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.

2014-04-04 09.20.00

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.

2014-04-11 07.56.09

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.

2014-05-06 06.09.10

(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?

 2014-06-01 17.02.52 (1)

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

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

x

Advertisements

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.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

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!

SONY DSC

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.

ManeDivas1

md4

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.

md6

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:

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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.

NHA Paris 2014!

Hello my Naturalistas!

SONY DSC

I wish they had also printed an English version of this magazine…

The 3rd Annual Natural Hair Academy Paris was held on Saturday 15th March 2014 at L’Espace Tapis Rouge in Paris!

As you know I had made a decision not to go to any more “Natural Hair Events” but I really wanted to see if France could offer anything different to the UK Natural Hair events I’ve been to in the past.

I paid for my everything myself  on this trip -unless I specifically state something was free, I mention this so you know that my review/recap is honest and non-biased, I did not have a wristband or VIP access to the event. I’m not saying that VIP’s are  dishonest I’m just making it clear that I haven’t been paid or “gifted” to write this review.

When purchasing tickets to the event there were three options:

Option one – The Felicia Leatherwood Workshop 35.00 Euros

Option two – The Monroe Sisters & Clarisse Libene Workshop 35.00 Euros

Option three – All of the workshops 60.00 Euros

Although I had never heard of the Monroe Sisters or Clarisse Libene before the event I decided to Purchase the 60 Euro ticket so that I could fully experience the event. I went to Paris with my Mum so I bought her an all-workshops ticket too.

Before booking my accommodation I contacted the organiser Gwladys  and asked for some tips on where to stay and if the workshops would be in both French and English, Gwladys was extremely helpful and answered all of my many questions leading up to the event itself.

Gwladys also invited me to the NHA Launch/Cocktail  party which was held at the venue the evening before the main event.

The Cocktail party was due to start at 18:30 but everything wasn’t quite ready on time, that wasn’t a big issue as there were enough punctual guests there for me to mix & mingle with and  practice my French on!

I met a couple of the French Bloggers I follow:

SONY DSC

Gaelle From the Curvy and Curly Closet

SONY DSC

The Lovely Deborah

The Cocktail Party was really a Panel discussion -entitled Curls and Discussion  the subject matter was of course Hair more specifically wearing your natural hair with confidence, the panel also told us personal hair anecdotes.

The discussion was hosted by the delightfully witty, elegant and bilingual Clarisse Libene founder of Bellebene (far left with the microphone and black & white head wrap.)

The beauties on the Panel were (from left to right) : Kelly Masso founder of French hair brand Les Secrets de Loly,  Kelly J the founder of Natural Girls Rock, The Monroe Sisters, Felicia Leatherwood and Fatou- French Blogger and beauty editor of Ghubar Magazine.

SONY DSC

Les Secrets de Loly were also giving all the attendees the opportunity to receive a free gift of a hydrating repairing mist and a customised 100% natural hair masque, we were able to select an “active ingredient” such as hydration, silkening, or protein and a fragrance I won’t list all of the fragrances but I chose the White Tea fragrance and it smells lovely, I can’t wait to try it out!

SONY DSC

Kelly hard at work with the hair masques

SONY DSC2014-03-14 21.19.52 (1)

After the discussion Mum and I went to grab some hot food and go to bed we’d had a long day after a long week at work…

We were staying in the gorgeous bijou L’Horset Opera Hotel which is on Rue d’Antin, 5 minutes’ walk away from the famous Parisian Opera House.

Our Hotel

2014-03-16 12.24.21

The Opera House – Palais Garnier

The Opera Metro station is right in front of the Palais Garnier so it was really easy for us to get around the city, while we were in Paris their entire public transport system was free because there were record levels or air pollution in the city and the government wanted to try and encourage people to leave their cars at home and use public transport.

The Parisian Metro system was very easy to navigate, but maybe that’s because I understand quite a bit of French and I’m used to London’s complicated underground network and NYC’s crazy Subways!

The Metro was a bit basic – you have to open the doors yourself (I hate touching anything on public transport and wore gloves the whole time)

Some of the doors only have a metal latch that can operate the doors whilst the train is in motion! I jumped off quite a few moving trains over the weekend, once the train was in a station and had slowed down of course!

The trains were also a bit old and grubby with lots of graffiti and the aroma of urine lingering in most carriages (bearing in mind we only used lines 7 and 9 the entire weekend.)

The Main Event

SONY DSC

There were 3 main workshops for the day, each workshop ran concurrently and repeated 3 times so that all of the ticket holders could attend their workshops, it would have been a nightmare to have all 1000+ attendees in one room for each workshop and I don’t think there was an auditorium large enough any way.

If my explanation seems  complicated please look at my table below: the timings and room numbers are not exact but you should get a better idea of how it worked.

Room Number 10:30 11:45 16:45
Room 1 Monroe Sisters Clarisse Libene Felicia Leatherwood
Room 2 Clarisse Libene Felicia Leatherwood Monroe Sisters
Room 3 Felicia Leatherwood Monroe Sisters Clarisse Libene

 

The Monroe sisters are very pretty (as you can see) and they both have full heads of natural hair, so they each know what works for their hair.

monroe sisters1.jpg

I found their workshop to be better suited to newly naturals or women who haven’t done their own research about hair already. The Monroe Sisters had a live protective styling demo on a girl they picked out of the audience, I was impressed by Ms Vaughn’s ability to style hair live on stage while answering questions from the audience and with everything being translated into French simultaneously but the finished style was not to my taste, plus I would have liked to see the demo on  a girl with  shorter hair, or a transitioner – I think that would have been more useful but I’m aware that they only had a certain amount of time for each workshop.  SONY DSC

After the demo, the Monroe sisters shared their hair regimen with the audience I always think that telling people your own hair regimen can be a bit of a red herring and give newbies false hope because- as we all know everyone’s hair is different and what works for one Naturalista would not necessarily work for everyone else. A basic instruction on what steps can be included in our hair regimen is definitely useful  for newly naturals but copying someone else’s exact hair regimen and thinking that your hair will turn out exactly like theirs is never a good idea. The Monroe sisters plugged the Huetiful steamer at every opportunity but that is to be expected as Huetiful sponsor them, they even showed a video showing how to use the steamer as part of their workshop the video was mute but there was a French voice over, considering that the Monroe sisters are not fluent in French themselves I think they could have at least had English subtitles on the video but maybe they did not have any control over that element of production.

The finished style

The finished style

My next workshop wasn’t until 13:45 so I wandered over to the Phyto Specific “Hair Diagnostic” area, I was able to walk straight in and talk to Kathy Jean-Louis, the director of Phyto Specifc she was very knowledgeable about the brand and how it was developed. I didn’t intend to buy any hair products on this trip as I am as self-confessed Product Junkie and my Husband had to build me a special shelf just to house all of my hair products. Ms Jean-Louis didn’t try to sell me anything and there weren’t actually any products lined up anywhere, It was really nice not to feel pressured into buying anything, instead Ms J-L asked me if I wanted a hair diagnostic so I sat down with one of her colleagues who used a high-powered microscope with a live camera and monitor to examine my hair and scalp close up. The lady who was doing my hair diagnosis only spoke a little English but since I speak a bit of French I managed to understand my hair diagnosis.  I learned that my scalp and hair were well nourished and hydrated, I have a mixture of fine and medium hair strands and lower down on my strands – towards the tips my cuticles are frayed and damaged but my hair is not snapping off at the ends.

SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSC

I know my ends are bad because of the chemical damage from colouring my hair if you read my blog then you know that I am transitioning out of this chemical damage without big chopping my hair again, I simply coloured my ends Black with a gentle powder box colour and I’m keeping it moving.  The hair diagnosis lady recommended a few Phyto Specific products I might like to try and I bought a few of them, the actual products were stored behind a screen partition and there was a desk where I could make my purchases the whole experience was really interesting and not rushed or pressured, I even got a couple of free gifts, a beige patent bag- which is guess is to store make-up or products since it has no handles and a free sample of the Phyto Specific  deep treatment bath. SONY DSC

Later in the day the queue for the Phyto Specific hair diagnostic was so long it snaked down the grand staircase and into the main hall, I think they were a victim of their own success a couple of my friends waited for over 3 hours in that queue!

The Clarisse Libene workshop was in partnership with the “Jane Carter Solution” Jane Carter was there by the side of the stage but she was more of a silent partner – at least in my version of the workshop. Lisa Price the founder of Carol’s Daughter was also invited on stage to say a few words.

From L -R Jane Carter, Lisa Price, Clarisse Libene

From L -R Jane Carter, Lisa Price, Clarisse Libene

Although Clarisse is fluent in English she did not give any part of her workshop in English and there was no English translation at all which was a real shame because with my limited French I could only understand 50-60% of Clarisse’s workshop and even then I found it to be the most interesting and informative workshop of the day. Clarisse’s workshop actually went into the science of our hair and the different growth cycles she also talked about the internal and external factors that can affect both hair growth and retention.

SONY DSC

I personally found Clarisse’s workshop the most helpful because rather than just go on about how she washes her own hair and what products she uses, Clarisse actually gave honest factual and practical information that any woman, relaxed or natural could understand and in some cases implement.  At the end of Clarisse’s workshop there was an informative quiz with multiple choice questions, at the end of the quiz Clarisse gave everyone the correct answers so they could mark their scores down and the girls who had the best scores were rewarded with a full sized Jane Carter product each.

SONY DSC Clarisse has an amazing stage presence and such a dry sense of humour that I thoroughly enjoyed her workshop even though I  couldn’t understand every single word.

SONY DSC

 

My last workshop of the day was the Felicia Leatherwood “Loving Your Hair With Natural Care “workshop. Felicia’s workshop was really good, before she started her workshop Lisa Price the founder of Carol’s Daughter came on stage to say a few words, Lisa was really sweet and humble and just said a few words about how she started her company (with body products first not hair products) and she said she was really happy to be part of the event and glad to see to many different women representing so many types of beautiful.

Felicia started off by selecting girls from the audience and explaining their hair types and what kind of regime/styling suits each hair type, apparently the way to accurately assess your hair type is when your hair is wet. Felicia also gave lots of helpful information regarding going to hairstylists, how to detangle your hair and when to trim your hair – when the season changes so 4 times per year. Felicia recommends that Jamaican Black Castor Oil is applied to your scalp not your hair at least three times per week where it can be absorbed into your scalp and act as a fertiliser for your follicles. Felicia also did 3 live hair demonstrations on girls from the audience and showed us how to recreate this gorgeous style she did on Teyonah Parris’ natural tresses:

hair demo 1

Roughly one week prior to the event we were emailed and given the opportunity to enter our tickets into a draw for a bonus workshop given by the famous Taren Guy (aka Taren916 on YouTube).

Taren Guy

My tickets were chosen in the draw and I made sure I entered the hall early so I could actually get a seat. This was the only workshop where tickets were actually checked!

Taren’s workshop started a little bit late but it wasn’t too bad, Taren (and her hair) looked fabulous as usual.

Taren was glowing with her pregnancy and she looked very comfortable in skyscraper heels and skinny jeans with a loose denim-look silk embellished top.

SONY DSC

As for the actual content of Taren’s “workshop” I will just say that I don’t think I was her target audience… Taren told us about her hair journey (like most of her subscribers I’ve heard it already on YT) Taren also invited two girls from the audience who don’t like their hair texture and spoke to them about why they don’t like their textures but also what they do like about their textures.

SONY DSC

I was glad to get the opportunity to attend Taren’s very popular “Love and Learn your Hair” workshop,

I am subscribed to Taren’s YT channel and I know she has toured with her workshop so I was interested to see what all of the Hype was about, but at NHA Paris Taren herself admitted that she is not a hair expert and she usually has a stylist with her on tour to answer specific hair related questions. Most of the women in the audience were acting as if Taren is the Beyoncé of the “Natural Hair Community” and queued up for ages after the workshop to take photos with her, in fact as Taren entered the hall before she started the workshop,  the room was illuminated with hundreds of flashes as if the room was full of Paparazzi! I have respect and admiration for every sister doing it for herself but I don’t fawn over people or make a big fuss over “celebrities.”

As well as the three main ticketed workshops there were also free workshops given by Mixed Chicks and Huetiful. On the ground floor there were many pop-up shops representing hair and beauty brands. Les Secrets de Loly also did a live big chop but I missed the actual chopping.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

I didn’t attend the free workshops because in between my paid workshops, I was eating and shopping with my Mum, networking with other NHA attendees and exploring the nearby area in Paris’ 10th Arrondissement including Boulevard de Strasbourg also known as “Black Paris” but I (affectionately) nicknamed the area “Black Sister’s Street” because of the way most of the female workers in the Salons were dressed and after the novel “On Black Sister’s Street “by Chika Unigwe-  it is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it. *

I digress please forgive me… All in all I did enjoy NHA Paris but there are a few aspects that could be improved upon. I would attend again but I would carefully think about which workshops I would attend to get the most benefit, value for money and enjoyment. I enjoyed the networking aspect of the event and will definitely be returning to Paris to build upon some of the relationships I formed last weekend and to further explore the city.

The Good, The Bad & The Beautiful

Good:

One thing I thought was particularly good is that each workshop was signed for at least one session, I believe it was only in French Sign Language but it was still fantastic as I have been to countless Natural Hair events and none of them have been signed. Kudos to you for arranging that Gwladys.

The Event was the best Natural Hair Event I have been to so far, the vendors were not pushy and trying to shove products down your throat.

The Venue which I believe translates  to The Red Carpet Space – was gorgeous and large enough to accommodate every one without feeling clautrophobic or cramped.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

All of the advertised speakers were actually there on the day!

Gwladys the organiser was at the event all day and was checking if we were ok and enjoying ourselves.

The toilets were well maintained and cleaned throughout the day.

Bad:

I bought 2 tickets for all of the main workshops at 60 Euros each. What really annoyed me is that once you were in E’Space Tapis Rouge tickets were not checked again, so people who had only paid for the cheaper tickets were able to get into all of the paid workshops or people were attending workshops they had paid for but at the wrong time -subsequently there were not enough seats in each of the workshops and I ended up standing in a couple of the workshops, I asked one of the NHA representatives/translators about this and I was rudely told that “we intentionally oversold the seats so if you do not have a seat that is your own problem”       (I did ask Gwladys the organiser about this and she informed me that seats were not intentionally oversold.) Either way that was really disorganised and unfair to people who had paid full price for the same workshops that other people were getting into for free.

There was a lot of security around inside the venue and near the doors to each workshop but I don’t know what their purpose was because they certainly were not checking tickets!

The temperature in each workshop was either freezing or sweltering.

There was nowhere in the venue to sit down and just chill, to eat your snacks or whatever so many girls were sitting all over the floor and stairs.

The day was way too long, by the time it was Taren’s workshop Mum and I were so tired, it really was a very long day but at the same time there were not enough hours to see and hear everything that was going on.

Beautiful:

All of my sisters! It was fantastic to be in such a grand space with so many beautiful women and there was so much positivit in the atmosphere.

Merci beaucoup Gwladys pour une telle journée agréable et bien remplie!

Me and Gwladys the organiser of NHA Paris

Me and Gwladys the organiser of NHA Paris

Thanks for Reading!

Luv

Sian

*I am aware of the seriousness of the topics covered in the novel. I am not making light of these issues, I am referring to the visual aspect when looking at the particular street in Paris.

Man Made Afro!

Hello my Cakers, Bakers and Beauties!

The other day I was in my local “hood salon” and I saw this man (below) getting his hair done.

Image

The Afro before cutting and shaping.

I was literally fascinated and asked him if I could ask him a few questions and take a couple of photos, he agreed but as he was in  a rush he asked me if I could email him the questions instead of asking then and there. I dutifully emailed him later that day, but I am yet to receive a response  maybe I copied his email address incorrectly. Who knows?

Image

Back View before cutting and shaping

What I did manage to find out is that this gentleman name is Marlon and he is originally from Trinidad but grew up in NYC.

The style took 1.5 hours and was achieved by using the “pick and drop method” using synthetic kinky hair

(just over 1 &  a half packs, Colour 27, Aftress Elysse Star £4.99 per pack ). Marlon already had blond natural hair a little bit longer than a TWA, the stylist did not braid the very centre of his hair with extensions because the density was already enough with just the edges done, as you can see from my photos, you cannot tell that the middle does not have any extensions.

If you would like this style, depending on your braider you should expect to pay between £35-50 pounds in London, personally I would negotiate around £40 and tip the braider if I like the service/salon.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the pick and drop method it is a way of installing hair extensions where the stylist begins by braiding a piece of hair into a small parted section of hair growing out of the person’s head, but stops braiding after roughly an inch and seals the hair with a knot or sometimes glue.

pick and drop 2

The loose end of the braid is usually styled to blend in with the person’s own hair. Unless your hair is very short or the extension is braided past the ends of your own hair, pick and drop is not really a protective style as the oldest and most fragile parts of your hair – the ends are exposed to the elements and are sometimes manipulated by the brushing and combing that is done to style and detangle the loose hair. You do have a lot of styling versatility with Pick and Drop Styles and in my experience it is a lot easier to clean, dry and moisturise your real hair in braids rather than a weave, but to each her own.

Below are some more examples of Pick & Drop styles

(none of these images belong to me, if the image belongs to you and you would like credit or for me to remove the image let me know.)

 pick-and-drop1 pick and drop 3pick and drop 4

As you can see Pick and Drop Styles can be achieved with practically any type of extension, your braider will be able to advise you further.

Image

The Finished Look!

I really liked this style and I think that it is a great way to boost your ‘Fro. I will definitely be trying this style in the future, not in blond of course!

Image

Oh and Sheryl Underwood if you are reading this, (not likely I know) here is proof that people want Afro-textured hair extensions !

Every day on the streets of London I see people with many types of kinky curly extensions wigs and weaves!
Image
Image

Thank you to Marlon for being such a great sport!

Thanks to you for reading my blog.

Luv

Sian

x

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!
Image
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.
Image

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… 
Image
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.            

Image
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!