Many black wom­en have been led to believe that retain­ing length in their hair is vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble. But with the right reg­i­men and knowl­edge, it doesn’t have to be. This week, four BGLH writ­ers will share sto­ries of how they went from TWA to back length. They rep­re­sent a diver­si­ty of hair tex­tures and life expe­ri­ences. We hope that you gain inspi­ra­tion and infor­ma­tion. Our third fea­ture is from Elle. Be sure to check out our first fea­ture from Ijeo­ma and our sec­ond fea­ture from Chin­we.

bigchop

I big chopped on Decem­ber 26, 2009. That pre­vi­ous sum­mer, I decid­ed to stop relax­ing my hair because it was so humid that my hair just wouldn’t stay straight. I was flat iron­ing up to three times a DAY and I knew that reg­i­men couldn’t be healthy for my hair. I need­ed a solu­tion that allowed my hair to work with the weath­er. I want­ed to ring in the New Year with com­plete­ly nat­u­ral hair (I pre­vi­ous­ly had a Mohawk with relaxed hair on top and nat­u­ral hair on the sides).

The first year, I was the biggest pro­duct junkie ever and joined pret­ty much any forum chal­lenge there was – a deep con­di­tion­ing chal­lenge, ayurvedic, hair growth shake (which con­tained raw eggs, flax seed pow­der, and wheat germ oil – and a TON of calo­ries), hen­na – you name it, I did it. May­be it was to keep myself busy because I pret­ty much wore my TWA all the time, and doing my hair only took a few min­utes. I didn’t mind play­ing in my hair and try­ing dif­fer­ent meth­ods. In fact, I real­ly enjoyed it! As I learned my hair, I also learned that although my hair is fair­ly coarse, it’s low poros­i­ty, so a lot of super heavy prod­ucts did NOT work for me at all. I used to think I need­ed the thick­est oil or but­ter, the heav­i­est gel, or the con­di­tion­er com­bined with the most but­ters. That was total­ly wrong. I learned that my hair LOVES water-based prod­ucts that con­tain aloe vera and lighter oils, like rice bran or jojoba, over heav­ier ones, like shea but­ter and cas­tor. I would say medi­um to light­weight is best for me, espe­cial­ly because I can­not stand build up! Addi­tion­al­ly, I real­ized I was using too much pro­tein (I was using a lot of prod­ucts with wheat pro­tein), so I light­ened up on that as well. I also min­i­mized my glyc­er­in use, because my hair gets brat­ty with dew points and I don’t have time to mon­i­tor them dai­ly.

After I start­ed focus­ing more on poros­i­ty, my reg­i­men quick­ly sim­pli­fied and I main­ly focused a cleans­ing my hair at least once a week, and get­ting my wash and go to last 3 or 4 days, then either rinsing/cowashing or wear­ing it in a bun for a few more days so I didn’t have to restyle. I main­ly use gels for my wash and go because I find they help pre­vent tan­gles because of the hold, but as my hair has got­ten longer I have to make sure it’s not too flat. I hate wet cat hair. I nev­er got into twist outs and braid outs – I thought they took too long and the style wasn’t guar­an­teed. But as soon as I could make a bun, I was SO hap­py. I freak­in’ love buns – they’re just so easy and you can make them look very con­ser­v­a­tive or hip, depend­ing on where you posi­tion them and how big they are.

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I’ve kept the same reg­i­men for probably…three years or so. It just works for me. So unless some­thing breaks, I’m not fix­ing it. Five years lat­er, I’m still not at my goal- which is curly bra strap length dry and I may nev­er achieve that due to shrink­age! But I’ve cer­tain­ly learned to love my hair for what it is and how it wants to be. I real­ized that when you kind of let your hair do its own thing, it thrives. Don’t fight your hair and it will be nice to you.

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Can you relate? Where are you in your hair jour­ney?

 

Elle

Elle is the edi­tor and cre­ative direc­tor of the YouTube chan­nel and blog, Quest for the Per­fect Curl at www.questfortheperfectcurl.com. Her chan­nel focus­es on nat­u­ral hair, beau­ty, and fit­ness. She loves prod­ucts that smell like dessert, yoga, and glit­ter. Fol­low her @qftpc.

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15 Comments on "How I Went from TWA to Back Length, Part 3; Elle’s Story"

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Nigeria Riggins

I heart Elle.

Robinson Kyeshia

You prob­a­bly need to do more low main­te­nance styles
… your hair cant han­dle all the wear and tear… most like­ly that or keep­ing it mois­tur­ized are the two biggest cul­prits that pre­vent length reten­tion

Robinson Kyeshia

You prob­a­bly need to do more low main­te­nace… your hair cant han­dle all the wear and tear… most like­ly that or keep­ing it mois­tur­ized are the two biggest cul­prits to length reten­tion

bearbear
I’ve been nat­u­ral for longer than most peo­ple I know (about 15 — 16 years), not because it was the thing to do but I just found that I liked the way my hair looked when I’d let the perm grow out for what­ev­er rea­son, and I just didn’t need it. All this time and I’m stuck at shoul­der length! I’ve seen wom­en grow full heads of hair 2–3 times and mine just won’t. I need help, I’m a pro­duct whore and not all that patient with my hair. How do I know what kind of poros­i­ty it has??? I’ll… Read more »
Sarah

My boo! ????

Scmami

Elle… I’ve been fol­low­ing you since forever! I can’t believe Izzy has got­ten so long… And BIG! Keep up the awe­some blog­ging and thanks for the tips over the years!

Adía

My ques­tion is how do you know when your wash and go is no longer work­ing. Curl def­i­n­i­tion is no longer there? What if you nev­er had def­i­n­i­tion to begin with

Jacky

Nice post and I love your hair Elle!

I espe­cial­ly loved the last lines: “…when you kind of let your hair do its own thing, it thrives. Don’t fight your hair and it will be nice to you.”

Jas

After years of hear­ing how Black wom­en can’t grow long hair unless they are mixed with some­thing it’s refresh­ing to see us putting an end to that igno­rance. I always knew it was a lie but peo­ple real­ly believed it and didn’t mind spread­ing that non­sense. Hair will grow if you take care of it.

Do what­ev­er works for you and your hair has always been my mot­to. Any­hoo, great arti­cle and I enjoy read­ing Elle’s posts and watch­ing her videos because she doesn’t over­com­pli­cate the process when it comes to styling her hair. Less is more.

Mary
Hi, Elle. After near­ly five years of fol­low­ing a reg­i­men that used pro­tec­tive styles 95% of the time, I knew I need­ed to make a styling tran­si­tion. I was not a con­cen­trat­ed pro­tec­tive styler before I began wear­ing my nat­u­ral tex­ture. And, I wasn’t grow­ing my hair long to always wear pro­tec­tive styles to pre­serve the length. Then I came upon a BGLH arti­cle about you and retain­ing length with­out pro­tec­tive styling. I didn’t start right then. But, I was deter­mined that I would mas­ter the WnG. You were my inspi­ra­tion. I sub­scribed to your YT chan­nel and enjoy the… Read more »
Tabatha
I’m still at the pro­duct stage. I will be year 2 this June, so I’m try­ing dif­fer­ent prod­ucts. I’ve already ruled out ALL Shea Mois­ture prod­ucts ( No bueno in my hair), Camille Rose, AS I AM Jessie Curls, A pro­duct that I got from Sprouts ( I can’t remem­ber the name, and Gar­nier (the orange bot­tle) does well. I’m going to try 2 more prod­ucts and then I’m nar­row­ing it down to like may­be 2 prod­ucts to switch between. When my hair is dry and flat ironed it’s a lit­tle touch past shoul­der well the back is ( I… Read more »
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