DIRECT HEAT: the natural girls nemesis

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good morning lovelies, I hope your week was absolutely fab.

I just got to work, and already I keep sneaking glances at the clock hoping for some fast forward time warp miracle.. ah well!

Today I would like to talk about heat damage and natural hair. Something that, in my experience, strongly attributes to the various reasons as to why afro hair "does not grow".

Heat damage is one of those irreversible conditions; once the damage is done, its done. Allow me to try and explain the harsh effects of excessive heat:
Direct and excessive heat breaks the natural protein bonds in the hair structure and at the same time destroys the cuticle. The cuticle acts as a protective barrier for the inner layer. Once the cuticle is damaged, the inner layer is exposed and breaks due to vulnerability, dryness and moisture loss.

This is why heat damage is not something that can be undone. Natural heat damaged hair will lose its curl definition and refuse to revert when wet (it will literally not shrink! gasp!!). This is one sure way of finding out whether or not your hair might be damaged from heat; the inability to revert and curl back into its natural curl pattern (4b, 3c etc). Trust me, you will know.

Yikes right? I cringe as I recall my past hair salon visits where I demanded a good strong blowdry... with extra hair oil. I literally used to FRY my hair.. Yikes.



FAQs on heat damage:
1. "Is there anything I can do to repair the damage that is already done?"
I would recommend a series of protein treatments to help repair some of the damaged hair. In cases of heat damage, I have found that mild protein treatments help. Since hair is composed primarily of protein, protein treatments bond to the hair to keep the damage at bay, as opposed to it getting worse. They help to rebuild the hair structure using the protein to help "fill in the gaps" in the hair strands, so to speak. Please note: once heat damage reaches the point of no return, your only available option is to trim or cut the damaged ends.
2. "What can I do to protect my hair from heat damage?"
Purchase a good quality heat protectant lotion, serum or spray. They might be costly (KSH 600 -900) but they are well worth it. A heat protectant substance bears the brunt of the heat we expose our hair to and acts as a protective layer for your hair. Also, avoid using the maximum setting on your blowdrier, curling iron or flat iron; this will minimize the potential harm. And lastly, AVOID HEAT ENTIRELY!! that has been my motto for the past few months and I my hair has grown insanely since.
3. "Is all heat absolutely bad for my hair?"
I will never speculate that all hair is similar; there are some happy success stories of naturals who dabble comfortably with heat (whilst taking the necessary precautions of course) while others speak of horror and gore when asked about heat and their hair. I believe that once you know what to do to protect your hair and once you know of the potential harm involved in your actions you will make the right decisions. Keep in mind that ones hair should NEVER SMOKE when dealing with heat! Also, it is advisable to restrict ones self to heat sessions as rare as once every three - four months. (You can take these moments to do length checks and trimmings!)
I hope this post has been helpful. Watch this space for more posts on day to day hair care and for more DO's and DON'Ts. Have a lovely and safe weekend!

Mad love!
Mary

Pic courtesy of Google.com

Natural Hair, Style and Makeup

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” Coco Chanel

Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” Coco Chanel

Most ladies who rock natural hair have a sense of freedom and eccentricity that I totally admire. Style is lacking in Kenya.. I know this may have me burned to a stake but I am sticking to my stance that most ladies in Kenya have no style. A BBC article even said that Kenya has the worst sense of fashion in the continent. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8387050.stm

Style is not the clothes you wear but how you wear them. As you walk in the streets of Kenya, most girls have on some fake hair, bad jeans and just have no sense of uniqueness. I know this may sound superficial but in my opinion I think a woman should look after herself both inside and out, by what she is wearing and also how she carries herself. I might sound like I am bashing Kenyan girls but I am just speaking from observing ladies on the streets, in clubs and restaurants. This does not include all Kenyan women, because I must admit some Kenyan women do carry themselves very well.

Most people may say that dressing well and looking good requires a lot of money, I say that that is false and a misconception. I dress well YEAH I'm going to put it out there..I think I do dress well and Mary has the most amazing sense of style she does her own thing....whether its a graphic t-shirt and jeans or just a nice dress. Most people upon meeting Mary and I, always say that they understand why we are friends, coz we dress strange!!! Well if I dress strange then Hurray to Strange. I would rather be strange than normal and a wallflower.

Dressing well in Kenya may be expensive if you expect to shop in malls and in the city centre. The shops in places like Westgate and Junction as well as Kenyan stalls are priced exorbitantly and no ordinary Kenyan can afford to shop in this places. I look at the fashion pages of magazines and newspapers and cannot imagine who they target because once you look at the stock list and the prices,you are taken aback at how an outfit can cost over Kshs 15,ooo. This to me is ridiculous. I am proud to say that I shop in markets such as Toi and Gikomba, mainly because you can get real bargains and also get some good designer stuff. I recently spent Kshs 2000 in toi and came out with bagfuls of bargains which would not even get you a pair of jeans from Mr Price.

As a Natural girl you have to try and look good and prove that having natural hair does not make you any less beautiful than the girl with long, swishy straight hair. Thats why I try to do my nails every week, shave my legs lol, do my hair and make sure that I look and feel great. Coco Chanel did say that to be irreplaceable one must always be different! I always try to live by this and that also fashion come and gos but style remains eternal.

Thoughts?

x Nyachomba

Poetry, Hair and Fabuolousness!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mary and I recently took part in an Open Mic Event in Nairobi (READ, wrote a poem in 5 mins and decided to perform) It was very scary for me...Mary will write about what she felt. She really spurred me on to do it..which when I think back was a great achievement for me. The poem we wrote is below.....mind you we are not really poets we just wanted to get the natural hair revolution out there.

See that gurl over there,
they call that "that good hair
and then she walks by and holds your stare.

My hair My hair,
Nappy, Kinky, barely there hair.

Blowdry, straight kit, weave it,
Burn it, Braid it, put a wig on it
All this I try but still it wont fit.
So I cut it.

Now everywhere I go
People be staring at my funky fro,
I am that gurl with the lovely mane,
Free from the creamy crack that was once my bane.

So forgive me If I strut as I walk,
Throw my hands in the air!
For I live by the creed that,
ALL HAIR IS GOOD HAIR.

Hope you enjoy it and please leave comments if it speaks to you

Henna II

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hey
So now we know what henna is and how long it has been used in Asia and Africa. I shall now go on into how to mix it and use it on your hair.

The henna lawsone dye needs some kind of acid for full colour release although some people do not use any type of acid. Some curly haired ladies only use henna for its conditioning properties and hence do not need any acid in their henna mixes and only add water. Henna works amazingly on African hair it;
  • gives the hair red highlights
  • relaxes the curl pattern
  • gives hair shine
  • makes the hair thicker
Henna relaxes the curl pattern by attaching itself to the cuticle of the hair, as it does so it makes the hair strand heavier and the increased weight makes the curl look loosened. The thickness also comes from the henna molecules attaching themselves to the cuticle layer.

Henna Mix
Mary and I use Hasina Henna which we get from Ebrahims supermarket for Kshs 50. Hasina henna is very fine and rinses off very easily and has a high dye content. We mix the henna with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 cups of strong black tea and then just before applying it, add some olive oil and a handful of conditioner. We add the olive oil and conditioner to combat the drying effects of henna .You can add some orange juice as lemon juice can be a bit harsh.It is best to leave the mix overnight for maximum colour release.

henna mix
When applying it is best to use gloves so as not to dye your palms orange. Apply the mix in sections, I use four sections and make sure each strand is coated. Dont be stingy with the application. You should leave the mix in for a minimum of 4 hours, Mary and I sleep with the henna in our hair and wash it off in the morning. After rinsing the Henna your hair might feel a bit hard, it is essential to do a moisturising deep conditioning treatment for a minimum of 1 hour without heat.

hair saturated with henna

The conditioning effects of Henna will be felt straight away. My hair usually feels stronger and thicker plus oh so shiny. The colour takes 3 days to settle into the hair, due to oxidation. My hair is mainly black but the roots (Virgin hair) go a deep red colour while the tips remain dark with a red tinge in the sun. The picture below is the best I could find to show the hair colour.

my hair, notice the red tinge, especially at the roots