Final Thoughts (And Final Braids)

#LearningProject update:

For the past two weeks I have been learning how to braid, and my end goal was to learn how to French braid my entire head by the end of the semester. Well guess what?

I did it!

But let me just say this: it wasn’t an easy feat. Learning how to French braid is probably the most difficult skill that I have learned throughout this entire project.


Before I even attempted to French braid my whole head, I practiced French braiding on small sections of my hair, and eventually, I learned how to French braid my bangs. This tutorial video was the main resource that I used when I first began learning how to braid. As I mentioned in my previous post, I also practiced on a Barbie doll that I borrowed from my little cousin. Although the Barbie isn’t a tech resource (whoops!) it really came in handy — it was helpful to be able to practice my French braiding technique on real (fake) hair


When I was finally ready to attempt French braiding my whole head, I watched these two tutorial videos:

Although the videos are very similar, and both provide good instructions, I actually found the second video a little more helpful. When you French braid you own hair you are essentially blind — can’t see what’s going on in the back of your head. The woman in the second video French braids her own hair (whereas the woman in the first video braids her daughter’s hair), so it was helpful to see how to hold and cross my hair. It took me several hours and multiple attempts, but I finally got the hang of it. The braid in the picture above is a little crooked, and it’s not as smooth as I would have liked, but overall I think it turned out really well!

And with that, my #LearningProject has now come to an end; the past six weeks have just flown by. Check out this recap of my entire #LearningProject experience:

#LearningProject Recap

#LearningProject: Making It Meaningful

  • Introduction and rationale for my #LearningProject
  • Pictures demonstrating my level of mastery at the beginning
  • Goals for the end

Buying a Curling Iron: A Not-So-Simple Task

  • Conducting research: what factors to consider when purchasing a curling iron
  • Pictures of my brand new (and first ever!) curling iron

Curling 101

Five 5-Minute Hairstyles That Took All Night

  • “Quick and easy” hairstyles
  • Frustrated by lack of decent resources — pictures difficult to follow
  • Pictures comparing how the hairstyles were supposed to look vs. how they actually turned out

Mastering the Art of the Messy Bun

  • Advantages of working with second or third-day hair vs. clean hair
  • Pictures showing the three different messy bun styles that I tried
  • Struggling with being a perfectionist

#LearningProject: Trials and Tribulations

  • Reflecting on how my #LearningProject has been going thus far
  • Describing the many challenges of learning a skill online
  • Sharing some of my favourite resources (
  • Critiquing resources: how-to pictures vs. tutorial videos
  • Sharing personal frustrations

Braiding For Beginners

  • Final task: Learning how to braid
  • Describing regular vs. French braid
  • Sharing braiding resources for beginners
  • Pictures of braiding progress


Reflections On My #LearningProject Experience

I have struggled with my hair my whole life — it used to be something that always got me down. My hair is very flat, fine, and frizzy, and the only two things that I could successfully do with my hair were straighten it or put it up into a ponytail. I was bored and frustrated with my hair. I chose to learn how to do my hair for my #LearningProject because I couldn’t think of a more personally meaningful skill for me to learn.

Going into my #LearningProject, I didn’t really have a specific goal or outcome in mind that I wanted to achieve. All I wanted was to learn a variety of hairstyles and techniques so that I could do more than simply straighten my hair. Overall, my #LearningProject wasn’t easy; it was challenging and extremely frustrating at times (check out this post where I describe some of the challenges of learning a skill online as well as my own personal frustrations), but I feel as though I have learned a lot. I went from having virtually zero hair-styling experience to learning a ton of different hair styles and techniques.

It may have not been a smooth learning experience, but I can definitely see the benefits of learning a skill online and sharing about progress openly in an online space. Through my #LearningProject, I was able to learn from and critically evaluate a variety of online resources like blogs, websites, and videos; I was able to share my progress openly through my blog and through the #LearningProject hashtag on Twitter; and I was able to receive feedback and words of encouragement and support from my PLN. Another benefit to learning a skill online is that it is flexible — I was able to learn at my own pace and choose resources that were best for me.

Overall, I’m glad that I had this experience. Thanks for following my #LearningProject journey!

Braiding for Beginners

As I mentioned in my previous #LearningProject post, the latest hair technique that I have been working on is braiding.  I’ve been learning how to braid for just over a week now, and it is proving to be the most challenging task that I have taken on yet.

I started by learning how to do a basic braid.  For a basic braid, you simply take a chunk of hair, section it into three equal pieces, and then continuously cross the outside pieces over the middle piece, like so:

It took me awhile to get the hang of the basic braid, but now I can do one quite quickly. I think the most difficult thing about braiding is learning how to hold and cross the pieces of hair without losing any of the pieces or without combining them together.  Another problem that I ran into was that, at first, I was crossing the outside pieces under the middle piece instead of crossing them over.  Although this isn’t really an issue for a basic braid, a French braid (the other type of braid that I wanted to learn) requires the overhand technique; if I were to “French braid” underhand, it would technically be called a Dutch braid, or an inverted French braid.

Photo Credit:

After I mastered the basic braid, I moved on to the French braid.  The only difference between a basic braid and French braid is that you add hair as you go:

Photo Credit:

I find that a French braid is a little trickier to do because you’re dealing with more hair; in the middle of a French braid, I often get confused by all the different pieces of hair, trying to keep them separated.  I’m still not a pro at the French braid, but I’m getting there.

So far I have only learned how to braid my bangs in both a basic braid (below left) and a French braid (below right):

This tutorial video was the main resource that I used, and it is a great place to start for beginner braid-ers!  The woman in the video demonstrates how to do different types of braids using only a small section of her hair whereas many of the other tutorial videos that I watched demonstrated how to braid using large sections of hair or even the whole head. When I got to braiding my bangs, I also used this video from The Small Things Blog — one of my go-to resources throughout my #LearningProject. Another resource that I have been using is a Barbie doll which I borrowed from my little cousin. I’ll admit, it makes me look a bit ridiculous, but the doll has been a great tool to help me learn how to hold the hair properly, as well as the overhand criss-cross motion.

My ultimate goal is to be able to French braid my entire head by the end of the semester. Only a week and a half left of ECMP 355.  Stay tuned!


#LearningProject: Trials and Tribulations

So far in my #LearningProject journey I have written numerous blog posts describing my hair-styling successes.  But the journey, overall, has not been smooth.  We are just over halfway through the semester, so I thought I should take some time to (openly and honestly) critique how my #LearningProject has been going.

I am absolutely in love in the hairstyles that I have learned, but learning a skill solely from online resources has been challenging — for many reasons.  First, there are thousands of hair-styling resources available online, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  I find that having so many resources available to me makes it more difficult to get started on a hair project; I often spend hours upon hours sifting through all the blogs, websites, and tutorial videos rather than actually working on my hair.  

Between 50 and 90% of people who work in front of a computer screen have some symptoms of eye trouble, studies show.

Photo Credit:

With a plethora of hair resources online, I also get a lot of conflicting information.  When I search a particular hairstyle, about a hundred resources pop up all describing how to do the same thing, only slightly different.  For example, there are many variations to the Summer Scarf Updo — one of the five “quick and easy” hairstyles that I learned a few weeks ago.  One version of the hairstyle, known as the Tuck and Cover, uses two small headbands instead of a scarf (see the picture below).  This was actually the version that I tried first, but I found it too difficult to work with multiple headbands.

The Summer Scarf Updo


Photo Credit:

vs. The Tuck and Cover

Aside from the high number of resources, finding decent resources has been another challenge.  The Small Things Blog has become one of my favourite resources for all things hair.  Kate, the owner of the blog, posts tons of tutorial videos that are simple and super easy to follow — even for beginners!  Kate also frequently posts about what hair products and tools to use, and I actually referenced one of her posts when doing research on what curling iron to buy. The majority of the resources online, however, are not as good as The Small Things Blog.

For my #LearningProject, I use a lot of pictures off of websites and blogs. Sometimes I get step-by-step pictures, and sometimes I only get a picture of the final product.  I find it extremely difficult to learn from a picture because, more often than not, there are no accompanying written instructions, so I am usually left to interpret the picture(s) on my own, struggling to figure out how they got from point A to point B (like in the pictures above).  With pictures, I also only get one view of the head, so I might be shown the front but have no idea what is going on in the back.  I prefer learning from tutorial videos because I find it easier to replicate a hairstyle when it’s done right in front of me — I can follow along step-by-step.  That being said, I have struggled using videos as well.


I used the above video to learn how to do a messy bun.  At 1:21, the woman in the video says to bobby pin the bun down to keep it close to the head, but I wasn’t sure if she pushed the bun down or forward. It seems like a trivial thing to fuss over, but depending on how I pinned the bun the look of the hairstyle changed.  My mom and I deliberated over this for about 20 minutes.  It would have been nice to have another view of the woman’s head to see what her hair looked like from the back, or even to be able to ask her exactly what she did.

That brings me to my next point.  Perhaps the biggest challenge that I am facing in learning a skill online is not being able to physically talk to someone.  I am a social learner — that is, I learn by talking things through.  There have been many instances throughout my #LearningProject so far where I have been stuck on a hairstyle and  wished that I could have asked the person in the tutorial video a question or to explain something in more detail.

I have also experienced personal frustrations during my #LearningProject.  I am a perfectionist, so every time I attempt a new hairstyle, I expect perfection from myself immediately.  When I don’t get a hairstyle right away (which is often — it usually takes a few hours at least), or when it doesn’t turn out exactly like the picture or video, I become frustrated with myself.  But I guess frustration is part of the learning process — my #LearningProject wouldn’t be as meaningful if I nailed every hairstyle on the first try. Moving forward, I need to learn to expect less from myself.  A few short weeks ago I had virtually zero hair-styling experience — I could straighten my hair with a flat iron, and I could put it up into a ponytail.  That was it.  Since then, I have learned how to curl my hair, I have learned how to do a number of quick and easy hairstyles, and I have mastered the messy bun.  Instead of getting frustrated over what I can’t do (yet), I need to focus on how far I’ve come.

#LearningProject update: I’m learning how to braid! Stay tuned!


Mastering the Art of the Messy Bun

#LearningProject update:

After attempting a variety of quick and easy hairstyles last week (which were anything but), this week I decided to master the messy bun.  A messy bun is exactly what it sounds like; as opposed to a tight, polished bun, a messy bun creates more of a “lived-in” look — it’s loose and casual but very pretty.  It’s also tricky to learn.

I washed my hair in anticipation for practicing different messy bun looks, but I soon realized that was a mistake.  Almost all the tutorial videos I watched and Pinterest articles I read suggested starting with second or even third-day hair because the natural oils from your hair plus any left-over product add additional texture, making your hair more voluminous and easy to work with.  Clean hair is often static-y and too soft, making it difficult to control and pin back.  So, before beginning my messy bun journey, I added some product to my hair to freshly washed hair.  First I worked some TRESemmé Thermal Creations volumizing mousse into my damp hair to give it some volume. Then I blow-dried.  After my hair was dry, I added göt2b’s texturizing cream pomade to give my hair texture to work with.  Luckily, I already had these products at home, so I didn’t need to make a trip out.

I attempted three different messy bun styles — all from different resources.  This is how they turned out:

Messy Bun #1: 

The first messy bun that I attempted is called The Classic Messy Bun, and I learned how to do it from the following tutorial video.  The woman in the video demonstrates how to do a variety of messy bun looks, but I focused on mastering Look #1 (0:33 to 2:23).

How it turned out:

This messy bun is different from the other two that I tried because only some of my hair went into the actual bun; the rest of my hair I twisted and pinned up the back, which added some detail to the look.  My mom said that this was her favourite hairstyle that I have tried so far.

Messy Bun #2: 

The second messy bun that I tired is called The Lived-In Bun. I found this look on — a resource that has been very helpful to me during my #LearningProject and one that I keep coming back to.

How it turned out:

This messy bun look is my favourite; it’s casual yet sophisticated.  It was also super easy to do once I got the hang of it. My hair didn’t turn out exactly like the tutorial video, but I think that’s because I have shorter and thinner hair — I couldn’t stretch the bun very far without all of my hair falling out.

Messy Bun #3:

This last look I found on Pinterest while searching for messy bun looks for people with short hair. The article gave ten different bun ideas to try, but I focused on learning Look #2 — The Messy Top Bun.

How it turned out:

This messy bun look was the trickiest to achieve because the article only provided written instructions — there was no video to show me what to do, so I was left to interpret the instructions on my own.  That being said, I think it turned out well!

The key to achieving a messy bun, as I’ve learned, is don’t over-think it.  When you over-think, you tend to over-perfect, and that’s not the point of a messy bun.  Basically, you want to put work into your messy bun, but you don’t want it to look like you put work into it.  I struggled with this at first.  I’m a perfectionist, so it was difficult not to wrap my bun too tightly or pin back every little loose hair.  But, the more I worked at it, the more relaxed I got with my hair, and the more relaxed I was, the nicer my hair turned out.

Which messy bun look is your favourite? Comment and let me know!


Five 5-Minute Hairstyles That Took All Night

Last week I learned how to curl my hair as part of my #LearningProject.  I loved how it turned out, but it took several hours for me to curl my whole head.  Not so convenient. I don’t have several hours to dedicate to doing my hair every day, so this week I checked out a number of websites and blogs all advertising quick and easy hairstyle solutions.  These were a few of my favourite resources:

I set aside two hours with the hope of learning a variety of cute, yet simple hairstyles.  I tried many. Lots were ugly, and some were so tedious that I gave up.  The biggest problem that I faced was that most of the resources did not provide videos or written instructions, just step-by-step pictures (if that) which left me struggling to decipher things all on my own. Ultimately, it took me six hours to learn only five hairstyles.  As it turns out, the “quick and easy” hairstyles are anything but.  Overall, the process was extremely frustrating, though I like the five hairstyles that I learned:

1. The 2-Minute Low Braided Bun (which did not take 2 minutes):

How it was supposed to look:


Photo Credit:

How it turned out: 


2. The Grown Up Half-Up Half-Down 

How it was supposed to look:


Photo Credit:

How it turned out:


3. The Half-Up Hair Wrap

How it was supposed to look:


Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

How it turned out:

Side note: To achieve this hairstyle, I applied the skills that I learned last week and added some curls.  Go me!

4. The Summer Scarf Updo

How it was supposed to look:


Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

How it turned out:


5. The Two-Bobby-Pin Front Twist

How it was supposed to look:

How it turned out:


As frustrating as the process was, I’m excited that I’m starting to my repertoire of hairstyles.  What is your favourite hairstyle of the five above? Let me know in the comments!

Now, onto my next ‘do!

Buying a Curling Iron: A Not-So-Simple Task

#LearningProject update:

Today I purchased my first curling iron, though it wasn’t as simple of a task as it may seem.  I did some research ahead of time, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I came up with — I had no idea there were so many options when it came to curling irons (and don’t even get me started on curling wands)!  But, after sifting through several beauty websites, hair-care blogs, and how-to videos, I learned that there are three main factors to consider when buying a curling iron:

1. The type of curling iron, or the material the iron is made of

Curling irons come in all makes and models, so it’s important to pick the right one for your hair type. From my research, I discovered that there are five different types of curling irons, though ceramic, tourmaline, and titanium are among the most popular.  I also came across this helpful blog post (written by an actual hair-care professional) which breaks down the different types of curling irons and describes the properties and benefits of each.


Photo Credit: Alessia Santoro via BuzzFeed

2. Barrel size

The size of the curling iron that you purchase is another important factor to consider, as it depends on the length of your hair as well as the type of curls that you are wanting to achieve. As I discovered, curling irons range anywhere from 2″ to 3/8″ in size, and each produces a totally different type of curl.  Rule of thumb: the longer the hair, the bigger the curling iron.  For someone like me who has shoulder-length hair, a 1 to 1 1/4″ barrel size is recommended.


3. Adjustable heat settings

Finally, almost every resource that I came across strongly recommended purchasing a curling iron with adjustable heat settings, for the amount of heat that you should apply to your hair depends on your hair type. For someone like me who has fine hair, a low-heat setting is recommended — ideally below 200 degrees.

With these three factors in mind (as well as a fourth factor — price), I did some research on the best brands of curling irons to buy.  After a short trip to Walmart, this is the curling iron that I ended up purchasing:


My new curling iron — a 1″ Conair Infiniti Pro.


So excited about curling irons!


So, now I own a curling iron.  The next step is figuring out what to do with it…