Wednesday, August 31, 2011

French Braided Ponytail

Remember last weekend when I said in this post that I would band Syd's hair at night and then throw it up into a quick style every morning? It was a great idea. Unfortunately, I didn't follow through. Instead, I did a different kind of ponytail that she wore for a few days.

The very front of Syd's hairline was still in a single cornrow, as seen back in the post mentioned above. I just left that alone, since it still looked good. I divided the rest of her hair into 4 sections, with one part going from front to back and another one going from ear to ear.

I french braided each section toward the center where the parts intersected.

When all 4 sections had been french braided, I joined them into a ponytail. The ponytail consisted of 3 tendrils of hair from each of the 4 french braids. I braided each tendril, resulting in a ponytail made of 12 individual braids.

After 2 days of that style, we removed the individual braids but kept the french braids and she had a great looking braid out ponytail.

I've done countless cornrow ponytails through the years, but this was the first time I had ever even thought of using french braids instead. I think I'll have to explore this more...I love the way it looks!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Healthy Hair Becomes Longer Hair

The question I get asked most often is some variation of:
"How can I get my (or my daughter's) hair as long as Syd's?"

Unfortunatley, there is no magic formula, cream, or pill. The best advice I can give is to make sure your hair is moisturized and stop being so rough with it.

Dried out hair is more fragile and more likely to break off. Make sure you are keeping those strands nice and moisturized. At this point, I'm sure several of you are thinking, "What products should I use?"

That's actually the second most frequently asked question I receive. I could tell you what products we use most often on Syd's hair, but that might not help. Every head of hair is different. It's a process of trial and error until you find the products you like best for your own hair. Does something make your hair feel dry by the end of the day? If so, I'd suggest moving on and trying something new. If your hair seems too weighed down, go for something a little lighter. It can be frustrating as you search for the "perfect" product or combination of products, but once you discover what works for you, it's smooth sailing and happy hair. (For the record, we use Bee Mine Luscious Moisturizer and Aussie Moist conditioner more often than any others for moisture.)

The number one reason that hair seems to stop getting any longer is because it is breaking off just as fast (and sometimes faster!) than it is growing. Ripping a brush or comb through your hair is a great way to ensure that it breaks off and negates the length retention you're striving for.

Be gentle. Take your time. Use your fingers to separate your tangled hair as much as possible. Be mindful of how often you are putting beads, barrettes, and rubber bands on the ends of the hair. You don't have to completely eliminate those things, but consistently using them  on a daily basis will contribute to breakage (read: lack of length).

And of course, genetics also play a part in the length of your hair. Some heads of hair grow much faster than others. There is also something called terminal length. This is the length that is reached when each strand ends the growing stage in the growth cycle (called the anagen phase). When a strand reaches the end of that stage, it remains dormant for a while before shedding on its own. Someone whose hair grows slower than average and has a fairly short-lived anagen stage won't be able to grow their hair as long as someone who has a faster growth rate and longer growth cycle.

I think the most important part of growing your hair is to make sure your hair remains healthy by staying moisturized and as undamaged as possible. Learn to embrace your healthy strands, no matter what their length. And in time, healthy hair will become longer hair.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The "I Don't Wanna" French Braid

So here's what happened...

It was about 7:00 in the evening when I sat down to style Syd's hair. I started out with one cornrow across the front of her hairline.

After that cornrow, I decided I just wasn't in the mood to do hair. You know the feeling, right? The one where you want to stomp your foot and whine like a 3 year old because you just don't want to do it?

Well I'm proud to announce that I did not, in fact, throw a temper tantrum. I did, however, stop styling Syd's hair. I banded the back of her hair and decided that I would just wake up 15 minutes earlier and do a quick style in the morning.

You'll notice that I did take the time to make fairly straight parts before I banded her hair. This is so these banded ponytails can be pulled back into one or two low ponytails if we needed to go somewhere before her hair was styles. I learned the hard way that sometimes things come up and you have to leave the house unexpectedly. Having a preteen with her hair banded without so much as a straight part is NOT a fun situation to be in for mom or child. Trust me on this.

Fast forward to the next morning. I had a head full of hair to style in under 20 minutes. I was going to throw it up in a bun, but I took a good look at her hair. It was stretched and well moisturized, which means it was really shiny. I decided to leave the one cornrow in front and show off how silky and shiny the rest of her hair was by putting it into one big french braid.

I think I'll reband her hair every evening this week so we can do quick styles before school every morning. I'll show you at the end of the week what styles we decide on.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sharing the Spotlight: Not Your Average Braids by Goldilocks*n*Me

Thank you to 6 year old Goldilocks and mommy Tav from Goldilocks*n*Me for jumping in to take their turn in the spotlight! They have sent in pictures of two amazing braid styles. Despite the complex look of the braids, Tav explains how to do them on her blog and says they were both done before school in about 5 or 10 minutes. That makes them even better!

This first style is an uneven braid with 2 tiny strands braided normally and then braided with the remaining hair to form a large uneven braid. A pretty lace ribbon was added, too.

The second style is a 4 strand flat woven braid using 3 strands of hair and 1 strand of grosgrain ribbon.

I love both of these looks! To get more detailed instructions and to find other very creative styles, head on over to Goldilocks*n*Me to see what you can find. Thanks again for sharing!

If you want to share your styles, click on Contribute at the top of the page to find out how!

Sharing the Spotlight

It's Friday, which means it's time for another Sharing the Spotlight! Unfortunately, I have shared all submissions that have been sent in to me.

This means I need your help. I need someone to shine the spotlight on! If you have a picture of a style that you would like to share, please send it to me at

Happy Friday!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School Twist Out

Today was Syd's first day of middle school! She liked her last twist out so much that she decided she wanted another one for the all-important first day hairstyle.

I decided to give her a simple braided headband in addition to the twist out. I made it very basic, with a part in the middle of her head and one cornrow down each side of her face toward her ear. The back of the hair was put into three strand twists. I used Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade for both the cornrows and the twists.

She wore her hair in the twists all day Sunday. The twists were removed Monday morning, but the cornrows along the edges were left in.

The result was a gorgeous twist out, a protected hairline, and one happy middle schooler!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sharing the Spotlight: Kandy Land Kurls

Today's spotlight is shining on Kandy Land Kurls, a wonderful blog full of natural hair care information, styles, and so much more. Check out these pictures to see examples of styles you can find over at KandyLand.

Be sure to head over to KandyLand right now to check out all they have to offer!

Sharing the Spotlight isn't just for bloggers. Anyone who has a style to share is encouraged to click on Contribute at the top of the page to find out how the spotlight can shine on you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big Fluffy Braid Out Puff

Sometimes a styling session has to take a backseat to other things that may be happening at the time. I was halfway done removing Syd's latest cornrow style when I remembered that The Wizard of Oz was being performed at a local outdoor theater that night. I immediately thought, "Now what?"

Since we were so short on time, I decided not to do anything to her hair aside from pulling it into a ponytail. We would just stick with whatever her hair looked like after the cornrows came out and a bit of moisturizer was added. The result was one huge fluffy puff.

The cornrows had been too small to give her a really defined braid out, but we didn't care too much about that. Her hair was very soft and felt kind of like a cottony cloud. Multiple people actually asked her if they could touch her hair...something that doesn't happen too often now that she's getting older. She just kind of laughed and said sure, since they were nice enough to ask and she wasn't really worried about maintaining the way the style looked.

After the play, I just separated the puff into 3 sections and put it into one loose braid to keep it from tangling as she slept.

Oh...and the play was wonderful. Definitely glad we put that in front of our scheduled hair time!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sharing the Spotlight: Cornrows from All Things Cute and Girly

Today the spotlight is pointed at All Things Cute and Girly, a wonderful blog that focuses on....well...all things that are cute and girly. :)

This great cornrow style is an adorable example what you can find when you visit the site. Hair, nails, accessories, product reviews...they've got it all. Be sure to head over to All Things Cute and Girly and check it out!

If you have a style that you're especially proud of, or if you have a blog that focuses on hair, click here or on Contribute at the top of the page to find out how the spotlight can shine on you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Double Crossed Cornrow Style

Syd started cross country this week, so her hair needs to be in a style that won't be destroyed by a fair amount of sweat. So when I sat down to do her hair today, I knew I was going to do a cornrow style. Unfortunately, that was as far as my styling plan had gotten. While I pondered what kind of pattern I would do in the top half of Syd's hair, I made a part from ear to ear and put the back half into about 12 cornrows going straight down.

Moving on to the top section, I parted out enough hair for 4 cornrows in the center, and then I made a horizontal part across all 4 of those sections to divide them all in half. At this point, I was not cornrowing...I was only making the parts. I did this so I could make each cornrow cross over 2 other cornrows. I'm not sure how well I'm going to be able to explain this next part, so I added the picture below. Hopefully that will make it easier to understand instead of making it more complicated.

I cornrowed the hair in the top right section (D). When I reached the horizontal part, I made a few stitches without adding any hair and then moved over 2 sections to finish the cornrow with hair from section 2. So section D was joined with section 2, C with 1, B with 4, and A with 3.

Here's what it looked like when those crossover cornrows were finished:

After that, I cornrowed the sides in a pretty basic pattern and we were done.

All the braids can be pulled into a low ponytail every day while she's participating in cross country. No problem. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Three Strand Twist Out

As expected, Syd only kept her three strand twists in for a couple of days. When the twists were removed, the result was a twist out that looked amazing.

To remove each twist I used my fingers to separate the three sections at the root. I then gently moved my fingers to the ends to separate each twist into 3 curly sections of hair. I did nothing beyond that. The more you manipulate the hair, the fuzzier it is likely to become.

After all the twists were removed, Syd added her headband she bought in Guatemala and styling was done. I absolutely love the way it looks.

To go to bed, we gently banded her curls into a few sections. We only put a few bands on each section and kept the bands themselves very loose. We also wrapped her hair with a satin scarf and she slept on her satin pillowcase.

The following picture was taken right before we removed the bands in the morning.

After a bit of very light fluffing, her hair looked amazing for day 2.

We did run into some issues after Syd went for a run later that day. She got pretty sweaty, which frizzed up her roots quite a bit.

We had plans to go out with friends, so we just pulled the front half of her hair up to hide the frizz.

We banded her hair again overnight. When she woke up this morning the frizzy roots had gotten even bigger, but the rest of her hair was still looking pretty good. We pulled her hair into a ponytail to hide the roots and we were done for the day.

We were both thrilled with the results of this twist out. Syd actually already said this will probably be what she wants for school pictures this year.

We could probably stretch this twist out to make it last another day or two, but cross country practice starts bright and early tomorrow morning. I think we're going to find something that's a little more sweat-friendly.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sharing the Spotlight: Box Braid Faux Hawk by Untrained Hair Mom

Today's Spotlight is shining on Brooke, the author of Untrained Hair Mom. She's sharing photos of a style she did a while back on her gorgeous daughter, D.

D had a head full of box braids, which Mommy Brooke pulled into a faux hawk using a handful of ouchless bands. What a great way to switch up a basic box braid style!

To see more details about this style and many others, head on over to Untrained Hair Mom where you're sure to find styles you'll love and tons of hair info. Thanks for sharing, Brooke!

If you'd like to be featured on Sharing the Spotlight, find out how by clicking Contribute at the top of the page.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Three Strand Twists

Syd's latest box braids were in for 3 weeks. They lived through a 9 day trip to the Guatemala coast (think 110 degrees) and then a heat wave when we came back home. As a result, those braids experienced more sun, sweat, and swimming than any style should ever be forced to endure. They could have lasted another week or so, but Syd and I were both ready for them to come down.

I'm a big fan of keeping hair as detangled as possible when moving from one style to another. To accomplish this, Syd washed and rinsed her hair thoroughly while it was still braided. I grabbed 10 or 12 braids, added a leave in conditioner, and removed those braids. I detangled and immediately banded the hair from those braids before I moved on to my next group of 10 braids or so. In the end, I had 12 banded ponytails that were clean, moisturized, and detangled.

We decided on three strand twists for the next style. Sure they take a little longer to do than 2 strand twists, but we really like the way a 3 strand twist out looks. And to be honest, Syd will probably remove the twists for a twist out in a day or so because she LOVES big, loose hair.

To do the twists, I worked on one banded ponytail at a time. I removed the bands and added some Darcy's Botanicals Avocado and Honey Twisting Cream. I made 3 twists out of each section.
excuse the blur

When I was finished, we had 36 three strand twists. They shrink a little more in Syd's hair than standard two strand twists do, but the twist out is sure to be amazing. I'll be sure to post pictures of that as soon as the twists come out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We're Back!

Syd and I with a group of the local kids
Actually, we've been back from Guatemala for over a week, but life since we've been back has been anything but normal. Emergency surgery for the dog, a home invasion, broken teeth, friends from out of town, AND a 3 day conference have all combined to give me a whirlwind welcome home. Somehow, though, I think I managed to maintain just a bit of sanity through it all.

Syd is still wearing the same box braids we put in before our trip. We really haven't done much with them other than ponytails. With everything listed above, hair has been at the bottom of our priority list.

Now about our Guatemala was absolutely amazing. Life-changing for everyone involved - myself, Syd, and the people we were there to minister to. Our group held medical clinics on 3 different days and built a concrete block house for a family of 7 who was living in a one room bamboo hut. We also spent a lot of time just playing with and loving on the kids of the village we were in. Syd and I truly fell in love with the people down there. There is a very good chance that this type of trip will become an annual event for us.

We did so many different things on this trip that I couldn't choose just a handful of photos to share with you. I decided to share quite a few, instead. :)

Herds of cows use the roads, too!

Our bathroom for the week. I opted to use the cornfield. :)

Syd playing ball with some of the kids

Passing out crayons. They LOVE to color

Braiding some fun blue extensions into their hair. :)

The days were so long that Syd couldn't stay awake to read. :)
Taking medical supplies to a bedridden man in the village

Unsure about the spiny fruit (they were really good!)

Syd got in on the construction work

Hanging out with some new buddies

Passing bracelets out to a group of girls
Moving a truckload of sand one bucket at a time

Syd spent a LOT of time putting ribbons in the girls' hair

Syd and her new Guatemalan friend, Vilda

Me and my friend/translator as I spoke in a church service

Smiling through the tears as we said goodbye one last time
Shopping in the (very colorful) markets

Relaxing in Antigua on our last day in Guatemala

This guy just looked like he needed a kiss

On a hillside overlooking Antigua and the looming volcano 

Making friends with the guy carrying the big gun. :)


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