Day 4: The ABCs of Creating Your Regimen!

silver

Hello lovelies, AB and Tolu here!

You are reading the 4th post in the ‘Going Back To Natural’ series. If you missed anything, you could catch up here. 🙂

One very important thing we’ve learnt on our hair journeys and we are pretty sure you’ll soon agree with is: It’s not about what you’re using, but what you are doing. Products are great and fun but the hair you want- that soft, manageable, ball of kinky candy floss is not in a bottle. It’s in the way you care for it, the healthy hair habits you adopt.

A healthy body is really the foundation for healthy hair, but as far as healthy hair habits go today, we’ll be looking at things directly related to your hair care, i.e. the good old regimen that natural girls are always talking about, and how to make one work for you.

If you still remember, Your Hair = Protein + Water + trace elements. Protein gives your hair its strength and structure, Water gives it elasticity. Healthy hair is all about maintaining a Moisture-Protein balance.

There are some basics that every natural’s regimen must accommodate. However, different strokes go for different folks. So it’s up to you to figure out how frequently these things will feature in your regimen.

  1. Moisturise & Seal
  2. Clarify
  3. Condition
  4. Deep Condition

MOISTURISE & SEAL

Your hair needs moisture.

Moisture = water*. Moisturise = to put water in.

If your hair isn’t well moisturised, it is dry and inelastic. As a result, it is brittle (that is, highly prone to breakage) and hard to comb. You need to moisturise your hair as often as necessary.

You can moisturize your hair with: Plain water or some people prefer to use natural Aloe Vera. You could also use a water-based moisturising cream or leave-in conditioner, or an aloe vera based leave-in. (more about products tomorrow)

It’s also important for your hair and skin that you drink lots of water!

AB: When I started my hair journey, I needed to use a leave-in conditioner every day. Now, I don’t. I use a leave-in every 3 days, and spraying my hair with water is fine for every other day.

As you must know, water evaporates when left exposed. This is where sealing comes in.

Sealing is the process of coating the hair to create some kind of barrier, to prevent moisture loss by evaporation. You can seal your hair with an oil e.g. Olive oil, coconut oil or a butter (shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado butter etc)

If you do more sealing than your hair requires, your hair will be greasy and you won’t like that. Also, the barrier created may be too thick, and this would make re-moisturising a little difficult.

How you moisturize & seal may depend on something very important, your hair porosity. Remember when I said hair is layered? Hair has three layers- the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla. The cuticle is the outermost layer of hair. To work, most products need to get into your cortex, and they can only do this by getting past the cuticle.

Some people’s cuticles are very tight and difficult to get through.

Some people’s cuticles are very easy to get through, so easy they’re like a sponge, soaking in the moisture. However, because they are so sponge-y, they also lose moisture really quickly.

Some people’s cuticles have a sense of balance. They absorb moisture well and do really good at retaining it too.

From the three different scenarios I have described, are you beginning to see how we can’t all use the same products? And how your regimen has to be unique to you?

For more about porosity (how to find your porosity, and suggestions as to how to moisturize & seal for your porosity), when you’re ready, you could go read this post I wrote here.

Try not to over-do it though, there is such a thing as over-moisturising! Remember people, the mantra is balance, balance, balance! *lotus position*

CLARIFY

When you use products on your hair, little bits are deposited on your scalp and along hair shaft. You need to clarify to remove all the build-up from your product usage. There are quite a few ways to clarify, the most common being shampooing. This is necessary because build-up clogs up the pores of your hair so that moisture is not easily possible.

Clarifying shouldn’t be done too often as most clarifiers strip the hair of its natural oils and may also leave your hair and scalp really dry.

CONDITION

This, you are no stranger to. After every wash with shampoo, you use a conditioner (I hope!)

Because clarifying is such a thorough process, our hair tends to feel very dry afterwards. This is because it has usually been stripped of its natural oils and moisture. Instant or rinse-out conditioners help fix this by trying to replenish our hair. They are designed to provide a quick fix, to moisturise hair and smoothen the cuticles. However, once they are rinsed off, their yummy ingredients really are washed away, so you still need to moisturise & seal.

So, you may condition after a shampoo, OR you may skip the shampoo and simply condition. This is what is meant by the term Co-washing (yep, Conditioner Washing. Ohhhh)

The reasoning behind co-washing is simply this: Clarifying products like shampoos are great at cleaning. But your hair may not need that kind of intense rub-down on the regular.

I say “may” because again, this depends on you and your situation. Your hair may appreciate co-washing more than the usual shampoo + condition, but then again, it may not. So you try and you see if it works.

If your hair isn’t really dirty, conditioner may be enough for you on most days. But please be sure to clarify when your hair needs it, or say, as a preventive measure, once a month! Product build-up is not pretty!

DEEP CONDITION

Deep conditioning is a very critical part of a hair regimen. Deep conditioning helps to strengthen and improve the elasticity of your hair preventing breakage. It also leaves your hair softer and shinier.

Because Hair = Protein + Water, deep conditioning may be classified under two umbrellas: Protein Deep-conditioning and Moisturising Deep-conditioning.

Your hair may need a protein DC or a moisturising DC or both, depending on your porosity, and what your hair needs at the time. Remember, protein strengthens and moisture improves elasticity.

You can deep-condition with a commercial hair product, or make your own deep-conditioner in your kitchen, or bathroom. For more about Deep-conditioning and for some quick homemade DC recipes, you can read this post, here.

If you’re using a deep conditioner that you bought, please follow the instructions!!

To reap the maximum benefits of your efforts to deep condition, please DC on clean, product-free hair, after a wash. You can DC after a co-wash. And if you just clarified your hair with a shampoo, for instance, you don’t need to use a conditioner before you deep condition. You can just go straight to your DC.

We trust that you’ll soon find your rhythm and make up the perfect regimen, but just in case you still want a starting point, let’s see how this works for you:

  1. Daily- Moisturise & Seal
  2. Co-wash once or twice a week
  3. Clarify once a month or every two weeks
  4. Deep condition once a week
  5. BE CONSISTENT!

Simple enough, I hope? If you have any questions, please sound off in the comments! And we’ll be discussing products in the next post!

Love,

AB and Tolu!

xx

Day 3- Destination: Natural. How Do I Get There?

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Ijeoma of Klassy-Kinks.com!

Hello lovely!

Welcome to ‘Going Back To Natural’, Day 3.

On Day 1, we looked at what hair is, why our African hair is kinky and how relaxers work.

Day 2, I shared my fears about going natural. If you’re just joining us, you can catch up here. 🙂

Now, let’s talk about what happens when you’re ready to face these fears. How do you cross over to experience the kinky curly goodness this girl won’t just shut up about? Here’s how:

1. TRANSITIONING

You grow out your natural hair. You just decide to stop relaxing your hair and let your kinky hair grow. Gradually, you can chop your relaxed ends off. You can transition for as long as you want, from a few months to 2, 3 years. The idea is to ease you into it, to get you to a length you’re comfortable with. If you feel ready after a month, 6 months or a year, you can chop off all your relaxed ends.

It is also possible to transition to healthy natural hair from hair that’s not relaxed. How? Unrelaxed hair that is heat damaged cannot go back to the way it was before. It’s damaged. No, your hair hasn’t just become “softer” or “looser”. If this is you, you’re also a transitioner, going back to healthy natural curls and coils.

IMG-20130905-WA0005

Transitioning can be a little frustrating because you’re dealing with two different textures- your new kinky growth and your relaxed texture. You may be tempted to straighten it with a flat iron to blend in, but give into this temptation one too many times and your new growth will be heat damaged. Yes, damaged as in, you can NEVER go back to your natural curl pattern so that’s back to square one. So please don’t do it, and if you must, don’t over do it. Thank you.

Do you know the demarcation line?

The demarcation line is a fancy name for the point in your hair where your kinky meets the straight. By now, you’re probably wondering who comes up with this terminology, haha.

spot the demarcation points! [Source]

spot the demarcation points! [Source]

Hmm. Now that I’ve written this, I wonder why it’s called a line. Anyway, regardless of what its called- a line or a point, whatever you like, please note that it is a very fragile potential breaking point so you have to start being careful about your hair,

Transitioning is a good time for you to warm up.

You aren’t just going towards natural hair, I want you to want HEALTHY hair. Where hair is concerned- natural or relaxed, I want health to be the first thing on your mind, the most important factor. So the moment you decide to transition, your healthy hair journey has started. You should start giving your hair good attention, gently nourishing it and only exposing it to products that actually care for its well being. Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at creating your very own hair care regimen and later, how to choose products. 🙂

I started deep conditioning religiously after months of being natural and my hair is SO much better for this. I noticed the improvement after 4-6 weeks! If I’d started this when I was transitioning, my hair would have been much easier to manage in my 8 month transitioning period, and my journey could have been easier post BC.

There will be times that you just want to relax the hair and start over another time- stay strong, ignore it, carry on as you normally would, with protective styling. Do not! I repeat, do not have any relaxers in your possession!

A protective style is simply a hairstyle that prevents you from manipulating or dealing with your hair. You are no stranger to protective styling- you can do this with or without extensions, but for transitioning hair, you’re most likely going to prefer styling with extensions.

Kinky twists got me through my transitioning period. The texture of the braiding hair is similar to naturally kinky hair so it’s just a joy to wear. You can switch it up- short, thinner kinky twists, thicker Marley twists and the gorgeous chunka chunky Havana Twists!

Fixing weaves work too (but please be careful to protect your hairline). If you’re like me and you detest full closures, you may want to start using curly or kinky weaves for your U-parts or centre part weaves. This is because, with straight weaves, you are going to be obsessed with pressing your hair with a flat iron regularly, to maintain that sleek look. This may result in heat damage and you know why we don’t want that now, don’t you?

Ifeyinwa of Love, Ifeyinwa. See how the weave blends with her hair? More about these extensions here.

Ifeyinwa of Love, Ifeyinwa. See how the weave blends with her hair? More about these extensions here.

Better still, buy a wig or make your own! If you don’t want to make your own wig, here’s another interesting way to get the look- click!

Even now, when my hair annoys me, I just put it out of sight in a protective style. This is not to say I neglect it oh, I still care for it (like this).

And there are also styles you could do with your own hair to blend in both textures like roller sets (good old salon wash and set), bantu knots and bantu knot-outs.

Try your best to remain positive, and be patient! It’s a process!

2. THE BIG CHOP!

You cut your relaxed hair off. This may be a spontaneous decision, with you starting with no hair at all or maybe an inch or two. OR

Ms. Zaynab Balogun :)

the lovely Ms. Zainab Balogun 🙂

In the alternative, after transitioning for a while, the process of cutting your relaxed ends off, leaving you with some inches of kinky hair is also big chopping 🙂

Simply put, the Big Chop is just that moment when you let go of the last relaxed parts of your hair. *sniff* R.I.P.

Bye-bye boring straight ends, hello teeny weeny afro!

Here’s Sisi Yemmie’s big chop video, it may inspire you 😉

The bright side of chopping it all off is that you get to enjoy all the stages of your hair’s growth. Sometimes I wish I had chopped it all off and started from scratch (too bad transitioning me wasn’t as confident, but yes, it’s a process 🙂 ) You may enjoy having no hair so much, you could leave it like this for a while. Also, you don’t have to deal with the highs and lows of transitioning.

Will you be a long-term transitioner or a short-term transitioner or will you be a straight big chopper? Whatever you decide, just do you! Your hair is yours. You have to take your journey on YOUR own terms. Don’t make yourself, or let anyone make you feel uncomfortable. If you want to transition for 2 years, do it!

Love,

AB

xx

GOING BACK TO NATURAL

Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

So you want to go natural? Someone said: We don’t go natural, we return. Hm. Sit on that for a second.

Next week on the blog, we are paying special attention to the transitioners, the newbies and the curious- everyone who is considering reclaiming her kinks or has just recently made the decision. If someone close to you is considering going natural, this is for you too 🙂

This focus is inspired by my lovely friends! My best friend, Marilyn, did her Big Chop last week. Iby and Deli are supposed to be transitioning. Anu is still contemplating. Lu cut her hair a few months ago after transitioning for a bit and despite a few threats to go back to a relaxer, she is now coming to terms with her kinky glory. F and Dilys were spontaneous big choppers. My cousin Chidera big chopped a few months ago. Dilys the only originally hair conscious one of the lot, said bye bye to her nice relaxed hair and is presently enjoying rocking a fade and not combing her hair. ^_^

I love my coils and from this blog, you can tell how much I am enjoying my journey with them! 😀 But away from the blog, except I’m asked- or there’s any ignorance that I just have to clear up, I do not crusade or try to convert people to come to the kinky-curly side. I encourage moms to leave their kids hair alone but grown ass people? No. Trust me! The grass is so lush on this side lol but really though- why don’t I?

Simply because, I chose to stop relaxing my hair. I. Me. Myself. Nobody I know personally told me. I wanted healthier hair, I was also going through certain things in my evolution as a person and so at some point I got curious, then eventually I became possessed with the idea. I got hair conscious and for the first time wondered about how relaxers work. I came to the conclusion that my hair would thank me for ditching relaxers (it was a no-brainer really) and it is with great certainty that I say this- I’m never going back! Even with this understanding, it took me almost two years (And a previous transitioning attempt) to finally begin the transitioning that led to my Big chop! So, this is a deeply personal thing to me and I suppose it’s the same for very many others. If you decide to reclaim your kinks (that is, begin a healthy natural hair journey) with the right frame of mind and armed with (the desire for) knowledge, I can bet on it- like the odds are so good- I can bet that you won’t be going back to a relaxer!

I know it can be a little scary. You may have only vague memories of your childhood afro- most of them being painful memories of how your mom couldn’t comb your hair, or how getting your hair done was the worst thing ever! This time, it’s not going to be like that. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try really hard to enlighten, encourage and with a little help, inspire. To make the decision process a little easier for you- shed some light on the unknown, make sure you know you’re not alone. Hopefully, this could bring you over to the kinky-curly side help you make an informed decision, support you in feeling more confident about caring for your hair in its natural state.

So at noon every day of next week starting Monday, this is the focus! We are going to be looking at a few basics, what to expect, and if there’s anything in particular you want addressed, just sound off in the comments, okay?

When I started writing this series, I realised that to say everything possibly worth saying would take WAY more than a full week of blog posts and this would be too much information, trust me. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed at this beginning, so I’ve tried to keep things really simple. For me, the hair journey is similar to my experience in secondary school learning math or French or Yoruba. There are certain basics and fundamentals, and they’re just reinforced overtime, with a different level of understanding.

It’s a journey, there’s so much to learn (not too much for you, I promise) and learning has never been so fun! For this series, I’m collaborating with my friend Tolu and we hope this is a simple and easy to understand beginner’s guide. Feel free to dig deeper into the blog for more hair gist.

Just so you don’t forget, you can subscribe to receive posts by email as soon as they’re published- or follow me on Bloglovin’! Bloglovin’ is an amazing app really, if you’re someone like me that stalks so many different blogs and wants to keep up with everything at once.

So. What do you want to know next week? What are your fears, worries, concerns? Let me know in the comments!

I’m always an email away thekinkandi@gmail.com

Love,

AB

x

GOING NATURAL: STEP 1.

THE FIRST STEP

When you make that decision to not have relaxed hair anymore, here’s what you do:

You choose to do one of two things:

1. Chop off all your hair.

2. Stop applying relaxer to your hair, and grow out your natural hair. You don’t relax any fresh growth, let your hair kink, from the roots up.

2A. when your kinky hair reaches a height you are comfortable with, you chop your relaxed ends off. OR

2B. You don’t chop, you let everything, every straight strand go back to being kinky.

Option number 2 and its babies pretty much explain the period of limbo that is transitioning. It is the period between the day you get your last relaxer treatment, and the day your hair is relaxer free, back to it’s original natural state.

Chopping all your hair off, is a scary proposition to most girls. It was, to me. This is understandable because it’s a dramatic change in the way you look.

Transitioning on the other hand, is not beans. It is a lot of work, having to manage two different textures; one is curly, the other straight/frizzy. On the same strand. Throughout your head. Not only is this not very pretty, it’s not a very healthy time for your hair. The point where curly meets straight/frizzy is very fragile, so having to comb or brush your hair on the daily would leave you with a lot of breakage. For this reason, when you’re transitioning, you go from one protective style to the other, keeping your strands out of your direct reach.

I chose to transition because I was really worried about how I’d look if I cut my hair. One post alone could be dedicated to every thought, every worry that ran through my mind, some of them, very very ridiculous. I finally chopped off my relaxed ends, after eight months of transitioning. Whew!

HOW I TRANSITIONED

I already gave an update about the first three months in my January post here. In the latter five months, I wore a fringe (weave)- then I had box braids- then I did Kinky twists.

I was quite the lazy transitioner. Transitioning is not just about protective styling. You should give your hair some good TLC between styles, and try to seal-in moisture on the daily.

A Warning About Kinky Twists!!!

I love kinky twists. It’s great for African hair relaxed or unrelaxed. The texture of the extensions is rough, so it blends right in with the kinky roots. Kinky twists is a very easy style to wear, because it requires no care at all [just a wash when necessary], and it looks even better with time. This time, I wore my twists for TEN weeks. TEN. I’d just put shea butter on my stray ends, and brush the front in the mornings. This was very very bad behaviour because there was a lot of pressure on the hair in front, around the hairline, and I lost a lot of hair. 😦

I’ve been using ApHogee’s Weekly 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor, and I think it’s working, but you would not need any treatment if you do not put unnecessary pressure on your hair, that’s not being protective of it at all!

OKAY, YOU’VE BEEN TRANSITIONING. HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE READY TO CHOP?

I’d say that, the point where the stress or frustration gets to you, would be the perfect time for you to chop. You know, when your hair is yelling at you like “Look. Make up your mind now. You either have to cut me or relax me.” A wise somebody once said- your natural hair is like a plant; when you’re transitioning, the kink wants to grow, but your relaxed ends will weigh it down. The earlier you chop, the better it is for you and your hair. Save yourself the stress. Take the first step and start your journey already! When I washed my hair after my kinky twists, I knew I had come to that point. It was so horrible. I knew it had to go.

MY CHOP

After my visit to the salon, I asked myself “How do you feel?” The only word that came to mind was “calm.” Yes, calm. All my worries, everything seemed to have been swept away with the dull, dead, straight/frizzy hair on the floor. I looked at my face like yes. This is me.  All my hours of self-conscious worrying, in that moment, seemed inconsequential. I’m still getting used to this though.

IT IS A SPECIAL JOURNEY

I like to refer to this going natural thing as a journey, because it is. I have had straightened hair for as long as I can remember. Nobody I know personally, is wearing their natural hair. Thankfully, I am not lost- the Natural hair community on the internet, is a very warm, open one. Plenty of information, so so much information. Blogs, v-logs, it is so amazing. There is a lot of research to be done, a lot to learn, but I am fully aware that I have to be in tune with my hair. Observe it, watch how it responds to this or that, figure out what it likes, what it does not like. Sounds like a lot of work, yes, but I’m looking forward to it.

This is beyond curly strands for me. I’m not one of those girls that would rather not come out of their houses without weaves sewn in. It was important to me that my relaxed hair was healthy, and I was much more comfortable with wearing my own hair, than I was with rocking a weave. However, when I thought about chopping, I felt like the girls in group A. I thought- Lord, I’m going to be ugly without my hair. Every single imperfection, real and imagined, I dwelt on.

I worried about my forehead. Though the truth is that, a bonafide opon will always shine through, no matter how you try to cover it, so you might as well get used to it. I told myself I had to be like a size 6 before I could cut my hair. You know? In the absence of bootay like Amber Rose, I might very well go for looking skinny, like a model. I said this in October, last year. Now I have cut the hair, and I still weigh as much as I did in October. Looking glamorous is nice, good fun, I like to play as much as the next girl. But it’s also important to me that at the end of the night, or when I wake up in the morning, I love the way I look, without anything extra. Technically, my own hair isn’t extra, but I mean- if having to not have long hair for a bit made me look like a troll in my mind’s eye, I knew I had to let it go.

I transitioned because I was scared, and now that I’ve finally cut, I feel awesome. I might even cut all of it off, soon.

Whatever your hair is to you, just do you. It is your hair, on your head. The way you choose to wear your hair, or take care of it, should depend on how YOU feel. People will ask annoying questions, and maybe pass comments that will prick. But they’re not you. They do not understand why you’re doing it, so they are hindered from being able to appreciate it. This is only for a while though- change isn’t easy to adjust to, but soon enough, you will be let be.

It has taken me like two weeks to put this together. I really want my writing mojo back. 😦

I hope it made a little sense.

Anything you’d like to ask, or share? Sound off in the comments, x.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Happy New Year everyone! Its the 17th already, I know, but I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had the time to put up anything. I hope everyone’s well, and keeping to their new year resolutions, if you made any.

Well, I don’t believe in waiting till January 1 to make any changes, I try to make changes as soon as I deem them necessary. I do have a good feeling about 2012 though, and there are a few memorable things that are going to happen this year. It is the year I graduate from uni and move a little further into the real world, it is the year I turn twenty x_x, and it is also the year of my big chop!

I’ve been considering going natural for about two years, and at first, when I thought about committing myself, actually taking the bold step, I’d think to myself- what if I’m ugly? What if it doesn’t fit me? Well its been a long time, and I have come to the conclusion that I’m going to do this anyway. I am going to nurture my hair in its natural state, rock my stubborn strands as they were created to be. And it will be good, it will be beautiful. Its been about fourteen or fifteen weeks since my last relaxer treatment, and by June or October this year, I should be ready to chop off my relaxed bits, and really start my nappy hair journey.

Or should I say, continue? I’m already on it, and its going to be a fairly significant change. Transitioning is not beans, mayne. I have hard hair. I’ve felt so frustrated between hair-dos, so much that I just want to slather my hair with relaxer and forget about this. I know I’m going to love having a natural mop. But I’ve been taking pictures of my hair over the past few weeks to document the process, and you know, just in case I miss it.

The Order: My hair on 16th November 2011 (more than a month after my last relaxer treatment) – My hair two days ago, after I took out my kinky twists- My hair yesterday.

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I put my hair under a weave today- I’m rocking a fringe now. I have a lot of new growth, so its best my hair is covered, until I chop. The contrast between the treated/natural textures, is not pretty!

 

Love and Happiness,

Future Naturalista

x