I was on a natural hair forum a few days ago, and a naturalista was looking for suggestions to try to pin point why her hair wasn’t growing beyond a certain length. Even though I didn’t have a vivid answer at the moment to suggest I sat and thought about a few things that could possibly contribute to the dormancy in length retention. There are a myriad of reasons that could lead to length stagnation, but I want to talk about a few that aren’t really highlighted on the daily.
I recently had a hair episode where I noticed that my ends were very weak and wispy, and I started to freak out because as you know if your ends are constantly breaking you won’t retain much length. I did some damage control by snipping those ends off and doing a protein treatment to strengthen my curls. After doing some review of my hair regimen over the past few months I realized that the problem was my negligence in keeping up with my trimming and protein treatments. And this brings me to my first point:
- The longer your hair gets, the more protein it requires.
As the hair grows longer the cuticle which is the protective layer of the strand gets worn down due to manipulation and other environmental factors (sun, humidity, cold, etc) thus as time goes by it will need to be strengthened to withstand breakage. Lack of protein is a very common way to cause breakage because the protein-moisture balance will be off, and as the hair grows out it will become weaker. If you take a section of your hair and run your fingers down the length of it you will notice that the section grows thinner as you approach the ends, and I refer to this thinning as cuticle degeneration. The ends of your hair will be thinner because they have been around for the longest period of time thus it has been through the most abuse as a result of combing and styling.
That is why it is very important to maintain a schedule of protein treatments that will help to maintain a strength to moisture balance in the strands. One thing to note is that no amount of protein treatments will keep your ends around forever and that’s where trimming comes into play. The ends of the hair will always need trimming as they grow older, but protein treatments will help to keep your hair around for a longer period of time.
As my hair grows longer I will adjust my protein treatments to fit my hair’s needs. As of right now I’m aiming to do a light-medium protein treatment every 3 weeks to keep my hair strong and flourishing. How often you do those treatments depend on your hair, so assess your curls to find out its needs.
I think that the role that one’s diet play in hair growth isn’t emphasized enough, and personally I think it plays a crucial role in the state of the hair. Well you have the few anomalies where women grow ridiculously long hair but do not even think about eating healthy, but for the average person what you put inside your body shows on the outside. There are a few specific vitamins and minerals (All vitamins play a role in hair growth) that have a direct correlation on hair growth such as biotin, iron, zinc, vitamin D, etc, and deficiency in those vitamins/minerals can result in hair loss/shedding and slowed hair growth.
Getting the necessary amount of water and vitamins/minerals on a daily basis can help to jumpstart your scalp and hair follicles, and if you somehow cannot get all your daily dose of vitamins then I would suggest using a multi-vitamin (Check with your doctor for any diet changes).
3. Protect your ends
Like I mentioned before the ends of our hair is the most fragile therefore it’s imperative for us to protect them by moisturizing and oiling them. One of my favorite ways of keeping my ends healthy is to moisturize them using water and a leave in conditioner then follow up with an oil mix to keep that moisture locked in. I repeat this process every 1-2 days depending on how my hair is feeling, and I find that this consistency has helped my hair a lot.
The other thing to do is to always protect your ends from drying materials such as cotton. One common reason why many naturalists get stuck at shoulder length is because their hair rubs on their clothing and breaks at a rapid rate resulting in stagnant hair. As soon as you get to a length where your hair falls on your clothes then it will be harder to get beyond that length if you do not utilize protective styles from time to time. Try not to wear your hair down everyday (if you’re at such length) to decrease breakage and increase length retention.
As an individual grows older the structure, strength, growth rate, and thickness of the hair changes. These changes vary with each person, and what might happen to one individual may not happen to the other. Over a period of a lifetime the hair and scalp would go through a series of manipulation, styling, and/or chemical/mechanical damage. Changes varies for each person because it is based on genetics and how well you treat your hair. So basically if you have a history of relaxers, color treatments, and other chemical treatments chances are as you get older you will suffer hair loss, hair thinning, etc. The same could be said if you have inherited say some sort of alopecia as this would result in hair loss as well.
The changes in your hormones as you grow older can affect your hair growth rate as well as hormones regulate many of functions within the body. So as you grow older and your body produces less estrogen the growth cycles slows down along with that.
Before I delve into the point I must say that trimming the hair is very necessary! Why? As I have mentioned plenty times throughout the article the ends of our hair gets old, beaten down, worn out, and damaged the longer it stays around, so when it’s time for it to go we must let it go. When damaged ends aren’t cut they stick around and keep breaking, so as your new growth come in the ends keep breaking which of course means your hair will stay at the same length. Fresh ends will stay around longer therefore as your new growth come in you will see your hair getting longer over time.
So please ladies don’t be afraid to get rid of dead ends because in the long run your hair will be better off for it.
So if you’re asking yourself ‘why won’t my hair grow past a certain length’ then hopefully you can benefit from these tips.
What is your take on rectifying stagnant hair growth?