Alas, I've decided to abandon shampoo for the next two months and sort of undergo a Co-Wash Challenge. I noticed that many shampoos have a deadly combination of alcohols and sulfates that strip the hair of natural oils thereby depleting my hair of the thing it needs most: MOISTURE.
       With that said I've purchased a new conditioner, Organix Repairing Awapuhi Ginger Conditioner, which has alcohol (bad!!) but its sulfate free (awesome!!) I thought it was a good compromise as it fits into my budget-- it was about $6 at Walmart-- and it has some great natural ingredients like Cocoa Seed Butter, Coconut Oil, and Avocado Oil. I didn't want to compromise much on the quality of product and I definitely don't want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on conditioner that I'm just going to rinse out of my hair-- literally, that's money down the drain. I think this product has the best of both worlds-- cheap and good for my hair! Anyhow I will be sure to post how using this conditioner as opposed to shampoo every week is beneficial or disadvantageous to my hair care regimen.
      A second change I am making as of tomorrow is adding hot oil treatments to my regimen. I've been deep conditioning with a homemade concoction pretty consistently for about 3 weeks, and I've had great results (I'll be sure to post my recipe soon!). I think as it gets colder outside my hair will need more nourishment in the oil department, so I purchased a giant bottle of Extra Virgin Olive oil and will be alternating hot oil treatments with deep conditioning treatments once a week. I'm serious about this hair growth/health thang ya'll. The struggle is real!!
     In addition to no shampoo and implementing regular hot oil treatments, I will also follow up with a leave-in conditioner that I love -- Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner. This product is a 4c kinky girl's dream!!  Look forward to a product review on it soon!  This past Sunday I installed mini twists to give my hair and myself a break, and I expect I will be doing more protective styling as the Winter progresses.

The twists took about 3 hours to put in....

....and about 30 minutes to take down. 
Tomorrow marks the beginning of my Co-wash challenge. Hopefully all of my efforts will not be in vain and I can retain length this year. I'm praying that I don't get lazy, lose steam, and hang it all up by February. That's all for now. Happy New Year to all and Happy Hair Grooming and Growing!