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?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Refreshing my Color at Home


This Summer I had my stylist color my hair red using a low volume developer to mitigate the affects of the dye. As we all know reds tend to fade quickly and since my Summer dye-job my hair has faded from a vibrant deep red to a warm reddish-brown. Because I love the shade of reddish-brown my hair has morphed into, instead of having my stylist re-dye my hair I am opting for a temporary red rinse to bring back some of the vibrancy my strands have lost.

Things You Will Need
  • Semi-Permanent Rinse 
  • Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Moisturizing Conditioner
  • Vaseline
  • Olive Oil (Optional)
  • Protein Conditioner (Optional)
  • After Color Sealer (Optional) 
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Relaxer Brush (or Color applicator brush)
  • Color mixing bowl
  • Processing Cap

 I first washed and conditioned my hair per my usual wash day routine. I applied a generous amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to my dry strands, covered my hair with a plastic cap and allowed the oil to sit for about 45 minutes. I then shampooed using my Kera Minerals Sulfate-Free Shampoo followed by a quick 2 minute condition using GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm. After t-shirt drying my strands for about 5 minutes I sectioned my hair into fours then applied my Kera Minerals Smoothing Deep Conditioner, covered my hair with a plastic cap and allowed the conditioner to sit for about 2 hours. (I would normally only condition for 15 minutes but because I no longer have a hooded dryer and was caught up doing other things I left the conditioner on longer.) I rinsed the conditioner in warm water to keep my cuticles open in preparation for the color application.

Before applying the dye I protected my hair line and forehead with Vaseline to prevent staining on my skin in case the dye was runny. Using Adore Creative Image Semi-Permanent Rinse in Intense Red I applied the color using an applicator brush (similar to what you would use for a relaxer) beginning at the root and combing the color through to the ends. The application process mirrored that of the relaxer process only I applied the color to the entire length of my strands. I allowed the color to sit for about an hour under a plastic cap to make sure I got the shade of red I was looking for, then rinsed with cool water and followed with another quick shampoo. To seal in the color and make sure my strands were thoroughly conditioned after the process I applied Ion's After Color Sealer and allowed it to sit for five minutes before rinsing with warm water. Once the process was complete I styled my hair as usual.

For those of you with dark hair a rinse may not work for you because it does not truly soak into the cuticles, but rather deposits on top of the strands. I would suggest trying a deep shade of red and allowing the dye to sit a little longer than instructed and also using a hooded dryer to encourage the dye to deposit fully onto the strands. Because my hair had already been lightened by my stylist using permanent color the dye took easily and showed up clear and vibrant.

Have you tried a semi-permanent color at home?