Major Keys To Avoid Natural Hair Setbacks

Are you following DJ Khaled on snapchat? You should be.

I feel like I've heard this story so many times before. Girl (or boy goes natural), girl falls in love with hair, girl starts experimenting with some crazy styles and takes it a step too far, and then girl has to cut off all of her hair. Tears are usually involved. And then the cycle continues. Listen I'm the first one to tell you go out and be a hair ho and go ahead have fun with your hair; however, if your goal is length retention and health there are some ways to avoid natural hair setbacks.

1. Know Your Limits - Depending on your length or your hair's overall health, there are certain things that your hair just can't do. For example, as someone with about two inches of hair MAYBE a slicked back puff isn't for me. You see how I recognized my natural hair limitations? This saves me time, frustration, and inches.

2. Lay off the heat! Ugh I know. Everyone says no heat, no heat, no heat! Trust me, I'm not that girl. I love a silk press during the winter season as much as anyone else but I would suggest limiting direct heat to once a year. Many naturals like to use straighter styles to measure length. I would suggest combining your length check with your yearly flat ironing session. Now that we've talked about the much feared flat iron let's talk about it's evil side kick the blow dryer. This tool can cause just as much, if not more, damage as the flat iron. Naturals tend to feel safer using a blow dryer on high heat and with out any heat protectant. STOP DOING THAT! It's seriously the worst and will fry your hair with a quickness.

3. Get out of your head- Keep it simple and get your hands out of your hair. Your twist out doesn't need to be fresh every single day and a bun or low manipulation style is your best friend. Think of ways to stretch your styles: buns, puffs and even wash and gos are great low manipulation options for prolonging styles.

4. Protective Style with a plan - Naturalistas everywhere will tell you that protective styling is KEY but what they won't tell you is that long term protective styles can do more harm than good if your hair is not properly cared for. When I go into a long term style I like to have a plan: a start date, a take out date, and a hair care regimen that is easy to stick by. It sounds like much but having a plan of action keeps me on track for optimal length retention results. During my last protective style which lasted about 6 weeks I was able to grow and retain almost three quarters of an inch of hair which I mostly accredit to my regimen.

5. Learn from your mistakes. - When it comes to my natural hair, I've done everything wrong. And I do mean everything. I've over processed and I've had heat damage. I've over conditioned and suffered from protein over load. I've done the disastrous at home cut and I've kept my mouth shut in a stylist's chair when I should have spoken up. But guess what? I won't be making any of those mistakes (unknowingly) again. As it is in life, we have to learn from from the past in order to grow. Once you've had a setback, decide to see the lesson in it and be sure to remember it for the future.

So tell me about your natural hair setbacks. Have you had any? What did you learn from them? Sound off!

Until Next Time,

Joelle

Why My Natural Hair IS A Political Statement

I never considered my natural hair a political statement, until it was one.

After cutting off relaxed my hair in 2011 strange things started to happen. People started to ask me if I was fighting the power. Black men started calling me sista. People thought I was earthy. It was weird. I mean I love me some Erykah Badu (not that recent Twitter ridiculousness that she decided to bless us with last week) but I'm not that girl. Correction, I am that girl and I tuck it in because most people ain't ready. But still, I was a little confused as to why people were assuming that my hairstyle was some sort of revolt against society.

Around the same time, friends and acquaintances of the caucasian persuasion started to give me hair advice. They would see a happy, curly, whirly chica on TV and say "Oh you should wear your hair like that!" and I would have to explain to them that while I am happy my hair is neither whirly or curly so that would be a NO. They would try to hide their disappointment  and we would quickly change the subject.

These interactions sparked an interesting conversation within myself about what my natural hair meant to me AND to others. I started to realize that my hairstyle choices have an affect to those around me.  While I don't want to over emphasize the "importance" of my presence, I realize that it is crazy to see a black woman embracing her beauty and walking in confidence. So many black children have been conditioned to apologize for their looks: "Oh don't worry about this, my hair appointment is tomorrow" or "I can't go, my hair isn't done". Seeing so many black people enjoying and embracing their God given beauty is fairly new. When my (well meaning) white friends felt entitled to tell me how I should wear MY hair (that's a different conversation), they were unknowingly telling me that I was making them uncomfortable. They were quietly screaming, "Hey! Come back over to something we understand!" Which is crazy to me because "it's just hair".

Long story short, when I went natural it was not some political statement. My intent was never to join a revolution. But I did.