As I mentioned in my 2011 “recap” post, 2011 was not the year of healthy hair practices for me. In many ways, I would say that 2011 was more like the year of regression, as it seems I spent the whole year failing to get a grasp on the basics.
The first major “no-no” that I consistently committed was (*gasp*) falling asleep on cotton pillows with my hair uncovered.
I did this a lot in 2011.
Like, all the time.
This wouldn’t have even been so bad if it weren’t coupled with another terrible hair habit that that became quite commonplace for me: not moisturizing my hair in between washes. Yeah…my hair would be a DESERT on wash day. Detangling was like trying to separate a bale of hay. Despite this painful, horrible, length incinerating practice, I would still go days (weeks?) without moisturizing my hair simply because I was too lazy to do anything to it before bed. I felt so guilty about this all year and vowed to start moisturizing regularly in 2012.
As if all of the above were not bad enough, I also became a frequent offender of not protecting my ends. Obviously I didn’t do this overnight because I wasn’t even bothering to tie my hair up, but I also gave up on protective styling throughout 2011. I waffle back and forth with this all the time because honestly, I hate my hair pinned up, but I wasn’t protective styling *ever* in 2011—like, not even one day a week which was clearly a mistake. I don’t think my hair needs to be covered up 100% of the time, but I do know that protective styles need to be integrated into my routine at least some of the time if I ever hope to reach my dreams of BSL and beyond.
As I was confessing all of my hair sins to my best friend who was in town for the weekend (she is also natural and has hair around the same length as mine), we confirmed that this past year was full of inconsistent hair practices for both of us. I didn’t really stick to my regimens as planned and every week was a willy-nilly escapade where I would do whatever to my hair without keeping my length goals in mind. Likewise, she would wear here 4b, APL hair out for days on end because it was cute, only to have to face the monster that is detangling on wash day. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that so many of our hair woes were precipitated by our inexperience with hair at this length. Now that both of us our nearing BSL, it is a lot of hair to deal with (and I know we haven’t even seen nuthin’ yet) and subconsciously we were confused at (and rebelling against) the new, increased amount of attention our hair requires.
This was really startling for us, but especially me, since I’ve been natural for 8 years now. After “mastering” my hair to the point where I’ve coached several others in going natural (including my friend), you really take for granted what a “brave new world” it can be when you reach a milestone in your own hair journey that you haven’t been to before. Things that have worked for you for years suddenly do not work anymore, and all of your hard earned expertise seems for naught as you struggle to bust through month after month of hair plateaus. My best friend and I have deemed this, “The Mid-Length Crisis.”
Let me just say, for the record, that I hate The Mid-Length Crisis (MLC). I would estimate that I’ve been here for well over a year; I am anxious to resolve it (hair therapy?) and move on with the rest of my hair journey. Since my friend was in town for the weekend and we are both feeling the pain that this “crisis” can inflict, we shot an entire video detailing our MLC hair issues and plans for breaking free. I’m still editing the video, but one major “a ha!” that we described in the video was…
…neither of us like wearing our hair in medium-sized twists.
This may seem like a random declaration, but those of you who are actively trying to grow your hair out and are familiar with protective styles know that wearing you hair in medium sized twists, pinned up or bunned in some fashion is the considered to be the holy grail hairstyle for natural hair length retention. Much of this is because the style was was instrumental in helping the ever-popular Kimmaytube in reaching her now hip-bone length hair.
Anyone who has ever done the medium-sized twists protective style thing can attest that it is a phenomenal style in helping one to retain length. Even I credit this style in helping me get to APL in the first place. The issue that both me and my friend have that throws us into a “Mid-Length Crisis” in the first place is that we don’t like wearing the style! Yes, it is a great aid in hair growth but I never feel “polished” or “put together” when I am wearing my hair in that fashion. I know others will disagree and find that the medium-sized twists protective style is actually quite becoming on them, but for me, I just end up feeling like the dreaded “H”-word…homely.
So the crisis is, how do we reach our hair goals without having to wear our hair in that style? Is this an unreasonable request? Do we just need to suck it up and remind ourselves that “hair shouldn’t be the only thing going for you”?
Because my friend and I are desperate for a hair routine/style that will allow us to reach our goals but still allows us to feel “polished,” we have challenged ourselves to bust out of the MLC without the aid of medium-sized twists. Revolutionary, I know.
Since I’m ditching the medium sized twists, the regimen that I will be employing for this challenge is:
- Weekly washing and conditioning
- 3-4 weeks in mini-twists, followed by 1 week of a “loose” style
- “Loose” styles can be twist out, braid outs, or even flat ironed hair
- During the “loose” style week, I will wear my hair in a loose bun or pin up from Monday to at least Thursday, then I will wear it “out” over the weekend
- After my week of “loose” hair, I will go right back into mini-twists and start all over again
Once a month, I will post “length check” photos on the Think & Grow Chick Facebook page to see if my friend and I are making progress. You can view the January pictures right now in the gallery:
…or in the designated Facebook album. If you would like to embark on this Mid-Length Crisis challenge with us, you are free to post your hair pics on the Facebook page, too. I figured that if I know that I have a once a month “check-in,” then the accountability will keep me from being lazy with my hair throughout the week or doing dumb stuff like not moisturizing for days at a time.
Am I alone, or is there anyone else out there feeling the sting of the “Mid-Length Crisis”? What used to work for you that doesn’t anymore now that you are midway to your length goal? Does dealing with all this “new” hair stress you out? Share in the comments section.