So let me start off by saying that there are a lot of blog posts out there that promise to give you the secret to longer, stronger, healthier hair, but in reality they are selling you a dream.
In this post I will help shed light on what you can do to optimize your hair growth, as well as the things that are stunting growth.
1 . Understand Your Hair Type FIRST
It is imperative that you understand your hair type first before you can create any effective regime and achieve healthy long hair. And by hair type I don’t just mean 3c or 4b used in the Typing System. When we talk about hair type we are talking of your density, texture, and porosity.
In order to provide your curls with nourishing moisture, protein balance, scalp clarification, and weightless hair we need to first check your hair fibers. Understanding how to feed your curls and protect them will provide you with the foundation to retain length and acquire longer hair.
To go further into hair porosity, density, and texture please see Mixed Hair Care: Porosity, Texture, and Density 101.
2 . Stay Away from the “Miracle Oils”
Miracle Oils surround the Natural Hair community like bees to a hive. They may feel good while they are applied, but these oils are often filled with additives that clog the scalp skin creating product build up, like mineral oil. There is no miracle oil that will grow your hair, but oils will stimulate the scalp and provide nutrients needed for optimal growth.
Our hair and scalp needs oils that have the same amino and fatty acid make up as Sebum, the hairs naturally produced oil, but too much can cause problems rather than prevent. When buying hair oils consider your hair texture and porosity. Fine high porosity hair needs a light oil that penetrates and absorbs fast while rebuilding the hair cuticle. Coarse low porosity hair needs a heavier oil that penetrates and seals the moisture applied to the scalp and cuticle.
Plant based oils and juices generally come close to the same fatty ester-waxes, amino acid levels, and pH balance that our hair requires. For example, the use of Aloe Vera juice on your scalp balances the pH (potential Hydrogen) levels conditioning and moisturizing the scalp. Not only does Aloe Vera juice help destroy product build up and nourish your scalp, it also brings your hair’s acid mantle (the hair’s natural barrier to fight off foreign bacteria and undesirable contaminants) back to the pH level it is intended to be at ( i.e. a pH of 4 – 5 1/2).
3 . Product Build Up Does NOT Build Hair
For us curly hair girls products are the life blood to any well balanced curly hair regime. Though methods like the L.O.C method are important to the hairs style and managability, the product build up that comes with it, especially for low porosity curls, is a killer.
In order to grow longer flourishing hair, our scalp skin needs to be clean and free of debris. Our scalp skin needs to be clean, have optimal blood circulation, and be free of flakage in order to grow lustrous hair.
When our scalp skin is clogged from products like leave in conditioners, gels,voils, and hair sprays our hair follicles become clogged. When our hair follicles are clogged our scalp is unable to breathe and blood circulation becomes poor. Unable to breath, the scalp’s new growth hair has to push past the blockage in the hair follicle making the new hair thin, fragile, and lower quality hair compared to the rest of the hairs on our head.
Keeping a clean scalp is not as hard as it may sound. Dependent on porosity and texture hair should be washed once a week, clarified once month, deep conditioned and steamed once to twice a month, and hydrated every couple of days. Always remember to replace the moisture stripped away by cleansing otherwise dryness will occur.
4 . Stop the Inversion Method Madness
Do you remember the Youtube craze where beauty gurus were swearing that 5 to 10 mins with your head upside down while massaging your scalp promoted vast hair growth?? Well do you think they are still doing that? *crickets* . Of course not!
Not to ruin any lives out her by this truth, but the inversion method doesn’t work!
Your scalp has an ample network of blood vessels pumping blood to your scalp, regardless of position. But due to genetics, health issues, medications, manipulation and many other factors optimal blood flow may not be circulating to the scalp.
To combat low scalp blood circulation and optimize blood flow, massage the scalp with stimulating oils such as peppermint or tea tree. Steaming your hair during a deep condition will also enable your scalp pores to open, accepting moisture and enabling better conditioner penetration.
Getting the blood flowing to the scalp not only feels good but also helps the plyability of the scalp and provides critical circulation for the hair follicles optimal growth.
5 . Hydrate Your Body to Hydrate Your Scalp
Hydration is key to growing long healthy hair, not only on the scalp surface but from the body within. Your hair craves moisture and thrives best in moist rich environments. This is why we make much efforts in sealing in our styles with products rich in moisturizing ingredients.
Drinking a lot of water is crucial for proper hydration, I will not tell you to drink a certain amount as everybody has different needs with their water intake. But it is very important to know that sodas, juices, water powder mixes are not hydration. They are loaded in sugars and do nothing for your hair let alone your body.
If you are like me and need a boost in your water because plain water is boring, why not try adding some citrus or drinking teas. I like to prepare a 4 liter jug of water mixed with lemon, oranges, and rosemary and drink as much as I can throughout the day. I do NOT drink all 4 liters in one day, let me be clear, I just drink as many glasses as I can when I’m thirsty throughout the day.
6 . Protective Styles Grow Real Length
In order to grow long healthy hair you need to use low manipulation styling. Low manipulation styling comes in the form of braids, twist outs, cornrows, wigs, etc. Used to keep your hair in a style for days, weeks, even months at a time with little to no combing or manipulation.
While in a protective style one generally does nothing to the hair. Scalp access is key to protective styling, while hair is in a style moisture, conditioning, and cleansing is at the scalp level.
Protective styles are fantastic for low manipulation styling to let hair grow freely on its own. Without manipulation breakage from combing, pony tail holders, styling instruments and others, hair is able to retain it’s length.
Only when the style is taken down will one lose hair that has naturally reached the end of its growth cycle which will shed in the protect style. This is very normal and is expected to happen.
Despite what many may think dreadlocks are not a protective style. Dreadlocks have their length due to the constant dreading process of old shed hair combining with the new growth hair. Unlike a protective style in which you can undo the hair and take out the shed hair, dreadlocks are an accumulations of all the shed, broken, and growing hairs matted together.
7 . Everyone Has A Terminal Hair Length
At some point our efforts may not be enough to reach our hair goal length. Everyone has a terminal length that their hair will grow, not everyone has the capability to grow waist length hair.
Dependant on family genetics one’s hair will grow to a predetermined point be it shoulders, waist, or even down to the floor. Don’t be fooled by a family’s hair portrait as regime, products, and styling account for length rentetion. Whether you are doing the most for your hair or not, your hair will reflect it with great retention or shaft breakage.
It’s suggested that you document your progress by way of pictures when you start any new hair growth regime to track your retention and terminal length.
Following a proper regime and understanding your hair’s needs will allow you to set a stage for your hair to be stronger at the fiber, resulting in longer hair. There is not one thing that will grow your hair, but a concentrated combination of efforts. So let us know, what is your favorite hair growth tip that you live by?