Having, flowing hair seems to be an unattainable goal for many, and there is a common misconception that black hair cannot grow very long. The truth is, with proper care and maintenance, our hair is able to attain and retain significant growth.
Not everyone has the desire to have long hair, hence hair growth may not be a goal or a priority for all. Others however, for varied reasons, love and would prefer to have longer hair. It is a fact that every person records periodic hair growth; in fact, the average growth rate is about a half an inch per month. This translates into about 6 inches per year. The truth however is that at the end of the year most people do not realize six inches of growth. Does that mean that the hair didn't grow at the average rate? In most cases, the problem is that the length is not retained because of improper care.
While retaining length is sometimes difficult, it is definitely not impossible. Much diligence is required in order to achieve that long, flowing, healthy head of hair you always wanted. Below are 6 strategies that can be applied to your hair care regimen or routine, to achieve longer, healthier hair this year.
1. DAILY SCALP MASSAGE
Massaging the scalp daily with your fingertips (never your nails) will encourage circulation and stimulate hair growth. The kneading motions involved in the massage process can be quite relaxing because of the many nerve endings located in the scalp. This helps to relieve stress and can have a positive impact on the rate of hair growth by reducing the levels of stress hormones. Elevated stress hormone levels have been associated with hair loss. A good scalp massage also helps hair roots make better use of nutrients by loosening dirt and oil that may cause clogged hair follicles. Massage scalp for three to five minutes, it is very relaxing and tranquilizing and will set your hair on a path to realizing hair growth.
2. USE NATURAL OILS
Using cold pressed vegetable oils directly on your hair can make a world of difference. Choosing the proper oil is a matter of experimentation. A light oil may be used for thin, fine hair, while someone with naturally curly or coarse hair might find that heavier oils are more effective. Unrefined oils are always healthier as they retain their natural vitamins and minerals although their aroma can be somewhat pungent. Refined oils tend to have a lighter color and little or no odor, while the unrefined retains a darker, nuttier aroma. There is a wide array of oils that vary in purpose and benefits. Rosemary Essential Oil, for example, helps to stimulate the hair follicles, thus promoting growth. Jojoba oil, on the other hand, has the ability to loosen buildup from the scalp which would have otherwise blocked the hair follicles and inhibit growth. In general, natural oils provide necessary nourishment for the hair and scalp thus making it less susceptible to damage and more likely to grow.
3. KEEP HAIR CLEAN
Keeping hair and scalp clean and healthy allows hair to continue growing and reduces breakage and loss. Wash your hair regularly to keep your hair follicles from clogging with dirt and excess sebum (i.e. natural oils produced by the scalp). Clogged pores caused by dirt or overproduction of sebum can result in undernourished roots. Excess build up of subum on the scalp can eventually harden, hindering the growth of healthy hair. It is therefore very important to keep your hair cleansed at all times. Natural hair loves water so you can wash your hair as often as you desire. Using a sulfate-free shampoo is advisable as it is milder and free from the harsh chemicals present in shampoos with sulfate. Deep conditioning your hair is very important for repairing and preventing damage and also for providing moisture. Your hair, however, has to be at its cleanest state to reap the benefits of your deep conditioning treatment. If your hair is not very clean then the deep conditioner or moisturizers will not penetrate the strands as there will be a layer of buildup blocking maximum absorption. As we all know, dry hair is the enemy as hair lacking in moisture is more susceptible to breakage. Hair that is constantly breaking will never truly realize its true length potential.
4. LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Exercising, getting enough sleep (8 hrs recommended) and staying stress free can cause your hair to grow faster and longer. It has been observed that factors like stress, depression and sleep deprivation actually contribute to hair loss. Stress can cause hair loss in different ways. In a case where there is severe stress, it can result in a condition called Alopecia Areata where the white blood cells attack the hair follicles, stopping hair growth and causing the hair to fall out. There is also a condition called Telogen Effluvium in which emotional or physical stress prematurely pushes large numbers of growing hairs into a resting phase, forcing the affected hairs to fall out easily. There are also the cases in which individuals undergoing stress literally get the irresistible urge to literally pull out hair from their scalp. This condition is called Trichotillomania. In light of these facts, it is extremely important to lead a stress-free life as it will improve your overall health.
Sleep is also a very important factor that can determine one's overall health. As it relates to the health of your hair, getting the required amount of sleep can aid in hair growth as growth hormones are secreted during sleep.
Exercise cannot be over-emphasized. Exercise stimulates the blood to flow. The nutrient rich blood nourishes each hair follicle, promoting healthy hair growth. Lack of sufficient blood flow would yield the growth of duller, more brittle hair. Apart from supplying the follicle with nutrient-rich blood, exercise also helps to alleviate stress, which is a known cause of hair loss. Addressing your overall lifestyle habits will definitely play a role in your ability to achieve more noticeable hair growth this year.
5. PROTECT YOUR HAIR ENDS
It is often said that trimming your hair ends regularly will cause the hair to grow. Now that I is a big misconception, as there is no explainable correlation between the hair pushing out of the scalp and the ends of the hair, nor is there any special signal sent to the scalp telling it to generate new growth because the ends were trimmed. What I do know is that if you protect your hair ends from damage and breakage then that will prevent you from having to cut them all the time and as such, you will be able to record and retain length. Protecting your ends involves keeping them moisturized. Moisture can be sealed into the hair by using a sealant such as Shea Butter or your favorite oils. Keeping your hair in a protective style like two strand twists or bantu knots especially at bedtime is an excellent way to protect your ends. Try not to manipulate your hair too much as this can lead to split ends. Heat or excessive combing and brushing can lead to breakage. Keep this to a minimum in order to avoid undue damage. In essence, if you don't get split ends very often, then you won't need to trim your hair very often, and as such, you will be able to realize a lot more growth.
6. DRINK LOTS OF WATER
We have often heard it said that water is life. This is definitely true as 60-70% of the human body is made up of water. Water is very essential for our overall health and it most certainly contributes to the health of our hair. Water is the key source of energy for every cell in the body including the cells which drive hair growth. The scalp and roots of the hair have many energy-sensitive nerve endings. Water helps to energize these nerve endings, making them more responsive, thus enhancing the vitality of the hair roots. Water also acts as an antioxidant by flushing the body of toxins, chemicals and impurities that stifle hair growth. Drinking an average of 8 glasses of water every day will set you on a right path, not only concerning your hair's health but your overall physical health.
Making minor adjustments to your daily routine can reap significant benefits as far as hair growth is concerned. Set your hair goals, and with much commitment and dedication, you will be able to achieve if not surpass them.
My personal but unproven hair growth tip: Be Positive, Happy and Laugh, laugh, laugh.
Candie's Natural Hairnamix was birthed a few months after Jamaican native Rossette "Candie" Allen began her natural hair journey in May 2010. She gears this column toward naturals, transitioning naturals, aspiring naturals and the naturally curious, sharing experiences, expertise and experiments while celebrating emancipation from chemical slavery.