Shrinkage can be your best friend or worst enemy. If you are struggling to retain length as a natural, shrinkage could be the problem. I used to love the big fros that I’d get after humidity shrunk up my twistout. However, I didn’t like the extra knots and tangles that came along with it. One year I decided to wear my hair in stretched styles to see if that helped me retain more length, since I wasn't retaining it when I was wearing my shrunken fros. Overall, stretching and protective styling helped me get over my length plateau and made my wash days so much easier.
WHAT IS STRETCHING?
Stretching is the act of elongating your hair with various techniques. It lets you maximize your hair’s length without the use of a flat iron. Stretching your natural hair is essentially the same as pulling a slinky a part- the coil is still there, just not so eager to bounce back immediately.
Stretching has many benefits that are important for those looking to retain length:
HOW CAN I STRETCH MY HAIR?
There are many ways to stretch your hair without heat:
5. Roller Sets: you can rollerset your natural hair just like relaxed hair. Rollersetting you natural hair will produce a blowout look without the heat damage.
6. Super stretch: you can combine any two method to get the ultimate stretch. I have two favorites:
Thanks for reading! Natural hair can be easy. Detangling doesn’t have to be a war. All you need is knowledge. Know someone that is struggling manage their natural hair? Share this with them!
WHAT ARE THEY?
Silk Amino Acids (A.K.A SAA's or Liquid Silk) are a staple additive in many of Terrene Fusions’ hair products. They are derived from one of the softest fabrics in the world- silk. The amino acids are extracted from proteins in the silk worms’ cocoon. These proteins are extracted after the silkworm has completed metamorphosis (which is when the worm turns into a moth and leaves its cocoon). This keeps the worms/moths alive while we get the benefits of the silk proteins from their cocoons.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
The low molecular weight of silk amino acids allows them to easily penetrate the outer layers of our hair. These amino acids bind to damaged sections of our hair’s cuticle and form a protective layer. It easily binds to our hair’s cuticle so effortlessly because our hair is already made of amino acids. How would you retouch a wall with chipped paint? Paint over the chipped spots with the same, or a similar paint color. Then you’re left with a wall that looks crisp and new. In a way, that’s what silk aminos do for your hair. We are left with hair that is softer, less frizzy, easier to style and noticeably shinier with continued use. These benefits are why silk amino acids are so popular in the ingredient lists ofproducts used for hair smoothing treatments, like silk presses. You’ll often find them in Terrene Fusions' shampoos, conditioners, leave in conditioners and hair creams.
WHEN TO USE
Silk amino acids are gentle proteins, so it’s safe to use products with them regularly. Just be cautious if you are protein sensitive; other stronger proteins may be in your products and cause a protein overload. It is especially beneficial to use silk amino acids if you are trying to increase your hair’s natural sheen. This is because the appearance of your hair is dependent on the health of your cuticle. Raised, damaged cuticles reflect less light, making the hair appear dull. Smooth, healthy cuticles reflect more light off of each hair strand, making your hair shinier overall.
Speaking of shine, the bends in curly hair also influence how much shine you have. The tighter the curl, the less shine because light has less flat spots to reflect off of. So, kinkier textures like mine get a sheen versus a glossy shine. Think of it like this: It's easier to see a consistent reflection in the ocean when the water is still. The more the water starts moving, the more waves it gets. This produces a less uniform reflection, like the one below. Your hair is the ocean in this scenario. That's how and why shine varies on different textures of hair.
especially recommend using products with silk amino acids if you are planning to flat iron your hair. I tried this for the first time two weeks ago and my hair was shinier than it’d ever been after flat ironing in the past. I used Terrene Fusions Olive & Aloe Clarifying Shampoo followed by Terrene Fusions Moisturizing Deep Conditioner. Both products contain silk amino acids. It’s important to use as little product as possible. when flat ironing your hair to avoid weighing your hair down. So after washing, I just followed up with a heat protectant and a homemade lightweight leave in containing water, aloe, and a few drops of grapeseed oil. My hair was super soft, shiny and moisturized after flat ironing with a heat setting of 430°.
PRODUCTS CONTAINING SILK AMINO ACIDS
1. Replenishing Deep Conditioner
2. Moisturizing Deep Conditioner
3. Olive & Aloe Clarifying Shampoo
4. Mango Shea Cocoa Moisturizing Hair Lotion
5. Moisturizing Detangling Cream
If you are trying to tame constant frizz or increase your hair’s natural sheen, silk amino acids are definitely the way to go.
Know someone on a healthy hair journey? Spread the knowledge and share this with them!
Many women falsely believe that their hair cannot grow. This is most prevalent in the black community. I always wanted long hair as a child, but truly felt that I could only experience long hair by wearing a weave. I held that belief for the majority of my youth since all of the black women in my life had short relaxed hair, or hid their hair under weaves. This misconception shattered when a relative of mine revealed her long natural hair, which seemingly came out of nowhere.
She was a cousin who frequently wore sew-ins. When she revealed that her waist length kinky hair was all hers, I was appalled! If her genetics didn’t stop her from growing long hair, I knew I had a chance too! I asked her how she managed to grow such long hair and she told me all about protective styling. After doing my own research on the concept, I became obsessed with making sure I was in a protective style at all times.
WHAT ARE PROTECTIVE STYLES?
Protective styles are hairstyles that keep your hair off of your clothes and tucked away to protect it from the elements (like drying cold air/ heat) and help it retain moisture. There are plenty of protective styles: buns, roll & tuck updos, French braid/ flat twist updos, braid extensions, wig extensions, sew ins, etc. These styles essentially help you retain moisture and reduce friction that leads to unnecessary breakage. Chances for breakage increase the more you manipulate your hair. Combing, brushing, parting, inserting/removing bobby pins and general manipulation all increase friction on your strands. Friction causes split ends which lead to breakage. The less breakage you have, the more length you retain.
SHEDDING VS. BREAKAGE
There is a difference between shedding and breakage- shedding is a normal hair process that releases full strands of hair from your follicles. Shed hairs usually have a small white bulb at the top, which indicates that they’ve fallen directly from your follicles. Shedding is generally nothing to worry about. Breakage is the tiny pieces of hair that your see in your brush or bathroom as you are styling your hair. If you have enough broken strands, then you barely retain length, which makes it seem like your hair isn’t growing at all.
PROTECTIVE STYLING & LENGTH RETENTION
Eliminating unnecessary breakage is one of the main ways protective styles can help you retain length. Since your hair is tucked away in protective styles, the lack of daily manipulation eliminates the chances of you causing friction and breakage. Keeping your hair up and off of your shoulders stops the friction and dryness that is caused from your hair rubbing back and forth on your clothing. Most clothing is made of cotton, which easily sucks moisture out of your hair.
If you notice that your hair has been stuck at the same length for years, it has not stopped growing. It’s simply breaking off as quickly as it grows, making your hair stay at the same length.
RULES FOR SUCCESS
There are a few rules that you’ll want to follow to make sure you aren’t causing additional damage while wearing protective styles:
1. Avoid pulling to tightly around the hairline to avoid traction alopecia
2. Don’t set it and forget it- remember to moisturize your hair regularly. Otherwise, the dryness could lead to unnecessary breakage once you take down your style.
3. Remember to wash your scalp. A dirty, clogged scalp can hinder hair growth. For those who choose to wear extensions/sew-ins, there’s no need to worry! I’ve linked some hair washing tutorials here: How to Wash Your Hair While Wearing A Sew In & How to Wash Box Braids/ Senegalese Twists_
4. Detangle very gently when you take down your style. Rough manipulation can cause breakage which would defeat the purpose of wearing a protective style.
5. Limit heat usage
I credit protective styling for taking me from neck length relaxed hair to MBL natural hair in just a few years. If I had to pick my top 4 contributors to my personal length retention, they’d be:
1. Protective styling
3. Gentle detangling
4. Using natural products with slip to ease detangling and help increase moisture retention
What if you don’t want to wear your hair up every day? You don’t have to. However, it’s best to make sure your hair is protected more often than not. If you are dying to wear your hair out, designate 2-3 “free” days out of the week for you to do so. It’s much better than wearing your hair out every day. Just stick with it for a few months and you’ll see results. It really helps to take pictures of your length so you can marvel over your progress!
If you found this article helpful, feel free to share it with a friend who is trying to grow long natural hair.
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