everything I've learned about growing, maintaining, styling, and loving long hair

my hair care routine

tangle teezer revisited

I had written a review about using the Tangle Teezer a few years ago. (read it here)  I wasn’t all that impressed by it, really.  For a long time, it just sat in my drawer, hardly touched.

Fast forward to having 2 small children, a lot less time, and about 6 more inches of hair.

Because I have much less time to spend on it, my hair is not in as good of shape as it used to be.  Yes, it’s thicker and longer than it has ever been (thank you pregnancy hormones!), but it’s dry and frizzy, and hard to manage.  I’m certain this is due to lack of care on my part.

My hair has never been prone to tangles.  Even with it being naturally curly, at any given time I could run my fingers through it fairly easily.  But over the past couple of years, that has changed.  Drastically.  My hair now gets horrible tangles and becomes a matted mess.  I know dryness is responsible for part of it.  A big part of it, I think, is also due to the  sometimes excessive fall-out I have (thank you pregnancy hormones).  The loose hairs just get all wrapped up in the mess and create more mess.

Tangle-TeezerAnd because of having 2 small children, I get less time in the shower.  Normally, I would detangle in the shower with a ton of conditioner and a wide tooth comb.  But when the tangles are so bad that it takes 15 minutes just for that…… ain’t nobody got time for that!

So I started detangling after my shower, while my hair is still wet.  Oh. my. goodness.  The Tangle Teezer has been amazing for this!!!

After my shower, I wrap my hair in a t-shirt for a little while.  My hair still needs to be very wet for it to work well, but not soaking dripping wet.  I divide my hair in half and then work through small sections.  The Tangle Teezer gets through it sooooo much easier than a comb!  I’ve been quite impressed with it.  When I’m all done, I put a generous amount of gel all through my hair and scrunch it.

No, I don’t get good curl definition this way, but let’s face it, I wear my hair up 99% of the time these days anyway so it doesn’t really matter.  I get it detangled and get rid of the fall-out.  If I don’t do that, my hair is a disaster.



growing out curly hair

I happened across this video today…. It was on my “recommended for you” list on youtube.  I thought her advice was great and I wanted to share it with all of you.  I know your first reaction might be “I don’t have African hair, this won’t help me.”  Trust me, it’s not a matter of race, it’s all about hair texture.  I figured out a long time ago that products and techniques African women use for their hair will many times work perfectly for me!  Straight hair and curly hair are cared for and maintained in different ways, sometimes the information will even contradict between the two.  That’s ok.  Methods will even differ depending on how curly your hair is.  Choose what works best for your hair type.  So if you have curly hair, her tips will be helpful to you.  I do almost everything she lists here.

I browsed her youtube channel and found it interesting that she had been relaxing her hair since she was a child because her mom didn’t really know how to care for it.  She grew up not even knowing what her natural texture was!  Her hair wasn’t super damaged from it, but out of curiosity she cut off all the relaxed part and started fresh and has been growing it for two years.

I think this is a great example of what has been happening for ages with curly girls.  Especially when the mom has straight hair, she has no clue how to deal with a curly haired daughter.  She treats the daughter’s hair the exact same way she treats her own straight hair.  And it doesn’t work!  I see this a lot and it makes me sad because the daughter grows up hating her hair and thinking the only option for making her hair look good is a flat iron or blow dryer.  Ladies, do your daughters a huge favor….. If their hair is a different texture than yours, learn about how to care for it properly and teach her how to as well.  Don’t help her grow up hating her natural hair!

lose the towel!

A big issue with long hair is damage.  The more damaged your hair is, the harder it is to gain (or maintain) length.  Also, the longer your hair is, the easier it gets damaged.  Some of that, you just can’t help.  It’s nature.  But there are some things that we commonly do on a regular basis that actually cause damage to the hair.  Towel-drying is one of those things.  In case you haven’t noticed, towels have a very rough texture.  This texture grabs your hair and pulls and tugs it in different directions.  This can cause breakage.  And please tell me you’re not rubbing the towel over your hair to dry it!

Several years ago, I stopped using towels on my hair.  I learned first about plopping and started doing that with my towel with great success.  But a towel is heavy and hard to secure in a plop.  When I heard about using a t-shirt, I tried it immediately and never looked back.  A t-shirt is very soft (usually 100% cotton) with a smooth texture that doesn’t grab at your hair.  I had a lot less frizz, and over time, less breakage.  I simply love it!

If you have curly hair and you don’t plop, you should try it!  But drying with a t-shirt is not limited to curly girls!  Here are a couple of videos showing how to use a t-shirt to dry your hair.

This one is for those with straight hair that don’t want to plop.  She made this video at my request!  How sweet! 🙂  By the way, she has some great style tutorials so be sure to check out her youtube channel Torrin Paige

This one is for plopping.  There’s a lot of talking at the beginning, but the plopping explanation starts at about 8 minutes, so you can skip to there if you want.  This is basically how I do it.  You won’t need an extra long shirt, no matter how long your hair is. 

water temp

I had a “duh” moment.  One of  my biggest problem areas is a dry flaky scalp.  Over the last few seasons, I noticed a pattern.  During the summer, my scalp was fairly free of flakes.  As winter came on, I started seeing an increase.  Then summer again and it decreased.  I was thinking it didn’t really make sense because it had been a particularly hot and dry summer (three months of no rain and temps over 100).  The dryness in the air and the heat should have made my skin/scalp drier, right?

Then it hit me!  I’m very cold-natured and have to take steaming hot showers in the winter.  I was taking much cooler showers in the summer (especially after being outdoors) because it was so hot and dry.  The water temperature was affecting the dryness of my scalp!  Now, I’ve known for a long time that washing your hair with very hot water can be a contributing factor for dry hair/scalp.  I’ve even advised people about it.  Why did it never occur to me that it was my problem?  I have no idea…..

So now (after slapping myself on the forehead for being so ignorant) I try to wash my hair with cooler water, even if I have to wash it while leaning forward so the water doesn’t touch the rest of my body.  Then I adjust the water to be warmer for the rest of my shower.  I would like to be able to just wash my hair separately by kneeling next to the bathtub and putting my head under the faucet like I used to, but the position of the bathtub in the house I’m living in now makes that impossible.  I still have issues with flakes, I think I always will because I just have naturally dry skin, but it is better when I use cooler water.

towel drying technique for curly hair

Wrapping the towel around your hair this way makes the curls form better and they are more bouncy.  I don’t do it exactly like the pictures show, but somewhat similar.  I wanted to add the picture to give you an idea of how it’s done.  It took me a while to get the hang of it, so don’t give up too quickly if I doesn’t seem to be working for you.
     I leave the towel on for 10-15 minutes.  If your hair is shorter or thinner, it may not take that long.

my hair care routine

It was requested that I add this on here, so here’s what I do……………
(edited 3-24-09)
Since my hair is curly, the only time I comb it is directly before washing (or when I’m going to braid it).  I first run my fingers through it to get out any big tangles, then comb it thoroughly with a wide-tooth comb.  My comb is made out of bull horn.  I have plastic ones too that I use occasionally, but I like the horn one the best.  I usually spray my hair with a little water as I’m combing to keep it from fluffing out in every direction.  If my hair is particularly tangled for some reason, I skip the combing and take care of that in the shower when I put conditioner on it.  My hair detangles the best under running water.  (this is also a good way to undo microbraids) 
I normally shampoo my hair once every week or two, and only the scalp area.  I sometimes shampoo twice (using small amounts of shampoo) because my hair is fairly thick and it’s hard to make sure the shampoo gets down to the scalp good enough.  I rarely shampoo the length.  The oil and sweat from your scalp doesn’t get to the length so there’s not as much need for washing.  (conditioners usually contain a bit of cleansing ingredients anyway, so it’s still getting cleaned, just much more gently) 
I apply conditioner on the length only – from my neck down.  In my hand, I mix conditioner about 50/50 with honey.  I glob on a huge portion, don’t squeeze it out, wrap it up in a bun and clip it.  I let it soak like that throughout the rest of my shower, then rinse with lukewarm water.  As I’m rinsing out the conditioner, I finger-comb to remove any loose hair and pick out any tangles.  Then rinse again with cool water. 
Then I bend over and flip my hair forward, squeeze out excess water, and pour a vinegar rinse through it.  I use about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in about 8 ounces of purified water.  It makes my hair sooo soft and keeps the hard water mineral deposits from building up on it.  (hard water will make hair dry and brittle)  The vinegar smell does go away as it dries. 
I smooth a tiny bit of shea butter (about a dime sized piece melted in my hand) on the ends, scrunch it and wrap it in a towel.  I leave the towel on for about 15 minutes.  Then I just let it air dry, trying not to handle it as much as possible.  The more you handle it, the worse the frizz gets.  When it’s mostly dry, I put aloe vera gel all through it.  (this works better than gelling while it’s wet, the curls form better if I let it dry first and then apply gel.)  I don’t use a lot, just enough to keep it from being fly-away.  The more healthy it gets, the less I need gel.  I also spray it with a little lime juice in a bottle of water.  Lime juice is great for curly hair (about a teaspoon per 6 ounces of water).  It helps the curls keep their form, makes them more bouncy. 
on the days between shampooing:
As I said, I shampoo my hair usually once a week or less.  In between those days, I "wash" with conditioner.  I use a small amount of conditioner and massage it into my scalp and and all through my hair then rinse thoroughly just as if it were shampoo.  I follow that with my normal conditioning routine above.
On other days, I spray my hair with the lime juice water or a quick rinse under the faucet and apply conditioner to the length only.  Curly hair tends to be very dry and needs lots of moisture.  I wet it every day.  Many women with long hair swear by daily oiling to keep their hair soft, shiny, healthy… but that doesn’t work for me.  If I use oil, it’s only on wet hair to seal the water in, or for a deep conditioning treatment.  (that’s why I use the shea butter right after I wash my hair, it works better for me than any oil I’ve tried) 
once every month or so (or whenever I get around to it):
I wash my hair completely with rhassoul clay.  Wash with dirt… yeah, sounds perfectly logical!  Really, it has the grainy texture that removes build-up on scalp and hair both and it’s conditioning at the same time.  Sometimes in place of the clay treatment I will do a special wash with a baking soda/shampoo mixture that practically strips the hair and scalp.  With either one of these I follow with at least a very heavy application of conditioner, or a deep conditioning treatment if I have the time.  This is important, you don’t want to leave the hair vulnerable after being stripped.