I have been pondering on this of late. Why is it that most black women are not consistent when it comes to their hair? It seems that other cultures tend to accept how their hair grows out of their scalp and can basically wear the same style for years upon years. Other cultures do not seem to have a problem growing out their hair, and we all know by now that all hair grows. On average hair grows at about 1/2″ a month whether you are black, white, Asian or any other culture for that matter. Of course, some people’s hair may grow slower or faster but this is based on genetics.
Now with other cultures, other than black, they tend to know exactly how to wash and condition their hair, how to dry and detangle their hair and how to wear their hair on a daily basis. It might be that they choose to wear it out and down for the most part and on special occasions change things up. Or maybe occasionally it is in a bun or ponytail. But let’s be real, they know exactly how to handle their hair for the most part (unless they are damaging it severely with heat styling or colour in which they know what the actual issue is and how to handle it). And if they were to have a bad haircut, they know it just will be a matter of time before their hair grows back. It’s basically predictable.
But when it comes to us black girls, we tend to change things up with our hair so regularly that when I wrote a list of the styles I have done to my hair in the past, I was pretty shocked! I have put my head of hair through so much it’s unbelievable! Now I know that our hair is versatile and we can do so much to our hair, and lots of us like to use our hair as a form of expression. But could this be the reason why lots of us cannot get our hair to retain length? Could this be why so many of us suffer from breakage and damaged hair a lot of the time?
I have been pondering on this because it has been a very long time since I have been trying to grow my hair long. It was 15 years ago when I went natural and I told myself that I will like to grow my hair to bra strap length. I never did get there. And now here we are, 15 years later and I have changed my goal to waist length. Yes, optimistic I know, especially considering that I did not get to grow my hair to my initial goal of bra strap length. But I am optimistic and I believe one day I will grow my hair to waist length and even beyond!
So, through the years I have of course had a lot of setbacks and have had to start again on my hair growth journey a few times. Even as recent as last year. It was November 2021 when I went to get the damage chopped off. It was the best decision for my hair. The longest I had ever grown my hair is to below shoulder blade length (BSB) but my hair was definitely not at its healthiest then. Anyway, after my chop in November 2021, I was back at neck length. My hair was short again and could not even fit into one hair band talk less of a bun. And so the journey continues. Now I am here just over 4 months after what I hope is my final set back, and I am proud to say my hair has been growing in steadily and I have been retaining a good amount of length. I am now at collar bone length (CBL) if stretched at the back.
I truly believe that in the black community, we do way too much with our hair. I think there is no argument with this point. We continue to chop and change our routines, our hair styles, whether we are going to wear extensions or a braid out, wash and go, or have it straightened or in a Bantu knots, relaxed or maybe this time we will wear weaves. It’s just too much! I don’t see how our hair can thrive if we keep changing things up!
It was just this week I told myself I am going to give myself a 6-month hair challenge because I suddenly got the itch to change things up and I knew it was not going to serve me or my hair! It got to the point where 2 weeks ago I wanted to experiment with wash and go styles and that same week, I found myself straying from my hair wash routine of once a week, to washing my hair every other day to keep up with my wash and go maintenance! Let’s just say things did not turn out well for me and I thought I was going to have to chop off a bunch of my hair yet again! Thank God that all I needed was a thorough trim after that week. That week I literally washed my hair 4 times! I knew it was time for a challenge. I am not about to have another setback, this time I am certain I will reach my goals.
So of course, I pondered on it and thought, why is it so hard to just be content with my hairstyle of choice and keep things consistent. Surely, with a consistent style choice, there will be no confusion and I will keep up a healthy regimen to allow for my hair to grow and thrive with minimal breakage. And this is what I aim to do.
Just to point something out, last year in August, I decided I was going to stay away from wearing extensions until at least the end of the year. I had had enough with the damage that was caused by wearing extensions. I literally had thinning hair, and breakage and the icing on the cake was that I had a very noticeable bald spot in the middle of my head, which I am still recovering from now. I am proud to say that up until now, I have not worn any form of extensions in my hair. Oh, I almost cracked a few times but my husband thankfully talked me out of it (he loves my natural hair and has tried to get me to care for it properly by looking after it without the need for extensions). So here I am, 8 months later, and I can say I am recovering from the need to wear extensions. Side note – there was a whole movement where black girls were going natural and staying away from the ‘creamy crack’, but I think a new movement of staying away from wearing extensions and simply accepting the hair that was created just for us, is necessary!
Anyway, back to what I was saying about consistency. For the next 6 months, I have decided that boredom is what I need. My hair should not be what I use to experiment with. That is, if I want my hair to grow long anyway! I do not need to chop and change things up, or just see what my hair will look like in this style or that style, or focus on other people’s hair journey’s and try to imitate what they are doing. I simply need to choose a style that I like on me, with my own hair, and simply stick to it for a long enough time. My hair does and will grow, with consistency it will continue to retain length. I have even decided that washing it and moisturising it, will be based on my hair’s schedule, not on what other people says I need to be doing. I do not necessarily need to choose a day out of the week to wash my hair and stick to a rigid ‘regimen’. I can simply get to know my hair, feel my hair, is it dry? does it need extra moisure? If it does, I give my hair the extra moisture that it needs. If I notice that my hair has reached a point where it can no longer except extra moisture, and I know that with my hair this happens and this is because my strand is full of too much product with no extra space to take in more moisture, and in that case, I will simply wash my hair and remove the excess buildup. And it should be as simple as that! I pretty much guarantee that by the end of my 6 months challenge, I will have retained the length I want, and that is at least another 3 inches meaning I will go from my current length of CBL to APL (Arm pit length). And at that point, the journey continues and I simply repeat until I reach my goal of 20″. In theory this should take me 2.5 years taking account of extra trims throughout the year.
So yes, I have already calculated this, it is not rocket science. We as a black race, are just doing too much. We need to choose 1 style and stick to it.
My style of choice? Mini twists. I actually have in my hair now, mini twists with a twist. I had mini twisted the back half of my hair and flat twisted the front into 4 large mini twists. It turned out that I like the style. So, i’m either going to wear my hair just like that for 6 months – of course re-doing my hair when needed, or I will have my whole hair in mini twists. And that’s it! The rest is a waiting game.
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