“Wow your hair has grown so much! What’s your goal length?”
Goal Length??? Maaaan, I was just trying to stop my hair from falling OUT! I was natural from birth until middle school. Middle school was a time in my life that I try not to think about: immigrant accent being made fun of, acne, and the beginning and end of my experience with a perm – a Jheri curl actually, which I first got in 7th grade and then transitioned out of by the end of 9th grade and I’ve been natural ever since.
For years after 9th grade though, my hair’s length and health was constantly changing. My hair would break in the middle but be longer in the crown and nape, it would grow well in extensions but then shed like crazy when loose, and pictures taken of me in the same year would show dramatic variations of length. It didn’t help that I was on #teampressandcurl for a long time, and the heat damage was real. In the spring of 2011 I went through a stressful time personally and professionally and it showed in a few aspects of my health, including my hair health. My hair began to both shed and break excessively. Shed hair is a normal part of the hair’s growth cycle, but excessive shedding is when hair is lost at a rate higher than the average of 50 – 100 strands per day. Breakage in my case was happening at the ends of my hair, which were brittle from lack of moisture.In other words, I was losing my hair.
Because of our family history of alopecia, I figured that I had inherited this, and hightailed it to a dermatologist to seek help. It was an consultation; the dermatologist clearly had little knowledge of Afro-textured hair and made A LOT of assumptions. “Well you should stop using relaxers” I don’t have a relaxer. “Wearing weaves will only make things worse.” I don’t wear weaves. And on and on. The ONLY helpful thing he told me was that there was no scarring of the scalp, and since I still had pores the follicles could regenerate. And then he told me I should immediately begin using Rogaine. I. Was. TIGHT.
What happened next was an absolute breakthrough for me. I reached out to two friends, May and Rachelle, for advice. May offered support and Rachelle offered two words: Castor Oil. From there I began to do my research and I also made another appointment with a different dermatologist. I told her of my previous awful and unhelpful consultation, and she gave me a thorough exam and a useful treatment plan. To treat the inflammation in my hairline (edges), I received cortisone shots once every 3 months for about nine months. She also had me begin taking 3000 mcg of Biotin daily, encouraged me to massage my scalp to stimulate blood flow to my scalpy areas, and gave me the name of a good spa to help me de-stress.
Following Rachelle’s advice I learned about essential and carrier oils, moisturizing and sealing my hair, and eliminating the use of heat styling. My strands became less brittle, my moisture retention improved significantly, and my hair stopped falling out! If that was the end of the story I would have been content but then guess what began to happen? Over a 6-month period of following a consistent regimen, my hair began to grow back in the areas where it had been thinning. As I refined my regimen in 2012 I began to experience significant length retention, denser hair, healthy tresses, and tons of compliments! I do not have a goal length but my layered hair at its longest point is currently bra-strap-length (BSL). My goal is to continue my health journey, which includes the health of my hair as well as my personal, professional, and spiritual well-being.
Seanna-Kaye’s Length Retention Journey