Saturday, November 20, 2010

inching along: a random unstretched length check

i was on LHCF about a week or so ago when a member who recently BC'd (she reminds me so much of myself -- 3c/4a with fine strands, BC'd after 12 months) made a thread asking how long your hair is when weighed down with DC. i took it upon myself to take a picture of my hair, since i was already in the process of DCing, and found that my hair is the same length whether saturated with a heavy DC (in this case, matrix biolage conditioning balm) or freshly cowashed. i also found that when wet, my hair is comfortably SL, quite a change from 2009's unstretched wet length. (of course, it still shrinks up to NL, if i let it go without being manipulated.) enjoy this random pic, friends.
NOTE: shortly after taking this picture, the critic in me noticed that the curls on the left side looked less than stellar. attributing it to my last bout with heat and my lack of protein restoration since then, i did an overnight DC with my HG protein conditioner, ion effective care treatment. i love this DC, which i reviewed earlier this year here, and recently repurchased a smaller bottle during an impromptu sally's run. i am happy to report the curls are now back to their normal springy curly selves.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

back on the ball.....or the mat

last summer, i began working out consistently in order to lose a bit of a belly i was self-conscious about. i went from what i thought was a great 123 lbs at 5'5" to over 135 lbs less than 6 months later. on a frame my size, i felt like it was really noticeable, and i blogged about a bit of my frustrations and what i was doing to get over it. when i was in that horrible car accident last december, i lost all that weight and then some -- you get what you ask for, as the saying goes. in literally a week, i went from 135 to 115 and arose (well, as best as i could) stick thin and feeling self-conscious again. i was wheelchair-bound for about 6 weeks, then on crutches for about a month before i could walk again, but i spent at least part of my time in rehab trying to firm up my newly slim body and regain weight in the right places as opposed to flab where i didn't want it. i was just getting to a point where i felt as if i could keep up what i was learning when the rehab stopped....a good thing, considering it stopping was contingent upon me being able to walk again. although i was back to my old self for the most part, i never fully regained the ability to run, and even though i always detested running, the fact that i physically wasn't able to do it made me want it so bad. when i met my current SO, an avid soccer player and workout lover, he told me he would love to help me get back in shape, but he's such a sweetheart that i quickly learned the level at which my whining would make him give in. thus, i only find myself walking with him or doing any kind of workout maybe once every two weeks, at best. now that i am again gaining weight, something i struggled a bit with post-accident (again, you get what you ask for) it is again building up in my mid-section. making the whole struggle harder is the non-running thing, plus a bad knee and horrible back pain that i still have from breaking my tailbone and hip in the accident.

despite me not getting out there, i have always had this "thing" in the back of my head where i knew what i wanted to do, even if i couldn't get the ball rolling. once i heard pilates was not only an exercise craze but also used as PT for those with lower back injuries, i jumped at the chance to take a few classes and see if it could help me. on top of that, the jillian michaels 30 day shred DVD that i still possess from last summer worked then, and it is something that i can do at home. i figured that between the two of those, maybe erratic access to an elliptical, and some walking shoes, i could at least get a little back in shape. i became aware of groupon a few months ago, and i love the deals they offer -- cheap ways to explore your city, discover a new restaurant, and of course tons of quirky date ideas. one day back in august, they actually had a groupon for pilates classes -- 5 classes at a local studio here in durham for $15. i jumped at the chance to take 5 classes for the price of one, and though i knew their schedule would fill up, i bought the deal anyway. i largely forgot about it until two weeks ago, when i installed a groupon app on my ipod and suddenly recalled shelling out the money for the deal. i was lucky enough to call and get a spot in the beginner's class that very night, and so began my love affair with pilates. as a decidedly lazy person who believes anything low-impact HAS to be a better way to get in shape, i adored the instructor and found the poses challenging yet easy to get used to. i immediately came home and wanted to do it again, but hoped that the exerciseTV workouts included with my SO's extremely expensive HD cable package could suffice until my next in-studio session. i looked up a few, and found the instructors on there a bit hyper, but still able to guide me through pretty much the exact same workout i had just done down the street. i filed this away in my brain and continued to create a plan of attack.....even though it played out much better in my head than in my life.

things progressed pretty much unchanged until yesterday, when my SO asked me to meet him outside without telling me why. we began with a short walk to duke's campus, which turned into sort of a sightseeing tour for me. before i knew it, we had been walking for quite some time and it added up to over 2 miles of walking. as unexpected as it was, i felt proud of myself -- not only had i been able to walk further than i have (at least, on purpose) since before my accident, but i was able to ignore the growing pain in my ankle and keep on truckin'. the one thing that used to get me down about walking when i first started was the throbbing that would start, almost as a warning sign, when i stood longer than 5 minutes, and feeling that same pain yesterday was almost a badge of honor to prove to myself how far i have come. i expect that the more i walk the less i will feel it, and eventually i will be able to run around the campus walls without that pain bothering me.

today, i got off to a late start and for some reason started thinking about pilates again. i then realized that it was because the class is on wednesdays at 7, and this was at about 5pm. i wanted to bash my head against the wall once i realized that even if i did want to go, i couldn't, since my SO was out with the car. all of a sudden, the little voice in the back of my head got on me -- why can't you just work out here? all the excuses began to formulate, and i entertained them for about 5 seconds before i decided to suck it up and do the total body pilates workout. after it was over, i felt sufficiently stretched, but not finished working out. i couldn't believe what i was doing, but i then did the jillian michaels 30 day shred workout to get in a good sweat. it was harder than i remember, maybe because it's been almost a year since i last did it, but when it was over i felt all the familiar emotions rushing back: the burn in my abs, my legs feeling like they were about to give out, and an ache in my shoulders giving way to this overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

that's two days of workouts down -- let's see if i can keep this up for a while.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This darn shedding!

I have fallen off of my projected straightening schedule ALREADY....but for good reason. The blowout that I got last month took me well through the end of October, just like I expected. It wasn't difficult at all -- my regimen was super simple, being that most days I wore my hair in some sort of bun (high bun, donut bun, braided bun), updo (usually with a claw clip or good hair day pin), or braidout and I only moisturized maybe 2 times a week to avoid buildup from too much coconut or avocado oil. The hard part actually came from what should have been a simple step in my regimen: washing my hair. I rarely combed my hair all the way through from root to tip when it was straight, opting to finger comb or brush only the edges when needed. Therefore, I completely forgot about the crazy seasonal shedding I get in the fall.

The day that I washed my hair, I stepped in the shower with a large comb, a few clips, and my shampoo, but came out with a few huge hair balls! Of course I panicked, but luckily I have been taking great care to track not only my growth, but also my shedding and breakage amounts -- not to the point where i am doing obsessive things like counting strands and examining every piece of hair for that little white bulb (okay, maybe just every OTHER strand, lol), but I do know what is normal versus abnormal for me. I first noticed in the fall of 2008 as a new natural that something wasn't quite right with my hair....I remember not combing a WNG for about a week and being horrified to discover on wash day that my hair was matted. I did learn quickly that once-a-week detangling was not going to be an option if I was wearing WNGs, but I also learned that the amount of hair I shedded that week was what caused the matting. Even after starting to PS, I was still getting these huge hairballs, and all the troubleshooting in the world didn't fix it. I calmly waited it out, and noticed around December that things were back to normal. The same thing happened last fall, despite the fact that I was PSing a lot more, and no matter how many garlic treatments I did or pills I popped, it didn't stop until it was ready to. This year being the third year, I have now realized that it's just a seasonal thing that I can't really do anything about. I did do a few protein treatments to a) restore my hair from the heat use and b) ward against any possible breakage there could have been, but even with all that Megatek, I am still pulling back tons of shed hairs every time I touch my hair.

The only plan of attack I have is to keep doing what I have been doing: wearing my hair in protective styles and keeping up with a strict moisture regimen. I cornrowed the sides of my hair last Sunday to make a semi-frohawk and wore my loose hair in a variation of sponge roller curls, french braids, braidouts and braidout buns this week, making sure to wet, moisturize and finger comb my hair each night before resetting. Tomorrow I will take down the cornrows, prepoo with coconut oil, shampoo my hair, DC with matrix biolage conditioning balm and add the kimmaytube leave-in with a few sprays of aphogee green tea + keratin. Not quite sure how I will style it yet, but I am kinda liking the combo of cornrows and french braids, so that may win out. I will try straightening again in December, since I hope the shedding will have stopped by then.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

claiming it!

instead of getting my blowout in september like i was supposed to, i decided to hold off until this month so that the humidity could die down. after a week of rain and straight COLD weather, i decided to go tuesday to get my hair straightened. it was an experience, as it's been quite some time since iris didn't do my hair, but it turned out alright.

once i got home, i dusted my ends. i will do this again next month, and until my ends are blunt and full like i like 'em. hopefully i will be able to reach full BSL (and maybe even partial MBL) by the end of 2010. i am still trying to decide whether this will be the start of my fall/winter straight hair regimen, or if i will spend a few more weeks with my fro before parting with such favorites as daily cowashing, wet bunning, and slathering on kimmaytube's leave-in.

anyway, enough talk. here are some pics!
P.S. it has now been THREE YEARS since i discovered dominican salons and made the conscious decision to transition. what a crazy three years it has been. going natural is one of the best decisions i ever made....and i only regret not doing it sooner!

Monday, September 13, 2010

stuck in a rut

i really hate this time of year -- not necessarily that it comes every september, but at some point every year i can count on being stuck in a hair rut. right after i decided to keep wet bunning, i got bored with my hair and made a spontaneous decision to half-straighten my hair. it's been stuck this way for the past week...i can't bring myself to wash it, DC it, braid it up, do a twist & curl....i've just been bunning for the most part. i'm kinda hoping that as a result of writing this, i will get some sort of motivation. in my head, prepooing with EVCO and my new sweet almond oil sounds great, and an ACV rinse sounds divine, but when it comes to going into the bathroom to get started, i freeze up. ah well, hopefully it will pass. i am happy with my hair, so i know i will get that urge eventually.

guess i'll youtube surf and fotki stalk till i get some ideas....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

back at BSL

i was a little hesitant to make this post at first, being that i wanted to wait until i do an official length check next month, but now that i have come to terms with the fact that life is crazy and things just happen sometimes, i can finally be excited. you guys may remember how upset i was after that cutting setback in june -- i can still clearly remember how MAD and SAD i was when i unwrapped my hair and saw it fall to a few inches shorter than it had been when i first walked into that salon. on here, i chronicled all the changes i was making to my regimen after the setback, and for the most part i have stuck to them. using the new leave-in has been wonderful, and i really love how moisturized my hair has been feeling since i started using it. it has been super easy to wet bun everyday, which is good, considering i was really afraid i would get tired of doing it after a while. i had originally planned to wet bun through september 1st, but now that i am at august 31st and still going strong, i am thinking about extending it to october 1st and just waiting to get my hair straightened for my birthday on october 13th.

in any event, what i am really excited about sharing is the fact that I AM BACK AT BSL! that's right, i don't know how in the hell i grew and retained three inches of hair since june 5th, but i did....and i am shocked beyond all belief. i did an impromptu length check the other day, and i was in such disbelief that i had my sister grab the camera so i could have proof -- if not for the blog and my friends, then for myself! i have had growth spurts in the past, such as the one i had the spring of 2009, but i have never experienced anything like this. of course i am trying to pinpoint what exactly did it, but i don't think i will ever work it out. all i know is i had a sew-in for a month, i cowashed and wore WNGs for about two weeks after that, and for the past 6 weeks, i have been wet bunning. even if i figure out the retention part of it (my ends have been constantly wet almost the whole summer), that does not explain what caused the crazy growth. something i've been eating? true, i've been eating healthier since i moved to durham, but is cutting out red meat what did this? something i've been doing to stay fit? nope, no exercise. the prayer? perhaps. whatever it was, i can only say two things: one, i am grateful, and two....i hope it keeps up!!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

twist & curl redux

saturday night, i got bored with my hair again. i've been doing really well with the wet bun challenge (yes, STILL -- can you believe it?), but i wanted to try something with the perm rods again. in the middle of cowashing, i decided to roll with a twist and curl. not only do i love the look of them, but the idea of 2nd and maybe even 3rd day hair really excited me. hey, give me a a daily cowasher, that's not really something i get the liberty of doing! i then realized that curlynikki, one of my fave bloggers, uses this as a staple style, so i wanted to get some pointers from her blog before taking the plunge. after i got out of the shower, i wrapped my hair in my t-shirt and perused curlynikki until i found an entry on her TNC routine. although she does 11 twists, i decided to do less since my strands are fine. all i added to my hair was giovanni direct and my oil mix to seal. i did as she does and flat twisted the roots before smoothing the ends with my denman and setting them on white perm rods, ending up with 8 twists total. the next morning, i simply removed my satin bonnet and carefully unraveled my twists. i'm really happy with the results, and now that i am on day two, my hair still looks great. taking another tip from CN. i pineappled, or gathered my hair in a loose high ponytail, overnight to preserve the results. the only thing i need to read more on is moisturizing between cowashing -- i fear that a water-based moisturizer will ruin the whole thing, so maybe i will just use EVCO. this style is definitely something i will rock into the fall and winter. right now, i am thinking it will be a great go-to style on that last week of the month when i presume my straightened hair will be throwing in the towel, or just something to do if i get sick of non-textured hairstyles. until then, i'm having fun with these ringlets! if you like this style, see more photos in my fotki.

Friday, August 20, 2010

braid and curl success

i decided to try something new on wednesday night and switch it up from the wet bun i have been rocking so much lately. i went to ocean city (MD) on tuesday with my old roomies from college, and while i had fun, i forgot to take shampoo to get all that salt water out of my hair. i always read in magazines about salt water giving you "beachy, tousled waves", but that must be a type 1 or 2 hair hair felt like STRAW! anyway, when i got home, i decided to shampoo and condition my hair. i washed with suave clarifying before doing a quick oil rinse and cowashing with HE hydralicious. when i got out of the shower, i let my hair drip dry while i got dressed, then headed to the mirror to sit and think. i'm still going wild over chisellecouture's youtube videos, and was thinking about what style i wanted to do before southerntease's braid and curl popped into my head. i usually don't like braidouts on me -- having fine hair seems to make them look limp, IMO -- but i went for it anyway. i moisturized my hair with the kimmaytube leave-in....this time it actually came out thick instead of watery, so i use less of it, it seems. i made six plaits, then stopped braiding about 3/4 of the way down. i then smoothed my ends with my modified denman and added a white perm rod to the end of each. i covered my head with a satin scarf and off to bed i went.

this morning, when i took the rollers off, i was giddy when i saw the perfect coils at the end of my braids. i was even more ecstatic when i carefully undid the braids and saw the resulting style. i pinned up one side of it, one of my favorite things to do, and put on a brightly colored shirt to represent my mood. i definitely think this style is a keeper!

Friday, August 13, 2010

my (sort of) new denman brush

i have recently become enamored with fotki-stalking again, a practice i adopted back when i first joined LHCF. the other day, i was going through some fellow type 3/4 fotkis when i discovered morenita, a beautiful curly who talks about her modified denman brush. i had heard of this before, but hadn't really been concerned with trying it, since i was sure it involved warping my beloved brush in some way that would render it useless if i didn't like the modification. i purchased a new brush last month, but left it home in virginia, so this past weekend i packed it to bring back to north carolina. i decided that since i had two brushes, why not research how to make one into this "newer" version? i followed the link posted in her fotki to a youtube tutorial and was SHOCKED at how simple it was to make the switch! after watching the video, i ran to the bathroom to grab my brush and try this out. i didn't get to use the "new" brush until the next morning, when i cowashed for my daily wet bun. i did a double take when i noticed how easily the brush slid through my hair, and needless to say i am sold! i never thought i could make a near-perfect hair tool better, but apparently it can be done -- and so easily, too! give it a try and let me know what you think.

click here to watch the tutorial.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

oil rinsing is the.....!

i decided to try something new to my hair tonight, since i have been cowashing and wet bunning consistently for a while now. i had already decided to DC my hair tonight, and somewhere between writing out my regimen for tonight and applying it, i decided to make a small tweak. i ran across a thread the other day on oil rinses, and i decided that since i have SO MUCH OIL, i would go for it. well let me put it like this: i started doing it because i wanted to use up my stash, but i will keep doing it because it makes my hair feel fantastic! here's what i did:

*DC under plastic cap with matrix biolage conditioning balm for about an hour, no heat
*rinsed with warm water
*applied oil mixture (for this go-round, i used EVOO, castor oil, and my new nutiva EVCO)
*covered hair and left on for about 15 minutes
*hopped in the shower, rinsed with HOT water
*cowashed with HE HH, detangling with fingers and shower comb
*final rinse with cold water
*t-shirt dried for a few minutes, then added kimmaytube leave-in
*set hair on satin-covered sponge rollers

i simply thought that doing an oil rinse would make my hair shiny, or maybe even define my curls. in all truthfulness, i had no idea what to expect....i was just experimenting in an attempt to use up product. what i quickly discovered is that oil rinsing made my hair so easy to detangle -- while my hair never really gets super tangled, i always have to be gentle since SSKs + fine strands leads to breakage. not only did the comb glide through my hair, but even finger combing was effortless -- my fingers ran through my hair so smoothly i almost couldn't believe it! coupled with the fact that the nutiva smells positively delicious and my hair is super shiny, i definitely think we have a keeper with this one. i only wish i had discovered it sooner!

as for the impromptu rollerset, i am not really expecting much -- i just wanted to stretch out my hair. it would be nice if i woke up and was able to fluff out a curly fro, so we will see. as long as my hair is feeling this good tomorrow, i really don't care! *grin*

beauty fix: my top ten skincare products

i know i promised to come back a little sooner with my top 10 skincare products, but i've been kinda busy lately. the move to NC and the subsequent job search have had me a little stressed lately, but i have faith that things will fall into place. my skin has taken a beating, but i'm finally at a place in my life where i have a set regimen and i can troubleshoot skin problems, sort of like what i do when i'm having a bad hair day. some of these are relatively new to my regimen, but a few i have been using for a year plus now. they are ALL repurchases in my book. unfortunately, for every product i have tried and liked, there are three more that didn't work for me. needless to say, i've experimented a LOT! i've broken them down into three categories: cleanse, treat, and moisturize. this way, i can use different combinations of products depending on what i need....or how i'm feeling.


1. desert essence thoroughly clean face wash ($8, vitamin shoppe)

i first purchased this cleanser back in 2008, when i discovered the skin care boards on LHCF. it came highly recommended by user Divine Inspiration, and since i ate up pretty much everything she said at the time, i ran out and bought it. i stuck with it not only because it's 100% vegan and i am making an attempt to roll with a mostly natural/organic regimen, but because it WORKS for me. it dries up my blemishes without drying out my face, and it feels really invigorating. i used to use it on its own, but now i use it with my clarisonic and i still love it. what's more is you can get the 32 oz bottle for roughly the same price, if you buy online.

2. extra virgin olive oil (various prices, supermarkets)

the thing i love about this oil is its versatility. i've spoken about my hair's love affair with EVOO, and i was ecstatic when i learned about its benefits for the skin, too. i read a few threads on the oil cleansing method and was hooked -- i mean, getting rid of nearly every skin problem there is with something you can find in your kitchen (or in my case, the hair cabinet)? my main thing was just like most people's, getting over the fact that i assumed oil-free was the best way to go when dealing with oily skin, but i was wrong. since oil absorbs oil, it only makes sense that cleansing with oil would be so good for your skin. EVOO makes such a great base for OCM, and can readily be mixed with grapeseed oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, or whatever you wish. in addition to being a great cleanser, it is a superb makeup remover -- so good that i no longer buy commercial makeup removers. i tried almost everything to take off my stubborn eye makeup, but nothing does it like EVOO. i always keep a bottle in my bathroom.

3. clarisonic ($149-225, sephora)

i can truly say that this is the one tool that has taken my skincare to the next level. although i have not seen some of the almost miraculous results some users claim to see, i do love and frequently use my clarisonic plus. i purchased it on ebay since they had the best price on the plus, but honestly i could have done without all the extras, such as the included cleansers and the body brush. i am glad i got the three different face brushes though, because without them, i never would have known which i needed (the gentle blue brush). while it did not fade my hyperpigmentation or completely rid my face of blackheads/whiteheads, i see a major difference in my face when i go without using it for a few days. it can be used with so many different cleansers, and it really holds a charge. i routinely go for weeks on end without setting it on the charging dock, and it always works perfectly. i love the different timers on it, as well as the different speed settings. i hope i'm never without my clarisonic!


4. stridex daily care alcohol-free acne pads ($3, CVS/walgreens)

i picked up this tip from the lovely ladies at makeupalley. they are semi-gurus on skincare on the board there, and someone once put it so plainly that if you want an effective acne-fighting medication, it shouldn't be a wash, but something that stays on your skin. i like to use products that multitask, and since i like my moisturizer to not only be that, but also a sunscreen (or a fade cream if using it at night), i decided to add this third product to my regimen. i have been through two boxes now, and i really like them. they provide me with a steady dose of salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that works great as an anti-acne medication. (why do you think it's in so many products? it WORKS.) my skin is consistently clear, except for a few stubborn hormonal pimples that get through during that time of the month. even better is the price point on these pads....they are only $3 a box, and if you look inside the flap before you get to the register, you will find a $1 off coupon that drops the price even more.

5. aztec secret indian healing clay ($7, the vitamin shoppe)

this is another great multitasking product. i purchased it back in 2008 for use on my face, and hated it for the longest time -- it may have been because i was using retin-a micro at the time, so my skin was already super sensitive. i recently revisited it, mixing it with organic ACV this time instead of water, and i liked it a lot more. it really deep cleans, getting out what my other cleansers can't: blackheads and whatever gunk happens to be clogging my pores at the time. i love the tightening feeling it produces when drying, and try to use it at least once a month, although ideally i would use it once a week. what i mean by multitasking is that you can use it as a hair paste to clarify and make your curls pop; i did a blog entry on this back a few months ago. this one pound jar has lasted me forever.

6. makeup artists' choice 40% lactic acid peels ($17.75-48.75,

i purchased this at the end of 2009, hoping to find something to fade my acne scars. instead, i found a product that brightens and smooths my skin, making it look almost flawless. (now only if i could get rid of the marks, i'd have dream skin!) i used to rotate it weekly with glycolic acid peels, but they are also good alone. during weeks where i do strictly lactic peels, i do them about once every three days. they are really simple to do, and the savings are phenomenal when compared to how much they would cost at a spa or derm's office. i am currently out, but will repurchase this week -- enter code august2010 for 20% off your purchase! (ends 8/16/10)


7. grapeseed oil ($5, grocery stores) + lily of the desert aloe vera gelly ($8, the vitamin shoppe)

another great find from Divine Inspiration. i started using this once i heard that grapeseed oil contains vitamin e, and aloe vera is wonderful for healing purposes. as a recovering skin picker, i put this on to soothe my blemishes and scars, and it really does help to make them less noticeable (although unfortunately the marks never completely disappeared). i do not currently use this, but when i did use it, i loved it. i may return to it in the future.

8. eucerin everyday protection moisturizer with spf 30 ($10, walgreens and CVS)

i began using this when i was on retin-a, as i needed a soothing moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen. this moisturizer definitely handled that -- no matter how raw my skin was, it never irritated it, and the sunscreen kept my hyperpigmentation from getting darker. what's best is that this bottle lasted months! i continued to use it after i got off RAM, and as a matter of fact the only reason i stopped is because i am now using a fade cream with a built-in sunscreen. i would definitely return to this moisturizer in the future.
9. cold-pressed castor oil ($5 and up, whole foods and health stores)

i originally bought a bottle of regular drugstore castor oil for my hair, but at the time found it too heavy and greasy. (since then, i have started using it differently, and now i love it!) i also added this to my OCM mix, and found success with it like that. however, recently i have been using it as a moisturizer right after washing my face before bed. i now use the cold-pressed hexane free version from whole foods. it helps to absorb oil, and thus leaves my skin less oily. castor oil's benefits as an anti-acne treatment and as a scar treatment are also widely discussed (see here), and for that reason it has become a staple in my skincare regimen. i will soon switch to JBCO for my hair, and i may try that on my skin as well. if not, i will continue to purchase and use cold-pressed, hexane free castor oil.
10. nadinola extra strength fade cream ($5, drugstores and wal-mart)

i was highly skeptical for the longest time of using fade creams, despite the fact that my mom raved about what wonders they did for her skin when she was younger. i have heard a lot about hydroquinone and how dangerous it can be, but that was foolishly before doing my own research. from what i have determined, it is perfectly fine in small doses, and i do not plan on using it for more than three months anyway. from what i have seen in the three weeks that i have been using it, this fade cream is fading my hyperpigmentation faster than anything else i have tried. of course i took "before" pictures, and even my unofficial "after" photos show a marked difference in my skin. what's even more remarkable is that for the first two weeks i was using a jar that i have had sitting in a drawer for at least two years, so it wasn't even full strength. now that i am using a brand new jar, i am continuing to see results. i am hopeful that by my birthday, my marks will have largely disappeared. moral of the story? listen to mom next time!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

beauty fix: my top ten products

one of my new favorite blogs is tamerri zamaih's "astro fashionista", and i was inspired by a post she did a while back to list my favorite beauty products. i've done lists like this in the past, but i've changed lots of things i now have in heavy rotation since then, and i think i have finally gotten to a good spot not only in my makeup application, but also in my skincare regimen in general. this is the makeup list....i will probably do a skincare list later this week.

1. make up for ever HD foundation - 153/golden honey ($40, sephora)

i became intrigued by this foundation quite a while ago; in fact, i think i remember trying it out in early 2009, before i graduated and left charlottesville. at the time, i couldn't find a match, but i recently returned to sephora and tried again, this time finding a perfect match. prior to finding this, the ONLY makeup company that could match my undertones was MAC, and even with that i would have issues with the makeup feeling cakey, looking unnatural in pictures, or breaking me out really bad. this foundation does NONE of the provides great wear, feels light on my skin, and doesn't cause breakouts (for me, at least). it's a little more expensive than either MAC studio fix fluid or mineralize satinfinish, but it is worth it to me. the satinfinish always required two pumps, so i went through it rather quickly, and the SFF was heavy, almost like stage makeup. i can mix this with my eucerin moisturizer with spf 30 to make a tinted moisturizer, or i can just dab it on lightly, stipple it into my skin, and blend it effortlessly. i do want to try MUFE's mat velvet, as i have heard good things about its oil-controlling capabilities, but for now this is definitely my HG foundation.

2. make up for ever HD microfinish powder ($30, sephora)

this is the cherry on my proverbial sundae -- the HD foundation works well without this, but when applied on top of it, my skin GLOWS. of course i was thinking, like a lot of you, that putting a white powder on top of my foundation would make me look ashy. it most definitely doesn' i have heard it put frequently, it serves as a "soft focus" to minimize any flaws and even imperfections. i even use it on my bare face from time to time. i actually got this in a kit with some other HD products, as i didn't think i would need the larger one. i was right....since it requires so little for an entire face, this thing will last forever. side note: the other two products were the MUFE HD elixir and the MUFE HD primer. they are alright, but not "must haves" in my book.
3. MAC matte lipstick in honeylove ($14, MAC stores and counters)

i discovered this a few months ago, when i went into MAC to buy a new foundation. (she sold me mineralize satinfinish in NC42, which i returned for MUFE HD a few weeks later.) i asked for a nude lip recommendation, and the makeup artist gave me this to try. i immediately fell in love, and wear it quite often, considering the only other lippie i have and have actually kept up with is 2N. as a pinky nude color, i usually pair it with a bold eye.
4. MAC cremesheen glass in boy bait ($18, MAC stores and counters)

this is another item i picked up during my MAC haul. it goes great with the honeylove when i need more shine, but it also rocks on its own. it's described as a "light neutral beige with pearl", which i think is just code for NUDE. anyway, i use it as that...something to give my lips a gloss without all the glitter of other lipglosses i own.

5. MAC beauty powder blush in eversun (discontinued)

i have been using this blush for a while now, and even though it was re-released last summer as part of the style warrior collection, i had it before that...way back in 2008. in any event, i absolutely love this's a pinky brown that just makes my skintone really POP when i apply it. i love it so much that without it, i feel completely monotone and pale. i don't know what i will do when i run out of it.

6. MAC MSF natural/shimmer in medium dark ($26, MAC stores and counters)

although i have changed foundations over the years, this is one thing that stays the same. i love the way this makes my makeup less shiny, and i also love wearing it alone on days where i don't feel like being bothered by liquid makeup. much like the HD powder, it blurs my imperfections, so over a bare face i have a more even complexion.

7. dior diorshow iconic mascara ($27, sephora)

a few years ago, diorshow blackout became my favorite mascara. the tube is ultra luxe, and the applicator gave me the biggest, blackest lashes i had ever seen. i was super excited when they came out with iconic, but i didn't rush out to buy it since i was convinced i had my HG mascara. as time went on, i began to notice that it gave me a severe case of raccoon eyes, and as much as i loved the false eyelash look i had going on, i had to let it go. i tried a few more brands, like fresh firebird (which gave me big doe eyes), but tried the iconic on a recommendation from a sephora MUA when i said i wanted definition and length all in one. this mascara "lifts, curls and separates" according to the package, and it definitely delivers on that. i still get the blackest lashes, but it doesn't flake and removes easily with my olive oil-based makeup remover. some may swear by drugstore brands like great lash and lashblast, but this will forever be one of my top, if not THE top, mascaras.

8. MAC 187 ($42, MAC stores and counters)

great makeup is nothing without great application skills, and this brush makes applying my makeup so effortless. there are many dupes of this brush out there, and i feel as if that lets me know the original must be really great. i was first interested in this brush because i was told it's great at multitasking, and it is definitely one of my most-used brushes. i use it to stipple on my liquid foundation, use it again to blend, use it again for blush, then AGAIN for my MSF and get the idea. in fact, i love it so much i am considering getting another. tip: to save a few bucks, try scoring it from the CCO instead of the full-priced MAC counters.

9. essence of beauty makeup brushes (assorted prices, CVS)

while i have a pretty sizeable makeup brush collection, my MAC 187 is the only truly expensive one i own. i invested in a few EoB brushes a few years ago now, and they have held up really well over time. as a matter of fact, they actually shed less than the 187 and my loew-cornell brushes. they are easy to clean, i can beat the crap out of them since i don't have to worry about the cost of replacement (they are often BOGO 50% off), and they are durable. my favorites are the concealer brush, the dual-ended blush and powder brush, and the contouring eyeshadow brushes. the eyeshadow brushes are perfect for both packing on color and "cutting the crease" when i am using multiple shades. i am actually thinking about getting another powder brush, and if i don't get the ELF one (simply because it's only $1), it will be this one.

10. MAC Fix+ ($18, MAC stores and counters)

i have owned the same bottle of fix+ for about two years now, and i don't think i will have to get another until sometime in 2011. this is the ultimate in multipurpose tools, although at first glance it just looks like a fancy bottle of water. this stuff is great for wetting my brush before applying MSF on a bare face -- this helps it look more natural and blend into my skin better. i also use it to set my makeup, especially on really humid days. it can be used on a bare face before applying anything, as well. i have found that it is especially helpful on an eyeshadow brush, especially when i am applying not-so-pigmented shadows. fix+ has allowed me to purchase really inexpensive shadows and get better color payoff out of them: i simply pack the eyeshadow onto the brush, spray it, and apply to my lid. i really think this is one of the most underrated beauty tools out there.


i am now in the midst of compiling my list of top ten skincare products. most of them are relatively new to my regimen, but i am seeing the best skin i have had in a very long time, so needless to say they are keepers. the list will be up soon!

Monday, July 26, 2010

attitude adjustment

for some reason, i got a burst of re-motivation in my HHJ this past week. after i took down the sew-in i had wanted so badly, i took a few days and rocked strictly WNGs. my super-supportive boyfriend had missed my hair so much when it was a matter of fact, he was the one who (slowly and carefully, of course) took my tracks out! all i have been doing since then is cowashing with HE HH, detangling every few days, and maybe using a bit of aloe vera gel when i pull my hair back to keep my edges tame. even with this pretty simple regimen, i was wondering what else i could do to promote growth and be more low-manipulation.

here enters the castor oil: my same super supportive boyfriend just happened to mention an article he read about the benefits of castor oil on your hair and skin. he mentioned a bottle of cold pressed castor oil that he had purchased from whole foods a while back, and of course i was more than happy to rave about how i use it in my oil mixture to remove my makeup. when i returned to NC, we both started using castor oil on our faces before bed at night. i then decided that i would take the same EVOO/castor/coconut oil mix and use it on my ends to seal, which i have never really done consistently since beginning my natural journey. although my hair seems to grow well now, i presumed that maybe sealing in *that* much more moisture could help me retain even better.

in addition to sealing my ends, i came across kimmaytube's now famous leave-in conditioner video and decided to adapt it for my own use. i was intrigued by the idea of pH balance affecting moisture levels in the hair, and i figured if nothing else it would allow me to stretch my leave-ins by adding additional products to it. the only problem with cowashing and simply leaving in my HE HH is that by bedtime, my hair is not only dry from having airdried, but is also dry from all the moisture having left my strands. i figured that closing the cuticle, as kim says the acidic nature of her leave-in aids in doing, would help "trap" the moisture much like sealing or an ACV rinse. i went to whole foods to search for the whole leaf AV juice and kinky-curly knot today, but they were out of the KCKT. i then remembered i have some giovanni direct still on hand from 2008, and used that in its place. later, i was pleasantly surprised to discover that GD itself has a low pH. i have only been using it two days, but i really like how my hair feels at the end of the day. as a matter of fact, i was stunned this morning when i woke up (my hair conveniently twisted into two flat twists) and my hair was still soft and cool to the touch, what i have heard described as a marker of well-moisturized hair. i will use this for a while and track the changes in my hair -- but i already think i have a keeper here.

on top of sealing and this new leave-in, i have also incorporated (drumroll) WET BUNNING into my regimen. of course i know how to make a bun, and i love the stories i hear about consistent wet bunners who have crazy retention rates, but i can never stick with it long enough to see ANY kind of results, much less miraculous ones. i have challenged myself to a mini-bunning challenge, and my goal is to wear a bun everyday until september 1st. i may not necessarily cowash everyday either -- i'm thinking my hair will stay in this bun for at least 3 days, and to remoisturize i will simply remove the hair tie, spray water on my hair, add leave-in and re-bun.

hopefully, a month straight of incorporating these three changes will cause me to adjust the way i think about my hair in the summer. my goal is to have moisturized hair at all times, and thus promote an optimal environment for growth and retention. as a byproduct, i hope that keeping my ends saturated and hidden will keep the split ends at bay, and by the time i do my next length check in september, i will have ends nearly as healthy as (or just as healthy as) they were following my june trim. only 5 weeks to go!

weave update

after all that hoping and praying, i seriously underestimated the fact that 1) when i wear a protective style, i usually have to STRUGGLE to make myself keep it in even 6 weeks and 2) i haven't worn a weave since 2007. i feel like you already know what's coming next: i definitely took out those tracks! to be specific, i removed my sew-in after 4 weeks. the verdict is still out on the hair itself.....i mean, although i cowashed and detangled daily (more than i do to even my OWN hair), it was so matted and tangled at the end of those four weeks that even if i had wanted to go three months, i couldn't have. maybe if i do this again, i will bump up to AAMH.

although i didn't reach my goal of keeping it in for 3 months, it did help me get over that trimming setback from june, and for that i am happy. i am not sure how much growth i got, but the fact that i stayed consistent with my megatek and cowashing lets me know i probably got at least the 0.5" expected to grow within a month. my growth rate seems pretty much normal, and even if the megatek helped me get ANYTHING extra it will put me back on track to be BSL by new years. i'm not doing any official length checks until september, and now that my hair is loose i am trying to keep myself from doing any unofficial ones as well. luckily, i have a game plan that i will detail a little later.

Friday, June 18, 2010

back into hiding

after that whole setback thing, i was ready to just put my hair back up. it was kind of depressing thinking about what happened, and it was really hot outside anyway. i took a trip to north carolina to visit a friend, and while there, i went curly again. my friend told me a number of times how much he loved my curly hair, and that made me feel so great. (sidebar: his mom makes this really great blend of oils and butters for your hair and skin that he introduced me to....this stuff is GOLDEN!) when i got back, i decided to go ahead and get my bobraz installed. i sealed it and called around to find a weaveologist, and i quickly found someone talented (and budget friendly) to help me out. without going into too much detail, i'll just mention that she was unprofessional....but she did a great job on my hair, and that's the important thing. i got it put in on june 15, two days after my natural anniversary, and i plan on keeping it until sept 15 or so. to recap, it's only one pack, i did not split the wefts, and it is sealed with dritz fray check to minimize shedding.

here is the hair after i sealed it, but before i washed it:she used a zigzag braiding pattern, and i left out my perimeter:
i washed and dried it before she installed it, and since it had very little product in it, this stuff got HUGE!

after wetting it and adding cantu, it looked a little better:
overall, i'm happy with the finished product. i could have left out more perimeter, but it is is long though...almost to my waist when wet, and BSLish when dry. i am toying with cutting it, since it is a LOT of hair, but i haven't yet. i am also thinking about coloring it since my leaveout is still hanging onto that demi-permanent, but i am hoping that will fade to its natural color and match the bobraz by july. it may happen sooner, since i cowash every day just about, but we shall see.

setup for a comeback....right?

So basically....all my hard work over the past 6 months, all the hiding my hair, all of that ANTICIPATION went down the drain in a matter of minutes. At the time I was really upset, but the less I look at my length, the more content I am.

The first week of June, I went and got a Dominican blowout so I could have straight hair for my two-year natural anniversary, and it was beautiful. Every time I did my hair the previous week, I stretched it out just to make sure I was BSL, and I was -- wet and dry. I was so excited to take my progress pictures once it was all blown out. At the salon, once my hair was straight, I felt how long it was on my back and smiled. (As you guys may know, I have serious hair anorexia, and I was excited for it to FINALLY feel "long".) Then I made the ultimate mistake -- I got a trim. Apparently it didn't matter that I always take great care in getting the same girl to do my hair, because she is the one who did this to me. I asked for a trim, and she showed me what she was going to cut, as she ALWAYS does -- but she had to have moved her hand up higher once she got to the back where I couldn't see. They say hindsight is 20/20, and now I realize I got too comfortable with her and didn't watch what she was doing after that first cut OR look on the floor when she was done. I just got her to wrap it (since it was so humid, plus it was late and I wasn't going anywhere but home) and got up. I gave her a huge tip, on top of that. I just wanted it to stay straight for a bridal shower I was going to the next day, so I didn't unwrap it and discover what was going on until the next day. I felt so stupid (and bald), and all I wanted to do was wear it in a bun. As bad as I wanted to go back and curse her out, I couldn't. Number one, the damage is done, and number two, she barely speaks English. Number three, she'd deny it anyway. *sigh*

Anyway, my hair is back to the length it was at the end of last year -- not even close to BSL anymore. Just full APL, where I've been stuck for so long now. Here is where I was in March, almost BSB -- versus where I am now:

I'm going to have to abandon chasing MBL in 2010 and hope on a wish and a prayer I make BSL before December. I'm just at a loss between thinking about how she pulled the wool over my eyes and what I want to do in the future. All these shouldawouldacouldas -- I shoulda bought my own trimming shears, I couldn't because I know I would have been a perfectionist and cut too much of my OWN hair off, and what was the point since I had a seemingly "perfect" stylist? One thing's clear -- I'm never letting anyone trim my hair ever again.

Since then, I've washed my hair to curly again (let's be real, it was too hot in VA for straight hair anyway) and bought my own trimming shears. I take comfort in the fact that I won't need a trim now for a while, since I did kinda need one before. I'm trying to tell myself that my hair looks better, and the point IS health over length, but it sucks to be that close to a goal then lose it all. I'm just hoping that when this sew-in comes down, I've gotten at least close to where I was.

Monday, May 17, 2010

under wraps

i signed up for a membership on BHM waaaaayyyy back in june 2008, but for some reason it kept telling me that my membership had not been approved yet. FINALLY it's working, and i've been posting like a madman in the weaves/extensions section that i've been stalking for so long. like i said, i was toying with the idea of getting a kinky curly install for the summer months, so i can WNG as much as i want without wreaking havoc on my ends. i have been doing a lot of mystery shopping with EPMS this month, and i have a check for $320 coming in at the beginning of june!! i'm going to take this money to get some hair that will last and last, and that way, if all goes well, i can repeat this process next summer. being the product junkie that i am, i have an extensive list of other styles i want to try, and my "hairpics" folder on my laptop is brimming with pictures of cute styles i want to duplicate with some virgin remy hair -- wags NC, indian curly, wavy, kinky straight, maybe even virgin straight -- so i foresee a winter under a weave as well.

i was SO intent on getting some bohyme brazilian for this summer install, and all was going well until the other day, when i ran across a kinky curly thread on BHM and fell in love all over again with AAMH kinky curly. ediese had it back in 2009, and i love the way it looks -- i am just not sure about it since i heard some things about it shedding and shrinking up a lot. see, the thing about bobraz is they are really generous with the lengths, while AAMH seems to be the opposite, from what i have heard. then there was a thread on some vendor who turned out to be a BHM member, and all this unnecessary drama came out of it (so glad i'm a newbie and didn't care)....which basically led to me looking for a CV (Chinese vendor) to get my hair. The plus about CVs seems to be that they can duplicate any kind of hair you want, and it's way cheaper -- i'm taking about $100-ish for 8oz of KC as opposed to AAMH, which charges that amount for 4oz of hair. i did find a site that has bobraz on sale for less than $60, and i am notoriously bad with decisions. i may just get that since it's what i've been lusting after for so long....i seriously don't know why this is so hard!! in any event, i need it soon, since i am taking these twists out in about 2 or 3 weeks and getting a blowout for my two-year. that means by june 24th i need to make a final decision on not only the hair i get, but also who i'm going to get to put it in. i found a few ladies on craigslist who are very inexpensive, but i need more photos of their work and a consultation before i decide for sure who i'm going to give my hard-earned money to. it's going to be interesting to get used to having tracks in my head again, especially since i was so hair-ignorant the last time i had a sew-in. here's to great growth!

megatek....the sequel

i reinstalled my senegalese twists on the 3rd of this month....long story short with the sew-in, the hair tangled so badly and it was so damn HEAVY that i snatched it out after two days! well, i guess that's not technically right....i installed 4oz on a sunday, put in the rest of it (3 more oz) that thursday, and took it out the next sunday. i'm in a comfort zone with my senegalese twists, and although they aren't the best looking set i've had, they only took 6 hours and don't feel like my neck is breaking. i just bun them and moisturize maybe once a week.

so i have a hair growing buddy on LHCF, nakialovesshoes. we realized maybe about a month or two ago that our goals are similar (BSL by june, MBL by october) and so we are going it together...well, as together as two people can over the internet. we check in with one another, encourage each other, and share advice. the other day, she approached me with this great idea to have another HYH challenge. you guys may know that i'm doing a personal one right now, and it runs from january 1st of this year to june 13th, my two-year BC anniversary. i was really looking forward to not having to hide my hair anymore, since i really want to ENJOY my BSL, but then i thought about two things: one, i was kinda gonna hide it this summer anyway, since i'm planning on getting a sew-in so i can WNG with no problems, and two, it will help me speed my way to MBL, since it will be MUCH more fun to flaunt that length. this one will run from june 24 - sept 24, and if i complete it, that will make almost 8 or 9 months this year that my hair will have been out of sight, out of mind. it doesn't feel like it, which is the good thing. the other part of the challenge is using a growth aid, which will naturally be megatek. i feel kind of bad since i was so excited about it back in 2008 and it's been sitting in my closet for two years now, but i think it is still okay to use. tonight i got my sister to apply it to my scalp, and to try to avoid that scary shedding that i got with it last time, i will just be using it twice a week, on the days that i moisturize. i have no measurements to track my growth, but i did tighten a few braids and hopefully i can gauge my growth using those. i don't do too much experimentation with my hair these days, but i sure do hope i get the growth i got back in 2008 from an equine product....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

back to black (-ish)

the tracks that i bought for my sew-in ended up being wayyy too dark for my head. i always get a #4 since no one can match my hair color (or skin color, but that's another post) and this time i decided to just dye my hair dark brown so that my leaveout matches. well it came out great....except the color is a *bit* dark. hopefully it will just lighten with a few washes.

in any event, my crazy cousin has been MIA for the past few days, so i didn't get to install my sew-in on tuesday like i had hoped. my mom told me she will try to cornrow my hair today, so hopefully all goes well. the other day i cowashed my hair for a date and decided to rock a puff. i don't know whether it was the garnier, the noodle head, or the hair color....but my ends did this weird clumpy thing that i really liked. instead of being a whole bunch of frizzy-ish curls, they came together in a few well defined coils. i need to find out what caused this, because i like it!

as of now, i am deep conditioning with a new product i picked up -- a fortifying deep conditioner by garnier. it was very creamy, which kind of made up for the fact that the tube is so small. instead of getting one use out of it, i may be able to get two whole! (can you sense the sarcasm?) next i'll rinse out and probably go ahead and pull out my perimeter in order to make it a bit easier for my mom....because i know the whole concept of doing that will just confuse her. she acts so hair illiterate that i can't help but laugh and shake my head. ah well, this way i can make sure it looks the way i want it. wish me luck!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

my next protective style

i was sitting up late the other night for no reason, and had an epiphany: i think i'm ready to tackle weaves again. i spent forever agonizing over whether i was gonna go for curly or straight, then i remembered the massive bohyme brazilian thread on BHM. i had always wanted to try that hair, and now that it's getting warm and i'm in the cowash challenge, i figured this hair will let me cowash and experiment with curly styles to my heart's content. i will be able to bun, twistout, braidout, wet bun, and everything else i wanna do, making sure my hair underneath gets the most moisture but without sacrificing retention.

i found the hair on for the best price, and i have heard from people on BHM that it's actually authentic bohyme for those prices. they have the 12" for 71.99 and the 14" for 79.99, so i think i will go with the 14". i went to a local bss to look at the colors since they say bohyme runs a little lighter than other brands, and i didn't want to buy the wrong color online and be screwed. i *think* i'll get the's pretty light, and the 4 may be too light.

the only thing i have to decide now is whether i will get my cousin to braid me up like she did before i installed my crochet braids and sew it in myself, or if i will pay someone to do it. i don't really trust other people with my hair, but i figure it won't be bad, as long as i don't let her braid too tight. i have a bit of time to decide, since i won't be doing anything until i get my tax return. for now, it's back to reading that huge thread -- only 140 pages till i'm done!

who woulda thought?

so i bought this container of indian healing clay for my face a while back, when i was on retin-a micro, because i had heard good things about its deep cleaning abilities. long story short, i like my queen helene mint julep mask much better -- i still get that deep cleaning feeling without my face feeling raw. i found a thread on lhcf where a girl had used her bentonite clay on her hair, and of course i was interested -- clean hair without shampoo AND curl definition is right up my alley! i decided to give it a whirl today, since i was ready to wash my hair after almost 3 weeks of wearing it straight. here's what i did:

*prepooed overnight with coconut/olive/castor oil*bentonite clay treatment (added warm water to clay till it was a little thicker than pudding; left in for 20 min)
*cowashed with HE hello hydration
*added a bit of VO5 strawberries and creme, then the last of my MJ baby buttercreme and some curly pudding mixed with aloe vera gel

i must admit, at first i was kind of scared when i was under the showerhead (with my new filter) and my hair felt really dry....then i rinsed it all out and got rid of that residue. things immediately got better right before i added my HH; my hair felt really clean but wasn't tangled like it is when i shampoo it. i then added my conditioner, put my hair in one big twist, and let it sit for about 5 min while i showered. i couldn't stop smiling once i removed the t-shirt from my hair and saw all those curls that i've been hiding for so long!! my hair is sitting right on my shoulders, which means i am finally almost SL unstretched. APL unstretched is gonna be a beast if i ever get there, that's for sure!

here's how i wore my hair today. tonight i will put it in two french braids, and tomorrow i will spray it with conditioner and water in the AM and bun.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

me vs the avocado

the other day, i bought an avocado and decided to try to make a natural hair mask with it using a recipe i found on LHCF. the recipe called for one avocado, a bit of honey, and some water, but i decided to add some melted shea butter and a little coconut and olive oil to it as well. long story short, i think i'll stick to avocado butter and oil -- i wasn't able to get it down to a guacamole-like consistency and ended up with chunks of avocado stuck in my hair. let's not even get started on the smell -- i smelled avocado for about 12 hours after i rinsed!! speaking of which, after i rinsed, i added some oils (coconut, olive and castor) to my hair as a pre-poo before hitting the dominican salon that afternoon. the guy at the shampoo bowl had a pretty funny reaction; he just kept talking about all the oil in my hair and ended up shampooing it about three times trying to get it all out. i was a little peeved (although it may just have been him in general) but didn't let it bother me. it WAS kind of funny when he pleaded with me "no mucho oy-jul", trying to say i had too much oil in my hair. all i did was smirk and say ok -- i'll definitely keep pre-pooing, because Lord knows all that oil in my hair is what kept it from going down the sink with all those sulfates he put in it!

march 9th blowout

i removed my crochet braids this past tuesday and rewarded myself for keeping my hair under wraps so long by getting a dominican blowout. it went great (minus the guy wandering around the shop who ended up washing my hair and soaking me when he dropped the hose), and i got to ask my girl her opinion about the lacio lacio that my friend gave me. she used baba de caracol on my hair, and when i asked her where i could get that, she told me lacio was good, so i was alright with what i already have. she didn't ask if i wanted a trim, which i found unusual, and i didn't check my ends till i got now i have a serious dilemma. my sister measured for me, and while i am kinda scraping BSB (almost, anyway....definitely a half an inch or less) i have an inch till i am full BSL -- basically, the top of the yellow shirt is what i will consider BSL and the bottom of my bra, since i wear them low, will be my MBL. i can definitely get an inch before my 2 year curly kinkyversary in june, but i need to take off about an inch to fix the "situation" i have going on with my ends. i'm now stuck figuring out whether i'll trim, since i won't be wearing my hair straight again for at least 3 months but want to avoid it getting any worse. more than likely, what i'll end up doing is either going back to get that trim or buying some shears and learning how to search and destroy. i'm happy with my growth since this is officially theeeee longest my hair has ever been, but i am severely hair anorexic -- i never understood that till it happened to me. i'm pretty sure that what it is is my hair growing so slowly as opposed to the drastic change in length that comes with a wig or sew-in, so i don't notice that my hair is longer until i do something like get it straightened and suddenly feel it on my back, or see a picture. even with the pictures, i feel kinda jaded by the length, until i see someone with shorter hair and think "wow, her hair is really long" and realize my hair's longer. i also believe it has something to do with the fact that it's not uberthick like my sister's, so i feel like i have to have ridiculously long -- as in WL or longer -- hair in order to overcome the thickness thing. ah well, at least for once i feel like WL is in my reach, something i NEVER thought possible before two years ago. i'm so excited to see what this summer will bring!
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

i've decided...

i was up this morning doing some thinking about my hair...for no reason, really, but i was. i'm currently reading through the MBL 2010 thread on LHCF (a challenge that i officially joined this morning) and i realized something: i am probably about a year away from realizing a hair goal that i never, EVER thought possible. heck, i'm already the proud owner of a beautiful head of strands longer and healthier than they have ever been in my life. this made me realize that while i am still aiming for certain goals (BSL by june 13, MBL by my birthday on october 13, WL by 6/13/2011), i should enjoy every second of this journey. translation: i will NOT be forcing myself to do something that i don't want to do for the sake of reaching a goal that frankly, i have the rest of my life to get to. that is one thing i never understood about people who bun consistently or something like that and get sick of it, but keep going just to reach some silly length goal: i want to always be HAPPY with my hair! my hair has been hidden for almost three straight months, and i have no idea where i am in terms of reaching my BSL goal. i don't think i have ever gone this long without knowing how my hair looks, and i simply can't take the suspense anymore...i want to do a length check.

thus, when these crochet braids come out (i am 2.5 weeks in, so i will take them out on tuesday, march 9, making them exactly 3 weeks old) i will be getting a dominican blowout and making a length check tee so i can do some update photos. that will put me at the halfway point of my 6 month HYH challenge. i won't consider this failing my challenge...hell, it's a personal challenge...and after i wash out that blowout, i will go right back to hiding my hair until i hit two years natural. this will let me enjoy my hair for just enough time to get sick of it again, and also satisfy my need to see where i am with my progress. i mean, there are plenty of times i have wanted to straighten my hair and was either too broke to do it or too afraid of a setback, but now i not only am making money from a passion of mine, but i also have a favorite hairstylist who herself is the owner of a lush mane of hair. i'm so excited...all this talk about not being happy though....i am itching to take these braids out so i can cowash, but THAT i won't do. yet, anyway!

Monday, March 1, 2010

my sister's trip to the salon

my sister took out her kinky twists on february 25th. they lasted about 6 weeks, which is typical for her. she had about an inch of new growth when they came out...this is what they looked like the day i installed them.
she actually asked me if she could wear her hair out for a few days before getting it braided back up, and i was SHOCKED! this is coming from my sister, who is deathly allergic to heat on her hair, as you may recall. in fact, her hair has only been straightened ONCE since she's been natural, and that was right around new years before this last set of kinky twists was installed. i guess she liked it so much (or got so many compliments, haha) that she wanted it done again. however, i didn't really feel like straightening her hair since i'm not so good at getting my own straight, and hers is wayyyy thicker than i told her as a reward for doing so well in school last semester, i would pay for her to go to the dominican salon and get a blowout. of course she shuddered when she heard this, having heard my mother and i talk about that hot blow dryer, but i reminded her that that was all before i discovered "my new girl" (i really, REALLY have to learn her name) and i reassured her she would leave with her hair swinging and her scalp intact. on thursday the 25th, i took her after school (with deep conditioner already in her hair) for what would promise to be an interesting afternoon.

after driving all the way to the larger salon 30 minutes from here, i was told that my favorite girl was actually at the salon 10 minutes from my house. all i could do was laugh, since that's pretty much how i expected my luck to play out. we hopped back in the car and got there just in time -- there were only 2 customers, and it was AFTER my sister sat down that everyone rushed into the salon after work. there were only two people working there, a light skinned larger girl with WL straightish hair, and my girl, who has BSL jet black hair with red highlights. the light skinned girl took one look at my sister's hair and added $20 to the price of a standard blowout. i wasn't shocked for some reason (maybe because mine is $10 more, supposedly because i am natural), so i just shook my head and agreed to it. she started talking to the other girl, whom i have noticed doesn't speak much english, and led my sister to the shampoo bowl. she picked up a small toothed comb while i watched in horror -- and then my girl came over with a large shower-sized bone comb and pushed the other girl out of the way. see, this is why she is my favorite!! she washed my sister's hair, gently detangling it, then sat her in the chair to get prepped for the dryer. the light skinned girl reached for the magnetic rollers, and i perked up to see how this was going to go, since i couldn't imagine rollers getting my sister's hair anything near straight. i was right, though -- my girl came over and again pushed the other stylist out of the way, and instead put my sister's hair in about 20 bantu knots before sitting her under the dryer. pleased, i made small talk with my mom, who had arrived by then to get her own blowout. the flat iron job i had done earlier in the week turned out less than stellar, to say the least, and she just couldn't let my sister get her hair done without seeing it with her own eyes! while my sister was under the dryer, both stylists started talking about my hair before asking me if it was a weave. i told them no, and parted my hair to show them the cornrows under my crochet braids. i heard them both say "ahhh", then felt two pairs of hands in my head! all i could do was laugh while they checked out my handiwork, almost in disbelief that i had done it myself. the light skinned one then asked if i do hair, and i simply said yes. =) she asked my advice on getting two strand twists, and we talked a bit about the type of hair in my head before my mom and sister's time was up under the dryer.

while my sister was under the dryer, in came a woman and her daughter to get blowouts of their own. i would estimate that the girl was maybe 12 or so, and i couldn't keep my eyes off of her...not because i couldn't believe she was so young and looked so used to getting her hair done, but because she had the most BEAUTIFUL hair! her WL/TL hair (my estimation anyway) was pulled up into a ponytail that hung to her waist, and it was in a bouncy braidout. it was right then and there that i decided that i wanted a ponytail just like that one. i have always pretty much thought of hair that length as stereotypically boring and just plain TOO MUCH, but it looked really great on her and not boring at all. i mean, just thinking of the beautiful spiral curls that would have resulted from her rollerset almost had me drooling! i tried hard not to stare, but i couldn't resist taking a picture. i wish i could have been there to see the outcome!

after getting up, my sister was led to the chair...and my mom and i both watched intently as my girl pulled out the blow dryer. we were right in the sense that my sister made THEE most hilarious faces at first, but she seemed to hold it together as my mom and i took bets as to whether she would ever return. after getting her hair blown out, it was flat ironed for extra sleekness. i was so glad i had brought my huge bottle of chi silk infusion, since this was more heat than she had probably ever had on her hair, natural or relaxed! they then gave her a small trim (my girl's other specialty) and wrapped it. she left grinning like a cheshire cat, letting me know that even though it was a bit painful at first, she thought her hair looked great. i feel like although she will still be conscious of what she is letting happen to her hair, she's no longer afraid of heat...occasionally, anyway.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


in the past week or so, i posted an ad on craigslist to start braiding hair as a side hustle. i haven't necessarily given up on mystery shopping, but this is something i can do to get paid THAT DAY, which is a drawback of my other side hustle. i charge between $75 and $100 (although it's so time consuming, i may just move to $100 soon) for kinky twists, senegalese twists, box braids, crochet braids, and yarn braids, and $35-50 for two strand twists, straw sets and the like. it's going pretty well, as i have had 3 clients who have wanted kinky twists or senegalese twists, and hopefully i will have more business next week.

anyway, my client yesterday wanted senegalese twists, and all she told me was that she is natural. i ask her if she has any favorite moisturizers (sort of an over-the-phone consultation before she got here), and she tells me no, but she doesn't use grease in her hair. as soon as she said this, a bell went off in my head....she must know about nikos! i kind of hinted at it once she got here, but she just kept mentioning youtube. eventually i came out and asked her if she was a member of lhcf...and she told me no, but some of her youtube browsing takes her there. the whole time i was twisting her hair, we talked moisturizers, sealing, hair goals (i even showed her pics of my natural hair, curly and straight, since i am in crochet braids and she couldn't see my hair) and more. it turns out she is a pj just like me, but her thing is buying essential oils and butters online. i almost started drooling when we got on the topic of skin care/fitness and she told me about the huge block of black soap she had purchased and all of her uses for it...she learned on youtube how to make it into liquid soap, adding glycerin, honey and all my other favorite DC additives to it. you guys may know by now about my struggles with sulfate shampoos and how they dry out and tangle my hair to the MAX, so when she mentioned she uses this as shampoo, i had to stop and look at her! then she offered to bring me some so i could try it, and i wanted to kiss this child!!

we ran out of hair last night, so she came back this morning to get the twists at her crown finished. not only did she bring me black soap, but she also brought me small containers of mango and avocado butter! y'all know how i am about playing in my hair, so i am realllly fighting to keep these crochet braids in...i just wanna wash my hair and...i don't even know, i just wanna seal it with one of these butters! LMAO...i feel like a fiend who got a fix...but i will let you guys know (of course) when i use them.