Long hair is coveted by many in the natural hair community. While there are definitely some naturals who prefer to maintain a TWA or tapered cut, there are those, myself included, who can be described as “length whores.” Lol. Yep! Give me ALL the inches!! My healthy hair goal for 2017 is to reach tailbone length. But notice how I mentioned “healthy.” Desiring length is fine as long as the health of your hair is not neglected in the process. It wouldn’t make sense for me to achieve my hair goal, but the last five inches of my hair consists of split, dry and frayed ends. So, you may be wondering, how can I achieve my hair goals while ensuring my hair is healthy? Like many paths in life, there is no one way to get there. There are many techniques and products that can be used to help you reach your goals. The key is developing a regimen that works for you. Trial and error, internet research, reading blog posts, and watching YouTube videos, can all provide ideas on how to improve your regimen to help you reach your desired results. I believe I have a pretty solid regimen. But it’s definitely not perfect and there’s always room for improvement. So when I came across a video on a length retention secret from the women of Chad, I was intrigued.
The video creator is a descendant of an African ethnic group in Chad known as the “Basara Arabs.” She decided to travel to her native Chad to uncover the haircare practices of the women in this ethnic group. The women who belong to this group are widely known for their long, kinky hair that often reaches past their waists. Their ability to reach such length lies in the application of a mixture consisting of Shebe seeds, Mahllaba Soubiane seeds, “Missic” stone, cloves, “Samour” resin, scented oil of their choice, and a hair grease or pomade, also of their choice. Most of these ingredients can only be sourced in Chad or Sudan. To create the mixture, all of the seeds and the cloves are grilled and separated. Then the hair grease or pomade and the oil are mixed together, separately. The powders are then combined in a mortar and mixed together along with some of the oil/grease mixture. Then all of those ingredients are mixed together to create a substance that mimics soil. Then the Missic and the Samour are mixed together and ground into a fine powder and added to the soil-like mixture.
After the hair is damp with water, the mixture is applied from roots to ends, with extra mixture applied on the ends. They ensure the hair is thoroughly coated with the mixture before moving to the next section of hair. The mixture is applied every 3-5 days beginning at childhood. There are some who attribute their hair length to genetics. However, the documentarian notes how her mother and grandmother are members of this tribe and do not have hair this length. So the length they achieve must be attributed to their unique mixture and the frequency in which the treatment is applied. The women in the tribe also state their length is not due to genetics, because it is not applied to their edges, which are very short. If genetics was the primary factor, all of the hair on their head would be that length.
This mixture provides extreme moisture to the hair. So after the treatment is applied, the hair is sectioned off and braided to retain moisture until it was time to apply the mixture again. The mixture is applied by hand without any styling tools, which helps reduce mechanical damage. Mechanical damage is normal “wear and tear” that occurs just by us handing our hair, such as when we wash, comb or brush it. While this regimen fits the lifestyle of the women in this region, it may not be realistic for any of us since the mixture is not washed out. So imagine applying deep conditioner to your hair every 5 days, never washing it out and then repeating that process your whole life. In addition to that aspect, there are no local suppliers who source the ingredients. And even if you found the supplier in Chad or Sudan, I’m sure the shipping transit time would be lengthy and expensive.
So….since it appears none of us will be using this mixture anytime soon, how about I share with you some practical length retention tips from Sharae in Seattle?! Lol. Does that work? Ok. Great!
1. I keep my hair moisturized by doing the LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method 3 times per week. I make sure the section of hair is thoroughly coated with product and I add extra product to my ends. After moisturizing, I put my hair in 6 braids
2. On the nights I don’t do the routine above, I spritz my ends with a combination of water and aloe vera juice
3. At night I always sleep with my hair tied with a satin scarf or sleep on a satin pillow case
4. During the week, I style my hair in buns or a soft braid. I usually don’t wear my hair out in a twist out, braid out, or wash-n-go until the weekends
5. On wash day, I make sure to deep condition my hair. After applying the deep conditioner, I use my Hair Therapy Wrap to open my hair cuticles to allow for maximum product absorption
6. When I am detangling, I only do so on soaking wet hair with lots and lots of Aussie moist conditioner. I detangle with a wide tooth comb since that works better for me than a Denman brush
7. I rarely apply heat to my hair. On occasion if I do a wash-n-go, I will diffuse my hair. The last time I blew out my hair was around 2010 or 2011 when I had box braids. And I can’t even recall the last time I flat-ironed my hair. It may have been when I had my last relaxer in 2009
8. When I am styling my hair, I try to use my hands as much as possible to reduce the possibility of suffering any mechanical damage
9. I try to keep my ends trimmed. I don’t trim on a set schedule. I just look at my ends and trim if needed
10. By experimenting with different products, I’ve learned what ingredients my hair likes. So I intentionally search for products that contain those ingredients. In addition to aloe vera juice, I know my hair thrives from glycerin, coconut oil, honey, and shea butter
After seeing the health and length of their hair, there are some obvious benefits to this treatment: all natural ingredients, applying the treatment on a consistent basis, handling the hair with the least amount of manipulation as possible, and maintaining a long-term protective style. If the ingredients were more widely available, I think it would be worth it to try the treatment as part of your wash day regimen, perhaps in place of your current deep conditioner. Oh, and of course, you would wash it out!
What are some of your favorite length retention tips? Or are there some new things you will now incorporate into your regimen to help you achieve your healthy hair goals?