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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Product Spotlight: EDEN BodyWorks

As a black girl going through the whirlwind of emotions when starting your natural hair journey, our first question we ask ourselves is, “What products should I try for my curls?” or “Will this product work for my texture?” We go from Cantu to Creme of Nature to Curls, Miss Jessie’s and many more to achieve those beautiful braid-outs and trendy twist outs but to complete this look we need the one essential product that every curly girl should have: a to-die-for edge control.

EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Control Edge Gel has my heart wrapped. During my journey, I recently stumbled upon this gem when looking for a gel that would lay and SLAY my edges and honey, this product will lay your edges to the edge GOD. When I first opened the product, I was skeptical about how much would be in the jar but there are about 6 ounces worth of product that can be used for about 6 months to a year. This product has a very lightweight consistency and doesn’t cause your hair to flake like snow around the edge of your hair.

Trust me, I wouldn’t want for you to look like Santa dusted his snowy jacket off on your edges girl, because I understand how bad that can be. Trust me, this product will have the maximum hold you need for the entire day.

When I first started using this product, I was shocked that it gave me the maximum hold I needed for the day. I probably had to reapply it once more after being in the sun all day but understand that sweat absorbs products so if you are a person who perspires a lot, you may have to reapply product. The good thing about this is, the product retails between $8.45-9 and at $8.75 plus shipping and handling on Amazon.com and is also available in different sizes if you don’t want to splurge on the big jar for your first try. You could also buy the big size for day to day purposes and the smaller size for travel. On the go products are a must when going through your natural hair journey and of course, edge control is too.

It is very important to also disclaim, this product was made without sulfates, dyes, parabens, mineral oils such as petroleum. Products with these chemicals can cause breakage to your hair follicles and thinning as well. It is very important that you read more about the pros and cons of chemicals in your products prior to starting your natural hair journey. After months of achieving those beautiful curls, you want to make sure you’re using products with ingredients that will help you maintain those curls.

For all of my animal lovers, this product is cruelty free and has not been tested on animals. So just a few reminders when choosing your to-die-for edge control, always check for chemicals, never splurge on $13 edge control, always purchase a travel size for on the go, purchase a silk/satin scarf from your local beauty supply store, and bam! Beautiful curls and edges that slay!

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Curly Hair 101: How to Tell the Health of Your Natural Hair

As curly girls, we know the amount of time that goes into maintaining and growing our natural hair. But are we taking care of our coils as best as possible, or are we doing the bare minimum because we know how tedious #WashDay can be? Check out the four indicators of healthy natural hair, and I promise you’ll never skip a deep conditioning treatment again!

1. Shrinkage

Your hair’s ability to draw itself in or “shrink up” as we call it, shows just how healthy your curls are. Seeing as though it hides our true length, shrinkage has proven to be one of the most annoying things for curly girls. But don’t worry too much, textured hair that shrinks up proves that your hair is at its strongest and most moisturized. Help to ensure the continued health of your hair with a weekly deep conditioning treatment to seal in moisture!

2. Elasticity

Elasticity or the “stretch” in our curls is closely related to the keratin in our hair. Think of healthy natural hair as a brand new scrunchie or rubber band; you can pull it as far as it will go and it still bounces back into its original position. On the contrary, unhealthy coils tend to be and look more lifeless, break easily, and struggle to spring back, if they do at all. Want to see if your curls can withstand the test? Gently tug on a strand or two. Do they bounce back into formation, break off, or struggle to get that curl back?

3. Shine

Shiny hair is normally hair that has a lower porosity and easily retains moisture. Healthy natural hair will shine without the help of oils and sprays because the shine comes from within. The next time you have the dreaded #WashDay, put your hair to the test by taking a curl and patting it dry (with a t-shirt or microfiber towel of course). Is it dull and lifeless, or springy and full of shine?

4. Fullness

The true fullness and thickness of natural hair can sometimes be a little hard to see, being that every curl is different and we tend to use so many different products, which can manipulate the look of volume in our hair. For example, certain cream based products can wear the hair down, making it look thinner. Naturally, fuller hair tends to “clump” together when it is combed or brushed. The best way to determine the fullness (or lack thereof) of your natural hair is to look at it in it’s natural, product-free, unaltered state.

How do you maintain the health of YOUR hair?

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Life After the Protective Style

If you have ever worn a protective style, wigs, Marley twists, box braids, etc., then you should know that bittersweet feeling of taking off the wig or taking out the twists or braids.

This is a bittersweet moment because hopefully you loved wearing your protective style and it made you feel different and you knew your hair was

protected and growing, and that’s the “sweet” part. The “bitter” part comes in when you realize you have to spends hours taking out your extensions and possibly have to go back to styling your hair every day.

Just because it is a bittersweet task, doesn’t mean you should never want to wear protective styles or you should leave your protective style in a ridiculously long time, it just means you have to be mentally prepared when you are getting ready to take out your braids or twists.

Why do you have to be mentally prepared, you ask? Because a lot of questions run through your head, just like they ran through mine when I took out my Marley twists this past Sunday.

Questions like:

Before and After

“What if I don’t look as pretty with my braids/twists out?”

“Am I still going to like my natural hair when I take them out?”
“What if my hair didn’t grow as much as I wanted it to?”
“Is it possible that I damaged my hair?”
“Should I get another protective style right away?”

And many, many, more, but these are just a few thoughts that ran through my mind. Here is where the mental preparedness comes in…you have to be able to combat those semi-negative questions with uplifting and positive answers like the ones listed below.

First question response: You have to know you look beautiful with or without your protective style.

Second question response: You should always love your natural hair, no matter the texture, length, etc. Your natural hair is amazing!

Third question response: You have to remember that your hair will grow. Don’t get too caught up in length where you start neglecting health. Healthy hair will grow no matter what.

Fourth question response: If you know that you moisturized and conditioned your scalp and hair while it was under your protective style, then you have nothing to worry about! You hair is not damaged at all.

Fifth question response: You shouldn’t get a protective style right away, especially not if you want to do it because you feel like you don’t look as good while wearing your natural hair. Give your hair a break and re-embrace your own hair!

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The Makings Of A Perfect Wash Day

Wash Day, we all have to do it but seriously does it have to consume our day?  We wash, finger detangle, rinse, condition, comb through, rinse, and finally apply product. Sound familiar?

Whether you pre-poo or dive right into washing your hair; or you have short hair or long hair. Wash day can literally take over your entire day, so clear your plans and get ready to spend some one-on-one time with your curls!  Most routines are pretty standard and easy but remain time consiming.  Here we want to talk about how to simplify your routine so you can get back to loving your natural hair.

First step-Shampoo: We want to start off with the right shampoo for your hair.  This can often be a struggle because there are so many great shampoos for natural hair.  Some shampoos have sulfates and some do not, it is all about your personal preference and what you want to put in your hair.  So to help in the process of picking shampoos here are a couple popular shampoos for curly natural hair:

  • Carol’s Daughter Monoi oil shampoo
  • Giovanni Smooth As Silk Deep Moisture Shampoo
  • Kinky Curly Come Clean shampoo

Often times after washing your hair, your hair seems a little dry so to get some moisture back into your hair lets add some conditioner.

Second step- Condition:  Conditioner should be a curly girl’s BEST friend.  You can never have too much conditioner! whether your are using it as a leave in, co-wash, or as a follow up to your shampoo; conditioner is a hair saver.  So enough about how great conditioner is – lets get to some facts…

Conditioner softens and smooths your hair to make it easier to comb and detangle while keeping those gorgeous strands intact and not allowing breakage which prevents or lessens damage.

Moisture, Moisture, Moisture! Moisture is what your hair needs to keep it healthy and that is exactly what conditioner does; keeps the strands and ends moisturized.

The best part of all, conditioner leaves your hair shinny and silky unlike clarifying shampoo.  Now through trial and error you can decide what conditioner works best for you but here are a couple favorites:

  • Jane Carter Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture Raw Shea butter restorative Conditioner
  • Aussie Moist Conditioner
  • TRESemme’ Naturals moisturizing conditioner

The fun part begins, adding product.  This is where even more trial and error comes into play (notice a theme? lol).  It’s time to add your leave-in.

Third step- Leave- in conditioner:   I know we just talked about how great conditioner was so what is the difference?  Conditioner is to add moisture into the hair after it has been stripped by the use of shampoo.  You also wash (most) conditioners out of your hair after using. Leave- in conditioner is a leave in, there is no rinsing involved.  Leave-in can also be used as a styling product.  With leave-in conditioner it is there to keep and lock in the moisture and to prevent the breakage from everyday styling.

There is no such thing as too much moisture so use all the leave- in you want!  Just to give some suggestions, here are some great leave- ins:

  • Kinky Curly Knot today
  • Cantu Shea butter leave-in conditioning cream
  • Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture milk
  • Miss Jessie’s Leave In Condish

A lot has been said about how amazing and wonderful conditioner is but now lets talk about the tools you need to detangle and get all kinks and knots out.

Essential tools:  All the talk has been about which products to use in your hair.  These tools will help your curls bounce and make it easier to style and protect your hair.  Here are some things that maybe useful to you on wash day:

  • Wide tooth comb
  • Denman brush
  • Diffuser
  • Satin pillowcase or cap

Want to know what products Solange uses and styles her hair? In this great interview with Garance Dore we learn about Solange’s hair care regimen.

The Curly Chronicles will continue. Stay tuned!

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