I’ve been meaning to get this blog written for a while, so thanks for being so patient. Time’s running away with me again!

I want to share some of the tips I’ve learned along the way during my 3 ½-year natural hair journey. I’ve finally managed to attain collarbone length hair. It’s about long as it was when my hair was relaxed, and I’m so proud! So here are a few of my tips on retaining length, I hope you find them useful.

1. Stay flexible in your approach to your hair

Your hair regimen. Be prepared to change it up!

Your hair regimen. Be prepared to change it up!

Firstly I don’t stick too rigidly to a natural hair regimen. Yes, I know that makes me a bit of a maverick…but there’s method to my madness. Everybody talks about how important it is to work out a natural hair regimen but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s more important to listen to your hair. Being able and ready to adapt as soon as you realise that something’s just not working, is essential.

At the beginning of my natural hair journey, I tried to put a regimen together but these days I stick to a vague regime and pay more attention to what my hair needs, when it needs it. So if it’s feeling extra dry, I’ll incorporate the baggy method into my mid-week routine. If I’ve done an extra exercise session during the week, I’ll co-wash my hair. I try to wash once a week but if my hair really doesn’t need it, I simply co-wash instead.

The same goes for your hair products. You may find a moisturising product that’s everything; you just can’t praise it enough. But don’t be slow to put it aside if it stops working. You may find that a hair product that suits you today doesn’t do anything for you tomorrow. This could be due to a change in the health of your hair where it doesn’t have the same requirements, or it could be environmental – a change in temperature could require different product usage. Whatever the reason, never soldier on with a product out of sheer bloody-mindedness. I learned this the hard way.

2. Run Your Own Race

Don’t try to make your hair ‘fit’ in terms of styling, the products you use and how you perceive your hair. For example, scraping your hair back tightly doesn’t do your scalp or your delicate natural curls any favours. We all know this, yet we still try to style our hair in a way that fits either in the workplace or in the wider society.

The same goes for the products you use. Just because you’ve heard how great a product or ingredient is – how it will speed up hair growth or define your curls – doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for you. I’ve heard so much about using humectants such as honey to moisturise dry hair, so I kept on trying it. Finally I realised that these ingredients just don’t suit my hair, no matter how many times I try them. It’s better to put chalk it down to experience and move on to something that will work in harmony with your curls. If you persist with a product even though it’s not right for your hair, you could end up with damage.

One of the biggest lessons for many ladies with natural hair is to accept your curl pattern and texture. This is where the ‘journey’ really starts. It’s been buried very deeply in our psyches that there is bad hair and good hair. If your natural hair isn’t ‘Type 3’ and loosely curled then there’s nothing you can do about it, short of returning to the creamy crack or texturising. The fact that the term ‘good hair’ is still so often talked about within the natural hair community only serves to reinforce negative perceptions about our hair.

If you have frizzy, tightly coiled hair, get your head around it! The sooner you accept your kinky curly hair and its idiosyncrasies, the easier it is to care for your tresses. When you do reach that point of acceptance, you’ll realise that it’s fairly easy to deal with black hair – it just takes a little patience. And you’ll also start seeing the beauty of your natural curls.

3. Patience

Which brings me on to my third hard-learned lesson. I know it is easier said than done, but your hair will benefit if you can take a step back and relax about it. What put things in perspective for me is watching somebody close losing their hair (and I mean eyelashes and eyebrows too) due to chemo. I can’t imagine what it’s like but it’s certainly sobering. So hair is just a small part of what makes you sexy and it’s always worth keeping this in mind.

Being patient with your hair will not only take out the emotional ups and downs when you’re dying for long black hair; it will also help you to treat your hair gently.

Play the waiting game...

Play the waiting game…

One of the biggest factors when it comes to breakage is mechanical stress. If you’re frustrated with your hair, you’re more likely to be a bit heavy-handed. Believe me, this can lead you to lose all the length that you’re trying to retain.So patience is invaluable (and free). It may not be so easy to achieve but it will help you on your journey to healthy natural hair.  If you really want long afro hair, you have to commit to playing the long game. Give it time. Enjoy where you’re at and make the most of yourself, right now. Oh, and once in a while give yourself a pat on the back. 🙂

What have you learned about having natural hair? Did you find this blog useful?

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