Hair Again: Rough and Dry Ends

Please note: I dislike tagging my personal pictures, but I’ve discovered they are being used. I was never asked about it. I never gave permission.

These are my hair ends. I’ve flat ironed a few times. I blow dry my hair nearly all the time, and I am pleased to see the teeny-tiny-itty-bitty curls come back. However, even with tons of conditioning, heat protectant(s), I am still paying the price of those luxuries. My ends are very delicate, and they’ve been feeling rough and knotty for a while.

After I blow dry, or flat-iron, I check my ends. For some reason, my left side (in the front) is always rough, tough, knotty, and harder to manage. I don’t know, in general, how many inches I retain each year, but last year it had to be zero to 1 inch – if I was lucky. I hate doing it, but I had to get the scissors out. (No!!!)

As recently as the last two times I’ve washed my hair I had to cut. Not trim, cut. I took off inches. Several times. I don’t like doing it, because it’s hard to judge if I’m chopping off too much on one side or the other. And who wants lopsided hair?

I deep condition religiously, but it wasn’t enough. Damn. This time I decided to add something new. I warmed up a bottle of Tea Tree / Carrot Oil, drenched my ends in it, added heavy conditioner, bagged the plaits on each side of my head, and kept it on overnight.

Well, I give complete credit to hair web sites, because people have mentioned doing this a million times, but I never did it before with this sort of intensity. I usually put it in, and immediately wash it out.

To make a long story short: my ends were tamed. They were smooth, silky, and no rough stuff. It made my modest bit of combing after I washed a true snap and blow drying was much easier. It did nothing to cut down on the time it takes to do my hair, but that’s something else I have to work on.

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Hair A Few More: Leave-In Conditioners


Hair Length Goal

I did not have a particular hair length goal before. I simply wanted to know how to treat my hair well, and to be satisfied with the results. I’ve worn my hair natural (without relaxers, perms, or any other kind of toxic chemicals) most of my life. My styling and treatment of it was hit and mostly miss. Now-a-days, I plait my hair (10 braids), and keep it in a bun. I can no longer two-strand twist, that makes it knotty. I will wash it while it is in braids, including the use of shampoo about once a month.

Currently, my hair reaches bra-strap and I have a medium length torso. I am aiming for mid-back or waist-length by February 2010. I wont stress myself to reach that goal. If I make it fine, if not, no big deal. My hair grows fastest and strongest, when I get into an exercise routine and wash weekly. I noticed that my vitamin and breakfast drink mixes made a big difference. I can only drink my concoction in the summer, because I can’t take cold food or drink unless it is boiling hot outside.

I really like this period of time we are in. The best hair products are available for curly, textured, kinky, nappy hair. It’s no longer about using grease as the solution to every hair problem. My hair issues used to be dryness, a lack of moisture, and fighting with the comb – yanking out fistfuls of it – after washing it.

Holy Grail of Moisture

I’m not on any search for a Holy Grail of great products. However, it’s great not to be dependent on any one company or product. I’ve found three new moisturizing staples to go along with my favorite Garnier Fructis Leave-In Conditioner. One is Organics Olive Oil Leave-In Conditioner and their other product is Shea Butter Detangling Moisturizing Hair Lotion.

My hair drinks these two products. They feel a bit sticky on the hands, especially the Shea Butter. I am already in love with the Organics Olive Oil Leave-In Conditioner. It is light, doesn’t go on heavy or greasy, and best of it all, it does make the hair easier to comb. Not that I am into combing my hair anymore, but it’s handy to have.

I use the BioInfusion Leave-In Conditioner right after I wash my hair. It is definitely not sticky. It’s suitable. I’m not sure how great it is. My hair drinks this product also. It doesn’t leave my hair dry, so right now, I consider myself satisfied with my entire collection of Leave-In Conditioners.

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Hair Care: Weaves


Company History

In 1998, L’Oreal (French) purchased Soft Sheen, a company owned and managed by African-Americans, which targeted the “ethnic” hair market. Making the move to dominate this market, L’Oreal followed up with the purchase of Carson, Inc. The resulting brand was SoftSheen-Carson.

Today, weaves are an open secret.

I didn’t catch onto weaves until the last few years. I think my ignorance ended with Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce.

I used to think most, if not all, black actresses and singers had the greatest heads of hair in the world. These women were blessed, able to withstand relaxers, heat, and constant abuse that people like me could not. I thought if one was rich, or had the right genetics, they would have hair like the woman in the picture.

Hair Care

Primary beneficiary: the advertisement promotes caring for your weave like real hair.

Secondary beneficiary of this magic potion: the natural / relaxed hair beneath the fake hair.

Yet, black (hair) magazines never provide good hair care advice. There will be articles coupled with this product. I can only see this leading in one direction: baldness.

The advertisement builds on the fantasy that caring for the weave is tantamount to taking care of the real thing. No, it is not. Natural / relaxed hair, and the scalp, require tender loving care. A weave only allows one to neglect them – compounding the problems it hides.

Hot Enough for You?

As of this writing, it is 94 Fahrenheit degrees outside. I’m thinking: could I wear that thick and heavy thing in this heat? No. I’d be scratching my scalp off. My own hair makes me hot enough. Right now I’m sporting bantu knots to stay cool.

I can’t blame clever business people. They realize if some black women never want to show their own hair, they can convince them that synthetic material, or human hair, can be treated better.

Alright, then.

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I Would Relax My Hair, But

It’s been well over a decade since I relaxed my hair and I don’t feel like re-learning how to deal with my hair. Whenever I would consider making the change, a multitude of issues come up:

  1. The warning on the box still says eye and scalp injury. I’ve seen pictures of relaxer scalp injury. It ain’t pretty. It’s downright sad and scary.
  2. It burns! It burns! In retrospect, it was crazy of me to go through torture just to get straight hair.
  3. I’m cheap. I don’t want to spend money on salon visits or a ton of expensive miracle products – just to stop breakage and hope it makes my hair grow.
  4. I like my hair thick. I value my hair line and nape. I don’t want to worry about a relaxer causing hair loss in those areas.
  5. I don’t want to wait until my scalp heals after getting a relaxer, before I can do anything else to my hair or scalp.
  6. It smells toxic, which is it. It stinks too.
  7. I’m lazy. What may be convenient to others isn’t to me. I don’t want to follow any complex rules regarding my hair. These rules seem to grow. Here are some that may be required, before heading off to the salon: base the scalp with heavy oils, do not scratch the scalp, deep condition the hair, do not wash the hair, [another rule], etc.
  8. I enjoy my free time. I don’t want to visit a salon every 6-8 weeks losing an entire Saturday.
  9. Hair salons employ scissor happy staff. There are hair dressers who don’t (wont?) wash the product out completely.
  10. If it is supposed to permanently straighten my hair, then why must I use flat irons or certain techniques to re-straighten it?
  11. Using different relaxers is really tricky. One can love certain products only to have them discontinued. That’s cruel – I sense a conspiracy, yo.
  12. I don’t know, or care, about the differences between no-lye and lye relaxers. I wouldn’t want to risk eye or scalp injury or baldness just to find out which one works.
  13. After losing hair with relaxers, I view it as a gateway product (yeah, like a drug!) to weaves and wigs. If a relaxer was supposedly good for hair, then weaves and wigs would not be necessary. It is just going from bad to worse. (Don’t get me wrong, I wear wigs on occasion.)
  14. I am terrified of involuntary baldness. I’ve read the horror stories. That’s too much stress for me.

Outside of these hassles, what is supposed to be the benefit of a relaxer?

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Garnier Fructis

Dry Hair

Everyone has different hair requirements. I am a 4a-z with hair that is fine, medium density, kinky, coily, textured, cottony, or nappy. It is rarely hard and never coarse.

Did I mention how fragile and delicate my hair is?

I envy people who can comb, flat iron, and blow dry nearly every day. It’s hard keeping my hands out of my hair. At a minimum, I let three days pass before I comb it again.

What I want from a hair product is that it leaves my hair feeling soft, moisturized, and easy to comb. It’s amazing how many products do the first two and not the last one!

Research

Periodically, I must switch products.

I read hair boards, searching for conditioners and gels with the best reviews. I evaluate based on hair type. I don’t ignore other hair types. I note those with similar problems: dry hair, often brittle, which leads to breakage.

Garnier Fructis Moisture Works Fortifying Cream Conditioner

For now, this product works. I love the smell, and I can comb my hair after I’ve washed with it.

Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-In Conditioning Cream

The first time I used this product it left my hair a sticky, clumpy mess with a lot of white residue. I don’t know if I finally figured out how to use it or what, but I love this stuff now.

It is excellent for helping me unravel my twists or plaits. The drier my hair is the tighter it gets. This product makes my hair slide apart wonderfully and easily. There’s no snapping plaits apart with this.

Overall, I’m satisfied with Garnier Fructis for now.

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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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