The lovely Jaded remarks, 'I find it so odd that african americans just in general have such a hard time *relaxed or natural* growing our hair.' Well, the truth is that African hair is very different from Asian or Caucasian hair. Here are some more details:
1. Slow growth rate? – It has been suggested that African hair grows much slower than Caucasian hair ( Br J Dermatol, pg 294-7, 2001.). African hair was measured at between 3.7 to 4.3 inches per year while Caucasian hair was measured at 5.7 to 6.3 inches per year. This study unfortunately is too small in my view to be representative of the entire African population but it is nonetheless a valid study.
2. Shape of the hair? – Asian and Caucasian hair is more round in shape compared to African hair which is more oval/elliptical (see the diagram!). Some scientists suggest that this can make the hair weak but studies in 4 different labs produced contrasting results (J Am Acad Dermatol,pg S106–S114, 2003). Two of them showed no difference while two found African hair to be weaker - so there really isn't a conclusion as to whether the ellipse shape affects strength.
3. Breakage – This one is a bit of a duh moment. The curlier the hair the more likely it is to break. African hair has more kinks and curls. Each of these turns represents a weak point which can be tested by washing, conditioning, towel drying, combing, braiding (everything basically!).
4. Method of breakage – This related to number 3 but it has to be given its own airtime because it is important. African hair breaks in probably the most traumatic way, cuticle and fibre rupture (Acta Materialia , pg 3585–3597, 2008). This can possibly lead to the observation that lengthwise splits are commonly seen in African hair. The issue with these longitudinal splits is that the damage can very easily travel upwards. The tips of African hair are usually shredded (implying breakage) while Asian and Caucasian hair tends to have either a natural tapered tip or a blunt end where the hair was previously cut.
Now these are just four reasons, tomorrow I will post on combing and knotting. I have a new drawing gadget (PC tablet) that I am dying to use to draw some hair knots! Separately, we will need to have a discussion on the definitions of African, Asian and Caucasian hair. There is alot of diversity within these groups but this is a story for another post ;)
See you tomorrow for part 2 of the Growing Pains series! For today, my question is, do you think your hair grows at a rate of 4 inches per year or do you think it grows much longer?