I have another hair length check update for you. If you frequent my blog, you will know that I am on a journey to grow healthy waist length natural hair. At my last length check back in September 2015 my hair came in at mid back length, despite my best efforts. I have discussed the reasons for this in a previous blog post, but to quickly summarise, my dismal hair performance in 2015 was primarily due to neglect and lack of consistent hair care. However I am not going to major on my 2015 hair failures because it is a new year with new possibilities and as I discussed in my last post, healthy length retention is my main hair goal for 2016.
Planning for length retention success in 2016
So how do I plan to retain length? Well, I have found that protective styling is by far the easiest, stress free way for me to retain length. In fact, I have noticed the most success when I have consistently followed a protective styling regime. My protective styling regime/challenge usually consists of set periods of protectively styling followed by periods of rest (free hair) throughout the year. My aim is to have my natural hair in protective styles for the most part of the year. My period of free hair usually involves undertake hair strengthening, hot oil and other beneficial hair treatment which are not as convenient when wearing protective styles. This is basically the tried and tested system I plan to use to retain as much length as possible this year, and hopefully achieve my hair goals. I believe it is a simple formula, protective styling, persistence, consistency and patience. No magic lotions or expensive potions for me!
Sticking with what I know works for my hair
Although I do retain length without protective styling, I choose to protective style my hair because I have a busy schedule and I always opted for the route of least resistance. As I always say, “if it’s not broken then don’t fix it”. I definitely retain more length when I remain consistent with my tried and tested methods, products and regimes. In my opinion, it is pointless jumping on the newest natural hair bandwagon, or any other bandwagon just because everyone is doing it. If you have already found a tried and tested system that works for you, why not stick with that until you achieve your desired results. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t try new things – I’m forever experimenting. I am simply saying, why not try new regimes and/or products in the area where you are still not seeing results, while sticking to regimens/products you know work. Remember you don’t have to follow every natural hair craze that’s trending on YouTube, just find what works for you.
Tracking my hair growth progress
I plan to make my protective styling regime even easier this year (as if crochet braiding wasn’t easy enough). Either way as I mentioned in my New Year’s blog post, it is important to track your progress whenever you set gaols. I believe that one of the best way to track your progress to waist length hair (or whatever length) is to take photos in a length check T-Shirt so you can clearly see your progress (see my photos below).
Front hair length check photos April 2016
Back hair length check photos April 2016
Tracking and recording your progress visually is important, especially if you have super shrinkage like myself , notice how my hair without pulling looks like it is about arm pit length. This visual aid will help me to keep track and record my progress giving me that much needed motivation and confirmation that my hair is actually growing. Kinky hair, especially tightly curled Type 4 hair, has the tendency not to show it true length even when stretched. Only by actually pulling my already stretched hair can I actually see my true length. It is therefore important for Type 4 hair ladies to closely monitor their hair growth and not to give up on the journey wrongly believing it is “not growing”.
Hair length check T-shirts
You can purchase a hair length check T-Shirt from the naturalcocodoll store today and start keeping track of your hair growth progress with a unique hair length check t-shirt that allows you to monitor hair length at both the front and the back.
What method do you use to retain length? Have you found your tried and tested length retention regime? Comment below to let me know what is your go-to protective style.
Happy hair journey
Happy New Year my lovelies
The start of a new year is a great time for a fresh start, a clean slate. You may have already made New Year’s resolutions relating to your diet, finances, organisation or fitness, but have you made goals relating to your natural hair? Have you even thought about it? How about taking the plunge to make 2016 the year you start your natural hair journey, or maybe you are already on your journey and simply want to reach a target length. Whatever our best intentions research suggests that only 64 percent of resolutions are maintained longer than the first month. In fact, you may have broken yours already. Why do so many of us give up on our New Year’s goals and resolutions so quickly? Well there are actually a multitude of reasons including: making unrealistic goals, lack of self-belief, giving up at the first sign of obstacles/slips/failures, lack of planning, failing to measure your progress, lack of support and not sticking at it long enough to allowing changes to become routine. This is by no means an exhausted list. Whatever your New Year’s goals or resolutions for 2016, here are some simple tips to help you keep on track or even get back on track if you have already thrown in the towel:
Be realistic: Trying to grow your natural hair? It is unrealistic to grow your hair from chin length to waist length by December 2016, but trying for shoulder length over a given period based on your hairs growth rate is realistic and achievable. So too is aiming for healthier natural hair.
Take tiny steps: If doing a big chop is not for you, try transitioning with the use of protectives styles until you achieve your goal. Want to experiment with new hairstyles? Spend a few minutes checking out Pinterest or Instagram for ideas. Subscribe to new Youtubers with natural hair how-to videos.
Find a community: Being accountable to others can help you stay committed to your gaols. Why not join a natural hair challenge or be part of a Facebook group or blog forum? Maybe a family member or friend could give you that much needed encouragement.
Don’t give up or be too hard on yourself: When you feel like giving up, remember why you started. Rome was not built in a day! Success takes time and involves a cultivation period of hard work and determination before you can reap a harvest.
Track your progress: Help yourself stay motivated by measuring your progress. Tracking your progress, will help you to identify how well you are doing or if you need to make any simple changes.
Celebrate your successes: Whether it be a new pair of shoes, a new bag or an expensive new protective hairstyle, treat yourself to something that will make you feel good about achieving your goals.
New Year’s Challenge – Creating Good Hair Care Habits
The New Year is not just about resolution and goal setting but for some it may also be about changing certain habits. Remember to start with something small, it’s all about taking baby steps. Achieving tiny victories will give you the confidence to tackle larger ones. Why not start using a satin headscarf or pillowcase or committing to regular deep conditioning. Maybe you need to start wearing your hair in large braids or a pineapple for bed, rather than leaving it all free to become tangled. Have you been washing your hair as frequently as you know you should? Rather than totally getting rid of a habit why not replace it with a better one. For example, you might replace your tired weave with a suitable protective style which allows access to your hair and scalp. When you have the victory in one area, reward yourself and move on to find a solution to your next problem area. Slowly but surely you will be waving goodbye to damaged breaking hair and loving the new you. If you have not done so already, why not consider making realistic hair related goals, as well as planning how you will accomplish them. Setting your hair goals and planing how you will achieve them will help you to reach your natural hair hope and aspirations.
My 2016 hair related Goals
1.) My main hair related goal for 2016, will be to retain as much ‘healthy’ hair as possible. I am not going to aim for waist length this year, since I am unlikely to make it after trimming etc. But I am definitely going to track my progress by taking photos in my length check t-shirt (front and back).
2.) My other hair related goal, will be to find a new protective style to help me retain more length. I’ve been crochet braiding now for far too long (over 3 years) and I think I want to try something new and exciting. I always see girls on YouTube sporting a different protective style every month. I’m not sure what I’ll go for yet but I’m thinking about Nazuri Curls. I have seen a couple of naturals wearing one of their numbers on a few blogs I frequent, so I may give them a try.
What would you like to achieve with your hair this year? Anyone planning on actually achieving waist length this year? What one hair care habit do you feel you need to change? Comment below to let me know if you have any hair related goals for 2016?
See you soon ladies x
When I first received my surprise invitation to be a bridesmaid at my good friend’s wedding, far from been at a loss as to how I would be styling my medium length natural hair for a wedding, I was actually wondering which amazing style should I pull from my treasure chest of natural hairstyles. After a brief look at a couple of YouTube videos and Pinterest photos to help me decide, I was finally left with the difficult choice between a mega empress bun and an elegant sophisticated afro Mohawk. After much deliberation, I finally decided to choose a mega bun; not only is this style super easy to create, but it never fails to attract a flurry of compliments (plus I could only find one banana clip).
With the right knowledge and experience, styling natural hair on a daily basis should be a five minute job. However, equally as important are those special events such as weddings, banquets, promising dates or that very special prom. These occasions should not pose a problem for the natural sister when it comes to styling her kinky, curly, coily, wavy natural hair. Check out my YouTube video above on how I achieved my perfect “mega bun” hairstyle.
Step-by-step styling guide: How I created my mega bun on medium length natural hair for the wedding
1.) I usually start with stretched hair after an old braided out.
2.) Using my trusted bristle brush, I brush my hair up to the crown of my head, ensuring all my stray hair strands are slicked back.
3.) I add moisture to my hair before styling by applying Giovanni direct leave-in conditioner to my hair and ends.
4.) I always use my trusted Eco-styler argon oil gel, as I like to slick down my edges and give my styles a super sleek appearance.
5.) Using a zig zag hair band, I secure my hair at the crown of my head. I always ensure a large circumference area is gripped with the zig zag band to make sure I have more than enough hair left out for the different sections of the mega bun.
6.) Using one leg of an old pair of tights, I secure the zig zag hair band so that my hair feels super secure and to also help my edges lay flat.
7.) Using a small section of hair at the very centre of the hair that is left out, I secure a small mini bun. This mini bun will form the base of the rest for the hair style, as this is where the other sections of the bun will be secured.
8.) I then twist two “chunky” twists, one on each side of the zigzag hair band, just above my ear. These twists will hide the zig zag band and tights as well as add an elegant detail to the finished style.
Hello ladies, how are things going?
If you are anything like me when it comes to your hair you may find yourself wanting length, length and more length! I’m not quite sure why I am so obsessed with long hair but as far back as I can remember I have always wanted long hair. In fact my desire for long hair was one of the main reasons why I chemically straightened my hair in my early teens. I somehow believed that if I relaxed my hair it would be “easier to manage” and I would therefore grow thicker, longer, healthier hair. Little did I know back then that this was a lie and I would actually experience damaged, thin, breaking hair!
Today after soldiering on my natural hair journey I am now at a healthy mid back length MBL (see chart below) and I hope to achieve waist length hair by 2016/2017. Despite my healthy MBL I have not progressed as far as I would have liked to in 2015. It is safe to say that I have not retained as much length as I had hoped and consequently I have not progressed much further towards my goal length.
The truth is I have been inconsistent with my hair care regime and that’s putting it lightly. In between working full-time, studying part-time, participating in my local church, having a social life and trying to blog, my natural hair has suffered and languished for want of real care and attention. To make matters worse I have not maintained my healthy eating and exercise regime. It’s not all bad though, since I have retained a couple of inches and my hair is still relatively thick and healthy despite using random hair products (ran out of my staples) and stupid attempts to wash my hair in super quick time on the odd wash day!
Photos from my last hair length check (August 2015)
Despite what I believe has been a dismal hair year so far, I am still positive about achieving my goal of waist length. I know for a fact, that when I am consistent and religiously stick to my hair care regime I retain practically all my length. I plan to be militant especially when it comes to practices that matter most, like protective styling. If I can break through my MBL plateau I know I’ll definitely make it!
looking back at my 2015 hair related goals
Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…………..”
The bible says “where there is no vision, the people perish………….” and you may have heard it said, “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”. Many of us plan for most things but for those of us who are on a healthy hair journey, we often fail to plan how we will go about maintaining healthy natural hair. I am a keen goal setter and I strongly believe that goal setting and planning is important for success in any endeavour (even your hair). At the beginning of the year I decided to set myself different goals including hair related goals and I also identified some of the most important habits and practices which I felt would be important in my hair growth journey. These were my hair related goals at the start of the year:
- Get back on my healthy eating and exercise plan
- Be consistent at all times with my hair care regime
- Wear my hair in crochet braid protective style for 70-80% of the time
- Make sure I don’t run out of my must have staple hair care products
- Retain as much length as possible
So my goals were set and I had hoped to make much progress but despite my best efforts (well sort of best efforts) I have actually made very little progress “sigh”! To make matters worse I actually believe I have lost some length through damage and I don’t want to admit it but I actually really badly need a trim – shock horror!!!!! I’ve carefully analysed the situation and I know for a fact that certain practices have contributed more than others to my current hair state. For example I have not consistently finger detangled my hair before cleansing, I have not detangled my hair with a wide tooth comb when wet, I certainly have not deep conditioned after every wash, I have not crochet braided my hair for 8 weeks at a time, for 7-8 months out of the year. I have not kept my hair moisturised at all times when in crochet braids, I know I did not stick to my basic staple products and I don’t recall having any hair strengthening treatment between crochet braid installs – all bad news. Despite my poor hair care performance I still managed to maintain relatively healthy hair which is probably because I have not ignored every rule in the natural hair rule book. I still followed low manipulation principles and I still take my time on the majority of wash days (although not all) which I guess has counted for something. You can see that my hair still looks pretty decent in these photos from a recent wedding I attended where I was a bridesmaid (below). Yes, it’s all my hair with no extra hair added!
Going forward I definitely plan to do better, especially after I have seen the obvious consequences when I don’t. My first step on my road to getting back on track to healthier hair and far more length retention will be to contact my faithful African hair lady and get my hair crochet braided. This has always been my hassle free way to improve my hair health and retain length. Crochet braiding also makes it easier for me to maintain some of the other practices that I feel work well for my hair (see how I do my crochet braids blog post). If I stick to my guns and actually remain consistent with my hair care I may actually break through my MBL plateau.
I know I have not been a very consistent blogger but I am planning on doing better with blogging too so you should be seeing more blog posts from me. In fact I may do a blog post on how I achieved my mega empress bun in my bridesmaid photos.
If you live in the West Midlands you will know that the minority of natural hair events often take place in London, usually on a Saturday. This is why I am so pleased to see a natural hair event in Birmingham, right on my door step. The show is also on a Sunday which is more convenient for me since I attend church most Saturdays. It’s the perfect way to start the new year, with the opportunity to network, learn, socialis and meet like-minded naturals. There will be hair demos, expert advice, consultations, Q&A sessions and giveaways featured at the show. You can buy your ticket (£20) here: www.ticketsource.co.uk/napturallyhappyhair
Event venue: The Birmingham IET Austin Court
The event will take place on Sunday 4th January 2015 (sponsored by Napturally Happy Hair) at:
IET Birmingham Austin Court
80 Cambridge Street
So who is Cassandre Beccai?
If you frequent Facebook or many of the very popular natural hair blogs you would have no doubt seen Cassandre Beccai. She has not been on the natural hair scene very long but her popularity as a YouTuber has steadily grown. Cassandre has been natural for over 9+ years and like myself she has 4b natural hair, I like to follow and watch naturals who have similar hair textures to myself. I absolutely love Cassandre’s hair length and I quite like the different styles she often demonstrates on her blog. For those who don’t know who Cassandre is you may recognise her in the photos below:
Ok so it’s been months since I attended the 2014 afro hair and beauty show back in May and it’s only now I’m actually getting this post up. Let’s just say it has been a busy few months for me, but better late than never!!
The 2014 Afro hair and beauty show took place in London at the Business Design Centre on 25-26th May 2014. The show was held at the same venue as the previous year and as I always say “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”. I thought the Design and Business Centre was a good venue for the show as it was well positioned and had plenty of space.
The Business Design Centre
I attended the show last year so I knew exactly what to expect and I was not disappointed. There was plenty to see and it was definitely high-class with respect to displays, fashion shows, speakers, demonstrations and products to buy, in comparison to newer, smaller shows. It was clear that the Afro hair and beauty show was not only well established but also well attended. When I said there was plenty to see I wasn’t joking, just look at a few of the different shows and demonstrations that I managed to see, needless to say I didn’t get a chance to see everything and I didn’t even really attend any of the advertised talks or presentations.
Demonstrations and shows I attended:
Ossat Naturals demonstration
Design Essentials demonstration
Afro Chic Fashion Show
Team Africa Street Dance
Battle of the Barbers
If unlike myself you were not on a “hair product budget” then there was also plenty of hair care and hair related products to buy.
Some of the many exhibitors
I’m a firm believer in keeping my natural hair journey simple especially when it comes to styling. The comment I get frequently from many aspiring naturals is that natural hair is so “difficult to maintain” and that it is hard to find suitable hair styles. I also receive comments about the need for preparing hair from the night before – “It’s all so much hard work!” they exclaim. Well my answers to these refutable claims are simple. No, you don’t have to spend hours styling your hair, no it’s not too much hard work to style and no you don’t have to find a thousand different ways to style your natural hair if you are not so inclined.
If you frequent my Facebook or my Instagram account you will know that I love me some hairstyles and the bigger the better, but if you’re not into all that fancy, that’s O.k! In fact you don’t need to know a thousand ways to style your hair to stay on or begin your natural hair journey. If you can only manage to style your hair into a bun for work, school and play, again that’s O.k. I will show you how I style my hair into a simple high bun – which literally takes 5 minutes and then accessories the same bun for all occasions and I mean all occasions.
Where I purchase my accessories
So where do I buy all my accessories you might ask? Well….. you can buy hair accessories just about anywhere, for example your local black hair shop, but I like to buy my hair accessories from the high street. You can find an array of hair accessories for any occasion from shops such as H&M, Forever21, Claire’s accessories and even Primark to name but a few. Look at the different hair accessories you can pick up on your local high street (below) – well for me Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham City Centre since everywhere else is usually closed by the time I finish work.
Check out my recent purchases from Claire’s accessories (below), they were a lot more expensive than I had hoped but I did manage to find exactly what I was looking for:
How I create my high bun:
Sept 1: Start with freshly washed air dried stretched hair. Brush hair into a extra high ponytail and secure with a banana clip.
Step 2: Once you have secured your banana clip. Section your hair into four sections and loosely twist the ends of each section.
Step 3: Join the ends of each section together and braid the four ends together so that you have your bun with a little braid at the top.
Step 4: Tuck the braided section under into the bun and secure it with a bobby pin or two.
So there you are, four quick and easy steps to create your high bun. The finished style should be firmly secured with the aid of more than enough bobby pins.
How I accessories my high bun for different occasions
The work or college look (keeping it simple):
The headscarf look:
I know this post is very much delayed, not only has it been almost a month since I attended the WITJ natural hair show but I’ve actually been to other natural hair events since then. But better late than never!
The Woman in the Jungle natural hair show was hosted in London at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel on 5th May 2014. The hotel was a good choice for this years venue since it was conveniently located, in fact I’m sure it would have been a lot easier to get to if the folks on the London Underground did not decide to schedule their maintenance for the same day.
Since I had not attended a natural hair show before I was unsure what to expect, I simply assumed it would be very similar to the Afro Hair and Beauty show I attended last year. After eventually arriving at the show extremely late, my first stop was at the different exhibitors who were selling hair care products, African print bags, shoes, t-shirts as well as different beauty products.
Some of the exhibitors and sellers present at the show
Below: Sheabutter cottage – www.sheabuttercottage.co.uk
Below: SheaDo – www.sheado.nl
Below: EntwineCouture – www.EntwineCouture.com
Below: Sale of African print bags and shoes
Among the exhibitors at this years show were a few smaller black owned business who are newer to the black hair care and beauty industry. In support of the lovely Sonia Muneri founder of Nakayi (which means ‘Be Beautiful’ in Shona) I purchased one of her fair trade African black soaps. Her company launched in May 2014 and it offers a unique range of luxurious products for both skin and hair. Check out her products at www.nakayi.com
Below: The team from Nakayi and my African black soap purchase
I also had the pleasure of speaking with Klerissa McDonald founder of the natural hair care product range Curly by Nature. The Curly by Nature range contains either organic or naturally derived ingredients that have been ethically sourced. They are also all free from sulphates, parabens, petroleum, mineral oil and alcohol. Check out her product range at www.curlybynature.com
Below: Klerissa McDonald founder of Curly by Nature hair care product range
The majority of my time was spent roaming around the different exhibitor stands, talking to other naturals as well as viewing hair care products that were for sale. Since I booked my ticket the night before the show I unfortunately missed out on the VIP tickets and as a result I did not get the opportunity to see what was happening in the VIP section – never mind, at least I saved myself some money! One of the guest speakers and hair celebrity for the day was MsVaughn but I did not even get a chance to really hear what she had to say because I missed a few of the scheduled seminars. This was partly due to the fact that I arrived late and partly because individuals were stopping me and taking photos of my “gone wrong” big updo.
Below: The updo I was sporting at the show
Of the three talks I actually managed to attend I was really inspired by the information that was presented and for me, this was by far one of the main highlights of the show. I was particularly interested in the points that were discussed by the consultant trichologist but I did leave her presentation a little uneasy as she actually advised against commonly advocated natural hair practices and sanctioned other practices frequently frowned upon. Check out some of the key statements she made below ladies -you might be surprised:
To empowering black women to maintain healthy natural hair and retain length. For women everywhere who are natural or who would like to become natural to achieve and maintain their hair goals and aspirations. Please check out my blog and my natural hair care section for hair care advise and visit my videos section and my ‘Pinterest‘ page for styling ideas.
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be featured on naturalcocodoll.
BlogNaturalcocodoll is a U.K based natural hair care blog providing relevant, quality information and advice for naturals both in the U.K and abroad. The site brings together all the latest information, events and advise from the natural hair scene within one forum. Please visit my blog for further information.
Natural hair careWhether you are new to natural hair care or you have been natural for many years, good quality hair care information is imperative on any hair care or hair growth journey. From cleansing to regime building to protective styling we all require a little advice from time to time. In fact, many sisters are absolutely clueless and need a helping hand.
Video tutorialsFrom the elegant high front big bun, to the sophisticated Mohawk updo or the simply stunning empress high bun, I have step-by-step tutorials videos for a range of stunning styles. Why don’t you check out my ever growing collection of new YouTube videos.
Product reviewsAre you confused by the maze of curling custards, puddings and creams? Are you wondering which detangeling products really work and which actually have enough slip? Why not check out my Product Reviews to see if any of my tested products are just the product you were looking for.
Natralcocodoll shop coming soonThe launch of my very own new t-shirt line will go live shortly. I am so excited about my new t-shirts and tote bags, stay tuned for more information.
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