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 third feature is from Elle. Be sure to check out our first feature from Ijeoma and our second feature from Chinwe.
I big chopped on December 26, 2009. That previous summer, I decided to stop relaxing my hair because it was so humid that my hair just wouldn’t stay straight. I was flat ironing up to three times a DAY and I knew that regimen couldn’t be healthy for my hair. I needed a solution that allowed my hair to work with the weather. I wanted to ring in the New Year with completely natural hair (I previously had a Mohawk with relaxed hair on top and natural hair on the sides).
The first year, I was the biggest product junkie ever and joined pretty much any forum challenge there was – a deep conditioning challenge, ayurvedic, hair growth shake (which contained raw eggs, flax seed powder, and wheat germ oil – and a TON of calories), henna – you name it, I did it. Maybe it was to keep myself busy because I pretty much wore my TWA all the time, and doing my hair only took a few minutes. I didn’t mind playing in my hair and trying different methods. In fact, I really enjoyed it! As I learned my hair, I also learned that although my hair is fairly coarse, it’s low porosity, so a lot of super heavy products did NOT work for me at all. I used to think I needed the thickest oil or butter, the heaviest gel, or the conditioner combined with the most butters. That was totally wrong. I learned that my hair LOVES water-based products that contain aloe vera and lighter oils, like rice bran or jojoba, over heavier ones, like shea butter and castor. I would say medium to lightweight is best for me, especially because I cannot stand build up! Additionally, I realized I was using too much protein (I was using a lot of products with wheat protein), so I lightened up on that as well. I also minimized my glycerin use, because my hair gets bratty with dew points and I don’t have time to monitor them daily.
After I started focusing more on porosity, my regimen quickly simplified and I mainly focused a cleansing my hair at least once a week, and getting my wash and go to last 3 or 4 days, then either rinsing/cowashing or wearing it in a bun for a few more days so I didn’t have to restyle. I mainly use gels for my wash and go because I find they help prevent tangles because of the hold, but as my hair has gotten longer I have to make sure it’s not too flat. I hate wet cat hair. I never got into twist outs and braid outs – I thought they took too long and the style wasn’t guaranteed. But as soon as I could make a bun, I was SO happy. I freakin’ love buns – they’re just so easy and you can make them look very conservative or hip, depending on where you position them and how big they are.
I’ve kept the same regimen for probably…three years or so. It just works for me. So unless something breaks, I’m not fixing it. Five years later, I’m still not at my goal- which is curly bra strap length dry and I may never achieve that due to shrinkage! But I’ve certainly learned to love my hair for what it is and how it wants to be. I realized that when you kind of let your hair do its own thing, it thrives. Don’t fight your hair and it will be nice to you.
Can you relate? Where are you in your hair journey?