I wish the title was just a catchy hook that got you to click on this post where instead I talked about something much more exciting, like Lupita on Sesame Street, how Samira Wiley aka Poussey is literally Ms. Steal ya Girl, or my current handbag obsession. But as true as these things are, so is the fact that my hair isn’t in it’s best condition. In fact, it’s really struggling.
How I Know My Hair Isn’t Retaining Length
First of all, let me clarify that my hair has actually grown, but rather, I have not retained any of the length. I know it’s grown because I had it dyed last summer about an inch away from my scalp, and the color is now several inches from my scalp. However, I got it blown out over the weekend (more on that later), and despite my expectations of a long lion-like mane, it looked the exact same – if not shorter – as when blow-dried in May 2013 when I visited and reviewed Carol’s Daughter Mirror Salon, and when I blow-dried it myself earlier this February. It should be noted that the blow dry method for all three of these looks were different — in May 2013, my blow out was achieved using a Denman brush, in February it was a tension blow out, and just recently, it was a comb attachment blowout. Note the color differences between February and September. I forgot to photograph my blow dried hair down and out this weekend, and one half was already trimmed by the time I took the photo. Since my hair isn’t flat ironed and I’ve never actually measured my hair in inches with a ruler or tape (ya’ll do entirely too much with this), these are also only rough estimates of my length, but they work just fine for me.
While my hair hasn’t done so hot length-wise this year, absolutely nada has happened to it in terms of coarseness and thickness. There’s still a whole lot of hair on this head, and my super thick puffs continue to reflect that.
Reasons Why My Hair Isn’t Retaining Length
Since I made this revelation during my visit to Carol’s Daughter Mirror Salon again this weekend for a blow out which was expertly done by Alana, we were able to brainstorm together the potential causes of my hair woes. As some background, APL (arm pit length) and BSL (bra strap length) are two of the HARDEST lengths to surpass once you’ve reached them. I was just about BSL last year, and Alana confirmed that I was just about BSL still when you fully pull my hair down. So the odds were already stacked against me.
The main reasons why I believe my hair hasn’t grown past BSL in the past year are lack of deep conditioning, inconsistent product use, and lack of protective styling. In the past year since I’ve started the blog, I’ve been doing many a product review, and in efforts to try product after product, I’ve “shocked” my hair with inconsistent product use, and all but near left out deep conditioning from my regular wash process. Since my color was a double process, it was EXTREMELY important for me to deep condition it regularly, and I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember the last time I did. Once I started working in May, I definitely did not think I had enough time for wash days – so I’ve been shortcutting it. As you guys know, I regularly use my Q-Redew at each wash session, and convincing myself that a pre-steam treatment was a good enough substitution for a 30+ minute deep conditioning session. I’ve also worn my hair in many more “out” styles than I’ve done in the past, partly because I wanted to enjoy my new length, and partly because I often felt like I needed to do a twist out or some other out style for a product review.
Pretty much it’s y’alls fault that my hair hasn’t grown! LOL. But really, this brings up a point that I may take further in a separate post, but I’m definitely not the first hair blogger whose hair health has suffered as a result of her blogging efforts. Hmmm…
My Length Retention Plan of Action
Since my issues were color, lack of deep conditioning, and over-styling, there are FOUR specific things I’m going to do for the next year to improve my length retention.
REGULAR DEEP CONDITIONING: I will commit to shampooing and deep conditioning my hair every three weeks. I will not shampoo without deep conditioning, and I will prioritize my hair’s health over a product review.
NO HAIR COLOR: This is the most tragic change since I’ve had hair color since the day I big chopped, but I will not be adding anymore for the time being. I’m going to have to get my fix with extensions.
MORE PROTECTIVE STYLING: In addition to havana twists, crochet braids, and the half wig I plan to make from my Haute Kinks, I am going to do more hairstyles that protect my ends for at least one week, such as flat twist updos. As a matter of fact, my 1st year of being natural, I wore my hair in so many flat twist updos while in school, it grew like weeds. I’ll probably do them right after I wash, so that I’ll be twisted up for a week, wear a twist out/braid out for a week, and then do looser pin ups, buns, and puffs for the last week.
REVAMPED MOISTURIZING: As a bonus factoid, Alana told me that my hair’s ridiculous shrinkage game indicated that my hair was shrinking more quickly than I can style it most times, which would affect it’s ability to retain moisture. Rather than using the LOC method as I had been, she suggested that I add a liquid and a cream, then finish off with an oil once my hair is actually dry. I’m going to try it out for a few months and report back to you guys.
Despite realizing my hair has been on a struggle bus, I’m confident that it can be nursed back to health. This is one of the reasons why it is necessary to take your behind to a high quality hair salon that focuses on education every once in a while, because you aren’t always doing the best thing for your hair, and you can always learn more. Alana was extremely helpful in not only prepping my hair for my desired hairstyle, but also guiding me through my problems in a way that wasn’t accusatory or judgmental. She also threw in some advice about trimming — I’d been trimming by twists in a straight line (blunt cut), which was making it difficult for my hair to stay twisted while washing (hence why I do braids, but Alana said twist are less stressful on your hair). Alana let me know that trimming at an angle not only prevents the unraveled twists while washing drama, but also lets your hair lay and fall better when it’s out because it creates subtle layers. Who would’ve known! Here are some more pictures from my visit to Carol’s Daughter Mirror Salon, and the resulting wand curl set that was fluffed into a curly fro that poofed into a normal from by the end of the night.
Great article, I believe I have slow hair growth is stress,poor diet and hypertension medication. I’m co washing more and deep condition.
Nice article. Informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing your experience and future plans for your hair. Have a great day! 🙂
Thank you for this post!
Last weekend, I saw an old photo of my hair from September 2013 and it SHOCKED me to see that my hair is still about the same length! I’m not big on length checks but I know my hair has grown- I tried some hair growth pills earlier this year and had to do before and after length checks for that.
Even more confusing is the fact that this year I’ve been eating right, exercising, my regimen is much better, doing a lot of the right things. I’m still thinking about how to move from this point because I’m not even APL yet. 🙁
I feel like I’m not the only one who greatly appreciates your transparency. The APL/BSL plateau struggle is real!
I’m glad some people like my openness. We can make it past the plateau together!
Found this site after reading your Miss Harlem Shake article on Twitter.. Congrats on your win
Thank you Cary!
Thanks for being honest with the good and also the struggles of your hair. It really helps the rest of us. I have been natural for over 5 years and my hair always plateaued at 9 inches, because my ends always got ragged and would need a trim. I joined the maximum hydration method band wagon and can’t wait for 6 months to a year to see if I actually retain length! So far I love how my ends are acting. Good luck with nursing your hair back too! Congrats on being MissHarlemShake.
Yay we’re in this together! Thank you, and I’d love to see your max hydration results… keep me posted!