Antwanette writes:

Hi Nikki!

First, let me say that I absolutely love your blog! Since stumbling upon it last year, it has become both an obsession (I visit the site several times daily – yikes!) and an amazing resource. Thanks for all that you do! Now, on to my burning question…

When I first went natural, I dreamed of the day my closely cropped head would overflow with a huge mass of springy coils. Deep down, I hoped what sprouted from my head would mirror that of Tracee Ellis Ross (aka Joan from “Girlfriends), but I digress. Anyway, I eventually got my wish… the growth, that is, and, three years later, am proud to have APL hair and all of the versatility it brings.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the happiness ends. I’m NOT at all excited about the other drama that seems to have come as a “package deal” with the increased length – lots of tangles, including tons of single strand knots, increased shedding and just enough breakage in the past couple of months to become concerned. A part of me wonders if the breakage/shedding is similar to the same issue I had with relaxed hair – it would grow to a certain length and, like clockwork, begin to break off.
Add to my list grueling, hours long wash/condition/styling sessions every two weeks – probably the worst part! I spend at least an hour in the shower just washing my hair to the point that I become nauseated by all of the steam and can barely complete the task! I use some of the popular techniques like washing my hair in sections and pre-pooing to try to make things easier but to no avail. This is part of the reason I switched to washing every two weeks, yet I still find myself dreading wash day as if it’s a trip to the dentist.
By no means am I tempted to go back to the relaxer. But, admittedly, I have been tempted to whack off several inches of hair in the hopes of solving my problems. I don’t know what to do! So, my questions are:

Have you experienced similar “growing pains”?

If so, how did you cope?

How do you combat breakage, shedding and single strand knots?

What trusted techniques do you use to wash your hair?

I look forward to getting some much-needed advice/feedback. I need help – stat!