By nature I like to stick to the rules. I read the instructions before assembling appliances, follow recipes almost to a “t” and signal when changing lanes (even when there isn’t traffic directly behind me). So when it comes to hair care, I was Ms. Follow the Rules after I began my healthy hair journey. Now, I realize there numerous “rules” and hair advice tips that vary across the board. In general, however, I identified the most commonly cited hair care tips and followed them, religiously. I washed my hair at least every seven days, alternated between a protein and a moisturizing deep conditioner during my weekly washes and wore protective styles every.single.day. As a reward for being Ms. Rules for the first six months of my hair journey my hair reached shoulder length for the first time in the five years of my natural hair journey. Suffice it to say that following the rules paid off. Over time, mostly due to laziness, I slacked on following some of the aforementioned hair rules expecting that I would deal with the inevitable consequences. Something unexpected happened, however. My hair continued to retain length, my hair remained moisturized and I saved time. So, what are the practices I thought would ruin my hair journey but didn’t? Here they are.
1. Letting my Knots be Knots
This is the kind of advice that I don’t pass along all willy nilly to novice naturalistas. I don’t want someone ending up with a matted, knotted mess and needing to cut off five inches of hair just because of advice I shared. Still, this is the greatest revelation for MY hair that I’ve discovered over the last year. I used to use a wide tooth comb to detangle each section and follow up with a smaller toothed comb. Now…please! I use my Sagemann Hercules wide tooth comb on each section after I coat it with a slippery conditioner, pin it up and I’m on to the next section of hair. Using my old method of detangling it would probably take me 1.5 to 2 hours to detangle my hair at its current length (a little past waist length). Now, I’m done in about 45 minutes. Moreover, I don’t detangle my hair after it’s been washed in twisted sections. It’s detangled, twisted, washed and styled. The end. Once you figure out what works, let your knots be knots and save yourself some time!
2. Losing My Obsession with Moisturizing
Okay, this subtitle may be somewhat deceptive because I believe it is important to have moisturized hair so as not to cause brittleness or breakage. However, I no longer moisturize my hair every day or even every other day. This is especially true if I’m wearing a protective style. I still advise those seeking advice to regularly moisturize because until someone understands the idiosyncrasies of their hair I recommend erring on the side of caution. For me, I now realize that my hair will let me know when it needs to be moisturized. I no longer feel the need to indiscriminately moisturize my hair just “because”.
3. Trimming… Whenever
I usually trim my hair on the rare occasion that I do a blow out or when I wear mini-twists. Because I don’t wear either style often my hair isn’t trimmed regularly…and that’s okay. If you engage in damaging practices you do need to be more conscientious of how your hair is responding and trim on a more regular basis. In my case, however, trimming every 2, 3, or 4 months is not a general rule that I follow. As a result depending on my hair routine I will trim fewer times some years than others. This year, for example, I completed graduate school, relocated and started a new job. The busyness of 2013 has meant that I’ve wanted to keep my hair out of sight and out of mind. My hair has therefore been in protected pinned up style and required less trimming than it did in years when I have more time and opportunity to style it using heat.
4. Returning to Less Natural Products
I’ve never been one to spend a lot of money on products because it was organic or natural. However, if I could find a relatively inexpensive product that professed to be “natural” I assumed it might be better for my hair. Now, I prioritize products that will make my hair most manageable, even if it is loaded with all the things on the “Don’t” lists of natural hair recommendations. This is primarily true with my conditioners. I have returned to my silicone filled (hangs head in shame…not really) conditioners I used to use when I didn’t know any better. Tresemme’s Curly Hydration is currently my main detangling conditioner during my pre-poo and my hair has yet to suffer. I will say that I won’t return to sulfates or oils like petroleum, mainly because I don’t like how those products make my hair feel. If one of you readers do use those products, hey I won’t judge.
So, what healthy hair practices have you changed that haven’t hurt your hair progress?