I have decided to start a documentation here on my blog of my hair growth throughout the year of 2012. Once a month, I'll create a post updating the status of length and health. I'll mostly be taking pictures and describing my routine, how the texture feels- things like that. My goal is to see how much longer it grows in the next year, and also to track and compare which products are aiding in the process. The reason behind this idea is so I can share my knowledge with others who may want to grow out their hair too, or others who simply want some hair care reviews and tips.
my naturally curly hair
In September of 2011, I had a terrifying experience involving an at home hair relaxer kit. If you don't know what a hair relaxer is- it's basically a chemical mixture that is put on in small sections and rinsed out just like hair dye. It is a popular practice among women of color as well as anyone else with thick, curly, unmanageable hair. The purpose of using a relaxer is to straighten or 'relax' the cuticle thus making the hair texture more smooth and easier to maintain and style. Relaxers are controversial in the 'hair world' because of the sometimes temperamental results that can occur if applied improperly including bald spots, permanent scalp damage, chemical burns, and severe breakage.
my naturally curly hair
After a few minutes of brushing it on from the bottom of my hairline working up, I started to realize something was very wrong. As I smoothed down coated sections, strands of hair were sticking to my gloves which made me feel nervous. I finished doing the front of my head quickly and hopped in the shower to rinse the product out. Next thing I knew, my long, thick hair was falling out in huge clumps and breaking off at all different lengths. Apparently, my hair could not withstand the chemicals in the perm like I had thought it would.
I was left with uneven, damaged hair that felt like wet soggy noodles and would come right out of my scalp with the slightest pull. The hair at the bottom of my head which had the relaxer on for the longest time was completely broken off and left about 2 inches long. The texture of that part of my head was so fried and brittle not even my conditioner could help to soften it. I remember is feeling so numb as I washed out as much of the relaxer as I could and saw about 40% of my unattached hair go with it. After about a half hour of rinsing, I had to finally stop because it was that obvious my hair would just keep falling out. I remember seeing so much hair all over the shower tiles, the curtain, and the floor near the drain. The damage was done.
It wasn't until that night that the emotions finally hit me, and I began sobbing to my boyfriend; telling him that I would have to shave all my hair off and wear a wig until it grew out. My hair that everyone told me was so beautiful was now 10 different lengths and textures- a true disaster. I felt so ashamed for doing that to myself, and devastated about what I would look like when I woke up. I never really thought that this could ever happen to me.
After a few days of trying to salvage the strands that I had left, I knew I needed to seek professional help. I went to the local walk-in salon and the sympathetic stylist did what she could to put some sort of shape into my completely mangled head of hair. Every so often during the haircut, another stylist would walk over and just shake her head and tell me how "bad she felt for me". A little sympathy really did not make me feel any better for I still was so torn up inside.What I ended up with was a decent inverted bob that was stacked in the back. Fortunately, I did not have any bald spots or scalp trauma. My normally thick hair just looked very thinned out, but I was simply happy that I still had hair on my head. Although still chemically damaged, I had a style that could mask the unevenness until the short pieces started to grow again. She recommended lots of protein, masks, and moisture treatments which are what I have been faithfully using since that day. I would have taken back my naturally curly, sometimes hard to manage hair for anything in the world- but unfortunately mistakes don't work that way.
For about the first two months of my new short haircut, my hair was in bad condition. I had a lot of breakage and small sections that would stick out straight and feel as rough as straw. I babied my hair using deep conditioners, castor and coconut oil treatments, moisturizing masks, a protein shampoo, and loads of thermal protection spray. After showering, I would let it air dry the most I could then gently blow dry it on a warm setting. I used my GHD flat iron to shape it and make it somewhat manageable. This seemed to work pretty well for me and eventually my hair health improved. I'd say it was about 30% restored by Thanksgiving.
I recently when in for a trim which turned into an inch and a half taken off my ends. This is where I am going to begin documenting my growth. My hair has come a long way, and with lots of care it's health is almost fully restored. From here, I want to grow it out and have long, flowing hair again. I plan to get just a dusting taken off every 4 or 5 months, but no more than a half inch if necessary.
My hair 2009-2011
Growth by 1-28-2012
I will be creating new posts each month with pictures and updates. I would love to hear if you are trying a new hair journey of your own this year, or any comments you may have. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. Please both learn from my mistake and be hopeful that ruined hair can be salvaged.
Remember that hair is beautiful the way it looks naturally, and should only be chemically treated by someone who truly knows what they are doing. Before any serious alterations, please seek help from a professional.
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