One of the biggest mistakes I see people make in their journey toward happier, healthier, kinky hair is holding to every single word, suggestion, or product recommendation that they get from their favorite blogger, their homegirl, or a random commenter on a natural hair forum. I can’t stress this enough: no two heads of hair are the same, so your optimal hair care routine shouldn’t be exactly like that of another kinky haired queen. There are some standard recommendations that the majority of naturals abide by, but I’ve decided not to, for various reasons. My momma didn’t raise a liar, so I’m not going to sit here and say I’ve never done these things – in fact I used to do them all – but I’ve grown out of the need to. Check them out below:
My Hair Type Is…
Some people view hair typing as the first objective after their big chop, believing that they will be able to identify with and thus learn from other naturals who share their same hair type. Some bloggers have even branded themselves based on their hair type, and you can easily hashtag #4a or #4c and come up with tens of thousands of hits. In my early YouTube days, I definitely identified as a 4c, and then as my hair grew out more, a 4b/4c. One defining moment that moved me away from hair typing actually happened on YouTube, I had made a length check video at the 1.5 year natural mark of my journey. Yo, people in the comments were straight ARGUING that my hair was not 4c, it was 4a; others were countering that it had to be 4c for reason xyz. Mind you, I was making videos using the webcam on my Macbook, so this was some amateur quality video clarity that commenters felt showed them my definition! At that point, I pulled up my big girl panties, decided not to be hurt or offended, and concluded that hair typing was something that was a personal decision. At some point, I tried again to determine my hair type, only to find 5 or 6 different charts, some of which used pictures of celebrities with afro wigs in the kinkier range. So I made a video on my frustrations with the whole hair typing situation, and shortly thereafter, gave up hair typing for good. Once I learned about other ways of describing one’s hair – such as density, thickness, and porosity – I saw those as far more useful, and objective classifications. Now, if you ask me my hair type, I’ll tell you that it’s kinky. C’est tout.
Month 38 Length Check
Another change that happened due to YouTube: I don’t focus on regular length checks anymore. For one, I never set out for a certain length goal, so really what’s the point of measuring my length every month or three months? Secondly, YouTube natural nazis will be like “but your hair is supposed to be x inches long by now, and it’s x-1 inches long, so you’re messing up!”
One person left a comment like this for me, and I clicked on her profile/channel and she had 2 inches of hair. Not to say you mad, but are you mad? All I wanted when going natural was to have thick, healthy hair, and I believe I’m doing a good job of achieving that goal for myself. This is another reason why I am diligent about trimming my hair; I’d much rather have 8 inches of perfectly thick and healthy hair than 10 inches of thinned out, straggly ends. If I was striving for waist length hair, I’m already doing a few things that would be setting me back, such as coloring my hair several times and being unfaithful with protective styling. Finally, I don’t straighten my hair enough, and I don’t have the desire to straighten regularly, to do “accurate” length checks. Knowing how much my hair shrinks, it’s highly likely that I will have variable lengths based on how stretched out my hair is, so consistent results can only be obtained with straight hair. My hair is longer than it ever was when relaxed, so I’ve achieved my length goal if there ever was one, so I’m not concerned with length checks.
Using a Wide Tooth Comb, Denman Brush, or Tangle Teezer
Now don’t think that I use rat tail combs and boar bristle brushes to detangle my hair! I used to rely heavily on wide toothed combs in the shower while detangling, and Denman brushes to further detangle before styling. I don’t remember what exactly inspired me, but I haven’t combed or brushed my hair since August of this year (since my last hair color). I can’t prevent hair stylists from not combing my hair, so when I got cornrows for my birthday, trust and believe the braider attacked my hair with a comb. Instead of detangling with tools, I just use my little fingers and go through my hair strands before washing. I spritz my dirty dry hair with a mix of water, oil, and conditioner, cue up a Netflix movie, and go to work. I also don’t believe in having perfectly detangled hair anymore; I don’t see why it’s necessary. As long as I’ve removed major tangles from my hair, I’m not going to worry about separating each of the thousands of strands of hair on my head from each other, knowing they’re going to want to get married again in 5 minutes. Yes, it takes longer, but I’m able to find knots and tangles without first pulling at them, which is what combs and brushes do.
(Bi) Weekly Wash Day
Also in the hair maintenance department, a lot of naturals co-wash weekly or more often, and shampoo biweekly or more. This girl over here? In the summers, I MIGHT co wash every other week, but otherwise, I shampoo and deep condition once a month. Considering I exercise semi regularly, you might be curious to how I’m not walking around with smelly hair. I don’t sweat too much from my scalp, but I do very regular scalp massages with a light oil (jojoba most often) to keep my scalp super duper fresh. Tea tree oil is also super helpful when your hair starts flaking but you need to get a few more days (or a week lol) out of a style. I don’t necessarily think that washing your hair less frequently helps with hair growth or anything, but being a
lazy time-efficient individual, I feel like I should only wash when my hair needs a serious cleansing. Furthermore, I’d go three weeks without washing my hair when it was relaxed (tryna stretch out the initial style) so I don’t understand why some naturals find it necessary to douse their hair in water every few days. Whatever floats your boat.
Who’s Your Hair Twin/Hair Crush?
This final diversion from most natural hair practices is that I don’t have a hair crush, nor a hair twin. I’ve already addressed how no two heads of hair are the same, and an Instagram photo can’t show you a person’s density or porosity to determine whether their hair is just like yours. As for the hair crush, one of my favorite comments I received on YouTube was “I am my own hair crush”. That was the greatest, most self-affirming statement about anyone’s hair that I’d ever seen! Especially amongst kinky haired ladies, some of us crush on people with – let’s be honest now – longer, less kinky hair. Just check out the natural hair bloggers with the most followers, how many of them have a spherical afro? Hair crushing dangerously tiptoes the line of hair hierarchies, so we have to work extra hard to love the hair that we were given. I’ve now adopted the mindset that I’m my own hair crush. I don’t envy anyone else’s hair, and I am flattered, but sort of dismayed, when people say that I am their hair crush. We should strive towards full acceptance of our kinks, and not lust after another woman’s head. It’s not about pomposity, or thinking that my hair is any better than anyone else’s; I definitely look up to other natural haired beauties and respect their diligence towards healthy hair care, their innovative hair styles, their patient approach to educating others about natural hair, or their ability to build a brand. But when it comes down to which head of hair I like the most, it’s got to be my own. You can say the same thing about body type… you’ve got to love your own more than anyone else’s, and even if you’re not completely happy with it, you have to try your best to be comfortable in your own skin.