Thursday, April 2, 2009

Back to the basics

Breakage....ugh. I started seeing shorter pieces of hair while co-washing and was like "What's up with that?" Was it just shorter hair shedding. Nope it was "BREAKAGE!" Oh snap...what have I done to my hair to start this?

So, I didn't panic. Didn't jump into starting some miracle treatment to stop the breakage.

I took a deep breadth and started to review what I'd been doing over the past few months that may be the cause (I really don't know when the breakage started) I made a list...for real y'all...I made a list of products, washing methods, any manipulations I was doing, etc.

I guess I should interject here that I am a troubleshooter by nature. My IT career surrounds troubleshooting as well. Even in my arts and crafts creations, when something doesn't go quite as troubleshooting instincts kick in.

Anyway, this is what my list looked like
Conditioners for co-washes:
Suave Humectant (frequently used)
Suave Healthy Curls (moderately used)
Suave Naturals Tropical coconut (frequently used)
Herbal Essence Hello Hydration (frequently used)
Herbal Essence Totally Twisted (frequently used)
Aussie Moist (moderately used)
Organix Coconut Milk (rarely used)
Organix Mocha Express (rarely used)
Giovanni 50/50 (moderately used)**
Yes to Cucumbers (rarely used) (new player on the block)**
Trader Joe's Nourish Spa (new player on the block)**
Pantene Curls (frequently used)

Conditioners for deep conditioning:
Caramel Treatment (rarely used)
Aubrey Organics (moderately used) (new player on the block)**
Yes to Carrots Hair Mask (rarely used) (new player on the block)**
Homemade Shea butter mix with Lustrasilk Shea Butter Cholesterol Plus

Giovanni 50/50
Trader Joe's Nourish Spa *
Liquid Castille soap mixed with Suave tropical coconut *

Bentonite Clay *
Ayurvedic Tea (Aritha, Alma and Shikakai) (rarely used)

Kinky Curly Custard (moderately used)
Knot Today (moderately used)

Homemade shea butter treatment (moderately used)
Homeade leave in (frequently used)
Shea's Curly Pudding (homemade product)(Frequently used)**

Henna treatments (monthly) *

Manipulations etc:
Shower detangling
nightly twisting *
HIF disease....not as bad as it used to be, but it's still there
Washing hair loose
Sleeping with hair loose

Previously chemically dyed hair....however the breakage is much further down the shaft the dyed ends. (Note: no split ends either, so that doesn't seem to be a factor)

(Frequently = more than 3 times a week)
(Moderately = 1 to 3 times a week)
(Rarely = less than once a week, usually once every two weeks or even less than that)

The '*' and '**' items are the first ones I started with since they were pretty new to my routines.

These were on the top of my list to address first.
1. Protein conditioners
2. Nightly twisiting
3. Henna treatments

1. I decided to reduce the number of conditions with protein products for the time being. I stopped using the Organix, Giovanni, Trader Joe's, Yes to Cucumbers and Tomatoes and the Aubrey's Organics.

2. To avoid those single strand knots that plague tightly coiled hair, I decided to do large twists at night to reduced the amount of knotting. This is far more manipulation than I've done since going natural.

3. Henna treatments. Since it's a protein itself, I'm already treading a thing line of having a protein overload. I'd been doing these monthly with no adverse affects. However one month I hennaed and then did a bentonite clay treatment 2 or 3 weeks later.

My breakage has stopped. I am not sure of the exact cause, however I am leaning towards doing that henna and bentonite clay treatment so close together plus the over use of protein heavy conditioners.

I will slowly re-introduce those things I eliminated. Actually, I don't expect the breakage to re-occur. But if it does, hopefully I will be able to better pinpoint what went wrong.

My point in posting this long blog entry. Well it is documentation for myself, but to also let folks know that when you have a hair crisis....don't jump in and start adding other products in that may make the problems worse. Slow down, review what you've been doing and start eliminating things first to see if the problem goes away.