Monday, 6 April 2015

My Hair Journey

So this is something I haven't yet addressed on my blog with you guys but I'm actually on a bit of a rollercoaster journey with my hair at the moment. Just over a year ago I made the decision to embrace my hair in it's natural state, so for me, that meant ditching the constant weaves and hair straightening and just working with what God gave me.

After I finished university I started wearing my hair in straight weaves because I just didn't want to have to deal with my afro hair every morning before work. I did this for about 3 years before realising that my actual hair had started to lose its curl pattern and was no longer growing but just breaking off at the ends. I had no love or respect for my own hair I simply took the weave out, washed it and then bam put another weave in and off I was again.

My very good friend Simone has gorgeous natural curly hair and kept saying to me every time we met up - "ditch the weave Tan, embrace your curls please!" I finally decided to listen and began to read everything I could about the natural hair journey.

When I took my weave out for the first time my natural hair was quite short and very damaged so I tried to lay off the hair straighteners and didn't put any weave in my hair at all for a year straight.  I think it got a lot thicker and healthier because of this.

I then mistakenly bleached my hair in June 2014 before my holiday and that messed up my curls and made my hair extra brittle and prone to breaking - slowing down the growth and health of my hair :-( If you can see below you can hardly see the curls in my hair any more and it became extremely dry.

I can't say this journey been easy and there have been soooo many days where I've been tempted to just put another weave in when I look in the mirror and don't see bra strap length hair or the perfect curl pattern like the beautiful curly hair gurus on Instagram. However, I'm determined to learn to love my hair just as it is and although difficult it's a rewarding process seeing the positive growth and the health of my hair.

My curly hair routine

If you have black or mixed race hair like myself then you'll know that our hair is prone to frizzing and drying out so we have to be extra vigilant about our hair care regimes. I read a lot about starting a natural hair journey by doing the big chop. I didn't feel like I needed to do this as I've never chemically relaxed my hair and so I just decided to work with what I had:

1. Take more care to protect my hair

I realised that one of the main reasons my hair probably hadn't been growing as much as it should be was because the ends were simply breaking. I know now that I need to protect the ends of my hair from breakage if I want to retain length. The most common causes of breakage are heat, chemicals and rough treatment. I was guilty of all three. I was constantly assaulting my hair with my GHDs, bleaching it, and brushing it when it was dry.

I stopped straightening and only brought out my straighteners for special occasions when I wanted a change in look every 3 months or so. I've been making a concious effort to keep my ends tucked away as much as I possibly can. I now tend to keep my hair up in a bun most days and when I sleep too so that I don't break the ends whilst sleeping. Many natural hair enthusiasts also recommend sleeping with a silk scarf or pillow, something I'm yet to try.

2. Add more protein my diet

Our locks are largely composed of keratin which is a protein made up of amino acids, so eating protein is so important for growing healthy hair. Protein not only promotes hair growth but also healthy nails and healthier skin. Win win? I'd say so. Protein hair treatments are  a great way for giving your hair that much needed protein especially when it's feeling dry and brittle. I used Nexxus Emergencee Restorative Strength Conditioning Treatment 3.3 Ounce which you can buy here.

3. Massage my scalp

A gentle scalp massage every day will stimulate the blood supply to the hair follicle, bringing it nutrition and helping increase hair growth. The more you help the follicle secrete oil and push out the hair, the better. Before I go to bed each night, I spend a few minutes gently massaging my scalp and it feels SO good. 
4. Removed sulphate from all hair products

I now avoid any shampoos or conditioners with sulphate. I will ONLY buy shampoos that are sulphate free. Sulphate is harsh for people with very curly hair and it strips our hair which over time can make hair dry and brittle.  I'm currently using Argan oil Morrocan sulphate-free shampoo which you can find here, or I tend to buy it from my local Afro-Caribbean hair shops. The stuff is just ah-mazing, it smells glorious and makes my hair feel soft like a baby *lovestuck face* 

5. Deep conditioning treatments

My hairdresser was lovely enough to recommend a good deep conditioning hair masque which I use twice a month to give my hair some extra protein to restore my hair's strength and protect it against breakage. After shampooing, I apply the conditioner throughout my hair generously, and then leave it in. I cover my hair with cling film (or if I don't have any, I go ghetto style and use a plastic bag). I then blow-dry it for five minutes or so and then leave it covered for a few hours.

I honestly find it soooo hard to stick with my natural hair especially on days when I've got a big night out and have no idea what to do with my hair when I'm so used to straightening it or just styling the weave I have in. I really hope I can keep it up though, I'd love to have longer, thicker natural hair!

Wish me luck!

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