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EASY & FLY: Bee’s Crochet Braid Experience

Crochet braids! (right photo courtesy of Jessica Laforet)

Crochet braids!
(right photo courtesy of Jessica Laforet)

If you know me, you know a few things when it comes to hair:

  1. I get bored easily.
  2. I love low-maintenance looks that don’t look low-maintenance.
  3. I like to give my crown a break every now and then.

Those points being said, my usual go-tos that satisfy all three have been box braids and Marley twists. They’ve both allowed me to switch my style up in various ways, they’re both low-maintenance with the versatility to be glam, and when they’re not too tight or left in too long and I take care of my scalp, my natural hair flourishes.

Last year, I wanted to try another protective style that would satisfy my three hair points, and decided to give crochet braids a whirl. I quickly fell in love – and because I’ve had folks ask a number of questions about my crochet braid styles, I thought I’d share in this post!

Now – crochet braids can easily be installed by yourself (visit YouTube University for tutorials), but my cornrowing skills are basically non-existent so I leave it to the pros. My pros in Toronto have been Hair By Glenna and V Crochet Braid Creationz (who did my hair at last summer’s Braids For AIDS braiding fundraiser).

The look basically consists of cornrowing your own hair, then hooking and looping extensions into the cornrows. The versatility comes in with your choice of extension texture or style – I’ve done crochets with two different types of curl (FreeTress Water Wave, and Outre Cuevana Bounce), but have seen people with straight styles, braids, twists, and locs. Aside from the usual loosening up of the fresh cornrows, I’ve experienced next-to-no pain or tension on my hair, making it a really comfortable style to rock.

FreeTress Water Wave (with some of the fabulous crew from Women's Health In Women's Hands Community Health Centre!)

FreeTress Water Wave (with some of the fabulous crew from Women’s Health In Women’s Hands Community Health Centre!)


Outre Cuevana Bounce

Styling it over the weeks of wear can get creative too. I always ask my stylists to cornrow my hair in a way that allows me to do a centre or side part to switch things up, and as long as the parts and loops don’t look too obvious, I’ll pull the top back with a hair clip when I need to get it out of my face. Accessories also become my best friends. Gold hair clips and scarves have been my best friends, helping me to jazz things up when I need to. Depending on curl style, your look may get even better as it ages, or you can reset and retwist to freshen up your look. I usually leave my crochets in for 4-6 weeks, and even when I think it looks horrible by the end days, a fly sista will always compliment me – so I figure it can’t look that bad 😉

So, how do I take care of the crochet braids and my hair/scalp? Hair By Glenna gave me some great tips.

It’s important to keep the scalp clean without disturbing or ruining the texture of the extensions, unless you have a type that can be wet and refreshed. With mine, I’ve cleansed my scalp two different ways so as not to ruin my texture: either by putting a bit of shampoo or conditioner on an old toothbrush, scrubbing between the cornrows, spritzing the parts with water, then towel/blow drying OR by using daily sprays of rosewater (read up on some of rosewater’s benefits here).


To moisturize, I’d apply my favourite light scalp oil like rosemary oil, and keep it movin’.

Depending on how your stylist finishes your cornrows, taking crochet braids out might feel a bit awkward until you get into the rhythm. I usually just start by un-looping or carefully cutting the extensions from my cornrows, then find the ends of my cornrows and start unraveling. A good wash and detangle later, and I’ve been left with beautifully rested hair.

Have you tried crochet braids? Leave a comment with your thoughts and tips!

BEE’S TO DO LIST: 3 Musts For Healthy, Happy Hair

Photo source: Women On The Fence

Throughout the days of wearing my hair naturally, I’ve adopted many different regimens and procedures in my hunt for healthy, luxurious hair. Pre-pooing, dry detangling, shower detangling, biweekly hot oil treatments, end dusting…you name it: I probably started doing it, said I would do it forever, then eventually fell off the bandwagon.

Like my waning product junky-ism, I try to keep my regimens down to a simple minimum. When I have more time/motivation, I love to dabble in new practices (that hopefully yield positive results), but at the end of the day, here a few of the things I have to do:

Satiny Smooth

Sleeping in a satin scarf or on a satin pillowcase is a MUST for me. Granted, there are rare times when I don’t, but my hair is always so dry and angry with me in the morning that I swear I’ll never do it again. Most nights, I tie my hair down with a satin scarf, which locks in moisture and doesn’t leave my hair tangled and snagged after a night of tossing and turning. On the nights when I’m either too lazy, feeling sexy, or just don’t feel like rockin’ the scarf, I sleep on my trusty pillowcase, like this silk pillowcase by ghair that I bought at HoneyFig here in Toronto. My hair stays moist, my curl pattern doesn’t get mashed and matted, and my morning process is much easier.

Scalp Treatment

Castor oil has become one of my best friends. I have the tendency to have a dry scalp, so I have to keep my scalp moisturized to avoid the itchiness and flaking. Back in the day, mom had me oil my scalp with this yellow grease that had bits of herbs and bark in it, all packaged up in a pseudo-kente cloth packaging – does anyone else remember that one? Heavy greases (mostly chock full of petroleum) do nothing for me except lead to build up, so castor oil is a much better scalp moisturizer for me. Not only that, castor oil is an amazing growth aid – I have definitely noticed improved growth and thickening since I started applying castor oil 3 times a week.

Ice Cold

Especially in the summer when humidity strikes, I take an extra step to try to fight the frizzies. After rinsing out all of the conditioner in my hair while washing, I turn the tap to the coldest level possible and douse my hair in the freezing cold water. Why in the hell would I do this? Well for one – it’s an amazing way to wake myself up! But with regards to my hair, cold water closes your hair’s cuticle, sealing in moisture and reducing frizz. Pantene doesn’t seem to think there’s enough scientific evidence to prove that cold water prevents frizz, but Curly Nikki has spoken on it, and I do notice more shine and less frizz when I do a cold water rinse after each and every wash.

So there you have it – a few things that I’ve maintained in the 4 years (4 years this month!) that I’ve been wearing my hair naturally! What are some of your must-dos? 

Bee’s Favourite (Hair) Things: Curlformers!

I’m back to let y’all know about another one of my favourite hair tools – the “hair curling revolution” known as Curlformers. I had never used anything like Curlformers in my life, but once I got the hang of them, I never wanted them to go away! Let me start by showing you an “after” pic, and then I’ll explain more about how I love these funny little things so…

Bee in Fall of 2009

Do you see those lovely ringlets? Let me tell you. Whenever I did a Curlformers set, I was NEVER disappointed (welllll, that’s a lie – but I’ll get to that later). First, let me answer the important questions:

What are Curlformers?

Curlformers are unique hair curling tools that look like mesh spirals:

Using a colour-coded system, Curlformers generally come in combos of short/long and narrow/wide, so you are able to get tighter or looser curls, keeping the length of your hair in mind. Salon kit packs (24-46 Curlformers) also come with a funky looking hook, which you use to pull your hair through the Curlformer.

How do you use Curlformers?

I won’t lie – the first time or two that I used the Curlformers, I nearly threw them away in a fit of tears. Me being a generally clumsy and awkward person, I just couldn’t get the hang of the Curlforming process. But I finally did, and if I can get it, you can get it. Trust me.

You use Curlformers after washing, conditioning, THOROUGHLY detangling your hair, and applying your choice of setting product. Split your head into four quadrants, and within each quadrant, you will section off small parts to be curled. For me, “small” meant no bigger than the width of my ring finger, but trial and error will always help you.

The key to Curlformers is that your hair is curled inside the tool, not on top of it like traditional rollers. Here’s the quick process:

Insert the hook into the Curlformer.

Twist the root of your hair. Just the root!

Place the hook around the root of your hair (where you twisted), and while holding on to the top of the Curlformer, gently pull the hook (and your hair) through the Curlformer.

Sound complicated? It might be at first. Check this great video by Mae of Natural Chica to see it in detail (go right to 2:55 for the hooking process). Trust me – you will get the hang of it!

YouTube Preview Image

Once you have your whole head set, you might look something like this:

Now what do you do? You let it dry. COMPLETELY. There’s nothing worse than setting your hair and getting impatient. You’re left with damp, limp, frizzy, pitiful curls. If you’re lucky enough to own a hooded dryer, use it! If not, you can blow dry (not my favourite for the whole head), or you can plan to spend a day at home and let them air dry. For me, I would pick a Saturday when I had nothing to do outside the house, wash and set in the morning, and wear them all day. For good measure I would sleep in the Curlformers, and take them out the next morning. They’re not the most comfy things to sleep in, but you can work it. 99% of the time I air dry. I’m completely dry in about 24 hours, but you have to do what works for you. Again, it’s all trial and error.

Once you’ve sufficiently dried your Curlformer set, it’s time to take them out and rock your spirals! The take-down is easy:

Pinch the root of your hair with your thumb and forefinger of one hand and hold it taught. With the other hand, pinch the top of the Curlformer and simply slide it down your hair.

And that’s it! Shake the curls out to cover your parts, and you’re good to go!

Lawd PLEASE forgive me for these bathroom photos…lol! These were just for my personal documentation back in 2009. If I had known they’d eventually be on my blog, chiiiiile…


  • Ensure that your hair is wet enough to have enough slip to slide through the Curlformer. I would always have to re-wet my hair as I went along, as dry hair will not slide through and set smoothly.
  • Try NOT looking in the mirror! Because of my poor coordination, I found it easier to Curlform my hair without looking in the mirror. I have a bad habit of telling my hubby to go left while pointing right when he’s driving…so I have some directional issues.
  • If you start removing your Curlformers and realize your hair is not dry, dampen it with some water and setting product, and re-curl it. You may have to get the blowdryer out to speed up the process, or spend a bit more time at home. For me, detangling and drying, even more so than any setting product, is the key to smooth, long-lasting curls.
  • Don’t make your sections too thick – you’ll know, because your hair will not slide through the Curlformer. Plus, it’ll take forever to dry!
  • It takes time at first, but you WILL get it! And it WILL be worth it! My quickest set (not including wash/detangle time) has been around 45 minutes. Two episodes of Martin on DVD and I’m done.

Where can I find Curlformers? And how much are they?

I bought my Curlformers here in Toronto at Sally Beauty Supply for -gulp- $69.99. Yes, I paid that much. But 2 years later, I still have them, they’re still intact, and they still work perfectly! You may find a better deal on eBay, but other online vendors I’ve seen are around the same price as Sally. Overall, I have to say Curlformers were definitely worth the investment for me!

Have you tried Curlformers? If yes, did you love them as much as me? If you’re curious, but wary because of price/time/any other concern and want some more info, let me know!

Bee’s Favourite (Hair) Things!

Photo via

Remember when Oprah would do her biannual “Favourite Things” show? Aside from praying that I’d somehow score tickets to one of those shows, I’d always love to watch from home to see how passionate Oprah was about giving away her new favourite finds.

I figured I could do my own “Favourite Things” right here on this blog, obviously without handing out freebies to my devoted audience :) Maybe sometime in the near future I might get lucky enough to host a giveaway, but for now, I’ll showcase some of my favourite hair care items and tell you where you can find them as well.

First up: *getting my Oprah yell ready* COCONUTTTTTTTT OOOIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

Photo via

For myself (and many other naturals), coconut oil is a versatile wonder tool. Coconut oil is among the best hair foods around – it is one of the only oils with the ability to penetrate the hair shaft. This means that your hair absorbs the vitamins and medium-chain triglycerides (healthy fats), making your hair healthier from the inside out. My favourite usages are as a moisturizer and a styling product:

  • Mix coconut oil with jojoba, olive, or castor oil to create a pre-poo treatment – mix the oils together and apply to scalp, and to dry hair from root to ends. Leave on for 20 minutes (cover with a shower cap or a steam cap), then rinse, and wash normally. This is great for those days when you want some extra moisturizing muscle.
  • After washing, apply coconut oil as a leave-in, then go ahead and style as you normally would.
  • Use coconut oil to seal the ends of your hair when doing twists, braids, or any other protective style.
  • Styling your hair in the morning? Use coconut oil to refresh your curls and add shine

You should try to purchase virgin or unrefined coconut oil in order to get the purest form. Personally, I have used refined coconut oil in a pinch, and still have had the same great results. Coconut oil melts at 24 degrees Celsius, so when you purchase it, it may be in a solid white or yellowish form. Scoop some out with your finger and rub vigorously between your palms to turn the solid into a clear oil, then apply.

Where can you find it? I always purchase my coconut oil at the neighbourhood grocery store or at Danforth Market, and I never spend more than $5 for a 500mL jar, which usually lasts me a good 3 months.

So, there you have it. One of Bee’s Favourite (Hair) Things! I’m sure if you get this product in your regimen, regardless of hair type or texture, coconut oil will get your hair right.

You won't be able to keep your hands out of your hair...

..your eyes will roll in the back of your head from the softness...

...and you just might want to hop on a couch and show love, Tom Cruise-style!

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