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The Crucial Dos and Don’ts of Growing African American Hair

Why doesn’t African-American hair seem to grow? I mean, seriously. You look at those around you they don’t seem to have any trouble growing their hair. Your coworker has a beautiful head of hair that makes you quiver with jealousy. Your best friend grows her hair like it’s going out of style.

But not you. No matter how much you try, you can’t seem to get your hair to grow much.

ranted, your hair’s rate of growth and length can be influenced by genetics. What about the women who have gone before you? Your mother and grandmother? If they had an easier time growing their hair, chances are you will too. If the opposite is true, don’t lose hope, there are many tricks of the trade you can employ to grow that head of hair.

There are a lot of contributors we’re going to look at that could cause your hair to appear like it’s not growing, especially if you’re steadily losing length each month due to dry, brittle hair.

In this post, we’re going to dive into the do’s and don’ts when it comes to growing African-American hair. You may not have been blessed with great hair genetics, but there are still numerous things you can do to improve your growth rate.

There’s a funny scene in the movie The Santa Clause where Tim Allen finds his beard growing so fast he can’t even keep it shaved off. We can’t promise that kind of growth, but if you follow these tips, you’re sure to see success.


The Don’ts

Let’s start with the don’ts. Here are 4 things you shouldn’t do if you want your hair to grow.

Don’t apply too much heat. First, let’s get clear on something. Relaxed hair grows back at the same rate as natural hair. There’s nothing magical about the growing speed of relaxed hair.

And get this. Although relaxed hair grows at the same rate as natural hair, often those who have relaxed hair have a lot of breakage because of how they style it. All that drying and curling and straightening does a lot of damage to your hair. I mean, you’re basically dehydrating your hair. Think of how nasty something looks when it’s dehydrated. Dried, shriveled, and pathetic. Don’t do that to your hair.

Don’t apply too much heat, and don’t overuse blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons. Extreme heat is damaging to anyone’s hair, but is even worse on African American hair.

Instead of choosing styles that require a lot of heat, go for ones that allow you be more natural.

If you’ve already damaged your hair, here are some suggestions on how to heal it:

Don’t use too many chemical products. Chemicals are bad for food and just as bad for your hair. In fact, many chemicals are so harsh on African American hair that they reverse all your attempts to grow healthy hair. Think of how your skin reacts when you expose it to too many chemicals. It gets red, irritated, and burned. Your hair isn’t a big fan of chemicals either.

Don’t overuse relaxers and dyes. If you’re going to use relaxers, space them out to once every 12 weeks. Avoid harsh sulfates in products that will strip it including:

  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

  • TEA Laureth Sulfate

  • TEA Lauryl Sulfate

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

  • Parabens

  • DEA

If you’re dealing with chemical damaged hair, here are some tips for healing it:


Don’t wrap your hair tightly. There are several Tightly wrapping hair damages ends. When the hair is pulled it gets weak and breaks. The tight wraps and exposed ends prohibit hair growth.

Don’t stress. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it's no joke. Stress causes hair loss, which is an obvious roadblock to growing long locks. Think about people that have incredibly stressful lives. Do they have a good head of hair? Very rarely. Not only is stress bad for your body, it’s also rough on your hair.

Having healthy coping mechanisms for stress directly promotes the health of your hair.

The Dos

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Now that we’ve established what you shouldn’t do to your hair, let’s talk about ways to improve your hair growth.

Use gentle shampoo. If you’re going to have a healthy head of hair, you’ll need to take a look at the chemicals on the side of your shampoo. Some shampoos are loaded with unhealthy chemicals that can do a serious number on your scalp.

Avoid the chemicals we spoke of above and use a shampoo that is gentle and will not damage your hair. Here is a list of sulfates that will not damage your hair:

  • Polyoxethylene Fatty Alcohols,

  • PEG 80, Sorbitan Laurate,

  • Decyl Polyglucose,

  • Cocamidoprpyl Betaine,

  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate,

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

After washing, us a wide-toothed comb to minimize breakage.

Add extra conditioner into your routine. We’re aware that African-American women often don’t want to wash their hair frequently because it can dry it out. This especially tends to be the case for those with kinky or coarse hair. However, this can actually cause more problems.

The frequency with which you need to wash your hair is directly tied to how close you are to pollutants. If you don’t wash these pollutants out on a regular basis, your hair can become damaged, and pollutants actually do more damage to your hair than being dry.

Think of it this way. If another part of your body became dirty, you wouldn’t stop washing simply because it dried your skin. Similarly, your hair needs to be washed regularly to ensure scalp health and optimum hair growth.

To prevent your hair from drying, we recommend adding conditioning to your routine using something like Argan oil or deep conditioning masque.


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Use protein treatments. Your body needs protein and so does your hair. Protein treatments strengthen hair and speed up hair growth. This will repair broken protein bonds that, left untreated, would result in broken ends. A protein treatment is recommended to be used once every two weeks.

Looking for tips on how to use protein treatments in your hair? Here’s a video to help:


Use moisture treatments:
If protein treatments are not paired with moisture treatments, you can kiss growth good-bye. Protein treatments alone will lead to dry hair and breakage. Follow up protein treatments with moisture treatments. Moisturize after each hair washing. The two treatments combined will leave your hair healthy and strong.

Use hair oil. Are you seeing a theme? It’s crucial to keep hair well moisturized, hydrated, and oiled. Your hair has its own natural oils but needs additional oils applied. Scrub oil into your scalp as well as over the surface of your hair.

Use a satin or silk pillowcase. This one may seem a bit surprising. Sleep with a satin or silk pillowcase, which allows your hair to retain moisture while you sleep and avoid friction that leads to breakage. Avoid cotton which absorbs up the oils in your hair.

Plus, haven’t you always wanted silk sheets? Now you’ve got an excuse. While you’re at it, why not get a pet tiger or something else luxurious.

Trim your hair. Your hair only needs to have the ends trimmed (about ½ inch) every three or four months. Trimming your hair and keeping the ends healthy will make your hair strong and healthy as it grows, avoiding split ends.

Wear protective hairstyles. Keeping your hair in buns and french twists protects the ends from damage and allows them to grow. This also cuts down on styling that involves pulling and tugging, which also causes the ends to break.

Eat and drink well. Just as vitamins and minerals promote health in every other area of your body, your hair is no exception. The most natural way to keep your hair moisturized, is by drinking lots of water. And your hair needs vitamins A, D, C, B12, B, Biotin, and Calcium. Ideally you are getting these from a healthy diet, but taking a good multivitamin is a great option too. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, and is also extremely beneficial for hair growth.

Look, you may not exactly love drinking lots of water and eating well, but do it for your hair. It will thank you. And so will your body. But not with words because that would be strange.

Conclusion


This sounds like a lot of work. And it is. But you don’t need to do everything at once. In fact, if you try to do everything at once, you may get overwhelmed, give up, and go back to the things that hurt your hair in the first place.

Try to work on one or two of these tips at a time. What jumped out at you as you read through the article? Are you constantly re-styling your hair? Is your diet full of carbs and sugars and lacking vitamins and minerals? You’ll be amazed at the results, as you put in a little work to take care of your hair.

Tracee Ellis Ross said, “I love my hair because it’s a reflection of my soul. It’s dense, it’s kinky, it’s soft, it’s textured, it’s difficult, it’s easy and it’s fun. That’s why I love my hair.”

We can get on board with that.