Claudine’s Go-to Hair Styles

I think we can all agree that one of the major problems with having natural hair is styling. Taking care of natural hair can be very hard and tedious; or maybe it’s just me. However, over time as you learn more about your hair, you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. some styles look better or are easier to maintain on certain textured hairs than others. So, we often cannot simply mimic styles that we see on others or online. I’m not saying it’s always impossible to get your hair to look a certain way but you may have to do a thing or two in addition to what the other person did, depending on your hair texture.

I have a head full of 4c hair, very kinky. Imagine having to comb and style my hair every single morning… no thank you! (haha) Over the course of my journey, learning and loving my hair, I’ve come across some hairstyles that I love, love, love, and they are really simple and save me about a week or two of having to style my hair, depending on how I choose to maintain it.  For all my 4c ladies, you can definitely try these out and let me know how it works for you, and if you don’t have 4c hair, definitely feel free to try and manipulate the style to get it to work for you hair texture.

I like to call these my signature looks because these are my absolute favorite go to and easy to do hairstyles, and they’re not time consuming whatsoever (well, maybe one of them). So, whenever my hair is not in a protective style (box braids, crochet, etc.) you’ll find me rocking these styles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above is a flat twist out, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. I put some flat twists in my hair and then took them out the next morning. For my particular look, I did about 8-10 flat twists. As you can see in the pictures, I have a part on the left side, allowing my hair to fall toward the right side of my face. I did two twists across the front, toward the right, two on the left side and the rest straight back. I also did bantu knots on the ends because I wanted the curls to be defined.

The first two pictures are the first time I did this hairstyle and I fell in love but as you can see, compared to the last picture, the curls are a bit looser. The reason being that, in the first two pictures this style was done on old hair (meaning, not freshly washed), whereas the second picture my hair was freshly washed and a little air dried. I personally prefer the first look because I’m not a big fan of super tight curls, I like my hair to be a bit stretched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next style I call “my puff puffs” which refers to the pictures on your right. As you can see, there’s one puff then there’s two. I find it hard to pick between them because they both have their good and bad days. Like I mentioned earlier, I prefer my hair to be a bit stretched before doing anything to it, because I want it to look a lot fuller and have some length to it (because shrinkage is real!). So, one of the ways I stretch my hair is by doing bantu knots on freshly washed hair, leaving it in for about a week and combing/brushing it out. As you can see in the first picture, my bantu knots are a week old. The second picture is my hair combed out and put into a high puff using a head band, about 3 or 4 days after the first picture was taken. The last picture is about a week after the second picture and I simply applied conditioner to my hair and parted it into two. I don’t comb my hair all the way out because I like to see the curls defined at the ends as you can see in the pictures. I do a lot of finger combing and hand fluffing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is just another way I stretch my hair before putting it into a single puff or two, using the flat twist method. The only difference is, the puffs are a bit rounder; these pictures were taken four days apart. Ultimately, there are different ways to achieve the same look, it’s whatever is best for you!

 

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The Never Ending Roller-Coaster: My Natural Hair Journey

Where do I begin? Who possessed my mother into putting classic Alkaline and Ammonium Thioglycolate, also known as, perm onto my 3c/4b coily curls?

When I was younger, my hair was shaped into a Jackson 5 Afro but was always in two pigtails styled in twists or the good old fashioned hot comb straightened hair with grease sizzled edges. I used to be a dancer so my mother had to figure out a way to make my hair more manageable and easy to detangle.

When I was around the age of 6-7, my mother took me to a hair salon where they gave me my first perm and boy oh boy, did it burn. The pain of the perm made me want to shed more than a few tears. Prior to getting this perm, I would constantly scratch my scalp which will create scars on the scalp and extreme burning sensations. As I’m typing this blog, I’m sort of envisioning the pain I felt back then.

I continued perming my hair until I was in 7th grade. I decided to transition from permed to natural because during this time my mother was also transitioning so she stopped taking me to the salons for touch-ups every month and once I started to try and take care of my hair I  noticed a difference in textures and I completely fell in love.

During the time of transitioning, I would constantly get blow outs from the Dominican hair salons or I would get box braids, twists, or two french braids with added hair. Throughout this process it was very important for me to at least get a trim every month just to let go of all of the permed ends. 

I wasn’t alone throughout this process. My mother also had a perm and was beginning to transition so for the emotional aspect of transitioning, she understood my frustration with my hair. I honestly had to learn a great deal of patience and I’m glad I did.

Once I reached my freshman year of high-school, I asked my mother if I can get my first real cut and I went from having long permed hair to a Dora like bob cut with bangs that were too hideous and embarrassing to even re-visit. By my sophomore year, my hair grew out and I was fully natural. Not a perm in sight but then I did another dangerous thing to my hair, can you guess what I did? Yup. That’s right, I bleached it. I bleached my entire head a platinum blonde and I thought I was killing the game. I ended up killing my curls, again.

I got tired of putting my hair through so much stress during all four years of high school and dying it from blonde to red, then red to brown, then brown to jet black and now back to purple, I knew I had to make a change. I promised myself that I would nurture my hair once I graduated.

My freshman year of college came and I cut my hair into a brown bob. I would constantly straighten it which also does damage to your curls so I began wearing weaves and trying to keep heat out of my hair. Yes, it is hard. I gave into temptation many of times for the first two years of college but I knew it was time to let it go.

I am now a Junior in college and prior to becoming a junior, I shaved my hair all off as a fresh start. Chopping my hair off is not only a physical growth spurt for me but also is helping me grow emotionally. I am learning to love natural hair and I have a long ways to go as far as my curls prospering. It’s a journey. A journey to acceptance and self-love.

 

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Reclaiming My Hair

There comes a time in your life when you have to decide to be honest with yourself. Not sugarcoating anything but being truthful with how you feel on the inside; that way you can learn to embrace the things you wish you could change. I recently had to have this deep and intense conversation with myself. For as long as I can remember I  have always hated my hair. I wished I had longer, thinner, looser curls… I wanted to have “good hair”. Instead I was given extremely thick, medium length hair that I constantly wished would somehow magically change if  I tried hard enough. My childhood was spent sitting  in the beauty salon getting relaxers and spending an hour or two under the dryer to my stylist’s dismay.  I constantly used heat to give me the silky smooth hair that I  desired.

Having hair stylists make remarks about how my hair was too thick to even wash and how it would never get dry, had a damaging effect on my self-esteem. Instead of them giving me tips on my hair type, the negative criticism made me hate my hair even more. At this point I felt as if I could never go to a stylist again because I didn’t want to burden them with my “difficult” hair. My mom tried her hardest to get me to see that the hair I was given was good enough, but I could never see it. Until one day I stumbled upon a Youtube video by Naptural85. Seeing her opened my eyes to a world that I had never even thought I could be apart of. She had the same hair type as me and her hair looked healthy and long just like I had always wanted for myself. On that day I stopped getting relaxers and started my transition.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 10.49.27 PMI knew that I couldn’t keep straightening my hair because it would start to become heat damaged and doing the big chop was something that I was too scared to do so the next best thing for me was to get sew-ins.  Sew-in extensions became my best friend, having my hair in braids underneath assured me that my hair would grow and stay healthy while allowing me to  have  versatile hair styles. This was my comfort zone for many years and instead of it helping, it hindered me. I was no longer waiting for all of my relaxed hair to grow out but rather deepening my hatred for my own hair. As I got into college I would strategically schedule hair appointments so that none of my classmates would ever see me with my actual hair. I would even go so far as to skip class and call off work so I wouldn’t have to be seen without my “hair security blanket”. It got so bad that my hair stylist was pleading with me to stop with the extensions and to let my hair breath. I knew that in order for me to stop running away from my hair I had to run toward it.

On December 20th I took down my last sew-in and for the first time in three and a half years I wore my hair out. The first full day was the hardest, I constantly looked in the mirror at myself as I tried to adjust to this new person in front of me. I felt self conscious as if wearing my hair in a twistout would make me the target of piercing eyes.  I was worried that wearing my natural hair would make me stand out more thanks to the ridiculous standards of beauty that we are taught. Instead of all of my greatest fears coming true the complete opposite happened, I was comfortable.

The stigma that I associated with my hair was gone and I felt like this afro style suited me better than any of the styles I had previously. As each day goes on I’m learning more and more about my hair and how to take care of it.  I know that not everyday will be a good hair day but the more I accept what I can’t change the better my attitude about myself will be.  The India Arie song I Am Not My Hair contained lyrics that made me ponder even more about my decision to accept my kinks and coils. “Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person? Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? Oh Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity? I am expressing my creativity” These lines resonated with me and helped me in the decision to reclaim my hair and to no longer be ashamed of it.

 

 

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LaToya’s Natural Hair Journey

In November of 2013 I received my last relaxer. I did not realize it would be my last until a feeling of guilt came over me as my hair dresser applied the chemical to the very intriguing waves that had started springing out of my scalp. I felt bad for my natural roots. I felt like I was denying them or like I wasn’t giving them a chance.

As I sat in that chair I decided that it would be my last relaxer. I was going to give the “natural” thing I try. Mind you, before I made this decision, I was that girl that declared I would never go natural and would continue to use relaxers until they stopped manufacturing them.

My relaxed hair: Dec. 2013
My relaxed hair: Dec. 2013

I had a negative opinion of my natural hair because I didn’t like my hair when I was younger. I didn’t understand why it didn’t lay flat like the other girls in school. I guess I felt too different. I viewed my hair as ugly and not beautiful. When I was in 7th grade my mom allowed me to get a relaxer. I continued to relax my hair up until my sophomore year of college, November of 2013.

I decided that I would transition instead of doing the BIG CHOP. I wasn’t comfortable with having super short hair. My plan was to transition for two years but just after the one year mark, it became too difficult for me. I was wearing weaves or braids throughout the majority of my transition, but I became tired of that. I wanted to have my own hair out. I wanted to feel my own scalp.

So around the year and four months mark I tried to wear my hair out, but it just did not look right. My roots were super thick and my ends were pretty much see-through. It was not a cute look. So I decided when the semester came to an end, I would do my big chop, or transitioning chop, and I would finally be completely natural.

Leading up to the day, I was really excited but super nervous. I did not know how I was going to look with shorter hair. I had no idea what my hair texture would be, but I was determined to learn to love it.

In May of 2015, I invited some friends over and we had a Transitioning Chop Party! I ordered pizza and we played music. I think this was the best way for me to shake my nerves and to celebrate this turning point in my life.

Before big chop vs. after big chop
Before big chop vs. after big chop

And it turns out, I loved my hair! I was so surprised to see curls on my head. I had no idea that my hair was curly. It’s weird to think you’re 21 years old, and you are just discovering what your hair looks like.

That’s why I think this natural hair movement is so important. Although everyone has the right to wear their hair in a way that makes them feel beautiful and confident, I think it is important that we all learn to love and embrace the hair we were born with. There is only one you and we are all unique in our own way. So embrace every part of you.

It has been 5 months since my big chop and I can still say that I love my hair. My hair is not like anyone else. My curls are just for me and I love them!

Photo by Siu's View. www.siusview.com.
Photo by Siu’s View. www.siusview.com.

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“Why don’t you comb your hair?”

I love big, wild, curly hair. I always have. Watching old(er) school actresses like Tia and Tamera Mowry from Sister, Sister and Tracee Ellis Ross from Girlfriends was probably a big part of that. But, it was not until recently that I found the courage to wear my hair that way. Up until a short time ago, I thought the only way to wear my texture hair was in a slicked back bun or in two-strand twists. Even though these women were a part of what I saw often on TV, I never thought that my hair was “pretty” enough to be let down like that. In my mind, those styles were for the mixed girls with “prettier” hair.
 tia_tamera
It was not until my final year in high school when I started my hair journey that I was able to let go and let it out. I had been researching a great deal on natural hair; how to care for it and how our hair differs from other textures. I was also looking at different twist out and braid out techniques and saw how beautifully some of them came out. It was a couple months before I finally decided to try one.
I prepped my hair over night: moisturizing and sealing and meticulously placing the hair in chiney bumps (or bantu knots as Americans call them). Then, I took it down in the morning. It did not come out exactly how I wanted it to, but I worked with it and wore it to church. The whole time I was walking on the road and sitting in church I felt incredibly self conscious, like everyone was staring at me (mostly because they were).
At the time, the natural hair movement had not really hit my section of Jamaica yet. Many persons still believed that you either had relaxed straight hair, or you control your natural hair so it looks relaxed. I was one of the first girls in my town who did not have loose, silky ringlets to dare to wear my hair out.
After church, one of the older ladies took me aside and asked me “Why didn’t you comb your hair before you came to church?” My face fell. I was already self conscious and this lady was not helping at all. I mumbled some lame response about trying something new and scuffled away.
All I could think was “I spent hours on this hairstyle, it is combed!” I was genuinely hurt. I had gotten a few complements throughout the day about how thick and nice my hair was, but this was the only one I remembered. As much as it hurt my 18 year old self esteem, I did not try to tie my hair up to make it look more “presentable”.
For the rest of high school, I tried different protective hairstyles that I found on YouTube and more than once persons who asked me “You couldn’t comb yuh hair?” To be honest, my first tries at many styles were not too hot, sometimes they would come out frizzy or lopsided, but I was trying. Eventually, I started getting the hang of it and I felt more confident. It was worth it though, because the moisture and the new found care I had with my hair had it growing longer than it ever was before.
When I got to college, I realized that there were so many other naturals wearing their hair out and wild and I loved it. I was able to accept that my hair is beautiful and now I wear my hair out more often than not. Every now and again there is a noob that asks me why I don’t comb my hair, but now it does not even affect me. I love my wild mane way too much for that.

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