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4 Mistakes that Keep Your Natural Hair Short

Avatar • Dec 4, 2013

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As always when the year is about to end, it is a time to reflect on how much progress your hair has made. I truly salute every single person who has seen their hair flourish this year and I do certainly hope that it will continue over the next years (plural!) to come. If you are struggling and have not been able to see progress, then here are 4 mistakes that you may be guilty of and knowing them may help you see a real gain in the next 2–3 months and beyond!

1. Throwing everything and the kitchen sink at your hair to solve stagnant hair
Here is an example, Miss A used to dry finger detangle, deep condition, wash her hair once a week and style her hair in twists for protective styling. She decides that dry finger detangling may be causing breakage to her hair as she notices the most hair loss during that process. Miss A should therefore attempt to finger detangle with conditioner/oil or conditioner comb in order to assess if her hypothesis is true. However, if Miss A decided in addition to switch to sulfate free products, deep condition for 1 hour instead of her usual 20 minutes, trimmed her hair, decided to include a co-wash every 3 days and decided to try bunning her free hair instead of twisting all at the same time, how would she really be able to know whether finger detangling was the problem? If you decide to throw everything at your hair and hope that one of those things solves a problem, it will always be hit and miss. If you do however, revamp your routine by strategically change 1 or 2 things at a time, you will be able to quickly eliminate techniques that do not work and learn what your hair really does like.

2. Forgetting about your previous mistakes

You may have fully revamped your hair routine and adopted techniques that start helping your hair gain length before all of a sudden your hair inexplicably starts to break. Faced with this situation, it would not be unexpected for anyone to think that the new routine is no longer working, however, this may not actually be the case. If you mishandled your hair 6 months or 1 year ago, the wear inflicted on the hair may come back to bite you 1–2 years later rather than instantaneously. This is very often true when hair is less sensitive to heat or rough treatment. Therefore, if you have managed to sail along happily with few to no trims for 1 year or more and then get unexplained breakage, do consider trimming some inches off your ends and see if it makes a difference.

3. Allowing your hair to stagnate for over 6 months
You should be able to see some progress in your hair length every 2–3 months. If you do not see even a small gain in that period, you should know that you need to reconsider your routine. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that it takes time to gain length so just keep being patient. This statement is true but only if you are actually gaining length. If you are not, then you need to go back to the drawing board and reassess what you can do over the next 2–3 months to get a gain in length.

4. Over reliance on products to fix breakage problems. 

Often when the question is posed that hair is shedding/breaking more than usual, the almost immediate answer that forums and many bloggers will provide is that a protein treatment will fix the issue. The problem with this answer is that protein treatments are temporary and simply slow down the inevitable conclusion which is that the hair will break. If you are serious about solving breakage issues, look first for a mechanical reason (combing, styling, manipulation frequency, detangling, trimming requirement) or a chemical reason (bleaching, permanent colour, change of environment). Your hair may well benefit from protein to help strengthen and moisturise it but breakage issues are very rarely solved by products alone.

Ladies, have you been guilty of any of these mistakes? What would you add to the list?

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About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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Redseouls
Redseouls
6 years ago

Thanks Jc!

Jc
Jc
6 years ago
Reply to  Redseouls

You are welcome 🙂

Etain
Etain
6 years ago

I so to print this!

Etain
Etain
6 years ago

must print this!

Etain
Etain
6 years ago
Reply to  Etain

Whoop’s I printed the same thing twice!

Elle
Elle
6 years ago

Good article!

1. Strengtheners such as protein and lauric acid (coconut oil, palm kernel oil), make my coarse hair super hard and instantly snap my ends off.

2. Alkaline products. Anything above pH 7.5 causes INSTANT breakage and weak hair — and no advice, super product or technique has ever changed that fact.

Otherwise my hair is strong, healthy, retains lots of length and is very low-maintenance.

cottoncandylocks
6 years ago
Reply to  Elle

till this day i’m afraid of using coconut oil in my regime, makes my hair stiff as hell!

Jaybabe
Jaybabe
6 years ago

I just use it as a prepoo, and its great!

Sharon
Sharon
6 years ago

I thought i was the only one . idk my hair does not like coconut oil as a pre poo i only use it for my ends when i braid it . but on my scalp forget it lol it’s not a friendly oil for my hair

Natural Kinky Curly Marie
Natural Kinky Curly Marie
5 years ago
Reply to  Sharon

Good evening Sharon, have you tried mixing the coconut oil with another carrier oil such as Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil or Sweet Almond oil? Some people just don’t do well using the coconut oil alone. If not then listen to your hair and avoid it all together.

Valerie
Valerie
6 years ago

Awesome article. Love the point about 2 to 3 month progress.

luvnM3napturally
luvnM3napturally
6 years ago

Over conditioning my hair with protein conditioners and using coconut oil. My hair does not like too much coconut oil, it causes it to harden and my ends become super hard.

la*belle
la*belle
6 years ago

This article is right on time. I haven’t had terrible length retention but it hasn’t been fantastic either. It’s my first year natural though, so I needed to figure out my hair’s needs and likes first. We shall see what the next twelve months bring using the advice mentioned above.

Caray
Caray
6 years ago

What is considered short hair, length wise??

Anna
6 years ago
Reply to  Caray

I would say 6–7 inches or less 🙂

PMS
PMS
6 years ago

Good advice! I would like to retain more length but I have just come to accept the fact that my natural hair breaks very very easily. Like if I fart too loud my hair breaks off. So I just try to take a multivit, use organic products, and treat my hair gently. Honestly what has helped me the most in length retention is making sure my nails are filed and do not have any chips or splits to prevent my hair from snagging during finger detangling and styling sessions. After I started to take care of my nails the amount… Read more »

Kade
Kade
6 years ago
Reply to  PMS

The fart thing was totally unexpected!! I literally had tears in my eyes reading this. I LOL’d too hard at this for no particular reason. Thanks for the laugh!!

Essence350
Essence350
6 years ago
Reply to  PMS

Girl, you had me cracking up

coffeeandfingernails
6 years ago

Number 2 was definitely an issue for me. After finally nailing down the set of products and practices that work for my hair,I realized I was going to have to cut off my hair to get rid of damage incurred while I was still learning. Pouted about it for a little while but my hair is flourishing and no more scraggly ends.

MsPhyl
MsPhyl
6 years ago

I also have been trying to nail down the proper products for my hair. Just did another trims (2x this month) bc of breaking ends — not happy all. I’m going back to my old routine and old products. I like ION products. I don’t usually see ION products being reviewed, by my 4 type hair flourish with them. I have incorporate the LCO method instead of LOC.

nicole
nicole
6 years ago

What’s with this obsessions with long hair? Just let it do what it do baby!

mimi
mimi
6 years ago
Reply to  nicole

Well it is called black girl long hair, oil On a serious note though it should be wanting healthy hair and healthy hair retains length. I don’t get People that say” I don’t want long hair I just want it to be healthy” and their hair is still short (without them trimming it themselves). Its an excuse healthy hair will retain length and look good. On the flip side thogh’ not all long hair is healthy, because some of them are so see through its like out of a million strands only 10 is reaching ones hips! I don’t want that… Read more »

Traci Lee
Traci Lee
6 years ago

I really don’t understand how to work with this natural hair think… It’s very stressful for me. I don’t know how to tell what my hair likes to be completely honest lol. I’ll keep these things in mind though.

mangomadness
mangomadness
6 years ago

My biggest hair mistake was detangling in a way not suited for my hair.

I used to detangle on soaking wet, conditioner-soaked hair after shampoo-ing with a shower comb followed by a (faux) Denman brush. This method tore my dense, 4b/c hair up — excessive breakage, thinned ends, etc.

Now I finger-detangle on stretched, sectioned (12), dampened (glycerin spritz), and conditioner-coated hair before shampoo-ing. I experience less breakage and more pleasant detangling sessions.

JENNID
JENNID
6 years ago
Reply to  mangomadness

Mango this was my issue at the beginning of the year. I stopped shower detangling and low and behold the split ends went way and I stopped clogging my shower drain with what I thought was shed hair lol. I too finger detangle. I mist my hair lightly with water, apply my warm oil treatment, and let it set for 1/2 hour then finger detangle or gently comb. Hair is so soft and well oiled I am done in 1/2 hour. I only haft a tiny ball of hair when I’m done.

winismile
6 years ago
Reply to  JENNID

Hi Jennid Your answer has really intrigued me and warning bells are coming up!!! Loads of hair always comes out when I wash my hair, I have to unclog the sink at least three times in three months!. I need to know if you detangle when in the shower or you hang your head over the sink? I mean I thought it was shed hair — I mean isn’t it?? This has got me worried and might explain why my hair has had so much trouble getting longer!! I had changed up other things too but I probably have been… Read more »

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Christinia Peake
Christinia Peake
6 years ago

Its a good idea to try to stop doing certain things you usually do one by one to narrow down what causing the problem to your hair.

breeezy1030
breeezy1030
6 years ago

The main thing that causing breakage for me is not detangling my hair at night. It starts off nice and soft, conditioned and lush after wash day, and then like 3 days later I have slacked off and just settle for a spritzing with glycerin mix and call it a day. Or, a week. By the time I wash again (1–2 weeks), my hair is super tangled and full of knots. I detangle in the shower because thats the only thing that will work (water pressure and Aussie Moist). I lose alot of hair, which I thought was normal shedding,… Read more »

sunflowergirl321
sunflowergirl321
4 years ago

hi, i am trying to grow my hair, and have problems with snagging, and single strand knots a lot, i think the first question was right for me about how to take care of my hair. i did not know how to properly take care of my hair, because the product i am using is by a jewish/caucasian companies who are over sheamoisture. That is okay, but the problem is that their culture is being combined with our culture of how to take care of the hair. I am having a hard time with this because of the fact that… Read more »

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