Let me start by saying that as long as you are alive, your hair is growing, only slower than you’d like. This post is an attempt to unravel a few reasons why you can’t see the increase in length you have been anticipating.
This is by far the most common reason. With hair often not as long as our Caucasian counter parts, most African women are in constant search for the next miracle pill or product purported to give Rapunzel-long hair in an unrealistically short period of time. If you are a natural hair enthusiast, you are most likely obsessed with length. Constantly pulling, stretching and measuring your hair with a tape, ruler or against your face. Sis, a watched kettle never boils. If you must measure, do so less frequently, perhaps once in 4 months. Give your hair time to grow so when you do measure, there is a noticeable increase.
2. Using Strong Chemicals
From heat to chemical treatments; flat irons, texturizers, relaxers and dyes. These alter the natural state of your hair and have significant potential to cause damage, breakage and loss of length. Avoid these chemicals as often as possible and invest in natural alternatives.
3. Combing Too Often, Aggressively
African hair can be a pain to manage especially in its natural state, and the tendency is to comb forcefully to get all the knots out. Frequent forceful combing as well as improper detangling can cause significant breakage to your hair especially if it is dry and brittle. Spritz with water and then oil your hair before combing. Starting by gently detangling your hair with your fingers, minimise the force and frequency with which you comb. Begin with the tips and work your way up to the root. Don’t comb before and during a wash. It’s pointless really. Comb only when styling.
4. Your Stylist
As we agreed earlier, our hair can be difficult to manage and stylists can be impatient when handling it if not downright careless. Short of breaking your neck, Nigerian stylists will comb your hair with all their might, from root to tip. Before washing they comb. During conditioning, they comb. Before styling, comb. While styling, comb. Don’t be afraid to tell your stylist to be gentle with your hair. It’s your hair and your money and you are about to lose both. Please make it clear that you don’t want your hair combed recklessly. Ask that he/she section and comb only as needed.
5. Poor Nutrition
You are what you eat and that also applies to your hair. If your hair isn’t lustrous with rich colour and volume you probably aren’t eating well. Just like your skin, your hair is affected by your diet and the nutrients you consume. Vitamins and nutrients like iron, zinc and biotin encourage healthy follicles and hair growth. I’ve never used any hair pills and can not make any recommendations. But avocado, fish, eggs, and nuts which contain Omega 3 which are great for your hair.
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6. Washing Too Much and Too Often
Depending on its chemical content, washing with shampoo can strip the hair of its natural oils leaving your hair dry and brittle. I prefer to wash once a month. Women with the longest African hair in Chad never wash at all. In my opinion, if you wash less frequently, you comb less frequently and you give the hair more time to grow.
7. Poor Protective Styling
Protective styling when done correctly is helpful, however be sure that these styles are not too tight. Avoid braids that are long and heavy. The weight and gravitational pull eventually uproots your hair from the follicle causing balding. I prefer to stick to traditional weaving and threading.
8. Excessive Styling
The temptation to keep up with every new styling trend is dangerous. Styling on a daily or weekly basis means you end up combing your hair more than advisable, encouraging breakage.
African hair is thin and loses moisture very quickly, especially in this Harmattan season. It is important to oil your hair generously at least once a week, with any of the popular natural choices which include Coconut oil, Shea butter or Argan oil. Section your hair and oil from root to tip.
After all is said and done, you can’t beat your genes. They control the speed at which your hair grows and its texture. All the tips mentioned above can only serve to improve what genetics provides. Manage your expectations by keeping this in mind when you compare your hair growth with people outside your family.
I hope these tips are helpful in getting better results with your hair. If you have any tips or suggestions do share them in the comment section below.
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