by Rene Syler of GoodEnoughMother
I posted something on my Facebook page the other day, completely unrelated to this, and someone asked me when I was going to do another hair update. Of course as you know, I’ve written about it before but since I’ve reached another milestone, I figured it was time.
Four years ago, I put down the chemicals for good, after my hair started falling out after a serious illness. I decided that was it and I chopped it all off. What began was a journey of self-discovery, and metamorphosis that continues to this day. Here are 8 tips and tricks I learned along the way.
1. Use Natural Oils
I’m a huge believer in natural oils and have seen the benefits on my own locks. When I first BC’d (Big Chopped-cut off the remainder of my relaxer), my hair was terribly dry. I read about a technique called “baggying” where you use natural oils on the scalp them cover hair with a plastic bag for a few hours or overnight. That made a HUGE difference in my hair, alleviating the initial dryness. That’s also when I started using Jamaican Black Castor Oil on my scalp, something I still do to this day (you do get used to the smell). Coconut and olive oils are also regulars in my repertoire.
2. No shampoo!
No, nope, NEVER on this moptop! A lot of shampoos contain sulfate and sulfate is a curl killer! So I only use conditioner, which actually has enough cleansing properties to get the hair clean without stripping it of its natural oils. My hair never smells and once I said goodbye to the suds, my curls immediately started behaving better.
3. Clarify With Apple Cider Vinegar!
Now, here’s the thing; if you’re going to go the “no-shampoo” route, you’ll need something to get rid of the build-up that comes with the product you’ve been using. The problem is finding something that will get rid of the product without stripping the hair (clarifying shampoos tend to do if they contain sulfates). Instead, I use 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to 2 cups of warm water. I just run it through my hair while in the shower and do NOT rinse out. I do this about every other month and it does a great job of removing product build-up.
I’m not as good at this as my daughter is, in part because I love having my mane blowing in the breeze. But Casey is a teenager and less prep time means more sleep so she tends to pull hers back in a high bun. The more you keep your hair (specifically the ends) wrapped up and out of harm’s way, the more growth you will see.
5. No Direct Heat!
ACK! I hear from women all the time who flat iron their hair every, single day, then wonder why it’s not growing. Direct heat, in the form of directional blow drying, hot irons and so forth, is bad, bad, BAD! Don’t do it! When I do straighten my hair (which is about once a year) I use a roller set and a heat protectant and a very light flat iron and even then I worry my curls won’t be damaged.
6. Use Proper Product!
Attention please! You do not have to spend a ton of money to find the proper product; in fact, I get most of mine from either the grocery store (natural oils, remember?) or my local drug store. But I do splurge at times, spending a bit more on Hair Rules and Devachan for curl definition. My new favorite? Shea Radiance Maximum Defining Curl Cream for my 3C hair.
7. Help Yourself!
Make sure you are exercising regularly (sweat is good!), drinking lots of water and taking a hair vitamin. I like ApHogee hair vitamins from Sally’s Beauty Supply.
8. Practice Patience
Do yourself a favor, don’t waste your money (or time) on products/routines promising 3 inches of hair growth in 30 days. That’s nothing but a sales pitch and a good one, if you fall for it. Hair grows about 1/2 an inch each month. Do the math; that’s 6 inches a year. Some people might experience more growth, some less but that’s about the average. The decidedly unsexy part is that it’s not just about hair growth but length retention, so the more you protect those ends and keep them from splitting (and having to be cut off), the more length you will see.
And that’s about it. I’ll have another update in March when I celebrate four years of being totally natural.. totally me! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them here and I’ll answer them as soon as I can!