Wednesday 30 December 2015

It's complicated

I've fallen out a little bit with Alikay Naturals because of their shampoo.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Holiday Hair

In the last seven days, I have actually styled my hair more than once!

Last week's wash day resulted in a wash and go, which I happily wore for about 3 days. At night, I'd simply band it in 2 - 3 ponytails to stretch it a little bit...and then dampen it in the morning so it would shrink nicely.
 I would have worn it for a longer period of time but I wanted to have something a little bit..fancy for the holidays.

The whole 'holiday hair' thing.

Spot the renegade, over stretched section.

 So I cowashed on Wednesday, and put my plaits in. 

I twisted the plaits in a flat twist manner to make this quick updo while I went shopping.

 The next day, I took the completely dry plaits out. Egads....

Fluff! Separate a little but fluff until you can fluff no more!

Hallelujah, I had a style! A braid out, if you will, my good  wo)man.

 That night, high on styling success, I used a spray bottle of water, Shea Decadence Mango Lassi Leave in, a tinchy amount of shea butter and some aloe vera gel to set my hair into twists.

My goodness, my hair was not happy. You have to remember, I didn't use a leave in, so I had a bit (a lot) of small s-curl breakage from my furiously undernourished ends. I gave up using the spray bottle about halfway through as it seemed to be causing more shrinkage, and more tangling and more breakage, Bleurgh.

Note to self: Big twists and twist outs are not a protective style for you!

I had three twists on each side, with the roots flat twisted.
I twisted my ends on tiny perm rods and then pinned them up onto the back of my head.



In the morning, I was not feeling hopeful. Had I been hung by own own petard?!?

I took out the first perm rod and it stubbornly refused to come out, so I was sweating bricks before I'd even properly started.

When I did take it out, I got this:

Why is my hair at odds and right angles to itself??
 The second perm rod also refused to come out. I worked out the trick by the fourth one - unravel the way you put it on. Which would be great, except I'd seemingly used different methods for all of them.

Still not that excited at this point.

 Then I started taking out the twists. When I finished I was dead pleased and chuffed and more than feeling myself a little (please refer to aforementioned gif for estimated levels of mirror preening).

By the end of the day, my hair had started to frizz and lose definition, which confirmed something for me - my fine hair cannot really hold a curl other than its own for that long without frizz. Maintaining it would involve fair too much manipulation.

At night, I simply tied it up in two ponytails and went to bed. Eaaaasy.

Kudos to Hair Bloggers/Vloggers who do tutorials on the regular. You're all as resilient as anything. 
I couldn't do this in the long haul!

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Quick Cowash.

Christmas Eve eve and I decided to wash my hair (and also brave the rain, hail and wind to buy the Wonder Thing's present a little late. Oops!)

I only used two three things, because I was in a rush but also because I thought I was being an evil genius and had a plan.

We'll see how that works out.

I pre-pooed with coconut oil for about half an hour, and then jumped into the shower and started massaging As I Am Coconut Cowash into my scalp and smoothing it down my hair,
I quickly rinsed it out and then added Shea Moisture  JBCO Masque on each half of my hair and plaited each half. I left it on while I completed my ablution (*scrubscbrubscrub*) and then I rinsed it out whilst still in the plaits.

After I was dressed, I simply took down each plaited half and turned each plait 'section' into a plait itself. So I ended up with about three on each side and a braided/plaited fringe too.

I didn't use a leave in because I wanted my hair to dry faster. I was also kinda hoping to have my hair stretched enough from the plaits/braids so that I could use it for a more defined twist out, in lieu of my Curlformers that are, unfortunately, over 100 miles away.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Wash Day - Mafura Oil, Manuka Honey, Curlformers - oh my!

L-R: Alikay Naturals Coconut Caribbean Cream Shampoo sample,
Anita Grant's Creamy Café Vanilla Latte,
Shea Moisture Manuka Honey and Mafura Oil  Deep Conditioner (local beauty shop and available online,
Shea Decadence Cocoa Frappucino Moisture Plus Leave in,
Coconut Oil,
Garnier Ultimate Blends Avocado Oil and Shea Butter.

1. I pre-pooed with (too much) coconut oil and some Garnier Ultra Blends Avocado and Shea Butter conditioner for an hour. The time lapse wasn't on purpose - I just spent that long after starting looking for the leave in conditioner for the above photo.

2. When I got in the shower, I let my hair get sopping wet before gently separating into 6 sections with the clips.
 It's been two weeks since my hair had been properly looked after, and I was expecting a lot of breakage, shedding and hair loss in general.  I wasn't disappointed. Eeeshhh.

3. I decided to try a new shampoo I'd bought a sample of: Alikay Naturals Caribbean Coconut Milk Shampoo. It lathered really well, cut through the coconut oil really well and smelt absolutely frigging delicious but I will only be using it that one time *sigh* It's not a bad product, it's just...complicated.

4. Then I applied the Shea Moisture Deep conditioner (such a long name) and left it on for about 10 minutes. I rinsed and detangled and my goodness, it was an absolute delight. My love affair with Shea Moisture's deep conditioners can be firmly cemented right here.

 5. Then I used Shea Decadence's Leave In, and set my hair in Curlformers and sat under my soft hooded dryer for about an hour.

I never really get over how curlformers stretch my hair. Even though I always seem to try and put them in after my hair has gone through some (self-inflicted) massive trauma ...

Shed hair stuck in the Curlformer ¬.¬
I very rarely ever wear sets out in public, but I was really pleased with this particular one (and a little bit tired and running low on time) so I went with the flow, pinned up my bangs and set off to church.

 As a testament to my hair's inability to hold any set for any reasonable amount of time, (and to hold a curlformer set for even less than that) an hour later, my hair ended up like this:

Thank you, bizarre December fog/humidity!

Friday 27 November 2015

Black Friday in the UK (2015)

Every year now, it seems, we have the debate - is Black Friday even a thing here? Are we a little too jealous of our American cousins? Aren't the boxing day sales enough?

No matter how you feel -  it's an opportunity to support independent, small businesses at an affordable rate. If, like me, you are roaming the wild back streets of the internet looking for a deal, but wincing at shipping costs, here are some deals that are a little more local to you.

These are all I could find -- if you know of any more, please leave the details in the comments!

Deal: Up to 30% off hair and body gift sets.
Starts: 26th November
Ends: 30th November (Midnight GMT)
Code: N/A

Antidote Street
Deal: 10% - 40% off 9 pre-selected products.
Starts: 27 November
Code: N/A

Deal: Free Delivery (normally £2.99)
Starts: Friday 27th November
Ends Monday 29th November
Code: N/A

Anita Grant
Starts: Friday 27th November
Ends: Wednesday 2nd December
Deal: 20% off *
Extra 10% off on orders over £100
Code: N/A
*excludes make up and samples.

Bianca Miller London (Hosiery)
Deal: 20% off all products
Starts: Friday 27th November
Ends: Saturday 28th November
Code:  NITNB20

British Curlies Shop
Deal: 15% off all products
Starts: Friday 27th November
Ends: Sunday 29th November
Code: BLACK15

Crown Pride Naturals
Deal: 25% off all products
Starts: Friday 27th November
Ends: Monday 30th November
Code: N/A

Curl Harmony 
Deal: Save 25%
Starts: Friday 27th November
Ends: Saturday 28th November (24 hours only)
Code: Friday

Sleek Makeup
Deal: 25% off certain products online.
Starts: Saturday 28th November
Ends: Tuesday 1st December
International shipping available (£13.40?)

Monday 16 November 2015

French Seams

The project in the book is only to make a skirt either with French seams OR in seam pockets.

I decided that I wanted both, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that I am a sewing wunderkind (and in fact, a few examples of me being the complete and utter opposite).

Carefully following this tutorial (imagine me, if you will, intently reading, sewing and keeping my tongue firmly out my mouth for balance and concentration), I did my first two. Not too great - threads sticking out and not neat.

I persevered - practise makes perfect makes clothes.

And my goodness, how I swooned over my seam. "Look. LOOK," I growled in fierce pride, aggressively shoving the fabric into the face of my beloved, "LOOK AT THOSE SEAMS. THOSE SEAMS ARE PERFECT. AND AMAZING. I AM AMAZING."

 He smiled sweetly. "Aw, well done love! Great job!"

I squealed in admiration at my own efforts for a fair while (approximately 20 minutes) before settling down to finish off the rest.

Waitaminute...why are the two side pieces suddenly shorter than the front?

Well, I'd only gone and french seamed my pockets onto the waistband of the skirt, instead of the side seam. I don't think that's a trend that's going to catch on any time soon. To the seam ripper!

Sunday 1 November 2015

Winter Challenge.

I've been logging in and drafting post since the beginning of August. I know, right? How silly and disorganised of me. But this one is definitely going up!

I've been happy with my hair so far - I'm still shedding far too much, but I'm taking steps to rectify it. And I'm determined that next year, BSL will be mine [if you read that in the tone of those very determined, romantically obsessed girls in TV shows, then you're on my wavelength) - but, baby steps. This year, I'd just like to maintain APL until the end of December.

What am I actually doing?

1) Eating good stuff - the biggest change I'm making is what I'm putting into my mouth. I'm trying to purposefully include:

  •  Leafy greens - I rarely eat them any more, due to laziness and I've let them rot in the fridge one too many times.
  • Black sesame seeds - chockful of vitamins and things that I suspect are helping reduce my shedding.
  • MSM powder - Apparently helps your hair to stay in the anagen phase for longer, thus reducing shedding 
  • Bamboo tea - Contains silica, which could help reduce shedding and other good stuff. 
  • Good guts - I'm also a little concerned about the potential issues my guts may be having on my general health, and thus my hair, so I'm on the kimchi and probiotics.
  • Vitamin D - Yes, I know you can make it internally by being exposed to sunlight for a certain amount of time a day, but currently my sky looks like this:

Eeyore would approve.

2) Keeping my ends slick - I've noticed that a lot of fine haired naturals use shea butter on the regular, whereas I've avoided using it on my hair for the last...oh, 5 years? Winter is here, so is the cold and I'm babying my ends by using shea butter after a wash and oiling my ends every night. Easy. I have carefully avoided shea butter for a long time, convinced that it does no good for my fine, strands. Now, I've come around to thinking that there are quite a few bloggers I know who used shea butter for good effect (Laila-Jean, Curlyproverbz, naptural85) and that it might work in a protective capacity in the winter, when I seem to rub my head and hair against ALL THE ROUGH THINGS (Wonder Thing, your stubble is massively included in this list).

3) Stretched and tucked - I've been wearing buns for the last two months and my hair is responding well. Not the neglect it occasionally faces whilst up there, but stretched, and out of the way of my fidgety hands can only ever do good for my hair. I'm keeping my hair stretched by plaiting it up every night in 4 big, chunky plaits.

4) Deep treat - This fits more into my self care targets than anything else really. I am now one of those ladies who deep conditions every time she washes (I know) but I'm like to step it up and introduce other treatments for the sake of self-care and nourishment.
And because I'd like to get fancy every now and then.
And because doing this will stop me from buying new products.

I'm not too worried about exercise - I do some on average about twice a week, and there are lazier girls than me with hair brushing their butts, so.....

Current length:

Too lazy to buy a length check, so I'm just using a striped shirt instead..

Around 12 - 13.5 inches. I'm getting there!(*drop-kicks APLateau, whilst cackling madly* )

I don't expect to see much growth - I'm just trying to get into good habits before the January resolution making.

I'm torn over whether or not to wash every week or not. Every week seems like a an effort and a promise I can't keep in this ever worsening climate (chilblains! cold toes! general shivery-ness!), but I'm pretty sure that every two weeks leaves the door open for neglect and dehydration (because that's how I do).

Other than that, I don't really want to add anything extra because I know I won't do it >.<
Are you doing anything different this changing season?

Monday 17 August 2015

Henna? It's happening..

There came a point in my life where I set myself two personal, internal challenges:

1) To see how far I could get without additional hair added, like weaves, extensions and wigs.
2) To not use henna.

Well, this year might see both of those challenges go up in smoke - but let's talk about the henna.

Back in the emerging natural hair society of 2009, when Black Girl with Long Hair was still hosted on blogger, and KimmayTube was who people where logging in to watch on Youtube, the only way people seemed to be able to do henna involved a long, drawn out process that sucked up at least a day of your life, involved military precision and organisation to prevent staining everything within viewing distance, and then an age where you tried to rinse out twigs and bits from your hair (this is why Cassia and I no longer roll together).

Sure, you got seemingly invincible hair (according to the forum legends, anyway), but it then dyed it a permanent shade of red and rendered commercial dyes useless?

You have to spend how long afterwards putting moisture back in your hair?? (The worst I heard was 1 month of bi-weekly, hour long, deep conditioning to reduce it from 'straw-like' to 'just kindadry'. WHAT.)

 And you have to do this on the regular???

No, no, no, nopeity nope nope.

But times move on, things change and evolve. I ignored the henna gloss trend of 2010/2011 and was resolute on my hennaed-hair ban - until now.

The fact is, I nearly made it past armpit length I've made it past armpit length this summer, just by extensively washing and going. But my poor fine strands just seem a little bit exhausted, and I thought to myself - why not help them out a little bit? 
It's not cheating (I'm still trying to convince myself here) - my strands are really puny and are actually transparent from more than a foot away. I have splits up to 5 inches on some of my hair strands and I know I'm due for a trim.

Fortunately for me, here in the UK, we have a little henna head guru of our own...Curly Proverbz! I found her whilst Instagram-flicking and I love her ideas on how to include henna without the mess and fuss...and mess. Henna tea? Why did I never think of that before? Inevitably, I caved and bought some from Sheabutter Cottage (also available from Beauty by Zara) and am now eyeing up Curly Proverbz's henna butter mix...

Have you ever used henna for your hair? Why?

Thursday 1 January 2015

New Year, Old Me

I don't usually set New Year's resolutions. I didn't really believe in them. For me, the natural time for goal setting came as the days got shorter and colder and leaves fell and everywhere was bathed in a golden light. Time seemed to stretch eternal and seeped with hope and anticipation. Magical.

However, the other kind of magic struck me over the last two months - a frustratingly broken camera (my techno curse strikes again!), a lack of justice, a loss of hope, disbelief, the suffocating wrap of apathy around my neck. Bleak and cold midwinter clutched at me, as well as an unshakeable sickness.
My reaction?
Desperately throwing myself into my job, telling myself I'm too busy and sad to write on this here blog. Slashing at my internet ties and, in effect, my accountability.

The truth is, if I don't talk to you on here, I can easily go a few weeks not talking to anybody else properly. Plus, my soul was just too tired to talk, when it just seemed so pointless.

Anyway! Christmas, for me at least, proved invigorating and once again stoked those little embers of hope for the future I'd thought had been killed by the grey grimmness of reality. I read the feelings of others and the anger of many and know I was not alone. I crocheted and mixed up and created. I was rejected by potentially the cutest 18 month old in favour of my husband (hands off). Thins were put into perspective.

Idiots non carborundum.

I only have two resolutions really:

Consistent self-care.
You know when people say they let themselves go? Over the last three months, I've REALLY let myself go. It doesn't help that I'm married to possibly the lowest maintenance man in existence. He doesn't even scar when he gets spots, whereas I have scars that are possibly older than Methusalah. I've been using extra virgin olive oil as a body moisturiser, which is fine, but I'm tired of smelling like salad. Also, some days I work 8 to 8 and who wants to exercise at 9 in the evening? Not me!

So I want to:
  • Start to cleanse my face once everyday (no, I don't at the moment. Hence, Methusalah's age mates still lingering on my face, playing checkers and heckling runners.)
  • Treat myself experience wise - maybe once a week, or once a month. Just regularly enough that it stops me getting run down. Craft, relax, create or just pamper. Products are no fun if you don't take the time to use them properly.
  • Continue researching biodegradable / sustainable / eco-friendly teeth cleaning options. Chewing sticks remind me of my grandma, but she did have great teeth, so...
  • Give myself enough time to make what I need - no more olive oil body moisturiser! Shea butter only in 2015.

Simplify my stuff.
I have so much rubbish and I've just let it all build up. So I want to:
  1. Use up my craft hobby stash - all the yarn, fabric and cosmetic ingredients that I don't use on a regular basis to be gone by August.
  2. I am going to give away or get rid of all the clothes people have given me that I hate and still wear. And then make and/or buy some things I like and will wear with pride.
  3. Stop making excuses for not using things that work - hate the applicator? Buy a new one. Keep running out of a necessary ingredient? Buy in bulk. I've been cheap for too long, and always try replacing what worked with something else, which just wastes money. 
    Yeah, I'm done with that now. Onwards with what works!
I hope you're having a good day and a lovely week. And happy new year! I hope it is full of joy, love, peace, fluffy things, blessings, warmth and positivity. Oh, and chocolate. Which clearly fits under the umbrella of all of the aforementioned.