Tuesday, 26 April 2011

How to...take care of your hair in protective styles..

The aim for a lot of  naturals (well for me anyway), is to be able to get that mile high, grand canyon size afro, or for the less gravity defying naturals, a massive curly awesome thing on top of their heads. If that makes sense. Yup, the most important thing is having healthy hair and not putting strange goop that burns your skin on your scalp, but aside from that, a lot of us like the big hair look. Unfortunately, out hair doesn't get like that overnight due to it's slightly fragile nature.

 Ladies and gentlemen, let us, therefore, be upstanding fooooorrrr....(drumroll please)...protective styling! *crowd applauds*.

 I've mentioned this an a previous post, but I thought I'd do another one and concentrate more on different protective styles, and how to take care of your hair whilst wearing them.

The aim of protective styles is to protect the ends of your hair from breakage and splitting by keeping them away from the sun/ wind and otehr natural elements.

Side note: I'm using pictures of my own hair not because I think they're the best examples, but because I don't want any copyright issues from stealing pics from other people's blogs, and it's hard to find celebrities with protective styles sometimes.

1) Twists

These are great, especially because they can be done at lot's of different sizes, and are quicker to put in (in my opinion) than plaits/braids. You can wear twists up, down, casual, fancy, whatever you like. I find twists get messy/ fuzzy more easily than braids though, so washing your hair while in twists might be more difficult if you want to maintain a neater look. Twists that have been in for a week or more can be taken out to make a really great 'twist out' which is a curly, textured fro. My twists that you can see above, are really small, and they can stay in for up to 4 weeks before they start to look shocking.
To take care of twists: Sleep with a satin/ silk scarf at nights. Spray daily with a moisturising spritz, My spriz contains, water, pure vegetable glycerin (you can get this from black hair shops), rose water, and a couple of squirts of condtioner.

2) Braids

Braids are similar to twists, but they usually stay in longer, but take longer to put in. Braids can be done large, small or medium size, depending on the look you're going for, and how long you want them to stay in for.

To take care of braids: Sleep with a satin/ silk scarf at nights. Spray daily with a moisturising spritz, My spritz contains, water, pure vegetable glycerin (you can get this from black hair shops), rose water, and a couple of squirts of condtioner.

Extensions are great occasionally but the two main problems are :
1) They can dry out your real hair.
2) They can damage your fragile edges and lead to traction alopecia.
My extensions in the picture are Marley Braid extension twists. I did them myself (they're really easy to do guys!) to make sure that I was happy that they weren't too tight, and that I didn't have some crazy hair dresser yanking at my hair with a comb. (there ARE some good  natural  hairdressers out there btw... lemme know if you find one)

To take care of extensions: 
  • I always try make sure that I  do the edges loosely and use fairly big sections. I don't advocate micro braids or twists if you're not using your own hair. They can lead to irreversible damage to your edges, asw well as taking forever to put it and take out.
  • I redo the edges once once every two weeks. 
  •  I spray liberally - very liberally, every couple of days with my homemade spritz that I mentioned about above.

4) Buns

Buns are nice and neat, they make a really quick easy protective style.  The only problem with buns is that the edges of your hair can get damaged by the tension from the buns. 

To take care of buns: Take your hair down at least every two daystoavoid pulling on your hairline, moisturise with a leave in conditioner  and seal with an oil like castor oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil.

Part 2 coming soon.....

Monday, 18 April 2011

How to...find out your hair type part 2

Side note: You might be thinking, why is finding out my hair type important?? Mainly because it's really useful when looking for products or finding a routine that works for you. Looking at pictures of women or reading about women with a similar hair type to me has helped me find a good routine and product regimen.

For example, I have coarse, 4a (with some 3c and a little 4b) hair. My hair likes Castor oil, which might be way too heavy an oil for people with fine strands. It also absorbs water like crazy  and loves products like glycerin which absorb water from the air. Curl defining products sometimes work my hair whereas those with 4b hair might find that those products don't work as well, due the tighter curl pattern of 4b hair. I've found, for example, that Kinky Curly Custard was pointless on the 4b section of my head, whereas my 4a and 3c sections got some joy from it. This isn't necessarily true for every 4b , but it gives some pointers.


Density is the amount of hair strands in a given area on your head (lol this sounds so scientific)...one can have fine but dense hair. ie. the individual strands are fine, but there are lot of strands in a given area. This can be deceiving because people with this hair type might be prone to thinking their hair is strong and can handle a lot of heat, manipulation etc, but this really isn't the case.

Hair density affects styling choices. Very dense hair can be hard to get into buns etc, just because there's lots of it!

LOIS pattern

This is another hair typing system that you might find in use on other hair blogs/ natural sites.  The letters basically denote the shape or pattern of the hair strand. Some people like it better because it can often lessen the 'good hair' 'bad hair' stuff that can come along with the 1,2,3,4 typing system. Also, afro hair can be fairly straight but still have an afro/ fluffy texture strangely enough. Like this girl...

This is hair that mostly is not curly or coily but not perfectly straight, having bends or waves. A lot of black people surprisingly will have some of this hair type, I know for example that the front of my hair, although it is 'afro' texture, the strands are actually wavy/ straight, they just stick up more instead of lying down flat.

This is a very common pattern in most black/mixed/afro hair. O hair is the shape of coils, looking like an O basically!

This is straight hair with no bends/ waves.

This is a very common pattern with black hair as well, The hair strand looks like a wavy, bumpy line.

Hope this helps someone on their internet searches!!

Just wanna reiterate..there is no 'worse' or 'better' hair texture. Yup, some textures require different products or are trickier to figure out than other textures, but that's also because a lot of our techniques for dealing with black hair have been lost through years of trying to get it to behave like what it isn't. Be proud of your curls,kinks, coils, straights and waves! It's all beautiful and uniquely designed by YOUR creator!

Peace, Love and Hair Grease folks! xx

How to...find out your hair type

Hair type is one thing that can be tricky to determine, but useful when trying to look for the right products and knowing how to manage your hair in general. I remember when I first started navigating the natural hair world people would chuck around terms like 'coarse 3c hair' or 'mixture of O and S shape' and I'd be like 'huh?? ...what are they on about? What is this funny number system? How do I know if my hair is coarse?'.

There are lots of different ways to define hair type and texture.

1) Thickness
This is the thickness of your strands of hair. It is not the same as density, which is how many strands of hair you'd have on your head. What most people term thickness is actually density Take a look at one strand of your hair.
 Fine hair: This is hair with (obviously) fine strands.It is hard to see the strand even when held up to the light and when you roll it between your fingers will feel light and thin. Fine hair is the most fragile and often the most prone to breakage. It doesn't like heavy products, so if you have this hair type, handle with care.

Medium hair: Kinda hard to describe this, apart from that it's in between coarse and fine hair. It won't feel particularly thick in between your fingers, or thin. Caucasians usually have medium hair. (Please don't run to one of your white friends and ask for a strand of hair to compare with yours....please)

Coarse hair: This is hair with the thickness of perhaps a little less than a  piece of thread. You can definitely feel the individual strand when you roll it through your fingers, and a lot of  Black and Asian folk have this. This hair type should be the strongest, but although the strand is thick, this hair type can be prone to dryness and thus, breakage. It tends to like heavier products e.eg. oils, butters etc.

2) Curl Pattern
This is the biggie. the one everyone has most trouble determining and accepting.

There are main 4 groups. Type 1 and 2 are straight and wavy hair, but we won't focus on them because most black women don't have those curl patterns in abundance. Although some will have some type 2 hair mixed in with other types.

 Type 3

Type 3 hair is curly hair. there are 3 subgroups of this.

3a - 3a hair has the loosest curl pattern, kinda losse spirals. Like Claire from My Wife and Kids.

3b - Most women with 3b hair have ringlets, probably the size of a marker pen, like Rachel True.

3c - 3c curls are corkscrew curls tighter than 3b hair, the circumference being maybe bigger than a normal pen.

Type 4 hair. 
Type 4 hair is the type of hair that is has the tightest curls, and sometimes has no coil/ ringlet pattern but more z shaped kinks. It is the hair type that most people think is hardest to manage and not as beautiful as the others. There two sub-types.

4a hair - 4a hair has tight coils smaller than that of  biro or around the same size. When you pull a strand of 4 a hair, there is a definite S shaped pattern.

4b hair - This is the kinkiest, tightest curl type. When pulled taught z pattern might form in stead of an S shaped pattern, and there might be no obvious 'curls' or 'coils'. It tends to be the most fragile, so treat gently.

Most people are a mixture of curl patterns. For example, I have coarse hair that is  predominately 4a with a few 3c areas, and a little patch of 4b as well. As you can see from the pics, all hair types are beautiful :-).

It's a lot of info..so part two coming tomorrow....

Peace, Love and Hair grease folks ! xx

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Product Review : R and B from Lush

So this is a quick one folks. I'm well aware that at the moment my blog seems to have no rhyme or reason to it, so I'm thinking of doing a series of how to videos/posts e.g. hair washing, styles, combing etc What do you think?What do you want to know that I could give advice/thoughts on? Comment/ facebook me and lemme know..
For now, product of the week: ( Drumrolll pleeeaassee..)

Rand B from Lush!!!!

This is a lovely smelling yellow cream designed initially, I believe, for curly/afro hair, but apparently good for all hair types (I personally think it would be too greasy if your hair isn't curly..but whatever). The scent is primarily jasmine and orange blossom, which is a downside if you don't like the smell, because it does have a tendency to linger. Glycerin is high up on the ingredient list, so if you live somewhere with low humidity, this might not be for you (I'll do a post on glycerin and humidity soon). The ingredients are 90% natural with lovely things like: Jojoba oil, Coconut oil, Cupuacu butter and Avocado Butter.


  • Very Moisturising
  • A little goes a long way 
  • Lovely (in my opinion) smell
  • Full of organic natural ingredients, no silicones, mineral oil, petroleum or parabens.
  • Fair  Trade :-)
  • Made by a company with a great ethical policy
  • Vegan (if you're a total vegan that won't use animal products in cosmetics)
  • Quite strong smell (so if you hate it, you'll really hate it)
  • PRICEY PRICEY! £9...my pot was a present from the mother. *faints*. For the size, they're pushing it a wee bit, just a wee bit. It is all organic-y and eco-ey and that fair trade trendy stuff everyone's into though.
  • Can be a bit greasy if you're too heavy handed.(I don't like to feel grease on my hands when I touch my hair)
  • Why did they have to call the product for afro hair R and B? Subtle guys, real subtle....
Overall it gets a nice 4/5 from me! *pats Lush on the back* Good show chaps...

Peace, Love and hair grease my lovelies! xx

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Natural Inspiration

I love looking at pictures of other women with Natural hair when I'm feeling uninspired or having an 'ugly hair day. One of my favourite sites is:
http://lecoil.tumblr.com/,  which has beautiful pictures of locks, fro's, teeny-weeny afro's and even baldies.Here are some of my favourite natural hair inspirational pics. Often natural beauty can be seen as very one dimensional with only really 'curly' textures getting a look in. I like seeing pictures of naturals of aaaallllll textures, especially textures that are similar to my own....

 Disclaimer: Please note that the women I've pictured are hair inspirations only. I've tried to pick  people that from what I know are positive in general, but I dont keep up to date on celebs and don't wanna endorse anyone who talks/sings/ or participates in what I constitute to be foolishness...

Esperanza Spalding
I love how her hair is so carefree and just pulled back off her face. It's that casual lok where the main focus isn't her hair. When I want a nice puff like this, I usually use a shoelace (yup, you read right), or a cut off end of an old pair of stockings/ tights. Keeps the puff nice and big without poofy edges.

Tomiko Fraser 
(Her skin looks sooo perfect)...her hair is at that 'in between' that most girls hate, but I think it looks gorgeous..this is probably a twist-put (twists left in overnight and then taken out for a defined look. Use aloe vera gel/ a heavy butter when twisting to give more definition)

   Corinne Bailey Rae

This look can be acheived by a twisting/ braiding your hair tightly, leaving it in overnight, and then taking it out...if your hair is a tighter texture, you can blowdry your hair and set it on perm rods, but I don't advise using heat...although your hair won't have the same curl pattern as Corinne's if you have a tighter texture, it will still be beautiful and uniquely yours :-)

                                                                    Lauryn Hill

I love her chunky locks. Locks aren't for me, but I think she wears them really well.

                                                                  Marsha Hunt

Biggest, baddest fro evaaah. Full stop.

I love the look of this whole photo. Nature, natural is beauty.
                                                                 Unknown Beauty

                                                       T'Keyah Crsytal Kemar
 This is another braidout I think, and her hair texture is slightly tighter than Corinne's. Lovely, and full and soft looking.

                                                                    Valerie June

Another one for my locked ladies. Again, not a look I would choose, but she looks beautiful.

                                                                     Leela James
This looks like a blow-out. Again, I don't advise using heat really, but I can't deny the fro looks cool...

                                                                         Neomie Lenoir

If you do go for the big chop, you can look beautiful with short to no hair. (Even if you're not a supermodel like Neomie)

Make some inspiration of your own!! Take a picture of yourself on a day when your hair is looking fresh and remember that God made you naturally beautiful,and he loves you just how you are :-) (and even on your bad hair days ;-))
Peace, love and Hair grease folks xx

Sunday, 3 April 2011

How to get long hair..

So currently I'm wearing a  Brazilian 33F blonde light wave/pomegranate scented weave as a protective style. Ok, bad joke. But my hair IS in extensions, long kinky twists that strangely enough people seem to think might possibly be my real hair?? My white friends, I'm not so surprised that they can't tell the difference (Is it just me who get's slightly more hair love from my white co-d's?), but really, black folk?? You should know your Remy 1B Marley braid from the ordinary 'fro.
Anyway, this post isn't about how to detect temporary fakery. Have you ever been bored of your hair?? I've had extensions proably about 4 times in my whole life, and they usually stay in for 4 weeks maximum. I get bored. The front starts getting frizzy. I miss playing in my curls and nappy coils and whatnot. I hate the fact that I have to do the trade between clean hair or neat looking twists.
How to get long hair = Some degree of hair boredom (in my humble opinion).
Black hair is beautiful, but one of it's disadvantages which other hair types don't deal with as much, is that ii can't be worn out all the time (from what I've found) without some degree of breakage.
People usually ask me, 'how did you get your hair to grow so long?' and they're waiting for a magic product or method, but there really isn't one unfortunately.

Steps to long hair:

1) Don't be obsessed with getting long hair. Seriously. Stop. Think. Is your life really that bad with shorter hair? Healthy hair is more important than long hair.

2) Start from the inside out. I've been Vegan/ Vegetarian my whole life. I think it's great..your skin and hair will thankyou for it. Get lots of protein, (nuts, beans, good wholesome protein :-)), drink loads of water, exercise (slaps own wrist) fruit, veggies, wholegrains (brown rice, wholeweat bread etc).

3) Step away from the comb. Step away. Read my post on combing/brushing (Anti- Comb Coalition). Combing or brushing  too often and too harshly damages hair, causes split ends and generally snaps off those ends you're trying so hard to hang on to.

4) Start using more natural products in your hair. They DO NOT have to be expensive, although I do have some pricey stuff in my product arsenal.. Castor Oil, Olive oil, Coconut Oil, and plain old water are your friends.if you want to go for more pricey stuff, there are loads of good natural hair companies. Some ones that I've tried and like are : Beemine, Afrocenchix, Anita Grant, Oyin handmade and Hairveda.

5) Moisture, moisture, moisture. In other words, water. Black women have been scared of water for faaaar too long. I spray my hair with water, then put on a leave in or moisturiser, then seal with castor oil.Water is your friend. If possible, try and use distilled or filtered water in your spray bottle, as hard water can be harsh on the hair.

6) Trim your ends. It might sound like an oxymoron, but split ends travel up the hair shaft leading to more breakage. Just get rid of them. It will grow back, promise :-). I trim my hair myself ( I have an abject fear of black hairdressers) and I make sure I use sharp hairdressing scissors. Blunt scissors will give you more split ends.

7) Protect your hair at night. I sleep on a silk/ satin pillowcase because I hate tying my head up, but if you don't mind doing thathen go for it. Satin scarf £1.99 from any black hair shop.

8) Wash your hair. Healthy hair= Clean hair. If you use harsh shampoos then washing your hair often isn't a good idea, but if you're using natural shampoos then washing your hair at least oce a week is cool. Or you can Co-wash in between washes, which I'll do a post on soon.

9) Protective styling.Leaving your hair out in an afro all the time will mean that although your hair grows, the ends will be more prone to damage so you won't see the growth as much as you would like.
Protective styles are: Twists, Canerows, Plaits/ braids, Buns, extensions and potentially weaves. The problem with extensions and weaves is that they can damage the edges of your hair leading to traction alopecia. I'm sure we all know someone with damaged edges, it ain't cool.

10) No heat! (or limited heat). Blowdryers, Straighteners etc are not your friend! Use at your own risk.After washing your hair, section it and braid or twist it, and allow it to airdry. If you must, must, blowdry, use a low heat, and allow your hair to air dry for some time before you actually blowdry.

11) Treat your hair gently. We have a habit of thinking our hair is really strong, but despite the fact that afro hair looks resilient, it's so, so, fragile, so handle with care.

That's all I can think of for now..if anyone has any tips of their own, questions, or ideas for future blog posts..then comment!. Peace, Love and Hair Grease folks xxx