Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Live and Learn: A Brief Tale of Two Hair Mistakes

Hair mistakes.

We all make them from time to time, and I'm certainly no exception

The last time I big chopped, I didn't have much of a plan.

I shampooed (regularly) and conditioned (more or less), put in some olive oil, used my Eco Styler gel, and that was it. I expected my hair to respond well, and to look its best.

I won't say it was the worst to manage, but the majority of struggles I faced had less to do with the fact that my hair is very dense and thick, and more to do with that fact that I had not built a solid regimen (I will detail my current regimen in a future post).

Here are two of the major mistakes I made last time around.

1. Shampooing without conditioning.

Where do I even start with this one? There is a reason shampoo alone isn't good for anyone's hair, be it silky straight or afro-textured.

Simply put, the purpose of shampoo is to cleanse the hair. This is all well and good, but as a part of that, it also has a tendency to strip the hair of it's natural oils, due to the harsh ingredients. The purpose of conditioner is to restore that moisture balance.

After I shampooed, my scalp would feel clean, but my hair would feel stiff and dry and I couldn't figure out the reason. I was very frustrated.

Today, I use sulfate free moisturising shampoos like the Creme of Nature Argan Oil Moisture and Shine Shampoo. I also use their Intensive Conditioning Treatment.

Most times, I simply co-wash, as I don't usually have enough product buildup to warrant shampoo use at this stage. Co-washing-washing the hair with conditioner- is enough to keep my hair clean, and I love how soft it is afterwards.  I usually use my Hydrating Sleek Argan Oil Conditioner by Hawaiian Silky.

2. Never Deep Conditioning. Ever.

This is something I knew I would have to change if I wanted my hair to look and feel its best. I try to deep condition once a week now that I have a TWA, and there's been a major difference in how my hair feels now, as opposed to how it felt two years ago when I had first big chopped.

The Nothing But Intense Healing Mask from Gro Healthy is my deep conditioner of choice, although I will sometimes use the Intense Conditioning Treatment by Creme of nature that I previously mentioned.

These two things should have been an essential part of my routine the first time. Had I done these things, I'm certain that my hair would have been much more moisturised, and therefore manageable. I also probably would have had a lot more fun with it as a result.

Having learned this lesson the first time, I'm making sure that I make the right choices for my hair this time around. I'm no longer scared to handle my own hair. :)

So remember, if your hair seems to be unmanageable, see if there's anything obvious that you may have overlooked.

My problem was conditioning, but yours may be different. Maybe your hair doesn't like protein. Perhaps it hates mineral oil. Try different things, and you may be surprised to find that your hair is far more manageable than you previously realised.

Learn your own hair. :)

After all, your hair journey is going to surprise you.

Be willing to live and learn. ;)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Your Hair Was So Pretty...

In September of 2009, I made the decision to cut off all of my relaxed hair. I hadn't made the decision in order to shock anyone, nor because anything had been wrong with my hair; I made it because I had been going through some things, was battling depression, and felt like I needed a fresh start. I didn't know if I would relax my hair again in the future or not, but at that point, I was ready to try something new.

Prior to this, I had always been 'the girl with the long, thick hair'. My decision did catch several people off guard, and I had thought that I was reasonably prepared for any negative backlash. I was wrong.

In Barbados, and probably other countries as well, the concept of a woman with long, thick, healthy hair chopping it all off is amazingly taboo.

Most persons were very diplomatic (read: "Oh, it will grow back.") while a few genuinely seemed to like the fact that I'd done something different. Encouraged by the latter camp, I'd just begun to feel safe to enjoy being myself without the aforementioned label of 'the girl with the long, thick hair' when it happened.

"Your hair was so pretty!!!!"


All of a sudden, all of my self doubts came rushing back. I felt exposed, ugly and even more depressed, but I forced myself not to do anything drastic, like run and put a relaxer in my hair on the basis of one woman's comment.

Even though I tried to shake it off, that comment got me thinking about what persons consider to be 'pretty hair', especially here in Barbados, and more importantly, what I believed 'pretty hair' to be.

What I found out showed me just how much I had relied on the length of my hair to be comfortable in my own skin. I had always thought that short hair, be it natural or relaxed was pretty on other women, so why couldn't I apply that same rule to myself and be confident in who I was? After all, didn't 'pretty hair' have more to do with the health of the hair, as opposed to the length, or whether or not it was relaxed or natural?

It took a while, along with a lot of personal development, for me to be confident in my own skin. I became less and less attached to my hair and focused more on becoming the person Jehovah wants me to be.

When I relaxed my hair again about a year later, I did it because the mood struck me, and not because of depression or because I felt that I would once again be seen as having that lady's definition of having pretty hair.

Since then, my life journey has been more about being healthy spiritually and emotionally, which naturally leads into being healthy physically. This includes taking care of my hair in a far more healthy way than I used to, and I'm much happier for it.

In fact, I recently cut all my (healthy) relaxed hair off for the 2nd time! :)

Not everyone will be in love with my choice, but thanks that comment about 'pretty hair' five years ago, I'm quite a bit more confident and less likely to let the opinions of others affect me like they once did.

After all, long or short, relaxed or natural, I do have pretty (healthy) hair. :)

Be confident, ladies! It's easier said than done, especially when sporting a TWA, but if you keep working at it, it will pay off. Trust me, I know. :)