Then came late Jan 2009, I took my sew-in out (i had to be fly for new yrs:-), washed my hair and pulled it back into a ponytail. And what did I see? Scalp. Lots of scalp around my edges where my hair SHOULD have been and USE to be. The damage was really bad on my left side, like their were thin wisps of hair barely hanging on. I wanted to cry. I actually think I did cry a little because it shocked the hell out of me. And that was it. I promised myself that my break from weaves would start that day and from there on out, I would give my hair the proper treatment it deserves. And that's when my hair addiction began. I researched products and treatments like crazy. I didn't want temporary fixes. I wanted the good stuff, the suggestions that last and provide healthy results. So it took a minute and a few trial and errors, but i'm working it out and my hair is seriously loving me :-) Here's what i'm currently doing (and not doing) to my hair:
* I'm on a
*No more curling irons. I use to be addicted to my big barrel curling iron. Every single morning I was curling my hair at the hottest temp because that's the only way it would hold a curl for half the day. Of course this made my hair very angry and my ends were all kinds of dry and scraggly. Just all bad. I officially retired my curling iron in March and haven't even looked at it since. I trimmed about 1.5 damaged inches from my hair and i've succesfully grown it all back + some since eliminating the abusive daily direct heat :-) And guess what? My hair will now hold a nice curl all day when I roller set and it even maintains a cute natural bend with bounce when I wrap it. Think it did this when I was treating it like crap? Not never.
*No more heavy greases or mineral/petroleum oils/gel. I use to think my hair needed gel, pink lotion and some kind of thick grease to lay flat. And I wasn't using any "healthy" aloe-vera gel. I was addicted to the evil that is pro-style gel. The thick brown gooiness that made my hair feel like a helmet. Yeahhh buddy. Give me globs of gel, a hard bristle brush and some water & u couldnt tell me nothin. But after researching the ingredients in the gel and in the grease & pink lotion, I quickly learned why my hair was so brittle and snapped off so easily. These products clog hair pores, coat the hair and make it impossible for any type of moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. No moisture= extreme dryness (duh) = breakage. Had to let it all go. But guess what again? Now that i've eliminated the harsh products from my regimen, all i need is a little coconut oil, a water based moisturizer (I use Organic Root Stimulator Hair fertilizer) on my edges & ends, and a soft bristle tooth brush = my pony tails glisten, sparkle & shine all day :-)
*Just say NO to cat-eye ponytails and YES to loose buns! Y'all know what cat eye ponytails are. If your eyes look like this \ / after you do your pony tail, its too damn tight. Stop it. This type of stress on your edges will lead to traction alopecia a.k.a a severe receeding hair line. Instead of ultra tight ponies I pull it back or up in a secure (but not tight) ponytail with ouchless cloth bands, making sure my edges are moisturized and aren't stretched taught. I've also learned the wonders of protective styling. Instead of always letting my ponytail hang in the wind, I apply heavy moisture to my ends and bun it for a few days, making sure to take down and carefully comb through it daily. This allows my hair to soak up moisture and maintain softness. No more scraggly straw ends for me since I started this!
The day before I wash (which I usually do on Sunday) I lightly scratch my scalp to lift any flakes and I apply a large amount of ORS Hair fertilizer directly to my scalp and along my entire hair shaft, paying extra attention to my new growth and my ends. I then seal the moisture into my ends with either a Hot Six oil treatment or my Doo Grow Thickening Growth oil. The Hot Six is a little thicker, contains six of the best oils known to hair and smells like coconut so I use this one a little more. But my Doo Grow is what has helped my edges so I can't knock it at all. After I moisturize & oil my hair I bun it and don't touch it at all until its time to wash.
I wash once a week alternating between Creme of Nature ultra moisturizing shampoo. The C of N is the best thing ever for softness and it smells like heaven. The follicleanse I found doing research on shampoos that clarify (fully remove build up of products) and restore the pH balance & natural oil production of the scalp. I have chronic dry scalp and i've seen a slight difference in it since using this shampoo. It has not eliminated my flakes (far from it) but my scalp doesn't get as dry as quick and my hair loves the stuff.
After I shampoo with lukewarm water, I condition with Creme of Nature Chamile & Comfrey conditioner. I swear they make the best smelling products ever. This condi is the perfect mix of thickness and creaminess and coats my hair really well, but rinses easily. I always leave the conditioner on for at least 5 mins, covering with a shower cap for deeper penetration. But I try not to get the conditioner on my scalp because its so sensitive to oils and products and if I put too much on my scalp, i'll be flaky the next day. So I concentrate on the hair, especially the ends. I rinse with cold water, as cold as I can get it. The cold water blast seals the hair cuticle and makes my hair really shiny.
As often as I need it, which lately has only been once every 5-6 weeks, I do a protein treatment. I quickly learned that I can't moisturize like crazy without strengthening the hair with protein. If I over-condition/moisturize and don't use protein, my hair gets mushy when wet and very limp and heavy when dry. So I think i've found my balance using Aphogee Two minute Keratin Reconstructor ever so often. DO NOT use this product every time you wash. No matter how tempting it is because this treatment does make your hair unbelievably soft and bouncy. Aphogee is the truth and it works well and i learned the hard way (trial & error) that if you use protein every time you wash for extended periods of time, the hair will become brittle and start breaking. But once you balance the protein with the moisture, the breaking & shedding will stop. I considered using Aphogees 2-Step protein treatment, which is an intensive process that includes sitting under a dryer and making the hair rock hard for a few mins, etc. But I dont think I need it and i'm scared of protein overload, so I think i'll stick with the lighter 2-minute recon. It's lovely.
Okay so after all the washing and conditioning, I gently comb my hair with a wide tooth comb and let it air dry for a lil while. I don't towel my hair at all because it makes it frizzy. If I dont plan on flat ironing & wearing it down, i bantu knot or twist my hair in sections (applying moisturizer and oils) and let it air dry completely. When I take it down the next day, it's super soft & curly and makes cute up-dos.
But if I plan on wearing it down for the duration of the week, I spray my hair lightly with Ultra Black Hair Care Dew which is a great leave-in conditioner, put a little ORS Hair Fertilizer on my ends and blow dry it. I don't fry my hair with the blow dryer. I part it and hot air blow dry until its only damp, and then I switch to the cool setting mid-way thru. After i'm done, I go section by section and flat iron on a low temp. I only use my flat iron twice a month now, as opposed to a couple times a week as to cut down the direct heat. I thought about phasing out my flat ironing and blow drying all together but I'm relaxed for a reason, because I want my hair to be straight and flow. I cant acheive ths without any heat at all. (I wish but i can't) So as long as I maintain moisture in my hair, and keep the heat usage limited, I think i'll be fine. So far, so good.
My maintenance thruout the week is pretty low now. If im wearing my hair down (which I do every other week) I set it in rollers twice a week, keeping my ends lightly moisturized so they dont dry out. Then I wrap it a few nites a week to give my hair a break from the rollers. I don't use clips or bobbi pins when I wrap because they can cause breakage and I dont like the indents they make in my hair. I just cover it with my silk scarf and go to sleep. My hair is healthy enough now that it holds the curl and stays very shiny and bouncy throughout the week. I also make sure to oil my edges religiously every day. On the weeks when I wear protective styles, I really don't do anything to it besides keep it heavily moisturized, sealed with oil and bunned.
So as you can see, i'm being extra careful with my hair now and i'm treating it like I appreciate it and would like to have more of it on my head. I chopped it all off in 2006, completely shaved low in the back and stacked asymetrical on the side. It grew pretty quick in 07 & 08 but I was mistreating it so it wasn't very cute & it broke off. Now it's beyond shoulder length, healthy and its growing!!! Yes we can have beautiful black hair as long as we treat it like we have some sense :-)