Ever wore your bun so long that your hair started matting up in the center? Can you remember the last time you got a trim? Are you still wearing the same protective style you got installed just in time for Thanksgiving? These are all textbook examples of bad hair decisions. I myself have engaged in all of these at one point in time, and realized just how much I hindered the health and length of my hair by doing so. If you want to maintain healthy hair and reach your hair length goals, keep these bad hair decisions at a minimum: or better yet, don’t do them at all!
1. Putting Off Wash Day.
How long you can go without washing your hair depends on your texture, your hairstyle, and your lifestyle. The main reasons to wash and condition your hair are to eliminate dirt and product buildup, restore moisture, detangle, and strengthen your hair. When you put off wash day, your hair can become much harder to detangle, and you may end up losing more hair than usual. Also, you increase the chances of getting knots that can only be cut out. Don’t put off your wash day for too long because your hair needs to be restored.
2. Neglecting Your Trims.
You may think that by not cutting your hair, you are preserving length but not all length is good. Trust me: I was once one of those naturals who had broken, see-through ends and there’s nothing cute or healthy about it. Now, I trim my hair every three months, in between protective styles. Trims aren’t meant to be full blown haircuts but when you neglect to trim your hair, that is what you’ll end up having to do. The standard amount to cut for a trim is 1/8th of an inch. This amount is increased by the amount of damage that the hair has suffered. Naturally, the less damage you do to your hair, the less you’ll have to trim, but it’s important to assess the state of your ends in order to know how much and when to trim.
3. Wearing a Protective Style Too Long.
It’s really easy to turn a protective style that was meant to be good for your hair into a defective style that does far more harm than good. Any style that keeps your ends protected by tucking them away somehow is considered a “protective style.” This includes box braids, crochet braids, Senegalese twists, Havana twists, kinky twists, buns, weaves, and other extensions. It isn’t recommended to keep a protective style in for more than 6-8 weeks, but many of us have gone much longer. Because the hair hasn’t been properly washed and detangled in so long, this can ultimately cause a tremendous amount of breakage, especially because the hair is in a weakened state. It’s important to moisturize continually while wearing a protective style, to take it out at the right time, and to properly remove them.
Detangling is a process that should be done with patience and care. Our curls naturally wrap themselves around each other, so separating them takes time. You do not want to rush your detangling session because you’ll end up ripping out your hair strands. Aim to plan for a day when you know you will have the free time to spend detangling. It may take up to an hour (or longer), but in the end, you won’t have a huge wad of hair that came out.
5. Using the Wrong Tools.
It could be your Denman, a styling comb that is too small, or a bad hairbrush: just because it’s on the market doesn’t mean it’s right for your hair. Choose tools that don’t snap or snag on your strands, and that make detangling more effective, not harder. Don’t use any hair tools that are too tight, like certain ponytail holders or those stretchy headbands we love to wrap around for a sleek puff. Never sacrifice the health of your hair for style or convenience.