by Danielle of http://www.okdani.com/
The general consensus from women seems to be that ladies with long hair have some secrets they’re holding on to. There must be some mystical combination of tools, products or techniques they use in order to get hair that grows past your shoulder blades. As of today my hair is just slightly past my waist and I’m still growing.
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When speaking to women, “what’s your secret?” is a popular question. My usual response is “I take good care of my hair.” I realize now that “taking good care of” something means different things to every individual. What I consider routine in my hair care practices, may be foreign or unintuitive to others.
Coming to that realization compelled me to share some of the key features in my healthy hair growth journey.
With that said, here are my 3 “secrets”: Moisturize, Protect, and Low Manipulation
Moisturize and “seal”African American hair textures are notoriously dry. My hair is no exception, so keeping my hair well moisturized helps it remain pliable and elastic. Moisturized hair is less prone to breaking and snapping. It behaves better and is easier to style.
Moisturizing my hair comes in different levels.
The first level is during washes. I will wash my hair with either conditioner, or a moisturizing shampoo. I will then deep condition with a moisturizing conditioner. After rinsing out the conditioner, I will apply a moisturizer to every strand in small sections ensuring that each strand gets moisturized. Lastly I follow with coconut oil to “seal” in the moisturizer I applied before I style my hair.
On a daily or every-other-day basis (depending on what your hair needs) I will moisturize to ensure my hair never gets dried out or crunchy/crispy. I deep condition weekly, and at times every other week. But I’ve noticed my hair responds best when deep conditioned every week.
You will learn how often your hair needs moisture by noticing how it feels and seeing how it responds to your touch
Protect Your Ends
Your “youngest” hair is growing directly at your scalp. This is your “new growth” as it’s often referred to. Which means the hair at the ends of each strand is the “oldest.” The ends of your hair “make or break” your length. This bit of hair is the most delicate because it has been through so much. It has received the bulk of the damage simply by hanging around for as long as it has!
To protect your ends you must first ensure that you have no split ends. If you do, trim your ends to just above the splits. Then you must keep the ends very well moisturized. Try to alternate wearing your hair out and loose with wearing it in updos that “hide” the ends of your hair, keeping them protected from the elements, and from brushing against your collar, shoulders or back. If your hair is too short for an updo, keeping them moisturized is enough.
At night, protect your ends by wearing a satin scarf or bonnet and sleeping on a satin pillowcase. This will protect your ends (and the entire length of your hair) from snagging/pulling/snapping on harsher fabrics.
Do you twirl your hair around your fingers? Stop!
Do you let the ends of your hair brush against your collar or clothing every single day? Stop!
Do you comb and brush and flatiron and curl your hair daily? Stop!
Do you get the picture? Good!
Low manipulation is key for retaining growth and getting long healthy hair. If you normally style your hair, and use heating tools daily, you will notice and incredible difference in your hair by cutting back. Instead, opt for styles that will last you a week, such as twists or twist-outs, braidouts, buns, or flatirons/rollersets that don’t need heat touch ups each day. Try to comb and brush your hair only on wash days if you can. Use your hands to smooth areas and keep your hands out of your hair during the day.
So there you have it! The “Secret’s” Out!
Try these three techniques and you will notice your hair retaining length like never before.
Raw Shea butter is hands down the most effective sealer I've ever used. Ever, in all of natural-dom. I relied on it solely for years, drifted away (to other less effective sealants, and at times, *grasps pearls* no sealant at all), and I'm back, baby! Raw shea butter. That's all you need. Thank me later :)
p.s. I usually pick some up from the local beauty supply when I'm in a town with Black folk, but when I'm in Happy Valley, I order from Butters-n-Bars.