Here is some more advice for those who are at the awkward stage of their journey. Your hair is growing well and it is no longer a TWA. It may be more of a challenge to manage, as a result. Perhaps you are entering an area of the unknown, where you have to figure out how to style your hair at this new length.This is particularly problematic when you remain as busy as ever. The demands of work, school, or looking after children make hair the last thing you want to concern yourself with. Remember, it isn’t our hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge. Once we learn how to manage our hair effectively at this stage, it is no longer an issue. Have a look at parts 1 -4, if you haven’t already. This week will be tips 5 and 6.
5. Beware of texturizers. I almost fell for it. I was told I could texturize my hair to ‘soften it’. As if my hair is made out of concrete! I will repeat this; it isn’t the hair that is the problem, it is our lack of knowledge. I was someone who was regarded as having ‘tough’ hair. Why? When I first tried to relax my hair it didn’t work. It only relaxed on the third try and would look kinky again after two weeks or so. Then I started using super plus relaxer (Elasta QP Super!).
So if anyone is considered to have ‘tough’ hair it should be me. Now, when my relatives comment on my hair they say, I’m fortunate that my hair is soft, that’s why I have managed to stay natural. No, it is not that my hair is softer than anybody else’s; it’s that I have learned to care for it, in a way that allows me to handle it effectively. I no longer use products that contain harsh sulphates for example, which dry out the hair. I have also learned how to keep my hair stretched out. Refer to my post: How to stretch out your hair without heat.
When your hair is dry and tangled it makes it a lot more difficult to manage. So don’t fall into the trap of believing that a texturizer will ‘soften’ your hair and you will still be natural. Texturizers are similar to relaxers, they are designed to permanently alter your curl pattern. Relaxers take away your curls completely and texturizers are believed to loosen your curl pattern. However if you have a Z shape curl pattern, the result will be very different from the photos on the box. Even if you have an S shape curl pattern results of texturizers can still vary and they are not temporary but permanent, like relaxers. Your hair will not magically go back to its kinky, coily texture when wet.
I know people who made this mistake and came out of the salon with hair that looked relaxed. Hence they had to start all over again. Look at the ingredients in texturizers, they also contain chemicals that permanently alter your hair, such as calcium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide (lye). They also contain ingredients that dry out the hair, such as: petroleum, mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulphate. So don’t be fooled by the smiley faces of the models on the front of the box, and words such as ‘hydrating’, ‘anti-breakage’ and even , ‘organic’. Many of these products use the word organic while containing a number of harsh and unnatural ingredients. They throw in 1% of a natural ingredient and give you the impression that the 1% is the main ingredient. It’s simply a marketing tool. Don’t forget the website http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. You can type in the name of a product or ingredient and find out how it is rated, in terms of safety.
If you are having a problem with managing your hair, simply do some research. There is a great deal of information on the internet, and you can ask questions on forums, facebook pages and YouTube. You will find someone who can relate to you and give you some helpful advice. I’m still learning better ways of managing my hair. It use to take me 1 hour and 30 minutes to detangle it. Now it takes me 30 minutes because I followed some advice I found on YouTube. It’s trial and error and you have to be willing to learn and make mistakes at the same time. You will be thankful that you didn’t go back to relaxers or texturize your hair, when you really didn’t need to.
Have a look at Kimmytube’s natural hair story (parts 1 and 2). It is very inspiring and highlights that fact that we are all learning. Her hair was the same length for the first ten years of being natural. It is only when she began researching how to truly manage her hair, she began to see great results. She also tried texturizers and it didn’t work out.
6.Protective styles give you a well-earned break. These are styles that ensure your ends are tucked away, so that they do not become damaged. If your ends are protected they are less likely to break off and, your length will therefore be retained. I believe the reason my hair never grew beyond a certain point (when it was relaxed) was because it broke off at the ends. My hair was certainly growing from the roots. The fact that I had to relax my hair every six weeks due to re-growth was evidence of that. So the only explanation could be that there was a problem with the other side of my hair, the ends.
The benefits of protective styling are evident and there is so much information about it. Protective styles include: twists, cornrows, braids, French braids and basically any style where your ends are tucked away and protected for consecutive, days, weeks or months. If you do braid or twist your hair and leave your ends out, technically, this is a low manipulation style but it still serves the purpose of ensuring that your hair is left alone.
As your hair gets longer you should consider incorporating protective styles into your style repertoire. I like to do French braids, twists or rolls. Mini twists are great as well. I usually keep them in for a month but with French braids I can take them out when I get bored, so there’s less commitment. Protective styles also give you a break from styling and manipulating your hair. This comes in handy when you are pressed for time.