Saturday, February 26, 2011

Secret Exposed!

If you read my Tangle Teezer review, you already know that Skeptic should be my surname. So, when my homegirl Nia told me about her recent discovery (revealed in her blog post The Product I've Been Keeping Secret, I gave a slight side-eye. But, since Nia was the one who put me on to my beloved Kinky Curly (although after months of telling me how great a product the Curling Custard was, I had to go to her house and use some of hers for myself before I believed), I figured I’d give her secret a shot.

Contrary to popular belief, I thoroughly enjoy being proven wrong, especially when it comes to hair care. This is one of those (rare) times when my skepticism was unwarranted. THAT JOINT WORKED, YO! I tried her trick the other night and voila! Shiny, soft, perfect crunch-free curls sprang up all over my head. Now, I will say this: the curls were almost too perfect. When I tried to stretch my hair with a blowdryer, my hair looked at me and said, “Nah sun, we staying TIGHT!” #Fail. It took a herculean effort to get my hair even slightly stretched and the process sadly frizzed out some sections. I’ll have to try her technique again with some modifications to figure out how to get my stretch on, but I definitely will try it again so that I can let go of the EcoStyler in favor of a gel with ingredients that don’t make me cringe.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Teasing out the Tangled Truth (Nuri's first IJH post!)

I am the world’s leading hair product skeptic. All the new fads and trends everyone seems to jump on so quickly, I give the side-eye. When the natural hair youtube/blog/twitter-verse burst with excitement over the next miracle product or tool, I tend to think see the clamorers as residents of Jonestown pouring the latest flavor of Kool-aid over their curls. This was certainly my reaction to the fervor over the Tangle Teezer (TT). The curly collective consciousness seemed to be that the TT was THE TRUTH. As I am a firm believer in the independent investigation of truth, of not blindly following without looking where I’m leaping, I gave the TT the super side-eye. No one tool should have all that power.

In spite of my skepticism, I purchased a TT of my very own, mostly because I wanted an excuse to check out the new Sally’s Beauty Supply that opened a few miles from my neighborhood. The folks at Sally’s were more than helpful, giving me discounts left and right, including a nice $10 discount that essentially rendered my TT purchase free! Not having to pay for it made me feel better about going home with that particular cup of Kool-aid.

Ok, here is the part where you find out whether my skepticism had any merits. YES. IT. DID. Y’all TT devotees are straight bugging! If it hadn’t been free, I would bring that joint straight back to Sally’s!

Let me be more specific, so as not to be accused of guzzling Haterade. The TT does detangle, so in that sense, it does its job. However, the claims that the TT pulls out far less hair, breaks hair less and makes detangling that much easier are grossly over-exaggerated. I did not find the detangling process any easier. In fact, it took perhaps twice as long because I had to go through each section of hair for a much longer period than I would with a wide-tooth comb or a Denman brush. There was absolutely no curl definition when I was finished and there was just as much pulled/broken hair in the TT as there typically is in my Denman[1]. I did find that the TT did a decent job of detangling on damp hair (i.e. third/fourth day hair lightly spritzed with your water/conditioning spray of choice) in order to create a blowout effect. This may be the only use I have for my TT going forward. I’ve tried it a few times now and in a few different ways just to be sure and I remain vindicated in my skepticism.

The moral of this story? Don’t believe the hype and don’t drink Kool-aid, ‘cause water is way better for you and your hair.

[1] A note about my use of a Denman: some might try and accuse me of drinking the Kool-aid by using one, but I have been using a Denman or Denman-style brush almost since I first became natural. My dear sister from another mother (model/actress extraordinaire) was the one who put me on over a decade ago. She made my life easier and my hair way more fly (she also taught me how to drive stick-shift), so if she’s pouring the punch, I’m at least gonna take a sip.


I bet you wan to know what I think of the Tangle Teaser...
Tee hee...

Instead I bring to you some behind the scenes info about this blog.  I introduce my homegirl Nuri!  Back when I started this I invited her to blog alongside me, since we two (from almost 500 mi away) make a lot of joint decisions on what to try, what's hot and what's not in the #teamnaturalhair arena.  We chat almost every day and her "voice" has appeared here many times as the other person on a "chat of the week" post or as a co-conspirator co-conspirer co-signer elsewhere. :-)  She has been natural longer than me, has more hair than me, and is more skeptical than me (which I need for balance!). So we've been talking natural hair for almost a decade, and now I want to formerly introduce her.

SHE got a tangle teaser and has something to say about it!
Stay tuned and meanwhile- meet Nuri, pictured with me below.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Product I've Been Keeping Secret

I've been keeping something from you all.  For about a month now.  I found a new "holy grail" product and it's officially legit.  Kiss My Face Upper Management gel mixed with castor oil.  It makes my hair "silky".  You get me?  SILKY hair.  What?  I know.  Like, not frizzy, smooth shiny moist curls for days. 

When I first got this gel I hated it!  It seemed drying and flaky and got crunchy.  I used a lot, I used a little.  I had ordered a 3 pack from Amazon and I even gave one away.  Then one day a few weeks ago I got a glimmer of a silky curl on day 3 of a mediocre wash and go.  I re-evaluated the way I had been using it and adjusted my next application.  I added castor oil before I applied it- mixed the two directly together.  BAM! silky hair.

For a wash and go, perfect touchable curls.  I have yet to try it on a twist out or set, and I don't know if the whole "silk" factor will work there... but I am curious and I will keep you posted.

02/23/11- Post Edited to add details: 

Kiss My Face Upper Management® Styling Gel Description

* Medium Hold Styling Gel
* Perfect For All Hair Types
* Keep Hair Under Control Naturally
* ph Balanced
* 100% Biodegradable

Mild Grapefruit scent.

* Certified organic botanicals nourish hair
* Natural formula - no build up
* No SLS, parabens, phthalates
* No animal ingredients or animal testing
* No artificial colors or fragrances

Ingredients: Aqua, urtica dioca (nettles leaf extract),* calendula officinalis (marigold flower extract),* chamomilla recutita (chamomile flower extract),* hyaluronic acid, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, yeast extract, panthenol, tocopherol (vitamin E), citrus grandis (grapefruit extract)
*Certified Organic by Quality Assurance International.

Free Of
SLS, parabens, phthalates, artificial colors or fragrances, animal ingredients or testing

Cheapest I found it- $4.99 at for 8oz.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Right Color

I put a rinse over my hair again and this time the entire experience was MUCH better.  I never knew there could be such a huge difference between brands! The clear winner is:

Natural Instincts by Clairol
22 Medium Auburn Brown

Last time I did the exact same color, medium auburn brown but by Garnier Fructise and it was a total fail!  It was absolutely to blame on the brand of the rinse.  Even the smell was different.

This time the color, even on the first day, was much more natural and orange/brown red as opposed to bright cherry koolaid red. I really do like the red tone in my hair and think it works much better with my skin than the light highlights I got.  Well, everything is worth trying once.  I look better with darker hair :-)

The advice I read about hair color that really sunk in was that when you have the right color you should find yourself wearing less makeup, and not more.  The light brown highlights had me pulling out a bag of tricks everyday and that was just not my style nor the point of getting the highlights.  I thought the lighter color would bring my eyes out more.  But instead they washed me out and make my eye color take a backseat to what was going on up top.  I think I will stick with the pale skin/dark hair contrast.  Now I have to decide how to make this darker/redder color permanent.  The rinses begin to fade after about 2 months.  I could switch to henna, but I kinda want to just undo the whole situation with the color entirely.  I am still deciding on what to do.

Here is the updated color a week after application:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Detangling and changes of heart

When I was a new natural, I was using a metal, long tooth pick to detangle my hair.  I thought I needed the long teeth to handle the entire length of my hair- starting at the roots(!).  I was putting the teeth in at the roots and forcing the pick through the entire length of my hair.  I also used to detangle my hair while dry, and adopt a very stubborn "I will tame this hair" mentality to get me through it.    Surprisingly, my hair was quite thick and grew rapidly despite all the ill treatment.

Exibit A.  My "first" full head of natural hair- 2004:
That picture was taken after 3 years of growth, moderate mistreatment, and sporadic trims that did not account for the "shape" of my hair.  I think that was the healthiest that head of hair got. I began pressing it, I used several rinses in it, and I continued handling it roughly and without much regard to the ingredients in my products.  In late December 2005 I pressed my hair with my brand new Maxi-glide, and killed it.  Severe pressing damage made me have to cut it all off and start again that April.  It was very sad.  But I did it to myself, because even then, there was information out there that would have benefited me, and my hair had been sending me clear messages that I didn't listen to. 

So I started over at the new growth:
This time, however, I knew much more about my natural hair, tools and products.  I also had a strong desire to do better.  I began taking pictures, doing more research and trying more products.  I became somewhat of a product junkie, and I began doing a lot more experiments with technique.  After 3 more years of growth I had THIS head of hair:

Still Thick!

Ya'll know it continued to grow and I recently cut it again into a short style.  But I would say I have now at least heard about every natural hair anything at least once and tried almost everything I thought might work at least twice lol.

In all this time I'd say the biggest enemies to my hair have been dryness and the related split ends and knots, and then rough handling, and the related breakage and knots.  By knot I mean fairy knot, or single strand knot.  I get a lot of those, and I cut them out when they begin to bother me.

Unfortunately for my hair, I choose lifestyle and looks over the health and length of my hair more often than not, and in cutting my hair this most recent time, I have come to terms with that.  I'd much rather my hair be a slave to my lifestyle, than have my lifestyle be a slave to my hair.  Been there, done that with the relaxers and straight hair.  I don't want to spend hours detangling and deep conditioning and steaming, and twisting and roller setting etc, every week! And I never want to have to avoid water again! lol.  Length retention is going to be a bit slower for me under these conditions, and I will need more trims and much more gentle detangling processes if I continue to do wash and goes or shingle sets.  These styles, when they grow longer, brush up against my shoulders and shirt and I also have to detangle more often to prevent some of the knots that form.  All in all, because of my tendencies, the longer it gets the less healthy my ends are and the more protective styling I need to do to keep them.  Bagh.

So anyway, today me and my homegirl were talking after we watched a new natural describe and demonstrate her detangling process on Youtube.  That conversation prompted this post. It seemed to us that she was doing it all wrong, and we had previously noted that her hair seemed to be riddled with knotted looking ends.  "Ah ha!" we said, "I bet this is why!" I don't know for sure that her hair was breaking off, or tangling exorbitantly because of her process, so I can't say she was doing it wrong.  BUT I can say that there are other techniques that I would chose for her.  I don't like to sell myself as a guru or give specific advice for hair different than mine yet I do encourage learning the basic techniques, their benefits and some trial and error to learn about each unique variety of hair.

This girl likes to wear wash and go hair like I do. When you wash and style for 30 min go, the entire length of hair will be coiled, kinked or curled, (which is what I do now!).  And even if you stretch it with a little heat or traction setting, the ends will kink or coil up and be prone to tangling, knotting and drying out after just a few days, or even one day if it's brushing shoulders or being played with or blown about.  The longer I leave my hair to chill in its natural tight pattern, the harder it is to detangle and the more irreversible knots I get.  Those knots by the way, will grab on to healthy hair and involve it in the mess unfairly.
(Product helps to define and separate it some, coat it, keep it moist, keep it from velcroing to itself and other things, lol.  But I think that product is more a solution for the dryness that causes additional weakness). 

The advice I would give, therefore, based on my own wash and go experience would be to detangle at least every 4 days when wearing wash and goes.  I think removing the shed hair is important, releasing any knots and mats becoming more urgent as the days pass.  I think the tools and products used are also very important parts of the process.  The combination of these things depends greatly on the length and type of hair.  I personally HATE detangling with the denman brush.  I feel like it pulls my hair and causes additional tangles to form during the styling process that make me have to manipulate my hair too much.  But that's just ME! ta da.

There are many many processes that work for different people for different reasons.  There is dry detangling, wet only detangling, detangling in sections, with fingers, brushes, tangle teasers (next for me!) and all sorts of combs.  And then there is technique.  ENDS to root any which way! Product provides slip to avoid the velcro and matting effects.  Conditioners, Olive oil, coconut oil and aloe vera are popular detangling products. There are all sorts of concepts that can be applied to help naturals achieve length, health, time savings- whatever you want to get down for yourself.

I introduce a few online resources I found particularly informative and encourage everyone to do research and find more! Try more!  I think that we should try more than one thing, and adjust and adapt as needed.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines! Today is my birthday!

Happy valentines day everyone!!

Today is also my birthday :-)

Here is my v-Day b-Day look:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I need to follow my mom's example!

I got my mom to write me a bit more about her regimen after she posted the gorgeous pictures below on facebook (yes my mom is on Facebook and an advanced internet user!). Somehow, despite not growing up this way, I became a product junkie and tend to do a lot of flying in the wind lol.  My mom on the other hand, keeps it simple and has a lovely head of curls in her 50's.  I further post this all as proof that at any age woman can look great with natural curls or kinks.  She lives in Connecticut by the way, so it can be a bit harder to find support there.

My Mom says:
I’m all about basics  (cheap) and chemical free (no color yet).  Actually, I follow a lot of your advice, I just can’t afford the products.  I wear my hair back and up and trim it myself about every 3 months. I keep it a good shoulder length because it’s more versatile for me at that length.  When I find someone who can do a good curly cut I will wear it out more.

I use a wide tooth comb when I comb, never brush, use my fingers to fluff out my evening braids (the ends curl naturally because there is no perm left).  When I want a slick back I use warm water and QP.  I kind of miss brushing so I do scalp massage when I think about it (sometimes I do the brush with stocking when it’s dirty/straight and I need a quick “clean”...remember that?  LOL)  Because I haven’t been “stylin” there’s not much more to add.... no fuss here.

I’m sent some pictures of products that I use. One last note, when I need to stretch my money I throw some virgin olive oil in my mixes because I always have that on hand. I keep tea tree oil on hand to throw in those blends.

Sleek updo! I'm guessing from a large braid out.

That's Akeela, her dog baby :-)  Had to throw her in.  Yes, she is a pitbull.

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