Hair Challenge

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We’re nearly two months into 2015 and many of us have already learned so much. Some of us made new years resolutions and some didn’t. Some of us have upheld our resolutions and some, well… it’s never too late to start over.

Last year, my resolution was to go an entire year without putting heat on my hair. This idea was a huge deal for me. I was newly natural and had been getting perms since I was 6. I made the decision to transition my hair into natural instead of doing a big chop because I was too afraid of having short hair and my go to styles usually involved a flat iron. However, in January of 2014 I was without any permed ends and had gotten my last flat iron style. After that I pledged to try my hardest to avoid heat to see what kind of difference it made. Now, being relatively new to the natural hair community, I quickly realized that, with my hair texture, there was so much for me to learn if I were going to successfully go an entire year without heat. I really didn’t have time to learn all those things right away So, I altered my resolution a little. Thus, no heat in 2014 quickly became no flat iron in 2014. I’ll explain that modification later. First, here are the results of last years’ challenge.

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Left: January 2014 Right: January 2015

 

 

The biggest difference I noticed in my hair was the thickness. I already have pretty thick hair. But as soon as I stopped flat ironing my hair regularly I could tell that my hair was getting thicker and stronger! By January it was like I had an entirely different head of hair. Also, naturals in Louisville, if you’re looking for a natural salon, try Mahogany Salon and ask for Ashley (Shameless Plug).

Obviously, a whole year without doing anything you do regularly will be a learning experience. Below are a few lessons I learned during 2014. Hopefully what I learned will encourage someone else in their natural hair journey. Be sure to read to the end for some product suggestions as well.

I don’t have time

The more hair videos and tutorials I watched the more I realized, I simply do not have time. I am always on the move and really can’t dedicate an entire day to washing and styling my hair with hair products that I made myself. It looks like fun and makes complete sense but I just really have too much going on and I’m not sure how other busy people manage. For that reason though, I had to figure out some quick and easy styles and practices that worked for me and my schedule. What works best for me is usually washing my hair in the shower. After I apply the conditioner and comb through it, I put a conditioning cap on and continue what I had to do, which is usually homework or laundry. Once I’ve finished that I’ll go back and rinse and usually twist for the night. Twist outs are my favorite style because they are the easiest.

Protective Styles are my BFF

Also due to the fact that I don’t have time, I. LOVE. PROTECTIVE. STYLES. Anything that lets me wake up and not have to worry about styling my hair if I don’t want gets all the yeses from me! My favorites are box braids and marley twists. But I’ve tried others as well. There are pictures below.

 

My hair needs moisture

When I wear my hair curly, it gets so dry so fast. This is one of the reasons I modified my challenge. Once every few months, I blew my hair semi straight in order to pull moisture all the way through my hair from root to tip. It really helped. I would then style my hair in some kind of style from there. Here are some of the styles below.

Finger combing

I am so tender headed, lawd. I already knew this, but not flat ironing my hair made me want to comb my hair less and less. I still don’t comb it everyday because, again, I don’t have time, but I do try to comb through it at least once a week. Something that helped me was separating my hair with my fingers for a little while first. It’s so thick so I may not make it through my whole head but it helps keep it from getting so tangled when I wet it to comb it or to wash it.

Coconut Oil

I love coconut  oil so much. The few times I’ve used it, it made my hair so soft and it held the moisture much longer. However, I’ve recently discovered I’m allergic to coconut. I can no longer use it in the virgin form. I can use a little bit if it’s heavily diluted and can sometimes use hair products that contain coconut oil as part of the ingredients. Putting a mixture of coconut oil and water in a spray bottle is what I use to “refresh” my afro each day and give it a textured look after a few days of a twist out.

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No to the wash and go

I’ve tried a million times and I just cannot achieve the wash and go look that I want. I don’t like the way eco styler gel makes my hair feel and all the other product suggestions take too long because I have to go through all of this hair and “apply evenly.” It all comes down to me not having the patience nor the hair texture that will allow. Maybe I’ll try again when my hair gets longer.

Wrap it up

I love hair wraps. I’m still learning different wrapping techniques but I’m having fun experiencing. I have used it to cover my head when i’ve twisted my hair and the twists aren’t dry yet and also to leave the house with a deep condition cap on. They’re also just pretty to wear regardless.

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Healthy hair is the goal

Overall, healthy hair is the goal. Everyone doesn’t maintain their healthy hair the same way so be sure that, while you’re getting tips from others, you’re paying attention to your hair’s response to each new thing you try. This year i’m trying to experiment with as many healthy hair techniques as I can. If you know any feel free to tweet/instagram/facebook me your suggestions.

Thanks for reading! Happy Hair in 2015!

 

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first silk press of 2015. Done by Ashley Carter at Mahogany Salon in Louisville, Ky.

Some of my favorite products

 

ImaniImani Williams is a staff columnist for The Mixx Magazine from Louisville, KY. She is a Clark Atlanta University graduate with a degree in Communication and a passion for people. Her goal is to provide meaningful commentary and positive images on Black Love, Literature, Hair & Culture. Imani currently moonlights as Beyoncé.