By: Myari Ware
We’ve all read the lists and watched the videos on tips for going natural or growing out your hair, and they all pretty much consist of the same tips: no heat, drink water, deep condition, etc. But there are things that I had no idea about (and that didn’t seem like a big deal) that actually ended up being huge set backs for me in my natural hair journey. Learn from my mistakes as I let you know the five things that I wish I’d known before going natural.
1. Over moisturizing is a real thing
Moisture is all anyone ever wants to talk about and while it is imperative to keep our hair moisturized, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Over moisturizing could result in your strands starting to stretching without springing back. When this occurs your hair may feel mushy or limp, and certain styles might not hold like they used to. If any of those things sounded familiar then you might be overdoing it. Fixing this is fairly simple: get your protein/moisture balance in check. To figure out exactly what that means for you try doing a strand test.
2. Elasticity matters
At the beginning of my hair journey I had no idea how important elasticity was, but looking back now, it makes perfect sense. Elasticity refers to our hair’s ability to bounce back to its natural state. Our kinky/curly hair has a shape and when we constantly manipulate it (braiding, twisting, straightening), it can loose it’s elasticity. If you are having trouble with your wash and go’s, or putting your hair into a bun, it may mean that you might be having elasticity issues. But no worries, there are products made exactly for this. One that I’m currently loving is the Aphogee Curlific Texture Treatment (available at Sally’s). Another popular one is the Ouidad Curl Recovery Melt Down Extreme Repair Mask (available at Ulta). This one is a whopping $44 but from what I hear it’s guaranteed to bring your hair back to life.
3. Not all hot tools are created equal
Knowing this would have SAVED my hair. This is something I didn’t know until recently that I payed dearly for and am still paying for now. Titanium is a much more of a porous metal than ceramic is and it is known for it’s heat transferring qualities. This means more direct heat which means better results. But that pin straight hair could be permanent if you’re not careful.
Turn down the temperature, and always use a heat protectant and be careful. Or just invest in good quality ceramic tools and avoid titanium all together. This setback was the worst for me because it came at a time where I was finally starting to love my natural hair. A couple weeks of letting my hair blow in the wind was not worth feeling like I had to hide my hair once again.
4. Some damage can be repaired and some cannot
This is going to sound hypocritical coming from someone who has a solid four or five inches of heat damage but I can’t not mention it. Some damage can be repaired and some cannot. Your once tight coils drooping a little? Try a protein or elasticity treatment. You have some straight sections? *O.T Genasis voice* You need to cut it.
It’s hard (trust me I know) but if it’s not coming back then trust me, the best thing to do is to let it go. Watching the way your hair springs back up after it is no longer being weighed down by straight ends will make you wish you had done it sooner. If a big chop isn’t the move for you try gradual cuts. I recently decided to cut off an inch or so every other month until my straight strands are gone. Seeing less and less damage gives me hope. Your future self will thank you.
Monica from Mo Knows Hair goes in depth about the types heat damage, how to identify it, and how to prevent it here.
5. Your protective style can be counter productive
In my first few months of being natural I lived in buns and ponytails. I thought that keeping my hair in styles where my hair wasn’t touching my clothes and where my ends were tucked away was the best thing that I could do, and to an extent it was. However if your protective style is too tight or done improperly it could cause more problems.
My buns and ponytails were very tight and it was putting a lot of stress on the perimeter of my hair. If your edges are starting to resemble LeBron’s hairline circa 2015, and your ninja bun is affecting your ability to blink, then you may want to reevaluate how you’re doing your protective style.
More on this and other reasons that your protective style can be counter productive can be found here.
Had I known these things a couple of years ago, I would probably be heat damage free and have healthy curls down to my waist, but sometimes we have learn the hard way. I hope learning from the mistakes I’ve made with my hair can prevent some setbacks for you.
What were some of the things you wish you had known before going natural?