Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Combed Out My Dreads

Do I have to cut my dreads off? No. Can I brush them out? Yes! How? Lots of patience!

Why'd I comb my dreads out?
Multiple reasons. In part, for the same reason I put them in: I was bored with having the same hairstyle, and I wanted a change. My dreads were short (they had finally started to grow instead of shrink, but of course, dreads don't grow very quickly!), so I didn't have many styling options, and I really wanted styling options!

My one-year-old backcombed dreads.
Which leads me into another reason I brushed them out: I missed all the girly aspects of not having dreads. I missed brushing my hair (despite the fact that I rarely brushed it before I had dreads--my hair is naturally very straight and doesn't need much help to stay that way), braiding it, styling it, etc.  If my dreads had been long enough for me to style in fun updos, I might not have missed those things so much.

And finally, I brushed my dreads out because they weren't set up in a way I thought I could maintain for years. The back dreads were really thick--almost two inches or more in diameter--so they were heavy, even though they were short, and they took all day to dry completely (the thinner ones near my face only took a few hours). Also, I had tons of loose hairs which, even after a year, refused to find a home.

Was combing out my dreads hard?
Yes and no. It took a long, long time. I brushed/combed my hair for several hours every day for over a week. Those knots had been thriving for over year, so they were compact. On the other hand, I put half a bottle of conditioner and half a cup of baby oil in my hair and after that all I really had to do was grab a dread and push a comb through the end of the knot. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat ... for a week.

If you're going to do this, you might as well marathon your favorite tv show while you do.

Holy POOF! I had a serious post-dread fro!
Did it hurt?
Not initially. I was gentle with my hair because I wanted it to come out healthy and unbroken. Since I didn't pull at the comb too hard, I didn't pull on my scalp too hard either. After too many hours of pulling in a row, though, my scalp did start to get sore, so I just stopped and picked up another time.

Was there dirt and guck or spiders in there?
Nope. I washed my dreads whenever my scalp needed it or I'd hung out around fires or anything that might make them smell bad, so when I brushed them out, they were incredibly clean. I'd heard horror stories, so I was a little worried, but I shouldn't have been! (Secretly, this was part of the reason I brushed them out--my curiosity was getting to me, and I wanted to know what the insides looked like.) Now that I know the insides were fine, I would feel comfortable leaving them in for years.

Was my hair damaged by being in dreads for a year?
Honestly, although dreads may look like a potential danger zone for hair, when you stop and think about it, leaving your hair alone for a year is much kinder than some other routes: blow-drying your hair every day, bleaching it, combing and playing with it (which can cause split ends), etc. I had a few split ends at the bottom (which, considering I hadn't cut my hair in a year and a half, is only natural), but other than that, my hair seemed very healthy.

After I brushed my dreads out: good as new!
The only weird result from putting my hair in dreads for a year is that my hair has extra volume it didn't used to have. As you saw in the picture above, I had a serious fro after I brushed my dreads out. Most of the crazy dread-caused texture went away after I washed, conditioned, and brushed it, but my hair hasn't quite returned to its pre-dread state of uber-straight-ness. Now, because it was stuck in knots for a year, my hair has a very slight, microscopic wave/curl to it (like in the fro picture, but less dramatic). The waves are so small that they don't actually make my hair look wavy; they just add volume and texture, which is kind of cool, if you ask me. I expected it to wash out right away, but it hasn't yet (it's been a month). Still, I don't believe it'll last much longer than a chemical perm does: three to six months.

The picture to the above is my hair now. After I brushed the dreads out, I dyed my hair black (a temporary dye, so it's starting to wash out), and did some heavy layering with a razor brush. The waves you can see in this picture are not the texture I was talking about (which is much, much smaller--too small to see unless you're very close); those waves are because I braided my hair after I washed it last night.

Will I ever dread my hair again?
Even as I was brushing out my dreads, I was planning my next set.

For the fun of it, I will probably try the twist-and-rip method this time. Not because I didn't like the backcombing, but because I want to know what the difference would be like. I've seen pictures, and I think they might give me more of a natural look than the backcombing did (the big hair look was what I was going for last time, which is why I picked backcombing, but this time, I'm going to try for something different).

Also, I want smaller sections. I had 45 dreads of varying sizes, and although at first, the thick ones were the most fun, the thin ones ended up being more practical. The thick ones were heavy; they sucked hair out of the dreads next to them, so they kept growing; and they made washing my hair a pain because they took so long to dry (and you always want to let your dreads dry completely before getting them wet again, so you don't get mold or anything disgusting like that growing in your hair).

I want to wait until my hair grows out more, so I can have long dreads. I'm hoping long dreads won't create as many loose hairs, but that may be wishful thinking.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks to Joe Iriarte and Steven P. Watson for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! They're both awesome; check them out (click their names to view their blogs)! 

Joe is the rarest of people: a native Floridian (which killed me because nearly all of my family fall into that category -- what were the odds?). His blog features in-depth, thought-provoking posts with a pinch of cynicism.

Steven and I bonded on Twitter over LOTR. I heart nerds (cause I am one), and we share geekiness. Relatively new to the blogging community, he blogs mostly about writing (Five sentence fiction, nano, etc).

So here are the rules:
1. In a post on your, blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, Add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

As per the rules, 7 facts you may or may not know about me:
1) I was born in a tourist state (Florida), and I live in its tourist-state mirror (Montana). Florida gets 9 months of summer; Montana gets 9 months of winter. People go to Florida to escape the cold; people go to Montana to escape the heat.
2) I became a widow less than two months after I turned 23. My daughter was 8 months old.
3) I love sushi so much, I learned how to roll it at home. Rolling sushi is especially fun with friends (also cheaper because we each buy one of the ingredients).
4) Pets: I've kept a fishtank for years; fish are very easy pets, especially betas. Last June, I got a kitten. He sleeps on my arms while I type (it's awkward, but he's too cute to refuse). My daughter (now 4) treats him like a sibling -- she's even threatened to "tell mom" on him. No kidding.
5) Now I'm a writer and freelance content editor, but I've had a wide range of jobs: programming engineer (fancy way of saying computer programmer), web designer, personal finance consultant, secretary, waitress, janitor, burger flipper (while pregnant, ugh), and retail employee (cashiering, floor, and flow). I found something to like in every job, but I think I finally found my niche!
6) I'm about as fluent in French as anyone who hasn't lived in France can be. I studied French literature (including classics from the middle ages and Renaissance), poetry, and European history at University using French textbooks.
7) I'm getting married this July (on Bastille Day, but that's a coincidence).

And the 15 bloggers I am nominating for the Versatile Blogger Award ...
Walk Slowly, Live Wildly - Sara Janssen loves God, family, health, yarn and eco-friendly living. She used to live in an RV that ran on veggie oil!  She also (as if that isn't enough) has awesome dreads and an inspiring fashion sense.
Linguisticali Speaking - Vegan, feminist, dreadhead, and linguistics nerd, Ali blogs about life with humor.
Romancing the Palate -  Rebecca Lynn blogs about her journey to becoming a published romance author and her food obsession. And yes, the two do mix! Yum, foodie romance.
Veronica Scott - Veronica Scott is a new author (her first book, Priestess of the Nile, comes out next week!) who loves ancient Egypt. Her books combine her love of Egyptian culture with romance and fantasy.
Ruminating in the Desert - Guy Harrison blogs about self publishing (his self-published novel Agents of Change is scheduled for release next month). He offers tips for new authors.
Unintentionally Brilliant - Roxie is an editor, but her blog focuses more on her personal life - single parenthood, etc - than her profession.
The Writer Librarian - Karen McCoy writes about writing from a unique perspective: a librarian's perspective. She is currently seeking representation for a YA fantasy novel, Triskeleon.
Squidink - Sarah Robertson's blog is a fun mix of adventures in writing and random interests (like music -- she's provided me with a few song addictions).
Writability - Ava Jae gives writing advice.
Dasia Has A Blog - Dasia's topics are random, unified by her sarcastic voice.
Between the Sheets - Heather Webb is an author and foodie with detailed advice for writers, including how to navigate not only the pages, but also the daunting world of publishing and promotion. She will be seeking representation for her novel Becoming Josephine: The First French Empress soon.
Anonymous Legacy - A writer who wishes to remain anonymous - so I won't give her away by naming her - blogs about writing with a hint more spunk than most.
Robin A Burrows - Writer. Poet. Dreamer. Want to read her poetry book? Links on her blog. - Jenny Adams is a writer who loves medieval French literature, cupcakes, web design and purple. She's engaged to be married in June!
The Scribbles of Girltaristhan - Hannah J blogs about life as a Christian, wife, geek, nerdfighter and more.

Holy cow, that took a long time! I pity everyone I just nominated. Hard decisions ahead for you! ^_^

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Natural Backcombed Dreads, 9 months old

Picture time again! My natural (meaning I am not using wax or any other products to help my hair knot), backcombed dreads are all 9 months old (some are almost 10 -- I dreaded my hair slowly, over 3 weeks, because I did the backcombing myself).

Seeing pictures of my hair made me feel good; my dreads are gradually moving from crazy mess to awesome knots.

There's still a bunch of fuzzies and loose hairs, but maybe fewer than last time?

My ends are my weakest spot. Playing with them (rubbing the ends in circles against my palm) has helped the front dreads knot together, but there are still huge portions of my back dreads (most notably those closest to my neck -- they're the hardest to reach) that are still completely unknotted. The difference between the knots and the silky, smooth hair is obvious, but I drew some arrows anyway.

I'm considering backcombing and rubber-banding the loose ends in the back. My play-with-my-ends fidgeting habit hasn't worked on the dreads with 4-5 inches of loose hair at the bottom (I tried, but after a few hours, the knots fell out). This might work if my hair weren't so naturally silky and straight, but it is, so force (elastic bands) may be necessary.