Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Crochet Braids

In my effort to keep my hair healthy and retain some length, I've been trying to do protective styles as much as the possible.  For the past month and half, I've been doing flat twist updos.  Yesterday I installed crochet braids.  I've been eyeing this style for a while, and I finally got to a point where I thought I had done enough research to do it myself.

What I did:
I used 2 packs of Free Tress Water Wave hair bought from my local beauty supply store.  I wanted to buy the bohemian hair, since I thought the texture would be closer to mine, but I couldn't find the Bohemian in the three stores I went to.  One package was the color 4, and the other was 4/27 because I wanted to mix in some lighter hair.  I paid $5 per pack for the hair and $2 for the crochet hook, also at the beauty supply store.

After washing, conditioning and lightly blow drying my hair, I cornrowed my hair.  I did 8 braids going back in the top half of my hair, then I connected 2 of those braids to create 4 braids, and used them to start 4 cornrows in the back.  I used the braids at my nape to make one cornrow going across at the bottom.  I did this so that I could wear my hair up without showing the parts in the cornrows.  I then looped the hair into my braids using the crochet hook.

Overall, I like this style!  It was my first time doing it, so there are a few minor things I would do differently next time, like planning my braid pattern a little better. A lot of the videos I watched suggested more than 8 braids, but I'm glad I didn't do more.  I think it would have made my style look fuller than what I wanted.  Having less braids makes it more difficult to wear in an updo, but that's okay with me.  I trimmed a little of the hair, but I want more of a shape, so I may go to a salon to get it trimmed a little more.  What I like most about this style is that it's easy, and it doesn't have to be perfect.  It's okay if your parts aren't straight.  I do wish I had braided the center braids closer together so that my part would look more natural, but other than that, I'm excited to have a no/lo maintenance style for a while!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Protective Styling Continued

Happy April! I know it's officially been spring for a couple of weeks, but now that it's April, I'm working on leaving winter behind. I try not to complain about the cold and snow, but it's been a long, tough winter for so many of us.  I can't even look at my heavy down coat anymore, lol.

I've been wearing my flat twist updo for the past month, washing and re-twisting about every week and a half.  I've gotten a lot of compliments, and it's been great not having to worry about twisting my hair at night or taking the twists down in the morning.  It was especially nice when I went away for a girls weekend a couple of weeks ago.  This week, I decided to change it up a bit and leave some hair out, so I flat twisted the back and one side, and left the top and other side out.  I attempted a twist and curl using flexi rods, but when I took out the twists the next day, I didn't love the results.  Maybe I made the twists too small, or should have stretched my hair out some before twisting.  I don't know....so last night, I did bigger twists and did a little bantu knot on the ends so that my ends would have a good curl:

I liked the results much better today.  You might be able to see that the side is still a little crunchy, but I know it will work itself out after I twist again tonight or tomorrow.  I really want my bangs to grow longer, but I'm glad that at least they're hanging down and not up!  I might even flat twist the front up for a few days if I get tired of wearing it out.  I'm finally seeing a some progress and appreciating the versatility of my natural hair.  Even my man said that he's happy I'm experimenting with different styles!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Flat Twist Updo Take 1

I've been wanting to do a protective style for a while...one that I could do myself!  Last spring and summer I got twists and micro braids put in by a local braider.  I wanted a style that would give me a break from twisting my hair every night and protect my hair. I used these two videos as inspiration:

Beautiful, right?  I finally found the courage this weekend to give it a try!

After washing and conditioning my hair, I let it air dry about 80% in sections and then blow dried each section using the tension method.  I knew I didn't need my hair straight, just stretched out some, so I didn't use a comb or brush when blow drying to prevent breakage.  I then sectioned my hair into four sections- two sides, front and back.  I made sharp parts for each twist, and applied Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Mask to each section before twisting.  When I was done twisting, I pinned the twists on top of my head.

The whole process took me a little over an hour.  I was worried about the back, because I've never cornrowed or flat twisted up the back, but it wasn't as bad as I thought I would. I definitely need practice, though!

I'm hoping to keep this style for the remainder of the week, re-twisting a couple of twists if I need to.  Once I get some more growth in the front (c'mon bangs!), I know this style will really look nice.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

UPDATED Product Review: Product Review: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

I reviewed this product a little over a year ago, and I didn't think it was the product for me.  Well, that was then and this is now.  I feel like I have a different head of hair than I did in December, 2012.  My hair is longer, thicker, not damaged, and most importantly, moisturized.  I also know that layering with the right products helps, and I think I found my combination with the Curl Enhancing Smoothie.

I've been using it for a while, but I just realized today how well it works for me.  Over the past two weeks, I've been trying other products to twist my hair, and I went back to this last night and woke up with juicy, shiny hair with defined curls.  Based on recommendations from friends, I've been trying other curling creams and butters and they haven't done what this product does for me.  Here's my process at night when I re-twist:

  1. Spray a little water or my water/leave-in/oil mix on each section
  2. Apply a little castor oil to the section
  3. Apply Curl Enhancing Smoothie to the full length of hair in the section, concentrating on the ends
  4. Apply a little bit of Ecostyler Gel to the ends
  5. Twist and bantu knot

Many people know this as the LOC method - liquid, oil and cream.  For a long time, I was applying the oil after the cream, but this way yields much better results.  This combination of products not only moisturizes my hair, but it also stretches it more and makes it a lot easier to style in the morning.  With some products, my hair doesn't stretch more each day, which makes it hard for me to pick the parts out, resulting in breakage.  I never hear or feel hair snapping when I use this!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Saving My Strands

Since I started doing bantu knot outs on a regular basis, I've noticed that I lose a lot of hair.  I've always been a heavy shedder, but I felt like it was too much, and some was breakage.  Here are the steps I've taken over the past few weeks:

  • Incorporating more protein - I like Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor and Infusium Leave-In
  • Oil rinsing - I actually get better results when I apply oil, rinse, and then apply conditioner, rather than applying oil over conditioner
  • Not blowdrying my hair before I twist
  • Not using too much gel - I use Curling Souflee a couple of times a week now
I was at a party last weekend and I was talking to some curlies who told me not to worry about the hair I lose when twisting.  That made me feel a little better, but I still don't want to see as much hair on my shirt/the floor!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Protecting Natural Hair During the Winter Months

So this polar vortex thing is happening everywhere, huh?  Since I'm from the northeast, I've been "winterizing" my hair for years, but now even the curlies in the south need to think about cold, dry air and snow affect their hair.  Here are some of my tips to ensure our healthy locs make it to spring:

Deep Condition
This is probably the most important thing you can do.  I know it's easy to slack off on deep conditioning, especially when your hair gets to a healthy state, but keep doing it!  I skipped two weeks this winter, and I saw a clear difference in my hair's moisture level, elasticity, and manageability.  Since my hair is low porosity, I always deep condition weekly under my hooded dryer or heat cap, which helps the product absorb into the hair better.  I also need a good deep conditioner.  I know when I've found a good one when my hair feels soft and moist when I rinse it out.  I've also incorporated oil rinsing into my regimen, which has helped a lot.

Cover hair when going outside
I know this isn't always possible, but I've made it a practice not to go out in the winter without a hat on my head.  When I don't, my hair becomes dry, hard and frizzy.

Don't forget the satin!
I wear a hat every day, but I make sure it either has a satin lining or I have a satin scarf or cap on under it. These wool and cotton hats will rob your hair of all it's moisture!  It's also important to cover your head with satin when sleeping.  If the air outside is dry, imagine how dry the air is inside!  Satin pillowcases are great, but I retain more moisture when I cover my head with a silk or satin scarf.

Humidifiers are your friend
To the point about it being dry indoors, get a humidifier if you can to moisten the air a little, especially while you sleep.  If I'm in the kitchen for a long period of time, I'll keep a pot of water boiling to add some moisture to the air.

Reconsider Your Products
In general, I prefer lighter moisturizers and oils.  I realized last month that heavier products like shea butter castor oil, and thicker leave-ins aren't too heavy for my hair during the winter.

Stay warm, dry, safe and healthy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year, Better Hair

Happy 2014!

I had a great Christmas and New Year, and a long, much needed break.  Since I didn't have to go to work for a couple of weeks, I got a little lazy about twisting my hair every night.  This was a good thing, because I got to be creative with styling and trying new products.  I do still need to re-twist every night though, because my hair frizzes a lot, even if I put my hair into a bunch of ponytails at night like I used to.  I'm going to stick with my twist/bantu knot out for a little while longer until my hair grows some more.  My twistouts have been less than stellar, mostly because I can't keep the ends curly, and I want my hair to fall down a little more instead of sticking out!

I also stopped blow drying my hair before twisting.  It's not as necessary as I thought it was to achieve a good bantu knot out, and I was losing so much hair in the process (breakage and shedding).  Also, my hair is so much more moist and "springy" when I don't blow dry.

I'm still using most of the same products, but I've incorporated protein and castor oil into my regimen again. I've been using Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor every week or two, and it really has helped cut down on the shedding (I am a heavy shedder!).  The castor oil helps control frizz, keeps my hair moisturized longer, and creates more defined twistouts.  It's definitely a winter staple.  I always think that the heavier products weigh my hair down, but they've been pretty good lately- probably because it's winter, and the air is so cold and dry.

The most exciting thing was that I was able to pull my hair into my first puff!  I'm not able to pull it all into a ponytail, but I can use a headband or a scarf to pull up the sides, front and back.

Since I've been on such a good roll lately with my hair and it's moisture level, I had been afraid to try anything different.  But, I'm glad I did, because now I know not to be afraid of heavier conditioners and moisturizers and oils like castor oil and coconut.