Bantu-Knots, Braids, Culformers: Which Dries Hair Faster?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Bantu-Knots, Braids, Culformers: Which Dries Hair Faster header image

It's almost June! And with that comes another attempt at managing my hair in this humidity. I usually just two-strand twist and bun, but I want to try some new styles this year. If I sound like a broken record, it's because I've been on this journey for the past year and a half. I've also been regularly blow drying my hair this long too, and while I've found a way to avoid heat damage and breakage, I'm pretty much over how bloated my wash day has become.

As it stands right now, my wash day involves an hour long pre-poo, wash, condition, deep condition with heat, and tea rinse. If I want to shorten it, I nix the condition and just deep condition in the shower. But even when I'm on my game and getting through everything pretty quickly, it's still two and a half hours, and this is without the 45 minutes to an hour long blow dry. So I'm testing out ways to air dry my hair as quickly as possible with the most stretch. So far, I've narrowed it down to three techniques: two-strand twist Bantu-knot/ cornrow combo, braids, or curlformers.

Two-Strand Twist Bantu-Knot/ Cornrow Combo: It's a mouth full, but it's really quite simple. It just involves making 12-16 two-strand twists, wrapping them in Bantu-knots, and in the morning, undoing the knots, and making two cornrows with the twists. Having my hair in this many Bantu-knots actually allows them to dry pretty quickly (which is strange since Bantu-knots are known to take awhile to dry), but this style also helps stretch the roots. My hair is a little damp in the morning, so the two cornrows help to create a sleek, professional hairstyle, while allowing my hair to continue drying in a stretched state.

Braids: Braids are pretty self-explanatory. All I do is make 12-16 braids and let them air dry. With braids, there's no two-step process, making it overall less time, and braids are perfect to pin up so that I can do a head wrap. But the one downfall is that braids can take awhile to take down, making the style better for the weekend.

Curlformers: Ah, curlformers. I have a love-hate relationship with curlformers. They get the best stretch, they allow my hair to dry overnight, and I've gotten to a point where I can install them in 30 minutes. But I hate sleeping in them. It's doable, but it's uncomfortable, and if I'm really tired and I just want to get to bed as soon as possible, curlformers are almost always the worst option. I will be getting a set of waveformers soon, and maybe they're much easier to sleep in, but I'm not counting on it. Despite the sleep issue, curlformers still provide the best stretch and dry the fastest out of the three options.

So, as I said, curlformers dries my hair fastest and with the most stretch, but I've been doing the two-strand twist combo more often. Why? I sleep easier. The Bantu-knots aren't tight, so they bend pretty easily while I'm laying on a pillow. And unlike the braids, I can easily and quickly style my hair during the week day. All in all, they're a win-win. Here's to hoping I can spend the next 3 months without the blow dryer. Fingers crossed.

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5 Alcohol-Free Hairsprays for Natural and Curly Hair

Monday, May 13, 2019

5 Alcohol-Free Hairsprays header image

Here we are again. Another spring moving into summer, and I have to contend with humidity. I've been testing out curling mousses, and I've started to gain an interest in hairsprays.

The most obvious issue is that hair spray contains alcohol and alcohol denat., which can be very drying for natural hair. Luckily, hair spray formulations have come a long way, and many brands are removing the alcohol to make them healthier for more textured hair types.

There's a lot of alcohol-free hairsprays on the market, but I found five that could easily work for curly hair. Oh, and one more thing to note, alcohol is added to hairspray for a reason, specifically to help the product dry as quickly as possible. Without that, there is potential to cause frizz, so it might be better to use hairspray to set the hairstyle, as opposed to spraying it on the finished style.

5 Alcohol-Free Hairsprays for Natural and Curly Hair


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Gluten-Free Test Kitchen: General Tso’s Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Picture of gluten-free vegetable fried rice

Earlier this year, I found out I had celiac disease, and while the diagnosis was shocking, it did provide some answers to the difficulties I was having over the past few months. Thankfully, being diagnosed in 2019 means that I have a plethora of alternatives to the usual bread and pasta that was often seen in my diet. Unfortunately, Chinese take-out is rather hard to find at the grocery store, and I have gone to the kitchen to figure out how to get my fix.

My first gluten-free Chinese takeout experiment? My favorite of favorites General Tso’s Chicken and vegetable fried rice.

General Tso’s chicken has a special place in my heart. I wasn’t familiar with it until I got to college when Jenny, my roommate/ now friend, and I would order delivery. General Tso’s is both spicy and sweet, and super crispy. I adapted the recipe from Tasty, and I swapped out the flour for gluten-free flour (I got the King Arthur brand) and the soy sauce for liquid amino acids. The result was completely indistinguishable from my usual takeout.

Picture of gluten-free general tso's

I also made vegetable fried rice. This was a lot easier and faster than General Tso’s. If you made fried rice before, it’s the exact same, just using liquid amino acids instead of soy sauce. But sometimes, my vegetable fried rice can come out a little too salty. So, instead of eyeballing the recipe, I adapted a chicken fried rice recipe from Seonkyoung Longest, and I got perfectly delicious, perfectly seasoned fried rice.

Overall, the meal was very enjoyable, and my mom liked it too (she doesn’t always like what I cook)! While this celiac diagnosis is frustrating, I still can cook my favorite foods at home.

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UPDATE: It's Been Awhile. Where Have I Been?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Image that says bye gluten

At the beginning of the year, after a three month hiatus, I finally came out to say that I was having a health crisis. Since then, I've gone through a lot of testing, and I finally have an answer...in addition to Crohn's disease, I have Celiac disease (or Coeliac disease for my readers in the UK).

For those who aren't familiar with Celiac disease, it is an autoimmune disorder where the digestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, can damage the small intestine, which prevents nutrient absorption. The only treatment is a strict lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet.

It's been over a month since I got the official diagnosis, and it's still an adjustment. While there's a lot that I apparently can't eat, like bread, some have come as a shock, like soy sauce. But while cooking at home hasn't been so bad, eating out has been a struggle. My usual choices, like fried calamari, buffalo wings, ramen, and bolognese, are no longer options. And I have to communicate to my server that my food cannot come in contact with any wheat or flour.

But with all the changes, the pain has been slowly going away, and I'm starting to get back to my normal routine, like eating healthy, working out, and teaching yoga. And because Celiac disease affects digestion and nutrient absorption, which affects many other parts of the body, I may see some other benefits like more energy, less acne breakouts, and an improved mood.

All in all, while I'm a little apprehensive, the future is starting to look bright again.

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Review: The Aquis Hair Towel is a Game Changer

Friday, February 8, 2019

Picture of a person holding the Aquis hair towel

2019. A new year, and of course, new hair goals. This year, I want to cut down on my heat use, specifically blow drying. Now, there is nothing wrong with blow drying my hair, and it's been a great way to prevent hygral fatigue since my hair can take up to two days to dry. But, at the same time, blow drying takes an extra hour of an already long wash day.

Last year, I tried various methods to air dry, which included blow drying a wash n' go with disastrous results (friendly reminder to myself that wash n' go's are a no go for me). I also tried regularly sleeping in curlformers, but I failed at committing to this weekly. There were a few times I gave up completely believing that blow drying was the only way to ensure my hair would dry in a timely manner. During all of this, I kept seeing ads for a hair towel on Facebook and Instagram. It promised that the towel would dry hair faster and more completely. I was skeptical; after all, I already had a microfiber towel, and it didn't do the best job at drying my hair. Plus, I thought my cotton t-shirt did a perfectly okay job. But eventually, my curiosity caught up with me.

I bought the Aquis towel the last week of 2018. I expected it to take a week to arrive, but it only took a few days. Unfortunately, I was at my mom's, and I wasn't able to use the towel until a few weeks later.

The first time I used the Aquis towel, I blow dried my hair. Surprisingly, the towel wicked more water from my hair than a cotton t-shirt, and I was able to cut down on drying time by half. I was impressed, but I still wasn't sure if the towel would do the same with air drying. A few weeks later, I washed my hair and just didn't feel like blow drying, so I put the towel to the test...and it worked! I did my whole wash process, wrapped the towel around my head for 30 minutes, moisturized and sealed, and made eight braids. In the morning, my hair wasn't completely dry, but it was about 70-80% dry (a cotton t-shirt would only leave it at about 50%). And by the end of that day, my hair was completely dry. It worked as promised!

I only have one critique, which is the shape of the towel. It's 19" x 52" (this is the long length), and I wish they had a square size. My hair does poke out a bit if I wrap the towel around my head, as opposed to turban-style. Of course, this is a very small issue, and it doesn't take away from its performance. And, while this isn't an issue for me, the price does range from $30-45, which may be on the high end for some people.

So, what's the final verdict? The towel is amazing! I totally recommend it if you want your hair to dry faster, or are trying to find ways to avoid heat.

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