Pursuit of Natural

life, levity, & the pursuit of natural


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Banding

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I’d heard good things about banding your hair to stretch it. Here’s why it’s a no go for me.

What’s Good

It really stretched my hair way more than my normal two-strand twists. I was actually astonished at my length. Installing the bands was quick and uncomplicated and I could do larger sections. Of course, not having to use heat is always a plus.

How to Do It

Some people use multiple hair ties along the length of the section. I decided to cut up my favorite t-shirt into strips long enough to do the job. (The t-shirt had been ruined prior to that, of course.)

Starting at the root, grip one end of the band and the section of hair together, then start wrapping the free end of the band all the way down the section. It’s really simple. When I got to the end, I just tied it off onto itself. It took a bit longer to dry but was overall comfortable to wear.

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The Disastrous Takedown

I wanted to stretch my hair using the banding method so that I could flat iron without blow drying and raking a comb attachment through it. I thought!

My hair was matted, so I had to spend an extra two hours combing it anyways. With so many hairs fused together, my patience was running thin and my temper running high. I thought it was because I didn’t have any product in my hair, so I tried again at a later date with my regular products. It was only marginally better but there was still matting.

So banding is a no go for me, but that’s how it is on this natural hair journey. It’s all about the trial and error. Let me know in the comments about your trials and errors. Have you discovered any methods that left you pleasantly surprised at how well they worked?

If you like this post, please take a second to “like” this post. Share, subscribe, and follow me on my other platforms via the sidebar.

 

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Pantyhose is a Hair Accessory

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Yes, pantyhose. Not to be confused with stockings. Oh, you didn’t know there was a difference between pantyhose and stockings? There is. We’re all learning together!

The Puff’s Main Squeeze

I would never have thought to cut up my pantyhose until I went natural. NaturalMe4C and others used theirs to tie their puffs and since I wasn’t using mine, so did I.

It’s actually more comfortable than the large hair ties and headbands I own. It’s adjustable, so I can easily reduce the pressure. I don’t have to force my delicate strands through a small opening, so the tension and breakage is also reduced. I’ve also found it has a better grip and doesn’t roll around as much.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Besides being  practical, it’s thrifty, and y’all know I’m a thrifty natural. I got two ties from one pair that I use anytime I need to gather all this big hair. If you’ve got individual knee-highs you’re good to go. If you’ve got a pair with an attached panty, just cut the legs off. Personally, I like to cut off the toe seams as well.

So, in case you didn’t know pantyhose was a hair accessory, now you know. Let me know in the comments if you’ve found any other new uses for old personal effects. And if you like this post, please take a second to “like” this post. Share, subscribe, and follow me on my other platforms via the sidebar.


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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.

The Bobby Pin Curl

Urban Bush Babes put me on to curling my ends with a bobby pin. This worked great when my hair was shorter. It also doubled as a way to secure my hair as it dried in stretched twists. This will give you a tight curl, so if that’s not what you want, try the next method.

Cocoons and Hanging Bantu Knots

There are a lot of tutorials on how to do this one. The one above is from MyNaturalSistas and here’s another one from NappyFu. You do need some length for this or it will just unravel. I didn’t use this method until a few years after my big chop. It’s more comfortable than bobby pins to my sensitive scalp. It also gives a larger, rounder curl.

Many naturals love the way their ends fall on their own, but if you are more particular about your aesthetic give these methods a try.

Let me know in the comments how you treat your “elders”. And if you liked this post, take a second to “like” this post. Share, subscribe, and follow me on my other platforms via the sidebar.


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Treat Yourself to Mini Twists

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When me and my hair need some time apart, I treat us to a month long hair vaycay with mini twists. At first blush, the idea of installing this style myself seemed anything but relaxing, but I picked up some techniques to make the whole process, from start to take down, go smoothly.

Why Mini Twists?

Mini twists are great for length retention and they save so much time in day-to-day maintenance. I can style them like loose hair, wash in them, and did I mention I can take a break from my regular regimen?

But That Time-Consuming Install, Tho

My first set (above) took 9 hours over 3 days. My second set took 3 hours in one. The difference was in which instructions I followed. Google implied it was best to allot three days so that’s what I did. Originally, I made my twists really tiny and my parts precise. To prep, I stretched my hair in regular twists, which has always taken time to separate into a new style when dry.

It Only Took Three Hours

For my second set (below), I followed the advice of a different YouTuber, ProtectivePrincess. I stretched with rollers, which meant all my sections were ready to go when dry, no extensive separation needed. I didn’t bother with perfectly straight parts, and I darn sure did not make extra small twists. Three hours, ya’ll. I save way more than that in the month I don’t have to detangle my hair every week.

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But That Time-Consuming Takedown, Tho

The main source of angst with the take down is matting. It is bound to happen when you don’t free those shed hairs for a whole month. Keeping your hair clean can reduce the problem but just cancel all your plans when detangling day arrives. And pray for extra patience.

Prepoo With Coconut Oil First

Again, ProtectivePrincess’s after care videos for long term protective styles saved me so much stress. I followed her advice and let my hair marinate in coconut oil (you could probably use a substitute with slip). I left mine in overnight and tackled those matted roots the next day. Most of them came apart with careful detangling. Some needed an extra dousing of melted coconut oil with an applicator bottle and then they, too, loosened up.

Give it a Try

It’s always a good idea to follow up a long-term protective style with deep conditioning, and I usually take the opportunity to snip any split ends or knots. I did a set after some heat damage and a major trim, and by the time I came out of mini twists, I’d recovered a lot of my length. It really is a style that lets me focus on giving my hair extra TLC before and after, and in between I can just get up and go, and enjoy all the hard work I invested in being natural.

Let me know what you think about mini twists, whether you do them yourself or pay a professional. If you liked this post, take a second to “like” this post. Share with your friends, subscribe to The Pursuit, and follow me on my other platforms in 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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Finger Detangling

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Some people do it in the shower. Some people do it with oil. Some people use tools such as combs or brushes. I’m talking about detangling natural hair, and everyone’s got their own technique as well as favorite products for the job.

Many naturals, though, swear by finger detangling. But when I started doing it, I just wanted to swear at someone. How were they all just gliding their hands through all those kinks and curls? And then they had the nerve to say it only took forty-five minutes, tops! I’d give up and grab my comb, but as my hair got longer, I had to face the music.

It took hours to finger detangle. My shoulders hurt. My neck hurt. I couldn’t keep organized, and my hair still felt tangled in places. Needless to say, it took a long time to tailor all the internet advice to my own technique, and I’m still improving upon it years later.

First things first: I must work in sections. It keeps me organized, and it keeps me from being overwhelmed.

Secondly, I discovered it was better to work on my most fragile areas first. I’m much gentler and more patient at the start of a session than when I’ve been at it for an hour and just want to be done. I do my least tangly textures last because they won’t break as easily if I get tired and speed it up a little.

Much, much later I got the mechanical motions down–how I hold my hands to be gentle yet thorough in removing shed hairs, how to flatten and separate strands between my fingertips, and how to incorporate the harp method.

Later still, I found Urban Bush Babes and gave up going over the ends first in favor of starting from the roots. I then traded in raking for criss-cross parting, going horizontally followed by vertically. Once the grid is complete, I move on to the next section.

Finger detangling does not come naturally. It takes practice, a lot of diligence, and quite a bit of mental cursing. But getting mad at my hair was not an option, and I am stubborn when it comes to mastering a new skill.

How about you all? Are you still working on your detangling skills? How long did it take you to get the hang of it? Share in the comments. For even more detangling tips, check out my Dear Newly Natural Me letter, “Let It (Combs) Go”.

If you’re a fan of The Pursuit, subscribe! Like this post, share with your friends, and follow me @edinPON.


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Mini Hair Vaycays

 

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Full-sized wallpaper coming soon!

 

Sometimes I don’t realize just how much hair I have on my head until it’s time to take it down for a break down session. Girl. It is a blessing & a time sink.

So, then I think, “Ah! I’ll just put it all away in an fancy protective style!” and soon remember that, too, is a blessing and a major time sink.

There is a happy middle, which I like to call the mini hair vaycay. I just put away some, not all, of my hair for a few weeks. It’s faster than installing the protective style on my whole head, and with less free hair, it shaves off time from my regular styling and maintenance.

I did this with the sides of my head, AKA my struggle areas. Installing mini twists took no time at all and lasted weeks. My daily sessions went by much quicker, since I didn’t have to slowly, gently, meticulously detangle those fragile sides.

If you want to try a mini hair vaycay, you do have to be strategic about which part of your hair to put away, so that you can have multiple styling options or cover up the protected areas, if needed. For example, the mini-twists on the sides of my head can be shown off with an updo, or I can cover them up with a middle part and a bun or ponytail. I can even still incorporate the mini twists into a larger halo twist. When I do a mini hair vaycay for the back of my head, however, like flat-twisting up towards my crown, I am stuck with high puffs and high buns for the duration.

With all this extra free time on your mini hair vaycay, you can get lulled into laziness. Taking a break from your hair doesn’t mean taking a break from proper care. I never wear any long-term protective style past one month, because dirt will build up–even if I’m diligent–and buildup causes matting, knots, and tangles. As always, you must stay on your moisture game. There’s nothing worse than coming out of a protective style with damage you didn’t have going into it.

 

What’s your favorite way to take a break from your hair? How long do your hair vaycays last? Share in the comments!

If you’re a fan of The Pursuit, subscribe and stay in touch! Follow me here and on Twitter @edinPON. ICYMI, you can find the latest “Dear Newly Natural Me” letter here.