Monday, May 30, 2011

Tea Tree Tingle: Impression

Saturday I washed, conditioned, and set my hair using Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner. I purchased them from Trader Joe's for 3.99 per bottle. Each bottle has 16 oz of product. Roughly .25 per ounce.

Both products share the same light 'fresh herbal' scent. I'm very familiar to the smell of tea tree oil which can be a bit overwhelming to those not initiated. The tea tree oil aroma here is light. The peppermint blends with the tea tree to 'freshen' it up. I did not find the scent to linger afterwards.

My first impression of the Shampoo: Very light. Completely clear. In fact, I had to squint to see it come out the bottle bc it blended in with the water from the shower so well. It does lather. A clean lather not moisture rich. I was expecting some kind of cooling sensation. What I got was a very light tingle. I felt it more when I shampooed the second time. Once I rinsed, my hair felt very clean. In fact there was a slight 'squeak'. Next, I applied the conditioner. It was similiar to a light whipped lotion. I did not notice a tingle with this product at all. It did have decent 'slip' so I was able to detangle with little problem. Directions stated to leave on for 3-5 minutes so I completed my shower routine then turned down the water temperature and rinsed. My hair felt clean and there was no squeak whatsoever so it did indeed moisturize. Since I'd washed my hair 3 days before, I probably overdid it with the 2nd shampoo.

CurlyNikki stated that the conditioner could also be used as a Styling agent. I decided to do my first braid out and used the Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner as a leave in/ setting lotion. I sealed each plait with castor oil then rolled my hair on foam rollers (they are lined with satin). I let my hair air dry.

Castor Oil's medical use is a stimulant laxative. I got it from Walmart. I'm not sure how much ricinoleic acid is in it which I believe is the good stuff in Castor Oil that makes it the bomm. My Walmart Castor Oil had no additional additives. First impression: THICK. It's almost clear. Slight yellow tinge and came out the bottle fairly slowly...the consistency reminded me of molasses. I'd be scared to turn this bottle up *shudders* My stomach is quite sensitive and this would probably have me house bound for days. I did not like the application of castor oil. It was tacky and kinda sticky. I've used coconut oil as my sealant in the past and the two do not compare in texture and ease of application. I was quite skeptical but stuck it out and applied it to each section before I braided. After the 3rd braid, I mixed a dab of conditioner on my finger before dabbing the castor oil. That helped out a lot with application. A lot less sticky feeling.

I was so tired when I finished. I'm gonna have to build up stamina for these hair sessions...

Sunday morning when I took the rollers out and the braids down my hair was indeed soft. The castor oil had sealed my hair very well and it felt nicely moisturized and not overly greasy. There was a oil residue left on my fingers as I undid the braids but i just rubbed that into my hands. Playing with the amount I apply might eliminate that issue. My hair no longer felt sticky or tacky. The braid out was very well defined and last all day. Soft, glossy, perfectly defined hair. No frizz. I will definitely use the castor oil in the future.

I took these pictures several hours after I took the braids out. Finished style:

"Diva" lol....

I actually had a few pics of me smiling...until I realized that my Sunday dinner was stuck squarely bw my teeth. Not a good look. I will refrain from immortalizing myself that way.

'Kitchen' shot is bc I can't quite figure out what texture my 'kitchen' actually is! Sometimes that area slightly rolls up in a soft 'O-curl'. I wonder if that qualifies it as a 'bead'? Soon as I touch it, it dissolves. Most of the time, the hair back there is free form. not really curling or coiling or anything. This hair isnt permed. When I had my last relaxer, this part was shaved. Perhaps this area has heat damage? Quite possible as I only went off heat a few weeks ago. I've been frying that hair back there straight, weekly. Tsk, tsk, tsk....Once I start deep conditioning maybe it will curl up....

Friday, May 27, 2011

Regimen? What regimen?

woo boy.....10 minutes of poking around a natural hair site and you'll run into the word 'Regimen'. It seems this is the first thing you should get sorted on your natural hair journey.... didnt really have one. no real set cleansing routine. barely a night routine-I faithfully tied it up at night but that it. didn't put anything on it. I haphazardly greased/conditioned my scalp. there was no deep conditioning....I's a wonder all my relaxed hair hasnt fallen off my head if those cries of 'Regimen' 'Regimen' have anything to say about it. wasnt until about a month or so ago when in desperation I began seeking out information bc I had so much new growth that my old regimen of whatever shampoo and conditioner are under the cabinet was not cutting it. at. all.

I have severe dry scalp issues. some kind of dermatitis or psoriasis. it's ridiculous. it can flare up so bad sometimes that I give up and wear a scarf over my hair bc I can't deal. yet another reason to get things sorted out. the quicker the better.

I want healthy hair. I want to ease my transition. I want optimal growth. I really really need to get my scalp into better condition! clearly I need to fall in line with the program.

So first, what I was doing:

Apply Apple Cider vinegar to scalp
Shampoo with Pantene Relaxed and Natural Shampoo
Condition with Nexxus Humectress
Grease scalp with KeraCare Dry Itchy Scalp glossifier
For flat ironing: IC Hair Straightening Polisher
No Heat: Protectiv Growth Lotion and Mega Growth Oil, Lustrasilk Setting Lotion

I started with this post from CurlyNikki - I printed it out and took it with me when I got off work early this Friday. I was sooo very thankful that CN took the extra time to note where you could purchase the products in brick and mortar stores. I chose to begin with those products to keep it easy and hopefully affordable since I was pretty much replacing every hair product I was using. I also tried to pick products that would be multi purpose. I started at Trader Joe's with the plan being to head from there over to Whole Foods, then to Sally's. After dropping more than half of my hair budget in Trader's, I just swung by Sally's and Walmart. No sense tempting myself in Whole Foods with some boutique-y products I can't afford right now.

Here's my loot:

Trader Joe's
Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo 3.99
Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner 3.99
Vitamin E Oil 3.99
Tea Tree Oil 6.49
Jojoba Oil 6.99
99% Aloe Vera Gel 2.99
Organic Raw Honey 5.99

APHogee 2 Step Protein Treatment 3.79
EcoStyler Olive Oil 4.79
Rattail Comb 1.29
Applicator Bottle 1.89
Keychain Spray Bottle 0.99

Aussie Moist Conditioner 2.84
Castor Oil 2.76

Total Spent on Hair Products: $52.78

Sometime on Saturday I plan to start a new regimen. I'll do the protein treatment and use all my new products.

Friday night I mixed up my own little batch of Scalp Healer. I just made that name up. I have no idea what I'm doing.

In the new Applicator Bottle I put

1 oz Jojoba Oil
1 oz Vitamin E Oil
.25 oz Tea Tree Oil
.25 oz Olive Oil

Shake, Shake, Shake....I presume this should last me at least a full week more than likely longer. I am not sure if I'll apply it nightly or every other night. I just put some on about an hour ago. just drew a few lines here and there on my scalp and massaged it in for about 2 mins (will have to work my way up to 10min). I was expecting it to tingle but it's not really (probably need to pick up some peppermint oil for that effect). It honestly feels as if the oil is going to run off my scalp onto my face and neck, but several checks have proven that not to be the case. So it's not a tingle but there is definitely a sensation.

I'm off to pineapplette my hair (have pics! will post soon!) CN's advice is to stick with your regimen for 3 weeks, journal, take pics, and then access your situation. So that's what I'm gonna try to do.



Something that has been on my mind lately is patterns…..specifically ‘curl patterns’. A few weeks ago, I caught a glimpse of my first little coil. It was in the center of my head. I had just washed my hair and while squeezing excess water out with a tshirt (I don’t faithfully use a tshirt. More times than not I use a towel but I never rub) the little one caught my eye. It was a perfect little spring. Defined. Possible the diameter of a crochet needle maybe a tad bigger, it was hard to tell…..

I was sooo excited! I ran to my husband and demanded that he look at it. He said something to the effect of ‘Awww, that’s cute’ (more on him and my hair in another post). I didn’t think to take a picture of it at the time. Though I haven’t mastered the settings on my camera so it may have been for naught. Now when I wash my hair, I spend quite a bit of time searching for coils or anything else…..carefully hunting thru my forest-y new growth trying to detect any possible pattern.

Since then I’ve only spotted one other defined coil. I read an article somewhere that stated I wouldn’t know my true curl pattern until I cut the relaxed ends off. Of course I’m impatient. I ran across the term ‘curl envy’ and I’d say I’m a prime candidate. I admire other naturals’ curls and coils. Hoping that I may ‘luck’ up with a pattern so fun to play with….

Within the last day or two though, I’ve discovered that it’s possible to not have any curl definitio . There are some layers of myth and fantasy that are interweaved into the natural 'process' that trick some of us newbies that we can all bounce out the house with perfect little spirals and curls. At first, I was disappointed in this news, but quickly buoyed back up with the huge wealth of twist out tutorials on YouTube. It’s a rich resource for creating any curl pattern/definition you desire. So coils and curls are possible regardless of whether it grows that way or I create them myself. I've admired natural hair for several years and many of the natural heads that I saw weren't curly and coily. Many of them where simply unprocessed. Relaxer free.

Of course, this comes into the realm of accepting myself. I mean, if I’m chasing after another desired curl pattern, is that wholly accepting me as God made me? Or is that being creative with my hair? I’m not sure yet. I may not really understand my feelings and thoughts on this issue until my hair is 100% natural.

One of my favorite things to do these days is devouring Before and After Big Chop pics. I’m an exceedingly large fan of pics that include a picture for ‘Now’. I’m really into seeing that progression. What did it look like the day of? The next month? What does it look like now?

I really can see in these pictures that for a lot of women, the line I’ve read about how your hair ‘wont be the same 2 months from now, 6 months from now’, really rings true. I don’t think their patterns change so much as the length of the hair displays the pattern different. I’m sure product knowledge goes a ways in this respect as well…over time, many people find the products that work best for them to make their patterns pop. For those with no discernable pattern, they rock all kinds of awesome hairstyles. No curl pattern does not doom one to uncute hair.

I feel like a child at Christmas. Someone has bought me a gift. It’s a surprise and I can open it whenever I’m ready. The anticipation of seeing what’s inside is beginning to gnaw at me….on the other hand….the possibility of feeling initial disappointment tingles at the edges. I don’t want that. I don’t want my first meeting with my natural hair in 18 years to be…."Oh….you’re not what I wanted…not what I expected". That’s sad. It hurts my feelings now to think I may feel that way about my hair. But I also know that many naturals don’t love their hair right away….they come to love it, as they get to know it.

I just wonder which way it will go for me. Love at first sight….or a slow fall over time.

In the end, I want to love it. I want to embrace it. I want to be myself….as naturally blessed as God created me to be.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pushing boundaries….

Today I’m pushing myself past my comfort zone….well I’m pushing myself some more past my comfort zone by attaching a 5 inch flower to my twist out. I reset my hair last night by spritzing on leave in conditioner (nothing good. Just some old optimum care I’ve had forever going to whole foods this weekend in order to pick up some products suitable for my coils/curls/whatever is going on up there) then using the previous setting lotion (lustrasilk moisture max- hate) to retwist the Bantu knots. They looked better today. Had more volume. The twist outs up top look great. A touch frizzy bc I kept bothering them in an effort to create more volume and ‘presence’. So much better than the limp spaghettis I had yesterday. The back…well….its back there. For some reason I’m not retaining the definition after I untwist those. I’m wondering if it’s bc the hair back there is already pretty short, so when I separate the twist further in an effort to blur the parts then it just get fuzzy and you can’t tell what its doing. It just isn’t straight. Eh…..i’m rolling with it which is sooo much easier to do when you can’t see it. I just forget it’s back there.

So I popped on a tan and brown head band but I didn’t like the way that looked so I put on a Goody Ouchless black band and then pinned the flower I normally attach to jackets and tops to my hair. This is a little much for me. I’m accustomed to making statements with my makeup and jewelry. Not hair accessories. Lol….but I think it works. It’s a BIG flower. 5 in diameter. No missing it. When I first came into work, the security guard looked puzzled. When I got up to the 4th floor where my office is I got some stares but no one actually said anything. Hmmmm……ok, I’m working on just’ doing me’ and not caring what they might be thinking. It does help that I’m leaving. Lord knows that helps. I’m a work in progress though.

Speaking of which, one of my other coworkers in my office is leaving. She put in her resignation today. She has known since before I started working here in March of ’10 that she was relocating. Her husband is a doctor and got a fellowship in a different state. Although I knew that I would more than likely be relocating as well round about the same time I didn’t say anything bc I didn’t have anything in stone and I don’t have a ‘close’ relationship with my colleagues. She has been very vocal about it for several months and now she’s just flat out thrilled to be leaving and isn’t doing much to hide the fact. I’m thrilled as well of course. But I’m still playing the game til I put in my own resignation 4 weeks from today. I’ll be leaving 2 weeks after her. I should start typing that….i like to have it ready well in advance.

When I put in my resignation I’ll talk more about my experience at this current job. But for now I’ll leave it be. I’m sure there wont be any visitors here til I leave anyway….but you never know.

So anyway…the big old flower in my hair. It’s fabric. I got it from LB on super clearance for 2.99. it’s Big….not as large as some I guess but it’s easily on par with the flower I wore in my hair for my wedding. Which I felt was big as well but it was my wedding so dramatic flair was what I was shooting for.

It seems that I have this flamboyant part of my personality but I’m also a bit reserved so I’m always trying to balance the two. Gotta have a bit of flair to satisfy but not too much that i want to run a hide. I feel a little bit like running today, lol.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Crowded in here......

one of the things that i've been mulling over constantly for the last few days is confidence and fear. my feelings on both. my personal measurement of both. and how that is going to affect my future actions.

blog hopping along, i've run across posts that discuss the confidence factor that is required or grown out of necessity for those who rock their teeny weeny afros (twa). these really resonate with me bc i've dabbled off and on with the idea of going natural for probably 8ish years. the primary reason i wasnt ready to make the leap was the confidence that i could see would be required of me to step out. be different. embrace myself completely as i was naturally created. i've struggled with confidence regarding my appearance since i became aware of my appearance sometime as a child. i am not sure if i've ever been 100% confident in the physical self i present to the world, so there is lots to unpack here.

i'm unsure what changed to make me decided i was 'ready' for this journey. ready to transition. the time came to relax and i....just didn't....and then suddenly i was waiting to see. see what was gonna grow out of my scalp. see if i could do it. i didnt mark the point where i said 'This is it. I'm transitioning'. It was a slow realization...that as the weeks went by and i'd washed my hair, i knew i wasnt going to relax it. i always knew from the jump that when i 'got ready' that i would be transitioning versus chopping it all off bc i knew i'd need to time to develop the confidence to step out and say this is me. i needed the time to grow a thicker skin. the time to believe in the beauty of natural hair. to believe in the beauty that I will have with natural hair.

feeling accepted has always ranked higher in importance than i care to admit or want it to be. i'd love to be a person who didn't care if others like me or wasnt bothered by being shunned or made fun of. but so far i am not. will that ever change? i dont know. i would certainly embrace it if it does but i must take into consideration and embrace the current me NOW and she....she aint really ready to just 'walk in it' at the moment.

but i want to be. i wonder if i should wait to 'feel ready' or take the leap and just jump. get ready when i get there. i'm a planner. so i like to be prepared. right now, i'm unsure of what i'm preparing myself for.....

timing. aside from the effort it takes just to get my transitioning hair to look presentable for church, work, and checking the mailbox, i am also considering an upcoming relocation. my husband has taken a job midwest and in about 9 weeks we'll be moving. moving 1000 miles. moving from this place that has only just begun to feel like home. moving to the unknown. i havent decided whether i'll big chop myself or if i'll have someone else to do it. if i do have someone else to do it, and that person is a stylist, i'd much prefer the guy who've i've grown comfortable with while i've lived here these past 2 years...which puts me chopping in July versus December. a full 5 months earlier than the plan.

i like the idea of owning my hair and taking it into my own hands. ridding myself of the past and embracing the future. i also like the idea of getting a clean cut. having it nicely shaped so as my hair grows, it is uniform and crisp. i could combine the two. do my own initial big chop and then go in to have it professionally shaped and finessed. i'm talking like i know my stylist deals with natural hair. i think he does. i mean, i've seen him flat iron naturals but the one time i picked up the phone today to call and ask this question, i didnt follow thru. i do not know why.

now the fear really comes into play when the relaxed hair is off and it's just me and my natural hair. that period where i'm just getting to know her and she might be a little pissy. bc yeah, i've staunchly ignored and denied her for 18 years. i'd be pissy with me too. already i can tell my hair has an opinion. as i flat ironed it over the course of months during this transition, she has grown more and more vocal over her displeasure. she has made it known that she will not lie straight and sleek all the time. she has drawn up at every opportunity. the slightest humidity gets her excited. sleep wrong and she's got something to say.....then i'm reading here and there that i should lay off the heat. back away from the heat. ween myself off the heat. so here we are. she seems happy but now the relaxed ends are all confused like "whaaat??? huh??? you want me to 'set' like how???? in this curly doodad??? i don't feeeeel like it, ect". (the relaxed hair talks slow.) so i'm afraid of being left alone with the hair with the opinionated personality. afraid of exactly what she's gonna do up there. not knowing kills me....i like to know what's going on so i can know?

i've never had really short hair, so i'm afraid of that. i wear my hair out of my face frequently and i've also pinned it up a lot when it's been longer in the past. so i'm comfortable with showing my face and having it all on display. it's the fear of not having the option. you know? of having a fairly large head and not having much to disguise that fact. the fear of not feeling feminine. omgosh, i never knew how much i defined my feminity by the length of my hair. it seems absurd. my mind and body are clearly female so it's impossible to mistake. i have no idea where this came from and why i'm clearly so attached to the idea. but i am. this needs to be dealt with bc even if i transition the full year, my hair will still be really short when i chop.

do i want to deal with this during the relocation? during such a big change? should i just wait til the dust settles of leaving my job, the move, TheDoc's new job, and the period of my own unemployment? i've only been to this new place once to find a house to rent. i saw very few black people. i didn't see any natural women. i understand that my husband and i will be greatly adding to the african american population there. how will i be perceived with natural hair? with a twa? do i meet everyone with my transitioning hair and then deal with the wondering after i cut it all off or let them meet the *new* me? the me with natural hair?

i've got a lot of thoughts crowded under this hair....i could go on the rest of the day. as i get closer to the move i'll be evaluating how i feel on these points. and prayerfully make a decision that is right for me, in that moment...that i can live with.

A bit Rusty.......'s long?

yeah, gonna start up the old blog routine again. in the past i've blogged about weightloss (40lbs that i somehow gained back last year. what!?!?) and about being broke and getting married. i've locked those up a while ago. the lady blogging then...she's a different lady now. perhaps i'll unlock them in the future...perhaps not. i haven't deleted those other 2 there is hope, lol. its been a few years but i've got some stuff to say...and the blogging, it helps get it out of me.

primarily what's on my mind right now is natural hair. in particular my transition. i've been relaxer free since Dec 3, 2010. i'm rolling up on 6 months.

originally i was certain i would be transitioning for a solid year. do the big chop in December 2011 more or less around my birthday.....but since going 'heat free' just this past weekend (May 21-22, 2011) I don't know.....things are poofy. soft and poofy. i've been rocking a bantu knot out for the last 4 days and i'm wondering about my committment to the year transition. frankly, i'm thinking it would be easier to get rid of these straight ends sooner rather than later.

gah....'they' were right. 'they' all say 'just cut it off' and i'm a little irritated to find that....'they' just might be right, lol. 'they' being the general consensus when you ask Google how to manage during your transition. 'They' start with a couple tips about wearing your hair in various sets then eventually end with or cut it all off, lol.

I'll be back in another post (probably later today) about my hair and other stuff. But yeah, i'm back....i'm blogging....i've missed it.