Thursday, May 17, 2018

Quest for Curls - The Max Hydration Method (Modified)

Prior to returning natural in February of 2017 I spent months scouring the internet looking for a way to get my natural curls popping without having to spend hours on wash days twisting my hair (only to re twist it every night). I knew that my wool was capable of curling on it's own but I was at a loss as to which products and techniques to employ that would encourage my curls.

My research lead me to what is known as the Maximum Hydration Method. Having been natural from 2010-2013 I was somewhat familiar with the use of Bentonite Clay to encourage curls, and had even tried it in the past but failed to see any results. Several bloggers and vloggers with type 4 curls shared their experiences with and their results of the Maximum Hydration Method, and I was confident that I too could get popping natural curls if I implemented that same method. As I mentioned in my return post, I spent a short three months transitioning and used Bentonite Clay as my cleanser during that time. Once I removed my braids and cut off the small amount of remaining relaxed ends I jumped headlong into the full Max Hydration Method (MHM).

What is the Max Hydration Method (MHM)?

For those of you who may not be familiar with the MHM I will provide a brief summary.

 MHM is a method of hair care cleansing, conditioning and styling that is touted to improve moisture levels in the hair strand thereby encouraging clumping and curling of type 4 hair. The method essentially evolves four steps that are to be done for seven consecutive days, then once every 3-7 days until maximum hydration levels are reached. According to the creator of the method, maximum hydration is reached once a single strand of hair curls from root to tip without the help of styling products. Steps of the MHM include:
  1. Cherry Lola Treatment - A mixture of full fat, plain, organic Greek yogurt; Braggs Amino Acids; and 1 Tbs baking soda. Mixture is applied to damp hair and allowed to sit for 30 minutes beneath a shower cap or plastic bag. 
  2.  Clarify - Once the Cherry Lola Treament is rinsed out clarify your strands using either an ACV rinse or Baking Soda rinse.
  3. Deep Condition - After cleansing deep condition with a quality conditioner that does not contain silicone. 
  4. Clay Treatment - Mix bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and apply to damp hair. Cover with plastic cap and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes. 
  5. Leave In Conditioner and Botanical Gel to seal and set - after thoroughly rising the clay apply a quality leave in conditioner and botanical gel (recommend Kinky Curly Knot Today & Curling Custard). Allow hair to air dry or diffuse.
Note the Cherry Lola step is only done on the FIRST DAY you begin the MHM. On days 2-7 begin with Step 2 (Clarify).

My Results with MHM

I noticed immediately that my hair did not like the Cherry Lola Treatment and I truly believe it was due to the use of baking soda. This step left my hair dry, brittle, and frizzy. After further research I discovered that when used over a long period of time baking soda can cause harm to the hair strands. Knowing the potential for harm along with the results I experienced lead me to cut this step completely from the Maximum Hydration Method. 

For steps 2 - 7 I made the following adjustments:

  • Step 2: Opted to use a ratio of 3 parts water and one part ACV to clarify
  • Step 3: Used Kera Minerals Deep Conditioner although it was not silicone free. I found this conditioner gave me excellent results. 
  • Step 4: Followed clay making steps per MHM creator's instructions
  • Step 5: Used Kinky Curly products to seal
The results after seven consecutive days of performing all five steps was a head full of soft and moisturized curls, kinks, and coils. Once the seven days were complete I moved on to performing the MHM every 3 days for a period of eight months. In all honesty I did experiment with Wetline Xtreme gel (this is NOT recommended as it is not a botanical gel) because the curling custard was not helping my hair to hold it's curls.

After eight months I finally visited my stylist for a trim and she talked me into getting a protein treatment known as the BASIC One Step Treatment that is supposed to improve manageability of tightly coiled hair (I will provide a run down of this treatment in a later post). Obviously to properly trim my hair my stylist had to blow dry and flat iron my strands and it was at this time that I saw the true effects of the MHM on my hair. It took her six hours to blow out and flat iron my hair and at the time I had a small TWA. The process was painful and as she worked the tools through my hair I could see my strands falling around me. She ended up having to remove almost 4 inches of my hair and I will never forget her surprise as she asked "What have you been doing to your hair?!" My hair was a dry, gnarled, crispy mess! My ends were eaten up with split ends and single strand knots; I have never seen my hair look that bad.

After that visit I immediately quit the MHM and have been using quality shampoos and conditioners since. Three months later I visited my stylist again for another trim and it took her 2 hours to blow dry and flat iron my strands, she only trimmed about an inch, and my strands were moisturized and shiny.

Would I recommend the MHM?

In spite of the long term effects I would still recommend the MHM to those struggling to get their curls to pop. However, I would recommend doing the method for no longer than the initial seven days. Based upon my own experiences long term use of bentonite clay and ACV may have a damaging effect on your strands.

I also still use clay but I do not do so as often. Last weekend was the first time I did a clay mask in at least six months. This time I shampooed my hair first, applied the clay mask, and only allowed it to stay on my hair for five minutes. I do intend to do this once a week for the next few weeks as I am trying to improve curl definition on the sides of my head.

Have you tried the Maximum Hydration Method? What were your results?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Lola's Back!! (& So am I)

Hello ladies!! It's been AGES since my last post and as you can see I've changed my hair once again. After three years of swearing I would never go natural again, about three months of painstaking decision making, and watching several hours of  YouTube  natural hair videos I decided to transition for 3 months then big chop.

Why I Returned to Natural

I have a lot of hair. A.LOT. And when it is in its natural state it can be overwhelming to handle (even when working in sections). I remember spending hours every Saturday washing, conditioning & styling my hair; re-twisting every night to maintain definition and moisture, never being able to straighten my own hair (I tried once and it took 12 hours), and honestly feeling like my styling options were limited to twist outs. I wanted curls y'all! I'm talking ringlet, Shirley Temple curls, and although I didn't mind using rollers or other styling tools to get those curls, it took hours and I my styling attempts were rarely successful.

After three years styling got to be boring and as I advanced in Corporate America I honestly started to feel uncomfortable being in a room full of straight haired white people with my huge afro. It wasn't until years later that I realized I was only uncomfortable because THEY were. Fast forward to 2016 and after unarmed black man # 567 was gunned down by police I started getting angry and feeling like I needed to make a statement. I no longer cared if I stood out or if my textured hair caused my co-workers discomfort. Wearing my wooly hair was a power play, a way of saying "F-you" to the system and my first step towards liberation and walking in the Truth.

The Transition Process

I transitioned for three months with box braids. Because I was already rocking short hair and I've had a TWA in the past, I wasn't worried about how I would look and the change from relaxed to natural was not a drastic one for me. I decided on a short transition period because I knew I wouldn't like dealing with two different textures over a long period of time and I find the whole idea of transitioning to be too much of a grey area for me, I need a set style to work with.

While my hair was in box braids I 'shampooed' weekly using a bentonite clay mixture that I applied only to my scalp and rinsed thoroughly. I consider this to be by far the best thing I did for my hair because it removed product build up and allowed me to begin my second natural journey with a clean slate. For those of you transitioning or thinking of returning natural I suggest the following:

  • Opt for a short transition rather than an immediate big chop - the first time I went natural I shaved my hair completely off and started fresh. I jumped in head first with products doing what I saw others on YouTube do, this was my biggest mistake. As a result I never learned what products my hair liked or how MY hair actually worked (texture-wise). Transitioning for a few months and truly offering your hair a blank slate will allow you to immediately see the potential of your strands and what you are working with.
  • Bentonite, Bentonite, Bentonite!! - This is a staple in my product regimen and I will honestly probably never use anything else to cleanse my strands. I also credit the use of bentonite clay with curl clumpage and therefore curl definition. My first time as a natural I could not get my hair to clump or curl. I knew that my hair was curly so I could not figure out why I never saw any definition outside of the shower once my strands dried. With continued use of the clay I am beginning to see definition from root to tip without the use of curl defining products like gel.
  • Oil isn't necessarily your friend - One of the things I discovered about my strands is that they are low porosity. I'll do an id-depth post on porosity at a later date, but for a low-po curly, oil can actually further prevent moisture from entering a strand that already struggles to accept it. I would suggest holding off on the use of oil or trying it sparingly and analyzing how your hair truly reacts to it.

 I big chopped in February of this year and haven't looked back. I visit my stylist regularly because I am keeping my hair in short tapered cut for now, and she is constantly commenting on how great my texture looks and asking what products I use. This time around I have been successful in my quest for curls and I love the fact that I can wash and go without matting, knots, extreme shrinkage, and excessive dryness the next day. 

I am super excited about my second go around as a natural, and even more excited to share what I have learned with you all.  I am still trying to perfect my wash and go method and look forward to what I imagine to be infinite (and easier) styling options as I master my strands and learn my texture.

What changes have you made to your hair?

Monday, December 14, 2015

#Shorthairdontcare - My New Look

After several months of debating and countless hours scouring the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and Google for the perfect short crop I finally visited my stylist and had my hair cut. Since starting this blog I have essentially come full circle with my strands - starting at APL after going back to a relaxer from natural hair, growing to MBL, cutting into a Bob, letting the bob hit shoulder length, then chopping it all off.

I have received nothing but positive feedback on my new style, and because it is a cut I have rocked in the past (prior to going natural) I knew it was something I could look good in and be confident about. Even my Mom, who is always completely distraught when I do anything more to my hair than trim the ends, was full of compliments and told me how pretty she thought the cut was. I have gotten several "Halle Berry" references which have been ego boosting :-) (Who doesn't want to be compared to Halle Berry???) and although it has only been a few days I am enjoying the style and not regretting the change at all. 

My confidence with the style comes from having thought long and hard about the decision and choosing a style that I know suits me and that I will not have any issues maintaining. In fact, I went so far as to have my stylist schedule me to relax every four weeks so that I can be sure the style always looks fresh and I feel good wearing it. My stylist also equipped me a few simple styling techniques, having my watch the way she curled each section and gave tips on different looks I could try. Along with the tips she provided the same salon brand foaming wrap lotion and wrap paper she uses to mold and set short styles beneath the dryer. I also purchased a hooded dryer as well as a 1/4 inch flat iron and look forward to my next wash day and re-creating the look on my own. 

I have unfortunately had a few people see my new style and shake their heads while sadly asking "Why did you cut off all your hair?" My response has been "because I am on a hair journey." At one point in my journey length was my focus and once I met my goal I realized how boring that was for me - I basically lived in buns and my hair actually suffered because of it and resulted in the need to cut. It was definitely fun to play with length and to watch my hair grow to lengths I had no idea I could reach, but my styling also became boring and wash days took longer. At this point in my journey I am all about effortless style and minimal wash days. 

I am hoping to keep this short crop for awhile, I would love to play around with the different styles I can achieve while keeping the back tapered and letting the top grow - I am particularly interested in reaching a length where I can wand the top section and rock sort of a chic, curly mo-hawk. As always the health of my strands is my number one priority, so I also look forward to trying new products and starting again from ground zero.

Things to Consider Before a Drastic Haircut

Sometimes a girl just needs a change. Your signature or tried and true look can start to take the turn from fab to drab, leaving you looking and feeling less than spectacular. If you are fed-up with your current style and thinking about changing your look with a new haircut, before you pick up the scissors or head for the salon consider the following.


Can you maintain the style?

Depending on your choice of haircut, maintenance outside of the salon can prove to be difficult. For example, short crops with tapered edges often require more frequent relaxer sessions (think every 4 weeks vs. every 12). Although there is the obvious trade-off on weekly wash-days when it may take all of 45 minutes (including a 15 minute DC & 15 minutes under the dryer) to wash and style your strands, having to visit the salon more often or purchase a home relaxer kit every month may be cause to re-think your style choice.


Do you have the proper styling tools/products?

Shorter hair styles often require different sets of tools and products to maintain the look outside of the salon. For example a short, close crop (a la Halle Berry) would require a good foaming wrap lotion, head wraps to hold the mold, a hooded dryer to form the mold, and a 1/4 inch flat iron to curl and sculpt the style to your liking. If you do not already have the necessary styling tools and products on-hand to maintain your style, or find it may be too expensive to purchase new items, the style may not be the one for you.

Will the style suit your lifestyle/personality?

Do you workout often and find yourself sweating out your style as soon as you achieve it? Are you pressed for time & prefer a style that is more "wash & go" rather than wash, condition, deep condition, moisturize, dry, & style? Are you fun, funky and flirty or conservative and structured? The answers to these and many other lifestyle questions should be considered before you make a decision.

What are your hair goals?

A hair journey can be frustrating at times and we can often feel as if the goals we have set are impossible to reach. If your reasons for cutting your hair are due to the frustration of feeling like you aren't getting anywhere in your journey, I would suggest re-evaluating your hair care practices rather than cutting out of frustration and later regretting your decision. 

Are you absolutely sure about this?

Often times the decision to change our hair can be an impulsive one - born from the frustrations of life & situations we cannot control. If you have not spent at least 90 days pouring over hair styles, trying on wigs, trying different styles with your current length, and looking at women with similar features rocking a similar look, then I would classify the desire to cut as an impulsive one that should be evaluated further.

I love to change my look and I have about 3 styles I rotate throughout a five year period. Although each look is tried and true and I know I will like the way I look, I always consider the five points mentioned above before moving from one style to the next.

What do you consider before changing your look?

Monday, October 19, 2015

14 Day Wand Curls on Blow-dried Hair

 Since I cut my hair to correct the light damage I got from constantly wet-bunning I haven't been following the typical "healthy hair rules". I still deep condition, pre-poo and protein treat my hair on a regular basis but the common no-no across all healthy hair sites is consistent heat use. I am a huge supporter of finding what works for you and sticking with it, so if consistent heat use has your hair growing like a weed then I don't suggest making a change, but I do tend to feel a bit guilty and like I am abusing my strands to some extent when months pass and I haven't taken a break from the flat iron.

So in an effort to ease my guilt I decided to switch things up and ditch the flat iron for what I feel is a less-damaging heat styling tool. I actually stumbled upon this style accidentally one lazy weekend when I didn't feel like spending an hour and a half flat ironing my hair. I went through my typical wash-day routine & made it through to the blow out stage before I realized I didn't feel like putting in the time and effort to style my hair. I had no clue what I was going to do with my hair the next morning, and only had about an hour before Church service started so I grabbed my curling wand and hoped my hair wouldn't turn out a complete mess.

I sectioned my hair into fours (just like when preparing to relax) and worked through one section at a time wrapping 1.5-2 inch sections around the wand and holding them there for about 20 seconds. Because I was going for a more uniform and neat look I wrapped each section in the same direction rather than alternating directions and the entire process took about 35 minutes.

 I loved the finished look and got several complements on the results but I was not sure how to maintain the look throughout the week. My first thought was of the pineapple method but I wasn't sure it would work on my shorter hair or on wand curls, but I knew if I simply put on my bonnet I would wake up with crushed curls, so I gave it a shot. I flipped my head over, secured my hair with a ponytail holder, wrapped my silk scarf around my edges and put my bonnet on top. In the morning I was pleasantly surprised to find my curls were completely in-tact and looked just as good as the day before. It took some doing to get my strands to "lay" the way I wanted them to, but after walking around with my silk scarf loosely tied around my head (think Tu-Pac) for a few minutes my hair laid nicely. I moisturized my hair on the third day by scrunching the product into my hair to prevent disturbing the curls and continued to pineapple each night for 7 days. On the eight day since my hair still looked perfectly fine I decided to give the style a go for another week. I did lightly re-touch some areas with the wand where the curls had completely fallen, but I am thinking this may be my go-to style for the Fall.

I love my hair with some texture and the curling wand on blow-dried hair gives me that perfect slightly wavy texture that I adore. Several co-workers actually asked if I was natural so I was excited to find a style that mimics natural textured hair without actually having to deal with the hassle of my being natural. Aside from the great texture this style allows me to go two weeks without putting heat on my hair, and once I do wash my hair again knowing that I won't be doing double duty with the harsh blow-dryer followed by a flat iron makes me feel a lot better about my hair care practices.

 How are you currently styling your hair?