Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Forget To Seal After Moisturizing!

For more on the Sealing Experiment, check out this post.
For more on the LOC Method, check out this post.

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Product Review: Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In Conditioner

Price: $14 (8oz)

Purchased At:

Promises: "Thirsty Kurls Leave-In Conditioner provides "lots of slip" and moisture that detangles and softens curls. Hibiscus penetrates the cuticle to maintain acid balance. Aloe Vera soothes and moisturizes dry, damaged hair. Honey hydrates and helps the hair retain moisture."

Directions: After shampooing with Almond & Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo apply a generous amount of Thirsty Kurls Leave-In Conditioner. [Note: I've never used the Almond & Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo so the directions that this leave-in be used after the shampoo is not set in stone.]

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Simmondsia Chinsensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Hibiscus Rosa-Senensis Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Honey Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance (Parfum).

My Assessment: Mannnnnnnnnnnn, listen. I use this leave-in way too often (pretty much every week for the last couple months) for this review to be so late in the game. Forgive me? Pretty please?

This brand was recommended by a reader (thank you A. Rice!) and I'm so glad she introduced to me the awesomeness that is Kurlee Belle. I have tried and reviewed Kurlee Belle's Banana Nut & Avocado Deep Treatment and love it (review posted here) and this leave-in is another winner for me. My wash day posts are pretty indicative of what products I love and use regularly so you may have already gotten the hint about how I feel about this leave-in haha. Basically: roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls I love you.

This leave-in has a pleasant, light, soft fragrance (it actually reminds me of baby powder).
Consistency: It's consistency is creamy and absorbs into my hair quickly and completely (it doesn't leave my hair feeling coated). This leave-in also helps a lot when it times to detangle by providing slip. What I love most about this leave-in is that it delivers long-lasting moisture. I've used to it air dry, when blow-drying using the tension method (with both cold and warm air), for flexi rod sets, and even for flat ironing (I make sure I use a small amount to prevent weighed-down tresses) and it has provided consistent results: soft, moisturized hair that lasts. I used this leave-in for my last flexi rod set and I was able to go 6 days without moisturizing and sealing my hair because my hair really didn't need it. Was I over the moon? You bet.

Both my natural hair and relaxed hair respond well to this leave-in. This is one of the best leave-ins I've tried to date and will definitely continue to be a staple as long as the formula doesn't change... let's just hope I didn't just jinx myself! I only wish it was available in stores (wishful thinking for the future maybe???).

Have you tried this leave-in conditioner? Liked it? Loved it? Left it?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Items in this post were purchased with my own funds. I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wash Day

[1] Pre-poo: with coconut oil for 45 minutes. I warmed the coconut oil in a bowl of hot water and applied the oil to my scalp as well as the length of my hair (especially my ends).

[2] Shampooed: with Shea Moisture Curl & Shine Shampoo. I haven't used this shampoo often... maybe three times? But it doesn't really stand out to me. I bought it months ago hoping to find a moisturizing shampoo available in store but it's just "eh" to me.

[3] Tea rinsed: with marshmallow root tea. I poured the tea over my hair twice and left it in.

[4] Deep conditioned: with HairVeda Sitrinillah under my steamer for 15 minutes. When sitting under the steamer I do not cover my hair with a plastic cap because the purpose of steaming is to treat the hair with steam for a boost of moisture. After steaming, I allowed my hair to cool before hopping in the shower to rinse out the conditioner.

[5] ACV: After rinsing out the conditioner, I sprayed my hair and scalp with apple cider vinegar + water. I use a 28 oz (828 mL) spray bottle I grabbed at the dollar store and add 50 mL of ACV and then fill the water bottle with 778 mL of water - filtered water since my apartment has hard water.

[6] After t-shirt drying for 40 minutes, I applied my leave-ins (Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In Conditioner + Creme of Nature Argan Oil Heat Defense Smooth & Shine Polisher), detangled, and blow dried + stretched my hair using the tension method. For more on the tension method, check out this post: The Tension Method When Blow Drying: How To & Benefits.

Per usual, after tackling my hair I applied Eco Styler Gel to my edges and wrapped my hair up with a silk scarf for the night.

I'm going through an "ending this transitioning sounds really good right now, I don't want to do anything to my hair, yet I'm tired of my usual buns" phase at the moment so this week's style is a simple two-braid/pulled back thingamabob that you've certainly seen before. There's nothing fancy about this style, but eh, it's a simple departure from my norm and I'm all about simplicity (aka I'm lazy lol) when it comes to styling. Keeping in line with my goal to continue protective styling as a means to reduce split ends for the 30 Days without Split Ends challenge, I only wore my hair down for one day and have been wearing it in a faux bob or a fluffy side bun the rest of the week.

You know you wanna join our Wash Day Experience link up... don't be shy! Link your post below :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Q&A | Picking Your Brain Responses

Britnee G. asks: 
I know this blog is about your hair journey but I'm curious. What type of workouts do you do?
I normally start out by warming up on the bike for 15 minutes (level 3 or 4). Then I stretch for 20 minutes to relieve any soreness from my workout the day before and help improve my flexibility. I alternate between working abs + back, legs, or chest + arms after stretching.  Most days I finish up my work out by running on the treadmill, speed interval between 4 (jog speed) and 7-8 (run speed) for 30 minutes. On days I don't feel like running, I'll either work out on the elliptical for 40 minutes or stair master.

On days I run on the track I jog a mile then I stretch. Then I'll usually stride the turns, walk the straightaways (3 times/whole track).

At home I do quick circuit work outs for legs and core. Example: 20 squats, 30 lunges, 40 calf raises, 50 second wall squat, 100 pelvic thrusts, 50 second wall squat, 30 leg raises, 20 squats... repeat 3 times.

Or example: 25 bicycle crunches, 1 minute plank, 50 side crunches (each side), 25 lower ab crunches, 25 leg kick outs (I'm probably not describing this one correctly but it's the one where you lean back with kicking both legs out to work abs), 25 ab twists with kettle ball, 1 minute plank.... repeat 3 times.

Laurel Jackson asks:
Hi Jen....I'm wondering are you using BaByliss Pro Thermal Ionic 1600 watt rollabout hair it still working for you? I'm asking because where I'm from you're lucky to find such a good dryer like this. Thank you for your response :-) .
Hi Laurel, I no longer roller set my hair frequently... which is actually crazy because I used to do it weekly... so I no rarely use my BaByliss now. The last time I used it was last year to help dry a flexi rod set that didn't dry completely through the night and it worked just as well as it's always worked.

Esther asks:
Jen! Am so glad I found you!I switched out my products to try the ones you use. All I can say is yess honey!! But this cash isn't growing in my yard! Do u know of a dc, moisturizer, leave in(all staples really) that will do the job but cheaper?
Hi Esther! I'm happy to hear they're working well for you!  I try to only recommend products that I have tried firsthand. Very sorry but if there isn't a review posted of a product that cost less, I can't really provide a recommendation :/ It would be like recommending a car because it drives well without ever actually driving the car. It wouldn't be a recommendation based on experience and really wouldn't be worth much.

Hi. I am on a HHJ for a year now, first it was post-partum shedding, then it stopped, I do tea rinses but now when i comb my hair and try smoothing it from root to the end, a few strands of hair still come off, I want to know what is really wrong.
Hi there, shedding is natural and while tea rinses help reduce shedding, some strands will still shed. If your shedding is every excessive (apart from post-partum shedding) I definitely recommend seeing your doctor in case there's an underlying issue/cause for your shedding.

Marie asks:
Hi Jen, how do you keep your new growth soft in between wash days? I actually made it to 24 weeks post and I have to say the last two weeks was a major struggle. On wash days it was soft and manageable, by day 4 my hair became very matted and hard to deal with.
Hi Marie, I've gone about moisturizing my new growth a couple different ways:

What I currently do is simply deep condition with a moisturizing deep conditioner on wash day, use a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, and then moisturize and seal during the week. Thankfully I've found staple conditioners, leave-in, and moisturizer that provide long lasting moisture.

As for matting, keeping my new growth stretched helps me avoid matting and tangles.

Sophia asks:
Hi Jen! I really love your blog. It is helping me a lot. There is one thing I want to find out. Have you ever mixed a protein conditioner with a moisturising conditioner nd then deep conditioned with the mixture?
Hi Sophia, I'm happy to hear you love JGA! No I've never tried mixing a protein and moisturizing deep conditioner. My MO is to keep them separate, i.e. protein treatment, rinse out, and then deep condition with a moisturizing deep conditioner.

Rosalyn asks:
Hi Jen! I'm interested in trying the tension method on my transitioning hair. However, I only have about 1-1/2" to 2" of new growth. Should I wait until I have more new growth to use the tension method? What do you recommend? Thanks! 
Hi Rosalyn, you're free to use the tension method with 1 to 1.5" of new growth.

Hannah asks:
Hi Jen, your blog has been great for learning about hair health. I was just wondering, is there a way to keep my hair routine simple and keep hair as healthy as possible? Do you ever put a limit on products that you use each category (like oils)?
Hi Hannah, I've never actively placed a limit but aside from oils, on any given wash day I'll use just one product per category. It's definitely possible to have a simple regimen and maintain healthy hair. The goal is to always do what works for your hair.

Adriana asks:
Is it necessary to use a protein leave-in after using a moisturizing deep conditioner and a moisturizing leave-in after using a protein deep conditioner?
No it's not necessary... but can be done if your hair prefers it/responds well to it. My hair loves moisture so I like to go the moisture route (deep conditioner and leave-in) until my hair needs a protein treatment or leave-in to keep my moisture/protein balance in check.

Alana asks:
Hey Jen, I've had natural hair virtually all my life. At age 30 I'm changing countries, careers and have decided to relax. Is it better to go bone straight then texlax thereafter or texlax on virgin hair? thanks
Hi Alana, if texlaxing is your goal it's better to texlax virgin hair. Going bone straight and switching to texlaxing is a headache not worth subjecting yourself to if don't plan on continuing to relax your hair bone straight.

Have a PYB question? Submit it here!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My "Anti-Split Ends" Team

Thank you to all who have joined Relaxed Thairapy and I for the 30 Days without Split Ends challenge! This year it feels like I'm at war with split ends. In June I went back to basics and began to seal my moisturizer with grapeseed oil and saw my ends begin to improve. Last month (for the 30 Days with Ceramides challenge) I continued my rekindled love affair with grapeseed oil (I also added a hot oil treatment with safflower oil + pre-pooed with L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Restoring Conditioner) and was rewarded with even few split ends. This month my battle against split ends continues with this "team:"

[1]CERAMIDES FOR HAPPY ENDS If you aren't surprised that ceramides take the number 1 spot, I don't blame you. I rave about them enough around these parts. Grapeseed oil = boo-thang status; it'll be my sealant until the walls come tumbling down.  I wish I could overlook wheat germ oil's scent because I have a bottle in the fridge that's just begging to see some action... but I don't see that happening anytime soon.  Or maybe I'll just throw some essential oils in to mask the scent a bit... or hold scented candles under my nose while I pre-poo with wheat germ oil.  Whatever works right?

[2]MOISTURE IS KEY Dry ends are more susceptible to splitting so keeping my hair moisturized as a means to prevent split ends (among many other reasons) certainly makes the "team."  Deep conditioning with a moisturizing deep conditioner every wash day is all but set in stone for me.  I think I'd break out in hives picturing how dry my hair would feel during week if I ever had to skip a deep conditioning session.

The two deep conditioners I've used the most (and will continue to use) for the last 6 (+?) months are HairVeda Sitrinillah (can't wait for HV's Black Friday sale to stock up!) and Kurlee Belle Banana Nut & Avocado Deep Treatment.  I've also started using my steamer again and it has definitely helped give my deep conditioning sessions a bit more "oomph" on wash days.

For my moisturizer: HairVeda Red Tea Satin Moisturizer. I wasn't heads over heels in love with this moisturizer when I first used it but idk if it's because of the warmer weather/more moisture in the air but for the last couple months this moisturizer had has melted its way into my heart. This + sealing with grapeseed oil has been guaranteeing me soft, smooth hair the next day.

[3]USE THE PROPER TOOLS Hair should be trimmed using sharp shears that are reserved only for trimming hair. Trimming hair with dull shears will cause split ends.  My hair shears aren't fancy--I got them from Walgreens for $10--but they're sharp and only reserved for snipping my ends.

[4]LIMIT USE OF DIRECT HEAT OR NIX IT COMPLETELY Because I normally use little direct heat in the year (I flat iron/use warm air when blow drying maybe 3 to 4 times a year) this "team member" is the easiest to keep up.

[5]THE SEARCH + DESTROY METHOD The "search and destroy" method is pretty much just as it sounds.  The goal is to search your ends and destroy, or snip away" any splits you find. I like to S&M when sitting in front of either a window and a desk lamp. Bright light helps me spot any pesky split ends that gotta go.

[*]HONORABLE MENTION: PROTECTIVE STYLING My go-to protective style is my faithful bun. Protective styles "protect" your ends by keeping tucked away from the elements and from clothing, which can dry out ends by drawing moisture out of hair thus causing splits and breakage.

What's your "anti-split ends" team?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hair Story Feature: Meet Kayla

Your hair is?... Transitioning to natural

When and why did you start your hair journey?
I officially started my hair journey the summer before my junior year of high school, so it's been a year and a month since I decided to transition to natural. I got tired of straightening my hair and having to keep up with it relaxed during soccer season and decided it was time for me to accept my natural hair since I haven't seen it since about fifth grade.

Describe your hair for us.
My hair grew to about armpit length, the longest it has ever been relaxed this summer. I kept it trimmed usually but let it grow out for senior photos. I trimmed it after since that will be the last time I straighten it until graduation. My hair is very dry, also due to the climate of my home state. I've never looked into terms of porosity or hair type yet. My hair is also very thick.

What is your current regimen?
My regime became very simple since it was either sleep or do my hair junior year. I shampoo once a week with Hello Hydration or a sulfate-free shampoo depending on how "dirty" my hair is. I follow with a DC of either 3-Minute Miracle or Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque. If I straightened my hair previously, I use henna and follow up with 3MM to prevent heat damage. Then I dry my hair and add Cantu Leave-In Conditioner. During winter I usually co-wash with Aussie Moist mid-week to add a little more hydration to my hair.

Do you have any hair goals? Have you achieved them?
My hair goal is to not straighten my hair until I graduate, but that may change depending on how my hair looks by May. To achieve this, I just usually keep my hair out of my way (in a bun or ponytail). I also plan to BC (big chop) in January.

How did you achieve them? How are you working to achieve them?
Keeping my focus off my hair (besides what it usually needs) is basically how I achieve these goals. Mini chopping has also helped the growth of my hair and keeping me on track.

How has your hair journey impacted other parts of your life?
It has made me more aware of what I put on my body and inside as well. I try to keep my body care products as natural as possible unless the "el-cheapo" brands are on point for my hair and body. I also eat more healthy now. Hydration has always been important for me while playing soccer.

Have you had any setbacks? How did you bounce back?
I've only had mini scares with heat damage, my last one being with senior photos, so I'm swearing it off for now. Henna really helps my hair in those situations!

What are your favorite protective styles?
My favorite is a braid/twist out on wet hair, let dry over night, and I usually wear it down for 1-2 days and bun or ponytail until my next wash day.

What are some of your favorite products?
Aussie Moist is one of my favorites. I also really love henna, it's kept me from so much potential heat damage and makes my curls pop during wash day!

What do you love most about your hair?
I love with each wash day how I fall in love with my curls. It's a weird thing to some people but I enjoy seeing how far I've come from only wanting straight hair to accepting what I was born with.

How do you deal with people who doubt you? What motivates you to keep going?
My mom, who is white, has been my number one supporter. I practically had to beg her in the first place to relax my hair because I wanted to "fit in" and have straight hair, so she is super happy I decided to go natural. I haven't heard any doubting, my family and friends have been super supportive with my decision.

What advice would you give someone just starting out on their journey?
I would say try a lot of styles, you'll never know what looks great or not. Also, being a product junkie is totally avoidable. Simple is best (but there's nothing wrong with loving hair products!)

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things (e.g. conditioner, bobby pins) would you wish you had?
  1. Aussie Moist
  2. Bobby pins
  3. Hair ties
  4. Henna
  5. Fresh Colorado water for drinking :)

Where can we find you on the web?
I have a twitter, although I'm rather obnoxious on it (_shockieee) and a less annoying Instagram (kaylashock)

Thank you for sharing your story with us Kayla. Your hair is lovely!

Reader Mail: Post-Work Out Care Options to Combat Dry Hair

Shelia asks: Hi Jen, I know you work out regularly but I don't hear you mention issues with sweat drying out your hair.  How do you combat dryness from sweat?  Do you go through a whole wash day multiple times during the week?  I'd love to increase my work outs but I just can't deal with how dry sweating leaves my new growth. Thank you!

Hi Shelia!  Co-washing and deep conditioning used to be my normal post-work out routine but I abandoned them at the start of the year because I, one, didn't have enough time during the week to deep conditioning twice a week, and two, was not up to detangling and stretching my hair twice a week.  When I had less new growth to manage co-washing and deep conditioning twice a week were two great ways to restore moisture to my hair.

Since abandoning mid-week co-washing and deep conditioning earlier this year (I think around mid-January), moisturizing with HairVeda Red Tea Satin Moisturizer and sealing with grapeseed oil have become my go-to method to combat any dryness I may experience from working out (I work out 5-6 days a week).

When working out I wear my hair either in a high bun or high ponytail. After working out I take my hair down and give my damp scalp time to breathe and dry out.  Even though I no longer co-wash during the week I haven't experience any issues my scalp (yay!).

My next step is to section my hair into four (sometimes six), apply moisturizer (I apply the moisturizer as close to my scalp as possible without actually getting any product on my scalp), seal, and loosely bun my hair (along with applying aloe vera gel to edges, if necessary, to tame my edges for the next morning).  The next morning my hair is soft and moisturized.  HairVeda Red Tea Satin Moisturizer is a weird one because it takes a while for it to "kick in" but this moisturizing and sealing routine works for me because I work out at night so after showering and tucking myself into bed, the moisturizer has a couple hours to sink and do its thing.

Below is my hair earlier this week, on left, after taking down my ponytail, and on right, after moisturizing and sealing the back half of my hair.  Sweating does cause my roots to revert some (remember I use the tension method to stretch my hair on wash days) but as long the "outer layers" appear neat and smooth, I'm happy.

Hopes this helped Shelia!

Have any tips for Shelia? Share 'em in the comments pretty please. Sharing is caring :)

P.S: Here are the links to my product reviews for the products in the graphic above: Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing ConditionerAussie Moist 3 Minute MiracleAs I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner, HairVeda Sitrinillah Deep Conditioner, Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner, and HairVeda Red Tea Satin Moisturizer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wash Day

[1] Pre-poo: Applied L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Restoring Conditioner to dry hair and then sat under my dryer for 15 minutes. My mom is into town and per usual, she loves to look on during my wash days. I'm pretty sure she enjoys my wash days more than I ever will because she was just a bundle of sunshine at the sight of "the curls that looked just like hers." I had to pull her hand out of my hair twice. Gotta love her!
My hair with L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Restoring Conditioner still in
[2] Co-wash: Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner (my review).

[3] Tea rinse: Black tea. After tea rinsing, I do not rinse the tea out with water. I wrap my hair in a towel for 20 minutes to soak up excess liquid and then apply deep conditioner.

[4] Deep condition: I was tempted to forgo deep conditioning because my hair felt awesome but old habits die hard and I wasn't willing to chance dry hair during the week so I applied HairVeda Sitrinillah to my hair and sat under my steamer for 15 minutes.

[5] ACV: After rinsing out the deep conditioner, I sprayed my scalp and hair with water + apple cider vinegar.

[6] T-shirt dried for 40 minutes, then I applied my leave-ins, detangled and stretched my hair using the tension method. I switched up my leave-ins this wash and used Oyin Handmade Hair Dew and Creme of Nature Argan Oil Heat Defense Smooth & Shine Polisher. I've had both products for a while but never felt excited about them enough to use them. I decided to try Oyin Hair Dew after my mom commented how soft it made her hair and I grabbed CoN's Polisher because it claims to eliminate frizz and is a heat protectant. Normally I use cold air when drying my hair via then tension method but I was in a rush so I used warm hair. The great thing about my dryer is that the warm is really lukewarm and feels borderline cool but I'm all about "better safe than sorry" so it's not cold air, I use a heat protectant.

[7] Tame edges: To finish up my wash day, I applied aloe vera gel to my edges, gently brushed it in, and tied edges down with a silk scarf to smooth them out.

To the left is my hair right after applying my leave-ins but before detangling and drying. And the right is my hair after drying via tension method. My hair wasn't as soft as it is when I use Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In but it was smooth, fluffy, and straight... all achieved without flat ironing my hair or really much heat.

How was your wash day? Don't forget to join our healthy hair tribe below!