To Comb Or Not To Comb?

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This is the question.

And my answer? Not to Comb!

My super kinky, tightly coiled 4C hair doesn’t like to be combed.

I didn’t realise this at first, but time and time again, hair has spoken and finally, I am listening.

Hair shedding is mostly normal. We have countless hair strands, in varied phases of growth. It’s not odd to lose a few every other day. But what I deal with when a comb meets my hair is not shedding. It is breakage.

My Protein levels are fine, but almost every time I comb my hair, I am very discouraged by the amount of hair I have left on my comb, in the sink, on the floor. And I’m all about length retention this year. If I’m seriously looking forward to hair like this, stuck up hair

I do not need constant breakage. AT ALL.

The difference between Shedding and Breakage.

shedding vs breakage

Shedding is when you lose a hair, like a whole hair. You know you lose a hair when you see a little white bulb at one end. That fell out of your follicle. Hair can also be yanked out through violent combing, but if you’re combing your hair normally, chances are, a shed hair really just shed. On its own.

Breakage on the other hand is the cause of any other hair you see. Not a full strand, you see no white bulbs. It is half or one quarter or any measurement really, of hair that has broken off from a still existing strand. Unlike shedding, breakage doesn’t just happen in the normal course of life of a hair strand. It could be as a result of lack of protein or moisture, or from mechanical manipulation through combing and styling.

So you’re just not going to comb your hair?

Yep. That’s the plan. I’m not throwing away my comb oh. I’m just saying, maybe once a month? Only on Washdays? I’ll keep you posted.

Hmm. But. How will you keep your hair from matting?

I’m not trying to grow locs. I’ve found that for my hair’s detangling needs, my fingers are perfectly alright. My digits are as good as and even way better than any (wide-toothed) comb.

My fingers are able to navigate my knotty tangles better than combs. With them I can be much more gentle, and still get the work done.

The catch? Finger detangling takes time. And when worn loose and free, finger-detangled hair doesn’t look as smooth. I’m not a fan of the way my kinky 4c fro looks without any combing at all.

And when I have to comb?

I did a ‘How To Comb’ post in February last year.

But I think something about that should be different now.

We are told not to comb natural hair dry. This makes sense. If your hair is dry, brittle with no product in it (e.g. after you just take out a weave)

But, when we comb our hair wet, though it is easier, it is also in a vulnerable state.

So, what am I saying?

I’ve realised that when my hair is dry on the outside but well moisturised on the inside, (and somewhat stretched) combing is a much more pleasant experience. A lot less hair leaves my head when I comb hair in this state.

Even when I get a blowout before braids at the salon, though it can be a little aggressive, less hair is lost than when I comb right after a shower.

In my opinion, there are only a few hard and fast rules for natural hair and hair care. It’d be so much easier to not accept everything you read as absolutes. Be guided by their logic, but let your personal experience have the final say.

So guys. I want to know. Am I the only one that feels or has come to feel this way about combing or handling their hair? Do you comb or are you a finger detangler? What works for you? Please, share!

Love,

AB,

Xx

AB Loves: Jack 5ive Curl Activator Gel!

Hello lovelies!

Eku Keresimesi! Merry Christmas! I know I’m late, but I do hope you’re enjoying the holidays! 🙂 🙂

My hair is in a protective style at the moment (sew-in, Pro-10 Bohemian weave (like before, here) which seems to be ackin’ up in the Harmattan weather but I’m coping just fine). Yes, hair is hidden away under a weave but I’m here today to testify to the goodness of Jack 5ive Curl Activator!!

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Hairspiration Demi mentioned that this activator gel was a staple for her, and I made a mental note to myself to try it. I did get around to using it for the last 2 weeks before my weave. I was out of leave-ins so I got the activator from Favourite Supermarket on Marian Road in Calabar (for 1,100 naira. I’m pretty sure you could get it for 800 naira elsewhere though!).

Ingredients:

Deionized Water, Proplylene Glycol, Glycerin, Acetamide MIA, Carbomer-940, Panthenol, Potassium Sorbate, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Fragrance, FD & C Yellow #6

Worth noting:

Water is the first ingredient, and two humectants follow to complete the top 3- Propylene Glycol & Glycerin.

Panthenol is another humectant on the list.

This product is mineral and sulfate free, but it does have one paraben- Methylparaben.

Jack 5ive and Me

I tried this on wet, damp and dry hair and I have to say it works best on dry hair.

This Activator instantly melts away knots yo. Good slip for detangling and grrrrrrreat moisture! My days! Using it every three days between co-washes was enough. SOFT, well moisturised, easy to comb fro. No water or glycerine spritzes needed in between. I am in loveee!

In applying this product, try to achieve a balance. Too little may not be enough and too much may leave you feeling like it’s too greasy. I managed to find the right measure in between that was just right, after a few uses. With this gel though, I haven’t styled my hair. I’ve simply worn it in a fro- so I can’t say anything about this as a styling product.

It is a light gel, yellow-golden, but it’s transparent on your hair.

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Possible cons: I’m not crazy about the smell. It’s not overpowering though, so don’t let it blind you to the positives.

Most importantly, this activator gel is cheap and widely available here in Naij. As Demi says, Hi-5 for Jack 5ive! Whooop!

So, what do you say? Trust me, it’s definitely worth a shot!!

One last thing: for me it was simply moisturising. I have no visible curl pattern, so nothing was “activated”, just in case you’re wondering. The fro was just the same as usual.

one Jack 5ive morning

one Jack 5ive morning

In completely unrelated news, I was featured on Trials N’ Tresses last week. It’s a really cool hair blog, do check it out! 🙂 🙂

Have you tried Jack 5ive or any Curl Activator Gel? Are you a fan? Would you try one now? Holler in the comments!

May joy and peace, love and light be with you this season and always!

Love,

AB

xx

Le Shrunken Fro

Deep brown & kinks

Hey guys!

This week, Natmane featured me on her blog- Deepbrown & Kinks! In the post, I talk about my favourite way to wear my hair, the Shrunken Fro. I explain how I get my fro looking like this, and how I try to keep knotting down to a minimum.

Please check it out here!

I’m a little late with this one, but you could still nominate me for a Nigerian Blog Award in the Best Beauty blog category. Nominations end tomorrow, Sunday. It’d only take a few minutes. Thank youu 🙂

Love

AB

x

Curl Undefined

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Okay, so I’ve been a hermit for most of September (SO not complaining). What this means for my hair is that between washes, it’s in chunky twists, as big as I can manage at this length- which makes about 15 twists, maybe more. But when I have to leave the house, if I don’t feel like wearing a scarf, the fro comes out to play.

I spend an average of 20 minutes in the process of preparing my very kinky-coily fro for the world, which is really just how long I can take till my arm starts to complain. At this point, I set the comb down and start patting. I do appreciate a well-combed fro fluffed to perfection but on casual days, I don’t always want it looking “perfect.” At its best, there’s only so much my hair can take. Going the extra mile to comb to the accepted standard leaves me with a lot of hair on the floor. Enough to make me wonder if it’s worth it. I try to get it like that anyway, because I don’t want anyone asking me if I’ve combed my hair.

I was going to see a friend last week and after being in front of the mirror for say, 10 minutes, I thought I was ready for the world. Effortless fro, give dem! I was barely out the door when Mr. E asked “Why didn’t you comb your hair?”

I paused. This wasn’t like my mom’s carefully placed suggestions like “You didn’t comb the back or the side of your hair well, should I help you comb it?” His tone was almost accusatory. Ha! I thought about it and at first I was like pleaaaase. *insert mental eye roll* but Mr.E / Public perception won and I went back in for twenty minutes to further comb and tease le fro. World-1. AB- 0.

I’ve noticed that people love a perfect fro. Even when perfectly combed, the shape of your fro can disqualify you. My brother for instance, likes fros that stretch sideways but does not like fros that are heavy on top. O_o

With natural hair, it is too easy for people to accuse you of looking unkempt. Anything less than perfect is cause for alarm or concern or side-eyes. And this isn’t just non-naturals.

So many naturals (both those with some natural curl definition and those without) are on the quest for the perfect curl definition and of course, with that, gats have frizz control. Which is okay I guess (because yes, you aren’t hurting anybody), but some of us actually happen to like frizz (and shrinkage!) I like a perfect fro too, but sometimes, I just want it looking a little less… perfect. It’s like the general idea is: your hair is already naturally at a quarter to scattered o’clock, so try ehn, to keep it as close to perfect as possible. Solange steps out with an “imperfect” fro and it’s almost guaranteed to get natural hair forums and comments sections buzzing, some people even going as far as accusing her of not representing. Not representing what or whom, in fact? Even babies aren’t left out of this obsession with “perfect” hair. If Mama Bey was paid a dollar every time people had a go at Blue Ivy’s hair…

This is not a rant. I’m not waiting on the world to change. *Kanye Shrug* The Natural Hair Journey is a very personal one and there’s no other way. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not think the only way to wear an Afro is a perfectly shaped O. The next time I’m torn between myself and the world, I hope I win.

Now, for some fro inspiration:

SolangeKnowlesandAlanenjoyadateinNewYork

10th Annual FYF Music Festival - Day 2

Over to you. How do you like your fro?

Till next time,

Love,

AB

xx

HOW I COMB MY TWA (TEENY WEENY AFRO)

Hey guys, in this post I’m going to be sharing with you how I comb my kinky twa. 🙂

My hair is such a forest.

And I love it! :p

And I love it! :p

I’ve been asked a few times how I manage to groom my kinky hair. Does it hurt? Isn’t it painful? The answer to this is NO. It isn’t painful when you comb the right way.

Yes sistas, there is a right way to comb natural hair. The wrong way brings you pain and way more breakage. Breakage is bad, real bad, especially if long hair is one of your goals- like yours truly.

You cannot comb your kinky hair the same way you would if it were relaxed. I mean you can, but you shouldn’t. Don’t! It does not look the same. It does not feel the same. While relaxed hair is straight and the strands are easily separated, Natural hair is not straight. It’s all curly and twisty- some people’s strands are more tightly curled or coiled than others. Yes, like little springs or squiggles. Springs that get intertwined with each other, squiggly strands that love to stick together.

So, the right way to comb natural hair is really simple:

  1. NEVER comb natural hair dry! Not combing dry doesn’t mean it should be soaked o. A little bit of the science is explained in this quote below from BGLH. If your hair is as kinky as mine, I think you’d be happier not combing dry. My hair is about 4,5 inches long.
    Comb wet or comb dry?

    Breakage is likely to happen whether hair is combed wet or dry and the method you choose is really a question of preference and ease. Breakage during wet combing is because although hair is very flexible, its strength and ability to resist the force applied from combing is at its lowest. Conversely, when hair is dry, it is at its strongest but it lacks flexibility and therefore is likely to snap. The ideal condition for combing would therefore be when hair is mostly dry (about 80%) so that it is strong and pliable.  However, no matter what your preference, consider using some hair conditioner to increase slip and help reduce damage.

    Spritz some water on it, put in some moisturising cream or lotion, conditioner is your best friend! When you are shampooing on washday, comb with some conditioner to do your detangling before you shampoo.

  2. Wide toothed combs only! Here, this is what I mean by a wide-toothed comb.

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    Anything smaller than this is not meant for your curls!

  3. ENDS TO ROOTS IS THE MOTION, NOT ROOTS TO ENDS. Say it again “Ends to roots, not roots to ends”. With relaxed hair, you could freely run your comb through from front to back, that is, roots to ends. (Your roots are just above your scalp, where your hair starts to grow- and your ends are yes, where it ends) Natural hair isn’t the same. If you start combing from the roots, you’re going to meet some resistance. You can’t just move up freely, because of all the curls and kinks. That’s when it hurts. That’s when you put pressure on your hair and make it want to break.

So instead, you start from the ends. Comb the ends, and like that, gently move lower and lower till you get to the roots. You’re detangling and moving down step by step. By the time you’re done, go in the opposite direction and you’ll see you’ll have no problems. This is just to show you how it works. You don’t need to do that, but you can if you want- after the first combing the right way.

        4. OF COURSE, COMB GENTLY. You might not always have the patience or the time but as much as possible, try to wake up early  enough so that you have enough time to comb. It takes me about twenty minutes in the morning for me to spritz, moisturise, seal and comb. The combing takes me about 13 minutes, but it could be less for you. I tend to over-do.

I made a video of me combing for a little bit, just in case anyone doesn’t really get it yet. It’s my very first video (took me four attempts) and I was SO not the best I could be, but please forgive me, I’ll do much better videos in the future. Shoutout to my very own Clara Peters, my videographer, Iby!! And DJ Dilys for my previous attempts!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!

X

*the background music in the video: White Nights- Oh Land, Pizza & Burger- Sarkodie x Jayso, Disparate Youth- Santigold.