I have been struggling with my hair lately. I had gone for a trim earlier in the summer to get rid of this really wonky looking curly rat-tail that has migrated from the base of my skull down to the nape of my neck. This was not business in the front and party in the back. It was just yuck and it had to go. So, my stylist snipped a little here, snipped a little there and it came out really well.
It was kind of a tapered bob that I thought I could maintain. Key word: thought. See, with curly hair, there are different schools of thought on how it should be cut. Should it be cut wet? You’d think so, but then you’ll be in for a surprise when it dries and shrinks up. Should it be cut dry? You’d think so, but you even dry, the amount of shrinkage from root to shaft varies from day to day. Some days, my hair looks longer than other, because some days I air dry and some days I diffuse dry. It’s a crap shoot.
After a couple of weeks, my head began to look as though the rat tail just slid over about 3 inches to the right. I started wearing a bun and a visor, 24/7. I was worried about shedding and breakage and low porosity and high porosity; it’s a wonder I didn’t worry myself into looking like Mr. Clean.
Truth be told, I started to entertain the idea that I would just big chop my hair one more time. If this rat tail was determined to assert itself, I was just going to have to assert myself more. I’m cool with a tabla rasa ‘do. It’s just hair and it’ll grow back. Yo Lee, one of my guest bloggers from earlier in the month, did a Big Chop and wears her hair extremely close. She looks phenomenal. My friend Denise, whom you met when she guest blogged on Monday of this week just did a Big Chop and it’s flawless.
I’ve had my phone in my hand, with my thumb hovering over my stylists number, all week.
Before I go ahead and lop it off, though, I decided to give my hair one more try. I am a part of several boards on FaceBook devoted to natural hair. I’m constantly on Pinterest looking for tips and tricks, as well as other sites such as CurlyNikki.com, BlackGirlLongHair.com, KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com and a whole host of others. There is so much information out there. I had to find some products that I could easily find, easily apply, and easily tame the wonky curl pattern at the back of my head. Not only that, these products had to work for me, and Snap, Crackle and Pop. That’s not too much to ask for, right?
Behold the products that are currently in our arsenal.
- Spray Bottles
- Organix Moroccan Argan oil infused shampoo, conditioner, and renewing treatment
- Almond oil,
- Coconut Oil
- Jamaican Castor Oil
- Vitamin E Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo
- Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave In Conditioner
- Jane Carter Solution Twist Out Foam
- Tresemme Naturals Sulfate Free Conditioner
- Aloe Vera Juice
- Distilled Water
- Vegetable Glycerin
- Garnier Fructis Frizz Free Serum
- Deva Curl Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser
- Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
- As I Am Coconut Co-Wash, Leave In Conditioner, Curl Jelly, and Curl Defining Butter Cream
- Not pictured: assorted wide tooth combs and detanglers and four different sets of rollers (perm rods, flexi rods, curl formers and plastic rollers)
It’s kind of ridiculous now that I look at it.
In my defense, though, I do have four heads of hair to do at least once a week. I’m very conscious of how often we’re moisturizing, how often we go to get our ends clipped, and how much water we drink in order to hydrate our curls from the inside out. I limit the amount of heat I put on our hair. I’m doing every step I can think of to keep shedding down, curls elongated and the tangles at bay.
Well, that’s not entirely true — I do skip the hot oil treatment only because I can’t find 20 minutes to do the treatment properly. I know, that’s a weak excuse, and just my luck, my lack of follow-through is probably why the rat tail blossomed in the first place. I suppose if I have time to fit a Chipotle run into my schedule, I can carve out the time to treat my scalp, too.
Anyway, my research on the internet has provided some interesting results. There were a few weeks when I was trying to counter, if not prevent, the damage daily swim practice was wreaking on the girls’ hair. I found a website that offered 5 different hydrating moisturizing mists that you could make yourself. I went to Whole Foods and bought Vitamin E oil, raw honey, vegetable glycerin, lavender oil, aloe vera juice and brought it all home. The kitchen looked like a mad scientists lab crossed with the Chopped Kitchen.
We started with a sweet honey moisturizing mist. Basically, take distilled water, coconut oil, viatmin E oil, raw honey and lavender oil. Put it in a spray bottle, shake and apply.
From the website, “Honey is extremely versatile in its uses and works well in your natural hair. Honey is a humectant and will help your hair to attract and retain moisture and prevent frizz. Coconut oil is a moisturizing oil that will penetrate your follicles and add moisture from the inside out. Lavender adds a nice fragrance to the oil and also helps soften your natural hair.”
This combo did all of those things, but it also made the girls’ hair sticky, despite my adherence to the proper quantities of each ingredient. You know that saying, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar”? I now know exactly how many flies you get.
We scrapped that one after two weeks and tried and aloe and lavender moisturizing mist, which again included several oils and aloe vera juice instead of water.
From the website, “This simple yet phenomenal spray will not only help moisturize your natural hair but will also help soften dry strands. Aloe Vera and lavender oil help strengthen your hair strands while coconut oil adds moisture to dull hair. You could also use apricot or olive as an alternative to coconut oil.”
This one worked pretty well, but I think I may have misread which oils to include because I could have sworn it said you could substitute sesame oil for coconut, almond, or apricot.
Which I did.
To which M said, “Mom, I smell like Chinese Food.”
Time to step away from the computer and the wealth of information.
That was about two weeks ago. We’ve been using leave in conditioner to help keep our hair moisturized while we were at the beach. It worked, but it also saved every single grain of sand onto the girls’ scalps. We’re back to two strand twists for them until next week when they get their Back to School bi-annual hair cuts. I’ve been trying to come up with the best way to style their hair (and mine) that won’t leave them (or me) in tears. So, back to the boards I go.
I had read on another board that their Coconut Co-wash is extremely good and ended up ordering some, along with their Curl Defining Butter Cream in order to do the two strand twists (I know, it’s time for a product intervention). Shortly after I placed the order, a friend of mine posted how she recently tried As I Am products, and was throwing away all of her other products because the results were amazing.
I was intrigued to say the least and when my package came in the mail, I decided to try her methods and chronicle my results.
I started with a product laden, sweated out wash and go (top left). I finger detangled last night with some Jamaican Castor oil and just bunned up the sections. In the morning, I went to the gym sporting pig tails. When I came home, I took my hair down to finger detangle before I jumped into the shower (top right). I used the As I Am Coconut Co-Wash and the Leave In Conditioner, per the directions on the labels. In the shower, I detangled with my fingers and with my wide tooth comb. I did have some shedding, but no more or less than usual. Then using the Miss Jessie’s shingling technique (which I’ve never done before), I put in the Curling Jelly (bottom left).
I sat under the dryer with the heat on low for 30 minutes (bottom middle). Then I fluffed it out with some Jamaican Castor oil on my palms to help reduce frizz (bottom right). Including the time under the dryer and assorted maintenance in the shower, this took me about an hour, maybe an hour and 15 minutes. That’s typical for a wash day.
In my opinion, my hair has some massive shrinkage, but the curls are well defined. If I do this again, or if I do it on Snap, Crackle and Pop, I will reduce or eliminate the time under the dryer. Or maybe I’ll just hit the roots with the diffuser. There are still lots of options. My hair feels just a touch crunchy, but nothing that’s overwhelming.
Tonight will be the true test of the success of this method when I put the satin bonnet on and go to sleep. I’m not sure if I should pineapple it, bun it, or leave it. Decisions, decisions. In the morning, I plan to spray with distilled water and fluff out.
I’ll keep you posted, hopefully with better pictures (i can’t get the hang of selfies at all).
Happy Friday, y’all!