I’ve been natural for a little over 2 years. As I look back at my regimen and hair care practices I did when my hair was relaxed, I cringe. What was I thinking? A question I ask myself frequently. For example, as someone who kept my hair cut short if all else failed and damage surfaced it would just get chopped and be replenished with fresh new strands. Now as someone who’s focus is healthy hair and optimizing growth, I’m forced to take a little more care when it comes to my hair and let go of all of the bad habits I once did on a regular. Here are just 5 that I had to let go of once I started my journey to natural.
1. Sloppy Hair Coloring
I am definitely one who enjoys a little color. While I don’t particularly like to dabble in all colors of the rainbow, I always stick to the blonde side of the spectrum. I started coloring my own hair at home in 2008. At first, I took baby steps with a honey blonde which gradually got lighter over the years. Truth be told, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the parting of my hair when applying the hair dye. I just always kind of slapped it on including the hair that was already colored to make it lighter. There result had no damage apparent to the eye, so it was all good in my book.
Unfortunately trying this same practice when I was natural resulted in me having to chop off a good 4 inches of my natural hair at the start of my journey. Over-processing my hair left me with dry, frayed ends that nothing could tame. Sad, sad day.
It’s safe to say that I learned my lesson the hard way and have had to say no to sloppy at home hair coloring.
2. Not Deep Conditioning
Is deep conditioning a requirement for relaxed hair? Many ask this and I have to say it doesn’t hurt! As more and more people seem to be jumping on the natural trail, more knowledge is being spread about the amazing benefits of deep conditioning. I wish that when I was relaxed I made an effort to deep condition and I can imagine my strands would have looked that much more amazing. Since going natural I now realize that it’s mandatory to get all of the moisturizing components into those kinked and coiled strands.
3. Shampoos with Sulfates
It seems that more manufacturers are producing shampoo products that are free of sulfates. Those harmful agents that cause the foaming lather of our shampoo are what strips our hair of it’s natural oils.
I think about the fact that if I would have avoided those shampoos when I was relaxed I wouldn’t have felt the need to pile so many oils and product onto my hair in an effort to “fix” a dry hair problem that could’ve been avoided in the first place.
Although shampoos with sulfates were drying they didn’t harm my hair as much as it does now. Because natural hair is harder to retain moisture due to those twists and turns along the strands, sulfate-free shampoo is a necessary component to keeping every bit of luster we can.
4. Not Getting Regular Trims
Before I chopped all of my hair into a pixie, I had shoulder length hair that I was trying to hold onto every bit of. I think I got a trim maybe once a year. Yes, there was the noticeably thin ends but I felt like it just wasn’t that big of a deal. I wanted length but didn’t really understand the importance that the quality of the hair matters more.
I had to let that go when I went natural because I notice how much a trim really effects your style. If I compare the results of a twist out pre-trim and post-trim, the post-trim definitely wins because the ends of my strands don’t taper down and are well defined. In addition, my fro appears fuller and there’s less frizz. Also, most importantly, since hair growth is definitely on my radar, ensuring that I don’t have dead or split ends traveling up my strands makes all the difference in the world.
5. Heat Heat and More Heat
Heat is definitely up on the list of things I had to let go of. I had no concern with heat damage in the past, as I was one who flat ironed my hair daily. For me, the maintenance of keeping up with a short, tapered pixie was a lot. I tied my hair down at night but if I wanted curls in the morning or a flipped out bang I had to pull out my flat iron. Every. Day. Yes, I know, so much heat but as I stated earlier the good thing with having a short hair cut is that you are in a constant rotation of cutting monthly and allowing fresh hair to grow back, thus avoiding having to deal with massive damage.
Now as a natural, I notice how heat can fry your hair and mess up your curl pattern. I am definitely loving my curls and don’t want to do anything to compromise them so I am leaving the heat alone as much as possible!