Saturday, January 8, 2011

My 5 Day Experiment with a Simple Style for Long Hair

My hair was never this long when I wore it straight
I really try to wear protective styles during the winter, but my options are limited because I can't braid well, I don't want to wear weaves or extensions and putting my hair in small twists is an undesired all day project.  During the holidays, I had a little downtime and that was just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing.

Ideally I needed my style to be: 
  • Protective - Chicago winters are brutal.
  • Versatile - I can't imagine wearing my hair the same way everyday.
  • Quick - I love my hair, but there are only so many hours in the day and I need to be more productive with my time. 
  • Long-lasting and neat - I'm not interested in washing more than once every two weeks, so I need a style that will last and will be neat.  If I need to do a touch up, it needs to be a simple process.
  • Simple - I'm not a hairstylist and braiding is not an option.
  • Professional - None of the above matters if I can't wear the style to work
Now that I identified my criteria, I needed to find a hairstyle that would work.  My first question was how can I use my length and thickness to my advantage?  I instantly thought about goddess braids.  Since I don't braid, I decided to play around with large twists to create some kind of updo similar to a goddess braid style.  Variation is important, so each day of this past week, I tried to do something a little different with the style to see if this was really going to work.

I forgot to take a before picture on Monday,
so this was actually taken on Tuesday.
The starting point is the same each day.
After I washed and detangled, I put my hair into 18 large twists.  Why 18?  Well, I initially started with 10 twists, but they were too large to style neatly, which was one of the criteria, so I had to adjust.  I guess I was being overly ambitious :-)  In the front, I had 4 twists on each side.  In the bottom back row, I created 4 twists and I created two rows above that with 3 in each row.  This became my starting point for my styling experiment.

4 twists in the bottom row; 3 twists in each of the
2 rows above that

I like the front better than the back
Monday - My first thought was to gather my twists in some kind of a french roll using several large bobby pins.  It was a little difficult to get the roll nice and neat, so I slapped this decorative thing on top of it (I forgot what that comb is called).  Now it's just a decorative and messy bundle of twists.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but I'm getting ready for work, so I can't spend a lot of time with it (remember quick was a criteria).  I'm wearing a turtle neck on this day, so I wanted to secure the back section of my hair.  I tucked that section under with a bobby pin and although this wasn't the best look, it was going to have to do for that day.

Not what I had in mind, but this can get better with practice

Warning - I lost approximately an inch and a half of hair in the back due to damage.  I'm not exactly sure what caused it, but I seriously think that my hair rubbing against my turtlenecks was a HUGE part of the problem if not the sole cause of the problem.  I absolutely love turtlenecks in the winter, but since the bottom half of my hair looked like it had been through a shredder, I think the turtlenecks and wool sweaters took its toll.  So it's important to not only protect your hair from the weather, but from your clothes as well.

I love coordinating clothes & accessories

Tuesday - All day Monday, I felt like a blob cuz I wasn't very happy with the results of my style.  I wanted to jazz it up, so I could have a better day.  I had to come up with another way to pin up my hair since I didn't like the french roll as much as I thought I would (I'll revisit that later when I have more time and patience) and I didn't like the way my ends at the bottom looked tucked under.  So this time, I pulled my hair up in sections and did a series of pin curls making sure all of my ends were secure and tucked under the twists and that the bobby pins were not visible.  I also untwisted the bottom 4 twists for a twistout.  I intentionally picked a sweater with a lower neckline, so I wouldn't need to worry so much about my hair rubbing against it (although it did a little), but it wasn't a wool top so hopefully, it didn't cause a problem.  Besides, if my hair can't touch any fabric at all, then it's not worth having!

You see that crooked part? I need to clean this side up a little.
I'm a big fan of finger parting, but I know I can do better.
I'll fix it this weekend.
To console myself after having my not-so-great hair day, I decided to raid my closet for some color.  There's no better feeling than going from drab winter colors to a bright cheery color!  I even found some chopsticks I forgot I had that went very well with my top and jewelry.  I'm feeling much better about this style.  I think this may be a keeper!

With the exception of the puffy party, I think this was pretty good

I can be a little overly critical at times, but I wasn't too excited about that puffy section above my twistout.  The only way to avoid this would be to either add more twists or to flat twist this section.  It's not that serious to me, so I'll just have to get over it.

Simple and clean look in the front. Perfect for the office.
Wednesday - If it ain't broke, don't fix it, so I stayed with my pin curling technique, but I'm back to wearing a turtle neck, so I want to secure my ends.  This time, instead of tucking them under, I pulled them up using the same pin curling technique I used at the top.  Oh yeah, now I'm getting the hang of this!  

My olive flower pin was another treasure I had in my stash waiting for an opportunity to flourish.  Today was the day!

There's a lot going on back here, but I LOVE it!

Amazing what a clip can do!

Thursday - Same pin tucks at the top.  I inserted some brown chopsticks and I found this clip that went perfectly with the sticks.  I love shopping in my own supply of accessories!  Anyway, when I pulled the twists together in the clip, it allowed me to tuck the ends under in a way that I thought was cute.  This was much neater than my original tuck under on Monday and having the clip there makes my none twisted section (the puffy part) above the clip look better too.  Oh boy!  This style keeps getting better!

Option 2

You could wear this style with the twists tucked under or leave those twists out.  You know I'm all about variety with little additional work ;-)

Ignore the head and check out the hair :-)

Friday - You know I must have been feeling good at this point because I almost never face the camera when taking a picture of myself.  It may be all in my mind, but I think it makes my head look distorted.  Anyway, nothing different here.  This is the same style I did on Tuesday, I just used flowers instead of chopsticks and you'll notice that the twistout at the bottom is looser than it was on Tuesday, which I think looks better.  It's amazing how much the accessories compliment the styles and add variety to the same styling method.  Guess you know what I'll be doing this weekend!

I surprised myself with this one!

I should also mention that each night, I unpinned the twists and wore a satin scarf to bed.  Probably 2 or 3 of those nights, I lightly spritz my hair with rose water and put a little oil on the ends.  Each morning, I only spent about 10 minutes pinning my hair up neatly.   I will probably get faster with a little more experience, but 10 minutes isn't bad.  This weekend, I will take the twists down, spritz them with a little rosewater and apply a little coconut oil before retwisting them backing into my starting point style.  I'm doing this because I want a fresh start to next week and I won't wash it until next weekend.  This weekend, I'll also stop by a few stores and look for some more fun accessories :-)

Thanks for letting me share my week of experimenting with you.  I hope you find this useful.  Please post a comment and let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.  You can also post questions or send me a message.  

~Loving Me Naturally


  1. Beautiful twisted styles. I'm going to have to try them. I have been braiding which takes me approximately 9 hours at my current length and I'm becoming overwhelmed.

    Do you have a favorite deep conditioner and leave in conditioner? Our hair are similar textures so I was just curious.

  2. 9 hours - wow! Well, I hope this works for you and save you a tremendous amount of time that can be allocated elsewhere.

    My favorite deep conditioners are Aubrey Organics Jojoba & Aloe Desert Herb and Jane Carter Nutrient Replenishing conditioner. The Aubrey you use before shampooing and the Jane Carter you use after shampooing and it makes my detangling process easier (unless I just came out of an afro). For leave-in, I use Kinky Curly Knot Today or Alba, whichever one I have. Right now I'm using Alba.

  3. love the hair


  4. I love it. Your accessories are awesome too!

  5. Thanks embracingmycurls! The accessories really make the style!

  6. I love this! Your twists look so thick and luscious. The styles are sophisticated and regal. I can't wait until I can try some of these styles. I also love your style and accessories. It's perfect! :)

  7. Mangomadness - please check back in and let me know if some of those styles work for you. I love to feel like I'm being helpful ;-) BTW - twists that size makes a great twistout!

    Thanks for the compliment on my style and accessories. My transition to natural hair jump started all that. Before then, I wasn't into accessories at all LOL

  8. Absolutely beautiful hair!! I love this post.

  9. Lovely! Absolutely Lovely! Can't wait for a bit more length to try it!

  10. Thanks Jan - There are definitely a lot of options when you have some length and imagination. All the best!

  11. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! You must know how much these styles have inspired me to try something new. I normally just rock a wash and go fro (I live in TX so the winters aren't all that). But your criteria for styling matches mine TO A TEE! A good two strand twist session that I'll like as a twist out takes 3 1/2 hours and that's just not feasible. I'll be making some time to try these. And forgive me for not already knowing, but what are pin tucks?


  12. Thanks for your comment!! Imagine taking a twist and shaping it into a circle and securing it with hair pins. Depending on how many twists you put together to form these circles and the positions that you put them in, it forms a different look. I like that because it helps with versatility, but the downside is I have the hardest time achieving the same look twice!