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?