Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Hair Talk | Natural or Relaxed?

I don't do these posts often as I'm don't how much you're interested in me just gabbing about what's going on with my hair, but I thought this kind of post was due.

I last relaxed my hair way back in October and today makes me currently 5 months post relaxer. I usually relax between 8 and 12 weeks, 16 at a maximum. I'm not sure why I've stalled my relaxer so long. I admit that I miss the straightness as it's been 4 months since I used heat. I also seem to be battling with endless tangling currently. At the same time I'm finding it hard to let go of the new growth and finally relax my hair.

I've toyed with the idea of a keratin treatment but as my last two times I've tried it myself didn't work out I'm reluctant to try it again. I really want to find an alternative to relaxing as I do eventually want to give up the 'creamy crack' altogether but I'm not ready to fully embrace my natural curls by transitioning just yet.

This has been an ongoing dilemma of mine and it's made me reluctant to play my hair over the past year. I used to do different hairstyles and be excited about trying something new with my hair. That feeling has subsided but I'm hoping I'll work something out soon. I guess for now I'm still unsure.

Are you experiencing any dilemmas with your hair currently?

Lesley x

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Review | Ben Nye Banana Powder

I bought Ben Nye Luxury Loose Powder in Banana (£7.50) back in July last year after reading a lot of reviews raving about how good this stuff is. I have to admit that when I first tried it I was left a little underwhelmed. I think I was expecting a lot more because I'd read so many good reviews. That said, the powder has been a staple in my daily makeup routine for the below reasons.

If you don't what it is already, it's a yellow coloured face powder. I've always preferred to use colour correcting products as a lot of drugstore makeup can leave my skin with a hideous pink cast. This powder sets my makeup perfectly for a matte finish and despite the colour it doesn't actually leave your skin looking yellow. The finish is translucent and brightens the skintone which makes it especially effective in the under eye area.

I bought the small size which is 1.5oz/42g and I can't believe how long this has lasted considering I've been using the product every day for 7 months! It's a cliche, as it's often said when describing beauty products, but a little really does go a long way. I only use a couple of swipes of the powder to rid my face of any oiliness.

Another positive about this product is it's actually not that expensive, given how long it lasts. I paid £7.50 from the Guru Makeup Emporium for the smaller size.

I have to admit this product can be hard to get hold of. I found it through a Google search and the first places I found didn't have the powder in stock. My first order of this from the Guru Makeup Emporium was cancelled as the product had gone out of stock and it wasn't available again until a month later.

The packaging can make the product a bit hard to use as it makes a lot of mess but I get around that by decanting some of the product into a smaller pot with a sifter which I can carry around in my makeup bag.

All in all this is a great product and when it does finally run out I would definitely buy it again.

Have you tried any Ben Nye products?

Lesley x

Monday, 10 February 2014

Relaxing | Self Relaxer Preparation

This how I self-relax my hair with a no lye relaxer. Everything detailed here is a combination of my own personal experience with relaxers, what I've read online and from books. I am not a professional.

DO NOT relax on hair that is breaking or damaged.
If you are going to relax take the time to get your hair at it's best so you have the best results.
Do not try applying a relaxer yourself if you are not confident, please go to a professional instead.

Now let's begin, this is a pretty long post but I didn't want to miss anything...

The week before the day of your relaxer

3-7 days before relaxer day clarify to remove product build up and do the necessary conditioning treatments.
Relaxers break the hair's protein bonds, so it's good to do a protein treatment before relaxing.
Test porosity as low porosity hair might not relax and porous hair might be relaxed too easily. 
Hair needs to be fully dry and detangled 2 days before relaxer day as the scalp needs time to build up it's protective barrier (by producing sebum) to prevent scalp burns.
Do not comb or scratch the scalp as this causes damage leading to burns. 
Patch test. Section off about an inch of the hair, apply relaxer to the new growth and neutralise as normal. Take note of the results to guide how the relaxer will be applied on relaxer day.

Before the applying the relaxer

Read relaxer instructions!
Gather your tools before mixing the relaxer to make sure you have them all. You will need: plastic sectioning clips (not metal), an applicator brush/sprush, a plastic mixing bowl (optional), Vaseline or a protective base for the scalp, a thick conditioner or oil to protect previously relaxed ends, gloves and of course the relaxer kit. You will also need a timer and a old towel to put around your shoulders. 
Section the hair into 4 sections as shown in the relaxer instructions. You can make sections within the four sections to make the application process faster. 
Apply the protective base to your whole scalp but not on the hair as it will stop it from relaxing.
Apply oil/protective cream to previously relaxed hair.
Decide on your method of application i.e. self-relaxers might add oil to the relaxer in order to slow the process down and give themselves more time or have someone apply the relaxer to the back sections whilst they do the front. I use the half half method which involves relaxing half of your hair at a time. 

Applying the relaxer

If using no-lye, mix the relaxer until its a creamy, uniform consistency (usually for 1-2 minutes).
Start the timer!
Apply to the new growth only, one section at a time.
Start in areas that take longer to process. For me it's the middle so I start with one of the back sections and apply top to bottom. Try to rotate where you start relaxing i.e. if you last relaxed the left side first, start with the right side on your next relaxer.
Apply relaxer to the hairline/edges and nape last as these areas are the most delicate.
Most home relaxer instructions state to spend just 8 minutes in total applying the relaxer so you have to work quickly for an even result. 
SMOOTH SMOOTH SMOOTH. It's the smoothing process that makes the hair straight.
Aim for 80% straightness as 'bone straight' hair leaves the hair weaker.
Do not leave on until you feel burning! Your scalp should never burn.
Rinse with water and make sure ALL visible traces of the relaxer are gone before neutralising.
OPTIONAL: Before neutralising you can apply a protein treatment (leave 5 minutes extra to do this step).
Neutralise (with the shampoo that came in your relaxer kit). For the first use keep it on the hair for 5 minutes giving it time to neutralise. Rinse and apply again. Neutralising locks the hair in it's current state so keep smoothing the hair straight. Rinse and apply again. By this point you don't have to keep the hair straight.
Make sure all traces of the relaxer are gone before doing anything else. Some relaxer kits come with a colour indicator shampoo which I personally prefer as these let you know if the relaxer is still in your hair.
Protein step! As you've just broken your protein bonds by relaxing put it back to keep your hair strong.
MOISTURE MOISTURE MOISTURE. Use a moisturising deep conditioner after protein.
Test porosity. Relaxers dramatically lift the hair cuticle and porosity may have to be corrected.
Apply moisturiser/leave-in as normal and you're done!

Try to be gentle with your hair for the next week or so and monitor how well the relaxer process went. Another protein/moisturising treatment might be needed. Try to avoid heat as this could cause damage whilst your hair is in a weakened state.

By following these guidelines you should experience minimal breakage or damage.
Please don't use a relaxer before knowing how to apply it correctly and seek the advice of a professional. Relaxers are damaging, but it's the improper use of relaxers or not caring for your hair afterwards which can cause more problems.

Lesley x
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Post updated & reposted 10/02/14

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Joico Moisture Recovery Treatment Balm

Something that went on my product wish list long ago was this Joico Moisture Recovery Treatment Balm. I've read good reviews and at £14.95 for 500ml it's proving to be the perfect partner for my dry hair.

Specially designed for thick or coarse dry hair this conditioner promises to both attract and retain moisture. The formula, is enriched with Hydramine Sea Complex, Olive oil, Murumuru and Shea butter which also softens the hair. So far I agree with the claims. I've been leaving this conditioner on for less than my usual 30 minute deep condition and it's still left my hair super moisturised. There was a complete difference in my hair condition after a single use! The conditioner has worked so well for my hair that I don't have to moisturise & seal as often between washes which is a plus. It's very thick and creamy too so you don't need to use too much at a time. Despite it's thickness, I've not found the conditioner heavy or greasy but those with fine hair might have to use this sparingly. 

This conditioner contains keratin, which seems to be a buzz word in the beauty industry at the moment. I don't usually like using conditioners that contain a lot of protein on a regular basis as my hair seems to be sensitive to it. The Moisture Recovery however has worked well so I'm assuming the balance of protein and moisture is spot on. 

Overall this was a great buy for me and I'm happy I finally tried it!

Have you tried JOICO products? 

Lesley x
Twitter | Pinterest

Post updated & reposted 09/02/14

Skincare | DIY Citrus Body Scrub

I usually rely on scrubs to lighten up dark marks or uneven areas on my skin - particularly my knees, underarms and elbows. For me, exfoliation is a key part of brightening up the skin tone and it doesn't require any fancy gadgets or expensive beauty potions. All you need for a great exfoliating scrub is oil and some sugar.

I love using natural DIY recipes for my skin where possible and often I mix up whatever I have laying around. Lately I've been using a combination of citrus essential oils and dark brown sugar which only takes a minute to prepare. I like to use lemon and orange oil which are both great for lightening the skintone. They're both highly concentrated so I mix only a few drops with a carrier oil like Sweet Almond Oil.

The standard recipe I've been using is:
1 tablespoon of Sweet Almond Oil
1 tablespoon of Avocado Oil
5 drops of Orange Essential Oil
5 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
6 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

I mix this altogether in a bowl looking for a consistency that's not too oily or too dry. I prefer to use dark brown or brown sugar as it's a softer, moist sugar with fine grains which aren't too abrasive on the skin. If you choose to use white sugar, or even sea salt, just add more oil so it's not so rough. After it's all mixed together I store it in a container which I just keep in my bathroom to use when I shower until it runs out.

By using this scrub at 1-3 times a week, I've noticed a dramatic improvement in dark areas on my skin, especially my knees which have always been several shades darker than the rest of my skin.

Have you tried making your own body scrub?

Lesley x

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

5 reasons your hair is breaking

I get a lot of emails usually from women who can't figure out why their hair is breaking. In most cases it relates to an imbalance of protein and moisture within the hair can be quite tricky to address. However there are also other common ways hair breakage occurs and it's usually simple tweaks that can limit the damage.

1 Rough Styling
Plain and simple, if you detangle too roughly or force your hair into tight styles it's going to break. Breakage tends happen along the nape and crown as the hair here is more delicate. Vary the positions of your ponytails and buns as wearing it in the same place day in day out creates tension which weakens the hair. Be careful to detangle from ends to roots to prevent snagging or snapping the hair too. Wide tooth combs or your fingers will do the least amount of damage so I rely on these more than brushes. Also be careful not to manipulate your hair too much when it's wet - as this is when it's most fragile. I tend to leave my hair alone completely until it's about 80% dry.

2 Hair tools
Certain clips, combs and hair bands can break the hair. It's usually styling accessories which are made with metal - bobby pins, clips, headbands - as these all have sharp edges which can catch on the hair. It's up to you if you continue to use these (I personally still use bobby pins) but be careful to put them into the hair gently. If you want gentler alternatives, look for products made of soft fabrics like hair bands made of silk or satin or you could just put a bit of oil or leave-in conditioner over your usual accessories.

3 Chemical processing
Overprocessing the hair with relaxers, hair dyes or perms will weaken the hair making it more likely to break. It's hard to reverse damage from overprocessing but increasing deep conditioning sessions will help. To avoid breakage reduce the amount of chemicals you put on your hair and how often you use them. For example, if you relax your hair every 6 weeks, try to wait until 8 weeks instead.

4 Heat abuse
You love the perfect blowout, smoothed out style or bouncy curls delivered from a barrel tong but too much heat styling wreaks havoc with those tresses. It depletes both protein and moisture levels and often we don't replenish these with enough deep conditioning sessions. If you must use heat regularly also do the necessary conditioning and moisturising to keep your hair in tip top shape. Limit your heat usage to once per week or less and you'll notice less breakage.

5 Thinning ends
Thin ends are often very fragile so break easier than the rest of your hair. Unfortunately once your ends are thin you're kind of limited with how much thickness you can regain. This means that often you have to cut out the thinness. I know first hand that it can be hard to let go of thinning ends, but once you cut them off you'll notice an instant improvement in breakage.

Of course there are other ways that breakage can occur but these are the main ways I've noticed

How do you prevent breakage?

Lesley x

Monday, 3 February 2014

What is texlaxing? [Video]

'What is texlaxing?' is one of my most frequently asked questions so I thought it was about time I made a video for my YouTube channel. I also have a post on it here.

The Video:

Post updated & reposted 03/02/14
Lesley x

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Henna FAQ

Before using henna please read up on it first! Henna gets a bad rep a lot of the time because people slap it on without finding out what it actually does to your hair. It binds to the keratin within the strand so it has a strengthening/hardening effect as well as depositing colour. Natural-haired beauties may also see a loosening of their texture. Here's the most FAQ I get...

Q. Where do you buy your henna? 
A. I first used henna from Lush. I used the red version first (Caca Rouge) but you can also get it in brown and black, which are premixed with Indigo. All you have to do is break it up and add water so it's an easier option. Though I found that, even though the ingredients are natural, this didn't deposit much colour for me.
I then started using Yemeni henna which I purchase from Henna Boy and I'd recommend this company to anyone buying in the UK. If you're from the US try Mehandi. A lot of ladies opt for Jamila henna which is a finer sift (and easier to wash out). I prefer Yemeni henna as the colour result is a deeper burgundy red as opposed to orange/red. I've also tried Indian and Rajasthani henna.

Q. I want to dye my hair blonde, can I do this with henna?
A. Henna is a plant and the powder is always green. It will only dye hair red/orange in colour so it won't ever dye your hair blonde. Henna will never lighten or bleach hair. You can try lemon or chamomile tea for natural hair lightening, but if your hair is dark there isn't a natural way I know of to achieve blonde hair.

Q. I've seen henna that comes in colours? 
A. Any boxed dye that claims to be natural henna and comes in colours other than red is being falsely marketed as natural. The problem with these dyes is they can be quite damaging, especially if you have relaxed hair, because they contain metallic compounds - and some don't even say that on the box. To avoid any hair 'mares stick to Body Art Quality (BAQ) henna as this is safe to use. Natural henna is a green powder that turns red/orange when mixed with liquid.

Q. How do I dye my hair black with henna?
A. To do this you have to use henna and Indigo (sometimes confusingly known as "black henna"). The ratio is up to you but the more indigo you use the more blue/black the result will be. Indigo itself will never actually be black in colour, it's a greenish powder which turns blue when mixed with water. When used with natural henna you can get brown and black colours but this all depends on your natural colour. Blonde or grey haired beauties have more options when experimenting with henna as it's almost like you're starting with a blank canvas. It's strongly suggested you do a skin/strand test when using Indigo due to the confusing name. Some products labelled "black henna" may be indigo mixed with black dyes which can cause allergic reactions.

Q. I like your hair colour, if I use henna will mine look the same?
A. The result depends on your natural hair colour. Mine is naturally very dark, almost black, but it used to look dark brown in certain lighting. The only way you'll know how henna will work for you is if you do a strand test. Take some shed hairs from your comb, apply henna, wait a couple of hours, rinse and see if you like the result - that's exactly what I did before putting any henna near the hair on my head.

Q. I've heard that henna is hard to lift, is this true?
A. Once you choose to henna your hair there's no going back. It fades over time but the only way to completely get rid of it is to grow it out or strip it, which can be really damaging. If you don't think you'll like the colour after a few months don't use henna.

Q. I'm scared to use henna as I've heard it's really drying, how do you avoid dry hair?
A. I use lemon oil instead of juice mixed with camomile tea. I also like to add a few tablespoons of carrier oils like Sweet Almond, Olive and Grapeseed. This way the mixture is still acidic enough to get the dye release without being too drying. I also recommend doing a moisturising deep condition treatment after using henna to prevent dryness.

Q. I've heard henna is really bad for your hair, why do you use it?
A. It's not at all, it's totally natural and can even help with scalp problems such as dandruff. I use it mostly as a way to warm up my natural colour as I've always wanted red/brown hair. I never wanted to put chemical dye on my hair so henna has been a great alternative for me. I love the shine you get with henna too!

Q. Is it really messy?
A. It's so so messy. Henna will end up everywhere! In your ears, down your back, floors, walls... The best way to avoid the mess is to put plastic bags/newpaper/towels down and put the henna in an applicator bottle. If you keep the henna warm during application it's less likely to crumble and flake off everywhere. Remember to base your scalp with vaseline too, wear gloves and don't wear any nice clothes!

Q. How long do you have to leave henna on for? 
A. As with a lot of aspects of using henna it's totally up to you. If you want a strong colour leave it on for as long as possible - the most I've left it on is overnight and the results were amazing. Henna deepens with each application though so you can also leave it on for a short amount of time and do regular treatments.

Q. When do you use henna, before or after your relaxer?
A. Both depending on how I feel. I usually leave a couple of weeks clear before or after using a relaxer just to ensure that my henna doesn't affect my relaxer treatments and vice versa. I've never had any problems using henna on my relaxed hair.

Q. I like my hair colour and don't want to change it, can I still use henna?
A. Yes you can! Try Cassia powder, known as "neutral henna", for shiny smooth hair with no colour change.

Q. What happens if I have left overs after mixing? 
A. Freeze it and use it for a root touch ups whenever you fancy. I now mix mine all up in one go and separate into several bags to freeze. To thaw just leave the henna in a bowl of hot (but not boiling) water and it'll be ready to go in 10-15 minutes. It's a real time-saver!

Have a question about henna? Feel free to comment and I'll be happy to answer :)

UPDATED & reposted 01/02/14

Lesley x