Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trip Down Memory Lane

When I first started my HHJ, I had to use a donut to fill my bun. In the photo below I used one of those mesh donuts you can find at pretty much every beauty supply store. This was my first bun back in March 2009. It took me forever to figure out how to spread my hair out to cover the mesh donut because my ends were thin and the mesh kept peeking through. I used to HATE buns, now I live in them. Go figure.

JGA used to have a different url ( when I first started out as well.

Hair Story Feature: Meet Powderblushh

August 10, 2014
Your hair is? Relaxed (this includes texlaxed)

When did you start your hair journey? What inspired you?
I started my hair journey in February of 2011 after I had severely damaged my already unhealthy shoulder length hair with the use of products that weren't suited for my hair. My hair kept breaking over and over and before I knew it I was left with damaged, brittle, broken ear length hair. After crying for days, I decided that I couldn't go on like this and I had to find a way to grow my hair back.
That's how I ended up on YouTube searching for a way to grow black hair long and that's when I came across videos of Black women with gorgeous, healthy, long hair. You wouldn't believe the face I made when I finally realized, I too could get my hair to grow this long.

Describe your hair for us.
I would describe my hair as being high density with a mixture of medium to thick strands and I believe I have normal porosity hair.  Talking about my hair length, I made it to mid back length last month but then I decided to get rid of a few inches because I wanted fuller, thicker ends. So as of today my hair is grazing my mid back.

What is your current regimen?
My current hair regimen is very simple. I moisturize my hair everyday with a home made hair spritz mixture made of water, vegetable glycerin and coconut oil, and I always make sure I seal it with some coconut oil to keep my hair hydrated longer. I also like to apply castor oil to my scalp every 2 days. I wash my hair once a month because my hair hates frequent washes. I use the Creme of Nature Straight from Eden Sulfate-Free Detangling Shampoo, I then deep condition for 30 minutes with my L'oreal Elseve Hair Masque (I like to add coconut oil to it) and then rinse out with cold water and apply my Elasta QP H2 Leave-In Conditioner followed by a bit of coconut oil, I then proceed to air drying my hair. I also forgot to mention that I like to do a pre-poo treatment with a blend of natural oils before washing my hair, I sometimes do it overnight, sometimes just an hour, it depends on how my hair feels that day. I like to keep my hair braided under a wig 99% of the time.

Do you have any hair goals? Have you achieved them?
Yes, I do. Back in the day, I really wanted waist length hair but then I realized that my waist was kind really close to my mid back length which is really close to my bra strap, which does not feel long anymore (all of this because I'm short and have a short torso). So now, I would like to get my hair to grow to hip length.

How did you achieve them? How are you working to achieve them?
I'm not there yet but I'm working on it. So far, low manipulation styles have tremendously helped keeping my hair hydrated and unmanipulated for long periods of time, which has in turn contributed to good length retention. I'm going to stick to my current regimen to make it to my dream length, it's been working for the past 2 years so I feel like this is the way to hip length hair for me.

Have you had any setbacks? How did you bounce back?
I was fortunate enough to only get one major setback on my journey. In October 2012 I went to the salon to get my hair relaxed after stretching for 6 months. The hair stylist proceeded to applying some relaxer to my ends (Not knowing that my hair was purposely underprocessed because I wanted the texlaxed look) and before I knew it, I was left with overprocessed ends that kept breaking, splitting and getting thinner as the year went by. It's only in March 2013 that I decided that it was time to get rid of those damaged ends and I ended up having to cut about 3 inches of Hair. It took me about 8 months after the cut to nurse my hair back to health (I had to keep it braided and moisturized twice a day, I also incorporated henna treatments to strengthen my hair).

How has your hair journey impacted other parts of your life?
Messy braid out

I'm so much more confident about myself and my hair, I don't feel like I need to hide behind weaves to feel pretty or attractive anymore. Back in the day I had an obsession with weaves, I wouldn't be caught dead without one. Today, I love my real hair more than the weaves I used to rock, I even get annoyed at wearing wigs because I just want to wear my real hair out everyday (but I can't because I'm protective styling my hair lol).

How do you deal with people who doubt you? What motivates you to keep going?
At the beginning of my journey no one believed that I could grow my hair long, I would get laughed at a lot and some people even thought I was crazy. So I made it my mission to prove to them that I could grow my hair long. I still get the occasional "your hair is a weave, "that can't be your hair!" or "why are you lying, we all know your hair is a weave!" I even had a friend who had the nerve to tell me when I first got on my hair journey "You can't grow your hair longer than mine, it's impossible and even if you do, it will never be as beautiful as mine."

For me, I have learnt to keep quiet when people attack me or challenge me over my hair because I have learnt that the more you argue with such people, the more you're bound to end up with a head-ache. What motivates me to keep going is knowing that one day they will realize that black women can grow long hair and that, that hair on my head is all mine!

What do you love most about your hair?
I used to really hate how thick my hair was when it started getting closer to Armpit length, but now this is the thing I love most about it. I only realized how nice this thickness was when people kept telling me how they liked how dense and thick my hair was. If it wasn't for those kind words I would probably still hate it today.

Blow dried hair
What are your favorite protective styles?
Wigs would have to be my fave protective styles because then I'm not tempted to play with my hair so much, because it is braided up and hidden away.

What are some of your favorite products?
I love Wave Nouveau moisturizing, finishing lotion and Elasta qp H2 leave in spray conditioner.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things (e.g. conditioner, bobby pins) would you wish you had?
I would definitely want my coconut oil because I know I could use it to do my pre-poo treatments, my moisturizing and sealing routine, oiling my scalp (it would be a life saver). I would want my wave nouveau because my hair can't do without it, definitely some castor oil, a few plastic shower caps to give my hair a good natural steam treatment and my tangle teezer to keep the knots away from my hair.

What advice would you give someone just starting out on their journey?
Believe that your hair can be beautiful, healthy and long. Believe in yourself, be patient, gentle, loving and caring to your hair and you will see what amazing things your hair can do. Don't let anyone bring you down and let your hair do its thing :)

Where can we find you on the web?
I have a YouTube Channel where I share my journey and hair growth tips at and my Instagram: Powderblushh

Thank you for sharing your story! I love your positive attitude and the progress you've made is phenomenal! Shame on your "friend" for doubting you and setting her own hair up on a pedestal. I'm sure your beautiful hair has made her eat her words.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wash Day | "Smooth Sailing"

[1] Hot oil treatment: Using grapeseed oil. To make application easier/faster, I used my Misto Oil Sprayer. Remember when I posted about it way back when? I still use it, just keep forgetting to mention it. Sectioning my hair into about 10 sections, I sprayed my scalp and hair, and then used my fingers to gently comb through to distribute the oil + remove shed hairs. Once I'd successfully created an oil slick on my head, I put my hair into 4 chunky twists and popped my Hot Head conditioning cap on for 45 minutes.

[2] Clarified/Chelated: Shampooed with Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo to remove product build up as well as mineral build up. I have hard water in my home and although my shower filter does a a great job at remove minerals from my shower water, it's beeen a while since I used a chelating shampoo so Redken joined the wash day festivities this week.

[3] Tea rinse: Green tea rinse (which I left in my hair).

[4] Deep condition: This week's wash day theme is "smooth sailing" calling for the products and techniques that give us our smoothest results so when it came time to deep condition, slight panic ensued when I realized I didn't have enough deep conditioner from both HairVeda Sitrinillah and Kurlee Belle Banana Nut & Avocado Deep Treatment - my two staple deep conditioners that leave my hair nice and smooth.

I had a "RUH ROH" à la Scooby Doo moment and just imagined myself standing in the middle of the Sahara desert with insane dryness and tangles creeping into my mane. Being a conditioner junkie has its perks though because while scrambling around like a chicken with its head cut off, I noticed I had a jar of SheScentIt Curl Moist Conditioner I had purchased during their last sale.

After grabbing the jar of Curl Moist Conditioner and sending up a "Jesus take the wheel" prayer, I applied the conditioner to my hair and then left it in for an hour -- 15 minutes under my steamer and then 45 minutues during a sneak attack/unplanned nap. Woke up with notebook spiral creases across my entire cheek. #glamorous
After steaming and leaving in for a total of 1 hour. Haven't rinsed out the conditioner yet.
Before deep conditioning my hair felt weirdly drier than normal so I was a little nervous about using an untested deep conditioner but I'll save you the suspense (I know, I know, how magnanimous of me), after rinsing out the conditioner I came to the conclusion that me and Curl Moist Conditioner might have to start going steady. #longwalksonthebeach #3amdeepconditioningconversations #thewaytomyheartisthroughagoodconditioner #whohashtagsinablogpost? #me.

The conditioner melted right into my hair, made it so darn soft and told my tangles to bow down b*tches, à la Beyoncé of course. That dry feeling my hair had going on? Gone. I may have twirled. Confetti might have been thrown. #thankGodmycatwasmyonlywitness.

[5] After rinsing the conditioner from my hair I sprayed my hair and scalp with apple cider vinegar. The purpose of this is to remove any lingering traces of conditioner and balance my scalp's pH level. I've been doing this for months and during that time I haven't had a single problem with itchy scalp or dandruff like I've had in the past. At one point 2 or 3 summers ago my scalp issues were so bad I had embarrassing thick layers of dandruff and I'd wake up from sleep just to scratch my scalp. #sexyright?

[6] Anywho, next I t-shirt dried for 40 minutes (crucial for me if I want to achieve the smoothest result possible) and then applied Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In + Organix Smoothing Shea Butter Liquid Glass Serum. After applying my leave-ins (I apply per quadrant) I sectioned my hair into smaller sections (about 6 per quadrant), detangled, and then dried my hair using the tension method + cold air.

Once my mane was fully dry, I applied aloe vera gel to my edges, gently brushed it in, and tied my hair down with a silk scarf. The next morning my hair was smooth (I wish you could reach through the screen and touch... in a non-creepy way ya know?) and stretched which at 63 weeks post made Jen a happy, happy, happy lady.

My takeaway for what helped achieved smooth results this day: (1) pre-pooing with ceramides by using grapeseed oil, (2) t-shirt drying. It may seems like a small thing, but trust me, after you give it a try and compare it to either letting your hair air dry naked or using a cotton towel, you'll notice the difference. (3) Organix Smoothing Shea Butter Liquid Glass Serum is awesome. Y'all know I love Paul Mitchell Smoothing Serum. This Organix serum works just as well, is lighter, and costs much less.  (4) the tension method. Instead of rushing like I normally do, I held my hair taut for the whole drying process (when drying a section). Edited to add (5) tying my hair down with a silk scarf after applying aloe vera gel works wonders! I'd never be able to obtain smooth edges without the scarf.

How was your recent wash day? Don't forget to link up your wash day post below!

PS: The nonsense in this post was brought to you by WAY TOO MUCH COFFEE. #IfeltlikeIcouldfly #frenchvanillaextraextrea #ohyea,IspeakDunkinDonutslingo #onlybecauseitstheonlythingIknowhowtoorder #lasthashtag #Ilied
PPS: I recorded how I apply my deep conditioner so hopefully I'll have that up soon!
PPPS: Next week's wash day theme is "Rollin' Down The River." Bring out your roller sets next week! Remember when I used to do those weekly!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

30 Days of Moisture | Moisture Overload

I've posted this graphic before, but reposting for this month's moisture challenge. Sorry for the repeat! I think a more detailed infographic is needed though, hmmmmm....

Monday, September 15, 2014

How To Choose A Moisturizing Deep Conditioner

When you're first starting out on your healthy hair journey, wading through the hundreds of options  that are now on the market might feel a bit overwhelming but learning what to look for and knowing what ingredients work well for your hair will make conditioner shopping a breeze.

Not all conditioners are created equal. Not every conditioner is suitable for use as a "deep conditioner." As a general rule of thumb, conditioners that indicate they should be left of for 2-5 minutes (or a similar time frame) are not deep conditioners, while conditioners that direct you to leave on for 15 minutes or longer (I've seen directions for up to an hour) are deep conditioners. Deep conditioners will penetrate into the hair shaft while a regular conditioner will sit on top of your hair to provide instant slip, may make your feel soft initially but does not provide lasting moisture.


Just as you would read the ingredients when grocery shopping (or at least I hope you do!), your conditioner selection should follow the same process. Online vendors do a good job at providing a full list of ingredients and if they do not, close the browser and move on. Here are key ingredients to look for:

[*] Fatty Alcohols
Fatty alcohols, such as cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, and stearyl alcohol are beneficial for our hair. Fatty alcohols are emollients, they moisturize and condition our hair, and provide slip. Cetyl alcohol is derived from vegetable oils like palm oil and coconut oils. Stearyl alcohol is derived from stearic acid. Stearic acid is obtained from animal fat or vegetable fat, commonly cocoa butter (vegetable fat extracted from cocoa beans) or shea butter (vegetable fat extracted from the nut of the shea tree). Cetearyl alcohol is a mix of fatty alcohols, mostly cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol.

[*] Humectants
Humectants draw moisture into our hair. Humectants that are commonly found in deep conditioners are glycerin, lactic acid, centrimonium chloride, hydantoin, glyceryl stearate, and honey.

[*] Conditioning Agent (like behentrimonium methosulfate)
Conditioning agents help detangle and provide moisture.

I bet that heading threw you curve ball huh? Just because a conditioner contains a protein, does not make the conditioner a protein treatment. How do you tell the difference? Start by (A) scanning the ingredients for heavy proteins like keratin and collagen. If a weaker protein like wheat or silk (which both gentle proteins that help improve elasticity) is listed (usually in the middle or further down the ingredient list), you're in the clear. That conditioner is not a protein treatment predominately geared towards strengthen weakened hair, but it is a moisturizing conditioner with a protein. Now are you free to use the this conditioner weekly? You might, but if your hair is protein sensitive or low porosity I'd say err on the side of caution and go for a moisturizing conditioner without any proteins.

(B) Pay attention to where on the ingredient list the protein is located. As a rule of them, the higher up an ingredient is on the list, the more of that ingredient is found in the product in relation to the other ingredients. So for example: if keratin (a strong protein) is the third ingredient in a conditioner that conditioner is a protein treatment that will not adequately moisturize your hair.

For more on proteins, check at my post Ingredients 101: Get To Know Proteins.

I've tried many a deep conditioner over the last 5 years but I've learned to look these ingredients when conditioner shopping:  cetyl alcohol, glycerin, steryl alcohol, stearakloniun chloride,  behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, aloe, lactic acid, and honey. I love conditioners that are packed with humectants, fatty alochols, and emollients.

[*] HairVeda Sitrinillah Deep Conditioner • $18, 16 oz • my full product review
Ingredients: Water, Coconut oil, Castor Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Steryl Alcohol, Stearakloniun Chloride, Dimethyl Stearamine, Orange oil, Orange Extract, Vanilla Extract, Lactic Acid, Germall Plus, Fragrance

Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Stearic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Basil Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Honey Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance (Parfum)
P.S. Get 10% off your first order with referral code JUSTGROWALREADY10

Ingredients: Water,Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol,Stearalkonium Chloride,Vanilla Butter(coconut oil,palm oil,vanilla planifolia), Honey, Simmondsia chinensis(Jojoba) Oil,Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Prunus armeniaca (Apricot Kernel) Oil,Hydroxypropyltrimonium Honey,Dimethyl Stearamine,Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Panthenol, Lactic Acid, Germail Plus, Fragrance

[*] Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner  $15-$31, 10 oz, 33 oz  my full product review
Ingredients: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Chloride, Stearyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Benzophenone-4, Cetrimonium Bromide, Methylparaben, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Parfum/Fragrance.

[*] SheScentIt Curl Moist Conditioner  $12.50, 9 oz (*you'll hear more about this one in this week's wash day post)
Ingredients: (Purified Water infused w/ Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Marshmallow Althaea Officianalis Root Extract, Organic Mango Extract, Slippery Elm, Goji Berry Botanical Extract, Avena Oat Extract), Persea Gratissima (Avocado Oil), Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol, Prunus Dulcis (Sweet Almond Oil), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil,  Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Honey, Stearalkonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Vegetable Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Panthenol Vit B5, Lactic Acid

What are some of your favorite deep conditioners?
We are half way through our 30 Days of Moisture Challenge! How's it going?

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.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hair Story Feature: Meet Moraa

Describe your hair for us.
Natural hair, medium density, fine strands.

How long have you been natural?
6 years.

When did you start your hair journey? What inspired you?
I began my natural hair journey in September 2008. My mother, after hearing me complain on numerous occasions about the deteriorating condition of my hair, suggested it. She never wanted me to relax, but somehow, at the tender age of 12, I’d convinced her. Since I was very nervous, I joined a healthy hair forum, read Curly Nikki and MoptopMaven religiously, and began my research. After 9 solid months of transitioning, I big chopped the week of my birthday!

What is your current regimen?
My regimen varies. When my hair is in protective styles, I’m super low maintenance. In fact, I recently tried something new and kept my most recent style in for 7 weeks without washing my hair at all. However, my hair still flourished because I used a moisturizing product, which was amazing for scalp health (Njoy Essentials, if anyone is curious).  While this might not work for everyone, it worked for me and I’m glad I tried it!

Moraa in her JGA length check shirt
When my hair isn’t in a protective style, I am a bit more “diligent.” I wash my hair 2-4 times a month, because it has a tendency to be dry. Also, while the products that I use vary, the regimen remains the same: (1) Finger-detangle with an oil; (2) Cleanse with a conditioner or moisturizing shampoo (depending on my scalp); (3) Deep Condition with whatever slippery conditioner I have on hand; (4) Detangle with a comb, followed by a Tangle Teezer; (5) Apply the Kimmaytube Leave-in and style my hair in chunky braids or twists.

What has helped your hair flourish the most? Protective styling and careful detangling!

Have you had any setbacks? How did you bounce back?
YES. Plenty. My most recent set back occurred in November 2013, when my new stylist told me I needed to cut off a significant amount of hair because my ends were very damaged. While I had always taken great care of my hair and had a solid regimen in place, I wasn’t diligent with detangling and trimming. Because my hair is very tightly coiled, it’s very tangle prone. As a result, the best way to see split ends is when it’s stretched; however, because I avoided stylists like the plague and I was so opposed to using heat, I was unable to see the true damage. Welp, that was all fixed when I had a hair cut. I bounced back by going into 6-7 months of protecting styling, and I’m working on maintaining and retaining.

How has your hair journey impacted other parts of your life?
When I began transitioning, I researched relaxer ingredients and I was shocked to learn what was inside them. This was my segue into a healthier lifestyle. I learned about the importance of reading labels, which led me to question what I was putting inside my body. I eventually transitioned to vegetarianism and then veganism. I’m pretty grateful for all the information I learned.

What are your favorite styles?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m super simple and boring! Because, I always try to keep my ends protected I’m in pinned up chunky twists or braids.

What are some of your favorite products? How do you choose products?
Some of my favorite products are:
• Hello Hydrations Conditioner
• Aubrey Organics White Camelia Conditioner
• Njoy Essentials Oil
• Kimmaytube Mix
    I found them a variety of ways - either by trial and error, word of mouth, or YouTube!

    How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? 
    I was very lucky. My family was totally on board.

    How did you deal with people who doubted you? What motivated you to keep going?
    While I didn’t deal with others doubting me, I faced self-doubt in the beginning. To keep myself motivated, I often reminded myself of why this was important to me . When that didn’t work, I looked to my core inner circle to jolt me.

    What advice would you give someone just starting out on their journey?
    (1) Do whatever works for your hair! There are so many hair “rules,” but not all of them will apply to you. (2) Try to remember that everyone’s journey is different; while someone might achieve waist length in 4 years, it could take you 5 or 10 or 12, and that’s ok!; (3) and for the natural haired gals, thoughts of relaxing doesn’t make you a traitor… I promise!

    If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things (e.g. conditioner, bobby pins) would you wish you had?
    (1) Water, (2) Conditioner, (3) Hemp Oil or Njoy Essentials Oil, (4) Comb (5) and Scarf

    What do you love most about your hair? 
    It’s versatile!

    Where can we find you on the web? Instagram: @sweatsleeprepeat | Twitter: @foreversweetm

    Thank you for sharing your story and your beautiful hair with us Moraa! 

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    Q&A | Picking Your Brain

    A reader asks:
    Hi Jen!!...Since you wash your hair in the shower, how do you keep your hair from clogging up the drain?
    Hi there, I have a hair catcher in my drain and when rinsing out my hair I catch shed strands with my fingers (or scoop them out of the water if I spot them) and stick them to my shower wall to keep my drain clear.

    Sade asks:
    Hi Jen, loooove your blog. I started my HHJ at the beginning of the year and I started seeing reduced breakage but I suffer with dandruff and my shampoo is drying and contains sulfates. What should I do?
    Thanks Sade! I definitely recommend switching to a sulfate-free shampoo. There are a couple of things I've tried over the years that have proven helpful for keeping my scalp itchy free, check out these posts:
    1. Was apple cider vinegar what my scalp was missing?
    2. Acidic and Alkaline pH Levels & Why They Matter
    3. Battling My Itchy Scalp with Lavender and Eucalyptus Oil
    4. Treating My Itchy Scalp: My Current Oil Mix

    Links #1 and #2 detail the method (using apple cider vinegar on wash days) and reasoning behind my current approach to keeping my scalp flake and itch free.  I've been using AVC for my scalp for months now and I've had zero issues with my scalp. Hope this helps!

    Lily asks:
    Hi, ORS lye relaxer causes a lot of shedding for me.& no-lye makes my hair so dry. Is there a way I can reduce the drying effect apart from chelating shampoo.
    Hi Lily, no-lye relaxers tend to have a drying effect because they leave mineral deposits behind on the hair shaft. These minerals make it harder for moisture to absorb into the hair shaft. Prior to relaxing your hair, apply either conditioner or oil to your hair. This will help prevent reduce the drying effect and prevent minerals from depositing easily along the hair shaft. I still recommend using a chelating shampoo though, especially before you deep condition after relaxing your hair; you'll want your hair to reap the benefits of the deep conditioner as much as possible.

    MissV asks:
    Hi Jen - do you have any specific info on what you do with your hair while you sleep? Do you use a mesh wrap or silk wrap covered with a satin bonnet? Do you use a satin pillowcase? I am not sure what the heck to do with my hair at night!! 
    Hi there! Most nights I place my hair in a loose bun and tie my hair up with a silk scarf. If I'm wearing my hair straight, I cross wrap my hair and use mesh wraps to hold the cross-wrap together and then I tie a silk scarf over my hair. I do have satin pillowcases but I only use them when I'm drying my flexi rod set overnight to prevent frizz because I leave my hair uncovered for that night (I learned the hard way that if covered, even loosely, my curls will not dry overnight).

    Sophia asks:
    Hi Jen, on aloe vera gel, do u put oil before, after or not at all when when u apply it, do u apply more when your strands pop out, on wash day do u rinse your hair before u pre poo and do u think its advisable to apply it on the whole head?  
    Hi Sophia, I only apply oil (about 5-6 drops for my whole head) if I'm moisturizing and then sealing with the oil prior to applying aloe vera gel.

    I pre-poo (with conditioner or oil) on dry hair.

    Do you mean would I advise applying aloe vera gel to the whole head? If so--that would depend on the purpose. If you're using aloe vera gel to define curls/moisturize/leave-in then yes you'd apply to all of your hair. But just to smooth edges and tame fly-away strands, then no, you'd limit it to the area you're focusing on.

    A reader asks:
    How many bottles of moisturizer and leave in conditioner do you go through each month?
    In a month? None, thankfully! A bottle of leave-in and moisturizer both last me about 7-8 months but most of the time longer because I usually rotate between two different kinds.

    A reader asks:
    What's your hair type?
    I'm not really sure. It's been years since I looked at a typing chart. 4a/4b/4c I guess. I've learned that my curl pattern isn't uniform and varies from tight corkscrews to waves in some parts.  Here's a shot of my new growth last month.

    A reader asks:
    You never list argan oil as one of the oils you like to use, I was just wondering if it was a bad choice, as I have been using argan oil to seal my moisturizer for some time now. It seems to work well, but I've never really used anything else...
    It's not listed only because I've never used it (not because there's anything wrong with argan oil). I was interested in trying it a while ago but never got around to purchasing it, but it's great for hair. Here's a list of benefits from this post I wrote back when I had argan oil in my sights:
    • Say good-bye to frizzy hair forever with just 1-2 drops of argan hair applied to hair. Split ends can be avoided using argan oil and damaged hair can be restored. Argan oil health benefits for hair also include providing an remarkable shine to dull hair. It not only prevents hair damage due to styling and outdoor activities, but also improves elasticity and reduces hair loss due to breakage. [source]
    • Argan oil hydrates the hair in a natural way. It stops the curliness and roughness of hair in an efficient way.
    • Argan oil penetrates into the hair pores or shafts and enhances the elasticity of hair. It also proves to be very nourishing for the growth of hair.
    • Argan oil is very good for uncontrollable and unmanageable hair. It restores the smoothness of hair and makes them manageable again.
    • Natural antioxidants present in Argan oil strengthen the hair by repairing the damaged cellular membrane of hair.
    • Presence of Vitamin E in Argan oil makes it a tremendous agent for hair treatment. Many external and internal agents like heat, over styling and oxidization damage the hair. Vitamin E present in Argan oil is very useful in restoring the natural hair and renewing and repairing the damage caused by destructive agents.
    • Researchers believe that non-greasy Argan oil locks the moisture in and adds to and restores the luster and shine of hair.
    • Color treatment of hair causes certain damage to hair, makes them brittle and takes away the smoothness. It is an additional benefit of Argan oil that it cures the brittle hair and increases the life of color treated hair. In this job it even surpasses in competitiveness from Jojoba oil.
    • Rich contents of unsaturated fatty acids like Omega 3 and Omega 9 in Argan oil are a direct source of essential nutritional components for hair pores and roots. These unsaturated fatty acids strengthen the protein bonding structures in hair thereby improving strength of hair and healing the split ends of hair. [source]

    A reader asks:
    I was wondering where could I purchase Safflower oil? I saw that you used it. Is there a certain brand you use?
    I purchase either at my local market, Whole Foods Market, or Amazon. No certain brand, I grab whichever brand is available.

    A readers asks:
    How long did it take to get your hair to waist length?
    I cut my hair many, many times along the way but I started my HHJ in March, 2009 at shoulder length and hit waist length in December, 2012. The timeline of my progress can be found here: Progress Pics.

    Yalanda @ Laugh Anyway asks:
    Hi Jen! I love your blog. I've learned so much about caring for my hair during my transition. How do I know if I need a protein treatment? I've done them a few times, and I can't really tell if they work (they've always been DIY with egg). Thanks!
    Hi Yalanda! A quick and easy way to determine whether your hair needs protein or moisture is to do a strand test. When either wet or dry, take a strand of hair and gently stretch it. If the strand barely stretches and snaps, more moisture is needed. If while dry, your hair feels brittle, hard, rough, easily tangles, more moisture is needed.  If the strand of hair stretches and stretches without snapping, protein is needed. Likewise, if your hair feels too mushy and limp, more protein is needed. Balanced hair stretches when gently pulled but returns to its original length without breaking.

    Submit your PYB questions here

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    Wash Day | "Tried and True"

    I promise I didn't arrange my products around my cat LOL. As I was arranging the products, she sauntered over and flopped down like she belonged in the photo... who was I to deny her haha.

    This week's wash day theme highlights your "tried and true" products, techniques, and styles. You've most definitely read about my faves (because I use 'em all the darn time lol... can't say I'm not consistent!) but here they are once more with quick explanations as to why they're my aces.

    [1] I started off by pre-pooing (short of "pre-shampoo treatment) with HairVeda Red Tea Satin Nourishing Conditioner. After applying the conditioner (to dry hair) I popped my heating cap on for 45 minutes. I love this conditioner as a pre-poo because it moisturizes, sinks it well, and detangles like a dream. [2] After pre-pooing I co-washed with Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner, which basically turns my tub into slip city due to the amount of flips it provides.  I may or may not have accidentally fallen out of the tub once as a result. This cleansing conditioner provides lots of slip to help loosen any tangles while cleansing my hair (without stripping it), softens my hair, and doesn't cling to my scalp.

    [3] I followed up with a green tea rinse. Green tea is my favorite tea for shedding because it does not stiffen my hair like black tea tends to do. After tea rinsing, I wrapped my hair in a towel for 15 minutes to soak up excess liquid from my hair before [4] deep conditioning with HairVeda Sitrinillah Deep Conditioner for 15 minutes under my Secura steamer. You've undoubtedly seen this conditioner posted many, many times. It's does a great job at producing soft, fluffy hair once it rinsed out as well as lasting moisture.

    [5] After rinsing 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. Then I t-shirt dried my hair for 40 minutes. [6] After taking down the t-shirt, I applied my fave leave-in conditioner, Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In Conditioner, and serum. For this wash I used Shea Moisture Liquid Glass Serum. I've discovered that it provides the slip and smooth results I get from my long time love Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum, but it costs much less.

    As for my fave technique, you guessed it -- it's the tension method (+ cold air) to stretch my hair.  Stretching my hair this way has been the biggest help during my transition. Keeping my hair stretched helps keep tangles to a minimum and makes my new growth so much easier to handle. For more on the tension method, check out this post: The Tension Method When Blow Drying: How To & Benefits

    I didn't have enough time to stretch my hair out as best as I could so I had to settle for holding chunky sections taught for about 2 minutes while I dried with cold air and then put each quadrant into a big two strand twist to keep my damp hair stretched while I worked on the rest of my hair.

    Once I'd detangled and stretched all of my hair, I applied aloe vera gel to my edges, gently brushed them with a soft bristle brush (I no longer wet my brush because it causes my edges to revert), and finished drying my hair in a bun overnight.

    The next morning my hair was fluffy and smooth. Yay! For my "tried and true" style you know I had to go with one of my faves: my trusty bun! Buns have helped me retain length by helping me keep my ends tucked away and protected. I'm clinging to all the summer days I can so I added my fave flower clip to one side.

    What are your "tried and trues?" 

    PS: Next week's wash day theme is: "Smooth Sailing." We want to see how you achieve your smoothest results.
    PPS: Would you guys want a step by step video on how I deep condition for the 30 Days of Moisture challenge?