Hair Garden’s 1st Natural Hair Meet-up!

Hello! Hair Garden is having its first natural hair meet-up! Come join us on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 from 6-8pm at Golden Corral. It’s located on 231 Bobby Jones Expressway, Augusta, GA 30907. I have reserved the party room so you know where to find us! There will be free natural hair accessories and activities! Come meet other natural hair beauties of Augusta. Whether you’re already natural, transitioning, or just curious about natural hair, you are welcomed! The purpose of this event is to share information about and promote positive outlooks and healthy hair for ALL hair types especially highly textured natural hair.

I will post photos and details about the event on the site. If you can’t make it this time, do not worry, there will be one meet-up a month so hopefully we will see you next time!

E-mail me at hairgarden@live.com if you have any questions. Thank you!

My First Henna Experience

Hello! I had been hearing a lot of buzz in the natural hair community about henna and all its benefits. I didn’t want to alter my natural hair color so I never considered it. However, I came across a “henna gloss” recipe on www.curlynikki.com that gives you all the conditioning benefits along without the color change.

What is henna?

Henna is a shrub native to Asia and North Africa. It contains pigment called lawsonia. It is extracted by grinding the leaves and stems of the plant. For centuries it has been used to color hair, skin, nails, and fabric. It works by bonding to the  keratin in your body (what the outer layers our hair, skin, and nails are composed of). Henna is not a permanent color.  It gradually fades taking anywhere from a month to almost a year to leave the hair and about a week to 6 weeks to leave the skin and nails. Henna originally is a red-orange color. Other plants are added to henna to produce the other colors offered, such as auburn, brown, and indigo.

Why I decided to try henna gloss

I decided to try henna because with my research I was convinced it would be the right conditioning treatment for me. It bonds to the keratin in your hair adding strength. This also fills any “holes” in the strand (missing shingles from the cuticle) adding to the overall strength and elasticity of the strand. This also give the hair more sheen! My hair had become dull from frequent co-washing and failure to seal my ends like I should be doing. I have always had a problem with dryness and split ends because of my hair type (fine/medium strands, high density, very tightly coiled) so I needed a little something to assist me with maintaining moisture and restoring strength.

Natural hair right before applying henna.

I purchased a henna color from the local natural foods store. As the recipe stated, conditioner, yogurt, or honey can be added to the mix to block the color. This was also stated in the instructions that came with the henna for those who only wanted the conditioning benefits. I added about half of the big tub yogurt (about 16 oz), 6 tablespoons of honey, and a teaspoon of olive and coconut oil to my mix, along with a few drops of rosemary oil. I added a teaspoon of distilled water and  yogurt here and there to lighten the mix a bit because it was really thick and lumpy. Once I was satisfied with the consistency of the mix, I began to apply. It was a texture similar to pudding or cake batter.

Henna Mix

The henna I had smelled like green vegetables or even fresh-cut grass. You are supposed to apply the henna to clean, towel-dried hair. I shampooed with a bar of black soap and towel-dried my hair gently by slighty patting with the towel. I sectioned my hair into four sections and began from the apex (middle) of my head and moved my way out towards my nap and edges. This reduced the mess and kept the henna off of me for the most part. I went through in small sections like I was sealing my ends. I used my gloved hands to apply the product. Once my hair was completely saturated with product it kind of reminded me of the caramel treatment. It felt very heavy in my hair and weighed it down a lot just like with the caramel treatment. My hair doesn’t do that with any other conditioning treatments.

Hair with henna applied
Hair completely saturated with henna

I put on a shower cap and left the mixture on for 6 hours. Some leave theirs on overnight. I didn’t have that option and wouldn’t have left it on that long any way. I also spent about 45 minutes of the first hour under the dryer. The rest of the day I put on a scarf and ran my errands. When it was time to rinse I filled the sink with warm water and dunked my head in the best i could and swished my hair around. I used my fingers to shake some of the grains from the henna out of my curls. After that, I shampooed with lavender castile shampoo I mixed. I repeated twice and took my time shampooing each time to remove all of the henna. (Make sure you deep condition very well following a henna treatment to prevent dryness!) I then followed with a honey and olive oil deep conditioner. I sat under the dryer with low heat for about 30 minutes and then co-washed it out with Giovanni Smooth As Silk Deep Moisture conditioner. I repeated the co-wash twice.

I towel-dried my hair then sealed my ends with a mixture of shea butter, aloe, castor oil, and a few drops of rosemary oil. To set my hair, I decided to use banding. I banded my hair and let it set for about 2 days. I always wear a nice head wrap out when I am banding. I like to leave my bands in for a while just to reduce the styling stress on my hair from picking. When I took the bands out I was pleased with the results. If you take a  look at the “results” photos in my banding article, you can tell a huge difference between the condition of my hair after using the henna. There was no obvious difference in my curl pattern. The only change I noticed was that my curls bunched more. My hair definitely felt stronger. There was almost no shedding during detangling. I had more shine and my hair seemed thicker.

Hair after henna and banding

 

More curl formation in parts

 

Back view of hair after banding

In the post-banding photos above, my hair has not been combed out yet.

I haven’t experienced any post-henna dryness so far. I am making sure I give my hair everything it needs before it needs it to prevent that from happening! I will comment that my scalp was slightly itchy after using the henna but that was from having that wet product in my hair for the extended amount of time. Needless to say, I am in love with henna. It is now a permanent part of my protein deep conditioning  regimen. I think I will do henna every other month. Overuse of henna could cause dryness and I do not need that!

If you are looking for a conditioning treatment to revive your hair, I would definitely suggest trying henna!

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Baggying

Want a quick moisture boost without having to go through the entire co-washing experience? Finding that your moisture needs to be replenished more often during certain seasons or after wearing a hairstyle for a prolonged period? Baggying may be one part of your solution! So what is “baggying”? Baggying is a conditioning practice consisting of simply wearing a baggyingor shower cap (even a grocery bag!)!

l have found it more beneficial to apply a small amount of a light leave-in conditioner to my hair before I baggy and then I seal my ends after baggying. The warmer environment inside the cap during baggying causes the hair shaft to swell and the cuticles to raise, in turn, making it easier for the hair to accept the moisture. The cuticle scales will naturally begin to lay down on their own as they cool, however, sealing your ends after aids in that process as well as ensuring proper product distribution and aids in defining curls.

I usually baggy in between conditionings when moisture is needed but a cleansing is not necessary or possible at the time. When I baggy, I apply a small blend of an oil and aloe to my hair. Castor oil, avocado oil, and glycerin are good examples of a humectant oils, but they are heavy/thick oils. Be careful not to overdo it with product beforehand, especially if you plan to seal afterwards. I wear my hair in a few chunky plaits or twists or simply leave it out in an afro. It all depends on how I plan to style my hair afterwards. I wear the shower cap in the for about an hour. I don’t like to leave it on for more than an hour with moisture applied because I didn’t like my scalp exposed to a warm and damp environment for too long. I recommend doing your baggying around bath time if you don’t want to wait around for the cap to steam itself.

You can customize your baggying experience using your favorite leave-in conditioner, milk, oils, butter, cream, etc! There are many possibilities! I would love to hear what works for you!

Thanks for reading! -ApHropupHs

Banding

Banding is the process of taking natural hair and stretching with the use of ponytail holders. The holders are twisted tightly along the shaft of the hair manipulating the curl pattern to become looser.
 
Banding natural hair
Banded natural hair #2

 This is ideal for people who want to stretch their curls for a bigger afro, those who want more manageability options or drying method for those that want to follow with a hot comb or flat iron to straighten the hair and want to use the least possible heat as possible. It is less stress on the hair than blow drying.

I recommend the “ouchless” ponytail holders that do not have the metal piece. Those can snag your natural hair and cause breakage.

I usually band my hair right after sealing my ends with something heavy like castor oil or shea butter. I use plain shea butter more frequently though.I also employ the help of a good wide-tooth comb and my Denman brush.

Denman brush

 This is my natural hair completely banded and an after photo of my hair after bands are taken out. This is the initial result of my type 4 hair after banding. Hair has not been combed or picked yet in the photo. I pick the hair for a blown out afro look.

My banded natural hair
Hair after bands are taken out

 Hope you found this helpful!! Thank you for your interest!

 

 

 

Kelp for Healthy Hair

kelpKelp is used by many herbalists as a mineral supplement. It is called “herb from the ocean” or referred to as a sea vegetable. It falls under the Protista family of the Six Kingdoms of Life.

Kelp is one of the fastest growing plants, second only to bamboo. It grows several centimeters daily. Giant kelp can grow up to 100 feet in one year and up to 2 feet in one day.

Kelp is very rich in nutrients. It is 10 times richer in minerals than any known land crop. Kelp contains over 60 minerals and elements, 21 amino acids, simple and complex carbohydrates and several essential plant growth hormones.

It is rich in iodine, calcium, sulphur and silicon. It also contains phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, chlorine, copper, zinc and manganese. It has a small amount of barium, boron, chromium, lithium, nickel, silver, titanium, vanadium, aluminum, strontium, bismuth, chlorine, cobalt, gallium, tin and zirconium. Kelp is also rich in B-complex vitamin and contains vitamin A, C, E and G. It also contains anti-sterility vitamin S, and it has anti-hemorrhage vitamin K.

Many of the abovementioned minerals are vital for optimum hair growth. These nutrients are carried to the dermal papilla through your blood. The more nutrients in your blood, the more nutrients can be supplied to the hair follicle. Kelp is known to prevent hair loss, and there are claims that it can regenerate hair if the follicle is still alive.

Another important component of kelp is alkali. Alkali helps your body maintain the balance between acid and alkaline. Our body’s normal pH is around 7. Your body’s pH balance is dependent on the food you put into your body. When you are sick, eat a lot of low quality foods or consume a lot of foods with high pH, to prevent your body from becoming more and acidic. Taking alkali into your body by taking kelp will help you stay balanced and healthy.

If you do plan to take a kelp supplement, take only one or two tablets a day, and take 2 days off a week and a week off each month.

Those suffering from hyperthyroidism or have heart problems should not use kelp.  If you want to begin taking kelp but are not sure if it is right for you, please contact your physician before adding this supplement to your diet.

Thanks for stopping by!!

Castor Oil

Lavender Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Lavender Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Considering adding castor oil to your natural product line-up? I advise that you do! If you are experiencing slow growth or thinning, castor just might be the oil for you!

Some of you may be familiar with castor oil as a laxative or other home remedies. I have been using it as part of my hair are regimen for a super long time now, from the Bronner Brothers castor oil I used when I was younger to the Jamaican black castor oil I use now. I had no idea of the many wonderful benefits of it until my adult years. I visit the local natural foods stores and vitamin shops for my castor supply.. I am sure there are several types on castor oil available online as well. I just use the Lavender oil Jamaican black castor oil. It is a heavy oil and has the consistency of syrup. I rarely use it alone because it can be too heavy and weigh down my hair and make hard to manage. When applying to my scalp I use it undiluted but when applying to my actual hair strands, I lighten the mix by adding another lighter oil such as olive, grape seed or almond.

So what exactly makes castor oil so great?

On the outer layer, castor oil is great for natural hair because it coats the cuticle of the hair sealing moisture inside. On the inner layer, it works as a humectant. This means it pulls its moisture from its environment to help it do its job, so I advise that when you apply castor, to do so while the hair is damp, preferably after a cleansing or prior to baggying. I also like to use it when the weather is humid. It works great as detangler and aids in my hair elasticity.  Omega-9 fatty acids are found in castor oil which keeps the scalp lubricated and nourishes the hair.

Because it is so heavy and it works best in moist environments, be very careful with how much you use. If there is no moisture in the hair to begin with then it has an adverse effect on the hair actually making it tougher. Castor plants grow and flourish in tropical areas, so it is my theory that it naturally needs additional H2O from external sources to get the best results from the oil.

I often include a few drops of castor oil whenever I oil my scalp. Castor oil works great to prevent and slow down hair loss from the scalp depending on the source of the problem. The oil contains anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that protect your scalp from some infections that can cause hair loss. Castor oil also aids in detoxifying the harmful substances invading your scalp. Once the unwanted particles are inactive, the skin cells are more easily stimulated and nourished. This then promotes circulation and blood flow that promotes  hair growth. It is almost like a laxative for the scalp as well!

I have often heard about people using it to grow and thicken their eyebrows and eyelashes!

I love the way castor oil makes my hair feel and it is an oil that I will always be a part of my hair care regimen. Castor oil has plenty of great benefits that I think would be very useful to people seeking natural ways to encourage natural hair growth. Let me know how it works for you!

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Oil

coconut oilI believe that if a product is good for you, in order to achieve the maximum benefit, you must use it correctly. Having a better understanding of coconut oil and its benefits is the reason it will always be one of my staple products. I purchase virgin coconut oil. It can also go by the name of unrefined coconut oil. You want to stay away from the refined kind if you are trying to get the  maximum benefit of the product. One way you can tell if you have the unrefined coconut oil is by the smell. It will have the sweet, coconut aroma to it.  Refined sounds like it would be better right? That’s not the case. Refined means it has been bleached and processed and many of the nutrients have been stripped from it.

Note: For those that do not like the coconut smell, try masking it with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. 🙂

The natural oils our body produces is called sebum. There are lots of beneficial substances in our sebum that keeps our scalp healthy and allows hair to grow faster and stronger. One of those substances is a fatty acid called a medium chain triglyceride (MCT). These acids act as an antioxidant, antiseptic, and act as a powerful antimicrobial when broken down by the healthy bacteria found in your natural sebum and on your skin! These acids destroy disease-causing germs, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They work with natural pH of your body and basically forming a protective layer over your skin. When you cleanse your hair and skin you wash away your natural MCT’s. Ridding your skin of this vital protective layer leaves it vulnerable to all types of organisms, good and bad. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of MCT so, you can replenish all of the oils you lost naturally!

Coconut oil also has amazing benefits for the hair. Since it is closest to what our body produces naturally, it is also more easily absorbed by our hair. Many of the oils we use on our hair and skin are composed of  long chain triglycerides. The beneficial molecules are too large to penetrate the skin and hair. These oils sit on the cuticle layer providing sheen and assisting in smoothing the cuticle. However, the medium-sized chain is just the right size for hair and skin to naturally absorb. MCT’s flow freely within the cuticle of the hair strand, minimizing protein loss and ensuring maximum conditioning and moisturizing benefits. This is what makes coconut oil an excellent choice for pre-poo and shampoo recipes.

My brother began suffering from acne when he began college. We tried buying him all types of topical solutions and face washes and nothing really seemed to work. With the information I encountered about virgin coconut oil, I gave my brother some to try. I saw him again 2 weeks later, exactly 12 days later. His acne had reduced by almost 60% and his complexion was amazing! I had forgotten about the oil I gave him and didn’t even think he would use it. My mo asked him what he had been doing differently and he said he began using the coconut oil twice daily after washing his face and continued using when he saw a difference.

I’m a firm believer in coconut oil and its amazing benefits! I hope you also enjoy this wonderful oil! Thanks for reading! 🙂

On a side note, coconut oil  is even more beneficial when taken internally. The internal benefits are just as amazing as the external ones and it will show!

Hair Garden Whipped Shea Butter

HGshea

One of my personal favorite products in the Hair Garden line is the Whipped Shea Butter. This particular blend of shea butter and oils get is labeled the “preservation formula” because that is its main function! My belief is that healthy hair comes from the inside. Once the hair grows out of the follicle, it is up to you to maintain its suppleness and health.  Shea butter is rich in Vitamin A and E making it great for your skin and hair. It has great moisturizing properties and coats the hair shaft which is excellent for protecting and sealing moisture into the hair. Olive oil is another ingredient in this product because it is an excellent conditioner and improves elasticity. Honey is a great humectant which also has anti-bacterial properties. Peppermint stimulates and improves circulation as well as balancing the pH of the hair and skin. Castor oil coats and softens the hair and stimulates the scalp. What makes this product special is that it also contains an amino acid concentrate that strengthens the hair and skin and improves its elasticity and aids in moisture retention. This product works great as a leave-in conditioner following the Hair Garden Cleanser and also is excellent for your daily moisture needs. This product is also great for baggying and banding! Enjoy the optimum benefits of this product by applying to wet or damp hair and only apply a small amount to avoid making the hair too oily. Contact me at hairgarden@live.com to find out how to get a jar of the “preservation formula”!

You Should Be Pre-Conditioning!

Pre-conditioning your hair is also known as a “pre-poo”. This is basically the process of pre-softening, conditioning and preparing the hair prior the cleansing process, which can be stressful on very coily hair.

Naturally, our bodies produce sebum to lubricate our hair and scalp, correct? When we cleanse our hair with detergents it strips the natural protective layer of sebum we have which can lead to dry or dehydrated scalp and hair. Our natural pH is also altered when we do this which can also result in dry hair and scalp. The combination of dryness and elevated pH can also lead to frizzy hair. This is why for some hair types, cleansing followed by conditioning alone is not effective in maintaining proper moisture levels.

Avocado and Coconut Milk Pre-Conditioner

You can pre-condition with one oil like coconut oil or you can make a simple cocktail of nutritious goodies for your hair. I prefer the simple and nutritious cocktail way! I like for my personal recipes to consist of a fatty base, a carrier oil and an essential oil. Why, you ask?

1. Fatty/thick base – Avocado (my favorite!), palm oil, honey, full fat yogurt.

  • These work to help soften the cuticle of the hair. They are thicker and will help coat the hair as well. Thicker oils are great lubricants for the friction involved in the anticipated cleansing.

2. Carrier oil – Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, castor oil.

  • These oils have smaller nutrient chains that can penetrate the hair even easier once the cuticle is softened. They also “carry” the benefits of the essential oils to the hair and body.

3. Essential oil – Rosemary oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, tea tree oil.

  • These are oil pressed from different herbs, flowers, plants and fruits. They have many therapeutic and healing properties for the scalp and follicle and are also beneficial for the hair. They are in concentrated form and can be delivered to the body by adding drops to a carrier oil.
Pre-Conditioning Treatment

You can pre-condition before every cleansing. I prefer doing it every few cleansings. I usually leave it on for an hour or so covered with a processing cap. I found that a no or low lather cleanser is best for my hair so I opt for the low lather when I precondition. I follow with small amount of a natural commercial conditioner like Giovanni or Shea Moisture. My final step is to use my pH balancing treatment and then I rinse lightly with lukewarm water.

You can use any combination of these and a variety of many more oils. I just listed the few that I use regularly but you can try any of your  favorite oils. Take a look at a few of the pre-conditioning recipes that I have tried under the Deep Conditioners category! I would love to hear what you tried and how it worked for you!

-Aphropuphs

Sealing Your Ends

 

endsOnce your hair leaves the root, it depends on you to maintain its health and moisture. Sometimes applying the product to your hair with open palms doesn’t get the product everywhere it needs to be. Sealing my ends is part of my personal natural hair care regimen. My hair has low porosity, which means it is harder for it to absorb moisture so sometimes I have problems with my ends being dry. Sealing your ends evenly distributes the product to each strand and smoothens the cuticle.

I seal my ends while my hair is still damp after every shampoo or co-wash and once in between depending on how long I go between washes. I seal my ends with a different mixture products depending on my hair needs at the moment. I use different combinations of shea butter, aloe, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and essential oils. I often slip and become a little heavy-handed with the product making my hair extremely oily. Be careful not to do this because it can end up clogging pores, making hair clump and unmanageable and resulting in hair getting dirty faster.

Sealing ends is very simple and can be quite relaxing. I enjoy the time I get to spend exploring my hair and massaging my scalp. I do it while watching my favorite television show or listening to music. I take my hair in tiny sections, ranging between about the size you would use if doing a micro braid or box braid, depending on the length and density of your hair. I separate the hair with my fingers and rub a small amount of product between my thumb, index, and middle finger and proceed to smooth it down the strand of my hair from the scalp to the ends. I make sure I focus on the ends in particular because this is the whole point in sealing! I continue this process until I have sealed my entire head. I go through it with my extra-soft boar bristle brush to smooth and catch any excess oils, detangle with a wide tooth comb. I usually do this before bed so I braid it down before I go to sleep.

 

I can tell the real effects of the products I’m using because they are now reaching the places they usually miss. In the morning when I take the braids loose and comb my hair the result is a super-soft, shiny afro!

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