New Year; Same Hair Goal

Trying to get past this length in 2013

For my hair journey, the beginning of 2013 looks pretty much like the end of 2012.  My main focus this year will be to protect my hair from ME!  That’s right, I’ve figured out the real reason why I’m still sitting at the length I am now.  Some people call it “Scissor Happy” but I’m now calling it counter productive.  I really like when my ends have that blunt cut appearance and when they don’t, I’m pulling out the scissors.  As far as retaining length, with this way of thinking, I’m at a stand still with my hair.

Lately I have been looking for ways to distract myself because yes, I’ve been thinking about cutting again.  I hit APL (Arm Pit Length) at the sides a couple times in 2012 and saw it as an oppurtunity to even things up.  Now, I do still have bangs in the front and layers on the top and sides, so my bottom layer is still the lengthiest part of my hair overall.  I guess I have always wanted to help the other sections catch up to the rest which would mean trimming the longest bits little by little.  Still, even with that being the goal I figured I would just hover at BSL (Bra Strap Length) before trying to make my hair more even.  At this rate, I’ll never see BSL which for me is only two more inches away (in back; when the hair is stretched).

Last fall I counted and it looks like I gave myself at least 6-7 trims throughout the year.  Some to get rid of heat damage (searching for the perfect curl) and some to give my hair that look of blunt ends.  My last trim for 2012 was at the end of November and I honestly think I should put the scissors aside until the spring.  I really am curious to see where my hair will end up in the coming months but the urge to cut is always there.  Not sure if I can do it but I’m gonna try.

Healthy Hair and Skin from the Inside

Recent twist and curl style

I am pretty happy with my hair recently and am feeling like things are getting back to normal.  By that I mean I was having some issues with dry, flaky scalp followed up by a month or two with heavy shedding.  Both issues are finally getting under control so I have been uploading to my YouTube channel more often with hair tutorials.  Before now though it was so frustrating to do anything with my hair because I almost felt like there was no point.  The flakes made it look so bad that I didn’t even want to go out some days.

One of the things that I think helped was that I started working on my immune system to help get my skin under control.  I have psoriasis and I have known for a while now that the inflammation in my skin is because of something not quite right with my immune system.  When the psoriasis flared up I started introducing probiotics into my system by eating a serving of Activia yogurt each day.  This helped with digestion and made it possible for my body to absorb my supplements better.  After doing that for 2-3 weeks I decided to go back to a more effective multi-vitamin formulated for women.  It costs more but has proved to be much better for my body than the usual store brands.

So happy my scalp is finally clearing up

I also added some supplements to my daily routine like garlic, super B-Complex and vitamin E.  The garlic helped with the shedding and didn’t start working right away but I can tell that I am shedding fewer hairs per wash session now.  I would say it took about a 3-4 weeks before it started to make a difference.  The B-Complex contains biotin and I can see that it is helping my nails so hopefully it’s doing something for my hair as well.  The Vitamin E is a given because it’s known for being good for the skin.  I usually try to take my multi-vitamin on its own  and then the other supplements together at another time during the day.  Both times are with a meal.  I also started drinking Green Tea for the antioxidants and increased my daily water intake.

With the Colorado climate being especially dry right now,  I hope that this regimen will get me through the winter without having anymore problems.  For now,  I’m using shea butter to moisturize my skin and staying away from heavy oils on my scalp to avoid build-up.  I’ve also started doing more finger detangling instead of using a tool to get rid of shed hairs.  

NOTE:  As with anything health related be sure and speak with a physician when considering adding vitamins and supplements to your daily routine  

Protecting Your Hair at Night

Satin Bonnet
for when I’m wearing rollers and
curly braid outs

I’ve been writing lately about Protective Hairstyles which can help with length retention.  Yet another way to protect the hair is by wrapping it up at night.  This may sound like a no brainer to some but there is a lot of benefit for the hair by doing this one thing.   This practice can be a huge help when trying to reach your hair length goals.

I  recently re-read a bit of Wanakee Pugh’s “Practical Guide to Haircare” and something stood out to me.  She stated that even if your hair is too short to be pulled back into a protective style, you can still benefit from wrapping your hair at night.  This reminded me of the beginning of my Natural Hair journey because I did this faithfully every night.  My hair was maybe only 1 1/2 inches long at the time but I kept it wrapped up in my satin scarves when I went to sleep.  Now that my hair is longer I can tell a huge difference in my hair when I go to bed without covering it up.  I wake up to tangles and sometimes dryness.  I agree that it is not the cutest look going but it works.

I mentioned my satin scarves (I have a nice little collection) but you can also use a satin bonnet.  Satin is a man made material that is easy to wash and can be long lasting.  This is highly recommended as far as material choice because it does not draw moisture away from the hair and is smooth so it won’t disturb it very much while you sleep.  When I wear rollers to bed I usually reach for my satin bonnet.  Otherwise, I have scarves in a variety of sizes for when I wear braids, twists and protective styles to bed.  Here’s a few pics of how I wrap my hair.

Pineapple for the Corkscrew Braid Out
with my edges protected

Air drying while smoothing my edges 

Large Satin Scarf to protect my
 Roller Set from the rain

Satin Bonnets and Scarves from
the local BSS

Protective Style: The Puff Bun

I am slowly gaining on my third year with natural hair and am finding new ways to style my curls.  I have always known that I simply cannot keep my hands out of my hair so sometimes I have to put it away.  More recently though, I have been trying to keep my hair protected for the majority of the time so that by summer I will get to see lots more growth retention (a.k.a. lots-of-hair).

Before now I kept thinking that the only protective styles in my arsenal were Mini Individual Braids, the Donut Bun and French Braids.  Thankfully I have discovered even more ways to tuck my hair away.  I’ll be sharing a few styles in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

First up is what I call the Puff Bun but I have seen others call it the “Cinna-Bun”.  Basically, I pull my wet hair up into a puff by using an “Ouchless” headband that I wrap around twice.  I use Eco Styler hair gel to help smooth the sides and nape area.  I push the headband back towards the crown until it stops and then spread the puff out to expose the center.  After that I simply push the hair down towards the base.  I then pin sections of the puff with bobby pins and secure the ends of each section near the band underneath.  In the pictures posted I also left out a little hair in front for fluffy bangs.  I used a small clip to secure the ends of the bangs to make a side swoop.  This can also be done with dry hair that has been stretched from a braid-out or twist-out.

I like this style because I don’t have to use any hair gel on the length of my hair for a curly effect because I’ll be tucking the hair under anyway.  This also keeps my ends protected which will help me reach my hair length goals.

I used Eco Styler Gel on the sides
and nape

Ends are tucked under with Bobby Pins

Back View
More Protective Styles to Come!

My True Hair Length

The other day I was watching a hair length check video by pltbyCormie on YouTube.  She was explaining that if you think that you are not experiencing hair growth, it may be best to start measuring your hair with a tape measure.  This way you end up getting a more accurate look at how long your hair truly is.  Since I’m trying to avoid straightening my hair for awhile, I can never really “see” where my hair is due to shrinkage.  I decided to try it because I have been a little frustrated waiting for APL length hair.  This method not only showed me where my current length is, but also gave me an idea of how much longer until I reach my hair length goals.  It turns out that I am approximately 2″ away from reaching my goal and another 4″ before I reach BSL (bra strap).  I was relieved to finally have something more concrete than just looking in the mirror and waiting for hair growth. 

Measuring from shoulder length to APL;
about 5 to 6 inches
Height and Hair Length
Cormie also mentioned that when we look to others who have already reached their hair length goals, we should try not to compare our hair to theirs.  This is where height comes into play.  Depending on how tall you are, you may have longer or shorter to go before reaching SL (shoulders), APL (arm pits) and BSL (bra strap).  The distance between these points is different for everyone.  If you are shorter in stature then you may be able to reach your goals sooner than someone who is considered quite tall.  I’m 5’6″ and the distance between SL and APL on me is 5 to 6 inches.  I had the unrealistic goal of achieving this length by Dec. of 2010 after only getting to shoulder length in May of 2010.  That’s only 7 months time while my hair most likely only grows 1/2″ per month.  Now I can stop fretting over not reaching this goal already because I can see that I’m on track to reach it by my 2 year natural hair anniversary (May 2011) which is more accurate.  Others who have reached this goal sooner may or may not be shorter than I am.  Now that I have this knowledge, I am looking forward to seeing hair growth in a time frame that is true to me and based on my own hair.