Monday, October 24, 2011

Hair Theory: Protein-Moisture Balance

Hey ladies,

I'm sure you have heard these words being thrown around but do you really understand what it means? Understanding how protein and moisture interact with our hair is vital in healthy hair care as our strands cannot survive without either. This post is going to take a look how protein and moisture impacts our hair, how we can determine what our hair needs and the different ways we can effectively infuse the same into our strands.


We all know that our strands are made from a protein called keratin. This gives our hair its structure and strength. Our hair experiences wear and tear as we go about our day and its exposed to the elements. We need to continually treat our strands with protein to rebuild and reinforce them.

Signs that your hair needs protein: Your hair feels mushy, not just soft but overly soft when wet. Combing wet hair results in alot of breakage. You feel like its better for you to manipulate your hair when its dry because its just too weak and stretchy when its wet. Think of over-cooked spaghetti... you get the picture right.

Key Ingredients to look for: Keratin, wheat protein, silk protein, amino acids, egg, placenta

Conditioners: Motions CPR (hard), ORS Hair Mayonnaise(Medium), ORS Replenishing pack (light). These are just a few examples. But the general rule for finding protein conditioners is looking out for key words like repair, strengthen, stop breakage.


Moisture is responsible for our hairs elasticity. This is the hairs ability to stretch then recoil back to its original length. This is important because as we manipulate our strands, our hair needs to be able to stretch and recoil. All moisture comes from water!!
Signs that your hair needs moisture: Think of dry uncooked spaghetti as your hair, now picture trying to comb your hair into a pony tail...yes major breakage... hear the spaghetti breaking as you attempt to wrap the ponytail holder around it. This is what hair that needs moisture/ has too much protein is like. It is hard and rigid, breaks by just touching it...You  feel like its better to manipulate your hair when is wet because it breaks easily... leaving little pieces everywhere if you comb it when its dry.

Key Ingredients to look for: WATER...while water is only source of moisture their are certain substances called humectants that help draw water into the hair strand... glycerine, honey, aloe vera are all humectants.

Conditioners: Motions moisture plus, Neutrogena Triple Moisture Mask. Look for words like moisturize, soften/soft, bouncy.

How to effectively infuse protein and moisture into our strands??

I believe that the most effective way of doing this is deep conditioning with heat for about 30 minutes. Our hair's cuticles act like little doors that allow substances in and out of our strands... we need to open these doors using heat (heat raises the cuticle) to allow for deep penetration. Some have also been successful with baggying (deep conditioning in a ponytail)overnight or throughout the day allowing their body heat to aid with penetration.

So at the end off all of this, hair that has a proper protein/moisture balance is like al dente spaghetti...  done just right!! It is good to have all this information but each of us must get to know our hair. It takes time and alot of trial and error but if you stick with it.. you would know exactly what your hair needs just by touching it.

Hope thus information is useful... Happy hair growing to all!!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Hair Practices:Protecting hair for Texturizing Touch-up

Hey just coming at you with a short post on how I texturize my hair to get minimal breakage and damage. I was asked about my texlaxing process so below is a quick step by step tutorial of my touch up.

Step 1: Separate hair in quarters. Take a good look at your new growth and determine where the line of demarcation is (where your relaxed hair meets your natural hair). Coat your already processed hair with vaseline and/or baby oil.


New growth

Separate in quarters

Step 2: Add conditioner or oils to the relaxer to dilute the strength. This slows down the processing of the hair and allows you time for application if you move slowly like me lol.

About 50/50 regular relaxer and conditioner

Step 3: I apply my relaxer with my hands (using gloves ofcourse).. smoothing as I go along. I do not comb through

Step 4: I leave the relaxer in for about 10 minutes

Dont worry if the relaxer gets on already processed hair as its slathered with vaseline and baby oil

Step 5: I rinse out the relaxer with warm water and use Neutralizing Shampoo TWICE

Step 6: Deep Condition with  a heavy to medium Protein Conditioner.


This is basically my touch-up process. I use alota grease, oils and conditioner to ensure that my ahir is well protected and that my relaxer is not too strong. Hope this was useful to someone, texturizing is really not difficult as all.

N.B: Processing time is very important in not over processing your hair. The first time you texturize you should collect shed hair and practice the process on the hair so that you can figure out what length of time would give you your desired curl pattern. I know already from my experience that 10-15 mins with my diluted relaxer would give me the curl I want.

Hope this was useful... feel free to hit me up with your questions.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Healthy Hair Styling: Braidouts

Hi Ladies,

Now that we have done some theory, I wanted to share one of my favourite 'go-to' styles : the braidout. This is a very low maintenance, low manipulation style that is easy on your strands yet very stylish. The braidout can be strategically used for the following :

1. To keep the new growth stretched so that you can have a longer time period between chemical services like relaxers, perms, dry curls. This allows you to give your hair a break from the chemicals.. I will do a post on stretching relaxers in the future.

2. For persons who wear their hair curly, this is an alternative to a wash and go. Wash and gos often get matted as the hair curls up. Because a braidout is a stretched style (the hair is in a stretched state as it dries) it does not tangle an mat as easily as a wash an go. Its a great way to wear your hair 'open' with getting a tangled mess.

3. This is a great way of stretching the hair in preparation for flat ironing. The less heat the better... no blow drying required.

4. To reduce the amount of unnecessary combing. Once the style is complete... it requires very little maintenance.  This gives your strands a break of the daily pulling an tugging. At night you just tie your hair into a high ponytail... should look like a pineapple. In the morning you refresh with your fingers sparingly.

So..... how is this magical style achieved? Its so simple you would not believe it.

Firstly you would need some sort of moisturising spritz (preferably containing glycerine and aloe vera juice)... an oil for sealing (any oil/butter.. the coarser the hair the heavier the oil should be) and some sort of setting agent (gel, mousse, setting lotion... the coarse the hair the stronger the setting product should be).

Next your section the hair into two sections. Part it from ear to ear. Put the top half in a pony an work with the bottom first. Spray the entire bottom half with the spritz (I use a homemade concoction with containing aloe vera and glycerine)... then coat it with the oil/butter (I used shea butter mixed with oils). Take a small section of hair, detangle (figure detangle if it was previously detangled) apply some gel or whatever setting product you are using (I use normal styling gel) and braid the hair. Continue these steps for the other sections of the hair. For the braidout in the pics below I did 6 medium braids in the back section of my hair and three in front.

When I am finished with the back I usually tie a scarf around my head and push it back a little beyond my hair line... this is because I do not like my plaits/braids starting on my hair line... (this is optional ofcourse). It is important to pay attention to the direction you would like the hair to fall in when braiding the front... if you want it to fall to the side and braid it to the side.

Please note that when you are braiding, do not 'borrow' hair from the other sections in order to finish the braid. Before you start make sure all three parts are equal. This allows for a more defined braidout.

LEAVE IT ALONE UNTIL IT IS COMPLETELY DRY!! This is to allow the hair to 'set' in the pattern of the braid.

For the take down, put a little oil in your hands and unplait.... Its that simple.

Hope you guys will try this style.... message me with any questions/comments.. Ill be more than happy to assist. 
Until next time... HHJ


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hair Journey


By now most of you are probably thinking... ok.. who is this chic and why does she think she can give advice about hair? So I just wanted to share a bit of my hair journey with you.  This does not mean Im a hair I have been able to grow my hair to lengths I never thought I could, I always believed that African hair would grow to certain lengths and that was its maximum potential..... boy was I wrong....

So I had a relaxer for most off my life... I got it when I was 8 or thereabout as my hair was 'too thick and unmanageable' This is me at 16 in the pic below... my hair was just touching armpit length.

Got a permanent brown colour for my high school grad. That was the end of my hair, I had severe breakage and my hair thinned out dramatically!


 I decided to grow my hair out and in 2008 I did the big chop. I still did not have healthy hair practices at this point. I had no clue about taking care of natural hair and so I started to search the internet for information on texturizing hair.

Oct 2009
Nov. 2009
 Late 2009 I texturized my hair after finding information on LHCF- Long Hair Care Forum. But it didnt stop there, I continued to read about hair and was amazed by some of the stories I read at LHCF. I started on my journey to achieve long healthy hair. Below are my progress pics!!

Oct 2010

Jan 2011
Oct 2011

My final goal is curly mid back length hair... I have a little ways to go still....

I hope that my journey can inspire someone... we African women need to become more informed about our hair because that junk the beauty industry is feeding us... is just that... JUNK!!

Thanks for reading... Happy Hair Growing!!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hair Theory: Growth and Retention

Hi Guys,

This post is just to shed some light on rentention.

ALL hair grows!!!

To often I have heard persons saying that their hair isnt growing and that african hair cannot get as long as indian or caucasian hair. This is completely FALSE.

If your hair has been at the same length for almost all your life, it may seem like it is not growing but what is actually happening is that you are not retaining the length. For example, a person may go to the salon every 6 weeks to relax their 'new growth'. If you have new growth then it must mean that your hair is growing but why are you not seeing any progress in the length of your hair? Why is your hair still shoulder length after soo many years or relaxing your new growth?What causes you not to retain length?

Well the answer is simple....BREAKAGE BREAKAGE BREAKAGE!!!

Let me explain, you are not seeing a difference in the length of your hair because you are losing hair from the ends. Those short pieces of hair that is all over your sink and clothes after combing...yup...the hair on your bedsheet..check.... hair coming out in clumps after a wash and detangle... definately!! All of these are clear indicators of breakage. Your hair strands are breaking from the ends... even sometimes midway up the shaft and this is why you never see any progress.

Now this is not to be confused with shed hair. We shed hair every single day, this is when hair falls out of the scalp after finishing the growth cycle. We can identify shed hair by looking for a white bulb at the end of the strand.

Now that you have had your light bulb moment... lol...lets talk briefly about some of the ways we can keep our hair on our heads instead of in the bathroom sink.

Nutrients: Hair is dead... but there are certain compounds needed to prevent it from breaking off. Some of these include water, protein, fatty acids etc.

Styling: This is very important when it comes to retention. Protective styling and low manipulation styles significantly reduce breakage.

Healthy Pratices: There are vairous practices that aid in rentention. Stretching relaxers, using heat protectant, careful detangling are just a few of the ways we can retain length.

All of the post on this blog will in either directly or indirectly be related to helping you retain length and would go more indepth in the aforementioned points. I just wanted to create a clear understanding of growth and rentention as all of my future posts would be aimed to towards helping African women grow long hair.

Thanks for read.... HHJ

Hair Theory: Hair Structure


I wanted to come at you first and foremost with some information about the structure of the hair strand and some of the challenges we curly girls face because of the structure of our strands.

Ok, so the  basic layers of a hair strand are captured in the image below. Any type of hair from pin straight to tightly curly  is made up of these three layers. This is just a basic overview of each layer for general knowledge, not going into too much detail to confuse anyone.
Cuticle- This is the outermost layer. It is made up of  transparent/colorless scales that overlap eachother in order to protect the inner layers of the strand. Most topical hair products are aimed toward affecting the cuticle in some manner.

Cortex-This is the largest layer of the strand and is made up of a protein called keratin and pigment. Within the cortex there are protein bonds, the number of bonds determine the texture and strength of the hair. Greater the number of bonds, the curlier the hair. The pigment present in this layer also determines hair colour. All chemical services/thermal services aimed towards changing the curl pattern of the hair or changing the colour of the hair affects the cortex.

Medulla-This is the innermost layer and its actual purpose uncertain.

Challenges for curly girls:

1. Curly hair is often dry as it is difficult for the natural sebum (oil) produced by the scalp to move downward towards to end of the strand. This is why most curly girls add oil in their hair daily while persons with naturally straight hair complain about having 'oily/greasy' hair.

2. The cuticle layer of curly hair opens easily just due to the curl pattern. An open cuticle is one of the main reason we experience breakage an splits as the strand is not properly protected. Relaxers and/or chemical services done by most african women also raise the cuticle causing the cortex to be open to the elements. In my up coming articles about healthy hair practices you will hear me talk about ways that we can close this cuticle layer and thus greatly minimise damage.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome and Introduction

Hi all,

Welcome to Healthy Hair by Ren. This is place to be if you want to learn about taking care of African hair. Since this is my first post I think some definitions are in order :

Healthy Hair:   There has been some back and forth about this term in the hair community for ages. To me, healthy hair is hair that has minimal breakage and split ends and/or split shafts.

African Hair: When I use this term, I am referring to any type of hair that has a natural curl pattern even if it may have had chemical services to change the curl pattern. If it grows out of your head with relatively tight curl, I'm talking to you!!

I know I might get some flack for my definitions but these debates have been going on forever and they will continue to go on forever. This is just my understanding/view of things.

The main objective of this blog is to educate African (race, not nationality, can be mixed as well) women on taking good care of their hair. I believe that hair is very important to most women and has a big impact on how attractive/confident they feel.

I am so fed up of seeing women with natural hair go to a salon and the stylist automatically wants to 'fix' their 'problem'  with a relaxer. I am in no way a natural hair nazi (I am texturized by preference), but I believe that women should have options when it comes to their hair. You can have healthy, beautiful, long hair regardless of whether it is natural, relaxed, heat trainined etc. Its up to knowing what options are available to you and chosing your preference.

What can you look forward to from this blog:
-Hair Theory :Hair structure, protien/moisture balance, porosity, elasticity etc.
-Healthy Hair Techniques/Practices: Stretching relxers, protective styling, moisturising and sealing, relaxing/texturising process, stretching natural hair, deep conditioning, baggying etc.
-Healthy Hair Styling Tutorials: Flat ironing tutorial, rollersetting, stretched hair styles (braid outs/twist outs/bantu knot outs), protective styles

and any new exciting developments in the hair community!!

Thanks for reading, dont forget to 'follow'!!