When Lesley launched her blog, Fresh Lengths, back in 2010 she initially meant to use her platform as a way to journal her natural hair journey. What started as a space for her to “learn and grow” about how to care for her hair, soon transformed into the ultimate go-to space for beauty enthusiasts everywhere. The London-based writer and ASOS Beauty Insider, who simply goes by her first name, blogs about all things curls, glam, and fashion.
Though she’s expanded to makeup reviews and OOTD posts, Lesley still attracts a lot of new readers with her original hair journey story. The blogger’s transformation from relaxed to natural is quite unique compared to traditional natural hair blogs. Her natural hair journey began like most naturalista’s journeys — chemical damage. In 2010, Lesley’s hair suffered severe breakage from relaxer treatments. Instead of doing the usual “big chop” to put her damaged hair out of its misery and start anew with virgin curls, the blogger decided to nurse her hair back to health by going “texlaxed” (a combination of relaxed and natural texture.) “My texlaxed hair looked very similar to my natural hair as I only left the relaxer on for a short period of time to loosen rather than straighten my hair,” Lesley explains on her blog. “I also reduced my use of relaxers in general to once a year and it got to a point where I had more natural hair than texlaxed hair so I decided to cut off all of my ends.” With better hair habits and a few short years, Lesley’s hair was restored in strength and gained incredible length. Thus, the inspiration behind the blog’s name, Fresh Lengths.
Regaining hair health is not always easy, especially when dealing with chemical damage. Proving that there is more than one way to help your hair grow beautiful and strong, Lesley shares with us some of her best mane secrets. Get all the tea below!
So many folks believe the only way to achieve healthy natural hair is via the big chop. Clearly you’ve debunked that myth and proved there’s not just one way to get your hair back on track.
“I was so tempted to big chop and start again, but I wanted to see whether I could actually have long relaxed hair. Whilst trying to find a solution to my hair damage in 2010, I’d stumbled upon so many videos of women who had long relaxed hair. It inspired me to at least try and see if this was possible for myself. I didn’t do anything groundbreaking, I simply cared for my hair. I cut down my heat usage (to once a month rather than everyday), washed my hair more regularly, deep conditioned more often, avoided over-processing with chemicals, used more natural oils and products, and gradually cut off the damage. It took me roughly two years to get from neck length to mid-back length which, considering how damaged my hair was, I was really happy with.”
What’s your best advice to anyone transitioning from relaxed to natural?
“I long-term transitioned, so I grew my hair out over roughly 18 months and cut my hair to gradually get rid of my relaxed ends. I had a lot of textures and length to work with, and that’s the difficulty with long-term transitioning. I found I had a lot of tangling and the points where the different textures meet are really fragile, so you have to have a lot of patience! Moisturizing is absolutely key for anyone who wants to transition, so I used leave-ins and deep conditioners regularly. I avoided using heat, which I think really forces you to get used to styling your curls. Protective and low manipulation styling was also really helpful for me in preventing breakage. Get used to styling your hair curly, rather than straight, so try matching your lengths to your roots not the other way around. It will make the transitioning process so much easier, especially if you try heatless styles like braid outs and twist outs. I also loved experimenting wigs, braided styles and wore buns often to keep my hair protected.”
How important are length goals when regaining hair health?
“It depends. I think setting length goals can help keep you focused and it’s a good way to track the condition of your hair. For example, if you’re noticing that you seem to be stuck at the same length but haven’t actually had many haircuts or trims that’s a good indicator that your hair is probably breaking off faster than it’s growing. Length goals can be counterproductive, too though. Reaching long lengths doesn’t automatically mean our hair is healthy. Sometimes we hold onto split and damaged ends for the sake of longer hair. I was guilty of this in the past, but I have always found that it’s far easier to keep your hair in good condition and in turn gain length if you remove rather than hold onto any damage.”
What’s your go-to hair savior?
“Conditioner always. You can use it for so many things other than conditioning. It’s great for gently cleansing curls without stripping moisture, and you can style with it by mixing it with water and spraying onto curls. I also use it to detangle and protect my hair from shampooing by applying it as a pre-shampoo treatment.”
What’s your fave hair routine?
“In all honesty, I’m really lazy with styling, especially lately as it’s been so humid in London. I just wear my hair in a bun. My routine generally focuses on keeping my curls hydrated as they’re naturally very dry, so there’s lots of deep conditioning and applying leave-ins!”
What’s next for you?
“I’m still blogging and getting used to having natural hair so I’m hoping to figure out some new ways of styling my curls soon. I also recently started working for ASOS as an insider so post about my beauty favorites and ‘fro snaps over on my ASOS Instagram handle (@asos_Lesley).”