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!

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Braided Side Bun + White Linen Night

braided side bun on naturally curly hair

Two Saturday evenings ago my husband and I attended the schmoozy event that is New Orleans’ White Linen Night. Art galleries along Julia Street in the Warehouse District throw open their doors to the public to showcase collections and launch exhibits. Restaurants bring food and bars to the street, cars are prohibited, and guests are asked to wear their finest white linen (or whatever they have that’s white-ish).

New Orleans White Linen Night 2014

I’ll jump on any excuse to dress up, so of course I heeded the call to wear le couleur du soir. Being from the South and an island girl at heart, I do happen to own a bit of white linen. I dug in my closet for this dress, which I wore to my bridal shower in May – 9 YEARS AGO. Thankfully, it still fits like a charm.

white linen dress

For its debut in 2005, I wore this dress with a large, wide-brimmed floppy hat that was perfect for a sunny day. But since White Linen Night is well, at night, I skipped the hat and opted for an elegant braided side bun.

Since my hair is now so long and the summer heat creates lots of frizz, I decided to braid my hair wet. I do this with most braided styles – it’s easier, faster and the braids come out much sleeker.

braided side bun on long hair

I actually would have preferred my hair to dry a bit before I left the house so I could pull the braid apart and make the bun even bigger, but as usual, I was rushing, so no such thing occurred.

This was actually a very easy style to achieve. After applying a bit of Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, I created a deep part on one side and combed all my hair straight. I then created one French braid with the top section of hair, and created a second braid in the back, to the same side.

I looped the front French braid around the back one, forming a small bun, and pinned the ends to secure. I then took the back braid, and looped it around the perimeter of the small bun to create an even larger bun, and pinned the ends.

how to create a braided side bun on long hair

The down side to braiding wet hair is that it is very heavy, so I had to stick all kinds of long bobby pins in random places to hold all the hair in place. Generally, I was pleased with the result, though next time I may try it on blown out, straight hair to see just how big of a braided bun I can create.

If you try this style yourself, I’d love to see it! Leave a comment here with a photo, or tag the photo @curlonamission on Instagram. Happy braiding!

My Current Curly Hair Staples…and Why

Curly Hair Staples
Sorry some of these bottles look a little funky; I use them all the time!

Let me start by saying that I don’t consider myself a “product junkie.” I’m not even sure what the definition of a product junkie is, but I imagine it to be someone to buys new products before their old ones run out. As more women embrace their natural curls, more cosmetic companies are creating products specially formulated for textured hair, and let’s face it – it’s tempting. But it’s also expensive, so I try very hard to use up what I have before trying new things. There are, however, a few products I’ve grown to love over the last year, and I buy them again and again.

Coconut Oil
If I had to throw out everything in my cabinet except one hair product, this would be the one left standing. There is ALWAYS coconut oil in my hair. There always HAS been coconut oil in my hair. My mother has been using this on my hair since I can remember. Lately, I prefer unrefined virgin coconut oil. It’s pure, lightweight, and has all kinds of nourishing ingredients.  Applied wet or dry, my hair soaks it right up, resulting in moisturized, smooth, shiny locks. I also use it for my hot oil treatments and as a serum to eliminate frizz.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo
I haven’t used a sulfate shampoo in months, except occasionally when I need one to break down heavy silicones or oils in my hair. Shampoo is very important to me. I’ve tried shampoos that strip my hair of so much moisture that it literally feels like straw while wet. I’ve also tried co-washing with an inexpensive conditioner like Suave naturals, but the oils built up and my hair got very heavy. I’ve also used “moisturizing” shampoos that leave a thick coating of something on my hair. Yuck. Shea Moisture’s shampoo is all natural with healthy ingredients like shea butter (obviously), coconut oil, silk protein and neem oil. It lathers on my scalp, which I do like, but it doesn’t strip my hair at all. My hair feels so moisturized after using this shampoo I could almost detangle it.

TRESemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner
As all curly girls know, conditioner is right up there with water in terms of moisturizers we can’t live without. Also as we know, we can run through three bottles of conditioner before we finish one bottle of shampoo. So at about $5 a pop, this conditioner has been my best bet. It’s silicone-free with moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera and avocado, and it has incredible slip for detangling. I’ve noticed TRESemmé changed the formula recently, and I actually prefer the old one (it was a bit thicker), but the new one still works wonderfully.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
The Shea Moisture development team really hit the nail on the head when they made this product. Like all their products, it’s free of parabens, sulfates and mineral oil, it’s thick, super-moisturizing, and a little goes a very long way. I rake this through my hair to coat all the strands and define my curls, it leaves my hair so soft, and it smells amazing. I mainly use this product for my wash-and-gos.

Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner
I’d heard so much about this leave-in that I broke my rule and bought it before I ran out of my Curl Enhancing Smoothie. And I’m glad I did! Like the bottle claims, this is a very light-weight conditioner that still delivers moisture with ingredients like aloe vera juice and sunflower seed oil. I’ve been using this product whenever I do my french braid-out, since it dries quickly and doesn’t leave my hair heavy when I take out the braids. I do use a bit of coconut oil over this product to tame the bit of frizz it leaves.

L’Oréal EverStyle Curl Defining Gel
Gel, oh gel. I have such a tenuous relationship with thee. OK, I know that gel makes my hair super defined and frizz free, but I cannot STAND how it feels once it dries. So I don’t buy or use much of it. During one of my 20-minute visits to the hair section at Tar-jay, I saw this and thought I’d give it a try. It’s alcohol-free, but what really convinced me is that it contains orange peel oil, and my hair loves a good, lightweight oil. Lo and behold, it wasn’t bad! I use it very sparingly, just a light coating over the crown of my hair while it’s still wet, and it dries crunch-free and fights the frizz. For a gel, I give it a thumbs-up.

diffused curly hairThis is it – what I use in my hair every time I wash it, and so far they’re doing a great job. Of course, there are a TON of products I want to try, but I guess we’ll have to wait until I run out of something!

~Thaïs

Creating Volume for Fine Curly Hair

Creating Volume for Fine Curly Hair

My hair has a split personality. When the weather is hot and humid, it can swell up to a beautiful size without my having to do much but step outside. However, when the weather turns cool and the humidity drops, it just gets kind of… limp. I could use clips, bobby pins and hair spray to help it defy gravity, but I don’t like using these on a daily basis. My hair is thick, but the actual strands are fine, and when there’s no humidity to lift them up, they lay flat at the root and twirl down, forming curls at the ends. So my hair can get very bottom heavy, resulting in flat locks.

There are ways, however, to give fine curly hair the illusion of volume. Here’s what I do when I want big hair:

Cut hair into layers
If you have medium-length hair or longer, be sure to have it cut into layers throughout, rather than just long layers. For example, if your hair hits mid-back, your first layer may start somewhere between your chin and collarbone, depending on your curl pattern. Be sure to have layers cut in the back of the hair as well. You don’t want lots of volume in the front and a flat back.

Go light on the styling products
Heavy-handed use of products will weigh down your hair, preventing you from getting the lift you’re looking for. Personally, I use a small amount of a very moisturizing leave-in, usually Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie, and maybe a touch of a lightweight gell like Ouidad Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel. Also, I never apply styling products to the root. If your hair is heavy at the root, the rest will invariably follow suite.

Diffuse upside down
When I have time, I love letting my hair air dry. The curls are more defined and I have less frizz than when I diffuse, but when I want volume, I have to put curl definition on the back burner. My favorite way of diffusing is to let my hair air dry about half-way, then use the diffuser on the low heat setting. The key is diffusing your hair upside down, since this dries the roots in the opposite direction of the way they grow. I dry in sections, gathering one at a time in the diffuser cup, bringing it up to the root and holding it there for a few seconds. If I’m diffusing completely wet hair, I use the high setting or else it takes forever to dry. Once  dry, I always blast my hair with the cool setting to help seal the cuticle.

Creating Volume for FIne Curly HairThe photo above is actually second day hair. After sleeping with my hair in a pineapple, I flipped my hair upside down, shook the curls loose from the root, and used the Ouidad Botanical Boost Refreshing Spray to spruce them up. Another trick I learned to create volume is to use a pick. It works great on fine hair because you can lift the root and separate the curls without causing a lot of frizz. Again, I find I get the most volume if I flip my hair upside down and lift from the root. A pick is also a great tool if you want to achieve the classic Diana Ross look.

If you have any tricks for achieving volume on fine curly hair, please let me know!

~Thaïs

The Finger Coiling Method

finger coiling long curly hairMy hair is temperamental and difficult when it wants to be. I would love to have curls of equal shape, size and texture throughout my head. But I have to work with what I’ve got, which are smooth ringlets around the perimeter of my head and dry, frizzy wave-curls on my crown. Oh, and one or two pieces so dead-straight that I’m like, “Where did YOU come from?” So in an effort to achieve more uniform curls all over, without the use of heat or rollers, I did the finger coiling method.

With my hair still feeling pretty good after last week’s deep conditioning treatment, I didn’t want to shampoo again, so I drenched it in the shower and used gobs of TRESemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner to detangle. I rinsed the conditioner out completely, split my hair into two sections, and applied about a quarter-sized amount of Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie to each.  I always use this product when I want more curl definition. Then I started the 30 (or was it 40?) minute process of finger coiling.

finger coils on long curly hairI started at the back, taking down a small section, and clipping the rest up and away. I took very small sections, about pencil-sized in diameter, and twisted each one tightly from the root to the end, wrapped it around my finger, then let go. I did this all over my head, adding more Shea Moisture to the problem areas on my crown.

I always seem to wash my hair at night (terrible for air drying, since my hair takes HOURS to dry), so I let it dry for about an hour, then draped a large silk scarf over the pillows I sleep on and the area right above it. I did this because if my hair is still wet when I go to sleep, I fan it out over my pillows, but because of the length it ends up on the sheet above the pillow, and I don’t want it to rub and get frizzy. I then try my best not to move during the night; rarely does that work.

But this time it worked! The top photo shows my hair the next morning, at about 90 percent dry. I have to say, I really like how these finger coils turned out. For the most part, my curls were uniform, they were smooth and shiny, and my hair felt so soft. Toward the end of the day, the coils got bigger and  started frizzing, and it gave them a completely different look. I loved it! (I should have taken a picture of them later that day – will next time. Sorry!)

As my hair continues to grow, this may become my go-to styling method. I am typing this with day 3 hair, and my curls are still somewhat intact. All it takes is a little water and Curl Enhancing Smoothie to retwist the problem curls, and I’ve got hair for another day. Not bad!

Let me know what you think. Have you tried finger coiling? I recommend trying it!

~Thaïs