Transitioner & Natural Hair Mistakes: My Top 3 Fail Moments

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Natural hair bloggers make mistakes.

Some folks don’t realize that fact, and others refuse to acknowledge it. We have bad hair days. Sometimes we make bad product decisions. We may flip-flop on how we feel about certain products, styles, and practices. Your favorite bloggers, vloggers, and social media personalities are all people, just like you — fallible and prone to err.

Here is an ode to some transitioning and natural hair mistakes I’ve made on my healthy hair journey:

 

1. Oat Flour

If you google “how to thicken hair” or “natural ways to thicken hair”, I am willing to bet that you will come across websites and blog posts touting that the lipids and proteins in oat flour will bind to your hair and help thicken and strengthen it. So me, in all my gullible natural-ness, ran out to Sprouts Farmer’s Market and bought a big ol’ bag of Bob’s Red Mill. According to the interwebs, I was supposed to mix it into my conditioner (terrible idea), or into the oils that I was going to put in my hair for a pre-poo or massage (even more terrible idea). Despite the fact that the oil was incredibly messy, and the conditioner always left particulate oat matter in my hair, I was doggedly determined to make it work. I wanted thick and unruly curls, and if messy food was the way to go, I was going to grin and bear it.

Fortunately, after about 2 months, I got my bearings and got my hands on some solid science that helped me realize what I was doing was pointless. Turns out, that in order for proteins to work at strengthening and “plumping” the hair, they have to be hydrolyzed (made smaller) first. Imagine that. Thanks to Jc of The Natural Haven, I stopped slathering oats and other foodstuffs on my hair, and now opt for products with hydrolyzed proteins high on the ingredient list for a boost.

 

2. Non BAQ Henna

Similar to my Oat Flour Fiasco, I discovered henna online in my quest to thicken my struggling tresses. There is plenty of science and anecdotal evidence to prove that henna does thicken the hair by binding to it, so much to my relief, I wasn’t totally off base. So where was I dead wrong? When I allowed my impatient nature to get the best of me. I couldn’t possibly fathom waiting for some Body Art Quality henna to arrive at my doorstep, so I did what any fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants naturalista would do: I drove to Whole Foods (and in later months, Sprouts) to purchase Light Mountain Henna for about $7 a box. Now, Light Mountain is 100% henna…it’s just not Body Art Quality. For those of you that don’t dabble in the funny-smelling green stuff, it means that the consistency of Light Mountain henna was almost like a jar of Italian seasoning, or dry rub for a slab of ribs. Noticeably large granules, twigs, the whole nine yards.

Needless to say, it was a pain to mix, apply, and IMPOSSIBLE to get out. Non-BAQ henna doesn’t turn into a smooth pudding, it yields runny clumps when mixed. Because the water, conditioner, oils, and henna don’t come together right, it doesn’t go in the hair right. Many nights I found orange water pouring down the sides of my head and the back of my neck, while dried clumps of bramble tangled into my transitioning hair. I wasted BOTTLES of conditioner, just trying to work the twigs and granules out of my hair. Fortunate for me, after about 4 of these nightmare henna sessions, I smartened up and started ordering Jamila brand online. To quell my impatience, I order 3-4 boxes at a time. Every step of the way is easy and smooth. The sift is super fine, and I can tell the difference. Every time I mix up a batch of Jamila, I remember my Light Mountain days and wonder, what the heck was I thinking?!?!?

 

3. Not Testing Mixes

Have you ever been so excited about a new product, that you just slapped it in your hair, and didn’t stop to think what it may look like intermixing with your leave-in, or even a few hours later? Yeah, me neither. I’m kidding — this is one of those lessons that I have to continue to re-learn….almost every time I grab a new product. Lately, my inner PJ has been acting up (if you follow me on Instagram, then you know). At one point, I was really good about focusing on my staples and DIY products. But then 2013 hit, and there are natural products GALORE to choose from…and I just can’t help myself. I’ve been picking up conditioners, leave-ins, and styling jellies galore — and paying a dear price for it.

When I first began my healthy hair journey, my biggest fail moment came at the hands of EcoStyler Gel. I was so excited to use it, because every naturalista I followed at the time spoke highly of it. Generally speaking, EcoStyler isn’t a bad product for a gel, by any means. But what I learned was that it doesn’t play nice with others, especially leave-ins and conditioners. Clumpy white ball city. From that point on, I tried to do my best to mix my random jellies and leave-ins on the back of my hand to see how they go together. But sometimes, my excitement gets the best of me…and I end up washing my hair all over again. Even just yesterday, I got besides myself with joy about trying a twist-out with a product I will be reviewing soon. I forgot about the part of the process where I spot test a small section of my hair, and just spread it everywhere. As a result, 15 minutes later my hair was dry and trifilin’. I had to wash my hair two times (with shampoo!) after that, just to get the gunk out.

Just to Recap:

I hope this helps you all avoid some of the complete fail moves I’ve made along my healthy hair journey. Remember:

  • Some foods are great for your hair, and others are more of a hassle than helpful. Check the science before you chuck your groceries onto your head.
  • All henna ain’t good henna. Regardless of what brand you go with, make sure it’s 100% pure and body art quality.
  • Test your products before you use them. Either mix them on the back of your hand, or spot test a small discrete patch of hair.

Have you had any natural hair fail moments? Share!

For more from Christina check out her blog, The Mane Objective. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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Christina Patrice

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

 
  • Tisha

    I feel bad for laughing at the author’s misfortune.I’ve never done anything crazy for my hair (I’ve never even tried henna or bentonite clay…I know, I know). But since I have acne,I can relate to looking for crazy solutions on the net…that was until I found black soap.

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  • LAURA

    It is really generous of you to share this information with us, and also take the time to explain why these products do not work.
    Thank you.

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  • http://naturalglo.tumblr.com Gloria

    I had the exact same experience with henna!!!! I hate to buy hair products online, and so I searched everywhere locally for BAQ henna. I couldn’t find any, though, so I figured I would just stop by my local Whole Foods and buy some of their henna (it only costs $5 a box here). WORST. IDEA. EVER. It took weeks for me to get the little twigs out of my hair, and the stain wasn’t that good at all. My greys turned into a nasty yellow color. I was still determined to henna, though, so I tried Lush Caca Noir (which has henna and indigo and is supposed to make your hair blue/black). While it made my hair feel amazing because of the butters and oils in their recipe, I had the same issue with the twigs…and the blue/black stain lasted approximately 4 days. Both of these experiences left me totally ready to give up henna.

    I started using BAQ Jamila henna last September, and all I can say is that I have no idea why it took me so long to order it! It’s easy to mix, apply, and rinse out. I never find twigs in my hair because there are no twigs in the henna. The stain is gorgeous! All of my greys are a pretty red color, and the rest of my hair has a reddish tint in the sunlight. My hair is also always shiny and healthy after a henna application. BAQ henna is the only way to go. :)

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  • cocoberrie

    *sigh* If you ever need a poster child for natural hair disasters, I would gladly volunteer. I’ve had my share of natural hair fail moments. Somehow I got the “bright” idea to mix amla with my conditioner. Not the regular amla powder but I bought dried amla fruit and tried to grind it myself. Well I didn’t grind it fine enough and added to my conditioner anyways. I ended up with chunks of amla fruit in my hair! Took forever to wash those chunks out! Another fail? Clogging the bathtub while rinsing my henna mix out. Looked like someone took a dump in my tub. I use the laundry sink now, lol. I think that’s it…for now, lol :)

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  • Tabatha

    Those are good lessons. I’m a product junky right now trying to find products that will keep my hair managable since i’m in transition right now. Not all of them have been successful.

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  • http://www.pinklilliesandbg.com Bijee

    I never thought t try mixing the products in my hand before in my hair. Luckily, I haven’t really had any episodes yet so that advice was right on time. I will be making note of it in the notes to self files.

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    • http://zejhrnluikf.com Jetsin

      Your answer lifts the inienltgelce of the debate.

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  • shelikes

    well i am a natural oils person…except palm oil…bad mistake. i love the color of the oil and figured well good strong color meant lots of vitamin a and e etc. this was years ago, but i still have stains on my bathroom counter that WILL NOT COME OUT and it took me 2 days to wash it out of my hair. what could have possessed me to put that stuff in my hair.

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    • Vanessa

      Lol. I made the same mistake. Red palm oil- while it did make my locks feel soft, the amount of shampooing and scrubbing made it very bad for my hair, even though I used less thsn a teaspoon in my mix. I lost hair from all the washing out, two towels and several blouses from just one application.

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  • Rosie

    My worst fail was an attempt at a fresh aloe wash n go a la Lenny Kravitz. He made it look so simple and sexy. I ended up with tons of aloe pulp stuck in my hair for days. It was terrible. It turned white when it dried. I looked like I had been rolling around in the dryer lint catcher or something.

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    • True2u

      *CRIES* Couldn’t I have found ur comment before messing with fresh aloe? Took me hours just to get it out!!! Then made another mistake of using aloe vera gel and Shea butter, now I have to rock a wig tomorrow. I’m flaking like no other. :( Sometimes I think my hair HATES ME. Been natural for 3 years and I can LITERALLY count of one hand, how much style was a success.

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      • J

        Wash n go fail for me when I decided to mix my old Herbal Essence which was running out and a brand mew bottle with a different formulation.My hair had white residue when it dried and even my husband said I should rewash my hair! LOL

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        • J

          *new

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