By un’ruly Contributor: Chadette Maragh
It’s funny how it all started. It was a cool August night and instead of enjoying time out with friends, I was glued to my laptop watching YouTube hair sensation, Kim Love a.k.a Kimmayatube. Voluminous and full of healthy shine, Ms. Love’s hair fell to waist length and I was amazed by its sheer beauty. I would soon learn that Ms. Love’s hair was not an immediate success story. She had worn natural hair since the late 1990s and was not able to reach such length retention and health until a decade later. Like most YouTube vloggers and hair enthusiasts, during her hair journey, Miss Love developed a hair care regimen that comprised of extreme discipline and uncompromising care that ultimately worked for her.
Suffice it to say, I was inspired and determined to someday sport a full head of healthy all-natural hair like my newly discovered hero. I soon set off on my own hair journey which included undergoing the big chop. After such a drastic move however; I was left to figure out through trial and error, my new normal as far as hair routines were concerned.
to clip or snip?
For many aspiring “big choppers,” using electronic clippers vs. a pair of scissors has proven to be an incredibly stressful decision. For me, the big chop happened in three stages: stage 1: snipping my infusions off, stage 2: clipping my hair down to a low afro, and finally stage 3: heading to the barber for a full on Caesar cut. At the end of the process, I noticed that scissors are best used to avoid over-cutting the hair as they make for a more accurate tool than clippers (this is great for transitioners with at least 2-3 inches of new growth). However, if a low cut a la fashion model, Alek Wek is preferred, clippers are the best bet for a precise, clean cut and most importantly, absent, relaxed ends.
moisture! moisture! moisture!
While everyone’s post-big chop results may vary, I found that fighting dry scalp was my next battle due to the constant need for hydration and moisture. Many naturals, suggest multiple cowash treatments within the first 4-6 months to avoid a parched scalp. Others believe in hour-long deep conditioner treatments and a few adopt the theory of wetting your locks on a daily basis to optimize moisture. I, however, found all three to be quite detrimental, as constant washes have been proven to cause split ends. Instead, I decided on a regimen based on the suggestions of my favorite hair bloggers, Kim Love and Hair Crush that comprised of a weekly wash with a moisturizing, sulfate and chemical-free shampoo, followed by an all-natural, deep penetrating 20-minute conditioning session, followed by a two strand twist and olive and/or castor oil seal. Lastly, to maintain moisture and hair hygiene, I perform a cleansing wash every three months.
While my new hair regimen seemed very time-consuming in the beginning, it soon became quite therapeutic. And while my routine has proven effective for my particular hair type, do keep in mind that there is no universal hair routine or product that guarantees success.
…and more moisture!
Another important tip I learned on the journey to my new normal is to never moisturize without a sealant. After applying a moisturizer to damp or water sprayed hair, I make sure to lock in moisture with an oil sealant such as avocado, tea tree, olive, castor or coconut oils. This conclusive step, avoids the need for constant water contact and protects the hair from split ends.
healthy hair starts from within
While it is important to feed your hair with all-natural nutrients via shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, etc., it is as equally important to understand how dietary choices tie in to hair health. Aside from the much touted eight gallons of water a day; foods with silica and Omega-3 such as celery, cucumbers, flax seeds, walnuts coupled with an unprocessed diet is said to promote good hair health and growth.
protective styling is key
Natural hair can be finicky and needs a lot of attention which makes protective styling imperative. I’ve found that protective styles such as braids, twists, full weaves and wigs (worn with a silk cap) help limit consistent hair manipulation as well as help keep ends moisturized, sealed and out of the way.
In hindsight, opting for the big chop was half the battle! Once I came to terms with my decision – it was then up to me to find a whole new way of tending to my tresses that not only worked best for my lifestyle, but also my hair type. I also learned that less is always more! The less-harmful ingredients such as, parabans, alcohols and sulfates one uses, the closer they can be to achieving enviably, healthy and lustrous hair. So do away with the countless containers of mousse, hair sprays, gels and straightening treatments and welcome a chemical-free regimen of natural hair care, moisture and growth. Here’s to finding out what’s next for you!