The Basics: Making Your Own Moisturizing Spritz



The fall/winter air can usually be quite drying and harsh on natural hair not to mention the amount of friction the hair experiences when your child wears hoods and hats to keep the head warm. Therefore, keeping the hair moisturized is more critical than ever if the end result is to maintain healthy hair and to retain optimal length.

Making your own homemade moisturizing spritz is a great way to give your child that much needed moisture in between washes and/or styling sessions. The great news is that creating your own spritz:


  • Does not have to be complicated--Seriously it could just be a bottle of distilled water you spray lightly on your child's hair
  • Can be readily made from items you most likely already have at home 
  • Is economical compared to buying expensive commercial products at the store that may contain lots of unnecessary ingredients
  • Is highly versatile--Can add Aloe Vera juice, glycerin and other natural humectants such as honey and agave, favorite oils and leave-ins. The main idea is that water is the prominent ingredient in the mixture.

Our current homemade mix.
The basic components in our spray bottle are:

  • Distilled water--This is a staple when it comes to creating any type of spritz for Z's hair. Distilled water undergoes a particular process that removes all the impurities found in normal tap water. Because of this property, distilled water helps keep products and spritzes from spoiling over time. I have read horror stories of unknown substances growing inside homemade sprays when using tap water. Proceed with caution if you choose that route. I would rather keep it safe and use distilled water.
  • Aloe Vera Juice--I love Aloe Vera Juice because it has amazing healing properties.  The juice's low pH (around 4-4.5) helps close lifted cuticles that had been raised after rinsing conditioner out the hair using warm water and aids in easing frizzy ends. The enzymes present in Aloe Vera Juice breakdown dead skin and oils from the scalp thus alleviating itchy scalp. I learned about the benefits of Aloe Vera Juice when I came across this leave-in conditioner recipe made by YouTuber Kimmaytube (this also marked the beginning of me making my own homemade products out of simple yet natural ingredients). 
  • Leave-in conditioner--Currently, I am using my Shea Moisture hair milk stash. I use to like the Yucca and Aloe Thickening Growth Milk on Z because it is specifically designed for thin, fine hair, is light, and does not just sit on Z's hair like some heavy creams. However, over time, the smell of this product has become quite overpowering to both Z and me. The Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus line is my absolute favorite right now. Although the bottle states for thick and curly hair, watering the product down some in Z's hair spritz really makes a huge difference in how well her hair absorbs the product.
  • Oil--Currently, I have not been adding any additional oils to Z's spritz recipe lately since oils (coconut, jojoba, olive, grapeseed, and wheatgerm) are already ingredients inside the Shea Moisture hair milk conditioners I have been using. I do not believe in having a super oily/greasy spritz recipe because I do not want it to weigh her hair down unnecessarily. Nevertheless, using oil(s) is a great way to seal in water (moisture) to prolong its retention inside the hair shaft. Another alternative is to omit the oil in the recipe and manually add it to the hair with your hands to ensure a proper seal.

And that wraps up the basics in making your own moisturizing spritz. The options are virtually limitless when it comes to creating your own recipe for your child's hair. What better way to use up that thick hair cream you put aside because it was too heavy for the hair? Add some of the product with distilled water and now you have a new concoction! Simple, right? Do some trial and error experimenting with various recipes and you might find out that you have a great product within the comfort of your home!

Not everyone's hair is created the same. However, I strongly believe that water is the best moisturizer one can use to replenish natural hair. The key to moisturizing your child's natural hair is to make sure adequate water is sealed inside the hair through the use of penetrating oils, butters, and/or creams.

Please note: Lots of misconception is out there stating that oils are moisturizing. They are not. Let me repeat. They are not moisturizers. Water=Moisture. Point blank. Applying oils on top of dry hair will only worsen the situation because they prevent water from penetrating the hair shaft. No bueno.

Using oils has its proper place when it comes down to effectively moisturizing the hair, and in the next post, I will explain a moisturizing method I have been reading about that can help maximize the moisture retention in your child's natural hair. Also, by breaking down the process, I hope it will help give you insight of where water, oils, and creams fit in a good moisturizing regimen.

Hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Just remember that thanksgiving does not have to be limited to just one day out the year...make EVERYDAY a day of thanksgiving to keep you grounded in how blessed you are. :-)

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Starting Monthly Goals and Assessments Next Month




Starting next month, I plan to post monthly goals I would like to achieve in regard to effectively maintaining and caring for Z's hair. I remember when it came to my hair a few years ago, setting monthly goals really motivated me to stay on top of my hair care regimen. Even after a year of dedication and consistency, my was able to achieve huge strides in the condition of my hair as seen below:



My goals were based on length retention; I knew I reached my goal when I have successfully gained/retained half an inch of length for any particular month. Through the process, I discovered that I was most successful when I truly focused on moisturizing my hair on a consistent basis and employing protective styling in my routine approximately 90% of the time. 9 times out of 10, when I spent more time ensuring proper maintenance of my hair, I did not have to fret about how much my hair was retaining in length...that aspect automatically came as a result of good and simple hair practices.

For Z's hair, I want to have that same focus. I will not base her monthly progress on the premise of length retention because I am not sure what the average hair growth rate is for children but rather I will focus primarily on the following two factors:
  • How well I keep her hair properly (not overly) moisturized
    • Doing a deep conditioning every two weeks
    • Spraying her hair with my homemade moisturizing spritz every over night or two
    • Using the LOC method when styling her hair to extend moisture retention
    • Taking care to observe how her hair feels
      • Under moisturizing the hair can lead to really dry and fragile ends which can lead to increase split ends and breakage
      • Over moisturizing the hair can lead to excess swelling of the hair shaft which can lead to breakage
  • How well I gently handle her hair
    • Minimizing hair manipulation
      • Styling her hair in protective styles most of the month
    • Detangling her hair only when wet with conditioner
      • Using the finger-detangle method on hair first before using a wide-tooth comb or modified-Denman brush (this helps reduce excess tension created by comb/brush)
As far as keeping up with length retention, I will do a check quarterly to measure progress. Like I stated earlier, I am unsure what the average hair growth rate is for young children; nevertheless, I believe that if I am consistent in properly caring for her hair, we should natural see great retention.

The reason I am starting next month is because the weather is getting really cool outside and the dryness is already having an effect on our hair. By setting goals each month, I can assess what is working in our regimen or what needs to be modified, added, or removed.

Do you set monthly goals for your child's hair and/or your hair?
Do you find goals to be beneficial to the success of maintaining your child's (or your) hair?

Until the next post...be blessed


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When Surprises Hit You, Just Keep Moving




I had so many great intentions for today that I had the day planned to a T. I was going to get up early, get some things done, style Z's hair in the morning to be completed by 11, get out to complete my Thanksgiving grocery shopping by 2, have Z take a nap while I clean around the home, fix dinner and eat by 5, get Z to bed by 7:30, work on the budget, get some pictures edited and articles posted by 10, and relax until I went to bed at 11:30.

Here it is after midnight and I probably got half of the items done. Z kept telling me something last night about Raleigh and something she saw on PBS Kids that she had to get ready for. It did not dawn to me until I got ready to tuck her into bed that she was referring to the Thanksgiving Parade. I TOTALLY forgot! I googled the time for the parade and sure enough it was today. I knew right then that my planned day would not go anything as planned. Usually, I would stress, fret, and get frustrated about these things but I made up in my mind that I will just go with the flow and keep moving on.

The parade ended around 12 (2 hours long), we walked around NCSU (my alma mater), got caught up in the crazy Saturday before Thanksgiving crowd, did not get home until 3:30, had dinner around 7, finished her hair around 8:30, got her to bed around 9:30, and here I am typing when I have to get up in 6 hours for Church in the morning.

Nevertheless, today was a good day despite the drastic changes in plan. I had a great time out with my daughter and got many great shots of her around my old campus (which is such a nostalgic feeling because NCSU is where I met my husband over 9 years ago). Everything was so beautiful with the changes in the leaves. Here are some pictures from the day. Enjoy!










I kept it moving...God Bless!
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Finishing Up November with Another Cornrow Updo Style



Although I could not figure out how to recreate the Pompadour look shown in this inspiration picture, I am still very pleased with how Z's new style turned out. With our styling session pushed WAAAAY back from early morning to late afternoon, I just did not have the time to play with her hair to see if I can create a full looking Pompadour on her hair (any tips I will GLADLY take!).


Her hair was stretched from African Threading her hair a couple days ago. Her hair had great sheen but felt a little dry around the ends of her hair so I remoisturized her ends braid by braid with water and sealed with coconut oil and Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I am implementing the L.O.C. method for a few weeks to see if Z's hair will stay moisturized for longer stretches of time. I applied a thin layer of aloe vera gel to help smooth the section of hair and create a better hold.


Instead of braiding her hair up like I did in her last style, I braided her hair from the side toward the back middle with the intention of braiding her hair up into an updo.


To create some interest to her style, I braided a portion of the top section sideways so that her twists would fall to one side. Here is the back view of her hairstyle:


The side:


The other side:


I will try to figure out a way to help protect the ends of her twists sometime next week. She likes her hair as is so I will leave it this way for a few days. I will be sure to post my updates to this style as they come. Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!

Until next time...be blessed!

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Do You Know Your Child's Hair? Let's Talk Porosity-Part 2




Last week, I started a three-part series discussing the topic of porosity. As explained in the Part 1, porosity is pretty much a measure of how well the hair absorbs and retains moisture deep into the cuticle layers.

Low porosity hair is generally resistant to moisture absorption due to tightly closed cuticles and can leave the hair feeling dry and weighed down with product build up. High porosity hair is generally a sign of damaged hair that absorbs moisture easily due to highly lifted cuticles yet is quite difficult to keep hydrated despite persistent conditioning/moisturizing efforts. Normal porosity hair is ideal because water can both be absorbed and retained inside the cuticle layer to efficiently keep the hair properly moisturized.

Knowing your child's hair porosity (low, normal, high) can help steer you in the right direction toward which products to use and how to apply those products on your child's hair for maximum moisturizing results.

In this post, I will describe several different methods I have researched for testing hair porosity. As a disclaimer, I am not claiming these home tests are 100% accurate (Read my thoughts at the end of this post about our own experience with one of the tests (float or sink test)).

The Porosity Experiments:
Ideal to use freshly cleaned (no products added) and (air) dried hair before performing these tests.

Float or Sink Test

  • Most documented test found on blogs and hair boards
  • Take a few strands of shed hair (with white bulb at end, not broken hair) and place them in a bowl of water
  • Wait 5-8 minutes
  • If hair stays afloat, the hair has low porosity
  • If hair floats in the middle, the hair has normal porosity
  • If hair sinks, the hair has a high porosity

Soak Test

  • Wet hair in shower and observe how long hair actually feels fully saturated with water (hair is like a sponge and can absorb up to half its weight in water)
  • If hair quickly feels soaked, the hair is likely porous 
  • If hair slowly feels soaked, the hair is less porous
  • Note: Porous hair dries quickly in the ends while less porous hair takes much longer to dry

Glide Test

  • Take a strand of hair and gently slide the hair between the index finger and thumb along the length of the strand from tip to root
  • If hair feels really smooth, the hair is less porous (tightly closed cuticles)
  • If hair feels really uneven and bumpy, the hair is more porous (highly raised cuticles)

Mist Test

  • Take a spray bottle of water and set the opening to spray a fine mist
  • Hold bottle 6-8 inches away from hair and mist the hair
  • If hair is coated with beads of water and they just run down the strand, the hair has low porosity
  • If hair is coated with beads of water for a few moments before absorbing the water, the hair has normal porosity
  • If hair immediately absorbs the water without beading on the strand, the hair has high porosity

What is my take on the popular Float or Sink  Hair Porosity Test?

I performed the float or sink test on both my hair and Z's hair. Based on the criteria above, our results showed that our hair has low porosity since our hairs remained on top of the water. However, when I pushed both of our hairs underneath the water to see what would happen, they quickly sank to the bottom.

So does that mean we have highly porous hair? I am almost 100% sure we do not have porous and damaged hair because we do not use heat, chemical, or harsh treatments on our hair. So the float or sink test really left me questioning the validity of the test I have seen so many women use to determine their hair porosity. 

In my research, I came across this post by The Natural Maven that was posted earlier this year (Jan 2013) about the junk science of hair porosity tests. After reading her post, I pretty much had the same sentiments about the float or sink test. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think. I do not want to spoil it for you!

Here is another article done by the Science-y Hair Blog that further solidifies the reasons why these these tests are not as reliable in determining hair porosity. Overall, the message of the article suggests that the best way to understand your child's hair porosity is to:
  • simply observe the shine of the hair (high shine-low porosity, low shine-high porosity)
  • how moisturized the hair feels on a daily basis
  • how the hair responds to products

At the end of the day, learning and knowing your child's hair is all a matter of trial and error. The goal is to figure out what works for your child's hair and to implement those things as a regular part of your child's hair regimen. I will say that most children's hair fall under the low/normal porosity unless their hair has been exposed to high heat, harsh chemicals, and/or rough mechanical handling (brushes, combs, hats). 

In the next post, I will conclude the three-part porosity series with some techniques to help maximize your child's moisture absorption and retention based on her/his porosity level.

Until then...be blessed!


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Stretching Natural Hair: African Threading versus Banding



In the previous post, I detailed Z's deep conditioning process. In this post, I will go over my thoughts in choosing to African Thread her hair instead of banding it to achieve a good no-heat stretch.

It was not until recently I was introduced to the process of African Threading. My first attempt of the technique left a really good impression as it created a refreshing and unique look to Z's hair. I was then made aware that African Threading can be used to stretch the hair and watched this video demonstrating the awesome results of the process that is very similar to using a blow dryer!


Banding

I have been banding for before Z's time on my own natural hair. It was (and still is) a very popular and effective method of stretching natural hair. My main issue however with the banding is that over time, shed hairs tend to get wrapped around the cloth ponytail holder as shown below.



Obviously this is not an issue when using a nice new pack of ponytail holders, but those hairs do accumulate after subsequent uses if you are not the vigilant momma removing those hairs as you see them. I am VERY lazy in that aspect and am more likely to throw those ponytail holders away before going and picking out all those hairs (from over 50 holders). Hmph! Besides, I tried that a few times, and I just do not like the sound that comes from ripping the tangled hair away from the holder. Sounds so gruelsome!

Other than the loose hair getting tangled around the holder (which may cause good hairs to get entangled also), I do not have much of an issue with banding. I usually soak them in oil so they do not dry out the hair and to wishfully decrease the likelihood of hair getting tangled around the holder (which I have been proven unsuccessful thus far...Tips???). The level of stretch when it comes to banding depends on how far the holders are spaced, how big the sections are, and how dry the hair is once the ponytail holders are removed. The best part I like about banding is how quick (to me) it is to install them to the hair.

African Threading



Although threading is new to me and I am still practicing at becoming better with the technique, I love the fact the tension of the thread really creates a good elongation of Z's hair texture all in one continuous wrapping motion from root to tip. There is no stopping to grab a ponytail holder, smoothing out the loose section of hair with hand (or comb), wrapping and pulling the hair through the holder, and stopping to repeat the entire process. With the threading, I can keep my both hands focused on the section of hair and keep a good even tension on the hair as I am wrapping the thread around the section.


In addition, I really enjoy the fact that I do not have to keep up with all those ponytail holders and pick through which ones I can use immediately versus the ones I have to stop and pick the hairs out first before proceeding with the banding process. With threading, I can have all my thread pieces cut and knotted before hand to just pick up and go as I move through her hair. Easy peasy.

I will post the stretch we achieve from African Threading her hair before I move forward to styling her hair. She likes The Bead Barrettes at the ends of her hair (Ghana Plaits is what the sections called when they are threaded). Although the barrettes do not have the weight of using individual beads, they still make enough clacking noises when she swings her hair from side to side. :-)

As a final note, The Bead Barrette also satisfies my issue with the ends being exposed from African Threading.

All happy parties here!

Update: Here is a picture of the stretch achieved two days after African Threading her hair:



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Our Deep Conditioning Process



I am on the fence whether or not to make it a goal to deep condition Z's hair every two weeks or just continue to do it once a month as a part of her fall/winter weather routine. Nevertheless, I do know that the method can either be an overnight deep conditioning or a 30 minute deep conditioning using a warm towel. Yesterday, based on our time frame, I decided just to do a 30 minute deep conditioning session using Shea Moisture Organic African Black Soap Purification Masque and Coconut Oil.


When I deep condition Z's hair, I usually do not take down her hairstyle especially if her hair is styled in cornrows before conditioning. The purification masque is designed for dry flaky, itchy scalp so having her scalp exposed from the cornrows gives me great access to apply the product directly and thoroughly onto her scalp. For this session, I applied the purification masque on Z's hair and scalp without adding any water. I believe this process is considered dry deep conditioning, but I need to look it up to make sure. I usually spritz a little water on her hair prior to the application of the deep conditioner but wanted to see if wet/dry conditioning of the hair truly makes a difference. The masque product seems very moist already. I rather her hair in its dry state absorb more of the product than to have water already absorbed in her hair thus leaving little room for the conditioner and oil to move inside the hair shaft. Maybe it is all theory. Maybe it is science. What are your thoughts and experiences?

After the application of the masque, I added coconut oil to focus mainly on her ends, which are the oldest and most fragile part of her hair. The combination of the masque and oil was so lovely; her hair was like fragrant butter. I proceeded to add the following coverings over her hair to maximum the heat treatment (in the exact order):

  1. Plastic grocery bag--remember: reuse, reduce, recycle. :-)
  2. Warm hand towel--could be microwaved but our hot water gets HOT so I ran the towel under the hot water for as long as I could manage to heat the rag.
  3. Another grocery bag--to secure the hand towel over her head.
  4. Bath towel--to keep everything covered so that as much heat can stay under the towel instead of out. Also a great way to keep her seated in one place for 30 minutes...hehe.


After the 30 minutes passed, I removed her style from her hair and sectioned her hair into four sections in preparation for rinsing and co-washing. Her hair density (the amount of hair on her head) is starting to become really thick although her strands are fine. Therefore, washing her hair in sections is a great way to make sure I am gentler on her hair when it comes to detangling because I am able to finger detangle her hair more efficiently first before using a wide tooth comb through her hair.


As we know, life happens so we had to run some errands before having the chance to rinse out her deep conditioner and co-wash her hair. I just kept her hair in the four sections and over time, she had 4 awesome puffs. She really enjoyed the style because it is RARE for her to wear A puff, but now she had FOUR of them! :-)

When we returned home, I rinsed the masque from her hair thoroughly with warm water. I did not detangle her hair at all until I applied the Giovanni Smooth As Silk conditioner to her hair. I finger detangle and separated the four sections into smaller sections to be twisted into chunky twists to keep them detangled as I moved throughout her entire head. I did a final rinse with the twists in and our deep conditioning session was done.

Instead of using cloth ponytail holders, I chose to use African Threading to stretch her hair for her next style. In the following post, I will explain why I am starting to prefer African Threading over the cloth ponytail holders.

Be blessed!
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Look What I Found: The Bead Barrette



Honestly, I cannot stress to you enough how EXCITED I am to have in my possession the product you see here. This accessory is just pure genius! But first, let me explain how I got to this point in the first place!

The other day, I did a simple Google search to see what other natural hair blogs for girls I can visit and came across the blog Brown Girls Hair. Upon exploring the blog, I was led to the blogger's YouTube channel and watched one of her videos reviewing and demonstrating this product called The Bead Barrette.

Now, let me tell you: I am not the type to watch a review or see something and go straight out to impulsively buy a product.  HOWEVER this item's a rare exception!

So what is this product???

It is called The Bead Barrette. To keep things simple, it is a barrette that gives the illusion of a row of 7 individual beads that literally snaps to the ends (or literally wherever you want) of the hair WITHOUT having to:

  1. string hair through lots of beads
  2. use a rubber band


I have never used beads in Z's hair not because of the fact that I would have to string those little beads on her hair (I am a jewelry designer and am accustomed to working with thousands of little beads) but simply because I could not find a feasible alternative to using rubber bands.

Rubber bands are a big no-no at this stage of Z's journey. I am still learning how to manage her hair and do not need any outside factors such as rubber bands encouraging any unnecessary breakage for the sake of accessorizing the hair. I have tried my best to refrain from walking pass the seemingly hundreds of different colored beads at our local beauty megamall shop with Z so I would not entice her interest. She has made it known on several occasions that she wanted to try beads in her hair and my response would be "Not right now." She is so sweet; she would simply say "Ok mom, maybe later." Bless her little patient heart especially when she sees her other friends wearing them.

Anyway, after watching this review, I checked out The Bead Barrette website for more information about the creator of the product, Jennifer, her inspiration behind the product (must read...amazingly practical concept!), and how much it would cost to order a pack or two online. The prices online are reasonable: $3 for a pack of 20 barrettes (illusion of 140 beads). But this process gets even better...

I am usually patient when it comes to ordering online, but when I found out that The Bead Barrette product is sold at Walmart, I got all giddy and thought, "God is doing big things for Jennifer!" It makes me feel great when I see people achieving success in the things they enjoy and mean a lot to them. Kudos to her!!!

Now, I had nothing holding me back. I went on the hunt for The Bead Barrette. Today, I went to one Walmart, and there were no Bead Barrettes. I hopped down closer to my side of town to a bigger Walmart and low and behold, I found them! Z was with me, and when she saw what I have been looking for, she was ecstatic! I picked up a pack of the only two colors available at Walmart--pink and white. Online, there are options in clear and black as well.

I will do a review on the Bead Barrette in a later post once I have truly tested them out in Z's hair over a longer period (a week or two) time to see how they hold up. For now, I will show how a few of the barrettes look in her hair. She was so prissy once I put them in (lol):


Close up:



She cannot wait for me to do a complete style with more barrettes. I guess I will have to postpone my inspired Pompadour hairstyle for later so I can appease her desires to wear her new accessories.


Her current hairstyle has been awesome though! Her scalp did not flake (after the initial application of coconut oil over her entire scalp) and her ends remained well moisturized (as I lightly spritzed her hair every other night).  I pinned up her flexi rod curls into a little Pompadour to switch up the look of her cornrow style again. She is just too awesome...full of personality and she likes for her hair to reflect that as well. Tomorrow, I will take down her braids in prep for deep conditioning.

Until the next update, be blessed!

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