Hi, My name is (BLANK) and I'm Addicted to Extensions

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hello lovelies,

Long, bodacious, thick and bountiful hair - in most cultures and societies - is something a lot of women crave. Women of all races are able to turn to extensions to achieve the illusion of fuller hair. Thick hair is a sign of health and beauty; and to achieve that outcome, we do what we must.

When it comes to our hair (African/curly hair - either chemically treated or natural) there is not only a strong desire for thick hair, there is also a strong desire for longer hair. Today I want to address that this desire,  and the actions we take, will definitely have an impact on the long term state of our hair.


I am yet to meet a woman in my specific demographic who hasn't had braids put in. Granted there are the rare few, but majority of Kenyan women have had braided hair and/or a weave put in at one point or another. In East Africa, we are fortunate enough to have professional braiders who are able to achieve the most beautiful and unique braided extensions. They are easily found, they are fast and most importantly they are affordable... oh-so affordable! As such, wherever you are in Nairobi, at this moment.. you won't go five steps without seeing a lovely Kenyan woman dawning a head full of braided extensions. When it comes to weaves, the price range is not as defined, but there is a weave for every wallet ;)

Not only are they a relief to have on (for long periods at a time), they create the illusion of thick, sexy, beautiful hair, and - should it be your wish - longer hair! What's not to love about them! Some would go as far as calling them lifesavers... and the best part is, come that day you take them off, you can't help but be proud of the natural growth you have gained. Ah, good old braids and weaves...


But then, come removal day, you notice something... your natural bun/ponytail isn't quite as thick as it used to be... also you could have sworn your forehead used to be at least three fingers width from your hairline, five - maybe six years ago, now its four fingers away! Mild panic begins to ensue... But you brush the thought off and enjoy your hair for whatever amount of breathing time you're used to before having your braids/ weave redone. 


Breathing time sucks... your head looks tiny and out of place. There is no such thing as a cute hairstyle - it takes over half an hour to try and look fairly decent each morning. The weather hates every attempt at looking cute and there is nothing in your wardrobe to compliment that ridiculous shrunken-head feeling you have going on. What's a girl to do! You start to miss your braids/ weave.... You recall the easy life you led not so long ago... you NEED your braids/weave and by golly you're going to get them done. May the good Lord help anyone who tries to get in your way. And So you get them done; and once again, all is right with the world.

Press repeat. This is a process set on permanent loop. 

I know I love my braids.... and... things..

There is a dear price to pay for all this... As time ticks on, your hair WILL thin out. There is no sugar coating it. The thick illusion you so crave will only take away what natural thickness you once had... and JUST like creamy crack, extensions become the only relief you can fall back on. 

I am not here to tell you that extensions are evil and to stop getting them done altogether. I just want to reinforce the sad fact that over dependence on braids and weaves will take their toll on the hair you so long for. This is especially true for us Kenyan naturals. Some of us rely on extensions as "protective styles" (we know we do!)... as earlier mentioned, they are so easy to get done, and the psychological effect is downright   addictive.

peaceofleyla:

secretofsecrets:

Feefa

Me! Another @bekahtopaz exclusive. Love.

Nyachomba and I have healthy hair (or so we like to think)... over the years we have managed to learn our hair and scalp to a level where we have come to master the delicate braid/ weave balancing act. However, we can't say the same for all of our readers without some hesitation. We have therefore decided to incorporate more 'healthy' protective practices into our regimen; hence the mini-twists and corn rows. We want to show you that, although braids/ weaves are the easier choice, they are certainly not the better choice when it comes to protective styling. I for one believe that braids should be seen as a luxury that you can have done on specific intervals/ periods. Like, December holidays down at the coast, for example!  

ohhyeaafashion:

teff-o-graphy:

- [30-7-12] - Peace! Here’s an outtake from my recent work with the lovely, Majorr, for a multi-talented, NC-based Artist by the name of, Norma Jean Benson. She reached out to me and asked that I shoot part of the look-book for her upcoming online boutique, which will showcase some of her vintage-infused designs (like the blouse pictured here), as well as garments (gems) acquired from thrift shops. The rest of the photos will be published in conjunction to the launching of her site. I urge you to stay tuned, however. This so happens to be one of my favourite photo series! x
Photographed + styled by:  teff, THE don.
Makeup by:  teff, THE don.

(via imgTumble)
how cute is she? source

That said, we want to invite you to join us. Let's form our own little Braids Anonymous help group... I must warn you now, withdrawal will be a b*tch, but we will be here for you, for each other! There is life outside braids/ weaves.

18-15n-77-30w:

theclotheshorse:

rosa photographed by cavaan

18° 15’ N, 77° 30’ W

We would like to know your thoughts on the matter.. Thoughts, questions and comments are welcome as usual.

Enjoy the long weekend my darlings.


Love.

22 comments:

BellaNubian said...

Hey girls, Love this post...I have been natural for 2 years but started a healthy hair journey late last year so I am now growing my hair natural and healthy..as for the extensions I so feel you cause when I have tried the braids my hairline has not been happy and frankly the thought of sitting for an extended period of time irks me to no end, also mini twists are scalpy on me so I'm kinda stuck for protective styling so will be happy to join the challenge and see if I get a go to style for protecting my ends..by the way did some mini twists and they look scalpy so will have to remove them in a day or two..smh. Thanks

Curly-Natural-Me said...

Guilty as charged *bowing with shame* It was just yesterday that i had two of my braids fall off from my edges....with some hair of course. I was so upset but i figured my edges always grow back, I have a small baby, I'm back to work & school...I'm really busy right now so the braids are a life saver, etc....you know, all sorts of excuses. This post couldn't be more timely.

Magicalnora said...

I went natural last year, and i've only braided like thrice since. I have to confess, those first 3 weeks for me are awesome. My hair looks great! I feel so pretty, then the dust and grime settle in and dandruff fluff and i start going :/. So I wash the hair because that gets rid of the grime, but it makes the braids start coming off. I try to do preliminary strikes by undoing the braids at the weakest areas, like the bits just on top of my ears, these ones rip right off if I'm not careful. But now, two months later and I can't stand these braids. I miss my hair, I know how unmanageable it is, but I cant stand the thought of losing more hair. My hairline is going to start behind my ears soon :/ Anyway, yes, I do support this support group!! :)

Magicalnora said...

I went natural last year, and i've only braided like thrice since. I have to confess, those first 3 weeks for me are awesome. My hair looks great! I feel so pretty, then the dust and grime settle in and dandruff fluff and i start going :/. So I wash the hair because that gets rid of the grime, but it makes the braids start coming off. I try to do preliminary strikes by undoing the braids at the weakest areas, like the bits just on top of my ears, these ones rip right off if I'm not careful. But now, two months later and I can't stand these braids. I miss my hair, I know how unmanageable it is, but I cant stand the thought of losing more hair. My hairline is going to start behind my ears soon :/ Anyway, yes, I do support this support group!! :)

Arufeni said...

here is the interesting thing...i was tired of having my TWA out so i braided my hair 15 days ago...and i MISS my hair. i can already see my hairline thinning and my scalp just isn't happy. i need more styles (like weekly do's) for my 5 inch straightened hair/3 inch shrunken hair because braids and cornrows are so NOT working!

Miss D said...

In total agreement ladies, we need a braids addict anonymous, i think the only time my hair is free to breathe is when I've just undone my braids and preparing to put fresh ones, i agree we need change but it is really hard. But thanks ladies for the timely advice.

Miss D said...

In total agreement ladies, we need a braids addict anonymous, i think the only time my hair is free to breathe is when I've just undone my braids and preparing to put fresh ones, i agree we need change but it is really hard. But thanks ladies for the timely advice.

alexia said...

Hey lovelies. I sent you guys an email sometime in may I was the miss I don't know where to start:-) thanks to ya'll am not doing too badly. Protective styling is a b**** for me because my hair is not very long and I hate braids . Am trying to grow my edges back. So HYFR am excited about this post want to see what we can come up with. Later lovelies

Sue said...

I actually don't like braid extensions that much, but I also like them....I'll explain: I don't like how long it takes to get them done and the take down process. I also don't like the extra hair, it means more weight if I'm running and especially when I'm swimming. Last year I actually bought a large lycra swim cap to contain them. But they are also so convenient! Get up and go style and they provide warmth in the winter! Trust me wearing cornrows in very cold weather is not a good idea! I have no experience with weaves.

I suffered thinning edges about 2 years or so ago from wearing multiple sets of kinky twists back to back. At the time it was even worse because I was also not really taking care of my hair at all :(. When I saw what was happening, I knew I had to do something. That's also when I found online blogs, it took a lot of work but finally things improved. To minimize hair loss/damage, I'd suggest avoiding tight braids, not wearing pony tails all the time, and wearing your hair down. You can have a scarf at the front so it's not in your face. And don't keep the braids in too long either! Right now I'm in Kinky twists. I've grown to like them in moderation. I like the natural look, you can let them loose and the manageable length (mine are shoulder length.) But what I really wish for are cornrows! One of my favorite styles. But alas, braiding is pretty pricey :(. There are a few cornrow styles one can do that will not look that scalpy, mainly updo type stuff.

Suggestions to break the addiction: Create a gallery of styles say on Pinterest or on your laptop that you can refer to when out of ideas. Use tricks like "sock buns" to add more volume to your real hair bun. Wear updos with your own hair. Try African threading with larger sections of hair. Used to see it done on many women as a kid. I'm sure, there must be a few people in Nairobi who can still do it. They would pin up the ends. Easy and doesn't take long.

Finally, how does one keep twists frizz free? I have tried doing them with my own hair and it lasts a week max. I prefer medium size, still abit scalpy but minis are way too time consuming for me...



alexia said...

And by the way what a rocking bod you've got there , saying this as I put my slice of pizza away. Keep it rocking!!

Kenyan Enterpreneur said...

....great post and a bod to match. I had avoided braids for three years but last month I caved in but only had them for three weeks and took them out once I noticed one hanging by a strand ,.......literally! My husband sags my braids stinks from day one, but that is not the reason I avoid them. The reason is the build up and them edges!

Unknown said...

i need a braids annonymous like theres no tomorrow. iv been natural since 2207 and other than two months when i wore my fro...im constantly in braids or cornrows. one thing i noticed is cornrows and constant applying of castor oil gave my edges time to grow back.whens the first meeting??????

Miss Vee said...

I so feel you Mary, my edges are bad from all the braids/weaves I've done. I will admit I hate the way my hair looks natural- 3 years natural 4b ,and at almost every salon visit I want to relax..I know I know...Rite now its out for a week and I am at work, but I dont feel as hot as last week when I had my braids on (I am experiencing the small head effect) so I just work on my makeup to make up for my hair .lol. I gave up on twists out, my hair does not cooperate, so just partly blowdry put an alice band or phony ponytails, sleek my edges and wear some bright red/pink lipsticks. Nonetheless looking forward to this challenge ladies:)

Mary said...

Ay Yo! I feel you ladies... Giving up extensions (braids/ weaves) is one of the hardest things to do consciously. But on the real, its one of those decisions we will have to make on an individual level. Knowing the repercussions of giving them up and preparing for it - that's what its all about. First thing we need to realize (at the risk of sounding SUPER cheesy) our hair does not define our sexiness... Look at Amber Rose! That woman oozes sex appeal like its going outta style! So shying away from extensions will not take away from the already gorgeous beast that you are!

That said, the sooner we stop wishing and uuh-ing other naturals on the internet, the sooner we will enjoy what we have! Nyachomba and I keep stressing that the "awkward" (and how I now regret that word) TWA stage is the MOST fun stage! It is also the make or break stage (literally).... if in your TWA-light days (oh I like that... POST COMING UP) you practice all the best hair care processes imaginable, your hair will not only grow long and gorgeous.. IT WILL GROW THICK! I for one am one of those ladies who would give up length for healthy hair... We learnt that length is NOT what being natural is all about, its about having beautiful healthy hair (whether naturally thick or thin). BUT HEED THIS WARNING FAIR MAIDENS! Should you abuse your TWA in hopeless pursuit of wishing and wailing, your hair will NEVER flourish..

I say we start with a discussion board (Facebook maybe?) and pick it up from there... On the bright side we are planning a event for all our Kenyan Kurlies (its been ages right?) so we can FINALLY meet each other ... what say you?

Mary said...

https://www.facebook.com/kurlykichana/app_202980683107053

BOOM! The Facebook Forum is up and running! :)

wanjagi said...

I have gone through the depressing receding hairline so I decided to let go of my beloved afro kinky braids. This year I decided I will do cornrows with my hair only, no braids, or if with braids, the ones where they start the lines with my hair then add the braid, to prevent breakage caused by the heavy braiding. I also tried out a really cool finger-curl hairstyle using Mizani Moisture Stretch...I had it done at a really cool salon called Black Butterfly in Westlands (quite pricey but really cool). I'm trying to stay away from braids but as the hot season is coming up and I wanna swim....I don't know. I'm all for the Facebook forum for us to discuss alternative protective hairstyles that will be kind to our locks.
I for one love my natural hair, I've learned to love it with all its kinkiness and mood swings and I wouldn't chemically treat it now. All I need is to maintain its health without butchering my ends and hairline.
I need help!

Suzanne said...

@Wanjagi i would love to see the pics of your finger curl do...if you 've got any....
love the forum idea!!!

wanjagi said...

I do have pics! Where can i post them? @Suzanne

wanjagi said...

@Suzanne, I posted on the Facebook forum. You can check them out https://apps.facebook.com/forumforpages/220251464655714/ea165df7-668a-4312-9bd1-9eb6a550cdf5/0

joan wanjiku said...

wooooohoooooooooo....i can't wait for the event..

joan wanjiku said...

yaaaaay...im looking forward to the curlies event.

Jasmine McPherson said...

Hey, is this still going on?