Friday, 27 February 2015

Back to Basics - Deep Conditioning 101 (continued)

Hey everyone. I am back with the last part of the deep conditioners section. If you need to refresh your memory, here's part 1.

Now, maybe I should backtrack a bit, and say that there are 3 types of conditioners on the market, namely:

1. Instant conditioners
2. Deep conditioners/hair masks
3. Leave in conditioners

Instant conditioners are conditioners that are not really meant to penetrate your strands. Their job is to make hair easy to detangle, to increase hair shine, and to fill in whatever flaws that are on the strand cuticle. Instant conditioners are good for co-washing and are a better option when you do not have time to deep condition. In my opinion, a great instant conditioner has plenty of slip, and has no mineral oil in the ingredients list. One of my favorite instant conditioners is the Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (unfortunately I haven't found it in Zim yet). Tresemme also has some good instant conditioners.

Deep conditioners/hair masks are conditioners specially formulated to penetrate hair strands. Their job is to repair the strand from the cortex, and also repair flaws on the surface. Deep conditioners (with slip) are perfect for detangling. Deep conditioners should always be used with heat to allow maximum penetration of all the goodness into the hair. My favorite deep conditioners include ORS Replenishing conditioner, ORS Hairepair nourishing conditioner and the Dabur Vatika naturals conditioners.

Leave in conditioners are conditioners that you apply to your hair after washing and leave them in until your next wash day. They help in boosting the moisture or protein in your hair. Some schools of thought have suggested that most leave in conditioners are actually just watered down instant conditioners. One of my favorite leave in conditioners is Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Split End Protector.

All of these conditioners have one thing in common. They are all either protein or moisture conditioners.

Protein conditioners focus more on strengthening the hair strand by infusing it with hydrolysed proteins. If you see a conditioner with any ingredient such as hydrolysed silk or wheat in the first 5 ingredients, that conditioner is a protein conditioner. Protein conditioners are also divided into heavy, medium and light protein conditioners.

Examples of heavy protein conditioners - Aphogee 2  step,

Examples of medium protein conditioners - ORS Hair Mayo,

Examples of light protein conditioners - Aphogee 2 Minute Keratin reconstructor, ORS Replenishing conditioner, ORS Hairepair Nourishing conditioner

Moisture conditioners are conditioners that focus more on infusing your hair with moisture. Their ingredients lists will often have humectants (a substance that absorbs or helps another substance retain moisture) in the first 5 ingredients. Humectants include glycerin, honey and aloe vera.

Examples of moisture conditioners - Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, Elasta QP DPR 11+ Deep Penetrating Remoisturising conditioner

My next post will be about protein/moisture balance and how to detect if your hair is off balance and how to correct the situation.

Have a great weekend everyone!!          

Monday, 23 February 2015

Wash Day Saga - Relaxer Prep (?)

Hey everybody,

That's a bit of a shocker in the title I know. Less than a year ago, I was all excited about starting my transitioning journey, and now I'm talking about a relaxer preparation wash day. It seems like my mind has been made up now, the only thing left is to buy my relaxer kit and texlax my hair. But first let me take you through my wash day.
The #WashDayExperience
1. I soaked my twists in coconut oil and let it soak into my hair the whole day on Friday.

2. On Friday night, I applied the rest of the DC mix from my last wash day and covered it in my shower cap and scarf for an overnight DC session.

3. The next morning, I rinsed out the DC using cold water, and massaged my scalp to lift the conditioner. To really remove the buildup and gunk on my scalp, I shampooed with Palmolive Classic Green Apple shampoo for normal hair. I got this shampoo from my mom who was getting rid of her stash since she now goes to a loctitian for all her haircare. Its a sulfate shampoo, and I only used it on my scalp to get it clean.

4. After rinsing off the shampoo, I wrapped my hair in an old t-shirt to abosrb excess water for about an hour.

5. I started taking down two twists, detangling them, applied a leave in (ORS Curls Unleashed Take Command Curl Creme) and sealed with vaseline. I then retwisted the hair into one chunky twist. I did this until I had about 16 chunky twists in my hair. I airdried my hair in the chunky twists.

6. I originally wanted to leave my hair in the chunky twists while I wore wigs this week, but I realised I had serious matting after only one week in medium sized twists. I decided to cornrow my hair into 8 (untidy) cornrows. The cornrows are not too bad, but they are definitely not for public viewing. I am still wearing my wigs on top.

I am planning on doing my relaxer on Staurday. I am just going to mildly texlax using the ORS no lye box kit. I originally wanted to do it on the 7th, but my cousin is getting her lobola paid on that date, so I have to do it before. If I do not manage to relax on Saturday, I will do it on the 14th. But the decision is made. I am definitely going to relax again.

How was your wash day?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Fitness Friday - Marathon Training


This is my first time joining the #FitnessFriday linkup. I decided to join it because I have been letting myself go on a fitness level lately.
#FitnessFriday on @SavingOurStrand
Today, one of my closest friends and I decided that we will participate in this year's Victoria Falls Marathon. Now I won't be doing the full or half marathon yet, I don't think I have enough time to build up my resilience for that. Instead, I will do the 9km fun run. Then next year, I will build up to the half marathon.

This year's edition of the Victoria Falls marathon will be on the 28th of June 2015. Attending it in the beautiful town of Victoria Falls at the border between Zambia and ZImbabwe will be my birthday treat to myself :)

So what's my training regimen for the next 3 months? Well, my plan is to jog more. In February, I will be jogging during the weekends. In the following months I will increase the frequency and length of the jogs. My end goal is to comfortably run 10km without a break. I think its pretty doable, as I used to jog a lot when I was preparing to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro back in 2013.

So the February/March training plan is:

 - jog on Saturdays (total of 10km alternating running and walking)

 - jog on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (working on lowering the walk intervals and increasing the run intervals
- do strength and core training on Tuesday and Thursday
- rest days on Friday and Sunday

That's all for now, training updates coming soon

Back to Basics - Deep Conditioning 101

Welcome back to the Back to Basics series, where we go over a healthy hair journey regimen basics. The series has been on a slight hiatus thanks to a few health issues. But they are now all sorted and I am back at work. This time on the Back to Basics series, I am focusing on deep conditioning.

Deep conditioning, I believe is the most important part of hair care if you are of black (African) descent. Generally kinky curly hair is very dry hair, more so if it has been treated with colour or a relaxer. Deep conditioning helps to infuse moisture and some nutrients into the strand in order to make it more pliable, repair it, and make it less likely to break off. I remember when I double processed my hair in 2011 (colour + relaxer) my length retention really took off because I deep conditioned every week, unlike before when I only deep conditioned after every relaxer (as I hide my face in shame).

What are the benefits of deep conditioning? Deep conditioning:

1. Deep conditioning infuses moisture and nutrients into your hair. The nutrients temporarily repairs whatever tiny flaws that may have appeared in the hair cuticle, while moisture makes the hair easier to manipulate. This ultimately will help in retaining length

2. Deep conditioning makes it easier to detangle hair. A good deep conditioner will have 'slip' which means that it will be easy to run a comb or your fingers through your hair while there is conditioner in it. This will help in getting shed hair out, and reduce knots and tangles.

3. Deep conditioning helps to keep hair in optimum condition and reduces damage that will be done to hair when styling.

How often should one deep condition? Well, it depends on your regimen and your schedule. If you are just starting a healthy hair journey, my advice would be to deep condition after every wash. Even if its a cowash. This ensures that your hair is kept in optimum health all the time, reducing the number of trims you may need . But if your hair is extremely damaged, my suggestion would be to deep condition at least twice a week. Its a lot of work, but it will help in making your hair appear healthier for longer. But once you have found a regimen that works for you, deep condition according to your hair's preferences.

How do you deep condition? There are several options namely:

1. Overnight deep conditioning - this is when you sleep with the conditioner in your hair and rinse out the following morning. Just cover your hair with a shower cap and cover that with a scarf or bonnet and you're good to go. This is my favorite DC method.

2. Deep conditioning under a steamer - if you own a steamer (or go to a salon) this is one of the best methods of deep conditioning

3. Deep conditioning under a conditioning cap - This comes a close second to deep conditioning under a steamer it seems. Just cover your hair with a shower cap, and after heating the deep conditioning cap, put it over the shower cap. Simple.

4. Deep conditioning using body heat - after applying your DC, you simply cover your hair with a shower cap, and a woollen hat, then go get active for some time. After 30 minutes or more, enough of the conditioner will have penetrated the strand

5. Dry deep conditioning - just applying your DC on dry, dirty hair. I usually DC on dry hair when I do overnight DCs.

But always deep condition with heat to allow the conditioner to penetrate to its maximum potential.

I will be back with the types of deep conditioners next week. I don't want to make this post too long and boring for the reader.

Have a great weekend :)

Monday, 16 February 2015

Wash Day Saga - CoWash and Twists


Thank you so much for all the get well soon messages, I am definitely feeling better now, and full of energy.

And this even showed during my wash day. Although I just cowashed, I actually put my hair into medium sized twists this weekend. Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself now. Here's how my wash day went...

The #WashDayExperience

1. On Friday night, I mixed up the last of my L'Oreal El Vive Total Repair DC, two moisturising conditioners in my stash and coconut oil. I just laid the mix onto my box braids, covered my hair with a shower cap and scarf and went to bed.

2. On Saturday morning, I rinsed out the conditioner mix, and really focused on cleansing my scalp with the conditioner, and making sure its all rinsed off.

3. I wrapped my hair in a t-shirt to absorb the excess water.

4. When my hair was damp, I took down a box braid, applied my leave in (ORS Curls Unleashed Take Command Curl Creme) and sealed with vaseline before detangling using a wide tooth comb. I then divided the section of hair into two sections, and twisted them up into two twists. I did this until I ended up with about 32 medium sized twists.
Two weeks worth of shed hair + the inevitable breakage compared to a KSh 1 coin

My twists, not too neat but its a protective style

The twists mean I'm still protective styling under a wig. And I think I have figured out why I had a lot of breakage. Its because I have been keeping my hair in a stretched state most of the time. JC at Natural Haven Bloom did an article on why keeping your hair stretched too much is bad. Having figured out why this is my problem, I have to make a few decisions. My hair is very high shrinkage (it goes from APL to about 1 or 2'') and if I'm wearing my hair loose, I honestly have to keep it stretched so I can style in a bun or something. And I love wearing my hair loose, I am not a fan of long term protective styles. So the choice I have to now make is to decide whether:

a. to cut off all my relaxed/texlaxed ends and remain with fully natural hair that I wear in short styles
b. to get my hair loc'ed
c. to return to texlaxing

I honestly don't feel like short hair. The last time I had short hair I quickly weaved it up because I could not stand myself in short hair (May 2012 when I BC'ed from double processing damage).

My family and a few friends want me to loc my hair. Its a viable alternative, but I like my hair loose and locs take yeeeaaaars to gain length. My mum has been loc'ed for 4 years and hers are now shoulder length. I am definitely not a fan of that.

I have been leaning more towards option 3, returning to texlaxing. I do know how to look after my hair when its texlaxed, and it really thrived during the year (2013, when I started the blog) that I texlaxed, and I got to APL from NL. Even with a number of setbacks such as breakage, overprocessing and moisture overload.

I am pretty positive I will texlax soon. However, I am going to consider for a while whether I truly want to take this step. Watch this space for updates.

How was your wash day?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Wash Day Saga - CoWash

Hi everyone.

Sorry for not replying all the comments love you have been showing my posts, I haven't been feeling well lately and I haven't had much energy to do much except go to the doctor for medicals. I am still not feeling well, so your Basics post for this week may be delayed to next week as well.
The #WashDayExperience
My last washday was pretty simple. I have been wearing my hair in box braids under a wig for a while now, since I'm trying to reduce manipulation and try retain some length. What I just did was do a coconut oil prepoo overnight, and then a cowash using some cheapie conditioner I took from my mum. I simply used the conditioner as a shampoo, and when I was done I wrapped my hair in a t-shirt to absorb excess moisture before using a leave in (Curls Unleashed Take Command Curl Creme) and sealing with vaseline. And that was that. I will probably do something more elaborate when I'm feeling well, but I have a feeling that this weekend I'm cowashing again.

OK, I am out now. Stay well, don't abandon me and see you when I'm all better again.



Friday, 6 February 2015

Back to Basics - Cleansing 101

Hi, welcome to another installment of the back to basics series. This series is mainly aimed at people who have just started to take charge of their day to day hair care who need pointers on what to do. However, those who already have been caring for their own hair may find this series useful as a refresher class. Alrighty then, let's get into the nitty gritty.

Cleansing is a very important part of any hair regimen, whether relaxed, natural, transitioning or loc'ed. A clean scalp is a healthy scalp, and a healthy scalp in turn produces beautiful lush hair without embarrassing white flakes. Cleansing your scalp clears up any build up from the hair products you use, and creates the best hair growth environment. If you were told that a dirty scalp makes hair grow faster, well, that is a big, fat lie. A dirty scalp actually encourages fungi (eeeew) to grow on your scalp, and slows down hair growth since your follicles are clogged.

How often should one cleanse their scalp? Well it all depends on the individual, what their scalp can take and their schedule. Most people range from washing once a week, once a fortnight or once a month. A few wash more frequently, other wash less frequently. But if you are beginning a regimen, you are encouraged to wash at least once a week so that your scalp is in optimum condition. After that, as you know what your hair likes and dislikes, you can then adjust your regimen to suit your schedule and your hair's demands.

Types of Cleansers

Sulfate Shampoos
ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo, a sulfate shampoo that also chelates
These are the most common cleansers available. They contain sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate or ammonium laureth sulfate in the first 5 ingredients on the label. These are quite effective, and are considered to be very harsh. However, most people with curly or kinky hair prefer to use them once a month to clarify and remove any build up from hair and scalp. If you want to use them more frequently, my suggestion would be to dilute your shampoo with water (1 part shampoo to 3 or more parts water, depending on your hair's preferences). That would be suitable for weekly usage, and may save you some $$$$ too.

Sulfate free Shampoos
Best Sulfate Free Cruelty Free Shampoos and Conditioners
Source follow link for more information
These shampoos are getting really popular, as many people abandon the harsher sulfate shampoos. The main cleansing agent in them maybe cocamide betaine, which is considered to be gentler than the chemicals I listed in the sulfate shampoos section. These can be used frequently, as they do not dry out the hair or scalp. But one should use a sulfate shampoo once a month to clarify any build up that the sulfate free shampoo cannot get. These shampoos are generally much more pricier than the sulfate shampoos, especially in countries like Zimbabwe where they are hard to find.

Shampoo bars
Source follow link for more information
This a new alternative that is lately gaining ground in the healthy hair care world. Shampoo bars are basically soap bars that are formulated specifically to clean the scalp and hair. They are less alkaline than the regular bathing soap. Shampoo bars are gentle on the scalp and hair, and most are made of natural, organic ingredients, which is a big plus for those who are avoiding all chemicals. A good example of a potential shampoo bar is African Black Soap. Brands like Dudu Osun have all natural ingredients and are simple to use. Quick warning though, some people have found AFrican Black Soap to be drying to the scalp and hair, so just be careful if you try to use them.

Co-washing Conditioners
Source follow link for more information
Another method used in healthy hair care to cleanse the scalp and hair is co-washing. Co-washing simply means ''conditioner washing''. What it entails is just taking a cheap instant conditioner, or a conditioner especially formulated for co-washing and use that to cleanse your scalp and hair. This method became popular when people started adopting the Curly Girl method. Co-washing cleanses your hair and scalp gently and leaves hair feeling moisturised. However, as with using sulfate free shampoos, using a clarifying shampoo once a month or so is advisable, especially if you co-wash using a conditioner with an ingredient like dimethicone. This ensures that all build up is cleared up, so your hair strands can absorb whatever goodness you put on them.

Clay washes
Source follow link for more information
I actually recently found out about this method to cleanse hair and scalp when I first heard about the Maximum Hydration Method. Clay washing is simply mixing up some clay and slathering it on your hair (like conditioner). Clay washes are known as a great method of detoxifying hair, conditioning it and even encouraging hair to clump into curls. The types of clay best to use (you can't just use mud from your garden) are bentonite clay, rhassoul clay and kaolin. You may need to deep condition after using the clay, so listen to your hair!!!

Kitchen Mixes

I am not much of a mixtress, but I do know people use the following to cleanse their hair and scalp. Most of those who use it say it works pretty well, but my advice to you is to research, research and research some more before mixing up your own cleansers. I am just listing what I have heard people say they use (on forums). I have never used any of these to cleanse my hair so don't say ''Yvette messed up my hair by suggesting I use baking soda.. blah blah blah''. Okay?

- Baking soda
- Apple cider vinegar
- ayurvedic cleansing mixes

My final advice on cleansing is:

a. have a schedule of when you will cleanse and stick to it

b. if you find a cleanser that works for you, stick to it. Don't jump onto any ole bandwagon trying to fix what's not broke

c. really research and ensure that the cleanser you end up picking works with your hair texture, porosity, hair type and scalp conditions.

Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Wash Day Saga - Fighting Temptation

This wash day came and went, and its making me question a lot about whether transitioning was the right choice. Here's what happened:

The #WashDayExperience

1. I had oiled my hair with coconut oil in the morning when I went to work. In the evening, I took down my bun, did a scalp massage with Miconazole nitrate, slathered on my DC (L'Oreal El Vive Total Repair 5) and covered in my shower cap and scarf overnight.

2. I rinsed out the DC and then I clarified using ORS Creamy Aloe shampoo making sure my scalp was clean, and lathering the hair too in order to remove any mineral buildup from our hard water.

3. I did my protein treatment using the Giovanni Smooth as Silk Conditioner for Dry, Damaged hair that I got at the Healthy Hair meet up in December. It was a small sachet, and I really didn't feel as if it had penetrated all my strands. I left it on for 5 minutes before rinsing off

4. I conditioned using Silkness Nourish and Protect conditioner. This is my moisturizing instant conditioner so I used it to help intensify the moisture levels in my hair. I left it on for 5 minutes before rinsing off.

5. I wrapped my hair in an old t-shirt so that excess moisture can be absorbed.

6. When my hair was now damp, I sealed my hair using vaseline, and then I sectioned off an area of hair. At this stage my loose hair had shrunk from 7'' to between 1/2'' and 1''. I applied more vaseline to the section and finger detangled before braiding up that section. I ended up with about 20 box braids.

7. This week I am protective styling under a wig. I have been experiencing a lot of short strand breakage especially when ever I detangled my hair, or when I undid my bun in the evening. In fact, I have had so much breakage, I have failed to retain length for about 3 months now. I am actually considering going back to texlaxing, since I could manage my texlaxed hair better, and had very good length retention.

I am wigging throughout February, and at the end of the month, I will asserss my hair and see if I am experiencing excessive breakage. If I am, I will definitely relax at the end of March/beginning of April. If I retain length, I will continue protective styling and see how much length I will retain by June. I really hope I didn't cause a setback by transitioning when I can't manage to retain length in my natural hair.


Anyway, how was your #washday experience?