Last year, I listed a few intentions that I wanted to realize in 2015.  One of them was to improve the health of my hair.  Since I was no longer burdened down with traveling and hectic work schedules, I felt confident that this would be the year.

But my business required more attention than I first imagined.  And instead of placing lots of focus on my regimen, I rationalized that I could just leave my hair alone, while focusing on other more important tasks.  By leaving the hair alone, I thought I’d wake up at the end of the year having gained multiple inches of length.  
It wasn’t until recently that I finally woke up and and seen the light.  What I was doing was not at all protective styling.  It was neglect, plain and simple.  And my hair paid for it.  It’s easy to think that only good things can come from leaving the hair alone. But’s that’s not always the case. That’s why I want to have a conversation about the difference between the two.  That way, whenever we put our hair in a protective style, we actually reap the benefits and it doesn’t turn into a set back.
Tip #1: 
Prepare the hair before hand.
Protective styles can serve two purposes.  First, you retain major length if done correctly.  Secondly, you can nurse your hair from damage, restoring it back to health.    But in order two realized these outcomes, you’ve got to plan ahead of time.  Are you trying to thicken your ends?  Is your goal to regrow your edges? Or are you trying manage breakage?  Whatever the answer, you want to ask yourself “how do I make sure that weeks/months from now, I’ll have what I want?”  Don’t be like me and just put your hair out of the way out of convenience. Be thoughtful in the process and you’ll be glad you did.
Tip #2:
Choose the right style 
Bunning, for me, isn’t the ideal protective style.  You can read more about it here.  But for some, bunning will bring about multiple inches of additional length.  It doesn’t work for me because I tend to go into neglect mode, once my hair is a bun.  But, last week, I tried cornrows as a protective style and loved it!  I kept the braids nice and hydrated and I had zero urge to take down the cornrows until wash day.  Best of all, there were no major pre-wash tangles to contend with.  I look forward to repeating this style over and over again.  I still wear a bun, but I realized that this isn’t an effective protective style (for me) so I don’t over do it. 
The rule of thumb that one could use to determine if the style is right for you is this:  If the negative impact to the hair is minimal during the take down, you’ve chosen a  great protective style.  
Tip #3:  How long is too long?
Last week, I completed a successful 7 day protective style. That’s wonderful but I really need to find something that lasts a little longer.  A style that could effectively last 2-3 weeks would be ideal.  If you have some protective styles that can last a month or more, go for it!  But be wary of crossing that fine line into the land of regret.  Matted hair will rob you of your progress in a blink of an eye (believe me, I know).  There will always lots of shed hair after weeks of protective styling, but if you let it get to the point of matting, you’ve either chosen  the wrong style, or left the style in way longer than you should’ve.
We’ve got a little over 90 days left in year.  That’s plenty of time to retain a bit more length. If there’s one skill we need to master this year, let it be the ability our ability to maximize the art of protective styling. That is officially my top priority for the remainder of 2015.  And I look forward the results of doing so.  

That’s it.  I’ve neglected my hair journey long enough.  It’s time to kick it into high gear so I can make up for lost time before 2016 comes along.  A reader asked me a great question via email that really got me thinking.  She inquired about the products/technique(s) that I’ve learned over the years which have been the most successful.

Looking back, I really enjoyed the time when I was eating for beauty benefits.  I purposefully started off each day with highly nutritious foods (or drinks) that had a wonderful impact on my hair and skin.  I’ve veered way off the path and I’m now making an effort to return.  Breakfast is the perfect place to start because it’s easy to carve out a routine.  So, I’m going back to my roots with the intention of making it a part of a daily routine.

  First I start with the main course which consists of organic oatmeal.  Oatmeal is great because I can load it with nutritional extras.  My go-to addition is black strap molasses.  Black strap molasses (BSM) is loaded with trace mineral such as copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, & B6.  Many boast of how BSM was able to help reverse their grey hairs back to it’s natural color.  I have more grey hairs than I’m comfortable with so I hope to experience wonderful results in that area as well.  Along with molasses, I make sure that my oatmeal contains flax seeds for omega 3s and fiber.   This is just a start, I plan on loading up my oatmeal with other goodies once I get into the swing of things.

Prior to enjoying my meal, I’ll probably kick things off with a cup of warm lemon water paired with collagen supplements.  When I first introduced collagen into my diet, I noticed an immediate difference, so I know it works.  With every year that passes, our collagen production reduces.  We can’t stand idly by and allow that to happen.  In order to complete the collagen triad, I pair lemon water (vitamin C) and silica from Beautifully Bamboo tea.   Collagen, silica and vitamin C are thee best of friends. You need all three to stimulate collagen production.  Combining all three is a very smart move if you want to nourish your skin from within.  And let’s not forget how wonderful bamboo tea is for hair growth and fabulous nails.

Next to the collagen supplements is a dose of ultra concentrated fermented cod liver oil (FCLO).  If you’re asking yourself, “what on earth is fermented cod liver oil,” then please check these posts out.  FCLO is a game changer.  Then I remembered that I still had a small stash of chlorella supplements and tossed them into the mix.   I’ll keep fruit as a mid morning snack and sip on tea and lemon water throughout the day.

It’s a start, but I’m really happy with where I’m at so far.  There’s no doubt that if this becomes a regular part of my morning, the results will be amazing.  I’ll keep experimenting with adding a protein source and maybe a few other amazing supplements.

 And to think that I used to skip breakfast.

A few days ago, we discussed the topic of being polished.  One of the Laws of being polished was to have our hair on point.  Trimmed ends and healthy strands are key, but what about those edges?  Tamed edges are a must if we want have a polished look.  I was one of those people who never really did anything to groom my edges. Then one day I decided enough was enough and it was time to find a product that could lay these edges down.

The problem is that I had no idea where to start.  So I did what came naturally. I asked you guys on the Facebook page.  And thanks to your responses,  I have a few products to add to my shopping list.
Aveda Control Finishing Paste
Aveda Control finishing paste with organic flax seed. 
Price: $30.00
Feature(s):  “Leaves hair pliable enough to play with.”  Provides a medium hold and contains all natural flax seed.  
Argan Oil Perfect Edges
Argan Oil Perfect Edges
Feature(s): Contains Argan oil. Moisturizes and gives shine without flaking.
Price: $5.00 
Hicks Transformations Edges
Hicks Transformation Edges
Features: Non-greasy, non-flaky. Rinses easily 
Price: $12.00
Design Essentials Sleep Edge Control
Design Essentials Edge Control
Features: A moisturizing firm hold. Intense sheen to polish all hairstyles.
Price $11.50 
These edge control products were the most recommended thanks to everyone’s feedback.  My experience with edge control products in the past hasn’t been successful.  Years ago, when I had less texture than I do now, my hair responded well to Profectiv’s Root Health Anti-Dryness Strengthener.   Although it isn’t really an edge control product, the soothing cream helped calm my scalp while nourishing and taming my baby hairs.  It was like a moisturizer for my edges.  I may try it again.  But, who knows, maybe now I need the help of a thicker gel to give me the results I’m looking for.   
Either way, I won’t stop until I find a staple edge control product.  Especially now that I’ve decided to experiment protective styling in braids for a while.  I’m open to any other suggestions.  Please share your experience.