Friday, 27 December 2013

Zainab reviews three Shea Moisture products!

In case you don't know we've started a YouTube channel (and we've been quite active on there), so what are you waiting for?! Go on take a peek, here are our last three videos all about Shea Moisture...

Deep Treatment Masque

Curling Gel Soufflé

Curl Enhancing Smoothie

Check us out!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Natural Hair Product Review: Aunt Jackie’s Knot on My Watch - Instant Detangling Therapy

Hi guys, I’m back with another review! I know. I’m very good to you all! It’s in my nature . This time, I’ll be stepping outside the box (just a smidge) as I bought a detangler. As many of you may have noticed, most naturals use a conditioning product to detangle their hair from roots to end either on wash days, or co-wash days. I wondered if buying a product specific for detangling would benefit my hair, especially as I am desperately trying to combat dryness and breakage on my 4c hair. 
The product claims to be free of sulfates, parabens, mineral oil and petrolatum. It also 'softens, helps restore moisture balance and eliminates knots and tangles for natural curls, coils and waves'. So, did this product work for me? Keep on reading to find out . . .


Consistency: The detangler was surprisingly more watery than I hoped it would be. As my hair is very coarse, wiry and quite dry, I think a thicker consistency would have benefitted me more. However, the product was still quite creamy. I give this a one out of two.
Scent: Oooh this stuff smells delish! It is a sweet and fruity scent without being too overpowering and sickly. It also makes me feel as though my hair is clean because it smells so fresh. I give this a two out of two.

Moisturisationess: My hair did feel quite moisturised with it… for a little while. Once the product dried into my hair, it didn’t seem to do much even with the Shea Butter and Olive Oil. I had to use the LOC method to really seal the moisture in and even then, I didn’t feel as though it had gone into the strands. It felt more like it had disappeared! I’ll have to give this a zero out of two. 

Slip/ Detangling: I felt that because the product was quite watery, it detangled my hair quite well and quite quickly it soaked each section well making it easier for my fingers and the comb to pass through. I also didn’t really need to spray my hair with water as the product kinda did it all in one. Yay! Two out of two. 

Price: I bought mine for £4.29 but in most places this retails for £5.99. I think the price is average for this 355ml bottle. Considering you don’t need a lot to detangle your hair, the price is fine for me and the product will last quite a long while. I give this a two out of two.

Overall, this detangler rated:

I do like the way it detangles but the main issues were it consistency and moisture. I feel as though type 4 hair needs a thick creamy product to really combat breakage whilst detangling, and since I’m a lazy natural I’ve realised I like everything to be done at once – exactly what a deep conditioner would do. I did like the product but I don’t think it’s something I can see myself repurchasing, especially as I’d find it difficult to fit into my wash regimen. It’s not moisturising enough to be used during my pre-poo sessions and whilst I deep condition I tend to detangle too. It would most probably be something I use mid-week but detangling mid-week is not something I do often anyway. So yeah, it was lovely, but not for me unfortunately. Thanks anyway Aunt Jackie!

See you soon guys. Zainab xxx

Twist-Out Tutorial for Type 4 Hair

Looks like I forgot to put this up on the blog. Enjoy my twist out tutorial!

Mariama xx

Monday, 28 October 2013

New Jeans using Dylon Machine Dye

Hi guys! This isn't a hair related post, just a little clothing DIY that I'm pretty happy with. Finding a good pair of jeans takes forever for me, I like my jeans to have a bit of stretch in them otherwise I get that huge gap in the back caused by my waist measurement being smaller than my hip measurement. In fact for a long time, I stopped wearing trousers altogether as I could never find a pair that properly fit. So when I finally found jeans that fit me a bit better (Topshop's Leigh Jeans) I was so excited! Unfortunately the price tag didn't excite me - Leigh Jeans are £38-£40 a pop - and for a poor student such as myself, buying several pairs would be out of the question. So when my old ones developed a rip in the thigh that I couldn't mend, I couldn't buy new ones. What to do? What to do? DIY of course!

Instead of buying a full price pair of blue Leigh Jeans, I decided to I buy these jeans for £15 in the Topshop sale and dye them blue:

I looked for a pair of jeans that were quite light in colour and already had dark blue, black or brown stitching. The stitches are made from polyester and therefore can't be dyed to a different colour so if you want the jeans to look like you bought them blue check the stitching on the outside and the inside (because the inside may peek through to the outside). The inside of these jeans use pink thread but it doesn't show through so I was good to go!

I bought the dye from John Lewis for about £5. The process is easy, the packet dye (rather than the box) comes with the salt and dye already combined and you don't have to do so many washes to rinse out the machine afterwards. I just popped the jeans and dye into the washing machine, used 2 normal spin cycles and I was done.

The colour is more of a grey-blue rather than a jeans blue, but I'm still pretty happy with the results. Because of the two washes, the jeans can come out of the machine feeling a little stiff initially but after a few wears they do soften up and go back to normal. So all in all a new pair of Topshop Leigh Jeans for £20!

Maz x   

Friday, 11 October 2013

Mariama's Hair Regimen

I’m sure none of us have days to waste doing our hair, so I’ve had to reduce down my regimen so I spend as little time as possible during the week doing my hair.

I was...
  • co-washing once or twice a week, but who has time for that?! When you have kinky-curly Type 4 hair, your hair can take hours to wash and condition. I tried washing my hair once a fortnight/ once a month but it would get too dirty and dry. Now I try to wash my hair once a week with either the full prepoo-shampoo-deep condition or I co-wash with a deep conditioner (Yeah that’s right, I said deep conditioner!)
  • detangle three times, THREE! What a waste of a day! I used to finger detangle, use a wide-tooth comb and then use a Denman. But to be honest, once your hair is detangled, it’s detangled. Doing it three times is just pointless. I tried just finger detangling for a while instead of combing but didn’t notice any difference in the amount of hair I was losing, it took FOREVER and my hair was more knotty than when I was using combs. Now I detangle my hair wet once a month with a Denman and the rest of the time using a wide-tooth comb.
  • have a lot of conditioners (…in fact I still do, heh) but I’ve decided to stop experimenting and stick with two or three conditioners. But I have allowed myself the pleasure of experimenting with leave-in conditioners, but I am only allowed to buy one at a time!
  • buy expensive oils because everyone was raving about them. Now when making my own products I use only a few ingredients and I cut out the more expensive oils like jojoba oil, argan oil and vitamin E oil. Instead I use much cheaper alternatives that were already high in vitamin A & E. Macadamia nut oil is a much cheaper alternative to jojoba oil, and like jojoba is similar to sebum. If you’re allergic to nuts and would rather avoid them then you can use the even cheaper apricot kernel oil. Altogether I have a collection of six oils that I buy in bulk and use to make my skin oil, hair oil and hair butters. 

Products I use (this list isn’t here to make you run out and buy these products, it’s more to encourage you to find products that work for you.)

Prepoo, Shampoo & Deep Conditioner

L’Oreal Expertise EverSleek range + my hair oil. There are two sub-ranges: Smoothing & Intensely Nourishing or Smoothing and Moisturing, what the difference is I’ll never know. I just buy whichever one is there. I tried the EverRiche line for dry hair, but I prefer these ones instead. 


Depending on which one is on sale (because I like to save my pennies) I use Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, Beautiful Ends Intensive Mask (the conditioner was kind of meh, but this I like) or Dove Nourishing Oil Care Hair Therapy Conditioner.

Styling Products

I make my oil mix and hair butter myself.
For my edges, buns and puffs, I use aloe vera gel and sometimes Zainab’s puff cream (which she told me she’ll tell you about soon).

Phew, all done. Tell me about your regimens!

Maz xx

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

How I Shampoo & Deep Condition my Type 4 Natural Hair

Hi guys! Here's part 2 of the video about washing my hair. You are now members of the small group of people who have seen me first thing in the morning. Gah!!! Anyways, watch away :D

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Our first YouTube video!

Hi guys! Finally after months of promising we've finally done our first Youtube video. Sorry for the lack of voiceover but I started doing one and realised my voice is booooring (I'm so used to peppy American voices, so my South London voice sounds dry in comparison). This video is about detangling my hair, enjoy!


Monday, 2 September 2013

Bon Annivers(h)aire!!

One year's worth of growth
So guys, it’s been a whole year since I went natural! There have been many highs and lows but overall I’m so glad I did this. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from when I did my semi-big chop (I know… How annoying?!) but I started my natural journey with about two and a half inches of hair. It’s been a huge struggle to get used to my kinky texture, and to be quite honest, I’ve only just started to accept it and care for it the way I should have a long time ago. This has come through writing the blog (which has acted as a record for the way I look after my hair) and also through slowly building a regimen. I know a year sounds like quite a long time but my hair regimen is only just being created. Prior to this, I was just watching YT videos and attempting to copy everything I saw. It was fun but the routines didn’t last, I was growing poor and my arms began to ache from two-strand twisting every 5 seconds. Through reading natural hair articles and picking Mariama’s brain, I’ve been able to build the basic layout for a regimen that is unique to my hair type, texture and length (I need armpit length hair for graduation - 2015 baby! Woop!) I’ve only just entered that awkward length phase but here are some of the things I’ve learnt over the past year and some things I’ve added to my hair care routine:
  • Finger Detangling – It’s made such a difference to my understanding of my texture. When you use a comb, you don’t really get to feel what your hair is like. I’ve been able to really get to grips with my 4c hair (hey! An accidental pun!)  and I’ve discovered that it's a bit 4B as it has a couple of clumped kinky-curls tucked away in there. 
  • Co-washing – I’ve started washing with conditioner once a week which is slowly improving my high porosity hair and adding moisture. I need to dabble with the products I use but it’s working slowly! I started this at the beginning of my journey and even though it was working so well, I couldn’t keep up with it. I’m a lot more determined now :P 
  • Shampoo – I now only wash with shampoo once a month and then detangle thoroughly with my wide tooth comb and my Denman brush. Finding a shampoo that is moisturising is so essential! I use the L’oreal Elvive EverSleek which always works wonders and… it’s sulphate free! 
  • Braids and protective styling – I braid my hair all the time now and attempt to keep them in for a maximum of six to eight weeks. I’ve found this is the best length of time to prevent that gross oily clump at my scalp and also to minimise breakage and unnecessary shedding. 
  • L.O.C method – Mariama pointed out to me that I never stick with products and see them out ‘til the end! Using my own advice, I have to see this stuff through. My hair has been pretty dry recently so hopefully using a leave in conditioner, oil and then thick cream/butter will make a difference. I started this method a while back and yeah… I gave up (rolls eyes vigorously).
  • Blow-drying – I’ve been loving my blow dryer for adding stretch to my afro texture. It makes it a lot easier to do up do’s and protective styles as well as allowing me to see how much my hair has grown. I’ve noticed that where my hair had a lot (and I mean A LOT) of shrinkage, the blow-drying has helped it to stretch permanently but without heat damage. 
This year, I’ve also given up on twist outs and braid outs for definition. It was a sad day but I just realised they weren’t working for me! I’m waiting for my hair to grow out a bit more before I attempt a defined twist/braid out but I will continue to use them to add stretch to my hair before I do a style. My next goal for my natural journey will be moisture retention (in particular for my edges and ends). As I mentioned above, my hair has just been super dry. As I build a cupboard of staple products, I’ll let you guys know but for now, I’ll continue to search!  
Obviously I'm a bit too pleased with my growth here...
Are there any products you use that work amazingly? Spill the beans – comment and email with your questions and suggestions! 

Until next time… Zee xx

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

What separates a great shampoo from a poo shampoo?

While some shampoos can leave our hair squeaky clean these same shampoos can also strip our hair of all moisture - a big no-no for already dry afro hair. A good shampoo merely cleans whereas a great shampoo cleans, retains moisture and prepares your hair for the next step: conditioner. So what’s in a great shampoo, I’ll explain below!

Over time hair becomes dirty and smelly due to our old friend sebum. Sebum is great at lubricating and nourishing the strand but attracts absolutely everything it comes into contact with: perfumes, smoke, dirt particles, sweat and man other yucky things. All this and more is trapped on your scalp. The basic function of a shampoo is to break down the smelly sebum and stop it from reattaching to the strand during washing and this is done by surfactants. Surfactants are small particles that weaken the bond between your dirt and the hair, allowing your fingers to rub off the dirt and there are three types: anionic, amphoteric and non-ionic. During the rinsing stage the surfactants also prevent the dirt from reattaching to the strand and voila… clean, fresh hair! 

Anionic surfactants have an overall negative charge and are the harshest type of surfactant. The original anionic surfactant was just plain ol’ soap, which actually isn’t that great for hair! Soap causes skin and hair damage by causing an increase in pH and by causing the calcium found in hard water to be deposited onto the scalp. These two things result in dry, brittle hair.  Synthetic anionic surfactants were developed to solve these two problems and include anything ending in: 
  • Sulfate
  • Sulfonate
  • Isethionate
  • Sulfosuccinate
  • Sarcosinate
These synthetic ones are still pretty harsh, but they’re cheap, cheap, cheap! Why is that bad news? It means big companies tend to use them the most so any shampoo/soap product you have in your house most likely contains mostly anionic surfactants. Even worse, the two most common anionic surfactants: sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, are designed to work in hard water (like the water here in London) so strip away all the sebum on your scalp and hair leaving it dry and unprotected. As I’ve said before, sebum stays on the scalp and upper parts of the afro hair strand so the lower (and older!) parts of curly/coily/kinky hair have no sebum to wash away, instead they become damaged by the harsh detergent. Imagine someone who washes their clean hands over and over again, eventually their hands become super dry and the soap causes the skin to break. That’s what happens to your hair! 

On top of all that (!) your hair needs sebum for protection and lubrication, so when you wash it all away your hair is left open to damage until your scalp produces more. Even conditioners, which are meant to ‘replace’ the lost sebum post-shampoo are only synthetic sebum mock-ups, so it’s best to leave some sebum behind when washing. 

Amphoteric shampoos contain both negative and positive groups on the end of their chains. They are the betaines, sultaines and imadizinolium (aka Miranols) derivatives and are much more milder than the anionics. Usually they are combined with the anionics and stop them from adhering to (and therefore cleaning) the strand as strongly.  

Non-ionic components are the mildest cleansing surfactants and aren’t usually used as they don’t foam as well as the others. In actual fact these types of surfactants are very good at breaking down oils, proving that a cleanser doesn’t have to lather for your hair to be clean. Non-ionic surfactants include polyoxylethylene, polyglycerol and ethanolamides.

So when looking for a shampoo, what you want are more of the amphoteric and non-ionic surfactants rather than the anionics. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a shampoo without any anionic products but you want the betaines and sultaines to at least be in the top 5 (and because ingredients are listed from most to least the amphoteric ingredients should probably be listed before the anionic ingredients).

Next time, I’ll tell you about the most important step of hair washing – conditioners! 

Information from:
Bouillon, C (1988) Shampoos and Hair Conditioners. Clinics in Dermatology, Volume 6, Number 3, pp. 83-92
Gray, J. (2001) Hair Care and Hair Care Products. Clinics in Dermatology, Volume 19, pp. 227-236

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Natural Hair Product Review: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Organic Hair Crème

Ingredients: Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Ethanol, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Fair Deal Hemp Oil, Organic Lavender Oil, Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Quillaja Saponaria Extract, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Uses: Leave-In Conditioner.

Packaging:  There are two versions: lavender and peppermint. There is writing all over the packaging that informs you about how eco-friendly and fair the company is to its employees. The lavender comes in a purple bottle and the peppermint in a blue bottle. Both have a pump mechanism, which is very handy when your hands are slippery with hair oil. It can also be pushed down and locked to prevent leakage. The downside of this is that once you get close to finishing the product, it's difficult to get it out (and you can't decant it into a pot as it hardens when exposed to air). Another negative is that the label wraps around the entire bottle so you can't figure out how much has been used.

Scent: It smells like lavender yoghurt! The lavender is the strongest scent then there are tiny hints of coconut, which to me combines to smell more like Greek yoghurt.

Price: The cheapest I found this online for was £7.99 + £3.99 P&P from the Dr. Bronner site (in the US it’s $7.99, the UK is always getting ripped off!) and the same price from (but with free delivery). I bought mine from ASOS using my student discount, but they’ve either run out of stock or stopped selling it. For that price you get 177 ml (6 US fl. Oz.), which is not a lot, but you only have to use a small amount. Mine has lasted me for the last 4-5 months and I’ve been using it weekly.

Slip: Despite it containing so many oils there is very little slip (it may be because of the ethanol) so you can’t use it to detangle after you wash your hair. It took me about 3 or 4 uses to get used to this, now that I’m used to it I don’t mind. Unfortunately it also means that it doesn’t really help to control frizz.

Moisturisationess: Even though it has no slip, my strands stay moisturised for ages. I don’t even have to use oil and shea butter on top to keep the moisture in. I simply seal with oil and twist up my hair and I only have to spray water and apply oil every 1-2 times a week (as opposed to everyday) now that I’ve been using it.

Consistency: It’s very thin and watery, not sticky at all. Because of this it dries quite quickly compared to other heavier creams.

Overall Score: It loses points for the lack of slip, but wins me over because it moisturises and lasts for so long. It also helps that it supports Fair Trade and is eco-friendly. I give it...
 Mariama x

Friday, 12 July 2013

Protective Styling: A Beginner's Guide

Hello guys :D

I’ve been using “Protective Styling” for a very long time now but to some people it’s still a bit of a mystery. To be honest, it’s pretty straightforward and is often used (as the name suggests) to protect your hair from things such as the weather, styling tools - like combs and pins - and also your little mitts! (I can never stop touching my hair. ‘Hand in Hair Syndrome’ is alive and kicking!) Protective styling is incredibly important when trying to retain length and moisture as afro hair doesn’t retain moisture as well as other hair types. Not protecting afro hair from damaging actions such as those mentioned above can cause the strands to become brittle and snap off – more commonly known as breakage. 

Like many women (and men) with afro hair types, my edges are my main concern! After a Jheri-curl that went horribly wrong back in 1996, the hair at my temples has always been incredibly fine. It’s sparse, drier and breaks off more easily than the hair on the rest of my head. It’s a problem that I’ve seen far too much here in the UK and within the black community as a whole. Regardless of whether hair is natural or relaxed, it seems that edges are always the first to bounce. This is usually down to overuse of gel on the hairline, pulling from tight hairstyles (such as braids and weaves) and sometimes... it just happens! :’( My loss was a mixture of pulling my hair in all sorts of directions (ah primary school days. I had lots of gel and NO CLUE what I was doing majority of the time), overuse of chemicals (the Jheri curl was the first straw, frequent and subsequent relaxers just took away the few sparse hairs I had left!), and also just lack of knowledge. In this sense, going natural and including protective styling in my regimen was the best option for me. 

So, spill the beans! What is Protective Styling?!

Put simply, all you have to do is make sure your ends are covered in some way. That’s it! The ends of your hair (as I’m sure you’ve heard many times) are the oldest parts of your hair, and for this reason they can dry out easily preventing you from getting the long, luscious and healthy locks you’ve always desired. Here are some tips on how you can use protective styling and still enjoy your hair: 
Oooh yeah, looking good :P
  1. You can try twisting your hair in sections and pinning these into an up-do. This helps your ends stay covered and still allows you to leave the house without looking like a rag doll. I aim to do this once or twice a month. It also means I can put my deep conditioner in and run errands. Yay for multi-tasking!
  2. Using extensions are my all-time favourite! Braids, micro-braids, Senegalese twists, kinky twists, Havana/Marley twists… You name it. There are so many styles to try and with the extensions in, you can achieve a completely different look. I recently just discovered that 6 weeks is the perfect length of time to leave my braids in. No breakage occurred and there were no tangles, plus it was just the right time before I started missing my own hair lol. (I leave the braids in for 6 weeks and leave my own hair out for 6-8 weeks. I can review my new growth, try some new styles and then protect it again before the windy weather comes back to attack.)
  3. My favourite of all... The turban! The silk scarf is a woman’s best friend. The silk has anti-ageing properties for the skin, keeps hair moisturised and prevents tangling. My turban is used on days where my hair is getting on my wick or days when I haven’t got much to do but still want to look after the fro. 
  4. Other extensions such as wigs, weaves and tracks. Although I haven’t worn a weave for a while, they were very good to me for a long time. My hair underneath always managed to stay moisturised because the weave creates such a warm environment (That sentence makes me sound a bit like David Attenborough). Again, I wouldn’t exceed 6-8 weeks with a kinky hair texture like mine. I’d be inviting back the breakage!
  5. General styling can also be protective. For example, high buns/topknots, and roll tuck and pins protect the ends of the hair. My hair isn’t quite long enough to do a bun, but I’m getting there! All I’d say is, if gel is used, keep it minimal or be prepared to wash it out. (Remember, excessive gel products can lead to hardening and breakage of the hair shaft.)
So, there are loads of ways to style in a protective way. Mine is the roll, tuck and pin as well as my beloved braids and the turban. Mariama loves her top-knot (especially with all her new found length.) Find your favourite way and protect those ends! You can thank us later ;P 

Zee xx

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Afro Hair & Beauty Show 2013!

The Afro Hair & Beauty show is an annual show celebrating afro hair. Regardless of whether you;re natural, relaxed or wear weaves there's something for everyone! Zainab and I went this year, had a blast and got loads of freebies. If you're around London next year at the end of May definitely check it out (although take a Berroca or something before you go, you'll need the energy to get you through the day lol).
Zainab put her braids into a loose fishtail plait
My hair was a 3 day old twist out 

Excitement because of the freebies!!! 
And we both met the lovely Wunmi Akinlagun, the creator of  Woman In The Jungle
Zainab and I each bought a jumper (2 for £25), and Zee bought a Dr. Miracles pack for £10
Free stuff, and yes some were FULL SIZE items!
Mariama x

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Creating a Styling Routine

After washing comes the fun part – styling:

How will you moisturise?
The most popular way to moisturise type 4 hair is the LOC method (which stands for Leave-in, Oil & Cream). This method requires you to layer a water-based leave-in then a light oil (like coconut or jojoba) and then a heavier butter/cream (like shea or mango) over one another to seal in the water. The water moisturises your hair, whilst the other products form a barrier outside the strand to stop the water diffusing out. Due to the LOC method my hair has began to retain moisture all by itself (I’m so proud!) so I no longer have to do all three steps. You will also need to moisturise your ends regularly by spraying a light mist of water and applying some oil to it.

Will you use heat?
I was a heat junkie, I used to straighten my hair every week (sometimes two or three times a week) causing it to break off and never grow past my shoulders. So when I decided to go full hog with this natural thing I stopped using direct heat for a year. To be honest I haven’t really missed it! I’ve straightened my hair once since then because I was excited to see how long my hair was, but my impatience resulted in this:
Excuse the poor quality and that I'm not wearing make-up!
It was New Year's Eve and I was going out so had to rush. I didn’t wait for my hair to dry - which you definitely should! If not, bubbles can form in the strand causing splitting and breakage) so it ended up looking like I just blowdried it. Because it wasn’t fully dry so it just poofed up once I straightened it. Anyway I’ve kind of diverted from the point. Give your hair a looooong break from heat at first, after about a year you can start to add it back into your regimen. Zainab bought me a Vidal Sassoon Hood Dryer for Christmas and I love it! No more overnight drying sessions for me! But I only use it rarely or for certain styles (like rollersets). Seeing as my hair has grown quickly without heat I don’t see a reason to use it so much anymore.

What will be your signature style?
My current favourite styles now are plain twist-outs (flat twist outs are too much effort) and big ol’ buns because they’re so easy for me. But when my hair was shorter I preferred puffs and up-dos. Braid-outs (same as a twist-out but with braids) stretch hair more than a twist-out so allow you to see more of your length, but require more time to put in and take-out. You can also do protective styles like extensions, weaves, wigs (although you should leave your hair out for at least two weeks in between weaves and extensions so your hair isn’t constantly being pulled out of the follicle), corn-rows, up-dos, buns... Just have to decide which one is for you!

Maz x

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Product Review: Jane Carter Solution Hydrating Invigorating Shampoo

Hi guys! I wanted to write this post and share with you my experience of this product. In short, I hated it haha. But let’s go into more detail shall we?

Ooh pose for me baby, yeah!
I bought this Jane Carter Solution shampoo at the 2012 ‘Afro Hair and Beauty Show’ because I had heard so much about the brand. It was supposed to be an amazing product for naturals whether your hair type is kinky, curly or coily. I wanted to give it a fair chance, and following a previous blog post I thought I should give it three tries at least. Using my own rating system, this is how I scored this product. I’ll give each heading a score out of two so we get an overall rating out of ten. 0 being awful, 1 being ok and 2 being amazing! So here we go – lemme give ya the low down!

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Purified Water (aqueous extracts of nettle, burdock and rosemary), Sodium Methyl Sulfolaurate, Disodium Sulfolaurate, Sodium Sulfoacetate, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Sodium Lauroyl, Sarcosinate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Glycol Stearate, Sodium PCA, Polyquaternium-7, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract Fragrance, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Citric Acid

Consistency – The consistency is actually quite nice. It’s thicker than most shampoos and because of this I really hoped it would clean my hair without the overly clean feeling. We’ll discuss that ‘squeaky clean’ feel in a moment but it is creamier than most shampoos. There’s not much I can use to describe the consistency but until you see the product, this is the best I can do! Sorry :S I give this a one out of two.

Scent – Okay, this is completely down to a matter of opinion but I really hated the smell! It’s extremely minty and overpowering - the type of scent that would be lovely to clean a bathroom but other than that, doesn’t quite work. So yeah, not so great when the wind goes through your scalp but it does wash out. It just leaves a milder version of a not-so-nice smell. I give this a zero out of two. 

Moisturisationess – OMG. I was proper disappointed when I used this! My afro felt so dry afterwards. I could literally hear the crumpling noise when I put my fingers through my hair lol! This is where I get into the ‘SLS-free’ notion.  The product claims to have no sulphates but after further inspection contains a fair few. They are milder sulphates which aren’t supposed to damage or dry out natural hair, but I’ll let my hair do the talking - literally in this case. :/ I give this a zero out of two. Without a doubt! 

Slip – I don’t think slip is really worth mentioning with a shampoo product so in this case I won’t make a comment. Instead I’ll talk about…

Packaging - I think the packaging of the shampoo was quite nice. It’s a simple squeezy bottle that is easy to use and gives you the right amount of product. I like that the bottle is clear around the label so you can really see the consistency of the shampoo which was an important factor when I decided to try the product.  I give this two out of two.

Price – This is an American product so would generally be much more expensive, but it was £5 as I bought this at the hair show. The cheapest online price is on which is £8.59 + £2.25 P+P!  It’s a 237ml bottle of shampoo, and you do only need a small amount to get a lather but tbh, any product I don’t like will never be worth the price I paid for it, even if it was a few pennies. Realistically, £5 is okay considering that there are others that are extremely expensive (Miss Jessie’s - which isn’t so great!). But for the online price, I give it a zero out of two. 

So overall, I wasn’t very fond of the product, and have given it:

Sometimes I find that when you look at the models on the packaging, you can usually (emphasis on SOMETIMES and USUALLY guys) find out whether it works for you. Jane Carter products would most probably have been made for someone with a similar hair type to hers which seems to be a 3a/3b curl pattern. 

You do have to route around sometimes in order to find what works for you as no two naturals are the same. It’s bloody tiring though and isn’t really helping my pocket too much! But alas, I do it for you guys, and I shall continue to review the products I come across as often as poss. 

BTW, contrary to what Mariama said, I’m not lazy (grr) I’m a student midwife and it’s difficult to find the time for these blog posts. But I swear they’ll be coming thick and fast if I don’t collapse from exhaustion! Until next time y’all.

Zee xx

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Creating a Wash Day Routine

Washing afro hair can take a loooong time, so long that some naturals can dedicate a whole day (even a weekend) to just washing their hair. Personally I don’t have the time or stamina to spend a whole day washing my hair, so when creating a wash-day routine I decided to keep it simple and you should too! 

Unfortunately, I never look this good washing my hair :P
How often will I wash?

When I say wash here I mean with shampoo. Shampoo cleanses the hair and scalp by removing the sebum coating the strands. This leaves the hair dry as it allows water to escape from the strand. This is why after you wash you have to condition your hair also (conditioners contain substances which coat the strands like oil but do not get washed away as easily as oil does). As it is more difficult for sebum to travel down Afro hair then straight hair, Afro hair does not become greasier the longer it is left between washes (in fact it gets drier as the sebum builds up on the scalp) so it does not need to be shampooed as often. Because of this I would advise when washing your hair you start off doing the least, so start off shampooing once a month and if you find your scalp becomes dirty quickly between washes add another wash day.

But won’t my hair become super smelly?

No, because you can co-wash! Co-washing is using conditioner to cleanse your hair. Shampoo strips afro hair of moisture so washing too often with it can cause kinks and curls to look and feel lackluster. Conditioners on the other hand have enough surfactants in them to remove product build-up from creams and oils (hence why they bubble slightly when you wash them out) but don’t remove all of the moisture. So your hair will feel clean, smell nice and be moisturised. I co-wash when I feel my hair is becoming pretty dry (or if my hair smells a bit frowzy :S). 

Will you pre-poo?

As a type 4 natural with very coarse strands, a pre poo (applying oils and/or conditioner before washing with a shampoo) dramatically changed the state of my hair. Applying oil and conditioner before you shampoo means that your strands aren’t completely stripped clean once you wash them, retaining moisture. One of the things that helped my dry hair retain moisture was applying a pre-poo to it the night before my wash day. If you have oils in your pre-poo, you’re better off sleeping with it in your hair as it can take 14 hours for an oil to penetrate the strand. Conditioners fully saturate the hair in about 30 mins so you don’t have to keep them on as long.

Wash loose or in twists/braids?

If your hair is quite short you can get away with washing your hair loose, but the longer your hair gets the more likely it is to start tangling up (especially if it very kinky-coily). Once again do the least - start off washing your hair loose and if it knots up too much for your liking wash your hair in twists.

Detangle before or after?

I would advise detangling your hair with just a wide tooth comb at first. Don’t worry about buying Denmans or Tangle Teezers. If you are choosing to wash your hair in twists, detangle before hand so each twist stays detangled during the wash process. If you are washing your hair free, detangling it after shampooing when you have a deep conditioner in your hair. If you have just taken out braid/twist extensions or a weave detangle before washing! Otherwise after you wash you will be tearing out chunks of matted hair (believe me it’s happened to me before).

Don’t worry about washing your hair under a running shower…

Personally I don’t like standing under the shower to wash my hair, it can get very slippery with all that conditioner plus it’s a huge waste of water! I just bend over the edge of the bath. Some people even wash their hair in the sink so you don’t have to stand under a running shower if you don’t want to. Nothing bad will happen!

Other stuff…

Apple cider vinegar: A cold ACV rinse after conditioning is a nice way to reestablish the pH of your scalp. The scalp (and skin) is acidic so even pouring water on your scalp causes the pH to change causing the cuticle to open up. To close the cuticle pour cold diluted ACV (about 2 tbsps in a cup of water) after you’ve totally finished washing your hair. This will make your hair more shiny, soft and thoroughly clean. Also clean your scalp with the pads of your fingers, don’t scratch with your nails!

Maz xx

(BTW sorry we haven't written anything in a while. I've been pretty busy with exams and my dissertation, I've finally finished my intercalated year, wahey! So back to medicine! But for the mean time I'm on my summer holiday so I should be posting more often... Zainab though... she's just lazy)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The high puff: A naturals’ bessie mate!!

Hey guys! I dunno about you, but for every “hair landmark” I reach, I seem to find only ONE hairstyle I can stick with. And right now my high puff is my best friend. 

It all began 2 weeks ago when I realised my head was the size of a split pea. I resorted to wrapping a head band around my old twist out and pinning it into place as I had seen on YouTube. It had never occurred to me that I could just pin the bands in place… My head just seems to be too small and the band always ends up around my neck two seconds later. Grr. 

But I digress. The past two weeks have consisted of my puff and I travelling the world! (Well, London to Bristol :/ ) It’s so easy to do and keeps my hair moisturised. Something I realised when I pulled my hair into a puff was that it’s grown so much! I was literally gobsmacked by my length retention. I avoid doing length checks regularly but because I have very shrunken and coily 4c hair, the growth isn’t always that obvious. My hair has literally never been this long, and whilst it may not look like it from the image, its past my jaw. Oh yeah! 

It just goes to show, when you stop paying attention, things really do happen. As they say, a watched kettle never boils and a watched afro never grows. Okay, I made that up, but it should be a saying in the natural hair community! Its lame but one of my milestones was to reach the high puff status. Now I’ve made it, I’m excited to see what happens next. I think my next goal should be a high bun. A very high bun. Like Cipriana from Urban Bush Babes.*DROOL* I don’t plan on straightening my hair for quite a while because I’m really enjoying my curl pattern and texture at the moment. I don’t even have the urge to straighten it… yet anyway. But this is honestly one step of many! 

Puff, puff puff it up!
My hair may change sometime soon though! I’m thinking Marley twists or something along that line. I’ll keep you posted but have you got any suggestions? Let me know :)

Zee xx

Friday, 3 May 2013

Creating a hair routine (Part One)

Creating a regimen is one of the hardest things to do when going natural. It isn’t easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but making a structured routine for your hair is one of the best ways you can take care of it. For the first year of my accidental transition to natural hair, I didn’t do any extra stuff to my hair that I wasn’t already doing when it was straightened - and it didn’t break off. So don’t worry about devising a regimen as soon as you start going natural. You’ll need to try a few things out before you can definitely decide that’s what you want to be doing. Also remember that your regimen doesn’t have to be rigid, it will change when you cut off your straight ends, as the length of your hair increases and according to the season. I recommend when going from relaxed to natural just stick to what you’re already doing, see if it’s beneficial or not and tweak it.

Ask yourself these preliminary questions:

How much time do I want to spend on my hair? (AKA How lazy am I?)
This is very important, I quite like doing my hair (It’s quite relaxing, plus I can catch up on Scandal and Love & Hip Hop while I detangle), but some people find it incredibly infuriating/boring. If you’re one of the latter then you’ll want to do things as quick as possible and limit the wash-day process to one to two times a month.

Dammit! It's wash day again! NOOOOOO!!!!!
The same thing applies to styling too. Because I accidently transitioned I didn’t take too much notice of styling or taking care of my hair. I would pretty much put conditioner in my hair in the morning, have a bath, wash it out and then tie my satin headscarf around my head and go to uni. It still grew (and pretty fast!) so I guess that proves that you don’t have to spend hours on your hair everyday for it to grow.

How much money do I want to spend on my hair? (or How much of a cheapskate am I?)
I won’t spend more then £10 on any hair product (I say that whilst coveting the Macadamia Natural Oil products). That being said you do get what you pay for, you need to use more of cheaper hair products and they tend not to be as amazing quality (like the Superdrug Naturals line. It’s awful! You can’t even use it to shave your legs because there’s NO slip) as more expensive ones. The products I don’t mind paying a little more for are deep and leave-in conditioners. 

How kinky/curly is my hair?
If your hair is comprised of very tight coils or kinks, you’ll also want to limit wash-days and styling sessions. The more you handle your hair the more it may break potentially limiting length retention. This also will determine if you want to wash your hair loose or in twists to avoid tangles, and how long you can keep your hair in various styles.

When will I trim?
Just choose a time period and stick with it. I trim my hair every six months and only cut a teeny bit off (like 5mm). But it depends on how often you get split ends.

Do I want to use heat?
You can still straighten your hair, just decide how often you will do it. For a heat junkie like me I decided not to straighten my hair for a year once I decided to go properly natural (I broke that rule btw, but I didn’t straighten it properly so I don’t count it :P). I still use blowdryers and I have a hood dryer for days when I need to dry my hair quickly and go!

What products will I use?
At first, just stick to what you know. If you shampoo your hair or use a particular brand of conditioner just continue, don’t worry about things like sulphates and silicones just yet (I still don’t worry about ingredients and stuff, I just use what works for me). As your natural hair begins to grow, try and take note of how it reacts to the products. If it seems dry or weak then make a change (but give it a couple of tries first).

Secondly a lot of people jump on the natural bandwagon once they go natural as in ‘I only use totally natural products that were handcrafted by Buddhist monks and given Al Gore’s environmentally friendly blessing!’ – maybe not that extreme, but you get what I’m trying to say. Some people disregard a product just by looking at the ingredient list rather than trying it. Just because something has natural or organic on the bottle, it doesn’t mean that it will be fantastic for your hair. Once you know your hair doesn’t like certain ingredients then you can avoid them, but when starting out just try stuff and see how your hair likes it.

'We don't have hair... but buy our products anyway! I need a new watch!'
Lastly, do you have the time and patience to make your own products? I make my own hair butter and oils, but stopped short of things like gel (I tried to make my own flaxseed gel but t came out looking like phlegm and I tossed it out in disgust!) and deep conditioner (eggs and mayonnaise are only for eating in my book). I also made my own clay wash once, but decided the hassle wasn’t worth it. If you’re not a mixtress, don’t lie to yourself! 

In the next post I will discuss more about creating a wash-day routine :D.

Mariama xx

Monday, 29 April 2013

What's there not to like? Well, many things actually...

So, Zainab told you what she loved about being natural last time. But let’s be honest she’s still in the honeymoon stage, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops! I’ve only been properly natural (no weaves or straightening and all the heat-damaged bits cut off) for a year and have learnt some lessons about being natural! Here’s some stuff I don’t like:

You look about two
Now that I am natural, people constantly think I’m 14 (even with make-up on). I’m not even allowed to buy a lottery ticket without ID anymore! I’m 22! Case in point: my older sister (who is in her late twenties) keeps being asked out by secondary school boys. For some reason, people associate youth with natural hair.

People look at your hair rather than look at you
When I talk to some people, I can see their eyes darting up and down as they look at me then look at my hair then look at me again. I feel like saying ‘Hey! I’m down here! Look at my face! My mouth is lower down!’ Subsequently I get self-conscious that there must be something in my hair, which leads to…

Things get stuck in your hair
Stuff will get stuck in your hair. I am dreading summer purely because of the rise of the insect population. Random bobby pins, bugs, tree branches, umbrellas, Velcro, these are some of the things that have been caught or I have found in my hair. Grr!

Your BF will put his hands in your hair
Talking about things in your hair, for some reason men love to touch women’s scalps. Maybe because they’ve been told for so long that they can’t do it, when they have the opportunity they feel like they have to take it and run. My BF likes to help me (well he thinks he’s helping) fluff my hair in the morning and he likes to touch my hair whenever he can. Forget about having a frizz-free twist out if you have a boyfriend!

On top of that… so will everyone else
Tbh, I don’t mind people touching my hair (if you politely ask first and I know you), I understand that people may not get the opportunity to touch natural afro hair ever again. But DO NOT reach out to touch unannounced (especially if I don’t know you) and DO NOT scrunch my hair from the root (African aunts are particularly fond of the latter- especially whilst exclaiming ‘Your hair is so TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH!’).

Short Hair? They don’t care!
So you’ve decided to go natural, you take the leap of doing the big chop and have super short hair. I’ll tell you this now, no-one will be interested until your hair grows out and is big and long. People will even give back-handed compliments like, ‘You’re so brave! I could NEVER do that’ or ‘You look nice, but I couldn’t go natural, women with natural hair look so… butch.’ Wait about a year then people will start saying, ‘I love your hair!’, ‘I’m gonna go natural too, I want my hair to look like yours!’ 

New things to worry about
I never worried about heat damage before, now I’m too scared to even blow-dry my hair! I’m always worried that I should be doing something to my hair to make it grow or protect the ends or keep it moisturised. I remember when my hair and I used to have a simple relationship :(

You trust NO hairdresser
I haven’t been to a hairdresser since August 2011 and I probably won’t go again for a very very long time (unless I colour my hair, I don’t think I could do that alone :S). 

Always looking the same
When my hair was short (Zainab also has this problem) there were only a handful of styles that I could do, so I always looked the same. However, when I had short hair, I didn’t know about the wealth of information available so always looking the same didn’t really bother me. But now that Zainab has Youtube and there are loads of bloggers and vloggers with super long hair and beautiful hairstyles it makes you so envious. This leads to my next point…

Impatience about hair growth
Before I went natural I was content thinking that my hair would never grow past my shoulders. But now that I know the possibilities, I just want my hair to grow long and now damn it! If my hair isn’t tucked away, I’m always tugging on it to see how long it’s grown. Length checks are my crack cocaine, I just can’t help it!

People not understanding that you don’t relax your hair
I don’t get what’s so difficult for people to understand about going natural. I like my hair like this! For example, this is a conversation I had with someone at work once:

Guy: So, why is your hair like that? Are you in between weaves or something?
Me: …No…This is my natural hair… I stopped getting weaves or relaxing my hair.
Guy: (Looking at me with squinted eyes) So you don’t relax your hair?! Or use a weave?!
Me: No.
Guy: Really?! Never?!
Me: No, I don’t feel the need to.
Guy: (Still squinting) Wow… you must be some special kind of girl…

If that’s not an odd reaction I don’t know what is! I’ve also had people accuse me of being bald (because I was wearing a headscarf, so must be covering something up) and I'm always accosted in a certain high street by hairdressers offering to do my hair. Leave me alone! I like my hair like this! Geez!

Are there any things you guys don’t like? Tell me I’m not alone!!

Maz xx