January 23, 2009

Denman

denmanSay hello….to my little friend.  Denman D4.  One of many essential discoveries made last year while figuring out the mess of detangling my hair.  Rule #1 of brushing/combing curly/kinky hair is to NEVER do it while under the influence of dry hair, otherwise the end result will be a tumbleweed of sadness. 

To best utilize the Denman, first you should find the correct size for your hair thickness and length. 

  • For Medium to long hair there’s the classic D7
  • For Short to Medium size hair lengths there’s the D5
  • For Thicker/coarser hair there’s the Denman Deluxe
  • For Medium/thick to Long/ coarse hair there’s the favorite D4 (this is the most common size carried in most beauty supply stores)

Prices for any of the Denmans mentioned range from as low as $10.00 to $16.00, it all depends on your own frugality and who offers the best deal.  It seems the best deals can often be found online rather than in-store, particularly if you’re buying other items and can opt out of the shipping costs.

After finding the correct size, the Denman is best used as a detangler through the conditioning process while hair is wet.  I find that no matter the length or density of your hair, it’s wiser to section hair before applying and/or detangling.  In hindsight this will save time, but most importantly patience! 

I start by detangling the ends, where the knots seem to form, then slowly work my way up, adding more conditioner if needed.  If you’re a curlyhead who’s not a huge fan of curl shrinkage, I’d say to proceed with caution because the Denaman will not only detangle and smooth out your strands, it will add signficant curl defintion and shrinkage the more you rake it through.  During the summer to cut down on shrinkage,  I’d start with a wide tooth comb, then finish with the brush. 

The only drawback that I do have with my Denman is the inevitable hair loss while detangling, which I’ve resigned myself into accepting.  My hair sheds in riduculous amounts, and when using the brush, while it does make the job easier I still end up losing some strands.  These days to prevent extra shedding and knots, I try to wash/condition my hair while in the shower or with my hair flowing backward rather than forward.  Matching the flow of the water to the way I’d like my hair to fall while styling helps tremendously! Less tugging, pulling and easier detangling;-).

Basic tools for detangling curly/kinky hair:

  1. Better than average conditioner
  2. Better than average detangling brush/large toothed comb
  3. A sea of patience
January 22, 2009

KC Knot Today

kinkyI think every curlyhead has an absolute staple in their routine, something they simply refuse to substitute with anything else no matter the weather, new product recommendation or what have you.  Late last year I found my something after trying Kinky Curly’s Knot Today Natural Leave in!   Now, finding Knot Today and loving it was a complete surprise, mainly because I’d bought it on a whim, not exactly planning on using it per se, but wanted to do a quick comparison with Giovanni’s Direct Leave-in.  From what I’d heard, the detangler worked best when used in conjunction with the Kinky Curly Custard, (another sideshow review to come on that later).  But because I’d had plans to wear my hair in protective styles for the majority of winter, I opted to use it alone as a leave-in.  The results were beyond what I’d expected!

Here’s the ingredient list:

Ingredients: Mango fruit extract, slipper elm, marshmallow root, lemongrass, cetyl alcohol, behentrimonium methosulfate, citric acid, phenoxyethanol and natural fragrance.

The list is small, which I love because it really goes to show, often times big things can happen with the simplest of ingredients, and it’s organic! According to the products claims from the site it’s “designed to smooth the cuticle and to remove knots, snarls and tangles from thick curly hair.”  

How I apply: 

After co-washing then deep conditioning, I section off hair, then apply KCKT in small amounts, making sure to equally distribute the product by running my Denman through.  After hair is smooth I twist and pin until I’m ready to style. Lately, what I’ve found helpful is letting the leave-in sit in my hair twisted for ten minutes under a conditioning cap before manipulating it by adding any other styling product.  This leaves the hair softer and more manageable, perhaps because the ingredients are able to penetrate the hair shaft without being disturbed.   

My hope is that by simply using this alone in the summer months, it’d work rather well as a wash and go styling product.  It has just the right amount of moisturizing properties, it detangles amazingly well, smells great and it defines curls like some of the best curl cremes I’ve tried!

An 8oz bottle cost $12.00 off the KC site, while the newly introduced 320z refill jug will run you $44.00, something I’m seriously considering investing in for the future;-)

January 21, 2009

Hair Update

Yeah, so I couldn’t wait. Last night I was bored and sick from what appears to be the beginnings of the flu, and decided to dabble in my new Aveda purchase. I’d been wearing my hair in twists since this past weekend, and was sleeping on them for the majority of Tuesday..a.k.a OBAMA DAY;-)…my twists by the evening were a bit dry to the touch and matted.
So before going to bed, I decided to rehydrate with Aveda’s Humectant Pomade. I undid each twist, applied the pomade in small amounts (a little goes a long way) to different sections, then re-twisted into larger sections. I then pin-curled the twists for the next morning.
Waking up this morning I was tired, but still excited to see if the results where what I remembered…and they were!!
My hair was shiny, to the point where it looked as if I’d just deep conditioned! It looked healthy, bouncy and fresh!  The smell of course is an added bonus..and I guess the best way to describe it is, earthy.  

Getting to work, removing my hat I was pleasantly surprised because my curls perked right up…no hat hair! I simply fluffed and continued to check my e-mail.

So the pomade is a DEFINITE keeper, at least for the winter months.  My goal going forward is to use it specifically to rehydrate when my hair looks visibly dry, other times I plan on using another one of my favorite new finds, the Jane Carter lock and twist creme.  

This weekend I plan on changing my game plan a bit since my Jamaican Mango & Lime gel finished last week. Something I was disappointed about because I’d used it only twice to twist and the jar was already finir! On the other hand it did work fantastically well, leaving me with well defined ringlets post-twists. I will definitely repurchase, but recently I also received my new Curl Junkie product!!! I’ve been waiting to try the Coffee Coco Curl Creme for a while and will finally do so by the end of week.  I’m trying to veer off my clutch of using a gel for every style I settle on, so hopefully this produces good results!

January 19, 2009

Brilliant Aveda

Lately I’ve taken to revisiting old staples that have often worked in the past, but for one reason or another just never followed up on.  The one product that tops that list is something I first begun using over eight years ago right after my first BC.  The stylist who’d chopped my hair used this to twist & coil my hair on two to three inch hair and the end result…simply AMAZING! I mean, it was moisturized for DAYS! I had these cute little coils that I kept twirling and twirling around my fingers sitting in Biology class.  It was great because at the start of my natural journey I had already begun to use quality, trustworthy products on my hair.  It was smooth sailing for a while….for a good long while actually..lol! My hair grew to shoulder length before I stopped purchasing and the simple reason was that…I just couldn’t afford it.

Aveda’s Humectant Pomade was my little secret once upon a time for brilliant shine, bouncy curls and one of the most long-lasting twistouts I’ve ever rocked!  But alas, once my hair grew past shoulder length, my college economy could not very well spend over $20 on a 2.6 ounce jar of pomade.  Back then I couldn’t find the justification, so I switched to curl enhancing gels mixed with beeswax.  This mix worked respectably well but could only do so much.  I often had to use more gel and wax to compensate for the thickness of my hair which was dangerous once dried…basically you run the risk of flakes and over-dryness due to over-applying.  With the Aveda pomade the tune was always different.  Generally I styled my hair with the pomade to do double stand twists, a great utility for this because the pomade had a natural ability to lengthen my hair, leaving me with elongated twists for several days, just one of the many added bonuses of this stuff!

But lately, I dunno…this one’s been on my mind for some time, particularly  due to the dryness in the air lately.  I’ve been a quiet fan of Aveda for some time, and have used products not only from their hair care line, but from their skin care line as well.  Both experiences were thumbs up scenarios, but again….$$$$!!!

Even today, after  years of styling my hair with products that have cost as little as $2 to products that cost $58 (you know who you are!) I was still a tad reluctant to invest again in something that was so compatible with my hair.  So to shush my doubts and concerns, I decided to read up more on precisely WHY now’s the time to re-introduce my hair to this product.  According to a fantastic article on natuallycurly.com:

 

We hear a lot about the humectants. But many of us may not know what they are and how they work….Humectants are used in skin and hair-care products to promote moisture retention. These hygroscopic compounds posses a chemical structure that attracts water from the atmosphere and binds it to various sites along the molecule.

These ingredients are used in many products, especially those designed for consumers with dry, damaged hair. While they can provide benefit in certain circumstances, it is important to understand how they work and under what circumstances they might provide less-than-optimal results. When considering whether to use humectants, the most important piece of the puzzle is how the weather can impact your hair and the performance of these molecules.

Hair exposed to very dry air without protection can lose its moisture, develop an unpleasant texture and can become unruly, flyaway, and frizzy. It also can become more prone to breakage and split ends. Conversely, unprotected exposure to excessive moisture and humidity can swell the hair cortex, causing the cuticle scales on the exterior of the hair shaft to become ruffled and giving hair a coarse, unpleasant texture. Clearly, neither scenario is desirable.

You can read the rest of the article here, but essentially I was sold on the basics. This product has what my hair needs at the moment, it’s worked in the past…and with time I’ve learned how to manipulate my hair enough times to note how much to apply!

According the Aveda’s site you should:

Apply to wet or dry hair prior to braiding or making a pony tail. This will keep stray hairs in place and maintain a smooth, controlled style.

I love it for twist outs and to generally retain moisture to my ends.  Heck, if you’ve got dry curls, thick & coarse hair, hair that lacks moisture on a day to day basis I highly recommend the humectant pomade!  I’ll be adding to my routine the end of week and will post results;-)

January 16, 2009

Hair Rebel

It’s cold. Simply put, it is brick all up and down the east coast, both yesterday and today, and my hair is crying out to me! It really is amazing how much the weather factors into the way our hair, skin and overall body look and feel. To go without water  or a good moisturizer for more than a day, and my skin is completely urecognizable.  My hair on the other hand forces it’s hand by rebeling, turning itself  into an untamed beast in constant need of nurturing and taming. 

Last week, to style my hair I tried for the first time the Jamaican Mango & Lime Gel, which I’m happy to report stood the test of twists and gave me an awesome rockakble twist out!! But eh…weather is a greater force of nature…so by yesterday afternoon, bustling in and out of work through the streets of NYC, the dry cold winds tied knots of dryness all over my crown of glory! Not to mention the ‘hat hair’ that’s the equivalent of morning hair.

But thankfully, today is Friday which means it’s time to give my hair it’s weekly lesson on love and attention! This go-round I’m a bit more excited because I decided to try for the first time bentonite clay, a favorite cleansing mask amongst numerous curlyheads & naturals. claybentoniteWhat swayed me to give it a try was another one of my favorite bloggers out there curlynikki.  I’d been waiting on her product review for the mask and was excited to hear how well it’d worked, but most importantly how easy it is to apply!  You can check out her raving review here.  Basically it’s a mud mask that clarifies the hair without stripping it of its natural oils, a factor that immediately gets kudos and kisses in my book, especially with this kind of weather! My only concern is how well it cleanses my scalp, something that has been a sordid issue on my plate for some time.  Time will tell of course…

So, excited and with a new product in mind, I’m heading to the whole foods store after work to claim my prize! While there I’ve also made a note to pick up coconut oil to mix in with the clay, a nifty suggestion offered up by curlynikki, and something I’m sure my hair will sing praises about. 

Last week I also ran out of my Organix Coconut Conditioner and subsituted with MillCreek’s Jojoba conditioner which worked wonders!!  It really is eye opening in a way to see how well my hair responds to change…and good change at that!  By using better products, better ingredients and continuing to be mindful of what my hair responds to…everything hair related just supremely falls into place;-)

January 15, 2009

First BC

Back when I was transitioning, one of my main concerns during the process was the ‘who’ and ‘how’ factor.  Who was I going to trust to cut my hair and how was it going to turn out.  I’d already had a salon in mind, but regardless kept backtracking over my thoughts and concerns, trying to figure out the what ifs: what if there were other options,  should I go for them or stick to what I know?  I had zero friends who could offer up recommendations because all wore their hair straight, and frankly didn’t take my wanting to BC too seriously.

I leafed through magazine after magazine, (back in the day I was a HUGE Honey Magazine fan, may it R.I.P,) and cut out pictures, and copied down numbers of salons I’d call to inquire about price etc.  I really did turn into a investigative rabbit, bouncing from one idea to the next, sorting through my finds, until I eventually settled on a place that just felt right!  And the reason it felt right was not only due to the fact that I’d visited and done my hair there before…but I genuinely felt comfortable entrusting this person with something so important to me.  Now, I certainly didn’t want a religious ceremony with candles and incense  burning in the background…but what I did hope to look forward to was a relaxing experience, and frankly someone who could have answers to the many questions I’d filed away for some weeks. In the end I ended up making the right choice and choosing a great salon here in NY, Jelani’s Naturals.   jelani2

I remember seeing pics like these in magazine after magazine and LOVING the possibility of achieving this look.  Today, I sort of envy the choices those who are about to embark on this journey have.  The resources are endless!  Both Essence Magazine &  NaturallyCurly.com  have long realized the need and put together pretty cool & comprehensive salon directories  throughout the country.  Not to mention the growing amounts of haircare forums out there that are filled with spirited, experienced and knowledgeable people! My only regret is that I couldn’t visually document the experience.  But many on You tube have and it’s such a fun thing to watch!