Wednesday, January 30, 2013

7 Senegalese Twists: Day 3

I don't have a name for this style because I just came up with it, but it's a cute, classic look that can be worn to work or for an evening affair. I didn't have time to fix the bobby pins so they weren't visible, but you get the idea. ;)

7 Senegalese Styles: Day 2


Monday, January 28, 2013

7 Senegalese Styles: Day 1

Hey Ladies! 

I thought I'd do something fun and different. Since I'll have these Senegalese twists in for a while, I thought it would be fun for me to share a new style each day for a week. That way the next time you get Senegalese twists or microbraids, you'll have a mini style "arsenal" to keep things interesting.

So without further ado, here is today's style! 

Click here to see the video tutorial.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Senegalese Twists: Tips for Keeping Your Hair Healthy

I always say that your natural hair journey will take you to places within yourself that you never knew existed. 

Today marks a new level of growth in my hair journey - not physical growth, but spiritual. For the past couple weeks I'd found myself admiring (drooling over, really) Senegalese twists. Up until that point this was not a style that I was comfortable wearing. I'd been kind of skeptical of protective hairstyles with extensions because I wasn't convinced that they were effective at protecting the hair while also keeping it healthy. And to be completely transparent, I didn't think it was "me," just like before I started wearing my hair curly I didn't think twists were for me. But what I came to learn through my research on Senegalese twists over the past two weeks (and I'm still learning) is that this style, microbraids and similar styles are okay for your hair as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. I'll go into detail on these guidelines and probably add to them in upcoming posts, but in brief, here they are:

  1. Tightness Make sure your hair isn't braided/twisted too tightly, especially around the hairline ("edges"). That is where your hair is the weakest and the most prone to breakage from braids/twists that are installed too tightly.
  2. Keep it clean This is key for maintaining and growing a healthy head of hair whether your hair is in a protective style or not. Listen to your scalp. If it is itching constantly then it's time to wash. Many women like to co-wash their twists/braids.
  3. Moisturize I've heard of many women who moisturize their hair twice a day when it's in Senegalese twists or microbraids. I think this is sound advice as the synthetic hair and cold weather (if winters are cold where you live) can drain the moisture out of your hair. 
I'm sure there are more tips for keeping your hair healthy while in Senegalese twists, but as I said this is my first time with them and I'm still learning. If you have any tips you'd like to add, please do so in the comment box at the bottom. I can't wait to hear from you. :)

Unlike the pictures indicate, I am THRILLED with how they turned out and I absolutely love them! I'm making those faces because I was dog TIRED after getting them in! LOL! We literally stayed up through the night into the following afternoon to finish them!

I have a lot of styling ideas in the works for my Senegalese twists, so stay tuned! ;)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cute Updo or New Pineappling Technique?

In an effort to preserve my braid-n-curl, a few nights ago I put my hair up a bit differently for bed. I always pineapple at night, but it usually makes my hair kind of flat the next day. Since my 'do was really bouncy, I wanted to preserve the curl without having to pin curl (I've never pin curled before and I wasn't tryin' to learn at bedtime! lol). So I pulled on my biggest nylon hair tie (I LOVE my hair ties! more on that later) as if I was going to pineapple it, but I wore it kind of like a headband instead. Then I thought, How can I keep my curls bouncy? Next thing I knew I was reaching for my largest, strongest hair clip! I leaned forward to get my hair to hang down toward the floor. With both hands I gently grouped together my ends and pushed them onto my head. Then with my left hand holding my hair in place, I secured my hair on top of my head with the hair clip. Stood up, made a few adjustments, and voila! I was ready for bed. Only time would tell if this new trick would actually work. 
This hair clip is amazing! Rarely do I find a
clip that can hold all of my hair without breaking!
This one does that and I've dropped it many
times but it's still intact. YAY :)
When I woke up the next morning, took off my satin scarf and let my hair down, I was very pleasantly surprised with the had worked!! And not only had it worked, but it looked like day 1 hair!! (Unfortunately I didn't think to take pics of when I put my hair up the first night, so the first two pics were from the second night that I used this technique.) 
My curls still had bounce! The only thing I noticed was that my hair was a little fuzzy on the top. But that doesn't bother me.

Chime in gals - what do you think? Cute updo, new pineappling technique or both? Oh! And did I mention that yesterday I actually DID wear my hear out of the house pulled up like that!! LOL!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Braid-n-Curl

Yesterday I did my first braid-n-curl. I absolutely love the results! What do you think?!
Here's how I did it:

After shampooing and conditioning my hair this past wash day, I set my braids as usual with my modified Kimmaytube leave-in conditioner recipe (see my Product Preferences page for my version). Unfortunately I had to go out that evening so I wasn't able to set my hair until the next day. But since my hair takes forever to dry, it was still quite damp the following morning. I applied a little SheaMoisture Curl & Style Milk to each braid, making sure my ends were thoroughly coated so they would curl and not frizz. Then I rolled each braid onto a large flexirod. I kept them in until the evening when I had to go out. My hair was still a little damp in the back when I took them down, but I didn't care. "The bigger, the better" is how I think now! 

My accessory-free way of keeping my hair
out of my face - keeping the base of the front
braid secured. 
My hair had such nice bounce to it which I really liked (I'm not used to that with my regular braid-outs). I am definitely keeping this style in my arsenal. ;)

Friday, January 18, 2013

How to Choose Your Products

Whether you are just starting your natural hair journey or you're a veteran who hasn't quite found the right products for your mane, this post is for you!

Natural or Synthetic?

Selecting products that have or do not have certain ingredients is a matter of personal preference. You may not care what ingredients are in your products, and that's perfectly fine. Or you may be the opposite, and that's okay too. Everyone is different so don't let anyone try to force their way of doing things onto you. When I began my no-heat growth journey, since I was doing both me and my infant daughter's hair, it was important to me that I sought out the most natural (preferably organic) products that were effective but also friendly to my wallet.


This probably goes without saying but I'm gonna say it anyway, lol. Be realistic with your budget and spend wisely. It can be tempting to go out and buy everything you hear about, I know. But exercise control. No two heads are alike, so not every product works for everyone, even if you have the same texture. Just because that 10oz jar of product that costs $50 a pop gave someone else phenomenal results doesn't necessarily mean that your hair is going to respond the same way. And you'll have blown $50.

Pick It & Stick with It

Consistency goes a long way when it comes to maintaining a healthy, growing head of hair. And if healthy hair is your goal then you'll need to learn what product combination works for your tresses. The only way to do that is by using a product several times. If you don't do this and instead jump from product to product, then you'll never know what is really working for you and what is not.

"Is this product working?"

From washing through styling, you should take note of how your hair responds to the products you're using. Is your hair dry, dull, brittle, crunchy when touched, mushy, breaking a lot? If so then it may be time to re-examine your product stash. Trust me - your hair will let you know whether it "likes" a product. If you still think you're not getting the results you should with a product, then set it aside for a bit and come back to it later.

Style Matters

How you style your hair can also play a role in how your hair responds to a product. For example, the SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie is supposed to do just that - enhance the curl pattern while also adding moisture to each strand. The first time I used this product I attempted a wash-n-go and it was a mess. But I didn't give up on the product - I simply used it for a different style. During the winter of 2011 I began applying a little of the CE Smoothie on top of the Kimmaytube leave-in conditioner when two-strand twisting my hair. And the results? Phenomenal!! My hair was super moisturized, soft, didn't feel weighed down and had a healthy sheen for days on end. Not to mention the twist-outs were ah-mahzing! I knew it was a quality product; I just had to figure out how to make it work for me.

Hope this helps! As always, if you have any questions please feel free to comment below or drop me a line via email at

Peace & Blessings!

Lauren <3

Friday, January 4, 2013

9 Tips for Transitioning

Transitioning? Congrats! I know, this is a big decision. I began the transitioning process in late 2006. Let me tell you: you're about to embark on a wonderful journey that will teach you about much more than just your hair. So how about a few tips to equip you for your journey?
September 2005
Before I started transitioning. That was as long as I could get
my hair to grow because I was relaxing and using a lot of heat
on my hair all the time. (And that is my hubby, Alex! He
definitely wins the award for Best Husband!)
1. Handle your hair gently This is very important. As your hair grows out, you will notice that your natural texture is different from that of your relaxed hair. The part where the two textures meet is called the line of demarcation. The name isn't important, but what really matters is how you treat this part of your hair for it is THE most fragile. Mishandling this area as your hair grows out will lead to breakage and unhealthy hair.

2. Moisture This can be a tricky one as everyone's moisture needs are different. But you should definitely incorporate a moisturizing deep conditioning step into your regimen because moisture keeps your hair pliable and healthy. The frequency will depend on your hair's specific needs, so pay attention to what your hair is telling you. For example, if you're doing a deep condition (DC) once a week and you notice that your hair begins to feel mushy when it's wet, then you're probably over-conditioning. But if on the other hand your hair feels hard or brittle then you probably need to condition more. To find out what products I use for my DCs, click here.

3. Minimize Heat This is huge. I transitioned before I knew anything about caring for my natural hair, so I used a lot of heat when I transitioned (without a heat protectant), especially in the front since I wore half wigs a lot. As a result that part of my hair suffered from heat damage (lost its curl) and I'm still growing it out (yes, depending on your length it will literally take years to grow out the heat damage because hair only grows about a 1/2 inch a month, on average). I would recommend that you eliminate the use heat styling tools such as blow dryers and flat irons during the transitioning process. If you absolutely cannot resist using heat, then use a good heat protectant prior to blow drying and flat ironing.
March 2007
I wore half wigs a lot while transitioning
but wasn't using a heat protectant so the front
suffered a lot of heat damage.
4. Blending Textures As your natural texture grows out it will become increasingly difficult to blend it with the relaxed portion of your hair. Depending on the kinkiness of your natural texture, this may not be a problem for you. But if your hair is more on the kinky/coily side like mine, then you will need to consider how you will wear your hair. There is always the option of avoiding this altogether by wearing wigs, half wigs, weaves and protective hairstyles such as microbraids, Senegalese twists, etc. Just be sure to care for your hair properly in these styles with regular washing to keep your scalp clean and DC to maintain moisture levels. But if you don't wish to add hair and you still need to blend textures, then twists and twist-outs, braids, box braids, braid-outs, flat twists, bantu knots and more...they're all options for you. Go here to see some of my styles.

5. Detangling I didn't learn about proper detangling practices until I was completely natural. But how you detangle is as important as maintaining moisture. Once you're completely natural, you will be able to consider other detangling options such as dry finger detangling. But until the relaxer is gone, you should only detangle your hair with a wide-toothed comb when it is wet and saturated with a moisturizing conditioner that has a lot of slip. The more your natural hair grows out, the more difficult your hair may be to detangle, especially if your natural texture is much kinkier than your relaxed hair. Section your hair and always start detangling at the tips or ends of your hair, then gradually move up toward your scalp as you feel the comb moving through without getting caught.

6. Trimming The more your natural texture grows out, the more you may feel the desire to trim off your relaxed ends. As long as you are keeping your ends healthy, how much and how often you trim while transitioning is up to you. It all depends on your comfort level with the length of your hair. The important thing is to make sure your ends are healthy. How can you tell if your ends are healthy? When you hold your ends up to the light and they are blunt - not split, tapered or thin - then they are healthy.

7. Emotional Roller Coaster Transitioning is an emotional process. There may be days that you're excited to "meet" your natural hair. Then there may be days that your hair frustrates you and you want to chop it all off, which is absolutely ok to do! Lots of women "big chop" or "BC." Quite honestly, if I'd had the nerve I would've done it myself. I've had friends who were struggling with transitioning and I encouraged them to BC because in terms of manageability, it is much easier to BC than it is to transition. But the BC isn't for everyone. Transitioning or BCing is a decision that you will have to make. 

8. Only Your Opinion Matters On your journey to going to natural you may begin to receive strange comments or looks from those around you. Don't be surprised if the bulk of those comments and looks come from family or close friends. I've heard of a lot of naturals who have had to deal with that. But don't be discouraged. Give them the grace to be ignorant and just do you. They don't have to understand your decision to go natural and it doesn't matter if they like it. What matters is how YOU feel about your hair.

9. Community The journey to natural is just that - a journey. While transitioning I didn't know about the growing online natural hair community that could've really helped me. There are hundreds and hundreds of natural hair blogs, You Tube videos and articles that will help and encourage you as you transition. A good place to start would be CurlyNikki. She has paved the way for naturals the world over and provides great tips and knowledge about natural hair.

I hope these tips help you on your journey to natural! Stay encouraged! Believe me, it IS worth it!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Havana Twists - My New Hair Craving!!

Ok you guys I have been gushing over these luscious twists for days now! I'd seen this style a few months back but for whatever reason it didn't catch my eye until recently when I was on Instagram. I'm really considering installing them myself...there are plenty of tutorials out there. It would only depend on whether I'd have the time since my barely 3-foot boss, Puuddy, likes to keep me busy! LOL! What do you think?? If you've installed them yourself I'd be so grateful for some tips!

Product Review: SheaMoisture Moisture Retention Shampoo

I must preface this by saying that I am by NO stretch of the imagination a "product junkie." I use what I have and when I run out, I replace it. But from time to time I like to try something new, especially if I feel there's something in my regimen that isn't working.

That being said, after alternating between my softened shampoo recipe, co-washing and ACV rinsing for months, I felt that something wasn't quite right. I decided to go out and buy a different sulfate-free shampoo (I'd used Kinky-Curly's sulfate-free shampoo months ago but it left my hair stripped of moisture, dry and tangled). This time I went with SheaMoisture's Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo as I have had good experiences with other products in their line and their ingredients often fit my preferences.


Product Name: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo 

On the bottle it says that it is geared toward "Dry, Damaged Hair"
Product claim: "Hydrates, smoothes and repairs strands, leaving hair manageably soft."

Ingredients: Deionized water, Decyl Glucoside (Sugar Beets), African Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Argan Oil, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B-5), Rosemary Extract, Sea Kelp Extract, Vitamin E, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower (and) Lonicera Japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower Extract.

At first glance the "Decyl Glucoside" caught my attention as I prefer naturally-based ingredients. But the "Sugar Beets" description led me to believe that it was a naturally-derived ingredient and therefore nothing to worry about. As I stood in the aisle further examining the label, I wondered if this product would lather as I couldn't tell from the ingredient list. However I was quite surprised when I got in the shower....

The Experience

Smell It doesn't smell bad but it does have a strong, noticeable scent. Fortunately the smell dissipated after I conditioned.

Texture Smooth, cream-colored liquid. Not too thick, not too runny.

Application Usually I prefer bottles with pumps when it comes to my shampoo and conditioner, but I have to say this bottle and dispenser work well because the product isn't so thick that it's hard to squeeze out. Also, a little product goes a long way, which is a plus in my book!

Lather Even though I only needed a little product for each section of hair, it still created a lot of lather, which made me a bit nervous at first because I thought it would dry out my hair. But much to my surprise, when I rinsed my hair it didn't feel stripped of moisture at all! In fact it felt rather moisturized and soft! From shampoo?? I couldn't believe it! I also noticed that it didn't create tangles. Yay! But which ingredient was causing all this lather? I didn't see any sulfates on the list, but as I sat down to write this post I researched "Decyl Glucoside" and found my answer. This ingredient is a naturally-derived, nonionic surfactant. If the word "nonionic" reminds you of those awful days in chem class, no worries. All you need to know is that it is one of the mildest surfactants available and can be combined with other surfactants. And what are surfactants? Cleansing agents.


Overall I was very impressed with this product - I definitely plan to use it again. There was only one drawback: it didn't work as well on my daughter's hair! :( I even diluted it with distilled water but it still left her hair tangled and dry. Her hair is much finer than mine, so I think that may have something to do with it. Maybe it created too much lather for her fine tresses, causing the dryness and tangles? I'll give it one more go 'round, maybe with distilled water + a few drops of olive oil or grapeseed oil....

Have you tried this product? What was your experience?

Natural Hair Inspiration

Kaila Wilson

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Henna 101

What is henna?
Henna comes from the leaves of the Lawsonia inermis plant and is used to dye the hair and/or create henna body art. There are two types of henna you can choose from to dye your hair: body art quality (BAQ) and henna for hair. I've found that the best henna for me is the BAQ because: 1) BAQ is a much finer sift so it doesn't leave any gritty residue in my thick, dense hair and 2) BAQ has a higher dye uptake which yields a richer color that is permanent when the BAQ henna powder is mixed with an acidic liquid such as green tea. 

Even after I started using henna I was confused by all the 'henna' products out there. It wasn't until I began researching for this post that I fully understood the difference between real henna and its impostors. Real henna (Lawsonia inermis) leaves a reddish-orange tint (the results vary based on your natural hair color). If you're a brunette then henna will not turn your hair bright red but rather it will combine with your color and add a reddish-orange tint. 'Neutral Henna' is not actually henna but Cassia obovata (or Cassia for short). Cassia has other benefits that I'm not going to cover in this post. 'Black Henna' isn't henna either but is actually Indigo. The confusion between the three may arise from the fact that A) in powder form they all appear greenish in color and B) there are products that claim to be "henna" but actually are not pure henna. According to Henna for Hair, a trusted henna info source:

Some Blonde, Brown, Auburn, Mahogany, and other “shades” of henna are mixes of amla, indigo, walnut, rhubarb, and Lawsonia, with other plant or synthetic dyes added, and may have metallic salts added. Many of these products have no henna whatsoever and are chemical dyes. Some commercial brands that claim to be 100% natural may include a bottle of “developer”; beware!  This is a completely bogus addition, as far as henna itself is concerned and is the biggest indicator that your product is NOT even close to being 100% pure henna!  The labeling on these products is often misleading, inaccurate, false, or entirely missing.  The quality is often very poor.

Why do you use henna?  
Henna is an excellent conditioner for the hair. Lawsone, the red-orange dye molecule, penetrates the shingle-like cuticle layer of the hair shaft and bonds to the keratin in the cortex or middle layer of the hair strand. This strengthens the hair strand much like a protein treatment. Since the color of our hair is determined by the color found in the cortex, the lawsone molecule acts as a red-orange tint and combines with your natural hair color. With repeated applications henna will make your color deeper and richer. For example, I've been using henna for several months now and as a result my hair is a deep, rich burgundy in the light. When I'm not in bright light I think it appears to be reddish-brown.

Henna has also been known to loosen the natural curl pattern when used repeatedly. I love henna for this reason because my thick, dense, pencil-diameter coils and curls can be difficult to manage. If your curls are already loose you may want to choose Cassia over henna as Cassia has the same conditioning properties as henna but without the curl-loosening effect. 
My hennaed hair. You'll notice that the portion of my hair
that's in the shade appears darker, while the portion in
the sunlight has a reddish tint.

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