Struggle Bus Natural- Big ole Update

Let’s talk about my hair.

So this is gonna be a lowkey hair growth update and some observations because I blew out my hair and have been wearing it out.

I’ve been natural for I dunno how long. I had a few times where I went back to relax my hair a bit.

Last weekend I gave myself a blow out because I got bored with my wig and am in the home stretch of my move and didn’t want to really be messing with my hair.

For a while I’ve been kind of struggling thinking my hair was thin. Now that I’ve figured out more how to care for my hair I dunno. I think that too many years of following other naturals who don’t have the same texture as me or my head of hair was rearing up.

I don’t have the big magnificent hair that we see as the marker of Black beauty. I just don’t. It is big. It is not orderly and my fro does this when I don’t mess with it:

That is how my hair looks completely nude. No product. Freshly washed and just let to do what she wanna do. I have a deep natural part in my hair that literally goes from my forehead to almost the crown of my head. I have always had it. The texture of my hair along the part is looser and grows almost kinky straight.

I also thought my edges were thinning. I do have one slightly baldy spot in my edges on the left that happens when I am too stressed out. It just does. This move has maxed my stressed levels so my lil freakout spot is filling back in but was clean bald for a minute. Also the softest bit of skin ever on my whole body for a bit.

I looked at some older photos that I can’t find now and y’all, that’s just how my edges are.

My fellow struggle bus naturals. Hey, you. Come here. If your hair isn’t the fluffiest most plum n juicy curls it is okay. Your hair is great. My hair is great OKAY.

Okay.

SO I gave myself a BOMB blowout. I prepood with coconut oil. A word about coconut oil. I know it has fallen out of fashion. Personally my hair is not on the straight protein bandwagon and doing an overnight coconut oil prepoo once or twice a month makes a huge difference for me. If I use coconut oil a bit sparingly, it works way better. Pro tip.

Then I double cleansed. I used the Shea Moisture (yeah I know we’ll get to it) Raw Shea butter shampoo. (YES amazon affiliatelinks cause Auntie needs coins). So a while back Shea Moisture decided to cash out and go “multi culteral” and in their ads, really ignored the Black women mainly who shot that brand into the stratosphere. They did apologize but I am still not really into them. I also know that some of their products have changed a lot so they are more friendly to White folks and that just makes me angry. I had some of the JBCO lines and compared bottles on the same products and it was very disappointing. THey also called some Black bloggers liars for pointing it out. So I don’t really fucks with them that much.

I had it around and used it.

I followed up with a sulfate shampoo. Garnier Fructis Brazilian Smooth Fortifying Shampoo. Y’all, I have so many Garnier products they are really going in. I LOVE their stuff and it is so inexpensive and easy to find. When I know I’m going to use heat I always use a shampoo that is either anti breakage or fortifying or smoothing. Straightening wash day is about keeping my hair strong and moist.

I followed up with my black tea rinse. I use a jug basically and hot tap water. I drop 4-6 bags of plain black tea in there the night before (I like it strong, if you don’t drink tea or coffee do it an hour before you wash) and then before I wash I dig out the tea bags and drop in a few drops of lavender essential oil or peppermint. Over the years I’ve tried many anti breakage and anti shedding remedies and always come back to black tea. You can also do it in a spray bottle as part of your leave in or do it like I do. After rinsing out all my shampoo I saturate my hair with the tea and massage it into my scalp. Then I added my deep conditioner on top.

I always mix my deep conditioners. I have yet to find one single formula that does it all. This particular mix I wanted some strength and a lot of moisture and less oil than I use when I am not heat styling. I had some trial packets of the Garnier Whole Blends Repairing Mask Honey Treasures so I used some of those. A few sploots of Pantene Pro-V Anti-Breakage Conditioner that I picked up at Grocery outlet a while back. Interestingly, the black folks line from Pantene irritates the shit out of my scalp. I filled it out with some random other moisturizing conditioners. And of course I added a few drops of peppermint essential oil and just the smallest dollop of castor oil. I sat under my bonnet dryer for fifteen minutes, had a hot flash and went and took a nap.

I have a handheld dryer with this giant weird comb/brush/roller attachment thing. It is really old and they don’t make it anymore. But basically it has a finer tooth comb bit, then the air comes out of the larger tooth bit and on the back are these little velvety roller things. Once I figured out how to use that with the tension method voila. For heat protection I used Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Blow Dry Anti-Frizz Cream. Y’all that shit is so good.

This was my result, no other product. Just before I cut about 2 inches off.

hairs

[image description: The author, brown skinned person with kinky blown out hair. Wearing glasses and a lip ring]

Y’all look at my hair.

Is it the thickest? No. But it is so beautiful and I’m so happy with my progress. My roots weren’t super straight which is fine. Yes, all my hair photos I’m bare ass because I don’t wear clothes when I do my hair.

My next project post move will be to make more of my hair growth/scalp stimulation/healing oil. And this summer I might start whipping my own shea butter. AND this summer, I’m tackling some styles so stay tuned for that.

That’s all babes.

Struggle Bus Naturals Post- Curl pattern or nah?

Hello my fellow Struggle Bus Naturals.

So hey…..hey boo.

A few weeks ago yours truly had a wee bit of a hair meltdown. We all have them. Whether it is a setback an oops etc. My last one you can read about here, my not about that braid life hella fail. 

Ahem.

SO what had happened was I feel victim to following too many other naturals. I know. Y’all. I know.

So with my hair getting longer and it being healthy as hell and beautiful I’ve been wanting to do some styles between wigs. I’ve looked at braid out, twist out, wash n go tutorials galore and had come to the conclusion that somehow I had damaged my hair and broken my curl pattern.

I have been misunderstanding my curls.

This is what my hair looks like  freshly washed and deep conditioned.

wethair

[image description: brown faced author, with half of their face visible and a look at crinkly black hair]

Okay so that is just what she is. My hair has a mix of just kinky hair and wee tiny coily curls. The ends of my hair will do lil ringlets when clumped but, when left alone this is what happens. Now here is where I shouldn’t have believed my eyes. When my hair was shorter and also virgin, my hair had a bit more round type curls. But only when wet. As my hair has gotten healthier it has gotten thicker and my actual texture is very much a mix of 4c/zish.

A lot of the natural hair folks I was watching, have looser curls. I do follow around a good number of type 4 folks but, I did not parse that most of them are wearing/doing styles with their hair stretched.

DING DING stretched.

Stretched.

Whoa.

So the meltdown was in my air dried hair having no coils or juicy curls. Not manipulated my hair when dry is crinkly and kinky. Beautiful. Full and bouncy. Leonine.

I don’t have a good pic but take my word for it.

Y’all, shit got real. I was moisturizing and shit and was teary. I thought I needed to big chop again and I worked SO HARD to nip away damage from an intense color I had, I spend so much time loving my fro and y’all….

Luckily I learned from the last time I did that shit and I did not. I did my LOC method, braided and did some research.

Turns out, my hair is fine.

I also figured out that my hair is medium porosity.

What I’ve figured out is that my method of just really paying attention to how my hair feels keeps it in the best condition. The one thing I think I’ve been doing not quite right is not detangling well enough. With my medium porosity hair that is slightly protein sensitive, it stays well hydrated if I do the FULL LOC method on wash day then mid week or so I spritz my hair with my Oyin Juices and Berries leave in. If I need to detangle I use a more intense leave in.

I need slip because my kinks like to cuddle and that has led to me having some epic knots and y’all, I had a period of only finger detangling and that is not the business. That was also part of the problem with my fail braids. I hadn’t detangled with tools and it was a mess.

So lately on wash day if I’m doing the full prepoo, shampoo (double cleanse) and deep condition I will start the detaingling while I do my prepoo. That is when I finger detangle. This seems really extra but when you’re already prone to terrible migraines AND you are absurdly tender headed, it works. One problem with being really tender headed is that my scalp starts to get sore and I don’t want to detangle anymore. So I stopped doing it all in one go.

After that, I do a bit more while cleansing. With my fingers. Then after I DC I detangle the most under my shower. Any knots remaining I use a denman and I twist or braid each section, and I use a bit of tension to stretch my roots.

Since I’ve been doing that my shedding is way down. OH also because I’ve been tea rinsing but I’ll talk more about that later.

My breakage is also super down.

SO the lesson here my fellow struggle bus loves is as always, sometimes you cannot take the word of anybody except your own.

Now my loves. Next Struggle Bus post will likely be a lil length check after my next trim and straighten. I’m HYPE to straighten my hair I haven’t done so in like two years.

Until then I love y’all!!

Struggle Bus Naturals- Quick and Dirty new naturals tips.

Hello my gorgeous friends.

Today I want to talk about being newly natural and confused AF.

As usual, there will be amazon affiliate links.

And as with all stuff, this is my experience. Your mileage may vary. Before we get into tips, let’s talk natural hair jargon.

Low/no poo- this is basically when you either use sulfate shampoos rarely or not at all.

Sulfates- OKAY here is a thing. A lot of natural hair related stuff will scare tactic you with the term sulfates. OMG SO DANGEROUS, DESTROYS HAIR..IT IS DISHSOAP. Nope. Sulfate only describes the stuff that makes the thing clean your hair. Or your car or your dishes. The sulfates in your shampoo are not exactly the same as what you use in your dishwasher. Sulfate shampoos are not inherently evil. Some folks have hair that can tolerate being super squeaky cleaned with suds, some don’t.

In the same vein, CHEMICALS. Okay, let’s have a real talk. Chemicals are everything, everything is chemicals. Water is a chemical. Chemicals are not to be inherently feared because they are both natural and man made. That said, anything can cause an adverse reaction and that does not automatically mean a product or ingredient is the devil. You can be allergic to water.

Pro tips about allergens: if you have a nut allergy be very careful using anything with shea butter or coconut oil. How do you know if you’re having a reaction? Redness, intense itching, hives etc. If you have those, or fear a reaction, stop using something. If it is i n your hair, try shampooing with a gentle shampoo and rinsing very very well.

Cowash- As I talked about here, this is using conditioner or a conditioner based cleanser to clean your hair.

L.O.C Method- My personal favorite method of keeping my hair well moisturized and in good condition. It stands for Leave In, Oil and Cream. We’ll talk about that a bit further down.

EVOO- Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-poo- Treating your hair with conditioner or oil prior to washing.

DCing- Deep conditioning. Using a dedicated deep conditioner ideally under a plastic cap or bag, for 15 minutes to however long with or without extra heat.

Big Chop- Cutting off all your relaxed hair.

Transition- Going natural without a big chop.

Tip no. 1) Limit yourself as to how much advice you take in. Including mine. I got very big eyes when I first went natural and in the process wound up spending a lot of money, doing some damage to my hair and ultimately feeling really stressed that my transition to natural wasn’t going like it seemed to go in the hair blogs. So, slow your roll.

2.) Start simple. Whether you big chop or transition start easy. Establish a simple routine for yourself so you have a baseline idea of how to take care of your hair. When I transitioned to natural here’s what I did: I found that my hair responds well to heavier butter based moisturizers. I started using whipped shea butters to moisturize my hair. I discovered that my hair doesn’t really like hard core protein. Basically, take your time and get to know your hair.

This is especially important for those who had relaxed hair for a really long time. Let me tell you a story.

When I was first fully natural I was envisioning myself with a perfectly round little afro (a TWA) just like my Mom had back in the day. I remembered her tightly coiled hair and how shiny it was and yadda yadda.

What I have…is not that on my head. My natural hair is incredibly variously textured. From 4/a/b in spots to almost straight in a few sections. I thought it was damaged so I spent the first few years being natural cutting a lot off of my hair. Then I realized that’s just my hair.

Other things to get to know about your hair when you’re starting out. I wish I’d known about porosity.  Once you figure out what kind of porosity you’re working with, learning what products work for you will be easier.

3.) If you don’t know how, try learning how to cornrow. I personally can’t. I’ve tried and tried and can’t do it. But, I do believe it’s a great skill to have.

4.) Start out with good habits. Don’t detangle on dry hair. Soak it in conditioner or oil or get it wet. Work in sections. Even if your hair is very short, learn to work in sections. Learn to shampoo properly. Concentrate shampoo on your scalp and let the run off cleanse your hair. As a general rule, if you shampoo spend twice the time rinsing than you do sudsing. Don’t use your nails on your scalp use the pads of your fingers.

5.) Figure out a good method to trim your hair. Alternately decide if you want a pro to do it. I use the search and destroy method most often.

Those are my tips for those just starting. Let’s talk some details.

I’ll tell you about my routine with my hair.

I’m a protective styler. Mainly because I’m bad at styling but also because I’m trying to retain every bit of growth I get. My go to protective styles are buns and wigs.

Under my wig, my hair is braided into smallish braids. Not cornrows. I take them down every two weeks to cleanse. One week I will cowash another I will use shampoo. I always pre-treat my hair with coconut oil. After I do that, I wash and deep condition. I fully detangle my hair in the shower and put it into 4 big twists. I let that air dry a bit then I use the LOC method and rebraid my hair.

Every other month or so I deep clean my hair or clarify it. Pro-tip, if your hair isn’t taking moisture like it usually does, try doing this to strip all residue from your scalp and hair.

I will use the OGX Tea Tree and peppermint shampoo first. After I rinse that out, I use the Shea Moisture raw shea moisture retention shampoo. That combo does both my hair and scalp good.

I follow up clarifying with an intense deep conditioner. My favorites are the Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner but only in the packets. The bottle doesn’t seem to work as well for me. I’m also a big fan of the SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Masque. The Shea Moisture products tend to be very very heavily scented so be aware of that. I also love the Dark and Lovely AU Naturale Moisture L O C Deep Conditioning Delight.

Once my hair has air dried a bit I start with my LOC method. I have used Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin. I added a bit of light castor oil and it worked very nicely for me. For more slip, I highly recommend My DNA Leave-in Conditioner and Detangler. I used two bottles of this and it worked very nicely both times.

For oil you can use plain oils, probably not castor oil because of how heavy it is. But EVOO, coconut or whatever. I have a super secret about oils. I use commercial oils that have stuff I like in them. Check for hair loving herbs and stuff. My faves are, African Royale Hot Six Hair OilDoo Gro Mega Thick Growth Oil (I don’t know if this accelerates growth but I do love this formula).

For my cream layer I alternate between the Shea Moisture Strengthen Grow & Restore Loc & Braid Butter and a handmade whipped shea butter I picked up on etsy.

Usually because I always sleep with my hair wrapped I generally do this without unbraiding my hair twice a week.

Voila. A quick start guide.

Our next struggle bus naturals beginner thing, we’re going to talk about what to do with products you don’t particularly care for. We’ll talk about dollar store treasures. And talk about keeping your hair care budget manageable.

OH and last tip, stay hydrated. Being well hydrated is just all round good for you!