Road to Recovery

My journey with my hair begins in 2008 when I decided I wanted a wash and go style. I started doing some research about black hair and discovered all this information about the damage that relaxers do to your hair so I started considering the option of going natural. In April of 2008 I did my own big chop and then discovered a whole new world of the natural hair community online. I decided to buy the book ‘Going Natural’ by  Mireille de Long and learnt lots about the basic structure of hair, its needs and how to style and take care of it.


I started trying to keep a natural hair diary but didn’t like how I looked so I didn’t keep those pictures and didn’t keep my hair out — it was always woven or braided. One caution that I didn’t heed too well was about how delicate our hairlines are and how we need to be careful about tight braids cornrows and any other techniques, no matter how great looking they are.  So all these weaves, braids etc were taking their toll on my hairline and while I noticed that my hairline was thinning I didn’t pay much attention and would always cover up the areas with the weaves and at first,  my hairline  would grow back pretty quickly. So anyway fast forward to 2010 I discovered lace front wigs and thought they were the best invention ever. The first installation I had was done really well. The lady clearly knew what she was doing and took care to not get any of my hair caught in the netted area and the glue etc…. second installation different stylist wasn’t so great. The third time the stylist was not concerned about my hairline and we ended up having an argument about who was the stylist between me and him. I went to a different salon and they did the same improper installation multiple times and by this time I thought maybe I was being too fussy.  a friend of mine who had a severe case of alopecia gave me a warning about consistently doing the lace front wigs and another friend told me about her friend who lost her hairline from lace fronts so I decided to try going to another salon were the stylist was a bit more professional but she did the installation the same way. So I figured maybe I have no idea what a hairline is and I should just stop being so fussy and enjoy the good looks I could achieve using the lace front wigs.
In September of 2011 I did an invisible part which was absolutely beautiful but was extremely tight. About that time I went to see a hairdresser who was among the first people to bring attention to the fact that my hairline was gone and it was highly likely it would never grow again. When I took out the weave it was still so tight even after weeks of being in and by the time we were done taking it out I had a bald patch right at the front /centre of my head and my hairline was visibly gone.
Me, right after taking out the tight invisible shade weave

I decided to start wearing my hair out for a while but really didn’t like how it looked so I resorted to wearing a wig so that I wouldn’t have to braid or weave my hair to give my hairline a chance to recover but I didn’t think that was helping cause of the way wigs sit on your head around your hairline. I decided I had to start wearing my hair out and not weaving, braiding or ‘wigging it’. So I decided in January of 2012 to relax my hair as I was more comfortable wearing it out relaxed. I did do a couple of weaves earlier in the year but by the end of March 2012 I challenged myself to stay off weaves and wigs for 3 months straight. And I did. After the three months was up I put in a few weave tracks in the back for two weeks just to make my hair fuller  as it was quite thin but didn’t really like it. So I had my hair out again till end of August when I had to travel for medical attention. I decided to do a partial weave with Braids in the front while I was recovering (a 6 week period which nearly drove me crazy cause I never keep a weave in for more than 3 weeks). From March till October,  apart from the tracks and 6 week weave, I wore my hair out and went for weekly washes and one or two  treatments every month depending on the condition of m y hair. My hair really picked  up length during this time and was at collarbone length by early October 2012 but the ends were really thin and my hairline still left much to be desired.


Going to the salon became a depressant for me as I would always feel like my hair was not doing so well. 
My hair with really thin ends
After dealing with my health challenges my stylist proposed we cut off about 3 inches of hair and try and get it growing better. It was painful but I did it.
4 weeks after the Big Chop
 My hair has been picking up length like crazy I think I already have a little over half an inch in growth in the last one month and my goal is to get back to where it was before we cut it which is collarbone length (with more volume/thickness) over the next 3-6 months. (by Mid April  2013)
As for my hairline, it has taken almost 8 months but I do see a few hairs coming back on my hairline but it has been coming in real slow.
Hairline Growth – November 2012
I decided to search for more information on some hairline recovery and discovered two websites that have been inspiring me a lot. One run by a lady called Phro and the other called beauty365 which inspired me to take up a 2 month hairline challenge with castor oil. I am a few days into the challenge and look forward to bringing you an update at the end of the challenge period in mid January.  
I have fallen in love with Phro’s website it’s really basic and you see her results. She is Zimbabwean, so for those of us who dismiss American or British hair bloggers for being biracial or having Caucasian or Asian genes, we have no excuse….
The biggest thing about my road to hair recovery is that it’s been a learning experience. Even with good intentions you make lots of mistakes and so it’s better to be as informed as possible as you try new things out.
I had good intentions when going natural but ended up doing more damage to my hairline and crown and also to the general thickness of my hair because of the excessive pulling from the constant wrongly done braids and weaves.
Restoring damaged hair is an emotional, but character building journey. I have had days when I just felt like giving up and going back to weaves but when I see women with not much hair to attach a weave to, I remember that that is not a long term solution.
Some of the most helpful things for me have been:

Stylist/Salon

Having a stylist who understands hair and products and who understands my hair and is willing to listen and walk with me on this journey is really key. I am blessed to have a stylist who is knowledgeable and concerned about the overall health of my hair above making it just look good each time I walk out of the salon. In fact there are many days when I walk out not feeling so great but I remind myself that I go to the salon not just for styling but for treatment and just like when one goes to the hospital for treatment you may come out not feeling so great at first but treatment is a process. Restoring damaged hair is a process too.

Social Support

Having a support group both local and online is really important. One of my friends, Masuka, is committed to having healthy hair and from her I have learnt the power of knowledge, using the right products, appreciating yourself and persistence. I also have the online community. I subscribe to a newsletter that Chicorro, the author of ‘Grow it’ writes and it’s not just educational it’s also encouraging. Recently I received a timely word from her at a time after my most recent haircut when I was feeling like chopping all my hair off cause of several bad hair days. But her news letter had a word that kept me going:

‘For me, my hair represents something that I was told was a laughable impossibility. People look at me now and assume that my hair always was long and healthy. When I was growing it, there were many days when it looked bad. I can’t tell you how many people told me that my hair would never grow down my back. Yet, I ignored them, stepped out on faith and stuck to it.
Later, I transferred that same success, that same process to other parts of my life. I sought out dream jobs and got them. I turned failing projects into glowing successes. I stayed in and worked on relationships that most people would have abandoned. I’m no martyr. I have been rewarded for my efforts.

My hair journey has been a beacon in the storm of life for me. It has served as a model for me to use and refer back to when I want to attempt the difficult if not the impossible. Although I may think doing my thing with my hair is ridiculous at times, in the end, what I know is that it has been worth every drop of sweat and every tear. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there isn’t anything ridiculous about the effort, time and money I put in my hair. How about you? How are you feeling?’ 


Excerpted from Chicorro’s newsletter entitled, ‘Spending all this time, money and effort on hair is ridiculous’. You can subscribe here.
There are no quick fixes in life friends. We can’t make damage that we have caused over a decade disappear in a day but if we commit to persistent learning and trying we will get results. I am a firm believer that any goal that we give 100% of our heart, mind and effort to is achievable and so while I have had a lot of failures in the last four years of trying, I believe that I will get where I want to go with my hair. Right now I have embarked on three major challenges that I hope to get results from and keep you informed on.
  • My hairline challenge-a fuller hairline in the next 3-6 months
  • General back to healthy hair challenge, less breakage, dryness, less scalp issues and split ends etc
  • Collarbone length  in the next  3-4 months  
Watch this space!!!

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6 responses to “Road to Recovery

  1. Pingback: Road to Recovery – Part Two | ZedHair·

  2. Hi Aphro I think it certainly set me on the path to recovery. My hairline isn’t great yet but its getting there. Thanks for all the info

    Like

  3. Hi,

    Help! Can I find Jamaican Black Castor Oil in Lusaka? Can I use Yellow Castor Oil from the Pharmacy? I am fighting a thinning hairline due to tight weaves.

    Thanks

    Like

    • Castor oil is castor oil and has the same effects regardless of colour. Jamaican Black castor oil has ash added to it to get its color. But yellow Castor oil has the same benefits. Masuka likes to get here castor oil from the village.

      Like

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