My [Scary] Salon Visit & Trim

I went to my old stylist recently and it was quite an experience. I love her dearly, and I would probably go to her more often if I hadn't moved 300 miles away from her. So now, I only go when I'm in town. The last time I saw her was back in October, which is also the last time I had my ends trimmed. My hair has changed a whole lot since then and, unfortunately, I didn't think to prepare her for the beast that is my texlaxed hair. First Mistake!

I washed my hair, applied my deep conditioners and detangled some before arriving. This had become typical for me to do when going to her on days I needed to save some time so she's used to it. In my mind, she would only have to rinse and style my hair, however, this is not how the appointment went. Things were going fine until she decided she was going to rake a not-even-medium-tooth sized comb through my hair from root-to-tip. My hair abrubtly let her know that that was never a good idea. Commence my major freak out moment in my mind. She tried to detangle it a few different ways before she started asking me what products I had used and decided to start all over. Yes, she washed my hair all over again.

My heart sank. Even though her terrible detangling session didn't last very long, I was positive it wreaked havoc on my hair. Like, I thought I had no more hair (can you tell I'm a little bit dramatic at times?). From that point on, I was on edge. She was really going in on how whatever product I used must have stripped my hair and that's why it was so hard to detangle. She used a KeraCare deep conditioner and had me sit under the dryer for awhile with it. I don't remember which one it was though. Why you ask? Because I couldn't get over her tryna pull that comb from root-to-tip thru my hair! After she rinsed, I sat under the dryer trying to assess the damage and figure out how much hair I had left lol! I was texting my sister FREAKING all the way OUT! While I'm sure she was laughing out loud at me, she did her best to calm my fears. She also uses and loves this stylist.

Although she didn't say it initially, I know she assumed I was going natural after that and I did not bother to correct her. It seemed to change the way she detangled my hair so I was down for it. I wish I remembered what deep conditioner she used because it did an awesome job on my hair. She got through it so much easier. Once she started straightening it and was going out passed my shoulder, I realized I still had my hair! Now it was just a matter of how much was going to need to be trimmed. She said other than the fact that the back was thin (which I already knew), she wasn't going to have to trim much. Hallelujah! I have realized that having several inches of thick texlaxed hair makes all my bone straight hair look so thin. I hate it. Especially in the back (my nape and a couple inches above) which has always been a problem area for me. 

slowly realizing I still had hair :) [click to enlarge] 

Once all my hair was straight and she let me see the before and after trim, I was in much better spirits. While she added curls, we talked about the Shea Moisture product I used before coming in. (It was the Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque I've mentioned before.)
Me: I used Shea Mositure's deep conditioner. I can't remember the name. The one with the yellow label.
Her: The one with the pump or in the jar?
Me: Umm...the jar...
Her: Melanie...are you serious? That's the mask one! You shouldn't leave it on more than 15 minutes! That's why your hair was acting like that!

Y'all, I cannot explain the mix of emotions I felt in that moment! LOL! I had to laugh at myself, yet I was embarrassed at the same time, but happy it was all over. Thank God she washed and deep conditioned my hair again. Between me not following directions and her attacking my hair with that comb, I could have set myself up for a major setback. But alas, thank God that was not case and my hair was healthy enough to endure the harsh treatment! I loved my results, as usual. And she told me next time I was in town to let her know so she could pick up some "natural products" she thought would do well in my hair. She typically did that for me and I will certainly be taking her up on that the next time I plan on spending a weekend there. 

the final results [click to enlarge]

Thoughts on Relaxing, Texlaxing & "Under-processing" My Hair

In this hair community, I have what is considered to be a [transitioning to] "texlaxed" head of hair. Texlaxing is defined as intentionally under-processing your hair with a relaxer thereby leaving some of your hair's texture in it. I have to admit that I have a little issue with this term and definition. Let me explain why.

The first time I had texture left in my hair after a relaxer was also the first time I timed myself while self-relaxing. However, I didn't go by the recommended processing time in the kit instructions; instead, I started a timer and moved as fast [as I thought] possible in an attempt not to take longer than 30 minutes. I was done right around 30 minutes or so, rinsed and discovered most of my hair was still curly/wavy. Although I was frustrated by this at first, thinking I didn't leave it in long enough, I kinda liked the curls that were left. Thinking more about the process, 30 minutes is 5-10 minutes longer processing time than relaxer kits suggest even for a coarse hair type. Enter the conundrum.

I had never timed myself self-relaxing, nor had I witnessed my mother or any stylist time herself during a relaxer application. Ever. The burning/itching sensation was the tell-tale sign of it being time to rinse the relaxer out. Or the appearance of straight hair after smoothing the relaxer creme. So, if there is a suggested processing time, why have I never been told to use it or witnessed anyone else use it?! Also, wouldn't anything over the suggested processing time automatically equal over-processed hair? With this in mind, it would seem that the way I relax my hair now is not really underprocessing it, as much as it is following the directions. Using this logic, my hair had to have always been over-processed to achieve bone straight results. It's way too kinky/curly and thick to get straight in those suggested amounts of time.

A processing time that yields textured hair makes me to wonder if perhaps it wasn't always the intention of relaxer companies to create bone straight hair, but instead to just RELAX the current texture of our kinky, curly hair causing it to be more manageable. You know, that reason we relaxed ladies love to use for why we won't give up relaxers anyway? (Then again, when you think about the fact that super relaxers exist, that kind of wipes away the whole idea of leaving any texture behind.) To me, it's possible that relaxers have been made out to be the bad guy, when in all actuality, it's been a lack of using them correctly that's to blame for our dry, damaged, over-processed hair. This combined with improper hair care techniques and little to no knowledge of what our hair needs was a recipe for disaster. It's a shame it has taken this long for black hair care to be revolutionized and proper information for healthy hair care made available.

Granted, this is all speculation based on my experiences and observations. I recognize I could just be wrong and overthinking all of this, yet, it makes sense to me. I will continue to refer to my hair as texlaxed, of course. Let me know what you think ladies!

1 Year Later... (Hair-anniversary!)

As I was reflecting on the end of the protective styling challenge coming and anticipating the length of my hair, I realized it's officially been one year since I started this whole "hair journey" thing (I really don't like to call it that lol!). A full year of researching and being intentional about my hair care with the purpose of growing my hair down my back. Yaaay! It's always great when you commit yourself to doing something and can look back and see the progress that has been made because you stayed committed.

I like to think I had a nice amount of hair knowledge and a solid head of hair beforehand. Fortunately for me, I didn't start this with a head full of damage to overcome. I just felt like I was stuck at just past shoulder length hair, despite the fact that I always had a significant amount of new growth every 8-10 weeks. It was a conundrum to me. So I brought it up to my stylist (whom I love!) and was catapulted into this whole world of hair science, tip, tricks and healthy hair enthusiasts. 

Here is what my hair looked like last year, April 2012:
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And what it looks like now, at my most recent length check, April 2013:
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I would have to say that this past year has been a great success! I haven't had any setbacks and I have made, what I consider to be, a significant amount of progress. My hair is so thick now, and slowly, but surely, it is inching down my back. I don't think my hair has ever been this long (or healthy!). Nor do I think I actually knew too much about what my hair needed before I started this. My hair is now thriving, from learning information that, initially, I thought was just doing entirely too much and applying it to my hair care. When I first started reading about all these BLACK women talking about washing and deep conditioning their hair weekly (sometimes more often!), and moisturizing and sealing daily and blah blah blah. I was like... "-_- you're kidding me right? That's doing entirely too much! I don't eva gots the time for that!..." Not to mention the loads of hair myths that entered my mind at the thought of doing some of these things.

Ha! Boy was I wrong! Even though I thought these ideas were ridiculous, I was still willing to at least try them out. Why you ask? Because the women who were going on and on about these tips had beautiful heads of hair! Like heads of hair that made me no longer consider my hair to be allll that. I wanted that. So I went for it and I'm so glad I did because they worked. My scalp now gets a serious attitude with me if I try to go two weeks without washing it. My hair cries when I don't moisturize and seal. And I feel like something is wrong if I haven't deep conditioned in over a week. I don't even remember the last time I used my curling iron. It's no longer my go to when my hair's not working the way I want it. Check out my full regimen here (got a new tab up there, too!).

I have learned so much and I know I still have so much to learn. The nerdy girl in me loves all the [good] science research behind many of the hair rules I now follow. While I haven't had any setbacks, it certainly wasn't easy getting myself used to this whole new way and mindset of taking care of my hair. Old habits die hard and progress is a process. So to any of you ladies who have just started out, only been going for a matter of months, or even have been in this longer than I have and are just not seeing the progress you would like - I say: STICK WITH IT!! I was blessed to kinda know my hair and have a stylist, who definitely knew my hair and was big on healthy hair practices, to give me the push I needed. It really boils down to learning your hair; what it loves, hates, and needs. What works for me may not work for you, that's a serious annoying truth of hair care. However, learning will always be worth the time it took in the end.

*cheers to another year!!*

L4L Protective Styling Final Update

In the past few weeks since this challenge ended, I have been in a state of packing/moving/going without internet & cable which has left my blog quiet and me behind on the newest episodes of Scandal (ah!). So, I will be in serious update mode over the next few days starting with recapping the protective styling challenge! I think I've said in previous posts that this challenge went very well for me.

Here is what the rules were again:
  • A protective style for purposes of this challenge is defined as any style in which your ends are not exposed or touching your clothing.  Buns, updos, french braids, french rolls, etc all count.
  • You may only wear your hair down for 7 days throughout the entire three months total!  Whether you choose to do one week, a couple of weekends or not at all – you only have a 7 day allowance.
  • Only one direct heat pass but try not to use it at all!
  • Protective styles means your ends must be hidden, so half up/half down ‘dos don’t count!
  • Must deep condition your hair at least two times per month.
  • You are not excluding from using fake hair – wigs, weaves, extensions, crochet braids, etc.

I didn't use any down days or heat passes pretty much the entire challenge. The first time I used direct heat and wore my hair down was April 14th. The last time I flat ironed my hair before that was in December. I deep conditioned my hair weekly and my ends were always tucked away. I stuck to the rules and met my goals for this challenge. 

Here is my starting length picture:

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Here is my final length picture:
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I am very happy with my results! I don't think my hair grew several inches, but my ends thickened up some. Those few think spots seemed to have filled in and I think I retained a nice amount of length as well. The very thin ends have got to go tho. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this challenge. It changed my mindset about protective styling. I am more used to wearing my hair up than down now. I'm also considering doing a long-term protective style for the summer. Now that I can see how close I am to my length goal, I feel like if I protective style some more I could make it by the end of the year. It also helped keep me accountable and forced me to try things I wouldn't have ordinarily.

Thanks to everyone who has followed along with me during this challenge. I hope I receive your vote!! That Pepco dryer would be a great addition to my beauty supply arsenal :)
Here's the link to Ebony's post so you can go vote!
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