Transitioner and Natural Hair Mistakes: Some of My Biggest Fail Moments

Natural hair bloggers make mistakes.

Some folks don't realize that fact, and others refuse to acknowledge it. We have bad hair days. Sometimes we make bad product decisions. We may flip-flop on how we feel about certain products, styles, and practices. Your favorite bloggers, vloggers, and social media personalities are all people, just like you -- fallible and prone to err.

Here is an ode to some transitioning and natural hair mistakes I've made on my healthy hair journey:

Oat Flour
If you google "how to thicken hair" or "natural ways to thicken hair", I am willing to bet that you will come across websites and blog posts touting that the lipids and proteins in oat flour will bind to your hair and help thicken and strengthen it. So me, in all my gullible natural-ness, ran out to Sprouts Farmer's Market and bought a big ol' bag of Bob's Red Mill. According to the interwebs, I was supposed to mix it into my conditioner (terrible idea), or into the oils that I was going to put in my hair for a pre-poo or massage (even more terrible idea). Despite the fact that the oil was incredibly messy, and the conditioner always left particulate oat matter in my hair, I was doggedly determined to make it work. I wanted thick and unruly curls, and if messy food was the way to go, I was going to grin and bear it.

Fortunately, after about 2 months, I got my bearings and got my hands on some solid science that helped me realize what I was doing was pointless. Turns out, that in order for proteins to work at strengthening and "plumping" the hair, they have to be hydrolyzed (made smaller) first. Imagine that. Thanks to Jc of The Natural Haven, I stopped slathering oats and other foodstuffs on my hair, and now opt for products with hydrolyzed proteins high on the ingredient list for a boost.

Non BAQ Henna
Similar to my Oat Flour Fiasco, I discovered henna online in my quest to thicken my struggling tresses. There is plenty of science and anecdotal evidence to prove that henna does thicken the hair by binding to it, so much to my relief, I wasn't totally off base. So where was I dead wrong? When I allowed my impatient nature to get the best of me. I couldn't possibly fathom waiting for some Body Art Quality henna to arrive at my doorstep, so I did what any fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants naturalista would do: I drove to Whole Foods (and in later months, Sprouts) to purchase Light Mountain Henna for about $7 a box. Now, Light Mountain is 100%'s just not Body Art Quality. For those of you that don't dabble in the funny-smelling green stuff, it means that the consistency of Light Mountain henna was almost like a jar of Italian seasoning, or dry rub for a slab of ribs. Noticeably large granules, twigs, the whole nine yards.

Needless to say, it was a pain to mix, apply, and IMPOSSIBLE to get out. Non-BAQ henna doesn't turn into a smooth pudding, it yields runny clumps when mixed. Because the water, conditioner, oils, and henna don't come together right, it doesn't go in the hair right. Many nights I found orange water pouring down the sides of my head and the back of my neck, while dried clumps of bramble tangled into my transitioning hair. I wasted BOTTLES of conditioner, just trying to work the twigs and granules out of my hair. Fortunate for me, after about 4 of these nightmare henna sessions, I smartened up and started ordering Jamila brand online. To quell my impatience, I order 3-4 boxes at a time. Every step of the way is easy and smooth. The sift is super fine, and I can tell the difference. Every time I mix up a batch of Jamila, I remember my Light Mountain days and wonder, what the heck was I thinking?!?!?

Not Testing Mixes
Have you ever been so excited about a new product, that you just slapped it in your hair, and didn't stop to think what it may look like intermixing with your leave-in, or even a few hours later? Yeah, me neither. I'm kidding -- this is one of those lessons that I have to continue to re-learn....almost every time I grab a new product. Lately, my inner PJ has been acting up (if you follow me on Instagram, then you know). At one point, I was really good about focusing on my staples and DIY products. But then 2013 hit, and there are natural products GALORE to choose from...and I just can't help myself. I've been picking up conditioners, leave-ins, and styling jellies galore -- and paying a dear price for it.

When I first began my healthy hair journey, my biggest fail moment came at the hands of EcoStyler Gel. I was so excited to use it, because every naturalista I followed at the time spoke highly of it. Generally speaking, EcoStyler isn't a bad product for a gel, by any means. But what I learned was that it doesn't play nice with others, especially leave-ins and conditioners. Clumpy white ball city. From that point on, I tried to do my best to mix my random jellies and leave-ins on the back of my hand to see how they go together. But sometimes, my excitement gets the best of me...and I end up washing my hair all over again. Even just yesterday, I got besides myself with joy about trying a twist-out with a product I will be reviewing soon. I forgot about the part of the process where I spot test a small section of my hair, and just spread it everywhere. As a result, 15 minutes later my hair was dry and trifilin'. I had to wash my hair two times (with shampoo!) after that, just to get the gunk out.

Just to Recap:
I hope this helps you all avoid some of the complete fail moves I've made along my healthy hair journey. Remember:
  • Some foods are great for your hair, and others are more of a hassle than helpful. Check the science before you chuck your groceries onto your head.
  • All henna ain't good henna. Regardless of what brand you go with, make sure it's 100% pure and body art quality.
  • Test your products before you use them. Either mix them on the back of your hand, or spot test a small discrete patch of hair.
Have you had any natural hair fail moments? Share!