This month is my two-year anniversary since my accidental Big Chop. I was so excited to try this hair stylist that my white girlfriends were so pumped about. ROOKIE MISTAKE. A blind man can see that my hair doesn’t look anything like my white friends. Salisha, TAKE A NAP, GIRL. The stylist had a great Instagram presence. I loved what I saw, so I signed up. Why it never dawned on me that none of those girls looked like me, is such a ‘GIRL, BYE’ to myself.
Long story short: She cut off all my hair.
Not only did she cut off all my hair, but she didn’t define my curls. She frizzed it out and let me roam free. I was shocked that she didn’t care that someone would leave her salon looking the way she was about to release me out in the wild. I had never felt uglier. And I couldn’t throw it back in a ponytail because it was too short. I was stuck.
At that point, I was determined to grow my hair out. I believe that when you channel your focus on any area, it will increase. That holds true for petty drama at work or noticing your own flaws. When it’s all you think about, it just seems to grow! The good news is, this also holds true for #Goals. When I set a goal and devote time to obsess over it, I see changes. In a good way!
Here are 9 ways that helped me transform my CHOP into a full headed MOP.
1. NO HEAT. I know, sister. It was tough for me too. But if you put down the hot comb for 5 seconds and hear me out, it’s worth it. I used to flat iron my hair every other week. (Yes, you read that right.) FRYING my hair. It looked bomb. But as soon as I wanted to wear my curls, I looked crazy. Just a whole bunch of straight ends that were as dead as those fishsticks I was hoarding at the beginning of the pandemic (they taste good though). I did not like the way I looked when I started transitioning. I started wearing SO many wigs (which was honestly really fun). Slowly but surely, I let my own hair see the world little by little. On my own time.
2. BIOTIN SUPPLEMENTS. I took an allergy test sometime in the last year or so. And my results came back with a Biotin deficiency. I was like uh oh, hold up! Alopecia runs in my family. So to already know that background information and now to see these results helped me to wake up real quick and get on it. I ran down to the store and got me some Women’s gummies and called it a day. I took two a day for many months. But beware, hair started growing EVERYWHERE. I absolutely have a beard and my electrologist can’t see me until Coronavirus goes away. Textbook NIGHTMARE. Also, too much Biotin can cause Acne, and so with wearing a mask all the time, my dermatologist has been working overtime with me. I recently dumped the Biotin supplements… but if you want hair—IT WORKS.
3. SCALP MASSAGE. It feels so good. But takes a lot of time. I’m not talking about scratching your head for 5 seconds. I’m telling you to put on a good ole Netflix show, set the Cheeto puffs aside for one episode, and with your fingertips (not your nails) massage your scalp all over for 20-30 minutes. It gets the blood flowing where the hair grows out of your scalp. Make time for it every day. Bonus benefit: MAJOR stress reliever.
4. DEEP CONDITION. My hair was so thirsty all the time. And then one day I asked myself: What if when it’s looking ashy, I moisturize it? I know that sounds so basic. Because it is. I didn’t know and nobody told me! About every other week, I put a mirror on the table, grab my spray bottle, and my favorite Shea Moisture deep conditioner and go section by section, drenching my curls in water, detangling the section, and then coating each strand with conditioner. Which usually leads me to…
5. PROTECTIVE STYLES. I twist up each moisturized and detangled section. If it’s a deep conditioner, I’ll rinse it later that night (or the next day!). And if it’s a regular leave in conditioner, I will keep it in, let my twists dry fully for about a whole day. And then the result is a twist out that lasts me 3 solid days. Day 4 and 5, I’ve got BIG, frizzy hair! Sometimes that’s my jam. Sometimes it’s not. When it’s out of control, I sit right back down with my spray bottle, some product, and detangle each section again.
This is my routine every 3-5 days. (I get a lot more length retention doing a twist out than when I do a regular wash n go.) The bonus of a twist out protective style for my fellow performers is that it’s a solid wig prep. I would twist it up 8 times a week on Broadway. And it can take me anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. But I recommend taking your time and to…
6. TREAT YOUR HAIR LIKE IT’S A SWEATER FROM SAKS. I don’t know about you, but I grew up fighting with my hair. Doing my hair was a CHORE. But now, I treat it like a privilege. One of my best friends, Chantea McIntyre said, ‘Salish, each hair is important.” I have watched her with my own eyes, take 5 minutes to carefully get a scrunchy out of her hair, and then observe the scrunchy to find that no hairs were lost. Wait wait WHAT? YES. I was dumbfounded. I have ALWAYS yanked scrunchies out of my head in a hurry. And when it got stuck, I would just pull it out of frustration, and there would be 50 hairs on my scrunchy. LADIES, THIS IS A NO NO. Vernon Francois has said in his youtubes to stop rushing when doing your hair. ENJOY doing your hair. Put some music on, and take your time. If you have to use a brush, start from the bottom, drench it in water and conditioner, and slowly and calmly work your way up to the root. Otherwise, separate your tangles with your fingers and handle it so delicately, like it’s the most expensive sweater you’ve ever purchased.
7. WRAP IT UP. I have silk-lined headwraps, pillow cases, and baseball caps. And I can visibly see and feel a difference when I use them versus my not-silk-lined products. It’s easier on your edges, keeps your hair soft, locks in moisture, and reduces friction and frizz. I JUST stumbled upon a company called ANEWCROWN. What I love about their hair wraps is that they’re silk lined and they look like the African wraps I use in the daytime when I’m hiding my protective style. I’ve completely upped my night time game, and now I go to bed looking like a straight up QUEEN. The scarf I’ve used for the last twenty years is officially in retirement.
8. DRINK WATER AND EAT YOUR VEGGIES. Lame, right? But I have to add it because it’s totally a thing. It’s so basic, yet sometimes we have to consciously add this into our diet or else it won’t happen. In fact, add sleep on the list as well. I don’t play games when it comes to my 8 hours of sleep. These three things are so transformative, that it would take many books to display all the benefits of this combination. Your skin will feel it. your body will feel it. Your hair will feel it. You get the point. But if you really want to see the benefits, you have to…
9. BE CONSISTENT. Listen. You can deep condition your hair once a year, or massage your scalp every now and then. You can have some broccoli on Tuesday and call it a day on the veggies front for the week. But if you focus your energy on actively growing your hair, you can pick a couple of things from this list and see real results if you stay consistent. It’s the little habits that we do on a regular basis that make the most impact on our lives. And with that I will add that being patient, which does not come naturally for me, is equally as important. One day, you’ll wake up and be like, when did THIS happen? When did I get hair?! It’s like taking care of a plant.
*Bonus: I do not do it religiously, but every now and then I will wash my hair in rice water for a month. You can buy any type of rice, use a 1:1 ratio and of rice and water and put it in a bowl. Let it sit for a day. Separate the water from the rice and either spray bottle it all over your hair or dip your head in a bowl. It’s totally a hassle. BUT…. My hair is usually really soft after. I’m not officially adding it to the list because it’s something I’m never consistent with. But I think there might be something to it. It could be worth a youtube rabbit hole for if you’re interested….
I hope you found joy reading through this list. One thing I will say, it’s one thing to know what to do, it’s another thing to do it. When I don’t follow my own rules, my hair becomes stagnant. Like it plateaus until I realize…um…my hair has been the same length for a jillion years. Why? Oh, yeah. Because I forgot to take care of it. If you try some out, take photos so you can track your progress! Let me know how it goes. Hit me in my DMs on Instagram (@salishathomas or my secret Curly Girl account @curlygirl24601) and tell me about your process! I would love to hear about it! Good luck, sis!