How to grow long hair

I have learnt one universal truth about growing hair and it is, if you take care of it, it will grow. Leaving it alone may work, but taking care of it always will, even if you use “horrible” hair products.

You cannot do vigorous hairstyles on your hair everyday. If you have a hairstyle that needs to be redone every day or so – you are over manipulating your hair.  Examples of over manipulation:

-Putting your hair in a tight ponytail every day. You will ruin your hair.

-Inserting braids that are too tight. This would bet he same thing as you holding a clump of your hair in tight grip and pulling your hair as though you want it out of your scalp everyday, until new hair grows out to loosen your hold. (not a pretty picture of length retention, now is it?).

-Combing your hair with a fine tooth comb every day, especially on your edges and the hair on the nape of your neck.

-Putting your hands in your hair all the time. I have experience with this, I have made myself BALD from doing this several times (on separate occasions). I found that the best way to stop this is to do protective styling.

Protective styling

Protective styling means any hairstyle that protects your ends as they are old hair that is more prone to breakage. This includes braids (not micro braids), flat twists, cornrows (straight back) and more. This is important because it helps you to avoid over-manipulation and keeps your ends from falling off.

As I have mentioned before, no tight hairstyles and no heavy hairstyles. Micro braids fit both of these categories because they are tight and too dense. When micro braiding, you have to force a lot of fiber onto a head that does not fit it (the fiber); your skin is stretched out to accommodate this because there isn’t enough space on your head for it. This also contributes to traction alopecia, which is a type of hair loss due to braids.

This can also happen due to pulling your hair too tightly. So make sure to make your hairstylist loosens her touch. TIP: if you look as if you have gotten a face-lift after you leave the salon–its too tight. If your braids pull your hair when you sleep, they’re too tight.

Be careful when putting any type of extensions on your head. A clean parting line is not always a good thing. Last year Sami helped put in some twists on my head and she was so obsessed with clean parts and lets just say that I had a permanent line on my head for 6 months.

Wearing a satin scarf or using a satin pillow case to protect your hair at night.

This is important because it protects your edges at night and keeps you from looking like the woman in the previous picture. Your hair is curly/ coily and naturally dry. Any contact with cotton (which sucks up water) or a cotton blend will cause friction. WE have all felt it when we wear clothes with collars. We have HEARD our hair tear off. This happens every night for 6+ hours. So use a friction-less material such as satin. I prefer caps because they protect your whole head, but if you move around a lot and the cap falls off, you will need a pillow case and as an extra measure, you may like to try pinning satin material to the top of your blanket.

When we were young, Sami, Andile and I were told to use pantyhose to protect our hair. This, as you can guess was the single WORST hair tip we were ever told. It tore all of our edges off. Did you see the picture I put up? Yeah, I was just straight up bald (on the front side edges). I had to put in braids after kids at school laughed at me (lead by our resident mean girl), and use them to cover my head on the sides.

Deep conditioning

Curly/coily hair is naturally dry. You have to deep condition weekly. To save money, do not buy deep conditioning sachets but buy a tub of deep conditioner. Now for the first few times until your hair accepts moisture, deep condition for about 30 minutes, after that follow the instructions. I say this because it is not within the South African black hair culture to moisturize. You have to force your hair to accept moisture. You will know that it does when you hair displays some kind of pattern after you have detangled while your conditioner is in your hair.

I will be posting an article about what to look for in a conditioner, followed by one about my complete wash day routine, so keep calm and stay reading.

Shampoo your hair every week or every two weeks

You have to clean your scalp to grow hair. Out of all the things that I have suggested this one is the one you cannot avoid. When we put things into our hair, it goes to the scalp and stays there. It has to go. You have to wash your hair so that water and conditioners can reach it, if they cannot it dries out and when it dries out it breaks off.

I remember when I was younger and we used those greases that are called “hair growth scalp food”  that were just grease that went nowhere (MPL? MPH? Memory doesn’t serve me well, except to remember the false dreams that product sold us). Every relaxer day I would have a thick layer of it on my hair when we removed the relaxer. It was so thick that even relaxer could not burn it off, and relaxer is meant to burn your hair bonds off. That meant that I had a layer that prevented any water from getting on to my scalp, I’m pretty sure that if you could see my scalp back then it would look like the skin of a 40 year old who spends all of their time in the sun. Skin needs water.

Use wide tooth combs and finger de-tangle tough knots

The wide tooth  comb is a must. Small combs cause a large amount of tangles on your head. When you pull at coily hair from the root and not the ends, it tangles up. Finger de-tangle hard to get out knots. DO NOT try to force the comb through your hair. You will only succeed in breaking it off. DO NOT break your hair when using your fingers (I do this even today and it shows).

Moisturize your hair at least twice a week

As previously stated, your hair is dry. You have to moisturize. If you want to use a product, make sure that you use a water based one (water is the first ingredient). You need to seal in the moisture with an oil after wards. If you have low porosity hair try to use warm water to open the cuticles. Click here to learn how to moisturise your hair.

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