Dear ZedHair, Why Doesn’t My Hair Grow?

Dear ZedHair,

I have very kinky short hair that does not seem to grow. I also have a depleted hair-line. Can you help?

 The black hair industry is booming. There are a plethora of hair products on the market, but the most popular are always the ones that promise you long, luscious, flowing locks that billow in the wind; all you have to do is apply and watch it thrive. We’ve all tried them; tingly creams, jellies with herbal bits in them, products with names like ‘SupaGrow’ and Miracle Length’. The thing is they don’t work. Half finished containers stand abandoned on our dressing tables as we reach for the wig until the next miracle concoction comes on the market.

Is it any surprise then that while we are sitting around under wigs waiting for that sensational product our hair lines are depleting? The hair companies have sold us the lie that Zambian (indeed African) hair will only grow past a certain length if we use their products.

Here’s the truth. THERE IS NO HOLY GRAIL! I can’t emphasise that enough. There is no single product that will make your hair grow. You can keep spending money on creams that make claims that are too good to be true or you can read on and find out what really works.

There are a number of factors that determine your growth rate;

  • Genetics

I won’t go into too much detail but suffice to say that on average our hair grows about 15cm a year. Hair grows in cycles and the amount of time your hair spends in the ‘active’ growth phase is determined by your DNA. If you would like to find out more please watch Green Beauty’s series of very informative videos on this topic.

  • Hormones

Hair growth can be affected by hormonal changes such as pregnancy. The growth rate tends to increase while you are pregnant and shedding may then occur after giving birth.

  • Diet and exercise

I’m almost certain you’ve never gone to a beauty salon, asked for hair growth tips and been told to head for the gym, but what you put in your body and how healthy you are have a significant impact on the rate at which you hair grows. Nutrients from food reach the hair and nails last, if you don’t eat enough healthy food or drink plenty of water then you will be depriving your strands. Exercise increases blood circulation which in turn stimulates growth.

We’ve establish that hair growth is pretty constant. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have needed to retouch your hair quite so often when it was relaxed. So why does it seem as though your hair is not growing?

Breakage

The number one reason that black hair growth is stunted is because it is extremely susceptible to breakage. If you have been following ZedHair for any significant amount of time you will notice that a recurring theme is how to ensure your hair does not break. Unfortunately a lot of the practices we frequently undertake are very damaging to our hair.

  • Rough handling

 Try to be as gentle as possible with your hair. Avoid handling it while it is completely dry, this includes styling and combing. A lot of women with natural hair, including myself, use only fingers to de-tangle their hair and minimise breakage. If you must use tools a wide toothed comb, on hair saturated with conditioner from tip to root, is best for de-tangling.

widetoothcomb

  • Use of excessive heat

 Heat can permanently alter the state of our hair and lead to breakage. Try using the tension blow dry method and ALWAYS use a heat protectant.

  • Constant manipulation and not protecting your ends

 Our hair likes to be left alone. Please note, I did not say forgotten but left alone. Handling hair as little as possible so that there is less chance of breakage is known as low manipulation styling. The ends of our hair are the oldest and need the gentlest treatment. Plaiting, both with our own hair and extensions, is called protective styling because it allows our ends to be tucked away from manipulation and the elements. Plaiting will be counter productive if we do not continue to maintain our hair while it is tucked away.

Roll, Tuck and Pin Series : Textured Crown.

Twist as well as Roll Tuck and Pin styles are great protective styles.

Buns are low manipulation protective styles because they are easy to do and your ends are tucked away.

Buns are low manipulation protective styles because they are easy to do and your ends are tucked away.

  • Moisturising and conditioning

 There are many posts on this blog discussing the need for a consistent moisturising and conditioning routine. This is because your hair needs to have elasticity. It should be malleable yet strong and able to withstand a certain level of manipulation. I said no single product makes your hair grow, but they can help. The right products will help you clarify, condition, moisturise and seal the hair so that it is able to flourish, the way that you handle this process will determine how much hair you lose.

Shrinkage

Our hair can shrink up to 80% of its actual length. You will probably notice that your hair has grown bigger before you realise it’s actually longer.

This was my hair in a stretched state in March 2012

This was my hair in a stretched state in March 2012

This is the same hairstyle in January 2014 almost two years later. My hair doesn't look that much longer but it is definitely much fuller.

This is the same hairstyle in January 2014 almost two years later. My hair doesn’t look that much longer but it is definitely much fuller.

Patience

It’s easy to get disheartened. You see all these pictures of women with beautiful big Afros and wonder why yours isn’t growing. Reality check! It took those women years of careful handling to achieve that level of length retention. Rather than spending time being envious love your hair as it is and you’ll be surprised at your results. Keep a picture diary if you can, it makes it easier to appreciate how far you’ve come.

August 2011 the beginning

This was August 2011, not long after my big chop.

This is me now February 2014 about 2 and a half years later. Its easy to see people with long hair and feel envious but then I look at how in what feels like a very short space of time.

This is me now February 2014 about 2 and a half years later.

But what about my hairline?

 Everything I’ve mentioned above also applies to your hairline. When it comes to hair lines the secret is pre-emptive action. Treat your hairline with care; avoid hairstyles that are too tight. There is no wig, weave or extension that is worth losing your hair over.

Some women have experienced success with scalp massages. This is when you massage the area with an oil to stimulate growth. In this case it is not necessarily the type of oil you use but the act of gently rubbing that increases circulation and could promote growth. Any natural carrier oils such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil or Jojoba Oil can be used. If you are into aromatherapy essential oils such as Ylang Ylang, Cedarwood and Rosemary can be mixed with the carrier oils to increase efficacy.

If you find that your hairline or other bald patch is not responding to these simple methods you may need to consider seeking professional opinion as a receding hairline can be caused by other medical conditions.

This may seem like a lot of work for some but once you have grasped the basics it will all become second nature and you know what they say, ‘anything worth having is worth working for’. All the best with your hair journey!

Do you have a question about natural hair care? Send an email to mwanabibi@zedhair.com

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7 responses to “Dear ZedHair, Why Doesn’t My Hair Grow?

  1. Pingback: Dear ZedHair, What are your Top 5 Tips for Healthy Natural Hair? | ZedHair·

  2. Pingback: Dear ZedHair, Is wearing a wig bad for my hair? | ZedHair·

  3. I’ve previously read articles on hair, never have I read such a real and poignant article! Beautiful article and great advice! 🙂

    Like

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