my first attempt | marley/havana twists | the process | pic heavy

The Motivation:

School is right around the corner for all three of us. Schedules are about to become super hectic. I have a full plate ahead of me. 

Therefore, I finally caved.

I installed my first set of marley twists. On a whim especially after seeing Jen's set {from Just Grow Already). And I love how my twists came out albeit with many imperfections.

Last year was the year of the yarn wraps. As gruesome as it was to install yarn wraps (20+ hours the first time), I enjoyed the styling break thoroughly. With this in mind, I knew the marley twists could not be any worse since I am twisting much bigger sections.

And was I correct! I installed this set in 9 hours.

I posted several pictures on Instagram but wanted to share in more details the process of my first attempt install here on the blog.

The Initial Research:

Just like I did with the yarn wraps, I watched several YouTube tutorials to get a better idea of the process. From there, I learned about:
  • the invisible root method versus the "braid at the root and then twist" method
  • lightly combing out the marley hair and tapering the ends to eliminate the blunt/bulky look at the ends
  • the rope twist method {roll the two individual strands in the same direction and then twist them in the opposite direction}
  • dipping the ends in hot boiling water, curling them, and burning them (I did none of these)
  • adding gel to help the natural hair to blend into the marley hair and to help smooth down the marley hair
  • clipping away strays near the bottom of the twists (I did not do)
The Hair Prep:

After watching the videos, I went straight into prepping my hair. I intend to keep these in for a month with a perimeter redo around the halfway mark. Therefore, I wanted my hair to be super clean, strengthened, and conditioned before getting started. I did the following:

  • Shampooed: SheaMoisture JBCO Shampoo (1 oz diluted in 7 oz of water in applicator bottle)
  • Protein Treated: Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor
  • Deep Conditioned: SheaMoisture Superfruit Complex 10 in 1 Masque (used HotHead heat cap for 30 minutes)
  • Moisturized: Coconut Oil and SheaMoisture JBCO Leave-in
  • Styled: Used 5 packs of Femi Collection hair (@ $5,99/pack in 1B) + Aloe Vera gel + water as needed to lightly dampen sections

The Femi Collection hair matched my own hair almost exactly in color and curl pattern. I initially was going to use the Janet Noir Marley Collection, but the store only had one more pack of 1B. Upon comparing textures, I found that the Femi Collection hair has a softer (only slightly) feel than the Janet brand. Here's a close up of the hair:

The Process:

Before I washed my hair, I was wearing a chunky twist updo and twist out.

After cleansing, conditioning, and moisturizing my hair, I was set to start. I wanted rather larger parts/twists to cut down on styling time. Initially, I was using 3 clusters of marley hair at the back of my head, but halfway through, I transitioned to 2 clusters. They were getting too big for my liking, and I did not want to have to make another trip to the beauty store for more hair. 

As I did more and more twists, I got a better grip of the rope twisting method. Therefore, the twists on the top half are tighter than the bottom half of my head. At the end of the day, I have all kinds of sizes going on and plan to embrace each and every one of them. I will say I gained a better handle on the invisible root method, and prefer the two strand twist size over the three strand.

Showing the difference between a rope twist and regular twist. (Don't know why the picture color is off...) I re-twisted a few twists already:

Finally done!

The Maintenance:

The plan is to keep it simple. I added aloe vera juice and distilled water to some SM Hold and Shine spray to stretch out the quarter bit that was left in the bottle. I will be moisturizing my hair with this nightly:

If I decide I need a cleaning at the half way mark (two weeks), I will cleanse my scalp only with diluted shampoo via an applicator bottle. 

The Styling:

Where this would be the most fun part of the process for many, I simply prefer to wear a high bun on the top of my head. Nothing more, nothing less. This style is mainly for practical purposes over styling. These twists are sooooo long so I doubt I would wear them down for too long. Since there is so much hair, it took a little work to get all of it into a high bun. Nevertheless, it is been done.

My Final Thoughts:

I love this style! I have always been a big fan of twists so this style is right up my alley. The invisible root method really gives the illusion of the twists coming straight from the scalp although it took me many tries to get comfortable with the technique especially in the back.

Unlike the yarn wraps, re-doing the edges of my head should not be time consuming. I am thinking between 45 mins -1 hour tops. I will say that I must be mindful of keeping my hair moisturized regularly since my hair is much more exposed in the marley twists compared to yarn wraps where my hair was completely protected from the outside elements. 

If I was to do these differently next time, I will do slightly bigger sections and somehow make them a couple inches shorter than waist length so I can enjoy the style down more. Oh, and maybe add a highlight or two (or more) in the mix. :-) This style gets an A+ simply on styling time alone. I am sure next time, I can repeat it in under 6 hours.

I will post any style updates on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience with marley/havana twists, leave a comment below. 

The Wash Day Experience

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the lost style files | the easy tuck and roll

A style for the time when you are not up to twisting but want to protect those ends. I wore this style a few weeks ago and found it easy to do. The steps:

  • On damp, co-washed hair, I moisturized and sealed my hair with SM JBCO Leave-in and coconut oil.
  • Made a part down the middle of my head. 
  • Sectioned off an area of hair in the front to create a side flat twist at the end of styling. 
  • Added a generous amount of flaxseed gel around the edges before rolling and tucking. 
  • Starting on the left section near the front, I began rolling the hair up and in, gradually securing it with pins as I moved toward the nape of my neck. 
  • Once I reached the nape, I continued to roll the section of hair until it rolled up onto itself (kind of like a super huge bantu knot). 
  • Pinned the rolled section of hair down to the scalp, making sure the ends are hidden away. 
  • Repeated on the right side. 
  • I loosely flat twisted the hair at the front of my head and pinned it into the roll on the right.
  • Tied my hair down overnight to set and smooth down my edges.

I did learn something as I was doing this style. I suck at bobby pinning. I had to remove some and re-pin them several times to get a nice secure hold. Although this can be considered a protective style, care must be implemented to not create too much tension around the edges from tight rolling or poorly placed hair pins. Other than that, this tuck and roll is a simple style when on a time crunch. Setting the hair overnight does make a nice, sleeker difference. :-)
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the cross over updo + a slight bang modification

Rarely do I ever have an idea on how I will style my twists into a style until the opportunity arises, but this cross over updo was envisioned the day before I actually styled my hair. The steps behind achieving this style were simple:

  • Starting at the nape, take a few twists on one side (left), and cross them over to the opposite side (right). Secure with a pin. 
  • Take a few twists from the other side (right), and cross them over to the opposite side (left). Secure with a pin.
  • Moving right above the first two sections, take some twists from the left side. Cross them over to the opposite side (right), and pin. Repeat from the right side.
  • Continue this pattern until you are out of twists (or until you reach your bang section). Use extra pins to tuck away any ends that may be exposed.
  • Note: I had my head tilted somewhat upside down for the initial cross over sections.
  • For the bang, I added four twists and pinned two down on each side to keep them stretched overnight. I covered my hair with a satin bonnet.
  • In the morning, I untwisted the four twists and fluffed them just a little for some volume.
This style was done on slightly damp hair to allow for a good set overnight.

Then the bangs became a bit much on my forehead at the end of day 1. The humidity did not make things any better so I created a pompadour to get the hair off my face and out the way.

For several days in a row, I wore my hair just like this...

...and then I took the twists down to wear my hair into a twist out. I really enjoyed the second look. Very retro-ish from the side. :-)
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the lost style files | updated scalloped box braids on z

After some back to back fiascoes with Z's hair and the pool {as mentioned previously}, I gave up on twisting for awhile and discovered a new found love for box braids. She wore her first set for almost 10 days before I re-did them again last Monday. The removal of braids can be tedious but detangling and removing shed hair was a breeze. I used the same parting so that cut down on the re-styling time and moisturized her hair with water and SM JBCO Leave-in.

She wore this style for another week and a half until I took them down this past week to wash her hair. She liked the option of wearing her braids into a low ponytail or a high bun. Being able to swing her length was a nice (and noisy--from the barrettes) incentive. I think I will be incorporating box braids more into the styling routine as Z proceeds into 1st grade this upcoming school year.

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wash day | new products | twist.tuck.roll style

My hair has been on a summer styling adventure if you have not noticed on Instagram lately. From twist outs to puffs and some protective updos in between, I can honestly say my hair has been quite manipulated over the past several weeks compared to my low key winter routine. After discovering a more efficient way to preserve my twist outs {click here for a pictorial}, I definitely could not pass up the chance to enjoy my hair "out" without the lengthy nightly hassle.

In my efforts to keep my hair moisturized from wearing it loose in the midst of this southern heat + protected during the frequent trips to the pool, my hair has experience quite some build up of hair product. I am certain my hair is well acquainted with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie (which is already a heavy cream product for thick hair) and coconut oil thus leaving me with weighed down (and oily) tresses over time.

Oh, how I love shrinkage!

With a super oily and dirty head of hair from a week (plus) full of twist outs and pool hair, a wash day was in urgent order once I got back from vacay. I just could not take it anymore with the greasy forehead! I was given the opportunity to try out two new products from Maple Holistics* to use on my hair so this wash day was particularly exciting! I was able to put these products to the real wash day test. :-)

Here's the low-down:

  • Pre-poo: None. Simply sectioned dry hair into four sections.
  • Shampoo: Used Maple Holistics Hydrate Shampoo (diluted 1 oz of shampoo into 7 oz of water in an applicator bottle). Focused on the scalp first before moving toward the ends. Rinsed throughly.
  • Conditioned: Applied about a quarter sized amount of Maple Holistics Silk18 Conditioner on each section starting from the ends and working the product up to the roots. Allowed to sit for 10 minutes before finger detangling and using the Knot Genie brush to remove shed hairs. Rinsed first with warm water then with cool water to help close hair shaft. Allowed hair to air dry for 20 minutes.
  • Moisturized: Layered hair SM Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Coconut Oil to "LOC" in moisture.
  • Styled: Created 20 chunky twists and pinned them into an updo. Originally planned to use some homemade flaxseed gel I prepared recently for hold, but it had a slight tinge of offness in its aroma, so I ditched that idea. 

The shed.

The style.

This updo did not last past one day before I changed it into another style. I really need to chill especially with classes starting next Monday. I will say I have been inspired by Jen of Just Grow Already to try my hands at Marley twists. Details coming soon!

*Not an affiliate link.
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wash day updates | faux bunning it | quick length check

One of my hair aspirations is to rock a huge high bun. But until then, I am going to work with what I have, and fake it until I make it. Ever since I have been going to the pool several times per week, I have come to the stark realization that it is quite challenging to maintain twists (even with a swimming cap) + I have very little desire to spend more than 30-40 minutes styling my hair. This is where the faux high bun comes in...

I have seen {this pictorial on pinterest} of the same exact style a while back but completely forgot about it until I went swimming one day before my evening class and had to come up with something quick to look decent in under 1 hour. Then it dawned on me to put my damp cowashed hair into a high side puff. I am not a fan of just allowing my natural hair to do what it naturally wants to do (mainly re-tangle) in its loose state so I began creating chunky twists within the puff and pinning them into a bun like formation to create this look:

Not the neatest bun, but I was presentable right in time for class. After allowing my hair to completely dry overnight and set, I had a more sleeker look that I wore for a couple of days:

Yesterday, I had {a wash day very similar to Z's} (using the same products) to help restore my dry hair. I applied my leave-in conditioner + SM curl enhancing smoothie on my hair (focusing on the ends) and a generous amount of flaxseed gel around the edges. Using one of my {diy elastic bands} (double looped), I carefully put my hair into a high center puff. I then created about 15 medium sized twists and pinned them in a circular fashion while using the middle twists to create a little volume in the center of the "bun" and fill in the gaps. I tied down my edges with my scarf to set for several hours and then I was good to go...

It's crazy how I was so stoked that I could do {a faux low bun} over 6 months ago on my shorter natural hair. Fast forward to now, I am breezing through these high faux ones. :-) This will probably be my go-to style for the next several weeks unless I come up with something creative, protective, and quick (key!).

This was the amount of shed hair from this week's session:

And finally, a quick length check {can compare to the my last one in January 2015}:

I am progressing along as expected. My next length check probably won't be until later this year if not December. Watching hair grow is like watching water boil (which is kind of cool when you add salt to the
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wash day update | scalloped box braids

We are in the thick of summer here in the South, and Z and I have been hitting the pool anywhere between 2-3 times per week. Along with some fun in the sun (and water) comes the tedious hair maintenance of our natural hair. After yesterday's 2 hour fiasco with untwisting Z's matted twists + detangling, I am swapping the twists in for braided hairstyles. That way, her hair (hopefully) will not tangle nearly as bad and her style would hold a little longer. She could not wait to for wash day because she was getting a fresh style. Plus, with her wearing braids, her length shows more.

Since the water has taken a toll her hair (and mine), I did a restorative wash session using the following products:

See how matted and frizzy her hair was after repeated wetting and rinsing of her twists? (FYI: Swimming caps do not keep the hair dry. Both of our heads get drenched with water.)

Her hair felt so much better after the protein treatment and deep conditioning. It had life again! I channeled my inner kitchenista side and whipped up a batch of flaxseed gel and leave in conditioner (google Kimmaytube's leave in recipe) for our hair.

I braided her hair (doing scalloped parting versus boxed) and added bead barrettes to the ends. Her hair has gotten so long! It took me about 3 hours to complete this style.

I plan to at least keep this style in for one week.

Q. How do you deal with swimming and your (or child's) natural hair?
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easy diy sunhat for girls | under $3 and 10 minutes

Recently Z has gotten into sunhats. We would go to stores, and she would try on hats for fun. One day, we were in Dollar Tree, and she spotted a plain sunhat and asked if she could have it. I told her yes but that we have to find a way to dress up the hat to make it colorful and pretty. 

We browsed around the store and saw the section with artificial bouquet stems. She suggested adding pink flowers to her hat. I offered the idea to incorporate some ribbon to her hat, and she picked out the pink and black zebra print spoon of ribbon (good choice!)

The next day after school, we went down to business. I heated up the glue gun, and she plucked the flowers off the stem. Using hot glue, I secured the ribbon around the hat, and she added the flowers in the position of her choice. Really, we were done in under 10 minutes, and Z has a hat that she absolutely loves!

Thought I would share this easy diy project that can be done with younger and older people alike!
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a simple twist out | progression of z's natural hair

It is always a special treat when Z wears her hair out. And when the wind blows through her twist out, she is on cloud nine! This was several weeks ago from an old twist set.

Here are some older pictures of Z and her twist out since September 2013 when I started to consciously take proper care of her natural hair. Click on pictures to be directed to the original posts.

September 2013:

Beautifully Curled: The First Day Twist Out

Beautifully Curled: The Two Day Twist Out

January 2014:

November 2014:

Oh, how her little face is changing, and her hair is growing! :-)  She is currently on the last leg of a twist set so I may do a twist out for tomorrow. If I do, pictures will be posted!

Just for kicks, she is in this sun hat phase:

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