2 Years Post Big Chop, 30 Months Post Relaxer
It has been 2 years since my Big Chop! A little over 2 years now actually. I cut my hair off on 24th June 2011.
I have learnt a lot about my hair since then. And although tricky at times, I have enjoyed every part of the ‘journey’. I’ve tried to share as much as possible here since I started the whole process. I hope some of the information has been helpful.
I think my growth has been pretty good. Or rather, I’ve been able to retain a lot of length despite my many errors and mistakes… I still don’t know if I’m really in a position to give anyone any sort of expert advice, but I’ll share 10 things that I believe got me to where I am today.
- Water: Staying hydrated ~ I remember thinking this must be a load of nonsense, but let me tell you now, when you are dehydrated your hair suffers. The dryness is no myth. I am certain it is real. Making sure you drink enough water is good for the whole system, inside and out. It helps your skin and hair. So drink up!
- Moisture: Related to water and hydration but not in the same way. Making sure your hair stays moisturised is a great way to promote growth and length retention. Water, a good moisturiser and/or leave in conditioner, and protective styling have been a great help for me. This doesn’t mean you have to walk around with wet hair. On the contrary, wet doesn’t mean moisturised. Most of the time when my hair is ‘hard’, ‘rough’, or difficult to manage, it’s because it’s dry and lacking in moisture. Braids and twists have allowed me to lock in the moisture. What steps are you taking to make sure your hair is moisturised.
- Cleansing: A Clean scalp and hair are important. Whether you rely on co-washing, gentle cleansers or sulphate shampoos, please remember that a clean and healthy scalp in essential if you want growth and healthy hair. A lot of people take cleansing for granted but build up can hinder growth, lead to dryness, itchiness and irritation. Make sure your hair is clean!
- Trims: I really don’t like trimming my hair. I used to be indifferent. The longer it gets, the less inclined I am to go for a trim. My ends definitely experience wear and tear and the only way to stop from any potential damage from travelling up the shafts/strands, is to cut the ends off. Rather than sticking to a time frame like I used to; going for a trim once every 2 months for example, now I look at the condition of my hair and try to gauge whether or not a trim is necessary. If the ends are a frazzled they’ve got to go. It’s annoying but necessary.
- Deep Conditioning: This should really be my top tip. Because it has been so important for me. If I don’t have a deep conditioner I’ll use my normal one, cover my hair with a plastic cap and use my heat bonnet for at least 20 mins. I feel the difference afterwards. My hair is softer and the effects last for days.
- Silk and Satin: Best believe that a silk or satin scarf/bonnet or pillow case at bedtime will change your life! I never use gel to smooth my edges, and this is mainly because I tie a silk scarf almost every night. Use a silk or satin scarf for a week and then switch back to nothing but your cotton pillow case and feel the difference. Cotton was drying my hair out and soaking up the products I used making my face greasy. Switching to silk/satin was a great decision for me.
- Heat reduction: I have straightened my hair once professionally, and tried to do it once myself (which was a complete disaster). I have blown my hair out probably 10-15 times since I did my big chop. Reducing heat helped with dryness which reduced breakage and frizz.
- Protective styles: I still do chunky braids twice a year. When I go back to Nigeria. The rest of the time, I alternate between braid outs and twist outs. When my hair is plaited or twisted I normally leave them in for 4 days and then rock the twist out or braid out for the remaining 3 days of the week before washing and starting the process all over again. Protective styling has helped me retain length, seal in moisture, and reduce knots and tangling which can lead to breakage.
- Saying NO to Wash n Gos: Now a lot of people will probably disagree with me on this one but Wash n Gos are something I’ve had to avoid for about a year now. Leaving my hair wet and un-stretched to dry naturally leads to so much shrinkage and tangles that I really don’t see the point anymore. Even if it’s a good day and my hair doesn’t frizz, it still tangles and inevitably starts to break when I try to de-tangle. I hate wash day so anything that is going to make the next one any harder is a no-go for me. Keeping my hair stretched and letting it dry that way has made it more manageable.
- Patience: Patience in styling, de-tangling, combing/brushing, everything. You have to be patient and gentle. You cannot be aggressive with your hair. It won’t grow any faster so just take care of it and yourself wait for your body to do the rest. I think in my first year BC my hair was still the main thing I focused on. I planned everything around how/what I was doing to my hair. This isn’t healthy or normal. The less I stressed and worried about it, the easier things became. It’s going to grow either way. Your job is just to make sure you keep it healthy. So don’t over do it with products, manipulation or anything else. It is wonderful, but it’s still just hair. Reminding myself of this fact has made my whole hair-care process and routine less stressful. Realising that sometimes less is more in terms of products too has improved the condition of my hair. Being patient has made the wait for growth more bearable and as you can see, it is definitely growing!
I have no regrets about my decision to stop relaxing. I LOVE my natural hair. If you’re thinking about doing the same, I’d like to encourage you to go ahead and do it. There’s nothing to be afraid of. It can be a lot of work but I can assure you that the results make it all worth it. Despite the occasional stress I believe that my natural hair makes me look and feel good.
Just remember that nothing good comes easy 🙂
Until next time,
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay blessed