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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Purple Afro! – Mane Divas Hair Part 2

Hi Naturalistas!

I decided to do a follow up on the Mane Diva NHA Afro Kinky hair, I wore my first installation of the hair for 6 weeks straight.

Before I carry on with this post, I’m not recommending that anyone should follow my hair practices I did what I did to really put the hair through it’s paces and test it out.

During the six weeks I hydrated and moisturised my leave out and my canerows underneath on a regular basis, I was really scared that I would retain my hair under the tracks but my leave out would break off… so I treated my leave out very well, I moisturised my leave out every single day and the left out portion of my hair from ear to ear (round the back of my head) was kept in flat twists and wound into a tiny bun at the nape of my neck, I didn’t undo the twists to moisturise my hair, I only took the twists out on wash day or if I wore my hair up in a high bun or puff.

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High Puff with Leave Out

The leave out at the front was also twisted the majority of the time and sometimes loosened when I wore a fro, but the hair is so voluminous that I didn’t need to undo my leave out every time I wore my hair down.

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Fro’d Out!

As you read in my first review, to keep this hair looking soft and to prevent mega tangling this hair needs to be treated like highly textured hair that grows out of a scalp. Regular moisturising and de-tangling is required the frequency depends on how you wear your hair during the day and how/if you have a good bedtime routine.

I shampooed my hair every 2 weeks while I wore the weave, rinsed my hair whenever I felt like it and deep conditioned after every wash.

Whenever I fully saturated my hair I was standing in the shower directly under the water – never with my head flipped over.

To wash my hair  I used a diluted sulphate-free shampoo on my scalp which was dripped on using an applicator bottle, the weave was in a few chunky twists so I could access my scalp easily and not tangle the hair.

I gently used my finger-pads to distribute the shampoo mixture into my canerows then applied some more shampoo mix onto the chunky twists and used the “milking a cow” motion (squeezing and GENTLY pulling downwards) to  get the shampoo into the twists.

At no point did I rub the hair, dig my scalp with nails or heavily agitate my canerows not only was this to prevent tangles but also to prevent breakage to my hair underneath from dragging it about too much.

After standing under the jet of water for ages, to rinse all off the shampoo out I deep conditioned my hair + tracks, I used moisture treatments because I had done a protein treatment just before getting the weave installed.

I put a shower cap on and my “Look Great Heat Wrap”  for 45 mins before getting back in the shower and rinsing out all traces of product from my hair. I wrapped my hair in an old t-shirt to absorb most of the excess water before doing the L.O.C method on my hair and weave. I let the hair air dry each time I wet it.

As you can see the whole process is quite involved -which is why I only did it fortnightly. If I felt like I need to  get rid of product build up or pollen (which was abundant at that time) I just went ahead and rinsed hair by standing under my shower jet.

I wore a few different styles during the time I had the weave in, please excuse the picture quality they are mostly selfies. The hair can be defined or brushed out when fully dry to the touch to get the full Afro effect, I tried chiney bumps a couple of times but they didn’t dry on time so they were fluffy which is my fault but the twist outs turned out really nicely. Although I don’t have any photos (sorry) I flat ironed the hair 3 times not to wear as a style because I didn’t want to use heat on my leave out, but just to test if the hair would revert every time- which it did.

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(Twist Out) Selfie with gorgeous Dionne of Qemamu Mosaics.

During the last two weeks of wearing the hair, I intentionally treated it very  badly, I didn’t twist it up at night,  wear a bonnet, moisturise it or detangle it before going to sleep, I wore a folded satin scarf around my head to protect my left-out hair. In the mornings the hair was a  mess but I was able to spritz it and detangle it before going out and it still looked presentable.

On the last 2 days I literally did nothing to  the hair and wore a hat when I went out during the day. When I tried to remove the tracks I could not detangle it at all so I carefully cut through all the stitches and took the hair off like a wig, the weave was in a state one huge dread lock I could not separate it at all.

I dumped it all in a big plastic bowl and squeezed Tresemme Naturals Conditioner all over it before adding warm water and leaving it in the bowl for a day, then I panicked and consulted YouTube for how to detangle used weave – I then panicked some more because the ENTIRE interwebsuperhighway told me that putting water on it would make it tangle up even more! I flew home from work that day and drained the water out but to be honest the water/conditioner mix had done what I thought it would do which was to soften the hair enough for me to separate the tracks. I ended up with 3 separate pieces which was what had been installed, I didn’t have to cut through my wefts at all, I then coated each weft in cheapie conditioner from Savers and painstakingly combed and brushed through ALL of the hair under my shower jet- the entire process took about 3 hours but I didn’t lose much hair doing it like this, you could do it much more quickly I’m sure- but you would lose hair by ripping through it with your tools.

I spread the wefts out in my bathroom and let them air dry loose, when they were dry, I out them on skirt hangers and put them in my wardrobe to stay detangled until my next install.

3 weeks later  I decided I wanted to colour the hair a bright vibrant colour…

I knew that since the weave is a natural 1b colour I would need to bleach the hair first in order to get the colour to show up as brightly as I wanted it to.

I had consulted the mighty YT and watched several videos on bleaching and colouring hair before my holiday so I had already bought the extra items I needed from Ebay.

This is what I bought:

Dcash Hair Dye Platinum Blonde  White Toner + Bleach (40%)

Adore Purple Rage Colour.

I also used items I already had around the house:

Latex Gloves

Tresemme Naturals Conditioner

Plastic Recycling Bags

Raggedy Old Clothes

Plastic Bowl and Spoon

The technique I used mainly came from the video below,  I did not want to damage my own hair by bleaching it in order to match the weave -so I decided to do an “ombre” effect and not colour the entire length of the strands.

 

But as you will see I didn’t feel the need to get my hair as light as this young lady did, I also only bleached my hair extension twice for a total of 2.5 hours.

The process 1

PicMonkey Collage (1)

After I washed the bleach out, the bleached portion of the hair felt quite straw-like and “trashy” like chewed up sugar cane but I resisted the temptation to deep condition it straight away  because I knew that the colour would “take” better on unconditioned hair. I towel dried, then lay the hair on large plastic bags before mixing some of the Adore Purple Rage hair colour with a squeeze of conditioner to lighten the shade a bit. I tried an ombre effect by using undiluted hair colour on the middle third of the hair and used the diluted colour on the very ends of the hair. I left the colour on the hair over night  and rinsed it out in the morning until the water ran clear. My last step was to saturate the coloured tracks in conditioner put them in a sandwich bag and zap the soggy hair in the microwave for 2 mins, I then wrapped the bundle in a towel and left it for an hour to deep condition, after this the hair felt really soft and back to normal.

PicMonkey Collage (2)

That was 2 weeks ago now and Iv’e been wearing the coloured hair since then, the coloured section has tangled up more than before but I just make sure I moisturise it well twice a day and that has cut down on the tangles.

I’ve also used heat on the coloured hair, by doing wand curls and I’m pleased to report that the hair curled well, and reverted again back to it’s original texture.

I can say that this hair is very good value for money and has been able to handle everything I’ve thrown at it so far, I think the main thing is to make sure the hair is hydrated and if you get serious tangles conditioner and patience are your best friends!

It was a long process but I’m glad I did it, what do you think of my “new” purple hair?

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I bought all of the products mentioned in this post with my own money – including the hair.

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

x

Are You a MANE Diva?! (Review)

Hello My Naturalistas!

Today I’m sharing something a little different…

A WEAVE review! Yes I said it, I got a weave.

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Although my protective style challenge is now over and I was rocking my ‘fro all over the streets of Paris a couple of weeks ago, I have fancied a change for a while and wanted to get a weave that was close to my natural texture for 3 reasons:

  •  I rarely use heat on my hair so I couldn’t blend my hair a straight weave.
  • I still want to wear hair that looks like it could have grown out of my head, instead of an Asian or European texture.
  • I love Afro hair and I want to rock a BAA (Big Ass Afro) but I’m still a few years away from that with my own hair.

I had my eye on some hair from the USA but it was sooo expensive and I have been stung with those customs charges in the past adding an extra £100.00 to an already ridiculously expensive bundle of hair.

I decided to stick to my principles of  supporting UK businesses and discovered that Mane Divas based in Essex,  UK provide NHA (No Heat Alternative) extensions especially suited to women with natural hair.

I chose the Afro Kinky Curly texture which is a tight coil that can be defined or picked/fluffed out to achieve a full billowing Afro.

The website has a lot of advice regarding the hair and I was also able to contact the Divas themselves to get advice on how many bundles to buy and what lengths. I was going to buy 12″ and 14″ like I used to when buying straight extensions but I was advised to get 2 bundles of 14 as this texture has a lot of shrinkage.

Each bundle of 14″ costs £75.00 and p&p starts from £4.99 for recorded delivery . I think the price is very reasonable considering it’s Afro kinky virgin, human hair and the company are in UK so the shipping is much cheaper than if the hair were coming from the USA or China. In addition 3% of Mane Diva’s profits are donated to The Sickle Cell Society which I think is fantastic.

One of the best things about buying from Mane Divas is the customer service, they are quick to respond to any questions or queries, I don’t need to try to figure out the time difference if I need to call them and English is their first language so no worries about their being a language barrier and having a misunderstanding. Trina was particularly helpful to me as I bombarded her with about 50 questions before actually buying the hair!

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You can purchase the hair by clicking here.

As you can see the hair comes packaged in a lovely sleek box and each bundle is tied up with a pink ribbon.

The bundles measured 7-8 inches un-stretched but they were 14 inches once I stretched the coils out which is how all non-straight extensions are measured.

The hair comes in a natural colour which is a dark brown, roughly colour 2 but it looks lighter in bright sunlight almost around colour 4.

I was worried that it wouldn’t blend with my hair which is dyed black, but it looks fine and as the hair is not chemically treated prior to purchase it can be dyed or coloured, I will be colouring mine later on after I’ve worn it in it’s virgin state for a while.

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I only needed 1 and a half bundles for a full weave with my entire perimeter left out in order to enable me to wear the hair up in high buns and puffs, plus my edges are fragile like many women so I don’t like to canerow my edges and add  tracks as the stress is too much for my hairline. In the pictures I’ve intentionally exposed my tracks so you can see my leave out, when I wear the hair down it’s so full and fluffy that I don’t need to blend my edges, so I keep my leave out in twists, 2-strand at the back/side and flat twisted across the front. Since my sides are getting pretty long I gather them into a loose bunch with the hair in the back and tuck my ends away.

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When I first saw the bundles I thought the hair would be too curly to blend with my natural hair but it was fine, the hair is really versatile and you can manipulate your leave out to blend with the extensions if you want to. The extensions are not an exact match for my varied curl patterns but obviously an exact match is impossible as like most human beings I have several curl patterns all over my head. As my leave out is minimal I had no issues with blending. The hair is very soft and clean when it arrives but I co-washed it and let it air-dry prior to installation anyway.

The wefts are strong and thick, but my stylist didn’t have trouble sewing the tracks in as she sewed over the weft not through it. I  have not experienced shedding even though I did not seal the second weft that was cut. I have also not experienced any matting which is very common in Afro-textured extensions but this is because I made sure that my tracks were not sewn too close together and I finger detangle daily, obviously once I run a comb through it there will be some shedding which is normal, my real hair sheds and this hair behaves just like my natural hair.  I remember wearing straight weaves back in the day and hair falling out all over the place it was awful!

I have been wearing this hair for a week and I flippin’ love it! On Mothers Day (30th March) I was with my Mum for over an hour before she asked me if I’d dyed my hair, I said no and only then did she ask me if I had “hair” in my hair! I admitted it but my Mum still insisted on coming and looking for the tracks… lol!

My Mum really likes the style on me and trust me my Mum HATES weave!

This hair is not low-maintenance hair, you cannot just get up, shake it out and go but that is just like real highly-textured natural hair that grows out of our scalps. You do need to keep this hair moisturised and detangled, I literally treat this hair like my own natural hair which also means that my leave out and my braids underneath are not neglected.

I moisturise both my hair and the tracks at least once per day, I use Mane Divas Milk Moist or my own water spritz mix. Every couple of days I apply castor oil to my scalp (only) with an applicator bottle and I lightly finger-detangle every night before putting the hair into 2-4 chunky twists and covering with a satin bonnet.  I don’t do anything to my leave out except moisturise it, I don’t undo my twists unless I’m wearing my hair up as I’m trying to avoid over- manipulation of my precious strands.

If I wear my hair up, or back in one,my natural hair blends effortlessly  into the extensions as illustrated by by ponytail/puff below:

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I highly recommend this hair to anyone who wants to add length, thickness or volume to their natural hair or someone who wants to try out a natural texture before taking the plunge. Mane Divas also offer kinky-curly extensions which are a looser curl and various straight textures, if you don’t want to commit to a sew-in weave you can also purchase clips-ins from Mane Divas.

I haven’t washed my hair yet but when I do I’ll do a post on how easy or hard it was to wash the hair by myself. I’m also going to add highlights then colour the hair to see how the hair holds up.

Thanks for Reading

Luv

Sian

x

*I bought this hair with my own money, prices correct at time of writing this post.

Enjoying the last of my Red ‘Fro!

This is just a quick post featuring photographs of the last few days of me enjoying my Red (ish) Free Afro. The first few photos of me and my husband were taken by Raymond of A-Picture Photography please check out his page and book him, he is an amazing photographer!

Please note these are the raw unedited photos.ImageImageImageImageImageImage

This is the very last photo of me and Soleil (my hair) out and about!

The lady on the far right is the beautiful & talented Lucy Lee of House of Loulee the maker and designer of my favourite purple dress!

The lady on the far left is Rachel Miller of The Events Depot she makes amazing balloon decor and also does event and party planning.

The lady in the snazzy red collar (another House of Loulee creation) is Ruby. Ruby does not have a business (yet) but that’s not the point, she is a good friend and so supportive and generous. Yay Sisterhood!

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Thanks!

xSx

Origins of The Afro Comb Exhibition – The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

Origins of the Afro Comb: 6,000 years of culture, politics and identity

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 Hello, How are you today?

I have been to the Afro comb Exhibition twice and I hope to go again before it finishes on Sunday 3 November 2013.

The first time I went, I went on a day trip organised by UK Hair Blogger Crystal Afro. Unfortunately my  camera battery was dead on that day but please take a look at Crystal’s photos here.

The second time I visited the exhibition I went with my cousin. This time I made sure my camera was in full working order!

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The exhibition is FREE and is still on until Sunday 3rd Nov 2013.

Cambridge is a beautiful city and well worth a visit. On Crystal’s trip we were also introduced to Tina Lasisi, Tina is a university of Cambridge Student and she is doing an amazing study on African Hair Diversity, you can read more about the study here and here. I donated my hair to Tina for her research and if you have time please also donate some of yours too, as you can see the amount of hair Tina needs is not much at all.

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The next date Tina is collecting hair in London is FRIDAY 11TH OCTOBER 2013.

As well as the Afro comb exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Musuem, there was also a connected art installation at the nearby Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology,

My Hair: Black Hair Culture, Style and Politics by artist and writer Michael McMillan.

The installation showed part of the development of the global black hair industry, including posters and images of different hair styles and produts. In addtion there were accurate displays of the ‘Cottage Salon’ in the Home, The Barber Shop and The Hairdressing Salon.

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Although I really enjoyed the “My Hair” installation there were two things that I really didn’t like:

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This was just nonsense, we’ve been canerowing our hair for thousands of years, without needing “permission” from any body.  Maybe Bo Derek gave permission for more Non-Black people to canerow their hair… I can’t bring myself to use the word “cornrow” sorry, I’ve been saying canerow for so long I’m not going to change now. (In relation to hair, cornrow and canerow are the same style of braiding.)            Image This Wig was just awful, it was crispy and hard like the rough side of your plastic/nylon washing-up sponge. No natural Afro hair feels anything like this wig, I know it was a synthetic wig so it wouldn’t feel right but I only know this because I have Afro hair myself and have many family members and friends with Afro hair. However if I was of a different ethnicity and I felt this wig I might believe that Afro hair actually felt like that. If the point of the wig was to demonstrate how Afro hair feels then it was a huge fail. If that wasn’t the point of the wig then why was it there at all?

The “My Hair” installation ended on 28th September 2013.

 Thanks for reading.

Luv

Sian

x

Salon Search Episode 3.

Hello my Cakers Bakers & Beauties!

On the 21st of September, I happened to be in Brixton and wandered past this salon:

Heavenly Hair

The name piqued my curiosity because it seemed to suggest that the salon catered towards the health of hair and not just the look. I went inside to ask some questions as I could see that it was not very busy, I was welcomed in and offered a seat by one of the Senior Stylists- Maureen, I asked if they do Natural Hair and what kind of products they used. Maureen was so professional and knowledgeable that I felt at ease with her immediately.  The salon was also clean and well presented.

As I had a photo shoot the next day and since I wasn’t sure how I was going to do my hair I asked if I could have my hair done straight away, Maureen said that was fine as she was not busy until later. I only had a wash, condition and style as my hair was not in need of a treatment. Maureen was VERY gentle with my fine strands and let me read the ingredient list of every single product she used before she used it on my hair. If I wasn’t happy about an ingredient Maureen showed me an alternative product to use instead.

Maureen also explained what she was doing each step of the way and let me see the tools she was going to use on my hair, I don’t know if she does this for every one or just for me because I had explained that I don’t like going to the hairdressers, either way I was very happy with the service there. I also met the owner and manager of the salon, her name is June and she too, is very experienced and professional, June also has her own range of all-natural hair care products, some of which were used on me. I have a selection of her range and will be posting a product review when I’ve used up some of the products I already have piled up ..Lol!

I recommend paying a visit to this Salon if you can get to Brixton.

The style I had was two strand twist in the back and a few canerows in the front, I’m sorry I do not have any photos of the process as June was very private about the techniques they use in the salon. My final aim was to have a twist out the next day for the shoot but as the shoot was outside and it was VERY windy my hair ended up doing it’s own thing and I just went with it!

Heavenly Hair and Scalp work on appointments but walk-ins are welcome.

To book an appointment you can text Heavenly Hair and Scalp Salon on 07940925410 (mobile)

or call them at the shop on 020 8671 3357

Opening Times

Monday: 10am – 6pm

Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday: 10am – 8pm
Friday: 10am – 8pm
Saturday: 10am – 8pm

Mon & Weds By booked appointments only, Text or call 07940925410

Address:

112E Brixton Hill

Brixton,
London
SW2 1AH
UK

 Website

Hubby, Me & My Windswept Fro!

Photo By Raymond of A-Picture Photography.  For more Photos from that day please see my other post .

Thanks For Reading

Luv

Sian

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