Posts Tagged ‘hair’

My Challenges

I’m a member of longhaircareforum, which is a great forum for helping black women to achieve healthy hair.  One of the things I like about this site, besides all the good info, is all the challenges that are available to join.  Thanks to the wonderful women there, I’ve joined the “Put Down the Ruler” challenge, “Get Your Hands Out of Your Hair” challenge and the “MT/OCT” (stands for MegaTek/Ovation Cell Therapy) challenge.

I joined the ruler challenge because I was/am so obsessed with finding out how much my hair grew everyday.  I joined the hands out of hair challenge because I’m always playing with my hair–feeling new growth, wetting my hair to see how long I can get it to look, and that damned flat iron (don’t even get me started about that: see my post snip).  I joined the MT/OCT challenge just to see if I can increase my hair growth more than it usually grows.  Between the three of these challenges that I’ve joined (so far), by my birthday–or by early next year–I’m hoping my hair will be the healthiest it’s been in a while.  And if length comes with it all the better =)

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Simple Henna Recipe

When I first heard of using henna on hair, I immediately though of Lucille Ball’s red hair.  Thanks to the sites longhaircareforum and healthtextures, I decide to give it a try.  The first time I used it, I made the mistake of putting too much in my mixture.  Result: nice shiny hair, but a little dry.  I find the best way to use henna, especially for first-time users, is to make it as simple as possible.  The second time I did my henna treatment, it was much better than the first time.

If you go to this site about henna, you will find that there are many people who have recipes for different hair colors using henna.  The colors range from strawberry blonde to blue-black.  Depending on your current hair color, you could achieve either a reddish tint, or another color altogether.  Before you do that, though, it is best to start with the basic recipe.  It’s really very simple.

Henna, warm water, container, cover for container and time is all you need.

Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, put at least 100g of henna in a container (I use the plastic storage containers from the store).  Add warm water a little at a time until the henna powder becomes a thick mud-like consistency.  When you have mixed the henna and water well, cover the container for at least 8 hours to allow color to release.  Depending on the brand of henna you have, when you first mix the henna it may be a different color than when the color releases.  The brand of henna I use, Nupur, is a green powder but when the color releases it is a deep red-brown color.  How do you know when the color has released?  A piece of advice I got was to put the corner of a paper towel into the mix before you cover it.  The reason for this is to see the red color that indicates that the henna color has released.  I usually let my mix sit overnight to make sure.

Now that you have your mix and the color has released, it’s time to apply your henna.  Put on some old clothes, or cover yourself with towels or a cape.  Also, it might be a good idea to lay down some newspaper or something in the immediate area where you’re working, because applying the henna mix can be a messy job.  Either on dry hair, or freshly shampooed (or co-washed) hair, apply the mix thickly to your entire hair–don’t be afraid to really put in on.  You want to cover your hair well, kind of like making a mud pie on your hair.  Apply from root to tip.  When your entire hair is covered, put a conditioner cap or plastic bag over your hair, clean up your area, and let the henna sit in your hair for at least 30 minutes.  I leave it on for about 4 hours.

If you have any leftover henna mix in your container, it is perfectly fine to cover the container tightly and put it in the freezer for future use.

After the henna has sit for the appropriate amount of time, it’s time to rinse it out.  Make sure not to manipulate your hair too much as you rinse out the henna, as this could cause unnecessary breakage of the hair.  Allow the water to do the job of rinsing the henna out for at least 10 minutes.  After most of the henna is rinsed from the hair, you can help the rest of the henna come out by using conditioner.  The conditioner acts like a lubricant that assists in getting the rest of the henna from the hair.  Make sure you pay attention to the back of your hair, as well as your hairline.

After the henna is rinsed out, you can do a deep conditioner, or your regular conditioner.  You may notice that your hair is instantly softer and feels stronger.  If you have curly hair, you might even notice that your curls have loosened a bit.  As your hair dries, your hair feels better, and you won’t believe the shine!

Hair after henna treatment

Snip!

Goodbye damaged ends =(
Goodbye damaged ends =(

Sigh…well, I had to do something I was hoping not to have to do.  The other day, I cut off about a 1/2 inch of my hair.  Now I’m back to where I started a couple of months ago…I know a lot of people won’t understand or say “what’s the big deal?”.   A part of me knows that it’s just hair and it will grow back, but I still feel like I had a setback in my hair journey.

Why did I cut?  I can pinpoint to two days.  Two days in which against what I knew better than to do, I used a bunch of heat on my hair.  I should have stopped the first time, when the humidity was fighting what I was trying to do, but it was like a compulsion, ya know?   I was impressed by the MT progress I had made and I just kept messing with my hair!  Now look what I did: I had to cut off a lot of the ends in order to restore the health of my hair.

So now, I’m gonna make sure that I take care of my hair better than I have been.  I’m gonna baggy more often, keep my hair moisturized, baby my ends, cut down on the combing and manipulation, wear more protective styles, and most of all step away from the flat iron (at least for a while).  It will be interesting to see how fast and how much MegaTek will give me growth.  I’m aiming for APL (armpit length) by the end of the year.  We’ll see how far I get.

Attack of the Cones!

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on your shampoos, conditioners, leave-ins and other products? Ever seen a lot of stuff that’s in there ending in “cone”?  Most of us are familiar with silicone, but have you ever thought about what these cones do for and to your hair or your body? If you have, then it may be beneficial for you to meet the cones that can be found in your products.   These cones come in two flavors: water soluble and not water soluble.  If the “cones” are water soluble, then they are not as likely to cause buildup like those that are not water soluble. What exactly does water soluble mean?  Simply put, it’s a substance can dissolve in water.1

Here is a list2 of “cones” that are found in our products.  The list notes if the ingredient is water soluble or not.

Amodimethicone not soluble in water by itself
Amodimethicone (and) Trideceth-12 (and) Cetrimonium Chloride mixture that is soluble in water in the bottle
Behenoxy Dimethicone Sparingly soluble in water
Cetearyl methicone not soluble in water
Cetyl Dimethicone not soluble in water
Cyclomethicone not soluble in water
Cyclopentasiloxane not soluble in water
Dimethicone not soluble in water
Dimethicone Copolyol water soluble
Dimethicone copolyol water soluble
Dimethiconol not soluble in water
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane water soluble
Stearoxy Dimethicone Sparingly soluble in water
Stearyl Dimethicone not soluble in water
Trimethylsilylamodimethicone not soluble in water
Lauryl methicone copolyol water soluble

1As described by thefreedictionary.com
2From: naturallycurly.com

This list should help you to determine if you might experience buildup from any of your products that contain any of the cones.  Buildup happens when a product forms a film that needs to cleared away after a time.  Some prefer to avoid cones altogether.  That can be a task in and of itself–unless you make your own products.  There’s no need to be afraid of these ingredients.  Watch your hair to make sure that is responding to your regime and you should be just fine =).

Baking Soda Uses

What is baking soda good for? Lots of things, and just about everything!  Some of the uses that I’ve found:

1. Cheap hair clarifier:  Use a little baking soda in your shampoo (or even your conditioner) can help to get rid of stubborn residue that sticks to hair from our dailly products.  Be careful not to use too much, though, because it can dry out hair.  Some even use baking soda in place of commercial shampoos.  Follow with a vinegar rinse and/or conditioner.

2. Cheap face cleanser:  Did you know that baking soda can help to cleanse, exfoliate and even help remove blackheads from your skin?  I like to use it during the summer because it helps me to cut down on the “T-Zone” shine on my face, helps my pores look smaller and keeps my blackheads at bay.  If you make a paste with it, pimples can disappear within hours!

3. Cheap deodorant:  The other day, I realized that I ran out of deodorant.  Since I was already late for an appointment, waiting in line at the store to buy some was really not a timely option…what to do, what to do?  Baking soda came to my rescue until I could get to the store.  After my shower, I just sprinkled some baking soda on my hand, and applied to my pits.  It worked even better than I thought it would (although I now keep an extra deodorant in my car), it’s nice to know that the baking soda did its job!

4. Gargle for sore throat:  A little baking soda in some warm water makes a good gargle for when you get a little tickle in your throat.

5. Gentle teeth whitening:  Most of us know that baking soda’s abrasive properties can help to gently whiten teeth, and also freshen breath at the same time.  Don’t forget to clean the tongue!

My #1 reason for loving baking soda?  It’s CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP =).  How many uses can you think of?

Shrinkage is a…

One of the amazing things about curly hair is something called “shrinkage”.  In my own words, shrinkage is the difference in length of hair at different times.  When my hair is wet, it looks much longer than when it has air dried.  At times this can be frustrating because I don’t like to flat iron my hair all that often, and I’m not really one to rollerset, so most of the time when my hair is dry it looks like it falls to my shoulders.  Case in point:

Even though shrinkage can be a bit of a pain, I am still overall glad to have such versatile hair, and  I wouldn’t trade that for anything =)

Uses for Ayurvedic Powders and Oils

There are various ways to use Ayurvedic powders and oils.   I’ll discuss the soaps in a little while.

Powders:

1. The powders can be mixed with water to form a paste and applied to the scalp.  It is recommended to pre shampoo with some oil in your hair before these treatments, to maintain the softness of the hair after the powder is rinsed from the hair.

2. The powders can also be added to existing conditioners and shampoos.

3. Another way the powders can be used is as a tea rinse treatment.  See “Ayurveda Videos” page for instructional video.

Oils: The oils are good for conditioning hair and using in a pre shampoo treatment.  Some powders are so concentrated that they can possibly strip extra oil from the scalp, especially those of us with curly hair that has trouble distributing natural scalp oils throughout the hair.  The oils are also good for sealing in moisture that has been put into curly hair, but can be a little too heavy for straighter hair.   Coconut oil is a good all-purpose oil not only for hair, but for skin, too.

Shampoo bars: Once again, you should pre shampoo your hair and scalp before using shampoo bars, as they are very concentrated.  The best way to use a shampoo bar is to make sure hair is thoroughly wet, lather the bar between your hands, and then apply lather to scalp.  Please do not try to rub the soap bar on your hair as it may cause the hair to break.  Remember, the shampoo bars are highly concentrated.  Shampoo bars generally do not lather alot, so if you would have to get used to trusting that your hair is getting clean without alot of bubbling.  Use a moisturizing conditioner afterwards.