Give It A Rest: Sometimes It’s Best To Leave It Alone

People often inquire why they are beset with certain hair woes. Be it thinning edges, breakage, or a receding hair line, there seems to be a two-step process that individuals who are experiencing hair troubles go through. The first is wondering what’s wrong followed by doing everything they can to reverse or avert the continuance of the issue.

Although human inclination tells us that when there is a problem, we should do what we need to solve it, oftentimes, the “remedies” we turn to will do more harm than good. Recently, I spoke with a woman who, after years of tight extensions began to experience thinning in the crown area. In a quest to cover up her thinning crown, she began to pull her hair back into a ponytail and add a hairpiece. She wore this style for several months; often neglecting to cleanse her hair and scalp for fear that it would encourage more breakage. Not only did this make the balding crown worse, but her edges suffered severely.

Now, I am not a doctor and would not venture to offer a diagnosis to anyone. What I will offer is the possibility that her hair just needed a break from being tugged, pulled and tightly held in place for years and years on end.  She is not alone, as I speak with several people on a regular basis that are experiencing problems related to overuse of wigs, weaves and even chemical processes. Similar to how our muscles need rest so that we can avoid injury, our hair needs some let-up every now and then.

I know that returning to natural can be a learning curve and many times, women get frustrated and turn to natural protective styles (which I am a fan of), extensions, weaves, and wigs. As the ace número uno fan of the high bun, I also know how addictive a style can be when you feel it really suits your overall look well. These methods can be a plain old fun way to spice up our look. While these styles have their place, overuse can turn out to be disastrous for the hair because, no matter what the texture, hair can only take so much. Our hair, because it is largely exposed, already has the stress of pollutants and climate; the things we attempt to do to and/or with it, even with the best of intentions, can overstress our locks and leave us with strands that seem to rebel against us.

So what do I mean by “leave it alone?” Of course I am not suggesting to anyone that they abandon the grooming process altogether. Hair maintenance is important and (in my estimation) to do so would be the equivalent of not brushing one’s teeth or showering. What I am suggesting is that after a week or two of wearing a certain style, you let your hair take a breather. If you are wearing extensions, like braids, never braid too tightly. After they are taken out, wait at least two weeks before re-installation. In that two weeks, make sure hair is well-cleansed, conditioned and moisturized and avoid overly-involved styles or styles that place more tension on the scalp. If you like to bun or wear your hair in ponytails, switch the positioning often so that one spot does not get too much wear and (consequently) tear. If you like to protective style with twists or braids, variance and rest is equally important.

Until next week…

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