My two year mark is soon approaching and I cannot believe how much my fro has changed. Methods that I used to swear by are now becoming obsolete along with products that used to be on my ‘go-to’ list. I welcome this kind of change because it might mean that I am making progress in my natural hair journey, like I am becoming more and more familiar with my fro and her needs. My previous regimen was not efficient in terms of time consumption but it didn’t matter since my lifestyle accommodated it quite comfortably. The time has come for me to re-evaluate my regimen but this time I have to factor in manic university and college timetables, a modest social life and a few side hustling activities. From what I have learned in my past year of being natural, I know that the trick to low maintenance is all in the styling, but that will come later. What faces me now is the need to do an evaluation and set some hair goals to help me design the perfect regimen for my unique coils.
By evaluation, I mean a check to see what’s going on in hair city. It may be a good idea to name your fro at this point (if you’re in to that kind of thing) and I have named mine Sunflower. The story behind the name is a beautiful one about my spiritual connection to sunflowers and I hope to tell it one day, in a field full of them, basking in the glow of an orange sunset. For now, I will tell you only the physical things about my dear Sunflower and hopefully this will help you do your own evaluation and bond with your coils.
So if you’ve been on the natural scene for a while now, this one probably isn’t new to you. Early in my journey I was on the mission to figure out what my texture is, I stayed up into the wee hours of the night lusting over the curl patterns of popular Youtubers until I fell onto the curl-discriminating side of the natural hair community. Knowledge of your texture can help you make informed decisions on what products to try and what methods to practice. Different curl/coil groups react differently to processes and it is important to know what your texture can and can’t handle. Articles on finding your curl pattern and more info about it are here, here and here.
So porosity is the measure of the hair’s ability to absorb water. Porosity specifically refers to the state of the outer layer of the hair called the cuticle. If the cuticle is tight it may be resistant to receiving moisture and if it has openings or tears, it may allow moisture to flow in and out. Porosity is a good place to start when determining what kind of moisturizers to use and when determining what kind of moisturizing methods to use. People with low porosity hair, like me, may use methods like steaming to make sure that moisture penetrates the cuticle whereas people with high porosity hair will take care when sealing moisture as their hair tends to let moisture out. This knowledge may upgrade the kind of care you’re giving your hair.
To test for porosity put a couple hair strands in a bowl full of water and see how long it takes to sink. If it sinks quickly, the hair is porous and if it floats about for a long while then the porosity is low. You can see more info and methods of testing for porosity here.
Elasticity is a measure of health in terms of keratin, the protein that hair needs to be strong and bouncy. Specifically in terms of coily hair, elasticity is so important for styling. Hair that breaks when stretched will not thrive in long-term protective styles or when manipulated. Elasticity is a good measure of health and a sign to show you when your hair needs protein.
Literally use your fingers to stretch some of your strands to evaluate your elasticity. You can learn more about protein and coily hair here.
- Density: circumference of pony is 15cm
This is kinda like a hair count but it can also be related to the thickness of the strands. The main point of worrying about the density of your hair is so you can make informed styling decisions as well as informed product purchases. Products that can help you in your quest to make your hair appear more or less actually exist and may be really useful to you in this hair journey.
To determine your density you can measure the circumference of your pony puff/tail.
Measuring the length is important to me because I like to measure how much length I am retaining. If you’re trying to grow your hair this may be an important one. Here’s a somewhat sad fact; everyone has a natural growth cycle and nothing can be done to enhance this growth cycle. With that said, people generally don’t stay at their full health potential all the time so it is possible that eating better, drinking water, taking supplements and using good products will speed up the growth of the hair but all these actions are simply helping you achieve your natural growth cycle.
And my goals? Well, I just want to have healthy strands from root to tip, my ends are suffering a bit right now (blame it on the South African winter). I would also be glad to see myself retain some length, so the goal is to achieve shoulder blade length too. The products and methods I decide to make a part of my regimen will be chosen with these goals in mind. I’m going to have fun looking for new products and methods.
Tell me in the comments, what products are you in love with right now?