Grooming Sunday, September 21, 2014
Many a hair journey starts with promise. In the first couple of months you're vigilant about taking care of your hair and treating it well. Sometimes during your hair journey it'll seem as though your hair has "stopped" growing. Unless there's an underlying health issue, hair will grow. However if the ends break off at the same rate of growth it'll seem like your growth is stagnant.
Unhealthy hair practices may stunt your hair's growth and health even if you have the most perfect regimen.Here's a small list of what may be causing you falter on your hair journey.
1. Drying with a bath towel instead of an old cotton t-shirt
Cotton can easily snag and break finer hair. Your cuticles will get roughed up leaving them open to split ends and frizz. Switch to an old t-shirt. Pat your hair dry, don't rub. That friction is damaging.
2. Using the wrong toolsUsing a fine toothed comb is one of the easiest ways to damage your hair. The comb will overtax your hair making your finer ends snap off. Try a wide-toothed comb after finger-detangling. Finger detangling takes time it will help you retain length. Oil up your fingers first so your dry hands don't cause breakage with friction.
3. Applying too much heat, incorrectlyHeat damage occurs when you don't apply a heat protectant before using heat appliances. This can lead to thinning hair or breakage. Heat isn't all bad, but as with everything; excess can be detrimental to your hair journey and goals. Our hair can become brittle, damaged, and prone to breakage, leading to visible hair loss. Heat causes temporary changes to the hydrogen bonds that hold hair together. With long term use, the temporary changes may lead to more permanent damage. Try to minimise the amount of times you use heat. Go for stretching methods that don't require heat. Shrinkage isn't your enemy. I encourage you to try going at least 6 months without using heat styling tools. You'll notice a massive improvement in your hair's health.
4. Being a product junkieA sucker is born every minute. I too fall for pretty packaging or word of mouth. But what worked for someone else won't necessarily work for you. Besides denting your pocket, many products though labelled "for ethnic hair" may not be compatible with your tresses. There are a lot of toxic ingredients out there, even if the product is marketed for natural hair. Using too many products just weighs your hair down and the products can even counteract each other. Listen to your hair. Coconut oil is one of the oils that was touted as a cure all for hair issues but it dries out my hair. Keep it simple.
5. Over manipulationThe more you comb, style, or touch your hair the more you're potentially damaging it. Try to keep a style in for at least a month before changing it. If you treat your hair gently like a cashmere sweater, you'll notice a big difference in it's length retention capabilities and overall health. There's no point in having a chemical free moisture routine only for you to ruin it with over manipulation. Gently does it.
6. Not reading the labelWe all know this by now yet we seemingly fall into this trap so often. Check for sulphates, bad alcohols, petrolatum and fragrances. Here's a more comprehensive list from the Organic Consumers Association - http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/toxic_cosmetics.cfm or save this from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Report - http://safecosmetics.org/downloads/SafeCosmetics_BlackWomen_brochure.pdf for future reference.
Stick to organic, all natural products as best as you can. Most of the commercially available hair care products we use contain harmful (potentially carcinogenic) ingredients.
7. Not trimming enough or over trimmingTrimming and dusting play an essential part in fighting split ends. However, you can have too much of a good thing, and trims fall into this category. If you don't trust someone else doing it, do it yourself using YouTube tutorials. Healthy hair doesn't require as many trims as unhealthy tresses. The less you do to your hair, the less likely you'll need frequent trims.
8. Chemical Overprocessing - Bleaching and PermsBleaching your hair penetrates the cuticle with chemicals and removes your natural pigment. This changes the structure of your hair, making it more susceptible to damage. Once you bleach, you've altered the strength of your hair, making it weaker. If you add blow drying and styling on top of bleaching, you can really cause damage like breakage, dullness, and split ends. Try to get more deep conditioning treatments after colouring your hair.
If you really must get a relaxer - ask your stylist to make sure they only apply it to your new growth. When already relaxed hair gets relaxed this leads to thinning and lacklustre locks. Stretch out your salon visits from every 6 weeks to every 8 to 10 weeks with cute styles.
Relaxers, texturizers, and dyes will all cause some form of damage to the hair, because of the drastic changes to your hair's structure. Do with your hair what you will but do it safely.
Remember you have to be consistent with good hair care practices. Progress is sadly a long process. You cannot treat it badly and then expect for it to grow just because you're using some new wonder product. Give your hair a few months of good hair care in order to see significantly healthier hair and growth.