Friday, March 19

Decadent Beauty Ada

DB: How long have you been natural?
Ada: My last relaxer was in April of last year. So I've been natural for roughly a year.

DB: What do you think is the best thing about being natural?
Ada: Oh my. The list is endless.  My hair has character, it does its own thing; very unpredictable. My hair! But really, just the fact that I don't have to hide under anything. I do not have to go to extreme lengths to fit a certain mold. I can achieve a bunch of styles with my hair. I can morph into an afro, make it coily, curly or blow out in your face or just plain straight. What is there not to love? Oh and of course I do not have to run away from water!

DB: What is your hair care regimen?
Ada: I wash and condition my hair once a week.  I usually mix olive oil and coconut oil into my conditioner. I deep condition twice a month with either Aubrey Organics Island Natural Conditioner or a homemade banana conditioner (a blend of banana, egg, honey, olive oil, coconut oil and caster oil. Sounds yummy huh?) Because my hair is very coily, I get about 80% shrinkage. This means my hair will look like a TWA even though I have at most 5 inches of hair length. Because of that, whenever I am done with conditioning my hair, I usually section my hair, apply whipped shea butter, making sure I coat each strand and then braid the sections. Lately I have challenged myself to protective styling so I usually braid my hair into four big cornrows for the week. This also helps to check my hand-in-hair disease.

DB: How do you maintain moisture?
Ada: I maintain moisture by sealing my ends with a heavy butter and oil after washing and conditioning. During the week I'll mist my hair as needed.

DB: Any words of wisdom that you'd like to share with transitioners or newly naturals?
Ada: Trasitioners, look for styles that require little to no manipulation because it can get frustrating especially when you start getting a lot of new growth. Also look to do styles that blend in with your hair texture. When I transitioned I wore my hair in straw sets or I'd attach a faux afro puff. I transitioned for six months and BC'd because I just couldn't go any further. My hair was a tangled mess. Do not be afraid to do a BC.

To new naturals, I'll advise to be patient. At that stage you probably are looking for what works for you in terms of products and styles. When you do find what works, trust it will be a breeze from then on. Don't get caught up trying to get your hair to do what it can not do *cough* curl definition *cough*. You have to get to a point where you love your hair with all its hang ups or it will just be a frustrating journey. Please don't be too eager to try the next flaming product. If you find what works for you, stick to it (I need to take my own advice, lol).

DB: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Ada: That's pretty much it! Feel free to check out my YouTube page. I do cover songs and will be putting up my own originals when graduate school lets me, lol.

Tuesday, March 16

Read Your Labels

It's always wise to check the list of ingredients on your hair, body and face products before purchasing. Read your labels carefully when buying hair, body and face products. Most of the commercially available hair, body and face products today use harmful, potentially carcinogenic ingredients. If you have a reaction to a product that you're using then stop immediately. Listed below are just some of the worst commonly found product ingredients you can put on your hair and body.  The more of a particular ingredient you have in a product, the closer it is to the top of the list of ingredients on the bottle:

Petrolatum and Mineral Oil: Commonly known as petroleum jelly. Mineral oil is a derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. Petroleum based products can clog your pores and cause skin eruptions and black heads because it doesn't allow the skin to breathe and release toxins.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Ether Sulfate (SLES): This ingredient is used in about 90% of all shampoos and products that foam as well as cosmetics, toothpaste and conditioners. It's also found in detergents and surfactants that are commonly used in engine degreasers, car wash soaps, and garage floor cleaners. A small amount generates a large quantity of foam and when salt is added it thickens up, giving the illusion of being concentrated. Since the costs of these ingredients are so cheap they are used in personal care products a lot.

Parabens: are often used in skin and body care products as preservatives. Parabens have been associated with breast cancer and can cause the skin to loose its pigment.

Isopropyl Alcohol: is found in hand lotions, body rubs, hair color rinses, after shave lotions, fragrances and many other body products.  It's a pertroleum derived substance that is used in antifreeze and as a solvent in shellac. Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent and denaturant (poisonous substance that changes another substances natural qualities). It will dry your hair out and break it off.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): is used not only to thicken products but in making cleaners to dissolve oil and grease. They are often used in caustic spray on oven cleaners due to their effectiveness and are found in many personal care products. PEG's leave the immune system vulnerable by stripping the body and hair of it's natural moisture factor. PEG is a carcinogenic.

Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin: These two preservatives release formaldehyde and exposure to formaldehyde can cause dizziness, allergies, loss of sleep, and joint pain among many other aliments. Serious side effects include weakening of the immune system and cancer. Almost all hair, skin and body products contain these formaldehyde releasing agents.

Monday, March 15

Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural Hair

So you've been thinking about or decided to transition from relaxed hair to natural hair and you're not sure how to go about it.  You have two choices, you can do a BC (big chop) and sport your glorious TWA (teeny weeny afro) or transition until all of the relaxed hair is completely gone. If you decided to transition it means establishing a routine to gain and maintain healthy hair while dealing with two completely different hair textures.

When transitioning pay attention to the relaxed ends because if any breaking or splitting occurs it will travel up the hair shaft causing the natural new growth to split as well. Breakage happens at the line of demarcation, this is where your natural hair meets the relaxed hair. This area is prone to breakage because the moisture/protein balance differs between the two textures. So avoid playing in your hair since this promotes breakage and wear protective styles such as braids, twists, bantu knot, straw sets, weaves, wigs, etc.  If you choose to wear a weave or half wig then find a way to blend your natural hair with the artificial hair. As your hair grows cut off half an inch to an inch of relaxed hair. 

Avoid using direct heat while transitioning since it will damage your natural new growth and you'll have to start all over again. This means avoid using blow dryers, flat irons, straightening combs, and curling irons. When detangling your hair you want to be gentle, take your time, and use your fingers or a wide tooth, seamless comb. If you use your fingers to detangle make sure that your nails are well groomed because a split nail can snag the hair causing breakage.

As stated earlier you want to establish a routine while transitioning. There are three simple ways to help you out when transitioning: co-washing, deep conditioning, and hot oil treatments.

Co-washing (washing the hair with conditioner) this method is recommended nine times out of ten since most shampoos contain sulfates that strip your hair of its natural oils and moisture.  You can add whatever carrier and/or essential oils of you liking for added moisture.

The purpose of deep conditioning is to improve the hairs condition and should be done once a week.

Hot oil treatments temporarily repair damaged hair and can help with dry scalp conditions including dandruff.

Hot Oil Treatment
1/2 c dried rosemary leaves (rosemary promotes hair growth)
1/2 c olive oil
2 tsp jojoba oil.
Combine ingredients in a sauce pan over a low heat until the mixture is warm. Strain into an applicator bottle.  Coat the entire scalp, hair (including ends) with the oil mixture. Put on a plastic cap/bag and wrap a towel over that and leave on for 15 minutes. Wash hair thoroughly to remove the oil. NOTE: It's recommended that rosemary not be used if you're pregnant, nursing, have high blood pressure or on children under the age of 2 years.

Remember that moisture is going to be your best friend so using products that contain moisture or ingredients that are natural humectants is going to be your best bet.
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