Thursday, March 31, 2011

Conversation With Grandmother About Natural Hair

So last Saturday, I showed my grandmother this blog. She was impressed because she had no idea that there was a whole "natural movement" online. She was especially pleased because I told her that I would scour resources for folks with long locks to help her manage hers because she battles with dryness. Her locks are probably mid-back length (damn it, I should've taken a photo!) and she has jet black hair with some gray. I remember she used to dye her grays but I don't think she much cares anymore.

My grandmother mentioned how nice it was that women had access to proper tools to manage their hair. Apparently when she was growing up all she knew of were thin combs that broke upon in her hair and how tender-headed she was. She mentioned how ecstatic she was when the hair pic came out. I told her about combing while wet and with conditioner and she just shook her head and said, Nope, not my hair! Mine was thick and bushy and nothing will work. She was curious about how the different techniques used to maintain natural hair and the products. I'm going to be ordering her some Oyin products, because she had heard of them before and wanted to try their products but didn't know anyone who had.

Another interesting thing is that my grandmother thinks all black people have nappy hair and she's not using it in a negative. Nappy for her means that you have some black in you, no matter the curl pattern/texture. She was the one who always described my hair as "silky and nappy" which I used to frown at because I thought those were total opposites and I never saw my hair as nappy. I still don't necessarily care for the word, but I don't get upset if someone would use that term to me in a positive way.  I guess I'm not into "re-claiming" words that much (like the "n" word, it's always negative in my eyes)

As for my Nana's views on women who wear their hair natural she thinks that is the best way to be. She's been through it all with her hair and she said that when she started embracing her hair in the late 60s she had a new consciousness (she also found a religion that worked for her, becoming a pillar of the community, etc). She's Muslim so always covers her head but in the summer or for a more "casual" dress she will simply just wear her hair wrapped up with some locks out. She said that women who didn't wear their hair natural seemed to be a bit more buffoonish to her as she cannot take them seriously O__o.  My nana has no issues with straightening, and thinks that a flatiron is a novelty compared to a hot comb (lol) but she said she noticed that women who wear weaves all the time and are so into chemically straightening their hair are too superficial--they worry more about their appearance more then how they carry themselves and grow as a person. All and all an interesting talk.

What do older folks in your families say about natural hair?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Extension Braid Pompadour Updo

So as i was saying in my Feeling a Little Frustrated post, i finally had a little time so i went ahead and braided my own hair. I would have loved to go to the salon but being tight for cash, and knowing that i need to wait a little while longer before getting the larger braids again, i decided to braid my hair myself for the first time again since i had been in high school! I used to put my hair in microbraids all the time, no problem,  but i had never done bigger braids before so my backup plan was to just do cornrows if the box braids hadn't worked out. Luckily, they did, and i'd say they turned out pretty good! My mom actually almost got upset with me cuz she thought i went and spent money on getting my hair done... i'll take that as a compliment! lol
I did these braids on day old hair (it was spur of the moment) using regular Kanekalon synthetic hair. I started in the front, did the side edges, the back and then worked my way up to finish the middle, all the while just parting long rows, and sectioning the rest of the hair out of the way. From there i would say i just sliced 1inched cubed sections, fully detangled and added some Eco Styler Olive Oil gel before starting to braid. Non stop i would say this took my about 6 hours total, but since i did have a few distractions, it took me about 12 hours. Finished result?
Not too bad if i must say so myself :) You know the deal, I've been wearing my high buns and ponytails, lol. I went out last night and decided to try something new, an updo of sorts and it came out so beautiful! I got a million compliments on my hair last night so if you ladies love it just as much, let me know and i will do a video tutorial of how i did this updo. Here goes:
1st step ~ Trying to figure out exactly how i was going to wear my hair. I was loving the Pompadour but not sure about the ponytail so i decided to try doing one of my trusty buns and that was all i needed!

 The Girl next to me is my cousin and she has beautiful curly hair as well... and another who's been through it all with her hair... Stay tuned to hear a little more about her too =)

How did Philly go?

Like this! 
Remember I was wondering how banding my hair would go over for the trip? Not too bad apparrently! Since it was only a short, 2-day trip, banding wasn't a problem because i kept my hair moisturized with jojoba oil and just separated into 4 sections (no parting or combs involved) and made little afro puffs to sleep. I didnt even go through the whole process of banding really... moreso mini puffs, kinda like mini pineappling i guess... lol The curl pattern i had showing moreso at the ends of my hair seemed to hold up but  i did notice that my hair was starting to get a little tangly. So would i do this again? Oh yeah! Just definitely not for any time longer than 2 days because i wouldnt want to have any issues with tangles or dryness. I put my hair up in a puff to go home..... Bye Philly! You were so cute and i can't wait to visit again!
I know it's been 2 weeks since then and you guys have probably been wondering where in the world has SPstyles been?! Im ready to catch you all up :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Defined Braid Out

I literally just finished taking out my box braids, and I guess because of how carefully I took them out and how (surprisingly) moisturized they are, my hair is really defined!

Mr. Smooth looked at me and said, you took your hair out? You should wear it just like that.

I'm thinking I just might for a couple of days.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Research: Swimming With Natural Colored Treated Hair

Ok, so I didn't get a chance to swim in the pool yesterday but I'm glad because I realized I need to do more research. I have curly, highly textured color treated natural hair and and I know chlorine is not the best thing. (FYI: As a kid I didn't really play in pools because I hated the way they smelled so I was more of an ocean/lake person) Anyway here's what I found so far from The Natural Haven, Newly Natural:

1. I have to wear a swim cap and braids/twists are the best ways to fit my hair under it. And that swim caps will not keep all the water out. However, wetting your hair with regular water for 15 minutes prior to jumping into the pool will minimize the amount of chlorine water your hair absorbs.

2. Add Coconut oil before I rinse and/or conditioner after I rinse my hair. I haven't decided which I am going to do yet but I'm leaning towards the using coconut oil because my hair won't absorb much water which equals less shrinkage.

3. Rinse my hair for about 5 minutes before preceding to use a shampoo or some other cleansing method. Now here's my dilemma with color: I don't want to use just any old shampoo because I don't want my hair stripped. I read that tomato juice may be my best bet. If I do this I will follow up with my Jessicurl Cleansing Cream and then use a conditioner.

This seems like a lot of work too. I feel like my hair style choices will be pretty limited because I'll have to twist/braid/bun my hair up to fit under a cab and to withstand washing. I plan to be in the pool one or two days a week. I have an idea on what I'll probably do about that, but I'll reveal when the time comes. For now I'm doing my research!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Medium-Sized Box Braids

I did this set on Monday night, my hair being washed and stretched with bigger plaits the day before. I thought this was going to be a daunting task, but I decided not to do them so small and it only took me an hour-and-a-half as oppose to four hours with the smaller ones. Once I started on the back I also noticed that I'm retaining some length! My longest braids hits Arm-Pit Length (APL) and no longer just grazes it!

(**Apologies for the dirty mirror**) I was excited so I kept going. Yesterday I walk/ran a mile, as well as some sit-ups, push-ups and stretches that I remembered from when I used to do Akido. I sweated so much! I'm happily not as sore as I thought I would be and feel pretty good and I'm so happy about my braids.

I plan to be in the pool tomorrow so these braids help, because I should be able to fit my hair under a cap lol. I also have to look up how to take care of hair that may be exposed to chlorine!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exercise and Healthy Hair

I remember when I used to be really active, playing sports and doing yoga and tae-bo (don't judge!) with my grandmother. It turns out that being active is great for maintaining healthy hair as well as a healthy body over all. I started thinking recently that even though I am in my 20s, I don't want to be sluggish by the time I'm in my 30s. So taking better care of my body starts now!

I've been working out lately, and am working through a trial membership at my local YMCA. It's easier for me because I've been using weather as an excuse to be lazy and not play basketball for exercise like I used to and the YMCA is literally on my way home. I plan to become a member when the time is up and take some classes, particularly swimming lessons because I don't know how to swim very well (#forshame). Of course when planning my new "active" routine I am now contemplating "active" hair. Protective styling seems to be the only way all my hair will fit under a swim cap, but I'm looking into styles that won't "sweat out" or get too frizzy and big. Mr. Smooth suggested buns as my saving grace but he joked that my hair might be to massive for that as well.

I'll give more details about my new active routine as I develop it. I'm going to the Y after work tonight to work out and my hair is in braids at the moment so I'm not worried about messy hair.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Haz An Upset About My Hair

So yesterday's hair day went pretty well. I used bentonite clay and deep conditioned my hair longer then I meant to because I was chilling around the house with my sister, but my hair felt so much better and clean!

Defined curls, curtesy of Bentonite clay!

Recall that I said I would be rollersetting my hair with magnetic rollers. Well, I pulled out my bin or rollers and noted a couple of things. A) rollersetting was going to take me years to do and B) I most certainly did not have enough rollers for my hair. I remember that's why I stopped doing them for a while, and I said I'd do them again if I bought more rollers--which I have not. I've been stuck on curl formers. And since I wanted a relatively relaxing day (which it was) I opted to use them instead. But, I did something a little different--a "ponytail curl-former" set if you will because I still wanted the curly bob look.

Pony-tailed sections of hair
Curlformers out

If you notice, it kind of pulled my hair a little higher. And upon light separation and fluffing of the curls, I really liked this look!! So why am I upset? Because it didn't last! I can never sleep with a set because the next morning my curls are smashed up and my hair is knotted. I was so pissed this morning because I thought tying a scarf very loosely around my head would work, NOT. And in general, while my curlformer sets look good to me I know they won't last because of lack of hold! I have yet to find a product that can provide a strong hold for my hair. I'm about to become a product junkie because of my mission to find great hold for roller sets.

So far my sister has recommended I try eco-Styler gel. She's been using it on her braid outs and I have to admit her hair feels really soft and it looks very defined. I'm definitely soliciting suggestions for products and a way to sleep on roller sets, ugh!

Wet bunning to Stretch + Style

 I guess I could say it's kind of a good thing when i'm feeling down about my hair, because it always gets me to think of new alternatives to what i can do... mixed with a little bit of laziness, lol. Yesterday while trying to figure out what to do with my hair, i knew didn't want to do anything time consuming or damaging and i wanted to wear my hair stretched... That's when it popped into my head: Wet Bunning! Now of course i've never tried Wet Bunning or there would surely be a post on here about it, and i would have been doing it sooner!!! Not that it never crossed my mind, it was just something that i was looking forward to, not something I saw as a possibilty for right now.
I co-washed with HEHH and Aussie Moist and fully detangled my hair with my Tangle Teezer (Which of course i love). I shook the excess water out of my hair and left it extremely damp to make it easy to stretch for ponytails. I parted my hair in 4 sections, added Shea Moisture's Curl and Hold Smoothie to each section, and began ponytailing, folding the ponytail under to bun each one.

About 3-4 hours later I had gotten a headache so i took the little buns out to breathe for about an hour, before putting them back in, except banding to sleep. When i took them out last night they were still damp, but they dried by this morning. I used some Vatika coconut oil to take the pony's out and loved how my curl pattern was still there, just a little stretched out... I separated some curls and tried to cover the parts by using my pik to lift at the roots. The outcome kind of looks like a few day old twist out, fro-ey with curls on the ends! I think this is def going to be a new thing for me for the times that i'm feeling lazy about doing anything to my hair. I dont want to do it too often because my edges are still very thin and im still working on thickening them out, so i wouldnt want my progress to backfire because im wearing tight little pony's just to stretch my hair out. I styled my hair using my little "Pin-down" method and i think it looks super cute!
Outcome under the jump! =o)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Feeling a little frustrated...

So i'm not gonna beat around the bush, as much as i love my hair, i am sooo tired of having a TWA. Twist outs are great but im tired of always needing to twist, or to do as many twists, and having to go the extra mile to grip the shorter lengths. Although I know with length i will also have more hair to deal with, i feel like i've finally fully gotten the feel of what to do with my hair, what it likes, and at this point i think styling will just be so much easier with some length (for the looks i desire anyways). Also, im ready to join the ponytail world!!!! I wish i could just throw my hair in a ponytail or two if i'm  having a bad hair day instead of having to try and figure out what to do to look decent enough to walk outside. I actually got sick because i wore a wash and go during this crappy NY winter rainy weather, but i didnt know what else to do... I was really enjoying having my hair blowdryed, except for having to make sure to keep the shape all the time and dealing with different amounts of shrinkage with different textures. Whatever. I think it's time for me to go into a protective style so i'm going to do my own extension braids some time within the next 2 weeks which i will try to keep until the end of April.

Also, i feel like my hair isn't growing as fast as last year :(

Today Is Hair Day and "Centering" Myself

It's been a minute since I spent a good amount of time on my hair. I've been working like a mad woman and am starting to shut down which isn't good for the mind and body, and since I'm wearing my hair loose I noticed it's getting dry a lot faster, nor is it's shine quality top notch. So today I am going to spend time on myself because if I don't, the next couple of weeks just might destroy me #busywoman.  In terms of hair, here's what I plan to do today:

*Bentonite Clay treatment
*Wash my hair with Curlicious Curls Shampoo
*Deep Condition with a mixture of Renpure Organics My Hair Is Parched, Honey, and Coconut oil
*Use Kinky Curly Knot Today as a leave-in
*set my hair with a foam wrap

I'm still interested in rocking curly fros/bobs so I'll probably attempt a rollerset using magnetic rollers and not curlformers. I finally placed an order on Curlmart for my favorites like Jessicurl Weekly Deep Conditioner, Cleansing Cream and Oyin Handmade Whipped Pudding, but they won't get here till Tuesday or Wednesday.

In between these hair treatments I'll probably give myself a facial, watch a movie and get some writing done. To end the night, I'll cook a dinner I've been craving for some reason, which really is just angel hair pasta with creamy garlic sauce and veggies. Hopefully all this will help me be relaxed for the the work week.

And what do you naturals do to your hair (or other things) to center yourself or relax?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

TWA Afro + Banding

In the last 2 weeks i had worn my hair blown out... i actually blew my hair out 2 times in 2 weeks (terrible! i know.) because i had to wash my hair because it got wet, but i've been so busy i didn't have any time to do anything but blow it out! (Click the link for a video of how i blowdry my hair)
In between washing I did add a little bit more color to my hair so you will see that too. To moisturize I had been adding my Vatika Coconut oil whenever i felt the need, and if it felt especially dry i would add some Shea butter as well. 
I hadn't tried banding but had seen it done by many, inculding my Co-Blogging pal Curly Film Chick, so with my schedule being so hectic and me being exhausted, it seemed like now was a great time to try banding. I didn't want to cause to much tension to my edges by pulling them into taught pony's so i parted about an inch and a half  from the hairline and did 2 flat twists going to the sides. I then parted the rest of my head into fours, added ouchless elastic bands to pony and then banded all the way down. 
I have to say, i love banding, i just cant wait until my hair gets longer so it will be easier and looser. For now, i love the fact that it's a much faster alternative to keeping my hair stretched, rather than flat twisting it down every night like i usually do. When im coming home late and crashing, i can actually manage to get this done before i pass out! lol

Have you tried banding your TWA yet?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Curly Bob and Other Tales

4th grader: Why do you wear your hair so big and poofy?
Me: Because that's the way my hair goes...

Last week after washing and all that jazz, I decided to try a "braid and curl." I was a little dismayed when doing the set because I came to the realization that I don't have the "5 minute hair" that magazines say you can achieve. Clearly not me.  This is just half way into me setting my hair with some Jane Carter Wrap and Roll...

Do you see that? That is my damn what have I gotten into face. For some reason I forget that I have a lot of hair, and that right quick can mean a half hour O__o Needless to say I continued with setting. I braided most of the hair, then added perm rods on the ends; but I ran out and had to add one flexi rod to the set...

With all that work, I was actually pretty satisfied with the results. A poofy curly bob that I rather enjoyed....

I now have a new fixation on this look. The curly bob/fro and its variations will be my new thing for a bit!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tip of the Day: Trying New Products

The natural hair world is overwhelming at times. So many thoughts, opinions, regiments, products--how can we get through it all? When I first decided to embrace my hair I thought managing it would be expensive and that I had to everything the bloggers told me to in order to get healthy hair, but I still had no understanding of it. I tried countless products and *wished* for my hair to come out well. I did things to my hair whether it was actually helping or not. I wondered what would happen if I read a crash course on what it means to embrace your curls and coils? Here's my tip of the day:

On Products:
There are many, and you may want to try them all especially if someone used it and their hair is fly. When first trying a product make sure that you follow the directions of the product to the letter to determine if it actually works. This may be a combination of technique as well. If, after a few times, it does not work as directed experiment a little. In the end it will help you decide if the product is for you or not.

If the product is expensive and you want to save, be sure to check for samples, get it on sale, or see if anyone else has it lying around. It may take a minute for you to figure out what works for you, especially if you're new. Take you time with the product, have patience and most of all, have fun!

Questions or comments? Email us at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My "Loose" Hair Adventures

Hey everyone! I haven't posted any hair pics in a while. Basically I've been wearing my hair loose in braid-outs and twist-outs with bunning and ponytails involved. My best braid out was last week when I went out with Mr. Smooth for his birthday...

Braid out

Mr. Smooth and I

I did this on dry hair, set it with my homemade leave-in spritz and some Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Conditioning Cream. I definitely noticed which parts of my hair can hold a set and what can't. My hair has different curl patterns and "textures" I guess, with the front being wavier and the hardest to keep a curl so adding more product is important for me. I washed and DC my hair with a mixture of Renpure Organics My Hair Is Parched, honey and coconut oil and then just added some gel and did a twist out that in the end, I didn't really like so much. I still need to learn how to apply sufficient amounts of product to sections of my hair that react differently. From that twist-out set this week, I've pretty much done ponytails and today I did a low side bun.

I have an event this weekend to attend, and am probably going to do another braid out because I want big noticeable hair for the occasion.

Setting Staples

When it comes to a TWA it's all about learning as you go. One thing that you learn about with hair whether you have a TWA or not is products and what works for you or doesn't work for you. I know i have never fully listed out all the products i use and reviewed them, so i'm going to start by finally making a list of staples.

SPstyles' Staples
Shampoo - Yes! To Carrots C Daily Moisturizing shampoo, Roux Porosity Control
Conditioner- Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, Giovanni Smooth As Silk Triple Moisture, Aussie Moist
Stylers & Moisturizers- Shea Moisture Curl & Hold Smoothie, IC Fantasia Aloe Vera Gel, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, Carefree Curl Instant Moisturizer (summer), Garnier Fructis Leave -in creme, Natural raw Shea Butter
Heat Protectors- CHI 44 Iron Guard, CHI Silk Infusion
Oils- Jamaican black castor oil (edges), Vatika Coconut Oil, Alma oil, Jojoba oil, Shea oil

I have a million other products in my stash which i shall let you into later, but these are the ones that i use all the time and feel like i will always need to re-up on; That's how i knew they were my staples. It's going on 2 years natural for me and i could say it took me about a year and some change to set staples and feel like i'm done looking for new products for a little while

How long did it take you to realize what were the best products for you? Have you set your staples yet?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Party Patch!!! Lol

Okay, so i couldn't live much longer without color! I tried and tried and tried but ultimately, color was too tempting and i gave in. I had a client who wanted highlights and upon doing her hair, the color itch really kicked in bad! After she left, i sectioned my hair where i wanted to put my color and mixed up my own batch of lightener.
 I intended to go Turquoise, but didn't have the time to get it to the color i wanted it to be because i was getting ready to go out. When lifting hair with lightener (bleach) to a lighter color, a lot of toning/color balancing can be in order, especially in my case because i have dark, henna treated hair. When i rinsed the lightener out, i had lifted my hair to about a level 7 and it was bright orange!!! I used Manic Panic Atomic Turquoise to tone it because thats the color i want it to be, even though i knew it would come out green (turquoise is opposite orange on the color wheel so they cancel each other out and thats where the green comes from, kinda close to mixing yellow and blue). I blew my hair out to wear it out for the night but when i wash my hair again and some more of the green rinses out, i will go over it and make it turquoise! I like the green, as i did put green in my hair last year.... Actually one of the reasons i refer to this as my party patch is because i plan to just have fun with it and change the colors up whenever i feel like it. I parted the section i wanted my color in kind of like an S-shaped pattern and tried to make sure i only colored my stronger, medium textured "3c-ish" (i guess) hair and not color my more fragile, curlier, fine "4a-ish" strands. I experienced a tiny bit of curl loosening, i think mostly cuz that texture is a little loose already, but nothing to cry about. That's the reason why i didnt want a full head of color, just a  patch. My hair including the patch still feels great  though =D
To take care of it im just going to make sure to DC all the time and i will separate out the rest of my hair to be henna'd and probably just put a clear gloss on my party patch, lol..
My hair is about to be back at a good length too because styling is getting back to that good point in TWA world! yay!