Sunday, June 29, 2014

Re-Learning How To Care For My Hair (Curly, Coily, Kinky, Type 4)

Learning how to wash, style, and maintain your hair is usually something women learn while watching mom take care of their hair as a little girl. You observe which shampoo and conditioner she grabs in the shower, patiently sit there cross-legged while she combs or brushes your hair, and puts it into a style. Eventually you start to wash your hair yourself, and maybe she only styles it. She shows you some of the styles she does, and you start to struggle your own hair into ponytails or pigtails or buns, and so on and so forth, until you're an adult and pretty much have your own hair routine down.

But when you grow up in a mixed family, and your mom has hair that is vastly different from yours, the techniques that you learn are ones that mainly suit your mom's hair texture and hair needs, and maybe only barely suit yours -- or don't suit yours at all. A lot of moms become helpless, and see chemical straightening (straight perms) or mechanical straightening (flat irons) as the only way to make their daughter's hair more manageable. Over the years the damage piles up, the irritated scalps get harder and harder to sooth and nearly impossible to heal, and your hair just seem so dry and thirsty no matter WHAT you do.

That's what I've found myself dealing with over the years. I haven't chemically or mechanically straightening my hair in several years due to the damage its done to my hair and scalp, and have sported natural hair for the past few years... but I found that after it would grow out to a certain length, I was at a loss of what to do. I would drench my hair and scalp with all kinds of product, but still had problems with dryness, breakage and other damage, and flaky, itchy scalp problems. So I would take drastic measures and shave my hair short into a TWA (teeny weeny afro) style. But lately I'm really missing having longer hair, a more pronounced afro, and more defined, healthy, soft curls. I want a healthy scalp, and don't want to have to keep chopping my hair off every few months just to keep my hair manageable and healthy, and my scalp more better soothed. I know it's possible to have longer, healthier natural hair. But apparently, I've just been doing my hair wrong!

So more and more I find myself having to research terms like "black hair care" "natural curly hair" and "type 4 haircare"... not to mention searching for hairSTYLES. I honestly have no idea how to style my hair, much less how to do PROTECTIVE styling -- who knew that was even a thing?? I found out that I've basically been doing a daily wash-and-go, which I guess is problem #1, because I shouldn't be washing my hair every single day, and I also need to find a protective hairstyle that I can wear for a good amount of time to give my hair and scalp a rest from manipulation.

One site I just recently stumbled upon has been immeasurably helpful. Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care was originally created to help parents of transracial adoptions, but has expanded and has an ever-growing base of followers who all seek knowledge for caring for curly, coily, and kinky type hair, whether it be for their child of adoption or birth, or for their own hair. I've ran into other sites that talk about a lot of hairCARE, but this is the first that I've seen that goes more in depth about the details of both haircare AND hairSTYLE, as well as daily routine. I love it because it really breaks things down specifically, with detail... great for the natural hair noob that I am!

Other sites that I visit frequently for more inspiration, advice, problem-solving, and ideas are Curly Nikki, Naturally Curly, and Neno Natural.

So here I am... re-learning how to care for my hair in the way that my hair will benefit from the most. I'm honestly trying to fight the urge to chop my hair off out of frustration. Instead I'm going to invest in a good pair of barber shears and learn how to trim my own damaged hair off, then find a good protective hairstyle that works for me, and continue on this hair & scalp care journey. :)

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