I ended up inadvertently leaving the my box braids in for three weeks and it took another week after that to get them all out. Granted, I did take MANY breaks, but still. I’m glad to be rid of them. Frankly, they got really old really quick, but that may be due to the fact that I didn’t really do any styles with them. My hair was kept in a top knot the majority of the time so in that sense, it turned out to be a true protective style; no handling outside of washing and moisturizing.
My hair is just about MBL and I’m superhero excited about it! I believe I will be able to classify it as a solid MBL by my 4-year nappiversary this October. I’m roughly 5″ away from waist length, my fourth length goal. When I reach that length, will have my very first natural hair salon visit and have my hair straightened to celebrate. From there, I will be working toward my final length goal, hip length. I have to be consistent with protective styling now and keep my hair stretched to avoid tangles and breakage. Expect another protective style challenge soon and I would love it if some of our readers would join in!
During the duration of my braids, I noted that my hair holds moisture better with mango butter or shea butter when in braids. They also work well for my hair for general moisturizing, BUT I find my hair is left greasy feeling on the first day after application. Soft and moisturized, but pretty greasy and I HATE that. The up side is that shea/mango butter leaves my hair good and moisturized for over a week, which for me means fewer fairy knots and easier detangling, which begets minimal handling and increased manageability. Always a major plus.
The recent use of mango butter–and yeah, maybe a little boredom–led me to do a some kitchen chemistry with mango butter and all the other products I use in my hair. The theory is that if all of my favorite natural ingredients work well on my hair when applied separately, then why not combine them into a butter or cream that will function as an all-in-one product? I softened some mango butter in the microwave, mixed in vegetable glycerin, Suave Naturals coconut and water lily conditioners, castor oil, and a scoop of Eco Styler gel in a blender until it was of a cake batter consistency. I could only make a sample size (about 2.6 ounces) since I’m in desperate need of restocking a few staple items, but it doesn’t matter since I mixed it with the intention of a little going a long way. Once the ingredients were well blended, I poured the mixture in a jar and let it cool overnight. I wanted it to have more of a whipped butter consistency, but I ended up with more of a cold cream cheese consistency; it’s solid like a butter, but much softer and it melts faster. This is the final result:
The goal is a homemade product that moisturizes, softens, seals, holds, and is weighty enough to elongate my curls a little. I thoroughly rinsed my hair with Suave Naturals coconut conditioner and applied my styling butter as a sealer, twisted my hair, and finally pinned the twists down to keep them stretched. The results were a pretty soft hold and a slightly waxy feel, almost like rubbing wax paper. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. I think I need to experiment and tweak the ingredients for the perfect balance. I also think that because I didn’t do it on squeaky clean, freshly washed hair, the residual mango butter may have given it that slightly waxy touch. I’ll try the current mix again on freshly washed hair to give it a solid go. I did have a banging hair day, though:
My experimenting didn’t stop there. While I do have my staple products together, I now focus on more efficient application of them. After two days of waxiness, I “co-washed” again with warm water and deviated slightly from my usual process by applying SN coconut conditioner, rinsing half of it out, and then immediately applying castor oil and a teeny bit more conditioner, and twisting. I then twirled the ends with a little more castor oil and pinned my twists down to stretch them and let them air dry. I essentially did the LOC method, introduced to me by Tai, but modified it to more of a LCOC. Here are my results:
Overall, my hair feels soft and relatively light. It’s shiny and smooth and the curls are supple. My only complaint is the separation frizz. The curls were doing their thing, but the frizzing, particularly at my ends, from separating overpowered them, making my hair look like a curly poof. I forgot to apply gel! If you look at the pinned twists and their shine and smoothness, it looks like it’s going to be another banging hair day, but I think the extra castor oil and lack of gel on my ends, while leaving my curled ends springy and velevety soft, caused my ends to stick a little bit during the unravelling process, leading to frizzing. A little Eco Styler would have eliminated 96% of that frizz and my ends would have remained intact. The front came out wonderful as it normally does, but that’s the looser, more manageable section of my hair. Perhaps for the purposes of moisturizing my ends, I should mix castor oil with a carrier like olive or coconut oil to thin it out so it won’t have my ends sticking together when separating. I finger detangled as well, and honestly, finger detangling is no match for a good detangling brush. That said, I’ll have to whip that out next time.
On the flip side, the whole process was so quick and simple (and you know how much I love that) that I could do it in maybe 1 to 1.5 hours if I sat under a fan or used the blow dryer on cool. That’s like breakneck speed for long natural hair care lol. It’s been a day or two since I tried this application method and the frizz has reduced a bit on its own due to the humectants in my hair (it’s been hot and humid here) and my ends are clumping together and reforming the curls. So my hair isn’t dying without gel, but it certainly could use some. To salvage my hair on that first day (and probably for the best), I scooped it into a high, sort of messy bun and decided to leave it be for a few days. I could use some protective styling anyway since I’ve been naughtily wearing my hair out too frequently. Would I be wrong for doing that curly baby hair thing Thelma Evans did on Good Times?
New Videos Coming Soon
I’ve been away from YouTube for a good lil minute, but I’ll be back with a super quick and perhaps slightly shocking product review and a few protective style tutorials verrrry soon. Peace & Love