It's that time of year again

Considering that I reached my 6-month mark, I straightened my hair.  I was well overdue for a good trim anyway.  Total, the stylist cut about 1/2", most of my fairy knots are gone. My hair is feeling MUCH better now, I feel like I've got a great fresh start for the remainder of the year.

The pictures are from the day I got my hair pressed.  My hair never likes to be straight, so I'm not surprised that it poofed so quickly.  I wore my hair in pin-ups for 5 out of the 6 days I wore my hair straight because the "out look" was a hot mess overrated. Good news - my hair reverted back when washed, so overall I'm pleased with the experience!  Check out my original post to see my typical experience with heat's normally not the best.  Just proves that knowing something definitely helps preventing damage.

Have any of you heat-styled recently? How was your experience?

Water Hardness & Hair

Hey Everyone,

I meant to get this post up earlier, but I've been away at a conference for work.  As I stated last week, I did some digging and fact checking to figure out what's the real deal with water and hair.  I have an added bonus at the end so if you're a skimmer, make sure you check that out ;-).  This is what I found...

Can hard water be tough on hair? Yes, hard water at a concentration above 50 parts per million (ppm) has the potential to lead to hair damage.  Why?  Hard water specifically refers to water with Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg).  These two elements form ion complexes (Ex. CaCO3, MgSO4 - both are actually listed on the back of some water bottles like Dasani) that are found in hard water. These molecules can form small deposits on hair. Additionally, the Ca and Mg ions cling right to our hair. Calcium and Magnesium hold a positive charge, while hair holds a negative charge and opposites attract!  The deposits are not necessarily harmful, but they may prevent moisture from penetrating the hair follicle or it may cause the cuticle layer to be lifted.  We all know that a lack of moisture can lead to breakage.  Note that hardness is harmless to our bodies - it can however do something else to your home piping!

What can we do to protect our hair?
  • Use (soft) filtered water.  Water from a Reverse Osmosis unit and De-Ionized (DI) water are great examples.  Note that all filtered water is NOT created equal.  For example, the BRITA filters that you may use at home DO NOT remove hardness.  Why?  These home filters (typically) contain some type of activated carbon element that removes organics (we can taste these) and Chlorine.  To be sure your filter is removing hardness check for some of the following key words: DI, soft, resin, RO.  A filter marketed using any of those words should remove hardness, resulting in soft water.  Filters do get old so read the manual to know when to replace it.
  • Try a pH-balanced Apple Cider Vinegar mixture. WHAT? Believe it or not, ACV rinses can remove some of these deposits due to the acidity of the ACV.  In this case, chemistry takes over, for brevity, let's just say the deposits "prefer" to be dissolved in the ACV as opposed to sticking to your hair.

What about Philadelphia City Water?  When I tested the water, it had a hardness of 120 ppm, it's not awful, but it's definitely hard water.  I plan to use soft water in the future.

ADDED BONUS: When I checked with one of my colleagues (a true expert on water) on this topic, she mentioned that if my goal is to moisturize my hair that I should start on the INSIDE.  She suggested drinking 2 teaspoons of oil -without hydrogenated fat - every day (Ex. Olive, almond, avocado).

Your thoughts...???

Friday Fun: Dinosaur-inspired style

FYI, I use anything and everything to get my hairspiration!  This style was inspired by me (randomly) thinking about how cool dinosaur scales are...specifically thinking of a T-Rex and how the scales stack up on her back.
Image credit, picture is of a Dinosaur cactus

Enough about the are my pics...

So I'm really giving you PICTURES!!! lol, this style is super easy to do AND will work on a variety of hair lengths.  I did this on braid-out hair and used bobby pins to hold my hair down. I just folded my hair to create the scales.  You can choose to add more/less dinosaur scales/layers.  I was in a hurry and kept it simple with 3 layers.  I can imagine me trying this style again with 10 layers...SUPA DUPA CUTE!

Finally, if you want a more "polished look" you can also opt to pin back the front/bangs portion to achieve the look below.

Have an awesome weekend!  PS - I did find out some interesting things on water chemistry as it relates to hair, look for that post next week!


Deep Conditioning Panel at The Natural Haven

Hello Again,

I wanted to inform you all that I am being featured as one of five lucky panelists over at The Natural Haven!!!  For those of you who don't know the blog, it's about hair and science - real science.  It's right up my alley!  This week, the blog will discuss our various views on deep conditioning.  The panelists are bright and it is informative!  Check out the intro here.


Hair moisture and softness - same difference?

WELCOME to my new followers!!! I don't know that I have any real goals for the amount of followers that follow my blog, but I do appreciate people joining and following, it makes my ranting posting worthwhile. :-)

Onto the topic at hand: Hair moisture and softness.  One of my new goals is to moisturize DAILY. This can be with a spritz of water followed by a leave-in, shea butter or oil. Regardless, my goal is to moisturize daily. Some of you may be thinking: "WHOA Monique, isn't that a bit much?"

Well, let me tell you about my hair: It always feels dry, with the exception of RIGHT after I apply a moisturizer or am doing a DC. Sometimes I wonder if it's ok for my hair to feel this way, simply because it's never not felt this way, with one exception.  Once time last year in October, I applied warmed shea butter to my hair and it felt soft the ENTIRE weekend.  Other than that one weekend, I've never been able to maintain the softness.  I tried it again, but I didn't see the same results.

Do any of you experience this? Do you apply a moisturizing product but see no difference?  Is this something I should be concerned with?

I'm wondering if these issues may have something to do with the quality of the tap water that I use to wash my hair -specifically looking at the hardness of the water.  I work for a water company and have a lot of familiarity with water quality.  Look out for a post on this and an analysis of Philadelphia City Water soon!

Length Check & Mid-Year Goals

So....I passed my 6-month mark a couple of weeks ago.  Check out my post from January 2010 to see my original 2010 Hair Goals.  Here are some pictures to show you how far I've come.

                                        January 2010                         June 2010

The difference in hair length from the January and June pictures is about 2.5".  This is great for me to see, because I definitely felt like nothing was happening.  *In reality, I knew it was getting longer because I was able to do new styles that I couldn't do before solely based on length (I.e. buns).*  My hair is growing about 0.41"/month.  Hair grows an average of 0.5"/month.  I also dusted/trimmed my ends randomly twice over time, so it grew more than this, but I take it as an acceptable growth rate.  I was trying out Kinky Curly *SMH* in the June picture, that's the product on my hair.  It obviously didn't work for my hair...I'm just sticking to my non-defined coils moving forward.

I've learned a lot over the past 6 months - this was really the first time I had a CLUE, lol.  I've come to some conclusions to help me form some mid-year goals, which will hopefully make my next length check even more successful.

Goal 1: Create and implement a steady moisturizing routine. I believe I will be approaching my hair's breakpoint soon.  I will proactively prepare for this by changing my moisturizing routine to a more steady  one.  I've been using kimmaytube's leave-in for the past month.  It's looking like it may be icing on the cake, I'll post more about this later.

Goal 2: Regulate trimming.  I've learned a lot about trimming over the past 6 months, I will now trim at the 3-month or 6-month point ONLY, unless I see something alarming.  My thought process here is that I have a regular routine where I have seen my hair grow.  If I continue this, I shouldn't generate split ends.

Goal 3: Embrace fairy knots. You are reading that correctly, I am embracing my knots!  Curly hair has a natural tendency to knot.  I have been so bothered/preoccupied with this, I'm just going to leave them alone over the next 6 months.  After all, when I do the "search and destroy" trim method, I only cut the knots in the front.

Goal 4: Maintain protective styling.  I did mostly protective styling over the past 6 months, this will be essential to maintain my length as my hair continues to grow.

Those are my goals...what do you think?  Have you made any mid-year goals?  Have you experienced recent growth?  Share your sucesses or opportunities for improvements :-)!