31 Oct

27 Things You Can Do To Improve, Protect and Keep Your Hair On Your Head

Similar to 37 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Skin’s Appearance, here are 27 things you can do to improve your hair and keep it from shedding too rapidly or breaking off. The Goal: To keep your hair on your head.

Not including the obvious elimination of chemical treatments, this comprehensive list contains all you need to maintain a healthy head of hair. They are categorized by care/maintenance and styling.

staple-hair-items oct2011-henna

Care and Maintenance

  1. Nix shampoos with sulfates. It doesn’t matter if your hair is natural or relaxed. Sulfates strip the hair of needed moisture and oil.
  2. Pre-poo (pre-shampoo) your hair with coconut oil or olive oil. Coconut oil helps hair retain its moisture. Both natural oils protect the hair from being stripped when you shampoo.
  3. Deep condition your hair with a moisturizing deep conditioner after every wash.
  4. Get a protein treatment.For maintenance, you can do this once a month or more if your hair is breaking.
  5. Trim away split ends as necessary but don’t get a trim for the sake of trimming. If your goal is to retain length, you’ll only be cutting off the perfectly good hair. The less you do to damage your hair, the less you’ll need to trim it.
  6. No microfiber or towel drying. Contrary to popular belief, microfiber rips the hair out. It acts like velcro to our tresses! Towel drying frizzes the hair. Either air dry or use an old t-shirt.
  7. Refrigerate your leave in conditioner. A cold leave-in will help to seal your hair’s cuticle after washing. This is extremely helpful if you can’t take a cold water rinse. It will also increase the shine in your hair.
  8. Oil your hair with a light natural oil daily. Jojoba is light and helps keep the hair tangle free.
  9. Seal your ends with Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I have found this oil to be the best at protecting the ends from splitting. It’s so thick and protective, causing the ends to clump together. Seal after every wash and before styling.
  10. Massage your scalp to stimulate your hair follicles 2-3 times a week. Some believe this encourages hair growth. I have not found it to be so one way or another but it certainly can’t help and it does increase the blood flow to your scalp.
  11. Take a multi-vitamin with Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is believed to extend the lifespan of your individual hairs while also alleviating dry scalp.
  12. Never sleep on your hair loose. It’s more prone to tangling and breakage. Tie it up and…
  13. Make satin your hair’s best friend. Sleeping in a satin scarf, bonnet or on a satin pillowcase prevents your hair’s moisture from being robbed.
  14. Moisturize your hair as needed. Use your sense of touch to tell. If it feels dry, moisturize. If you are chemically relaxed, you may need to do so 1-2 times daily. Natural hair may only require moisturizing every couple days.
  15. Don’t use too many different brands. When your hair begins responding, you want to know what’s working. In other words, curtail your PJ (product junkie) ways.
  16. Eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Good for your hair and skin too. Keeps both pliable.
  17. Try henna.  I’ve been giving my hair henna treatments for about 6 months now. My hair health is improved along with an amazing strength and shine.
  18. Clarify monthly. Hair products build up on the hair and every now and then the hair needs to be thoroughly cleansed. Especially, if you only co-wash (condition wash). You can either use a clarifying shampoo once a month or add a tablespoon of baking soda to your hair while shampooing. Apple cider vinegar is another option.


  1. Protective style your hair. Wear simple styles that offer little manipulation of your tresses and hide your ends which are the oldest parts of your hair. Buns and up-dos are classic.
  2. Stop heat styling your hair. Air drying is the best thing you can do to keep your hair on your head. Limit heat styling to rare special occasions.
  3. Never comb or brush dry hair to style. Finger comb or wear hair in twist outs, twists, braids or braids out to minimize breakage.
  4. Comb hair from the bottom up. When your hair is soaking with conditioner, you can comb it with a large tooth comb or Denman brush to detangle. Do so carefully, working from the bottom up.
  5. Never ever tease your hair. This is a cardinal sin against natural hair.
  6. Don’t pull hair apart like a wishbone.  If your hair is tangled, gently pull it up and apart instead of pulling it apart like would a wishbone.
  7. Use hair accessories with no hanging parts or exposed metal. Banana clips, Satin Scrunchies, Goodie Flex Barrettes, Ouchless bobby pins & Ouchless elastic bands are the best for styling hair so that it does not get damaged.
  8. Avoid pulling hair tight at the hairline. Doing so will recede your hairline and damage the follicles permanently.
  9. Check your nails. Hanging nails will damage hair. Always make sure your nails are smooth and even before hair styling.

Got any hair tips you’d like to add to the list? Do share how you take care of and do YOUR hair in the comments below!

22 Oct

Easy Textured Banana Clipped Protective Style

Natural hair is so versatile.  What’s great is with all the protective styles available to you, there’s no reason you can’t come up with a new style every week!  I thoroughly enjoy discovering new ways to style my hair.

Protective styling your hair is also protective for your skin. The less your hair is hanging in your face, on your shoulders or on your neck, the less of a chance you have for germs to be introduced onto your skin.  That means a reduced chance of getting a pimple.  Score.

So, I said all that to say check out this style I did the other day (notice my attempt at sepia and b&w lol):



I achieved this minimal protective style with 3 simple accessories: The Banana Clip (remember when these came in colors?), Goodie Ouchless Bobby Pins and a cheapie headband I forgot I had.

What’s great about the banana clip is you can achieve a much fuller bun with it. Of course, you have to have enough length to wrap it around but as long as you can get half of the hair around once in one direction and the other half around in the other direction, all you have to do is pin and you’re good.

Have you or do you ever use the banana clip in any of your hairstyles?

18 Oct

The Shocking Truth About Protein Use on Your Hair

There’s great debate scurrying around the hair community about the use of protein on the hair. Naturals who have difficulty with hair breakage or brittle hair will often blame it on the use of protein in hair products.  It’s been termed protein sensitivity.  I don’t usually write exhaustively long posts but protein has received a bad rap and it’s time to clear it up.

Overview of The Basic Structure of Hair

Hair is composed of approximately 91% protein made up of long chains of amino acids. As the cells in your hair mature, they fill up with a fibrous protein called keratin. Keratin that is found in hair is an insoluble protein called “hard” keratin because it doesn’t dissolve in water and is very resilient.

Since your hair is predominantly structured of protein, it makes sense that if your hair became protein deficient at any point in time, only a protein treatment could help remedy the problem – if even temporarily.

The Role of Protein

Protein conditioners have one job and one job only – To Strengthen Your Hair through temporary reconstruction.  When used properly, the protein molecules in a deep conditioner will bond to the hair and strengthen it.  Will it feel hard? Yes.  Is it supposed to? Yes.  How you treat your hair after a protein treatment is just as important, if not more as for how you apply it.

How to Properly Protein Treat Your Hair


protein in hair

Protein should ONLY be part of a deep conditioning treatment that you use to strengthen your hair.  Leave In Conditioners, Serums, Curl Enhancers etc, should NOT contain protein. Why? Because protein should only be used with heat as part of a treatment to strengthen the hair.

When you deep condition your hair after washing it, heat is used to swell the hair follicles open, at which time the protein molecules can bond within the hair shaft.  Hair product manufacturers have added protein to any and every product to convince you that the product will help you grow your hair (because after all, it contains super protein)

If you apply for a leave in or other “surface” treating the product with protein in it, your hair will feel hard and brittle.  The brittle, hard hair is then susceptible to additional hair breakage – defeating the purpose of using protein in the first place.

And…wait for it…It-Will-Stay-That-Way causing you to have what you think is ”protein sensitivity” until you wash and use a moisturizing conditioner to soften it. That’s because the application of the products containing protein (other than a deep conditioner)  sits right on top of your hair shaft.

Now, that you clearly understand the role of protein, here are some tips to make sure you apply a protein conditioner properly:

  • After washing, detangling, towel (or t-shirt, paper towel etc) drying and sectioning your hair, apply a protein based conditioner.
  • Be careful not to over manipulate the hair. Do not comb or brush the conditioner into your hair. Only use your hands – carefully.
  • Cover hair with a plastic cap (unless the instructions state otherwise.  Ex: Aphogee) and sit under a dryer for 30 minutes minimum
  • Rinse hair thoroughly with warm water, allowing the shower head to do most of the work.
  • Next and Most Important: Apply a moisturizing softening conditioner that’s protein free to your hair and allow it to sit on the hair for 15 minutes (You can finish your shower ritual during this time). This will balance your hair’s protein with moisture. It needs both.
  • Rinse hair with cool water.
  • Apply a protein-free leave in conditioner that will pH balance your hair followed by any styling cream as final steps

After applying a moisturizing conditioner that softens, you’ll find that previously strawlike hair is now softened, more pliable and ready for styling. Only after applying the moisturizing conditioner should you begin to manipulate your hair.

It’s also not necessary to do a protein conditioning treatment every time you wash your hair UNLESS you are constantly redamaging it with the use of chemicals, brushes or heat stylers.  Otherwise, once a month at minimum is sufficient for maintenance.

What Products Should You Use?


At the risk of being repetitive but necessarily so, protein-based conditioners should only be used as part of a deep treatment process requiring the use of heat. The only way to know for sure that you are not using other products containing protein is to read the ingredient labels.

DO NOT trust what the manufacturer says about their products. Product claims can run from over-exaggerate to downright outlandish. The ingredient label is what you need to give your full attention to.

By law, the manufacturer must disclose what formulates their products.  However, the law does not address the fast and footloose way manufacturers dance within the shades of grey when “marketing” their products.

The two products that I’ve found to be very effective at strengthening the hair and putting an end to breakage are Aphogee and Jamaican Black Castor Oil Protein Conditioner. Apogee should be used as more of an emergency product when breakage has gotten out of control.  JBCO Protein conditioner is a great maintenance product.

So, do I believe in protein sensitivity?  That’s a negative.  I believe that women needed to justify the hard and brittle condition they found their hair in after improperly using protein or using it too often.

Educating yourself about the products you are using is a very important step if your goal is to grow and maintain a healthy head of hair.

UPDATE: When I first wrote this article, I did so with the goal of exposing protein sensitivity as a myth. I did, however, neglect a few key points that I should have included:

  • The higher the protein ingredient (hydrolyzed or otherwise) is on the list, the stronger the treatment will be.
  • After a protein treatment, even though you’ve followed with a moisturizing deep conditioning, your hair will not feel as soft as you are used to.  However, that will remedy itself in a few days once your protein/moisture balance is achieved. Just continue to moisturize your hair daily.
04 Oct

37 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Skin…Yes 37

Healthier skin doesn’t have to be a misnomer. Sometimes you just need someone to provide you with a few helpful tips on how to improve your skin!

Improve Your Skin

Well here’s 37 of them to help you on your quest to improved skin’s health:

  1. Use skin care products for sensitive skin (even if you don’t have sensitive skin). They are usually formulated without harsh chemicals.
  2. Stop falling asleep in makeup (even mineral makeup).
  3. See an esthetician.
  4. Drink more water (preferably half your body weight in ounces daily).
  5. Stop eating processed foods (at least cut this out most of the time).
  6. Wear your hair away from your face.
  7. Never scrub your skin. Harsh abrasives can damage and cause blemishes.
  8. Don’t use cleansers that contain sulfates that will strip your skin of its natural oils.
  9. Exfoliate your skin once per week.
  10. Always wear sunscreen when going outdoors.
  11. Invest in a good daily vitamin for skin health.
  12. Change your pillowcases several times a week and preferably sleep on a satin case (great for your hair too).
  13. Steam out your pores at least twice monthly. This will help them remain free of excess oil.
  14. Make sure water is the first ingredient in your moisturizer, followed by a natural oil.
  15. Try food on your face every now and then.
  16. Follow a skin care regimen for your skin type.
  17. Be consistent with your skin care regimen.
  18. Don’t touch your face unless you are cleansing or applying facial products.
  19. Get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly.
  20. Increase the circulation and oxygen levels in your skin with exercise (can’t believe I’m saying this one).
  21. Don’t leave toner out of your skin care regimen. It closes pores that have been opened from cleansing.
  22. See a dermatologist.
  23. Educate yourself and get to know your skin’s conditions and concerns.
  24. Load your diet up with foods rich in essential fatty acids.
  25. Keep your moisture levels balanced to prevent wrinkles.
  26. Keep your hair out of your face.
  27. Use pore cleansing strips to remove blackheads and whiteheads.
  28. Replace expired skin care products.
  29. Use facial products that contain collagen and elastin.
  30. Avoid or minimize stress.
  31. Take antioxidants internally and externally.
  32. Try ayurvedic skin care.
  33. Stop picking at scabs or scars.
  34. Try a little concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone.
  35. Go alcohol-free.
  36. Start using face products from Blended Naturals
  37. Be patient with your skin and don’t rush the process.