Long hair: The holy grail for the black female

Long hair within the black community (and I’m generalizing here) is a big freaking deal! How many conversations have we females had about what we would do if we had that perfect length of hair? How many times do we ask “what do you do to get your hair to grow like that?”. If so-and-so uses a certain hair product, we’ll rush to buy it. If so-and-so braids x times a year, we’ll do the same. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t we’re back on the hunt for the perfect hair growth solution. I’m sure you’ve seen the crazy products on the pharmacy shelves or in hair stores promising hair growth. Whether its hot oil treatments, hair fertilizer, placenta oil and various herbal oils and conditioners. They’re all banking on that desire we have for those perfect long tresses.

It’s all we women think and dream about. Hell there’s a whole industry of fake hair with the main aim of giving all us females the inches we fail to grow, whether we braid it, glue it or sow it in.

Brazillian Weaves

When I went natural I must admit I sort of believed that because my hair was now in its natural state it would grow super fast and soon I’d be rocking a lovely thick poofy past-shoulder-length afro. I soon found out that all those beautiful fro’s I saw elegantly crowning the heads of women on my dad’s record covers from the 70s and 80s were actually wigs and that growing afro hair is no easier than growing regularly relaxed/straightened hair.

The Supremes

However I did find that natural hair appears to grow faster because generally girls with natural hair are very particular about how they care for their hair. Due to the lack of information available in the mainstream media or at our local salons on caring for natural hair, various females with natural hair have taken to the Internet in the form of blogs, groups, forums and video blogs to assist fellow natural females (or males).

The Naturals-as my straight haired friends like to call us-have pretty much become a subculture of their own. They embrace all things natural. They prefer to use natural hair products (meaning products that have little or no processing or use natural ingredients) or homemade hair products and they tend to prefer to take care of their own hair rather than leaving it up to a hairdresser.

After becoming part of this subculture, I eventually made it my mission to find out how to care for my hair better than I did when it was straightened and of course how to enhance growth! At the suggestion of a friend, I watched a couple of videos on the Luv Naturals youtube channel  by Kimmaytube who shared her own personal hair growth journey and she said a few things that changed the way I now approach caring for my hair. In addition to Kimmaytube, I have watched videos by Long Hair dont care , Sum Kinda Wonderful and Lu Bella coils also on hair growth. I took note of the most common reoccurring themes and I have listed them below.

1. Patience.

Patience is key. Your hair won’t sprout over night. It generally takes years for black people to grow really long hair, this is mainly because of its kinky/curly structure. Some people are helped along by their super healthy diets or genes but in comparison to Caucasians, for example, our hair  still grows quite slowly.

2. Understand your hair.

Hair is not a living thing, as soon as it leaves your scalp its dead. So your main aim should be to preserve it. That’s all you really can do once it sprouts from your scalp. People with long hair preserve it better, that’s all.

3. Take care of your ends.

Split ends or Breakage, *shivers* is the number one cause of failure to grow hair. If your ends are weak and brittle, they will break and then you are back to square one. When I was younger I was told to regularly cut my ends or trim them, the goal being to get rid of the unhealthy hair so the good hair can grow. However if you generally don’t take care of your hair you will fall into the vicious cycle of cutting ends every few months with nothing to show for it at the end of it all. When growing hair, the goal is to keep or retain the hair length, not to lose it to the salon floor every few months.

5. MOISTURIZE!!!!

I put that in caps because it seems to be the most important piece of advice anyone with long hair can give you. Dry hair equals bad hair. Dry hair breaks easily and therefore makes it hard for you to retain length. Contrary to what we were told as straight haired females, water is your friend and you just need to figure out what products keep the moisture in. So often the advice is to avoid blow dryers or flat irons because those dry out our hair and therefore damage it, plus the heat doesn’t help.

6. Be Gentle.

Black women LOVE to change hair styles quite often. A lot of us get bored easily. But all things in moderation. Excessive braiding causes a receding hairline, over use of strong chemicals (relaxers, hair dyes etc) damage your hair and excessive use of heat does your hair no favors. With natural hair, combing it while it’s dry is not advised, you’ll just break it and cause yourself considerable pain while you’re at it.

7. Mind your products

There is a plethora of hair products available in the stores and online but not all may be good for your hair. People often look for words like “healthy”, “growth”, “long”, “nourishing” and “moisturizing” on product packaging and call it a day. The people who manufacture the products know that too. They’ll write whatever sells the product. Get to know what products are known to be good for black hair and look for those. Examples off the top of my head: coconut oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, aloe vera, almond oil and olive oil. Any products with those as the main ingredient should be fine, and if you can find the products in their purest possible form that’s even better.

I think that covers it!

This advice applies to black hair in general, straight or kinky. I am also putting what I have learnt into practice, lets see how well it goes!! 🙂

Kimmaytube showing her natural hair length
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