Saturday, 19 July 2014

3 Trimming Practices That Are Losing You Length

Traditionally, black women have struggled to grow hair past a certain point and most are therefore deathly afraid of scissors, afraid to lose a single inch, even if the hair is thin and damaged.  

source: curlynikki

The irony of not trimming your hair is that saving all that dead length can actually have a negative impact on your length retention. Trimming doesn't technically encourage growth but it removes split ends, damaged cuticles and single strand knots which means less breakage which in term means longer hair. But there are occasions when trimming hair the wrong way is just as detrimental as not trimming at all:

1. Using Blunt Scissors
This is perhaps the biggest mistake most people who self trim do. You know your hair needs a trim and you want to do it yourself rather than go to some scissor-happy salonist so you dig in your stationery drawer and pull out your trusty pair of paper scissors and snip away. This, my friends, is hair torture. You may as well take a nail file and saw your hair off. OK i exaggerate. But using blunt scissors shreds the cuticle, which will eventually lead to split or thin, rough ends. 

End cut with sharp shears vs end cut with blunt scissors
source: blackhairinformation
Left: hair cut with hair shears has a clean, blunt edge
Right: hair cut with ordinary desk scissors with ragged edge and shredded cuticle

Using a proper pair of hair shears is ideal. They are very sharp with a thin blade and slice cleanly through the hair, leaving blunt ends that keep splits at bay longer. If you must use normal scissors, make sure they are as sharp as possible and don't use them for anything else. No cutting veg or making paper dolls for your kids.

2. Trimming off too little
In the bid to retain as much length as possible, most of us try to trim off as little hair as possible. We take the word 'dusting' very literally, as that's all you see after a natural self trims. Trimming off too little is almost as bad as not trimming at all. You may take off the tip of the problem but you still leave behind enough split hair or damaged cuticle to allow the damage to continue to creep up your hair shaft.

Each trim should look to take off about 1/4-1/2 an inch depending on how far up the strand the splits or cuticle damage is. 

source: kinkykurlysistas

source: kinkykurlysistas

source: thenaturalhaven

3. Not trimming often enough
The average person's hair grows at a rate of 1/2 inch a month. For some of us not so average people, our hair grows at a slower pace. So, you're afraid to trim as often as is recommended because you will lose more length so you leave it longer and longer in between trims. The trouble with this thinking is that if your hair does develop split ends or shredded cuticles, the longer you leave them in the hair, the further up the hair shaft they travel, the more you will eventually have to trim off.

Note: The less careful you are with your strands, the more often you may need to trim. Frequent use of heat, chemicals, dry combing and excessive manipulation may cause your hair cuticle to get damaged faster. However, split ends are a fact of life no matter how careful you are. Everyone needs a trim sooner or later.

Small, frequent trims are much more effective than a once or twice a year trimming regimen. Staying on top of the problem means you end up not needing to take off as much in the long run. Try dusting ends regularly or doing search and destroy missions between trims.

Confession: I can never see split ends in my hair!!! Does anyone else have this problem? My ends are so coily and they're always doing a group hug that it is hard to distinguish the individual strands. Search and destroys are useless to me. Perhaps when my hair is longer but for now I just blind trim.

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