by Tori (pictured above)
When I started my natural hair journey, I didn’t have specific hair length goals. My goal was to focus on healthy hair and the length came over time. I watched several YouTube videos and visited several blogs, from which I learned a ton of information on caring for my hair. However, there are a couple things that I have learned about having long type 4 hair that I wish I saw a video or blog post about. A “things to expect with long type 4 hair” video would have been nice. So, if you are thinking about growing out your natural (type 4) hair, here are some things you can look forward to:
1. Single Strand Knots
Coily hair likes to curl around itself, creating single strand knots. Well, if you are already experiencing a lot of single strand knots, just know that these little knots don’t go away the longer your hair gets. In fact, they can sometimes increase in number. The best (and easiest) way to get rid of these knots is to cut them off. I try to minimize knots by keeping my hair stretched, but even then I just cannot get rid of them completely. Don’t stress yourself out too much about single strand knots. A knot or two will not stop you from reaching your hair goals.
2. More Hair Products
The longer your hair gets, the more products you will need to care for your hair, especially, if you tend to be heavy-handed with products like I am. For example, a 16oz store-bought conditioner would probably only last me through 3 washdays (maybe 4 if I’m lucky). It will also require more moisturizer, more cleansers, more oils, etc. This could wreak havoc on your budget. However, there are ways around it. Look for cheaper options that will provide similar results. Then, save your more expensive products for when you want to treat your hair to a little luxury. I keep my more expensive products stowed away for days when I want to give my hair a special treat. You can also opt for homemade concoctions from things such as shea butter, clays, oils, etc. The ingredients may seem pricier initially, but your homemade concoctions and batters will last longer than most store-bought products. For instance, I’ve had a one-pound bag of rhassoul clay (great for making a hair cleanser) for almost a year.
3. More Trims
The oldest part of your hair is your ends. The longer your hair gets the more susceptible you are to breakage, and damage to your ends from styling and your ends rubbing against your clothes. Of course, you want to wear your hair out to enjoy your length, but you also don’t want to suffer extensive damage to the older, more fragile part of your hair. I keep my ends protected whenever possible and get trims when needed to keep my hair healthy. I usually about 3–4 times per year.
4. You Learn Time-saving Tricks
Longer natural hair can increase hair care time. Once upon a time, it took me close to five hours to do my hair on a regular washday. But, you learn quickly that having an all day washday routine is just not practical. You develop methods that help to make cleansing and styling your hair quicker and easier. Over time, I’ve found ways to decrease my washday time from almost all day to less than 2 hours.
5. Hair Love
The most important thing I have learned the longer my hair gets is how to embrace the natural me. If you think you love your hair now, wait until you spend more time with it. You’ll develop a bond, even giving it a nickname because you get that close. Lol. This may sound corny, but no one told me that I would love my hair more, the longer I was on my hair journey. I have found that I do and you will too.
What are some things you’ve learned while on your natural hair journey? What do you wish you knew before reaching your current hair goal?
About Tori: I’m Tori, a Jamaican-born natural currently living in Texas. I was reunited with my natural texture in January 2012 when I big chopped, after transitioning for a year and a half. I am still learning about my natural hair, and hope to share the knowledge and experiences I gain as I continue on my natural hair journey. You can find me on Instagram @bonafidestyle.