Monday, April 1, 2013

Tell-tale Signs it's Time for a Trim

I've been wearing my hair in twists with extensions for a few months now, and though these protective styles are great for my hair, especially when moisturized properly, I haven't really been showing my ends as much love as they deserve. I know you've heard it before: respect your elders! Not just your human elders, but the oldest parts of your hair--the ends! The ends of your hair have been with you the longest and require some special TLC. And I'm sad to say, I haven't been giving my elders the proper care they need.

Side note: For now, I'm done with the twists (I can't believe I essentially wore the same hairstyle for months!!) and will be bunning for now. I can do a tutorial on how to create a boss bun with marley hair if there's interest.

Me and my boss bun on Easter Sunday.
I digress... I'll start this post with a few disclaimers:
  • I believe that to maintain happy, healthy hair, you should have your hair trimmed when it needs to be trimmed (more on that below).
  • Some naturals get a trim every _________ (fill in the blank). I'm less prescriptive about the timing of trims. Why cut perfectly healthy hair just because it's been so-and-so weeks or months?
  • I don't endorse the "search and destroy" method of trimming, where you look at your hair, strand by strand, and trim any split ends. Ain't nobody got time for that!
  • Just go get your hair trimmed by a professional! I know there are tons of Youtube videos that claim to teach you how to trim your hair. I tried this, and when I finally went to a professional, she exclaimed, "WHO'S BEEN CUTTING YOUR HAIR?" I sank in my chair in shame of the horrible decision I made when trying to save a few bucks. 
So what's a girl to do? Here are a few signs that tell me when I need a trim...

Scraggly Ends

I'm talking dry, brittle, uneven ends. I recognize that it's hard to tell if your hair is uneven when it's kinky/curly/coily, but if you need an example, see the picture below of my very own tragic ends. It's clearly uneven! Also, your hair might not look dry, but it could feel dry. Just moments ago, I was moisturizing and sealing my hair for the night, when I couldn't help but notice the contrast between the majority of my hair and the bottom 1/2 inch or so.

Hi. These are my scraggly ends, on the Interwebz.
So how can you know when you need a trim? Pay attention to your hair texture. I'm not talking about hair typing or anything, but think of what your hair typically feels like. My hair usually feels like cotton, so I knew something was up when my ends didn't feel soft and fluffy.

Multi-strand Knots

Single strand knots (SSKs) are par for the course with natural hair, but over the past couple days, I've been noticing multi-strand knots in my hair! EEK. Are you panicking too? Before I go on, let me define SSKs; since our hair is so kinky/curly/coily, sometimes the hair curls into itself, forming a knot. I don't really consider SSKs a big deal and I usually just leave them alone if I discover them.

But over the past couple days, I've noticed straight-up knots in my hair that are impossible to untangle. EEK! Panicking yet? I've just been trying to gently save as many strands as possible and then gently pull the knot down. Ugh... still freaking out over here.

"There's more where that came from!" - my hair
A trim will resolve these multi-strand knots, and maybe even SSKs. I don't know for certain, but I suspect that dry, brittle hair tends to become more easily tangled than softer hair. Whether you get a trim or not, you'll be losing hair. It's best to let a professional just trim it for you.

"Shed" Hair Everywhere (AKA Breakage)

Everyone's hair sheds and it's 100% normal and natural. After doing a quick Google search, I found that people can shed anywhere between 50 and 150 strands of hair per day. It's amazing how much hair we have on our heads, isn't it!? Anyway, if you are naturally shedding, you will see strands of hair as long as the ones on your head here and there. Typically these ends have a little white bulb on one end. 

I got this photo from
But are you seeing super short bits of hair? Well honey, that's breakage. While you detangle, do you literally hear your hair snapping and breaking? I've been there and it sucks. This just means that your ends are dry and are not retaining moisture as they should. Fortunately, I haven't been experiencing breakage, but I'm not going to wait til that starts to get a trim. If you notice your ends are dry and aren't retaining moisture even when you do focus on them, it's time to part with your damaged hair.

I know the end game for a lot of naturals is length, but let's not forget health. Even if your hair manages to magically grow while it's dry, brittle, and constantly breaking, imagine how ugly and unhealthy it will look. Trims are a necessary action for healthy hair, and long hair too if that's your goal.

What are your tell-tale signs that you need a trim?

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