Monday, October 6, 2014

Hair Braidng 101: Understanding Proper Ways to Add Extentions w/o Damage.

Wearing braids (cornrows and individual braids) with or without extensions in my opinion is one of the best protective styles for Afro textured hair.  Reason being, braids keep the hair in a stretched state which helps avoid shrinkage.  For textures like mine allowing my hair to shrink up causes tangles and knotting on the ends and makes it difficult to retain length if done all the time.  Braids get a bad rap due to too many of us allowing unskilled braiders in our head.  By unskilled I don't mean the stylist won't make you look good once the style is completed.  I mean your hair's health and thickness being compromised from stylists braiding too tightly and the overuse of adding extension hair, which to me is an even bigger problem than braiding too tightly.

When adding extension  hair to braids it's important to educate clients on what is healthy and what isn't and sticking by what you know to keep your integrity in tact.  Many women don't know this but when you see someone with individual braids and they have no scalp showing the only way that is healthy is if the person has extremely dense hair.  For women and children with fine hair however, adding extensions really has to be done with caution.  Over using extensions causes balding around edges and overall thinning to the entire head of hair.  The amount of extension hair added should be determined by each individual clients head of hair.  Clients with very strong, dense natural hair can wear styles like the Poetic Justice braids we loved to see Janet Jackson wear because those braids require lots of hair to be added to achieve long thick braids.  On a client with fine thin hair, adding chunky amounts of thick extension hair can be damaging to the hair follicle due to the weight not being able to have proper support from the clients natural hair with extensions attached at the base of the scalp. I hope I'm making sense. Sometimes is hard for me to explain this to clients in a way where they can understand not wearing a specific look is to their benefit.  Especially when now days anyone with a fresh relaxer can walk into a braid shop or salon and get anything they ask for without being properly educated on what is best for the health of the clients hair. 

[source google image]
I don't know who's work this is and I hope if the stylist ever reads this post doesn't get offended by me using the image as an example.  My intention is not to disrespect anyone's craft.  When I saw this photo it was the perfect example of what I am trying to explain.  As you can see, the tightness around the hairline has caused the person in the photograph to have an unevenly rounded hairline and swelling at the base of each braid.  It's also evident each section of hair is much less then the amount of synthetic hair that was added.  You see no scalp at all just braids as if mimicking a braided wig, aside from the spacing around the damaged hairline area.  I recently watched a YouTube video where sadly the stylist is demonstrating how to "properly" install box braids and again no scalp and no spaces.  I have to strongly disagree.

[source: google image]

Again, no disrespect to the stylists work.  I am only using this image to educate.  There are several issues with these cornrows. First, the client does have spacing which tells me for the braids to be that thick in size and still have spaces, the clients hair is very fine and thin.  Way too much hair was added. I'm not saying the client isn't necessarily a candidate for cornrows, however, they probably would have been healthier by adding more braids and less hair.  Second, the braids are not started by using the feed-in method of braiding which I highly recommend for all clients.  Wearing braids with the large knot at the start of the cornrow is a very outdated technique.  Beginning a cornrow with that much hair at the hairline is a sure way to end up with a receding hairline if repeatedly worn.  Skilled stylists keep up with the latest techniques and trends.  This ensures the client will not be walking around wearing braids in 2014 that look like they came from 1982..I'm just sayin'.

I'm writing his post because it breaks my heart to see and know how many women and children of color that love wearing braids, are suffering from balding either around the hairline and/or thinning all over their head.  A skilled hair braider will only use the SAME AMOUNT OF EXTENTION HAIR AS THE SECTION OF HAIR PARTED OFF FROM THE CLIENT OR LESS.  This can be altered to some degree if the stylist is doing feed-in cornrows (braids to the scalp where very small amount of hair extensions are added in small increments as the braid continues, starting from the hairline on down to the ends).  With the feed-in technique because only a small amount of hair is added at the start of the braid where the hairline is and where hair tends to be the most vulnerable to thinning and balding, adding a heavier amount of extension hair to natural hair can be done.

Photos below are of work done by myself, of what I consider to be healthy braiding practices when using extension hair.
Box Braids on client with loosely curled fine natural hair. Scalp is showing but it's ok, it should always show.  Unless the hair is so dense and thick when an equal amount of extension hair ratio is added to the clients natural hair and it comes out with no scalp showing.  Less than 5 packs of 100% kanekalon braiding hair was used.
Feed-in cornrows on child with medium density natural hair.  For a more natural look, extension hair should not be detectable. Less than one pack of 100% Kanekalon braiding hair was used.
Feed-in cornrows done by myself on my own naturally kinky/curly medium density natural hair.  I used less than ONE pack of synthetic braiding hair to achieve this look.

 Even with feed-in cornrows being a healthier way to add extensions to natural hair for cornrows, stylist should still use caution and not over bear the clients hair with extension hair.  When a hair braider takes a very small section of a clients natural hair and adds double the amount of extension hair to it, the result will not be positive in the end. Yes, the style will be much fuller but the clients natural hair cannot support such heavy weight.  I cannot stress this enough.  It is important you seek a hair braider who understands the proper natural hair to extension hair ratio is being used at all times. I have experienced clients with scalps that are very pliable due to extra skin. For those clients I prefer not to use any extension hair.  Braiding their own natural hair is best since adding hair can greatly increase the likeliness of the braids coming out too tight. Even with a light handed hair braider. If the client refuses to take the advice, I won't compromise my integrity as a stylist by just giving the client what she/he wants.  Instead, I make use the opportunity to educate, offer alternative suggestions, and hope the client understands you're advice is coming from a place of concern and supporting their healthy hair goals.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kynxx 70k Facebook Fan Page Giveaway!

A week or so ago I was watching HLN and watched a segment about actress/musician Caitlin Crosby, CEO of The Giving Keys, Los Angeles.  Being that LA is my home city, I was intrigued by her vision of helping others while at the same time starting a business that quickly flourished into the latest pay-it- forward movement.  

It all began when Caitlin shared her story about how she stayed at a hotel in NYC sometime ago and loved the way the hotel key looked and wore it as a charm on a necklace after taking the key to an engraver and had an inspiring word engraved on it. A photo of Caitlin wearing the key on a social media site went viral and several other celebrities began supporting and taking photos sporting theirs too. As a result, Caitlin started requesting donations for uniquely shaped and colored unwanted keys.  On each key donated she'd have some type of uplifting word engraved such as love, insprire, believe, courage, faith, dream, hope, fearless, grateful, peace, and let go to name a few.

While walking down Hollywood Blvd one day she noticed a homeless couple holding a sign, approached the couple and learned the female in the couple. made jewelry.  This triggered the initiative to add a charitable dimension to The Giving Keys movement of paying it forward and employing homeless people and those transitioning from homeless as  Giving Keys word engravers.  

I found Caitlin's story of turning a profitable business of spreading love through fashionable accessories while helping others less fortunate extremely touching. Since I knew I would be approaching the 70k mark on Kynxx Facebook Fanpage the timing couldn't have been better for me to support the movement and offer a key I purchased specifically for the purpose of paying it forward to someone worthy. 

Giveaway Prize: Gold Plated Wristlet with the word INSPIRE on the key. 

To enter giveaway, leave a comment on what your passion in life is and ways you currently use, or would like to use, your  passion to serve as an inspiration for others to live their dream as well.  The most heartfelt entry will win.  My last giveway where the prize was dependent on sharing your life's passion only had ONE participant, who happened to be very well deserving of her free hairstyle. I'm hoping more will enter this go round.  After all, what greater way to give back and place such great energy into the universe then sharing your passion and winning a meaningful gift someday in the future you can pass on to someone else just was deserving as yourself. 

I was so inspired I had to get a key for myself.  I'm looking forward to the day I meet the special person I can pay- it-forward to CREATE whatever their passion motivates them to. 

Wishing you all Peace & Love.

Giveaway will run from Thursday September 18th through Friday September 26th.   Winner will be announced Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 12noon.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gettin' it Straight...the Natural Way!

Living in a climate with high humidity can be trying for Naturalistas who prefer their curls/kinks straight.   This is one reason I decided to learn to care for my own hair in its natural state when I first moved to TX. The city I lived in was extremely humid as it's located minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.  I felt like I was working against nature.  When I lived in California the climate was much different, more tropical and breezy than humid so when I'd straighten my hair, it would stay straight just from me wrapping it up at night and covering it with a Du-Rag until the next wash day. I'd wear it straight until the natural oils produced from my scalp (sebum) would weigh my hair down and cause it to look oily and greasy. Then I'd style it while straight in either a high pony or wear cornrow braids with beads (Alicia Keys style) for about 10 days, wash it and condition it lightly and wear it curly for a couple of weeks, then do a full wash, deep conditioning treatment, cellophane color treatment (protects ends from splitting and provides a beautiful shine to hair).  I was able to go from straight to curly for years without heat damage. There is no reason to turn to relaxers if wearing your hair straightened is your style of choice. In this post I'll go into detail on the best ways to keep your natural hair healthy when thermally straightening.

Over time, my curls did loosen a bit, however I don't feel my hair was heat damaged. My hair was more heat trained. There is a difference.  In my opinion, from caring for my own hair straight to curly, the difference between the two is heat damage is a result of the hair losing all elasticity.  When its washed it looks relaxed, mostly on the ends while closer to the roots still has texture.  Heat trained hair however still has elasticity. Curls may loosen a bit however this just makes hair more manageable when it is in its natural state.  Heat trained curls and kinks still shrink, heat damaged hair doesn't.  I do not consider this heat damage. I wore my hair from straight to curly from 1996 to mid 2009 without any heat damage.

My process was the same every time I prepared to straighten my hair.  One way I was able to keep my hair healthy was by using only high end Salon quality shampoos, conditioners, and semi-permanent hair coloring glossers, which also come in clear if no color change is desired. These are also beneficial for Naturalista's with permanently color treated hair to use when their color starts to fade or become dull and needs refreshing instead of using permanent dye all over (unless dying hair to cover gray).  Here are the names of a few I've tried on my own hair. These are NOT permanent and only give hair a slight color change depending on the natural color of the persons hair and generally last 8-10 washes.  They are all ammonia, alcohol and peroxide free:


I don't recommend all natural hair products on hair that is being straightened thermally. Most of them if not all are too emollient. Natural products tend to cause hair to revert back to curly/kinky much faster due to the benefits of using them increasing the hairs moisture level.  When you want straight hair, the focus should be cleansing the hair and scalp with products that increase or maintain the hairs strength, retaining elasticity, and providing the hair with a natural shine without the use of hair polishers, hair sheen sprays or glossers. Those types of shine enhancing products do nothing but leave the hair stiff, greasy and stuck together instead of light and full of body so the hair literally blows in the wind.  Moisture is need however their should be a good protein moisture balance so the hair is able to stay straight longer without reverting back to curly/kinky. 

When choosing to wear your hair natural straight, the hair should be prepped well before any heat is applied.  Again, the shampoo and conditioner should do all the work so styling products are not needed for shine or protection from heat.  When I was straightening my hair I used products made specifically for strengthening and retaining my hairs elasticity like the ones shown below:

[Joico Moisture Recovery] is one of the product lines I used most often . Liter sizes will run from $50-$70 per bottle (I purchased these from for $40 for the set including shipping).  Depending on which benefits you are looking for the product to provide you can choose from Joico's line of hair care to address most any issue you have.  This specific line, Moisture Recovery can also be used on Naturally curly hair for added moisture and elasticity as well.  Joico products are pH balanced however they are not all natural. 

 I learned about Matrix Biolage in 2004 after bleaching my medium dark brown hair to blonde, then dying it using Dark and Lovely's Red Hot Mary.  I was looking for a salon brand that specifically addressed the needs of color treated hair.  One stylist at a local salon specializing in hair color recommended Matrix Biolage line for color treated hair (not shown).  After all I did to my hair, bleaching then dying and straightening, I didn't lose one strand to damage.  I was so impressed with the shine and lasting vibrancy to my hair color.  FiberStrong is one of the newer lines from Matrix Biolage I recently purchased on e-bay.  This particular line is great for addressing weak fragile hair in need of repair.  If your hair is already healthy, it still doesn't hurt to use products that are for damaged weak hair to maintain the strength, elasticity, moisture, and shine to your natural hair, straight or curly.  Although Matrix Biolage Fiberstrong is not an all natural product, they are all paraben free.

Cholesterol is what I'd consider to be more of an old school product.  However, no matter how old it may be the benefits of using this conditioner on damaged hair is still very good in my opinion.  I use this conditioner on clients who are usually transitioning from heat damage, slowly removing ends, or transitioning from chemical relaxers.  I've found that this conditioner also provides hair with more elasticity which is a bonus for those dealing with heat damaged ends, especially if processing this conditioner using steam. 

Its been over 4 years since I've thermally straightened my hair and one thing I've noticed is my ability to retain length is much more difficult when keeping my hair in its natural state.  I've found I have to trim more often (I'd probably trim less if I wore more protective styles) due to my curly hair creating knots at the ends which I can't to feel so I snip as needed.  Here are a few photos from when I used to wear my hair straight...



The shine you see in all of the photos of my hair come from the shampoo, conditioner, and cellophane only.  I never used hair glossers, spray sheens, or any other type of shinning products that would weigh my hair down.  There is nothing worse to me than a stiff, greasy, flat ironed hair result. 

 My curls still snapped right back even after flatironing on a bi-weekly basis using the non plug up pressing comb and flatirons.  It wasn't until I switched to using the CHI flat iron and a higher watt blowdryer 1850 to be exact that I began experiencing heat damage.

There is no way to guarantee your hair will not get heat damage from using the process I used when I was wearing my own hair straight but using the aforementioned products or products similar to those can in my opinion dramatically decrease ones chances of getting severe heat damage where all curl/elasticity is lost.  I hope this helps those who want naturally straight hair without using chemical relaxers to know there is another option.  I think afro textured hair is beautiful either way kinky or's most healthy without using relaxers.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rajasthani Henna Review

One of the many perks about being a natural hair stylist is meeting others who appreciate sharing information on hair care.  Not long ago I had the pleasure of styling a young lady's hair who told me she often uses henna to keep her hair healthy.  We exchanged our methods, brands of henna we'd used, and recipes.  She told me she uses a henna from the website shown in the photograph above.  This was her henna of choice due to it having the highest  henna lawsone (dye) content of 3.29. This is far greater than the average hennas dye content of 1.7-2.3 [source] so on darker shades of brown to black natural hair color, I was hoping to get a more vibrant highlight.
 I'd forgotten I had henna samples from [Henna Sooq] from last year.  I was surprised to see it was the same henna with a different brand name on the label, Rajasthani Indian Henna! I mixed them together so I'd have a larger batch with enough to place into a carrot bag and freeze for future use.
The Steps

1. Pour henna into glass, plastic, or ceramic bowl
 2. Squeeze juice from 2 lemons.  You can also use all lemon juice only as your liquid.

3.After stirring in lemon juice add purified or distilled water to henna powder 1/2 cup at a time until the consistency mimics pancake batter or yogurt. 

 4. Add your favorite oil of choice.  Mine is olive oil when mixing with henna.  Makes the paste much less drying on the hair in my opinion.  I added one full cup to 150 grams of Rajasthani Henna Powder. Thoroughly mix paste, lemon juice, water, and EVOO.

 Notice the color prior to the dye release in this photo. It's greenish. Once the dye releases it looks more brownish.  I forgot to photograph the paste after it sat 9 hours however I could definitely tell a difference in smoothness on the after and when comparing it to other henna powders I've used.  Paste has to sit 6-24 hours for dye to release.
I went ahead and filled one carrot bag with henna paste prior to covering with foil and allowing to sit over night.  I applied my henna first by sectioning off my hair into 4 equal parts, starting with the back and applying the paste from root to ends, concentration of henna paste at the root.  One great benefit of using henna is it tightens the roots which aids in less hair fall.  

 5. Rinse henna paste. This may take up to 1/2 an hour depending on the length and density of hair you have. It took me about 10 minutes to get it completely rinsed, which is less then it takes using other henna powders I've tried.  Definite plus. Using conditioner helps speed the rinsing process as well. Rinse hair until water runs clear, add conditioner by working it through with your fingers from the roots to the ends and repeat until water color from rinsing runs clear again.
 I trimmed an inch all around on blown out hair this time (photo below) had been 4 year since I last used heat.  My hair is still Armpit length at the bottom after cutting into a layered bob.

 6. I applied Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner uncovered and sat under my steamer for 20 minutes then rinsed with cool water.  DEEP MOISTURIZE CONDITIONING TREATMENTS MUST BE DONE AFTER HENNA IS RINSED FROM HAIR this is a VERY IMPORTANT STEP AFTER USING HENNA!  After the DC you will want to be sure you assess your hairs moisture level for several days to ensure it doesn't become to dry and brittle which causes breakage.  

  I love this henna.  In days to come the color will deepen and I'll be sharing more photos of the twist out I wear.  The photo above is my hair fully shrunken, with no product, unfiltered. I love the shine!

All Natural, no product, no filter, all shrinkage! 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Havana's, Marley's, Senegales...What's the Difference?

During the hot summer months many Naturalistas opt for protective styles to help keep hair healthy and moisturized for longer periods of time.  This season twists with extensions are extremely popular. They can be done using several different types of extension hair and depending on which type of extension hair that's being used, the name, style, and look of the twists will vary.  Three of the most popular types of twists that I offer as a service are Marley, Havana, and Jumbo Senegalese.  To help those looking to wear twists with extensions and want to know the differences between them I have details on what they are below.  All styles in photographs below were done my me, Amber Frank for Kynxx~Natural Hair Styling.
Puffy Screw By Celebrity
Marley Twists require a specific type of hair be used.  The hair is highly textured and often labeled on the package Marley Hair or Marley Braid Hair. It is a synthetic fiber (I recommend 100% Kanekalon Marley Hair by Femi or Puffy Screw hair by Celebrity which was used in the photo above) and should be added into the hair undetected so the twists appears to be coming from the clients scalp without the additional extension hair being seen.  In the photos above all the same brand of Marley hair was used.  Marley's are usually much longer than Havana Twists as the look is meant to be long, very to medium thin sized and free flowing.  NO more than 2-3 strips of the hair should be used per twist.  After installation twists are then dipped into hot boiling water to seal the ends of twists or to set a curl to the ends of the twists using perm rods, as shown in one of the photos above. Depending on the length of twists desired and fullness, Marley Twists can take 2-6 hours to install.

Full Havana Twists using 5 strips of hair per twist
Total of only 25 Twists using 6 strips of Havana twist hair per twist 
 Full set of Havana Twists using 4 strips of hair per twist


Slim set of Havana Twists using 3 strips of hair per twist

Havana Twists follow the same concept on the install as Marley Twists.  Hair is added undetectably however the look for Havana's is achieved by using an specific type of synthetic hair that comes separated in thick strips made just for the style. This look is not mean to be long. Havana's are only meant to be arm pit length or shorter with large sized parts, using 3-6 strips per twist of extension hair for thick to very thick twists.  Havana Twist hair is purchased solely from Finger Comber website and a full head requires any where from 3-7 packs of hair depending on length and fullness desired and can take 2-3.5 hours to install.  Unlike Marely Twists, Havana's are not dipped into boiling water after they are completed.  Very small perm rods may be used on the ends, then dipped into boiling hot water for a curled end.  There is only one type of hair I use for Havana Twists and it's made by Finger Comber.  I've purchased hair from this company for going on two years. I love the customer service and the hair is REUSABLE! Yes you read it correctly the hair is reusable and can be washed and air dried to reuse another time.  In the photos below I show the finished look of a client I recently styled who brought the EXACT SAME HAIR used in a previous set of twists I'd done for her:

 This was how she brought it to me and the ONLY way I would reuse hair would be if it were brought to me would be looking this way.  She informed me she took each twist down and kept them in separated bundles.

I must add the client took extremely good care of the hair.  After removing the Havana Twists, she filled her kitchen sink up with warm water adding a small amount of shampoo, then carefully placed the hair into the water allowing it to soak 15 minutes.  After that she drained the shampoo water out of the sink, and carefully rinsed each bundle with cool water and allowed it to air dry.  I used the same number of twists from her original set.   This hair as shown above used didn't have to be dipped nor did the ends have to be curled over.  I HIGHLY recommend[FINGERCOMBER.COM] hair for Havana's as it is the only one I use for clients who want this style.  Style can last from one to 2 months depending on how well it's cared for on average. 


Jumbo Senegalese Twists also follow the same concept of adding the extension hair undetectably. This style requires the most common braiding hair used, 100% Kanekalon braiding hair.  There are different brands of Kanekalon braiding hair. My favorite brands to use are Outre' (used in photo above and below (same client), and Rastafri (this is the brand I used on my box braids back in December 2012, [click here to see hair] ) I prefer these brands because again not all braiding hair even if it reads 100% Kanekalon braiding hair on the package is the same.  Although burning the ends of braids and twists are a technique long forgotten (hopefully) to keep the ends from unraveling, these brands are both flame retardant, soft on hands, do not tangle easily, and blend well with natural hair that's been straightened or blown out.  Regular sized Senegalese Twists are quite small so I do not offer them as a service however I do the larger ones as they only take about 2-3 hours to install depending on the length and fullness desired.  Style can last from 2-3 weeks on average.

[source Google Image]
I hope this helps clarify the differences between many of the very popular twisted hair styles that require extensions.  I made this post because I often get requests for Havana Twists and ask clients to provide me with a photo of what they want and end up viewing a photo of either Marley or Jumbo Senegalese Twists. Again they are not the same so when requesting twisted styles be sure you know exactly which type you're wanting to ensure a favorable outcome.  Peace and Blessings!