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.

young.black.nappy.

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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Cleansing & Conditioning Natural Hair

I know what you’re thinking, “Why is she doing a post on cleansing hair? Everyone knows how to  do that!”  While everyone may think they know how to cleanse, most people do it incorrectly.  Here are a few tips on how to properly cleanse the hair, what different products to use, and some FAQ in regards to cleansing.

How to Cleanse & Condition Properly:

  1. Rinse hair and scalp with warm water
  2. Apply cleansing agent to the scalp, not the hair
  3. Gently agitate the scalp using fingertips, NO NAILS
  4. Rinse hair with warm water and repeat.
  5. Apply conditioner to the hair
  6. Gently smooth and massage conditioner into the hair
  7. You may opt to detangle with wide-tooth comb or Denman brush
  8. Rinse hair with warm water then follow with cool water
  9. Squeeze or shake to remove excess water.
  10. Blot dry with micro fiber towel or old t-shirt

Types of Cleansers

  1. Sulfate-free Shampoo – no harsh sulfates to dry hair out: Yes to Carrots Shampoo
  2. Cleansing Cream – conditioner-like cleansers formulated to cleanse the hair without harsh ingredients: Curls Curlicious Cleansing Cream
  3. Shampoo Bars – similar to bar soap but formulated to cleanse hair: LUSH Solid Shampoo
  4. Co-washing – Conditioner washing.  Condish has mild surfactants which is why this works: Tresemme Naturals Conditioner
  5. Gentle Cleansers – dilute to your own liking, great for locs: Dr Bronner’s
  6. Clarify – strip and clean the hair removing build-up: Kinky Curly Come Clean
  7. Swimmer’s Shampoo – remove chlorine: L’Oreal Kids Swimmers Shampoo
  8. Shampoo for color-treated hair – designed to be gentle and keep color in-tact: Nature’s Gate Chamomile Replenishing Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair

FAQs

  • How often should you cleanse? Whenever your hair is dirty.
  • How often should I condition? Every time you wash.
  • Can you over condition? Not really, it is possible to over condition the hair but because natural/curly hair can be prone to dryness it is difficult to do.
  • How do I know if my hair needs protein? Mushy, limp or lifeless curls.
  • How do I know if I have too much protein? Dry, straw–like or rough hair.
  • How often should I deep condition? Once a week or at least once every two-weeks.  Truly whenever you hair feels like daily conditioner is just not bringing life to your hair as it should.
  • How to improve drying shampoo or conditioner? Add a few tablespoons of oil.
  • Additives to improve hair health? Oil rinse for shine and moisture. Beer rinse for shine and strength. Tea rinses for hair and scalp issues. ACV rinse for extra cleansing, remove build-up or itch.
  • What are good and bad sulfates? Harsh (bad) sulfates to avoid: Sodium Laureth, Myreth, Lauryl Sulfate; Ammonium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfate; Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate; TEA Lauryl Sulfate.  Mild (good) sulfates: Sodium Cocyl Isethionate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate;Methyl Cocoyl or Lauryl Taurate.
  • Why is there sodium hydroxide in my shampoo? Because it is a cheap chemical used to pH balance products.  Hair has a pH balance of 4.5 -5.5 thermal styling, coloring, relaxing, harsh shampoos can all raise the pH balance of your hair resulting in raised cuticle, causing tangles, dullness and frizz. The raised cuticle will also expose the cortex of the hair shaft, making hair much more susceptible to damage. By using a low pH balanced product it helps restore your hair’s pH balance.

Summer Hair Care Tips

these are my adorable nieces on the California coast

Summer is here and for most of you that means a change in regimen.  We will discuss a few tips, products and styles to help deal with the summer heat, humidity and fun.

Mastering the Wash-n-Go

The WnG is a go-to style for many naturals in the summer time.  It is meant to be a quick easy style with low manipulation that gets you on your way.  Start by cleansing, co-washing or wetting your hair in the shower.  Add your favorite leave-in or moisturizer for additional softness.  Layer on a gel or custard to help provide additional curl definition.  Finish up with an oil or butter to help seal it all in, decrease any crunch from the gel and add shine.

  • Moisturizer/Leave-In: Oyin Hair Dew, Komaza Care Shea Butter Hair Lotion, Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia, Shea Moisture Hair Milk and Alaffia Shea & Coconut Hair Lotion.
  • Gel/Custard: Koils by Nature Herbal Gel, Eco Styler Gel, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, Darcy’s Botanicals Curling Jelly, Aloe Vera Gel and Komaza Care Califa Styling Pudding, Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel.
  • Sealant: Castor oil, shea butter, coconut oil, Oyin Burnt Sugar Pomade, Koils by Nature Nourishing Hair & Body Butter, Pura Body Naturals Cupuacu Butter and Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist.

Protective Styles

When its hot outside sometimes the last thing you want is to be bothered with your hair.  There are a lot of great protective styles that are perfect for summer.

Braids: Whether you chose to braid up your own hair into small pixies braids (as seen in this picture)  or go for extensions this is a style that last for a while and is easy to maintain.  Be sure to cleanse your scalp regularly and keep it moisturized.

Twists: Kinky twists are a very popular choice for summer.  They are quicker to install then braids and are fairly light.  Mini-twists done with your own natural hair are another great way to go. It may take a while to get them in but the style can last for weeks.

Cornrow/Flat-twist: These styles are great options for those who would just like to have hair tucked away and not have to worry about a thing!  With or without extensions this style can be very feminine and creative by fancy parting and by adding accessories.

Turban/Headwrap: A turban is an awesome way to protect your hair while being lazy.  In the picture here you would never know that I had a lumpy fro that I hadn’t combed in over a week!  All you need is a scarf and some imagination.  If you want more info on tying headwraps check out this post.

Swimming

What is summertime without enjoying the cool water of the ocean or your neighborhood pool?  While natural hair loves water you do want to be wary of chlorine in pools and water parks and the salinity of the ocean.

  • Protect: The suns rays are not only harmful for your skin but they can also be harmful for your hair.  So if you are going to spend a large amount of time outside cover your head with a hat or scarf or use a product that includes sun protection like Ouidad Sun Shield Leave-In Conditioner or by simply diluting your favorite sunblock with water and spritzing it on your hair.
  • Coat: Before you dive into the water grab your favorite condish and slather it on.  The conditioner will work to create a barrier between your hair and the chlorine/salt.  You can use a cheapy condish like Suave or V05 or you can pick up conditioners specifically formulated to protect against chlorine like Ion Swimmer’s Leave-In or Circle of Friends Kylie’s Pre-Swim Conditioner.
  • Cover: Swimmer’s caps may not be very popular or cool-looking but there is no better way to protect your hair then to avoid the harshness of chlorine by keeping it from coming into contact with your hair.
  • Cleanse: Once you are out of the water head toward the showers and rinse your hair ASAP.  Then follow-up with a swimmer’s shampoo formulated to remove chlorine/salt from the hair.  Ion Swimmer’s Shampoo, L’oreal Kids Swim & Sport Shampoo, Aubrey Orgnaics Normalizing Shampoo, California Baby Swimmer’s Shampoo, Joico K-pak Chelating Shampoo, Paul Mitchell Shampoo 3 and Kinky Curly Come Clean.
  • Condition: Most swimmers shampoos are really strong clarifiers and have a tendency to leave your hair feeling dry so be sure you follow-up with a good deep conditioner to restore moisture and balance to your hair like Anita Grant Rhassoul Clay, Aussie Moist 3-Minute Miracle, Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque, Jessicurl Weekly Deep Conditioning Treatment.

This is my sis C Rose reppin’ for the swimsuit shot cuz i’m not gonna be able to do it :)

Product Review: Tresemme Naturals Vibrantly Smooth Conditioner

Tresemme Naturals Vibrantly Smooth Conditioner w/ Coconut oil and Jojoba extract

Available in most drugstores

25 oz $4.00 – 6.00

I originally picked up this product for my daughter SK, who mercilessly slays bottles of conditioner and Kroger had a 2/$7 so I decided to try it.  Tresemme Naturals conditioners are silicone free, dye free, safe for color-treated hair and contain natural ingredients. I used the product twice, once as a conditioner after washing with Yes to Carrots shampoo and another time as a co-wash and it worked well both times.

5 Things I Liked About This Product:

1.  It’s silicone free.  You have to be careful with some drugstore products as they normally contain cones and I prefer not to use them.

2.  It’s priced just right and comes in a large size.

3.  It has a nice refreshing clean scent.

4.  It is light but has good slip for detangling.

5.  It contains coconut and jojoba oil which are both ingredients my hair loves!

While this was a good conditioner there are a few things I didn’t like.  The fragrance is listed very high on the list, though it is not strong or overpowering.  It contains alcohol and isopropyl alcohol which are both drying alcohols though it was NOT drying on my hair.  I would recommend this product to other naturals and suggest you give it a try.

Drugstore Conditioner Challenge: Yes to, Herbal Essence, VO5

We talk up a lot of specialty product lines but there are plenty of great products found in the drugstore.

For this challenge I compared Yes to Carrots (Target $7.99) against Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (Walgreens $3.99) and VO5 Moisture Milks Passion Fruit Smoothie (Kroger $1.05).

In preparing my hair for the fall and winter season I had used some shealoe whipped hair butter and was going on 2 weeks without a wash so I was in dire need of a good cleansing and conditioning.  After shampooing my hair, I divided it into 3 sections.

 

Section 1 YTC

Smell: Light scent sort of like baby powder.

Feel: This conditioner looks thin and runny, but it is has a whipped or gelatinous feel to it.

I applied a palm-full of conditioner and it distributed easily throughout the hair.  After massaging the conditioner into my tangled mane I twisted and clipped the hair up and allowed to sit for 10 minutes.   I then finger-combed the section, which was surprisingly easy.  With this conditioner a little goes a long way so there is no need to be heavy-handed.  It provides great slip and leaves the hair soft, moisturized and manageable.

 

Section 2 HH

Smell:  Deliciously tropical.

Feel: This conditioner was surprisingly thick.

I applied a palm-full of conditioner to the hair, but it was not enough to distribute through.  The conditioner was so thick I had to re-wet my hair and add another palm-full of conditioner.  As I massaged the conditioner into my hair it felt thick and coated.  Also the smell became too overpowering and started to give me a headache.  No me gusta.  After twisting and clipping the hair I let the conditioner sit for 10 minutes.  Finger-combing though this section was a bit more difficult as the shed hairs were sticking to my fingers and hands.  I had to re-wet the hair again to give it some slip as I detangled.

 

Section 3 VO5

Smell: Honestly it smells like a fruity mixed drink.

Feel: Light and a little runny.

I applied a palm-full of conditioner to the hair and it actually foamed.  What the… I have never had a conditioner do that before.  I now understand why this is a popular for co-washing.   I actually re-checked the bottle to make sure it was not shampoo.  I thought the conditioner was going to be too runny or watery but it was fine, very similar to my Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut.  I did not massage this conditioner in as I felt it would make it too sudsy so I just twisted and clipped the hair up and allowed it to sit for 10 minutes.  Finger-combed through the section, which was easy although my hair did not feel as soft as the other sections.

The Verdict: Yes to Carrots is still one of my favorite drugstore conditioners hands down.  Although other naturals love Herbal Essences Hello Hydration I did not care for it and would not repurchase.  The smell was overpowering and it was too thick yet not very moisturizing.  VO5 Moisture Milks Passion Fruit Smoothie might be the best co-wash conditioner!  This is definitely getting added to my HG though I will follow it up with a creamy conditioner for added moisture and softness.



Hair Care Products for Natural Hair

One of the most asked questions of those who are natural, “What products do you use on your hair?”

Let me first say that a product is not the answer, but rather a means to an end. What I mean is if you have tightly coiled hair, there is no product that will give you soft ringlets. Your hair is just your hair.  No product can be your everything, especially since most naturals have multiple textures.  Also depending on what hairstyle you are trying to achieve you will need different products to achieve different looks.

Here is a list of popular products, I am not endorsing products here although I have used many of them and they work well.

1. Cleanse: Popular shampoos include Herbal Essences, Tresseme Naturals, Garnier Fructis or value brands like VO5 and Suave Naturals.  There are specialty lines from Alaffia, Jane Carter Solution, Kinky Curly, Miss Jessie’s or Curls. There are natural products like African Black Soap, Apple Cider Vinegar or Baking Soda.  Lastly, there is also the no-poo or co-wash method in which conditioners are use to cleanse in place of shampoo.  Try a few out and use what you think is best for your hair. When I purchase shampoo I choose one that does not contain sulfates (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate or Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate). These are harsh chemicals known as surfactants that strip the hair or irritate the scalp.  Although shampoos that contain these ingredients also contain other ingredients to help combat these problems.  Remember shampoo is for the scalp and should be applied to your scalp using your fingertips not just slopped in your hair.  As the condition of your scalp changes (dry, itchy, oily, etc) you should adjust your shampoo accordingly.

2. Condition: Popular conditioners include Herbal Essences, Tresseme Naturals, Crème of Nature or value brands like VO5 and Suave Naturals.  There are specialty lines from Alaffia, Jane Carter Solution, Kinky Curly, Miss Jessie’s or Curls.  There are natural products like eggs, tea, henna, mayonnaise, coconut milk and yogurt.  Once again try a product to figure what is best for your hair. A good conditioner should soften, help moisturize and provide slip for detangling.  While shampoo is for the scalp, conditioner is for the hair.  Be mindful in applying conditioner directly to the scalp as many contain silicones or other ingredients that can cause buildup on the scalp.

3. Water: This is the best product you can ever use and it’s FREE! How awesome is that? I know years of relaxers and straight styles have lead you to believe that water is your enemy but nothing could be further than the truth. Water is the greatest moisturizer available.

4. Oil: Olive, Grapeseed, Coconut, Almond, Jojoba, Safflower, Moroccan (Argan), Shea. Okay so Shea is actually butter, but it serves the same purpose.  Most, if not all of these, products can be found on the shelves of your local super markets.  Oils are used to seal in moisture, soften the hair shaft, add shine, and combat scalp dryness.

5. Stylers: This is the front-line of the product war.  Products are used to combat frizziness, moisturize, add volume, slick back, provide hold, define curls or reduce shrinkage.  Specialty products include Kinky Curly Curling Custard, Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic, Curl Gel-les’c, Jane Carter Solution Curl Cream, and Darcy’s Botanicals Curly Jelly.  Other products such as Cantu Shea Butter, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Parnevu Leave-In Conditioner, Sta Sof Fro Curl Activator, IC Fantasia Gel and Eco Styler Gel can be found at your local  stores.  Natural products include flaxseed gel, vegetable glycerin, shea butter, and aloe vera gel.   Depending on your style you can find many of these products helpful.  When purchasing specialty products for the first time choose the sample or smallest size that way if you do not like it you are not stuck with a jar full of product.  If you do have left over unliked product opt to swap products with another natural.

This is a basic overview on products for natural hair.  For a more in depth info and recommendations check out my product reviews.

Product Review: Curls

Curls

www.curls.biz

@frizzfreeCURLS

http://www.facebook.com/FrizzFreeCurls

This is a wide-sweeping review of several products by haircare line Curls the labor of love by Mahisha Dellinger.  These products contain no paraben, sulfates, silicone, mineral oil, artificial coloring or animal by parts.

5 Things I Love About Curls:

1.  They have specific product lines for babies, kids and adults.

2.  This company regularly interacts with its customers on twitter, facebook and through email which shows their commitment to customer service.

3.  Curls is ALWAYS giving away free samples of their products whether it is with your order, to support a meet-up, for a review or just to try out.

4.  Their products smell delicious like frosting, juice, smoothies but are not overpowering.

5.  Curls has detailed instructions online for how to use their products and in what order.

Curlicious Cleansing Cream

8 oz /$15

This shampoo is unlike any other poo I have ever seen.  Is is creamy like a lotion and sud-free yet actually cleanses the hair without feeling dry or stripped.  I received a sample of this curl cream free with my purchase.  It will be added to my regimen on my next haul.

From their website: This creamy, sulfate free cleanser is gentle enough to use daily and is super moisturizing. Ideal cleanser for curly hair. Great  for chemically altered and color treated hair. Can use daily, if necessary.

Coconut Sublime Conditioner

14 oz/$16

This is probably the most popular product from this line.  This conditioner smells like a tropical coconut-lime beverage and leaves the hair feeling soft and moisturized.  It provides enough slip for detangling which is surprising considering it is a thick conditioner.  I took this condish with me to the Paul Mitchell salon when I went to get my hair cut (much to the dismay of those in charge) however all the stylist RAVED over how good it smelled and that it was a natural product. Great product for wash-n-go styles.

Curls Milkshake

8 oz/$18

A light hair lotion without hold that provides hydration and softens dry hair.  Perfect daily moisturizer for fine or thin hair but it also make a great leave-in for those with thick or coarse hair.  This is a moisturizer not a curl definer so do not count on it to make your curls “pop” as that is not what it is designed for.  I would say to use this in the same style you would old school pink lotion.  I also believe this is a great lotion for transitioners or those with TWA who are looking for daily moisturizer.

Cashmere Curls

8 oz/$20

This is the “new kid on the block”, a moisturizer and curl definer.  I received a free sample of this product from curls twitter giveaway.  While $20 for 8 ounces is kind of pricey you really only need a little bit of this product.  You can use the product alone but the company encourages you to mix it with their other products.  I found that mixing it with the curls milkshake gave me great results.  I applied the product to my hair and then did a few finger doodles to encourage small twirls and I really liked the results.

So here are the results of my Curls hairstyle.  I cleansed my hair with the Curlicious Cream, then conditioned with Coconut Sublime Conditioner, applied Cashmere Curls then scrunched in a little Curls Milkshake.  I used two hair combs on each side (total of four) to coax my hair into a faux-hawk then did a few finger-doodles around my head to create a few defined curls.