Happy New Year! To be honest, I have never been good at following through on new year’s resolutions. Partly because I set lofty goals with no true plan and partly because it usually consists of a lifestyle change of some sort. Thankfully, my resolution for my natural hair is more of a slight change than an entire upheaval of my routine.
To start, I want to share the meaning of a few key phrases I will be using in this post just in case you don’t have an understanding of natural hair. If you already know, feel free to skip over these definitions!
Natural Hair: Hair that is in its natural state completely free of chemicals. Natural hair can range from loose waves to tight coils.
Wash-and-go: Washing hair, applying product to wet hair, and allowing it to air dry (or blowing it dry). This style is the most natural state of the curl.
Protective Style: A style that once done requires very little manipulation/maintenance. Thus protecting the hair and allowing it to remain (or get) healthy and grow.
Twist Out: Twisting hair in two strand or three stand twists while wet or dry, allowing it to set for few hours or overnight, taking out the twists, and styling.
Braid Out: Same process as twist out – just with braids
Flexi Rod Set: Rolling wet or damp hair onto flexi rods (flexible foam hair rollers), allowing it to dry/set, and styling hair.
Box Braids: Hair is parted into box shaped parts and braided. This can be done with or without extensions.
My natural hair resolution for this year is to do only protective styles. Ideally, I won’t do any wash-and-go’s or at the very least do very few. I have noticed my hair does best when I leave it alone. A perfect example is every time I’ve done box braids. My hair always grows like a weed.
Why this is my resolution
My go to since I’ve gone natural has been a wash-and-go. I am shifting away because wash-and-go’s have a few cons for my hair texture (very tight curls). Those cons being shrinkage, low moisture retention, and major detangling on wash day.
The biggest con is shrinkage. On the first day I wash my hair I lose about 3 inches of length at least. That is IF my styling goes off without a hitch. One wrong step and my hair dries as short as it was a year ago. No joke.
I’m sure I’ve said it before, but my hair soaks up and loses moisture like a sponge. With a wash-and-go, I have to spend so much time working the product into my hair that my hands look wrinkled. Sitting in the bathtub for a long soak wrinkled. After a couple of days my hair starts to feel dry. Even with daily moisture it only feels super soft on wash day.
Due to my hair getting so dry and my curls being so tight it gets super tangled. Most of my wash day is spent detangling my hair. Besides it being time consuming, there’s also the added con of unavoidable breakage that’s definitely happening every time I detangle/shed.
Most protective styles cover all the cons of a wash-and-go for me. I have little to no shrinkage on day 1 of styling and my hair just gets bigger over time. My hair is able to retain moisture for much longer (still gets dry, but no comparison). There are barely any tangles on wash day (except for with box braids – hair is pretty knotty when you take them out).
On wash day, in lieu of doing a wash-and-go I will do a protective style. For now, I will bounce between flexi rods sets, twists outs, braid outs, and box braids. I will probably throw in the occasional low bun or up-do, but I want to keep those to a minimum as they can lead to breakage sometimes.
Twist outs result in a very similar curl pattern to my own. I haven’t tried a braid out yet, but imagine it would yield similar results. The major difference is in length. The style stretches my hair significantly. My mom has been encouraging me to “do a twist out” for literally every occasion so I am sure she’ll be happy to know I’m finally following her advice.
Flexi rods leave me with a looser curl pattern (think Tracee Ellis Ross). The larger the flexi rod, the larger the curl. It doesn’t stretch the curl quite as much as a twist out in the length department, but I love the end result. The only downside is looser curls don’t last as long and are more prone to frizz on a misty day.
I have a love/hate relationship with box braids. They’re so low maintenance. I just don’t like to be aware of my hair. Box braids are heavy and fall in your face at the most inopportune moments (i.e. drinking soup or grabbing luggage off the conveyor belt). That being said, they are great for travel or when you don’t have time to focus on your hair.
I love my natural curl pattern so eliminating the wash-an-go has nothing to do with that. My primary focus is length retention and protective styles are the best way to get there. I’ll spend a little more time doing these styles and then leave my hair alone for the rest of the week.
Currently rocking my second twist out of 2020. I’ll do a check-in to to let you know how it’s going in a few months! I’ll also share how to’s on protective styles I feel I’ve mastered.