Some useful Youtube links to get you started

Hello peeps,

A couple of posts ago, I talked about the importance of coming up with your own regimen. I thought some of you would find it useful to have visuals, so I rounded up loads of videos from my absolute favourite youtubers: Naptural85, Fusion of Cultures, and a number of others.

I've been meaning to put these up for weeks, but I hope the sheer number of videos will make up for my silence. Also as today's a holiday (in Nigeria) it means you have all day to lose yourself in Youtube- and practise.

So enjoy!

Pre wash detangling

Naptural85 demonstrates the process I use if shampooing before I DC (I stop before the bantu knot stage):

This is a great and painless method to distract children and detangle their hair prior to washing:

Washing process

This video is pretty similar to my washing process (except I don't use a brush).

Fusion of Cultures' routine is also actually very similar to mine, apart from the products we use, and the fact that my hair is never loose at any point during my routine, apart from the section I am working on at the time. I keep the same sections in from beginning to end, making them smaller after I have deep conditioned:

African Export:

Girls Love Your Curls are back with an effective way to wash in sections that is effective for adults and children alike):

Some people benefit from washing their hair while in twists:

Another demonstration of washing in sections. Yes, yes, I'm sure you get the picture now. Feel free to skip the next 3 videos if you know you've got it down:

Most naturals with shorter hair find they do not need to wash in sections, as demonstrated in this video.

Stretching hair and styling basics
As I've mentioned in the past, most kinkies find it necessary to keep hair stretched to prevent tangles and knotting which can lead to breakage and splits (not to mention frustrating detangling sessions)

How to two-strand twist:
This step-by-step tutorial is a great starting point for anyone who's still confused about how exactly to two-strand twist hair

Banding (another method of stretching out hair without heat):

Bantu knot-outs:

Threading technique (most of you will probably remember this from childhood):

...and they actually can be made to look decent enough to wear in public:

For those who insist on blowdrying, try the tension method:

How to flat twist:
These take less time to do than two-strand twists (once you get the hang of it), and can produce awesome twistouts. Also these tend to form the basis of some awesome updos

How to cornrow:

Twistout method:
On a TWA (you can start at 2:40)

More complicated twistout method, but when I tried this I got awesome results that lasted for days:

Braid out method:
On shorter hair...

Modified for longer hair...

Flat twist out style:

(Note to our transitioners: flat twistouts are a great style as they blend the 2 textures well)

Maintaining a twistout/braidout:
I very rarely re-twist my hair at night (I just don't have the time or patience, so I normally use Naptural85's scrunchie method demonstrated in the Twistout 101 video above), but for those who are interested, this might be useful

Simple styling ideas

Elegant updo with twists:


Banana clip bun:


Lazy Day Hairstyles:

Another two-strand twist updo:

And when your styles start looking a bit old:


General Kinkspiration!

(Both Rustic Beauty and JoStyling are Nigerian, by the way)

There is SO much information out there, and so many great videos, it really was impossible for me to get them all into this post, so just go exploring. Make sure you check out other videos by the youtubers featured, especially Naptural85 and Fusion of Cultures. They both have beautiful hair and have inspired me a lot over the past few months, and Fusion of Cultures is especially good as a reference point for transitioners, as she transitioned for 2 years before doing the chop.

It is really important to remember though, that while youtube is great for tips and ideas, no-one is actually a hair "guru", and you shouldn't blindly follow every tip given.

You don't need to use the same products mentioned, or follow the exact same method they do. When I first started watching youtube hair tutorials, I'd frantically try searching for every product that cropped up. In the long run, I guess we could argue that this was a good thing as the frustration at not being able to find anything led to the birth of the Kinky Apothecary. However in reality, all you need to do is know that if, for e.g. a certain leave-in is recommended in a video, you can always substitute this for another that works well for you alread

Of course there is no real harm in trying new things out if you feel like it and this is all part of the fun of having natural hair, but just don't feel that the exact same products need to be used to achieve a certain result. Just continue to research and experiment.

Finally, it is very important to make sure you don't get overwhelmed. As I've demonstrated, there are a million and one ways of doing one thing. The trick is to figure out what method works best for you.

Until next time.

Scalp issues

Hello ladies (and any gents reading),

One of our readers, Berry Choco Latte, commented on my last post and brought to my attention the fact that I totally forgot to talk about my scalp. Whoops! I decided to do a quick post on the subject, but again it quickly turned into a novel. Nevermind.

Anyway, she said:

"Nice comprehensive post. I've started trying to form my own regimen. My hair LOVES water and DCs. Only issues I've noticed lately are an itchy scalp and my hair's been shedding more than usual. Any tips?"

Here's my 2 kobo's worth:

Itchy scalp

This had always been a huge problem for me, from my relaxed days to the beginning of my natural days. I did notice, however, that as soon as I stopped using harsh sulphate shampoos, removed potentially follicle-clogging mineral oil from my product arsenal and washed my hair more often, it improved considerably. However, I was still prone to the itchies. I found that Jojoba Oil with a drop of Tea Tree Oil on my scalp was the only thing that relieved this for me. Some people find that Coconut Oil works best for them, others prefer Castor Oil. In the beginning of my healthy hair journey, I tried Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Disaster (for me, anyway)! Itched like crazy.

Earlier this year however, I was inspired to do a 4-week food detox, not for any weight-loss purpose, but because I was generally feeling quite sluggish and like I needed a cleanse. This involved, amongst many, MANY other things, cutting sugar out completely, including everything containing it. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING! So as well as eliminating sweets and chocolates (which was a difficult enough task, as although I generally have extremely healthy eating habits, sugar is my weakness and I have been known to do things like eat an entire pack of biscuits in one sitting. And that is just scratching the surface), I could only eat certain types of bread for example, I made my own salad dressing as a lot of the shop-bought ones contain sugar, I really only trusted freshly squeezed juices, etc. I had to be meticulous about reading the labels on everything before putting it in my mouth.

It was only after the second week that I noticed my scalp hadn't itched for as long as I could remember, and I hadn't oiled it once since the detox began. Totally unheard of for me. I started looking into foods I had eliminated and their link to itchy scalps, and that was when I came across the issue of candida. The idea of the effect of candida on the body tends to be supported more by practitioners of alternative medicine. Most conventional doctors reject the idea. However, I like to pay close attention to what my body is telling me, and if my scalp doesn't itch when I stop eating sugar, there must be something to it.

Concidentally (if you do indeed believe that coincidences exist), just after I read the above comment on my phone, the following video on the subject was posted on Felicia Leatherwood's Loving Your Hair With Natural Care's Facebook page:

I have re-introduced sugar to my diet now, but I have significantly decreased the amount I ingest (to be fair, this is not hard considering my previous habit), limiting it to the odd sugary snack. However even with this vast reduction I have started to notice some itchiness has returned, although nowhere near as bad as before.

Also funnily enough, the comment reminded me of this post I had recently read on The Natural Haven, which explains that there might be different reasons for itchy scalps, and the follow up shows how things you might be doing in an attempt to help may just be exacerbating the problem.

Simply put, not being a scientist, nutritionist or doctor, I unfortunately can't give you one final solution to your question, however I would advise paying attention to products used (nothing too harsh), build-up on your scalp (are you cleaning it often and adequately enough? Are you using products with ingredients that rinse off easily?), your diet and then if necessary seeking medical advice if symptoms persist. Sometimes solely oiling your scalp could just be a case of treating the symptom, and masking the real cause.


First of all, for those who may be unfamiliar, I'll quickly explain the difference between shed and broken hair. If you examine an errant hair that has managed to escape from your head, does it have a white bulb on the end, like so?

If so, it is a shed hair.

If not, like this one:


Then it is broken.

Everybody sheds. (To be honest, everybody experiences breakage as well. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, you just need to manage the amount of breakage you cause by rough handling and the way you wear your hair). It occurs when hair follicles, which work in cycles, transition from the growth phase to the resting phase, and the average amount shed is apparently around 50-100 a day.

I shed a lot of hair! As in, an alarming amount. Sometimes I feel like it is way over the average number. As I type, I have just pulled out 4 shed hairs by running my hands through my hair. I used to be worried by this, especially as I would watch youtube videos and see people losing a fraction of the amount I do in their entire wash routine. Now I content myself with the fact that 1/ the majority of hairs I lose are not broken (and yes, my hair obsession sadly did reach a level where at one point I probably did examine every single one that came off my head. Now I just look at an extrapolated sample as they are coming out. I may be missing some broken ones, but I've quickly realised that life really is too short), 2/ regular check ups confirm that I am (thankfully) in good health, and I have become familiar with the amount of shedding that is normal for me (a hair ball of anywhere around 1/8 to 1/4 of my palm in my wash session, depending on how long it has been since my last wash, and if I combed or merely finger detangled the last time), and 3/ the hair on my head doesn't seem to be thinning for now. In fact, it seems to be doing quite the opposite. So I don't worry when I'm disposing of that ball of hair every week.

However, if as the commenter mentioned, shedding seems to be more than usual, this could be for a number of reasons. There is a lot of information out there, but Audrey Davis-Sivasothy sums it up perfectly when she says:

"Do keep in mind that there are special periods in the human life cycle where shedding is naturally increased. For example, women who are undergoing a bout of postpartum shedding after having a baby may have to deal with increased shedding for several months until their normal hormone levels return. Other conditions which may increase your shedding rate are:
  • styling methods that place stress on the follicles
  • birth control/menstrual cycles/menopause
  • pregnancy
  • heredity (runs in the family)
  • crash dieting/ low protein diets, poor diet
  • illnesses with high fever as a prevailing symptom
  • anemia, thyroid disorders, and a host of other chronic disorders
  • certain medications and major surgeries and treatments like chemotherapy"

You can read more on what she has to say on the subject here.

However again, as with the itchy scalp, I would advise consulting a medical professional if you suddenly realise you are shedding much more than usual, and for a prolonged period of time.

Thank you, Berry Choco Latte, for inspiring this post.

Until next time!

My updated regimen

I have talked about my regimen before in this post, however things have changed a little bit since then so I figured I should update you all. I feel this might also answer questions for ladies who ask me where to start, because after experimenting with a load of different methods, I begin every session this way now, regardless of how I am going to end up styling (be it a twistout, braidout, twists, braids, etc).

I have settled into the routine of washing my hair once a week. I tend to do this midweek in the evening after work, so that I can have nice fresh hair for the weekend. I also now shampoo every week, which I wasn't doing when I began my "healthy hair journey", as at that time I was still struggling with moisture issues. These days I tend to save cowashing for if for some reason I decide to do a second (or 3rd) wash during the week, for e.g. if I have been working out a lot, or swimming, if I know I will not get a chance to deep condition my hair (this is rare, but happens at times like when I am travelling and don't have a lot of time to devote to my hair), if I am washing a protective style (for e.g. if I am in mini-twists, which I tend to keep in for at least 2 weeks) or if I just feel like a style has not been working and I want to do something different. But for the most part, now that I have sorted out my moisture balance, my hair seems to like a weekly shampoo. And I always follow up with a deep conditioner. As I believe I may have mentioned, I have read several articles and blog posts that mention deep conditioning is unnecessary, however I definitely notice a difference in my hair when my conditioner has been left on for longer (at least an hour). So again, different things work for different people.

Once in a while, once a month if I remember, I will do a special treatment, such as a protein treatment, henna (which I have just begun to revisit after a 1 year hiatus), bentonite clay wash or some sort of ayurvedic treatment. I will delve into these in more detail in future posts, but for now, here's what my average wash day looks like.

Step 1

I decide whether I am going to deep condition before or after I shampoo. I have heard arguments for both methods. Some people say deep conditioning on dry hair is best, because when the hair strands are not full of water they can soak in more conditioner. I have absolutely no idea if this is true, and to be honest I don't see a difference either way. However I prefer to apply my DC on dry hair before I wash solely because it is more convenient. I hate having to get in the shower multiple times during the course of a wash, so this method means I can come home from work, go straight to the mirror without even having to undress, slap on my condish, cover with a plastic cap and go about my business. I only wash first if I feel my hair is particularly dirty, like if too many random strangers have managed to get their hands into it since the last wash, or if I have been caught in a sandstorm, for example (this has happened much more often than would seem likely).

I tend to deep condition with Aubreys Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner for the most part (usually adding a bit of honey and olive oil to the mix), alternating with Aubreys Organics GPB every 2 or 3 weeks. I do this because my hair craves protein, but again, I will go into detail on this in a later post.

Step 2

I begin by sectioning my hair into 4. It has become impossible to wash my hair in one loose mass now, unless I want to revisit the 3 hour detangling sessions of yore. I only wish I had figured this out much earlier, it might have saved a lot of heartache.

If I am doing the DC first, I apply it to each section, gently detangling my hair with my fingers and separating any knots I come across. When that section is completely covered in my conditioner, I braid it up and then move to the next until all 4 sections are done.

I then cover with a plastic cap, and go under my hooded dryer for a few minutes to open the cuticles. Then I cover with a towel to trap in my body heat, and do whatever I need to do: dinner, work, etc. I tend to leave my DC's in for at least an hour, and have been known to leave them in overnight (although this is not advisable for everyone, as some people might experience over-moisturised hair. This has never been the case for me).

If I plan to shampoo my hair first, I work in the same 4 sections, but I gently finger-detangle with coconut oil instead. I leave this on for a few minutes as a pre-poo treatment (coconut oil is said to prevent too much water entering the hair shaft and causing hydral fatigue. This is the only time I can use it on its own. Generally my hair can't stand plain coconut oil.)

Sectioned hair with coconut oil pre-poo

Step 3

Then I hop in the shower, undo one of the sections and apply my shampoo. I always start at the front so that the dirty water when rinsing runs into the unwashed sections at the back, which will be washed eventually. I was using Giovanni Smooth As Silk Shampoo, but have just switched to the Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo, which I absolutely love. I hold the section of hair at the tip so it doesn't tangle and knot, and apply the shampoo to my scalp, and the parting between the sections, rubbing with the pads of my fingers, and never my nails. (Scrubbing your scalp with your nails can damage your hair follicles). I squeeze the section to distribute the shampoo through my hair, and smooth it down the length of my hair, as always not allowing the section to tangle.

I usually then apply a little bit of conditioner over my shampoo before I rinse it out in a downwards motion, as this helps prevent the stripped feeling that can come from shampooing.

Step 4

If I have already deep conditioned before shampooing, I take a bit of my detangling conditioner, usually whatever conditioner I use as my cowash conditioner (at the moment it is the Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner or Tresemme Naturals. Pretty much any cheapie conditioner will do). I divide the section of my hair into 3-5 smaller sections, and comb through the conditioner with a wide toothed comb. Then I clip that section out of the way and begin to work on the next section, until all 4 quarters of my hair are washed, detangled and twisted. Then I rinse the conditioner out of my whole head with my hair still in twists. This way, I never allow my hair to tangle up, combing is no longer a problem, and I am normally able to detangle and twist my entire head within 30 minutes.

If I didn't deep condition before, this is the point at which I do. As above, I apply my DC making 3-5 smaller sections as I go along, and gently detangle with a wide toothed comb before I twist it up, and then move on and do the same for the other 3 quarters of my hair. I find that the Aubreys Organics Honeysuckle Rose does not have much slip on its own, so is not very easy to detangle with. Adding olive oil helps with this problem considerably. Once my DC has been applied to my whole head, and I have detangled and twisted, I cover with a plastic cap, use heat for a few minutes, then cover with a towel as before. Once it has been in for a while (again anything from one hour to overnight), I rinse my entire head without undoing the twists.

This step is quite messy, so I have not been able to get any pictures of it, but as I work in the same twists from here until the end of my routine, the pictures in the next step show roughly how many, and how big they are.

Step 5

Once out of the shower, with my hair rinsed, I squeeze some of the water out using a t-shirt, since conventional towels can cause unnecessary frizz. Then I apply my leave-in conditioner, making sure to rake it through with my fingers so I can cover as much of my hair as possible. Sometimes I undo each twist, sometimes I just apply my leave-in to the twists, squeezing it in so it penetrates them. Then I seal with either my shea butter and oil mix, or the Kinky Apothecary Whipped Shea Batter, retwist and leave it to dry. They don't have to be tidy and in fact very rarely are, as they are not a style but just a drying aid.

I noticed long after that I was only wearing one earring. These pictures show that I lost the other one right at the start of the process. Sigh.

Once my hair is about 80% dry (either a couple of hours later if I didn't DC overnight, or at the end of the next day if I did, and then rinsed and applied my leave-in the next morning), I undo, apply whatever product I am going to use (normally a gel if I am doing a braidout or twistout, or some Whipped Shea Batter if I am just going to be wearing smaller twists), and then style.

This is another difference between my current method and my old regimen. I am normally in a braidout, twistout or twists, and used to style on soaking wet hair, but it would take forever- days in fact- to dry when I did it that way. Allowing my hair to dry in twists before means that when I style, my twistout or braidout normally sets overnight or in a few hours. They are not as defined, and do not hold as long as when they are done on wet hair, but I quickly became sick of having my hair drip all over my clothes all day, and so I altered the way I went about it.

I just find creative ways of pinning up my fat twists to make them look presentable for as long as I need to keep them in.

Styling on dry, already stretched out hair leads to less shrinkage and longer, fuller-looking braidouts, twistouts and even twists, and I'll describe how I go from fat twists to these styles in the next post.

Some tips for coming up with your own regimen

I really can't stress enough how important it is to come up with your own hair care regimen. It helps to understand your hair and having a routine can help to eliminate frustration. Again, you have to bear in mind that different things work for different people, and you have to experiment with different methods and then find what suits you best.

I get so many people approaching me or writing to me to say their hair is unmanageable. I used to think that about my hair too but if we look at the things that make us consider our hair unmanageable (1/ dryness and breakage, 2/ difficulty detangling, 3/ denseness), you quickly realise that if you figure out how to deal with those issues one at a time, doing your hair becomes just a process, and less of a chore. Coming up with your own routine will help you figure out how best to do this for yourself.


When I am asked by customers for product recommendations and where to start, I always explain that there is no set product that will achieve this or that for everybody. The important thing is to ensure that you understand the ingredients so you quickly figure out which ones may be detrimental to your hair in particular, and therefore should be eliminated, but also what ingredients your hair loves so that you can try and incorporate them as much as possible.

The basics to begin with are a good cleanser (either a cowash conditioner or a good moisturising shampoo), a deep conditioner, a leave-in, and a sealant. These are just the basics. Obviously depending on how you want to wear your hair, stylers are also important (i.e. gels, puddings, etc). People with drier hair may need to follow up the leave-in with a moisturiser before sealing. I used to have to do this.  Some products can perform multiple functions (e.g. the Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner can be a cowash, a detangling conditioner, a deep conditioner and a leave-in. Most leave-in conditioners can be used as light moisturisers and vice versa)

It is all about experimenting, and of course you can try as many as you want, or you can keep it simple, figure out basics that you love and stick with them.

I test out many, all in the name of business (I know. It's a tough life!) but I do have my staples that I come back to. Our range is expanding considerably over the next month, so there will be a much larger variety to choose from, however once you find what works for you, it is best to stick with that and not be tempted to jump from brand to brand...although that IS a lot of fun.


Working in sections allows me to break up the task so it doesn't seem so daunting. Also my hair is braided and twisted for much of the process, and is never allowed to tangle, thereby eliminating long painful combing sessions.


For me (and most people with kinky and tightly-curled hair) it is very important to keep my hair stretched, so the focus of my wash days are to get my hair clean, and stretched out without heat. Hence the fat twists. But other methods of doing this are braiding, banding, threading (like we used to do as kids but forgot about as we grew up), etc. Figure out what method you prefer and work with that.

Breaking up the process

Another thing that has helped is that I now break the process up into stages. Sometimes it is nice to have long hair spa days, but these days I am always so busy, I rarely have the time for this. As I alluded to earlier, I can typically apply the deep conditioner one evening, leave it overnight, wash the next morning, twist, go about my day, and then style in the evening ready for the following day. That way I am not having to set aside 3 hours in one go. Once I figured out how to make my fat twists look semi-presentable, I was good to go.


The fact that I am saying this cracks me up, because I am one of the most impatient people I know. However, it really is important to try not to do your hair when you are in a rush, or frustrated as this  can lead to you ripping your hair out, or causing more tangles and therefore breakage. Especially while detangling. I try and do as much as possible in front of the TV (although this applies mainly to the styling stage which I haven't really talked about in this post) as I find that if I am watching something and entertained, I am less likely to get bored and rush.

Practise makes perfect

You may have to try many different methods before figuring out what works best for you, but don't be discouraged by this. Keep going, and you will eventually get there.

Hope all this helps. Some things were quite hard to describe and I may not have been entirely clear, so let me know if you have any questions.

Until the next time!

In February, I mostly... (and braid takedown)

Hello all!

It's now May, so I really think it is time for me to play catch-up with these posts that I promised would be a monthly affair! In fact, I have a few posts ready, so I will be putting them up in quick succession.

In February, I spent the first two weeks still in my braids, and then as I alluded to in this post, it took me about  a week to take my hair out, because I was being incredibly cautious. So I spent most of that time finding creative ways of camouflaging half-braided, half-loose hair updos.

I started undoing the braids in the middle, so I could put my hair up without anyone noticing, but once I had taken too many out I concentrated on taking the braids out around the side, so that more loose hair would be visible. Then I twisted and pinned it up so that the remaining braids would be hidden, like so:

Most of the last remaining braids were in the front and on the side (there was no rhyme or reason to my loosening strategy after a while), and I managed to hide them by incorporating a little hump in the flat twist. I even went out to a birthday party with my hair like that (accessorising with a scarf, but no-one seems to have any pictures! Tut!) and would have managed to get away with it if I hadn't responded to every hair compliment with the conspiratorial whisper: "Thank you! But it's still like 1/4 braided!!!!"

So, not much to see here really. It pretty much made for a boring month hair-wise. So I figured it would be most useful if I instead talked a little about my processs for taking the braids out.

I did mention it in the original braids post, but to reiterate, I made sure I took them out while they were damp, following the same principle as never combing my hair when it is dry. It was more malleable, and I was able to detangle with minimal breakage.

Step 1

I cowashed my braids, applied a leave-in to the length to create slip, and sealed with my shea/castor/jojoba/grapeseed mix to try and keep the moisture in. This proved quite futile as obviously my hair dried during the week, so I had my usual spray bottle of leave-in, jojoba oil and bottled water, and would wet and seal each section as I went along.

Step 2

I gently undid each braid individually using the tail end of a fine tooth comb (i.e. the part on the left of the picture below, for clarification purposes):

I remember when I was transitioning with braids, I would go to the salon to have my them taken out, and I would usually have 2 girls grabbing sections of braids, and combing through chunks with a fine-toothed comb. This was a really quick way of doing it, but I would never agree to do that to my hair now. Bits of my hair would break off as they went along, and I just thought it was par for the course. Sometimes when they got to the root the fake hair would tangle with my loose hair, causing more breakage as they worked to take that out. I now know better, and would rather just take my time and minimize how much of my hair breaks off. I would never let the fine toothed part of one those combs near my hair now.

Step 3

When I had undone a sizeable chunk of hair, I braided that section to prevent it re-tangling. This picture illustrates the size of the sections I worked with:

So, the key was never letting the sections I was working on dry up, never rushing, and never allowing the hair to re-tangle. It took a long time, but I didn't mind so much as I would come home from work in the evenings, pop in a DVD and get to work. Ok I lie, towards the end I was starting to go a bit delirious. But I would rather take the time and work slowly than lose hair unnecessarily.

But of course as with everything, this is a matter of choice!

Next up: My updated regimen. So check back in a few hours.

Have a good one.