Let me get into the why. The first thing I did wrong was not establishing what it was specifically that I had wanted from the hair journey. Simply put, I didn’t have the horrendously damaged hair that usually inspires a journey. Oh sure, my hair could have used a lighter touch and the loss of some habits but nothing major. I was old-fashioned and preferred my curling iron to a flat-iron. I bleached my hair without a moments notice with a simple chemical mixture of basic white and hydrogen peroxide (Gasp! I know, the horror!) and simply added whatever semi permanent color I fancied at the time. For years, everyone (women) loved on how great my hair looked, but then become absolutely horrified at the ‘how’ it was achieved. Then they would launch into the boring lectures about how my hair would begin to fall out in clumps or break viciously and I’d become bald. Then I would get the side eye for informing them that after years doing my hair just so, I never lost a strand to coloring.
So, I decided in 2014 that my hair would benefit from … some general tlc I guess? And thus, endless months of my YouTube channel being oversubscribed to the ‘hair gurus’. The first sin I learned I committed all my life was not washing every week. Clean hair was healthy growing hair, I learned. So after buying a few shampoos and conditioners that the gurus swore by I started to wash every week. I completely ignored the fact that having had my hair on my head 24 years, I never needed to wash every week before and the overwhelming evidence that my hair did way better ‘dirty’. I had to co-wash and deep condition for hours (the longer, the better) and must never use any heat, or as little as is necessary in modern times.
Sin number 2. Relaxing as my hair as needed whether that meant 3 weeks post relaxer or 8 weeks. That’s just not done! Oh dear. I learned that if I were to have ‘healthy’ relaxed hair I must stretch my relaxers as far as was possible, ranging from 3 to 8 months. My scalp would thank me after all, and all I needed to do was employ various protective styles. I suffer from chronic migraines and the loosest of pony tails gave me a headache. Constant sew-ins were not going to happen. And let me just go ahead and massage my scalp that was so tender from the attempted stretching and attempts to detangle my ever defiant roots and new growth!
I also needed to stock an ungodly number of hair products. I needed a wide array of oils ranging from coconut oil to argan and jojoba oil. I needed to stock water based moisturizers and practice the LOC or LCO methods to seal in my moisture. I needed castor oil for thickness and body. (I already had that but the more the better, right? WRONG!) I also needed to cut out the bleaching with the extra harsh chemicals and only use boxes of professional colour if I needed to color. Colored hair requires babying, not just moisture as I had been doing. Besides, coloring wasn’t recommended until you were well on your way with thriving, healthy hair.
It seemed the farther along I got into the journey, the more problems I faced. Why did my hair feel sticky and clogged? I washed every week. Why were my hair shafts so dry when I was using all these moisturizers, co-washing and using my cleansing shampoo once a month? Why did I wake up with my hair ends still wet from attempts to seal them? Why was my hair breaking like crazy when I needed to relax no matter what I did? Why was my hair refusing to take my relaxer anymore? And why, why, why was my hair growing like wild weed but my hair was shorter than before I started this journey for all my attempts to retain length?? All the gurus were doing it and it was working for them. I even made a point to follow those with my 4c hair type. So why was the only ‘positive’ for me was that my hair was thicker?
Frustration set in and I decided that there was not one youtuber who had hair like mine and that it was pointless. I unsubscribed from them all. Then a stroke of luck and I found a youtuber that I just loved the look of her bouncy healthy thick hair. (Sw33tSparkl3s). As I browsed her videos, she had one where she was saying that she was not a hair care professional and that the information she presented was what worked for her but that everyone’s hair is different and may react differently to the same treatment. Who is this angel??
Just like that, it was over. I canned the castor oil because even relaxed my hair maintained body enough for my satisfaction and not having to feel like I had too much hair on my head to handle is one of the reasons I am relaxed in the first place. I started to cut away at the last couple inches of my hair because the difference in thickness was so obvious (to me only, it appeared) and I hated that. (Plus I am obsessed with my hair looking freshly cut). I used up the products I had and never replaced them.I stopped the futile attempts to stretch my relaxers and relaxed as I needed to every 4-6 weeks. I stopped using the excessive number of products and returned to washing my hair once every 2-3 weeks as needed. I even inadvertently cut out the things I meant to keep, like co-washing and deep conditioning I was so fed up.
AND MY HAIR FLOURISHED.
It began taking my relaxers well again and kept growing while my ends stayed with me until I cut them off. I was even able to wear my own hair to my wedding in 2015 without extensions as my husband requested and felt beautiful. It’s 2016 now, a year and a half after ditching the “healthy” journey and my hair is approximately 5 or 6 inches longer. I finally learned that all MY hair requires of me is basic care and to be left alone! It’s still slightly thinner than before I began the journey. But I don’t mind too much. I suppose that if I cared to, I could always reach for that bottle of black Jamaican Castor Oil!
Goes to show, not everything is for everyone. The only rule of thumb is, are you the rule or are you an exception?