Today I want to tackle a common problem and question I get from my friends and other ladies alike. We all want the inches and mane you see other people (and bloggers heheh) walking around with. In fact i've seen a lot of women give up on the quest for growth and resile themselves to the conclusion that their hair won't grow, or black hair doesn't grow.
|Just for lols|
This could not be further from the truth. In fact hair is ALWAYS growing. The fact that relaxed ladies have new growth to retouch every so often, or that you start seeing growth under your weaves, braids and at the base of your cornrows means that your hair is growing.
On average, hair grows about half an inch, that is 1 cm a month. Some may get slightly more than this, others slightly less. So that means the average black, white, coloured, orange, purple or blue person will get 6 inches or 12 cm of new growth year! Isn't that something?
So what is the real issue? What is stopping you from that 6 inches more or less from surfacing in your life each year? It's length retention. You can't control how much hair you grow, but you can control how much of that length you will retain. Keeping the length that you grow each month. Majority of it is lost to bad hair practices, rough handling and dry, unmoisturised hair. The tips im about to give apply to both natural and relaxed hair fyi :-)
The ends of it all
Your ends are the oldest part of your hair. Yes, old and worn. So they need a lot of tender loving care. If you keep your ends healthy, strong and moisturised, they will be less susceptible to breakage.
Keeping your ends healthy means that you nourish them with oils, herbs and conditioners. It is important that you deep condition regularly to keep them tip top.
Moisturised ends are less susceptible to breakage. Dry.Hair.Breaks. That is why it is necessary that you moisturise properly whenever your hair is dry, and on a regular basis. This means also moisturising when you are in a weave, braids or cornrows. Check this post to learn how to do it right.
Remember how I said that they are the oldest part of the strand? To preserve them, you need to protect them from the elements and dryness. That is why we protective style.
Protective styling is when you do a hairstyle which keeps the ends hidden away. When they are not out , they cannot be manipulated and broken. Therefore a protective style preserves your ends and thus your length. Protective styles are braids, weaves, cornrows, buns, roll tuck & pins, and anything that covers and protects your ends.
I'm sure you've heard the popular myth that weaving or braiding makes hair grow. It is not the weave or braids that grow hair. But rather, because you have the style in for a month or two at a time, your ends are hidden and have no opportunity to break off. At the same time, you have new growth coming in. Then when you undo the style, you have the extra retained length. Protect your ends!
Manipulation is another length inhibitor. When you keep playing with your hair and switching styles every two days for variety, your poor strands just suffer and break. So be a pal to them and let them rest. If you are very antsy and can't keep a style for longer than a week, do one or two week styles. That way you only handle your hair once a week. Trust that once you cut down on the play time, you will have some hang time :-)
I cut down my manipulation by working from a braid out from wash day. When my hair is out, I wash it and then put it in about 8 braids or so to dry. The next day I carefully undo the braids and use the textured hair to style my hair for the rest of the week. I do not comb or anything. I just gather the hair into an updo, brush the perimeter for neatness and go.
|Braid out updo..Can you tell I didn't use a comb?|
Trimming is essential to remove dead and split ends. If you keep your splits, they will keep breaking off and leaving the strand to split again. Trimming DOES NOT make hair grow, but when you trim, all the weak, bad, breakage susceptible ends are disposed of. This leaves a uniform stronger 'bunch' of strands that are able to withstand breakage. Trimming also instantly creates a uniform look with of more voluminous strands. So when you see the splits or uneven ends it's time to go.
But when you trim as much hair as you are growing, you won't retain any length. If for instance you trim 1.5 inches every 3 months you are literally cutting away the amount of length you are growing. Leaving your growth to appear stagnant. Some stylists and people say you should trim every three months or with every relaxer. But the best is to trim when you see your ends starting to go bad or when you see split ends. That way you can only trim when necessary.
The other way to retain as much length as possible is to do the search and destroy method. Basically you sit and go strand by strand (or 2 or 3 or 4) and assess each for splits and tapering thinning ends. It is time consuming, but it pays off because you only trim what need to be cut instead of a uniform cut. The search and destroy method is also favoured by those who grow less than the average 1 cm a month a.k.a slow growers.
I stopped trimming every time I saw only one or two splits, or thought my hair was uneven,or on a whim. And just decided to trim when necessary, it really helped with my length retention.
The proof is in the pudding, and putting these tips to practise has helped me retained my length see:
The difference between October 2013 and June 2014 (after a trim) My hair looks thinner in the 2014 pic because I had undone some thick twists just after washday. Day 1 hair after wash day does not have much volume for me.
I'm not done! Lol. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I discuss more things that are preventing you ( and were preventing me) from retaining length.