The secret to natural hair growth for anyone who doesn’t suffer from specific medical issues, lies in one thing and one thing alone:
RETAINING. HAIR. LENGTH.
A lot of people have the misconception that their hair “isn’t growing” or that their “non-mixed genetics predestine” them to poor growth rate- however, these things are untrue.
Although genetics does play a part in whether or not you grow hair at a rate of 3/4″ or 1/2″ a month, what is really happening is that a lack of understanding of the hair on your head has led to poor care practices and hence poor length retention.
Some of the real enemies of hair retention include (again, with the exception of medical issues):
- Mechanical damage (damage sustained due to handling, styling, and friction against the hair)
- Dryness, leading to split ends (or split shafts- right in the middle- OUCH!)
To combat the problem, you need to get to know your own hair, and learn to take good care of it- helping it grow healthy, and long.
To start you off, here are 5 ways to help you retain length.
Our hair is notoriously dry. Due to our curls and kinks, sebum (the oil our skin and scalp produce) is unable to travel down the hair shaft as effectively as in straighter hair textures and seal moisture into the hair shaft. In addition to that, afro-carribean scalps do not produce quite as much sebum as Caucasian or asian scalps do. To make matters even worse, when we shampoo with most store-bought shampoos, what little oil we do produce is stripped away.
For this reason, we need to apply oils to our hair when damp to help do the job our sebum has trouble doing. It is essential that you keep your hair moisturised to aid its flexibility and maintain the structure of the proteins it is made of. For more on HOW to moisturise, click here.
It is possible to over-moisturise, over-condition or cause what we call Hygral fatigue in your hair, which leads to weaker strands that are more likely to break off. To combat this, hair must be conditioned with the right conditioners at the right time. Not everytime moisturising conditioner- sometimes protein treatment too. And NO, eggs are NOT suitable for protein-treating your hair, no matter what you’ve heard, but more on that later.
- Protect your ends
This one is simple- find youself a bonnet like this one, or a satin pillowcase, to reduce the mechanical damage and friction your hair is being subjected to- not to mention the moisture being sapped out of it by cotton pillowcases and similar fabrics. Another way to do this if your hair is longer, is to pineapple it with a satin scarf.
- Protective styling
By this I mean, put your hair into a style that enables you not to touch your hair for a while- and protects the majority of the hair from mechanical damage. Protective styling also significantly decreases the rate at which your hair loses moisture. Styles such as braids (pictured), twists and cornrows (as long as they aren’t too tight), as well as wigs (like this one I love so much) and weaves can all serve brilliantly as protective styles to help you retain length. NEVER leave a protective style in longer than six weeks, however, or you will soon find the effects to be counter-productive. Find out why, here.
Trimming only when needed is essential to retaining your length- for what one would think would be obvious reasons- if you cut off the same amount from your ends as you just grew, it won’t look like your hair has grown. “Seek-and-destroy” means to seek out frayed or split ends, knots and hyper-extended (overstretched, damaged) bits, and snip them out as soon you see them so they don’t get worse. ALWAYS use specialist hair shears for this like these, as any other scissors may cause further damage, and do not use your hair shears for anything else so they don’t get blunt and cause damage to your hair.
These are the basic things you need to do in order to help your hair recover from all the abuse it faces daily, and to keep it healthy. Try this for a month and come back to me. I guarantee you’ll see a difference!
Take care now, and as always: may your skin glow, and your hair grow!