by Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother
If you’ve followed CurlyNikki and my blog, Good Enough Mother, you probably know my hair story. But if you’re one of our new followers – and we’re so pleased to have you on board – you may not know my tale.
In a nutshell after a bout of asthmatic bronchitis in 2008 my chemically treated hair fell out and I made a decision to go completely natural. When I chopped off what was left of my sick, dry, relaxed hair over two years ago, I set out to discover as much as I could about my own natural hair. This was easier said than done because I didn’t even KNOW my own hair, having spent the last 3 decades beating the curl out of it with chemicals. And what the chemicals didn’t do the heat did! I was left with hair that was perpetually dry, terminally thin ends and many questions as what had happened and how I could make it better.
So I started chatting up everyone; friends, relatives, women in stores and airports, anyone who was natural, wherever I found them. I collected a wealth of information by perusing YouTube and stalking women’s Fotki pages. I joined no fewer than three hair care websites, where I stalked even more women’s photos.
Now, over two years later, I’m the one being asked the same questions I was asking. Not that I am an expert, far from it, but here’s my Top 5 lessons I learned that I hope can help you too. So here goes.
*FIND A REGIMEN THAT WORKS FOR YOU! This is the most important one. You may look at people pages/progress and think, “I’m going to do just what she did.” But just because it worked for her, does not mean it will for you. Get to know your own hair’s quirks and needs and then go with it.
*HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: I know when I first cut my hair, I thought about hair 24/7 because I wanted it to grow. Hair, ON AVERAGE, grows about ¼ to ½ and inch per month. It will grow more for some, less for others. Understand that; accept that and already this journey becomes much more fun and far less disappointing.
*LIMIT DIRECT HEAT/USE PROTECTIVE STYLING: I feel like these are the two things that my hair directly benefitted from the most. I stayed away from heat mainly because I did not want to risk permanent heat damage and not have my tresses curl the way nature intended. Also, it was all about length retention and thin dry ends don’t stay attached to the rest of the hair shaft for very long. Protective styling also kept my hair from being damaged by the elements. I usually wear it tied up or braided, unless I am going somewhere.
*USE A NON-SULFATE SHAMPOO OR NONE AT ALL! I know that sounds crazy but I haven’t used shampoo on my hair in over a year. Once I stopped, it’s almost as if my curls thanked me by instantly behaving better! See, sulfate, a common ingredient in shampoo is also the number two ingredient in dish soap. Its primary purpose is to remove oil. Curly hair needs those natural oils so to strip your hair (scalp and shaft) of them leaves it very dry. Remember, dry hair is brittle; brittle hair breaks. So I only “co-wash”; in other words, I use conditioner as I would shampoo as it has enough cleansing properties to get hair clean without stripping it of those oils.
*NO SINGLE GROWTH AID WORKED AS MUCH AS JUST GOOD HAIR CARE! This what I really want to stress. I see women using Monistat, MSM, Mega-Tek, Wild Gro all these things to “help grow hair”. I used them all too. Guess what? Remember the aforementioned ¼ to ½ inch? Even with all of these things, my hair didn’t deviate much from that. What I did notice is that my hair seemed to grow more in some months than others. Right after I BC’d it seemed my hair stayed around the same length for a couple of months. Then all of a sudden, it took off. Now, that was not because I was taking anything (other than a hair vitamin and I continue that today). I was just treating my hair like gold and it responded. Once it became accustomed to that new level of care, it sort of took off.
But what do you say? What hair lessons have you learned over the years? Start sharing everyone…