Monday, 23 January 2012

For Coily Headed Girls when the Tangles are Enough..

Digging through the archives brought up this old post that was written around this time last year - and jeez it's a long one!
Sometimes, people end up getting REALLY fed up with their hair.

I can't lie - I know how it feels. At the beginning, I hadn't cracked what my hair needed at all and it was at a length where I couldn't get away with just washing and leaving it without suffering serious consequences soon after.

I remember waaaaaay back in the day when de-tangling took me three hours.

Three. Bloody. Hours.

Just to de tangle my hair.

And it was barely shoulder length.

Plus, I lost a buck load of hair.

I was so frustrated, I considered crying, because I was tired of my hair breaking and falling out and being dry and not really know what I was doing and simply being stuck in a stalemate with my hair. I mean, I'd already been through puberty once.

This second chance at adolescence through my hair was not appreciated.

When I worked out that the Denman brush I was using was the equivalent of constantly taking an axe to my hair and stopped using it, that stopped a lot of breakage. This was also a defining moment - it took me £11 ($18?) to realise that coily/curly haired people are not a monolith -  if we are all truly unique, there is no one thing that magically works for everyone.

It's probable that here will be someone who hates it.

In this instance, it was me.

Then I put a satin scarf on my head, and hey, presto! Less moisture loss.

 Maybe you're the one whose hair hates the gel that everyone on the forums and blogs seems to love, or that leave in conditioner everyone's got to have leaves your hair greasy or unfulfilled or is too inconsistent.
Maybe you don't understand why your hair keeps breaking or it's too much effort to do and you're beginning to actually hate your hair because you can't work with it anymore and it is simply driving you nuts that you're ____ years old and you don't know how to do your own hair.
I'm sure many people can relate to that reaching an impasse with your hair but, you know, relating can only take you so far. Sometimes, what you need is some grounded advice as to what you are supposed to actually do when it all gets a bit much.

Oh, and what do we have here? 

  1. Start planning what to do with your hair in advance. For me, this is a necessity since it takes products a while to get into and work their 'magic' on my hair. With my Christmas Meal Twist and Curl, I did a visual run through of my day to make sure it was possible.
    I still ended up taking my flex-rods out, taking pictures of my hair and applying lip balm, all whilst trying to drag on a pair on tights in the two minutes before the bus left, but since I wasn't doing this on the actual bus, I'll count it as a win for me

  2. Invest in hats and beanies and head scarves and other accessories. They can literally be life savers if something goes wrong. That means if you're not feeling the way your hair is, putting in a decorative hair pin can take attention away from that weird spot that didn't curl right; you can tie on a scarf and switch it up the style into a puff; or throw on a hat, do something interesting with your bangs and cover the rest up. I find that charity shops and thrift stores can sell the most gorgeous scarves, from prices ranging from 49p up to £4, so it's always worth having a bit of a nosey in.

  3. Put it into a protective style and just leave it. I can leave my twists in for around 3 to 4 weeks After 3 weeks, I'm itching to take them out and start harassing my hair again. If you get bored of having your hair look the same, and to prevent you taking them out, you can take a look at Newly Naturals 101 Twisted Styles. At the moment, they aren't yet 101 styles, but it's definitely a start! You can even use kinky twists or extensions or braids or weaves in your hair - it doesn't make you a 'natural hair traitor' or a 'natural on the DL' - you're just taking care of your hair.

  4. Read other people's blogs and the comments. You'll get different perspective, new ideas, and encouragement from other people who. You may even find yourself encouraging other people.
    If you keep a record for yourself, such as photos on your phone, it means you have inspiration at your fingertips when you don't have time or access to the internet to check out your favourite blogger
    Also, you can find out vital information, like if your favourite blogger is unwell (which is why the new comments on a certain post trying to enter a give away that said it would finish 3 weeks ago seriously narks me off!)

  5. Decide if it'll be easier for you longer or shorter. Some people instinctively say 'longer' because they want longer hair that goes all the way down their ankles and they can use to show off to all the haters and shake their hair like they're Rapunzel and even Chaka Khan will be jealous.
    But if you cannot be assed to put in the work to get there, you'll find it difficult reach that length and you'll be stuck in the same rut of frustration - of rough handling, due to lack of patience, continual breakage and no length retention.
    One of my favouritest British bloggers, natural belle, wears her hair in a TWA and every time I see her, I have to fight myself not to get the clippers. In one of her videos, she says it's because it's convenient and easy for her. When she wants long hair, she simply clips in a wig (which fooled many into believing she'd had a ridiculously huge growth spurt).

  6. Make hair time fun for yourself - so that you want to do your hair, rather than needing to. One thing I've learnt from reading Happy Hair Girl and Beads Braids Beyond is how the mums make the effort to amuse their children while their doing their hair, so they don't think it's a horrible, terrible chore and start to hate the hair they've been blessed with. So, I do the same with me. While I'm putting stuff in my hair, I'll catch up with my online Naruto manga and my Bleach anime, or the latest episode of my latest K-drama obsession (Secret Garden!). If I've got a (non drippy) deep conditioner in and it's going to be a while, I do some school work, or file my nails and make it a spa morning, or I put on a shower cap, then a hat and go out shopping or to the cinema or to hang out for a while. I always look forward to doing my hair, because there's so much to try, style wise and I get excited about watching my shows and having time to myself.
    Trying to do small twists in a dark room by yourself with nothing to entertain you is probably one of the tasks in Dante's ninth circle.

  7. If the spirit moves you, try locs. I don't know much about them, but I suspect detangling isn't really an issue. Plus, if you get fed up with them, you can take them down instead of just cutting them off.

  8. Be Patient. Do you. And do your hair as well.
    Hmm. That sounded a lot more deep in my head.
    But I mean, I used to treat my hair like it belonged to someone else, pulling and tugging like that girl in the video I saw. I am very strong for someone that hates the gym so.
    I also have very fine hair. This equalled breakage.
    Or I got mad because I didn't like the way my bantu knots turned out but someone else looked awesome in them.
    Ah well. I don't do bantu knot outs now because I don't think they suit me and I'm a helluva lot more careful with my hair than before. And there's less breakage now.

  9. Throw out the rule book. You know the ones: No silicones, no mineral oils; that shea butter and love is all you need for length retention, protective styles most of the time, moisturising every single day etc etc.
    I like to think of them more as 'guidelines'. If something is working for your hair and you like it, don't let anybody tell you differently.
    I don't use silicones and mineral oils on my hair because they don't work for me.
    But for this same reason, I don't use pure shea butter on my hair.
    And if something blatantly isn't working...well. The words 'flogging' 'dead' and 'horse' come to mind. Don't be afraid to experiment - if wet de tangling isn't working for you, try it damp or dry (with conditioner in of course!) If taking down twists after 4 weeks means you're ripping out your hair, try braids or wearing out styles.
    Variety is the spice of life! [/cheesy clichรฉ moment]

  10. Be flexible. Hopefully, you are planning your hair around your life and not vice versa. When other areas of your life are getting a bit hectic and stressful, the last thing you want to do is worry about your hair. When I was little and this TV show was talking about pathetic excuses people made for not going on dates or hanging out with their friends, and the one they presented as the silliest was "Oh, sorry, I'm washing my hair."
    At the age of 8, I remember thinking "Who washes their hair that often!?"
    At the age of 18, I felt that actually, with the amount of time it takes to wash my hair, and do all that came after, this was a decent and extremely relevant excuse and EVERYONE SHOULD RE-ARRANGE THEIR SOCIAL LIVES SO THAT I CAN DO MY HAIR.
    Nowadays, I'd just wash my hair another day. Or think of a far better excuse (things involving flatulence is surprisingly effective and also prevents further questioning).
So for example, a potential 'hair plan' might look like:
I could de-tangle Friday night, put my hair in fat twists for the night.
Then I could put in a deep conditioner on the twists, shower cap, satin scarf under a hat while I go food shopping on Saturday.
Take twists out, pull hair back into a ponytail for church on Sunday morning, then wear a headband for netball. Rinse scalp after netball. Put twists in Sunday afternoon whilst reading some seminar work and leave it in for two weeks, because term is getting busy, and I don't have time to do my hair.
Deep condition weekly
Then, take them out, wear a twists out in a puff for two days with an interesting headband or flower.
Woke up later than planned, so rough French braid hair on Wednesday morning and then tie on a scarf.
A different scarf in a different position on Thursday.
Then Friday, take the braids out and wear them to the side or something or pin them in an interesting manner that I saw on a blog I read.

This type of  'plan' takes me about ten minutes to do, while watching my rice boil on a Thursday. I just run through stuff I have to do in my head through the week, thinking, 'Oh, I can fit a DC (deep condition) in there!' or, I won't have time to do anything that day, just puff it, and then on the day, I want to do something interesting with my fringe, so I roll it under or something. I now very rarely get bored with my hair now. However, sometimes - okay, a lot of the time - the plan completely and utter goes to pot.
And that's this ttidbit is for:

11. Minimise. Because sometimes you get busy and you have stuff to do and the last thing you want to worry about is your hair. So rather than preserving and treating and having a massive pamper session, you will be managing and dealing and trying to minimise the inevitable damage. And that's okay. I can't help with the minimising of the guilt though. I suppose that's what ice cream and sweet treats are for.

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