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Accepting Knots, Cutting Down on Trims and Other Practices that Didn’t Ruin My Hair Journey

Avatar • Oct 28, 2013

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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?

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JENNID
JENNID
7 years ago

Good article Geniece. I can identify this post. This year I have changed much and my hair sighing in relief 1. Dropped wet detangling. This was the #1 cause of breakage for me. I was stumped for years as to why I wasn’t retaining length. Stop doing this( along with handling my hair very little when wet) and my hair has retained length and breakage is contained. 2. I too have given up on the knot battle. I finger detangle the big major bits and move on. I am now of the opinion that 4b/c fine hair will never be… Read more »

Kelly
Kelly
7 years ago
Reply to  JENNID

I also stopped spritzing my hair with water everyday. I used to worry that my hair would not get enough moisture if I didn’t apply water to it daily. Now, I look at hair the same way I look at clothes. Hair is a fiber, washing things over and over fades the fabric and wears it down. So, dousing years old hair with water daily probably wears it down too. I mean look at what water does to rocks and rock formations over time. I use water when I shampoo and condition and save the spray bottle for my plants.

Willy
6 years ago
Reply to  JENNID

I think she needs a proximity alarm. When the dcivee on the pillow gets more than X’ from the sensor she’s wearing, an alarm sounds, flashes, and vibrates, ideally.I’ve played a little of the pillow game myself (with that very same mom). You’re best off doing some proactive pillow wrangling.

SJ
SJ
7 years ago

Every once in a while, BGLH features the realest “It ain’t that serious”-type articles, and I LOVE it! I have naturally fine hair, which meant that early on in my journey I was doing the absolute most. I was mixing my own “organic” products, trimming every knot in sight, scheduling daily when to moisturize and dust,scheduled trims even when it wasn’t really needed, checking for “hard” water, making sure my hair was always as detangled as possible, etc…All of these things can potentially be good practices on their own, but together they were taking up TOO much of my time… Read more »

DreamGirl
DreamGirl
7 years ago

I have always felt a bit discombobulated with all the natural hair rules,being the simpletin I am,it has been a challenge for me and I have found myself staring at relaxers in the store contemplating just throwing in the towel. When I had relaxed hair,i kept it very simple and my hair thrived but with all this new found hair knowledge my hair has remained at the same length for years. I decided to adopt the same “keep it simple” attitude that i had with my relaxed hair and I have seen immediate results and have saved money and time. I didn’t… Read more »

Ings
Ings
7 years ago
Reply to  DreamGirl

PREACH. Sometimes, there is that one comment that COMPLETELY encompasses EXACTLY how you’ve been feeling. THIS is that comment. It’s like I spoke to you a few weeks ago (or maybe even the day before yesterday) and yet, I have no idea who you are. I am so excited b/c I’m going to get a good winter trim next week and then it’s back to the simple hairstyle life for me. The “rules” got so overwhelming that it became impossible to see beautiful hair and appreciate it. For a while all I saw was time, sore arms, and hours spent… Read more »

Mimi
Mimi
7 years ago

1. i’m dropping wet detangling, damp with a brush and coconut oil or dry with my hands and coconut oil works best. wet detangling is just annoying, hair is curling up and forming knots whilts you’re separating them!
2. reduced moisturisation to once-twice a week
3. no overnight deep conditions, 10–30 minutes with a heat cap and i’m done.

Mimi
Mimi
7 years ago
Reply to  Mimi

Forgot to mention, i don’t do anything to the knots in my hair too, but it’s not a cut down per se, because since the begining of my natural hair journey i have never really bothered about them, it seemed too tedious and looked like “fixing” it would require a great deal of sanity/insanity,gentleness and the hands and patience of an angel. so, heck no!

Gheniya
6 years ago
Reply to  Mimi

Hi there! Yes, after using it just one time, I went back to Walmart and stocked up on it. It was very inxipenseve also. I’ve finally found a product that can handle the 2 different textures going on in my head!

Kelly
Kelly
7 years ago
Reply to  Mimi

1. Wet detangling. That’s what a lot of naturals preached for years. So many of them still do it. One YT vlogger does it right in the shower with the water running. Different strokes, but doesn’t that run up the water bill and cause hair to clog up the drainpipe? Three vloggers, the sista from Urban Bush Babes, 1Ballerina, and Sera2544 hipped me to dry-detangling with oil, my fingers (a comb if I want) and it’s wonderful! Less painful, less time-consuming. 2. Also, I ditched my Denman brush. I know some swear by it or their modified Denman but I… Read more »

Monica
Monica
7 years ago

How do you guys always detangle your hair so fast?? I’m barely BSL and it takes me an hour and a half to detangle with my wide tooth comb. I have to be very gentle with my fine strands but I wish I could down my detangling time!

Gina
Gina
7 years ago
Reply to  Monica

Agreed. It usually takes me two hours to detangle and my hair is only collar-bone-length. It took this long ever since I started detangling!

Judy
Judy
7 years ago
Reply to  Monica

My hair JUST hits my shoulders (I’m 4b, low porosity) — I *ONLY* detangle my hair when it has conditioner in it, when I’m washing my hair!

Before I get in the shower, I section my hair into 6 sections (two in the top, middle, bottom each) — shampoo, slather on loads of conditioner and let it sit while I scrub my body (“Too Shea! Extra Moisturising Conditioner” gives me SO much slip), and detangle as I rinse it out. Barely any trouble for me, takes only 30–40min total 🙂

Grace
Grace
7 years ago
Reply to  Monica

use a silicone based conditioner, you might think is bad for yor hair, i was in the same situation where I wanted to use natural products but my hair didn’t like it, in a washing sesion my hair was a matted mess, tangled and miserable, I got out the shower, went to Target and bought suave shea butter conditioner, voila!! my hair was detangled in less than 10 minutes, yes silicones can be your hair best friend, even though some want to demonize them, you most use what works for you!!

LBell
LBell
7 years ago

OMG! Do you have any idea how many minds I’ve blown in the past when I’ve said, “I don’t worry about SSKs?” lol 🙂 I have done, and actually currently am doing, ALL of the above. 1. See above 2. Since I’ve been experimenting with keeping my hair super-stretched and washing every other week I’ve only technically been moisturizing at the one-week halfway mark. That’s when I spritz my hair with a mix of AVJ and water before applying the whipped shea butter and plaiting it up for the night. 3. Every time I comb my hair I give myself a trim, so there.… Read more »

biancarichards
biancarichards
7 years ago
Reply to  LBell

i agree, i do the typical twice à week deep conditioning and everyday i moisturise my hair with Oyin Hair Dew, seal with coconut oil or jojoba or argan and Oyin Whipped pudding, i’really have to do the LOC method everyday otherwise less moisture. I recently discovered that by braiding my hair in 2 braids before bed and before going to school is a huge moisture-saver and less puffy hair, amazing. As i am transitioning from about almot 2 years (BSL, 4A but it’s comig looser to a 3something), i’m not the girl trimming often or wearing protective style but… Read more »

girl
girl
7 years ago
Reply to  LBell

does your hair break every time you comb it, or are you doing lil trims every time you comb? I missed the joke…soz

Jesse
Jesse
7 years ago

I like this article. I haven’t trimmed my hair since June, and I’ve been really concerned that I’m harming my hair because of this. My hair has grown a lot since then. I don’t do long-term protective styles. However, for about 5 days a week, my hair is in a protective style. Doublespeak? Well, lately, I’ve been keeping my regimen super simple. I just wear a cute, flat-twisted style throughout the week (think goddess braid style but with a flat twist); I deep condition every weekend. Updo styles keep my hair stretched, which reduces tangles. However, I like that the… Read more »

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago
Reply to  Jesse

I haven’t trimmed mine since May and I did a twist out over the weekend and it just doesn’t look right. My ends need to be trimmed they look freyed and it makes my hair look bad. So it is time for a trim. Not to mention wet my hair is very short do to shrinkage, but if I blow dry it and its stretched its right below my ears, so I hope that my twist and braid outs look better.

Jesse
Jesse
7 years ago
Reply to  Tabatha

Tabatha I feel your pain. My hair does look less than its absolute best because of my ends and the overall shape of my grown out hair cut (which was a shabby hair cut that I did myself). Updo styles for the win! Philadelphia has tons of naturals but I swear it took me an eternity to find a well reviewed salon that can style and cut natural hair. It’s a serious struggle to find a salon as a natural.

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago

Well I’m glad that you figured out your hair. I can’t use Tresemme anymore unfortunately. It just doesn’t work well in my hair. So far natural stuff is doing well. I don’t spend an arm and a leg on organic. A lot of the time I make my own and it cost less then even if I did get something with “cones” in it.

Right now my focus is getting a twist out or braid out to look right. Lol.

TMC (toronto meetup nov 16)

- great article! I’ve learned to embrace ssks, because it’s something that i’ve been trying so hard to get rid of in the last two years. I also prefer it over split ends because the knots stops the ends from splitting any futher. so it’s actualy a blessing — I sometimes use silicone (serum) to seal my hair, I can;t get used to greasy hair — sulphate is still a part of my regimen, though I plan to replace it with black soap — I only moisturize twice a week — overnight DC is completely dumb — I trim every 3months only… Read more »

Cherie Jtm
7 years ago

Great article! I’ve also learnt to NOT finger detangle in the shower, there’s way too much breakage and I learnt that the hair is more sensitive when wet, will def not try that again. I’m learning to accept the knots and only finger detangle the bigger parts.

Flynfab
Flynfab
7 years ago

I have come to the realization that I was doing way too much on wash day. I don’t pre detangle with conditioner soaked hair and wash in sections anymore, for a long time I was convinced this was the only to approach wash day for 4b‑c hair. One wash day I was just really tired and hopped in the shower afro and all and washed it free, only pulling out the shed hairs that were easy to find. This was an amazing revelation for me! Lost much less hair detangling and washing this way and cut way down on time.… Read more »

D.D
D.D
7 years ago

I tried to follow the “rules” two and my hair hated it. I can not detangle wet with conditioner my hair just falls out. I can not use protein conditioners of any kind to often. I try to detangle my hair well but ssk are not the end of the world. I use a minimal amount of products for everything and my hair is much better. Rules are made to be broken.

Smallfro
Smallfro
7 years ago

I am a work in progress. On the journey for ridiculously long hair — I have found myself to be a little obsessive. Stuck at 9–10 inches of hair for a while. This is the longest my hair has been my entire life. But I want so bad to get to hanging down past my shoulders. Probably taking a step back would be a good idea.

lablooplah
lablooplah
7 years ago
Reply to  Smallfro

i’ve learnt that there is alot of freedom in enjoying your hair just as it is. The rest will follow.

D. Broussard
7 years ago

I completely agree! I use and practice whatever works for my hair. In the first year of being natural I did avoid cone based products, and detangled often, and cowashed all the time. I also didnt use heat for a year. Now that I am in my 2nd-3rd year of being natural, I find that many of these practices arent necessary, at least not for my crop! I try to cowash at most every 2 weeks. I rarely use shampoo; only when I have an itchy scalp or my hair feels laden with products. I detangle about every two weeks, and… Read more »

D. Broussard
7 years ago
Reply to  D. Broussard

This picture is also from about 3 months ago, my hair is getting longer out of nowhere! XD

girl
girl
7 years ago

i’m the best naturalista stoner ever! even when im stoned i still manage to moisturise my hair and put on my head scarf before bed. ^.^/

lablooplah
lablooplah
7 years ago

what i’ve learned in my second year as a naturalista. My hair doesn’t like protective styling at all.

Suzan, UK
Suzan, UK
7 years ago

This article is on point.…..

Karen
Karen
7 years ago

We must remember to KISS our hair; keep it simple sweetheart. I read about some naturals wash day and I’m blown away. Seriously ain’t Nobody got time for all that stuff some do. Pre-poo, shampoo deep condition and on and on. Ain’t nobody got time for all that. I detangle while applying conditioner. Get under steamer then rinse and style. I’m not willing to make my hair like a weekly fulltime job. My hair is almost BSL and my regime Very simple…

kiki
kiki
7 years ago

im overwhelmed.…..im in Africa..Ghana to be precise…all these hair rules make me dizzy cos the products u use cant be found here.….thank God for dis article…now i no i can use my shea butter and be just ok.…wheew!

Melissa
Melissa
6 years ago

This whole natural hair journey has been a wonderful, but confusing one. I used to relax my very long hair twice a year, by putting in the relaxer and washing it immediately out. I got compliments on my hair all the time. Then I finally got the courage to go natural after about a year, when I was overdue for a relaxer. I chopped off about 7 inches or so, and still had enough hair to make a puffy ponytail. I loves it! Now, it’s been 6 more months, and I feel like my hair is getting too long and… Read more »

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