I’ll be helping out on the day, I hope to see you there!
This is not a Natural Hair event this is a HEALTHY hair event, Everyone is welcome.
Hello My Naturalistas!
Today I’m sharing something a little different…
A WEAVE review! Yes I said it, I got a weave.
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 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!
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.
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.
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:
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
*I bought this hair with my own money, prices correct at time of writing this post.
Hello my Naturalistas!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thanks for Reading!
*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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Hello my Cakers, Bakers & Beauties!
My gorgeous “little” Cousin Shaloy has been wanting to return to her Natural Hair for a while now, Shaloy has seen me transition, big chop, colour, straighten, dye, bleach, henna and mini chop my Natural hair and decided that she was ready to go for it! Kudos to Shaloy because she knew transitioning was not for her and took the (what I consider to be brave) decision to big chop without transitioning. Shaloy had a head full of healthy, long, thick relaxed hair and after a Summer spent back home in Jamaica, Shaloy called me up and asked me to go with her to BC, the next day off we went off to the Barbers!
I recommended that Shaloy go a Barber to do her BC, as hairdressers charge too much for the same thing and Barbers tend to be quite straight to the point. I’ve had a few friends tell me that when they have been to the hairdresser the stylist has tried to convince them not to cut their hair off or they have not cut enough off.
Once we got to the Barbershop, I think I was more nervous than Shaloy was! Even though Shaloy is technically an adult, I thought I might be blamed for her decision and for encouraging her to cut off her hair. In our family as well as in many other families, Hair is a big deal particularly long hair, my Jamaican Grandmother once asked me to promise not to cut my hair again as I always used to cut if off every summer when I was relaxed.
Shaloy’s Mum also has really long thick relaxed healthy hair that she takes great pride in. I was dreading what her Mum would say once she saw her practically bald eldest daughter!
When it was our turn the Barber asked what Shaloy was having done and I said “she wants to cut it all off” The Barber asked Shaloy once if she was sure she wanted to cut if ALL off and once she said “yes definitely” he went at it!
Here’s the story of Shaloy’s Big chop in pictures…
Thanks for reading,
How long have you been natural?
I have been natural for 10 days now. Since the 1st June 2013:-)
Huge Thanks to Nicole for allowing me to interview her and thanks to you for reading.
(sorry for the dodgy formatting there’s nothing I can do to fix it, I’ve tried everything!)