I n 2014, I looked at my self in the mirror and said, "Naderge, YOU will have longer hair than Trick Daddy!" And the rest was history...
My Hair Type: Combination- (a natural array of 4 type Hair). Perimeters: 4A Crown: 4C Everywhere else: 4B. Porosity: Low to Normal.
Establish YOUR "What" and "Why"?
I am a firm believer that if you want to accomplish any goal you must know your "WHAT?" and your "WHY?". These two questions establish purpose and make your goals more meaningful. My "why and what" was quite simple, I went natural because I was dead broke in college, and I wanted to see how long my hair could grow without putting anything in it. I did not have the money to pay the Rattler's Edge to have me layed and slayed. As I entered the summer before my senior year in college I realized that I was truly on my own. I could not afford to call my mom for food and money for a perm especially not every 6 weeks. June 1, 2014 was my first day as a fully natural woman. Honestly, it was not a pretty sight, I was like "dang Naderge, you got a big head". Plus, I had to face the harsh reality that I looked like the spitting image of my father. I knew this before but now I had no hair to compromise the truth I was trying to avoid. It was a journey of self-love and self confidence. I thought it was impossible to grow beautiful hair from such "ugly conditions". But just like the rose that grew from concrete, my hair grew.
Before we start...
Tip- "A1 from Day 1". Be your own hair goals. Take pictures every step of the way. When you see any type of growth, scream, YAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Heart eye emoji, heart eye emoji! Just like you would do if your favorite hair crush posted a new picture. In this lifetime you better learn to be your greatest cheerleader. It is the first rule of self love!
F I F T E E N ✨
Almost 3 years later, I have 15 tips that you might have already heard from the countless of YouTube videos you've watched previous to this post. Yes, I'm guilty of watching a million videos but none of them worked until I actually stopped watching them. I had to take their advice into consideration and started doing.
1) Wash your hair on a weekly to biweekly basis. Okay let's think about our Caucasian counterparts who wash their hair daily or sometimes every other day. They can cut their hair today and by next week they have already grown two inches. The reason for their fast growth is because they are constantly moisturizing their hair with God's gift, WATER! As people of color, we cannot wash daily because we would end up with dry hair and dry scalp. Particularly, because we have curls, kinks and coils which makes it harder for our natural sebum to travel from roots to ends as compared to straighter hair. And of course, because we might have been raised with perms and weaves , so we are so use to the "I CAN'T GET MY HAIR WET!" syndrome. TIP ONE: trying washing your hair more often. Shampoos used when washing: Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Clarifying Shampoo (any drugstore) and Giovanni's Deeper Moisture Shampoo (Marshall's and TJ Maxx)
2) Every time you wash, deep condition! I normally deep condition for one hour maybe two on a lazy day, using a Walmart shopping bag! Lol. Deep conditioning, is a great way to deeply penetrate the hair shaft. However, I stopped deep conditioning overnight. I realized that my hair was more susceptible to breakage when I did that. Over exposure of water would weaken my hair strands and cause more harm than good. TIP TWO: Add a deep conditioner. Deep conditioners used: Shea Moisture Manuka Honey and Mafura Oil Masque(Shea Moisture has so many options, choose one that you like, I picked this one for the thicker consistency, the 10 in 1 Renewal is a good one too).
3) Pre-Poo! Yes Pre-Poo! I know, why would I intentionally add an extra step to this already long routine. However, this made a world of a difference in my detangling. I experienced less breakage. Our hair is going to shed like every other human, but what we don't want is unnecessary shedding and breakage. Pre-Pooing not only makes detangling our hair a breeze but it also prepares our hair for shampooing. Even when you are using a sulfate free shampoo, it still causes our hair to be a little drier. For example, on my washing machine it had an option of pre-wash. I use to think, that's kind of stupid and a waste of water. However I noticed that every time I didn't choose the pre-wash option, I was deemed to find a stain or two in my clothes. So just like pre-washing, pre-pooing is a precautionary step. It removes the fustration when your hair is unruly after the wash. Tip Three: Always Pre-Poo. Pre-poo used: homemade will be in next post!
4) Clean Parts and Clean Sections. Wash your hair in quadrants. I usually make my mom part my hair in four big twist on each side. Yes, my mom does it so I know I'm working with clean lines. Have you ever been washing your hair and you realize your tugging on some hair from a different section. Well maybe you haven't but I have. What would end up happening is that I would rip out those hair strands that didn't even belong there in the first place. Plus it's easier to work on one section at a time instead of a head full of wet curly hair just doing whatever it wants. Tip Four: Work in sections.
5) Minimize on the combs! I only use combs to part and ONLY after I have finger detangled. See, God, was very intentional when he made these fingers of ours, they are great tools. Lol, imagine if we had duck feet as hands. That would be such an inconvenience. Use an all plastic wide tooth comb. Tip Five: Fingers first then Wide Tooth Comb.
6) Clean Scalp means Happy Hair. My hair naturally creates a lot of build up. So I can usually tell when it's time to clean my mane from wash day to wash day. However, because my hair is very densely compacted; I was also suffering from not getting all that gunk out. So by the time I would be ready to style, I would part my hair and be like "dang I missed several spots" and would have to get back into the shower. Make sure you are clarifying your scalp as much as you can. Also, if you have a healthy functioning scalp it does not need your help. It will oil itself. Our scalp naturally produces sebum. So by oiling your scalp you are simply clogging your pores. Which can harm how healthy your hair develops over time. If you do choose to oil use a lighter oil that is non- comedogenic. Tip Six: A Fresh Start Every Time.
7) Let your hair breathe. It's not protective styling if you only see your hair 5 times a year. It's simply called neglect. For example, you scrape your finger, you wear a band aid, however, you never take off the band aid on your scraped finger. It will never properly heal. Even if it does heal, you won't ever know that it's healed. Same concept goes for your hair, if you never uncover your hair from your weaves and wigs it will never truly flourish, and you'll never know if your hair has actually grown. Let's say you keep in some braids for 3 months (since we shed about 100 hairs a day multiplied by 60 days) that's about 6,000 shed hairs all at once plus any extra breakage from not properly hydrating your hair or weaken strands from tight braids. Tip Seven: Freedom in rockin' your Afro.
8) In Contrast: Protect your strands. Although protective styling shouldn't be your only option. It is a great one. We all know that the ends of our hair is the weakest. I wear my hair majority of the time in my natural twist with the ends Bantu-knotted. The reason for the Bantu knots is to keep those ends neatly tucked away. I was struggling for a very long time with single stranded knots. However, nowadays they are becoming less of a problem. Tip Eight: Protect your ends.
9) Keep your hair moisturized! I do the L.O.C.S. Method. Which is Leave-in, oil, cream, sealant. In reality it's the L.O.L.O.C.S method ( because my hair is already wet from washing (liquid)and I also have included an oil rinse (oil) before starting my LOC method). I also re-moisturize mid week. (Will have a separate post.) Tip Nine: Hydration is Key.
10) Your bonnet is your best friend! I literally have 5 bonnets, it's that serious. Three in my room, two just for back up when I can't find one. One in my living room and one in my car. These are all places where I have fallen asleep and I would always regret not having my satin cap with me. From this simple step alone, my hair has stayed moisturized longer, I experience less breakage and less single strand knots. Tip Ten: Satin Bonnet Game should be locked and loaded.
11) Trim those ends! At one point my hair was screaming for help. It was drowning with split ends and single strand knots everywhere. Which turned my detangling from an hour to three full hours. Trim them dead ends, it truly helps with detangling and stops further breakage. Plus my hair had less life. It lacked luster and shine. Either use the "search and destroy" method or the "trim all at once". I typically trim every 6 months or when needed.
Tip Eleven: Trimming is a Necessity.
12) Hey Natural, Go Natural! After my first year of being natural I started using more natural products where I could actually say the names of every ingredient and it could be found in my kitchen cabinet/ local grocery store. I also started making my own natural hair products. Just like what you put in your body, make sure you know what your applying on your hair strands.
Tip Twelve: Be more organic with your product choice.
13) Create a routine and stick to it. If you have decided that 2017 will be the year you grow your hair past your ears; then you have to come up with a fool proof regimen. Even if it's a simple as "I will wash my hair every other Friday and sleep with a satin cap everyday." Do it and stick with it. You only see results through consistency. Tip Thirteen: Goals are only achieved when you have a plan.
14)Don't be extra! This should not be like another job! Don't be a party pooper! Have fun! Don't take the fun out of being natural, that's where all the magic is. What I realized was that in the beginning I was doing way too much for no reason. It got to a point where I was so tired of my hair. It was like I would clock out of work on Friday's just to clock right back in. My hair had become a menace to my sanity and I just wanted to shave it all off. Tip Fourteen: Put that JOY back in ENJOY; Enjoy the journey!
15) Here is two quotes to keep in mind as you embark on a healthier natural hair journey. They are quite contrary however, very important. "I'm too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener." Being a natural, I know how easy it is to look at the next girl and be like I wish I had hair like, "so and so". Comparison is the thief of all joy. Nonetheless, "Their grass is probably greener because they water it." If you are going to look at their grass, you might as well water yours while your at it.
We all have that neighbor that wakes up early in the morning to water his lawn. He has committed himself to a routine in order to achieve a vibrant 'less dead' looking yard. In our neighborhood Mr. Rhemmings has the best grass, everyone knows it, and everyone is jealous. However no one knows all the effort and hours Mr.Rhemmings has dedicated into achieving this goal. So for a week I watched him. He wakes up at 7 am to water his grass. He buys fertilizer. He cuts his weeds. Most of all he has learned his grass so well he knows when its time for intensive 'TLC' (tender, love and care). After that week, I realized that I really didn't care that much about my grass to do the same thing. However, it changed my perspective on all my goals. If you are okay with how your hair is, keeping doing you boo! However, if you want to see a change, you will have to move 'hair care' to the top of your priority list. So, the real question is: why are you determined to achieve your hair goals and what are willing to change? We all have the same 24 hours!