The Art of the Puff + Pics

Monday, August 08, 2011

January Puff (using tight elastic hair bands)
It seems like it was just yesterday that I was struggling to slick back my then-month-old TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) into a puff for work. I remember using one of those large elastic hair bands that was holding back my puff so tight that it would feel like it was practically cutting off circulation to my head by the end of the work day. Since then I have learned a little more about the "art of puff-making" - and I've also tossed those painful elastic hair bands (what was I thinking?? Oh, wait...maybe I wasn't thinking since there probably was very little blood flowing to my head while I had those tight hair bands in...LOL). Anyway, back to the puff - I call it an art because there is really no exact science to it, and everyone puts their own spin on how they choose to do it.

To secure my puff, I prefer to use one of those cheap knee-high stockings that you can buy at the pharmacy in place of the large elastic bands I used to use. I just get a color that closely matches my hair (black) and cut off the thickest part of one knee-high where it opens at the top. Then I elongate and stretch out the knee-high before I use it in my hair.

An altered knee-high
To do my puffs, I basically loop the knee-high around my head once - wrapping it around the edges of my head from the front and then crossing both ends of the knee-high in the back of my head at the nape area. Once I cross both ends of the knee-high at the nape, I then start to pull the ends of the knee high taut - away from my head. As I do this, the loop I've made with the knee-high around my head slides back and gets smaller and smaller until my hair gathers upward into a puff.  What I love about using the knee-high over the large elastic hair bands is the degree of control I have over how tight I want my puff to be. With the knee-high I can slowly tighten the loop I've made around my head to where it feels most comfortable. When I get my puff to the level of tightness I can handle (which is not tight at all), I simply tie off the ends of the knee-high and make a single knot to keep the knee-high from un-looping and my puff in place. Doing my puffs this way makes this a much more bearable style than it use to be when I first started doing them. It is also much easier on my edges. You can actually see the difference in how tight my edges were being pulled in my January puff picture than they were in my July puff picture.

July Puff (using a knee-high stocking)

To gel or not to gel? To brush or not to brush? I've put my hair in a puff while it was still soaking wet and also while it was completely dry, but I think I've gotten some of my best puffs when my hair was just slightly damp. If my hair isn't already soaking wet, I usually like to start off by lightly spritzing/ dampening my hair with water. I find that spritzing my hair with a little water before styling it (if it is not already wet) makes my hair more pliable and elastic and easier to manipulate. Then I usually use some good ole' Aloe Vera gel to help slick down my edges and add a little shine. I actually never use a brush to do this part - using the palms of my hands to slick back my edges works just fine for me. Sure, using just your hands to slick back your hair wont give you a super-slicked-back puff or ponytail, but hey, that's not really the look I'm going for anyway. I kind of subscribe to the notion that repeatedly brushing your edges is way too much manipulation on that section of your hair. And for the amount of times I love to put my hair in a puff, I feel like brushing back my edges every single time I do that can eventually  lead to breakage in that area. I will use a nylon bristle brush from time to time thought if I do want that more super-slicked-back look.

See, I told you this was an art!

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