Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pretty Things: A Natural Hair Update

It's been awhile since I updated you all on my hair journey, so in this post I want to share my recent discoveries and thoughts about natural hair.

Back in June 2010, I decided that I wanted to grow my hair to waist length.  These were my thoughts at the time:  "I've decided to set a length goal. I didn't want to set one before, because I didn't want to make my natural hair journey about a specific outcome. Now that I've accomplished the "going natural" part, I really am curious to see if my natural hair can surpass the length I achieved before college and if I can maintain it."

Since then, I've had a third child and been promoted at work and have another child in school and well, suffice it to say that I have even less time to spend on my hair.  This past summer, I got to the point where I felt like I wouldn't  be able to handle my hair anymore if it got any longer!   The detangling sessions were getting out of control.  I was spending so much time detangling and twisting and using so much product that it was becoming annoying and expensive.  I had to re-evaluate.  The way I see it, hair is supposed to be fun.  I want styling and caring for my hair to be a relaxing past time for me, not a source of stress.  Many of my friends and acquaintances have told me that natural hair was just too much work for them.  And I was beginning to understand how they felt!

So, what I did was empty my mind of any subconscious notions that I was harboring about how I should or shouldn't be styling my hair and products that I should or shouldn't be using.  I opened my mind back up to things that I'd "abolished" since starting my natural hair journey.  And now, I'm back on the right track and my hair is thriving! 

Here's what I've learned:

* Trimming.  I got 2 inches trimmed from my hair in August 2011.  Oh my goodness, no wonder my detangling sessions had gotten so crazy.  Ever since my trim, detangling is a breeze, everything is a breeze.  Washing, styling....EVERYTHING!  Before the trim, I'd gone at least a year and a half without a professional trim. I'd maintained my hair by simpling trimming it myself occasionally.  I was retaining length, so I thought it was fine.  When you're wearing your hair curly, you don't necessarily need it to be cut a certain way so it's easy to look at your hair section by section and think it's doing ok.  But if your hair is getting noticeably more difficult to detangle, it may be a sign that you need a "real" trim.  I certainly don't want waist length hair that's full of knotty ends.

* Stretching.  My natural hair is thin, very shrinky, and very prone to knots.  I find that when I keep my hair stretched, I get significantly less knots and splits and my hair requires less work.  Styling sessions are quicker and less frequent and my hair retains moisture for longer amounts of time.  I stretch my hair through any combination of the following:  blowdrying (no more than twice a month), roller setting, braiding, bunning (stretches roots), or banding.  I had to give up the idea that stretching my hair was like relaxing it.  Hardly.  My goal was to stop putting relaxers in my hair so that it would be healthier and thicker. Sometimes you have to pause and remember what your goals were for your hair and open your mind.  Things might not play out exactly the way you thought, but you can still get there.  For me, wash and go's aren't going to be my vehicle to achieving healthier, thicker hair.

* Sealing.  I moisturize my hair on four levels.  First with a spray - it could be just water or it could be a leave-in like Jane Carter's Revitalizing Leave-In, Infusium 23 Moisturizing Leave-In or Fermodyl 619 for coarse/curly hair.  Then I add a layer of a light, water-based creamy moisturizer like Kinky Kurly Knot Today, Bee Mine Luscious Balanced Moisturizer, Qhemet Burdock Root Butter Cream, or Giovanni Direct Leave-in.  Next, I see with an oil or shea butter based product like coconut oil, Hot Six Oil, Bee Mine Hair and Scalp Moisturizer, Pink Oil Moisturizer (yes, I'm fine with sealing with mineral oil) or others.  Finally, I seal over top of that with a silicone based serum.  Adding this final steps gives me moisturized hair for days!!  It may sound like a lot, but it works for me.  Some nights, I put on a clear plastic cap and tie my scarf around it.  This acts like a mini-heated moisturizing treatment and helps to remoisturize my hair when I'm between styling sessions.

None of these are things you haven't heard before, but these small changes have rejuvenated my love affair with my hair.  If you're feeling frustrated with your hair, take a step back and consider where you can be more open minded to trying different things.  Just because other "naturals" don't do it, doesn't mean it won't work for you. 

Whether you're relaxed or natural, what adjustments have you made to your routines or beliefs that have resulted in happier hair and a happier you?! 


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I went back to the beginning and started doing the things I was doing at first and my hair is thriving. It loves oils and I started back mixing my on dc with conditioner, oils, and honey and MY HAIR IS IN LOVE

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