Hair: travel style, observations, and conditioner concoction

Returning to Normalcy (Yawn) and Travel Observations

In September, I was away for nearly three (3) weeks, and honestly, it was a downer to return. I never used to feel that way. I used to be so happy to be back in America it wasn’t funny. This was the first time I realized I could have stayed away indefinitely.

I could leave tomorrow, and not look back.

These feelings are not helped by how spoiled I was by my German friend. Talk about a man looking after you! I was truly taken care of. He’s so wonderful, my sweetheart is. And look-out! German men got some incredible legs on them!

What a delight that trip was; I’m truly sorry it had to end!

Listen up! It is not like the grass was greener in the places I went. I simply liked the way people around me behaved. Black women who travel overseas might know what I mean. I would never assume everywhere would be as satisfying as where I went.

The thought that occurred to me on my travels was: why didn’t I come here sooner?

Travel Hair Style

My bed time hair style. I often switch-up.
Ponytails give me a headache.
Looks like yarn, but it’s all mine.

I had blow dried my hair, my Mom parted it for me, before I put it into two-strand twists. I wore this style for three weeks without washing my hair. Eww, I know. I couldn’t risk a head cold, not on an airplane ride back! I’ve had that experience before, and never wanted to repeat it. I thought it was going to be difficult to deal with, but I’d simply wet ‘n wipe, and re-twist my hair after saturating it with my conditioner concoction (see below).

My Mom continues to ask me how people reacted to my hair. (Picture me with my eyebrows raised.) She knows how I am. If I loved Afros on me, and I don’t because of hair knotting, I would have rocked that style daily. My reaction is usually: I could give a rat’s behind what anyone thought. I don’t care what anyone thinks in America; I certainly did not in Europe. I could not care less, and apparently no one else did either.

She thought it looked good. I guess she wondered if anyone was going to compliment me. I was thankful that they liked to mind their own business. I could eat in any restaurant, and not get the stink-eye. The staff was almost always courteous, polite, and nice. I know I do get that here in the USA. Yet, if folks there are watching you eat, they certainly aren’t as obvious as the morons here.

My Mom once said, “Why are they in my mouth watching me take every bite?” Sigh. We’re not even talking high-end: this is in places like Chili’s.

My Hair Concoctions

I love mixing stuff together now. I still can’t wear straight conditioner in my hair, and why would I want to? But the options I gain from mixing is nice. I feel I get an extra ump out of doing this.

I mix Africa’s Best Herbal Oil (with lots of good stuff) with White Rain Conditioner (Coconut). It not only smells good, but leaves my hair feeling really nice. I also used my pure / raw Shea Butter + Aloe Vera + Vitamin E + Castor Oil + Lavender + Ylang Ylang mixture. Both concoctions put moisture into my hair and doesn’t shrink it significantly.

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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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Product Junkie: Ending the Fix

Kicking The Product Junkie Habit

The irony of my shopping spree these past few months, is that I will probably go back to what I used in the good old days: Garnier Fructis (leave-in conditioner, conditioner) or Suave, castor oil (hard or liquid), and aloe vera. That’s all I really need.

All the other stuff I have, I’m just going to use up. I do that by mixing a lot of them together.

Cheap Conditioner

I put castor oil, and other oils, like carrot and tea tree, into my Suave Conditioner to use it as a quasi-deep conditioner. I leave it in overnight or under an hour.

Product(s) I Hate

If I have a product I hate, I’ll slather it on, then sit under the dryer so my hair will drink it up. I do this after I’ve shampooed and (not deep) conditioned my hair. Getting it nearly streaky clean makes it easier for my hair to drink up the products.

Staying Cheap

I mix the cheap with the almost-pricey products. I like buying a bottle of hair / skin oil for $1.25. I like buying conditioner for .79 to .99 cents. I aim not to go higher than $5 for a 24-32oz bottle of castor oil or aloe vera.

Buying Bulk

I have bought products in bulk, but I’ve discovered that unless it is aloe vera, castor oil or Garnier Fructis, there’s no point. I don’t use these other items with the same frequency.

My experimenting days with different products will end. I may still pick up an item, but I need to gradually reduce my inventory of stuff. I hate clutter.

My Mom’s Hair

I use up product by putting some in my Mom’s hair. She’s (finally) a natural, and has such pretty curly hair. She said she hasn’t seen her natural hair in years, and didn’t know it was curly.

I’ve been washing, deep conditioning, and roller setting her hair. I give her a next-to-near-salon experience. She claims I’ve been saving her about $100 each time I do her hair.

I am astounded. I had no idea they’ve gotten that expensive.

In this economy, and in general, it’s good to realize that to take care of one’s hair doesn’t have to break the bank. Being frugal works just as well.

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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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My Hair: It’s Too Black!

On Christmas Day, I flat ironed my hair. The day before I washed and deep, deep, deep conditioned it.

I’m actually sorry I didn’t take a picture (see an example below). No big deal. Next time I straighten, and / or curl my hair, I will take one. I simply enjoy the comparison shots. I don’t take a lot of pictures, because it is hard to position, and setup, myself to get a decent shot. Outside of my brother (who lives in the South), no one in my family takes a satisfactory picture.

Not my face (I wish!) but, my hair after I styled it.


I show up at my parent’s house. My Dad says, “Is that all your hair?”

I start laughing. “It looks like a wig, right?”

He mumbled, “It’s too black. Did you color it?”

Mom speaks up, “Her hair looks nice. And it is not black, her hair is lighter than that.”

I said, “I don’t know why it looks this dark. I usually see a little brownish / reddish under the lights. Maybe it’s the castor oil or heat protectant cream I put in it.”

Dad makes indecipherable noises, and again I hear. “It’s too black.”

My uncle says, “Your hair looks good. All you use is castor oil?”

“That’s mostly what I use, after all these years, that’s all I need.” I’m thankful for the eyeglasses that keep the hair off my face.

A few hours later, my hair has climbed in height, getting shorter and puffier. I’m sweating, and I’m warm (could be the booze). By then, it’s late evening, and I’m fed up with my hair. I’m not sure that’s what’s making me hot, but I want it braided.

My uncle promises to provide the name of a hair braider he knows. He lives in northern New Jersey. I’m hoping she’s someone who wont braid tight, or try to remove all the hair from my hairline (edges). I’ve already had enough experience with that. No matter how much you ask, they still braid too tight!

Mom doesn’t like my hair braiding plan, “Why must you do that?”

Frankly, I don’t want to touch my hair for about 3 to 8 weeks, maybe longer, if I don’t get an itchy, irritated scalp. “I want to rest my hair and stop the breakage between some parts.” I point out the part at the top and behind my ears. It’s not serious, but I’d like to give those areas a rest.

The moment my Mom finished plaiting my hair: the sweating stopped and I felt a chill. I had no idea the hair was making me so hot! I prefer braided hair, the long, straightened curly style, is not something I’m used to.

I will do it again, long after I get the braids done.

An exaggerated example of my hair shrinkage. Yes, and I change complexions too!
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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 Matters: Don’t Do it Again

Trying Something New

I went against my own credo to leave my hair alone and stop experimenting. Out of curiosity – because I’m always curious – I decided to try something new: leave conditioner in my hair.

Now, I’m asking myself: Why did I do that?

I did it, because I wanted to see if I could emulate a loose curl, kinda wavy look for my hair that I get when I put in conditioner. I may still seek out a product that does it, but I don’t want a sopping wet, heavy mess that feels like a jherri curl.

What I Learned

I’ve been seeing breakage on the ends I haven’t seen in years. It’s not as bad as used to be in the past, but any little amount is alarming to me.

So, I will note to myself: never leave conditioner in the hair again. Sometimes one can overdo it and I have to keep it simple. My hair doesn’t want more of anything, it requires less.

Wet Two-Stand Twists

Recently, I’ve discovered that I can’t twist my hair while it’s damp anymore. That used to be the fastest way for me to take care of my hair. I’m not big on detangling, or combing hair. I don’t see the point. I don’t trim my hair either, unless there’s a knot I can’t undo.

My hair knots up in twists so bad, I can’t open the twists without cutting the ends or snapping the hair apart. It’s horrible. I don’t know why. It doesn’t matter what I put in my hair. I just know I can’t twist or braid it while damp. I have to wait for it to dry.

That sucks.

At a current length of being an inch or so from bra-strap, or between shoulder blades, my styling options are being challenged. I have to stick with big plaits, but not too big. At the moment, eight plaits work.

The oil of choice, right now, is castor oil. But since I can’t wet my hair at the moment unless I’m going to wash it, this is the product that softens my hair.

Maybe it’s the weather and come the Spring / Summer the dryness and tightness will go away.

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Hair at End of Year: Did I Make Progress?

I suppose these are pictures of progress. I don’t see much of it.

I blow dry to get a little stretch. That’s the case in all of the pictures. Going by the rule of half an inch a month, I thought that by December I’d gain at least 4 inches.

Well, if I did, I don’t see it. However, it’s not that serious with me. (Liar!) Taking care of my hair for health and length is a hobby. Some people body build, I hair build.

As for the weight, I’m running in place. I don’t like getting my head wet during this season.

Stinky Sinuses

I just got over a head cold that wouldn’t quit, or was it a sinus infection? It was one of those cases where everything smelled funky; my breath was foul most of the time. Not a fun problem to have.

I saw a doctor: You know what they like to do? Have me take two antibiotics plus another drug for the next two weeks, and pretend that’s a remedy. Turns out that castor or coconut oil in the scalp is better.

Hair Recipe

I’ve been experimenting with a new hair concoction:
• shea butter (the gritty stuff),
• aloe vera or curl activator,
• castor oil,
• carrot creme,
• and a few drops of ylang ylang.
• Stir and saturate hair.

Does it make a difference? I use castor oil for the winter. It makes my knotty hair so smooth I can run a fine tooth comb and brush through it – while damp – like it is straight. Wow! And I’m the Queen of Knotty Strands.

I want my hair longer. I’m not satisfied. I’ll stop having issues with it when it reaches my elbow, bra-strap, or I get bored. Whichever comes first.

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Hair Day: Aloe Vera


I’ve recently switched to using aloe vera (no alcohol) in my hair. I was using castor oil grease and olive oil creme, but the stuff exacerbates my acne. I fight acne daily. It’s a battle between having clear skin and long hair.

Repeating myself: I wash my hair with conditioners mostly. I use Creme of Nature and / or Suave. I’m lazy. Like I do every time, I wash my hair while in twists. I treat my hair like it is dread locs.

I wrap my head in a towel to remove the wetness. While damp I take each twist, open, and apply a very generous amount of aloe vera. I comb my hair with my fingers to remove shed hair, unless it is the back of my neck and hairline. In those areas, I use a comb, sometimes a small tooth one. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. The hair in the back of my head is fine / smooth / soft enough for a small tooth comb.

I even put aloe vera on my face after doing my skin scrub / cleanse routine.

The picture above is the hair style I’ve been wearing since I washed my hair. I sleep with the comb in my hair.

My goal is to wash and wear my hair. I try to leave it alone until the next time I need to wash it. Since I work out daily, that’s about every 3-5 days.

My verdict: aloe vera is better than the greasy stuff. So far the hair is still soft and supple. As long as there is no breakage, I’ll continue to use it.

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