August 27, 2013

Natural Hair Routines- What to Do When You Don’t Have the Time

By Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals 

It’s been a challenge lately to make time for myself to take care of my hair. Maybe you can relate. I have two young children, I work full-time and my weekends are jam packed with activities and events. Somewhere in there I need to wash, deep condition, style my hair, wait for it to dry properly in order for me to go about my business. While I typically have a routine in place it’s been completely disrupted recently due to weekend events.

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I used to be so concerned with ensuring I incorporate all of my haircare steps into my regime: pre-pooing, shampoo, deep conditioning, styling (which usually is a twist-out so you know this style is taking time to dry!) that my process would typically take 2 ½ days and here’s why. I would wash on a Friday. My deep conditioning would be the same night and I would leave the conditioner on overnight. Because really – who’s twisting their hair on a Friday night to go to bed with your hair damp? Definitely not me. So I would wash the conditioner out of my hair on Saturday, twist my hair and leave it to dry ALL day. Then my hair would be ready to untwist on Sunday. And while I love the look that I’m able to achieve from twist outs and love the way my hair feels from deep conditioning treatments, the reality is that this is COMPLETE MADNESS! Who really has time for this??? So over the past few weeks I’ve really had to really exhale and evaluate how I’m taking care of my hair.

Does your hair run your life? Maybe I should phrase it differently. Do you find yourself planning your life around your hair care? Answer honestly, because I’ve found myself doing that and getting stressed out if I wasn’t able to fit my lengthy washing and conditioning process into my schedule. Why? Because my hair had to look at certain way and in order to get it to look “this way” it took time. In an effort to not treat my natural hair the way I did when it was processed, I’ve been putting time into the cleansing and conditioning process, ensuring that I didn’t put tension on my hairline in order to prevent breakage, trying to minimize product build up by cleansing weekly, blah, blah, blah, etc. etc etc.! And while the care of natural hair does require work, my hair was running my life. I decided that this insanity had to stop.

So here is what I’ve learned.

1. It’s okay.
Don’t believe the hype. It’s extremely important to care for your hair but 2-3 days/week cleansing and conditioning sessions are a tad bit excessive! Yeah, I know, but doing it this way worked for my schedule in the past. Not so much anymore. So I realized that if I’m not able to wash my hair one week, it’s okay. If I can’t deep condition, it’s not the end of the world. My hair will keep growing, I’ll retain length and I’ll reach my goals.

2. Yes I CAN pull my hair back!
My hair is currently at the length where I can pull most of it back into a low ponytail. I’ve avoided this like the plague before for fear of the disappearing hairline but I’ve finally let go of that fear and have given myself permission to wear this hairstyle for a short period of time until my next wash day. I’ll usually twist the front of my hair to achieve a long twisted bang and this style has been really working for me.

3. If you are not able to deep condition then a regular conditioner WILL do.
If you are short on time and not able to commit to the lengthy pre-shampoo and deep conditioning sessions, it’s okay! Quickly (but gently) shampoo your hair and use a regular conditioner that doesn’t need to stay on for 3 days. Or if you choose, co-wash your hair and then go about your business. If you miss one or two longer wash session it’s not going to adversely affect your hair growth efforts.

4. Braids, twists and cornrows are ALWAYS options.
I’ve been meaning to get my hair braided for the longest time as a protective winter style and the irony is that I haven’t found the time to actually sit and get it done! However I know I won’t need to really worry about styling for at least a few weeks. Consider these styles if you are short on time and too busy to really take care of your hair.

5. Find hairstyles that are quick and easy and get out of your comfort zone.
Admittedly, finding different hairstyles to try has been a challenge for me but I’m finally experimenting and loving the results. Puffs, twisted up-dos, ponytails and fro hawks are all possibilities. If you’re having trouble finding styles for your hair then check different websites and Youtube videos for ideas.

And finally, be liberated and free. The whole idea of having natural hair is to be free isn’t it? So why does it sometimes feel like taking care of natural hair is yet another bondage? My life has changed a lot since I originally became natural. I’ve added another member to our family, I’ve become busier with respect to my career and business and as a result, I don’t have the time I used to have. While I could spend hours on my hair previously, this isn’t the case anymore. My hair care routine and process needs to reflect this and I can still have healthy, beautiful long hair without spending a lot of time on it.

What about you? How is your hair care routine affected by time constraints?

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