How to Bantu-knot your hair

Bantu knots, also known as Zulu or Nubian knots, chiney bumps, pepper seeds, or hair nubbins, is a traditional African hairstyle, made by sectioning your hair into triangles, diamonds, or squares and coiling those sections into knots.

What you will need:

  • Sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner
  • 
Towel
  • Spray bottle
  • 
Wide-toothed comb/Detangling brush
  • 
Tail comb
  • Butterfly clips/Snag-free ponytail holders
  • Water-based moisturizer
  • Twisting gel/cream
  • Bobby pins (optional)

Steps:

  1. For best results, start with damp hair that has been recently shampooed and conditioned and towel-dried.
  2. Spritz hair with water using a spray bottle.
  3. Use your fingers or a tail comb to divide hair into about 6 to 9 sections, depending on the thickness of the hair.
  4. Separate the sections using butterfly clips or snag-free ponytail holders.
  5. Starting at the back of the head, loosen one section of hair (one on either edge of the nape is usually best).  If the section feels dry, spritz it with some water.
  6. Apply your favourite water-based moisturizer to the section, paying extra attention to the ends of the hair.
  7. Use your fingers/wide-toothed comb/detangling brush to detangle the section of hair.
  8. Apply your favourite twisting cream or gel to the section to the moisturized, detangled section.
  9. Separate with your fingers or part a piece of the section with your tail comb into your desired shape (starting from the edge of the nape makes it easier), keeping in mind that the bigger the piece the bigger the size of your Bantu knot, and clip the rest of the section to the side.
  10. Bend the strand close to its base and pinch the bump created between the thumb and pointer of your left hand, and use your right hand to wind the length of the strand around the bump at the base to form a coil.
  11. Keep winding the length of the strand around the coil with your right hand, gradually winding closer and closer to your head with each round, until all of the strand has been completely wound up, to form a Bantu knot.
  12. If your hair is curly, and your knot is coiled tightly enough, the ends will likely stay coiled under the knot; if your hair is looser, then you may need to use a bobby pin to hold the knot in place.
  13. Unclip the remainder of the section, and repeat Steps 9-12 until the section is completely knotted.
  14. Move on to the next section of hair, and repeat Steps 5-12 until all of the sections are knotted.

***You can also create Bantu knots from two-strand twists: once your two-strand twists are completed, follow steps 10-14 above.***

To keep your Bantu knots neat, wear a satin bonnet or tie your head with a satin/silk headscarf when you go to sleep.

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How to cornrow your hair

Cornrows or canerows (or track braids) is a traditional African braiding technique. Cornrows are made by braiding the hair onto the scalp’s surface, after parting the hair into a design.

  1. Part a section of the hair starting from the hairline to the nape, keeping in mind that the thicker the section the thicker your cornrow will be.

2. Clip the rest of the head of hair to the side or put it in a ponytail holder to keep it out of the way while you cornrow the parted section.

3.  Starting at the hairline, take a small piece of the parted section and split that piece into three equal strands.

TIP: Anchor the right strand of hair in-between the middle finger and ring finger of your right hand; and anchor the left strand of hair in-between the middle finger and ring finger of your left hand, and brace your hands against the head, leaving your thumbs and pointer fingers free to pull the outside strands under the middle strand as you braid.

Try to brace your pinky fingers against the head, and hold the strands as upright as possible, to help you get the right tension!

4.  Start braiding the strands like a regular plait using the underhand method (opposite of a French braid) for about two stitches/notches: using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your left hand to pull the right strand under the middle strand; using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your right hand to pull the left strand under the middle strand; the right strand under the middle strand, and the left strand under the middle strand.

5. Now you will start the cornrow.   As you make the motion of pulling the right strand under the middle strand using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your left hand, pick up extra hair from the right side of the parted section and pull it into the right strand. Pull the right strand with added hair under the middle strand.

6.  Then, do the same thing as you make the motion of pulling the left strand under the middle strand using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your right hand,  pick up extra hair from the left side of the parted section into the left strand.  Pull the left strand with added hair under the middle strand.

TIP: As you pull the right and left strands under the middle strand, run your fingers through to the ends to prevent the free ends from tangling.

TIP: As you cornrow, try to keep your hands at an angle of as close to 90 degrees as possible/upright against the head (as opposed to following the direction in which you are cornrowing). Holding your hands at close to 90 degrees/upright will help you get the right tension to keep the cornrow neat and tight (without yanking the hair).

7.  Continue to cornrow, by repeating Steps 5 and 6: picking up extra hair on each side as you pull the right strand under the middle strand, the left strand under the middle strand, the right strand…until there is no more hair to add from the parted section.

TIP: Try to pick up the same amount of hair on each side to make the stitches/notches of your cornrow neat and even.

8.  Once all of the hair in the parted section is cornrowed against the scalp, continue to braid the free ends like a regular plait using the underhand method.

Keeping the cornrow from unwinding:

9.  Once you get to the end of the plait, if the hair is very curly, the cornrow may hold itself together. If not, you can either spiral the ends around your finger, using a little twisting gel/cream, or you can secure the cornrow with a snag-free/covered elastic band, clip, or barrette.

Finishing the style

10. Unclip or loosen the unbraided hair and repeat Steps 1-9 until the entire head is cornrowed.

TIP: How you part the hair will determine the size and shape/design of your cornrows; so, to keep them even, in Step 1, part the new section the same size and in the same shape as the cornrow beside it.  

Also, keep in mind, if you are cornrowing straight back, as you part the hair, you will have to taper the section toward the nape—the hairline and the crown of the head covers more area than the nape, so if you don’t taper the sections, you will run out of hair to cornrow at the back of the head.

Finally, to keep your cornrows neat, wear a satin/silk scarf or headtie, or use a satin/silk pillowcase when you go to sleep. Depending on how curly your hair is, how small the cornrows are, and whether you tie your hair at nighttime, your cornrowed style could last for a few days or up to a week or so.

Happy cornrowing!

Available Now: What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair?

Everyone knows Zuri as “the girl with the puffy hair.” Her afro is big and fluffy, and not even gravity can keep it down. People often ask her, “What are you gonna do with that hair?” Zuri finds the answer in her cultural hair-itage and shows she can sculpt and shape her curls and coils into beautiful works of African art—braids, ‘locks, bantu knots—in other words, whatever she wants!

This illustrated non-fiction book encourages Black girls to celebrate the beauty and versatility of their natural hair and learn the rich history of natural hairstyles.

 

Get your copy today!

Available in Canada on Amazon.ca: Click here to purchase.

Also available in-store at Knowledge Bookstore: 177 Queen Street West, Brampton, Ontario L6Y 1M5.

Available in the United States on Amazon.com: Click here to purchase.

Every day is a good hair day!

 

What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair? Book Launch

book-launch-collage

Let’s celebrate Black History Month together at the book launch for “What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair?” at Knowledge Bookstore (117 Queen St W, Brampton, Ontario L6Y 1M3) on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at 2pm!

This is a FREE event! Please register on Eventbrite: zurisbeautifulhair.eventbrite.com

For more information, please visit www.knowledgebookstore.com or www.thenaturalhairadvocate.com

Follow us on:
Facebook: The Natural Hair Advocate
Twitter: @TheNHAdvocate
Instagram: @zurisbeautifulhair
#ZurisBeautifulHair

How to two-strand twist your hair

two-strand-twists-with-close-up-blog

Two-strand twists are one of the basic styling techniques for natural hair. They are similar to braids, only you intertwine use two strands of hair instead of three.

What you will need:

  • Sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner
  • 
Towel
  • Spray bottle
  • 
Wide-toothed comb/Detangling brush
  • 
Tail comb
  • Butterfly clips/Snag-free ponytail holders
  • Water-based moisturizer
  • Twisting gel/cream

Steps:

  1. For best results, start with damp hair that has been recently shampooed and conditioned and towel-dried.
  2. Spritz hair with water using a spray bottle.
  3. Use your fingers or a tail comb to divide hair into about 6 to 9 sections, depending on the thickness of the hair.
  4. Separate the sections using butterfly clips or snag-free ponytail holders.
  5. Starting at the back of the head, loosen one section of hair (one on either edge of the nape is usually best).  If the section feels dry, spritz it with some water.
  6. Apply your favourite water-based moisturizer to the section, paying extra attention to the ends of the hair.
  7. Use your fingers/wide-toothed comb/detangling brush to detangle the section of hair.
  8. Apply your favourite twisting cream or gel to the section to the moisturized, detangled section.
  9. Separate a piece of the section (starting from the edge of the nape makes it easier), keeping in mind that the bigger the piece the bigger the size of your twist, and clip the rest of the section to the side.
  10. Split the subsection into two equal strands, pinching one strand in your right hand and pinching the other strand in your left hand.
  11. Twist the two strands together, overlapping the left strand over the right strand, left strand over the right strand, and continue overlapping the left strand over the right strand, down to the end of the twist.
  12. Apply some twisting gel or cream to the ends to keep the twist in place.
  13. Unclip the remainder of the section, and repeat Steps 9-12 until the section is completely twisted.
  14. Move on to the next section of hair, and repeat Steps 5-12 until all of the sections are twisted.

To keep your two-strand twists neat, wear a satin bonnet or use a satin/silk pillowcase when you go to sleep.

 

Ode to the wide-toothed comb

the gate - Jamaica

The gate that sealed my fate…

When I was a little girl, I absolutely dreaded combing my hair, especially after having it washed. I have a distinct memory from my first trip to Jamaica when my Mom announced one day that she was going to wash my hair.  A high-speed chase ensued, as I took advantage of the fact that my Grandfather’s house- unlike our apartment in Toronto- had a back door which led around the house to the front courtyard, giving me a chance to make a break for it…Much to my dismay, however, the front gate was locked, which prevented me from running right off the property (to safety).

“Pleeeease just cut it off, pleeeeease, Mommy, cut it off,” I screamed, as my Mom, Dad, and company, chased me around and around the house, til they finally cornered me…and, alas, my fate was sealed…Sadly, my Mom did not cut my hair off that day- she proceeded to wash it- and let’s just say I ended up paying a pretty penny for making her have to exert extra energy to get the job done…

wash day smiles - Jamaica

Me, after the ordeal, with my signature post-wash chiney bumps (aka bantu knots)…my Uncle Geo (middle) and his friend somehow managed to make everything better

Needless to say, I hated washing my hair.  And washing my hair never went down without a fight, which also meant I’d have sudsy water running into my eyes and sometimes even into my nose, which only made the situation worse.

I hated washing my hair because I knew that after the washing and conditioning, came the detangling part, which meant having to endure my Arch-Enemy…the Comb.

fine-tooth comb

My Arch-Enemy for many years

Due to the spiral shape of Black hair, it is prone to getting tangled: the curls end up linking up with each other, forming knots and snarls, which can make combing difficult.  Back when I was a girl, the standard comb was not made with textured-haired girls in mind: the teeth were fine, and therefore couldn’t get past the tangles.  On top of that, in their efforts to “detangle” the hair quickly, our mothers and other caregivers would just yank the comb from the roots, which made for a less than pleasant experience, to say the least, filled with lots of screaming and tears.

So, when the wide-toothed comb finally came on to the scene (around the time when I was eight or nine years old), I counted it as a blessing from on high; and ever since then, my life has never been the same. My wide-toothed comb has changed my life so much that I wrote it a love poem:

 

Ode to the wide-toothed comb

O wide-toothed comb

When you came into my life,

you removed the pain and strife

of combing through my curls.

 

tail combO wide-toothed comb,

Once I was tender-headed, and

Doing my hair was dreaded

Since the tines were way too fine

 

 

O wide-toothed comb

Using you, I’ve not regretted

And forever I’m indebted

To your wonderful design

 

O wide-toothed comb

Now detangling I’ll survive

And my hair will grow and thrive

‘Cause you’re made for natural girls

~ Ndija Anderson-Yantha

wide tooth comb

 

Pretty corny, I admit, lol! But having suffered through my own terrible experiences with having my hair combed, I know that the detangling process can be one of the most frustrating parts of having natural hair.  However, I also want you to know that your child’s natural hair IS actually manageable- you just have to be armed with the right tools, products, and techniques.  And trust me, having the right type of comb or brush can make all the difference!

Here are some tips for detangling natural hair:

  • Separate the hair into 6-12 sections (depending on the thickness) using your fingers, and hold the sections with butterfly clips or ponytail holders
  • Take a section of hair, and use a spray bottle to spritz with water
  • Apply a water-based moisturizer to the section
  • Use your fingers to gently work through the ends
  • Use a wide-toothed comb or a detangling brush to work through the section, while gripping the section with your other hand to absorb the pull of the comb/brush through the hair
  • Comb through the ends first, and then work your way up to the roots

AVOID

  • Raking through natural hair with a fine-toothed comb- this will not only damage your daughter’s hair by ripping through the curls and causing breakage, but it can also make for a very traumatic experience, resulting in tears and creating negative feelings about her hair
  • Combing through natural hair when it’s completely dry, if at all possible- moist hair makes the detangling process easier, as it allows the comb to glide over the curls easier

Believe it or not, combing natural hair DOES NOT have to be a nightmarish process: with the help of a wide-toothed comb and/or a good detangling brush, combing and styling your daughter’s hair can instead become a time for growing closer, passing on traditions, and creating positive memories that will last a lifetime.

What types of tools and techniques do you use for detangling natural hair?

 

Coming soon…

Meet Zuri
Zuri loves her natural hair and all of the amazing things she can do with it!

Zuri -Coming Soon

Follow her throughout history and around the world as she learns about the beauty and versatility of natural hairstyles in What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair? 

Coming soon…

Parents, Support the PUFF!

AfroIn case you haven’t heard about it already, this week, a group of Black female students have been reprimanded for wearing their hair naturally, only this time in the Bahamas (sparking online outrage via the #supportthepuff or #isupportthepuff hashtags). Of course, this type of sanctioning is nothing new; there have been a number of other cases where natural-haired Black children have faced punishment at school for either wearing their hair out, in braids, or in locks. It seems like, for many, Black hair is not considered “school-appropriate” (or work-appropriate) unless it’s flat-ironed or permed, which I think is ridiculous.  But what I find most offensive about these incidents is that, in many cases, the disdain for natural hair is coming from fellow Black people! Alas, the oppressed have now become the oppressor!

So, why is this happening?  It is important to keep in mind that this notion of natural Black hair being “unruly”, “untidy” or “unkempt” by default is one that dates back to slavery, and has been ingrained in our psyche ever since. Negative rhetoric about African hair was used against slaves to rob them of their dignity and humanity, especially since hair design and care were integral cultural practices within African societies. Since slavery days, hair politics of this sort (in conjunction with colourism) have played an important role in constructing “otherness” as it pertains to Black people in society; and it has been perpetuated both within the Black community as well as through the media and social institutions.  This is why in 2016, girls are being threatened with suspension from school for wearing their natural hair, in spite of the Natural Hair Movement.  It is clear that Black hair is still considered an affront to mainstream culture.

Therefore, in a world that continues to make it hard for people of colour to feel comfortable in our own skin, I am urging parents and guardians of Black children to please

Support The PUFF:

Pride – We need to encourage our children to feel a sense of pride about their natural hair. After all, this is how their hair grows out of their heads. So why shouldn’t they be proud of it? Our hair texture and our hairstyles connect us to our rich African ancestry. Before slavery (and colonialism), African peoples took great pride in their hair. Back then, If you had a massive halo of Afro hair, it was a sign of good health and beauty! Moreover, African hairstyling was more than just hair maintenance: each hairstyle had significance and carried important messages about its wearer. Hairstyling was a revered occupation; and African hairstyles were (and still are) art.

Uniqueness – We should teach our children to celebrate the uniqueness of their natural hair. We all recognize that Black hair is different from everyone else’s, but that does’t mean that it’s deficient. Our hair can do things that other types of hair cannot: when it’s styled, it keeps its form and it can be sculpted into various shapes and designs. Not to mention the phenomenon of shrinkage—imagine, you can have long hair and short hair at the same time! It’s time for us to celebrate the unique properties of our hair, and to teach the next generation to do the same.

Freedom – We need to help our children embrace the freedom that comes from not feeling the need to conform to a straight- or long-haired aesthetic. Part of the reason why we often experience so much frustration with our hair is because we try to make it do things that it’s not supposed to do! [For more on this topic, check out Tress Stress – Pt. I: Have you ever tried to straighten a slinky?] When our hair is straightened, we try to avoid water like the plague—whether from sweating, showering, or the rain! And then when we decide to go natural, we try to get our hair to look like someone else’s—whether it’s trying to attain their definition, length, or curl pattern! If we would just accept our hair the way it is, and play to its strengths, we would be free to just be!

Fellowship – We should engage in the fellowship of the ever-growing community of naturalistas and natural hair lovers and allies. Thanks to the internet and social media, there is now a wealth of information, advice, and support to help our children wear their hair natural with ease—all available at our fingertips. There is no longer a need a to feel frustrated or overwhelmed by our hair care woes. We can find strength in each other!

So, together, let’s support the pride, uniqueness, freedom and fellowship that can come from wearing our hair naturally! Our children need to grow up knowing that they are beautifulexactly the way they are! And if we don’t tell them, nobody else will.

 

Sources:

Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana D. Byrd & Lori L. Tharps.

What will you do to #supportthepuff?