TWA Stage

by SPstyles of

I don’t know how many times I’ve thought I was out of the TWA stage, only to be reminded when I tried to do one of those styles for long hair… you know, the ones that definitely don’t work for TWA’s no matter how you try to tweak it. If someone broke down a TWA to me and how long it takes to get out of this stage before I BC’ed… who knows… I might have transitioned a little longer, lol!
My hair straightened may be shoulder length, but If I wash my hair and let it air dry with no product, I’m basically a curly ear length… I can’t wait for the day when I can really wash and go and have at least neck/shoulder length curls.

So approximately how long will you be in the TWA stage?

It all depends on your amount of shrinkage, curl pattern and hair style. These estimations are primarily for wash & gos, or unstretched styles-
If your hair is tightly curled/waved and shrinks up anywhere between 50% – 90% expect to be in the TWA stage anywhere from 2 – 4 years.
If your hair has medium curls/waves and shrinks up anywhere between 40% – 80% you can expect to be in the TWA stage for about a year or two.
If your hair has loose waves or curls and your shrinkage is about 20% – 60% you can expect to be in the TWA stage for about a year and a half.
These values are based on my own calculations from comparing the shrinkage of many naturals with different textures and hair types and is also a calculation for girls who are starting off with 2″ – 3″ of hair, tops. If you have hair that doesn’t shrink as much in any texture, you will be able to see your length sooner than later. And of course the opposite is true for us girls with major shrinkage, it takes forever!!!
How long has it taken you ladies to get out of the TWA stage?!

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Protective hair Style for length retention















by Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals
via ThreeNaturals

I didn’t really understand the purpose of protective hair care until my hair started to grow out from my big chop. As it grew my hair used to become a tangled mess during wash days. I dreaded detangling my hair. Even with the best product available, it was still a time-consuming process. I realized a little later on in my natural hair journey that while I was implementing one or two strategies to take proper care of my natural hair, I wasn’t doing enough. Mainly because some approaches didn’t apply to me. However it was mostly because of time. Due to the fact that I’m interested in attaining as much length as possible, I’m realizing that protecting my hair is key.

Protective hair care strategies are necessary in order to shield the delicate strands of textured hair, to minimize breakage and damage and retain length. If you’re not interested in growing your hair out to exceptional lengths and your main focus is wearing your hair in short, funky hairstyles, protective measures can still be employed in order to keep your hair as healthy as possible.

Tips to Protect Your Hair

1. Minimize friction and tangling.
Reducing these two things can really lessen hair breakage. Reducing friction means that your hair is handled as minimally as possible. Friction comes from combing, brushing and styling and heat exposure. If your hair is fairly long and prone to tangling, you may want to consider sectioning your hair in big twists or braids for cleansing and conditioning. Your hair shouldn’t be piled on top of your head to be washed as the friction between hair strands can cause damage to the hair and become a tangled mess. Apply your cleansing agent and conditioner to your hair and work it downward (and not up), helping to smooth the cuticle. Also, finger detangling through this process can make a huge difference. Putting these practices into effect has greatly minimized the need for detangling my hair before styling. Additionally, using products with a lot of slip and glide is important to reduce tangling when finger combing or using tools to comb and brush the hair. Sleeping on a satin pillowcase or using a satin cap or scarf can minimize the friction between your hair and the cotton pillowcase at night. For me, I find that sleeping on a satin pillowcase can also help to preserve my style for a few days. In general, the less you handle your hair, the less breakage and damage you’ll experience.

2. Use proper styling tools.
Part of building a healthy hair care regimen is your product choice. Another important aspect is the type of products you use to actually style and manipulate your hair. These include combs, brushes, hair pins and hair clips, rollers, etc. Tools that are not made or used properly can really damage textured hair. Our hands are really our best detangling and styling tools. Our fingers put as little stress as possible on our hair. If you opt to use a styling tool then choosing combs with wide teeth is best. Avoid combs with fine teeth as using these combs can increase the chance of breakage. Seamless combs are ideal to minimize the snagging on the hair and cuticle damage. Combs with longer teeth are great for longer haired curlies in order for the comb to work through the hair effectively and to minimize snagging and breakage. If you are going to use a brush a natural boar bristle brush is best! Brushing can be hard on the cuticle and a boar bristle brush can be used if necessary. I don’t use boar bristle brushes to distribute product but only to smooth my hair when I’m styling it. This type of brush is a lot gentler than one with plastic bristles. A brush that is frequently used by women with textured hair to detangle the hair and distribute products throughout the hair is a Denman® brush. I have one and my opinion of it is somewhat mixed. The brush isn’t cheap but I don’t have a problem spending money on something that I find value in if it works for me. I have thick type 4 (ie coily) hair. I used this brush throughout my hair journey and I haven’t seen any benefit to using it at all. I’ve tried using it to detangle my hair but I find that a wide-toothed comb is the best option for me. I’ve tried using it for distributing gel for my wash n’ go hairstyles and while I was able to achieve a lot of curl definition I also got massive amounts of shrinkage and a final look that I wasn’t too fond of.
Now I did purchase the classic Denman® D4 brush with 9 rows of pins because this was all that was available to me at the time. What may have been the better choice is the Denman® Freeflow brush. The pins are widely spaced and can be effective for getting through any type of hair, especially thick, coarse hair. However for me this brush is not part of the tools I use for styling. It works for many other women so I say stick with it if it’s working for you. Hairpins are great for keeping the hair in place and wearing pinned up styles; but in my experience, they can be a pain to take out. No matter how gentle I try to remove them I always seem to get some hair caught in the pin. Good Hair Days® pins can be used in place of hairpins. They are great because the prongs are open (and not closed) and there is a loop at the top of the pin. This makes them really easy to insert and take out without worrying about snagging or pulling on the hair.

3. Protective styling.
I really didn’t understand the importance of protective styles before but in order for me to protect my ends and care for my hair during the winter months, I’ll be wearing my hair in protective styles. A protective style is essentially a low manipulation hair style and for me, one that ensures my hair is also protected as much as possible from the harsh winter weather. I typically wear twist outs but I’ll likely wear cornrows, flat twists or even crochet braids. The possibilities are endless but the key is to really keep you hair moisturized and the ends as protected as possible.

In addition to proper product choice and use, all of these practices can definitely help with minimizing damage to your hair and ensuring your hair is healthy.

What do you do to protect your hair?
How effective are your methods at reducing breakage and damage, and retaining length?

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Pillow Soft Natural Hair

by Susan Walker of DrWalkerWellness

I recently modified my hair care regimen and the results blew my mind. There was an incredible softness to my hair that I had never really experienced. My hair is not usually soft at all. So you understand my delight. And all from adding in one, relatively inexpensive products. And what was it?

Read On!>>>

Given all of the rules, regulations and restrictions of natural hair care, if you’re one of those women who has been taught and believes that glycerin dries out your hair and makes it hard then you probably should stop reading this article. Or maybe you should continue – to discover that truth, that is.

If your hair is incredibly dry and brittle then you’ll definitely want to keep reading.

I’ll never really understand why anti-glycerin campaigns are common among some naturals. You’ll read the blogs and view the videos of some women who state that glycerin shouldn’t be used or to look for products that are glycerin free and all sorts of “interesting” information.

And while I completely understand that each person’s hair is different and requires specific types of ingredients and products to look and feel it’s best, all hair types have one specific requirement that is a foundational requirement to looking and feeling its best:


If you hair is not “moist” then it’s dry, brittle, breaking, flaking. You name it, your hair experiences it when it’s not properly hydrated.

A key set of ingredients in getting your hair to be moisturized is to humectants.

Humectants are used in hair and skin care products to promote moisture retention. They have the wonderful ability to attract water from the atmosphere. Many different molecules have the ability to be effective humectants and how well they do this depends on how many water-loving sites they contain for hydrogen bonding with water molecules. The strength of this bonding between the humectants and water improves moisture retention by slowing down water loss due to evaporation. Because of their water-binding abilities, humectants are ideal for dry, thirsty hair. That was so nice, I’ll state it twice.

Because of their water-binding abilities, humectants are ideal for dry, thirsty hair.

Let’s go a bit deeper. You know I’m all about the “why” so you’ll develop an understanding of the principles I’m discussing.

Now for the scienc-y stuff so bear with me. This will only take a minute.

In Tonya McKays’ article The Effects of Relative Humidity on Hair and Humectants, she points out that the laws of thermodynamics have a daily influence on our hair.

Thermodynamics is the study of energy. Energy exists in many forms such as heat, light, chemical energy and electrical energy. Everything in nature is always trying to reach a state of equilibrium or point of balance. What this means is that molecules that are highly concentrated in one area will typically move to an area where they are less concentrated until the concentration is equal for both areas. This is called diffusion. Diffusion occurs in substances that are solids, liquids or gases. You can demonstrate diffusion easily yourself. Fill a glass with water and add a few drops of ink or dye to the water carefully. The colour will sink to the bottom initially because it’s denser than the water. However over time, if left undisturbed, the ink at the bottom of the glass will spread upwards from where it’s more concentrated (at the bottom) to where it’s less concentrated (at the top). Eventually all of the water in the glass will be the same shade. This is the point where there are no more differences in the concentration of molecules.

Why is this important? Because when it comes to hair, this same law of molecules trying to reach a state of equilibrium or balance applies. And the molecules we’re most concerned with are water molecules.

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Dry hair usually doesn’t contain a lot of water. When it’s exposed to a very humid environment the hair will eventually become saturated with water molecules as water moves from an area of higher concentration (the humid air), to an area of lower concentration (the hair). Textured hair is more susceptible to this because it is more porous than straight hair. On the one hand this is good. The hair is super moisturized. On the other hand once the hair is exposed to high humidity environments the cortex can swell causing cuticle scales on the hair shaft to lift contributing to what we experience as frizz.

So what happens in dry, cold conditions? Dry air typically contains little to no water vapor, or has a low relative humidity. Hair that is exposed to this type of air will tend to lose water and moisture to the atmosphere as water moves down its concentration gradient from more concentrated (the hair) to less concentrated (the air). The resulting hair is dry, brittle hair which can be prone to frizz, split ends and breaking.

Humectants can be a curly girl’s best friend or worst enemy depending on the situation so you need to know when and how to use them. The most important influence of how humectants will behave in your hair is the climate.

While the topic can be quite complicated it’s important to note that for the sake of hair care and the use of humectants, there are two main weather conditions: low humidity and high humidity.

Low humidity conditions are those such as cold, dry winter air. In this case, if you use products that contain a lot of humectants, there is not a lot of water in the air for the humectants to attract to the surface of your hair. What can occur is that the humectants in your products may prevent the evaporation of water from the hair into the air. Ultra-moisturized hair from humectant use ALONE in this type of climate isn’t going to happen. In fact there is a chance that humectants may remove moisture from the cortex of the hair into the air. Remember diffusion? Moisture will move from areas of high concentration (in this case the hair) to areas of lower concentration – the air! This can result in dry, icky feeling hair. Not cool! Don’t panic. Humectants are still necessary but you’ll need to add something extra to ensure your hair lock in moisture as long as possible and feels soft and moisturized. You’ll need to use an oil to seal.

With high humidity conditions such as warm or hot summer air, there can often be A LOT of moisture in the air. Some moisture is good; a lot of moisture – not so much. If your textured hair is dry, damaged and overly porous it can absorb a lot of water from the air. This can lead to swelling of the hair shaft, lifting of the cuticle, tangling and frizz. Combine this situation with a product that is high in humectants (especially glycerin) and you have a situation where a lot of water is attracted to the surface of the hair. This can lead to hair that always feels wet, takes forever to dry and is a sticky, tangled mess. In other words, cotton candy hair. Not hot at all! Again there is a way to tame the frizz.

You wanna get really anal and technical? Figure out the humidity using dew points
So how can you assess the humidity in the air? This is a complicated topic that’s difficult to wrap your head around if you’re not a meteorologist or physicist. However, you don’t have to be either one to get a basic understanding of how to determine how your hair will behave on a particular day. Something we can use is called the dew point. The science-y definition of dew point is the temperature below which the water vapor in a volume of humid air at a constant barometric pressure will condense into liquid water. Huh???

What you need to know is that the dew point is associated with relative humidity. The higher the dew point, the more moisture there is in the air. The lower the dew point, the less moisture in the air. To gauge how dew point makes you feel in general, dew points above 65 F (about 18 C) make it feel sticky and humid outside while dew points less than 65 F are more comfortable. The higher the dew point above 65 the stickier it will feel outside.

With respect to hair, knowing the dew point can really help you in managing your hair and style and determine whether or not you’ll use humectants, and if so, how much. You can check the dew point of your location on various weather channels and online. If you have the time.

Complicating things EVEN MORE: Types of humectants

There are several different types of humectants found in skin and hair care products.

A few examples include:
Propylene glycol
Agave nectar
Sodium PCA
Sodium lactate
Hydrolyzed protein

What’s interesting about humectants is that each one has a different ability to bind to water. Glycerin, sodium PCA, sodium lactate and propylene glycol are humectants that have really strong water-binding capabilities while the other humectants have less.

I’ve used various humectants and my absolute favourite is glycerin. It’s available, relatively inexpensive and extremely effective.

Here are a few interesting facts about glycerin:
It can hold onto water helping to increase the water levels in the hair
Natural hair with glycerin can sustain higher levels of force before it breaks
At high levels it’s effective; however it can get pretty sticky. So it’s typically mixed with other ingredients and oils. However the bottom line is that it is an extremely effective moisturizer and can make a huge difference in your hair care regimen

So how do you use it? Here are a few tips:
Don’t use straight glycerin. Mixing 1 part glycerin with 4 parts water is a good formula to start with. You’ll need to find that glycerin “sweet spot” (no pun intended) for your hair, so experiment!
If your hair feels soft after you use the glycerin it’s adequately moisturized or you’ve used too much glycerin. If it feels sticky then you’ve definitely used too much. Glycerin can be washed off easily with water so you can just apply a little water to your hair to remove the stickiness.
If you have a moisturizer that’s not quite cutting it the great news is that you don’t have to go out and buy another moisturizer with adequate levels of glycerin in it. Use what you have and look for one that’s more effective later. In the meantime, add a glycerin and water mixture to your hair care regimen and note the difference in the way your hair looks and feels.
So have you used glycerin? What’s your experience? Share!

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Why did you decide to big chop?

via the divas of AroundTheWayCurls

Why did you decide to big chop?
I wanted to be able to wash, comb and style my own hair.
Do you feel less feminine and sexy with your hair shorter?
I felt sexy then and I feel sexy now.

When you are having a “bad” hair day, it may be less versatile than longer hair so what do you do to save the day?
A friend of mine told me to make “bad” hair look intentional by owning it and also by wearing makeup, heels, dresses etc. So that’s what I do. In most cases, no one has ever known that I was having a “bad” hair day unless I told them.
What is your hair regimen?
I am still learning what works for my hair. I currently wash once a week or when my hair needs detangling. I also henna once a month. My styling process goes like this, add olive oil to dry hair, wash hair with Wen Cleansing Conditioner, condition hair with Pantene Curly Hair Series Deep Moisturizer, detangle while conditioner is still in with Denman brush, dry with a specialized towel, put in Mixed Chicks leave in conditioner, stretch blow dry, a twist out, then a steam shower to make my hair swell. It is a lot, I know, that’s why I only do it as needed and when I’m not tired.
What is your detangling process?
I only detangle when my hair is wet and overly saturated with conditioner. I section the hair off and detangle from tips to roots, sometimes I finger detangle, but the Denman brush is a time saver.
Do you put anything in your hair for styling (leave-in conditioner, gel etc)?
After washing my hair I always apply Mixed Chicks leave in conditioner. And to condition my dry hair I use Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Sheen Spray.
What is your nightly hair routine?
I don’t wrap my hair at night because it reminds me of the pressing days. So instead of wrapping, I sleep on a silk pillow case and look forward to seeing what my hair looks like in the morning. I usually wake up to some creative sculpture and will rock this ‘do for the day.

What is the next milestone you are excited about reaching with your hair (for example what hair style/ technique)?
I am aiming for the Erica Badu afro!
Who is your hair idol?
My mom and dad’s throwback pictures and also Solange because her hair is similar in length.
Any words of wisdom that you would like to share with the masses about natural hair?
Loving and embracing our hair starts with us and will impact them; the world the masses, the product makers . . .

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