JOURNEY BACK TO NATURAL BEAUTY In Bed with my coils! The drenched pillow! (or “Soaking wet pillow”) Ep.15

12 Sep

Newly naturals, raise your hands! (Please don’t be shy)

Have any of you ever moisturized your hair so much, only to wake-up the next morning with your pillow drenched in oil or moisturiser?! I know I have been there! We are going quite deep here, very intimate! Lol! Sometimes, the pillow is so soaking drenched that even your face benefit from it!  You wake up with a shiny moisturized skin but hair dry like hay! The moisture went everywhere but didn’t stay in the hair! I am sure I am not the only one here! Come on ladies, don’t be shy! Raise your hands too! lol

When you are sleeping on your own, that is not such a big deal, you just flip the pillow side, right?! Just kidding! You learn your lesson: moderate hydration is definitely the way to go!

What when you are sharing your bed?

JOURNEY BACK TO NATURAL BEAUTY Are you ready for intimacy? Ep.16

12 Sep

I remember, just a few months after my third big chop and last texturiser, I met this gorgeous young chocolate man. Our relationship grew to become very intimate. And for the first time I was experiencing the mix “natural coils and boy-friend”.

To be really honest I was quite anxious.  My past experience has let me quite wary of “natural mane and relationship”. I was scared of the “Drenched pillow” experience to happen while being with my new partner. And you know what?! It did … I was still working out the practicalities of being a naturalista…How did it make me feel I hear you asking ? Well, a tad vulnerable…It was the first time, I was facing letting someone into what was for me, at the time, my most intimate and personal journey.

But this time, I wanted “Mister Right” to know me with my natural attributes first!  No hair secrets between us! That was my rule! Because learning to love my hair has been such a key element in my self-love journey and rediscovering of my beauty and femininity, I needed to share with him. I wanted him to be part of it. The first few months, we had quite a few long conversational hours about “hair politics”, and I recommended to him few key books that has truly impacted my journey (one of them is: “Hair Story: Untangling the roots of black hair in America), because at this time it was the only way I felt he could understand me! Hair and relationship has been such a taboo for me in the past few years. But this time I decided to be fully open about it!

JOURNEY BACK TO NATURAL BEAUTY Everybody knows: no one touches a Black woman hair! Ep.17

12 Sep

I was at first quite reluctant for him to touch my hair. I know, it sounds so stereotypical. And I said no more taboo between us! But Ladies, to be honest, after my genitalia, my hair was the most intimate part of my body! So so intimate and delicate!! The more our relationship grew the more it became obvious. He will touch my coils soon! Scary thought (at the time)! I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it but I was feeling pretty vulnerable, such a private matter. Although I was still in my “Hairymoon” (the Hair Honeymoon), so no doubt about my hair; I was worry he may not love it enough. What if he doesn’t love the feel of it? What if he doesn’t love the massive pouf I have after my shampoo and before styling? What if, what if, what if…I was slightly torn, because I was not feeling in control!

But, paradoxically, a part of me was hoping he would one day want to play with my hair spontaneously and love the feel of it. Deep down inside I really wanted him to try and style my hair, just for fun! And have a good laugh about it! I know many of you may think “She is crazy!” ! lol ! I forgive you ! But I was secretly hoping for this level of intimacy to be reached. And I was just scared to death, because it was a truly new way for me to approaching intimacy! Have any of you ever desire this level of complicity with the person she loves?

To be continued

Grow and Retain Long and Healthy Afro Hair

25 Oct

Becoming Natural is a fantastic adventure ! It is a way to rediscover one of our hidden nature. Most of us have not seen our natural hair for decades and have many misconceptions about its true nature. We all know the apprehension of becoming natural, whether it is the fear of how we will look with our natural hair or wondering where to start when becoming natural.

If you are considering becoming natural, but still have some apprehensions, just know it is perfectly understandable ! Many of us have gone through that ! Just remember that nowadays there is plenty of available information as well as massive support networks to guide you through your steps. It is potentially the best moment to start your natural journey.

You could start to watch more youtube videos of women in their natural journeys as it will certainly inspire you and help you to demystify many aspects of our natural hair…and help you realise that after all it is not that difficult. Once you start doing it, you will start to get the hang of things.

You can choose to Big Chop (cut the relax hair) or to Transition (grow your natural hair while keeping the relaxed texture) according to your desire ! Whichever option you choose, please put loads of fun and patience in your journey. We will give you the right map to navigate through your hair journey, so, remember to enjoy every step of it ! And be patient !

If you have been natural for years rocking about the same hair length, thinking it is your ‘genetically determined length’, this guide will interest you. You are certainly thinking that if your hair could grow past shoulder length, you would have known by now ! But the reality is, you don’t know what you don’t know ! 🙂 And that might be the reason why… (Please watch Kimmaytube Hair Growth Journey)

More and more Afro women are growing healthy long hair, whether they are of mixed ethnical background or NOT.  If you want to grow your hair past your plateau length, you will need to abolish certain engrained habits that destroy your hair, so you can embrace new ones and get the results you seek. If what you have done until today didn’t give you the results you wanted (your hair is still not strong and/or long), you have to CHANGE STRATEGY. The results you want should dictate what you do (within reason and integrity of course)!

When we start a new journey, we often feel vulnerable of not knowing what to do next, so, the guide will provide you with the ‘step by step’. You will need to be consistent. The key to your journey will be to learn from the feedback YOUR HAIR will give you. We have gathered key common advices and methods from women with healthy afro hair longer than ‘BraStrap’ and have crammed everything into this guide to help you achieve your hair length goal. So let’s get started ! You will only start to see results as you apply the knowledge… That is the rule of the game..

 

With Love, Erika B

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Grow & Retain

25 Oct

There are two main aspects to getting long and healthy hair. Hair growth and hair retention are two different part of the same coin. Hair growth is genetically determined, but can be influenced by diet and lifestyle. While hair retention (which is the ability to keep the growth so it would not break) is mainly achieved through external handling. The blog will cover both aspects.

Hair Growth: Influence of Diet & Lifestyle

25 Oct

The health of our hair comes from how we treat it externally as well as from within. The growth rate of your hair is determined genetically and can be influenced by your diet. A balanced diet is necessary for a healthy scalp and hair. Our hair grows from the roots which are embedded in our scalp. The roots (follicles) are fed by blood vessels. So, our follicles are receiving nutrients ( amino-acids – basic blocks that will form proteins, omegas, iron…) and hair can only grow when sufficient nutrients are available.

(Credit to PR Charles Sisterlocks)

Diet Impact: The Importance of Water

25 Oct

Water is our hair best friend ! We will discuss later in the guide how important it is to moisturise externally, but now, lets discuss how important it is to moisturise internally.

Water is a key element as it does help you to digest and metabolise the nutrients so they can be used by your body. Water helps the body to process and flush out toxins faster. Drinking water will promote healthier scalp and healthier hair. When your body doesn’t get enough water, it begins to dry out. The skin and hair are the first and most noticeable areas of dryness from dehydration.

Diet Impact: the Importance of Nutrients

25 Oct

Why are nutrients so crucial? What happens if we have deficiency?

Having moisturised hair will not help your hair to grow faster, it will just reduce risk of breakage. The growth rate of your hair is determined genetically but can be influenced by your diet.

Correct food is key to healthy hair growth. A mix of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein…) and a big supply of oxygen is necessary for a healthy hair growth. Your hair can fall or grow slower (which mean not reaching your ‘genetically determined’ optimal growth) if you have nutritional deficiencies. When your body has nutritional deficiencies it does re-prioritize the distribution of nutrients, so vital organs (like your heart and lungs) are served first, (hair follicles will not be considered a priority in that case). Nutrition is a key part of your hair growth regimen. Your hair ultimately reflects the overall condition of the body. When your health is at risk or you have nutritional deficiencies, hair may stop growing or become brittle. If your body is in good health, then, it is possible to maximize genetic growth cycle.

The needs (minerals, protein, vitamins) of your follicle (roots) MUST be satisfied so you can reach your optimum hair growth.

Certain food deficiencies will leave your hair to dry, stringy and dull, and occasionally your hair will shed. Generally nutritional hair loss can be restored once the deficiency has been corrected. So, let’s start eating properly !

When you are healthy it is possible to maximize your genetic growth cycle by eating the proper blend of amino acids (Protein forming blocks) and B-vitamins.

Diet Impact: the Importance of Protein

25 Oct

Hair is composed of keratin proteins. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Hair is composed of 20 amino acids. A poor diet can potentially still allow your hair to grow at a normal rate, but a lack of protein in your diet can slow down or stop your hair growth altogether; your hair could even start to shed.

There are four key amino acids needed to produce keratin protein (i.e. produce hair): cysteine, lysine, arginine and methionine. Methionine and Lysine must be sourced from our diet. Arginine and Cysteine can be synthesised by the body. But if your nutrition is poor, their levels will be low. A quarter of our keratin is made of Cysteine. By increasing the availability of those 4 amino acids, it’s possible to combat hair loss and stimulate new hair growth.

Protein Table

Diet Impact: the Importance of Vitamins

25 Oct

Lack of vitamins in your diet can lead to potential loss of hair and substantial degradation of your hair health.

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Diet Impact: the Importance of Essential Fatty Acids

25 Oct

Essential fatty acids are fats that the body needs but can’t produce itself. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids aid in hair growth. Omega-3 fatty acids can help with blood circulation and cell growth, which are important for your hair follicles. Essential fatty acids help to increase nutrient absorption at the hair follicles. A lack of essential fatty acids can generate dandruff, dry, brittle hair or eczema all of which may lead to hair loss.

Most popular sources are walnuts, fish oil, flaxseed oil etc. Because hair needs essential fatty acids, if you are on low-fat and non-fat diets you are at risk for nutrition-related hair loss. Essential fatty acid deficiency causes a drying-up of the scalp and skin. These are vital nutrients that support follicular health. When the follicle is not healthy, hair loss or thinning occurs.

Diet Impact: the Importance of Trace Elements

25 Oct

Diet Impact: Quick Summary

29 Oct

Diets should contain protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and an appropriate amount of fat for optimum hair growth.

The needs (minerals, protein, vitamins) of your follicle (roots) MUST be satisfied so you can reach your optimum hair growth. When you are healthy it is possible to maximize your genetic growth cycle by eating the proper blend of amino acids (Protein forming blocks) and B-vitamins. A lack of protein in your diet can slow down or stop altogether your hair growth, your hair could even start to shed. Lack of vitamins in your diet can lead to potential loss of hair and substantial degradation of your hair health. A lack of essential fatty acids can generate dandruff, dry, brittle hair or eczema all of which may lead to hair loss. A balanced food diet would be ineffective without proper blood flow to the hair. It may be beneficial to increase the circulation.

Now is the time to start planning your diet ! 🙂

Lifestyle Impact

29 Oct

Do you Smoke?

If you do, be aware that your body is potentially more dehydrated than normal and you will need to compensate for that loss in moisture. Plus, smoking can deprive certain internal organs of oxygen, and we have seen above the consequences of oxygen deprivation on hair growth.

Do you Drink Coffee?

If you do drink coffee on a very regular basis, be aware that your body is potentially more dehydrated than normal and you will need to compensate for that loss in moisture.

Do you Sleep enough?

Regular sleep cycles help your body regulate melatonin and cortisol levels, both of which affect hair growth. Sleep is necessary to maintaining your body and when your body doesn’t get enough, it begins to shut down side processes like hair production. Each person has different sleep needs, so be sure to get the right amount for your body.

Hair Handling: Determine your hair type

29 Oct

Why do we start by assessing your hair type? Because we know you want to know! Haha !Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.35.00

More seriously, determining your hair type will actually help with basic understanding of your hair needs. It will help you select the right hair care regimen for your hair, as well as styling options.

The key understanding in hair typing is : the tighter your coils, the more fragile your hair is (more prone to breakage). The tighter your coils, the more potential rupture points there is. If you take the time to look at an individual strand of your hair closely, you will notice that where your hair curls it is usually thinner. This is one o
f the key reasons, why type 4 hair tend to be shorter. They can break way more easily. 

The key point of finding roughly your hair type is to be able to give it adequate care, and do appropriate protective styles (if needed). Type 3 hair, are less prone to breakage that type 4 (due to their looser curl pattern that tangles less and has fewer ‘breaking points) and therefore require a bit less emphasis on protective styling for the strands. But, types 3 and 4 require both moisture and protection of the tips (ends).

Hair Handling: Type 4 hair characteristics

29 Oct

(Credit to Naptural85)

If you consider that your hair will grow on average 1.5 cm a month (which is  a bit more than 15cm a year), you won’t keep those 15cm if every single day your hair snaps and breaks because of harsh manipulation, dryness and regular friction. Little by little the growth is eroded letting you believe that you have reached your ‘genetically determined length’. Our hair breakage is general not really visible (because we mainly loose little bits of coils at the time). So since it is not that visible, it is generally not alarming to us. But don’t be fooled! You will need to address it if you want to retain your growth.

Our hair grows from the roots which are embedded in our scalp. To retain growth every year it is essential to prevent breakage of the strands and tips and keep the hair moisturised !

Please read on to make sure to apply those simple principles correctly

Hair Handling: Weathering

29 Oct

What is Weathering?

Weathering describes damage done to the hair and the progressive breakdown of the hair fibre. Weathering can have many causes (lack of moisture, harsh grooming…) and lead to unhealthy hair.  You will see below the different types of weathering that can affect Type 4 hair length retention and how to reduce weathering.

Hair Handling: Protect your strands (1)

29 Oct

 Understanding ‘Catch&Pull’ and the importance of ‘Protective Styling’

Type 4, due to its coily nature will have the tendency to catch on fabrics and rough surfaces. Catching on and pulling will lead to the hair breaking up!  Repetitive catching on and pulling will lead to no length retention! Many of us have experienced going to bed without a scarf/ bonnet, with our hair not in protective style and waking up to find little coily bits of hair all over the place. Or even at some point hearing or feeling the little ‘snapping’ when the hair breaks.

Type 4 hair requires lower manipulation and low friction, especially when it is in its coily form, so the coils won’t snap. But one of the main key success point to retain length with Type 4 hair, is to reduce the risk of ‘snappage’ by keeping your hair ‘straightened,’ in the form of braids, twists, buns, box braids etc… The protective methods that aims at keeping coily hair ‘un-coily’ (straighten) are great to reduce risk ‘snappage’— except if they are done too tight and break the hair by exercising too much tensile force.

No more harsh grooming Ladies ! When you detangle your coils, please be gentle. The same way the coils can hook on fabric it will hook around the teeth of a comb. And fast, hard combing will rip the hair which is hooked on the comb. This is one of the reasons why most of us think our hair never grows ! We rip it off !

You want to avoid strand breakage to the maximum. And harsh grooming does cause strand breakage. You have no length retention when you break your strands on a regular basis.

If you are combing on dry hair, it is better done without tools, just with your fingers, to slowly remove your knots. With afro hair the comb gets stuck in the hair resulting in more damage and then more friction.

When afro hair is damp, friction decreases. When hair becomes very wet and water fills the spaces between the fibres, friction decreases as water acts as a lubricant. But, on chemically treated hair the water acts to hold the fibres together like a glue. This makes them difficult to separate and increases combing resistance or apparent friction. 

When combing on wet, damp hair (Best option ! As it allows to reduce friction, so the tool used can more easily glide in the hair), some start combing near the tip, other near the roots. It does not really matter, the most important is that you are gentle with your gesture, and do not rip through the knots and coils..Most YouTubers start at the tip and gradually go back up to the root. Your call ! But be gentle and apply some conditioner or moisturiser to facilitate the gliding and reducing the friction. It is advised to use a wide tooth comb. The smaller the teeth, the more ripping potential. The same advise would apply to the use a brush such as a Denman Brush.

Be wary of your Styling Accessories

Use looser styles if possible and try to avoid hair ties with metal pieces, as these can catch on and pull out hair (snatching it).

Hair Handling: Protect your strands (2)

30 Oct

Understanding Dryness and Moisture

Type 4 hair, due to its coily nature will have the tendency to be dry. The sebum (natural oil secreted by the scalp) is not able to flow to the end of the coily hair. The dryness of the Type 4 Hair will cause it to be naturally quite brittle. Moisture gives to the hair the ability to be supple and elastic. With low or no moisture content hair is prone to breakage.

Water helps to make hair more flexible allowing it to be manipulated with reduced risk of breaking.

Water is a fundamental component of human hair. Water has a profound effect on the properties of the hair fibre. When damp or wet it becomes more stretchy, softer. Moisture is crucial to limit the damage to hair during grooming, styling. The water content of a strand of hair impact how much it can bend. More water making the fibre softer and easier to bend. This way hair growth can be retained as less damage to the strand means that the hair can continue to be present for more years.

Considerate handling when washing, combing, styling natural hair as well as protective styling (e.g braids and twists) is crucial to length retention. Dry hair will snap easily even with gentle force, this is why moisture is important even in a protective style.

It is important to realise that you cannot permanently get rid of dry hair !

Added moisture is temporary. As our hair is naturally dry, it will switch from its moisturised state to its default dry state. For that reason hair care regimen should include regular moisture addition. Adding water to hair and preserving it in the strands with oils and moisturisers is crucial to hair suppleness and in the long run length retention.

How often you should moisturise your hair? Your best indicator will be your hair’s feedback. You should be able to assess weather your hair is getting more brittle and need more moisture or if it is too moisturised and has become limp !  A good balance is key and very unique to each individual.

Side note: Hair dried using a dryer (hand held, hood, heated roller or curling tongs) has lower moisture levels than hair allowed to dry naturally.

Hair Handling: Protecting your Tips (ends)

30 Oct

The tip of our hair is its oldest part and the most fragile (because hair grows from the roots, the roots are always the newest sprouts !). The tips are drier and more brittle. No matter how fast your hair grows, if the tip is brittle, it will break and you will not retain length. When damaged /brittle hair break, while new hair grows, it does appear as if your hair is not growing. So, increase moisture focus on your tips as well as protective styling (where your tips are tucked in) are imperative.

Hair is made of Amino-acids. Cystine (an amino acid naturally present in hair) is consistently lower in the tips of damaged hair compared to their roots, while cysteic acid (an amino acid) is found in increasing amounts. Cysteic acid occurs from the oxidation of cystine and is not a naturally occurring amino acid in normal hair.

Trimming your hair on a regular basis. It may sound counter-intuitive but trimming your hair can actually promote hair retention. When split ends develop, it does weaken hair and causes it to break. If you trim regularly, it will significantly reduce split ends, leading to stronger and better-looking hair. Trimming can require to remove as little as few millimetres to few centimetres.

How to know how much to trim? Assess by looking thoroughly at your hair and trim what is needed. No point in keeping damaged hair. But a trim is not a cut neither. No point removing too much, too often, otherwise you will not see the result of your hair care regimen, you will cut it all.