Tips & Tricks: Number Eight
You know the rest. Okay, let’s start from the beginning. One February, about a year and a half ago, I visited CurlyNikki.com for the first time and I vividly remember seeing the picture above and my jaw dropping on the ground. It was love at first sight. I’m not kidding you. This was the hair that started it all and I wanted … no NEEDED … to know how to achieve it. I probably spent eight hours straight on the site that day reading E-VER-EE-THING about Nikki’s regimen and her technique for the renowned TnC. The TnC that I dubbed “The Curly Nikki” and saved on my phone to ogle and show to friends as my “dream hair.”
But, this is the thing, there is no formula for styling natural hair, no one size fits all product or technique. Styling can be challenging when one has only dealt with straight hair or has relied on the ease of a WnG, which usually involves a lot more than just … well … washing and going. And for those stalwart enough to experiment with styles inspired by blogs and YouTube, it can be frustrating when the results achieved are not as expected. It becomes even more so when so much effort is put into a style (i.e. washing, detangling, conditioning, detangling again, deep conditioning, detangling … you get the picture) for it to #FAIL.
However, I think this is part of the process of learning to understand one’s hair. We didn’t learn how to walk, talk or even use the potty on our own overnight, so why should “perfecting” our hair be any different? See, I fell in love with “The Curly Nikki” last year and I tried it for the first time last Spring, after my second henna. These were my results.
Hmmm … not so Curly Nikki, right? It was okay, but … ummm … no. I didn’t give up though! Over the course of 2010, I tried more TnCs than I can count. And I bought more rollers than I know what to do with now!!
And I tried them alllll. I also tried more products in that one year than I probably had in my prior ten years of being natural (please don’t take this as a commercial for PJism, it’s a serious condition requiring treatment and rehab!). I tried different twist placements and different rolling techniques and different drying methods.
Then, in January 2011, I got close … so close that I could taste it!
You see, my hair isn’t as curly as Nikki’s anymore and my nape is almost straight. But, I finally almost achieved the shape and volume that I was seeking. The problem was, this was freshly released hair on day one and my hair already looked frizzy with the nape hair still hanging longer than the rest. By the end of that humid day, the curls had fallen and the definition was all but nonexistent. But, I realized that I’d finally gotten the twist placement and rolling method to where they needed to be for me. Now it was a matter of the products and the dampness of the set.
So, I tried adding a gel for hold and I got even closer …
Then, on a fateful day in February 2011, almost one year after discovering “The Curly Nikki,” I set my hair using a modified Kimmaytube leave-in (JBCO instead of regular castor oil) and Wonder Curl Butter Than Love. And, I made eight twists instead of Nikki’s ten. And I spiral rolled my wet twists all the way to the roots on pink flexis, instead of the ends of damp ones on small blue flexis like Nikki.
And I achieved my Curly Nikki. And it was good.
Then, I did it again!
I have mastered my TnC ever since. That’s not to say that every one turns out exactly the same … just that I’m happy with them now. But, it took work and experimentation and patience and time to get there. So, all this to suggest a couple of things. First, try not to get too discouraged when you try that style that you loved for the first time and it doesn’t work out perfectly. Don’t even give up when you try it a second, third or fourth time and it’s still not what you expected. Secondly, that being said, don’t keep trying to do it the same way. What’s that saying? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” So, mix it up. Try different products, different tools, different techniques, modify the style to work for your length or your texture or your density (Nikki’s wet bunning technique and sock buns did nothing for me. But a banana clip became my boo for a big, massive bun!). Ultimately, maybe that style just doesn’t work for you. But, you’ll never know if you don’t try.