Hair: Length Check and Bantu Knots

Note: My hair type is 4a-z, nappy, kinky, coily, cottony, soft, fine, moderately thick, and very very delicate.

Time to check the hair length again!

It grows so slow now-a-days. I’m still trying to figure out where that growth spurt a couple of years ago was due to.

I had to cut off 1/2 an inch to 1 inch on the ends, because I was getting irritated with knotting. I have to stay away from small two-strand twists; they are the cause of a lot of single strand knots for me.

This summer, I am doing the following for health and hair:

  • Eating a lot of fish, I’ve been consuming a lot of Japanese food too. I know not to eat too much, because of mercury concerns (among other pollutants / poisons).
  • The weather has been too cool for my stomach, but I hope I can start making my morning drinks again with carrots, bananas, yogurt, and flax seeds. Right now, all I eat is a banana for breakfast.
  • Taking vitamins roughly every other day. I’ve included a separate supplement of D3 and powdered C.
  • Working out (longer / harder). I’m working up to jogging longer than 10 minutes at a time; this is in addition to my walking and weight lifting.
  • Co-washing, which is washing with conditioners. Sometimes, I’ll shampoo.
  • No more flat ironing, although I itch, and ache, to every time I wash! I blow dry on a reasonable and comfortable heat setting. I always use a heat protectant!
  • I like to keep my hair completely covered under a scarf and /or in a protective style. If I do wear my hair “out”, I style it to look less than shoulder length.


I suppose if I flat iron, it would appear longer.

My standard routine, the changes are always minute:

  1. Saturate hair with White Rain Conditioner Coconut. I couldn’t resist buying it from the dollar store. I love this stuff cheap.
  2. Part hair into 4 sections – just the hands, no comb! – braid the root, and twist to the ends.
  3. Apply castor oil to ends of hair, around the hairline (edges), and the crown where I always part the hair, which is prone to dryness and breakage.
  4. Put on plastic cap, cover with scarf. Sleep on it, overnight.
  5. Exercise.
  6. Wash hair. Open each section at a time, wash scalp thoroughly, comb gently with fingers, re-braid and re-twist.
  7. Wrap tightly with a towel. No rubbing.
  8. Open each section at a time, apply heat protectant, make smaller sections, and blow dry hair.
  9. Bantu knot each section.
  10. Done.

I tried to do a silk wrap (sitting under the dryer with a plastic wrap around smoothed hair), but my hair laughed at my efforts.

I think it will be next year, before I do this again.

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Brain Dump Tuesday

Exposing the Hair

I’m looking for a weekly style in which I can wear my hair un-braided, uncovered and exposed. Perhaps a Bantu-knot twist-out, braid-out, or something. Weekly or bi-weekly flat ironing is a big no-no.

Expose my hair to the elements? Phew, I shudder at the thought. My hair doesn’t take to the air all that well. However, I want a new routine, and I like – and need to – switch styles.

Another Experiment Gone Wrong

I tried putting my hair in rollers. I used the smallest foam flexible rollers that I could find.

After washing my hair, I go sit under my bonnet dryer for an hour – low heat. Let’s just say, that it didn’t work out well. I had to resort to a brush (Oh nooooo!) to get my hair to behave.

I wont repeat the entire nightmare scenario, but I realize that I have to replace that old bonnet dryer. I get hard helmet hair from it. It is old, it has to go. It’s time to find something with that Ionic feature, which leaves my hair soft.

Next time I roll up my hair, the rollers must be fat and round, not thin. Live and learn.

Shopping in Nu Joisey

So, I spend the day with my Mom in northern New Jersey buying hair products: not chemicals, just rollers and other accessories. It’s cheaper up there. The shocker for us was how many of the stores were closed.

Oh, yeah, you know things are bad when black women aren’t buying hair products.

Something to think about: I like to look at the ingredients of a lot of products. Nearly every one of them whether for skin or hair starts has the main ingredient of petroleum or mineral oil.

Funny, how people are paying $8.99 plus for the same ingredient with different brand names.

I repeat, my staple is Castor Oil and aloe vera. If I buy a product these items, along with glycerin, must be the main ingredient.

The Health Club Gauntlet

Although I hate them, there is one very close to me that I am thinking of joining. I think I will sign up after everyone else has slacked off of their New Year’s resolution to join a club. I’ll give it about 90-120 days before the number of people dwindles to a reasonable amount.

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Hair Again – Vanity Check – hair washing routine

Oh, joy. Washing hair is a drag in the winter. I prefer to wash in warm weather, it is easier to do, because I don’t worry about a completely dry scalp. Unlike other mortal beings, I can’t walk about with a damp scalp. It must be nearly bone dry.

Last I’ve checked my hair length may have been February 2008. I figure I’d take a look and review my hair washing routine.

The Lazy Method

I apply a moisturizing shampoo directly to the scalp. I don’t shampoo often, but the stink smell of sweat was getting to me.

I also added a bit of pre-shampoo oil to the major part at the top of my head. That area gets dry and brittle so I wanted to protect the hair in that area.

At the same time, I slather the ends of my twists with heavy creamy conditioner, before I open my hair. That way I never have a knot that my hair doesn’t slip out of.

I don’t use a comb.

I open all the twists, the hair is basically in two parts. I make two big twists and wait a bit for the conditioner to sink in. It’s winter, and I’m not hanging around long to catch a cold.

I wash my hair – scalp first with a moderately vigorous scrub. I spend the rest just rinsing, until the hair doesn’t feel that slippery. I make about 3-4 parts on the two sides, and carefully wash into between the parts. I’ve been shocked in the past how much product stays in my hair if I don’t let the water get into every section.

Wrap with a towel. Hair is left damp.

I rub in Garnier Fructis Moisture Works Fortifying Cream Conditioner, it makes parting the hair easier.

I also put in some heat protector.

I blow dry my hair with my favorite! The Conair Hot Air Styler has a built in comb. Be careful, it will take out a lot a hair if one is not gentle! Some days I yank out a lot. I shed hair like a cat.

I flat-ironed the ends a little. My hair type is very shrinky-dink, so no matter what I do, right after a blow-out or flat iron, it is going to shrink. I literally ran to take these pictures before I lost a couple of inches.

I finished “styling” with a heavy application of castor oil. Total time was a little over 2 hours.

Last note: It may sound lame, but I’ll say it again: my hair has never EVAH! been this long before. I think keeping stress low, drinking water, keeping the hair moist (not brittle dry), and using conditioner are very important.

Before

After

After
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Hair Dryers: I Own Three


The Bonnet

I believe in going easy on my hair by not manipulating it too much. I might comb it weekly, biweekly, or more. However, I don’t ascribe to the belief that naturals should walk around with a damp or wet head. Perhaps if I lived in a hot climate, instead of the northeast, I would consider that option.

I use the bonnet dryer after I wash my hair, which is almost weekly. I keep the setting on medium heat setting, never high. My ears hurt on high heat. I stay under the bonnet for 10-20 minutes.

I have to use a hair dryer after I wash my hair. It prevents my third day headache and head cold. I envy people who can wash and go. I cannot. I get sick walking around with a wet head.

Hand Held Dryer

The next dryer I have is the common hand held type by Revlon. I bought it because it was one of those new ionic which dries quickly, without static, and keeps my hair soft. I always use it on the lowest setting.

I pull my hair taunt with a concentrator when I use this. It doesn’t get it straight, but provides a nice stretch. Even after I use this dryer, which is rather infrequent, I still sit under the bonnet for 15 minutes. I don’t take any chances.

The Hand Held Straightener

Last, but not least, is my newest acquisition: Infiniti by Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Wet Dry Straightening Hot Air Styler. Repeat that three times real fast. (Who comes up with the stupid names for these things?)

I’m loving it, which means I cannot use it too often. Bad girl that I am, I used high heat to get it straight (stretched). I was in a hurry, next time I’ll stick to medium heat.

Hair Types

For my hair type, this is almost as good as a flat iron (I have one of those too). The Hot Air Styler has four tension settings. My hair is very delicate. I kept it at one – the loosest.

One thing I notice about some products is that the manufacturer gives straight hair the lowest, most gentle settings, and advises thick, very curly, sometimes even fine, hair to use the highest settings. I think that’s why there’s often damage to nappy, kinky, cnapp, coily, and curly hair.

Nappy, curly, and kinky is not the same as strong, coarse, hard, unmanageable, or problem hair. People have to start with the lower settings, be gentle and stay with it for a while before moving onto a higher or stronger option.

I accept, for myself, that certain kinds of hair should not be straightened (often) if the only way is to damage it. If hair wont go back to its curly or kinky state it is damaged. Lots of split ends are a sign as well.

Protection

I deep condition and apply setting lotion to my hair before using the Hot Air Styler. I was extremely pleased with the results. My hair came out fabulous. It felt soft and rather silky. However, it didn’t last long, because I have a hot head. Plus, I don’t know how to keep a style past day one.

I am so tempted to use this every time I wash my hair, but I must not!

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