By popular demand, I'm finally getting around to this post.
Before I proceed, please note, *every head of hair is different, and these tips are simply what have worked to improve the health of my hair and retain growth. Feel free to try any of the following tips and/or modify them to address your hair concerns and growth efforts.*
On the right is my hair in early 2012, on the left is this summer (June, 2015).
On the right, my hair is chemically damaged from bleaching, mechanically damaged from over manipulation, overuse of heat, and general carelessness about the tools and products I was using on my hair.
I seemed to have hit a seeming plateau in my growth and general health of my hair which led to my decision in November 2012 to cease my use of heat and start my healthy hair journey.
But, just because I stopped using heat doesn't mean I got healthy hair over night...
I went heatless when seemingly everyone was going natural and doing the big chop. Since I didn't have a perm, I didn't think a hair cut was necessary. Well, maybe a big chop would have been too extreme, but a trim was more than necessary. When you have mechanically damaged (i.e. split or heat damaged ends) It's not enough to simply wait for them to grow out. The split ends of the hair will continue to break up the shaft, causing the new growth you're working so hard to gain to appear not to be happening. I trimmed my hair by a mere 3-4 inches after two years of snail's pace growth, even without heat, and saw a drastic change in growth retention. I now get my regular trims without complaints. Takeaway: Cut a little, gain a lot
Failing to Learn My Hair-Type:
When I first started the blog, I still didn't know how important it was to understand the type of hair I had. Having curly hair is one thing, but another thing I didn't know was that my hair is also extremely non-porous, meaning it doesn't easily take products into the hair shaft. So my expensive hair puddings, cowashes, and conditioners were doing nothing but sitting on top of my hair, never entering the cuticle. I was missing out on key moisture, protein and all sorts of other goodness. I now know I have fine, 3C, non-porous hair (More on hair typing later) Takeaway: Know what you're working with.
Using 'any old' products:
I thought simply ditching the heat would help my hair. It did, BUT, I still struggled with the dreaded washing cycle of my hair. I would have a torturous time detangling, washing and blow drying my hair, because I hadn't yet figured out my hair type or taken the time to understand what ingredients help and hurt my hair. Takeaway: Everything packaged up in glitter isn't gold! Take the time to research what the ingredients in your hair products have to add to your hair health.
Despite what I did wrong, I did do some things that I found to be beneficial to my hair.
Ditching the 'Poo:
Most shampoos strip the scalp of essential oils and barriers that provide your hair with a healthy foundation for growth. They're also usually laden with chemicals and strip moisture from your hair. When I went heatless, I also ditched shampoo and opted for cowashes instead. I wash my hair with a clarifying shampoo only when I feel I need a cleansing of the buildup of conditioners and oils in my hair. Takeaway: Shampoo - healthy hair foe.
Manipulation damages hair, period. Heat, pulling, incessant styling, brushing and combing will inherently damage your hair - which will speed up your need for a trim, and in turn slow down your growth retention. I turned to u-part wigs and more recently full wigs (see my instagram for photos), as I noticed my leave-out not growing as quickly as the rest of my hair. But wigs and weaves are not the only protective styles - twists, braids, and many other low manipulation styles can help to keep your hands and tools OUT of your hair and prevent unnecessary damage. Takeaway: Hands off!
Healthy Me = Healthy Hair
Healthy hair grows from within. When I started taking vitamins I noticed my hair began to grow at least a half inch to an inch, monthly. Water intake, Vitamin B, and the well known 'hair, skin and nails' godsend, Biotin are a daily part of my routine. I was taking 10,000 MCG of Biotin daily, but recently lowered it to 5,000 MCG in an all inclusive hair vitamin that I'm reviewing (more on that next month.) Biotin for me is definitely useful. BEWARE, however, the more you take, the more water you need to intake as it is a water soluble supplement. In addition to taking vitamins though, ensure that you're eating well. Takeaway: Healthy hair starts within.
To say the least, this post is not all inclusive of EVERY thing I have done to this point. If you have any specific questions that I didn't answer here, be sure to drop them in the comment section and I'll address them ASAP. Again, I will be reviewing a very 'in' hair vitamin next month and letting you guys know if it's worth the hype or not, so look out for that post. Thanks for reading!