Thursday, 28 April 2011

UK Based Sisterlocks Trainees, Consultants & Bloggers

So what else have I been up to? 
Well before I even thought about taking the Sisterlocks training class I wanted a registry that would list all the Consultants (and Trainees) in my neck of the woods. Many of the entries on the 'International' pages of the official Sisterlocks website only said: 'London', which meant that I would spend aaaaaaaaaaages (and $$$) calling people only for them to tell me they were yonks away from me.

And so 'Sisterlist UK' was born.

Sisterlocks Consultants in the UK

The main registry of Sisterlocks Consultants and Trainees is held by the Sisterlocks Home Office (in the US) on their Official website: (currently being redeveloped!!)

International Consultant Registry *
International Trainee Registry*

(They started redeveloping their website in March 2011 and these links keep changing so please don't be mad if they're incorrect when you click - I'll keep updating them!)

If, however, you just want the SL graduates who are based in the UK - then this directory is for you. Sisterlist UK lists Sisterlocks Consultants & Trainees, Bloggers and Vloggers all based in the UK.

You can use it to search by area e.g. Birmingham or London, or postcode e.g. NW10 or even for a Trainee or Consultant.

Go on - click the jump and have a butchers: remember to show some love by subscribing or following and telling all your friends about it!!

WELCOME TO THE TAPESTRY OF ME.... These are my words and this is my journey, from 'there to hair'! My life, the lessons learned in and through love and loves ones; and my hair affairs.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The progressive power of embracing our natural hair

Angel from the Natural Lounge wrote a post on this topic quite recently. She felt that some 'veteran' naturals were reluctant to embrace the newbies claiming it was just a trend or that the newbies were just 'jumping on the bandwagon' while the veterans were the real 'trendsetters'.

Angel's response is a very lovely diagram extolling the benefits of more naturals within our Black communities. I loved the idea so much I asked if I could share it - so said, so done. 

Isn't it cool?  I really like the bit about better products... ;)

Click here to read her full article.

WELCOME TO THE TAPESTRY OF ME.... These are my words and this is my journey, from 'there to hair'! My life, the lessons learned in and through love and loves ones; and my hair affairs.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

How cool is that? I got nominated not once - but TWICE for this award... 3 cheers for the Bald-headed Blogger! Altogether now... *grin*

A big shout out to Thandi (over in the 'motherland') and Yahvinah (down in Oz) for the nominations.  Funnily enough I would've nominated them even if they hadn't tagged me!

Their reasons for giving me this award:
  1. total hair loss, (shares about)
  2. Shares about locking ups and downs, being a locktician and life
So - not because I'm beautiful or anything lol.

Anyway, here are the rules:

  1. Thank and link back to the person that awarded you this award
  2. Share 7 things about yourself
  3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
  4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award
So here are my 7 things (sorry, if I've already shared them):
  1. Although I was born in London and spent most of my childhood here, I was educated in Barbados and would probably say I was more Bajan than British although I love both parts of my heritage (fairly) equally.  I love Barbados - and while it is not perfect (what place is when you start to think about politics or economics and social welfare etc?), it is my version of paradise and I feel blessed to have that connection. My friends and family tease me because I speak Bajan dialect at home and within my community but automatically switch when meeting strangers or at work. I don't even know I do it lol. When I am burned out or stressed out or unwell - I go home. Barbados is definitely where my heart is. 
  2. I am exactly 152cm 'tall'. This makes me an inevitable target for people I call 'tallerists'  - anyone taller than me who doesn't look where they are going and/or steps on me, whacks me in the face with their stupid handbag or newspaper on the train... that kinda stuff - all because they're not aware of the people who don't share the same breathing space. So point number 2: I don't like tallerists.
  3. I have a host of postgraduate diplomas, associate degrees, a combined Bachelor's degree, various certificates etc but what excites me right now is the fact that I will (very) shortly be a qualified Holistic Massage Therapist and Certified Sisterlocks Consultant. Instead of just making money, (and helping others make money), I now have the opportunity to assist someone's journey towards greater wellbeing and self acceptance, I can make someone feel better about themselves and while it may not pay (anything near) as much, I do get a real sense of achievement when I see appreciation in my clients' eyes.
  4. I have three children (now who didn't know that? lol) but we almost lost the last one. That was a huge wake up call for us as a family.... seriously, EVERYTHING CHANGED that week.  I always believed in the principle of 'CARPE DIUM' (Seize the day) but it's now part and parcel of me, TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED and MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY. Every single one! Oh, so number 4 is : I live my life without regrets.
  5. I am a PADI certified open water scuba diver... and a very strong swimmer... but very deep water makes me nervous. I just hate the idea of not being able to touch the bottom with my feet (and given point number 2, this happens a lot closer to the shore than most people hahaha). I don't freak out or anything - but I am always very aware of the tenuity of life.  Maybe it's because Bajans always say 'the sea has no back door' or maybe it's because someone close to me drowned when I was 14... who knows?
  6. I am a practical joker and love to laugh.  I'm the type of girl who (even at 19!!!) would hide in the coat cupboard for ages, just so I could pop out and scare you!  If you fall, I will catch you (assuming I am close enough and not too puny)... after that I will laugh at you... and I will remind you every couple of weeks about 'the time you did skin up and nearly brekk yuh neck'.  My brothers are exactly the same... my sisters not so much... but my sister-in-law? Yes - she's one of us.  If something happens on TV, we will pause, get everyone to come and rewind it endlessly.  If we catch you goofing up on a home video - trust that we will play it everytime you come over... 
  7. I have been natural for 5 years, before that I was natural for almost 10 years. I find it ironic that when I finally embraced my curls and found myself with Sisterlocks - I lost every strand of hair I had. I am now bald. i have ALOPECIA TOTALIS (and sorry for those how know but I gotta spell it out again for those who don't): it is not caused by tight hairstyles or braids or having locks. If it was - it would be restricted just to my head - and it is not. I have no hair on my legs, arms, armpits etc.  (I do have my eyebrows and eyelashes so it is not ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS).  It is an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE triggered by stress, shock or some other traumatic event (see point 4 above).  There is no cure - just some best fit scenarios with various treatments that may or may not work (can't help but try eh? ).  Although losing my hair was (and still is if I'm honest) deeply painful, I choose to talk and laugh about it ("If you don't laugh you will cry" - another Bajan saying :) ) ... maybe I should rename this blog: 'Adventures of the Bald & Beautiful Bajan' lol. 
Right, I probably wrote far too much in my 7 things, but so what? It's my blog... *grin*

Now here are my nominees...

  1. Thandi: because she has opened my eyes to another culture and explained much about homeschooling and SDA.  I love her devotion to her husband and children: she finds time for them without disappearing into them. And of course - she is incredibly dedicated to her faith. I like people who are sure about what they believe.
  2. Yahvinah: firstly because she went through the same hyperemesis gravidarum ick with her pregnancies and is now mother to a cheeky boy (check out his grin on her blog), and an adorable baby girl.She has braidlocks and an awesome husband who retightens her hair.(How cool is that?)
  3. Ofo: because she writes good posts on herbal rinses and treatments for locks, and is an avid DIYer; also dealing with thinning issues and is incredibly creative with making loc pieces and products;
  4. Njoi: fellow UK Sisterlocker, devoted Christian, teacher and product junkie :) 
  5. Kreyola: because she has experienced alopecia areata and survived (*grin*) and writes fairly informative articles on Sisterlocks and hairloss.
  6. Carib Chronicles.  Sisterlocks in Jamaica!
  7. Nicoleisthenewblack: Sisterlocks in Berlin and..... homecrafting!
  8. Kim: from I rock locks, because I love the weekly Friday pictorial showing lovely locked people. She's 5 months into her (traditional) lock journey.
  9. Keep Me Curly: 'pink mum brown baby', this young mother has two adopted daughters and some serious braiding skills. One of her daughters has braidlocks and the other is a loose natural.
  10. Sofull Sista: outfit of the day (usually quirky) and sometimes hair talk
There are lots more blogs I follow - but I've been writing this post for ages - I think 10 is enough.

WELCOME TO THE TAPESTRY OF ME.... These are my words and this is my journey, from 'there to hair'! My life, the lessons learned in and through love and loves ones; and my hair affairs.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Making A Loc/Sisterloc Wig - Drawing board

Some of you may recall that when I first started losing my hair I contacted a lovely lady (Gerrylocs) in the US who was both understanding and sensitive to my situation. She wasn't able to help me in the end due to the extend of my hair loss but I will never forget how gently and sensitively she handled me. I hoped that I would be like that with my own clients - she really left a mark on me! (Check out her work - isn't she awesome?)

A fellow UK blogger has been dealing with her own hair issue (thinning) and has published a few posts on suitable hair pieces for (Sister)locked women.  Her latest post talks about a loc bridge - you gotta click on the link to really see what she's on about.

I like the concept... I've been thinking (for what seems like forever) about how to make a full cap wig of locs.  I was gonna rope in a locked colleague, do several (bazillion) afro-kinky twists and attach them to a weave cap but I hadn't quite figured out how (to attach them) maybe I can incorporate this yarn string idea. 

Since January I've made 3 or 4 'straight haired' wigs, so I'm pretty good at it but the loc wig needs a lot of thought because it has just got to be 'right' cos I don't wanna be looking like this: 

Any suggestions?

WELCOME TO THE TAPESTRY OF ME.... These are my words and this is my journey, from 'there to hair'! My life, the lessons learned in and through love and loves ones; and my hair affairs.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Three-headed Review: Lush R&B (Revive & Balance)

Last month, I submitted my name at the Natural Haven, offering to review a hair product on behalf of the (natural) community.

To those of you who (still) don't know, the Natural Haven is a blog run by a UK scientist, JC (I think she's based in Scotland) who provides the no nonsense plain English science behind our most popular hair products and practices. She has written extensively on shampoo/no-poo, sulphates, coconut oil, afros, protective styling and much more. Furthermore she is always willing to respond to comments and questions which is a real breath of fresh air.

Imagine my excitement when I was informed that my name was 'first out of the hat' and I would therefore be the first 'peer' review!

A couple of weeks ago I received a mystery pot in the mail.  As I opened the packaging I could already hear Nai (Njoi Naturally) in my ears whispering: 'cantu shea butter?' but no, it was a product by Lush cosmetics called R&B, (Revive and Balance).  I am familiar with Lush cosmetics (soaps and bath bombs) but had never heard of this line before - heck I didn't actually know they did hair products, let alone hair products for the 'tightly textured'!

The information leaflet that came with it said:
 "Three of our UK shop managers came up with this one to moisturize their wayward follicles. It works well with African American or curly hair ".

How to Use: Rub between your fingers and scrunch and smooth it into freshly washed hair as often as you like
Being the information junkie that I am - I also googled it and came up with this video of one of the 'originators' describing how to use it .

If you google this product you will find it has a ton of glowing reviews, unfortunately this is not really one of them.  Here's my summary - keep reading if you want the full details.
  • Price (RRP): £9.95 for 100g
  • Smells like: STRONG perfume (Jasmine), almost overwhelming. The fragrance itself is like marmite: you will either love it or hate it. (See below)
  • Feels like: egg mayonnaise but can feel sticky on some hair types. 
  • Moisturising Factor: doesn't last long enough but did add some shine (albeit temporarily).
  • Pros: The smell, it's light, adds temporary shine, aids detangling.
  • Cons: The smell! Shine didn't last. Moisture didn't last (Not for thirsty/thick hair). Starts 'soaping' when it makes contact with skin or scalp. Came across as sticky on one child's hair.
  • Official Company Info, Online Sales & Reviews (UK site)

What's Under the Lid?
When I first sniffed it, I wasn't sold on the smell. Actually I was almost knocked out. It has the overpowering aroma of jasmine and neroli, which gives it a spa like/expensive aroma BUT this also reminded me of a mature lady's cologne and I wasn't sure I would want my hair to smell like this.  After it has been on your hair  for a little while (or in my case hands since I'm currently bald) you start to detect a coconutty (sic) undertone with hints of citrus; this 'second whiff' isn't so bad but I think I would have like the whole thing a lot more if it were much more subtle. I honestly felt as though one of my kids had knocked a jar of perfume over... however, I did find myself sniffing my hands for the rest of the day trying to decide whether I did or didn't like it.

The product itself looks like egg mayonnaise, and it feels like egg mayonnaise. Nothing wrong with that - just letting you know. I didn't know what to expect (having purposely NOT read any reviews etc until AFTER I had finished our evaluation) so this was all exciting to me.

It is thicker than say a Hair Milk by Carol's Daughter, Almond & Avocado or Crown Pride Naturals. If you shake the pot - the product will not wobble, but it is not as thick as whipped shea butter.  It is fairly light and glides easily when rubbed between your fingers.

What's In It?
Oat Milk (Avena sativa), Glycerine, Organic Avocado Butter (Persea gratissima), Fair Trade Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Glyceryl Stearate & PEG 100 Stearate, Perfume, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Organic Cold Pressed Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Bay Oil (Pimenta racemosa), Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Aurantium dulcis), Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum), Cupuacu Butter (Theobroma grandiflorum), Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia cerifera), Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, *Benzyl Salicylate, *Eugenol, *Geraniol, *Isoeugenol, *Benzyl Benzoate, *Farnesol, *Limonene, *Linalool * Occurs naturally in essential oils.

So nothing bad here. I imagine 'oat milk' is a water product containing oat extract since you and I both know oats don't make milk. Glycerine is a humectant - good for attracting and retaining moisture. Avocado butter (or oil) and olive oil are both deeply moisturising oils, coconut oil has conditioning and softening properties, while jojoba mimics the body's natural sebum and is good for both hair and scalp. Bay E.O can be toning for hair, but Jasmine and Orange flower are likely to be here for their fragrant properties rather than their hair benefits (IMHO). Cupuacu is another moisturising butter and the candelilla wax is probably there as a product thickener given its position in the listing. This is followed by the preservatives and trace amounts of things which occur naturally in essential oils. Glyceryl Stearate and PEG 100 Stearate are the emulsifiers (used to help bind the oils and butters to that oat 'milk').  

How I Used It
Being bald myself, I figured that the only reason I would use it would be to perfume my head and that review would be of no use to anyone - so I tested this product over a period of one week on the heads of my lovely children.

Head 1: Two Year Old Boy, Buzz Cut

  • Firstly - not the right fragrance for him at all. 
  • Second - he has a buzz cut, and this product does not like being rubbed into the scalp AT ALL. I placed a small amount (less than pictured above) in the palm of my hands and rubbed it over his hair. What happened? He looked as though I had pasted his head with mayonnaise. Not a good look. His dad gave me the side eye and I spent the next five minutes wiping it out as best I could. Rubbing it just made it whiter (the soaping effect*, see end note) and it was a right effort to get it to blend in. Little man was so annoyed with all the rubbing/wiping that he ran off as soon as he could - so no pictures. Sorry. If you're rocking a TWA this is probably NOT the product for you.
Head 2: Thirteen Year Old Girl, 8 inches of very thick, tightly coiled hair
  •  I thought that the experience with my son might have been a one off, so I applied a little to her scalp just to see what would happen. (NB. the instructions do not say 'apply to scalp', I was just trying to replicate what happened with the lil Prince so I could take a photo). True enough, the product just sat there (on the scalp) and it took a vigorous amount of rubbing before it 'blended in'. [see pictures below]
  • My daughter is participating in the '3-in-6' challenge (where some naturals are aiming to retain 3 inches of growth in 6 months by eating healthily, exercising and using protective hairstyling etc) so her hair has been twisted.  It had been freshly washed (Jason's Organic Sea Kelp Shampoo) and I planned to use Lush R&B to retwist and moisturise.
  • I applied a dab of the product to her roots and smoothed it down the hair shaft - it still took a bit of smoothing before the product actually disappeared. [see photos below]. 
  • However, the freshly retwisted hair looked fabulous: shiny and strong. It felt soft, not crunchy and of course it had that jasmine-coconut aroma. [see photos]
  • Unfortunately, the shine and bounce did not last. I retwisted one evening and the following morning my husband actually questioned whether I had really done anything with the child's hair. It looked rough and untidy, there were lots of fly aways and the hair itself felt dry  - AND before you ask, YES, she slept with a satin bonnet and YES, I did check to make sure it was on properly both before bed and when I went to wake her up. So, I wasn't impressed. Her hair still smelled 'nice' though.
  • Product in Hair (click to enlarge) 
    Still visible after some rubbing (click to enlarge)
    After Retwisting - using R&B as a moisturiser (if only this shine had lasted more than a few hours!)

  • Next Day - close up

Head 3: 1 Year Old Girl, 6 inches of loosely coiled/ wavy hair
  • By this point I was wondering whether this product was better suited to 'less coily' hair types. However, the Lush marketing said it had originally been specifically aimed at African American hair types, so maybe I was doing something wrong. It wasn't too good for short hair (because it got stuck on the scalp), and it wasn't fantastic with super coily thick hair... so maybe third time lucky. The little one was due for her styling so we washed and conditioned and scrunched it through 'damp dry' hair.... drum roll please... we got some curl definition! However, this convinces me that this product might be for looser hair types (?????)
  • I used a little bit more to help moisten her cornrows and secured the ends with cloth covered bands. Next morning, she had no fly aways, although the hair didn't feel as 'moisturised' as the day before'. One thing I did notice while braiding her hair was that the product left it feeling a bit sticky (and no, I didn't use tons of the stuff! I believe that less is more - so the stickiness is weird), my guess is - it's the glycerine, as although this is a humectant it can feel rather sticky at high percentages within a product.
loose section before product applied.
After product applied (Click to enlarge)

After product applied (Click to enlarge)
Anyway - that's my looooooooooong three-headed review. Have any of you tried this product? How did it work for you?

*The Soaping Effect: 

The soaping effect is defined as "an undesired foaming phenomenon observed in skin creams formulated with soap based emulsifiers". You may have noticed this in your lotions - the white streaks when you rub the lotion on and a slight tacky feeling on your skin.  This is saponification!

The fatty acids in the lotion, combined with an alkaline ingredient, create a soap, which acts as the emulsifier in your lotion. (A common combination is triethanolamine and stearic acid.) When using a stearate or oleate based emulsifier, (Lush is using Glyceryl Stearate & PEG 100 Stearate) you are bringing the water and oil together in your lotion by creating a soap, which is going to leave those white streaks when you apply it." -- source

There are ways to avoid this - but that's a topic for another post :)

WELCOME TO THE TAPESTRY OF ME.... These are my words and this is my journey, from 'there to hair'! My life, the lessons learned in and through love and loves ones; and my hair affairs.


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