Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Help! I had cut my hair from mid-back to shoulder length"

I received a very interesting email the other day from a reader who was seeking help regarding her predicament. She recently cut her hair back from mid-back to neck length due to breakage (for the second time). The writer also mentioned that she deep conditioned regularly, doesn't use too much heat and stretches up to 16 weeks. Sounds like she's doing everything right, so what could be contributing to her breakage?

She and I are still in communication so I don't have all the information needed to help her figure out a root cause yet but her email really made me think. I too have dealt with major set backs that required mini chops. On several occasions I found myself with large sections of hair suffering greatly after reaching decent lengths. How could this happen?

Looking back, I've come to find out that most of it was my fault. In my case, it was my behaviors that lead to the loss of my progress. This revelation was one that didn't come easily. I had to really step back and analyze each and every action (and inaction) related to my hair in order to understand what was happening. My setbacks had nothing to do with the products I used (or needed).

I'll stop sounding all theoretical now and give you some real examples of what I'm actually talking about from my own experience.

Scenario 1:
"One side healthy, the other side damaged"
I was roller setting as usual admiring how thick and even each section of hair I parted. Even as I ran the small toothed comb down the lengths, there was no sign of breakage. I was in heaven. That is until I completed the right side of my hair and moved to the left. All of the sudden, I was dealing with weak, uneven hair so fragile that broken strands appeared with even the slightest touch. "What the?!".... "How did I create such damage to one side of my hair?"

That's when I sat back and silently replayed all my actions over until I could find a cause. Turns out that I my own routine created this. I'm left handed so I naturally feel comfortable using my left hand to take care of the right side of my hair. The right side received all of the care when I applied conditioner and the right side was the first side I set with rollers. By the time I got to the left side of my hair, the right hand was in charge and my patience had run out. With one side of my hair, I was thorough, meticulous and effective. The other side, I was negligent.

Scenerio 2
"What's going on back there?"
Another struggle that I've had to deal with was regarding the back of my hair. After applying consistent focus to bringing health back to the damaged section, I began to see tremendous progress to my left side. Soon, that part of my hair was no longer an issue for me. That's when I noticed the back section of my hair. Turns out that I was neglecting that area of my hair. Why? Because I am one those people that tends to wear her hair over her shoulders. The hair I see when I look in the mirror receives all of my attention. Over time, the back of my hair didn't get as much love as the rest of my strands and so of course eventually, damage began to appear.

I can also share scenarios for thinning hair, breaking ends, and so forth. What's important to focus on is the how we address the issue. It's important that we remain committed to identifying the root cause, and not simply search out products as a cure-all. Sure I could have shelled out money and got more products, but if my behaviors remained the same, progress wouldn't have been made.

The key to effectively overcoming setbacks (especially those ones that show up out of no where) is to analyze our actions. Really take a look at yourself and what you do with regards to your hair. I believe that every action produces a result. Some of those results are immediate, some long-term. Breakage and damage is a result of our past actions. So understanding and identifying those actions is critical.

So take a moment today and think about what you do that could be contributing to any set backs or current issues. If nothing comes to mind then try this exercise again when you are actively engaged in doing your hair. Take notice of everything from how you are feeling at the moment, to how much time you invest, to the techniques you are using. If you are truly present to this experience, you will learn from it and your hair will benefit.

  1. OMG!....OMG!...LOL! I have to laugh at myself because I am having the same exact problem....right down to the "T"! I am right handed and the left side of my hair was getting that TLC and the right side not so much. Like you, the back is so neglected. It came to my mind that whenever I would do my relaxer touch ups I would forget to do the lower back of my head/hair and when moisturizing and sealing, I would literally miss the sections on my right side. So now, when I do anything to my hair, I make sure that I am giving tlc to ALL my hair...left & right, right & left.