Exibit A. My "first" full head of natural hair- 2004:
So I started over at the new growth:
Ya'll know it continued to grow and I recently cut it again into a short style. But I would say I have now at least heard about every natural hair anything at least once and tried almost everything I thought might work at least twice lol.
In all this time I'd say the biggest enemies to my hair have been dryness and the related split ends and knots, and then rough handling, and the related breakage and knots. By knot I mean fairy knot, or single strand knot. I get a lot of those, and I cut them out when they begin to bother me.
Unfortunately for my hair, I choose lifestyle and looks over the health and length of my hair more often than not, and in cutting my hair this most recent time, I have come to terms with that. I'd much rather my hair be a slave to my lifestyle, than have my lifestyle be a slave to my hair. Been there, done that with the relaxers and straight hair. I don't want to spend hours detangling and deep conditioning and steaming, and twisting and roller setting etc, every week! And I never want to have to avoid water again! lol. Length retention is going to be a bit slower for me under these conditions, and I will need more trims and much more gentle detangling processes if I continue to do wash and goes or shingle sets. These styles, when they grow longer, brush up against my shoulders and shirt and I also have to detangle more often to prevent some of the knots that form. All in all, because of my tendencies, the longer it gets the less healthy my ends are and the more protective styling I need to do to keep them. Bagh.
So anyway, today me and my homegirl were talking after we watched a new natural describe and demonstrate her detangling process on Youtube. That conversation prompted this post. It seemed to us that she was doing it all wrong, and we had previously noted that her hair seemed to be riddled with knotted looking ends. "Ah ha!" we said, "I bet this is why!" I don't know for sure that her hair was breaking off, or tangling exorbitantly because of her process, so I can't say she was doing it wrong. BUT I can say that there are other techniques that I would chose for her. I don't like to sell myself as a guru or give specific advice for hair different than mine yet I do encourage learning the basic techniques, their benefits and some trial and error to learn about each unique variety of hair.
This girl likes to wear wash and go hair like I do. When you wash and
(Product helps to define and separate it some, coat it, keep it moist, keep it from velcroing to itself and other things, lol. But I think that product is more a solution for the dryness that causes additional weakness).
The advice I would give, therefore, based on my own wash and go experience would be to detangle at least every 4 days when wearing wash and goes. I think removing the shed hair is important, releasing any knots and mats becoming more urgent as the days pass. I think the tools and products used are also very important parts of the process. The combination of these things depends greatly on the length and type of hair. I personally HATE detangling with the denman brush. I feel like it pulls my hair and causes additional tangles to form during the styling process that make me have to manipulate my hair too much. But that's just ME! ta da.
There are many many processes that work for different people for different reasons. There is dry detangling, wet only detangling, detangling in sections, with fingers, brushes, tangle teasers (next for me!) and all sorts of combs. And then there is technique. ENDS to root any which way! Product provides slip to avoid the velcro and matting effects. Conditioners, Olive oil, coconut oil and aloe vera are popular detangling products. There are all sorts of concepts that can be applied to help naturals achieve length, health, time savings- whatever you want to get down for yourself.
I introduce a few online resources I found particularly informative and encourage everyone to do research and find more! Try more! I think that we should try more than one thing, and adjust and adapt as needed.