10 Things I've Learnt About My Natural Hair
By Alecia James Thursday, December 5, 2013
I did this Afro puff when my twist-out when awry.
Sometimes I think that my natural hair is playing games with me. There are days when my hair is just oozing with "flyness," which makes me gleefully dance and wish for continuous success with my styling efforts. The reality is, not all days are like this. As I shared in "My Hair Story," there are nights when I spend hours prepping my hair with hopes of achieving the best twist out, only to wake up the next morning, enthusiastically untwisting, but sadly achieving a twist-out that is less than stellar, to my dismay. This has forced me to seek other styling options like an Afro puff. But what was the cause of this? What was I doing wrong? I searched high and low for an answer. And guess what? I think I've found it. Below I will share some hair discoveries that I've made which are collectively helping me to serve a "mean" hair game.
10. My hair hates saturation. The addition of too much product like gels, smoothies, puddings and the like, intended to set and enhance your curls do not work well for my curls at all. Take for instance, Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie. This is a go-to curl definition product for many naturals. When I use it to define my twists, it makes my hair extremely soft and silky (which is a plus), but five minutes after untwisting, my hair starts to "fluff" and loses its curl pattern altogether. One adjustment I've made is to reduce the amount of product I use, adding it mostly to the tips.
The picture below shows exactly what I mean by this point. This picture was taken several months ago when the color was still vibrant. As you can tell from the photo, my hair is soft and moisturized. If you look at the back, some strands still have a curl pattern but they are gradually swelling. By the end of the day, my hair looks like an untamed fro.
9. My hair loves to be covered and protected from the elements. My favorite days are days when I don't have to work, so I pull my hair back most times, already twisted, and accessorize with my favorite scarf by doing a head wrap. And you know what's great about this? When I get home after running errands, my hair is usually in the same state as I left home, with every strand safe and intact.
8. My hair is adversely affected by improper braiding techniques. For my recent trip to Las Vegas, I decided to install Senegalese twists to relieve me from daily styling which is a necessity when on vacay. I really wanted Havana twists, but of course, the braiders who I visited had no idea what they were, and I didn't get the time to seek a natural hair stylist. I ended up going to some African hair braiders who pulled my hair very tightly even after I cautioned them. My hair is in a state of recovery right now. The picture below was taken a few weeks after braiding, and you can see visible damage in the front, just to get an idea of how tight the braids were.
7. My hair loves natural, healthy food. After the damage described in number 8 above, I whipped up a concoction of avocado-banana hair mask to aid in the repair and recovery process. In addition, I had to trim the damaged ends. So far, this mix has worked wonders by strengthening and restoring life to my damaged tresses.
6. Bantu-knots are her thing. This is one styling/prepping technique that I can swear by, and if done right, can effortlessly give you a fly and sexy do. Because of the nature of this styling method, the end result is a bunch of spirals which you can manipulate until you get your desired look, which usually adds some curl definition to the final product.
5. My hair loves natural oils. What would I do without my magic potion of coconut oil? This joint adds so much shine and helps to counteract the saturation problem described in number 10. In the same league with this magic bullet, is
Organics' Extra Virgin Olive Oil Smoother & Polisher Serum. Most nights, I use these powerhouses when I'm twisting, and the next day I wake up with a world of curls. My Jamaica Black Castor oil is still in the running for its vigor in helping to regrow my edges.
4. My hair responds well to a weekly wash. Every week my hair has a way of letting me know that it's time to be cleansed. It's resistance to specific styles, and ends that start to tangle, are the biggest indicators for me. If I selfishly extend this waiting period into the next week, one of my tricks is to secure my hair into a ponytail, then with the help of Marley Braid Hair, I'll create a mo-hawk or a bun and rock it until my next wash.
3. This here hair is not the "wash and go" type. You should see what my hair looks like when it's washed! Seriously. I'll post a pic for you next time. For my 4C type hair, with extremely fine and fragile strands, the amount of shrinkage I experience is unbelievable. My hair shrinks to about 1 or 2 inches in length, and if left to dry that way, will result in nothing more than a tangled and knotted mess. Unlike others who can condition, add some gel, spritz with water, and just shake and go, I steer clear, as that can be a recipe for disaster for my hair type. Immediately after washing, I have to section then style & prep (which I'll explore in another post) if I want to redeem my strands to their pre-wash state.
2. My hair loves simplicity. It literally says "thanks" for the less stress, tension and pressure that I apply to it. A happy hair equals a happy me. In the pic below, all I did was to section the hair with my fingers, I didn't even use a comb! I pinned the front with three hair pins, and there you have it, a simple yet elegant do.
1. My hair is NOT like your hair. This awareness has pretty much been the crux of my Natural Hair Journey. It took me a while to process and accept this epiphany, and I'm so glad I did! After watching Natural Chica perfect her braid-out time after time on YouTube, I dreamt of having those long, healthy, bodacious curls. Naptural 85 revved up my heartbeat every time I saw her gorgeous beach waves, adding her coveted locks to my "hairly" desires. And the flowing, shiny and fabulous locks of Curly Nikki, to name a few. Enough said. But my hair would never look like theirs because I have a different texture, length and volume. This consciousness has been a decisive factor in instilling the awareness, to help me love, understand, and accept my tresses the way they are. Yes I certainly endorse being inspired by other fabulous naturals, but it is important to not to neglect to embrace what you have and let it work for you.
What have you discovered about your hair? How has it shaped your hair journey?
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