I feel like I have reached a point in my natural hair journey where it is time for a re-evaluation of my regimen. I did not anticipate that this was a necessary and inevitable part of the journey, but the natural hair journey is one of discovery, we are all in it together, and even those who we give advice (such as bloggers and vloggers) can only speak from a place of their own experience.
I have been asking myself the question for a while now ‘why does 4c hair seem to grow to a certain length and then stop?’ almost as if afro hair is genetically predisposed to getting to chin length (or shoulder, if you’re lucky), and then stopping. The afro hair enthusiast in me instinctively knows that Afro hair can reach any length with adequate love and care, not forgetting consistent moisture, and protective styling, but it still doesn’t answer the question why my hair has been at this length for as long as it has.
So I started doing my research, and I realized that perhaps a checklist is in order, to tick off the things that could possibly be causing this. Ruling out the obvious causes such as aging, hormonal imbalance, diet, scalp condition, I will begin my checklist here:
1. Am I using too much heat?
Heat styling can be a major detriment to the retainment of length. As we know, afro textured hair is super dry, and super fragile, so using heat consistently can be too much for our tresses, especially the ends, which is what you want to take care of the most when trying to grow your hair. I do not use heat at all on my hair, so I can safely rule this one out.
2. Am I over manipulating?
There’s no doubt about it: Afro textured hair thrives in protective styles. The less you do to your hair, the happier it will be. That is a difficult one for a lot of naturals because we are always in search of that perfect product, the ultimate curl definition, or just having fun with the incredible versatility that we have at our fingertips. It is so much of a ‘thing’ that there is even a term for it: ‘hand in hair syndrome’- I know I sure have been a ‘victim’ of it. I don’t think I am over manipulating my hair, I wash it once a week, and unless I have it out for a particular occasion, I have it in a puff, or some kind of plait, but I will not completely rule this one out! I could definitely be more conscious about how much, and how gently, I am handling my hair.
3. Do I need a trim?
Straggly, tangling, breaking ends can also be a sign that you are in need of a trim. Though hair grows from the roots, and not the ends, if your ends are breaking as fast as it is growing, then you will not see any length; so it is important to check for split and damaged ends. No matter what you read, split ends cannot be repaired, and at some point we all need to trim our hair. How often you trim, I personally feel depends on your own hair regimen. If your hair lives in protective styles, then you will probably not need to trim as often as someone who regularly uses heat, or does lots of styling to their hair, because you are less likely to have split ends. I trimmed my own hair towards the end of last year, and though I am experiencing a bit of breakage, I am inclined to believe it is more to do with dryness, than split ends- which leads to my next point.
4. Am I moisturizing adequately enough?
Afro textured hair drinks up moisture like a sponge, moisturizing your hair is the single most important thing you can do to keep it healthy, that and sealing the moisture in. Water is the only thing that can truly moisturize your hair, so any product that you intend to use for that purpose must be ‘water based’, as in, water must be its first ingredient. It could be as simple as mixing in a spray bottle: water, conditioner, and aloe vera juice, and using that on your hair once or twice daily. Now this is the one point I feel like I could work on!
I have been at the stage of my journey where I would watch every YouTube video I could find on natural hair, and was really dedicated to finding what works. Once I got a grip of what was working for me, and cemented my regimen, I stopped, and I no longer needed to be trying new things. I feel now though, like I am at a stage where I want more length, and more moisture, which means I need to re-evaluate what is working, and what I could add to make it even better.
Join me as I embark on this new journey of length retention!