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!

5.31.2011

Porosity and Relaxed Hair

I think I finally solved the mystery of my thinned ends, and it all leads back to porosity. Textured hair has a natural tendency to be porous and relaxed hair is even more porous because the relaxer process makes it that way by compromising the hair cuticle as it straightens. From NaturallyCurly.com "Porosity is the term used in the science of hair car to describe how easily water and other matter can diffuse back and forth through the cuticle layer and into or out of the cortex. Hair is much like a sponge, capable of absorbing water and other substances from the environment, and also susceptible to losing precious moisture and lipids to the environment."

For a long time I believed my hair was naturally dry, because it seemed no matter how much moisturizer I used, it would still "dry out" again relatively soon after. What I've realized is what I thought was regular dryness was actually hair with very high porosity. There are 3 different porosity levels, and I've learned that my hair falls into the most critical category.

5.25.2011

My Hair Grows SLOW.

Getting more than two inches cut off my ends naturally made me think of all the length I was losing in the process, all of the progress (albeit it wasn't all healthy progress) I made that was now laying on the beauty shop floor. And it also made me think about growth, as in how long would it take for me to grow that length back? Unfortunately it looks like its going to take a while. Going back to my hair pics for reference I determined my hair seems to grow much slower than the 1/2 inch per month average most people can expect. As a matter of fact it seems my hair only grows about 1/4 inches per month, maybe a little more (1/3) but not much. In July of 2010 I took the picture to the left, that's as close as I could find to the current length of my hair after "the hair cut". (the picture is just 1 week post relaxer, I currently have 10 weeks of un-relaxed new growth, so theoretically my hair is already longer than it was in this pic :-)

Based on this picture I think it took about10 months for me to grow the approximately 2.5 inches that I just had cut off (Even though I probably grew about 3.5 inches during that time because I've had 3 trims during relaxer touch-ups during that time span). Even if I go with the high number of 3.5 inches in 10 months, that still means I only grew .35 inches per month. I know hair growth cycles are pre-determined and I there isn't much I can do to make my hair grow faster. I take a multivitamin and try to eat healthy but ultimately I just need to be more vigilant about keeping my ends healthy so that I don't have to lose anymore than a trim's worth of the hair that I slowly grow!

5.17.2011

The Saga Continues: Solving the Mystery of My Thin Relaxed Ends (part 3)

After "the hair cut" I realized maybe I had a to accept a little more blame for the state of my thin ends than I wanted to admit. I started to think back to and look at some of my past length check photos and I noticed something very important in those photos, my ends were not thin, at least not thin enough to require a cut. And its hard to imagine that my ends could have naturally eroded so much in such a short amount of time, even if they were battered by my pre-hair journey abuse.

The pic on the left is my hair in Jan 2011, the pic on the right is just the other day (May 2011). Its clear that my ends look fine in the first pic. So what the heck happened in those 4 months that led me to "the hair cut"?

My ends may have been a little thin at the start of the year, but they were holding on. I can only assume that I was experiencing more breakage than I realized this past winter and my pre-hair journey ends bore the brunt of the damage. So I think I have to call this a "pre-hair journey needed cut and combination set-back", because there had to be something I was or wasn't doing that contributed to the rapid demise of my ends. And I intend to figure out exactly what that something was.

5.12.2011

Update: Solving the Mystery of My Thin Relaxed Ends

Well I did it. Or more precisely my stylist did it, cut a little more than 2 inches from my ends. But she wasn't happy about it. My stylist is the complete opposite of scissor-happy, she hates to cut hair especially if its long. So I had to beg and plead with her to cut as much as she did. I know I could have taken the ends off in stages, a half inch at a time. But I'd rather just rip the band-aid off quickly and get it over with. So that's what we did, and I'm happy with the end result. My ends look and feel a ton better, and even though she didn't want to cut it, my stylist agreed it was needed. But I know I'll have to be careful going forward so I don't end up needing such a drastic cut again. There is still a little more that needs to come off, so I probably won't gain any length from my new growth a my next relaxer touch-up in about 4 weeks. But after that I'll be totally weak-end free and I will be sure to keep up with regular dusting to stay out of the weak-end zone.

Before the cut I was grazing APL, but with those ends, it wasn't anything to be proud of.
After the cut I'm just past shoulder length, but my ends look full and healthy.

My hair from the floor, its gone bye-bye now.

5.09.2011

Well Duh! Solving the Mystery of My Thin Relaxed Ends

Last Thursday I flat ironed my hair again to wear it out for a concert I went to on Friday. And just like the last time I flat ironed, I was startled by the contrast in the thickness (or lack thereof) in the last 2 to 3 inches of my hair. I again felt like I needed an inevitable semi-big chop and I was a still a little depressed by it. However, after thinking about it a little more rationally I came to terms with needing more than just a little trim, I just couldn't decide exactly how much. But what troubled me more than needing a cut was why my ends seemed to be so thin in the first place. I felt like all my hard work over the past nearly two years had been in vain, the one thing I've been working so hard to preserve, my length, is about to be on the floor. But after a quick internet search today, it all makes sense now. My ends are thin not because I haven't been doing the right things, but because I have. Doesn't seem to make sense does it? Let me explain.

When I got serious about my hair journey my relaxer process changed dramatically. Not only was I stretching my relaxer touch-ups further apart than I ever had. I also asked my stylist to slightly under-process my relaxer giving me more of a light tex-lax, than a bone straight look. Over time this change caused my hair to become much thicker and more full, my new growth was able to benefit and flourish because of my healthy hair journey. The ends of my hair though, the oldest relaxed part, did not start off with benefits of my healthy hair efforts, but instead suffered through being relaxed bone straight, exposed to plenty of relaxer run-off and weekly flat ironing. I know that hair ends naturally taper as they get older, the older they are the more protective hair cuticle has chipped off over time, leaving the strand thinner and thinner. But it didn't click until today that in addition to natural tapering over time, my old bad ways also battered my ends more than the rest of my hair. I think this is also an underlying cause of breakage I've been experiencing at my ends over the last few months. As my ends have tapered and weakened over time they just haven't been able to hold on, and I don't think a protein treatment exists that can repair them. And I'm okay with that.

Knowing that I didn't directly do anything (within my HHJ) to cause my thin ends makes me feel much better about a) cutting them off and b) being reassured that my "new" ends after the cut will remain healthy because of my healthy hair practices. I said all that to say I have an appointment with my stylist for a serious trim/borderline hair cut this afternoon. Not sure how much we'll cut yet, but I think I can mentally handle the 2-3 inches I freaked out about  a few weeks ago if she thinks its necessary. I'll have my camera on hand for the before and after.
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