There is so much bad information circulating about black hair growth. I want to start by addressing the myth that black hair doesn’t grow.
First of all, if that was the case people wouldn’t need relaxers every two months. So yes, our hair does grow, and it can even grow long.
The problem is many people have trouble retaining length (breakage) — which is a big difference from not growing.
I’ll talk about length retention later, but let’s go back to growing black hair.
Genetics Play a Huge Role
Everyone is always searching for that miracle product that will give them the long tresses they’ve always desired. But the truth is hair growth is largely determined by genetics.
Look at the women in your family and see if you notice any kind of length pattern.
Some people simply have genes that help their hair grow faster and longer than others. That’s definitely the case in my family.
Many women on both my mom and dad’s side have longer hair, and my hair has always grown at a pretty good rate.
Now, don’t get discouraged. Genetics aren’t the end all be all. It’s just something to keep in mind when you’re comparing your hair to someone else’s.
If your hair is super kinky (meaning your strands have a lot of bends/turns, draws up and tangles easily), then it can be more difficult to grow your hair longer.
This DOES NOT mean long hair is unattainable. It just means that it may require more attention than someone with a looser pattern.
Because when your hair is very kinky, oils from your scalp do not travel down the strands as easily. As a result, your hair may be dry, more brittle and prone to breakage.
Don’t get discouraged. At least you now understand why you have trouble retaining length.
So the key is taking extra time to ensure your hair is properly moisturized and wearing a lot more protective or low-manipulation styles (rod sets, straw sets, etc).
It’s not about trying to alter your texture or feeling discouraged because you don’t have a certain hair type. It’s about understanding your hair, embracing it and giving it what it needs so you can have the length you desire.
Live a healthy lifestyle
Before we get to the outside, we need to take care of the inside. Yes, what you eat, drink and how you treat your body has an effect on your hair. You need to eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, drink enough water and exercise regularly for your body’s overall health. Since your hair grows directly from your body, when you treat your body well, your skin, nails and hair benefit, too. People who suffer from vitamin deficiencies and unhealthy diets can suffer from dry, brittle hair.
This sounds counterproductive if you want your hair to grow longer, but trims help get rid of dry, damaged and split ends which can work their way up the shaft of your hair, causing even more damage. A trim is defined as removing ¼ to ½ inch of hair, nothing more. If your stylist insists on cutting off inches of hair every time you go in for a visit, your hair won’t get longer, so either find a professional who understands exactly how much hair you need removed or learn to trim your hair yourself. Depending on the chemicals you have in your hair as well as your daily routine, you may need a trim anywhere from every six weeks to six months. The better you care for your hair on a day-to-day basis, the less often you’ll need trims.
There’s no need to brush your hair 100 strokes per night before going to sleep. In fact, the less you do to black hair, the more it flourishes. This ties in with the next step, protective styling, since many of the hairstyles that fall into that category become low-manipulation ‘dos once they’re in place. Remember: just because black hair, especially in its natural state, looks strong, this is a fragile hair type that doesn’t do well with too much handling.
Once your hair is a certain length, you might want to wear it loose all the time to let everyone know just how long it is. You want to feel the wind blowing it to and fro, but wearing your hair in protective styles more often than not will help you retain that precious length. Protective styles keep your ends – the oldest and often driest parts of your hair – from rubbing against clothing, pillowcases and car seats. By keeping these ends up and out of sight, you hold in the moisture your hair needs and prevent dryness that can lead to breakage. Protective styling also applies to nighttime care; a silk or satin hair cover or pillowcase is better for the health of your hair versus cotton.
While occasional flat iron and curling iron use is usually fine (so long as the heat isn’t too high), you should minimize heat styling as much as possible. Choose hairstyles that don’t rely on so much heat, as well as gentle styling methods like wraps, wet sets and twists. Too much heat will result in dry, brittle hair that easily breaks, resulting in little to no length gains.
Condition, Condition, Condition
This is crucial for having healthy hair. Besides the right shampoo and conditioner, use leave-in conditioners as well. You also need a good deep conditioner; use it at least twice a month. Well-moisturized hair is less prone to dryness and breakage, leading to more hair retention. It’s very difficult to over-condition black hair, so feel free to apply the product you need whenever your tresses feel dry.
Finally, it’s important to note, how well you take care of your hair will have more to do with your rate of hair growth and length retention than anything else.
Keep yourself healthy by eating right. Don’t damage your hair with exotic treatments or harsh hair care products. Don’t expose your hair to extreme heat or potentially harsh chemicals/elements. Comb carefully and be aware of how medications can influence hair growth.