No Box Braids Extensions for Me

So, yeah.

Hair is closer to waist length than I thought.  My thumb on the right is where my natural waist is.  Should be fully WL by year end.

Hair is closer to waist length than I thought. My thumb on the right is where my natural waist is. Should be fully WL by year end.

Box braids with extensions did not happen.  As much as I really, really wanted them, I simply could NOT bring myself to fork over the insulting price that I was quoted to get them done.  I get it.  I have a lot of hair, and – to my surprise – it is much closer to getting back to waist length than I realized – but c’mon son (a little piece of NYC that came with me to ATL)…more than double what other people are paying?  A naturalista’s version of the buyer’s dilemma…

I was thoroughly disappointed.  But I quickly realized that my hair on its own could rock box braids.  I previously did them on a regular basis when I was pregnant with kiddo #1.  Not sure why I fell off…they led to a lot of length retention.  In addition, its a protective style without the added tension that comes from adding hair.

These are just pulled back and secured with a bobby pin.

These are just pulled back and secured with a bobby pin.

And so, they are back.  Box braids without extensions.  I started with freshly washed and detangled hair.  I spritzed each section with water, then coated strands with Oyin Handmade Honey Dew, and finally sealed with shea butter before braiding.  To preserve, I have been spritzing my hair lightly with plain water, shea butter over the roots, and tying down with a silk scarf at night.  This has kept the frizzes at bey.  I have also made sure to spritz and seal my ends every other night.

Chunky, medium-sized braids.

Chunky, medium-sized braids.

I decided to create my own little protective-style-self-challenge.  In a perfect world I would love to keep these in for about 6 weeks, but realistically speaking, I want to start with keeping in the same set of braids for stretches of 3 weeks, separated by 1 week of rest and deep conditioning.  August 2nd marks the end of a 3 week period.  I might have to make some adjustments as I start a new rotation on August 4th, but for now, I’ll just keep spritzing and sealing.

Anyone rock box braids with their own hair on a regular basis?  How long do you keep them in?  What’s your regimen?



Smoke and Mirrors from The Body Shop???

More on this later.  I’m taking the PCAT this Saturday and don’t have the time to fully do any sort of analysis any justice, but I at least wanted to highlight a comment on the subject, so that people can at least start to wonder/research on their own.  The Marxist in me is unhappy.


Posted by jenna on June 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm edit

Hmmmm, I am going to have to do some major research. This is disheartening. I’ll have to highlight this in a post so that others can see.

I understand the capitalistic world we live in is full of exploitation. But I’m not so understanding when it comes to companies using a cloak of “green practices” and assistance to the underserved as a simple marketing ploy.

Not cool. Folks, take note of the above link. I’ll be back with more thoughts (after I take the PCAT on the 19th and can dedicate something more than a flow of consciousness).

Thanks Jenna!

Product Focus: Wheatgrass Fixing Gel

I stumbled into The Body Shop yesterday because they were having a decent sale.  I went into to buy some coconut body butter, and happened across a hair product I had never seen before: Wheatgrass Fixing Gel.  Took a quick look at the front description – a simple ‘Medium Hold’ and ‘For All Hair Types’ was all I saw.  Turned it over to check what I already knew – no bad ingredients…after all, it is The Body Shop.  So, I bought it.

Good StuffGot home, washed my hair (I took out my braids two days ago), conditioned the ends a little, and went to work.  I sectioned my hair into three sections – the back and two sides.  Then, in each section, I worked in ‘rows’, adding leave-in conditioner first, then raking about a nickel to a quarter size of the gel through my hair.

This stuff has major potential.

I have beautiful, kinky waves that are the TRUE texture of my hair.  Let me clarify.  Whenever I use other styling products (EcoStyler or IC Fantasia Gels, Curly Pudding, even the beloved Kinky-Curly Curling Custard), I feel like my texture gets a “bump.”  Don’t get me wrong; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But I have come to quite adore my kinky wavy hair.  I do NOT belong to any one hair type.  I am against saying my hair is 3c, 4a, 9z because my hair does so many different things.  And its versatility and nonconformity is what makes it ‘me’, so, I’m kinda over trying products that beat it into submission.  My hair is big, bad and a whole lotta awesome…and Wheatgrass Fixing Gel brings that out.

I know.  A lot of you are gonna say “But Kink, you’re still using gel…if you purport to love your hair so much, why don’t you just go product free?”  Herein lies the dilemma of natural hair (for me, anyway).  If I could have soft, cottony hair all day, withOUT the pain detangling, knots, bubbles and looming dreads, I absolutely would.  But alas, that is not my reality.  The lack of silkiness in my hair – at least at this length – requires that I put some sort of something on my “out hair” if I expect to retain any of it.

Now, back to the product.  My looks exactly like it is…kinky and wavy, without a false sense of forced silkiness and without being weighed down.  I’ll need to use it a few more times before I can truly put it on my list of potential staples, but for now, my heart is a-flutter (pics will follow…I just had to get my thoughts out!).

Best part about the gel?

Thanks to Community Trade aloe vera, not only do you get unbelievably soft, shiny hair with long-lasting hold, you help provide vital income to aloe farmers in Guatemala, where half the population earns less than $1 a day. The Guastatoya Farmers can now afford to send their children to school, and The Body Shop® pays a social premium that buys urgently needed teaching materials for more than 200 schools in the El Progreso region. So whenever you style your hair, you are getting a lot more than a cool ’do. You are helping to invest in Guatemalan children and future generations, which is a look that never goes out of style.

How could you not try it???

The ingredient list (it’s a little long, but no red flags):

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Propylene Glycol, VP/VA Copolymer, Pentylene Glycol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, VP/Acrylates/Lauryl Methacrylate Copolymer, Dimethicone Copolyol, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Collinsonia Canadensis Extract, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Sodium Chloride, Lophophyrum Elongatum (Wheatgrass) Extract, Oryzopsis Miliacea (Ricegrass) Extract, Benzophenone-2, Disodium EDTA, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Laurtrimonium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Citronellol, Biotin, Sodium Hydroxide.

An Oldie but Goodie…

This morning (as stated in my previous post), I did a deep conditioning with Suave Almond and Shea Butter and was pleased with the results.  I was really tempted to do my usual and put my naked hair in it’s normal bun.  But I said, what the hey.  Let’s style this stuff this morning.  So, I looked in my cabinet to see what I had left to use for styling product.  I haven’t bought actual stylers in so long, so I just have to look below to see what I have to work with.  And I came across some IC Polisher Olive Styling Gel.  Let me tell you, this stuff was way in the back…so I have NO IDEA how long I’ve had it.  But, I used it anyway.

I followed the same routine I used previously with the Eco gel.  Section by section by section.  I start in the back with a small section, detangle (hair is still wet) with my denman, spray on some SSF on the length of the hair, brush it through with my denman, and place the brush aside.  Once I’ve brushed through the SSF, I don’t use it again (until the next section).  Then I add the gel.  I would say I use about a quarter to half dollar size per section (there are 8 sections total).  My hair is thick.  And dense.  A dime size simply will not do.  I focus on my roots with the product, then rake it through.  I probably rake it through 4 or 5 times.  Then I smooth the section between my fingers once to make sure the product has coated the section from root to tip, and then I rake through once or twice more.

And that’s it.  That’s how I style my hair.  Just keep repeating for each section.

There is definitely a difference between this end result and my end result using Eco.  I LOVE the way my curls look with the IC gel.  I feel like the curls are brought out more with the IC.  Eco coats my hair more, and elongates my curls yet gives me more shrinkage when dry, versus IC which makes whatever I have simply pop and my hair somehow doesn’t seem to shrink as much.  BUT my hair is not nearly as shiny as when I use Eco.  I think it looks a little dull actually.

My hair is much softer with the IC.  My hair isn’t hard, per se, with the Eco, but not as soft and bouncy.  Hard to explain.  Put it this way, the IC doesn’t smooth as well as the Eco (not for me, anyway) but there is a more more natural look to the defined curls.  With Eco, although my curls are defined, I feel like it looks as if I have product in my hair.  Styled with IC, my hair doesn’t look as “heavy”.  Yeah.  That’s it.

I had totally forgotten about IC.  I think this container may be from a couple of years ago actually.  Seriously.  It’s been that long since I used it.  Goes to show, it’s good to revisit some of your old staples once in a while.  We get into these ruts or we stumble across new routines and completely write off old stuff.  Not to say I am going to stock up on IC, because I won’t – I don’t wear my hair out and curly enough to buy a whole bunch of styler.  But I do mean to stress that it’s okay to take a break from the quest for holy grail and return to the oldies but goodies every now and then.

Product Focus: Suave Almond and Shea Butter Conditioner

I ran across a topic on this conditioner a few months back, but didn’t pay much attention to it because I’ve become rather set in my ways.  But yesterday, I was in my local Rite-Aid with every intent on getting my normal Tropical Coconut Conditioner that I use for my co-washes, and I saw it.  At $2.79 for 14.5 oz, I thought, what do I have to lose.  So, I bought it and thought I’d give it a try.

Now, before I go into my personal experience, let me tell you the claims that this stuff has to live up to from the site:

Salon proven to moisturize your hair as well as Aveda® Dry Remedy® shampoo and conditioner*†.

Infused with 100% natural almond and shea butter, which are known for their rich emollients. The shampoo and conditioner system replenishes lost moisture, leaving your hair well-nourished and beautiful.

That is one.  heavy.  claim.  Well, let me back up a second.  If it was a conditioner that was salon proven to smooth has as well as Aveda Elixir then maybe it would be a heavy claim.  Nonetheless, I do think it is pretty bold of them to make such a bold claim (pun intended).

And you know what, when you put such a strong statement out there, the masses are sure to put it to the test.  And so, me being the lemming that I am, I decided to see if the product could actually hold its own.  I really liked Dry Remedy overall, but because my hair is so thick, so dense and getting pretty long, I have to use sooooo much product that I shy away from investing in the treatment.  My hair has suffered a little for it.  It’s a little dry and straw-y.  It’s because I haven’t been baby-ing it like I should – at least not consistently for the last couple of months.

Anyway, I bought the Suave conditioner only.  I still don’t use shampoo, so I can’t comment on that part of the duo.  I wet my hair and agitated my scalp a little with water only.  I haven’t used any product in quite a while and I don’t have any build up.  Once my hair was saturated, I squeezed out a little of the Suave.  First things first.  The scent permeated throughout the shower.  How would I describe it…earthy and exotic.  I definitely got a hint of the almond, but ever so slightly.  It a more raw, natural scent – versus a sweet marzipan (which I hate).  Same with the shea butter.  It was more of a refined scent, than the nutty aroma you get from pure shea butter.  The mixture was  an enjoyable experience.  Strong at first whiff, but light and lingering after rinsing.  5 stars in that department.

The consistency.  This stuff is thick, thick, thick and a little bit more thick.  What does that mean exactly?  Let’s go back.  The claim is that is moisturizes as well as Dry Remedy.  So, this is NOT going to be your everyday, co-washing conditioner, which I think I (and a lot of others) have come to equate cheapie Suave conditioners to be.  No ma’am.  This really is a thick, and luxurious conditioner.  I put on probably about four good handfuls for my entire head and allowed it to sit while I showered.  Just before rinsing, I took my fingers and ran them through.  I got pretty good slip as well.  Consistency gets 5 stars for a deep conditioner.  As far as slip, 4 stars.  I no longer detangle in the shower but rather during my styling process.  Weird, I know.  But it’s how I do it.

After rinsing, my formerly dry, straw-like hair felt much softer.  It wasn’t like butter or anything, but there was a definite difference.  My hair was actually quite easy to detangle once I got out of the shower, and it felt soft, even after my styling.

Overall, I would give this conditioner 4 stars.  I’m still on the fence as to whether or not it moisturizes as well as Dry Remedy, but it sure comes dang close if it doesn’t.  And I can already think of additions to boost the effects: honey, coconut oil, olive oil, heat.  I’d love to see the cumulative effects of using this on the regular.  For $2.79, this is a new staple that will be added to my regimen.

In a perfect world, I would incorporate this after a bentonite cleansing…one that I am definitely overdue to have – just need to find the time!

Has anyone else fallen in love with this new condish?

Does ‘Hair Rules’ really rule?

Okay, so my girl TLW over at TheTiffanyLea (which you must check out pronto if you haven’t already…she gives snippets of interesting goodness on all of the ordinary oddities in the world…in a refreshing, objective, tell it like it is, no-holds-barred yet very lady like manner.  Loves this chick.) recently posted about Anthony Dickey’s Hair Rules.  She’s been using the products, and I have to admit, I really like them on her.

I remember first coming across his products last year and thinking I should give them a try.  But then I fell into my K.I.S.S. routine with the homemade moisturizer and twisting and coconut oil, that I completely forgot there was a new product to sample!  Well, thank you TLW for awakening the product junkie in me.  It’s summer time, and on the back of my last session of defining, I am going to have to put Hair Rules in cue to try.

But I want to hear from you guys…has anyone else tried his goodies?  What’s your take?  Will this be any good for a thick-haired, coarse, kinky-curly-wavy chick like me???  I gotta admit…looks enticing.

Finally Defined…

Okay…y’all know that for the most part, defining my curls is not on my list of top priorities at the moment.  But I have gotten a few e-mails about what it looks like at this length, and so I [finally] broke down and did the deed.

I used all the products mentioned here and came out with pretty decent results.  I went light on the Eco and heavy on the leave-in conditioner.  For me, the mix of protein and moisturizing conditioner is just heavy.  The leave-in makes my curls pop and the Eco seals my strands and gives me just a little bit of hold.  My strands feel healthier overall.  Hair is “light” to the touch and pretty bouncy.  I can tell that I am going to love it even more as the days go on.

To preserve the style, I take a little bit of coconut oil (about the size of a quarter) and smooth it over sections of my hair (probably about four sections) and then put my hair in a pineapple, and tie it “up” with a scarf.  I should be able to get 4-5+ day  hair out of this.  Each morning, just fluff and go.  I think the coconut oil makes a difference for me.

Now, as far as my curls are concerned overall, to be honest, I don’t really see a difference between now and a year ago.  Just a little “more of the same” in my eyes.  Hair still shrinks to my shoulders – well, actually, I take that back.  Looking at these picks, my shrinkage with defined hair is almost to my collarbone – just a bit past my shoulders.  But anyway, the curls look the same.  I still have the same thick, kinky curls all over, with the exception of my crown.  The crown has always been more wave than curl.  As my hair has gotten longer, and therefore heavier, that top wave is dropping even more.  The wavelength is “lengthening” so to speak.  If you look at my side profile in the pics, the flat, shiny pieces are coming from my crown.

I lifted the hair in my crown to show just how textured my hair is underneath.  And you can see that my tightest curls are still in the nape/back area.

So, there you have it.  Defined hair.  It’s summer time.  So who knows.  If I can get really good 5-day hair going again, maybe I’ll put it back in the rotation.  You know me…I’m all about low maintenance these days!

Kink Out.