5 Tips to Care for Your Locs While Swimming

Every Saturday morning for the past 4 months I wake up early to take JK to swim practice at the YMCA. And while I am happy that my guppy became a minnow I have to admit the aftercare for his hair weekly is not my favorite thing to do.  While locs are more of a carefree style as compared to loose hair there is a manner of care that should be followed to maintain the health of the locs.  Here are the tips that I use to keep JK’s locs happy.Swimming at the Y

  1. Pre and post rinsing.  Wetting the hair with plain water before swimming minimizes the amount of chlorinated water absorbed into the hair.  After swimming use plain water to rinse the chlorine from the hair.
  2. Cleansing. There are lots of swimming and chelating shampoos on the market, they are all kinda pricey but if you are swimming a lot and your hair is suffering definitely invest in one. For JK we use clarifying shampoos. I alternate between Aveda Rosemary & Mint shampoo and Suave Clarifying shampoo weekly. We wash his hair after every dip in the pool.  When washing pay attention to the hair itself and not so much the scalp. The chlorine is in the hair and we want to remove it. His scalp stays very clean do to the frequency of washes.
  3. Deep Conditioning. There are many people who are surprised when I tell them I deep condition JK’s locs.  The key is to find a deep conditioner that will penetrate the hair, but will rinse clean we do not want any residue to build up within the locs.  For his deep conditioning I will use anything I have on hand including samples from subscription boxes.  We really liked Shea Radiance Maximum Moisture Conditioner and TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask. Shea Radiance Maximum Moisture Conditioner for locs
  4. Protein Treatments.  The frequent washing can easily lead to hydra fatigue so you want to be sure your hair is getting the protein it needs.  I like to use Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Protein Conditioner or just do a coconut water rinse.
  5. Don’t Sweat the Retwist. I absolutely do not retwist JK’s locs every week. I do make sure I go in and separate the locs to avoid mating and I let them air dry completely to avoid the musty smell.  His locs are definitely fuzzier but I don’t see the point in putting in the time and effort to retwist when he will be back in the pool in a few days.

Before you ask, yes they do make swimcaps for locs. JK’s locs are short enough that he can wear a large swim cap available at the sporting goods store. He wore it one time but he didn’t like being the only boy wearing one so I let him swim without it.  If you have longer locs check out Dreadlock Swim Cap from Dreadscapes on Etsy. I have not used this model but it is well talked about in different hair groups.

Locs are an incredibly versatile hairstyle and lend themselves easily to an active lifestyle.  Follow these tips to keep your locs well cared for while swimming.  If you are experiencing any excessive dryness or brittleness while swimming I would absolutely recommend the use of a swim cap and/or a chelating shampoo.  Yes, Black people do swim, if you have never learned to swim reach out to your local YMCA they have swimming lessons for all levels and all ages.


Traveling with Natural Hair

I love to travel. Recently I went on my first cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruises, I had an absolute blast if you have not ever been cruising it is something you simply MUST do! Check out my girl Janine with Your Door to the World Travel if you are interested in taking one.

Haley on a cruise This first thought that entered my mind after the excitement of going on a cruise was what am I going to do with my hair? I knew I was going to be spending lots of time in the ocean or the pool by day and dancing the night away so the best style for me would be a wash-n-go. I could wash my hair regularly to remove salt water, chlorine, sweat and whatever ever I managed to get in there while still looking cute. I had to make sure the products I selected would be effective and reliable but also be ideal for meeting restraints of limited luggage, flying and multi-use. Here is what I selected.

  1. Bobeam Shampoo Bar These bars do an excellent job of cleansing the hair and scalp they are compact and best of all they are not liquid so you can pack them in your carryon luggage saving room in your checked baggage.
  2. Aussie Moist 3-Minute Miracle I know I can be a bit of a product snob but I always have a cheap condish in my arsenal. One I that will work as both to moisturize my curls and has enough slip to detangle. I also don’t feel guilty when I accidently leave it behind in the shower at the hotel.
  3. Curl Junkie Pattern Pusha Gel While I haven’t officially posted a review for this gel it has been road tested several times. I can get up to two day hair with one application, it is lightweight and provides consistent results. Also because it is so mucilage heavy I don’t have to use a leave-in conditioner underneath.
  4. Hydratherma Naturals Hair Growth Oil I have a small 2 ounce bottle that I travel with to soothe scalp, seal hair and add shine. It also smells really good which is an added plus.
  5. Oh Honey Hush Hair Scarves There will come times when you need to pull your hair up either to simply get it out of the way or just for a cute style. Many ladies use stretchy headbands which work for some but my head is big +  I have a lot of hair = headaches and broken bands. I prefer to tie my hair back and these scarves are just so damn cute.

That was my complete hair care list. I didn’t bring a comb either, just finger detangled my hair while conditioning it. There were some days I simply did a conditioner only wash-n-go and tied my hair up in a puff because I knew I would be getting in the ocean and did not want to waste any hair products. I had the most wonderful time on my cruise and I am already planning the next one.


QOTD: Curl Stretching

Question of the dayCourtney asks

Are there any good products for curl stretching?

Ah, what a loaded question you ask my dear, lol :) Asking what products are good for curl stretching is the equivalent to asking what foods are good for losing weight quickly. So I will take this answer in two parts.

One, there are no products out that actually stretch your hair.  There are many product lines that claim to stretch and/or elongate curls but I have yet to see this ever happen. This is just a marketing ploy.  I will say there are some products that shrink the hair more than others but none that actually stretch the hair.  Products that are heavier do tend to weigh the hair down and not allow it to shrink up completely, but that is not the same as stretching.

Two, while there are not products that work in stretching the hair there are techniques that you can apply to stretch the hair. Note any further references to hair stretching really means the hair will not shrink up as much when compared to naked hair.

The hair on the right was stretched using twist method. The hair on the left air dried normally

Compare my bangs in these pics.  The hair on the right was stretched using twist method. The hair on the left air dried normally.

4 Ways to Stretch Your Curls

  1. Braiding: grab a section of your hair and simply braid loosely, allow to dry 75% then gently release and separate
  2. Banding: grab a section of your hair, use scrunchies or clips to form extended pigtails, allow to dry 75% then gently release and separate
  3. Twisting: grab a section of your hair and simply twist loosely, allow to dry 75% then gently release and separate
  4. Pineappling: pull hair loosely into a ponytail on top of your head, allow hair to dry 75% then gently release and separate.

That is my advice on how to stretch your curls. Please do not fall for products that claim to stretch and elongate, that is just simply not the truth.  But with the methods I listed above you can keep your hair from shrinking completely.

Co-Washing InfoGraphic via YoungBlackNappy

Co-washing or conditioner only washing is a method used by many naturals to rinse their hair of existing product and sweat while adding moisture back into the hair. It is not a replacement for cleansing the hair, but this technique can be used between washes to avoid over-drying effects of shampoo. Check out this awesome info-graphic from YoungBlackNappy.


Co-Wash Natural Hair

UPDATE: We’ve been getting a lot of questions about which co-washes or cleansing conditioners we would recommend, so we wanted to help! While it’s imperative that you find the right conditioner that works for your unique hair, here are a few products we’ve heard nothing but good things about :)

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser
Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Nourishing & Conditioning Cleansing Conditioner
EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Cleansing CoWash
Soultanicals Curlplay – Intense Cowash Treatment
Koils by Nature Ultra Moisturizing CocoAloe Deep Conditioner

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Curly Girl Method v. Tightly Curly Method

Elle of Quest for the Perfect Curl and I were on the same page this morning. There has been a lot of misinformation spread about the Curly Girl Method, aka CG.  One of the main misnomers about the CG method is that you ONLY use conditioner, that is just plain false. You can cleanse with a sulfate-free cleanser and style with silicone-free gels. You may be already dong the CG method and not even know it!

What people are consistently confusing the CG method with is the Tightly Curly Method which is a conditioner-only method. Either way, to get the real deal on these methods check out these two books: Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey and Curly Like Me by Teri LaFlesh. For more curly reading recommendations check out this post >  on Curly Reading.

Question: Hey Elle! Have you ever done a conditioner only wash&go? What are your thoughts on them? I just had major success with using just Tresseme naturals condish for my w&g and I can’t believe it looks so good lol. I’m trying the CG method but slightly worried my hair could dry out.

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Fighting Frizz: Mineral vs. Coconut Oil

As we enter the humid months we begin to look for anti-humectants or products that can help keep the moisture out.  Excess moisture in the hair results in turning your awesome twist out into big frizzy fro.  Many naturals use oil to help seal their hair, keep the existing moisture in and keeping additional moisture out.  But is it better to use a natural oil like coconut oil or a man made product like mineral oil? 

Pros and Cons of Coconut Oil:
  • Coconut oil is a natural product that can be used on hair, skin and even in cooking.
  • Coconut oil adds shine and seals in moisture.
  • Coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft to soften hair and aid in strengthening hair from the inside.
Pros and Cons of Mineral Oil:
  • Mineral oil adds high shine and seals in moisture.
  • Mineral oil is long lasting, and remains on the hair until removed through cleansing.
  • Mineral oil coasts the shaft and forms a barrier on top of the hair
Test it Yourself:  
  • Apply coconut oil to the back of your left hand.
  • Apply mineral oil to the back of your right hand.
  • Wait 1 hour for the products to absorb undisturbed.
  • Run your hands under water for 1 minute.
  • Observe the way the product reacts.  Does the water bead, and roll off your hand? Is the area to which the product was applied the same? Has the product absorbed into your skin?
  • Wait another hour and repeat with the water test and observations.
  • Wash your hands with a mild soap.
  • Observe the way the product reacts.  Is the product fully removed from your skin? Did the product wash clean?
So which is better? To determine which is better you need to decide which works best for your regimen.  If you refresh your hair daily I would say choose coconut oil.  If you prefer a longer lasting style that doesn’t require refreshing I would say to choose mineral oil.  If you prefer low poo or no sulfate shampoo, choose coconut oil.  If you don’t mind sulfate shampoo then choose mineral oil.  So the choice is yours, for more information on this topic check out this article from naturallcurly.com.

Ditch the Itch! 7 Tips to Soothe An Itchy Scalp

Jennifer asks: What can I do about my itchy scalp?

An itchy scalp can be an annoyance but it can also be a sign of a greater medical issue.  Have a friend or loved one examine the area in question making sure there aren’t any sores, bumps, rashes, etc.  If any of these things are present seek medical advice.

7 Tips to Ditch the Itch and Soothe an Itchy Scalp

  1. DO NOT SCRATCH.  While scratching may provide a temporary relief it can lead to more problems such as inflammation, infection and/or further irritation so resist the urge. Instead opt for the infamous “weave pat”.
  2. GET IT CLEAN.  Use a clarifying shampoo to thoroughly clean and remove any residue from the scalp.  Have a friend or loved one examine the area after washing to make sure you have thoroughly removed any buildup. Tips on proper shampooing.
  3. COLD WATER RINSE. Simply rinsing the scalp with cold water (or applying a cold pack) can often help temporarily soothe and constrict the blood vessels which helps reduce the swelling often associated with itching.
  4. OATMEAL RINSE.  Yes oatmeal has magical effects of soothing irritated skin but instead of reaching for the breakfast oatmeal in your cupboard.  You want to grab some colloidal oatmeal from your local pharmacy.  Colloidal Oatmeal Rinse.
  5. WITCH HAZEL. Another wonder of nature witch hazel can also soothe irritated skin. I recommend a natural distillate in aloe or water as oppose to one in alcohol commonly found in your pharmacy. All About Witch Hazel.
  6. ALOE VERA. Is there anything that aloe vera is not good for? Itchy scalp can be a result of inadequate moisture.  Use an aloe based spray to moisturize your hair and scalp and it can also soothe irritation. Tips on Moisture.
  7. SCALP OILS.  Another cause of itchiness can come from dry scalp.  You can use natural oils like jojoba oil which is close to your natural sebum.  Or you can give it extra oomph by adding essential oils and herbs to soothe  like Rosemary and Sage. DIY Rosemary & Sage Scalp Oil.

These are just a few tips to help you overcome that annoying itch.  Also want to take note of any new products you have used and maybe remove it from your regimen for a while as perhaps there is an ingredient listed that is causing an allergy or irritation.