I did not make a conscious decision to go natural, after years of kitchen perms, sew ins and stress my hair fell out from the root. I literally would run my hands through my hair and clumps of hair would come out with the root attached. I started to research (google) ways to grow my hair back quickly so I could perm it again. However, I discovered youtube and blogs with women who had beautiful, long and healthy natural hair and I was curious. I wanted to know if my hair could be healthy and grow to such lengths. I received my first perm at twelve, I'm the one that asked for it, I was going away to boarding school and had no idea how to care for my hair. My hair was neck length, it never seemed to grow past that length especially after the relaxer. It wasn't healthy either, I always had breakage and it was always dry. Now, after five years of being natural I'm grazing arm pit length, literally grazing. Meaning that if I trim my hair I can no longer claim arm pit length.
Hair is supposed to grow an average of 6" per year. I have never had a problem with growing my hair but clearly I have a problem retaining length if I'm only grazing arm pit length after five years of being natural. I've analyzed my hair care regimen, done my research and have made some changes to my regimen. I have compiled a list of all the things that I have done wrong over the years that have contributed to my lack of length retention.
- Hair Breakage
- This has been my biggest issue over the last five years
- My breakage has been caused by
- Protein Overload: The hair benefits from protein, it strengthens it and actually helps to protect against breakage. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. There were plenty of times that I did protein treatments way too often. My hair became dry and brittle then broke off.
- Detangling Tools: It seems that I have tried every detangling tool on the market. The denman, tangle teezer, combs, paddle brushes etc. I've noticed that no matter how much slip a product has these tools always break my hair.
- Protective styles: Yes some of my protective styles have led to breakage. My hair mattes very easily. I love mini twists but I find that leaving them in too long and wetting the hair to re-moisturize exasperates the matting. Flatwists also lead to breakage, I got a lot of breakage from parting my hair to get the perfect style, I usual styled my hair while dry so that may have lead to it breaking.
- Tangles have also contributed to my hair breakage. I have tried solely finger detangling in the past and I've gotten a lot of tangles from that especially at the root. Finger detangling is great, it works but I was definitely impatient. I didn't take my time so after months of poorly finger detangling my hair was extremely tangled. I would then use a comb and rip through all the tangles out of frustration. I also got a lot of tangles from letting my hair go too long without detangling. Mainly because I wear a lot of protective styles and I keep them in for about 4-6wks.
- Constantly Trimming
- I feel like I always have split ends, so I'm constantly trimming
- I've used the tangle teaser before and it completely destroyed my hair. I had splits all the way up the hair shaft. Its taken a year to completely get rid of the damage.
- Mini twists have also lead to damaged ends. I would leave them in too long, usually up to three weeks, then my hair would matte so when I took them down my ends would cling together and not knowing better I would rip them apart.
- Also, after removing styles like Marley Twists I would have a lot of single strand knots. Probably because I didn't stretch my hair properly before installing the braids so some of my ends would be exposed.
- Disastrous Salon visits.
- I think I've been to the salon twice since I was natural and both times were epic failures
- My first visit was just a month shy of my two year natural anniversary and I was past collar bone length on my way to arm pit length. I decided to go in for a wash, condition, treatment, trim and style. The whole visit cost about $80, I left with a cute style. But after the visit I had hair as short as an inch, 2 inches, 4 inches, and some sections were their original lengths. You get the picture. The stylist went Edward scissor hand ham in my head
- I can't remember when my second visit was but I went in for an updo and came out with heat damage. She tried to give my 4c hair a blowout with a paddle brush, needless to say that didn't work so she used a flat iron on my partially wet hair. I figured, she's a stylist she knows what she's doing right? Wrong! lol
- Chronic Dryness
- I suffered from chronic dryness my first three years natural. This was mainly because:
- I didn't know how to moisturize my hair. I didn't know how to properly layer the products. I was just putting stuff in my hair not knowing that there was a proper way to do it for optimum moisture.
- I was also not using the correct products. When I first went natural, I thought that products that had natural in the title were great for my hair. I quickly realized that even though a product may say natural it may not be truly natural. Some products say that they contain natural ingredients but are loaded with synthetics. Some people use synthetic products and it works wonders for them. I personally find that my hair stays moisturized and healthy when I use all natural ingredients. I was never able to obtain moisturized hair until I started using natural products. My hair was dry and unhealthy in my relaxed days as well and prior to being relaxed. For some, myself included ingredients really do matter.
- My hair was also dry from heat damage. I sustained heat damage from my last salon visit and I also tried to heat train my hair after that with a blow dryer. My hair became even more dry.
I will be doing several posts on how to get and maintain healthy natural hair.