Wednesday 31 August 2011

My First (proper) Festival

Though the festival season in the UK is trailing off now, I was very fortunate enough to go to one last weekend with The Wonder Thing and his family. Festivals in the UK tend to mean three things:
Great entertainment, Porta-loos (that have transformed into Porta-Grossness by the last day) and a notable lack of showering. When I usually go to a festival, I'm working, but this time I was going to be able to have fun!

I knew it was going to involve camping, and probably rain and not enough time/resources to 'nurture' my hair properly.

So my initial plan for Friday went like this:

- Wake up at 6
- Shower, wash and condition hair
- After drying slightly with towel, apply some wheatgerm oil
- Section hair into 24, apply leave in
- Dry hair in Curlformers (and to have done all this by 7am)
- While hair is drying, pack everything
- When hair is dry (hopefully in 3 hours), remove Curl formers one at a time
- Twist each section with Shea Butter
- Leave house, catch bus, walk to station, buy tickets

And of course, there would be cherubs singing a celestial song as I did all this, and the edges of my vision would be all misty and not quite in focus.

I woke up at 7am, and then realised that I must've been off my rocker when I devised the original plan the original plan was completely unrealistic.
What happened instead was:

- Shower
- I run around the house packing furiously, which somehow took me 2 and a half hours because I was looking for my sleeping bag and head torch
- I start twisting at 10:30am
- I stop twisting at 11: 30am. This doesn't mean I've finished, just that I've run out of time. 
- I start running around panicking about what I may have forgotten for 10 minutes and then leave the house to walk to the bus stop
- The Littlest Sis runs after me. I have forgotten my phone (of all things).
- I tuck the unfinished section of hair behind my ear as it starts raining.
- The bus is late. It is still raining. I ponder what design error meant that my waterproof coat was made with no hood.
- Bus finally arrives. 
- Power walks to train station.
- When I arrive at train station, I am almost wheezing too hard to ask for ticket.
- I buy my ticket, leap onto the train that has just arrived, find a seat and complete the unfinished section of hair.

Between 29 and 40 twists. I still haven't counted them.

The weekend was brilliant. I enjoyed it so very much. Lots of walking and joking and laughter and fun and listening to amazing music.

My hair held up well. I just wore it in its normal bun for the weekend. At occasions, it was very messy, but I'm sure nobody noticed *hopeful face*

If you can see my scalp, does that mean my parting is getting better?

The only kit I took with me was my satin scarf, and an elastic band to hold it on while I slept. The elastic band turned out to be completely useless because I'd forgotten my torch, and couldn't find the (black) elastic in the dark. I also brought some hair bands, my scrunchie and hair pins, but I only used two hair pins to keep up the twists who wanted to do their own thing. So no products and near to complete minimalism on the hair accessory front.


By Saturday, my scalp was itchy.

By Sunday, it was on fire. I'm not someone who should really go more than a 5-7 days without washing my hair, and this was pushing 10 days.

The Wonder Thing was not having his hair being greasy, so shampooed with cold water.

Let me repeat that: COLD WATER.

I considered it, because the little dance he did when they poured the near freezing water over his head was inventive enough that I nearly wanted to join in.

Plus, there was always the possibility of boiling some water up so I could wash my hair with warm water.

But I was far too lazy and my hair was not my priority at that time; it would have to wait until I got home. I thoroughly enjoyed myself using the time I would've spent on my hair listening to some awesome people.
Such fun!

Monday 29 August 2011

A Grand Plan

Whilst desperately working my butt off this summer, in the midst of beating off boredom, apathy and wasps, I suddenly had A Bright Idea.

Why don't I try and save up £1000? 

It's not that I've never had £1000 in my bank account before, but that money, dutifully loaned to me by the Student Loan Company to maintain my very existence, was usually already earmarked for 'rent.'. 

I have never in my life had £1000 to call my own, that I could control without having it already destined for some greater, other purpose. I'm that type of student they talk about in the news - not the one who didn't need to worry about fees too much since they already had had some money tucked away, but the one whose entire university education was based completely on loans. And in the face of the £20,000+ debt I currently owe the Student Loan Company, I think £1000 would be a little ray of sunshine.

So, I thought to myself, why not? My jobs this summer have given me a nice spring board of about £400. That means that there'd £600 left on me to somehow raise, by this time next year.

Why a grand? Why not two or three or ten? 

Well, for me, it's a realistic goal. It's something I can see myself working towards and at the same time, it's a goal I'd be happy to achieve, but at the same time, it's a bit of a challenge. A goal that my thrifty skills can  A nice little pillow of money so that if things  go belly up [as they are wont to do], then I wouldn't be in such a tight spot.

Hopefully, by now, I should have opened my very first ISA to get the ball rolling.

Oh my goodness. I'll have an ISA. Does this mean I'll be an adult soon?

Friday 26 August 2011

Mama Do

My mother was attempting to carefully coax me into the chair, using her tried and tested methods of maternal nagging and emotional blackmail. She succeeds - I'm down, in a room without television to encourage any distracted squirming. Product is generously spritzed onto my hair and a comb is magically made to appear, as though from thin air.
The comb is led towards the hair; its teeth, that had previously seemed so non-threatening, now seemed to give the comb a predatory air, that promised of tugging and pain and general discomfort. My skin started to creep with anxiety and fear, and my throat started to close up tightly in fear. I couldn't help myself. I winced in anticipation of the incoming pain....

That's not a memory from when I was a kid. That was me on a quiet Sunday evening a few weeks ago. I have to admit, it was all my fault really.

Mum: Do you ever comb your hair?
Me: Yes ma, of course I do.. I comb [de-tangle] at least once a week. (Sanctimoniously) In fact, I'm about to do it now.
Mum: Oooh! Let me do it!
Me: ...Er....
Mum: *bemused* You never let me touch that head of yours, you know. What's so special about it?
Me: (Guiltily) Nothing. Er. I mean. Okay. Let's do this.

Hoisted by my own petard.

I'm not a fan of styling my hair when it's wet, but I don't mind it damp or dry. But dry would've been a nightmare. So I mixed up a herb based detangling brew and poured it into a spray bottle. I also got my trusty wide tooth shower comb.

Boots Shower Comb - only the finest!

I plonked myself on the chair, separated my hair into 7 rough sections and liberally spritzed the spray onto the first three areas we'd be working with. When I flinched, my mum gently poked me in my forehead.

Mum: I'm your mother. I'm not going to intentionally hurt you.

I appreciate the fact she kept her promise.

The detangling brew made things so much easier since it gave quite a bit of slip (and made my hair sooo darn soft. But that's another post for another day), and my mum started from the ends and worked her way down to the roots. I helped out, finger detangling the next section she would be working on and twisting the sections she had just finished.

But my mum was not content with simply detangling. She'd been having a lot of fun playing in my hair ("Oooh, it's so soft!") and wanted to see it through to the end.

Which meant styling. And new tools to use.

*Jaws theme tune*

Luckily, about an hour earlier, I'd left out a couple of my flaxseed gel ice cubes to defrost, so that was my styler sorted. For the tools, my mum got to pick. Her hair tools of choice [from the limited selections I offered her - I hid my Denman] included a soft bristle brush,  as well as the fine tooth comb for the parting.

Re the soft bristle brush: I'm not a fan of brushing, but the way my edges curl up annoys the heck out of my mum. When I used to be on forums a lot more, I remember posting a thread topic asking if anyone could help me deal with my thick edges.
I. Got. Crickets.
Apparently, thick edges is not seen as a serious problem. Thus I let them be and then, ultimately, forgot about them.
But my mum could not forget and took great joy in being about to brush and smooth them out.

 I don't know where we actually got the brush from, but I think it is actually a body brush.

When she had finished, she declared her handiwork 'beautiful!'.

To her credit, I can honestly say my mum put more work into my hair styling in that half an hour than I do in a week.

That's not a hair accessory.
That's my wonky lampshade.

Oooh, flaxseed gel, how it glistens.

It was...all sleek and had reduced volume and whatnot. I was bemused by how much my mum loved the way it (now) looked.

I learned that my mum can be trusted with my hair and my mum learned about the versatility of natural hair. Brilliant, right?

Mum: You know, I saw this girl, and she has natural hair and she straightens, no, she said she "presses" it, and it was so straight it looked relaxed! Maybe you could try it...just for special events, not every day.
Me: *firmly pretends not to hear*

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Duh Moment: An inch is an inch

In maths class as a child, we used to have these assignments where there would be a drawn line on the page, followed by the question 'Estimate how long this line is.'

I remember thinking this was an exercise in silliness. 

"Why not let me use my ruler to measure the line? Then we'll know exactly how long the line is!"

I think you may have already worked out I was terrible when it came to those guesstimation questions. Turns out that this is a trait that has followed me into adult life, despite having learnt to appreciate and embrace silliness in most of its forms.

If you scour hair related blogs as much as I do, then you've heard it before: 'On average, hair grows half an inch a month.' "Oh!" You think. "That's cool."

But wait.

How long is an inch exactly ?

On my computer, this is actually to scale. I'm not sure about everyone's though!
Before I actually took the time to check this out, my mental measurement of an inch was where the orange arrow is on the measuring tape. My expectations were way ahead of the actual reality. And a half inch is a lot smaller than I thought!

I wonder if people who think that their hair doesn't grow, or that they have slow hair growth, have ever checked out how big an inch actually is?

Monday 22 August 2011

Working Girl

Yours truly has been working.

I say 'been working' as opposed to 'a job' as I am currently a temp.

My previous mode of employment this summer involved hawking food at a 3 day event for at least 8 hours a day. Since our stall was the only one of its kind at the event, the line was long and constant. 8 hours of gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) customer demand eventually takes its toll on your tootsies!

At the moment, I'm  currently working in a factory for 8 hours a day nearly midnight.

The deafening thunder of the industrial machines is dulled to a background thrumming by ear protectors that also prevent us workers from speaking clearly to each other. But we've managed to develop our own methods of communication, mainly dependant on exaggerated facial expression, subtle hand gestures and pointing. If we lean in close, we can talk, but we rarely have time with that except for those closest in proximity to us.

Oh, what a glamourous life I live!

Chocolate is now my mainstay to make sure that I have enough superficial energy to keep going for my shift.

But it's been inspiring in a lot of different ways. On our breaks we chat (and I eat biscuits). Many of the people  working there speak more than one language (one guy speaks five) and we all have plans to get out of the factory as soon as our contracts are up in order to move onwards and upwards. For all of us, it's merely a means to a far bigger end.

Ambition is not something that is lacking amongst us temps and it encourages and reminds me of my own plans for the future. It means that when the weekend rolls around, that free time to spend as we wish is more precious than gold.

Monday 15 August 2011

Mixtress Mischief: Scalp Soother Serum

Sometimes, my scalp has its bad days - days where it's dry, or a little bit on the itchy side, or when it's been exposed to the sun a little bit too long for it. I love this mixture because it's light, non greasy and incredibly cooling on the scalp - especially if you've left it in the fridge for a bit. It absorbs quickly into the scalp

Preparation Time: 2 mins


1 tbsp (or 15ml) of aloe vera gel (45p)
1/4 tbsp (or 5ml) of grapeseed oil [or 4 drops of Japanese Camellia Oil or jojoba or any other light oil you have on hand] (3p)
3 drops of eucalyptus oil (35p)
3 drop of lavender oil (40p)
3 drops of Copaiba oil (so very optional) (26p)
Total cost: £1.49

Grapeseed Oil - This was the lightest oil I had on hand, since I didn't want to clog up my scalp.
Aloe Vera Gel - renowned for its healing and soothing properties
Lavender Essential Oil (Lavendula angustifolia) - Again, renowned for its calming and soothing properties. Also, I hate the smell of lavendula angustifolia by itself because I actually meant to buy lavendula officinalis. But augustifolia is what I've got, so that's what I'm putting down here.
Eucalyptus Essental Oil - Supposed anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. And something about encouraging ceramide production in the hair encouraging.
Copaiba Oil - read more here.


Basically, I put all the ingredients in a small glass jar and shook it as hard as I could, until the aloe vera gel had gone from clear... a slightly thicker, creamier and translucent cream.

And you're done! To use, simple use your fingertips to apply the serum to the area and gently massage it in.

I usually apply this a day after washing or whenever I think my scalp needs it. My mum likes it and I hope you will too!

Friday 12 August 2011

Mixtress Mischief: Bentonite Baby!

I bought 200g of bentonite clay from Neals Yard Remedies, around the time of the Royal Wedding, because they were doing free shipping over the bank holidays.

Man, I love me some free shipping.

Although you order it in how many quantities of 100g you want, it all just came in one all consuming plastic bag. Better for the environment I guess!

Attempt 1

I actually tried it a while ago, but I'm easily confused and was so used to doing my Cassia and other things with hot water that when I made my horsetail tisane, I simply just added it straight to the bentonite..

...and promptly cooked the clay.

Well, that's what I thought. It's far more likely that I was being extra stingy with the bentonite clay and ended up with a watery mistake. I remember thinking it felt like under cooked porridge.

Ew. I tried to use it but it seemed pretty useless.

The REAL Attempt 1
This time I made no mistake and added my water cold.

I took out 1/2 cup (100-120g) of bentonite clay.

Then I slowly added between 1 and 1.5 cup of water (between 250 - 375ml) of water, mixing slowly with my wooden spoon until a (reasonably) smooth paste was formed.
Mine had quite a few lumps but you know, I thought you either like it or lump it.

I'm sorry. I can't help myself!

When applying, I simple scooped up parts of the mixture, rubbed it gently between my hands to get rid of any lumps, and then added it directly to my hair.

After I finished generously applying the bentonite clay mix to my hair and scalp and bits of my ears, I noted that there was still quite a bit left over.

So I threw it into a plastic bag and stuck it into the freezer.

Then I took advantage of the temporary colour of my hair to dance around the house like a golden oldie.

I was jiving and shaking and being crochety, like a rhuematic James Brown all over the place for the 25 minutes this was in my hair.

Ow! I feel good!
I rinsed it out with warm /tepid water and it didn't take long at all to rinse it out. Halfway through rinsing, I realised that my hair felt a little bit dry, so I decided to nix the idea to see how it felt by itself with no conditioner afterwards. I made sure to condition well with my Tresemmé Naturals conditioner, leaving it on for the full 5 minutes before de-tangling and rinsing.

Then I moisturised with my Giovanni Direct Leave in and my hair butter and twisted my hair up immediately.

My hair felt clean, my scalp was singing and I was content with the results, but I still remembered the drying effect I'd felt in the shower. In my next bentonite experiment I decided to add some aloe vera gel and see how that worked out.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Round My Hometown

I had been up in Nottingham over the weekend, so I was late to hear the news. My cousins, who were staying over, were telling me that shops in Stratford had been raided.

Raided? What did they mean raided? Didn't they mean robbed?

And then I went onto the BBC website and saw the news and felt my heart sink to new lows and my stomach trembled violently as I watched parts of my beloved hometown disappear in smoke and anger and destruction. The realization hit and I was winded by it. The chaos was spreading throughout England, mainly by broadcasts over Blackberry messenger, and my facebook timeline showed a range of emotions, spanning to fury, fear, disappointment and attempts at strengthening humour by others.

I pray for strength for the police forces, doing their best to hold back the roaring mobs.
I pray for comfort for the business owners who will have to face the devastation this morning.
I pray for calm for those whose hearts and pockets felt empty and restless enough to take advantage of a sad situation.
And I pray that London will remember itself, recapture itself and somehow manage to rise from the ashes, so that when it hears this song, its depths feel pride in knowing that these words are still true.

Friday 5 August 2011

British Bloggers - Part 2

I remember ranting a while about the distinct lack of British bloggers that I could find.

A year, it hasn't exactly changed the situation. But it's gotten better. Or, you know, I just stopped being so lazy.

Natural Hair Bloggers and Vloggers
JC at Natural Haven
Natural Belle
The Natural Lounge
Simone's Crazy World
Naturally Random
Wande's World
Leila-Jean at FusionofCultures
SoFroLushes Hair Chronicles
Lionness Mane (LeiLei08)
Pamera (not a blog - a fotki. She has lovely hair and is a fan of weaves).
Spelt with a C
GirlsLoveYourCurls (I love her recollections and reconstructions of her own experiences with her hair in her videos, though her product selection makes me think she's not in the UK any more...seriously guys, what's with all the emigrating to America?!)
CareForYourHair and the facebook page
Lolascrib and her blog LolasCurls
My Kinks and Curls
That Girl With The Fro
Naturally Speaking
Loc Evolution
Me, My Locs and I
Holistic Locs
Moderne Maid
Curly Beautys (in Denmark)
The Naprika
My Long Hair Journey (Natural and Relaxed Hair)
Revive UK
Lela Devine
There is another (British) blog that I just happen to love reading that doesn't have much to do with hair:

Yoruba Girl Dancing [Uh. There aren't enough words to describe how much I love this woman's writing. She talks about feminism. What Bradley Cooper does to certain people's ovaries. And other things I wish I was intelligent enough to come up with first. I'm just going to stop now. But just know this - when she came back from hiatus, I did a little dance of pure elicited joy].

This is not a definitive list - these are simply the blogs I've found and remembered to bookmark. If you've found any more good ones, please let me know in the comments!

Tuesday 2 August 2011

3in6 recap

So the 3in6 challenge officially finished yesterday. The guidelines went like this:

1. Eat fresh vegetables or fruits with each meal. 

The fruits thing was easy. I typically eat about 3-4 portions of fruit a day as my snacks. And eating vegetables wasn't too hard, but I always ended up ending the same ones. The typical student lifestyle on campus doesn't lend itself to being able to access a huge range of fresh vegetables and fruit.

2. Take a daily multivitamin.
Complete and utter fail. I hate having to take pills and I always forgot. But I did try! 

3. Drink sufficient water. (Amt of water in oz. = Your weight in lbs * 0.5)
According to that calculation, I was supposed to be drinking nearly 3 litres of water a day, which was unlikely to happen on my usual sedentary-sat-in-front-of-a-glowing-screen day. So I stuck for drinking between 1.5 litres and 2 litres a day. This has been a habit of mine since I was about 14, so not too difficult.
But seriously - 3 litres a day?! 

4. Wear twists or braids 2-4 weeks at a time.
Well, I tried. But I didn't manage to wear my hair in braids or twists all the time. It's a matter of convenience and sometimes it was time to take my hair down before I wound up cutting them off out of laziness. I think I only started to take it seriously when I did my first set of small/mini braids/plaits and decided I liked them.
But there was definitely more than two weeks of free hair, where I just wore my signature two bun puffs for a week at a time due to lack of time and motivation.

5. No direct heat.

Done. Easy peasy due to my intense fear of heat damage. 

And the fact I don't own any hair heating appliances.

6. Pre-poo with coconut oil for 20 minutes.
Until I copied this list, I'd totally forgotten about this bit! I think I stopped doing it, June? I did it occasionally when it came to Cassia...but I'm lazy as, and the whole waiting around for 20 minutes meant I'd get real bored real quickly and forget what I was doing.

7. Absolutely no trimming.  (Start with a fresh cut now if need be.)

Uh....I guess I can say....whoops? In my defence, my split ends were out of control. And it was just a one time thing.

So - The all important question: did I manage to maintain 3 inches in 6 months?

The short answer is...

I don't know. The fact is I totally forgot to to measure my hair at the beginning even though I was told. I assume I was swept up with something mildly important things Food. And coursework. And eating.

Eating is important business people.

But hey! I at least hit Armpit length! So I'm already on track for this year's hair ambitions!

Twisout attempt 1

My hair was dry and I wanted to do something with it, as well as test out my latest shea butter mix. It was not freshly washed and detangled.

Products used: Giovanni Direct Leave In and Bee Mine Curly Rip off. And a little water to make the ends curl. Oil Mix made mainly of Olive Oil to take down.

Any special technique?: Nope. Just applied the Direct Leave In to my dry hair, then the shead butter cream for styling and hold. Then I dipped the ends in water and twirled them around my fingers and left them as I went about making a small supper and cleaning armchairs.

Number of twists: 20 medium to large sized twists and two small ones (for my fringe/bangs).

Time left in: 4 hours.

Resulting twisout:

The Sideshow Bob effect is so difficult to eliminate!

Verdict: I really like it - it's light and fluffy with awesome definition for such a short amount of time.
Although you can't see it, I didn't really do a parting, but next time I'd prefer to do a side parting. The straight on baby doll fringe look was not flattering of my face much

The pictures don't do this twistout justice. It looks absolutely gorgeous face on. Even as I type this, I keep getting up to look at it in the mirror. My hair is soft and fluffy at the roots and I'm doing my best not to touch it but it's so hard. Surprisingly enough, it doesn't feel all that oily. I'm disappointed that, as I write this, it is half eight at night and I have nowhere to go. If I was going anywhere, I would sort myself out with a big, bright bow headband. The shape resembles a mushroom a little bit, but vegetables are good for you.
The Littlest Sis liked it, so it must be good.

But instead, I'm staying in and watching The Hour. Such is life.