How to retain the length of your natural hair
By Jodie Dublin-Dangleben
If I had a dollar for the number of times I have heard: “But my hair cannot grow so long”, or the times when I have been asked, “What should I do to make my hair grow long?” I would not be working my day job, but flying in my private jet en route to some remote island in the Pacific.
The naysayers continue to preach that kinky hair textures cannot grow past shoulder length. Hair growth is NOT the problem at all. Retaining length and preventing hair breakage IS. The length that our hair attains is determined by our hair care regime. We need to have patience with our hair and follow accurately the steps which have been tried, retried and proven to achieve longer hair.
Another disturbing misconception that prevails among our culture is that natural hair is so strong that it can withstand whatever hot comb, curling or flat iron that comes its way. WRONG! In fact, it is quite the opposite and we should consider our hair equivalent to delicate strands of silk thread. The list of bad practices which leads to dry hair and inevitable hair breakage are exhaustive and overwhelming. Using too much heat, using the wrong products, weighing down our strands with product upon product, too much manipulation, bleaching, colouring, combing the hair too tightly whether in braids, weaves or even cornrows themselves, can cause irreparable damage to your hair strands.
The Gospel truth is that the curlier your hair or the tighter your curl pattern is the more prone to breakage your hair is. The more prone to breakage it is means that it needs more love and care.
TIPS FOR RETAINING LENGTH
- The less we manipulate our hair the less chance there is for breakage. We can achieve low manipulation hairstyles by wearing twists, buns or cornrows; basically any hairstyle which does not require you combing your hair daily. This might be difficult for some. I have had to work hard on overcoming my HIH (Hand-In-Hair) Syndrome. It is so comforting to play with my hair strands, but I am wiser now and have kept that too to a minimum.
- Constant combing and brushing of our hair strands lead to breakage; especially fine toothed and bristled combs and brushes. The constant friction between them and the hair shaft can cause splits along the shaft. I am officially comb free and I almost threw my comb out, but realized I may need to use it sometimes to section out my hair.
- Your strands hate heat! If you need to blow dry or flat iron anyway, use the lowest heat setting along with a heat protectant on clean, product free, deep conditioned hair. (photo: blackgirllonghair.com)
- Moisture is the key to prevent dryness and breakage. Use a water based leave in conditioner. OILS and GREASES are NOT moisturizes! I have had this argument countless times. They prevent moisture from getting to the hair strands. Yes it feels soft and supple but do not believe the hype. Just like your lip feels after eating a greasy fried chicken wing; there is no moisture there. An effective moisture regimen is the LOC method. L-Leave-in, O – Oil, C-Cream or heavy butter (like whipped shea butter). Regular deep condition treatments are important too.
- The saying, “we are what we eat “is quite an overworked phrase but it speaks volumes! What we put into our bodies translates to our hair as well. Hair and scalp problems may surface from either a deficiency or an excess of nutrients in your diet. In most cases nutrition alone can be the cause of hair loss. Our diet must be rich in protein, fatty acids, B and C vitamins and iron. Our hair is about 90 percent protein. A diet low in these essentials can lead to hair loss and thinning. Smoking, drugs and crash diets also negatively affect the hair.
The simple truth is that healthy hair and growth will not happen overnight. It takes a lot of patience and TLC to get in tune with what regimes work for your hair type. So do some experimenting. Jot down little notes of how your hair reacts to certain treatments and stick to the products that work best with your hair. Treat the ends of your hair like a premature baby! It’s a long learning experience but the quality and growth of your healthy head of hair will be a most fitting reward!