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Fran’s Top 5 Hair Mistakes

Avatar • Apr 9, 2012

By Fran of Heyfranhey.com

After years of trial and error, I can finally say I’ve figured out my hair. I have a better understanding of which ingredients to look for, which to avoid, my staple products and a healthy hair regimen that actually works for me. As important as it is to share the good, it’s equally as important to share the bad! That way others can avoid similar pitfalls and enjoy an easier transition and overall journey. Here are a few mistakes I’ve made along the way:

1. Trimming Too Often

I listened to the suggested rule of having my hair trimmed every 6 weeks. I wasn’t paying attention to my ends or the shape my hair was in. I would go because it was the only way my hair would grow. Or so I thought! It honestly felt like my hair was the same length forever. Or it would finally be growing only to be chopped off by scissor happy stylists. Once I stopped going so often, and only went when my hair actually needed it, my hair was finally able to retain some length! Now I only trim my hair once or twice a year. Listen to your hair!

2. “Taming” Roots & Ends with Heat

Getting my hair straightened wasn’t super damaging for me until I bought a flat iron and attempted to “freshen” up the look on my own. Once my straightened hair reverted back to curls, especially near the roots and ends, I would use the flat iron to tame the sections again. Even if that meant daily! Huge mistake. My ends would be fried by the end of the month and my roots were hardened and thinning. I realized my hair wasn’t meant to be super straight. I started wearing my hair in wavier styles with more body. Way healthier! Also, washing it out when it was reverting back to curls, as opposed to forcing it back to straightened hair, was a life saver.

3. Using Alcohol Based Gels

I had the bad habit of slicking my hair back, especially my edges, with strong-hold gels. All of them were cheap and loaded with alcohol, slowly stripping my hair of natural oils. Additionally, the constant stress on my edges caused a lot of thinning and breakage. Not to mention the white flakes and crunch attributed to gel use! Now, I try to avoid styles that are too tight or slicked back. If I need to have a sleeker look, I’ll use something with a healthier and less harsh hold, like Jamaican Black Castor Oil.

4. “Black” or “Curl” Products

I’m a self-professed product junkie! I’m getting way better, though, now that I’ve finally found my staple products. I’m no longer in search of the “perfect curl” or the “perfect curl” product. The biggest mistake I made during my natural hair journey was buying every product that was made for “Brown Women” or had the word “curl” in it. I remember when Pantene came out with those brown bottles that were for women of color. I was such a sucker! It never hit me that women of color do not all have the same hair! How could one shampoo cover all of our needs? Or that random black hair product aisle in every Duane Reade and CVS! Who decided the setup/brands for that section? And why are all of the products so cheap and drying? I finally stopped buying in that section realizing it was actually killing my hair. It also took me awhile to realize natural hair products didn’t necessarily mean healthy hair products. I would see the word natural and just assume! Some of us have the bad habit of wanting to support black owned business without paying attention to quality. Now I walk right past those aisles and straight to the organic section!

5. Not Speaking Up at Salons

We’ve all experienced pushy stylists. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve sat under the hair dryer in absolute pain from the unbearable heat on my scalp. Or how many times I’ve sat in the braid chair grinding my teeth and curling my toes from the pain near my edges and nape, as they tugged my hair into way-too-tight braids. But I wouldn’t say a word! Or they would try to make you feel like you’re being a baby. Or how many times I’ve had my scalp feel like it was going to rip apart from the stylists placing the blow dryer directly on it while literally yanking my hair (Hello Dominican salons!) to straighten it. Every single one of those “beauty is pain” moments turned into something damaging in the long run. Either my scalp was severely dried out and flaky from the intense heat sessions that were clearly way too much! Or my edges were damn near torn out from the tight braiding that I shouldn’t have allowed in the first place. I would even have braid headaches for weeks. Big mistake! I could’ve avoided tons of scalp ailments and traumas if I had spoken up. If you’re uncomfortable, say something. Regardless of how long you’ve known them. I used to cringe seeing my mom have to sit in her chair fighting the relaxer pain. Then coming home with scabs and redness all over her scalp. I will never put myself through any uncomfortable salon situations, again. My natural beauty should always feel that way…natural.

Ladies, what are your top hair mistakes?

Fran is the author of HeyFranHey.com. 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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Bonita
Bonita
8 years ago

Not combing my hair the correct way.

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago
Reply to  Bonita

+1 Improper detangling caused a lot of breakage for me. 

I used to detangle freshly shampooed, soaking wet hair with a wide-toothed comb followed by a Denman. *shudders* Now I finger-detangle stretched, sectioned (12 parts), conditioner-coated hair before shampooing. My kinky coily, Afro-textured hair has way less breakage and much better length retention now.

Gee
Gee
8 years ago

I agree with you on the fact that a lot of products in the black/ethnic aisle are filled with chemicals that a lot of us curly girls tend to avoid but I don’t want you to get black hair product lines mixed up with the black aisle. A lot of of the hair products in the black/ethnic aisle aren’t owned or made by black people. Targeted to black people… Sure Owned by black people.… The majoriy aren’t. Most of the hair brands out that are actually black owned like Shea Moisture, Jane Carter, Kinky Curly, etc.… are actually great products and… Read more »

merry
merry
8 years ago
Reply to  Fran

i think the brands she listed are all available at target, whole foods or walgreens actually.

kc — whole foods and target
shea moisture — walgreen and target
jane carter — not sure but she might be at whole foods

she named the brands that in fact are the easiest to find.

brands like oyin and qhemet are more difficult to find, although you can find the latter on in some health food stores. i do think people are pretty accustomed to buying online. 

almost everything i have — qhemet, glycerine, castor oil, shea butter — i purchased online.

jen
jen
8 years ago
Reply to  merry

i’ve seen jane carter in a lot of bss in nyc

Kylea
Kylea
8 years ago
Reply to  jen

jane carter is also in target

mlank64
mlank64
8 years ago
Reply to  Gee

Absolutely!!

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago

Number 5 was my worst mistake by far. I am starting to talk up more, if they still are reluctant to listen to crucial steps (detangling, pulling too tightly, not using moisture) I never go that salon again and when other friends ask me I very quick to say their flaws are. If they get the crucial step I give my experience and what I think there strengths are.

cygnet
cygnet
8 years ago

This mistake I’m still making, as I am new to finger combing and detangling: Pulling too quickly or too hard to separate sections. Frequently I have hairs close to each other but not necessarily together that get tangled together at the ends. When I try to make a part between them or separate them, I go too quickly, and I end up jerking knots in my hair, most of which need to be removed with scissors.  Sometimes, just out of sheer laziness or buttheadedness, I do something else that, in a newby, might be considered a mistake, but I know… Read more »

Scarlett
Scarlett
8 years ago

I think it would have to be using a phony paddle brush to brush my hair.. After a while, to my chagrin I realised that it took a good two inches off of my length! Also, I think the worst mistake ever was not taking the proper precautions to protect my hair from the elements when I changed from a hot climate to cold one.. My hair has dropped off.

Omodudu Onidada
8 years ago

My one mistake was not going natural sooner, and for not wearing my hair in a Fro all those years when I really could have.

Yay to New Growth
Yay to New Growth
8 years ago

I’ve made a lot of mistakes one of them definitely being combing with a small comb-OUCH! And not washing my hair often enough, I’m new to natural hair, (well not new but my fro is still pretty small) so I wear my hair in braids and the clots of dirts (yeah grosss) I get were because I didn’t wash and rebraid now I do it alleast every two weeks…much healthier hair !
Second mistake: banana deepcondition.…THAT STUFF DOES NOT WASH OUT!

Dana
Dana
7 years ago

I did the banana and mixed it with avocado oil and a bit of honey. It tasted great as a smoothie! The results in my hair though were less then stellar. No effect, and yes, picking out pieces of banana for weeks. I’ll stick to oils.

Rach
Rach
8 years ago

OMG! YES! i made the same mistake! had banana in my head for days. had to pick out each bit by hand. NEVER AGAIN!

Rou
Rou
8 years ago

The biggest mistake I made was not trimming my newly natural hair for a whole year. This lead to split ends like you wouldn’t believe. I had to trim my hair a couple of times to get rid of the dead and dried up ends. I will not let that happen again! Please ladies, don’t make the same mistake I made. Our hair should be trimmed at least every 3 to 6 months, depending on how much we abuse our hair on a daily basis.  The only good thing that happened from that experience is that it made me want to… Read more »

Annie L.
Annie L.
8 years ago

Great list! Lol — the Black aisle at DR and CVS!

1. Me too with either banana, avocado, egg or grainy ayurvedic powder stuck in my hair!
2. Being a half-assed mixtress. Ingredients and mixtures require research, balanced ratios and balanced use and I’ve burned my way through proteins, humectants, oils and slip by ignoring that fact.
3. Too much leave-in slip! It coats the hair and blocks moisture.
4. Not drinking enough water, eating enough nutrient-rich foods
5. Not protecting my ends with enough slip before detangling/styling.

I feel you on salons, it took YEARS before I spoke up!

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