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Nay’s Curly Mane

Health & Length Check: March 2013

straightened natural hair

My Curly Mane in March 2013

Remember this simple mantra: If you keep your curly mane healthy, it will grow. Simple secret. End of story. You don’t necessarily need a hair whisperer or magic potions. Just keep up a consistent regiment that your hair responds well to and voila! You will see results. “Whoa, Nay! Not so easy,” you say? Continue reading.

Averages & Approximates

As I mentioned in my last hair update, hair grows approximately 0.5 inch per month. Keyword: approximately. Factor in your genetics, diet, hair routine, and hair type as additional influences on your growth rate. For tightly curly gals, moisture retention may become an issue, since it is harder for the oils from your scalp to travel down the length of your strands. Oiling your hair regularly will help to seal moisture/water into your strands. This is one of, if not the key element, that has been keeping my hair über soft and growing.

What’s Working?

  1. Oiling my hair daily. I’ve been doing this right before bed or in the morning on 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th-day hair styled in a wash-and-go.
  2. Regular wash-and-go styling. Occasionally, I mix it up with braid-outs. The frequent exposure to water/moisture and sealing with oils and conditioner is working well for my hair.
  3. Minimal straightening. In fact, the only time I’ve straightened my hair is to do this length check. The last time I did so was during my previous check in November. This has prevented me from experiencing heat damage, particularly with the use of a Maxiglide/Sonicglide.
  4. A generous amount of leave-in conditioner. This is always used on wash days and applied under my hair gel. In case you missed it, check out my 10 steps for a wash-and-go.

How Do I Know It’s Working?

I’ve received more compliments on my hair (thank you!), noting that it looks … different. Some say that it looks fuller. Others say it must be getting longer. Well, both are true. While it is getting healthier, my hair is taking on a bigger and bouncier look.

Believe me. It was just 3 or 4 years ago when I was struggling to get my hair to do anything. I had to cut off a considerable amount of heat damaged hair, and what was left wouldn’t curl right. Not to mention, I struggled with styling the dang-on thing. Needless to say, I am overjoyed to get to this state!

Now, remember that for some reason or another, the universe is always in search of balance. Uh, huh. These generous comments have been sadly balanced by the usual back-handed compliments to naturals. Oh, yes, they’ll come swooping down on your hit parade, ready to steal your sunshine. Here’s what you can do.

When People Try To Derail Your Progress …

  1. Remember to think of what Jesus would do. No, really. I am serious!
  2. Count to 10 … and then count to 10 again … alrighty, count to 20!
  3. Ruuuunn!! Click here to read about more ways to avoid Negative Nancies.

Comedian Kat Williams can be controversial and over-the-top. Regardless of your opinion of him, he has a point about one thing. He says, “So what? She/he keeps talking about you and hating on you. What do you think a hater’s job is? To hate! If you have someone hating on you right now, you better think of how to get five more people hating by Christmas! You need haters to make you stronger … without haters, most people wouldn’t try to become better.” LOL! Sad but true. Your hair is fab. Don’t listen to comments that will keep you from achieving your goals … in life and on your head.

What’s Not Working?

I’m experiencing some falling hair, which of course leads to tangles and knots. I noticed that this has happened since I’ve stopped oiling my scalp and when I go beyond 4th day hair styled in a wash-and-go. Using a Tangle Teezer has helped to curb the knotting of shed hair so far, which makes me believe that my hair just needs to be clarified of shed hair more often.

Also, my scalp has been flakier than usual. This may be due to my inconsistent scalp oiling. I’m going to resume oiling and massaging my scalp to see if this has any effect on my progress.

Length Check

From left, My Curly Mane in May 2012, November 2012, and March 2013.

Measuring Up

When tugged on in its natural state, my curly mane reaches just past mid back length. Since it grows in layers, some areas are inching their way closer towards waist length. Yet, this go around, my straightened hair pic from November appears identical to the one in March. Optical illusion? I swear that my hair is growing! I won’t obsess. I won’t obsess! Instead, I’m giving it another three months and then I’ll see how my curly mane measures up.

Look at the photo above and note my progress. The growth is better seen when the duration between length checks is longer. Basically, hair needs time to grow. My next check will be in another 3 months. Let’s see if I can get a little closer to waist length by then.

Which one of the following describes you?

  • On a mission for health/length
  • Rocking strong with a short cut

Shout it out below!

Health & Length Check: Nov. 2012

Length Check My Curly Mane_November 2012

My curly mane in November 2012.

In the past, I was obsessed with having long hair without really giving any thought to hair health. While I was dyeing and frying my hair, I didn’t realize that this abuse would prevent me from having lengthy tresses, and boy oh boy did my curly mane let me know. It decided to “break off” our relationship, and my ends decided to split … literally! Hair will grow. It’s length retention that’s the trick and can only be achieved by having healthy hair.

For me, healthy hair means oingy boingy curls that greatly shrink in its natural state. This is opposed to hair that lays dry, limp, and overly frizzed out on my head. This is not like how our curls normally frizzes. I’m talking about the type of frizz that screams moiiiisturiiize meeee (cue high pitched, squealing voice)! Today, my hair is in a much better state thanks to several factors, all of which produce healthy and longer hair.

On Average

It is said that hair grows approximately 0.5 inch per month. Of course you’ll need to factor in your genetics, diet, hair routine, and hair type. If your curls are tight then moisture retention may become an issue, since it is harder for the oils from your scalp to travel down the length of your strands. It is recommended that you regularly apply oil to your hair, sealing in moisture/water. This has been one of the key ingredients in ramping up my hair health and creating much softer curls.

What’s Working

My Curly Mane_Length Check July & Oct 2012

On left, my hair in its natural state in May 2012. On right, my straightened hair in November 2012. Next time, I will compare my length in the same straightened state, so you can better see the progress.

My hair has grown since May 2012. What has changed in my routine? I finally began implementing all the things I typically hear about, understand, but ignored. Please note that I did not implement all these changes at once. I slowly began tweaking my routine as I monitored my hair progress. Here’s what’s working:

  1. Stop Straightening. As the weather warmed up in May, I stopped straightening my hair and started experimenting with natural styles, as you may have noticed here at My Curly Mane. Now, I truly enjoy going back and forth between sporting straight styles and an afro, but I noticed that a break from flat ironing allows my hair to thrive.
  2. Press go for wash and go’s. This was my trademark look for the summer, followed by braid outs as a close second. Wearing wash and go’s would normally produce tons of split ends, but when I straightened my hair in November, I noticed that my ends were okay. I believe that I was able to save my strands due to a change in my leave-in conditioner and frequently oiling.
  3. Leave-in Conditioner & Oils. As noted above, oiling my hair helps to seal in moisture. I can’t stress enough the importance of implementing this in my routine. Try it and see.
  4. Switcheroo For Shampoos. I switched from harsher, oil stripping shampoos to moisturizing shampoos. I also shampooed my hair less often. This once again aided in my hair’s moisture balance.
  5. Go Natural. I began relying on products with more natural ingredients. This includes Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner, Fruit of the Earth 100% Aloe Vera Gel, and Dabur Vatika Coconut Hair Oil.

Measuring Up

To understand my progress, keep in mind that my hair naturally grows in layers. It wants what it wants! In May, my longest strands were bra strap length. Now this is at mid back length, followed by other strands that are bra strap and shoulder length. Measured from the front, my longest strands were above chest length (you get what I mean) in May. They are now just past mid chest length.

Going forward, I want to find out what is the average rate in which my hair grows. My goal is to reach waist length hair. I have never had this in my life and believe that it is attainable so long as my hair remains healthy aka moisturized. Watch out Rapunzel!

If you’re on a journey towards growing your mane (regardless of your current length), let’s do this together. Let’s give it time, so we don’t obsess … well, not too much! Let’s revisit and see how our hair measures up in February.

My Curly Mane_Curls_Length Check_2009-2012

From left, my curly mane in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Note how much healthier my hair looks now than in 2009, after I cut off the majority of my damaged hair but still had a few rough ends remaining.

 

Why You Need To Chronicle Your Curls

Comparing Curly Hair Growth

On the left: My curly mane in 2009/2010. Note the straight piece in the front. On right: My curly mane in 2012.

You’ve done the big chop or transitioned into having natural hair. Now what? Aside from picking up a few essential tools (click here for a listing), there is one thing you should immediately do—pull out your camera and strike your best pose. It’s time to document your hair!

If you’ve read my hair story (click here for details), you’ll know that I grew out my heat damaged strands a few years ago. In doing so, I placed myself on a no flat iron diet (my curls were scrawny enough!) and cut off several inches of damaged ends. I also spent a lot of time looking at my curly mane. No, it wasn’t a “fairest of them all” moment. I was adjusting to seeing myself without straight tresses and analyzing my curls. I could see the front and sides, but I couldn’t see the back of my head. Plus, I wanted to see my hair as other people saw it, so I picked up a camera.

Documenting your hair journey through photos or videos is one of the most important things that you can do. It can help you to:

  1. Remember the products that worked for you. I hope that you don’t go down the deep, dark path that is product junkism (guilty, hangs head in shame). Should you make that wrong turn, your photos will help you to know which products are winners and which can join the collection under your bathroom sink.
  2. Nail down a routine. As you try new styles and products, you may lose track of what’s actually working for you. Your photos/video will serve as a guide towards establishing healthy hair habits and lock down the right products and techniques for you.camera
  3. Obtain a true view. It’s one thing to look in a mirror and completely another to see your hair on camera and/or animated on film. With a record, you’ll know how your curls stack up against itself through different seasons and over periods of time.
  4. Monitor health and identify setbacks. Before the summer, I spent several months straightening my hair … Yes, I relapsed a bit (guilty, hangs head in shame … again). As a result, I had to trim a few inches of split and knotted ends. By looking at my pics, I can see how excessive straightening dried out my hair and prevented me from gaining my desired length (see attached photo). Now I can adjust my routine as needed.
  5. Stay motivated. If it weren’t for taking photos, I would believe that my hair hasn’t progressed much over the past 3 years. Fortunately, this blog has forced me to revisit my collection of images. Gone are the highlights I once had (When did they grow out?), and hello length! For the longest time, I’ve been doing the dance between feeling as if my hair is growing (I’m on a quest for length) and completely writing it off as stubbornly fixed at another length. Seeing these improvements, I know how far I’ve come and how close I can be to my hair goal—waist length tresses (crossing fingers)!

    Hair Length Comparison

    On left: My curly mane in May 2012, with ragged ends. On right: My curly mane with fresh ends in July 2012.

With commuting, work, family, school, and hopefully play, our lives are full. You may believe that this leaves little room for photo shoots. I completely understand. Please understand that you don’t need to devote a lot of time to this, especially if you are taking photos for your own safekeeping.

When trying a new product or ’do, take a quick snap or two from your camera/camera phone. That’s all you need. You don’t even need to face the camera, as the focus is on your hair  … unless you want to ham it up, of course!

Capture the moment now and reflect on them later. Who knows, like our fave bloggers and vloggers, your documentary may inspire someone else. At the very least, it will allow you to monitor the evolution of your curly mane.

Are you chronicling your curls? If so, in what form?

Nay’s Product Staples

MyCurlyMane.com Product Staples

Nay’s All-Star Products in June 2012

Click here to view the most recent products that I am using and recommend.

All-Star products that I consistently use are indicated by an asterisk*. You can find my product reviews on this blog.

If you are interested in purchasing items, click on the links below. If you’ve tried these items, please share your thoughts, tips, and experiences!

Shampoos:

Conditioners:

  •  Herbal Essence Hello Hydration*
  •  Herbal Essence Hydralicious

Leave-ins:

Stylers:

  • Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls
  • Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding
  • Hair Rules Kinky Curling Cream
  • Fantasia Polisher Gel With Sparkles 16 oz. Olive Oil
  • UPDATE (9-22-12): I now adore Fruit of the Earth 100% Aloe Vera Gel*and have great results with Eco Styler Gel*

Oils & Butters

My Hair Story

Nay from MyCurlyMane_CurlyHeadShot

My curly mane circa 2000. Still healthy but note the slightly elongated/damaged strands at the ends. This was just the beginning.

Welcome to My Curly Mane!

I started this blog to help inspire others and share stories about naturally curly hair, spirituality, and life’s journey … as well as to quit boring my non curly victims family members and friends with the joys and challenges of having naturally curly hair!

Today, it is not unusual to see a lot more curlies embracing their natural textures. Thank you! By embracing your natural mane, cosmetic companies and other curlies are taking notice and creating products suited for our hair. Halleloo!

You may be wondering what has driven me to write about my hair (of all topics!). As I always say, there’s just so much more to it than just hair.

Here goes my (slightly long) hair story:

For me, it’s been a bit of a bumpy journey before I’ve gotten to this state of fully embracing my hair… again. As a child, my hair routine was driven by my mother, who like most Jamaican mothers, would sit me between her legs as she slowly plaited up my hair each night. This consisted of meticulously sectioning off my hair and oiling my scalp with a generous amount of oils like the infamous Blue Magic. In the morning, the plaits were freed, brushed out, and re-plaited into pigtails. My hair was washed each Sunday like clockwork. This routine seemed to work, as my hair grew quite long, although I couldn’t tell since I always had lots of shrinkage and had never straightened it. I just knew that when it was tugged on, it was much longer than in its usual, shrunken state.

Short Natural Hair

Achieving longer, healthier lengths in 2010

Sixth grade ushered in what I like to call “the rite of black girl passage,” as the majority of girls in my school started straightening their hair. Out with the “coarse, nappy” hair and in with straight, “mature” look. I remember drooling over my friends’ fresh presses and perms and praying (Are You There God? It’s me and my afro.) that my mother would also let me relax my hair. Oh, how my girlfriends’ silky, kink free hair swung with each head toss. They had what I wanted—movement and length. I begged, pleaded with my mother to also let me join the masses, but she refused, insisting that I didn’t need it.

It took a lot of persistence and promises (I swore I would polish the furniture more often!) until one day, when she finally gave in and took me to the hair dresser. This time, instead of sitting for hours on a Saturday watching my mom and sister perm their hair, I was finally getting my hair pressed! It took all day (and endless complaints by the hairdresser about my coarse hair) to wash, deep condition, blow out, and hot comb my hair. Still, I felt that it was all worth the wait, as I finally had straight hair!

It was long (past shoulder length) and bone straight. I don’t know how I didn’t get whip lash from the amount of times I swung my hair about. The icing on the cake–everyone in school loved it too! All my girlfriends oohed and aaahed. I finally had it—acceptance. I looked just like everyone else … until three days later when my hair reverted due to the heat and lack of information on sustaining the style. It was the last time my hair would meet a pressing comb for a long while. My mother didn’t like the look or the fact that it “shrunk up” my hair. I was devastated. Why oh why was this woman doing this to me? Of course, at the time I didn’t know that her infinite wisdom would also apply to my hair.

Straighten Naturally Curly Hair

Above: My straightened and curled hair in 2012.

By high school, I started to take over the hair plaiting and scalp oiling role. In those early years, my hair styling consisted of a single pigtail with a bang that I rolled up each night (accompanied by the plaits). The bang, as puffy and off-centered as it looked, was essential for hiding my forehead (teenage issues). By my junior year, I started to experiment with braid outs. I found that my hair actually didn’t fall out when leaving it loose (crazy natural hair myths), although it did occasionally fro out due to lack of information on holding products. Braid-outs gave me a little more versatility and little more acceptance of my hair.

College was a turning point. Freshman year, I snuck around my roommate’s schedule before plaiting up my hair at night. It just seemed too much to explain to her why my hair didn’t behave like her stick straight tresses. In hindsight I would have taken greater pride in my hair and seized the opportunity to enlighten her, but these are the things you learn as you grow.

As college hours kicked in, my hair routine just wasn’t working for me anymore. There was also a new development. One day, I stepped out the shower and took a hard look at my hair in the mirror and noticed something new—my hair was curly! It wasn’t just curly. It was springy, kinky, and wavy all in one. I never really paused before plaiting to really analyze my natural texture. I knew I liked my hair in the shower (and took loooong baths to play in it), but I never knew how to capture that look on land.

If college is for experimentation, I passed with honors. I tried washing and going fully natural, sans products—fail. Trial and error taught me that my hair likes conditioner. Left that in. A half Dominican, half Puerto Rican hall mate with envious curls took one look at my hair and suggested that I use black gel. Wha-la! Black gel transformed my life. It ushered in the era of my signature afro curly pigtails, with slicked down hairline. Everyone on campus knew my piggies (yay!). It even garnered a following, with a few ladies rocking pigtails and one girl inspired to go natural. I was overjoyed. I had finally began embracing my natural tresses. It unfortunately took other people’s acceptance before I began to think kindly of my hair, but at least I began embracing my uniqueness.

Above: My shortened length of hair in 2009, when I cut off all the damaged ends.

The experimentation continued, and my piggies were self-bleached and died all shades of the rainbow—red being my go-to color. That was until one day, my hair threw in the towel. I stepped into the shower, picked up my brush to detangle my hair, and watched as chucks of hair easily slid off my head and into the brush! A few other hairs plopped into the drain! I was shocked and devastated. Looking back, I applaud my hair for not peeling out, given the fact that I bleached and colored it on a monthly (sometimes bi-weekly) basis.

A combination of the need for hair rehab and entry into the working world led me to dye my hair blackest black monthly (was still hooked on coloring) and press/flat iron it on a weekly basis. The combination hid the damage and allowed me to re-grow my hair to mid-back length … It also led me down the path of straightening addiction. How did I go from loving my curly mane to weekly blow frying and daily burnings, including one incident in which I literally burned off my hair with a hot comb due to an overheated oven?? I got so used to the look and feel of straight hair (and the approval it brought me by co-workers) that I began to resent my natural hair. Any sign of puffiness was met by my flat iron. Years of excessive heat combined with a bad highlighting job took its toll, and eventually my hair threw in the towel again and started breaking.

Above: My curly mane in 2012.

That year, in 2008, I noticed more and more curlies in the subway. Once spotted, I would stare at each and every one of their hair, analyzing the look, texture, color, and movement. You name it. I wished my hair looked like theirs … wait my hair had once looked like theirs! I wondered if I could get my old hair back again. Curiosity led me to hair boards, blogs, and videos. I cut my damaged hair from armpit length (when straightened) to shoulder length (about ear length natural). I also went fully natural and didn’t straighten my hair for a year. This drew a lot of questions and back-handed compliments by those who more than hinted that I looked better with straight hair, looked like a boy (ouch!), or questioned my “afro-centric look.” I wasn’t intending to make a statement. I just wanted my hair back! However, it did allow me to question the power and image of natural hair vs. straight hair and how this affects self-esteem and the way people treat of you.

By looking within and finding self-acceptance (life lessons), I eventually learned to turn down the volume of others and started listening more to my hair, not the heads of others. Instead of just slapping products on my hair and believing in miracles, I paid attention to what works for me, like more conditioning and less heat. My hair has been thriving (much healthier = more manageable). I still straighten it, but this is balanced by times spent all naturale. I’ve also learned that every head of hair not only looks different, but it may also react differently to products and techniques. You’ve truly got to listen to your curly mane and yours alone. Relish in your own comfort zone and not the lane people place you in. Learn to embrace yourself, your hair, and your journey. You hear that? … It’s your hair speaking!

This is my hair story, and I’m sticking to it!

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