Ahh, water! The one thing we need to survive and the only thing that fully hydrates our hair. But did you know not all water is the same? Considering the different water types, hard water is talked about the most in the curly/natural hair community, as it’s doing our curls a royal disservice. By definition, hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which can have damaging effects on your hair.
Have you moved to a new state or country recently, and you noticed a difference in your hair even though you have been doing the same routine as before? The first thing most people attribute the change to is their environment, and in most cases, the water is the culprit. Myself included.
As someone who moved from Colorado, where you could drink the water out the faucets, to Atlanta, where filtered water is what you should drink and use. Over time I started noticing a tremendous amount of change in my hair! My hair went from being full, moisturized, and able to easily retain length to now being frizzy with increased shedding combined with a dry and itchy scalp.
I freaked out and had no idea the cause because my routine and products were the same, which made me consider if the water was why I was seeing such a change in my hair.
The effects hard water may have on your hair:
When you wash your hair with hard water, the minerals in the water can form a buildup on your scalp and hair. It can also create a barrier that prevents haircare products, such as shampoos and conditioners, from effectively penetrating the hair shaft, leading to reduced efficacy of these products. Hard water can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and frizzy. The high amount of minerals in hard water can disrupt the natural pH balance of your scalp and hair, which can lead to dryness, frizz, and increased porosity of the hair shaft.
If you have color-treated kinky or coarse hair, hard water can cause your color to fade more quickly. The minerals in hard water can strip the color molecules from your hair strands, causing your hair color to become dull and faded and reducing the longevity of your hair color. Hard water can also irritate your scalp. The minerals in hard water can create a film on your scalp that can clog hair follicles and lead to issues such as dryness, itchiness, and dandruff.
The best hard water solutions for natural hair:
First things first, do a hard water test to determine if you actually have hard water. It's recommended that you have one done by a professional, but if you want to do it by yourself, Amazon has options for you to choose from.
1. Install a showerhead water filter.
After the test, the next best option would be to grab a water filter showerhead and replace yours. Some people opt for a water softener system installation, but a showerhead filter can be a much more affordable DIY alternative to removing some of the minerals found in your hard water at a more cost-effective price point. The water filter will help to reduce the amount of minerals getting on your hair when you wash your hair.
2. Use a chelating or clarifying shampoo.
The help of a new showerhead filter combined with washing your hair once a week with a chelating or a clarifying shampoo should allow you to start to notice a real difference. Although clarifying shampoos are stronger than washing your hair with a regular shampoo, a chelating shampoo is considered to be stronger than that in its ability to remove buildup and residue on the scalp and hair that goes beyond the surface.
Some naturals opt for a once-a-month clarifying wash, but it can be done as often as once a week if needed. For chelating shampoos, start off with once-a-week washes, but if you find the frequency is too abrasive, use could be scaled back to once a month. For product recommendations, check out InStyle's "The 5 Best Clarifying Shampoos for Natural Hair."
3. Do an apple cider vinegar rinse.
Apple cider vinegar is known for its multiple uses, acting as a naturally acidic hair rinse is one of them. The reason it works so well is that acidic ingredients are effective in counteracting the pH imbalance created by the hard water. You can go the DIY route by mixing one part ACV with five parts water to create the rinse. After that, apply the solution to your scalp, massaging the mixture there and working it down the hair shaft, paying attention to your scalp and ends. Rinse your hair after five minutes and resume your wash day routine, following the rinse with your preferred conditioner.
Hard water can have detrimental effects on your hair, including mineral buildup, dryness, frizz, color fading, scalp irritation, and reduced efficacy of haircare products. If you have hard water in your area, using a water filter to soften your water and the right products can help mitigate these effects and help get your hair back to a place you're familiar with.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
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