My Hair Story in Pictures

I have always been natural except for a few stints with relaxers that didn’t turn out well. However, I didn’t start focusing on caring for my hair until six years ago.

If you have been reading my hair story and have been wondering what my hair looked like, this post is for you. I have put together pictures starting from 2007 up until 2013. In 2013 we moved from the US to Albania, where we would live for the next two years before we moved to Zambia. In the next post I’ll share pictures of my hair journey from the time we moved to Albania to present day.

 

In 2007 I decided to relax my hair at home and after a few months of dealing with the aftermath, I cut my hair into a bob.

Hair journey       Hair journey in pictures

2008 – My hair is on minimum maintenance. I flat ironed my hair a lot in order to accommodate my traveling life style.

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I did braid-outs now and then but they didn’t last longer than a day.

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Fast forward to 2010 – I started learning about hair care and I started my hair journey. This picture was taken in Ethiopia in January 2010, a few days before our wedding.

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April 2010 – A month after I started immersing myself in healthy hair care. I still straightened frequently.

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July 2010 – I continue to frequently straighten my hair. But because of the steps I’m taking to care for my hair, I noticed less damage when straightening.

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September 2010 – I started experimenting with low-heat or heat-free styles. I purchased a hair dryer and started doing a roller set at home.

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February 2011 – I wore more braid outs and flat ironed my hair less. I was beginning to notice that my hair had more shine and looked healthier.

Hair journey in pictures

October 2011 – Seeing results encouraged me to continue with my heat-free regimen. The braidout was my go-to style.

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January 2012 – I started to notice faster hair growth. Or perhaps I was retaining my length better. This is also the time that I found out that I was pregnant!

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April 2012 – I stayed away from heat and stuck to my signature braidout style.

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May 2012 – I got my hair done in a salon after 6 months of heat-free hair care.

HairPic13          HairPic14

June 2012 – My belly was starting to grow fast. So was my hair! Maybe the prenatal pills contributed to faster hair growth.

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August 2012 was my baby shower. I was one month away from having my daughter.

HairPic16         HairPic17

November 2012 – Maya was born in September. My hair was mostly in a bun during this time and I straightened it every once in a while.

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January 2013 –Three months after I had maya, I started to experience some post-natal shedding and breakage but it was manageable.

HairPic19       HairPic20

May 2013 – My hair continues to thrive as I prepare to move from the US to Alabania, our home for the next two years.

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June 2013 – Before I left the US, I had my hair done at the salon. This would be one of the last times I get my hair done at a salon for a while.

HairPic22    HairPic23

In my next post I’ll share pictures of my hair from the time we moved to Albania to its current state. Stay tuned!

 

Giving Myself Permission

Hair care blog

Lately I’ve been listening to several podcasts that had the same message. The message revolves around these unconscious mental blocks we have and how they are stopping us from achieving our goals.

My biggest mental block, and the reason it took me 5 years to start this blog, is this thought I had about credibility. I told myself that I had to be an absolute expert in the field of hair care in order to publicly share my advice. Who am I to tell people about hair care? Who made me the authority on natural hair? I felt I didn’t have permission to share my wisdom. But in listening to these podcasts I have understood that no one is an authority on the subject. I do not have to be an absolute expert in order to share. I can just be part of the conversation.

I have to remind myself that I have given myself permission on a regular basis because I find that these unconscious mental blocks slowly find themselves back in my mind. I am also learning to monitor what thoughts enter my mind and I’m consciously changing these thoughts. It’s funny, I have “caught” so many mental blocks creeping in my brain that I previously didn’t even recognize. In the past, when something I wanted didn’t work out, I always thought that it was not meant to be. And while sometimes that is the case, I never considered that perhaps sometimes it’s my own thoughts that are getting in the way. So now I say, negative thoughts, get out of the way!

Here’s to all of us clearing our mental blocks!

My best to you,

Milu

My Hair Story – Part 3

Enjoying my results

People were beginning to comment on how healthy my hair looked. This motivated me to keep up and even do more to care for my hair. At some point, I was so serious about protective styling that it was hard to wear my hair down and enjoy the results of my hard work. I was in a strict heat allowance schedule (4 times a year) and I remember whenever I went to the salon or flat ironed my hair at home, it took a lot of convincing because I didn’t want heat damage to undo all the hard work I put in. The best part of my experience, apart from enjoying great results, was sharing my knowledge with people. I really enjoyed telling anyone that asked me that hair can indeed be nursed back to its healthiest form and sharing how I was able to do it.

Keeping the momentum

Back then I had a lot of free time on my hand. After my husband and I got married, I moved from Chicago to Minneapolis where I didn’t know a lot of people. I spent most of my evenings and weekends devouring all the information I could find online and experimenting with all kinds of concoctions and new products. The progress I made was quite visible, and I was closely monitoring it.

The beginning of the decline

Somewhere in between, life happened. One year after I have reached what I consider the pinnacle of my heathy hair success, I moved back to Chicago, had a baby, and took on a job that had a long commute. Not long afterwards, we would uproot again – this time to Washington, DC for 6 months followed by Albania for 2 years. A lot of exciting things happened during that time and my hair suffered some serious neglect.
The neglect went on for two years. I would do an occasional trim here, some deep conditioning there, but for the most part my hair routine was on auto pilot. I would go for days with my hair in a high bun and on wash day I would break my hair trying to detangle without the right products and without enough time.

A major setback

Once while vacationing in my home country, Ethiopia, I was caught in a weak moment and committed an act that I adviced others never to do: I dyed my hair with ammonia-containing hair dye. I had this image in my mind that I should return to Albania from my vacation feeling refreshed and with a new look. It didn’t help that we had a hair salon within walking distance of where we were staying in Ethiopia.
The first few weeks post-dye were wonderful as I went about basking in my newly dyed hair in all its ammonia glory. After a few weeks, reality set in and I had to deal with extremely dry and weak hair. Needless to say I was kicking myself for that bad decision.
Even still I was not in emergency repair mode. I resorted to wearing buns for days because I did not want to deal with my increasingly hard to style hair. On wash days I did not employ the proper detangling methods and I caused further damange to my already weak and dry hair.
Fast forward a few months and we were again on the move, this time to Zambia where we currently live. And again my hair continued to suffer neglect. One day I was looking at a picture of myself taken outside in the sun. My hair was down (I was wearing a braid out) and I was surprised to see how thin my ends looked. I decided to get a trim from a professional hair stylist in town. What I got was more than a trim. But then again, I did ask him to remove all the damanged hair so it’s no surprise that I walked out of the hair salon with my hair about 4 inches shorter. While I am enjoying my new hair cut and my healthy ends, I do miss my long hair occassionally. But health is better than length so I have resolved to focus on my hair’s health first and foremost.

Lesson learned

I’m at a point now where I’m looking back and reflecting on my hair journey. One big lesson that I have learned is that no matter how our life evolves, we should allow time to take care of ourselves. As women we tend to make our family’s needs a priority while our needs get neglected. I think when I had a lot of free time, I spent a lot of it on my hair because I had a real interest in learning and applying what I learned. But it did not come from a need to really look after myself. It was more of an experiment that turned out well. But when my free time slowly diminished due to our growing family, I unconsciously spent less and less time on me. I am happy to say that our life in Zambia is quite different from our life back in the States and it’s much easier to make time to look after myself. I just have to make it a priority.

A slow ascent

I am now more conscious of the fact that I have to budget time to take better care of my hair. Because the results of poor hair care are not visible right away, it’s very easy to delay treatments, trims and other hair care musts. I’ve decided I want to start my journey all over again, but this time I’ll take baby steps. I have come up with a simple regimen which I plan to slowly evolve to include more treatments.

My regimen now

I’ve put myself back on a heat allowance. I now heat style every 3-4 months. I also do at least two co-washes or at least one deep conditioning treatment per week.
I’ll share my complete regimen once I incorporate more into it. For now, I hope not to skimp on my two goals!

my best to you,

milu

My Hair Story – Part 2

So at the height of my healthy hair journey, I was spending quite a lot of time on my hair. In between hair treatments, I would research new treatment ideas, buy the ingredients and try it out. This is what my routine looked like:

Daily

  • Style hair using a protective style or a braid out, moisturize ends at night and put in a bun, cover hair with a satin bonnet

Twice a week

Once a week

  • Do a scalp massage using a mixture of essential oils and a carrier oil
  • Do a pre-poo treatment of oils (usually a mixture of some of these these oils: coconut oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, hazelnut oil, castor oil)
  • Shampoo with a moisturizing, sulphate-free shampoo (my favorite was Giovanni Triple Moisture Shampoo)
  • Do a moisturizing or protein deep conditioning treatment

Once month

Every 6 weeks

  • Check for split ends and remove as necessary

Every 3 months

  • Measure hair growth and record progress

Some weeks I did more and some weeks I did less. But for the most part I tried to follow this schedule. This took a good amount of time and energy but the results were great; however, I did not have a strategy for how to manage my hair once my free time (and energy) started to diminish. More on that on my next post.

Until then, my best to you!

milu

 

My Hair Story – Part 1

How it began

My interest with healthy hair care began as a coincidence. My husband was in Toronto for work so I decided to fly there on Thursday to spend the weekend there. While I was working from my hotel room on Friday I realized I didn’t pack my shampoo and conditioner. I searched online for a hair product store near our hotel and came across a healthy hair guru based in Toronto. She recommended a store within walking distance from my hotel. This store is where I bought my first all-natural hair product product – Kinky Curly shampoo and conditioner – and the rest is history.

2010

Back in 2010 the natural hair revolution was still not mainstream. The number of experts who shared their tips and journeys online were a few. I studied them all. I watched their videos, read their blogs, and tried their methods. Since 2010 the number of natural hair experts has grown significantly, along with those making products for natural hair.

My hair then

My hair was not in the best shape then. I was constantly traveling for work and did not want to travel with a lot of hair care products. Since I didn’t have knowledge on how to maintain and style it naturally, I was constantly getting it straightened. It was heat damaged, dry and had split ends.

Hair gurus at the time advised that the first step in a healthy hair journey was to get rid of all split ends. I employed the dusting and the search and destroy methods for this. I was so into searching and distroying the split ends that I often found myself analyzing my hair ends against my laptop screen at work. I may add that this is one of the best ways to see split ends easily. The split ends, when put against a white computer screen are quite visible.

Remedies

To nurse back my dried out hair, I cowashed religiously every two or three days using affordable conditioners. I also did moisturizing deep treatments with home made and store-bought deep conditioners. Store bought conditioners I liked at the time were Mizani Moisturefuse Moisturizing ConditionerNexxus Humectress Ultimate Moisture Conditioner, and Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner. Aside from giving my hair a good trim, consistent deep conditioning is what helped nurse my hair back into it’s best form.

To maintain the pH balance of my hair, I treated my hair with protein every month. While nothing beats all-natural, homemade treatments such as eggs, on those days that I felt lazy or did not have the right ingredients at home I always relied on my favorite Protein Treatment – Aubrey Organics Balancing Protein Conditioner.

Results

In a matter of months, I started noticing positive changes in my hair which motivated me to dedicate more time to taking care of my hair. In my next blog I will share the additional remedies I employed to transform my hair into it’s best version. Stay tuned!

my best to you,

milu

Welcome to my blog!

I have been playing around with the idea of blogging for quite some time now. I think about 5 years. I had so many doubts that kept creeping up in my mind and it was easier to believe the doubts and put it off. Then today I came across a website and one of the posts from the guy behind the website proclaimed: if you want get where you want to go, start a blog. Just do it. Somehow that got through to me and so here I am! I don’t (yet) have a clear plan of all the topics I’ll blog about, or how often I’ll blog. But I have plenty of time to slowly figure that out.

Some of the topics I envision blogging about are my expereinces living abroad in Zambia and Albania, my passion for healthy hair care, and tech startups in Africa.

It’s funny how people get inspired in the most unexpected ways. I have been seeking for inspiration, reading books, blogs, articles, listening to podcasts and yes I did get some inspiration from all of these, but it didn’t make me jump into action. But today, as I was waiting for my online show to load, I half-heartly browsed facebook, and I happend to see an article that a friend had liked. Reading the article led me to click on the author’s name and go to the author’s site, which is where I got the inspiration to start a blog. Now.

Here’s to many posts in the coming weeks, months, and years!!!