I've been featured on "Alice in Nappyland"

Hi ladies,

I have 2 blog posts lined up for the next couple of days- one on braid takedown, finally completing the braid saga, and another one on my updated regimen. Unfortunately my blackberry came in contact with some water so I can't download the pictures until it is fixed. Hopefully that will happen this weekend, but if you can't wait until then for a post, check out this feature of yours truly, on Alice in Nappyland, one of the blogs we like to get kinky with!

Catch you soon, and have a fab weekend!

How the rest of the world does it: Felicia Leatherwood's Natural Hair Workshop, London

I thought I was lucky when I got my hands on a pair of tickets for Felicia Leatherwood's Multi-Texture Hair Workshop in London, however some things came up and I was stuck in Lagos for an extra week. Boo! Never fear, my roving reporter and fab friend Goz was on hand to cover the event.

Now if you have never heard of Felicia Leatherwood, start googling now! She is indisputably one of the godmothers of natural hair. Stylist to stars such as Jill Scott, Kinkspiration! alum Tomiko Fraser Hines, Will Smith, Sanaa Lathan and many more, Felicia is the founder of the Loving Your Hair With Natural Care Workshops, which have been attended by thousands of people all over the world.  

Over to you, Goz:

Over two hundred women turned out for the Gidore & Loving Your Hair With Natural Care workshop, held at the Swiss Church in London’s Covent Garden.

In order for the day to run smoothly, as there was a great deal to get through, the organisers laid out a lovely lunch canapés, fruits and drinks to start the proceedings. This was a great opportunity to meet people, hear their hair stories and take pictures of truly inspiring hair. It was during this time that I met Cassidy from ‘NaturalSelection’. (note from The Kinky Apothecary: Natural Selection is one of our favourite blogs, and Cassidy once featured us here when we were in our infancy). 

We chatted about her hair journey, travels and her blog. Cassidy has such energy around her and as a prominent blogger had lots of people around her who wanted to take pictures and talk to her; so I took my opportunity to take a couple of pictures with her too.

The gorgeous Cassidy. That haircut is really serving as a source of kinkspiration here at the KA!

Felicia was the billed as the main event of the day and she did not disappoint one bit! She took us on a step-by-step process of how to care for our hair. Starting with conditioning and retaining moisture through to what to do when blowing out your hair. Her insights, recommendations and tips were amazing and she had women jostling for position at the product counters to buy products that she had endorsed. 

The indomitable Felicia Leatherwood doing her thang!

Goz with Felicia
 Jane Carter (of Jane Carter Solution) took part in the workshop, and her run through of how to use her products was again immensely useful and insightful. She had two models with two very different types of curls to show which products to use and how to use them. 

Jane doing a product demonstration
Goz with Jane

Other activities:
1.     There was a demo on how to blow out your hair
2.     A scalp check by Felicia Leatherwood – this was pre-booked in advance
3.     Raffles and goodie bag draws

There was also a large range of vendors selling hair products, toiletries and accessories.

The five hours went by so quick and it was great that women were not afraid to ask questions that really opened up to dealing with different issues, types of hair and products to use.

After all the talks and demos, there was time at the end to mingle, and exchange stories, tips and contact details. Again I seized this opportunity to take pictures, and we all left with great goodie bags.

I know everyone loves pictures, so you will be pleased to know Goz managed to take about a million of them, which I've managed to whittle down. Enjoy!

Cynthia from Blackgirl Flow demonstrates a simple but stylish way to rock ankara

Youtube favourite FusionOfCultures (left) rocking one of her twisted updos

And finally...
It's images like this that make me love London!

I really enjoyed putting this post together, so thanks so much, Goz!

Hope you're all having a great weekend, ladies! Catch you all soon.

Natural Hair Calendars: April

In my last post, I talked about how important it is to document your hair growth. Aside from pictures, it is also important to keep a diary, noting what products were used, what worked, what was a disaster, etc, to avoid further mistakes.

Here is your Natural Hair Calendar for April to help you get on track. This month, the focus is on 30 Days to Rejuvenated Hair. So download here and get documenting! 

Kinky Hair 101: Growth & Length Retention

Yikes! I don't get sick very often, but when I do it reminds me how grateful I am that it is not a regular occurrence. I've really had the wind knocked out of my sails the past couple of weeks, and when you think its over you're hit by something else. Insane! But now I'm back on my feet and frantically catching up with my blogging (after dealing with all other aspects of my life that required my attention). Here's the promised next installment of the Kinky Hair 101 series. To make up for my lack of posts, its another long one!


I often get emails from customers voicing their frustrations at not being able to grow their hair, and asking me where they might be going wrong.

I am not going to delve into the science of it, as I am not a scientist and anything I'd say to that effect would just be regurgitating information. Also attempting to tackle this from a scientific point of view made me feel like I was writing a school essay, bored the life out of me and began to get a bit traumatic as it brought back vivid memories of constantly being in trouble for not getting homework in on time. So instead I decided to approach this from a more personal angle, explaining factors that have helped me in my journey. However if you are interested in reading up on this side of things, some of my favourite sources for scientific facts on hair are the book The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy (who now also has a blog and a second book coming out) or Ultra Black Hair Growth by Cathy Howse. Additionally, JC of the blog "The Natural Haven" (one of the few blogs that presents science in a way that makes me carry on reading for long periods of time) has a whole series of interesting and informative posts on hair growth.

Now I have seen some crazy, and I mean KER-AAAAAZY, things on the numerous hair forums I frequent, that people do in an effort to speed up their hair growth, and in fact, JC touches on it in this post.

However, the simple fact is that most healthy people will experience a certain amount of hair growth every month. There is a science to how this happens, which is broken down quite simply here, but generally nothing you can take or apply topically can make your hair grow any faster. General building blocks for your hair to grow at the rate that is normal for you (this varies from individual to individual but is on average 1/2 an inch every month) is a healthy body. This means a balanced diet (or vitamin supplements if you suspect you may not be getting all the required nutrients from your meals. If you have a vitamin deficiency, biotin etc can help restore your hair growth back to normal rates), regular exercise, and drinking an adequate amount of water daily.

I frequently advise people that certain oils, such as castor oil, can help regenerate hair growth, but most remedies tend to help with shedding, new growth from follicles that had previously stopped working, or aiding in maximising normal growth, but not accelerating growth.

So in summary, as long as you are generally healthy, hair WILL grow.

The question is, are you retaining the length, which basically boils down to preserving the hair cuticle, and attempting as much as possible to prevent damage?

I say "as much as possible", because it is very unlikely that you will be able to retain ALL your growth. Some wear and tear (for example mechanical damage from combing), and therefore damage, is inevitable especially for those with finer strands, which a surprising number of us actually have but might not realise due to the denseness of our hair.

Here are some tips that might help you along on your journey:

Moisturising and Sealing
I am always harping on about "moisture, moisture, moisture!" because it is SO important to keep your strands lubricated. Brittle strands are the quickest way to splits and breakage. Conditioner is therefore my BFF. I try and deep condition every time I wash (so usually weekly) but even if I don't have time for a full deep condition, I never EVER skip conditioning from my routine, even if it is just for 5 or ten minutes. I often have new customers ordering shampoo and not conditioner, and I always advise that if you can only buy one thing, go for the conditioner instead. I also always ensure that after rinsing, I follow up with a good leave-in conditioner.

Finally, as I explained in this post, moisturising without sealing your hair afterwards is futile. So make sure you are following up your moisturiser or leave-in conditioner with a sealant (a heavy oil or butter, like olive or castor oil, shea butter, etc).

I will also repeat until I am blue in the face, but OILS ARE NOT MOISTURE!!! So find a conditioner or moisturiser with water preferably as the first ingredient, and then follow up with your oil or butter as your sealant.

Moisture works from the inside as well, so ensure you are drinking an adequate amount every day!

Handling your hair
It is extremely important to take care when handling your hair, as unnecessary breakage can result from being too rough with it. Patience is extremely important when dealing with your hair. Gently pull apart big knots with your fingers before combing with a wide tooth comb, rather than just ripping into your hair with the comb. When combing, work in small sections and start from the tip working your way gradually to the root.

Seamless tools, e.g. combs, ensure you don't snag your strands on jagged edges. Avoid hair accessories with metal fixings which tangle and catch on to hair strands causing breakage. Also little things like ensuring your fingernails are neatly filed to prevent more unnecessary snagging makes a huge difference.

Keep your hair stretched as much as possible
Keeping hair stretched helps to limit tangles, knotting and the resulting breakage. One of the next few posts I have planned is on my updated regimen, and I will illustrate how I go from beginning to end of my washing routine without ever allowing my hair to shrink up on itself. I also prefer to wear my hair in styles that will keep it stretched between washes, and this means I reduce tangles generally, and very rarely have those tear-inducing marathon detangling sessions anymore. Which leads me to:

Protective styling/low manipulation
The principle behind protective styling is that by keeping your hair stretched, and your ends tucked away, you avoid sustaining any damage from your ends rubbing on things like your clothes, and then fraying, splitting and eventually breaking off. Protective styles consist of thing like twists and braids (in an updo with the ends tucked away from your clothes), buns and other updos, wigs and even weaves if done properly.

Low manipulation styles follow the same principle of stretching hair, but mainly centre around having a style that doesn't need to be re-done often, therefore reducing the opportunity to break your hair through handling. These include twists and braids worn down, twistouts, braidouts, rollersets, etc.

We'll talk in more detail about protective styling in the next Kinky Hair 101 post.

Trimming hair
Contrary to what some believe, trimming hair will NOT make it grow faster. It is therefore not normally necessary to trim your hair according to a set schedule of a certain number or weeks. However, if you have damaged ends with a lot of splits, it is advisable to trim off the damage before it has a chance to travel up your hair strand. When I am not in one of my scissor-happy frenzies where I suddenly decide to chop several inches off my hair by myself (don't ask), I generally tend to trim when I notice a lot of splits or single strand knots on my ends. Other clues that my hair is desperate for a trim include my ends tangling constantly, eyelash-length breakage whenever I handle my hair, problems retaining moisture, or when my ends just feel like straw compared to the rest of the strand and no amount of moisturising and sealing makes any difference. I normally assess how far up the strand the damage is located, and tend to give myself an all-over trim of 0.5 to 1 inch.

Also sometimes when I am bored, I will carry out "search and destroy" missions, which consist of looking for splits or single strand knots on individual strands, and trimming about 1/4 inch above them when I find them.

If trimming your hair yourself, it is very important to use a sharp pair of scissors made specifically for cutting hair, and never to use these scissors to cut other things like thread or paper as this can dull the blades causing fraying and more damage when finally used on your hair.

How often each person decides to trim their hair is totally up to them, however keeping damaged ends for the sake of longer hair is ludicrous.

I have pretty much eliminated heat from my regimen, and have found that this has gone a long way to helping me retain length. Before I started off on this healthy hair journey I would blowdry my hair with a comb attachment every time I washed it, and with the amount of hair I was losing, I was effectively giving myself a (bad) haircut every week. Now my use of heat is limited to sitting under a soft bonnet dryer (with my hair slathered in conditioner and covered with a plastic cap) to deep condition. I may one day experiment with flat-ironing if I ever work up the courage.

Again, different things work for different people, and many find that lightly blowing out their hair after they wash helps them to eliminate tangles and single strand knots. However  Its just a matter of finding out what works best for you. And if you decide to use it, there are ways of limiting the damage. A lot of naturals swear by the tension method. If you prefer to stick with the comb attachment, make sure your hair is quite adequately stretched out first by partially drying in large twists or braids, so you are not ripping the comb through shrunken, tangled hair. And for goodness sake use a heat protectant!

Now, my next tip doesn't help with actual length retention, but can go a long way to giving you peace of mind:

Document your journey with pictures
1/2 an inch of growth a month, in the grand scheme of things, is not that much. Especially when it has to travel down a series of kinks and coils. Sometimes it just seems like your hair has not grown a milimetre. At times like this, it can be quite useful and comforting to have pictures to compare. This also works well if you're obsessing about things like whether your hair is suddenly thinner, or if your edges all broke off last time you braided (it usually hasn't, and it is nice to have proof)

The other day, someone sent me a picture they had taken of me. The angle made me remember a similar picture taken about 18 months ago. As I have constantly been chopping off the back of my hair trying to get the front to catch up, it has pretty much remained the same length when stretched to check. I only noticed the difference in length in other areas when I looked at pictures, and this comparison is the perfect example.

(The picture also highlights the improvement in my twistout technique, so take heart, all those who have told me they can't master a twistout to save their lives. It all boils down to practise!)

And that's it. Just those simple factors can make a world of difference in how much length you are able to retain.

Until next time, have a great one, peeps!