Girly NYC Trip and Let Your Hair Down Expo 2014!

Hello my Lovelies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nneka and her amazing boutique-truck

Nneka and her amazing boutique-truck

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

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

Excuse the quality this was a selfie taken on the subway

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

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

Hair Porn in the queue.

Hair Porn in the queue.

Session one consisted of two workshops:

Presenting Felicia Leatherwood!

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

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Live with The Curl Whisperer! Tameeka’s Transformations

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

(lavender text from www.letyourhairdownexpo.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me and Torsha

Me and Torsha

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

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

x

Queen Nzingha Lectures- Featuring Crystal Afro & Kandace Chimbiri

Hello My Cakers Bakers and Beauties!

This one is for the Londoners or those that can travel to London easily…

For about the last six months I have been attending the Queen Nzingha Lectures at Birkberk college University of London.

The lectures are organised by A National Association of Black Saturday Schools www.nabss.org.uk  and www.blackhistorywalks.co.ukproduction.

This is the description of the lectures from the Black History Walks website.

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Queen Nzinga was an African Queen who fought against the European invasion of southern Africa (Congo/Angola).

The Queen Nzinga lecture series features African/Caribbean female academics / holders of expert knowledge, speaking on topics of their choice on a monthly basis. The Nzinga lecture series provides a regular platform for women of African descent to highlight important issues in  an academic setting. 

I have really been enjoying these FREE lectures and have learned so much more about my history and culture. On Saturday 12th April the Queen Nzingha lecture was entitled:

African Hair Police : Death and Discrimination on your head

Obviously that caught my attention and I was even more excited to hear that UK Natural Hair Blogger Crystal Afro was one of the Queens  speaking at this lecture. The other Queen was Kandace Chimbiri, the founder of Golden Destiny publishing house and author of the book “Secrets Of The Afro Comb“.

The Lecture was opened by Tony Warner who talked about how hair texture and curl patterns were also used along with skin tone to discriminate and segregate people of colour around the world by their oppressors.

Tony’s introduction really brought the topic into context and as always I learned a bit more about Black History. Tony’s introduction covered:

  • The Pencil Test
  • The Haarfarbentel ‘racial value’ test
  • Africans in Germany during World War 2
  • Genocide by sex. Australia vs Brazil
  • How and why African hair became devalued
  • Hair vs skin as a tool of discrimination

Tony then introduced Ms Chimbiri who gave us an amazing audio-visual talk which linked the seemingly unrelated topics of colonialism in Southern Africa, World War 1,The Stolen Generation, Hitler’s Germany, the Black Power movement, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lupita Nyongo and everyday life for women of African descent in England in the present day.

We had a short break and were able to actually look at a genuine historical artefact the “Haarfarbentafel” owned by UCL Museums and Collections this rare Haarfarbentafel (hair colour chart) which was manufactured in the early 20th century as a ‘standard’ scale for hair hierarchy, people were killed if their hair did match up to the samples in the “right” end of the scale. Looking at this object both fascinated and disgusted simultaneously.

The Haararbentafel

The Haararbentafel

Crystal Afro spoke next and she first challenged us to come up with a list of 5 well known celebrated British women of African Descent first from different decades in history then in 2014  once we had shouted out our answers she then asked the same question but added “with natural hair”, we actually could not come up with 5 well known and celebrated “Black British” women with natural hair, if you can please add your list in the comments below, and by well known I mean the average person on the street would know who the women are.

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Crystal explained that when she first decided to stop chemically straightening her hair, she struggled to find examples of well known Black British women who didn’t chemically straighten their hair, in fact even the Sisters on the internet who were going through their “Natural Hair Journeys” were almost exclusively American. That was one of the reasons that Crystal set up her blog The United Kinkdom. In fact The United Kinkdom was my best source of support and knowledge in my first days of going natural and I still follow the blog today.

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Crystal delivered her part of the lecture with intellectual style and aplomb, unlike a few of the Natural Hair Bloggers I’ve met, Crystal is not style over substance, she cares deeply about the health not just the looks of our Sisters and takes her passion for natural hair beyond the scalp . Crystal actually stayed for almost two hours after the talk and had one-on-one conversations with every single one of the ladies in the audience who wanted to speak with her, I might sound a bit like a fan and I guess in a way I am, I really support what Crystal is trying to do and it helps that she is so sweet and humble as well.

After the Lecture we watched an exclusive ten minute  advance preview  of the new film from Toyin Agbetu “Beauty Is”  and then we had extended Q and A  with Ms Chimbiri, Crystal and Mr Agbetu on the Panel.

The Panel from  L-R Ms Chimbiri, Crystal Afro, Mr Agbetu

The Panel from L-R Ms Chimbiri, Crystal Afro, Mr Agbetu

The Q and A was mainly about hair of course and the panellists were all asked some quite confrontational and challenging questions by members of the audience, but they all  answered the questions honestly, tactfully and professionally even though they still put some people in their place when they were asking questions that showed they were not listening properly to some of the information that had been shared earlier. Crystal even admitted that she cried for 2 weeks when she first went natural and I think that type of information is important to share because not everyone is immediately  in love with their natural hair when they big chop, but you wouldn’t know that from the way that most Naturalistas present themselves and their hair stories. I certainly was not in love with my TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) in the beginning and that is why there are no photos of me with my hair like that. I wish I had taken the pics then because it would have been nice to look back on them, but oh well I do not have a time machine…

Here is a clip from the Q and A session please forgive the quality of pics and video in this post, I was using my phone:

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

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Product Review: Heavenly Hair and Scalp Intensive Treatment Shampoo & Conditioner + Hair Cream

Hello Naturalistas!

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I was given these products to review, but as usual my review is completely honest. Please remember everyone’s hair is different and just because a product may or may not have worked for my hair it doesn’t mean that your hair will react in the same way to the product/s.

I have decided to use a version of the “Evelyn from the Internets” rating system from now on, hair products will get a rating of Afro Puffs  “0” being awful and “10” being amazing. Body/Skin Products will get a rating of Skin Cells between 0 and 10 same as for hair products.

The Shampoo

The shampoo is paraben and sulphate free which is fantastic. It smells really really nice like Pink Fruitella, if you don’t know what that smells like, it smells sweet but not sickly with a strong smell of wild berries. The shampoo is a medium consistency and slightly creamy, it did lather up a lot which worried me but, it did not leave my hair feeling stripped when I rinsed it out  although my hair did feel nice and clean.

Ingredients: Aqua, Sodium, Organic Aloe Vera, Mint Essential Oil, Sulphur, Wild Berries Essential Oil, Argan Oil, Glycerine, Castor OilJojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Moringa.

I’m confused about the listing of Sodium, I’m sure it doesn’t contain PURE Sodium, obliviously it’s a sodium compound but which one?

Cost: £15.00

Rating: 7 Afro Puffs

The Conditioner

The conditioner is quite thick and creamy and again smells gorgeous with a fresh mint scent with a hint of citrus. The conditioner is quite thick and creamy but it did not have enough slip for my liking. I used this conditioner as directed, which is to apply it to clean towel blotted hair and wear a plastic cap for 15-20 mins, you are then instructed to wash out 50% of the conditioner. I found it difficult to know how much 50% was but I did my best each time. The conditioner did leave my hair feeling soft and strengthened but don’t try to use it to detangle, the bottle is too small and as I said it does not have much slip at all. when my hair was dry there was not an obvious visible conditioner residue but I preferred to rise the conditioner out completely (because of that dubious sodium). All in all I think this is a good moisture treatment and you should use it for your deep conditioning treatments, it works even better if you use heat over the top of your plastic cap.

Ingredients: Aqua, Sodium, Organic Aloe Vera, Cinnamon, Lime Essential Oil, Shea Butter Essential Oil, Argan Oil, Glycerin, Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Moringa

Cost: £15.00

Rating: 7 Afro Puffs

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The Hair Cream

Unsurprisingly this cream smells nice, it has a nice subtle herbal scent and a very thick, buttery consistency if you turn the tub upside down no product will fall out of the tub, it has flecks of Moringa in it but they do disappear when you apply the cream. I’m not really  sure of exactly what a “hair cream” is for, this particular cream claims to stimulate hair growth, I did not notice increased hair growth when I used it but maybe it is geared towards people who are experiencing issue in that area which I am not. I used it as directed,  applied it to my scalp and gently massaged it in. I don’t normally oil my scalp on a regular basis so it did feel nice on my scalp and it had a slight pleasant tingle. I also used this product to seal my ends when doing the LOC method and it did help my hair to retain moisture. If you use Shea Butter in your hair regimen this is like a super boosted Shea Butter, you could use it the same way you use Shea but it has added natural ingredients that are good for your hair/scalp.

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Vera, Mint, Wild Berries Essential Oil, Shea Butter, Moringa, Argan oil, Glycerine, Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil.

Cost: £15.00

Rating: 6 Afro Puffs

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I was given this product range to review a few months ago, but being the PJ that I am, I wanted to use up some other products first and I also wanted to use theses products exclusively for a few wash days to make sure I gave them a fair chance, after all you can’t tell much about a product after only one use. All of this range has plain packaging which is fine by me but some people like fancier label and whatnot. One thing I love about this range is that it’s a BBGBB (another Evelyn phrase) meaning Black Girl Beauty Brand but I added an extra B for British, June -the lady who sells these products from her salon is located in Brixton, South London and her mobile number and landline number for the salon is printed on the products so if you have any questions about using the products you can call/text/WhatsApp June and she always gets back to you. The products are made in UK and not tested on animals so smiles all round!

Heavenly Hair and Scalp Website.

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

x

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:

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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.

Recycle Your Old Extensions! (Straight to Kinky/Curly)

Hello my Naturalistas!

This one is just for you,

Today I’m going to show you how to recycle your old extensions or change the curl pattern of straight-wavy hair to better blend with your own curl pattern.

When I had relaxed hair I experimented with wearing wigs and weaves, now I’m natural I still like to wear various types of extension but I prefer to wear textures that are closer to my own natural hair, not just because it looks better but it means that I don’t need to risk heat damage by flat-ironing my hair to blend with straight extensions.

If you have ever tried to buy good-quality Human hair kinky/curly extensions then you know how expensive they can be, the hair I currently have my eye on is over £250.00 not including p&p! Right now there is no way I’m spending that amount of money on some hair. So I decided to save some money and invest some time in converting a straight and wavy homemade U-part wig into a kinky curly wig.

My lovely friend Georgia made a U-part wig out of straight HH (Human Hair) weave but ran out of straight hair so added some wavy hair to complete the wig, unfortunately Georgia couldn’t achieve the colour match she wanted so she kindly donated the wig to me.

There are many ways you can steam perm extensions but my way is cheap but effective and does not require the use of any dangerous or smelly chemicals. This process is very easy but takes a little bit of time.

You will need:

  • Extensions – tracks, a bundle or a wig,  you can do this method with Synthetic hair but my instructions are for HH only.
  • A Very Large Saucepan or Pot with a lid. Pot should be large enough to accommodate all of your hair.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil or your hair oil of choice (not an expensive one!)
  • Conditioner
  • Perm Rods, Foil or both – I wanted a tight curl but in theory you could use rollers to create a looser curl
  • Water
  • Wide Toothed Comb
  • SONY DSC

First things first, put your hair on the perm rods or rollers, I refused to buy several packets of perm rods so I made “flexi rods” out of foil. I made my flexi rods by simply scrunching strips of foil into rod shapes , you can see one in the photo above on top of the box of foil.

Fill your large pot about 3/4 full with water and while you are rolling your hair you can set your water to boil.                                      Try to roll your hair using the same technique on each roller, because this was an experiment, I used different techniques to see which curl type I preferred.

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Once your hair is rolled and your water is boiling add a squeeze of conditioner -about 1 tablespoon & a few drops – 1 teaspoon of oil to your boiling water.

Next carefully submerge your hair in the pot reduce the heat to a simmer and put the lid on, your hair needs to gently boil for about 2 hours, make sure you check the pot regularly so that the hair is always covered with water, you should top your pot up –  if  necessary with boiling water from the kettle.

SONY DSC

After the time is up, very carefully remove your hair from the hot water I suggest using metal food tongs.                                     Do not let the water cool with the hair in it.

   Let the hot hair, air dry for at least 4 hours before removing your rollers.

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As you can see,  my curls did not come out evenly but I was expecting this.

Next you want to detangle and comb out your hair with a wide toothed comb. I slathered my hair with diluted conditioner, combed it out and then rinsed out the conditioner before leaving my hair to air dry over night.

SONY DSC

In order to blend this U-Part hair with my hair, I flat twisted my leave out and rolled the ends of my twist onto the same perm rods.

The next day, I put the wig on and then blended my hair with the wig.

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This technique is a home version of the industrial steam perming method which is often used to make Asian hair extensions mimic the texture of Kinky/Curly hair.  Please don’t be fooled by the term “Brazilian” hair this is still Asian hair that has been processed to alter the curl pattern, almost every brand of kinky/curly HH hair extensions you will purchase even the high end ones will be processed Asian hair.

The only time you are likely to see genuine virgin (unprocessed) kinky/curly extensions is on wigs that have been made from donated hair from charities such as Locks of Love. Reputable vendors will let you know the provenance of your extensions and if the hair has been chemically or steam processed.

If you have any questions about this technique, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

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