Camping was a foundational part of my childhood. Every summer, my extended family would plan two to three trips to the beautiful provincial parks of Alberta. We would either stay in our tent trailer, an Alpine Club of Canada hut, or tents depending on how remote our campsite was. Access to water was quite limited and we had to pack light, which meant no room for extraneous items like hair care supplies.
Whether your regimen is minimalist or high maintenance, every naturalista needs her holy grail kit to keep her curls popping. But when you've got to choose between packing camping essentials and your fave styling gel, it's a no-brainer: the hair stuff stays home. This generally wasn't a big deal for our shorter trips. My hair would usually be tucked away in box braids or cornrows ― styles that could survive a weekend without fuss. Longer trips took a bit more planning, though. If we were going away for a week or two, I'd try to get my hair done as close to our departure date as possible to maximize the longevity of the protective style. This way, I wouldn't need to touch it up during the trip and could get away with shampooing just once if necessary.
If you're going camping or travelling for an extended period of time, I recommend sticking to the easiest styles and simplest products you can find. The last thing you want to do is spend hours detangling your hair in the woods when you could be enjoying the gorgeous scenery. Here are some suggestions:
Buns are fantastic for short trips because you don't have to spend any time installing them, and they do a decent job keeping your coils out of the way. Big cornrows, flat twists, and Bantu knots are better options if you don't want to restyle your hair every morning, but because they won't last longer than a few days before getting fuzzy, you should consider medium to small ones for week-long trips. Most naturalistas are able to keep braids, twists, and weaves in for anywhere between two and eight weeks, making them ideal for trips longer than seven nights.
Of course, some lucky people get to travel for months and months at a time. Should you be on the road for over eight weeks, I would suggest braids or twists ― but only with your own hair. Taking down extension hair in the wilderness is very difficult and time-consuming. You can literally shave hours off this process by braiding or twisting your own hair, taking it down after a few weeks, giving it a good wash, and reinstalling the style while sitting by the campfire.
If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned twist outs, braid outs, or wash-and-go's, it's because those styles are wayyyy to high maintenance for camping. Moreover, you'll be in big trouble if it rains or you decide to take a dip in the lake! That said, I'm sure many people have no issues travelling with their afros out and you're certainly welcome to try it if you want, but I prefer to keep the number of things I need to worry about to a minimum.
No matter what you decide, make sure you're doing what you can to keep your hair healthy while you travel. Remember to moisturize regularly and protect it from the elements. And try not to worry about it so much! It'll keep growing no matter what, so just relax and have a fantastic vacation.
How do you keep your hair healthy while travelling? Share with us in a comment below!
Everybody's into podcasts these days. Whether it's to learn how to start a business or cope with mental health issues, there's a show on any topic for any audience. If you like listening to podcasts and can't get enough of natural hair, check out this list of shows. They're all informative, entertaining, and hosted by super charismatic and smart women. Enjoy!
"Snatched Edges is a podcast all about hair health. Expect to hear tips on how to solve common hair and scalp issues, how to tackle hair loss and the best ways to style your hair. Whether you are loc'd or loose, natural or relaxed you are sure to hear something to keep your hair flourishing."
The Natural Hair Weekly
"Join our Global Editor and Curator Jahdusha V Shines, for a 'natural conversation' (and some laughs) exploring elements of the natural hair lifestyle with special guests from around the world in entertainment, health, wellness, business and life."
Grow it Long & Strong: Natural Hair Radio
"Learn to grow your afro, kinky or curly textured natural hair hair with ancient techniques, modern science and inner wisdom like never before. Discover why the products you have been using have or have not been working, what are the best styles to retain hair length and how to promote better hair health from the inside out for long lasting results."
The Nappturalite Radio Show
"Calling all Nappturalites! Whether your hair is naturally kinky, curly or wavy, this show has you in mind. The Napptualite Radio Show is dedicated to the love of all things related to black natural hair care. We will discuss natural hair topics, interview natural hair specialists, give you the scoop on the best hair care products and share resources that benefit Nappturalites everywhere. Airs M-W at 3pm EST and on Thursdays at 7pm EST!"
Long, Healthy Hair - Natural Kinky and Curly Hair
"This channel is designed for people that have recently gone natural and need a few quick tips on a) how to maintain the health of their hair and b) how to make sure it grows to its maximum potential."
Natural Hair 360
"A weekly podcast about everything that has to do with Natural Hair, its care, maintenance, trends, etc. Review, rate, and subscribe."
Natural Haircare News
"Just two sisters doing our thing! Join us as we have "real" conversations about everything from the perceptions and attitudes that black women and the community have about natural hair - both positive and negative, to natural haircare tips and strategies from A thru Z. Show us some love and leave a review on iTunes if you like our podcast, then check out our blog - NaturalHairCareNews.com"
What's your favorite natural hair show or podcast? Share it with us in a comment below!
I don't know about you, but in the last couple of weeks my newsfeeds have been full of Lemoade braid awesomeness again. If you're wondering how to rock the look, check out any one of these fantastic tutorials.
IAMBSoUnique1 (child-friendly braids)
Nothing is more aggravating than an itchy scalp. Whether it's caused by dehydration, allergies, or tight braiding it can be super embarrassing, and lasting solutions are often hard to come by. It's is an issue I've struggled with for years so I decided to put together this list of tips in case you're also looking to soothe an angry scalp.
It might be a few weeks before you start noticing results, but stay persistent and hopefully you'll get some relief. If nothing helps, though, definitely consider seeing a dermatologist.
Do you have a trick for soothing your scalp? Share in a comment below!
The other day a friend of mine opened up to me about one of her fears. She explained that although her hair is healthy now, she heard it will likely get thinner when she's older. It turns out a lot of people have this concern. Female pattern hair loss isn't uncommon and can occur for many reasons, including natural causes like pregnancy and aging as I covered in a previous post. To some people this may seem like a frivolous thing to worry about, but the state of your hair can actually indicate a lot about your overall health. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to grow stronger hair while taking care of your general wellbeing.
1. Seal with Castor Oil - Many naturalistas swear by the effects of castor oil because of its ability to lock in moisture. Moisture is necessary for both softening hair and strengthening it against breakage. Because it's a thicker oil, it's easier to apply when slightly warmed up. Just make sure you use it only when your hair and scalp are damp in order to maximize its benefits. Castor oil is also known to treat skin problems like acne and dryness. Some people also use it for constipation and menstrual cramps. (HomeRemediesWeb.com)
2. Use Gentle Tools - One of the easiest ways to promote thicker hair is to prevent breakage while detangling and styling. Using your fingers and gentle tools like wide tooth combs and ouchless hair elastics will minimize the amount of tugging and snagging that each strand endures. The less stress your hair is under, the more it will flourish.
3. Practice Protective Styling - Another method of avoiding breakage is to keep your hair tucked away in long-term styles, such as braids, cornrows, and twists. These hairstyles greatly reduce the amount of manipulation your hair undergoes by allowing you to rock the same look for several days or even weeks at a time. Not having to fix your hair each day gives your scalp and strands a much-needed rest, thereby encouraging growth.
4. Get Your Fluids - We're all aware of how crucial it is for mental and physical health to stay hydrated, but did you know drinking water is an easy way to maintain healthy skin and hair? That's because the cells in the hair follicles at your roots require water to function properly. Water also staves off dandruff, itchiness, and other scalp-related issues by keeping the skin moisturized. While you may think it's enough to regularly spritz your hair with a water-based solution, it doesn't hurt to moisturize from the inside out, too, by drinking fluids and eating juicy fruits and vegetables.
5. Eat a Balanced, Protein-Rich Diet - Hair is made of keratin, which is a form of protein. Your body needs to take in protein regularly to grow new hair, and contrary to popular belief, meat isn't your only option. Broccoli, asparagus, kale, almonds and soybeans are all high in protein. (MindBodyGreen.com) You can also opt for fortified foods like soy milk and yogurt that have added protein, or try protein bars or supplements.
How do you keep your hair healthy? Share with us in a comment below!
If you think Nicki Minaj is to thank (or blame) for the growing popularity of wigs, you'll be interested to learn that humans have been actually been wearing wigs for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were known to shave their heads and instead wear wigs to protect their scalps from the blazing sun (Encyclopedia). In the 1600s, men of status donned enormous powdered wigs to signify their wealth and virility (Cracked).
While the wig once symbolized power and prestige, today it's mostly considered a costume item. People don't really take wigs seriously anymore, and the practice of doing so has even become contentious in the natural hair community. Some people argue that wigs shouldn't be considered natural because they mask the wearer's true curls much like a relaxer does. Conversely, others state that if the wearer's hair is unprocessed and free of chemicals underneath, then s/he is natural regardless. No matter which side of the debate you fall on there are indisputable benefits to wearing a wig.
In order to enjoy these benefits, though, you've got to make sure your wig is installed and maintained correctly. Here are some tips:
What's your stance on wigs? Are they a staple in your wardrobe or just a Halloween accessory?
Share your thoughts in a comment below!
Yarn braids are a funky and versatile way to protect your hair from the elements. Because yarn comes in a million different shades and hues, it's super easy to switch up your style -- even if you don't actually change your hairdo! If you're in search of inspiration, look no further than these seven ladies who have clearly mastered the art of rocking yarn braids.
GET THE LOOK
Click the images below to see more colors.
Do you love colorful and chunky yarn braids, or do you prefer a more conservative look? Share in a comment below!
Wigs and hair extensions have always been a fashion item near and dear to Black women's hearts. Whether we wear them as a statement or a safety blanket, they always come through for us. One thing I've found frustrating about wigs, though, is the lack of variety when it comes to texture. Sure there are straight, wavy, and curly wigs in all lengths and colours, but what about the kinkier textures? I remember the struggle my Mom went through a few years ago to find a wig that matched her 4C curl pattern. Everywhere she went, the only afro-textured wigs she could find were for costume. Despite scouring local stores and even going online (an impressive feat for her, back then!), she was only able to find one wig that would suffice -- and it was more of a 4A curl type. Even after she trimmed and coloured it the wig simply didn't suit her. Luckily, times have changed. Manufacturers are now creating wigs and extension hair with tight coils, zig-zag kinks, and even braids! If you're looking for a realistic wig or set of extensions that will match your curl pattern, check out these options below.
AFFORDABLE WIGS (under $50)
Long Afro-Curly Synthetic Hair Wig by Mi Hair
Equal Wig by FreeTress
Lace Wig Drew by BeShe
MID-RANGE WIGS ($50-100)
Unprocessed Virgin Mongolian Hair Extensions by CARA
Afro Indian Human Hair Wig by K'ryssma
Long Black High Density Synthetic Lace Front Wig by Generic
Machine-Made Natural Real Remy Indian Human Hair by K'ryssma
INVESTMENT WIGS (over $100)
Lace Front Wig with Bleached Knots and Baby Hair by Royal-First
Natural 100% Indian Remy Afro Wig by K'ryssma
Silk Top Full Lace Wig by Chantiche
Natural 100% Brazilian Hair by K'ryssma
Of course there are other brands and styles out there, but this list is a great place to start if you're looking for a wig that will match your type 4 curls, coils, and kinks. Hope you find this helpful. Happy wig shopping!
Does it matter to you whether or not your wig matches your natural hair? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
With all the misinformation out there about afro hair being naturally dry and frizzy (shoutout to Ouidad), it's easy to start thinking there's something wrong with kinky/coily hair -- even when it's perfectly healthy. This misinformation can prompt us naturals to buy products that aren't suited for our hair. Even companies that cater to afro-textured hair get it wrong sometimes so it's important to be diligent when shopping for your hair, otherwise you might become what I call a hair hypochondriac.
As naturals, we're always being told how fragile and brittle our hair is. "Breakage" has become this big bad B word that has sent us running to stores in frantic search of products that will protect us from the horrors of thinning edges, single-strand knots, and split ends. We're bombarded with advertising that suggests our hair could be thicker, longer, shinier, and most fallaciously of all, straighter. The funny thing is even if you have superbly healthy hair, you've probably felt compelled by these claims too. I for one can admit to second-guessing the health of my edges whenever I see certain advertisements. (Are these normal baby hairs, or am I balding...?!) Obviously, this doubt inspires me to purchase some cream or gel that promises to restore my edges to their former glory. It's not until I've tested the product and had zero results that I realize I had been paying more attention to the advertising than to my own hair! I'd fallen victim to clever marketing that made me believe my hair might be damaged (is my hair dull, or is it just bad lighting in here?) and I lost sight of what my hair truly needed. I'm a much savvier shopper now that I have a few tricks to avoid becoming a hair hypochondriac.
I hope you find these tips helpful and remember them next time you're shopping for hair products. Unless you're a huge fan of the flat iron and you dye your hair a new colour every two days, chances are your hair is doing just fine! Be sure to listen to what it wants and forget all the corporate noise telling you otherwise.
Have you suffered from hair hypochondria? Share your experience in a comment below!
What's your secret to improving your hairstyling skills? Share in a comment below!
Have you ever wondered how your hairstylist got so good at what she does? Regardless of whether she went to cosmetology school or learned to do hair by observing friends and relatives, at the end of the day she definitely put in endless hours of practice to perfect her skills. Many hairstylists practice for years before taking on their first client because it takes a long time to develop speed and muscle memory while maintaining a high standard of quality. When you think about the amount of effort required to master a relatively complex style like tree braids or crochet braids it's easy to get discouraged and resort to helplessly depending on your stylist.
Admittedly, I've been relying on stylists for most of my life. It's just always seemed more convenient to let someone else deal with my hair while I watched TV or got some studying done. However, it wasn't until last week that I discovered a foolproof way of practicing tricky hairstyles without sacrificing a tonne of time or money. Using this new method I've been able to improve my braiding skills while keeping my hair looking great. I stumbled upon this trick when one of my box braids fell out the other day. Normally I detangle the newly-exposed section of hair, coat it with a moisturizing cream, and then twist it. This time, though, I found myself with some spare time and an extra pack of synthetic braiding hair - and I was feeling adventurous.
Instead of leaving my hair out, I took a shot at redoing the extension braid myself. I only had one tiny section to braid, so I wasn't stressed out by the idea of having to finish it quickly and move on to the next one. I could just concentrate on getting the technique down, and if I messed up it was easy to undo the braid and start over. Having the professionally-done braids right there for comparison was also a huge help. I knew immediately when my braid was too loose or too fat because I could hold it up against the other braids. This meant the final product was always nearly perfect; a vast improvement from when I tried to braid my whole head from scratch!
Another benefit of this method is that it keeps your style looking fresh longer. As more braids become loose over time, I've been able to replace them with new, clean braids that suddenly make the style look like it was recently installed. This allows me to continually improve my braiding skills while boosting the lifespan of my protective style. And the longer my hairstyle lasts, the more money I save! Seriously, the benefits just keep piling up.
To summarize, if you want to become a protective styling guru the secret is to maintain your hairstyle incrementally. Replace individual braids or twists as they loosen and not only will you find yourself saving a bunch of time and money, but you'll also always look like you've just come from the salon!
I really do love me a good hot oil treatment. By coating my strands in rich, nutrient-packed liquid gold and letting the warm oils soak in, I'm ensuring my hair stays as strong and healthy as possible. I like to heat up a blend of coconut oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and sit with the mixture in my hair for thirty minutes to an hour. I rinse it out afterwards and either shampoo or co-wash.
That was my weekly routine until about two months ago when I got box braids. Knowing how messy hot oil treatments can be even on short hair, I asked one of my hairdressers what she thought about continuing the treatments with the extensions in. She stated, "I wouldn't recommend it." I figured this made sense because the oils would probably be wasted slipping down the length of the extensions rather than focusing on my hair. So when it came time for me to do my regular hot oil treatment, I skipped it and instead went straight to co-washing.
I did this for about two weeks, but then I noticed my scalp was starting to dry out. It was flaking without the boost of nutrients and moisture from the oils. Even regular spritzing couldn't alleviate the problem. Despite getting professional advice against doing a hot oil treatment I couldn't ignore what my body was telling me, so I gave it a shot. I did tweak some things, though. First, I used much less castor oil than usual. This is because castor oil is incredibly thick and I was worried it might be hard to wash out of the braids. To make up the difference, I added a little more grapeseed oil and EVOO; they're not as viscous. When applying the oils, I focused more on my scalp and first inch of hair. This allowed any excess oil to travel down to the ends of my natural hair without bogging down my braids.
Unsurprisingly, I noticed relief within a few days. My scalp retained more moisture after co-washing and soon the flakes were gone. I'm glad I figured out a way to continue my hot oil treatments while protective styling, otherwise I'd probably have to take down my box braids after only a couple of weeks!
How do you switch up your regimen when protective styling? Share in a comment below!
I just came across yet another ill-researched article giving undue praise to an American designer for “inspiring” a “new” look that, in reality, Black women have been rocking for centuries. In a recent post entitled “How-To: Twisted Mini Buns Inspired by Marc Jacobs SS15 Show”, the hairstyling website ManeAddicts.com has deliberately turned a blind eye to history by 1) ignoring the preexistence of Bantu knots, and 2) showcasing them on models who aren’t even Black.
To give you some background, Bantu knots have been popular among people of colour for centuries because they keep our curls neat, tidy, and free of tangles. They're one of the simplest hairstyles to achieve, and so many people put them in right before bed. Our kinky hair is also well-suited to the style because our hair stays in place when wrapped upon itself, eliminating the need for elastics and hair pins!
Even if Mane Addicts didn't want to give credit to the ancient Africans who invented this hairstyle, there's still plenty of proof that Bantu knots have been around for a while. Jada Pinkett Smith was such a badass when she wore them in The Matrix trilogy back in the late '90s / early 2000s. It's been a signature look for Uzo Aduba's character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on the hit tv show Orange is the New Black for the past two seasons. And somehow Mane Addicts even failed to notice that Rhianna beat Marc Jacobs to the punch when she sported Bantu knots at last year's iHeartRadio Music Awards.
As I mentioned in a previous post this kind of thing happens everyday, and its effects are more damaging than you might first realize. When an article like that comes out applauding a white celebrity for doing something people of color have been ignored or even ridiculed for in the past, it perpetuates the idea that Black people have contributed nothing of value to society, history, or fashion. It erases our complex identity and our culture, and instead appropriates what we have built for white enjoyment and white accolades. Why didn't Jada, Uzo, or Rihanna get a shout-out? Why did Mane Addicts have to label the style "mini buns" instead of just calling them by their proper name, Bantu knots? It doesn't matter to me if white people want to wear their hair like we do; I just think credit should be given where it's due. At the end of the day, the ignorance of existing Black culture is both harmful and insulting.
Fortunately, the comment section of the article is choking with posts that share my sentiment. Screenshots of it have also spread to Twitter and Instagram, so fingers crossed Mane Addict will soon update their misleading post with the truth.
UPDATE: As of May 28, the article has been torn down from their website.
It can be really tough to find a natural hair stylist. Depending on where you live, there simply aren't enough professionals who understand natural hair to go around. On top of that, getting your hair done by an expert can be hella pricey and time-consuming. If you're thinking of taking matters into your own hands, here are some pointers:
1. THE STYLE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR PARTS - It might be time for you to purchase a rat-tail comb if you don't have one already. They make it so much easier to create straight lines and precise sections, which will help your final look seem more polished and professional. You can definitely still part your hair using your hands or a pick instead, but you may not get the same results.
2. KNOW HOW MUCH HAIR YOU NEED - This goes hand-in-hand with the quality of your parting. If you use too much extension hair for each section, you'll put too much strain on your follicles, which could cause hair loss. On the other hand, using too little extension hair can make it tricky to make your natural hair blend in.
3. THERE'S ALWAYS AN ALTERNATIVE - When I first started, I tried to mimic everything I'd seen my hairstylists do, from fluffing out and sectioning strands of extension hair to applying oil on my scalp as I went along. All these tricks proved invaluable for the most part, but YouTube quickly showed me that there are several different approaches and none is necessarily right or wrong. This was welcome news, as I was growing increasingly frustrated with one method of starting a braid that seemed physically impossible for me to achieve. The technique I eventually settled on was far simpler and more intuitive than the first, yet garnered the same results.
4. DETANGLED AND MOISTURIZED HAIR BEHAVES BEST - I'm not a newb. The day before commencing this entire endeavour, I luxuriated in a hot oil treatment, cleansed thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner, t-shirt dried, detangled, and spritzed with a mix of aloe vera juice and oils. In other words, my hair was in prime condition to be styled... but this wasn't enough! As I broke each section into smaller and smaller sections, it became clear that more detangling and moisturizing needed to be done. A good chunk of my first braids were a hot mess. Giant puffs of hair poked out every which way as if the style was pushing six weeks. Unfortunately it wasn't until I reached my ears that I remembered the sight of my beloved hairstylist in Edmonton, Loius, running a fine-toothed comb over each tiny section of hair before wrapping the synthetic hair around it. Before that she would moisturize my hair with some sort of oil, which I now realize is what kept my ends from popping out like a ghost in the night.
5. TIME IS MONEY - The last thing I learned is that the longer you spend doing your hair, the more it would've made more sense to just have it professionally styled. I spent a few hours over the span of three days installing my braids, and admittedly they look terrible. If you're trying to save money by doing your own hair and you haven't got much experience, trust me, you might be better off paying someone who knows how to glam you up.
That's not to say there's no value in learning to do it yourself. While your results may not be ideal in the short run, knowing how to do simple styles like twists, cornrows, and bantu knots can be a lifesaver once you get the hang of it. As for me, I don't mind walking around for the next couple of weeks with this semi-disaster on my head because A) my hair actually is being protected, and B) I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish. Even though it feels like I spent a decade on it, I'm already looking forward to my next attempt so I can apply everything I learned.
Have you ever tried putting in your own extensions? Tell us how it went in a comment below!
o you know where your weave came from? Do you trust that the hair on your wig was attained ethically? Many of us enjoy the texture and versatility of hair extensions, but very few people know the truth behind the human hair industry. I recently listened to an incredibly eye-opening podcast by Natural Haircare News called The Lucrative Hair Weave Market that exposed some unsettling truths about how virgin hair is sourced. If you've ever had human hair extensions or plan to get them installed in the future, please listen to that episode first.
I don't want to give away too many details, but I was pretty blown away by the podcast. It made me realize just how ignorant we as consumers can be, and how much of a role we can play in perpetuating unethical practices through everyday purchasing decisions. It's bad enough that impoverished women are sacrificing their locks to pay for food, but according to the podcast in some cases the demand for Indian virgin hair is so extreme that suppliers will physically attack women in the streets, immobilize them, and forcibly cut off their hair. It goes without saying that these women aren't compensated for enduring such abuse. Then the same @$$holes who brutalize them turn around and charge the end consumer (ie: you and me) thousands of dollars for the hair.
I'm sorry if I've made you feel bad about your extensions. The purpose of this post isn't to shame anyone for wearing human hair, but to raise awareness. Whether it's a wig, a shampoo, or even a pair of boots it's absolutely imperative that we understand where our products are coming from. So what can you do?
I'm also a huge fan of the shop local movement, which empowers citizens of the Earth to reduce their carbon footprint and support local businesses by buying goods at farmers' markets and mom-and-pop shops instead of superstores. The more conscious we are about our purchasing decisions, the sooner we can put an end to barbarous business practices.
What do you do to shop ethically or reduce your carbon footprint? Share in a comment below!
My hair was inexplicably lush when I was a child. Each individual strand was imposing in its thickness, and they were all so densely packed together that my hot-combed afro was nothing if not newsworthy. Unfortunately, that's not the case today. While it's still a total jungle at the crown, my nape looks like it's been weed-whacked and my temples are in even worse shape. It's taken me a while to piece together what has changed in my life to transform my hair so drastically. I didn't pick up any bad habits in adolescence or adulthood, so I can't point to the usual lifestyle red flags as potential indications. So if it wasn't binge drinking or harsh narcotics that messed up my mane, what was the problem?
In a previous post I discovered that one of my fatal mistakes was over-manipulating my hair. Towards the end of the year 2013, I ignorantly and daily combed my hair without respecting the laws of moisture retention. Although this hair loss was relatively recent, it shed some light on what might've been at least a couple of ongoing issues. Fortunately the hair faithfully grew back just in time for my partner's brother's wedding and I was able to have gorgeous Marley twists installed for the big event.
I was super pumped to check out how much my hair had grown after taking down the twists a few weeks later, but to my horror it seemed to have stayed the exact same length! #BreakageAlert. I had been moisturizing it religiously and obviously there was zero manipulation going on, but alas, something more sinister was afoot.
In despair, I thought back to how I had cared for my hair while it was in extensions over the past decade (which was pretty much 99% of the time) and made the following realizations:
With all this in mind, the answer to my hair loss woes was suddenly apparent. My hair was at its healthiest during my childhood because that was the only time I absolutely never wore extensions! Without all these potential issues to worry about, it was able to flourish with relatively little care. It hadn't had a break like that since the days when I collected Pokemon cards. Don't get me wrong; I still think protective styling with synthetic hair extensions is perfectly fine. In fact, I've heard many people say their hair grows best when it's in extensions. But to be honest my hair is thriving now, and so instead of relying on extensions (as I have for the majority of my life) I'm going to start celebrating and nurturing my natural hair.
Have hair extensions been more helpful or harmful in your experience? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
Not sure if you've seen posts of me on our Instagram page, but my hair is short. It's currently a hybrid between ear and neck length due to a recent mishap with the scissors. Dealing with kinky strands of varying lengths is rather frustrating, and has resulted in my utter dependance on bobby pins. I use them for everything from stretching my hair to hiding my ends to keeping my twists or braids down. They're actually a fantastic tool in this sense, providing a tonne of versatility and functionality when I need it most. However, I'm finding that I need so many of them that by the time I'm finished styling I've got as many bobby pins on my head as braids!
I don't know about you, but I can't stand the sight of bobby pins - unless they're strategically placed as accessories. To me bobby pins are scaffolding. My hairstyle is a performance and I'd rather people didn't look backstage! But alas, many of my strands are too short to even reach the ponytail so what's a girl to do?
The answer is tucking! Instead of pinning my ends down wherever they stop, I've started tucking them underneath adjacent braids / twists so they lie flat. Sometimes this involves creating twist made of twists or a braid made of braids, which usually morphs into a very sleek and elegant look provided the sections don't get too big. With tucking, I've gone from using seven or eight bobby pins in any given updo to only two or three! It's also better for my ends because they aren't exposed to the wind or sun at all.
What's your secret for taming and protecting your ends? Share in a comment below!
If you live in the northern hemisphere of this beautiful planet, it's time to get serious about your winter hair routine. It's never too late to ramp up your hair care regimen -- even if the snow has already begun to fall -- but the earlier you prepare the better. Last winter was something fierce here in Toronto. I was introduced to a chilling phenomenon called a polar vortex (they couldn't have come up with a scarier name) in which the frozen air chewed vigorously on my delicate tresses. Temperatures were often below -30ºC (-22ºF) and humidity was high, which meant moisture could easily seep into each hair strand... and then freeze! Having never heard of deep conditioning back then, it's no wonder I experienced so much breakage. This year I am older and wiser. Here's a list of preventative measures I'm taking to keep my hair strong this winter.
How do you prep your hair for cold weather? Share in a comment below!
The only thing worse than paying $500 for a hairstyle is paying $500 AND being confined to a salon chair for ten hours. A trip to the salon can drag on forever, especially if you've requested an elaborate style or your hairdresser is a rookie. For this reason, I personally opt to have the stylist come to my house. That way instead of wasting the day, I can get a tonne of work done at the same time. Although being stuck in a chair for over six hours forces me to be productive, I try to shave off as much time as possible so I can continue on with my day. I'm sure you feel the same way too, so here are some tricks to making your hair appointment go as quickly as possible.
WHEN SEEKING A STYLIST
BEFORE YOUR APPOINTMENT
WHEN YOU GET THERE (or when your stylist arrives)
The best part about these strategies is that most salons and stylists charge per style or treatment, rather than by the hour. This means that by shortening your appointment, you'll be saving money without hurting their bottom line. In fact, the sooner your hairdresser finishes with you the sooner s/he can start servicing the next client!
How do you optimize your visits to the hairdresser? Share in a comment below!
I accidentally broke a glass while washing the dishes yesterday. As I scooped up the shards, an odd thought occurred to me: these little pieces of glass are just like my natural hair! First of all naturally kinky, coily, and curly hair is very fragile. It can break and snap under myriad conditions, most notably when it's very wet or very dry. Furthermore, when natural hair gets dehydrated it can feel straw-like... almost sharp. Of course it's not sharp enough to draw blood or anything, but when it's super dry or caked in product build-up it eventually develops a texture similar to steel wool.
It's not all negative, though. Like tempered glass, natural hair can be strengthened through specific treatments. For instance when you apply a hot oil treatment or use an effective leave-in conditioner, you're reinforcing each strand of hair. Breakage can also be avoided by handling with care and minimizing manipulation. Protective styling is an awesome method of reducing manipulation because it keeps your strands safely tucked away. So if you want stronger, healthier hair, treat it like glass!
We're always hearing about how fragile our natural hair is. "Don't comb it when it's wet or it'll break." "Don't comb it when it's dry or it'll break." "Don't comb it at all — only finger detangling can truly prevent breakage!" Everyone's talking about all the "don't"s, so I decided to make a list of "do's" to help you on your path to stronger hair.
1. Hot Oil Treatments and Clay/Powder Masks - This is one of the easiest ways to fortify your tresses. By administering hot oil treatments and/or masks routinely, you ensure that your natural hair is receiving the nutrients and moisture that it requires to thrive.
2. Regular Trimming - The ends of your hair are the oldest and therefore the weakest. This is compounded by the fact that the natural oil your scalp produces to protect your hair has a harder time reaching your ends, especially if you have very kinky hair like I do. The best way to keep your hair strong is to trim your ends as soon as you notice any knots or splitting. This will prevent these problems from getting worse and causing hair loss.
3. Quality Conditioner - Regardless of whether you're riding the pre-poo bus or the no-poo train, conditioning your hair is very important. Good quality conditioners will minimize frizz and assist in detangling, which will save your hair from damage.
4. Protective Styling - I can't say enough about the benefits of reducing manipulation through protective styling. Keeping your hair in braids, twists, etc gives your strands a much-needed break from daily pulling and tugging, which in turn prevents breakage.
5. Drink Water - Moisture is essential to the health of your hair and scalp. Daily spritzing and the LOC/LCO method are great ways of preventing dryness. However, did you know you can also deliver moisture to your follicles by drinking water? That's right: what you put inside your body is just as important as what you put on it, so be sure to stay hydrated in order to guarantee your natural hair is receiving as much moisture as possible!
What do you do to grow healthier hair? Share in a comment below!
It was a cold November afternoon when I decided I no longer wanted to depend on other people to manage my natural hair. Before this moment, I had never braided, twisted, or even straightened my hair without someone's help. Embarrassingly enough, all I knew how to do was wash and detangle. I was a complete novice, and I had no idea what I was in for when I decided to wear my hair "out" for a few weeks. Fortunately I wasn't completely ignorant; I remembered my parents stressing the importance of coconut oil and regular moisturizing, and so I implemented their advice. However, there is one thing I failed to consider that caused me more damage than I ever could've imagined: I over-manipulated my hair.
By this, I mean that I combed, washed, and styled my hair WAY too often during that period. I assumed my hair could be treated the same as looser textures, so I haphazardly wore a bun one day, twists the next, and so on. It also never occurred to me that I couldn't comb my hair everyday. My thought process was that if other people could do it, I could too. But by manipulating my hair so frequently with unnecessary combing and styling, I put so much stress on my hair that it began to break severely. At least three inches of my hair broke off in those few weeks, and it didn't help that I was using a COTTON headscarf at night! (Cotton is extremely absorbent and will rob your hair of moisture overnight, resulting in dryness and even breakage over time.)
It wasn't until I went back home in December that I discovered the true extent of the damage. When my Mom saw the back of my head she exclaimed, "You have lost so much hair!" She proceeded to give me a crash course in natural hair management, stressing that our kinky, coily hair can't handle being styled more than about once a week. She recommended braiding over two-strand twists because braids hold longer and therefore limit manipulation. I began sifting through YouTube for tutorials and eventually started to get the hang of protective styling. The cotton headscarf was also promptly replaced with satin, and I'm pleased to say my hair has been on the road to recovery ever since!
To avoid making the same mistake I did, check out these awesome headwraps by Toni Daley!
If you live in the northern hemisphere, you may be noticing some changes in the weather. Here in Toronto the sun isn't shining as brightly, the days are a bit cooler, and the wind is definitely picking up. It's important to pay attention to these atmospheric changes because they have a great impact on your natural hair. As the temperature and humidity drop, you should focus on how your hair looks and feels. Here are the top three ways you can update your natural hair regimen for autumn:
What are your tricks for preparing your hair for cooler weather? Share in a comment below!
So you've been sporting a protective style for a few weeks and it's starting to look, well, rachet. Don't feel bad for letting it get to this point －life's busy and it can sometimes be hard to part with a style you've thoroughly enjoyed. However, did you know leaving a protective style in for too long can be detrimental? I know it doesn't make sense; as its name suggests, a protective style is supposed to PROTECT your natural hair! But the longer you leave it in, the more likely you are to experience breakage and even hair loss. Think of your hair as a precious crop that needs to be rotated regularly to grow fertile. If you switch up your hairstyles from time to time, you give your scalp a much needed break.
At any rate, we've already established that this time around you've left your protective style in for too long! So what can you do in the future to avoid this situation? Here are the biggest signs it's time to take down your protective style.
1. Disappearing Scalp
One of the main reasons I opt for protective styling is to allow my hair to grow uninterrupted. Some people (including yours truly) even notice accelerated growth when rocking 'dos like box braids and Marley twists. While growth is often the goal, it will also eventually indicate that your protective style needs to come out. My personal rule of thumb is to wait until I can no longer see my scalp anymore. It's usually around the 4 - 6 week mark that my new growth has emerged far enough to completely obscure my scalp, thereby making moisturizing much trickier. I can no longer simply spritz and walk away; I must separate section by section to ensure the moisture is reaching down to my scalp. This is less than ideal because it takes longer and doesn't guarantee that my entire head will be equally moisturized. In other words, time to take down!
Another obvious signal is product build-up. If you can't rinse out your oils easily, or you notice dust and grime coating your roots, take that protective style out! Letting that stuff sit there literally suffocates your strands and scalp, which can ultimately lead to stifled growth. This usually happens when your roots have grown out too long, as mentioned above.
3. Unkempt Roots
When this happens in conjunction with product build-up, you have a real nightmare on your hands. Your roots will likely start to get matted if growth is left unchecked after about 8 - 10 weeks (depending on how quickly your hair grows). I notice twisting happens on the extensions installed at my temples and edges, probably because those sections tend to be smaller. The individual braid or twist feels tighter than the rest, and when I look at it in the mirror the roots of those hairs have twisted around each other into a thin coil. PLEASE do yourself a favour and immediately take the braid/twist out if you experience this! Leaving it alone will put an enormous amount of stress on your hair follicles, resulting in breakage and/or hair loss.
4. Popping Ends
While your roots are growing in, your ends might also be growing out of your extensions. You'll see that over time your protective style will go from looking sleek and tame to a little rough around the edges. This isn't a huge problem as long as you keep the ends moisturized, but after a while your look will no longer seem as polished.
5. Losing Extensions
This shouldn't happen often if your hair is past the TWA (teeny weeny afro) stage, but it's still something to pay attention to if it does occur. Each extension that falls out leaves a section of hair unprotected and thus vulnerable to breakage. If you don't know how to reinstall the braid or twist, just wrap the loose section around an adjacent braid/twist and secure it with a pin or ouchless hair tie.
6. Getting Bored
This may sound like a frivolous reason, but it's just as legitimate as any of the previous signs. If you're no longer in love with your hairdo, change it up! There's absolutely no reason to walk around with an unflattering style just because you haven't reached the 6 week mark yet. Of course give it some time to grow on you, though. Pull it up in a bun. Accessorize it. Leave it down. If nothing works, don't feel bad. Just remember what you didn't like and try something new.
What's the longest amount of time you've left a protective style in? Tell us in a comment below!
It seems every naturalista and her cat is touting the benefits of hot oil treatments. Regardless of hair type or length, they are a fantastic method of deep conditioning, restoring moisture, and adding shine to your natural hair. The process is simple: once a week you warm up a combo of some of your favourite oils, apply them to your hair and scalp for 30 mins, cover your hair with a warm towel / steamer, rinse with warm water, then condition your hair. Hot oil treatments aren't just good for your hair; the whole experience can be quite therapeutic and luxurious. While many natural hair experts insist on weekly hot oil treatments, though, there are times when it might be better to wait. The three worst times to administer a hot oil treatment are:
1. Right after you've gotten a protective style installed. This is because your scalp is still tender, and rinsing out the oil will agitate it. Moreover, washing your hair will age the hairstyle prematurely. Doing a hot oil treatment right before you visit your stylist is a great idea, though.
2. When you're short on time. The ideal amount of time to leave the oil in your hair is 30-45 minutes, after which you need to hop into the shower as soon as possible. Some people claim leaving it overnight has the most benefit, but the majority of sources agree your hair is usually already saturated by the 45 minute mark. If you don't have time to rinse out the hot oil you risk experiencing product build-up, and your hair might start to smell bad (especially if you're using castor oil!).
3. If your last hot oil treatment was only a few days ago. This may vary from person to person, but generally you shouldn't be deep conditioning your hair with hot oil more than once a week to every two weeks. The main reason is because you must thoroughly wash your hair following the treatment, and washing your hair too often will leave it dry and brittle. Secondly, the treatment works best if it's given time to work on your hair. If you're constantly saturating your scalp and strands in oil, you won't give them time to truly benefit from the treatment.
When's your favourite time to do a hot oil treatment? Let us know in a comment below!
For many of us naturalistas, the arrival of fall means back to school. Whether it's you or maybe your children returning to classes next week, hair must be on your mind! To help you decide which style and care routine will help you put your best foot forward, we've compiled this list of resources for you. Hope you find it useful!
How do you get ready to go back to school? Leave us a comment below!