Category Archives: braids

My Natural Hair Needs Braids To Grow


Arnold shoulder shrug

As a little girl, through my tween years, my mother and older sisters kept my hair braided in various styles. When I say braided, I mean regular braids without the addition of synthetic hair. My hair always flourished this way. When it was time for my hair to be washed, the braids would come down, my mother would wash and deep condition my hair, give me a hot oil treatment complete with a scalp massage, and my hair would get braided up again.

Fast forward to today, and one of the most common ways to braid hair is with the addition of synthetic or human hair. This practice is by no means new. It has been done for centuries by African women all over the African continent. It allows for a myriad of styling and color options, and it adds to the longevity of the style. I know there are those who swear by the rule that you can grow your hair without the use of protective styles (mainly protective styles that require the use of synthetic or human hair via braids or wigs.)  by simply taking better care of your hair and following strict hair care routines. To that, I say no two heads of hair are alike.

Since being natural for five years now, I can honestly say that I have experienced the most growth when my hair was in braids. When my hair is simply left alone in a protective style, it thrives. I keep it moisturized, I keep my scalp and braids oiled with castor oil, and I simply let it be. I have learned how to minimize the shedding and breakage, and I don’t tug and pull on my braids because of trying to put them in cute buns or other styles.

I have decided that my girls and I will wear braids more this year. As long as our braids are not tight and we practice edge-saving techniques and healthy maintenance, we’ll all be fine, and our natural hair will love us for it.

I would love to hear from you! Does your hair fair better with or without braids? Hit the comment section and let me know!



Natural Hair In Review – 2017


that's a wrap

Every year I learn something new. New techniques, new natural things to use on my hair such as herbs and oils. While I may not have tried them all, they’ve definitely been added to my “to-do” or “wish” lists.

Lessons Regarding My Hair

The first important thing I’ve learned is to let go of the bad ends. I neglected to clip my ends for quite some time, and I paid for it. My afros,while big, looked scraggly. When I finally got rid of those bad ends, my afro looked healthy. Let go of the dead weight people. Don’t hang on to bad ends for the sake of length. It will always hurt you more in the end with the amount of hair that you end up having to cut.

The second important thing I learned about my hair is that it grows better when it’s braided or in some type of protective style. For a good portion of 2017, I wore my hair in its natural state. I let my fro fly free. While I enjoyed rockin’ my big hair, it became a chore at times. I felt pressured to find and try new styles that weren’t always good for my hair.

For one, the temptation to twist my hair into two strand twists or plaits every night to have fresh curls in the morning was something I had to fight against. Also, the temptation to semi-straighten/stretch my hair more than I should (in the attempt to try new styles) was also there.  Both things can cause breakage when done in excess, and after finally clipping my bad ends, more breakage is the last thing I want. I also noticed that my hair growth seemed slower when not in a protective style. Having observed all of these things about my hair, it’s time to listen to what it needs. I will be more diligent about my protective styles to promote healthy hair growth.

Lessons From The Natural Hair Community 

We have a long way to go with education, acceptance, confidence, support towards one another, and respect. While I’m happy to see many women making the change from chemical relaxers to natural hair, many of them need to be educated on African American hair so they can better understand their own hair. They need to learn our history about hair braiding, head wraps, designs, and why certain negative terms and views that date back to slavery and beyond still have a vice grip on many of us today that prevent us from seeing the true beauty of our hair. Educating yourself is one of the most important steps in your natural hair journey.

It makes me happy to see that there are so many natural hair events all over the states that celebrate all types of African American hair, and I hope to attend a few of them that are close to my neck of the woods. I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding those events, and we need more like them.

I’m going to continue to do my part by encouraging hair-positive messages in the natural hair community through my blog. My focus will be on the positive stories in the natural hair community and less on the negative ones. And as usual, I will continue to strive to take better care of my natural hair.

Thank you all for supporting my blog, and here’s to healthier hair in 2018!





When The Creamy Crack Lures You Back


Straight and curly hair

Hair is such a personal and emotional thing for women. We can wake up one morning and decide to cut it all off, dye it, wear a wig, get a sew in, or have it braided. It’s no different when it comes to having natural hair or having it chemically straightened with relaxers.

When I first started on my natural hair journey, I was like a sponge. I reached out to fellow naturalista’s and asked questions about their journey, what natural products did they use on their hair, etc. I was so excited and eager! Then I talked to those who were once natural but went back to the creamy crack, and it broke my heart. I couldn’t understand how that could happen because being natural is healthier, it’s liberating, it’s part of our culture. It’s the best thing ever…right? Well, that’s how I felt, and still feel. Fast forward a few years and I’ve come to realize, and respect, that not everyone falls in love with their natural hair. Natural hair is truly a struggle for some women.

For some, natural hair isn’t convenient because of the time it takes to care for and style it. It can also be expensive because of the plethora of products available in stores and on line for you to try, which can easily turn you into a product junkie. Others get disappointed when they can’t achieve the curly hair that they see promoted in advertising. I’ve also heard many times “My hair doesn’t act right natural.” There can be so many reasons why their hair doesn’t act right such as not having a healthy diet, not having a consistent hair care routine, or using products containing harsh chemicals. Maybe they aren’t keeping their hair properly moisturized. Whatever the reason, it’s making some women give up on their natural hair and go back to the creamy crack.

Hair relaxers were coined ‘creamy crack’ for a reason. It’s lure is powerful, and all it takes is one experience to become addicted. It offers convenience and versatility. You can apply it yourself or go to the beauty shop. It’s readily available, and it’s cheap – just like crack cocaine. The “high” that creamy crack offers lasts 3 – 4 weeks, sometimes longer depending on how you feel about having nappy roots (aka new growth). As with most drugs, the side effects of hair relaxers are awful: Scalp burns that often cause hair loss or permanent hair loss, breakage, and exposure to chemicals and toxins that get absorbed through our scalp and into our bodies that can cause a myriad of health issues. Despite the many cons of using hair relaxers, it’s still addictive and you come to depend on it, just like crack cocaine. I have firsthand knowledge since I was a hair relaxer addict for over 24 years.

In the end, I can understand why some do go back to the creamy crack. I have several friends who have big chopped many times, gone back to the creamy crack several times, all for various reasons. At the end of the day, we all have to do what is best for ourselves. But, knowing what I know now about chemical relaxers, and having watched Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, there’s no way I’ll go back to creamy crack. We’ve broken up for good.


Stretched & Straightened Hair


This has been one of the most humid summers to date in my neck of the woods. I took down my micro braids in early June and it’s been a challenge finding ways to to style and protect my natural hair. The majority of the time I let my afro flow freely. However…I also found it more difficult to deal with my hair in it’s constant shrunken state. I would plait my hair, tie it up, and it would be stretched, but by the time I made it to work, some serious shrinkage have already taken place.

I’ve done heatless stretching on my hair by doing the banding method or braiding or plaiting my hair and it worked just fine…during the winter months without any humidity. It’s summer now and I wanted something that would take less time and last a little longer in this humid weather. As my family and I were preparing to go out of town a few weeks ago, I decided to straighten my hair with a straightening brush.

Straightening brush

Most straightening brushes look similar to this one pictured above, including mine. I only wanted to loosen my tight curls, not get it bone straight, so I only ran the brush through my hair twice at a 400 heat setting. I figured that after shrinkage took place, it still would be easier to deal with, and I was right. About two weeks later I used the brush again. At night I would plait up my hair in medium sized plaits and tie it up. In the morning I take them down and finger comb and go.

What also helps me in the stretching process is castor oil or Blue Magic hair grease. I have thick, coarse hair, so I need those heavier oils. The only thing is when using oil or grease, you need to be more diligent about washing your hair. Make sure you use a clarifying shampoo to help clear away any and all buildup.

In the photos below you see my hair after having used the brush, but significant shrinkage has also taken place. Despite the shrinkage, my hair has been more manageable. I know constant use of heat is not good for your hair, and I’m not going to use the straightening brush again for a while, but it’s a nice option to have when you want to do something different. Or when you’re simply trying to fight the heat and humidity. And since I hadn’t stretched or straightened my hair in quite some time, it was nice to see my growth progress.

stretched hair

Be Encouraged


Be encouraged

I don’t have all the answers. I’m still learning and I’m over four plus years into my natural hair journey. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about protective styling – those who are against braids/weaves/wigs, and those who are for them. I’m very pro-braids and protective styling, as I sit here with micro braids in my hair now. But I do agree that overuse of braids/weaves/wigs can be very detrimental to your hair and should be used sparingly. What I don’t like is the negative bashing toward those who do like to use protective styles.

There have been many conversations about wash and go’s and how they can be done on 4c hair. I’m not disputing that at all. I did wash and go’s when I big chopped and barely had an inch of hair on my head. That was super easy to do! My hair isn’t what I’d consider to be long right now, but it’s long enough to become time consuming. Wash and go’s also entail the use the several products for them to work such as leave in conditioners, moisturizers, and some type of gel. All of those things cause flaking and white residue in my thick, coarse, 4c hair. From what everyone says, you have to find the right combination of products for a wash and go to work. There’s my red flag. I don’t want to have to buy a bunch of products to have a style that will only last a day and a half for me, or at the worst, leave a flaky residue in my hair. I’m not a product junkie, but trying to achieve the perfect wash and go will definitely turn me into one.

I’ve set a personal goal for myself to stop being lazy and to do a better job at keeping my hair moisturized and well conditioned. I think if I start there, the rest (healthiness and growth) will follow. The thought of doing another big chop have crossed my mind, but we’ll see. I’m not quite ready to give up on my hair. I’m saying all of this to say that I read a lot about natural hair because I love reading other women’s experiences, struggles and triumphs. But we all have to remember that what works for one person may not work for you. Many of us wear protective styles out of necessity or convenience. Not everyone have time in the morning to do a wash and go, and quite frankly, not everyone wants to – and that’s okay.

Reading some of these blogs will have you feeling like the world’s laziest, loser, slacker natural. No one should feel that way. Recognize where you need to make improvements and then make them. My laziness towards my hair resulted in bald spots and breakage, and it’s been well documented in this blog. Now I’m investing more time in my hair. I’m paying closer attention to leave in conditioners, good deep conditioners, and protein treatments. And I’m still looking for good DIY ideas so I can keep my coins in my pockets.  😉 Be encouraged and keep learning. Give your hair the TLC it needs so it can thrive and grow.

Breakage Again *Update*


There is a such thing as having too much of a good thing. Initially, I assumed my breakage was due to not protective styling, too much combing, etc. After really thinking about what I’ve been doing to my hair, I figured it out. Too much caffeine in my homemade sage tea rinses. I didn’t do my tea rinses on every wash day. More like every other. But where I messed up is I made my tea too strong which dried out my hair and made it brittle and break off in the back. Caffeine is drying to your hair, something that never crossed my mind. Please learn from my mistake my lovelies. Do everything in moderation. Including tea rinses. They shouldn’t be very strong teas, and you shouldn’t do them too often.

I took the scissors and cut as much as the damaged ends off as I could. Yes my hair is uneven and shorter on one side of my head, but I don’t care about that at the moment. My main concern is getting my hair back healthy and keeping it moisturized. At the moment my hair is in micro braids and I’ve had them for about three weeks now and I LOVE them! I haven’t had micro braids in over 15 years! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.


Sonya March 24

Protective Styling – It’s Not That Hard!


So why have I been making it so hard? Or am I just lazy/content with what I’ve been doing thus far? I think it’s the latter. Lately, I’ve been seriously thinking about other ways to protective style that will not hurt my pocket book so much. (I just showed my age saying pocket book LOL!)  I LOVE going to the shop and getting my hair braided, however that’s not always financially feasible. Braids are a wonderful investment that you can get two – three months out of, especially when you find a great hair braider. Crochet braids only last for a few weeks (depending on style and type of hair you use) and then you have to take them down.

In the meantime, I’ve gotten myself into the bad habit of twisting or plaiting my hair and then taking it down the next day to wear a curly fro, then retwisting or plaiting to do it all over again night after night. Well, I’m noticing split ends and extra shedding. Not good. The shedding and split ends aren’t just because of over manipulation. It’s also because I haven’t been tucking my hair away this winter. The cold, harsh winter air has my hair dry and brittle. To be more loving and gentler to my hair, I’ve set a new goal for myself, inspired by fellow Naturalista’s on Facebook. My goal is to leave my hair in a protective style for a week and to keep doing it every week until it becomes a habit. I think this is a great goal for people like myself who desperately need to leave their hair alone.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany. Not only am I going to invest in more colorful scarves so I can wrap my hair in different styles, I’m going to also invest in a WIG! And not just any ole’ wig, I want a good wig that looks like my natural hair. I’ll admit that I’ve been resistant towards wigs for quite some time. I’ve never worn one in my entire life except for a talent show. I’ve always felt that I wouldn’t look right in them. But I’ve now had a change of heart and I’m ready to rock a wig! Maybe it’s because I’m in my 40’s and I no longer care about what other people think. Regardless of the reason, I’m here for them. I’m here for wigs! yaaasssss

Until I get my wig and more colorful scarves, here’s what I’m rocking today to keep my plaits in my hair:

Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses, hat and closeup

Come through, hat! 😉