Hair

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Hair

pthalo
This is a thread where we can talk about our hair and the things we're doing to it.

First up is cornrows. I want cornrows in my hair, and I want to do it myself, and I doubt there's anyone in my city who knows how or who i could pay to do it and if I'm wrong about that I still think it would be expensive. I've seen on youtube that it's possible to do it to yourself, though the women on youtube doing their hair have more talent and endurance than I do, not to mention practice.

Anyway, my problem is that I get two rows done and then my elbows start aching and my fingers start hurting and my arms get really, really tired. And by the time my elbows and fingers have recovered and are no longer tired, and I might add a few more rows in, I've slept on the hair style several times and it's all gone fuzzy anyway.

But I've found a solution, kinda. I did my hair up in dutch braids (which are the same as corn rows except they're a lot bigger -- half my head in one, half in the other). Then today I took out one of them, brushed it, divided it in half, and did two cornrows, leaving the other side alone. Tomorrow, I'll do the other side. The day after that I'll probably take apart one of the ones on the left side, whichever is fuzziest, and split that into two smaller ones.

Eventually, hopefully, they'll get small enough that they can go a week or two before getting fuzzy. Also hopefully, if I just get into the habit of doing two braids I'll get up the endurance to someday do three or four. And then one day I'll be able to do my whole head.
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Re: Hair

AnaMardoll
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That's awesome! I want corn rows myself... with beads in... but I've no idea how to do it and I would definitely muck it up. I'm impressed that you can do some yourself -- I always assumed it was one of those things were you had to have extra hands involved!
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Re: Hair

pthalo
Another way to practice which lets you have a nice looking style when you don't have the endurance for more than a few braids is to do a headband style. You can do this if you have no bangs or if your bangs are long enough.

Part your hair ear to ear, like a headband, with just a small bit of hair, maybe an inch wide to start with. Put the rest back in a ponytail to keep it out of your way. Starting at one ear, section into three, then to get it started do a couple passes of a normal reverse braid, that is, instead of "outside goes into the middle", take the middle strand and move it over the left and it becomes the new left. Then take the new middle and move it over the right and it becomes the new right. If you need to, spend a while just practicing braiding like that.

But back to the cornrow. This is going to be a headband, so the "top" of the braid is by your one ear, and for a while "down" is the top of your head, then once you get there, down will be your other ear. Start the corn row with the normal stitches of reverse braid, then when you go to pull the center hair to the outside, grab a little bit of hair with it. Grab a little hair into the middle each time before crossing over the outside strand, and continue braiding "down" to the top of your head and around to your other ear. When you run out of hair to add into it, continue with the normal reverse braid until you run out of hair or get tired of it and tie it off with a hair tie.

If your hands aren't tired yet, part another bit of hair and do another cornrow. I like to alternate direction so if I started the first with my left ear, I'll start the second with my right ear. When you get bored/tired, you can stop and leave the rest of your hair down and it looks fine. Somewhat easier is parting it in the center (or however you normally part it), then sectioning out a front section of hair on the left, and another on the right, and then braiding down towards your ears from the part on both sides. Do one on the left and then one on the right to keep the parts even on both sides.

If you want them going back, though, you have less options. You can section out the tiny bit of hair that's going to go over your left ear and then down and braid that, and then section out the next tiny bit of hair, and then the next, but by the time you get a few in you'll probably be fairly tired, and there's no hair styles for that which don't look like "oh hey i totally got distracted in the middle of fixing my hair here." Which is why I'm trying to just go big.

It's not hard once you get the hang of it -- it does take a little to get used to the rhythm of it, but you just try to keep your hands as close to your scalp as possible. You don't want it too tight -- if it hurts, you need to braid a little looser. Braiding too tightly can lead to hair loss. If it doesn't hurt, you'll be fine. It's a good protective style -- you can leave it in for a while and it won't get tangled and matted from everyday wear and tear. The hard part for me is that my hands and elbows cramp up. But I'm hoping that with practice i'll build up strength.

Youtube searches like "how to cornrow your own hair" helped me a lot. :)
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Re: Hair

pthalo
This post was updated on .
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Re: Hair

pthalo
This post was updated on .
Broke apart the big one (on the right) today into two smaller ones. There are two on the left as well, one you can see in this picture (it's the messy one that's been slept in) and one you can't. I'll probably take apart the top left one tomorrow and break it into two smaller ones. When I get to the point that doing two braids doesn't hurt my hands, I'll start breaking them into threes, and then after that I'll pick two braids to redo a day. Though once they get small enough I'll keep them at the size I want.

The ones on the top of my head are definitely the hardest. But if I sit on a chair in front of the mirror, put my feet up against the wall, rest my elbows on my knees, put my hands on top of my head as if i were braiding someone else's hair, and don't look in the mirror, it works. (If I do look in the mirror, i get confused about right and left. if i don't do it in front of a mirror, i miss hairs.)
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Re: Hair

AnaMardoll
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Oooooh, pretty! May I ask, how long is your hair when not braided? Mine's only shoulder-length at the moment, so it's fairly tricky to braid. :)
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Re: Hair

pthalo
Just hit shoulder length recently. about an inch past now. Also the bottom third of my head (draw a straight line from ear to ear parallel with the floor on the back of my head) is shaved -- though it's grown out and is a couple inches long. Need to shave it again. I have so much hair (it's ridiculously thick) that I still have more hair than a normal person this way, and shaving the bottom half makes it less heavy.

Cornrows need hair that's about 5 inches long (root to tip) at least, especially if your hair is finer. If your hair is coarser, you can do it with shorter hair. If your hair is long enough to take a tiny section (as thin as you can manage to braid) and do a normal braid (if you do this to your whole head, it's called box braids, particularly if you part it into little squares instead of just grabbing a bit of hair here and there), then it's long enough for corn rows of that size.

My braid looks longer than you'd expect for shoulder length because it starts at the very top of my head and follows my head down to my shoulders, instead of starting at my neck and ending an inch or two later :)

If your hair is curly -- and I think I saw you mention that somewhere, it's probably longer than shoulder length when stretched out -- unless you meant "shoulder length when dripping wet and stretched out", of course. But even if that's the case, your hair is long enough for cornrows.


Ideally, I'd have about 3 times as many cornrows on my head as I do right now. The cornrows I've done are much thicker and have more hair in them than you'd expect -- this is why there's so much hair falling out of them as well -- my hair's not quite long enough for "only four braids". If I were braiding smaller, the hair would stay in, and would stay looking nice for longer than a day. As they get smaller they'll last a week or two (with my hair type) before starting to look mussy. :)
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Re: Hair

Bell
In reply to this post by pthalo
Hair! I can talk about hair. I think I have quite a lot of it, especially for a nineteen-year-old presenting as male. Long and straight, though it tends to curl up around the end. Most of it is down in the small of my back, though the parts that used to be my fringe/bangs are still around neck-length, just long enough to tie back, though they tend to come loose with too much movement. I almost always leave it in a ponytail, for simplicity's sake, although lately I've been wondering if I want to do something more interesting with it. I'm not especially happy with how it ends up looking in the front. I've no idea what I would do, though - I'm kind of attached to it being long (if anything, I'd like to let it go longer) and I really don't know where to look for ideas.

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Re: Hair

pthalo
Well, I'm a lesbian, so I can't speak for straight women, but I think braids look nice on guys. If you're not cis, though, and passing is important to you, you'll probably want to avoid many braided styles (cornrows are unisex, but french braids and braided pigtails and the like are read as female). If it's scraggly at the ends, and that bothers you, you might try trimming it a smidge -- you don't have to trim very much and it's easy to get it straight.

What you do is you brush it until all the snaggles are out. Then take a scrunchy (or a pony tail holder, but a scrunchy is better), put your hair in a loose ponytail at the nape of your neck. Don't put it on too tightly, you want it fairly loose. Get it as close to the center as you can. Look straight ahead or even slightly up if you want it straight -- if you want a V then look down a bit. Look down a lot for a more pronounced V.) Now pull the scrunchy down towards the ends of your hair, trying to keep it in the center. Don't pull it all the way off, just down a fair way. Now carefully bring the hair in front where you can see what you're doing (try not change the pony tail at this point. Now that you can see what you're doing, cut the end of your hair off, as much as you want cut (better to take too little off and do it again to take more off than to take too much off in one go). Remove the pony tail and brush it again. Look at it in a mirror and verify that it's even. :)

More detailed instructions, with pictures and advice on how to do different cuts


As for my own hair... made it to five braids and then didn't do anything to it today. It's been at least a week since I washed it and it's not the tiniest bit oily, which is nice. Usually after a week it's starting to look a bit dirty, but it still looks clean. I think i'm getting a sore throat, though, and i'm generally miserable, so that's why i didn't do anything.
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Re: Hair

Bell
Thanks for the advice! I'm not especially invested in masculinity - it's kind of a matter of convenience, than what I actually want - and attracting people isn't really a concern. It's just about looking for things that I think might suit me, honestly. I haven't thought much about braids, before, but I'll certainly give them a try. Plenty of hair to use, after all, and now I come to think of it, I do remember seeing some examples I rather liked. I'll experiment a little, see what works. And I'll definitely be trying out some of those self-trimming techniques. I never get it cut as often as I should, it always feels like such a hassle going to a hairdresser when it's barely a matter of minutes to just trim the ends, but if I can get used to doing it myself, it'd probably do wonders for my ends.

How are you feeling, anyway? Did that sore throat develop into anything?
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Re: Hair

pthalo
I've found youtube videos to be really useful. There are tons of teenage girls who are more than happy to post videos of themselves where they explain how to put on eyeshadow or how they do up their hair or whatever. I wish we had youtube back when I was in high school, I would've been a lot more fashionable. Another group that tends to post howto videos is mothers. They will make a video showing how they do up their child's hair, from the basics of "how to do a simple, three strand braid" to much more complicated stuff. So whatever your skill level, I can highly recommend youtube. :)

If you haven't braided hair before, I'd recommend starting with a three strand braided ponytail (pigtails are easier because you aren't doing anything in the back of your head, but most adults don't wear pigtails). Another place to start is with a rope braid which looks harder but is even easier. You put your hair up in a high-ish ponytail with a hair tie, divide into three strands, then twist the right most one to the right and bring it over to the left. Then you twist the right most one (which was in the middle at the beginning), twist it to the right, and bring it over to the left). And you keep going in that fashion until you run out of hair, at which point you tie it off with another hair tie. Easy to do and looks nice. So, if the hair starts out in three sections: ABC, you twist C to the right and move it to the left of A: CAB. Then you do the same to B and get BCA, then you do the same to A and have ABC again.

If you're ready for something more advanced, I'd recommend the herringbone (also called fishtail) (which is also somewhat easy), french braids, french herringbone (easier the a french braid in my opinion), and then dutch braids, which are basically large corn rows.

For cornrows, there are feminine and masculine styles. Masculine styles tend go straight back and the harder styles that i haven't attempted yet involve zigzags. Feminine styles have more curves and instead of going straight back will go at an angle.

Another option, which is no harder than the simple three strand braided ponytail, it just takes longer, is box braids. You part a small square of hair, about a square inch, though you can certainly make them smaller, and then braid that. Then you part another small square of hair and braid that. After an exceedingly long period of time (which will be shorter if you make the braids larger), your entire head will be covered in them and you can wear them for several weeks.

Another style which is great for medium-long hair, and especially good if you have thinner hair and want to bulk it up a little is like box braids, but instead of braiding them, you just twist. You part out a small section of hair, twist it as tightly as you can, then put your finger at the halfway point and bend it around your finger into a U shape. Remove your finger, and it should then twist around itself. You can tie it, but if the section of hair is small enough, you won't have to; it'll stay on its own. They are much faster to do than box braids, but will stay in less time. Definitely take them out before they get matted.


Sore throat doesn't hurt so much anymore now, just a little, and I've been extra tired. It didn't develop normally like a sore throat should. When I look at my throat in the mirror, there's still a white spot at the back of my throat that looks like an abscess, but it hasn't gotten bigger. Maybe it'll go away eventually.

I had an ear infection recently (it's been about a month since it's healed), and that wasn't a normal ear infection either. It was a largish abscess in my ear canal. I put over the counter ear drops in it and kept draining it with qtips (it was close enough to the surface that i could see it with a mirror. I didn't put the qtip in farther than I could see) and after a week or so it got better.

I can't lance the one in my throat myself. It's too far back and my gag reflex is too strong. But hopefully it'll go away.
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Re: Hair

pthalo
Also, I'm up to 7 braids on my head now. Some of them are already "normal cornrow sized". But I'm running into a weird problem. Sometimes...I forget how to braid. I'll do up a cornrow and it's quick and easy and looks nice. And then I'll part out the next part and divide the first bit into three strands and then I'll spend ten minutes trying to figure out how to get the middle one over the left one. So the two I did yesterday look great and the two I did last night look like I let a small child do my hair.

Maybe the blend wasn't right last night and we have varying skill levels. Or maybe we were just tired. who knows.
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Re: Hair

chris the cynic
Could you have just been overthinking it?  I know that one of the things that is sure to mess up something that's usually quick and easy is thinking about how I do it.  All of a sudden I have to work through every step and I don't always work through them right.

I've heard it said that applies to other people as well.  The example that comes to mind is that someone who could effortlessly use a manual transmission was asked, innocently enough, by someone who couldn't about how one does that.  He started thinking about it and suddenly lost the ability to use a manual transmission (and risked damaging his car.)

The impression I have is that it's generally true that if you've reached the point where you can do something without really thinking, thinking about what you're doing will likely cause you to mess up.
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Re: Hair

pthalo
Yeah, I was looking in the mirror too much, which always makes it hard to tell left from right, and so I was going "okay, this strand goes over that strand no not under over no not that strand this strand okay now i move my left my LEFT not my right my LEFT hand oh ffs." and my hands started sweating and my hair was already greasy and the hairs were slippery. And also, it's harder to do the ones on the top of your head because you have to hold your arms in the air, and the ones i was having trouble with were top ones. It was also around midnight and I was really tired.
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Re: Hair

pthalo
This post was updated on .
I levelled up! I used to get tired after two braids, but now I can do half my head without getting tired. There were no intermediary stages (I didn't go from being able to do 2 braids to being able to do 3, I went from being able to do 2 braids to being able to do 9).

So, I redid it all over the course of a couple days (half one night, half the next day, then today i did the top two, which crisscross. So now I have 18 braids on my head.
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Re: Hair

AnaMardoll
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Nice!! I love your cornrows. Good leveling.

I've been trying to grow my own hair out, but this is hampered by the fact that it looks better and feels better short. But then I see books, movies, TV, etc. with the hair down to the small of the back and my brain is all WANT! :D
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Re: Hair

pthalo
Thanks!

Have you thought of trying hair extensions? There are youtube videos for how to put them in. And you could try out long hair for a while, then take it off :)
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Re: Hair

AnaMardoll
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I had them priced once, but for my texture and color they were WAY out of my price range.
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Re: Hair

pthalo
Fair enough. I have no idea how much they cost, never having had them.

My hair...just sort of gets longer all by itself without me having to do anything to it. So as long as I don't go to the hair dresser, it just keeps getting longer, and quickly. It's about 2 inches past shoulder length now, and I was bald two years ago. (Well, my hair was like 1/4 inch long 2 years ago).

And since I've learned to trim it myself, I haven't been to a hairdresser in years.
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Re: Hair

AnaMardoll
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I *think* -- this seems ludicrous to me, but I think I'm remembering correctly -- that extensions were quoted to me as several hundred dollars (close to $1000) and they'd only last a few months before I'd have to redo them. That astonished me.
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