Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Retaining the Hair You Grow: Chapter 1

What is included in this series is gathered from my personal experience, internet research, and tips from those who've retained what they've grown. Please do your own research as well. Thank you.

Are you having trouble with length retention? If so (assuming you are a healthy individual) constant trims and/or breakage may be the culprit. It is that simple. The difficulty, however, is minimizing trims ... and more so, minimizing breakage.

REASONS FOR TRIMMING: Desiring an even length, eliminating split ends, removing color treated ends, removing damaged ends, etc.

REASONS FOR SPLITS: Dryness, over manipulation, chemical damage, mechanical damage, weathering, etc.

REASONS FOR BREAKAGE: Dryness, over manipulation, chemical damage, mechanical damage, etc.

So what steps can one take to minimize trims and breakage ... and thus retain length? Attack the problem: dryness, over manipulation, chemical damage, and mechanical damage. More on chemical damage another time. In the time being, here are steps to address the other areas. Feel free to add them to your hair care regimen:

* PUT YOUR HAIR AWAY: Aim for a majority protective-style (styles that protect the ends of your hair) routine. Some of these styles include: braids, twists, buns, wigs, weaves, etc. Be sure that these styles are not done too tightly. Also be sure to allow breaks between styles. For wigs, it is best to stay away from drying wig caps (such as cotton).

* SIMPLE, BASIC REGIMEN - In a nutshell, keep it simple. Cleanse, condition, and moisturize. How you do these three steps is your choice, but keep it simple. A simple, basic regimen also means no over using relaxer and color applications. Simple = low manipulation.

* ELIMINATE EXCESSIVE HEAT - Stay away from direct heat altogether, or at the very least, minimize its usage. Direct heat includes flat-irons, blow dryers, pressing combs, etc. Opt for indirect heat or airdrying instead. Go for a roller set under a hooded dryer instead of blow drying and flat ironing. Airdry in chunky braids and unleash your fro instead of blow drying for that stretched fro.

* MINIMIZE COMBING / BRUSHING - Less combing equals less breakage. Use your fingers in place of your comb (or brush) as much as you can. I currently comb my hair 1x every few months.

* PUT THE SCISSORS DOWN - Turn to dusting or search & destroy instead of regular trimming. Trim 1x every 6 months as opposed to every 1-2 months. Trim ONLY when you have to. With the steps above, you may be able to prolong the period between your trimming sessions.

* USE COCONUT OIL - Extra virgin coconut oil has been shown to strengthen the hair and reduce breakage. It is best to apply this oil to your hair prior to manipulation.


For tips on dusting and search & destroy:


Bsquared86 said...

Good info! And i'm stealing that pic of Lauryn Hill, lol. Just had to slide by and show a fellow BHMer some blog luv!

Marilie said...

My problem is putting my hair away. I just don't have any protective styles that actually look good and that I like. I don't like to get extensions, because of the tension on my scalp. I still haven't figured out the answer to this issue, as of yet. :(

gisele69 said...

Some invaluable advice there. Thanks for sharing