I have been natural now for 8 good years! Wow. I must say, it has been a very long journey! I have been on a growth journey ever since and the longest my hair ever got to natural was collar bone length (and that was just at the back!) I noticed that although I had some length to put my hair in to a hair band and other styles, I didn’t like how my hair looked out. Additionally I couldn’t quite get the moisture right, my ends will always break in the shower and I will always notice that by day 2 my hair felt dry and matted. It was very difficult to style my hair on day 2 and I will just resort to a protective hair style for the rest of the week until I would wash my hair again.
I felt very attached to my hair, I felt that all I wanted was length, my first goal was arm pit length, then bra strap length to eventually waist length being my ultimate goal, but I noticed I will constantly get set backs. My hair will always break at the ends and I felt that this was due to split ends so I decided to trim my ends quite frequently, this still did not combat the breakage. I then decided that maybe I needed to go to a professional to trim my ends instead, as I may not have been getting all the split ends. In the hairdressers they will vigorously blow my hair dry then straighten it before cutting. It had a good shape but this still did not combat the dryness. I still wanted to hold on to my length and felt that I should ignore the dryness as this was probably the nature of my hair. I will watch a lot of videos and be inspired by different people’s hair journey and told my self to keep at it and soon I will reach my hair goals. However, I constantly noticed others on youtube having way longer hair than mine in such a shorter space of time (by 4 years, their hair will be waist length!) I was obsessed. But my hair was still the way it was, maybe retaining 1 or 2 inches then appearing to stop retaining any at all.
It all changed
After having my daughter in early 2014, my priorities started changing, I wasn’t so obsessed with watching youtube videos and admiring other natural girls’ hair as I was occupied with looking after a baby. One day I decided to drastically dye my hair for a change and noticed a breakage patch in the middle of my hair (this was ongoing but got worse with the bleached hair). I decided that once and for all I am ready to cut my hair off and start again! I couldn’t wait to start again that I pleaded with the hair dresser to cut my hair on the day of my hair consultation, (bearing in mind this was the first ever time we were meeting) she told me my hair was severely damaged and she didn’t want to just cut it all off for the problem to continue and told me that she will consult with another professional before I come back the next day. I took pictures of my length once and for all before getting it all cut to a short tapered hair style. I was happy with the results and felt relieved till a certain point…
So I did the big chop in June 2014 and about a few months later I decided I wanted to grow my hair out again. I was able to read my hair much better now as it was shorter and it was in good(ish) shape. I decided that I wanted to get my hair trimmed professionally every 3 months for maintenance but every time I went to the hairdressers, they required for my hair to be stretched out before trimming, so heat was used quite vigorously. The last time I got my hair trimmed, I noticed that after I washed my hair (from the blow out) I had some heat damage, I wasn’t too happy with this at all, considering I had a fresh start and all! Anyway, I didn’t feel that it was right that I kept on trying to get my hair to submit to what I wanted it to do – twist outs, blow outs etc. I was desperate to get my hair to grow much longer than it has ever been before and I figured that the methods I was using to try and grow it out wasn’t working.
Back to square 1
I decided to continue my research in to finding what will work for me. I ended up finally reading The curly girl handbook by Lorraine Massy as I was always hearing about this method but didn’t think I had the type of hair to do it, I decided to start the method using Tressemme naturals. I wasn’t immediately satisfied as I noticed that every time I will come out of the shower, leaving in the conditioner, like the book suggested, my hair was left with a lot of product residue. After applying the gel on top of the residue, I will be left with white wet hair for the whole day! I was still on the pursuit to find a routine with minimal manipulation that worked well for me. I then came across a book called Curly like me: How to grow your hair healthy, long and strong by Tery LaFlesh. This book was a good read, however again, I noticed the same residue problem as the principals were very similar to the curly girl method but leaving the hair with conditioner only, instead of the added gel step. Among other small tweaks. Anyway I continued my research, reading more online and watching videos, then I came across the maximum hydration method.
I read about the maximum hydration method on www.maxhydrationmethod.com and decided to give it a go, as what was being said seemed to be addressed at me. My hair was dry, dull, lifeless and whenever I will try the wash and go with leaving the conditioner in, my hair was left with a whole load of residue on it for the whole day. The information explained that this happened due to the hair having low porosity and not being able to absorb much, if any, product. It made a lot of sense! I began to realise why my hair was left dull, products were simply sitting on my hair and overtime this was causing build up. The product was not being absorbed at all! The regimen, which was originally thought of by Aketafitgirl on youtube (who was also following the curly girl method) consisted of clarifying the hair before every wash with either apple cider vinegar or baking soda, following up with a deep condition, then a mud wash before moisturising then sealing with a gel for more definition. This worked for me straight away, I immediately noticed a difference in my hair. My hair was responding to the product and was much more moisturised, as a result, my hair began to curl from the ends and slowly was moving up towards the roots. I did the regimen for 8 days straight and my hair couldn’t be happier. I felt that my hair was already retaining more length. Also a lot of the progress was attributed to the products that I was now using, I ditched the tressemme naturals as this contained certain ingredients that didn’t like to absorb in to my hair, and decided to purchase a batch of Kinky curly knot today conditioner and Kinky curly curling custard. These were my new staple products and I could use the conditioner for both the deep conditioning as well as the leave in.
Although the maximum hydration method was so good for my hair, it took a lot of time to complete all of the steps. I would usually start the first part of the process the night before, before finishing the process in the morning. This was not something I could keep up with for too long as I have a daughter, who still needs my attention a lot of the time. Therefore I decided to moderate the regimen to suit me. I found that after completing all of the steps one day, the next day all I needed to do was simply allow the water from the shower to hit my hair, shake my hair and go. My hair looked as good as it looked on day 1, if not even better! On the third day, I will do the same thing I did on the second day but my hair will definitely be a little more dry since most of the product was washing away. I will start the whole process again on day 4.
As it got colder outside, my hair will take a little longer to dry and I wasn’t very comfortable with leaving my hair with water droplets on the ends, as I wasn’t sure what havoc I could cause with the harsh wind. Therefore, I began using a t-shirt to help absorb some of the moisture, as a result I will have less product in my hair and my second day hair wouldn’t look quite as good as it did before. I also noticed that because I was missing some steps, due to time e.g. going straight in to a co wash and adding the gel and missing out the clarifying step etc. my hair wasn’t absorbing the moisture at the styling step as it did before and I was left with some residue that will remain and get flaky by the end of the day, this actually happened even when I was following all the steps but more so when not. I think the way to combat this happening is really watering down the conditioner I will be leaving in before adding the gel step.
Where I am now
So I am now aware of what works for my hair, that is clarifying my hair of any build up from my last styling product, then deep conditioning before styling. However as before, I still feel that it takes a while to do, especially if I am doing it every day or every other day (which is what has worked out the best in terms of moisture). Therefore I am still doing some trial and error and working out what will be the best for me. I definitely will like to follow all the steps once a week, but in terms of maintaining my hair in between is what I am still working on. Last night I simply put on a silk scarf and fluffed my hair in the morning before spraying just a little bit of water on to it. My hair looks good and still has good moisture (this also may be attributed to the fact that I added extra virgin olive oil in between the conditioner step and gel step while styling my hair on day 1). I have decided to do the same thing tonight and see how my hair will turn out tomorrow. If my hair still has moisture, I will simply re-wet it with a little water spritz, if it looks dull or feels dry I will add a little oil over the water, trying not to disturb the curl pattern. Judging from this, I will know how long I can go between washes. By day 4 I will probably start the whole process again but instead of doing the clarifying step with ACV or baking soda (as this can be a bit more effort), I may either use a co wash or just use the conditioner that I will leave in then apply an oil then the gel. If this turns out okay, this will be my new routine! I am hoping that it does turn out okay, as it means that I will be saving time from constantly doing all the steps almost every day and also I will avoid having to walk outside my house with a soaking wet head in the cold weather everyday, it will just be twice a week instead (I may experiment with using my diffuser again, at least for the winter, but we will see I guess).
My next steps:
I have realised that whenever I want to grow out my hair, I look to youtube for inspiration but sometimes that inspiration can turn into straight obsession and I may begin to try and copy what is working for someone else. This does set me back a lot and takes my attention away from what it is I am doing that may actually be working for me. Therefore I am hoping that I can dramatically reduce the amount of hair videos I am watching, at least for now until I am well into my own routine and no one can tell me to change it 🙂
Also I will be taking hair pictures from today and try to do it routinely (maybe once every 3 months) to see how much my hair is progressing.
Every 6 months to a year I will like to do a length check video and post it onto my youtube channel
Left side: 3.5″
Right side: 4.2″
Back left side: 3″
Back right side: 3.5″
Next update will be April 2015!