Hair Q & A: Still Dry After 2-year Transition and BC

Q. I ran across your blog recently, and your hair is gorgeous!  I started transitioning November 2009 and finally BC ‘d January 2011.  My Hair is extremely dry and I don’t know how to fix it!  I’ve tried so many deep conditioners but it feels brittle once it dries, and the frizz is crazy extreme!  I think I have a mix of texture ranging from 3c-4a maybe 4b?  I really don’t know.  If there are any tips you could give me to help my hair, please let me know!  Thanks in advance, Elle

A. Hi Elle,

Not knowing what your routine or product use is, I can’t be specific.  But if you have been transitioning and working with your natural hair for 2 years and it’s still dry, I suspect the products you use may have drying or building up ingredients.   Here are some general tips: Continue reading


Hair Q&A: Maintaining Gray Hair

Q.  Hi SBB: Do you use any particular products for your grey hair? I am salt/pepper with more salt than pepper and wonder if I should use any products designed specifically for grey hair. I use KC Come Clean Shampoo & Knot Today leave-in, the Aubrey line, and natural oils and butters. My hair is in pretty good condition, but I’m always looking for ways to improve. Thanks much. – Zatubi

A. Hi Zatubi.   The Kinky Curly, Aubrey products, and oils/butters — all good for your hair.  Kudos on your choice of healthy products. Gray strands may grow in coarser and be more dry than the rest of your hair. They may have a different curl or texture pattern.  And those gray hairs may get a yellow tinge.   The yellow tinge can be neutralized with periodic use of a conditioner or leave in made for blondes or gray haired women.

For dryness, use a butter or oil over your styler or leave in, and/or over your rinse out conditioner before rinsing out with cool water. Cool water helps seal the cuticle, enhance texture and minimize the frizz.  For my wash and go, I layer products: conditioner then oil or butter, then rinse out.  Leave-in conditioner (or styler), more oil or butter on ends, then gel.  This is a very protective routine for loose styles.

And speaking of protection, my hair never hits my silk pillowcase without being tied loosely in a scrunci and protected by a scarf at the hairline. Each day I wear that same wash and go without re-wetting, I keep the hair soft with moisturizing products like Devacurl Set it Free and Qhemet Biologics Burdock Root Butter Cream.  To soften up dry ends I use Qhemet Olive & Honey Hydrating Balm mixed with Loma Imply Molding Creme (more like a lotion).

To soften hair that’s 3 or more days from water, especially if I intend to put it into large twists or bantu knots, water spritz hair very lightly,  smooth in a little Karen’s Body Beautiful Ambrosia (unscented), Afro Detangler or similar water based moisturizer, then rub a few drops of Loma Pearatin Fortifying Repairative Serum into ends.  What I lose in curl definition, I gain with soft, manageable, detangled hair that I can actually brush before twisting into bantu knots.

To neutralize any yellow and brighten my natural silver/gray, I occasionally use Roux Fancifull Temporary Color Leave in Rinse in White Minx. L’Oreal makes a moisturizing conditioner that neutralizes yellow tones – L’Oreal Colorist Collection White Violet conditioner. I just purchased this  and will do a review when I use it; it has very nice ingredients.  I don’t recommend a neutralizing shampoo because most contain moisture-leeching sulfates.

To add shine on dry hair and smooth surface frizz, Aquage Illuminating Gellade or Devacurl Set Up and Above does the trick.  Jojoba oil is also nice to induce shine.

Happy New Year!

Comment Hi SBB: Do you use any particular products for your grey hair? I am salt/pepper with more salt than pepper and wonder if I should use any products designed specificallly for grey hair. I use KC Come Clean Shampoo & Knot Today leave-in, the Aubrey line, and natural oils and butters. My hair is in pretty good condition, but I’m always looking for ways to improve. Thanks much.

Hair Q&A – Protein Overload?

Q. Hey Suburbanbushbabe!!!!

I’ve been following your progress for quite some time now and I always enjoy the tips/information you give!!!  You share a lot of helpful info and with that, I have an issue that you may be able to help out with.   I tried the Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment out and I probably found out the hard way that my hair is sensitive to protein that strong. Good news is that my shedding has slowed down …I never had much of a problem with breakage, mainly shedding. My only problem is that now my hair feels like a brillo pad! My hair is SO dry 😦 I’ve washed it several times, done several deep conditioning treatments–even did one for a few hours. I REALLY need some help…what do you suggest I do/use to get my soft hair back?

– 1NappyNewbie

Hair feeling crispy as a cracker? Could be too much protein.

A. Hi 1NappyNewbie,

Great question.  I bet with the colder climate in many regions, lots of curly vixens are doing protein treatments right about now and wondering WTF happened to their hair? How proteins in products affects the hair can vary with a number of factors including porosity and whether the hair is fine, medium or coarse/thick in diameter.

Although I’ve never used Aphogee, I can relate to the protein overload. I was using Nexxus Emergencee alternated with Sebastian Penetraitt about once every 5-6 weeks. When my hair started feeling crispy, dry and looking grizzly at the crown, I was convinced I was protein sensitive and could never use proteins again. I stopped using proteins in products for almost a year, which meant giving up some of my favorite conditioners.  What I discovered was that–

  1. Some proteins (like keratin) can quickly overload on my fine, porous hair  — and most of those protein specific treatments contain keratin Continue reading

My Long Hair Don’t Care Interview

It was fun to do.  Here’s the link

What is Up With Those Darn Grays!

Kinise contacted me about her desire for a gray look and how hard it is to control her gray hairs:

Q. I have such a challenge with my hair. I have had white hair since high school– just a few streaks at  first. Now the entire front is white with about 10 strands of black in the center front- oh- I guess I now have a black streak in the front.  Now it’s sooooooo unruly- resistant to perm- resistant to color–
when I use curling irons or flat irons it turns yellow- when I shampoo with the purple shampoo, my hair turns purple or lavender.
I dyed the back of my hair black–blue black-
and now I am just not sure what I am going to do-
I wear a wig- my natural hair is arm pit length braided- It’s layered- and half relaxed- half natural-
that’s my story-but your hair is beautiful-
I was just about to color it all black-
I am 47 now, over half my life I have had white hair for more than 30 years- and I think I look younger with my hair colored- of course-
but you look fabulous–
I know I am just rambling now- but I have never seen a woman with hair like yours- funky and yet sophisticated at the same time–
So I guess I will hang on for a while longer and leave the color and chemical alone.

Thank You for your inspiration.

A.   Kinise, if you truly want that look — THEN GO AFTER IT! Give your soul and spirit what they thirst for.

Gray hair is indeed resistant. Mine was more wiry and it was grizzled/crispy in some places, but no more.  It responds very well to frequent conditioning; in fact it drinks it up. It loves butters and aloe vera too.

I don’t think gray hair likes heat, which is why the curling iron is yellowing it. And I don’t use the blue/purple shampoo because I co-wash mostly. Too much shampooing dries the hair out. I do use Roux Fanci-Full  Temporary  Color Rinse in White Minx, every so often. It’s a leave in more than a mousse. I plan to switch to a red-gold corrector from Sally’s added to my usual conditioner. Gray curlies over at have been having success with that and it seems easier.

If your hair is half-relaxed, half-natural and you want to fully transition to natural, do that first. I was fully natural from 2006. Then rather suddenly, I decided to let the gray grow out in 2008 after seeing the Going Gray Looking Great Blog. The gray transition was hard, I won’t lie; but there are ways to get through it. You can see photos of my transition on my Fotki

Thanks for reaching out.

Q&A – Natural and long, but too thin!

 Dora writes:

Q.  I am completely natural and have been for about 7 years now. I have bra length, fine soft hair. My hair does not like to be twisted. When I did wear twists, I did not like them because you could see my scalp. When I wear a ponytail I have to make sure I brush my hair a certain way, so that my scalp won’t show. Is there anything that I can use or do to thicken my hair up. I henna once a month or every 3 weeks and sometimes it depends on how fast the grays decide to show up. I thought by being natural my hair would become thicker on its own.

A.  As a natural for 7 years, your hair has gone through all the phases of growth, probably several times. Let’s just review:

Anagen – active growth – new hair is pushing out the old fiber and the follicle is growing deep for nourishment
Catagen – the transitional phase. Hair detaches from the blood supply and the hair follicle shrinks
Telogen – Resting. Hair fibre easily pulls out
And there is one more phase, mesanagen — a returning to growth.

A full cycle can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years per follicle. And sometimes hair or patches of hair can get stuck in the resting, or telogen phase.

Everything you put into your body eventually comes out in your hair, usually within three to six months. . Hair grows from living follicles in the skin of the scalp. At the shaft, or root of the hair, all of your major systems are at work, including your circulatory, endocrine and central nervous system.

Other factors for thin hair and ways to improve hair health:

Age – as women age our hormone levels decrease, and hormone levels affect almost every part of the body, including hair. My hair became thin during perimenopause and menopause when my hormonal levels hit the floor. I have been on prescribed bio-identical hormones (that don’t affect the liver) and this has helped hair, memory, alertness, sexual desire, and more.

Dry hair – Dry hair is simply dehydrated hair. Investing in more moisture in your hair and scalp is also a good way to stimulate growth and enhance the health of your existing strands. This is easy to correct both internally and externally. Check your water intake to make sure you are getting enough, a good guideline is 1 oz for half of your body weight. Example — a women weighing 150 lbs drinks 75 oz of water. That’s a lot more than the standard 8 glasses of day. Also water and condition your hair more frequently. If you shampoo every time you cleanse, try cleansing your hair with conditioner and shampoo less often. Get a good leave in conditioner and a natural butter or butter product. Both help lock in moisture. 

Illness – Illness unbalances the body. If you are recovering from even a cold or the flu, make sure your food intake is really nutritious, take a vitamin supplement and a probiotic.

Genetics – Sometimes we have to thank our ancestors for that thin hair. If you have siblings with thick hair and yours is thin, there may be other factors at work. I’ve observed that overweight can also result in thinning hair.  It’s as if the body is taking nourishment from areas it considers non-critical, like hair, to maintain the body..

Medications – Just like illness, the medications we take to bring us back to health and relieve symptoms can also unbalance our bodies. Not just hair but good bacterial in the digestive system gets kill by may antibiotics.  A daily probiotic goes is effective to help your digestive tract get back in balance.

Diet – Nutritional deficiencies affect hair, especially Iron, Vitamin A and vitamin D, water, fruits and veggies, protein. Eat well!

Exercise – Heat up your body daily to increase your metabolism. Increase blood flow to the scalp with exercise, scalp massage, inverted yoga poses.

Stress –  Sometimes this alone can help the hair’s condition.  Get enough sleep! Examine your emotional health and how you express and process emotions. Healthy expression of anger and other “uncomfortable” emotions goes a long way to restoring emotional balance and relieving stress.

Chemical sensitivities – In general, as Black women who have straightened their hair most of their life, we tend to have a lower awareness of the effect of the chemicals we use. How else could we have used sodium hydroxide and high heat for years and years and smothered our fragile locks with mineral oil laden products?  Get in the habit of examining ingredients.  Check out cosmetic databases for toxicity levels of products. Use natural carrier oils, and non-volatile, non-irritating essential oils.

Styling – No matter how well we treat ourselves, some hair can be thin all around, especially the fine soft stuff like yours.  My fine strands tends to thinness as well, and for that reason I do not twist my hair from wet because it does tend to emphasize my scalp rather than my hair. Instead, I wear a wash and go for a few days, then dry twist right over that. I will section my hair with my fingers and dry twist – about 11-14 twists.  I water spritz just a little to soften, not even dampen the hair, and use a little product.  In the morning I untwist and divide each twist.  Both the wash and go and large dry twist outs maximize my volume. I get comments in my Fotki about how much hair I have, and I just snicker ’cause I know the truth.

If your hair is thin in certain places and not others, brushing it back and pulling it into a ponytail may not be the best thing for it. That may be part of why it’s thinning.  The strain from this can thin it out in some places, and that is called traction alopecia.

Coloring with Henna – you’re using Body art quality Henna, right? If you are not please switch to it.  Many products marketed as “henna” contain harmful chemicals.  Body art quality henna is pure henna and is said to strengthen the hair as well as impart natural color.

– Many naturals swear by ayurvedic herbs. I don’t know much about them, but I’m a firm fan of neem, a plant that’s extremely high in anti-oxidants. Other herbs and substances said to decrease hair loss and/or enhance growth: algae extract, ginkgo biloba, green tea (camellia sinensis), nettle, garlic, hemp seed, wheat germ, burdock root, rosemary, horsetail, and aloe are some.

Oils and butters: Many women cannot say enough about natural oils such as castor, jojoba, coconut, extra virgin olive oil, baobab oil.  An oil rinse after cleansing and before conditioning gives you an instant hydration boost.  Just make sure to rinse it all out and thoroughly condition after, or you may be a greasy mess all day.  Shea, avocado and other butters are wonderful for helping hair retain moisture.

Congratulations on your bra length natural tresses and I hope the next 7 years enhance your crowning glory.

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