I've been known to randomly poke around Amazon in search of unknown beauty products that could potentially change my life.  This morning, I stumbled on a wonderful little gem and I couldn't be any happier.

The actual product itself is manufactured by a well known Japanese beauty brand.  In fact, they are the makers of one of the most popular cult facial cleansing oils on the market.  It just so happened that they also carry a line of "after shower hair products."  These items are specifically made for application post shower.

We already know the value of adding product to damp skin post shower.  Applying an oil/lotion to wet skin enhances our skin's moisture retention levels in a wonderful way. Why not apply this same principle to our hair routine?  Thanks to the inspiration I received from DHC, I may have found a way to replicate the perfect DIY after shower hair oil recipe.
The after shower hair treatment is a simple oil based product applied to wet hair to retain moisture, prevent frizz and add shine.  The timing of the application is what matters most.  While the hair is wet, the cuticle layers are slightly lifted to absorb the water particles.  This can be a dangerous time for our hair because lifted cuticles are more susceptible to damage and breakage.  But, on the other hand, we can leverage that situation for our benefit.

The folks who reviewed DHC's After Shower Hair Oil Treatment claimed to experience softer, shinier, smoother hair post use.  Another wonderful benefit that I'm super-excited about is how this product also manages frizz.  In mid-July, frizzy hair is our greatest enemy.  If this product can free us of this burden, I'm here for it!
Just before I made the purchase, I took a quick look at the ingredient list.  At first glance, I noticed that the primary ingredients were silicones.  That's understandable since most frizz elimination products utilize silicones to block moisture and humidity from disrupting the strands.  Some people tend to avoid 'cones because they coat the cuticles promoting product buildup.

As I continued to survey the ingredient list, I noticed the after bath oil also contained squalane, olive oil, shea butter and vitamin E.  That's when I realized that I could create a quick DIY version.  For my first experiment, I kept it simple by mixing a little squalane and baobab oil.  Squalane has a similar consistency and feel as silicone hair serums but it's all natural.  Baobab is my favorite oil at the moment so I figured that pairing them together would be a winning combination.

First I misted my hair with soft water mixed with a little leave-in.  Once damp, I ran a little of my blended hair oil into the strands. Immediately, I noticed the difference.  My hair was smooth, shiny and moisturized.  I've instantly fallen in love with this hair oil concoction.  Although I'm not sure it will repel humidity, long term,  as well as a product with silicones, I feel like this combo gives a similar initial result and I'm very happy about that.  Next up, I try this on wash day after applying leave-in.  I might still pick up DHC's formula for those times when I need that extra bit of humidity fighting power.  Also, silicones have heat protectant qualities which makes it a great product to use prior to blow drying/flat ironing.  But, until then, this DIY version is absolutely perfect.

One of the most important aspects of a successful hair journey is our ability to retain length.  Even if you aren't trying to have hip length hair, retention serves as an indicator of how solid our hair routines are.  If we're constantly loosing length, there's a problem somewhere.   Either we need to improve our products or our practices.

If you still haven't quite yet grasped the proper techniques to help you retain length, you've come to the right place.  Because today, I'm featuring a video that details the regimen of women who have truly mastered the art of length retention.
These woman are native to the country of Chad. They pride themselves in perfecting a ritual that results in hair that doesn't break.  Because they use ingredients native to their surroundings, we can't duplicate exactly what they do step by step.  But.....we can certainly pick up a few tips that integrate well with our routines.

First, I'll share the takeaways learned from my observations.  Then you can watch the video for yourself to see if you can learn a trick or two.

These Basara Arabs pride themselves in growing tailbone length hair.  As such, they've perfected the exact regimen that pretty much eliminates breakage.  One key factor is a blend of locally harvested ingredients that, combined with the application method, keeps their hair "extremely hydrated and moist."  Since we can't readily access these ingredients, we won't focus much on them. Essentially, they practice a variation of the L.C.O method. But instead of using a cream, they substitute with a finely powder.  In essence, they apply a liquid (water), powders ground from grains, and an oil/hair butter.

What interests me most is the application process.  I feel like this process is super important.  In my own experience, when I take the time to painstakingly apply product to my hair, it flourishes.  While watching the video, I was reminded of the strand ceremony that I practiced years ago.  It takes me a long time to do a proper strand ceremony but, when I'm consistent, I'm rewarded mightily.

Since these women don't really have a weekly wash routine, they perform a "strand ceremony" while they moisturize and seal.  It's during this process that they are able to create unbreakable hair.  When you watch the video, pay attention to how much time and attention is given to a section of hair. Every strand is engaged in the process.

If I'm being completely honest, I have to confess that I don't give my strands the level of attention I should when moisturizing.  That's probably one of the biggest areas of opportunity I have.

 When you watch the video, I want you to notice something else.  If you pay close attention when the product is applied, you can see the woman is smoothing it into her hair.  Years ago, I came up with a theory that smoothing conditioner into the hair can enhance the results in a similar way that smoothing relaxer creates straighter hair.

Our hair is porous and very receptive to the products we apply. If it can draw water particles from the air, it can certainly take in the products we layer on.  But, more importantly, if we lightly massage the product into the strand, perhaps we create an even greater impact.  Of course, this is just another one of my crazy theories but I'm pretty confident that there's a little bit of truth to it.  I've smoothed in conditioner after application and liked the results.  But I've never thought of smoothing in my moisturizer/oil until now.

Once all of the product is applied, the women braid their hair for 5 days until the process is repeated again.  This is the epitome of protective styling.  We all know that protective styling must be a factor if we are to retain major length.  Without it, our efforts will be severely hampered.

 Their routines are simple but super effective.  How do we know? Well because they don't utilize the same process on their bangs.  These women wear two tiny braids near their hairline.  These two braids remain short because they don't undergo the same rigorous retention process.  I'm sure this is intentionally done for aesthetic reasons.  But it just goes to show you that they aren't blessed magically long hair.  It's a result of consistent moisture and regular protective styling.

Take a look at the video and see if you pick up on any helpful tips.
A couple years ago I instituted the micro trimming process into my hair journey.  Basically, I trim minuscule amounts of hair on a monthly or every other month basis.  One positive benefit I've enjoyed from implementing this method is thicker ends overall.  Micro trimming has been really good to me.  So good that I've pretty much avoided having to do a mini-chop to salvage my ends.

While I'm grateful to have not suffered any major setbacks, I'm strongly considering doing a mini chop anyway.  I'm really trying to convince myself of why I should do a "pre-summer trim" and these are the reasons why I think it makes total sense.

In my mind, the most obvious motivation for trimming is for the aesthetics.  Hair always looks and feels amazing after a trim no matter how much damage it had beforehand.  In the winter we can get away with hiding undesirable ends, but in the summer, I actually want healthy looking hair.  The easiest way to instantly have healthy hair is to remove those lackluster ends.

Summer is all about glowing skin and cute outfits.  To bring everything together, we need our hair to be on point.

Another reason to favor my argument to trim now is because of our hair growth patterns.  As you may know,  hair growth rate starts to increase during spring and summer.  One thing that sometimes keeps me from trimming is missing out on length.  Trimming just before an annual growth spurt might be the perfect compromise.  We get to enjoy healthy hair while it grows back at a faster rate.  We'll barely even miss that length.  

The last and most powerful reason to trim pre-summer is for the retention possibilities.  Again, everything is about the timing.  Trimming our hair now means greater retention over the next 6-9 months.  You guys know this.  Notice how breakage practically comes to a complete stop after a decent trim?  Let's use that to our advantage.  Let's enjoy a summer where our hair looks amazingly healthy, as it grows faster, while retaining as much length as possible.
Cozy winter scarf + Jacket
My last wash day experience started off like normal.  It all began with a pre-poo using coconut oil. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I waited way too long to wash and was a bit fearful about the possible consequences I'd have to face.

As I gently divided each section to apply the coconut oil, I was pleasantly surprised by how little breakage I was seeing. I hadn't done a protein treatment in a while but my hair was still doing A- OK. 

Everything seemed to be going exceptionally well. Even while I cleansed the shedding was minimal and there were no signs of excessive breakage.

I was in the clear......or so I thought.
After stepping out of the shower, I began the arduous process of applying conditioner section by section.   Recently, I recommitted to being diligent with my deep conditioning practices.  This meant that I'd reinstitute the strand ceremony process.

As I painstakingly applied conditioner, I noticed something quite alarming.  Suddenly, I could see tiny broken strands as I removed the shed hair.

What was happening?  Why is my hair breaking all of the sudden?

The answer is simple.  The combination of wet strands + manipulation + unconditioned hair = recipe for disaster.

Basically, I was employing heavy manipulation at the time when my hair is the weakest.  Earlier, during the pre-poo, I didn't experience much breakage because the strands weren't bloated with water.  As you may know, water molecules are notorious for lifting the cuticle layer (hence why we experience frizz in high humidity).  Our strands are slightly swollen after washing which leaves them highly vulnerable.

Suddenly I start to manhandle the hair while it's in fragile condition.  It makes sense why I was seeing broken strands seemingly out of nowhere.  I had to think fast.  The solution came after a couple of moments of reflection.  I needed to pre-condition my hair before actually conditioning it.

Stay with me here......

 I ran to my hair product storage area and grabbed the bottle of Grund ProDesign's Protein Leave-In.  I've written about the glory of this product in the past.  Basically, it strengthens my hair without ever leaving behind any protein related stiffness.   To me, it feels like a hydrating leave-in that also fortifies.

After grabbing the bottle, I sprayed a little to each section before applying conditioner.  It was like a miracle had taken place.  The breakage reduced dramatically and detangling was a breeze.  I also found myself having to use much less product on each section because my hair already felt pre-conditioned.

The pre-conditioning step is a must for me.  I rarely comb my hair during the week and the only time I ever experience excessive breakage is on wash day.  All that manipulation of wet hair is a deal breaker.  If I  systematically reduced wash day breakage, this could bring my retention to new levels. After reflecting, I came to the conclusion that pre-conditioning could actually enhance the deep conditioning process.  It's all about penetration and I'm pretty sure that a leave-in can better penetrate than my thick conditioners.  I might be conditioning the hair on 2 levels.  The leave-in penetrates, while the creamy conditioner coats the exterior.

  I plan on experimenting with variations of this process such as misting with leave-in and allowing it to sit on the hair for a few minutes before adding conditioner.  I should also mention that I still use a leave-in after rinsing conditioner prior to styling.  Basically, prior to any heavy manipulation, I pre-condition.  Yes, it's an extra step to an already long process, but this step is so powerful that I can't afford to skip it.

I already have several flat irons in my arsenal. But yesterday I made the last minute decision to purchase yet another one.  This new flat iron will come into my life because it's quite different from everything else I own.
For one, this is new iron is 2 inches in width.  I'm hoping this cuts my flat ironing time in half.  The biggest draw that made me click the purchase button is that this iron has infrared technology.  I'm a huge fan of infrared in haircare.  Years ago, I picked up the Jose Eber infrared iron. Basically, it uses infrared technology to boost the effectiveness of your favorite conditioning products.  The conditioning tool works great. But, to be honest, I really don't use it enough.

Spring is fast approaching. Soon, I'll be dealing with excessive humidity and frizz.  I'm looking for something to help seal my cuticle layer.  An infrared flat iron may be just the thing I need.  I sincerely hope that the combination of ceramic plates, infrared light, and the right heat protectant can seal my strands without causing too much damage.

I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that a flat iron with infrared capabilities will give my hair that slight edge.

While researching, I also learned about the existence of infrared hair dryers.  Many of them are referred to as hair processors (used during a coloring treatment).  I'm not fully certain if they actually have the ability to completely dry the hair or if they simply enhance the coloring process by allowing the color to penetrate deeper.  Even if it doesn't fully dry the hair. It seems like a viable option for a "deeper" deep conditioning session.  Infrared uses an inside-out approach which allows the hair to heat evenly.   Basically, it breaks apart the water molecules on the surface of the hair for fast absorption into the strand.  The end result is softer, more manageable hair.

I'm not gonna lie, I want one.  Or, at the very least, I want to experience it.   I've got my eye on a handheld infrared dryer but I rarely blow dry so one of those infrared processing dryers would be ideal.   If I find out that they actually can dry the hair in a healthier way, I'll definitely have one before the year ends.