I couldn't hold out any longer! Here is my starting pic from June 2011, and my pic from my last relaxer, Dec 2011. My hair was fresh from a wrap in my Dec pic so excuse how its curved on one side and straight on the other...you guys know how wraps go sometimes :S
From shoulder length to APL in 6 months! :D
I'm so happy that I was able to retain so much length! During those 6 months I had one big trim at the start of my HHJ in June and I dusted twice. I have noticed that my ends have been looking a little unhappy lately so when I get back from my vacay I will be mostly protective styling until winter is over. I have learned SO much about black hair care this year and I just wanted to mention the top 5 things i think contributed to my results.
1) Protecting my hair at night
I cannot get over how much of an immediate difference this made to my hair. I have religiously slept with my satin scarf since I began this hair journey and my hair has been retaining moisture like crazy. I had no idea just how much damage cotton pillowcases were doing. I now have fewer tangles and rough ends.
2) Deep Conditioning/Hot Oil Treatments
While I knew these were good for my hair I had no idea that doing them more often would make a difference in my hair's health. Pre-HHJ I deep conditioned every other week (sometimes less) and thought that was enough. For the last 6 mths I dc'ed every time i washed, which worked out to be every 5-7 days. my hair has definitely benefited from this and I very rarely have to moisturize between washes :)
3) Relaxer Stretching
I'm not gonna front, I was VERY hesitant about this as I had been told all my life that if I waited too long to get a relaxer I would end up with breakage. Thanks to the tips I got from Hairlista I was able to successfully stretch for 12 weeks with relatively no breakage. I did have a little breakage on my last stretch before my Oct relaxer, but that was mostly due to my under-processed hair. Now that I somewhat corrected that, I will be back to 10-12 week stretches. Stretching is what I think keeps my hair at its regular thickness level despite its increasing length. Plus I love that lead up to the relaxer day, its so climactic when you finally relax and seemingly get inches of progress in a day.
Until I found out about that .5 inch per mth average for hair growth I thought that my hair was growing as fast as it could. After my October relaxer I realized my growth rate was below .5 inches a mth and decided to see if I could change that. I upped my water intake and started taking vitamins and my hair definitely got an inch of growth over the last 6 weeks, which is good news for me!
5) No direct heat
The best thing I did for my hair was to put down the blowdryer and the flat iron and reacquaint myself with rollersetting. My hair has fewer split ends and no longer feels brittle and dry. I'm sure that this also contributed to my hair's increased ability to retain moisture.
So in a nutshell, that's what brought me to APL, with a special shout out to protective styling as well. There are definitely a few things I am going to change in my regimen as I move forward, such as getting my hair more protein. I'll address all that in my next post, and for now, I'm just happy I got this far.