I love afros, I love huge humongous can’t walk thru the door disturbing the dinner table next to you can hardly hold up your own head afros but unfortunately for me rockin an afro on the daily is committing suicide for my strands but years ago you couldn’t tell me NOTHING!!! The afro was my daily and I mean everyday style and wow did my strands act accordingly and not for the better. The featured picture above is of me (about 5 years ago right before my third and last relaxer in which most of my hair broke off immediately after the first application) with good friends (from left to right), singer/rapper TK Wonder (my sister and bestie), Photographer Quazi King, me and Fashion Designer/Make- up artist Candice Veerasammy. The afro you see in the pic was pretty much my staple for a couple of years and because of this my hair began to deteriorate. Now everyone’s hair is different obviously and I would never choose to knock someone else’s preference in the way they choose to style their hair but because of the extremely curly, kinky 4b-c texture of my strands coupled with density that defies the word thick and fine strands that you would need a microscope to see individually (well ladies maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but you get my drift because its pretty damn near close), let me breakdown and explain why the afro for me to rock on a daily basis was death for my strands.
DA: During the Afro
A complete breakdown of my past daily afro routine and the results that followed.
- High Manipulation: My hands were constantly in my hair trying to mold the perfect fro therefore I would constantly pull and tug on my strands to give my fro shape and since shrinkage is a huge factor (about 60-70%) when it comes to my strands the tugging action was on a constant basis to achieve more length.
- No Protective Styling: Protective styling for me in the years of DA (during the afro) was pretty much non-existent which created havoc on my strands. I noticed my hair became a lot drier and prone to breakage. My hair may be fragile but it is not weak and there was no reason for my strands to be snapping off because of constant split ends and excessive dryness.
- Over use of products: The act of placing oils constantly onto my strands was my way of producing less of a desert like feeling amongst my strands which in return only resulted in more dryness because of the smothering of product overload.
- Wet detangling: The curlier the hair the more susceptible your hair is to breakage. This by no way translates that your hair is unhealthy but just means more fragile because at every curling point along your strand is a point of potential breakage and coupled with water which makes your strands even weaker because now your hair is absorbing water which has added weight to your strands which causes them to stretch. All this stretching along all your points of potential breakage with added manipulation of pulling during detangling can cause high risk of breakage but like anything in life there are those with kinky textures who prefer wet detangling and it works but lawd knows I am not one of them, my strands are extremely fine and wet detangling is not an option I can even consider. As we all know it really just depends on the individual.
- Excessive Tangled Strands: Because of the fine state of my strands wearing my hair out daily is not ideal. I had no protective styles to wrangle my hair in and contain tangles into sections which left me with a huge mass of tangles to deal with versus wearing my hair in some form of a protective style such as twists or braids that makes detangling especially dry detangling much more manageable just because of the containment of tangles in sections versus one mass.
- Deterioration of Length: With the daily manipulation, no protective styling, wet detangling and just rockin of the afro daily the length of my hair in the featured picture (even though I loved the length featured) was about the most my hair was able to retain
The state of my hair changed tremendously for the better when I began to exercise the complete opposite of all of the previous mentioned which in turn created less manipulation more length, thickness and health. I hope in sharing my hair journey, the discoveries and mistakes I have made along the way will just enable others on the path of an easier and less frustrating journey. Trial and error along our hair journey only creates a destiny of finding a regimen that works for you but hey sometimes cliff notes along the way ain’t too bad either.
What have you discovered along your journey that helped you retain more length or increased health of your hair?