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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hair Care Part 2: Deep Conditioning

So I mentioned in my last post that I'd take you all on a walk-through of my hair care routine.  I'm not feeling up to writing a long, metaphor laden preamble, so I'll get right to it.

It all starts with a comb:
I always start by thoroughly combing my hair.

 It helps removes tangles, dead hair, and aligns the hair shafts nicely.  This is important because you don't want to FIGHT with your hair while detangling.

The Conditioning:
I start by conditioning my hair.  Yes, before I even wash it.

This time I used Fructis
 I usually put a 'cheapo' conditioner on my hair right before I got to bed.

A huge glob of it, but this isn't even enough.

When you sleep, your body opens up all its pores.  Sleeping with conditioner on your head is an opportunity for your hair to suck in some additional moisture.

But seriously, this is starting to look gross
And I still need more...

I usually put enough conditioner to fully coat my hair from root to tip because, well, my hair's DRY.  It needs every drop of moisture.  As it sucks in all that extra moisture, it starts to curl quite nicely.

Hair, this is what you could be...if you weren't so UNRULY.

It's even pretty like this, too bad curls are so hard to maintain.  I tried letting my hair be itself for a while, but I only managed to keep it neat and cute looking for about 3 days.  After I've fully coated it, I put it in a bun, like so.

And then I put one of those thin plastic shower caps on it so I don't ruin my pillows

The Washing:

When I wake up, I rinse out all of the conditioner, which has dried over night.  The result is a very lively head of hair.  But we are not done.  I still haven't WASHED my hair.  So, I wash my hair with a mild shampoo, usually 2-3 times, depending on how I feel about it.  You know when your hair needs extra attention.  If you've been sweating at a gym all week, it needs to be washed THOROUGHLY.  You do not want any nasty crap left on your hair when you put the good conditioner on it.

The Second Conditioning:
Remember what I said about using good products to take care of your dry hair's moisture needs?  I condition with Moroccanoil intense hydrating hair mask.  This stuff is full off all kinds of natural botanicals, healthy oils and proteins for your dry, damaged hair. 

Good Product
It's as thick as vegetable shortening too.  If you have less dry hair, or your hair is straighter than mine, DO NOT USE the intense hydrating mask.  It will weigh your hair down and make it look lank and stringy.  Use the 'light' or 'weightless mask' by Moroccanoil. You'll get all the moisture, but you won't look like you waded through an oil slick.

Moroccanoil is very specific about HOW you should be using their product.  On the jar, it states that you should comb the product through your wet hair.  DO THIS.  I've found that when I just glob it on there, not all of my hair is thoroughly conditioned.   In fact, some of it feels just as dry and crusty as it did before.  So, I comb it through with a nice, wide-toothed detangling comb, like a good little girl.  I let it sit on my hair for 1-2 hours, usually under one of those salon style dryers if I can manage it.  Heat helps to open your hair's pores up again and seals in the moisture.  In this case, it's a good thing.

The Rinsing:
Finally, I carefully rinse my hair so that I get all of the hair mask out.  Then, I gently massage the Moroccanoil oil treatment or intense hydrating cream into my hair as a leave-in conditioner and let it drip dry.  My end result is this: shiny, bouncy, waves of curls.  Isn't it pretty?

Until I bust out my iron comb and straighten it, that is.

My next post will be about a crafting project.  I swear.  I've got my mojo back!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hair Care for Black Girls

Not to leave any of my non-African American readers out, but this post is for those of us born with the iconic, kinky, curly and downright untamable nappy hair!  Hair has long been seen as a woman's crowning glory and everyone wants the luxury or at least the ability to grow a full head of healthy hair.  Sadly, that seems to be difficult for African American girls.  I have seen some heads in some sorry states: over processed, thinning from sew-in, glue-in, braid-in weaves that stress folicles, poor hair care practices and insane levels of breakage.
A child with traction alopecia

I've seen girls with actual bald spots, patches of hair so dry and brittle that running a comb through it means it's not there any more.  It's not just teens with their whacky fashions or older women going through 'The Change'.  It's epidemic.  Children have these problems.  It shouldn't this common.  I find it disturbing when people MARVEL at the fact that I have hair passed my shoulder blades and it doesn't look like broom straw.
I tried to get to the ah... root of the problem.  A large part of it seems to be a combination of ignorance, laziness, and the kind of miserly behavior that often leads to people with a fancy looking object that will not last long.  African American women and girls don't seem to have access to the basic fundamentals necessary to properly clean, condition, and care for their hair.  I'm not saying that folks should abandon their beauty routines, but they need to make some changes.
As a child, my mother ALWAYS stressed the importance of conditioning and properly washing your hair.  As a result, I've developed a set of rules that work for ME.  As we all know, sometimes long, thick hair is a blessing of nature and there's nothing you can do to make your genetics change overnight.  But here are some basic rules that you should follow to help ensure you have the healthiest hair you can have.

 1. Your hair is alive.  Pay attention to its needs to keep it healthy.
People sort of forget this.  Just because you want to get a relaxer this week, doesn't mean your hair feels the same way.  Touch your hair, if it feels crunchy or brittle, it's dry and needs extra moisture.  If it's limp and shiny, it needs less moisture.  If you have a lot of split ends, you need to trim it before they creep all the way up to your scalp and damage the hair permanently.  You need to make sure your beauty routine is built with your hair in mind.  If you deny it what it needs, like a good significant other, it will leave you.

2. Spend Some Money on Good Products.
Not all hair care products are created equal.  Chances are if you're only paying $5 for your shampoo and conditioner, they're filled with harsh alcohols, drying agents and sulfates.  African American hair can't really afford to lose moisture to poor hair care products.  Try a sulfate free shampoo (It's going to cost you) that includes natural plant extracts to cleanse and nourish your hair.   The same goes for conditioners.  Often times the one that makes your hair smell like berries and sunshine doesn't nourish it the best.  I've found that the best conditioners include natural oils.  The only problem with using these products is you'll have to wash your hair more often.  Natural oils have the tendency to go rancid.  You don't want to stink. 

3. Be Gentle to Your Hair.
Chemical treatments, coloring, heat-styling, blow drying, teasing and hair spray all take their toll on hair.  But the way you handle it when you wash, comb and sleep on it also play a part.  My mom always tells me to comb my hair out before I wash it, to be careful not to tangle it when I wash it and to be extra careful and patient when combing it out before wet styling.  Wash your hair like you wash your panty hose or how you lather up a sponge.  Squeeze and release it while it's full of soap so you don't tangle it.  Wash your scalp too.  Massage it gently to help break up dandruff and clogged pores so new hair can grow in full and healthy.  Do not yank your hair.  Always comb starting from the tips and work your way up to the roots.  Remove harsh tangles with your fingers to avoid ripping out your hair.

4. Deep Condition and Air Dry as Much as Possible.
Deep Conditioning is when you let your hair soak in the conditioner for more than 2 hours.  It's a pain to sit around with a wet head, wrapped up in saran wrap, but trust me, it works wonders on your follicles.  You'll notice an immediate change, even if you use a cheapo conditioner.  Air drying also helps your hair to regain some of its natural vigor.  With blow drying, the oils and moisturizers from your good conditioner get blasted right off it, leaving it dryer and more naked.  For the sake of expedience, sometimes you have to blow dry your hair, but when you can, give your hair a break.  Spend a day inside and catch up on chores instead of getting ready to do a ton of running.

And that's it, pretty much.  Check out my next post for my personal deep conditioning routine.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Product Review: Shills Black Mask

A while ago, I was hunting for some sort of remedy to help with my skin's sudden tendency to explode with nasty cystic acne and I stumbled upon a sort of facial mask that peels off and apparently purifies.  The product is created and marketed by Shills an Asian beauty company.
Many Americans are insanely enamored with Asian countries and practically scream, "OOOH ASIAN PEOPLE!!" like poorly educated otaku in crappy cosplay.
But not Sailor Bubba, his Cosplay's ALWAYS Awesome!
Knowing this, I was skeptical of the reviews that read like a dating column for a mail order bride instead of detailing an experience with the actual product.  But hey.  I've got nothing to lose, so I bought a tube.
With any product one of the first things that folks look at is the price of the item.  No one wants to shell out an arm and a leg for something that may or may not work.  The cost of the Shills Black Mask was pretty reasonable considering its a facial in a tube.  Only about 3 bucks with free shipping.

The outward appearance of the product was pretty basic.  An all black box, and all black tube, a slip of paper inside detailing the ingredients in the product and what each of them does.
 ...Written in Gothic-style type face befitting a horror movie poster.  Should I really be using this?  Is the real cure for my bad skin or a rabid vampire leaping from the bottle and gnoshing on my neck?  Hmm...

Upon squeezing out the product on my hand, I found that it looked a lot like ...tar.  It was THICK and I mean thick.  I've used peel off facial masks before and all of them have a viscous, sticky texture that dries to a slightly stretchy film.  This stuff was in  a category all its own.  First off, it was BLACK.  When you read the package, you expect something that's dark colored, possibly semi-transparent, but no.  This stuff is as blacker than the bottom of the Mariana Trench at midnight.  It was also VERY sticky, literally strong enough to stick my fingers together.  How was I supposed to get it on my face?!  ...Luckily I managed,  with these results!
Looks like Black-Face not a purifying mask!
Final Review: Well, I didn't experience any extreme skin changes like all the folks posting macro photos of millions of gross blackheads attached to the shills mask, but it was very benificial nonetheless.  My skin was SO SMOOTH, my pores weren't as clogged, the blemishes that remained dried up and flaked off, AND alarmingly, my dark spots were a lot less dark.  I also learned that you should never get this stuff in your eyebrows unless you want to lose them when you peel it off.  My whole face felt like it had been plucked!  Ow!
At least I won't have to get my eyebrows waxed now. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Prophetic Ducks

You know, I do make things some times.  The recent baby surge has inspired me to make baby things.  Unfortunately, I have this horrible habit of ...not remembering to take pictures when I get down in the dirty dirty of sewing or crafting.  I know, I know.   It's a horrible, terrible habit- or lack of habit I should say.
However, I have something else interesting to post that's sort of related.  A while ago, my friend Shannon and her husband Tony had their wedding reception- delayed about a year after the actual wedding due to her shyness and to ensure that their first year as a couple was not fraught with financial woes brought on by the fairytale, debt-swarming party most people splurge on.  I, the pitiful sod that I am, was unable to make the wedding, send gifts, or anything else as I was unemployed at the time.
At the reception, I made sure to bring them gifts.  I brought three gifts, representing their past, present and future together.  Something silly and nostalgic to remind them of their long, happy history together (A small sentimental plaque.), something fun and interesting to encourage them to continue to work and play together (A trivia game featuring one of the bands they listen to), and finally, something to make them look favorably upon the future (a pair of handmade sock ducks).

The future I joked about in my card hinted at a dream I'd had when I'd fallen asleep whilst crafting the ducks.   I dreamed that I was swimming in a bubbly pond full of fish.
If you've ever had a strange prophetic dream, you'll know that bubbles and fish always mean that there will be a 'new arrival'.  Months later, Shannon found out that she was pregnant.  My other friends became terrified of my handmade sock animals.  No matter how cute they were, they wanted nothing to do with them.  Apparently, a gift of cutesy sock critters means babies will happen.  It's like I have a super power or something.  *eyebrow waggle* 

At any rate, I have to finish these buntings and quilts I've been making for my new babies (My cousin went into labor this morning, so there will be another bundle of love for me to coo at.).  Hopefully, I'll remember to take pictures.