Have your ever gazed longingly at a picture of a woman with natural, long, thick coils and thought, “When my hair gets to that length you can’t tell me nothing,”? If so, then this article is for you! The cliché, “hindsight is 20/20,” rings quite true when it comes to what I’ve learned about my hair. I’ve gone from 4 inches of coils to dry, brittle hair stuck just above shoulder length for 5 years to wigs and a few quick growth bandwagons to boot. After seven and a half years of being natural there are some lessons I’ve learned that would have made my hair journey ten times easier. Hopefully this retrospective reflection on my hair journey will help those of you at an earlier stage in your journey.
There’s no need to take shortcuts to see results. You want to give your hair an opportunity to retain length and health without the intervention of methods that may cause side effects that can harm your hair and health. You also don’t want to apply methods that may improve your rate of hair growth but also lead you to false expectations. For example, if hypothetically you’re able to retain one inch one month, you might assume that you will be able to grow and retain a foot of hair in a year. Let me assure you that I’ve been down that road and it is one fraught with delusions of grandeur. Set a goal to achieve the healthiest hair that you can, rather than achieving fast growth and I promise you will find your journey more enjoyable and less frustrating.
Single strand knots, split ends and tangles are not your enemies. Annoying, yes but not the enemies you think they are. Early in my healthy hair journey, I found tangles and knots extraordinarily frustrating because I felt that each one represented 100 more that I had not yet discovered. However, I eventually realized that other than regular trimming I didn’t need to do anything else to rid myself of these irritating hair nuisances. Again, let me assure you that tangles and small knots have not hindered my hair growth so don’t worry that every knot you detect will hinder yours.
Protective styles that adversely affect other aspects of your hair health are simply not worth it. For about 7 or 8 months in 2009-2010 I was an avid wearer of half wigs. Eventually, I realized that my sensitive edges were irritated by the mild tension required to secure the wigs to my hair. While wearing the wigs allowed me to hide my large fuzzy twists for two weeks at a time, it also weakened my edges. I made the decision to stop wearing half wigs even though it meant that I would have to style my hair regularly and give up my lazy go to protective style. If a protective style helps you to grow hair down your back but causes bald spots or thin edges, it is NOT protecting your hair. Be sure to monitor both the health of your hair and scalp if you wear wigs or weaves to be sure that you aren’t unwittingly damaging your tresses.