Although I have had natural hair for slightly over a decade, I kept it covered under braids and cornrows in high school then became hooked on weaves in university. In hindsight, those five years of intensive weave-wearing did nothing for my natural hair and If I could rewind and leave some advice for my varsity self, here's what I would say:
Dear Wunmi (circa 2006-2011)
If there is one thing we have in common, it's that we are both rather laid back when it comes to hair care. So I completely get why weaves became your go to style. Unlike braids which took hours to install and take out, weaves were quick and easy to put in. You didn't need to invest a whole day and a sore bottom in getting your hair done. And there was definitely something gratifying in going from a dry and tough uneven afro to sleek and long extensions in an hour or two. It also didn't hurt that you could be on your way with barely 30 seconds of hair brushing for the day. Jackpot. I totally get it.
What you didn't know, my darling, is that under that weave your hair was neglected and sad. So when you took it down after almost four months (I'm all for getting my money's worth but damn girl), you were excited to see new growth at your roots but puzzled as your ends gave way at the slightest touch. Here is why:
* First of all, your sew in cornrows were too tight and pulling at your hairline so much that they were a sure fire way to breakage and thinning edges. Loosening them a little would have definitely helped.
*Washing your hair with a harsh shampoo then going straight into a weave would also damage your hair. A deep conditioning treatment before and after installing your weave (for no more than 2 months at a go) would have reduced the damage.
*On the flip side, not washing often enough once you had your weave in would lead to hair that is compacted on to your scalp and a breeding ground for bacteria, dead skin, and excess sebum. I would have shampooed every two weeks using an applicator bottle focusing on my scalp.
* Moisturizing you hair everyday with water and your favorite oil or leave in conditioner would keep it soft and supple.
And with these minor adjustments, you could have enjoyed your weave while protecting your beautiful koili hair. Sure, it seems like a lot to do now but I promise you that with practice you would get into it. And your future healthy hair would certainly thank you as you learned to love it.
Your future self,
Wunmi of 2015