Hair: Length Check and Bantu Knots

Note: My hair type is 4a-z, nappy, kinky, coily, cottony, soft, fine, moderately thick, and very very delicate.

Time to check the hair length again!

It grows so slow now-a-days. I’m still trying to figure out where that growth spurt a couple of years ago was due to.

I had to cut off 1/2 an inch to 1 inch on the ends, because I was getting irritated with knotting. I have to stay away from small two-strand twists; they are the cause of a lot of single strand knots for me.

This summer, I am doing the following for health and hair:

  • Eating a lot of fish, I’ve been consuming a lot of Japanese food too. I know not to eat too much, because of mercury concerns (among other pollutants / poisons).
  • The weather has been too cool for my stomach, but I hope I can start making my morning drinks again with carrots, bananas, yogurt, and flax seeds. Right now, all I eat is a banana for breakfast.
  • Taking vitamins roughly every other day. I’ve included a separate supplement of D3 and powdered C.
  • Working out (longer / harder). I’m working up to jogging longer than 10 minutes at a time; this is in addition to my walking and weight lifting.
  • Co-washing, which is washing with conditioners. Sometimes, I’ll shampoo.
  • No more flat ironing, although I itch, and ache, to every time I wash! I blow dry on a reasonable and comfortable heat setting. I always use a heat protectant!
  • I like to keep my hair completely covered under a scarf and /or in a protective style. If I do wear my hair “out”, I style it to look less than shoulder length.


I suppose if I flat iron, it would appear longer.

My standard routine, the changes are always minute:

  1. Saturate hair with White Rain Conditioner Coconut. I couldn’t resist buying it from the dollar store. I love this stuff cheap.
  2. Part hair into 4 sections – just the hands, no comb! – braid the root, and twist to the ends.
  3. Apply castor oil to ends of hair, around the hairline (edges), and the crown where I always part the hair, which is prone to dryness and breakage.
  4. Put on plastic cap, cover with scarf. Sleep on it, overnight.
  5. Exercise.
  6. Wash hair. Open each section at a time, wash scalp thoroughly, comb gently with fingers, re-braid and re-twist.
  7. Wrap tightly with a towel. No rubbing.
  8. Open each section at a time, apply heat protectant, make smaller sections, and blow dry hair.
  9. Bantu knot each section.
  10. Done.

I tried to do a silk wrap (sitting under the dryer with a plastic wrap around smoothed hair), but my hair laughed at my efforts.

I think it will be next year, before I do this again.

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Turn I Loose: Afro, Locs, and other Styles

Note: This is just my opinion, people are free to wear their hair as they please, of course. All personal choices are valid.

I rarely wear my hair loose. Is that a sign of shame? I was wondering if I hide my hair based on subconscious dislike of it. I wore it straight (flat ironed) for Christmas. I felt overwhelmed and uncomfortable with all that hair. It’s unmanageable to me. I love shrinkage. It is a gift: I can get a reduction in volume, length, and change in texture without a haircut.

Kinky, coily, nappy, cottony, textured, natural 4a-4z hair is soooo awesome!

Natural

I don’t get caught up worrying about what natural or natural hair is supposed to mean. There are people who are anti-heat, anti-straightening, Afro-puffs-only, anti-styling(?), and completely absorbed into natural products (no silicones, parabens, mineral oil, petroleum, etc).

That’s great – for them. Hair rules can be so dogmatic they hurt the people it is supposed to help. Not everyone’s head of hair will respond alike to the same treatment.

Outside of not using a relaxer, lye or no-lye, curly perm, or anything toxic like that, I’m wholeheartedly for the use of anything that temporarily changes my hair. If there was a product that altered my hair texture, straightened it, or loosened the kinky coil for a couple of days, weeks, or months, and I could wash it out – I’d use it. As long as it is not permanent.

Afro

As for hairstyles, I do not like the Afro. It was cool to wear as a nearly bald-headed kid, but even if I could sport a big-ass-Afro (BAA), I would not. It’s too much work. I remember all those years of picking (which was cutting) my hair out, then patting it into shape. I was always worried about it being lopsided, dirty, dusty and dry. Way too much effort.

A tiny Afro is fine. A medium sized one is reasonable, anything longer than a pinky or index finger is a problem. My hair couldn’t stand up anyway – it’s not dense enough. It would require a ton of hair spray – that’s not happening.

I know there are people who love the shrunken Afro, which is different from very short hair picked out. As someone with some of the softest, fragile, thin, and zig-zagged shaped strands around, I could never wear my hair in one. It would get so knotty, I would have to spend hours de-tangling. I don’t see how that helps the hair.

I’ve seen the rough treatment people put their hair through when they pick out their Afro. Picking is cutting, regardless of whether it is damp, wet, or dry. Loose hair is lost hair. I wonder why people believe it helps their hair grow.

Locs

Years ago, I wanted to try locs, but then I realized I dislike them. I’ve rarely seen a head of hair that looks good with locs, regardless of whatever fancy styling, coloring, or name, like Sistalocks, they are given.

There are people who believe this hairstyle helps their hair grow. The truth is, I think locs provide people with an excuse not to touch their hair. That’s not all bad, especially if it’s religiously inspired.

However, broken off locs, thick locs hanging by a few strands, large and growing parts, prove that this style doesn’t work for everyone. I see very few heads of hair that don’t have these balding spots between parts, which is due to traction alopecia. Every extreme twist – in order to look “neat” – pulls out the hair, and those few strands are left holding up a heavier loc of growing and shed hair.

Turn I Loose: Stress Testing

I do want to wear my hair loose: come this Spring, I will see what I can do. I will use bantu knots and two-strand twists to prep my hair. I do not lack for decent leave-in conditioners, so I think I should be able to manage without fear of “The Knots.” Maybe I will be able to wear it out for a week and see what happens.

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Hair Again – The Vanity Check

I lurk on a number of hair boards. I’m surprised that there’s still a debate over hair types. Let me be specific: some black women (almost monthly) often wonder whether 100% African Americans (black parents and grand parents, allowing for multi-ethnic, multi-racial great-grandparents) can grow hair past their shoulders. My hair type might be what they seek: nappy, cnapps, 4 a-b-c-z, cotton-like, fine, medium, and completely uncombable. Combs are so overrated. (snicker)

There’s quite a demand for proof of long hair. A good search into fotki could provide these ladies with the answers they seek. I’m constantly impressed by the variety of natural hair styles I see. I wish I was as creative. I can’t create clean and precise parts for nothing. The pictures are of unraveled bantu knots (aloe vera and castor oil) before I condition wash.

I don’t post responses; this blog isn’t a response to those requests. I never doubted that black women can grow long hair – almost every girl I knew during my childhood had long hair.

I was one of the bald ones. It bothered me sometimes. I was certain that it was genetics since my aunts weren’t long haired. I only knew what one of my grandmothers looked like. Her hair was shoulder length, so my expectations weren’t high. As I got older I figured that this dry and cold climate was my enemy. I was always making plans to live in the South. All the women down there seem to have very long hair.

However, over the past few years, I’ve finally figured out what worked: moisture and leaving it alone. Duh.

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Bantu Knots Solves Itchy Scalp


It’s hard for me to believe, but it works!

Since the weather turned dryer and colder, my two-strand twists hair style was growing more irritating by the day. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

My scalp itched so bad, I was like a dog with fleas.

I tried light dabs of castor oil. When that failed, I’d saturate my scalp with it. When that failed, I’d wash it.

The relief was temporary.

Then I figured, if my problem was dry scalp, I should try and keep the hair moist. I tried bagging my head at night for several days.

It didn’t work: I was scratching more than ever.

Maybe it’s the hair, I thought. Maybe it’s time to cut it off.

I quickly reversed myself when I came to this final conclusion: my scalp needed to breathe. The hair was preventing that.

On my twists I put my aloe vera, curl activator, castor oil and unrefined shea butter mix. Following that I put them into very tight bantu knots.

For the first time, aside from the normal and few twinges and niggles in my scalp, there’s no itching.

Hallelujah! So relieved and pleased.

How weird was that?

The following is my often changing, wash and twist, regiment:
•  Bantu knots still in hair, soak with Hollywood tree tea oil, Hot Six oil and Hollywood olive oil.
•  Follow with Suave Coconut and Garnier Conditioner.
•  Plastic cap or plastic bag. Wrap with towel. Leave in for 45 minutes, or less if you please.
•  Wash out. While washing, pull out bantu knots. Leave hair in twists.
•  Apply shampoo: Cream of Nature and Humectress brand I can’t recall. Any conditioning shampoo will do.
•  Squeeze out excess water. Wrap head with towels. Wait a bit.
•  While hair is still damp squirt ends with oil combo from above. Not too much.
•  Undo a twist, add unrefined shea butter and oils mixture – no saturation – and retwist. No combing (don’t need to hair is soft and detangled).
•  After each twist is done, put into a bantu knot. Not too tight, or you wont get any sleep.

I’m aiming for 2-3 weeks, before I wash again.

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