Friday, 28 December 2012

My New Year's Resolution Is To Stop All The Pollution, Talk Too Muthafuckin' Much I Got My Drink I Got My Music... (My Box Braids and General Natural Hair Care Tips)...

**Oops, wrote this a few weeks ago but forgot to publish it so my blog is out of chronological order, don't be confused**

First off my apologies for the pictures- most of them were taken on my webcam (which is possibly the worst webcam in the world) straight after I took my braids out and the exposure on the others is crazy, buuuuuuut I didn't plan this post in advance and it's pretty text heavy so I thought I should throw some pictures in...

Well i've never really joined in on blogging about natural haircare, transitioning etc, mainly because it's not really my area of expertise so I didn't really feel I had anything to say that hasn't already been said 100 times already. However I do get a lot of e-mails about my natural hair in terms of growth etc  so i've decided to address some of the most commonly asked questions here...

(my hair fresh out of braids, 10 full months unrelaxed)

So as old readers will know, i've spent most of the last 18 months or so with my hair in various box braids styles about 90% of the time. I started mainly because I love the look of braids, even though they're not my own hair I think they have a certain cultural swag about them which suggests pride, they're pretty low maintenance and easy to style. Also, when I first started, my hair had just grown long enough to be able to hold braids (I'd big chopped and was waiting for my hair to be long enough for braids for a few months) so it seemed like a good protective style as an alternative to weaves, which i've never really been a fan of.  So over the last couple of years with a lot of trial and error these are the points I find most important about caring for your natural hair whilst it's in braids. A lot of this is really common sense so I hope no one feels i'm being patronising, but it's often the most obvious things we're not doing enough which make all the difference...

  • Moisture is your best friend-  when your hair is in braids, it's still out!! It's not like a full head weave where your hair is completely tucked away. It's out, battling the weather, rubbing on pillows and the backs of chairs, being exposed to water in the shower. OK so it might not be as exposed as simply having your own hair out loose, but you see my point. If you want your hair to stay in good condition whilst it's in braids you need to moisturise. I use olive oil on my scalp which is prone to dryness- even more so with the added weight of braids. It's not a good idea to use too much product as you'll end up with build up but I also rub a small amount of carrot oil and shea butter over my braids up until the point where my natural hair ends once or twice a week.
  • WRAP. YOUR. HAIR.- As much as your friends, family, boyfriend whatever might tease you about it, a head wrap is essential at night and you should aim for every night without exception. People always ask me how I wrap my braids cos they're so long. Well I don't wrap the entire length of the braid, my only concern is the top part where my natural hair is so I just use an ordinary fitted satin cap. You need to make sure it's something that's not going to slide of your head in the middle of the night. Satin or silk scarves or doo rags do the trick. Also satin pillowcases for even less abrasion.
  • If your head feels swollen, your braids are too tight!!- Sometimes I feel like black women are just far too used to having sore heads: When you're growing up you have the heck yanked out of you every time your mother, aunty, grandma combs your hair, when you get a relaxer you feel like your brain is sizzling and weaves tug you in all the wrong places for a good 24 hours. Well not that any of these are right, but with braids the old tender head is most certainly wrong... If you allow your braids to be done too tight you will cause breakage from the root and if you continually do it it can even cause tension alopecia. So if you're having your hair braided ask the stylist not to plait them tightly which is what they tend to do. I always try to make sure my braids aren't pulling on my scalp at all when I plait them. I've had tight braids before and they've pulled quite a few hairs out from the root, not pleasant and not worth it.
  • Wear a shower cap when bathing or showering- steam is not your friend when your hair is in braids- for one thing if your hair is in the 4 category like mine (kinky, coily) the overall appearance of your hair is gonna frizz up faster because it will absorb evaporation from the hot water. Also if you allow moisture into your hair like this and then don't seal it in your hair will get super dry-as you wont be slathering lots of leave in conditioner or anything through your braids afterwards the moisture wont be sealed and your hair will be vulnerable and therefore easier for you to get split ends. When I shower I wrap my hair in a big, high cone/bun thing, secure it with a scarf and pull a shower cap over it. It looks insane but it's easy and it works.
  • Keep hair washing to a minimal- whether in or out of braids I don't wash my hair that often anyway but even though braids are washable it's not something i'd recommend doing too often because it leads to a faster deterioration of the appearance of your braids and can cause build up around the attachments of your braids. If you do wash it focus your attention on your scalp. If you use shampoo use it sparingly, do not work it through your braids and make sure you rinse it out thoroughly  I'm personally looking to completely remove shampoo from my haircare regime but i've not yet found a replacement i'm fully satisfied with. (Recommendations for good natural alternatives would be appreciated).
  • Dry shampoo- every couple of days i'll spritz my hair with a little dry shampoo around the mid section of where my natural hair is and a little around the roots too. Just seems to keep things cleaner.
(A day later- oiled, conditioned and combed out with fingers)

(After washing, deep conditioning, combing with a wide tooth comb whilst hair still wet, gently pat dried and dry finger combed out and oiled)

(If anyone reposts this picture on tumblr, or anywhere for that matter, imma be pissed!! Ha)

When you take your hair out of braids:
  • Resist the urge to comb it!!!!- Even though your hair will be stretched because of the braids I don't recommend combing it straight away... Around your roots there will probably be some build up, a few tangles and it'll probably be a little tight and fragile, combing it at this point will not only be quite sore but it will also likely break some of your hair very unnecessarily. Instead-
  • Wash your hair- you can gently remove tangles when your hair is wet with your fingers. When washing my hair for the first time without my braids in I take a lot of time gently going through removing tangles and loosening up my hair without my roots.
  • Avoid using heat- I used to blow my hair quite regularly- because it was just a comb and dryer I didn't really think about it as doing damage to my hair but at the end of the day, heat damages hair. All hair. So if the use of heat is ill advised even for European hair types our hair stands no chance at all. As much as I understand that heat can create certain styles, if retention of length is a big priority to you it's best to cut down on heat as much as you can. I'm planning to stop using it all together.
  • Braid your hair- I was shocked to find out that some people sleep with their hair out. Growing up I rarely wore my hair out on a day to day basis. My mum always put it into some sorta braided style- usually with those colourful bobbles and clips we coo over so much in the black community. Having my hair out was something that was saved for special occasions like birthday parties, where all the parents would ooh and aah over my hair like it was from another planet (most of our friendship group were white) and all my friends would try and touch it and tell me it felt like a pillow. Anyway, my original point was that you must braid your hair at night or use some other form of protective styling (like twists) for sleep. I usually just spray my hair with p.m. nightime oil, put in like 6 dumpy braids and stick my satin cap over it. Make sure the ends of your braids stay in your cap. If your hair is too short to braid still condition it and cover it with a cap.

And now, general points that we tell ourselves but are more comforting when someone else says them-

  • Accept your hair for what it is!!!- My hair is kinky. It is thick, with a combination of coily bits and frizzy bits. It grows outwards... I will never ever have wavy, curly hair that grows down and needs very little maintenance to retain length like my little sister. That is a fact. There is no natural hair product in the world that will make my hair look like that or behave that way. And it's absolutely nothing for me to be sad about... So many times people have made patronsing or derogatory remarks when making comparisons between the hair of my sister and I. And as gorgeous as she is God did not bless her with 'good hair' and me with 'bad hair', we simply have DIFFERENT hair. That whole thinking really needs to be kicked out of the black psyche, both spoken and unspoken it is a major problem. Hair envy of any type is completely detrimental to fulfilling your own hair goals. In the natural hair world we're bombarded with images of naturals with big, spiralling bouncy curls and a lot of people damage their own hair trying to imitate these looks. Now i'm not speaking against anyone with curly hair, I love all hair types, i'm just saying that ALL natural hair is beautiful and deserving of the same positive attention. The only times I really see pictures of hair in the 4s celebrated on the internet is when it's in twist outs or super, super long. So often I receive messages about if people can change the natural texture of their hair and I find it quite upsetting. As cliché as it will sound- there is absolutely no such thing as bad hair, only bad understanding of how to manage your own hair. We are not born with unmanageable hair but sometimes we're taught our hair is difficult because it is too coarse, has major shrinkage, is fragile etc. Instead of bitching about these things I think we just need to re-educate ourselves on how to care for our hair properly and get the best out of it instead of coveting this we don't have.
  • Following on from this, don't become obsessed with hair types- hair typing is useful in so much as that knowing what kind of hair you have makes it easier to tailor a regime around your hair and get advice and learn from people with similar hair but that is where it's importance ends as far as i'm concerned. People get far too concerned with trying to define their hair as certain things and it all seems to have gotten a bit out of hand. Your hair is unique at the end of the day whether it is 3B or 4C really shouldn't matter, if your hair is healthy and loved it will look good regardless.
  • BE PATIENT- I'm sure a lot of you have seen the video below. It's true, patience is the key. Sometimes when you see someone with long hair you don't really think how many years it will have taken them to get it to that length. I'm extremely impatient, which is another reason I like having my hair in braids- only seeing the length of my hair during braids intervals gives me a better grasp on the fact that it actually is growing. However the main thing is to focus on maintaining the condition of your hair and not getting completely obsessed with length goals etc. You really have to put the care in to see results and if you're determined to set goals make them realistic and set them in years and not months.

  • Don't be a natural hair nazi- Expressing your views is fine and it's your right but that doesn't mean you have the right to talk down to people. Some people like their hair natural, some people perm their hair, some people keep it in weaves all the time etc etc. Whatever the reasons behind why we wear the hair the way we wear it in terms of history, slavery, Westernisation, fashion and everything else, no one likes a natural hair nazi. Whilst you might be embracing going natural or maybe have been natural your whole life, not everyone cares. So express yourself, be kinky/curly/wavy/coily whatever but respect that not everyone is in the same place as you and not everyone gives a shit. Sorry but it's true.

(More fresh out of braids pics... Because I ran out of pics :p)

There are so many things I want to improve on when it comes to my hair regime in the coming year and I think the most important thing is to be more realistic as I touched on before. I wasn't gutsy enough to chop it all off in one go but now that i've gotten rid of about 80% of my permed hair (through gradual grow out and trimming) i'm going to have to pay a lot closer attention to my ends so that i'll be able to retain length. I think sometimes I take how resilient my hair is for granted and it probably lacks a few inches because of it. I've already come up with quite a good moisture sealing routine thanks to a little research and a few creative ideas of my own. Cipriana from the fantastic UrbanBushBabes is definitely going to be my hairspiration, she has such a good regimen and of course her hair is absolutely stunning!

Also i'm considering whether or not to transition out of this hairstyle as far as the shaved sides go... What do you think??... Should I continue to grow the top and keep the sides shaved or do you think I should start to grow my sides out so that I have a fully covered head of hair this time next year??... I keep changing my mind, there are pros and cons for both lol.

Does anyone else have big plans for their hair in 2013 or New Year's Hair Resolutions????

Toodles to you bitches xx

(P.S. Title = Lyrics to 'Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe' by Kendrick Lamar)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Style Is Style. Fashion Is Fashion. Girl... You Got Style!!...

I think this is the first article typed thing i've ever written on this blog and i'm well aware that people tend to stop by here for the visuals buttttttt i'm in a writing mood and this has been bothering me for a while...

People often question me about my appearance (and I use the word 'appearance' here as an umbrella term for clothing, hair and make-up... not physical attractiveness) and why it's so important/interesting to me. So many assumptions, many of which are inaccurate,  are made based on it that I find myself torn between trying to answer these questions honestly and just brushing them off. I feel that misconceptions tend to come from a lack of understanding about physical appearance and what it has the ability to convey if you look past the deeply entrenched notion of superficiality being synonymous with it. 

I will write in very broad terms, generalising slightly so as to make my distinctions clear...

Fashion is throw away, whim driven, forgettable. Fashion is a popularity contest between consumers, a pretty, fickle air-headed beast running a race against itself with no finish line. Nobody wins but everyone gets tired. Fashion is for those who follow and lack the ability to create. It is rhythmic and formulaic. It is a conceited dictatorship. Fashion tells us how to be right and how to be wrong, it favours very few and is exclusive in the most vulgar ways. It is a draining force with an insatiable appetite. Fashion is a self-plagiarist. It is ruthless, it never forgives. Fashion does not care for self-expression, only self-categorisation. 

Style is your own. Style is the layers of your personality worn like a second skin baring your soul to those with the insight to see it. Style is your evolution through life, the mistakes you've made, the triumphs you've had, the knowledge you've accumulated. Style is the goal post which keeps moving down the field so as to push you to be better, think bigger, search wider. Style is your uniform, the character you create for yourself each day and therefore must live up to. It is what you have on and what you leave bare. Style is innovative and it chooses you but at the same time it is an organic creature, intractable in it's very nature. Style requires awareness and connection. It is deep thinking, open- minded and international. Style demands respect even if it raises eyebrows. It seeks the approval of no one except it's owner but is modestly grateful when others appreciate it. Style is humble even when it is loud because there is always room for advancement. Style does not conform to social boundaries because it is limitless and unafraid. It allows you to embrace all the pieces of yourself, even if they do not traditionally fit together. Style finds inspiration in different cultures, literature, film, light, darkness and anything else within the reach of it's imagination. Style is an artistic projection without being pretentious, it knows that black will forever be the new black. Style borrows but never steals. It can contradict itself without being a hypocrite. Style is hungry but never ravenous. It never feels inadequate because it is authentic. Style is forever daydreaming. Style knows that you are one of seven billion but also that you are one in seven billion.

So in keeping with this thinking, fashion is something that defines it's wearer whereas style is something defined by it's wearer. It is integral to the way I am. To trivialise my style by brushing it off as fashion/the fashion thing/trendiness/whatever is to trivialise my being, cover my mouth, disregard my intelligence and devalue my chosen lifestyle, passions and the ideals which shape my hopes for the future of what I wish to become. And yes, it is that important!

To many people I know that all this probably sounds a bit whimsical but all the advancements of my imagination are restrained from materialising right now (for financial reasons) and I have far outgrown the looks i'm stuck with wearing everyday. In general they do not represent me in an accurate light, like I am wearing somebody else. I have vision without choice or outlet. A creative block and a constant reminder of my own stunted self-esteem. As such I find 'fashion' and 'style' questions even more impossible to answer at the moment. yet I am asked everyday. Funny really.

Anyway, that's it with my thoughts for today, I could go on ranting forever about this because i'm genuinely fascinated by the whole thing... Perception is such a peculiar force!
 The next time anyone asks me about this 'fashion stuff' whether out of some level of genuine interest or out of malice, i'll simply refer them to this article. Ha.

Toodles to you bitches xx

(P.S. Title= lyrics to 'Harajuku Girls' by the ever stylish Gwen Stefani)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Is It Dark Already? How Light Is A Light? Do You Laugh While Screaming? Is It Cold Outside??...

What is frustrating me most with this whole camera transition is that some days I get it, everything is nicely focussed etc and then some days, like today, I don't... 

I'm not giving up though, with the edits these came out quite decent anyway...

  • Dungarees- Brick Lane
  • Lace top- H&M
  • All necklaces- Forever 21
  • Lipstick- Illamasque

Toodles to you bitches xx

(P.S. Title = Lyrics to 'I'm Not Done' by Fever Ray)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

And Now It's Gonna Be Tough On Me But I Will Wait Forever, I Need Someone Else To Look Into My Eyes And Tell Me 'Girl You Know You Gotta Watch Your Health'...

I spent a considerable portion of last night throwing up because I accidentally gave myself food poisoning...
 I still feel sick ... 
This dingy, little  post expresses that feeling perfectly, ha...

I had such a sad amount of fun editing these.
Gonna go drink a gallon of water and watch Basketball Wives LA.

Toodles to you bitches xx

(P.S. Title = lyrics to 'Oblivion' by Grimes)

I'm Alone And I Realise That When I Get Home, I Wanna Go Through My Red And My Cherry...

At the time of writing tumblr is down and has been for like 5 hours... Irritating!!
Anyway, today i'm dressed like a parody of a 1970s runner. Enjoy...

  • Chain- Forever 21
  • Vest top- Brick Lane
  • Shorts- Brick Lane
  • Glasses- Primark
  • Scarf- Primark4

Toodles to you bitches xx

(P.S. Title = Lyrics to 'Cherry Wine' by Nas ft. Amy Winehouse)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

My Life Is Sweet Like Vanilla Is, Gold And Silver Line My Heart, But Burned Into My Brain Are These Stolen Images, Stolen Images Baby Stolen Images, Can You Picture It Babe The Life We Could Have Lived??...

Not gonna lie, this is the best post i've done in quite a while.
All today's photos were shot by Arsema and edited by moi.
No babbling today, i'm really tired and in the middle of watching Real Housewives of Miami but have a look...

What d'you think?? I'm pretty happy with how they turned out in the end.
You can reblog the photos for tumblr here.

Toodles to you bitches xx

(P.S. Title = lyrics to 'Without You' by Lana Del Rey)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Look Inside Of My Soul And You Can Find Gold And Maybe Get Rich... Look Inside of Your Soul And You Can Find Out It Never Exist...

I know the quality of today's picture is hideous but I only had 2 minutes to take it.

Anyway, this is just a quickie to let you know 2 things:

  1. This is my new hair- as you can see my braids are still super long but i've added blonde to the bottom (will do a clearer post when I get chance)
  2. ***As some of you know I work in the Oxford Street (London) branch of Forever 21. Well they launched a personal stylist service yesterday which will be run by me and Ellis so if you live in London come by and have a session with us!!... I'm in tomorrow (Saturday 8th December) from 2.30pm until we close. The sessions are free and you're not obliged to buy anything but we'll show you lots of our latest stuff for you to try on and have a nice chat with you in our styling room. If this is something you'd be interested in you can call Forever 21 from 9am onwards and book an appointment with us on 0207 493 1553 or just walk in and ask for me and we'll see you straight away if we're free.***

  • Turtle neck top-
  • Velvet skirt- Forever 21
  • Chain- Forever 21

I know it's pretty short notice for tomorrow and i'm off for a week after Saturday but you can still book an appointment with me for the following week by calling Forever 21 or e-mailing me directly.

This is something imma be pushing on you lot quite regularly from now on cos every week someone different says hi to me in the store cos of this blog or e-mails to say they saw me there so I know you London readers shop there already so come down and get styled!!.. The closest station is Bond Street.

Toodles to you bitches xx  

(P.S. Title = lyrics to 'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe' by Kendrick Lamar)