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4 Sources of Natural Hair Setbacks

Avatar • Mar 27, 2013

frustratedblackwoman

Often when naturals are tracking their hair journeys, we usually first see a picture with short hair and a gradual transformation into beautiful long hair. However, the before and after pictures are only part of the story. More than likely, most people will have experienced a minor or major setback and recovered from it. Here are 4 key sources of minor and major setbacks

1. Frustration/hair misbehaving : Minor Setback
Have you ever tried to style your hair in order to leave the house for an event and it just will not behave? You can easily end up raking through it multiple times with a comb or misting too much water on it such that it starts to shrink and cause you more styling problems. You may soon start to see tiny little coils on the floor which are definite signs that you have damaged your hair ends. These damaged ends can then begin to split continuously and therefore lead to stagnation in hair length.

To avoid this type of setback, always trial your style before the event so that you know what difficulties you may experience. Additionally, always have a fall back plan which can work should you mess up. Hair accessories and simple buns often can rescue you from raking through your hair with a comb.

2. Over-expectation of Results from Hair Products: Minor or Major Setback
In hair forums I have often seen people ask what can they do about hair that is brittle or hair that breaks badly during detangling. The answer is almost always to include protein in the conditioning step or to step up moisturising. Hair conditioners are fantastic products but they really cannot ‘fix’ hair in this way and their effects are only temporary.

If your hair is constantly breaking, you need to look for a mechanical reason first and foremost. The primary reason that the hair breaks is because it is being handled not because of the product you are using on it. Develop a really critical eye when you are handling your hair, including during low impact finger detangling or conditioner detangling. If you see breakage, immediately use less physical force to separate the strands and split your hair into even smaller sections so that you handle less hair at a time.

3. Too little Heat : Major Setback
Usually you will be warned about high heat and we all know how damaging that can be, but low heat could cause just as much damage. As an example for a straight style, a slightly higher heat setting may allow you to pass over a flat-iron once but a lower setting requires you to pass it over several times. You should select the setting that gives you one pass rather than the several passes. Naturally this setting should be as low as possible e.g if you can get the result you want at 180F then pick that setting instead of 200F.

All this said, I am a great proponent of naturals on a hair growth journey generally avoiding heat use altogether. However, if this is not for you, educate yourself on proper use of heat and make sure that if you are going to a hairstylist, that they too are careful with heat on your hair.

4. The Hairdresser’s Inch: Major Setback
Many naturals shudder at the thought of trimming their own hair and therefore choose to go to a hairdresser to do it. However, many hairdressers overestimate what an inch is and can end up cutting off significantly more than what you request verbally.

To avoid this type of setback, select a hairdresser you trust, who is familiar and confident with dealing with your type of natural hair. If you can, go to the salon and see how clients are handled. Additionally, physically hold a lock of your hair in your hands and show your hairdresser how much you want cut off. Do not doze off in the middle of the trim, some hairdressers will still cut off more than you requested especially if they feel your ends would look better. Do not feel bad about asking for what you want, it is a service you are paying for.

Ladies, have you dealt with any of these setbacks?

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annette_b
annette_b
7 years ago

I’ve definitely learned my lesson about using a comb on my hair. When I first started growing out my hair, I decided no heat and no comb. I don’t even remember why I started combing it but I did, and I’ve lost a good third of the length, if not more. I noticed more hair in the sink and on the floor but I convinced myself that it was just the ‘loose’ strands. Well, lesson learned. I threw the comb away yesterday and just like that the curls and texture that I’ve been wondering what happened to are back. Now… Read more »

DarLai
DarLai
7 years ago
Reply to  annette_b

You don’t use a comb??? How do you detangle?

Candice
Candice
7 years ago
Reply to  DarLai

A lot of natural use their fingers to detangle their hair. It works.

A+
A+
7 years ago
Reply to  Candice

I agree about the comb. My first year natural I combed and lost a lot of hair. Once I stopped using a wide tooth comb (even starting at the ends with small sections) and started finger detangling I kept the thickness on my fine strands.

Shahidah
7 years ago
Reply to  A+

hmmmm maybe I will do the no comb as a challege. How do you style? More updos? I never thought about doing this. I really don’t have what I consider to be a lot of hair loss when I comb but even if I could hang on to that bit i could be farther along in my desired length

Caramelcurls
Caramelcurls
7 years ago

In my year and a half of being natural, I am thankful that my hair is healthy and growing. I work hard to keep it moisturized and nourished. I can relate to #2. I have learned to NEVER wash/condition my hair when I am extremely tired, this leads to sloppy detangling, which can result in breakage. Also I’ve learned to take the time to style my hair and not do it in such a hurry that I am pulling and tugging. Being GENTLE is key!

JazzWife
7 years ago

I had a medically induced setback which caused me to lose at 60% of my hair. Had to stop taking what the doctor suggested I take and now my hair is on its way back. But hair loss — at any age or for any reason — is a real challenge.

fuzzgirl
fuzzgirl
7 years ago
Reply to  JazzWife

I thought it was just me…i’ve be on this healthy hair journey for maybe two months now. It started off great then it seem like all of a sudden my hair is in the sink. It’s a little frustrating when you believe your doing the right things for your hair. I am not hard on my hair at all. I keep it moisturized rub my scalp. I am not ready to give up, but i am tired of seeing hair in my sink every morning. What am I doing wrong?

Dananana
Dananana
7 years ago
Reply to  fuzzgirl

What have you been eating/drinking? Have you not been able to keep up with your normal exercise regimen lately? Something I’ve learned recently is that external factors only affect my hair so much–internal factors, such as what I’m eating, how much water I’m drinking, and how much I’m exercising, have just as much, if not more of an effect on my hair’s strength/growth as external factors. Since I’ve started drinking about 1–2L of water a day, exercising hard twice a week, and eating more vegetables, I’ve noticed my hair seems much more healthy, and any breakage I incur is a… Read more »

fuzzgirl
fuzzgirl
7 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

To be honest, I don’t drink as much water as I should but I do drink water. My veggie intake is pretty good. I eat a lot of fish and walnuts too. I’ve changed my diet pretty much after reading a lot of websites. I do need to exercise a little more. I am trying to figure it out. Thanks for that advise.

shelikes
shelikes
7 years ago
Reply to  fuzzgirl

In my experience, it takes a long time to get hair healthy, especially if you are coming off of relaxers, heat and color. You have to figure up on a plan that gets your follicles healthy so that your hair will grow out healthy. It took me several years of hard work through trial and error to come up with the right regimen for my hair. 2 months is nothing. But now that I have come up with a good program, my hair growth has increased and hair loss is pretty minimal. Have patience. Do your research.

fuzzgirl
fuzzgirl
7 years ago
Reply to  fuzzgirl

No relaxers, no color all natural.…I am just using better products and got my hair on a whole new program. Yea, I know 2 months isn’t nothing, but my hair texture is a lot different now. It’s a lot softer. I was thinking my hair shedding because it is in shock and it didn’t know how to respond to the natural products. I am slowly getting it together, I hope. I write down everything i put in my hair and how it responds. Thanks ladies.

Erica
Erica
7 years ago

I have experienced that hair dressers inch a couple times. I find that when I have a regular stylist seasoned in natural hair I feel confident and don’t lose too much hair when getting trims. But anytime I’ve ever just randomly went to a salon for a trim I loose like 4+ inches. Another setback that wasn’t mentioned (for me and my head) is coloring. I only ever had my hair professionally colored. It wasn’t dry. It just didn’t appear to be growing. I thought I had reached my terminal length. Then I decided to stop and let it grow… Read more »

Sojourner
7 years ago

I have fine strands of hair so a comb is a no no for me too! I see a lot less breakage now that I finger detangle. I don’t care how wide the teeth are, a comb is not touching my head! Lol.

W
W
7 years ago

It took me more than 10 years to realize that I was to strong when handling my hair. Now I’m trying the no comb method but I’m not sure I will be able to manage my tangles without because my hair tends to tangle A LOT !!!! Still experiencing.

cococrispecurl
7 years ago
Natasha
Natasha
7 years ago

Comb is a no-no. That’s also why I don’t let anyone do my hair anymore because they butcher my fragile strands with the comb. I only comb my hair when it has conditioner or when it is damp. I will take the whole afternoon to carefully comb my hair.

Joanna Gray
7 years ago

Sometimes the biggest challenge is finding the right hair expert to style your hair. There are lots out there who claim that they are good but are actually not. The internet provides lots of information about it though so you can search there.

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago

I just had a devastating setback with my natural hair that was past my shoulders about bsl. I usually would give my hair a break with sew ins and decided to be experimental with the braid less sew in. I lost 4 inches of hair and uneven on one side. I was horrified. Now I have to start over and afraid I won’t get it back to where it was. Any feedback tips?
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