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.

Shaloy’s Big Chop!

Hello my Cakers, Bakers & Beauties!

My gorgeous “little” Cousin Shaloy has been wanting to return to her Natural Hair for a while now, Shaloy has seen me transition, big chop, colour, straighten, dye, bleach, henna and mini chop my Natural hair and decided that she was ready to go for it! Kudos to Shaloy because she knew transitioning was not for her and took the (what I consider to be brave) decision to big chop without transitioning. Shaloy had a head full of  healthy, long, thick relaxed hair and after a Summer spent back home in Jamaica, Shaloy called me up and asked me to go with her to BC, the next day off we went off to the Barbers!

I recommended that Shaloy go a Barber to do her BC, as hairdressers charge too much for the same thing and Barbers tend to be quite straight to the point. I’ve had a few friends tell me that when they have been to the hairdresser the stylist has tried to convince them not to cut their hair off or they have not cut enough off.

Once we got to the Barbershop, I think I was more nervous than Shaloy was! Even though Shaloy is technically an adult, I thought I might be blamed for her decision and for encouraging her to cut off her hair. In our family as well as in many other families, Hair is a big deal particularly long hair, my Jamaican Grandmother once asked me to promise not to cut my hair again as I always used to cut if off every summer when I was relaxed.

Shaloy’s Mum also has really long thick relaxed healthy hair that she takes great pride in.  I was dreading what her Mum would say once she saw her practically bald eldest daughter!

When it was our turn the Barber asked what Shaloy was having done and I said “she wants to cut it all off” The Barber asked Shaloy once if she was sure she wanted to cut if ALL off and once she said “yes definitely” he went at it!

Here’s the story of Shaloy’s Big chop in pictures…

Before, putting a brave face on...

Before – Slightly nervous

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Before, healthy relaxed hair (as healthy as relaxed hair can be)

Loosened the bun, ready for the scissors!

Loosened the bun, ready for the scissors!

Last chance cuz, are you sure?

Last chance cuz, are you sure?

She was sure!

She was sure!

New growth, fresh and free!

There is no going back now… Still smiling though

Shaping and trimming

Shaping and trimming

Looking good...

Looking good…

All done, slightly faded and curved at the back for a touch more feminity.

All done, slightly faded and curved at the back for a touch more femininity.

Throwing the chemically processed hair in the bin.

Throwing the chemically processed hair in the bin.

Out with the old...

Out with the old…

Only £10.00!  what a bargain tell me if you know a hairdresser who would do the same thing for less than a tenner!

Only £10.00! what a bargain tell me if you know a hairdresser who would do the same thing for less than a tenner!

 

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My mid-length ‘fro on the left, Shaloy’s sassy big chop on the right. Love you Cuz! xxx

Progress... 3 months later

Progress… 3 months later

New Colour

New Colour

More Before and Afters

More Before and Afters

Thanks for reading,

Luv

Sian

X

Natural Newbie: Nicole

Hi My Cakers Bakers and Beauties!
I’ve decided to do posts featuring other naturals, there’s only so much I can write about myself, plus I don’t want anyone to get bored! The first natural I interviewed was Nicole:
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Please Introduce Yourself,
How old are you? Where are you from? What do you do for a living?
Hey, my name is Nicole. I am 29 years old and I come from London. I am a freelance photographer and a youth theatre drama facilitator volunteer.

How long have you been natural?

I have been natural for 10 days now. Since the 1st June 2013:-)

 
Why did you go natural?
Because I was sick of relaxing hair and my relaxed hair was very damaged. I knew in my heart I was never going to relax my hair again, the last time it was done, which was the 3rd March 2013.
 
Also I wanted to embrace my natural hair as my hair hasn’t been natural for 19 years.      My hair was first relaxed at age 11. I think this is something I wanted to do as I approach 30. I want to spend the years 30-60 loving myself for who I really am as in my first 30 years, there wasn’t much of that going on.
 
Another reason I have gone natural is to get to know my hair and how to look after it properly and to teach my daughter that her hair is beautiful just the way it is.
 
 Did you Transition or Big Chop? if you transitioned how long did you transition and why?
I began to transition from the 3rd March but by the 1st June I was tired of dealing with the two different textures so I done the Big Chop. In all honesty, I started to hate the straight ends. They were interfering with my curls 🙂
When you got rid of all your relaxed hair, how did you feel?
I cut all the relaxed ends off on the 1st June 2013. I felt great…..liberated…..and beautiful!!!!!
 
What reaction did you get from your partner/family/friends and colleagues when you started rocking your natural hair? 
My daughter and partner loved it and my family and friends!!!! Everybody except one loved it but I ain’t watching that because I love it and that’s the main thing.
 
Do you have a hair goal? If so please share it with us.
YES!!!! HEALTHY HAIR ALWAYS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE….
I’m not really concerned about length as I still feel ultra feminine with my TWA. In fact I feel even more sensual as a woman with the cut 🙂

 

What’s your current favourite style? 
At the moment I’m just rocking it like it is with low manipulation as a TWA and loving it.
 
If you were stranded on a dessert island which 3 hair products would you want with you?
My Tressemme Naturals conditioner, olive oil, a good shampoo(Creme of Nature – Sulfate Free Shampoo, my hair loves this.)
What is your favourite hair tool, and why?
My afro comb because it feels so good to plump up my little ‘fro. I feel somewhere between being Jackie Brown and my lovely Grace Jones. Both hot mamas.
 
 Do you have a hair regime, if so what is it? 
 I co-wash 3-4 times a week to keep my hair lovely and soft and use a sulfate free shampoo about once a week and a deep condition. I have been ‘bagging’ a lot , where I just condition my hair before I go to bed and leave a steam cap on and put my little woolly hat on over it. I always wake up without the hat on but at least I tried.  To stop it from drying out in the day I regularly spritz with a  water and olive oil mix. I haven’t been too fused with curl definition as I am just enjoying my hair being in its natural state and don’t want to alter it.
 
Which person, or people with natural hair inspire or encourage you in your natural hair journey?
Oh definitely you Sian. You have educated me in a big way……also my 9 year old daughter…..I have a lot to teach her.

Have you faced any challenges or made any mistakes with your natural hair?
None…….only I got my hair washed at the barbers the other day as he BC’ed me for the second time. He dried my hair with a flannel and gave me a scalp massage. The challenge was having a barber full of “man dem” watching me shave off my head piece. They must have thought ‘she crazy’ or ‘probaly having a Britney moment’ if their faces were anything to go by!

Also my youngest nephew won’t come near me and has made it clear he doesn’t like my hair. He moves away when I go to kiss him now. I think he thinks I’ve changed into a boy:)
 
Do you have any advice for New Naturals or those who are thinking about going natural but haven’t stopped relaxing/perming/texurising yet?
I say just go for it. I have modelled in the past and am used to my hair being cut off for photo shoots, so I think that it is why I was so comfortable with the BC. But if you are someone who has a lot of length it may be best to just transition until your hair is at a length you feel comfortable with.

Also I would say don’t care about what other people think so much. They don’t pay your bills.
 
Has going natural made a positive change in other parts of your life? 
Yes definitely….I feel like my natural hair holds a lot of power. I feel like my hair says to others ‘this is me… I am comfortable in my own skin.’ There is power in that. Fake hair and everything else is an illusion of beauty. I am a realist and no longer have room for illusions in my life, creating them or perceiving them.

 Huge Thanks to Nicole for allowing me to interview her and thanks to you for reading.

Take Care

Luv

Sian

x

(sorry for the dodgy formatting there’s nothing I can do to fix it, I’ve tried everything!)

My Hair History and Why I went Natural

I had been considering going natural for about a year before I actually properly did it in February 2012.

 Before I get on to my natural hair journey and all that jazz I’ll start from the beginning…

I was born almost 28 years ago with a full head of fuzzy, curly baby hair, my wonderful mother washed and blow-dried my hair every week and created the most amazing beaded and canerowed hairstyles.

This continued until I was about to go into secondary school and my mum gave me the option to either start looking after my own natural hair or get a Texurizer ,  I choose to get a Texurizer as I thought it would be easier for me to look after my hair if my curl pattern was loosened, and it would also make me more grown-up. 

Up to this point I had never washed or styled my own hair not even in a puff or twists. My Mum took me to a professional salon and they applied the chemical and smoothed it in, looking back on it I think it was just a “mild” relaxer  as once my hair was washed out it was bone straight. I loved it though and they blow dried and cut my hair to shoulder length and I was ready for “Big School” I stepped out of the salon with my hair literally flowing in the wind, I thought I was prettier and grown up!

 For the next few years I  mainly wore my hair down and loose, or sometimes in bun/ponytail my Mum did my touch-ups at home and my hair was ok it looked the same as it always had and I didn’t notice that my hair wasn’t growing or should I say I wasn’t retaining any length, anyway I was happy with it and I still had long hair “for a Black Girl” so I was cool.

 Then in about Year 9 (age 13-14) I discovered GEL and pink oil moisturiser! I went to an all girls school and most of the black/mixed girls had relaxed hair and they used to flat twist their hair into all kinds of fabulous intricate styles and gel down their entire fringes (bangs) to theirs faces and while the gel was wet they would use the end of a rat tail comb or their fingers to create pasted down “baby hair” waves and curls. I know it sounds awful but back then it was so cool and in fashion. 

Up until then I’d only had what I considered to be “boring” styles and some of the girls had been asking if they could “do” my hair -one of the biggest hair mistakes I’ve ever made was saying yes and letting my school mates use me as a practice dolly head for around 3 years. Unsurprisingly during that time my hair continued to break and it never grew past my shoulders again. By the time I was in Year 11 (age 15-16) I hated my hair so much I went and got it cut short to around ear length… it was not pretty it was not in a style either it was just hacked off and even worse I couldn’t put it in any kind of style not even two bunches.  My end of School photo was so ugly (in my opinion) that I told my Mum not to buy it. After that cut I wore single plait extensions for a while (box braids) and then continued to relax my hair, I cut my hair the next summer into a style this time and it was hot it was longer at the front than the back and graduated and tapered to my neck I also discovered crazy colour and used to colour my hair “Aubergine” which was a burgundy/purple colour.


 I was happy with short hair and it was quicker and cheaper to look after. I noticed my hair seemed to grow very quickly and I needed to get the back shaped up every week, I learned that the barbers was cheaper and quicker than going to a Hairdressing Salon. Every summer I cut my hair short and every year it grew back which was lucky as I had more than one incident of over processing my relaxer when I couldn’t wait for my Mum to do my hair and I went to any random hair salon. One time when I was about 18 or 19 I went for a touch up and the girl was combing through the chemical with a small toothed metal comb! I knew that wasn’t right but I didn’t have the guts to say anything, when she washed it out I could see loads of my hair in the sink, then she blow dryed and HOT COMBED my hair, up until this point I had never even seen a hot comb – I kid you not they were not needed in my house growing up and I’d never seen any of my friends using one or having one used on them. Thinking back on it my hair was already bone straight and flat as a pancake so I don’t know why she felt the need to hot comb my hair or why I let her do it, to add insult to injury I even paid the girl for the privilege of burning my scalp then hair!
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Needless to say I ended up with a big patch of broken hair, it was too short to even canerow so once again I cut my hair, at that time in my life I was completely against wigs and weave thinking they looked so fake. My Jamaican Grandmother saw me with my short boyish cut again and made me promise not to cut my hair again as it was my “crowning glory” I promised and regretted it instantly but I felt I couldn’t break a promise to my Nanny. I was stuck trying to look after and grow long hair, I wasn;t very successful I didn’t really put much effort into it and do any research or anything. 


Fast forward to me at around age 20 my best friend introduced me to “tracks” her hair looked so nice and believable that I wanted it done to me, my hair was dyed then a light Auburn-ish colour, my Bestie took me to the hair shop and helped me pick out the right colour length and texture and off I went to Maxine in Tooting for her to put my tracks in, I was in love with the result I suddenly had LONG flowing straight Auburn hair which didn’t look exactly natural but matched my dyed and relaxed hair perfectly. I wore weaves almost constantly from age 20 to age 26 mostly long weaves but sometimes short and I was always tonging and curling my hair as I love big hair, I use to love that style that has now become known as the Kim Kardashian, long layers with loose ringlets curled away from the face, the only difference is I had a deep side parting. Image


During this time my Mum had “gone natural” but it wasn’t even a thing then it didn’t have a name she just cut off all her relaxed hair and grew her natural hair out, I thought it looked nice and really suited her but it wasn’t for me I loved my weave and relaxed hair and thought that the long hair made me look glamorous and sexy. I learned about lace front wigs which I wore  in between getting my weaves done, you would never catch me out on road with my real hair out with no additions.
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I don’t know exactly what started it, maybe it was my Mum in fact she definitely had a lot to do with it but as I got older I realised that I didn’t really like the long straight sew-in weave look on me. It seemed every girl on the street had almost the same hairstyle and from the back you could not tell the Ethnicity of most females Black White Asian and every combination  of the above had long straight/layered hair I tried switching up my styles but it still wasn’t me. I’d always tried to be individual and different experimenting with hair colours and customising my clothes getting tattoos etc. I still hadn’t woken up though so instead of stopping the relaxers and sew-ins I was looking for a new type of hair addition and came across micro-ring extensions I didn’t know any one who had them and thought this was a way of being different again so I went for a consultation with a lady in Wimbledon, she quoted me about £600 for a full head of micro-rings including the hair! I did not have that kind of money and even if I did at around 25 I wasn’t spending the money on some HAIR! I went back on-line and discovered a lady called Sarah who did keratin extensions I read up about them and decided it didn’t sound so bad, and so I called her up and she was so nice she explained everything to me and sent me to her Facebook page so I could see her handiwork, one of her photos was of a black girl with relaxed hair so I contacted that girl and asked her a few questions, I was satisfied with her responses so I booked an  appointment with Sarah. On the day it was all very straight forward and around 4 hours, £200 and 400 bonded extensions later I left with 22 inches of silky straight Indian hair which was not at all bumpy and I could part the hair any where I wanted and even have a high pony tail! I was back,! fashion forward and rocking a type of hair extension that of my friends or family had ever done. I loved those extensions, I wore them for months and months, my hair grew out but I didn’t see any reason to take them out, I just relaxed my edges myself and flat ironed the middle of my hair, I curled the hair and ironed it and dyed it and so on it was like I’d always had that hair… 
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Until finally after about 4-5 months I thought it would be time to take the extensions out, they had grown out too much, I was instructed to use needle nose pliers and pure acetone to remove the keratin bonds (why didn’t alarm bells ring when I was told this?!) I soaked each bond in acetone then used the pliers to crack and crumble the bonds away after about an hour I’d done maybe 3 bonds and I had 397 left! I asked my then Boyfriend to help me and it was slow painful experience, I’d left the extensions in far too long and with they heat I’d been using I’d fused my hair onto the outside of the bonds and fused several bonds together in clumps it was an impossible task. In the end I asked my Boyfriend if he minded me cutting my hair to get rid of the extensions he didn’t mind and so I hacked away at the middle of my hair and got rid of it all, I wish I’d taken photos I really do but getting a camera was the last thing on my mind. Just imagine a few inches of natural regrowth with straggly relaxed ends round the perimeter of my head then crusty choppy hair in the middle it was a mess and no amount of conditioner was allowing me to de-tangle my whole head so I cut out some more hair but managed to save my edges. I still hadn’t woken up so I decided to get kinky twist extensions until my hair grew back a bit and I could get a relaxer, during that time I decided that I did not need a relaxer if my hair was always going to be in extensions, I discussed this with my Boyfriend and he didn’t mind me quitting relaxers so I stopped relaxing but I didn’t want to get rid of my (remaining) length I don’t know why I was hanging on to it , I really don’t and my hair was in a terrible state when I would take out my extensions and wash my hair my relaxed hair was getting so tangled it was too painful so I eventually ended up cutting off most of my relaxed ends I had been thinking more and more about going natural and that was as good a time as any. 


Thinking back on it I was transitioning but I did not know the term for it, I wore protective styles intending to keep wearing them until my hair was long. That lasted only about 8ish months during that time my Boyfriend asked my Father for my hand in Marriage, my dad accepted and we got Married on a TV show (yes it happened that quickly more about that in a later blog if I get any requests to explain it.) I had very short natural hair when I was getting preparing for my wedding and filming the lead up to the big day and I had worn along dark brown weave the entire time, for continuity I had to keep the same hair style, I could have pretended I cut my hair for my wedding day and rocked my short natural but I was not confident enough, I wanted a sweeping up do for my wedding day so I asked advice from a friend and she suggested we go lace wig shopping so one day we jumped in the car and went to Harlesden in North London to do some serious wig shopping! Luckily I knew exactly what I wanted and quite quickly I found a loosely curled, human hair, lace front wig in chestnut brown with light brown/caramel highlights. My hair on my wedding day did look beautiful but I wish I’d had the confidence to wear my short natural hair.            

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After my wedding I wanted a weave that looked more realistic so I spent around £200 on long Afro Kinky Weave hair from Holland (of all places) the hair looked really nice but I made the mistake of telling a girl I worked with at the time where I got the hair and the next week she rocked in to the office with my hair style my EXACT hair style down to the layering and side parting. ImageI was so VEX  that night I went on-line for some new weave and found a US site that specialised in silk based closures, I thought that was a good idea so I did some research and went to YouTube and made, up my mind to order the hair it was around £400 for shipping and a hair bundle which was two long tracks of Brazilian wavy hair and a closure the site said that was enough for a whole head weave. I received an email from the US postal service saying that my hair was stopped at UK customs, I followed the link and found out that I had to pay £97.00 UK taxes for my hair to be released! I was so mad but I couldn’t leave the hair there so I had to pay for it. Once I’d collected the hair and had it installed it was pretty but not worth practically £500.00 around that time my nephew was born and I went to the hospital to see him and lots of photos were taken.
 
My hair looked so fake and shiny in the photos I hated it, I told my husband I didn’t want to wear weave any more and he was fine with it, he said he didn’t marry me for my hair and he wanted me to be happy so I took that weave out trimmed my hair and rocked my TWA for the first time mid February 2012, it was liberating and it only took about 1 week before I dyed it!