Maintaining and Growing My Natural Hair With Buns

Long time no blog!

Super sorry, I have just honestly not been that into my hair. Don’t get me wrong I loooove my hair, but I have not spent much time styling or playing in it. It seems the longer I am natural, the the less I want to do with it! I have spent the last couple of months just bunning. I am in love with my low buns and it just works for my lifestyle. I workout every morning and then I have to go to work. So, the bun has been a great hairstyle to just be able to stay in shape and look professional at work!

natural hair - bun hairstyle - black hair

***My Routine***

Wash
I co wash my hair once a week. I find that it doesn’t make sense to do more than that, because I am working out almost everyday. My wash day is usually on Friday, because I am off on Saturday and I also try to not work out as much on the weekend. Basically, I have the free time and it works for my schedule. I usually shampoo once a month, but it has been a couple of months since I have used shampoo. I have really gotten use to not using it.
Products:
I co wash with Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner
I shampoo with Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Shampoo

Conditioning
I do a deep condition once a month.
Products:
Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner
Extra Virgin Olive oil

Click Here For Step By Step Details on How I Do My Deep Conditioning

Detangling
I detangle my hair once a week after my wash and conditioning. I don’t really feel the need to do it anymore than that, because throughout the week my hair is in a bun. Remember it is all about low manipulation. The less you do, the more your hair will retain length!
Products:
For slip I use Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner
Denman Brush
Wide tooth comb

Styling Products
Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner
Note: This is the only product I have been using in my hair lately for styling. I leave in the conditioner and also like to use it to lay my hair down for a more sleek look.

The Style
Now it is time to bun!
I have been doing this routine for so long I feel like it goes by so fast.
After I have finished washing, conditioning, and detangling I bun my hair. I normally go for the low bun. It is something that I have become really comfortable with, and I love the way it looks with my work outfits. It is a really simple but classy hairstyle for any occasion.
At night I like to take down my buns, because personally I don’t like to sleep with a big hump on the back of my head and I have to redo it after my workouts in the morning anyways. I re style my bun every morning. Let me be clear that I do not comb through my hair, I just simple use my boar brush to make sure the hair on top lays down, I pull the hair back, and I bun it up.

Moisturizing
Throughout the week I don’t really have a set moisturizing routine. When I re do my buns in the morning, I always spritz my hair with water, because that is the only way I can get it to lay down and stay in place. The water gets all over my hair, so I normally take it all the way down to the ends.

Check Out How I Refresh My Hair In The Morning….

A Tutorial On How I Do My Low Bun (No Heat)

A Tutorial On How I Do My Low Bun (Heat Stretched Hair)

*** Some FAQs ***
How is my hair responding? Breakage?
My hair is responding great to my bunning routine. My hair has always responded really well to protective hairstyle, so I kind of got lucky with this routine. Last year I was a bit rough on my hair. I told the story about how hard it can be to maintain your hair being a Youtuber. Yes, I learned that lesson the hard way. Anyways, My hair has been retaining length the way it normally does, and it just feel so much better. I have not had or noticed any breakage recently. I also want to say that I always try not to do my hair too tight. I can be a little heavy handed, but I am always aware of my excessive pulling and tugging.

Check out my blog “Youtube Is Destroying My Hair”

How Long?
I am planning to make bunning a big part of my regimen. Now that I have seen how well my hair has done with bunning I want to continue doing it as long as it is working for me. This year I want to wear buns the entire year as a protective style challenge and then check in at the end of the year by revealing my length and health at the end of the year. I’ll give any info regarding ups, downs, challenges, successes! Next year I will still do bunning, but also balance that with wearing my hair down a little more depending on what I have going on!

Will I Get To Enjoy My Hair?
I am enjoying my hair! I have been natural for almost six years now. It will be six years in August! I have done so many different things to my hair as far as styling goes. The proof is on my blog and Youtube page. I am at the stage where I honestly don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I love my hair and I love that I feel like I have what works for me, and what keeps me feeling good when it comes to my hair! I think that once you become confident in what YOU are doing with YOUR hair, no matter what it is…buns, flat ironing, wash and go, afros, twist outs, braid outs, coloring, wigs, weaves, etc. you will ALWAYS enjoy your hair and better than that, your life!!!!

We all know…..
“It’s Bigger Than Hair”

Alicia James
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5 Easy Tips For Working Out With Straight Natural Hair

This is one of the most asked questions I get when I post my workout photos to instagram.
How do you maintain your heat stretched hair when working out?

I have a few easy tips that I use to maintain my hair along with working out. Now, these are just the things that have worked for me. Hopefully they will help you to create a routine that works for you!

A Few Important Details

☑ I work out 4-5 days during the week. Each day I do bout 2-3 hours of cardio and strength training.☑
☑ I wash my hair once a week
☑  I heat stretch once a week on wash day

Schedule
One of the most important things to start off with when creating a routine for your hair and workouts is a schedule. Plan how often you NEED to wash your hair. This is probably going to depend on how much you sweat, and also just a personal preference. Just remember that less is always better with any hair routine.
For Example; I know that I will be working out Monday – Friday, so washing my hair in the middle of the week is not necessary. I want to also note that my head does not sweat a lot, so this works in regards to personal hygiene. I usually take off with working out during the weekend, so Friday is always wash day. The reality is I only have a few days with fresh hair.

Secure and Protect The Hair
If your hair has been straightened the last thing you want to do is wear your hair down or out during your work out. It doesn’t take much for natural hair to revert. Stick with styles that keep the hair laid down and put away. I go towards, high buns, low buns. I make sure my edges are laid down and sometimes will tie my edges down with a satin scarf or a headband.

Let It Dry
After my workout I don’t touch my hair for at least an hour, giving any hair that may have been wet during my workout a chance to dry and stay in place. I try to avoid applying heat to my hair during the middle of the week, but if needed you can blow dry the roots lightly.

Be Realistic
I have been really big on heat stretching my natural hair for a very long time, but even I know that any type of moisture will quickly destroy the perfect blow out or flat iron no matter what you do. I don’t usually go for bone straight hair, because it just doesn’t work for my lifestyle. My goal is always to keep my hair stretched, but not necessarily bone straight. If you are working out hard throughout the week and sweating the reality is you are going to sweat in your head. So, it is always going to be important to have a simple and consistent routine to follow with your hair and workout.

Who Cares
Oh my gosh….. I swear I could not wait to get to this part! Who freakin’ cares???? When I get in the gym I go super hard. I sweat all over, and if I am not sweating like crazy I don’t feel like I’m going hard enough. The last thing I am thinking about is my hair and what the next person will think about it once I am done. My health and personal fitness goals are more important to me at this point! Hair < Health

The great thing is that you can have balance. Create a simple routine so that you can do both!
I hope this helps or inspires someone!!!

Good luck

TRY THIS BIG HIGH BUN FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT!!

 

Finding The Best Natural Hair Products For My Hair


*Finding The Best Products & Tools For My Natural Hair*

Everyone is looking for that magic hair product. Seriously we all want to know what products will make our hair appear healthier, what products will keep our hair moisturized, what products will make our hair grow faster, etc. This is so important to us that the term “product junkie” has become widely popular!

How important is it to find the best product for your natural hair?
It is important, but it has it’s own special place in a hair routine. I don’t completely rely on hair products to determine the health of my hair, I don’t completely rely on hair products to grow my hair or help me to retain length. Products for me is more like an extra special treat added on everything else I’ve already done to care for my hair. It’s more like a styling tool. I use it to enhance what I already have.

If products are not primary for your regimen, what is?
I am more focused on methods and routine. We’ve heard it all before, proper hair care. How often do you do these things? Are you consistent? Are you gentle?
1.) Cleaning
2.) Conditioning / Deep Conditioning
3.) Moisturizing
4.) Detangling
5.) Styling & Daily Handling

After you have a plan for the things above that I like to refer to as the “basics of hair care” then you can enhance with products.
What you will need:

1.) Shampoo or conditioner to co wash
2.) Conditioner and/or oil
3.) Leave In or oil to seal in moisture
4.) Conditioner for slip, Wide tooth comb and/or detangling brush
5.) Gel if applicable, hair bands, scarfs, flowers, anything you want to use for hair accessories.

How To Find The Best Product For YOUR Natural Hair?
You need to know and understand YOUR hair. I always talk about “Building a Good Relationship With Your Hair”. The truth is no one knows your hair better than you. Your hands are in your hair almost everyday.

The products that work for you are going to depend on what you know about your hair.
What is your texture? (how thick or fine each strand is)
What is your porosity? (how does your hair absorb moisture)
Elasticity and the health of your hair? (does your hair break easily)
What has your hair gone through? (heat usage, styling techniques, coloring or chemicals)

Okay, so once you know the information you need to know about your hair, you can start to put together a solid regimen and your staple products. I want to make this as simple as possible so I will stick to the basics of what has helped me.

Quick Example:

I have low porosity hair, my elasticity is pretty good, and I am someone who uses heat regularly at least once a week. I don’t have any type of chemicals including color in my hair. Overall my hair is in good shape.

1.) When it comes to shampoo I use a no sulfate shampoo weekly.
I have low porosity hair so product can really build up on the strands, so I also clarify at least once every 1-2 months. To clarify I just use a shampoo with sulfates.
2.) I always condition after I shampoo. With low porosity hair the cuticles are tightly closed making it difficult for the strands to absorb moisture I apply regular conditioner and then add extra virgin olive oil to my hair. I then sit under a heated dryer for about 15-30 minutes. The heat gently lifts the cuticles so that the moisture is absorbed.
3.) I leave a little bit of my extra virgin olive oil in my hair. Then I add a light leave in. Most low porosity hair does not respond well to thick leave ins and butters. It just makes the hair feel extremely dry no matter how much product you pack on.
4.) I always detangle on soaking wet hair. I use Aunt Jackie’s Instant Detangling Leave In. This gives me a little slip during my detangling session. The slippery the hair is, the easier it is to slide the wide tooth comb through or my fingers.
5.) For styling I don’t add anything else to my hair. I just use the leave in and style as desired.

For me the less products I have the easier my hair journey is. This way if something does stop working or goes wrong, it is easier to figure out what the culprit is.

The tips to finding your hair product does not include the latest, greatest, and most expensive products. None of this matters when picking products for your hair. Usually the products with the most hype offer the least results sadly.
Learn your hair and stick to what YOU know works regardless of the rules. If your hair is healthy and happy you are going in the right direction.

Good luck on your journey!

HOW DO YOU FIND THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR YOUR HAIR?

Watch Me On Youtube Her! – Natural Hair Videos!

Adding Moisture To My Heat Stretched Natural Hair – Q-Redew

q-redew on natural hair -moisturizing natural hair

How I Use The Q-Redew
I use the q-redew to moisturize my heat stretched hair. It is usually really difficult for me to moisturize my heat stretched hair, because of the fear that my hair will shrink dramatically and my style will be ruined. With the Q-Redew my hair does not get soaking wet. It basically just pushes out a warm mist which helps my hair to absorb moisture, but also keeps it stretched out. What I also like to do is stretch the hair down as I steam to help minimize any shrinkage.

What is the Q-Redew?
A handheld hair steamer
used to reshape, rejuvenate, and moisturize hair

How much is the Q-Redew and where can I purchase one?
$69.95 + tax
I purchased mine from Amazon.com

How long does it take to steam all of your hair?
It takes me no more than 10 minutes

Quick Tips
It holds about 3 oz of water. I have to refill it at least once to do my entire head. I have loads of hair though.
Make sure to twist or braid the section of hair after you steam. This will help keep the hair stretched out.

If you would like to discuss this more in detail or if you have any other questions regarding natural hair. Click The link below! I look forward to speaking with you! Google Helpout - Natural Hair ———————————————

EasyNaturalHair.com
“easy natural hair”

Click MsAliciaJames.com For More “Natural Hair” videos!

Being Stubborn and Taking My Own Advice – Natural Hair Lessons

Five Year Natural Hair Journey

 

So.. I guess with this blog I am kind of exposing myself in a way. I admit it, sometimes I can be a little stubborn, or at least in the past. I am one of those people who don’t believe in this is who I am and that’s it. I believe I can be whoever I want to be. If I don’t like something about myself, change it. Why not? Well, that is a whole other topic though.

Back to hair….

My Journey – Short and Sweet

Some of you have read and heard my story about my natural hair journey a thousand times. In the beginning I didn’t know I was going natural. I struggled for the first two and a half years. I literally bought a relaxer for my hair at one point because I had given up. Then with the convincing from the people I love around me, I decided to do some research and found Youtube! Youtube changed my “hair life” LOL! I did tons of research trying to figure out how it all worked. It became a bit confusing, but I later developed my own routine of how to do things which I believe helped me to have success.

Bubble Busted
I know you are probably wondering what does this have to do with me being stubborn????
Ok..for a couple of years I had this awesome regimen that worked like a charm. Everything was perfect..okay not perfect, but it was working out for me. I was retaining length, my hair was transforming, it had sheen, shine, and sometimes had a little bounce. Well.. once I hit my length goal on my four year anniversary it seems that things started to go a little downhill for me. Now, I will say that I wasn’t as disciplined with my hair as I was previously. I experimented a little more. I really wanted to start truly enjoying my hair. Once I was done playing in my hair, I decided to get back to my normal routine. I was sticking to low manipulation. I had my favorite go to products at the time. (Herbal Essence shampoo / conditioner and my Cantu Shea Butter Leave In). I was back on the path to maintaining healthy hair and continuing my journey to growth! HAAAAA! My hair started laughing at me! It was almost like it was getting revenge on me for the many wash and gos, the days of sleeping without pinning my hair down, etc. My must have items and routine was no longer working for me.

Denial
Not to toot my own horn, but I have loads of knowledge on hair. *beep beep* (clears throat) LOL! Seriously, I saw my hair suffering a little and I knew what I needed to do. I’ve wrote about this, I’ve talked about this, but for some reason I did not want to accept it. Why do I have to change the things that I do? It worked before. I had plans to spend the rest of my “natural hair life” with this routine and products. There has to be some sort of natural hair reset button, right?! WRONG! It literally took me months to get out of my natural hair regimen box, and start to be open to new products and ideas.

Five Years Natural and READY For Change
So, I hit five years natural September 2013. I had cut my hair earlier that year along with my questionable hair practices, so I started off my fifth year with hair shorter than my fourth year. UH UH Honaaaay! I was not having it. It really made me think about what I was doing. If someone came to me and needed a few tips on how to deal with a similar situation I would speak about the changes that the hair goes through the older it gets. I would talk about how it is actually normal sometimes for you to have to transition into a new routine and maybe switch up a few products. etc. I would talk about examining and breaking down your regimen to find the things that may or may not be working. I had to start taking my own advice again. I decided to try out new products and revamped my hair routine. I’ve watched my hair quickly come back to life. I am back to retaining length like before. My hair looks and feels great! I am truly relieved.

The Point
I always say that there are no rules to this journey. Sometimes you have a perfect “hair day” and sometimes it all feels like a complete failure. It’s just the way that hair works. You could be doing everything that you think is right, but it still may not work out the way you want. Everyone seems to have the “perfect” advice for what YOU should do with YOUR hair. You’ve taken suggestions, you’ve tried all of the magic potions, but nothing seems to work.
Stay patient in your journey. Don’t get too caught up in routine. Don’t get caught up in hype. Stick to doing only what you NEED. This will keep things simple, and and also leave you open to change if things are not working out. Also, don’t give up on your hair when things seems to be on a downward spiral (breakage, dryness, excessive shedding). It may take time to doctor your hair back to good health, but it doesn’t always mean you need to chop it all off to start over, or give up completely on natural hair. Most of my journey I have had to go through a few changes with my routine. Not using that relaxer that day really paid off, and my hair has transformed in ways I never imagined or even thought was possible.

You Can Do This!

If you would like to discuss this more in detail or if you have any other questions about natural hair. Click The link below! I look forward to speaking with you! Google Helpout - Natural Hair ———————————————

EasyNaturalHair.com
“easy natural hair”

Click MsAliciaJames.com For More “Natural Hair” videos!

Breaking Natural Hair Rules

Breaking natural hair rules
What?!?! You didn’t know there was a natural hair committee that got together and created all the natural hair rules along with disciplinary action if you did not follow these rules?????

Ok… I hope that statement isn’t true!
What I will tell you is what I DO KNOW! I KNOW that there are NO rules when it comes to your natural hair journey. If there are rules, believe me they were definitely made to be broken!

* My Story *
I started off my natural hair journey clueless. I didn’t even know I was going natural, I had never heard the term “natural hair”. Once I started the transition, I was confused on why my hair was starting to appear curly. Sad huh??? Anyways, once I made it to almost two years I had become frustrated with my hair and with only the grace of God found Youtube. I was so close to relaxing my hair, I literally had purchased the relaxers and was getting ready to mix it up. Youtube gave me so much information on my hair. Who knew that there were so many beautiful and amazing women teaching others how to care for and manage their natural hair. I was taking it all in. I was on Youtube for hours everyday. I found the blogs and started reading those religiously. I packed my head with tons of information.

* The Problem *
It was so much information I had no clue what to do with it. I was still not progressing as much as I would have liked with my hair, and I still felt slightly stuck. Did I mention the frustration? Everything started to seem so complex. The products and methods I would try hardly ever turned out like the person who was demonstrating. I remembered thinking something has definitely got to be wrong with my natural hair. It’s damaged, it’s not for me, my hair will never grow, it’s ugly, these are just some of the things that went through my head. There was nothing planned or organized about the way I was trying to manage my hair. I was following these different rules that were not working for me. It’s even more frustrating when the rules come from different people and they start to contradict themselves. You must hold your head at a 90 degree angle when washing, oh no you must hold your head at a 75 degree angle when washing. What? Who’s right? What rules do I follow?
How do I know what is going to work for my hair??? Then I finally got it… BREAK THE RULES!

* Rebelling *
When I made it to two years natural things started to slowly but surely change for me. On my two year natural hair anniversary I broke my first “natural hair rule”. I used HEAT! (gasp) I did my first blow out since being natural. Let me tell you it was extremely beautiful, but not only that I discovered how much easier it was for me to manage my natural hair. I added regular blow drying into my regimen. I eventually was blow drying 1-2 times a month. I started consistently twisting after my blow dry and also bunning. With this combination of things my hair started to transform. It was a great moment, because I had finally found something that worked for ME. I started making my own rules. I threw out products I rarely used, I chose my favorites and stuck to them. I created a simple regimen that would work for MY lifestyle and MY personal taste and preferences. My hair was better than it had ever been my entire life!

* What I learned *
There is no one size fits all when it come to many things in life, this includes our “natural hair. If you want to truly master your hair, I definitely recommend reading blogs, read books, watch Youtube videos, but only take what you need. You have to take the information and personalize it. There are some people who can do whatever they want to their hair and it will grow down to their knee caps. There are also those of us who struggle a bit through the process. I have had setbacks, I know what it is like to have those days where the hair is not doing what you want it to do. The thing is, no matter how much advice someone gives YOU on how to fix YOUR hair, no one knows YOUR hair better than YOU! As a blogger and vlogger I can give you tips, tricks on how to manage your hair, but unfortunately I don’t have the formula to YOUR perfect hair, and I am not sure how many people actually do if any. What I do have is the formula to MY perfect hair. I wash it, I condition it, I style it, I check it. I don’t even remember the last time I let someone else in my hair. So, there is no possible way anyone knows my hair better than me. This same principle applies to you and your hair. Spend time with your hair. Find out what makes it respond. What products it likes, which ones don’t do anything for it all. What styling techniques work best? You basically want to build a relationship with you hair.

Read
5 Steps To Building A Good Relationship With Your Hair

* Quick Info *
Remember to keep it as simple as possible. Who says you HAVE to get all the latest and most expensive products? Who says you HAVE to wear a particular hairstyle to maintain healthy natural hair? Who says you can’t enjoy or have fun with your natural hair? Who says you have to follow any of these rules? Create your own rules based off of your personal experience with YOUR natural hair.

Good luck on your journey! I hope this helps and inspires!

If you would like to discuss this more in detail or if you have any other questions about natural hair. Click The link below! I look forward to speaking with you! Google Helpout - Natural Hair ———————————————

EasyNaturalHair.com
“easy natural hair”

Click MsAliciaJames.com For More “Natural Hair” videos!

Egg and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Protein Treatment On Natural Hair

Ingredients
* 3 Eggs
* 1/2 Cup 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions
* Mix the eggs and oil together in a bowl
* Start Off With freshly washed hair
– I don’t like to shampoo afterwards, because protein can make the hair feel a little dry by itself, so shampooing afterwards would     just be overload
* To make application easier, you can put the hair into four sections then apply all over the hair root to tip
– It can get a little messy, so if you can hold your head over a sink as you apply.
* Sit under a heated dryer for about 15-45 minutes (until egg and hair starts to feel stiff) You can also use a regular blow dryer
* Once the hair has become stiff and feels a little hard rinse. I rinse with conditioner only.
* After I complete my protein treatment I follow up with a good deep conditioning ALWAYS! This helps to keep my protein and moisture BALANCED. Too much or protein or moisture can lead to breakage.

How Do You Know You Need Protein?
If your hair is feeling limp, gummy, abnormally soft, or over moisturized, you need protein.

Beware Of Protein Overload
I know it is easy to start having issues with your hair and go straight to the protein treatment. I also know that some people do it as a routine to stay ahead of the damage. You want to be very careful with this only do protein treatments when NEEDED. Overloading your hair with protein can cause excessive dryness, make your hair feel hard or rough to the touch, and excessive breakage and shedding. Remember it is all about BALANCE. Balance between moisture and protein.

Are you Protein Sensitive?
I have used this phrase before, but it can be a pretty big box.   I guess what I really want to say is, I don’t believe specific people or just born with protein sensitivity, it comes with certain routines and hair practices. Anyone can be protein sensitive it just depends on the state of your hair.  So, I will try to break it down as much as possible.
Some people just don’t need to add regular protein treatments to their regimen. Our hair already has protein, so for those of us who have not chemically altered our hair and have pretty healthy hair practices it is not necessary. If you have done a protein treatment and you noticed your hair has not been the same. It is rough, it’s all of a sudden shedding and breaking you may be protein sensitive. Now, this is not something you can’t fix. It just means that you threw the balance of moisture and protein out of wack. You may have done a treatment that was too harsh, or you may have not needed any added protein at all. What you need to do is start working on the balance by adding as much moisture as possible. Weekly Deep conditioning until you feel like your hair is back on track. I always recommend a good hot oil treatment. Note: Low porosity hair is normally hair that does not need a heavy protein treatments often. If you are someone who uses heat like me it should only be necessary once every 1-2 months.

Making Scrambled Eggs In Your Hair
So, I have heard the horror stories of eggs actually cooking on the hair, and being hard to wash out. I have never experienced this before. I am sure adding the heat to your hair plays a part in that. Try not to put your dryer on high. Also when you rinse the egg out rinse with cool water if possible. I also think having an oil in your mixture is key to helping the egg rinse out easily. I would never just use plain egg in my hair. I am sure that would make the hair extremely dry making it harder to rinse some of the egg out. Also, if you are still on the fence about the egg being hard to wash out due to it cooking just go with a plastic cap and leave it on for about 30 minutes to an hour.

How Does Protein Treatments Work
When you are natural and you have not added any chemicals including relaxers and hair dyes, black hair tends to naturally have a low porosity. This means the cuticles on your hair strands are closed tightly. The older the hair gets the more the cuticles start to lift. Lifting is not necessarily a bad thing, it is great to be in the middle of low and high! Also, certain hair practices such as excessive manipulation, rough combing and styling can lift the cuticles. This kind of hair is usually considered to be damaged and it is difficult for the hair to maintain any moisture. This is when it is great to use a protein treatment, because it helps to fill in those gaps.

A Few Light Proteins Treatments / Conditioners 
(I have ONLY used ORS Hair Mayo) Do your research before trying any of the products below!
ORS Hair Mayo
Aubrey Organics
ORS Replenishing Pack
Neutrogena Triple Mositure Deep Recovery Mask
Hydratherma Naturals- Protein Leave In

Quick Notes/Tips
Using egg seems to be a pretty strong protein treatment. I have tried other treatments in the past, and they were nothing like using eggs. So, remember there are lighter treatments out there for you to try if you are extremely sensitive to protein or you are a little hesitant about the process.

If you would like to discuss this more in detail or if you have any other questions regarding natural hair. Click The link below! I look forward to speaking with you!

Google Helpout - Natural Hair

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Heat Stretching 101 For Natural Hair

I have always spoken publicly about my use of heat on my natural hair. It is something I have chosen to do to manage my natural hair due to my lifestyle and my personal taste. Using heat has helped me to maintain healthy hair, retain length, and reach several hair length goals. In this post I hope to share with you my experience, my methods, and hopefully those of you who have been searching high and low for this information will get the info you need to make your own personal decision when it comes to using heat.

Straightening natural hair - flat iron alicia james

  • Why do I use heat in my regimen?
    I personally like how easy my hair is to manage when I use heat. My knots and tangles are very minimal and I experience less breakage and shedding throughout the week. I have really tight 4a curls mixed with 4b and 4c hair. My hair shrinks up to over half of it’s actual length. It tangles so much, it makes it difficult to maintain health and length. So, my goal is not to have straight hair, but to manipulate my hair in a way that helps me to maintain it easily daily. During the time that I started using heat I retained more length than ever in my journey. I started a growth journey on Youtube in my second year starting at about shoulder or armpit length and in about two years on my four year anniversary reaching waist length.

My Journey To Waist Length

  • When did I first use heat?
    I started using heat on my natural hair when I turned 2 years natural. It was the day of my second year anniversary and I did my first blow out since being natural.
    I used a flat iron on my natural hair for the first time on my four year anniversary.
  • Why did I wait so long?
    I waited because I was still learning about my natural hair. When I first went natural I didn’t even know I was going natural. I had no confidence in my natural hair and my ability to maintain it. So, after my first year I found Youtube and blogs. There was so much information out there, I continued to take in every single thing. I have literally gone through so many phases in my natural hair journey due to information I thought was “fact”. As I progressed in my journey I continued to educate myself, but I learned to only take what I needed and leave the rest behind. This was one of the best things I could have ever done in my journey, because I developed my “keep it simple philosophy” when it came to my hair. Anyways, I got rid of the fear of heat damage, and burning off my hair. I finally decided to jump in, enjoy my journey, and do the things that worked for “my” hair.
  • How often do I use heat?
    When I first started using heat, I was only comfortable with once a month. This later changed into twice a month (every two weeks), and now I use once a week. I would NEVER use more than once a week.
  • What tools do I use?I started using blow dryers regularly, but later found it less stressful on my hair to use a flat iron. I know what you are thinking flat iron less stressful than blow dryer what? The blow dryer for me completely dries my hair out sometimes, but I noticed the flat iron kept some of that moisture in. So let’s start off with how I used my blow dryer and what I used.

*Heat Stretching With Blow Dryer: I used the tension method to blow dry my hair. This made it easier to stretch the hair without over manipulating the hair and running a brush or comb through my hair over and over again. I used the blow dryer on high air with low heat. When the blow dryer is on high air it makes the low heat a little warmer, so it doesn’t take forever to dry.

Tension Blow Drying


*Heat Stretching With Flat Iron: I use the “Andis Ceramic Multi Heat Flat Iron”. The highest temperature on this flat iron is 375  degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is labeled in numbers 1-20. 20 being the highest heat. I use the flat iron only on level 10. If 20 is the highest heat, that means it would be close to around 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I would assume level 10 which is half of 20 would be half of 375 giving me about 187.5 degrees or a little more. Although we do know that temperatures no matter what the box says varies when it comes to flat irons, so you have to use your own discretion. The reason the temperature is so important is because healthy hair burns at 450 degrees. I personally don’t want to be anywhere near that. Also, I feel comfortable knowing that I am still pretty close to the average temperature of a blow dryer which is about 100-150 degrees. Now, these are things that make me comfortable this could be different for everyone. I only use my flat iron on clean, dry hair. Before I use heat I always do a thorough deep conditioning and sometimes a light protein treatment. Heat takes moisture out of the hair, so deep conditioning adds a little bit more moisture without completely drying the hair out during heat usage. When I flat iron the sections I go over each section ONCE. I also don’t hold the flat iron in place, I go down the strand gently, but as fast as possible to get the results I am looking for. Again, my goal is not “bone straight hair”. I am literally just heat stretching.

  • What is heat stretching? I started to refer to my heat usage as heat stretching because number one I didn’t want my use of heat regularly to be mistaken for heat training. I am in no way trying to change the natural texture of my hair. I love my curls and coils, and I love that my hair still has versatility after over three years of regular heat usage. Heat training is when you are intentionally adding an excessive amount of heat to your hair to change the texture of your hair and in the end making it easier to manage. With heat stretching you are not using excessive heat. You stick to low temperatures in order to maintain the structure and health of your hair as much as possible. Your only goal is to literally just stretch your hair pretty much like twisting, bunning, African threading, wrapping, braiding, just to name a few. I have chosen to use this method over the others, due to better results and success.
  • My Tips For Preventing Heat Damage

* I changed the way that I looked at using the flat iron in comparison to my relaxed days. As someone who has natural hair, I know my hair and understand that it frizzes at the drop of a dime. Going for bone straight hair is useless, and unrealistic for “me”. This is why I just focus on stretching and not necessarily straightening. When you are trying to straighten natural hair and get that bone straight look, you feel compelled to use high heat to achieve those results, and it leads to unhealthy practices for some.

* Moisture is key. Deep conditioning your hair before and after heat usage could be one of the best things that you do for your hair. Always keep in mind that heat takes the moisture from your hair, so adding to it can only help. Also, I find that going for long periods trying to maintain straight hair leads to dryness and breakage. This is why I have chosen to wash weekly and heat stretch weekly. I need to keep my hair clean and moisturized regularly. This gives me a week of nicely stretched hair. It also keeps me from going long periods of time without water in my hair, which I find to be very dangerous for my hair.

* Low Manipulation Is Your Friend. When I heat stretch I usually go for a low manipulation hairstyle. Buns are my go to hairstyle, and this keeps me from over manipulating my hair throughout the week. It also makes it easier to keep the hair stretched. When I heat stretch my hair the goal is always to make it easier to manage and maintain my hair. So, excessive styling would defeat the purpose and could do more harm than good especially when paired with heat.

  • How do I maintain my heat stretched hair with fitness, weather, etc.? Again I will mention realistic expectations. Frizz, shrinkage, etc. is a part of the journey. I have not found any method that completely prevents these things. To minimize frizz I always focus on how I prepare my hair. One thing that I know causes frizz is dryness. I always deep condition my hair thoroughly before using heat. I am big on oils so I love to add oils to my hair to not only add shine, but help “minimize” frizz. I live in a climate that has high humidity, so I understand that if there is a lot of moisture in the air, my hair will revert. There is no way to stop this process. Our hair is made up of bonds. One of the bonds that makes our hair so awesome are the hydrogen bonds. These bonds allow our hair to be shifted into so many amazing shapes, curls, etc temporarily. When moisture is introduced into the hair it changes the bonds, once it dries it stays in whatever shape you have placed it in. Once water is re introduced into the hair it causes the bonds to be broken and in the end revert. This is why humidity is NOT our friend when we have an amazing twist out. LOL! When we are having a high humidity day, the truth is I go for a bun. This keeps my hidden so that I can keep it stretched longer.
  • Heat Protectant: I have tried a couple of different heat protectants in the past, but for about two years I have been using extra virgin olive oil. I started to use this oil as a heat protectant, because I didn’t really like the way heat protectants made my hair feel. After careful research I decided to start using the oil, it was already a regular part of my hair regimen, so it was not a hassle.  Extra virgin olive oil as a high smoke point meaning it can tolerate high heat. You still want to be careful with this, because that all depends on how high the heat is you are using.  Extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point is 375 – 405 degrees Fahrenheit, 191 – 207 degrees Celsius. Even though this is the smoke point, you don’t want to use heat that is extremely hot, because that could make the oil ineffective. In my opinion this goes for any type of heat protectant. Always go as low as possible when using heat, that is my personal rule.

*A Few Other Oils You Can Use As A Heat Protectant
-Grapeseed Oil
-Argan Oil
-Coconut Oil
-Avocado Oil
-Sunflower Oil

  • When Not To Use Heat: All of the information that I have provided above is ONLY when dealing with HEALTHY hair. You do not want to add heat to damaged, brittle, dry, breaking hair. Adding heat will destroy the hair even more only increasing your hair problems. So just make note to always pay attention to your hair, how it is behaving so that you can a make a good decision on whether you should or should not be using any heat. The truth is sometimes our hair just needs a break from some of the things we put it through during the year including heat,  certain styling routines, etc. Examine Your Regimen to find what could be affecting your hair and when it is healthy you can make a decision on how much heat if any to use.
  • Quick Notes – How hot is too hot?!?! Just make a note that HEALTHY hair burns at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Fine hair can burn around the 200s – 300s. So, make sure you are familiar with the type of hair you have. I just always have a rule for my hair and I never go near 400. I will barely touch 300. Again, the lower you can go and achieve the results you like the better.

Closing
This article is in no way to encourage others to add heat styling to their regimen. This is for those who are currently using heat or may be considering. This is based off of my personal experience and research. In the end using heat is a big decision when it comes to hair maintenance. You have to always be very careful and understand the risk that comes with doing it, even just once. DO YOUR RESEARCH! I truly hope this helps someone!

If you would like to discuss this more in detail or if you have any other questions regarding natural hair. Click The link below! I look forward to speaking with you! Google Helpout - Natural Hair ————————————————————————-

EasyNaturalHair.com
“easy natural hair”

Click MsAliciaJames.com For More “Natural Hair” videos!

My Top 10 Tips To Grow Long Healthy Kinky Curly Natural Hair

Four Years Natural Hair - Alicia James

1. Acceptance:
One of the most important things in the journey is to accept the hair that is on your head. There are people who have hair that shines like the sun, it is soft, the curls bounce back into place no matter what, and they can slide a comb through their hair like it was made of nothing but sand. Then there are those of us who have dry, coarse, kinky coily hair that does not always behave the way we would like. It is easily broken, It can sometimes be difficult to retain moisture, and the truth is it has the reputation of being the least desired hair type. (sad but true) It just has it’s own personality. Once you embrace whatever it is you have, you start to want to build a relationship with your hair. You want to find out what it likes and what it doesn’t like. You want to play around with different hairstyles and see what makes you feel sexy. You’re more open to the experience and little things like a little shrinkage and frizz don’t stop the journey!

2. Clean Hair & Scalp:
Healthy hair starts at the root and scalp. You scalp are basically the home for your hair follicles. Your hair follicles are the little tiny holes that your hair grows out of. You want to create a healthy environment for your hair follicles so that you are able to grow healthy and strong hair. When you don’t clean it,  it leads to product build up on your hair and scalp. Product build up causes dry itchy scalp. The same way you can clog the pores on your face, you can clog the pores in your head leading to no hair growth.

3. Condition / Deep Conditioning
When we wash our hair, our hair is stripped of its natural oils. You want to replace the oils so that your hair remains healthy and moisturized. Hair that is not conditioned can become dry and highly porous. This means it will have difficulty holding on to moisture. Dry hair becomes very brittle, rough and eventually just breaks. Now, everyone’s hair is different so how often you do a regular quick conditioning and a deep conditioning depends on your hair. For my thick, kinky hair, I prefer to deep condition each time I wash. Especially because I am someone who uses heat regularly.

4. Hair Porosity
Learning about porosity was a very important part of my journey. It completely changed the way I looked at moisturizing my hair. I went through almost two years of my journey wondering why all of the water and leave ins were not moisturizing my hair. I remember a really dull appearance and overall just dry feeling to my hair. After learning about hair porosity I changed the way I moisturized my hair and watched my hair transform into soft manageable, naturally shiny hair.
What is hair porosity? The way your hair absorbs moisture
How To Test your Hair porosity? Fill a cup with water. Pull one strand of hair directly from your scalp, make sure it has the white bulb. Take the strand of hair and dunk it into the cup of water, make sure it is completely drenched. Then take the strand of hair and sit on top of the water. If it sinks immediately you have high porosity hair. (hair that soaks up moisture quickly) If it takes a long time to sink or doesn’t sink at all, you have low porosity hair.
What is my porosity? I have low porosity hair
What is low porosity hair? It means your cuticles are tightly closed making it difficult to absorb water or any moisture.
How do I manage my low porosity hair? I utilize a little heat during my deep conditioning/hot oil treatments. I always sit under a heated dryer so that my cuticles open up letting moisture in. Then after I finish my deep conditioning I rinse my hair with cold water to make sure the cuticles are closed. If I am not deep conditioning I will rinse my hair with warm water and do an oil rinse.

5. Oils:
Oil is a very important part of my regimen. I started using oil around my second year of being natural. I use extra virgin olive oil, but there are also other great oils like coconut oil (considered to be the best oil for hair). I am not big on products, so anytime someone asks me what products I recommend I just say always say invest in a good oil. I use my oil during my deep conditioning. I mix the oil with my regular conditioner and I sit under a heated dryer for about 15-30 minutes. I also sometimes do an oil rinse. Oil rinse is just when I completely drench my hair in oil and then rinse out most of the oil leaving a small amount in. This keeps the hair extremely soft and shiny. I also will apply a small amount of oil onto my hair after styling to add shine.

6. Proper Detangling
We all know that kinky coily hair can be very difficult to detangle. It is often one of the main reasons people give up their journey, because the hair seems to be completely unmanageable.
I have hair that is very coily and shrinks up to I believe 70% or more of it’s length. MBL length goes to less than shoulder length hair. What I like to do is detangle under a shower head, as the water runs down my hair. This helps to stretch out the coils a bit. I always have loads of conditioner on my hair to add slippage, making it easier for the comb or brush to slide through my strands. I always start off with my fingers tackling the tangles at my roots and then go to the ends and finger comb up. After my finger combing is complete I follow with a wide tooth comb. Also, the smaller the sections you detangle in the easier it will be. I usually divide my hair into two sections and then break those sections down into smaller pieces.

7. Low Manipulation and/or Protective Styling
Our hair is very fragile and easily breaks. I have found the less I do to my hair the happier it is. The less styling and manipulation the more length I am able to retain. My favorite low manipulation / protective hairstyle is two strand twist. During the time when I was really focused on length retention I wore mostly two strand twist for over a year, and retained so much length. During this time I went from bra strap to waist length in about a year in a half. It is an easy style you can do yourself and you can style them so many different ways.

8. Minimizing Heat and Proper Heat Usage
I am someone who uses heat regularly. I do what I call heat stretching. It makes it easier for me to personally maintain my hair and also retain length. I try to keep my heat usage down to 2 times a month. When I do use a flat iron I use only minimal heat. My goal is never to get bone straight hair it just to stretch the hair out. So always watching the temperature on your heating tools, use them as little as possible. I also do a protein treatment before and after using heat along with a deep conditioner. This helps to add protein and moisture back into the hair which can be taken out during the use of heat.

9. Fitness & Health
This is probably one of the least favorite tips, but we already know whatever is going on inside the body reflects on the outside. It shows up in bad skin, brittle nails, and weak hair. I have a consistent workout regimen. I am not the perfect eater, but I try to always be aware of what I am putting inside of my body, saving any bad items for the weekend trying not to go overboard. I also make sure to drink plenty of water. Believe me I am not someone who loves to drink water, but when I don’t drink water I break out really bad and my body feels extremely tired. So, water is a requirement for me!

10. Patience & Realistic Expectations
The truth is not everyone can grow their hair down to their feet in a year. There are some of us whom it takes longer to retain length, we struggle and have setbacks etc. What it takes someone to do in one year, it may take you two or three. Also, having realistic expectations about how long you will get to your desired length and the appearance of your hair. My daughter has a completely different texture from me. What I have noticed about her hair is it easily detangles, it retains length better and withstands rough treatment a lot better than mine. I know a lot of people don’t like to discuss that one word that I feel has an affect in how your hair retains length (genes), but the sooner we except this the easier it will be. This does not mean you can’t have waist length hair, it just means it may take you longer, and you may have to go through a few more trials.

When I first started my journey I never had the expectation of growing my hair longer. I had never had hair longer than shoulder length. I just knew my hair was badly damaged and relaxers was causing my hair to break off. It took me almost two years to discover that my hair could actually grow longer than it had ever been my entire life. It was amazing. I did it, and hopefully using some of these easy tools you can do it too. Don’t give up! Good luck on your journey!

MY HAIR GROWTH JOURNEY!

Watch My Hair Growth Journey Here!

If you would like to discuss this more in detail or if you have any other questions regarding natural hair. Click The link below! I look forward to speaking with you! Google Helpout - Natural Hair ————————————————————————-

EasyNaturalHair.com
“easy natural hair”

Click MsAliciaJames.com For More “Natural Hair” videos!

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