Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Transition Story

I just realized I never told my transition story. My transition started subconsciously. In 2005, I accepted a job that had about 40% travel. After dealing with unexpected trips to high-humidity areas ruining my freshly styled hair and numerous broken curling irons, I decided to wear braids to minimize the hair issues. Because I was wearing braids, I would go months without a relaxer and ladies who were braiding my hair would ask me if I was going natural. Honestly, it had never crossed my mind until they asked because I didn't know any other naturals and I never even questioned why I was going to the shop for perms. To me, it was just a normal beauty regime just like shaving my legs or plucking my eyebrows - all though now, it's all about threading :-) Then I started to notice how thick my hair was and I was struck my curiosity. As long as I could remember my hair was either pressed or relaxed. I was 28 years old and never saw my natural hair. That's when I decided I would grow it out and see what it looked like. I didn't know anything about keeping a hair journal or being on a natural hair journey, so I only have some pictures of my transitioning styles. As you can see, I had a great time experimenting with different styles. I admit I went a little overboard. It was so bad that people at my job knew when it was time for me to get a new style and they would stop by my desk and ask "so what are you going to do next?!"

Mirobraids were my favorite style. I love to curl the ends and pull my hair up.

This is a little hard to see, but I also had a thing for ponytails. I would get the front braided and changed ponytails to fit my mood and outfit. I would be curly and short one day and long and straight the next! I even experimented with highlights.

Crochet braids. Can't believe I thought that look was cute! Super curly and more highlights than I would normally wear. I'm so ashamed!

Sorry this pic is so small. As you can see, I took it with my cell phone. I was admiring my weave. This style was also braided in the front.

I loved the front of this style, but I really didn't care for the long wavy hair. I often wore the back up in a clip so you couldn't see that the hair almost came down to my waist.

Another small camera phone shot. I got the last 3 inches of perm cut off December 20, 2007 and this was also the last time my hair was straight. I guess this was more of a little chop :-)

The following month, my family and I went on a trip to Mexico. I had no idea how to style my new natural hair, so I got cornrows for the trip. This was the last time I went to a hairstylist and the last time I wore fake hair. Thank God too because the braids were too tight and I lost part of my edges. I don't have a problem with hairstylists, but it feels good to know I can style my own hair and I now know what I need to do to keep it healthy. It's part of my freedom knowing I'm not tied to relaxers or stylists.

February 2008, I took the braids out and decided it was time for me to learn how to style my hair. I washed it the way I always did, used my Lusters Pink Hair Lotion and tried to blowdry it using the wide-tooth comb attached to the blowdryer. I pulled out so much hair and my hair was a mess! I was close to tears when I realized that it really couldn't be that difficult. So I searched online looking for info and I found soooo many sites with helpful tips, but my favorite was Every problem I experienced, every question I had, was covered on that site.

So I got really comfortable wearing my afro puff.

Then I played around with the twistout

Then I got jazzy and started adding scarves and accessories.

I'm grateful to everyone who shared their journey with me, so that I could learn. I hope that my journey will also help others. Since February 2008, I have styled my own hair and I've learned so much in the process and I'm proud of the progress I've made with my styling techniques. I'll show more recent pictures in my next post.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Favorite Hair Products

I usually hesitate to give my favorite products because they periodically change, but as of now, here is my list:

Shampoo - Carol's Daughter Rosemary Mint Shampoo

Conditioners - Aubrey Organics. I like them all, but may favorite is Jojoba & Aloe Desert Herb. I use this for deep conditioning before washing (according to the instructions). I also love Jane Carter Solution Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner and I use that after washing and while detangling.

Leave-In Conditioner - Right now I'm loving Alba Leave-In Conditioner

Moisturizer - A mixture of Vegetable Glycerin with Rosewater. I probably mix about 2 parts of Rosewater to 1 part of Vegetable Glycerin. I also like to add a couple of drops of Rosemary or Basil Essential Oil.

Then I have products I use for specific styles. One of my favorite styles is what I call a "fluffy twistout" (see pic on the right). It's just a twistout made from large twists, but I use a product that doesn't have a lot of hold, so my hair is soft and fluffy. The downside to this style is to keep it fresh, I need to retwist it each night, but I don't mind because I love the style and because the twists are large, it doesn't take that long. My favorite product for this style is Jane Carter Solution Twist & Lock, but it's pricey so I also use Carol's Daughter Loc Butter (not as good, but ok) for that style and when I retwists it at night, I spritz it with my vegetable glycerin & rosewater mixture.

For twists, I'm currently using Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme. I like it because it holds my twists without making them hard. I'm not excited about some of the ingredients (it includes mineral oil) and in my opinion, it's too expensive (about $58 for 16oz jar, so I'm looking for something else. I also like Jane Carter Solution Twist & Lock for this style too, but that's also pricey for a small jar, but has better ingredients. When I wear my hair in twists, I also moisturize daily using Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In.

Other honorable mentions - Kinky-Curly Knot Today is a really good Leave-In Conditioner and Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle is a good conditioner that I use for co-washes. Giovanni conditioners are also very good. Tea Tree Triple Treat is their instant conditioner and Direct Leave In is their leave in condition. Both are really good.

Unfortunately, you'll have to try various products to find out what works best for you. That could be expensive since natural products (if you chose to use natural products) are more pricey than the grocery store stuff. Personally, I've tried some of the cheaper items and they don't work as well in my hair except I like the Suave conditioners for co-washing, but I like the Trader Joe conditioner better for that. If you were like me and spent hundreds of dollars for different styles (for me, it was micros), the cost of natural products is nothing by comparison. Also, I love styling my own hair and not having to run to the shop when it was time for a new do.

Cheap tip - I get some of my products (Aubrey Organics, Alba, Giovanni, Rosewater) from It's much cheaper there and shipping is only $4.95, so I order in bulk.