by Mary Wolff
Smokers are a fact of life. Whether you are one or you have friends that smoke, it can take a toll on your curls. Here are a few tips on how to protect your hair from smoke to keep it looking and smelling its best!

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1. Avoid smoke when you can.

If you aren’t a smoker, avoid smoke as much as you can. More and more states are outlawing smoking in public places, and you can certainly avoid it at home by asking guests not to smoke. If you go somewhere where smoking is permitted such as a night club or a casino, a good tip is to step out for fresh air as often as you can. This will help give your hair a breath of fresh air, too!

2. Seal your curls with an oil.

After exposure to smoke, it is a good idea to seal moisture in with a natural oil such as coconut oil. This will help put moisture back in while sealing the cuticle to lock hydration in. You can also put a little bit of coconut oil on your strands when you know you will be exposed to smoke as a preventive measure, but make sure you don’t use too much to avoid an oily look.

3. Wash hair after being exposed to smoke.

It is important to remove as much of that smoke from your strands as soon as you can to avoid it drying out your hair. No one wants their hair to smell like smoke because that is an unpleasant experience for you and the people around you. If you find that your regular shampoo doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, a rinse with apple cider vinegar can help remove that smoky smell.

4. Give hair a natural pick me up.

If your hair feels extra brittle after too much smoke, applying a simple mask of one part honey to one part olive oil can restore it back to health in no time. Combine the ingredients and apply to strands. Put on a shower cap and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing out.

by Mary Wolff

Traveling can be a lot of fun. From sightseeing and meeting new people to getting some much need rest and relaxation, getting out there in the world has a lot of benefits. One great way to travel is a cruise. It lets you enjoy the fun of travel without the worry of transit. But what about protecting your curls on a cruise? There are a few things to keep in mind while out on the high seas! Here are my top tips for protecting your curls on a cruise.

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1. Beware the Wind 
When you are on a cruise, it can be easy to get swept up by the fun and excitement of hanging out on the deck. Most cruises have a lot of social activity happening in the open or partially covered areas such as restaurant terraces with views of the ocean. This brings about the issue of wind. You want to protect your hair against the wind as much as possible. The wind can lead to tangles that are hard to get out. A good tip is to keep hair pulled back or in a head wrap. Try using satin scrunchies or satin wraps to protect your hair from breakage.

2. Watch Out for Salt 
Salt is known to be drying to hair. Salt from the ocean can be easily carried from the ocean to your hair by the way of the wind. Even on days when the wind seems tame or the ship is at a dock instead of picking up speed on the water, salt can rob your hair of natural moisture. For this reason alone, you may need to up your hydrating game while on a cruise. Taking extra measure to cover your hair may not be enough. A good tip is to apply your favorite leave-in conditioner and wrap your hair in a silk scarf to make sure your strands are safe each day before leaving your cabin.

3. Pack the Essentials 
Nothing is worse than going on vacation and forgetting something your hair really needs. It is even worse on a cruise ship because you can’t just run up to the store around the corner from your hotel. For a cruise, I like to make a list of all the possible hair care products or accessories I might need from bobby pins to satin pillowcases and then pack accordingly. Having it down on paper makes it a lot easier to pack the essentials without forgetting anything! If you're wondering what to pack, I'd recommend a good detangler, moisturizer, and a hard hold styler. All of these products will help keep your hair in excellent condition while out at sea.

4. Protective Style It 
If you want to enjoy your cruise without giving too much attention to your hair, protective styles are the way to go. They save you time on your morning routine, look great, and protect your hair against damage. Looking for a few that are easy to do and low-manipulation for an added bonus? Check out these styles here, https://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/home/7-protective-styles-for-natural-hair-that-dont-require-extensions/ We especially love braids. They're beautiful and so convenient for travel.

Traveling doesn’t have to be stressful on your hair. With these tips for curly hair care, your cruise can be a blast!

Written by Olivia Harvey of Diary of A Maverick

Here's the winning combination to growing a long and thick afro.

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'Olivia, why are you writing this blog? There is already so much information on YouTube.' Over the past month, I've discussed with a few of my curl friends, hair care, growth and damage. I realized that they didn't know the fundamental points that every natural must know in order to grow that desired long and thick afro. So ladies and gents this is for you.

Growing hair is a dynamic balance between length retention and stimulating hair growth from the scalp. In order to retain length you must prevent breakage from the ends of your strands. This post is going to easily guide you through these important principles.

Hair growth is a cycle. So no, not all of your hair stands are always growing. Hair has pre-rest phase called catagen which lasts around 2 weeks. And a rest/ shedding phase called telogen, which last around 4 months. Many of you are probably thinking, 'if that's true, surely I should have gone through points where I was bald then?' Your strands go through this cycle at different points in time, so the majority of your strands are currently in their growing phase (anagen), which lasts between 4 and 7 years.

The average speed of hair growth is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch per month. So if your hair grows at its maximum rate and you somehow miraculously manage to retain all of this length (no hair breakage), you can grow 3 to 6 inches per year.

Encouraging hair growth

1) Scalp Massage- Something that I have added to my hair regimen only very recently and have already seen the benefits. Massaging the scalp stimulates blood flow to your hair follicles. You can simply massage the scalp with your fingers alone, or you can also use oils, you also have the option of heating these oils first and then massaging them into the scalp.

2)Shampoo- Now I know that some naturals are dead set on co-washing (using solely conditioner or a product called co-wash). However, cleaning the scalp is important (getting rid of product build up which can stifle hair growth). However I do agree that a sulfate shampoo depleted afro hair of its moisture. Around two years ago I traded my weekly sulfate shampoo for a sulfate-free shampoo and never looked back. I remember my friends commenting that my hair looked shinier and my stands felt significantly softer. However, I still use a sulfate shampoo after I remove a protective style (e.g. box braids) or when I notice a significant build up of products in my hair and I want that extra deep clean.

3)Vitamins- A vitamin deficiency could be the reason that your hair is not growing. My advice? Go to your General Practitioner and get checked out. I have suffered with iron deficiency multiple types and when my iron is low, I notice I do not get any hair growth. If your results come back clear, but you notice that your hair is not growing, try taking a multivitamin. I suggest Holland and Barrett; where you can buy vitamins and minerals to your hearts content.

4) Food- 'You are what you eat.' Extremely cliché, but extremely true. Having a balanced diet will certainly help with hair growth. Make sure you are getting enough portions of fruits and vegetables. There are also foods that are linked with hair growth such as pulses, nuts and salmon.

5) Water- Your body needs water! Dehydration is not the way forward if you're trying to grow that thick and long fro. Your circulatory system needs water- we need blood flow to those hair follicles. It's going to help and just think if it doesn't help your hair, your skin will probably become flawless and you'll probably eat less food (we often mistake hunger for thirst), so you may tone up a bit too. Basically it's a win-win situation!

Retaining that length

1) Don't neglect your grandparents!- This is at the top of the list when it comes to maintaining that length. You ends are the most fragile part of your hair strands, because they're the oldest part of your hair strands. Just think of them as the grandparents of your hair strands, you need to treat them with respect if you want to get anywhere in life. So concentrate that product there, for example, every other day lovingly apply some shea butter or caster oil to those ends.

2) MOISTURISE! LOC- Liquid Oil Cream. This is basically the natural ABC to retaining length. It's self- explanatory! Apply your liquid for example spritz your hair with water. Apply oil to you strands. Why not start with a start with a scalp massage, move along your strands, then make your don't neglect your ends? Then finish by applying a leave in conditioner of curling cream. This method usually leaves me hair fully moisturised for 3 days (this may vary for you depending on your hair porosity, thickness and what products you are using).

3) Trims- So you've probably heard conflicting messages regarding this one. My advice? If you've never trimmed your ends begin today, or if you don't trust yourself, find yourself a trusted professional. Then observe your ends on a regular basis, when you see split ends trim again. See how much time it takes split ends to appear and then trim your hair using this time boundary. (I've can count the amount of trims I've had in my life, I need to take this advise too).

4) Let go of that heat damage!- Sometimes in life we have to let go of things. For a natural who wants to maintain that length, heat damage should be at the top of the list. I've suffered with heat damage around twice since going natural and trying to make it blend with the rest of my afro strands is a massive challenge. Cut that heat damage off! It's not cute! And it's just further damaging your hair. Just let go!

5) Deep condition- I try to deep condition on a weekly basis. I'm not fortunate enough to have a hooded dryer. However deep conditioning with heat will give the best results. Buy a deep conditioner- there has been a lot of hype of the Shea Moisture deep conditioners and I must say they're worth the hype and the price. But any deep conditioner will do!

6) Protective styling- So we've already talked about not neglecting those ends. As well as moisturising your ends on a regular basis, you should also try to protect those ends often if you want to retain your length. Protective styling can be achieved with you own hair e.g. twists, buns or can be achieved with hair that did not grow out of your scalp (real or synthetic) e.g. box braids, marley twists, wigs, weaves.

Have you tried any of this? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
IG @braveblackbird

by Mary Wolff

When it comes to embracing your natural hair, it can be a long and painful process. It can also be a beautiful journey of self-discovery. I know tons of curlies who went natural and will never go back, no matter how hard it was to get started. Transitioning to natural hair can be a challenge for many reasons. It can seem even more challenging if you are transitioning to dreadlocks. Dreadlocks are one of the most beautiful and stylish, not to mention easy to care for, ways to wear your natural hair, but getting there might seem intimidating. It doesn’t have to be scary! Here are a few great tips when transitioning to dreadlocks.


1. Stop Relaxers 
Relaxers are the enemy of transitioning to natural hair in any state. The key to embracing your natural texture and curl pattern is to leave your hair free from harsh straighteners and relaxers. This is the first step toward creating the loc look you seek.

2. Be Patient
This is going to be a rather long process so prepare yourself for that right now. You will need to first transition from relaxed hair to natural hair which is a journey of its own and then transition to locs. Whether you do the big chop or transition without chopping, it will take time. While there are some quick fixes such as extensions to create the length of dreadlocks you want, they can be costly and the process will still take time.

3. Protective Styles  
When embracing your natural hair to begin your loc journey, you should keep your strands in protective hairstyles like braids as much as possible. This will eliminate breakage and speed up the amount of time you have to spend transitioning. The sooner your hair is healthy and at the desired length, the sooner you can do locs. It is also good practice for how to care for your dreadlocks and get used to something similar to that style of hair.

4. Don’t Get Discouraged
Locs take time and patience. You will have to go weeks without washing your hair while still giving it gentle care. You will have to repeatedly twist and loc your strands before it becomes the go-to movement of your hair.  It may take a while to get the length you want.  You may see someone with neat locs and yours come out more on the frizzy side. Remember, this is a journey and a learning process. There are no absolutes in natural hair care. What works for one person, might not work for you. Don’t get discouraged and just stay committed to your decision.

Transitioning to natural hair and dreadlocks may seem scary, but just remember that this can be a beautiful journey and a chance to really get to know your hair. When it is all said and done, think of how beautiful your locs will look!

Michelle Thames

by Mary Wolff

When it comes to curly hair, the possibilities are endless in terms of styles. An updo is one of the best ways to protect your hair from damage while still looking great. Here are a few of my favorite natural updos.


1. The Low Bun 
This is so easy and gives you a polished look perfect for work. To create this look with your washed and detangled hair, simply pull all hair back in a low ponytail and continue wrapping strands around the center of the ponytail. Secure it with bobby pins and you have an understated and beautiful look. There are many variations on this look. Find a few interesting twists right here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxwl22qUvWU

2. The Top Knot 
This is like a low bun, but it is higher up on the crown of your head. This look is one of my favorite natural updos because it always looks great for both work and play. It lets you show off your curls without them being in your face. While there are many variations on this style, you make a basic top knot by pulling hair into a high ponytail on the top of your head. Then separate the ponytail into parts and wrap one section around the ponytail and then wrap the other section around the bun. Secure with a bobby pin to keep the hold. Here are a few of  my favorite variations on this look; http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/home/10-of-the-best-top-knot-tutorials-on-all-lengths/

3. Bantu Knots 
When you want a look that is fun and young, Bantu knots are a good choice. They are quick and easy to do for an added bonus. To create this look, separate hair into several sections. Apply a curl cream or setting cream to prevent flyaways. Twist a coil at the scalp level that will hold the shape. Don’t twist the entire section like this because you will be simply wrapping the strands tightly around the twist you created. Once the section is wrapped around the coil you created, continue twisting and wrapping the entire head. For a more in-depth look at this style, check out this guide; http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/kinky-hair-type-4a/bantu-knot-tutorial/

When it comes to natural updos, the key is to find a style that lets you still show off the beauty of your given texture instead of hiding it away. With these styles, you can do just that!