Saturday, 23 February 2013

Taking out extensions...

So I figured that while we are taking about extensions this month I may as well walk you through my take out process.  I use take out, take down, undo, remove extensions interchangeably, different words same meaning, well in this post/blog at least they mean the same thing. First I spray my roots and braids but only up to the length of my real hair with my homemade braid spray then start undoing the braids from the ends going towards the roots. I normally use my fingers to undo my hair but if the braided ends are very thin or have a knot tied then I will snip that off and start undoing the hair with the tail end of a tail comb, switching to my fingers at some point and taking the braid out all the way to the root. Once the extension is out I finger detangle the root which is where hair gets matted the most, I do this to each root individually adding braid spray if needed as I undo each braid or cornrow to minimise breakage when I finally comb out the entire head. I work in small sections braiding each finished section into one big braid, makes my work much easier by the time I am done I usually have about 4-6 big braids on my head. 

Once done I undo the big braids and finger detangle again looking out for any knots that may have been previously missed  then spray the hair with some more braid spray before finally detangling lightly with a wide toothed comb. Depending on what time I am done I will either do my shampoo wash routine then or if it’s too late in the night I do it the next day. The time it takes to undo my braided dos depends on the hairstyle and size of braids. Cornrowed styles take me anything between an hour to two hours, single plaits/twists can take anything from three hours to two days unless I have someone helping me. If I know my take out process will take a while then I  start with the middle or back sections that way I can still cover it up if I have to go somewhere urgently in the middle of the undoing process. I always try to plan my braid taking out days in advance so I don’t have to do emergency take downs last minute for lack of time.

Before I forget I haven’t worn weaves in a while but the take out process for me is just as simple. After snipping my hair off with thread several times I stopped cutting the thread out myself I leave it for someone else to do. If there is no one around to do it for me then I take my head down to the salon and get it taken out there under a very watchful eye, braid spray in hand. Anyway if I am doing it at home once the thread has been cut off we spray the cornrows with braid spray and then just undo like you would normal cornrows while finger detangling at the same time. Once the entire head is done I finger detangle and spray once more and then lightly comb with a wide toothed comb followed by my shampoo wash routine. This process is for sew in weaves, bonded weaves (weaves put in with hair bonding glue) for anyone who still wears them is another process. I had a really bad take out experience a few years back with a bonded weave and lost quite a bit of hair and length, that was my first and last time wearing bonded in weaves. Hope this was helpful!

Tip: you can also oil your scalp and roots instead of using a braid spray the oil makes it slippery and easier to undo the braids/cornrows. I just don’t like the stickiness of oil on my hands that’s why I use a braid spray. My braid spray is mixed with natural oils and I use castor oil on my scalp twice a week at the moment so that makes my roots/new growth softer and easier to detangle by the time I am ready to take out the extensions.

Note: I use enough braid spray to make my hair slippery and slightly damp NOT wet. I usually add extra natural oils to my braid spray on takedown days.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Washing hair extensions...

Someone I know who shall remain nameless wanted to know how I wash my hair when in braids or weaves since she keeps hers  unwashed the entire time they are in, only using a braid spray every now and then. So here goes…

I do a hot oil treatment first. Basically heat up my oil in a water bath; boil water pour it in a bowl then pour the chosen natural oil or oil blend in a smaller bowl place it inside the bigger bowl making sure the hot water doesn’t cover it, once it’s warm enough to touch I take it out and massage the oil into my scalp, for braids I try to get it onto the entire length of my actual hair as well, leave that on under a shower cap for anything between 15-30 minutes before jumping into the shower. I stand in the shower and let the water run through my head first to get it wet. I then take some shampoo and massage it into my scalp sort of how you would grease or oil your scalp while gently rubbing; I apply some more shampoo to the entire length of the extensions and then rinse out, if I need another lathering I just repeat the shampooing process. I don’t manipulate my scalp or extensions when rinsing out I just let the water do its job. Once fully rinsed I wring out the excess water from the extensions and towel dry tying the towel into a turban until there is no more water dripping, spray with my homemade braid spray, air dry and style. 

For weaves and tree braids I  incorporate the use of a wide toothed comb after rinsing to help detangle wavy or straight extensions, for curly extensions I use my fingers to detangle very gently so as not to mess up the curl or wave pattern. I mostly use synthetic extensions they don’t tangle as much and also find that clear shampoo is much easier to work with than creamy shampoos when wearing extensions. There you go very simple and easy process so no excuses for not washing hair when wearing extensions. 

Tip: shampoo can also be diluted with water in a spray bottle to make it easier to apply. A ratio of more shampoo than water of course the idea is to get it dilute enough to get out of the spray bottle and still get your hair clean.

Edited to add: I try to dry my braids, twists and cornrows with a blow dryer  or a hooded dryer especially in the colder months since they take long to dry and going out in the cold weather with damp hair can result in a cold or something. For weaves I usually  go under the hooded dryer no matter the weather to ensure that the tracks and my scalp are completely dry.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

What’s in a name? Part Two: Twists

For part one see this post. I think it would be safe to assume that these are commonly known as twists worldwide whether done on real hair, with extensions added, or number of strands involved in the twisting. I don’t get the whole “two strand” twist business, no one I know does them any other way so for me they are simply twists, I guess if I ever had three strands or even one strand twists I would still call them twists as opposed to “three strand twists” or “one strand twists”. The other name variations I know of refer to the type of extension hair used to twist or the size of the twist. When extension hair branded afro kinky hair, kinky hair and marley hair are used then the name changes to kinky twists or afro kinky twists these names are more common in the UK and sub Saharan African countries the brand marley hair is more common in the US and Caribbean regions. 
Kinky twists curled in hot water

 In some parts of East and Southern Africa micro twists which are done real tiny as the name suggests are referred to as Maasai twists after the Maasai community. The Maasai morans (a moran is a warrior) of Kenya and Tanzania are master twisters if there was ever such a word and the interesting thing is that in this community it is the men who do the twisting on their fellow men’s hair it’s considered a man’s job! They twist their hair and dye them red with ochre, they actually end up looking like micro dreadlocks on dyeing. While we are on the subject can anyone in the know please tell me how the name Senegalese twists which is more common in the US came about because I am not aware of braiding hair called Senegalese hair and the style did not originate from neither is it specific to Senegal (because other African countries do them as well) as has been suggested by some people maybe a Senegalese braider made them famous in the Diaspora. Oh well what’s in a name…

 I decided to add the following categories to this post since they involve some form of twisting:

Threading/African Threading
Now if you are an African child you probably got your hair threaded at some point growing up. For me this was the most hated hairstyle simply because it was PAINFUL! I remember one time I had my hair threaded so tight I couldn’t sleep due to the pain and headache that came with it, it had to be taken out in the middle of the night. Threading can be done close wrapped (the thread is wrapped around the hair with no spaces in between)  or spaced (thread is wrapped around the hair with spaces in between), close wrapped is more common as a long term protective style done with elaborate designs. Back in the day they did really elaborate threaded hairstyles, spaced wrapping is done more to stretch the hair. In Kenya it is commonly known as “Uzi” which basically means “thread” in Swahili and refers both to yarn/wool and sewing thread both of which are used for this hairstyle. There is no name variation that I know of for “yarn braids” or “threading” it’s simply called Uzi. In Zimbabwe it is known as mabhanzi.

Hair threaded using Yarn. This is what close wrapped looks like; no spaces in between the yarn. Also referred to as yarn locks or yarn braids excuse the photo quality this was taken with a camera phone
I am sure by now braiders have learnt to relax their hand with threading so it’s less painful. It’s a shame the elaborate threading hairstyles are not as common anymore just image Google "african threading hair styles" to see what I am talking about especially the black and white images. I wonder how some of those women slept mine were always threaded then flat twisted in two or three rows from what I can remember. Nowadays people tend to do them in medium to small size singles and then get them styled in an updo or bun or just let them loose. I once saw a woman at the salon as a little girl who got her hair threaded with Raffia hair I remember the name because I found it funny and it stuck in my head ever since. I doubt if it’s even sold commercially I think it’s made from palms leaves and dyed or something to that effect. Yarn just like normal braiding hair can be used to create twists, temporary locks and braids as well.
Made famous worldwide by Rastafarians but have been worn for generations before by different ethnic groups. The Mau Mau freedom fighters of Kenya for example who fought for independence from the British colonialists in the 1950s were known for their dreadlocked hair. Apparently theirs came about from hiding in the forest for long periods of time which resulted in their uncombed hair growing into long matted locks. Some of the fighters still living today are well over 80 years of age and have maintained their dreadlocks to this day. I had a grandma (one of my many extended family grandmas) called Grandma Loyce may her soul rest in perfect peace who had beautiful waist length dreadlocks. It’s a shame I never got to find out how she came to locking her hair before she died I only ever saw her a few times and none of my family members that I asked seemed to know everyone has a different story about her locks. Dreadlock variations include temporary locks as seen in the second photo below and sisterlocks amongst others.

My cousin Jackie's dreadlocks, she has had them close to five years now and this is her current length

Kinky locks; the kinky extension hair is close wrapped around the hair the same way you would do threading. Some people do single braids first then wrap around it but that is way too long in my opinion. Taken with a camera phone excuse the photo quality.

What do you call any of these hairstyles or their variations where you are from or live?

Thanks once again to Tendayi for the Zimbabwean name and the lovely ladies who gave me permission to use their photos for this post, Jackie, Emma, Judy and random girl at church.

UK: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

US: The United States of America