If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t be where I am.
A verity of ethnic groups, cultures and races have this misconception that African hair grows slow or not at all. African hair doesn’t grow slow per say. It grows on average with everyone else’s hair (1/2 inch per month).
Some may use eugenics, pseudoscience and social darwinism to say that the information above is false. That all white people’s hair grows at a rapidly faster rate than all black people’s due to their genetics. Others will support the theology by adding that the only time you really see black people with long hair (that is not weave), is when they are mixed with white, Asian or Indian. My response to all of this is, if it is true that black people who are not mixed with white, asian or indian are incapable of having long hair due to their genetic make up, why do black people with dreads have hair touching their butts or sweeping the floor?
So why does it seem like African hair doesn’t grow at all? There are a number of reasons why it seems like it doesn’t grow, most of which come down to one main thing….the lack of knowledge people have on how to properly maintain and take care of coarse hair.
Many people see African hair and they think it’s very strong and sturdy. It’s not, looks are deceiving. Africans have the most fragile hair type of every race. This means that it easily breaks. Many blacks don’t know this, so they think their hair is invincible and they can treat their hair harshly, not knowing that: rough combing, rough brushing, tight, tight braids, weaves, the use of too much heat, washing too often, not enough moisturizer, heavy oils, and applying different chemicals is actually breaking off their hair. Hair that easily breaks makes it harder to grow long.
When you are combing kinky curly or coarse hair you have to part it into sections and start combing from the bottom and slowing work your way up to the root verses combing your hair from the root to the tip. This makes working the knots out a painless and an easier process. You also get to keep more hair on your head, instead of losing it to the comb. Spraying water on your hair with a water bottle also works wonders when you are combing your hair out.
When you are braiding coarse hair you have to be careful not to make the braids too tight. If the braids are too tight you will notice small bumps around the root of the braids developing, the hair will start to snap at the root causing breakage.
WEAVES & EXTENSIONS
Weaves and extensions maybe used a great deal in the African American community because they allow you to have a new and different look without altering your real hair, but they can also damage coarse hair. How? Weaves and extensions tend to pull, thin out and eat out the root of the hair over time because the fake hair is putting tension on the hair follicles. Certain methods used to install weaves do more damage than others. For instance a clue in weave can rip the persons real hair out of their head along with the weave if not put in properly or removed properly.
Heat allows all women to change the texture of their hair temporarily. How? Natural curly or coarse hair can be altered to bone straight hair with a blow dryer, hot combs and or flat iron. But the use of too much heat can cause hair damage. It is important to apply heat sparingly, use products that help protect your hair from heat when you are using blow dryers and flat irons. When styling use the lowest setting on curling and flat irons.
Washing any hair texture too frequently can lead to scalp irritation, dandruff, lice, and dry brittle hair. Because there are so many differing degrees of curliness, (fine, normal or coarse), what’s required varies from person to person. Some hair textures require washing bi weekly, some once a week, where others work well washing 2 to 3 times a week.
Coarse hair is different from other types of hair. For one, the hair shaft is irregularly shaped and it curls back on itself. The Caucasian hair shaft is oblong or oval shaped and the Asian hair shaft is round; this is why their hair is so straight. Also, the oil glands produce more oil in Caucasian and Asian hair. Coarse or curly hair receives very little oil from the scalp because it is harder for the hair’s natural oils to move down the curled hair-shaft, so it must be added to the hair. Caucasian and Asian hair types get visibly oily and dirty after a few days, so they wash their hair every other day or every day, but coarse and or curly hair gets dry and brittle if it’s washed every day, and it starts to break and fallout. Individuals that use chemical straighteners or relaxers, which change the texture of the hair, shouldn’t wash their hair everyday. Yes, the chemicals alter the hair texture, but the hair still needs oils and moisturizers or the hair will dry out and break off. Coarse hair doesn’t make enough oil ergo oils have to be added. Course hair must be moisturize with light oils such as olive oil or coconut oil. Thick products like Vaseline, petroleum jelly can clog pores. Moisturize after washing or whenever hair feels dry.
The products African Americans use in their hair makes a difference in hair growth. Natural hair products are healthier for hair. Avoid harmful chemicals such as relaxers, color rinses and other commercial hair products because they contain ingredients that damage the scalp and hair shaft. Some people have been taught that relaxers are healthier for the hair and it helps the hair growth rate. Relaxers, organic or not, are harmful chemicals for any hair texture. These harsh chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide, aka lye, not alone can cause hair breakage and hair loss but it further weakens the hair in order to straighten the curly shaft. So, you take fragile hair, add a relaxer, and it makes it even more prone to breakage. If your hair is relaxed it is best to continue to relax your hair to prevent breakage were the new growth and relaxed hair meet. Relax your hair every four to six months. When you relax your hair every six to eight weeks you are actually over processing your hair, aka frying it.
Another reason African American hair gives this false impression that coarse hair doesn’t grow is because of its structure. Some black people’s hair looks the same length for a few years even though it has grown quite a bit.
African Americans tend to have curly hair that ranges from fine, mild to coarse. When I say “tends” I am speaking on average. But just to be clear Africans are a very diverse group with versatile features. No hair texture is exclusive to one race. Afro-textured hair is not exclusive to black people, curly hair is not exclusive to biracial, and straight hair is not exclusive to whites or Asians.
SLINKY HAIR TEXTURE
Those with kinky coarse hair have hair so tightly curled it appears as if they have little to no hair. Their hair resembles a slinky in the sense that like a slinky, coarse hair in its natural state, is super curly and close to the scalp, but if you pull a slinky, straighten the coarse hair, you will be surprised to see it is much longer than it looks. There are people who look like they have shoulder-length hair when it is super curly, but it’s actually mid-back to waist-length when they straighten it.
Africans with dreaded hair, hair appears to grow faster but in reality it grows at the same rate. It only appears to grow faster because the hair has nothing preventing it from growing so it is able to utilize its growth cycle. Think about it. When you have dreads you are not using flat irons and blow driers, you’re not using harmful chemicals, and you’re not combing and brushing your hair roughly so you don’t have the amount of breakage experienced when it was un-dreaded. Also people for some reason tend to use products that are healthier on your hair when it is dreaded.
If black people want to grow their hair long, they have to a.) Make sure their body is receive enough nutrients and vitamins. Keeping hair healthy maximizes the hair’s growth cycle. b.) they have to use healthier hair products with natural ingredients, c.) They have to use protective styles such as braids, buns, ponytails and or dreads. Protective styles prevent hair breakage due to over-manipulation from daily styling and keep ends of hair from rubbing against clothes. d.) Wrap hair in a satin scarf to protect it while you sleep. Rubbing against a pillow can cause split ends. e.) Do not play in your hair, develop a consistent hair routine.