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

Crochet braids - the pros and cons

Lynda Moyo

After many hours, possibly days, surfing the Internet for crochet braids and subsequently going crochet braids pin crazy I decided it was time to give it a try.

Using Aftress bulk wave hair in F4/27 and T27 shades and Futura Cherish in DE27 (I use the darker shades underneath and lighter on top), crochet hook in hand I was ready to go. It's been a love hate experience and I'm undecided if I'll go there again. Here are my thoughts...

All about the base...

All about the base...

Pros

1. It didn't take as long as I thought it was going to. Once the base is done, the crocheting itself is pretty fast once you get into the swing of it. And you quickly realise that the underneath doesn't need to be as thorough if you're using curly hair like I did. The curls conceal a lot! As you can see from the photos above my base is quite simple. I did 12 cornrows going straight back on top, and then I did a spiral cornrow at the back. I then used a weave needle and thread to sew any tail ends down. 

2. It looks natural. I've had it in over a week now and no one has asked me what I've done to my hair. Hell, all but one person at work has even noticed it's any different at all! 

3. It's cheap. This cost me £14.97 for the hair (3 packs in total) and the crochet hook which is worth about £1 was given to me for free by the hair shop anyway!

The hair brands and colours I used...

The hair brands and colours I used...

4. It may look like Afro hair, but when it rains this hair does not shrink!

5. It's the perfect opportunity to experiment with colour without dying your hair, as I have done here.

Cons

1. Synthetic hair tangles quickly and it becomes annoying. I'm constantly ripping rogue tangled strands off. I'm permanently sat among tumbleweave.

2. It takes a few days to settle. When I first did my crochet braids, they looked 'wiggy'. They didn't lay right. I looked like I'd had a facelift because of the tight cornrows beneath too. It took about a week for it to feel like mine.

3. Windy days are a no-no. But only if you're lazy like me. I really should have done tiny invisible part crochet braids all over instead of just at my parting because when the wind blows, the full scale of my laziness is revealed!

4. You can't tie it up high. Well, you could if the crochet braids underneath were a little neater (see previous point) but then that would have took a lot longer.

5. It gets itchy like a weave. Pass me the knitting needle, damn it.

10 reasons why I love box braids

Lynda Moyo

boxbraids

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.

braidsbun

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

curlyhair

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.

curlyhair

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.