More Faux Locs

I can’t quite remember the time frame, but it was somewhere near the middle of my first semester in college. Perhaps it was Tumblr photos or YouTube suggestions that sparked the idea, but I wanted to give faux locs another try. But this time all my own. I had wandered into a beauty store and saw this really pretty pack of lavender Kanekalon hair that I thought would do well for this particular style. I didn’t buy it right then but I kept a mental note of it. I also knew that my own hair isn’t long enough to achieve the length I wanted so I had to… well, extend it. But instead of buying a bunch of Kanekalon hair, I looked into yarn braids. This venture became two hair experiments at once. Once I finally decided to buy everything I felt I’d need, I ended up with four packs of pretty lavender hair, two packs of black hair, a large bundle of black yarn, and two lighters.

Before actually styling, I wanted to make sure I touched all bases, one of which involved preparing the yarn. I was reluctant with putting the yarn straight out of the packaging into my hair, but I wasn’t sure how I would go about washing it, since it behaves more like clothing than hair. After going through many videos on how people had prepped their yarn before installation, I decided to go my own route. I took a large tub I had in my room which was holding all of my reading books at the time, emptied it, and used it for a yarn bath. I filled it up about a third of the way with water, pouring in two or three cap-fulls of apple cider vinegar and adding drops of Tea Tree oil. I would let the yarn soak for about 30mins, checking on it every so often and moving the yarn around so as not to create layers. During this step, I was actually glad I made this decision; the water from the bath had changed from a clear, slightly yellow tint, to an increasingly more opaque black. I had figured there would be factory set dye on the yarn but I suppose I hadn’t anticipated how much. Once I felt the yarn was clean enough, I filled the tub once more with clean water, adding a few more drops of Tea Tree oil to fight away any lingering bacteria, as well as mask the vinegar scent as much as possible.

Luckily, I had decided to do this at the beginning of the week because it took just about every day after for the yarn to dry. I had draped the yarn over a hanger and let them drip onto a plastic bag. By the end of the week, they were dry enough for me to feel comfortable enough to begin braiding. Once the school day ended on Friday and I made my way home, I didn’t bother to do too much school work (at least, none that I remember). I set my bed up for braiding my hair, put on a good show (which I believe was a Korean drama), and got to it. Because I knew the wrapping part of faux locs would take long, I decided to do more of a bob length for my braids. I finished braiding rather quickly, in comparison to how long it typically takes to finish braids or singles any other time. I almost regret going through the next step because I really enjoyed my yarn braids. Not only did they frame my face nicely, I’d say they were very flexible in terms of style and aesthetics.

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Can you see the purple peeking through?

I started wrapping the braids from the back, as always. This was quite the task because I was having difficulty securing the hair from the root — additionally, this was the back of my head. This problem persisted through the extensive styling process. And by extensive, I don’t mean longer than a day or two. I mean, there were many times I went to school with my hair half styled between yarn braids and faux locs until my entire head was done. It was a trying process, but eventually, a week, three lighters, a sore thumb, and a K-drama later, I finished my entire head. I was, for the most part, satisfied with the look initially. I was happy that I was finished, happy that my thumb could rest, and happy that I wouldn’t have to come home and worry about another yarn braid to wrap and re-wrap. I had ran out of lavender by the time I reach the front so I did use some of my black hair. Nevertheless, the look still was pretty… initially.

Remember that I was having a problem securing the Kanekalon hair to the root? I also had this problem down the braid as well. I found myself having to readjust the Kanekalon so that the black yarn braid was not peeking through underneath. I also had the problem that the ends of the loc, where I had burned, would occasionally become unraveled. By the end of one week’s worth of wear, the entire style had begun to fall apart. As much as I love the weight and color of the style, this look had gotten out of control. Tearfully, I spent the next week removing the style — periodically hating myself, constantly criticizing myself, and regretting investing so much in a style that I had planned to wear for at least a month.

I actually think about that hairstyle a lot. I enjoyed it, though it was short lived. I’m not sure what it is but one of the reasons I love protective styles that involve extensions is to feel the weight of the hair. Those locs definitely had their fair amount of weight to them and sometimes I miss it. But I don’t see myself going through that process again. At least not any time soon. However, there is still some fun things I had the chance to do later along my timeline. I’ve always loved colorful extensions and the more I wore them, the more I wanted colorful hair. There was a time where my wish was granted…

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(Completed 10/5/2017)

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Singles

There were two incidences where I decided to try and handle my own extension-involved protective style, but only one of the two came out decently. Towards the end of the summer, perhaps a week or two before I would become a college freshman, I was really craving to have my beloved green box braids back – or singles as I know them. My mother had offered to set me an appointment with my usual braider but I was feeling adventurous and thought, “Those twists came out pretty okay… why can’t my braids?” So, I set out to take on the challenge of putting my own singles in.

I went out and bought five packs of Kanekalon hair, two were green and three were in 1B. Before I even started, I had made up in my mind I would cut the bundles in half; I didn’t care to have them super long and I did not favor another three days of doing hair for length’s sake. I also decided to have my hair sectioned beforehand, so the week before, I had twisted my hair into the section sizes I wanted. Of course, I made minor changes but the pre-separation made the process go a little smoother. Whenever I do my hair, I always start from the back, so the back three or four rows were mostly 1B. I wanted to conserve my green packs as much as possible, as well as make sure the visual parts of my head were well colored. I didn’t use a brush or comb as far as I can remember unless I absolutely needed to detangle something; I let the curly nature of the twists assist in locking into the braid, only going over my hair with a spritz of water and some of my Shea mix.

The styling process went by rather smoothly. By the evening, around the time I decided to sleep, I had finished half my head. Perhaps it was the movies and shows that helped things fly by, but I managed to finish in less than three days – about one and a half. Sealing the ends was done later, at my sister’s house (No, my mother didn’t suddenly have another child, I consider her as close as blood is all). To give my braids a nice crimpy texture, I braided the braids into bigger, jumbo braids… if that made any sense. I dipped the jumbo braids into boiling water for a few seconds and made sure to be cautious as not to burn myself. After pat-drying them a bit, I left the braids in overnight. The next day, I got dressed and did my casual makeup that I usually do, and took down my jumbo braids. I was very pleased with my results. I was not expecting them to look as good as they did, especially with a middle part. But for my first attempt, I’d say I did pretty good. The test was durability.

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Was and still is one of my favorite selfies

Later in the day, we went to a picnic-like thing, me, twin, and mother dearest. However, it was very hot that day and there was a pool; twin and I wasted no time to enjoy it. After changing into our bathing suits (and taking a few pictures of course), we went to the pool. We had our fun, we ate, we got back in the pool after we digested, and probably more that I can’t remember. For some reason, my favorite thing about swimming is when I have my braids. While some pull their hair back into a ponytail, I like to leave mine out and swim freely.

I slept the entire ride back, I’m sure. When we got back, mother dearest had pre-established everyone was washing their hair. I had no problem with this, I usually do so after marinating in chlorine anyway. The shampoo twin uses has sulfates in it, which some aren’t opposed to. I’m not “some”. She offered me a conditioner of some sort instead, I think a Sea Breeze product. I used that to co-wash, also letting it sit while I showered. I sealed with my Shea mix afterwards, as well as helped her with her hair. I offered to detangle before she started twisting her hair and I used my mix as well. Not only is it great at detangling but it softened her hair as well. She watched anime while twisting her hair; I fell asleep during the process.

My hair hadn’t held through the way I’d have liked it to. It became frizzy rather quickly and my hair started to poke through the shaft of some of the braids. Luckily, I had hats and hoodies to help me to the end of the month at least, where I cut and removed the braids. I do wish they had held out a little better, but I’m not opposed to trying again. Maybe I’ll do so later, but let’s skip to the second of the two trials…

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My eyelashes look so long and luscious… thank you, mascara

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(Completed 2/8/2017)

Consider The Customer

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).

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The braid-bun swoopy bang thing

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.

Sincerely,

Naturals Everywhere

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I promise, it hurt to do a pose this slight…

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.

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I still think I’m wearing my aunt’s aesthetic…

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.

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You didn’t think I’d miss a chance to flaunt, did you?

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(Completed 2/4/2017)

Faux Dreads Indeed

January was the month I had my first protective style installed as a natural. To this very day, it is still my absolute favorite look on me — next to my signature green braids. I wanted to try this new “crochet braid” trend that was popping up around me but I wanted to try faux dreads even more. As always, I went back to the web and looked for “crochet faux locs”. The results weren’t as helpful as they usually are… Nevertheless, I had made up my mind. It was a Saturday, the 9th to be exact. My mother took me to my aunt’s, who took me to the hair store. We picked up five packs of pre-dreaded crochet hair (or whatever you would call pre-styled hair), and went back to her house. I can’t quite recall what I was intending for my braid pattern in terms of “wearability”, but I wanted the front to be cornrowed back and the back to be braided horizontally. After a lot of clarification, my aunt went to braiding. And yes, it did hurt. My aunt deals with her own hair and that is all. She occasionally does my cousin’s hair but I can see the pain she is in when I sit and watch. There was no water, there was no moisturizer, there was no detangling cream; there was only the coconut oil I had coated my hair with the night prior after a thorough wash. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my aunt, so I made sure to equip my hair for whatever may come.

Once we got past the raking and braiding, the actual crocheting went smoothly (and painlessly… er, significantly less painfully). I had to make sure I had some sort of color because I always do; I had picked out the color closest to my hair color and a lighter honey blond. There wasn’t a specific pattern to color dispersion, just a “make sure they aren’t too close”. When we had finished, I had a plop-full of big, long “dreads”, by which I mean tightly coiled curls. When I found out they weren’t as loc-like as I wanted them to be, I wasn’t completely bothered. In fact, it excited me a little. The very next day, I had a plan: I will wear these “dreads” for three or four weeks, and when I get bored of them, I’ll cut them down a size and separate the curls. Never have I ever been more excited to become bored of anything.

Daily wear and care was another story. Because the hair was so bulky and I no longer had a “shapeable” hairline, it was either wear a headband, side-part or have some face fall, or tie it back with a scarf. I only had one headband elastic enough to make it onto my head, so when it fit into the color scheme of my outfit, I’d wear it with all the hair to either side. A side part was a one-time thing, after learning how sparsely the hair was crocheted. We had ran out of hair so my aunt had to spread the dreads out more than expected. Thusly, a side part exposed the braid underneath and the side-part was a no-go. In conclusion: I wore my hair tied back regularly, using a scarf that didn’t match anything. I grew tired quicker than I did bored. Then, the fourth week rolls around.

I never felt so comfortable and happy having scissors so close to my face. No, I did not shave my head, despite the temptation. Friday, I went straight home after school and practically ignored my homework entirely until the next day. During the four weeks, I had already gotten curious and cut and separated two or three dreads into curls, so when time had come, I was more than impatient. But I took my time, measuring how much I wanted to cut according to where it would fall on my shoulders. I used some of the snips to fill in the gaps a 6th pack of hair could have filled. Then I began separating after I put on a movie — I didn’t bother to before because I needed a mirror. When I was done, I fluffed through my hair to see if I had missed anything. I almost shrieked when I looked in the mirror; I had this head full of Shirley Temple curls in an afro-like shape. I took pictures and sent them to my hair mentor and best friend, a few other people, and plastered it anywhere I could. I loved my “new” hair.

The style was supposed to stay only for two weeks but it felt more like three and a half. I wasn’t sure what to do with my own hair once I took the crochet hair out. I didn’t mind the extension of course, but eventually I figured something out. I decided I would flat iron my hair so I could give it a trim. Another Friday rolls around and I began tending to my hair, taking the curls out and undoing the cornrows underneath. Before I took the braids out, I felt my head for a little. There were these two bald-feeling patches behind my ears, where the braid pattern split. I waived it off of course but it bothered me in the moment.

I went through with my current wash process, and boy does it feel nice to have warm water run through your scalp after a long term protective style. My heat protectant of choice was another Cantu product, their protectant spray. Perhaps it was because it was my first use, but the “spray” came out as a stream. I was confused, but I coped. I spritzed it onto my hand (a lot of it), and rubbed it through my hair until I felt my whole head was well coated. I grabbed my blow dryer, the concentration nozzle, and my Denman brush and a comb. It was such a trying process, it hurts my arms to think about. I’m more than sure blow drying my hair without a comb nozzle will produce fit arms quicker than bench-pressing. My comb nozzle was a generic attachment I bought separately and it almost hurt to learn it doesn’t work for any of the blow driers in my house… Enough about biceps and blow driers, onto burning myself.

Because I’m such a jumpy, easily heat-frightened person, flat ironing my own hair was probably a good decision. The flat iron made the sizzling noises I hated, but I watched the color of the smoke closely with each pass: white smoke is steam. That means the heat protectant and coconut oil products are doing their jobs. As I got closer to the sides of my head, especially where my ears were, flat ironing became more difficult. My hair was significantly shorter there, and this plus a bulky flat iron does not equal easy. I tried to make sure I finished the sections that I couldn’t see as quickly as I did the shorter sections. The entire flat ironing process was mostly regretting not asking someone to help me and arguing why doing it myself was a good decision. And a lot of jump-scares a.k.a sizzling. I did finish eventually. Seeing my hair after the fact reminded me that my virgin hair doesn’t take to flat irons the same way as my permed hair. The major thing was getting it flat enough to trim precisely.

I wore my flat hair for all of four days before reverting. I hated myself for it, but I didn’t have a choice. My scalp was majorly irritated and I wasn’t sure why. I tried to think of anything that could cause it but came up short. The following Tuesday, I rinsed my hair and wore my shrunken hair the rest of the week. From then, I didn’t try too many new styles or products; the small spots behind my ears had lost about half their length so regrowth was my biggest goal. My theory was that the crochet hair that kept snagging was actually pulling at those patches. That was my only crochet style, and as much as I enjoyed it, I didn’t see myself reinstalling another set for a while. With few changes here and there, I continued my basic routine of washing on Friday or Saturday and styling for the week. My next style wouldn’t happen until Prom Season came around.

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Caption: A slideshow of process pictures; please excuse the background and expressions I made

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(Completed 10/28/2016)

Wash With Care

December was the month where any new changes to the shampoo part of washday occurred. It was in this month, I looked into the deal with Sulfate in Shampoo. “Sulfate is stripping and could be why your hair and scalp are dry and itchy!” Is that so? So it seemed, and so it was proven. I did find my way into buying a sulfate free shampoo to use with my hair. It was the second of my Cantu Hair Products buys (my first being the Coconut Curling Cream). I did know before buying that introducing too many products to your hair isn’t the best. Thus, I waited just a bit after buying before using; this was due to what I just stated but also being conscious of if it would clean as well as I’d like it to. I do understand shampoos with sulfate are necessary for removing buildup if there is a lot, but I also wash my hair weekly. This reasoning for myself was why the wait wasn’t very long.

I was comfortable with this new shampoo after the first trial. The only thing that bugged me was the uncomfortable inelastic feeling it gave my hair before I conditioned. After I applied my deep conditioner, however, I didn’t really think much of it. A few uses and some spare time later, I came across my new point of interest, a new term I had never heard until mentioned in an article or blogpost: Co-washing. “Co-washing?” It was time to refer to google again. What does co-washing mean? Co-washing is washing your hair with only conditioner, hence the name: conditioner washing, co-washing. It was foreign and irrational to me. Conditioner doesn’t cleanse, it conditions your hair: makes it slip, sleek, and softer… Well, that is unless you have a cleansing conditioner. Luckily, my favorite product line had just that. Cantu Cleansing Conditioner. I was left amazed and confused but it was only alluring to me because of the occasional clump-of-product feeling I felt on my hair and head during the week. I desperately wanted an alternative to shampooing more often than once a week and it was just presented to me.

My next visit to the hair store was to buy a refill of Castor Oil as well as this “co-wash” thing that was still alien to me, to my hair. When I bought my items, the oil was definitely put to immediate use; it was a wonderfully scented Mango & Papaya this time. The co-wash sat on my dresser next to the rest of my hair trinkets for about two weeks; I refused to use it because it still made no sense. But on a lucky Tuesday, my scalp was irritated by something, still unknown to me. Perhaps it was because flat twists were still a new style to my hair; for some reason new styles that cause tension create hair bumps and irritate my scalp. So I untwisted my hair, grabbed this “co-wash” and went to the shower with it and my night clothes. I went in disgusted with my decision to even buy the item and left happy with the results. Co-washing felt like a combination of sulfate-free shampooing and deep conditioning at the same time. It’s not something I would be comfortable with doing in place of shampooing weekly, but it would be a midweek cleanse as needed. In fact, this same bottle would have had only two uses two months after its purchase.

Forgive me. I did mention flat twisting, and I have a lovely anecdote on the task:

I often saw pictures of the lovely style and wanted to try it for myself and when I did, it replaced single-strand twists and finger coiling for me almost completely and immediately. It was how I achieved my twist outs, it was my moisture-locking method for washday, it is my favorite. Finger coiling became my trim-day routine. In fact, I was so proud of my flat twists, a friend who tagged along with me and my family on our Christmas vacation asked me to twist her hair for her. They came out well and showed her the length of her hair that she rarely saw (I was subtly jealous).

But it is now January; It is a new year. By this time, I would be going into my third month of being completely natural. From here forth, the goal is hair health and, consequently, length.

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A side-twist style attempt (I look horrid in this picture)

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(Completed 10/28/2016)

A Spoonful of Honey

The first time I conditioned my hair with my new honey mix was the Friday after Thanksgiving day. Before going to bed on the Eve, I established mixing was in my tomorrow agenda and thus was fulfilled. Because I wanted to make enough product to last a few washes, I used a half cup of each ingredient: EVOO, Coconut Oil, Honey, and Conditioner (this time, I measured). I first put the oils in together, whisking the mix before putting it in the microwave to heat for a few seconds as I measured out the honey. Once the oil combination dinged in the microwave, I took the bowl out and added the honey, whisking and heating the mix again. I measured out my conditioner as well while the mix was heating and added once done before giving the concoction a final whisk, making sure to mix it good so that everything could break down and blend as much as possible (despite the consistencies being so different). While I went out to stuff my stomach with ham and other foods my family brought to the table, my mix sat in my cold room.

The following day, I noticed that the ingredients had all separated before chilling. So I took my small whisk I keep with my mixing and making items and mixed the concoction while it was in its container. Come Friday — washing day —  it was the perfect consistency for application. Parting section by section, I applied the conditioner to my dry hair, covered my head with a plastic shower cap, and let it sit for 30minutes (give or take ten more). As I was accustomed to with my last mix, I went and rinsed my homemade deep conditioner out and followed with shampoo. Then, after my shower, I went on to my room, set my laptop up with a movie, took my oil I used to twist my hair (Jamaican Black Castor Oil), and went on into the morning doing so. The school day circled back around on Monday and I was planning on wearing my twists to school… until I removed my head wrap and saw them going every direction known and unknown to man. So I took them out and fluffed my hair. I put on some makeup, and went with my cute and curly teeny-weeny-afro to school. And my confidence skyrocketed with every compliment: “the curls! They be poppin’, yas!” I was very content with my hair for the rest of that week.

As usual, when I was home in my lonely boredom, I continued my research on how to maintain my new found curls and their luscious definition. I came across different things I guessed already: curl activators, twist and retwist, remember to moisturize — the tips every natural knows I suppose. Once I was done with that, I went on to a new inquiry. I like to see if my methods are similar to others who do it, so I searched “how to deep condition”, a DIY version of course. One article I came across said to shampoo first and follow with the deep conditioner. Another said to “pre-poo”, shampoo, then deep condition… So I felt I was doing something wrong. I went back to the search bar: “deep condition with dry hair?” And one article answered me perfectly. It gave a few methods after explaining the pros of deep conditioning. The first was the classic “wet your hair first and shampoo”, another was the pre-poo I mentioned. There was also my question asked by an anonymous “Can you use deep conditioner on dry hair?” The response said it was doable. That is, if you’re willing to deep condition, shampoo, and use a rinse out conditioner to retain the moisture from the product you washed out. This is what made me change my conditioning routine.

My washday showers are doubly longer than my normal showers now. I thoroughly wet my hair, finger detangling as well, add shampoo, detangle some more, and rinse. Then, I follow with my conditioner. Since my hair is wet and easier to maneuver through, I don’t have to comb out small sections and apply; I can simply grab a clump of conditioner in the palm of my hand, rub between both of my hands, and lather it onto my hair. In my mind, the mix will run down the strands of my hair the more I massage the mix in, but to be sure, I take some conditioner and line the edges of my hairline before working the mix through my scalp to reach the roots. Once I feel my head is thoroughly coated, I scrub my scalp and massage the mix in for a good minute or two (equivalent to the verse of a song or so) and place my shower cap on my head. While the mix saturates, I take the time to soap my body down and take care of my other shower necessities. Depending on how long I want the mix to sit determines how much longer I would be in the shower; that is, 5-10 minutes or 10-20 minutes. Regardless, once finished, I rinse thoroughly with cooler water and begin to (finally) exit the bathroom. Once I’m back in the comforts of my room, I twist my hair (though this time, I was not quite in the mood for twisting; I washed, rubbed oil through my hair, wrapped, and went to bed).

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(Completed 2/8/2016)

From The Beginning

Intro Note: I’ve been tracking my personal progress with my hair care ever since I decided to take care of it, so this is the first portion of a series of posts describing how things are. It’s more so a reader than an informer post, if you’d like to know; I typed in a story-ish format and, on a whim, felt it’d be nice to share…

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Perhaps I’m a little behind in deciding to do this. Perhaps, I should’ve started doing this from the last time I messed with my hair outside of picking it out into a short Afro… Oh well. I guess I’m left to recollecting as much as I recall for documentation. So with that said, this is what I have done thus far:

If my memory serves me well, the last I styled my hair was the second week of October? Yes, this was the Sunday before senior portraits. I had a wonderful track/weave job (well, it was good. I found things to criticize): a beautiful blue ombré that came just past my shoulders [photo included at end]. As a matter of fact, I marked that as my favorite weave installation out of all the ones I’ve had (I may have taken more selfies than what is healthy, but back to the original topic). After I had grown irritated with the style (due to boredom or maintenance) and taken it out, my hair was just an unkempt poof of hair. That is, my dry, incoming growth as well as the uneven parts of my hair, damaged by chemicals and/or heat.

I had taken the tracks out sometime during the week of Halloween so my outfit would look accordingly. I had no idea what to do with my hair other than to wash and condition it, and throw an oil on so I could brush through it, so it’d be “smooth” or “soft”. But underneath the product was my mangled, frail and dying hair. When costume day came around, I ended up hand-combing the longer parts of my hair to the side while my ‘fro prevailed everywhere else on my head. My outfit looked great and the quick-fix idea of a hairstyle I had managed cooperated fair with the idea of the costume. Unfortunately, I was left to deal with it afterwards too. So I went on, consulting with my hair role model and friend, I call him Chibi. He’s been natural since just about January 2015 and I must tell you of how much I adore his hair and all of its springs and coils. My question to him was about cutting off the front length of my hair. The rest of my hair was short but the front was what I left for styling whenever I went to the chair to be pressed and prettied up. He agreed with my view: “give it a week and if it still bothers you, make the cut”.

A week past and I made the cut. I washed my hair first so I could see which parts were relaxed and then, in the mirror, I carefully snipped off the pieces that needed to go. I was more content with the more even mini-fro I had after the process, but even then, I had to learn proper etiquette for caring for and repairing my hair. At the time, my mother just wanted to throw me back into box-braids because it was convenient and lasted me a while. I didn’t want braids just yet because I was enjoying not having to do much more to my hair than brush it out into a nice Afro mini in the mornings (and crash at night without wrapping) so she let me wear my mini ‘fro — or as I called it, my “floof floof”.

Now, after a while, I’ve grown comfortable and a bit more confident in my floof. But a day came when I was casually on the bus ride home with Chibi, and he says, “dude. You should deep condition.” And at the time, I had barely known that this was actually a thing. But when that following Friday rolled in, I decided to do a little searching on exactly what this is, how it works, and, if anything, what I’d need. I wanted to try it from home without having to buy any new product so I looked up do-it-yourself methods of deep conditioning. I came across honey and oils multiple times until I decided to give it a try.

For my first go round, I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Coconut Oil, and (water-based) Conditioner; since I didn’t have honey, nothing said I had to use just the oils. I didn’t measure out the conditioner but I used a fourth of each oil; I decided to add conditioner until it was thicker than its initial liquid consistency so I could apply after I was done mixing (I had regretted using it immediately after mixing the next day; all of the oils caked around my neck and that could’ve been avoided had I let the mix harden in the cold overnight). After application, I let the mix sit for about thirty minutes or so while wearing a shower cap to circulate heat before gathering my clothes and towel to go rinse everything off in the shower. According to the tutorial I had read and was following, I would shampoo the mix out. I made sure not to use as much shampoo as I usually used so that the most important ingredients would set in my hair. As I rinsed the shampoo, I was excited at being able to feel my hair curling after treatment. I remember saying “And all my hair wanted was some moisture” afterwards.

So I repeated this process on my washday, Friday, until the product was gone. That was only one wash away. So I decided to refill with the recipe I originally wanted to use: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Honey, and conditioner. This brings me to where I stand with my hair.

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Blue Ombré, as Mentioned

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(Completed 12/2/2015)