Learning to read your hair?

I just started on a modified-CG routine a couple of weeks ago, and was looking for advice on "reading your hair." People on here keep mentioning being over-conditioned, or producty, or having dry, straw-like hair. I'm just having a real hard time trying figure out what my hair is doing, or needs.

I have 3A, low density, normal elasticity hair. Texture and porosity I'm still trying to figure out. I'm going with medium for both right now.

I've gotten a little over-eager with things, and have changed my products, which leads to the confusion. On Friday, I used LowPoo and then AOHR as a rinse out, AnGel as the styling. "Rinse out" is a bit misleading. My hair just soaked up the AOHR. I left it on for a few minutes while doing other shower stuff, and I could barely feel anything when I rinsed out. I take it that means my hair really liked/needed something in it? Yesterday, I did LowPoo and AOGBP. Same thing. Could barely feel the conditioner when I rinsed. However, I didn't notice anything extraordinary about the curls after they dried.

Today, I tried GTTT and went back to AOHR as the rinse out. And tried LALSG, since everyone raves about it. Wow, is that stuff thick! And dries hard. When my husband saw my hair about an hour later he said "it looks... stringy." And I hadn't looked at it yet, but he was right. Tiny little clumps. And very very hard feeling. I scrunched it out, and it looked better. But still very small clumps. And it doesn't feel soft. I want to say it almost feel oily, but maybe that's just because it has more moisture in it than it used to. It isn't oily, but it just doesn't feel right.

Tomorrow, since I don't have to go to work, I'm tempted to try without any gel to see what my hair does.

I don't mind experimenting with products, but I'm having a hard time figuring out the results of the experiments. Any tips would be appreciated. Here are some snapshots of today's experiment, about 14 hours after applying products.

Thanks!
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First-I must tell you that your hair is just beautiful. I am a 2 and I want to be 3 or more!

I am right there with you (this, I know, helps neither of us!). As a newly discovered wavie (after having stick straight hair for 45 years!) I went out, bought, ordered and have tried many products foreign to me and my hair and scalp!

I had the same oily, but not, over product feel and look this week. I think it is our A-ness! I have very healthy, shiny hair that is weighed down by everything! Because I am curly, that has not suddenly changed that about my hair.
A wonderful poster here (kellygreen49) has suggested that I stick with what I am using and just change one item a a time to be a "detective". Otherwise, I wondered if the look was this product or this or the ionic diffuser, and so on. I have a Jessicurl kit coming Tuesday and as tempting as it is to jump in and use it all, I will only add or sub 1 product at a time (unless the kit indicates that one MUST be used with another to work). I have discovered that the low poos are so moisturizing that I may often be able to pass on conditioner. I have also learned that gel is too moisturizing and mousse gives me better curl and hold. I am learning my hair a little at a time.
I still do not know how to tell if magnesium is good or bad for my type or if I need to add or avoid protein. I am in advertising, I am not a chemist!! haha!

Hope you discover your perfect combination! I'll be watching our posts since I will be able to learn from you!
If your hair is soaking up AOHR, it's probably porous or VERY dry. I find the AO products too heavy to use more then twice a week in winter or at all in the summer--and I use VERY rich products most of the time.

Marsha's blog may help you determine your texture: http://curljunkie.blogspot.com/2010/...rositymoi.html

This thread on Texture and Porosity should help: http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlta...ad.php?t=67218 It takes you to Struttswife's website. Her ebook, which is available on the homepage, is a good investment for newbies. All of the information is in one place.

Coarse hair is the hair texture that usually HATES protein. Most curlies are fine and medium textured, so it's unlikely that you'll have problems with some protein. Fine hair and porous hair need protein. Many of us can't use enough. If you use moisturizing products with protein, it's a win/win situation.

Many of us rotate products. My hair easily satiates, so I did this even in the shampoo/conditioner days. I seldom use any one product more then twice a week.

It seems as if you are lowpooing a lot. I, personally, find most of the lowpoos very drying--especially Deva LowPoo. The NoPoo is drying, since the ingredient change, too. I'd try to wean myself away from so many lowpoos a week. You may want to think about a product like Curl Junkie Daily Fix. It's a cleansing conditioner with Cocamidopropyl Betaine--a gentle cleansing agent that's in some lowpoos. The rest of the ingredients make it moisturizing. It also has a chelating ingredient, in case you have hard water.

My hair prefers the more natural products and doesn't care for most gels. When I'm forced to use gel, I also choose more natural ones.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic; Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Aloe Fix
First off, your hair looks great! I wish my hair looked that good at only a few weeks into CG!

1. Soaking up products: Hair can really do this when it's parched (needs moisture) or hungry (needs protein). I once went through an entire bottle of AOGPB in a week when my hair really needed protein; I actually went through several bottles of really moisturising conditioner very quickly recently when I used too much protein and needed a lot of moisture. It will calm down as your hair gets back into condition.

2. I'm personally not a fan of the LA Looks gels (I don't like gel in general, but LA Looks I like the least), and it's for exactly the same reason you cite - it dries really hard and doesn't exactly go soft. I'd chalk the stringyness up to the product for the time being. It's possible you've overdone the oil (both AO products have wheat germ oil as bases, which can be too much oil for some people), but if you only noticed it with the LA Looks, then assume it's the gel for the time being. Hair that's properly moisturised will feel ever so slightly oily in my experience. It won't look oily unless you've actually overdone the oil, but it will feel a bit less like cashmere and a bit more like satin (soft, but a bit more slippery? Hard to explain what I mean).

3. I agree with Kathymack that you may be lo-pooing too often. I find lo-poos extremely drying (coco betaine hates me), and do better with co-washing and a random lo-poo or sulfate poo once or twice a month. Weaning yourself away from shampoos may help with the soaking-up-the-conditioner issue as well. (There's nothing wrong with lo-pooing daily, it can just dry some people out).

As far as 'reading' hair goes, here's my sort of quickie guide:

Overconditioned: 'octopus ends' (curls that are fine mid-shaft but limp or even straight on the end), extremely soft hair with less curl than usual. Use less moisture for a bit and try some adding some protein.
Hair needs moisture: Hair will be dry, straw-like, or brittle. Occasionally mistaken for protein sensitivity or build-up. Use more moisturising products.
Too much oil: an oily look, possibly with an oily feel. Hair may be weighed down, lank, or stringy (not necessarily - depends on how resilient your personal curl pattern is!). Figure out the problem product and use it less.
Hard water build-up: A dull appearance (no shine), crackly or brittle feeling hair (especially the ends) that extra moisture does not help, frizz that seems to not have an obvious cause. Do a chelating cleanse (with EDTA in it).
Protein sensitivity: dry, crackly, straw-like hair that is noticed in particular after using a product heavy on protein. NB. this is not actually sensitivity if you have not followed a PT with a DT (most PTs need to be followed by DTs). Protein sensitivity is not usually something to be diagnosed after a one-off event; it's a trend you will notice over time if it's a problem. Avoid protein aside from necessary PTs if sensitivity is noticed.
Protein buildup: sudden onset of symptoms similar to protein sensitivity when you normally are fine with protein. This is a temporary condition, and you can fix it by cutting out protein and using more moisture until your hair is back to normal.
Aloe/glycerin/humectant sensitivity: Upon using products heavy on aloe or glycerin a 'flash-drying' effect is noticed (hair dries on application), usually followed by unusual amounts of frizz when completely dry. To avoid this, watch dewpoints (humectants are best in dewpoints over 45 and under 65), or don't use them at all. For some reason I personally find humectants fine in conditioners but a problem in styling products.

Things like being 'producty' or hard are usually solved by either not using the product causing the sticky, producty feel, or by scrunching out the hard crunch (SOTC as it's referred to here), sometimes with a pomade or butter. Occasionally I find producty or hard hair is caused by using too much leave-in, and that's easy enough to rectify (just don't use as much).

hope that helps! :-)
3b/c. Fine, med-high porosity, normal elasticity. Hair loves oils in summer, protein in winter. Constantly battling the hard water monster.

Favourites:
CJ Curl Theory, Curl Rehab, Smoothing, Curl Fix, Daily Fix, CCCC, CIAB, CQ, SSCC, MC shampoo, Inecto Pure Coconut Oil, CP luscious curl creme (summer), DB Pumpkin Seed (summer), FD/MT, JCWDT, JCTS

American literature PhD student in the UK...
If you are looking for more clumps, try either the ice queen method or the super soaker method.
My hair was very dry initially. When I started CG I didn't need to low poo for 2 months.
Since you have used ao gbp without having a big problem, you know you can use at least some protein. Now you just need to figure out your hair's properties. If you read the above links and are still confused, ask your hair stylist. A stylist can tell you thickness and texture for sure and should be able to help with porosity.
http://pedaheh.blogspot.com/ (a blog to help new wavies, go to the how do I get started page)
2a (nc.com) 2bFi (Fia), very fine, thin, low/normal elasticity, porous, CG, doesn't get weighed down
Cowash: Tresemme naturals
Rinse out/leave in: Renpure Organics (red)
Curl enhancer: FSG
Gel: BRHG, Salon care aloe, Ecostyler Krystal (normal dews)
PT: ION effective care, IAgirl's gelatin PT
Low Poo: renpure (red), Ion swimmers
Wow Elora_c, I think I found my hair twin. I don't really have any answers for you. I just never thought I would find a hair twin. Good luck in your search for answers.
Hair Type: 3a I think
Co-wash: Suave Naturals Lavender or Coconut
Rinse Out: Nature's Gate Henna, GF Triple Nutrition, GVP
Leave In: Any one of the above rinse outs
Styling: I need help, BRHG, FSG, HETT mousse, Biotera Curl Creme. I have lots of stuff just don't know what to do...help!
Thanks for all the help, ladies! Today I just did the GTTT and AOHR. Although my hair is having a frizz-fest, it does feel fairly soft. So I think it was the LA Looks that my hair didn't like.

I exercise every day, so I do feel the need to wash with something daily. I did just get the Nature's Gate Joboba conditioner this morning, so my plan is to use that as a regular co-wash and then use the GTTT once a week. I plan to use the AOHR regularly as the RO, with one or two days of the AOGBP.

I tried the stretch test. My hair is somewhat short and was very slippery, so it was a bit hard to judge how far it stretched before snapping. When it did snap, the broken ends were all krinkly. I think this means more protein needed.

The explanations of over-conditioned and too much protein were very helpful. That's what has me nervous about this whole CG method. So, now that I know what to look for, I'll try this routine of products and see how my hair responds.
First-I must tell you that your hair is just beautiful. I am a 2 and I want to be 3 or more!
Originally Posted by justajesuschick
First off, your hair looks great! I wish my hair looked that good at only a few weeks into CG!
Originally Posted by oddityofwings
Just wanted to thank you both for the kind compliments! I'm from a straight-haired family and work in an all-male environment, so curly-compliments are rare. I think that's one of the things I like best about NC: everyone is so supportive of other's curls. Of course, I like everyone else's curls much better than mine.
Hair:3A, fine texture, normal porosity, normal elasticity. Low density.

Shampoo: CJ Daily Fix, Hello Hydration
RO: SS Caitlin's Conditioner
LI/Styler: SS Protein Spray, CIAB, Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper

Treatments: SS RPT and SS DD


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