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Let it Go: Unhealthy habits to drop now if you want to achieve natural hair success. Part 1

When doing the most goes completely wrong. This phrase could probably sum up the early stages of my natural hair journey. Some of the actions I’ve taken, in an effort to have long beautiful hair, have actually been more harmful than helpful when it comes to having healthy natural hair and achieving the #hairgoals I so greatly desired. 

Now, about five years into this journey (and several big chops later), I can honestly say that I know that what I used to do was as great a hindrance to achieving my hair goals as what I failed to do. Today I’m putting it all out there and showing you that achieving and maintaining healthy natural hair doesn’t have to be difficult.

Looking over my natural journey, I have identified several areas where I wasted time doing the wrong thing. I want to share them with you in an effort to help prevent you from making the same mistakes I did. So, get comfortable. This list is long (I’m not perfect). Hopefully, I can save you some of the trouble and have you well on your way to achieving hair care success on your natural hair journey.

“Don’t believe the hype, natural hair care can be easier!”

Thinking that maintaining my natural hair had to be hard

One of the biggest mistakes that I ever made, concerning my natural hair care, was believing the hype that managing your hair had to be hard. Approaching my natural hair care this way made the idea of taking care of my hair unappealing and ultimately set me up for failure. Does it require work? Yes. Does that work have to be dreadful and unappealing? Absolutely not! There are very few things in life that we can achieve with no effort and maintaining your natural hair isn’t one of them.

The truth is that while some work is required the work you put in doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. When we don’t know exactly what to do, we tend to do too much. Educating yourself and having an appropriate understanding of your hair care needs can help eliminate the guesswork and all the unnecessary steps that we undoubtedly take when we are confused about what we should be doing.

Being ignorant about my specific hair care characteristics and needs

I will admit, I spent way too much time listening to what “they” said about how I should manage my natural hair. “They” had me looking crazy, and doing the most only to achieve lackluster results. Steeped in misinformation, popular opinion, and desperation with a splash of creativity and hope; many of my actions were comical and pointless.

The most difficult time I’ve had during my natural journey had been when I was ignorant about my hair. Without a good foundation I had no understanding of how to take care of my hair or why the things that I was doing weren’t producing the results I desired.

Now that I know my hair, its needs, and how to properly manage them I can honestly say that this process is easier. Gone are the days of stressing over styles that my hair couldn’t handle or using products that were more damaging than beneficial. I know what to expect of my hair and how it should perform. I don’t have to chase some else’s hair goals; I can set my own and love my hair and this journey in the process.

“Educating yourself and having an appropriate understanding of your hair care needs can help eliminate the guesswork and all the unnecessary steps that we undoubtedly take when we are confused about what we should be doing.”

Comparing my hair to others

I think it goes without saying that looks can be deceiving. That curl twin is not really your curl twin and my curl crush has a leg up on me because of genetics. Don’t get so caught up in comparing yourself to everyone else and what they’re doing that you lose sight of what your goal is. Healthy natural hair is achieved through incorporating healthy practices into your routine and tailoring a regimen to meet your specific needs.  

I can admit that I still suffer from curl envy at times, but long gone are the days of unrealistic expectations and purchasing products or trying something crazy because I thought my hair could achieve a look that I now know it was never capable of. I can admire and appreciate a beautiful head of curls, but I no longer set expectations based off of what I see from others. Now, equipped with knowledge, I can set realistic expectations and appreciate my progress on this journey to healthy natural hair.

Wearing tight braids and wigs

Traction alopecia is real and protective styles don’t always protect. I have learned the hard way that some styles are better left alone especially when it comes to maintaining healthy hair and preventing hair loss. Still recovering from some poor choices, I am more cautious when it comes to the styles I choose and how much tension on my strands I am willing to endure.

I’m not saying don’t do it, but I would advise you to be mindful and careful not to let them stay in too long or have them done too tight. Leaving a “protective style” in too long could be just as damaging as having a style that is too tight. Properly prepping your hair before a style, properly cleansing your hair during the style, and properly caring for you hair once you style is removed will ultimately make a difference in how your hair survives protective styling.

Avoiding trims

We all have the tendency to hold on to things for too long. My damaged ends just happened to be one of those things. After struggling with hair that was hard to manage and styles that wouldn’t quite work. I quickly realized that the presence of damaged ends was stunting my growth (literally).  I now know that if I want my hair to flourish, I have to be proactive and make sure that I am properly caring for my hair to minimize damage and remove it once it occurs. Being knowledgeable about my hair and working with a curly stylist, am able to set a schedule that keeps my hair healthy and flourishing.

There are no shortcuts to this natural hair journey. No magical pills, potions, concoctions, or creams that you can just slather on your hair and automatically expect amazing results. Even the most beautiful curls require some work. The key to natural hair success is focusing on healthy hair practices based on facts and the science of hair, setting realistic expectations for your hair, realizing that it takes some work; but not dreading it, and enjoying the journey.

This list is not over – I have way more to tell. Make sure you join me next week as I share some additional pearls on ways to achieve natural hair success. Until next week beauties, Go Boldly!