Maintaining yourself through times of illness

Hello all, 

It seems these days that we are all suffering from one sickness or another.  Myself included.  I've been fighting a chronic issue all week and have finally found something that will hopefully either fix it completely or at least give me the strength and pain relief to get through it until I can gather my forces and continue to move forward.    We all have these issues, problems, chronic or not, sickness is something that can truly break a person's spirit.  When a human breaks because of the pain, it's one of the most difficult and heartbreaking things to bear, and I know that in times of severe sickness there isn't much we wouldn't give up for the opportunity to live a normal and pain free life, and interestingly, we always seem to be hit with a sickness that manifests itself in a way that we would easily trade for any other type of sickness or pain.  Funny how it works. 

I just want to take a moment to encourage those of you who are suffering.  You will get through this, you will make it, and you will be victorious.  Even if it takes time, the only time we fail or we lose is when we give up our hope that it gets better.  Even if you start seeing the evidence of your sickness through things that you used to pride yourself in, your figure, your hair, your eyes, your skin, what have you, know that in the end it's your spirit that will remain and your spirit is what makes you beautiful from the inside out. 

This week has been one of the more trying weeks; my husband and I both spent all day at one doctor's office or another, picking up prescriptions, lying on the couch exhausted from the physical toll of our respective hurts, but we knew we had each other.  Even as we were struggling, we could be there side by side and know that we would get through it together.  This is key.  You need someone to help get you through.  I know that God put my husband in my life for a very specific reason and that He has plans for us, but I also know that He gave me my husband because He knew that I would need someone to hold me and to hold when the going gets rough.  I want to encourage you in being able to have a friend, spouse, relative that you can go to physically be held and comforted by and in turn be able to do the same thing for them in their time of need. 

Something that's I've been really struggling with is moderation.  I find something that helps and after two years of hurting I just want to saturate myself in it, be it a food, medicine, what have you.  I have to remember that I can't do that because it could easily not be helping at all and it's just my brain going psycho or it could be that it might be helping, but not necessarily fixing the problem.  For instance, pain killers.  I try to limit my intake because I know that even if I take the pain killers, that's not fixing the problem, it's simply making myself blind to it.  Another thing is that I've been put on dose after dose of antibiotic regardless of whether or not it was confirmed that I was in need of them, and in the long run they have really hurt me because I think they were not helping, but in fact were actually deep-setting the issue that could have been fixed with a different type of medication. 

Make your doctor listen to you.  I'm so frustrated because I think I've finally been put on something that is helping and not hindering my problem, but when I went in again after two years she didn't even recognize me, nor recognize the multitude of things she prescribed me two years ago.  She didn't have my record up.  I felt like she was just brushing me off, but I persisted.  I wrote down everything that doctors and specialists had suggested and I told her I felt we were looking at it the wrong way.  She did a test and sure enough I was right, but why didn't she test for this simple, simple thing in the first place?  Because she wasn't listening.  I will be finding a new doctor.  You have to go to a doctor that listens to you.  You need to be able to talk with them, have them be open to listen to you and not just shove you out the door with the first thing that comes to mind or send you to a specialist because they don't know.  If she had asked more questions, and been more aware of what I was feeling or instead of when my test came back negative the very first time I went to her two years ago, just brushing it off as coincidence saying I would feel better and had instead said "hmmmm, since it's negative let's test for the next things that your symptoms indicate" I would be healthy two years earlier.  Even now I don't know if this is it, but she could have at least listened. 

Take time for yourself.  So often we are thrown in a world where work and school or spouse or kids or what have you is so first and foremost in our minds we forget that we just need to take time and take care of ourselves, even if all that means is lying down on the couch for a night and reading instead of going out.  You must give your body extra pampering, you must give it time to cope.  When you're going 100% all the time and in pain you will not survive, you have to give your body the rest and relief it needs.  Even if lying down can't fix the issue it can at least give your body a chance to stop moving and assess things.  Sleep is a powerful healer. 

I am a Christian, and recently I did go in front of my church to explain to them my plight and that I needed help.  At the end of the service, my pastor had everyone who wanted to join us up front and they prayed over me.  The sense of love and desire to make better was simply overwhelming.  I am so thankful to God for the church He has placed me in, and I know that with my asking His people to pray over me, where two or three come together in His name He hears them, and I know that I have an entire church backing me up and praying for my healing.  It is a blessing and brings peace. 

I hope that whatever it is that you might be struggling with will come to a close, and I pray that you will find rest and peace and the strength that you need to carry on until you are healed.  I hope that my random thoughts help.  


Project: How long can we make my curls last! Day 4

Yes, I washed my curls out...so they lasted three days.
I woke up in the morning with loose waves, but honestly my head was getting itchy and I wanted my straight hair back so I went ahead and got rid of them.  It was a fun project and I am extremely pleased with the curlformers.  So there we go, the end! 


Project: How long can we make my curls last! Day 3

Alrighty everyone, so I am becoming more and more impressed with my curlformers and the results of this week as each day passes.

For a little background on today; I went to bed feeling really not great at all so I didn't really care about how my hair was arranged on the pillow; I passed out around 9:30 and tossed and turned until some random person texted me at one in the morning saying they were the tall guy that I met at Old C's.  Yeah....wrong number.

So I woke up, took my shower, didn't my makeup and clothes and then brushed out my hair with my paddle brush, I didn't comb at all and here are my results:

I am seriously impressed.  These are nice soft waves that have no product in them, went through a hot shower so they got a little steamed even though I tried to keep them out of the water as much as possible, and were brushed out.  Very awesome.  Also, I'm not noticing extra grease buildup or anything on my scalp so I could easily another day with curls, I'm going to see what they look like tomorrow morning and keep you posted.

In these times, Lord make Your presence and peace known to us.


Project: How long can we make my curls last! Day 2

Alrighty, here we are on Day 2 of the curly hair Project.

So I slept with my curls on my satin pillow case and tried to make sure the curls were on top of the pillow instead of getting crushed, but I move around in my sleep so I did end up smooshing them a little bit.  Here is the result after I got dressed and just tossled the curls about a little bit.  Please keep in mind that this is with no product other than my Giovanni Anti-Frizz:

 Not bad!!  The very bottom of my hair near my neck had pretty much given up and let the curls falls so I had some wavy/straight locks, but for the most part they all held pretty well.  I was tempted to just leave my hair like it was, but the only problem is I tried running my fingers through my hair I noticed the dreaded rat's nest had started to form in several places.  I can't stand having tangled hair. I just can't....one of the reasons why I will never tease my hair apart from the fact that it's bad for your hair, it makes it tangling and I just don't like that feeling. So, I combed them out with my boxwood comb and then ran my brush through them.  This was the result: 

Honestly I don't think that's too bad.  It brushed out the ringlets, but it left some really nice waves and I still have a couple of ringlet face framing locks.  I like it and now it's tangle free.  So far I'm super impressed with the curformers...the last time I tried to make ringlets with a different product I gave myself an afro that fell into inconsistent spiral thingies. 

Another plus in this is that I'm starting to miss my straight hair, which is nice because I was getting bored.  I like being able to run my hands through my hair.  It will be nice to see how my hair fared through this whole experiment.  I might do a protein and honey masque afterwards, but since I used the WEN hair cleanser instead of shampooing two days in a row, I think it helped maintain the overall health.

I'll post third day hair tomorrow to see how it goes? 


Project: How long can we make my curls last! Day 1

Okay!  So we're going to conduct an experiment.  Yesterday you saw my awesome curlformer curls and I decided that I absolutely HATED the sugar water spray.  Not because of the bees; I actually don't mind critters flying around and smelling my hair, I just really didn't like how stiff and untouchable my hair was, and if you know me at all, you know that I like touching my hair. A lot. It's weird. So my experiment is to see how long I can make my curls last with just using my regular hair routine.

SO!  I went ahead and washed my hair with WEN last night and reapplied my curlformers, this time with smaller sections of hair; I ended up using 45 of them.  Before using the formers, I applied I used my Giovanni anti-frizz serum per usual, but didn't use any aloe vera.  I took them out this morning and this is how they look:

So you can see the curls are a little tighter individually because I used smaller sections, but they are also not as "sculpted" as they looked with the product in my hair, which is fine with me; I prefer the more natural, crazy look. I think next time I will mix in aloe with my serum because it made my hair really soft and shiny.

So here we are day 1.  I'm going to see how long I can make these babies last and will photograph my progress. The End! 


Curlformers, woot woot!

Hey all,

So I bought some of these bad boys.  Curlformers!!  Well, okay, I got a generic version because they were much cheaper, but I purchased the "extra long and wide" generic version.

These are the results: 

I'm VERY pleased with it!  Pretty awesome right. 
So first I washed my hair like normal and then put in my Giovanni Anti Frizz serum, but I also mixed in about a dime size dollop of aloe vera gel and ran than through my damp hair. Then I took the curlformers, not really using any specific placement other than to try and alternate the colors (orange is clockwise, pink is counterclockwise) throughout my hair.  One these I noticed; YOU MUST IF YOU HAVE LONG HAIR APPLY THESE FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM.  Bottom to top is bad bad bad bad bad bad.  Well, for my hair anyway.  Also, use small sections.  I tried using bigger sections at the beginning and it was just too painful to pull my hair through, when I stopped using big sections and made them smaller it worked so much better and was very easy.  After that, I pretended to sleep on these, because let's face it, little plastic twisties in your hair just isn't conducive to sleeping deeply, but beauty is pain right? 

All in all, it took about thirty minutes to get the curlformers in, but I bet I can minimize that time now that I understand more how these boogers work.  It only took my fifteen minutes to take the curlformers out, and then after at I applied a homemade aloe vera and sugar water spray to keep the curls.  Honestly, I wish I hadn't because then I see how well the curls keep, so I'm going to wet my hair tonight and rinse out the sugar water, do it again and just let the curls fall throughout the rest of the week until I wash my hair and if they keep I'll post pictures of the week through. Plus that, sugar water as much as I like it as a hold, I don't like how I can't run my fingers through my curls.  When I took the curlformers out though, my hair was super soft and really bouncy.

Okidokies! I think that's it for now, I'll update and post photos of my hair in the curlformers tonight when I reapply :) 


The pH of hair

Hello all, 

I know it's been a while since I've written so I decided I would get to actually writing something worth reading. Something that I think is important to understand when dealing with the hair is the actual science behind it, it's composition and what you're putting on your hair.  To start off, we'll begin with a brief explanation of hair structure: 

Hair is composed mainly of keratin, the same stuff you're nails are made out of, and has three basic parts: the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. Your hair has a shaft, which is the part that projects out of the scalp or body, and the root is the part of the hair that is embedded within your skin.  When your hair is visible, it is already dead, you do not have "live" hair if you will, sticking out of your legs and head and face.  The cuticle is the shiny outside part that everyone sees and says "Oooo shiny hair!" or "yikes you need a haircut"  the cuticle is the main part of the hair that you can affect directly and immediately.  By that I mean, the cuticle is what is first altered by bleaches, or hair masques, or shampoo, etc. etc.  If you want to affect your hair's healthy from the inside out, that's when vitamins and water and healthy eating habits are useful.  They do affect the cuticle as well, but not on the immediate basis that other products affect. I'm not going to go into the medulla and the cortex because the cuticle is what I focus on mainly anyway. 

Hair needs to be pH balanced; it's neutral, meaning it has the same amount of acids and alkalis, which balance each other out.  I know it sounds weird to say that your hair needs to have acid, but interestingly enough, it's the acid in apple cider vinegar and lemon juice that makes your hair so healthy.  We'll get into that in a moment. 

Have you ever looked at the ingredients in your shampoo or conditioner?  You'll notice that Ceytl alcohol is often an ingredient, which is an vegetable (can be) derived acid that is meant to help keep you hair balanced.  You'll also notice, if you're familiar with the pH balances of other items a lot of alkaline materials in your shampoo, such as SLS.

So what happened when you expose your hair to alkaline or acidic products?  Well, when you wash your hair with shampoo, usually it feels a bit dry and rough, yes?  That's because the SLS or whatever alkaline based shampoo product you use actually opens the hair cuticle.  Now with soap based products, such as shampoo bars or SLS free shampoo, this helps your hair release the dirt buildup and rinse away with the soap product.  With SLS, because it is a detergent it will still open your hair cuticle due to its alkalinity, but it will actually rid your hair of the dirt instead of just releasing it.  Most shampoos that are SLS free will have more cleansing ingredients.  SLS doesn't need that because of its detergent properties.  

So now that you have put an alkaline product on your head and you have open hair cuticle, what next?  That's where the acid comes in.  When you apply a commercial conditioner, more often than not they use the cetyl alcohol as an acid base and when your hair is exposed to that acid, it closes up and creates that smooth and shiny surface. The first image shown is hair with closed cuticles, the second image is hair with open cuticles. 


So now that we have a very, very, very basic idea of why hair needs both alkaline and acidic products, this helps me to understand just exactly what my hair is missing and what it needs.  If I notice my hair is tangling a lot and looks dull, chances are rinsing a little bit of diluted acid based something or other through my hair will help it.  If my hair isn't getting clean or I'm finding a lot of buildup, I can probably use baking soda - an alkaline - to open up my hair cuticle and help release that buildup of product. 

If you want to know more about commonly used "hair" items and their pH balance please refer to this site.  Ida has compiled excellent information on pH balance.

Now that we know a little bit about pH and how it affects our hair, what about other issues we see like breakage, or hair loss?  You can administer several tests to help you understand your hair and it's needs a little better. 

1. take a strand of hair from your head and place it in a bowl of water.  If it sinks that means that there are "holes" or damaged ends in your hair and it's taking on water.  If it floats it means that your hair cuticle is intact.  
2. Gently pull on a single strand of your hair.  If it breaks immediately then you are in need of moisture.  Start running coconut oil through your hair the night before your wash it.  Adjust the amount of oil needed depending on the length on your hair.  If your hair strand stretches a lot and then when it breaks it curls up on itself that means your hair is lacking protein and is weaker than most.  An easy fix for this is to take a raw egg, mix it up with some honey and rub that through your hair and leave on for two hours.  Wash out like normal.  The protein in the honey and egg will help fortify your hair in it's weak condition, but the honey will also balance out the protein of the egg and leave your hair soft.  Do not apply egg to your hair too often as the protein if over applied can leave your hair feeling brittle.  
3. If you wash your hair and your ends dry within an hour then chances are they are thirsty and you should apply oil or mayo to them before you wash.  
4. Are your nails brittle and cracking and your skin dry?  Chances are you have a deficiency in some way and need to start eating differently or drinking more water.  The first signs of unhealth comes from your hair, skin and nails.

Please keep in the mind, the above tests are simple ways to evaluate your and each person's head of hair is different.  If a person has really fine hair then their hair will dry faster than someone who had a lion somewhere in their ancient heritage.  

When making hair masques to aid your hair's health it is also good to keep in mind what makes a great masques.  Typically when I make mine, I have a 75/20/5 balance.  75% moisture 20%protein 5%acid.  This is a great generic formula, but always feel free to change it up depending on what you feel your hair needs. If it needs a ton of moisture, than skip the protein and add more oil, that type of thing.  

Here is a list of ingredients to help you start working towards making your own hair masque recipes: 

Oil - coconut, vegetable, olive, argon 
Mayo - I only use the kind that's made with olive oil, but you can use the generic as well.  DON'T USE MIRACLE WHIP!! As yummy as it is on your sandwiches, the extra sugar isn't good for the locks. 
Honey - Honey is a humectant and will attract moisture, but please keep in mind that you need to rinse it all out because your hair will be sticky if you don't and it is also a natural peroxide, so over time and extended use it will lighten your hair 

Mayo - I put mayo in here too because it technically has the protein in it, but I still prefer to keep it in the moisture group 
Avocado - same story with the avocado 

Acids, from least to most acidic
Lemon Juice 

Please keep in mind that this is a very basic list, but an excellent way to get started.  If you have darker hair and want to keep your hair darker, I would recommend using the coffee.  You can also use green tea, but I haven't tried this method.  

I know that sometimes our bodies just don't do what we want, regardless of whether or not we're putting the right stuff in them.  Things happen; sickness, stress, pregnancy, it can all affect you regardless of how well you're taking care of yourself.  Making yourself a homemade hair masque can not only be good for your physically, but sitting back for a while and just giving yourself a coconut oil head massage or sitting down and watching a chick flick while letting egg protein soak into your hair can be a great health benefit for you emotionally and mentally which will in turn help your hair to be at its best. 

I hope this was useful and not all just redundant information, and if you have questions feel free to ask!   

*I also want to take this moment to share two blogs with you.  The first is by a woman who has been struggling with health problems that have been affecting her hair's for a long time.  She has pushed through it with tons of grace and happy attitude and I love reading about her life and how now she is finally able to work on getting her body as healthy as possible:  Long Haired at Heart

The second blog is one that I found a few months ago and aside from the amazing hairstyles, this gal has experimented a lot with different hair treatments and masques. It's so awesome to see someone with beautiful healthy curly hair that is taking care of it all the way down.  Definitely check her out: Sarah's Place for Long Hair