My Final Length Check for 2008

My journey…a few reflections looking back at this past year.

December 14, 1009, finally back at APL after a late fall big chop

My Big Chop
As I was doing my hair today, actually just touching up my twists for what I hope will last till Friday of this week, I decided to do a final length

Reaching my goal...BSL

Reaching my goal...BSL

check for 2008. The goal that I embarked on achieving earlier this year was for the nape to reach my brastrap. Now I did get there, but I was really bothered by my layers —bsl, apl and sl. Quite frankly, they were simply driving me crazy. So a couple of months ago, I finally did the deed and cut off my lowest layer.

It took me back up the apl and just getting it done was a really hard thing to do. I mean, it just takes sooo long to grow hair and gain length. I’m quite certain I grow approximately 1/2 of hair a month, which is considered average. But I’m also quite certain that I don’t retain all of that length. A little breakage here and there and the need to trim every now and again, and I know at the end of the year, I’m not looking at six inches gained. But I’m not complaining…well, not really… cause in the end, I’m happy to get what I get. The cut was totally necessary and definitely gave my hair, overall, a much much more attractive and neater shape. The final verdict: I really like it.

Use of Heat

Pressed for the purposes of getting a precision cut

Pressed for the purposes of getting a precision cut

I’ve also softened my own personal stance on using heat. Just a little. This year, I discovered that the only way to see what’s really going on with my hair is to give it a light press, something I did towards the end of this summer so I could go get a good precision cut. I’ve tried having it cut without getting it pressed before, just with an airdry stretch and had disasterous results. So I’ve avoided beauticians like the plague ever since, opting instead to twist it up and trim the ends myself. But as my hair grew longer, it was also extremely uneven and in desperate need of being shaped up. However, because no beautician that I know can cut hair unless it’s straight, I’d been grappling
Twists falling neatly at shoulders after precision cut.

Twists falling neatly at shoulders after precision cut.

with the idea of pressing it for the purposes of getting precision cut for a very long time. So when I could no longer stand the condition of my hair, I took all the risks into consideration and flat ironed my hair. It turned out ok, and I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing it that way. Several days later, I got the cut and continued to wear it straight for a fewl more days. Well…OK…it was hot and humid so it was more puffy than straight, but it was nice to see and enjoy more of my length for a time anyway. But since my hair doesn’t and has never held a press very well, it was just too much to deal with. And that’s when I realized that I honestly, really truely no longer prefered my hair like. So when I finally washed my hair to restore its texture, I was really, really glad to finally have my naps back.

Now I’ll never TELL or advise anyone to use heat on their hair for any reason. In addition, I don’t allow heat discussions on my natural hair care board either nor did I post about my own experience on Why? Primarily out of respect for my own members and most importantly because heat, if done incorrectly AND for prolonged periods of time, can and will damage your hair. I’m also against using heat in the earliest stages of going and being natural because black women who embark on this journey need to come to terms with their nappieness. They need to learn to care for and style their hair without the aid of heat. And, they need to get used to seeing themselves with textured tresses. This can’t happen if they’re constantly vacillating between heat induced styles and nappy hair. I know all of this from first- hand experience. When I first started wearing my natural hair devoid of braids (which I’d worn nonstop for three years after my last relaxer) I would wear my hair nappy most everyday, except for special occasions. When a “special” day rolled around, I’d run for the hot comb and my hair sufferened horribliy. One day it clicked, and I finally made the decision to cut out the heat cold turkey, but by then my hair had suffered irreparable damage. Nevertheless, I still wanted to and craved the pressing comb. It was crazy, I mean It was like being addicted to crack or something. 

But as a natural, putting an end to my heat crutch was one of the best decisions I ever made. Three years later, my hair is longer, and most importantly healtheir than it’s ever been in my entire life. And that’s why I agonzied over my decision to put heat on my hair again after all this time.  However, as I continue on my journey, I find that I’ve grown tremendously comfortable in my nappiness, and so, I had to do what was best for ME. I did it, but taking great pains to insure that I wouldn’t damage my hair. Once I got the cut I was very happy with the results so, I’ve come to the conclusion that pressing my hair occasionally for the purposes of a trim or a precision cut will continue to be a regular part of my hair care routine.

Braids Gone Bye-bye

My braids...a freaking nightmare!

My braids...a freaking nightmare!

This year, as winter approached, I also agonized over what to do with my hair. Last year, it seemed as if I never got into my nappy groove and hopped from one product to another trying to keep my hair moisturized and make it act “right.” Ha! It wasn’t to be. I mean, my hair, with the right product, simply thrives during the hot humid dog days of summer, but as the cooler weather sets in, it just takes on a mind of its own. To my disdain, it doesn’t shrink up as much, and it always looks so dang dry, and I hate that. So rather than deal with my hair this winter, I decided to get braids to get me through the worst of the season.

Now there are obvious advantages to wearing braided extensions. You can enjoy tremendous lengths, they’re extremely low maintenance and if you take care of your hair properly, you can gain and retain some very good length. The down side of braids is that if you don’t take care of your hair well, or if you get them done too tightly, or leave them in too long, both your hair and follicles can suffer irrepable damage.

Knowing both the pros and cons, my mind was made up and I had micros done in early November. Sat for about nine hours. The first three days, my scalp hurt horribly and the braids felt unusually heavy. I keept thinking it would get better but it only got worse. There were days that I wanted to literally rip my hair out. I even dreamed that I had actually cut them out leaving only a few inches of hair. In short, I was miserable 24-7. And so only two weeks after getting them, I knew those darned things had to go. The night before Barack was elected I started taking them out of the middle, figuring I’d just pull my hair up around my loose naps and wear it in a ponytail until I could take all of them out over the upcoming weekend. Well on election day I got off early, voted and decided to finish it up. Big mistake. I didn’t get done till 3 a.m. the next morning and only got three hours of sleep before having to get up for work the same day. I was dog tired but I must have been on a Barak high cause I didn’t miss a beat all day. And to top it all off, I was sooooo happy to feel my own hair, I couldn’t stop touching it all day long. So after that that experience, I know I’ll never wear fake hair on my head again!

Finger combing




Lawd hammercy, I had to stop using combs and brushes of any kind on my hair because they were ripping it out the longer it got. The alternative was to using my fingers to detangle no matter what. Overall, this hasn’t been as hard as it might sound, but it does involve having a lot of patience. But for me, it wasn’t at all hard to incorporate into my hair care routine. Since I wear my hair in the same style most of the time, I simply rinse my hair while it’s styled, take it down, use the same parts and retwist. My own signature style, flat twists in the front and two-strand twists in the back is incredibly versatile which enables me to wear it in a variety of buns and chignons that can give me a different look every day if I want. But if I didn’t have the length, I wouldn’t have the styling flexibility that I now enjoy. And I’ve only reached these lengths due to three years of protective styling, simplicity and a lot of patience. My hair is currently longer and thicker than I’ve ever seen it in my entire life, so I have no illusions that the changes I’ve made in how I care for my hair has been totally worth it.

What’s in store for 2009?
Another big chop. I’m still working on evening up my hair. Currently it’s just past the start of APL all the way around but the crown is just past shoulder length. My plan is to let it grow uninterrupted til June when I should have close to three more inches of length. Then I’ll chop it off. If all goes as planned, ALL of my hair will be APL, and then I’ll be able to just let it grow. And again, barring no unforseen mishaps with my hair, by this time next year, I will have another three inches of hair, which will put me solidly at BSL and my biggest goal of all will have finally been achieved.

So yeah, looking back, I’ve had quite a journey this year. I’ve grown stronger in my convictions, softened up on others and along the way, I’ve discovered how much I really love my hair. It’s been a great 2008 and if the past is an indication of the future then I’m sure I’ll do just fine in 2009.

2 Responses to “My Final Length Check for 2008”
  1. Naturalfinally says:

    I love your website! It is informative and positive. I haven’t been natural since the age of 8 and I’m 46 now. I made the tranisition using braids. My last perm was about 3 years ago. I got my last set of braids last August and took them out in December 08. I’m lovin my natural hair! I’m actually having a love affair with it. Thank you so much for the new styles. I can’t wait to try them.

    • nappyme says:

      love your website! It is informative and positive. I haven’t been natural since the age of 8 and I’m 46 now. I made the tranisition using braids. My last perm was about 3 years ago. I got my last set of braids last August and took them out in December 08. I’m lovin my natural hair! I’m actually having a love affair with it. Thank you so much for the new styles. I can’t wait to try them.

      Thank you sooooo much! And that’s what I’m talkin ’bout! I’m glad you find my styles inspiring enough to try them. I think twists are so versatile and allows you to wear your hair in practically any style without having to deal with the bulk of loose nappy hair. If you get a chance to try them, let me know, and I’ll post some pics!

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