Kinky to Straight and Back

Two Sundays ago, I straightened my hair. Just like that, because I felt like it.

I had 8AM mass so I woke up at 5:30 to handle my bidness. It was already raining before I started at 6am, yet- like the stubborn grasshopper that I am, I committed to two hours of straightening, knowing that the slightest rain would most definitely revert all my hardwork. Commonsense eludes me sometimes.

So. The day before, I decided that Sunday would be the day I brought out my flat iron. I washed and deep conditioned my hair properly on Saturday, moisturised and sealed before chunky twisting my hair. I used the Carol’s Daughter Chocolat Blow Dry Cream as my heat protectant, and the instructions say to apply to damp hair. Later at night, I undid the chunky twists, put in the Blow Dry Cream and retwisted.

Safely straightening natural hair is one of the things I research every now and then. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen like 20 videos on the subject and read soooo many blog posts. Every girl has her own method, and because of the fear of heat damage, some straightening regimens I’ve seen can make you a little weak. Having applied my heat protectant on Saturday, all I did on Sunday morning was straighten. I didn’t blow dry first, I simply used a flat iron on still damp hair, that’s all.

Beloveds, I went to church late, and the two hours spent on my hair were not enough. The second hour was quite rushed.

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Heat… Heat… Heat Damage

Sigh.

Sigh.

I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to say this.

Okay. Remember that time I spontaneously straightened my hair? Well, yup. My beautiful coils got heat damaged.

How did I determine it was heat damage?

1. Smell.

By the morning after I straightened my hair, I could smell the burn. It smelled like someone had lit my hair on fire and it absolutely irritated me, the smell. When I finally decided to wet my hair in the shower, and the smell lingered on, I knew that I was screwed. Sigh.

2. Loss of coil elasticity.

The beauty of natural hair is how versatile it is. Shrinkage has to be the 8th wonder of the world. Usually, when straightened natural hair is wet, it ought to go back to its natural curl pattern. In addition, when the hair is pulled at by fingers, it ought to spring back and curl back in. Granted, my hair, after washing, was shrunken, however there were visible straight tips. Also, when I pulled at any part of the hair, it became straight and would refuse to spring back. Sigh.

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3. Loose curl pattern.

For me, this was the third indication. I twisted my hair one night in preparation for a twist out and my hair felt too fine and thin. I am not thick-haired, but the thinness that I felt was definitely strange. That was when I studied my coils in the mirror and yup, most of my coils were really loose. Sigh.

What to do? What to do?

I decided that I was going to restart the Maximum Hydration Method. Basically, the changes that follow heat damage all point to one thing – moisture.

Different people have tried different things that have worked in helping to deal with heat damage. Here a few examples:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse.

Well, clarify. That’s the purpose of the rinse. Usually, when your hair is straight, more products go in and there is high build up by the time you are ready to revert to curly/coily hair. So cleansing and clarifying hair properly is highly necessary. However, in nurturing your hair back to life, it is advisable to do the ACV rinse every so often (say, weekly).

2. Protein Treatments.

One baggage that heat damage comes with is weak hair that tends to split a lot at the ends. I actually noticed that when my hair was straight and I combed through, there were broken strands of hair on the comb and the table as well. Ugh. A store-bought protein treatment (e.g Aphogee 2-minute reconstructor) or a DIY treatment will suffice. But be careful! Don’t overdo it with the protein now.

3. Deep Condition.

Ah yes. Deep condition! Deep condition!! Deep condition!!! Choose your favourite highly moisturising deep conditioner and use it regularly and freely.

4. Hot Oil Treatment.

The point of most of these is to retain as much moisture as you can. Your hair has been robbed of its natural oils and is basically dead. So you will need to overcompensate for a while until it gets back to being independent. Hot oil treatments help. I will also add that you try oil rinsing with your frequent washes.

6. Allow hair to be slightly damp more often.

You know how sometimes we like to do our favourite styles on dry hair? Yeah, you can’t anymore. At least not yet. Have a spritz bottle handy with a water/conditioner or water/oil mix handy to spritz your ends with. In the state of damage, they get dry really easily and this will help to train your hair to be more accepting of moisture.

7. Cut/Trim.

Shiver. They say this is the last resort. If all fails, you gon need to go to the scissors (or even the clipper! *screaaammm*). If your damage is horrendous, you will need a lot of patience. However, as  you treat your hair delicately, you will need to imitate a transitioner. What this means is that you will need to trim off the ends regularly until all of your hair is back to being the hair that you once knew. Sometimes, people take the plunge and do the big chop. I. Will. Not. Be. Doing. This. No no no. I mean I only have one year of growth but please, it is never that serious. I shall nurse this hair back to life.

How can you prevent heat damage?

1. Don’t do it too much!

Usually, heat damage affects naturals that abuse the straightening iron. However, as in my case, even doing it once without proper safeguards can destroy your hair. The number of passes the iron makes through your hair should not be multiple. Two passes, and move on please. I didn’t count mine, but I bet she made more than 5 passes. When you start to see and/or smell those fumes coming from your hair then you should be afraid and stop what you’re doing.

2. Heat protect

Always, always, always use a heat protectant serum with any form of heat, especially a flat iron. I have no idea what was used on my hair (which was a very stupid thing to do. Do not be like me.). I advice that if you will be going to the salon, take your product with you or at least trust what the salon has before proceeding. There are more and more straightening kits in the market now and while I am not sure about the post-straightening services that they offer, at least they have heat protectants that help prevent damage.

3. Healthy pre-straightening practices

This is just as important as using a heat protectant. Make sure your hair is clean and deep conditioned before the blow-drying portion of the straightening process.

Because of the weather and because I was overwhelmed by what was happening to my hair, I am now currently caring for my hair in Marley twists. I shall let you know how that goes when I take down to assess progress.

So, yes, I was stupid and I’m paying the price. Thankfully, heat damage is not irreversible. On a similar note, I came across the idea of heat training. Apparently, it is applying heat regularly to cause hair curl pattern to become looser. The idea is to have healthy hair but loose curls and texture. It has been argued that heat training is not heat damage as it does not come with the dryness and brittleness of heat damaged hair. What are your thoughts on this? Have you had heat damage? How did you rescue the situation

Remember, we’re having a Big Fat Giveaway because we love you guys! 11 days left to enter, so do it!

Be smart with your choices this week.

– Mee Mee

❤ 

Stretch Your Curls Heatlessly With African Threading

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Isi owu in Igbo, Irun kiko in Yoruba, or African Threading in Youtube/Natural hair community speak, is a great way to stretch your hair, and no it isn’t supposed to hurt. Note that you are stretching the hair you can see, NOT the one in your follicles. It also makes for beautiful styles, see my home girl Chimamanda Adichie here and Kemi Lewis here– but today, we’re talking about using it simply to stretch.

I tried this once in January, but my hair wasn’t dry when I loosened the thread, and so the results weren’t any different from loose chunky twists. I decided to try it again two or three weeks ago, and I gave my hair enough time to dry. My lovely roommate F threads for me. I’m so lame at these things, my days, but I’ll learn to thread properly soon! 🙂

Preparation:

I detangled my hair during my wash, put leave-in conditioner in when it was damp & seal with a little oil. F combs each section before she threads it, but there is little hair on the comb when she’s done. (You can thread on dry hair too)

HOW-TO:

For threading instructions, see these tutorials below by GirlsLoveYourCurls.

Between us, we haven’t figured out how to wrap my kinky-coily ends, so we just let them stick out at the bottom. So far, this isn’t a big problem.

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On the weekend I took these photos, I had my hair like this from Saturday night till early Monday morning when I loosened, to try to style my hair for work and I was pleased with the results.

At first glance, it looked like I had freeform locs 🙂

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I proceeded to comb my fake locs out with great ease. Hair was soft, super moisturised, flexible, easy to run through, shiny, and stretched!

DSC08687Somebody say stretched again? I’m definitely a convert to this heatless stretching movement!

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WHY THREADING IS MY NEW JAM

  1. Tension Blow Drying is safe and gentle but LONG. It makes my arms hurt.
  2. Hair is made of protein and heat depletes protein. We all know that the less heat hair is exposed to, the better. I do have heat protectant, but I feel more comfortable knowing I can stretch my hair properly without heat.
  3. By the time my hair is dry, I get a much better stretch than I do with chunky twists.
  4. I live in Nigeria, and our power situation is not the best. I’m a corper and I don’t always have fuel in the generator. 😦 #EnoughSaid
  5. Lately, I’ve been working with dry, very stretched hair and I quite like this. Reasons 1-3 considered, threading comes out number 1 for best results of a stretch. Heatless like chunky twists, but with better results.

Do you thread? What’s your favourite way to stretch? And slightly unrelated, how long does it take your hair to dry after moisturising and sealing?

Love,

AB,

Xx