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My 4c Natural Hair Setback
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Growth & Retention

My 4c Natural Hair Setback

Every naturalista knows how devastating a setback can be.  Some people view it as “just hair” but for many, especially type 4c naturals, it means so much more.  The effort required to ensure that our 4c hair stays healthy and can retain length is often arduous.  As a result, a 4c natural hair setback can be devastating.

7 Year Length Check

Throughout my hair journey, I have been very cautious about how I care for my 4c hair.  I often do a lot of research before trying out and adopting a new technique, tool, or product.  For this reason, I believe that I have been able to avoid having setbacks.  That is, until now.

Each year, for the anniversary of my big chop, I take progress pictures so that I can compare my hair’s growth from one year to the next.  In doing so, I not only am able to celebrate the progress that I have made over the past twelve months, but I am motivated to maintain a high standard of care of my hair.

My 4c Natural Hair Setback

In October 2018, to celebrate 7 years of growth I did the same thing as I’ve done in previous years and took a progress picture to memorialize my accomplishments.  However, what I noticed shocked then disappointed me.  Not only did I not reach my annual milestone, I had in fact lost some of my overall length!  How?! 

I don’t remember trying any new products or my hair reacting badly to any products that I was using, especially none that would cause a setback. Heat damage couldn’t have been the cause since I haven’t used heat to straighten or style my hair in years.  I did undergo postpartum shedding, however, my setback occurred after my shedding had ended.

My Theory About My Natural Hair Setback

I suspect that a lack of consistency in my regimen created the setback to my natural 4c hair.  Over the years, I have refined the method that I use for taking care of my hair.  However, last year I fell prey to boredom and complacency in terms of manipulating and moisturizing my hair.

Over Manipulation

Last year, I added some variety to my hairstyles.  That meant that I handled and manipulated my hair a lot more than I had in the past.  I was trying different styles and wearing my hair loose and for longer periods.  My hair 4c hair tangles very easily and as a result, I often have to use my scissors as part of the detangling process.

Over Cleansing

In addition, I started shampooing my hair more and cleansing with a clay wash less.  Even though my shampoo is super gentle, my hair has always responded well to regular clay washes and even the less frequent water rinses.  I usually save my shampoo washes for days when I am doing a protein treatment, however, I found myself defaulting to shampooing my hair instead of taking the time to make a clay mix.

Under Moisturizing

Finally, I got complacent with my moisturizing regimen.  Over the years, my porosity has improved.  My hair is now normal porosity and I’m able to retain moisture levels in my hair longer, sometimes for days at a time.  For this reason, I started slacking on moisturizing my hair daily.  Even though my hair may have felt moist, I knew better than to neglect giving it a bit more moisture each day.  Neglecting my moisture levels could have easily resulted in the ends of my hair becoming brittle.

As a result, I believe that the combination of these changes in my regimen led to my hair to break without me realizing it. 

Going Forward

In 2019, I am going to take great effort to make sure that I don’t fall into the same situation again.  I will go back to protective styling almost exclusively, to shampooing only on days when I do my protein treatments, and to moisturizing my hair daily.

Have you ever suffered a setback?  If so, how did you deal with it?

(2) Comments

  1. Yes, I have suffered setbacks due to coloring and overmanipulating my hair. I cut my hair this year to start fresh but am still seeing breakage. I have to get to the root of this.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your setback. Hair colouring can be very tricky. Protein treatments are important if you are colouring your hair and if you are lifting colour, it’s best not to lighten your hair many shades in one go. I hope that you find a way to help your hair to recover, soon.

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