Un-Natural Hair Obsessions

A natural hair journey can be filled with excitement and intrigue but it is not without its downside.  Damage, breakage and other set-backs can yield some strange obsessions on our pursuit of healthy hair.

I have heard of women taking so much Biotin to get their hair to grow that it caused the “biotin beard” horrible facial breakout of pimples/zits. Check out this story from Lola’s Green Hair.

Or those who used Mane Tail Groom, a product designed for horses in an effort to strengthen their hair.  See this post from Quest for the Perfect Curl.

Then there are those who “hibernate” their hair under protective style for months for fear that if their ends are “out ” it can cause hair suicide. Follow Tola’s 6 month protective style journey here.

As for me, I am terrified of heat damage.  Because of this fear I only straighten my hair twice a year and I will only allow 1 heating element to be used in the process; either a flat iron or a blow dryer but not both.  The irony in this is that for the first 6 months of my transition I straightened my hair regularly and saw no ill effects. 

Yes, this quest for longer, stronger, healthier hair can cause us to do some crazy things.  What un-natural hair obsessions do you suffer from?

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Bantu By Brokey

This post is dedicated to my curlfriend Brokey McPoverty, Queen of the Bantu Knots.  I cannot post a picture of her without someone asking,”how did she do that to her hair?” well wait no further I have the scoop straight from the source.

Bantu knots are a traditional African style, named after the Bantu people (which is a general term for several ethnic groups living in Southern Africa) who wore their hair this way.  Historically the way you arraigned and adorned your hair was a way to communicate, marital status, class, occupation or even feelings.  This style is very simple to do but can also be carved into intricate complex designs.  It can be done on all hair types from tightly coiled to stick straight to locs.

bantu knots

Basic Bantu Knots:  To make a bantu knot grab a section of hair and begin twisting in one direction.  The twist will begin to twist back upon itself at the root. Wrap the twist around itself to form a knot.  Secure by wrapping the ends around the base.  If the knot will not stay twisted secure with a hair pin or elastic.

Twisted Batu Knots: Same process as the basic except you two-strand twist the section of hair then you wrap around to create the knot.

Bantu knots can be worn as an ornate style on their own but can also be used as a way to set the hair and released for a knot-out look.  Knot-outs result in large voluminous loosely curled style that can be made fuller by further separating.  This is the look Brokey is known for. 

Brokey is on the left.

This style can be done on wet or dry hair using hold gel or curl cream; it all depends on your hair type.  Those with straighter hair may want to do this style on wet hair using gel to help hold the knots in place and set the style. Those with tightly curly hair may want to do this style on stretched or blowdried hair using a curl cream to help uniformly set the knots.

Knots can be done on any size plaits and twisted in any direction.  Smaller knots will yield a tighter curl, while larger knots will produce a looser curl.  You can also vary the size of the knots on your hair for a more textured look.  The knots can be twisted in either direction however the direction they are twisted will determine the way it falls so be mindful of that.

Brokey’s method:

1.  Start with stretched hair.  She stretches her hair by braiding it after washing/conditioning and allow it to dry.

2.  Section off your hair.  This just makes quick work of the knotting process if you section beforehand.

3.  Detangle lightly with conditioner, if necessary.

4. Apply a shine serum (optional) like Natural Shine Polish by JustNatural Organics

5.  Apply twisting or hold cream like darcy’s botanicals avocado and honey twisting cream.

6.  Twist and knot.

7.  Allow hair to dry completely.  Tie hair with satin scarf if going to sleep.

8.  When hair is COMPLETELY DRY, unknot and separate.  If your hair is not completely dry it will result in puffy bushy hair.  Use an oil or pomade on your fingers to smooth the hair like darcy’s botanicals coconut butter styling pomade.

9.  Fluff the roots.  This will help eliminate any odd parting.  Insert a comb or pick at the roots and gently shake and lift.

10.  Accessorize at will.  Add a scarf, clip, headband or flower to give extra life to your style.

Bantu knot-out with scarf.

To read Brokey’s complete post go here: http://brokeymcpoverty.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/at-last-the-dry-bantu-knot-out-post/

Video instructions on bantu knots:

Bantu Knots on Short Natural Hair http://youtu.be/KT9J12bkHv0

Bantu Knots on Transitioning Hair http://youtu.be/V-H99ut2mLk

Bantu Knots on Straight Hair http://youtu.be/bHAqqbvySOg

Bantu Knots on Locs http://youtu.be/59rTerjbcp8

Product Review: Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade

Oyin Handmade

http://oyinhandmade.com/

Burnt Sugar Hair Pomade

4 oz, $10 or 8 oz, $16

 

 

I picked up a sample size of this from a product swap.  I am not a regular pomade user so I was not hunting for it, however I am a fan of other products made by the manufacturer so I wanted to try it out.  The product smells delightfully sweet and delicious like caramel frosting, very tempting to try a taste (lol).  The product is made of vegetable oils, butters and waxes that nourish, soften hair while imparting a light shine.

I used the product to slick back the edges of my hair while transforming an old twist-out into a puff.  I also used a little on my sons hair to create some nice waves.

5 Things I Liked:

  1. The pomade is non-sticky or gummy.  While firm in the container it is soft enough to scoop out with a fingertip and glides on smooth without leaving a film on your finger.
  2. It did a great job of slicking back my edges with minimal effort or brushing.  Unlike gel it does not leave my hair crunchy and hard.
  3. It imparts a subtle shine and softness without the greasy look/feel.
  4. A little bit goes a long way.  I used less than a dime-sized amount by just dipping my fingertip in and that was enough for my entire hair line front and back.
  5. It a nice natural product that contains no questionable additives.

A co-worker of mine with loose curly hair who wears her hair flat-ironed came to me looking for something to help tame her fine hair fly-aways that was non-greasy and didn’t make her hair hard or sticky.  I [begrudgingly] brought in the Oyin Burnt Sugar Pomade I scored just a week earlier (quietly hoping she would hate it).  She immediately opened the jar, slid a little on her hair and fell in love *sigh*.  I let her keep the product as it was the answer to her prayers.  Interestingly enough I gave her the sample size back in January and she is still using it.

How to Blow Out Your Natural Hair

By request, below is my old routine for doing a blow-out on natural hair.  I only straighten my hair a couple times, but you can do it as often as you like.  I use a blow-out regimen that involves stretching and air drying the hair which allows for less potential of heat damage due to using minimal amount of heat.

1. Wash, condition, detangle and deep condition hair.

2. Apply silicone based heat protectant, I have no real favorites any brand will do.  Silicone coats the hair protecting it from heat styling and humidity in the air.  If you are CG or wanting to use natural products then use grapeseed oil which has a very high smoke point so it is safer than other oils such as olive or coconut.  You can also use a shea butter mix as a protectant.

3. Braid hair into 6-8 plaits and allow to air dry.  This will stretch the hair.

4. When hair is about 75 -80% dry, take down each plait one at a time and blowdry each section in the DOWNWARD direction.  You should blowdry using either a comb attachment or using a denman/paddle/round brush to provide tension.  You can use a concentrator nozzle to help make even quicker work of it just be sure to keep the dryer moving and do not leave in one place for more than a few seconds.

It is the TENSION, NOT THE HEAT that elongates the curl pattern.  Because the hair is mostly dry you should be able to blowdry on low to medium heat and still yield straight results in no time.  If you choose to use high heat do so sparingly as not to fry your hair.  Before finishing each section be sure to use the “cool” button to go over the area.

This blowdrying method alone does not yield bone-straight results, but it works for me. If you are going for a bone straight look you can follow with a flat iron.  Remember that when using silicone product you will need to use a sulfate shampoo to properly cleanse your hair.

It takes some practice to get the technique down but you can do it! Else you can go to a salon and have it done relatively inexpensively. For an even better deal, visit your local hair school.