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Afro and curly hair blog with news, reviews, opinions and tutorials from journalist Lynda Moyo.

10 reasons why I love box braids

Lynda Moyo


1. Ten hours of intensive hard labour = over a month of hair freedom. Amen to that.

2. They make me resist moments of utter madness when I think I want to chop my hair off! Growing your hair can seem to take forever, so braids can give you that length you want instantly (whilst you carry on growing sloooowly in the background.)

3. Same as the previous, but for colour. No need to dye it when you can just buy it.

4. Speaking of buying it…. braids are so cheap. Like £1.99 per pack of synthetic kanekalon hair.

5. They’re therapeutic to put in. For me anyway. I love sitting, watching TV, braiding for 10 hours whilst my husband brings me cups of tea and complains about the hair tumble weed all round the apartment. Oops.


6. My hair mantra in the words of an Alicia Keys song that’s absolutely nothing to do with hair, is as follows… ‘You gotta love it or leave it alone.’ Personally I have a habit of forgetting to love my hair, damaging it with the dryer, scorching it with the straighteners etc, so wearing box braids is me leaving it alone. It’s the best protective style.

7. Braids don’t end at just braids. You can wear them in a ponytail, bun, braid, wrap and the list goes on.

8. You’ll never get bored of them because you can experiment with different lengths, thickness and colour.

9. They’re in fashion again! I like to think I set the trend, not Solange. Been whippin’ mine with Brandy since the ‘90s ;-)

10. Braids unite. Check out one of my favourite websites for braid stalking, I LOVE BOX BRAIDS which also inspired my braids board on Pinterest




Wash and go with Cantu Leave-In Conditioner

Lynda Moyo


First up I wash my hair. Today I used Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner for dry hair. Nothing fancy or specialist, just what I had in the bathroom.

Personally I don’t think it matters so much what shampoo and conditioner you use so long as it’s for your hair type, mine being dry.

The night before washing I tend to douse my hair in any kind of oil - avocado, almond, castor, olive etc. The reason for this is so that when I apply shampoo the next day the shampoo doesn’t strip all my natural oils out, instead it takes off the oil I applied and therefore stops my hair becoming too dry. 

With shampoo I use a very small amount and put the majority of it on the roots and scalp. The rest will coat my hair when I rinse anyway.

I use a lot of conditioner. No not a dime size amount. Come to think of it, I have no idea how big a dime is. I probably use a dinner plate sized amount. I’m not even kidding.

I tend to leave conditioner on for five minutes after I’ve combed it through with my Denman brush. Yes that’s right I detangle with a brush when my hair is wet. Shock horror. I know this is an afro hair faux pas for many people but it works for me. In fact trying to detangle my hair when it’s dry causes far more breakage and damage.

After rinsing I then give it a good squeeze and put it in a towel turban. No I don’t dry my hair with a t-shirt before you ask. I understand the logic but my hair would take forever to dry if I used cotton and not towel. Again, you have to do what works for you.

I then section my hair in four and apply the Cantu leave-in shea butter repair conditioner, brushing it through each section with my brush. Again, plate sized not dime sized people. Saturate your head in the good stuff.


Now this next bit is what makes this a 2 hour 15 minute process rather than just a 15 minute process… I leave my hair to air dry for two hours. 

The reason for this is to avoid too much heat damage. My hair holds water very well. A bit like a sponge; you think it’s dry but it’s soaking inside. So if I were to use a hairdryer straight away I would be blasting it with heat for at least an hour.

Instead, by allowing it to air dry, I only have to subject my precious follicles to 15 minutes of heat which I think is a good compromise.

I use the hottest and fastest setting on my dryer so I’m not prolonging the agony anti-heat squad. I focus the dryer on the wet areas which tend to be my roots. I grab sections of my hair and pull them taut whilst drying to get some length back to my shrunken wet hair. I also turn my head upside down and dry it some more to gain volume.


How to take box braids out quickly

Lynda Moyo

When you’ve spent ten hours putting your box braids in, the last thing you want is to sit there for another ten taking them out. Well over the years I’ve managed to pick up some speed when it comes to removing braids. I don’t use a comb or any props, just my two index fingers (preferably with longish nails). 

Holding the braid with the rest of my fingers, I alternate my index fingers through the centre of the braid, dragging them down until they’re off the end of the braid. It’s kind of like climbing a ladder and as you get better at it, you’ll pick up a rhythm and speed.

It now takes me about 30 seconds to take out one braid and about an hour for the whole head.

At the end of each braid I always separate the roots of my own hair, especially where it’s collected dust and dirt. If you don’t do this you’ll have a tougher job detangling it later trust me! With afro hair it’s always better to work in small sections no matter what you’re doing.

By the way, I tend to take my braids out after they’ve been in a maximum of 6 weeks. Any longer than this and the roots become so filthy and matted. I find this is a good amount of time to leave for healthy hair and to see some growth. And if you really want to see mega growth, braid your hair, leave it in for 6 weeks, take it out, rest it for a week, put it back in braids for 6 weeks. Repeat this cycle for a year and you’ll see amazing length results from keeping your hair protected. 

Zoe Kravitz 90s braids revival

Lynda Moyo

I’ve always loved Zoe Kravitz’s overall style, but if I’m completely honest her hair has taken a little while to join the party. 

In many past pics it’s looked over processed and unloved. I blame Hollywood. 

Luckily over the last year or two Zoe seems to have realised, just as I did at her age, that if she wants to have hair by the time she’s 30 something's got to give. 

Alas, for the past year she’s been aboard the box braid bandwagon, resting her broken, damaged lifeless hair while finding a style that still screams KRAVITZ.

Zoe Kravitz before (damaged relaxed hair) and after (protective braids)

Zoe Kravitz before (damaged relaxed hair) and after (protective braids)

And now of course she’s adapted standard box braids and created her own trend… these easy, breezy, flowy, Zoe braids and here I am braiding in a look I thought I’d seen the last of…

You see I’m a teeny weeny bit older than Zoe and therefore I’ve been here before. Below are three images of me from the 90s wearing braids with the ends left out.

90s baby!

90s baby!

Not as great as Zoe's but en vogue at the time nonetheless. We were all at it. Me, Brandy, Beyonce. All the cool 90s kids ;-)

The 2016 version is a much more effortless look. Less blunt spiral curls, block colours and shiny plastic Barbie hair. More free-flowing, hippy chic with tapered ends. 

The 2016 boho braids revival

The 2016 boho braids revival

I never thought I’d say it, but I’m so glad these braids have been given new life as they’re so much quicker to braid than full box braids. Here’s how I did them…

#MCM: Corinne Bailey Rae

Lynda Moyo

Corinne Bailey Rae in 2016

Corinne Bailey Rae in 2016

Today's #MCM (Mane Crush Monday)...

Corinne Bailey Rae is back with new music. And new hair!

Actually it's the same hair as before just even greater than I remember it. Her new song 'Been to the Moon' is equally as vivacious. You can watch the video below.

Corinne Bailey Rae in 2005

Corinne Bailey Rae in 2005

I’ve been a fan of this lovely lady since 'Like A Star' which I’ve just realised was released over a decade ago. In that time her hair has been as consistent as her sound. Always in some sort of twist out, always healthy and lush. The difference compared to 10 years ago is the length. If anyone could be an ambassador for growing afro hair long it’s this sweet song bird. Just look at how much it’s grown in a decade...

In 2011 she spoke to one of my favourite hair blogs, Curly Nikki, about her hair story. You can read the full interview about her hair regime, favourite products, mane inspirations and more here

Corinne Bailey Rae’s hair how-to for her staple style:

  • Wash it
  • Condition it
  • Detangle it with a big paddle brush which takes 40 minutes. I do it from the ends to the roots and then I put it in 4 or so plaits.
  • I plait the front section and then one in the crown and two at the sides.
  • Leave that for a day or a day and a half
  • When I take them down it’s in those loose kinks from the plaits but it’s still a bit wet so my natural curl kind of comes back in a but and it’s a combination between those kind of kinks and my normal curls. 

Will we ever see Beyonce's real hair?

Lynda Moyo

Before I get stung to death by the BeyHive, let me start by saying I absolutely love Formation and the conversations it has sparked. But obviously as this is a hair blog, I have to talk SHOP and so my question is this...

Will we ever see Beyonce's own "baby hair and afros"?

It appears to me that Formation was the perfect opportunity to ditch some of the wigs and weaves and showcase what lies beneath, but the closest we got to natural B was braid extensions. With charged lyrics, passionately defending her choice to quite rightly keep Blue Ivy's hair au naturale and the fact that black hair as a topic itself is so damn political, it would have been an even more powerful statement had we have seen her sans virgin remy. You know, I'll show you mine if you show me yours?

Beautiful Blue Ivy and her natural hair

Beautiful Blue Ivy and her natural hair

That said, this is brand Beyonce and I can only assume that she a) likes to have long blonde hair and therefore has to protect and hide her own hair in order to achieve that look, b) wants to maintain her public image which is sort of supposedly ethnically ambiguous, or at least created to look that way to sell to a diverse audience and c) doesn't give two hoots what I think.

Probably the latter.

Her hair is now an enigma to the point where some people actually believe that those silky blonde strands grow out of her scalp, which I find kind of disturbing. But as Ingrid Banks, an associate professor of black studies at the University of California said: “For black women, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you’ve got straight hair, you’re pegged as selling out. If you don’t straighten your hair you’re seen as not practising appropriate grooming practices.”

I guess my point is, given that Blue Ivy is mentioned in the song, it reminds me of when I was a kid growing up in a small town in North West England looking for someone, ANYONE, who looked even a little bit like me on the TV. And what I found was 90s girl band Eternal in their music video for 'I wanna be the only one'.

I sat there with my sister puzzling over how they got their hair so silky and straight while I was still being teased with 'hair bear bunch'. It just didn't seem fair.

"I want slippy hair like that" I said. And that was the catalyst for the relaxer addiction and weave obsession to follow over the next decade.

Fast forward to the Formation video and subsequent Superbowl performance and I had butterflies at the sight of bushy afros, braids and protective styles being viewed with the same awe. Oh how far we've come to, ironically, get all the way back to what was always ours.

But wait that's her afro! Na, that's an afro WEAVE. <sighs>

But wait that's her afro! Na, that's an afro WEAVE. <sighs>

It's not that I'm against relaxer or weave. Far from it. I'm not on a particular hair team. But as actress and fellow curly Thandie Newton so accurately summed up in an interview on 'good hair': "Ultimately the goal is to be free to do whatever you want with your hair. But what we ‘want’ is influenced by so many factors."

Andrea Pippins beautiful illustration

Andrea Pippins beautiful illustration

The whole hair story in Beyonce's Formation presents many positive factors. Disappointingly for me she wears wigs and weave throughout but nonetheless the plethora of different textures and styles she presents have certainly helped redress the balance I never had as a child - and one Beyonce clearly wants for her own daughter too.

For me personally, Formation was perhaps just one natural hair reveal short of absolute perfection.

Maybe next time hey Bey?

My real afro by the way. Before anyone asks.

My real afro by the way. Before anyone asks.