Saturday, December 28, 2013

Flat Iron Attempt #1

As a follow-up to my last post on avoiding heat damage, I finally took the plunge and flat ironed my hair.   Here is what I did.

  1. First I did an overnight deep conditioning treatment with moisturizing and protein deep conditioner.  I mixed Darcy’s Botanicals Deep Conditioning Mask, Curl Junkie Repair Me!, honey, grapeseed oil, and avocado oil.  My hair felt wonderful and strong when I rinsed it out.
  1. I cleansed my hair with co-wash (She Scent It Blueberry Co-wash), and then detangled with another moisturizing protein conditioner (Hairveda Acai Berry Phyto Conditioner).
  1. Then, I applied more protein as a leave-in (Aphogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer) and heat protectant (Carol’s Daughter Chocolat Blow Drying Cream and Grapeseed Oil).
  1. I airdried for several hours so that my hair was not soaking wet, then blowdried on the medium setting using a modified version of the tension method.  I first tried to use a comb attachment, but it was rough on my ends, so I immediately stopped.
  1. Finally, I flat ironed at 300 degrees with more heat protectant (IC Fantasia Heat Protectant spray in the pink bottle).  Then I banded my flat ironed hair.
If I had it to do again, I would use Curlformers to dry my hair first.  Blowdrying was unnecessary, took a lot of time, and didn’t get my hair that straight.  However, I doubt I will be flat ironing my hair that often.  I did not get it that straight because I used such a low setting, but I did not want to go any higher and risk heat damage.  At the end of the day, if I really want a bone straight look, I can always wear a wig.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Avoiding Heat Damage

Hey, HHJs!  Since I went natural, I have had a fear of heat damage.  As a result, I avoided heat straightening my hair altogether.   However, this summer I figured that my fear was silly and that I simply needed to get over it.  It has taken me a good 6 months, but I am finally straightening my hair.

As with anything else, I immediately started to research the best tips to prevent heat damage.  Here is some of what I already knew from healthy hair journey and what I’ve learned:

  1. Moisturize and your hair before applying any heat.  This may seem counterintuitive because water reverts straightened hair, but it is important to keep the hair moisturized because using heat will evaporate water from your cuticle.  When too much moisture evaporates from the hair or if the moisture evaporates too quickly, it can cause the hair to become brittle and crack.  Moisture also helps absorb and dissipate heat through the hair.  Thus, a good moisturizing conditioner is important.
  1. Strengthen your hair before applying heat.  Use protein to reinforce your hair strands.  Heat damage comes from a loss of structural integrity to the hair strand, which is made up of protein. 
  1. Make sure your hair is thoroughly clean before applying heat.  You would not want to bake in any dirt that is sitting on your hair.  Also, clean hair heats more slowly than dirty hair.
  1. Buy Reputable Heat Tools.  It is good to be frugal, but don’t be so cheap that you burn all of your hair off in the process.  Your flat iron should have a temperature gauge on it so that you can adjust it to the proper setting.  Your blow dryer should have multiple settings, including low and cool.

  1. Use heat tools on the lowest setting possible.  If your hair is unhealthy you should not be using heat; but, even if it is healthy, you have to be careful.  Healthy hair normally burns at about 450 degrees, but damage and scorching can occur at lower temperatures.  This risk is increased if you have fine strands.  JC of The Natural Haven has an interesting article on what happens to the hair at various temperatures.  Based on her article, the hair's structure begins to change at 320-347 degrees, well before burning.
  1. Minimize the amount of heat used.  If possible, do not use a blow dryer and a flat iron.  Rather, airdry first, then use a flat iron.  Blow dryers “flash dry” the hair, which can make the hair dry, brittle and more prone to cracking.  Doubling up on heat also increases the risk of heat damage.  Also, limit the amount of passes that you do with the flat iron and try not to keep the flat iron on your hair for more than 3-4 seconds.  I’m sure you’ve seen the Youtube video of the girl, who did not know this lesson (if not, here it is).
  1. Use heat protectant.  Christina of The Mane Objective has an article with a good list of heat protectant ingredients.  Beauty Brains also talks about what to look for in a heat protectant for blow drying vs. a heat protectant for flat ironing. For blow drying, look for glycerin and propylene glycol because they slow water evaporation, and hydrolyzed wheat protein polysiloxane copolymer (a protein-silicone hybrid) because it decreases the risk of cracking.  For flat ironing, look for conditioners that can penetrate the hair strand, like cetrimonium chloride.

  2. Take Your Time.  Thoroughly detangle beforehand, which will make straightening easier and it will ensure that you do not rip your strands if using a comb attachment.  Make sure your hair is dry before using the flat iron so that you do not boil your strands from the inside.  
What tips do you have for healthy heat styling and avoiding heat damage?

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holy Grail Hair Tool: Hercules Sagemann Magic Star Rake Comb

Hey, HHJs!  I'm not sure if people normally designate hair tools as a holy grail items, but I don't care.  My Hercules Sagemann magic star rake combs are now two of mine.  As I previously posted, I bought these lovely combs during my Black Friday buying frenzy.  I had an eye on them for awhile because I kept hearing great things about them, however, I was skeptical.  I have had many a wide tooth comb in my years, and all of them snagged my hair, even if just minimally, because some of my strands are fine.  I didn't see a point to buying an even more expensive comb that would probably do the same.    But, my product junkie addiction got the best of me when the rake comb set went on sale this year, and I'm glad I did.

The rumors are true, people!  These combs are amazing.  They literally glide through my hair.  I have yet to have a strand snag.  Based on the website, they are handmade from 100% vulcanized rubber.  This makes them sturdy, unlike some cheaper combs that I've had that bend while going through my hair.  Additionally, the magic star rake combs are free of seams and burrs, which are usually two culprits of hair snagging.  Also, the teeth are a nice width apart, which is great for going through my kinky-curly strands.

The only thing I did not like about these combs was the price.  I paid $29.95 plus shipping for the set, which is normally $33.  If I had to pick one of the two, I like the mini rake better because of its size.  It is easier to pack for travelling and it is easier to maneuver when combing my ends.  The mini rake is normally $16.95.  I prefer the jumbo rake for combing the length of my hair, however, simply because it is bigger.  It is normally $24.95.  Both the individual combs and the set are actually still on sale as of this post.

So tell me, HHJs.  Have you tried the magic star rake combs?  Do you like them?  If not, what do you use?

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

In Search of A Setting Lotion

Hey, fellow HHJs!  Today I decided to try a Curlformer experiment and I think it was a success for a number of reasons.  First, I think I now know what product to use for my Curlformer set.  Two, I think I inadvertently figured out what to use for mini twists.

Ever since I decided to transition, I've tried to use more "natural" products, which meant I also began the hunt for a new setting lotion.  I used to use Motions Foaming Wrap Lotion or KeraCare Foam Wrap Set Lotion, but I wanted to see if I could find something else.  I tried Jane Carter Wrap and Roll, but it did not work for me.  I tried gel and that did not work either.  Then, since I'm now on a no-buy, I decided to look around the hair forum for suggestions of what else I could use from my product stash.  That is when I learned that some women use nothing, and a fellow HHJ on the forum suggested that I try curling cream.

Since it is winter, I used Oyin Hair Dew all over my hair because it is my staple winter leave-in.  Then, I added Jane Carter Curl Defining Cream to the left side only.  I really like the Oyin-only side.  It dried soft, but still straight.  It also dried faster than the Jane Carter side.  It probably has no real hold, but I was only using the Curlformers today to stretch my hair .

In fairness to the Jane Carter side, not all of the hair on that side dried before I took the Curlformers out, but some did so I could still do a comparison.  Those that did were also soft and had some sheen, but they were also slightly greasy.  Those that didn't dry were damp to almost soaking wet.  It was almost as if the Jane Carter kept them from drying.  On the upside, I twisted the wet ones and learned that Jane Carter makes a nice styler for medium-sized twists.

I'll probably try the Jane Carter again at some point, when I'm willing to sit under a hooded dryer or sleep in my Curlformers, to see if I can use it for hold when I want a long-lasting set.  I may even go back to a setting lotion with man-made chemicals.  Who knows.  In the meantime, Oyin Hair Dew will get the job done.

What do you use for Curlformer sets?

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Avocado Oil

In case I have not mentioned it before, Avocado Oil is my favorite oil.  I personally think that it is underrated by the natural hair community, which frequently only talks about olive oil and coconut oil when discussing oils that penetrate the hair strand.  Avocado Oil is also easily absorbed into the hair strand and, to me, it feels like an amped up olive oil. It is high in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants like Vitamin E, and other nutrients.  While avocadoes themselves can be a source of protein, the oil is not usually a significant source of protein.  Due to its nutrients, Avocado Oil is great for deep conditioning, moisturizing, strengthening, smoothing, and creating shine.  It also has some sunscreen properties, but the SPF measured by labs varies from 4-15.

Have you tried Avocado Oil?  What do you think?

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

You Know You Are Hair Obsessed When...

Hey, HHJs!  This morning I was thinking about my hair and realized that I am hair obsessed.  Here are five clues that led me to this conclusion:

  1. I have had hour long conversations with strangers about hair

  2. My two year old told someone "no dimethicone in this house"

  3. I have made my husband feel both sides of my hair to see which product works best (see my post on the battle of the Pura Body Moisturizers).  In the old days, he would have protested to having any part in the experiment, but he has since learned to give in.

  4. I frequently check my favorite hair forum before I go to bed and when I wake up.

  5. I have a detailed inventory of my hair products and a hair journal.

I don't think being hair obsessed is necessarily a bad thing as long as you still make it to work and function in everyday society.  However, perhaps that is just my addiction talking.

What are some clues that you might be hair obsessed?  Do you think I need rehab from my hair obsession?


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