Articles By Christina Patrice

Christina Patrice

samantha gunter maroon hair

If you search the hashtag #naturalhair on Instagram, you're guaranteed to come across some jaw-droppingly gorgeous kinky, curly, and coily manes. Not only do their curly fros, twist-outs, and updos defy gravity, many social media naturalistas are rocking eye-catching hues on their manes, from golden blonde ombre to sizzling red and cool blue. If you're anything like me, you look wistfully at these photos and begin contemplating what products you can hold off on buying in order to save up for a professional dye job. But then you chicken out, not only unsure of committing to a color, but somewhat fearful of ruining the natural hair you worked so hard to grow.

Check out these 6 much safer alternatives to add a little dimension to your hair. Fair warning: they won't give you drastic color lift/change, but it should be enough to satisfy your curiosity. Plus, they are all fairly affordable and relatively easy to do at home.



next page: Henna 

henna powder

Body Art Quality Henna

BAQ Henna is a personal favorite of mine. Not only do I use it monthly to help keep my scalp psoriasis at bay, I also love the rich reddish tint that the ground up leaf deposits on my hair. Although not entirely invisible in indoor lighting, outdoors my henna color is gorgeous! Not only will henna give you a little reddish color boost, it also conditions the hair, thickens it, helps promote shine, and make it stronger.

My personal favorite Body Art Quality brand is Jamila because the sift is super fine, making it easy to apply and rinse out. Before discovering Jamila, I tried Light Mountain brand henna, and each month was a fiasco in terms of trying to get the grit and twigs out of my curly mane. Also do note that pure henna that won't harm your hair or skin only comes in one color: red. Anything else (black henna, brown, etc.) may contain additives and chemicals that could cause irritation, so beware. If the box does not say 100% pure henna/lawsonia inermis, put it down and slowly and back away.

To see how I mix my henna, click here.

next page: Indigo

indigo plant


In a similar vein to henna, indigo comes from ground plant leaves. When mixed with liquid (water) and exposed to air it turns blue. Don't worry though, indigo actually turns the hair deep black, and has been used to do so for thousands of years. Indigo requires a firm commitment; once you've use it you can't go back for some time until it wears off.

If your hair is a lighter color than brown, it is advised that you henna hair first, then apply indigo.

For more on indigo, check out Shelli of Hairscapades and her 2-step henna/indigo process.

next page: SheaMoisture Ammonia-Free Hair Color

shea moisture hair dye

Shea Moisture Moisture-Rich Ammonia-Free Hair Color System

Shea Moisture is everywhere these days! When they decided to launch a hair color system, the entire natural hair community was thrilled. Finally, a hair coloring solution that catered to the concerns of kinks, curls, and coils!

Since many textured beauties already have challenges retaining moisture and porosity issues, the fact that this color system is ammonia-free is a huge deal.

Ammonia is the ingredient in most hair dyes that lifts your cuticle so that the peroxide can penetrate and zap your natural pigment. The ammonia-peroxide duo can leave hair dry, straw-like, brittle, and of course, with irreversible cuticle damage (leading to more porosity and dryness issues).


next page: Ion Color Brilliance
ion hair color

Ion Color Brilliance Semi-Permanent

If you used to get your hair professionally done back in the day, you might remember having your stylist do a super conditioning and tinting treatment on your hair, known as a cellophane. In high school I lived for the cellophane color because it was the only color my parents would allow me to have --because it was non-damaging, not permanent, and not "too grown" (haha).

There are tons of brands out there, such as Jazzing by Clairol that serve the same function-- but the Ion Color Brilliance line is my personal favorite pick. Because I henna my hair regularly, I have no particular need for colored cellophane. But what I do enjoy is that brilliant shine that a dose of this product in clear gives. Ion Color Brilliance is ammonia and peroxide free, making it ideal for non-damaging coloring.

next page: Manic Panic Cream Color

amplified hair coloring cream

Manic Panic Amplified Cream Color

If you're into hot hues and bright colors without the commitment, Manic Panic is definitely worth considering. This semi permanent hair color comes in shades ranging from Cotton Candy (hot pink) to After Midnite (deep navy blue). Lighter color hair will always yield the best results, but you can always take some inspiration from the wonderful Evelyn From the Internets on how to get bright colors on dark hair.

next page: DIY Hair Lightener

lemon juice recipe

DIY Hair Lightener

Of course, no article about hair color is complete without a DIY recipe. Check out this homemade mix to gradually lighten your hair.


  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 cups of strong chamomile tea


  • Mix one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice with three cups of strong chamomile tea.
  • Soak your hair with this mixture.
  • Air dry on the sun then rinse out and condition well.
  • Repeat this 2-3 times per week for best results.


christina patrice coily hairAdmittedly, us natural gals can be product snobs from time to time (or all the time). We turn our noses up at products because on the surface, it looks like they're irrelevant to our natural hair needs -- or because we want to distance ourselves from anything remotely related to perms, flat irons, and weaves.

I'm here to say: Keep an open mind. Sometimes, the products you end up loving the most don't say natural, curly, kinky, coily, or wavy on the label. Case and point: Long Locks Hair Care. I was sent a wonderful haul of products from Long Locks to review: including Peppermint Candy Shampoo and Conditioner, Mystique Frizz Control Cream, and... a GLAM IRON! What's a Glam Iron, you ask? Only the cutest flat iron...ever. In life. Although I only straighten my hair 3 or 4 times a year, it's nice to know that next time I crave sleek tresses, I'll have the chicest iron on the block. Before I get too carried away about the glam iron, let me get to the actual review.

Peppermint Candy Shampoo


Invigorating, clarifying shampoo with peppermint and tea tree oils, thoroughly cleanses while healing and invigorating the scalp. Helps strengthen hair while improving body and shine. Safe for colored and chemically-treated hair.

Ingredient List

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide MEA, Peppermint Oil, Glycol Stearate, Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Polyquaternium-59, Wheat Amino Acids, Polyquaternium-10, Tea Tree Oil, Disodium EDTA, Menthol, Citric Acid, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Yellow 5/CL 19140 Blue 1, Cl 42090 Limonene, Linalool

Top Ingredients 411

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Surfactant (cleansing agent) derived from ethoxylated lauryl alcohol.
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate: Surfactant and foaming agent derived from the ammonium salt of lauryl sulfate.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine: Coconut oil-derived detergent, anti-static, and hair conditioning agent.
  • Cocamide MEA: Foam boosting and viscosity increasing compound synthesized from coconut oils and ethanolamine.
  • Peppermint Oil: Essential oil used for stimulating and invigorating the scalp and follicles. 


Right out of the gate, I must say that I absolutely love the fragrance. The essence of peppermint candy is captured to a tee. The shampoo itself is a nice silky green. One major red flag for most naturals will be the SLS and ALS present in the ingredients. I fully expected for the shampoo to dry out my hair, but it didn't. While my hair was a little more stripped than most shampoos make it feel, I kept in mind that this shampoo's purpose was to clarify. I loved the cool tingly feeling on my scalp, and how the shampoo had just enough slip to help me continue detangling my hair. It didn't have tons of miraculous slip, but it was definitely present and there was enough. Overall, I really liked the shampoo. The smell alone reminded me of the peppermints I got as a kid from my Grandma's purse.

long locks shampoo and conditioner

Peppermint Candy Conditioner


Peppermint Oil and other vital botanicals & nutrients leave hair moisturized, shiny, and full of body after just one use. Special vitamins and proteins protect sensitive scalps. Safe for colored, straightened, and chemically-treated hair.

Ingredient List

Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Lactamide MEA, Peppermint Oil, Panthenol, Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Burdock Root Extract, Ivy Extract, Fenugreek Extract, Methylchloroisothiazolinon, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate

Top Ingredients 411

  • Cetearyl & Cetyl Alcohol: Fatty alcohols and emollient conditioners known for giving products a creamy, thick texture and feel.
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate: Mild detangling ingredient made from the rapeseed (canola). Known for great detangling without leaving product buildup on hair.
  • Ceteareth-20: Emulsifier derived from fatty alcohols, used primarily to mix oil/water/alcohols, and help evenly disperse ingredients in a product
  • Lactamide MEA: A natural moisturizer and humectant, derived from lactic acid. It used as an anti-static and conditioning agent.
  • Peppermint Oil: Essential oil used for stimulating and invigorating the scalp and follicles. 


In the same vein as the shampoo, the fragrance of the conditioner did not disappoint. The product itself is white (thank God, I might have lost it over green conditioner), and has an incredibly luxurious rich and creamy feel to it. It was the perfect acompaniment to the shampoo -- whatever oils I had lost in the clarifying process were definitely restored with this conditioner. Much like the shampoo, the condtioner didn't have tons of slip -- but it had enough to help keep my hair detangled. It was a good conditioner though, and I simply love the ingredients. One interesting thing I did notice about the conditioner is that it gave "weight" to my hair, similar to the effect of henna. Although it was temporary and went down the drain at the next wash, I did enjoy the extra manageability. I love weighty hair--for me it helps keep flyaways at bay and manage shrinkage (as much as it can be managed, lol). If you feel like your hair could stand to benefit from some extra oomph, definitely check this conditioner out.

christina patrice lock of hair
Mystique Frizz Control Cream


This fast-drying texture cream tames frizzy and unruly hair resulting in a soft and pliable mane.

Ingredient List

Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Di-PPG-2-Myreth-10-Adipate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyquaternium-59, Butylene Glycol, Amodimethicone, Fragrance/Parfum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Propylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Octoxynol-40, Isolaureth-6, Sodium Benzoate, Methylisothiazolinone, Benzyl Benzoate, Limonene, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methypropional, Alpha Iso-Methyl Ionone

Top Ingredients 411

  • Cetearyl & Cetyl Alcohol: Fatty alcohols and emollient conditioners known for giving products a creamy, thick texture and feel.
  • Glycerin: Generally vegetable-based humectant that absorbs and retains moisture from the air.
  • Di-PPG-2-Myreth-10 Adipate: Skin and hair conditioning agent, emollient, and surfactant.
  • Hydrogenated Castor Oil: Castor wax created to improve the shelf-life of castor oil.
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate: Mild detangling ingredient made from the rapeseed (canola). Known for great detangling without leaving product buildup on hair.


Oh, Frizz Control Cream, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You're lightweight and moisturizing, and double as a leave-in conditioner. The difference with you in my hair is truly night and day. I swoon over your ingredients and springtime fresh fragrance, they complement your creamy texture well. All poetic waxing aside,  I truly do love this stuff and for me it is the absolute GEM of the Long Locks line. All of the aforementioned is true-- the ingredients are awesome, the fragrance is fresh and mild, and it is lightweight and moisturizing. But the home run? I'll just let the picture on the left do the talking.

christina patrice long locks

In this particular wash and go, this was day one as soon as my hair was 100% dry. For the most part my hair behaves itself, but there are random sections that will not bend to my will no matter what I do. I typically let those rebels be themselves, and go on about my business. But this particular day, I wanted to put the Frizz Control Cream to the test. I was using the Frizz Control Cream as my leave-in, Camille Rose Naturals Almond Jai Twisting Butter for moisture, and TIGI Catwalk Curlesque Curls Rock Amplifier for my styler. In the section photo'd, I intentionally skipped the Frizz Control Cream so I'd have a point of comparison. The difference is literally night and day. This isn't a fluke either-- another random section that rebels against me is the front/center of my hair. It is thick, has ridiculous shrinkage, and is a tight wavy pattern. And what did the Frizz Control Cream do? This (see photo).

It whipped the front into shape like nothing I've ever seen before. Can we say, must have for 2014? Absolutely. I just wish it came in a bigger tube.

Glam Iron

As if I didn't gush about the Glam Iron enough, let me go ahead and provide a little more information. It's absolutely fab. It's pink, and covered in rhinestones. But what does that mean for use and functionality? Here are some quick specs:

  • The Glam Iron heats quickly--within 20 seconds. Seriously.

  • The jewels don't melt off, thanks to being applied with heat-proof glue.

  • The plate is 1 inch wide--perfect for a variety of lengths and types of hair.

  •  The plate is ceramic with Ion technology.

  • It has an LCD display that flashes "OFF" when plugged in but not on, and has an automatic shutoff if left idle for prolonged periods of time.

  • The Glam Iron has a programmable time feature as well, for up to 120 minutes.

  • The temperature range is from 50 to 232 degrees Celsius, or 122 to 450 degrees Farenheit.

The iron is lighweight and durable, and quite honestly I can't wait to use it. I'm trying to take my no-heat stretch until May for my birthday, which will be a full 5 months without straightening. But when I do, you better believe I'm using my Glam Iron! Check my blog for the latest updates on this effort.

MORE: TGIN Moist Collection Review


Back when I was transitioning, you couldn't tell me nothin' about my Big All-Day Bun. It was my go-to transitioning style because it allowed me to have a big, full-looking bun despite my hair being thin and heat damaged.

All I needed to pull of the style was a regular banana clip, bobby pins, a soft bristle brush, water, and a little styling product for my edges--until about month 7.

Once I made it past 6 months of transitioning, banana clips were no longer my friend. I couldn't get them to stay in my hair without my hair being soaking wet (in its most condensed state)--and even as my hair dried throughout the day, I found many a banana clip popping out of my head.

I often tried to do my bunning the way many popular naturals do their high puffs and buns--with a double-looped elastic headband. It rarely worked, and most times I found myself with either of the two dilemmas: the bands were entirely too tight on my head (headaches, edge trauma, and the fact that you have to practically choke yourself or squeeze your forehead to death to get the double loop action), or they'd just sliiiide right back and make what was supposed to be a fab bun look like a baby knot.

After giving up on  the updo for a while (besides the messy quick fix gym bun), I'm ready to get back in the big bun saddle. Armed with similar tools from my transitioning days and a remixed approach, I'm ready to rock the top knot again.

This bun is perfect for type 3 naturals with curls, coils, and kinks that don't always come together well in a traditional bun. I generally don't do hair-typing related posts, but in my experience, type 3 hair doesn't always have the best luck with bunning. Type 3 hair is easily compacted, which can make for small buns that aren't particularly flattering. To be honest, I've got a big head and I need a big bun to match. Beyond that, the double-loop method doesn't always work because type 3 hair may not have the same staying power of type 4 hair.

The Benefits

This big messy bun is super edges-friendly, and very low tension (no headaches) while looking messy and chic. It's versatile enough to go from work, to working out, to a hot date. To change up the look, place the bun slightly off center like Lianne La Havas (pictured).

What You'll Need

Armed with your tools and ready to go? Great! Check out the tutorial below and get ready to rock it!

Watch the Video




READ: Natural Girls Be Like... #WashDay

Not to brag, but I've been having some ridiculously easy wash days. And while I'm sure my methods don't exactly work for everyone, there are some key points that will help you have a drama-free wash day as well.

When followed, these points help alleviate some of the stress and tension around wash days.

1. Always pre-poo

Pre-pooing not only helps prevent the hair from being stripped completely of natural oils, but it also softens and conditions the hair -- making it easier to detangle and prevent breakage. How you pre-poo is totally up to you!

Oils, conditioners, DIY masks, or any combination thereof -- whatever works for your hair!

WATCH: DIY Olive Oil Pre-Poo

2. Sulfates on occasion

 Sulfates can be harsh and drying on the hair, making it feel wiry and brittle. I've also discovered that some shampoo formulas can even make the hair more tangled than what it was.

Limit your use of sulfates to monthly clarifying washes, or even less frequently depending upon your hair's needs.

3. Wash in sections

Section washing, whether with clips or by twisting hair, will help ensure that you're able to adequately cleanse and condition your glorious mane in its entirety. It also helps cut down on tangles while washing, and leads to less breakage.


One of the most labor intensive aspects of the natural hair journey is detangling. It can also be the most confusing. Let's go ahead and break it down:

Step 1

When trying to decide the best course of action for detangling your hair, it is always best to start with an understanding of how your hair behaves.

Ask yourself, is your hair:

  • curly, or tightly coiled?
  • transitioning or completely natural?
  • incredibly tangle prone when loose in water?

  • weak, brittle, or easily broken?

Those four points will help you understand not only what tools will likely work best for your hair, but also what products and methods.

Necessary Tools

To detangle naturally coily or curly hair, there are a number of popular tools out there.

Determining which one is best for you is a matter of how you answered the questions above, and how much money you want to spend. Some of the best tools for detangling curly and coily hair are:

As you can see, the tools listed range from free to $70. I always recommend starting with the most affordable solution, and working your way up. My current mainstays for detangling are my fingers, and the Babyliss brush (only $1.99 at Sally Beauty Supply). I occasionally use my Q-Redew, but I try to reserve it more for steaming and refreshing my hair now. If you would like to give the Denman or a comb a try, go for it! But definitely pay attention to how your hair responds. Don't continue to use a tool after you can clearly see it's snatching your hair out.


Deciding what product to detangle with often times leaves us the most confused.

Conditioner? Oil? A DIY Cocktail? A specific detangling product? This is another one of those categories that is completely reflective of your hair and how much you're willing to spend.

If your hair benefits from being slathered in product, you're likely to opt for a conditioner. If you tend to be a minimalist, oil will likely be your go-to.

As far as money is concerned, inexpensive oils, conditioners, and DIY cocktails (conditioner + oil + water) fall on the more cost-effective end of the spectrum. On the more expensive end are products that work really well, but are not as cost-efficient.

Check out these popular product suggestions:



  • Coconut Oil

  • Sweet Almond Oil

  • Apricot Seed Oil

  • Olive Oil

  • Grapeseed Oil

Detangling Products

How to Detangle

Here's where the rubber meets the road. Once you've determined what tools and products will likely work best for your hair, it's time to decide on a method. Are you going to detangle on soaking wet hair, damp, or dry? There are some definite benefits and drawbacks to each. Let’s spell them out:

Wet Detangling

  • Benefits: The easiest method to quickly detangle hair. The water and conditioner creates an enormous amount of slip, making it easy for the strands to glide past each other and release shed hair. Because hair is wet, it also has increased elasticity which can help prevent breakage. Wet detangling is frequently done in the shower, which makes it convenient to go right into cleansing and conditioning the hair without a lot of fuss.

  • Drawbacks: Requires a LOT of conditioner. I mean A LOT. Although this isn't a major concern, unless you are on a super strict budget. Definitely only use this method with one of the cost-efficient conditioners mentioned above. Also, although wet hair has improved elasticity, it has decreased tensile strength. Wet hair is weaker, and requires more gentle care.

Dry Detangling

  • Benefits: Uses less product overall. Most dry detangling is done with an oil, such as coconut. Because the hair is dry, it is stronger and can be less prone to breakage. You also have the added benefit of being able to stand in front of a mirror and see your hair, so you can determine how to best tackle tangles.

  • Drawbacks: Sometimes, oil alone is not enough to create the slip necessary for strands to glide past each other and detangle. This can result in knots and wisps of hair breaking.

Damp Detangling 

  • Benefits: Damp detangling is like having the best of both worlds. Hair is wet enough for strands to glide past each other, but not wet enough to significantly decrease tensile strength. Damp detangling often involves a DIY cocktail, which can impart the perfect amount of moisture and conditioning, and double as a pre-poo treatment.

  • Drawbacks: Once your detangling is done, the cocktail has to be thrown out. There's no way to guarantee that any preservatives from the conditioner or other products can withstand being mixed in a spray bottle for weeks on end. This can be a waste of product, if you end up making too much regularly.

biotinA quick search on google for "vitamins for hair growth" yields countless results and brands, all promising to help usher in strong, vibrant, and growing hair. Amid proprietary blends and secret formulas, there is one ingredient at the core of every hair boosting vitamin: biotin. 

Biotin, formally known as Vitamin H, is technically a complex B vitamin with a coenzyme. It supports healthy hair, nails, skin, nerves, digestion, and metabolism. It is even believed to help regulate blood sugar (when paired with chromium), and decrease insulin resistance (on its own) - both great news for those with type 2 diabetes. As far as hair and nails are concerned, it is believed that biotin improves the infrastructure of keratin -- the protein that they're made of.

Although most vitamin blends contain 500mcg or more of biotin (and some supplements alone go upwards of 1000 or 5000mcg), the daily recommended dose of biotin is about 2.5mg (2500mcg) for adults. You don't necessarily need to take a special supplement to get the beauty benefits of this vitamin though -- there are plenty of food sources such as wheat germ, whole wheat bread, swiss chard, salmon, chicken, eggs, and dairy that contain biotin. Deficiencies in biotin (although somewhat rare) can lead to brittle nails and hair loss.

With all the information out there, how can you be certain that a hair growth vitamin or biotin supplement is for you? Let's take a look at some of the more definitive pros and cons:


  • Affordable and widely available

  • Helps the body process energy and and transport carbon dioxide from cells

  • Can help strengthen nail cuticles and hair, warding off thinning and breakage of both

  • Supports skin health, and can help ward off psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and other rashes

  • Believed to aid in weight loss- when paired with chromium the vitamin supports a quicker breakdown of fats and carbohydrates, leading to a higher resting metabolic rate

  • Improves blood sugar regulation


  • Can lead to skin breakouts, acne, and rashes (if overdosed)

  • Raw eggs interfere with the absorption of biotin

  • Interacts with some drugs, specifically those for cholesterol and antibiotics



By and large, it appears the benefits outweigh to potential consequences (of course, unless you are taking a specific drug known to adversely interact) of taking biotin. If you are concerned with acne outbreaks and rashes, here are a few tips on how to help keep your skin clear:

  • Start out at low doses. Anywhere under 500mcg is ideal. If your body tolerates it well, you can move up as far as you feel comfortable doing.

  • Try taking biotin alone at first, instead of as a part of a multivitamin. This can be difficult to do, but it will help you better assess how your body tolerates biotin. If you feel all is well after a few weeks, it should be safe to incorporate biotin into a multivitamin regimen.

  • Be sure to get adequate levels of vitamins A, C, E, and Zinc. All these vitamins and minerals assist in the production of healthy skin cells, collagen, and acne treatment.

  • Drink Apple Cider Vinegar. This is a personal anecdotal piece of advice from me -- I drink a 1-2 tablespoons of diluted ACV every night before bed. It has helped keep breakouts at bay, and even got rid of some pesky bumps I had along my jawline before I began taking the vitamin.

At the end of the day, biotin can be beneficial for a number of health and beauty-related reasons. However, this vitamin isn't for everyone and the pros and cons should carefully be examined before trying it out for yourself.


This #WashDay meme spread like wildfire in the natural hair community, and while utterly hilarious (ranch dressing and a Bible though?), this fun-poking photo does hold a grain of truth.

I've come to realize that many naturals and transitioners simply do entirely too much on wash day.

As hilarious as this meme is (I get the giggles all over again just looking at each item individually) it'd be nice if wash day wasn't a joke.

Here are three key ways to make wash day a little more manageable, and a little less, well, see above.

1. Product Overload

Pre-poo with this. Detangle with a mix of this, this, that, and that, with a little bit of that over there plus water in a spray bottle. Cowash with this product. Condition with another product. Deep condition with a homemade concoction that looks like a menu item from Robek's, or a blend of your favorite conditioner and water.

Solution: Stop. Using. Products. That. Don't. Work.

If you have to mix 18 things together to make a detangler, then what you're doing isn't working too well. If you constantly have to add oils to your conditioners to make them more moisturizing then might need a new conditioner.

Wash day gets easier when you actually use products that work well at what they're supposed to do, or when you discover it has a better alternative use. I cut the fuss between detangling and co-washing because I discovered that Aussie Moist makes a phenomenal in-shower detangler, and I can also use it to co-wash.

I only stick to conditioners and deep conditioners that do their job in 10 minutes or less. If it takes any longer, then the formula isn't working for my hair. Sure, an extra 10 or 20 minutes for more softening is fine. But if after 10 minutes I don't feel or see any discernible difference in my hair, it's time for me to move on to greener pastures.

2. The Detangling Nightmare

As a transitioner and a natural, I can recall needing quite a few things to detangle my hair. Either a complex concoction or conditioner, water, an onslaught of tools, and a Law & Order: SVU marathon. I bought into the blog hype everywhere that detangling had to be some nightmarish event of epic proportions that couldn't be done in under two hours. I detangled slowly with my fingers, in some of the smallest sections imaginable. At some points, I even went practically strand-by-strand. I ended up with pruny fingers, cramped hands, towels full of shed hair and conditioner muck, and a sense of resolve that had been beaten into submission. And I did this every week. Sometimes twice.

Solution: Try it once or twice, then move on.

Learning which detangling method works for you is a classic case of throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. There are tons of different methods - dry detangling, damp detangling, soaking wet hair detangling, detangling with oil, detangling with conditioner, detangling with a detangler, with your fingers, with a Denman, with a wide tooth comb, with a Tangle Teezer, with a Q-Redew...the possibilities and combinations are seemingly infinite.

If your current method has you taking forever and a day, and you're still losing insane amounts of hair due to breakage, or you always have a bajillion knots that don't want to come undone, it's time to lay that method to rest and move on.

I'm a huge proponent of slathering the hair with conditioner, and detangling in the shower darting my hair under the shower head a few times for extra slippage. With this method, I'm able to make it through my head in 15 minutes or less. I would have never found this out, if it wasn't for drama point #1 and making a conscious decision to try different methods until I had one that worked. And you better believe that if this one stops working, I'm on to the next!


3. The Time/Patience Matrix

For me, my week of wash-and-go's typically runs something like this (left).

Solution: Find the time for your hair (double entendre).

The first part of finding the time for your hair relates to literally finding the time for your hair. There is nothing worse than putting off wash day farrrr beyond what you know to be best for your tresses. Extra tangles and matting, even more buildup than you thought possible, and sometimes the dreaded itchies and flakes. It is vital to the health of your hair to find time for it. It is important that the time you set aside for your hair not be rushed, when you're dead tired, or irritated. Any three of those individually or in combination spell disaster, breakage, and utter frustration with your hair. Take it from me: although you don't want wash day to take forever, don't give yourself 30 minutes and a prayer. You'll always end up losing more hair than necessary.

And although wash day should never literally be an entire day in my opinion (like this meme suggests,haha!), you have to carve out some time to tend to your hair on a regular basis. This brings me to the second part of finding time for your hair -- which is finding the most optimal time table for wash day. Some transitioners and naturals go two or three weeks, and sometimes a month between washes. For me, I know that one week (seven days) is my cap. If I don't wash and condition by day seven, I'm in for an uphill battle. I learned this by, you guessed it, trial and error. A good starting place is two weeks. If you try washing your hair every two weeks, but realize you don't have as much buildup, dryness, or tangling, then you are one of the lucky ladies that can push it out a week or two more. If two weeks is giving you all sorts of grief, amp it up to weekly. If your tresses still can't handle a week, move it up to twice a week.

 How else do you avoid the wash day drama? Leave us a comment below, and be sure to visit my

Should you leave your conditioner on for 30 minutes, or 3 hours? Protein or moisture based? Does a $8 deep conditioner work just as well as a $38 one? Can I use food to deep condition my hair?

If your deep conditioning sessions consist of a lot of trial and even more error, then you need these no-fuss dos and don'ts of successful deep conditioning:


Keep it Regular

Hair that is deep conditioned regularly is more manageable, softer, less prone to breakage and frizz, and is able to retain length.

Remember that whatever "regularly" means is determined by you. Some naturals and transitioners deep condition their hair every 3-4 days. Some, every 2 weeks. I personally aim for once a week, twice a week if I'm lucky. My recommendation is to start out weekly - if your hair begins feeling weak and limp, lessen to every two or three weeks. If it still feels dry, pump it up to twice a week.

Heat it Up

If you want your deep conditioner to work double duty and make your hair feel super soft and smooth (or super strong if it is protein based), heat it up. According to this article by JC of The Natural Haven, heating your deep conditioner up to 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) increases the amount and effectiveness of adsorption (the good stuff that sticks to the hair) of said conditioner. Long story short, warm conditioner works better.

Try heating your deep conditioner in a hot water bath instead of the microwave for best results.


One of the keys to healthier hair is a proper protein to moisture balance. Alternating your deep conditioning sessions between moisture and protein will help keep your hair soft, strong, nourished, and minimize breakage, aiding in growth and length retention. For moisture and softness, stick to conditioners that have fatty alcohols like cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl, plus emollient butters and oils, humectants like glycerin and aloe vera, and ceramides. For strengthening treatments, look for ingredients like hydrolyzed proteins, amino acids, keratin, and henna.

Get Steamy

My pre-poo, detangling, and deep conditioning life forever changed when I got my hands on the Q-Redew. Steam is one of the major ways I keep my hair hydrated and give myself a moisture boost during deep conditioning sessions, and for mid-week refreshing. Steam not only heats up conditioner (bounce back to #2), but it also lifts the cuticle gently to allow for better penetration of conditioning ingredients. Steaming hair while covered in deep conditioner also helps improve elasticity, and moisture retention.

Happy Endings

Have you ever actually read the directions on the back of your jar of deep conditioner? Most of them say to start and concentrate on the ends of your hair first. I know personally, I'm guilty of the exact opposite. However, starting with the ends of your hair is the most beneficial, because your ends are the oldest, driest, and most prone to breakage and splitting. By starting with your ends, you allow them a little more time to soak up and adsorb all of the deep conditioning goodness your product has to offer.

And now, for the don'ts...


Overdo It

Don't deep condition overnight or for hours on end. The obvious exception to this rule is treatments like henna, that require hours to take to the hair.

But for your everyday run-of-the-mill deep conditioner, it should begin to work instantly, and reach maximum capacity at around the 20 or 30 minute mark. If your deep conditioner doesn't work after 30 minutes, it's time to ditch it for one that's more effective. Also, there is a such thing as over-conditioning the hair that can result in mushy, weak hair that has a more fragile keratin coiling.


Don't use your DC to co-wash or as a leave-in conditioner. Deep conditioners are specially formulated to be especially adept at what they do - providing intense conditioning to the hair. And while they may feel nice in the hair, and can in some cases make pretty sweet curl definers, using them to cowash or as leave-ins is generally a no-no. Deep conditioners tend to contain higher concentrations of cationic surfactants (their primary function is to stick to the hair), and will likely lead to even more buildup if used as a cowash or leave-in.

Blow Your Budget

For the most part, deep conditioner base recipes tend to be the same:

  • water
  • fatty alcohol (ceteryl, stearyl, cetearyl)
  • gentle surfactant (behentrimonium chloride, methosulfate, etc.)
  • humectant (glycerin, propylene glycol, honey, sugar, aloe vera, etc.)
  • emollients (oils, butters)
  • hydrolyzed protein (optional)

The order in which these ingredients appear may differ, as will the concentration and types of ingredients. This does not mean all deep conditioners are the same - these variations in formulation can mean the difference between a holy grail product and a horror. What this does mean, is to be price savvy. Take some time and compare the ingredient lists from your favorite expensive deep conditioners with a few drugstore brands. Often times, you'll discover the cheaper brand will be just as good, if not better.

Invite Bacteria

Don't let your DCs sit in storage long-term. Whether it's a DIY mix of avocados, greek yogurt, and Hello Hydration, or you stir your two favorite conditioners together, it is never a good idea to keep mixes for longer than a few days.

Refrigeration may buy you a week but no longer -- unless it is a henna mix that you can freeze for months. The general idea here is that all store-bought conditioners are formulated with a certain concentration of antimicrobials and preservatives that keep them from molding on the shelves. Home DIY mixes have no preservatives, unless you just happen to keep food grade preservatives on hand (essential oils only last so long). To keep the mold away from your mane, only mix enough deep conditioner for a single use every time, and use clean kitchen utensils to mix and stir.

Be Fooled

Don't be fooled by marketing gimmicks and pixie dust. As you may know, only the first 5 or 6 ingredients after water (with a few exceptions) have the most impact on your hair.

Given point #3 about most deep conditioner bases being similar, spending tons of cash may not be the wisest thing. Add to that, not falling for marketing gimmicks and pixie dust. There are tons of products that will showcase exotic ingredients and extracts emblazoned across the label, but when you turn that label over, said ingredient is 32nd on the list right before the preservatives. Unless the miracle ingredient you're looking for is in the top 6 (top 10 to stretch) ingredients, you're setting yourself up to become a victim of a marketing ploy. If it is an oil or butter you're after (like coconut, jojoba, olive, macadamia, or sweet almond), you might be better off buying a cheapie conditioner and adding said oil in pure form yourself.



rapunzel hair products

Many of us can identify with any number of these pre-natural hair scenarios:

  • Paying around $70 (or more!) every two weeks to have a professional hairdresser wash, condition, and straighten your hair.
  • Visiting said professional regularly, and despite being in their care and following their instructions, never seeing any hair growth past your shoulders.
  • Receiving conflicting or counterintuitive information about how to best care for your hair in their absence.
  • Suffering from dryness, breakage, and stalled growth.
  • Thinking that your hair could never be long and thick.

All of these scenarios and more led Rasheda Stewart to found Rapunzel The Future of Hair in 2010. The Rapunzel brand is committed to dispelling the myth that certain hair types have a limited capacity for growth, and their products are geared toward healthy hair care and growth. Beyond product offerings, the core of Rapunzel The Future of Hair is education - with the hopes of luring women away from unhealthy hair practices, weaves, extensions, and products that hurt the growth of their own natural, healthy hair.

When I first visited their website, I wasn't sure if this was a brand I should review because all of the women have straight hair. Gorgeous hair, but straight. But once I began seeing all the rave reviews on social media (seriously, just search the hashtag #rapunzelthefutureofhair on Instagram) and looking at pictures of Rasheda's naturally curly mane, I was convinced that I needed Rapunzel in my life. I was all the way thrilled when I received the Hair Lotion and Hair Silk to test drive and review, along with a soooo right-on-time tape measure for my hair. Without further delay, let's jump in to this review!

rapunzel hair lotion

Hair Lotion

Product Claims

Rapunzel’s Hair Lotion is a deep moisturizing cream made with Shea Butter and other natural oils to help stop breakage, repair split ends, adding manageability and shine with every application.

When used daily as directed, Rapunzel’s Hair Lotion helps promote long healthy hair growth by protecting the hair from heat damage through hydration and moisturization. Perfect for natural, relaxed, and transitioning hair.

Ingredient List

Water, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Bromide, Sorbitol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Steareth-2, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Extract, Phellodendron Amurense Bark Extract, Hordeum Distichon (Barley) Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia Nut) Seed Oil, Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Allatonin, Sodium PCA, Fragrance (Parfum), Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl AlcoholFor natural, relaxed and transitioning hair

  • Leaves hair soft, light and shiny

  • Non-greasy formula

  • Moisturizes dry hair without leaving a residue

Top Ingredients 411

  • Avocado Oil: Moisturizing oil that is high in omega 6 and 9, which helps improve elasticity, strength, and shine in hair.
  • Coconut Oil: Oil high in saturated fats (which is why when cold, it is solid). One of the few known oils to penetrate the hair shaft and truly moisturize hair. Coconut oil helps to moisturize, seal, and prevent breakage.
  • Stearyl Alcohol: Fatty alcohol that acts as a thickener, and emollient. It gives conditioner its velvety feel without making hair greasy. Also used to keep product ingredients from separating.
  • Cetrimonium Bromide: An ammonium salt used in hair prevents static build-up that causes flyaway hair. It is also able to penetrate and condition the hair, and acts as an emulsifier and preservative.
  • Sorbitol: Naturally occurring element in fruits and veggies, but can also be synthetically made from hydrolyzed corn starch. Much like glycerin, it adds slip to a product, as well as functions as a humectant and a thickener. It helps cosmetics from drying out in their containers.


One of the best things in the world for me is when a product actually does what it says it will do.

The Hair Lotion is incredibly creamy and moisturizing without weighing hair down. The consistency is rich and creamy, but not greasy. My hair is a huge fan of avocado oil, so the fact that it was the 2nd ingredient was a definite plus. In fact, the second I put it on my hair, it just soaks right in and leaves it feeling super soft, fluffy, and moisturized.

The Hair Lotion played an epic role in my satin strip braidout, and in my wash and go's. In fact, I recently OD'd on my favorite curl definer (TIGI Catwalk Curlesque Curls Rock Amplifier) during a routine wash and go, and it left my hair feeling super crunchy. I applied Hair Lotion on top of it, to soften it up and it worked like a charm! My curls felt amazing afterwards, and had so much body and bounce!

The one thing I'm not wild about is the fragrance. It has a grapefruity, passionfruit, floral-esque fragrance that I found to be a little to strong for my liking -- but definitely not a deal breaker. The smell doesn't linger too long in the hair, and it didn't trigger any allergies.

Overall product rating: 4.5 Stars! I love the Hair Lotion, but had to deduct slightly for scent. Not a deal breaker, but I'd definitely prefer something a little milder.

rapunzel smoothing serum

Hair Silk

Product Claims

Rapunzel’s Hair Silk smooths ends, conditions and, with daily application, you will notice less breakage and damage caused by chemicals and heated styling.

With combined usage of the Hair Silk and Rapunzel Protein Conditioner, hair will be more manageable, with a “silk-like” luster all the way from root to tip.

  • Non-greasy formula

  • Soft, silky, smooth hair and extra shine

Ingredient List

Olive Oil, Castor Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Safflower Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Fragrance

Top Ingredients 411

  • Olive Oil: Olive Oil is rich in high levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which is good for hair growth. Both mono-unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E are good for moisturizing, protecting and nourishing hair. Olive oil makes hair grow stronger and its emollient properties prevent hair loss.
  • Castor Oil: Emollient and humectant oil, touted as a treatment for thinning hair, hair loss, dry, and itchy scalp. Has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
  • Sweet Almond Oil: Nourishes hair, smoothes hair cuticles to control shedding, promotes hair growth and thickness, prevents hair loss, and boosts shine.
  • Safflower Oil: Protects hair, nourishes hair follicles, moisturizes, and stimulates blood circulation to promote hair growth and thickness. And it is extremely beneficial for natural as well as dry chemically treated hair.
  • Wheat Germ Oil: Ceramide rich oil that helps replenish moisture and strength within the cuticle, helping to ciment them. Great for sealing and correcting porosity issues.


Hair Silk is a godsend. When it comes to oils and butters, I don't know how to act. I either end up using way too much (and staining my scarves and pillowcases), or not enough to make a difference.

Hair Silk literally saved me from myself. What I love about Hair Silk is that the blend is spot on, and works perfect for those in need of conditioning and softness without the hair being weighed down and feeling greasy. As I've mentioned in other blog posts, I suffer from dry end syndrome. This is new to me, because as a transitioner, my ends were heat damaged and straight, which oddly enough, allowed them to retain moisture better.

Once I got chopped, I had to work a little harder to maintain my ends. Heck, I still have to work a little harder. Applying Hair Silk has been nothing short of a miracle. I use it to seal my ends every time I style, and around every other night as a part of my bedtime routine. My end roughness has not emerged since! In fact, my ends are in better condition now than they were when I chopped--seriously. They are smooth, silky, and don't feel rough in the slightest. The curl on my ends has even improved, and I am seeing less and less of those thin whispy breakage hairs that come from your ends when you detangle.  The fragrance of Hair Silk is mild, powdery, and slightly floral -- definitely not as strong as the Hair Lotion. I'm not wild about this fragrance either -- when it comes to oils I'm a huge fan of peppermint essential oil, rosemary, and other herbal-esque fragrances. Again, this is totally a preference of mine and in no way preventing me from using Hair Silk down to the last drop!

Overall product rating:  4.75 Stars. Seriously, the fragrance is the only thing keeping Hair Silk from getting 5 stars. Fragrance aside (which is not overbearing in the slightest...I just am not a huge fan), Hair Silk is a total win. Total!

See more of my product reviews for transitioners & Type 3s here on my blog,

Frizz: some naturals embrace it, others hate it.

For me personally, there is a right time and place for frizz -- and it is not after I've worked super hard to achieve a defined style or a straightened look. Take a look at these 6 tips for fighting the battle against the frizz, and keep your curly hair in check longer!

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