I am so sorry I have been gone for so long. I haven't deserted you, I promise! I hope everyone's journey is going well.
So I have received a lot of questions about natural hair versus relaxed hair and how each affects our ability to grow long hair. This debate has been raging for a few years now. There are various opinions on relaxing versus not relaxing and the impact it has on the health of your hair and its ability to retain length. Some people believe that relaxed hair does not grow, some believe natural hair is difficult to manage, relaxed hair is damaged and weak, natural hair is dry, tangles easily and prone to breakage.... Like I said, various opinions. Today, I thought I'd weigh in on this.
While these claims may have some element of truth in them, they can be very misleading.
If you look around the blogsphere, you will find lots of relaxed heads with long, healthy hair. You will find natural heads with easy regimens. Relaxed hair does infact grow (I can attest to that :) and natural hair is not necessarily difficult to manage. The important thing is knowing what works for your hair, the effects of the environment on your hair and what your lifestyle can accommodate. I love the quote from the book 'The art of war' that goes: "Know your enemy, know yourself and in a hundred battles you will always be victorious". Relating this to hair, if you know your self (your hair) and you know your enemy (external factors - heat, relaxers, manipulation etc), you will be successful in your healthy hair journey.
That said, if the weather is humid and you insist on wearing your natural hair straight, you may find natural hair "difficult to manage", if you have natural 4c hair with no defined curl pattern and you are trying to wear a Kelis type high definition curly fro, you may find natural hair "difficult to manage". Alternatively, if you wear your 4c natural hair in 2 strand twists, braids, cornrows, updos, braid outs etc you may find that natural hair is a lot easier to manage than is portrayed. Same goes with relaxed hair. Yes, relaxed hair will NOT grow if you don't know how to treat it. If you don't deep condition your hair regularly to restore lost moisture and proteins, your hair wont grow. If you flat iron your hair, every other day, your hair wont grow and it's not because relaxed hair doesn't grow it's because you don't know your hair. Some people can use heat once a week, some people can't. Know your hair and half the 'battle' is won.
|Kelis' and her curly fro|
When my sister relaxes her hair, it looks good for a month and then starts to fall out in clumps. I relax my hair and my hair thrives. Her hair just can't deal with the damage caused by relaxers and yes relaxed hair is damaged hair, controlled damage but damage nonetheless. So while my hair can deal with the damage, hers can't, so she went natural. She now has gorgeous thick healthy hair. My point? While you can be inspired by others, we are all unique and figuring out what works for you while taking into consideration your hair type, your lifestyle, your taste, style preference, the weather, environment etc will help you set and achieve realistic goals.
We know that there are some staples that everyone should adher to: moisturizing, conditioning, gentle combing, protecting etc. These are pretty much standard and apply to everyone but when it comes to details like how often to wash your hair, how often to condition, how much heat your hair can take, whether or not to relax etc don't believe everything you hear/read. There is a bit of trial and error required to determine what works for you specifically. So get on it. You wont know until you try.
The reason why a lot of us struggle to achieve the hair we want is because we haven't come to understand what our hair really wants. Hopefully, this hair growth challenge will be a journey of self discovery as we learn more about our hair and how to get the best out of it.
I know we are only 2 weeks into the challenge. Have your learnt anything new about your hair so far? Let me know in the comment section. Also, if you have any questions or comments, suggestions on what my next post should be. Let me know.