Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Have you reached an impass with your hair?

I have just written a comment over at BGLH and it is practically an essay on its own so I will put it up here! Feel free to join the discussion over at BGLH (As I did not start the discussion and do not wish to dilute it, commenting for this post is disabled for 48 hours)

I have previously written about the possibility of African hair actually growing at a slower rate. However it should still get you to one foot of hair. I think that there is a huge disconnect for us in the triangular relationship that is retention, breakage and mechanics (i.e Hair does not gain length because the ends broke off. The ends broke off because they were either weakened or were pulled with excessive force.)

Truth is many of us are not willing to accept that WE are the reason why hair is not growing. We want it to be genetics or a hair product. It simply cannot be our fault.

Going natural is not going to automatically help your hair get longer (especially so if your curl is tighter).
Here is what I have observed

1. Long haired naturals (with a type 4 texture) LIVE in twists or braids (especially so in the beginning 2-3 years). The basic regimen is wash, condition and twist up for 3-4 weeks (and even longer). Hair is out for a weekend or a few days and then back to to the 3-4 weeks of twists. Examples Sera, Nikki/Mwedzi, Loolahloo, Maestradiva, Giselle, Kemi/Aijo, Mika, Leslie, BBD on youtube, Denise/Den1 , Roshini

2. Long haired naturals with a looser texture LIVE in protective styles. They do not typically twist up for 3 weeks but would regularly do so for 1 week then bun up or wear off the shoulder styles for example Jenteel, Rustic beauty, Kim, Nikki,

3. Natural hair thrives in a heat free regime. This is especially true for people with thin strands. People with thicker strands can get away with murder. Type 4 hair is usually assumed to be thick and this is simply not true. Some have thick strands some have thin.

4. Most long haired naturals rarely if ever use extensions.

5. Trimming is more important than people make out. The less damage you have to your hair, the less you need to trim. It is not about trimming a quarter inch every 2-3 months but rather about examining the ends of your hair and assessing how much needs to be trimmed and how often (i,e look for split ends!). Splitting and thinning hair ends will not gain length. period.

Meanwhile the most common questions that people ask when it comes to growing hair are
1. Which hair product to use
2. Which washing method is best
3. How to avoid ‘chemicals’ in hair products
4. How to style hair
5. How little should we trim (emphasis on little)
6. How should I moisturise my hair
7. How can I make my hair soft
8. What can I apply to my hair/scalp to make my hair grow faster
9. What should I eat to make my hair grow faster

In my opinion, people have used different products and methods in their hair care and still gained length. The fundamental similarities are what we should see instead of investing time on the differences.

The simple truth is that people do not want to wear 4 week old twists which have been washed weekly and are a little puffy and undefined. We listen to and do things that are not suitable for our particular texture (i.e we do not listen to our hair choosing instead to do what works for a different person).


  1. Excellent post. Tell it girl! Can't keep messing with your hair and think that some miracle product will make it grow. Best bet is to be good to it and just leave it alone. Growth will happen when you treat it right.

  2. Hey Jc!

    I agree with most of what you said. The only thing I've decided without a doubt is that I will no longer be trimming my own hair. For my first 6 months of being natural, I did my own trims (using brand new "hair only" shears and all of that) but I still did more harm than good. I had uneven lengths, which made styling harder, which lead to excess pulling, and probably unnecessary breakage. I think routine, professional trims/dustings are highly underrated.

    By the way, my site is live! Are you still doing small business features?

  3. I find this to be true rather natural or relaxed. The least you do to your hair the better shape it's in. Relaxed ladies with long hair tend to do very little or have a very set and basic regimine with hair. Low ponytails, buns, or rollersets on a regular. They use little to no heat. No flat irons or blow driers, rarely if ever use extensions, and get regular trims. When I was relaxed, it was rollerset weekly, wrap and thats it. Relaxed every 4-6 weeks and and trimmed every other relaxer. My hair was colored and relaxed and "good" condition.

  4. I agree 100%. In general, people want instant gratification. They don't want to know that it will take time and dedication to reach their goals.

  5. Leo the Yardie Chick5 December 2010 at 19:33

    Number 1 is me, straight up. I've only been natural for a year, and I prefer having my hair locked away in braids or twists for sometimes over a month (depends on how busy I am). I'm in the visual arts field and since people already think artists are crazy, no one bats an eye at my fuzzy-as-hell twists, which I wash with ACV rinses and deep condition. My hair only comes out when I'm doing what I call the Super Wash (detangle, shampoo, hot oil treatment, protein (if needed), deep conditioning, the works) before it's styled away.

    As for a trim, I am getting one this month for sure. :)

  6. I can't find most of those people on youtube. Is there anyway you can put their full youtube names??? I hope that isn't too much to ask.

  7. Anon- Many of these women have blogs or fotkis and are not on youtube. You will have more luck typing the names in google and attaching fotki or blog to it. I could link them all but I think that it is more useful for people to do their own search because you will find more relevant information.

  8. Little One - I will check out your site. Sorry,I closed the business feature about two months back. I received more interest than I could handle so I chose a selection and those will be featured shortly.

  9. Agree 100% on this, there is no magic product, or food. Sometimes you'd hear someone saying, my hair is so healthy because I have a balanced diet. But I have even met anorexic girls with the most wonderful head full of hair, and my guy-friend lives on coffee and cigarettes only, and his hair is huge and handsome. So I wonder how much of a difference nutrition will actually make.
    You had this little post "treat your hair like a Cashmere Sweater" a while ago, and I find that just puts it very well.

  10. I have to agree, I am type 4 and do nothing at all with my hair apart from a bun. But I am inspired by what you said about people leaving the twists in. my hair is shoulder length now so let me try twisting on Saturday and leaving them in for the week.

  11. I am all for letting my hair be, but my twists get sooooooo tangled after a week. What can I do to keep them from tangling? And how do you wash your twist without them getting matted?

  12. I was about to ask the same question that Anonymous Dec 6. I second her request. J.C., could you please put their full fotki/youtube names.

    I've already googled some of the ones mentioned in your post. I also did a youtube search engine to look up others you posted. But, who's BBD? She's not coming up on any search. And the name "Nikki" is very common, and far too general of a search start. Can't find some of the ones you mentioned at all.

    Mwedzi also took down most of her vids, but found her fotki.

  13. @Anonymous Dec. 6 & Dec. 17

    I think the "Nikki" Jc's referring to is Curly Nikki. Her website is called Curly Nikki. HTH.

  14. what is considered a long haired natural? I am apl and i still wear braid extensions. It beats blowing it out then twisting once a week to manage it.

  15. Yes TAB you are right :)

    Anon - Long hair is relative. A full APL is long to me (i.e where atleast half of your hair is at APL). However different people have different measures some consider long to be hip length or waist length (In my view waistlength and longer is undeniably long but is not a practical managable long length - others would and do disagree. In my view APL and midback hair is what I consider 'normal long hair' and waist length plus is what I consider 'extremely long').

  16. Very good points. I long for the day when I can keep my two-strand twists in longer than one week. My hair is still relatively short, so I haven't tried a variety of protective styles. I suppose I could cornrow or flat-twist it until my hair gets long enough to "put up." Until then, I can only keep my hair as moisturized as possible.

  17. Ha ha ha.
    So your righting about the article about me which was the comment I wrote to another blog article. Wow it is a small world after all, your Jc right?
    Yeah your definitely her.

    Now lets get things straight I never said that my hair would automatically get longer because it was natural I just said I didn't want to use relaxers or extensions any more to grow it. I also didn't say I wanted an instant product given to me rather I know it must be what I am doing but I want to know what I am doing wrong and correct it. And I did trim and looked for bad ends (maybe I should go to a salon).

    Anyway I am slowly following the advice I think is applicable. I have already gone to the dermatologist. I got a clean bill of health *smiles*. Though a week later after going into doctors I found out that My skin has gone haywire from excessive dryness, stress, eczema and contact dermatitis (but that a whole different discussion, I do live in Canada so is not surprising and I am from the Caribbean). What can I say I have sensitive skin. I following through with dying a couple of strands to see what my rate of growth to develop a custom game plan.

    But there is something your missing in your point that I think that should be address. Everyone (I mean every human being) needs a starting point or someone to mimic. From day we are infants we used are parents to gauge to help us learn to walk and talk. That never leaves us once we are adults. The only difference is that learn to be picky on what to learn and once we get it, we put our own spin on it or get innovative with what we learn (once we figured it out other wise we look for another or better choice). Humans learn best from behaviour, you can read how to speak a new language but unless you hear actual native speaker speak it you will never learn how to pronunciation it correctly “ça va”? That why the statement “Do as I say not as I do”, will continue to be disrespected and seen as a very weak argument at that. I not saying your saying that, I just saying actions speak louder than words. In conclusion that your right to say “The fundamental similarities are what we should see instead of investing time on the differences.” But you must realize that once a person is learning something and have been given an array of options to choose from, they are going to do their best to choose the best options (survival of the fittest mentality) and that will result in people looking at the differences rather that similarities especially when doing the basics similarities is not yielding desired results.

    Man I suck at writing responses.

    Oh if you haven’t guessed already which I know you have, I have tightly coily hair like Mwedzi but my strands are mostly medium with some thin strands and the rare thick ones.

    Au revoir Madam.

  18. Hyspin - I did link the article over at BGLH (it is highlighted in blue). I am surprised that you did not know I am Jc given I always link my name to the blog. I consider Leila at BGLH as a friend and have for a long time patronised that blog.

    Anyway, after your second clarification paragraph here, I was pretty much lost. I understand what you said about learning from behaviour but I was not sure at all what you meant with the rest.

  19. I have to say that I visit your site often and never posted a comment. I love the information you offer (in your own opinions) and the researched material you share. I have to say that I am not one to measure or worry about growth. I know whats important to me as fair as my hair. Keeping it clean, healthy and protect my ends. I dont subscribe to the number letter thingy for describing my hair. My hair is THICK AND NAPPY and I have realized that my hair maintains growth by me keeping my twist in, sealing ends with castor oil and using my all natural spritz. Whats good for your hair is not necessarily good for mine so I dont follow everyone's views on products. I have less than five things I use on my hair that works. Patience and learning what your hair really needs is the key. Keep doing what you do sis and Happy New Year.

  20. I agree completely with the ideas outlined here.

  21. You stated "Trimming is more important than people make out. The less damage you have to your hair, the less you need to trim. It is not about trimming a quarter inch every 2-3 months but rather about examining the ends of your hair and assessing how much needs to be trimmed and how often (i,e look for split ends!). Splitting and thinning hair ends will not gain length. period."

    I disagree because hair grows from the root not the ends so the hair can gain length. Granted the ends break off eventually and the hair continues to grow.

    1. You do realise that hair can keep growing and not gain length simply because the ends are splitting and breaking at the same rate or faster than hair is growing.


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