Decisions, decisions- big changes ahead

August 24, 2014 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 :)


  1. Going comb free isn't actually bad. I'm enjoying it because I actually have a curl pattern now, and its great on my tender scalp. The trick is to keep hair stretched to prevent tangles.

    How long are you going to transition for?

    1. Oh goody, a fellow transitioner :D
      Thanks for the tip. I don't have a date marked to chop off the relaxed ends, I'm just taking it as it comes

  2. "soak a rat in olive oil and shea butter and see if it it catches cancer" <- lol ( ._.)
    Natural Nigerian has this new Thai Crystal deo on her blog. None of the ingredients have been linked to cancer, and if she trusts it, I guess it's good. You should check it out.

    Good luck going organic. It's good that you're trying to go green and clean with everything, not just hair. Some people don't want parabens in their hair products and are unaware of the fact that they use deodorants, lotion and lipstick with parabens.

    I think my awareness is in stages. I stay away from parabens and mineral oil, but my hair loves silicones. Organic is best but right now, I'm really here for what works.

    1. Thanks AB, I just read reviews on that deo crystal and I'm going to try it.
      It's more like I'm going 'as organic as possible' cos I have options to replace everything but makeup and I am not about to give up lipstick!

    2. Thanks AB, I just read reviews on the crystal deo and I'll try it soon.
      It's more like I'm going 'as organic as possible' cos I have options to replace a lot of things but not makeup as yet, and I am not about to give up lipstick!

  3. Good luck in your quest to go comb free, i don't know if i can do it. As for going organic, i had to skim through the list you wrote because i don't want to avoid anymore items for now. I am already kicking out a lot of items in my life. Anyway when you find substitutes that are pocket friendly please let us know so that i can get them.

    1. Sigh. Such a hassle isn't it? I'm on the lookout sha. I'm sure when I get staples it would be like second nature