Yinka’s Braids – A Review

Hello my Cakers, Bakers and Beauties!

This post is a review on hair styling services by Yinka of Yinka’s braids.

Selfishly I almost didn’t write this post because I don’t want Yinka to get so busy that she can’t do my hair anymore. However that’s not really supporting a sista now is it?  I met Yinka at NHW 2014 in London, we had a lovely chat and we exchanged business cards. I liked her work illustrated on her card so a few months later I gave her a call.

I wanted my hair to be canerowed and two-strand twisted without extensions, Yinka explained that as she currently does not have a salon she is unable to offer “wet services” that was fine with me, so we made an appointment and around a week later I detangled, cleansed and conditioned my hair,  hopped on my bike and made my way to Yinka.

  Yinka’s place is welcoming, clean and comfortable. Before getting started on the actual styling Yinka assessed the health of my hair and gave me a mini consultation. Yinka is natural herself and has fine hair – like me so she understands the struggles of not making the hair look “gappy” once the style is finished, in addition Yinka is sooo gentle. I’m used to my natural hair being handled roughly by braiders because they are not used to – or don’t like dealing with natural hair. A lot of braiders are only concerned about the finished look of the style and are not concerned about the health of your hair or damage from manipulation. Yinka did not insist on working on dry stretched hair, she was happy to work on my hair while damp and only used a comb for parting, any tangles we came across along the way Yinka gently finger detangled them just like I would.

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These small fine canerows did not hurt a bit and I loved the style so much, it was a lovely protective style, as you can see I also wore my twists in a bun to protect my ends even more. Since my first appointment I have seen Yinka regularly for twisted and braided styles. Prices start from £20.00 but are individual and based on the length of your hair or extensions and the complexity of the style, I can confirm that Yinka’s prices are very reasonable and very good value for money.

Yinka also braids with extensions and installs kinky twists, Men and children are also welcomed for hair styling services.       I know many of you twist/braid your own hair but I do not have the skill to style my hair as neatly or quickly as Yinka can – even if I could I wouldn’t do it because I don’t believe we are designed to do styles on our hair that take more than an hour maximum. If we were supposed to style our own hair for hours and hours we would have been born with an extra set of eyes to enable us to see the back of our heads clearly ( I don’t know where these eyes would be placed)  and we would have a different type of shoulder joint so our arms didn’t ache so much.

Jokes aside I honestly believe that hair dressing and styling especially of natural African/Afro/Black/highly textured hair should be a special bonding experience. Hair is very personal and has spiritual meaning for a lot of people. In some cultures including my own there are many beliefs related to hair and you are warned not to let just anybody handle your precious tresses.

Ms Yinka Herself.  photo credit Yinkas Braids

Ms Yinka Herself.
photo credit Yinkas Braids

I am very happy to continue to have my hair styled by Yinka and she is extremely talented at what she does, Yinka is happy to chat while she works if you want to talk but she can also sense when I’m too tired to talk or I’m engrossed in my book, there’s no pressure to keep talking the whole time.

To see more photos of Yinka’s work and to like her facebook page – click here

Yinka is based in London and can be contacted on 07869554529.

@yinkas_braids on Instagram

Thanks for Reading

luv

Sian

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Afrofit African Virgin Coconut Oil – A Review

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Hello My Cakers Bakers and Beauties!

This is a long overdue review, I was given a jar of Afrofit virgin coconut oil to review a good while ago …but then life happened. I won’t go into all the reasons and excuses it has taken me so long to post my review but I did use the coconut oil when it was first given to me, in fact I finished the whole jar which is why I can give an honest and full review of the product now. Before I get into the review properly I owe Damola Ojo the general manager of Afrofit a huge apology.

Mr Ojo – I’m truly and sincerely sorry, for not posting my review sooner.

So as a natural hair/baking blogger I was already using coconut oil in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. I’ll try not to bore you by writing about all of the uses for coconut oil, but I will share a few of my favourite ways to use coconut oil at the end of my review.

If you are in the UK like me, one of the best reasons for you to buy Afrofit V.C.O is because it is sold and distributed by a Black owned U.K business, no crazy shipping prices or waiting time. Afrofit support local economy in West Africa by sourcing their coconut oil from small-scale farmers in Ghana who use traditional methods to process the coconut oil, they also pay the farmers a fair price for their hard work.

Afrofit V.C.O has a nice fresh coconutty scent and does not have the tendency to smell like baby sweat (shout out to Evelyn from the internets!) like some other brands do, the consistency is solid (because U.K is cold) but it melts upon contact with my hands. This coconut oil is not very grainy which can be annoying sometimes when I’m using it for my hair.

As well as applying the oil topically, I also use it for oil pulling (explanation below), I drop a tablespoon into my green smoothies for an energy and nutrient boost and of course I use it for cooking.

Afrofit V.C.O is a good alternative to butter in vegan cakes –  I don’t really use margarine unless it’s specially requested because margarine is a highly processed synthetic food and full of chemicals.

Afrofit V.C.O does taste of coconut but the flavour is not overpowering, for example in baked goods you can’t really discern a coconut flavour but if you use it to make scrambled eggs you can taste the coconut. It depends on what you are cooking with it or combining it with because shallow fried plantain or fish does not taste of coconut but I can taste it in a smoothie that does not have a strong tasting fruit/vegetable in it. I like the taste of coconut so for me I don’t mind that I can taste it sometimes, plus Afrofit coconut oil is the best tasting coconut oil i’ve ever used.

Obviously Afrofit V.C.O is suitable for vegans,vegetarians, people with a gluten intolerance and most people with treenut allergies because coconut is a fruit and even then the oil contains hardly any protein.

Lastly the Afrofit team are basically hotties, I’m not ashamed to admit that they are a bunch of beautiful black men with nice bodies, so ladies if you hear that Afrofit are going to be at an event near you, I highly suggest you book your ticket quickly!!! Not to leave the Afrofit ladies out of the mix because they are reppin fitness,faces and curves in the workout videos and in the promotional material.

As promised here a just a few of my favourite uses for Afrofit Virgin  coconut oil:

  • As a pre-poo (natural, transitioning or relaxed) to help with detangling and to help minimise hygral fatigue – hair damage resulting from the constant swelling and contracting of the hair during the uptake and loss of water. It’s important to do your pre-poo overnight if you can because although coconut oil is one of the very few oils that can penetrate into the hair strand it takes several hours for this happen.
  •  To remove make up.
  •  Added to shea butter to make a softer, multi purpose shea butter whip.
  • Oil pulling – you use the oil like mouthwash to help with oral health and hygiene.
  • Massage oil 😉
  • Used like body lotion on damp skin after a shower to lock in moisture and give my skin a sexy glow.
  • Mixed with demerara sugar for a lip/body scrub.

Afrofit do ship internationally so head over for their website to order and for more information.

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

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Naked Winter Berry Cake

Hello My Cakers and Bakers.

Happy Holidays!

Of course I’ve been busy baking over the Christmas period.

Below is a Red Berry “naked cake” I made for a customer, in the cross section you will see that the cake has several layers as well as a horizontal pattern. A naked cake is simply a cake without external icing it’s naked so that all the layers can be seen from the outside and it allows for the flavours of the cake to shine through and not be overpowered by heavy sugary icing or frosting.

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Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

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Crystal’s 30th Birthday Cake

Hello my Cakers, Bakers and Beauties,
Sorry that I haven’t posted in a couple of months, I’ve been travelling again and going through some things…More about that later but for now.
Right let get straight into the blog post…
A Couple of months ago I was asked to make a birthday cake for a very special lady,
Ms Crystal Afro of the United Kinkdom Blog.
Crystal was the ideal customer in the sense that she knew the basic aspects of the cake she wanted – (a Victoria sponge cake in the shape of the number 30 with yellow icing) but was open to suggestions and let me use my imagination for the final result.
For me, people who are too specific are very hard to please because they have an exact image in their mind and it’s not possible to produce an exact match for what is in their imagination, in addition I NEVER copy cakes – yes there’s nothing wrong with that and it takes a lot of talent and skill to reproduce a real cake from a picture/photo but I prefer to use my own original ideas.
My first challenge was how to make the cake in the shape of a number 3 , I considered carving the cake but I wanted to minimize wasting cake and ingredients by not having lots of off-cuts, I decided to hire a couple of number cake tins and found a shop not too far from me that offered this service, I reserved my tins 2 weeks in advance but when I arrived at the shop to collect the tins I was informed that the ‘0’ was not available because it was in Scotland!!! I was not offered any explanation or apology for this, in fact the customer service I received at this shop went from bad to worse but this post is not going to turn into a rant about bad customer service…
I had no choice but to hire the number ‘8’ tin instead because it was the day before Crystal’s party and I didn’t have time to ring around looking for another shop that had what I needed.
When I got home my first task was to cover the cake board with yellow fondant, it was easy to colour the fondant by kneading  yellow food gel into it but I had been misadvised (by the owner of the same crappy cake shop) about the amount of fondant I would need and no matter how many times I re-rolled that !”£$%& it would not fit over the 20” square cake board!
I had to go out and buy more fondant, colour it again knead it for ages and then finally I was able to roll it neatly over the cake board and add the finishing touch of a black satin ribbon.
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Yes there are a couple of imperfections but I was still proud of how it turned out. My next task was to work out how I was going to turn an “8” into a “0” without the whole thing falling apart, I traced the tins out on some cardboard to give me an idea of the final shape I wanted to achieve.
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Baking the Victoria Sponge cake was pretty simple and the “cake surgery” was not as complicated as I thought it would be… Icing around the 3 was actually much more difficult than I imagined it would be and I struggled to get the icing completely smooth in the crevices, I used a buttercream-hybrid icing of my own invention it has a very buttery and creamy texture due to the addition of double cream and yogurt in my recipe.
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I added a few pink highlights as requested by the Birthday lady and a few edible crystals around her name, I didn’t want to go too overboard on the decoration as it was a cake for a grown up after all! After a day of baking and decorating the cake was all packed up and ready to go.
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I was also an invited guest at Crystal’s birthday as well as a few other UK Naturalistas, I asked the ladies to pose and show me their cake faces!
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I had a really great time at Crystal’s Party and thankfully Crystal and her guests really loved the cake, mission accomplished!
Here are some amazing photos of the taken by Raymond of a A-Picture Photography, thank you very much to Raymond and Chelena for giving me permission to use your photos on my blog.
Crystal Afros's 30th Birthday Party Logo Version205
Crystal Afros's 30th Birthday Party Logo Version206Crystal Afros's 30th Birthday Party Logo Version215
Crystal Afros's 30th Birthday Party Logo Version130 Crystal Afros's 30th Birthday Party Logo Version134
  The “3” cake was demolished in a matter of minutes and the “0” was not far behind…
cakey
I have a lot of love and respect for Crystal, Crystal thanks for letting me make your birthday cake it was an honour and a pleasure.
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Thanks for Reading
Luv
Sian
x

Natural Hair Week UK 2014

Hello My Cakers, Bakers and Beauties!

Despite my aversion to and self-ban from “Natural Hair Events” (NHE’s) I ended up going to, or being involved in quite a few NHE’s over the past few months.

 Earlier this year I had the pleasure of properly meeting and sharing dinner with Vinna Best, after the Divas of Colour Event. DoC was held at the Hilton on Tooley Street which is about 5 minutes walk from my place and it was a very long day so after the event I was so hungry! 

 Vinna, and Georgina (of that Healthy Feeling please read the blog it’s amazing) were also hungry after DoC so we went to a local trendy eatery in Bermondsey Square and shared a few drinks a meal and a lively discussion about the aspects we like and don’t like about NHE’s.

 Vinna Best is the co-founder of Natural Hair Week UK,  (NHWUK) and unbeknownst to Vinna she had managed to convince me to attend NHWUK 2014 the event was held in six cities across the UK ; Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham,  Bristol, Birmingham and London I had a choice between Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds Bristol and London. Since I live in London I wanted to combine my attendance at NHWUK with a weekend visit to a different UK city- I decided to pick Bristol as it’s not too far from London by train and I haven’t visited Bristol since I was a tiny child.

 I bought my VIP ticket to the event for £25.00, booked my hotel and train tickets and patiently waited a few weeks for the day of the event. NHWUK  kicked off in Leeds this year but, I intentionally avoided reviews and photos on social media because I wanted to be surprised on the day I attended in Bristol.

 I travelled to Bristol on 18th July, the day before the event, as I didn’t fancy getting out of my bed at 5am on a Saturday morning in order to get ready and catch a train that would get me to Bristol in time for the event which started at 10:00 for registration.

 I stayed in the Ibis Hotel at Bristol Temple Meads about 5 minutes’ walk from the station.  The hotel was very clean and comfortable I would definitely stay there again.

 On the morning of the event I stopped off at the famous Hart’s Bakery for breakfast, I had a delicious vegetarian pasty with black beans sweet potatoes and peppers, I also bought a Harts Bakery Special “Saturday Bread” a yummy, fluffy, cakey, bready hunk of delightful caramel bottomed sweetness. Sorry I have no photos of the food it was a rainy morning and I was VERY hungry, I’m definitely going back though so next time I’ll take pics.

Harts Bakery - interior

Harts Bakery – Interior

 NHWUK Bristol, was held at the Hilton Double Tree Hotel, there were two main areas the event was held in;  a large room set up with rows of seats and a stage plus a back room area for the vendors.

Trichologist Shirley McDonald, also had a side room set up for private consultations, I thought this was a fantastic idea, so many events are only full of bloggers and stylists – don’t get me wrong I love bloggers and some stylists but until attending NHWUK I hadn’t been to a NHE that provided an opportunity for attendees to get private medical advice relating to their personal hair/scalp issues.

 As a VIP ticket holder I was given a gold swag bag which contained full-size products as well as large samples, additionally I had a front row seat reserved for me in the main hall.

Swag Bag and Contents

                                                   Swag Bags and Contents of VIP Bags

 The Bristol event was much smaller than some other NHE’s I been to, but that is what I loved about it the most, it wasn’t hot and crowded, there wasn’t a crazy feeling of urgency and I got to speak to every single vendor.

During the talks and panel  discussion everyone who wanted to make a point or ask  a question was able to do so and the atmosphere was warm and friendly the event was very much about sharing knowledge and experiences.

The Naturalistas in Bristol were so nice! There were several generations of “Bristolian” Black women in attendance and there was even a teacher and one of her ex pupils!

In my opinion it seems like the “Black community” in Bristol is a lot more tight knit that the “Black Community” in London but that stands to reason because Bristol is a much smaller city than London and there are fewer People of Colour.

NHWUK was hosted by Elle and Neicey from Natural Hair Daily, and throughout the day there was plenty to do:

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  • Seminars from hair and skin care experts
  • Complimentary facials from skin care expert Antonia Burrell
Anthonia Burrell Stand

Anthonia Burrell Stand

  • Free Mini makeovers by Fashion Fair
Fashion Fair Cosmetics

               Fashion Fair Cosmetics

  • Head wrapping workshops by Akhu Designs

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  • Brands selling natural hair and beauty products including LUSH, Beauty Me and Hairfinity
Lush Stand

           Lush Stand

Beauty Me Stand

           Beauty Me 

  • Natural hairstyling demos from celebrity hairdresser Desmond Murray
Errol Styling Loose Afros and Locs

Desmond Styling Loose Afros and Locs

There were so many free gifts and giveaways!

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I got to meet and have a long conversation with the European Hairfinity Distributor, he was an interesting fellow, let’s just say I wasn’t convinced to buy the product after our little chat…

One interesting product I saw was the Edge Stick, it’s used to straighten and smooth your edges with heat, it’s also designed to minimise the risk of burning your skin. I personally wouldn’t use it because I feel that it’s more suited to ladies with chemically straightened hair who want to blend their new growth. However I can testify that the Edge Stick works and it’s very easy to use.

The Edge Stick in action, the first picture is my hand and I could feel the heat but the actual element was not in direct contact with my skin.

The Edge Stick in action, the first picture is my hand and I could feel the heat but the actual element was not in direct contact with my skin.

After the Event a big group of us from London went out to eat dinner with some of the attendees from Bristol, they were so friendly it was like visiting relatives that I hadn’t met before, one lovely lady even offered to cook everyone dinner at her house!

Coincidentally it was the Bristol Harbour Festival on the same weekend so after dinner we strolled down to the waterside for ice cream before everyone went back to their individual hotels.

After the Event

The next day Vinna, her dad – Mr Best and I headed back to the waterfront to check out the festival during the day time before going back to London, it was a lovely warm day, we had lunch at a restaurant that serves Caribbean inspired food and spotted some young Black males rocking their natural hair too!

Bristol Day 2

Mr Best was kind enough to offer me a life back to London in their car and on the way home I was discussing the Bristol event with Vinna and I suggested that they have a product swap at the London date, Vinna was receptive to the idea which I explained was based on the product swap that Angel of the Natural Lounge had hosted. Vinna asked if I’d run the product swap table myself, I accepted and so I ended up going to the London date of NHWUK as well

Photos of the product swap at NHWUK London:

Product Swap hosted by Me, on behalf of Officially Natural at NHWUK London.

Product Swap hosted by Me, on behalf of Officially Natural at NHWUK London.

 Thanks for Reading

Luv

Sian

x

Girly NYC Trip and Let Your Hair Down Expo 2014!

Hello my Lovelies!

I met Candace Kelly – journalist and naturalista at the NHW London Event, Candace was so lovely that when she mentioned she was having her own hair event- the Let Your Hair Down Expo in Brooklyn, NYC in September I knew I had to be there!

I let my pen pal Tonia know I was going to be in USA again and she agreed to meet me in NYC and hang out for a few days, I told my mum about the event and she was keen to come along with me too, so before you know it, a girly trip to NYC had been booked!

Tonia, gave me the heads up on a hotel that was still being built but would be open upon our arrival, the Element hotel in Harrison NJ, upon Tonia’s recommendation we booked a suite at the hotel. The hotel was amazing and you can read my full review here on Tripadvisor under the name Sianthe B.

Views from,in the hotel room and selfie on the plane!

Views from and in the hotel room and selfie on the plane!

The first few days in New Jersey was spent relaxing and eating mainly, we cooked in the hotel suite and went into Harlem to eat at Sylvia’s a famous “Soul Food” restaurant. I know people are going to hate me for saying this but my mum are I were underwhelmed by the food at Sylvia’s it was all quite salty, soft and lacking in depth of flavour, however they could have been having an off day…

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Parked near Sylvia’s was a interesting looking truck, which turned out to be a Mobile Boutique! We met the lovely owner of the boutique/vehicle- Nneka Ingram and all purchased a few of her unique accessories.

Nneka and her amazing boutique-truck

Nneka and her amazing boutique-truck

It turns out that NNeka is also a make-up artist so I booked an appointment for her to do my make up for the Let Your Hair Down Expo.

On Saturday 13th September I made my way to Nneka’s truck a tiny bit late, but she was able to do an amazing job on my face in 30 minutes, then I was back on the Subway and headed to Waverly Avenue in Brooklyn for the hair event.

Excuse the quality this was a selfie taken on the subway

Selfie Collage - This is the makeup  done by Nneka, the photos with me in the grey straps were taken 12  hours after the make up was applied and I'd been rained on!!

The event was split into two halves and I’d bought a ticket for the first session which was 12:00 – 16:00. There was a queue when I arrived but I was happy to chat to the Brooklyn Naturalistas and ogle more gorgeous natural hair.

Hair Porn in the queue.

Hair Porn in the queue.

Session one consisted of two workshops:

Presenting Felicia Leatherwood!

She is internationally known for her natural hair artistry and her Loving Your Natural Hair with Natural Care Workshop where naturalistas learn from her years of experiences. Yes, she does the hair of those on the red carpet but this licensed stylist will help you shape your look. Learn about hair care maintenance, low and high end products and styles that suit you.

2:15PM-3:30PM

Live with The Curl Whisperer! Tameeka’s Transformations

Join the Curl Whisperer, Tameeka McNeil Johnson for Tameeka’sTransformations. Natural hair enthusiasts are flocking to this licensed stylist for her advice. Come out and see naturals get some serious makeovers and get a copy of her bookLittle Black Book of Rules for Curly Girls.

(lavender text from www.letyourhairdownexpo.com)

As well as the workshops, there were many vendors, hourly prizes and a large section dedicated to Hairfinity who were the main sponsors of the event. As always I really enjoyed talking to the vendors and shopping.

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Felicia’s workshop was basically the same workshop she did at events in London and Paris so I’d already heard it before and the audience questions were very also similar.

Tameeka’s workshop was more interesting  to me, because I’d never seen/heard of her before and she was quite dynamic and energetic while giving her talk and demonstration, I liked the fact that Tameeka did her demonstration on a girl with short hair and a kinkier texture, too many times at hair events I see demo’s on girls with long/curly hair which is nice but I appreciate diversity and watching demo’s that give me a better idea of what could work on my mid- length kinky coily hair.

I wore a custom made outfit from House of Loulee to the event and got so many compliments from EVERYONE who saw me that day, if you like my outfit, head to House of Loulee  and contact the designer and founder Lucy Lee to get your own garments made. House of Loulee also have a wide range of ready to wear garments, gifts and toys for the whole family. (Just in case you’re thinking this, no I haven’t been paid to plug H.O.L.L they just have amazing stuff and I think everyone should know!)

Outfit by House of Loulee, Make up by Nneka Ingram hair by Georgy.

Outfit by House of Loulee, Make up by Nneka Ingram hair by Georgy.

All in all, I did enjoy the Expo even though I didn’t learn anything new about natural hair/care and I missed the panel discussion at the end of the day (featuring Rachy of Uk afrolista formerly UK Naturals) because I was so exhausted I had to go back to the hotel and sleep.

The standout part of the day for me was meeting and having a really nice talk with Hairfinity spokesmodel/ambassador  Torsha McElroy – Torsha is a young lady who had a horrific car accident in 2011, she lost all of her hair as a result of the accident and within 20 months of taking hairfinity consistently she had grown her hair back  to it’s original length .                 I first saw Torsha in a Hairfinity promotional video at NHWUK 2014 and I was horrified that Hairfinity was using this lady’s near-fatal accident to peddle a hair supplement, I was really concerned that Hairfinity were explioting Torsha and I was disgusted…

However after meeting Torsha my fears were allayed and she was very open and honest with me about her working relationship with Hairfinity.

Me and Torsha

Me and Torsha

There was a huge turnout for the event and Candace Kelly is lovely, I also met Jenell of  BlakIzBeautyful who is as pretty, gracious and humble in real life as she comes across on YT.

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

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