Thanks for stopping by! This is my corner of the blogosphere where I'm keeping track of
styles/techniques/products, lessons learned, my to-do list, and favourite links.
Feel free to offer any comments, feedback, or advice - I'm learning as I go !

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bye Bye Braids!

The Braid Komb

A while back I picked up this Braid Komb at a local Beauty Supply Store. I had gone in looking for Queen Helene Royal Curl Shaping Creme. Unfortunately, the QH doesn't seem to be anywhere in Canada, but I left with a package of 100 large-barreled black beads, the Braid Komb ($1.99), and change from my $5 bill.

I braided JJ's hair recently with 53 small braids and lots of beads.  I took out the beads using a seam ripper after 6 days, and left the braids in for a few more days. The braids probably could have stayed longer, but I was itching to try out the comb.

I decided to pace myself, because I am not a huge fan of braid removal. I decided to take out only the braids in the back section of JJ's hair while she watched Shrek for the billionth time. She watched, I took out braids, and before we new it, ALL the braids were out (except the cornrows on the side, which I left in). I wasn't keeping a super close eye on the clock, but Shrek is 90 minutes long, so I was pretty happy with that compared to the five or so hours that it took last time I did small braids.

In fairness, I made the braids a bit larger than last time. But the Braid Komb made huge difference. I used the first tooth to insert into the braid and pulled out 2-3 stitches at a time. The angle of the tooth is perfect for this. You can see some action shots of the Braid Komb on the website.  It was super gentle on JJ's hair.

Once the braids were out I spritzed her hair lightly with water and - ta-da! It shrunk right back up into a 'fro.

She rocked the 'fro for a short time, and then (while watching Shrek 2) I put in some flat twists for the week. 

JJ - second week of Kindergarten!
According to the Braid Komb website, online ordering is coming soon.... Meanwhile, I'm **very** pleased with this find (but still desperately seeking the QH creme....).

UPDATE: I stopped into the Braid Komb creator's salon today and met Sharon in person!! I told her that I loved the comb, and she promises to get those online orders going soon....!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bye bye beads!

JJ's beads from this style with small braids came out last weekend.

They'd been in for 6 days, which is by far the longest we've ever left beads. I try not to leave beads or rubber bands in for long because I want to take good care of those precious ends! But JJ LOVES to swing her beads and adores their clickity-clack sounds. She convinced me to leave the beads in for a birthday party on Saturday, and spent almost the entire party in the bouncy castle, clickity-clacking away.

My last post went into some detail in terms of putting the beads in, so I thought I'd also detail taking the beads out.

SIDE NOTE: My strategy for getting those beads in and keeping them in really worked because over 6 days of JJ's usual high activity level general not a single bead fell out!!

Over time I've tried lots of methods to remove beads, this is what works best for us. 

I use a seam ripper to cut the rubber bands. 

When I put a rubber band in, I try to wind it so the last that bit of rubber band is directly on top of the rest of the band, versus being directly on top of hair. (Hard to describe, will take a pic next time!!) That way I can easily cut the rubber band without worrying about accidentally cutting hair. 

The bands I used this past time also had the advantage that they were pink and purple, and very easy to see against JJ's hair. In the past I have often used black rubber bands which are more easily camouflaged in JJ's hair, but are harder to distinguish between hair and bands when taking the bands out.

I used Proclaim rubber bands from Sally's. They claim to be soft and flexible and do not cause breakage. I had pre-soaked them in coconut oil, which can sometimes make rubber bands weaker, but these did not weaken much (did I mention, NO beads fell out over 6 days!!). So once the band was cut once with the seam ripper it unravelled easily and the beads slid right off. In the picture below you can see my pile of cut rubber bands. What struck me was that I saw almost no broken hair, JJ's ends had not become tangled at all. 

almost no broken hair!!

In fact, her ends looked quite good! I tried to get a picture but my camera's close-up focus function refused to cooperate.  

Here are (some of) her braids, pulled into a side pony. The rest were in a pony at the back, but JJ (as you can see) was in no mood for photos! 

Very soon - as soon as I get time - I will update you on how much I LOVE my special new braid removal comb...  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Copycat "Style" - Inspired by CurlyGirlyB

I am super excited to be participating in this month's Hair Carnival!! This time around it's all about recreating each others' styles. I was paired up with Shelly, the author of Curly Girly B. Shelly is a mama who, like me, is trying to figure out how to best care for her daughter's curly hair. My all-time favourite post from her blog is this one, on hair care basics for curly hair. She covers a ton of important need-to-know info in one spot.

Side note: Shelly's taking a little break from adding new content to her blog, but do go check out Curly Girly B for some great info and to see more pics of B and her gorgeous curly hair!!

For the Hair Carnival, I recreated something that some might not consider a "style" per se; maybe more of a technique. But I was really inspired by a post where Shelly totally achieves beautiful, defined curls on little B. Here are her cute curls (copied with permission - thanks Shelley!)

Here's B: she is too cute!!!

I am always looking for ways to get curl definition - for both JJ's 4B(ish) hair and my own 3AB(ish) hair. 

When I saw that adorable photo of B, I was inspired to try her technique - she defines B's curls with a Denman brush.

One of the first tools I purchased on my hair journey was a Denman brush, since it seemed like the word Denman was mentioned in every other blog I read. But I never really got into using it. I found that I was finger detangling more than I was using a comb or brush. Because I am "curl-defintion challenged", my own hair spends a lot of time in a ponytail, and JJ's is usually in twists or braids, so neither one of use spends much time with loose hair.  
The A-Ha moment came when I read Shelly's next post, which has a link to a video demonstrating how to use a Denman brush to achieve curl definition. In all my blog-reading, I had never caught onto the fact that the angle of the brush would help to define curls. I'd just been using the Denman like I would any old brush.

I tried the Denman technique first on my own hair. Here is what happened:
My kinda frizzy, not very defined curls after a long day at work.
Freshly co-washed with Mixed Chicks Leave-In
Better definition with good Denman technique

As an experiment, I decided to only brush one side of my hair with the Denman brush. I left the other side to dry without brushing it (my hair had been thoroughly finger detangled in the shower). I took pictures of each side to compare as my hair was drying:

Dry hair:

No Denman
Yes Denman

Can YOU see the difference? It may be hard to see in photos, but I think the Denman side really was more defined. The curls clumped together more, and were generally less frizzy. Here is my Denman side the next day:

The next day - still quite defined!!
So what about JJ's 4B(ish) hair??

Well, I think there's potential, but the missing factor seems to be the clumping bit. Her tiny coils separate easily, and never seem to clump together well, even using the Denman brush. She has very "cotton candy" hair. When brushed, even with the Denman, even using the special technique, even using a variety of well-recommended products, I found it really hard to get her hair to clump together:
see the little defined curl?
Maybe I haven't yet found the right product.

Or MAYBE her hair - with its tiny coils and extreme shrinkage, can not do what I am trying to make it do? Which is okay, because I love what her hair CAN do - the versatility of her hair is my favourite thing about it.
yup, those are small coils!
just a reminder of the extreme shrinkage factor
Feel free to offer your thoughts on "curl definition" for JJ....... I'd love to hear from you!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Small Braids and Many Beads

Not long ago, we had an Unhappy Hair Day. JJ had worn her hair in small box braids for a few weeks, and the lengthy take-down time made us both grumpy. I swore I'd never do small braids again.

But - a couple of months have gone by, and I wanted to take the time to give JJ a style that would hold for a couple of weeks. Braids tend to last longer than twists for JJ, and I found a couple of ways to cut down on the total number of braids for easier take-down of the style. First of all, I made the braids a little bigger than last time. Secondly, instead of putting box braids over her whole head, I added some cornrows on one side. In total, there were 53 small braids, which seems like a much more manageable number.

JJ and I were browsing facebook photos and saw a picture of the beautiful Baby O from Intermittent Babbling - she had braids with lovely pink and purple beads and we totally copied the colour scheme. Our end result:


I am **hoping** that neither one of us has a temper tantrum when these braids come out. Besides the fact that there are fewer braids,  I recently picked up a comb that promised to cut braid take-down time in HALF. 

That is a big promise, and I am a skeptic, but the comb was only $1.99 so I took a risk. I'll let you know.....!


Often I add snaps at the ends of JJ's braids to secure beads. But I find that snaps and daycare do not mix well. There's always a little pile of snaps and beads waiting for me at the end of the day when I pick her up. I've decided snaps are for weekends only. This time around I used the tried and true method of wrapping hair around the bottom bead and securing with an elastic.

See how the black bead has a slightly larger diameter hole than the purple bead? I used this to my advantage to camouflage the elastics I used to secure the beads.

I used 3-4 beads per braid, making sure to use a smaller purple (or pink) bead at the bottom, and a black bead next in line.

After stringing the beads onto the braid, I wrapped JJ's hair around the bottom bead, and secured with a matching pink or purple elastic (pre-soaked in coconut oil). I then pulled the wider black bead over top of the elastic. The elastic is just barely visible, and it looks relatively neat.

I am happy with way the beads look, and NOT A SINGLE ONE has fallen out in 4 very active days at kindergarten, daycare, home, and  sleep. JJ has been wearing a satin scarf at night:

JJ just started Kindergarten and loves to "read" while swinging her braids around!