The New Year is a time when many people reevaluate their lives and set goals for the year. For naturals, the turn of the year is a good time to set out plans and/or challenges to optimize your hair journey. For example some people take protective style challenges, heat free challenges, castor oil or hair vitamin challenges in the first few months of the year. However, any challenge or plan you have for your hair must be framed with your hair goals in mind, so let’s go over some possible goals for your natural hair:
Goal A: Length Retention
Maybe you’ve been stuck in a length plateau and want to move out of it to the next level. Maybe you have a big event coming up (wedding, graduation) and you want your hair to be long enough for a certain style. Maybe you’re just trying to prove your
haters naysayers wrong by growing your hair longer than theirs! Whatever the reason, a year long commitment to length retention requires a few changes. Protective styling and less manipulation can keep your hands out of your hair, or keep your strands from knotting up on one another. Paying extra attention to your ends can limit the number of trims you’ll need throughout the year. The common denominator for many naturals with long hair is to more or less leave it alone, so if length retention is your goal, plan accordingly. You can’t just let your hair go though — protective styling can place stress on your edges (with either too tight or heavy extensions), or locking can occur on kinkier hair textures (with mini twists for example). Be sure to keep your hair and scalp moisturized during protective styling, and do not leave styles in for more than 6-8 weeks.
Goal B: Stronger Hair
If you experienced a lot of breakage, damage, or thinning edges in 2013, increasing the strength of your hair might be your priority for this year. Whether the inspiration is a reaction to dissatisfaction with your hair, or if it was simply the main reason you went natural in the first place, prioritizing hair health and strength is a great goal to pursue. To get you on your way, consider committing to weekly deep conditioning, monthly steamer sessions, or semi-weekly henna or protein treatments to give your hair the extra nourishment it needs. You can do a castor oil challenge for your edges if you’re currently struggling with thinned out edges, or you can take vitamins and supplements that encourage hair strength (although I haven’t done any research into them so I don’t necessarily support/believe their claims). However, be sure to continually evaluate your hair’s needs on your quest for strong, healthy hair, as too much of anything can go wrong. If you up your protein, increase your moisture as well to balance it out. You might be using castor oil several times a week, but that also might mean that you need to wash your hair more often so your scalp doesn’t get clogged up. Just stay diligent to your goal!
Goal C: Fun & Flexibility
If you were stuck in a styling rut last year, or found yourself envious of the naturals you see on Instagram sporting a new style every month, you might want your natural hair to be fun and flexible this year. Maybe you’ll shave your sides, maybe you’ll dye a patch of hair purple, or maybe you’ll try some loc extensions; if you’re bored with your hair, feel free to do something different with it! One of the best aspects of our hair is that we can do a thousand different things to it (we can also get it to look like anyone else’s hair… but you can’t add kinks to straight hair!) so the options are endless! Social media and the web are great places to turn to for inspiration, but don’t feel like you need to follow the trends. Tapered fros are the rage right now, but if you want to get yourself a high-top fade, GO FOR IT! Heck, you can cut it one week, dye it the next, and then get yourself a natural hair-looking weave or crochet braids the next week and look like nothing ever happened. Times done changed!
My Natural Hair Goal Trajectory
I’ve had each of these goals at one point or another in my hair journey; in fact, I wrote them in the order I’ve had them. After I first cut my hair in the summer of 2010, I desperately wanted it to grow longer so I did a 10-week protective style challenge in early 2011 where I did mini twists, coils, and flat twist updos. My hair did grow, but then I guess my ends were damaged (since I hadn’t trimmed or paid attention to them since my big chop) and I had to cut about two inches off. While growing my hair out again I mastered my flat twist technique, and did a lot of flat twist updos while I got through that awkward middle length stage. 2012 involved simply trying to maintain the health of my hair; hilariously enough, I said in this video at the beginning of 2012 that I was going to cut my hair, and wouldn’t let it grow past BSL, because that was just ridiculously long. *side-eyes self for false dreams and hopes*. The first half of 2013 was spent in Havana twists and mini twists while I was struggling through grad school, but I didn’t really have concrete goals or plans. I colored, straightened, and trimmed my hair, but spent a good amount of time in braid outs and twistouts. Essentially I tried out a whole lot of different styles, colors, looks, products, and switched up my regimen (I know, I have to update you guys! But you know about the finger detangling already). This year? I have no clue! I do continue to strive for the healthiest hair I can possibly have, but I really don’t know about that length. I’m also not gonna sweat it if I don’t moisturize as much as I should. Actual day long wash days? Ain’t nobody got time for dat. A hair cut is calling my name in 2014, but I will say that I’ve found longer hair to be easier to style than mid-length hair. 6 braids overnight and you have a textured roll, tuck, and pin; or 24 medium sized twists into a bun! My general mantra for the year is to Pursue Happiness so I’m going to do just that with my hair, whatever that entails!
I say all of that to say this: natural hair goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It is quite possible to have long and healthy hair that is styled creatively; in fact some women become well-known bloggers for that reason! However, if one of these is not your goal, you shouldn’t feel like you’re “doing something wrong”. It is perfectly fine to have short, radiant hair that you wear in the same mini fro with a center part day in and day out — that’s what works for you! Just make sure that what you’re doing to your hair on a regular basis lines up with the goals you’ve envisioned — or purposely left open — for yourself.