Friday, 18 July 2014

Real Talk: Trimming

You know, one thing I'm grateful for when it comes to my degree is a better understanding of the way the human body works. Now my having a degree in a Life Sciences field doesn't mean that i'm anti- tradition or folk lore etc. See I get that science doesn't know or can't explain everything when it comes to the beautiful thing that is our bodies. In fact i'm all for traditional methods of hair care, hence why I've been using ayurvedic powders for like four years. But see the thing is, is that i'm inquisitive and reflective by nature. That means that I always question why? I spend a lot of time thinking why I do something and then spend a lot of time researching that something, and then at the end of this process, I make a decision as to whether I'm going to continue doing it. I've always done this, it could be something small like "Why do I eat cereal for breakfast?". This thought will lead me to research things like the history of food in different countries, combined with their history of food related diseases/diseases where diet is a risk factor. Or i'll research the impact that industry and food preservation advancements have had on our diets. While considering what I know about nutritional requirements and metabolism and the influence that monetary gain and business has on what is marketed to us as healthy, correct or traditional. The whole process then ends up with a complete restructuring of my diet. Then, Rinse and repeat with another topic. It's an exhausting but thorough and logical process.

See when I first started my hair journey, I looked at my hair like it was something mythical and abstract, something that couldn't be understood. And so for like a year I soaked in any and every piece of advice that could be found on these here internets. I took it all as gospel. However as time went on I started to look at my hair for what it is: a dead fibre. Then I was able to take a more logical approach to my hair care practices.

So let's get logical about trimming. Some people on the internet will stay telling you that trimming your hair makes your hair grow or even makes your hair grow faster. And so I used to trim my hair religiously. I never thought that it would make my hair grow faster but back in those mythical abstract days, I never questioned these practices. I just went along with it. But then I actually asked myself "Why do I trim my hair?".

Cue university and having to spend three years studying the most boring topic ever- Cell biology. You know what I learnt in that time? Cells that are alive talk to each other. They make their presence known in their community of cells. Each cell is aware of itself, it's neighbours and it's environment. When a cell is injured it will freaking cry about that injury (figuratively of course) for all cells to hear and take action. Look at your beautiful, living skin. You see this kinda thing in action every time you get cut. See your skin knows it's been cut and as soon as that happens a host of organised events are triggered to go about repairing that cut. Because your skin is alive and aware. You know what isn't alive and aware? The shaft of your hair. You know what that means? When you cut your hair, it doesn't know it has been cut. It won't send out an SOS signal to your scalp demanding new hair to be created at a faster rate. It is just cut. Because your hair is dead and cannot communicate with your hair follicles in your scalp (which is the only living part of your hair).

This means that the only reasons to cut your hair are for aesthetic preferences or for preservation.
For example if your hair is split and you don't want that split to continue to travel up the hair shaft, you trim. Because hair cannot repair itself. Because it is dead.
Or you may trim to maintain some kind of preferred shape to your hair.
Or you may trim because your ends are overly weathered and frazzled because of the mechanical stress it has been subject to, and you don't want to deal with the extra detangling time it requires, or the extra product it needs to behave so you cut it. Because it cannot repair itself. Because it is dead.

See this is why I haven't cut my hair in over two years. As for trimming, I haven't trimmed my hair in over a year and probably wont for another few months (if at all). Why? How? I'm a finger detangling pro and live completely on low manipulation styles. That means that the mechanical stress that my hair is subject to is minimal, so my ends stay preserved and my splits are infrequent. However when I used to comb my hair and employed other practices that inflicted excessive mechanical stress, my ends stayed chewed. These days if I see a particularly bad split then i'll snap it off (don;t judge me) cut it off. But otherwise my hair is predominately a scissors free zone

So really I just wanted you to know the truth about trimming, that the frequency/ necessity of a trim is completely up to you and your hair care practices. So the next time somebody tells you you need to trim your hair for it to grow give them the side eye they deserve. Also if you find that you're having to trim often because of damage, evaluate your hair care practices and ask yourself what you can do to reduce the mechanical stress to your hair.

I think i'm gonna leave it here. I want to hear from you though. Why do you trim? How often do you trim? Have you ever thought about the reasons for your trimming schedule? Has over trimming ever been a habit that you've had to break? Let me know your thoughts!

Until next time x


  1. This has got to be the best theory I've ever read regarding trimming. So many ppl with no scientific research will tell you that trimming encourages growth. I have no science degree but that logic always seemed ignorant to me.

    1. Hey phoenix,

      I really don't even know where the idea of trimming encouraging growth came from! Before I went to uni it seemed strange to me as well, but I went along with it anyway smh. Then when I started to learn not only about the body but also how to assess the validity of information, I gained confidence to reject the notion despite all of the people saying it was true.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  2. My hair is never neat enough for me to care about how the layers look - so I use my hair scissors for cutting out splits and knots only :)

    1. You know when I first started wearing my hair out, it was incredibly uneven. One half was drastically longer than the other and I thought it was strange so I cut it so it was all level. Then in a few months it was back to being uneven again! That's when I figured one half grows faster than the other and I couldn't care less about evenness LOL. So I'm defs with you, I cut for splits. I used to cut for single strand knots but they came back regardless of my hair practices and moisture levels so I learnt to get over my aversion to them and accepted them as a byproduct of our hairs super curly nature :)

      Thanks for taking the time to comment A Simple Thing!