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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

Natural Hair Style: Cornrows

My mama came to town to visit me and my family but I wasn’t going to let her leave without getting her hands in my hair! :)  My mama is the best cornrow-er (yeah I said it) she braids with her fingertips which accounts for tight, neat braiding that doesn’t require pulling or too much tension.

I had her give me an odd number of cornrows with a side part in front.  I chose an odd number so that when i took the braids down to wear my braid-out I would not have a part down the middle of my head that looked like Moses did it (lol).  Below are the pix of the finished braids, the fact that my mama wanted to gel down my “baby hair”, yeah no thanks I will pass.

right side
back view
left side

I wore the braids pulled back into a bun for 5 days.  Each morning I spritzed my hair with Oyin Handmade Greg’s Juice to keep my scalp moisturized.  I used a shower cap while bathing to avoid the braids from swelling.  At night I slept with my Heads Ta-getha! scarf. 

On Friday morning I took the braids down for what should have been an awesome braid-out, but with the rain and humidity it looked more like a stretched wash-n-go. 

braid-out

If you are talented enough to be able to cornrow your own hair or know someone who can cornrow your hair for you I highly advise that you try this style.  For longer, stretched braids after washing and conditioning your hair detangle it and put it into plaits and let it air dry before braiding.

Hair Facts: Elasticity

Hair elasticity is the amount a hair strand will stretch and then return to its beginning length, without breaking. These measurements are classified as high, medium, or low. Usually, a hair strand with medium elasticity will stretch up to half of its length and then return to its original length. A hair strand with low elasticity will stretch up to one third of its length and will often break during this process.  A hair strand with high elasticity will stretch up to double its length, then return to its original length.

Elasticity is important because it is a measure of the tensile strength of your hair. Did you know that a healthy strand of hair can support a 100 gram weight without breaking?  That is the equivalent of 40 pennies being suspended from one single strand of hair.  Elasticity is dependent upon a healthy cortex, a hair shaft that has poor elasticity can break easily with grooming and with product application.

To determine the elasticity of your hair take a few strands of your wet hair from different sections of your head.  One at a time place each end of the strand between your thumb and index finger on each hand and gently pull.  If the hair stretches a bit, then returns to its original length you have medium elasticity.  If it snaps and breaks while stretching, you have low elasticity.  If it stretches a long way, then when released it does not fully return to its original length you have high elasticity.

While your elasticity can change with age, diet, the biggest factor is styling.  Over exposure to heat and chemicals are the leading reasons for low elasticity.

You can improve your hairs elasticity through hair care.

  • If you have low elasticity you hair needs additional moisture.  Avoid using protein-laced products and look into a hydrating hair mask.  If you are looking to achieve elongation or straighter looks try banding or braiding wet hair, allow to dry then release.  This will gently stretch the hair without too much stress or heat.
  • If you have high elasticity your hair needs additional protein.  Step up your protein products.  Avoid heavier styling creams that will weigh down your hair and further elongate your curls or waves.  Try plopping or pineappling your hair if long, else try twisting your wet hair to give your curls more life.
  • If you have normal porosity remember to keep a healthy balance of both protein and moisture and keep doing what you are doing.

Remember to check your hair’s health regularly and vary your hair regimen accordingly.

 

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.