When I initially decided to go extension-free over a year ago I honestly thought I was crazy and didn’t know what I was doing. At the time, my reasoning for doing so was because of an allergic reaction I experienced not on one but two occasions when I had installed box braids with hairpiece that was made from kanekalon. Of course, I could have decided to just avoid the specific brand I used (Darling) and just move on over to another brand that didn’t contain kanekalon, but I had already made up my mind and I really wanted to challenge myself to go without for a year and see how my hair would fare as a result.
I never imagined that making that decision would lead me to do so for more than a year. I’ll be honest and say that of the two years and seven months that I’ve been natural, I only wore hair extensions for a total of five months in the first year after I big chopped, the rest of the time my hair was either too short to braid or I was on this 1 year challenge I committed myself to. Now that I’ll be bringing that challenge to a close once I install my faux locs soon, it got me thinking of the benefits I experienced as a result and why I would recommend it especially for rookie naturals.
The one thing going extension-free taught me was to embrace my hair with everything I like and dislike about it. Because I wasn’t hiding my fro under extensions, I was forced to just rock it as it is and that made me fall in love with my hair and its texture, porosity and density.
Another thing I learnt was my hair, its likes and dislikes, styles that worked for my hair and styles that didn’t. I was forced to learn my hair because I knew I couldn’t just go and install box braids when I was frustrated with it or when I felt things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to, but more importantly I wanted to wear my hair out proudly and confidently. I have a feeling that had I kept my hair hidden this process would have taken a little longer than it did. Finally, it also made me realise that there was no “magic” in hair extensions as I was brought up to believe because hair grows in any case with or without hair extensions.
So, would I recommend this to other naturals? Definitely…especially if you are a rookie natural and are clueless about what to do with your hair. Instead of hiding your hair out of frustration only to take down your protective style and still be as frustrated as you were before installing them, I feel going without for a period of time is the best decision anyone can make for their hair. Protective styles like box braids, weaves and crochet styles are perfect when you need a break from your hair, but nothing beats learning to listen to your hair first because it grows out of your head after all and you have to live with it day in and day out. If you’ve never given this a try, do yourself a favour and challenge yourself. It’s worth it.