Long Hair? You Do Care! 6 Ways to Get It to Grow
Long hair don’t care? Mmhmm…but everyone cares about how to grow their hair to that long length. And for your average black woman, growing long hair is a task of patience and healthy hair maintenance with a few misconceptions dabbled in. Yes, there is a prevalence of misconceptions floating around the black hair community about how to grow that hang time and have it swinging down your back. Relaxed or natural there is a scientifically backed method to growing your hair that really starts from the inside out. Here are 5 tips on long hair growth for Black women.
1. Relaxed or Natural it’s the same principles for hair growth.
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Doesn’t matter what team you are on the FACTS to growing your hair long are the same for both. While a relaxer is a chemical alteration to the hair follicle, it can be properly done to still allow healthy hair growth. Natural hair Nazis, please put down your guns. You can also heat train your hair while growing it out and you’re still following the same general principles that Team Natural will for long hair. I own two books on hair growth for Black women, one by Chicoro who has widely shaped a lot of the natural hair practices that are in vogue today and the other by Cathy Howse, who has relaxed hair. When I was learning to take care of my very coarse natural hair these were the two authors that were recommended. And they both preach the same thing about growing hair to long lengths.
2. Your hair length is not predetermined by genetics.
No, just because you have “Indian in you” doesn’t mean that your genetics have it set in stone that your hair will automatically grow down your back. Genetically speaking your time period of growth is predetermined. But even that is impacted by your blood flow, your eating habits and hormonal changes. Hair doesn’t just stop growing once it reaches a certain length, individual hair follicles stop growing after a certain time period. Your hair has a set anagen period, essentially the growth period, which can range from 2-7 years for hair on your head. Then there is the catagen phase, lasting for three weeks it is where the blood flow stops to the outer part of the hair follicle stopping hair growth. The talagen phase is where the hair actually sheds because it is being pushed out by a new hair follicle. Generally speaking, 85%-90% of your hair is in the anagen (growth) phase, 1-2% is in the catagen (resting) phase, and 10-14% is in the telogen (shedding/new growth) phase. All that to say, genetics do impact how long your hair grows for but this can all be altered by lifestyle choices.
3. Growing hair is not a topical it is internal.
Ladies, I’m sure your local beauty supply store loves that you’re buying every topical product to slather in your hair in hopes that it will grow, but to be honest you’re much more likely to find the true hair growth product between the gym and the vitamin store. As stated before, blood flow/circulation helps to encourage hair growth. Exercise ensures good blood circulation. Scalp massages also help. Vitamin B, E and Biotin help with stimulating the growth of strong hair follicles and can positively impact the anagen period of hair growth. Topical products, like creams and lotions and can NOT increase the rate of hair growth, that is all internal. But the right topical products can help to preserve the hair follicle and help to retain length. Just keep in mind these topical products have to be backed up by the internal process. Eating healthy, working out and getting the right nutrients (including lots of water) will go much further than any topical product.
4. Growing hair is about retaining length.
Yes, the real art to growing hair is to prevent breakage and excessive shedding. For coarser textures that may take a bit more care and patience then it does for others. But it is the same principle for everyone. The only living part of the hair is the root that is under the skin. Therefore, when you are ‘growing’ your hair you are preserving the length of the follicle (why protective styles matter), while internally taking care of the root. Remember exercise and diet? Can’t be stressed enough. It’s also important to pay attention to what you’re putting on top of your hair. And just because you have a relaxer doesn’t mean that you can slather on any product that you want. Generally speaking everyone wants to avoid parabens and sulfates.
5. Let your scalp breathe!
We know you love all the products. The pomades, the gels, the natural oils. Yes our hair thrives on moisture; but it’s also important that you let your scalp breathe. Product build-up is a real issue. If the pores on your scalp are clogged, the follicle underneath the skin is being stifled.
6. Looking to grow your hair, start with a wash!
Don’t be overwhelmed. Everyone has the opportunity to grow long hair. It might not be at the same rate as others but with patience and a healthy hair regimen you can reach bra-strap length and beyond hair. The first step is to let go of that age old myth that black women can’t wash our everyday and can go months between washes. Yes, washing your hair, especially with a sulfate-based shampoo, will strip your hair of essential oils. This is why you should be mindful of the products you are using. Wash your hair every 4-7 days with sulfate and paraben free products, following that with the most important moisturizing routine. Washing hair helps to stimulate the blood flow to the scalp and remove build up so that your scalp can breathe, this all promotes hair growth. Starting with a good wash routine is the first step in growing long hair.
Alright, ladies it’s time to sound off. Did you believe any of these myths? What tips and tricks do you have for growing long hair? Which products have worked for you and which sent you on a wild goose chase. Do share!
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