Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tightly Curly: How I Choose Conditioner to define curls and condition hair

One of the major components in using the Tightly Curly method or 'any' method for that matter...even if you don't use anybody's method-you just want to define/style your curls using conditioner...is the conditioner you use.  I know this may not suit everyone's hair type or desired styling choices but for me I want a conditioner that will add some weight to my many fine-stranded curls and help my hair to stay clumped and become as frizz-free as possible.   I also want/need it to have great slip.  I desire it to soften my hair and give moisture and shine by conditioning my strands and one that has staying power; one that doesn't evaporate into 'nothingness', leaving my hair bare and naked.  Because of all these 'demands' I place on the products(not just conditioner) I've become a label-reader.  The more labels I read and the more research I do on these ingredients the more I become familiar with these ingredients and what they do and I'm better able to determine if a product would work for me.  I've heard some naturals say that to stand in the aisle and read labels for 20 minutes is not a desirable thing for them but I feel that it is a worthwhile endeavor, for me, that is.  So as I examine the properties of what makes a good conditioner for my needs I come up with these attributes.  These attributes are based on Teri Laflesh's recommendations in her book, Curly Like Me,  and also what I've found that works for my hair.  She enumerates the following in this order of importance.

  • Weight(and Conditioning/Softening Power) - Weight ingredients keep curls clumped together and give curls some 'hangage'(instead of shrinkage).  The main ones I look for are Cetyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol(Cetyl + Stearyl).  These are fatty alcohols that condition the hair.  They also function as lubricants, emollients and thickeners and keeps the product from separating.     ** Other examples are Behentrimonium Chloride, Quaternium 18, stearalkonium chloride, and cetrimonium chloride.  These are weighty thickeners and lubricants that give slip without oiliness.**    I look for these ingredients near the top of the ingredient list(after water, of course); definitely within the top 3 ingredients.

** LaFlesh, Teri (2010-04-15). Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long, and Strong (Kindle Locations 2962-2963). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.

  • Slip - Slip allows for (curly) hair to be able to be combed, or detangled with the likes of a denman brush or with just fingers.  Based on Teri's book, she recommends that the slip ingredient be listed right after the weight ingredients.  I don't have a need to go that deep right now because I have found my staple product that gives the slip I need and the slip ingredient in my product is listed 2 ingredients after the weight yet this product works for me.  Some examples of slip ingredients are silicones, glycerin, and stearamidopropyl dimethylamineBased on Teri's recommendations the slip ingredients do well if listed as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient(not counting water).  Personally, I do not use silicones.  My hair does not seem to like them so I make sure they are not in any products that I use.

  • Emolliency/MoistureEmollient ingredients help retain moisture and give hair shine.  These are best effective after the weight and slip ingredients.  If they are before the weight and slip ingredients the product can tend to be too greasy.  ** Examples are oils or butters, such as olive oil, avocado oil, meadowfoam seed oil, coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, palm oil, and sunflower oil.**    
 ** LaFlesh, Teri (2010-04-15). Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long, and Strong (Kindle Locations 2985-2986). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.

These product ingredients should make up the first 4 or 5 ingredients on the product list, if it is to be considered to be a good conditioning, weighty conditioner.  Some naturals have the type of hair that gets easily weighed down by heavy products.  Mine is not that type at all(at least for right now).  My hair can take some weighing down to keep it in 'control'.   

My Products and What I Use

While I do have my holy grail conditioner-one that I cannot live without(Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture) I find it to be on the thin side.  Although this conditioner has great slip and softens my hair like "none other" and my curls happily pop into existence with this conditioner I am not willing to switch to another conditioner in place of my Tresemme.  So I decided to see if I could mix something with my Tresemme to give it some weight and to meet some of these criteria that I've just outlined.


I mainly use Tresemme Naturals and water as my detangler.

Leave-In (used to define curls)
I uses a "concoction" for my leave-in conditioner to try to have the "best of  both worlds" type-of-conditioner.  I came up with the following:

  • weight - Tigi Bedhead(weighty fatty alcohols and conditioning power)

  • slip - Tresemme Naturals(slip, great conditioning/softening power)

  • emollients/sealers -  a few drops of castor oil(sealer and shine).   I have at times added Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner for the additional weight and emolliency in the shea butter.

  • additional product(s) - aloe vera juice(ph adjuster, also gives added moisture and softness to hair) 

What ingredients do you look for in your hair products?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tightly Curly for short hair: Tips for Defining and Separating Curls

When I first big chopped I was looking for techniques to use for short hair to define and maintain curls.  I just fell in love with naturally curly hair and that's all I wanted; to wear my natural hair curly.  I found a lot of information for curly hair for medium to long length hair and even twa but not much for short/in-between length hair.  That is one reason I wanted to begin to document my journey for anyone who may be looking for tips and techniques to use in maintaining/wearing their short/in-between hair in it's naturally defined and curly state and also so I could have a record of my natural hair journey.   

So here are some of my tips for defining and separating curls using the Tightly Curly Method for short hair.   You may not need all of these tips so use what works for you.  All of these work for me.  My hair is very thick and as it grows the thickness seems to increase and to be able to manage my hair I HAVE to detangle very well and divide my hair into sections before defining my curls.  Another biggie for me is to use a heavy/weighty conditioner.  I add products to my conditioner to make it weightier(that's another blog post). 

  • Detangle very well first - Since my hair is thick I find it easier to make detangling a separate process from my defining/separating process.  This week I detangled before defining/separating.  I find detangling prior to defining makes the defining process easier and I can move faster through THAT process.  I've also decided to detangle at the sink and not in the shower.  It takes too much water.  That way I can take my time at the sink and detangle thoroughly instead of rushing through it trying to get out the shower.
  • Use heavy conditioner with excellent slip -  I love mixing things and experimenting with as natural products as I can find.  I used my trusty Tresemme Naturals(softens my hair and provides excellent slip when mixed with water) with Tigi Bedhead(nice, thick conditioner) with a little Giovanni 50/50 Balancing(just to try it out...thick conditioner also) with about 2-3 drops cold pressed castor oil(experimenting with it and it is thick and adds weight and emolliency to conditioner and hair). I also added about 1/8 cup of aloe vera juice as a ph-balancer.  Hair that is ph-balanced is less likely to frizz b/c the cuticles are flat and closed.

  • Section hair - I find as my hair is getting longer I have to have a mechanism whereby I can still maintain control of my hair and I'm able to keep my hair from becoming unruly.  Sectioning my hair and putting them in twists prepares my hair for the defining process or for whatever styling I want to do on my hair.  Also, binding the hair (in twists/brands/ponytail holders) keeps the hair from drying out before I get to that section and allows the conditioner to penetrate and soften my hair even more.  By the time I get to each section, my hair is soft, malleable, and curls are clumped.  I've chosen to keep my hair in twists b/c twists are the easiest to take out when it comes time to work with each section.
  • Practice - This sounds like a funny tip but I wanted to include it to say that the more you do this method on your hair the more "trained" your hair will become to curling in it's own natural curl pattern.    The more you do this method your natural curl pattern will be "reinforced" so to speak.  The more you do it, the easier it will be.

  • Pay attention to the ends of hair - As you go through each clump of curls take the time to smooth them from close to the root all the way to the end.  There may be times when you may feel some roughness on your ends.  Don't rush through and leave those rough ends take the time to smooth, smooth, smooth them.  Sometimes your ends may begin to dry out as it takes time to get to all sections of hair.  Just keep a spritz bottle with water and spritz your ends.  You may need to add condtioner  and continue to smooth, smooth, smooth until you feel that clump of hair smoothed out and curling on its own.  If your hair is too short to just smooth it down you can twirl the strand around your finger to make a coil/doodle. 
  • Don't rush - Plan your time accordingly and set aside the time you will need to give full attention to this accomplishing this process on your hair.  We all know how to plan/set aside time for our cleanse/deep condition routines.  Just do the same for this if you decide to do this method on your hair.  I don't do this routine every week b/c there are some weeks I just don't want to put in the effort/take the time to do what it takes for this.  But that only lasts for about 2 weeks at the most, it seems.  I start to miss my tightly curly curls and when the desire strikes I plan the time it takes into my regimen  and I love every minute of it.  When I plan accordingly and don't try to rush through it's a pleasure and not a chore.

  • Smooth already clumped curls - The goal is to separate curls in the way they naturally want to clump.  Your curls are going to clump the way they are naturally and genetically designed to clump/curl.  I find my style turns out better when I just work with the way my hair clumps and not against it.  There are sections of hair that may not clump as easily as other sections.  In those cases I section my hair into small clumps myself and smooth it until I feel the strands are smooth between my fingers and then twirl the ends around my finger to help them stay together.
  • Smooth single strand knots -  I run into these, not many though.  The suggestion in Teri Laflesh's book is to clip them but I never have.  What I do is smooth more conditioner or conditioner/water over the whole strand concentrating on the knot.   As I smooth more conditioner the knot gets soft and I can eventually separate my strands out of the knot and the knot ends up "melting away" under sufficient conditioner and water.
  • Apply enough conditioner - Conditioner is the medium whereby our hair is detangled sufficiently.  It is also the medium that encourages our curls to clump together(with sufficient smoothing and raking).  Apply enough conditioner and water until conditioner foams begins to foam.  I use the excess conditioner that comes out in the foam on the other sections of my hair.  It may also look like you have too much conditioner in your hair but as you smooth each clump of curls your hair absorbs what it needs and the excess is smoothed off of the strand.                
Well, that's all the tips I have for now.  Hopefully some of these can help you in condition-styling your hair.  Even if you are not following the Tightly Curly method these tips can be used to care for your curly tressess in whole or in part. 

Additionally, here is a video that gives a visual of how I go about defining my curls using Tightly Curly method.

 Here are some more pics(as well as those above in this post) of my results just this week.

NOTE:  Yes, there is dried conditioner in my hair (my hair is 99% dry at the time of this picture taking).  The next day after sleeping on my hair(tied up in a satin scarf) the dried conditioner specks were gone.  There were some in the top of my hair(since I don't sleep on the top of my head) so I just put a little water on my fingers and squeezed each curl that had conditioner still in it between my wet fingers and the conditioner disappeared!)

Friday, March 15, 2013

One Year No-Relaxer Celebration!!!

I am celebrating my 1 year anniversary this month.....


My last relaxer was last March 2012 so that means I am one year without a relaxer this month!!


 yea me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





My first video!

Ok, so I decided to try my hand at making a hair video and starting a youtube channel...we'll see how it goes.  Getting in front of people and talking is really not my thing but I feel that in life there are times you need to put forth some effort to get out of your comfort zone and try things you may not be totally comfortable with(wholesome, non-harmful things, of course) and maybe develop an untapped skill/talent.  Who knows?  You just might like it.  I was nervous at first but I began to get the hang of it and began to enjoy it......I think :-)

These videos are intended to create another avenue in documenting my natural hair journey and of course, to help someone along the way in their hair journey.  

I decided to video my last cleanse/condition session.  I started my hair later in the afternoon and was tired by the time I started.  I didn't sleep well that night and by the next day I had a splitting headache while I was videoing my results but I made it through.  You live and you learn.  I know next time around.  Yet,  I think it came out ok for my first try.

Here is part 1.

Here is part 2.

I was quite surprised at how long these videos were and I even cut out some footage.  Next time I'll have to work on shortening it a bit.  I know how I feel when I watch a video that is taking too long and moving too slow for me...I'm out...

I pray you enjoy and thanks for watching!!

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