Saturday, 24 September 2016

Interview with Nightblooming

I'm so happy to post this!
We actually managed to find a time that fit us both, so I'm very proud to present an interview with Nightblooming!

Igor: Hello NightBlooming, thank you for taking the time to do an interview!

NightBlooming:  It’s my pleasure! I’ve been a long-time follower of your amazing hair progress and your blog, so it’s very cool to be interviewed for it.

Igor: *Laughing* No, seriously?!  I know you are very busy, especially right around the book launches,  so I really appreciate you taking the time for this.

NightBlooming: My schedule is pretty insane between my full-time day job, NightBlooming, and writing. I’m grateful we managed to make an interview work.

Igor: So I think we all want to hear about the new books. What can you tell us about them?

NightBlooming: The first thing I want to give is a huge shoutout to my publisher, Wise Ink and my Project Manager / Editor, Laura Zats. Working with Wise Ink enabled to take my books so much farther than I could have on my own, and things have gone so well that I’ll be using them to publish my fantasy novels. Rehabilitating Damaged Hair Naturally came out on August 31st.  This book began several years ago as an 8-page article, then became a 31-page PDF for sale in the store, and now is a professionally-published 71-page comprehensive guide that covers not only restoring damaged hair, but also stimulating and supporting new hair growth.

Igor: What made you write the original article?

NightBlooming: The original damaged hair article was more a recap of what I’d done to turn my hair around.  I started using chemical dyes when I was 11 and permanent chemical dyes at 13. Between that and rough handling, I utterly destroyed my hair. It had been at hip-length and broke off all the way up to my armpits by the time I was in college. After switching to henna, doing a ton of research and developing my own products to put it back on the mend, I realized that I was by far not the first or last person in that boat.

Igor: What about the second book?
NightBlooming: Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs releases on September 27th. This is another book that started as an article of 13 pages, that is now clocking in at 131 pages with a ton of color photos. It has been an absolute labor of love, but I can sincerely say it is the most comprehensive guide to natural coloring in existence.

Igor: Ah, so that one is right around the corner then! Do you see it as an extension to your shop?

NightBlooming: In a lot of ways, it’s almost the other way around! The products in the shop were ones I developed while trying to mend the damage and get the copper-red I love without chemicals. During all my research I started making products and giving them to others, and they like them. The herbal side of the shop really expanded from there.

Igor: Ah, that’s interesting how things started. I think we have all noticed the care you put into getting the right, natural raw materials for your products. Is it hard to find manufacturers that are up to your standards?

NightBlooming:That can be very, very challenging at times. I’ve had to let go of several suppliers who have dropped their quality. I refuse to make anything I wouldn’t put on my own skin or hair. I’m uncompromising, and I like to think my customers appreciate that. The second part of this is that my first major was actually in Biology, and although that isn’t what I went into as a career, it’s still a huge passion of mine. I love experimenting, figuring out how things work, and applying this in a practical science way to natural hair care.

Igor: It seems to pay off, I mean, the Panacea salve have been such a must-have for hair-lovers for ages… 

NightBlooming:*Laughs* Yeah, I think I finally realized how popular it was when people started doing memes about it.

Igor: That’s a milestone for sure! So here is a question out of personal interest: How is the aloe vera you use, pressed? With or without skin?

NightBlooming: Without the skin. I’ve an aloe plant that started life beside a dumpster when I was in college (now over a decade ago). Someone had tossed it on move-out day, and I took it in, gave it some TLC, and it kind of took over. The biggest leaves are as wide as my hand, so when I need aloe for anything I take one, skin it, blend it, and press it through a nut milk bag. That gives all the great benefits without it being super-lumpy.

Igor: I have to say, I have always been curious about what you draw inspiration from for your product names and descriptions… You really paint a picture!

NightBlooming: Thanks! Have to put that degree in English Writing to use somehow. I’m a gigantic fantasy nerd, and I’ve been an avid reader since I was little. My products draw a lot from mythology, fantasy writing, and RPG games. I’ve got products named after creatures in the Forgotten Realms, Middle Earth, and one inspired by Critical Role.

Igor: A fellow nerd *laughs*  It feels like we’re working backwards a bit here, but what made you get interested in hair like this to begin with?

NightBlooming: I’ve wanted to be an elf ever since I knew what elves were. I may actually even cosplay as Tauriel. More seriously, I’ve always, always had long hair. I’ve never had it short once in my life, so when I damaged it so badly that over a foot of it broke off I was just heartbroken. It was like I’d lost part of my personal identity, and reclaiming that was reclaiming part of myself.

Igor: I think a lot of us can relate to that *laughs* It just becomes a part of you after a while, something you want to keep happy and healthy, right? So, tell us a bit about your hair and hairtype…

NightBlooming: My hair is 2a/M/ii. I used to be a much stronger 2b/2c, but henna really knocked my waves down a few notches. It’s colored with my own Fire Genasi blend, which makes my natural medium to light brown hair a copper-red. Length-wise, I tend to grow it out to about fingertip and then trim it back to tailbone. Between my ii thickness and my layers, I can’t maintain the hemline thickness I want past there.

Igor: What kind of routine do you find works the best for you?

NightBlooming: I think a lot of people, when they first find herbal hair care, just go nuts. I did. Super-elaborate routines and tons of products and treatments, but eventually I settled down into a pretty easy routine. I shampoo and condition with Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue three days a week and use Freya’s Salve as a leave-in after. I use Selkie Herbal Hair Detangler as a mister when I put my hair up, and then touch up my roots with Fire Genasi once a month or so. My husband trims my hair for me two or three times a year. I wear it up every day for my day job, which cuts down on the daily wear and tear.

Igor: What would you say is the best haircare advice you have encountered and you keep repeating to other people?

NightBlooming: That what you DON’T do is way more important than what you do. Your hair will grow just fine and healthy out of your head with very little effort on your part. It’s the chemical dyes, heat styling, chemical perming / straightening, and un-hair-friendly elastics and clips that cause damage. Giving those up will go so much farther than any magical hair potion.

Igor: Ah, yes that is great advice for sure. This is usually an entertaining question to get an answer to, so what was your number one hair mistake? 

NightBlooming: Destroying my own hair with dye would be the first one, but since we talked about that, I’ve got two, others. My first time hennaing I only used straight lemon juice as the liquid part of the mud. My hair was so dry and my poor scalp was in agony.

Igor: Haha, ouch! That’s one of those things you never repeat… 

NightBlooming: Right? I imagine this has more than a little to do with why I’m always telling people that lemon juice in henna isn’t necessary. I’ve never added it again.

Igor:  What was the second thing?

NightBlooming: My first go with an ACV rinse, ah, I didn’t realize you were supposed to dilute it at like a ten-to-one ratio into water. So I poured an entire liter of ACV all over my hair and my scalp. That went over about as well as the lemon juice except I stunk like apple cider vinegar for two weeks.

Igor: *Laughs* Does it ever amaze you how you started from that mess, and now have a successful Etsy shop and two published books? I mean, you’re getting close to ten thousand positive reviews on the store… Ten thousand! Not all customers reviews anyways, so that is very impressive. Does that ever make you stop and  think “Wow”?

NightBlooming: It’s such a whirlwind and sometimes when I actually stop and look at it all it’s just even more insane. That, specifically, is a credit to my husband. The day-to-day tends to wrap me up and he’s the one that always makes a point to tell me to step back and really reflect on what I’ve accomplished and be thankful for how fortunate we are. The success of NightBlooming is two parts hard work, one part luck, and one part my amazing customers. I just hit 15,000 sales, I ship packages all over the world, and I’m finally going to be a professional, published author. When I posted my first pair of hair sticks on Etsy back in 2007 I never, not once, thought it’d go this far.

Igor: So what does the future hold for NightBlooming’s hair accessories and herbal enchantments?

NightBlooming: I have so much exciting stuff coming up! The new books are obviously huge, but the next big one is going to be the new site. I’ve been on Etsy and Blogger for a long while, but am finally going to have everything rolled into one place with even more features. I’ll stay on Etsy, of course, but on my own site I’ll be able to do more things for my customers, like a newsletter, articles, and customer-rewards program. Not all the features will be live at once, but I’ll finally have a place that offers the amount of customization that both my customers and I want. After that’s settled I’ve got a few new products on deck, including brown herbal hair colors and a chelating and clarifying rise. And at some point, I’d really love to get back to making hair accessories. They’ve been on hold for so long now because of the books and I miss them.

Igor: That sounds really exciting! I can’t wait to see it all. On that note, thank you very much for taking the time to come talk to me and for letting me post this for my blog readers!

NightBlooming: It was fun! A big virtual hug for all your readers!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Throwback Thursday

This is the kind of thickness I wish I could maintain at my ends!
But ugh, it's impossible to have both the nice length for different updos while maintaining this thickness.
However, I do think my last trim was a step in the right direction and I'm still really happy with my loss of patience!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Igor's top 10 tips for growing your hair

#10 Never put something in your hair that cannot dissolve in water
I'll start off with a simple one, one that has saved me quite a bit of trouble over the years: Never put something in your hair that cannot dissolve in water or conditioner. No matter how experiment-happy you get, no matter how praised the DIY treatment is, just don't do it. Yes, that oatmeal-treatment does look awesome. Yes, the post treatment-shot of that banana-treatment looks amazing. Just don't do it. If something can't dissolve in water or conditioner, don't put it in your hair.
You risk ending up smelling like slowly rotting banana for days. The stories are out there on the forums, often buried deep on the topic lists: No one likes those horror stories, and people often don't write about them. But they do happen.

#9 Know your growth rate
This is an important one if you want more length: You need to know exactly how much growth you get, so you know exactly how much you can take off to keep your ends smooth and healthy. It's so easy to fall for the wisdom of tips like "You need to take off 1 inch every 6 weeks to keep it healthy", but if your hair doesn't grow that fast you can actually end up with minus growth.
(In my case, with 1,5 cm every month plus 2-3 months in the summer with 2 cm, I get 12x1,5 + 3x0,5 = 19,5 cm of growth. (52/6)x2,5 =21,6 cm, which would mean that with the above tip, I would end up with minus 2 cm of growth in a year.)
How you actually measure isn't the most important. What is important is that you do it the same way every time. Write it down, keep track and know your seasonal variations.

#8 Get your trims
This is a twin tip to #9. Trims are important. You need to get rid of damage: It affects the healthy hair because you need more handling to detangle, it develops/spreads and causes damage to the healthy hair surrounding it.
Don't be afraid to trim, it's one of the easiest ways to make your hair feel awesomely smooth and healthy. There are many methods: Micro trimming/dusting, search and destroy where you look for individual damage and snip the problems you find, and simply cutting all ends sticking out of a braid, just to name a few. A trim doesn't have to be big to have a big effect, just a few millimeters can make a difference.

#7 The value of products
There are really only so many things you can actually do to hair with products and ingredients. Keratine, 'cones, panthenol, oils and plant extracts just to name a few that often gets highlighted on a product. Some will have an effect, some won't. But most of the time, the specific ingredients themselves doesn't have a big effect.
You simply can't "rebuild" hair in the way that commercials wants you to believe.
What you can do is shield and protect your hair from damage. Products is where you can save serious money: Often a cheap product is every bit as good and makes your hair look awesome as an expensive one.
When you really want to squeeze more effect out of your product, you should look into different washing methods or generally make your deep conditionings longer.

#6 Leave ins are love
Another twin tip, this one to #7. Although there is only so much you can do with your products and ingredients, leave in products can do quite a bit: They can make your hair smoother, so you can comb tangles out with less force. They can allow oils a long time to penetrate your hair. They can offer some hold and make your updos stay prettier for longer. They can add shine. They can add SPF and protect your hair from UV rays. Leave ins are great!

#5 Check your tools
When buying things for your hair, you will often find terms like "Hair friendly!" plastered on them. This means absolutely nothing. There are no regulations for the quality for tools and items for hair. So look thoroughly for seams and sharp edges. One single sharp seam can rip and tear your hair, and worst of all: Take a long time for you to discover. Feel your tools everywhere you can: If something is sharp enough to scratch or hurt your skin, it will damage your hair. Take sandpaper or even a nail file to all edges that touch your hair just to make sure.

#4 Knowledge is power!
Advertisements love pseudo-science. Advertisements love telling your that this new, unique, totally exotic extract in this amazing product will definitely make a difference to your hair. Having the most basic understanding of what hair actually is, and what you can actually do with it, will help you avoid those traps. Wikipedia will do fine, but I'd encourage anyone to open an anatomy-book.
This also goes for knowledge on what works for your own, unique head of hair. Not everything works for everyone. If you know something makes your hair a tangled mess, or something causes closed comedones on your scalp, never let anyone convince you anything else!

#3 Motivate yourself through your hair
Eating healthy, getting exercise, avoiding alcohol, not smoking, sleeping well, avoiding stress. We all know this stuff. Diabetes, lung diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, pulmonary disease, strokes. We all heard about the risks so much it makes us deaf to them. The "Be healthier!" resolutions are all so big, somehow vague and hard to relate to.
How can you relate to that not eating enough fruit can increase your risk of xyz if you're over the age of zyx by yzx %? You can't.
But knowing exercise increases your blood flow and may increase your hair growth? Or that eating healthy avocado supplies you with healthy oils that are good for growing healthy hair? Or that sugar breaks down the collagen in your skin? It's so much easier to relate to. So much more understandable. And it motivates.

#2 Find your minimum effort
The thing that most people struggle to understand is that it takes an effort to screw up your hair. Leaving your hair mostly alone, just washing it when needing and then putting it up, is so much less effort than all the fancy treatments with the trendy buzzwords, the "totally damage free!" straightener, that one brush you can totally use on wet hair and all the organic, natural kitchen witchery you found on Pinterest.
Finding that minimum effort is where the magic happens.
This is why benign neglect is praised and preached. It's simply the way to go if you want to grow your hair long and/or healthy.
Finding the minimum effort is also where you won't suddenly find yourself frustrated with how time consuming growing your hair is, and cutting it all off in frustration. Repeat cycle ad libitum.

#1 Blog!
Blogging is such a good tool for a lot of the tips mentioned above, which is why it's my tip #1. Use it to keep track of your growth rate, your trims, the products you like and dislike, your experiments, your tools and routines. Use it to motivate yourself, to focus on the cool updos you can do in the future with just a little more length. Use it to log the styles you do, so you can always go back to find the updos you like if they should slip from rotation. Use it so you can always go back to a routine that worked for you, if you should have strayed too far into DIY's and experiments. Keep track of things that doesn't work for you, so you won't fall for the temptation to try it again. Save your links and inspirations in your blog.
Have fun with it, do it for yourself, but remember you can also get a lot of interesting feedback from your readers!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Today's hair

Clean and freshly deep conditioned hair. Mmm. Smooth and easy to work with.
Why didn't I get this done last week?
I really appreciate how nice and thick my braid is all the way down now!
Tassel is a little long though, hmm?