For many 80s-born black or mixed race women like me, chemically straightening your natural Afro hair with a relaxer was the done thing.
And it’s no wonder we wanted to iron out our heritage with the natural look always dismissed as “unmanageable”.
Then, 15 years ago, I dumped the relaxer. Now more women are doing the same – the hashtag #teamnatural has more than five million posts on Instagram and celebs such as Jamelia and Rochelle Humes are role models.
Styling options are endless, like the braids and locs below.
Lynda blogs at maneofyourown.com and has a YouTube channel.
Listen to her podcast at itunes .
How to create Alicia Keys pink box braids
1) Pick three shades of synthetic hair.
I used a candyfloss pink for the front and top, a darker pink for the middle and a grey for underneath.
2) Deal with one small section at a time. I tend to work around the circumference of my head so if I don’t finish it, I can easily tie it up and hide the hair I haven’t braided. The process can take 5-10 hours.
3) Use a comb to create your partings and add some hair grease or oil to each section of hair, root to tip, as you go along.
4) Take a pinch of synthetic hair, depending on how thick you want the braids.
5) Pull the ends of the synthetic hair to taper them for a natural look. Place the synthetic hair over the top of the piece of your own, holding your hair in one hand with two strands of extension in the other.
6) Loop a piece of synthetic hair under your natural hair so it’s now on the outside. Then take the outer piece of synthetic hair and loop it under the other strand of synthetic hair. Your natural hair should still be on the outside.
7) Continue this process of taking the outer piece of hair and looping it under the middle piece to form a braid. It helps to stop at intervals and push the synthetic hair up the braid to stop it slipping down.
8) Continue this process until your head is completely braided. Finish by dipping your braids in a bowl of boiling water for a few seconds. This will seal them, but be careful not to burn yourself. Have a towel ready.
9) For the Alicia Keys bun, braid all your small braids into one big braid then loop that around itself into a bun. Tuck the end under to secure.
Follow this link for a video tutorial.
How to create goddess faux locs
1) Create thin, shoulder-length box braids using synthetic hair. This hair will be hidden so it doesn’t matter how neat your braids are or what colour – but, ideally, use a colour close to the colour you’d like your locs to be.
2) Leave about 1.5cm of the synthetic hair loose at the end.
3) For your goddess locs to look realistic, you’ll need human wavy hair for the next step. The length depends on how long you want the finished look.
Take a small piece of human hair and make one end long and one end short. Braid this on to the end of your synthetic braid. Hold it tight so it doesn’t slip out. By adding human hair at the end like this, you’ll save money but still get the authentic look.
4) Don’t plait all the way to the end.
You need to leave the human hair loose after you’ve plaited for a few inches.
5) Next take a piece of Marley hair.
Marley hair tends to come in sections anyway to make it easier. This is coarse in texture and we use it to cover the braid and mimic a dreadlock.
6) Make one end short and one end long and wrap the long piece around the root of your braid and the short piece. Hold it tight and keep wrapping until you’ve wrapped it past the point where the human hair starts and there is no more braid left. You should be left with a loose human hair end.
7) You now need to go in reverse and start wrapping the remaining Marley hair back up the loc, stopping when you have enough hair left to create a knot.
8) Separate the remaining Marley hair and tie it in a knot to secure. Knot it again back on itself.
9) To finish, wrap any remaining Marley hair back up the loc until you can’t wrap any more. Give the whole loc a rub between the palms of your hands to finish and completely seal.
To watch a video of how to perfect the technique visit.