Showing posts with label Curls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Curls. Show all posts

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Hair | Combat Dry Winter Strands

The past month has been rough on my curls. I think back-to-back 'Wash & Go’s’, neglecting my haircare habits coupled with the crisp winter air are the main culprits. I know how to keep my hair in good condition in cold weather but I haven’t lately. At all. In truth I’ve been lazy since I completed my transition to natural in 2016. I rarely use heat and I don’t use chemicals so I was lulled into a false sense of security. How could I have damaged hair? I don’t do anything to it - but that’s precisely the problem. My laziness made me forget the impact a little TLC can do to winter-beaten strands.

What I've noticed is that I was far better at caring for my relaxed hair and in looking back I've realised there's a few areas I’ve slipped up, especially during these colder months. There’s 5 ways I’ll be taking steps to prevent chronically dry strands for the rest of the winter and if your hair is suffering too, give the following a try.

Have a winter routine
Having set steps on how and when to care for hair and switching it up depending on the season will help eliminate dryness. I was so regimented with my routine when I had relaxed hair and during winter protective styles were key, I cleansed once a week with shampoo and never without following with a masque or treatment to keep my hair hydrated, moisturised daily, limited direct heat to no more than once a month to prevent drying my hair out further and spaced out relaxer services for several months. It sounds like a lot but once you have a routine in place it becomes like second-nature. Since becoming natural I gradually lost consistency with what I used or did to my hair and I stopped adjusting for the season but I've now created a new routine for my curly hair which includes most of the below points (I'll share the full details in another post).

Get that daily hydration
I’m just not talking about drinking enough water everyday (which I'm definitely trying to do more of). There’s several ways to inject moisture back into dry hair during the colder months but my main focus has been using a daily moisturiser. This is where I’ve slacked most but being consistent with adding a little moisture each day makes a huge difference by the end of the week during the winter. In general I like to keep any daily moisturising light as my hair gets build up easily so I tend to use water-based sprays and milks. If your hair needs less just use a light oil whilst the hair is damp to seal in moisture and if your hair tends to need more layer products or apply thicker, buttery moisturisers which are longer-lasting on very dry porous hair.

Treatments and masques
When it comes to wash day I’m usually pretty good with sticking to only using gentle moisturising shampoo and conditioning formulas which my hair love. However, what I haven’t been doing as regularly are pre shampoo treatments and intensive conditioning masques after shampooing to counteract the impact of the cold - but these can make the biggest difference. You can do both for maximum moisture or use one or the other depending on your needs. Applying treatments before shampooing tends to work better for fine hair which can get build up easily and masques after shampooing can be more effective on porous or thicker hair but it really depends on what products are being used. I like to use lighter natural oils as a pre shampoo treatment and I’ll mix my favourites together and warm them up - I love Jojoba, Coconut and Avocado. I then saturate my hair in the oils and let it sit for at least 15 minutes or I'll leave it in overnight and wash out the next day to save time in the morning. This means when I come to shampoo my hair feels like butter and detangles like a dream (no, really). It makes my wash day routine a breeze and if I finish off with a hydrating mask it’s the ultimate for a happy hydrated fro.

Try protective styling
Braids, twists, weaves, wigs, buns - whatever will keep the hair tucked away from the elements will mean it’s less affected by the cold weather and it’ll stay moisturised for longer. I wore a lot of protective styles whilst I was relaxed and when I first became natural and looking back has made me want to try more. I recently installed crochet faux locs for the first time myself just for fun as I wasn’t sure whether I’d like them on me. The process was much easier than I thought, especially as I'm not the best when it comes to styling, but I'd love to try it again. As I often need my hair curly for photoshoots and events it's been hard to protective style as much as I would like which is why the Wash & Go’s have increased. Combine that with leaving the house with wet hair in freezing cold weather and of course my hair was going to suffer. It’s screaming at me to tuck it away it so for the rest of the winter I’ll experimenting with more protective styles as much as I can.

Trim away damage
Knowing how often to trim really depends on hair texture, condition and how it's styled. My hair is fine (but looks thick as the strands are densely packed) and it can knot and split very easily. Dryness worsens this problem so my ends can become more damaged during winter. When ends are split and damaged the only (permanent) solution is a trim and the more regular the better. Every 6-8 weeks is suggested for damaged hair but as hair becomes stronger the time between trims could be as long as 2-4 months. I was obsessed with trimming or 'dusting' (very small trims) when my hair was fully relaxed a few years ago. When the hair is straight it's so much more obvious if your ends are split, thinning or damaged so I would snip at these every month. I didn't take off much hair but enough to keep my ends neat. With curly hair it can look in good condition when it's not and curls are also more prone to splits so you really have to pay close attention to minimise damage. I can usually tell when my hair is off - the ends get super dry and can be difficult to style which I've seen a lot this winter so I got a trim this week. I definitely left it longer than I should have as my last before that was in November. My hair feels so much better already and until my hair is in better condition, I think trims every two months are needed.

Sticking to the above has already started having an impact on my strands so I'm hoping constant dryness will be a thing of the past soon!

How do you care for your hair during the winter season? 

Christine Stewart x

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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

5 curl defining products which actually work

I'm constantly asked "What hair products do you use?" and any curly will know that finding the 'perfect' products takes a lot of trial and error. Achieving defined curls in particular was something I used to struggle with and I've tried so many gels, creams and mousses in the past which don't work well for my hair at all that I thought I'd share what does.

All have pros and cons but these are the products which always deliver for my hair which is mostly closest to 3c in texture (see Naturally Curly chart). How I prep and care for my hair for definition is key and I've detailed my full process in post but the most essential part is having clean, wet hair first. I've found that gel-based stylers and creams are most effective for me and I don't tend to use any of these products together as I've found they work enough on their own to provide the kind of hold I'm looking for. The definition from each product usually lasts for a couple of days before it wears off and I can usually get away with spritzing my hair with a light moisturiser or water to revive the product between washes.

The Gels 
I currently rely on the  (£14.99/227g) most. It was originally gifted to me by the brand last year and I've been buying it on and off since as it's not always easy to get hold of and I've confused it with the As I Am Coil Defining Jelly so many times which performs entirely differently. The Curling Jelly is a gel-like liquid texture containing Aloe Vera, Beetroot extract and Vitamin E. You don't need a lot of it for definition as the hair can look a little crispy if you use too much. My hair needs to be well moisturised with a leave-in before applying but my curls always look beautifully defined with this. I just rake in small amounts in sections and let air dry.

I also love the (£9.50/340g)* which contains Aloe Vera, Sunflower Oil, Marshmallow Root and Coconut Oil. It's much thicker than the As I Am Curling Jelly but I can go heavier on application without the hair looking coated and the hold is natural-looking. I've found the Design Essentials Gelée works best with other Design Essentials products (posted here) as I've found it can go a bit flaky or leave a residue when I've used it with some of the other leave-ins I have - a good way of testing out whether products will work together in your hair is to rub a little of each of them together in your palms before applying.

One of my other favourite gel-like products is the (£10.99/326ml). It's the easiest product for me to get hold of as it's available from Superdrug or Boots, tends to be on special offer a lot and the product lasts me a long time too. You only really need a small amount for hold as too much can also make the hair sticky. Like the other products it contains Aloe Vera (I'm starting to sense a pattern) and I'm convinced the Agave Nectar inside (a humectant which provides hold) makes this product so good at giving my hair definition without drying it out.

The Creams 
I love to use creams too as I've found they provide a more hydrating, natural hold than gels in general. The two cream products I use most are the (£21.50/200ml)* and the (£24/250ml). The Aveda curl enhancer contains Aloe Vera and Marshmallow Root like the Design Essentials Gelée but the texture is quite runny - it feels and looks like a light conditioner. The Bb Curl Creme is much thicker and needs to be smoothed and worked into my low porosity hair for definition and it contains Babassu Seed Oil, Brazil Nut Seed Oil and Beeswax. Both also contain 'cones' which can build up on the hair if overused and not shampooed out thoroughly so I tend to apply small amounts of either of these products on wet hair after conditioning. I've found that I mostly use these when travelling as, unlike the gels, they don't require a leave-in to be applied beforehand. 

These are my favourite products to use but this is not an exhaustive list. I've always made a point of trying as much as I can to find what works best and with curly hair experimentation is key. If you're struggling with styling try the products you have in a different way or add something new. It definitely took me a while to figure out my hair so don't be discouraged if you haven't figured out yours yet.

*samples - read my disclaimer here.

Christine Stewart x

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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Fluffy Twistout Tutorial [Video]

It's been a really long time since I've tried a twistout on my hair surprisingly as this used to be my go-to style. I stuck to only creating a few twists on wet hair and the result was big fluffed up curls. See the video below for how I did it.

The Video: 

How have you been styling your hair lately?

Christine Stewart x

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Thursday, 10 March 2016

DIY Hair Growth Oil [Video]

Until recently I haven't really been concerned about the length of my hair and I stopped doing all of the things which helped me get longer hair in the past. It wasn't a conscious decision but where I obsessed over hair growth for 4 years, when trying to reach waist length relaxed hair (see ), I naturally took a step back and just enjoyed my hair for what it is. I've been pretty scissor happy lately too, chopping randomly at my ends since I completed my transition (to ) back in  last year. As a result I haven't retained a lot of length in the last 6 months but I would love to have a little more hair to play with since the shrinkage is a killer!

I used to regularly rely on an oil mix containing natural and essential oils to promote growth when my hair was fully relaxed. I'd apply it with a massage every few days and mix a little into my shampoos and any conditioners which needed a boost. In past year I've only really been using or and I've merely used them to detangle or as a pre shampoo treatment.

I've been loving Fiona's () posts on hair growth recently (found and ). She reminded me how beneficial natural oils can be for the hair, especially essential oils like peppermint, and detailed a really interesting study regarding its effect on hair growth in her post. She suggests putting a mix of peppermint essential oil and carrier oils in every product which comes into contact with the scalp to boost growth which is such a great idea. I've now gone back to making my oil mix which includes peppermint oil and I'll be applying it to my scalp regularly. I'll probably add it to certain products like shampoos, conditioners and hair gel too, but I haven't tried this yet.

The below video details the oils I use and how I mix them together. I'm relying on oils I've always used in the past so feel free to make substitutions if you try this or let me know what your favourites are if you already do this. I don't have an exact ratio for my oil mix but I always ensure there's enough carrier oils in the mix to counteract the potency of the essential oils included as they can cause irritation. If you've not used them before, definitely test the essential oils on the inside of your forearm first in case it results in a negative reaction.

The Video:

How do you boost your hair growth?

Christine Stewart x

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Review | Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus

I've been experimenting with a lot of different products of late and whilst I try not to play favourites these products from the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus line are the ones I keep reaching for again and again.

The (£10.99) gives a lot of slip and definitely makes my hair feel soft and shiny. It's made with Silk Protein (to smooth the hair) and Neem Oil (for shine and anti-frizz) as well as Coconut Oil and Hibiscus Flower extract. The consistency is quite thin and runny though as it's a daily conditioner. I was definitely expecting the formula to be a lot thicker given the ingredients and that it's produced for thick, curly hair. This hasn't been a problem for me though as it does get out tangles fairly easily. I usually apply post-shampoo, detangle and then rinse after a few minutes. If your hair gets weighed down easily this is probably a winner, but if it takes a lot more to keep the moisture in you'll may need something heavier.

The  (£12.99) is my go-to product for adding extra definition to my hair. It's very thick and the perfect partner for frizzy hair. I love that you can use it on wet or dry hair and it gives really soft crunch-less curls regardless of when you use it. I usually add a little in sections after moisturising or apply it to my ends when they're starting to look a little flat. The ingredients are similar to the Curl & Shine Conditioner but this product is also made with Carrot Oil, Avocado Oil and Aloe Vera Extract and it smells so good.

I've been using the  too but as I've already reviewed this I won't detail much of what I've stated already. I've been using it mostly with the above products and it provides the right amount of moisture to my strands. The bottle is tiny though so I get through it quite quickly!

I'll definitely be picking up the Curl Enhancing Smoothie and the Styling Milk again soon. The price is a killer and I wish the products were much bigger. There are certain brands I'm willing to pay more for though and Shea Moisture is definitely one of them. I like the Curl & Shine Conditioner but it's no patch on the  so I'll be grabbing another bottle of that when it's all finished. I picked up the Shea Moisture products here from in-store but they're also sold online and more online retailers based in the UK are finally stocking this brand.

Have you tried Shea Moisture products?

Christine Stewart x

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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Hair | Styling with Curlformers

I bought a  Styling Kit (long and wide version) way back when I started taking caring for my hair seriously in 2011. I was into all things 'heatless' and Curlformers seemed like the ideal way to style my hair without causing any damage. If you're not familiar with Curlformers, they're like long coily rollers which you hook your hair inside to create perfectly shaped curls. You can get Curlformers in different varieties of lengths and widths and the two colours indicate which direction the curls bend in (left or right).

You're supposed to use these on wet hair, allowing your hair to airdry so there's no heat involved. I used them twice before giving up on Curlformers for almost 4 years! I couldn't fault the curls they created, which were perfect, but I couldn't stand having to use them on wet hair (as mine can take hours to dry) and I didn't like having to drag my tangle-prone hair into the curlers. I also have a lot of hair on my head and even when it was short it would take hours to put these in as they need to be small sections to dry evenly. I was about to throw them out, but curiosity made me try the Curlformers on my wig and the results are just beautiful.

This is now the main way I style my wig. It takes little to no time to prep and the curls can last for a few days before I need to repeat the process. I only spray the ends of my wig with a little water and hook small sections into the Curlformers. I then leave the hair to airdry on my mannequin head overnight.

The pictures here are from the first time I tried them last week. The curls held up for most of the day before dropping into loose waves. I didn't use any product on the wig, only a little water, and these shots were taken at the end of the day. I'm definitely going to continue using Curlformers on my wig as it doesn't cause any damage to the hair and the results are so pretty.

Have you tried Curlformers?

Christine Stewart x

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Relaxed Hair Update | July 2014

I relaxed my hair after 5 long months, which seemed to be crawling by until it finally got to relaxer day on Monday. In typical fashion I didn't really feel like relaxing my hair by this point but I went ahead as I've had some time off work and I knew I wouldn't have this much time on my hands again for a while. I feel like the relaxer process went well but I've lost the ability to apply and smooth the relaxer as fast as I used to. I guess leaving so much time between relaxers has left me a little rusty.

I did the half half method as usual using ORS Olive Oil Lye Relaxer in normal (my relaxer process is detailed here). I relaxed the back half first and then repeated the same process separately on the top half. I spent about 4-5 minutes applying the relaxer and left it on for 9 minutes on the back sections and for 12 minutes on the front sections in total. For the first time I coated my hair from root to tip in oil (I usually just put it on the previously relaxed parts). I also put vaseline on my ends, the line of demarcation and my edges as well as basing my scalp with it.

I really didn't want overprocessing (if you didn't already guess) and overall the results were near perfect. I have actual curls throughout my hair which I'm really excited about. You can see how textured it looks post-wash in the picture above. I used my Root2Tip Protein Balance Masque to restore protein levels and my hair is so soft and bouncy.

My transition to texlaxed (info here) has taken me so long to get right and I feel like I can finally visualise how my hair will look when it's fully texlaxed. I still have a very long way to go though and I've avoided taking accurate length check pictures in months to not discourage myself from transitioning. It's quite daunting basically starting over after spending years growing out my hair and I've (reluctantly) given up on the idea of maintaining mid-back length hair during my transition. My hair is about mid-back length now but I plan to cut off about an inch or so soon.

I also plan to document my transition more in the following months as I have no idea how long it's taken me to get to this point or realistically how far I've got to go.

What have you been doing to your hair recently?

Christine Stewart x