Time Out with Extensions

I am trying to think what this is and if it is not in fact just an excuse for a vanity post. Perhaps? I LOVE the way these pictures came out. But, I will also share what I have learned having braids (or kinky twists) this time around. By this time, I mean since becoming all that much more enlightened about my hair and in tune with it.
I did the Big Chop in December 2009 and then stopped going to the barber shop in March 2010. I had cornrows with extensions for about two weeks in May 2010. Then, I braided and kinky twisted my hair for about four months between August and November (two months for each style). Since then, I have been rocking Afros, two-strand twists and my trademark Dukus.
Once again, my hair is at that nasty in-between stage when it is long enough for many styles, but not long enough for others. This was about the same time when I got tired of my hair last year. So maybe, it is actually just a time when I am ready for something else. In her hair science blog, The Natural Haven, JC advises against wearing extensions if you are serious about learning how to care for, style and manage your own hair. I really struggled with this one and then reasoned that I had earned my break because I have taught myself how to do so many things over the last few months. 
At the same time, I got worried that I had fallen into the trap of viewing my own hair as a burden or onerous task to be endured. In case this is what you are thinking, be rest assured that I love doing my own hair and am so proud that I have not only gained the confidence to wear my own hair out on a regular basis, but also to try new and funky styles and to twists and braid my own hair. My challenge has been frustration at what else to do with my hair other than twists and Afros. Hence, I felt the need to take a time out and let my hair grow, while I think about what else I can do with it. Perhaps this was a cop-out, but I was really tired.
One thing that I have definitely learned this time around is that it appears that I now know how to braid my hair, so the other day, in order to keep my hair off my face, I found myself doing a simple french braid. With kinky twists it is easy as the hair is not as defined and so mistakes not so obvious. For me, this is a plus as I get to practice and learn on my hair without it getting tangled, since the ends of the hair are extensions.

Lastly, I am currently in training for a 10km, although I am likely to downgrade to only 5km on account of being out of shape. My five times a week trips to the gym mean that I am sweating a whole lot and therefore my hair requires washing more frequently than the average person. I also really like the smell and feel of clean hair — this is why I wash my hair weekly, unlike most natural hair enthusiasts who go for the fortnightly or every three weeks regimen. Incidentally, also a reason I am not fond of weaves or braiding regularly, since you are “not allowed” to wash your hair for two months. Crazy!!

To get back on point, I have been trying to read up on the crown and glory technique which is basically a method of washing and moisturising your hair while in braids to minimise product build-up, breakage etc. The site is quite sketchy on clear and useful information, so I am trying to see what I can glean from other blogs to share with you. I did try to follow this when I did my two weave experiments in March/April/May of this year, but I did not follow it strictly. I am trying to do better this time, but have already erred by spraying my scalp with product every other day. This adds to that nasty product build-up, lint, dirt etc that results in having to cut off balls of hair at the temples. More soon…

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5 responses to “Time Out with Extensions

  1. Yeap, I'm still struggling to deal with my natural hair a year after my big chop. I've tried twist outs but feel/look weird in them so I find myself rocking afros or cornrows. I have decided to keep adding extensions to my hair until the reach a length that will make styling easier for me to deal with. I am in Nigeria and natural hair has not taken a stronghold yet as a fashionable and accepted hair style so everything about my hair has to be done by me.

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  2. I just got back from Nigeria and I'm seeing more and more women rock natural hair. One of my childhood friends, her family is Deeper Life and so she's been raised with natural hair all her life and she has decided to keep it that way. Her hair is very long and beautiful. She alternates between braids and just her hair. I think the best way to figure out what works well for you is to see what styles others are wearing (hairspirations) and to experiment with them (try cool and different variations), until you discover what styles and what looks are yours, and then just own it! Note that this look doesn't have to be just your hair, extensions can help create a look you'll love– Ty Bello is notorious for adding extensions to create that signature afro. What matters is how you take care of your hair.Let us know if you have more questions and we'll do our best to help you through the "in-between" period.

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  3. I have just come back from a visit to Mzansi. I kept getting stopped by people asking about my hair. There are several brands of extensions, but generally, you need to buy what they call Marley braid or Marley dread. Mine was by Janet, but you can also get something similar by Darling or Expressions. Unfortunately, I have never had to get my hair done in Jozi, so I cannot recommend a hair stylist. However, if you have the guts, head down to Hillbrow with a picture and ask any of the ladies who harrass you to get your hair braided outside the hair supply shops.

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