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Hair Shrinkage: How to Manage It

When you go natural, there are a lot of things that people tell you. They say, “It’s a great decision, all the chemicals in relaxers are harmful to the body. They inform you that, “Being natural is empowering and gives you a new found sense of pride.” These things and so much more are very true; being natural is a beautiful thing. But of all the insights and tips that people give, there is one aspect of the lifestyle that many do not mention- shrinkage.

If you don’t understand what I mean when I say shrinkage, here is a very simple definition: It is the difference in the look of your hair when it’s dry (usually shorter and less defined curls), vs. when it’s wet and gently stretched. It is very real; just ask any woman who has been natural for a few months. While people experience different degrees of shrinkage, it can be frustration nonetheless. Especially after getting out of the shower having just washed your hair and seeing how the curls hang. They may sway at your shoulders, but by the time your curls dry, they have shrunk to your ears.

There are things you can do to help with the shrinkage and a lot of naturals employ different methods and techniques to maintain your length. Here are a few things to try.

Product

Many natural hair products promise a lot of things. From moisturizing your hair to keeping it strong and healthy, there is a cream, spray or lotion for just about everything. With that, you can find items on the shelves of your local department store and online, of course, that will help prevent shrinkage. Au Naturale  Anti- Shrinkage by Dark and Lovely is a good one to try.

Twisting

This method is a popular one. When it comes to combating shrinkage, twisting your hair will definitely give you more natural length. Just section off your hair into 4- 8 segments and make sure you use a good product to help the hair twist better.  You want to let your hair dry a little bit too because twisting it straight out of the shower will take a long time to dry. And what’s worst than shrinkage is a damp twist out. You will not get the results that you want.

Rollers

Depending on the type of length you want, you can use rollers to combat shrinkage as well. I suggest doing it while your hair is damp because your hair will set better. You can use rods or plastic rollers, it’s up to you. Your hair won’t have the coiled curls, but you will not have to worry about shrinkage, which for a lot of naturals is what they most want to prevent.

The Roots

One of the best ways to stop shrinkage is to blow dry your roots. What this does is open up your cuticle making it easier for the cuticle to expand. Lifting the roots will tremendously help with shrinkage. You want to make sure, however, that you don’t use too much heat. If you are one who doesn’t mind a little bit of heat (some naturals stay away from it completely) then this is a viable option that may give you the exact results you are looking for.

When it comes down to it, working with your hair is all about trial and error. If you experience shrinkage and wish you didn’t have to deal with it as much, these are just a few ways to help you better manage your hair.

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Beach Days- How to Protect Natural Hair

The summer months are upon us and you know what that means- beach days. From now until sometime in September, naturals will be flocking to beaches across the world. Most women probably don’t think about how the ocean will affect their hair, but if it’s not on your radar, it’s a good idea to consider your tresses in all of your beaching plans.

There are a lot of things naturals have to remember about when it comes to hair maintenance. Yes, it is great to have the versatility, but for a lot of naturals, it is a constant struggle to take proper care of your hair. Whether you forget, don’t know how or just don’t feel like it, what you do and don’t do will always show. That’s why it’s so important to have a beach routine for your hair. Yes, that is right; here is yet another routine you have to remember in order to ensure healthy hair that doesn’t succumb to the elements of the ocean and the sky.

So here are some suggestions to help keep your hair in tip-top shape during the hottest months of the year.

Pre-Treat

This can be done with a good oil. Coconut oil is ideal to use the night before because it’s known to lock moisture into your hair. It can also create a barrier for your hair that helps keep it hydrated, which is extremely important when being in the sun for extended periods of time. Doing it the night before is the best way to give your hair the pre-beach treatment it needs to remain strong.

Conditioner

There are some leave in conditioners out there that have SPF. This is a great option because just like your skin needs protecting from the UV rays of the sun, so does other parts of your body, including your hair. Look at it as sunscreen for your hair. Sun Bum 3 in 1 Leave-In Hair Conditioning Treatment is a good one.  It has everything from coconut oil and quinoa protein and is paragon free. It’s a winner all around and can greatly help your hair during your next beach party or pool gathering.

Protective Style

This is a good idea to prevent tangling. I personally don’t believe that a protective style can really protect your hair from elemental damages. A lot of times, these hairstyles can make you lackadaisical in caring for your hair. When it comes down to it, it is just as important to rinse/wash your hair afterward if you are wearing braids at the beach, as it is if you’re not. But sometimes naturals forget that. Nonetheless, a good protective style in this situation is a high bun, which allows for less of your hair to be exposed to the salty ocean water.

Wash… Immediately

Do not wait hours after coming from the beach to wash your hair. Just like you have a pre-beach routine, you need to have a post-beach one as well. This should include using a clarifying shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner. You can even do a deep conditioning treatment to really help replenish your hair.

Going to the beach is fun, but dealing with the after effects of what the activity does to your hair can be a hassle. However, if you take the proper precautions and implement some of these suggestions, your hair will be in much better shape after it’s all said and done.

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Doing Right By Our Daughters: Tips for Managing Their Hair

Let’s talk about our children. They are the light of the world. Hey, they are the future! We have to teach them well and let them lead the way (okay I’m done). One of the best things we can do for our kids, especially for our daughters, is teach them how to take care of their hair. In today’s world, more and more mothers are opting to forgo kiddie perms (relaxers) by keeping their girls hair natural. This, in my opinion, is the best thing to do. However, while you are trying to keep her hair chemical free, are you doing the right things to it? Are you making mistakes that can damage her hair in the long run?

It is tough, I know. You want to give her every chance to have healthy, strong hair. Starting your girl off young with the right routine and habits will only serves her in a positive way as she matures into doing her own hair. In the process, you learn things that you pass on to her, but isn’t it better to know some things not to do in the first place?

Her are some tips to help you better manage your daughter’s hair now in the hopes that she will learn how to take care of it later.

No Weave

This is my biggest pet peeve with mothers. As an adult, your hair is stronger and just different from your child’s. This means it can handle certain things that hers cannot. One of the moves to reconsider is putting weave in her hair. I know it may seem like a good idea and she may even beg you to do it, but trust that the better option is to wait until she is older. I suggest around 10-years-old. More times than not, adding weave to her hair will break it off and definitely affect her edges. I cannot tell you how many young girls under the age of 10 I’ve seen with thinning hair because their mothers keep weave in it. Protective styling is important, but it can most certainly be done without the use of weave. Period. It is just something to consider.

No Neglect

Your child’s hair is still growing and with that, it needs to be nurtured. I know that it can be hard to give your daughter’s hair the attention it needs when you have your own to worry about, but hey, that’s life. Being an adult means making sacrifices for your kids. That may mean staying up later, buying better products and putting in extra time on the weekends. Whatever it means, just do it.

Yes Scarves

If you let your kid go to sleep without covering her head with a satin or silk scarf, you are doing her a disservice. Just like this kind of neglect can have adverse affects on your hair, it will do the same or worse for your daughter. If you find that a scarf usually comes off in the middle of the night, then get her a satin or silk pillowcase.

Yes Products

Don’t use cheap products on her hair. If you would not use them on your hair, why do it to hers. I know that you may think she needs less or feel like, “It doesn’t take all that” because she is a child, but that is not true. Her hair needs the same if not more, tender love and care that you give to yours.

Your daughter is looking to you to do what’s best for her hair. Don’t let her down. Take care of her crown.

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How to Have Good Hair Days More Often

In the world of natural hair, this rings true for a lot of women- good hair days can be hard to come by. Sure, we have times when we know without a doubt that we nailed a twist out or wash-n-go, but those don’t last. Usually, we have to go back, retouch or re-braid, and who really has the time to do all of that?

While the coveted good hair day seems to elude a lot of naturals, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is so much that goes into maintaining natural hair. From the products we use to the routine we have in place, pretty much everything is strategic to ensure optimal results. But what if there are things you can do to guarantee good hair days more often?

Okay so maybe guarantee is a strong word, but knowing tips and tricks to make doing your hair a little easier and last longer can make all the difference in the world.

So here are some ideas to help make every day (or just about) a good hair day.

Plan For It

It should come as no surprise that this is number one on the list. Like everything else in life, you have got to plan to have a good hair day. This means doing the prep work the night before. When it comes down to it, you really can’t be lazy as a natural. Routine is key here. You hear us talk about it a lot because there is honestly no way around it. Having a regimen in place takes the stress out of doing your hair. Think of it as a map by which you travel the realms of your natural hair journey. It will guide you, protect you and keep you and your hair moving in the right direction.

Wrap it Up

Too many naturals go to sleep without wrapping their hair. This is never a good idea. You want to go to bed with a satin or silk scarf on your head no matter your hairstyle. Not only does this keep the hair in place, it also protects it. Friction between your tresses and the pillowcase can lead to breakage. It can also dry out your hair, so do the right thing and protect it at night.

Travel with Products

You know how you have a mini makeup bag with you to ensure that your face remains beat throughout the whole day? Well, it is a good idea to do the same thing for your hair. You can buy some travel size containers that you can transfer some of your favorite products into and keep it moving. When it really matters, and you know it always does, this is a fail proof way to make sure that your hair stays on point. The key here is to be ready at all times. Having your products with you will ease your mind and knowing that your hair is still in place will keep your confidence high.

Use the Right Products

Speaking of products, using the right ones are paramount to having the kind of hair day naturals dream about. You have to learn what is good for your hair; you know, what makes it tick so to speak. Understanding that aspect of the process is more than half the battle. Once you find the shampoos, oils, conditioners, etc. that work for you, keep them close at all times.

Everyone wants a good hair day. The notion may happen more often for some, but that doesn’t mean the idea is unreachable for everyone. Use these tips and you’ll be amongst the ranks to walk out of the house with the confidence that your hair has already won the day!

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Cherish Your Hair From the Earth

Let’s face the truth: all the haircare products in the world cannot replace the necessary nutrients and essential vitamins needed to grow your locks and keep your follicles beautiful. That’s why we’re going to be providing you with tips to completely change and positively enhance beauty and overall health!

Did you know that nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans) are a great source of biotin? Biotin promotes hair and nail growth; also oysters, eggs, salmon, chia & flax seeds, sweet potatoes and avocado are all fantastic sources of protein, zinc, iron, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, B and E. Protein is the building block of every cell and tissue-hair is not exempt. Protein, combined with essential vitamins, not only grows hair; the health, shine and strength is maintained by Vitamins B and E, fatty acids-found in avocados. Vitamin A, found in sweet potatoes, prevents brittle and dry hair, while Omega-3 fatty acids provide important nutrients for hair and skin

Of course, this should be used in conjunction with a well balanced diet and always contact your health professional before starting any new regiment.

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Protective Style Maintenance: Best sprays and oils for Braids

One of the best things about being a black woman is the ability to rock braids; long or short, beautiful, colorful braids. Our hair texture, whether relaxed or straight, is the perfect type for a hairstyle that is so much more than an ode to our ancestors. It’s a remembrance of our homeland culture. Braids, in short, are everything!

They are considered a kind of protective style within the natural hair movement. If you are not familiar with the term, simply put, a protective style gives your hair a break. Braids are a tried and true way to do that. They are simple, fun and super versatile. You can really never go wrong with them. Except for when it comes to caring for braids. A lot of women don’t take the time to properly maintain the style or clean their scalps and that can cause problems. From smell to feel, to look, you have got to give your braids some attention.

Now you can wash your braids. That is perfectly fine as a lot of women do that. The main issue with doing so, however, is that it can age them before you’re ready to take them out. The best way to clean and maintain your braids and keep your scalp healthy is with oils and sprays.

So here are a few for you to try.

Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Clarifying Scalp Treatment

This is a great product. Carol’s Daughter is a trusted name in the hair care community. Her line includes all kinds of products for a variety of needs. Thank goodness she has one for braids, giving them the benefits of a stellar brand. Her Mimosa Hair Honey Clarifying Scalp Treatment is the perfect scalp cleaner with its fragrance and effectiveness. It will cost you about $12.

Phyto Phytopolléine Botanical Scalp

This is a powerful product that will benefit your hair in a big way. With all of its botanical ingredients, Phyto Phytopolléine Botanical Scalp clarifies, soothes and calms the scalp, especially if it’s irritated or dry. It’s a good choice and will cost you $40 at Sephora.

Aesop Sage & Cedar Scalp Treatment

One of the things that many braid-wearers experience is a dry and flaky scalp. I don’t need to emphasize how embarrassing and irritating that can be. The best way to combat flakes as you wear your protective style is to keep your scalp moisturized. Aesop Sage & Cedar Scalp Treatment is ideal as the herb-infused oil hydrates in all the right places. This little piece of heaven will cost you about $35.

Curls Blueberry Bliss Hair Growth Oil

Formulated with blueberry extract, the Curls brand is an excellent option when it comes to the tools you should have in your hair regimen. Their Blueberry Bliss Hair Growth Oil repairs and restores your hair and is so good to your scalp. It has certified organic blueberry extract, pomegranate seed, Argan and gardenia flower in it and will cost you about $9.

Vernon Francois Scalp Nourishment Braids and Locs Spray

The goal when you have braids is to give your hair a break while also making it grow. Vernon Francois Scalp Nourishment Braids and Locs Spray is nice for this with its dry-finish. The non-greasy formula locks in moisture and works wonders on braids and locs. It will run you $24.

Braids are a fan favorite. Just as you take precautions and put effort into maintaining your hair without the braids, you have to do the same thing when you have them. It all goes a long way.

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The Update: Spring Tips and Changes for Natural Hair

While a lot of the country have been experiencing almost summer-like temperatures, the rest of us are still basking in the beautiful mild weather of spring. It’s a time to bloom, to get ready for summer and to change up your hair routine?

Many naturals change the way they manage their hair according to the change in seasons. This is not a bad idea. The change in weather brings changes in how the elements in the air impact our hair. We don’t realize it, but our hair acts differently in 100-degree weather and 55-degree weather.

It’s good to pay attention to what you are doing to your hair, and a little spring cleaning would do many of us some good. Yes, you can spring clean your hair regimen to ensure that your hair stays healthy and strong as you go from month to month.

So let’s updat things. Here are some tips on how to change it up a little bit for the warmer times of the year.

Go Lighter

During the warmer months, there tends to be less of a need for the heavy stuff. You know, creams, sprays, and butters. When it’s cold, it’s hard to find and keep the moisture. During spring and summer, incorporating something like glycerin, which acts as a definer and humectant, is a move in the right direction. It helps dissolves oils in the hair, which makes it a great accompaniment to getting the most out of the oils that you use. If you’re not a fan of glycerin, just know that you more than likely can go lighter with your products.

What’s Your Routine?

You may find that you need to do more of one thing and less of something else during the hotter months. Spring is a great time to update your routine. If you have never considered that or, gasp, don’t have a routine at all, let this time of the year help you get your hair life together.

Let it Flow- Air Dry

This is a good tip too. Just let your hair air-dry after washing. It’s called a wash-n-go. Don’t apply heat because it can lead to damage over time. Do apply product because you definitely need it. Summer and spring are ideal because the weather is just right to dry your hair in no time.

Anti-Frizz it

You probably don’t realize it (or maybe you do) but most women experience more frizz during spring and summer. This is the time to incorporate anti-frizz products like a mousse or a gel. The brands that work for you will likely have a product that is just right for your spring/summer hair care toolbox.

Protective Styles

Now is the time to get that favorite protective style. While it is true that women wear them during the winter, summer and spring are the times of the year where braids, extensions, and cornrows, are most in demand. I recommend this trusted staple because it allows the hair time to grow as it takes a break. If you aren’t sure about getting one for spring because maybe you want more time with your hair, then try it in summer.

It’s good to change things up every now and then. When it comes to natural hair, it can be tricky, but that’s where paying attention and taking some time out to be aware of what your hair needs come into play. They are effective keys to keeping it strong and healthy.

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Growing Your Hair: One Year in the Making

Oh, the things that can be done in a year. When it comes to your hair, sometimes it’s not given the attention and thought that it really needs. As a lot of naturals can attest, it can be hard to grow your hair the way you want. But what if you could reach your lengths goals, get your hair healthy and see amazing results all in the span of a year?

I know some folks will say, “A year, that’s a long time.” But with most things, you have to be willing to put in the work to see real results. Things will not always come easily and in the moments of frustration, you can choose to either abandon all hope or move forward and see things through. When it comes to growing hair, some people have it easier than others. That’s okay because there are steps that you can take to get your hair the length you want it to be. The question is, “Are you willing to do what needs to be done?”

If you want to see your hair flowing down your back, or just want to see more growth, and have had issues achieving this in the past, no matter if you have 4c, 4b or type 3 hair, it’s time to consider being in it for the long haul.

Let’s look at how you can grow your hair within one year.

Evaluation

This is the first step. You have to know what you are working with to know where you need to go. Take a good, long look at your hair. What is the current condition, how is it’s manageability, etc? From there, you can start the process of formulating a routine that’s catered to your hair needs.

Regimen

Which brings me to a most important aspect of natural hair care- regimen. I believe that this is a make or break. If you don’t have a plan in place for how to care for your hair, that is where you go wrong. After you evaluate your hair, it’s time to start the building process. Have the products you know will work on hand at all times. Have a set time for washing your hair (once a week, twice a week, every other week, etc.). Decided when you will do deep conditioning, hot oil treatments and more. Then stick to it! You have to be strategic and you have to pay attention.

Learn

If you don’t know much about hair it would behoove you to do some research. There are a plethora of tutorials, videos, articles and other information at your disposal at ALL times. Don’t go into it without knowing what you are dealing with. During this time of learning, you should find out what type hair you have, the porosity, what your hair is prone to and what others who have similar tresses to yours do to keep their hair healthy and that’s just to name a few things.

Re-evaluation

It is a good idea to look at your progress every two to three months. Remember that taking care of natural hair is a purposeful process so it is necessary to look at what you’ve been doing to make sure it’s working. If it’s not, then adjust your routine. It is so important to chart your progress and doing this “housekeeping” item will definitely help you see what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

You don’t have to wait until a new year to start your year of hair growing. When it comes down to it, you have to make a commitment and if you start the process in April, June or October, within 12 months, you should see significant growth.

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The Benefits of Hot Oil Treatments

Let’s talk about hot oil treatments (HOT). This hair subject doesn’t get the “shine” that it deserves. Yes, we know about deep conditioners, yes we understand the importance of protective styling and yes we have it down pat that we should never go to sleep without a satin or silk scarf on our head. We know the basics. But as with most things, you can never stop learning. This time around we are diving a little bit deeper into the amazing benefits of hot oil treatments.

If you haven’t used them or don’t know what they are, keep reading. Hot oil treatments are by far one of the most underrated hair care processes because a lot of women just don’t use them on their hair. HOT is great for hair that feels very dry, is breaking off or is in need of some real tender love and care. Now, there are naturals who feel like HOT is a waste of time, but that is totally not the case. They work wonders because they open up the hair cuticle, which allows the oil’s moisturizing properties to get deep into the hair shaft, giving it the extra penetrated and concentrated attention that it needs.

With HOT, you don’t have to spend a lot of money because, surprise, you can do it yourself (DIY). Don’t you just love how DIY can apply to just about everything in life? You can easily, cheaply and effectively make your own concoction at home with nourishing ingredients you find right in your cabinet.

So let’s talk about hot oil treatments and what they can do for you.

Process

Hot oil treatments are super easy and super effective. You simply heat the oil up so that it is noticeably warm. You can use a temperature that works for you. Then you dip your fingers into the hot oil and massage it into your hair, scalp/root to tip. You can then heat a towel; use a dryer or a shower cap on your hair to lock in the heat. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then wash your hair.

Avocado Oil

This little piece of heaven fruit is just a win all around. It tastes good and it’s good for you; ALL of you. If you are prone to dry and frizzy hair, avocado oil a great place to start. The monounsaturated fatty acids in this oil are ideal for your hair and help to improve scalp circulation, which helps stimulate growth.

Argan Oil

With a super sweet and pleasant fragrance, Argan oil works amazingly well for HOT. It hydrates your hair and leaves it feeling super soft. It also enhances elasticity. Who couldn’t use a little more flexibility in their hair?

Almond Oil

This is another sweet one. It will smoothen your cuticle as the vitamin E found in almond oil supports hair growth. Another great benefit is that it makes your hair shine because of vitamins A and B. Furthermore, the presence of omegas 9, 6 and 3 acts as protectants from UV rays.

Pre-Formulated HOT

If you prefer to buy store bought, already formulated HOT, that is perfectly fine too. The tried and true brands – Carol’s Daughter and Shea Moisture just to name a couple – have amazing products that will do the job for you. You just apply the same as you would the DIY treatments.

No matter what you decide to use on your hair, it is a matter of preference and what works for you. Hot oil treatments are so beneficial and if you don’t do them regularly, maybe it’s time to consider adding them to your routine.

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My Hair Stopped Growing… Why?

Our hair is precious to us. We put love and care into managing it. Whether you are natural or have relaxed hair, how it functions and its condition is at the top of our list of “things to care about.” With the effort and time we put into our hair, we expect a return. Yes, we expect the hair gods to give us good luck and flowing tresses when we’ve done everything in our power to be kind to our mane.

Hair care can be extremely frustrating because sometimes no matter what we do, it just doesn’t want to act right. This “misbehaving” can be in the form of breaking off, a lack of cooperation and a halt in growth. Let’s talk about the latter.

Some women have experienced an interruption in growth for one reason or another. It is annoying, it is distressing and it is extremely discouraging. When you have done everything you know to do but still don’t see the results you once did, it can make you want to throw in the towel altogether. But no matter the reason for your faltering hair condition, you can’t fix it if you don’t know why it’s happening in the first place. So here are some possible explanations as to why your hair has stopped growing.

What Are You Eating?

We all know the saying, “You are what you eat” but when it comes to your hair, what you put into your mouth can greatly have an effect on how it does or does not grow. You want to eat foods that are rich in vitamins like B and C so that you can get important nutrients to your tresses.

How is Your Scalp?

Are you paying enough attention to your scalp? This comes down to your hair habits. If you are not giving your scalp the TLC that it needs, it will most definitely affect the condition of your hair. Maybe you were doing really great at one point and then slacked off because you achieved the results you wanted. I hate to break it to you but in the natural hair game, you can’t slack off… ever! It’s tough but your hair needs the attention and neglecting to take care of your scalp with the right products will leave you feeling sorry and upset later.

What is Your Routine?

I talk a lot about routines because they are just too important not to mention them, pretty much, all the time. What is your plan for your hair is what I want to know? You have to know what you are going to do to your hair, when and how. This gives you a guide to follow and it helps you measure your progress.

Do You Have Underlying Health Issues?

When it comes down to it, sometimes there are underlying health issues you aren’t aware of that is taking its toll on your hair. The body has its way of telling us when things are not okay and we should really be thankful for that. One of the ways that it lets us know is through our hair. Hormonal changes and deficiencies, overproduction as well as other ailments can do everything from thin your hair to cause breakage. If you can’t find the answers for what’s going on with your tresses, maybe it’s time for a trip to the doctor.

Your hair is going to act and respond according to how it is treated. In those moments when you don’t know why things are happening, consider these things and proceed accordingly. Hair that once flourished and shine can definitely do so again.

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