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Mane Styles

Bangin’ Looks

full Afro curls

A model with a wickedly cute curly bang and cut

When First Lady Michelle Obama displayed her newly shorn, straight fringe a few months ago, it was like the snip heard around the world. True to its name, bangs have come, gone, and resurfaced once again. Bang! They can decorate a mean bob, as seen by Anna Wintour, legendary editor-in-chief of American Vogue. They also soften beautifully angular features, as seen in Mrs. Obama.

Anna Wintour & Michelle Obama Bangs

Anna Wintour & Michelle Obama bangs it out the ballpark.

Bangs can frame just about any face shape, depending on how they’re cut. Every girl can be bangin’! Most importantly: They can be worn with a curly mane. Use them to top off a bun, twist, or pony. There are several ways that you can werk a curly bang with natural hair. Here are a few:

Natural

If you’re sporting a full-frontal, froey fringe, make sure that your curly mane frames your face. The fuller the look, the better. Don’t be afraid of volume! In fact, whip out an Afro pik to add some lift.

Style your afro-textured bangs as you do with the rest of your hair. I like to use my usual layering method consistent of a leave-in conditioner and gel. If your curly mane frowns on gels, use a leave-in and seal with an oil or butter. Just remember, a little frizz never hurt anybody. :)

Rihanna and Beyonce with Curls

Songstresses Rihanna and Beyoncé are stunning with faux curly bangs and hair.

Defined

For a structured look, try a wet or dry braid-out or twist-out. The smaller the braids or twists, the more defined the look. Add curlers to the ends to accentuate the style.

If you’d like a looser bang, use curlers or perm rods on the entire length of your wet or dry bangs. I recommend doing both styles on wet hair that has been combed out, so you can better manipulate your natural texture and set the look. 

Jada Pinkett-Smith

An American Idol contestant and Jada Pinkett-Smith are spotted wearing curly bangs.

Half bangin

If you have short layers in the front or bangs that are growing out, a side part is your friend. Once again, use an Afro pik to volumize the layer or tuck/bobby pin these hair under your ear or on top of the hairs at the side of your head. Whether worn naturally or defined, a half bang still looks completely chic.

Curly Bangs by Nay. All rights reserved.

Curly Bangs by Nay. All rights reserved.

Faux Bangs

Afraid to commit to a cut? Clip-ins and extensions are the way to go for a quick change-up. Adding faux bangs can add a new spin on an old look. If you’re wearing a curly clip in, make sure that the magic hair matches your texture. Once again, make sure that the magic hair matches your own texture. This may require some manipulation of the curly clip-in/weave by cutting, braiding, twisting, or curling the hairs. Remember the goal is for it to look realistic … not like a brokedown palace!

Can’t find clip-ins that are the same as your texture? Try purchasing full-length clip-ins or weaves that are a close match. This DIY method may require some cutting, sewing, sweating, tearing (ha!), and bobby pinning of the hairs into your own. You may want to don a headband over the area where the weave meets your real hair in order to hide the transition. Want to really switch it up? Try coloring your magic hair. Now that’s bangin’!

Ballerina Buns Are Not For Spinsters!

High Bun Photos

Above: Celebrities wearing high buns. Photo Credit for Miss Universe: pageantcast

No longer regulated for spinsters and schoolmarms, high buns have made a comeback! Gone are the days that buns rendered images of awkward ladies with lipstick stained teeth. From Demi Lovato to Jennifer Lopez, celeb after celebs are donning this ’do as a way to dress up their look.

Need further proof that this ballerina-esk style is #gonewiththewindfabulous? When Olivia Culpo took the stage during the Miss Universe pageant a month ago, she wore a massive, eye-catching high bun. Guess what? I noticed her bunned regality during the competition and even mentioned it on Twitter. Did you see it? Retweet if you did. Sure enough, Culpo and her high bun won the competition! If these glamour gals got it down, er, high up, then we can too!

Wearing your hair in a bun aka bunning is the perfect solution to bad hair days. It is not only chic, but it is also a protective style. It allows our ends to be carefully tucked and sheltered into our hair, freeing them from exposure to the elements. While I recognize this benefit, I used to bypass this style because it seemed too difficult for me to do. Wrong! It’s actually easy peasy. In fact, our textured tresses are perfectly suited for this look. I’ve got it down, and now I want you to get it too!

Get This Look!

The directions below are for creating a traditional bun as opposed to a top knot (more of a knot-like formation). This look is best styled on second-day, wash and go hair—perfect for those of you who can’t nail down second-day looks. You can also bun hair that’s currently in or freed from twists and braids.

ToolsHair Stylers Black Mesh Chignon

  • Hair Donut/Sock Bun (see pic at the right) – I visited a couple of beauty supply stores until I found the right donut, but you can make one out of an old rolled up sock or stockings. Just cut off the foot area and make sure it’s the right size for your hair length. Now you know you have at least one gym sock that’s missing its buddy. Snag it!
  • Rubber band without metal clasp
  • Bobby pins – I used about 5 long pins for securing the bun and 3 short pins for tucking in flyaways/shorter curls.
  • Gel – I whipped out my old trusty Eco Styler Gel.
  • Oil – Any will do. I used Vatika Oil.
  • Headband – Optional
  • Boar Bristle Brush – Optional

High Bun on Natural HairSteps

  1. Oil hair to soften curls, particularly if it’s been previously styled with gel. This will make your hair a bit more supple.
  2. Pull your hair to the top of your head and position it at the crown. Before you leave it there, run and face the mirror. Does this position work for your face? Look at the angles of your jawline and face shape. You may want to gather your hair a little further forward or backward.  It’s up to you.
  3. Secure your hair in its position with a rubber band. Waaaiiiit! Remember not to make it too tight. We have to watch those sensitive edges! It’s okay if your high pony isn’t perfect.  In fact, a messy bun works just as nicely.
  4. Grab your donut (purchased or make-shift) and slide your ponytail through the donut hole.
  5. Part hair in center of your pony and wrap it around the donut. As you wrap your hair, tuck your ends under or nearly under your donut and secure it with a bobby pin. Ideally, you want to cover the donut completely. Take a 360 view of your head to ensure that your sock bun is covered.
  6. Got short, loose curls sticking out from the back of your head? Wraps the ends around a short bobby pin and tuck it into your hair. Make sure that the pin runs vertically/semi-vertically, so it blends into your curls.
  7. Oil fingers and smooth down frizzy strands.
  8. For a precise bun, apply gel to the front, sides, and back of your hair—not the bun itself! You can use a boar bristle brush to assist in the finish. This will give you a smoother look.

Voila! You’re done. Now you’re serving face! Leave your hair as is or dress it up with accessories.

Bonus Tips: Dressing It Up

High Bun On Naturally Curly Hair

  • I have a thin, uneven hairline, which bugs me when my hair is pulled back. Solution: I use a headband to finish the look and help frame my face.
  • Add a bow to the back of your bun for flair.
  • Use faux color on your hair or just towards the ends for a highlighted bun.

 

Once you get this down, you’ll be able to take your own spin on it. Watch out! It’s addictive!

Are you a fan or foe of high buns? Sound off below!

Top It Off With Satin-Lined Hats

Satin Lined Hat for Natural Hair

My curly mane in a Threadmill satin-lined Brimster.

I may not have mentioned this, but I’m no longer the only curly girl in my family. A few years ago, my big sister, Kay, did the big chop after struggling with constantly shedding relaxed hair. Perhaps I’ll convince her to share her journey soon!

What you should know is that Kay is still in the process of learning about her hair. She also has a different texture from me, so items that work on my hair won’t necessarily work on her hair. Believe me, I understand those of you with different hair types from my own!

Anyhoo, my sis tasked me with finding hats for natural hair, particularly ones for the winter. I was equally intrigued, since it’s tough to find fashionable hats with materials that are ‘fro friendly. I’ve typically defaulted to stuffing my hair in a satin cap before placing a separate, decorative hat on my head.Why satin? As you may have read in my post on preserving your hair overnight, satin and silk materials help to keep hair moisturized and add the necessary slip needed to glide over strands, preventing split ends.

With my task in hand, off I went on a mad hunt for a solution. This came in the form of the highly recommended Etsy’s shop, Threadmill.

Threadmill Satin Lined Hat

Designer

Threadmill is the brainchild of  Dottie Mabry. On her shop profile, Mabry describes herself as an artist (10 cool points!) and art teacher (20 cool points!) “who loves her students, and her yarn fiercely.” She writes, “I view crochet as a sculptural medium … and delight in the endless possibilities of creating wearable art in yarn.”

Shelli of hairscapades.com gave Dottie Mabry the idea to line her stylish brimsters and boho hats with satin to help preserve natural hair. I am ever grateful, as she gave a much loved Christmas present for my sis.

Selection

At Threadmill, you can find crocheted brimsters, beanies, hats for babies, scarves, ponchos, and more. I chose two variations of a rasta tam … like a true Jamaican gal ;) For Kay, I got a slouchy crocheted brimless hat in soft green with a green, satin lining, as expertly recommended by Mabry. Of course, I snagged a little something for myself. I picked up a brimmed rasta tam in black with black lining. You can customize the look of both your hat and its lining’s color, so it is truly an original. Love!

MyCurlyMane in Satin Lined Hat

Quality

Both of my purchases were created in thick, wool yarn and felt very soft. I was also surprised that they had a little weight to them. They are definitely constructed with well-made materials. I made the mistake of placing my hat in a pile of clothes … and got a single thread pulled and loosened by a hanger. Take care with how you handle your hat!

The Look

My hat’s pattern was a little more holey than Kay’s, so the lining is more noticeable up close. I like this, as I think it adds to the look. However, if you’re seeking a traditional look, select a hat with a closer woven design.

Tip: Select a loser crotched design and a contrasting colored satin lining for a creative spin.

Price

Hats range in price, with many costing approximately $30 without lining. The satin lining costs an additional $19. For my thrifty gals, you can follow my previous technique of donning your own satin-lined caps under your hats, but for ease and style, check out Threadmill’s collection.

Threadmill Satin Lined Hats

Service

Etsy’s service was fast. I received both hats earlier than anticipated, and this was just before the holidays. Threadmill’s service also was very impressive. Both hats arrived carefully wrapped in plastic. Dottie Mabry was very accessible and oh, so kindly answered all my questions and offered suggestions for the designs. I appreciate it! Thank you!

If you decide to pick up a Threadmill hat, please let me know below. Share how you’re topping off your look this winter!

UPDATED 1-8-13: Ding! Ding! Ding! Dottie Mabry has very generously offered My Curly Mane readers a 15% discount on her hats for the month of February. Don’t worry. I won’t make it difficult for you. No jumping through hoops. To obtain this great deal, all you have to do is subscribe to this blog and leave a comment below. That’s it! Oh, and if you do purchase some threads, please share your comments or pics below.

Holiday Hairstyles For Natural Hair

Like chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the holiday season is ablaze! I hope you are enjoying it, whether you are celebrating traditionally or just going about your days. If you have dinner plans or are heading out on the town, I’ve got holiday hairstyles for you to ring in the new year, courtesy of a few savvy YouTube vloggers. I purposely selected these on-camera mavens since their textures vary from my own and showcase natural hair’s versatility. If you’re like me, you often desire to mix up your look but need baby steps. These styles are simple, so trust me, curlie. We can do them too!

Dinner Party Looks

Our first vlogger, IamNaturallyCurious, presents a sophisticated updo. Stop right there! Don’t get overwhelmed by the final look. I was right there with you, ready to click out of the screen, until I watched this lady easily twist her hair into this classic style. Add pins, garnish, heck even left over Christmas decor, and you’re more than ready for tea with the queen. Sit back and enjoy the music!

Ms. RosieVelt takes another spin on the classic updo by working her hair into a low twisted bang and braided back. One of the best things about this look is that it doesn’t require neat parts and rolls. Instead, you can keep it loose and even a little messy, and it still looks pretty darn neat for formal or informal events.

Fun Time Style

For my ladies who really want to stand out, there’s the infamous hair bow, famously sported by Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton. Vlogger Cassandre Beccai walks us through a quick and easy tutorial. I just love, love this look! Oh, and no, I don’t care that I’m not 5 years old. I will be one of those ladies who wears pigtails til the age of 80, God willing! For a different spin, work the hair bow into a half up (hair bowed), half down look.

Talk Of The Town TWA

For my ladies with teeny-weeny afros (TWAs), there are styles for you as well. TWAs truly help to showcase our facial beauty, but did you know that they can be worked into lovely looks? InTheTikiLounge shows us how to dress up shorter hair, so you won’t get stuck with the same ol’ style.

Bonus Tips

Want to mix it up? Adorn these looks with headbands, hairpins, clips, and even faux color (view my recent post on a temporary color trick). You can also use them as blue prints for your own look. Get creative!

If you try any of these styles or variations of your own, please let me know. Post pics, comments, tips, etc. below! Happy Holidays!

Faux Color, Real Appeal

I’ve got color; yes, I do! I’ve got color; how about you?!

I just love hair color. I think it’s a great way to accent our curls, particularly in the form of highlights. Warning! As much as I love coloring my hair, it was one of the evil culprits that caused damage. Sit back and relax for a quick recap!

History Lesson

Years ago, I would embark on weekly adventures with color, changing my hair from red to blond and back again. That was until my curly mane had enough. It drop-kicked my bottles of developer and dyes and played dead on my head … well, hair is naturally dead (ha!), but this was something entirely different. Over processing my hair through bleach and dyes left it in a limp state.

Just when I began to rehab my curls, I once again decided to get color in the form of highlights. I figured this would be less damaging, particularly since I was seeking the help of a professional stylist. Mistake! The hairdresser, who between breaks of nibbling on her lunch, over processed the front, left section of my hair. This area stopped curling as well, not to mention it was completely colored instead of highlighted! Needless to say, these and other experiences made me walk away from hair coloring.

Still, I just can’t help drooling over other curlies’ expert highlights. It makes me pause and briefly consider another bout with dyes. Fortunately, natural hair blogger Curly Nikki recently flagged a sneaky way in which we can get faux hair color by using cream eye shadow. Boing! That’s the sound of your head rattling. I know. I know. You must be thinking that us natural ladies have lost it again. Here comes another crazy concoction or method of styling. No, actually this one is quick and easy. It’s also a fun way to mix up your look.

Tools:

Instructions

I literally dug my fingers into this creamy eye shadow (frowning and naysaying along the way), and randomly smoothed it down my strands, twirling it around my finger. I concentrate more of the product on the hairs around my face. I had to use a generous amount since it wasn’t initially apparent on my dark hair. You’ll need to wash and scrub this from your hands and nails. Not too bad, but it can be a little messy.

Appearance

The eye shadow gave my hair a slight shimmer and gold highlights! I was pleasantly surprised. Although the shadow itself is marketed as lasting 24 hours, hence its name as a tattoo, this faded out of my hair throughout the night.

When I woke up in the morning, it was gone! I had to check my pics to remember that I applied it! The only evidence is slight traces of shimmer. This worked perfectly for styling my hair (and eyes) before I headed out to a reggae concert. I think the rocker look is perfect for heading out on the town, but it may be too much for conservative office environments. The choice is yours.

If you give this look a go, please comment and share pics below! You can also view this post and join the conversation over at Curly Nikki.

Safe Straightening & Grown Lady Lessons

Straightened and Curled Natural Hair

My natural hair was straightened and curled. This look lasts for 3-5 days (for my mane).

Attention dear friends. Recently I celebrated my birthday! Yes, curlies. My curly mane and I are literally older … and hopefully wiser! To celebrate this milestone (no, I won’t reveal the numbers as yet … gulp!), I straightened my mane! Believe it or not; I actually departed from curls to sport straightened locks. First, I wanted to mix it up for a few, celebratory days. Second, I wanted to conduct a length check.

You see. For about a year, I swore that my hair wasn’t budging past near mid-back/bra-strap length, but I now know that my hair needs less direct heat aka flat ironing in order for it to thrive. At the start of the summer, I made a commitment to reduce the amount of time in which I’d straighten my hair and experiment more with my natural hair. In doing so, my hair has gotten even healthier than before and longer!

That being said, it was time to straighten my hair the safer way—roller settting and then lightly flat ironing. Here are a few steps (as well as grown lady tips!) in which you can follow to capture this look.

Tools:

  • Clarifying or Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Leave-in conditioner (I use Silicon Mix Intensive Leave in Hair Shine and Conditioner since the silicones it contains help to trap moisture into the hair and prevent frizz )
  • Oil (I love my Vatika Oil mix)
  • Regular tooth comb (not wide or fine, just right and easy to use)
  • Snap-on, hard, magnetic rollers aka rolos :) You can also use flexi rods if this is easier.
  • Soft rollers covered in satin
  • Spray Bottle (fill with water)
  • Hard hat dryer (I have a Pibbs but Belson Elite Ionic Tourmaline Rollabout Dryer works well)
  • Setting lotion = optional. I don’t use it, but if you want more hold then use this.
  • Heat protectant spray (always recommended, but I tend to skip this in favor of an oil or butter)
  • Flat iron (I use a Maxiglide)
Roller setting Natural Hair

Tools of the trade and steps needed in order to roller set natural hair.

Steps

  1. Start with a clean slate. Wash and condition your curly mane as you normally do. I like to clarify my hair, so it is completely clear of other products, particularly those that work with my natural curls but not with straight tresses.
  2. Apply leave-in conditioner. I tend to add a lot of product to the ends of my hair, since I will be using a flat iron, and I don’t want to dry out my ends. Calling all bandits! Split ends will rob you of length retention.
  3. Keep hard rollers (for drying under the hard hat) at your side, and section your hair from the back to the front of your head. Create sections at the appropriate size of each hard roller. If your section is too large for the roller, your hair will take much longer to dry.
  4. Comb out each section of hair, spritz to keep it moist, and roll it with a roller. Apply tension to your hair as you roll, so your hair is as straight as possible. If you want more hold, spritz setting lotion onto the hair as you roll it. Warning: I am absolutely the worst at roller setting! If you’re in this club, it’s okay. You want to focus on getting the hair smooth and simply roll it as close to the scalp as possible. When you flat iron, it will work out the kinks. I also do not create neat rows. I haven’t gotten this down, so I roll my hair in the same sections I use for braid outs.
  5. After roller setting your entire head of hair, sit under a hard hat dryer for at least 30 minutes. Please gauge this according to your hair length and drying needs. Your hair must be completely dry to avoid frizz.
  6. Undo your rollers. You’ll notice that your roots may still be poofy. Ah, our curly manes win again! Once again this is okay. See my photo. My hair length may not be as kinky curly as it was originally, but my roots are still poofy. Once again, no need to fret.
  7. Apply oil all over your hair. This works as a heat protectant and adds sheen.
  8. Dust off your flat iron. My Maxiglide felt a little foreign in my hands. It took me a minute to remember how to use it! Anyhoo, grab your flat iron and straightened your hair, working in small sections from the back to the front of your head. I apply a minimal amount of heat needed to straighten it. I also like to bump (curl) the ends for body.Diane Snap-On Magnetic Rollers 1 3/4

That’s it! You now have straight hair!

Optional: Do you want beachy, bouncy curls? If so, as you flat iron each section, roll it with a soft, satin roller. Leave the soft rollers in your hair for at least an hour. When removed, you will have large, curls and waves.

Runway Styling & Nighttime Maintenance

While I like to have straight hair for the first day. Each day afterwards, I like to rock that Victoria’s Secret-esk, beachy look. Lol! This protects my ends and doesn’t require flat irons to maintain the look. To capture this look, I begin by oiling my entire hair, particularly the ends, each night. Afterwards, I use the soft, satin rollers to roll my hair. I apply a satin cap over the rollers for extra protection and to keep the positioning of the rollers. Off to bed you go! In the morning, remove all and voilá! Repeat each night for a hot look and simple, safe upkeep.

Straight and reverted natural hair

On the first day, my straightened mane easily reverted (on right). This tends to happen when natural hair hasn’t been straightened for a while. I applied a minimal amount of heat that night and roller set my hair with soft, satin rollers.

Grown Lady Lessons

As I mentioned prior, the clock is ticking and tocking. Sigh. You may have guessed it. I am one of those gals who hit a birthday and had a bit of the blues followed by the highs of all the lessons learned. I am blessed to blow out another candle, and in doing so, want to share a few lessons with you. As always, each one teach one.

On Hair (of course!) …

  1. Slow and steady wins the race. Chances are you will not figure out your hair overnight … and that’s okay! I’m still discovering my hair’s capabilities.
  2. The best manes are the result of gentle care and healthy hair. These tips are underrated but produce the best results. Healthy hair that’s treated kindly will always look good.
  3. It’s okay to keep the same style until you master your hair and other looks. Don’t feel pressured to have the same results as other curlies. Focus on your own progress. Remember #1: slow and steady wins the race!

On Life …

  1. It’s okay to be different. It’s everyone else’s problem if you do not fit into a mold. Seize the opportunity to enlighten them. If they don’t get it, keep it moving!
  2. Not everyone will like you. Ugh! “But why?” you say. “I am so kind and God-fearing.” Sadly, even the best of us will get shunned or bullied once in our lives. I know. It isn’t right. It’s just human nature. You just have to remember to be above it. Once again, it’s their problem. Keep it moving!
  3. There’s nothing better than being kind to yourself. Woooah there, lioness! Go easy. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Even if you believe you haven’t accomplished as much as you’d like to by your age, note the many lessons learned (I hope!), adventures undertaken (even the minis), and plain ol’ fashioned growing up that you’ve done. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it. If you’ve had a b’day or you’re approaching one, happy you day to you!

Why You Need Serena’s Winning Look

IMG_4583_a

Serena Williams’ faux natural hair is winning. Photo credit: mjh0

The summer Olympic games have been the “hairiest” one by far, with fire storms whirling around African-American women’s heads (please see my previous post for details). Whether worn naturally curly, weaved, or permed, hair has taken center stage, unfortunately overshadowing the performances of many world-class athletes. Among those gaining attention for their manes is tennis ace Serena Williams.

Let me forewarn you, I don’t want to take away from Serena’s Olympic gold medal achievements. In fact, I want to explain to you the importance of her winning look, namely the hairstyle she sported as she won this year’s games.

Regardless of your opinions about Serena’s tresses, we can thank her for:

  • Inspiring women everywhere to be physically strong
  • Placing the spotlight on natural hair … Simmer down curlies! Yes, I know that Serena’s was magically enhanced. More on this later!

From Physical To Spiritual Strength

Put down those Cheetos!! Yes, you heard me. I know you’re munching on them right now at your desk or on the couch … I know because that’s what I would have been doing if I hadn’t changed my diet a few months ago! Apparently, Serena would be right there with us.

She says, “I’ve actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete. I don’t like working out; I don’t like anything physical. If it involves sitting down or shopping, I’m excellent at it.”

Despite her challenges with being active, Serena remains committed to her passion. This dedication made her an all-star, and her body is legend! You don’t need to become a professional athlete, but you can become physically stronger (and maybe even have guns like Serena). Why? Working out not only gives you bodily strength, but it also leads to emotional, mental, and spiritual vitality. You can credit this to the endorphins that are released or just the time spent in solitude.

If you like to meditate or pray, this is a great time to just breathe … literally. As a former runner, there have been numerous times in which I enjoyed moving and meditating, sorting through my life in my head. I’m taken into a zone where I feel as if I am more connected to the Universe and myself (hippie alert!), and everything will be okay. Seriously, you should try it, even if it means walking for just 15 minutes during your day.

Lights, Camera, … Natural Hair!

In addition to her form, Serena has helped to shine a light on natural hair … even if it’s not her own. Hear me out. I know that there have been colorful comments on Twitter regarding Miss Williams’ tendrils, but I think that Serena/her stylist has done a good job of capturing the overall look.

My curly (and straightened) mane with sweatbands and a scrunchie.

Her hair wasn’t styled in an over-the-top way. It looked pretty accurate. It was big. It was voluminous. It bounced as she moved. It blew freely in the wind … just like our curly manes. To me, her faux natural look (Pause. Think about that for minute. Funny!) was the equivalent of Meryl Streep playing Julia Childs. Not exactly the same but definitely Oscar worthy. You can feel free to disagree with me on this one.

In the meanwhile, you can get this look with your natural (or faux) hair by using a sweatband and hair tie/band. I prefer to use a scrunchie instead of a hair band since it doesn’t misshape curls or leave dents in straightened locks once removed.

You can find sweatbands in an assortment of colors and materials, from nylon to polyester, but I prefer the ones made out of terrycloth. This material definitely absorbs sweat, is easy to use, and can help preserve your edges when they’re straightened. Just remember to stretch out the sweatband before using it since some brands are a bit snug at initial use and can stress tender edges.

Sweatbands are available at beauty supply stores or online for no more than $2. Can’t beat that! If you really want to bring back the ’80s or pretend to be a pro like Serena, pair a bright colored sweatband with matching wrist bands. It’s fun and functional!

Whether you are walking, running, or oming it out, just get moving. And don’t forget your sweat- and wristbands!

Braiding It Out With Aloe Vera Gel

A girl without braids is like a city without bridges.” ~ Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy

My curly mane braided out with aloe vera gel

Previously, I shared with you the many benefits of aloe vera on hair and my shock and awe at the results of my hair styled with aloe vera gel (AVG). Yes, shock and awe. Well, I didn’t want to leave you hanging, so I continued to use the gel for a full week (how’s that for due diligence?). I even incorporated it into my plaits/braid out routine, a welcomed change from my typical wash and go. The results?

Perfect! I am truly amazed. Aloe vera gel gave me a soft and defined braid out with little shrinkage. Typically, with other products, my hair results wane as the days go on. Not to mention that the product tends to dry out my hair, leave it dull after the first day, and/or leaves a slightly frizzed result. Not with aloe vera gel! I was able to resuscitate my braided out mane each night, getting 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th day hair! I kid you not. I also got some compliments … and confused stares (here she goes again with new hair).

You can achieve this look by following the steps below. You can also use braid outs as a protective style, meaning it will protect your strands from breaking and splitting by hiding and securing your ends (while in braids). This is particularly good for curlies whose hair does not like wash and gos or if your personal preference is for a more elongated curly look.

My first day results of a braid out using aloe vera gel. Great for working gals.

Tools:

First Things First:

1. Work on freshly washed hair. Yes, curlie, wash your mane!

2. Start at the back of your head and work your way towards the front.

3. Part your first section of hair and section off the rest of your hair with a clip. The bigger the section, the larger the curls and waves will be.

Braid outs are a great way to check your growth progress. Slow and steady wins the race!

4. Layer products in the following order: leave-in conditioner, oil (for sealing in moisture), and aloe vera gel.

By placing my plaits in ponytails, it helps to stretch my hair. Check out the little wormy curl by my neck. LOL!

5. Braid your hair and twirl the ends around your finger. This will leave a curl at the ends. I applied a little extra conditioner to my ends to add moisture and aid in the twirling action.

6. Continue to braid all over your head. I do approximately 8-10 plaits.

7. You can leave your hair as is, or place your braids in two pony tails (see pic) using rubber bands. I use this method to further stretch my hair. If you like more body at the top of your head (va-voom!), skip the ponytails, as it will pull your hair south as opposed to up and out. I skipped the ponytails for my 2nd day hair results.

8. Let your hair air dry or sit under a hooded dryer. It may be easier to do this routine at night, and let your hair air dry overnight, which is what I did.

9. Once dry, gently unbraid your hair. If you let it dry overnight and it’s still a little wet, gently unbraid your hair and blow dry (not scorch) it. Once dry, I like to use a blow dryer (again) to tug and stretch my hair even more. The blow dryer also helps my products, particularly the oils, absorb into my hair, softening the hair further.

10. Fluff and separate curls as desired in order to hide the parts in your hair. You can also add accessories as desired. I added a black flower (and a little gloss and glam!) on my 2nd day.

 

My hair on the 1st day, after braiding it overnight.

For 2nd Day Hair

1. Work in sections again, from the back to the front of your head. You can use the same areas you used before or use new sections. If you’re using a new section, remember to gently separate your hair strands.

2. Lightly spritz sectioned off hair with water.

3. I added more aloe vera gel because I wasn’t sure if I’d get enough definition. You can skip this or go in the opposite direction and add aloe vera gel, oil, and/or more leave-in. This will require some experimentation. Please listen to your hair and its needs.

4. Re-braid hair.

5. Air or blow dry.

6. Unbraid and fluff. You can also briefly blow dry and stretch your hair.

 

For 3rd Day Hair

This is my hair on the 2nd day. I had near duplicate results on the 3rd day. Note the fuller texture due to humidity. AVG still gave me great definition, soft hair, and little frizz. I accessorized this look with a black flower.

Repeat the steps used for the 2nd day (above). I skipped the aloe vera gel and just added more leave-in, as I felt my hair needed a little more moisture. Once again, listen to your hair.

Try aloe vera gel on your natural hair. If your hair and scalp permits, you can continue to wear your hair in this style for consecutive days. Just repeat the steps above. Try it (don’t forget the gloss and glam!) and share your results.

 

Aloe Vera Gel, The Scorching Summer Styler For Natural Hair

Aloe Vera Gel on Natural Hair

My curly mane’s popping curls thanks to aloe vera gel.

With the recent bout of extreme heat and high humidity, I’ve found that my usual go-to products for wash and gos just aren’t able to tame my curly mane. The perfectly styled and defined curls that I leave the house with in the morning have ended up as a frizzed out, shrunken cotton ball in the evening (whomp, whomp). While I am taking fellow curly girls’ suggestion to embrace the frizz, I am also exploring another curlie’s suggestion—seal with oil and use Fruit of the Earth 100% Aloe Vera Gel.

Three years ago, I purchased aloe vera gel (AVG) upon the suggestion of natural hair boards. At that time, it just didn’t seem to work on my hair, leaving it dry and crunchy. In hindsight, there may have been many factors which impacted the results of the gel (see if the following applies to you):

  • My hair wasn’t in its true state, as it was damaged and rehabbing from my straightening addiction.
  • I regularly rotated products in an attempt to find a holy grail, so my hair may not have been clarified enough.
  • I can’t recall, but I might have tried the gel during the winter, when humectants like aloe vera gel tend to dry out hair. Unfamiliar with humidity’s impact on curls? The basic breakdown is that humectants can either draw moisture into or out of the hair, depending on humidity. Yes, it gets a little technical. For a full breakdown, Pittsburgh Curly does a great job of explaining humidity and humectants.

Since a full bottle of aloe vera gel has been patiently waiting under my bathroom sink all these years (pick me, pick me!) and my hair is in a much healthier state, I decided to take up the suggestion and revisit the all-natural gel, particularly since it’s an ingredient in a lot of the stylers that I use.

Benefits

Aloe Vera Gel on Natural Hair

Wet hair styled with aloe vera gel.

1. AVG is typically 100% organic.

2. AVG moisturizes the scalp, treating dandruff problems.

3. AVG treats hair loss and promotes fast hair growth (I’m in!).

4. AVG adds sheen to dull hair.

5. AVG balances hair’s pH level, thereby sealing hair’s cuticle layer. This locks moisture into your strands and minimizes frizz.

6. AVG makes curls pop and gives a light hold.

7. AVG leaves your hair super soft.

8. AVG doesn’t contain mineral oil, so you can conditioner wash your hair, thereby adding more moisture into your strands.

9. You can snag a bottle of AVG at any Target or Walmart for under $5. I prefer to use Fruit of The Earth Aloe Vera Gel.

10. If AVG doesn’t work on your hair for styling, you can add it to your shampoo or conditioner for added moisture. If that doesn’t work, you can save it for when you or the next person you know has sun burn!


Styling Tips

Some curlies are successfully mixing aloe vera gel into their own brews. Since I’m not a mixologist, I’ve been layering the gel as I do with my stylers. Do whatever suits your fancy. Here’s how I apply aloe vera gel.

My curly mane styled with aloe vera gel and blow dried.

1. Work on wet, newly washed/co-washed hair.

2. Smooth a leave in conditioner all over your curly mane. I usually use Silicon Mix, but I recently tried Beautiful Textures’ leave in conditioner. So far, it responds well and easily absorbs into my hair. I’ll elaborate more on this product line soon.

3. Style your hair in sections, beginning in the back and working towards the front.

4. In each section, layer products, beginning with additional leave in conditioner.

5. Seal the conditioner with a layer of oil. I like to use Vatika Oil or my oil mix (Vatika Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Avocado Oil).

6. Layer aloe vera gel on top of your oil.

7. Repeat layering your leave in, oil, and gel on all sections.

8. Part your hair how you’d like to style it (in middle, side, etc.).

9. Blow or air dry hair. I blow dried my hair because I like to have predictable results and do additional fluffing when dried.

The final, dry haired results, of using aloe vera gel.


Results

Amazing! When I applied aloe vera gel on my wet hair, I was shocked by how smooth and defined my curls appeared (see photos). There was virtually no frizz. After drying, my curls were still seriously defined and fluffy, with minimal frizz.

I used aloe vera gel during three scorching hot, humid days, and I still had great results. I looove how soft and shiny my hair is. I can even now co-wash, since I don’t have to clarify a product to avoid build up. This has been keeping my hair extremely soft and moisturized thus far, which should aid in hair growth. We shall see!

The only downfall is that the gel doesn’t allow me to stretch my hair as well (for length), since my hair is so curly. However, I am able to still have big, fluffy hair.

I will continue to explore the wonderful world of aloe vera gel, particularly on braid/twist outs, and I’ll report back. In the meanwhile, test it out, and share your pics and tips!

UPDATE: Check out the wicked results of my braid-outs with aloe vera gel.

Nighttime Routines & Sexy Sleeping for Naturals

For the night shows stars and women in a better light.” ~ Lord Byron, Don Juan

You spent all day proudly sporting your best mane style, but now it’s time for bed. How do you go about preserving the ‘do you worked so diligently on? First things first, remember satin and silk are your best friends.

Satin Pillowcase

Sleep on a satin pillowcase and reap the benefits.

Pros:

  • Satin and silk materials do not absorb the moisture in your hair (unlike cotton), preventing your hair from drying out and breaking.
  • Your hair will effortlessly slip across the fabric. Try it and see!
  • The slipping action is great for your face. Satin/silk pillow cases do not cause creases across your face like cotton pillowcases, thereby reducing wrinkles.
  •  You can prevent having “bed head” and smushed ’fros.

Cons:

  • If you are sans air conditioning, you will sweat a lot!

Long-Haired Curly Gals:

  1. Before bed, pineapple your curly mane at the top of your head. Huh, what? New to school? This means gathering your hair at the very top of your head and tying it with a band, so it literally looks like a pineapple. I like to use a scrunchie since it leaves little-to-no hair dents. I also prefer to gather my curly mane at the very front of my head, close to my forehead. It tends to look more like a unicorn than pineapple, but it works! The unicorn method is especially good for us wild sleepers. It also keeps your ends safe from being rubbed by the fabric of your sheets and pillows (if you skip the satin/silk pillows), preventing splint ends.
  2. Sleep on a satin/silk pillow case, or stuff your hair in a satin/silk cap.

Short-Haired Curly Gals and Teeny Weenie Afros (TWAs):

  1. Wear a satin or silk cap before heading to bed. You can also go the extra mile and wrap your hair with a silk or satin scarf before putting on the cap. If your covering stays on (lucky gentle sleepers), you can sleep on a regular pillow case.
  2. If you’re a wild sleeper (toss and turners, leg kickers, and sleep walkers all apply), sleep on a satin or silk pillow case as a backup method.

Straightened Tresses

  1. If you want to preserve your fresh presses and blow-outs, wrap your hair with a satin or silk scarf. When I first began taking better care of my hair, I found this to be tricky, as it was nonexistent in my routine. I would just sleep on a cotton pillow and proceed to cook my hair with a flat iron in the morning. And I wondered why my hair health suffered!

Bonus Tip: If you smooth Vatika oil on longer straightened hair and place it in a bun before bed, you will wake up with silky waves. This particularly works for me when using my Maxiglide hair straightener.

Sexy Sleepers

Let’s face it, there may be occasions where you are in others’ company and want to “sleep sexy,” even just for your own comfort. Bolder curlies will call a spade a spade and keep on trucking with their routine. “Sexy sleepers” can try the pineapple and satin pillow case method, or at the very least keep a pillowcase handy, particularly if you’re traveling. They may call you a diva, but you’ll be waking up with your style preserved!

And while you’re sexy sleeping, don’t forget your body spray, cute socks, and lip balm/gloss. It may sound a little over the top, but I know ladies who go the extra mile!

Do you have sexy sleeping hair techniques? Pass them along and sound off.

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