Thursday, January 16, 2014

thickening, yet thinning? (officially a setback)

Posted by Yahya at 10:45 PM
I noticed my hair ends were starting to look straggly during my recent stretch, but I wasn't sure because I wasn't wearing my hair straightened. Sometimes your ends can just look thinner when you have a lot of new growth. I aligned a picture I just took with one from half a year ago and one from right after my first jhs at Hair's Talent, and I noticed my ends have been gradually thinning. My hair seems to be thickening from the top, but thinning from the ends. It went from blunt to a u/v-shape. In the picture below from after my Hair IB touch-up (I always wear a robe at home...), my hair is measuring 27 inches. But when I trimmed off the straggly ends it was reaching 24 inches. Huh? When I trimmed off thin ends, it had always been to 25-26 inches. How'd I lose an inch of thickness? I thought about all the possible culprits. 

(I really, really, don't like stringy ends. 
Though I trimmed right after, it's embarrassing.)

  • I had overcame a pretty bad protein overload a while back from using henna and Aphogee 2 Step for the first time, in the same month. Dumb move. Though I did not lose length, even gained length, my ends were noticeably thinner compared to the rest of my hair. It was a presentable kind of thin though, trimmed to a blunt cut. You guys have seen the after Hair's Talent pictures. When I noticed my ends were straggly as my hair was growing out, I thought the reason had been that my ends were thin about 6 inches up from the overload. I was going to have to thicken my ends back up before I could have my normal even growth retention back. But that protein overload was a year ago now, my ends should have thickened up by now, not gotten thinner. Plus it wouldn't cause me to lose an inch.
  • I was now stretching for long periods of time and on top of that increasing my growth rate, so I was dealing with a lot of new growth. But I was handling it well and wasn't seeing enough breakage to have lost an inch. I had gotten massive breakage from my protein overload and had not lost an inch. Then I considered it was the line of demarcation breakage in combination with my thinner than normal ends. It's more likely, but I still doubt it. If this is at fault, it was an accomplice and not the main culprit. 
  • After thinking it out, I'm now sure the main problem is that my relaxed ends are wearing due to getting over processed with Japanese Straightening. This was like a revelation, because the thinning was so slow and my ends were acting normal. They were drier compared to the rest of my hair, but not alarmingly dry or breaking. The only clue I had, but ignored, was that the cuticle size of my ends looked thinner. A sign of wearing. I was also getting types of split-ends I never had before, and though there weren't throughout my ends I did find myself dusting more often. Looking at the diagram below, before I had only known split, baby, and sometimes triple ends. Now, though they aren't abundant because of my frequent dusting, I've seen half of these, mostly long tapers.   

I'm officially treating this as my second setback. So for those of you relaxed heads out there, be careful if you're planning on transitioning. I've seen other girls transition more gracefully, but now that I think about it they had shorter hair. The ends of their hair not being as old as mine may have something to do with it. When I think how Hair IB just rinsed the jhs solution with no protection... oh, boy. But now that I know what's going on I'm going to do all I can to stop this. It seems like with all slow transitions, to natural, texlaxing, even Japanese straightening, your relaxed hair always have the chance of suffering.

This has been my first time having a problem retaining length, I've been in the same area for a year now. Plus I've lost an inch and my ends are noticeably thinner. Is this why my growing ends have been so stringy? I thought one of the reasons was because the growth methods I was doing were only having affect on certain parts of my head, but now I'm not so sure. Though I can't see the hard work I did testing growth methods on my ends, I can see it around my head. Currently the majority of my Japanese straightened hair ends on my shoulders. Around 10 inches. And if I had not been increasing my growth rate, I would have lost more length.


I thought about trimming my thin ends and starting over, from about 20 inches. But I'm also afraid that will make it worse as the type of damage I'm dealing with is unfamiliar and doesn't seem to be a common thing. I spent a week trying to find scenarios like mine, but found none, probably because not too many transition from relaxed to jhs. I'm like the first genie pig documenting my transition. Many of us were taught to trim off damaged ends. The reason I'm scared to trim is because if you don't trim above the damage, the damage will just continue to travel up the hair shaft. And faster, because you just gave them a lift up the strand. This whole time my ends acted relatively healthy, so I'm not confident where the damage actually starts. So I've decided to keep these ends for half a year, until after my 6 inches in 6 months challenge and growth aid exams. After that, if I don't see improvement or the situation has gotten even worse, then I'll trim.

I'm determined to overcome this! I find the worse the hair problem, the more effort and motivation I feel to correct it. Above, I have a diagram showing how I'll be changing the protein usage in my regimen. Ever since my protein overload I had become more weary of protein, keeping my hair more on the moisture side, but this probably wasn't helping my situation. Now I plan to increase it's usage to strengthen my ends. In the diagram, the parts of the hair that's colored in represents the part that protein treatments will be applied. I've explained this strategy in interviews, but I don't think I ever got to talking about it on my own blog. the logic behind this:

"I treat my hair like a hierarchy. My new growth is the protein rich, under that is middle class, then lower class, and my ends are in poverty. To turn this natural hierarchy into an equality, I have to give more proteins to the ends and less to my new growth. I believe this also helps my line of demarcation. One can do this layering in many different ways but I do it simply by doing protein cowashes. Between real washes I might cowash the bottom half of my hair, rinse that out, and do another cowash on my ends. Sometimes I do this layering by applying protein leave-ins more on my ends and less as I go up." 

Now that I've decided to stop being afraid of protein, I'll be practicing this protein layering more. And not by cowashing, but with protein deep conditioning. In the diagram where I put split end mender, I'm referring to Nexxus Promend, a product line that doesn't actually mend split-ends, but temporarily glues them. This line has gotten many good reviews, and though it can't actually repair it supposedly stops splits from traveling up the strand until you're ready to trim. I plan to use the overnight treatment and conditioner for that wash day. I've already got some experience with the overnight treatment.

Other things I plan to change & incorporate into my regimen:
  • Strengthen hair by doing protein treatments every other wash. Aphogee for over processed hair, henna for coating and thickening, Nexxus Promend for gluing split-ends. 
  • Use my awesome new Secura steamer for better deep conditioning on wash days. I recently got it for the holidays and my birthday.
  • Prepoo at least an hour with coconut oil and add to deep conditioners to prevent hygral fatigue and retain protein. 
  • Use Nexxus Promend Target leave-in after every thorough shampoo (which is every 2-3 weeks). According to reviews the Promend Target leave-in is the top product of the brand, but its affects washes out with shampoo.
  • Seal hair with coconut and grape seed oil mix, and ends with jbco. Both coconut and grape seed oil prevent cuticle wearing in different ways. Castor oil is heavy and is known for being a great sealant to the ends.
  • Keep hair in protective styles. Keep shorter ends in skinny braids and only take them out on wash days. I've always been a low manipulation style girl rather than a protective style one, but that was because I never had problems retaining length and low manipulation styles helped to prevent breakage better for me. But changing hair needs means changing practices.
  • Only comb hair once on wash day. When my new growth started blooming, I use to detangle twice on wash days, once after prepooing and once after washing. This round I plan to keep combing to a minimum early, and I plan to try only combing after washing.
  • Balance increased protein usage with ghe method and leave-in steaming when needed. Leave-in steaming is only something I've heard of after I got my steamer. It's kinda how your hair gets moisturized from the steam of the ghe method, but instead you just go under the steamer for 5-10 minutes. You don't even have to moisturize your hair before hand or undo your hair if it's styled.
  • Continue testing growth aids and increasing growth rate, aiming for 1-2 inches a month.
  • Do the search & destroy method. No trimming, no dusting. Because I'm not sure if cutting my hair is actually making it worse, I plan to only do search & destroying.
(Wish me luck! ;_;)


KLP on January 18, 2014 at 8:04 PM said...

Good luck!

KLP | SavingOurStrands

fancyflairlady on July 3, 2015 at 3:13 PM said...

This is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you, Yahya. Your hair is beautiful! I just subscribed. :)

Yahya on July 4, 2015 at 11:16 AM said...

Thank you so much! And I'm glad it was helpful. ^ ^

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