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Extensions, wigs, and weaves can be addictive, even a crutch at times. Although they make for effective protective styling when properly installed, maintained, and removed, it is important to care for your own hair so that your efforts are not counterproductive. Some people consistently transition with extensions for two to three years with the expectations of reaching healthy, waist length hair, but only a few are successful. Usually, when extensions are installed and removed improperly and left in too long, people experience extreme brittleness, breakage, and split ends. It is important to care for your own hair, and if you desire but hesitate to wear your hair out more often, here are three things you may need to accept to curb your expectations.  

Read more: Ask Dr. Kari: Effective Protective Styling

Stop worrying about your edges

There is nothing wrong with achieving a polished look with edge control, but if you struggle with thinning edges, just consider letting them be. The last thing you want is for your hairline to keep receding due to traction alopecia. There is nothing wrong with edge control, but if you do prefer a sleek hairline, use it sparingly and opt for applying the product to your hair with your fingers and a light spritz of water. Then secure it with a satin scarf the night before for smooth results in the morning. If you prefer using a brush, reserve using it for last minute occasions. Most of the people I know with full hairlines (including myself) do not bother slicking down their edges, especially not every day. Remember that the less tension and the less manipulation maintain the damage.

Stop worrying about frizz

This is nothing but an uphill battle, especially when your hair does not naturally have curl definition and especially if you have Type 4, afro-textured hair. Many aspire for the wash and go with no curl out of place, but that is not realistic for everyone. There is nothing wrong with trying different curl definers but product can only enhance a curl you already have and reduce how much humidity disrupts your style. No product will eliminate the effect of humidity. This also applies to loose, stretched styles (e.g. twist outs, flat-twist outs, Bantu-knot outs). The main reason I become a wash and go natural is because Texas is so humid that my faithful flat twisting every night was going in vain when my hair would swell the second I walked outdoors. If you do not care for the wash and go aesthetic or if it causes too many tangles, consider finger coils. You can leave them as is or separate for volume. Finger coils usually require generous amounts of foam setting lotion, styling cream, or gel, so the style withstands humidity pretty well and lasts at least a week and at most two weeks. If you still encounter frizz, rock it! Life still goes on.

Stop worrying about shrinkage

This also means stops obsessing about length. Being concerned about tangles is valid, but being self-conscious about whether others see your hair’s “true” length will leave you disappointed. You have nothing to prove to anyone. There are some naturals who will never achieve a shrunken wash and go or twist out that will suspend below the shoulder but is to their waist when elongated. If you are transitioning until your wash and go reaches your bra strap, you may be transitioning forever. I encourage you to seize the learn how to style your own hair a different stages and not hide protect it until it reaches an expectation that may never come.

Read more: The 411 on Dew Points and Humectants

What did you have to accept and overcome to let go of weaves, wigs, and extensions?