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Transitioning: What I’m Learning…AGAIN

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After one full transition to natural hair that lasted all of 6 months, and a few other false starts over the years, I’m finally in the right mindset to transition to natural hair for the long haul. Here are some things I’ve learned:

Transition for the Reason You’re Truly Willing to Fight For

20180929_110415For me, that is my daughter. At two years old, she told me that she didn’t like her hair and that she wanted her hair to be like mine (relaxed at the time), and Ellie’s (a little blond girl in her class with thick long hair that rivals Elsa’s). At that moment, the decision to transition solidified for me. I was determined to show her the beauty of her kinky hair. As I mentioned, I had some false starts (tried to transition twice but gave up), but one year after she said this I started wearing my faux puff almost full time. Now she’s 4 years old, and I’m 10 months into my transition, and she hasn’t expressed the least bit of hate for her hair. Quite the opposite. She’s expressed great love and joy for her hair and mine.

 

 

Transitioning with 4c Hair is EXTRA Hard

20180423_073005My hairstyle changed literally every month because what worked in months 3 and 4, didn’t work in month 5. Or 6. Or 7! I mostly played with flexi rods in the beginning (see photo to left). But that quickly stopped working as my mini-fro grew bigger underneath the straight ends. I gave up the flexi rods when my 6-year-old son got home, gave me a hug, and said, “Mommy! Your hair looks…interesting.” This is from the boy who thinks my wet transitioning hair is “beautiful.”

The perm rod sets are tighter (see photo in next section), so they blend better with my two textures, and now that I always use the LOC method BEFORE blow drying (bonus tip!), and use a cream AND setting lotion to roll my hair (extra bonus!), they stay moisturized for 3 days, and the curls last longer too.

Find What Works for YOU

Photo on 10-1-18 at 7.36 AMNo heat doesn’t work for me. I saw it when I was natural the first time around in how my relaxed hair was practically nonexistent only one year into that transition. This time, I’m 10 months in, and with the help of weekly washing, deep conditioning, tension method blow-drying and quick perm-rod sets (22 rollers max), detangling and wash days are only 60-75 minutes longer than when I was relaxed. My strands are fine, but I have SUPER thick hair, so I’m not that worried about losing some of it. I’ve actually retained more length this time around, and my hair is longer than it was when I first started transitioning. The photo in this section is from yesterday!

Silicone-free living is also not my friend. At 10 months post, Aussie Moist’s 3 Minute Miracle has been my hair-savior. I tried several other conditioners that left me in tears on every wash day until I stumbled upon this little secret. And it works for my daughter’s hair too!

I Only Need TWO Go-To Styles

I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I’m conservative when it comes to my hair. My hair won’t fit into the faux puff anymore, so my go-to styles are a perm rod set pushed back into a curly puff (seen in previous photo) or a bun. I use gel once a week to slick it back, and embrace the fluff for the rest of the week. Sometimes I’ll reset the curls mid-week, and other times I’ll wrestle it into a bun. But I love these styles and I always feel good in them. And no matter what the occasion I will use only these two styles with the occasional headband or hair accessories thrown in for special events. My perm rod set might evolve into a twist out as my hair gets longer, and I’ll probably straighten it twice a year. I also want subtle highlights, but that’s me in a nutshell. Less is more. I keep it simple.

Summer Styling

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20180701_114711Summer is just different for my natural 4c hair. I’m not fooling myself into believing that I can manage it regularly with all of the vacations and weekend outings we enjoy. So I will twist my hair with extensions EVERY summer. Either myself or a braider will do it. Individual twists are easy and versatile. They only took me 3 hours to install on my first try (see photo), and I can wear them in so many ways, depending on my mood. Most of all, they are water-friendly! With two kids learning to swim and living in Florida so close to the beach, I have to give myself a break some time.

Come to Terms with Your Growth Potential

Screenshot_20180915-183500_InstagramI used to drool over my favorite natural hair guru’s and believed that if I couldn’t reach their lengths, then I would never be happy with my natural hair and I would relax it immediately. But now I know that’s not true. I do still want Jessika Collins, AShotofJen, and Kaydee_TV long hair…but I may never get there. And that’s fine. Truly. I will continue to admire their manes on YouTube and Instagram, and work toward those length goals on a 5-year plan. If I get there, great! If at the end of 5 years it hasn’t happened, that’s fine too. I am finally comfortable with myself and my hair, and I hope that this story helps someone else feel comfortable too.

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Relaxer Day and Personal Health

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Hello! I decided to relax a few weeks early at 13 weeks. My hair was feeling very dry and fragile no matter how much moisture or protein I put into it. Rather than continuing to rip out my hair, I decided to go ahead and process. I’m thinking that may have had to do with the braid-outs, and I may have to find a different style for my hair when I hit 12 weeks post to see if I can make it to 16 weeks. Since I had a trim during my last relaxer, I decided not to do another one. My stylist tried to relax my under-processed ends again, but that was a fail! After she applied the relaxer to my roots, she applied it to my ends and asked if I was willing to wait another 6 minutes to allow the relaxer to process. SIX MINUTES?! Ack! I just told her that I don’t need my hair completely straight; just straight enough to easily detangle and straighten when I want to. I still think it’s a little too straight, which is enough reason to try and push for that 15-16 week mark. I notice that the longer I wait to relax, the more difficult it is for a relaxer to completely straighten it. I also chose not to get a trim on this relaxer day. I like to get a trim every other relaxer.

20160516_080008One thing I’m happy to report is that I can already see quite a bit of length since February! I think I have to contribute it to my water intake and green smoothies. I try to drink 64-70 ounces per day, and I try to have a spinach, apple, banana, almond, yogurt, and water smoothie at least five days out of the week. I haven’t gotten back to exercising regularly yet, but my coworkers and I started a legs challenge: squats and toe raises every hour on the hour. We’re starting at just 5 squats and 10 toe raises per hour (40 squats per day) and we’re going to work our way up. I did an extra 10 squats and 20 toe raises this morning, and I’ll do that set again when I get home, plus 80 crunches. Eventually I’ll work in a couple of cardio days, but one step at a time!

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Back to my hair. Normally after a relaxer I moisturize and oil my hair daily, but I’ve decided on a different route in the interest of making my professionally straightened hair last longer. So far in the past few days, I’ve put Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Morrocan Sleek Oil Treatment in my hair 2-4 times a day (four times on the weekend, and morning and night during the week). At night, I apply a small amount of my argan, tea tree, and lavender oil mix on my ends and wrap my hair. It still felt quite dry after the first three days, but I figured I would give my scalp’s natural oils a chance to do their work. Surprisingly they did. On the fourth day my hair felt soft, moisturized, and not too oily or weighed down.

All in all, you can definitely see the hair growth from February to May. I’m hoping this will mean I’ll be back to my longest length by this time next year and I can reach toward my ultimate goal of BSL hair!

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February 16, 2016 – May 13, 2016

Hair Update: 11 Weeks Post Relaxer

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Hello! I’m finally back with a hair update. It really is tough to find time to post these days between the kids, work, and life in general, but I’m glad to be back! And of course this is going to be quite a hefty update with pics included.

I have to admit that the relaxed hair is really working out well for me. To me, it’s the best of both worlds. I have some versatility in styling (especially after 8 weeks post), and styling takes less time. No more are my weekends filled with 1/2 hour long detangling sessions. Now I just quickly finger detangle, wash, deep condition, blow dry on cold (more on that later), and style. Lately because of my kinky natural roots I’m in braid-outs. Here is the run-down on what I’ve been doing to establish a routine.

Post Relaxer Routine

Weeks 1 – 6:

  • Daily: Moisturize and seal, pull into a high loose ponytail at night, tie on satin scarf, remove ponytail holder, and put on bonnet, being careful not to disturb the ends. Comb down in the morning.
  • Weekly: finger detangle, wash, deep condition, air dry weeks 1-2, blow dry on cold after (heat on ends because they aren’t really relaxed), and style. I alternate between flat ironing (wearing in a ponytail most of the time to protect the ends like in picture 1), or bantu knot-outs pulled back with straightened bangs (like in picture 2).

Weeks 7 – 11

  • Daily: Moisturize and seal, tie up edges with satin scarf, and put on bonnet, being careful not to disturb the ends. Style in the morning.
  • Weekly: finger detangle, wash, deep condition, blow dry on medium and style. Currently I’m wearing braid-outs, braiding in 4-5 thick braids. I re-braid once mid-week like in picture 3.

Weeks 12 – 15

  • I haven’t gotten to this point yet, but I’m sure it will look about the same. On week 15 I will go to a salon for a relaxer and have the stylist correct my ends.

My current products are as follows:

  • Moisturizer – Creme of Nature 7 in 1 Leave-in
  • Seal – Argan oil scented with lavender
  • Style (braid-outs) – spray bottle of water and Lotta Body coconut and shea oils Wrap Me Foaming Mousse
  • Shampoo – Beautiful textures
  • Deep conditioners – Profectiv Mega Growth and ORS Hair Mayonnaise (alternating, not together
  • Leave-in – Creme of Nature Strength and Shine
  • Heat protectant – CHI Silk Infusion Treatment Serum

I’m actually running low on a lot of products, so in the near future, I will be attempting to use products from one product line. Right now I have my eye on Design Essentials since that is the relaxer my stylist uses. I’ll be purchasing one of their shampoos and deep conditioners very soon since I probably won’t have enough of either to last before the next relaxer. The only thing I won’t use from the line is the setting lotion or mousse. I am absolutely in love with my Lotta Body because there are oils in the ingredient list and my hair comes out so soft and moisturized with this product without needing to add anything additional. In fact, I’ve tried to add other oils or moisturizers with it, but my hair always comes out too heavy and oily-looking when I do. That’s why I switch to just water and this. This product is amazing on its own!

So that’s where I am so far. Pictures are below!

Wash Day and First Hair Cheat: Straight Hair!

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Okay, okay, yes I already cheated on my healthy relaxed hair journey, but technically I hadn’t officially announced that I am on a No Heat Hair Challenge until…well just now!

On my second time washing my hair, I actually did air dry it. I shampooed twice with Beautiful Textures shampoo (finally got out that relaxer smell) and deep conditioned with their Rapid Repair deep conditioner under the dryer with a heat cap for 20 minutes. I air dried about 80%, added argan oil throughout my strands, and set my hair on perm rods and magnetic rollers to straighten it out a bit. I used my Cream of Nature Back to Eden Leave-In and Lotta Body Style Me Texturizing Setting Lotion for relaxed and natural hair on each section as I rolled it. I didn’t do these neatly. It was just enough to get my hair to dry smooth. I slept in the rollers overnight.

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Here are the results the next morning after removing the rollers.

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The picture isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be, but because of my texlaxed ends, the last inch or so of my hair was frizzy. After transitioning three times in the course of five years, and being natural for seven months, I’m no stranger to frizz, so it didn’t really bother me. I have a friend who commented on it when I mentioned it to her (not in a mean way, but she just made some suggestions when I said that my ends were almost natural and frizzy), but still, I wasn’t bothered.

And now for the cheat:

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I flat ironed my hair and wore my it all down for the wedding this past weekend! And then…I touched up the shape with the flat iron AGAIN right before the wedding. 😦

This is highly unusual for me, even before transitioning. I always received compliments on my relaxed hair back in the day because I only used heat on my hair once every 2-4 weeks for a roller set. The next time I have an event, I’ll definitely do a bantu knot out instead.

The good news it that it’s up in a ponytail now that I’m back at work. And so that I won’t be tempted to cheat again, I’m going with curlformers to style my hair for the next event. That will be my wedding anniversary at the end of this month. I’ll definitely have several posts before then, so please subscribe and stay tuned!

New Wash Day Routine | Relaxed 4c Hair

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My wash day routine is quick and easy with my super-short and straight hair. Here’s what I did two weeks ago Saturday night:

Since my hair was already weighed down from moisturizing and sealing daily, and it had been straightened at the salon,  I simply ran a wide-tooth comb through it from ends to roots and stepped in the shower. Detangling was nonexistent this time, but I know from prior experience that this will change when I reach about 8 weeks post.

I don’t like to waste hair products and I try to empty one before starting another, so I still shampooed with the Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming moisturizing shampoo for natural hair that I recently purchased. I only lathered once and then rinsed to avoid drying my hair out, but I wish I had done it twice, or at least more thoroughly. That relaxer smell didn’t really go away.

I finished my shower, stepped out, and dressed in my pajamas to add ORS Hair Mayonnaise to my hair in two sections as a protein treatment to strengthen my freshly relaxed hair. I put on a treatment cap and sat under the dryer for 15 minutes.

I rinsed my hair in the sink, t-shirt dried, and detangled with a wide tooth comb. I added a little argan oil to my hair in two sections and tied down the edges with a satin scarf while air drying.

After air-drying about 70 percent (who even knows the difference between 70%, 80%, 85% dry really?), I detangled again gently and put my hair in 10 bantu knots with Lotta Body Coconut and Shea Oil foaming wrap lotion. For the bangs, I rolled them with three magnetic rollers, the green ones.

In the morning I took down the knots and separated them like no one’s business! I realize that with straight hair a little separating and fluffing will not give me the fullness I was looking for with curly hair.

Then I unrolled the bangs and pinned them down. A little Cream of Nature Argan Oil Edge Control and Voila! It’s a simple, quick, no heat regimen.

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And here’s a twist…because the stylist who relaxed my hair did the middle of the hair shaft first, then the roots, then the ends, my ends are texlaxed and took on a 3c look while the rest is super bone straight. I’ll have to decide later if it becomes too much of a problem. I was thinking of texlaxing since my hair seems to be its longest when I did this in combination with air-drying and protective styling. Here’s a pic of my texlaxed ends:

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After seeing how flat my hair is now, I’ll definitely be texlaxing my hair myself in the future at about 15 weeks post. I think the light frizz of texlaxed hair gives it a little extra thickness when straightened.

My next post will quickly follow this one in a couple of days since it’s so late!

Relaxed Routine | Growing Relaxed 4c Hair

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After a brief glimpse into the natural hair realm, I decided relaxers were easier for me to maintain. I’m used to my relaxed hair and although I want to show my daughter the beauty of natural hair by being an example, in the end, I have to do what works for me. I have had relaxers for almost 15 years before transitioning, and before that, my mom took me to a stylist who straightened my hair faithfully. With that in mind, I realized that I’m comfortable with straight hair because it is all that I’ve known before transitioning to natural hair.

Besides that, the natural community is so large now that my daughter will have plenty of role models with natural hair to look up to, including like 90% of our family and friends! I’m so blessed to have their support and where I cannot relate, they will be there to help her along in her hair journey as well.

Now back to my hair. I am so happy to be wearing my hair straight again! I have some insane layers from my big chop, but so far so good.

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But even with relaxed hair I will be maintaining a healthy hair care regimen. It’s even MORE imperative now that my hair is in an even more fragile state. So far, here’s my plan.

Night Routine:

Because it’s so short now, all I had to do was wrap, pin, scarf, and go to bed at night. Before that I added some argan oil to my hair, targeting the ends and I used a wide-toothed comb for wrapping.

Going forward, I plan to pull it into a loose ponytail and tie it down with a scarf and bonnet.

Morning Routine:

This is just the night routine in reverse. If I’m going to wear it down, I take it down with my fingers, do a little light brushing to get it in place using a paddle brush, then I add argan oil again to the ends and the length.

For the most part I will wear it up in a ponytail, so I’ll simply remove my scarf, add some edge control, brush, and go!

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I also need to plan my weekly wash day routine, but I plan on revamping that to something more low maintenance that will allow my hair to retain the most length. I’ll do a post on that later. Here’s my starting length for my new hair journey. This was taken this morning:

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I’m looking forward to seeing my hair grow!

 

549 Day Journey at an End | Back to Relaxers

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Hello all. This is a sad post, indeed. I debated whether to post about it and continue on, or just quit blogging altogether and fall off the map like many others have done before me. But because of my love of writing/blogging, I decided to be honest and keep moving forward with the blog with a very big announcement:

After a year and a half of being natural, I’ve decided to go back to relaxing.

I’m sure many will say I’m giving up too quickly and I’m betraying my heritage, etc. But at the end of the day, I have to do what’s right for me and my lifestyle, and what I’m most comfortable with…and that’s relaxers.

My mom asked if I would be willing to straighten my natural hair regularly, but I’ve seen a few real-life natural hair straighteners with my texture, and it usually looks damaged unless they keep it in tight roller sets like my mom. Plus Florida humidity does not agree with type 4c natural hair. I also considered wearing more protective styles using weave, but my scalp is so sensitive! Every weave I’ve had has made my head hot, itchy, and just uncomfortable in general. It’s okay maybe once or twice a year, but I need hair that is quick and easy day-to-day with styles I feel flatter my features.

I also thought about rocking my fro in puffs, twist outs, and braid outs, but the ends always end up so dry and crunchy even if I moisturize and seal daily. I’m tired of ACV rinses, and co-washing, and detangling for 30+ minutes. I’m tired of trying to rock a lazy fro or puff and ending up with knotted, tangled hair. I’m tired of braiding/twisting hair only to end up with a damp puffball in the morning. And I’m tired of not being able to post weekly because most of my styles are fails and I don’t want this to be a “What Not to do with 4c Hair” blog.

I miss a few things about relaxers. The quick air-drying before I even went to bed. The bantu knot outs that curled instead of puffed. Mostly I miss pulling my hair back into a pony tail or bun without fussing with detangling, stretching, and SO MUCH GEL!

But everything has its good and bad. I will miss the incredible softness of my natural hair when I get moisturizing and styling just right. I’ll miss how my coils glistened after a shampoo. I’ll miss my little afro puff style. And I will miss the thickness that I’ll just never get with relaxed hair.

For better or for worse, on Tuesday of next week I will be getting a relaxer and fresh cut, most likely texlaxing since stretching relaxers to 12-16 weeks in the past left me with slightly under-processed hair. I’m going to a salon for the virgin relaxer and I will do all of my subsequent relaxers myself with Mizani Butter Blends for sensitive scalp or ORS no lye relaxer every 14-16 weeks. So get ready to see less natural hair and more of this:

Shortest my hair ever was before transitioning:

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Longest my hair ever was before I started my hair journey and transitioned:

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And I’m hoping to reach even longer lengths now that I am coming full circle. Thanks to those who supported my journey. I hope you will continue reading. The next post you see will be of my relaxed hair with a revamped blog!