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.
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!
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.
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%.
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).
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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