How I prepped my hair for travel and styled it in England

Ever since I started my natural hair journey I’ve been aware that once I’d be taken out of my comfort zone of my flat it’s more than likely that I’d feel a little bit out of sorts doing my hair somewhere where I don’t have access to all my usual products. Not only that, but the fact that I’d be on holiday would mean that I should be out and about visiting with family and friends instead of being indoors spending hours doing my hair. So as the trip to England approached, I quickly came up with a game plan on how I would maintain my hair while on holiday.

Getting my hair travel ready 

Initially I had had a nice long deep conditioning session, followed by  a twist installation in mind for the day before I got on the plane, but as luck would have it, I didn’t have the time for either of those things. So instead I chose to clarify my hair, as I had planned to only co-wash while I’d be in England, and followed it up with a moisturising  conditioner which I oil rinsed out of my hair for added moisture and slip. Afterwards I added my usual products and let my hair air-dry. Once it was time for bed I pineappled it all, and by the time I boarded the plane the next day I chose to simply make a high bun as a protective style. Just before take-off I wrapped a pretty silk scarf around my head to protect the hair at the back from the fabric on the head rest. This method served me well because when I finally took down my hair at my final destination, my hair was still moisturised and soft.

Maintaining my hair while on holiday

As I mentioned before, I came up with a game plan well in advance of going on this trip. I had planned to travel to England without any hair products as I knew that I would buy quite a bit once I was there. So instead, Amazon became my best friend as I purchased the following As I Am products in the knowledge that I would mostly be wearing my hair in a wash & go state. This is what I ordered:

  • Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner
  • Hydration Elation Intensive Conditioner
  • Leave-in Conditioner
  • Curling Jelly Coil and Curl Definer

I have mentioned it before that I really love this product line, but oh my word, using all 4 of these products together really was a heavenly spa treatment for my tresses. My wash & go’s looked Ah-mazing.

Here’s the why and the how:

I co-washed my hair twice while on holiday, and each time I followed it up with the intensive conditioner. I just left it on for a few minutes while I carried on with the rest of my shower routine. I loved how soft and moisturised it made my hair feel after leaving it on for just a few minutes. When it came to styling my hair, I made sure my hair was almost soaking wet while I applied the leave-in conditioner followed by the curling jelly. Adding product to soaking wet hair aids in locking in moisture and minimising frizz, especially with wash & go’s (well for me anyway). On the days that I needed to refresh the style in between washes, I would simply use my spray bottle to spritz my hair with water, smoothed through some leave-in, and then added some curling jelly again. As the jelly provides such great definition and moisture, I didn’t have to refresh every day either.

The only think I missed out on was my beloved coconut oil and by the beginning of the second week I caved and bought some from the local supermarket. I’d apply the oil after the leave-in and right before the curling jelly. I think it just just added that extra bit of shine and softness. The combination of these moisturising products really made for stress and hassle-free low maintenance holiday hair.

What more could a curly girl ask for?

Remember to always love your curls!

x

Disclaimer: I have not been sponsored to sing these products’ praises. I just really love it for my hair! 

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Winter hair care for natural hair

While it’s all Summer lovin’ for us folk in the Northern hemisphere, my natural girls in South Africa are experiencing the complete opposite: dry, cold Winter air competing with them to rob as much precious moisture from their strands as possible. We all know that the ensuing dryness can lead to weak and brittle hair, which is why it’s vital to protect the strands at all costs during the chilly months.

Believe it or not, it is possible to get through the Winter without letting your hair get damaged. Here’s how.

Wash your hair more often

Dry hair is only going to be moisturised by the one true moisturiser – water. Therefore it stands to reason that the more you moisturise, the longer your hair will stay hydrated.

Deep condition more often

Deep conditioning really does do wonders for putting back moisture lost through the elements. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. A simple home-made conditioner comprising some everyday kitchen ingredients can work wonders. Check out some of my favourite DIY deep conditioners over here. Once applied wrap your hair in plastic wrap or put on a shower cap, cover with a towel and leave it on for anything from 30 minutes to an hour (or more) to ensure deeply nourished strands.

Try and oil rinse

Coating your hair with oil before or after you’ve applied your conditioner is another way to ensure softer and longer lasting moisturised tresses. Oil rinsing is great because it reduces the chances of single strand knots from forming, it makes detangling easier and it’s a natural shine enhancer.

Use the LOC / LCO method to moisturise and seal 

If your hair is really suffering, use the LOC / LCO method to lock in moisture. If not, dry and brittle ends can lead to breakage and split ends. Try using a thicker oil like avocado or castor oil to seal the ends. These two oils work well as they are really thick and do an effective job without congealing in the cold weather the way coconut oil and shea butter do. See this article to get the how-to for the LOC / LCO methods.

Try low manipulation / protective styling

Wearing your hair up and out of the way with the ends protected is an ideal way to help prevent moisture from escaping the hair. Have a look at this piece for advice on simple protective styling for ultimate length retention.

Keep your hair off your back and shoulders

Hair resting against woollen collars, scarves and jackets can cause havoc on your ends because of the friction from the fabric, so try to wear your up on the days you choose to wear clothes made up of these types of fabrics.

Line hats and beanies with a silk / satin scarf before you put them on

I think this is pretty self explanatory. The silk / satin will protect your hair from the drying out effect of the woollen hats and beanies.

Wear a satin bonnet / scarf and sleep on a satin pillowcase

It may sound like overkill to do both, but trust me your tresses will thank you for providing the extra barrier to prevent moisture from escaping.

Moisturise from the inside

As with my Summer hair care tips, making sure you moisturise your body from the inside too will go a long way in keeping both your skin and hair healthy and hydrated.

I’ve made use of all these tips during the past Japanese Winter, and I managed to keep my strands healthy, strong and moisturised for the best part of it. I was also able to retain the length, so much so that I was surprised at how much my hair has grown, including a trim at the end of the Winter.

If you have any more tips that you think I should include in this list, please let me know in the comments section below. That way I can compile and share them with my other readers. Also, if you have any more questions that I can answer on how to keep your hair moisturised and soft during the Winter, jot them down below and I’ll try and help as much as I can.

Thanks so much for reading and as always, love your hair…

xxx

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8 Summer Natural Hair Care Tips

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With summer practically on the northern hemisphere doorstep I’ve scoured my favourite natural hair blogs and collated the best advice that I plan to follow for my natural summer hair care routine.

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise

I think moisturising your hair will always come up as the no 1 hair care tip, no matter the season, and it couldn’t be more apt than to ensure healthy hair during the summer. The hot air temperature and the direct sunlight on your hair can really cause havoc on your tresses by drying it out, which leads to brittle hair and eventual breakage.

A few ways to guarantee moisturised hair:

  1. Incorporate nourishing deep conditioning treatments into your wash routine to replenish what the the sun has taken out.
  2. Use moisturisers / leave-in conditioners with water as its first ingredient. This means the product is water based.
  3. Keep a spray bottle handy containing water and / or your favourite moisturising ingredients to spritz and re-moisturise as needed.

Seal in the moisture

There has been some debate going on weather oils really do seal moisture into the hair or whether it’s just a myth. From my experience I can attest that oils and butters really work. If you find that they are too heavy for your strands during the Summer, try switching to a lighter one. If you’ve mainly been using butters during the Winter, opt for an oil like avocado or olive oil during the Summer. Or if you’ve been using heavier oils during the Winter, switch to a lighter one for the Summer, like argan, coconut or sweet almond oil. If this is still too heavy for you, then just apply a light oil to the ends of your hair, where moisture is most likely to escape from first.

Some say that applying gels over your leave-in conditioner can also seal in moisture. I’ve never used gel as a sealant, but go ahead and give it a try to see if this works for you.

Refrigerate your hair products

Rinsing your hair with cold water after you’ve washed it and applying cold products from the fridge will encourage the cuticle to close, which ensures shinier and moisturised hair for longer.

Rock cute low manipulation styes on the days it’s too hot to have all your hair out

As much as I love wearing my hair down during the Summer there are some days that it’s honestly just too hot to have all my hair out around my face. For those days I plan to wear simple low manipulation up-do styles. Some of my current styles include the high and low bun, the puff  and the roll and tuck up-do. Goddess braids is a style I’d like to try as I think it’s ultra chic, feminine and perfect for hot Summer days. Add a cute flower or headband and you’ll be good to go.

Protect the hair from direct sunlight

The easiest way to do this is to wear hats and scarves. I love this method as it creates a direct barrier between your strands and the harsh drying effects of the sun. Of course the fact that hats and scarves add a completely new dimension to your look is an added bonus.

Wet your hair and apply oils/conditioner before swimming

Hair that is already wet from tap water is less likely to absorb more water, which will help it to absorb less chlorinated / sea water. Once sea water has dried on the hair it can have a drying effect as it draws moisture out of the hair. As unstylish as it might feel, consider wearing a swimming cap if you’re going to be spending lots of time in the water, especially chlorinated water as is can be very damaging. Rinse the chlorinated / sea water out of your hair as soon as you’ve had enough water play for the day.

Ditch the satin scarf and sleep on a satin pillowcase only

Those nights when it’s so hot that you can’t bear the thought of wearing a scarf / bonnet to bed, simply prep your hair for the night as you usually would and sleep on a satin pillowcase only, foregoing the scarf / bonnet. You’ll be a lot more comfortable.

Moisturise from the inside too

Generally I struggle to drink a perfect 8 glasses of water a day, and with Summer comes the added cocktail hour every day, which can cause dehydration. But since I’m placing a huge focus on keeping healthy throughout the Summer I plan to hydrate myself from the inside too. The advice I’ve come across is to drink 1 glass of water for every alcoholic drink. This will help to ensure healthy tresses from the inside out.

Love your curls! x

What are some of the ways that you protect your hair during the Summer?

P.S. Next week I plan to write a piece for all my curly girls in the southern hemisphere on Winter hair care, especially for those in South Africa where it’s cold as @#$% right now. So make sure you check back over here during the course of the week.

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My (slightly) updated wash and deep conditioning routine

For the most part of my natural hair journey I’ve considered myself a true naturalista to the point of making my hair products myself  every time I wanted to give it some tender loving care. The main reason was that when I started out I honestly didn’t know where to find natural hair products in Tokyo and products specifically meant for curly hair just aren’t available in Japan. So I soon became a kitchen mixtress. Even though I still consider myself a DIY girl at heart, the truth is that making up all these products yourself takes time – precious time that I don’t always have, and as much as I want to give my tresses all the love and care it deserves I can’t handle the fact that it can take me up to 5 hours – yes I’ve said it – 5 hours on a wash day. Bear in mind that I usually wash my hair on a Monday or Tuesday night after work.

Most often it took extra time because I would literally make up my own deep conditioner or hair mask for every wash session, which typically includes ingredients like fresh avocado, apple cider vinegar, honey, coconut and olive oil added to a base of a natural conditioner. Once applied I would then leave that on for 30 minutes to an hour.

But guess what Ladies? It just takes too damn long! So I’ve come up with a couple of simple ways to remedy my long drawn out wash routine.

1. I’ve discovered commercial product

Yes, that’s right. As effective as it may be, instead of taking an extra 15 – 20 minutes mashing, measuring, messing and mixing up ingredients from my kitchen cupboard I now use a couple of effective commercial, but still natural, deep conditioners. The 2 products that  have been giving me back some valuable time are Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Smoothie and the Monoi Repairing Hair Mask, also from Carol’s Daughter. I use these 2 interchangeably so that one week I focus on intense moisture and the next week on protein and strength.

2. Sometimes I skip the deep conditioner

I feel like I’ve been committing the biggest faux-pas of the the natural hair community, but every now and again when I’m really short on time, I skip the deep conditioning session. Rather, I do a very quick version of it. Instead of stepping out the shower for half an hour with my hair under a plastic cap and towel, I simply apply a really moisturising conditioner followed by avocado oil, which adds that extra dimension of moisture, slip and softness. I’ll leave that on my hair while I’m getting on with the rest of my shower routine, and I find that once I’ve rinsed it out, my strands feel like silk and the curls are just bouncing away.

Like I said, I only do this when I’m really short on time or just not in the mood to only climb into bed at midnight, and as for discovering shop bought product, it really has saved me a lot of time and effort. I still incorporate home-made deep conditioners into my routine, but just less so than I did before. I imagine once I start running out of product I’ll be back to making a lot of my own again. And to be honest, I’ve recently come across a few recipes that I’d like to try in the near future. But right now, shop bought goodies are making my life so much easier and my hair remains healthy and strong.

Who ever said that natural hair care should be time-consuming and complicated?

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Dry hair? Try co-washing for moisturised hair

Co-washing natural hair

Did you know that it is possible to cleanse your hair by skipping the shampoo and using conditioner only? Conditioner washing, commonly referred to as co-washing is  exactly that –  a method of cleansing the hair preferred by many curly girls because of its ability to keep the hair extremely moisturised. Since we already know that water is a naturalista’s best friend, the H2O combined with conditioner create a dream team for detangling and high moisture levels.

How do I co-wash?

Essentially you follow the same process as you would when using shampoo, except that you replace it with conditioner.

Why co-wash?

Most shampoos tend to contain ingredients that are too harsh for the hair. If you’ve ever had that squeaky clean feeling after washing, it’s most likely due to the harsh chemicals which have stripped the hair of not only dirt and product build-up, but also of the scalp’s natural oils (sebum) which can lead to severely dried out tresses. These ingredients include, but are not limited to parabens and sodium laurel sulphate. The sebum already has a harder time reaching the ends of the hair due to navigating the curls’ twist and turns, so this really isn’t good if you’re trying to keep your strands moisturised. No need to add fuel to the fire by stripping your delicate curls  of it protective sebum. 

It is also many naturalistas belief that conditioners contain a small amount of gentle cleansers and that they can and should be used more than shampoo to clean curly hair.

There are a few ways that you can incorporate co-washing into your regime. You can kiss shampoo goodbye completely and only use conditioner, or you can co-wash in between shampoos to freshen up your hair so you don’t have to shampoo as frequently.

Benefits of co-washing

  • Hair remains moisturised for longer.
  • Additional conditioning may help with breakage.
  • Contributes to more bouncy and shiny hair.

Downside of co-washing

  • It may be needed to wash more frequently because shampoo is not being used.
  • It is easier for product build-up to occur on the scalp and hair.
  • Frequent use of conditioner can cause hair to feel stringy and ‘mushy’.

I’d suggest co-washing with a light rinse-out conditioner as deep conditioners tend to me more rich in texture as well as more expensive, so it’s best to  save your luxury products for the deep treatment moments. And if you’ve decided to make co-washing a regular part of your routine, try to avoid products that contain silicones. These ingredients are generally easy to identify on product labels as they end in -cone. Many silicones are synthetic additives that are not water-soluble, making them a little bit harder to wash out without harsh detergents. The end result is yucky build-up on your hair and scalp, and that’s something that no one should have to deal with.

If you don’t want to cut out shampoos completely, I would suggest using any shampoo that’s made  of natural ingredients. I’ve been using Aubrey Organics shampoos and conditioners for quite a while as my staple products and love that my hair has responded to it so well.

As for co-washing, it really does serve as a solid foundation for moisturised hair. If you’ve been struggling with extra dry hair, give this technique a try.  You can only end up with happy and healthy hair.

xxx