Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Basics of Growing your Hair to Great Lengths

I recently started investing some time in the blog's Facebook page (go like if you haven't already ;-)), and I have a few new readers, one of whom asked:

Now, for those who dabble in the hair care realm we know that what she really means is "How do I retain enough growth so as to reach this length?" We know this because hair grows as long as we are alive and healthy (If you want to speed up growth though, here's how). However, retaining length is the real trick. Here is an outline of the basics:

1. Become knowledgeable about healthy hair care practices. Many people out there still are not aware that black/ ethnic hair does grow. They think you are either born with the "long hair gene" or you're not, when in fact, pretty much everyone is born with the capability to grow long hair. So again the first tip is to do research and gather information, you know, be in the know about how to take care of your hair.


2. Minimize your use of heat. There are 2 kinds of heat used on hair; direct and indirect. Direct heat as the name suggests, describes the act of applying heat straight to the strands such as by using a blow dryer, a flat iron or curling tongs. Indirect heat on the other hand is less harsh and includes your bonnet dryers.  Many long-haired ladies like Rachel and PrettyWitty don't use direct heat at all.

Heat can definitely be the enemy of long hair if overused. I recommend using heat only on freshly washed (and deep conditioned hair!) once per week, but the less you use it the better. Indirect heat on the other hand may be used more frequently with less damage but again I recommend using your discretion and always, always use a heat protectant.

3. Deep conditioning (with heat). This is a step that I have never skipped on wash day! There are 2 main types of deep conditioners - moisture-based and protein-based treatments, both of which play a role in your healthy hair regimen. Moisture provides the hair with elasticity, allowing it to endure manipulation, while protein provides strength and structure. Depending on how your hair is feeling on wash day, you should be employing one or both into your routine. Good moisture-based products have water (aqua) as the first ingredient, examples of which are Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose, L'Oreal Power Moisture Rush and Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner, of course there are lots more. Protein-based conditioners will usually be described as repairing, strengthening, anti-breakage or some other synonym. Some good ones I've tried are ORS Replenishing Conditioner along with their Hair Mayonnaise, and Profectiv Mega Growth deep conditioner. For a more potent product, check out Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor or their 2 Step protein treatment.
deep conditioning with heat

4. Protective and/or low manipulation styles. These are styles which keep your hair hidden and the ends of your hair protected. Leaving your hair alone can do wonders for length retention. You can either do long-term styles like wigs, weaves, braids with extensions or short-term styles like buns, faux bobs, twists, cornrows etc. Since being in Jamaica, whenever I install a long-term style, people (my sisters lol) be like "now why you wanna go an' do dat love" (in the words of T.I. lol). But they don't understand just how beneficial those few weeks are for my strands.
Long-term P.S. - Senegalese Twists

Short-term P.S. - Top Knot

5. Detangling. Combing your hair should be done with the utmost care. Never use a fine tooth/ rat tail comb to detangle. If you must use one, for example when doing roller sets, ensure you do so only after your hair has been combed through with a wide tooth comb, a paddle brush or a similar tool. You may also skip the tools and detangle solely with your fingers. We never want to see small, broken hairs on the back of our blouses, in the bathroom sink or on the floor (only longer hairs in our comb or brush, which usually indicates shedding, not breakage, which is normal). Conditioning and proper detangling should eliminate this. Also, don't drag the comb through your strands! Start from the ends of your hair and work your way up to the root.
Proper detangling technique

6. My final tip is for ladies who relax their hair. Stretch your relaxers!!! Relaxing your hair every 4 - 6 weeks is not the bizniz!!! You should wait at least 12 weeks before you relax, 16 weeks is even better. This is so because hair grows on average 1/2 inch per month. In 12 weeks you would have roughly an inch and a half and in 16 weeks, 2 inches. At this point it is easy to apply the crème to your new growth without overlapping i.e. applying it to previously processed hair, which should never ever be done (unless doing a corrective relaxer). Additionally, If you can handle it, try not to relax bone straight. Hair that is texlaxed (not pin straight) has more elasticity and is better able to withstand manipulation.
Stretching my relaxer - 2+ inches of new growth

 Retaining length is basically avoiding breakage.
  • Heat dries out the hair and causes breakage. Avoid it.
  • Deep conditioning provides moisture & strength thus reducing breakage. Do it.
  • Touching the hair too much causes the hair to break. Protective (& low manipulation) styling allow you to leave your hair alone. Make use of it.
  • Detangling the wrong way & with the wrong tools will break your hair all the way off. Proper detangling will allow you to keep your strands on your head. Execute it.
  • Over-processing with a relaxer (and permanent color) leads to weakened hair that breaks. A regimen which involves stretching your relaxers will prevent this. Implement it.

These in my opinion, are the basic steps to take when attempting to grow out your hair. Execute these, and you are bound to see progress.
Anything you'd like to add to this list?


  1. You have hit the nail on the head on all the tips. Thanks for reminding some of us to protective style often so that we can leave the hair alone for a few weeks.

  2. great tips, as always.
    i'm trying really hard not to use heat for the next little while.
    i'm currently sporting senegalese twists in an attempt, haha.


    1. thanks.
      Yay you!
      Will I be seeing it on the blog? I'd love to!

  3. Yay, Abbi, luv these tips! :-) I'll definitely bear these in mind, I'm getting ready to get my growth and length retention in high gear for the next few months. Thanks for featuring my pic! Feel so Specialz!

    1. Thanks Rachel!
      Girl you been growing & retaining!! hahah
      My pleasure. You have done really well and it should be recognized.


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