Saturday, September 27, 2014

How I Removed Mineral Build Up From My Steamer

This month marks the second year since I bought my Secura steamer (my product review is posted here) and it's been about a year since I took the time to remove mineral build up from the heating coil. I know, I know, shame on me. I'll go sit in my corner now :(

Last week while emptying and washing out the water reservoir, I stopped to look—like really look because apparently I've had blinders on for a year—at the heating coil and couldn't believe how much mineral build up I had let accumulate. When steaming, I use water from my bathroom shower, which is filtered using a shower filter (the one in this post here) to remove minerals from the water (I have hard water in my home), but as you can see, even after a year the small traces of minerals that are not removed from the water add up.

Step 1: I soaked the coil in water (I simply filled it to the point where the coil was fully submerged) and added 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Total soak time: 1 hour. The little bubbles/fizzles you see in the photo below is the ACV dissolving the mineral build up on the coil. 

After 45 minutes, the steamer was nearly mineral build up free.

To remove the last traces of build up, I rubbed off all remaining bits with a paper towel and was rewarded with a clean, shiny, steamer coil. Whoop whoop! And at no cost and without fuss!

Seeing all the build up on my coil really reinforced the importance of using a chelating shampoo (my fave is Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo) to remove mineral build up, because although my filter removes 99% of minerals from the water, that 1% accumulates over time and is just plain gross.

Moral of the story: (1) my dearest JGAers, don't be like me. If you have a steamer and do not use distilled water, then check your steamer for mineral build up regularly. If you spot it, grab your bottle of apple cider vinegar and go, go, go. (2) If you aren't periodically using a clarifying/chelating shampoo to remove product and mineral build up from your hair, you should start!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

4 Ways To Make A Conditioner Work For You

Items in this post:
Vegetable glycerin
Coconut oil
Hot Head Conditioning Cap (my steamer review is posted here and for the pros and cons of conditioning caps vs steamers, check out this post)
Silk Amino Acid

Hair Story Feature: Meet Saunya

Describe your hair for us.
Hmm, that’s difficult lol…I would say that I have deep brown, thick textured, tightly coiled hair.

How long have you been natural?
I big chopped May of 2011. So it’s been almost 3.5 years since I have returned natural.

When did you start your hair journey? What inspired you?
I actually started my hair journey years before I even thought about returning my hair to its natural state. In 2008 I stopped going to hair salons because of my frustration with “trims” turning into haircuts. I had had enough with putting my hair solely into the care beauticians and constantly leaving the beauty shop disappointed.

Then is when I decided to educate myself and take my hair care into my own hands. I stopped going to beauty salons and started doing my hair myself. I created a fotki (how many of you remember that site? lol) and tracked the health of my hair and the length through pictures. I had successfully grown my hair from neck length to bra-strap length by taking care of my hair myself.  Two years later (2010) is when I decided that I wanted to grow out my natural hair and stop using relaxer. I’ve never looked back since.

Did you transition long term or short term?  What did you struggle with the most during your transition?
I think my transition was rather short. I applied my last relaxer September 2010 and cut off my relaxed hair May 2011. So my transition was only 9 months. During my transition, the tough part for me was washing my hair and the tangling that took place with trying to manage the two textures. I eventually learned how to blend the two textures by transitional styling - bantu-knot outs and braid-outs.

What is your current regimen?
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t really have a consistent regimen! I try to cleanse and deep condition my hair once every 2-3 weeks. But really right now, whenever I can get to it. Protective styling has become my best friend! I love easy maintenance when it comes to my hair especially because my texture requires a lot of maintenance and care. Protective styling allows my hair to rest and keeps breakage at bay.

What has helped your hair flourish the most?
Honestly, I would have to say paying close attention to how my hair responds to different products, temperatures, and high and low maintenance has really helped me take care of my hair to the best of my ability. I truly believe that if we learn our own hair and what works for us, we would all have strong and healthy hair no matter the length or texture.

Have you had any setbacks? How did you bounce back?
Yes! For the first few months on my natural hair journey, I was detangling my hair all wrong and suffered severe breakage at the crown of my head. I had no idea I had a more delicate section of my hair that was sensitive to heavy maintenance and manipulation. Once I learned that, I became EXTRA careful with that section of my hair.

How has your hair journey impacted other parts of your life?
Absolutely! Returning natural has honestly been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I have evolved so much as a person partly because of this decision. Many think that making a decision like this is easy, but really it can be quite tough. Returning natural for me had a lot to do with identity, learning who I was and standing against the odds of what people expected me to look like and being secure in how God created me. I've also noticed how this natural hair epidemic is becoming a culture. It is uniting African American women of all ages. It's one less thing that divides women of color. The commonality we share unites us and I am proud to be part of that.

What are your favorite styles?
Twist-outs and mini twists are my favorites. My favorite go-to protective style is Marley twists.

What are some of your favorite products? How do you choose products?
I tend to stick with what my hair likes, so I don't try new products often. But it definitely took me a while to figure out my staple products. Currently my favorite products are:
  • Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk
  • Shea moisture Raw Shea Butter moisture retention shampoo
  • Vo5 Moisture Milks moisturizing conditioner 
I moisturize and twist with my own Shea Butter mix that I create which includes -  Raw Shea Butter and oils.

How did family and friends reaction to your decision to go natural? 
They actually embraced it! I was surprised! I cut all of my relaxer off on impulse one late night and was so afraid of how my parents and family would react. Especially my Mom lol! She didn’t flip out like I thought she would but was very supportive of my decision and has since cut out her relaxer and is wearing her hair in its natural state as well.

How did you deal with people who doubted you? What motivated you to keep going?
Honestly, I try not to pay any attention to it. I have learned and am still learning not to base how I feel about myself on what others think. I trusted my decision and I was passionate about the reasoning’s behind it. That alone was enough to keep me going.

What advice would you give someone just starting out on their journey?
Try to enjoy each stage. I know sometimes it gets frustrating to have to wait in between stages for hair growth, but embrace it! The beginning stages are where you learn the most about your hair. It’s a journey, embrace each stage.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things (e.g. conditioner, bobby pins) would you wish you had?
  1. My satin hair scarf. Have to keep my edges laid!
  2. Bobby Pins – almost any hairstyle is achievable with bobby pins. A MUST have!
  3. Knee high – My all-time favorite hair accessory that gives me the most amazing puffs
  4. V05 Moisture Milks Conditioner – My absolute favorite for quick conditioning or co-wash
  5. My Shea Butter Mix

What do you love most about your hair?
I love that it is so versatile. We as African American women can shape and mold our hair into almost any style imaginable. It never gets boring.

Where can we find you on the web?
Instagram & Twitter: @Saunyaaa

Thank you for sharing your story Saunya! Beautiful smile and gorgeous hair!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wash Day | "Rollin Down The River"

My "rollin' down the river" roller set was more like trying to white water raft minus the raft. It sucked. This was the wash day that tried all the patience I had left for roller sets.

[1] I started off by pre-pooing with HairVeda Red Tea Nourishing Conditioner for 15 minutes under my steamer.
After steaming with HV's Red Tea Nourishing Conditioner

After letting my hair cool (which I always do after either using heat from my steamer or conditioning cap) I hopped in the shower to [2] co-wash with As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner. I haven't used this cleaning conditioner much in the last couple of months (because Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner provides a lot more slip), but I wanted to make sure I removed any gel build up from my hair without using an actual shampoo so I had to dig out my As I Am.

[3] Once my hair was gel-free and cleansed, I used Silk Dreams Mocha Silk Infusion for a quick protein treatment (10 minutes) on just my relaxed ends to combat the short-strand breakage that veered its ugly head during the week.  [4] After rinsing my hair, I lovingly cocooned it in a cotton towel to soak up excess water before [5] deep conditioning with SheScentIt Curl Moist Conditioner under my steamer for 15 minutes.

If you could have read my mind you would've thought I was a little nuts. I sat there mentally chanting "please don't be a fluke, please don't be a fluke," referring to the awesome-hair-so-soft-make-you-wanna-smack-yo-momma-bye-bye-tangles results the Curl Moist Conditioner produced last week. Apparently mental chants work. The conditioner wasn't a fluke and the soft, moisturized results it produced was the last happy moment I had during this wash. *Le sigh*

[6] After t-shirt drying for 20 minutes, I sectioned off my hair and sat down to tackle my roller set. I didn't want to do it. I really didn't. I debated whether I should hide my rollers and just use my flexi rods instead but said to myself "Self,  do it for the vine." Self replied, "I ain't gon do it." Just like this little girl, the originator. Or Elmo. Or everyone in this video.

For leave-ins I used Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In Conditioner and Organix Shea Butter Liquid Glass Serum. I opted to do a ponytail roller set using hourglass rollers and after sitting under my dryer for an hour and 15 minutes, my hair was still wet!

After taking down the rollers and seeing the state of my hair, I may have screeched because I had an appointment and couldn't afford to spend anymore time under the dryer. I really stood in front of the mirror for a couple minutes just staring at my hair like "WHAT IS THIS MESS!"

The only highlight was that my roots were stretched. Yay for small victories.

To save the day, I threw my hair in a bun, applied aloe vera gel to my edges, and tied my hair down with a scarf for the 30 minutes I could spare while I got ready.

I'm 100% sure that the fact that (1) some of my sections were too big and (2) my dryer is on it's last leg are the culprits of this roller set fail so I'm going to do another roller set with my other mesh rollers like I did in this video either this weekend or next weekend.

Please tell me your roller set this wash day was a success, I need a pick-me-up and motivation. Share your results in the link up pretty please?

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....