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How to Bounce Back from Your Biggest Natural Hair Mistakes

9:15 AM

How to Bounce Back from Your Biggest Natural Hair Mistakes

As seen on Black Girl with Long Hair!

In the natural hair community, we spend a lot of time, energy, and money on preventative and maintenance care for our tresses, and with good reason. Our natural hair is delicate, and deserves the best care we can provide (especially after years of flat iron and relaxer abuse). We cowash, use sulfate-free shampoos, concoct pre-poos, whip up butters for styling and sealing, deep condition, and more.

But sometimes, life gets the best of us.

For all of our knowledge and efforts, none of us are perfect. Many of us will even admit that we're not quite yet experts on our own hair. I've got no qualms with sharing that while I do have a good handle on what works for my hair, I am no guru. So yes, I made mistakes during my transition, and even now, I'll make mistakes or take shortcuts and have to suffer the consequences.

I say all of this to say, that sometimes despite our best intentions, we mess up. That mess up can be instant (like a bad dye job), or cumulative (like excessive thinning). When you come across a stumbling block, check out these tips for getting over them and back on track:

1. Bouncing Back: Cutting Hair Too Short
Although short, tapered cuts are what's hot in the natural hair streets right now, there are some ladies on a quest to retain length. If you find yourself in a predicament that leaves you with shorter hair than you bargained for, you can do a few different things. First, I recommend giving yourself a few days to get used to the new length. Experiment with different styles. You may find that although your hair is shorter, you have better styling results because the ends are even or better shaped. If you're still not feeling the length after giving yourself a chance to come out of shock, you can experiment with more stretched styles, or take the opposite approach and go full protective styling until your hair grows out enough. Whichever approach you take, just be sure to hone in on a regimen for healthy hair care. That way, you can maximize growth and length retention while maintaining the health and integrity of the hair that you still have.

2. Bouncing Back: A Bad Dye Job
Dye jobs are always a gamble. You never know how a dye is going to take (or in some cases, not take) to your hair, or react with a previous dye or stain (like henna). If you find yourself with a home dye job gone wrong, you do have a few tools in your arsenal to pull out. For hair that is too bright, try shampooing your hair over the next few wash days. Color deposits via lifting the cuticle, and shampooing gently lifts the cuticle and will allow some of your color to run out. Just remember to deep condition after every shampoo, because cuticles that don't return to flat and smooth will make your hair feel rough and dry post dye. Another alternative to tone down your color is to cover it with a dark, semi-permanent (or cellophane) dye. The last thing you want to do with your hair in such a vulnerable state is apply more permanent/ammonia-containing dye. A cellophane-style rinse will allow you to tone down/color over your too-bright dye without the damage. And if you find that your dye job is causing your curl pattern to start loosening, try using ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor to help it bounce back. I used it with amazing results on my color-treated hair.

3. Bouncing Back: Bald Spots (Traction Alopecia)
Traction alopecia is real, and it is an ever-present concern for naturals who love protective styling (weaves, braids, and other styles that pull on the hair). If you've done a protective styling stint and noticed your edges have abandoned ship, there are a few things you can do to get back on the right track. first, Stop doing whatever style got you in the predicament you're currently in. It seems like common sense, but it is important to acknowledge what practices and styles are detrimental to your hair. Next, check out these proven recipes for re-growth. As with anything you want to change or improve, consistency is most important. Commit to spritzing and massaging the afflicted area(s) daily. Note: if you are experiencing bald patches or extreme hair fall, please consult a medical professional. Hair loss may be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.

4. Bouncing Back: Dryness
One of the most common complaints bout natural hair is that it is dry. Early in our natural hair journey, we lament about our hair being dry in comparison to the silky flat irons and perms we were accustomed to. But as our journeys progress, we realize that dry hair is indeed a real thing -- as evidenced by the fact that our natural sebum doesn't travel down the hair shaft as aptly. Dry hair can be the result of a number of things -- an inconsistent deep conditioning regimen, not layering products properly for your hair type, porosity issues, and not using the right products for your hair type. How do you know which one you're suffering at the hands of, and how to fix it? There's no one quick and dirty solution. It doesn't sound sexy, but in order to get to the crux of the issue, you've got to engage in a bit of trial and error. Your deep conditioner is your first line of defense. If you deep condition irregularly, your hair could benefit from a more normalized routine (every 1-2 weeks). Also, try incorporating more pH balanced/low pH deep conditioners into your regimen, to assist in laying your cuticle flat and sealing in moisture. If your hair is still dry in the days following your deep conditioning, get experimental with how you seal moisture into your hair. Play around with different combinations of leave-ins, moisturizers, and oils or butters. Don't feel bound to following LOC, LCO or any other acronyms. If you're still not having much luck, you might have to examine the possibility that your products just don't work for your hair. But before you chuck them out and go to Target to start all over again, shampoo or clarify your hair. Sometimes, what we think is dryness is just buildup from cowashing over time.

5. Bouncing Back: Breakage/Thinning
We've already covered how some breakage is normal, but if you are experiencing breakage and thinning that is drastically altering your hair, getting to the root of the problem is vital. Sometimes, the breakage is mechanical, and the fix is gentle hair handling, and switching from combs and brushes to finger detangling only. However, if your hair seems to be breaking off whenever you handle it, dryness or a weakened hair shaft may be to blame. If you think dryness is the culprit, check out #4. But if you've gotten a handle on moisture and are still experiencing breakage, protein treatments can help solve the problem. I highly recommend ApHogee's Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor as a starting point. Treating the hair with an intensive protein treatment weekly until the breakage dissipates should help in serious cases. Also, remember: when you are experiencing extreme breakage, avoid styling that places extra stress on the already weakened hair.

How have you bounced back from your natural hair setbacks?

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