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Hair Reflections + A Little Inspiration For Transitioners

9:39 AM

My past few co-washes and detangling sessions have given me some much-needed time to tune out and tune into my hair, as well as shifted my perspective on what my goals for my hair are. This post is all about my findings, frustrations, and bringing my new goals to fruition. Enjoy!

These are my confessions... #noUsherRaymond

Key Finding #1: The No-Heat Challenge is the BEST thing I could have possibly done for my hair.
If it were not for my decision to go au-naturale until May 17th, I would have never had the opportunity to engage in a thorough assessment of my hair. (Excuse my technical jargon, I'm fresh off of writing a program evaluation...haha). Even though I technically started my No-Heat Challenge on March 17th, I was already rocking non-straightened hair since the beginning of the month. I just hadn't invested in understanding my hair yet. Doing away with wash n' gos, incorporating nightly scalp massages and supplements, and a complete hair product overhaul really allowed me to see my hair for what it was (HEAT DAMAGED), and what it had the potential to become.
Look at how thin my ends are...


Key Finding #2: The road to hell-thy hair is paved with good intentions.
In case you missed it in Key Finding #1, I just confessed that I have heat damaged hair. Good God Almighty. All this time (prior to the re-launching of my blog...so don't worry, the info here is good), I had been flat ironing away (even with heat protectant), wearing wash n' gos, absentmindedly shower detangling, and wreaking utter havoc upon my hair. Silly me, I thought I was "protecting" it. Honest to God. I really did. In my mind, wash n' gos gave my hair a break, and time for it to revert to its natural texture. WRONG. DEAD WRONG. Looking back at all the hair that went down the drain, and all the split ends I am currently waging war against, I did more harm then good.

Key Finding #3: Looks Ain't Everything
Looking back, I found that I was more concerned about making my hair appear to be a certain way, rather than taking the necessary steps for it to actually live up to its full potential. This was a huge one for me. I was so heavy in the wash n' go game, I became obsessed with having the perfect set of curls. I was a product junkie for all the wrong reasons. I looked for conditioners to give my hair more curl definition, and styling aids to hold the curls in place. I lathered up layer upon layer of product, which left my hair goopy and wet for hours on end, all in vain. I was SOOO in denial. I would wet my hair, and only half of the entire length of it would "act right" (i.e. curl), and I would resort to rocking wet twists to get the rest of the shaft to comply. All this time, heat damage never crossed my mind. I just assumed my straight hair had more to do with my "texture changing" than my current practices.

Key Finding #4: Ohhh, it's too hot, too hot, too hot lady (Kool & The Gang style)
If ever I needed proof beyond the fact that my hair appeared to be thinner than it has ever been in my entire life, or that I was trimming my ends every time I flat ironed (every month or so), this article on The Natural Haven helped put things into perspective for me. Yes, my hair is heat damaged. No, there is nothing I can do about it but move forward.

I don't care what India Aarie said, I am my hair. We all are. The hair care industry virtually thrives on the expenditures of Black women (and all women). But after my key findings, I became disgusted, upset, frustrated, and a little sad. How could I ever let my hair get so bad? Luckily, this blog entry picked me right back up and put a lot of things into perspective for me. If I wanted my optimal hair, I needed to ditch the dead ends pity party and re-commit myself to the cause. I had to move forward. I had to move on. 

I'm Moving Onnnnnnn (I know ya'll remember that Mya song!)
For me, moving on is is kinda like the practice of goal setting that I use for myself, and when I work with students. It requires three key components (for me, in this exact order):
  1. Assessment of the current situation.
  2. End game (long-term goal).
  3. How to get there (steps and benchmarks toward the long-term goal).
Below are my answers. The first step toward having healthy hair is admitting that I have a problem:
  1. The current situation: Thick, highly textured and strong new growth. Approximately 70% of my hair length is healthy. The remaining 30% is heat damaged and characterized by tapering (thick at root and incrementally thinner towards ends), and an inability to fully revert to natural texture. The percentages and amounts vary per section of my hair (it is layered with growing-out bangs in the front). My hair does grow (based upon my observation of recent new growth, and the measurement to the left), but damaged ends prevent me from retaining too much length. I also have split and uneven ends, although not as bad as they used to be. My hair is currently BSL (Bra Strap Length) -- which is pretty cool considering the hack job I did in 08, and the wack job I did in caring for my hair.
  2. Long term goal: I want Hey Fran Hey hair. Long, thick, and curly. Mid back length would be nice -- but I am more fixated on regaining the thickness I once had. 

Steps and benchmarks are a tad more complicated, and are definitely determined at the individual level. Like I said in Key Finding #1, having the opportunity to learn my hair has been pivotal. I have unleashed my inquisitive spirit, my love of reading/research, and my product junkie tendencies into the world of natural hair care and made this decision: I'm going natural, and jumping head first into a healthy hair lifestyle! I am committing myself to the following:
  • Maintaining my Awesome Hair From the Inside Out routine: Daily scalp massages (with Virgin Unrefined Coconut and Cold Pressed Castor Oils as needed), daily supplements, eating healthy, working out, and drinking water. 
  • Paying attention to my hair: Do I need moisture? Am I product overloaded? More shedding than normal? Less shedding? What products meet my hair needs? What are my ends looking like?How is my hair's body, volume, and elasticity?
  • Protecting my hair: Limiting heat to every 3 months (after May 17th), and keeping the flat iron under 320 degrees Farenheit. Wearing protective styles 5 out of 7 days of the week. Eventually, I would like to get to the point where I can rock protective styles for 4 weeks, then let it all hang out on the 5th. Baby steps Tina, baby steps. Moisturizing my ends regularly. Also, covering my hair every  night or sleeping on a satin pillowcase. Believe it or not, in my former "natural" days, I would forego this step...then bed mad when my hair looked a hot mess in the morning (and then hop right in the shower to rectify it with another wash n' go... a vicious cycle). No chance of that happening now. I have two satin scarves (one for when my hair is straightened, one for natural), a satin bonnet for braid/twist/knot outs, and a satin pillowcase. One of those four will travel with me wherever I go.
  • Gradual trimming: As my hair grows (and as my roots demonstrate, it does!), I will slowly but surely snip away at the damaged ends. I'm not big chopping. Not even medium chopping. My next swipe at my hair will come in May, when I straighten it.   
I hope through my candid self-assessment (sorry, more eval jargon), I was able to inspire some of you to take a good, honest look at your hair. See it for what it is, and what it could be if you only gave it the time and attention it deserves. Who's ready to join me? I will be uploading pictures along the way....

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this! Sounds like what I'm going through currently! :( At least I see there may be a bright light at the end of this :)

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  2. No problem! It's a long and arduous journey, but any little inspiration along the way helps!

    ReplyDelete