Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wash Day: Hello Straight Hair

I haven't straightened my hair since January but couple with the utter boredom I've been feeling towards my hair lately and Paul Mitchell Mirrorsmooth line I received last week, the stars aligned and told me it was time to pick up a flat iron.

I started off with a days old, work out weary twist out. I promise I wasn't walking around with my hair this dreary lol, my work out early that day completely wrecked my hair.

[1] I deep conditioned on dry hair with HairVeda Sitrinillah Deep Conditioner. HairVeda SDC is a long time love but I don't think I've ever used it on dry hair before so I was a little hesitant but thankfully it worked out. The conditioner sunk into my hair, provided slip to help me finger detangle my hair, and per usual, left my hair soft and moisturized.

[2] Shampooed with Paul Mitchell Mirrorsmooth Shampoo. This shampoo creates tons of suds (I'm a sucker for suds), does not strip my hair, and left my hair feeling smooth.

[3] Applied Paul Mitchell Mirrorsmooth Conditioner for about 5 minutes. After rinsing out the conditioner, I may or may not have done a happy dance. This conditioner reminds me of my old boo PM Super Skinny Daily Treatment but it makes my hair feel much smoother than PM SSDT. 

After using an cotton t-shirt to soak up all excess water from my hair, I put my hair in twists to stretch it out and let it dry for about two hours.

[4] Next I applied my leave-ins: It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In and Paul Mitchell Mirrorsmooth High Gloss Primer, then blow dried my hair using the tension method + cold hair. For more on the tension method, check out this post: The Tension Method When Blow Drying: How To & Benefits

Once I'd finished drying my hair, I flat ironed it using Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smooth+ flat iron by working in small sections and only doing one pass. When I got to my ends, I used a comb for the comb-chase method.

This was my first time straightening my fully naturally hair so I was a little worried about what temp to use. Per the booklet that came with the iron,  the recommendation for "fine hair" maxes at 360 degrees; I played it safe and went 10 above.

As you can tell from the photos below, the results were sleek but not pin-straight, which I loved. I definitely like the Paul Mitchell Mirrorsmooth line. At each step it made detangling a breeze and I could feel the difference (smoothness) in my hair. I'll use it 2 or 3 more times (along with the the flat iron) before doing a full product review. Both the It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In and the Paul Mitchell Mirrorsmooth High Gloss Primer provide thermal protection so I didn't need an additional heat protectant.

And finally, length check. Shrinkage is a liar. I didn't know I had grown this much hair in 2 years. On this shirt, waist length hits me about an inch after the 20 line so I'm roughly half way back to my pre-transition 2013 length. I also trimmed half an inch to remove annoying single-strand knots.
My length check shirt is from the JGA store

How was your recent wash day? What new products have you tried and loved? Don't forget to join the our healthy hair tribe by adding your wash day to the link up!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Q&A | Picking Your Brain Responses

I haven't done a PYB post in a very long time, but I've kept track of your questions. If you don't see your question over the next couple of weeks, please please don't hesitate to resubmit it.

[Q]Mandy asks:"Hi Jen, long time reader here. I know you're a chronic migraine sufferer like me and believe you hate taking medication???? I'm reaching my limit with these meds so I just wanted to know how do you deal with your migraines? When did they start? How often do you get them? Has law school made them worse? What are your pet peeves? I hate them. Please don't gloss over my questions... I'd really love to hear your personal experience/battle... I hope that's okay?"

I'm not a fan of meds::
Hi Mandy, you're correct. I hate taking medication for my migraines. I'm tired of being poked and prodded and scanned and tested and evaluated. I currently refuse to be on any new prescriptions after I had a bad reaction to off-label prescriptions. "Off-brand prescriptions" are when doctors prescribe medications to treat a condition that is not the intended purpose of the drug. For example, I've been prescribed anti-seizure meds that when taken by migraine sufferers who do not have seizures, it decreases migraines. *Note: off-label prescriptions are legal and authorized by the FDA. After striking out with the migraine prescriptions, my neurologist tried off-labels meds. My body wasn't having it.

When my migraines started & they're frequency::
I started getting migraines my junior year of college in 2008. I even remember exactly where I was and what happened when I got my first migraine. Since then, the frequency of headaches has increased and law school definitely made them worse. Stress is one of my triggers and law school was a breeding ground for stress. Now I get headaches 3-4 days a week. 50% of the time they're migraines (left hemisphere) and 50% of the time they're tension headaches.

How I deal::
[1] I'm light sensitive when I have a migraine so I lay down in a dark room when a headache hits. I have blackout curtains in all windows of my apartment so I'm able to turn my home into a cave, which helps immensely. Prior to purchasing black out curtains I'd lay down in my bathtub. It's not the most comfortable spot but it's perfect as a cold dark space.

[2] Soak my feet in hot water. The hot water causes the blood to rush away from my head to my feet, alleviating the migraine.

[3] Press points. Between the eye brows, the space between thumb and index are two areas that help me the most.

[4] Shoulder and spine massages.  This helps a lot with my tension headaches.

[5] Excedrin.

[6] When it's really bad (severe pain lasting more than 48 hours) I cave and to the ER.

As for how I deal and keep going through the day: when laying down I still try to keep studying and working from my phone. My phone has the option to invert the colors of the screen (to do this on an iPhone go to your accessibility settings. You can activate the option to quickly switch to inverted colors when clicking the home button 3 times). Inverting the colors darkens everything in my phone and makes it easier to look at my phone when my light sensitivity is in full swing.

I try to prevent headaches as much as possible by 1) staying hydrated; 2) carry snacks wig me wherever I go because hunger is one of my triggers; 3) avoid strong tomato sauce, another trigger; 4) warn people not to startle me if sleeping, that's a trigger too.

There are days when I'm like "okay, another migraine, what else is new, life goes on." On those days I suck it up and continue working, continue studying, continue living. Then there are those days when I really can't deal and the pain wins. Those days are frustrating and flat out make me angry sometimes.

My pet peeves::
Hmmm, pet peeves... I guess my biggest one is when someone knows I'm hurting yet they still try to talk to me, or except me to act as if I'm running on 100%. No I can't move as fast, no I can't respond, no I can't be all smiles and sunshine, so please do not begrudge me for it.

I also really dislike when people pity me. Sympathy and concern are greatly appreciated but I don't like when people learn of the extent of my migraines and pity me for it. Yes my headaches suck quite a bit and can kick rocks for all I care but that's my cross to bear.

It can be a little annoying when people complain and groan incessantly about normal headaches and act like the world is coming to an end when they feel the slightest ache. I can't help but think "Sir. Ma'am. Really?! Pop an Advil and keep it moving." I realize that's really bratty because every one's pain threshold is different. What they're feeling could very well be the end of the world. Who am I to judge?

[Q]Sade asks:  "Hi Jen......good luck in ur exams. I have recently come across shea butter, can it be used on relaxed hair as a moisturizer and if so, do you seal with a oil?"

Hi Sade, thank you for the well wishes. Shea butter can be used on relaxed hair but I caution against using it as a moisturizer because it does not contain water. I'd use shea butter as a sealant after using a water based moisturizer.

[Q]Nicole asks: "Hi Jen!, when you were texlaxed how did you deal with split/frayed ends? I just got my hair pressed and I slept and the scarf came off and my ends look a bit frayed, which is frustrating because I got my split ends cut yesterday."

Hi Nicole, I use ceramides very often and I've found that they help prevent split ends. When I do find spilt ends I simply snip them off.

[Q]Pam asks: "Even if I put my hair in a pony tail during workout...that doesn't stop sweat from covering my scalp and hair close to the scalp. I relax so how to combat sweat and what to do to re-straighten that hair close to the scalp hair after the workout?"

Hi Pam, you can try straightening your roots using the tension method + cold air. Alternatively you can also wrap your hair using the traditional method (around your head), wrap your hair tightly with Saran Wrap and sit under a hooded dryer for 15 minutes.

[Q]Dorothy asks: "Hello I love how your curls came out when you used the curlformers. Will you ever have a how to on YouTube? I would love to see how you get them so perfect. Thanks for the wonderful information you give about hair care. It has helped me tons!"

Thanks Dorothy! I'm beyond overdo for a video but it will be done.

[Q]A reader asks: "Hey Jen, while transitioning, how often do you trim your hair?"

Honestly, I lost track while I transitioned. I would randomly snip off relaxed ends on wash days. Any unevenness I had while transitioning didn't bother me because I didn't wear my hair down.

[Q]A reader asks: "Where did you purchase your silk hair scarves from?"

eBay and New York & Co.

[Q]Vanessa asks: "Hello Jen, I'm having issues with my edges that i think is due mainly because of the brush I use on them. What brush do you use on your edges, the type, is the bristle soft or hard and what kind of bristle is it? Thanks"

Hi Vanessa, I use a soft bristle (synthetic bristles) brush by Conair. The softness of the bristles does matter but I've found that the technique you use when brushing is equally important. For example, when I used to simply run the brush over my edges it caused breakage. However when I switched to gently using the brush to stretch my hair and distribute whatever gel I was using and then using a silk scarf to do the rest of the work, my edges didn't suffer. Hope that explanation made sense.

Thank you for your questions! 

Have a PYB question? Submit it here: PYB submission form.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wash Day Catch Up & Puff Love

My "hairlife" for the last 3 weeks has been pretty repetitive: protective style with twists... take them out and rock a twist out for a couple days... co-wash and wear my hair in a puff for a few days. Rinse, repeat.

Here are the alternative wash day routines I used:

Routine 1

[1] Conditioned on dry hair (with my Hot Head Conditioning Cap) with a mix of glycerin + Shea Moisture Intensive  Hydration Conditioner OR Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner.
[3] Coffee rinsed. 
[4] Leave-ins: Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In + Organix Coconut Milk Serum
[5] Twisted my hair with marley hair.

Routine 2

[2] Conditioned with Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle in the shower. This is the best $2.50 conditioner I've bought to date. I was glad to see my natural hair loves it just as my relaxed hair did. It moisturizes quickly and detangles very well.
[3] Sprayed my hair with a mix of water + glycerin + Kinky Kurly Knot Today and put my hair in 8-10 chunky twists to stretch it a bit while it dried.
[4] Removed the twists, put my hair in a puff, and aloe vera gel on my edges + silk scarf.

Although my routine has been boring, I've completely fallen in love with puffs!

As for detangling, I use just my fingers and detangle at each stage of my wash day. Remember when I barely used combs when my hair was relaxed? Welp, some things will never change. I make sure I use conditioners and leave-ins that provide slip, making it easier to detangle.

What style have you been loving lately?

P.S. I flat ironed my natural hair for the first time + length checked this past Friday! Look for that wash day recap this upcoming Wednesday!
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