Pursuit of Natural

life, levity, & the pursuit of natural


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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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That Time I Invented a Hot Comb to Avoid the Hot Comb

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True story–don’t try this at home.

As a child, I hated the hot comb. It felt like punishment when I didn’t even do anything wrong. Also, I hated all forms of grooming and hygiene–a waste of time, I thought, with which I could be playing and getting dirty again.

Anyways! One fine afternoon my mom informed me she would be pressing my hair with the hot comb. You would think I’d been told to take a bath. Oh, the sulking. Oh, the whining noises! When that had no effect on her resolve, I had to take matters into my own hands.

I came up with the brilliant idea to do it myself! It would be super-quick and painless because I’d be using a wide tooth metal pick instead of that horrible instrument of torture built like a cast iron skillet. And I wouldn’t go so close to my skin or burn my ears. Of course my hair wouldn’t be the least bit detangled but that’s my grown self interjecting into this story.

Now, I just needed a safe heat source, and by safe,  I meant covert, because if I got caught fooling around with the open flames of our stove, the tongue-lashing I’d get from my mother would straighten my hairs all on its own.

So the space heater it was. Yes. I stuck a metal hair pick through the grill of an electric space heater to avoid the hot comb. Apparently, electrocution was a less scary prospect.

Anyways! I did that a couple of times (who knows if I even finished my whole head?) and skipped off to tell my mom not to worry about firing up the old gas stove because I had successfully “straightened” my own hair. With a wide tooth pick. And a space heater.

I’m not sure what in my few years of existence led me to believe my mom would be anything but horrified at that. She was, suffice to say, unimpressed by my ingenuity. And I still had to get my hair pressed.

The End.

 

What sort of hair shenanigans were you up to as a child? Share below and like this post. If you’re a fan of The Pursuit, subscribe! Share with your friends 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.


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Cover Your Hair At Night

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If you get a full night’s sleep (that’s a big If, I know), that’s nearly 3000 hours a year your hair is subjected to friction and stress. It will take its toll and undo all the hard work you put into caring for your hair.

I should know. I never saw any need to wrap my hair with anything. It seemed so extra. Until one night I went to bed on a clean pillow, and the next morning I woke to a horror scene. Broken hairs everywhere. Not just one or two, but all over my pillow case.

That sent me straight to DEFCON 1. I promptly cut up an old shirt and sewed it into a bandana, as if my survival depended on it. By the time I went natural, I was not playing around. Got that mid-sleep sixth sense to tug my wrap back on when it slips off, because these hairs are staying on my head.

The PSA here is sweet dreams are made of bandanas, satin scarfs, bonnets, durags–or whatever you use. They are essential. Cover your hair at night.

 

How do you protect your hair at night? What’s your night time routine? Share below in the comments. And if you’re a fan of The Pursuit, subscribe! Like this post, share with your friends, and follow me @edinPON.