NHA Paris 2014!

Hello my Naturalistas!

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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:

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Gaelle From the Curvy and Curly Closet

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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.

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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!

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Kelly hard at work with the hair masques

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

At Home With Ayamour Afro Hair Styling

Hi My Cakers, Bakers and Beauties!

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Do you remember that I won a free hair styling session with Ayamour at Curlvolution?

Well on 8th June I had a wedding to go to so I contacted Angela from Ayamour to ask if she could squeeze me in on the morning of the 8th. Lovely Angela said yes and we arranged the appointment for 10:30 AM.

Angela is currently a mobile stylist so she had asked that my hair was washed, conditioned and moisturised prior to her arrival at my home. I followed the instructions and flat twisted my hair in two big twists to go to sleep. In the morning my hair was still slightly damp but Angela said she was happy to work from damp as you know it it better to style kinky curly hair from damp as it is more pliable and “elastic” when damp.

This is the before photo, I had just undone the flat twists, excuse the cheesy grin, I am very much a morning person:

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Angela Set out her tools and got to work, we chatted the whole time about hair and cakes and life in the UK and everything else you can think of.

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Angela is so nice and friendly and didn’t hurt or pull my hair once, when I met her at Curlvolution my spirit took to her immediately which is why I accepted the offer of a free hair styling session. As I’ve mentioned before I’m very particular about who touches Soleil!

Angela had asked me what kind of style I would like and I asked for an updo but I left the exact styling to Angela’s imagination. I have learned that sometimes it’s best to let the stylist work their magic, many a time I have been in the Bespoke Hairstyles chair with a photo or an idea in mind for my hair style and M&H have just done their own thing but it has always been much better than the style I originally wanted!

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Angela pinned it all down first to show me how I could change up the finished look of the style:

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Some of the twists were then unravelled to add some more height and drama to the finished look

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The entire styling session took around 2.5 hours it probably would have been shorter if we didn’t take so many photos! Angela’s hands are very gentle I definitely would book another stykling session with her and I highly recommend her to other London based naturals. I’m not sure how far out of London Angela travels your best bet is to contact Ayamour  yourself to find out:

ayamour.angela@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/Ayamour

Ayamour also sell luxurious pure silk accessories and organic hair products.

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My Ayamour Silk Eye Mask

Find out more about Ayamour Here.

Thanks for reading!

Luv

Sian

x

My Natural Hair Journey So Far…

Little Sian, 1987 or '88

Little Sian, 1987 or ’88

1989..ish

1989..ish

Sorry for the delay in writing the rest of my Hair Journey, I’ve been quite busy lately.

A quick update on my current hair style… I couldn’t bear to keep the kinky twists in any longer, they were getting so messy and there was so much slippage that they had to come out. I removed my kinky twists on 22nd March, so I had them in for just under 3 weeks. So much for keeping them in for the whole of March! I just couldn’t do it, I missed my hair even though from day to day I don’t know what to do with it sometimes.

It took me around 3.5 hours  to remove the twists as I only used my fingers to undo the twists without cutting the ends of the twists as they were the same length as my own hair and I didn’t want to accidentally cut any of my hair off, I used my water spray bottle to moisten and loosen each twist before and during removal. I took my time to de-tangle each twist at the root so I wouldn’t lose much hair, but some hair loss was inevitable as the hairs that would have normally been lost via natural shedding have not been able to escape the confines of the twists. After removing all of the twists I finger detangled a bit and applied my raw organic virgin 100% pure coconut oil as a pre-poo treatment. I wrapped my hair with cling film and then put on a woolly hat to encourage some heat to generate. After that I went to bed to allow time for the coconut oil to penetrate into my strands before washing my hair. I realise that without pictures you’re only really getting half of the story so next time I promise to take pictures.

Anyway back to my natural journey… In my last post about why I went natural I ended it by saying  it took me only 1 week to dye my natural hair, once I’d decided to rock my natural hair out and stop wearing my curly weave.  I dyed it with a Dark and Lovely Box Dye Kit I dyed it brownish but It didn’t really show up that much as I didn’t read the instructions properly!

In my first few weeks of rocking my TWA I really didn’t know what to do with my hair as I felt it was so short and I can’t canerow my own hair I pretty much tied a scarf round my hair line and pushed it back a bit to make a mini Afro Puff.

I searched and searched for natural salons online but most of them really only deal with Locks I found a place in Stratford called Purely Natural and I called and booked an appointment. I didn’t have a fantastic experience at that Salon and it was too expensive, I paid £45.00 for a simple two strand twist style with canerow on one side at the front, The style was similar to this: 

But of course my hair was much, much shorter than this, Sorry no photo of my actual style it took about one hour for the stylist to twist my hair as it was already washed and dried when I arrived. I decided to get a pedi-mani in their beauty parlour downstairs and before I left the Salon my  hair was starting to unravel! I told the stylist and he accused me of doing it myself!! As if I’d ruin my manicure! Anyway I decided I wasn’t going back there ever again and looked for other stylists I found a Company called Bespoke Hair Styles…

I contacted them via Facebook but they were so busy I couldn’t get an appointment until April but I really liked the photos of their work so  I accepted the appointment and waited wore my hair in Puffs until then…

My first Bespoke Hair Style  April 2012.

My first Bespoke Hair Style April 2012.

4. First Bespoke Hair Style April 14 20125. First Bespoke Hair Style April 14 2012

The Ladies of Bespoke Hairstyles, M and H work from home in Essex, they are two strong, independent business women and they are so talented with hair it’s unbelievable. The M, Melissa welcomed me into her home offered me a hot drink and introduced me to her friend/business partner Hugette, I felt so comfortable immediately it was like I’d known them for ages they asked me about what I do and I told them about my cakes and since then, they have been my biggest supporters outside my family. Melissa and Hugette have inspired me so much and still do to this day they are pretty much like family to me now.

This style lasted about 4 weeks until I got bored of it and started to miss my hair,  it was still quite neat by then but I get bored easily so I took it out and for the next few weeks I wore my Afro out and wore puffs again, I dyed my hair again and this time it actually worked.

6. Freshly Washed 24th June  2012

Freshly Washed no products. June 24th 2012

Freshly Washed no products. June 24th 2012

8. Freshly Washed 24th June 2012 Full Front View

The colour was called Rich Auburn (Dark and Lovely #374) and I loved it. I’ve always loved hair colour and I couldn’t stay away from it.  My hair had grown a bit by then but because of “Shrinkage” you can’t really tell.

I most often wore my hair out with some pinned back. This is me in June 2012 again with a “wash and go” hair style.

10. 22nd June 2012 with eyes

This is me on holiday in Ibiza late June 2012, I did feel a bit self conscious being the only Black girl in my bunch wearing her natural hair out but it was important to me to keep my hair out and not get a protective style to go on holiday as I always used to do.

11. Ibiza side puff June 2012

In all that Sun and drinking tons of water and running up and down my hair grew quite a bit over Summer 2012, this is me in July 2012.

12. 10th July 2012 Top View13. 10th July 2012

In August 2012 I decided to get my hair coloured professionally and have it trimmed and flat ironed, I was mad to do it all on one day I had highlights bleached into the front of my hair, and my hair was blow dried and flat ironed, thinking about it now I’m surprised there is still any hair left on my head.

14. Blonde and Straight August 2012

To be honest though my hair didn’t really break after this torture, I think because I had it done in a professional salon and they used protecting serums and what not my hair didn’t really suffer too much.

In November 2012 I went back to Bespoke Hair styles and got this Asymmetric flat twist style, I loved it!

15.  More Flat Twists November 201216. More Flat Twists November 2012

I kept this style in for about a month and went back just before Christmas, I wasn’t sure what I wanted but I knew I wanted an updo, they created this amazing swirled up do with the ends of my hair threaded with wool and wound into a bun.  This was a protective style as my ends were safely tucked away. The ends of our hair are the oldest part and are therefore most susceptible to damage.

18. Threading and Flat Twist 20 December 2012 19. Threading and Flat Twist November 2012

In Jan 2013 I tried something different and used bendy rollers to set my hair.

20. First Flexi rod set 16 Jan 201321. First Flexi rod set fluffed 16 Jan 201322. First Flexi rod set day 5 . 17 Jan 2013

As much as I loved the blonde/brown colour I didn’t want to keep chemically colouring my hair as I knew it wasn’t good for my hair, I’d done more research into natural hair and learned that I could use pure natural Henna and other herbs to colour and condition my hair. With true Henna you can only get shades of Red/Orange I wanted a deep red colour so I chose Henna from Yemen as it is known for it’s deep colouring. I’ll do a post on how I do my henna another day.

So I went from this… 23. Henna Before 30 Jan 2013

to this 24. Henna After 30 Jan 2013 my hair is not damaged it’s just longer on the left.

The colour is a lovely deep red colour on my lighter ends and only has a slight subtle red hint on my darker roots.

I went back to Bespoke hairstyles and they flat twisted this beautiful vintage style.

25. January 31st 2013, red vintage twists

That was the end of January 2013. I have learned so much in the last year and my thirst for knowledge continues. I’m sorry for the lack of photos, I never intended to blog about my hair journey so the photos were only meant to be for me. I plan on taking many more photos in future.

If you are thinking about going natural just do it, it can be hard at times I’m not going to lie but it’s worth it, if you look after your hair it will grow and flourish.

Take Care.

xSx