When you get comfortable with your length, it’s easy to start taking shortcuts with your hair regimen. This is precisely what I did when I reached shoulder length early last year. When I compare photos from last April to now (February), I don’t see the remarkable difference that 2013-me would have hoped for. It appears to be as little as a one-inch difference.
Growing hair is not the (main) problem. The difficulty lies in retaining the weakened ends after wear and tear. Here are some of the shortcuts I took that have proven to be detrimental to my hair progress:
- Lazy protective styling: My hair is in box braids 95% of the time, which is good. However, in the past year, I stopped washing it weekly, moisturizing it daily (with a mixture of water, glycerin and conditioner) and wearing satin caps to bed.
- Too much heat: I got excited with maximizing the length of my hair. Any twist out or braid out was first done on a blow out. I also straightened my hair a few times, which I did not do in the first couple years of my hair journey. Although I used heat protectants, it is likely that my fine hair could not handle the heat.
- Ditching natural products: I’ve struggled to find a natural shampoo that cleanses and moisturizes. By last year, I just started using sulfate shampoos whenever I felt like it. I also used a few more silicone-based products when I wore straight styles. Sulfates are known to be harsh on the hair and silicones block out moisture, neither of which is healthy for hair.
- Quitting my multivitamins: To be frank, I got tired of swallowing those massive pills every day. And I know I do not get enough iron, calcium and other nutrients in my diet. Hair cannot grow if the body is not nourished.
- Getting lazy: I stopped working out around last summer, when I started working. I also purchased more food or made easier/unhealthy meals to save time and energy. I have noticed both weight gain and shortness of breath at simple tasks. I can’t say for sure, but this may have impacted my growth rate as well.
- Losing motivation: This is probably the biggest factor. I took down my wall of inspiration once I felt that my length was close enough to the beautiful girls I aspired to. Passing this wall several times a day encouraged me to run to the bathroom and spray my hair, or engage in other healthy hair practices. Without a goal, I wasn’t putting in work.
- Not keeping track: It’s not a good thing to be obsessed with hair. But keeping up with this blog and my own personal monthly photos of my hair progress were tremendously helpful tools in keeping me motivated, encouraged and on track with my hair regimen. I was more aware of what products and practices worked, where the flaws were and the consequences of bad behaviours. I only had to wait a month to notice there was no retention and to make a change, rather than finding out almost a year later that there was no progress.
I’m hoping now to modify all of those behaviours I listed above, not just for the benefit of my hair, but for the benefit of my body as well. And hopefully, by this time next year, I’m not so disappointed with my hair progress!
What are some of the shortcuts you’ve taken with your hair?