Many black women have been led to believe that retaining length in their hair is virtually impossible. But with the right regimen and knowledge, it doesn’t have to be. This week, four BGLH writers will share stories of how they went from TWA to back length. They represent a diversity of hair textures and life experiences. We hope that you gain inspiration and information. Our second feature is from Chinwe. Click here to read our first feature, from Ijeoma.
I big chopped because I was tired of my relaxed hair. To me, natural hair is healthier, stronger, more beautiful, fun, and versatile.
I big chopped in February 2008 down to a one-inch shrunken TWA (about 4–4.5 inches stretched). During my first year natural, I wore mostly wash-n-gos, fros, puffs, and twist outs and eventually moved towards protective styling in twists. My hair was super low maintenance initially (because it was short), so I could co-wash/wash multiple times per week and condition with inexpensive instant conditioners. Early on, my products consisted of VO5 Moisture Milk conditioner, LustraSilk Cholesterol conditioner, Crème of Nature shampoo, oils and shea butter.
After a couple of years, my regimen became more suited to my growing hair. The switchover was to a mostly low manipulation routine, which included less detangling (and thus, less breakage) of my longer hair and longer protective style periods. My goal was length retention and health, so I did the research beforehand on what exactly I needed to do to avoid any major mistakes. Circa 2010/2011, I eventually settled into the routine of wearing twists monthly, detangling monthly, and washing + conditioning weekly or bi-weekly (while in my twists). My staple products also changed to extra virgin coconut oil, Desert Essence Lemon Tea Tree Shampoo, Suave Naturals Conditioner, and shea butter mixed with oils (coconut, olive, safflower, etc.). For my twist routine, check this “twist series” label on my blog.
It took me about 5 years to reach my goal of waist-length in early 2013. Though I avoided some major mistakes along the way, I did learn some valuable lessons about my hair. For one, my hair and the salon are not a good mix. (I had a setback – an unwanted and uneven cut – after visiting a salon a few years into my journey.) For two, protective styling and super low manipulation are my hair’s best friends.
Discuss! Where are you in your growth process?