Confession: Some of us transitioners and naturalistas get a little overzealous (and borderline OCD) when it comes to caring for our hair. Some of us have routines that are hardwired into our into our lives, with no chance of changing. Pre-poo every Wednesday. Detangle and co-wash Thursday. Protectively style for 3 weeks. Henna on the 1st of every month…and the list goes on. Personally, I can’t live my life that way. I just do what my hair needs, when it needs it. If I can go a week and a half before washing, then so be it. If I’m not feeling protective styling, then I’ll let it all hang out. Even though I’m not the most routine//regimented transitioner, I do believe that there are some little habits and practices that if done often enough, can lead to real damage. Let’s jump right in:
1. Picking at Split Ends and Single Strand Knots
As we all know, direct sunlight is very telling. When I’m chilling passenger side riding around (not gettin’ it), I often hold the ends of my hair up so I can see how they’re doing. Sometimes, I see split ends that look absolutely terrifying. Of course, I don’t have scissors in my car, so I pinch down with my nails and yank. I know. Bad Christina. I had to stop myself from doing this because well, it is damaging. And truth be told, it only exacerbates the problem instead of alleviating it. Whenever you use dull scissors (or in this case, fingernails) to take off split ends, the hair bends; which lends itself to fraying as opposed to a clean cut across. Frayed ends split, which means the problem you sought to remedy has come right back. Additionally, often times picking at ends leads to taking them off unevenly across the shaft of the hair. When a strand of hair is unevenly cut (or nipped), the ends are more susceptible to damage and splitting. Even though a simple split end pinch here and there might be tempting, just wait until you can get a sharp pair of hair scissors in your hands. That way, you can avoid having to take off more length more often.
2. Finger Twirling and Touching
This one might be more for me than it is for ya’ll. I am a recovering chronic finger twirler. Not a day used to go by where I wasn’t twirling my hair at some point — while having conversations, while working, while deep in thought, while driving, over dinner.…you get the point. While twirling your hair around your finger isn’t the worst thing you can do, it isn’t exactly the best either. Each time you touch or otherwise manipulate your hair, you may not see it, but you are losing protein and damaging the cuticle. Over time (especially if you tend to twirl or touch the same area or section of hair), you run the risk of weakening that area by causing mid-shaft splits and breakage. I am not saying that you can never ever touch, run your fingers through, or twirl your hair. That is crazy and unrealistic. What I am saying, is if you have a bad habit like I do, tucking your hair away (buns, etc.) may help you save your strands from unnecessary damage.
3. Constant Length Checking
This practice doesn’t really cause damage to your hair, it causes damage to you. Transitioners and naturalistas that are interested in retaining and growing longer hair are often curious to see how much their hair grows in a given period. I understand. I am curious too. But please understand that length checking your hair every 4 days isn’t going to yield you any satisfactory results. Some months, your hair will grow like a weed. Other months, you’ll swear your hair got stage fright and coiled back into your scalp. Growing out healthy, natural hair is not a sprint. It’s not a marathon. Heck, it’s not even a race. It takes time. So what if so-and-so got 3 inches of growth in 3 months. What does that have to do with you and your hair? Stop “tryna see” if your hair has grown every five minutes. A watched pot never boils.
4. Trying to Get That Old Thing Back
For the longest time, I was in denial about my banana clips. When I first began transitioning, I loved me some banana clips — they made for quick, easy, and cute styling. But toward the end of summer, I realized that every clip I attempted to work my hair into either broke, wouldn’t close, or popped open. I spent more time (and incurred more breakage and tangles) trying to force my hair into an old favorite that simply wouldn’t work anymore. As much as it sucked, I had to move on. If you have an old style, styling tool, or accessory that used to work wonders but now is a struggle, it might be time to let it go. Save yourself from the frustration, breakage, damage, tangles, and time. Find something else to use, or a new style to wear. There is always more.
What bad habits keep your hair from thriving?