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4 Unconventional Methods For Maintaining Long Natural Hair

Avatar • Jan 24, 2014
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Geniece’s Natural Hair

One of the unexpected consequences of having long natural hair (mid back length or longer in my case) was that many people assumed that I practiced “perfect” hair care.  I suppose this is to be expected. After all, if I had the body of Pilar Sanders or Nicole Murphy most would assume that I had a pretty solid exercise regime. The difference with hair from other parts of our body is that fact that you can get to the point where shortcuts or unorthodox methods not only help maintain your hair but may also help your hair to thrive. Physical fitness, by contrast, is an ongoing commitment.  Case in point: my hair now takes less effort than it did when it was 6 or 8 inches shorter.  Part of this has to do with the fact that I’ve become better able to accomplish certain parts of my regimen but I’ve also adopted some shortcuts that make managing my hair easier.

One thing I can’t emphasize enough with unconventional methods is the fact that they are UNCONVENTIONAL. These may very well not work for you, but you might also find that some of them make your life a little bit easier.

1. Ends Only In Between Washes

In between hair washing you will not find me combing my hair out from root to tip. If I need to restyle my hair or freshen up a look I may detangle only the last 3 or 4 inches of my hair, while finger detangling the rest. If you wash your hair every 7–14 days, and thoroughly detangle, I have found that there is no need to spend time removing tangles in between washes. I also find that I diminish the chance of breaking my hair due to over manipulation. Once your hair has reached a certain length you risk breakage not because you don’t know how to care for your hair, but because of impatience due to over complicated regimens.  Less is truly more when it comes to manipulation, which I choose to reserve for only a handful of times during the month.

2. Being Okay with Knots

Yeah, I said it. If you detangle before you wash, no need to detangle again after you’ve washed. Likewise, if you prefer to detangle after washing your hair, no need to detangle prior to washing. When my hair was a lot shorter I detangled because I thought that if a single knot remained in my hair that it would somehow create one giant super knot, resulting in a necessary haircut.  This simply is not the case. Detangling removes shed hair and the knots created during the week.  Any knots created during my washing or styling that week will eventually be detangled during the next wash session. Now, if you notice a big ole knot in the mirror while you’re getting ready, obviously remove it (preferably with your fingers). But do not feel that you need to get “every single one” in order for your hair to be healthy.  Honestly, with highly textured hair, being knot free is a losing battle. Plus, you won’t hinder your hair progress. If anything, your hair will thrive because it’s being left alone.

3. Fairy Knots. What are those?

I was OBSESSED with fairy knots, also known as, single strand knots early in my hair growth journey. Now, I simply don’t stress over them because I’ve realized that they don’t hinder my hair journey. I honestly don’t even think about these little pesky knots anymore and have found that year after year my grows as long as I allow it and looks just as lovely even with a few mini knots sprinkled in. Like a fine fabric hair may have an idiosyncrasy here or there, but overall if it looks good and feels good, I won’t stress. It may be heretical to say this, but these little knots aren’t as dangerous to your hair progress as you may think.

4. So, about trimming?

There are a number of posts on this blog about trimming.  I’ve gone from being pretty serious about trimming my hair every 3 months to being more relaxed about trimming my ends. Since reaching arm pit length I search and destroy (search for and cut split ends) every 3 months and trim about once a year. Because I very, very, rarely wear my hair straightened an even trim is unnecessary. Cutting perfectly healthy ends off with split ends is not necessary and, if my goal is length retention, may lengthen the time it takes for me to achieve my hair goals.

What unconventional methods do you include in your hair regimen?

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nappy headed black girl

I love the tips. It sounds like she basically subscribes to a low manipulation routine, which I’m all for.

I also like what she said about trims. I’ve always thought the “every six weeks you must trim your hair” was more for aesthetics than necessity.

My non-conventional method is not twisting my dreads. I’ve had people tell me you’re “supposed” to do so, as if there’s only one way to rock dreads. Tuh.

Kaila P
Kaila P
6 years ago

Beacuse people barely wear free form locs these days, that’s why they tell you to do so. But honestly the twisting seems so unhealthy when certain people do it because it seems like their scalp is under a lot of strain

mangomadness
mangomadness
6 years ago

1. I don’t detangle between my weekly washes because it’s unnecessary. I just manipulate the stretched, separated ‘tendrils’ of hair. 2. I detangle before washing, wash in twists and style right afterward. Detangling again post-wash would be overkill. I also don’t feel the need to get very single knots, just most. 3. I have never payed single strand knots any mind. I take them to be a natural feature of highly textured hair. They have not hindered my length retention. 4. I trim my ends every 4 months so. Most of the time I do it when my ends begin to tangle… Read more »

HortonHearsA...
HortonHearsA...
6 years ago

I hate ssks, they make my hair feel rough to the touch especially at the ends. I know they are impossible to fight but can’t help trying. I also cut the ends of my hair rather than search and destroy. I am okay with not over detangling and I do not comb my ends between washes as opposed to the OP.

lablooplah
lablooplah
6 years ago

I have the most random way of washing my hair but it works for me. So I start by defining my curls with conditioner,braid my hair into four sections, let it sit in for about 10 minutes because i’m usually in a hurry, got other things to do, get acv in a color applicator bottle and massage the acv onto my scalp and rub the remainder of the acv on my hair which is still in braids. After that I unbraid one section after the other while letting the water run on my hair helping me detangle the hair. re-braid,… Read more »

Tabatha_Frm_ Ri
Tabatha_Frm_ Ri
6 years ago

Wonderful tips. please remember one person regiment is not one
size fits all. You should learn your hair(s) needs and want and, what work best for you. (JMP))

NappyGirl
NappyGirl
6 years ago

I burn my split ends to remove them.

Deb
Deb
6 years ago
Reply to  NappyGirl

da hell…

lablooplah
lablooplah
6 years ago
Reply to  Deb

LOOL

me
me
6 years ago
Reply to  NappyGirl

Crazy girl:D

veronica
6 years ago

1. I do not trimmed since fall 2011.
2. Since having my son I only wear protective styles when I’m at home

sb
sb
6 years ago

Thanks for sharing, the proof is in the pudding, and your hair is proof 🙂

Ashley
Ashley
6 years ago

I wear a wash-and-go every single day (wash once a week). I also hate protective styling and any kind of curl manipulation (braid-outs, flexi-rods, etc.). This seems to go against every piece of natural hair advice ever. However, my hair is MBL (I have kinky 3c hair), so I’ll keep this going until it doesn’t work for me anymore.

OhSnap
OhSnap
6 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

What products do you use for your washngo? I use ecostyler, conditioner, and an oil. However, I’ve wondered if I could do wash n gos for a while without sustaining damage. Also, do you have a pic of your wash n go??

WhyMe?
WhyMe?
6 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

I didn’t know 3C can be kinky? interesting

Brandy
Brandy
6 years ago

I recently started detangling my hair while dry an finger detangling. 1. It causes less shedding than when I detangle wet. Also it easier for me to manage.
2. I only trim once a yr. why trim every 4 month when it’s just cutting off new growth?

I like how she mentioned te single strand knots. Naturals need to accept this as a product of natural hair. Live with it!

Nappy 4C Rocks
Nappy 4C Rocks
6 years ago
Reply to  Brandy

When you dry finger-fetangling do you lightly mist your hair with water?

Mixhix
Mixhix
6 years ago

Once a week, EVERY wash I:
1.Wash my hair with oil (coconut or castor) & co-wash conditioner.
2.Deep condition in addition to a regular rinse out condition.
3.Do a black tea rinse.

My hair is baby fine and ultra dry, but this reggie leaves my hair soft, manageable and thriving. I’m approaching mbl.

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

I do the ends only in the mid of the week too. I don’t necessarily detangle them but I do add a protein/moisture balanced product (currently loving Smooth ‘n Shine) to the ends to give them a little strength and moisture. since my hair is pretty fine, the manipulation is too much to detangle them also.

Thanks for the tip on detangle before and after wash. If I do it both times but probably will try it only during now to cut down even further on manipulating.

best hair dryer
6 years ago

thanks for sharing all these great tips, but I hate ssks

caribbeancurl
caribbeancurl
6 years ago

She said and I quote: “Cutting perfectly healthy ends off with split ends is not necessary”. I don’t get this..won’t the split end continue splitting, further thinning the hair to a point where it breaks off?? ALL other forums say cut that split off. Secondly, she says not to detangle if you detangled BEFORE wash. I don’t understand. For me whether detangled or not, isn’t the hair matty, fuzzy, tangled AFTER a wash? So then how do you take care of tangles, crossovers (even when washed in twists) etc or even simply style the hair if you don’t detangle? She looks… Read more »

Latoya
Latoya
6 years ago
Reply to  caribbeancurl

She means only cut off the damaged ends on the damaged strands. There are perfectly good strands of hair with damaged hair mixed in with it, so, instead of trimming all of the strands, just go after the ones with the actual damage. Hope this helps. If anything, google “search and destroy method”. 🙂

caribbeancurl
caribbeancurl
6 years ago
Reply to  Latoya

Ashe search and far as I understand the search and destroy method only works if you have hair long enough to be able to pull strands from anywhere on your head to in front your eyes. Not practical for persons who have shoulder length and shorter!

Romeia
Romeia
6 years ago
Reply to  caribbeancurl

I have 4c armpit length hair and never have tangles after washing my hair in 4 big twists but if you find you have tangles after a wash just wait to detangle then. If your hair is matted and fuzzy and tangled after a wash perhaps you may want to change your wash regimen/products to something more moisturizing? I tried a lot of non sulfate shampoos before using the Curls line and that is the ONLY “shampoo” that works for me. May also have something to do with the fact that I moisturize my hair every 3 days at most… Read more »

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