WATCH: Protective styling | My twist out method for natural hair

twist out on natural hair be whole

One of my go-to protective styles since I’d began my natural hair journey, is the twist out. It’s low maintenance and lasts me up to 5 days.

It’s also a style that you can try if you’re transitioning because having two different hair textures to style can be extremely frustrating. And it’s the main reason why I’d finally big chopped, two years ago.

Take a look at this video of my twist out tutorial:

For your twist out, you’ll need:

  • A wide tooth comb for sectioning
  • 4 hair ties or hair grips
  • A spray bottle with water
  • A preferred oil for your hair ( I use olive oil)
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Styling product (gel or cream)

How to apply your products:

  1. I start by sectioning my freshly washed, damp hair into four paths and using my hair ties (made from stockings) to tie my hair. I don’t mess around with elastic bands covered in cotton because my hair snatches those in three uses.
  2. Next, I apply my leave-in conditioner to each section, and tie it back into buns to hold the moisture. Apply the product from ends to root because the ends are the oldest and driest part of your hair – in need of the most moisture.
  3. After applying the leave-in conditioner, I apply extra virgin olive oil. I prefer olive oil because it absorbs easily and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. I start at the end and work the oil through my hair from the root.
  4. Lastly, apply your styling product, using the same method – starting at the ends and then working the product through your hair from the root.

Getting the twists right

Start by taking two sections of hair  – twist the first piece of hair (whichever one you choose) over the other section, ensuring that the original sides are always facing you . It’s like a u-turn. Twist both sections at the same time in opposite directions. Each hair strand must return to its original position.

Tip: Add some more product to the ends of our hair if it’s needed and finger curl so it doesn’t untie.

If your hair starts to dry, spritz it damp using your  spray bottle of water.

I make about 20 twists which takes me just over an hour. The smaller sections  of hair you use, the smaller your twists will be.

To dry – I air-dry, preferably overnight. But if I’m not able to air-dry my hair, I’ll usually diffuse my hair with a hair dryer, using medium heat.

And that’s it.

Ensure that your hair has completely dried before untying your twists to avoid frizz.

Finally, I add some olive oil to my hands before untying the  twists, which reduces frizz and gives added shine to my hair.

Did you enjoy this video tutorial? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment in the space below or email me directly to

Connect with me Instagram: @robynruththomas

Review: Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Range

dark and lovely au naturale haircare range - be whole

I’ve had my hands folding in prayer position since I began using Dark and Lovely‘s new Au Naturale range.

It’s amazing how much length I’ve been able to retain over the past two weeks of using these products, and while standing in the shower, washing, and then conditioning my hair, I kept thinking, “OMG! OMG! My hair has really grown!” Something all naturals with type 3 to 4 hair would celebrate.

Dark and lovely and I go way back. I can’t tell you how many boxes of relaxer I went through as a child. And when I began my transition to natural hair, I swore that a relaxer would never touch my head again. Since then, I hadn’t used any Dark and Lovely products, aside from a Blonde hair colour for ethnic hair because I wanted to go lighter and there’s only one stylist I trust do my hair, and she wasn’t available.

The colouring results worked out well, even though I have so much hair – one box wasn’t enough. I’d managed to DIY an ombre effect but steered away from using any Dark and Lovely product other than that. But now, since Dark and Lovely’s own transition to natural hair care, I was eager to try it out.

But now, since Dark and Lovely’s own transition to natural hair care, I was eager to try it out.

Take a look at my full review of each Au Naturale product below:

dark and lovely au naturale - be wholeimg_0647

Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Moisture Replenishing Shampoo –   R34.95 (250ml)


A slim, transparent bottle with a secure, flip lid. The shampoo’s fruity scents of mango oil and bamboo milk become more distinct as the product lathers, making wash day a fragrant experience.


I generally use small amounts of shampoo, parting my hair in four sections before washing and then working through each section separately. A 250 ml bottle/tub of shampoo could last me over two months, even though I always shampoo twice on wash day.

The Moisture Replenishing Shampoo lathered my hair instantly in one use and got quite foamy. I used an almond size amount for each of the four sections and while massaging my scalp, felt that I could have used less product. I decided not to shampoo twice because my scalp felt clarified.

This is not a detangling shampoo so be sure to part your hair before washing, focusing only on your scalp or follow through with the Au Naturale Knot-Out Conditioner.

What’s in it:

Water, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamide mea, sodium chloride, fragrance, phenoxyethanol, polyquaternium-7, polysorbate 20, potassium sorbate, glycol stearate, mangifera indica seed oil/ mango seed oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, polyquaternium-10, citric acid, sodium PCA, disodium edta, sodium benzoate, benzyl salicylate, linalool, benzyl alcohol, bambusa vulgaris extract, ci 19140/ yellow 5, ci 14700/ red 4, ci 17200/ red 33, ci 42090/ blue 1. f.i.l. d54782/2

Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Knot-out Conditioner –   R34.95 (250ml)


Identical to the packaging of the Moisture Replenishing Shampoo, the Knot-out Conditioner comes in a slim, transparent bottle with a secure, flip lid. The consistency is thick and mask-like which works well for detangling naturally thick hair, easily.


I was surprised at how effortlessly I’d managed to detangle my hair using this product. The distinct fragrance of mango oil and bamboo milk perfumed my entire bathroom, which automatically put me in a good mood. Wash day can be pretty exhausting so spending less than 15 minutes detangling all of my hair was miraculous.


This is big and literally no exaggeration.

I stood in the shower, looked at the drain, and shrieked; “is that all?!” Nearly no shedding! I was even a little concerned because my hair was retaining so much length and I thought that maybe the product had loosened my curl pattern. But nothing of the sort.

I used quite a generous amount of product as usual. By the end of my first use (during week one), the bottle was already half empty so I’m hoping that there will be an increase in the bottle size in future. You probably don’t need to use as much conditioner as I do but I’d prefer to coat my hair liberally for finger detangling.

For extra moisture, scrunch your hair from root to tip, leave for about 15 minutes, and then rinse.

What’s in it:

Water, cetearyl alc o h o l , e l a e i s g u i n e e n s i s o i l / p a l m o i l , behentrimonium chloride, parfum / fragrance, glycerin, phenoxyethanol, isopropyl alcohol, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, mangifera indica s e e d o i l / m a n g o s e e d o i l , c a p ry l i c / c a p r i c , t r i g ly c e r i d e , c i t r i c a c i d , c h l o r h e x i d i n e dihydrochloride, benzyl salicylate, linalool, bambusa vulgaris extract. f.i.l. d158442/3

dark and lovely au naturale be wholeDark and lovely au naturale haircare range - be whole

Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Plaiting Pudding Cream – R69.95 (250ml)


A transparent tub of thick, pinkish pudding with a creamy texture, gel-like hold, and a mild fruity fragrance.


After first use?

Not so great.

I usually style my hair using the LOC method – applying a leave-in conditioner, oil, and then a cream to seal the moisture. This time,  while attempting a twist out, and following the Plaiting Pudding Cream instructions, I went straight from rinsing my conditioner, to t-shirt drying, and then applying the pudding.

Because I didn’t apply my usual olive oil seal, my hair became knotty again and the pudding’s gel-like hold worked so quickly that it was difficult for me to slip my fingers through my hair. The result was soft, wavy hair that frizzed after a few hours.

The next day, I’d applied more pudding, retwisted, and left to air dry for the entire day. The result was an oily residue and an undefined, frizzy head  of hair.

You win some, you learn some.

Don’t expect great results by applying generic instructions. Let your hair tell you what it needs because your texture is unique.

Once I’d washed again, reverted to my own routine, and then applied the pudding as needed – beautiful!

What’s in it:

 Water, glycerine, glycine soja oil / soybean oil, polysorbate 80, peg-40 hydrogenated castor oil, triethanolamine, oleth-5, carbomer, parfum / fragrance, phenoxyethanol, bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate-2, caprylyl glycol, mangifera indica s e e d o i l / m a n g o s e e d o i l, butylene glycol, benzyl salycylate, linalool, benzyl alcohol, limonene,  ci 14700 / red 4, geraniol, bambusa vulgaris sap extract, ci 19140 / yellow 5, citric acid. (f.i.l. d55311/4)

Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Afro Moisturising Butter – R69.95 (250ml)


A transparent tub of creamy, white butter with a refreshing herbal fragrance, centred on honey and Gaurana Root.


*Closing my eyes and stretching my open hands up to the sky.

If you’ve been searching for a hydrating cream to give your hair the moisture and definition it needs, go out and get yourself a tub of this butter.

Parting my hair  into 8 sections, after washing, conditioning, and applying about a R5 coin size of olive oil to my hair, I carefully slid the Afro Moisturising Butter onto each section.  I start at the ends and then clasp the hair through my hands from root to tip. My curls were so defined. Take a look at what my wash-and-go results looked like below.

Style suggestion: Apply a coat of hair gel if you’d like to wear your wash and go for a few days. I use a Flaxseed gel that I make myself – it takes about 10 mins and you only need 3 ingredients. You can find the recipe, here.

What’s in it:

Water, caprylic /capric triglyceride, cocos nucifera oil / coconut oil, stearyl alcohol, glycerin, dimethicone, butylene glycol, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, stearic acid, palmitic acid, parfum / fragrance, steareth-100, polyacrylamide, phenoxyethanol, sorbic acid, c13-14 isoparaffin, steareth-2, limonene, hexyl cinnamal, hydroxypropyltrimonium honey, laureth-7, mannan, xanthan gum, paullinia cupana seed extract, methylisothiazolinone, citronellol, citral, geraniol, benzyl alcohol, linalool, ci 19140 / yellow 5, ci 15985 / yellow 6, ci 14700 / red 4, ci 17200 / red 33, ci 42090 / blue 1Defined curls using dark and lovely au naturale - be whole

To view more pics and join a tribe conversation, connect with me on Instagram: @robynruththomas

All products provided by Dark  and Lovely South Africa

*Available in major retailers such as Clicks and Dischem Pharmacy from October 2016.

Photos/ Lucienne Haupt


6 things to do for great skin

As a child and throughout my teens, I had really good skin. I didn’t have any pigmentation, dark circles, pimples or other skin concerns. But by my 22nd birthday, I’d developed bouts of acute acne that I didn’t know how to treat.

A lot of people told me that the contraceptive pill would improve my skin dramatically so I decided to try it. I went to a reputable dermatologist who prescribed Yaz, which improved my acne within a month. By month three, there were no visible signs that I had ever had a skin concern – only now, I was suffering from shortness of breath, depressive moods, fatigue and mild nausea. I had just begun progressing my fitness goals and these symptoms were holding me back. Aside from that, my shitty mood swings were influencing my productivity and relationships –  so I stopped taking it and went back to my dermatologist, who agreed that I was right to discontinue use of the pill. She then suggested Roaccutane – said to be the god of acne treatments – but wanted to me to write a letter saying that I understood all the symptoms which were potentially lethal. I wasn’t going to do that. I can live with pimples if it means I’m not killing myself.

Next, I consulted a homeopath – such a lovely lady. I went for a bio-resonance screening and was able to view all my body’s ailments.

My homeopath advised of some home remedies that were quite useful and some interesting facts about food that I never knew. This is now I look after my skin now:

Cut down on meat and dairy
Fruit and vegetables contain lots of nutrients to maintain healthy skin.

I would never have pegged meat for an unhealthy food source but when you think about steroid hormone implants used for growth in food-producing animals, it’s great cause for concern. Animals are injected with hormones to grow quickly and once they are slaughtered for food products, where do those hormone implants go? Correct, into our bodies. The same goes for by-products like milk and eggs. It’s really hard to cut down on foods that you’ve been eating your entire life but I for one am not keen for a prolonged hormonal imbalance. I get most my protein from Veg and fish and opt for either rice or nut milk.

Get enough sleep

A lack of sleep literally makes you unattractive, you look tired and fatigued, your skin is dull and you’re not always in the best mood when you haven’t slept enough. Some people train their bodies to operate of little hours of sleep but there is no better cure for your body than a good night’s sleep. Beauty sleep is just an old wives tale. Ensure that you get up to 8 hours of sleep every night so that you are functioning at your full potential. Your body will also be able to fight any bacteria better when you are rested and recharged.

Exfoliate once or twice a week

Depending on your skin type, you should exfoliate once or twice a week. Exfoliation is the process of using a coarse material (gentle enough to use on your skin) to scrub and remove your dead skin cells. You’re shedding skin every day – a little gross fun fact about your skin: according to, you can shed up to 3.6 kg of skin per year. Actually, it’s natural, not gross, but imagine that. You can find an exfoliator at any retail store or make one from ingredients you have at home. A great home exfoliator that I usually use is my ground cinnamon and honey mix. One the days when I’m too lazy to make my two-ingredient exfoliator, I use Lush Dark Angel charcoal scrub – it’s amazing.

Moisturise religiously
Using the correct moisturiser for your skin type could be the make-or-break of your skin condition.

During my years as a beauty consultant, I would always stress the importance of moisturising to my clients. If you need to hydrate just as much as you wash your face. Every time you cleanse your face you are not only removing dirt but moisture from your skin as well. Failure to moisturise can lead to your skin feeling tight, dry, dull, prone to wrinkles and even stretch marks. Hydrating your skin helps to improve your skin’s elasticity so that you continue to look younger for longer.

Embrace a no-makeup day once in a while

I know exactly what it’s like to see your skin looking dull or wanting to conceal an unsightly pimple but there are times when you seriously need to allow your skin to breathe. That means no makeup. At all. For at least a full day. It’s one hell of a task for some women, especially my friends in the beauty industry – makeup has become like clothing for us, we feel naked without it.  Working out is a great way to open your pores as you sweat, your body will unblock any pores.

Drink green tea
Green tea is a great, mild skin detoxifier.

Drinking Green tea is by far the cheapest, most effective way to detox. The tea contains essential antioxidants that promotions the flow of oxygen and blood in your system. A lot of people don’t enjoy the taste of green tea but you can camouflage the taste with some lemon or honey or both, otherwise, allow yourself to become accustomed to the taste.

What are you doing to maintain or improve your skin? Please share your tips with me in the comment section below. Let’s connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – and pop me a comment to follow back <3




7 ways to retain moisture and shine in natural hair

I am really in love with my hair right now. If you’ve been following my natural hair journey, you’ll know that I’ve come a long way from being conditioned to hate my hair (and holding hundreds of scarfs and beanies captive) to now flaunting my thick, puffy curls.

One year, while working at a student magazine, our editorial team managed a photo shoot for Jeannie D. We were preparing her for hair and makeup when she’d said to Angie – the hair stylist, “honey, the bigger the hair, the closer to God.” Now, embracing my naturally thick hair, I swear by that quote.

One tiny problem, this puff is high maintenance. It’s not just a matter of get-up-and-go when creating the bed-head style, especially when you’re working with a hair texture that is naturally dry and fragile.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve learned to manage my hair, ensuring that it maintains a super defined curl and healthy shine. Take a look at how you can do the same with these 7 tips below:

Research your hair type
Most people have more than one hair type. Let me know what your hair type is the comment section.
Most people have more than one hair type. Let me know what your hair type is the comment section.

The last thing I want to do is to reinforce more labels to your hair but It’s helpful to know what your natural hair type is so that you can find suitable products and hair care styles. According to the Andre Walker hair typing system, I have a mixture of type 3C and 4A hair. With this information, I can determine which parts of my hair need more product moisture, and which parts don’t. Find out what your hair type is, here:

Stop combing your hair

No joke. There’s no need for a comb unless you’re using a wide-tooth afro comb to create volume. I prefer to finger detangle my hair. This reduces breakage, frizz, and promotes curl definition.

Find out which products work for you

There is a coconut oil craze for all hair types right now but unfortunately, it doesn’t do much for my hair. However, extra virgin olive oil works wonders for me. There are also certain gels that are too harsh for my hair and cause breakage while other women swear by it. Test a range of products to see what works best for your own hair as your hair texture may not receive products in the same way as someone else.

In the past, I’d wasted so much money on curl creams and conditioners, and now have a cupboard full of half-used products.  When you’re trying a new product, wait at least a month to see results.

My go-to hair products are:
  • Lush American Cream Conditioner
  • Lush Curly Wurly Shampoo
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • Perfect Touch alcohol-free gel (Dischem Pharmacy)
Get a satin sleep cap

The Satin Sleep Cap (which you can find at selected Clicks stores) has been such a game-changer for me. I wear it to bed at night or even when I’m lounging around the house with my head rested. Cotton strips your hair and even your skin of moisture and can cause dehydration and breakage. If I really need to dry my hair, I will usually use an old t-shirt instead of a towel or dry my hair with a diffuser nozzle on medium to low heat.
Use sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner to wash your hair

Any products with sulphate components are harmful, even toothpaste – that’s why you’re not supposed to swallow the toothpaste. I prefer to co-wash my hair using my go-to conditioner rather than shampoo, and this really does clean my hair. People with normal to oily hair should not co-wash.

Protective style as much as possible

Thank the heavens for braids. When I’m having a busy month or travelling, I love having my hair braided or twisted into chunky Havana twist braids (also known as Marley braids). Chunky braids aren’t too tight or damaging to the hair. They don’t last as long as the three-strand braid or small strand braids but I personally prefer this style.

Trim your hair often

Pay special attention to the ends of your hair as this is your oldest hair. Once your ends begin to look dry and dull, it is better to consider having it trimmed to avoid higher split ends or worse, having your hair break off. I dread having my hair cut and I usually avoid having to trim for as long as possible but I get it done eventually.

Do you know of any other ways to retain moisture and shine in natural hair? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment in the comment section below or connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook 

Feature photo/ Donna- Lee Dekock



DIY hair gel that promotes moisture and shine

This do-it-yourself flaxseed hair gel is easy to make, easy to use, all natural, and really good for your hair.

Sound too good to be true? That’s exactly what I thought until I tried the recipe which I discovered on Youtube via Naptural 85. She’s my go-to Youtube personality when it comes to sourcing tips and tricks on how to maintain my thick, natural afro hair. Check out her channel, here.

I love my hair. This kind of statement doesn’t come easily from a woman with ‘kinky’ hair or hardly any woman in this day and age for that matter. The world is so conditioned on perceptions of what is deemed beautiful that we forget we are the world create those perceptions ourselves. You’re beautiful if you think you are. It’s as simple as that.

Back to the gel recipe – made with only two ingredients. The first is flaxseed or linseed as we call it in South Africa, and the second is water. You can add an optional third ingredient like an essential oil (I usually add 1 tbsp. of olive oil) but for first-time *DIYers, it’s not necessary.

What you will need:

  • 4 tbsp. Flaxseeds/ 3tbsp. flaxseed powder
  • 3 cups of cold water
  • Spoon for stirring
  • 1 small cooking pot
  • 1 sealable container
  • 1 stocking (that you’re not planning to reuse)
  • Scissors
  • A heat source (stove)
How using flaxseed gel will benefit your hair

I’ve been using flaxseed gel for months and personally prefer it because my hair has never had such a healthy shine in its natural state before. My hair texture is softer and doesn’t break off as easily as it used to. Previously, I used Revlon‘s alcohol-free gel to style my wash-and-go and stocked up since I would use two tubes of gel per month; now I swear by Flaxseed gel. If anyone wants to buy some Revlon gel from me, please feel free to email me. Even the alcohol-free gel was drying my hair.

Flaxseed offers quite a few health benefits and not surprisingly so since the 3 major components of this seed includes Omega-3 essential fatty acids, Lignans, and fiber.  There are also different ways to consume its nutrients; sometimes I will have flaxseed powder and yoghurt for breakfast as a cereal. Take a look at Tips for Flaxseed, here.

Hair gel

If sealed and refrigerated, the flaxseed gel lasts for up to three weeks. The only drawback of using this gel is that it goes off quickly since it’s a natural product. Other than that, it rarely flakes, it’s really cost-effective, and helps to give my curls optimal definition.

Would you like me to share more hair tips? Chat to me in the comment section below or email me directly to I’d love to hear from you.

Related: Excited to announce my collaboration with beauty bulletin


Excited to announce my collaboration with Beauty Bulletin

Here’s to all the women who’d admire another woman from across the room, wondering which hair products she uses, how she gets her skin looking so smooth, or how much time it took her to perfect that look…

I am happy to announce my collaboration with Beauty Bulletin, South Africa’s largest beauty community and review club. I’ve always had an interest in beauty culture, and given that I’d spent a couple of years working as a beauty consultant during varsity, I know a thing or two about the industry. Sharing reviews on products comes easily. It’s a great cue for conversation and exciting when you’re sharing useful information. I love Beauty Bulletin’s concept of creating a large community of real women who embrace that they’re all equally beautiful and distinctly different.

Is this you?

I walk into public bathrooms and often smile at the ladies beside me – who are touching-up mascara, re-applying gloss, neatening stray hairs, or other small things that we go to the bathroom for, other than to pee. If I discover something beautiful about another woman, even if I’m standing in a shopping aisle, I won’t hesitate to compliment her. I’ve learned some of the most helpful beauty and hair tips from other women in public bathrooms and shopping aisles, and in the comment sections of blog posts, not in magazines, and much less from TV. Real women who don’t have on-hand make-up teams and in-house hair stylists, taught me tips and tricks just because they’re also women, and like me, they felt compelled to share something that could be useful for interest’s sake and self-esteem.

Tell me if you agree

There’s a desperate need for women in South Africa to break away from warped ideas of what it means to be beautiful. The latest Dove Real Beauty Survey conducted for South African women in 2013, showed that 45% of women agreed that their greatest beauty pressures came from themselves. Do you do it too? A lot of the time, when I become overly conscious about something like my hair not being in place or my face looking shiny, everyone else hadn’t even noticed until I’d brought it up.

“But how does it look? Are you sure?” “Yes. You look amazing”. – *Friends

Beauty emanates from a woman who feels it. As long as you feel beautiful, you are. This was validated for me when Clarins USA recently featured an Instagram photo of me, taken by photographer, Tony Maake. It wasn’t anything extravagant. My make-up was quite basic and I’d let my fluffy hair out of its usual, tight bun. I felt a little apprehensive during the photo shoot because, well, I’m not a model and I didn’t rehearse any kind of pose. Days after the shoot, when I saw the photo, I thought, “God, that’s actually me. No front.” And I love it so much that I’d asked Beauty Bulletin to update my existing photo to the one below:

Related: The Truth About Going Natural

#fangram: @bewhole_ wears Clarins, makes us feel both jealousy and excitement… ❤️? #ShowUsYourClarins

A photo posted by CLARINS (@clarinsnews) on

Visit to read and/or view exciting beauty reviews by South African women. You may spot a familiar face 🙂

You may also want to read:

Have a question or a comment? Leave a reply in the comment section below. Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or email me directly to I’d love to hear from you. 

The Truth About Going Natural

If you thought that straightening treatments and perms are high maintenance, wait until you go natural. If you have 1A to 3C hair (you can check your own hair type, here), a natural hair transition may be a walk in the park for you, but women with 3B to 4C hair have their work cut out.

This has truly been one of the most difficult challenges that I’ve ever faced with my appearance. I’ve written about my natural hair complex, growing up with the perception that only straight hair can be beautiful (read about it here). But now that I’m finally comfortable stepping out with an afro, I’m more myself than ever. I feel as if there’s been so much unnecessary time and money wasted to present myself in a way that was not meant to be in the first place. I mean, I like the sleek haired look, but I love big hair even more now.

My transitioning hair – curly roots and straight ends.

It’s been over a year since my last Keratin straightening treatment; I last blow-dried my hair two months ago for a length check and I’ve been wearing Havana twist braids for about four weeks now. Once these braids come out, it’s back to the drawing board with managing my own hair. It’s been a very liberating process, which is what every other natural hair transitioning woman will tell you. I’m loving the growth process and finding comfort with the hair that I was born with. And I’m not even all natural yet – my ends are chemically treated, and I haven’t cut it away because I am attached to my length. Brazilian (Keratin) treatments gradually wash out, so I am hoping that I won’t have to chop much off and simply get regular trims.

I’ve researched other people’s natural hair journeys before embarking on my own. Most women talk about how liberating the process is but they rarely go into depth about how much hard work it can be. So I thought that I would shed some light on things you’d need to consider before going natural:

Are you doing it for the right reasons?
The natural hair journey is trending in the Western World, while most African women are still hiding behind weaves and braids. I say hiding, not because we’re ashamed of our hair, but because braids and weaves just seem like the neater, more presentable alternative. Afros are quite eye catching and it always seems as if the woman wearing one is trying make a statement, or that she is a bit of a diva. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had my hair straightened. I’d reached the point where I thought, “I already know what I look like with straight hair, why not see if my natural hair would suit me.” I’d revert to straightening my hair if I didn’t like the way it looks. Thus far, I’m not giving up on my hair texture, and neither are my friends and family. They’re all supportive.

Know your hair type
This is really important. Before going natural I didn’t know anything about hair types and co-washing, which is washing without shampoo. I assumed that my hair would turn out like one of the other girls’ in those YouTube videos but it isn’t. From what I can tell, I have type 4 hair. There are different ways to manage different hair types for instance, type 4 hair is the driest of all hair textures due to the coils being so tight. The moisture from your roots don’t gets to the ends fast enough to hydrate it, so it’s important to moisturise all the time, twice a day if need be. Women with 3A hair which looks like soft curls, may not need such intense moisture treatments.

Don’t become a product junkie
In the first two months of my hair transition, I bought different hair products at least once a week – anything that looked like it would be curl enhancing, sulphate free, hydrating and had a good holding duration. I’d spent so much money on products that I don’t think I’ll ever use again. There was one product called the Curl Enhancing Smoothie by Shea Moisture that I really liked, which I bought in the UK, and just my luck, it’s not readily available here in Cape Town. I’m looking into buying it online, otherwise I mostly inexpensive DIY products like Flaxseed gel, coconut oil treatments, and honey hydrating masks. They’re amazing! If you’d like me to share my DIY recipes, please leave a comment below.

The wash-and-go isn’t really wash-and-go
There are hundreds of YouTube tutorials on how to perfect a wash-and-go. And what all of them have in common is that it takes at least 20 minutes to an hour to get the right look. Natural hair must be washed, rinsed, detangled carefully, rinsed again, hydrated, styled with a gel, and then air-dried or blow-dried with a diffuser nozzle. One does not simply wet your hair and go. If you want to go natural because you love the wash-and-go look, know that it’s not going to take you five minutes if you do it properly.

Natural, Donna Lee De Kock and I (transitioning) at a birthday party.
Natural, Donna Lee De Kock and I at a birthday party.

Since I still have chemically treated ends, I use the Bantu Knot method to give me that wash-and-go look. I follow the same process that I mentioned above, and then simply separate my hair into small sections to form tiny knots. Once my hair is dry, I untie the knots, and carefully tease/pick at my roots. The Bantu knot method ensures that my straight ends look curly and that my hair looks like it’s one hair type. Watch this video by Alyssa Forever, on how to do Bantu knots, here. If you’d like me to post a step-by-step video tutorial of my own wash-and-go process, please feel free to post a comment in the space below.

Research protective styles
My go-to hairstyle is chunky Havana twist braids – in box shapes. Once you step into transitioning hair life, you’ll learn about easy style tips like Bantu knots, flat twists, wigs, braids and sleeping on silk pillows to protect your hair. I’m not really into wigs and I don’t sleep on a silk pillow but I take special care when washing and drying my hair. I don’t use a towel anymore – I use a cotton t-shirt that causes less friction and damage to my hair.

Chunky Havana twist braids. Photo/ Ashley Craig Brandt
Chunky Havana twist braids. Photo/ Ashley Craig Brandt

Do you have any questions or comments related to my natural hair journey? I’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment in the section below.

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5 ways to maintain twist braids.

If you’ve been looking for a manageable solution to avoid heat damage, Twist braids are one of your best options.

I’ve received lots of questions about how and where I get my twist braids done. They’re low maintenance, affordable, and requires NO HEAT. Can I get an amen? Here are five easy ways to maintain twist braids:

1. Dedicing on the size of your braids:
Size matters. They say, “the bigger the hair, the closer to God.”

But two things will determine the size of your twists:

A) How long you want to keep them, and
B) The length of your hair.

Be careful not to have your braids twisted too thick as large-sized twists tend to unravel faster. The shorter your hair is, the easier it will be for fibre to slip from your hair, so ensure that you have finer twists installed to compliment the length of your hair. A good way to determine how long you can extend your braids to, would be to measure the length of your own hair, and not to extend to further than double that length. Your stylist should be able to direct you to a suitable size of braid if you’re still not sure.

2. Where to get your braids done:
Depending on your desired length, braids can cost anywhere from R300 to R1500. And there are tons of specialised salons in the country. I usually go to a salon in Claremont that doesn’t exactly have interior design appeal, but the hair stylists are top-notch. If you’d like me to recommend a stylist, feel free to post your email address in the comment section below.

I love having my Havana twist braids done professionally but it’s pretty easy to do them yourself, once you get the hang of it. Watch DIY HAVANA TWISTS for Beginners (Step-by-Step) for a quick tutorial on how you can twist your own braids.

3. Washing and drying:
I swore that I would never be one of those women tapping at her braided head because it’s itching. And thankfully I’m not.
The itching sensation usually occurs when your braids have been twisted tightly or when your scalp is dry.
I use an affordable Dreadlock shampoo and conditioning spray from Clicks which leaves my braids feeling soft, clean, and smelling fresh. I shampoo once a week and condition as much as possible. It seems like a difficult task to be washing twist braids but it’s pretty simple once you know how. I wash them while I’m in the shower, using a parting method (of four), similar to the one you’ll find in this youtube video.

Try not to use a towel when drying your hair, to avoid frizz. Use a damp cotton T-shirt instead, or sun dry at best.

4. Sleeping with twist braids:
Wear a silk scarf to bed to avoid the unravelling of your twists during the night. Clicks conveniently also sells silk scarves and pillows, but you can also use the leg of an old pair of stockings aka a swirlkous.

5. Play with different hairstyles:
Twists are pretty on their own but they can become a bit boring to wear if you’re the kind who likes to switch up hairstyles. Google is your best friend at this point – there are so many Youtube tutorials on how to style every type of braids ever created. For starters, if you go to, you’ll find 50 Exquisite Box Braids Hairstyles To Do Yourself, among other cool hairstyling tips.

For more questions, tips, or suggestions on how to maintain twist braids, please leave a comment in space below, or email me directly by clicking on the contact tab.

Cover photo by Sive Nyanda for Jeo photography.

I went out with my natural hair and nothing happened

After mustering up the balls to step outside with my hair not blow-dried or flat-ironed, I thought that I was going to feel really ugly and uncomfortable, or worse, people were going to imply that my hair is ugly and make me feel uncomfortable.

This is a really big thing for me. I felt emotional when a friend told me that she loves my sun-dried hair because I never thought anyone would. I’d been having my hair straightened since my first memories and that’s no exaggeration. At school, if you had straight hair, you were absolutely beautiful, and that’s pretty much the consensus within my family as well.

So, I’ve decided that I want to do the ‘Big Chop’ as soon as spring arrives (September 2014). It may seem a bit radical to chop my hair off but I think that I need to be smacked with the realization that my beauty doesn’t lie in my hair. And this will also be a way for me to grow the hair that was given to me.
I’m interested to know your thoughts so feel free to post a comment of whether or not you’re in support of my big chop.

Last night, friends and I went to a restaurant. A tall buff-looking guy walks in to sit at the table behind us. Not too long after, a friend leans in to whisper that this guy had been staring at me for some time while waiting to be seated. I shrugged and gave a little sigh because to my mind, who would actually find me attractive with this big hair. Our meals arrive; more friends join; we have some wine; squeeze in dessert, and then leave for some living room dancing and sing-alongs. Later that night, before going to bed, I checked my phone and saw that the same guy, who was sitting at the table behind me, had managed to find my Instagram profile and liked several of my photos. Super creepy! l was stunned, to say the least. Here I am, in the dead of winter, sporting a natural hairdo (resembling a lion’s mane), and this guy thinks I’m hot. Never mind the great lengths he went to, to show it…

This is what I look like with sleek hair:







And this is me with natural Bantu knot hair:






Major difference right? I am so ready to let go of the straight-hair-is-beautiful hype. I mean, of course straight hair is beautiful but curly and wavy hair can be just as lovely. This is a way for me to accept myself as I am, and to become who I want to be. If I decide somewhere along the line, that sleek hair suits me better, I will probably revert. I just need to be sure that my image represents my brand – the person I aspire to be, and not a copy of what is socially acceptable around me.