Growing Your Natural Hair
The secret is out black girls can have healthy, kinky, curly, coily, LONG hair!!! Our hair does grow, heck everyone hair grows and generally at least 1/4th to ½ inch per month, but the key is GROWTH RETENTION. Grow retention simply means that although your hair does grow every month you have to take those steps necessary to keep your hair healthy & thriving to avoid breakage. This means you have to take care of your ends which are the oldest part of the hair making it easier to break. So how can I retain my length?
Rule #1 Shampoo or Co-Wash at least once a week or every other week
Whether you chose to wash with a shampoo or conditioner, in order to avoid product build up consider washing your hair at least once a week. I know most of you may have been taught that washing your hair dries it out…FALSE!! Natural hair requires water for moisture and to prevent breakage!!! It’s simple, water is now your new best friend and your dry hair depends upon it in order to flourish! Now because you need a clean healthy scalp for hair growth to occur washing the hair is an absolute must but be sure to use a Sulfate-Free moisturizing shampoo or conditioner to avoid stripping the hair of its natural oils.
Rule #2 Deep Condition your hair with a protein or moisturizing conditioner
In order to prevent breakage and to keep your hair moisturized a weekly deep conditioning is a MUST!! You can either deep condition your hair with plastic cap under the dryer for a 20-30 minutes or without heat for at least one hour; again this should be done at least once per week. If needed, you can do a protein treatment at least every 6 weeks or whenever the hair feels very limp, mushy, overly soft etc.
Rule #3 Detangle the hair after applying conditioner.
Tangles lead to breakage. Always detangle wet hair with a wide tooth comb or denman brush after conditioner has been applied to hair.
Rule #4 Rinse hair with cool water
Your final rinse should be with cool water to close the hair cuticles. This is also a good time to do an ACV Rinse. ACV rinses help to remove some types of build-up from the hair while also closing the hair cuticles. Try to think of your hair as being made up of rows of shingles, like you’d see on a roof. These hair shingles, or cuticles, can be in an “open” position, which makes the hair strand feel rough to the touch and look dull. Being that hair has a naturally low (slightly acidic) pH, things like vinegar rinses can help close the hair cuticle and lock in moisture. ACV rinse can remove product buildup, restore the pH balance of the scalp and hair, and promote blood circulation in the scalp–which can stimulate new hair growth–and give the hair a soft, healthy sheen.
Apple Cider Vinegar Mix
1-2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 cups room temperature distilled water
Rule #5 Always use a water based leave-in conditioner.
After deep conditioning your hair you should ALWAYS apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair to retain moisture. A good leave-in is one that is water based.
Rule #6 Keep your hair moisturized!
Kinky, curly, coily hair is the easiest to break when dry that is why it is crucial to keep your hair moisturized at all times. Because the ends of your hair are the oldest and are more prone to breakage you should focus on moisturizing and sealing your ends every day. After applying your leave-in conditioner apply a water based moisturizer then seal the moisture in with an oil and/or butter to trap moisture in the hair.
***Feel free to thank me later!
Rule #7 Air Dry or Limit the use of direct heat.
Stay away from pressing combs which can easily burn the hair. Opt for a tourmaline / ceramic iron to straighten your hair. Natural hair wearers sometime misjudge how damaging heat can be. The use of direct heat will at some point result in heat damage. Always remember to apply a heat protectant such as grape seed oil before using heat. Heat should only be used on clean hair.
Rule #8 Wear protective styles.
Protective styles are worn to protect the ends of the hair which are the oldest and are more prone to breakage. When wearing a protective style hair ends are tucked away, protecting them from rubbing against your shirt collar and/or being exposed to heat, the sun, or cold drying air. Styles may include two strand twists, flat twist, braids, buns, up-dos, weaves, or any style that helps to protect the ends of your hair. Protective styling is a good way to maintain growth retention.
***When wearing a protective style stay away from wool collars or hats.
Staying away from wool collars and hats is a good idea if you want to prevent breakage. The constant rubbing of the wool against the hair will surely result in breakage at that particular area. If you must wear wool, I suggest that you line the inside of the hat and/or collar with a satin scarf.
Rule #9 Know the difference between breakage and shedding.
If you see a white bulb (hair follicle) at the end of the hair strand, this would be considered normal shedding. If you don’t see the follicle this may be considered hair breakage.
Rule #10 Protect your hair at night.
Always sleep in a silk/satin scarf or bonnet or use a silk/satin pillow case. Sleeping with a cotton scarf or pillowcase will cause the hair to dry out. Cotton is very absorbent and will absorb moisture from the hair.
Rule #11 Keep your natural ends trimmed.
You don’t have to trim as often as those who have chemically processed hair. This is only because the cuticle portion of the hair strand has not been exposed to chemicals and will take longer to split. I would suggest clipping your ends every 3-6 months. If you are natural and wearing color, I would definitely trim a little more often to prevent breakage. An easy way to trim your own hair is to try the two strand twist method. After twisting to the end, clip off 1/4th to ½ inch. Perform this on each twist until all of your hair is clipped. It is harder to detect split ends on natural hair but they do exist.
Rule #12 Do not comb dry hair while it is dry.
You should only comb your hair while it is in its wet state. This will remarkably cut don’t on any breakage that you may be experiencing and result in a thicker head of hair. Always use a wide tooth comb. (The only exception to this rule is if you are wearing your hair in a straight style which should be infrequent.) If you are wearing twist-outs, braid outs, bantu knot sets, afro puffs etc., you should be finger combing your hair on a daily basis and not combing it.
Rule #13 Exercise and eat a well-balanced diet rich in vitamin and minerals.
This not only benefits your hair but it also benefits your whole body! Try to drink lots of water. If your body is dehydrated then so is your hair.
Rule #14 Avoid hair stylist who don’t value healthy hair.
Some stylist focus more on hair ‘styling’ and less on hair ‘health’. Find a stylist who specializes in healthy hair. If your stylist is scissor happy, heat happy or chemical happy…you will never see any results.
Remember to be patient, consistent, and have fun!!
(credit: Saleemah Cartwright from http://www.healthyhairjourney.com )