I said I wanted it and as soon as your know it I got it! I originally planned to get Crochet Braids (latch hook, tree braids, etc) done by a professional, like Dr. Kari over at Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon in Beverly Hills. Unfortunately she was booked through September and I really wanted to rock them for my Birthday weekend coming up in a few weeks! I am always wary to pursue and attempt to do extensive protective styles myself i.e. weaves, extensions, individual braids, etc. The only other style I used to do often by myself was long twists using the Janet Collection Afro Kinky Bulk hair.
The only downside to this protective style is that it was actually damaging - the weight of the twists weighing down my hair gave me bald spots! eek! On top of that it took 9 hours to do. So I welcomed the prospect of pursuing another protective style that I could possibly do myself.
How I Did It
Because I am one of those rarities out there that cannot, I repeat cannot, cornrow my hair on my own and have only had mild success cornrowing other people's hair, I had my friend cornrow a pattern similar to the one seen above (she only did it for $25 in about an hour, hit me up if interested in her services and you live in the Los Angeles area).
I was really torn in choosing which kind of synthetic hair to use, whether it should be the Freetress Bulk Bohemian Braid or the Synthetic Water Wave Latch Hook Braiding Hair. Both have a lovely curl pattern but I chose to go with the Bohemian because I heard on some YouTube videos that it lasted longer (and I am swimming once a week so I needed something durable lol). I bought three packs but only used two complete packs, so buy three just in case you need some extra hair (they are only $5.99 a pack!). I used one pack of 4 (my hair is really light from the sun and chlorine exposure) and one pack of TP1B/33 (it has nice subtle brown highlights to it). I alternated between using both kinds of hair. I cut the hair in half (you can see how its done on a variety of YouTube videos) and split each curl into two or three pieces.
I used two tools to crochet the hair on the cornrows. For the smaller parts of my cornrows - closer to the top/start of the cornrow I used the Hair Beader since it is flatter and fit under the tighter part of the cornrow. I used it a lot on the front part around my hairline and because the cornrows were thinner. I used the Latch Hook Crochet Needle for the larger cornrows in the back of my head.
It took about four hours to crochet the hair on (granted my mom did some of the back and I did all of the front). If I did all of it by myself I think it would of taken like 5.5 hours, but hey it's supposed to last for 4-6 weeks! I only plan on keeping it in for one month right before my swim competition.
I usually shake it out in the mornings to get the curls loose again and every other day I rub some Shea Moisture Frizz Free Curl Mousse through it to give some shine and body to the synthetic hair.
I even tried taking the front and flipping it up into a slight bouffant aka le pouf lol. I am thinking of throwing it up into one of those Natural Me headbands one summer day as well. I also usually use a head band around my hairline when I go work out and keep my hair out in the back. I am not a big fan of the tug factor when my hair is pulled into a pony or something with synthetic hair. I try to take it easy.
I clean and wash my real hair just like I did when I got a weave. I have seen people use spray bottles filled half with water and half with shampoo and spray it on their scalps but I like to saturate my cornrows too so I used an applicator bottle half filled with shampoo and half filled with water. I also used an applicator bottle to apply conditioner mixed with some water. I think the best bet would be to apply the shampoo before getting in the shower and the synthetic hair getting all wet and tangled (it becomes hard to move it out the way to apply the product to your tracks). I also bought some synthetic hair shampoo like Better Braids Medicated Shampoo in the spray bottle to wash the synthetic hair as well (wash it very gently so it won't ruin the curl pattern too much). The drying process is pretty fast since synthetic hair doesn't really absorb anything. Long as you wash your hair earlier in the day you don't need to sit under a dryer since I found my cornrows dried faster with this type of hair style (its is more breezy and open) than my weave which was the equivalent to a hat.
What I will do differently next time...
My cornrows are a little too tight, same thing happened when I got my weave installed. I am tenderheaded and need to be more vocal about the tightness of my braids.
I am going to move my part a little bit closer to the middle of my head because I have balding near my temples. I will also make the part not as straight but more of a natural part.
I am going to make 10-12 cornrows in the front then combine those to make larger cornrows of 5-6 in the back.
I am also going to take the hair/tails left over from the cornrows and loop that into the cornrows on my head with the Latch Hook Crochet Needle. Right now they are just sitting jumbled in a braid at the nape of my neck. Luckily you cannot see it unless someone lifts up the back of my hair.
The following videos were really helpful in guiding me through the process of crochet braids from start to finish. Definitely look to them for guidance and advice!
Cornrow Patterning for Crochet Braids