All posts by naturalfantastic

Embrace your unique beauty before it’s too late

Discover your unique beauty all we will end up all looking alike.
Avoid looking like everyone else, be unique

The thought of many women going through life never discovering their unique beauty is sad. More and more of us are discovering our natural hair, but this only re-emerged in recent years. There are women who have gone their whole lives, from early childhood using relaxers or covering their natural hair constantly with weaves or wigs.  Many of the older women in my family have gone natural, not necessarily because they decided to embrace their natural hair but because they were forced to. However,  they are happy  they did and have vowed to never return to relaxers.  As we age our hair naturally thins, in particular after menopause.  Hence we see older women in the black community reliant on wigs due to thinning hair. The use of perms is likely to accelerate this process, especially if they are used for decades. Some women at this stage go natural to minimise the risk of baldness or a non-existent hairline.

The only regret I had when I went natural was that I didn’t do it sooner, or remained natural since birth! My confidence or self-esteem growing up would have been greater or at least the same (with everything else being equal) as most of the girls of different races in school, who enjoyed healthy long hair. Embracing my natural hair would have allowed me to see my unique beauty, neither superior nor inferior to other standards of beauty, but just what made me unique.

Lupita
Lupita Nyong’o

If we pursue a European standard of beauty our whole lives and adopt terminology such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ hair, spend more time caring for a weave, than we do our real hair, we may go through life looking like a carbon copy of someone else. On my travels and at home I have had people of different races compliment me on my hair and ask me about it. Some ask if it is real or how I get my hair the way it is. When I say it is my natural hair, they seemed to have a ‘ah ha’ moment, realizing that this is what African hair looks like. It’s hard to believe, but many still do not have a clue what Afro-textured hair looks like and its unique features.  In fact, Afro-textured hair is one of the most distinctive hair types and it varies greatly from person to person. No other race of people has hair like ours, yet many end up overwhelmed by its differences and suppress them in order to conform it to what is popular or deemed acceptable in their eyes.

Mahogany Curls
Mahogany Curls

Can you imagine if popular hair vloggers such as; Naptural85, Hair Crush or Mahogany Curls never went natural? or constantly hid their natural hair under weaves and wigs. They wouldn’t be enjoying the healthy, versatile, long and luscious natural hair they showcase today, on their YouTube Channels and in social media. They also wouldn’t have the numerous business opportunities they have benefitted from.  They would simply blend in with every other black woman who has a perm or weave. Natural hair not only affects the way we look and view ourselves, it also creates opportunities for us to build and support black own businesses  in the hair and beauty industry and beyond. It has allowed us to become producers rather than consumers. Since we spend the most in this industry, it’s only right that we begin to profit from it, on a much larger scale.

Of course if you are perfectly happy with relaxed hair  or weaves that’s your personal decision. However, many of us – if not the majority – have experienced damage from relaxers and hair that didn’t grow past a certain point. I believe chemical relaxers are the reason for the stereotype about black woman, not being able to grow long hair.  If you are on a health journey and want to avoid chemicals, don’t wait until your hair starts thinning due to age. Do it now while your hair is at its best, to enjoy and experience in all its glory.

~Be unique, be you~

Solange
Solange

What are your thoughts on this? Do weaves and perms prevent us from discovering our unique beauty? Please share below in the comments section.

Maintaining your styles at night

Natural hair is so versatile, there are many new styles and techniques to try. The most popular styles of course are braid outs, twists outs, perm rod sets, flexi rods sets or bantu knot outs to name a few. However, when you try these styles for the first time, you may not know how to maintain them, especially when you go to bed. During the relaxed hair days most of us were used to wrapping our hair at night, but this will not work for curly or kinky natural hair.  Here are some methods for maintaining your hair at night.

satin bonnet

Re-twisting/braiding

Some women prefer to simply re-twist or re-braid their hair at night, all over again, for maintaining twist/braid outs. This is done on dry hair and you don’t necessarily have to reapply product, so it is usually quicker than the initial styling.

Pros: it is the most effective way to maintain definition and you can continue to wear a braid/twist out for the entire week. Other methods on the other hand may only maintain definition for couple of days.  You could also get away with simply doing four or five twists in the front rather than the whole head. This will make your style look as good as new, as the less defined hair in the back will not be noticeable.

Cons: very time-consuming, especially if you’ve had a long day and simply want to get into bed. The existing curl pattern may interfere with the new twists or braids, making the hair harder to shape as desired.

Bunning

This is simply putting your hair into a loose low bun. Just put your hair in a ponytail and twist the rest of the hair into a bun, following the general direction of the curls.

Pros: It is the quickest method and doesn’t require you to delay going to bed in order to re-style.  It also works to stretch the hair, giving you more length and combating shrinkage. Some women even prefer their second day hair as it is more stretched and fuller after bunning their hair at night.

Cons: It may stretch the hair so much, that it soon loses definition. If definition is important to you, you may have to redo the hair after a couple of days.

Pin curls

This method works well for maintaining bantu knot outs or hair that has been straightened. Check out this method.

Pros: a great way to create elongated waves when you have straightened hair. Less time-consuming than redoing bantu knots.

Cons: may not be suitable for maintaining twist outs and braid outs. Requires  the use of a lot of bobbi pins.

Pineapple

Putting your hair into a high, loose ponytail and sleeping on a satin pillowcase or wrapping a satin scarf around your edges.

Pros: can be used for maintaining wash and gos, twist outs, braid outs and flexi rod sets. Preserves the curls by keeping them up high on your head, so you don’t lay and rub on them as you sleep. You can simply sleep on a satin pillowcase and avoid wearing a scarf or bonnet. This method may also help to stretch the hair.

Cons: may not be suitable for type 4 kinky hair, which, has a tendency to adopt whatever shape it has been put into overnight.   When I try this method, my hair tends to stick up, and I have to spend time getting my hair to fall how I like it to.   Type 4 hair also shrinks more. Shrunken hair may be harder to put into a pineapple and even harder to take down. It does not stretch the hair as well as the bunning method.

Jumbo braids/twists

Re-twisting or braiding the hair in large sections, usually 3 or 4 twists or braids.

Pros: a much quicker method that allows you to get into bed sooner.  The general shape and pattern of the curls are maintained.

Cons: not as thorough as re-braiding in smaller sections. More curl definition will be lost by the end of the week, compared to when the hair is re-twisted/braided in smaller sections.

Sleeping on a satin pillow case

This is simply forgetting the satin scarf or bonnet, no re-twisting,  just leaving your hair out and sleeping on a satin pillowcase.

Pros: you can go to bed looking your best, which, may not always be the case when you have to wear a satin scarf. Plus, the satin pillowcase works just as well as a scarf, in preserving the moisture of your hair. You can also go straight to bed, no time-consuming hair maintenance before sleeping.

I’ve tried this myself with a flex-rod set and surprisingly, my hair looked great for the next couple of days. However, I did at least pin the front of my hair away from my face. This may also give your hair more volume, rather than making your hair appear flat, as satin scarves tend to do.

Cons: your hair is left to its own devices during the night, so you may wake up with untameable, messy hair in the morning.

The best method for me is the bunning method and re-twisting/braiding in large sections for braid outs and twist outs. I sometimes use the pineapple method for twist outs, braid outs and flexi-rod sets, but never for wash and gos, it simply doesn’t work as well.  Check out how I maintain my wash and gos by clicking here.

How do you maintain your hair at night? Please share your ideas below.

 

 

Newly Natural and Overwhelmed

When I first went natural there was not as much information online as there is today. Now there are endless numbers of blogs and video tutorials to help you on your journey. There are also numerous products on the market to choose from. All you have to do is Google what you are looking for and you will find a wealth of information from various sources, on natural hair. As much as this is a blessing there is also a downside, information overload!

newly natural

One of the problems new naturals experience, is the complexity of everything now. When I first went natural, things were simpler. Most of the videos on YouTube were from vloggers who were just starting out on their journey, or only a couple of years ahead of me. Now, these same vloggers have been natural for 5 to 8 years and have waist to hip length hair.  Their tutorials have become much more advanced and professional. They work with various cosmetics companies and are always introducing new products. It can all be too much to keep up with. So, here are a few ideas to help you along your way as a new natural to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

1. Start off with the basics when it comes to products

Stick with what you are familiar with, unless it is particularly harmful.  You do not necessarily have to throw out your product collection straight away. Many of us were still using products with petroleum and mineral oil during the early stages of going natural. As your knowledge increases about natural products and ingredients you can gradually eliminate the bad stuff. Also, if you purchase some shea butter or coconut oil, you are halfway there. When I had a TWA (teeny-weeny afro), I simply sprayed my hair with water and glycerine to moisturize and bring out my natural curl pattern. That was all I needed, as well as a little oil or shea butter for sealing or smoothing my edges.

 2. Focus on developing good techniques

I always stress; it is not the products that bring out the best in your hair but your techniques.  Find the best hair regimen for you, which will include: washing, detangling, moisturizing, deep conditioning and styling.  If you have a TWA, detangling will not take long at all. As your hair grows you will need to find a technique that suits your hair type and lifestyle.  Finger detangling is considered gentler on the hair, especially if you have a kinky hair texture.  You can detangle in the shower on wet hair, or on dry hair, using a little oil.  Detangling in the shower on wet hair is usually quicker.  You will gradually do what comes natural to you.  Do not try to follow your favourite hair vlogger’s regimen to the letter, instead take some ideas and adapt them for your hair.

 3. Adapt hair tutorials to suit your hair length

If your favourite vloggers have waist length hair don’t be discouraged.  They are simply showing you what you have to look forward to.  It is still possible to adapt their styles to suit your hair length though. You may need to braid or twist your hair in more sections and use a lot more pins, but it may still be possible to achieve your own version of the style. Take inspiration from them but don’t be down on yourself for not being at the same stage as them. Remember they were once newly natural too, with a TWA or short to medium length hair.

Fusion of Cultures
Complicated Styles

 4. Don’t compare yourselves to others

If you have been natural for a year or two you may notice that some naturals have hair that grows at an alarming rate, or their hair may seem easier to manage.   Afro textured hair is the most unique hair in the world and is extremely diverse.  Without the regular use of harsh chemicals, your hair is likely to reach new lengths, never experienced before. Remember that most people’s hair grows between 2 to 6 years before the strands fall out and begin a new cycle. Even with the shortest growth cycle, the hair can still reach 12 inches, which is usually bra strap length. Hair care experts believe there is no reason why a person should not reach at least armpit length, with good hair care practices. So you may not have waist length hair in 3 years but you may reach the longest length your hair has ever been.

 5. Find vloggers who have a similar hair type to your own

It’s great to watch a variety of hair vloggers, whatever their hair type you can find inspiration. However, also include those whose hair is similar to your own. It is quite encouraging to see them demonstrate styles that are likely to work well on your hair and also to share the struggles that you face with your hair type.  No two people’s hair is exactly the same but seeing a vlogger with a similar hair type to your own may help you learn more.

Mahogany Culrs back when she had her TWA.
Mahogany Curls back when she had her TWA.

6. Go through the archives

Many of the popular YouTube channels and natural hair blogs have been running for years now. Gone are the webcam videos, poor lighting and little to no editing. Now the same channels have become glossier, and the skills demonstrated by such vloggers are a lot more advanced. However, for a newly natural, such videos may seem too complicated for a beginner.  Simply click on the YouTube channel and go to the videos or uploads section, click oldest to newest and it will flip their videos around to the very first ones. You will see vloggers with waist length hair back when they had a simple TWA, shea butter and a spray bottle of water. These are the videos that will teach you the basics. Do the same with hair blogs, click on the old articles from the very beginning or search for specific topics using the search tool on their page.

 7. Watch flat twisting, two strand twists and cornrow tutorials

Knowing how to cornrow or flat twist is invaluable for women with natural hair. You can get as creative as you want or simply put your hair into a basic protective style any time.  There are plenty of tutorials on this. Before you know it you could be helping your friends and relatives do their hair or even make some extra money from doing it. Most importantly you will have even more styling options and enjoy more versatility with your natural hair. I learned how to cornrow my own hair by simply watching styling tutorials for children’s’ hair.

cornrows (3)

 8. Find simple styles that you can do easily

Check out the series: The Versatility of Natural Hair for styling ideas. Find styles that are attainable with your hair length or adaptable to your hair. Roll tuck and pins are simple protective styles that are easy to do. Whenever I’m in doubt, I simply put my hair in a puff. When your hair is short it can be simple to style, especially if you embrace your natural curl pattern.   Simply spray your hair with water and glycerine, or water and aloe vera for shine and moisture.  Some people like to do twist outs, braid outs, flat twists and coil outs on short to medium length hair. These styles can be time consuming on short hair but you may prefer to do them for versatility.  Play around with accessories as well. A sparkly head band may be all you need to dress up a TWA.

 9. Stay natural

In time you will reap the benefits of looking after your hair. Avoid using texturisers in an attempt to ‘soften your hair’. These are no different from relaxers.  If you stay natural you will find that it was well worth it. Your natural hair simply displays more of your natural beauty. You can’t put a price on that!

What advice would you give to new naturals? If you have any specific questions as a new natural, please ask below?

 

 

 

 

Six Benefits of Two Strand Twists

Two strand twists are a staple style in the natural hair community and can be suitable for different hair lengths. Here are the benefits I have found by regularly styling my hair in this way. Putting your hair in two strand twists does not have to result in you looking like Celie in the color purple, or looking like a school girl. They can be both glamorous as well as practical. Here are six benefits:

Nikkimae's thick two strand twists.
Nikkimae’s chunky two strand twists.

Two strand twists are a great protective style

Styling your hair in this way is basically putting it away. There’s not much manipulation (if any) required, once this style is complete. Two strand twists are an excellent style for meeting your hair growth goals. It is very satisfying to see how much length has been retained once the twists are taken down. Even if you decide to wear your twists down, rather than pinning them up into an updo, you will at least be using a low manipulation style. Tucking your ends away will fully protect them and lead to even more length retention.

They are convenient

Although the initial installation of the twists can be time consuming, two strand twists save you time in the mornings. If you have a busy lifestyle and don’t have time to be styling your hair regularly, try two strand twists.  If done with the best method, they can last at least two weeks. They also work well for people who work out regularly as they hold up pretty well compared to styles that involve maintaining curls such as braid outs or twist outs.  When they start to look a little messy you can easily redo the front twists, rather than taking them all out and starting from scratch. They are also a practical style to do when going on holiday.

It is easier to moisturize your hair in two strand twists

To moisturize, simply spray lightly with water or a leave in conditioner and seal with a natural oil. Your hair is completely accessible with twists and you don’t have to worry about ruining the style. With other protective styles such as weaves and glued on wigs, your hair simply isn’t accessible. Any slight moisture with a twist-out can cause frizz and compromise the longevity of the style. This is not the case with two strand twists. Any frizz created is nothing that some water, aloe vera juice and a satin scarf couldn’t fix.

Two strand twists are very versatile

While your hair is in two strand twists, you can still enjoy many styles. They can be causal, formal,  intricate and original. Leave the twists down or pin them up into an updo. Combine the twists with flat twists or install them loosely for volume. They can be done large, medium or small, depending on your preference and how long you want to spend installing them. I enjoy wearing my twists in a bun, using a sock bun or pinning them to the side to create a low side ponytail. You can also try different decorative accessories, like flower clips and stylist head bands. Here are just some variations of two strand twists you can try.

  • Loose two strand twists
Loose two strand twists.
Loose two strand twists.

  • Twisted side bun 

This is one of my favourite two strand twist styles. I like to accessorize it with a large flower clip.  I also adapted this style to create a low side jumbo braid.

  • Intricate updos
Updo
Updo

They create a great twist-out at the end of the week

If you have an event to go to, simply take them out gently and you will have a great twist-out. Smaller twists create more definition and larger ones more volume. You could leave your twists in during the week then take them down for the weekend. They don’t have to stop you from enjoying your hair, quite the opposite in fact.

They are relatively easy to maintain

As mentioned before, If your twists start to look messy, simply redo the front ones that are visible. If you want to redo the whole head you can use your existing twists as a template.   Re-twisting your existing twists saves you time sectioning and parting your hair all over again. You can extend the life of the style for as long as you choose to, or until your next wash day. Some people even wash their hair in the twists and simply re-twist.  This is likely to reduce knots and tangles and make the hair easier to manage during washing.

Here are a few quick tips for maintaining your twists.

  • Keep your edges neat by spraying them lightly with water and putting your satin scarf on firmly. After 10-15 minutes your edges should be laid flat and neat.
  • Use aloe vera juice to banish frizz. The Ph level of aloe vera causes the hair cuticles to lay flat on contact. The result is less frizz and more shine. You can use aloe vera gel on your edges or lightly spray the juice all over your twists.
  • Use a rat-tail comb to part your hair neatly when installing the twists. This will help them appear neat for longer.
  • It is easier to install them on stretched hair as well, especially if you want length. You can stretch your hair using a blow dryer (try the tension method) or a heatless method.
  • If your twists start to shrink and you want your length back, wrap your twists at night. This is done in the same way relaxed hair is wrapped. Take a few twist at a time and wrap them in one direction around your head and pin down.
Two strand twists put into a high bun
My two strand twists, put into a high bun

Do you wear two strand twists? Share your styling tips below.

Another Celeb Showcases their Natural Hair

Porsha Williams is yet another celebrity to reveal what’s underneath their weave, on Instagram. The Dish Nation and Real Housewives star took a quick selfie with her natural hair, just before installing her trademark waist length weave, captioning it: “Natural for 2.5 sections”. Many commented rightly on how beautiful her hair was and even how healthy her edges looked.  It does make me wonder why many celebrities continue to cover their natural tresses with weaves or wigs of a completely different hair texture. Perhaps their natural afro-textured hair isn’t considered glamorous enough for their world.

image (3)
Porsha recently posted this picture on Instagram

Many claim it is simply to ‘protect’ their hair. I understand that weaves and wigs can be a great protective style, and celebrities often manipulate their hair for events, photo shoots etc. However, too much of anything is never good and we have seen the effects of perpetual weaving from such celebrities as Naomi Campbell, Countess Vaughn and Tamar Braxton. The thinning of the hairline or hair in general, can often result, especially if they use chemicals as well. Maybe this is why such celebs take the ‘ real hair’ selfies, to prove that not all of them are balding under their weaves, and they could rock their natural hair if they wanted to. So why don’t they, ever? Of course a person can do whatever they want with their hair, and asking such questions runs the risk of being called a ‘natural hair Nazi’. However I have previously pointed out the benefits of not being over reliant on weaves and wigs and I stand by this.

Tamar Braxton
Tamar Braxton

Porsha currently has her own online business selling weaves called Go Naked Hair – ironically, truly ‘going naked’ would perhaps be to take the weave off – so she obviously has a vested interest in wearing and promoting weaves. Most people would kill to know where their favorite celebrities obtained their weaves! The point is, she is getting paid to wear weaves (it’s her business) and present a certain image of herself.  So it’s understandable why she prefers weaves to her natural hair. Many in the entertainment industry such as Beyoncé and Rihanna are getting paid to dress and present themselves a certain way.

Nikki Minaj may not have received as much attention or been considered controversial had she not worn those elaborate, multi-colored weaves for years. Her real hair also appears to be long and healthy but was never seen until her ‘real hair’ selfie. I hope we can teach our young girls to consider this and not be heavily influenced by pop culture, especially when it comes to their appearance. I’m seeing girls younger and younger with waist length Kim Kardashian-esque weaves. Unfortunately, some of us end up looking like we are in costumes every day, emulating celebrities who wear such weaves to perform in shows and on TV.

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj

Porsha’s hair looked beautiful, and many accredited it to using the weave as a protective style. It appears to be natural as well. Some celebs use the term ‘natural hair’ when they are showcasing their chemically straightened hair, but that’s another debate entirely.  There are women in the entertainment industry who wear their hair natural, Janelle Monroe, Solange Knowles and Esperanza Spalding for instance. Occasionally we see some of them wear wigs or weaves, including those which match their natural hair texture, but their natural hair is their trademark style. This dispels the myth that we need to rely on weaves to protect our hair, women of other races do not have to do this. It seems to be more to do with image than protective styling.  It would be a shame if a person went most of their adult life, never experiencing their natural hair, other than for ‘2.5 seconds’ just before installing yet another weave. Especially when their natural hair is so beautiful.

Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding

What do you think of these ‘real hair’ selfies? Share your thoughts below.