Saturday, July 27, 2013

What I noticed while I volunteered at a training programme in Makoko

I will start off by saying that I am strong-minded about one too many things especially things that have to do with poverty.

Earlier today, I was in a place called Makoko (picture above), you might have heard about it on CNN when Errol Barnett visited it on a special episode of Inside Africa. To clear your mind about something, no, I did not get in a canoe and no, I wasn't on a house above the water, I was in a house right behind the houses on the water (like after the building I was in, was water with the houses above on it).

From the picture, you can guess that at least 99% of the people living in Makoko live in poverty. And it irritates me so much to know that those people live in poverty and yet, they waste their money on things like relaxers! Yes!

The women and quite a number of the kids there all had their hair relaxed and I was like, "what on earth?!?!" You are finding it hard to feed, to clothe....and you are wasting the little money you have on something like a relaxer. For what?

Relaxers are not cheap! They're about what? N1000 (about £4) per pack for the cheaper ones (which contain more sodium hydroxide - harmful!). You can go to a restaurant and buy something elegant, though simple for N1000, you can buy a bunch of plantains around that area for N1000 (and that plantain can last quite a long time and you can feed your family with it), you can buy raw materials for making pastries or getting other things that you can sell and make even more money with that N1000. They spend it on a relaxer. That's wise.

People relax their hair like what? every 6 weeks. Okay! so, that's N1000 every six weeks (by the way, the 'N' stands for 'Naira' - the currency used here). There are 52.1775 weeks in a year. So, if you get a relaxer every six weeks, that's 8.69625 relaxers, but we can't use a decimal amount so, we'll say 8 to 9 relaxers a year and that's how much? N8000 naira. Now, what can you buy with that N8000?  A used Blackberry Curve (that works perfectly), a Stella Morgan blazer/dress, AX Paris dress, something from Forever21, ANNA tank tops, an item of clothing from cetera. N8000 is about £32. I bought something from Etsy in June that cost just £18 pounds (international shipping included). So, you can buy more than 1 thing from Etsy and get it shipped down here for that N8000. By the way, N8000 is about $49.77. Think of what you can get in the United States with that. Okay! moving away from luxury goods. You don't have to get international or designer stuff with the N8000. You can get locally made clothes and get a whole lot of change. I once paid just N100 to get a skirt made for me here. So, that money can get you about 80 skirts. You can get loads of raw materials to cook with and those resources can last for months!

You're living in poverty and you spend that much money on a relaxer instead of embracing your God-given, beautiful hair? Wise. Okay! So, you save N8000 a year if you don't get a relaxer, in 2 years, you save N16000, in three years, N24000, in four years N32000. I'm sure N8000 can pay the rent for a while, if you have to pay rent in Makoko (I don't know). N40000 (not buying a relaxer for 5 years) can pay the rent in a better part of the mainland. You have a baby, the baby stays at home till he/she is at least a year old (I don't know about you or your kids readers, but I started school (pre-school) at the age of 1). During that time your baby is at home, from not spending your money on relaxers, you save at least N8000 and you can use that to send your kid to an okay-enough (not so good, though), school once the kid is of age. That's better than the kid sitting at home or running around in dirt and filth watching crime and a whole lot of other things.

It just irritates me that I was born into a very different life than theirs. Our worlds are like on two separate spectrums yet, I can think of this and they can't?

The next time, I hear someone say, "I don't have money," or "the money isn't coming," or "please give me money" in this country and I see a relaxer in their hair (relaxed hair), I am going to be so pissed.

Save your money, boo!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mini Twists - Tips

Random picture off Google Images


So, the other day, my mum came home from work and was like, "can you help me twist up my hair?" Being the lovely little teen I am, I said, "sure!" I climbed up on the back of the couch and mini twisted her hair.
My mum's an interior decorator/CSD/HRM. I'm letting you know that so you know that this style does work in a professional setting.

Things I used:

  • Water (in a spray bottle)
  • Coconut oil
  • Eco Styler Gel (Olive Oil)

Okay, so, firstly, I hate seeing scalp-y twists so I decided to avoid that and section out her hair diagonally (north-eastwards \ ). What that did was that it let the twist above it cover up the scalp area exposed from sectioning/parting the hair.

My mum's still transitioning so, one thing those transitioning should know is that your relaxed hair might (most likely will) unravel. Therefore, the smaller the twists, the better and a gel would be good as it will hold the twists in place once dry.

So, I parted my mum's hair across (-) starting from the back and held off the rest of her hair with metal-free ponytail holders then I got a section of hair from the part I got out using my diagonal method and held off the rest of the hair with an ouchless band. I sprayed her hair with some water then got some gel onto her hair (by just touching the surface of the gel with my index-finger tip) then I sealed with coconut oil. Don't do that. From the first twist, I noticed that that process made her hair way too slippery so it was hard to get a hold on her hair to twist it up. Here's what to do (what I did with the rest of the twists), part the hair diagonally, spray it with water then seal it with the coconut oil and work the gel in over it smoothing the hair out downwards then begin to to twist the hair and repeat this with the rest of the hair you sectioned out when you parted the hair diagonally. One you're done with the first row, part the hair across again (above the row you just finished making twists in) and repeat the above process, but please note that when parting the hair diagonally, the end off the part (the bottom of this stroke \) should be at the top-centre of the twist in the row done below. Repeat these processes with the rest of the hair.

Now, I don't really fancy mini twists at the front of the hair unless there are extensions in the hair. Why? I don't really know, I just do. Anyways, due to the shape of my mum's head, I also didn't fancy this, I guess because her edges are still rather thin and quite short (that's the only area her hair is short. It's like BSL and then a quarter of a toothpick length hair at the edges). Anyways, so, I flat twisted the front of het hair about the size of each section for a single twist.

After twisting up her hair, I redid the relaxed bits that came loose without adding product then I sprayed her entire head of hair lightly with water and raked my hands through her twists and ran my hands down her hair lightly with coconut oil. I did this because I remembered that my hair and her hair got rather dry the first time we used the Eco Styler Gel.

Anyways, so, by the next day (I got her hair done in the evening), her twists were nice and super soft and everyone liked it (well, apart from my brother, but he only said he didn't 'cause he knew that I was the one who did it.....siblings! never will understand them! haha :) ). Her hair was dry and the twists (well, apart from about 3 or 4) held pretty well even at the relaxed ends.

Hope this helps someone! :)

p.s What are your tips, tricks and methods for mini twisting fully natural/transitioning hair?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My comb-free journey

So, I decided to go comb-free some time ago. Well, I actually decided to use combs less and well, not really use combs, I don't know how to explain it right now.

Anyways, for the past.....umm......2-3 weeks, I think, I haven't put a comb to my hair (I did today, though). I've had my hair in all sorts of things, messy bantu knots (messy 'cause I didn't part my hair, but rather just grabbed random pieces of hair and knotted them), flat twists and....yeah, that's it. I kept those in my hair on days I stayed at home and I actually did go out with the bantu knots a couple of times, but with them under a scarf. I've worn my hair out in flat twist-outs and I did the bantu knot out only once.

Today, I went to church with a flat twist out that I finger combed out and held in a low ponytail that I later on braided to keep stretched 'cause it was raining. I was one of the main performers (there were two of us that were the main performers) at a fundraising concert this evening and, well, I went for rehearsals with my slightly messy twist-out. When I was told to go up and change into my dress for the concert, someone made a comment about someone fixing up her hair and I just knew they were talking about me. Later on, the person whose house the concert held said something about getting someone to get my hair done up for the concert then another person said, "she doesn't need anyone, her hair's natural." I heard all this from a little room where I stood infront of a mirror taking down my bobby pins with my faithful knee high round my neck. I took down the pins and in random sections, I finally combed out my hair then held it up in a not-tight, and not made to be slick, puff and, oh. my. days! biggest puff I've ever seen! My puff was massive and beautiful! I was so impressed! And my hair felt so good. I did up my bangs to the side and everything then I stepped out and those ladies who made those comments about my hair earlier said, "I love your hair!" *smiley face!*

Going comb-free for a couple of weeks, my hair had time to grow and recover from manipulation and I lost way less hair to breakage.

My parents (finally) do not have an issue with my leaving the house in a twist-out anymore so, I can do whatever with my hair and not have to get a comb into it.

I am planning on going comb-free again for a couple of weeks, maybe till I'm in the plane heading back to the U of K. I'm considering getting mini twists done at a hair salon (I don't fancy going to salons much) next weekend and keeping it in for about 2 weeks (I think I leave in 2 weeks, not sure, I don't know the day, haven't started packing.....but anyways! :) ). After that comb, I'll wear my hair in flat twist outs again till the 1st of September then I might wear out styles again for a while then get mini twists done and in Jan, I'll switch over to my 1st weave in the past 5 years (my 2nd weave ever!) and have that in till whenever. I'm getting the Heat Free Hair (Movement) 'cause that looks more like my hair than any other weave and I want to embrace curls so I don't want a straight weave and I don't want something that looks so different from my hair.

Who's willing on going on this comb-free-ish journey with me?
I guess it's like a hair growth journey too, but anyways.
(Planning on BSL by the end of December or by early March).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

EBook Update

The first eBook is done....I think.
This means that its giveaway starts soon.
Details will be up ASAP.

My Plans

I'm using this as a reminder. From a couple of posts ago, you know I'm moving out and to England. So,  most of my hair journey was spent in Africa. The parts that were spent in England, well, I was still trying out products and stuff 'cause I didn't know what worked for me. Y'all know I'm into natural stuff right now, right? Back then, I was into John Frieda stuff. So, I'm online going through my Curly Emporium shopping list, finding things I'll need on ASDA and Tesco's websites (curlies in England, Tesco's got the oils, like, OH.MY.DAYS!) and, IKEA. I'm going to buy a potted aloe vera plant from IKEA. Fortunately, it's not expensive, just £3.50. This is helping me know where exactly I need to go to for what exactly.

As I said above, oils, whichever type, will be gotten from Tesco, Tresemme Naturals Conditioner from ASDA or Boots 'cause it seems like my BeeMine Conditioner has been discontinued (I'm considering revisiting the John Frieda conditioner I used to use so, I might buy a bottle from one of those places), hair accessories/tools (including hair shears) from Boots, I'll need to order Curlformers (I've finally convinced myself to try them) from Salon-Services, I'm considering getting sectioning clips from them too, shea butter will be sent over from Africa, satin scarves will be gotten at Accessorise, everything else I need will be ordered from BritishCurlies Curly Emporium.

One reason I put this up here is to help UK naturals know where they can get these things from. I've gotten stuff from all those places apart from the Salon-Services so I trust them. I'll just have to give Salon-Services a try and hope they're good.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

SammyWithTheBigHair Ebooks

So, I've considered and will soon start working on some eBooks. I already have one that's pretty much ready (just a little editing left to do).

I got this idea recently. A friend's mum has been having some issues with her hair and ended up cutting it all off. She's trying to grow it out now and has been having a bit of a hard time so, as usual, word got round about my wisdom in all things natural hair (haha, it's like anything hair, GO TO SAMANTHA! Free advertisement for me). So, she asked me about some stuff and all I had on my mind was the exam I had just gotten out from and well, I needed to concentrate on studying so, once exams were out, I knew I won't be seeing her often as I started ditching school (there was no point going anymore) so, I decided to type something out for her and print it out in a sorta book format and give it to her daughter when next I saw her and then a few weeks ago, an old childhood friend asked me about growing out her hair and haircare (she's mixed raced too and recently cut her hair really short and wants to grow it out) so, I just sent her the same thing I sent to my other friend's mum. I was then like, "Samantha, you can totally make this an eBook" and that's how the idea of making eBooks came out.

So, before Fall/Autumn, I will have more than one eBook ready. I'm thinking of giving out the first few as prizes in like a mini-giveaway (I'm sorry, I can't give out products in a giveaway right now, but I'm planning on being able to do that in future). Once the giveaway ends I'm going to put a price on the eBooks. This is how it'll go with every eBook I write. Prize -> Available To Buy.

For some of the eBooks I'm planning on writing, I am going to get some natural hair YouTubers and bloggers to write chapters or bits and pieces. Comment below with your favourite YouTubers and bloggers or send me an email with their names and channel urls or blog urls. They could end up being in the book. I have a few people I'm already thinking of and will contact them when I'm ready to write the book.

Oh! and send me a list of questions or things you'll like me to discuss in the eBooks.

So, what do you think about all this?

Moving Out and Heading Over to the U of the K


So, as some of you know, I've been living with my parents in Africa (while the rest of the fam is in England). Boohoo! Anyways, now that I'm done with high school and there really isn't much that has to do with education that I can be offered here right now, I'm moving to England.

Living in Africa had its benefits with the who natural hair thing. Y'all pay an arm and a leg for a little bottle of shea butter while my grandmother (my dad's mum), who lives here just goes over to a local market (which I do not know) and gets me some large supply of shea butter whenever I need it and it's cheap too! She has an aloe vera plant at her house too ( a massive one) and whenever I need some aloe vera gel or juice, I just go over to her house, ask her for some aloe leaves and I have a fresh supply of those for free! When I need eggs for a protein treatment, yes, I could go to a grocery store/supermarket, but my grandmother sells eggs too and I can get large ones from her and it's cheaper getting it from her than anywhere else that I know of. Yup! she's some super grandmother! I know! :) Where I used to live here (we moved to a neighbouring island), we had about 4 coconut trees and like oooooh.myyyy.goooosh that was some free coconut goodness for my hair!

You see, back in England, it's a whole different story. I have to search high and low or order shea butter or aloe vera gel before I can get my hands on them. However, with the coconuts, there is no downside 'cause the house I currently live in doesn't have a coconut tree so I pay for my coconut milk (and oil) and I'll continue doing that in England (only that I'll be paying less in England, which is good). On a positive note, I called my grandmother today and she's sending over some shea butter and buying some more for me enough for my to take along to England and have for a long time. With the aloe gel and juice. Yes, I like the freshness I get from my grandmother's plant, but I don't mind buying a bottle of aloe gel and juice 'cause the whole extraction process isn't exactly easy and aloe vera spoils easily especially when fresh and I can't bombard the fridge with hair products.

Another thing in England is that BritishCurlies is there. As most of you know, I order my products from BritishCurlies' Curly Emporium (online store). They're in England so, it'll be easier for my to get my hands on products when I need them. The weather too is a plus for me, since I went natural, each time I've been back to England, my hair has felt much better than it did here and I blame that on the weather and the pollution level.

Another thing is that I can get my hands on a wider variety of things in England like fresh lavender leaves and other things for DIY products and I can meet stylists who aren't out to give me some traction alopecia or rip my hair right out of my scalp. Matthew James, I'll meet you some day and you'll finally get your hands on my hair!

So, I'm getting my shopping list and cart ready so I get all that I need from here and from the CurlyEmporium ASAP.
All seems good right now :)

Let's see how well I handle things (especially paying for everything I need myself, 'cause that's what moving out comes with :) ).


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My (sorta) New Routine + Update

Hey everyone,

So, I know it's been almost a month since my last post on here. I have an excuse. Yes! And it's a good one. I've been laptop deprived. Yup! And my iPhone, for some reason, won't let me post anything on here. *sad face* :(

Anyways, so I'm here now and yes, I have graduated. :) Oh! yeah! so, I said I was going to tell you guys what I'll do with my hair for my graduation and prom. So, I had my hair up in a cinnabun for graduation and then for prom, I picked my hair out into an afro and pinned off part of the front-left-side. The prom do shrunk so bad at my prom, but it shrunk beautifully, people were still going, "I love your hair!" even after it had shrunk till it could shrink no more.

So....back when I was still in high school (which was like 12 days ago, I know, it's been so long since i graduated), I was so busy with exams and stuff (exams started in February and ended on the 12th of June - an almost daily thing) so I started to deep condition less and take care of my hair less. Fortunately, due to my previous regimen, my hair still remained moisturised and soft even without being deep conditioned weekly, it did need a protein treatment real-bad, though, my ends, those babies suffered :( Another thing is that I started to wash my hair less. Like I normally would wash my hair once a week and during really dry weeks, a sulfate-free shampoo wash during the weekend and a co-wash mid-week. Well, the shampoo and co-wash, both were out of my equation. Don't get me wrong, I didn't become a smelly-haired, dirty girl, my hair looked and smelt fine. I just didn't have the time to wash it and like I was always so tired so even at night, I wasn't really up for washing my hair and I didn't have enough time to do it in the morning. And please don't being up the weekend 'cause I was at school on Saturdays AND SUNDAYS too doing exams. During that period of washing less, I noticed something, umm.... dirt is good. Okay! let's just put that as "washing less is good" 'cause the whole dirt is good thing gives me the image of a dustbin, trash can, rubbish bin, dumpster, whatever you want to call it. My hair actually felt better without being washed as often and it stayed stretched longer. I guess it's because it's retaining nutrients longer and losing its oil less. I'm getting this vibe that some of you might be thinking up something rather nasty right now, so I'll just set things straight with y'all, I didn't go without washing my hair from February till June! Okay! so it's out there! I washed my hair a couple of times, just not as often as I usually did. Like I could go 3 weeks without a wash. But hey! I only washed my hair with a shampoo once every 4 weeks while I was transitioning (but I believe I co-washed between that, so it's still different, hmm..... but anyways!)

Right now, I'm out of high school (yup! :) ) and well....I've been sleeping so much. I'm still not washing my hair as often as I used to, but it's not as bad as while I had exams. Right now, I'm just letting my hair be unless I need to step out of my house. Like I had messy bantu-knots in for almost a week and even stepped out with them (under a satin scarf with a cotton scarf over the satin scarf).

It's been raining practically every day and when I'm rocking a short style (rocking some shrunken hair), that's a bit of a rinse for me. I would wash my hair this week, but I've got rehearsals for a fundraiser (concert I'm performing at on Sunday) and I'm heading out to the beach with a bunch of friends (something I haven't done in quite a long time) on Saturday I guess I can try squeezing in a wash after the beach 'cause of the salty water and stuff, but it takes a day for my hair to dry nowadays so, I'm not guaranteed it'll be dry by the time I'm heading out to church and I need it to be sorta stretched out so I can easily style it for the fundraiser.

Okay! So, I'm going to force myself to wrap up this post now. I'll just put up my sorta new routine:

  • Wash whenever time is found, but don't go longer than two and a half weeks before a wash.
  • Alternate between amla and BeeMine Botanical Shampoo (sulfate-free) or make an alma-shampoo mixture to wash with (weird....this just came to mind....."alma-poo")
  • Co-wash more often and with a conditioner and oil mixture.
  • Condition after every alma or shampoo wash with a conditioner and coconut oil mixture.
  • Twirl hair in random, but medium-small sections with fingers or twirl/roll and bantu knot (to secure) hair immediately after washing till it dries to aid the clumping (my hair doesn't clump everywhere and it usually loses it clumps especially when manipulated or it gets frizzy)
  • Finger detangle and style rather than comb-detangle and style,
  • Spray hair with a mixture of water, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil every morning and every night (ensure every night before bed incase the one in the morning doesn't work out) and seal it in with a 1p coin (never more than a 50p coin) amount of coconut oil (I'm sorry, but I don't know what size the different cent coins come in). This helps to keep the hair moisturised and soft. Oh! yeah and I have to caps of a bottle of Heinz ACV (poured the ACV in the bottle top/cap twice and poured it into a very large spray bottle that's half full with water).
  • Deep condition before every wash, with a moisturiser, with coconut oil, with damp hair, with a mixture of honey, mayo and an egg (preferably egg yolks) and deep condition with coconut milk (mixed with coconut oil, honey and cornstarch (cornstarch for thickness)) only when I don't mind getting myself and my bathroom messy.
  • Don't manipulate hair unless leaving the house and going for something quite important (that is not the grocery store/supermarket).
  • Rock twist-outs (flat and two-strand), bantu-knot-outs or a flat twist going through the ends of my hair whenever leaving the house. Avoid rocking puffs often (even though it's your signature style). Rock puff only when you have concert. Save 'em edges! (and ends)
  • Shower without hair covered (I usually left my hair with a satin-scarf on when showering to prevent frizz due to the humidity 'caused by the hot water, but right now, the steam gives my curls a wake-up call and helps keep it moisturised).
That's basically it!
(can't believe I just said that!)