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!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How I Cured My Eczema (and other skin conditions) In 7 Days!

Let's cut right to the chase. NOBODY wants flaky.. itchy... unappealing skin, no matter where it is. But when I started to get sudden and growing severe patches of dry, flaky lesions on my face I knew something had to be done quick!

I actually had two different things going on with my face.

The first, I knew right away was Eczema. For me it had been reoccurring in the same place since middle school - around my ears (which is a common culprit for Eczema).

The second was what alarmed me the most. I had about 3 or 4 round flaky lesions on my face and around my hair line that seemed to be spreading rapidly! At first glance, I thought maybe my new puppy had give me ringworm from always trying to lick me in the face (yuck!) Then, when it began spreading it looked more like Psoriasis (which I was familiar with from family members having it), either way... it had to go!

Now my first suggestion, if it causes alarm would be to immediately go see a dermatologist. However, since it is darn near impossible to see mine without booking at least a month in advance I had to take matters into my own hands.

I've spoken numerously about the wide spread benefits of African Black Soap. For the last 1+ years it's the only thing I will wash my face with.

Now I will admit, having extra time to get back focused on my fitness, and basically ALWAYS sweating, I grew lazy with my facial regimen. I got the point sometimes I was just rinsing my face off in the shower and keeping it moving! And my make-up brushes! I'm ashamed at how badly I'd been treating them!

Needless to say, this all created the perfect storm for whatever to... invade my face!

So what I did was I let my trusty friend go into over time.

Every day, 2x a day I washed the infected areas (the outside of my ears and over the areas on my face) with the African black soap - being careful to wash each section separately as to not spread the infection. 

I then followed up with Cortizone 10's Maxium Strength Intensive Healing cream.

And a week later... my ears are clear, no itching, and you can barely see where I ever had anything going on with my face (as far skin conditions are concerned).

The Benefits of African Black Soap include:

  • Correction of discoloration of skin tone and dark spots
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Removes body odor
  • Extreme cleansing
  • Heals acne 
  • Heals and treats skin conditions such as fungus, ringworm, psoriasis, and eczema
  • Excellent exfoliate (great for reduction of blackheads) 
So by washing my face with it every day I was effectively preventing all these things... but when I became neglectful to my skin, I left the window open for problems I'm already susceptible to (because of genetics or otherwise). 

As far as what the actual diagnosis of what was going on with my face (psoriasis or not) I won't know until I actually visit my dermatologist... but the great thing is I was able to get it under control myself while I wait. 

Note: Psoriasis is a skin condition, that while it is common, it is reoccurring and  no actual cure for at this time. So if that is actually what I did/do have... this is simply a treatment.. not a "cure". 

Hope this helps!