Deciding on Hair Growth Again

IMG_4104

Bad selfie taken pre-baby.

My thoughts on hair are like a game of ping pong. I do one thing, then want the opposite. I go for a long time with my natural hair color, then dye it blonde. Friends, I am at a crossroads again.

I cut my hair back in December after having my son. My hair was too long, thick and unmanageable, especially with an infant. I barely had time to shower and eat, let alone care for waist-length hair. So in a flash – I cut it off. And I’ve loved it. Washing, conditioning and detangling is a breeze, air drying and diffusing are quick, and most importantly – it’s healthy!

But… my styles are limited (no more braided side buns), I can’t put it in a top knot (my all time favorite), and I’m absolutely itching to color it. With summer ahead, I seem to want all these things at once.

Perhaps I’ll embark upon a hair growth journey. It’s been years since I’ve done this, so it’ll be interesting to see how quickly I can get it to grow. Any thoughts or tips for fast hair growth?

Don’t be surprised if you see me soon in a celebratory post with an itty-bitty ponytail. :-0

~Thais

 

 

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The Vitamin C Method for Removing Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Sooo… I decided to dye my hair purple. I don’t know if it was the Prince concert I went to recently, the fact that purple is my favorite color, or that I’ve been completely bored with my hair lately, but I thought adding a subtle purple tinge would give just enough “wow” to keep me from chopping my hair into this pixie cut (cute, right?). Welp, I was wrong. Here’s sort of what I was going for:

purple curls

Sadly, I now realize this is probably more of a fuchsia. (Source: glamradar.com)

Here’s what I got:

results from N'Rage Purple Plum

I used N’Rage Purple Plum demi-permanent hair dye, chosen because the helpful lady at Sally Beauty Supply told me she’d seen this color on a brunette with a similar hair tone as mine, and it looked “nice in the sun.” Don’t get me wrong, I did not expect to look like this (which is still pretty), but since my hair is a medium shade of brown with some natural highlights, I expected just a little more, well… purple.

Instead, I got blue-black-purple. Depending on the light, much of my hair was nearly black, the tips were dark blue, and my roots, where I had purposely not applied dye, were my natural medium brown. #fail.

Whenever I color my hair at home, I know it’s a roll of the dice. This time I lost – miserably. So I immediately googled how to safely remove hair dye without using bleach. I came across the vitamin C method, which is supposed to lift demi-permanent hair color 1-2 shades. Here’s what it called for:

  • One or two 1,000 mg vitamin C tablets, crushed
  • A clarifying or dandruff shampoo – something not too gentle, cheap is ok
  • Plastic shower cap
  • 20 minutes

Vitamin C Method

So I got to work, figuring I’d have nothing to lose. For my amount of hair, I crushed three tablets in a plastic bag with a hammer and mixed this well with my usual amount of clarifying shampoo. After letting warm water run over my hair for a few minutes to open the cuticle and let any access product run off, I wrung out my hair and lathered as usual with the shampoo/vitamin C mixture.

I piled my hair on top of my head, covered it with the plastic cap, and let it sit for about 25 minutes. I  then rinsed thoroughly and applied a deep conditioner for about 20 minutes since clarifying shampoo can be harsh.

The Results:

before and after vitamin C Method

Left: after washing only with clarifying shampoo. Right: after using the Vitamin C method

Although the pictures above were taken in slightly different light, you can see the movement of the blue/purple dye further down my hair after using the vitamin C method.

The shampoo/vitamin C mix took out A LOT of hair dye, more than with my usual moisturizing shampoo. The first time I tried this method, I noticed a very subtle difference, but not much. I let my hair rest, then a few days later I tried it a second time, and when my hair dried, I began to see hints of my natural hair color. This method is definitely not a one-shot fix, but if your hair is strong enough to handle multiple treatments back to back, it will remove temporary color more quickly than normal shampooing. Plus, it’s more gentle than bleach, which can strip curly hair of it’s natural oils and change the curl pattern.

It’s now been 10 days since I dyed my hair “purple.” After two vitamin C treatments, two normal shampoos, and one day at the beach, I’d say the color is about 70 percent gone. That’s not so bad considering it normally takes demi-permanent dye between 3-6 weeks to wash out.

Once the color is completely gone, I’ll likely head over to my stylist for a complete color re-do. Maybe I’ll add honey highlights, so I can try purple again over lighter hair. I’ll use a different brand, of course. 😉

Have you ever dyed your hair purple?

 

Caring for Chemically Lightened Curls

bleach and unbleached curls

My actual curls.

Sad. Lifeless. Limp. But BLONDE. These are the words to describe those sections of my hair that I highlighted last Fall. We all know, we’re always told, that bleach kills your curls, but many of us do it anyway because of the way the color makes our curls pop. I’m definitely guilty. When I get bored with my hair, I either cut or color, and you can only cut but so much and still have hair. So when I can’t fight the mighty light (color), here’s what I do to beat the bleach.


What Bleach Does to Hair

First, let’s look at how bleach actually affects hair (I did some research on this one).  When bleach comes into contact with the hair shaft, it causes causes the protective cuticle scales to lift and separate, allowing the chemical to enter the cortex and remove pigment. The longer you leave bleach on your hair, the more your cuticle is lifted, and the more pigment is removed. This causes hair to become more porous, and the cuticle is no longer able to do its job and lock moisture in. That’s why hair becomes so dry and brittle after using bleach. Curly hair is already more porous (and dryer) than straight hair, so the process is even more damaging to curly locks, and it’s irreversible. But it looks good!

Protein Treatments
Hair is composed mostly of protein, and when you put bleach on your hair, it breaks down the proteins to remove pigment. So it is ESSENTIAL to try and replace the lost protein in order to regain hair strength and prevent breakage. Personally, my favorite protein treatment is
Palmers Coconut Oil Protein Pack

Image source: Target.com

Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein Pack. I used this 1-2 times per month, in addition to my hot oil treatments, which I’ll discuss in a minute. I use this product because 1) I trust the Palmer’s brand,  2) it’s affordable, and 3) my hair loves coconut oil. It only costs $2-$3 a pack, and with the amount of hair I have, I use two at a time. There are a ton of other protein treatments out there, ranging from ApHogee reconstructive treatment for severely damaged hair (I haven’t tried this yet, but I hear good things about it, with the exception of the smell), to all-natural egg or avocado mixtures (there are many, many recipes on the web).  The point is, put protein back in your hair – regularly!

Hot Oil Treatments
coconut oil on naturally curly hair

Image source: coconutoilexperts.com

We’ve already discussed how bleached hair is unable to retain moisture because of the lifted cuticle, so we’ve got to lend our hair a hand. The only true moisturizer is water, which curly hair tries to grab from the air (hello frizz), but we can help it by coating our strands with a nutrient-rich, natural oil that strengthens hair and helps prevent water from escaping. My hands-down favorite hot oil treatment is done with coconut oil. Its small molecular structure allows the fatty acids and vitamins to penetrate the hair shaft so your hair can absorb all the goodness (can you tell I’ve been studying this?). My second favorite oil to use is extra virgin olive oil; it’s just as good on your hair as it is in your body.

Protect Those Ends
From experience, most of us know that the ends of the hair are the oldest, most fragile, and most prone to breakage. Split or thinning ends will ruin your curls, so they must be protected like the life of your hair depends on it (well, it does). I always put extra moisturizer and oil on my ends, I NEVER brush my hair in its dry curly state, and I ALWAYS re-moisturize my ends at night and tuck them away in a pineapple or loose bun. I’m a lot more relaxed about this when I don’t have highlights, but when I do, I’m militant!
Those are my basic bleach-battling techniques. What are yours?

Protecting Curly Hair While Swimming

natural girls beach

Image source: fycuteblackgirls.tumblr.com

Unless you’re swimming in a fresh water spring with follicle-strengthening minerals, all curly girls should take some measures to to prevent the dryness and brittleness caused by summer’s most popular activity. Personally, I like to swim every chance I get, so my hair is regularly exposed to chlorine and salt water. Yet, the last thing I want to think about (or deal with) while splishing and splashing is my hair (and let’s face it, most swimming caps just aren’t that fashionable). Here are three quick and effective ways to keep your curls healthy while floating in your favorite body of water.

Braids
We often braid children’s hair before they get in the water to avoid the dreadful detangling process afterward, so why not braid our own?  Braids not only keep hair tangle-free, but the majority of your hair is protected from becoming brittle as it dries post-swim. Lately I’ve been preferring two french braids since my bangs are growing out, but you can do a single braid, corn rows – whatever suits your fancy. Another bonus: braids are a hairstyle, so your hair will look good at the pool whether it’s wet or dry!

Oil
This one is so simple, yet so effective. Oil is a natural barrier against water, so to keep salt and chlorine from penetrating deeply into your hair shaft, massage in an extra bit of your favorite sealing oil from root to tip before diving in. My favorites are extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, but some of the heavier ones like castor oil may do an even better job. For double protection, oil your hair, then braid it up!

Conditioner + Water
I swore by this mixture when I had blonde highlights. The highlights had already dried out my hair, and I spent a couple of weekends that summer at the beach, so I had to protect my hair from both the drying effects of the ocean AND the brassy effects of the sun on blonde hair. I mixed my detangling conditioner with a bit of water so it was thin enough to spray through a nozzle, but still thick enough to coat my hair, and put the mixture in a travel-sized spray bottle. Every time I got out of the ocean, I sprayed a generous amount through my hair.  When my hair dried, I had gorgeous ringlets from the salt water but they were soft and shiny, and the thin coating of conditioner kept the sun rays at bay.

Part of the beauty of wearing our hair naturally curly is the ability to get it wet at a moment’s notice. Taking a few preventative steps will keep it looking and feeling healthy all summer long.

How do you protect your curls during swimming season?