What factors determine Hair Growth?
- Diet & Nutrition
- Medical Conditions
- Styling Techniques
- Overall Hair Care Maintenance
How we take care of our hair has a direct affect on how our hair grows!!! Yes, over-styling and rough handling of your hair may be the reason you are not experiencing proper hair growth. African American hair must be handled with extreme care because our hair is very fragile.
Despite all of the myths and beliefs, African American hair CAN and DOES grow! Our hair grows just like everyone elses. Hair breakage is the major reason we are not retaining length as our hair grows. Our hair is breaking faster than we can grow it.
Most people are under the false impression that our hair is breaking because of dryness. Moisture is important, but it is NOT the main reason for hair breakage.
It's the things that we do to our hair that is preventing us from seeing hair growth.
Improper styling techniques, over-handling and how we care for our hair play an important role in how our hair grows. Take a look at the list of things many of us do to our hair that prevents it from retaining length.
- Over-processing from chemical relaxers - Just about everyone would agree that during retouch time, the relaxer almost always overlapped onto previously relaxed parts of their hair. Only the NEW growth is supposed to be relaxed.
- Braiding hair too tightly - I can remember stylists recommending that I take Tylenol before arriving to get my braids done! I was told to do this because it was expected that I would have a headache afterwards because the braids would be tightly done. Many of us were fooled into thinking that our braids had to be done tightly in order to last and to keep them from coming out (i.e. as with braided extensions. DO NOT allow stylists to perpetuate this myth. Braids worn too tightly can cause traction alopecia which is the leading cause of hair loss amongst African American women!
- Heat - Heat from curling irons, hooded dryers, pressing combs, and blow dryers are very damaging to our hair. If you can see smoke coming from the barrel of a curling iron or pressing comb, it is TOO HOT to be applied to your delicate, fragile hair. Use the lowest heat possible along with a heat protectant to minimize unnecessary damage to your tresses.
- Various methods of hair extensions - Any hair extension or weave method that requires glue & heat is extremely damaging to our hair. This would also include glued-in hair extensions. Sewn in weaves are more expensive, but is perhaps a better way to go because hair is normally cornrowed and protected as extensions are sewn into them.
- Spritzed hair styles - These are styles that "freeze" the hair into place. This stuff is very damaging to black hair. Anything that makes the hair hard and crunchy should be left alone.
- Vigorous rubbing of hair - When drying hair, do NOT vigorously rub the hair with a towel to dry it. Always remember that our hair needs to be handled with extreme care. Gently pat the hair dry.
- Greasing & Oiling the scalp - This is a definite NO-NO. Yes, back in the days when we were young, some of our parents often greased our scalp. It was fairly common back then. However, nowadays it has become widely known that oil, grease, and pomades can clog the pores of the scalp. These clogged pores suffocate the hair follicles and lead to unnecessary hair loss (i.e. oil folliculitis). Oils should be applied directly to hair only, not to the scalp.
- Combing methods - Yes, the way we comb our hair can cause breakage. Be patient and gentle with your hair when combing. Use a wide tooth comb to gently detangle hair before combing.
- Night scarves - Most of us are already aware that satin scarves are the way to go. However, be sure to rotate the position of the scarf when wrapping hair at night so that the point where the knot is tied does not always rest in the same place. The top (forehead) area is ideal since most people tend to sleep on their backs or sides.
These are just a few of the things that we do to our hair that prevent us from seeing and retaining growth. We love to express ourselves through our hair. It's ok to change up your style every so often. However, too much styling can prove disastrous for our hair and it's growth. Our hair needs to be handled gently at all times and left alone as much as possible to prevent breakage.
What can I do to promote Hair Growth?
Here are a few things that are known to help promote hair growth.
- Drink Your Water and lots of it - Many people with long healthy hair & skin will tell you that they drink the recommended daily amount of 8 glasses a day. Models (i.e Tyra Banks) and celebrities (i.e. Jada Pinkett-Smith) have all attested to the benefits of drinking water.
- Diet & Nutrition - Eating healthy plays a very important part in hair growth. Your hair needs the proper nutrients in order to look it's best and to grow at it's optimum length.
- Minimize Heat - Heat is NOT our friend. Avoid it as much as possible. If you must use heat, then always use a heat protectant to minimize damage.
- Handle hair with extreme care - Be patient and take your time! Our hair is extremely fragile and requires gentle styling, handling, and products.
- Keep your hair clean - shampoo hair regularly to keep your hair follicles from clogging with dirt and excess sebum (i.e. natural oils produced by the scalp).
- Eliminate complex styling techniques - Utilize styling methods that will not cause damage to your hair. Always remember that less is more. Keep it simple. Black hair can not handle extreme styling methods. What are extreme styling methods? Styles that require a freeze wave with 12 pin curls on the right side and shirley temple curls on the left with a ponytail attached to the back:) This is just too much trauma to the hair. Our hair requires styles that are easy to care for and that will result in minimal damage.
- Scalp Massages - Massaging scalp on a regular basis helps to circulate blood and stimulate the scalps production of natural oils.
- Protect your ends - Oil or moisturize your ends daily to help keep them from breaking as your hair grows. Protective Styles are great for this. They help to keep your hair from rubbing against the collar of your shirts, etc.
Ways to Promote Hair Growth
- Protective Styles
- Vitamins & Nutrition