14 Apr

Hot Head Microwave Cap Review and Giveaway!

Deep conditioning is your hair’s best friend. The old school method of deep conditioning is to sit under a dryer or heating cap plugged into the wall. The problem with that is its so…..restricting!

Now, we have Hot Head…

Enter the new millennium and now you can deep condition your hair while on the go (and no, I don’t mean with just a plastic baggy and a scarf).

Thanks to innovators like ThermalHairCare, you can get a thorough deep conditioning session with as much heat as the old school heating caps that kept you tethered to a chair.

The founder (a professional hairstylist) of ThermalHairCare has created Hot Head, a microwaveable heating cap. It’s special in that it’s filled with renewable flax seeds which generate heat when warmed up in the microwave. It’s reusable and environmentally friendly so you can deep condition your hair with a clean conscience (unlike those evil people who use aerosol hairspray! LOL)

ThermalHairCare sent me the Hot Head to review and they are also gracious enough to host a giveaway. Before we get to the giveaway details, watch my video demo of the Hot Head in action:

I’m also reviewing Eden’s Heart Damage Control: Intense Moisture Mask. I’m using it as my deep conditioning protein treatment of choice. Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog so you can be alerted of the full video review. 

My Thoughts on Hot Head Deep Conditioning Cap

I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that I can do errands around the house while deep conditioning my hair. The Hot Head Deep Conditioning cap provided a consistent source of heat across my entire head. My only qualm is that initially, it felt a little too hot on the top of my head. It did however quickly cool.

I also didn’t experience 45 minutes of heat as claimed. I found that the Hot Head only stayed hot and then warm for about 20 minutes. (I do wonder if I had put the Hot Head cap on with the terry cloth side toward my scalp if it would have stayed hot longer. Hmmm. I’ll definitely try it next time.) This is not an issue for me because I typically only deep condition for 15-20 minutes anyway. Plus, you could always pop it back in the microwave to extend the time the cap stays hot.

Now about that giveaway. It’s simple. To be entered to win this, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Visit ThermalHairCare and check out the Hot Head Deep Conditioning Caps here 
  2. Leave a comment below (or on the video comments section on YouTube) sharing which color/style you’d choose if you win.

That’s all you need to do to be entered to win. BUT, you can increase your chances of winning by doing the optional activities listed in the Rafflecopter.

Hot Head Microwave Cap

NOTE: All entries will be checked. If you do not follow the simple directions, unfortunately, your entry will be discarded.

22 Oct

Naturals: Create Your SheMergency Glam Survival Kit!

Ever wonder what it is you need to have with you in the case of a beauty emergency? Maybe you just want to be prepared to “support” your hair and skin while away from home in the event of a crisis. I got you, girl.

Naturals-Glam-Survival-Kit

Naturals, this emergency Glam Survival Kit Info-graphic contains the basics you need to pack an emergency beauty care bag that you can take with you every day. Always keep it stocked. You never know when a true beauty emergency may arise.

17 Oct

A Henna-fied Weekend of My Crown and Glory

This past weekend, I tried a new brand of henna. Normally, I use either Henna for African Hair by Celebration Sunrise or Jamila that I get from Mehandi.com

Finding it difficult to curb product junkyism, I scooped up another brand (Rajasthani) that I found over at Ayur Natural Beauty. They carry a number of ayurvedic treatments and their prices are among the best I’ve seen online.

rajasthani henna

I only purchased 100 grams because I wanted to make sure I liked it before investing in more. So can I just say I just LOVE this henna? The sift is super fine (no trouble rinsing out), it was gentle on my scalp (hey finally!) AND (with attitude) my hair was left super soft.  I will definitely be purchasing this brand A-gain!

A Word on Good Quality Henna

If you’re unaware of what makes henna a good quality for staining and strengthening your hair, keep these in mind:

* The henna should be Body Art Quality (BAQ). Run like the wind if it says Henna hair coloring or something of the link. Henna is not a hair coloring. It is an herb with the ability to deposit color onto your hair.

* The henna should have a pretty high lawsone (dye) content. The Rajasthani henna is a whopping 2.9%. The Henna for African Hair is 2.2%. Jamila has been slipping. It was as low as 1.19%

* Should be free of pesticides or other contaminants.

* Should have a super fine sift and sealed in airtight bags. If the sift isn’t very fine, you’ll be pissed because you’ll have to rinse your hair for an hour to get it out.

So, I’ve been doing henna for about 5 months and have noticed an increase in my hair’s shine and an improvement in my hair’s texture. I took my time with this new henna and here are the results:

Hair is growing (stay tuned for the length check posts)

michelle-leadhair oct2011-henna (1)

Still trying to perfect the twist out

Why I Do What I Do

Before I wrap this up, I wanted to share why I do all the things that I do to my hair. Hopefully, it will enlighten someone.  My reasons are actually only A Reason.  Your hair is your crown and glory. God blessed you with a body and you should take care of it to the best of your ability.

I have not only been paying attention to my hair with the fierceness. I’ve started a new healthy eating, exercise and spiritual way of living. It is my goal to be a well-rounded person by honoring God with my entire being. Will you join me?

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.

Styling

  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):

back-sidebun

black-white-sidebun

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?

JBCO-protein-conditioner

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.
26 Sep

Bun Hairstyles

HOTD: 1 Bun, 3 Different Styles

Today’s HOTD (Stands for Hairstyle of The Day – just in case you’re slow like me lol…I couldn’t figure out OOTD on fashion blogs for a minute) is a number of looks of sorts. They are based in the simplicity of one of my protective hairstyles – The Bun.

The following 3 hairstyles are achieved by setting the hair in a bun with either a banana clip or satin scrunchie in different locations on the head. Then I added different hair accessories for accent.

Here’s the 1st Hairstyle:

It pays to live in NY. I can virtually any type of hair accessory around. There are so many spots to buy them. The best part is they only cost from $1-$3.

side-pinnedcurl-bun

pincurled-bun

2 More Hairstyles:

I threw a cornrow in the front for a little variation. Still simple.bun3

I’m realizing the more I manipulate my hair, the more it breaks. So, I’m trying to protect my ends by using low manipulation protective styling as much as possible. Without doing so, I won’t reach my goal of mid back and breast length by end of year.

This simple bun was created with a satin scrunchy and bobby pins to pin curl. I used Murray’s Beeswax Cream and Jane Carter’s Nourish and Shine to Smooth my edges and eliminate frizzies. Yes, simplicity at it’s finest.

I have plenty more with more accessories but didn’t want to use them all up in one post so stay tuned.

26 Sep

The Benefits of Natural Oils for Healthy Hair

In the quest for maintaining healthy hair, I’ve discovered that natural oils can play a huge role in protecting your hair in a number of ways. Natural oils should be a part of your staple line of hair care products because they work locking, sealing, preventing and boosting:

To lock in moisture on wash day
To seal your ends on wash day
Prevent tangling and help with detangling
* Prevent breakage by providing necessary slip when dry styling
Boost your conditioner’s effectiveness

Oils in general help to lubricate the hair (notice I didn’t say moisturize). I’ve even read articles about mineral oil being helpful. However, I refrain from it because it does my hair no good whatsoever.

There are many oils that you can use to keep your hair healthy including those of an ayurvedic nature. Ayurvedic oils are best when not mixed with any sort of preservatives or other “contaminants.”

hairoils

Here are the oils I use (notice most are Ayurvedic or 100% natural):

  • Brahmi Oil for use in a henna gloss
  • Olive and Jamaican Black Castor Oil(JBCO) for scalp massages. JBCO is also used to seal my ends.
  • Strong Roots Red Pimento Oil – I’m newly using this to see if it helps with my itchy scalp.
  • Vatican Oil for my pre-poo (pre-shampoo for those new to natural hair care)
  • Argan Oil to complete my hairstyles – you get amazing shine with this
  • Burt’s Bees Nourishing Baby Oil (nothing like that stuff with mineral oil in it) to work through my hair daily to prevent tangles. It contains: Apricot kernel oil, Grapeseed oil, Wheat germ oil, Fragrance, Sunflower seed oil, Rosemary leaf extract, Vitamin E, Soybean oil, beta-carotene, Canola oil, and Limonene (comes from the skin of citrus fruits)
  • Carol’s Daughter Lisa’s Hair Elixir (a combination of Soybean oil, Sweet Almond oil, Olive Fruit oil, Peppermint oil, Sage oil, Rosemary Leaf oil, and perfume fragrance) to prevent flyaways and frizz when taking out my twist outs or braid outs. It’s also great fabulous smelling hair! I alternate it with the Burt’s Bees
17 Jun

When Hair and Skin Play Nice Together

For the past few months, I’ve been really focused on my hair. I joined the Kim Coles Growout Challenge after completing the Radiant Skin Challenge.  I have been very careful not to use heat on my hair while also taking extra special care of it (co-washing, henna-ing etc.).

Yeah, I know. I am usually all about talking skincare but lately, my hair has bee at the forefront of my thoughts. A hair/skin junkie? Maybe.

At any rate, I wanted to share the best way to get your hair and your skin to play nice. Simple. Protective styling.

How Protective Hair Styling Protects Your Hair

If you wear your hair out a lot, it’s constantly rubbing up against your skin – the back of your neck, the sides of your face and your forehead if you wear bangs. Loose hair will interfere with good skin care (hey, that rhymes)

Of course, wearing your hair out has its place but if you wear protective styles, you are helping your skin by eliminating contact with germs that are found in/on the hair.

Now some people think of protective styles as braids or up-dos. Well, if your ends aren’t tucked, it’s not really protective style. That’s not to say your ends can never be exposed either.  There are up-do styles where the ends are exposed but if your hair is going to play nicely with your skin, there can be no contact.

Everything from up-dos, to pinned twists and pinned curls will work great for your hair and for your skin.

hair-skin-play-nice 1

More Tips to Care for Your Skin and Hair Simultaneously

So what happens when you don’t wear a protective style?  How do you get your hair and skin to play nicely then?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Wash your hair regularly to prevent product and germ buildup which can interact with your skin
  • Avoid using hair (and skin) products that are heavily laced with chemicals
  • Aim to keep your hair moisturized, not greased. Greasy hair does nothing for you but clogs your pores.

hair-skin-play-nice 2

Here are some styles I’ve worn lately (nothing too fancy but my skin and hair play nice!):