Post-holiday hair

So I’m 6, going on 7 weeks post relaxer and unlike the last time I’m not as desperate to relax because…

1.     I have been in Thailand (and Dubai) where the water is softer hence my regrowth seemed less obvious

2.     Since discovering affirm 5 in 1 I have been blowdrying (not straightening) after every wash as the hair seems more able to handle it, because its stronger (esp after swimming while on holiday) this has helped to smoothen the regrowth

3.     I have been too busy holidaying to think about hair

4.     Also my hair has not been bothering me – the extra inch gained from the last relaxer has helped it to look good in most styles – so this morning after I got back from the gym I just kept it in a high pony and put it in a sock bun – looks ok I think

5.     My hair still looks decent when worn down.  Here I am at 6 weeks post on Dionne’s b’day:

post holiday hair

As much as the Thai water was good for my hair I’m not sure the humidity was good for the look of my hair – that’s probably one of the few things you can give the UK kudos for –  you can hold a curl in this weather cool dry weather without it being limp!

I need to get some more shampoo since the whole limit on liquids thing meant that I left shampoo for ease of travel and also from fear of my baggage being overweight.

I also want to keep up swimming now I am back from holiday so will need to look into getting some protective swimming conditioner and some chelating shampoo to keep my hair from breaking.

So yup looking forward to next relaxer and the extra growth it will bring esp as I have kept my ends healthy and breakage to a minimum this time so should be able to go without a trim assuming nothing changes.  I expect to be borderline APL.

Fingers crossed the relaxer application does not hurt as much as it did last time.  May be able to stretch to 12 weeks this time – although that will mean my relaxer day will fall awkwardly after pay day… hmm we shall see how it goes – a lot can change very quickly.

Roll on September 2013 for armpit length

So I am 3 weeks post tomorrow – I have found this week since the Affirm 5 in 1 protein treatment that my hair has been in the same mood for most of the week which has meant that I have been able to wear it down without too much heat.

I have appx 6-7 weeks left until my next relaxer and am really looking forward to it as I think the minimised breakage will mean that I am able to resist trimming and should therefore see a significant length increase as opposed to having it mostly trimmed off.  Also the lack of breakage should also help with making the hair look thicker overtime.

I am interested to see if the 5 in 1 helps with keeping the regrowth in check in addition to the rest of the hair – I mean I doubt I would be able to comb 8 weeks of regrowth from route to tip – but it would be interesting to see if it strengthens the hair that much.

I mostly just want to be APL already and def want some more thickness – I think this hair length isn’t sexy because of the layering. Layering is fine when you have a lot of length but on shoulder length hair and short hair it doesn’t help much in my opinion.

Feeling impatient and unsatisfied… roll on September!

The discovery of Affirm 5-in-1: I think I may have found the holy grail…

2 and a half weeks post. Ok so how are things on the hair front?

Well it seems the products that the Deloris recommended are all I need.  I actually feel like I struggled during the last relaxer period with products – carrot oil was moisturising but didn’t smell very nice.  And the natural hair products were being used for the sake of using up the products.

Right now the Keracare moisturiser is perfect for daily – every other day moisturising and the Affirm 5 in 1 reconstructing conditioner is the truth!!

In all my life of using conditioners I don’t think I have ever purchased one that stops breakage in its tracks.  This is the first deep conditioner that I can say makes an immediate difference.  Aphogee which everybody raves about is supposed to do this but I can’t say I noticed any difference whatsoever.

I think what makes this one work is the ph balance of 4.5.  The fact that it addresses my hairs porosity issues, the fact that it gives the hair some serious slip – so it naturally detangles it and then there’s the fact it gives the hair so much strength that it stops feeling so fragile.  I even blow dried afterwards and I usually avoid blow drying because my hair is so fragile and I find blow drying normally rips chunks of the hair out, but this time I lost a nominal amount

My plan is to look after my hair as best I can so that I will not need to trim when I go for my next relaxer.  My ends are in pretty good shape so as long as I continue to use this moisturiser and the conditioner I think I should be ok.

The challenge will be not over manipulating on holiday – how many times will we go swimming etc?

Now that I can keep my breakage in check it might help my hair to thicken up over the course of appx 3 relaxers.

I feel really impatient, since I now know that I can minimise breakage and therefore retain length more quickly.  Roll on July and moreso, September relaxers.  Not that I’m wishing my summer away!

10 weeks post – relaxer day

feb_april_comparison2013_small  backview_april27th

So at 10 weeks post relaxer = I decided to end the stretch but the funny thing it wasn’t the regrowth that ruined it.  It was the breakage in the rest of the hair and that’s down to the moisturiser I was using.

I MUST AVOID using the Design Essentials moisturiser, which I used when I was natural, because it makes my hair shed – about 6-7 strands slide out at a time and it totally burnt my hair during the relaxer process – that and the fact that I had so much regrowth that every time she parted my hair she created a sore spot and then slapped the relaxer in that area – I had no hope and was literally in pain 5 minutes into the whole process.    The Design Essentials Moisturiser is also really sticky so overall I think it literally needs go in the bin.

I also didn’t notice a huge increase in length – but then again with all the breakage I experienced towards the end, I was almost expecting to have to hack it off at neck length.  But of course once I realised that I still had hope I was then looking for some extra length.  But what I have realised after checking my hair in my reflection in shop windows and in the train on the way home is that the back of my hair is longer but the front is feathered so that it only looks CBL.   But when I look at the back it’s a bit longer and overall the strands are sitting on my shoulder and bending a lot more so I can notice the difference – it’s subtle though.  But I’m yet to compare to an actual picture of my virgin relaxer 10 weeks ago.

SO – my verdict on relaxer stretching?

I think this time I will see how I like the Keracare moisturiser and Affirm reconstructing conditioner that Deloris, my hairdresser recommended.  If I find that I can bantu knot with it and that my hair remains strong, then I will continue to stretch.  But if that is not the case then I will relax no later (or earlier) than 8 weeks post.  Which is 22nd June, so actually it will end up being 29th June (9 weeks post) since that’ll be after payday, – Deloris closes at 6 on weekdays so there is no way I would make it there after work.

I have to say even though my head was on fire today I liked the way she handled the situation i.e. didn’t ignore me and tell me to get over it like some hair dressers do  – she was generally sympathetic and washed it out straight away.

So I think the pictures show that there has been a slight increase in length.  Although it’s not drastic.

I didn’t have Ndidi (my boyfriend) take a direct back view picture last time.  But the back view picture from today shows that the longest length (my hair is in a V/U shape) is about an inch from APL – so that bit should be APL by my next relaxer.­­­

Bantu knot-outs, the answer to stretching relaxers?

Photo 03-03-2013 01 26 05_small

So now that I have settled in to week 8 going on 9 of the stretch I think I am quite happy with the stretch at present – I have quite a lot of growth, but it doesn’t look bad at all. In fact I seem to have attracted a few compliments.

My bantu knot outs are pretty much on lock – and the olive oil styling mousse wets the hair but then dries quickly and leaves some moisture in the hair. I was only using it because I thought I needed to use it up and get rid of it, but it seems to be the perfect solution for setting my hair in bantu knots.

I think making it to 12 week post should be fairly easy now that I have this as a go to style.

I think the bantu knots work out to be better than the satin rollers because as they give less volume with the curl. The satin rollers give too much volume which makes my head seem like one big poof ball.

My concern at this stage is that I will definitely be needing a good trim – I hope I haven’t done too much damage to my ends with the detangling frustrations – and I sure hope the growth will outweigh any ends damage.

I think my routine should be as follows:

· weeks 1-3 wrap and wear down

· weeks 3-7 buns

· 8-12 bantu knot and wear up

The bantu knotting is something that probably wouldn’t work too well with a bob although I guess I could have a bantu knotted style – but I remember doing it on short hair and thinking it didn’t lay right enough to wear it down and that I ended up with a bit of an aunty mavis look…

I definitely think relaxed hair suits me better in terms of:

· Price

· Time spent at the salon

· Hair health

· Growth potential

· Styles

· Time spent on hair

Going beyond 8 weeks post relaxer

So as of tomorrow I will be 8 weeks post relaxer. Officially four weeks to go…

This is the official time that I would have normally relaxed back in the day. There is clearly enough new growth at the back -1.25 inches -Front however is only 0.75 of an inch.

I’ like to go another 4 weeks, but might find that 10 weeks is my limit for walking around looking like who shot John, or just generally missing wearing my hair down.

The satin rollers are coming in handy and the olive styling mousse seems to be a good moisturiser for setting the curls as it dries quickly so don’t have to worry about it being wet in the morning.

In an ideal world I would stretch to 16 weeks but it definitely gets difficult from around 6 weeks post – my hair becomes more of a regularly nagging thought from that point onwards.

There is slightly more breakage now too – I went too far with the low manipulation and left my hair in a high pony after washing and putting leave in conditioner in for 3 days in a row, because I was only really moisturising the hair on the outside each morning, the hair on the inside became dry and knotted.

So I had to section it up and roller set it in satin rollers after the 2nd day of moisturising and setting the hair seems to be well moisturised and therefore breaking less.

But I think as a drying method in the first place I should never have left the post washed hair for more than one night without separating the sections and moisturising.

I think deep conditioning weekly is all very well and good, but I need to think about how it dries and how I work the moisture back into it because if the hair is left dryer and more prone to breaking after washing, then it may not be worth washing weekly – Might be better to wash fortnightly to reduce the manipulation from washing.

I definitely will need to cover the ends of my hair in Vaseline when I go for a touch up as the lady seems to believe in relaxing bone straight– which could be detrimental. Ideally I’d put neutralising conditioner on the ends too – but chances are she won’t be too impressed about that step…

So one thing I have come to realise from my back to relaxer experience is that no hairstyle is without its issues be it braids, natural hair, weaves or relaxer – but I definitely prefer the effort – outcome ration from relaxers when compared to natural hair…

What’s the longest I have stretched? I think I accidentally did 10 weeks when in France back in 2002 back then my hair got quite long – I think it may have got to APL – I just remember watching my hair in the mirror and thinking wow its actually quite long and I remember Leyla saying I was acting like I had never seen hair before.

Back to the creamy crack after 2 years natural

So I relaxed my hair on Saturday.  Well I guess I have stuck to my resolution, that 2013 would be the year of wearing my own hair.  I think braids are great – but as the hair gets longer the process gets longer and after 2 years I got sick of sitting for 8 hours to get my hair done and paying £60 for the long tortuous session.  As for wearing my hair natural – that was actually not that bad as far as hairstyles were concerned, I found a couple that I considered my ‘go to’ styles.  But for me, the real problem was the ssk’s – the balls of hair that would come off the end of my hair and drag the rest of the hair out with it.  I actually felt like I was constantly losing hair because of these balls – and regardless of moisture – these balls would appear when my hair was wet or dry.  It felt like they were almost incurable and it made me not want to do my hair. But the annoying thing is the hair needed constant doing.  In the morning it had to be done because I couldn’t sleep in my pinned do’s because the hair would shrink overnight and so the style would not keep.  Also the 10,000 hair pins that were required to do the style would make my head hurt.  Then after the gym it would need doing because the shrinkage and sweat and steam would mean the hair needed to be restyled.  And if I washed it in the gym – wow! Instant shrinkage and lots of those little balls, which meant that in the morning if I air dried in plaits I’d have my work cut out.

The nice thing about my natural hair was that when in it was fully stretched state over the course of the week due to prolonged plaiting, it would allow for nice volumised looking buns – I love how big the hair could look because of the thickness and just knowing that I was free of any extensions or chemicals, it was a nice feeling – being free of anything artificial.

But in reality – I have a job– one that means that I have to get there on time every day– I found that even with my ‘go-to’ hair styles I was constantly late to work because I was trying to be delicate with those balls of hair at the ends of my plaits and my hair would always be at a different state since the last time I done it due to shrinkage, so I was trying to manage the shrunken hair if it wasn’t stretched to its fullest – I was also trying to look decent in as short a time as possible.

Bottom line? The hairstyles that prompted me to go natural are not the hairstyles that my hair likes. Ie. The twist and tuck up do’s all those that basically don’t involve plaiting or twisting the hair and leaving it in said state for a few weeks/months at a time.  When I think about it, it really was just too much manipulation for me to be doing the hair everyday – unbraiding what I had braided the night before and then styling etc…

So what now?

Well now I have the challenge of maintaining healthy relaxed hair – so as expected I have a few scabs/scalp burns from the relaxer application – and I have lost the fullness I had with my natural hair.  But if I can avoid getting broken sections of hair and avoid it getting to the stage where it looks overly thin – then I’m happy.  My plan for doing this is to relax every 3-4 months instead of 6-8weeks.  This will mean that the relaxer scalp burn will not be something that I have to endure very often – given that it takes about a week and a half to be completely rid of the scabs.

But also it means that the hair can gain some thickness from the new growth and also that there will be enough new growth to relax on my relaxer due dates – which means a) limited overlap i.e. healthier hair and b) a potential 1-1.5 inch growth spurt every time I relax.  That’s one thing I do really like about my relaxed hair – the extra length I gain each time I get a relaxer.  The hair that grows through is protected from breakage by the relaxed hair and so if the relaxed ends are protected by regular moisturising, conditioning and protective styling – then all should be well.

The only monster missing from the picture which I am yet to be reminded of is the random relaxer breakage.  Now unlike my natural hair which breaks because it is perpetually tangled and thirsty, my relaxed hair breaks because it has been permanently broken down by a chemical application which means it lacks protein, the ph balance may be off, it may be coated with the metals from the relaxer, and its generally weakened.  So basically breakage from my relaxed hair can be just as hard to cure mainly because it occurs just because the hair relaxed.  Then on top of that I will need to manage the demarcation breakage – which happens because there are two textures to manage on the same head – it’s where the relaxed hair meets the natural hair and if my plan is to stretch for 3 months at a time – this will be my number one challenge.  One of the things I am planning on not doing is daily flat ironing to iron out the odd wave you get from wrapping or to give the hair a bevelled under look.

I’m interested in testing the impact this has on the health of my hair – because I remember my relaxed hair breaking when roller setting – and when flat ironing occasionally and I wonder if I could have avoided this with by not using heat.  Given the utter state of my hair on some of my natural hair wearing days – not flat ironing minor kinks here and there should not really be a problem.