Archive for the ‘FAQ’ Category

Coloring Hair Naturally

Tiffanie recently sent an e-mail requesting recommendations for coloring her hair that has never been chemically processed.

My personal experience with hair color is that it always slows my length retention progress. Most of the time we get stuck in a rut and want to switch up our hair and color is one of the ways we do it. It requires quite a bit of maintenance, you have to keep coloring it, grow it out or color over it if you get bored with it. You can do a google search and see all the complaints about dyes and even henna changing curl patterns/hair textures. You have to decide for yourself if its worth all that.

Safely coloring hair is such a complex topic. There could be whole blogs dedicated just to coloring hair. There are whole books on the topic, whole classes in cosmetology schools. If you are interested in coloring your hair, I strongly suggest you read two of my favorite books: The Science of Black Hair and Naturally Healthy Hair: Herbal Treatments And Daily Care for Fabulous Hair. Both of these books have extensive information on coloring hair without chemicals among other amazing info.

So before you do anything to your hair, I implore you to read at least one of those books. They are both in my personal hair reference library and I reference them frequently. Don’t rush into, make an informed decision so that you don’t have any regrets. You might also consider some sort of temporary hair additions to achieve a certain look without permanently putting your hair at risk.


Transitioning Questions Answered

I asked you to submit questions about transitioning and here are some that were posted in the comments along with my answers.

Q: I haven’t pressed my hair in 3 weeks and I have washed it 3 times but I am having problems with my ends. I have never had a relaxer but I have been having my hair pressed/flat ironed all my life so my ends are very tamed and straight. I have no idea what to do with them! I am doing twist out but they aren’t lasting very long and unravel at the ends. What products do you think I should use? Do you think my ends will curl up again?

A: If you want to see your natural texture in all of it’s curly coily glory, you’re going to have to stay away from heat. Some people are lucky in that their hair reverts to a curly/coily state after a couple of super moisturizing deep treatments, but sometimes the heat damage is so bad that the curls/coils never come back. You can decide to cut them off or gradually grow them out. In the meantime, try to blend the ends with your natural texture by doing twist/braid outs and rolling the ends on perm rods or flexi rods to get a tight natural-looking curl/coil. As for products, you can read 101 Best Products for Curly Hair or visit product review sites like Makeup Alley or Naturally Curly’s Curlmart. My personal favorites are any Aubrey Organics or Giovanni conditioners for deep conditioning and Kinky Curly’s Knot Today and Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Lite for leave-ins/setting agents.

Q: I read and hear a lot about naturals having to moisturize daily (usually with shea butter) and seal with one or more natural oils. I’m wondering if this is necessary for those in transition? I still have 8-9 inches of relaxed hair and oiling it that often will weigh my hair down heavily and turn it into a greasy mess. Does the shea butter and oil regimen benefit only full naturals? Or should transitioners be doing so as well?

A: You have to do what works for you. You definitely want to keep your hair moisturized and be proactive about it (transitioning or not), but you may not need to do it everyday. My hair is easily weighed down and can feel greasy too if I have a heavy hand, but some people need to do that to keep their hair from drying out. Heavy butters and oils can be too much on certain hair types. You might try lighter oils and leave ins.  Moisturize whenever you feel like you need it.

Q: Next month (July), will mark my 3 year break-up with perms. I’ve told everyone I know. No one really cares b/c I change my hair styles every other month. But it’s exciting. I have yet to wear out my natural hair. I’m not yet comfortable with the look. For the past 3 years I’ve had braids and weaves to help my hair grow. I use oils and greases but of course my front edges are a mess. What do you recommend to help my edges grow and what steps can I take to getting my natural hair soft? A few friends recommended that I find a good dominican salon and have them train my curls. I’m at a lost.

A: Congrats, that is exciting! First, why aren’t you comfortable? Explore that. List all the negative thoughts you have surrounding your new look. Really go deep and figure it out. Try to flip all the negatives to positives. Surround yourself with inspiring images of women that have a similar hair type as you. Step up your game in other areas of your life that you do feel comfortable and confident in. Look at yourself in the mirror and say all the things you love about your hair. Wear your best outfits and give yourself a fashion show. Do it everyday before you sleep and when you wake up. Eventually, if you’re diligent, you will grow to love it and be more comfortable and confident rocking it. If you’re trying to repair your edges, you want to stay away from high tension hair styles: too tight braids, ponytails and weaves. You might also consider getting rid of brushes and fine tooth combs. You might even see a dermatologist to check for traction alopecia which is kind of common in women that wear weaves and braids often. I don’t think going to a Dominican Salon is the answer if you’re trying to repair your edges, they use round brushes and a lot of heat. If you’re serious about repairing that damage, stick to no-tension, low-manipulation natural hair styles. You can smooth your edges without a brush by wetting and moisturizing your edges and then tying it down with a scarf for about 15 minutes for smoother edges without using brushes or gels.

Reader Question: Expiration Dates

A reader asked…
Hi! I recently purchased 3 bottles of conditioner from the Wal-mart Salon and they were all on sale for 60% off. I immediately thought I was catching a bargain and racked up. When I got home and took the sticker that was hiding the reason for my bargain, to my surprise was a date of 8/13/2006! 2006 are you serious!  Why do they still have that stuff? So my question to you is does conditioner go bad or is it still usable after the expiration date?
If something has an expiration date, it’s there for a reason. I wouldn’t take a chance, return it and get your money back. I also want to encourage other readers to look for an expiration date before making a purchase. If you like your hair, don’t take chances on bad products just to save money. 
The industry standard shelf life of hair products is 18 months after it’s been opened and 3 years if it’s unopened. My personal rule of thumb is if I haven’t use a product in 6 months, I toss it in the trash. Why? First, I hate clutter and hoarding. Secondly, if I haven’t used it in 6 months, it probably wasn’t the right product for me. If a product works well, I typically use it up within 3 months. Lastly, I’m not taking any chances when it comes to my hair. It might be a good idea to label the bottom of your products with the date your purchased it if you can’t find an expiration date. Periodically you can go through your products and purge.
I’d be super careful if you swap products with other women and also buying from discount stores likes Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Family Dollar, Dollar General, etc. because without an expiration date, it’s nearly impossible to tell how long the product has been sitting on the shelf. Some companies label their products with an expiration date and if that’s the case you will have to examine the package to find it. I’ve seen it on the underside of the package, near the bar code and even sometimes right on the front label.

Storing products properly to avoid moisture, humidity and extreme temperatures can increase the shelf life of your favorite cosmetics.

Even though products can typically be kept unopened for three years, this decreases to about 18 months after it has been opened, according to Cindy Moser of Zotos International, a parent company to hair care brands like Bain de Terre. The shelf life of opened products is  decreased by about 50 per cent because they come in contact with bacteria from skin or become diluted from drops of water.

And, even if hair care items stay unopened, they expire after the industry standard of three years. ‘Over time, oxidation, heat and even light can diminish the full potency of natural and organic ingredients,’ says Pat Peterson, the executive director of research and development at Aveda.

Reader Question: Safe to Detangle Everyday?

A reader asked…

Is it safe to detangle every day?

Low manipulation is the key to longer fuller hair. I don’t recommend daily detangling, but you should strive to keep your hair detangled so that when you do detangle you don’t loose a lot of hair. That means not letting your hair matt up. Make sure you braid it, twist it or set it with rollers when you sleep and wear a satin or silk scarf or bonnet. Also, take time to detangle your hair. Rushing will increase the chance of breakage. If you feel like you’re going to do something that’s going to tangle your hair, then wear a protective style like a bun to decrease the chance of knots and tangles. Also, if you do experience tangles and knots, try to work them out with your fingers and conditioner or oil before you try a wide tooth comb, but watch your fingernails. Don’t pull and be very gentle.

Reader Question: Thin Ends

A reader wrote:

I need major hair help. I am transitioning and have about 1/3 left of relaxed hair. The ends are awful and thin while the crown and base are HUGE. I’m so frustrated and needing a change.

If you’re really frustrated, it may be time for you to do The Big Chop and let go of those relaxed ends. You should read Preparing for the Big Chop and When To Cut Off All Your Relaxed Ends. Ultimately, you have to do what makes you happy. Doing The Big Chop could possibly make loving your hair a whole lot easier. Give it some thought, weigh the pros and cons. It’s hair, it will grow back. The most important thing is you are happy with whatever decision you make. There is no cure to fix the thin ends except to chop them off. You can try blending them by wearing roller sets, braid outs and twist outs if you can’t let go, but if they are as bad as you say they are, they will have to come off eventually. 

One day I was so frustrated with transitioning that I just took the leap and chopped off my relaxed ends. I felt a little regret in the first couple of weeks, but I got over it when I realized how much easier it was to deal with my hair without the line of difference and the thin relaxed ends. I began to see a dramatic difference in how much length I gained after I chopped off my relaxed hair and how much healthier my hair looked without the relaxed ends.

Enjoy the journey! 

Reader Question: Weak Hairline

A reader asked:

I’m tired of wearing a weave and as the weather is gettng humid and hot in Canada I want to sport my hair natural. I no longer have a perm under my weave however as you’re probably aware bad maintenance of my hair has resulted in a weak and short area on my hairline. I was wondering how I could detangle my hairline without damaging it more? I just want to sport my hair naturally but it doesn’t look good with my weak hairline which is shorter and less curly than the rest. I was told to detangle it with a gentle perm for kids?! Is it a good idea?

Mane and Chic is a natural hair blog and I would not recommend using a relaxer or perm of any kind especially if your hair is already damaged. The harsh chemicals in relaxers will only add to the damage you are already experiencing. If you’re serious about getting your hair back in shape, lay off the chemicals and the weaves. Cleanse your hair weekly and do deeply conditioning and reconditioning treatments. Only detangle in the shower with a Jilbere shower comb with lots of conditioner. Use the coolest water you can tolerate. Also, stay away from boar bristle brushes, use a scarf on wet hair to tame your edges. If you feel like your hair looks odd with the weak edges, you might consider a hair cut to even out your hair while your edges grow out. Also consider seeing a doctor, you might be suffering from traction alopecia, a common condition among women who wear tight ponytails and weaves. It’s important to see a medical professional soon because the condition is reversible if it is detected in its early stages.

You should also read:
Dopest Hair Product of 2009
 31 Natural Hair Tips 

Reader Question: Nightly Reset

Kim asked…

You mentioned that you use Kinky Curly Knot Today and end papers to reset your hair at night. Do you also spritz your hair with water or do you apply the Knot Today onto dry hair? In your past posts you stated that you sprayed your hair with water, however in recent posts you didn’t mention whether this was still a part of your routine. Thanks for all of your hair advice it is truly helpful.

I do both. Sometimes I use Knot Today on dry hair and sometimes I dilute it in a spray bottle. I smooth my hair and if it needs more moisture, I will add a little leave in or a little spray. It depends on how my hair feels. Smoothing will detect rough areas and areas that need moisture. It’s not an exact science. It’s intuitive and based on how my hair feels that day.

I also rotate with whatever products I have in stock for my nightly resets. Right now it’s Knot Today, Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk, diluted Suave Almond and Shea Butter, diluted Aussie Moist. If I feel like my hair needs it, I spray with Evian facial Spray, Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave in or diluted conditioner in a spray bottle. If I feel like it, I seal my ends with an oil or shea butter. I also like to baggy my roller set ends to lock in moisture. I don’t use water when I baggy so it’s an either or deal, never both because then my hair would never dry with the added water. I get slightly better results when I use the diluted conditioner mix to reset, but if I have to wake up early and I need my hair to be I dry, I skip the spray bottles and just use a leave in and maybe an oil. Sometimes, if my hair feels moisturized enough, I just add an oil with no leave in.

FAQ: Newbie Going Natural First Steps

Kristen asked…

Do you have any info and/or opinions on going natural without the big chop. I have shoulder legnth hair that I get lightly relaxed every 6 weeks. It seems pretty healthy; however, I know it can be healthier. I really haven’t had natural hair since a child. I don’t know what my natural curl pattern will look like. I’m afraid going natural may cause me more damage because of new growth or tangles. Need help making a decision. Oh, I love my length so I don’t know what to do.

Kristen, sounds like you want to become a transitioner. A transitioner is someone that wants to grow out their relaxer and be completely natural. This blog was started to document my journey from relaxed hair through my one and a half year transition to now finally being natural for two years.

I suggest you start by reading the following posts:

Heat Damaged Curls

A reader asked:

I noticed that my curl pattern has changed since using the flat iron to maintain straighter roots 2 weeks ago. Is it possible to revive the natural curl pattern to my hair?

One of two things can be happening. Either you didn’t cleanse and deep condition well enough the first time after your straightened or you could be experiencing a form of heat damage. In the first case, you really need to cleanse and deep treat your hair and examine if your curls pop back. I typically recondition and condition my hair after straightening and leave in a deep treatment overnight after using heat to straighten. Because I use a minimal amount of heat and because my hair is healthy, it returns to its natural state as if I’d never straightened. If after a couple of washes your hair doesn’t return to its usual state, you may be suffering from heat damage. Unfortunately, if this is the case, the chance of your curl pattern returning is slim to none. A lot of people think that heat damage comes from over usage of heat, but the truth is even if you go three years without using heat and decide to use it one day, extreme heat can still wreck your hair. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to wait for it to grow out. Make sure you’re deep conditioning weekly and keeping your hair healthy and moisturized. You can wear braid outs, twist outs and roller sets to blend the hair without using heat. In the future, when you want to use heat to straighten there are some things you can do to decrease the risk of heat damage, but ultimately you will be taking a chance whenever you decide to use heat to straighten.

  • Use a heat protectant or something to coat your hair before applying heat, but be careful if you have fine hair. Too much product can make your hair looked weighed down and dirty. 
  • Make sure your hair is healthy and moisturized before using heat, deep condition and recondition before you straighten.
  • Stretch your hair before applying heat. I roller set and do silk wraps before I use my flat iron to decrease the amount of heat that I use to get my hair straight. This also enables me to use a lower heat setting on my flat iron to reach my desired straightness.
  • Make sure your hair is dry before you use a flat iron.
  • Keep the ironing moving fast during the process. Think of ironing a piece of silk.
  • Don’t go over the section with the flat iron more that necessary. I do at least 2 quick passes, but no more than 4. You have decide your own desired level of straightness. 

10 Tips for Preventing One Strand Knots

Trichonodosis also known as One Strand Knots, Single Strand Knots, Fairy Knots, Pixie Knots and Peppercorn Knots are one of the most annoying things about having naturally curly to kinky hair. I’ve rarely ever heard them referred to as endearing (and only if the person was being sarcastic). Most women either hate or ignore them. They charge them as just a necessary evil of being natural. When I first cut off my relaxed ends, I became all too familiar with these little nasties. Over time, I learned a few ways to manage these vexatious diminutive tangles. So before you sentence yourself to countless hours of your life staring at your strands through a magnifying glass — needle and scissors in tow — here are a couple of ideas on how to prevent single strand knots or reduce their occurrence.

  1. Moisturize at least once or twice a day with a nutritive moisturizer. Monitor how long it takes for your hair to feel dry and just stay on top of it by actively moisturizing your hair. Look for super moisturizing natural ingredients. Moisturized hair is less likely to knot up. It’s a good idea to carry around a spray bottle to spritz the hair with water or a mist. I love those Evian facial sprays and they are refreshing just to spray on your face and hair in the middle of the day. Dry hair is also a sign that your hair needs to be washed. You should be washing your hair at least once a week. You don’t necessarily have to use shampoo, you should consider co-washing regularly if shampoos are too harsh. 
  2. Do not give your hair the opportunity to coil up on it’s own: wear protective styles, braids, braid outs, twist outs or roller sets. For extra protection against knots, set the ends on rollers. This may be difficult to swallow if you’re a ‘wash-n-go’ type of girl, but if the knots are really getting on your nerves, you will have to decide whether you love your ‘fro more or hate the knots.
  3. Protect your hair while you sleep. Wear silk/satin bonnets or scarves to bed. Braid, twist, bun or place your hair so that it’s comfortable for you to sleep, but in a way that it won’t coil up on it’s own ends. Friction from cotton bedding can damage the hair over time if it’s not being protected. Be careful of the accessories/tools that you use overnight, you don’t want anything that’s going to snag or pull while you toss and turn.
  4. Deep condition or use deep treatments on your hair weekly and really focus on taking care of those ends. Healthy hair is less likely to tangle, mat and knot.  
  5. Employ the use of oiling well-conditioned wet hair (also) known as oil rinsing to make your hair easier to detangle. One way is to deep condition, apply oil and use a heat cap or wear the treatment overnight. Another way is to shampoo, oil, condition and rinse the hair. This makes the hair easier to detangle and prevents knots and matting. Obviously you want to skip this step if oils do not agree with your hair.
  6. Do thorough, but careful detangling. Use a seamless fine tooth comb after detangling with a wide tooth comb or your fingers (and perhaps a Denman brush). Always start and the ends and work your way up. This is not something you’d want to do everyday because using a comb in a hurry is tantamount to using a pair of scissors if you aren’t careful. A careful detangling should take A LOT of time. Divide your hair into sections and detangle each section before moving on to another section.
  7. If you must shampoo, only apply the shampoo to your scalp. I shampoo once a month or less. I find that applying shampoo to my scalp on dry hair before any water ever touches my hair is a far superior method than the traditional way of shampooing. I section my hair and apply to my scalp as if I’m greasing my scalp and then rinse out in the shower, making sure to really massage all of the shampoo out. Sometimes I also apply shampoo to my scalp , diluted with water, with an applicator bottle. With both methods, my hair never mats up, it’s far easier to detangle and that means I loose less hair when I wash. Shampoo can strip old fragile ends — a breeding ground for fairy knots. 
  8. Stay away from towels and cotton. I never ever use towels or cotton on my hair. They can snag on curly and kinky hair, causing split ends and those dreaded knots. Would you wipe down a Bentley with a cotton bath towel? Treat your hair the same.
  9. Smooth your hair. Before styling or setting your hair, run your fingers down sections of your hair as if you are flat ironing your hair between your fingers. This will reduce frizz, stretch, smooth and lessen the chances of getting knots. 
  10. Keep your hands out of your hair. Too much manipulation will scratch the cuticle, wreak havoc and can lead to split or splitting ends and pixie knots. Would you claw at antique cotton drapes or a fabulous silk dress? Think of your hair that way.
Have you found ways to reduce pixie knots? Please share in the comments.