Sunday, 6 November 2011

Quick Tip: Protecting Natural Hair: Winter Edition



For a lot of people, winter means Christmas shopping, snow, chestnuts roasting. While these are lovely occurrences, winter can mean dry, damaged, hair for many women with natural hair. Protect your enviable hair in the cold and holiday season with the following tips:

Hair-cicles are no fun!
Make sure your hair is dry before leaving the house: 

Cold air is drying and can literally freeze your hair. When going outside on a cold day, avoid leaving the house with overly damp or dripping wet hair. If you don't want hair icicles, you may have to forgo the Wash-N-Go in extremely cold weather.



Watch out for heated appliances: 


Heat is very drying to the skin and hair. So, limit the use of hair straighteners and blow dryers in the colder season. Also, a lot of people do not realize this, but space heaters, fires, hot showers, and heaters are also potentially damaging to the hair. While these sources of warmth are a godsend, they can leech your hair of much needed moisture.The best way to counteract the drying effects of heated appliances is by limiting exposure.Use heated tools only when necessary, wear a hats and head scarves, moisturize and seal more often, and if you can, buy a humidifier.

Wear hats and scarves:

Even a Santa hat will do:D 
 Hats and head scarves are perfect ways to protect your hair from hot and cold air in the winter time. Just make sure that the material from the hats and scarves is not directly touching your hair. Before putting on a head scarf or hat, try wearing a satin scarf. Doing so will prevent the materials from robbing your hair of moisture and lessen the effect of friction on your strands.

Try wearing protective styles:

"Structured Whimsy" is my go-to protective style.
While I don't think it is necessary to keep your hair in protective styles all the time, protective styling can be beneficial during the winter months. The benefits of protective styling are numerous: protects hair from unnecessary damage, low manipulation, beautiful, prevents excessive moisture loss and etc. Leaving your hair "out" in the winter time will expose your hair and scalp to the drying effects of cold air. Try some "tucked away" styles, buns, wigs, hats, or braids.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Quick Tip: Protecting Natural Hair: Autumn Edition

      It is now autumn ( for those of you who have autumn) and it is time to adjust my hair routine. When the seasons change, I feel that it is important to slightly alter my hair routine to adapt to the climate change. Here is what I do to my hair during the autumn months.

 Why the change?

 Although my hair routine does not change dramatically, I decide to alter my routine for the following reasons:

  • Autumn weather is generally more windy and less humid where I live. More wind and less humidity usually mean more dryness. You guys know I do.not. like. dry hair:P 
  • October to the rest of the semester is the time when school really starts to pick up and I find that low manipulations styles  work best for my busy schedule. 
What changes do you make ?

Very few.I opt for more "tucked away" styles and play with individual braids and other forms of protective styles more often. Other than that, I just wash and moisturize my hair as usual. 

Any final words?

As the seasons change, the weather may cause you to change your own routine. Embrace the change and see it as an opportunity to be more creative while protecting your hair from the elements. Pay attention to what your hair needs and act accordingly. It may be beneficial to ask yourself some of the following questions: 
  • How does the wind affect my hair?
  • How does the lowered temperature affect my hair?
  • Do my products work the same?
  • Do I even need to adjust my hair regimen?
  • Does a different oil/butter work better during this time?
  • How does my lifestyle affect my ability to maintain my hair?


Until next time!









     

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Quick Tip: Recovering from Natural Hair Neglect

Open letter from my hair:

Dear Fro Envy,

                                 I have noticed that you have not been spending as much time with me as you usually do. You don't tie me up before bed anymore. You don't make sure that I am properly finger detangled. Heck, you don't even moisturize me as much any more. I KNOW how much you like to moisturize me! I was just wondering what is making you neglect me. Is it work? Are you sick? Are you really stressed? Are you bored with me? Have you found someone new? Whatever it is, just know that I am always here for you. Whenever you need me, all you have to do is look up and I'm there. Whatever it is that is going on, I hope you know that I miss you and can't wait to spend time with you again.


Love, peace, and afro sheen!
Your hair



Have you gotten a similar letter from your hair yet? Personal tragedies, school work, and trying to find time for myself in the midst of everything going on is proving more difficult than I expected. Because of my busy schedule, I have neglected my hair. I want to share with you some simple tips I use to get my hair back on track.

1. Acceptance.

The first step to hair recovery is to accept that life takes precedence to hair. Although I love my hair and I enjoy the fun things I can do with it, my hair will never be my number one priority. Accept that when life becomes very stressful, your hair will have to take the back seat.

I wouldn't suggest neglecting your hair on a regular basis (neglected hair is not enviable), but if a friend needs you to be there for them, you have to take the GRE in a couple days, or you need to relax after a long day of school/work, it is perfectly ok for your hair care to be pushed to the side.

Don't feel guilty for abandoning your hair. Do what you have to do and deal with your hair when you get back:D

2. Assessment.

Now that you have neglected your hair, for whatever reason, it is important to figure out what you need to do to pamper your hair. Does your hair need a good finger detangling? Does it need to be rebraided? Does it need a trim? You get the point. Figure out what your hair needs and start giving it what it needs.

3. Treatment.

Your hair needs some lovin! It has been trying to spend time with you! You haven't been moisturizing as much as you usually do and frankly your hair is angry at you! Give your hair some time! Buy some extra hair treatments if you need them. Be very patient with your hair (especially if you have matting like I did!) and understand that it will take a little more time for your hair to return to normal.

 Good luck!

Friday, 26 August 2011

FAQ: Individual Braids

The following are some FAQs that will hopefully address any questions you may have.

What do I need to get started?

I am a person who believes in getting great results with minimal, necessary effort. So, as you can tell by the short list below, I do not use a lot.

  • Moisturized hair ( this is a given, but it doesn't hurt to include it in the list : D)
  • Metal free hair ties- these will help you separate your hair. I find that separated hair is easier to manage.
  • Your hands- you will need your hands to finger detangle(when necessary) and braid your hair

What kind of braid do you do?

I do the basic three-strand plait. If you are unsure of how to do this braid, the internet has multiple sources that can help you. 

What about size?

I stick to medium sized. Too small and they take forever to put in and take out. Too large and my braids look too far apart. I have a weird thing about spacey looking braids:P

How long do your braids usually take to put in?

My braids take about 1.5 hours. 

To take out?

About 2 hours. I get more distracted when removing my braids. Maybe it's because I get so anxious to play with my afro:P

 How is it possible to do all those braids in such a short time? 

 There were times when it took me 3 hours to braid my hair. I'm not sure about other people, but doing anything for 3 hours straight gets old after a while. I wanted to cut my braiding time in half so I did the following things and was successful at doing that: 
  • Don't use a comb to part your hair: When I first started doing my braids, I used to part every row. Taking time to part rows wastes just that...time. The less time you have to start and stop in between braiding, the sooner you will finish. 
  • Do not start and stop: Before you begin braiding, set aside time to start and finish your braids. Yes, life happens and you do have to go to the bathroom occasionally, but what I am suggesting is to eliminate as many things that could prevent you from finishing your braids. This means: run errands, walk the dog, have family time, or  do whatever comes first in your life. 
  • Entertain yourself while braiding: While I normally do not think people multitask very well ( myself included), this is one of the few exceptions to the rule. Braiding hair gets boring...at least for me it does and you guys know how much I love hair!...so it may be beneficial to you to have something to occupy your mind. I personally like to read articles for my classes, watch a movie, listen to music, and watch episodes of Jersey Shore. While keeping occupied, you protect your sanity, stay entertained, and before you know it, your braids are finished. 
Do you do any prep work before braiding?

The most prep work I do is section my hair into fours with my hair ties. I don't finger comb because in the off chance that I find a knot or tangle, I just remove it before I braid the plait. I do not stretch or blow dry my hair because I do not use heat on my hair and I find that braiding my hair stretches it well enough. 

How do you get your braids to look so uniform?

I found that my braids look more natural and uniformed if my braids are not parted with a comb. As I braid, I have a general idea of how big the sections are so I don't need to part each section. 

How do you keep your braids from getting fuzzy?

I put some flax seed gel on my hair and tie it with a satin scarf if I see my braids look really bad. Other than that, my hair is naturally frizzy so I just accept that.

How long do you normally keep your braids in?

3-4 weeks is usually my limit. Any longer and they look rusty! Boy do they look rusty!

How do you get your ends to curl up? 

It is a combination of how my hair naturally curls and the hold I get from flax seed gel. 

Final words? 

I really hope I answered all the questions you guys may have. If not, leave a comment and I will edit this post. Good luck!


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Soap Box Special: Professional Natural Hair



Natural hair and professional hair are not mutually exclusive. When I hear people say," Natural hair isn't professional." or anything related to that, I roll my eyes and try to move away as quickly as I don't like sustained exposure to foolishness.


The figure below demonstrates the percentage of natural hair that can be characterized as professional. Please note: the percentages are based on subjective and arbitrary values... much like the term "professional".



Final Words: You as an adult are capable of deciding for yourself what you consider professional.


Sunday, 7 August 2011

How To: Hair Care for the Beach


        The weather is warm and it's time fore the beach. Enjoy the beach and protect your hair at the same time. No need to worry about your hair while you have fun. Here are pre and post- beach steps to prevent your hair from suffering while you relax and soak in the sun.


Pre- beach:

  1. Put your hair up. I do not recommend leaving your hair out in an afro. Smaller braids, cornrows, a bun, or  updo, keeps your hair out of sight and mind. 
  2. Pack some of your leave-in and an oil so you can moisturize if necessary
  3. Take your shampoo and conditioner  in case you have time to wash your hair.

Post-beach: 

  1. Wear a hat after you get out of the water. The sun is drying.
  2. Wash your hair when you can. Salt water is also drying.
  3. Pay special attention to your scalp. Sand and salt water can get on your scalp and can cause dryness and itchiness.
  4. Moisturize your hair as you usually do and be prepared for some extra pampering. 

xoxo
Fro Envy

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Quick Tip: Natural Shedding vs Breakage


You are positive that hair is coming out of your head, but you are unsure if the hair you see is a result of normal shedding or breakage. To tell the difference, look for a white bulb.  A naturally shed hair will have a white bulb attached. A broken hair will not have a bulb attached.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Soap Box Special: Protective Styling


I'll let you know now that I don't care for protective styling. If you are interested in length retention, apparently protective styling is the way to go. I'm not completely convinced on that, but if you choose to protective style, below are some information that may help you do it effectively.


What constitutes as protective styling?

I only have two requirements for protective styling. If a style does not satisfy the following requirements, I don't consider it a protective style.

  1.  Protect your individual hair strands from damage
  2.  Allow you to maintain your hair's health

Is every style a protective style?

Based on how I define protective styling, most styles are not protective.There are many styles that protect your individual hair strands (like updos which keep your individual hairs from rubbing against your collar), but fail to allow much access to give your hair what it needs( like regular washing and moisturizing) and vice versa.


How long should I keep a protective style?

It depends on the style and your preference, but  I think that your protective style should be able to be taken down on a nightly(or at most a weekly) basis so you can moisturize and seal. The way I look at it is that is does no good to keep your hair tied up if it prevents essential care. Even the best protective style has a peak and there comes a point when it must be redone.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Basics: Hard Water and Your Hair


What is hard water?

 Hardwater.org defines hard water as water that contains large amounts of dissolved minerals (specifically calcium and magnesium).

Is hard water dangerous?

 Hard water is not dangerous to drink or use, but it can cause household  problems if not addressed.

What are some side effects of hard water?
  • Soap scum
  • Food can  look and taste differently (compared to soft water)
  • Prematurely rusted and clogged pipes
  • Dry skin 
  • Discoloration of  white clothes

How does hard water affect the hair?

        Hard water can leave layers of calcium and magnesium on  your hair and scalp and can leave them feeling: dry, brittle, hard, dull, brassy, heavy, lifeless, flaky and nasty. I found that when I washed my hair in a place with hard water or used hard water in my moisturizing leave-in, no matter how hard I tried, my hair felt dry and I found lots of little broken hairs that were not there before. 

How can I find out  if I have hard water?

There are several ways to determine if you have hard water.
  •  The easiest way and cheapest way  is to call your water provider and ask if you have hard water or not.  
  • You can also buy a water testing kit. 
  • You can try looking at hard water maps and see if you region has a lot of hard water. Below is an example of a hard water map
 [Map of water hardness across the U.S.]
Source
  • Or, you can just look at your pipes and shower and see if you have a lot of soap scum. 

How do I remove hard water buildup from my hair?

        If you have hard water, it is best to remove the buildup it can cause on your hair with a synthetic detergent( primarily one with sulfates). Although I would not normally recommend using sulfate because they can be too stripping, sulfates are effective at removing hard water buildup. Unlike soaps, which can combine with the hard water and produce soap scum, synthetic detergents clean the hair well.
        When I was staying with a friend with hard water, I found that clarifying my hair once a month with a clarifying shampoo (containing a sulfate), helped to bring my hair back to life. Don't overdo it with the sulfate shampooing and you should be fine.

How to prevent hard water buildup on  my hair?

         If you have hard water and are not planning on buying a water filter system, the best you can do is limit exposure to the water as much as possible. When mixing your leave-in, try to use filtered/bottled water in lieu of tap water. Or, if you like to spritz your hair with water, try using filtered/bottled water instead.

Any final words?

        Although having hard water is not the end of the world, a large majority of people in the US have hard water, it can affect the way your hair looks and the way your hair products work. It can cause you to believe that you have protein overload (a lot of the symptoms are similar) , make a product that may work for your hair (if you had soft water) not work, or make your favorite product stop working.
         If you are constantly feeling that your hair is dry and brittle and keeps breaking and you have done everything you can imagine- such as: remove your protein, change products, change shampoo, change conditioner, alter your leave-in recipe, cowash more frequently, and etc.- and nothing seems to work, chances are you have hard water. 



Sources:

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Quick Tips: Oils & Butters

Below are the pros and cons of commonly used butters and oils.    


Shea Butter: 


Source


Pro: This very thick butter is great for sealing hair in harsher months. If your hair requires heavier products, this is a remarkable  butter to try.
Con: There is a slight nutty smell. Not a butter to be heavy-handed with because it may cause build-up. It can freeze in the colder months and you may have to melt it. You may have to mix it with another oil or butter to make it softer.
Overall: To get the best benefit from this butter, don't be heavy-handed and add some essential oils if you don't like the smell. Great for colder weather.

Olive Oil: 




Pro: This oil is a good in-between oil; it is not too heavy and not extremely light. You can find good quality, inexpensive olive oil at almost any grocery store.
Con: I'm not a big fan of olives:P
Overall: This is a great oil if you like convenience and don't like paying a lot for your hair oils. Great for autumn weather



Grape seed Oil:



Pro: Extremely light oil. Perfect for those who don't like a lot of oil on their hair. Very easy to find at grocery stores or health food stores. No strong odor.
Con: Very, very light oil. It may be a little too thin if you have thick hair.
Overall: Decent oil. Great for thin hair and warmer weather.


Coconut Oil:




Pro: I wrote an entire post about this oil. This is a light oil with a pleasant coconut smell (I like the smell of coconut). Very low melting point making it easy to apply to hair. Can be solid or liquid depending on your preference
Con: Very low melting point. At any temperature below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it solidifies and melts very easily at 75 degrees and higher. Because this oil is very light, it is easy to overdo it. Some people report that it freezes on their hair in the winter time (I have not experienced this myself, but it's something to look out for)
Overall: My oil of choice! It is a light oil so don't go crazy with it. Because it freezes and melts easily, I think this oil is a great year-round oil


Avocado Oil:


Pro: Very light oil. Low odor. Good for sealing.
Con:  Not many cons except you may have to go to a heath food store or shop online to get it.
Overall: Another good oil. However,  I wouldn't reach for it at the store mainly because it didn't wow me too much.



Castor Oil:




Pro: Very thick oil. Excellent if you have very thick hair.
Con: Very thick oil. You may have to dilute it with a thinner oil to make it not as heavy.
Overall: Great if you have thick hair. Also great if you like heavy oils and like the thickness of shea butter, but don't like the smell or the idea of having to melt your shea butter. Wonderful for colder months







Jojoba Oil:
Source




Pro:  Light and very much like the consistency of hair's natural sebum. Great for mixing with other oils and Shea butter.
Con: One of the more expensive oils.
Overall: I really liked this oil, but for my lifestyle, I didn't like how expensive it can be. Excellent for year-round use

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hair Purgatory: Not Long, Not Short

     Your hair is growing and you're ecstatic. It's too soon to go crazy with the styles so you start your favorite, never-fail style. Lo and behold, your ride- or -die style doesn't look right anymore. Your hair isn't short enough for your old styles and it isn't long enough to do the styles that you want to try.  What's going on and what are you supposed to do now?
         I call this phenomenon "hair purgatory". Much like purgatory, you are stuck between two points and the only way to get out of it is to wait it out. I know this is easier said than done because I was frustrated at this length!!!  I didn't have enough hair for a ponytail or bun and the hair I had could no longer be classified as a teeny- weeny- afro.
       While in purgatory, I experimented with new styles and techniques. I'll share these those below. Ya welcome!
     
Tips:

  • Bobby pins are your friend! They are great for keeping those pesky hairs that like to stick out in place. They help make amazing fro-hawks, twist-hawks, and braid-hawks.

In the picture above, I just did a simple wash and go and pinned the sides up. The beauty with hair that is in- between is that it's long enough to where you can see your curl pattern (if you have one) and it's short enough to where there is not much tangling to deal with. Alternatively, if you don't want to do a wash and go, you can twist the middle section and it can still look great.

  • Rolls are awesome! When my hair was not long enough for braids, rolls were an elegant and easy alternative. I was not about to walk around with "Nick Cannon braids"!
Seriously Nick? What's going on?
Source
My favorite rolled styles. The rolls were secured with bobby pins to make sure they didn't fall or come out of place.


I achieved the rolls by simply taking a piece of hair and twisting it towards my head, adding hair as I went, and pinning it to my head. Similar to a large flat twist. 

  • Don't forget about individual braids and twists. Twists and braids look cute at any length.  






Final Words: 
I understand how frustrating this phase can be in your hair journey, but if you are actively growing your hair longer, the purgatory stage has to happen. You can choose to be miserable or you can choose to be fly. Don't be afraid to experiment with your hairstyles and find what works for you.

xoxo
froEnvy



Sources:

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

How To: Flax Seed Gel

        For the longest time, I have been looking for an inexpensive, protein-free, silicone-free, flake-free hair gel. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find one and had to resort to making one. I'm so glad I did because I absolutely love it! During the summer time when the humidity can ruin a good braid-out or twist-out, this gel is not only water soluble, but it also creates a soft hold while maintaining your style. If you want to learn how to make this simple gel, keep reading:

You will need: 

  • 3 Measuring cups: 1cup, 1tbs, and 1/4cup

  • Flax seeds (organic if possible; I got mine at GNC)


  • Aloe Vera Gel



  • Knee-high stockings (or a strainer if you choose. I find that knee-highs help separate the seeds from the gel really well.)

  • A pot and stove



Directions: 

Taking your measuring cups, measure two cups of water  and 1/4 cups of flax seeds. Pour the two into your pot.





Allow your mixture to boil and stir the seeds to prevent them from sticking to the pot.



Let it boil at medium high heat.



 When it's almost ready it should look like this





While your mixture is getting ready, prepare the panty- hose to get it ready for straining. Roll the hosiery over a small container.



When your mixture is relatively thick, begin to pour it into your covered container and strain you gel.



Strain your mixture mixture really well.



I used spoons because it was kinda hot

Add one tbs of aloe vera gel to lower the pH and help preserve your gel.




Mix the two together and your gel is ready. 

Final result

Put your gel in the refrigerator to make it last longer. 


I like to put mine in a pump bottle ; it makes it easier to use.

Ideally, your gel should have a snot-like consistency. It sounds gross, but it's the best way I can describe it. 



If you're still looking for a good gel, try this one and see if it works for you:D