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Once again I have this special time to speak to the Curly/Textured Girls of the world through this fabulous venue. As the holiday season approaches, I would like to take this time to reflect on what a very tumultuous year this has been. But also, I would like to give thanks for all the wonderful blessings that have been bestowed upon us all. Let’s give thanks to ladies of NaturallyCurly.com, who are growing stronger than ever and are able to deliver curly information to a global medium. And I am especially thankful that in January I will be launching the long-awaited collection of my styling products -- TAI TEXTURE HAIR CARE, January 2006 -- which was first featured on NaturallyCurly.com as a limited edition. In honor of the luanch, we are giving away some of our uniquely designed Textured Inspired T-shirts right here on NaturallyCurly.com. Blessings & Happy New Year!

Q: I would like to know if you have any theories on why single-strand knots form at the end of your hair, and what ways those can be avoided!

Diane: Two common reasons why knots form at the end of the hair are a.) The ends are very dry and porous and b.) they are split ends, or both. Depending on the texture or curl pattern, coily hair will form knots faster than any other curl because the hair naturally curls together. Hence, if the hair is dry and split, it forms a knot. You can avoid knots by using a moisturizing conditioner after cleansing and by shaping or trimming the hair at least every two months. Also, one should apply pomade or gloss on the ends of the hair daily or as needed to provide moisture. I’ve created a complete line of styling products especially formulated for curly and textured hair that will be available in CurlMart in January 2006. Tai Texture WhipCrème is a moisturizing pomade and sealing heat protector that you can apply daily. Great for moisturizing the scalp and hair. WhipCrème contains shea butter, essential oils and sesame oil.

Q:: My name is Candace and I am a biracial woman (dad: black, mom: white). I have gone natural (no chemical relaxers, no heat, and cut off relaxed ends) 13 months ago and my hair seems completely foreign to me. I've looked up pictures of mixed people online and my hair doesn't look like those pictures at all. My hair definitely grows in curly but the curls are very small (smaller diameter than a pencil but bigger than a coffee stirrer) and very shiny. It looks like my hair is locked but it isn't. I was wondering if this is natural for biracial people, and if there is any chance that my hair's texture will loosen as it gets longer because the shrinkage is unbearable. Also I have a lot of straight hair that actually grows in with my curls (It looks exactly like my mother's hair only it's growing out of my scalp) and seems to strangle and tangle the curls. I use a lot of conditioner and make sure my hair is always moisturized but the straight hair won't curl. It makes my curls look frizzy sometimes. Is this normal? Thank you for your time.

Diane: After reading your question, I must say, your hair is probably very beautiful and you’re just not accustomed to dealing with it now that it is in its natural texture. It is not uncommon for biracial individuals to have more than one texture on their head. From what you are saying, you have two distinct curl patterns – from both your father and mother. Most times, multi-ethnic individuals will have a blend of textures and their hair will be a combination curl pattern, which results in wavy or loose or very curly hair. However, sometimes you will have multiple textures on one head. Now, your goal is to work with what you have! The good news is that you have shiny hair, so it is not lacking in moisture or oils. However, it will be very important to keep your hair conditioned with a moisturizing cleanser and conditioner as it grows out. There are various styles you can try to control to elongate the curl pattern, like two-strand twists, coils and flat-twists, which are all demonstrated in my book, Textured Tresses. Also, purify your scalp and hair with a spa treatment for the scalp. Once a month, massage Tai Texture Botanical Treatment into the scalp and create an at-home steam conditioning treatment with the bathroom steam technique mentioned in the book. Simply, cleanse and condition your hair, rinse, comb through with a wide tooth comb, then massage Botanical Treatment into the scalp. Fill your bathroom with steam from the shower for 3-5 minutes and sit with the Botanical Treatment in your hair for another 15 to 20 minutes. The results will be soft, shiny and manageable tresses. Also, try Tai Texture StyleShine Gel for styling and setting wavy, curly and all textured sets. As your hair grows out and if you would like the curls looser, you can consider a botanical softener by PhtyoSpecific’s: The Relaxer or botanical temporary straightening balms that are applied before blow drying.

Q: I hope that you are doing well. My problem is that no matter what kind of products I use on my natural hair it just comes out looking puffy and dry. Can you recommend good hair products from shampoo to styling aids? I have a semi-natural curl pattern.

Diane: Hello, Semi –Natural. I think you might have your curl patterns confused. If your hair is semi-natural, it should be either wavy or loose curls. However, your texture might be coarse and thick if your hair is puffy and dry. Or semi-natural could mean you have a softener or texturizer in your hair, which then indicates that it was under texturized leaving the hair puffy and dry. In any case, your cleansers and conditioners should always be moisturizing -- never protein-based or exact products made specifically for relaxed hair unless the hair is texturized. Also, try to use products that are made from plant and flower essences or botanicals. Pantene Relaxed and Natural has a great line of products with botanical ingredients that will assist you in your search for shampoos, conditioners and moisturizing products. My styling products -- Tai Texture Lavender Mist, Texture Botanical Treatment, WhipCrème and Texture StyleShine Gel -- are great products to begin your regime for controlling puffy and dry hair. Use the Botanical Treatment to condition the hair once a month or as a daily moisturizer. Try the StyleShine Gel to control frizz and puffiness. Texture Lavender Mist will moisturize, conditioner and detangle and will keep your hair vaporized throughout the day with a just a squeeze of the mist pump on loose or curly hair. Have fun experimenting with the products that works best for you.

Q: My 6-year-old daughter has curly, dry, thick hair that shrinks to the back of her neck when loose, and hangs down to her mid-back when it’s in braids. Whenever I use products on her hair, it just sucks it up. Then it’s back to the dry look again. I’d like to put it in twists, but need to know what types of products will keep it moisturized and will prevent it from looking so frizzy. I’ve been using oils. I want to go a little more natural. What would you recommend?

Diane: Your daughter’s hair is very thirsty, it wants a lot of moisture and is very porous. That is why it soaks up all the products. First thing, you have to have your daughter’s hair professionally conditioned to begin the process. I recommend she receive a Cream Bath conditioning treatment, which is a combination of a moisturizing conditioner and botanical oils -- and then placed under a steam vapor dryer. This process will help the conditioners penetrate into the hair shaft as well as apply water vapor moisture into the hair cuticle. Botanical and essential oils are the best (they are natural). After you have completed that process, read my book, Textured Tresses, for at-home conditioning treatments. Tai Texture Hair Care -- my collection of styling products -- will be available on NaturallyCurly.com's CurlMart in January 2006. I suggest you use the entire line on your daughter’s hair -- from Texture Lavender Mist for daily light misting and conditioning to Botanical Treatment for hot oil treatments to the WhipCrème for moisturizing the scalp and hair and finally StyleShine Gel for Two-Strand Twist. Cleanse and conditioner with moisturizing products.

Q: What's the best way to cut highly textured hair? Wet, dry, natural, straight? How often do you recommend a trim?

Diane Highly textured hair means that there are very tight curls and the hair is very dense. For this reason, the best way to cut or shape textured hair is by blowing the hair out first with a wide tooth comb to loosen the curl pattern slightly, leaving enough room to see the elasticity. Cutting highly textured hair dry will give the best result. However, when having the hair shaped, the stylist will allow for the curl pattern to bounce back into the curl formation, allowing for the length and amount taken off. I recommend a shaping or trim for healthy ends at least every 6 to 8 months depending on the texture and style cut.

Q: What are some techniques for getting chunkier curls?

Diane: There are several techniques that one can use to achieve chunkier curls. My understanding here is that chunkier means thicker or spirally. Apply Texture LavenderMist and StyleShine Gel after cleansing and conditioning. A) Set the hair on long sponge rods to achieve chunky curls -- they are available in several widths for your choice of dimension. B) The Nubian Knot set, featured in Textured Tresses will also give you a similar look.

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