My Go to Braidout

The finished product

The finished product

When you start a hair journey, one of the things you learn quickly is that heat can be very damaging to your hair. So in order to get the long, shiny, healthy, bouncy hair you’ve always dreamed of, you have to limit the heat tools you use on a regular basis. So that means finding ways to style your hair without the blowdryer, flat iron, curling iron. For me I just resign myself to the bun most of the time. But whats the use of growing this hair if I can let it down and flash it once in a while. So I set out on a mission to learn some heat-free styles. Now, if you research this topic on You-Tube you’ll find a wealth of tutorials, how to use bantu knot outs (which by the way are what Jamaicans call Chiney bumps), braidouts, twistouts, curl formers, and flexirods to get curly hairstyles. I’ve tried quite a few of them… and failed miserably.  I end up looking like a hot mess. But, after some practice, I have managed to be decent at one technique, my own simplified version of the braidout.

On wash day, after drying my hair with my turbie twist, applying leave in conditioner and combing through, I let my hair hang free and air dry for a while. This is a key step, because if I don’t do this, the braids won’t be dry when I wake up in the morning, and a braidout that isn’t completely dry is a recipe for a frizzy mess. I wait until the hair is almost dry, just slightly damp, then I moisturize and seal.

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I start by parting my hair where I like to wear my part, on the left side. You can part yours wherever you want, on the right side or in the middle. Then I make two braids or as Jamaicans would say, two big canerows. One on the right…

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And one on the left…

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As you can see, they don’t have to be that neat, just do the canerows as tight as you can, this produces more defined curls. Also, there is no need to part your hair at the back, just roughly grab it into two sections. IF you part it, you’ll have to work pretty hard to blend the part out in the end. The next step is to go to sleep. You can use bobby pins to pin the braids to your head and keep them out of the way while you sleep. You should ideally tie your head with a satin scarf but you know my husband is not down with that. So I sleep on a satin pillowcase.

The next morning simply put some coconut oil on your hands and begin unraveling the plaits. The coconut oil will provide shine, help eliminate frizz and make your hair smell like gizzada yummm! Do not use too much. Just put a little on your hands and fingers.  Once they’re all unraveled. Use your fingers to seperate each chunk of hair and fluff your hair up as big as you want it.

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And that’s it! You’re ready to go!

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Hair Update

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My attempt at a “hair from the front” selfie

After my last post, I received a comment that I should post pictures of my hair, so that readers could see the health and progress. I thought to myself, ” Why didn’t you think of that?!”, felt silly and then searched through pictures of my hair. It occurred to me that it had been quite some time since I took pictures of my progress. So after my weekly wash day on Sunday, I blow dried and flat ironed my hair to do a length check and take some pictures for you guys.

On Thursday I sat down with the camera and my laptop to write this post, only to realize that the memory card for the camera was nowhere to be found. To compound the matter this was Anthony’s camera and  his memory card that I had borrowed. While I have a simple point and shoot, he has a DSLR so I tend to borrow it to take pictures for the blog. I asked him if he had seen it, searched high and low and it was nowhere to be found. I was surely in the doghouse for being so careless.

Then, today while I was thinking about where to go and buy a replacement SD card, I noticed something small and black on the floor under the dining table. It was the card! I was so elated I sat down immediately to write this post.

So, here is a picture of my hair when I officially started this journey, May 3, 2013.

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My hair on May 3rd 2013

I had started taking steps to take care of my hair before that date but decided that I needed a proper trim to get rid of all my damaged ends to start my hair journey off on the right foot. This was the day I got the trim. Please excuse the quality at the photo. At the time I did not know I would need to show it to anyone else. I just wanted some record of my hair length so I could see my progress. It was taken with the self timer setting on my point and shoot alone in the bathroom. You can see from my homemade length check t-shirt, that my hair was at line 5.

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My hair on August 11, 2014

This is what my hair looks like now. It’s at line 9, which means I retained 4 inches of  length in 15 months! Its not as far as I wanted to be by now but as I’ve learnt over the year, there is a reason why they call it a journey. In the beginning you try out many different products and techniques to try to get to know your hair and what it responds to. Along the way you make mistakes and have setbacks but, I’m glad to see that regardless of my mistakes and my setbacks, I have still made great progress. Best of all, I know so much more about my hair and I now have a regimen that is working and I have the pictures to prove it!

 

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My Relaxed Hair Regimen & Favourite Products

Last year, I decided to start taking better care of my hair. Sure it looked ok, and was always fairly long but I could remember a time when my hair was GLORIOUS. I’ve been sporting relaxed hair since I was about ten or eleven; a decision that was actually made by my father because he was tired of hearing me cry every time it was combed or washed. My mother feared that this would impact negatively on the health of my hair since relaxed hair required maintenance and attention. However, my hair was well taken care of by my neighbour who was also a hairstylist. I visited her weekly and got regular treatments. My hair was healthy, bouncy and big. My Dad nicknamed it “fat hair”.

I think things started to take a turn when I went to university in Canada. The cold winter weather coupled with the fact that haircare was not very high on my priority list took a toll on my hair. Sure hundreds of strands fell out every time I blow dried my hair, sure I never deep conditioned it, sure I blow dried it way too often, sure I rarely moisturized it, but guess what? I still had plenty more hair, which was still always shoulder length or longer, so it didn’t bother me much.

But last year I started to miss my “fat hair” and I wanted it back. I wanted healthier, fuller, longer relaxed hair. I was tired of those trips to the hairdresser where she had to cut 3 inches off at a time because of split ends. So I did my research, tried a whole bunch of things and one year later I’ve settled into a routine and products that work for my lifestyle and my hair.

My Simple Hair Routine

Relax every 12 weeks

I get my hair relaxed every 12 weeks by my friend Michelle who has been relaxing my hair for many years now. She uses Profectiv Mega Growth Relaxer in Regular. Lengthening my relaxer frequency from the usual 8 weeks to 12 weeks allows my hair to rest and decreases the possibility of over-processing the already relaxed portion of my hair as there will be a larger more visible amount of new growth. I once stretched my relaxer for 20 weeks which resulted in a lot of shedding and was more difficult than beneficial. I find 12 weeks is the perfect frequency for me to enjoy the benefits of stretching without getting frustrated.

Moisturize and seal

When I started, I would moisturize and seal every day religiously, but recently I’ve discovered that my hair doesn’t need as much product or to be moisturized as frequently. Instead, I examine my hair in the morning to see how it feels. And now I use less product and moisturize and seal about every other day. I divide my hair into four sections and apply a small amount of Ettenio Creme de la Creme to each section, my front hairline and my nape. Then I give it a light comb through with my wide tooth comb to distribute the product.

I first learned about this product from Island Essence and Vivianna from Hair Therapy for Jamaica on Youtube. It contains natural ingredients, its locally made, its rich, creamy, a little goes a long way and most importantly it makes my hair feel moisturized and amazing. I’m on my fifth bottle and you couldn’t pay me to try a different moisturizer.

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Miss Dawn’s Jamaican Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil and Ettenio Creme de la Creme Moisturizer

 

Next I apply a small amount of coconut oil to each of the four sections, my front hairline and my nape to seal in the moisture and give it a light comb through with my wide tooth comb. After that I proceed to style my hair for the day.

You can buy virgin coconut oil in beauty supply stores now, its all the rage in hair care. But they charge an arm and a leg for it. I prefer to go to the coconut industry board and get a large bottle of Miss Dawn’s Jamaican Cold Pressed Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil. It works just as good as the stuff in the beauty supply store.

Weekly Wash Day

Every week I wash and deep condition my hair. Yes, every, single week. Ok so there have been one or two times that I was on vacation or feeling super tired and I didn’t do it but those are rare. Sunday is my usual washday and I start by shampooing my hair.

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Creme of Nature with Argon Oil From Morrocco Sulfate-Free Moisture & Shine Shampoo and ORS Olive Oil Creamy Aloe Shampoo

I wash my hair with one of two shampoos. Once a month I use  ORS Olive Oil Creamy Aloe Shampoo to clarify my hair and rid it of all impurities. This is a product I used even before I started my “hair journey”. I find it clarifies without leaving mr hair feeling like dry coconut trash as many clarifying shampoos tend to do. In the other weeks when I’m not clarifying, I use Creme of Nature with Argon Oil From Morrocco Sulfate-Free Moisture & Shine Shampoo which simply melts tangles out of my hair and leaves it feeling moisturized.

After shampooing, I give my hair a gentle squeeze to get rid of excess water and apply a deep conditioner and a plastic cap.

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Aunt Jackie’s In Control Moisturizing and Softening Conditioner and Loreal Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm.

About 6 weeks after a relaxer, I find it necessary to part my hair in small sections and apply the deep conditioner directly to my new growth to aid in softening it. This does wonders for new growth management. But for the first 6 weeks, I don’t find this necessary and I just apply the deep conditioner in four sections. The product I use depends on how my hair feels. Most of the time my hair wants moisture moisture and more moisture so I use the Aunt Jackie’s In Control Moisturizing and Softening Conditioner. Its silicone free, so it doesn’t give you that feeling of “slip” but after I wash it out, my hair feels ultra soft.

On weeks when my hair feels like it needs moisture and some protein I use the Loreal Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm. It leaves my hair feeling moisturized but strengthened.

I either deep condition under a dryer for 20 minutes, leave it on for an hour or more without heat, or keep it on overnight (if my husband is away. See my last post).

After deep conditioning I rinse the conditioner out and dry my hair gently with one of my husband’s old T-shirts. T-shirts put less friction on your hair than bath towels. I wrap my hair in my Turbie Twist and leave it on for at least 30 minutes to absorb most of the moisture, longer if I have time. After I remove the turbie twist, I apply my Aphogee  Keratin and Green Tea Restructurizer to give my hair a little dose of protein, comb it through in sections, moisturize and seal and put it in a bun.

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ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer

Drying my hair in a bun takes longer but I find it gives me a sleek, soft, less frizzy result.

Protective Styles and Avoiding Heat

In addition to the things I’ve outlined above I try to comb my hair ways that do not leave my ends exposed like buns. I also avoid the use of heat wherever possible and reserve the use of heat tools for special occasions. This helps to prevent split ends.

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