I saw Alicia Keys wearing these braids in Elle Brasil magazine. It's a protective braids style and Alicia Keys really suits it. And so colourful! In total these braids took me about eight hours. I used six packs of hair in total. Three packs of grey hair, one pack of vintage pink, one pack of light vintage pink and one pack of candy floss pink. You can find links to the hair and product I used below.
Afro and curly hair blog with news, reviews, opinions and tutorials from journalist Lynda Moyo.
I’ve been following the controversy and backlash surrounding Kendrick’s Lamar’s music video for Humble, namely the issues with the lyrics ‘show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor’ and the video scene featuring a model who, despite being a beautiful, natural and curly lady, has hair nothing like Richard Pryor’s afro whatsoever. You can see the Kendrick Lamar video 'Humble' video here.
I’ve read lots of different opinions on this debate, but the most articulate summary, in my opinion, can be found in the article Kendrick Lamar's 'Humble' and the Erasure of Black Women's Bodies and Voices on the blog Zizzi's Wardrobe. Go read it. She speaks from the heart.
Following her post, Zizzi and I actually carried on the discussion and both came to the conclusion that it’s the casting directors who are to blame here, as well as the artist for allowing his powerful words to be manipulated in such a way.
For the record, I’m of mixed race with long hair. Zizzi is darker than me, with the cutest teeny weeny afro at the moment. So in terms of representation, we’re pretty much covering the spectrum of this debate and share the same opinion which is that it’s high time the industry changed its beauty standards.
As Zizzi concluded in our conversation, “for the most part, the kind of girls who fit the description in Kendrick’s lyrics can’t even get their foot in the casting room” and it’s to that end that, rather than chastise the model who was chosen and berate her moment, I want to shine a light on some of my favourite afro hair models who do fit the description in those lyrics and coulda, woulda, shoulda been considered for that line of the song...
Would you just look at Nikia and her resplendent afro please? Stunning. I follow Nikia avidly on Instagram and I love it when she goes 'live' on there - more please Nikia! She talks about many thought provoking topics. She also runs BlackGirlBeautiful.com and a very fitting quote from the site is “Our textured hair is worthy of adoration. Beauty is not defined by the colour of one’s skin but the way darker skinned women are left out of mainstream conversations about beauty, you’d think just the opposite… Black Girl Beautiful celebrates our melanin, our bodies, our kinky and curly hair and our graceful spirit.’ WORD. Follow Nikia Phoenix on Instagram
Karly Loyce made history in her debut runway show for Celine autumn/winter 2015, by simply wearing her hair as nature intended. And I just love the campaign she did for them. So natural, so beautiful, pretty much everything Kendrick speaks about in Humble. Follow Karly Loyce on Instagram
Born in Jamaica, raised in Northern England (YES GIRL!) Alana was scouted in a shopping centre at the age of 15. According to models.com, ‘Having racked up quite the e-commerce client base with shoots for Topshop and editorial for Elle and Vogue Italia among others, this girl is ready to stir it up!’ Follow Alana Henry on Instagram
This is the model who posted an Instagram photo of herself alongside fellow models Maria Borges and Jourdana Phillips from backstage the Victoria Secret show in 2016. She wrote: ‘Our singing group is called the #buzzcutAngels #vsfashionshow #vsfs2016 #melanin.’ Follow Herieth Paul on Instagram
Mentioned above, Maria was actually the first EVER model to wear her natural teeny weeny afro in the Victoria Secret show in 2015. “I told my agent I wanted to walk in the Victoria's Secret show with my natural hair," Borges told Essence. "I was nervous, but I had to do it. When they said 'yes' I didn't expect it, but I was so happy!” Follow Maria Borges on Instagram
Lineisy was the only afro in a line of 40 slick ponytails on the Prada autumn/winter catwalk in 2015. Speaking to i-D magazine back then, she said: “I didn't expect this impact, I am just Lineisy Montero, a young girl from Santo Domingo. My hair has never been a question, it's always been natural. I didn't do anything special except walking in the shows. I see now that is a big thing for the fashion industry so I am of proud of it. If it changes the mentality in the business for models like me I would be very happy.” Follow Lineisy Montero on Instagram
Paula chemically treated her hair to make it straight as a teenager but stopped at age 16 according to an interview with frolicious.de. She said “In the modelling industry its all about profiles, for what the brand is looking for to represent their company. So if the client is looking for a blonde girl or a brunette girl I wont fit what they are looking for. But If they want an afro girl, probably I will have some chance. I love my natural hair because it is me! It’s how I am and how I was born. Be yourself, love yourself.” Follow Paula Almeida on Instagram
I think singer and presenter Jamelia would be absolutely perfect for this video. Kendrick’s lyrics actually made me think of Jamelia and her well-documented journey from weaves and relaxer to her fabulous afro. She actually celebrated her two year ‘annivers-hair-y’ recently and is starting a Natural Hair Series on her Youtube channel which I can’t wait to see. Follow Jamelia on Instagram
I came across this model randomly on Instagram and I just love her photographs. She's so edgy. According to an article on Okay Africa, her childhood “was enveloped in moments of solitude, surrounded by the deadly chaos in Rwanda. Yet, she overcame this tragedy and blossomed into a colorful personality.” What a star.
*Lilian is actually in the video already. Duh! Thanks to Nikia for letting me know. However, I would have liked to see her in the afro hair scene for sure ;-)
Camille was one of the models featured in the recent Gucci teaser campaign which appeared looking like some audition tapes. She was asked "What does it mean to have soul?" And she replied: "Part of black culture. I think of afros, the old school flairs, Soul Train.” She is so cute. And she’s British ;-) Follow Camille Munn on Instagram
I can't get enough of Goddess Locs and this time I wanted to try a different colour. This is mainly because I saw Zoe Kravitz had dyed her hair blonde (the obsession lives on!) and really wanted to copy but didn't have the guts to reach for the bleach! This is a good damage-free alternative if like me you don't want to dye your hair. Honestly, if you want healthy afro hair, dying it blonde is up there with relaxer in my opinion. Steer clear!
I thought it would also be useful to answer some frequently asked questions about my goddess locs generally whilst showing you my new style.
How much did it cost and how many packets of hair did I use?
This style really did not cost much as I didn't use human hair this time. I used one pack of X-Pression synthetic Ultra Braid hair (£2.49) for the base and two packs of J'Adore Afro Kinky Twist Marley hair (£5.99) to wrap around the braid and create faux locs. Both types of hair are colour 613.
How do I get Goddess Locs to look natural?
Take your time. I never ever rush my hair. But at the same time, don't try and make them too perfect. It looks more natural if each loc is unique and not regimented!
Do I wash it?
Yes and no. I don't like shampooing a protective style because I never feel like I fully rinse the shampoo out and then that can turn to mildew. Gross. But I do rinse my scalp with water regularly and I also use oils because dry scalp is the main culprit of itchy scalp. I like light, thin oils such as avocado, olive or almond oil.
How long does it last?
I make it last about 6 weeks. 8 weeks if I'm feeling really lazy. This might seem like a long time but I do it myself so that means I can refresh my edges whenever I want.
Is it easy to take down?
Yes. The taking down is the easy part because you can cut the ends off and just unravel.
Versatile to style, messy is better so it looks even better when it's getting old, it protects your hair.
None really, but I guess some people might find it quite heavy. Not me though.
How many locs do I have in?
98! That's quite a lot, but I wanted them thin.
You might benefit from watching my Goddess Locs tutorial here
Corinne Bailey Rae was in Manchester a few weeks ago as part of her latest tour to promote her album The Heart Speaks in Whispers.
Her venue of choice, much to my delight, was Albert Hall – an intimate, forgotten Wesleyan chapel in the city centre. The perfect ambient setting for her soulful, ethereal style.
I remember I was like the nodding Churchill dog the first time I heard her lyrics “sat on the front step getting her hair combed out and greased” in the song 'I'd like to' from her debut album, Corinne Bailey Rae, ten years ago.
It wasn't just the music I loved and her unbelievable voice, but the fact this northern, mixed race girl sang about experiences I could really relate to. It was a real punch the air moment for me and I've been a huge fan ever since.
Typical me, I've been following her hair journey as much as her musical one.
I actually featured Corinne Bailey Rae as my mane crush Monday back in February with no idea that nine months later I'd get to meet her (and her fabulous mane) in person.
Some famous people are a huge disappointment when you meet them in real life. I know this because I'm a journalist and have met many in my time. But I'm pleased to say she was as delightful as I'd imagined.
After her gig she gave me a big hug and her soft mane enshrouded my entire face. YES! (To be fair I'm sure she got a mouthful of my fro too.)
Her hair is all hers by the way. It's grown so long that I was convinced she'd sneaked a few wefts in there but I was totally wrong. She had a beautiful natural braid out going on.
“I love your freckles” she said zooming in on my nose and cheeks, before chatting to me briefly about hair, because that's just what we do.
I told her I liked hers, she told me she liked mine. And now we're basically BFFs. The end.
One part of that last paragraph might not be entirely true, but she definitely did ask me what my blog is called, wrote it down and said she would have a look so my work is done here.
Corinne if you're reading this, thank you for being so lovely and I hope to ingest your hair again in the future. Lynda x
Earlier this year when I'd only just started this blog I received a lovely email from Ibi, founder of The Afro Hair & Skin Company. She said she liked my writing style, my hair story and would love me to guest post on her blog. I was flattered. After all, it's normally well established blogs and Instagram accounts with tens of thousands of followers who get companies interested in them, not little old me.
Ibi said I could blog about anything hair or skin related that tickled my fancy so I used the opportunity and platform to share my experience of facing my fear of hairdressers. The post is all about me getting my hair cut to wear curly rather than straight for the first time in my life and how a good cut with a hairdresser who understands afro hair makes all the difference.
As a thank you Ibi sent me a couple of her products - 'Bloom' and 'Flourish' - and the timing couldn't have been more perfect for my freshly trimmed ends.
You see there's no point getting your hair cut and then not looking after it properly. With my aim to wear my hair as nature intended for the foreseeable future, I needed some new products to help me stay committed because in the past it's been too tempting to reach for the straighteners as soon as I feel like my curls aren't behaving.
The first thing I must say is The Afro Hair & Skin Co products look the absolute business. Clean and classic, they're basically nothing like any of the afro hair products I'm accustomed to. They're modern looking products for modern black women who aren't looking for a 'magical' or 'miracle' 'pudding', 'mayonnaise' or anything else that sounds too good to be true, but rather just something that's simple and helps keep hair healthy. End of. I've lost track of the amount of money I've wasted over the years in overabundant hair shops after being lured in by labels full of false promises.
I decided to test these new understated products on a twist out. I sectioned my hair and spritzed it with water until it was damp all over. Starting with a few squirts of The Afro Hair & Skin Co Bloom hair oil rubbed into my palms, I worked it throughout my hair from roots to ends as directed on the bottle.
You don't need a huge amount which makes it really good value for money, and I think Ibi has got the balance of oils just right. I've experimented with various oils in my hair before and had mixed results.
Castor oil is too heavy, coconut oil too greasy and avocado a bit too light. Bloom contains oils I'd never even considered; thistle oil, sweet almond oil, poppy flower seed oil, camelina seed oil, crambe seed oil and flaxseed oil as well as coconut oil. The combination works and the scent is sweet, earthy and fresh. Again, so refreshingly different to the pungent black hair products that seem to dominate the market.
For the twisting process I rubbed The Afro Hair & Skin Co Flourish hair butter into my palms and it really helped encourage the twists to stay in place without making them stiff or flaky. I also used it the following day when I was ready to unravel my twists and finger comb my hair.
Flourish tames stray frizzy curls with ease and gives you that defined look with such a beautiful natural looking shine. To think once upon a time I would have reached for gel or hairspray. Eurgh!
It feels good to actually use a product where there's not one ingredient on the list that sounds like it belongs on a bottle of oven cleaner. I've tried natural and organic products before and liked them but always ashamedly reverted back to the big uncaring brands.
This time I'm happy to say I'm totally sold. Ibi never asked for a review, but when an experience is this good it seems selfish not to share. I've spent decades looking for products that work. To finally find some and know I'm supporting an independent business with nothing but the best intentions for afro hair and brown skin from her own first hand experience, well.... that just makes it even sweeter ;-)
And by 'new black' I of course mean the latest trend, but also more specifically a trend among black women in 2016?
This week actress Sanaa Lathan has joined Alicia Keys in her no makeup movement.
And while these two women have been public about what they're doing and why, on the whole we are seeing more women of colour than ever toning down and embracing their full natural selves.
"What should be an enhancement has actually robbed me of my defining features, leaving me with half a face that’s more glamourous yet more plain, depending which way you look at it."
I too am not adverse to going makeup free. Sure, I may wear a bit of makeup most days, but I’d certainly never describe myself as ‘made up’.
That was until I asked my local MAC counter to 'Kardashianize' me. The sight of own face looking as smooth as a freshly laid ostrich egg, and just as likeable to crack, got me thinking...
Some women do this every single day?
Of course a good magician never reveals his secrets, but the illusion of beauty is now being proudly shouted from the virtual rooftops of the world wide web via Youtube tutorials rather than being kept to the confines of the beauty underworld.
Lipstick feminism would argue it’s about celebrating our choices in the modern age and eliminating social stigma toward wearing makeup, as one example. I’d say a woman who is just as happy to show her natural face as she is a fantasy face, is just as comfortable in either skin.
Korea and Japan also have huge beauty subcultures, namely Ulzzang a popular South Korean term literally meaning ‘best face’ and Gyaru a Japanese transliteration of the English word ‘gal’.
Staple elements of both styles include lots of dramatic makeup and contouring, contact lenses or circle lenses, dyed hair, false eyelashes and wigs. The results are often startling. Though fun when done for a one-off makeover, anyone choosing this type of cosmetic ethnic cleansing as a lifestyle choice needs to look deeply into their own sad circle lenses, to the heart of the matter.
It was actually the image below of a half made up face which left me so taken aback that I just had to try it for myself.
MAC with their vast collection of makeup artistry for every skin type and skin tone, immediately came to mind. Rising to the challenge of transforming my face unrecognisably, Olivia – a MAC artist at Selfridges Exchange Square, Manchester - set about using transformation techniques such as contouring, highlighting and enhancing. You can see the full list of products used in the box at the bottom of this article.
Speaking to MAC Senior Artist, Cher Webb about this new beauty buzz word ‘contouring’, she said: “We are seeing a lot more emphasis on how to create carved faces with strong bone structure. You can achieve dramatic results with sculpting makeup, defining the shape of your face and enhancing your features. Every element can be enlarged or decreased in size, look more or less prominent with products that are subtle and applied in the correct places.”
My husband’s reaction to my half face was simply “that scares me” while other men were equally shocked that it is even possible to create such an illusion. Many saw it as deceit in a way, but surely no more so than a Wonderbra, Spanx or people who Photoshop their own Facebook profile pictures? Makeup is just one piece to this puzzle of supposed perfection.
Female colleagues and friends on the other hand, found it intriguing.
Some showed concern for the fact that what should be an enhancement has actually robbed me of my defining features, leaving me with half a face that’s more glamourous yet more plain, depending which way you look at it. Others were keen to know how the look was achieved adding they can’t believe there’s no Photoshop wizardry involved. There really isn’t by the way.
I was also compared to Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange book cover, minus the bowler hat and two-faced from Batman. There’s always one.
But they do make a good point. It’s the fact only half my face is made up that makes it all a little too freaky. We’re only ever used to seeing the completed look, so the revealing of the process, in my case, exposes just how far you can go with makeup. Look at the made up half on its own however and, dare I say, if you didn’t know my natural face you might not stop and stare at all. It is in fact, a picture you’ll see multiple times on any given Saturday night round town. Now that’s a scary thought.
This experiment has certainly been an eye opener that’s made me appreciate and detest makeup more, in equal measures. There’s no denying, I love what I’ve learned about contouring throughout this process.
As Cher said: “The modern sculpted face is more creamy and three dimensional. Contouring is one of the most frequently left-out steps in makeup applications as it is a less obvious part of a makeup regime.”
There is however no need to eliminate defining facial features, such as freckles in my case. It’s our differences that makes us interesting and even top makeup artists such as Cher favour subtle enhancements over complete transformations when it comes to everyday makeup. She added: “I definitely think making the most of your natural features is key to achieving a wholesome look. Enhance your favourite elements so you still look like you.”
Seeing the two dramatically different sides of my face felt like an epiphany. It’s not only given me greater appreciation for my natural self, but also for the happy medium I tend to define as me on most days. When snakes shed their skin, they metamorphose into a new being and as I wiped the makeup off my skin, I too was shedding any physical illusions and subconscious beliefs I may have had about what defines a perfect face.
It’s also highlighted something we all know but too often gets literally glossed over in magazines. A point Cindy Crawford once addressed head-on when she said: “Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.”
Trowelling makeup on to hide what you can’t face certainly takes the joy out of makeup. So for those who do like to wear it, here’s my advice: Treat it like fine art. Invest in some decent brushes, learn the strokes, explore the one-of-a-kind canvas mother nature gave you, by choice not requirement. Makeup can certainly add definition, but shouldn’t define you.
Special thanks to Olivia at MAC, in Selfridges Exchange Square, Manchester.
Lynda’s MAC Makeup:
Studio Fix moisturiser
Skin Base Visage primer
Studio Fix foundation (NC42)
Studio Finish concealer (NC42)
Powder – Translucent
Contour - Studio Fix Powder (NC50)
Highlight – Prep &Prime Light Boost &
Blush – Dollymix
Brow - ‘Spiked’
Brow highlight - ‘Vanilla’
Eyelid – Chilled onice, Woodwinked,
Crease – Brown Down, Carbon
Eyeliner - Feline, Bootblack
Mascara – Extended Play
Pencil – Chatterbox
Lipstick - Inantucipation
Contouring tips from MAC Senior Artist, Cher Webb:
-You can use a concealer in lighter shades to highlight naturally as well as a darker foundation to contour. If you want your highlights to stand out go for a highlighter that boosts radiance like MAC Cream Colour Base in Pearl or Shell. This gorgeous creamy texture melts into the skin beautifully, leaving a pearlescent glow. Apply to the higher planes of the face with fingers or a MAC #195 brush.
- Contour shades tend to be matte textured and highlights creamy and illuminating. The two textures marry well together and are the perfect combo.
- Use MAC Prep and Prime highlighter to sculpt the higher planes of the face, such as; under the eyebrow, down the nose panel, cupids bow, and cheekbones. This technique instantly lifts and can slim down areas of the face.
- Contour the cheek area and temples with MAC Pro Sculpt Sculpting powder. It is a cooler skin tone shade that mimics real skin shades, bronzer shades look more obvious and more like a tan rather than a definition.
- Add a touch of MAC Strobe Cream to your foundation; this will instantly lift the skin giving it a healthy radiant glow. We use this technique on many shows at fashion week.