Protective Styling: Marley Twists

I don’t do hair.  More specifically, I am not trained at styling or maximizing care for my natural hair.  The best I can do is keep it clean, untangled, and mostly moisturized.  This is part of the reason I’ve been wearing wigs exclusively for the past 3 years after I decided to stop relaxing my hair.

What’s worse than not doing hair is:  I can’t braid.  Like, cornrow.  Ain’t happenin’.

I know.

It’s a living, breathing, low-down-dirty shame that I can’t do it and I know my nigga’ card is in danger of being pulled for it.  But since I’ve made a personal commitment  to educate myself and elevate myself to a certified naturalista in 2015, I’ve made some changes.

I’ve been wearing my hair out, ditching the wigs, and trying some new things. Although it’s been great the learning curve is steep and bitch got shit to do. So, I was searching for a protective style as easy as throwing on a wig.  I wanted something self contained yet warm cause it’s still chilly here in the PNW.

The Research

I did some research (okay, surfed a bunch of natural hair porn) and came up with the solution: Marley braids.

Once my mind was set on a style – I read some natural hair blogs but learn by watching so I took to YouTube. Ms. Ebony Clark has an “Invisible Root” method video that looked do-able. (Actual tutorial begins at 1:47).

The Process

I took a half day off and went down to my local Sally’s for the Marley Hair everyone’s been raving about and whaddya’ know – they didn’t have it.  So I mosey on down to my local Ethiopian strip mall and found a hair salon/ethnic beauty supply/flea market that sold this:


I perused the color choices, grabbed 5 packs of 22″ hair, and was on my way $65 lighter.

One last stop by the grocery store for my favorite cranberry wine ’cause black girl hair installation time ain’t no joke.

Once I’m finally home, I throw on some Trailer Park Boys, pre-poo with olive oil, greenhouse that ‘ish with a plastic cap for an episode (about 28 minutes), wash, deep condition, band stretch till just about dry, then get to work.

Olive oil pre-poo, freshly washed, moderately stretched and air dried.

Olive oil pre-poo, freshly washed, moderately stretched and air dried.

I started with the idea that maybe I would try the invisible root method but I quickly found out that my lack of hair skill will not allow this to turn out well if at all.  So, I switched to the game plan and with with the ol’ Braid and Twist.

MemoirsOfKee has a tutorial for the “Braid & Twist” method that made it possible for a natural hair n00b like me.  Her video was a constant reference guide.  I used slightly different products but the rest of her directions I followed to a tee.

What I used:

  • Eco Styler Gel
  • Raw Shea Butter (first time using it)
  • Curls Cream Brulee

Phone Photos 228Phone Photos 230

Something I did end up doing that appears to be optional is using perm rods and hot water to curl the ends.  This was an extra step but totally worth it.

Your Results May Vary (YRMV) but my results:

Phone Photos 232

In the end, 6 hours later with LOTS of breaks (are y’all watching How to Get Away with Murder?!  Shonda Rhimes, tho!) I had some thoughts:

  • It was nice to have a protective style in for a few weeks to keep my hands out of my natural hair.
  • Using a multi-colored hair blend was a good choice.  It gave the style some depth.
  • Boy did it feel nice to let my scalp breathe!
  • These braids are BIG!
  • This hair is stupid uncomfortable to sleep on.  Some girl at the gym even asked me if it was hard to sleep with all that hair.

What I’d do different next time:

  • Use less hair.  The 22″ length was just too much for me.  Although the hair itself was pretty light, it put some stress on my fine hair and was very noticeably heavy when piled on the top of my head or running down my back. Messed up my triangle pose!  Not to mention there was so much hair it was really difficult to get any kind of good style out of it.  Up, down, or half and half was as far as I got.  One dude at a bar just tugged on it while I was engaged in a conversation with my friends.  When I turned around to clock him in the eye he to me “I just had to touch it!  It so beautiful and so MUCH hair!”  So yeah, there’s that.
  • At this length, this hair is super inconvenient to wash.  It took FOREVER to dry.
  • My scalp was not loving it.  In all fairness, I do have a difficult scalp, but after about 4 days my scalp was desert dry and itchy.  Flakes everywhere. Even though I did moisturize – I still had to  take most of them down weekly, comb out the ick, re-moisturize, then re-braid.

All in all, I will try it again before I count it out. Smaller braids, shorter length.  I sure did keep all that hair but I may try a different brand next time or condition it before I re-install.

For a first attempt though – I ain’t mad at it.


What do y’all think?  Fail or win?