I know. I know. I'm wayyyy past the date for my Week 8 update in the Curls of Joy Know Your Hair, Love Your Hair Challenge. (We're now at about Week 11 of this 12-week challenge, but I'll go ahead and do my Week 8 update anyway.)
Just to recap and pick up where I left off from my last update, Week 5 was the Ingredients Roll Call, discussing certain ingredients found in hair care products that are not the best products for natural hair, such as sulfates and silicones. Sulfates can dry and strip natural hair of necessary moisture. I try to avoid these ingredients by choosing sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. Silicones can sometimes be used to smooth and protect hair during heat styling. However, silicones can sometimes cause buildup in the hair and prevent the hair from retaining moisture. I've decided, particularly since beginning these hair growth challenges, to avoid heat as much as possible, so I really have no need to use the silicones.
Week 6 covers the pH of hair and features an excellent video by Kimmaytube on the subject (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3T7AjyDtbY). She demonstrates two options. In option 1, because hair is slightly acidic, she prefers to use products with a pH balance ranging between 4.0 and 5.5, to seal the cuticles, retain moisture and help the ends of the hair curl and grow better. In option 2, she uses products with a pH balance between 6.0 and 7.0. for fuller, stretched, bushier hair. Thus, more acidic products (with a lower pH) give the hair a curlier, more "controlled" look, while products with a more neutral pH (closer to 7.0 - by the way, pure water has a pH of 7.0) have less effect and the result is fuller, bushier hair. Well...these were the results for her hair. I'll have to do some experimenting to see if I get the same results.
Week 6 also features a video by MsVCharles (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l0XEzOBDZM) on jojoba oil and its many benefits, such as balancing the pH of the scalp. There are also other links for articles listing the pH of some popular shampoos and conditioners.
Week 7 covers deep conditioners and treatments. It is recommended that we use a deep conditioner weekly and a protein treatment every four to six weeks. Of course, this isn't etched in stone, as each of us must figure out what's best for our own hair and flow with that. Week 7 also features videos demonstrating homemade conditioner mixtures. To avoid any mishaps from experiments gone wrong, I, personally, prefer to use products already mixed and ready for use. Honestly, the natural hair journey and trying to find the right products and methods to use is enough of an experiment for me. But, to each her own. I applaud those willing to take the time and effort to make their own conditioners and hair treatments. Who knows, one day I may give it a try, but for now, I'd rather just go to the store, get what I need and keep the process as simple as possible.
As far as deep conditioners go, I began this challenge using the Shea Moisture Antibreakage Mask, which I guess did a fairly decent job and probably did eventually soften my hair, while it was on my hair. However, I didn't notice any significant difference from using other deep conditioners. After week 8, I did change deep conditioners. But since this is a "belated" Week 8 update, I'll give those details in a later update.
Week 8 covers moisure and sealing, featuring an EXCELLENT video by IslandGurl3601 on moisture (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alqhhpvgz5E), as well as links to helpful articles from Black Girl with Long Hair. As I mentioned in my last update, moisturizing natural hair is a two-step process involving the use of a water-based moisturizer or water itself (many natural hair enthusiasts have stated that water is the best moisturizer), followed by natural oils for sealing the moisture in, particularly on the ends (the oldest part of our hair).
For the most part, I was using Entwine's Exotique Butter Creme Hydrator as a moisturizer and Entwine Total Perfection Raw Vegan Argan Oil as a sealant. When I ran out of both products, I began using Simply Healthy's Grapeseed Oil Hydrating & Growth Shine Creme as a (temporary) moisturizer and extra virgin coconut oil as a sealant. I did notice that the Simply Healthy Grapeseed moisturizer was lighter and didn't feel as heavy as the Entwine Moisturizer, which is a good thing. My hair didn't feel as weighed down. (IslandGurl3601 mentions in her video that grapeseed oil is a lighter oil.) However, I'm unsure if my hair retained moisture as long as it did with Entwine. Just a side note, the Simply Healthy moisturizer does contain some ingredients that are not recommended, such as petrolatum and parabens.
Within this update period, I also experimented with wearing my "twist-out" for a longer period of time. My twist-outs have been looking better (probably from cutting off those knotty/damaged ends) and lasting longer, even through workouts! Another thing I did differently, to make the twist-out last longer, is sometimes twisting my hair in bigger twists at night, then untwisting the next day, when I'm about to go somewhere. When I wear my twist-outs, I use Pantene Relaxed & Natural Daily Oil Cream Moisturizer as my moisturizer. Although it also contains some "non-recommended" ingredients (silicone and parabens), it does contain coconut and jojoba oils. And as a confessed "product junkie", I have pulled an old product, that I used when I wore my TWA (teeny weeny afro), out of the archives (from 2007/2008), Dark & Lovely Naturally-Honey Wave Glaze. I apply it to my twist-out and it seems to keep it together, with a softer look...maybe? I think that product is supposed to create a soft hold for textured hair. How 'bout that? A styling product that actually works on this hair of mine!
I also gave myself a permanent color, using the Naturatint brand (sold at Whole Foods and other health food stores). Although it does contain peroxide, it does not contain some other harmful ingredients, such as ammonia, that other "less natural" hair colors contain. I wasn't completely satisfied with the color (Light Copper Chestnut), although I've worn this color before. Also, because the instructions said to apply the color to dry hair, I didn't do my coconut oil pre-poo conditioner. As a result of that and probably from using a permanent color, I did notice that my hair, particularly my ends, felt drier afterwards. But, I'll get into the aftermath of that in my next update.
Well, that's all for now. I'll be back with another Curls of Joy Hair Challenge update. Have any of you decided to participate in the Curls of Joy Challenge or any other challenges?