Cool Hair Gadgets & Things for Natural/Curly Hair

Natural hair is hard, especially to say its..natural. Much like how natural breastfeeding is, it’s great, but its not easy, it’s a labor of love! There are a few things that I have discovered along the way to help make things a little easier or manageable that I wanted to share.

First up, let’s talk detangling. I love using the denman brush or a variation of it. It combs through the hair without combing the curls completely out. In fact, on my hair, it makes them look really nice and springy, so it’s something you can even use as part of the last step in your wash n go process. It does not have the balls at the end of the epoxy balls at the end of each bristles. Those are supposed to protect the scalp from abrasions, but my hair gets caught up in them. These bristles are soft and glide through the hair nicely without disturbing the scalp.

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Since we are discussing brushes, another brush I like is the tangle teezer. Like the denman, it really combs through the curls nicely. I do not find it as a good detangling brush, but it’s great to use after you have combed it through with a wide toothed comb as it puts the spring back in the curls.

I have shared this before, but I LOVE my steamer. I wish I could use it more and will plan to go back to using it regularly. I noticed a huge difference in the hydration of my hair when I was using it on a weekly basis. Check out this article that details the 5 benefits of steaming natural hair. This is my favorite out of the entire list.

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In the winter, especially, a diffuser is critical. I have 2. The DevaCurl one, that is really just too fancy for me to even understand how to use (smile) and a “drug store” ceramic diffuser (linking a similar one here). In addition to that, I have a universal diffuser piece that I use for travel, it fits okay on most hotel blow dryers. It fits much easier in a carry-on suitcase vs a full-on dryer with attachment. I am going to make an effort to use the DevaCurl diffuser/dryer more, and then I can give you a proper review. For now, I can endorse my “drug store'“ diffuser as it gets the job done. The key now is timing, I usually use it when my hair has had about 30 minutes or so to air dry. My hair is high porosity, so with products in it, it takes FOREVER to dry. It also helped when I had a blow dry lotion to help reduce frizz from drying (carol’s daughter made a great one, but it is discontinued, so sad). If you know of one, please message or drop a comment below. The best hair dryer I have ever used, is the DevaCurl professional dryer. I believe only salon professionals can access it, and I get to enjoy the goodness when I go get my hair professionally done by Emma of Sweet Natural Styles.

The good ol’ dome dryer is a must for me as well. When I do protein treatments or want to give my hair a really good deep condition, I use it (or steamer, but usually use the dome dryer 1-2 times a month). Plus if you decide you want to do a roller set or braid out, it’s nice to have these handy. Another thing they are handy for is for babies. When my youngest was an infant, he was a fussy one. The sound of the dryer and me holding him under it on low heat, was a perfect cocktail to soothe his fussiness.

Bonus if you’re into heat (haha), I love the wand. It gives the best ocean waves/curls, and they last long. I think it beats a curling iron, hands down.

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What are some of your go-to hair gadgets/accessories? I’d love to check it out.

As always, thanks for reading! XOXO

My Top 5 Deep Conditioners/Hair Treatments

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Deep conditioning is an integral part of keeping those strands healthy! From what I have learned, deep conditioners should either add moisture and/or add protein to your hair. Professionals have recommended that deep conditioning should be done at minimum once a week. As a busy mom, it can be a challenge to find time, but thank God for naps and my husband. It allows me to take some time to get things done for myself. I have put together a few of my all time favorite deep conditioners/hair treatments! Check them out and let me know if you have tried any or plan to try some.

Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment Moisturizer

It is recommended to be used for severely damaged hair. It is not one you would use on a regular basis, probably more of a product you would use every 4-6 weeks depending on the amount of damage. I used this when I had quite a bit of breakage and color damage. It helped me a great deal after my first son when I was experiencing a ton of hair loss. While the hair loss is normal postpartum, it can be traumatizing. I noticed less hair loss. Follow the directions completely for this one. Once you put the protein on, it dries into the hair, and it gets very hard. Whatever you do, DO NOT attempt to comb it. I follow this up with a conditioner once the two steps are complete. I will say I noticed more results on the anti-breakage end than the moisturizing end. Overall, I think it does a great job at doing what it you expect. (Note: You can buy a one time application packet from sally’s beauty supply or amazon).

Pure Silk Protein Deep Moisture Treatment

This is a good protein conditioner that can be used on a daily basis, but I typically use it every 2 weeks. It smells great and I notice it leaves my hair softer. I do notice reduced shedding and it feels a little more manageable. Like the other protein treatment, I did not notice DEEP moisturizing as it described. This one works best when the steamer is used. All in all it’s a great one to try. I just wanted to note, the steamer I linked is a lower cost to the one I actually have. Here is the link to the one I have.

Carol’s Daughter Rhassoul Clay

Out of all the conditioners/treatments mentioned in this blog, this one leaves my hair feeling the softest and makes it feel the most moisturized. The downfall is that I was using this weekly, and it was WAY too much for my hair. I think perhaps every 2 weeks would be ideal. Of course, everyone’s hair is different, but I definitely overdid it with this one. My hair was so weighed down when I was overusing it. I think it may be due to the fact that I have high porosity hair. The smell is not the best, but once you get past that, and try it, you will see results as intended. It left my hair easy to detangle as well. For application, I alternated between putting a plastic cap on it and leaving it on for 45 minutes with no heat, and then as an alternative, I would sit under my hooded dryer for 20 minutes. I rinsed it out, then applied leave in conditioner. I comb it through before putting on the cap. I comb through all products with the exception of the aphogee as it hardens the hair.

DevaCurl Heaven in My Hair

This is another great moisturizing deep conditioning option. For application, after cleansing my hair, I apply in sections and comb it through. I will then use a plastic cap and shower which creates natural steam/heat, or I will sit under the steamer for 15-20 minutes. In the past, I used this weekly. I would say the only downside to this product is the smell, it’s not the best, and it is costly. If it works well for you, it’s totally worth it though, right?

Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner

I have used this throughout my natural hair journey. My favorite thing about it is that I can use it frequently, daily if needed, and it makes my hair easy to detangle with minimal hair loss. It smells good, moisturizes, and leaves my hair feeling very soft. If you want to try it out, the cool thing is that the travel size products are easy to find. You can get them in store at Target or online. For application, I apply to my hair in 4 sections, comb it through while detangling using the denman brush, and leave on for 3-5 minutes. I rinse and then apply the leave in.

Some professional deep conditioners that must be done by a licensed professional are from Olaplex product line and Redken Chemistry line.

Photos by  My Unique Picture

Thanks for stopping by! Drop a comment below of your favorite deep conditioners or hair treatments. I am always open to trying more. Or connect with me on instagram!

XOXO

The Current Starting Line-up of my Hair Products

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Let me start by admitting that I am a product junkie. I am always searching for the latest and greatest ones out there. I have tried to tone it down some since these products are not cheap. People always ask me what products I use, and so I figured I would share here. I have a true love-hate relationship with my hair, I am working on it just being all love, but it is a struggle. It has changed a lot over the years, I guess due to color, the occasional flat ironing and I think the biggest contributor to the change is hormones.

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There are quite a few products that I LOVE, but I am providing the ones that I use on a regular basis right now in this post.

Let’s start with shampoo…oh wait, I do not use shampoo. Well very rarely, like every other week. I do not have one that I love, so let’s actually not start with this one.

Let’s try this again…conditioner, currently I am using DevaCurl One Condition. I like it because it smells good, helps to ease detangling, and you can leave some of it in. This is not in my starting line-up, but if you are looking for a good conditioner that REALLY helps with detangling, the best I have found so far is Paul Mitchell Detangler conditioner. It works wonders! Anyway, back to DevaCurl. I use this 2 times per week. I apply it and comb it through my hair using a wide tooth comb first then followed by a Denman brush. I used to only use the Denman brush, but my hair has been extra tangled. I rinse most of it out, but not all, then move on to the next step.

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For deep conditioning, I like to use the Aphogee Texture Treatment coupled this with a steam treatment. I apply this in sections, comb it through, then sit under the steamer for 15-20 minutes and then rinse it off thoroughly. I switch up my deep conditioners quite often over the years and there are a lot of good ones out there. I think this could be a whole blog post on its own. I like the smell of this one and it also restores the elasticity to my curls or waves or whatever you want to call them. (It is not as curly as it once was.) I do not deep condition enough, I wish I could do it weekly, but it’s been more like 1-2 times per month. This is my goal for this year, to do this more regularly, my hair needs it more than ever.

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A good leave-in is MAJOR. Although, I am no expert, I am pretty sure conditioning is more important, this is everything to my hair. If I forgo this, which I have before, then it makes a huge difference, major puff ball. I like my leave in to help define my curls, moisturize, and control them. My holy grail leave-in is Mixed Chicks Leave-in. I rarely go anywhere without it. My next favorite is DevaCurl Super Cream. This one is fairly new for me to use, so I cannot bump it up past Mixed Chicks just yet. In the humid summers, I am guilty of using both of these. I have high porosity hair so my hair soaks up products. I apply my leave in conditioner when my hair is soaking wet, before it starts to frizz up. Ideally it is applied in sections, or from back to front. The smaller the sections, the more chance for every strand to get the product, which means less frizz. If your hair dries super-fast, a good water spray bottle may be worth the investment or you can apply it in the shower and re-wet the sections you have not put leave-in conditioner in.

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A good gel is the cherry on top of the cake, especially if you live in a humid climate like I do. I like my gel to hold and even to crunch a little. I may be alone in this, but I want my wash and go to last a few days. It may be hard the first day but by the second and third, it is perfect and there is no more crunch. I interchange between both DevaCurl Arc Angel gel and Uncle Funky’s Curly Magic. Why you may be asking? Well Uncle Funky’s Curly Magic gives a stronger hold. I use this in the summer months and on rainy days. Arc Angel, which is the stronger gel of the 3 in the DevaCurl line (light and ultra are the others), gives me the perfect amount of hold on a regular day. It is also slightly less sticky and glides on to the hair very nicely.

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On some occasions, due to the dryness of my hair, I will use Re-Do Pre-Poo by OrganicGrow Hair Co. It is a combination of flax seed oil, avocado oil, and castor oil. You apply the oils in sections saturating the hair, leaving it on for 6-12 hours before wash. Following this you shampoo and condition. I noticed using this, it helps combat some of the dryness. I am in the process of trying out the entire OrganicGrow Hair Co High Porosity Line, but cannot give it a full review at this time.

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Bonus: If your summers get terribly humid or you want to stretch out your wash and go, a wonderful product to use is the Curl Keeper Original. It is hands down the best frizz control I have used to date. It is a clear thin liquid that you apply to your hair after you have added the leave-in and gel (should you choose to use). It seals in everything.

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Thanks for reading my blog post. I’d love to hear your comments and what products you love! Drop a comment below or on my Instagram (@ashleylillyOTM).

XOXO

I Flat Ironed My Hair After Getting a DevaCut

After months of deliberating and researching (via social media), I decided to take the plunge and get the DevaCut. A DevaCut is a method of cutting curly hair that provides shape to your hair in it’s natural state. The cut is done on dry hair with minimal product added and each individual curl is shaped. The benefit of this cut, is if you have different textures, I have 3, this gives the best shape. The part that was hard for me regarding this method of cut, is due to the fact that I flat iron my hair from time to time (about once every 3-4 months). This is an uneven cut, so I felt that I had to be committed to not flat ironing it. (Granted, if you read my last hair blog, my hair did not really need the heat on it any way). It is also just very hard for me to cut my hair in general and I am not even sure I have valid explanation for this. I will say that I am glad I went through with the cut. I went to Emma, a DevaCut/Natural Hair specialist, with Sweet Styles Natural. I wanted a more subtle approach for my first time, so she cut most of the dead ends, took a little off the bottom, and gave me longer layers with a long side bang. Removing the bad ends, helped me to detangle my perpetually tangled hair with more ease.

A few months later, I became curious as to how it would look straight. I recently took a trip to Vegas, and was adamant about not checking my bags, therefore it would be difficult to bring my products and diffuser. I typically allow it to air dry, but that takes quite a few hours. In the winter, I tend to use the diffuser a bit more due to the fact that cold weather and wet hair do not mix. I decided this trip was a good excuse to get a flat iron. It is also, always a joy to see my stylist Nyoka with Nyoka Gregory Beauty. She has been straightening my hair for years.

I have a DevaCut trim set for March (way overdue), so I did not want to get it trimmed while straightened, which is what I would typically do. I had some very fuzzy ends hanging, so she did cut them, so that things would not look too wild back there. She added some curls too just to make it look better. Overall, it was not as choppy as I expected. The ends are not very even while straight, whereas prior to DevaCut, it was straight across, but I think it looked okay and as I said, keeping it curled helped it look better. The pictures tell more of the story, so check them out.

If you are on the fence about getting a DevaCut, you should just do it. The cut does not have to be too extreme. I wear my hair more natural than flat ironed so it made sense to give it the best shape in it’s natural state. As always, thanks for reading….or looking at the pictures :).

I Got Pregnant and My Hair Changed, For the Worst

My second pregnancy in general was a struggle. The most unexpected change was my hair. It was harder to untangle, extremely dry, unable to absorb hair products, and it was as if it changed textures. I started to notice things going downhill around 5 weeks into my pregnancy, which was before I even had confirmation that I was pregnant. Around this time, I went to Austin (yes I drive 2.5 hours) to get my hair colored, by the amazing Shelly Rodriguez. I had no idea I was pregnant (I will save that story for another post), otherwise I would’ve at least waited until the 2nd or 3rd trimester. I am not entirely sure that was the source of my turmoil because it was already misbehaving by the time I sat in the chair for coloring. Once I confirmed pregnancy, I decided no more hair coloring until after the pregnancy.

The second pregnancy   Photo taken by My Unique Picture

The second pregnancy

Photo taken by My Unique Picture

 As my pregnancy progressed, it continued to get more difficult to manage. The majority of the time, I kept my hair slicked back or in lose high buns. After I had the baby, my hair was still…terrible, worse even. I decided to visit a natural stylist to get a Deva cut and to see if I could get some hair tips. In addition to my hair desperately needing the cut, she recommended a product to use for weekly deep conditioning, and to detangle my hair on a daily basis. Despite it being very difficult to invest that much time in my hair, having a newborn and an active toddler, I did the best I could to adhere to her recommendations.  My hair was still unmanageable. I sought out advice from my natural hair friends and it seemed the consensus was to adjust my diet, drink more water, and it may be attributed to hormones and age. I had a good feeling that it was most likely hormones. I had hoped after the pregnancy hormones wore off, it would be better, but I am still breastfeeding.

You may be wondering if it has gotten any better? And the answer to that is, YES, thankfully. It is not 100% back, but it is easier to manage and the curls are trying to pop through again. Here is what has helped:

  1. Low dose estrogen birth control (Note: It is not usually advised while breastfeeding but I had a HUGE oversupply that has caused many issues, so the doctor recommended to get my supply under control. It definitely effects your milk supply.)

  2. Low dose estrogen birth control (Note: You may be wondering if I put this twice by mistake, but nope, just re-iterating)

  3. Low dose estrogen birth control (Note: You may be wondering if I put this here a third time by mistake, but nope, just making sure you got it. Somehow it has balanced my hormones. Other than the hair benefits, I am not a fan of the pill.)

  4. I have upped my water intake

  5. I have increased my intake of veggies & fruit

  6. I think time has helped. Something about passing 6 months of breastfeeding that things get easier in general. Maybe it helped the hormones balance out more.

  7. Steam treatments - I only do this twice a month, but I really think it helps.

  8. During this time, I have continued on my quest for great hair products. Most of the time, I use Organic Grow Hair Co products specifically for high porosity hair. (Note: I have quite a few products in my rotation #productjunkie #Curl-lockHolmes)

  9. No hair coloring (so hard and makes me sad)

  10. Low dose estrogen birth control (Note: You may be wondering why I put this here again, but I really needed a 10th item to make the list feel complete. Plus I think it is primarily what has helped. Probably the only good thing birth control has done.)

My current hair state   Photo taken by Lacy Dagerath Photography

My current hair state

Photo taken by Lacy Dagerath Photography

If there is anything I have learned from pregnancy or from just being a woman, in general, is that hormones can do some crazy things! I know it’s just hair, but our hair speaks in the most subtle way, it matters. It’s a billion dollar industry (I think), so I am not the only one who cares this much. Anyway, I am hoping to have a great report for you all in the future. Has anyone else experienced texture changes like this during or after pregnancy?