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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quen's Natural Hair Journey (HerStory)



My  name is Chaquenta Smith and I am a curly girl! I have been a curly girl for 3 years and I am excited about the future of my journey! My journey began when I was diagnosed with Seborrheic Dermatitis in fall of 2010. Seborrheic dermatitis, or cradle cap, is a common, inflammatory skin condition that causes flaky, white to yellowish scales to form on oily areas such as the scalp, face or inside the ear. The original plan was to start dreadlocks but I decided on the big chop (Dec. 22, 2010). It was cut in a short afro with tapered ends. It was the scariest thing I had ever done! I looked in the mirror thinking, O MY GOD YOU DID IT!! For the first time in my life, I did not have anything to hide behind. No long flowing hair to! It was 100 and 10 percent, Chaquenta! I must say this has been a journey of self-discovery unlike any other. I learned to love the person I see in the mirror flaws and all. I know it sounds clich√© but I really had a serious life change that has truly been amazing.

Here are some things I have learned along this journey:
Detangling is a MUST: My hair, infamously known as Quendolynn, has a mind of its own. I remember as a child it would take my mother 3 hours to wash, detangle, and style my hair (Lord Love her). I never understood why until now! My hair is very soft and ultra-curly. My curl pattern is very, very curly much like a zig zag. So I try to use products that are moisture intensive and water based. I learned that I have to use water based detangle products because gel will cause serious trouble for me (epic fail). I learned to detangle more often rather than wait an extended period before I detangle. I have serious issues with SSK or Single Strand Knots so I have to dedicate time to detangling once a week or every week and a half. I am in love with Coconut Oil! It is my staple product!! It makes my knots just melt and it is amazing! Plus, it makes my hair have a shine that is to live for! I use Beautiful Textures Detangling Leave in Conditioner regularly. It does a great job at making my detangling session much more effective. When my hair first started to grow, it would take me 2 hours to detangle and that was just too much. During detangling, I have tools that I use such as the Ouida Double Detangling Comb (amazing), Denman brush, Large natural comb, and of course my fingers. Finger detangling gave amazing results but it is very time consuming! Regardless of the tools, my use of the leave in conditioner with the coconut oil has worked wonders for me!

Water is my best friend:  I use several different variations of water to help cleanse, hydrate, and nourish my hair. I use Glycerin Water, Conditioning Mist, Vinegar Spritz, and Pure Water. The glycerin water is a mixture of water and essential oil. It is typically jojoba or coconut oil to help with moisture and frizz. I use it as a daily supplement for wash and go styles or as a curl refresher. The conditioning mist is a mixture of Tresemme Naturals Conditioner and water. I use that typically during styling and refreshing my curls on week long styles. My vinegar rinse is made from part water and red wine vinegar. This mixture is used to cleanse my scalp, especially with my dermatitis, after a prolonged styling period. It helps to keep my scalp from having a “spell” from not having a proper washing session. It also removes product build up and dandruff. Not only does water benefit you in styling and cleanings but drinking water is beneficial to hair growth and its supple appearance. So I make sure to drink water on a daily basis!   

Oil is EVERYTHING: I have ventured off into oils more. They make a huge difference in the appearance of your hair, longevity of styles, and the overall health of your hair. All have different benefits for your hair. I use several different ones. I use coconut oil, grape seed oil, macadamia nut oil, jojoba oil, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower seed oil, Herbal Essence Triple Nutrition Oil and even the Africa’s Best Herbal Oil with all the different ones mixed together. These are my staple products as well.

Being a “Henna Head” ROCKS:  Henna is a permanent all natural dye. It is great to help your hair to retain moisture and it provides a slight reddish hue that is only visible in certain lighting, especially sunlight.I usually do Henna Glosses but I have done the full process before. Both gave great results. The process of mixing, applying and rinsing is not as glamorous (hence the smell and possibility of accidently dying something) but it is worth it. I have purchased from Indian food stores and even LUSH.

Food for the hair = growth: My mom gives me a hard time because I use food in my hair a lot. I have come to realize that food is the best protein. I have used honey, red wine vinegar, green tea, cinnamon, beer, mayonnaise, fat free yogurt, and even avocado in my hair. They are awesome for pre-poo treatments, rinses, deep conditioners, and henna treatments. I use resources to find recipes to help keep my hair healthy and looking great! It is always fun to see the results.

Be Creative and have fun: I have learned that no one can do my hair better than I can. I am the best and most affordable stylist I know! When I first started, I was doing pretty much the same thing. I was BORED!! I thought there has to be something more than this. So I began using YouTube, Curly Nikki’s Forum, Thank God I am Natural (Thanks to my bestie, Larissa) and before long I was learning and growing in my styling techniques. I have tried braid-outs, twist outs, Bantu knots, Bantu loops, banding methods, two strand flat twist, threading method, curl-formers, twist and curls, curly fros, curl defining styles, ribboning, roller sets, and even finger curls. I have also tried box braids! My two favorite are the curly fros and the Curlformers.  Both make my curls look amazing! I love big hair and both achieve that perfectly for me!  The beauty of styling is that each time I try a style, something new is learned. It teaches me what works for my hair and what does not. It is always an adventure and I love that!

Maintenance, tools, and upkeep: I have learned the importance of investing in my hair. I have started to see that using a hair bonnet helps to ensure my hair is dry plus helps me retain moisture. I have a portable bonnet that I can put on any hand dryer to dry my hair. I usually put my dryer on a cool setting with ions on for 1-2 hours to allow my hair time to dry. It has helped with frizz and ensuring my hair is really dry or at least close before I sleep on my style.
Pros/Cons: Pros: I love the fact that even if my hair does not turn out the way I envisioned it, I can still look as fierce as I want. It is not about the style, it is how you wear it!  I don’t stress about my hair like I used to and this is liberating. Lastly, I love how I am able to empower others through my courage to go on this journey. I love that and I am always eager to share my story.   


My Hair Regime: (note: I change products according to seasons to maintain/retain moisture)
Full Process
Day 1
Pre-poo Treatment
Apply Pre-poo (avocado (if on hand), coconut oil, grape seed oil, non-fat yogurt and honey) and cover with plastic cap. This mixture will stay on hair overnight. This process protects hair follicles during the cleansing process.
Day 2:
Cleanse
Wash with sulfate free Shampoo (Beautiful Textures Moisturizing Shampoo or Herbal Essences Triple Nutrition Shampoo)
Wash with Conditioner (Suave Professionals Coconut and Shea Butter or Herbal Essences Triple Nutrition Conditioner); rinse thoroughly then Cold water rinse.
Apply Deep Conditioner (Shea Moisture Deep Conditioning Masque) and cover with plastic cap and let set for 45 min-1hour
                Rinse thoroughly and cold water rinse
Detangle
                Apply Coconut Oil
                Apply Beautiful Textures Leave-in Conditioner
                Starting from tip gently detangle to root with double detangle comb
                Once completely detangle, swipe through once gently with Denman brush
                Twist and repeat
Once completely twisted, wrap twist in old t-shirt for 1 hour to allow drying.
Style
Style on damp hair (note: prevents long drying time)
Once styled, sit under bonnet on cool setting for 30 minutes to allow style to set.
Next morning using any essential oil (usually coconut) gently take down, separate, and fluff!
This happens once or twice a month
Co-Wash Process
                Use a conditioner to cleanse; rinse then cold water rinse
                Detangle same as above
                Let hair dry in old t-shirt
                Style on damp hair
                Let dry on cool setting for 30 min

                Take down, separate and fluff using essential oil

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