Thursday, March 12, 2015

Moisturizing and Maintaining My Low Porosity 4C Natural Hair: Dry Climates VS Humid Climates

By J.Naomi Johnson

Traveling between Colorado and Atlanta absolutely has a harsh effect on my Low Porosity 4C hair. Being in Atlanta’s humid climate my hair is low maintenance and does not require much planning as far as how I maintain my kinks. On the opposite spectrum, Colorado’s very dry and my hair requires meticulous planning and strategic styling on my part.

In this blog post I will be discussing what I do to combat environmental changes on my hair when traveling between dry climates and humid climates and why. One thing to consider though before we dive into it is that Colorado is low oxygen and dry with over 300 days of sun shine a year…even when it snows. Georgia is closer to the equator and the Gulf. It has humidity. Although I didn’t find it to be as humid as San Antonio, TX when I visited for two months (on another note I kept my hair in braids the whole time, never washed and used oil and it grew like crazy!) . However, being from Colorado I could feel the humid air all over me especially after it rained those early Georgia mornings.

So with that being said this is what I do with my hair when changing from dry to humid climates.

Things I do when I am up North (Denver, Colorado):

1. Stay away from Aloe Vera and other humectants or products that have it in them! Not just in the winter but all the time. Humectants pull moisture in. In an environment where there is no moisture humectants have an adverse effect on my hair pulling moisture from my hair. I notice when I put Aloe Vera in my hair it moisturized for a second but then dries. I just recently swapped out the Aloe Vera gel I used to style my hair for homemade flaxseed gel.

2. I nightly water wash twice a week and follow with a jojoba oil and butter/cream seal (preferably unrefined raw shea butter, whipped). I know your like no way...multiple washing will dry my hair out! Well, yes… if you’ re using shampoo or any other product in your hair. General water washing is great for my low porosity hair immediately followed by an oil and shea butter seal. I will do this every two days and in between I will substitute the water wash with a water based leave-in conditioner, then the jojoba oil and shea butter seal. Sometimes I switch out my oils for different needs.

3. Once a week I will steam with my favorite conditioner, olive oil and Argan oil (p.s. I always use Argan oil anytime I use heat) to lift the cuticle and deposit moisture and nutrients into the hair shaft. Then I rinse with ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) and very cold water. Then I follow with an oil and shea butter to seal.

4. Drink a lot of water!

Things I do when I am down South (Atlanta, GA):

1. Use Humectants! The humidity for my hair is like an ongoing conditioner. Instead of pulling moisture from my hair it pulls it from the environment. I use Aloe Vera so much that I have to buy a half a gallon from the health food store. Other products such as glycerin, and castor oil work great in humid environments. I will put humectants in my daily moisturizing mist and styling products.

2. Use a sulfate free clarifying shampoo to wash my hair. Due to the humidity I sometimes feel like my scalp needs to be cleaned off and an ACV rinse just will not do. So I will wash it every two weeks and follow with a deep conditioning treatment. I really try to only use the shampoo on the scalp so I split my hair into sections and spray the water diluted shampoo on my roots and lightly massage my scalp and then rinse. Then follow with my leave-in conditioner and style.

In both environments I do a protein treatment every three months. I have noticed that in the South I can use coconut oil and get really great results and my hair does not feel like straw after due to protein overload. I know coconut oil is not a protein but it does mimic protein behavior on the hair shaft and because of that causes my hair to feel like straw if I use it in the north. In Atlanta my hair feels amazing and has a great shine with it. In the north I use neem oil for the same results. Go fig?

Another thing I do in both environments is low manipulation. I try to keep a style for as long as I can. Check out the video below for one of the many DIY protective styles I wear.

So that is what I do when I travel from dry to humid climates! Let me know what you think. Did I leave anything out? Did you experience anything different? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Natural Hair Oils | My "go-to" carrier and base oils, Hair Oil Trends

By J.Naomi
There are so many oils out on the market that many naturals are overwhelmed about which oils they need to accompany them in their journey.   After many years of product testing oils on my natural 4C hair I have a few favorites that I go to for different reasons.  In this post I will be discussing my top go-to oils for natural hair.  I will only be discussing my favorite carrier/base oils.  Although essential oils are great to use for a lot of different reasons, I want to focus on the base oils.
Base oils are what you can use to dilute essential oils and are typically pressed from the seeds of plants.  Many oils do different things and have various effects on the hair.  Most commonly, oils are used for moisture retention (for example the L.O.C. method) and used to heal and nourish the scalp for healthy development of hair.  Some naturals use one type and others, like myself, use many different types at different times or various ones for treatments.  Hopefully my list helps you decipher which oil is best for you.

My Go-To Oils:

1.       Argan Oil – This oil is pretty pricey.  Although it is sensitive to light and must be stored in darker bottling it holds an impressive punch.  This fact also lets you know if it is authentic Argan oil.  Packed with Omegas and a great source of vitamin F and E I use this oil whenever I deal with heat to avoid or decrease the possibilities of damage.   This oil deep penetrates the hair shaft and provides a great barrier when I flat iron my hair or deep condition under a dryer. 

2.       Olive Oil – I add two tablespoons of olive oil to my conditioner to produce soft and shiny hair.  I use it as a part of my hot oil treatments and pre-poo’s.  More importantly I eat it.  All three ways promote healthy hair growth.  I use extra virgin olive oil to avoid chemicals that many company’s use to stretch the oil.   Olive oil rules and is a favorite by many naturals.

3.       Shea Butter – Almost all the products you buy as a natural you will see this in them.  This “oil” is solid but can be melted down to oil form.  Just like olive oil it is a natural conditioner.  However it is also a moisture sealant that can be used to heal the scalp and follicle and used as a butter to style hair.  As a unrefined oil you gain the most nourishment from Shea Butter.  Also, because many hair care company’s offer this product it’s easy to find.  Another plus about Shea Butter is that it can be used all over your body and can improve your overall complexion.

4.       Castor Oil – I didn’t think about this oil until I used it for five weeks and found a great difference in the thickness of my hair.  I had been having issues with my edges due to excessive styling and wearing head scarfs, headbands and brushing my hair into high puffs.  So I used castor oil five times a week for five weeks and voilĂ !  My hair was nice and thick and seemed stronger.  Currently, I use castor oil on my edges and ends to reduce breakage.  Although they say that Jamaican Black castor oil is wonderful and is leading the trend in castor oil amongst naturals, I actually fell in love with the regular CVS Castor Oil Laxative.  Go fig?  Caution: It stimulates your hair follicles so it will itch when you first use it.

5.       Coconut Oil – This oil is not the best oil to me because not everyone can use it.  Although it can be used for hair, body and eaten for those who prefer a healthier lifestyle, this oil cannot be used for naturals that are protein sensitive.  However, if you’re not a natural who deals with protein sensitivity (click here to see my short video on Protein Sensitivity and alternatives) Coconut Oil is the holy grail!  Firstly it smells great.  Not only does it strengthens the hair and adds a glorious shine it can even be used as an alternative method for pre-poo and deep conditioning wash!  Cool thing about coconut is that it lays on the hair shaft like a protein treatment would so you will see many people use coconut oil with protein treatment.

Honorable Mentions:

1.       Alma Oil – Cleansing, preventing grays, deep conditioning, promotes shine
2.       Grapeseed Oil – Sensitive skin, great for mixing with essential oils
3.       Jojoba oil – Pricey. Great for mixing and conditioning hair and skin, closest oil to the natural on our scalp!

4.       Sweet Almond Oil – Hair and skin oil

What oils do you use? Are the oils listed above good or did I leave some out? I want to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below!