Harmattan, Winter and Your Hair

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Happy new year ladies,
I am surprised I haven’t written a post about this subject until now but better late than never I suppose. This year I intend on getting straight to the point in my blog posts so jumping right into it, I will be discussing the effects of winter and harmattan on our hair and steps we can put in place to reduce the risk of hair loss in cold weather.

How Harmattan and Winter Affects Our Hair?

Winter and Harmattan tends to leave our hair and skin feeling dryer and more brittle than normal. Some ladies’ skin and scalp becomes very flaky as a result of the cold dry weather. In harmattan, the high levels of dust in the air makes our hair get dirty much quicker than normal.

 

Why Should You Care?

You should care because dry brittle hair has a very high chance of breaking. Off course your hair won’t get shorter in just one day but if your hair is breaking in small amounts daily over the winter and harmattan months you may have lost a few inches by the end of the cold season.
In addition to this, hair grows best from a clean and healthy scalp rather than one clogged with dirt, dust and dead skin flakes. A clogged scalp may not be able to grow hair as fast or as healthy as it should be able to genetically.

 

What Should You Do

1) – Increase the frequency of your wash and deep conditioning
If wearing your hair out (ie without extensions) and you normally wash your hair every two weeks, you should consider washing and deep conditioning it once a week. This will ensure your scalp is kept clean and flake free. The contact with water and deep conditioning will also boost the moisture levels of your hair and scalp. Ensure you use a sulfate free moisturising shampoo rather than harsh shampoos that contains sulfates as these will dry out your hair even more.

2) – Be consistent with moisturising and sealing
If you sometimes skip on moisturising and sealing your hair, try to be much more consistent during the cold months. Moisturising and sealing regularly will keep your hair hydrated and give it the elasticity it needs to fight breakage.
Some ladies find that they need to moisturise and seal their hair twice a day during winter/harmattan. You may also need to review the products you normally use to be sure that they are still effective. Some ladies switch to using heavier/thicker moisturisers and oils/butters during this season.

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3) – Long term protective styling (wigs, braids and crotchet braids, weaves)
For ladies who may not have the time or simply do not want to wash and moisturise their hair more often, another option is to wear long term protective styles for some of the cold months. Long term protective styles usually involve using extensions to create a style that can be worn for 3 to 8 weeks depending on the style. Putting your hair into a long term protective styles will reduce the amount of time you spend on your hair daily however please note that long term protective styling can very easily lead to severe hair loss if correct procedures are not followed before installing, whilst wearing and when taking out such styles. To learn more about wearing long term protective styles safely click here and read the relevant posts.

Please also note that if your hairline and hair is very damaged and/or breaking, you should stay away from long term protective styling.
If you cannot wear a long term protective style for various reasons such as religious beliefs, you’re still in school and are not allowed to wear such styles, cash constraints (most of us have been here at some point, lets keep it real in 2018 😊) or if your hair is too weak or damaged to wear such styles, wear your own hair in short term protective styles that hide the ends of your hair and prevent them from drying out too much. If you love wearing hats and head scarves, wear them to the max (safely) in these months.

* Image source- Pinterest

 

If you are a regular on Hairducation you’ll know that I am a huge fan of wigs like the u-part I have on in the pictures in this post.  I wear them all year round and that is how I get through the winter/harmattan months. I am way too lazy with my hair to fuss with the way I would need to if I wore it out in cold weather. I make my life easier by simply putting it away in a style that I know my hair and hairline can tolerate….and in my case, that is wigs but I make sure I follow good hair care practices whilst wearing them. How do you care for your hair in winter/harmattan? Which of the options do you think you’ll adopt going forward?

In my next post I will share the first of many new additions and upgrades to Hairducation this year. Let’s just say we will be looking at hair in much more up close and personal way, some might find it a little bit too up close even but we will all learn soooo much from it. It’ll make much more sense when you read the post so come back soon.

X

Lade
Learn | Change | Grow

 

Hard Water and 3 Things You Can Do About It

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Hello ladies,

Something that my hair has been battling with since my return to the UK is hard water.  It has made my hair and skin care a little more challenging.  As many of my readers are based in the UK and the US where hard water is quite common, I thought it would be good to explain what hard water is, the effects it has on hair and how to combat its effects.

 

What is Hard Water

Hard water is water that contains dissolved minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, silica, etc.  The minerals in the water bond to the hair strand and creates a hard coating on the hair which makes it difficult for it to absorb moisture.  The more damaged and open your hair cuticles are, the more the minerals in the hard water will cling to your hair.
One way of knowing if the water in your home is hard is by looking at your taps and shower heads.  If there is a hard white-ish build up on your taps and shower heads. There is a likely chance that the water in your area is hard.

 

Effects of Hard Water on Hair

The minerals in hard water which bond to our hair can have the following effects:

  • It makes hair feel very dry, brittle and very prone to breakage
  • It makes hair more prone to tangling which often leads to breakage.
  • It can alter the natural color of your hair and give it a dull appearance.
  • It can dry out the scalp making it very flaky
  • It can make conditioning and moisturizing your hair difficult and less effective

 

Three Tips for Reducing the Effects of Hard Water

  1. Vinegar Rinse
    Diliuted apple cider vinegar has been used in hair care by many black women because it helps to return hair to its natural PH levels.  This helps to smoothen our hair , boost its shine as well as make it less prone to tangling.
    Apple cider vinegar also helps to remove the mineral build up in hair. Simply dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into one cup of water.  After shampooing and conditioning, pour the mixture over your hair as a final rinse.
    Pay attention to how your hair reacts, if you don’t like how it makes you hair feel you should either use a more dilute mix or stop using it completely.
  2. Shower Filter
    Another way to avoid the effects of hard water on your hair is to buy a Shower filter. This will reduce some of the minerals from the water that comes out from your shower head.  There are many options to pick from online.

 

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  1. Clarifying Shampoo
    Another way to remove mineral build-up from your hair is to use a clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoos contain ingredients which can remove stubborn products and mineral residue that have been left on our hair and which mild sulfate free shampoos cannot.Clarifying shampoos should contain chelating ingredients such as Disodium EDTA  or Tetraacetic Acid).  A shampoo that contains chelating ingredients and is widely available is Ors Creamy Aloe Shampoo.  I use this to wash my hair every 2 to 3 months.Chelating or clarifying shampoos are quite harsh and should not be used for regular/weekly washing even if you live in a hard water area.

I hope you have found this post educative and I hope it helps if you think you have hard water issues.
My next post will be a hair care from within one because how we care for our bodies can have a big impact on the hair our body grows.  So if you’d like to learn what you can do to boost the quality of the hair you grow, come back soon!!

X

Lade

Learn | Change | Grow

The Challenges of Fine Hair and Tips For Caring For It

Hello ladies,

One of the many terms that ladies seem confused about is hair fullness versus strand thickness. I hope to clarify this in today’s post. I will also share the characteristics of thin/fine hair and some tips on caring for it.

 

Hair Density or Fullness

Hair density is about the overall fullness of your hair, ie, the amount or number of strands of hair you have on your head.  As black women, we have an average of 100,000 to 110,00 strands of hairs on our heads.  Of course some ladies have a lot more or less than this

Hair density or fullness can be classed as

  • low density ( a lower than average amount of individual hair strands),
  • medium density (a moderate/average amount of individual hair strands)
  • high density ( a lot of individual hair strands).

Strand Thickness

The thickness of hair strands refers to width or diameter of each individual strand of hair. Strand thickness can be classed as

  • thin/fine,
  • medium or
  • thick/coarse.

Please note that it is rare to have perfectly even hair. Many ladies have a mixture of strand thickness and density.  So it is possible to have a mixture of fine, medium and thick strands on the same head although usually many ladies will have one predominant type.
Using myself as an example, I have mostly thick/coarse hair strands but the nape section of my hair has a mixture of fine/thin and medium strands of hair.

 

 

Characteristic and Challenges of Fine or Thin Hair Strands

Ladies who have mostly fine hair tend to face some challenges with their hair because of its thin structure. Some characteristics of fine hair include:

  • it tends to feels softer and more fluffy than thick hair
  • It may be harder for it to hold some styles because of its softness
  • It is more susceptible to breakage. The cortex layer( the middle layer) of hair is the part that gives hair its stiffness and structural strength. Fine hair has less cortex and more cuticle layer ( outer layer) and this is why not as strong and able to resist breakage as thick strands of hair.
  • Fine hair can become too soft and weighed down when heavy oils and products are put on it making the hair look stringy and difficult to style. Fine hair can be easily overwhelmed with hair products in comparison to thick hair.
  • Fine hair is more prone to tangling. When the cuticle layer of hair is raised and damaged from age, heat styling, use of chemical colors, relaxers, aggressive styling, etc, the raised cuticles tend to latch and wrap around each other causing hair strands to matt and tangle. As explained above, fine hair has more surface area/cuticle layer than thick hair so it is more prone to tangling. The more tangles a lady experiences the more risk there is of breakage.

It is more challenging to grow fine hair to very long lengths because of these characteristics.

 

Tips for Caring for Fine Hair

The following tips are also useful for ladies with medium or thick hairs however they are especially important if you are a fine haired lady.

  • Don’t skip your protein deep conditioning sessions.  Protein hair products boost hairs structural strength.  If you have fine hair, it should give your hair more body and stiffness so it can hold styles better too.  I am not saying you should only use protein deep conditioners though.  You should still aim to have protein and moisture balance.
  • Be consistent with your hair care. Fine hair is less forgiving to lack of hair care than thick hair is. Basically a lady with thick hair can get away with bad hair care practices more than a fine haired lady can. Ladies with fine hair have more challenging hair journeys unfortunately and lack of consistency will only make this worse. The sections of my hair that have fine hair are way more challenging to manage than the areas with thicker hairs and when I haven’t been good to my hair, that is the section it is most evident in.
  • Avoid using high levels of direct heat which will deplete your hairs internal moisture making it even more prone to breakage. Try to air dry as often as possible if you have thin hair strands.
  • Protective styling is especially important if you have fine hair. Fine hair tangles easily but protective styles will keep your hair in a confined or fixed state so that it is not able to move around and tangle as much.
  • Detangle your hair regularly and always finger detangle first before combing.

I am sure this post will help someone out there and I hope your hair benefits from it.  Do you have fine or thin hair strands?  Which of the challenges listed above do you experience and how do you manage it?

My next post will be another educative post about hard water, its effects on hair and how to overcome them.
See you soon

x

Lade

Learn | Change | Grow

My Updated Hair Regimen

 

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Hello ladies,

Something I try to stress often is that consistency with your regimen is important for ladies who are on a hair journey. Creating a regimen that your hair responds well to is the first aspect of a hair journey but you will not see significant improvements in the health, length and thickness of your hair if you are inconsistent with your regimen.
There will however be some points on your hair journey where you need to review and update your hair regimen and hair products.
Some examples of when it would be a good idea to review your regimen includes –

  • When your hair has grown significantly – techniques and styles that what worked for you at one length may not work as well at a longer length. Using myself as an example, when my hair reached bra strap length, I had to begin washing it in large braids to prevent tangling and matting during the washing process.
  • If you decide to transition from relaxed to natural or vice versa
  • If your products no longer seem to be working on your hair or you discover new ones that work better on your hair.

Over the years, my regimen has evolved in some ways.
I have changed some of my practices and techniques. I have also made some changes to my staple products. I will discuss what those changes are below but if you would like to see my full updated regimen click here.

 

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Changes in My Techniques and Practices

My Hair Regimen

  • I relax my hair every 20 weeks.  I now relax my hair every 24 to 27 weeks due to my increasingly busy schedule.  After relaxing my hair, I wear it out for about 8 weeks. From week 9 I switch to my wig regimen but leave my hair out occasionally when following my wig regimen.
  • Shampoo 1x a week (wash hair in 10 calabar/box braids) When I am wearing my hair out, I now wash it every two weeks. My hairs length and thickness makes wash day quite time consuming so I made a lifestyle choice to switch to washing every two weeks. I try to keep up with moisturising and sealing to prevent dryness and breakage.

My Wig Regimen

  • Hair kept in 20 16 box braids under Hair by Type 4 wigs. I decided to make the box braids slightly bigger.
  • Shampoo every 3 weeks.   I now wash my hair every two weeks when following my wig regimen. My hair is more texlaxed now than it was when I initially began my journey and I noticed that when I leave the box braids in for three weeks my hair is quite matted and tangled which means I used to have more breakage than was necessary. I decided to begin washing my hair every two weeks to prevent this tangling and breakage and it seems to be working well so far.
  • Moisturise and seal the box braids twice a week lightly every day. Over the years moisturising the box braids just twice a week was no longer able to keep my hair adequately hydrated so I began to moisturise and seal lightly every day.

 

 

Changes to My Hair Products

  • Shampoo
    Elasta QP Crème Conditioning shampoo. This is still a great product but I have switched to Cream of Nature Argan Oil Sulfate Free shampoo. I prefer how the cream of nature makes my hair feel.
  • Deep Conditioner
    Moisture:- Motions Moisture Plus Conditioner I have recently switched to using Aussie Miracle Moist as my moisture deep conditioner. It works better for my hair than Motions Moisture Plus.
  • Leave-in Conditioning
    Protein:-Aphogee Keratin and Green Tea Restructurizer I still have and use this product occasionally but my go to protein leave in conditioner is now the Cream of Nature Strength and Shine leave in conditioner.
  • Daily Moisturizers
    Mixture of Cantu Shea Butter Conditioning cream and Lusters S-curl I also use Cream of Nature Strength and Shine leave in conditioner during the week. I use whichever one my hand gets to first…. :)
  • Oils/Sealants
    Nutiva extra virgin coconut oil (sealant) Currently, I use olive oil or grapeseed oil as my sealant.
  • Extras
    Braid spray
    (to mist the box braids when wearing my wigs) I now use Lusters S-curl for this purpose because it was easier for me to find the S-curl in Lagos. I only use a small amount daily to prevent moisture overload.

 

And those are the changes to my hair regimen ladies!!  I don’t know when next I will review and update it but for now, my hair is very happy with all of the above. Like everybody else, I just have to try to remain consistent.
Please note that if you review your regimen and are happy with your current products and practices you don’t have to change it. Stick to what works.
Have you made changes to your regimen lately? What change did you make and why?

The next post will be an educational one about the challenges of thin/fine hair strands and tips to maximize your hair growth if you have fine hair. Come back soon ladies.

X

Lade

Learn | Change | Grow.

Lessons from my 6 month stretch and my texlax results

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Hello ladies

You may know that I relaxed my hair almost three weeks ago and I have shared some of the pictures on Instagram but this post is crammed with loads more.

I stretched for 6 months plus and I certainly learned a few lessons along the way which as always, I hope you can benefit from.   I will attempt to keep things short and sweet and jump right into it.

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The Cons of My 6 Month Stretch

 

It was time consuming and got increasingly difficult

The longer your hair and the longer the stretch, the more time and effort hair care takes.   I am usually quite good at stretching but I really struggled on this stretch and absolutely dreaded wash days.

Even though my wig regimen usually makes my stretches more bearable, I struggled to be consistent and patient with my hair.

I think I also found the stretch challenging because I was quite busy with work over the last few months and just really didn’t have the time that was needed to manage my hair as well as I would have liked.
Breakage at the line of Demarcation

I noticed that I had more breakage at the line of demarcation. The breakage occurred more in the areas that have thinner and weaker hairs. This reminded me that everyone’s hair is different and some ladies may not be able to stretch for long periods as it may do more harm than good. I usually notice some breakage on my 5 month stretches but the breakage on this stretch was more than I felt comfortable with. This is the main reason I doubt I’ll stretch for 6 months in the future.

 

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The Pros of My 6 Month Stretch

 

My hair feels healthier than it does after shorter stretches.

At several points on this stretch, I felt as though my hair was becoming quite damaged as a result of my struggle to manage the two textures. The length of my hair added to the difficulty of it all.

To my genuine surprise, when I texlaxed eventually, I found my hair to be in the best shape it has ever been since I began my hair journey. This reminded me that the less we expose our hair to harsh chemical processes the healthier our hair is….so long as we remain consistent with good hair care practices.
My ends are the best they have ever been

A long term hair goal of mine was to have even blunt or full looking ends.

I don’t want to create unrealistic hair goals.  It is normal for hair to be a bit thinner towards the ends because with age and wear and tear, the cuticles of our hair gradually chip off and results in thinner hair especially towards our ends which are the oldest part of our hair.  I however felt that because I was no longer letting my hair get longer by cutting off approximately 6 inches a year, with normal hair growth, good hair care and regular trims I would eventually have thicker ends.

Towards the end of my stretch, my hair began to look very uneven and I became discouraged about the stretch and I ended up cutting off two inches just so that wouldn’t look so bad.
When I eventually texlaxed my hair I could see that my ends where nowhere near as bad as it looked but I still cut off a further inch and half after my texlax.
I have trimmed off a total of 3 and half inches and my ends are currently in pretty good shape. I hope to maintain this by being consistent with my regimen and trimming as and when necessary.

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If you are on a long term stretch, it is normal for your ends to begin to look very thin and lifeless in comparison to your thick new growth. Try to hold off trimming until your next relaxer and if for whatever reason you can’t wait that long, try not to get too scissor happy and cut too much off.


Despite the positive aspects of this stretch I don’t think I will stretch beyond 5 months in the future. I simply don’t want to work as hard as I had to on this stretch.

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Have your recently ended a stretch? How did you manage the stretch and were you happy with your results?
My next post will be a simple hair style pictorial after a much needed wash day.

See you soon.

x

Lade

Learn | Change | Grow