Eight Rookie Mistakes I Made With My Long Natural Hair
I never did have the courage to big chop. Instead, I installed a closed weave and MOVED TO TOKYO where nobody knew how to style my kind of hair. Apart from the odd reappearence for a trim, it hibernated under a mountain of weave and flourished into a truly glorious mane in a little over a year like magic! But I was overwhelmed and underqualified for it. Here's what I did wrong...
1. Zero Protection
I may have been prepared for my big hair reveal, but my big hair was not. This sudden unleashing was too much of a shock for it, and it buckled under all that pressure. Instead of dipping in and out of protective styles (in order to gradually get used to my new playing field) I abruptly dropped the weaves and never looked back! It was all daily manipulation and a constant flow of new styles – I never gave my tresses a break.
Hellbent on displaying length and bound by my conformist beauty ideals, I heat straightened my strands every single day on high temperatures without protein protection or patience. Sometimes even twice a day! Sometimes even when my hair was wet! When the plates of the straighteners started to hang off due to overuse, I continued to use them, despite the fact that they would often catch on my hair and frazzle the ends. Insanity!
Getting a brush through my bush was no easy task so I went out and bought a tangle teaser to help ease the process. This was a mistake. The tangle teaser is a dangerous weapon, it lulls you into thinking that you’re being kind to your strands because it doesn’t hurt or pull, but the reason it doesn’t hurt or pull is because it’s too busy shredding your hair like a salad! You won’t feel a thing! I would brush and brush my hair away until the knots broke off, it lay flat and balls of it were left wrapped all in between the plastic bristles. Not cool.
4. Summer Exposure
When it comes to afro hair, the sun is another weapon forged against us. I spent my summer holidays in some of the prettiest of climates, leaving my hair uncovered even during peak hours. Needless to say, what resulted was a headful of fried and dried strands – crispy to the touch. I should have put my hair away for cooler days but bless my heart, I didn’t know any better back then.
5. Avoiding product
The only items in my toolkit when I removed my weave for good were a set of straighteners, metal hair fasteners, cheap shampoo and a can of sheen spray – none of which can bring anything positive to natural hair. Coconut oil? Shea Butter? I thought those were for cooking pancakes or something...
6. Avoiding water
Because I was always wearing my hair deadened (a new term for straightened out flat) I was deathly afraid of water and rain. This makes little sense since preserving my style meant letting my hair go thirsty for days and weeks on end. Afro hair is a gorgeous plant, needing water to grow, but I wasn’t aware so I left mine parched and limp.
7. Sleeping with my hair out
I loved the wrong man and this massively affected my length retention. How, you may wonder? No, he wasn’t snipping it off my head whilst I slept, actually I was the one wanting to feel constantly attractive to him so I would go to bed with my hair loose, wild and free! He loved it so I loved it and my satin bonnet stayed in the drawer. This is called loving-a-man-more-than-you-love-yourself and every morning when I woke up with my hair as dry as hay, I knew I was doing myself wrong…
8. Eating and drinking PURE JUNK.
In Tokyo the food is natural, raw and fresh so I couldn’t help but eat healthily. After only a few short weeks I had unintentionaly cleaned up my diet and this contributed massively to my big hair reveal! Moving to Paris changed all of that as my body had to quickly learn to survive on sugar, cheese, butter and wine so it stopped saving vital nutrients for my hair to receive and distributed them elsewhere. As a result, my hair thinned out at lightening speed. Sigh!
So there it is, the school girl errors that I have learnt to correct the hard way. What rookie mistakes have you make on your journey back to natural?