Seriously, the Aundre Walker system of hair categorization is so very useless for me. Granted I do have some 4b hair, but it's right at the back of my head. Around the edges, I consider myself a mix of 4b and 4c. But everywhere else is nothing short of 5b/5c. That junk is ridiculous!
I have no coil pattern--except in the 4b/4c areas. the rest is just hard, jagged zig-zags, all twisted up and higgeldy-piggeldy. That's Category 5 if ever I saw it. But the texture, in and of itself, isn't an issue. I have such a tiny head that I can still style my hair with relative ease. The problem for me is breakage.
In my natural hair journey, I've 'trimmed' my ends three times, cutting off 2 inches each time. I stress that I have voluntarily cut off 6 inches of hair! And each time, I thought that I was cutting off old, thin hair that had not quite grown in properly. After my last trim, I noticed that the remaining hair was, in fact, beautiful, lustrous, and thick (relatively speaking). At that time, my hair was 6-7 inches long. My 'bangs' reached the tip of my nose. Needless to say, after 18 months of natural living, I was rather pleased with my progress.
This was in January. To avoid tampering with my lovely growth, I put my hair in braids for three weeks.
Just three weeks, y'all.
When I took my hair out during the first week of February, I noticed A LOT of shedding and hair fragments. I thought to myself, "Three weeks worth of shedding would look like a lot, wouldn't it?"
I proceeded to wash/condition/oil my hair. While I was oiling the hair, I noticed yet more fragments in my palms. Finally, I combed it all out and was mortified to the verge of tears. My hair was noticeably shorter than it was before the braids. I had lost another 2 inches. And this time, it was ALL involuntary.
It took a while to collect myself, but I eventually got it together. After some thought and considerable gnashing of teeth, I came to the conclusion that the braids had not protected my hair because my locale had been unusually cold and dry in January. Further conclusion: my hair could no longer be exposed to the elements.
Since February, I have worn my hair under a headwrap at all times. Almost all times. I keep it covered even in the house, but do remove the covering occasionally. Like to shower and/or wash my hair.
Initially, I worried that the constant headwrap would damage my extremely fine and fragile edges, as that has happened to me in the past. However, I bought a satin scarf, which I wear as my base wrap before putting on a more 'ethnic' looking wrap, and it seems to be working (knock on wood).
Because I am W. African by birth and upbringing, wearing a headwrap isn't particularly out of the ordinary for me. Wearing a headwrap every single day is different, but not extraordinary. Very rarely, I get odd looks from people. And no one at work seems to mind, despite the fact that we have a policy against head coverings.
Since that day in February, when I relegated my hair to the warmth, humidity, and darkness of the headwrap, my hair has grown 3/4 of an inch. That is 50% faster than average. I've seen this sort of accelerated growth in the past, though infrequently, and I've never been able to pinpoint the reason for it. This time, however, I'm pretty sure it's the 'green house effect'. Here it is again. And again. And again. Who knew this was a thing! Am I sure it's the GHE? Not really, but I can attest that my hair has ALWAYS grown better in the high humidity and warmth of summer, with growth all but stalling in winter. So 3/4 of an inch in February is very, very unusual for me.
Although, I'm pleased with the growth, I'm not celebrating yet. I'll wait for my hair to reach the 8-inch mark before I celebrate. Provided my hair keeps up this growth rate, I should reach eight inches in four or five more months (depends on how much the stylist removes at the next trim). I'll check back in a couple of months to update you on my progress.
For anyone else who's struggling with maintaining the natural lifestyle, as a good friend once said to me, "The devil is a lye!"
Hang in there ladies. I think we might all be in this together.