22 January 2012

The Disillusioned Natural

"Hi Belle,
Been a fan for quite a while, about 2 and half years, I really appreciate what you do through your blog, the pictures you put up are a real inspiration to myself, friends and family that natural beauty is indeed very precious. Through your blog I have definitely learnt to value it more and to be more proud of it
I am writing to you because I cannot seem to cope with my natural hair! I have been natural for over 4 years now, but only wear my hair in single plaits, because my hair is so thick, plentiful and wiry, I am unable to comb it.
Once I take the braids out, I could spend an hour in the shower untangling my hair with my fingers, followed by an extensive moisturising session and a gentle comb, but my hair is still tangled.
I feel like I am unable to wear my natural hair out due to the fact that I am unable to comb it. I have been enduring this for the whole of my life, this is how my hair is and I accept that.
But what really bothers me is that every time I go to the hairdressers to get my braids done, they yank and rip at my hair.
The salon floor is always covered in large tuffs of hair from the hairdresser breaking and ripping my edges and ends off, making it impossible to grow my hair longer. I have attached a picture of my hair when combed out at the salon.
I have even started losing my edges, I have attached a picture of myself (in the light blue scarf) to show the extent of the damage. I really do think I need to give up the braids.
I am really desperate to find some good advice of how to manage my natural hair. I have tried wigs, weaves and even the occasional misguided jerry curl and relaxer in the past.
I love the idea of having my natural hair, but I find that I have not been able to enjoy it to date; it is almost as if my hair has become a burden to me and I am very close to cutting it all off
At the moment my hair is in braids and I wash it once a week with head and shoulders shampoo because my scalp is so dry and itchy. When my hair is damp, I run a bit of olive oil all through my hair and scalp.
Once it is thoroughly air dried I then condition my scalp with a medicated scalp ointment called damatol, specifically for dry scalp.
I take my braids out after about 2 months, and wash it before getting it redone usually in a couple of days.
When I have finished taking out my braids, I use my fingers to gently de tangle and shampoo my hair. After washing the hair, I dry it till damn then I condition with some olive oil and air dry.
I hardly ever use heat on my hair, I just use the cool air setting on my roots when my braids are taking too long to dry I am hoping if you had any advice as to any styles (in regards to my round face shape), techniques, salons that could help me. I really don’t know what to do.
Kind regards,
Clueless from Berkshire"

Dear Clueless from Berkshire,

Firstly you are not alone in your feelings of disillusion it is almost a right of passage to feel this way at some point. and we here so many 'success' stories from women who are thrilled with their journey and their flourishing hair we sometimes forget that some of us find the process hard.

My first piece of advice would definitely be to stop braiding your hair and going to the salon that you say rip at your tresses. their are many salons that use bad hair practices it seem's that you may be visiting one of them*

Constantly braiding your hair for 4 years is the reason you are losing your hairline, this is due to traction alopecia* caused not only by braids that are installed to tightly, but for long periods of time. A good stylist would have noticed this and refused to braid your hair until your hair and scalp are strong and healthy. Anita Grant tells me;
"extensions will weigh down on the natural re-growth and caused split ends, knots and damage from the papilla (inner most root of the hair). The first thing I would ask her to do is try Organic Virgin Coconut Castor Hair Oil"

I would also suggest you incorporate some naturally derived products into you regimen, Head & Shoulders* in known in the salon industry as the harshest product for hair, often used to strip colour out of hair. If the chemicals in this product can remove colour just imagine what it is doing to the natural oils that we need to maintain healthy hair! this shampoo could also be aiding your dry scalp Anita Grant confirms;
"Scalp build up is inevitable because we, as humans, secrete sebum and sweat from the apocrine (sweat) glands and sebaceous glands located in the dermal layer (second layer) of our skin/scalp. At the same time our old skin/scalp tissue cells regenerate and sloths off naturally as dead skin/scalp tissue new skin/scalp tissue forms.
Everybody is different but if she has an overactive gland or two, which is covered by various products, then the dead skin cells lining the opening of her hair follicle will not shed properly and clog up her hair follicles - producing build up - which creates an ideal environment for bacteria. Bacteria loves oils that are not easily absorbed (like Petroleum, mineral oil and lanolin) into the skin, scalp and hair. As her hair does not seem to be porous build up on the hair shaft and cortex can lead to dryness and breakage"
Anita suggests using an ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse which is the most common alternatively you could try coconut water.

Deep conditioning your hair is a must, Anita assures me that deep conditioning your hair will help to smooth cuticles and give your hair a healthier appearance, you should deep condition your hair every other week, though remember deep conditioning will not repair damaged hair, however it will improve the health of your new growth, so get rid of those damaged ends with a good trim.

Focus on getting some much needed moisture into your hair, water is your friend and the best moisturiser seal in that moisture with oil or butter

Conditioned and moisturised hair will help with the manageability of you hair, making your hair easier to maintain and de-tangle.

Lastly I suggest you keep styling simple, embrace the humble two strand twist,(learn how to do it here) it will protect you hair from over styling.

Check out YouTube for great video's for style and techniques that are simple and easy to learn

I hope that this has helped you and that you begin to enjoy your natural hair journey

*this is just my opinion anyone experiencing hair loss should consult a specialist and any tips and advice given by myself or Anita Grant are purely from our own personal experiences 


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