Shea Moisture Wash Day

Shea Moisture ProductsLike most of you Sunday is my weekly wash day. I also wash my hair midweek after workouts as necessary but Sunday is the day I use to really target my hair and scalp needs.  I don’t exactly have product loyalty, I will change what products I use weekly in accordance to how my hair feels, what I am in the mood for and most importantly what is already open.  I try to use up my stash of existing products before opening new ones but sometimes my excitement gets the better of me :)

This week the objective of my wash day was to deal with my itchy scalp and to continue my March goal of deep conditioning with heat.  My scalp (and skin) gets really itchy every time the weather changes particularly during the transition of one season to another, one thing that really helps is exfoliating. Sloughing away layers of dead skin really helps to alleviate dryness and helps my skin breathe.

First things first, I separated my hair into six plaits.  Washing your hair in plaits can help reduce tangling but it is also great for providing access to the scalp when performing a scalp scrub.  I started by cleansing my scalp with Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo. This shampoo is super concentrated and works well as an effective cleanser. It also contains Silk Protein however as a protein sensitive curly the protein in this shampoo does not have any adverse effects.

Next, I scrubbed my scalp using Shea Moisture Olive & Green Tea Body Scrub.  I grabbed a few fingertips full and massaged the scub directly into my scalp in an agitating motion until the sugar crystals dissolved.  This is a sugar based scrub that is loaded up with good oils that is gentle but effective.  The reason I like to use this product as a scalp scrub is that the crystals dissolve so nothing is caught or tangled in the hair.

Lastly, I finished off with Shea Moisture Tahitian Noni & Monoi Smooth & Repair Nourishing Hair Masque.  I reviewed this masque a few weeks back and this is sadly my last application as I finished off the jar.  I was able to get six applications from the 12 oz jar and I really like the softness and strength I get after DCing with this product. Again there are proteins in this product, but just the right amount for me to reap all the benefits and none of the downsides of hard, crispy, straw-like hair.  I used my Hair Therapy Wrap to add some heat to my DC, per my current hair goal.

Full Wash Day Breakdown

  1. Separate hair into six plaits. I braided mine but you can twist or use clips
  2. Rinse hair and scalp with warm water
  3. Cleanse scalp & hair with SMCS shampoo
  4. Rinse hair and scalp with warm water
  5. Exfoliate scalp with SMOGT scrub
  6. Rinse hair and scalp with warm water
  7. Cleanse scalp & hair with SMCS shampoo
  8. Rinse hair and scalp with warm water
  9. Unbraid plaits one section at a time and apply SMSRNH masque
  10. Cover and deep condition with heat for 20-30 minutes.
  11. Rinse with cool water

There are several ways to correct an itchy scalp.  Some of my favorite tips you can find here in my Ditch the Itch post. So why did I exfoliate my scalp instead of using an itch remedy? Well when I scratched my scalp I noticed the amount of gunk (dead skin cells + dirt + oils) under my nails and knew an exfoliation treatment would be more effective.

What are your favorite Shea Moisture products?

Advertisements

How to be a Mixtress: Making Your Own Natural Hair Products

Can I tell you how ecstatic I was when my favorite mixtress Lola Zabeth selected little ol’ me  to be a featured mixtress? Huh? Say what? Me? Lola makes the most fab mixes from Coconite Cassia bars to Slippery Elm Leave In even a recipe to make Rose water yeah she’s that badass.  Read my Meet the Mixtress feature here.

While I consider myself a minor league mixtress, I am always challenging myself to see just what I am able to create.  I hope that my recipes inspire my readers not only to try them, but to improve on them and branch out to other products.  A lot of people contact me wondering how to become a mixtress and where to get started.  Here are my tips on where to start. 

  1. Improve on what you know.  Have a conditioner without slip or a shampoo that is too drying?  Try to improve it using common additives.  To make a conditioner more slippery simply add oil. For a shampoo that is too drying try adding aloe vera juice or gel.   Always experiment in small workable sizes.
  2. Replicate what you love.  Those ingredients listed on the back of the bottle really are the contents of the product.  Look at what is included and see if you can make it yourself.  It might take you several attempts to make a suitable knock-off but who knows you may like your own version better.
  3. Know your hair.  Find out what ingredients your hair likes and use them in your products.  This is just a matter of trial and error coupled with attention to detail. Once you find an ingredient your hair likes look for similar products and see how they perform.  My hair likes olive oil, but it loves safflower, sweet almond and rice bran oil all this I discovered with experimentation.
  4. Pick up some good quality ingredients.  Every mixtress needs to have aloe vera gel, coconut oil, tea, flax seeds, olive oil, honey, yogurt and coconut milk to start with.  My first mixes consisted of things I found in Wal-Mart.  From there I moved on to fancier ingredients like Bentonite clay, jojoba oil, cassia, herbs (horsetail, nettle, marshmallow root), essential oils and more exotic oils and butters.  If you live in a health conscience city these ingredients can be found in your local health food store, Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe.  You can also find these ingredients online, my favorite retailer is VitaCost.com.
  5. Take good notes.  Write down your recipes, especially your failures and try to figure out where you went wrong/right with each mix.  How did I determine my hair likes a pre-poo mix of 50% oil to 50% humectant? Well I made a batch that was 25% oil to 75% humectant, then continued adjusting the quantities until I found my hair’s sweet spot.
  6. Work in small batches.  When I was working on my whipped shealoe recipe I made at least 10 different mixtures but I used no more then 1 Tablespoon of each ingredient.  By working in small batches you stretch your raw ingredients farther. Also when mixing in small batches you do not need to worry about preservatives because most mixes will be used immediately.
  7. Purchase mixing tools.  You don’t have to spend big money, I pick up my tools from the dollar store.  A set of measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls that you don’t mind staining with henna or herbs, storage containers of various sizes, plastic mixing spoons and spatula.  While most of these ingredients you use on your hair are non-toxic and safe to eat, it is just safe practice to avoid contamination among other things to pick up separate tools.

Outside of these 7 tips simply roll up your sleeves and have fun!  You can check out my DIY Hair Treatments to provide some inspiration.  Also save $10 on your next VitaCost.com order by clicking my referral link and signing up for an account.  Happy Mixing!

DIY: How To Make A Length Check T-shirt

Going natural means starting over and while we know healthy hair will grow it’s nice to be able to track your progress.  I saw a length check t-shirt for sale on a natural website and thought, why pay for that when you could make one? So here is my take on the length check t-shirt.

What You Need:

Fitted t-shirt

Permanent or Laundry Marker 

measuring tape 

straight edge or level 

safety pins 

ironing board + newspaper

Launder and dry t-shirt, remove promptly from dryer to ensure it is wrinkle free.  Lay a few pieces of newspaper on top of your ironing board then place shirt on the ironing board back side up as if to iron.  Align measuring tape with top seam to left of collar and pin in place. Using the straight edge or level measure down 1 inch from the collar and draw a straight line horizontally across the shirt.  Repeat this step drawing a new line every inch until reaching the bottom of the t-shirt.  To use: Put the t-shirt on and have a friend grab a strand near the nape of your neck and measure it against a line on the shirt.  Write down the date on the line and denote with a S for stretched or U for unstretched.  Continue to measure regularly as your hair grows or you when you get a trim to record your progress.

This post was featured on Curl Rehab 1/13/12 Blog Hop

Straightening Natural Hair at Home

**This posts details how I straightened my hair and is from December 2010** 

I did not take a before picture as I decided to straighten on a whim however I do have a picture of a wash-n-go done the week before.  It is important to note that I had my fro shaped on the day I decided to straighten it so it was actually shorter then shown in this “before” pic. 

1.  Start with cleansed and conditioned hair.  Apply a leave-in conditioner to retain moisture and allow hair to air dry.

2.  Separate hair into six sections. Spritz the end of the first section with water and finger-comb.  Add a small dollop of Koils by Nature Sweet Almond Joy Nourishing Hair and Body Butter to the length of the hair and combed through using a Denman brush.  Next, using the Denman and my blowdryer with the concentrator nozzle I stretched the hair.  Each section took very little time as it was already dry I was simply stretching it.  Repeat on the remaining 5 sections.

3.  Set flatiron on 350 degrees.  Beginning at the nape of the neck, separate hair into 1-inch sections.  Using the comb and chase method make one pass with the flatiron.  In this method run a fine tooth comb down the section of hair and chase it with the flatiron.  This method keeps the hair from simply being smooshed because the comb detangles the curls allowing them to run smooth between the plates of the flat-iron.  On the second pass I turn my wrist under to give a slight curl and add body.

This method will yield straight results that still preserve your curl pattern.  If you want this style to last use a product that contains silicone to create a coat the strands and lock-out moisture.  You can also stretch your hair by twisting/braiding/bunning while wet and allowing it to air dry or use a hooded dryer.  I like to stretch my hair before straightening as it cuts down on the amount of direct heat applied to the hair.  Is shea butter going to burn your hair? No.  Shea Butter has a heat protection factor (thermal conductivity rating) similar to that of Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone which are the most common silicone heat protectants used.

Hair Care for Boys

This is my son, JK.  Like most Black boys he has natural hair but we choose to keep his hair longer then the traditional fade.  Most of his life he has worn a baby fro (twa) or a taper (fro that is shorter on the sides and back).  We talk a lot of caring for women’s hair but this post is all about the guys.

JK is an active six-year-old who enjoys rolling around on the carpet, playing in dirt so there is never any telling what you might find in his hair on a daily basis.  Here is a quick look at his regimen, which has been the same for years.

  • Every night his hair is rinsed with water in the bath or shower.
  • If he has some sort of food, dirt, sweat I normally just co-wash his hair to remove. (Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut)
  • Twice a month I wash his hair with shampoo, follow with a deep-conditioner.  He sits with a shower cap on his head for about 10 minutes before rinsing the conditioner out. (Yes to Carrots Shampoo and Aussie 3 Minute Miracle)
  • After bath I apply oil to his wet hair to help combat dryness.  His hair is high porosity so it gets really dry. (Tropical Traditions Organic Hair Oil)
  • In the morning we spritz his hair with water, then apply hair lotion (moisturizer or leave-in conditioner) and use the Tangle Teezer on his matted curls.  Then I use a pic to fluff and shape his fro. (Darcy’s Botanicals Shea Butter Moisturizing Cream)

I believe in teaching my son, just as I have my daughter, how to properly take care of his hair.  He can tell you what to use on his hair and what order to apply them.  I often let him do the spritzing of his hair and apply the product (I go back and fill in any areas he missed) and let him do the tangle teezer.  The TT has been a godsend to us as JK is very tender-headed and he used to fall out and act an absolute fool when getting his hair combed.  Now that we use the TT he no longer complains at all.  I also had to teach his dad not to comb his hair dry as that is very painful and to use water and moisturizer first.

I do not purchase hair products strictly for my son.  He normally uses the products purchased for his sister like Garnier Fructis, Yes to Carrots, Aussie Moist or Suave.  I will occasionally use some of my boutique products like Alaffia, Curls and Darcy’s Botanicals if they are close at hand.  For products I do not really care for on my hair, I will use these on my son.  He is fine with using any product as long as he does not “smell like a girl”.  There are a couple hair care lines geared toward children that we have tried such as Alaffia Beautiful Curls.  These product lines worked fine but for my sons short fro I just do not find it necessary to purchase products exclusively for use on his hair.

That is a quick snap-shot into hair care methods used on my son.  Other than the Tangle Teezer I do not have any allegiance to any product in particular to use on his hair.  I can suggest for those who have a similar hair texture of very tightly coiled hair to look into the Tangle Teezer for detangling before using a pic to shape.   For those with high-porosity dry hair I suggest applying oil at night to wet hair fresh out of the shower, this has helped tremendously.  He also sleeps on a satin pillowcase which has helped with the dryness and matting.  As for moisturizers his hair likes moisturizers that contain shea butter and we are able to use it as a moisturizer and sealant which cuts down on the number of products.

For those out there with boys what are your hair care regimens for your sons?

Layering Products 101

A great way to get maximum styling benefit is to layer products.  Layering is a method in which you progressively add products to your hair in order to moisturize, seal, define and finish your hair.  While there is no “right” answer as to how to style your hair other than what works for you this a good place to start.

  1. Start with clean slate.  Wash or co-wash your hair and begin right out of the shower.  You can also stretch your hair by braiding/banding/twisting and allow your hair to dry before starting then spritz lightly with water.
  2. Moisturize. Use a water-based moisturizer or leave-in conditioner (water is the first ingredient) or plant extract like aloe vera gel/juice which is composed mostly of water. It may be found in the form of a spritz or a lotion. Here are a few examples: Aloe Vera Juice (pour in a spray bottle), Oyin Hair Dew, Komaza Care Califia Moisturizing Spray, Pura Body Naturals Sapote Hair Lotion, Shea Moisture Hair Milk and Alaffia Shea & Coconut Hair Lotion, Curls Whipped Cream.
  3. Seal. Sealing is an important step as it helps you retain the moisture you just added to your hair.  Sealants are oil or butter based products that often contain coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, or mineral oil (though I do not advocate the use of mineral oil). Here are a few examples: Coconut oil, shea butter, Koils by Nature Hair & Body Butter, Komaza Care Moku Hair Butter, Yogachi Signature Buster Hair Butter, Pura Body Natural Cupuacu Hair Butter.
  4. Define.  Next is to define those curls and get them poppin! There are both creams and gels that can accomplish this for you.  Here are a few examples: Kinky Curly Curling Custard, Koils by Nature Herbal Gel, Jane Carter Curl Defining Cream, AfroVeda Pur Whipped Gelly, Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel, Eco Styler Gel, Darcy’s Botanicals Curling Jelly.
  5. Finish.  This is the final step in any style that is often overlooked.  By using a finisher you help set your curls, add a touch of shine and give an overall polished look. While this step is not mandatory it will give you that salon look at home.  Here are a few examples: Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade, Kinky Curly Gloss Pomade, Shea Moisture Hold & Shine Hair Mist, Curl Junkie Curls In A Bottle, Jane Carter Solution Nourish and Shine.
It is important to note that some products may serve multiple purposes for example when I use Jane Carter Solution Curl Defining Cream I apply it to wet hair as a moisturizer, sealant and definer as it contains ingredients that sufficiently do all three steps in one.  You may also choose to skip any of these steps as you see what works for your hair.  In this twist-out style below I used only water, aloe vera gel and butter/oil blend and got great results without a definer or a finisher.
Those are my layering tips, have you had any success with layering products? What steps do you use?

Wrapture

Turbans, head wraps and scarves, oh my!  This is the hot look for the summer, but some of you may have trouble incorporating this style into your everyday regi.  Have no fear there is a style out there for everyone it just takes a little experimentation and practice.

me as a turbanista

Fabric

The first thing you need if you want to rock a headpiece is fabric.  You can use anything from a t-shirt, scarf, wrap, or even go crazy at the fabric store.  While the shape, size and material really does not matter there are several choices.   Square, rectangle or triangle it is your preference.  I prefer to use rectangular scarves that measure between 18″ – 30″ wide and 42″ – 72″ long.  The scarf in the picture is rectangular and measures about 20″ x 60″.  When using square scarves i fold them into triangular shape and wear them further back on my head leaving bangs and/or back of my hair hanging out.  Most scarves you will find will be cotton, rayon, wool, silk, linen or a polyester blend.

You can purchase cute scarves from Forever21, Old Navy, H&M, Target.

scarves at old navy

Hair

The beautiful thing about wrapping your hair is that you don’t really have to do anything to it first.  In the picture above my hair is in a wild and free fro underneath.  You do want to  thoroughly moisturizing and seal the hair first before wrapping it up.  When wearing wool or cotton make sure you protect your hair by wearing a satin cap or scarf  as a barrier to protect your hair from the fabric.  You may opt to put your hair into a pony to help manage it, however you want to put the ponytail where you plan on tying it.  So if you want to tie it in the back put the pony in the back and vice versa.  If you are leaving your hair loose just push it in the direction and wrap it down using the scarf.    If you are looking for volume I suggest leaving your hair out and using it to create volume under the scarf.

Knotting

While there are some pretty clever knotting techniques out there you can get by with simple overhand knot (this is the knot you use to tie your shoes), twisting and tucking.  If you are feeling fierce you can opt to incorporate pins, clasps, hairties or broaches.  In the picture above I tied a square knot (two overhand knots), twisted the ends together, then wrapped into a bun and tucked the ends.  If you cannot get the bun to stay use a hairtie to secure.

How to

Here are some great tuts from some awesome YTers on how they wrap their hair.

First up is my girl Chescalocs.  She shares several stylings that can be done on locs or loose hair.

NikkiMae of NaturalChica shows you how to do a cute bangs out style.

MsVCharles has a simple innovative idea on how to get your headwrap to stay on if you have problems with slipping.

Alex of The Good Hair Blog has a simple, quick and easy headwrap.

Destiny of Destiny Godly gives tips on glaming up traditional turbans

Toni Daley does super cute and easy headwraps using t-shirt

So get wrapping folks and send in a pic, we would love to see your styles!

Bantu By Brokey

This post is dedicated to my curlfriend Brokey McPoverty, Queen of the Bantu Knots.  I cannot post a picture of her without someone asking,”how did she do that to her hair?” well wait no further I have the scoop straight from the source.

Bantu knots are a traditional African style, named after the Bantu people (which is a general term for several ethnic groups living in Southern Africa) who wore their hair this way.  Historically the way you arraigned and adorned your hair was a way to communicate, marital status, class, occupation or even feelings.  This style is very simple to do but can also be carved into intricate complex designs.  It can be done on all hair types from tightly coiled to stick straight to locs.

bantu knots

Basic Bantu Knots:  To make a bantu knot grab a section of hair and begin twisting in one direction.  The twist will begin to twist back upon itself at the root. Wrap the twist around itself to form a knot.  Secure by wrapping the ends around the base.  If the knot will not stay twisted secure with a hair pin or elastic.

Twisted Batu Knots: Same process as the basic except you two-strand twist the section of hair then you wrap around to create the knot.

Bantu knots can be worn as an ornate style on their own but can also be used as a way to set the hair and released for a knot-out look.  Knot-outs result in large voluminous loosely curled style that can be made fuller by further separating.  This is the look Brokey is known for. 

Brokey is on the left.

This style can be done on wet or dry hair using hold gel or curl cream; it all depends on your hair type.  Those with straighter hair may want to do this style on wet hair using gel to help hold the knots in place and set the style. Those with tightly curly hair may want to do this style on stretched or blowdried hair using a curl cream to help uniformly set the knots.

Knots can be done on any size plaits and twisted in any direction.  Smaller knots will yield a tighter curl, while larger knots will produce a looser curl.  You can also vary the size of the knots on your hair for a more textured look.  The knots can be twisted in either direction however the direction they are twisted will determine the way it falls so be mindful of that.

Brokey’s method:

1.  Start with stretched hair.  She stretches her hair by braiding it after washing/conditioning and allow it to dry.

2.  Section off your hair.  This just makes quick work of the knotting process if you section beforehand.

3.  Detangle lightly with conditioner, if necessary.

4. Apply a shine serum (optional) like Natural Shine Polish by JustNatural Organics

5.  Apply twisting or hold cream like darcy’s botanicals avocado and honey twisting cream.

6.  Twist and knot.

7.  Allow hair to dry completely.  Tie hair with satin scarf if going to sleep.

8.  When hair is COMPLETELY DRY, unknot and separate.  If your hair is not completely dry it will result in puffy bushy hair.  Use an oil or pomade on your fingers to smooth the hair like darcy’s botanicals coconut butter styling pomade.

9.  Fluff the roots.  This will help eliminate any odd parting.  Insert a comb or pick at the roots and gently shake and lift.

10.  Accessorize at will.  Add a scarf, clip, headband or flower to give extra life to your style.

Bantu knot-out with scarf.

To read Brokey’s complete post go here: http://brokeymcpoverty.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/at-last-the-dry-bantu-knot-out-post/

Video instructions on bantu knots:

Bantu Knots on Short Natural Hair http://youtu.be/KT9J12bkHv0

Bantu Knots on Transitioning Hair http://youtu.be/V-H99ut2mLk

Bantu Knots on Straight Hair http://youtu.be/bHAqqbvySOg

Bantu Knots on Locs http://youtu.be/59rTerjbcp8