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There are No Shortcuts to Beautiful Hair!

Avatar • Jan 23, 2012


By Fran of Heyfranhey.com

We’re a world of instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it now. Readers tell me they need to lose 20 lbs in 10 days. They tell me they want 6‑pack abs by summer. Or that their hair needs to be no less than 18 inches long for a formal event they have in 3 weeks. But when I suggest drinking more water to help detox and shed some of that unnecessary weight, I hear, “but I don’t like the taste of water”. When I encourage finger detangling because I know it helps minimize breakage and in turn helps retain length, I’m told, “I don’t have the patience for all that!” And when I explain that abs take consistent physical training, I’m met with, “but for how long, fran?” Rarely do people want advice on the actual journey. They want to know how it can happen before Tuesday.

I understand. Protective styling is not always our favorite look as naturals. I’m not the biggest fan of having to sit and twist my entire head of hair for hours, only to have to re-twist again in a few days because the shine is gone and the frizz has taken its place. Who is? I’m not one of those lucky naturals that can wear twists for weeks. Mine will last about a week and a half with a few re-twisting sessions in between! And my hair is thick but not thick enough to have a head full of awesome chunky twists. Mine have a lot of room between them. Scalpy. I look 12. But I put them in and I wear them anyway. Why? Because I know it’s what works to keep my hair healthy. I understand those weeks I have to look 12 are worth those days I can wear my hair out and it’s so well taken care of and huge that people on the train can’t stop staring and ask, “is that all yours?” Yes, it is. And I earned it.

Finger detangling takes a long friggin’ time. I know. Sometimes you just want to grab that denman or that seamless comb (or whatever the blogs suggest) and just tear through those knots and get wash-day over and done with. But when half your hair is hanging on that shower wall and the rest is circling the drain, don’t wonder why. When months have passed and your hair is still the same length and fullness, def don’t wonder why! That extra hour you spend calmly separating those knots with your fingers will turn into those extra inches of hair you’re looking for in the mirror. Cipriana’s hair isn’t that long because she’s lucky. My hair isn’t this big because I’m lucky. We both put in the work. We’ve spent years testing and figuring out the right combination of oils and creams. The right regimen of cleansers, the hours of finger detangling, moisturizing, sealing, twisting and the full out patience. Then we do it all over again when we have to; as long as it takes. We’ve earned it. And some will ask, “but why does everything have to take so long?” and I’ll always say it’s your body, why not?

People like to tell me all the time, “all natural products are great and all but they’re way too expensive”. Yeah, a few of the healthier brands can be expensive but if you want to buy them then make a few sacrifices. If I know I have to spend a certain amount on hair products then I cut down on frivolous spending that month and make it a priority. It’s the same thing when buying groceries. Healthy food can be a little pricey at times, but don’t complain about it if you’re inside of h&m and forever21 once a week. I would love to spend money on cute rings, leggings and sweaters all the time but I spend it on vegetables that need to be juiced for the week, instead. Doesn’t sound as fun, I know. But I guarantee that head of broccoli will do more for your body than that cute fuzzy ombre sweater for $14.99.

Granted, there are the exceptions who have naturally long hair no matter what they do to it. Those who can flat iron or dye their coils once a week and won’t suffer a lick of damage. And some who can eat kit kat bars and popeyes chicken but won’t gain a pound. Yes, that can be confusing. But even luck runs out at some point! I rather understand, with certainty, what will give me results. I love the fact I now know exactly what workouts to do when my stomach isn’t looking too flat. And I know exactly what concoctions to whip up when my twist-outs look a little dull. When I’m low on energy I know the vegetables that will help get me back on track and exactly how much water will bring some glow back to my skin after an annoying menstrual breakout. I never set goals for how much weight I need to lose. I’m not looking for a quick fix through random diets or weight loss pills. I just work harder at knowing myself. I don’t set any goals for how long my hair needs to be. I don’t want the unknown growth oil that will make my hair sprout 5 inches or a conditioner that claims to add fullness. I prefer understanding which ingredients my hair responds to. I rather just know my body. I’m at a point where the way I work, my health, is a priority. Hair length, tight muscles and all of those cute aesthetic goals will happen by default. The wonderful perks of treating yourself with care! Maybe you’re not there yet and that’s ok. But just keep in mind, the next time you’re ready to throw the towel in, that most of your goals are going to take some kind of change, a lot of work, serious patience and a little bit of sacrifice. This goes with everything in your life. We hear it all the time but it’s true; nothing worth having is easy.

Ladies, have you come to terms with the work involved in having a healthy hair and body? Or are you still looking for a shortcut 😉

Fran is the author of HeyFranHey.com. She dispenses hair advice on Black Girl with Long Hair every Monday. Follow her on Twitter @heyfranhey.

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About Fran

I'm a natural hair, nutrition and fitness blogger from New York City. Battling a kidney related illness that doctors couldn't seem to fix, I became obsessed with alternative medicine. After months of researching and finally curing myself, it became quite evident that healthy resources in our urban communities were lacking. I began my health & wellness tumblr in Dec of 2010 as somewhat of a journal, hoping to shed some light on my journey to health as well as our disconnection with healthy living. It's been my goal to create a safe haven where our wellness concerns could be shared and hopefully cured, as naturally as possible.

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Lola
Lola
8 years ago

Great writing.

Sheree
Sheree
8 years ago

love this article i know im not completely there yet with you but i often feel the same way especially dealing with some of my friends that are starting to take care of their hair.…just constantly on this i need my hair to be 20 inches long and shiny and easy to comb and do all the things i see on tv but i dont want to do any research an i dont want to spend any money and i dont want to change my life…i’m wondering if its just different strokes for different folks or if i’m just more… Read more »

Tonisha
Tonisha
8 years ago

PREACH PREACHA! This came RIGHT on time for me. I’ve been loosing my fully locked dreads, and let me tell you.…this IS a lesson in patience. I too have recently started my (REAL) natural hair journey, and this blog has been a safe haven for me. I am constantly reminding myself of your same message,along with PATIENCE, PERSISTENCE, AND PERSEVERANCE. Im at a pivotal stage in my life, and Im trying to reinforce good habits like cautionary spending, taking care of my BODY the RIGHT way.….all of these things. And although I used to be *beyond* discouraged about the role… Read more »

NewbieNatural
NewbieNatural
8 years ago
Reply to  Tonisha

Thanks Fran for the inspiration! I’m new to natural hairstyling and must admit the process is one of the most tedious journeys I’ve yet to experience. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to discovering and developing the proper techniques to ensure a positive outcome. Somehow during this transition, I’ve developed an inner peace that I wasn’t expecting to gain. Your article as officailly been crowned a staple ‘reference’ for me from here on out.

Marcus
8 years ago

I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” Muhammad Ali

Thanks Fran. Anything worth having, is worth working for. Keep being a natural champion.

Adwoa
8 years ago
Reply to  Marcus

+111111 I looove this quote and I will print it out to keep me inspired for my winter fitness challenge. thank you!!!

Phoenyx Austin, M.D.
8 years ago

Great article! I am so happy to see someone writing about what it really takes to achieve your hair goals. The path to beautiful hair takes time, patience and most importantly LOVE. So with that, I wanted to share something with you all- my new book, “If You Love It, It Will Grow! A Guide To Growing Long Afro-Textured Hair.” It a great book for the ladies (and even fellas) who are looking for a holistic guide to healthier, longer, and more beautiful hair! Pre-order your copy today! Book officially drops Feb 6 and will be available on Kindle and… Read more »

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago

“Ladies, have you come to terms with the work involved in having a healthy hair and body? Or are you still looking for a shortcut ;)” Short answer: Yes and No. Because the logic is not sound to me yet. Because if your spend an hour on your hair but your need to do a low manipulation style then, the session behind doing your hair should be short or at least more efficient. So it should be brought down to at least half that. I have accepted the products scenario by sticking to specific reliable brands and generic natural so cost is… Read more »

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago
Reply to  hyspin

I want to clarify my first explanation about styling time. We always tell people to protective style and do manipulation styling. But A protective style is not low manipulation style to me, if you have to do it repeatedly through out a week and it takes you an hour or more time to do it each time (not including washing time). The more time you spend your hair the more your manipulating. So you need to shorten that time, without ripping through your hair. That why the logic of protective, low manipulation styles are not sound to me. Shortcuts are… Read more »

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago
Reply to  Fran

NP. You make some excellent points.

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago
Reply to  hyspin

PS. I agree with your overall premiss of your article but I am devil advocate by nature so I always want to show the flip side of the coin, alternative logics behind the same subject.

Hana
Hana
8 years ago
Reply to  hyspin

Hi Fran, I’m really intrigued by the fact that you get your hair trimmed once a year. At the moment for me, single strand knots are the bane of my existance! Do you still get single strand knots? How did you reduce/eliminate them, because I’m at a loss here. Any help would be really appreciated.

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago
Reply to  Hana

That is interesting. I actually reduced my single strand knots by incorporating oil and ACV rinses into my regime (mostly ACV rinses). Also I do styles that are good at stretching the end of the hair (twist and braids but NOT too small is key) also you may have to trim all thinned out end and splits they are culprit so not just the knots themselves.

But I would love to here Fran’s suggestion since if it is different process I could incorporate all three practices and eliminate single strands all together.

Wathair
Wathair
8 years ago

What an excellent article, thank you! I am one year into my natural hair journey and this comes at a time when I need a little fire lit under me to keep pushing along and being patient, especially with the great results I’ve experienced so far.

Michelle
Michelle
8 years ago

Fantastic article! All so true. No short-cuts..it’s a no-brainer but sometimes we need that reality check to get us on the right path! Thank you!

Molly
Molly
8 years ago

THIS IS REAL TALK and I know it because I’m living it now. I love what you said about the protective style look isn’t exactly the look I went natural for, but doing this has given me even better than expected results with length and fullness. (It’s a small sacrafice but so worth it) Now that I’ve LEARNED my hair better than I’ve ever known it and figured out what routine works for it, I now know to use the point of a rat tail comb to part my hair only; everything else is finger detangling and I wear my… Read more »

April
8 years ago

Honest and wise words! I take good care of my hair, good. NOT great. Yet I wish I hand long flowing locks that swung and shone. This was a reality check for me. Everything worth having takes work, thanks for the reminder.

Zyaran
Zyaran
8 years ago

For those that love wearing wigs check out this gorgeous wig from Africanexport and Taren916 of the Diana Ross Full Kinky Curly Lace Wig.


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Tmi4me72
Tmi4me72
8 years ago

Great article and I for one have come to terms with my hair. I’ve been natural almost 3 yrs this Feb and my hair is just near my collarbone (which to some naturals is not good enough). It’s been a learning experience for me to accept my hair for what it is and care for it as needed and not worrying about the why it’s not down my back already. Just like weight coming down so will the hair, love the article and thanks again.…

Gemlocs
Gemlocs
8 years ago

Another winner Fran! Keep up the awesome work and advice and Thanks!

bluethenaturalmami
bluethenaturalmami
8 years ago

This article is on point! Exactly what I needed to hear! It confirmed what I have always felt about being healthy throughout my body…it takes work, patience, perseverance, sacrifice but it all pays off when you look in the mirror and love what you see! When you can walk down the street holding your head up, confident that you are your best self!

Alexandra
Alexandra
8 years ago

I love this article. I’m printing this out now for both my teenage daughters to read. “Nothing worth having is easy”, I was just telling my daughter’s this the other day. They’re both in high school and getting ready for college. My oldest sometimes gets discouraged due to the amount of work she has to do for school, the time and effort for her hair plus balancing her time reading. She loooooves to read. My other daughter, in her mind, can’t nothing stop her. Thanks for the article!

iamNaturallyCurious
8 years ago

Very well said!! I couldn’t agree more. There are simply no shortcuts. Not sure hair — but pretty much anything in life worth having (and keeping) takes work and commitment.

iamNaturallyCurious
8 years ago

^^^^^^^^ Ooops Meant to say “not just hair” (instead of “not sure hair”). lol.

nubia
nubia
8 years ago

Preach it and yet preach it again.. I am 1 to say I cant not stand PS styling and get tired of the over zealous blogs regarding it.. but at the same time the low manipulation I know in my heart of hearts it a big part to the puzzle let alone less hassle of dealing with styling. I was a pescetarian before I became a natural.,… so I can definitely equate food digested» exercising for a healthier body» and luscious locs… MAKES PASSER BYS SAY WOW LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL SISTA RIGHT THERE 🙂

Alexandra
Alexandra
8 years ago
Reply to  nubia

Lol! True

EG
EG
8 years ago

Very good article, hard for some people to accept, but the truth always is. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and if you’re OK with spending time trying to find the right short cut, then I think you should equally accept the results that come with them.

Rhonda
Rhonda
8 years ago

Thank You, Thank You for that article. Well written and I look forward to reading more articles from you!

CuteKinks
8 years ago

Agreed! For me, part of the fun was learning what does and doesn’t work for my hair.

Asea
Asea
8 years ago

Great article. Like Fran mentioned, if your goal is your most healthy hair, and mine is, it’s important to examine the practices you employ that may be affecting that goal in a negative way.  Finger combing is a must for me. My hair hates combs… period. LOL. Since I’ve banished the comb my hair has thrived sooo much. It depends on what your lovely locks tell you — listen to them!  I think we forget that this journey is so exceptional for so many of us. We have NEVER had to take care of our natural God given coils in our… Read more »

JazzWife
8 years ago

Excellent post!!

Tonya Juanise
Tonya Juanise
8 years ago

I have just started to finger detangle but I must say that I HAVE to use a comb AND brush afterward to get rid of the shed hairs or I will have a mess of knots in my head. Finger detangling or using a comb alone wont cut it for me. Again, it all depends on what works for each person. I do know that I need to be more patient when it comes to handling my hair because I find myself sometimes snatching out knots and I KNOW that’s not good. I am trying to get more in the groove… Read more »

crimsonpeach
crimsonpeach
8 years ago
Reply to  Tonya Juanise

Are you me? Everything you wrote is about my hair.  I’ve tried finger detangling only and shed hairs end up messing my ends. I end up cutting out knots. Plus my twistouts look like crap without combing the product through each section. My hair is both too short and not very dense so protective styles look absolutely crazy. I can’t wait for them to be long enough to bun or pin up. I can’t bring myself to wear extra scalpy twists for 3 weeks just to have my hair look good for 2 days and then start the process over again.  Braids… Read more »

saetia
saetia
8 years ago

I agree with this article but personally I do not like to cross the line where my hair becomes more important than things like family, school, etc is to me and it’s something that quickly happened after I became natural. I feel the natural community sort of encourages people to be borderline obsessed or put their hair in a place of high importance and after awhile I had to take a step back.  My hair is just something I take care of and I just want to take care of it the best I can and cover the important basics but… Read more »

saetia
saetia
8 years ago
Reply to  Fran

We are on the same page Fran 🙂

Zenith
Zenith
8 years ago
Reply to  saetia

Saetia
I TOTALLY hear what you are saying. When I see the numbers of us who are overweight and obese when we USED to be the most fit and physically strong of all people in this country, it makes me cringe to see the persistent obsession with things like hair and nails. I’ve even heard black hair stylists recommend that customers “back off ’ of working out so their hair won’t revert! From the looks of our community, we need to back off of the unhealthy foods, eating habits, sedentary activity and delusional obsessions with the superficial.

End of Rant.

saetia
saetia
8 years ago
Reply to  Zenith

agreed…

EG
EG
8 years ago
Reply to  Zenith

What I have observed is that those who are natural and wear their own hair, usually have a natural/heathy approach to diet as well. Hair is an extension of yourself, and once you start thinking about why you shouldn’t use some products on your hair, it starts to translate to why you shouldn’t put some products in your body.

nelle
nelle
8 years ago

the weeks i have to look 12…worth it” Yes, yes, amen, & amen.

deb
deb
8 years ago

yes ‘healthy hair’ requires sacrifice and it isnt a black hair thing either. White women have to get up an hr early EVERY DAY to wash, condition, and dry their hair. Everybody has to do their thing. I’m doing kinky twists for the past year to help my hair grow. I’m getting bored with it but I know by summer my hair will be the length and thickness I want. Except but a few, beauty takes work.

Tana
Tana
8 years ago

LOVE THIS! def needed to hear this, I would say i looking for a shortcut but I’m also not putting in the work for the results I want.

denaturalistas
8 years ago

Fran, thank you for this great article! I think that the overall concept of not expecting overnight results and the need for perseverance is an important lesson. I think it is also important to find balance and prioritize your goals in life. My goal is to have bsl length hair within three years of my bc,and I am well on my way. But because I am working mom of a 9 month old and pregnant with a 5 month old, work, motherhood, and my overall health take precedent over my hair. I have had to find balance where I could… Read more »

Dawn Washington
Dawn Washington
8 years ago

A year into my long transition and this is exactly what I needed to read. It’s my reminder and encouragement that I am on the right track and to not be deceived by those who take the short cuts.

CurlDiva
8 years ago

Hey Fran! Excellent summary and use of analogies. I will be sharing this article in my natural hair care group! Thanks!

Jeanna
Jeanna
8 years ago

So true! In my almost 3 years of being natural, I have found that patience with myself and my hair is so important. You gave it to us straight — thanks!

Trini
Trini
8 years ago

Such a great and encouraging article this was! Last July, I decided to enforce (lol) long term protective styling and rely on single braids (medium size) which I install myself (yeah me). I have accepted the fuzziness (after washes or around the 3 / 4 week mark) as part of the package. As a result, I have been retaining length like weeds, and my goal of shoulder blade is about an inch away. I ignore the curious stares, and at 41 I really don’t mind looking like, a teeny-bopper (even though I won’t dress like one.)

Chelsyea
Chelsyea
8 years ago

Wonderful Post! I have learned that healthy hair & body goes together. We can’t just put things on our hair and skin only. We are what we eat. I’ve learned to ingest and put on my skin things like black seed oil. Healthy practices lead to a healthy body overall.

thefabgirls
8 years ago

We love this blog, and the pictures of FAB Women. There is so much style and beauty here, and we want to share this blog with our readers. It is important for our girls to see the beauty in natural hair. So many of these women have such great personal style as well.

We are the internet’s new blog for African American tweens and teens, The Fab Girls. Female and Black=FAB! Visit us at http://www.thefabgirls.wordpress.com.

hairscapades
8 years ago

Totally, TOTALLY agree on every point … well, except setting goals. I do do that, but knowing the hard work and time that it will take to get there and it goes for diet, exercise and hair. I used to compete in amateur body building contests and women would constantly ask me how I got my abs or how I lost weight … I can’t tell you how many times I wrote a diet or exercise regimen for someone and they never used it or used it for a couple of weeks and then gave up. As you said, too… Read more »

Ebony
Ebony
8 years ago
Reply to  hairscapades

Would you mind writing up an exercise plan for me, pretty please. I’m especially trying to gain abs, but my stomach looks boxy. And on another note I absolutely love your hair it’s gorgeous.

Ebony
Ebony
8 years ago

Would you mind writing up an exercise plan for me, pretty please. I’m especially trying to gain abs, but my stomach looks boxy. And on another note I absolutely love your hair it’s gorgeous.

crist
crist
8 years ago

wow…loved every sentence

TAB
TAB
8 years ago

Thank you, Fran, for the encouraging article! I just read it today and had to respond. Your article came at the right time.

TAB
TAB
8 years ago

Hi,
I posted a comment earlier because I appreciated Fran’s encouraging message about patiently staying the course to achieve our goals. I see my comment posted and was then deleted (not by me). Nothing I wrote was inappropriate; could you please explain why it was removed? Thank you in advance for your response.

TAB
TAB
8 years ago
Reply to  TAB

LMAO! As soon as I posted the message immediately above, I saw the comment in question. Clearly, I am acting very special today. Please disregard what the message immediately above and I’ll be over in the corner. With the dunce hat on. Lol. Smh @ self.

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