Sunday Bunday {Adventures in Marley Hair}

Armed with a bag of marley hair, per my last post, I headed off to New York last week for work.

I spent the week in various stretched styles, ranging from a bouffant to a french twist to just a good, ol’ scarf style. The ultimate goal was to create a towering and regal bun using the marley hair for Afropunk.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I’m a horrible hair stylist when it comes to anything other than a wash’n go, but I was delighted to discover that this wonderful bun style took a matter of minutes.

In fact it was so easy that I couldn’t even properly take step by step photos because it was like PRESTO CHANGO: BONJOUR, BUN!

Basically:

1. Put your hair in a high puff
2. Take a length of Marley Hair and secure one end with a hair elastic. Here’s a peek at what it looks like when it’s hanging down.

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3. Attach the secure end to the base of the puff and just start a-wrapping the hair around the puff, making sure that your little curly coils are all covered. Honestly, it’s not that tough because the marley hair is super thick and offers great coverage.
4. Secure with lots of pins annnnd VOILA! YOU BE BUNNIN’

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It’s that easy!

ps. These dope after photos are from our #BevelClassics photo booth at Afropunk this past weekend and it’s 100% worth it to check out all the snaps! Shout out to Brandon King and Aundre for making me look my very best :)

How Teyonah Slayed The Bun Game (and my efforts to copy cat)

After a hearty day of fun in the yesterday, I woke up this morning feeling way less than stellar. So I did what any normal girl would do: crawl the NewsFeed.

A gorgeous round up on BGLH of Teyonah Parris’ natural hair styles stopped me in my tracks, but one of the styles truly spoke to me:

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To me this bun is everything. It is at the same time regal and effortless. Intricate yet simple. I thought to myself “only like 19 more years until my hair is long enough to do this” and then I remembered the ol’ African American Adage:

If You Can’t Achieve It, Weave It

Luckily, Teyonah’s hair stylist, Miss Felicia Leatherwood, is a dear friend of mine, so I shot her a quick text to see if even I, a sub-par stylist at best, could recreate the look on my own.

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Easy as that. Now if that doesn’t sound achievable, I just don’t know what is….

In the past two hours I have acquired myself the recommended bag of Marley hair and am planning on giving this style a whirl this weekend for Afropunk in Brooklyn. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!

Now the only question that remains: where can I find that awesome laurel leaf headband…..

Nigerian Natural Hair Show: Recap + Gallery

After months and months of preparation, last Saturday the Nigerian Natural Hair Show went DOWN and it was so much fun!!! The Kinky Apothecary team knocked it out of the park, putting together a fabulous 8 hours of educational programming and an fantastic expo. The event took place at The Federal Palace Hotel here in Lagos, Nigeria and over 200 naturalistas came from Lagos, greater Nigeria and even other African countries to learn, shop and snap selfies–lots of selfies– in their fantastic natural styles.

The day started off with a panel discussion facilitated by Nibi Lawson, Founder + CEO of Kinky Apothecary. I was honored to sit on-stage alongside an inspirational (not to mention GLOBAL!) group of women including Felicia Leatherwood (Celebrity Stylist), Obia Ewah (Obia’s Naturals), Ijeoma Eboh (KlassyKinkys), Ngozi Opara (Heat Free Hair) and Wunmi Akinlagun (Woman in the Jungle).

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I hopped on stage to present my workshop “The Top 10 Natural Hair Mistakes I’ve Made (and how to avoid them yourself)”. See, as a blogger, you’re often only posting the finished, polished and sometimes even photoshopped final photos of the natural hair journey. The truth is that going natural is HARD and even we bloggers still make mistakes, especially when starting off. I wanted to open up and give an authentic perspective on the struggle that is so real, but stand up as an example that with a bit of patience and perseverance—in the end it all turns out a-okay.

Towards the end of my talk, I also explained that one of my main goals with my blog is to meet and get the stories of naturals around the world, so I encouraged everyone to come find me and we could snap a shot with my selfie-stick. And BOY did these Nigerian Naturals sure love taking those selfies! I think I’ll write some sort of new African proverb that starts “If you give a woman a selfie stick, she’ll look as fire as the African sun.” Something like that… I’ll work out the copy soon, but for realz, people love the ‘Stick. It brought out a lot of smiles and laughs.

The rest of the day, all the other speakers hit the stage and I chatted with the local naturals, asking questions, helping them shop for products, and doing a little shopping myself (hey-o!)–I can’t leave these Ankara fabrics alone while I’m here….

Huge shout out to Nibi and team for pulling off such a fantastic event. Education is the MOST important part of the natural hair movement and she is such an inspirational example of drive and passion for providing that education to the women of Africa.

Now, without further ado, my full gallery of images:

1st Day Hair: Not My Thing (even in Nigeria)

Tomorrow! Yes, FINALLY tomorrow is the big day—the Nigerian Natural Hair Show is finally here. As a featured presenter, I started prepping my hair for said big day, well….last week.

I’ve come to realize, that I really, truly, honestly dislike my first day hair. As a Wash’n’Go advocate, I find that my freshly washed style is just never my favorite. Sure, my ringlets are fully popped, I’ve got tons of shine, my hair hangs long, but I don’t know…I just feel that I look like some sort of wet cat.

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See the displeasure in that face? Yea, that’s me.

Okay, maybe I’m not THAT upset, but I feel like my hair never hits its stride until day three or four. A few reasons:

1. It’s a little TOO perfect. I find that the beauty of natural hair is in its “imperfections”. I like a little frizz, a little gesture–it shows personality.
2. It’s too flat. It shows off all the angles of the cut, there’s no smooth, rounded out flow. I want my hair reaching for the sky.
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Growing My Hair Out = The Worst.

I really liked having short hair. It’s easy, chic, and pure. However, a few weeks ago, I saw one of my old YouTube vids and decided I actually REALLY liked my longer curls and needed ’em back:

I guess I somehow wound up with hair envy of myself and I’m on a quest to grow my hair out so I can get my fun little curlies back for me to play with! Yay!

Thing is, I’m smack dab in the middle of that awkward length where it kind of just looks like my hair is some sort of fuzzy cap sitting on top of my head. Since I’m used to having super precise haircuts, having a non-shaped style is driving me absolutely crazy.

Each and every day, I am tempted to cut it all off. I even went as far as calling Marie to tell her I was having a “hair emergency” and made a last minute appointment. When I walked in she took one look at me and said “THIS is not an emergency. You just need to keep growing it out.”

And she’s absolutely right.

Thing is my curls HAVE grown back a lot and are healthy and thriving, but they’re not short enough to look polished and styled, nor are they long enough do anything with.

I was able to talk Marie into cutting off what I considered to be my curly mullet so my hair could have SOME shape while I grow it out. Check out this Before & After:

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I can’t wait until my hair is out of this awkward adolescent phase of the grow out, but stay tuned because Lola is coming BACK! Woohoo!!!

Me & My Marley Twists!!!

Back in December, I started to get a major case of hair envy  and decided that I wanted to grow Lola out.  However, I quickly realized that without freshly clipped curls, I kinda started to look like Bradley Cooper from American Hustle.  EEP!

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Researching a Protective Style

For months, I’ve been loving the Marley Twist a.k.a. “Havana Twist” look and called up Deedee, The Golden Braider, located in Berkeley, CA to see if she could hook a gal up. After she explained to me that it would take about 4 hours and 6 bags of hair, I was S.O.L.D. (especially considering that normal singles take about 12-15 hours, this new style was a real time saver!).

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FINALLY! I’m 100% Natural.

Here’s the thing: I absolutely LOVED having colored hair. I thought it enhanced my skintone and eye color and allowed me to show off my unique texture in a really great way. Thing is, over the past few months, I really and I mean really started to miss my natural hair color.

The anxiety started to plague me in my sleep (y’all know I get weird hair anxiety dreams) and I started to think about how gray hair is probably just around the corner for me (le sigh). Each day that passed, I started to hate the little straggling blonde curls and even pulled out the scissors and cut a few off myself. When I saw the damaged ends after my most recent adventure in straightening, I new that it was time to cut it off.

Sitting down in Marie’s chair, I explained that I just wanted the blonde gone.

“You’re going to be able to see your scalp, you know,” she explained.

“I know. Just cut it.”

And cut it she did.

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The result was shorter hair than I’ve EVER had before, but I’m absolutely enamored with my natural texture AND color. As I said earlier, I loved having colored hair, but there’s no question that it is a chemical process that altered the texture and integrity of my curls. I definitely fell off on the care front, for some reason short hair doesn’t seem as though it needs as much deep conditioning and pampering as long curls (although this is probably not at all true.)

Knowing me and my whims of style, I will certainly be back to color sometime in the future, but for now that I’m back to fully natural, my hair is softer and more shiny than I can remember!!

In Which I Straightened My Hair (???????)

If there is one person that shouldn’t go messing around with my hair, it’s DEFINITELY ME. I am absolutely the WORST when it comes to experimentation, but for some reason I just can’t seem to resist it!

Case in point: a few weekends ago, I woke up with a craving to straighten my hair. I mean, it’s been YEARS since I’ve done this myself (and last time I almost broke my neck in the process), so I guess I was due for a bit of adventure.

I rummaged around my natural hair goodies and remembered that Motions had sent me a sample of their new Straight to Finish line! I popped open the box and not only was the whole product set in there, but ALSO a handy-dandy little flat-iron! How serendipitous indeed!

So I washed and conditioned my hair with their products. There’s actually only a leave-in (no conditioner), which made me nervous, but whatever—I was on a M.I.S.S.I.O.N.!

First things first, I sat beneath my hooded dryer and let my hair dry 85% of the way through. Then I dug out my comb attachment for the blow dryer and worked it through my curls.

At this point you might be asking yourself a very, very, important question:

Cass, do you even have enough hair to blow dry it straight!???

The answer is no, not really. But I worked it out.

Well, kinda.

The result was one of the more ridiculous looks I’ve ever, EVER seen on my head.

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So, yea. That happened.

Then I proceeded to smooth on the Motions Straight Finish Sealer, aka heat protectant, a CRUCIAL step. Ever since I had to cut of 10 inches of heat damage once upon a time, we do not mess around without heat protectant!

Then there was the flat-iron. Almost immediately I was ready to be done. It’s that SMELL, ya know??? My hair wasn’t burning or anything, it just smelled…. straightened. It is a scent (stank odor?) I do not miss.

After about 30 minutes, I was through my entire head and the result was………..less than appealing.

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I tried to make it work by adding my side part back and using some styler to hold down the sides, only to realize that the only styler I have is actually for CURLS so almost immediately my hair started to revert back to its natural texture.

Within 30 minutes, I was in the shower washing my hair and getting it’s texture back!

So what did we learn??

  • First of all, the Motions Straight Finish products did a great job. My hair reverted immediately and there was no damage. Thumbs up on the product living up to its promises!
  • Ya girl needed a haircut. BADLY! When I got my last cut, I didn’t want to go TOO short, so the blonde ends were left on. It added a little pepper of color, but honestly it always kind of annoyed me. However, seeing the colored pieces in their straightened form realized just how dry and damaged they were. It was absolutely time for them to go!
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  • I love my natural hair. Simple as that!
  • Welcome back, curls!!  You were missed!

    Welcome back, curls!! You were missed!

My 4-Year Blogiversary: THE RETURN

Well hello there! As you may have noticed, I took a bit of a hiatus there from the blog front, and for those who are frequent readers, I apologize for the departure.

The truth is that I had become uninspired by the natural hair world. Sure, there was the constant release of new products and fun parties and mixers to attend, but after four years that whole scene had become stale, empty and in terms of seeking out compelling content, it lacked the true depth I had once found within it.

So I stopped writing.

However, Natural Selection has brought me immense joy and growth, so I knew that it would be back, but that I needed to take time to reflect on where it is I wanted to take this next part of my journey.

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I woke up today and it dawned on me: I needed to take this blog back to it’s origins, to the ORIGINAL reasons I started writing in July of 2009. So I took a trip over to my ORIGINAL blog (there have been three over the years), to see if my very first blog post held any clues. Appropriately titled “New Beginnings: A [Moderately] Brief History of Why I’m Starting a Blog About My Hair“, this post holds it’s intrigue in the opening sentence and closing statement.

The opener:

“Since I can remember, my hair has been both my crowning glory and my greatest nemesis.”

A powerful statement, and one that rings true for many women of color, however after four years of being natural, I am proud to say that my hair is a nemesis no longer!

An excerpt from my closing paragraph:

“This blog is not going to just be about hairstyles and products. I’ve come to realize that the story of black hair is a story about cultural and personal identity, health and diet, schools and learning, world history and politics, art and expression, laughter and struggle, and family and friends.”

Four years later, I stand behind this statement still. The natural hair movement, with it’s parades of products and consumerism, has swallowed up the above the true story of black hair and I too have been swept up in it and have deviated from sharing and exploring it. However I truly believe that it’s important to keep these explorations at the forefront. It’s what positively unites us, rather than 3a/4c divides us.

I will admit that it’s funny that I spent so much time and effort worrying about where I should take the future of this blog, when all I had to do was return to the origin for the answer. A lesson for us all.

Get the Part! A Side Part on your TWA that is….

One of the main issues I have (and hear from my readers) is that with a TWA there aren’t a lot of styling options. My first instinct is to say, “well, that’s the point.” But now after a few months of having my own crop, I totally understand the desire to spice a short ‘do up a bit.

Which is why I’ve decided to rock the side part. The side part inspiration came about when I saw Solange do it when she first did her big chop.

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It appears however, that our dearest Miss Knowles cut her part into her hair and while cute, I was reluctant to make such a commitment.

So when I was getting my hair cut and styled last week, I hopped out of the chair and used my fingers and nails to sort of draw in a side part. It worked just okay, but the idea was there.

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The next day I decided to figure out how to get the part going REAL good. ¬†After a few trials and errors, I finally achieved a part that will last for days on end, even through sleeping and second day hair! Here’s how I do it:

1. On freshly washed hair, apply your usual styling product. I’ve been liking gels.

2. Take a comb and place your part. Your hair will want just swallow that part right back up, so try to use the teeth of the comb to gently tame just the roots.

3. Once you have the part, lightly apply some firm hold gel. I’ve been really, really liking the new EDEN Bodyworks Control Edge Glaze. It’s all natural, dries clear, has an AWESOME hold and for $8.99—the price is right!

4. Once the gel is applied, take two duckbill clips and slide them along either side of the part.

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5. Using a blowdryer on medium heat with a nozzle attachment, lightly dry the roots along the part.

6. Carefully slide the clips out and VOILA! You’ve got a solid and straight side part!

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