Monday, September 8, 2014

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me BEFORE I Went Natural

Hey guys! Going on ANY kind of hair journey isn't easy. There will be good days, but probably more importantly, there will be bad days. The way you handle those days can determine whether or not you give up. Some may not know this, although this is my second time natural, I actually FAILED once before this time and went back to relaxers. It's something I often regret because had I known then, what I do now, I would be waaaay further along. So I want to share with you all a few of the things I wish I knew before I went natural. Maybe it will help someone.

  1. Your hair will not look like ANY of the videos and pictures you've seen. At least not yet. When you first big chop, especially if you do it yourself (which I actually suggest, it's so liberating!).. you are going to experience everything from scab hair (the hair inbetween your relaxed hair, and your true natural hair), to simply your hair being in shock and totally not wanting to cooperate. It's OK! This is normal. It took my hair almost a month to finally realize what was going on. So speaking of that...
  2. Give your curl pattern time come out of shock and form before you keep cutting at it. I made the mistake, less than a month after my first big chop of cutting my hair again. This time more drastically. What turned out to be actually just my natural curl pattern, I assessed as heat damage (because it didnt look like I was expecting, and also because I have more than one curl pattern in my head) and cut it ALLLLL off. I mean all of it. Only for 2 months later, it to grow back in the EXACT same way. How silly did I feel? So my advice is to just give your hair TIME. You cant even trust your roots all the time. What seems like tight curls growing in at my scalp, always end up forming more type 2 waves in the front of my head... unlike the type 3 curls I have everywhere else. (And I know it's not heat damage because I dont straighten my hair, at all.... that may change though, stay tuned!)
  3. The only thing about hair typing you REALLY need to know is your porosity. How easily does your hair allow moisture to flow through it? I think everyone can get caught up in the hair typing world and it's ok to be curious and even know your hair type (I'll leave a link to how you can figure yours out below)... But I stopped discussing it when I realized a lot of women were using it more to Curl Covet than for education. And it's dividing us. Knowing your hair type can be helpful when taking advice on new products to try, because you can see how it MAY effect your hair... but really.. all you need to know is porosity. And I'll leave a link to that as well. 
  4. Your hair will not react the same way to products and styling as others. So when you find a method that works for YOU, just stick with that. This is why I said that big MAY above. Because even if you have the same hair type as someone... your hair is still it's own thing. And still may not like that way. For example, I have a very similar curl pattern as MahoganyCurls on YouTube... however, those wash and gos that she does with conditioner only.... will have my  head looking a hot mess! My hair just does not do well with conditioner only wash and gos. Now why is that if we have similar hair? Because ultimately my hair is still different. I know I have to use some kind of holding cream on my hair... and as much as I would love to do her method, I can't. I have to do what makes my hair look and feel it's best.
  5. And last but not least... HAVE FUN! At every hair stage. Because you'll be out of it before you know it. Enjoy your TWA. Because while you may want length, trust me... you'll miss the simplicity of it. 
As always... be blessed! See you in the next video!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Protective Style From Hell: Why I Will NEVER Get Another Sew-in.

Let me preface this by saying this was NOT my first sew-in, nor was this the first time I have gone to this stylist (whom I will not name).. so I do know that there is a certain degree of initial discomfort you experience from the tightness of a protective style, but what I want to convey from this post is that there is always a threshold that you must not cross when it comes to the health of your hair and scalp... and in this case it was beyond crossed.

On Saturday, April 12th (after my first choice was unable to do it for me at the last moment) I went to a local salon to get a full sew in done.

The beautician was actually the same woman who had done my very first sew-in about 5 or 6 years ago. The first time I didn't have any problems, but because of her prices I had since over the years found other people to do them for me (every one doing them now lol). I was so thankful that she was able to fit me in at the last minute I was willing to pay the expensive price.

(Let me stop here and say that although I have had other people do my sew-ins before, I have also learned how to do them myself so this was my FIRST time letting ANYONE other than myself do ANYTHING to my hair in almost 4 years. My last sew-in I even did myself but I'm still perfecting my braids so I wanted a "professional" since it was something I wanted to keep for quite a while)

Before my arrival she had told me to bring a net cap for my style. I know from learning about hair care myself over the years that the use of a net cap when doing a sew-in is ideal because it puts less pressure on your real hair and creates something like a second "anchor" for the thread.

When she began to prep my hair for the sew-in I felt immediately how rough she was being on my hair. My hair had been washed, deep conditioned and moisturized prior to my arrival so all she had to do was braid and sew. Deep conditioned or not, natural hair can be very fragile and even brittle in it's dry state, and immediately I did not like the way my hair was being aggressively handled. With 3 other clients waiting, she seemed like she in a haste.

Note: At this point, my advice to any other woman in this situation would be to IMMEDIATELY bring this to your stylist's attention. Say, "Oh, you're a little too rough." or "My hair is really fragile. Can you be a little gentler, please?" I did not do that and this was my mistake. Sometimes your stylist may not be aware. 

After she finished braiding my hair she began to sew in my extensions, without the net cap she had asked me to bring. 

So I did ask her, "Do you not need this net cap?" She paused for a moment and I can tell she thought about, but I could also tell she didn't want to start over. So she told me, "No... not really. Your hair is thick enough. It should be ok."

Again, this is YOUR hair ladies. No one is going to care for the well being of your hair like YOU do. So you NEED to tell the person doing your hair what is best for your hair. Unfortunately, a lot of stylists are only taught that, how to style hair. How to make it look good. A lot of them don't know very much after that about the health end of it.

After she finished my hair, it felt fine. I was tight but there was no real discomfort that made me cringe. I just assumed it was that initial tightness that you always feel. I payed her and I left.

By that night I knew my hair was too tight... particularly in the back on my head where the initial sewing began. You see, since my hair is medium length, after braiding my hair, to tuck my longer ends away she had to sew the ends of my braids in an upwards direction to keep them from hanging low. This is where I feel the majority of my discomfort was coming from. The bottom of my scalp was literally being PULLED upwards so tightly that it was ripping my scalp!

Every night I would put natural oil, conditioning spray, braid spray, ANYTHING on my scalp to try and alleviate the pain and discomfort. To no avail.

By the 4th day I began to feel those small "tension bumps" all along the back on my scalp. (That's the first sign something is not right and it's not your typical tightness... be aware of this)

By the 5th day I was getting scabs in those same places the bumps were.

By the 6th day I felt in the back of my head and my scalp was literally BLEEDING. Bleeding yall. I had lesions in the back of my head and I could literally feel where my scalp was raw and open. 

It was at that moment I knew I had to take this hair down or I would be suffering more than discomfort for a long time.

As I began taking down my hair I didn't even know where to begin. The sewing was so tight that I couldn't get a grip on much and I didn't have anyone here to help me or "be my eyes." At the time I was trying to preserve my gorgeous hair that I had received from a company and I didn't want to make any wrong cuts. Most importantly I didn't want to cut any of my real hair. Each tug revealed to me my entire scalp was suffering, it was only the back that alarmed me enough to do something about it.

By the time I got to the top it had become clear to me I wasn't going to be able to salvage my extensions and I was just in save my real hair mode. Get this thread out my hair and get my hair out of these braids. I was so angry.

After about an hour I was able to get everything out and my hair down and my scalp was literally throbbing.

I found a mirror to get a closer look and I devastated by what I saw. At least 8 red, open lesions in the back of my head. 

(Note: I tried to take pictures but you can imagine how difficult that is to accomplish on your own. And quite frankly it was so nasty it isn't even something I want to show)

I thought about calling and getting angry. I thought about demanding my money back (which disgusts me the most that I spent so much for something that not only didn't last me, but actually caused me harm). I thought about a lot of things but in the end none of it was worth it to me. I just cared about getting my scalp back to health.

As a result, I didnt lose any (or any noticeable amount of) hair from this ordeal because I had the consciousness to take it out before I let it get worse, but I'm sure I suffered breakage back there that even I'm not aware of.  Especially with that being such a delicate part of your hair anyway.

I wanted to share my experience with you all so that you can spot the signs if you choose to take a sew-in as a protective style route. Although I know it was this particular experience and not ALL sew-ins can be damaging...

I personally will never get another one. It's not worth it to me. Not even doing them myself.

Instead I will do other means of protective styling like bunning, twists, and wearing human hair wigs. I will even dabble in making a few myself.

Protective Styles that are too tight can have horrible consequences that we don't even realize:

  • Scalp irritation
  • Hair breakage
  • Hair loss
  • Permanent Hair Loss
  • Scalp damage 
  • Infection
That last one is the scariest for me because then it turns into something that is not just related to your hair. It is something that has gotten into your body and is not effecting your HEALTH.

Braids, extensions or anything else that are too tight and causing scalp irritation can cause open lesions on that can get infected and can get very serious if gone untreated. All the daily things we put in our hair carries bacteria and will continuously make it worse.

I say all this to say PAY ATTENTION. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HAIR and don't leave that responsibility with ANYONE else.

Be blessed ladies.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

HAPPY NAPPYVERSARY! 10 Things I Learned In My 1st Year CURLY!

I think all naturals look forward to the anniversary of their first day fully natural. That first day is scary, exciting, and motivational. We love to watch our hair change and grow and what do we love most? COMPARISON PICTURES! So before we go any further... let's go ahead and see my 1 year comparison.
But first... let's see where I started...

This was my hair one month before I did my big chop and the last time I straightened my hair before I began the process of what I thought would be slowly cutting off my relaxed hair. My plan was to cut a few inches at a time... 2 weeks later I did a mini-chop... and then on April 3rd... I did my big chop. 

Not really knowing much about my curl pattern... I assumed I had heat damage and did a SECOND big chop in June 2013... cut about 50% more hair off... 

And here's my hair on April 3rd, 2014... One year later... 

After my second big chop my hair came right to my chip when pulled (or stretched)... my hair is now closing in on APL (arm pit length) when stretched. 

So now that that's out of the way.. here are 10 things I learned about my curly hair during my first year.

  1. My hair has 2, maybe 3 different NATURALLY occurring textures. After my first big chop I cut my hair a second time thinking I had heat damage only for my hair to grow back the EXACT same in that area. Had I known this, I probably would have been a lot further length wise and not continuously cut healthy hair. 
  2. Detangle in 6 sections, starting with the most difficult section (for me, the crown of my head) and detangle on dry/slightly damp hair BEFORE getting in the shower. <--- this cuts out MAJORLY on time spent in the shower and prevents cold showers!
  3. Always style on wet hair. Some naturals achieve amazing results when doing styles on stretched hair, for me, not at all. My hair is more prone to breakage, looks dry, and tangles horribly when I style on dry hair. For me, I'd rather deal with shrinkage. 
  4. LCO method works best for my hair type. 
  5. If your hair is too short for the pineapple method... 2 small pony tails (mini-pineapples) work just as well
  6. My hair is more susceptible to single strand knots when it's dry.
  7. Brown Eco Styler gel is the best for my wash and gos (and trust me... I've tried it ALL)
  8.  My hair does not like dry deep conditioning
  9. Coconut oil is the best for my hair when sealing in moisture (since my hair is more on the "fine" end of the spectrum)
  10. No twist out is created equal lol
I styled my hair is wash and gos 95% of the time when I had my natural hair out... which was for majority of the year. 

I'm excited to see what the next year will bring. Hopefully bigger, healthier hair!