The natural hair movement is with us and in full swing. Many black women these days are rediscovering their natural hair textures by stopping the use of chemical relaxers and this is a wonderful thing.
Even with all the enthusiasm for natural hair at the moment, each individual woman’s quest for long hair has not been diminished. Unfortunately for some they have found that going natural alone does not automatically equate to tangible length gains.
Gaining length with black hair requires a specific way of taking care of your hair (a regimen) that also involves the use of protective and low manipulation styling. Because of the nature of black hair, it does best when it is not constantly being handled, in other words, leave it alone!
I have in the past come across a few articles that suggest that most long haired natural ladies gained their lengths by avoiding hair extensions all together. This is completely untrue! You can certainly make length gains by wearing twists, braids or other such styles with just your own hair, you are also just as likely to make those gains wearing hair extensions.
In fact, a main factor to keeping a lot of natural hair ladies on track with their protective styling and their subsequent length was the use of regular weaves. Lets face it, not all of us have the unique ability to be able to go weeks on end without having hair to play in. Hair extensions fill that gap for women like us who enjoy having great looking hair on their head to style and wear, while keeping their own hair hidden and un-manipulated underneath.
Being natural while wearing hair extensions brings it’s own unique set of challenges. Here are four tips to help you navigate your way through them.
- Leave out the bare minimum of hair – There is little point wearing hair extensions as a protective style if you leave out lots of your own hair. Remember, the more hair you leave out, the more manipulation that hair will get which increases chances of breakage. You need very little hair to cover the tracks when installing the weave.
- Choose textures as close your own as possible – If you have kinky curly 3c, 4a or 4b textures that cannot be straightened effectively with the use of roller sets, wearing dead straight extensions and leaving out hair to blend is a mistake. Because of black hair’s tendency to revert in the presence of humidity you would have to flat iron your hair daily to keep your install looking seamless. Go for deep wave/kinky curly hair textures like our Spanish Town Curl that are easier to blend with your hair. If you absolute must wear straight extensions, invest in a good humidity blocking product that will mean that you only have to flat iron your leave out hair once a week.
- Keep the weave in for a maximum of 6 weeks at a time – Natural black hair has a tendency to matt easily which is why it’s the ideal hair texture for creating dreadlocks. Keeping your weave in for extended periods of time leads to serious matting, which will mean excessive breakage while detangling your hair after you take out the weave. Some of the matting can be so bad that only a pair of scissors can solve the problem. It would be heartbreaking to see all your extra growth lost to breakage.
- Avoid synthetic hair extensions – Synthetic hair extensions are more drying than natural hair extensions. This is because synthetic hair strips moisture from your own strands and does not have the same ability as human hair to hold on to moisturizing oils. Opt for good quality human hair extensions if you can or if you must wear synthetic hair, keep it in for as short a time as possible.