Monday, June 22, 2009


Wanakee: My Hair Role Model

Last week I did a post on Wanakee, former spokesmodel for the Verifen Complex hair care system. I mentioned in my post titled Cathy Howse vs. Wanakee that Wanakee was one of the biggest black hair care gurus of the early 90s. I was surprised to see how many of you had never heard of her or Cathy Howse. Back when I was just twelve years old, Wanakee served as a great inspiration for me. I thought she and her hair were absolutely gorgeous, so of course I wanted to learn how to take care of my hair so that it could be just as long and healthy as hers one day.

As you all know, I've had my ups and downs when it comes to caring for my hair. I feel like I'm in a down cycle now that I'm trying to recover from the heat damage I've incurred over the past year. I really do want to take all the lessons I've learned and use it to not only help others in their hair care journey, but to also ensure that I NEVER incur damage of any kind again. In order to do that though, I know there are some key things I must do. Avoiding heat as much as possible is one of them. Below are the healthy hair care tips that Wanakee highlighted in the Verifen Complex brochure I acquired years ago. I believe these tips to be universal truths when it comes to attaining and maintaining a healthy head of hair. Her advice is as follows:

#1. Have all dry, damaged ends trimmed away. Then, trim healthy ends regularly every 6 to 8 weeks before they split. (trimming only 1/8 to ¼ of an inch. Remember, if your hair grows 1 inch in 8 weeks and you trim ¼ of an inch, you've gained ¾ of an inch of healthy hair. It may not seem like much, but the inches add up before you know it).

Wash and condition hair at least once every 7 days (waiting longer than this between washings may cause hair to become overly dry and the scalp to become itchy and irritated).

Keep hair lightly protected with Wanakee Oil for the Hair daily (especially the ends. The oil acts on hair much the same way lip gloss does on lips, effectively preventing dryness) and when using heat implements to straighten or curl hair.

As often as possible, wear hair in "protective styles" (this is extremely important in preventing split ends and acquiring noticeable length. The more protective styling, the less ends dy, split and break).

#5. Whenever possible, sleep with hair wrapped or tied up as protection against movement during sleep (be creative, make it look like a daytime style. For example, using a wide spandex band helps prevent hairline movement, while an extra-fine hairnet wrapped around a bun is practically invisible as it stops the ends from rubbing. Night wraps need not be grounds for divorce).

Understand that your hair is growing, and that a healthy state and length is not up to your hair, but is up to you (so be encouraged that your hair will definitely respond to consistent care).

Now obviously, you can adhere to these methods by using products of your choice. As I mentioned in my previous post, I never tried any of the Verifen Complex products, although I did follow Wanakee's advice to a T. I especially love that she advocates regular trims, although I do believe that you can reduce the frequency with which you trim your ends the more you abstain from heat. I've said many times now that I honestly believe that my ends are much healthier and for longer periods of time now that I use little to no heat on my hair. I also love how she mentioned that tying your hair up at night shouldn't be grounds for divorce, as we want to keep our hair healthy, but don't want to look a hot mess doing so, LOL!

I think what impressed me the most about Wanakee's philosophy on hair care is that she really broke down in simple terms how our hair grows and how important it is for us to take care of it in order to retain length. In other words, although she did promote products that she felt assisted the hair in staying healthy, she never made any claims that the products she sold would in fact help one's hair grow. This is what she had to say about hair growth in general:

"Many hair products claim to make hair grow. But the simple truth is that hair growth is an internal function of the body. The body produces this growth at a certain rate of speed, much the same way it does the fingernails. External shampoos and conditioners don't speed that growth rate. Quality hair products are formulated to help you preserve and protect the growth that has already occurred…

Your roots have a life of their own, as you already know if you've ever had a relaxer or permanent color. Touch-ups are needed frequently as evidence that the body is busily producing hair growth. But, it is vital to focus on and protect the ends from damage. When the ends stay healthy at the same time the roots grow out, real progress becomes visible."

I agree with Wanakee 100%, which is why I believe adopting a good diet and exercise regimen is a key step in not only staying physically fit, but also for improving the overall look and feel of one's hair. After all, hair is just a byproduct of what goes into our bodies, so if we're not drinking enough water or getting the vitamins and nutrients we need to stay healthy, all our hair care efforts will really be done in vain. Many ladies ask me about what products to use on their hair to get it to grow, but as Wanakee mentioned, the products we use simply serve to preserve the beauty that already exists.

For more healthy hair tips, visit the Healthy Hair Tips section of


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this!! It really helps to see a woman with wonderful hair advocate for something that helped her achieve her great lengths. I am going to follow her every word so that I can obtain maximum growth and retain as much length as possible.

bluebonnet67 said...

Thanks so much for this article and tips! I don't know why I have never her of Wanakee!

nicole123 said...

This really helped me but most of the information you already provided in your videos. Which is a good thing. thanks so much.

L.S.L. said...

Nice post :) Her hair is so beautiful! Also, thanks for this blog. I was thinking about a relaxer today and had to go back to some of your other posts to remember why I am transitioning.


DPrincess28 said...

Glad you found this info helpful ladies :-)

1twinkeR said...

i really liked this read. thanks for sharing :)