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Monday, October 13, 2014

Tales from the Roots: Chunky Twist out for a Stretched Afro

     I have been natural for over a year now, my last perm was on May 4, 2014. Since then I have been on a constant path of learning how to manage my the health of my natural hair while also learning to love and style it to my liking. Most of that learning took place after my Big Chop in January of this year. Since then I have had good and bad hair days but recently it seems like I have finally hit my stride with this natural hair thing. It is my opinion that the best successes with hair, any texture, natural or relaxed, comes with both trial and error and also embracing what you have to work with.        As a new natural I did a ton of research on YouTube and Instagram on how to style my hair and get that 'look'. You know, the curly, flowing, natural hair. fast forward a couple months down the line I realized that that hair was never going to be my hair. With that realization and adopting bits and pieces from the regiments of other natural girls, I began to have a better understanding of what works for me. 
    I took a lot of my current hair styling process from MyNaturalSistas, MissKenK, and Yolanda Renee. I suggest you check out their videos and their Instagram accounts for some great tips and styles for kinky, thick, natural hair. 
Now let's get into my process. I recently wrote a general update on my natural hair but in this post I'll be showing you, in detail, how I achieve my twist out and how I make it last for three and sometimes 4 days.

Wash Day 

     I shampoo and condition my hair every 2-3 weeks depending on my schedule. I have been using Herbal Essences 'Hello Hydration' shampoo and conditioner since I did the big chop. It's cheap and very moisturizing for my hair. I haven't tried any of the natural brand shampoos or conditioners because this works perfectly for me and it's much more affordable.

    I would say the conditioning step is the most important.  I apply A LOT of conditioner to my hair, especially the middle and back of my head, which are usually the most dry and difficult to detangle. I leave the conditioner on for at least an hour then detangle with a wide tooth comb while the conditioner is still in my hair. 
     After I have rinsed my hair I section it in medium to large sections and apply Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In conditioner, argan, coconut or grapeseed oil and eco styler gel to detangle and define my curls. Each of these three products are essential to use together, especially when using the ecostyler gel. Without properly moisturizing your hair this gel can leave your hair feeling dry and crunchy. This initially turned me away from using gel in my twist outs but I ultimately stuck with it because it is the only thing that keeps my curls intact for up to 4 days.      
     When my hair was shorter I used the exactly same products and technique, the only change is that I made my twists smaller then but now that it has grown out I try to use bigger twists.

     After my head is completely twisted I use bobby pins to secure the twists to me head. I take each twist, stretch it to the opposite side of my head and pin.
     Depending on what time of the day it is I will either let it dry naturally or sit under the dryer. I usually sit under the dryer when it gets late and bed time is rapidly approaching. When my hair was shorter it would completely dry over night but now it takes much longer to dry with the length and the size of my twists. I do not sit under the dryer until my head is completely dry, I only give it about 20 minutes and then let the rest air dry. 

Day One

     In the morning I gently untwist each individual twist and then I go to each strand and separate the curls. I try to tug on the strands and let the coils and clumped strands separate naturally. This decreases the frizz. After I'm done with this my hair still looks like the Cynthia doll from Rugrats so I go in my my pick and fingers to fluff my roots and make my fro more full. My first day fro is never as big as I want it to be because of the shrinkage from water but I just let it do what it wants. If you pick and separate too much you will have less curls for the following days.
     I like to wear my hair with a part now as opposed to the bows and headbands I wore earlier in my journey. I usually diagonally part my hair and use bobby pins to keep the part in place. If I didn't use the bobby pins my part would disappear by mid day. To finish my style I use Ampro Brown gel on my edges and smooth with a soft brush. I know a lot of people don't use this anymore but this is the only thing I have found that will hold my hair in place without it waving or curling up.

Day Two

     The key to get from day one to day two hair is what you do to your hair at night. I get asked this question a lot and the answer is simple. Do a Chunky Twist out!

      This is very easy and does not need to be neat. I don't even use a comb. I separate my hair into large sections, apply a small amount of Cantu Leave in, and oil if my hair is dry, and then two strand twist. Do not comb or pick your hair. If you only use your fingers to twist you will still have coil definition from your wash and added definition from the chunky twists. At this point I use the bobby pins again to stretch and secure the large twists to my head.

     This is now my nightly routine. I find that this is the only way to keep my hair stretched over a longer period of time. If I don't twist at least every other night my hair will become very shrunken which makes it difficult to manage and keep moisturized. In the morning I untwist and fluffy using the same method as I do on day 1.

There is always a noticeable difference in the size and appearance of my hair. The coils are looser but still intact, my roots are way more stretched, its easier to get a full afro.
The second day twist out is always my favorite. It's a happy balance between defined curls and stretched hair. It's always shiny and moisturized and easy to style.
At night I repeat the same steps from before. Chunky Twist, bobby pinned to stretch and a scarf. Make sure you only use a small amount of product. You don't want to get your hair wet enough to shrink but you also want to add moisture.
     When I am retwising there is no real rhyme or reason to where I part or twist the hair. In the front I try to keep in mind where my part will be. Those twists usually come forward and the rest are pointing downward.

Day Three 

On the third day I get the most fullness. Even though there is less curl definition there is still enough to have a unified afro. I pretty much follow the same steps, sometimes I change up the position of the part.

   This is probably the most stretched my hair ever gets without using heat. I never really blow dry or flat iron my hair so this is how I get a better idea of my length.

     I have tried banding my hair but I haven't had much success. Bobby pinning or smaller braids have worked well for me in the past, the only down side is that it takes 2-3 days to get the maximum length.

What's Next?

      After the third day I may or may not retwist my hair, Either way I will end up with the same results but less defined coils on the ends of my strands of hair. At this point I usually wear a puff for a day or two. Since my hair isn't super long I like to put my hair in a puff while it is stretched because it gives a more dynamic look.  And that's usually how I wear my hair during the week. On the weekend you have the option of washing your hair and starting all over or you can go back and do smaller twists to get some of that curl definition back. 
     I think I included all of my important steps. The main things to remember are: use the eco styler for longer lasting coils, bobby pin  you two strand twists for stretched hair and retwist nightly to maintain a big, wild fro.

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