Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tips for Coloring Your Own Natural Hair

Dark and Lovely colors available at

I’ve been coloring my own natural hair since I first did the big chop over 10 years ago. One day when I went to my stylist to she asked me, “Who did your color?” I proudly said, “I did it myself!” You can do it too with the right techniques. Below I’ll share my tips for achieving successful hair coloring.

Tip 1: Find the right color
Choose a color that will look pretty with your skin tone. Hair that is dark colored won’t dye well. So, if you are dying your hair from virgin, dark brown or black hair, you’ll want to select the lightest shade within the color range to want. So, if you want a red, pick the lightest, most vibrant red–same for blonde or brown. (and don’t chicken out and be too conservative with your color choice…!!)

Tip 2: Find the right product
I’ve found the most success with Dark and Lovely and Creme of Nature brands. I suppose any well-know brand for black hair will do. One, thing I noticed last time I colored my hair is that the longer my hair gets, the more product I needed. I started running out of hair color toward the end of the process. I managed to make it stretch, but I don’t want to go through that again. I may buy two boxes next time.

Tip 3: Protect your scalp
Base your scalp and ears with hair grease (yes I said hair grease…) or petroleum jelly. You can skip this step, but if you have been scratching or have a sensitive scalp this will really help. Remember, this is still a chemical process and you do run the risk of chemical burns and irritation just like with a relaxer. Since you are an amateur at this, basing also ensures you don’t dye your ears or neck red.  So, make sure you get as close to the root as possible without dying your scalp.

Tip 4: Follow the instructions (with slight adjustments for kinky hair)
Apply evenly through the hair. Do the strand test. Part into eights sections instead of the recommended four sections. Use a small-tooth comb to spread the dye evenly throughout the hair. Work fast, but make sure each section is fully saturated with coloring. I like to comb and crunch. What I mean is that I squeeze the hair in my hands to make sure each section is fully saturated with the dye. This is very important with kinky hair because its so thick that your color treatment may come out uneven. (The crunching method is also good for coloring locs which I did years ago when I had them).  Also, to ensure you don’t run out of dye to fast, squirt a little color on each section. Comb and crunch through that section and then start on the next section until your entire head is covered. Then repeat the the process with the remaining dye in the bottle until all the dye is gone. Keep combing and crunching until the entire process time is up. (Yes, your arms will get a nice workout.)

Tip 5: A note about processing time
I always leave the dye on a few extra minutes than the recommended time. (Again, this is a chemical process so use judgement.) Watch the hair as the dye begins to take effect. You should notice a change in color though it may not be dramatic the first time around.  Wash out the color in the appropriate time. I generally don’t leave the dye on my hair past thirty minutes. Basing my scalp allows me to leave the dye on a little longer. Don’t sacrifice your hair for color. You’ll notice the results better when the hair is dry.

Don’t get discouraged with virgin. dark hair. Wait about 4-6 weeks and try again if the color is not as light as you would like.

What are your experiences with or questions about hair coloring?

Is hair typing a waste of time?

 Hair typing can be a confusing, complicated and controversial topic. In my research on this I found that many women are frustrated with not being able to figure out what their hair type is. Leaving many asking the question: How do I know my hair type and will knowing mine help me mange my hair better? See the article on The Two Main Hair Typing Systems Defined Part 1: Andre Walker and Part 2: LOIS for definitions.

 Let’s begin by answering the first question. There are basically two main types of hair typing systems, the Andre Walker System and the LOIS System. There are other systems that claim to be better but they are really just modified versions and/or combinations of the main two. Realistically, all I need to know, is my hair wavy, curly or coily?
The problem with any hairtyping system is that most women have more that one hair texture in their head. I would consider my hair 4b (which is said to be the most fragile type of hair) with a small patch of 4a in the back. Finding the right products and styles for your hair becomes difficult when you have different textures going on. And speaking of product, no matter what type of product you use, you can’t turn a coil into a curl without manipulating it with some sort of curl defining technique. Period. And even still, that might not even last as long as you would like.
Another problem with classifying the hair from 1 (being the most manageable) to 4 (being the least manageable) is the separation of “good” hair and “bad” hair. It seems that type 4’s are trying to be type 3’s and type 3’s are trying to be 1’s and 2’s. Instead, we should just learn what our natural curl or coil pattern is and work with that.
Should we be discouraged by this reality? No, just have fun with your hair trying different things. The general rule of thumb is to really get to know YOUR  hair and style for the dominating texture while making adjustments for the different textures. It’s nothing to feel overwhelmed with and certainly don’t let anyone put a label on you that your hair is the “worst” type.

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The Two Main Hair Typing Systems Defined (Part 2: LOIS)

Here is the second part of the Two Main Hair Typing Systems. Click here to see part one featuring the Andre Walker Hair Typing System. Also check out, “Is hair typing a waste of time?” This for your education. I found this article to be very helpful. However, I had to read it a few times to really understand it.

The LOIS Hair Typing System (Source)
Before you begin, please keep in mind that a healthy, undamaged, virgin hair strand, meaning one that is not processed, relaxed or colored, is needed.

Examine Your Hair Strand  Select a single strand of the most common type of hair on your head. Aim for the most common texture on your head if you have different hair textures. The hair should be freshly washed without products applied to it and rinsed in cold water. Or, gently rinse a single hair with a little dish detergent and rinse in cold water. Allow the hair to dry on a bit of paper towel so that you can look at the pattern without touching it.

Find Your Pattern The bends, kinks and coils of your hair will resemble one of more of the letters L, O, I or S.

L – If the hair has all bends, right angles and folds with little to no curve then you are daughter L.

O – If the strand is rolled up into the shape of one or several zeros like a spiral, then you are daughter O.

I – If the hair lies mostly flat with no distinctive curve or bend you are daughter I.

S – If the strand looks like a wavy line with hills and valleys then you are daughter S.

You may have a combination of the L,O,I,S letters, possibly with one dominant. If you cannot see one letter over the others, then combine the letters. Example: LO or IL or OS.

Find Your Strand Size A strand of frayed thread is about the thickness of a medium sized strand of human hair. If your strand is larger than this, then your hair is thick. If your strand is smaller than this, hair is thin, or fine.

Find Your Texture Shine is a sharp reflection of light while Sheen is a dull reflection of light.

Thready – Hair as a low sheen, with high shine if the hair is held taut (as in a braid), with low frizz. Wets easily but water dries out quickly.

Wiry – Hair has a sparkly sheen, with low shine and low frizz. Water beads up or bounces off the hair strands. Hair never seems to get fully wet.

Cottony – Hair has a low sheen, a high shine if the hair is held taut and has high frizz. Absorbs water quickly but does not get thoroughly wet very fast.

Spongy – Hair has a high sheen with low shine with a compacted looking frizz. Absorbs water before it gets thoroughly wet.

Silky – Hair has low sheen, a very high shine, with a lot or low frizz. Easily wets in water.

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The Two Main Hair Typing Systems Defined (Part 1: Andre Walker)

Here is info on the two main types of hair typing systems. You can use these two systems combined to give you an idea of what type of hair you have . Please bare in mind that no one fits perfectly into one type or the other. This is just a guide. Also check out my article, “Is hair typing a waste of time?”

The Andre Walker System (Source)
Andre Walker, a stylist and author of Andre Talks Hair, has created a classification system that many people have adopted to describe their own hair type. Andre’s classification system ranks from 1-4 and is described further below.

Type 4
According to Andre Walker, if your hair falls into the Type 4 category, then it is kinky, or very tightly curled. Generally, Type 4 hair is very wiry, very tightly coiled and very fragile. Similar to Type 3 hair, Type 4 hair appears to be coarse, but it is actually quite fine, with lots and lots of these strands densely packed together. Type 4 hair that is healthy won’t shine, but it will have sheen. It will be soft to the touch and will pass the strand test with ease. It will feel silkier than it will look shiny. 

Type 4 hairs looks tough and durable, but looks can be deceiving. If you have Type 4 hair, you already know that it is the most fragile hair around. There are two subtypes of Type 4 hair: Type 4A, tightly coiled hair that, when stretched, has an S pattern, much like curly hair; and Type 4B, which has a Z pattern, less of a defined curl pattern (instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter Z). Type 4A tends to have more moisture than Type 4B, which will have a wiry texture
Type 3
When this type of hair is wet, it appears to be pretty straight. As it dries, the hair goes back to its curly state. When curly hair is wet it usually straightens out. As it dries, it absorbs the water and contracts to its curliest state. Humidity tends to make this type of curly hair even curlier, or even frizzier. Type 3 hair has a lot of body and is easily styled in its natural state, or it can be easily straightened with a blow-dryer into a smoother style. Healthy Type 3 hair is shiny, with soft, smooth curls and strong elasticity. The curls are well-defined and springy.
Andre defines two subtypes of curly hair. First, there is type 3A hair which is very loosely curled and usually very shiny with big curls. The shorter the hair is, the straighter it gets. The longer the hair is the more defined the curl. Then, there is type 3B hair which has a medium amount of curl to tight corkscrews. It’s not unusual to see a mixture of these types existing on the same head. Curly hair usually consists of a combination of textures, with the crown being the curliest part. Lastly there is a type 3C, is hair type that is not in Andre Walker’s book, but many people suggest that it should be. This type of hair can be described as tight curls in corkscrews. The curls can be either kinky, or very tightly curled, with lots and lots of strands densely packed together.
Type 2
A relatively unusual type, wavy hair tends to be coarse, with a definite S pattern to it. There are three Type 2 subtypes: A- Fine /thin, B -medium-textured, and C – thick and coarse. Type 2A is very easy to handle, blowing out into a straighter style or taking on curlier looks with relative ease. Types 2B and 2C are a little more resistant to styling and have a tendency to frizz.
Type 1
Type 1 is straight hair.
See The Two Main Hair Typing Systems Defined (Part 2: LOIS)