Monday, June 25, 2018

Protective Style Prep

 I love styling my hair. I love discovering new products and new methods of getting my hair to behave the way I want it to behave. I also love watching it grow and move through the different phases of each style. 

The love of my hair leads me to wash and style frequently in an effort to maintain its health and beauty; and as much as I love the process I sometimes need a break. Lately I've been looking at my hair and feeling like it isn't growing as quickly as it did the first time I was natural. I get my hair straightened and trimmed every three months and I've been able to clearly see growth, but when my hair is in its natural coily state it just doesn't seem like I've made much progress in the area of length retention.

In short I've come to a point where I am overly concerned with my hair and picking apart every little aspect of it. As they say "a watched pot never boils" so I've decided to tuck my hair away for a while to give myself a mental and physical break from my hair.

Preparing My Hair

To prepare my hair for long term styling (I plan to keep my braids for at least four weeks) I wanted to be sure to infuse moisture into my strands while also strengthening my hair for my first attempt at a home blow out.

Shampoo & Condition

I began by first shampooing my hair twice with Aphogee Keratin & Green Tea Shampoo. I chose this shampoo because I would be applying heat and I wanted the additional infusion of keratin to protect my strands from the blow dryer. After shampooing I applied my moisturizing conditioner (Aussie Moist 3-Minute Miracle) and thoroughly detangled using my paddle brush. I rinsed after 3 minutes than applied my Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Mask and sat beneath my steamer for 30 minutes.

I allowed my hair to cool down after steaming, then rinsed and proceeded to moisturize and prep for blow drying.

Moisturizing & Blow Drying

To moisturize my strands I used my Jane Carter Solutions Curls To Go Untangle Me Leave-In Conditioner as well as the Mist Me Over Hydrator from the same line.  Where I would typically use a quarter-sized amount and simply finger comb the product throughout my strands, this time I sectioned my strands into four quadrants and added a quarter-sized amount to each section. I then brushed the product through with my paddle brush to ensure even distribution. Because I intended to use heat to stretch my hair for the braiding process I also applied a dime sized amount of Kera Mineral's Smoothing Leave In Conditioner to each section as a heat protectant.

I used a combination of the tension method, the comb method, and the flat brush method to blow dry my hair and ensure maximum straightness. Working with small one inch sub sections within each quadrant I applied the tension method by gently pulling the section downward and running the blow dryer (with concentrator nozzle) downward to stretch and dry the section. Once the section was about 90% dry I then used my flat brush to apply greater tension and further straighten each section. I honestly could have stopped here but I ran the blow dryer one last time down my strands and chased it with my wide tooth comb simply to be absolutely positive that my hair was dry, stretched, and thoroughly detangled. 

This entire process took me about 40 minutes and I realized that my hair is not nearly as coarse and unmanageable as I have always thought it to be. I have always been somewhat intimidated by the density, thickness, and tightly coiled nature of my strands, and assumed that because it didn't 'look' easy to manage in the same way as my relaxed hair that it would be difficult to blow out and straighten the way I did my relaxed hair. I was clearly wrong and have a new understanding of my hair and what it is capable of.

Once my hair was completely dry I added a dime sized amount of Jane Carter Solution Curl Defining Cream to each quadrant for extra moisture then secured each section with a ponytail holder to keep it stretched and prevent tangling. Due to my preparation the braiding process was quick, easy and virtually painless. 

How do you prepare for a protective style?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summer Wash Day Routine for Naturals

This Summer my goal is to keep my hair routine simple while maximizing moisture and maintaining length. To reach these goals I am instituting two main elements into my routine: Wash and Go's and Low Manipulation styles. Both style choices require similar wash day prep and the routine I have created has been instrumental in maintaining moisture for days at a time and limiting manipulation.

Whether I am protective styling or doing a wash and go my routine contains the following elements:


One thing I have learned as a second-time natural is the importance of a good quality shampoo and how regular shampooing aids in the health of both your scalp and hair. As I mentioned in my MHM Review post, I do still use a clay cleanser but it is accompanied by a quality shampoo. Depending upon the week and my hair's needs I alternate between a protien/strengthening shampoo, a moisturizing shampoo, or a clarifying shampoo.

Prior to shampooing I do not dentangle, add oil, or do any sort of pre-poo step; I simply jump in the shower and allow the water to run through my strands for 1-2 minutes. Once my hair is weighed down and fully wet I apply my shampoo. I currently have three shampoos in my rotation: Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Moisturizing Shampoo, Kinky Curly Come Clean, and Aphogee Green Tea & Keratin Shampoo. I have found that all three of these aid in detangling so once my hair is lathered I do a quick finger detangle with the shampoo still in before rinsing.

If I am using a clay mask I will apply the mask to my hair and use it to further finger detangle my strands. I do not allow the mask to sit for longer than five minutes. If I am not using clay I will lather a second time with shampoo to insure  my hair and scalp are completely clean before I proceed to conditioning.


Rather than alternating between a protein and moisturizing conditioner each week I've opted to use both on every wash day. However, my hair's needs for the week determine which conditioner I use as a deep conditioner with my steamer. I currently have four conditioners in my line up: Aphogee Keratin Two Minute Reconstructor, Aussie Moist Three Minute Miracle, Aphogee Curlrific Texture Treatment, and Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Mask. While still in the shower I apply my rinse- out conditioner and allow it to sit for a few minutes while I do my shower duties. After rinsing, wringing out excess water, and wrapping my hair in a t-shirt I prep my steamer for use. Once I apply my deep conditioner of choice I use a paddle brush to completely detangle my strands before sitting beneath my steamer for 30 minutes. I like to allow my hair to cool before I rinse out my deep conditioner, just to allow my cuticles to close naturally. After cooling and rinsing my DC I wring excess water from my hair and allow my t-shirt to dry my hair before I apply my stylers.


I have only recently perfected my wash and go process and found the proper stylers to keep my hair moisturized while making my curls pop. To prevent product build up (and save money) I keep very few stylers in my stash and apply a minimum of two products. I begin by applying a moisturizing leave in on damp hair. My current leave-ins are Jane Carter Solutions Curls to Go Untangle Me, and Kinky Curly Knot Today. I apply about a quarter sized amount of leave in throughout my strands and work it through using my fingers to rake and smooth. Because my hair is still so short I don't bother sectioning but I do make sure to apply the product evenly throughout my strands. My current styler of choice for definition, moisture and hold is the Aphogee Curlrific Curl Definer. I intend to do a full review of this product but let me just say it is AaaaMazing!! When applying the curl definer I do work in sections (although I still do not part my hair) and apply about a nickle sized amount working it in generously, making sure to rake and smooth the product in until I see my coils and curls begin to separate and elongate. After the product is completely applied, if my curls still aren't clumping the way I know they are capable, I will either re-wet my hair with a spray bottle or dip my hair back beneath the shower head. The final step is a good shake to further encourage clumping before applying a clean t-shirt to soak up excess water for 15-30 minutes to speed up the drying time.

Day 5 Results

I am currently rocking a protective style for the month (post coming soon) but prior to install I was doing wash and gos weekly. With the aforementioned routine and products I have been able to stretch my wash days for a full five (sometimes six) days! This is huge for me because with my prior product choices I could only manage to go three days between washes because my hair would quickly dry out. With this routine not only am I getting great curl definition and lasting moisture but I am able to style my hair in under an hour leaving my free to enjoy my weekend. What else can a girl ask for?

What is your Summer Wash Day Routine?

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.