Balancing Self-Care and School

As most of you already know, I am a college student, so time is not something to be wasted.

Maintaining my natural hair becomes more of a challenge as we move onto the end of the semester. There are two weeks left of classes, and I’m stressing out (as usual) because I have so many papers to finish and finals to study for.

Self-care can help ease up that stress, but what if you don’t have time for it? Doing little things for yourself can enhance any mood you’re in. The easiest way for me to do that is simply washing my face and caring for my hair.

Everyday, I wash, moisturize and tone my face twice. The feeling afterwards is internal and amazing!

Taking care of my hair, whether it be doing a twist out, braid out, or just brushing it out, always helps make me feel better too.

The point of this post was to emphasize that doing things for yourself is always a good way to escape from the reality of life.

Diet and Hair

What goes into your body is as important to your hair as those weekly deep conditions.

Our bodies are like a big factory. Everything that goes into our bodies is used for many different purposes like keeping your bones and muscles healthy and providing nutrients for your hair and skin.

I’m no dietician but I know that keeping a healthy, balanced diet can be beneficial for your hair as well as overall health. I say a “balanced” diet because who doesn’t like to have a juicy cheeseburger and some greasy fries every now and then? I say junk food isn’t so bad as long as you don’t have it all the time.

Here is an article I came across and some of the foods mentioned were very shocking.

Best and Worst Foods for Healthy Hair

If you are transitioning or are already going natural, think about ways you can make your life even healthier than it already is. What are some things you can cut down on or even start doing to make your life as happy and healthy as possible.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drink lots of water, especially now in the summer time where the heat and humidity can be exhausting.

Natural Deep Conditioners Using Household Products

When I first decided to go natural, I had this idea that I was going to have to buy all these high end hair products for my hair to go back to its natural state.

There are so many natural ingredients that are beneficial to your hair health.

Here are some recipe’s to keep your hair strong and moisturized.

Banana-Oatmeal Deep Conditioner

1 Over ripe banana

1/2 Cup of oatmeal*

1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil

1 Tablespoon of Honey

Soak oatmeal in water for 3-5 minutes then blend and strain water leaving enough to make the oatmeal a creamy texture.

Directions:

Mix evenly so you have a creamy consistency. Apply to damp hair and comb through with your fingers. Once the conditioner is throughout your hair, massage your scalp for 3-5 minutes to increase blood flow to the scalp. This helps your hair take in all the moisture from the conditioner.

After your massage, you can either put your hair in a loose bun or quick twists and wrap it in a plastic cap. Leave in for 40 – 60 minutes.

You can also sit under a hair dryer on low for 30 minutes.

Then rinse and wash as usual.

The only thing I don’t like about this deep conditioner is how the pieces of oatmeal tend to stay in your hair so I try to blend the oatmeal until its mostly liquid and rinse thoroughly after use. Other than that, this deep conditioner is great to plump up those curls.

Mayo – Olive Oil Deep Conditioner

1/2 Cup of regular mayonnaise (not light)

Can also use the olive oil mayo (green cap)

1 Egg yolk

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Tablespoon of castor oil

1 Tablespoon of raw honey

Directions:

Mix all ingredients evenly, you can give or take with the measurements depending on how much you want and the consistency you want. It can always be stored in a zip lock bag or mason jar and kept in the fridge for later use.

Apply to damp hair in sections and massage through scalp. Wrap hair and leave in for 30 – 45 mins.

Onion Deep Conditioner

1 Small onion

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup Raw Honey or Agave

Directions:

Chop onion into smaller pieces and blend. Add coconut oil then honey or agave to your blender. There should be no chunks of anything in your mixture. If the mixture is too watery, you can add some of your favorite deep conditioner or regular conditioner to give it a thicker consistency.

Apply to damp hair in sections and massage through scalp. Wrap hair and leave in for 30 – 40 minutes.

If you feel your scalp start to burn or feel irritated, rinse immediately. It should feel refreshing.

There are so many more natural ingredients you can use as deep conditioners. I try to do one natural deep conditioner every month to keep my curls healthy and flourishing.

I hope this was helpful!

@Yo.Shea.Naturals

As a natural enthusiast, I love learning about natural, organic products. There are a whole bunch of small businesses out there who sell home-made skin care products. It makes the search for the perfect product much more difficult than it should be.

I love, love, love organic products.
My family suffers from eczema which is a skin condition where the skin becomes rough, inflamed or irritated with no clear external cause. My mom’s skin flares up when she eats anything with gluten and is exposed to the sun.

When I came across @yo.shea.naturals on Instagram, I was curious to try it for myself and for my family. Yoni, the owner, was so generous and sent me a few samples of her body butters, body scrub, and hair elixir.

Yo Shea Naturals Website

Let me just say, I fell in love with these products after the first use!

Here are my thoughts:

Body Butter

I received vanilla and cranberry scented body butters.

Pros

Consistency. It rubs on the skin smoothly. Some people may describe this butter as being too oily, but that’s all depending on preference and the condition of your skin.

Moisture. After applying the body butter, there is no need for me to moisturize again during the day because my skin retains all the moisture. It looks and feels amazing.

Reduces scars with help from the body scrub.

Cons

Fragrance is irritating to my mom’s skin (this is my mom’s experience because of her eczema, my skin loves the butter)

Body Scrub

Cranberry scented scrub smells great and leaves my skin feeling brand new.

Pros

Less ingrown hairs. The grains of sugar in this scrub are kind of thick (consistency of brown sugar) which is a great exfoliant. Over time, the appearance of scars and darkened skin (like elbows and knees) begin to brighten.

Helps heal dry skin. This scrub is so moisturizing that I don’t even need to moisturize after I shower. The combination of oils in it is the magic.

Hair Elixir

The mixture smells like nature and keeps my scalp feeling refreshed.

I can’t say if I’ve seen any growth in my hair because I didn’t measure it before I began using the elixir. The change I did notice in my hair is its thickness. My hair feels much fuller, with more volume, and my curls are more defined.

These products are also very cheap ranging between $5-$20. I definitely recommend it for anyone with dry skin who isn’t sensitive to fragranced products.

Love, Beauty & Planet Review

How many of you consider yourselves a product junkie? 

If your bathroom looks something like this:

Product Junkie
It’s likely that you are one lol …

A product junkie is someone who buys more products than necessary.
You may debate between paying that bill on time or taking advantage of that Shea Moisture sale going on right now.

In our defense, how will you find the product that works best for your hair if you haven’t taken the time to research and try out different products?

About a month ago, I came across a brand that I haven’t heard of before: Love, Beauty & Planet. The name itself is different which caught my attention. Here are the pro’s of this product (as advertised on the bottle):

  • No animal testing
  • Vegan
  • No Dyes, Parabens or Silicones
  • No animal testing
  • Bottles are 100% recyclable
  • Ethically sourced extract

I only got the conditioner because I was a little skeptical about the product (and I’m very picky when it comes to shampoo’s), but I fell in love after the first use! I bought the Coconut Oil and Ylang Ylang (yellow) one. My hair was surprisingly easy to detangle without breaking away my hair and I didn’t lose much hair in the process.

Cons?

One thing I didn’t like about the product was the consistency. I found it to be kind of watery compared to some of my go-to conditioners.

I used this product once as a conditioner and was impressed with the way the moisture seeped into my hair. I also used it as a leave in conditioner, a few weeks later, which left my hair feeling so soft, moisturized, and bouncy!

To compare this conditioner with another product, I would have to say Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls. pillow-soft-curls.jpeg

The consistency of the two are completely opposite where Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls is more on the greasy side than watery, but the end result (when my hair was completely dry) was fairly similar.

Overall, I was very happy with this product and had to try out the shampoo. It definitetly met my expectations. It isn’t too soapy and doesn’t strip my hair of its oils to the point where it feels squeaky clean, but it feels refreshing to my scalp.

I hope this post was helpful to many of you! Thanks for reading.
Have something you want to know more about? Feel free to comment suggestions.

 

Bleach ‘n Curls

Bleach and hair are like a child and the boogie man.

Everyone has this idea that:
Bleach = Damage …
… Does it really?

 

My Experience

It has been a little over a week since I dyed my hair from black to chocolate-brown. Since my hair was so dark, it had to be bleached in order for the color to take. I tried so hard to avoid bleaching it, but I just ended up going through with it because I felt bored with my hair. It was definitely time for a change but I was so anxious to wash my hair and check for heat or bleach damage.

I have a cousin that used to dye her hair all the time! Her hair was dry and her curls were slowly diminishing. I didn’t want to go through that after all the work I put into getting my hair back to its natural state from heat damage.

So, while my hair was straightened I made sure to keep the length of my hair moisturized using Jojoba and Coconut oils, since dryness and damage was my biggest concern.

 

Wash Day!!

Before washing my hair, I did an intensely moisturizing treatment (which I will post soon with details). I was surprised to see that there was no damage to my hair! My curls were shiny, bouncy, and hydrated. My excitement was over the roof!

I was expecting to see a bunch of straight ends and maybe even a looser curl pattern. I believe that keeping my hair extra moisturized played a big role in the outcome.

I have to say, I absolutely don’t regret bleaching my hair and I’m so happy with my results!

My point is basically that bleach isn’t all that bad. As long as you keep those curls clean and moisturized, they will be popping at all times!

 

**I am speaking solely on my experience. Everyone’s hair is different and reacts differently to products. Bleach can still be very damaging if misused, so I recommend to have it done by a professional. I hope your coloring experience is as great as mine! If you would like to see how the color turned out, check out my instagram which you can find on the homepage of this site. **

Length, Length, Length

As a curly girl, length isn’t so easy to tell. And that SUCKSSS!

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying Shrinkage is a Bitch! And in fact it is. A curly girl can never tell her true length unless it’s straightened and that’s exactly what we’re avoiding here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t ever straighten your hair, a length check is always needed, but not every so often. I length check probably twice or three times a year.

Maintaining Length

This may sound contradicting, but trust me it works and I’ll explain why.

Making sure those ends are healthy is a MAJOR KEY in ensuring swift hair growth.

Think about this:
Your hair grows from the top of your head (obviously), but if the hair that’s already hanging from your head keeps breaking from your damaged, split ends, it’ll feel like your hair isn’t growing at all.

SO, to make sure your ends don’t prolong your hair length journey, occasional trims are necessary. I honestly don’t have the time to go to hair salons, plus they don’t really know how to cut curly hair unless you go to a Deva Curl Hair Salon or a curly hair specialist, but let’s be real, they’re a bit pricey. Plus, I have trust issues sooo… I cut my own hair. Now to do that you have to be very careful. There are so many opinions out there on curly trimming methods, but I prefer dry cutting.

Dry Cutting

The reason I don’t recommend to cut hair while wet is because curly hair shrinks, so cutting wet curls will leave you with a shorter length than you expected.

Dry cutting/dusting is basically searching for those straight or split ends and chopping them off. It sounds a bit extreme, but I find that (if you wear your hair curly most of the time) it’s the most efficient way to get the most growth. A con about this method is that you hair (when straightened) won’t be perfectly even, but this won’t really be a problem if you’re wearing your hair curly. It’ll help your curls flourish.

Helpful Oils

Cutting isn’t the only thing that promotes hair growth.
Here are a few oils you can incorporate in your oil treatments:

Essential Oils

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Peppermint/Tea Tree
  • Chamomile
  • Clary Sage

*Each oil, whichever you choose, should be mixed with a carrier oil (I prefer coconut oil, you can also use virgin olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, sesame oil, or canola a.k.a. rapeseed oil). The mixture should be 4 tsp of carrier oil to every 10 drops of essential oil.

Others

  1. Jojoba

Jojoba oil is technically not an oil. Its a wax ester, which is similar to the oils naturally released by our skin. It’s rich in Vitamins E and B which have antibacterial and antioxidant properties which will remove the dead skin from your scalp and promote healthy hair growth. I love jojoba oil (especially for my face) because it’s not greasy and moisturizes without leaving too much of a shine.

  1. Jamaican Black Castor

Castor oil is very thick and sticky similar to honey. It consists of amino and fatty acids that repair and regenerate hair follicles. Aside from promoting hair growth, castor oil can moisturize, thicken, and even enhances hair color.

  1. Vitamin E

As I mentioned before, Vitamin E is an antioxidant which is helpful for repairing damaged hair follicles. It reduces inflammation, and promotes blood circulation to the scalp which is beneficial for hair growth.

**When applying these oils, for EXTRA growth promotion, use the Inversion Method which is flipping your head upside down and massaging the scalp for about 10 minutes. The inversion method promotes hair growth by increasing blood circulation to the scalp and the massage will open up the hair follicle to absorb the oils. You can use the inversion method everyday if you’d like; 10 minutes a day for a month can probably get you two or three inches of growth depending on your hair and how fast it usually grows. (Don’t quote me on that, I’m speaking based on my experience.)

Consistency

I really can’t stress consistency enough. It’s like anything in life! Diets, exercise plans, relationships, skin care, and I can go on forever. The point is, that if you don’t keep consistency with your hair, you may not see the results you expect. Yes, hair care is extremely time consuming, but its all worth it!

With cuts, I recommend dusting every 3-4 months depending on the level of damage you have on the ends.

As for the growth promoting oil treatments, I recommend you do it bi-weekly, even monthly. You don’t want to overwhelm your hair with too many treatments because it can become brittle, weak and can become prone to breakage.

Hope this helped! Feel free to like and comment any further questions or suggestions for future posts.

Moisturizing Hair Routine

Keeping a consistent routine can help smoothen out the transitioning process and will keep those curls flourishing after your transition. Consistency is key!

For starters, as I mentioned in Straight To Curly, you should be aware of your hair type and porosity level to make sure you are taking the right steps to keeping that hair moisturized.

Understanding Porosity

Porosity is the level at which you hair retains water and moisture. Each hair strand has layers. The cuticle layer, the cortex, and the medulla. The cuticle layer is what determines hair porosity. It’s purpose is to protect the hair shaft, and allow moisture to pass in and out of it.

Low Porosity is when the hair cuticle is smooth and has no cracks, making it harder for moisture retention and water absorption. Light products that are water based are best for low porosity hair. Avoid using heavy products, this will weigh the hair down and make it greasy.

Medium (Normal) Porosity is the most healthy of the levels. It is fairly easy to keep hair moisturized and manageable. The best products for ‘normal’ porosity hair is just silicone free, moisturizing conditioners that can be used as leave in conditioners. Also using light oils like jojoba and pomegranate seed oil can help retain moisture without making the hair too greasy.

High Porosity can occur from chemical or heat damage and constant manipulation (perms, flat ironing, hair dye, etc.). This type of hair is highly porous and because of that, it loses moisture as quick as it’s absorbed. This is not something you want because your hair will always look dry, frizzy, and can easily break, preventing hair growth. I recommend using leave-in conditioners, moisturizers, and sealers to help keep the hair moisturized throughout the day. Deep conditioning weekly can help keep the moisture locked in for longer periods of time.

Knowing your hair porosity is important for looking into products that will most effectively help keep moisture.

Testing Porosity

The most commonly used method to test porosity level is the cup of water test. Take a clean strand of hair and place it in a glass of water. After a few minutes, the strand will either stay afloat or gradually sink to the bottom. High porosity hair sinks fairly quickly.

The Routine

Assuming your hair is in need of a wash, here is a routine that is helpful to keep your hair moisturized.

Start off with an oil treatment. Depending on the porosity level of your hair, you should either dampen your hair, or not at all.

**The oil treatment should be pre-made about 2 days before application to make sure the oils have blended together.**

My favorite oils to mix for an oil treatment are:

  • Coconut oil (moisture)
  • Tea tree oil (cleansing)
  • Castor oil (growth)
  • Rosemary oil (treat dry scalp, growth)

Massage the oil into your scalp for about 10 minutes (with your head inverted) and cover your hair in a bag or shower cap for 25-30 minutes.

After the oil treatment, wash your hair and condition as usual.

An alternative to oil treatments, if your hair tends to get very oily, or you just don’t like putting oils in your hair, is a deep condition. To deep condition I use:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Egg yolk
  • Olive oil (or coconut)
  • Tea tree oil (just a few drops)
  • Honey
  • Your favorite conditioner (not too much, only to keep a conditioner-like consistency)

This combination smells a bit funny, but after application, wrap your hair in a cap and keep in for 30-45 minutes. Then wash and condition as usual.

For a better smell, you can add an essential oil like lavender oil.

This process (either-or) should be done weekly or bi-weekly as needed. My hair tends to get very dry so I try to do this weekly.

I know this was a very lengthy post and bless you if you’ve made it this far and I hope you found it helpful.

Straight to Curly

About Me

I am a curly girl. I love my natural, curly hair, but I wasn’t always so fascinated with my curls.

Growing up in a Dominican household, the image of beauty was long, slick, perfectly straight hair. Which I didn’t have, so we took bi-weekly trips to the hair salon.

I don’t understand why, but my mom felt the need to start taking me to the hair salon at the age of 6. I didn’t begin my transition until  I was 19, so that’s 13 years of constant wash-and-sets. WOW! I never even thought of it in that way, that’s a lot of damage and it explains why my hair took so long to transition to its natural state.

After loads of research and hours of watching youtube videos, I decided to start my journey May of 2015.

The Process

Holy molyyyy!! This process is not for everyone! For starters, you need patience and I can’t stress this enough. It’s like anything in life, it’s a process, and you must stay consistent and dedicated to see results. The process is so tedious and it’s easy to want to give up, I almost did a few times, but when you do begin to see results, it’s the best feeling in the world.

It took me about 4 months to see any results.

If you are new to the natural community, I recommend you visit naturallycurly.com.

Take the hair quiz first to know your hair type. (I’m 3C)

They have a bunch of articles on everything you need to know about transitioning (protective hairstyles, sleeping tips, natural deep conditions, hair routines, etc.). I suggest you also do a porosity test to find which kind of products (or brands) work best with your hair. Knowing this about your hair will make your transitioning process smoother and hopefully quicker.

Youtube is a great resource to learn how to deal with your hair. Especially if your hair is in an awkward stage, as mine was for about a year. It was so bad that I LITERALLY wore the same hairstyle for like 3 months. I luckily found a few “youtubers” with my same hair type that were pretty dedicated to sharing their tips and tricks with the world and I am extremely grateful! I’m not much of a creative person, so finding inspiration on youtube was helpful for my transition.

Pinterest was also extremely helpful for my transition. I found a whole bunch of natural deep conditions (DIY’s) that saved me a lot of money! On pinterest I learned a lot about the benefits of natural products like coconut oil, honey, rice water, avocado’s, mayonnaise, even onions! Yes, I said onions. It sounds gross, and smells gross, but the benefits are priceless!!!

The Transition

Going from straight to curly is not easy! As I said before, it takes a lot of dedication and consistency.

Keeping a consistent routine will get your hair ‘used to’ the change you are about to put it through.

When transitioning, I kept a simple routine. Alternating (weekly) between DIY deep conditions and oil treatments (one week deep condition, next week oil treatment). Its very important to keep your scalp clean to promote hair growth. Making sure your new growth is healthy is a key component to successful transitioning. The old (damaged) hair is important too, but not as important since it is damaged. Most people just start off with a ‘big chop’ to have a fresh start.

(I will be posting a more in-depth routine soon.)

I chose not to do a ‘big chop’ because I wanted to maintain my length, but ended up chopping about half of it because my damaged hair was just weighing my hair down. After I chopped my hair, my curls flourished! (This was where my awkward stage began.)

If this post was helpful or you have any suggestions, questions or tips, leave a comment.