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Thursday, 10 July 2014

How dare you cut your hair?! My reflections on doing the Big Chop - #ORSHAIRvolution


"A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” 

Coco Chanel
 I've always been known as the girl with the long hair.

Of course, I have other attributes, other distinguishing features. But my hair has always been one of the things that others have noticed about me and commented on. Whilst growing up, I heard lots of messages about what I should or should not do with the strands on my head. 


"You have beautiful hair, don't put any chemicals in it!"

"Don't perm your hair and ruin it, like I did mine." 

"You know if you cut it, it won't grow back..."  

And of course, there is the classic line from my dad that echoes in my mind from time to time, laced with religious undertones:

"Women are supposed to have long hair!"

And on, and on. It's always been interesting to me how the hopes and expectations of others seem to focus on those with seemingly "longer" strands. In the grand scheme of things, my hair is not that long. But in my community and culture, hair beyond shoulder length can be seen as elusive for the majority, hence the spotlight on those who get beyond that point, and therefore, on me. I've always had the feeling that having longer hair in my community is a double-edged sword: it's a source of praise and affirmation but it can also be viewed as public property - everyone else feels that they have the right to tell you what to do with it, simply because it's such a focus of attention for them. And the worst thing you can do in their eyes, the ultimate betrayal... is to cut it short.

When I was 28 years old I went through a personal metamorphosis. I was questioning my faith in God, my role in my family and the "good girl " that I'd always been. I decided that I was going to be more real about who I really was and what I wanted from my life. And as a part of that, I decided that I would texturise my hair. My virgin, natural hair. I wanted to experiment more. I wanted the ability to do more sleek styles with less effort and without my hairstyle beung ruined at the mere suggestion of humidity in the air. I wanted to look more grown up (at least in my eyes). So I went to the hairdresser's, inviting one of my best friends to see my transformation. 

November 2008, just after my first ever texturiser


I was totally happy with the end result and the start of a new era for me. I definitely had fun experimenting with my newest accessory! I curled my hair with tongs. I cut a blunt fringe. I dyed my hair for the first time... and again. And again. 


This was how I looked when I curled my texturised hair - and in fancy dress!

This was me pre-hair colouring days with my fringe! I loved this look on me.


I really loved my hair with Red Hot Rhyhm by Dark & Lovely


With little knowledge about how to care for double processed hair, however, my locks suffered and broke. I cut my hair into an asymmetrical bob due to the damage. This was the beginning of my hair journey.

30 September 2010, the start of my hair journey

Four years later, here I am having decided on another major change: doing the Big Chop. This video explains a bit more about this decision: 


 

Ive never had a TWA before... Very few of my closest friends or family even have a concept of what the grown up me looks like with short hair. Much less me. Reactions to the news of my pending big chop have varied from expectant excitement to shock, disbelief, disapproval and sheer horror. So why on earth am I taking this step? 


For one, I miss the health of my virgin hair. When I see my new growth, my natural hair always has a gorgeous shine to it that the coloured and texturised sections just don't have. I use oils to add shine but its not quite the same. I wonder what it would be like to get reacquainted with the shiny waves I remember having, much like wanting to reconnect with a good friend you lost touch with a few years back. 

When I was natural the first time, my hair was always in protective styles (before I even knew what protective styling was): buns, mini plaits, twists and mini-twists were my staples. I never wore my hair out apart from special occasions and had no idea about the online world of information that was available about hair styling and care. Now I know more about natural hair styling options and products. I know more about how to use gels and oils, about defining curls, about curl patterns and the lack thereof. I know more about protein and moisture, and how to keep chemically processed and natural hair healthy. It will be a whole new phase of experimentation to revisit the hair I always had but armed with new knowledge and a fresh perspective. 

Maybe the most significant reason is that it just feels right. I always said I would go back to natural when I got pregnant with my first child at some point in the future. But then it occurred to me: why wait until some unspecified future time to do what I simply want to do? Why do we always put off our hearts' desires for another time? The time is now!

It is difficult to make a decision like this if you are firmly attached to getting the approval of others. And the good girl in me wants that - she wants to glow with pride from hearing comments about how beautiful she looks. But the grown up me knows deep inside that I am beautiful with or without my hair. That beauty truly comes from within. 

This is the current me, just before my Big Chop for Charity! Please donate HERE!

It will definitely be a visual adjustment to myself and everyone who knows me. But the lovely thing about the human mind is just that - it adjusts. We human beings are afraid of change, whether that be in ourselves or in others - in reality, though, it's the only certain thing in life. I'm looking forward to embracing this change; not for anyone else but myself because, after all, it is my hair.

I'm not claiming an indefinite return to natural hair. What I am claiming instead is the courage to carry out a desire I've had for a few years, with no specific plan as to what will happen next! Much like my life, I am not sure exactly what the future holds for me or my hair. But life is meant to be lived and experienced, not restricted by the boxes that we or others create. So I'm stepping out and creating a new beginning. I'm excited for this new adventure and what it holds and I'd love it if you'd join me. 

Love, 

Mary. x 

P.S. I am doing my big chop in aid of the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT). They work to promote bone marrow and blood donation from all communities, but in particular those from ethnic minorities. I'd be honoured if you'd support my goal by donating HERE. Thank you.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Flirty Summer Curls Tutorial and my FIRST EVER Blog Giveaway! #SummerHealthyHair




Hi #TeamHairObsessed ,

I am so excited about this particular blog post because it's my first ever blog giveaway, in association with ORS UK and their #SummerHealthyHair campaign!

In my last blog post, I essentially raved about how good the ORS HAIRepair Invigorating Shampoo is and you now have the opportunity to win it for yourself, along with the ORS HAIRepair Anti-Breakage Creme!

What does #SummerHealthyHair mean to me? Each of the seasons has its challenges when it comes to hair care, and summer is no exception. It is the time of year when all the hard work and care that you have put into your hair during the cold winter months is now on show. It's definitely the time of year to let your beauty shine along with your tresses. But that also means that your hair can suffer, being more exposed to the sun's UV rays, chlorine or salt water and just generally being more likely to get damaged due to less protective styling. For me, #SummerHealthyHair is about making sure that while we are enjoying our hair during the warmer months, we are also using the correct products to nourish our hair as well as using the right practices to keep our hair healthy.

This tutorial is on how I achieve flirty, bouncy summer curls with flat twists and bantu knots (also known as chiney bumps!) This works beautifully for me because it keeps for at least a few days or even more, it keeps my hands out of my hair for a while and it keeps my hair off my neck, which is key in the sweltering heat!

The products used are:




I absolutely love the bounce that my hair has with this style and I also get compliments for days! (Let's face it, who doesn't like a good compliment?) My hair is moisturised but not weighed down, and smells gorgeous! Also, the curls and shine really bring out the beauty of my hair colour. These products really work well with my hair and it shows!




Close-up with colour: don't the curls make the colour look gorgeous!



Giveaway



So, what do you have to do to win the Invigorating Shampoo and the Anti Breakage Creme?








The rules are simple:

1) Comment below telling me what you do to keep your hair healthy for summer.

That's it! The winner will be announced on 25th July 2014 - good luck! Open to UK residents only.


Until next time,

Mary. x

Disclaimer: This tutorial features products from ORS, namely "HAIRepair Invigorating Shampoo" and "HAIRepair Anti-Breakage Creme" I was requested to do this video on behalf of ORS. However, I was not given any money in exchange for doing this review, and all views are 100% my own.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

ORS HAIRepair Invigorating Shampoo FULL review! #SummerHealthyHair




I've had the privilege of trying out this shampoo from ORS' HAIRepair range recently, and I wanted to share my experience with you all in this review. So here goes!

Price: This shampoo retails for around £3.29 - £4.50 per bottle in the UK.

Size: 370 ml/12.5 fl. oz.

Packaging: The shampoo comes in a very sturdy white plastic bottle, which is strong but squeezable. It doesn't say what plastic it is or if it can be recyled in any way, which is a shame. My only other issue with the bottle is that the opacity prevents you from knowing how much product you have left. Nevertheless, the presentation is very clear and neat, with the signature HAIRepair colours: red, white and green.

Consistency: The product is thick and creamy, both in colour and in consistency. It's possible that this is the thickest consistency of shampoo that I have ever used: however, the product is still runny enough to be used well. I show the product very clearly in the following video.



Smell: The shampoo has a very pleasant, minty, slightly herbal smell. The smell is really nice and adds to the shampooing experience beautifully. It is not overpowering at all.

How does it feel on the hair? For those with thicker hair like mine, it's important to wet the hair first and part the hair with your hands in order to make sure that the shampoo really gets to your scalp, due to the thickness of the product. However, this is totally worth the effort. The Invigorating Shampoo gives a gorgeous lather! Now, you may have to have a little patience with the lather, due to the fact that this shampoo is sulphate-free and the product is so creamy, but by the second wash, it lathers a whole lot more and has a soft, nourishing feel on the hair.

How does the hair feel after it's been washed out? My hair felt clean with no residue but also gently moisturised, with an uplifting smell. My scalp had a gentle tingling sensation whilst the shampoo was being rinsed out, which makes a nice end to a shampooing session!

Is this shampoo protein or moisture-based? The shampoo very moisturising but contains some protein (hydrolized keratin). 

Does it contain silicones? Yes, it contains dimethicone.

Does it contain any plant-based ingredients? Yes, the main plant-based ingredients are rosemary leaf extract, peppermint oil, coconut oil and olive oil.

How long does the product last? I've been using this shampoo on and off for about three months now and I kid you not, I have only used about a fifth (yes, a fifth!) of the bottle. A little really does go a long way, especially due to how well the product lathers. I think it is extremely good value for money. 

Can it be used for anything else? I would recommend deep conditioning your hair after every shampoo wash but I will say this: if you like to co-wash, I would tentatively suggest that you might want to try this shampoo and see how it performs as a co-wash, ie not following up with a conditioner afterward. My hair felt very happy after using this shampoo several times and I suspect it may work well on its own (though I've never tried it that way).

My final verdict: The product claims to "moisturize hair and refresh the scalp as it cleanses". For me, it delivered fully on this claim.

Final marks out of 10? A definite 9.5 out of 10! Despite my quibble with the packaging, the product itself performed for me every single time I used it and I absolutely love it!

Don't just take it from me, though! The Invigorating Shampoo actually won in the Best Afro Shampoo category at the Hair Awards 2014! A well deserved win, in my opinion.



I hope you enjoyed this review, I certainly had fun writing it. For more information on the Invigorating Shampoo, be sure to visit ORS here.

Until next time,

Mary. x

Disclaimer: This tutorial features products from ORS, namely "HAIRepair Invigorating Shampoo." I was requested to do this video on behalf of ORS. However, I was not given any money in exchange for doing this review, and all views are 100% my own.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Wash Day Routine and the Importance of Water Temperature in Hair Growth


My wash day is more of an evening and a morning, rather than a day. I just find it much easier to wash my hair before bed and deep condition overnight, and then do the rest the next day. It fits into my lifestyle better and gives me the chance to jazz my hair up with headwraps, which I absolutely love!

My wash day routine is pretty simple and has 5 steps: 

1) Moisturise and comb (detangle) 
2) Wash with sulphate free shampoo (sulphate shampoo if I've had a lot of product build up) 
3) Deep condition overnight 
4) Apply leave in and oil 

And then style...

Two of the products used in the video are:

-Creme of Nature Moisture & Shine Shampoo with Argan Oil (Sulphate-free)

 
-African Pride Shea Butter Miracle Leave In Conditioner



I LOVE both of these products and will be giving more details on them in the future. However, it is also important to note that even though my products do change from time to time, my routine basically remains the same.

I give more details on my routine in the following video:



One thing I didn't mention in the video was water temperature. Water temperature is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of hair washing and also one of the most neglected aspects. It's important to remember that warm water opens the hair cuticle and cold water closes it. Hair should be washed in warm (not hot) water! Even if your hair is in the dirtiest of states, it should not be washed in hot water, as this damages the hair and dries it out!

Additionally, after conditioning, the hair should be rinsed in as cold water as possible, in order to close the cuticle. This gives shine to the hair and ensures that the moisture gained from conditioning remains in the hair, as opposed to being blasted out by the scalding heat of the water! And of course, keeping your hair moisturised is what helps to retain your hair's length, so that you can see more growth. So please, for your hair's sake, keep the temperature down!

I hope this has been fun to watch and has helped you onto a happier, healhier hair journey!

Until next time #teamhairobsessed ,

Mary. x 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Natural looking blonde hair with Chestnut and Light Ash Blonde (PICTURE heavy!)





I have a few years of experience using hair (box) dye; some attempts have been successful, some not so much. One thing I have realised in particular with blonde dye is that I don't really like how it looks when my roots are a bright blonde colour. When I started to observe natural blondes, I started to realise that only a few of them have blonde hair straight from the roots. Most natural blondes have a slightly darker tone toward their roots which becomes more blonde further down the strand. This got me to thinking... What if I could recreate this look with box dye?




My hair was previously dyed with Dark & Lovely in 378, Honey Blonde, so I decided to use a slightly darker blonde from Dark & Lovely, Chestnut Blonde (380) to retouch my roots. My first time was definitely a success but I didn't film it. I promised myself that I would get it on camera for you guys for the next time, so here it is!


How my hair looked after retouching with Chestnut Blonde the first time, October 2013


This time, I did something slightly more daring, which is follow up my colouring session by toning with a permanent ash blonde colour. I decided to use Belle Color's Natural Light Ash Beige Blonde, as ash blonde is meant to tone orange down to a more muted yellow. This was added to my whole head, not just the roots.



Yes, it was slightly crazy to do two permanent colours one after the other, but I did take some precautions. After the first colour was done and rinsed out, I used Roux Porosity Control Corrector & Conditioner to bring the pH level of my hair back to normal. I am also experienced in dyeing my hair, so I know what my hair can take and what it can't. Please don't attempt this if your hair is weak or breaking!



I captured the whole process on camera, take a look here:



And what were the results?

The chestnut blonde application was quite browny blonde looking, but I left the ash blonde on for a little too long and ended up with some ginger tones which worried me quite a bit! We live and we learn, as they say!

After the chestnut blonde dye application


After adding the natural light ash beige blonde dye and leaving it on for too long!

Despite the orangey tones, the end result was actually great. (Phew!) My hair was a tad ginger for a few weeks but over time, the colour toned down to a more browny blonde colour, as I intended.

Hair colour result on dry hair

Darker roots with lighter ends

Flat twisted with bantu knots (chinie bumps) at the ends

Results of my flat twist and bantu knots, close up


View of flat twist and bantu knot out from the front: you can see the ginger colour! (Excuse the make-up, I just started using a new foundation with SPF!)


The colour improved over time, leading to really gorgeous results.

Colour results on wavy hair, indoors

A few weeks later, out in the sunlight

About a month later, colour result on straightened hair

About a month later, colour result on straightened hair


About a month later, colour result on straightened hair

As you can see from the pictures, it shows up slightly more blonde in some lights, and slightly reddish in other lights. I am more than pleased with the results and my next few blog posts will show how the colour shows on a variety of styles!

Thanks so much for reading #teamhairobsessed and let me know if you are making any hair changes for Spring/Summer 2014!

Love,

Mary. x










Friday, 30 May 2014

How to: Temporary Mermaid Highlights using Eyeshadow!




Whilst I am aiming for waist length hair, I would definitely say that I am experimental with my hair too. Initially the thought of losing hair due to some 'experiment' scares me but then I think about the fun that could be had with a new look and the fear just fades away.

One thing I am not afraid to do, and I think those #teamhairobsessed members who have followed me for a long time will testify to this, is experiment with colour. I LOVE me some hair colour! The mermaid, rainbow trend, however, has escaped me thus far. I don't know why. Maybe it's just the fact that I work in a school and want to remain somewhat conservative looking, or that I think it can look amazing on others but just isn't quite for me. Or so I thought...

Green is one of those colours that I naturally gravitate toward at the onset of Spring. I guess it's the sight of new buds are appearing and the sense that nature seems to be alive again. But green hair? Yes, I took the plunge (or at least a mini one) into the viridescent zone and combined it with another recent trend I've seen around, hair chalking. And I decided to do it with green eyeshadow. There are two reasons for this: 1) I don't own any hair chalks and wasn't able to shell out the funds for some at short notice, and 2) since eyeshadow is approved for facial use, I presume it can work pretty well on hair with less likelihood of allergic effects than art chalks.



I started out by moisturising and sealing my hair with ORS Incredibly Rich Oil Moisturising Hair Lotion, and sealing with grape seed oil. I have used this moisturiser since my natural-haired days and it has never let me down! It's thick and creamy enough to moisturise my strands well and leave them revived for days.



Then I applied the eyeshadow to my hair, as demonstrated in this video:




Well, safe to say, I tried it and was very pleasantly surprised with the results! I went for some highlighted streaks at the front of my hair and I think it worked particularly well for my current protective style, mini-twists.




Here, I have displayed a hairstyle that I think showcased the colour in an elegant, mature and more subtle way. Let's face it, not everyone is brave enough to go for a bold look or colour. But I think that this colour is incredibly beautiful on textured styles, as shown here.
 


To give a neat look to my hairline and finish the style with flair, I added some ORS Olive Oil Edge Control. This product works so well to make sure that my hairline stays set all day, and only a small amount is needed to keep those flyaways at bay!



Have you ever tried hair chalking? Share your pictures and comments with me, I'd love to see your version of this trend!

Until next time!

Love,

Mary. x

Disclaimer: This tutorial features products from ORS, namely "Olive Oil Incredibly Rich Moisturizing Hair Lotion" and "Olive Oil Edge Control." I was requested to do this video on behalf of ORS. However, I was not given any money in exchange for doing this review, and all views are 100% my own.

Monday, 19 May 2014

ORS' Hairvolution Event!


Me in my full ORS attire: ORS dress and necklace, and Kamanza lips!

On 29th March, a select number of prominent UK bloggers and vloggers were invited to the launch of ORS' new Strengthening and Straightening Treatment at All Star Lanes in Shoreditch. "ORS #Hairvolution" was not only the launch of an innovative product to the UK haircare market but also the first official engagement of ORS ambassadors in Europe, including me!

The new Strengthening and Straightening Treatment in all its glory!

The venue: All Star Lanes, Brick Lane

I arrived at the venue in an expectant and excited mood, particularly because I had never done anything like this before. However, I was also slightly perplexed: a hair product launch at a bowling alley? Arriving inside the building, however, I started to see how the slightly retro feel and intimate atmosphere made it perfect for mingling as well as demonstrating the product to everyone.

Goodie Bags!

 The sight of goodie bags filled with ORS products piqued my attention - this was definitely going to be a well attended event! I was also intrigued to see a table covered in bowls of different types of sugars, jugs of almond and olive oil (amongst others) and small vials of essential oils... I discovered that this was the 'Make Your Own Scrub' area and I was excited to try out my own mini cosmetics project later on.

The 'Make your own sugar scrub' table was a hit!



I got lippy with blue glitter from Kamanza!


A scalp analysis session in full flow

Some of the other features of the event included scalp analysis, 'Get Lippy' with Kamanza beauty and my favourite, the social media hub, where attendees could use the hashtag #ORSHairvolution to see their live tweets in real time on a digital screen and also view and print their Instagram pictures in minutes! (Oh yeah, did I mention drinks were all on the house too?)

Our Insta-wall!

All of these features alone would have made for a great event but of course, none of it would be complete without the live demonstration of the Strengthening and Straightening Treatment.

Patricia Ramgolam-Singh demonstrating the effects of the Strengthening and Straightening Treatment live!

The treatment is part of the HaiRepair range, contains extracts of coconut, aloe vera and wheat protein and is designed to help hair go from curly to straight in 3 easy steps. It is intended to make hair more manageable in the process but also, through the 360 degree styling formula, retain the ability to go back to curly easily and with no damage. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the live demonstration of the treatment included two models with differing hair types, one with finer, more wavy hair and the other with thicker, more tightly coiled strands. I feel that ORS have considered how to cater to a range of hair types with this product, showing an inclusive attitude to its customers.

The host getting the opinions of the models during the demonstration

After the straightening process, Attendees were encouraged to touch (yes, you read correctly, actually touch!) the models' hair to get a real up-close experience of the product in action.

The night was drawn to a close by a bowling competition and a chance for the ORS ambassadors to introduce themselves, as well as the presentation of some gifts to the European ambassadors.

Some of the ORS Europe ambassadors including Fatou (http://blackintheair.blogspot.co.uk) and Meg (http://www.myblackhair.nl)

All in all, this was an amazing event. It was wonderful meeting the ambassadors from Europe and there was a real spirit of cameraderie between us. I always do like to meet people from different places and I can say that this event truly felt international to me. And of course, it was fun to me simply because I got to talk to lots of people about my favourite subject: hair!

Keep your eyes peeled on an upcoming in-depth review of ORS' Strengthening and Straightening Treatment. Until then, you can check out ORS UK on their website, or keep updated with their Facebook page and Twitter.

Until next time #teamhairobsessed !

Love,

Mary. x