Change up is good practice for getting to know your hair

A new favorite. Quick and easy to create and maintain, I can see this one being a go to style for this winter.

A while ago, someone started a thread on Nappturality asking if people had the patience to wear a single hair style for long periods of time. If I recall, many people said they did not. And indeed, it is not uncommon to see folks complaining up a storm that they’re bored with their hair and wish they had more styling options. 

While at the moment, I can’t say that I fall into that category, I can certainly understand because I’ve been there too. When I first joined Nappturality and began lurking all the hair albums, websites and blogs, I remember being amazed at people’s styling skills and simply awestruck by all the different ways people could style nappy hair. Quite frankly, I was and still awestruck at the versatility of nappy, African textured hair.

This was actually one of my earliest attempts at styling my hair. Flat twists fashioned into a french row in the back. As you can see, I had my parting and flat twisting technique perfected pretty early on in my loose hair journey.

Another really early hair do. This one morphed a bit before it actually became my signature style for a couple of years.

In the early days of my loose natural hair journey, I became quite determined to learn how to care for and style it myself. And as I mastered the basics of making parts, creating flat twists, two strand twists and puffs, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm for styling my hair. No sooner would I get one style in than I’d look in the mirror and almost immediately want to try something different. Back then, I simply couldn’t get enough of my hair, and it was saying something if I could leave one style in for more than two days.

This was a quickie favorite of mine for a really long time. Maybe about eight jumbo flat twists that converged at my nape and secured into a ponytail with a decorative bun. I tucked the ends under for more protection.

Early full-head flat twists. It several months to find the right moisturizer. But once I found something that work, I've rarely tried anything else. Back then I was sooo in love with my hair. I loved the way my ends curled up and I loved my shrinkage. I never fought it. Instead, I set out to take really good care of my hair so that one day my twists, with shrinkage would actually sit on my shoulders. Today, double the actual length later, they do.

More full-head twists. In this pic, I can tell you that I was having issues with heat damage. Hair that was burned straight and wouldn't coil. When I wore my hair like this, I would twist in a bit of synthetic hair to disguise the fact that I'd actually cut off small patches of hair on my right side that was shorter than the rest.

One of my bigger issues back then, if I recall correctly, was that my hair wouldn’t hold a style for long. While many nappies on hair boards seemed to embrace the frizz that comes along with a well-worn style, I simply could not.  I always wanted my twists to look freshly done. And, as long as it took to create a style, it just seems to me that it should stay looking nice for more than a couple of days. I could always make it through the third day, but rarely could I wake up on day four and like what I was seeing in the mirror. By then my hair looked like it had been that way for a couple of weeks. So I was constantly refreshing my twists.

At first, I’d redo every single one of them every third day or so. Then I got smart and just started refreshing in sections. That worked out much better. While not completely ideal, it kept me from going insane trying to do my entire head of twists all the time.

It took me a minute to figure this out, but one of the reasons I think I had an inordinate amount of frizziness is because when I wore microbraids relentlessly, I ignorantly let braiders “clean” my microbraids. That’s the process of trimming the small hairs sticking out of a finished braid along its entire length which gives your braids a really sleek and beautiful finished look. I loved it and allowed that to go on for years. Problem is, they’re not only trimming the stray synthetic hairs sticking out of the braid, they’re also trimming your own hair as well. I had no idea I was ruining my hair like that and four years later, after I stopped wearing braids for good, I had 10 gajillion different lengths of hair all over my head. So no matter how I styled my hair or what product I used on it, all those ends would work their way loose in only a couple of days leaving my entire head looking like a fuzzy carpet.

In addition to that issue, the various lengths would also create awful tangles within my twists which meant I couldn’t go long periods of time without needing to detangle. So the constant refreshing was actually a necessity to keep my hair from knotting up beyond hope and repair. As a result, I was constantly in my hair and although my family never really said anything, to them I must have seemed quite obsessed with this nappy stuff growing out of my head.

And I was.

In retrospect though, I have to say that the constant attention I paid to my hair back then helped me gain the confidence I needed to wear my hair in its natural state. While at times it seemed rather tedious, most of the time I enjoyed every minute of styling and learning about my hair. Constantly changing my styles and on occasion trying different products, allowed me to become intimately familiar with my strands, learning its likes, dislikes and my own personal preferences. Sometimes I met with utter failure, but most of the time the constant experimentation and time spent on my hair enabled me to sharpen my skills and to tweak my routine when necessary or to simply leave well enough alone.

One of my favorites. The front was originally all twisted back and later I added the two strand twist bangs to soften the front hair-line. The spiral was created by leaving them in bantu knots over night. My hair is less kinky in the top and so I usually have less definition on the ends in this area as seen in this photo.

Fast forward to today. While, I’m no longer driven to wear twenty different styles in one week or feel the need to touch it up every other day, I’d say I’m still pretty much obsessed with my hair. Just in a different way.

These days, I opt for much simpler styling options. Since my hair is much longer, its length without layers and all those stray ends, gives me styling options that don’t require a lot of upkeep. With bra strap length (BSL) hair, I can easily get my loose hair in a gorgeous bun. Or, instead of installing 80 two-strand twists, now 15 large ones will suffice. I can pull those back in to a ponytail, or make one large, low plait with the ends tucked under or twirl them around a hair stick and create a fun and casual chunky-looking twisted up do. On occasion, during low humidity days I’ll take all my hair down, pull it back and treat myself to the cutest twist out pony puff. And last winter, I discovered that large box braids give me similar styling choices.

More than anything, getting a quick style in and just letting it be has been an absolute godsend.  Not only is this easy, it still promotes length retention, something that’s always been on my

Pictured left: OMG I loved this do. It came to be after I took to my braids out in anticipation of getting my color touched up. I needed something quick and easy until then. It turned out so cute and easy to maintain that I wore it for about a week.
agenda. I’m a sister who loves and wants long, big, thick nappy hair. The longer the better and as it gets longer, trust me when I say, I’ll adapt and find the easiest, quickest way possible to care for and style my hair. That’s a good thing too as I simply don’t have the time, inclination, energy or desire to spend that much time on my strands anymore. Right now seven to eight days is really a good time frame for me before I really must do something to my hair. But I never let my hair go longer than that. I’ve never subscribed to not touching my hair for months on end. To me, nappy hair can be low maintenance, but NOT NO maintenance. It’s crazy to let your hair go like that and then complain that it took you three days to take it down and another three days to detangle it. No wonder some people, under these circumstances think nappy hair is too hard to maintain and are driven back to relaxers or dreads out of frustration.
Box braids. I love them. I wore them non stop from last November thru April of this year. The intermittently all summer long. I have no doubt I’ll be wearing them this winter as well.
But as far as experimentation and change up goes, in the early days of being natural, I think it’s the best way to learn about and learn to love your nappy natural hair.
4 Responses to “Change up is good practice for getting to know your hair”
  1. I was just in awe at your hair. I looks soft and its so long. I am still trying to figure out what I can use to keep my hair soft and I am a bit lazy when it comes to taking care of my kinky hair because I have to wash and detangle in sections, its so thick. What do you use as a daily moisturizer and was there any style that you think helped with getting your hair to grow?

  2. Linda says:

    I agree with Avvonda, your hair looks great. I’m starting to work more with styling my own hair then going to a stylist to do the same style. I can handle flat twists, but still experience trouble with two strands. When I do them the sizes of the two strands vary & I don’t like the look. Any types on styling your own two strands, as well as a great moisturizer. Thx for sharing your hair care regimen!

  3. Nicole says:

    Thank you so muchf or not just sharing your pictures, but taking the time to explain what you did at every stage of the growth of your hair. Like you, I enjoy styling my hair. It can be tedious though because I like my twists to look as fresh as possible so I retwist every two days and since it has grown longer it takes about 30 minutes, which is great becausef I can twist them bigger. I love chunky twist outs.

  4. Victoria says: been wearing dreads for 6 years. I’m debating now whether I should cut then or keep therm. I’m bored to pieces with my hair witch is almost to my waist line. I’m definitely not going back to relaxers but I don’t even know where to begin as far as which products to use etc. your hair is gorgeous abc inspiring.

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