Tag: healthyhair

One Month Check-In: Hair Update

I cannot believe it has been one month since starting my journey to revive my hair! Last month, in my post about Hair Loss, I shared about my struggle to revive my hair after experiencing some major life stressors and changes with my health. Today is my check-in and I am eager to share updates with you.

Let’s recap what has been going on with me recently that has impacted my hair. Keep in mind that stressors that are happening at this point in time may not actually impact your hair for months to come. In fact, I have had numerous doctors ask me “what has happened in your life in the past six months?” to help deduce what is now showing physically.

In the past 9 months, so since 2019 started, I have had both of my parents have serious medical conditions and have life-saving operations. I got really sick in April. I stopped taking birth control and started taking prenatal vitamins to get my body ready for the future so my husband and I can try and start a family. My endometriosis resurfaced, most likely because I stopped taking artificial hormones. I lost 35 pounds. I passed my prospectus and have a tight timeline to finish my dissertation. We had a little financial hurdle to overcome – mostly contributed to our frequent trips to check on family across the country. Work – nothing else needs to be said about that. Our lease was expiring and our complex wanted to increase our rent by 12% which was beyond our means, especially for an apartment that wasn’t updated. Work.

I think that’s the gist of it – in retrospect, it’s not that bad but when you are actively going through it, it really seems like your world is crashing in and you cannot get a break.

If you read or re-read my post, you know I researched Nutrafol and took the plunge to start my journey with them. Coupled with my #four-a-day (the number of CORE vitamins you take), I continued with my scalp massages with Righteous Roots. I started a better diet. Continued to exercise (even started doing yoga routinely). Went to bed earlier and woke up earlier so I didn’t start the day stressed. Took time to decompress. Started hiking. Talked with my husband. Talked with my parents. Talked with my friends. I accepted that I am good enough – even with issues or valleys. And I took my supplements.

These have become my daily regimen!

Low and behold – changes started to occur and the outlook is getting better! The more I took Nutrafol, even though those 4-a-day pills are no joke, and reinforced my CORE vitamins with stress combating supplements (I stopped those after month 1 for now), the more I noticed positive changes and they were not with just my hair. My nails have been growing like weeds. My skin is actually looking better than it did when I was in my 20s (though I continue to take collagen daily still). My weight has been steady but I have been finding muscles I didn’t know where hiding. Maybe TMI here but I am beyond “regular” now! I can sleep better. And yes, my hair has regrown!

Look at those baby hairs!!!!

I will continue to take these supplements and will do monthly check-ins. I would be remiss to mention that they have amazing customer service too – if I had questions, I would get an answer in less than 24 hours AND when I auto-delivery set up but still have a bottle from my erroneous ordering, they paused my account and refunded me so I don’t have multiple bottles collecting dust!

I am so excited to share on this journey. I know IG ads are great but when you are seeing it firsthand…I hope I can help you make an educated choice! Don’t forget to follow my new Instagram (@msbelladaniela) to see updates or live chats about my journey.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol or Righteous Roots? Are you experiencing hair health issues? Have you tried any other supplements that have improved your growth, thickness, or reduced shedding?

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10 Curly Hair Don’ts and Do’s

When you think of a beautiful woman, standing at the beach, staring into the sunset, and catching the ocean breeze billowing through her long tresses, what does that look like to you? For me, that is a caramel blonde with long, straight hair who looks photoshopped during the ocean breeze and photoshopped immediately after. For me, that is a straight-up hysterical fantasy because these curls will never look like that effortless image.

So does that mean I hate my hair? Not at all! At least not anymore. I can’t say the same was believed by 5 or 13 years old me. But now I have been able to embrace my differences and one of them happens to be my hair. I have dark brown curls that tend to take on a personality completely of their own.

After decades of trying to tame my mane, I have decided it was time to embrace each curl, kink, wave, or whatever else my hair wants to do that day. So what do I do to keep myself from pulling a 2007 Britney Spears-esque style modification? I have developed multiple curly hair tips that really work!

  1. DO NOT use cotton pillowcases or towels! Cotton is an abordbant material that wicks out the moisture that curly hair needs, especially the natural oils that your tips are already lacking. And the fibers in the towel will snag the hair and cause frizz or cause breakage!
    DO use satin/silk pillowcases and microfiber towels. Satin/silk pillowcases will allow your hair to maintain its moisture while also being slippery enough to reduce the number of late-night knotting. Microfiber towels will soak up the excess water while letting your hair keep its adequate level of moisture.
    1. Don’t have either and don’t want to shell out the cash just yet? I use a t-shirt when I travel that has the same priciple for my hair in that it does not tug, snag, or overdry my hair. I also have a satin sleeping cap that I got at the DOLLAR STORE which serves a simliar purpose to the pillowcase while keeping all of my hair out of my face and off my neck.
  2. DO NOT wash your hair every day. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again -everytime you use shampoo, you are stripping your hair of the pollutants, dust, product build-up, and other gunk but you are also stripping your hair of its natural oils which prevents frizz and maintains hair structure.
    DO wash your hair every 3 days (or more if you can – I opt for a wash day once a week but I refresh daily or cowash). And try cowashing instead of your standard shampoo. Cowashing is a cleansing conditioner that cleans your hair withou the soapy suds so there is little to no moisture removal. You will need to detox your hair once a month with a solid cleansing shampoo that you’ll follow up with conditioner but the less you strip your hair, the healthier it becomes!
  3. DO NOT use a brush…ever. Brushing will go against your curl pattern and cause frizz and breakage.
    DO untangle your hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb only. Better yet? Do it while you’re in the shower and your hair is still sopping wet rather than dry and prone to breakage. I have also used a detangling brush after a particularly intense hair styling session but try to limit the use overall.
  4. DO NOT dry your hair with a standard hair dryer. No, I’m not telling you to spend $500 on a “new” hair dryer with fancy lights and buttons. However using a standard dryer will localize the heat and over dry your hair which can lead to burning and breakage.
    DO use a diffuser as you do not want to target heat on any strand of your hair -the more you can spread the heat around the faster you can dry without overdrying. If you want some volume, diffuse your hair upside down!
  5. DO NOT skip the leave-in conditioner. Curly hair has this knack of twisting and turning which means the natural oils from your scalp don’t tend to make it to your tips which leads to frizz and anger.
    DO use products meant for your curl type and make sure you use the right amount to fill in the gaps that nature missed! Depending on how thick and tight your curl is, you will may use different products than your neighboring curly-haired friend but please take prudence on how much product you use. If the directions say dime-size for shoulder length hair and your hair goes a bit farther, try that first then add more if you need it. It always easier to add than try to take away.
  6. DO NOT to straight to bed without some maintence. After a long day, your hair is just as tired as you are and needs some particular TLC.
    DO develop a nighttime routine just as you do for your face. Using a good oil on the tips of your hair will seal the dry cuticles and prevent knotting and frizz. And make sure you do a scalp massage! It will help with growth and maintenance. My favorite nighttime product is Righteous Roots Oil – a little goes a long way.
  7. DO NOT neglect your weekly hair duties.
    DO pamper your curly hair. Once a week, after washing/detoxing your hair, follow up with a good hair masque. I personally vary between a simple moisture mask or a protein mask, depending on the state of my hair. I wrote about a great line of masks here: Masks & Scrubs.
  8. DO NOT skip the salon or forget to trim your hair once a year.
    DO get annual trims, at least. Once you found a salon that you like, and in order to do so, call around and make sure they have stylists that work with curly hair if the salon is not exclusively for curly hair, make an appointment every 3-6 months depending on your length, at the very least. It took me years to find a place that did not tell me “Oh wow. You have a lot of hair.” If your stylist ever says that and looks like a deer in headlights -RUN!
  9. DO NOT use standard hair ties.
    DO use satin scrunchies or hair ties made for curly hair! Standard hair ties will tug and break your hair. It may be a little 1980’s but if you are putting your hair up for a gym workout or a lazy-day do (gotta love a top bun), then add some extra conditioner and use a scrunchy or non-elastic tie. I personally use a lot of bobby pins to achieve my updo’s!
  10. DO NOT add heat!
    DO take advantage of your amazing hair – people pay hundreds of dollars for perms and wigs and styling products. You have natural volume! Sure, your hair may not be “perfect” and you may want to switch up your look, but heat will damage your hair strands and follicles, leaving you prone to frizz, breakage, shedding… You can always braid, twistout, or use the over abundance of hair clips to style a new look or stretch your pattern for a while.

I do not wake up every day thinking I am so blessed to have curly hair… In fact, when someone compliments my hair, I get so awkward and uncomfortable! I have even offered to trade my hair for theirs on more than one occassion. But at the same time, my hair is also a part of my identity – without my curls, I do not feel like myself. There are always going to  be days that the scrunchy is used to plop a pineapple or a messy bun, but embracing what makes me, me is also important!

So inquiring minds want to know… What are some of your curly hair tips? Do you have any favorite hair products? Have you embraced your natural hair?

Hair Health: Hair Loss

I bet you looked at that title and were like…”Uh…those two things don’t go together. She must not have had enough caffeine today.”

While you are most definitely right on the caffeine front (is there ever really enough), today’s topic is about how I have found myself losing my thick, curly hair and what steps I am taking now to try and reverse this! In the past few weeks, due to a few reasons – stress and hormones mostly, my hair has been thinning and shedding in clumps. I am still doing my weekly masques, nightly scalp massages, taking my daily vitamins, exercising and eating well but I have recently found myself in a highly stressful situation and have decided to stop taking birth control pills –double whammy.

So what am I talking about when I say hair loss? I’m talking about excessive shedding and thinning of my hair. Below is a photo outlining what I’m referring to where you can see how much I lost in one wash day and how thin my hairline looks. Yes, I have curly hair so I can hide it well but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

About two months ago, I noticed my hair was shedding a little more than normal. I attributed that to the heat and stress, but it was normal for my hair to go in phases – in fact a visit to the dermatologist a year ago even cemented that. However, the past month, my hair has been shedding with no end in sight. I dread wash day because of how much will fall out in the shower -at times in clumps. I don’t slick my hair back because it shows just how thin my hair has become. I hesitated every time I had to remove my hair tie because of the clumps that came with it. It may not look too bad in the photos above, but I want to prevent any further damage and try to regain a piece of me. I have never been in this situation before, even when I personally experienced high stress, so I wanted to act fast.

Now I know you already know that stress can cause hair loss. I know you know that an improper diet can cause hair loss. I know you know that medications and surgeries and trauma can cause hair loss. I know you know that hormones can also cause hair loss – hello male pattern baldness. But did you know that you are supposed to lose 100 or so strands of hair a day? And did you know that because curly hair does not wash daily, some of those strands can get knotted into the rest of the hair making wash day look even worse? That is because our hair goes through phases of growth with the shedding phase being known as telophase. Unfortunately that was way more than normal for me which brings me to today.

So after crying for a bit (because I didn’t want to admit that something was wrong), it was time for some research to resolve this issue. I scoured the internet and journals. I started taking prenatal vitamins. I tried to force myself to sleep earlier. I slowed my roll of exercising and did just yoga. And all to no avail. So I decided to start taking Nutrafol.

What is Nutrafol? Nutrafol is a company started by 3 people who were also experiencing hair loss/thinning and could not get the mass marketed solutions to work effectively. They collaborated with physicians and scientists to find a natural alternative to cure this issue plaguing so many people. The results are oral supplements that work with your body to balance hormones gone-awry, reduce over production of cortisol, balance glucose response, or other issues that may be affecting your hair growth.

One of the biggest reasons I took the plunge with Nutrafol is that local dermatologists actually promote this product in addition to their in-house services. Moreover, Nutrafol is transparent with their ingredients – in fact almost all the information from the “Core” supplement (this is the main supplement divvied up by gender) is up on their website for public view! Lastly, the plan you get may be very different than mine because your regimen varies per person! When you first start out with Nutrafol, you take a GrowthPlan assessment and answer a few questions on your environment, your diet, your stress levels, even things you wouldn’t normally think about like if you get hangry if you don’t eat or when you have more energy during the day. 

Yeah, so what I am trying to get at is that starting 2 days ago (Saturday, August 24th), I started taking 4 pills a day with a meal to help my hair grow again! I also am taking 2 of the stress adaptogen every morning but opted to not take the liver support (both of which are a part of my personalized growth plan) due to the high levels of milk thistle and possible interactions with endometriosis. I am scheduled to speak with one of their on-staff physicians in the coming weeks to see about an alternative for the livers support booster.

I will then be checking in every month as each bottle is a 30-day supply to show you the effects that Nutrafol is having with me – or if there is no effect at all! Make sure you follow me on Instagram (@ms_bella_daniela) to get updates as they happen with my hair journey!!

Inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol? Have you tried other growth plans? Comment down below!

Hair Care – Repairing Damage

In yesterday’s post, we discussed some hair masks and a scrub that helps detoxify the scalp. While all of these products help the hair through moisture retention or protein sealing the hair shaft, there is a different type of product that helps strengthen damaged strands! It isn’t a miracle cure by any means, but it does overtime reverse the damage caused by bleaching, over-styling or heat styling. It does contain protein but works on a molecular level to repair damage versus a more superficial remedy. And again, this is good for ALL hair types though I know my fellow Curly Girls swear by this the most.

Introducing…

Now this is the 3rd step in what was originally a 3-step series of which the first two are only available to salon professionals. Bond Perfector (also known as Number 3 or No. 3) is available for at-home use and does work by itself overtime, though combining it with the benefits of the bond multiplier (No. 1) and bond perfector (No. 2) yields even better results and more rapidly.

Recently, the Olaplex company has added additional products that help strengthen, repair, and reverse damage.
Now I know you read in the prior paragraph about No. 1 and No. 2 and thought – “shampoo and conditioner…really now?” BUT No. 1 and No. 2 are not the shampoo and conditioner products – that is why they have to be applied by a professional. Recently, Olaplex introduced No. 4 and No. 5 which are the shampoo and conditioner products, respectively. However they are not standard cleansing products but rather serve as bond maintenance items prolonging the benefits that 1-3 (or just 3 alone) have done.
Even more recently, No. 6 and No. 7, which are the leave-in styling creme (bond smoother) and styling oil (bonding oil), respectively, have been added to the at-home line of products. I have not tested either of these so I cannot speak to their benefits yet!

But back to my trusty bottle of No. 3… This treatment, not a conditioner or leave-in styling product, is applied as a mask to reduce breakage, strengthen hair, and improve its resiliency. Whenever I highlight my hair or notice that it is breaking a lot due to stress/heat/water damage, I use this treatment to help my hair bounce back.

How do I apply it
I always wash my hair and leave it clean and damp/dry before applying any of my treatments. Any of the products I use for daily styling can counteract the treatments/masks and prevent my hair from getting the full benefits!
Step 1: Wash & almost fully dry hair without any additional products post-shower.
Step 2: Apply the equivalent of 2-3 tbsp to the hair – you want this to saturate your hair without globbing off.
Step 3: Comb or use a Denman (all my curly girls know what this is) brush to ensure coverage throughout hair – yep, that means roots too.
Step 4: Let it sit for a minimum, though not recommended for more than 30, of 10 minutes.
Step 4a: I personally use my heat cap whenever adding a mask or treatment to help it penetrate better but this is totally optional.
Step 5: Rinse throughly. Shampoo. Condition. – Yep, unlike the masks from yesterday you shampoo/condition with this treatment.
Step 6: Style as usual.

After applying this, even after I color my hair, I notice that my hair is softer, more supple, and stronger. It does not weight my hair down because it is a treatment that bonds to the hair itself and doesn’t just coat the outer layer.

And if you doubt its benefits on straight hair… My mother has VERY straight hair and has her stylist apply step 1 & 2 before she leaves the salon every time they color and/or highlight. She will then follow-up with No. 3 at home. The results have been amazing! She is shedding less, breaking less, and you can see her hair is able to handle styling (including heat) much better than before she introduced Olaplex.

So give it a try! Yes, you can buy it online or you can find a salon near you but I would not recommend buying this from other vendors (think Walmart, Amazon…) as they are not guaranteeing the product is the same as the real deal!

If you try it and have before/after pictures, please send them to me! I would love to showcase you in a future post! If you have any questions or other product suggestions, please let me know! Just comment below and I will give it a go and let you know the results – I’ll be your personal tester.

Curly Hair: Rice Water Rinse

A lot of times, curly girls, especially those that are transitions (like I did almost 7 years ago) mix up when their hair needs moisture and when it needs, and you are reading this correctly, protein. When hair is frizzy or brittle, it needs moisture. When curly hair starts to go limp and lost its definition, the hair needs protein. Sometimes, hair needs both, at the same time, and that is when multi-tasking comes into play!

Now when I say protein, I don’t mean a steak or cracking an egg (though believe it or not, that works). I meant a simpler way that could even smell delightful and bring back some of the luster while bringing back definition as well! You may have seen it all over the internet, but I tried this method first hand and the results were quite impressive. I am talking about a rice water rinse.

The first time I heard about this, I laughed because why would I put that murky water on my clean hair and expect any good results? But after diving head first into the YouTube abyss, I decided the worst that could happen is that I needed to wash my hair again. So I gave it a go!

I will be honest that I have only done this only a handful of times to date because my hair is protein sensitive so once a month is more than enough for me.

Side bar: How do I know my hair is protein sensitive? Because when I overload my hair with protein, albeit through masks, rinses, or my everyday products, my hair does the reverse of what it is supposed to do and goes limp -almost wavy. And it starts to feel straw-like. I reverse this boo-boo by washing and doing a moisture treatment. Think of moisture and protein like pH levels – on what would be acidic would be protein and what is base would be moisture. You just need to find your happy middle (which may or may not be “7”).

So what did I do? What did I need? How did it turn out? Keep reading!

First things first, you need: an airtight jar (you could use a mason jar but make sure it is a good size -not just a standard overnights oat size); distilled or filtered water; a cup of rice (or more depending on length); and essential oils (or my little secret).

In the couple of trials I did, I did not notice a difference between the two different types – first time I used brown basmati rice and the second time I used white rice. I suppose the type of rice you use is personal preference.

I prepared my rice water by rinsing the rice. Yes, that means I ran the rice under running water (while in the colander) to remove the major impurities. Once the water started coming out clear-ish, I was ready to prepare the rice water rinse.

I placed the cup of rice into the mason jar and added three cups of distilled water. Now this is the step where you can add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance, but because I am sensitive to smells and did not want to disrupt the experiment, I opted to add 1/4 of a cup of my favorite rose water (I use this for cooking mostly but the scent is just amazing) which I inserted a photo below for reference.

al wadi rose water

Then just simply seal up the jar and put it in a dark, dry place – like a cupboard, for at least 24 hours but ideally no more than 36. Once you start to hit that 48 hour mark, the rice water has really fermented and will start to smell sour and will not work as well – trust me, I learned from experience!

After 24 (or so) hours, you are now able to transfer that rice water to a spray bottle or a bowl. I personally opted for the bowl method because I’m also lazy, but that is personal preference! Then you can chuck out the rice. And no, you cannot use that rice again and truthfully a rice water rinse should be a one-time use situation for optimal results even if you refrigerate; yes, refrigeration stops the fermentation but the potency also diminishes.

Now be forewarned – that rinse will be COLD even if it is at room temperature. What I did is I start to dunk my clean (after shampooing but before conditioner) hair in the bowl and watched it soak up the water. I then poured the remaining water on my roots and massaged everything in using my scalp massage brush.

Again, I will tell you that I have done this more than once and tried several different methods with the first being the more successful (I attribute the second to the fact that I let the rice sit for 3 days).

I finished my shower routine and rinsed some of the water out. I did leave some of the rice water in my hair, almost like conditioner. I then detangled outside of the shower and applied my normal products (this time was a Ouidad/DevaCurl combo).

And these are the results…before diffusing and after.

Yeah…no make-up or filter. Sorry! But that definition on the right… That makes up for it!

Conclusion? The rice water rinsing works…and at a minimal cost! But only if you need protein and are not sensitive. You need to also make sure you have the right amount of moisture in your hair.

So tell me…have you tried rice water rinses? What has your experience been? And if you haven’t, do you want to?

Hair Health: Righteous Roots

Many of you may know by now that I have curly hair that sometimes looks like 2C, sometimes 3A, and sometimes 3B… If you don’t know what that means, I have curly hair that sometimes is with a looser pattern and sometimes it looks like I wrapped my hair around a cork screw!

But one thing that you may not know is that I am the only one in my family with not straight hair. And no, it is not because I am adopted or switched at birth because I otherwise am a spitting image of my mother, but some genetic fluke decided that I would have curls instead of lustrous (and dare I say more easily manageable) hair. In fact, my mom has such straight hair that even if you try to curl it, pin it, put it in a ponytail, or really style it in any way, within an hour it is out and straight.

So what am I getting at? While my family and I do not have the same hair pattern (my husband leans towards 3C/4A which is tight curls to kink), we all have the same wants with our hair (well, maybe not my husband on everything). We want volume, definition, health, shine, and growth. We do not want to settle for hair falling out or dry, brittle, lifeless locks.

Yes, I do use a heck of a lot more products than my mother and I use different curly hair products than my husband, but there is some definite overlap if we want the same results and we want to use products that are good for us – not chalk full of chemicals than only a chemist could pronounce (even a biologist by trade such as myself cannot pronounce half of these items). We do not want parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, alcohols, silicone, or formaldehyde. And in my case, because I have sensitive skin, I want no or natural only scents – no perfumes!

One product that we are all using, daily, and have seen a tremendous change in our hair is Righteous Roots Oil ($15/bottle).

Ingredients (per the company’s website): COCOS NUCIFERA OIL (COCONUT), RICINUS COMMUNIS (JAMAICAN BLACK CASTOR OIL), OLEACEAE OIL (OLIVE), PERSEA AMERICANA MILL OIL (AVOCADO), VITIS VINIFERA OIL (GRAPESEED), SESAMUM INDICUM OIL (SEASAME), MENTHA PIPERITA OIL (PEPPERMINT), MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA LEAF OIL (TEA TREE), SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS SEED OIL (JOJOBA), ARGANIA SPINOSA OIL (ARGAN), ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS OIL (ROSEMARY)

This company blew me away when they were not afraid to list their ingredients on their website and on their product. The more I read, the more I realized this was all natural. And after I tried in on myself, everyone in the family was required to give it a try (with a nightly scalp massage of course). Low and behold, each member of the family (straight, curly, or kinky patterns) all noticed hair growth even in that almost annoying baby hair and length. Oddly enough our hair started to get darker too when it started to grow out. It detangled my hair with ease and smelled wonderful without irritating my scalp or rubbing off on everything around me. It also helps me break the cast formed by gels and leaves my hair looking shiny and healthy!

In fact, we ended up ordering 3 additional bottles after just breaking into the first one because we never want to run out! I only use 6 drops per night while my mom uses no more than 4, and my husband uses 8-10. We are just about to finish our first bottle.

Now my only caution is, especially if you have straight hair or are trying to go an extended period before wash day (I know we all dread that because it is a whole day affair for curly girls), is that this can start to coat your hair and leave it feeling oily. This happens to me around day 5 and for my mom around day 3. So how do you wash it – with shampoo like always, right? No. Not this time. There are two tricks on washing your hair when it is super oily albeit through the overuse of this hair oil or other reasons:

  1. Use your shampoo on dry hair. That’s right, do not jump immediately under the water when you are going to wash but rather apply shampoo to your dry hair. This will bond with the oil and allow it to be rinsed off versus the water “mixing”, or better yet coating, with the oil and creating an oilier situation. Once you rubbed the shampoo in, rinse, and repeat your normal process.
  2. Use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a rinse. Using a bottle or bowl, depending how you want to apply the rinse, mix 1 part ACV to 2 parts water. Then you can rinse and massage this mixture in your hair before applying conditioner in the shower. I do not recommended shampooing after an ACV rinse because it will be super drying.

I am partial for the latter of the two when I have the time, because it helps my hair look and feel shiny and strong, but when I am short on time, the first option works well.

I will have some status photos up soon so you can see first hand on how effective this product is for all of our hair! But in the meantime, do not hesitate to buy a bottle of your own and try to carve out 5 minutes for yourself and massage a little but of Righteous Roots on to your scalp at night and I can almost promise you will see a difference!

If you take the leap of faith and give this product a try, leave a comment below and share your experience!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. Links and images are not my property and are not affiliate codes.