My Dad & ALS | 52 Weeks of Gratitude

My dad has ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). He was diagnosed almost 2 years ago. If you don't know what ALS is, it's a terminal neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. It eventually leaves a person paralyzed and unable to breathe on their own. 

It probably seems weird for me to say I'm thankful for such a terrible disease, but it's not the disease itself for which I'm thankful. It's the lessons that it has taught me.  

I was a daddy's girl up until I hit my teenage years. We butt heads A LOT during those years (everyone says because we're so much alike) and our relationship left much to be desired. Then I moved away for college leaving things as they were. As his health started declining, we lost several close family members, which taught me how much I should truly cherish my loved ones. I moved back home to be closer to my family and help out. 

That was before my dad was diagnosed, when we had no idea how serious his condition was. Now, I'm one of his primary caretakers, along with my mother. The opportunity to take care of my father full-time could be seen as a burden, but I choose to look at it as a blessing. The time I get to spend with my dad is something that can never be replaced, and it has brought us much closer than we were before I moved home. I know that regardless of the sacrifices I have to make to take care of him, I will never regret my decision to do so. 

I am not sure that I could list all the things I've learned (and am still learning) through this process, but these are a few that stand out the most at the moment.  

We take small things for granted, and we shouldn't. I'm talking about things as simple as brushing your own teeth. Things we don't even think about because they're just so normal they don't seem very relevant. It's easy to thank God for new jobs, new cars, and material things. However, when you watch someone lose their ability to be independent day-by-day, it really stresses how important these seemingly small things are. Before this, I never considered that there are people who wake up realizing they can no longer feed or dress themselves. I'm sure my dad would give almost anything to be able to do those things for himself again. 

Life itself is a miracle. I'm sure we've all heard "tomorrow is not promised" time and time again, but how many of us can really say that we live every day like we might not wake up tomorrow? I am certain most people don't, including myself. At least, I didn't before this experience. It wasn't until death visited my family multiple times that I truly started to recognize how fragile life is and how quickly it can be taken away. Elements of my father's life slip away on a regular basis. It not only makes me grateful for each day he's still living and able to laugh & talk with me, but it also makes me grateful for each day I am given to wake up - especially with my health and abilities.  

Love is not always pretty or easy, but it is always a choice. The world likes to portray love as this perfect, sweet feeling that just yields constant happiness. If something doesn't always make you happy or feel good, it's not really worth it, right? Wrong. Now, I can't say that I ever believed that lie, but I know I did not realize how hard truly loving someone can be either. Love is much more than a feeling, it's actions. It's charity. This is easily one of the most challenging situations I've ever faced. I believe it's worth it though. 

My best example of love's ability to look like an ugly, painful choice would be Jesus choosing to die on the cross for his love for the world. I cannot truly claim to be Christian if I'm not willing to try to love like God loves me. I love people so much differently now. I'm less likely to get hung up on petty issues. I would rather cherish who I have, while I have them. And I would encourage you to do the same. Don't let tragic circumstances teach you that. 

Thanks for reading & following along as I try to become a more grateful person. I hope each post isn't this hard to write, but I am certain that my readers will get to know me a lot better by the time this is over. 

Is there anything you're grateful for that may seem unusual? 

Relaxer Update, Quick Length Check & Steam Rollers

I relaxed my hair at a little past 22 weeks post. I didn't plan to stretch that long this time and I don't plan to do it again, but who knows. I spent the majority of this stretch in protective styles so I didn't really struggle with battling my new growth. I think it was a pretty successful stretch. Protective styling has been treating me well. My goal was to finish the year with another style, but I think I may continue with it throughout the winter. Not sure yet, just thinking it may help keep me from having to figure to keep my hair moisturized all the time. My hair hates winter. I am certain I will need to trim soon, but I'm still playing keep away with my scissors so that will have to wait. 

Anyways, my relaxer day went as smooth as I could have asked for. Creme of Nature's Straight From Eden relaxer is definitely my staple now. I was able to repeat my desired results without any problems so that sealed the deal for me. Here's the details:

Prep - 
{1} I thoroughly detangled my hair using my fingers followed by a wide tooth comb. Divided into four sections.

{2} Layered the length of my hair with my "triple threat" - grapeseed oil, PM Tea Tree conditioner, and vaseline - to protect my previously relaxed hair.

{3} Parted my hair to base my scalp with vaseline. After applying vaseline to my scalp, I twisted the length of each section.

{4} When I mixed the relaxer, I added about 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil to the mixture to make sure my hair would not process faster than I wanted.

Relaxer Process - 
{5} I always start applying the relaxer at the crown of my head since it is my most coarse area and work my way down each section, saving my nape and edges for last. I love this twisting method because I can move through my whole head in about 5-6 minutes. I use the rest of the time to make sure I didn't miss any areas. I do not smooth the relaxer in my hair. Total time: 14 minutes.

{6} Rinsed the relaxer out and soaked up the excess water with a towel.

{7} Mid-step protein treatment with Aphogee 2-step. I actually hate this stuff, but in an effort to pare down my ridiculous product stash, I decided to use it. It definitely does its job as far as the protein treating is concerned, which is what matters. Everything else about it sucks though.

{8} Neutralized with the Straight From Eden Hydrating shampoo. I lathered three times, allowing the third to sit for a few minutes just to be sure.

{9} Deep conditioned with Silk Dreams Soothing conditioner and TRESemmé Naturals. Rinsed and did and ACV & aloe rinse. 

Styling - 
{10} Applied my leave-ins - Elasta QP H2 & Straight From Eden Repairing Oil - and detangled my hair.

{11} Blew my hair dry on low heat and lightly flat ironed (1 heat pass).

At this point, I started trying to take pictures for a length check, but ended up playing with the slo-mo video feature :) I posted that on my Instagram last week.

{12} Decided to use my Caruso Steam Rollers, hoping for better sleeker results than the first time. I used mainly the jumbo rollers and a few medium sized ones.

I totally fell in love with my steam rollers this time!! My hair was so soft and bouncy and I LOVED the curls. They gave me soft, loose curls. The curls fell into nice waves by the end of the day, too.  Overall, this relaxer day went very well! 

52 Weeks of Gratitude

A whole year of intentional gratefulness. I am challenging myself to this. 

I have seen this kind of challenge in many forms. From a few days or a week, to the whole month of November, the Thanksgiving season always brings it out of people. Which is great because we should all take the time to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. Recently, I have decided I need to make this more of a habit. Sometimes, in life, it's harder to find things to be grateful for than others. Especially when things aren't going as planned or as we think they should. 

Currently, I am trying to learn how to "be content in whatsoever state I am" (Philippians 4:11) and that's definitely not the easiest thing to master. For me, at least. I know that being grateful is one of the best ways to achieve this. The thought of doing this challenge for a year makes me hopeful for change. I think that this intentional gratefulness has the power to completely change my perspective on life and that's what excites me about it. I found this quote and thought it just reinforced the idea behind why I want to do this challenge.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity... It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."  - Melody Beattie 
I love the concept of that quote and I really believe in it. 

This week, I reflected on how extremely grateful I am for my family. My parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts... all of them! I have a large family, which I recognize is a blessing in itself. But I don't just have a large family; I have one that is very close, sticks together and truly supports one another. In this day and age, that's rare. My family has changed a lot over the past few years - loss, sickness, relocations - so things definitely don't look like what they did before. Although that's hard, I'm still very thankful for the bonds we share. I recognize that many people don't have the loving support system that I do, which makes me more grateful for it.  

I realized in writing this that I've never shared a pic of my fam here before! This is a pic of me with my sisters and my parents. 

With Thanksgiving having come and gone, I thought this was the perfect time for me to start this challenge. So, every week from now until next Thanksgiving I will be sharing something for which I am grateful. I did actually find some prompts for this challenge, but I don't think I'm going to stick too closely to them. I will probably use them when I'm needing some inspiration. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with their loved ones! What were you grateful for this year? 

Wash Day | 21 Weeks Post

Day 9 Flexi-rod set
It's my second time stretching to almost 6 months post relaxer, both times being unintentional. When I'm doing long-term protective styles, I don't like to relax my hair in the midst because it's best to give your hair a break both before and after relaxer. I usually don't feel like breaking from styling, so I continue to stretch. At this point, I miss my hair! My new growth is serious and I've been itching to play with some of my new rollers. I already picked up my relaxer kit :) 

After I took my faux locs and box braids down, my hair was definitely in need of some pampering. I knew that my next wash day was going to be relaxer day so I wanted to do some protein treating as well. Here's how my wash day went down:

{1} Divided my hair into 4 sections and saturated it with oil. Covered with a plastic cap and scarf until the next morning. 

{2} Divided each section in half then began detangling: 1st with my fingers with a wide tooth comb. applied PM Tea Tree Moisturizing conditioner and braided each section. Put Aubrey Organics GPB on ends (protein layering). 

{3} Shampooed with a mix of ORS Creamy Aloe and CON Moisturizing Argan Oil

{4} Towel wrapped to soak up excess water.

{5} Deep conditioned with Umberto Beverly Hills Repair Treatment Masque and TRESemme naturals with a plastic cap for about an hour. 

{6} Apple cider vinegar and aloe vera juice rinse. I did not rinse this out.

{7} Towel wrapped to soak up excess water.

{8} I let my hair air dry a little then I applied my leave-ins (Elasta QP H2 and Organix Coconut Milk Serum) section by section to get ready to flexi-rod set my hair.

{9} I applied Shea Moisture Frizz-Free Curl Mousse (Coconut & Hibiscus line) to each piece of my hair before rolling it on the flex-rod. 

{10} Sat under my bonnet dryer for about an hour. Let it air dry the rest.

My roots were puffier that what I would have liked, but the curls were great. I wasn't too surprised because I'm def not the best at wrestling my new growth taut with flexi-rods. That automatically equals an updo for me (pictured below). So I pinned it up and to one side. These curls were so soft and lasted for so long! About 10 days to be exact. I give all the credit to the awesome Shea Moisture mousse. By the end, I was just wearing it big, fluffy with allll the frizz and loving it. I've become a sucker for big hair. 

Turning My Box Braids into Faux Locs

Faux locs or loc extensions seem have become quite popular recently. So, of course, I have been wanting to try this style. (If you follow me on Instagram you saw these when I first did them a couple weeks ago) Especially since I've been on my long-term protective styling challenge. However, every single video I watched talked about how ridiculously long it takes to put them in. This style is basically two styles in one and that's why the installation can be so long. Because of that, I knew there was no way I was just going to up and do this style one day. But as my box braids grew out, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity for me to try the faux locs. I figured with about 4-5 weeks of new growth, my roots would blend perfectly with the locs. And turning my old style into a new one would hopefully help me hold onto it a couple extra weeks.

Another reason I decided to try faux locs this way is because I had a few concerns about them. A lot of ladies say they can be really heavy, which makes perfect sense since you are adding more hair to your head full of braids or twists. I've had a bad experience with too much hair on my head before... definitely don't want to repeat that. I also was concerned that this style might be "too protective", as in all the extra hair might make it hard to moisturize my own hair or even dry it out. 

So, in putting these over my old box braids I wasn't going to be too invested in them, no matter the time comittment. I knew if I felt something was off about them or anything, I wouldn't hestitate or feel bad about taking them out. My hair had been put away from a month or so already. 

There's two ways you can go about loc extensions: yarn or marley hair. I chose marley hair because I think it looks more natural and the thought of yarn wrapped around my hair just didn't sit right with me. This whole process is not difficult at all, just time consuming. I do not understand how anyone has the patience to install these from scratch all at once. I will never do that ya'll! Lol! I pretty much did it all in one day and my arms were so tired. I cannot imagine installing box braids or marley twists and then wrapping more hair around them straightaway to install the locs. Nope. My arms would just fall off I'm sure.

It might go without saying, but I do not like too much hair on my head ya'll. I always try to use the most minimal amount I can when doing these protective styles. With my box braids, I used about 2.5 packs of hair and I pretty much added the same amount of marley hair to complete the faux locs. As I watched videos of people completing this style, they were talking about using 7-8 packs of hair, which is just way too much for me. Wouldn't you just feel like your neck was going to snap from all that weight up there?! I can't.

One thing I did to prevent having to use so much hair is cut my box braids. I knew that one reason ladies have to use as much hair as they do is to get long lengths. So, first I cut the braids to about mid-back length. Then I unbraided each one until I found my hair so I could be mindful of around where I needed to stop cutting. I was always pleasantly surprised at how quickly I found my hair, too, not having to unbraid very much. I left the back at the longer length and layered the top of my hair with shorter lengths. I wanted it to look natural, but have a style to it as far as its length. I knew since I was cutting it, I wasn't going to be able to do a lot of the updo type styles, I've seen done with faux locs so I wanted it to look nice just being worn down.

People typically finish their locks by burning them to secure the ends, but I was kind of uncomfortable with that since the ends aren't too much longer than my real hair. So, initially, I did the typical wrap back up method, but just palm rolled the hair to get it to stay. The majority of my locs stayed perfectly with this method. There were, however, a few that just continued to unravel so I had to burn those.

Overall, I was really happy with the way this style turned out! It had to grow on me at first, I wasn't really sure how I felt about it. Probably because it's a very different look for me. But I ended up loving it. 

Has anyone else tried faux locs before? Let me know about your experience!

Braided Bun with Box Braids | Pictorial

One thing I have been enjoying with my box braids is trying new styles. The last time I had box braids I only tried a few new styles. This braided bun is one I've seen different variations of and always liked so I decided to try my own. It's so easy, but looks very intricate. I love styles like that. Here's a quick and easy tutorial of how I created this style:

1. Pull braids into a high ponytail or wherever you would like your bun to be. With box braids and similar styles, it is easiest for me to turn my head upside down to make sure I get all the braids into the position I want them. 

2. Spread the hair evenly around the ponytail. Like cover your face and head with it. You should look your whole head is covered once you've done this step. 

3. Divide the hair into 4 sections and braid each one. 

4. Moving in one direction, I chose clock-wise, begin pinning each braid around the ponytail until you have pinned each one. 

There you have it - a braided bun!  I initially tried this style with 3 braids and it didn't work out as well because of the amount of hair I have in with these braids. So, if you try this style with 4 braids and you bun is too bulky or just not sitting right, try it with 5 instead. I also suggest adjusting the braids around your edges and nape before you start braiding, just to make sure they aren't too tight. My braids had grown out at this point, but I still found that the style could cause tension even when it doesn't feel tight. 

Box Braid Wash Day

Wash days when protective styling are the easiest wash days ever! After about 3 weeks or so with my box braids, I decided it was time to wash them - more like my scalp decided it was time to be washed. I used my usual method of washing box braids. Here's how the day went:

{1} Divided my braids into 6 sections and braided each one. Secured each braid with a small rubber band.

{2} Cleansed with a mix of CON Moisturizing Argan Oil and a small amount of ORS Creamy Aloe shampoos watered down in an applicator bottle. I focused on my scalp and the roots of the braids. Lathered twice.

{3} Watered down TRESemme Naturals in an applicator bottle and applied that from the roots of the braids down the length to where I believed my hair ends. Massaged it in and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Rinsed with cool water.

{4} ACV and aloe vera juice rinsed spraying both my scalp and the length of my hair. I didn't rinse this out.

{5} Towel wrapped the braids to soak up excess water for about 20 minutes.

{6} Unbraided each section and applied some coconut oil to seal in the moisture.

{7} T-shirt wrapped the braids to let them finish air-drying.

Once the braids were completely dry, I decided to re-braid around the perimeter of my head to freshen them up a little. I felt like I had about half an inch of new growth with some of them. I didn't make them as tight as I did initially though. After that I put my hair in the big, high bun at the beginning of this post.

Washing box braids
Braided sections
4 weeks is usually my limit for these types of styles, but I've been trying to figure out a way to get a couple more weeks out of this style. My hair is doing well in them, it's easy, and I'm still not sure about what to do with my hair when I take these out. So, I figure keeping it put away for a little while longer will be good for me.

How was your wash day this week? Be sure to check out other Wash Day Experiences over at SavingOurStrands and JustGrowAlready!

My Box Braid Installation #2

I'm still on my protective styling til the end of the year challenge. So my hair was out for about a week or so before I started installing my box braids. Initially, I planned to do them crochet style, but that ended up not working out the way I wanted so I just did singles. When I was putting the braids in around the perimeter of my head, I had a moment where I felt like my hair is actually getting pretty long. Am I the only one whose definition of long hair has progressively changed during this hair journey? Yes? Oh... ok. Well most of the time, I don't think my hair is actually that long. However, when I was able to compare it to the braid I had just installed, which is clearly long, I was like wow! my hair IS getting long! :-D Of course I had to take a pic to share!

I used my usual X-Pression Braiding hair (some of which I used again from my twists) in 1B and 1B/33. After the perimeter of my hair was done, I started installing braids crochet style and I was! I didn't get too far before I realized this either. So, I took them out and started putting singles in. It actually made for a really easy process since my hair was braided straight back. I would take out one cornrow, put all that hair into box braids, and then move onto the next cornrow. Not a lot of fighting with my huge hair for parts and such. 

People always ask me how long it takes me to complete a style like this on myself and I can never give them a real answer. I don't like to sit and do my hair straight through for some reason. I'll do the perimeter of my hair first so that I can hide the unfinished part with a bun until I'm ready to finish. I would guess I spent 5-6 hours on it total? Who knows.

I've had my braids in for a few weeks now. I actually don't remember when exactly in September I put them in. That's how I know I'm really enjoying them. I haven't been counting down the days til I meet a goal and can take them out or anything along those lines. I'm loving them! I think the ease of protective styling is allowing me to hold on to them for longer. It's so awesome when you don't have to worry about what you're going to do with your hair in the morning.

Before I gave up on the crochet idea

When I put these in, I was coming up on 14 weeks post. I definitely could have relaxed my hair, but I chose not to because I knew I wanted to put another protective style in quickly. I would have had to wait some time after relaxing before I could put these braids in and I was not up for waiting. So, I'm thinking by the time I take these out and am ready to relax my hair I'll be around 20 weeks post. Eeek! I'm a little nervous about that. I've only stretched that long once before (25 weeks to be exact) and I really had no desire to ever do it again before transitioning. But I will be excited to see how much of a difference protective styling for the past few months has made. The comparison pic makes me feel like I've made some good progress!

Co-Wash Day: Battling Dry Hair

After I took my Senagalese twists/crochet braids out, my hair became unhappy. It seemed fine at first, but by the end of the day, it was just SO thirsty!! It didn't matter what moisturizer I put in it either. The dryness was unreal. So I decided to co-wash just a few days after washing to try to infuse some moisture into my strands. I went straight for my moisturizing staples that never let me down, too.

{1} Divided my hair into 8 sections.

{2} Applied Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose & Island Naturals Replenishing conditioners to my hair and braided each section. I also applied some Umberto Deep Treatment Masque to the last few inches of my braids. I want to start trying the protein layering technique on my ends.

{3} Put on a plastic cap, scarf, and deep conditioned overnight.

{4} Rinsed with cool water (still in braids), squeezed the excess water out and followed with an ACV and aloe vera juice rinse. I don't rinse this out.

{5} Towel wrapped my hair to soak up the excess. I could already tell how much better my hair was feeling at this point.

{6} Doing one section at a time, I detangled, applied my leave-ins (Elasta QP H2, It's A 10 Miracle Leave in & Organix Coconut Milk Serum), and blew my hair dry on low. Didn't take very long at all and my hair felt great!

{7} Set my hair using my new Caruso steam rollers! I got these to replace the terrible Con-air ones I was gifted awhile ago.

Honeysuckle rose to the rescue! That plus the ACV and Aloe vera juice rinse left my hair pillowy soft and moisturized. For days ya'll! Why I stray from my tried and true I'll never know. I promise next time my aloe vera juice runs low, I'll re-up before it empties. I can't go without it anymore. I love when my hair turns out so soft I can't stop touching it!! 

For my first time using the Caruso rollers, I really like them! I didn't try to blow dry my hair straight so, of course, it ended up HUGE as the day went on! Lol I should be used to that by now, huh? But I still liked it! At first, I thought the process of steaming the rollers one at a time would take forever, but it definitely is an easy process. These are keepers for me! 

Oh, and my MacBook is finally back up and running! Yaaay!! So, I'm glad to be officially back and linking up with the #washdayexperience this week. Be sure to check out other wash day experiences over at SavingOurStrands and JustGrowAlready! How was your most recent wash day?

Wash Day: Twist Take Down

New growth after 4 weeks
By the time I took my twists down, I was 12 weeks post relaxer. Because of the fact that I was so lazy about taking care of them while I had them in, I really didn't know what to expect from my hair. Yet, I didn't experience a lot of breakage or anything along those lines so I was pleased.

{1} After removing all of the twists, I coated my braids with PM Tea Tree Moisturizing conditioner and my garlic oil mix. I put on a plastic cap, scarf and left it on overnight.

{2} When I took the braids out my hair felt great. I finger detangled, but some how forgot to fully detangle before shampooing. Always a mistake after protective styling!

{3} Sectioned my hair into 4 and shampooed with ORS Creamy Aloe three times. My hair wasn't feeling the best at this point. I could tell detangling was not going to be good.

{4} Towel wrapped my hair to soak up excess water.

{5} Applied L'oreal Damage Erasing Balm and Aubrey Organics Replenishing conditioner for several hours under a plastic cap.

{6}Rinsed with cool water followed by an ACV rinse. I did not rinse this out of my hair. I let it sit for a few minutes before squeezing out the excess. My hair was back to feeling pretty good, but still tangled.

{7}Towel wrapped my hair to soak up the excess liquid.

{8} Section by section, I detangled and applied my leave-ins (Elasta QP H2, Shea Moisture Reconstructing conditioner and safflower oil). Detangling took about 45 minutes. It was definitely due to not thoroughly removing my shed hair in the beginning. A lesson I shouldn't have had to repeat. It could have been a lot worse though.

{9}Put some Eco-styler gel on my edges, brushed them smooth and put on a scarf. Let my hair continue to air dry.

So, initially my hair felt great. But the more my hair dried, the more the moisturized feeling disappeared, which left my hair feeling so dry and crunchy. Ugh. I knew I was going to be co-washing pretty quickly. I moisturized it again to give myself a day before I had to wash it. I think protective styling spoiled me because I really was not thinking this wash day. I didn't detangle properly. I didn't think about how far into my stretch I was and how that changes things, i.e. I should've washed in braids and used more moisturizing products. Thankfully, my mistakes didn't leave me with any damage and I already know how to fix my dry hair issue.

Hair {& Blog} Update

First things first: I hit my 4 week goal for my protective styling!! *cheers!* It wasn't even as hard as I thought it was going to be. I wanted to take them out at after about two weeks because I had so much new growth, but it was easy once I got over that. I probably could have kept them in for a couple more weeks if it weren't for all the new growth. New growth is (almost) always the reason I want to take these styles out early. That, plus the fact that I get bored with my hair quickly. I think I had half an inch after two weeks. No exaggeration. Check the pic! The thing I always worry about with a lot of new growth is too much shed hair causing issues. So, I re-twisted the perimeter to make myself feel better.

I have to admit... I was a complete slacker when it came to my hair this past month or so. I feel like I didn't moisturize as often as I should have. And... I did not wash my hair at all for the whole time I had in my twists ya'll! Lol I should be ashamed huh?! I didn't even use my dry shampoo! I am such a champion of keeping your scalp clean, but umm... yea it just didn't work out this time. Surprisingly, my scalp did not protest AT ALL so I dont actually feel too bad about it. Last week was the first time it started bothering me and itching. By then, it was time to take them out anyway. 

Even though I didn't do the best job taking care of my hair in the twists, I am happy to report that my ends are still in good shape. My current goal is to keep my ends up by protective styling. I joined the 30 days without Split Ends challenge with Jeni of JustGrowAlready and Divachyk of Relaxed Thairapy and am so glad it was a success despite my bad behavior :)

Because my hair seems to grow like weeds when I'm protective styling, I'm really motivated to try to keep it up for the rest of this year. I still find it unbelievable how much my cornrows grow out in such short periods of time when I have in crochet braids. In the picture below, it is hard to see where the braids even begin! You can check here for what they looked like originally. This personal protective styling challenge is working out well because I currently do not feel like being patient or devoting the time it takes to do my hair like I usually enjoy. Next up is box braids. They will probably be done crochet style as well just because it's so much faster and easier for me. I'm going to wait about a week before installing them just to give my hair a little rest.

New growth after a couple weeks
Last, but certainly not least, my beloved Macbook Pro shut down on me!! I literally turned it off one day and it refused to boot back up. Major sadface. I still don't know if it can be revived, but the blog was way too quiet last month. I don't know how much longer I'll be without it at this point so, I guess for now I need to try to master blogging from my iPad?  If any of you ladies know of some great apps for this, I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Product Review: Organix (OGX) Nourishing Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum

Price: $4.99 for 4fl oz. 

Purchased At: Walgreens

Product Claims: Indulge your senses with this exclusive blend of organic coconut milk to nourish your hair, while ultra whipped egg white proteins add strength and elasticity, along with weightless coconut oils to add hydration and balance. It's tropical, luxurious, silky and works to smooth, condition, strengthen and instantly repair your hair.
  • Weightless coconut oils blended with silk and keratin proteins create a silk repair therapy
  • Instantly repairs dry, damaged, coarse and chemically treated hair.
  • It helps resurface the hair, repair damaged hair and cuticles, and mend split ends and frizziness
  • Promotes longer hair by helping reduce everyday damage

Ingredients: Cyclomethicone , Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane , C12 15 Alcohol Benzoate , Silk Amino Complex , Shea Butter , Coconut Milk , Coconut Oil , Egg White Protein , Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) , Fragrance

Directions: Apply a small amount of Organix Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum to palm, rub hands together, then apply evenly to surface of damp, towel dried, hair working through ends. For best results use in conjunction with other Organix Coconut Milk products.

My Experience: I LOVE this stuff! I don't know if I'll be able to find a con about it. I use this serum to seal my hair regularly. I'll use it on wash days as a leave-in, as a sealant when moisturizing my hair throughout the week, and even as a heat protectant - even though that is not a listed use for it. I think it has enough cones in it to do the trick for me. I especially love using it on my heat-styled hair. I notice a significant difference in little broken hairs when I use this vs. when I don't. So the proteins, silk amino complex and egg white protein, that are contained in this serum pack a powerful punch. That fact alone is enough to make this a staple for me. But wait, there's more!

This serum is sooo light! I can use it repeatedly on my flat ironed hair and it will not weigh it down at all. And by repeatedly, I mean daily. Using this has never given me that gross, greasy feeling which other serums can produce. That is another thing I love about this product. A little goes a long way, too. So if you're noticing that you do get that feeling, you are probably using too much. With that being said, this bottle lasts me for months even with my very regular use of it. I just love how soft my hair feels when I use it. It's like it revives and gives my hair life over and over.

This serum has a light coconut scent to it. It's smooth and slippery like most serums. Now let me just say - I do not like coconuts; not the flavor, not the smell, I don't like anything outside of the oil that they produce. However, this scent does not bother me one bit. I actually like it. I think it's because it's just not strong enough to cause the usual adverse reaction I have to the smell of coconut. Even if you pretty much hate coconut like I do, you can still love this product.

Moral of the Story: If you need a (light) protein pick me up, buy this stuff! $5-6 for a quality product that lasts for months can't be beat!

Have you ever tried this product before? Love it, hate it, never want to use it again??

Product Junkie Rehab

I have a problem y'all. I don't think I've ever denied the fact that I'm a product junkie. In fact, I think I've kinda embraced it, which might be why it's become such a problem. Haha! So, in the process of trying to organize my stash (which lives in 3 different places around my house), I realized how out of control it had gotten. I found more products after I took this picture, too. What to do? What to do?!

I've been on a product buying ban for 3-4 months, and I'm not sure that it helped. I've only managed to start running out of my favorites, which I have to repurchase. What I should have done was force myself to start going through some of the old favorites while not buying anything else. At this point, I'm not sure how much "don't buy any hair products... don't even go down that aisle... you don't need that" I have left in me, honestly. I have to be realistic with myself. I enjoy buying hair stuff period and I really like trying new things. So, I've come up with some new rules:

  • I can repurchase staples when they run out.
  • I have to evaulate at least 2 products at a time and
    • decide if my hair loves or hates it
    • use it up or give/throw it away
  • Only when I've done that am I allowed I buy one product I've never tried before

I know, looking at the picture, it's probably like 2-for-1 that's it?! Yes! I recognize it should probably be more like 5-for-1 to really cut that stash down quickly, but I'd rather start with baby steps first and see how well I do. I don't want to use too many new things at once and then not be able to tell which one caused my results. Plus I'm not going to be washing my hair weekly while I'm protective styling so I won't be able to use up things as fast as I normally would. That's also why it's not at least two products a month or any other time period on it. At this point I've had my twists in for around two weeks and have yet to wash them. So, I can't really depend on regular wash days to cut my stash down. 

What do you ladies think? Is anyone else trying to cut down on their product stash or struggling to get their product buying addiction under control? Help me out! :)

My Senagalese Twists/Crochet Braids

I finished my twists! I LOVE them, too. I'm so surprised at how they turned out since it was my first time doing them. I keep getting asked where I get my hair done as if it were done professionally, which makes me feel really good. Yay! 

I am so indecisive ya'll. I tried two other ways, got half of my head finished, and then completely took it out before I settled on this way of doing it. Originally, I was going to do single twists all over my head, but I was not really feeling the way it was turning out so I decided to leave the perimeter of my hair that way and do the middle crochet style. It would have all been done in one day if it wasn't for me running out of hair. Fortunately, it did not end up taking as long as I thought it would.

I used the same kind of hair I did for my last set of crochet braidsSensationnel X-Pression Braiding Hair. I had 3 packs of 1B and a little more than a pack of 1B/33 total. I cut the hair in half. My braiding pattern was simple, but not straight back. I wanted it at a slight angle so the twists would hang the way I wanted. I did not think about combining the braids near the bottom until it was too late - probably because I had already been in my hair for too long. So I just flipped each end up and sewed it on top of the braid.

When crocheting the hair in, I would pull half of the hair to the other side of the braid and tie it instead of pulling all of the hair through the loop and knotting it. I hope that makes sense. This technique allows the hair to completely surround the braid and eliminates the "knotty" look that a lot of ladies find unattractive with crochet braids. You can see in the picture about how the twists covered up the braids as I began filling them in the top section. 

Once I was done twisting a section, I would wrap the ends around a flexi-rod to help keep the twists tight until I was ready to seal them and because I wanted my ends to be curly. This also made sealing them really easy. When I was done, I just dipped each rod in extremely hot water, leaving it for a couple minutes. After soaking up most of the excess water with a towel, I let my hair air-dry overnight with the rods. I had great results in the morning. The curls, of course, loosened up pretty quickly. So the longest lengths are grazing my waist. I didn't think I would like it that long, but I actually do. It'll be pretty versatile to style, too.

My goal is to leave this style in for a month. Just four weeks! It shouldn't be as hard as it is for me to leave a style in for just a month. I can always find a seemingly good reason to take them out early. I really want to be very mindful of protecting my ends in hopes that it will help me stop feeling like my hair "needs" to be trimmed. Hopefully, that will be enough motivation.

Wash Day - Henna!

After my last roller set got completely destroyed by the humidity, I decided I was going to go ahead and put my hair away in a protective style for awhile. I knew I wanted twists, but I wasn't sure what kind. Anyway, I like to henna my hair right before I install a long-term protective style to give it an extra boost of strength and deep conditioning. I have been doing these treatment about every two months, but decided to push this one back some because I wanted some more new growth. 

{1} I used the same steps from my last henna treatment to prepare the mix. (Here's my henna gloss recipe) I did this first to give it some time to marinate before I was ready to use it, although I wasn't very concerned about dye release this time. 

{2} Finger-detangled and divided my hair into three sections.

{3} Pre-poo with PM Tea Tree Moisturizing Conditioner and a mix of safflower & grapeseed oils. I put on a plastic cap and a scarf for a couple hours while I did things around the house. 

{4} Towel wrapped my hair for about 20 minutes to soak up the excess water. This is also the step I added the extras (honey and Tresemme Naturals conditioner) to my henna mixture. 

{5} Applied the henna to my hair, section by section, from root-to-tip. I apply my henna standing in the bathtub for easy clean up if I make a mess. I put on two plastic caps once I was done. 

{6} I left the henna in my hair for about an hour - 20 minutes of that was spent under my bonnet dryer on low. 

{7} Rinsed thoroughly in the shower. Once the water started running close to clear, I added a very generous amount of Tresemme Naturals to my hair with a plastic cap. This helps get any leftover henna rinsed out. I rinsed after around 10 minutes. 

My hair felt so mmm mmm good at this point I didn't want to deep condition. I told myself to just do it anyway to ensure I didn't experience any drying effects from the henna so I got out the shower at this point. However, my hair made me change my mind back to the original thought. 

{8} Towel wrapped my hair to soak up excess water. 

{9} My hair still felt so good that I decided to forgo my usual moisturizing deep condition and ACV rinse. My compromise was using Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative conditioner as my leave-in. I used this with Elasta QP H2 leave-in, grapeseed oil and my shea butter mix. Detangling was a breeze like it always is on henna wash days and my hair felt ah-mazing!! I hope my love affair with henna never ends. 

left: attempt at capturing the color; right: air-drying method

{10} I wanted my hair to be stretched to make it easier for me to twist it up. I ended up just letting it air-dry ponytailed in the same three sections, which worked surprisingly well for me. 

Even though it was more work than my typical wash days, it was such a great one! I cannot boast of my love of henna enough. My hair seriously thanks me every. single. time. It just feels so good that it's worth the work the smell and the mess to me. I got a slight brown tint to my naturally black hair this time. I'm not even sure how noticeable it is. After much indecision and trial & error, I went for Senagalese Twist/crochet braids. I ended up running out of hair at the the very end so I will be finishing it tomorrow and then posting about the style. Here's a blurry sneak peek until then! :)

How was your wash day this week? Be sure to check out other wash day experiences over at SavingOurStrands and JustGrowAlready!

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