Doing my own hair (somewhat)

I’ve searched high, I’ve searched low – I can’t find any hair style that I like. I can’t find a natural hair care stylist who I trust to make me look my best. I don’t know why – in 2010 – it should be sooo hard to find a good natural hair care specialist.

I have a wonderful friend, Glenda, who owns a natural hair care salon in NC. If I was in NC I wouldn’t have this problem cause Glenda would be doing my hair. But that’s not the case, I live in the DC Metro area…

I decided it may be a better idea to do my hair myself. It’s not that hard and although I’m not that creative when it comes to hair, I don’t want a crazy complicated style. My fiance likes my hair down and to the side. I like my hair down. No one else’s opinion matters 🙂

I decided to do a short hair trial to see what I could do for myself. I’m going to have to do this again, though. Here are some pictures before I started:

I always start my hair by getting a fine tooth comb and scratching my scalp. I know that it’s not necessary for everyone but I LOVE the way it feels.

After I scratch my scalp, I get ready to wash. I usually do a co-wash but I am currently trying the new Rosemary Mint (?) shampoo and conditioner from Carol’s Daughter. The shampoo is rather thick and since I have dreads I decided it would be a great idea to dilute the shampoo. I squeeze a generous amount inside of one of those open tipped plastic bottles that are used for dying hair – you can get them at any beauty supply shop.

Supplies for Lock Maintainance & Styling

Supplies for Lock Maintainance & Styling

I use just enough hot water to “melt” the shampoo – then I saturate my scalp with the shampoo/water mix while my hair is still dry. It should be thick enough to keep from running into your eyes but watery enough that you can create a lather by rubbing the hair and scalp. I like to do this (I call it a dry shampoo) before wetting my entire head. This give me the opportunity to do a good scalp cleansing before I start my actual wash.

After I saturate my hair with my shampoo/water mixture, I wash my hair. After I wash (this time) I then conditioned my hair with the Rosemary Mint conditioner. This conditioner is pretty thick, too (though not quite as thick as I was expecting, considering the shampoo). Normally I dilute my conditioners, too.

Once my my wash and condition is complete (should have also done an ACV rinse, but I didn’t), I dried my hair, separating the individual locks. I used EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to give myself a hot oil treatment (but I also like to use Carol’s Daughter’s Lisa’s Hair Elixer) and then I started to maintain my locks.

I have dry scalp, so I almost always oil my scalp prior to doing my maintainance. Currently I am using Taliah Waajid’s “The Strengthener” hair oil. It’s medicated, so it has a heavy scent and it tingles. Have to admit, I LOVE the tingle! 🙂 I use this hair oil on my entire scalp, then I proceed to palm rolling (Palm rolling is a method for tangling the roots of your dreads and helping them knot and tighten. It works much better than “twisting” with the fingers. To palm roll you simply grab the dread between the base of your palms – tightly by the root – and roll it in a single direction – I prefer counter-clockwise. It’s a bit like rolling Play-Doh between your palms to make a long rope. You are doing two things at once: tightening the root of your lock that has come unraveled and you are shaping the rest of that same dread into a cylinder shape. Palm rolling works well anytime but the best time to palm roll is right after washing/co-washing your dreads).

When doing maintainance, I always keep a few things on hand. One items is some type of oil based moisturizer lotion. I’ve used several different brands of several different things, but one of the ones I love best is Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk. I’ve used it off and on for years. Another great item that I like to keep on hand while doing my hair is a water based hair spray/detangler/leave in conditioner. I’m currently using Johnson & Johnson Maintainance for dreadlocks is really best done on moist or wet hair. Depending on how long it takes your hair to dry compared to how long it takes to do your hair will let you know if you need to re-wet your hair while completing maintainance.

Since this is a bridal hair style trial, I decided to set my hair in the manner in which I plan to wear it. Since it is over one shoulder to the side, that is exactly how I set it. I made sure that I palm rolled AND set my hair in that same direction.

Setting Hair - Front

The way I set my hair for this trial was what I call a wet “braid out.” I call it this because I set my hair while wet by braiding it. The “out” part comes because I take out the braids (simple, I know 🙂

Setting Hair - Profile 2


Setting Hair - Back

After I set my hair I usually do one of two things. I either let my hair dry naturally and leave the set in for 24-48 hours OR I sit under a hood dryer for 3-5 hours.

Once my hair is completely dry, I removed the braids.

Braid Out - Front

Braid Out - Front


The set worked VERY well, if I say so myself :-). I love the fact that the hair is slightly molded in a side position. One of the things I noticed, however, is that my hair doesn’t really want to stay that way. The weight of my hair makes it want to fall away from the one shoulder look. I held it in place with a few strategically placed hair pens.

Braid Out - Profile 2


While I think my hair has come out pretty nice – I’m also glad that my friend Glenda will be there on my big day to actually STYLE my hair!

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Bill Lawrence Salon, Adams Morgan

So, I made an appointment for a new style with Marissa at Bill Lawrence Salon. Now – to be honest – I never spoke with Marissa when making my appointment. I spoke with the receptionist. When I spoke to her I made it perfectly clear that this was a wedding day hair trial and I had long locks. I told her I wanted maintenance and a full style – this will take some time so I warned her in advance. She told me to come at 1pm and quoted me a price of $100 for maintenance and $55-$65 for the style. WOW. I have to pause in remembrance of that.

I get there at 1pm. I felt pretty happy about my expectations because I picked a relatively easy style. Granted, the picture I had to show Marissa (which I can’t seem to find now) was of a white girl – but still, it looked easy. The woman’s hair was wavy – like she’d had it curled and then the curls brushed out – from root to tip and it was gathered into a low side ponytail. (My fiancée likes my hair to the side:-) My hair is mid-way down my back; I’d think it can do a ponytail.

When it was my turn to get started, I introduce myself to Marissa and explain what I was looking for. She gets a worried look on her face and says that she can do my hair like the picture but in the “interest of time” she wanted to complete my maintenance first.

Side Note – for those of you who don’t have locks or don’t get them styled. When setting locks for a style, it’s always best to set the hair while wet. When getting maintenance done at the same time this means one of two things should happen: A) the stylist is very fast at performing maintenance and will be done before the hair starts to dry or B) the stylist does the maintenance and the setting of the hair at the same time. If the hair is not set while wet the desired set will not be achieved. What makes this more difficult is that locks dry slower when being set – meaning that the stylist has to spend more time with [you] than a typical client.
The fact that she seemed so concerned about time bothered me a little, as it felt like my desires for my hair style are to be sacrificed to her clock.

Marissa is a sweetheart and I enjoyed talking to her. She seemed knowledgeable about her craft. She used rather great smelling hair pomade made primarily of lemongrass. It’s made of all natural products so I grabbed a container to test.
Marissa completed my maintenance in about an hour and a half. That was about 30 minutes longer than at Twist It Sista. I have to admit that I liked Marissa’s maintenance a lot more. She took her time and made sure everything laid flat and held tight.

Once she was finished twisting my hair she told me that she didn’t have enough time to do my hair exactly the way I wanted or even the way she thought would look best. She told me she thought my hair would look best if my whole head was braided, set, dried completely, and then unbraided. After that she would style my hair.

That was what she thought would make my hair look best. What she was going to do was to braid my hair into one huge ponytail (without even a ribbon to hold the ponytail closed) and tell me to use my imagination for the rest. So I’m bummed. She’s obviously not thinking things through. She braided my hair ends about 4”-6” up and sat me under the dryer. She never checked to see if the ends of my hair were under the dryer, I did that myself.

After about 30-40 minutes of drying (my hair normally takes much longer than that) she takes me out. There is no bend or curl or anything to my hair. She pulls my hair into a side ponytail and sends me on my way – AFTER she reminds me that my hair will look much different on my wedding day.

I know it will, since I’m not coming back.

Maintenance $100
Style $30
Total $130 + tip

Removing my Up Do

Well, I’ve realized that there aren’t going to be a lot of up-do’s for me. My hair is way too heavy and my scalp is waaay too sensitive.

First, the style itched horribly. It itched because she didn’t put enough (or any!) oil on my scalp. It itched because it was braided and pulled too tight. And it itched cause my hair was coming out by the roots!

No, seriously. Out by the roots.

Second, my hair was being pulled out. When I was getting my hair done, I told the stylist that my hair felt too tight, especially around the back. She told me it felt that way because I never wear my hair in that particular style. It would take me a little while to get used to it and I’d be fine. I could believe that – any girl who has gotten her hair braided has experienced this same phenomena. So I went home, expecting that it would stop feeling that way. Except it never stopped. The next morning the back of my head was a little sore – like it was being pulled. I oiled my scalp as best I could but the center was driving me mad. I kept reaching up to rub the back of my hair. But I was going to try to keep it in – since this was a trial for my wedding and I was going to wear it from my home in DC to my wedding location in VA and then into my honeymoon. Surely it had to last at least a week!

I made myself wear the style for at least 4 days (I was told it would wear for two weeks). After that one week I couldn’t take it anymore. I took down the bun from hell and unbraided my hair.

I have to admit – the crinkles are great.

Twist it Sista

My standby! I have been a customer (off and on) here for years. The staff is friendly, a person answers the phone, and they have set prices. Guess what? It’s usually easy to get a quick appointment, too.

I call Twist It Sista and get an appointment for Saturday. I told my stylist that I wanted to do a wedding trial but I had no idea what style to get.

Once I get there, my stylist (Patrice) and I talk about styles. Once she saw a picture of my wedding gown she suggested an up do. Now, I have to be honest and admit that I never wear my hair up. Its always down. Down and curly, down and straight, down and to the side – the one constant is that it’s always down. My fiancée prefers my hair down, I prefer my hair down.

So, I let Patrice talk me into trying my hair up. It ‘s a style called a “Pin-Up.” I can’t really say I like it. It’s tight – very tight on my scalp. My scalp isn’t used to this type of stress. By the time I got home from the salon my scalp had begun to swell. It seems a little lopsided to me, too.

THIS IS NOT A WINTER APPROVED HAIRSTYLE!!! Even if I did love this style, I would NEVER wear it during a winter nuptial! My scalp is COLD! It’s not a functional hairstyle for me, either. It’s not comfortable for sleeping and my hair is so heavy that it’s pulling out all the pins.

I’m going to the store today to get more hairpins. I normally don’t wear them, but they are a necessity today. I want to make this style last until next weekend at least! For some reason, I think that it’s coming down before then…

I can say that this style doesn’t live very well for me. I can see the appeal in the style – I have a lot of hair and she made it basically disappear. It would be a great hairstyle for my honeymoon, too. All pulled back and pinned up out of the way. I can see getting less sand in my hair and not have a mini-afro after my hair gets wet. Since we plan to go where it’s warm, my scalp would be okay, too.

Cost: $70 lock maintenance+ $25 style
Total Cost: $95 + tip