We were sent this question recently here at BHI:
I tried the coconut* lime relaxer, didn’t work, then the caramel treatment, didn’t work, then I found this sweet potato mask on BHI, that was a mess, then I did a few tea rinses but my hair hasn’t changed, this is so frustrating, tell me what to do please!!?
Well, you can start by not adding one more drop of anything to your hair until we have this conversation. I am all for being at one with your fridge, after all DIY is on trend, and there is nothing better than a home made concoction and fabulous hair afterwards.
The thing is you really cannot reap the benefits of anything that you try if you do not allow yourself enough time to assess the results in you hair regimen.
The key to any great regimen is consistency; if you want to see results from your hair you have to be consistent with everything that you do. There used to be an old myth that said you should change your products often so that your hair does not ‘get used to’ them and stop responding. But now we know that this only happens when the hair is not clarified often enough.
The hair strand has a specific structure, and once it leaves the scalp it doesn’t expand in width or renew itself, it behaves just like a piece of lifeless string. With that said, it cannot respond to a different product simply because it is different, but rather is affected by certain ingredients in products.
For example, if you use an egg as part of your regimen, it will improve the appearance of the strand by adding to the outer layers that have been damaged due to manipulation. If you decide to change things up and use a fancy product that contains some protein the result is still the same, you will repair the strand in the same way the egg would.
Sure enough, hydrolyzed protein goes through a process that allows the molecules to be small enough to penetrate and patch gaps in the cortex of the strand and not just the outer layers.
That is why we often flock to commercialized protein products as the preferential type of protein, but it does not mean that the egg won’t do the job if the damage is on the outer layers.
The point is, it doesn’t matter which one you use, protein is protein regardless of how it is packaged and as long as it is what is required, your hair will never know the difference.
With that said, you can use one product for years and if the formula has not changed it can remain as a consistent part of your regimen without the need to change anything. This is the beauty of a solid regimen, because once you have found your groove, you don’t ever need to switch things up, just sit and reap the benefits.
Practicing DIY is a great thing, but it takes at least three weeks to see any changes in your hair. This is not set in stone because everyone’s hair is different, however using one thing on a consistent basis, and then assessing your results is more beneficial to your hair than trying 10 different things and not knowing what changed, if anything at all
This one is a tricky point but an important one if length is your ultimate goal. Hair grows slowly. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a fast groweror not.
Looking at your reflection day after day, week after week, it’s difficult to notice the little changes that happen as your hair starts to become healthier and you start to retain some length.
This is why knowing your starting point is so important. Many ladies give up on their regimens a couple of months in because their hair doesn’t look any different in the mirror.
But their doubts could easily have been silenced if they were comparing their reflection today with a picture taken at the beginning of their journey.
Let me ask you this, do you remember what you had for lunch 2 months ago on a Thursday? Not many people would remember. So why is it that we think that we will remember exactly what our hair looked like after a few weeks/months have gone by?
The best way to asses your results when it comes to length goals is pictures and lots of them. Become the queen of selfies!
Get yourself an instagram page to upload your pictures, buy yourself a length check t-shirt or make yourself a DIY one if you want to check month by month progress. Whatever you decide, just remain proactive about assessing your length results and tweak your regimen accordingly.
How Do You Assess Other Results?
Much like a science experiment you will need to do the exact same thing several times to get a result, and if it is positive the process must be repeated consistently to continue to reap the benefits thereafter.
You need to know what your hair looks like when it is responding well to a regimen. For instance, is it shinier? Do you notice that you retain more length? Did your shedding stop? Is your hair soft every time? Is detangling a breeze?
Develop your own test questions for your hair and check them off every time you try something new in your regimen. With that said, you also need to know when something else is causing a negative result especially if one week out of the blue your hair just is not acting right after being consistently radiant for weeks.
For example if you use a particular product that gives you great results but causes build up, after a few weeks you will notice that your hair appears dull.
Don’t be too quick to throw out your DIY experiment. Clarify your hair and try one more time to see if the results are positive or negative.
Differentiate Between Luxury Treatments and Regular Regimen Treatments
This is purely a matter of taste and time! For instance to me, a sweet potato mask is a luxury addition to my regimen, it is the type of thing I would try once every 4 months or so which might not require much of an assessment, other than my immediate results.
However there are those of you that might happen to have an abundance of sweet potatoes, love the result and use the treatment all the time.
Another great example is Greek yogurt. Many women have incorporated the use of yogurt as a weekly treatment, loving the results every time, others may say “I aint got time for that” and grab some regular conditioner as their staple.
You have to decide on what you are able to do consistently so that you do not set yourself up for failure. If your treatment requires a lot of prep work and you do not have that kind of time, then it should be something you would probably do from time to time and not part of your regular regimen.
Other Regimen Elements That Need To Be Assessed
Products and treatments are not the only things that need to be assessed when building a great regimen. Other additives like how your hair responds to the consistent use of heat, or how it benefits from protective styling or that new styling tool you just bought, will need to be looked at too.
If we take protective styling for instance, you can’t put your hair in a bun for one week out of the year and decide that it doesn’t work for you. Protective styling requires that you remain in the style for at least a month to reap the benefits of it, it is a long term strategy that requires consistency and patience.
The point? Give your hair a chance to respond to your attempts at doing something positive for it. On the flip side of things, styling tools require less processing time than DIY concoctions, for instance, you know to throw out that brush the first time it rips out your hair after one use. Tangle teezer* anyone?
We hear the same question daily here on the blog, and on social media, “How do I get my hair to grow long? What products do I use?” However underneath those questions is that insatiable desire to rush things along (yup we know!).
But our answer to most of these questions will always include advice on being patient, and being consistent. All the time!