Throughout the rest of the school year, I kept to my current hair regimen. Typically, I would do coil-outs on my hair, not only because it was the most familiar, but also because it was the closest to my curl pattern (the little bit that was there). Occasionally, I would dabble in experimenting with flat twist styles – they, too, became twist-outs. But as aforementioned, my next protective style was installed during prom season. Naturally, prom season was a stressful one, but that’s a story for another time. After I had gotten my dress, I had already known exactly how I wanted everything else to go: gloves, silver jewelry, dangling earrings, and a braid-bun with a swoopy bang thing… Don’t judge my vernacular. It was a simple enough concept, but to make it easier to explain to others, I went and found a picture example to show my stylist(s). The lady who usually does my braids was not available at the time so my mother had set me up for an appointment with her stylist instead. The way my mother had talked her up, I felt comfortable and well placed; I felt I was in good hands (stylist, if you’re reading this, I am not speaking against you; these are just my opinions and an honest review).
To be fair, I will say I was pleased with the end results: my braids were neat, tightly braided as I prefer, and overall well done. Unfortunately, the process outweighs the product, at least for me. Being at a point with my hair where I was focusing on regrowth, I had made up my mind that I wouldn’t be using heat for a while. Considering that good customer service implies thorough communication (and the fact I’m not a very vocal person), I didn’t think to voice my opinion before my stylist pulled out her blow dryer. Not only was I skeptic of unapproved heat usage, her handling of my physical head and hair was not… preferred. Much like my aunt, there was no heat protectant, water, or moisturizer when combing. There was only the oils on my hair prior, nervous sweating, and a comb that probably should not exist. Why anyone would use (much less invent) a wooden comb is beyond me… By the end of the agony, however, I had these really nice braids. And for the first time in probably years, they were all one color. Initially, I hated them because I’m used to having highlights, but when prom night came around, the only name I went by was Brandy. My outfit and hair came together better than I had in mind (though I couldn’t see it immediately; I was under a lot of stress in the moment). But a note to stylists:
Dear Stylists anywhere:
While your customer understands that the product is the important part, good reviews stem from the making process. Please consider this before raking the cerebral cortex from my skull.
I kept this set of braids in for a month – the shortest time span I ever kept braids. The only reason this was so was due to the color, or lack thereof. I wasn’t used to it and it was starting to bug me majorly. I waited until the week after graduation to cut them, as I do always before removing the extensions. I measured the cut according to where I wanted the hair to fall on my shoulders, grabbed my shears, and snipped away. I braided various jumbo sections and scrunchied them before dipping them in hot water to give the individual braids a nice, crimpy texture. It was around this time I also installed Senegalese Twists (also called rope twists, I believe) for someone else – my hair mentor, and best friend. I made sure to watch plenty of tutorials over and over, to practice a little, and anything else beforehand.
He wanted them to be longer twists so I decided not to cut the full bundle of hair in half, as commonly done. As nice an end result this produced, the process was very, very, tedious. Because I was new to not only the technique of Senegalese twisting but installing extensions as well, what may have been a handful of hours if done professionally took about 2-3 and a half days. Between measurements, micro-perfectionism (if I can call it that), food and bathroom breaks, finger and leg cramps, mini-naps, and goofing, it took about three days to produce a set of really pretty twists. As the stylist, I hated them for many reasons initially: the parting was weird, there were small errors here and there, and a few other things (but it was probably just me grouching because I was severely sleep deprived and delirious). However, ironically, every time I see the photos of the finished product, I get jealous… of myself. “Those came out sooooo good”, I think to myself, “Why didn’t I do that on my own hair?” It’s actually funny when I catch myself thinking as such… Nonetheless, he loved the look, he wasn’t in dire pain during the process – be it a longer one – and, of course, we had our fun during the breaks (the many breaks we had). And, as expected, once they went home, I crashed hard.
Eventually, my own hair was back to its natural, extension-less state a week or so later. I caught up on my sleep, and the numbness and rawness of my fingers went away with time. As much as I may have disliked the product I had previously done, it set a good basing for my own skill which I used shortly after, in two ways. Over the summer, I stuck mostly to the basics: coils, twists, flat-twists, and I even tried Bantu knots. It was a weirder experience. My mother had always put Bantu knots in my hair when I was younger and I could not stand to look at them one bit. I hated them, mostly because I was teased for having them, but also because I believed the style just did not fit my round head (and I had a really round head as a tot). When I had tried them for myself, it looked more… mature, if I can say. But I’ll save the selfie spam and bragging for a more appropriate time.