NATURAL HAIR

FIVE LESSONS FROM MY FIRST YEAR NATURAL

February 20, 2018
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How to grow long, thick, beautiful healthy natural hair, in Ghana, oh what a journey we’ve had.

The first time we tackled this topic, we did an insightful interview with Mavis, aka Natural Journal, where we learned all about how a fellow Ghanaian lady is achieving her amazing natural hair. (You can click here to read that interview.)

xocara (20)

(two years natural in 2016, before I texlaxed)

Then I wrote about turning two years natural, and some of my secrets to the health and growth of my hair. That was two years post my second big chop, and I was so in love with my natural hair at two years natural. It was beautifully thick, strong and healthy, or so I thought. The haircare then was the most minimal you could possibly imagine. I washed and followed up with a conditioner sometimes, but I only deep conditioned when the planets and stars specially aligned and the mood struck me like ha! Deep condition time! I mostly wore it in chunky braid outs in all its messiest glory possible.

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(2 years natural, chunky twist outs)

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Then the hair grew thicker, longer and my level of care did not evolve with it, so alas, then came the texlaxing. That was fun as it lasted, but I knew almost immediately that a cut was in my future.

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(My texlaxed hair, latter half of 2016)

And that leads me to the first lesson I’ve learned; which is:

  1. Man, know thyself.

You’ve got to know your hair.

You know, it’s easy to think that all die be die, all hair is hair and you can do whatever style someone else is doing, but alas, that’s not the case. Hair comes in so many types. Some hair strands (single/individual hairs) are very thick (otherwise described as coarse), some are normal strands, and others are thin (known as fine). I belong to team fine hair. I’ve been eyeballing others’ hair, and oh my, my hair strands are thinner than thin. They are virtually little coily/curly wispy things, almost invisible on their own when viewed singly.

Getting a relaxer will damage most normal hair, but to hair like mine, that is the kiss of death. It is already way to thin to withstand relaxers, or even texturizers. It starts to break off at the very suggestion! It can hardly take even braids. After my texlax, it looked very dull, and it begun to break off in chunks. It was traumatizing. I begun to care very properly for it. I deep conditioned every week. That helped but not much. After every deep conditioning session, I noticed how my undergrowth (which was my natural hair coming in) would look moisturized, shiny and curly, so in December 2016, I had my last touch up and big chopped in January 2017. It was very spontaneous, on a whim really.

I remember I was meeting Milos (my partner) and a work colleague of his (it was his first time in Ghana) on a lunch date and I cut all my hair off that morning! (By myself! Hacked away with a mirror and shears until it was all gone. No barber) It was a shock to them, to say the least. Ha! (To be fair, I had thrown around the idea of a chop a few times and Milos had encouraged me to do it if I truly wanted to.)

And that leads me to my second point:

2. Deep condition like crazy, and with heat.

For a while then, I had toyed with the idea of a short cut, and seeing how amazing my coily new growth looked after deep conditioning helped me take the final plunge. And I loved it. The feeling of water on the scalp every morning is priceless. And I enjoyed that everyday. It was so nice! I cowashed mostly, and deep conditioned at least twice a week. The hair looked great; never a bad hair day. Aaaah now I miss my short cut, seriously! Even now, one year after, deep conditioning doesn’t do me wrong. It’s a great way keep hair looking and feeling its best. What’s made it even more amazing is the addition of a heat cap. Girl, trust me, deep conditioning will change your hair game! I can’t stress it enough. Deep condition with heat, ladies! In a course of one year, I’ve tried a lot of deep conditioners I’d love to review here. (Fingers crossed, that I get the time!)

3. Divide the hair and conquer!

You know, you hear some things so many times and never do them, but once you start, it’s virtually life-changing. Such have been deep conditioning; and working on the hair in sessions. I’ve found it especially useful to divide the hair in five parts when I’m moisturizing and sealing. Trying to get moisturizer in all the strands is easier done in smaller sessions. And that lead to better care for my crown and nape areas, which had been my problem areas.

Leading to the next lesson I learned.

4. Different curl patterns, one head.

Different colours, one people, different colours, one people. So yeah, it’s very possible to have many different curl patterns on one head, and that is my case! I have different sized curls in the front, different at the sides, at the crown, and at the nape. The crown area feels very thick and dry. It’s the driest part of my hair. I like to treat it differently from the rest, but I shall write more on that later. The nape is the softest and curliest part of my hair (as opposed to the other coily parts). It’s the part easiest to keep moisturized but also easiest to break. This has been a very interesting discovery for me.

Also, seeing as everyone has different hair, not everyone’s hair routines and products might work for you. Even one product might work for some parts of your head and not others. I experimented a lot with mixing up my own deep conditioner concoctions and using multi-conditioning in one deep conditioning session.

5. Educate yourself on product ingredients. Not only “natural” products for my natural hair.

When I went natural before I was so adamant at sticking to so-called “natural” products only, but this time around, I’ve experimented a lot. It’s okay to use so-called “commercial” products as well. Just be aware of whatever you put on your head. After a while you notice that a lot of products have basically the same ingredients. I also noticed that products with certain ingredients worked better on my hair than certain others. I really learned a lot from reading labels and researching on ingredients, and that’s something I’ll encourage you to do as well.

Okay, last and bonus point!

Β It’s probably not the best idea to go bald right before you get pregnant!

LOL. Just had to add this one in here because I struggled with this quite a bit. Might write more on this later as well, but for now, will just have to say that one shock to the system is enough! haha. But that was just my experience. Of course everyone’s is different.

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(my big chop January 2017)

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(Hair Jan 1st 2018, in two buns)

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(my afro)

In conclusion, I big chopped for the third time last year, and I’ve learned a lot.

Follow good hair practices, treat your hair like your crown, and it will grow fast, long, thick, healthy and beautiful.

Sharing the top lessons with you has been fun, and I hope that not only did you enjoy the read, but that you learned something new. If you did, please let me know by liking the post, and commenting whatever you’d like to see next on the blog.

Also, sorry it’s taken so long to post again.

Shout out to my dear reader, Freda, for the constant reminders to post! Also to Audrey, Aimee, Scott, Biki, and Nadine for the warm welcome on my previous post. I appreciate you all. Thank you all who read as well.

It’s been quite a difficult month nurturing my little ones through vaccinations, little illnesses and the general busy-ness of life. I’m hoping for calmer times so I can be updating as much as I’d like (I’d be here everyday if I could, guys, you’d get sick of me πŸ˜› )

Thank you for reading! I really truly deeply hope you’ve been inspired and more enlightened on your own natural hair journey.

Loads and loads of love,

Cara.

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  1. Cara, I enjoyed this post, I think my hair is exactly like yours, also two years but I never had any big chop, my last relaxer was ending 2013 and from 2015 my hair started to develop the natural growth after the permed damaged which took very long ….
    You look gorgeous and stunning πŸ˜‰πŸ€—
    Xoxo Abi

  2. Hey hon, great to have you writing again and to read your hair journey. Really fab pics! Seems like you are Becky with the good hair, coz your chops just have your strands coming back for more. I can’t say the same. I’ve been trying to grow my hair for years and there have been some minute changes for the better, but not nearly enough considering all the money and time I put in my natural hair!!!!!!
    That’s why I’m in braids now, with age, my hairline can’t take long braids, but I took the risk anyway.
    Oh well…hope to see you on my blog soon so you can see what I’ve been up to! ( :

    1. Hello Biki, sorry to hear that about your journey. Did you consider getting bloodwork done to rule out deficiencies?? Those can really take their toll on our hair.
      Thank you for reading!

      1. Hey hon, well I do blood tests quite regularly and my experience in doing them has shown me that you need to tell them the symptoms you are suffering before they check for it. I’ve never mentioned my hair so I will next time.
        But you know the funny ( not haha thing) my nails grow ok, so do the hairs under my arms and erm down there. But my hairline and eyebrows are slow to grow. Grrrr!
        What pains me is my Ma is 70 and has suffered about 3 major hair traumas where she had to shave all her hair off. And EACH time, it grows back thick and full!
        So it must be my dad’s fault, ha!
        Have a lovely Sunday hon! Xo

  3. I totally agree with you about deep condition with heat! That shit is heavenly on afro hair! I’m two years post second big chop and just last weekend I was contemplating a third chop or an undercut. I’ve dreamed about having hair tattoos but let’s face it, the shape of my head isn’t a very attractive one so let’s just settle for an undercut! When my hair isn’t in braids, I deep condition weekly too but lately I have been so lazy to apply heat. But I promised myself to rectify that!! Starting when my braids get taken downπŸ˜‚
    I’m so glad to see you back on the blogosphere(is that an actual word???!!) must be a sweet mad house handling three boys!!! God bless you darling✌🏾✌🏾

    1. Has it been two years already since you chopped again? Damn, time flies. I remember you commenting about your cut and it’s already been a couple of years!
      And yes, blogosphere totally is a word ohhh πŸ˜€
      Girl, the deep conditioning with heat thing is so much effort but it works, so what to do lol. I love doing my hair though, I find it very relaxing.
      Thank you for reading, I’m so glad to be back; and thank you for the blessings. I receive them. πŸ˜€ Bless you too, you sweetheart!

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