How I cut and trim my natural hair

eleanorjadore - how I cut and trim my natural hair

Hello Lovelies

The topic of cutting natural hair has recently been coming up a lot. Not only for me and my hair, but in the natural hair groups I belong to as well as naturals that I’ve been connecting with on a personal level. It’s become quite apparent that there are a lack of stylists who know how to cut natural hair, not only in South Africa, but elsewhere in the world as well, to the point where girls will travel miles and miles to have their hair shaped by the one specific stylist they can trust. I have just recently met a natural who will only go to one stylist in particular in New York to have her hair cut, even though she spends much of her time abroad.

Unfortunately, not all of us have access to this type of luxury, myself included. It’s with this dilemma in mind that a curlfriend of mine reached out to me recently and asked me to share my thoughts and experiences on how I’ve been getting my hair cut.

Since I started my natural hair journey while I was living in Japan, I’ve never been to a stylist. Curly/afro hair stylists simply don’t exist there, and if they do I’ve never never been able to find one. Be that as it may, I quickly schooled myself in the ways of DIY hair cutting. I’m sure there are a number of methods of doing it, but this is how I’ve gone about it.

eleanorjadore - how I cut and trim my natural hair

Cutting and shaping my own hair

To shape up my mane, I usually enlist the help of my husband to give me the cut that is referred to as the Deva Cut. I wrote a detailed post about it here, but basically it’s a technique where the hair is cut in its  natural form: dry, not wet. Each curl is individually shaped and the style is based on the individual, which is what I love about this technique. You work with your own curl pattern, of lack thereof even, but it’s based on your hair. There’s no need to blow-dry and/or flat iron the hair first.

This is how we do it:

  1. Wash my hair and air-dry.
  2. Once completely dry, I’ll sit myself down in front of the mirror.
  3. My husband will start cutting, commencing from the back left side first, making his way to the front. Following this he’ll start from the back right, and continually compare the shape with the right side as he makes his way forward on the right side.
  4. So he cuts just about every single curl on my head until I’m happy with the shape.

As I mentioned in my previous post about this technique, this cut is definitely more about the shape than the length. Many curly girls have multiple curl patterns on their head, and I’m no exception. The hair at the nape of my  head has a much looser curl pattern, which means it doesn’t shrink up as much as the rest of my hair. The result is usually that that hair hangs down longer on my back, even though it really is in proportion to the rest of my hair. But ultimately it just looks silly or as my brother used to call it, “the stingray look’. So we always try to get those proportions right. The end result is that those strands end up quite a bit shorter than the rest of the hair, but because of its loose curl pattern, it hangs in proportion to the rest of the hair. So it looks as good at the back as it does in the front.

And as I’ve said before, I’ve never been to a salon to have my hair shaped up as this method has worked well for me so far. I’ve also heard one too many horror stories of curly hair cuts and general styling gone wrong.

Trimming my own hair

I usually trim my hair myself and do this when my ends are extra dry, frayed or when it seems like the single strands knots are starting to take over. So after having cleansed, deep conditioned and then applying a leave-in conditioner, I’ll proceed to twist my hair as usual. Once I’ve completed each twist I’ll cut off about 1cm of hair. If your hair is long enough this is really an easy way to trim and keep your ends healthy.

Which ever method you choose, I have a few tips to make the DIY process a little bit easier:

  1. Go slowly – You don’t want to rush cutting your own hair as it’s easier to make mistakes and you’ll have to be  patient waiting for the mistakes to grow back.
  2. Only cut off a little at a time – You can rather go back and take off a little bit more hence tip no 1.
  3. Enlist the help of someone you trust – It does not necessarily have to be someone who’s cut hair before, just as long as it’s someone who realises how important this process is to you. That will automatically make them take care of you and your curls and leave your mind at ease.

How do you get your hair cut? Salon visits or DIY? Please share below.

Love your curls

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Autumn Side Swept Do

My hair has been doing quite a number on me recently. On the one hand it’s really healthy, shiny and strong and I’m retaining a lot of length. But on the other, I’ve seriously been battling single strand knots and it’s been driving me up the wall. Of course the knots aren’t visible in these photos, but I do think my ends appear rather dried and frayed, which is as a result of the knots (although it could be that my hair hadn’t dried properly). I recently trimmed my ends while in twists and immediately after that I went in search of knots on individual strands – you can read that post here –  and while I got rid of a lot, it feels like I still have a long way to go with them.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll have to cut off at least another  1 – 2 cm fairly soon. So I’ve made a decision. In the interest of being able to see all the knots, I’m 99% sure that I’m going to blow-dry and probably flat-iron my hair when I’m in Cape Town in December. I’ll enquire with my curlfriends on stylist recommendations, someone who knows how to work with natural hair and just take it from there. I’m hoping that having my hair straight will make it much easier for a stylist to give me an adequate cut. I also feel like I just need to have this done once  and then I’ll be fine to trim my own ends again as needed once I’m back in Japan. It’s entirely possible that I’m making a mountain out of a mole-hill, but when it comes to my fro I’d rather err on the side of caution.

Regarding these photos, it does still amaze me  that my hair can go from small to big in a matter of hours. In these images, I’m sporting a fresh braid-out with a side sweep and some of the hair tied in a mini side pony tail at the back. Very simple but I felt quite pretty and in a matter of hours, it had magically grown, just the way I expected it to.

Love your curls,

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How I trim my Single Strand Knots

If there’s one thing about having kinky/curly/coily hair that can be quite annoying it’s having to deal with single strand knots (SSK’s), aka fairy knots. If you don’t know what single strand knots are, they are tiny knots that form on one single strand of hair. The hair loops around itself and forms a knot, mostly towards the end of the strand, but it can also form towards to the top of the strand. I don’t know how, but it’s also possible for more than one knot to form on an individual strand. While I was trimming my SSK’s over the weekend I discovered a few strands with 3 knots on them!

These types of knots are a lot more common with longer hair and is thankfully something you won’t have to deal with much if you choose to wear your hair short.

How to identify SSK’s

If you run your fingers over your strands and they feel bumpy towards the ends, it’s more than likely that it’s a knot. Take a closer look at the individual strand in the mirror if you’re not sure.  I needed to trim my hair over the weekend anyway,  but decided to aggressively tackle the SSK’s as well.

This picture shows the trimmed curls in addition to the individually trimmed strands with the knots clearly visible.

What causes SSK’s and how can they be prevented?

Some people believe that a knot is a symptom of a weak part on the hair strand. Others believe that it is simply the nature of natural hair to form these pesky little knots at some point, especially as the hair gets longer, because there are more curls and kinks on the strands.

It’s worth considering then that you’ll probably develop a few at some point, but keeping your hair tangle free and moisturised as much as possible will help to minimise them. Here are a few things you can do right now to help keep them at bay.

  1. Wash hair in sections and continuously smooth and wash the hair in a downward motion to minimise tangles and prevent the hair from twisting and looping around itself.
  2. Use loads of conditioner while detangling to give you maximum slip.
  3. Add a generous amount of your favourite oil to your conditioner to aid in giving maximum slip.
  4. Protect your ends by making sure you are sealing them properly and wearing some type of protective style. I know we see this advice often, but it definitely does help, so this Autumn and approaching Winter I plan to protect my ends with an extra layer of hair butter as well as step up my protective styling game by keeping my ends hidden more frequently. I noticed that I had more knots on the hair towards the back of my neck and realised it’s because this is the hair that is constantly touching my clothes and creating friction.
  5. Stretch your ends with twist/braid-outs and roller sets as opposed to wearing wash & go’s as the resulting curled up ends provide the perfect opportunity for tangles.
  6. Trim your hair when necessary – while having only a few SSK’s shouldn’t have you too worried, if left unmanaged, they’ll seem to suddenly appear  en masse which is when they can cause ridiculous tangling and a nightmare of a detangling session. They can also cause weak points in the hair which can lead to breakage or even split ends. So just trim your hair when necessary in order to limit the damage.
  7.  I’ve also read somewhere that you can try unravelling them with a needle, but I really don’t know who has the time for that!

Check out this short video to see how I trim my single strand knots. 

Hope this helps Girls. If you have any more advice or experience to share on dealing with SSK’s please comment below.

Love your curls!

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The Deva Cut – How I used this method to cut my naturally curly hair

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It was after reading this BHLH article that I realised I didn’t ever do a post on how I’ve been getting my hair cut. Since fully embracing my curls in all their natural glory, one thing I did find to be a challenge was getting it trimmed, especially here in Tokyo where there really isn’t much of a natural hair scene. So after scouring  You Tube videos I did eventually succumb to trimming it myself the first two times. How did I do it? Simply by twisting my hair up and snipping off the ends of each twist.

However, it’s with the last trim that I knew I wanted something more.

The thing is that even though I was retaining lots of length, my hair started looking a bit drab to me. And by drab I don’t mean lifeless or damaged, I simply didn’t like that some bits of hair were hanging  a lot longer than other pieces were. I decided that I needed a shape-up. But what’s a curly girl to do when she has no natural hair salon to go to? I decided to enlist the help of my fiancé to cut my hair for me. That’s right! I asked my caucasion fiance who had never dealt with a single curly hair in his life to take the shape of my fro in his hands. On top of that, I requested a very specific type of cut to give me my current shape. You guessed it, I asked him to give me the Deva Cut, and it came out looking fabulous, even if I do say so myself.

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What is the Deva Cut

In case you don’t know what it is, the Deva Cutting technique is a technique used by the Devachan Salon in New York for cutting curly hair, developed by Lorraine Massey from the famed Curly Girl Method. The premise of this technique is that the hair is cut in its natural form: dry, not wet. Each curl is individually shaped and the style is based on the individual.

This is what I love about this technique. You work with your own curl pattern, of lack thereof even, but it’s based on your hair. There’s no need to blow-dry and/or flat iron the hair first, which is the way my hair was always cut before my healthy, natural hair journey days.

I really like this definition I found on the Devachan Salon website.

The Deva Cutting technique is Devachan’s revolutionary method for cutting curly hair. The hair is cut dry, simply because we wear our hair dry not wet. We cut the hair in its natural form, curl by curl. Since curly hair and it’s spring factor (insert shrinkage) can be misinterpreted while wet. This unique innovation allows the stylist to sculpt each client’s hair, according to their individual curl, look, and style.

Further on the website is also states that stylists must be highly trained in this technique to execute the cut successfully. So what training was involved before subjecting my hair to this cut? Watching countless amount of You Tube videos of stylists doing the cut, including the pioneer Lorraine Massey herself. Was I nervous before we set off? Definitely. But before we started both my fiancé and I had a clear idea of how the technique works and how I envisioned my final look.

This is how we went about it.

  1. I washed my hair in the morning, applied some product and let it air-dry.
  2. Once it was completely dry, I sat myself down with my full-length mirror in front of me.
  3. My fiancé started cutting, commencing from the back left side first, making his way to the front. Following this he started from the back right, and continually compared the shape with the left side as he made his way forward on the right side.
  4. He lovingly cut just about every single curl on my head until I was happy with the shape!

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I have to say that this cut is definitely more about the shape, than the length. Most curly girls have multiple curl patterns on their head, and I’m no exception. The hair at the nape of my  head has a much looser curl pattern, which means it doesn’t shrink up as much as the rest of my hair. The result is usually that that hair hangs down longer on my back, even though it really is in proportion to the rest of my hair. But ultimately it just looks silly or as my brother used to call it, “the stingray look’. So we set about getting those proportions right. The end result is that those strands are now quite a bit shorter than the rest of my hair, but because of its loose curl pattern, it hangs in proportion to the rest of the hair. So it looks as good at the back as it does in the front.

In reference to the BGLH article,  it says if you don’t wear a wash and go ’25/8′ then this style really is not for you. But to be honest I actually wear my hair in twist/braid-outs most of the time, with wash and go’s only making more of an appearance during these hot Summer months, and the shape works well for both my shrunken and stretched styles. Also, I never heat stretch my hair anymore, so for the uneven lengths I’m sure I have, it really doesn’t matter as I’m only sporting my voluminous curls.

In the end I suppose it does come down to what works for one head of  hair might not work for another, but if you are looking for a shape to give you bouncy curls that pop, do give this technique a try.

Have you ever tried this cutting method? Let me know below.

And remember to always love your curls, x

How often should you cut your hair?

Cutting your natural hair

One aspect about my hair that I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with is cutting and trimming. In the days before knowing anything about growing healthy hair, I didn’t have any qualms about cutting off quite big portions to achieve a cute new style, whether it was straight or curly. However, the problem would emerge when I’d try to grow out the style and achieve some form of length below my shoulders. Unfortunately it never came. So I would get bored and chop it all off again. This is how the cycle continued for years.

In hindsight, if I had only just trimmed  the hair at some form of a regular interval, I’m sure I could have achieved much longer lengths as I am now. The main problem I used to have was when hairdressers would say to me that trimming would make the hair grow faster and longer. To me this always sounded like complete non-sense, which it is. What does the hair at my roots have to do with my ends? Nothing right?

It all comes down to your ends being the oldest part of your hair. Because they’ve been around the longest out of all the hair on your head, they often appear thinner than the roots as they’ve been subjected to more washing, styling, brushing, heat styling and generally more manipulation than the rest of the hair. This is due to the cuticle having been stripped away gradually.

Trimming does however help the hair to remain as healthy as possible while keeping the thinning ends in check. It also removes any damaged and split ends. Remember, split ends tend to travel up the shaft of the hair and can literally cause a split further up, which can actually damage a completely healthy area of the strand.

So always keep in mind that  trimming split ends will help to make the hair healthier, which means there are no damaged and breaking ends. This will in turn allow the strands to retain the length. With that said, how often should you cut your hair?  If you want to keep your hair at the same length, I’d say a trim every  6-8 weeks should do the trick. But if you’re aiming to grow your hair longer to let’s say bra-strap or mid-back length, I’d recommend only cutting it when it needs it. If it’s still healthy 6 months after your last trim, just leave it be. Otherwise you’ll only be cutting off perfectly healthy hair that you’ve been been putting so much effort into maintaining.

So how do you know when you need a trim/cut?

  • If the ends are dry and split.
  • If you are getting more single strand knots than you usually do.
  • If your hair is heat damaged.
  • If you increasingly have to apply more product than usual to achieve your desired look and feel.
  • If no matter how much you moisturise your hair remains dry.

What ever you do, just don’t make the mistake of not ever getting a trim. Long term this can only lead to uneven, see-through, scraggly and yes, damaged ends, which can ultimately hamper any girl’s plans to achieve happy, healthy hair.

As always, love your curls.

xxx

How often do you trim your hair?