Two years ago today, I did something drastic and knowing what I do now, I wished I had done it much sooner.
In November of 2008 I was hospitalized with asthmatic bronchitis. After being pumped full of medication for three days (and missing the opportunity to vote in a historic election) I got out and, as had been my habit, went right to the beauty shop for a touch-up on my relaxer (for those who don’t know, I was one of the many African American women who used chemicals to straighten her naturally curly hair). I guess the chemicals counteracted badly to the medication that was swirling around in my system and a week later, my hair began falling out by the handful. After the initial panic came some soul searching, wondering why, for so long, I had been beating the life out of my hair. But the true turning point came when Casey asked if she could straighten her beautiful locks. I realized how futile it was for me to tell her to appreciate and care for her hair when I wasn’t doing the same for mine. Then and there I decided to go natural.
I spent countless hours on YouTube, you know why? Because I was a 46-year-old woman with no CLUE about how to care for her own hair. I learned so much there and was so inspired by the women sharing their story in pictures. Today, I am one of them.
Not a single day goes by where someone doesn’t pass me on the street and compliment me on my hair. And everyone has a question. So I’m going to leave you with my top five tips for growing natural hair.
*BE PATIENT! Hair grows on average ½ an inch per month. Taking a ton of vitamins or rubbing Monistat on your scalp won’t help it grow significantly faster (yes I did both of those).
*NO SULFATES! Sulfate is in most shampoos and is the number two ingredient listed in dishwashing soap. Known as a curl killer, its primary goal is to remove oil and it leaves curly hair dry and frizzy. I gave up shampoo altogether about a year ago, instead using ONLY conditioner to co-wash. My curls thank me everyday.
*NO DIRECT HEAT: You know what this is! No directional blow-drying, no flat irons, no hot rollers. If you want a straight style, do a good old-fashioned roller set and sit under the dryer. You will get better at them I promise.
*USE NATURAL OILS: I have been around the horn on this but love Olive, Coconut, Meadow foam Seed and Jamaican Black Castor oils to name a few. When I first BC’d my hair was very dry so I would apply those oils and then a shower cap and sleep all night in a technique called baggying.
*PROTECT YOUR HAIR: This means eat right and exercise, as change will come from within. But the real trick is length retention. Dry hair is hair that breaks. If you are sleeping on a cotton pillow case, steadily rubbing those curls against it as you run from the bandits in your dreams, well, you’re gonna wake up with a head full of dry, broken hair. Do not be too lazy to cover your curls with a satin bonnet or sleep on a silk pillowcase.
That’s about it. As for me, the time went pretty fast. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings!
Happy, healthy hair growing everyone!