Spring/Summer Color: My New Copper Red Natural Hair

Hello, lovelies! So things have changed a bit since we last saw each other…I’m a redhead again! But this time we went for a bright copper for spring and summer rather than my burgundy from last year. My inspiration was SZA, who is BAE in all things music and fashion. She rocked some copper red hair awhile back that gave me LIFE and I eventually decided I needed some version of that color on my head. It was a long day, but I loved the results and I’m happy with my choice.

Wanna see how I got this look? Keep reading!

My inspo for my new do! Pretty spot on, isn’t it?

I practice what I preach. I always recommend going to a stylist for any serious chemical alterations to your hair — relaxer, bleach, etc. ESPECIALLY if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’m great at styling my curls, but I am fully aware I’m all thumbs when it comes to doing anything drastic to them at home, and unlike some brave souls, I’m not willing to risk the health of my hair to experiment and figure everything out. I’d rather get it right the first time, with my stylist who has built years of trust with me.

So I went back to Jasmine, the same stylist who did my burgundy back in the day and who has been caring for me and my mom’s hair for years. Mom and I decided to go the Friday before Mother’s Day and make a mother/daughter girls day out of it. I had been keeping my hair in a bun to get it out of the way, so when we got there I took that bun down and attempted to separate my dry, stretched hair. When I got it somewhat presentable, I asked my mom to help me do a length check shot, which could also function as a “before” pic.

That thickness though…

As you can see, I’ve made a lot of progress with my length journey! My hair is not too far from hitting bra strap length, which I’m very, very excited about! I’ve been taking good care of it and babying the ends, particularly in the last couple of months, so it was wonderful to see my hard work pay off.

Next, my stylist gently brushed my hair out with a paddle brush, blow dried it semi straight, and then flat ironed it on low heat with very few passes to give my hair the stretch it needed so she could give me a MUCH needed trim. I trim my hair at home with my own shears, but I still believe it is necessary to have professional trims done by a stylist at least twice a year. Why? Because stylist shears are far more expensive (think $200-$300) than the $12 shears I got from Amazon, and as a result they are more precise. Stylists are also able to cut your hair into a shape as they trim, ensuring your hair falls nicely around your face when you wear it curly. My hair looks best with a few layers up top, so she cut those in and left the bottom layers of my hair long. As a result, I lost very little hair, less than half an inch in most areas. But despite the very small length change, my hair felt noticeably better than it had when we started. Having recently washed my hair, I can tell you detangling was a breeze and I lost a lot less shed hair during the process because my ends were no longer splitting.

My hair after the trim — it was split in two sections and clipped away to prepare for bleaching!

After that was all done, it was time to start the long double process to get my color. My stylist started with bleach first, applying it to my hair and rubbing it into the sections until my hair started to lighten. She didn’t use any foils, and despite this my hair started to lighten within about 10-15 minutes. I’m not 100% sure, since the tests for these sort of things never work for me, but I believe my hair was high porosity even before being bleached, so it took to the process really well.

After having lightened my hair a few levels (it was not a bright blonde, and was not in very long), she rinsed the bleach out and applied a permanent dye to create our base red. The permanent dye was able to simultaneously lift my hair a bit more and deposit color onto my strands. This sat in my hair for about 30-45 minutes. The permanent dye was then rinsed out, and a mixture of several semi-permanent colors (which contained no bleach or peroxide), were added onto my wet hair in the sink to create the perfect copper red that we wanted.

Chillin in the sink, trying to sneak a peek at my color with my phone.

That sat for another 40 minutes or so (told you this was a long process), and was then rinsed out. You’ll notice from the photo above that I did not bleach my roots. This was intentional and requested on my part, because it lowers the risk of the bleach thinning out my hair, and it also creates a more natural transition between my brown skin and this bright red color. I thought if I had the color at my roots as well, it would look a little too unnatural and drastic. Keep in mind I work in a corporate environment and I can’t go too crazy!

After the color had been in for what seemed like forever, it was rinsed with cold water and then styled in a very fluffy wash and go. It’s not the way I normally style my hair, but I enjoyed it at the time and it worked well in the initial photos I took of the color.

A Mother’s Day shot of my mom and me after our hair was done. ❤

Later, I dampened my hair with my spray bottle (I didn’t want to wash it too soon after having it done for fear of stripping the freshly applied color), and applied some EcoStyler Olive Oil Gel on top of the styling products that had been applied in the salon to give my girls more definition and elongation.

 

As you can see from all the pics, this red looks very different depending on what lighting I’m in. At home, it looks like a dark fiery red. In sunlight/bright white electric lights, it looks like more of on orangey copper shade. I love it no matter what angle i see it in and am so happy I made the choice to go back to color. It absolutely comes with risks and it does need to be cared for more thoroughly than virgin hair, but because I’ve done all this before (see my previous experiences with color HERE), I feel confident that I can care for it without much trouble.

Since red colors in general tend to fade and run much faster, I’m taking care to wash with gentler products and to not wash too often. I’ve recently repurchased the DevaCurl Decadence line, which featured in my routine when I last colored my hair, and will be doing a review following my Camille Rose series so that you can see how the products work and decide if they’re right for you!

I hope hearing about my process was helpful to you, and that this helps those of you considering dyeing your hair for the summer!

Have you colored your natural hair before? Did you find your hair became extremely damaged, or harder to care for? Would you do it again? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Camille Rose Naturals Haul + Why I’m Back on the CG Method

Hey lovelies! So if you’ve been following my FB page or my IG (and really, why wouldn’t you? The links are on my homepage!) you’ll know that I recently indulged in my product junkie tendencies and bought a bunch of new stuff from Camille Rose Naturals. They had a sale on their site, and for two days all of their products (yes, ALL of them) were $10. This was kind of huge because Camille Rose is known for being a relatively pricey brand. Their hair gel is $22, and most of their butters and creams are in the $16-$20 range. Getting those products for $10 was a total steal.

 

 

Now, I dislike haul videos and posts on principle. Too many of them are made with the sole purpose of the blogger in question bragging about how much money they have or how many cool things they bought. I didn’t buy a massive amount of products, and I’m not here to brag about how much money I spent. I’m sharing what I got because I plan on reviewing most of these products at some point, and because I splurged on them for a very specific reason…this brand is pretty much entirely Curly Girl Method friendly. And lately going back to the CG Method has seemed like a good idea for me and for my curls.

I stand by what I’ve said in previous posts. Silicones are not inherently bad for you or your hair, and if you want to use products that have them, your hair won’t necessarily suffer for it. However for me, the harsher shampoos that were required to remove all those silicones were doing a number on my hair. It also didn’t help that my hair was drying out while I was going through a very cold NYC winter. I retained a lot less length than I would have hoped for because of this. So I’m going back to what I know works to keep my hair moisturized without having to use anything harsh. The CG method is how I started my natural hair journey, and I think it’s how I’m going to continue it for awhile. I’m also coloring my hair in the near future (stay tuned for details!), and I would never use sulfates on colored hair because it would strip the color and further dry out hair that has been damaged by bleach.

With all that said, let’s get on to what I actually purchased!

Almond Jai Twisting Butter — I’ve been using this for a long while, so this is the only product in my haul that I had used prior to purchasing. I have lots of experience with this one, so it’s likely to be the first product of this list to get reviewed.

Curlaide Moisture Butter — This is similar to the twisting butter, but functions as a moisturizer rather than a styler. I needed to this to replace my silicone filled moisturizer from TGIN.

Algae Renew Deep Conditioner — I’ve heard mixed reviews on this one, and at regular price, I wasn’t willing to risk it not working on my hair. On sale, however…it’s at least worth a try.

Marula Swirl — This is one of their custom blend deep conditioners. If you follow the brand on Instagram, you’ll occasionally see these jars being handed out when they do pop up shops and other events. It’s not always available on the site, so when I saw it was in stock, I decided to try it and see what all the fuss is about. It seems to consistently be in high demand.

Ginger Vanilla Body Butter — The only product I bought that isn’t hair related! My skin is very dry, and I decided to experiment with using body butters instead of lotion in the hopes of giving my skin an extra dose of moisture.

And there you have it! As I said before, my “haul” was relatively small compared to most. I’m so looking forward to playing with all of these and sharing my experiences with all of you! I’ll also be working on posts related to coloring my hair and how to care for bleached natural hair. This will be my third time bleaching my hair, so I’ve got some experience on how the process works and how to do it without destroying your hair.

Which Camille Rose products are you excited to see reviewed? Do you have questions about coloring natural hair that I might be able to answer in an upcoming post? Let me know in the comments and on the Facebook page!

 

My Length Retention Regimen for Spring 2018

Hey loves! I’m back again, but we’re taking a quick break from the product reviews to get into some general hair care stuff!

You don’t have to know me for very long to learn that I’m a flighty, crazy Gemini. My mood changes with the wind and I’m consistently inconsistent on most things. I try my hardest not to allow this to apply to my hair, because I know consistency is the key to seeing results and finding out what does or does not work for you. However, like everyone else I have my moments…

I went through a period in the winter where my hair was all over the place. Winter here in NYC has been extremely cold this season, and my hair suffered for it. I taught myself how to get it into updos to keep it out of the way as much as possible, but I missed having it down and in my face. My signature look is a side part with fluffy bangs and my hair in a big halo all around my face, so everything else feels strange to me. So as it slowly started to warm up a bit, I went back to my wash and gos, which are still my favorite style. But it is still winter and between all the gel I was using and the fact that my hair is very dense and tightly coiled, I was ending up with dry, tangled hair every wash day. It was taking longer to detangle and I was losing more hair than usual. I’ve learned that this comes with the territory as my hair grows — right now my hair is sitting somewhere between armpit and nipple length, which means it’s much easier for it to get knotted and tangled than it was when I last cut it.

One of my recent wash and go’s. Note the crazy shrinkage and how dense my hair is — this is what leads to tangles!

This led me to reevaluate my routine a bit, particularly my style options. My hair was in desperate need of moisture and stretching. So I went back to an old standby that I always used to stretch my hair when it was short — twist outs!

A two-strand twist out done not long after the wash and go. Notice how much longer and thicker the hair looks when stretched.

These are great for a few reasons:

  1. I almost always do small twists (each section is about an inch wide), so I can wear my hair in those twists for a few days before taking them down. This protects my ends and means that for days I literally don’t have to do anything to my hair — I just tie it up at night and take the scarf/bonnet off in the morning.
  2. When the twists are taken out, the hair is nice and stretched, which makes it fall better and frame my face differently.
  3. Because the hair is in chunky sections from the twist out, it’s much harder for it to tangle into itself. As a result, detangling is much easier on wash day.

This advice has made the rounds on YouTube, but I’ve been too OCD and impatient to listen. When your hair is giving you a hard time, find a style your hair likes and leave it alone. I twist my hair once a week on the same day that I wash it and from there I interact with it as little as possible. A few days later I may take the twists down, and if it frizzes too much or I don’t want my hair in my face anymore (this happens a lot because I go to the gym frequently) I gently slick it up into a bun, without using any gel and without pulling my hair tightly.

Example of a bun created from an old twist out. No slick edges, no baby hairs. Just a cute quick bun with minimal effort that lasts me the rest of the week and keeps my ends tucked away.

So far this regimen works best for my lifestyle — I work, and I lift at at the gym, so low maintenance is key right now. I don’t have time to spend hours doing my hair and I can’t keep fixing self inflicted damage if I expect my hair to ever hit bra strap length. I’m going to keep this up for the rest of winter and the beginning of spring, and at some point I’m going to head to my stylist to get my hair shaped into something presentable. I may even *gasp* try some color! I don’t think I’ll bleach my entire head again anytime soon, but I would like some highlights…

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, these are the products I’ve been using:

Carol’s Daughter Rhassoul Clay Shampoo and Conditioner

TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask (review here)

Jane Carter Leave-In Conditioner

Grapeseed Oil

TGIN Butter Cream

Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter

Mixed Chicks Clarifying Shampoo (once a month, to remove buildup)

It’s a much shorter list than what I used to use for my hair, which means I’m saving money as well as time. I’m really looking forward to seeing if this helps me retain more length, and I’m also excited to get my hair cut into a shape since it’s grown SUPER uneven in the last few months! As always I’ll take lots of pics and describe the process when I go!

What are some of your tricks for retaining length? How do you revamp your style when your hair is in a slump, especially inthe colder months? And do you have any plans to change your cut/color for spring? Let me know in the comments!

Review: TGIN Shampoo + Conditioner Duo

Welcome back, curly ladies and gents! I had initially thought this review would be my last one for TGIN, since I was only really interested in trying their shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask. However, I’ve recently tried their butter cream as well and have a lot to say about it, so expect a review of that at some point. But for now, let’s focus on the task at hand and discuss the shampoo and conditioner!

These products can be bought individually, but you can also buy them as a duo, hence the title of the post. I recommend doing this because if possible you should ALWAYS use a shampoo and conditioner from the same line, or at the very least the same brand. These products are formulated to work together to rebalance your hair’s pH levels after cleansing, and are made with the intent to work together, not to be mixed and matched. It’s fine every now and then to just use whatever’s on hand if you’re in a pinch, but in general, aim to pair these two products by brand and by specific line if possible. You can always mix and match with your other hair products, like your deep conditioner, moisturizer, and stylers.

So, with that out of the way, let’s start with the shampoo and list out some stats you might be interested in. All the info below is, as usual, from the TGIN website itself.

Product Name: TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo For Natural Hair

Amount in Container: 13 ounces

What it Does:

“This unique formula is enriched with coconut oil to gently cleanse your hair, and amla oil to reduce breakage and increase moisture retention. The result is healthy hair that is left feeling soft, smooth and moisturized.”

Ingredients: AQUA (PURIFIED WATER) INFUSED WITH PHYLLANTHUS EMBLICA FRUIT (AMLA) EXTRACT, VACCINIUM MYRTILLUS (BILBERRY) EXTRACT, SACCHARUM OFFICINARUM (SUGAR CANE) EXTRACT, ACER SACCHARUM (SUGAR MAPLE) EXTRACT, CITRUS AURANTIUM DULCIS (ORANGE) FRUIT EXTRACT, AND CITRUS MEDICA LIMONUM (LEMON) FRUIT, DISODIUM COCOAMPHODIPROPIONATE, SODIUM C14-16 OLEFIN SULFONATE, POLYSORBATE 20, COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE (DERIVED FROM COCONUT), SODIUM COCOYL ISETHIONATE, DECYL GLUCOSIDE, POLYQUATERNIUM-10, CITRIC ACID, PHENOXYETHANOL, FRAGRANCE, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, EDTA DISODIUM, PANETHNOL (PRO VITAMIN B5), TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E).

Price: $14.99

Curly Girl Method Friendly: Yes!

The shampoo and conditioner in this line both have the same scent — it has a smell that reminds me of apples or pears and is sweet and light without being overwhelming. The shampoo lathers very well despite being sulfate free, and my scalp does feel clean after using it. However, I’m spoiled by my Carol’s Daughter Rhassoul Clay, and I do find that the TGIN shampoo tangles my hair a bit too much. It doesn’t have enough slip to keep my strands separated. That normally wouldn’t matter since shampoo is NOT a detangler, and a good conditioner can make up for the tangling you may get from cleaning your hair. However, the conditioner…well we’ll get to that.

Product Name: TGIN Triple Moisture Replenishing Conditioner For Natural Hair

Amount in Container: 13 ounces

What it Does:

“tgin Moisture Replenishing Conditioner is the perfect pick me up for even the most dry, damaged hair. Our special formula is enriched with shea butter and sweet almond oil to hydrate, smooth and repair strands with every use. The result is healthy hair that stays soft, moisturized, and easy to manage.”

Ingredients:AQUA (PURIFIED WATER) INFUSED WITH CAMELLIA SINENSIS (GREEN TEA) LEAF EXTRACT, COCOS NUCIFERA (COCONUT) OIL, HONEY (MEL), HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL, ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (ROSEMARY) LEAF EXTRACT, THEOBROMA GRANDIFLORUM (CUPUACU) BUTTER, BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA BUTTER), ARGANIA SPINOSA (MOROCCAN ARGAN) KERNEL OIL, PRUNUS AMYGDALUS DULCIS (SWEET ALMOND) OIL, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, PROPANEDIOL, CETYL ALCOHOL, DIMETHICONE, BEHENTRIMONIUM METHOSULFATE, BEHENTRIMONIUM CHLORIDE, PANTHENOL (PRO VITAMIN B5), TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), PHENOXYETHANOL, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, DISODIUM EDTA, FRAGRANCE.

Curly Girl Method Friendly: No

Price: $14.99

Unfortunately, the conditioner is where this line falls apart for me. Despite containing silicones, this product doesn’t have quite the slip I need to detangle my hair with minimal breakage. Don’t get me wrong, it works and in a pinch I could absolutely use it and not tear up my hair, it’s just not as good as other conditioners I have that serve the same function. I think if my hair were less dense this would glide through a little faster, but since I have so much hair and it’s incredibly thick, not every conditioner will do for me what it does for other people.

Also, since it’s lacking a bit in slip anyway, I really wish they had just left the silicones out so that this could be a good curly girl method option. It would be nice to have some silicone free rinse out conditioners in my regimen to avoid product buildup. Since Shea Moisture was cancelled, I’ve noticed other brands don’t tend to leave that ingredient out the way Shea Moisture did.

Despite all my critiques, I do think these are good quality products that are fairly priced. Will I buy them again? More than likely not. I much prefer this brand’s deep conditioner, and I’m open to trying more things from them in the future. If you’re interested in trying this line, you can buy the shampoo and conditioner as a set for $19.99 on TGIN’s website, which is much cheaper than buying the two items separately. You can also find TGIN products in Target, Walgreens, and select CVS stores.

No matter your race, please consider supporting black owned businesses and shouting them out when you find brands that you like. It is so important that our community supports and uplifts, and part of doing that is investing money in the businesses that are working to provide products and services for us, and removing money from brands that disrespect us or our culture. Thanks for visiting my little corner of the internet, come back soon!

 

 

Relaxer Reflections: Was I Self Hating?

WARNING: This post contains old, poorly lit, badly edited photos of my relaxed hair. While I am cute, these images are definitely NOT, and are only presented here as a demonstration of how my hair used to be. Viewer discretion is advised.

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Relaxed, bleached in the front, and laid to oblivion at a Dominican salon.

In the last four years or so, natural hair has gone beyond being a trend. It is now past the point of being a cute look that a few girls have adopted and that fades as the media loses interest. Natural hair, as a concept, as a lifestyle, as a way of being, is now here to stay. It’s all over the internet in the form of blogs much better than my own that offer help, advice, and product recommendations. It’s in the beautiful black girls I see on the street, who are now much more likely to be rocking their curls and kinks than a relaxer or weave. It’s on the shelves of our stores, where whole sections are dedicated to products for our hair, with natural ingredients that cater to its unique needs.

This combined effort from bloggers, YouTubers, haircare companies, and everyday black girls has created an extremely passionate and informed community that we have never had before. From now on, anyone who wants to go natural will have years and years of blog posts, videos, and articles explaining exactly how to do so, and all the options will be presented to them immediately so that they can choose how to navigate their transition. I can’t tell you how much I wish this had been the case when I was a kid! If I had known how to do something other than put Blue Magic on my head and put it in a few big braids with barrettes, I probably would have stayed natural and not permed my hair at 12 years old.

However, with all this knowledge and passion comes a lot of negativity. There is so much criticism within our community — of ourselves, and of others who we feel are not as “enlightened” as us. It’s become so bad that the more zealous naturals online have been called “Natural Hair Nazis.” I hate this phrase, but I understand the frustration. Haven’t we all seen arguments break out in comments and message boards where people who  get relaxers or weaves are called “self hating” and accused of wanting to be white?

I’m not going to debate whether black girls who wear wigs and weaves are self hating or not — for me it’s a case by case thing and not something anyone should make a blanket statement about. But all the finger pointing does lead me to a question about myself…

Was I self hating all those years I was relaxing my hair?

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If I’m being honest with myself, the answer is yes. Here’s why.

I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood where I attended private school, and I was one of only a few (3 at most) black kids in my class. A lot of the bullying I endured as a kid centered around my race in one way or another. I wouldn’t say most of the kids who bothered me were racist — I wasn’t called the N-word or anything that extreme. They were prejudiced because for most of them, I was the first black girl they had ever had to interact with, and everything they knew of black culture was based on things they had seen on TV — criminals getting chased down on Law and Order, mugshots on the news, rappers and video vixens on MTV. They couldn’t understand why I wasn’t anything like those images they had seen. Why I “talked white.” Why I got better grades than they did. Why I liked to read so much. Why I was so incredibly passive and not “ghetto.”

But the thing they understood the least was my hair. Because it was always in braids and kind of shrunken, they thought it didn’t grow. And why was it so “frizzy?” Couldn’t I straighten it? In class pictures where every girl had long, waist length hair cascading down their shoulders and parted down the middle, my juicy braids and colorful barrettes stuck out like a sore thumb. I felt I didn’t belong, and I began to hate my hair.

I hated that it always looked short, even though when my mother helped me wash it, it was halfway down my back. I hated that on the rare occasion it was straightened with heat, using a flat iron or a hot comb, it would take forever because my hair was so thick, and then would revert within a couple of days. I begged my mother for relaxer for years. Thankfully, she waited until I was 12 and didn’t put those harsh chemicals on my hair when I was a small child.

For years, I was happy. My relaxed hair was easy to take care of, and stayed surprisingly healthy despite my barely doing anything to it.

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But then, in 2010, I started college. My new school was in Brooklyn, which meant I finally had a core group of black friends. And some of those friends were natural. The movement was in its early stages, and there still wasn’t a huge amount of info online at the time. One of my close friends had beautiful 4c hair that she always wore natural. She had been relaxed as a child, and transitioned as a teen. She used a combo of her own homemade DIYs and Carol’s Daughter products. She was never pushy, but explained the benefits of going natural and said she’d be there to help if I ever decided to do it.

I could have gone natural then, but was terrified of having short hair (I had HUGE hangups about having long hair that I’m still dealing with now), and I wasn’t patient enough to transition. In the end, it wasn’t until after a couple of years had gone by and I had been through some things that I chopped off my relaxed hair. I was on a journey of self love which I’ll probably be on in some form or another for the rest of my life, and loving my hair as it grows out of my head was part of that journey.

I’ve never hated being black — my parents made sure I took pride in my history and culture. But I did hate my hair for half of my life. When your only points of comparison on TV, in magazines, and in school are girls who are physically the exact opposite of you,  it’s harder to appreciate your own beauty. This is why representation in the media, which has improved drastically since I was a kid, is so important. It will be a determining factor for whether or not our little girls grow up with the same insecurities and self hate that some of us fell into when we were young. If I can make the little black girls in my life feel beautiful and equip them with the haircare knowledge many of us never got, then any trauma from my past experiences will absolutely have been worth it.

How was your natural hair received by your peers when you were a kid? Did that determine what you did with your hair when you grew up? How do you feel about media representation for our unique hair textures? Where can it be improved, what work still needs to be done? Let’s discuss in the comments here and on Facebook, shall we?

 

Review: TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask

Hello, lovelies! Finally back again with another review! It’s been too long…as usual.

If you follow me on Facebook (and really, why wouldn’t you? The link is right here), then you know I bought my own little starter kit of TGIN (short for Thank God I’m Natural) products while trying out black owned beauty brands.

TGIN trio

I purchased their shampoo, conditioner, and deep conditioner, the products I tend to lean on the most in my hair care routine. I wanted to see if these products were on par with previous favorites, and if they were things I could see myself keeping in my rotation long term.

It must seem a little backwards to start with the deep conditioner review since it’s generally the last step before styling in your wash routine, but if you’ve been following me for awhile you guys know that deep conditioners are bae for me. They are the biggest reason why my hair stays as healthy as it does, and if you held a gun to my head and forced me to relax my hair again, that is the main hair habit I would take with me when returning, kicking and screaming, to my childhood hair routine. So I figured it made sense to start with the product I stood to make the most use of before moving on to the shampoo and conditioner.

Alright, enough preamble! Let’s get to the facts! All the info below comes directly from TGIN’s website:

TGIN hair mask

Product Name: Honey Miracle Deep Conditioner for Natural Hair

Price: $17.99 (often on sale for less)

What it does: “tgin Honey Miracle Hair Mask is like an instant make over for dry, damaged or colored treated hair. This luxurious deep conditioner contains raw honey for softer, shinier tresses and jojoba and olive oils, which nourish and heal strands in need of repair. The result is hair that never looked so good.”

Ingredients: WATER, RAW HONEY, OLEA EUROPAEA (OLIVE) FRUIT OIL, SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL, ALOE BARBADENSIS (ALOE VERA) LEAF JUICE, STEARYL ALCOHOL, CETYL ALCOHOL, STEARAMIDOPROPYL DIMETHYLAMINE, GLUTAMIC ACID, FRAGRANCE, BENZYL ALCOHOL, EDTA, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, DIMETHICONE, METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE, METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE.

Curly Girl Method Friendly?: No

Their  instructions on how to use the product were pretty straightforward — after using their shampoo and conditioner, apply the mask, and then place a plastic cap over your head. If you’re using heat, leave it on for 15 minutes. If not using heat, leave it on for 35 minutes to an hour. This is how I usually use my deep conditioners anyway, so that’s exactly what I did with this one.

The first thing I noticed upon opening the Honey Miracle Mask was the smell. Which surprised me, because I have a horrible sense of smell and almost never notice how a product smells unless I go out of my way to get in close and sniff it. But the scent on this was strong enough that I noticed it right away. As you would expect based on the title, it smells exactly like highly concentrated honey. To me it’s a pleasant smell, just a tad overwhelming when you first open it. Nothing wrong with it, but something to be aware of if you’re more sensitive to smells than I am.

This deep conditioner has silicones in it, as you can see from the ingredient list, so if you’re following the Curly Girl Method, you’ll probably pass on this product. However, I think it’s the silicones that give this product the great slip that allows it to glide through my hair easily. I don’t use deep conditioners to detangle, I always do that with a rinse out conditioner while in the shower. But I could see myself detangling with this product if I wanted or needed to because it’s not too thick, and not too watery. It’s in that Goldilocks zone that allows me to get it through my strands easily but also allows it to sink in and provide some much needed moisture.

Generally, I prefer to use heat with my deep conditioners just to be on the safe side and make sure my hair is getting as many benefits from the product as possible, and this mask was no exception. I sat under my tried and true bonnet dryer for 15 minutes or so, and made sure not to stay under too long. I wanted to see what this could do in the time it stated on the jar, and I felt leaving it in for an hour would not give a fair assessment of how this works.

As soon as I rinsed it out in the shower the first time, I knew this mask would be on my repurchase list. This conditioner made my hair super soft, and also defined my curls and slicked down flyaways, making it MUCH easier to style my hair in whatever way I wanted once it was rinsed out. I was honestly surprised because other comparable brands had been disappointing me in the deep conditioner department (looking at you, Carol’s Daughter), and I wasn’t expecting much for the price. $17.99 may seem steep if you’re used to drugstore conditioners that cost around $8 or $9, but keep in mind this is almost always on sale somewhere, whether it’s Target, CVS, or even TGIN’s website itself. Most of the time, you won’t have to pay full price, and even if you do, the quality of the product is worth it. My hair has experienced less breakage, my curls pop when using it weekly, and despite the silicones in the ingredients, it doesn’t build up on my hair and cause scalp irritation. I clarify my hair once a month or so to remove any potential buildup, but haven’t experienced any issues between those washes.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is also a black owned brand. And when I say black owned, I mean that literally — unlike so many formerly black owned brands, TGIN is still under the control of its founder, Chris-Tia Donaldson, and has not sold out to a larger, white owned brand (no tea, no shade). So this product is a win both ethically and in terms of quality. If you’re in the market for an affordable natural hair line that is readily available and not overpriced, TGIN just might be for you.

But I’ve rambled long enough, I want to hear from you! Do you guys deep condition your hair? If so, how often and with what products? If not, why not? Let’s get a discussion going in the comments under the post, as well as on my Twitter and Facebook pages! In the meantime I’ll get to work on a shampoo and conditioner review for this line. Were they a hit like the deep conditioner, or were there issues that keep them from getting the same glowing recommendation??? Stay tuned!

 

Changes in My Hair Routine: A Quick Overview

Hello, lovelies!

I figured before we get into more product reviews, and more natural hair talk in general, it would make sense to update you guys on what’s changed about my hair routine since the 2nd big chop and my decision to quit using Shea Moisture products. When I say I rode hard for Shea Moisture in the past, I mean it — about 90% of all my hair care products were from that brand. But I was firm in my resolve to quit using their products after the ad scandal that rocked the internet. Like so many of you, I had no problem with SM wanting to expand their brand and market to women of different races and/or with different textures, but I did take issue with their complete dismissal of their core audience, the kinky haired naturals who put their brand on the map in the first place. I’m not doing a whole post on the issue because there are already so many of them, but I realized I didn’t want to invest money in this business when it’s clearly not checking for us anymore.

Lucky for me, the natural hair community was mostly united on this issue, and loads of articles sprung up offering alternative black owned brands to replace Shea Moisture. I had known of these brands, seen their ads, heard other naturals rave about them, but had never attempted to use them. Brands like Camille Rose Naturals, Mane Choice, As I Am, and Thank God I’m Natural. All of these brands have expanded and become more mainstream in recent years, but they still go out of their way to indicate that their products are mainly for black hair, which is much appreciated.

I’m still not quite at the level of product junkie-ism I was when I first big chopped and went natural (Lord, the money I wasted…), but I did cherry pick a few popular items to start experimenting with, mostly from Camille Rose and TGIN. Before we get into that though, let me give you a basic outline of my routine these days. The actual products used may change over time depending on my needs, but the types of products used and the order they’re used in does not change much. I think it’s consistency in the basic outline of your routine that will get results long term, and also show you where your routine is going wrong if you’re struggling.

So, without further ado, here’s how my routine (usually) works:

  1. Pre-Poo. My hair my be a lot shorter after my 2nd big chop, but it’s still long enough to get badly tangled if I’m not careful. Pre-pooing with coconut or avocado oil the night before wash day helps enormously with detangling once I get in the shower. It softens my hair and makes it easier to manipulate so that I deal with less breakage and shedding. This is especially important when I’m working with a week old wash and go, which will get far more tangled than, for example, a twist out.
  2. Shampoo at least once a week. I’ve found that shampooing my hair, as opposed to constantly cowashing, is the way to go if I want to properly cleanse my hair. Cowashing is fine for an in between refresher if I’ve been hitting the gym and my hair is frizzy, but it doesn’t replace shampoos for me at all. In other words, cowashes are optional, shampoos are not. I look for sulfate free, moisturizing products so that my hair doesn’t feel stripped or start breaking, and even if my hair does feel a little rough after washing, I have good quality conditioners to replenish the moisture that’s been lost.
  3. Use a rinse out conditioner to detangle. This has been my detangling method since the beginning. I drown my hair in conditioner (really, who uses a “dime sized” amount, anyway?), and then gently brush it with a Tangle Teezer or Denman Brush. I know neither of these are universally popular anymore, but they work for me. My hair is far too thick and dense to try finger detangling, so this gets the job done in a timely manner.
  4. Deep condition every other week or so. Now that my hair is not color treated, I don’t deep condition as often as I used to. Now it’s usually every other week, or just when I feel I need it. I’m still looking for good deep conditioners to replace my Shea Moisture ones, so if you have suggestions, let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page!
  5. Style as a Wash and Go (most of the time). Unpopular opinion — wash and gos work better for me than any other style. Yes, twist outs keep my hair slightly more stretched and therefore result in fewer tangles, BUT the style just doesn’t hold in NYC humidity the way a wash and go does. Eco Styler gel is still my ride or die — it plays well with all my other hair products, defines my curls well, and makes my wash and go last a week or more. Twist outs, if I’m lucky, last me 2 or 3 days. The extra manipulation of having to constantly restyle kind of cancels out the benefits of wearing my hair stretched. This may change in the winter when my hair isn’t constantly frizzing up, but for the summer, this has been my go-to style, with twist outs only being a once in awhile thing.
  6. Clarify once a month. I was basically following the Curly Girl Method when my hair was longer, not because I believed it was better than any other routine, but because it preserved my color. So I used no sulfates in my shampoos, and no silicones in my conditioners or styling products. Now that my hair is not dyed, I’ve introduced some silicones into my routine, and that meant adding a sulfate shampoo to clarify and wash out those silicones every so often. I only use that shampoo about once a month, and make sure to moisturize and condition my hair afterward to prevent damage.

Last but not least, here’s a shot of my hair in a wash and go, so you can see my progress since my haircut!

I know it’s hard to tell because of shrinkage, but it’s coming along nicely! My bangs especially are coming in fast. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that what I said is helpful to some of you. Stay tuned for more product reviews, and of course length checks as the months go on! I’d love to compare this shot to my hair at the end of this year!

My 2nd Big Chop: Why I Did It

I’ve been on hiatus for awhile, primarily because I had nothing new to say about my hair or my routine. I’ve been working jobs where I couldn’t dye my hair crazy fantasy colors as I would like to, and nothing drastic changed besides my roots growing in strong and my burgundy color fading into a coppery red.

…And then this happened.

 

 

Let’s discuss, shall we?

About two months ago, my hair started feeling…different. It was getting quite long, a little past APL (armpit length), but not quite at BSL (bra strap length). I was trimming regularly, deep conditioning weekly or bi-weekly depending on how busy I was, and basically incorporated all the good hair care practices I had always used to maintain my curls. But suddenly they weren’t reacting the same, even though nothing had really changed. My ends were tangled beyond belief ALL THE TIME. No matter how much or how gently I detangled, no matter how much slip my conditioner had, the part of my hair that was still bleached and dyed was not cooperating anymore. Instead I was getting HUGE knots which would then rip out of my hair causing breakage. I was losing more hair than I was growing, and my ends looked like crap despite regular trims.

I’m no stylist or hair expert, so I can’t say for certain why my hair began reacting this way. My guess is that the ends of my hair, the bleached part, had finally become damaged past recovery. These strands were more sensitive to the environment, friction from clothing, and general dryness than the rest of my hair, and there wasn’t much I could do to fix them. Even protective styling didn’t stop the endless tangling and breaking cycle. I knew I should cut my hair, but was hesitant because I didn’t know if I wanted to go back to a short hairstyle, I had hated the super short days post big chop when I went natural, and wasn’t eager to go through that again.

But upon further reflection, I saw the situation differently. Because of my new hair struggles, and all the extra length I’d gained from being natural 2 years, wash day had become hell. What was once a fun beauty ritual now felt like a chore to be endured, and one which wasn’t making my hair look or feel any better. I also knew that this time around when I cut my hair, I could be more creative with the type of cut and shape. I didn’t have to lose all my length, and my wash day would be much quicker and easier. I had been eager for the last 6 months to have my hair all one color, but didn’t want to dye it black. Cutting off the damaged ends would bring me back to my natural dark brown color without any more harsh dyes, and give me a clean slate if I wanted highlights at another time.

So I took the plunge last Monday. I cannot stress enough how much it helps to have a stylist who vibes well with you and knows what you want. I’ve been seeing the same person for about 6 years, so I wasn’t nervous about the shape of the cut or the quality of the work. I left super satisfied and happy.

I think I’m going to enjoy my 2nd big chop far more than I enjoyed my first. I vowed after cutting off all my hair to go natural that I would never fear a haircut again, and I plan to keep that promise. I’m going to rock this bomb cut in all it’s glory for as long as I like, and when I’m ready to grow it out, it will be as long and gorgeous as it ever was. I’m so happy and proud that  I’ve reached a place where I can feel confident in both looks, and that I’m past the obsession with length that still plagues so much of the natural hair community.

Oh, and speaking of that community…

Most of you have already heard what happened with Shea Moisture. I considered writing a post about it, but there are so many think pieces, videos, blog posts, Facebook posts, Instagram posts…there is literally nothing I could say about it that hasn’t already been said. If you look back at my oldest blogs, you will know I rode hard for Shea Moisture and most of my haircare staples came from them. All I will say is I’m deeply disappointed and will no longer be using their products. This is a great opportunity, though, because I’ve been experimenting with other black owned brands as I look for new things to fill my regimen, and product reviews will be on the horizon again as I find my feet. Thanks for sticking with me, and with this long abandoned page. We’ll talk soon!

Review: Shea Moisture High Porosity Shampoo

Before we get started, if you haven’t seen my previous post on the Shea Moisture event at Ricky’s NYC in Manhattan and the free goodies I received when I attended, please do so here.

Also, a quick disclaimer: I received this product in a full size bottle for free at the event mentioned above. However, the review is NOT sponsored! Shea Moisture is not paying or otherwise compensating me to write this, and all views expressed in the following review are my own.

I’m certainly not the first natural hair blogger to be all over the new porosity lines Shea Moisture has released — the internet was buzzing about this months ago. I remember being excited about all the new product lines when I first heard about them on social media. Back then, there weren’t many detailed reviews of any of the products, and what did exist on blogs often didn’t go beyond a celebratory description of the line’s release and a blurb explaining what stores it’s available at. Now, we have more bloggers and YouTubers contributing their views on these products. If anything, I’m a bit behind as these products don’t really qualify as “new” anymore. But I wanted to use them several times before giving my opinion, since I feel that with skin and hair products, it’s very important to give your body time to react to the new products it’s being presented with, and one or two uses just doesn’t cut it since you don’t get to see the product in different scenarios or view the potential pitfalls or added benefits of playing with its placement in your routine.

Sooooo, with all that said, let’s get to the review!

Oh, one more quick disclaimer: as a I rule, I ALWAYS, without exception, pre-poo my hair with coconut oil the night before I plan to shampoo it. My hair is both very thick and very dense, and any shampoo will inevitably tangle it and dry it out if there isn’t a barrier with lots of slip to help me along. While it could be argued this gives my hair a “boost” of sorts that makes shampoos work better, I would have to humbly disagree. Rather, it gives my hair a fighting chance to reap the benefits of the shampoo and be properly cleansed without tangling on itself unnecessarily. It’s not a big deal to me because it’s just part of my routine, but it’s still a factor in how my hair deals with pretty much any cleansing product I use, so in the interest of full disclosure, I’m explaining this now.

Okay, for real this time. Let’s go!

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Since going natural, I have mainly used Shea Moisture shampoos (with the exception of the one Carol’s Daughter shampoo I bought from the Monoi collection), so that is my point of reference for this one. Unlike my original go-to SM shampoo from the Coconut and Hibiscus line, which is almost clear and has a watery consistency, the Mongongo and Hemp Seed Oil shampoo has a thick, almost creamy consistency. It’s an off-white color and appears to have a pearlescent sheen when viewed in the bottle. This initially concerned me because I feared the thicker consistency would tangle up my hair, a common problem I face when shampooing. However, upon application, I found that the formula glided through my strands very easily, and the creaminess helped me get through my thick roots and loosen up the excess dirt and oil without excessive scrubbing.

Other reviewers have described this as being one of SM’s harsher shampoos, bordering on the harshness of a clarifying shampoo. This was not my experience. The coconut oil probably helped in this regard, but a really stripping shampoo would cut through that, anyway. I found the two products played well together, and upon rinsing my hair, it didn’t feel completely stripped. It certainly felt like it needed conditioner, but it didn’t feel damaged or like it was on the verge of breaking off. The result was clean hair that gave me a clean slate for moisturizing it with conditioner and a deep treatment, as well as the LOC method (if any of that was confusing, stay tuned for later posts, let me know what things need explaining/deserve a separate post!).

So, final thoughts. This is a perfectly competent shampoo. Personally, I am not all that particular about my shampoos. They all do the same job, essentially. As long as they are sulfate free and color safe (which all the SM shampoos are), I’m not too concerned with ingredients. This one did its job and did it well, and my hair has not suffered at all from it. If you are protein sensitive, your results may not be as positive, so keep that in mind not just with the shampoo, but with the entire high porosity line. However, if your hair has no reaction or responds well to protein, this shampoo is definitely worth a shot.

If I had to name one problem I have with this product, it is its lack of easy availability, and this applies to all of the products in the high and low porosity collections. Last I checked, they were only available at Target and a few beauty supply stores here and there. I don’t have a Target near me, so if and when I want to restock these products, I would have to either go out of my way to find one, or order them online. Both options are inconvenient for many people depending on where you live, so I hope that as the line gains some traction, it becomes available in more stores (CVS would be nice for a start!).

Stay tuned for reviews on the high porosity co-wash and deep conditioner, as well as updates on my hair, my wash day routine, and how I achieve the styles you see me rocking on Instagram! If you have any ideas or requests for blog posts, feel free to leave them in the comments under the post or on the Scared Curly Facebook page! Thanks for reading, and welcome to the new people who seem to be showing up here (at least according to my stats, lol). The posts around here are going to get a lot more consistent, pinky swear!

 

 

What Is My Hair Type, and Should it Matter?

This topic has been done to death in the natural hair community. I’ve seen countless YouTube videos, blog articles, message board discussions, and social media comment sections dedicated to this issue. However, since there isn’t really a consensus on how much or how little hair type should matter, and there are still sooo many naturals running around on the internet who don’t even know their hair type, I figured throwing my hat into the ring wouldn’t be so terrible.

Okay, so let’s start with the obvious — what is hair typing? This isn’t a full scientific analysis of black hair or hair in general, since I am not qualified to give any sort of analysis on either. In fact, the typing system that started all this isn’t entirely scientific itself. Andre Walker, a celebrity hairstylist who worked for Oprah back in the day, created his own hair typing system for women, with Type 1 being the straightest, and Type 4 being the curliest/kinkiest. Within those numbers are letters with more specific descriptions. Two new letters, Type 3c and 4c, were essentially added in by naturals who felt those categories weren’t well represented in the original chart. You won’t find them in Walker’s original book on the subject, but these two “new” types are very common in naturals and you will see those terms in every natural hair message board or article on this topic.

I’m not here to pull a Melania and plagiarize other people (yes I really made that joke), so I’ll just link the photos and descriptions for the hair types HERE. I love NaturallyCurly.com because their photos are the clearest and most accurate and they have good descriptions of each hair type. They also have a very quick and useful quiz to help you if you’re still stuck like I was.

But why do we even bother with the hair typing? Many naturals have stated that in terms of finding products and care techniques for your hair, typing isn’t all that useful. How your hair does or does not curl doesn’t necessarily effect how it retains moisture. Other factors like hair porosity and density tend to be good measures for how healthy or unhealthy our hair is, which is why natural hair lines like Shea Moisture are marketing more towards porosity these days than curl types.

The internet knows this. But the internet still has loads of people referencing their hair types in conversation. Why? Because like any other online community, the natural hair community has its abbreviations and “language” for lack of a better word that allow people from different places and with different experiences to communicate effectively and get advice. Hair type may not be the defining characteristic that determines my hair health, but if I wanted advice on a forum or a comment section about styling, it would be the quickest way to give an idea of what my hair is like, and can help more than a grainy, poorly lit photo sent to strangers to get an idea of what to do. So, in spite of the inherent divisiveness of the typing system, and the hierarchy that developed through texture discrimination, which is for another post entirely, the typing system CAN be helpful.

 

My hair in a fresh wash and go.
My hair in a fresh wash and go.

What’s my hair type? It took me FOREVER to figure it out. It doesn’t help that many naturals, myself included, have sections with different hair types all on one head! As my hair grew out from my big chop, it took a good 6 months to get a feel for what my hair wanted to naturally do and how it curled or kinked in various sections. So my rather confusing verdict at this moment is that my hair is mostly 4a. The front section that frames my face leans more 3c (it’s a mix, really), and the sides by my ears, the kinkiest sections by far, are almost 4b. The back is a VERY tightly coiled 4a that takes the longest to detangle and is the hardest to stretch when setting at night. Left to it’s own devices, the back would be a matted mess within a day of washing! That, in the nutshell, is my hair, and I love every strand on my head no matter what it chooses to do. Seeing my mother go natural  in recent months, and realizing she has the EXACT SAME change in curl patterns (curly in front, kinky on sides, tight in the back), strengthened my feeling that my hair was beautiful. Now it wasn’t just pretty because I liked it — it was pretty because my mama gave me her curls!

Now, the last important question: Does knowing my hair type effect my hair routine? Well…somewhat. Knowing what your hair can or cannot do can help immensely with styling. If my hair was 4c, for example, which is a kinkier texture where curls don’t clump the same way they do for other hair types, I wouldn’t be able to do a wash and go in the exact same way I do it now as a 3c/4a type. 4c naturals, for example, generally cannot wet their hair, pile on a bunch of gel to clump their curls, blow dry with a diffuser and be on their way. They CAN wash and go, but they can’t use the same method as every natural they see on the internet. By the same token, I’m not a 3a, which is a looser curl pattern that falls in more defined, consistent ringlets. So I can’t wet my my hair, throw in a cream with some coconut oil in it, shake and go like some 3a girls can. My hair needs gels to be defined the way I like because they weigh down my curls and force them to clump uniformly rather than frizzing, which they are highly prone to do if left completely to their own devices.

With all that said, after I started coloring my hair in July of last year, it wasn’t hair typing that helped me learn how to care for the health of my hair. My hair has thrived the most by understanding my porosity (again, needs to be covered in a separate post) rather than my curl pattern. Through that, I learned how to keep my hair moisturized for longer and how to work protein into my deep conditioning routine to keep my hair strong and prevent my delicate strands from breaking. So in order to put ALL the puzzle pieces together — hair health, hair care, hair styling — hair typing is a key component. Just make sure it’s not the only component, and that you do the research necessary to look after your hair’s overall health.