Simplified hair regimen: It’s a new day!

Hello, folks!

Yes, this thing is on. I’ve just been … lazy, as usual, with my hair.

Since I last posted, I’ve decided to simplify my hair care regimen and the number of products I use. More than anything, I realized that if: every day I wet my hair, apply a cream, and (maybe) seal with an oil or avocado butter, then everything’s gonna be irie. The most important things here are to wet my hair and follow with a rich cream.

Now, here’s the hilarious thing: Like most of us have found ourselves in a situation where we didn’t have our hair products, I was on a trip recently where I was without nearly all of my toiletries. All I had were a spray bottle of water, avocado butter, and some lotion, specifically Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Earth Mama Body Butter, a rich lotion with aloe vera gel, shea butter, jojoba oil, and other moisturizing ingredients. Many of us aren’t new to the concept of putting lotion in our hair, but none has been so effective at keeping my hair moisturized like this.

I’ve also realized that I love how moisturized my hair feels after I do a clay treatment (I’ll post my recipe soon). Not only is it clean and clarified, but it’s soft, my curls are defined, and I almost feel like I don’t need to use conditioner. Almost. This is my hair we’re talking about here, and we know what a mind of its own it has.

So, I’ve stopped co-washing. Yep. I’m clay-washing. Only.

Even further, I learned that my hair doesn’t really need as much conditioner as I thought, as long as I add some water to distribute it through my hair. I’m saving big time money by not using nearly a half a bottle of conditioner on my hair.

So, then, what am I using on, and doing to, my hair?

  • My clay wash (recipe coming; I’ll link to it from here)
  • Aubrey Organics’ White Camellia conditioner (they’ve changed the formula, but it still works well for me)
  • My ayurvedic herb treatment
  • Daily wetting and following with Earth Mama Body Butter and avocado butter
  • Aubrey Organics’ Blue Green Algae Hair Rescue Conditioning Mask (my hair does well with this type of protein, once a month)
  • Gel: I’m still figuring out which works best for me, but my current rotation includes Curl Junkie’s Curls in a Bottle, Keratese’s Curl Fever Radiant Curl Defining Gel, Naturally Amari’s Curls R Us Flax Seed Gel, and Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Curl Defining Crème Glaze.
  • Color: Kool-Aid (seriously) and Surya Brasil Natural Henna Cream (I bought it, but haven’t tried it yet)

That’s it. This is all I’m going to do to my hair, because it works TM.

I have a slew of other products left over—so many creams, conditioners, sprays, etc.—and I want to cry. How am I ever going to get rid of them all? Swapping boards aren’t an option since it costs me about $30 to go to the post office (long story). I keep thinking that I should organize a swap/give away day event in my area, which would be more reasonable. At any rate, sticking with this routine and these products seems to be the cure for my product junkieism.

What does concern me is, because of my laziness, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a wash and go, and I wonder if I’ll be able to do a successful one with my current products. And I don’t think I can do one in the mornings before I go to work, simply because I get up at the crack of dawn (4:45 to 5AM), and to do a wash and go, I’d have to get up around 4. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. Perhaps a wash and go-to-bed experiment is in order.

So far in my hair journey, I’ve learned to find what works for my hair—even if it doesn’t make sense. As long as it doesn’t damage my hair in the long run (as some people have found with routines like the max hydration method), then I’m just going to do it. I am the Captain of My Hair.

Do what you do; do what works for you

It’s going on seven years that I’ve been relaxer-free. I’ve learned so much about my hair … and other people’s hair. Many people want me to treat my hair like they treat theirs or use to a particular product line because it works wonders for them. However, there’s no one approach to hair that works across the board.

When I first went natural, I fell for the hair-typing myths: Type 4 is this; you need this product; you can’t do this. Whatever. My eyes were opened when I learned about porosity and texture being the big factors to consider when choosing hair products.

Here are some other things I’ve learned that work for my hair care routine:

  • Finger detangling just doesn’t cut it for me. Sure, many people stand by it, but I need a comb through these locks to get out all the dead hair. And don’t tell me that I’m being impatient. I don’t have two hours to pick apart each piece of hair. Thank you.
  • That being said, detangling my hair, in the shower, using the coolest water possible is better than anything for me. Not only do I remove my protective styles this way—that is, unless I’m doing a twist, braid, or knot-out—but it’s great for a pre-shampoo take-down, and it’s a good time for me to rinse out my pre-shampoo oil or conditioner treatments.
  • I need to wet my hair as much as possible. Daily hair wettings work best for me, whether it’s drenching my twists in the shower or spraying my hair with plain water (I use oils or butters after either wetting). I know some people like to wear their style as long as possible, but I need all the moisture I can get. It’s only when I wet my hair daily, or every other day, that my hair feels well-moisturized.
  • A light spritz of water before a pre-shampoo deep conditioning works well. Some people say that it’s best to put pre-shampoo conditioners on bone-dry hair. Good for them; not for me!
  • Aside from water, the best things for my hair are shea butter, shea oil, avocado butter, coconut oil, mango butter, milk, aloe vera, ayurvedic herbs, and home made flax seed gel. Natural ingredients do wonders for me. Sure, I do have a few commercial products in my stash, but I’d be all right with just these things.
  • Petroleum-based products are not for me. I desire minimal use of chemicals in my hair, skin, and foodstuffs. When there are natural products that are less expensive and do the same thing or better, who needs chemicals? Granted, I do a lot of online investigating and shopping, so that helps keep my costs low and reasonable.
  • I still have nightmares about giving up my natural hair. Sheesh.
  • Being natural doesn’t make one better than people who aren’t. I’m tired of the attitudes and criticisms. Get off your high horses, people!
  • And, finally, I like being me and doing what I do. And I don’t need to criticize anyone for their methods, whether or not I agree with them.

Humidify Your Hair

Ahh, fall and winter—my least favorite seasons, for I was not meant to live in cold weather.

My hair is dry no matter the season, and I have to take great care to keep it moisturized. From wetting it regularly and sealing it with butters to weekly deep conditioning to ayurvedic herbs, I do it all. In the winter, my dryness is even worse.

However, I just realized (!) that there’s something small I can do that will help my hair. I’ve started using my vaporizer daily instead of just when I have a cold. Since I work from home, I spend a lot of time in my cozy, warm—and sometimes very hot—environment. But I’ve noticed that when I use my vaporizer throughout the day, my hair doesn’t dry out as much as normal in these chilly temperatures. My skin appreciates it, too, since the dry air also tends to steal moisture from it.

There are some really cute humidifier models (shaped like frogs, pigs, monkeys, etc.) out there, so you can help your hair and smile whenever you see your dragon friend blowing steam.

You can touch my hair … ?

I’m guilty of it, too. Yes, I—a black woman—am guilty of doing the “hair touching dance.” When one of my colleagues began working with me, I was fascinated by her hair. It was just above her shoulders, and it had beautiful corkscrew curls—just like I’d always wanted. Led by impulse, rather than good manners, I reached out and stroked her hair.

Thankfully, she didn’t mind.

In fact, I did it several times, until it occurred to me that it was inappropriate, though she didn’t mind. Did I do it because she had “good hair”? Did I do it because she had curly hair (like I later learned that I have)? Was it because she is black and has curly hair? I don’t know why I did it. It seemed like an innocent thing to do, though now, I realize I used poor judgment.

Few people have willingly reached out and touched my hair; after all, it was a burden to bear, not something of which to be glad. I grew up with all the old good hair/bad hair myths, and I had “bad hair.” Of course. As a matter of fact, about two weeks ago, my father even mentioned a family member who “has that good hair!” I cringed and held my tongue. (I know my family gets tired of my soap box rants.) Still, it hurt a bit knowing that my father hasn’t come to view our hair as beautiful, which also explains why he thinks I should relax my hair again.

Now, let’s flip the tables. I don’t know how I’d feel about someone wanting to touch my hair. If someone asked, rather than being caught unawares by it, I might not mind. It may also depend on who’s asking and why. I was shocked when one day, during my relaxed days, a dear friend of mine tugged at my hair and told me it was “pretty.” No one had ever said that before.

I’m intrigued by the touching dance, and how differently people feel about it and their reasons. I’m looking forward to the You Can Touch My Hair film that furthers the discussion; it will be released in the next weeks.

What do you think?

Happy relaxer-freedom month: It’s my anniversary!

It was in September 2007 (actually, I think it was August 2007) that I got my last relaxer. I’m glad those days are over. No more thin, plastered hair; no more sores in my scalp; no more breakage; no more $100+ salon visits every six weeks; no more being servant to the chemicals.

My hair has been the source of pleasure and, mostly, pain in my life. I’ve babied it, neglected it, fought with it, fought because of it, and—to be candid—hated it more often than loved it.

I’m at peace with it now; God showed me that I’m not my hair. I’m much more than this one attribute. Though my hair is still a part of my identity, it’s not all of who I am.

And I don’t need to conform to other people’s standards of what they think my hair should be or what they think is appropriate. I’m in control of my hair. And should I decide to wear a hat, braids, a curly afro, twist outs, gel-enhanced curls, knots, a wig, or a ponytail—then the decision is mine. No one else’s.

So, you see, losing the relaxer gave me freedom. How I wear my hair is my choice alone.

I’m the captain of my hair.

Happy anniversary to me!

Lazy Hair Maintenance

I’m noticing a pattern in my life, and it plays out here on the blog: Usually early in each year, I get my hair braided and get lazy about my hair maintenance, not to mention writing about my haircare.

This has got to stop.

Well, it’s going to stop to an extent because I’ve decided that I’m not going to braid my hair anymore. My hairline is receding more now, and I’m hoping that as I become more dedicated to my hair maintenance—instead of the lazy hair maintenance I’ve been practicing—my sides and hairline will bounce back. I think that having braids makes it worse because of the tightness and pulling. I don’t need anything else to take my hair out; laziness, eczema, and medicine already do a good job of that!

Lately, I’m really encouraged because of how my hair responded to my conditioning treatments after my haircut a week ago. Since I have to strip out the silicones from the products my stylist uses, two days before I washed my hair, I coated it with my favorite pre-poo conditioner, Shea Moisture Deep Conditioning Masque, and the following day, I wet my hair and saturated it with evening primrose oil. That night, I slept with a plastic cap on my hair, and the following day, I shampooed with a cleanser that contained coco-betaine and deep conditioned with Curl Junkie Curl Rehab.

Instead of feeling stripped from the coco-betaine, my hair feels incredibly soft and well moisturized. The results I got from my twist-out are amazing. In fact, five days later, I’m still able to pineapple and wear the curls from this one twist-out.

So, the lesson here is to stop being lazy and take care of hair—actually, take care of myself.

And … it’s time for my ayurvedic treatment.

Product Junkie-ism and My Regimen

Hi, my name is Voluptucurl, and I’m a product junkie. But I’m almost cured! That’s because I’ve nearly nailed down my hair regimen—finally. I think my product junkie tendencies came from trying to find what truly works on my hair. Once I learned the importance of knowing my texture, porosity, and elasticity rather than my curl pattern, it was easier to find products that benefit me. Most hair sites emphasize curl pattern and pitch products based on that. One’s curl type has less bearing on one’s hair needs than those other factors. However, I’ve freed myself from that notion and the requisite trappings. My hair is dry and coarse fine (my stylist told me that my hair seems coarse because it’s mega-dry!) with some medium strands, somewhat porous (I think), and fair elasticity (I also think). Based on that, I know that I need to avoid protein most of the time because my hair feels awful after a protein treatment; I need lots of moisturizing ingredients rather than restructuring ones; butters and oils are my friends; and, most of all, wetting and sealing with a bit of oil every day counteracts the dryness. Armed with this info, I’ve put together a regimen that makes a tremendous difference when I (actually) follow it. (Updated July 2015)

Every few days

  • Wash with my homemade clay mask (July 2015: I will post my ingredients soon)
  • Condition with (watered down) Aubrey Organics White Camellia Smoothing Conditioner, Curl Junkie Curl Rehab, or Spiral Solutions’ Deeply Decadent Moisturizing Treatment
  • Wash with Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo, and/or co-wash with Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner (or Rainbow Research Detangling Conditioner for Kids – Creamy Vanilla)
  • Post-condition rinse with aloe vera gel or hibiscus tea (about two cups of either) (update: I do this occasionally)

Style

Special Occasions – wash and go’s or twist-outs:
  • Wash and go:
    • Watered down conditioner and a gel (varies)
    • Style with BioInfusion Professional Hydrating Balm and shea butter and Joie MyGel for edges, or
    • Curl Junkie Beauticurls Leave-in Conditioner with homemade flax seed gel
  • Twist out: After washing: Curl Junkie Beauticurls Leave-in Conditioner, and avocado butter; other times:  Earth Mama Body Butter lotion and avocado butter
Daily style:
  • Flat, pinned sections with Curl Junkie Beauticurls Leave-in and shea butter, and Joie MyGel on edges, or
  • Twists with Curl Junkie Beauticurls Leave-in Conditioner, and avocado butter

Daily maintenance

  • Wet hair and seal with an oil Earth Mama Body Butter lotion (I’ll explain later!) and a butter Shea Moisture Curl Enhancement Smoothie; or a homemade moisturizer
  • Wet and lightly oil temples with homemade oil mixture (Jamaican black castor oil, neem oil, tea tree oil, and essential oils for fragrance)

Every two weeks

Once a month

  • Protein treatment with Aubrey Organics Blue Green Algae Hair Rescue Conditioning Mask
  • Clarify with Giovanni Triple Tea Tree Treat shampoo. I have no need to clarify since I’ve been using the clay mask. We’ll see if that stays true.

After haircuts

(Because my stylist uses Aveda products that contain ‘cones)

  • Wet hair and coat with evening primrose oil; cover with a plastic cap (note: whenever I do this this in general, my curls get a-poppin’)
  • The following day, wash with a mild-ish shampoo that contains coco-betaine; deep condition with either Spiral Solutions Deeply Decadent Conditioner or Curl Junkie Curl Rehab

Braid maintenance (once or twice a year)

  • Daily spray: distilled water, aloe vera gel, oil (olive or jojoba), pine needle essential oil, lavender essential oil, scent
  • I’ve decided to avoid braids now. My hairline can’t take anything that pulls.

I hope that I can continue with these products and not slip back into being a product junkie. Hey, my goal is to kick the habit, after all! I’m considering moving to a place where the climate will be significantly different, but I think these products and this routine will work for me year ’round. My hair is significantly dry, so I haven’t found it necessary to switch products when the seasons change. That might change, however, as my hair’s condition improves.

In the meantime, one two product products that I haven’t decided about is are Curl Junkie Curl Rehab (I haven’t used it yet) and Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle (I’ve used it once, but I haven’t determined how to best use it). I’m going to update this entry if I need to make any changes. Otherwise, I’m quite satisfied with how this routine works for me.

Update from July 2015: As you see from my edits, I’ve simplified my routine considerably. I needed a regimen that would work best for my schedule and lazy ways (TM). So far, so good. The clay mask is amazing, and I might like it just as much or more than my ayurvedic herb treatment.

History of My Hair: Part Two

I was a teenager in the ’80s. Living in the ’80s meant you had to have big hair.

And big hair was a necessity for people of all races. Whether it was a teased out, crunchy (from excessive hair spray) ‘do; a squared off, high-top fade; a magnificated mullet; voluminous bangs with a swoop-to-da-side; or a huge waterfall effect, nearly everyone had big hair.

I was no different. Sort of.

When I discovered mousse, I had big, no, huge hair. Okay, perhaps that was only in my dreams. It wasn’t huge; it just looked…normal. I’ve always had thin hair, and when I was still relaxing it, it looked especially thin. I was in desperate need of volume—even just the regular, non-’80s volume. Enter the dawning of mousse. Mousse was heavenly hair in a bottle. Along with volume, it could condition, impart sheen, and clean the house, too. (Don’t question me, child; it did, okay?)

There was a brand of mousse in particular, Halsa, that worked fabulously for me. Besides its other wondrous attributes, it gave me what no other product could: hold. Most of the time, my hair wouldn’t hold a curl, and in the dead of summer, forget about it. Halsa to the rescue!

The first week after a touch-up was the worst for me: My hair was flat, and because it resisted the relaxer, my stylists always used a very hot curling iron to further straighten my hair. This made my hair appear even thinner. I hated the way they would style my hair; it looked like my hair was plastered to my head. That wasn’t VoluptuCurl-worthy hair!

I’ve come to realize that, on most occasions, I wasn’t trying to follow the ’80s fads. I just wanted to look my best and not like a mutant. That’s probably what helped me when I decided to go natural. I wanted to do what was best for me.

I’m relieved that I’m comfortable with doing what’s best for my hair—no matter what people think. And that I survived mile-high hair.

I encourage you to do what’s best for your hair. And I mean best. Sometimes, we naturals are so militant and staunch in our positions about having natural hair that we offend others in our quest to make natural believers of everyone. It was a friend’s words that almost caused me to miss the wisdom of going natural because of how she talked to me about going natural.

However, don’t miss out on good advice because of someone’s choice of words or the manner of their delivery. It doesn’t hurt to educate yourself about haircare, ingredients, and the science behind hair. Remember: Just because you may have a regimen or tradition, it doesn’t mean it’s always the best thing.

I had to learn that—and I had to apply it in many areas of my life.

Preventing Homemade Hair Products from Separating

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So, it’s been, um, quiet around here, huh? Well, you know how it is. I got braids earlier this year—after my last post, in fact—and I got lazy. Welcome back, me.

Now, back to the point: I’ve been natural for several years now, but I still have had problems with some of the sprays I make for my hair; they always separated or were somewhat gloppy or “googly.” Any time I used aloe vera gel in a recipe, just forget about it staying mixed.

I decided to try something different the last time I prepared my moisturizing spray. I poured my ingredients (water, aloe vera gel, olive oil, grapefruit seed extract, lavender, and fragrance oil—all at room temperature) in a mixing container and blended it with my stick blender (immersion blender). Well, that did the trick instead of shaking everything in my spray bottle.

I’m sure many people already know to do this, but in case you also have unresolved separation issues, save yourself some pain and get an inexpensive stick blender.

Happy mixing!

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that you’ll probably still need to shake this mixture before you use it, but at least you won’t have the googlies or the gloppies.

Hair, Hibiscus, and Ayurvedic Love

So, in my last post, I mentioned that I planned to try hibiscus tea in place of plain hot water in my ayurvedic herb mixture. Well, I did, and let me tell you how I wish I’d tried this earlier! As good as my hair feels without the hibiscus, I could tell a difference with it.

All I did was make some tea with about 1/3 cup of dried hibiscus flowers, which I let steep for about 15 minutes. After that, I poured it in my herb mixture and added more hot water. I’m done kicking myself for forgetting about using ayurvedic herbs, but I can imagine what amazing condition my hair would be in if I hadn’t.

These ayurvedic herb treatments and Jamaican black castor oil should have my hair in really good shape by summer. We’ll see!