On the blog The Natural Haven JC did two posts on the topic, Is it harder to grow African hair? And on Black girl with long hair, there was a lot of discussion on the topic, What do we mean when we say long/fast-growing hair is genetic?
I hear a lot of black people, Africans, Nigerians say that black people cannot grow long hair. However, I noticed that for the most part as long as you are healthy and your scalp and hair are healthy usually hair will grow out of your scalp. I guess the big question should be, why are we not retaining hair growth and why is the hair on our heads breaking off?
I personally have noticed that my hair is the longest it has ever been since I became natural and since I started practicing what I call “healthy hair practices”. (Thank God cos I'm loving it :)
So let’s talk about what some of those healthy hair practices are:
1.) Minimizing the amount of combing I do to my hair. If I can help it I go about a week or more without combing my hair. It is a fact that afro textured hair is the most fragile of all hair types. Surprise! Afro textured hair is so curly and every curl represents a potential fracture (breaking) point. So the more you tug and comb and yank your hair. The more hair you are loosing to breakage. So for those of us who think our hair is soo hard. The real issue is that it is so fragile because it is so curly.
2.) And when I do comb, I comb my hair damp or wet and sometimes with conditioner in it. You can keep more hair on your head like that.
3.) I try to wash my hair once a week at least. At the beginning of my hair journey I did conditioner washes a lot. That means I would wash my hair with conditioner only and I did this about 3 or more times a week. OR I would just rinse my hair with water. Natural hair loves water because it is the best moisturizer.
4.) Protective styling. In order to protect my hair from wear and tear I do a lot of protective styling like buns, braids, twists. This keeps my hair (especially the ends) from being exposed to unnecessary wear and tear. This has not been a problem for me since I generally dislike sitting down to get my hair done for long periods of hours. Especially when I am not the one doing my own hair.
5.) Limit the amount of heat being used. In fact I have not used a blow drier in months and I have not used a curling iron or flat iron in a year or more. Heat damages the hair, oh yes it does.
6.) Moisturizing often. Afro textured hair needs moisture like no mans business. We need the type of moisture that penetrates the hair and that does not just sit on your scalp. So your hair creams and lotions need to penetrate and actually moisturize the hair. That’s why I like coconut oil and shea butter. It does my hair lots of good. I actually try to moisturize the tips of my hair at night with coconut oil.
7.) The best rule is this: “pay attention, commit to finding out what works and what does not work on your hair, experiment and when you find what works for you stick with it.” It takes time and commitment to get bra strap length hair or waist length hair. If you want it then you are going to have to do the work.
There are many naturals who have broken these hair rules and lived to tell the story with long hair and all but generally I think the above rules have worked for many.
Note: I do fall off the bandwagon sometimes. I may go more than a week without washing my hair or I may comb my hair when it is dry but the above are my general principles and I try to follow them as best as possible.
Here is a youtube video from Rustic Beauty. She has got lots of HAIR and she has loads of hair tips too. Check her out.
And happy Independence Day to all the Nigerians in the house!