One of the biggest myths out is that African American hair doesn’t have the ability to grow as much as other ethnicities. WOMP! So untrue. Any hair can grow easily with the proper care. As a natural girl, I’ve experienced so much growth just by cutting out harsh chemicals in my hair care regimen alone. The natural, coily texture of black hair is fragile and not many people know what it takes for our hair to thrive (shoutout to all the natural vloggers on YouTube, y’all the real MVPs). So if you’re interested in learning how to grow long, luscious locks keep reading for some great tips.
I love wearing my fro out, especially now that my growth is way more noticeable, but doing so can keep you from getting closer to your desired length. As wonderful as a great curly fro is, it leaves your ends exposed and that can lead to trouble. While your curls are blowing in the wind as you channel your inner Diana Ross, they are tangling and dragging again car seats, coats, shirts, and sweaters. Or, if you’re like me, you constantly are running your fingers in your hair and that leads to breakage. The ends are the oldest and driest parts of your hair, which is why its so important to keep them safe. Protective styles do just that. Havana twists, box plats, wigs, and weaves (done properly by licensed professionals and not in a $50 weave shop *shade*) are all great ways to protect your hair. Wearing a silk or satin scarf or sleeping on a pillow case in either at night is equally as important.
AVOID DIRECT HEAT
Black hair tends to be drier than others, so overuse of blow dryers and straighteners definitely don’t do any good. Air drying is always the best option for your hair, but if you’re in the shop opt for the hood or bonnet drier instead. When you’re at home and you absolutely must use a blow dryer or flat iron be sure to coat your hair with some type of oil first (I love olive oil), and use a heat protectant for good measure.
CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION!
I used to be so afraid to shampoo my hair because I knew shampoos strip the hair of moisture, and I wasn’t trying to have all that drama (my hair was dry enough!). But there’s this great little thing called conditioner that settles all of that. Shampoos cleanse your scalp, while conditioners replenish the moisture that gets lost in the process. And, actually, if your scalp isn’t too dirty you can always co-wash your hair. What’s that? Co-washing is when you cleanse your hair using only a conditioner or cleansing conditioner. I like to do this in between washes because when my hair is properly conditioned it retains a lot more moisture, which is what you want. But be careful not to over condition. Also, make sure you’re utilizing a leave-in conditioner and a deep conditioner at least once a month.
NO MORE ALCOHOL
Products that contain alcohol strip the hair of excess oils, which is counterproductive. You can look at the ingredients of any given product and not physically see the word “alcohol”, but don’t be fooled. There are other products that can cause just as much damage. Steer clear of the following:
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Propylene glycol
- Mineral oil or petroleum
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Sodium laureth sulfate
- Urea DMDM hydantoin
Thick hair can be tough to work with, you have to be patient with it. While combing your tresses always remember to be gentle. When you’re detangling treat your hair as you would a young child’s, carefully and gently. Divide your hair into sections, start at the ends, and work your way up to the root. Never, ever, ever comb from the roots, that causes major breakage. And don’t try to detangle dry hair, that also causes breakage.
While the chemicals in relaxers can be damaging to hair, you still can achieve long hair with the proper regimen. Before using a relaxer always use a scalp protector, this shields your scalp and hair shaft from possible damage from the affect of the chemicals. Only put the relaxer on your roots, this keeps the rest of your hair from being over-processed. Don’t just sit in silence while your scalp burns, that’s insane. You’re edges will be way smoother than you’d hoped for once you’re bald. After you rinse, use a neutralizing shampoo to remove the relaxer. Before I was natural, I’d let the neutralizing shampoo sit in my hair for about five to six minutes just for safe measure.
Like I said before: it’s totally possible to grow your hair out with a relaxer, but it will be a little more challenging. It is so important for you to know your hair and not just trust what your beautician says; at the beginning, middle, and end of the day you’re the one that has to deal with it not them. Know when you need a relaxer, and when you can go without one. Try to stretch it out as long as possible. Some say you should only get them every 8-10 weeks, while others say every three months if you can wait that long.
Black hair needs moisture! Our natural, curly texture makes it difficult for oils to travel from the scalp throughout the hair shaft, so oiling your scalp is not enough. Pay super close attention to your ends and seal them with natural oils. When I wear my fro out, I make a point of making sure my hair is moisturized before I walk out the door. Before I retained the length I have now, I was hesitant to add water to my hair. The shrinkage is real in these streets! I’d just gone natural and hadn’t quite gotten used to my new shorter length (I felt like a bald eagle). Now all of that is behind me, I actually welcome my shrinkage. I’ll wake up, shower, unbraid or knot my hair, spray it with a little water, and add my oil and conditioner. Sometimes, when I’m in a hurry, I’ll un-do it right after I get out of bed, shake it out, hop in the shower, and add my oil and conditioner. The water from the shower lightly dampens my hair all over which I love, because when I’m using a spray bottle I may miss some spots. Adding the oil afterwards helps seal in the moisture really well; adding the water after the oil will only cause it to bead off the hair because oil and water don’t mix (#science). I love doing this in the summer; while my hair is air-drying the air feels so great on my scalp.
There’s a myth floating around that says you must trim your hair once a month, and to that I say WOOOMP! The key to growing long hair is to only trim it when you need to, and that will vary depending on how your hair grows. If you have hair that’s prone to splitting, that may mean every three months. If split ends are a non-factor for you, try to hold out to once or twice a year. And even if you do have to trim your ends often remember, you hair grows from your roots. It is way better to have healthy hair that’s a little shorter than you want at the moment, than having long hair that is completely dead at the ends. Not cute.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
This one is a biggie for me because I live that stressful girl life. Work, school, family, and my relationship (with my awesome, amazingly stellar, sweet, supportive and devilishly handsome boyfriend) are all sources of stress. I often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day; I’ll have to complete reports for work, do homework, find time to blog, wake up in time to make it to church, and try to spend quality time with my honey when we’re not both busy working or half past dead from doing so. My whole life is stress and that can be really bad for my hair growth; stress can cause significant hair loss, and I’ve been there. If you want hair like Rapunzel, you’ll have to find ways to alleviate your stress in a healthy way. Exercising, sitting a quiet place, reading a book, and listening to soothing music (with wine) are all great ways to stamp out the stress in your life.
Following all these tips are great, but they are no good if you’re not eating a healthy diet. You can’t expect to put junk in your body and get Erykah Badu hair. Your hair is mostly protein and needs it to grow, so make sure you include enough of it in your diet. Water is extremely important too and so is iron, vitamin E, and trace minerals like selenium and copper. These all keep your hair in good shape, and they’re great for your body too. I have an iron deficiency and at one point I experienced slight hair loss. You best source of iron in your diet is meat; clams, oyster, and lean meats are great sources of iron. For vegetarians: fortified cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, and spinach are all great sources of iron. The problem with non-animal sourced iron is that the body absorbs iron less efficiently from plants. Its possible to eat a iron rich vegetarian diet and still not get enough of it. Talk to your doctor about your diet and ask for an iron test so they can check on whether you should consider taking an iron supplement. I hope these tips helped you guys, if you have any hair growing tips be sure to leave them in the comments below! Stay beautiful ❤ 🙂