How To Get My Back to School Hairstyle

Hello Lovely,

Going back to school is a HUGE event! The uniforms, the snacks, the traffic! AHHHHHHHHH! It's a nightmare. This year I changed schools so I had a lot of anxiety to deal with. Of course, I wanted to make a great first impression, so I needed the right back to school look. It took FOREVER to plan the right outfit, but with a lot of strategic pre-planning, I survived my first week on my new job! YAY!

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One of the ways I pre-planned was with a new protective style. I fell in love with this style when I saw it on Tamera Mowry on Pinterest, and thought it would be beautiful but simple! When I told my stylist she was super excited and immediately onboard. The sides are straightforward: two braids that join at the end. We weren't completely sure about the front middle section so I allowed my stylist to freestyle and she did not disappoint! I only expected this to last the first week of school, but it's still holding up pretty well thanks to my awesome stylist!

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This hairstyle is inspired by a hairstyle Tamera Mowry rocked. I scoured the internet looking for other angles of this hairstyle but found none so my hairstylist had to improvise just a little. She always gets my vision and I love her for that! After a wash and deep treatment, we stretched my hair, then started styling. Check out the video below to see the full details on my back to school hairstyle. It's super easy to do and would be perfect for semi-formal functions. After all, what's classier than a high ponytail?

I Made My First Wig!

Hello Lovely,

I HAVE NEVER BEEN THE PERSON TO WEAR WIGS! I always grew up with the belief that if you want it, earn it. That applied to my finances and my hair. It was only when I began working after college that I began to experiment with extensions. I first got into it when I bought coloured extensions, and hot glued the tracks to the comb clips so that I can slip them in and out. I'm very non-commital with hairstyles, hence why I don't have locs. When my hair was permed, I liked using the coloured extensions and soon matching extensions that I used to add length and thickness to my hair. I went from have 14" hair to about 18".

Since then I've worn extensions with braids but stayed away from sew-ins, glued in tracks, and whole wigs in general because I found they were too tight. One of my best friends has a wig collection and it's always fun seeing her instagram posts wearing the various wigs, so one day a light bulb went off in my head and I wondered how hard it would be to make one of my own. Although I knew wigs could be costly depending on the type of hair, to be honest I don't know Jack Squat about weave. But that didn't stop me from having a ball wig shopping with one of my bestie's! I've made two wigs so far and I've had so much fun making them. I definitely have room for improvement so I'm going to try again with my last wig. I'm making these wigs to wear whenever I'm having a bad hair day or if I don't feel like fixing my hair. So on my mission to that I decided to experiment with my hair and I really like the results so far!

Don't forget to follow me on Youtube as I will slowly start putting out videos on that platform. I'm thinking about making a video every two weeks. What do you guys think? Do you like following my adventures? Share your reactions to my first two wigs in the comment section below! I love hearing from you.

This is The Best Way to Increase Hair Growth

Hello Lovely,

Everyone is looking for the secret to hair growth. If you're like me, you've probably tried and tested over a dozen myths for stimulating hair growth. Whether it's brushing your hair 100 times a day or standing on your head to increase blood flow to the scalp, I'm sure we've all done something silly thinking it'll make our hair grow faster. But has anyone ever thought of simply eating well and exercising? While most people work out in order to lose weight, get fit, or relieve stress, many fail to consider how exercising can affect your hair health. There's still a lot of untruth out there but there are a few undisputed facts.

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Stress Reduction

An element that most adults can benefit from, stress reduction is important for every healthy, well-adjusted adult. A fairly well-known fact, exercising regularly has the ability to improve one’s mood as well as keep mental disorders such as seasonal depression at bay. Moreover, given that an abundance of stress is said to cause hair shedding, by reducing your stress levels, you will also be inadvertently reinforcing your natural hair health. Stress is stressful for your hair. When you are stressed, your body produces stress hormones (cortisone). Stress hormones affect your whole body, and may also cause hair loss. 

How important is exercise for healthy hair?

Exercise is one of the Important Key for good health and good hair. When we exercise we sweat. Through sweat, toxins and waste substances are flushed out from the skin pores, giving us a fresh and radiant skin. Likewise, when we sweat from our scalp, it helps to unclog the hair follicles, giving enough space for the new hair to grow. Exercising also increases blood flow to our muscles, skin and scalp. The increased blood flow brings with it more nutrients and more oxygen. This provides nourishment to the hair roots, and thereby promoting healthy hair growth. Some of the effects of exercising are comparable to effects of oil massage. Both exercise and oil massage can increase blood circulation, open clogged pores and has relaxing effect over all. 

The effects of exercise are not just limited to hair, but your whole being will feel happy and healthy. Plus not exercising and eating healthy is like applying oil on the scalp and leaving it on without massaging. Its doesn’t help much. So even if we may we eat healthy, by not exercising we deprive our muscles, skin and scalp of effective nutrients exchange. The result is lifeless skin and hair.

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People generally think exercising is very time consuming

There are lot of myths associated with exercise. Firstly you don’t have to go to gym and exercise for hours. You can exercise at your very home or nearby park or ground. You can start with 5 minutes of brisk walk and then gradually build up on that. Secondly shun the stereotypes and find an activity that you enjoy like dance, martial art such as Taekwondo, Tai Chi, or any sport or physical activity. It’s all about reprogramming your thoughts and having fun with it.

Hair growth is affected by many different factors but in the end, there is still one universal truth: Exercise is beneficial for all-around growth. So get active and watch the changes!

3 Tips for Protecting Your Hair at Night

3 Tips for Protecting Your Hair at Night

Caring for your hair as you sleep is just as important as caring for it when you’re awake, and even more-so because what you do before bed can be the difference between your curls being on point and being a big matted mess in the morning. Whether you’re rocking a TWA or waist-length Locs, it is important to protect your hair as you sleep in order to retain moisture and preserve your style. 
 

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My Natural Hair Journey: 2 Months After My Haircut Nearly Ruined My Life

Hello Lovely,

This month makes two years since I big chopped making me officially a naturalista! I was hoping my hair would have been longer by now, but after bleaching it twice, really not understanding much about natural hair (I seriously just found out what TWA stands for about a month ago) and after undergoing to worst, most unexpected haircut back in April, I basically spent two years just to have about 4 inches of hair.

I would like to think that I was strong enough to rock my hair regardless but I was really embarrassed. I about about to meet my future mother-in-law in St. Croix who has really long hair and I didn't want her to think ill of me. Yeah, I was that self-conscious. Also I was going to be on vacation in a foreign country with lots of visits to the beach and I did not want to have to fix my hair so I went with box braids.

It looked great but I really was ashamed the entire time. I ended up leaving the braids in for 6-7 weeks and experienced a lot of breakage when I finally took it out. Which added more feelings of shame so I had my mum flat row the front for me.

Since the haircut, this was honestly the first time I looked at my hair and actually liked it. The style looked great, everyone liked it and it also hid the length because everyone thought it was just shrinkage. But of course, it didn't take long for my hair to dry out and I was back to feeling like nothing would ever work for my hair.

After doing some research, I learned that I had low porosity hair. And being the hypochondriac that I am, I am grateful for every diagnosis I can get because it helps me to come up with a practical solution, rather than sitting in defeat. That's when I came across this amazing Honey & Aloe Hair Treatment that I shared last Friday on the blog. 

Yesterday was my second time trying it. I didn't feel like going outside to cut the aloe plant so I used my aloe vera juice and honey, which I'm sure works the same way. I combine about 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice (because my hair is still shoulder length it doesn't require much) with 1 tablespoon of honey and stir until the honey is completely dissolved. You'll want to pour it over dry hair and really make sure it's fully absorbed into the hair. Then I put on a plastic shower cap and left it on for an hour because I don't apply heat to my hair.

After that I rinsed it out with hot water, then did a final rinse in cold water. From here I allowed my hair to dry 80%, before starting my LCO. For the L, I used coconut milk. In the past my hair has responded really well to coconut milk. My supply is diluted with water and a little bit of aloe vera juice. Then I have to wait for my hair to dry 80% again.

After this, I'll section my hair into relatively small sections and apply my C, Aunt Jackies Seal it Up, Hydrating Sealing Butter and then apply my O, Olive Oil before detangling and styling. I used to use olive oil when I lived in Tampa, so going back to it felt like the right thing to do and I really can't remember why I ever stopped. The first time I did this LCO after the aloe and honey treatment, I was genuinely surprised by how much shine and bounce my hair had. It also lasted about four days before it started to feel dry again, so I think my new regimen will be to do this entire process every 4-5 days, shampooing twice per month.

I'll definitely keep you guys up to date with how this goes for me. I think I've noticed about two inches of growth since the haircut, which I think we can all agree is better than nothing! I can't tell you how many selfies I took yesterday because I was just so happy with my hair! For growth? Who knows. It may have been the tea tree oil, it may have been the lavender essential oil. Maybe even a combination of both. Either way, I'm satisfied!

What has your natural journey been like? Share any tips you may have for others who may be suffering or struggling with low porosity hair!

5 Tips for a Smooth Transition to Luscious, Natural Hair

Today we're wrapping up our 3 day mini series on natural hair as provided by Curls Understood. I hope you learned a little something about showing your tresses some much needed TLC and understanding. If you're new to the natural process, this is the perfect tip for you on how best, to navigate your journey.

WHERE TO BEGIN…

Congratulations! You made the right decision to pursue this journey to hair freedom. But where do you start? Natural hair – defined here as free from chemical straightening – is the most versatile hair on the planet. You can style it a myriad of ways whilst helping it stay in its healthiest, truest form. Now this won’t be easy. Especially if you’ve never even seen your hair’s true texture but the rewards far out way the trials and we’re here to help!

Below are five things we think you should determine ASAP to help your natural hair journey be a little smoother (also check out our Glossary):

1 Understand your hair’s attributes and what that means for you

Your first mission, should you choose to accept it, will be determining your hair’s attributes (TextureVolumeLength, Porosity, Width). Just looking at your hair won’t cut it. To really know what you’re working with you’ll need to experiment with your hair for at least 3 months.

That means styling your hair wet then another time dry to see what it prefers. Experimenting with different products (give each one at least 3 months). Establishing a hair care regimen etc. Also examine your hair when it’s wet and free from product. That’ll give you better insight into what your true texture(s) is.

Those early in their natural hair journey may find it especially useful to seek guidance from naturals with hair attributes similar to theirs. It can save a lot of time, and dollar, dollar bills, avoiding hair products and hairstyles that just weren't made for their tresses. For each of the Textures listed on this site, we suggest 5 naturals to follow on YouTube. What better way to learn then from other’s mistakes and successes?

 

2 Establish a regular hair care regimen that works for your lifestyle

There is no one regimen that works for everyone. Let’s just put it out there. But in the beginning it’s helpful to get some guidance on where to start.

We suggest buying a shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner from the same product line. They’re made to work together so while you’re still in the discovery phase, take advantage of a cohesive system. You can branch out later. Next find a deep conditioner, water-based moisturiser and a natural oil (to seal that moisture in).

Start by washing your hair at least once a week. The conditioner detangles and restores moisture after your shampoo has stripped your hair clean. Use your leave-in conditioner whenever you feel your hair needs moisture or even to style. Leave-in conditioners are usually water-based so it could double up as your water-based moisturiser.

Deep condition at least every other week in the Summer and every week in the Winter – again you can adjust this routine once you learn what your hair needs. Natural oils seal in moisture. So you can either spritz your hair with water or said water-based moisturiser as needed then lightly coat your hair with an oil to lock that moisture/water in. Butters and gels are optional styling products but note the more you use them the more often you’ll probably have to wash your hair.

With time you’ll adjust this basic routine to suit your schedule and hair care needs. Some women wash every 3 weeks. Others deep condition once a month. It really is an individual preference! The key is to pay attention and observe what your hair likes. Does it feel rough, dry, fragile? Is it limp or breaking? If so, it’s time to read up on what the issue is a change your routine accordingly. :)

 

3 Find protective styles that you actually like

Think of a protective style as a vacation for your hair. When in protective style mode your hair is free from the everyday manipulation you subject your hair to. While some manipulation is necessary (washing and detangling) other types of manipulation just wear your hair down over time.

We at Curls Understood™ understand that you want to look your best. Just learn the tricks to keep styling manipulation to a minimum. Enter protective styles – defined as a hairstyle that protects the ends of your hair from breaking by limiting its exposure to harsh elements like the weather. The ends of your hair are the oldest and most susceptible to damage. Protecting your ends = retained length.

Some better known protective styles are two-strand twists, braid extensions or cornrows. But up-dos, wigs and weaves also work. Those with thinner/finer hair may prefer the up-dos vs. the two strand twists. Those with shorter hair may want to try wigs.

Protective styles are most effective when worn for many days, or even weeks, at a time. Visit our Hairstyles section for ideas.

 

4 Exercise, water and vitamins – three words to live by

Your overall health contributes to the health of your hair… naturally! So making sure your body is getting the right nutrients and exercise is key to growing healthy hair.

Exercise helps to promote blood circulation to the scalp and hair follicles. With regular exercise, at least 3 times a week, hair follicles are nourished by oxygen-rich blood flow. This ultimately increases hair growth. Yay to that!

Water is the ultimate moisturiser. It gives your hair its elasticity thus preventing it from snapping/breaking. Aim to drink 8-10 cups of water a day. It’ll keep your hair and scalp hydrated.

As much as we like to think we eat and drink the right things our diets are not always going to contain the perfect balance of nutrients. Vitamins fill in the gaps. There are a multitude of vitamins to choose from, each with their own unique benefits. For now pick a multi-vitamin like Hairfinity. As you become more well-versed in your hair you can pick a combination that addresses your specific needs.

Your hair is a direct reflection of what you do and put in your body. Take care of yourself and your hair will thrive.

 

5 Invest in quality tools

An artist is only as good as her tools. Invest in quality and you’ll be reaping the benefits. We suggest spending a little more on the following tools:

• Shears/Scissors – cut your hair with cheap or blunt scissors and it’ll leave jagged ends which ultimately lead to split ends. Remember that your hair’s ends are older and more fragile. Quality scissors leave ends clean and sharp.
• Wide tooth comb – better quality combs are made of better quality materials and last longer. While some people also use brushes when detangling, the wide tooth comb is a staple and worth investing in.
• Bobby pins – if you buy cheap dollar store bobby pins, you’ll pay for it in the long run. Cheaper pins tend to peel leaving sharp surfaces that snag your hair. Quality pins stay smooth and last longer which means their kinder to your hair.
• Silk scarf – a night wrap or scarf is every black girl’s best friend. While investing in real silk may sound like a luxury, over time real silk will stand the test of multiple washes and thus remain smooth and, well, silky.

And remember if you must use heat to  straighten or style invest in a ceramic flat iron. It’s a little kinder to your curls.

 

I hope you found this mini series to be helpful whether you're new on your journey or seasoned. Share this information with someone you think needs to know this and always take good care of your hair! Feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

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XoX,

Olivia

Turn Up The Volume!

VOLUME

In my second instalment of Hair Education Week, we're talking Volume! And in this instance, more is definitely more! Volume refers to combination of your hair density and the diameter of your individual strands. How many hair strands you have per square inch (2cm) of your scalp determines your density. We wouldn't recommend counting but suffice to say density relates to your hair’s volume. The width of your individual strands, porosity and hair texture also play a part in your hair’s volume.

We decided to organize content on the site by Volume meaning you can find content related to your hair’s overall appearance in “Fine,” “Regular” and “Thick”.

• In the Fine section you’ll find content pertaining to naturals with a combination of low density and/or thin individual hair strands.
• In the Regular section you’ll find content pertaining to naturals with a combination of medium density and/or average diameter hair strands.
• In the Thick section (this is where I fall under) you’ll find content pertaining to naturals with a combination of high density and/or coarse individual strands.

Hope we haven’t confused ya! If not let’s get to it. How do you determine your hair’s density? Read on…

FINE

There’s two ways to check whether your hair has low density and therefore is on the finer side. If you’re a straight natural and your hair is long enough to get into a ponytail, measure the circumference. If it’s 2″ or less then you have Fine hair. For curly naturals, take a look at your parts the next time you do two strand twists. Can you see your scalp easily? If so, you have less hair follicles per square inch hence the ability to see your scalp easily. Finer haired naturals should go easy on the amount of product they use when styling. You don’t want to weigh your hair down. To create the illusion of more volume, pinned up hairstyles are your best friend!

REGULAR

When examining your scalp to determine your hair density it’s always best to do it when your hair is dry. Wet hair can look thinner / limper than it really is. Don’t play yourself! The average person has 2,200 hairs per square inch – this is where you guys fall. When your hair is in two strand twists you’ll probably only see your scalp here and there. As like before, straight naturals can throw up a ponytail and measure its circumference. Two to four inches is considered Regular / average in terms of density. You aren't too limited with the products you can use or the hairstyles you can achieve – you lucky dog!

THICK

Now my Thick sistas have a lot going on up top. When you do two strand twists the parts are tight and narrow. Hardly any scalp is visible. You have way more than 2,200 hair follicles per square inch. We’re talking 140,000 hair strands total on your entire head (100,000 is the average / 80,000 is less than average). Now you know why it takes so long to do those darn twist outs! If your hair is straight then your ponytail’s circumference is 4″ or more. You may need to use heavier products to hold all those curls in place. You can cut your hair into layers to reduce some of the volume.

What's Your Texture and Why You Should Care

I have declared this week Natural Hair Education Week!

OK, so let’s get something straight (pun intended!). We know that many of you (like me) are adverse to hair typing. That infamous four point scale had our sexy curls come in last place and who doesn't want to be a winner? Hair typing gets especially tricky when you factor in the many states and styles our hair can achieve. When it’s wet it curls, when it’s humid it frizzes and when it grows it hangs. Yep, you read that right. Hang tough.

Below I have provided a guide for how Curls Understood™ groups hair textures. Their intention is to make it easier for you to find education and products best suited for you. So please don’t send me or them hate mail if you don’t see exactly your hair texture listed. 

COILY

Coilys stand up! Now sit back down because your hair texture was probably the hardest to categorize! You have attributes that mimic your Kinky sistas and behavior that borrows from the Curly crew. Your texture has visible coils and curls from a short distance, but a fierce Angela Davis ‘fro is achievable. Think corkscrews and kinks… sounds like a naughty toy, but you get the picture. Your coils are approximately ¼” to ½” in diameter and you hair strands tend to be fine. Your hair is awesome at absorbing moisture, hence the ability to pretty easily retain length assuming you’re ever so nice to your Coils.

CURLY

Do girls with curls have more fun? You tell us. Your springy, S shaped ringlets bounce around like they sure do! Your curls are roughly ½” – 1″ wide and easily revert back to their original shape after being stretched. Your hair absorbs water easily and therefore takes some time to dry. So in the winter months it’s important your hair fully dries before leaving out. When your hair is wet your curls are exaggerated but you may need some product to keep those curls defined once your hair drys. You retain length easily assuming you “follow the rules”. Curly girls shouldn’t be afraid of frizz, it can give you volume if your hair’s on the thinner side and who doesn’t like volume?

KINKY

Your hair texture’s name says it all, you sexy minx you. Your tightly coiled hair is densely packed together giving the illusion that you don’t have a curl pattern, but look closely and you’ll see tiny gorgeous coils. When wet your curl pattern becomes more visible but your hair can shrink up to 75%. Shrinkage just means more styling versatility. You can go from short to long hair overnight! Either way, your Kinks are up for for anything. Your hair strands tend to be very fine therefore more vulnerable to damage. Sealing in moisture is key. Just remember to spritz with warm water first to encourage your cuticles to open up.

This is definitely what my hair looks like!

This is definitely what my hair looks like!

WAVY

When we think of Wavy hair we think tousled locks that look like you’ve just got back from the beach. Your texture has a less defined S shape that seems to get straighter towards the ends – especially the longer your hair gets. Your curls don’t bounce as much your curly textured sistas but your hair is very resilient to styling and manipulation. That doesn’t mean you should over do it. Your hair texture cringes at the sight of a brush. Your hair strands are generally on the thicker side and have a natural sheen though they are oh so prone to frizz. No biggie. That’s nothing a little product can’t fix.

This is the hair texture of my dreams!

This is the hair texture of my dreams!

LOCS

We’re sure most of you here know what Locs are but humor us for a second. The “locking” process involves twisting/rolling/coiling/braiding your hair and allowing the individual strands to grow without unravelling or combing them. Those unfamiliar with locs may assume that you don’t need to do much to take care of them but unless you’re going for the freeform Bob Marley look, loc maintenance takes a lot of work! Whether you’re in the starter phase or have bonafide rooted locs, we love the elegance ladies who loc radiate. You put to bed the myth that locs are “Dreadful”.

STRAIGHT NATURAL

It does exactly what it says on the bottle, ladies…Straight Naturals don’t have chemically or permanently straightened hair. You choose to keep your natural coils, curls, kinks and waves straight by getting regular blow outs. Why? Reasons vary, but some include preferred styling and maintenance options. Many of you find it more convenient to care for your hair when it’s straight. Now let’s get something straight (we did it again ;). Straight naturals don’t loathe their curly/natural hair. Blow outs are just a styling option. Just like locs are a styling option. The only thing straight naturals hate is humidity!

TRANSITIONER

Chin up Buttercup, transitioning ain’t all that bad. You’ve conquered the hardest part of your journey – making the decision to go natural. Now all that’s left is to transition from the old relaxed straight hair to the new fabulous curls. There may be days when you want to call your old hairstylist and schedule a relaxer STAT, but why buckle when you’ve come this far? When the toll of negotiating between your two textures becomes too much, Transitioners can always wear braid extensions for a mini hair vacation. Just keep your eye on the prize and remember to stay inspired!

I hope this cleared up a lot for you. Feel free to ask me any questions.

XoX,

Olivia