So you want to grow out your natural hair. That’s fantastic! Well what are you waiting for…let’s get started. One day I got an epiphany. Well, what happened was… about August 2010 my hair grew at a pretty fast and steady pace (I began my natural hair journey about June 2008) . My hair is what I consider 3c/4a texture with the length of about 9 to 10 inches long and I was beginning to fight with my hair. I was dealing with a lot of tangles, knots and dryness while trying to figure what type of hairstyle to put my hair in. During that process I would wash and condition my hair and then start trying to comb out the knots and tangles that come along with growing out your hair. One day I combed my hair so much that I looked down and saw a huge ball of hair as big as a small soccer ball. Well that was way too much hair to be pulling out of your head if you are trying to retain length. Okay, so what I decided to do is start keeping my hair in natural braids to help my hair keep growing with very minimum manipulation or wear and tear on your tresses. In the summer of 2010 I remember I was getting somewhat frustrated. If you watch YouTube, you will hear and see the many naturals who state that they get bored with their hair or want to try different styles. What I would do is put a style in that would last for at least three or more days and then because of frizz or whatever desire to change the style. If you are a beginner naturalist, this can become a challenge especially for working women or women who desire to keep a fresh natural hairstyle. But, after awhile this began to wear on me (or you can call me a little lazy), but I do not want to spend every waking minute worrying about my hair and what hairstyle I will do tomorrow or next week.So braids became my lifesaver for dealing with difficult to handle hair. My hair is not thick, and it is not coarse, however, it shrinks tremendously and gets very, very dry if I don’t put a moisturizer in it quick. Now, what I did in August 2010 is put my hair in individual braids (some call pixie braids, but no weave) using my own natural hair and I absolutely love it. Why do I love this so much you ask? Well I’ll tell you… it costs absolutely nothing because I don’t use weave at all and my hair has grown 6 inches give or take with some trimming of the ends. My hair right now is between 13 inches to 15 inches in the top parts and I am aiming for 20 inches by the end of the year 2012.So basically what I do is keep my hair in pixie braids and rebraid my hair in sections once a month or during the month. I usually do the edges and the top braids first (which show new growth first.) Top braids seem to get frizzy the quickest because of hats, scarves and hoods that you may wear on your head. I wash my hair at least twice a month or every 3 weeks. I usually do whats called a co-wash using just a moisturizing conditioner and deep condition every other month or when needed. You will need to use an oil-based moisturizer cream and I use the Hot six liquid oil for hair and body everyday. Always need to keep your hair oiled and moisturized or the ends will dry, frizz, and split. I recommend trimming at least 1/4 inch every month to every three months to rid of long stringy hairs that will grow.Another issue to contend with is whether to wash you hair after you rebraid or before you rebraid. That will have to be your personal preference, but I usually rebraid most of the braids that need it, then wash them. As your hair grows, you will need to allow enough drying time. I let my hair air dry, so it takes a little longer about 8 hours or overnight so I make sure that I have nothing else to do.
Hairstyling and Preparation
So in preparing my hair for braiding, I wash, condition, oil, then moisturize (in that order) and for my hair it is best to braid while the hair is a little damp, so I keep a mist bottle nearby. For my braiding style, I use my fingers to part, then braid the hair about 1/4 inch of the way down then twist the rest of the tress to the end and I do this for every pixie braid. To keep my twist from coming loose, I use Organics moisturizing growth lotion. Depending on your hair type, some people may want to use a twist and loc gel. After I am done with braiding and twisting my whole head, I will oil the whole head lightly with either a liquid oil or I use a olive oil hair oil (love, love, love this). At night put a silk scarf or head wrap on your head and you are done.
Now your hair is fresh and you can be just as versatile with this hairstyle as you want. There is no limits to what hairstyles you can do. You can do an updo, ponytails (high or low), curl the braids, undo the twists for more fullness, pull it to the side, bangs or no bangs. Be creative!!
What not to do
1. Do not try to comb out knots while your hair is wet, this will cause the pulling of you hair out of your scalp. Instead use your fingers to untangle your hair. Some naturals also use the tangle teezer comb/brush, I personally have not tried this yet. Use a good detangling moisturizer to help with tangling and knots.
2. Don’t pull the hair to detangle because this will cause the tangle to knot and will cause a bigger problem. Again use your fingers to detangle and be very gentle, to your hair no matter the issue. Never pull or tug too hard. If there is a tight stubborn knot just cut it out, its not the end of the world if you have to do this.
3. Don’t let your braids get dry and brittle, keep them moisturized and oiled. Some people use a spray bottle with water and glycerin mix to keep hair moisturized.
In summary, I’d like to say that braids have been a reprieve for me, I get up in the morning and only have to decide if I want to wear my braids down, in a ponytail, in an updo or some other style that I can come up with. It has allowed me a lot of freedom to put my mind and thoughts elsewhere besides worrying about my hair.
For black women, our hair is very important to us. We spend many a thoughts, time, energy, and money preoccupying and fussing about our hair and what to do with it. Braids work for me and it is a very cost effective way to manage your hair. I am going into my second year of doing the braids and after I reach my 20 inch goal, I will continue to do the braids mostly in the summer. In the fall plan to buy a hooded hair dryer and try more curly hairstyles such as spirals which was my go to hairstyle when I had a relaxer,however, my go to styles will always be braids and twists. I do not plan to ever straighten my hair with a flat iron anymore, but I may blow dry eventually.
So ladies, I hope this helps. You can email me if you have questions about braids and how to care for them. You can braid the edges and feel like you have fresh new style, and unlike locks, you have the option of taking them out if you desire and not have to cut them out.
If you are under a doctor’s care, consult your physician before using any new products or prescriptions and always test any new products for an allergic reaction. Love being black, love being you and be the best “you” you can be.