September 23, 2014

5 Reasons You're Not Retaining Length

by Toia B of LuvToBNatural

Have you ever felt like your hair growth has come to complete halt? Many of us have gone through this at one time or another in our natural hair journey. The fact is, your hair is always growing but you may not be retaining what’s grown. In other words, just as fast as it grows, it breaks, creating the illusion of stunted growth.

Here are five things to consider:

Lack of Moisture
Because our strands have twists, bends and curls, it’s much harder for the natural oil, sebum, to travel the entire length of the hair shaft from root to tip than it would for someone with naturally straight hair. So we need some help. On wash day, while my hair is slightly damp, I apply a leave-in then an oil or butter to seal that all in, giving special attention to the ends (since it’s the oldest part of the hair). I repeat every few days as necessary, especially if I’m wearing my hair out. Hair that is properly moisturized will have a nice elasticity to it and will be less likely to break, thereby allowing you to retain what you grow. Those whose hair may have low porosity may need extra help with steam or products that will help open up the cuticle to allow moisture in.

Poor Diet
Moisturizing your hair also includes water… as in drinking it. Are you drinking your water? Hmmm?! This is probably one of the first questions I ask women who complain about growth. It all begins on the inside. Garbage in, garbage out. If you eat nothing but junk, your hair/scalp is gonna reflect that. Water plus a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables will help your hair to thrive.

Improper Use/ Overuse of Heat
Too much heat leads to dryness, dryness leads to breakage. I enjoy a blow-out myself but limit it to every two weeks at most. When using heat, be sure to use a tool that has adjustable heat settings (get that hot comb off the stove!) and always use some type of heat protectant so as not to over-dry the hair. Avocado and grapeseed oils are great natural heat protectants due to their high smoke points and will create a nice barrier between the styler and your hair.

Is your hand always in your hair? STOP IT! I say that with love. Over-manipulation, as I’m using it here, includes everything from combing to brushing to hand-in-hair syndrome. The less you manipulate or touch your hair in any way, the better. Wanna extend that twist-out? Instead of re-twisting every single night, try “pineappling” it (think Sideshow Bob) or gently twisting the hair in larger sections than you started with. This will cause less stress to the strands and give the hair less opportunity to break. Protective styles, pretty much any style that tucks away your ends and requires little to no manipulation, are a huge help with this. They help retain the hair you grow, not make your hair grow.

Funny story (kinda): I had a friend who was baffled at the fact that the hair one side of her head was so much shorter than the other. Come to find out, she had the constant habit of nervously fiddling with the hair on that side and it was breaking without her even realizing. Leave your hair alone!

Not Wrapping it At Night
…with a satin, silk or some sort of non-cotton material scarf. Sleeping on a satin pillowcase also does the trick if you hate sleeping with a wrapped head. You may think your pillowcase is harmless but those fine weaves can snag and pull at your hair, PLUS, the cotton will suck the moisture right out of it. And what did we already say about moisture or the lack thereof? Precisely!

So, is your hair growth seemingly at a standstill? I challenge you to take a good, long, hard look at your current regimen to see if there is anything you could be doing better.

If you have found yourself at this point and managed to dig your way out, share what things you changed in your routine to nurse your hair back to health! I’m sure you have some tips of your own so go ahead and chime in below!

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