Welcome to Relaxed Redefined ~ a better, healthier way to care for chemically relaxed hair. This is a personal hair journal created to share easy, do-at-home tips and techniques that have made my hair stronger and longer. I hope you'll learn something here that will enhance your healthy hair journey or better yet insprire you to start one. Happy Hair Growting!


Hair Repair Mission, Part 2

Over the weekend I completed the first step of my hair repair mission: an ends trim and thorough deep-conditioning session followed by a no-heat style (a bun). Now, I'm on to the the next phase of my assignment. This part of the mission required a little recognisance on my part, meaning a trip to a local Indian grocery store to acquire my target, 100% pure body art quality henna. I've been wanting to henna my hair for a long time after reading about the many benefits it can provide to relaxed and natural hair alike. Benefits such as increased strength, thickness and shine, and even a loosened natural curl pattern along with the beautiful red/auburn color it leaves behind.

Henna is an all natural powder made from ground leaves of the henna plant which grows in India, Northern Africa and the Middle East and has been used for centuries by women for body adornment, including hair color. Unlike traditional hair permanent dye which uses strong chemicals to lift the hair culticle to deposit color, the red color molecules in henna called Lawsone are attracted the protein (keratin) naturally found in hair strands and adhere to the protein leaving a permanent coating of red on each strand. With repeated use strands coated with henna become thicker and stronger and  the compounded weight of multiple henna uses can cause the natural curl pattern of new growth to loosen.

My first interest in henna was based solely on using a natural hair color to cover the many gray hairs I have, but don't want. Before I started my hair journey I colored my hair a few times and did my own highlights as well, but of course back then I was using traditional permanent hair color which was a double-processing nightmare. Learning about the additional benefits that henna provides made me even more excited to give it a try. I've done a lot of research and I have a good idea about the do's and don'ts but I won't know exactly how I feel about henna until I use it for myself and that's exactly what I intend to do. On to phase 3 of my mission!


Rebel WITH a Flat Iron

For reasons that have very little to do with my hair, and are too complicated to write about on a hair blog, I decided to be a rebel this week and flat iron my hair for the second time this month. And as most rebels do, I've learned the hard way, there is a price to pay for the rebellion. The only good thing to come out of my poorly thought-out decision is the conclusion that trimming my ends sooner rather than later is absolutely necessary. Prior to this week I thought I could wait until my next relaxer touch up, but now that I've "gone there" I know a trim can't be put off another 6 to 8 weeks (I actually have no idea when my next touch-up will be, I was planning to stretch for while this time). And the lessons don't stop with the hair scissors. I've also learned that after 18 months of a low-heat regimen, my hair has become very intolerant to direct heat, it just can't take it any more. However, I can't blame all of the problems that I unwittingly discovered this week on my flat iron alone, most of the issues have been building for a while and I just didn't or didn't want to notice them.
Dryness, which is a constant battle for my hair especially during winter, has been exacerbated by less frequent washing over the past few weeks and was sent over the top with double rounds of flat ironing. Another long-standing problem is finding a protein conditioner that is strong enough to strengthen my hair without sending it directly to brittle-ville. I guess I convinced myself that being so far into my hair journey my moisture-protein balance was under control enough and I could now do whatever I wanted to my hair with little to no consequence--WRONG. In the 3 days since I flat ironed I have experienced more breakage and dryness than I have in a very long time--I actually feel like I'm in my pre-hair journey days when long strands of breakage were a regular occurrence, but now I know better. And as they say, when you know better-- you do better, or at least you should.

For most healthy hair folks in my current situation a wash and deep condition would be on the agenda ASAP. And while I do have a very important appointment with a few deep conditioners, I have get my ends trimmed first, something I don't really like to do myself (scissors can be scary). And I also want to formalize my plan of action before I act, which will require a trip to the beauty supply and health food store. I know this repair mission will be a multi-step process, beginning on Sunday with a pre-poo, clarifying wash, protein treatment and the most moisturizing deep conditioner I can get my hands on or concoct. My intention is to find a keratin based protein conditioner for this needed treatment because I know how important keratin replenishment is for healthy hair, and I hope this new product (yet to be discovered) will be a part of my new protein strategy to get the results I need without the unwanted side effect of brittleness. I also plan to mix coconut oil into my moisturizing deep conditioner, which will most likely be Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose and whatever else I think might help. My hair doesn't usually respond well to coconut oil when its dry, but I've learned things that don't work well on my dry hair have a totally different effect on my wet hair. The final step in phase one of this repair mission will be to go back to no-heat, low manipulation styles for the foreseeable future--meaning until the grass turns green again. After that I'll begin working on phase 2 of my mission which will be to acquire and prepare for my first henna treatment (more to come on that!--I'm really going to do it!) I've learn a few hard lessons this week and now I have to get back to giving my hair the TLC it needs instead of being a rebel and losing all the progress I've made so far.


RR Quick Tip: Don't Pile, Smooth

She's doing it WRONG!
When shampooing, hair should not be piled up on top of the head and scrubbed like an old towel on a wash board. We do not live in shampoo commercials and we don't have a team of professionals on standby to provide instant remedy when we pretend like we do. The shampooing process can be very rough on hair especially when using sulfate shampoos. Rather than causing extra tangles and roughing the hair cuticle even more than the harsh cleansers already do, keep hair ends downward and gently smooth shampoo on the length of the hair in a downward motion. If extra cleansing is needed gently rub hair between palms, unless you've been mud wrestling that's all the "scrubbing" hair should need.


New Style-Bantu Knot Out

A Double Post Day! :)

Please ignore my scalpy non-part, I didn't really notice that in the bathroom mirror this morning,
but I was going for a messy look anyway hehe!
Last night was wash night, due to battling a sinus infection last week, I've only been shampooing every 7 days, but my hair and scalp haven't revolted yet, so I'm going to go with it for a while and see what happens. Anyway in an effort to get away from my same old hair styles (buns and braid-outs) I was inspired by 6-Foot-Long-Hair (http://6footlonghair.blogspot.com/) to try a bantu knot out. I started on hair that was 80% air dried and twisted up 6 knots, I had to put the front two really high on my head so I could sleep (I can't sleep if something is keeping my head from touching the pillow so no overnight rollersets for me) so the front knots looked like little horns, LOL. (God bless my poor husband who has seen me going to bed looking pretty crazy sometimes over the past year, love him!). When I took them down this morning the front 2 knots failed, but the back ones came out pretty good, so I pulled together this half up, half down style to preserve most of my efforts and make it presentable for work. This is the second time I've tried this style and I didn't get the front ones right the first time either, but I'm going to keep trying because I like the look and its a healthy heat free way to get nice curls. Practice makes perfect.

Relaxer Recap, Part 3

I got my final relaxer touch up of 2010 on December 18, and it went pretty well. I experienced some minor irritation but it was tolerable compared to past experiences. For Christmas I gifted my stylist with a set of  Sprushes, relaxer applicator brushes that have sponge tips rather than brush tips. The Sprush (pictured above) provides a more precise application without the poking brush bristles of a traditional applicator. I was the guinea pig for my own gift which had a bit of a learning curve and caused the relaxer application to move a little slower than normal but the longer application time made my processing time non-existent so the relaxer was stillon and off quickly. I added my Joico K-Pak Chelating shampoo to the plethora of products I bring along for my appointments for the final shampoo after neutralizing, this helps to remove any residual calcium left behind by the calcium-hydroxide in the relaxer, this helps prevent the porous hair that is usually associated with no-lye relaxers. I've done this for my last 2 touch-ups and I've really noticed the difference. I went with my regular roller wrap style and had about 1/8" trimmed from my ends. I had a lot of new growth in the front of my hair during this last stretch, so much that the V my hair had started to grow into during my previous stretch has virtually disappeared now (pics to soon to come). I still have about 1 inch to go before I'm full arm-pit length, I thought I would be there by now but I was happy to see some progress rather than none.

Over all I'm satisfied with my hair growth journey in 2010, I had 4 successful relaxer stretches and I gained 5 inches of length over the course of the year. I have plenty to work on and improve for 2011, especially if I want to reach bra-strap length by the 2 year mark (July)--about 3 inches in less than six months is a tall order, but I'm going to keep going and see where this road takes me, only time will tell.



Happy New Year! I haven't been around for a little while, but I am working on new posts for the new year. I'll be right back with more!
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