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?