How to retain moisture and length in natural hair by Saran P King
- Clean hair and scalp: The first step to retaining moisture and ultimately retaining length, [if that is your goal], is to work with a clean canvas. The scalp and length of the strands must be kept clean in order to give it a better chance of absorbing the well needed moisture to keep your hair soft and manageable. Weather you follow the no shampoo method, also known as the girl method or you have a tweeny weeny afro (twa), at the in between stage or have waist long hair, hair must be kept clean. You may have to spend a little time figuring out what works for your hair depending on the porosity, density, length and texture by researching and experimenting. Depending on your preference and life style you may wash your hair as often as every day, every week or once a month. It is important to find out what works for you and stick to that method. It is important to note that your hair regimen may change other time depending on the length and lifestyle.
- Styling choice: There have been many debates whether one should adapt protective styles or not to retain length. Once again it is a matter of choice and goal set. For me, my hair prefers to be in protective styles such as buns and twists because it is prone to drying, so I rarely have my hair loose. But for others, they are able to wear their hair loose and still retain length. One thing is certain is that too much stress must not be placed on the strands and especially the edges which are easiest to break. Choose your styles based on your preference and daily activities.
- Tracking length: Note that although the average growth of hair is ½ inch per month, that does not mean that you will retain that amount. It is important to remember that everybody has different growth rates and you have to find out how fast your hair grows and how much of that you retain. If you are retaining much less than your hair is growing then it may seem like your hair is not growing. If that is the case, you should investigate the reasons why and put steps in place to correct or change as needed. It is also important not to compare your hair growth with others, if you are doing all that you can to preserve your strands, length will come, so don’t obsess over it [because it is pretty over rated ;-)]
- Health: Physical and mental health are often over looked factors in hair growth. Hair and nails are the last places on the body to receive nutrients. So it is essential that you are eating well and exercising both your body and your mind. Stress plays a big part in retaining length, whether it is positive or negative stress. You should know your stress level and find ways to manage it effectively if it is negatively affecting your health.
- Handle with care: Natural hair, especially naturally curly-kinky hair, is very fragile with all the twists and bends in every strand. You could be doing all of the about but if you are rough with your hair, you will be sabotaging all the hard work that you put in over the months. It is advised that if you are having a bad day or not in the mood to do your hair, just leave it alone, gel it down or wear a scarf or hat. You may cause more harm than good by venting on your strands. Leave your hair until you are better able to handle your hair with more gentle hands.
- Patience Patience Patience: Hair does not grow over night, so it is imperative that you exercise just a little patience. Sometimes we get caught up with seeing growth or getting to a certain length to achieve a hair style that we have been wishing to try, that we don’t enjoy the length we have at the time. Hair grows, it breaks or we cut it, then it growth again. Enjoy the stage that you are at until you get to the next stage then enjoy that stage, so in the end you are enjoying every moment without missing a beat. You may enjoy a particular length and may choose to keep it at that length and that is also fine.
- To trim or not to trim, that is the question!: There have been many discussions on trimming the ends of your hair or not. The reality is that, because natural hair is natural curly, fragile and prone to dryness, then wear and tear will come, especially the longer it gets. The ends of the hair, the oldest and weakest part of our hair, will, over time develop split ends and single strand knots, although split ends and knots can occur along any part of the strand, it is most commonly seen at the ends. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot repair split ends or unravel single strand knots. The only way to get rid of them, is to get rid of them, by cut them with a well sharpened barber scissors before they travel the length of the strand. The frequency of trimming or dusting the ends is entirely up to you and the state of your hair. Note though that if you are trimming your hair faster than it is growing, you will not retain length.
- Water is your friend: Apart from needing water to clean your hair, water is the only product that truly moisturizes your strands. All products that are not water based are just sealant and merely seals in the water that adds moisture to the hair. If your hair is not sufficiently moisturized, the hair can feel dry and brittle and look limp. On the other hand, too much water in the strands can cause the strands to become swollen, making the hair heavy also giving it a limp feeling. In addition, the hair can have a “mushy” or wet feeling. Again, when you learn your hair, you will know the quantity or water to apply to the hair and the frequency in which it should be applied. So learn your hair and find that middle ground. Once you know that amount of water your hair needs, learn what are the best products to seal in that moisture. There are some who follow the LOC method, which stands for Liquid, Oil, Cream. This method may not work for everyone so may need to experiment a bit to see what works best for your hair.
- Loving what you got: The unique thing about naturally kinky, curly, coily hair, is that no too heads are exactly alike. They may look and feel similar and may even require the same products but every head of hair is different. The one thing I like to tell other is that you should never compare your hair to another person’s hair. It is a plus when you learn to love your hair just the way it is and if you want a change, you can add colour, cut it and style it to suit your preference. But fall in love, fall head over heels even with your tresses, they are yours and they were perfectly made just for you. When you can appreciate what you were given you can enjoy your hair even more.
- Is it just hair: There have been many a discussion on the topic, so what is the answer!, is it JUST hair? It is hair, yes that is correct but for me it is a little more than hair. For me, my hair tells many stories about my heritage and ancestors, where I came from and where I am today. It reminds me that I did not create myself and there is one most powerful, all knowing who created me and I was created imperfectly perfect in his image. It makes me feel myself and alive when I am able to wear my natural hair. I also feel fortunate to even have hair, a privilege that many to not possess, so I wear my hair for them. I am more confident with my hair, the hair that I was born with and not ashamed to wear. I wear my hair for the little girls who may feel pressured to adding chemicals to their sensitive scalps because either society or their peers tell them that they are not pretty or professional enough with their hair. So more me, it is much more than hair. So wear your hair proud because its yours.