My Hair Journey Gallery

Overview

I started my hair journey in June 2008 with badly damaged neck length relaxed hair which was the longest my hair ever got at the time. I would always have new growth to touch up but the length remained the same year after year. After searching online for solutions to breakage, I stumbled on a hair forum online and discovered a world where scores of black women grew their tresses to never before imagined lengths. They were sharing their information for free and after a few months of dedicated reading and research, I became well versed in how to care for black hair properly for length retention.

I decided to go natural simply because hair is strongest in it’s natural state and I also started using healthy hair practices and techniques.. After transitioning for around 18 months, I chopped all the relaxed ends off and the rest, as they say, is history. My hair is currently waist length and it continues to grow!

I started BlackHairInformation.com to help relaxed and natural women of color find the information and support they need to grow their hair long and healthy. You will more than likely find all the information you need to get started on your hair journey at BHI so please visit today.

This blog chronicles my own journey as I continue to grow my hair ever longer. My full regimen can be found here. My full year by year account of my long hair journey can be found below.

2008

This was the year that I started my hair journey. My last relaxer was in June 2008 and at the time my hair was short and nothing I did at that point could undo the damage that my previous careless relaxers had done.  I kept the faith however and continued with my healthy hair regimen in spite of the constant breakage knowing that eventually with the new stronger hair growing, the breakage would stop.

In spite of the breakage my regimen helped my hair reached shoulder length which was the longest it had ever been in my life, pathetic I know. At the time I was planning to do a long stretch between relaxers but at some point my stretch turned into a transition to natural hair!

2009

I was transitioning throughout 2009, I styled my hair in curly hair do’s in preparation for being natural. I was really enjoying the thickness of my new growth compared to my thin relaxed ends.

I finally chopped off the remaining relaxer at the end of the year for a total of 18 months transition. I switched between braids, weaves and occasional flat ironing to get through my transition with weekly deep conditioning treatments.

The first thing I did after big chopping was to color highlights into my hair. I’ve always loved hair color but when I tried it in the past as a relaxed head, my hair literally melted off so knowing that my natural hair was strong, I always planned to color it. Please note that I didn’t color all my hair (that’s too damaging), I only lift color off pieces of hair especially at the top. It gives the same effect as a full head of highlights with little to no long term damage.

2010

In this year I was concentrating mostly on ‘the grow out’ after being left with pretty short  hair following the big chop. I was still finding my styling feet with my natural hair so I did the usual wash and go’s, braid outs, twist outs and curly puffs. It was in this year that I developed a taste for braid outs and they remain my favorite go to hairstyle to date.

I deep conditioned weekly with heat without fail and did my protein treatments as necessary. I realised how much length the single strand knots were costing me so I decided to change my styling regimen to include straighter hair. Gone were the wash and go’s to be replaced by a fair bit of flat ironing and stretched braid outs.

I wore a few weaves and extension braids 3-4 times as protective styles. I also did braids with just my own hair for variety. Protective styling for the year was at around 40-50%.

2011

This is the year that I finally accepted that my hair was ‘long’ and it was a wonderful feeling! I had accomplished a goal that a mere few years ago I would have dismissed as being something one would need the ‘right genes’ for.

As the length of my hair increased so did it’s volume and although I had no intention of ever returning to a relaxer, I wanted something that would loosen my texture somewhat while allowing me to continue wearing curly styles. I decided on a Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) but the first one made very little difference and I did not get the promised ‘looser texture that I wanted. After a short stint of heat training which made absolutely no difference, I abandoned the idea and decided to do a second BKT which I found gave me the desired results!

Owing to all the heat training sessions and BKT’s I found that in the first half of the year I wore my hair mostly straight in between protective styling and I was rewarded with hair just grazing mid back length by June of that year!

Having successfully loosened my texture slightly I started wearing a braid out almost every week after buying into the idea that a heat free regimen would be better for my hair. By October I found that it was a huge mistake, I actually retain the most length when my hair is either in protective styles or straight. Even so, by the end my hair was full MBL (mid back length).

2012

This year my regimen has not changed much. I still deep condition with heat most weeks. I didn’t do a mid year length check and I’m still finding it very difficult to get out of the ‘braid out’ habit. The main issue is that the length and volume of my hair right now makes it an inconvenience to go through the process of flat ironing it weekly, it just takes too long so braid outs tend to win out.

In spite of heat training/BKT’s I still get 40-50% shrinkage as before. The only real difference, apart from the somewhat looser curls, is how much easier it is to deal with my hair (volume wise) and the fact that ssk’s are greatly reduced so I am able to retain more length. For this reason I am now in the process of finding a way to wear a braid out weekly while retaining length. Lately I have achieved this by way of either ‘double stretching’ my braid outs while simultaneously never allowing my ends to curl up completely (this prevents majority of the single strand knots), or doing a braid out on blown out hair.

I use the tension method to blow out my hair which doesn’t take much time and I am currently dabbling in a comb free regimen too. I recently confirmed my suspicion that I only get 4 inches of hair per year so I have started taking hair vitamins to try and increase this. Further having discovered how metabolism affects a lot of bodily processes including hair growth rate, I have recently made the decision never to diet again and instead work on getting adequate nutrition and to help increase my body temperature and hence metabolism back to normal levels.

I will tentatively admit that I am now grazing waist length based on my recent sneaky peek at home but I do not plan to flat iron for an official length check until the end of the year or early January 2013. Stay tuned for more pics at the end of the year!

2013 (Current Year)

This year although I originally didn’t want to have an official hair goal I have decided to go for hip length, just because! I don’t have any plans at the moment to wear weaves or extension braids but no doubt I will be protective styling by way of buns and possibly braids with just my own hair. To challenge myself, I have decided to go the whole year without using sew ins at all. They were fun when my hair was shorter but the last couple of times I have installed one, it has felt really uncomfortable and a week later, it’s usually out again! Certainly not worth the trouble any more.

I’m not really sure when I will be doing an official length check, possibly half way through the year and again at the end of the year. Stay tuned.

Weaves & Braids

These are pictures of some of the protective weaves and braids that I have utilised in my hair journey. Although I have never managed to go over the 3 week mark for any protective style, I find that they really help with length retention. I also find that switching up styles, textures and lengths helps to keep me from getting bored of protective styling. By and large I prefer to wear my own hair but protective styling has been invaluable in my hair journey.







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  • Mschaira

    oh my Godd!

    • http://www.lessfoodmorelife.com/ BHI

      Good I hope :)

      • Mschaira

        girl those pics make me want to cry! I can't believe the before and after! I now have hope!

  • Lashawn

    wow! I stumbled on this website…IMPRESSIVE!

    • http://www.lessfoodmorelife.com/ BHI

      Thanks!

  • Penelope

    I have been reading your blog for a while now. But today I finally subscribed and book-marked your site. Your hair is absolutely gorgeous! and so is your husband's
    hair.

    Do what you have to about the weight, because I may be doing the same thing.
    My mother is an RN and recommended I try the lap band surgery. She said it is
    less invasive then the gastric by-pass.

    Just love all your Good! none-sense advice. Loveeeeee this blog.

    • http://www.lessfoodmorelife.com/ BHI

      Thanks girl! I guess you meant no nonsense! lol, but you right, I like to tell it like it is. Yup, the band only took 20 minutes to put in for me, the surgeon said that it's easy for slim patients (lol I know but I guess he gets lots of 500 pounders!) It's going well so far but I'm still only a coupla months into that particular journey, so I'm crossing my fingers and toes. 

  • Susan

    hi BHI when i first stumbled on this website i thought "thats not possible" but i subscribed anyway.the first day i stayed up all night to read all i could.i've always struggled with my relaxed hair and like you always wondered why the lenght never changes with each retouch.i am inspired and even though my natural hair is so stubborn thats why i keep it relaxed,i plan to go natural and grow it.thanks for sharing.

  • Sexystar60

    how long did it take you to grow it that long

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ BHI

      About 3/12 years, or so

  • Godezz

    So do you think that relaxed hair can grow that long?

  • Lov3lyaquariu5

    I have a couple of questions/concerns. I really do hope you're able to answer and help me. Just asking no harm intended but are u mixed? The reason Im asking is I was told if you're mixed it helps with having long hair or ur guaranteed to have it. Also I just turned the big 3. 0. again listening to various different people Ive heard the older you are the harder it is for your hair to grow, is that true? Last one I made a horrible mistake letting someone else perm my hair and she caused my hair some serious damage whereas I'm ready to get it all cut off. Luckily I haven't just yet because I'm trying to figure out which route to go. I do know that because of this I'm officially ready to be natural. Im also planning on going to the gym regularly, which is another reason why Im going natural. Do you have any advice for me? I love hair been wearing different kinds of it since 94. I considered growing locks but I know me and I know thats not something I want to do. Long, short, waves or curls love em all. I'd be very happy if I could get it at least shoulder blade length.Right now its pass my neck but I know i would have to get it cut cause the damage… thanks for time and your page. keep up the good work

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Hi there! You won't believe how many times I get the 'are you mixed' thing. No I'm not. Both parents black same as grandparents and great grandparents. I've said before on the blog that before I began a HHJ my hair was perpetually stuck at the neck length stage year in year out so I don't have any hair growth 'genes' or anything. I turned 31 about 4 months ago so age aint not excuse either my dear! lol Length is only achieved by a good hair regimen regardless genetics. Period. The best way to get started on your hair care journey is to create a good regimen – start here:  http://www.blackhairinformation.com/all-you-will-

  • Lola from UK!!

    Just stumbled on your website and I must say you have totally inspired me to go natural, I was on the fence about the big change but I am totally convinced I can do it now. I would however like to know what exact products you used when you first went natural, and what you use now, also my hair is really thin/light and quite soft even though it is proper afro so do you think/know of if I would have to do anything different?

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Hi Lola, glad to hear that you are considering the natural thing. I cannot recommend it highly enough mostly because length retention is way more enhanced than with relaxed hair. As for the products that I used, they change so often it's probably not worth telling you but here goes: 
      Tresemme salon silk conditioner, 
      aphogee 2 step, 
      Gallons of S curl!
      Gallons of glycerine
      Motions protein re-constructor
      Motions hair lotion (oil free, but I don't use this one much)
      fantasia IC styling gel (olive oil)
      Fantasia IC straightening serum (pink bottle)
      Tresemme heat protectant
      Keracare setting foam
      Nexuss humectress conditioner
      Elasta qp mango butter
      Elasta qp sulfate free shampoo
      tresemme naturals shampoo (it's reduced sulfates), 
      Aubrey organics shampoo
      boots henna conditioner, 
      boots coconut conditioner, 
      elvive conditioner (the one with ceramides)
      Mega tek conditioner
      Fast grow conditioner
      Coconut oil
      Castor oil
      Regular ole sunflower oil
      Ingredients for the caramel treatment :)
      VO5 conditioners as a cowash

      I think the product junkie in me is coming out so I will stop there but as you can tell there is no rhyme or reason why I choose certain products, In essence as long as you have a good protein conditioner and a good moisturizing one, everything else will fall into place ie gels, pomades etc.

  • Lola from UK!!

    Just stumbled on your website and I must say you have totally inspired me to go natural, I was on the fence about the big change but I am totally convinced I can do it now. I would however like to know what exact products you used when you first went natural, and what you use now, also my hair is really thin/light and quite soft even though it is proper afro so do you think/know of if I would have to do anything different?

  • Mrs.V

    I have searched the site and can not locate your regimen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1454119820 Freddy Akeem Flander

     OMG! im speechless.
    the before and after pictures of ur hair is Amazing.
    im lookin all over on ur BHI page 2 find and see wha all u did 2 get ur hair like that but im not finding it :-(

  • Tracy LaBad

    These before and after pictures don't look like the same person. Its incredible. I am trying to
    grow my hair out. I have different lengths front shorter than back etc. Also my hair is just
    kinda there. I don't know how to get body. I try not to use too much product. My hair is extremely
    thin when straight and doesn't move. When in a braid out it is too dry and I get breakage. I flat iron
    once a week. I stopped shampooing because most of the sites I researched said not to that it
    strips the hair. But lately I've been seeing people like yourself saying that shampooing is mpt  so I am going back to shampooing today since I use silicone's and oils. My root is kinda thick and when I sweat which is alot it gets worst. Gosh I hope I can get this right. Thanks for this site
    its cool.

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Hahaha! Trust me, it's me in both pictures. You can see some front shots of my starting length in the 'Hair Photos' section of this site. With regards to your thin hair, mine was exactly the same when I was relaxed and nothing I could do would change that. I am now fully natural so I can flat iron my hair on low heat so that it is straight but still full. Or I can crank up the heat a bit and flat iron so that it's straight like relaxed hair. Needless to say, I prefer my hair with body! 

      My advice to you is if you are relaxed, stay away from the weekly flat ironing. Get straight hair with roller-sets.

      • Tracy LaBad

        Hi Alma,

        Thanks for the advice I did stop flat ironing. I'm going natural completely. Ive
        been growing my hair out for 7 months I donot use relaxers anymore and I
        won't. Dealing with natural hair is difficult but I'm learning thanks to you. My
        biggest problem now is dryness. I found a site which gives you natural deep
        conditioners, leave in, protein using honey, yogurt, olive oil etc. I think
        that I cannot use over the counter products most contain cones, etc. So
        I'm going to try that my hair is so dry its scary I don't want to lose what I have.
        The new growth is coming in pretty good. its near my ear but I have at least
        three inches of relaxed on the bottom. I donot want to chop it because then
        I won't have any length. Can you give me some tips. Thanks so much
        for providing us with this blog. Its definitely dope.

        Thanks -Tracy

        • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

          My biggest tip I suppose would be protective styling. I did a long term transition as well (18 months) before chopping the relaxed hair off but I did it mostly in braids and weaves with occasional flat ironing.

          Dryness can be an issue with natural hair so moisturize and seal religiously and also add steaming to your regimen because it helps a lot with softness.

  • didi

    Beautiful! am thinking of transitioning. presently, my hair is shoulder length but not as luxuriant as it used to be. but the challenge with my natural hair is that its really thick and difficult to comb out.so,what do i do?

  • Tracy

    Wow this gives me hope Alma thanks -Tracy La'Bad P>S> Its really you!!!!!!lol

  • Usoundugly

    Wonderful, my last relaxer was in April this year. I plan to do a long term transition. after your last relaxer how long did it take for your hair to get to this length?

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Hi there, my last relaxer was July 2008 and the pics were taken in Jan 2012 so just shy of 4 years. I did a long-ish term transition too, 18 months – good luck with that!

  • Trina

    Can you texturize hair that has been relaxed? I haven't had a relaxer since April of this year and want to go natural. I already have short hair and about 4 inches new growth but the ends bug me and I don't want to do the big chop. Do you have any suggestions can I texturize..I don't want to perm or telax.

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Hi Trina. I'm afraid not, Relaxers are permanent and cannot be reversed so you will eventually have to chop off the relaxed ends to become fully natural. To be honest though, as time goes on and your natural hair grows longer, the relaxed ends will break off anyway. You can do a long term transition to avoid having very short hair. These two articles will help you:

      http://www.blackhairinformation.com/natural-hair/

      http://www.blackhairinformation.com/natural-hair/

  • Erika W

    Your hair is so long and healthy looking! I've been w/o a relaxer for a few months and I don't want to get a touch up but my style is hard to maintain (the Meagan Good shortcut). I want it to grow but it's hard to keep up w/ especially this time of year and the heat and sweat makes it curl right up. Any suggestions on how I can control it? I hate adding too much heat to my hair :/

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      I love the Meagan cut! Having said that, i can imagine that its difficult to keep the look the same while growing out the relaxer. Protective styling is my only recommendation I'm afraid. Hey at least you won't have much hair to chop off when you eventually Big Chop!

  • Keonna

    Your hair is beautiful!!!!!!!!!! How did you do it I've been tryin to go natural for a few weeks then I just gave up. My hair was naturally curly but once I started using perms its like I can not get that back I want hair that I do not have to put chemicals in to straighten it. So what did you do

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Thanks Keonna. You need to look at my regimen here http://www.blackhairinformation.com/blog/my-regim… to see how I take care of my hair. Bear in mind that my hair isn't curly naturally. It's more coily 4a. The pics in my header are just braid out curls!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carmen-Ireland/1838195710 Carmen Ireland

    Love your blackhairinformation site!

  • Petra

    Just go to show, every journey is personal… ima braid-outer too!! – great post

  • Petra

    Just go to show, every journey is personal… ima braid-outer too!! – great post

  • curlyprincesses

    Your hair really is beautiful! Your hair journey inspired me to get serious about mine again and to even start a curly blog. I love this article because I was recently going to stop heat styling but I think heat and protective styles may be best for my hair growth and maintenance too..while alternating with twist and braids as well.Thanks for sharing you’re awesome :)

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Thanks curlyprincess. All the best in your journey!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Abi.Mclean Abi Henry

    I am so motivated by your blog, recently I cut off my waist length unhealthy dreadlocks and started afresh. I must admit it”s difficult to go from long hair to this lil fro that I’m now sporting and to make matters worst i don”t want to ever relax again so I’ve resorted to a weave a week. I just love to try new styles but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain weaves so often and still take proper care of my hair. After reading this article though I am a believer that I can get back my long natural hair again and it would be healthy at the same time.

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Thanks Abi! I can’t imagine how it must be for you. I started off with really damaged relaxed hair so I was glad to see it go! lol Don’t worry, if you follow your reggie religiously, you will definitely get there. All the best!

  • Dion

    I love reading your blogs. Thank you for sharing.
    Dion

  • Josann F

    hi, i see you mentioned ‘if you were in the (states)’ in a post about a stylist in MD, USA. Is it that you relocated and no longer live there? or are you originally from outside of the US? of course you don’t have to answer, but I hope you do. :)

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      I’m from the UK Josann but most of my readers are from the US. lol, never lived in the US!

  • Tukida

    Hello Alma I’m 17 and last year around this time I had almost shoulder length hair and was frustrated with the frizzing so I relaxed it and it broke off really horribly (to neck lenth) I was devastated and have been trying to regain the length I had and its been very hard ive tried lots of different things to test the effects and nothing so far has benefited me my hair is maybe only almost an inch longer than when it broke off and I would like talk to you about what you you think I should do, around this years June so like 2 months ago I consider myself to have started my hair journey and washing my hair every week but how do you suppose I should go about getting my hair back !!!

    • http://www.blackhairinformation.com/ Alma

      Hi Tukida. It would seem that you already know that it was the last relaxer that you had that caused your hair to break as badly. Not all of us have hair that can handle relaxers unfortunately.

      To get your hair back, you will probably have to take what feels like a step backwards. Your hair broke because it was over processed so you are going to have to start a regimen geared towards healthier hair which means saying away from anything too harsh like relaxers or color until you grow out the damaged hair and eventually trim it off.

      I don’t like to push natural hair on anyone but I would urge you to at least do a long stretch (4 months at least) and then decide how you feel about natural hair so you can decide if you would like to continue or touch up your roots.

      Build yourself a good hair regimen fostered towards your end goal be it long natural or relaxed hair. Good luck!

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