Long, healthy hair. Let’s face it. It is one of the top reasons why women go natural. Relaxers can break down the protein bonds of hair and make it more difficult to grow. So, many women expect that when they stop relaxing their hair, that waist length hair is inevitable. And when they are unable to achieve this goal, they are disappointed. The truth is… the coily nature of our hair makes it more difficult for natural oils to reach the ends of our hair. Thus, making our ends more dry and brittle. The result? Breakage and ultimately, less length retention. But length retention IS possible. Here are a few tips to help you retain length.
Protect Your Ends
If you want to keep your ends, then you have to protect them. For some, it is as simple as sealing the ends with an oil or a butter. Others tuck away their ends in an updo. While others wear twists or braids, some may opt for weaves or extensions. It’s up to you to decide what is best for your hair. Through trial and error, you will learn the best way to protect your ends.
A lot of breakage occurs while we wash, detangle, and style our hair. When styling your hair, remember to handle with care. Always detangle from end to root. Attack your hair in sections. Make sure there is enough slip and take your time. To further ease detangling, detangle your hair with lots of conditioner under running water. The weight of the water and the slip of the conditioner will make it easier for the comb to slide through the hair.
Another great tip is to not over-manipulate your hair; try not to style your hair everyday. Try twists, updos, or braids that can last a few days. On a daily basis, when you refresh your style, try to limit manipulation.
Avoid Tight Braids
Whether you are getting a sew-in, or getting cornrows, make sure that your hair is not braided to tight. Styles that pull the hair tightly can cause too much tension on the scalp and you will lose hair. Have you ever noticed that after having a tight braided style, that your scalp was sore? Or that your hair shed a little? Retaining length is also about maintaining the health of your hair and scalp.
Condition Your Hair
Treat your hair to a “spa” treatment. Use a moisturizing conditioner when it needs a boost of moisture and use a protein conditioner when it feels a little limp or weak. To amp up your conditioning treatment, add heat — body heat or a hooded dryer. It is important to have a good moisture/protein balance to strengthen your hair and give it what it needs in order to grow.
Notice a common thread? Paying special attention to your ends is the key to length retention. Protect them. Be Gentle. And give them special treatment. Love your hair and it will love you back.