Pursuit of Natural

life, levity, & the pursuit of natural


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Don’t Let Your Ends Ruin Your Look

The whole point of twist-outs and braid-outs (and bantu knot-outs) is to set your hair into some type of defined curl pattern, but then there are those annoying times when your ends just do not want to act right. What can you do?

Your Ends Demand Respect

They don’t call them your elders for nothing. They require an extra spritz of moisture, another dab of oil, and often that they be detangled first. Your ends are always trying to tell you something, and if they don’t act right no matter what style you’re attempting, it may be time for a trim. When it comes to giving my ends special attention with a twistout, I have 2 go to methods.

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Coconut Oil

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Errbody and they mama were singing the praises of coconut oil. Meanwhile, I’m checking the price tag (you know Organic ain’t cheap.) Five bucks wasn’t much, but would it last through all the prepooing, oil sealing, and DIY deep conditioning? I decided to give it a go to see if it proved more protective for my ends and the integrity of my strands.

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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 on my other platforms via the sidebar.


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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.

 

 

 

 


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Dryness or Texture?

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Going natural, there’s a lot to learn about our hair. What type of texture do I have, porosity, density, and so on? With so much unfamiliarity it’s easy to misunderstand how our hair is supposed to look and feel. How it’s supposed to work.

After years of being used to straight and silky smoothness, any amount of texture can feel rough or dry. But it’s not always the case. For example, sometimes it feels like my ends are unusually rough and knot-ridden when they are only tightly coiled around each other, and when I unravel and inspect them I sometimes find there aren’t any knots at all. It’s maddening.

And how can I tell when my hair is actually dry? Well, I let it dry out once, sans product, to see what that looked and felt like. I believe I first got the idea from a CurlyNikki post, but I decided to do it on purpose so I could really learn the difference.

I didn’t expect there to be much of one, but was I ever wrong. When my hair is actually dry as in parched, it feels bare or chalky. It is not soft and pliable but nightmarishly clingy and stiff. On a day-to-day  basis, my edges are the easiest areas to tell the difference. They are very resistant to manipulation when dry and are a good indicator on when I need to remoisturize my situation.

So, before you misperceive there’s something wrong with your fro, get to know what it’s like when it’s really dry and rough. You might be surprised to find your everyday hair is far, far from a “brillo pad” thanks to your regimen.

How does your texture behave when it’s really dry? Is your everyday hair happily moisturized or do you still struggle with moisture balance? Share below in the comments. And if you’re a fan of The Pursuit, like this post, share with your friends, and follow me here and @edinPON.