Pursuit of Natural

life, levity, & the pursuit of natural


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The Tilt of my Crown Twist

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Looking back on my old pics, I noticed the tilt of my crown twist changed over time, I thought about why that was.

My first crown twist could just barely secure the hairs from the top of my head, they were so short. Even then, I’d have to use a bunch of bobby pins to keep everything in place. My twist sat far above my ears and halfway up the back of my head. Then one day I could twist around the very perimeter of my head without cutting across the back and sides.

I got to thinking about how my styles evolve with length. Installing mini twists take longer but they look better when worn down. My two strand twists got hangtime, and my twistouts look fuller.

Flat twists used to spring free in revolt, but with length they held fast. My puff used to stand neat and round, and then it grew wild and floppy.

Some styles improve with length, others lose their appeal and I have to find new looks. That’s the beauty of the journey. I’m loving the evolution, the versatility of my natural hair.

Are you enjoying your length? (If not, my Dear Newly Natural Me letters are for you!) Comment below and like this post. If you’re a fan of The Pursuit, subscribe and follow me @edinPON.


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Mystery Blogger Award #2

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I’ve been nominated again! This time by the lovely Akinyi over at Akinyi’s Mane. Thank you!

THE MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD

This is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates, it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.

-Okoto Enigma, creator of the award

The Rules:

  • Put the logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and link their blog.
  • Tell your reader 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

 

Three (more) Things About Me:

  1. I’m the youngest of five siblings
  2. If you’re into zodiac signs, I’d be a sagittaurius
  3. If you’re into Myers-Briggs personality types, I’m an ISFJ

 

Akinyi’s Questions:

  1. What are you scared of ? Why? I’m afraid of heights. It’s a common fear, and as everyone knows, it’s not the height you’re afraid of. It’s the fall from it.
  2. What do you like about yourself? That I still love to learn. Life is more interesting when you are open to discovering new things every day.
  3. Do you have a favorite blogger and who is it? I honestly don’t have a favorite. There are too many people I read across so many platforms, but I admire everyone I follow for their determination and courage to share themselves and pass on their wisdom on the world wide web. It’s why I follow them!
  4. What is the first thing you do every morning when you wake up? I make a habit of taking a moment to think. It’s a valuable time to just allow yourself to breathe and have space.
  5. What is your weakness? As far as what oftentimes sabotages my progress, I’d say when self-evaluation and introspection turns to hyper-critique. That’s when I start chasing perfection and not appreciating who I am and what I have going for me.

 

My Questions:

  1. On what topic or subject are you most opinionated?
  2. Name one thing you are doing now that you couldn’t have imagined five years ago
  3. If you could glimpse one minute from one point in your future, which would you choose: exactly a year from today, or twenty years from now? Why?
  4. How are you feeling today?
  5. What song or kind of music usually puts you in a better mood?

 

The Nominees:

I’ve chosen a few interesting bloggers on here I’d like to know more about.

  1. Introducing Ashley
  2. So Afrochic
  3. Queen of the Nightshade

 


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Protective Style Match-Up

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I can’t really speak to the pros and cons of protective styles with added hair. The last time I had extension braids in, I was the new girl in 3rd grade. So, here I’m addressing protective styles with just my own natural hair. And I’ve done twists (chunky, regular, mini), cornrows, and flat twists.

But which is the baddest of them all? Let’s compare!

Prep

For optimum results pretty much all of these styles require stretched hair. However, if I’m just wearing regular two-strand twists, I can style that on wet hair right after a wash. I just have to keep it stretched while it dries. So, points for the two-strand twists.

Install

Individual twists are more forgiving if my parts aren’t perfect. Not so with rows and flats. The parts are essentially part of the style. Before I started doing my parts on freshly washed hair, I estimate 75% of the time it took to install protective styles was spent just trying to separate those strands and get those parts straight.

Individuals are easier to weave than flats and flats are easier to install than rows. Naturally, the fastest, least fussy protective style to complete are two-strand twists.

Style

Twists are the most versatile because they behave like loose hair. Bun it, put it in a ponytail or even a bigger twist. I love the intricate designs you can create with flats or rows, but you’ll be wearing the same style for the long-term. I sometimes cheat and cornrow so that I can undo the ends without compromising the rest of my braids to add a high or low bun. Obviously, if your hair is really long you can do all sorts of amazing, voluminous buns without loosening the ends.

Maintenance

You can conceivably wash in twists, flats, and rows (I’ve done all of the above), and doing so makes wash day go by in breeze. However, you don’t have full access to your roots, so you have to agitate more vigorously and you still might not get totally clean. And what does all that extra agitation do to these style? We’ll get to how they hold up in the next section.

When it comes to applying products and remoisturizing, twists are easier because they are not all bundled together, meaning most of the hair and roots are reasonably accessible. Flats and rows require you to be much more diligent applying products in a manner that penetrates the nooks and crannies of the braids.

Longevity

Honestly, this one counts for so much for me. The whole reason I protective style in the first place is so I do my hair less often, so I cause less mechanical damage, so I gain more length retention and see healthier hair for all the effort it takes to install these styles.

Ya’ll, regular twists and flat twists are just not easy to maintain long-term. Because individuals aren’t secured down, they shrink easily. Because flats are not as secure as cornrows, the roots puff up and they come undone faster. Washing and wearing them have been a no-go for me. That means retwisting every week or more frequently depending on how neatly you want to keep them.

Mini twists can be redone, but really don’t need to be more than once or twice, and only a few of the twists, at that. Cornrows really aren’t meant to be redone in the interim. They are pretty much a set it and forget it style for me. They hold up the best after a wash. The roots hold fast, and I’ve found the weave pattern frizzes less.

All in all, I can wear my hair (without embarrassment) for a week with two-strand twists or flat twists, 2 weeks for cornrows, and a month for mini twists.

The Takedown

It goes without saying, the longer you leave your hair untouched, the more shed hairs get trapped in there, the more tangles and matting you’ll find, the more breakage, the more tears, et cetera. This is the main reason I don’t do mini twists but for once every other year. That takedown is a beast.

My roots are the most troublesome areas in general, and the less strands they are separated into the more tangled they are. Three strands (braids) are easier to detangle than two (twists). So, while I may only leave my twists in for a week, taking out my cornrows after two weeks hasn’t proved any more arduous for me. It takes me 2 hours either way.

The Winner

It depends on your needs, of course! For hair vaycays, mini twists. Hands down. When I’m busy and need quick styles, twists and flat twists. I can easily undo them if I need some pizzazz with a twistout or just bangs.

But, right now, I’m on a length retention goal and cornrows balance regular upkeep with low manipulation, which is what’s best for my needs.

All of these protective styles are winners for me.

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Moisturizing Protective Styles

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Lately, I’ve been talking about protective styles a lot here at PON. Last week, I covered hand coordination and dropped a link to my favorite braiding tutorial maven on YouTube. Now, what about maintenance? Particularly, staying moisturized.

If water wasn’t your curlfriend before, you’ll be BFFs in no time with protective styles. Mist it, mix it, soak it in. Your regular products won’t distribute well without help. If they aren’t liquid, liquefy them.

Grab an empty spray bottle from your stash and test some ratios. I like to water down my leave-in conditioner and apply oil separately, but you could mix them all into your own special concoction. Test the mixture on your skin to see how it feels and how it dries. If it feels and dries exactly like water would, you’ve diluted the product too much. Adjust the ratios.

As I said, I apply my oil separately. This is to ensure I pay special attention to my ends and the scalp of my parts. Finally, after I’ve thoroughly misted, I baggy and finish my morning routine. If you don’t have time to baggy, sealing with an oil is even more important. I’ve found that just adding water to my hair and letting that dry makes my hair feel even drier. Hard water is most likely the culprit, which is all the more reason to properly apply my products.

How often to moisturize your protective style depends on how your hair feels. At the very least you need to remoisturize mid-week between washes. It’s tempting to avoid the task because it would cause frizz and shrinkage. That may keep your hair looking cute but there ain’t nothing cute about all the breakage you’ll see when you say goodbye to that dry, old style.

To mitigate the unavoidable frizz, I prefer to press and lightly squeeze products in, gently smooth a little, and never rub or agitate my hair too much, especially those roots. I also give myself time to let my hair dry stretched, pinned down, and tied down to combat shrinkage. Also, also? I plan a way to wear my hair towards the end of that style’s run, so that my frizz and shrinkage are concealed (wide headbands, beanies and bangs for the win!)

How do you maintain your protective styles? Comment below. If you’re a fan of The Pursuit, like this post, subscribe, and follow me @edinPON!


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Hand Coordination

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The hardest part of doing protective styles that are secured along the scalp is mastering hand coordination. There is a learning curve. The more complex the weave, the steeper the curve.

When you’re just starting, it seems like you’ve lost all motor control. Your fingers and brain are in disagreement. You’ll miss a stitch, forget what maneuver comes next, and have to undo the whole thing, otherwise go around with janky-looking braids.

Ultimately, practice makes perfect. But here, I’ve collected a few tips that have helped me build muscle memory and get those braids done quicker. And I’m still learning!

The Clasped Hands Test

Here’s what you do: Clasp your hands behind your head, leaving your palms apart and flat against the back of your head. Now, without unclasping them, shift your hands around to the left side of your head, the front, the right, and back. You’ll notice that at each point, your elbows are facing opposite directions, and at either side one arm is reaching over your head. This is how your arms and hands should be positioned when you’re working on your entire head. If your elbows are together or facing the same direction, you’ll run into the original problem once your row reaches towards the back of your head. Use this test to get into proper hand & arm positions. The sooner you get in the habit, the more consistent and natural it will feel.

BONUS: Watch YouTube Tutorials

I can’t recommend Breanna Rutter enough. She is out here teaching the children how to do all the braids. She’ll get you together.

 

Keep Your Fingers Close to the Scalp

Whenever you pick up hair or exchange hands, always try to keep your grip at the roots, close to the scalp. It’s harder than it sounds. It took me a long time to get it, and my situation was always puffing up or unravelling no matter how tautly I pulled each stitch.

This one just took time (and practice) for my brain to believe all those tutorials where the women were just stitching away using only their fingertips. I didn’t need 2 inches of slack to execute the complicated hand maneuvers, nor did I need to use my whole hand to hold on for dear life, lest everything slip free and I lose my place. It’s in the grip, not the tension, so when done correctly, you shouldn’t get hand cramps or an aching scalp.

BONUS: Relax

If your styling sessions take as long as mine, the tension and strain will creep in. Every so often, straighten your back and drop your shoulders. Shake out any tightness in your fingers. Take breaks when you need to!

 

If You Can’t Let Go, You’re Doing it the Hard Way

When braiding or twisting along the scalp, you should be exchanging hands, not permanently holding hair in both. Whenever you execute a stitch, it should always leave one hand free.

This was so critical for me to master. Aside from providing the opportunity to detangle any clingy strands, having a free hand distinguishes which hand should be doing what job next. Again, I used to be inclined to hold on for dear life, but the more videos I watched and practiced, the better I understood.

BONUS: Tips for Those Parts

Hand coordination is hard, but making straight parts is time-consuming. For that I have three tips:

  1. Do a rough part with your hands first, just to get most of the hair out of the way. Then go in with your comb.
  2. Getting straight parts in the back of your head is a challenge when you don’t have hands-free mirrors to see. Instead of parting and checking multiple times, look in the mirror and use the thumb and middle finger of your non-dominant hand to mark the start and end of where you want the part. Then, like connect the dots, draw your comb from one finger to the other. Parting blindly this way will take fewer tries to get it right.
  3. 4c/4b hair, or just clingy when dry and pliable when wet? Make your parts ahead of time after a wash. I recently started doing this, and comparatively, I breeze through those parts when my hair is wet. I create my parts, let those sections dry in some stretched twists, and the next day I install my long-term protective style.

 

I hope you found some of these tips helpful. If so, like this post! How often do you protective style? Are you into protective styles currently or nah? Leave a comment below. And if you’re a fan of The Pursuit, subscribe and follow me @edinPON.