When I first took my braids out intending to leave them out forever (after 15 years of wearing them), my hair was JACKED. My journey back to healthy mid-length hair has been rough. All the hair I had when I took my braids out is gone now. After a year of being braids-free I have an entirely new head of hair. This new stuff is healthy and strong, and I know how to take care of it well. So by NEXT September on my 2nd year anniversary, I should have some pretty good length. I may even flat iron it lightly and take a picture.
I’d like to share with you the biggest mistakes I made over the past 15 years in the hopes that you don’t make the same ones.
(1) Taking my long hair for granted. At one point my hair was as long as the braided hair – 14″. Did I care? Nope. I would just say “wow, its growing a lot!” and put it right back into braids with new hair. I rarely conditioned my hair during the years it was in braids, and that was a very bad mistake. Especially since I live in an area where it gets to be over 100 degrees a lot in the summer – my poor hair was baked for months out of the year and I never gave it any help.
(2) Not moisturizing. I could have used a rinse out moisturizer in the shower. I could have spritzed my scalp and braids regularly. I could have used a watered down leave in and sprayed the braids where my hair was braided in. However, I didn’t do any of those things, and the dryness of my hair when the braids came down showed how little I did.
(3) Not finger detangling when I took the braids out. Lazy, I went for the seamless comb. The comb itself is an excellent tool to have in every naturalista’s hair kit, but it should never be used on dry hair tangles. In addition to the normal shed hair, I’d rip out and break off my hair by being impatient and tugging with the comb. I wasn’t very concerned since it was going right back in braids – who would know?
(4) Not doing deep conditioning treatments after taking my braids out. I should have done a series of deep conditioning treatments, two per week for 2-3 weeks after first taking the braids down. But I didn’t. Again, it wasn’t for lack of knowledge; I was just being lazy and taking my hair for granted. I just wasn’t doing what I should have been doing to protect and save my hair.
(5) Using Shea Moisture products. After I’d worked on my hair doing hot oil treatments and whatnot, it was okay… you know, on the path to being soft and silky like it had been. But then, I wanted to get fancy. I had a bit of product junkyism welling up inside. I went to the BSS to buy some of the products other women had been raving about. That was a huge mistake. Though this brand apparently works well on some folks hair, my hair HATED Shea Moisture brand products.
After using the conditioner, my hair felt coated and stiff. It was pretty bad. I thought about rewashing my hair to remove it, but shrugged and figured I’d get it the next weekend. Then a few days later my hair started breaking off like crazy. And no matter what I did, it KEPT breaking! 1/4″ to 1/2″ inch pieces all over my head. In total, I lost a good 3-4″ of hair over a six week period. I was finally able to arrest it with a coconut creme and avocado and banana treatment – that did the trick. Or maybe it was the cumulative effect of all the things I tried. Who is ever going to know. All I DO know is after that treatment, my hair finally stopped breaking. I’ve never used that brand again.
(6) Overhandling my hair. Easy to do watching You Tube videos and seeing all the cute styles people were wearing. I tried a few, but my hair is not gel-friendly, so I’d have to retwist or rebraid every night to keep the style. Ugh. My hair showed its displeasure. In addition to that, when bored or idle, I have a tendency to twirl my hair. One spot, behind the left ear, about an inch up. It’s really bad. I have had to resort to low manipulation styles like twists and braided buns to keep my hands at bay.
Prevent Hair Breakage
All in all, the most valuable lessons I can share with you is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize and deep condition regularly. Handle your hair gently, and style it in ways that prevent you having Hand in Hair Disease, one of the chief reasons for spot breakage. Cover your hair at night, and try only one new product at a time. That way you’ll know exactly which item is the culprit if you start experiencing problems.
What are some of the mistakes you made early in your natural hair journey?
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
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