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April 22, 2013

Natural Hair Not Growing? - Examine Your Regimen.


by Alicia James of AliciaJames.com

"Why Is My Hair Not Growing? - How I Examine My Regimen"

The good news is... your hair is more than likely growing, unless there is some underlying medical condition. If so, seek medical advice.

The bad news is… your hair may be breaking off as fast as it is growing.

Why?

There are so many reasons why you are not retaining length, or your hair is breaking.

My journey has not been perfect, there were times when I felt like my hair was breaking, and I was not retaining the length that I wanted to retain. Below is the method I created to examine my hair regimen.

Know Your Porosity:

How does your hair absorb moisture? Is your product just sitting on top of your hair? Is your hair just soaking up moisture as fast as you add it? Are you able to get moisture into the hair?

This just became really important to me. I never knew how important it was, until I tested my porosity, and was able to truly understand how my hair absorbs and retains moisture.

I have low porosity hair: This means that my hair cuticles are closed tightly, and it makes it harder for moisture to get in. Products and moisture can sit on top of the hair instead of being absorbed. I always wondered why my hair took 24 hours to completely dry. This is also why my hair started to retain length once I started doing consistent deep conditioning/hot oil treatments. I use heat for my treatments, and heat helps to open the hair cuticles so that it absorbs the moisture and product. Find out your porosity, HERE.

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Moisturizing:

How often do you moisturize your hair? How often do you NEED to moisturize your hair? What do you use to moisturize your hair? How do you seal in moisture?

So, again porosity is going to be important when determining how you moisturize and seal. For years before I knew my porosity, I found myself moisturizing every day. I would spritz my hair with water and then seal with an oil or a leave in. Now that I know my porosity I limit moisturizing to only 1-2 times a week. What I have found is that my hair stays clean and my styles last longer. I never understood why my hair got weighed down so fast until I learned that I had low porosity hair, and most of the product I was adding daily was just sitting on top of my hair. If you have high porosity hair, you are going to find yourself needing to moisturize a little more, but also layering on thicker products to seal that moisture in.

Products:

What products could be affecting your hair? (make a list of the products you are currently using)Have you changed products recently? Are you using any chemicals including color, relaxers, etc.? How effective are your products?

When it comes to products, I always try to keep it simple. This way, I always know what could be affecting my hair. When I switched products once in my journey for about a few months, I instantly noticed a difference. My hair was a lot drier than normal, and harder to detangle on wash day. I instantly switched back to my normal products. I don’t use any chemical on my hair, because due to past experience my hair broke off, and I was not able to retain length.

Styling:

How often are you styling? What kind of styling are you doing? What kind of styling tools do you use, heat, wide tooth comb, brush, etc. Do you use heat? How often? How do you protect your hair during heat styling?

When it comes to styling for me low manipulation and protective styling is key. After my second year and into my third year I wore mostly two strand twist. I am not saying you have to wear twist to retain length, but it was something that kept me disciplined and really kept my hands out of my hair. It was also helpful for those times I didn’t know what to do with my hair. I was able to retain the most length during this time in my journey.

When it comes to combing, I do like to finger comb. I find that I lose less hair during the process, but after finger combing I like to use a wide tooth comb to smooth the hair down. I always detangle my curly hair when it is wet only. Detangling is very important when trying to retain length, because that is when a lot of naturals lose, break, or rip out their hair. I do use heat on my hair, but my normal regimen is only once a month. I blow dry my hair as a normal part of my regimen. I’ve only flat ironed my hair once during my natural hair journey, but maybe more in the future. Using heat makes my hair more manageable for my lifestyle, and I love it, but I do understand the risk that comes with the use of heat. I always blow dry my hair when it is freshly washed. I do a deep conditioning/hot oil treatment adding moisture into the hair, because heat pulls out moisture. I also do a protein treatment to strengthen the strands of my hair.

Washing:

How often do you wash your hair? How often do you NEED to wash your hair? Do you use shampoo? How does the shampoo affect your hair? Do you co wash? How does co washing affect your hair?

I cleanse my hair every 2-4 weeks. In the beginning it was weekly, but the longer my hair has gotten and the further I am in my journey, certain things in my regimen have changed. In the beginning it was more about following a routine, because I was looking for certain results. Now, it is more about doing only what I need, so that it does not become overwhelming. I use to conditioner wash, when I was washing weekly. Now, that I wait so long in between washes, I feel my hair benefits more from a good shampoo. I find now that my hair does not feel dry and brittle after a shampoo. I also make sure to mix in a little conditioner during the shampoo. After my shampoo I do my deep conditioning/hot oil treatments. This adds back any moisture that was lost during my shampoo process. When my hair is not properly shampooed and cleansed it starts to feel rough, and styling is almost impossible. These are things that can lead to breakage.

Conditioning:

Do you condition your hair? What type of conditioner do you use? Do you deep condition your hair? How does your hair feel after your conditioning routine? How often are you conditioning your hair?

Conditioning is a must for me. I ALWAYS do a deep conditioning after I shampoo or wash my hair. Deep conditioning over time has made my hair soft, manageable, and also has given my hair a beautiful shine. I use a moisturizing conditioner, Herbal Essence. There are also conditioners that have protein if you need it, which would be great for high porosity hair. For my deep conditioning I use my regular rinse out conditioner, Herbal Essence Hello Hydration, and I mix it with my extra virgin olive oil. Then I sit under the dryer with a plastic cap/bag on for about 15-30 minutes. Conditioning is very important to my hair regimen. It refreshes and strengthens the oldest part of the hair and also minimizes breakage and excessive shedding.

Trimming:

Do you trim your hair? Do you do your own trimming or do you go to a professional? How much are you trimming? How often are you trimming? What are you trimming your hair with? Why do you trim your hair? How do you know your hair needs to be trimmed?

Trimming for me is Important, especially because I use heat regularly in my regimen. Heat can dry out and cause split ends. My ends are not horrible, but I like to make sure I take care of them. I trim my own ends with hair shears. It is important to not cut with regular scissors, because they are usually dull and can cause more damage to the ends of your hair. I trim my hair every 6 months, so that is usually about twice a year. I only trim when needed. My hair grows about ½ an inch a month, so trimming monthly would definitely be an issue for length retention. I usually trim about ½ - 2 inches of hair. I know that my ends need trimming when they start to feel rough or I notice more shedding than usual.

FINAL NOTES:

Make sure to check every part of your regimen. Ask yourself questions to figure out how the different processes benefit or hurt the health of your hair. You are basically dissecting your regimen to find and figure out what is and isn’t working for your hair care regimen. You can create your own questions or use the ones above from my process. Again these are the things that I do to improve and stay consistent with my hair care. This comes in handy when you are noticing changes with your hair, breakage, etc.

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