It can be really tough to find a natural hair stylist. Depending on where you live, there simply aren't enough professionals who understand natural hair to go around. On top of that, getting your hair done by an expert can be hella pricey and time-consuming. If you're thinking of taking matters into your own hands, here are some pointers:
1. THE STYLE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR PARTS - It might be time for you to purchase a rat-tail comb if you don't have one already. They make it so much easier to create straight lines and precise sections, which will help your final look seem more polished and professional. You can definitely still part your hair using your hands or a pick instead, but you may not get the same results.
2. KNOW HOW MUCH HAIR YOU NEED - This goes hand-in-hand with the quality of your parting. If you use too much extension hair for each section, you'll put too much strain on your follicles, which could cause hair loss. On the other hand, using too little extension hair can make it tricky to make your natural hair blend in.
3. THERE'S ALWAYS AN ALTERNATIVE - When I first started, I tried to mimic everything I'd seen my hairstylists do, from fluffing out and sectioning strands of extension hair to applying oil on my scalp as I went along. All these tricks proved invaluable for the most part, but YouTube quickly showed me that there are several different approaches and none is necessarily right or wrong. This was welcome news, as I was growing increasingly frustrated with one method of starting a braid that seemed physically impossible for me to achieve. The technique I eventually settled on was far simpler and more intuitive than the first, yet garnered the same results.
4. DETANGLED AND MOISTURIZED HAIR BEHAVES BEST - I'm not a newb. The day before commencing this entire endeavour, I luxuriated in a hot oil treatment, cleansed thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner, t-shirt dried, detangled, and spritzed with a mix of aloe vera juice and oils. In other words, my hair was in prime condition to be styled... but this wasn't enough! As I broke each section into smaller and smaller sections, it became clear that more detangling and moisturizing needed to be done. A good chunk of my first braids were a hot mess. Giant puffs of hair poked out every which way as if the style was pushing six weeks. Unfortunately it wasn't until I reached my ears that I remembered the sight of my beloved hairstylist in Edmonton, Loius, running a fine-toothed comb over each tiny section of hair before wrapping the synthetic hair around it. Before that she would moisturize my hair with some sort of oil, which I now realize is what kept my ends from popping out like a ghost in the night.
5. TIME IS MONEY - The last thing I learned is that the longer you spend doing your hair, the more it would've made more sense to just have it professionally styled. I spent a few hours over the span of three days installing my braids, and admittedly they look terrible. If you're trying to save money by doing your own hair and you haven't got much experience, trust me, you might be better off paying someone who knows how to glam you up.
That's not to say there's no value in learning to do it yourself. While your results may not be ideal in the short run, knowing how to do simple styles like twists, cornrows, and Bantu knots can be a lifesaver once you get the hang of it. As for me, I don't mind walking around for the next couple of weeks with this semi-disaster on my head because A) my hair actually is being protected, and B) I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish. Even though it feels like I spent a decade on it, I'm already looking forward to my next attempt so I can apply everything I learned.
Have you ever tried putting in your own extensions? Tell us how it went in a comment below!