Henna Gloss Treatment

I did my second henna treatment, this time deciding to go with more of a gloss instead of a full treatment like the first time I did it. A henna gloss is not as strong because of the use of conditioners and/or oils that reduce its drying effect. It also doesn't require a long time for dye release. I definitely wasn't concerned with getting a color change this time. I just wanted a little more of a strengthening treatment knowing I was about to get box braids, and knew I hadn't used henna since September. I think about every two months works well for me when it comes to using henna. 

So, I varied my recipe a little bit. Many ladies make 50/50 mixture of henna/conditioner&oils when doing a gloss, but mine wasn't quite that diluted. Here is the recipe:
  • 1 cup of henna (about 200g)
  • A little less than 2 cups of green tea (steeped with 4 bags)
  • 2 tablespoons ACV
I mixed this together until I was sure all the powder had been mixed in, leaving the mixture pretty thick. I knew that mixing in the conditioner and oils was going to thin the mixture out some, so I did not want to put too much liquid in initially. You can always add more later, but once it's in, there's no going back. I let this sit for about 45 mins then added my conditioner and oils. I was surprised the mixture had already changed colors in that short amount of time. Here's what I added, a very heaping tablespoon of:
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Silk Dreams Vanilla Moisture Dream Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restoring Conditioner
  • Organic Honey

This was the perfect amount to bring the mixture to the creamy consistency that I like. I applied it on freshly washed hair (in sections) just like I would a deep conditioner. I put on two plastic caps and sat under my bonnet dryer for about 30 minutes. I rinsed with some Herbal Essences Conditioners, Hello Hydrations & Honey I'm Strong, until the water ran clear. Definitely didn't spend as much time rinsing as I did the first time around. I followed up with a quick conditioning session just to be sure my hair wasn't too dry. That's it! It was a very quick use of henna, which I wasn't sure was possible.

During both of my henna treatments, I've noticed how much more the mixture absorbs into my new growth vs. the length of my hair. It sinks right into my new growth so much that sometimes I feel like I didn't apply it there and put more on the same area before I realize it's just being absorbed. I would think that my previously relaxed hair would be more porous, absorbing more of the mixture than my unprocessed new growth. However, that is not the case. 

So, the question is... was it effective? Answer: Yes! Score! My hair definitely felt stronger after rinsing and conditioning. Also my hair ended up changing color anyway. I surely didn't expect that. Like it's a noticeable change without being in direct sunlight. Yay! I like it. Perhaps using the apple cider vinegar combined with using heat? I really don't know why it turned out brighter with a much shorter application, but I am not complaining. I love color! I'm convinced henna is now a regular part of my regimen.  


Improving the State of My Nape

Oh, the nape, the hair right above the back of our necks - what a problem area this is for many black women. Some women have no problem whatsoever with their napes, however, for many of us, it may seem like an area that just is not meant to grow very long. This has been the case with my nape for as long as I can remember. It's always the first area to break off if I am experiencing breakage and its length retention has been virtually non-existent. It is, sadly, also the target of my hand-in-hair syndrome. Sigh. When my hands subconsciously venture into my hair, here is where they rest, rub and probably wreak havoc. If I am extremely stressed, this is where my hair thins first. You get it, right? You name it, here is the place it has happened.

I wish I had thought to take a picture of the state of my nape when I began all of this because I'm positive it was a lot worse off than it is now. That said, pictured to the left is the current state of my nape. I think it is about shoulder length, a kind of thin shoulder length. I think that both relaxing my hair less often and leaving this area for last (to process the least amount of time), have contributed to allowing my nape to progress more than it has in the past. Still, it is not as healthy as I know it could be or even as healthy as the hair directly above it (see pic below). I want to be more intentional about changing that. 

There are numerous factors that are known to play a role in nape breakage and/or thinness. The hair at the nape can often be finer, less dense, softer, or a completely different texture from other areas of your hair which causes it to be more prone to breakage. For example, the hair at my nape (and in the back of my head overall) is much more kinky and coarse than the rest of my hair. This makes it more tangle prone and harder to keep moisturized in comparison. Combined with this are a list of things that can keep this area damaged such as: too much manipulation (with your fingers, combs and/or brushes), too much tension (from too tight buns, braids and other styles), overprocessing with harsh chemicals, friction (from headbands, clothing, scarves and/or coats), and heat damage.

To me, the hair at the back of my head is seemingly less thick than the rest of my hair. I haven't completely figured out why that is yet. Even with that, the hair at my nape is noticeably shorter and thinner than the hair directly over it. So, I need to step up my game of taking care of my nape. I already relax it last and it is now the most textured part of my hair due to that. That's about where my extra care stops.

Left: from middle of my ears down, Right: from top of my ears & down
Right now, I just want to make a few changes to see if they make a difference. My first goal is to try to make a conscious effort to keep my hands out of it. Extra moisturizing and sealing is next on the list. I want to start paying special attention here like I do the ends of my hair. I need to cut down on styles that cause me to put too much tension on my nape. Or perhaps just embracing messy hair a little more would help, too. Lastly, I will be more mindful, during this winter season, of my turtlenecks, scarves and coats contact with my hair. I also have a go-to headband that ties in the back which could be contributing to the problem. The thought of giving that up is just sad. Hopefully, this will be a good start to improving the current state of my nape.

Anyone else have any trouble with their hair at the nape?

Wash Day - Quickweave Takedown

During the time I was wearing my quickweave, I was diligent about moisturizing & sealing, and applying my growth aid. The whole time I've been on this journey to long, healthy hair, I've never had my hair cornrowed for more than a couple days. So, I was a little nervous about the state my hair was going to be in when I took them out. One thing's for sure, I had the best braidout ever once I did. It had so much volume and definition! I was upset I did it right before washing and didn't have a chance to wear it out anywhere. Here's how my wash day went:

{1} When taking the braids down, I loaded my hair (and hands) with grapeseed and coconut oils to ease both the friction between strands and removal of shed hair. My hair felt surprisingly soft and moisturized! I was glad my diligence paid off.  

{2} I separated my hair into 4 sections, applied a protein conditioner to my ends, L'Oreal Damage Erasing Balm, and put on a plastic cap for about 20 minutes.

{3} In the shower, I rinsed then shampooed with both Shea Moisture Deep Cleansing and CON Argan Oil Moisturizing shampoos. It's not unusual for me to use both in one wash, but I did want to make sure I got a good deep cleaning this wash.

{4} After letting the excess water soak up in a towel, I applied my deep conditioners,
Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose and Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner (1st use), and put on a plastic cap. I ended up leaving it on overnight. Simply because I got tired and did not feel like getting back up to rinse my hair.

{5} The next day, I rinsed with cool water and did an ACV rinse. Let it sit for a few minutes before doing a final rinse with cold water.

{6} I t-shirt dried for about 20 minutes before applying my leave-ins: Elasta QP H2 and Aphogee Green Tea & Keratin Restructurizer. 

{7} I let my hair air dry clipped in sections in an attempt to stretch my roots. I left it that way until it was about 80% dry. 

{8} Everything went smoothly until I got to this point - detangling. Ugh. My new growth was still so coiled together it was hard to separate into smaller sections. I lost enough hair to fit inside the palm of my hand, but when examining it, I found that the majority of it was shed hair (bulbs still attached). Not necessarily bad for over two weeks, but still more than I'm used to experiencing. And it took so long to get thru all my hair.

air-dried and detangled

My guess with the shedding is that it's just that time for me. A lot of women experience increased shedding when the weather changes in the fall/winter. The same thing happened to me last year around this time, which caused me to start trying tea rinses. Until this summer, I was a regular tea rinse girl. I'm not sure where or how I let those fall away, but this is a sign I need to get back on that. I'm also considering trying a coffee rinse to see if that makes any more of a difference than the black/green teas I normally use. 

This wash day made me long for a relaxer. It also made me wonder how I will ever go natural. Lol! I'm sure, like with anything, learning to deal well with my different textures just takes practice. Stretching is definitely a testament to that truth. I never would have thought I'd get to the point of being well past 3 months post relaxer either, but here I am :)

Has anyone else's shedding increased in the past month? 

DIY: 1st Quickweave (wig)

I mentioned in my last wash day post that I was going to do my first quickweave. I wore it for a little over two weeks before letting it go. I used hair I had leftover from the u-part wig I made earlier this year. The terminology of a quickweave seems, to me, to apply to several different styles that all use hair glue. In the first style, your hair is molded to your head, similar to that of a wet wrap, and the weave is then glued to the mold track by track. The next is just like the first except you use a wig cap between your hair and the weave, making it easier to remove, but still glued to your hair. The third, and the method I used, is to glue the hair solely to a wig cap, making it completely removable at any time. When I decided to do this, I began to wonder if the term quickweave refers to the time it takes to complete the style, the length of time the style lasts, or both. Let's discuss the whole experience. 

The only supplies I needed were: hair (of course), a shower cap, hair bonding glue (BSS brand), a wig cap, and a blow dryer. The process of completing this style was surprisingly easy and yes, it was quick. After watching a number of YouTube videos, it took me about 30-45 minutes start to finish. A chunk of that time was spent simply trying to decide how I wanted the hair to lay on top and around my leave out. Here's what I did:

  1. Braided my hair straight back, except for a small section in the front. I wasn't concerned about any special braiding pattern since I didn't know how this was all going to work out anyway. 
  2. Put on the shower cap then covered it with the wig cap. This step ensures that no glue is applied to your actual hair. 
  3. Starting in the back, I began measuring each track against my head before cutting it from the weft. 
  4. I applied glue to the backside of the track and immediately put it on the wig cap. 
  5. I pressed down on the track for a few seconds and then used the blow dryer to ensure the glue set with the heat. 
  6. I repeated steps 3-5 for my entire head, spacing each about an inch or so away from the last.
  7. Once I got about eye level, I began curving the tracks upward. This helps the hair to lay in a more natural looking way and keep tracks from making guest appearances :)
After I was done, I removed the shower cap and cut the area I left open for my hair to be left out. I thought about sewing wig clips to it, but with the thinness of the wig cap, it didn't seem like something that would work out well. So, I just secured it to my braids with bobby pins around the perimeter of my head, which kept it very snug.

Overall, I really enjoyed wearing this piece! It was very easy to just pin it on, unbraid my leave out, blend and go every morning. It also made moisturizing and sealing a breeze with the my hair being braided. I felt my hair blended really well and it matched the appearance of my real hair perfectly. Most people thought it was my hair until I told them it wasn't. Score! On one hand, this made me realize I would enjoy wearing wigs as a long-term protective, but on the other, I realized I would have to buy some high quality hair (or a wig) in order to be okay with wearing this kind of style for awhile. This Sensationnel Wet N' Wavy hair just loves to get matted! And that is something I simply cannot do. 

When I got to almost two weeks of wearing this, a track just fell off the back when I was combing it one night! Ha! Sooo, I decided that the term quickweave refers both to the short amount of time it takes to create the style and the limited amount of time the style lasts. I was so glad that did not happen in public, too! I had a lot of fun styling the piece. I loved the big hair look, but also enjoyed pulling it back and twisting it up. Here's a simple side twist I did one day. Can't wait til I can do that with my own hair!

    Random Hair Chatter @ 12-14 Weeks Post

    • I'm actually staring 14 weeks post relaxer in the face (in just a matter of days) and can't believe I've made it this far into a stretch. What's more unbelievable, to me, is that I have no plans of relaxing soon nor of transitioning to natural at the moment. I plain and simple just have not been and am still not in the mood to relax my hair. I just do not feel like it! It's so weird because I'm usually quite eager to relax by the time I make it to 12 weeks post.

    • My last wash day, which I will detail in another post, made me seriously consider relaxing soon. Tangles and shedding galore! That is one of the usual motivations for my eagerness to relax. A certain amount of new growth throws my wash days all the way off. 

    • I have had this dilemma in my mind for a month or so about what long term protective style I would like to try out. I tried out a quickweave wig (pictured above) to decide if I wanted to go for wigs for awhile. I think I would enjoy the ease of wearing wigs, but I would also have to invest in some good hair or a good unit if I was going to be wearing it long-term. I can't walk around looking all matted within two weeks. So, I think I'm going to save up a little for that investment. Perhaps at the beginning of the new year I'll go for that. In the meantime, I decided to get box braids. After much deliberation! A number of people I have talked to about getting them doubt my ability to keep them in long term. Ha! Because they know how bored I get with hairstyles and how much I enjoy washing my hair weekly, both of which may work against me during this time. For me, if I can keep them in for 4-6 weeks, I will be proud. Plus the price is extra motivation for them not to come out after a few short weeks. That might not seem like very long-term to some people, but it definitely will be to me. This is a reason (besides not feeling like it) that I didn't want to relax as scheduled. Putting braids in after a fresh relaxer would set me up for failure I'm sure.  

    •  I am itching to buy some new hair products! I probably don't actually need any of the things I want to buy, but that's nothing new. I'm just trying to hold out until Black Friday so I can get some goodies from online companies. I got some great products during the sales last year, and haven't repurchased any since. Some of them I will be repurchasing, some of them I won't, and some of them I haven't even used up yet. Shame on me and I'm talking about buying some more already.

    • Heaven gained a very close family member of mine about two weeks ago. While it is devastating to us, I know the angels are rejoicing. Understandably, my blog was the last thing on my mind. I am going to attempt to update it with the posts planned for that time. I knew during this time I was not going to feel like dealing with all this hair and a new level of new growth, so back to the salon I went. Same stylist as my last salon visit. Straight hair is just easier to manage sometimes. While she did a great job, I did decide I will probably never let her or anyone else detangle my hair again. There's just something about combing from root to tip, no matter how patient you may try to be, I cannot deal with. So, I will be returning to her the next time I want my hair straight without doing it myself, but it will be after my hair has been washed, deep conditioned and thoroughly detangled. It's cheaper and means less time sitting in a salon anyway. Here's a pic of my hair after she blew it out. My ends still look nice to me! :)

    My hair is inching toward full bra strap length pretty quickly, in my opinion. That was my original hair goal. I changed it to mid-back length because I want to cut some nice layers in it for my dream hair and think that will ensure I'm still around the same area after the cut. I was so very tempted to have my stylist go ahead and cut into my hair right now though! My one-length hair kinda bores me when its straight, but not when its textured. After watching another stylist cut and feather a woman's hair so beautifully, I thought about just going for it. My stylist kindly reminded me that that woman's hair was weave and mine is not, and I should just keep growing until I get to my goal. Thank God for her! I would have regretted that cut for sure.

    Hope everyone has been well. I am going to start blog stalking soon!
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