The natural hair journey is certainly one of learning! Over the past 3 or 4 years since I stopped wearing my hair straightened by heat ALL the time, I have had to learn how to manage, maintain and style my curly mane.
As I said in my first post about natural hair, I have made many mistakes along the way! I hope this post will be useful especially for other thinned haired ladies like myself, in things you MAY want to avoid. Of course no to heads of hair are the same so do play around a bit to see what works for you. First I’ll detail the evolution of the techniques/processes I’ve used on my hair, and in the next post I’ll talk more specifically about the products.
In the beginning… I would just wash my hair without putting it into sections first. I would try and just keep my head either facing down of leaning right back so that all my hair fell the same direction. That was my only precaution against tangles. Of course this led to extreme knotting and breakage. Then I stumbled across YouTube, and in particular the naptural85 channel, where Whitney taught me about dividing my hair into chunky twist sections before washing. This was a MASSIVE help in reducing tangling.
Then… I added a few other things in such as a hot oil treatment before washing, and then after washing, a deep conditioner followed by twisting my hair in readiness for the twist out hairstyle to be worn the next day. Basically the whole routine would take me the whole day! I could not live that way, and I was beginning to hate my natural hair for taking up so much of my time. So I started to wash my hair in large sections and where possible, cut down on deep conditioning time.
Now… I clarify and wash my hair whilst it is in my new favourite styling option; mini twists! I also condition my hair whilst still in mini-twists, wash out the conditioner and then when the hair is still wet, redo each twist one at a time, adding a little leave-in conditioner and half a drop of oil to each mini section. But more on that below.
In the beginning… this did not even feature in my vocabulary! It brings a picture to mind of when your head phones get into a knot and you have to carefully unwind them, and tease the straps apart to remove the tangle. What I would do with my hair, was far from that! Initially I would simply rake a comb through my hair, in fact, it was the afro pik attachment to a hair dryer that I would use while blowing it out and getting it ready for the straighteners (flat iron for you American ladies). I would pick out the knots that had been ripped from my hair from between the prongs of the comb, and then stare helplessly at my now even thinner hair, in the mirror.
Then… I started to use my fingers more and more to try and detangle knots in my hair and afterwards use a comb followed by a Denman brush when I became too frustrated/tired/lazy to continue finger detangling. I would only do this when my hair was wet though. And I quickly learned the importance of using a conditioner “with SLIP”. However tiredness and laziness would often get the better of me and I would find myself reaching for the Denman far too quickly.
Now... I do about 90% finger detangling. Because I’m trying out doing mini twists repeatedly, I found that by using the method described above after washing, I can easily finger detangle each section before I twist it to remove any shed hair. Another benefit is hardly any knots form, except the ones formed by shed hair becoming tangled.
In the beginning… as I mentioned earlier, I was straightening/flat ironing my hair all the time. I wasn’t even using a heat protectant! It was only when my hair became excessively thin that I thought that something had to give.
Then… that’s when I decided to wear my hair curly. It was wonderfully liberating, and I quickly became addicted to the likes of Naptural85 and the Care For Your Hair blog to educate me on how to maintain and style my hair in its curly state. I quickly noticed the difference in texture with the hair near my roots, and the ends of my hair. I now know that this is what’s called heat damage. The roots were curly, but the ends stayed straight and limp. The more I experimented with styles the more I realised I did not like the limp ends. So I took the plunge and chopped them all off. This was about 4 years ago. That would make me 4 years heat free right? Wrong! Soon after, I itched to see how long my hair had gotten, and succumbed to the heat again. This time I told myself it would be different, as I had learned to use a good heat protectant. But sadly I ended up with severe heat damage again, which I am still in the process of growing out (I last used heat on my hair in February 2013).
Now... I am heat free. I’m not saying all thinned haired ladies should be heat free, but that’s kind of what I’m saying. Or at least turn the temperature down! Don’t you use less heat when ironing delicate fabric? Your hair is even more delicate! So what do I do? I’ve had twist outs, braid outs, wash and gos (which I don’t do anymore because they give me crazy single strands knots), and I am now settled with my mini twists. As you may be able to tell, I can’t get enough of my mini-twists. The style is so versatile, it allows me to exercise and sweat buckets without changing much in appearance, it takes about two minutes to style in the morning, and two minutes to put into 4 chunky braids for night time (which is great for keeping the twists stretched). The only downside is installing the mini-twists takes TIME. Go back and read what I have to do at the end of my wash routine – I have to literally set aside a day to this. But when I used to install my own box braids, it would take me two days, and cost me far more breakage (and around £5.00 for the Expressions). But with mini twists, the time is worth it!
This is what my heat damage looks like. Sad
In the beginning… I never had a problem with this as I think I am addicted to cutting my hair. Perhaps the reality is that I have made so many hair mistakes, that I always had a reason to cut my hair and start again.
Then… I thought I would regulate how often I “trim” (if cutting off two inches a time falls under that category) my hair, and decided to do it only 4 times a year.
Now… I constantly trim my hair because I am trying to get rid of all the heat damage. Once that is done, I suspect I will trim as and when I need to, which in my opinion, is the best way to do it.
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