Monthly Archives: September 2014

Featured on The Kink and I

Hi loves,

Sorry for the lack of updates ūüė¶ I’ve been so busy with work lately! I will try to post later this week about my hair color and my obsession with henna. On Friday, The Kink and I was kind enough to feature me as the Hairspiration! You can check out the interview here. Thanks Ekene & Mee Mee!

Sincerely,

Miss Ije ‚̧

Wash Day Regimen

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to post about my hair regimen and I planned to post this sooner… sorry for the delay.

Before I tell you about my regimen, I will tell you a little bit about my hair. I am 100% Nigerian and my hair is extremely coarse, nappy, kinky, coily, and wiry in its natural state. If you follow the hair typing system, I would describe it as 4c with 50%-75% shrinkage. Both my mom and my sister have thin, fine, soft hair… but somehow, I ended up with the polar opposite. I have a full head of hair; my hair is thick, dense, and super dry. Whenever I go out, people (Nigerian guys especially) ask to touch my hair. Its softness surprises them, which is a good indicator that my moisturizing techniques/ products work well for my hair. Below are two old pictures that help give you a sense of my hair’s thickness and texture.

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Regardless of what stage of your natural hair journey you are in, you should develop a hair regimen that works for you and maintain it for a few weeks or months to assess your results. Like any good experiment, you must conduct multiple tests over time. When I first big chopped, I laid out a few simple hair rules and followed them religiously. For newly naturals who recently big-chopped and are feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret. Natural hair is really easy to manage if you keep things simple. Less is definitely more. As long as you understand a few basic concepts about how hair grows and what it takes to retain length, you will have long hair before you know it.

Tips for Newly Naturals

1. Carve out a few hours every 1-2 weeks to dedicate to “Wash Day.” For me, this day is usually a¬†Friday¬†evening after work and usually takes 2-4 hours from start to finish. Dedicating one day to do your hair helps eliminate unnecessary manipulation during the week and promotes consistency, which leads to results. I generally wash my hair every week, or every other week depending on my schedule.
2. Find products that work for your hair. I think every regimen should contain 6 essential products: a cleansing shampoo, a detangling conditioner, deep conditioner, liquid moisturizer/ leave-in, styling product, and an oil. It is okay to be a product junkie… the only way to determine what works for your hair is to try a bunch of products. Natural hair care is all about trial and error. And what works for one person may not work for you, which is why it is important to learn your own hair.
3. Only comb your hair on wash day with a wide tooth comb when it is wet/ saturated with conditioner. Combing hair dry leads to breakage. If you must detangle during the week, gently use your fingers. It is good to develop habits that keep your hands out of your hair as much as possible.
4. Always sleep with a satin bonnet, scarf or pillow case. This will help your hair retain moisturize and prevents friction which can break your hair.


My Natural Hair Care Routine

Being natural for four years has taught me the importance of not only maintaining a consistent regimen, but also adapting it periodically to account for change. Although my hair is at a decent length now, I probably could have retained more length if I adjusted my wash regimen sooner.

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PRE-POO
The night before wash day,  I unpin my twisted undo and finger-detangle each two strand twist using coconut oil from tip to root. I combine two smaller twists into one twist, so by the time I finish this process, I have a total of 8 large twists (4 on the right side, 4 on the left). It generally takes me about 1 hour to section off my hair and detangle. If your hair is still short, you can probably skip this step.

SHAMPOO
I only recently started washing my hair in sections last month, instead of piling my hair on top of my head and massaging my scalp. Because I used to wear my hair in box braids quite often, I never had to worry about this. However, I quickly realized that once your hair passes a certain length, washing your hair stretched and in sections is essential if you want to retain length. I shampoo my hair in the shower using a lower sulfate shampoo. Although sulfate shampoos strip moisture from your hair, I prefer shampoos with sulfates because I like my scalp to be squeaky clean. Since I have acne prone skin, I do not like product buildup or residue left from co-washing (“washing” hair with conditioner) lingering on my face. I use a quarter sized amount on each section and massage it through my scalp. I let the shampoo run through the entire length of the twist as I rinse and repeat for all 8 twists.

CONDITIONING
After shampooing, I step out of the shower to condition my hair. I unravel one twist, lather with conditioner, finger-detangle and re-twist. Because I also finger-detangle the night before, this step lets me catch any shed hairs I may have missed during the pre-poo. It is important to detangle your hair thoroughly and remove all shed hairs, so that they do not snag other hairs and cause tangles/ breakage. I repeat this process for all 8 twists, then rinse thoroughly in the shower.

DEEP CONDITIONING
I use either a moisture or protein based conditioner depending on my hair needs… sometimes I rotate weekly. I apply the deep conditioner to each twist and then sit under my Heutiful Hair Steamer for 20-40 minutes. In my opinion, this step is not necessary, however, I love the way it makes my hair feel… whether or not it actually makes a difference is questionable. Days when I do not feel like steaming my hair, I simply cover it with a shower cap and let it sit for an hour before rinsing.

STYLING
After rinsing the deep conditioner out, I proceed to style my hair. I start by blotting my hair with a t-shirt instead of a towel (there is definitely a difference. I didn’t believe it at first, but the t-shirt method does not snag my hair or create frizz). I use the L.O.C Method to moisturize my hair. If you’re not familiar with this method, there is a ton of information about it online, so I won’t describe it in detail. In summary, it stands for liquid or leave-in, oil, cream and helps to maximize moisture retention. First I apply my favorite leave-in to damp hair, then I apply coconut oil, and lastly, I apply my cream, which is usually a hair milk or butter. I split each of the 8 sections into 2 two strand twists so that I end up with a total of 16 twists. I also apply a dime sized amount of castor oil on the ends of each twist. I pin the twists into an up-do that protects the ends and repeat the entire process weekly. (This is part of my ‚ÄúNo Puff September Challenge‚ÄĚ)

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I’m hoping that this new regimen helps me minimize breakage on wash day while maximizing length retention during the week. If you are feeling discouraged or need help creating a regimen, feel free to email me at¬†ije.curltivate@gmail.com¬†and I’ll gladly help!

Happy growing!

Sincerely,
Miss Ije ‚̧

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Natural Hair Tag

211. Why did you start taking better care of your hair?
I started taking better care of my hair out of necessity. When you think about how much time and money women with afro-textured hair spend on styling their hair (which often times is damaged and unhealthy) the return on the investment does not make sense. I had my first chemical relaxer when I was five years old and over the years, my hair has faced so many challenges. I realized that in the long run, learning how to take care of your hair is more beneficial and sustainable. I would love to see more Black and African women gaining a sense of independence and self sufficiency when it comes to hair care.
2. What are your 2 favorite hair products?
My two favorite hair products are (1) Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner/ Detangler and (2) Tropic Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I have seen both of these products work wonders on so many different hair textures, so I highly recommend trying them.
3. Whose hair did you admire as a child?
I always loved long, straight hair… never had a hair crush.
4. What is your ultimate goal length?
Hmm, I’m not sure. I want¬†long hair, but I never set a target length… All of these acronyms, APL, BSL, waist length, floor length, to-the-moon-and-back length, etc. are overwhelming.¬†I recently learned about the¬†terminal length concept, the idea that everyone has a genetically predetermined growth rate which limits how much length they can attain before their hair sheds. Given that it is fairly difficult to determine terminal length, rather than setting an unrealistic and unattainable length goal, I am working towards retaining as much length as I can, given my constraints.
5. How are you going to celebrate when you reach your ultimate goal length?
Take a selfie? ūüôā
6. Two styles you want to try at your goal length?
Not sure.
7. Which do you prefer: Health or Length?
Definitely health, although the two complement each other. If health is your first priority, length will follow naturally.
8. Which do you prefer: hair ties with no metal parts or butterfly clips?
A combination of both! Both tools are great to keep hair away while detangling.
9. What products do you prefer: salon brands, organic brands, BSS brands, Drugstore brands, or other?
I prefer drugstore brands for many reasons.
  1. I am very frugal and do not like spending a lot of money on my hair. I usually opt for the cheaper drugstore shampoos/ conditioners so that I can splurge a little bit more on styling products that keep my hair well moisturized.
  2. I also have very sensitive skin, so my dermatologist recommended that I avoid products in their raw/ organic forms such as Shea butter/ extra virgin olive oil. Strangely, I’ve noticed that my hair also reacts better to products that are highly processed.
  3. There are way too many natural hair products these days. From multinational corporations to mom & pop brands online… to your refrigerator, there is way too much choice. I try not to feed into all of the commercialization and use whatever works for my hair… I think everyone should do the same.
10. Which product/technique do you think is over-rated?
The beer rinse, which “reverts” heat damaged hair. I have seen some ridiculous videos of people on YouTube performing this technique and have yet to see it perform the miracles that people claim.
11. Which product/technique do you think is under-rated?
Mini-twists, up-dos, and protective styles that do not require weaves, wigs or extensions. I think there are a lot of beautiful protective styles that we can achieve using our own natural hair.
12. What is your favorite part of your hair regimen?
My favorite part of my hair regimen is styling! I love letting my creativity flow and expressing my personality through my hair. My hair is definitely my best accessory.
13. What is the most annoying part of your hair regimen?
Detangling is frustrating at times, but there are a few things you can do to make the process more seamless.
14. Oils or Butters?
Generally, neither… although my hair has been reacting really well to Coconut Oil and Jamaican Black Castor Oil lately.
15. Buns or Ponytails?
Puffs!!
16. Wigs or Weaves?
Box braids!!
17. What is your opinion of growth aids?
I believe¬†that the most sustainable way to “grow” your hair is to master a technique that helps you retain maximum length. However, I will try Hairfinity for 30 days and will review my progress along the way, just for kicks.
18. At what length do you consider hair long?
Length is relative. All else equal, everyday my hair is longer than it was the day before. As long as I am retaining length, it’s long!
19. When is the last time you visited a salon?
My last salon visit was in April 2014 when I had my hair dyed. Before that, it was December 2013 when I had my hair straightened. Any other time I’ve been to the salon was to install braids/weave. I generally stay away from salons, except in those few circumstances when I needed it styled professionally. No one knows my hair better than me, so I prefer to do it myself.
20. What do you like to surf most often: YouTube channels, personal blogs, or hair forums?
At different points in my natural journey I have surfed all three. When I first went natural, YouTube was my primary source of information, but now I’m really interested in reading blogs.
21. And finally, what piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out on their hair journey?
Your hair journey is your journey and it is unique to you. You should use any information you see online¬†directionally, not as a be-all, end all. Unfortunately, studying natural hair is relatively new and based on trial and error. That said, don’t be afraid to try new products/ techniques and really take some time to learn your own hair! And don’t forget to share your knowledge with others along the way, so that we can continue improving hair growth within the natural hair community!
Tag! You’re it…
** thank you to Gugulethugraphy for the beautiful picture.
Sincerely,
Miss Ije ‚̧

No Puff September

Hi Loves,

Happy September! I cannot believe that summer is over and we are already three quarters into 2014! I recently decided that this month will be “No Puff September.” Four years into my natural hair journey and I think I finally hit the dreaded “natural hair plateau,” often referred to as “the shoulder-length plateau.” …that point in your hair journey when you reach a standstill and feel like you are no longer retaining length.

At all stages of my natural hair journey, I have worn afro puffs. They are definitely my favorite hairstyle because they are so simple yet¬†versatile. My routine after washing/ conditioning my hair is usually¬†a two strand twist out turned into some variation of a puff. I’ve tried high puffs, medium puffs, half puffs, side puffs, pompadours and puffs… all kinds of puffs.
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I generally do not measure my hair from month to month, or year to year, but I realized that it is finally time for me to part with this hairstyle if I want to continue to reach my natural hair goals (which I will speak about in a later post). While I think puffs are a great style for all naturals, they should be worn with caution due to the following reasons:

The Headache from Hell

If you double/ triple your headbands around your head so that they are extremely tight and hold your hair in place, chances are, after a few hours you will probably develop some discomfort or a headache due to the strain it causes to your scalp. Sadly I am guilty of enduring pain for hours just to achieve a certain sleek style. To avoid this issue, you can use loosely tied scarves instead of elastic bands.

Tension on Edges

The length of your hair partially determines the position where your headband rests. If you have shorter hair, the headband will most likely sit around your temples or closer to your forehead. If you have longer hair, you have more freedom to wear the headband further from your forehead which alleviates the pressure felt on your head. A few months into my natural hair journey I was so eager to wear puffs. But because my hair was pretty short, I wore my headbands right behind my ears. I quickly noticed that this caused bald spots and breakage on the right/ left sides of my temples due to too much pressure on the same location, so I definitely recommend switching up the location of your puffs and wearing them occasionally if you must.

Hand in Hair Syndrome/ Tangles

If you are like me and sit at a desk all day, you will probably find yourself randomly playing in your hair. Since the tips are the oldest, weakest parts along the hair shaft, constantly touching them can cause breakage. And when you wear your hair freely in styles that permit the hair strands to coil around each other, you will encounter a mass of tangles/ single strand knots on wash day. Instead of wearing puffs every day, wearing your hair in two strand twists during the week and freely the last few days before wash day can help minimize these issues.

These are some of the challenges I have faced lately with afro puffs, so I am going to see if I can survive a month without them. Though this information is not new, sometimes you need a friendly reminder to break bad habits. If you have any tips for how to balance wearing puffs, leave them below!

Happy growing!

Sincerely,

Miss Ije ‚̧

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