Deciding on Hair Growth Again

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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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New Haircut + Where I’ve Been

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Hellooooooo Internet. What’s happening? It’s been a whirlwind few months on this end, but I’m at a place where I think I can finally get back to blogging. I started this blog as an outlet to write and share a few of my experiences. Back in May, my life completely changed when my son was born. Though I have virtually no free time outside of baby + work, and I am sleep deprived and physically drained, I am happy and grateful ever single day. Needless to say, blogging has taken a backseat.

Now that my family is getting into something of a rhythm, I may have a minute or two, here or there, to share a post with you. (Even now, my eyes are getting heavy; it’s only 9:30.)

So about the hair… I could (and should) probably dedicate an entire post to this subject, but over the last few months, my hair dropped to the absolute bottom of the priority list. It was bad. It grew long and full during my pregnancy and postpartum, it kept going. But I rarely washed it (no time!), I never styled it, and it became a knotted mess of a ponytail. I was tired of it and the way I looked, plus my son was pulling it out, so I just cut it. I didn’t blink an eye, I just did it – 12 inches gone! I was actually going to go even shorter, but decided to cut in stages.

This is a layered bob that, when straight, falls just above my shoulders. I wanted a versatile cut that I could wear in a wash-and-go most days and still look stylish.  Lately, I’ve been been using only one product after shampooing and conditioning – Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie – and then diffusing until completely dry. I wear my hair down almost every day now, and the washing, styling, drying routine is quick and easy. I’m enjoying the short hair life!

Have any of you made a dramatic change after your child was born? Please share!

Review of Cantu Natural Hair Shampoo and Conditioner

Cantu shampoo and conditioner

I’d been wanting to try this product line for a while, but my rule is I don’t buy any new products until I run out of the ones I have (unless they’re horrible). Finally, I ran out of both my staple shampoo and conditioner, and was able to try the Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair line.

I’d always seen it on the beauty aisle and liked the ingredients and price, but when I saw it was the preferred line of one of my favorite curly girls on Instagram, @naturallytash, I decided to give it a go. Here’s what I thought:

Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo

Positives

This shampoo is a  great cleanser without over-stripping my hair. It does leave a bit of that squeaky clean feeling, which some like and some don’t; it doesn’t bother me as long as my hair doesn’t feel like straw while wet. It’s thick shampoo, which means a little goes a long way, and it lathers beautifully. My roots tend to get oily, so I like a lathering shampoo. The smell is clean with nutty undertones. Note: it does contain perfume.

Negatives

This shampoo burns my eyes – not terribly, but enough. I wish it didn’t, because I like everything else about it. I do have sensitive, allergy-prone eyes, and sometimes even body perfume will make my eyes water. I cannot pinpoint which ingredient caused the burn, but it could easily be the perfume.

Cantu Sulfate-Free Hydrating Cream Conditioner

Positives

I got excited when I first poured this into my palm. My hair really likes the moisturizing properties of shea butter-based products. This conditioner is THICK and I could definitely feel the shea butter in it. It’s also very moisturizing, even after rinsing completely out. It seems to really smooth the cuticle and cut down the frizz factor (that’s quite a feat in this southern humidity), and pairs beautifully with my favorite leave-in conditioner. The smell is similar to that of the shampoo, which I don’t mind.

Negatives

The slip! It doesn’t have much! At least, not as much as I’m used to with the TRESemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. I have to say, the very first time I used the Cantu conditioner, I co-washed with it, and I don’t know if it was because my hair was super tangled or because I had gel residue in it, but it took me twice as long to comb out. The second time I used it, I washed with the shampoo first, and while it was much easier to detangle, it still wasn’t super slippery. I have to use a lot of product to be able to pass my comb easily through. HOWEVER, because it is so moisturizing, and has an ingredient my hair loves, I will give it a pass. Overall, it was a good conditioner for me.

Apart from the drawbacks, I enjoy the Cantu line. Both the shampoo and conditioner are free of sulfates, silicons, parabens and mineral oil, they’re safe on colored hair, and you cannot beat the price. At less than $5 a pop, and decent-sized bottles of 13.5 fl oz, someone who runs through product quickly can feel good about purchasing it.

I am also eager to try the Cantu Coconut Curling Cream. As I’ve mentioned previously, my hair is in love with coconut oil, and I’m curious how the whole line with work together. But alas, I need to run out of my current leave-in before buying anything new.

Have you tried Cantu? How did you like it?

 

 

DIY Curl Refreshing Spray

I mentioned in a previous post that I love a good curl refreshing spray. However, I don’t like to spend a lot of money of them for two reasons: 1) I go through them like water and 2) half the time they don’t work! So I’ve concocted my own curl refreshing recipe that works like a charm on my 2nd, and even 3rd, day curls.  Here are my ingredients:

Ingredients for DIY Curl Refreshing Spray

Coconut Oil, Leave-In Conditioner, Water

I like to use a light leave-in like Giovanni for this spray because it blends easily with water. The leave-in softens and conditions hair, coconut oil makes it shiny and helps moisturize, and of course water is the ultimate natural curl activator.

Here’s approximately what I use in a 2 oz bottle (I make it in small batches so I can put it in my purse or travel with it).

  • 1/8 leave-in conditioner
  • One squirt (maybe a teaspoon) of coconut oil
  • Fill up the rest of the bottle with water

Shake (the bottle) rigorously until the ingredients are well blended. The goal is to achieve what I call “slippery water,” so you may need to add more water or conditioner until you get just the right formula. You want the mixture to be thin enough to spray through a nozzle, but have enough “slip” to coat your locks.

When I’m ready to use it, I flip over my limp, dry curls and shake them at the root to loosen them up, then I spritz the refresher onto my hair until it’s damp all over. I flip upside down again, and gently scrunch my hair upward. Most of the time I let my hair air dry, but you could also use a diffuser on low heat if you’re in a hurry. Et voila!

Before and after DIY Curl Refreshing Spray

Before and after

Smooth, frizz-free curls. Do you have a favorite curl refreshing spray or make your own?

natural curls

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?