My existence is a life-long treasure hunt.

6 Years Natural

I hit the 6-year mark back in October. As I’m sure a lot of naturals in it long-term know, your hair IS “long” starting at about the 2-year mark but it doesn’t LOOK long for a while more. That was especially true in my case because my hair is really fine and light, so it took awhile for it to begin weighing itself down.

Now I’m living the good life length-wise. I can make a bun with MY OWN DAMN HAIR AND IT WILL ACTUALLY STAY IN A BUN. I can whip my hair dramatically to leave a room even if it’s for no reason. It’s great.

My current routine is an amalgamation of Teri’s method from tightlycurly.com, Francesca’s methods from heyfranhey.com, and my own ideas.

I had been doing Teri’s method for awhile but was starting to get frustrated. Even with leaving the conditioner in, separating each curl, etc. my hair would STILL get frizzy. I know a lot of that is due to Houston’s climate. That’s why I’m glad the humidity is gone (except on the occasional rainy day) so I can truly experiment now. I also realized after time, that Teri’s hair is THICK. My hair is not really thick. I think that may be a key part as why that full method isn’t giving the results I want. I was seeing too much shrinkage and poodle hair.

So I found heyfranhey and began experimenting.

I wash every Sunday. Co-wash only, no shampoo. I currently use the Whole Foods 365 conditioner to wash my scalp (huge bottle for about $5, has lasted forever), then rinse that out over the rest of my curls. I then use Giovanni (either the 50-50 hydrating or leave in…I dunno, it’s 2 different varieties that I confuse with each other) to coat my hair for the de-tangling process. Here’s where a crossroads has occurred.

I’ve been using the Denman to detangle, but it clumped my hair together too much and gave me poodle hair/shrinkage. But, the wide-tooth comb doesn’t fully detangle like I need it to. Fran finger-detangles her hair. I tried that and it took me ONE GOTDAMNED HOUR just to detangle one-FOURTH of my hair. Nawl. So I looked up some youtube videos and googled other people doing it. One girl said finger-detangling saves her time. Girl, what? So I figure I must be doing that wrong. Fran is supposed to come out with a Youtube series around January so I may revisit then if she demonstrates it.

So La gave me the idea of alternating comb first, then Denman, then comb again to loosen up the poodle curls. Ima edit that to Denman first (using Teri’s method of ends, then working the tangles out from the top and clearing from the bottom so you’re not brushing the same part of the hair over and over, which causes stress), then comb to loosen the poodle clumps.

Then, another crossroads occurred after my hair was detangled.

I was previously just leaving the conditioner in, and letting my hair air-dry. That ain’t working for me anymore. So now, I rinse the conditioner out, apply aloe vera juice (search heyfranhey.com for aloe vera juice info) to the hair while it’s still dripping wet, then put a LITTLE Giovanni as a leave-in on top.

The aloe vera juice has changed the game. It locks in the water, so your hair is super shiny and soft AND MOISTURIZED.

Then, when it comes time to put your hair up at night, yet ANOTHER crossroads. I had been doing 1-2 braids or a bun at night. Then, I tried pineappling (hair in a loose ponytail of sorts at the top center of your head, then putting a scarf over it). That shit gave me too much shrinkage, because my hair didn’t want to “lie down” when I took it down. BUT, the curls were intact and cute though. So now, I’m thinking I’m going back to alternating braids/buns for the stretch that it gives my hair. I also sleep on satin scarves draped over my pillowcase, shout out to Kit for that idea (easier than ordering satin pillowcases).

When I take my hair down in the morning, I mix a little grapeseed oil and Giovanni together to moisturize my ends, as needed and to smooth down the top of my hair if there are any fly-aways.

So I think I have almost perfected my routine. Co-wash once a week, detangle with Giovanni and Denman brush/comb combo, rinse, apply aloe vera juice, apply a little bit of Giovanni on top, air dry. Braid/bun at night, take down in the morning, apply teensy bit of oil/Giovanni mixture. Stunt. I’m going to get some peppermint oil to massage my scalp before washing, as I have heard from multiple people the benefits. I also want to pick up some Shea Moisture conditioner (I use the body wash now and OMG it is heavenly. Luxurious, and that SCENT, and all natural ingredients, I definitely recommend you try this line).

Here are some photos.

I don’t remember what combination of a routine I was doing at this point. I know I hadn’t gotten the aloe vera yet, and I know I wasn’t using the conditioner-only method. I think this was when I was just using olive oil/grapeseed oil during the week and I wanted to show the link because I was getting little shrinkage.

This was a couple of weeks ago, also on the grapeseed oil only routine at this point. It was a Sunday, and I was headed to my niece’s christening. My hair looks fierce but also dry and that’s because Sunday is my normal wash day so this was 8-day old hair at this point. I love the fluffiness though.

That’s another revelation I’ve had at 6 years natural. I LIKE FLUFFY HAIR. I just don’t like frizzy hair (for me). I’ve been focused on what will save my curls the most and showcase them with no shrinkage, and I’ve just had to accept that though, yes my hair is clearly curly, it is on the fine/light side, and throughout the course of a week, the curls naturally stretch out (if I don’t fight them) into this Chaka Khan-ish look. AND I LOVE IT. Just so you can see a comparison of what I mean, look at this last picture:

See what I mean? This photo was last week. I started the aloe vera thing, and pineappling at night. See how much shorter my hair looks? The curls are cute, yeah but I don’t like the overall effect of my hair like this. So this Sunday I’m going to modify the routine, using the same products but modifying my nighttime/morning routine. No more pineappling for me.

Anyhoo, that’s a slice of my hair life at 6 years natural. It’s awesome. I’ll post more pics as I perfect the new routine. OH, and length-wise, my hair reaches my lower-back when stretched. Just about to my badonkadonk.

Also, for a photo progression of my hair, click here.

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Comments on: "6 Years Natural" (9)

  1. you never use soap? I really cannot wrap my mind around not washing my hair with soap…but then again I don’t understand the concept of dry clean only either…I need soap and water all up and through my life…

    I’m not natural and I have this wonderful fungus called dandruff so piling on a ton of conditioners pisses my scalp and hair off greatly! And as much as I like pissing people and things off…I am super nice to my scalp LOL

    The constant need to moisturize was one of the main reasons why I wouldn’t go natural…my scalp can’t take that type of stuff nor can my hair..either I have great hair or relaxers (my stylist says its both) do something to help it retain the little moisture I put in it…I try not to use a lot because of my funky acting scalp….

    I wrap my hair every night to keep it straight plus I have an old satin slip over my pillow cause I wasn’t paying all that money for some dang satin pillow cases hell I could probably make some for cheap too

    anyway, your hair looks GREAT!

  2. Hey Bef! Thanks boo! Most conditioners have enough detergent in them to clean scalp/hair as long as you’re not using a bunch of products on your scalp, which I don’t. It definitely works for me because shampoo dries my hair out too much. Now, my scalp doesn’t so much as itch until maybe Saturday (the day before my wash) so it’s cool.

    You say piling on a ton of conditioners, but I definitely don’t do that and that is surely a ticket to scalp hell. I only use 1 to wash, then that gets rinsed out. The detangling conditioner doesn’t go on my scalp, no oil on my scalp, etc. Once the scalp is clean people need to focus on their actual hair/ends. But you’re right, if people are piling all these products and heavy conditioners on their scalp and leaving it there, that’s not good at all.

    I’d say it’s a lot easier to moisturize natural hair now than it has been in the past; it’s just a matter of experimenting. For me, the aloe vera juice is a godsend because it looks/feels just like water, so it’s super light and it seals in the water in your hair so it has no choice but to be moisturized.

    Damn, that’s a good idea to use a satin slip! I have a satin nightgown that I don’t really wear that would be perfect over the pillowcase. The scarves work, but I sleep pretty wildly and they don’t always stay on. I’m trying the nightgown tonight!

  3. Monique218 said:

    Hey Gem,

    So are you still smoothing each curl on wash day? I found the same thing with my fine hair that I could not leave in any of her recommended conditioners. The one that worked the best for me was the one you told me about, Natures Gate. My hair loves this, I also got better results when washing out the conditioner too so I am going to try the aloe vera juice with the Argan oil I just ordered. Also, I found that braiding my hair at night while leaving the ends undone(not braiding down to the ends) works great at keeping some of my curls but stretching it some too.

  4. Have you tried braidouts at all? I’ve found as my hair gets longer, braidouts are a nice way to show length without using heat. I use conditioner as a leave in (like with Teri’s method) but mix in a little oil to help seal. Wear it in twists for a day (which can be cute too) and then take it out for work. If you like big hair, it can get pretty big with a little fluffing.

  5. Listen!, We ovah Here ( My aunt mom sis cousins) all stay on That Aloe Vera juice, is WONDERFUL for hair shine!

  6. Loving the curls and regimen! I can’t wait to hit my two year mark in April and eventually have the length you have. Give me healthy hair anyday.

  7. Monique218: Nah, I’m not smoothing each curl on wash day anymore. I’m so lazy that I need the lowest-maintenance routine possible and smoothing each curl took forever. BUT, with the new routine I’m doing, my hair still looks good without smoothing each curl, so I’m glad for that. Maybe once my hair gets heavy enough to weigh itself down, I’ll try it again one day. Ah, yes good old Nature’s Gate. I forget why I stopped buying it; I think because the price went up a while ago? That’s still my favorite conditioner, good lord the lemongrass scent is heavenly. I think I’m going to try to order it again from Amazon. I’m glad it worked for you too! I’ve heard good things about the argan oil but yes definitely try the aloe vera juice! Aubrey Organics on Amazon. I do the braid and then twist it once it gets to the ends and tuck the loop into the braid like Teri does.

    Jo: Yanno, I tried braidouts long ago and found that they don’t work for me when my hair is wet. The curl/crimp pattern kinda gives me spider hair if that makes sense. BUT, I’ve had good success with 1-2 braids when I braid it dry with a little bit of conditioner. I think for my next special occasion I’ll try a braid-out on dry hair w/conditioner and see how it goes. How many braids do you do?

    QQ: SO Y U NO PUT ME ON TO THE JUICE THEN! You guava-flavored people always tryna keep the beauty secrets! No but for reals, it’s wonderful.

    Monique: Oh, the 2-year mark should be fun! I had the most glorious afros ever at that point! Then came the magnificent day when I could do a real-life bun/ponytail! Yaaassss, hang in there, you’re looking good!

  8. I’ve been natural my entire life. I’m still trying to grow my hair a certain length and then i’ll be in love with it. Right now it’s shoulder length. I’m trying to get it to bra strap. I’ve stopped straightening all together and it seems like that helping alot. The damn Alopecia i was cursed with doesn’t help tho. Whomp!

    Your hair looks great and very healthy. I’m tryin to get like you!

  9. oh and i know this is a little girl but I find that this method of leaving the ends loose really does help with keeping the big hair going strong! lol

    http://babybighair.com/2011/07/rockin-big-hair-protecting-the-poof/

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