My Natural Hair Journey, Chapter 19: Continuing Education

It’s been a while, huh?   As I’ve said previously, I have no interest in turning this web space into another natural hair blog; for one, I don’t have the expertise to offer what I think would be both unique and meaningful advice to the wealth of information that already exists everywhere, and two, I want to stay on target with what I believe is my purpose in blogging.   Hair is such a miniscule portion of who I am, but it is a very significant part of the metamorphosis that has occurred in me within these last two years.   I almost feel the need to apologize to any long-term readers who might think, “Another hair post?”   But then again, if you’ve been around this long, you’d understand.  Thanks and blessings.

Not much has changed regarding the day-to-day hair journey.   I continue to learn, I continue to grow, and most importantly, I continue to gain comfort  and confidence with this new look.    I have found products that work well for me as well as products that work for both of the girls (for the most part)–one with hair that almost mirrors mine (primarily type 4A?), and one with hair that is more like her dad’s (type 3b/c).   With work and school slowing down for the holidays, I found the perfect time in the last month or so to dig into several books that I wanted, and in some cases, needed to read.   Audrey Davis-Sivasothy’s The Science of Black Hair is a treasure chest of information in which I will definitely invest.   Two years after my hair journey began (or four years if you consider the time I spent educating myself underneath my daughter), I am now realizing that almost every blog article and YouTube vlogger I have had the privilege of watching was a spin-off of this book.   Now, I could kick myself that I’ve waited this long to read it.    Having seen all of the information in one place, it makes so much sense now!   Before, I would find some intriguing hair fact, or discover a combination or a personality that appealed to me, but I could never connect my thoughts between all of what appeared to be disjointed.   I now feel as if I stumbled upon the answer key after hits and misses with the exam!

One of the author’s many gems was a simple, yet profound observation about the way that most of us find hair products or care techniques that we wish to try:

‘Many of us select products based on word of mouth or what we have seen others use with amazing hair results.  Unfortunately, these methods of hair product selection rarely work long term…Product selection is similar to purchasing the same gorgeous, designer dress that you saw your favorite celebrity wear on the red carpet.  The dress hugs her curves  and complements her skin tone flawlessly, but when you put the same dress on, the fit isn’t as nice.  In fact, it looks like a totally different dress!  If your hair has one set of needs, but you choose hair care products based on what someone with different hair and different needs uses successfully, your hair will not respond well–even if the product you chose is of superior quality.’

This bit of wisdom probably would have served me well before I got all excited about the Terresentials mud wash that is all the rave in the natural hair community.

I’ll admit that, without the check and balance of the book, I became a sucker for the YouTube love and hype that this product seems to be getting.   Plus, the idea of using mud to clean hair seemed interesting enough to try at least once.   These are FANTASTIC reasons to buy yet another hair product, right?   Yeah, right.   At any rate, the more practical reason, and the reason that this product intrigued me after all of the more silly (but true, sadly enough) reasons I kept considering this product was because of the idea that it could clean, detangle, and restore shine and softness–HEL-LOOO??!!   I was not as fascinated for myself, but moreso for my oldest daughter, whose hair has not responded well to any product except the silicone-laden Carol’s Daughter Tui Hair Smoothie.   And though her hair feels great following a co-wash, I could not shake the idea that I might be sacrificing long-term health for short-term satisfaction.   Plus, I am trying to turn over to her, who has had little interest in hair to date, a fairly low-maintenance regimen that she can take when she leaves home next summer/ fall.   A good detangler is a MUST.  So, having tempered the ridiculous with the mildly savvy and sane, I bought the product and began with myself as the initial guinea pig.

The product calls for a 7-day detox protocol that allows you to clean your hair of any dirt and debris such that you leave ‘nothing on your hair, so your hair will be clean, full, soft and shiny.’ (   I did not use this detox protocol on my own hair because I have used mostly natural products in my hair regimen.  However, given the silicone issue, plus my own need to see if this product truly works, I went with the protocol for the oldest.

We definitely had our moments of I’m-not-sure-this-was-such-a-good-idea.   I am not sure what I expected, but after day 1, I was decidedly under-whelmed.   I continued with the multiple washes on days 2 and 3.   On day 4, she needed to work all day, so I took the time to semi-detangle her hair, as opposed to the previous days when I simply bantu-knotted her hair for stay-at-home purposes.   The detangling was not as smooth as I had expected, but I had less hair in the comb than I would on most days with the previous regimen.   In that way, this product is true to its advertising.

(I think I took this picture on day 3 right before or after I detangled).

Day 4 was the first day that her hair was allowed to fully dry, and what I noticed upon her return home was very dry, moisture-deficient tresses that looked wild-woman ready.   In short, I’m looking at hair that is a ponytail away from being a cross between Jaden Smith and Esparanza Spalding.   This was the same hair I once observed years ago when I used the same Paul Mitchell shampoo, etc., that my relaxed hair loved, on both girls.   That was also when I would complain that their hair felt like broomstraw, especially on the ends.  

Enough with the detox protocol.   I was done.   On day 5, at what should have been 2/3 of the detox protocol, I took more advice from The Science of Black Hair and chose to ‘err on the side of moisture.’       The website discusses commitment to the protocol, advising you not to buy their product at all if you are not going to continue the weeks of restoring your hair.   I do not think commitment was my issue here; I am increasingly convinced that, regardless of what the manufacturers suggest, washing our hair daily, multiple times, is counter-intuitive to everything I have read or seen about black hair.     

So, where am I now?  Not overly enthusiastic about this product, but satisfied that it does do most, if not all, of what it advertises that it will do.   For myself and perhaps eventually my youngest girl, I liked the mud wash results enough to use bentonite clay with a coconut cream–the far less expensive, and potentially far more moisturizing, version of this product.   As for the oldest, the real intended user of this product, I am convinced that the detox suggested so strongly by the manufacturers is not a one-size-fits-all.    In fact, several of the biggest enthusiasts of this product, based upon the reviews I read, stated that they did not go through the detox period at all, but just began using the product as you would a shampoo.    Having said that, I could definitely see this product becoming a part of her regimen, but on no more than a monthly basis.   I am currently experimenting with the use of the mud wash one week, ORS’s Replenishing Pack ( a new favorite of mine) as a bi-monthly deep conditioner, and then a week in between the Replenishing Pack of warm water and ACV washing.   The idea is to establish a routine that uses quality products, simplifies the hair care process for a college student without having her spend a day or more on her hair, and minimizes overall costs.  Come to think of it, isn’t that what we all want?


4 thoughts on “My Natural Hair Journey, Chapter 19: Continuing Education

  1. Thanks for this post. I just borrowed this book from the library and was searching ahead to see the author’s thoughts on mud washes. I, like you, love the idea of the simplicity of the Terresentials, especially for my two babies (my 2 and 4 year old are not cooperative with a multiple step wash routine). However, I started with the bentonite clay (success), and then ventured off to rhassoul and a whole host of ingredients, stuff, philosophies, etc.! I appreciate that your post brought it all full circle: the whole point is a regimine that is consistently effective; affordable goes without saying, as this is what helps with the consistency. I still have yet to actually purchase the Terresentials itself, but since I know that the mud works for us, we’re off to a good start.


    • Thanks for writing, Deevelyn. I actually did switch to the bentonite clay for myself and my oldest, once per month. I loved the effects SO much better than the Terresentials–no dryness or sticky feeling, and I could use it far more liberally without the constrictions of the awkward bottle OR trying to get that last bit of caked mud out of the container. I used equal parts of clay, ACV, and almond milk (I didn’t have coconut milk on hand), then added lavender drops. The smell was almost exactly the same scent as the Terresentials, and as I said, my oldest’s hair was clean AND shiny and soft. It detangled well. I also bought the Curls shampoo, billed as a “gentle” cleanser, but unless her hair is just amazing, I will probably just send her to school with a container of clay. Since she only has to do this once per month, it shouldn’t be too taxing, you think?


  2. Hair is a strange thing – superficial and important at the same time. Like you I feel the need to edit myself or I’d be talking about it all the time, Anywho, I saw your mention of Terressentials and just wanted to say I tried it for the first time and love it. Buh-bye silicones and sulfates.It’s a definite winner.


    • Actually, Clara, I temporarily abandoned the Terressentials product and went with the even more effective and far less expensive bentonite clay/ ACV/ almond milk mixture (equal parts, and you only need about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of each). That combo, for the cleanliness and texture of our hair, plus its relative ease on the purse strings, IS a winner!! However, I may splurge and buy the Terressentials for our daughter now that she is leaving for college. It will save her from having to worry about shopping for ingredients, mixing, etc. We’ll see. At any rate, thanks so much for stopping by and I hope that this product continues to work for you!!


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