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!
Full disclosure: This isn’t a how-to post for wash and go’s. I haven’t done a wash and go since I big chopped four years ago. However, last week, at the very last minute, I decided to wash my hair before I went to work. Literally, I laid in bed for like a half hour debating on whether or not to wash it now or later in the evening. The chances were very slim that I’d want to wash it after dinner or before I went to bed, so finally, I decided to get up and get it over with. I hopped in the shower, cleaned my body and then commenced to washing my hair.
I towel dried my hair as best I could, detangled, did the LOC method (Leave in conditioner, oil, and a cream) and put in two flat twists – one on each side of my head. Okay, I’m gonna be honest here – my flat twists were more like struggle twists, lol! They were not pretty at all, so I wrapped my hair with a head wrap and off to work I went.
My takeaway from this experience is that wash and go’s can be done. I had so many excuses as to why I couldn’t wash my hair in the morning before going to work. “It’s too much work. I won’t have time to style. Who has time for all of that? Wash and go’s won’t work on my 4c hair.” I only thought that way because I was thinking of wash and go’s in the typical sense where you’re using various products, techniques, and lots of time to achieve the perfect coils so you can wear your hair out. That’s not the only way you can do a wash and go, but it is the most promoted way of doing a wash and go among naturalistas. I forgot that you can do a wash and go but instead of wearing your hair out, put some flat twists or braids in your hair and keep it moving.
There are no hard and fast rules for wash and go’s. You simply have to make your own version of it. Do what works for you.
Here’s a photo of me with my head wrapped wash and go last week:
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!
Until I get my wig and more colorful scarves, here’s what I’m rocking today to keep my plaits in my hair:
Come through, hat! 😉
Hey, lovelies! So a few weeks back I posted a picture of Gabrielle Union with her gorgeous, free flowing twists with the hopes of getting them myself. Well, that didn’t happen. I thought my braider could re-create the look with the same or similar hair used for Gabby’s twists, but that wasn’t the case. I ended up getting my usual Senegalese twists. Yes, I’m totally bummed about that. However, a few lessons (and reminders) were learned from this experience:
- Not every hair braider can do every style you want. Have a backup plan in place, and by backup plan I mean other hair braiders and stylists. It’s ok to shop around and keep an eye out for other talented braiders. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a very loyal customer to my beautician when I was getting relaxers, and I’ve been very loyal to my hair braiders over the years. When I find a good one, I stick with them and follow them wherever they may go…unless they go overseas which is what happened to one of my very talented hair braiders. That’s when the following stops, lol. But seriously, keep this in mind. There are other options out there.
- Braids are not cheap, and every woman who gets them can attest to that. That being said, we pay too much money to not be satisfied with the end product. That’s why it is so important that you find a braider that listens, not one who simply wants your money and gives you what THEY want you to have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. If they can’t recreate a style, are there any alternatives? Perhaps using a different type of hair or technique? If the shop provides the hair and they don’t carry the hair needed to do a certain style, offer to bring your own.
- There is no reason for your hair to be braided so tight until your scalp is in pain for days or weeks afterward. If your hair is constantly being braided tight, even after you tell your braider that it’s too tight, it’s time to look for a different hair braider. Heavy hands and tight braids will leave you bald around the edges and with bald spots throughout your scalp, and that is totally counterproductive (and unacceptable) to having braids in the first place. Braids are used as a protective style to us naturals to preserve what we have and to protect it from the elements and over manipulation. Keep that in mind when getting your hair braided. DO NOT allow a braider to damage your hair and scalp by braiding your hair too tight.
- Don’t be afraid to ask other women who did their braids. Trust me, that’s how I’ve found my hair braiders over the years. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Just the other day at the grocery store, I complimented the cashier on her eyebrows. They were beautifully shaped and her make-up was beautifully done. It looked very natural and it wasn’t caked on. What I loved the most was she was a dark skinned young lady and she used all the right shades of makeup to compliment her beautiful skin tone. Anyway, she thanked me, and before I left with my groceries she handed me her business card. It turns out she’s an African hair braider and cosmetologist! She also has a YouTube channel that I will be checking out soon. But do you get what I’m saying? I now have another option to look into for my braiding and styling needs.
Too often because something is the “norm” we accept it. That should never be the case when it comes to our health, and it should never be the case when it comes to the health of our scalp and hair. Just because braids are typically done tightly doesn’t mean they should be. It also doesn’t mean that we should accept it. Remember, there are other options out there so don’t be afraid to explore them.
It’s been a long time, and I’ve missed you!
Let’s talk HAIR! I’ve been rocking braids for the majority of the spring and summer. Keeping my hair in a protective style (with a few weeks of rest between styles) has produced growth and retention. I don’t fuss with my braids when I have them i.e. putting my braids in buns or constantly pulling them up or back into ponytails. I love my edges and I want to keep them! When I take them down I’m not experiencing a ton of shedding that would have me concerned about breakage, which is awesome.
I just took down a cornrow style that I had for almost two months and I’m just rockin’ my afro at the moment. I plan to have braids installed again next week. My usual braids of choice are Senegalese twists or Kinky twists, but my latest braid-spiration (yes I just made up that word) came from Gabrielle Union. She wore these beautiful twists to the BET Awards about a month ago and I was mesmerized! First of all, they were neatly done, so shout out to her hairdresser/braider, and secondly they flowed as if they were the weight of a feather! What the heck? It was clear that her hair braider didn’t pull her edges tightly at all, and the hair that was used was different from any other hair I’ve seen used for twists.
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Ever since seeing Gabby’s braids (yes I called her Gabby as if we’re friends), I was on a mission to find out what kind of hair was used to accomplish this beautiful, regal look. I asked my hair braider and she told me the name of the hair used, and of course I can’t recall it at the moment, but I text her a picture of Gabby’s braids and told her that I wanted them. I cannot wait!!
Here are some pictures of me in the braids I’ve been rocking since the last time I’ve posted.
I’ve also been keeping my two girls’ hair in braids and their hair is growing and is very healthy as well. Keeping our hair moisturized while we have the braids and deep conditioning is a must after I take our braids down. And remember, be gentle and take your time when taking down your braids so you won’t experience unnecessary breakage.
I’ve kept my products to a minimal, still making my own butters and mixing my own concoctions of oils. I’m in love with my organic mango butter, coconut oil butter that I make that is awesome for your entire body from head to toe. And yes, to have an awesome twist out I will use good ole’ Blue Magic hair grease from time to time, but not often. I’m looking for a new shampoo and conditioner to use and I’ll post about that at a later date. Till next time my lovelies!
I’m coming upon my third year of being natural, and boy have I learned some things! The number one thing I’ve learned is that being a lazy natural is not the business. You will cause yourself a lot of unwanted damage to your hair and grief to yourself. Let me help you not make the same mistakes that I made with some suggestions:
- Do not ignore your ends! Get regular trims or give yourself regular trims. I cannot stress this enough. This was the biggest mistake I’ve made since being natural. DO NOT ignore your ends. Just last night I cut A LOT of damage off of my hair, and I’ve been doing so every so often to try to get rid of the damaged ends – and there’s a lot. I have no one to blame but myself because I did not take heed to a lot of the advice given by other natural’s and professionals.
- You must come up with a regular hair care routine and STICK WITH IT. If you wash your hair once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month, stick to your plan and do not be lazy about it. Moisturize, deep condition, give yourself regular scalp massages. I saw much better results when I started to stick to a regular hair care routine.
- Do not be afraid of trying different protective styles. Braids are not the only protective style out there. Try wigs, crochet wigs, sew ins, etc. There is nothing wrong with braids, but if they are done too tightly then you’re defeating the purpose.
This past year I experienced scalp irritation (unexplained pain and a bald spot, and breakage in one concentrated area) which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It made me more aware of how I was treating my hair and scalp, and I was actually being too rough on it and scratching too much. I began to use a dandruff shampoo to help with my dandruff and itchy scalp issue, and I’ve now included pumpkin seed oil into my hair care regimen.
I’ve bought myself a pair of professional scissors to cut my hair, and I’ve been doing my own trimming. I’ve been gently flat ironing my hair just enough for me to see what my ends looked like, and then I cut. Eventually I will find my way to a professional, but in the mean time I like taking responsibility for my hair whether if it grows or breaks off. I know that may sound crazy, but that’s how I feel. I know my hair is super uneven, and I’m ok with that. I don’t care about uneven hair right now. I care about HEALTH. If there’s one thing about hair, it will always grow back (unless you have a condition like alopecia or some other condition that causes permanent hair loss).
I’ll be honest, I’ve had my freak out moments, moments of self doubt wondering “Should I just cut it all off again and start over?” Matter of fact I thought about cutting off all of my hair and starting all over just last night! I shared that with my husband and he said “You’re overreacting.” He was right. Sort of. 😉 Even though I’m three years in, I have to keep reminding myself that this is a journey. It has it’s highs and lows, but you have to keep going. You have to make the best of whatever situation you’re in. It’s funny to read my earlier blogs from when I first went natural to where I am right now. I was very naïve about some things, but experience is definitely a teacher! Lesson learned.
With the current state of my hair, I’ve decided not to have crochet braids installed. Instead I’m going to focus on getting my hair healthy again. I don’t think the tension and pulling of my hair is the best idea right now. One of the top things on my to-do list is to find a natural hair stylist who can give my hair the full treatment it really needs. If it means cutting off more hair than expected to get rid of the damage, then so be it. Next I have to find a really good moisturizer that is specifically good for the 4c hair that I have. If any of you have any suggestions please let a sista know in the comment section!
I have a funny story to share! Well, I can laugh about it now, but at the time it scared me to death! Last week I dreamed that I went to a shop and got a relaxer put in my hair. *GASP* The horror, right? There was no rhyme or reason for me doing it. All I remember from the dream is looking at myself in the mirror with all this hair on my head that was straightened and styled, and I was so upset because my afro, kinks, and coils were all gone. When I woke up I felt so upset and stressed as if this really happened!
If that dream isn’t proof that I’m in this natural hair journey for the long haul, I don’t know what is. Just as in life, there will be bumps in the road. There will be highs and lows, but they don’t last forever. My hair woes are of my doing, but they are fixable. It’s simply going to take time. So while I won’t be having another protective hairstyle installed just yet, I’m going to work hard at getting my hair healthy again.
Thank you to my fellow naturalista’s who have reached out to me with your encouraging words here on my blog or via Facebook! Thank you for your positivity and support. That is so needed in our community, especially for the newer naturalista’s like myself. Let’s keep encouraging one another and lifting each other up ladies. 🙂