1. Too much protein, not enough moisture
“My hair is breaking so I need products to make to it stronger and then it won’t break.” This can definitely be a true statement but more likely than not, when starting out hair needs moisture because it is not getting the TLC it needs from deep conditioning or moisturizing. When I started my HHJ, my hair was as dry as a bone left out in the Caribbean sun. It was breaking due to lack of moisture. Think of your hair as a rubber band. A dry rubber band will snap when stretched. Hair behaves the same way. Hair that lacks moisture lacks elasticity. Elasticity is what allows our hair to stretch when manipulated (e.g. when combed) but not break.
Starting out, I remember using lots of protein-based products in the hopes that they would stop breakage… which it did for about a day and then my strands went right back to breaking. I absolutely, absolutely recommend using a moisture-focused approach when just starting out. It’s worlds quicker to correct moisture overload (a protein treatment will do the trick) than it is to correct protein-overload (lots of moisture is needed).
For more on identifying proteins, protein treatments, protein and moisture overload, check out these posts!
2. Unrealistic length expectations
“What do we want? Waist length tresses! When do we want it? NOW!”… If only. The reality is our hair isn’t going bloom from nape to waist length in a year. It’s perfectly okay to start out with an end goal like waist length in mind. On average, hair grows about 6 inches a year. If you add in trims, from nape to waist won’t happen in 365 days. Rather than be discouraged when making lengths doesn’t go the way you planned, set goals that will help keep you motivated. When I started, arm-pit length was my goal and once I reached it, bra-strap length was the finish line… then mid-back length… then waist length. Even if waist length seems “too far”, “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Focus on the health of your hair and the length will follow.
3. Nothing in moderation
Too much of anything (except red velvet cheesecake, laughter, and heartfelt hugs) is no bueno. If you’re anything like me when I started out, you might have purchased lots of products and tried them as quick as you got them. Doing too much, trying too many things at all once won’t really help you suss out what products or techniques work for you. There will products and ways of doing things that make you run the other way on the first go — and that’s great. If you can tell immediately you it’s not for you, don’t waste time trying to convince yourself it might work. If a product or technique is sashaying along the fence, give them a trial period.