Decisions, decisions- big changes ahead

23:52 Naija girl next door 7 Comments

Hello people, how body?
    I'm 9 months into my transition now (hellurr my hair had a baby) and I really thought things would be going very differently at this point. I used to do 6-month stretches between relaxer touch-ups so that kind of prepared me, but I also remember thinking that any more new growth would drive me up the wall.
     I thought by now I would be exclusively doing long term protective styles like braids and marley twists, or have cornrows permanently under a wig, but here I am still styling my own hair.

   As I get more reacquainted with my natural texture, I'm beginning to see the need for some changes. Here are my thoughts:
   On combs: I'm going comb-free. Hold on, I'm not becoming a rasta. I'm looking into finger detangling exclusively. The more I handle my new kinks, the more convinced I get that this hair type wasn't exactly meant to be really combed. 

I have the most breakage when I comb. I try to be careful and patient but I hear a few snaps and see hair that broke off at the demarcation line between relaxed and natural hair. There are naturals who are comb-free and swear by it. Others say it takes too long and they just can't.

I didn't find anyone transitioning comb-free. With two different textures I think we are the most prone to tangles so this might seem like a plan to run mad. However, I'm giving it a four-wash-day trial and then I'll know if it's a keeper or if I'll run weeping back to my wide-toothed comb. This is going to alter my wash day pattern.

  On wash days: I'm getting really tired of hopping in the shower twice. I've decided to start deep conditioning on dry hair and then get in the shower once to rinse+cowash or shampoo+quick condition. It has already taken effect. Once I decided on the comb-free plan, the new pattern was final. Reason: my hair has more opportunities to tangle with all of that handling when wet. This cuts down on it.

  On product smells- please does this happen to anyone else? You love/like/are indifferent about a smell, and then it starts to progressively bother you until you almost can't stand it? It's happening to me with two of my staples. I am tired of the citrus smell of my ORS conditioner and my Nigerian black PKO is just driving me mad with that smoky smell that just won't wash out! It has a high amount of ash and I'm tired of my hair smelling like village firewood.
Solution: I love what it does to my hair so when this batch is used up, I'll order from Natural Nigerian. They carry PKO that isn't black and smoky.

On product ingredients: Buckle up for a lecture. In a perfect world every single thing I use would be chemical-free. My skin care routine is as natural as it gets. While I read labels of most things and try avoid ingredients that have been reported to be harmful, I can't say I have been as vigilant with my hair products. A preservative here, an artificial fragrance there- there's been compromise.

Here's why I'm concerned:
A chemical considered safe today could be carcinogenic tomorrow. Cancer rates are so high in this generation. There has to be a link.

Take triclosan- an antibacterial ingredient common in everything labeled "antibacterial" from dishwashing liquid to deodorant to toothpaste, never mind that antibacterial products are not exactly necessary in everyday life and haven't been proven to be better than common soap, but let's focus. Triclosan has become increasingly linked to adverse health issues ranging from skin irritation to endocrine changes (and therefore cancer possibly). It's also been reported toxic to the environment in canada- water pollution, disturbance to acquatic life etc. It's been banned from consumer products in Minnesota. Who knows when it'll be looked into in Nigeria?
My point is, it was considered safe a couple of years ago.
  Parabens- My CON argan oil shampoo contains methylparaben and propylparaben. They are preservatives used in food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products. They have been linked to breast cancer because they were found in tumor samples. You can google and read more on that. Yeah, they say the quantity in a product isn't enough to do all that. Maybe. But how about if it's in my deodorant, my shampoo, conditioner, every single article of makeup I own? Doesn't it add up? I'm not a toxicologist but for my own peace of mind, I'd rather not be exposed at all or at least reduce it to a minimum. If I can find paraben-free alternatives, I'm taking them. Like my St Ives body wash.
  Ethanolamines :You may have seen mono-, di- or triethanolamine (MEA, DEA TEA) in stuff. TEA is in my ORS replenishing conditioner and I know I've seen Cocamide DEA in something I own but I can't find it now. They're emulsifiers- help water and oil mix- and common in everything basically. Soaps, shampoos, makeup, etc. They can react with other ingredients to form a carcinogen (NDEA) that causes liver cancers and kidney tumors in rats and mice.
 Yes they say it doesn't mean it'll cause the same in humans perhaps due to quantity but here's what I think- once again it adds up.
 Also, soak a rat in shea butter or olive oil daily and see if it causes cancer. DEA also affects male fertility by causing an abnormality in sperms which hinders their ability to swim.
Methylisothiazilinone (MIT) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT)- both in my ORS again. They are powerful preservatives. There has been evidence of MIT being neurotoxic ie causing death of certain brain cells. Both CMIT and MIT are allergens and can cause skin reactions.

   There are many more of course so if you're concerned about any ingredient in your products, please look online. The reason some of these things are still in products is because the exposure is less in cosmetics than what is normally required to cause problems. You know my thoughts on that.
I'm just saying be aware and make an informed decision, not necessarily toss all your products in the trash instantly.

  The inference after all this story is that I no longer feel at ease with even 'safe' chemicals and will from now on go for products that are all natural unless I am hard pressed. That's just me.
    I'll use up the ones I have (waste not, want not) while searching for a sustainable supply of organic products (Deodorant and makeup will be the hardest. Sigh).
   Whatever I do, you guys will read it here. Any thoughts? Contrary views? More info? Please drop a line below :)


I style: two-strand twists on transitioning hair

10:40 Naija girl next door 10 Comments

Let me take a second to say a big fat thank you to all of you who read this blog, leave comments, contact me personally to ask questions, or to send your hair pictures and say thank you. You guys are the butter on my bread and I will find a way to appreciate you soon.

    So. After I took down my bun, hair was still soft and moisturised, but my new growth had shrunk all the way up because I didn't stretch it. I wasn't about to struggle with that in the name of an updo.
I was standing in front of the mirror by almost 10pm and decided to put in two-strand twists. The style I chose is one I planned to try soon with extensions, but this time I did it with just my hair.

  I sectioned with my fingers only, no comb, because I didn't want those clearly defined parts. I like the full look that undefined roots give on natural hair.

(Tip) I started with the front and twisted forwards so they fell on my face. This is key if you want volume in front for styling. If you twist to the back they'll lie flat.

Then I put in three short cornrows on each side. I had gone halfway before I remembered I should moisturise and seal. Sigh. I started moisturising each section with my L'ozrael Hair Rescue and sealing with my shea butter mix.
    The style took me two hours and I finished still standing in front of the mirror.
The next morning I got a chance to peruse my handwork.
   I loved how plump the twists were at the top where my natural hair is, and disliked how they tapered at the tips where the relaxed hair is, to almost a single strand.
I pinned the ends under to hide them.

The next day I wasn't having any of that limpness and I used my hair scissors to snip off the thin ends of the twists. I'm getting very scissor-happy these days. Call me miss Snippety.
I now felt more comfortable wearing them down.

How I cared for them-
Fam, everything is easier in twists.
1. I was moisturising and sealing everyday because it was so easy. No struggling to get under mounds and mounds of new growth.
2. I cowashed and deep conditioned mid-week. Also the easiest task in twists. Hair was purring with moisture and satisfaction. The process loosened up some of the twists so after drying I redid those.
3. I covered with my satin scarf at night.
4. Though I enjoyed wearing them down around my shoulders some days, I always put them back up after say, 2 hours of letting them hang. Gotta keep those ends alive.
A day before takedown

I kept them in for 8 days until wash day. I will definitely do this again soon. What's your favourite protective style?


Ayurveda to the rescue

09:50 Naija girl next door 11 Comments

Hey everyone, how's it going?

Last week I knew I would have to alter wash day to deal with my scalp issues from the weave- itchiness, areas of tiny painful bumps and shedding.
 I turned to ayurveda which is all about healing and nourishment.
  These treatments call for mixing with warm water as I did here, but some weeks ago there was some fresh milk at home that no one was drinking fast enough, so I thought why not?
I used milk instead and treated my friend Anne's hair and mine. Powders+ milk+ coconut oil+ olive oil.
The mix was creamier, no more of that slight gritty sensation. Anne is almost fully natural, with soft and fine (thin) strands. The treatment made her curls pop like I'd never seen it before.
Anne's hair

  Here's how this one went :
Out of the powders I have, I picked three. They have other benefits of course, but these are the characteristics I needed:
1. Shikakai. an effective but mild natural cleanser. It lifts impurities and is ph balanced so won't alter or irritate.
2. Brahmi. It is believed to strengthen hair at the roots and stop hair fall.
3. Methi. In addition to strengthening roots, "it soothes the scalp and gets rid of itchy red bumps on the scalp caused by heat or dryness." I was so happy to see this online! Mine was caused by tension but an itchy red bump is an itchy red bump.

   I repeated it this time with warm milk (milk is known to soothe) and the same oils. Instead of following a recipe I just watch as I go to get that spreadable consistency.
Tip : If you add a little too much liquid by mistake, leave it to sit and it will absorb and get thicker. No need to use up all your supply.

    I applied it gently to my scalp- practically painted it- no rubbing the poor thing, and coated my hair as well. I covered with a shower cap and chilled for an hour+.
I rinsed out, then cowashed with Beauty Formulas Apricot conditioner.
    Wrapped in a towel for 10 minutes or so to get out the excess water.
    Dc with my staple- ORS Replenishing conditioner + palm kernel oil. Covered with a shower cap, wrapped in a big towel for warmth and slept off for over two hours.
      I rinsed out and did a final dilute ACV rinse. Apple cider vinegar is also known to calm protesting scalps.
About 10% of the dc was still in.

I wrapped in a towel again then sealed with my oil mix when it was damp. My hair just didn't need the LOC method this time. It was strengthened and well conditioned. I had very few tangles so detangling was fast. I let it air dry in a loose bun.

   How was my scalp by this time? Splendid. The itching was long gone, I couldn't feel the bumps anymore and the tenderness had all but disappeared, save for a spot at the centre but even that was calmer and by morning it was gone. The shedding didn't stop completely but it reduced to a level I was comfortable with.
I happily left my hair in a bun and just accessorised with a scarf the next day.

  So what do you think? Have you tried ayurvedic treatments? Do you plan to?
Make my day with your comments :)


Hair update: first flat-iron in years and the weave that made it happen

17:45 Naija girl next door 20 Comments

Hi everyone,
Hope you're all healthy and happy.
    Let me tell you what happened with my weave. I went to the salon on thursday with my hair well moisturised, detangled and even combed; my new growth was stretched from threading. All this to make it easier for whomever would land me as a customer, and of course for my peace.

     I got a nice hair stylist. She was very polite and listened as I explained before sitting: how to comb my hair, and how I wanted it as loose as possible. I even absolved her of any responsibility if the sew-in didn't last: "Don't worry about it, make the plaits loose, I'm only carrying the hair for a very short time". For extra security I left out my edges. Growing them back is not beans.
   It appeared to go okay- whenever I complained, she would go easy. She was attentive and fast too.  Then came time to straighten my leave-out (centre parting). I wasn't readyyyy... hadn't even thought about it. I hadn't straightened in almost 4 years you see. I needed a minute.

    She used raw shea butter on my hair, and did 3 passes of the flat iron on each of the 3 sections she divided into. I cringed all through but in the end it was fine and my hair blended well with the wavy Indian hair (I used 2 bundles of colour 1b. 20" and 22" which I've had for almost a year and never used before).
Right after straightening
 Day 1. It didn't feel tight when I left but by evening I had developed a headache that lasted 2 more days. By the end of the day my hair had started to revert to its normal texture.
Day 2. My scalp started to itch and the weave seemed to be getting tighter and tighter. By nightfall you could have sworn my leave-out was never flat-ironed.

Mo's wedding day- After makeup, before hair
Day 3. Wedding day! May I just say at this point that the bride was one of the most beautiful brides ever. Those who follow my personal Ig account have seen the pics and know I had a lot of fun that day. Congrats Mo :*
    As for my hair, it had to be straightened again! I resisted and whined through the whole thing. The guy was like "Oh you're doing the natural thing. Don't worry I'm using shea butter". I saw smoke and was too stricken to respond.
Monica if this is not love, I don't know what love is.
All done
I liked the look all in all. Professional makeup makes me look sooo different. I hardly ever go for a shiny lip myself but this was cool. I'm more of a matte lip girl. When I do glossy I go for barely-there colours. With makeup I tend to keep things minimal so I felt all dolled up and extra pretty.

Day 4. My scalp was itchier than ever. It was tight like you wouldn't believe. I kept trying to ease the tension with my hands. It didn't help. The headache was replaced by a different pain more to the surface- my scalp was peppery.
Day 5. I was losing it. My leave-out was drier than ever. I hadn't been moisturising to delay reversion but it was reverting anyway so I moisturised and sealed and was relieved to see my curls and kinks come back unharmed. My scalp on the other hand was being persecuted. I rubbed in some coconut + olive oil to which a few drops of peppermint oil had been added. The tingling brought some relief.
Day 6. I felt tiny bumps on areas where I had felt the most tension- my right temple, part of my nape, centre of my head. Some hair had been pulled clean off the roots! The bumps were itchy and painful at the same time. Scalp still itched and it hurt to even tap the weave. I had lots to do that day so I couldn't even take it out.
Day 7. Very early in the morning I woke up and freed my hair from bondage. Sweet relief! There was so much shed hair including, I'm sure, the ones that didn't shed naturally but were pulled off. When I was done I gently put my hair in a loose bun and let it be to let my scalp get some rest from the assault.
   I don't think I can take sew-ins anymore. Not like I was ever big on them but now? Ha. No. I'm turning them into wigs once I get the chance. In fact, it'll take a lot to let someone else do my hair again (trust issues). l'm just glad I left out my edges.
 Question- is shea butter a heat protectant?
Love to hear from you :) <3


Wash Day Files: Prepping for the hairdresser

23:40 Naija girl next door 7 Comments

Hi people!
I hope you had as fantastic a weekend as I did. I was in Benin city for my friend Monica's wedding (Congrats again Mo! HML) and I had the best time. I was a bridesmaid so you know there's a hair story coming up in my next post. However, this wash day was related to it.

   I was told that we the bridesmaids would be wearing a sew-in weave. I haven't had one since January and before the news, I didn't think it would happen in the forseeable future. Ah well, plans change.
 I had a busy week ahead and my trip was set for friday so I had wash day on tuesday.  
 To strengthen my hair against manipulation I wanted a protein treatment so wash day was about that.
Wash- with my CON argan oil shampoo. I didn't prepoo because I wanted gunk-free hair for my protein treatment. I wrapped my wet hair in a towel until it was just damp.
Protein treatment- one large egg + mustard oil. I applied in very small sections to make sure no strand was left out. I would do a section, two-strand twist it and move to the next. Covered with a plastic cap for 30 minutes.
co-wash- Beauty Formulas Apricot conditioner. The twists made it sooo easy to get at my scalp and roots. I'll try this method more often.
Tshirt dried for 30 minutes, hair was damp when I applied my leave - ins.
Leave - ins : L : L'ozrael Hair Rescue
                    C : my minty shea butter cream
                     O : coconut and olive oil mix
Detangled with my fingers and then a wide toothed comb.
Stretched my hair by threading, put on a satin scarf and was done.
The next day I undid the threads and this time I didn't use a comb to separate the sections (whoop!)
Just beginning to separate the sections
I just applied a little more oil to my fingers and it all fluffed out nicely. I wanted to avoid tangles by all means so I didn't fuss afterward. I put my hair in a ponytail with a hair elastic and wrapped it up in a big bun with no pins, just tucked the ends under.

     Later in the day it started to unravel and I had to keep putting it back in place. I should have used pins, silly me.
The day after was thursday. The day I got the weave installed (Read this with an action movie soundtrack playing in the background. No seriously.)
Post coming up.
How was your wash day ladies? Join the wash day experience here.